At long last, the sculpture commissioned from Conrad Shawcross to replace the stolen Barbara Hepworth bronze statue ‘Divided Circle’ has been installed in Dulwich Park and Trevor Moore reports on the ceremony in this issue. Like its predecessor, the new work will undoubtedly attract both praise and criticism. In time it will be accepted as a key element in this truly remarkable park, reborn following a long period of decline. Perhaps the most important change was to ban traffic in the park by providing a dedicated car park in the former grounds of the maintenance department.
Now that Thames Water has virtually departed, the vistas have returned, the play areas regained once again. Rosebery Lodge, now leased by the Dulwich Society for occasional exhibitions and meetings is also being extensively used by the U3A and as a base for the Dulwich Vegetable garden. The ‘village copse’ has matured and a tree has been planted nearby in memory of Stella Benwell who had such an influence on Dulwich Park's redesign.
During the consultation in the aftermath of the Hepworth robbery, when it became clear that a substantial sum would be available from the insurers, a number of varying proposals were made with how to spend it. Although the majority opinion was to replace the Hepworth with another piece of art, one of the suggestions which attracted a great deal of support was for a bandstand.
What form a bandstand might take, whether it would be a Victorian style one to reflect the park’s heritage, or a more modern design was not discussed. Certainly a bandstand would be a great asset; if there is one thing the park actually lacks, except during the Dulwich Festival, is any form of entertainment. Older residents will recall that the field where two of the three Shawcross installations are sited was actually called the bandstand field and during and after WW2 a prefabricated bandstand indeed stood there.
Bandstands exist in several other local parks and concerts are successfully held in them. There is a demand for various kinds of music: choirs, brass, ukulele and so on to add yet another dimension to the facilities in Dulwich Park. Perhaps the suggestion should be revisited.
Dulwich Village is having a serious problem with its iconic horse chestnut trees. It is thought that the tradition of planting this species along the broad former high street dates back the early 18th century. Of course trees do not live for ever, and over the years some of the majestic specimens have succumbed to old age and been replaced. Recently however, a disease has struck some of the remaining large specimens and two of the most prominent have been identified as diseased with trunks hollowed out. By the time this issue is printed, they may already have been felled. The plan was to replace them with London Plane, an equally large but arguably, not such a showy tree. However, following intervention by local residents, Copper Beech has been agreed.
It is proposed that the issue of street and garden trees will be discussed at a public meeting convened by the Dulwich Society in due course.
An alternative solution to the contentious Townley Road/East Dulwich Grove junction was agreed at the Dulwich community Council meeting on 17 March with the proviso that there would be a monitoring regime to check its effectiveness. The weekend before, the Society hosted a well-attended public meeting on Southwark’s cycling strategy and its potential impact on the Dulwich area. Unfortunately a follow up meeting with Councillor Mark Williams, the Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, planned for April, had to be postponed because of the general election. The Society is keen to impress on the Council that a positive approach to public engagement is required and that, while residents appreciate the political impetus behind improvements for cyclists, other road users, and pedestrians, have also to be considered
The proposed one hour limit for parking in Dulwich Village is on hold. It seems that this policy which was to be introduced in all shopping areas in Southwark is being reconsidered after a large number of objections from both traders and residents. The Society still feels that it would be of benefit in Dulwich - anecdotal evidence suggest that a large number of the parking spaces in the Village are taken by the traders themselves or teachers, this cannot be good for local businesses, not all residents live in the village and can walk to the shops.
The Society has also been active in supporting the objectors to the proposed mobile phone mast on the corner of Half Moon Lane and Village Way, which was rejected by the Council. The planning application for the new Herne Hill Velodrome Grandstand is currently being considered by Southwark and there were public consultations over Southwark’s proposal to convert Holmhurst, on the corner of Burbage Road and Half Moon Lane, into an adult residential care home run by the Optima group.
Depressingly, March and April saw four out of the five pubs on the Dulwich Estate closed - the Alleyn’s Head was the only pub where you could find a drink. The Dulwich Woodhouse was being refurbished; the Half Moon Hotel remains closed (though we understand that the Estate is talking to a potential pub operator) and we are still waiting to see redevelopment proposals for the Grove Tavern on Lordship Lane. Meanwhile work on the Crown and Greyhound continues - hopefully the bars will be open by Christmas.
