Have you noticed that the British are obsessed with marking anniversaries? You can be sure that if there is nothing newsworthy to report then the media will rake up some long forgotten event, the date of which just happens to coincide with this scarcity of hard news, to fill their columns with otherwise irrelevant information. Even birthdays are being marked with a greater emphasis. Time was, when after the age of twenty-one, birthdays passed by unnoticed except by favourite aunts who entered birth dates in a special little book often decorated with inspiring quotations from long dead authors. Today celebrating a birthday is not confined to those in the nursery. Septuagenarians and Octogenarians have now joined the ranks of the 30 years olds in marking the decades.

We, in Dulwich, seem to be going with this flow, after all we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of Dulwich Picture Gallery when almost certainly we will be back again in 2014 commemorating its opening. Nor is the Dulwich Society any less guilty. As the President recalls, the Society marked the occasion of its 40th anniversary because it fancied having a bit of a do!

Two significant anniversaries are approaching - HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 50th year of the Dulwich Society. Historically, a Royal Jubilee has been the occasion for villages and towns throughout the land to mark the event by providing some amenity which might benefit the community in the future. Seats and benches, statues and water fountains, recreations fields and clock towers, all bearing an inscription, will be found everywhere. In Dulwich we marked the Silver Jubilee by restoring the fountain in the Village, We do not seemed to have commemorated the Golden Jubilee. Should we mark the Diamond in 2012? I should be very interested to have members’ views on this topic.

There has been a suggestion that the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Dulwich Society in 2013 should be marked with a commemoration of those civilians who lived in the area and were killed as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. It is felt that the great loss of life in Dulwich, there were over 150 of the community killed in air raids, should be marked for the following reasons.
  1. Brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of those killed are still alive and would appreciate such a memorial to their loved ones.
  2. Apart from the mass grave and monument (opened in 1995) at Honor Oak cemetery for those civilians killed in the former Borough of Camberwell, which included Dulwich, no other memorial to them exists.
  3. This loss of civilian life should be recorded for future generations.

Discussions are at an early stage and there is much research to do. Preliminary investigation has shown that there were at least sixteen serious incidents in Dulwich between 1940-1945. Not all were in the area covered by the Dulwich Society; some were in adjoining roads but in close proximity to our perceived boundaries. The form such memorials would take has also yet to be determined, although an engraved plate on a short metal post, placed near the site of the incident appears the most likely.

In previous articles I have talked about neighbourliness, particularly with regard to residents, but it also applies to our schools. Last month JAGS was given conditional planning permission to build a new Community Music Centre on their existing car park and, understandably, home owners who live nearby were very concerned over the potential increase in traffic and parking on adjacent roads, which can be very bad at times. In this case JAGS had gone a long way to try and resolve residents concerns, but there are other schools whose attitude towards residents is not always so helpful.

Everyone who lives in Dulwich understands that, at certain times of the day, the number of local schools mean a considerable increase in traffic, but should they expect the further inconvenience of large coaches parking in suburban roads in the middle of the day (often with their engines running), or being unable to park near their homes in the evening? School managements need to think a bit more about their impact on the local community.

On a more positive note, fifteen months after the September 2009 public meeting and, following continuous pressure from the Society, the Dulwich Estate has amended its website to include information on Scheme of Management applications. Go into their website www.thedulwichestate.org.uk, click on the ‘scheme of management’ and then click on ‘view applications’ or ‘decided applications’. This is a great step forward and should enable residents to have accurate information about works in their particular roads.

There is also good news on the campaign to save the Herne Hill Velodrome which continues to move forward. Negotiations with British Cycling and the Estate are progressing and the charity should have been set up formally during February. Hopefully the track will be resurfaced in the next few months and a planning application for the new building made later in the year.

Last, but not least, I want to record my thanks to His Honour Michael Rich QC who is standing down at the next AGM after ten years as the Society’s president and several years before as a vice-president. His legal knowledge has also been a great help to the Society, as has been his efficient chairmanship of the Society’s AGM and his work as chairman of the fund raising committee for the Edward Alleyn statue.

Herne Hill Velodrome

Problems with snow led to the cancellation in December of the reception aimed at promoting the restoration of the Herne Hill Velodrome. The postponed meeting was held in February and a further Public Meeting has been announced for Tuesday 22nd March at Dulwich College at 7.30pm. The plans for a possible replacement of the velodrome, by the architects of the Stratford Olympic Velodrome have been shown to representatives of local interests and to volunteers who have kept the complex operating for the past few years. The Dulwich Society has made a grant from its own funds of £5000 to support the work of the Velodrome Committee in carrying out preliminary professional work on the lease and the governance structure.

Road danger reduction

The Dulwich Society is in discussion with the Police about their use of the hand-held speed monitoring devices provided for them through the Dulwich Community Council. The casualty statistics show that road injuries are concentrated on the main roads, so it is seeking firmer speed controls on these roads. It has asked particularly for surveillance on Half Moon Lane, East Dulwich Road and Gallery Road.

