Just when you don’t expect it, the central heating boiler breaks down. Or in my case it caught fire. There was a certain amount of excitement late at night in Burbage Road when two fire appliances arrived with blue-lights flashing and sirens howling, despite my assurances that these were really not necessary. Forty-five minutes and half a dozen burly firemen later the smoke had cleared, the boiler declared safe and we awaited the arrival, in the now small hours, of the emergency gas fitter to shut off the gas.
So far, as it was high summer, so good.
When such a major item of household comfort is rendered useless it is necessary to look for a replacement. As it was summer there was not the extreme urgency there might have been if the problem had occurred in the depths of winter. Inconvenient, yes. Impossible to live with? No. After all, as a member of the Youth Hostel Association in the 1950’s, I grew used to shaving in cold water.
With the media taking great delight in telling the public of the anticipated large increases to come in the costs of gas and electricity, it seemed logical to consider greener, safer and hopefully cheaper sources of energy. I thought, what about solar heating?
My architect friends in the Dulwich Society sagely shook their heads. “You’ll never get your money back” was the general response. Undaunted, I looked at Yellow Pages for someone in South London who might be prepared to quote for installing solar heating – there was not one advertisement in my 2008/0 edition offering solar heating services.
Now this is very odd. What is even odder is that neither local nor national government seems to be advocating or even seriously considering solar power. Not even a squeak out of the ‘Dulwich Going Greener Campaign’. No helpful leaflet from such sources, trumpeting solar power’s beneficial and economic qualities had accompanied the pizza and Indian takeaway menus pushed through my letter box. Plenty of airtime and newspaper columns describing alternative energy sources were evident – ghastly wind farms impairing the view of sea or mountain, risky harnessing of the Severn Bore, emulating Canute by attempting to use wave power; certainly all of those. But I am not proposing some new and untried invention, solar heating has been around for years. So where is the political will and the accompanying business plan to put solar panels on 20 million homes? Surely it does not require a Maynard Keynes to calculate the reduction in unit costs mass manufacture and marketing would create.
Of course in the end my patience ran out. British Gas was called and three weeks later a new gas boiler installed. We are awaiting the first, (hugely increased) bill.
In conjunction with several of Dulwich’s smaller residents’ associations, and many individual house owners, the Society has objected in the strongest possible terms to the current lessees of the Beauberry House Restaurant’s proposed application to extend their licensing hours.
The owners are seeking a 3 hour extension on Monday, Tuesday and Sunday, 1 hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 2 hours on Saturday. If granted, this would mean that the restaurant is open till 3:30 am every day except Saturday when it will close at 4:30am (on Sunday morning).
These hours are not those of a normal restaurant and it would appear that the lessee is proposing to operate a night club. The current use of the building is already causing considerable nuisance to surrounding residents and, by encouraging inappropriate types of entertainment through the night, the extension of licensing hours is likely to cause further public nuisance and impact on residents quiet enjoyment of their gardens.
The current lessees seem to take no notice of any restrictions on their existing operating licence, allowing customers to make noise outside, leaving windows open etc. The terms of their lease apparently require the operation of a ‘high class restaurant’ but their current method of operation is anything but.
Dulwich is a residential area. Although Beauberry House is situated in a park there are a large number of houses less than 100 metres away in College Gardens, and many more on the other side of the park, in Burbage and Turney Roads. There are no obstructions in between and the noise from the restaurant carries across to them.
These additional periods are unacceptable and this application should be refused in its entirety on the grounds of prevention of public nuisance and the ensuring of public safety by the prevention of potential crime and disorder. The Councillors on the committee should respond to the large number of objections (nearly 70 at the last count) and dismiss this application.
An organisation really can feel that it has arrived when it becomes an item in the legendary ‘The Knowledge’; the London taxi-drivers required encyclopaedic body of destinations, places of interest and information each candidate for the coveted Hackney Carriage license is required to instantly recall at what is termed ‘The Appearance’. The whereabouts of the Dulwich Society is noted on the fact sheet as being the Society’s notice board in front of Dulwich Hamlet School. This might soon change as it is anticipated that the notice board will be relocated to beneath the Post Office canopy further along the Village where it will be in close proximity to the Dulwich Village postal cart.
