There is no question that Dulwich's transport links have greatly improved and it is now more sensible to take public transport to and from London to Dulwich during the day. The increased regularity of the P4 bus giving access to Brixton and Underground system, the 10 minute rail service to London Bridge from North and East Dulwich and since December the increase for much of the day to four trains an hour to Victoria from Sydenham Hill, West Dulwich and Herne Hill stations have created much better transport options for residents.

In the evening the situation is different. The regularity of the service from London Bridge to East and North Dulwich reduces to two trains an hour. This is totally unacceptable in the light of new planning policy to be implemented by Southwark Council and outlined in this issue by Alastair Hanton.

The policy enshrines the belief that if no parking places are provide by developers, then this will force people out of their cars and onto public transport. At the same time housing density will increase.

The policy may be viable in the northern part of the borough where there are better transport links but it will be very difficult for Dulwich and East Dulwich residents. What is likely to happen, unless public transport links are improved is that residents in new high density developments who do not join a Car Club, (see opposite) might be decide to buy a car and then park it on already congested streets elsewhere.

To prevent this from happening then transport facilities in the evening need to be equal to those of daytime. For many City workers the working day now often extends into the evening. Key workers in London hospitals and service industries finish work at off-peak times. Dulwich's theatre and concert goers might also be persuaded to abandon car trips to Town in the evenings as well as the daytime if train frequency improved. It seems ridiculous that there are three times more trains from London Bridge to Dulwich at 2pm than there are at 8pm.

The Newsletter

A successful team effort has led to the Newsletter receiving a commendation by the London Forum of civic and amenities societies. The Dulwich Society is grateful to both regular and occasional contributors, and to the area and street Newsletter distributors, without whom this publication could not function.

The editorial policy of the Newsletter is twofold; to promote the aims of the Dulwich Society - "to foster and safeguard the amenities of Dulwich" but also to reflect and encourage the diverse interests that contribute in making this part of London something special. This edition contains examples of both of these elements. An interesting addition to Kingsdale School, the birth of a Dulwich car club, the current state of play at Crystal Palace Park and good news of Belair Park are important matters for Society members. On the other hand, Michael Rich's account of The Fort is a remarkable success story about a concept many people may be unfamiliar with. Maggie Brown's history of Channel 4, authoritatively reviewed by Greville Havenhand demonstrates that the Newsletter contents are not exclusively parochial and Tony Fletcher's revelation of Dulwich's connection with the early days of film making by Gaumont is perhaps a reminder of a different aspect of Dulwich's heritage.

Car Clubs

A recent meeting of the Dulwich Community Council received, at the suggestion of the Society's Traffic and Transport Committee, a presentation by the CEO of a leading car club.

What is a Car Club?

A Car Club enables members to drive a car that is parked near to their home or work without the hassle and cost of owning one. Members only pay for the actual journeys they make and can rent the club's cars by the hour, day or as long as they want. Surveys show that, for every club car, an average of 6 privately owned cars are taken from the streets. Car club members drive less, use public transport: more and walk and cycle more.

Cars are booked online or by 'phone. Members have a smartcard which unlocks the car doors when held over a card reader on the windscreen. Members enter their PIN in the onboard computer and pick up the ignition key from inside the car.

What does it cost?

Charges are typically below £5 per hour, including comprehensive insurance and a free petrol allowance. Joining and membership rates vary between car clubs, but seem modest.

Where are cars parked?

Either off-street or in dedicated on-street parking spaces arranged by the Council. Off-street parking can be in unused business space or in members' driveways, which car clubs rent. Cars are scattered around near to where people live and work (no central depot to collect from). Cars are clustered, so that, if your nearest car is in use, there is another nearby.

What are the benefits?

Lower costs, less parking hassle and a smaller carbon footprint; and, for the community, reduced pressure on on-street parking.

Who operates car clubs?

There are four main car club organisations operating in London. Southwark council is keen to see their use spread and is currently facilitating this in Bankside. There are already a few car club cars in the Dulwich area. There are plans to consider introducing more cars in the Dulwich area in the next few months.

