There are well over thirty sports fields, parks and ornamental gardens in Dulwich. They are the legacy of the gift of 72 acres of land for the creation of Dulwich Park made by the Alleyn’s College Estate in 1885 and a further commitment of 127 acres as open space ‘for all time’ made in 1905. English Heritage is taking an interest in our sports grounds, to the extent that it is considering including them a book it is to publish. They are themselves surprised that such a large cluster of open space still exists in London.

That these sports fields came into being is due to a happy coincidence of the end of farming in the area, the replacement of horses for transport by the motor car and the increase in the population’s leisure time. Nevertheless, the type of users of these fields has changed over the years. Apart from the three Foundation schools that were granted sports fields when they moved into new buildings between 1870-1886, most of the other fields were leased by paternalistic employers seeking to build up the health and esprit de corps of their workforce. Companies involved in banking, brewing, manufacturing and insurance first leased the grounds. Some were succeeded by the old boys associations of Alleyn’s, Dulwich College and Wilson’s Grammar School and Cambridge University Settlement.

In the past few years the last of these companies have abandoned the grounds as their workforces became more dispersed. Even more recently a former polytechnic, now a university, has relinquished use. But the grounds have soon been snapped up. There is more local community interest in using the fields, especially for youth sport in soccer, cricket and hockey. Several grounds have also been leased to Dulwich College and Dulwich Preparatory School where increased school roles have put pressure on existing grounds.

All this is good news. Good news for the health of the population, good news for the environment and if one is honest, good news for surrounding property prices. The further good news concerns Dulwich Woods, part of which the London Wildlife Trust has run so well for the past thirty years at Sydenham Hill Nature Reserve. Here, through the co-operation and match funding of the Dulwich Estate, the dew pond is being restored and the Ambrook stream which flows into it enhanced. As you will read elsewhere in this issue, the total number of species recorded in the Woods has reached 783 and Dulwich Wood comes 41st in the top 100 woods in the country.

The Dulwich Society has also played a part in environmental projects, most recently in November when, assisted by volunteers from the London Wildlife Trust, it replanted and restored the hedge in Gallery Road.

One of the benefits of the former joint Lib Dem/Conservative Council administration was the introduction of Community Councils. This devolved some Council decision making to the local level – anticipating by several years the current coalition government’s localism and ‘big society’ agenda. However, as part of their money saving proposals the current Labour administration is looking to cut back on them. This would be very unfortunate as a recent event clearly demonstrated.

At a Community Council Meeting in September, one specifically intended to discuss cuts in council services such as libraries, the meeting was given an unscheduled report by ‘Southwark Events’ informing us that the Council intended to spend over £50,000 on a one hour firework event in Dulwich Park – they had already briefed a ‘local’ theatre group to organise it (one based in another borough, Greenwich) and we were told that was that. Of course, in these days of political correctness it was not actually called a firework display, and there was no mention of Guy Fawkes, but a firework display was what it was. The Council were apparently unaware that there were to be at least four other major firework events the same weekend within half a mile of the park and they were going to it on Friday 4th rather than Saturday 5th like everyone else.

Unfortunately ‘Southwark Events’, the organisers, had forgotten to tell the local ward councillors about it, and most of the other local interested parties – they did at least have some preliminary discussion with the Dulwich Park Friends but that was all. Local councillors were, quite rightly, up in arms, and none of the local amenity groups were particularly enthusiastic – an event for upwards of 3000 people on a potentially wet early winter night in a heritage park did not seem, on the face of it, a great idea. In the end there were so many objections that the Council was forced to back down – a good result for the park, and a lesson for the Council that early consultation is always worthwhile.

However, the real problem is of course that times are hard and the Council does need to cut back – closing ‘Southwark Events’ could be a start perhaps, but the Council want to take a percentage from every service - and Community Councils are no different. A not very widely published ‘on line’ Council survey (why is it assumed that everyone is on the internet?) asked what suggestions residents had to save money on Community Councils - the options did not of course include keeping them and cutting elsewhere!

Community Councils are the one forum where local residents can influence Council policy and they have been a success in Dulwich. It would be bad to lose them – and we have been reminded what can happen if major decisions are made at the centre without local involvement.

The Millpond

The historic Dulwich Millpond is a reminder of Dulwich’s past, when there was a windmill on the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common, and Pond Cottages was a tile works rather than a row of bijou houses. The pond is where the clay to make the tiles was dug from and, when work stopped in the early eighteenth century, it filled up with water. It is an important local amenity for flora and fauna but the water is now virtually stagnant and the pond needs remedial work.