On the other Dulwich’s Estate developments, the West Dairy site is moving forward and hopefully work will start on site in the late Autumn. On S G Smith former workshop, there is no news but recent English Heritage listing activity in Dulwich Village over the parish hall and the stone stocks plaque (see page 18) may delay it.
The Great Exhibition
Croquet in Dulwich
The new croquet season is upon us and Dulwich Croquet Club has invited Dulwich Society members to sample the sport.
Croquet has developed enormously in the last 20 years, and is not the game you may think you know: the modern game is fast, engaging, tactical, aggressive, and very sociable. Dulwich Croquet Club is at the Dulwich Sports Club, off Burbage Road, just by the railway bridge. It has three lawns, one of which is used all year round, and a membership which includes many casual weekend players but also includes some of the best in the UK, with several ranked in the top 100, and one of whom is in the world top 20. The club's first team are - for the second year running - national champions, and every year the club collects trophies at club and individual level in competitions across the country. A number of its members were recently out in New Zealand and Cairo competing in the world championships and the women's world championships. The club claims to have the best bar in South London!
Dulwich Croquet Club has arranged two sessions for Dulwich Society members: Thursday 11th June at noon and Sunday 14th June at 1 p.m. Its website is www.dulwichcroquet.com.
What’s in name?
Hillsboro Road, SE22
The road follows an old footpath connecting East Dulwich and the Village. It was also known as Hillsborough Road after Hillsborough House, a property in East Dulwich Grove. The builder of the first houses in the road, A S Cook, applied to the Metropolitan Board of Works for the street to be named with the shortened form of Hillsboro; this was approved on 1 August 1884 and appeared on the road signs. More recently these were amended to read Hillsborough. Recently, they have been replaced with ones bearing the original spelling.
Report of the Public Meeting 14 March
The Society’s Public Meeting on the subject of traffic on 14 March was attended by over 100 people. Ian McInnes, chair, and Sue Badman from the Turney Road Residents Association, gave a brief powerpoint introduction on Southwark’s plans for the cycling spine and quietways and also noted how schemes outside the area eg. the projected closure of roads through Loughborough Junction, which was not consulted on, would clearly impact on traffic in Dulwich. Sue also gave a brief report on the meeting between the TRRA and Southwark officers to discuss the implications of the projected quietways for Turney Road.
It is clear the Mayor wishes to leave a legacy of his time in office and it appears that things are being pushed through rapidly before he leaves office in April 2016. The Mayor’s cycling czar has come up with a route layout based on existing cycling preferences and the council is apparently working with that - both the quietways and cycling spine are seen as a done deal. There was confusion as to what exactly were the differences between the two denominations
It was also clear that the meeting thought that the current level of public consultation and engagement needed to be improved considerably. Hopefully there is room for compromise and it was felt important that we as a community come up with constructive comments and alternatives, given the political will behind the cycling improvements. The general feeling was that council officers did not actually appreciate the existing traffic pressures in the area e.g. Turney Road or Dovercourt Road where two cars cannot pass with the existing layout - let alone if parking was restricted and cycle ways introduced.
The implications for disabled/less mobile residents’ access to their cars and homes was discussed, and the point was made that there is more dependency on cars in Dulwich because of poor public transport particularly E/W cross-Dulwich routes.
On school travel, the meeting’s view was that the independent schools were not helping to look for solutions. Several people felt that coaches should be banned from going as far as the schools and instead park elsewhere (e.g. Belair, Dulwich parks) and children then walked from there. The chair mentioned arrangements at Dulwich Prep where there was an agreement with the Alleyns Head Pub whereby children are dropped there and then walked over to the school. A Safe Routes to School representative agreed to take the issue of coach parking elsewhere in Dulwich back to the group and investigate further. There was also support for mandatory provision of on-site parking for teachers and visitors (possibly underground) and that any new school building should address this problem properly and not just assume that there would be adequate spare parking on surrounding roads.
