There has apparently been a failure of negotiations between the Dulwich Estate and a company named Citygrove Estates over the future of the Herne Hill Velodrome (see page 3). This may in the end be seen to be fortuitous. When negotiations, which descended into wrangling, between the original parties connected with the Velodrome; Southwark Council, the London Velodrome Trust, British Cycling, Burbage Road Residents Association and the Dulwich Estate were going on, there seemed little chance that the 2012 Olympic Games would be held in London.
All has now changed. If we are to give substance to the London Olympic bid team's claim in Singapore, that the Games should inspire Britain's youth involvement in sport, then the Herne Hill Velodrome, should and must, have a role in supporting this vision. The Olympic velodrome on the East London site which will be used in the Games will not be ready for some years, meanwhile, Herne Hill; the venue of the 1948 London Olympic Games is ready and waiting for the intensive training necessary and is the only such facility in London and the south of England, the nearest being in Manchester. It can also become a focal point again, in encouraging young people to take up the sport.
The stadium was underused; there was a failure of Southwark Council and many schools to use the facilities including the running track, the mountain-bike circuit or the expensively improved surface of the cycle track itself. The three year lease now granted to a cycling consortium by the Dulwich Estate gives a valuable breathing space. At the end of this lease, and four years before the Games open, the velodrome is likely be regarded as a national facility until the new London track is ready. The costs of such a facility are unlikely to be able to be borne by the consortium and it would be essential for the Greater London Authority to become directly involved as they have done over the Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre.
Commendable flexibility has been shown on the future for cycling at Herne Hill by the Dulwich Estate, much as their predecessors did when the track was first laid out by a small private consortium in 1892. To assuage the concern of local residents, covenants need to be included which would minimise disturbance, such as an agreed limit on major events, control of public address systems, the banning of motor-cycle paced events and a requirement no to let the stadium out to third parties. On the other hand, residents might have to accept the need for the track and some other areas to be floodlit.
As the Newsletter was about to go to print we heard the sad news of the death of our Vice-President Reg Collins. Reg was Chairman of the Dulwich Society from 1991-1995 and had been its vice-chairman from 1989. He had also been chairman of transport and planning committees in the 1980's. We extend our sincere sympathy to Sigrid.
On October 8 the Dulwich Society will host an historic event; the unveiling of the Edward Alleyn statue by the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Member of Parliament for Dulwich. It is one of the most ambitious projects the Society has undertaken. The life-size bronze statue of Edward Alleyn, sculpted by Louise Simson and raised on a York stone plinth is the culmination of a three year project by the Dulwich Society to mark what was felt to be a long overdue tribute to the Founder and benefactor of so many institutions, the benefits of which its members continue to enjoy. The occasion of the 400th anniversary of Alleyn's purchase of the Manor of Dulwich, from which financial base he was later able to launch his enduring legacy provides the people of Dulwich today with the opportunity of appropriately commemorating his act.
It is pleasing that the entire Foundation has associated itself with the project and that on October 8 the stewarding will be carried out by senior pupils of Alleyn's School and music will played by those from Dulwich College and James Allen's Girls' School. A Tribute to the memory of Edward Alleyn will be read by Julian Glover, a National Theatre Player and old boy of Alleyn's School. Dulwich Society members are cordially invited to attend the unveiling from 10.30am-12noon.
Both the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Horniman Museum recently won major awards. Dulwich Picture Gallery won the Independent Award at the Museums & Heritage Awards for Excellence 2005. The gallery was nominated by the British public as their favourite attraction. The Horniman Museum, which last year was awarded the title 'Museum of the Year', while its gardens won Green Flag status in both 2004 and 2005 has this year been awarded a £1.1m grant from ReDiscover - a pioneering fund for science centres.
