It was clear from the general atmosphere and large attendance at its fiftieth anniversary party that the Dulwich Society is in good heart. It is equally clear that its original object – to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich – is as important now as ever it was, as it proceeds towards its next fifty years.
What are the pressing local issues of today which require there to be a Dulwich Society?
A recent survey by the Safe Routes to Schools initiative found that while there are approximately 10,000 pupils attending schools in the Dulwich and Herne Hill areas alone, 71% of parents are too frightened to let their children cycle to school, although 80% would switch to cycling if routes were safer. It is obvious that more needs to be done to provide segregated cycleways and open up shared pavements to cyclists.
It remains the case that the disabled cannot board trains at Sydenham Hill, North Dulwich and West Dulwich Stations, which is disgraceful.
The popularity of living in Dulwich continues to grow. House prices are reaching such heights that owners are keen to remain where they are but extend their living space. There is nothing wrong with this providing it is kept within reasonable bounds. The tendency to extend to the very extremities of boundaries and to excavate deep basements has an impact on both the visual aspect of roads and a neighbour’s amenities.
Dulwich has a long and rich heritage which people are interested in. Information about its history, either by online posts, printed publications or by the installation of explanatory markers at significant sites would be welcomed.
Dulwich is famous for its trees and woods. Both have to be defended against destruction. Street trees need to continue to be carefully selected and their sites planned. Gardens need to have trees which will enhance but not threaten the fabric of houses.
Its public parks should continue to be cherished and never again allowed to fall into such poor shape as they were in the 1970’s and 80’s. As pressure builds for increased housing provision there will likely be attempts to nibble away at existing open space. Its open spaces must be vigorously defended against any changes of use and ways found to make them viable. Dulwich’s open spaces have long provided opportunities for recreation, for not only residents but also for those living far outside its boundaries and we have a duty to continue to make it available for such use.
Our wildlife continues to need our help as urban areas increasingly provide a home or a staging post for creatures whose earlier habitats are depleted by intensive farming. Funds will still be needed for further bird and bat boxes, hedge regeneration and publicity to maintain urban green corridors. Support should be given to the London Wildlife Trust and the Trust for Urban Ecology, which maintain Sydenham Hill Wood and Dulwich Upper Wood in Farquhar Road.
Yes, there remains a potent need for amenity societies such as the Dulwich Society. Threats to Dulwich’s future will inevitably occur in the coming years and a body to combat these threats will continue to be needed.
Communication – how does the Society keep in touch with its members, how does it keep them up to date with things happening in Dulwich? The answer is not always very well – we do put news items in the Journal, but it comes out every three months so cannot be up to date. We have a website which is updated fairly regularly, but perhaps not as frequently as we would like, and do our members visit it? We also have a notice board outside the Post Office in the Village - but that’s more for posters of upcoming events than news.
So what is the answer? We must move into the 21st century with social media and electronic communications. If members want to know about what’s happening in Dulwich, they need to give us their email addresses. We have repeatedly asked for this in recent copies of the Journal but the response has been poor, we only have email addresses for about 15%– it’s not enough.
It’s not just about members complaining that they don’t know what’s going on in Dulwich, the volunteers who run the various Society committees need to know that we are representing your views. Other Societies use email regularly - you only have to look at the Turney and Burbage Road Residents Associations. They have email contacts for all their members and they keep in regular contact with a monthly newsletter and, if a major problem comes up, immediately. There was a recent burglary there where someone bashed in a front door, took the car keys off the hall table and drove the car away –despite there being an alarm. It happened at 3:30am and by mid-morning all residents knew about it.
On November 2nd the twelfth and final plaque to those Dulwich civilians killed in air raids in World War Two was unveiled. The unveilings, conducted by Kenneth Wolff have been very moving and will now serve as a permanent reminder of the horrors suffered by Dulwich residents during the conflict. It has also been an appropriate way to mark the Dulwich Society’s fiftieth year. Not all the unveilings were witnessed by large numbers of people although some were. At most we were able locate survivors or people who were related or friends of those who died. In many cases these people performed the simple ceremony and read out the names of those killed. The total cost of the memorials has been in the region of £3000.
50th Anniversary Party a great success
Dianna McInnes reports
On the 12th October St Barnabas Village Hall was the location for the
final event in the Society's fiftieth anniversary celebrations - just fifty
years and two days away from the date of the Society's inaugural meeting on 10th October 1963. Over 170 members attended a party to meet old friends, make new ones, and share their memories of Dulwich over the years.
