David Hollis, of Court Lane Gardens, died unexpectedly on 28 September while bell ringing.

A service of celebration and thanksgiving took place on 17 October at Christ's Chapel where David and his wife Barbara were regular worshippers and sidesmen for many years. His large family of three generations was joined at the service by professional medical colleagues, by bell ringers, by large numbers from Dulwich and by many others who shared aspects of his life.

David met Barbara during medical training. A surgeon colleague paid tribute at the celebration service to David's professionalism as an ENT surgeon, and to his strong ethical principles, such as refusing any private work. Her description of his quiet, effective approach to medicine was echoed in a tribute by a fellow medical bell ringer. For half a century David rang in churches across the length and breadth of England. He almost always travelled by train, having a love of railways and a detailed knowledge of their routes and timetables.

David was an active and long-serving members of the Dulwich Society's Traffic and Transport Committees. He was a key figure in the fight against plans in the nineteen eighties for the South Circular Road, including a road tunnel under Dulwich Park. David's knowledge of railways enabled him to argue successfully with the train operators for improved services between London and both North Dulwich and Herne Hill as well as proposing a quarter hour interval service at West Dulwich from 2007.

David served Dulwich in many other ways, including that of treasurer of the local Abbeyfield Society. His two allotments at Grange Lane were cared for with love and skill. They produced large crops which he shared with his many friends in Dulwich.

The Dulwich Society is indebted to David and the community has been enriched by his courtesy, dry sense of humour and strong sense of public responsibility.

Alastair Hanton

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

Householders told that trees must be removed because of subsidence should insist that insurance companies provide proper evidence that the tree is to blame, the Dulwich Society's open meeting on trees and subsidence was told in September.

Over 100 people attended the meeting, organised by the Wildlife and Trees committees at the Old Library, Dulwich College, and heard criticisms from several experts that some insurers fail to obtain adequate evidence and often insist on trees and shrubs being removed as the cheapest, quickest and easiest solution.

The meeting was organised because of rising concern about the dangers posed to Dulwich's tree heritage from subsidence claims. It heard from four specialists in law, insurance, ecology and arboriculture as well as from representatives of the Dulwich Estate and Southwark Council and was chaired by His Honour Michael Rich QC, the society's president. The society plans to publish a record of the debate and also hopes to publish longer accounts in the Newsletter. The first of these, by Jim Smith, former chair of the London Tree Officers' Association's executive and London trees and woodlands framework manager for the Forestry Commission, is scheduled to appear in the next issue.

Mr. Smith told the conference he had spent two years helping to write the Institution of Structural Engineers' report Subsidence of low rise buildings, published in 2000, which involved the collaboration of the entire industry, from engineers and insurers to local authority tree officers, and remained the nationally recognised authority on resolving subsidence problems.

Unfortunately, he added, "many insurers' loss adjusters and arboricultural consultants do not actually follow the recommendations in that report. Frequently, they don't adopt a forensic approach in investigations. They fail to eliminate other potential causes of movement before identifying the tree as the potential cause."

Mr. Smith criticised what he called "loss adjusters' complacency in almost always assuming that the tree is the cause of the problem. My experience is that they commission limited tests to fit this hypothesis rather than to establish the real mechanism at work."

He said the Building Research Establishment had analysed the tests routinely used by insurance companies to establish the desiccation, or drying-out, of soils

and concluded that none of them was satisfactory. "By using tests that are less reliable and less accurate and then taking calculations off those, you're building into that process a margin of error that we, as tree officers, find unacceptable."

The Institute of Structural Engineers, the Building Research Establishment and the newly revised London Tree Officers' Association document A Risk Limitation Strategy for Tree Root Claims all advised using a set of tests appropriate to the soil type to eliminate other causes prior to establishing the tree as the cause of the movement, he added,. These test results required cross correlation with each other and with tests on ground conditions and the presence of leaking drains to create an accurate picture of the mechanism at work.

"Only by approaching this matter forensically and with due diligence can it be resolved to all parties' satisfaction. To date this has not been happening - indeed in many cases loss adjusters have actually withheld key test information, specifically, we believe, because they know it weakens their case."