With the money Horniman Museum is embarking on a £1.5m aquatic venture, scheduled to open in 2006. The area in the basement, currently housing the Horniman Library, will be completely transformed. Fifteen captivating life displays in seven distinctive zones are scheduled for construction with more than 250 different species of animals and plants going on display. It will replace the popular old aquarium. Transferring the animals in the now outdated aquarium presented a challenge as some of the fish were over ten years old.
It was the intention of the museum's founder, Frederick Horniman to show the Victorian public the living world close up. The displays will try to be true to his vision. The first zone - Drawn to Water - will display a typical Victorian-style parlour aquarium. British Pond Life is dedicated to educating visitors about the variety of life forms in endangered ponds across the UK. There will be viewing dens and an interactive learning zone so that visitors can view microscopic marine life beyond the reach of the naked eye. Drifters will be devoted to saltwater jellyfish and plankton. Seashores will show marine life found along the coastlines of the British Isles and will include a mesmerising display of seahorses along with a North Devon rockpool complete with crabs, shellfish and realistic wave surges Viewers will also be able to study examples of a Fijian Coral Reef, a Mangrove Swamp and a breathtaking South American Rain Forest featuring atmospheric sounds and a mind-boggling array of flora and fauna.
Although the Plough P.H. changed its name to the ridiculous Goose & Granite a few years ago, such was the outcry that it bore the even more ridiculous name of The Goose & Granite at the Plough. Corporate madness knows no bounds, who, in his (or her) right mind would pass up the 200 years of tradition and the free advertisement on those London buses (and trams before them) that terminated at The Plough? Transport for London, not unexpectedly re-titled their bus terminus in East Dulwich as Dulwich Library in the face of intransigence by the pub owners. We now note that the pub has been given its old name back on large hoardings at front and side. What is now urgently needed is the hiding of the bare walls by the introduction of some ivy and the replacement of the fine old Plane tree that once softened the angular but distinctive lines of the Plough.
Although relegated over thirty years ago by the Vatican to be classed as a second-division saint, England's patron saint - St George, has had further ignominy cast upon him, this time by a rather less elevated body - Messrs Mitchells and Butler Leisure Retail Ltd. The company is the current owner of the Crown & Greyhound in Dulwich Village and has made an application to extend the operating hours of the pub from 10am-Midnight daily. In addition, extensions to these opening hours by 1-2 hours are being sought on Valentine's Day, Burns' Night, St. David's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Halloween and all the Bank Holidays. * But no St. George's Day! Are we to be offended that our Patron Saint is omitted from the year's festivals, or relieved we are spared being awoken by revellers at 2am? Scottish readers should direct their complaints for the omission of St. Andrew to Messrs Mitchell and Butler, not the Editor!
On a sad note with regard to the Crown & Greyhound we are sorry to record the death this year of both Dorene and Sydney Kitching who were very popular licensees for over twenty years from 1950's. Sidney became a publican following his leaving the RAF in which he served as a fighter pilot in World War ll.
*The Dulwich Society has objected to the proposed extended opening times.
The vacancy on the board of trustees of the Dulwich Estate, which is the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his capacity as Visitor to Alleyn's College of God's Gift, has been most appropriately filled by The Venerable Robin Turner CB. Robin Turner was Chaplain in Chief of the Royal Air Force and on his retirement was obliged to forgo the benefits of the rank of Air-Vice Marshall and chauffeur driven car and turn to decorating his house at Forest Hill under the direction of his wife! Shortly after, he took up the post of Chaplain of Dulwich College with the added task of teaching boys of all ages. After initial qualms, Robin settled down to thoroughly enjoy his new career. He also acted as honorary curate at St. Stephen's, South Dulwich until his second retirement. He was then appointed Canon of Southwell. The Archbishop's choice of Robin as his representative on the board of the Dulwich Estate is an inspired one.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is promoting a sponsored walk with a difference, in Dulwich, on Sunday 2nd October. The Devoted to Life Walk will offer a historical tour of Dulwich, taking in landmarks from the fascinating history as you stroll through its prettiest parts. There are two options: a 5km walk and a 10km option - depending on how fit you are feeling. Many walkers take part to remember a friend or a loved one. Others simply enjoy a day's walking in a beautiful setting. By walking you can make a difference to the lives of cancer patients and their families by raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. For more information please call 0870 240 1021 or visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/events/devotedtolifewalks
Following on from the two previous successful lecture series, The Victorians and The Georgians, Dulwich Picture Gallery's Education department has assembled an impressive list of lecturers for The Stuarts its new series which commences on September 27 and concludes on July 25, 2006. The cost of the 19 lecture series is £133 and takes place on selected Tuesdays 10.30-11.30am in the Linbury Room. Bookings to Georgina Pope 020 8299 8732.
