Merle’s new marvel in South Kilburn

Well-known South Kilburn resident Merle Barriteau opened a new development named in her honour today to recognise more than four decades of work in the community.

Called Merle Court, the development has been built by Catalyst Housing in partnership with Willmott Dixon and Brent Council. It will provide 50 new homes for rent and shared ownership as part of the regeneration of South Kilburn in West London.

After moving to the area, Mrs Barriteau soon became known for her cooking skills when she set up a small kitchen in a local youth centre called the Granville Centre to make inexpensive tasty meals for the youngsters there.

Over the years, generations of local people have grown up with Merle’s cooking to make her a well-known local figure. She also once helped set up a South Kilburn Festival and is an active member of a Notting Hill Carnival performing group.
Mrs Barriteau unveiled a plaque at the opening of the development with Ros Dunn, Independent Chair for the South Kilburn Neighbourhood Trust. Nowadays, she spends much of her time cooking for and visiting elderly people in homes and hospitals in the area. Visiting the sick is particularly close to her heart as her son Carl died of cancer five years ago.

Merle was also on hand to celebrate the opening by cutting a cake with Catalyst Housing chief executive Rod Cahill and Willmott Dixon managing director Tim Carpenter.

On opening Merle Court, Mrs Barriteau said:

“I am thrilled to get an honour like this. I am so proud that my work will be recognised in a building named after me.

“I see generations of people now in their 30s, whom I have seen growing up and have their own children. We have that bond and when I see them we greet and hug.

“The area is changing a lot for the better. There are a lot of hopeful signs for the future and I’m hoping and praying that South Kilburn is going to get better and better.”

Catalyst Housing chief executive Rod Cahill said:

“We are proud to be part of the regeneration of South Kilburn and it is great to be able to recognise the work of local people such as Merle.

“Working with the community is going to be a vital part of our work on this regeneration. Our charitable arm Catalyst Gateway will actively support local people with community activities, training and job opportunities.”

Tim Carpenter, managing director at Willmott Dixon said:

“Merle Court is the latest way we are helping to improve and change the face of South Kilburn with our partner Catalyst and, while we help build and regenerate communities, it’s also important to focus on the legacy we leave South Kilburn.

“We have an active programme to get involved with local projects that benefit residents and do our best to promote a local spend approach with companies in the area.”