On Saturday 9 October 2005 most of the strands that make up Dulwich life were represented at the unveiling of the statue of Edward Alleyn in front of the College he founded. It was appropriate that the 400th anniversary of his purchase of the Manor of Dulwich should be commemorated in this way, because without Edward Alleyn, Dulwich would not be the pleasant place it is today. It was also appropriate that the project for the long-overdue statue to this far-sighted man should be carried out by the Dulwich Society.
The Dulwich Society represents most of the varied interests of this unique suburb of London. Many of its members are closely tied to Edward Alleyn's Foundation, either as former pupils or governors of its schools or parents of pupils. Others have an interest in the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the existence of which is in no small measure the due to Alleyn's legacy. A great number of others have chosen to live in Dulwich because of its beautiful and well-kept open space, another legacy of the Foundation.
The cost of providing the statue, together with its plinth and inscriptions, far exceeded the original estimate of £30,000. This was largely because the Selection Panel chose a design which had two figures, rather than the expected one! The difficulties with site access also made the treatment of the plinth a much more complicated and expensive issue. Fortunately, the sums subscribed by thirty-five generous patrons, a large donation from the Dulwich Estate on behalf of all its beneficiaries, including the Foundation Schools, together with almost 100 donations from individuals almost kept pace with the costs. As a result, there was a shortfall of £1500 on final expenses of just under £50,000. Further donations to erase this small deficit would be welcome.
While the statue is, perhaps, the Society's most significant contribution towards the Dulwich scene, it continues its role of fostering and safeguarding the amenities of Dulwich as set out in its object. It is therefore equally important to note the work its members do in the sub-committees through which it functions. Major improvements to pedestrian safety have been achieved by the Transport and Traffic Group, details of which are reported elsewhere in this issue. The Local History Group has assisted with the itemising of papers passed on to Dulwich College's Archives by the Dulwich Estate and with the cataloguing of Bill de Baerdemaecker's collection of slides presented to Southwark Local Studies Library. The Trees Group has continued to plant trees to enhance the Dulwich landscape and with the Wildlife Group has made an important contribution to the dialogue on the re-ordering of Dulwich Park and securing areas for wildlife to thrive. The Garden Group continues its extensive programme of garden visits to members' gardens, a useful medium through which members are able to keep in touch. Finally, the Planning Group keeps a vigilant eye on development proposals which might impact on Dulwich, and next year plans an architectural exhibition showing successful examples of local building which have taken place in recent years.
All these sub-committees welcome new members from the Society. If you think you can make a contribution to their work through your own expertise or are interested in being of help, then do contact the chairmen each group whose contact details are printed on the previous page.
Report by Hilary Rosser
What would Dulwich be like if Edward Alleyn had not purchased the Manor 400 years ago this October? There is no reason to think that it would have been a centre for educational excellence, with three Foundation schools at its core, and therefore a magnet for house-hunting parents from a wide area. Those of us who were not drawn to Dulwich by the schools were probably attracted by its environmental advantages; the open spaces, the trees and the playing fields which would long since have been built over but for Alleyn's College of God's Gift and the Dulwich Estate.
Alleyn has a lasting memorial in the Chapel, Edward Alleyn House and the schools, but a physical reminder in the form of a statue was long overdue. At the instigation of the Dulwich Society and thanks to the hard work and perseverance of some of its members this omission has at last been rectified. An Open Competition was held in 2004 and the design of a local sculptor, Louise Simson was chosen. A life-size sculpture to that design was unveiled on the green fronting the Old College on Saturday 9 October by our local M.P., the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell.
The occasion was blessed with fine, dry weather and was attended by around 400 people including many Dulwich Society members and other local residents. After Ms. Jowell had spoken briefly, we were treated to a colourful resume' of Alleyn's life as an actor, husband, entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, delivered by Julian Glover, himself a former pupil of Alleyn's, where he received inspiration and encouragement for his subsequent distinguished acting career.
The three Foundation schools were in attendance: Alleyn's School pupils stewarded the event while music contemporary with Alleyn's time was provided by the Dulwich College Ensemble and the James Allen's Girls' School Ensemble and singers, enhancing the delightful nature of the occasion.
And what of the statue itself? It is a composition full of vitality, depicting a youthful Alleyn in doublet and hose bending towards a young boy who stretches out his hands in response, while Alleyn raises his other arm in the direction of the Foundation buildings. The sculpture claims the passer-by's attention by its sense of movement and by the engagement of the characters with each other.
