Dulwich Society Party
The Society’s ‘un-birthday’ party was a great success with a large attendance. The enjoyable evening opened with a reception accompanied by Charles Cary-Elwes performing some great jazz at the piano. Later in the evening the audience enjoyed the solo guitar of Cameron May. A résumé of the Society’s recent activities was given by the chairman Ian McInnes, who was also responsible for the exhibition depicting the history of Dulwich’s (once open) pubs. The new book on local pubs’ history which Ian co-authored was on sale. The evening closed with a splendid concert by the a capella group The Hasty Nymphs who had performed at this year’s Dulwich Festival. In attendance during the evening, and expertly serving wine and canapés, were the three granddaughters of Alastair Hanton.
Alastair Hanton wins Lifetime Achievement Award
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Alastair by Andrew Gilligan, the former Mayor of London’s Cycling Commissioner, at the end of a conference on transforming London streets. The particular achievements recognised by the Award were, first, identification of a potential cycling route along a disused railway alignment at the back of Millwall’s New Den, and then persistent advocacy for it over twenty years. This now provides a safe off-road link between central London and the south eastern suburbs. It has resulted in a large increase in cycle commuting in this corridor. Secondly, he pressed for safer Heavy Goods Vehicles. HGVs in urban streets kill disproportionate numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. Safety requires that drivers have a direct view of the road around them, not dependent on indirect vision from an array of mirrors and sensors. The Mayor of London recently announced his intention to ban the most dangerous HGVs from London’s streets from 2020.
Alastair continues to promote transport safety and is chairman of the Dulwich Society’s Traffic and Transport committee. He is currently promoting safety concerns surrounding the site of the demolition of the SG Smith workshop in Dulwich Village for house-building where the proximity of schools is an issue, by insisting Direct Vision lorries be used for this project.
More Local History on the Dulwich Society website
This year several new sources of local history information have been added to the Dulwich Society website. Some are there already including Who was Who in Dulwich, The Gazetteer of Dulwich Roads and Place-names and The World War I interactive map produced with the Herne Hill Society. Now it is also possible to search the Society’s Newsletters from 1974 to 2003 to see discussion of issues such as traffic in Dulwich Village, lighting in Court Lane as well as an account of a day trip in 1827 to the ‘rustic spot’ that was Dulwich (Winter 1997). The complete King’s College Hospital Ward Name Directory which has featured in instalments in recent journals can be consulted (without the illustrations). Finally extensive notes on the history and graves of the Old Dulwich Burial Ground are now available online. These provided the basis for the free leaflet (available from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village) and on the information board on the railings. As much information as could readily be traced on the individuals buried there has been entered, but it is hoped that those who know of any more about this or any other subject on the website will contact the local history sub-committee. The website is very easy to update and many people in Dulwich and elsewhere have given us useful information in the past, some of which has led to articles in the journal.
Basements and Hoardings
Those of you who walk or drive through the Village will have wondered what is happening behind the London Basement Company’s hoarding in front of No 111 Dulwich Village (it has been in place for over two years) - the Society has repeatedly pressed the Estate to find out, but no luck so far. There is another site right next door at look No 113 (but at least work appears to be actively progressing), and the work at No 5 College Road, where the rear wall and most of the floor structure has been removed and replaced - has provided the interested observer unusual views of the sky behind through the front windows.
If you thought it must all end soon and the Village aspect will revert to its normal appearance, you are in for a disappointment. Current applications to build substantial rear extensions and basements at No 57 Dulwich Village (the pleasant Georgian house next to the Burial Ground), No 1 College Road (the old house with the blue plaque for James Allen’s Girls’ School on the front) and No 19 College Road, (just south of the Dulwich Picture Gallery), will mean that yet more hoardings will be visible. And this is all before work starts on the former S G Smith workshop site in the centre of the Village! At least the Crown and Greyhound will be finished soon.
Crown & Greyhound
The projected opening date remains officially as the week beginning 16th January but it may be up to a month later as the completion of the roof on the new hotel building at the rear seems to take longer than expected.
Society contribution to new native hedges in Dulwich Park
The Society has agreed to match the Dulwich Park Friends’ contribution towards the replacement of the cherry laurel hedges in Dulwich Park with native species. The total cost of the work is just over £3000. The Society is also in the process of ordering tree species labels to go on every important tree in the area.
Electric cars come to Dulwich
Eight planning applications have been submitted to Southwark Council to install a total of 24 electric car charging points in the Dulwich area. Leaving aside the fact that the applicant, French owned BluePoint London (who won the tender to operate the electrical charging network in London in 2014) failed to obtain the Dulwich Estate’s consent for the private roads, this will mean a loss of car parking for residents - you are only allowed to use the parking spaces if you are charging your car. If an electric car parks in the bay, but doesn’t charge, or an ordinary car parks in it, they will receive a penalty ticket.
Many residents are concerned over the lack of consultation and the apparently random placing of the new points. Councillors have been involved and are seeking further clarification and discussion before any decisions are made.