Southwark Council CGS grants

The Society successfully bid for five CGS (cleaner-greener-safer) grants in 2010. These have been completed and are 1. Circular bench in memory of Lt Evison in Dulwich Village. 2. Alteration to the gate at Cox’s Walk to allow buggy access to Dulwich Woods. 3. replacement bench in memory of Bernard Webb outside Barclays Bank, Dulwich Village. 4. Heritage Red fingerpost at the top of Red Post Hill. 5. Re-turfing of the grass verges in Dulwich Village from the St Barnabas Parish Hall to the Crown & Greyhound.

Visit to Buckingham Palace Garden

We are very fortunate that Mark Lane, (Gardens Manager of Buckingham Palace), who is a member of the Trees Committee, will lead a curatorial walk exclusively for the Dulwich Society on Saturday 9th April starting at 3.30pm. He will introduce many of the unusual plantings, both old and more recent, and it is also hoped some of the later camellias will still be in flower, amongst all the fresh spring growth. This will be preceded with a brief introductory talk about the History and Development of the Garden. Numbers are limited so book early.

Tickets £21 are available by completing the form on page 37.

Dulwich Gardens open for charity 2011

Enclosed with this issue is the 2011 edition of the Dulwich Society publication ‘Dulwich Gardens open for charity’. We very much hope that you will find it both interesting and useful. It gives details of a wide range of gardens to visit – everything from a Brixton balcony to a half acre ‘country garden’. Enjoy your visits.

The Editor has asked me to record by recollections of the ten years during which I have enjoyed the honour of being President of the Dulwich Society. I think that I am right to boast that I am the first President to whom such a request could have been made upon giving up the Presidency, for I am the first not to have died in office. But the same reason as causes me to give up, disqualifies me from complying with his request: my great difficulty in remembering anything with accuracy!

Nevertheless, I do speak of “giving up” the Presidency because it is only with great regret that I forgo the honour that my yearly non-competitive re-election has done me, without being required to do anything for the privilege. It is true that towards the end of my first year of office, the Committee did seek my advice. They have not found reason to do so since! I can only think that they have not found another question so simple to answer as whether it would be better to celebrate the Society’s 40th anniversary with a party or a statue to Edward Alleyn. The question was put to me when there would have been less than a year to organise the statue, so we enjoyed the party.

The statue was postponed till what seemed a suitable date, the four hundredth anniversary of Alleyn’s purchase of the Dulwich estate. It was then a privilege of my office, rather than a burden or duty, that I was allowed to chair the committee which raised the money which enabled the project to be successfully completed. As always the work of organising the competition, choosing the design and commissioning the statue fell on the stalwarts who have run the Society so successfully throughout my period of office, thus enabling me to preside over annual general meetings for year after year, with pride and admiration for the work of the Society in whose glory I have been able to bask.

How then can I best recall the achievements of those years? Frankly, I am too terrified to do so. There has been so much, and if I attempted the task I should only give offence by what I had forgotten. That is why I have headed this contribution “reflections” rather than “recollections”. But that does not mean that I am left without memories. Foremost I will cherish the friendship and the confidence placed in me by three hard working Chairmen who have served the Society during my time in office: Bill Higman, Adrian Hill and Ian McInnes, and of the Society’s marvellously devoted Secretary, Patrick Spencer, who has served throughout the same period. I have been privileged also to know the Chairmen of the Committees who carry on the work of the Society which I have been able to follow in the Executive Committee’s minutes of which I am a privileged recipient since I was first elected a Vice-President. But it is, of course, to this Journal that one looks for the fullest and most lively record of the Society and indeed of Dulwich, and, it is, I have to admit, only because of my admiration for the work of my good friend Brian Green that I have felt obliged to make an inadequate attempt to do what he has asked of me. Readers of this Journal will, I think, hardly care what I remember; they can make their own selections from its pages.

Michael Rich

Notice is hereby given that the 48th Annual General Meeting of The Dulwich Society will be held at 8.00pm on Monday 23rd May 2010 at The Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village (upstairs room, access by side door)


1. Minutes of the 47th Annual General Meeting held on 25th May 2010 to be approved.

2. Chairman’s Report

3. Secretary’s Report.

4. Treasurer’s Report and presentation of accounts for 2010.

5. Appointment of Honorary Auditor.

6. Reports from Sub-Committee Chairmen.

7. Proposed amendment to the Constitution (so there is an option to increase the number of Vice-Presidents from the present number of six): ‘Honorary Officers. A President and not more than ten Vice-Presidents of the Society shall be elected at each Annual General Meeting of the Society and shall hold office until the next Annual General Meeting and shall be eligible for re-election’.

8. Elections for 2011-2012. President, Vice-Presidents, Officers, Executive Committee.

9. Any Other Business.

Note: Nominations for election as an Officer or Member of the Executive Committee must be submitted in writing to the Secretary by two members not later than fourteen days before 23rd May 2011 and must be endorsed by the candidate in writing. (Rule 9).

Patrick Spencer
Hon. Secretary
7 Pond Cottages
London SE21 7LE

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2010, the Chairman’s report and reports of the Sub-Committee Chairmen may be seen on the Dulwich Society Website www.dulwichsociety.com A hard copy may be obtained by application to the Secretary. Following the meeting wine will be served.


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