Car Clubs in Dulwich

To help our local environment the Dulwich Society is promoting the car club concept. If you would be interested in participating in this initiative, please give the following information to the Chair of our Traffic and Transport Committee, Alastair Hanton, 8 Gilkes Crescent, SE21 7BS (Tel: 020 8693 2168 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.):

1. Yes, I'd like more information: Name, Address (Postal, email and phone)

2. I'd be interested in providing off-street parking and would like to know what benefits I may receive from the operator.

3. Being aware that on-street dedicated car club parking bays compete for space with residents' parking, I suggest that a suitable on-street location might be:

We will collate this information and, unless you ask us not to, pass it to Southwark Council and to two or more leading car clubs.

More information on car clubs can be found at www.carplus.org.uk. Carplus is a national charity promoting responsible car use.

Alastair Hanton

Newsletter 'Commended'

The London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies has awarded the Dulwich Society Newsletter a Commendation in its Walter Bor Media Awards 2007 in its newsletter category. The judging panel was chaired by Peter Murray, curator of New London Architecture. The winning newsletter was that of The Wandsworth Society. Also commended were the newsletters of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association and the London Parks & Gardens Trust.

Situations Vacant

The success of the Dulwich Society depends on the willingness of its members to share the tasks of helping to run it. Each issue of this Newsletter is delivered by such volunteers. There are two vacancies for Area Distributors in Zone C - largely the Court Lane area (130 copies) and in Zone F - the Alleyn Park and the West Dulwich area (135 copies ). An Area Distributor collects this bulk delivery from Margaret McConnell and distributes these to the several Street Distributors in the Zone. There are also vacancies for Street Distributors in some of these roads. None of these tasks are onerous; indeed you might enjoy the four times a year stroll around Dulwich! If you think you might be able to help the Society in this way please telephone Margaret McConnell on 020 8693 4423.

Membership Increase

The membership of the Dulwich Society has now passed the 1100 mark. Membership of the Society is deemed to consist of households, so the numerical membership is considerably higher.

Renaming of Sydenham Hill Station

The Dulwich Society has officially petitioned Network Rail to consider renaming Sydenham Hill Station. The Society believes that the title of the station is confusing for passengers; not only is it not on Sydenham Hill, but it is at the foot of a steep hill away from it. The name proposed is South Dulwich.

In the past two other Dulwich stations have been renamed. West Dulwich was originally named Dulwich Station and East Dulwich was Champion Hill.

Edward Alleyn Statue Vandalised

After two years without any graffiti or vandalism, the Edward Alleyn statue seemed set for a long trouble-free existence. It was not to be. The figure of the poor boy, which compliments that of Alleyn, was wrenched off its mountings on the night of 18/19 December. There were fears that it had been stolen in order to be melted down for its scrap metal value, The following day however, Merrill Spencer, the wife of the Society's honorary secretary spotted it in the bushes not far from its plinth. There was relief that this time vandalism rather than theft was the lesser of two evils as the mould for the statue had not been retained by the foundry.

The statue is insured through the Dulwich estate and a claim has been filed. David Roberts, chairman of the Planning & Architecture sub-committee says that repair of the statue is an engineering problem and has kindly agreed to liaise with the foundry and find a means of more securely refixing the figure.

Southwark's Planning Policies

As anyone knows who wants to build or extend a house, government planning policies can affect any of us. Within Southwark, the framework for all land use and development is "The Southwark Plan", which came fully into effect last year. Southwark Council has now published a "daughter" document with more detailed policies designed to reduce the transport impacts of development. This document is mainly about larger developments rather than single houses, but it contains some important principles for all development. The general aim is to minimise the impact of development on pollution, noise and congestion.

Developers of schemes with significant transport implications have to provide a Transport Assessment. This has to show how they will favour and encourage walking, cycling and other sustainable travel rather than cars. Developers may also have to contribute financially to schemes in the vicinity or more widely, for instance, to improve road safety and walking and cycling facilities. Such contributions could also be required for the promotion of car clubs, which the Dulwich Society sees as a promising means of reducing the local pressures on car parking.

This new planning document, like its "parent" document, the Southwark Plan, emphasises the need to provide for the mobility needs of people with any form of disability. These newly set out policies will help us as a community, in Dulwich and throughout Southwark, to live in a quieter, safer and pleasanter environment. Inevitably, however, they will add to the bureaucratic burdens of development. You can look up the detailed policies in any of the public libraries, or on Southwark's website.