Would Alleyn himself have approved? One suspects not! The self-image he was keen to promote once he had bought the Manor of Dulwich in 1605 and established his College of God's Gift some ten years later, was of a respected, philanthropic man of property. We are all familiar with this image through the portrait Alleyn presumably commissioned, which shows him as a soberly but richly dressed bearded man full of years and gravitas. Were Alleyn to have commissioned a statue of himself to stand in his College's grounds, it would presumably have been designed to convey the same message as his painted portrait. Such a statue, like many London statues of nineteenth century worthies, would have lacked vitality and hardly have prompted a second glance from passers-by.
Gatherings of Friends, invoked to support worthy local institutions, monuments and open spaces, have grown and multiplied in recent years. Dulwich has developed its own impressive array of them As with amenity societies, residents' associations and other voluntary organisations the only certainty is that, however many of them one has recognised there will always be yet another one that has been left out, often to the indignation of its supporters. It is clearly high time to make a proper taxonomic study of the nature, behaviour and common features of an important species. This is little more than a cautious introduction to an emotive theme.
One class of single issue group emerges when there is a cause to fight, with a clearly defined opposition. The Crystal Palace Campaign was a notably successful example: the Save Dulwich Hospital campaign was another. It is sometimes more difficult to maintain community support for what happens subsequently. When more than one body exercises a proprietary voice on behalf of the community this can make life difficult for the local council, hospital authority, or any other body which actually owns the property, especially if it may unguardedly have expressed an intention to dispose of an underperforming asset. One has some sympathy with hard-pressed local authorities trying to allocate scarce financial resources. At the same time there has been deep suspicion, often justified, of development with an eye only to financial gain. Friends' groups have arisen to assert the community's interest in preserving a local amenity where its survival is threatened, or where it has manifestly been neglected for some time, perhaps with a conscious eye on "planning blight".
We are still not free of the painful long-term consequences of a country virtually bankrupted by two world wars. Destruction of the Crystal Palace occurred independently of these, but cumulative neglect of our public parks and other Victorian features has continued for most of the last century. Buildings become obsolete. Some local institutions such as Dulwich Hospital have lost their original functions and have sought new ones. Victorian cemeteries have filled and public baths have emptied, horse troughs and drinking fountains provide less succour than petrol stations to needy travellers; cycle stadia no longer meet metric specifications; libraries founded through the charity of public-spirited Victorian figures like Carnegie and Passmore-Edwards now give more shelf prominence to CDs and DVDs than to books; the permanent collection of the South London Gallery is now cocooned in bubble-wrap and is in deep storage.
Identifying a new community need for superannuated assets is often a necessary first step in bringing about their rescue or rehabilitation, but it is not enough to see the process through. Local authorities have now become more responsive to the declared wishes of local communities. Friends' groups have certainly helped to articulate these. Local authorities may also welcome them because they hope to raise more money in this way from local communities, but this is probably only a long-term aspiration. Councils must sometimes regard Friends' Groups as being as much an irritant as a blessing, but the Heritage Lottery Fund has been a positive godsend in obtaining new funding to renovate local parks and galleries, and the existence of active Friends' groups has certainly been a key feature in securing this. The Dulwich Park Friends, for example, helped Southwark Council considerably in assembling the Lottery Fund application.
Local councils have not only been the custodians of less than welcome long-term assets. Dulwich Picture Gallery was for many years owned uncomfortably by Alleyn's College Estates. The contrast between what the Gallery now is and was in the 1960's could hardly be more acute. Then it showed every symptom of being little more than an expensive liability, instead of a priceless asset. The Estates Governors were reluctant to provide even heating or artificial light. The Gallery has been probably the most striking local example of where a vigorous Friends' organisation has contributed greatly to the success of the Gallery's now thriving and widening reputation. Last year the Friends' celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. They have been largely instrumental in providing much of the Gallery's civilising atmosphere and amenity, in close co-operation with a recent succession of active Directors.
The status of the Gallery was transformed when it parted from the other beneficiaries in 1995 into a separate Trust, when Alleyn's College Estates was reorganised as The Dulwich Estate. Independence such as this has invariably been the most effective way of focussing the management and finance of similar institutions. This has certainly served the Horniman Museum well, but also leaves these institutions with the responsibility of finding most of their financial capital (either with or without the support of the local authority).
