In the heart of Metroland, Pinner is perhaps an archetype of suburbia: the kind of suburbia that gives meat to sitcoms (May To December and One Foot In The Grave were both set here), that endless urban sprawl of seeming blandness, identikit family homes, and convenient rail connections to the City.
Yet Pinner is actually far from heartless. Rather, it’s an ancient settlement that, though swallowed up by London in the 30’s, has managed to retain a twee charm, and even the occasional touch of elegance. As such, it’s been home to a disproportionate number of classic British celebrities: Elton John, Ronnie Barker, Bob “007” Holness, Patrick Moore, Heath Robinson and Mrs Beeton. No doubt these individuals would have been happy enough in today’s High Street – this little strip of wide road leading up to the church and green (while not home to any charity shops, more’s the pity) is bounded by any number of cute boutiques and restaurants.
The aforementioned urban sprawl is evident in the extension of the original high street’s shopping facilities along Bridge Street, as well as a large Sainsburys next to the all important Metropolitan Line station. Along these lanes then are found the charity shops that make Pinner worth a visit.
I count six here. Three are fairly ordinary. A standard Cancer Research, a small Mencap and RSPCA, are complemented by three excellent siblings, making Pinner well worth a jaunt. Next to the RSPCA, Barnardos have a large shop with a decent bookshop section. I left with Massive Attack‘s Mezzanine (this is why I love shopping secondhand, I’m catching up on all those records and books that I always meant to listen to, or read, but never quite got around to at the time). Turn right from Love Lane up to St. Lukes Hospice, a hangar of a shop with another decent book section. In fact, I didn’t really get past this because by the time I was finished in that alcove, I was already carrying more books (at 99p each, how could I not?) than I could reasonably expect to carry back to the car: two hardback editions by T.E. Lawrence (of “of Arabia” fame) and a set of world-spanning history books.
Then over the road, a magnificently chaotic Oxfam was the pick of the bunch – while Oxfam is never the cheapest option, this one was decent value, and stocked with all sorts of interesting bits and pieces – my companion ummed and aahed over a very nice coat, tat lay happily strewn around, and I emerged somehow carrying more books – Freakonomics, conversations with Vaclav Havel, and a Graham Greene. Success!
I liked the place a great deal and am mulling. How many points? Four out of five, you think? I’ll probably aim higher, on the basis that the caf where we had lunch, staffed by mysteriously vagrant school-age students, was probably not the best thing on offer.
Find: Pinner on Google Maps
Transport: Pinner station, Metropolitan line
Consume with: a hilariously literal rice and peas dish from Paphos Diner
Visit: Pinner Fair
Overall rating: five copies of Cloud Atlas