Following three years of careful restoration by Society members Willis Walker and Graham Nash, paint analysis by Dr Ian Bristow and conservation advice by National Portrait Gallery restorer Sophie Plender, the Village’s original postal cart, found by the Society’s vice-chairman Kenneth Wolfe in an antique shop at Tower Bridge where it stood in their yard and rescued by the Dulwich Society has now been completed.
It is uncertain when the cart was first used in Dulwich Village, although the hamlet of Dulwich officially became Dulwich Village following the consecration of its parish church of St Barnabas in1893 and the lettering on the cart indicates a period following this date. These more hybrid type of postal carts were replaced by a standardised Royal Mail cart in 1915.
Surprisingly, Ian Bristow found the original body paint to be a blue-green colour and the nearest BS specification shade has been used. The lining out and lettering follows the original and is in scarlet and gold. The wheels are in scarlet lined with black and gold. The original roof cover was identified by the Victoria & Albert Museum and replaced with a similar material. Willis and Graham were later to discover that the original cover had the faded outlines of battens and were able to replicate these on the roof of the cart. The original interior shelving, drawers and ironmongery were incredibly all found intact when the cart was purchased. What has been its history in the near century after it left Dulwich Village, and why these features were allowed to survive is so far unknown.
From the late 19th century until the present Post Office was opened in the 1990’s, the Village’s post office was located on the opposite side of the road in what is now Question Air. It originally combined the services of a post office with that of G. Dean & Co Bakers and later with that of a wool shop.
The post cart will be displayed on a raised stand in the window of the post office from 1st November, on which day the figure of the poor boy, wrenched from the statue of Edward Alleyn, will be replaced and fitted with very secure bolts designed for the Society by David Roberts.
Bromley Council continues with the mammoth task of reviewing the voluminous contents of the London Development Agency’s application for outline planning permission for regeneration of Crystal Palace Park, based on the Master Plan produced by Latz and Partners, a firm of landscape architects with a good track record.
Bromley’s Planning Committee is expected to make its decision at a meeting to take place on 22 October 2008. There is likely to be a pre-meeting about a week earlier to address mainly procedural issues.
Though the statutory period for making representations on the application has long since expired, Bromley Planning have for a long time taken the position that they will receive representations from interested parties right up to the date of the hearing of the application. The Dulwich Society’s Executive Committee decided to make short representations supporting the general aims of the proposals, particularly the “greening” of the centre of the park with the removal of much of the obtrusive buildings, structures and car parks associated with the National Sports Centre. Strong reservations were however expressed about the proposals to construct housing on the Rockhills site at the top of Westwood Hill. It is understood that other local amenity societies with aims similar to ours, such as the Sydenham Society and the Norwood Society, have made similar representations.
The following a letter has sent by the Dulwich Society to Bromley Council.
London Borough of Bromley
Bromley BR1 3UH
Crystal Palace Park Masterplan Application – Ref: 07/03897/OUT
The Dulwich Society is an amenity society registered with the Civic Trust and has a membership comprising over 1,100 households. Although Crystal Palace Park is not within Dulwich, our area extends to the west side of Crystal Palace Parade, and we have many members for whom Crystal Palace Park is their nearest public park.
In general the Dulwich Society welcomes the London Development Agency’s proposals for the Park as set out in the Masterplan, and which form the basis of their application for planning consent. The Park has been allowed to become very run-down and is in need of substantial investment to regenerate it. In particular we welcome the restoration of the terraces and the “greening” of the central park of the Park with the removal of the Lodge and high-rise accommodation block, the ugly raised concrete walkways beside the National Sports Centre, and much of the present obtrusive car parking and fencing.
We are concerned about the additional traffic that a development of the size proposed will generate close to the busy junction of Crystal Palace Parade, Sydenham Hill and Westwood Hill but, more importantly, we have very strong reservations about the proposed housing. We do not believe that the inclusion of housing in currently designated open space, the Rockhills site which is Metropolitan Open Land, is an appropriate way to generate funding for a section of the proposed improvements. It is likely that the money raised in this way is small in relation to the total investment required and the LDA should be able to provide the appropriate funding without recourse to commercial development and the consequent loss of part of the park.