On the benefits of controlled parking outside the shops in Dulwich Village - some were concerned that it could lead to more parking in residential roads as many of the parking places are used by either teachers or workers in the local shops. There was some discussion on CPZ creep and that, as more and more streets became CPZs, the more others had to follow. On options for the projected CPZ in the North Dulwich Triangle, it appeared likely that most spaces would be for residents only (for which an annual charge would be made) with a small number of spaces for limited parking with timed controls e.g. at lunchtime thus not allowing all day parking. A point was raised over parkers phoning in to pay for their midday parking. Councillors present confirmed that there was no evidence of this in other parking zones.
Double yellow lines on new dropped kerbs received very mixed reviews, as there was concern that you would no longer be able to allow visitors to your house to park across the entrance. Enforcement of the new 20mph limit on Southwark roads was also queried - the police had confirmed that there would be some - most likely in targeted roads depending on collision statistics. Speed cameras will also be recalibrated at some point.
In summary all agreed that the area needs a holistic transport solution across Dulwich taking into account the needs of all road and pavement users. It should also include public transport and take account of the proposed new school on the Dulwich Hospital site and other schools nearby in Lambeth. The meeting agreed that parking provision cannot continue to be reduced without an impact on residents and shop traders. There needs to be a radical overhaul of parking provision and a better public engagement process across the community on cycling and other transport plans.
Loss of trees, Horse Chestnuts outside 95 & 97 Dulwich Village
Edwardian postcards confirm that these two massive horse chestnuts have been here for at least 150 years, if not longer. The Dulwich Estate has been monitoring their condition for some time and a recent resistograph inspection by Southwark Council has confirmed that they are largely hollow, and, given their location in the centre of Dulwich Village, they pose a potential danger to passing pedestrians.
The Dulwich Estate applied to Southwark on 26th March for permission to remove the trees and replace them with two 5m high plane trees. Following consultation with residents who live nearby, the propose replacements are now going to be Copper Beeches as being more appropriate to the location.
Proposed Mobile Phone Mast
It is some years since Dulwich saw a planning application to install a new mobile phone mast. The Society supported a large number of local residents who objected to a proposed new installation on the corner of Village Way and Half Moon Lane, less than 100metres from the new Judith Kerr Free School. Southwark’s policy is quite clear, Para 335 of the Southwark Plan says that all telecommunications equipment should be sited as far as practically possible away from educational and community uses.
The Council refused the application but one wonders why it was even registered. Surely officers know what the Southwark Plan says or were they, and the applicant, all unaware that the former Sir James Black Laboratories was now a primary school?
CPZs are coming
Residents in the North Dulwich Triangle are to be consulted over a controlled parking zone on their roads. A well-attended public meeting earlier in the year showed a high level of interest as residents are being affected by new CPZs in nearby roads in Lambeth. There will be two public consultations at the Methodist Church Hall, Half Moon Lane on Thursday 4 June (6-9pm) and Saturday 6 June (2-5pm)
Peter Lawson FRIBA, FCI.arb
As Peter steams towards his 100th decade, he stepped down at the April AGM as Vice President of the Dulwich Society. He is a founder member, attending the first committee meeting in 1964 which dealt with issues very familiar in Dulwich today - trees and parking. As a member of the planning sub-committee, his professional expertise as a chartered architect coupled with his knowledge of Dulwich has been of vital assistance for 50 years and which will continue to be made readily available.
Peter served as vice chairman for 25 years from 1968, and as acting chairman from 1968-70. He was elected vice president in 1989.
He had a distinguished career in practice, and a principal professional association with Michael Rosenauer designing the Time and Life Building at the corner of Bruton Street and New Bond Street (1952/53)
Patrick retired as Hon Secretary at the AGM. He claims he was rather more defeated by modern technology (not helped by the computer failing after a power surge over Easter), than a recent bout of ill health. Patrick initially joined the executive committee in 1990 as local history representative but taking over as the Society’s secretary in 1994. In this capacity he has been supremely efficient in dealing with the huge amount of correspondence generated with the raising of the Edward Alleyn statue in the grounds of the Old College in 2005, and more recently with the installation of the 12 memorials dedicated to Dulwich civilians killed in WW2.