Other highlights, quotations and points from the meeting include:

  • "If a tree causes damage, it's very difficult for the local authority or the tree managers to defend the tree. It can cost a lot of money to deal with problems that trees cause, especially the cost of underpinning and often everyone thinks that the easiest and cheapest way to avoid that kind of liability is to chop down the tree." (Andrew Plunkett, lawyer)
  • Tree root barriers can be an increasingly effective alternative to tree removal.
  • "It's a nonsense to remove all trees within a certain distance of the house, and it must be stopped." (Paul Thompson, arboricultural and ecological consultant to the insurance industry)
  • "If vegetation is involved [in subsidence claims], an arboricultural consultant will be appointed..An awful lot of flak is put at these consultants, often by me. Anyone who is assisting in a subsidence claim is acting on behalf of the building insurer. And that's quite important because the building insurer wants one thing - finality. And therefore, he wants the tree out." (Peter Osborne, chartered insurer and local authority adviser)
  • "The current evidence regrettably is accepted by the courts, and therein lies the difficulty. If the courts accept it, why is the building insurer going to provide more? The last thing insurers per se want to do is pay out money - it doesn't matter whether it's to do an extra test or just pay you." (Peter Osborne)
  • " [The courts say] you have got to manage your trees allowing for drought - buthhow should [local authorities] plan for drought and how could they avoid it? If you go on most urban streets you will find just about every street tree is within standing distance of a house, so its roots could reach under the foundations. But less than one per cent of tree stock causes damage. But again, which tree? So the only way they can avoid it is to fell all the trees . I don't think the law is working, therefore, in the way it should do." (Peter Osborne)
  • "The best thing to do is to get [insurers] to re-define what damage is. At the moment, damage is a hairline crack. If damage was to be shown as [an] over 5-millimetre crack, then about 50 per cent of the claims would disappear and 50 per cent of the trees would probably be saved. (Peter Osborne).
  • "We're a lone voice really - us and the residents who are very keen on trees. But everyone else is in the same pay bracket really from the insurers. They employ the arboricultural companies, the structural engineers, the loss adjusters - so if they don't sing from the same hymn sheet then they're no longer employed by them. So we're one voice against about 10." (Tony George, Dulwich Estate arboricultural adviser)
  • Where buildings or extensions are built near existing trees and subsidence occurs subsequently, removal of the tree may cause "heave". The builder or engineer responsible may also be liable for inadequate foundations. From 2003, any new building built near a tree has to have an "engineered" foundation, not merely one that conforms to a certain depth.
  • Householders who pave over their front gardens may be increasing their chances of subsidence because the paved areas could prevent rainfall penetrating and "rehydrating" the soil next to their houses.
  • The presence of tree roots in an area of subsidence does not prove that the tree is responsible. "All you've proved [is] that you've found a tree root".(Jim Smith). Further investigations are needed - "a case should not be determined on the fact that roots were present."

David Nicholson-Lord, Wildlife and Trees Committees

Art Prize for Dulwich Artist

David Gluck of Holmdene Avenue has won the Singer & Friedlander-Sunday Times water colour competition.with a prize value of £15000 with his landscape The Evening Sunlight,near Petrognano, near Lucca, Italy.

David, who was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire in 1939 is a member of the Royal Watercolour Society and has also been its vice-president. After gaining a Post Graduate diploma at Leeds College of Art he completed an ARCA at the Royal College of Art in the 1960's. Before his retirement he taught printmaking at the Central School of Art , The main subject of his work is Landscape. He says, "My work is characterised by a spontaneous vigorous response to the commonplace and familiar objects or environments, emphasising a real sense of place, illusionistic space and a feeling of a moment in time."

His training as a printmaker led him to unconventional methods of watercolour painting. He prefers not to plan each painting in advance - rather than think ahead, he prefers to respond to an image that's evolving as he works. "I begin simply by making marks. So, halfway through the picture might not look like anything like the intended subject, and the colours might seem bizarre. Then, as I apply layer after layer, responding to a developing image, they come to increasingly resemble what it is that I'm looking at and ultimately depicting."

This approach is partly the result of his interest in Alexander Cozens's method of involving random blot images. Over many years he found that etching, monoprint and watercolour gives him the necessary flexibility and stimulation he required But if accident plays an important part in the process, how can the painting have anything to do with a real existing motif? David says that the picture certainly has to do with a specific location. "I know this Italian village well. I spent a month there or more for about ten years running, painting every day. I wanted the picture to convey a strong sense of place and atmosphere. But the painting was made in the way I've described, and I believe that this way of working gives a unique quality to the watercolour. The painting was started on the spot, then continued for a few hours every day, so as to be able to work with similar light conditions. Then it was finished off in the studio. The aim was to maintain the vigour and the excitement of those first sessions throughout."

New conductor for Dulwich choir

Dulwich Choral Society is delighted to announce the appointment of Aidan Oliver as the choir's new Musical Director.

Dulwich resident Aidan Oliver, 30, is one of the leading choral conductors of his generation in the UK. In 2003, he was appointed Director of Music at St Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey - the Parliamentary Church - and was awarded a Conductor Fellowship with the BBC Singers. He is chorus master of Philharmonia Voices, the Philharmonia's professional chorus founded in 2004, and conductor of Wokingham Choral Society. He has also worked with the Bach Choir and Apollo Voices, and last year was invited by English National Opera to act as guest Chorus Master for their production of Wagner's Twilight of the Gods.