Alastair Hanton
Traffic and Transport Committee

Woodland Walk for Belair

Belair Park, despite being a listed landscape and boasting a magnificent wildlife area centred on the lake, is not exactly walker friendly. That half of the park bordering Gallery Road has a pleasant enough circular path, but the "back" half, next to the railway embankment and given over mainly to sports pitches, verges on the featureless - a long green rectangle with hundreds of yards of bare wire fence and railings.

All this is set to change this year with the planting of a "woodland walk "around the perimeter, thanks to an £8,000 grant from Southwark's cleaner, greener safer fund: the grant was made last autumn by Dulwich community council following an application by David Nicholson-Lord on behalf of the Dulwich Society wildlife and trees committees and the Friends of Belair Park.

The idea is partly modelled on the successful woodland edge walk around the perimeter of Dulwich Park - created over the last few years by the simple, cheap and carbon-free expedient of not cutting, mowing or strimming. The effect has been the creation of a separate landscape "compartment" in the park, giving a sense of refuge from more crowded areas and popular with walkers, dog-owners and joggers. Much natural regeneration of woodland and understorey has occurred as well as some marvellous displays of wild flowers and herbs: species counts show that bird and plant diversity has also increased.

At Belair the plan is for a roughly 10-metre woodland corridor around the edge of the back half of the park, with shrubs and trees planted in clumps and clusters , wild climbers on the fencing, areas of wild flower planting and a low- or no-mow regime for the grassy parts. The path through it would be left informal, following the "desire-lines" of walkers. It's also hoped to provide some seating, in the form of either normal benches or tree trunks.

Plants are likely to be native mixed-species, including oaks; climbers, such as old man's beard and honeysuckle, will help to soften and enhance the wire and concrete fencing running parallel to the railway embankment. An "entrance" may be created near the South Circular, planted with bulbs such as bluebells and with simple "rustic" signage. This could from part of a schools' or volunteering/youth project.

Bat-friendly planting is also being considered for the farthest corner of the park, next to the railway line and the adjoining sports ground. This follows guided walks which have detected the presence of Pipistrelles there (Daubenton's were also seen over the lake).

Jon Best, Southwark's ecology officer, and Angela Wilkes, chair of the wildlife committee and a member of the Friends of Belair Park, have also met on site several times to discuss the plans. Southwark now promotes low- or no-cut regimes around the borders of parks and green spaces as part of its biodiversity plan. Both the wildlife and trees committees have made several attempts to get other local green space managers to do something similar. Alleyn's School, for one, has responded by planting several trees and leaving a strip round part of its playing fields uncut. Other institutions have been less forthcoming.

At the time of writing, the planting was due to be completed by the end of March, by staff from Walworth Garden Farm.

David Nicholson-Lord is a member of the wildlife and trees committees, the Friends of Belair Park and the executive of the Friends of Dulwich Park.

Crystal Palace Park Regeneration

An update by Adrian Hill

The Masterplan for the regeneration of Crystal Palace Park prepared by Latz and Partners for the London Development Agency (LDA), part of the Greater London Authority, was completed in August 2007 and was the basis of an application for outline planning permission by the LDA to Bromley Council submitted on 1 November. The application and supporting documents are extremely voluminous and may be accessed on Bromley's website http://planningaccess.Bromley.gov.uk/publicaccess/tdc/tdc_home.aspx. In addition to the outline planning application there are also applications for Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent. Bromley's website indicates that the expiry date for neighbour consultations was 6 February 2008, though they have indicated that responses to the applications from the public and local groups can be made at any time until its planning committee convenes to consider the application. This is anticipated to between May and September 2008, probably towards the end of this time range. Bromley's decision on the application is expected sometime in the autumn.

How the Park will be Managed

For some time now the management of the Park and of the National Sports Centre has been taken over by the LDA from Bromley, which remains the owner of the Park. As mentioned in our previous article, the LDA has already taken up a long lease of the National Sports Centre and until March 2009 has an option to take a 125 year lease on the remainder of the Park. The LDA has indicated it is unlikely to exercise this option if its planning application is not granted in acceptable form. In this event, management of the main part of the Park would presumably revert to a reluctant Bromley. The type of governance of the Park if the LDA exercises its option is yet to be decided and is currently the subject of consultation with stakeholders through the Park Working Group set up as part of the Dialogue Process. The LDA does not see itself as in the business of long term park management and various alternative kinds of management are being considered, such as through a consortium of local councils, a new regional parks authority (which would require new legislation) or a trust established for the purpose. The LDA at its Board level has no fixed view on this at present.