Report from Wildlife Committee
We have three important local Green Spaces which are all sites “of interest for nature conservation”, although not technically categorized as such. All three of them have been dramatically affected by works of one kind or another. Two of these precious areas are much-loved local parks: Dulwich and Belair parks. Another one is a big section of Metropolitan Open Land, noted for its iconic mature field boundary trees, upon which a new nursery school has appeared.
Accordingly, our group have been monitoring all the things that have been happening upon our green spaces - both visible and below ground or water level. We have been taking expert advice on how we can restore the ecological value of these areas, going beyond the merely cosmetic patch and tidy-up. We want to hear from you if you are concerned about specific green areas which need to be restored or maintained in a special way.
We have liaised closely with other local groups, such as the Dulwich Park Friends and the London Wildlife Trust and the Friends of Belair Park, as well as Southwark Council who are keen on Green initiatives.
The bird population seems to be very healthy in our area - but its profile is changing and we need to keep tabs on how and why some species are declining, or moving geographically, while others are coming in. We heartily recommend all the nature study walks and talks being run on site throughout the area by the London Wildlife Trust. These cover every aspect of our local flora and fauna throughout the year, from birds and butterflies, bats, beetles, trees, fungi and flowers - suitable for all ages, but bring stout shoes and, ideally, a set of binoculars. Members of our group are actively involved in these events.
If you would like to join our Dulwich Society wildlife group, or simply have a particular interest in the natural world which you would like to explore, please get in touch with us
Angela Wilkes Chair Wildlife Committee
Gardens and Gardening
Dulwich Gardens open for charity
Do make sure that you catch Dulwich’s increasingly renowned garden openings, now in full swing with openings on most June and July weekends as well as many other dates. Details of these are in the brochure distributed with the Spring Journal, which is also available on the Society’s website.
Venturing further afield, Lambeth Palace Garden is opening on the first Wednesday each month until October, from 12 to 3pm - its London’s oldest continuously cultivated garden. Entrance is £4. Brand new is the SkyGarden, 35 floors up at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City and good for a cup of coffee with magnificent views. Free but entrance ticket required - see https://skygardentickets.com.
Great Dixter and Sissinghurst
Some 90 members of the Society attended an inspirational talk In March by Fergus Garrett, the Head Gardener of Great Dixter. Our annual coach outing, which is to Great Dixter and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens on Tuesday 23rd June, is now sold out.
No-one welcomes the inevitable disruption that accompanies infrastructure projects, however necessary they may be. This was certainly true of the Herne Hill Flood Alleviation Scheme, from which the affected areas in Belair and Dulwich Parks and the SCST sports fields will take some time to recover. However once local individuals and groups had accepted that ‘something must be done’, most felt that constructive interaction with Southwark Council was the best way forward. This approach paid off, because locals’ comments helped shape the eventual designs for the works.
This good working relationship has led to the project winning the Environment Agency’s Project Excellence Award in the Partnership Category. The project has also been shortlisted for the Institute of Civil Engineers/London Evening Standard People’s Choice Award.
No doubt, in time, we will get used to the new undulations in Dulwich Park created by the works.
Another striking new feature of Dulwich Park is the monumental work Three Perpetual Chords by Conrad Shawcross, the youngest ever Royal Academician elect. The artist calls the three sinuous pieces ‘visual descriptions of musical chords’. On Saturday 18th April Conrad spearheaded the official launch of the work in the park. Some two hundred or more people attended the lively and sunny event, with musical accompaniment provided by members of the London Contemporary Orchestra.
The dedication of this work in its public setting comes at the end of a long journey, which began back in December 2011 following the theft from the park of Barbara Hepworth’s Two Forms (Divided Circle). That philistine act - the work was crudely sawn from its base - generated a considerable reaction at both a local and national level. Part of the Hepworth’s magic lay in the way its bronze colours and reflections altered as the ambient lighting and weather conditions changed; and with holes through the piece, it meant that from some angles light appeared to penetrate it.
The Shawcross pieces are made of cast iron and initially have a light, bright coating of rust, colouring that sits well with its natural surroundings. That is intentional - Shawcross had no desire for the pieces to be polished metal, and instead expects the pieces to take on an interesting patina over time. Echoing the Hepworth, viewers will be able to catch different views through the many apertures created by the curves of the three forms.