The proposed locations are
S G Smith housing development
On 20 October local MP Helen Hayes chaired a meeting between McCullogh Homes, Village Ward Councillors, and local Resident Association representatives to discuss the development of the former S G Smith workshop site. The RAs were looking for reassurances that the building work will be well managed and cause minimum disruption to the area - and respond particularly to the safety of school children who go to the schools nearby. it was agreed to set up a small contact group (of local RA street reps) to monitor and direct queries, concerns and complaints. Work is due to start on site in the summer of 2017, with a contract period of 18 to 24 months.
Dulwich Community Hospital site
Planning consent for the new Charter School East Dulwich and the adjacent Health Hub was granted on 11 October. The school opened on a temporary site in September in Camberwell and expects to move to the new school in 2019. The Health Hub should open at the same time.
New Dulwich Park Café: Southwark Council have awarded the café concession contract to Colicci ECSI Ltd. They are a family run business that currently operates in eight other parks in London including Roehampton Gate (Richmond Park) and Kensington Gardens (Italian Garden Cafe).
7.30pm Thursday 23rd March 2017 at the Lecture Theatre, Alleyn’s School, Townley Road, London SE22 8SU
This year’s talk will be given by Matt Keightley. In 2014 at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, he was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal for his “Help for Heroes” Show Garden dedicated to the wounded men and women of the Armed Forces. At the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, working with Prince Harry for his charity Sentabale, he was awarded a second Silver Gilt Medal for his “Hope in Vulnerability” Show Garden. Matt was awarded the BBC People’s Choice Award for Best Show Garden for both these show gardens.
Matt’s talk will focus on “The Chelsea Experience” telling us about his journey to Chelsea, getting the show garden just right and life after Chelsea.
After the talk there will be the opportunity to meet Matt Keightley over a glass of wine. Tickets are £8 each and may be purchased on the Eventbrite website - https://dulwich-society-spring-gardens-2017-talk.eventbrite.co.uk
Lib-Dem Scheme of Management Survey
There's often criticism of Dulwich’s Scheme of Management. The purpose of the Liberal Democrat survey was to find out if, after 42 years, residents in general felt it was 'fit for purpose' in today's very different world. Approximately 2,500 letters were delivered with 402 replies: a 16% response rate (compared with a statistical average of 5-7%). It is clearly an issue that matters to people.
A majority recognised that the Scheme had helped to protect the area from 'inappropriate alterations and development', though opinion was evenly divided when asked whether planning controls (including conservation) were now adequately covered by Southwark Council. Only 38% of respondents, however, thought it acceptable to have to pay for planning permission from both the Estate and Southwark.
Nearly half (48%) of those who replied were unhappy with the conditions imposed by the Scheme, compared with roughly a third (34%) who were content. This was reflected in more detailed questions where well over half (57%) were unhappy with the fairness/efficiency of the Scheme's procedures.
Overall, over half (53%) thought that the Scheme should be reformed, whereas 37% were content with the status quo. The majority of those who wanted change were happy to pay a charge for the maintenance of the amenity spaces but not at all happy with the limitations on their freeholds.
At the time of going to press we await the results of the Estate's own survey and their reaction to ours, before deciding on future action, preferably through a Neighbourhood Forum.
The Dulwich Estate - Scheme of Management Survey
The Dulwich Estate sent out the fourth edition of the Charity’s newsletter Bulletin to the 4,000 households which are subject to the Scheme of Management. This invited residents to complete an on-line survey the purpose of which was to enable the Trustees of the Charity - as Managers of the Scheme - to assess its perceived effectiveness. There were 100 respondents, 58 respondents backed their replies with specific comments. These will be analysed and carefully assessed by the Trustees but it is clear that there is some confusion over what is within the control of the Estate and that of the local authority , e.g., posts and chains in the Village (the dilapidated ones are the Council’s), the proliferation of rubbish bins, the highways and footpaths and the proposed ‘quietways’.
To the question whether the Scheme is effective in preserving the overall character and amenities of the Dulwich Estate for the common benefit 70% considered it was quite or very effective. 27% considered it totally or quite ineffective. 70% thought the Scheme effective in Amenity areas (Dulwich Woods, and Millpond) 16.5% ineffective. 62% thought it effective as regards the urban streetcape, 28.5% ineffective.
On the question of response when contacting the Scheme of Management regarding building works, 53% were satisfied, 24% dissatisfied. For tree works 47% were satisfied, 25% dissatisfied.
To the question whether residents would be prepared, in principle, to pay more for an enhanced service 51% said no, 35% said they would.
The detailed results of the Dulwich Estate Survey may be seen on the Estate’s website with a commentary on the responses received. www.thedulwichestate.org.uk
Daniel Greenwood has taken a special interest in the wonderful old boundary oak trees in Dulwich Park. They are remnants of the old Dulwich Common and Daniel generously agreed to give a guided walk of Dulwich Park for members of the Society, with particular emphasis on these veteran trees. This took place one Saturday in October. Daniel took us on a tour of all these old oaks, about 10 trees, examining each one individually. It was amazing how much he was able to tell us about each tree.