The Friends of the Gallery present a Tuesday Evening Lecture Series - A History of British Art. This course of 6 lectures starts at 7.45pm on Tuesday 20 September in the Linbury Room. Course fee £48. Bookings to Brenda Jones (020 7771 1409).
There has been a concerted campaign by local residents, concerned by the decision of the Dulwich Estate to offer the boundary of a sports field in Gallery Road as a site for the installation of two 60' high mobile telephone masts. They argue that this will not only spoil the rural appearance of Gallery Road for residents and visitors to the Picture Gallery alike, but the proposed masts will be in a Conservation Area. They also stress that these masts are of the powerful type which emit a beam of maximum intensity over a 200 metre radius. They point out that the field proposed is used by Pelo Football as a playing field used daily by youngsters for football training and that the pavilion in the neighbouring field will be used for at least a year by the children at Dulwich College Preparatory School Nursery during rebuilding of their main school.
The proposal has naturally alarmed the Prep school parents who claim that the Stewart Report, which prompted recent government health warnings about the danger to children by their using mobile telephones, "even in an emergency", also advises against positioning of masts near schools. In addition to the Prep Nursery, the radius of the 200 metre beam from the masts will also encompass the Dulwich Picture Gallery's education facility and classroom as well as local houses.
The Society's policy is to object to all applications within the Conservation Area and particularly near schools. Southwark Council planners recently refused an application for a shorter mast on the corner of Allison Grove and Dulwich Common and hopefully they will do the same for the one in Alleyn Park by the railway bridge.
A press release issued just before the Newsletter's copy date confirmed that the Velodrome would open for cycling on August 5. An agreement has been reached between the Dulwich Estate and the British Cycling Federation on a three year lease. It appears that both the London Velodrome Trust and the Velo Club de Londres are also involved. The Society further understands that Southwark Council has agreed to provide some additional financial backing but at this stage it is not clear if this has been taken up.
At the same time the Dulwich Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates to look at various options for a more secure future for the track. Both the Society and the local residents' associations have made their views clear to the Estate on the sustainable nature of any proposed development.
In the last Newsletter we reported on a proposed redevelopment at Bullfinch Court, just north of the Croxted Road shops. The scheme was for 17 social housing units of various sizes, each with its own private garden, planned around a central parking court in an area at present occupied by garages. The Society objected to the density, layout and design of the scheme and we were pleased to note that the application was subsequently withdrawn. A revised and much improved scheme by a different architect was shown to local residents at a public exhibition at the end of June.
Ujima is a housing association which has several projects proceeding in the area. There has been some concern over one named Surrey Mews, located adjacent to the Estate behind the Sir Joseph Paxton PH. It appears that the new houses were built much closer to the site boundary than had been shown on the original drawings and that neighbour aspect was severely compromised. Lambeth Council subsequently refused a retrospective planning application for the houses and the case has gone to appeal. Some local residents feel that Ujima has been less than sympathetic to their concerns and the errors should have been dealt with much earlier.
S.G. Smith & Company is applying for consent to remove the former filling station at the Gilkes Crescent end of their property and also to demolish the canopy over the present filling station at the Calton Avenue end and turn both spaces into car parks, presumably for car sales vehicles. The removal of the 1930's filling station will mean the loss of the only attractive building on the site while the other will be the loss of a major Village amenity. It will also mean that the nearest petrol stations will be Croxted Road or London Road.