The re-construction of the bridge has taken longer than planned, largely because of re-routing telecommunications and other services. The bridge is now likely to be re-opened in the early autumn.
The Dulwich Society, in conjunction with the Red Post Hill Residents Association, has held extensive discussions with Village Ward Councillors and the Council officials about the layout and appearance of the traffic and pedestrian parts of the bridge.
The new bridge structure is designed for and capable of taking vehicles of up to 44 tons, which is far heavier than previously permitted. To prevent a regular flow of larger heavy lorries from using the bridge Councillors have suggested a weight restriction of seven and a half tons should be imposed on environmental grounds. The Society fully supports this and we hope that the necessary Traffic Order will be in place before the bridge is re-opened.
The bridge is in a Conservation Area and North Dulwich Station is a listed structure. The Society has put forward a plan for narrower North/South carriageways with a wider central strip including a low brick planter and low evergreen hedging with strips of granite sets on both sides. The height of the hedging is to be maintained at a low level so that on leaving the station you can look across to see the decorative panels on the rebuilt parapet.
The Society's Executive Committee strongly feels that this planting in the central strip will enhance this northern "gateway to Dulwich" and its listed structures. Therefore, the Committee has made an offer to Southwark Council to take on the responsibility for the maintenance of the hedging such as watering in prolonged dry weather and clipping.
The Council will shortly be taking final decisions on the design of the bridge including the central strip.
Greenery is a characteristic of Dulwich. It is hoped that the proposal to extend a ribbon of greenery across the bridge will be incorporated in the final scheme.
David Roberts, Chair of the Society’s Planning and Architecture Committee
Alastair Hanton, Chair of the Society’s Traffic and Transport Committee
Southwark Council is proposing to make Sunray Gardens a Conservation Area – not before time some might say. A preliminary report has been through the Dulwich Community Council but no date has yet been agreed when it will come into force. The Sunray Estate already has an Article 4 Direction on it, dating from 1987 (this means that residents have no Permitted Development Rights and most alterations require planning approval), though looking at the number of properties that have had their windows changed, Southwark have not enforced it particularly well.
The existing Dulwich Village conservation area to the south was extended up to North Dulwich Station, and the railway line either side, several years ago. The current proposal for Sunray Gardens appears to exclude the North Dulwich Triangle which is odd, as this small area contains a good range of substantially original good quality late Victorian and Edwardian Housing, and it would surely be logical to join up with the Dulwich Village Conservation Area boundary, only 400 metres away.
Sunray Gardens occupies the site of Casino House, a large house designed by John Nash in 1797 for Richard Shaw, a very successful lawyer. The gardens were laid out by Humphrey Repton and the fish pond now forms the lake in Sunray Gardens. The house was demolished in 1906.
The Sunray Estate is often described as the most celebrated product of Lloyd George’s post WW1 ‘Homes Fit for Heroes’ campaign. However, it did not start that way. The original proposal was put forward by the Dulwich Estate as their own contribution to re-housing the returning soldiers. Architect Edwin Hall, a local resident and Estate Governor, designed the original scheme on garden city principles with some very innovative features – including a public hall, tennis courts and a Montessori nursery.
The Estate proposed to raise the money by setting up a ‘Public Utility Society’ (or Building Society as we would know it today) but this proved very difficult. Construction costs had risen 100% between 1914 and 1918 and the sums of money involved were just too much for them to raise. At the same time the Borough of Camberwell were seeking to expand working-class housing in the Borough and had access to money under the 1919 Housing and Town Planning Act. Late in 1919 they wrote to the Governors threatening compulsory purchase. The Governors tried to stop it by appealing to the Ministry of Health (then in charge of housing) but, at a meeting on 20th January 1920, the manager reported that ‘Mr Gibbon, of the Ministry of Health, informed Mr Barry and myself at the interview, that it is proposed that the Borough of Camberwell, in conjunction with H M Office of Works, should take over this land, as it is considered they could develop it more expeditiously than the Public Utility Society.’
