Rosie and Ronnie in West End Lane
A street bookseller’s daughter and her newborn baby boy have put 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 West End Lane Bridge, West Hampstead, since John Henderson died in 2019.
John’s staunch ally on the bridge was his three-legged employee, Sugar, who was recognized after his death with a community blue plaque to ‘the soul of West Hampstead’ and ‘the book girl who lived here with her father John”.
This week Rosie said: ‘My plan is to take Ronnie up to this plaque every year and take a picture.
“I want 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, at a bittersweet meeting on the bridge, Rosie had met a long-lost half-brother for the first time since childhood.
The new plaque for ‘John the Book Man’ was curated by West Hampstead residents including Natasha Back and Jill Henry, who have stayed in touch with Rosie since 2019.
Ms Henry said: ‘I promised Rosie after John’s wake that I would sort out a plaque to put next to Sugar’s.
“We were planning to do this for John’s first birthday but weren’t able to due to Covid restrictions.”
She added: “Rosie came with her almost three week old baby, John’s grandson, to put his memorial plaque in the spotlight.”
Rosie on the bridge three years ago
Mr Henderson, who lived in Kilburn and was nicknamed Spider, was found dead in Black Path Lane in May 2019.
Despite his struggle with addiction, Mr. Henderson was well-liked by most NW6 residents and took a keen interest in the lives of passers-by.
Over 100 people attended a community funeral at Emmanuel Church and white doves were released from West End Green.
During the lockdown, an argument broke out after a large mural of him and his dog appeared on the bridge without planning permission.