Both of these institutions have benefited immeasurably from having active Friends' organisations. The Picture Gallery has achieved financial independence largely through the generosity of its patrons, and like other galleries in London it has established a slightly privileged hierarchy of access among its Friends. Unlike the Horniman Museum the Dulwich Gallery charges for general admission, so the Friends derive financial advantage from belonging, as well as from their admission to special exhibitions, for which the Horniman is able to charge. Both institutions have also benefited from large Lottery Fund grants and the Friends have helped to raise substantial additional finance.
The Picture Gallery's current total of around six thousand Friends is a continuing source of pride. Friends' activities, both in the Dulwich Picture Gallery and in the Horniman, continue to be organised through programmes separate from the exhibitions and special events arranged by the Galleries themselves, which can cause occasional confusion to visitors. There is a current debate in several galleries whether to bring Friends' organisations "in house" to avoid this, but it is generally regarded as important that Friends are a valuable measure of community support and should have their independent existence.
Friends' groups help to assert that local communities regard their public assets as being of social value which is greater than merely their financial development value. They seem to function best where they work in close collaboration with the authorities responsible for managing these assets, where individual institutions are under active and imaginative direction, and where the adequacy of their finances is assured and budgets are under their own control. This is a formula we hope can develop further.
This has been a good summer for the Garden Group. A wide variety of local gardens were opened for our members and we are truly grateful to the owners for all the work that they put in to prepare them for our visit and for the helpful advice they give. One garden had a large- scale model railway, which appealed not only to the children - a 90 year old was spotted taking a ride! A number of charities benefited from these openings, and our plant sale organised by Sylvia and Ken Daniel raised £220 for the Mildmay Mission Hospital.
Every year we hold a competition. This year, to celebrate the Group's 25th anniversary, it was for the best silver (or white) flower. The winner was Judith Ward with a splendid Begonia, closely followed at joint second by Maureen Springbett with an outstanding Hydrangea and Eric Hamilton with a most unusual and attractive Clematis.
The weather was perfect for both of our full day outings. The first was to two of the finest gardens in England, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter. More recently we had a thoroughly enjoyable day at Kew, which included a particularly interesting guided tour.
John Ward (Chairman, Garden Group)
A number of improvements in road safety have recently been achieved by the Dulwich Society through the "Walk to School Campaign" promoted by Transport for London (TfL). These improvements followed consultation by the Society with local schools, Southwark Council members and officers and TfL. The places identified by the Dulwich Society and where work has been carried out include new zebra crossings built across Burbage Road and outside Alleyn's School in Townley Road and the entry treatment at the junction of Woodwarde Road and Calton Avenue. These measures will make it safer for children to walk to and from the Village schools as well as JAGS and Alleyn's.
The new speed table and crossing on Red Post Hill makes it safer for pupils from roads on the west side of Red Post Hill, including those in the North Dulwich triangle to get to school. It also slows the traffic in Red Post Hill, which was a big problem for residents there. The Dulwich Society worked with the Red Post Hill Residents' Association to achieve this change.
In the Village, changes to the layout of the roundabout at the south end are an improvement with the new island and cycle slip slowing southbound vehicles, but there are still conflicts between traffic coming from Gallery Road and traffic coming round the roundabout.
Finally, as the Newsletter goes to print, a new crossing is being built across the South Circular Road near the Queen Mary Gate. There, road crossing has previously been very hazardous for people alighting from buses and wanting to reach the Park or various sports grounds as well as for residents of Hambledon Place attempting to cross the road.
Alastair Hanton (Chairman, Traffic and Transport Group)
Cycling has now returned to the Velodrome but local residents have been concerned over the management of events. In one recent case, the track's managers, the Velo Club de Londrés, failed to open the gates to allow cars to park on the site. This caused chaos in Burbage Road and considerable annoyance to everyone in the area.
At the same time the Society understands that the Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates to look at various development options which might provide a more secure future for the track. Both the Society and local residents' associations have reminded the Estate that any development not directly related to cycling will be unwelcome.
Southwark recently refused applications for a mast on the corner of Allison Grove and Dulwich Common and hopefully they will do the same for one in Alleyn Park by the railway bridge. Lambeth has also turned down a proposal for a mast on the corner of Rosendale Road and Lovelace Road.
A large number of people objected to the proposed mast on the Pelo Sports Ground, the subject of a recent consultation exercise by the Estate, and the Society awaits alternative proposals on suitable sites which will not impact on schools and homes.