The Estate had no choice but to agree. As a quid pro quo Camberwell agreed to adopt Edwin Hall’s road layout, albeit with smaller houses, and the scheme was carried out in the next two years by the Office of Works under its chief architect, Sir Frank Baines.
The Dulwich Society’s finances have been taking a hammering recently. In addition to the £2500 awarded to the Friends of Dulwich Park for new reed beds for the lake and additional planting reported in the last issue, a grant of £1000 was made to Dulwich Hamlet School to part fund a literacy project. The costs of purchasing, restoring and the later installing of the postal cart are likely to approach £2500. The repair to the Edward Alleyn statue is estimated at £7000, although some of this sum will be recovered by insurance. An improved and updated Society website is to be created at a cost of £500.
The Dulwich Society Garden Group is planning a new project. In recent years a large number of local gardens have been opened to Dulwich residents to raise funds for charity. These include over 30 local gardens listed in ‘The Yellow Book’, those visited by ‘the Garden Safari’ and openings for St Christopher’s and a range of other charities.
The Garden Group plans to produce an annual publication listing all these gardens and their opening dates and times (subject to our receiving the necessary information from the garden owners). There will be no charge for entries or for copies of the publication. It is planned that 4000 copies will be distributed through the spring issue of the Newsletter, garden centres, libraries and shops.
In future, the Garden Group will arrange fewer openings. When the Group first started, nearly 30 years ago, we were the only organisation in the area arranging garden openings. Now that there are many such openings, there is less need for us to make these arrangements. Hopefully, this new publication will provide a service to Society members and the local community by providing a central focus for information on local garden openings.
My parents acquired The Art Stationers (then called the College Press) in 1947 and of course I was a frequent visitor and later I occasionally did odd jobs. Their taking over of even an existing business just after the war ended, was challenging. Everything was in short supply or completely unavailable. For example, pencils were unlacquered, with the title; ‘War drawing’ stamped on them and came in a single grade. Most supplies were on allocation and the utility logo appeared on many goods. Anything mildly decorative was undoubtedly from some supplier’s pre-war stock; indeed the term ‘pre-war’ was banded about as a definition of quality, no matter that it had lain in some warehouse for the previous six or seven years. Some of it might even have ‘Made in Germany’ marked upon it. Certainly the tin trombone my parents purchased for me from a stall in Whitehall on Victory Night 1945 bore such legend – a tribute to the patience of that particular wholesaler who had dared not sell it during the hostilities.
Between 1939-45, a number of Dulwich firms were engaged in producing components for what was called ‘the war effort’. One such was SG Smith Motors who had a car-body repair shop on the corner of Underhill and Barry Roads. Their number one priority was to manufacture a safety clip to slide over the firing trigger of the machine guns on Spitfires. Before the introduction of this safety measure, inexperienced pilots, in the heat of a battle might accidentally press the firing button and loose-off rounds at the airplanes of fellow RAF pilots. Another component SG Smith’s were called on to make was the metal carcase for hand-held flame-throwers.
Robert Smith who succeeded his father Stanley in the business recalls his father telling him of the occasion when, accompanied by his best welder, he was instructed to go to Salisbury Plain, to advise the army on the attachment of ‘waterproof skirts’ to tanks for amphibious landings on D Day. Whilst there he met Winston Churchill whose pet idea it was to adapt the tanks. During the drive back Stanley was flagged down by the military and asked to take two passengers, whose car had broken down, back to London. One turned out to be Lord Rootes and from that chance encounter SG Smith & Co were awarded their first car franchise; selling the new Hillman Minx in 1946.
By contrast, Lily Jones war effort was to be a warden at Post 60, the air-raid wardens’ post located in a cricket pavilion in Burbage Road. Lily Jones was a spinster of small but independent means. She fully entered into the spirit the social mix which wartime conditions had brought and to her surprise found she was a natural darts player. To her delight she became a member of the Post’s darts team. In the early 1950’s Lily purchased a Morris Minor car and would make the journey from her house at the end of Burbage Road to Barclays Bank in the Village. Lily probably never took a driving test, her license dating from pre-test days. As a consequence she never mastered the three-point turn and her journeys were always of a circuitous nature to avoid such a necessity. The short journeys rarely required Lily to change gear and in time the gear box seized up. This did not disturb Lily who thirty years later only used first gear, the car’s only functioning gear, on her shopping trips to the Village.