Welcomed at the door by Colin Niven (president), Ian McInnes (chairman), Kenneth Wolff (vice-chairman) and Patrick Spencer (secretary), members enjoyed wine and an excellent selection of canapés throughout the evening served by three delightful students from Alleyn's School (Lizzie O’Connor, Jess Geekie, Octavia Henderson-Cleland). Charles Carey-Elwes provided piano accompaniment at the start and he was followed by 'No Girls Aloud', an excellent barber shop quartet (Charlie Hodgkiss, Gorge Raikes, Tristan Carman and Ian Kegler), also from Alleyn's, and the 'Awesome Foursome' (Daniella Wu, Imogen Squire, Sophia MacGregor, and Rhiannon Dew), a string quartet from JAGS.
Speeches were kept to a minimum. Colin Niven noted the success of the World War II memorial plaques and thanked the executive committee for their consistent hard work. Ian McInnes proposed a toast to the Society's next fifty years and announced the recent agreement with Southwark Council where the Society would
take over the management of Rosebery Lodge in Dulwich Park for the establishment of a Dulwich Archive.
The evening was completed by a showing of the film of the 1967 celebration of 1000 years of history in Dulwich. Held in the back room of the hall it was standing room only, and a second showing had to be arranged for those who were not able to fit in for the first! Interestingly, some of the audience were actually in the film – as drivers of floats, organisers of the music and producers.
As members left at the end of the evening there was unanimous agreement that it had been an enjoyable and successful event and a fitting way to end the anniversary year.
The Dulwich Society and the Herne Hill Society are working together on a possible book on the history of local pubs - both those that have gone and those that are still with us. Pubs are an important part of London’s social history and are fast disappearing. We would like to do something to preserve the memory of those that are gone and encourage those that still remain.
Would you like to help?
We are looking for people to join us on this project. The work will involve helping research and writing up the histories of the 37 existing and former pubs that we have identified in the surrounding areas. And it won’t be as dry as it may sound (particularly if you want to visit the pubs that still exist). This work can be fascinating and you will be making a valuable contribution to the history of our area.
Pedestrian Crossing at Lordship Lane/Dulwich Common
Following numerous complaints about safety at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common, Transport for London have confirmed that they are carrying out a feasibility study to assess whether it would be possible to introduce improvements for pedestrians and cyclists attempting to cross the road at this point. As the traffic lights are currently configured, vehicle traffic has the right of way at this junction at all times. Nor is there an alternative crossing nearby. The danger to pedestrians in this situation is very clear.
Residents have been lobbying local Councillors over several years to do something and they have now been joined by the Dulwich and Herne Hill Safer Routes to Schools group. The junction is a critical route to almost all the schools for anyone coming from the south east and it is totally ludicrous that pedestrian safety is constantly being jeopardised unnecessarily.
A survey is a step forward, though further pressure will need to be applied as TfL’s previous view has been against prioritising the reconfiguring of the junction because the accident rate is not unusually high. Leaving aside the absurdity of requiring a sacrifice of life or limb to draw attention to the danger, it is likely that the accident rate is low because people must avoid crossing there or else take serious and unacceptable risks.
Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park
At the 50th anniversary party on 12th October the chairman announced that the Society has now agreed heads of terms with the Council to take over the management of Rosebery Lodge and open a Dulwich Archive Centre. As well as running exhibitions and classes for residents and local schools on the area’s history, the Society will let out the rooms for other community groups. The Dulwich Vegetable Garden, part of Dulwich Going Greener, already use the kitchen and toilet block at the back that was refurbished two years ago, also under an earlier Council CGS (Cleaner, Greener, Safer) grant. The historic Dulwich post cart will also be displayed there.
Over the past three years the Society has acquired additional CGS funding to carry out the refurbishment work necessary to make the main rooms in the building usable. A meeting held on October 10th instructed the Council’s architect to press ahead with going out to tender. While most of the funds will come from the Council, the Society has agreed to put £5000 from its own resources into the project.
A public consultation was held on 7th and 14th November. Both the Dulwich Society and the Herne Hill Society have lobbied to have the historic columns retained but to no effect – Rail Track are determined not to put them back.
Some initial enabling work on underpinning the abutments started in September and the actual renewal works will take place in January and February.
The sections of road by the bridges in Croxted Road and Rosendale Road will be closed to all vehicle traffic from Saturday 11 to Sunday 26 January (with a pedestrian walkway, except for the actual construction works on the weekend of 18/19 January).
Village Way bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from Saturday 8 to Sunday 23 February – the actual construction work will take place on the weekend of 15/16 February.
