John Henderson: Three years on, Rosie (and baby Ronnie) see plaque for street bookseller

He sold books in West End Lane for 20 years

Friday, 1st July — By Tom Foot


Rosie and Ronnie in West End Lane

THE daughter of a street bookseller and her newborn baby boy have put up a new plaque on the bridge where he sat for 20 years – on the third anniversary of his death.

It was an emotional return to West Hampstead for Roșie Henderson-McGirr, and little Ronnie, who had not been to the West End Lane bridge, West Hampstead, since John Henderson died in 2019.

John’s trusty ally on the bridge was his three-legged staffie, Sugar, who was recognised after its death with a community blue plaque to “the soul of West Hampstead” and “book girl who lived here with her dad John”.

This week, Rosie said: “My plan is to take Ronnie up to this plaque every year and get a photo.

“I want to keep dad’s memory to be part of my little boy’s life. I want to see the memory grow.”

John Henderson and his dog, Sugar

Shortly after her father’s death, in a bittersweet reunion on the bridge, Rosie had met for the first time since childhood a long lost half-brother.

The new plaque for “John the Book Man” has been organised by West Hampstead residents including Natasha Back and Jill Henry, who have kept in touch with Rosie since 2019.

Ms Henry said: “I promised Rosie after John’s wake that I would sort a plaque to be positioned aside Sugar’s.

“We had intended to do this for John’s first year anniversary but could not do so because of Covid restrictions.”

She added: “Rosie came with her almost three-week-old baby, John’s grandson, to put his memorial plaque in pride of place.”

Rosie on the bridge three years ago

Mr Henderson, who lived in Kilburn and went by the nickname Spider, was found dead in the Black Path alleyway in May 2019.

Despite his battle with addiction, Mr Henderson was much loved by most in NW6 and took a keen interest in the lives of passers-by.

More than 100 people attended a community funeral in Emmanuel Church and white doves were released from West End Green.

During the lockdown, a row broke out after a large mural of him and his dog appeared on the bridge without planning permission.

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