Two recent cases where councillors of Southwark Council Planning Committee refused applications against their officers' advice have been upheld. These are for an additional house in the rear garden of 9 Dulwich Village and for the demolition of the Sir Ernest Shackleton PH and its replacement by flats on the Kingswood Estate.
After a year's break, the Dulwich Festival returned under the direction of a new team led by Alpha Hopkins and Nina Jex. Over 40 events took place over the ten-day period of the Festival in and around Dulwich. We had the backing of local resident Jo Brand who kindly agreed to launch the Festival in local newspapers and magazines.
As in previous years, there were many and varied events to suit a wide range of tastes, pockets and age groups. Everything was well-attended and, once again, the Festival managed to capture the enthusiasm of Dulwich.
As well as featuring many of the popular events of previous festivals - walks, workshops, talks, musical concerts - there were some new ones. The Festival kicked off with a new type of event - a debate focussing on this year's Make Poverty History campaign. It was a gamble which paid off - it sold out and the debate itself could have run and run. Another successful addition to Festival's programme was the evening of 1920s, '30s and '40s music held at Beauberry House. Guests were invited to come and dress up in the style of the period and, on one balmy Sunday evening, Belair was scene to a host of flapper girls, farm girls and gangster with their molls. The band Blue Harlem hit the roof with tunes from Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin and people Charleston-ed the night away.
One of the more intriguing events was 'Art of Permanence and Change', a week-long exhibition of artistic activity in Sydenham Hill Wood. Over 20 artists from the UK and overseas were invited to develop a discourse between the past, present and future function of the woods. When exploring the woods visitors would discover many surprises - during its first weekend, performance artists took over the woods and visitors came across many acts including a woman dressed in black with a black labrador letting off black balloons, tree stumps which had been wallpapered, and an acrobat performing on a single rope suspended from a tree.
There was a strong film element to the programme. This year marked the first South London Short Film-Makers Competition. There were almost
40 entries and, in a hotly contested competition for the documentary prize, the eventual winner was won by Jonathan Goodman Levitt for 'Gangbreaker'. In showed former South London gang member Errol describing his personal decision to move away from the teenage world of tit-for-tat violence, and to become a youth worker; encouraging young kids on the streets to avoid his previous and perilous path. At times tragic and moving, it explored the devastating impact of gang violence on South London's black community.
There were lots of events to entertain children. 'Finding Alleyn in Dulwich' was a beautifully illustrated history game which had children finding out about Dulwich's past. Children were invited to draw a picture about an aspect of Dulwich they found particularly inspiring. Their pictures were then exhibited in the Sackler Centre at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Again at the gallery, Jon Snow came to talk about his career as a journalist to a sell-out audience.
The Festival rounded off on the final Sunday with a hugely popular Teddy Bears' Picnic in Dulwich Park. Over 200 people gathered in the Rhododendron Area with their teddy bears to munch through picnics, play games and watch a version of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' enacted by the youth group of the Dulwich Players.
Plans are now afoot for next year's Festival. Alpha Hopkins and Nina Jex, co-directors of the Festival said, "The Festival was a tremendous team effort with great support from venues and volunteers alike. We were particularly grateful to the previous Festival Directors for all their behind-the-scenes guidance. We were delighted that the Festival was such a success this year; we are looking forward to building on that, learning from it and designing a whole host of delights for Dulwich in May 2006."
The provisional dates for next year's Dulwich Festival are 12-21 May and developments for 2006 include more children's and adults' workshops, a food festival, a poetry competition and the possibility of online ticketing. If you'd like to take part in the Festival or have any suggestions for next year's programme, please do contact the Dulwich Festival on 020 8299 1011 or log on to the website, www.dulwichfestival.co.uk.