There is a remarkable film, made by Gaumont at its Champion Hill studio and dating from around 1906 which survives in the archives of the British Film Institute. It is a very short drama set on the platform of North Dulwich Station. What the film clearly shows, is how little, if at all, the station has changed over the past hundred years or so. Much of this is to be welcomed, particularly by railway enthusiasts. Indeed, Southern, the railway operating company has carefully restored the grade 2 listed building, the emblems of Alleyn’s College, the London, Brighton and South Coast railway company which first built it, and a shield bearing the date 1866, when it was constructed, are beautifully picked out in heraldic colours.
Amazingly, and giving lone female travellers considerable comfort, the station is manned until late at night with CCTV screens being scanned in the booking office. All of this is laudable. What is not, and is in 2012 totally unacceptable is that there is no disabled access to and from the platforms. Instead, the wheelchair-bound and also, probably, the aged and mothers with buggies are banned from accessing the rail network. Surely this cannot be right. Restaurants, cinemas, sports halls and local councils are obliged to provide toilets for the disabled. Theatres and concert halls provide seats for the disabled. Many buses have been adapted to take wheelchairs.
But how are the disabled living locally, to take advantage of these (state guaranteed) measures if they cannot get to them? Or indeed, how can a disabled visitor reach such Dulwich attractions as its park, picture gallery, velodrome or Southwark Council’s proposed new multi-sports court for the disabled at its ground on Dulwich Common, if they cannot travel here by train?
In the case of North Dulwich Station, the provision of lifts to its platforms is totally feasible and the railway company should be obliged to install them urgently. The case for Sydenham Hill, West Dulwich and East Dulwich stations is just as pertinent and whilst the solutions might be more difficult to achieve, it would be ridiculous to suggest it would be impossible.
Now here’s another pretty state of things, as W.S. Gilbert might have said. Tuition fees charged at King’s College, University of London are as high as any university in the country but it has allowed its former Botany Laboratories in Half Moon Lane to remain largely unused for the past 25 years. Well yes, admittedly Sir James Black OM had use of the first floor for a number years, and considerable refurbishment took place to accommodate him and his team of pharmacologists. But Sir James died in 2010 and had not been working there for some time before that. In any event, the ground floor, basement and other floors were never used after the Botany Department moved to Kensington in 1984.
Presumably King’s continues to pay the Dulwich Estate the rent due on the extensive premises (three large houses were demolished in the 1950’s to build the laboratories) yet there appear to be no plans to utilise the site and King’s seems quite happy to add to its own expenses to maintain the property. Of course this expense is passed on to its students in the form of higher tuition fees.
Surely this state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue. Building space in London and certainly in Dulwich commands a high premium. Can such waste be allowed to continue for another 25 years?
It was gratifying to see the amount of TV and press coverage given to the Herne Hill Velodrome following Bradley Wiggins’ victory in the Tour de France. Hopefully this will make the Velodrome Trust’s fund-raising a bit easier and ensure something can soon be done about the provision of proper changing and storage facilities and the replacement of the old grandstand.
On another optimistic note, work has now started on the Concrete House in Lordship Lane, and there has also been good progress on the project to reconstruct the St Peter’s Church wall and railings opposite. This is an area of Dulwich that needs improvement and it seems it is going to happen.
Not so good news was the Dulwich Festival’s adverse impact on traffic in the village on Sunday 20th May. This is the second year in a row that the centre of the Village has been closed to traffic for the Festival’s final day and many local residents will agree that it should be the last. The confusion and congestion caused by the number of visitors parking on both sides of College Road was definitely a step too far. By the early afternoon it was taking up to half an hour to travel from Dulwich Common to the Picture Gallery, mainly caused by the P4 buses’ difficulties in negotiating their way between the traffic islands and the badly parked cars.
The same thing happened in Gallery Road during Carter’s Steam Fair a couple of weeks later, but no blame to the buses here, it was just bad parking - and there were reports of some serious road rage.
But this is not a new problem, it has happened before on summer afternoons when there are large numbers of visitors to the Park and the Picture Gallery. Southwark Council has been told about it repeatedly, but we are ignored. Their response is that there are no complaints from TFL (don’t they monitor bus timings?) and therefore there isn’t problem.
The wooded lane that connects College Road and Gallery Road, to the south of College Gardens and the Old College Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, appears to be un-named. Although shown as ‘Grove Walk’ on the Dulwich Estate Map, many Edwardian postcards confirm that its historic name in the early part of the last century was ‘Lovers Walk’ and, after a long negotiation with the Estate, the Society has received permission to go back to calling it by the old name.