Southwark's proposed extension of the Controlled Parking Zone in Burbage Road, Carver Road and North Dulwich is rapidly turning into a consultation disaster. Despite requests for further discussion, the Council's consultants have consistently refused to meet local residents' associations and we understand that even Councillors are having trouble in finding out what is actually happening.
S G Smith's application for Planning and Conservation Area Consent to remove the old tyre bay building on Gilkes Crescent, and demolish the canopy over the petrol station and turn both into car parks, has been turned down by Southwark on design grounds. The Council considered that the scheme did nothing to maintain or enhance the character of the conservation area.
Unfortunately the petrol pumps have already been removed - their retention is not a planning matter, and the site is being used as a car park for cars waiting to be serviced.
There has been a recent application to Southwark to demolish an existing 1950s house in Frank Dixon Way and replace it with a larger mock- Georgian style house. The architectural character of the road has always been medium sized detached houses on relatively wide plots. Over the years many houses have been extended but generally in such a way that the overall appearance has been preserved. While the Society is not against demolition in principle it is concerned that the new house will be much larger (to justify the costs of the site) and that this will impact upon the open character of the area. The society has objected to the current application.
The spate of residents carrying out unauthorised works on their properties, particularly to hard standings, continues. The latest problems have been in Red Post Hill, where the garden walls that protected the listed village mile post have been removed leaving it exposed and a prime target for reversing cars.
There was no response to the note in the last magazine about the growing problem of the impact of the green and brown dustbins on front gardens. Are residents generally happy with the visual clutter caused? Are they happy to trip over the bins left on the pavement? Do they not consider that there may be a better way?
In association with Margaret McConnell, the Dulwich Society has provided a fine wooden bench-seat in memory of the late Brian McConnell QGM, the erstwhile editor of this Newsletter and distinguished Fleet Street journalist who died aged 75 in July 2004. The inscribed seat is located outside the College Road Gate of Dulwich Park.
Numerous complaints have been made at the monopolising of public road space around the S.G. Smith Motors Group's showroom and garage in Dulwich Village. Not only can customers using Village shops not find a parking space, but residents in Gilkes Crescent are facing a similar problem caused by the parking of cars awaiting servicing, in front of their houses. Further concern over the appearance of the garage is also being voiced - weeds are growing in profusion and the entire service complex is unsatisfactory in a Conservation Area. While it begs the question whether businesses of this type should be located in a Conservation Area, it has to be accepted that the garage is a long established feature of the area. Paradoxically, many residents like the 1930's style filling station and some would like to seek a building listing from English Heritage.
So, what to do? Parking restrictions around the Village centre are a long overdue. Treated sympathetically, as has been carried out in Lordship Lane, some restriction would seem to offer the best solution. There, 30 minute waiting is permitted in marked bays. One thing is certain; the situation cannot be allowed to drift on. The general public should not be inconvenienced by the cavalier treatment of a commercial company and a half-dismantled petrol station at one end of the complex is hardly a good advertisement for either SG Smith or Dulwich.
Two recent news reports, one good and one bad, might influence those of nervous disposition. In the first report, in the aftermath of the New Orleans flooding, fears were expressed concerning global warming and the possible rise in sea levels. The report said that in the event of the Thames Barrier failing to control exceptionally high tides, parts of Lambeth would be inundated. History also reminds us that Peckham flooded in the middle ages. Not good news for residents in the Effra or Peck river flood plains. Out of sight, the rivers might be, being now converted to sewers, but not apparently out of mind.
So what about the good news? Well, at the same time as this bad news was released, came the announcement that among the national monuments that have been provisionally listed for international protection in case of war under The Hague Convention of 1954, is the Horniman Museum. It thus joins a list which includes13 other national museums (but not the Dulwich Picture Gallery), 23 world heritage sites and Britain's seven legal deposit libraries.
Thus the nervous resident is advised to move to the high ground close to the Horniman Museum and thus avoid being both flooded and bombed!
You may have seen what you thought was an oil drilling rig in Calton Avenue recently. We have to report that it was not drilling for oil but it is an exploratory part of the scheme for a 50 mile Ring Main to transfer water supplies around London. Thames Water is proposing a 3 mile extension tunnel between Peckham and Brixton, hence the investigation in Calton Avenue. The average depth of the Ring Main will be 40 metres and the giant pipe will be large enough to drive a car through. As with the original Ring Main, work will be completed by underground boring machines to minimise disruption at ground level. The main ring will be well below the level of the oyster beds along Dulwich Village which have been revealed by other local digging operations.