Following much discussion with various experts the Dulwich Estate has now prepared a scheme to deal with it. A bathymetric survey revealed a build-up of some 1200m3 of silt which needs to be removed in order to improve the water quality and a silt trap will then be installed to reduce the risk of this happening in the future.

The works will be carried out in autumn 2012. An ecological survey confirmed that carrying out the dredging phase at this time would minimise the potential disturbance of wildlife and vegetation during the dredging phase,

The costs of this major project will be recovered through the Scheme of Management Charge in September 2012.

Kings College Hospital - Marjory Warren Ward

There is a new ‘healing environment ‘ at Kings. Over the past year Emma Ouldred, Dementia Nurse Specialist at Kings has been working with a dedicated project team to create a sensory room in this ward. The room will provide a relaxing environment for patients with dementia. Using sights and sounds, combined with a redesign of the entire ward, it will help prevent patients from becoming agitated or distressed during their stay at Kings.

Dementia is more common in people aged 65 and over, although it can affect younger people too. Symptoms include loss of memory, judgement and even the ability to speak. It affects not only the patient but also loved ones, who in their role as carers can see their relationship with their partner or relative change immeasurably.

The Friends of Kings charity has agreed to donate significant funds from a legacy from the estate of the late Rosa Davis; a long-serving member of the Dulwich Society who had a keen interest in gardens, trees and wildlife, towards transforming the ward environment. Further contributions will be made from the Kings Fund and the Kings Trust. There will be better signage, lighting and seating and artwork is being developed by patients, visitors and staff in collaboration with Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Rosemary Dawson

Fashion Couture

Dulwich Picture Gallery’s successful Urban Youth Programme has unveiled Future Couture, an original Fashion Programme. Following creative workshops over the summer, the programme’s young participants modelled their creations in and around the Gallery in October in a professional fashion shoot. It followed the successful project Art Slam, a partnership between the Gallery and the youth organisation SE1 United last year.

The Gallery’s Urban Youth Programme brought young people to the Gallery to seek fashion inspiration through the paintings. A guided tour focussed on the meaning of clothes in the permanent collection, and how current designers such as Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano reinterpret the past in their own contemporary collections. Choosing Gallery paintimgs for inspiration, participants designed their own creations to re-work, transform and re-imaging clothing the Gallery’s collection of Old Masters.

Fashion workshops were overseen by Carol Wright, a professional clothes designer working in the film industry who has had recent commissions by Johnny Depp and Jude Law. With her expertise young people learned how to develop an idea and transform it into original clothing – breathing new life into Old Masters to create imaginative fashion for today. Many are keen to pursue a career in fashion and receiving personal tuition from Carol was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Unfortunately the photo shoot for the project had to be cancelled due to the riots taking place in London and the strict curfews imposed on the areas where the participants live. The Gallery says that this sadly highlights the need for more Urban Youth Programmes which seek to directly work with disaffected young people who otherwise might become part of gang culture by offering an alternative, brighter and better future.

I would like to share my views on the benefits of installing solar photovoltaics panels (solar PV) on your roof to reduce your electricity bills and at the same time contribute to the UK’s target to reduce our greenhouse gases by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 . The likelihood of another harsh winter, of escalating fuel and other household prices makes this an urgent issue for me.

As a scientist and resident of Dulwich of 15 years, I am constantly seeking ways to reduce my energy consumption. I have installed double glazing and insulated my loft and cavity walls. I now want to make solar PV my next long term investment and have applied for a licence from The Dulwich Estate for permission to install them. Solar PV does not depend on bright sunshine and should not be confused with solar thermal panels that heat hot water.

The Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme provides a guaranteed financial incentive to homeowners, schools, churches and businesses to install low carbon electricity generation up to a capacity of 5 megawatts. It has been so popular that the current tariff will soon be reduced but it may be expanded to attract community projects, which may open up new opportunities in Dulwich. It is also important that any installation does not materially compromise our amenity values. I think that solar panels on my 1950s semi-detached house would fit with the local architecture. For example, solar PV on a Georgian roof would have a very different appearance from that of the roof of a post-war modern home. The Dulwich Estate has issued policy guidelines on solar panels but I believe that these could benefit from being updated from the current 2006 version. Homeowners also need to comply with Southwark Council’s planning requirements.