On Saturday, 22nd September, the Society will hold a short ceremony to dedicate two new ‘Lovers walk’ signs, one each in College Road and Gallery Road. We will start at the College Road end and hope to be joined by a pair of ‘lovers’, dressed in costume to match the figures in the postcards.
All members are welcome to attend at 11AM.
Basements and flooding
Members will remember previous articles both on the retrospective digging of basements and potential flooding. At the last Dulwich Community Council planning meeting it came to light that the Council’s planners were unaware of any history of flooding in Dulwich even though the Council’s environment department had prepared specific flood alleviation plans, and had officers going around the area telling residents about them. Councillors were somewhat surprised at the lack of co-ordination and the two departments were told very firmly to make sure that they worked together in the future.
The Future of Dulwich Hospital - A response from NHS Southwark
Thank you for raising awareness among your readers of the work we are doing on developing Health Services in the Dulwich area. I though it might be helpful to offer some additional detail and context.
This first stage has been an engagement exercise rather than a consultation – we have started by asking people what health services they would like to see provided in their local community. We have had a good response, and there was a public meeting held on the 24th July where the results of that exercise were fed back to members of the community. As a result of this we will be doing further work in the following service areas: primary care, maternity services and care of children in the first year of life, services for people with long term conditions and mental health service for people with mild/moderate depression and anxiety. We are also looking at what out-patient and diagnostic services can be provided more locally.
Later in the year we will be having a consultation which will cover both the service model – i.e. some proposals and options on what services we might be able to have locally, and also on the options for where those services might be – and those options will include the future use of the Dulwich Hospital site.
Programme Director - Dulwich Project NHS Southwark
The Dulwich Estate replies to questions raised in our last issue
In the Summer edition of the Journal, Ian McInnes raised a number of issues which involved The Dulwich Estate. We are grateful to Mr David Sizer, Chairman of the Trustees in addressing these issues.
In reply to the question of involvement by the Estate under the Scheme of Management, concerning the increasing number of basement developments, he says:
It is not open to the Trustees to change the Rules of the Scheme unilaterally although as Managers they do publish the Guidelines which are reviewed from time to time in order to reflect changing circumstances, modern materials and such like. The Guidelines for solar panels are, as many may be aware, currently under review to bring them up to date. It is the Rule of the Scheme that sets out [and thereby limits] the Managers’ power to control alteration to the external appearance of any building or structure on a property visible at ground level from beyond the boundaries of the same [paragraph 3.(a)]. Given the clarity of this wording, there is no scope for interpretation – basements which are not visible at ground level do not require consent pursuant to the rules of the Scheme of Management.
In response to the matter of a pedestrian crossing in Dulwich Village, Mr Sizer replies:
The Estate has never been unwilling to compromise with Southwark Council. I should perhaps first explain (for the benefit of readers) that the Council commenced the installation of the crossing without reference to the Estate which happens to own the piece of land enclosed by the posts and chains. When the Council was made aware that it does not own the strip of land, the Estate offered several proposals for it to be able to secure access to this land, but the Council insisted that it be granted a lease for 50 years in return for a nominal lump sum. As a charity, the Estate could not agree to this as it would have been in breach of the requirements under section 36 of the Charities Act 1993 (which prohibits the disposal of an interest in land at less than fair value), and no doubt the beneficiaries of the Estate would have had something to say as well.
Concerning the delay in opening empty shop, he explains:
A minor alteration to create a bin store at the side of 91 Dulwich Village (formerly occupied by Oddbins) was refused planning consent by the Community Council, even though our application had the support of the Planning Officer at Southwark Council. The premises have therefore had to remain vacant for the past six months despite having a prospective tenant who wishes to open a bakery. We appealed the decision and also submitted a revised application which, we are pleased to note, has now been granted planning approval.
In reply to the lack of progress on the Crown & Greyhound conversion into a hotel, he says:
The Estate submitted a planning application towards the end of last year (having consulted with residents) but in the interim Southwark Council appointed a new Conservation Officer who has requested changes to the scheme. As a consequence, the plans have had to be amended, but we are now told these meet the new Officer’s requirements and a new planning application will be submitted by the end of the month.
Regarding the former Dairy Site in Croxted Road, he states:
We share your view that Lambeth Council’s reasons for refusing our second application for planning consent (to create commercial units with flats above) are somewhat spurious. We have revised the proposals for the site which now include the provision of a new doctors’ surgery and we trust that the Council’s planners will look favourably on our third application, particularly in the light of changes introduced by the National Planning Policy Framework. The Estate is keen to put this derelict site back into productive use.