The difficulty in obtaining stock for any kind of shop in the austerity years following the end of the War, when Britain was helping to feed Germany, as well as itself, required a certain entrepreneurial spirit. Mr Timms was an entrepreneur. He had a small factory in Green Dale in a Victorian house, the site of which today is covered by a either the small row of council houses or the Naval Cadets hut. Mr Timms was an industrial chemist with a talent for meeting some of shortages which beset post-war Londoners. He developed an attractively packaged range of ladies cosmetics including face creams and powders. It had the word ‘Beautiful’ in its trade name but I regret the passing of time has eliminated from my memory the rest of its title. After a while the sale of these beauty products fell off, a problem caused not by the packaging which was irresistible, but rather the absence of essential ingredients in the product itself caused by post war shortages.
Mr Timms did not despair. He succeeded in turning his range of ladies cosmetics into shoe-polish. “A very clever man is Mr Timms” , my father would often remark. My father acted as an occasional agent for Mr Timms’s newly invented products including the less than successful foray into ladies’ cosmetics. He got very excited about a new range of products which issued from the manufactory in Green Dale. Household paint was very difficult to obtain and Mr Timms had created a gloss paint which he named ‘Cherrygloss’. He gave my father a few tins as samples.
My father’s cousin Percy was keen to decorate his kitchen dresser and was therefore delighted to receive a couple of tins of ‘Cherrygloss’ paint. The paint was duly applied, and very nice the dresser looked. Percy was delighted and my father became excited by the potential of sales of such a scarce commodity as gloss paint. A week later an irate Percy informed my father that the paint had still not dried and his plates were stuck to the dresser. It was back to the experimentation for Mr Timms, and a search for other alternatives to driers like linseed oil and turpentine which were still in short supply. My last memory of Mr Timms was visiting his factory to see him turning out coloured wax crayons from bronze moulds. From personal experience I know these at least proved very satisfactory.
When my parents took over the shop, their first winter was a very cold one. German prisoners of war were employed keeping Dulwich streets clear of snow and ice and were still to be seen in Dulwich wearing a kind of battledress with a large yellow circle on the back thirty months after the war had ended. One bleak day that first winter, a P.O.W. came into the shop with an oil painting under his arm. It was a snow scene of his village which he had painted from memory. He was desperate to sell it to send some money back to Germany to his virtually destitute family. I recall the sorrow I felt for him as my mother had to refuse his request because things were difficult for us also.
The Alleyn Stores was a favourite shop of mine in the Village. It was a confectioners and had been owned from before the war by a Mr and Mrs Warwick. In this time of rationing I was able to negotiate what I considered a good deal with them. I purchased those sweets which had been on window display and had melted in sunshine. The fact that they had become stuck to one another, were faded and misshapen mattered little to me because the deal was that I was able to buy them ‘off ration’ and did not have use my ration book coupons.
Mr and Mrs Warwick retired and in the late 1950’s their shop was taken over by Mr and Mrs Steward. ‘Stew’, as he was called by his wife was short and slightly built with fair hair and had served in the RAF during the war. He looked after the cigarettes, cigars and tobacco side of the business which stretched down the shop’s right hand side. The confectionery was on the left hand side and was the domain of Mrs Steward who had an assistant. Each lady vied with the other in the extravagance of their bouffant hair-dos. Speciality cakes, manufactured by Kunzle occupied the end space between the two opposing counters. When Dulwich’s first post-war recession arrived around the mid 1960’s, ‘Stew’ was obliged to take a job at Harrods in order for the Alleyn Stores to survive for few more years.