The Masterplan

The Masterplan was the subject of an exhibition held in Crystal Palace railway station in October 2007 which was attended by over 2,500 people. The booklet that accompanied the exhibition is available on the website www.crystalpalacepark.org for those who may have missed it. Answers to FAQs on the Masterplan are also available on the same website. The main elements in the Masterplan include the use of the topsite, where the Crystal Palace stood, as a multifunctional space, within a grid of trees planted to replicate the outline of the Palace, and which will provide open-air rooms and spaces for all kinds of events and family oriented activities, including cafes, farmers markets, fairs and festivals. Facilities there will include various water features and a new museum and visitor centre incorporating the restored brick-vaulted subway that was the original entrance to the Palace from the High Level railway station. The Palace and Italian terraces, including the sphinxes, are to be restored to their former splendour, and it is planned that this will be among the first improvements under the Masterplan. The centre of the Park is to be "greened" by removing much of the present asphalt car parking and fencing and demolishing the present Lodge and adjoining accommodation tower block forming part of the NSC and relocating them near the railway station. Paxton's Grand Central Walk that linked the Palace with Penge Gate central will be restored. Included in the plan are also two large greenhouses for exotic plants and butterflies and two tall energy towers to generate electricity by thermal air-currents and which are intended to echo the original Brunel water towers. Independent though of the Masterplan, is the reestablishment of a children's zoo to be operated by Capel Manor. Planning permission for this has already been granted and was due to open in February 2008, somewhat later than originally intended because of difficulties in moving animals due to restrictions following outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and Blue Tongue diseases.

National Sports Centre

Plans for the NSC include relocating it to a site near Crystal Palace Station. It will however become a regional - rather than national Sports Centre. It will include, unlike the present NSC, a full Olympic size (50 metres) swimming pool and other state of the art dry sports facilities most of which will be below ground to reduce visual impact on the Park. The present athletic stadium will be retained adjacent to the new sports centre, but the jubilee and millennium stands are proposed to be demolished. The present NSC building (which is Grade II listed) will be retained as the LDA became convinced that listing building consent for its demolition would not be forthcoming due to opposition from English Heritage and the Twentieth Century Society. The adjacent unsightly concrete walkways will however be removed and the surrounding ground level will be raised to the present first floor level to make the building less prominent. It is planned to use the shell of the building for indoor activities, such as seven aside football. Since September 2007 the NSC building has been closed due to the discovery of asbestos. This has delayed the work, to cost £4 million, of renewing the worn-out mechanical and electrical systems and refurbishing the changing rooms. The LDA is however still hoping to have the Centre fully open during the summer 2008 and for it to continue to provide swimming facilities until the swimming pool in the new RSC is ready sometime after 2012.

Financing the Masterplan

The work envisaged in the Masterplan will be carried out in a series of phases stretching over up to 15 years, at a total estimated cost in the order of £100 million if all phases are implemented. Most of the proposals in the Masterplan would seem to have widespread local public support, and it is the personal view of the writer that on balance the proposals represent great improvements. There are however some aspects that remain highly controversial. Most controversial is the proposal for building housing on the edge of the Park near the Rockhills entrance (at the top of Westwood Hill) and also near the Sydenham Gate (opposite Sydenham Avenue) the latter mainly in infill between existing villas. These are in areas that are not currently open to the public. In total 180 flats could be built on 2.2 acres, representing 2% of the total Park. Outline planning permission for this possible development is included in the planning application but the LDA has stated that, even if permission is obtained, building will only take place if the revenue from leasing out the land for housing, which is essential to finance the Park refurbishment is forthcoming, largely by unlocking exterior sources of funding through matched funding. It would appear that any redevelopment at Rockhills could not be begun until after 2018 as this is on land currently leased to the Caravan Club, six acres in total, which the Club appears to be in no mood to give up. The LDA's plan is that if these six acres are recovered at a break point in the lease in that year, less than two acres would be used for any housing and the remaining nearly five acres would be returned to open parkland.