Lastly, regarding the new layout at the Tollgate, Mr Sizer says:
The changes to the layout of the Tollgate were made on advice received from our traffic consultants and were designed to improve the safe passage of cyclists. We are aware of instances of the width restrictor being damaged and we are monitoring this situation closely.
50th Anniversary: The Dulwich Society was founded in 1963 and next year is its fiftieth anniversary.
The Society will be holding a number of events throughout the year, the principal one being the installation of commemorative plaques to civilians killed in and around Dulwich as a result of air-raids in World War II. There will also be a special exhibition outlining the Society’s impact on the more recent history of Dulwich, from the 1960s to the present day. It will detail the major changes that Dulwich has undergone in the last 50 years, and the Society’s contribution to maintaining Dulwich’s character and amenity. It will show the schemes it successfully opposed in Dulwich and Sydenham Woods, it will remind members of contentious projects such as the proposed road tunnel under Dulwich Park and the impact of Eurostar on local residents. The exhibiton will also include pictures and artefacts from Dulwich’s 1000 years pageant held in 1967 and a showing of the film made of the celebrations..
The Dulwich Society 50th Anniversary Exhibition will be held in the Wodehouse Library at Dulwich College and will opened on 26th January with a celebratory anniversary party – more information will be available in the December issue of the Journal.
During 2013 the Society will be publishing an ‘architectural map’ to accompany the tree map that it published five years ago. Other events proposed include a series of Sunday afternoon talks on local history at Dulwich Picture Gallery during February and March, a show of old films of Dulwich and, perhaps, the opening of the Dulwich Archive in Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park.
The Unveiling of WW2 Commemorative Plaques
As reported a year ago, the Dulwich Society plans to commemorate those sites in and around Dulwich where there were significant civilian deaths during World War Two. Twelve sites have been identified and each will have an engraved stainless steel plaque as a marker. The plaques will bear the names, ages and date of each fatality and whether it was as a result of an air-raid, a V1 Flying Bomb or V2 rocket attack.
The unveilings are spread roughly throughout the year and are set at dates nearest to those of the incidents themselves. Dr Kenneth Wolfe, The Dulwich Society’s vice-chairman has kindly agreed to conduct a short ceremony at each unveiling. Where considerable loss of life occurred, surviving relatives will be invited to read out from the list of names.
The ceremonies will commence at Court Lane on Sunday 6 January 2013 at 12noon where 7 people were killed by a V2 rocket on 6 January 1945, followed on Saturday 12 January 2013 at 12 noon by the commemoration of those killed in two air-raids in the area of Melbourne Grove, Lytcott Grove, Lytcott Gardens and Playfield Crescent. The first was on 16th September 1940 when 9 died and the second on 17th January 1943 when 11 died. Details of succeeding unveilings, which commence from April will be published several months in advance in the Journal. A full account of the incidents being marked in January 2013 will appear in the winter edition of the Journal and will be reprinted from contemporary newspaper reports.
The full list of dates for the unveilings in 2013 is as follows:
The Queen’s Birthday Honours List - 16 June 2012
We congratulate one of our Vice-Presidents, Marion Gibbs, Headmistress of James Allen’s Girls’ School and Co-Director Southwark Schools Learning Partnership, on being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Education.
Southwark Civic Award for Stella Benwell
A well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award was made in the summer by Southwark Council to Stella Benwell in recognition of her long service as a member of the Dulwich Society’s Trees and Wildlife groups, and not least for her many campaigns to secure Dulwich Woods as an open space for the public. The press cutting below (Streatham Guardian 11 May 1989) records one of those battles – this time over the Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club’s application to the Dulwich Estate to enclose a 500 yard section of Dulwich Wood into the golf course.
Events this Autumn arranged by The Dulwich Society
Talk by Nicholas Reed, author of ‘My Father, The Man Who Never Was’ – the story of Ronnie Reed, Dulwich Society member and MI5 officer and handler of the spy and double-agent Eddie Chapman during WW2. A fascinating first hand account of this extraordinary man by his son.
Sunday 4th November at the Francis Peek Centre, Dulwich Park at 2.30pm. Dulwich Society members free, visitors £5, concessions £3. (tickets available on the door)
Trees Group Autumn Colour Visit to Audley End
Thursday October 18th – Departing by coach from Dulwich Picture Gallery at 8.30am. A Tree Group visit to Audley End, described by Country Life as one of the six most idyllic places in Britain. Before lunch there will be a Tour conducted by the Head Gardener of the many interesting trees, and a tour of the magnificent Jacobean house in the afternoon. Cost (including admission £30 or £20 for English Heritage members). See page 37 for booking form.