Next door but one to the Alleyn Stores was, (and still is), Rumsey & Son Chemists. Sadly their double bow windows have been replaced by flat glass and aluminium. At the time of the Alleyn Stores, Rumsey’s had a large staff, two pharmacists, a dispenser and an assistant, all presided over by the kindly Mr Andrews, a grey haired figure with half-moon glasses everyone took to be Mr Rumsey. The curious thing about the staff, male and female, was that they and Mr Andrews all lived en famille in a house owned by Mr Rumsey in Hillsboro Road. Rumsey Chemists shop is also recalled by my school friend Robert Worley who writes:
“It had that special chemist smell – a mixture of perfume, soap and T.C.P. Quality lotions and potions were always on show. And one’s prescription – usually simply labelled, ‘The Tonic’ was delivered to one’s home by special van, always wrapped and sealed with red wax.”
Another shop which both Robert and I frequented, was Mr Salkeld’s second-hand bookshop, which stood opposite the Crown & Greyhound which would close in the recession of the1960’s, another victim of rising rents and changing shopping habits. Robert recalls:
“As a schoolboy, I was a regular visitor to Salkeld’s second-hand bookshop. Mr Salkeld resembled a sort of old man Albert Steptoe. He always looked slightly down at heel and wore a black trilby hat which had seen better days. My quest was for ‘William’ books – the original thick ones with hard red covers. And here I picked up some real bargains as Mr Salkeld dismissed Richmal Crompton’s works of genius as, ‘Rubbish’.”
Like Robert, I too had had dealings with Mr Salkeld. He showed a decided reluctance to sell me a late18th century edition of Robinson Crusoe (price 6/-), and an even greater reluctance to allow me to buy a book on cookery of a slightly later date (price 2/-). Mrs Salkeld on the other hand was most hospitable and on one occasion I was invited into the shop parlour for tea. I was surprised to discover later that she made a weekly trip to Worthing with Mrs Fordham, the wife of the owner of the electrical shop, to play Bingo on the pier.
As I said in a previous article, my customers have always been a source of interest and amusement. Let me recall a couple for you.
Bob was a heating engineer by occupation and lived in great contentment with his wife Aggie in Court Lane. A walk up Bob and Aggie’s front path in late summer was a delightful experience because of the profusion of Michaelmas daisies lining the route to the front door. Bob and Aggie were devoted to each other and supported each others extensive charity work. Bob was devastated when Aggie died. He built a sort of shrine on the rockery at the end of his garden and buried Aggie’s ashes there as a comfort and constant reminder.
I don’t know what happened to the little shrine when Bob remarried a charming widow with similar interests and an equal enthusiasm for charity work. I do know that the Michaelmas daisies were soon rooted up.
At my shop we are never sniffy about our customers, although I have to confess that we came close to it when Mr Culley brought in one of his pictures for framing. William Culley lived at Herne Hill and might have been a retired schoolmaster or perhaps a civil servant. His efforts at art always seemed very childish to us and when one day he brought in his latest oeuvre we looked at it with a mixture of amusement and alarm. The oil painting was a three-quarter length portrait of a woman. The alarming thing was that the she bore a nose made of ‘Polyfilla’ which protruded from the canvas a full two inches. We were understandably nervous that in the process of framing the subject might be disfigured by the breaking off of her nose. In fact all went well and Mr Culley was delighted with the result. The laugh was actually on us, because a week or two later the portrait was reproduced in full colour on the front cover, of The Sunday Times Magazine.
Of all the happenings which have taken place in the fifty plus years of my career in Dulwich Village what has been the funniest and probably one of the most tragic, was the affair of the St Barnabas fire. Even the events leading up to it have the flavour of theatre, in fact so theatrical was it that I sent an outline of the events to Alan Ayckbourn suggesting it might have the ingredients for a play.
The first Sunday in December 1992 was Christingle Sunday and St Barnabas was about to enter its centennial year. Christingle, a recent Church of England initiative in support of the Children’s Society demonstrates to children a need for worldwide compassion and uses an orange and sweets stuck on cocktail sticks and a candle pushed into the orange as symbols and one is given to each child and it is lit during the service. A modern hymn was selected for the service with a chorus including the lines “Blaze spirit blaze, Set our hearts on fire”. A most happy service was thus enjoyed by the large congregation of adults and children. That evening, apparently, a new lay assistant in a moment of misguided Christian charity invited a homeless man to sleep for the night in the vestry. What happened subsequently is uncertain but fire broke out in the church in the early hours and by dawn it was totally ablaze. Daylight showed its total destruction, with only the tower apparently intact. No charred body was found, and the recently arrived lay assistant despatched to his home in the north, no doubt older and wiser.