Cash Points in Dulwich Village multiply

In the last issue we mentioned the efforts of the Dulwich Society to persuade Barclays Bank to install a cash machine on its premises. There have been letters and emails in support as well as objections to this. In the meantime the Crown & Greyhound has installed a cash machine in its premises which charge £1.50 per transaction. Cash can been withdrawn against debit cards at the Village Post Office free of charge during opening hours; but you might have to queue. The village newsagents also offer a cash machine on its premises. If you wish the Society to pursue its campaign with Barclays or object to this please email David Roberts - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

New Dulwich Estate Website

The Estate has introduced a new website for anyone requiring information on the Dulwich Estate and the Scheme of Management. It can be accessed on www.thedulwichestate.org.uk

Christ's Chapel open

The historic 17th century Christ's Chapel in the Village is open on Tuesdays from 1.30-3.30pm until 25 March and then 2-4pm for the rest of the summer. Access may be gained via door into the Chapel from the Dulwich Picture Gallery Cloister. A sidesman will be on duty to answer visitors' questions.

'Who Do You Think You Are?'

The Society is getting an increasing number of enquiries by people outside of Dulwich who are tracing their ancestors who were at one time residents. In the past the Local History Group has assisted such enquirers. The popularity of this pursuit, stimulated by programmes such as 'Who do you think you are?' and the availability of genealogical search engines has grown. The requests for information on former residents will in future be published in the Newsletter and the wider membership invited to participate in answering, if possible, such enquiries. Replies should be sent to the Editor by letter or email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who will then forward them.

Gillian Harris of Golant-by-Fowey, Cornwall is researching the life of her great aunt Isabella Woodman who was the principal of Woodlawn School in Dulwich Village at the turn of the nineteenth century. Gillian Harris is keen to hear from any reader who has any knowledge of Woodlawn School.

Woodlawn was the name already given to three adjoining Georgian houses, now converted into two. The school was situated in what is now 103 Dulwich Village and lessons were frequently given in the large rear garden as the photographs Mrs Harris has sent show.

Isabella Woodman was born on 11 December 1865 in Clapham, one of nine children born to Thomas and Mary Haines Woodman. She was called Belle by her family. Nothing is known of her schooling, but in 1891 the census recorded her as living in Lewisham, her occupation given as a 'kindergarten teacher'. At some point in the following five years Isabella became the principal of the kindergarten at 3 Woodlawn, Dulwich Village. According to an advertisement for the school in 1895, she held the Froebel Society's Certificate. The Froebel Educational Institute was inaugurated in 1892, but the college and school in West Kensington were not opened because of building delays, until September 1894. It would appear therefore that Isabella was within the first intake of students who trained and obtained the certificate.

The photograph below shows the pupils working at tables in the garden. An early example of 'group work'? Gillian Harris says that she inherited one of the tables and had taught children herself at it. The whole top has an indented squared grid she thinks might have been used for mathematical work. The back is hinged, so that it can be tilted and perhaps used for art work.

Woodlawn was one a numerous small private schools which existed in large houses in an around Dulwich at the time. There were over sixty such schools locally. These included schools in East Dulwich Grove, Half Moon Lane, and two on Dulwich Common.

Scores on the Doors

Those of us who travel to the USA will be aware of their 'scores on the doors' scheme whereby all restaurants are obliged to put a notice by their main entrance doors confirming the results of their last food hygiene inspection.

This scheme is now up and running in England - see www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk and Southwark is one of the first two London Boroughs to make this information available on their website. This means you can check the hygiene standards of any local restaurant, food store, and even school dining rooms, before you visit.

Southwark's website describes the criteria that their officers address on their site visits:

  • Food hygiene and safety procedures - how hygienically the food is handled including temperature control
  • Structure - the condition of the structure, cleanliness, layout of the premises, lighting and ventilation
  • Confidence in Management - The food business operators history of compliance with food hygiene law and evidence of a food safety management system

The frequency of inspections ranges from every six months for the highest risk businesses, to once every five years for the lowest risks businesses.

The benefits to the public are obvious. By providing the public with useful information in a readily accessible location, the scheme should drive up standards of food safety and give the public the opportunity to make an informed choice about where they choose to eat. The scheme will also serve as a good advertisement for those food businesses that have high standards of hygiene.

Well done Southwark!

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