Dulwich Choral Society is looking forward to an exciting future under this charismatic musician, whose dynamic approach to choir training and performing looks set to lead this large choir into enjoyable new challenges.

Come and hear us

The choir's new season will open with a performance of Haydn's uplifting Creation on 9 December at St Barnabas Church, Calton Avenue SE22 at 7.30pm. Tickets and are available by phoning 020 7274 6388 (£10 bought in advance; £12 on the door).

Come and sing with us - and enjoy our new partnership with Aidan Oliver. We have a few vacancies in all parts. We rehearse on Monday evenings, from 7.30 to 9.30 in the Herne Hill Baptist Church on the corner of Half Moon Lane and Winterbrook Road. Singers who love music and would like to sing with an experienced amateur choir which performs alongside professional musicians in south and central London venues are invited to come to a rehearsal or call 020 7737 3169.

Dulwich Choral Society sometimes performs as the South London Chorus.

December 2006

Saturday 2nd Southwark Concert Band - Celebration Concert - Programme includes Theme from Superman John Williams, Tijuana Holiday Derek New - Winter Holiday James Swearingen - Festive Overture Shostakovich, Wassail! Roger Cawkwell, The Royal Fireworks Handel. Great Hall, Dulwich College at 7.30pm. Tickets £9 (concs £5) at the door.

Sunday 3rd Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibition Adam Elsheimer: Devil in the Detail ends.

Monday 4th Concert of Christmas Music arr. Friends of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. A Concert of Music for Christmas presented by musicians from James Allen's Girls' School. Christ's Chapel 7pm Admission £12 (includes wine and mince pies) free admission to the Gallery afterwards. Tickets from the Friends Desk, Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Saturday 9th Dulwich Choral Society Concert - Haydn's Creation St Barnabas Church, Calton Avenue SE 21 at 7.30pm. Aidan Oliver Conductor, Olivia Russell soprano, Daniel Auchincloss tenor, Samuel Evans bass. Tickets £10 in advance from Dulwich Choral Society - 020 7274 6388, South London Music 54 Grove Vale SE 22, The Art Stationers 31 Dulwich Village SE 21. £12 on the door.

Sunday 10th Horniman Charity Carol Concert The Bandstand, Horniman Park at 5pm (Charity stalls, tea and coffee visit and by Father Christmas to his Grotto from 4pm.).

Wednesday 13th-Friday 15th Dulwich Picture Gallery Education Department. 6. - 8.30pm Evening Life Drawing. Three consecutive evening of life drawing for all abilities with artist and teacher Lufe Jones. Single class £15, all three classes £39. Book with Becky Allen 020 8299 8732.

Thursday 14th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - 'The Master': Noel Coward as writer, actor and painter by Frances Hughes. James Allen's Girls' School 6th form lecture theatre at 8pm

Saturday 16th Lambeth Orchestra Concert - Mozart: Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola K 364, Bruch: Double Concerto for violin and viola Op 88, Hurlstone: Variations on a Swedish air, Charlie Piper - new work. All Saints' Church, Lovelace Road, West Dulwich, SE 21 at 7.30pm. Tickets £8 (concs £6, children £1) at the door.

Sunday 17th St Barnabas Church Carol Service 6.30pm. Music will include Resonet in Laudibus by Jacob Handl, Angelus ad Virginem by Andrew Carter, Lullay, lullay, thou tiny little child by Kenneth Leighton and a setting of Silent Night by Christine Gwynn, together with traditional carols for choir and congregation. The service might not be suitable for children under 7 - there will be special Crib Services for this age group on Christmas Eve at 3pm and 4,30pm when children will be encouraged to come dressed as a character from the Christmas Story.

January 2007

Wednesday 10th Dulwich Picture Gallery Education Department 10 week course Looking and Seeing - Use observation to develop and improve your watercolour skills. 3.15 - 6pm. £130 for course. Bookings to Becky Allen 020 8299 8732.

Thursday 11th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - Vases and Volcanoes - Sir William Hamilton and his Collection by Jane Gardiner. James Allen's Girls School 6th Form Lecture theatre at 8pm

Wednesday 24th Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibition Canaletto in England: A Venetian Artist Abroad 1746-1755 opens.

February 2007

Thursday 8th Dulwich decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - Great Tarts in Art: High Culture and the Oldest Profession by Linda Smith. James Allen's Girls' School 6th Form Lecture Theatre at 8pm

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