In the best British tradition, committees were formed to sort out insurance, temporary accommodation and make plans for rebuilding the church. It was over the question of choosing a new design that dissension set in and where black humour took over. The planners did their best to consult everybody but a divide became apparent between those who wanted to replicate the old building and those who wanted to create something different. The former suffered a setback when the tower was declared unsafe and had to be dismantled. Thus, no longer inhibited by the tower remaining, the backers of a new design allowed their imaginations to run riot and a number of new and revolutionary ideas were exhibited in a competition for the best design.
The winning design was by a distinguished firm of architects, HOK Partnership. It had the attraction of having no supporting columns impairing sight-lines and having the first glass spire of any church in the country. A selling point was that the illuminated glass spire would be seen from a long distance at night time. The traditionalists on the other hand were quick to point out that HOK had never built a Christian church before and that some of its best examples were Middle-Eastern mosques. In a moment of brilliance, one of the detractors described the proposed design as representing a traffic cone on the top of a tea chest.
The fact that the architect was American was also considered by the opposition group to be something of a handicap; a handicap which did not restrict this very long-suffering and charming architect becoming engaged to be married to a member of the new church’s planning committee. Eventually the application came before the Planning Committee of Southwark Council. Acknowledging the now wide public interest in the proposed new building, (there had been a house-to-house petition against the design carried out by the lobbying group), the Council decided to hold the meeting in public in the Great Hall of Alleyn’s School.
The meeting was packed, indeed I suspect half those attending had seldom set foot in a church, and the chairman explained that he was an agnostic himself. Each side eloquently argued its case and the application came to be voted upon. In the event the planning committee voted six for and six against the application. It was therefore I thought totally hilarious when the agnostic chairman made his casting vote in favour of the application; it was with the reservation that the illuminated spire, which was to be such a feature of the new church should not be used after dark as it would produce ‘light pollution’.
I suppose Alan Ayckbourn would have considered it fitting that I found myself subsequently landed with the task of chairman of the fund-raising appeal for the rebuilding.
The Rotary Club of Dulwich has been a participating in an initiative started by a Rotary club in Helston, Cornwall to supply shelter boxes to disaster areas throughout the world. The Dulwich club has supplied four such boxes and is on its way towards a fifth. Each box contains a 10 person tent and other essential equipment like thermal blankets, insulated ground sheets, a multi-fuel cooking stove, utensils, tools and water purification tablets designed to help an extended family survive for at least six months.
Boxes, which cost £490 each were supplied by the Rotary Club of Dulwich and were sent to victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka and more recently to victims of the earthquake in China. The tent and shelter box was on display at the Dulwich Festival where the Rotary Club once again provided refreshment facilities.
A local resident has traced origin of the inscription carved on the stone in the small garden next to the Village Bookshop in Calton Avenue. The stone was originally set into the wall of the small cage or lock-up which, together with the village stocks, stood nearby, It is the conflation of Proverbs 10:23 _ and Jeremiah 2:10._
It is a sport to a fool to do mischief
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee
But exegesis apart, this unseemly torture of placing a miscreant in the stocks was only used for minor offences, hence most useful for squires, priests/vicars and Lords of the Manor, neatly combining (at best) much discomfort with merriment and mockery as a deterrent to the terrorism of:
This in-your-face village green retribution had lawfully prescribed enforcement for hours or days (precise allocations of humiliation and pain)……but otherwise not at all unlike extreme rendition.
A few years ago Southwark Council allocated a substantial sum for Village improvements such as the removal of unnecessary signage and the restoration of its iconic fingerposts. Most of these have been damaged over the years, probably through high spirits rather than outright vandalism. Even the continued patience and skill of Patrick Spencer, the Society’s secretary, in repairing these has failed to keep up with the damage. Our picture taken in the 1930’s shows that swinging on the arm is not a new practice.