S. G. Smith workshop in Dulwich Village
The majority of the feedback received from Society members on the public consultation held on 15 and 16 July at S. G. Smith’s showroom confirmed that redevelopment of the site was considered to be a good thing. However, the Estate’s initial proposal for 9 large houses was not popular. Most people were of the view that smaller houses were what was needed (there are plenty of 5 bed houses in Dulwich) and particularly provision for older residents, possibly in warden controlled flats. The Society met the Estate’s consultants later in July and they agreed to come back with alternative proposals. Following frequent chasing the Estate has confirmed that they have been looking at the implications of providing social housing on the site and that a revised scheme should be available during November.
Judith Kerr Free School, Half Moon Lane
The school opened in September with a smaller number of children than originally expected. The proposal for temporary classrooms was withdrawn as the school’s advisors decided to refurbish part of the original Sir James Black laboratories building instead. While there appears to have been a very limited impact on local traffic at this point, there is concern that Southwark planners do not appear to be being proactive in responding to local residents’ concerns over the future traffic and parking implications - the final school roll is likely to be around 500 children. There is no doubt that major changes will have to be made to the layout of Half Moon Lane, including moving the adjacent pedestrian crossing, and the introduction of a 20mph zone complete with raised tables and footway build outs.
Premier Hire, Burbage Road
This plant hire business which operates from the northern Network Rail railway arches in Burbage Road is expanding its operations. Local residents are increasingly concerned over the number of trucks parking illegally in the road and the amount of noise and disruption that they are experiencing early in the morning. The Council parking enforcement teams have been observed monitoring the situation but without much effect – the trucks move away when they see the enforcement officers and come back when they go. The situation is to be made worse in the short term as Network Rail are going to use the Premier Hire site for access onto the section of the Herne Hill Velodrome that they are using as a temporary works area for the bridge replacement works.
Local police safer neighbourhood team
The ‘new policing model’ for the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams in College, East Dulwich and Village Wards has been running since June. There was an interesting discussion at the Dulwich Community Council meeting in October when the police gave a very positive report on its effectiveness - one which was not shared by many local councillors nor some of the attendees. There are clearly still communication problems and a problem with manning the police contact points at the Dulwich Library (Village Ward) and Seeley Drive (College Ward).
Sue Badman reports
Flooding events within Southwark, most notably in 1984, 2004 and 2007 have shown the risk and impact of flooding to residential communities and public infrastructure.
Now a thousand residents in the Dulwich area have received letters from Southwark Council inviting them to meetings and workshops about proposed flood alleviation works in our area to help prevent a recurrence of this flooding.
Southwark Council and Thames Water have been investigating the causes and actions needed to prevent a recurrence. They have found that surface water flows down into Dulwich/Herne Hill centre from Forest Hill, Upper Sydenham and West Dulwich. Additionally, the old Effra River has been culverted and runs across this area.
While Dulwich isn’t near the sea or the river Thames, the topography of our area makes us vulnerable to surface water flooding. Surface water tends to collect or “pond” at low points leading to waterlogging in our parks and sports fields, and potentially also to flooding houses and premises. This means that our sports fields are often out of action losing vital revenue, teams can’t play and lose their positions in local leagues threatening the viability of the green spaces. The “ponding” effect was very noticeable in Herne Hill shopping centre recently in August when water from a burst main couldn’t disperse quickly enough.
Southwark Council has secured £3.7m funding from the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water (TW) to put in measures to stem the flow of surface water across the area.
The pilot scheme will see flood management measures in Belair Park, Southwark Community Sports Grounds, Turney Road and Dulwich Park. The EA and TW hope to adopt and promote this innovative model across the country following successful delivery. These measures will reduce the flood risk to an acceptable 1:75 years standard (for insurance purposes).
The design proposals involve the construction during 2014 of above and below ground storage in Dulwich & Belair Parks & Dulwich Sports Ground to capture overland flow during periods of heavy rainfall. Whilst on the Turney Road site there are plans to introduce kerbside drainage and additional pipe work to route local surface water to the storage facility into Dulwich Sports Ground. The stored water will be discharged into the sewer system after the peak.
A public consultation is now being carried out by Southwark Council to give local residents the chance to have their say on the design proposals and shape the final design. The planning application for the final design will be available for comment in January 2014.
During December as part of a national scheme, EA will be adding details of surface water flood risk to their web site flood maps. More information will be circulated about this by Southwark in due course but look out for information on this initiative.
Further information can be found at