English oaks (quercus robur) are said to grow for 300 years, stabilise for 300 years, then slowly decline for 300 years and Daniel was able to differentiate between signs that the tree was under stress and features which were part of the natural ageing process. Several had lost limbs, but Daniel assured us that this was quite normal for a tree of their age (mostly 250-350 years old, with some over 400 years old) and that they should recover well. Apparently oak trees restructure themselves to balance - they actually change shape, increasing their girth and becoming shorter and this can clearly be seen in the oak tree by the toilet block near the cafe. Daniel measured some of the trees and estimated this one to be the oldest of all, at over 500 years.
Daniel was pleased with the way Southwark Council are managing these trees, but he was concerned to notice that one of the trees (300-400 years old) by the lake, is displaying damage to the bark at the base, so will discuss with our new Park manager, Will Walpole, whether this tree should be fenced for protection.
The walk was well attended and although we looked at other trees as well, Daniel was most enthusiastic about these old, veteran and ancient (i.e.over 400 years old) oaks - he considers some of them to be among the most important trees in the borough.
Daniel is a most interesting guide and is the London Wildlife Trust warden for Sydenham Hill Woods and a member of the Dulwich Society Wildlife Committee. The walk was free of charge to the public and a donation was made by the Society to LWT.
Glynis Williams, Trees sub-committee
400th Alleyn Anniversary Celebrations go with a swing
The several celebrations marking the building and consecration of Christ’s Chapel and the opening of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift including the Dulwich Almshouse (Edward Alleyn House) and the Burial Ground all went extremely well, thanks to good planning and fine weather.
On 1st September a packed Christ’s Chapel, led by a splendid choir, heard the Bishop of Southwark preach at an evening service of Holy Communion, before moving into the Picture Gallery grounds for a reception. The balmy weather made the delightful setting even more pleasant.
A week later the residents of Edward Alleyn House (Dulwich Almshouse Charity) had their own celebration when they were joined by representatives of the Foundation parishes for the launching of the new history of the Dulwich Almshouse by Brian Green. During the evening, when the weather again stayed fine, a 400th anniversary celebration cake was cut by centenarian Carole Carver who has been a resident for the past twenty-five years.
During Open House Weekend at the end of September, the old Burial ground was opened and the Dulwich Society’s local history group gave guided tours, highlighting the story of some of those buried there. Altogether, some 475 visitors people made a visit during the afternoons of the weekend.
An information sign has been placed on the railings giving a brief history and the names of some of the better- known people interred there. Funded by the Mary Boast legacy, this is the first of a number of similar signs that the Society hopes to install around Dulwich over the next few months.
Christ’s Chapel 400th Anniversary Exhibition
An exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the consecration of Christ’s Chapel of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift will be open to the public at Dulwich College on Friday 2nd and Friday 9th December between 10 and 5pm. Guided tours by the curator Robert Weaver will take place at 10.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.30pm. The exhibition will display manuscripts and artefacts connected with the chapel and also with the almshouse which was founded at the same time. Visitors should report to the Reception Office, Dulwich College where they will receive passes and be met by Mr Weaver. Entry is free.
Brian Wildsmith, the influential and prolific artist turned author of children’s books, died recently in France, aged 86. He wrote 82 books and has a museum in Japan dedicated to his works. He made his name in the 1960s and 70s with a number of colourful but simple books; his first, an illustrated ABC, won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 1962, the year after it came out. Other well-known publications include Birds (1967) named as the best illustrated book of the year by the New York Times, The Owl and the Woodpecker (1971) and A Christmas Story (1989). Before moving to Grasse in the south of France in 1971, apparently to get away from the dull British weather, he and his family lived in Dulwich, and were early residents in Ferrings, one of the Wates developments off College Road.
South London Botanical Institute is awarded City Bridge Trust grant
The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI), based in Tulse Hill, has been awarded £76,500 for an exciting new project, ‘Botany on Your Plate.’ The project will provide a range of activities introducing both children and adults to the science behind our food plants, helping people to understand where the food on their plate comes from. The project will start this autumn and take place over the next three years.
‘Botany on Your Plate’ will help people to engage with the plants and natural world around them, through discovering the environmental wonders of food plants. The project will encourage children and adults to grow food and to understand the local and global environments affecting what they eat. The Institute already offers a well-established, popular programme of educational activities around plant science, from curriculum-based school visits to adult workshops, talks and walks. ‘Botany on Your Plate’ will build on these activities to offer new topics around food plants - with the help of numerous plants growing outside in the SLBI garden. Whilst some people might already grow food at home or in their school garden, the Institute offers the opportunity to examine these plants under a microscope and to see the environments in which less familiar species such as hops, marshmallow and loquat grow.
The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, a dedicated social reformer, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London. This aim continues today, with people from local communities and further afield able to explore the plant world, enjoy the botanic garden, library and herbarium, and participate in a wide range of activities for all ages and abilities.