Dulwich Society member, Rosemary Dawson became concerned enough about their state that she put an application for a grant for their repair or replacement to the Dulwich Community Council under their ‘Greener, Cleaner, Safer’ programme for this year. Through her initiative, the Council has awarded the sum of £3500 towards this project. Whether they are repaired again, or replaced by metal signs which seem to survive better in such places as Windsor and Greenwich will be discussed by the Society.
The team has been busy working on a crime prevention operation to reduce the number of thefts from motor vehicles in the Dulwich area since the beginning of the year. So far the team has been able to reduce the number of thefts by over 60%. This has been achieved by high visibility patrols in hot spot areas, leaflet drops, assistance from Neighbourhood Watch schemes and of course the local residents as well as good old fashioned policing and a bit of luck!
The team is keen to reassure residents that it is fully committed to preventing motor crime from occurring and to arrest and convict those responsible. However, you can help by locking car doors and windows; keeping valuables out of the vehicle (especially satellite navigation systems, car stereos, laptops and mobile phones) Do not leave anything of importance in the glove compartment and use ant-theft devices if you have them.
If you have any useful information about a car crime or any crime which has occurred you can contact Sgt Jeff Jenkinson and the Dulwich Village Safer Neighbourhood Team on 020 8721 2446 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you wish to remain anonymous.
The Naval Cadet unit – TS LONDON which had its own buildings and headquarters in Green Dale has closed citing a lack of leaders as a reason for closure. The unit has a long history, being founded by Lieut. Cole as a Boys’ Naval Brigade unit before the First World War. Cole had already founded a similar unit at St Katherine Church, Rotherhithe. The remaining members of TS London have been amalgamated with another Naval Cadet unit in Penge. The future of their site, which was seized by the Dulwich Estate following the failure of the unit to pay the rent due, is uncertain although it is likely to be acquired by James Allen’s Girls’ School for further extension. It is understood that the trustees of the unit were being pressed by the Estate as individuals and that they sought the assistance of the MOD in absolving themselves from this financial liability.
The Dulwich Festival team once again assembled an impressive variety of events for the festival which took place after our summer edition of the Newsletter had gone to press. Music once again formed a central part of programme with the highlights being the Dante Quartet and Choir concert at St Barnabas and the Scratch Choral event – Mozart’s Requiem at All Saints. Perhaps unfortunately, film replaced live drama in this year’s festival which was a pity. All the Dulwich Society walks – Moths and Bats, Dulwich Wood tree walk, Ian McInnes’s ‘On the Edge’ architectural walk and Brian Green’s World War ll walk were all very well attended.
Most of the events were blessed with good weather and the two fairs, the first at Goose Green and the second at Dulwich Park , topped and tailed the fun. A new event this year was the two-day Flower Festival held at Christ’s Chapel. With the theme “Bright and Beautiful”, it was a stunning display and was visited by over 600 people. Organised by Christ’s Chapel Flower Committee, flower arrangers from the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies came from as far afield as Orpington, Uxbridge and Fulham to present displays. Local groups were represented by Christ’s Chapel, St Barnabas, NADFAS, Bartleys, and several garden centres.
Once again the Artists’ Open House organised as part of the Festival by Rachel Gulyas was a huge success with over a hundred artists showing their work.
Ken Haffenden, a friendly and familiar figure in Dulwich for many years, died in May at the age of 77. Ken was born in Bromley and was apprenticed as a plumber. After National Service in ‘The Buffs’ where he served in Hong Kong and Egypt, Ken joined British Rail. He joined the Dulwich Estate in 1959, becoming Estate Bailiff in 1979, a post he held until his retirement aged 65 in 1995. Ken’s retirement from this post coincided with the ending of a direct Dulwich Estate labour force but he continued to be connected to the Estate for a further eleven years as a part-time assistant to Tony George as a trees consultant.
Ken was a keen gardener and opened his garden on occasions for the Dulwich Society and the residents of Edward Alleyn House when visitors would admire his collection of Koi Carp. The Dulwich Society is to plant a tree in Ken’s memory.