Barrie says it's usually dealt with in 24-48 hours.
The Dulwich Society Traffic and Transport Committee has received an increasing number of reports of potholes appearing in local roads. These potholes are a particular danger to cyclists, especially in wet weather. The hotline for reporting this hazard is the same as quoted above. In addition, identification of the location of the potholes can be reported to the same email address. Faults in TfL roads can be reported by ringing 0845 305 1234.
Southwark Council is systemically visiting every road in the Borough and removing all redundant road signage and repositioning signs which remain relevant but whose fixing location could be improved by utilising an alternative location and removing its post. In conjunction with this Southwark is also formalising a policy of streetscape design, part of which will reduce the numbers of unnecessary items being installed. An example of this is within 20 mile per hour speed zones where signs formerly gave warning of humps. Such signs within the zones are to be removed. A change in traffic regulations also means that where double yellow lines exist there is no longer a requirement to display an enforcement sign plate. These are being removed, together with the posts.
Over 200 local people attended an open day at Dulwich Community Hospital in July to open a new exhibition called Building the past into our future and learn about the many varied local health and social care services provided in Dulwich. The permanent exhibition celebrates both the history of Dulwich Hospital and shares Southwark Health and Social Care's exciting plans to develop the new community hospital.
The plans for the new building show a three to four-storey building on the east of the site. The compact design of the building makes it easy for patients to receive treatment at different points when they visit and combine appointments with access to a wide range of health and social care professionals. The community hospital will include services such as:
There will be a strong emphasis on rehabilitation services designed to get patients back on their feet and into their own homes.
A programme to move services into temporary accommodation on the site and undertake other preparatory works will begin in the New Year.
For further information, please contact Wendy Foreman on 020 7525 2245 or visit www.dulwichcommunityhospital.nhs.uk.
The Dulwich Society's application to English Heritage to preserve the 'chateau' style main block of Dulwich Hospital has been rejected. The building was assessed in 1994 and again in 2002. On both occasions it was considered that the building was too altered and not of high enough architectural quality to recommend listing. The main arguments for its rejection were that the former St Saviour's Workhouse Infirmary which opened in 1887 was not innovative for its date in terms of plan form, which by then was a fairly orthodox pavilion plan. English Heritage concede that there is 'some fine detailing, particularly the impressive central range (the chateau element)..it has been systematically altered and extended so that on balance, it is not of sufficient interest, in the national context to merit listing."
The Dulwich Society however thinks that English Heritage have considered the Hospital in toto for listing, not the chateau block alone, and a re-application is to be made.
A recent visit to the Hospital by a member of the Society led him to express great concern over the deterioration of the fabric "It has clearly had no external decoration for many years; window cills were rotting and vegetation was growing out of the gutters and parapets. There is also evidence serious damp penetration internally. While we know that the medium term plan is to demolish parts of the hospital to build a new community hospital, that is no reason to let buildings that will be remaining go into decline".
The area around the lake in Belair is fast becoming a battlefield between the Friends of Belair Park and Southwark Council. The cause of conflict is over the appropriate use of this part of the park ; wildlife conservationists, no doubt encouraged by the return of flora and fauna to the lakeside when it was left to go wild following the dredging of the lake itself, are now pressing for a wildlife walk along the banks. Other lovers of Belair Park are keen it is returned to its original state as an ornamental lake, with neat lawns sweeping down from the mansion and regard the obstruction to the view caused by long grass and foliage as an irritation. The idea of siting an ecology area in that corner of Belair where the spill from the lake was dumped is surely the most satisfactory conclusion.
On a more encouraging note; the refurbishment of Belair's tennis courts is a splendid improvement. The 'free-play' on the courts at present being offered is also to be welcomed and the temporary skate-board ramp sited next to the courts appears to be a great success.
Review by Hazel Broadfoot
Are you a super-duper, totally fulfilled mother twenty-four hours a day? Do you give your children home-made risotto, help them with their homework, read a fairy story and sing them to sleep? Or do you give them chicken nuggets in front of the telly, herd them to bed and slump down exhausted with a large glass of wine?
Local author Stephanie Calman, founder of www.badmothersclub.co.uk tells it as it really is in her brilliantly funny new book Confessions of a Bad Mother - read it, and know - at last - that you are Normal!
On the Street Where You Live - Ian McInnes continues his series on Dulwich's development