Auf Weidersen Paul and Elizabeth

Paul and Elizabeth Gerhard married soon after the end of the Second World War. Nothing strange about that you might think. The unusual thing was that Paul was a German prisoner-of-war, a captured submariner, one of the crew of a German UBoat. He was sent at the end of the war to work on a farm in Scotland as many POWs were between 1945-7, repatriation was delayed because of the chaotic conditions and food shortages in Germany.

He met Elizabeth, a nurse at a village dance in Scotland. They fell in love and later married. Instead of returning to Germany, the young couple moved to London and Paul joined London transport, where he would remain until retirement and rising to Inspector. They lived in Half Moon Lane until infirmity required them to move into a nursing home where they were able to live together until Paul's death in 2004. This summer Elizabeth passed away.

New Southwark Council Initiative

John Howes of Peckarmans Wood writes to say that he recently became a 'Street Leader', one of Southwark Council's band of volunteers who report matters of environmental concern to the Council, such as abandoned vehicles, dumped rubbish and so on. John has been impressed by how quickly the Council has reacted to the half-dozen calls he has made in the past few weeks. He has been even more surprised to learn that they have recruited 369 adults and 550 children into the scheme.

The Council officer responsible for this 'army' is Dave Taylor at Manor Place Depot, and is to be heartily congratulated on this initiative. Are any members living in Lambeth or Lewisham able to confirm that a similar scheme exists in those Boroughs?

South East London Green Chain

Some time ago we reported that efforts were being made to extend the Green Chain Walk in South London to include parts of Dulwich. Philip Kolvin now sends us the happy news that the consultants appointed by Southwark Council; Land Use Consultants, have produced their feasibility report of an extension of the South East London Green Chain, and give enthusiastic support to the project.

The Walk starts at the Thames Barrier and arcs its way through four boroughs (Bexley, Lewisham, Greenwich and Bromley), linking 300 beautiful green spaces, before ending up at Crystal Palace Park. The proposal is to extend it northwards through Lewisham and Southwark towards the inner city, linking four of the cultural jewels of South London - Nunhead Cemetery, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, in a five mile extension.

Land Use Consultants advise that the main route of the extension should run:

  • Crystal Palace Park (80 hectares)
  • Hillcrest Estate Woodland (7.1 ha)
  • Sydenham Hill Wood (9 hectares)
  • Horniman Gardens and Railway Trail (8 ha)
  • Camberwell Old Cemetery (11.7 ha)
  • Brenchley Gardens (2.8 ha)
  • Nunhead Cemetery (20.1 ha)

They also advise that spur routes should run through:

  • Dulwich Upper Wood (2.5 ha)
  • Sydenham Wells Park (8 ha)
  • Dulwich Wood (16 ha)
  • Dulwich Park (30.6 ha)
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery Gardens
  • Belair Park (10.6 ha)
  • One Tree Hill (6.6 ha)
  • Camberwell New cemetery (11 ha)
  • Telegraph Hill Park (4.1 ha)

There is no central body which will fund the scheme and it will be necessary to assemble funding piecemeal from a number of sources. The organizers are confident that they will get enough support to see this project through. To make this project happen, Philip Colvin invites letters of support for the South East London Green Chain extension. His address is 13 Winterbrook Road, SE 24 9HZ.

Looked at your House Deeds recently?

Residents of Dulwich with houses built after 1913 often have a clause in them to effect that the Landlord (now the Dulwich Estate) reserves the right to tunnel beneath the house for the purpose of permitting an underground railway company to run lines. Residents in such houses are usually mystified by this clause.

It relates to the activities of the London Electric Railway Company which were actively seeking to run an underground line from the tube extension proposed to Camberwell Green, to the terminus at the south end of the Crystal Palace. Underground Stations were planned at Champion Hill, Townley Road/Calton Avenue, lower end of Cox's Walk, Sydenham Hill, West Hill and the Crystal Palace.

The Dulwich Estate was receptive to these plans, proposed in December 1913, but the interruption of the First World War led to the scheme being permanently shelved. 

Croquet in harmony in Dulwich

Members of the Dulwich Society interested in croquet will be delighted to know that members of the Dulwich Sports Club Croquet Section entertained some of their opposite numbers in the Old College Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, to an enjoyable autumn afternoon's croquet and tea at their club in Burbage Road, which was much enjoyed by all 16 participants. Golf Croquet (which is played by both clubs) suited us all and, to make things even more relaxed, members of each club paired off as doubles partners. The weather remained kind and everyone was sorry when play had to end as evening drew on. I think one could describe the result as an Honourable Draw! Watch this space for news of the return game next season. Michael Goodman 

West Dulwich Station - The Path of Knowledge

120 Million Years of History of Flowering Plants in 75 yards!

This is the ambitious project intended for the slope to the 'Down' platform which has already seen some work. This is now continuing with help from the Southwark Youth Outreach team and many other volunteer groups.

The Walk of Fame is to be established to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Father of Botany, Linnaeus; the first person to establish a system of naming plants. His name, and those of other well known botanists who have helped in the understanding of the evolution of plant life, are to be sand-blasted into the concrete surface of the footpath. These will include Mendel, and the discoverers of DNA, the geneticists Watson and Crick. Readers are invited to make their own nominations. The panels beside the path will be decorated by the organisation 'Art in the Park' with suitable quotations about the evolutionary development of plants as well as other pictures and decorations.

The large columns supporting the platform have already been painted green and will be strung with wires for climbing plants to give a background to the scene. The lumps of concrete, dug from the station foundations, will be moved to the upper end of the slope to provide a rockery and additional drainage. Initial planting will be with Comfrey and other nitrogen fixing plants. Already 2000 plants are being grown in the Community greenhouses in Brockwell Park for further planting.

The whole project has the support and interest of the Linnean Society, the South London Botanical Institute, Network South Rail, and local schools. People are invited to be involved by offering any plants, topsoil, bark (but not trees) for later planting.

'The more you see, the more you care' - already the amount of litter dropped along the site has noticeably reduced. It is hoped that there will be a Grand Opening of the public Path of Knowledge next year, with the involvement of the Swedish Embassy, to mark May 23rd, 2007, the birth of Carl Linnaeus 300 years ago.

For more information e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

West Dulwich Station

This engraving of 1880 shows the lost buildings of the station, then called 'Knights Hill' (nearby Knights Hill is now covered by the Peabody Estate and allotments and is not to be confused with the 'other' Knights Hill in West Norwood). The line was opened in 1863 by the South East Chatham & Dover Railway, on land acquired from the Dulwich Estates and later providing the fastest route from London to the Continent (and only 11 minutes to Dulwich). Only the ticket office survives.

The two 'pavilions' shown were each equipped with Ladies and General Waiting Rooms, complete with toilets. The foundations and drains of these are now being found during the excavations on the 'Down' side.

The previous slope and steps on the 'Up' side were replaced with a series of steps, described as suitable for the 'ambulant disabled', but are certainly no user-friendly for buggies and toddlers.

The crests on the bridge over the railway bridge in Village Way have been freshly painted this year. A grant was made for this work to be carried out by the Dulwich Community Council.

Jill Manual

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