A contractor estimated that I would need a 2.5kWpeak system costing approximately £10,500. It will provide me with an annual financial benefit of £1,083 that is equivalent to an annual rate of return of 10.4% but the reduced tariff may mean a rate of return closer to 5% .

There are pros and cons of any type of renewable energy. For solar PV, the pros are:

  • Reduces your electricity bills and carbon footprint
  • Pays for all the electricity you generate even if you don’t use it as you can sell it back to the grid
  • Increases the value of your home
  • Panels are low maintenance and have a life expectancy of about 25 years
  • Protection by the internationally recognised quality assurance scheme, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme . Your solar PV system and installer must be accredited to the MCS for you to be eligible for the FIT.

The cons are:

  • High initial investment of £8,000 - £14,000
  • South-facing unshaded roof with a pitch angle of about 30 degrees
  • Efficiency depends on the number of light hours and climate
  • The inverter is likely to need replacing after 8-10 year; current cost is £1,000
  • Roof must be strong enough to take the weight of the solar panels

If you are thinking of working on or replacing your roof, then think of solar roof tiles, which generate electricity like solar panels. Otherwise panels attached onto the roof are the preferred and most cost effective option.

I have received some excellent advice from three Dulwich residents who have successfully installed solar PV. No doubt there are many more skilled and talented residents who have installed solar PV and other renewable technologies. I am interested to learn more but keeping up to date with the fast pace of change is a challenge. The Internet and social media are great ways to share this knowledge and act on it. For example, the Mulbery School for Girls in north London is among the finalists of the 2010-11 Rolls-Royce Science Prize in the 11-16 year old category . They have refurbished two south facing glass houses to grow plants and are planning to install a solar PV system to meet their electricity needs. The project aims to make a visible link between energy generation and consumption, raise awareness of these technologies and energy use.

I congratulate local groups such as The Dulwich Society for all its work that helps to shape the future development of Dulwich and Dulwich Going Greener for actively raising awareness of climate change and identifying opportunities for positive action.

Installing solar PV will reduce my electricity bills. I believe that we have a responsibility to act now and I don’t think that we can bury our heads in the sand and leave it to the next generation. With growing unemployment, solar PV also offers opportunities for our young people to use and extend their skills to gain employment. Should we take advantage of Government support to growth in the low carbon sectors such as 1,000 new apprenticeships through the Green Deal , support for community projects and other incentives to support small businesses? Can Dulwich become a ‘beacon of excellence’ for integrating renewable energy into its homes and buildings? I believe that we can benefit from using solar energy so that we pay less for our electricity and are confident that we are contributing to our 2020 and 2050 greenhouse gas targets.

Heather Rankine 1941-2011

Heather Rankine was born into a long established Dulwich family where her father, grandfather and two uncles were all local doctors. The house of her childhood stood in Half Moon Lane and was famous for the ancient and huge elm which grew in the front garden.

She followed in the footsteps of her mother and mother-in-law in attending James Allen’s Girls’ School but decided that she already had had enough of medical practices to consider medicine as a career and when she came to leave she was set to become a primary school teacher, even to the extent of registering at the Froebel Institute at Roehampton. However, a week before she was due to start her studies she changed her mind and decided to become a dentist! After considerable effort in gaining the correct admission qualifications she became one of only six women on the dentistry course at university. She qualified as a dentist at the Royal Dental Hospital and was a House Surgeon at St George’s Hospital before joining the Jenner Health Centre at Forest Hill. She became a partner in a dental practice in Dulwich Village in 1987, where she worked until her retirement.

She became a governor of JAGS in 1981, serving for a period of twenty years. She was also associated with the school’s Old Girls’ Association becoming a vice-president in 1998. It was partly through her initiative that the very successful JAGS sports club originated.

Heather was, for fifteen years, a Trustee of the Dulwich Estate, as a nominee of JAGS, and where she was noted for her perseverance in getting to grips with the minutiae of its accounts and decision making. When she joined the Board of Trustees she was the sole female, out of a membership of fourteen, a situation which remained the same for the next five or so years. She also served on the various committees through which the Board operates including the Scheme of Management, making time to attend the monthly meetings to consider applications for changes to property and again doing her homework. It was not unknown for her to have paid a prior visit to a property in question in order that she could fully understand the implications of the changes proposed. She had the distinction of becoming the first female Chairman of the Board of Trustees in its history.

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