The ceremony which saw the unveiling of the restored statue of Edward Alleyn and the display and installation of the Victorian Dulwich Village postal cart on 1st November was altogether reminiscent of a scene from Charles Dicken’s much loved Pickwick Papers. And why should it have not been? After all Pickwick Road was just a few yards away and along College Road was Pickwick Cottage.
So what were the similarities? Well firstly a couple of hundred villagers braved the threatening weather to witness the Dulwich Society’s President explain the story behind the restoration of the statue; the fact that it had been vandalised but that the figure of the ‘poor boy’ had been found nearby in the bushes by the wife of the Society’s Hon Sec. Some of the words the president uttered were lost on the wind, probably because he was more used to speaking to a hushed courtroom rather than through a loud hailer. The Vice-Chairman, who had been giving encouraging words of advice on how the president should use the device, decided himself to dispense with it all together and as a consequence even less of his speech was audible. Then the Chairman said some equally comforting words which were equally lost to all except those nearest. Fortunately, the Mayor of Southwark who had been invited to unveil the statue was used to dealing with hecklers and her voice was heard loud and clear.
Attention was then turned to the postal cart which Kenneth Wolfe explained he had discovered whilst on a post-dinner stroll with his wife Gillian, near Tower Bridge, in the yard of a rather run-down antiques emporium. It was then purchased by the Dulwich Society and restored by two of its members, Willis Walker and Graham Nash. To complete the scene, Frank Ralfe, a vice-president of the Dulwich Players dressed as a Victorian postman in a costume supplied by the National Theatre then seized the cart’s handles with such gusto that the two restorers dashed forward in alarm, in case irreparable damage was done to the object of their three years of labour. (see Post Cart Photos)
The assembled crowd, by then in great good humour crossed College Road from The Old College and followed the postal cart pulled by Postman Frank. The skill of handling the cart was clearly genetically founded because he confided in your editor that his grandfather had been a postman.
Many flashing cameras later, the post office was reached and the throng crossed the road for the installation where a beaming Mr Patel was waiting. For his defence of the post office against closure and his general helpfulness, Mr Patel was given a special cheer. Breaths were then held as the cart was wheeled up the ramp. Would it go through the door? With millimetres to spare the cart was eased through and mounted on its awaiting plinth during which time Mr Patel obligingly opened up his post office once again to dispense postage stamps to puzzled customers.
The crowd, by now pleased and satisfied with the morning’s events did what their forbears had done in earlier centuries and adjourned for refreshment to the assembly room of the Crown & Greyhound opposite where The Proceedings were Concluded to the Satisfaction of All.
As you will read elsewhere in this newsletter, wildlife issues receive a great deal of attention and the Society has funded so far this year the planting of more reed beds and a kingsfisher bank in Dulwich Park and the provision of bat boxes to encourage breeding, in Belair Park. The Gardens’ Group is to issue a free directory of Open Gardens in the area and is supporting the provision of a model allotment in Dulwich Park. The Society’s publication ‘Dulwich -The Home Front 1939-1945’ is now used by most local schools as a study-aid for World War 11. Its Trees Committee took the lead in confronting the problem of over-reaction by insurance companies to order the felling of trees near buildings from fear of subsidence and has been successful in ensuring a number of trees have a preservation order placed on them. The Traffic and Transport Committee have been active in persuading railway companies to improve frequency of trains to Dulwich stations and this is an ongoing issue which they are addressing. There has been a measure of success on its ‘walk to school’ initiative and as you will read, 40% of Dulwich residents now walk or cycle to work and school.
Post Cart Photos
The Society has a new and improved website. This may be accessed at http://www.dulwichsociety.com/
In addition to listing the aims of the Society, the names of its officers and executive committee and an invitation to join, the new website also has all the editions of the Newsletter on line. This has already proved useful to the descendents of a number of former residents who have been directed to articles referring to their ancestors by their search engines.
The Society has relied for many years on having its magazine hand delivered by volunteers. This is a very cost effective method and, if we did not do it this way, most of our membership income would go on postage. We now need more volunteers as several members who have done it for many years quite rightly want to retire. We have divided Dulwich up into 8 zones and we need both street distributors and zone distributors. The latter collect the magazines from the main distributor in Frank Dixon Way and hand them out to the street distributors who actually put the magazine through doors. The two zones that are currently in need of extra help are Zone C (the Court Lane, Eastlands Crescent, Dulwich Common zone) and Zone F (the Alleyn Road, Alleyn Park, Dulwich Wood Avenue zone). You don’t have to live in the zone and only need a spare afternoon four times a year.
If you are interested please contact Ian McInnes, the chairman, on 0208 693 6313.
As part of Southwark Council’s policiy to improve the condition of housing in the Borough, the Society was offered up to ten free home environmental audits from the Green Homes Concierge Service. These involve a specialist surveyor checking your house’s current environmental performance and making recommendations how it could be improved. This is not about solar heating or ground source heating, though it could be, but it is more about making sure that you have the correct level of loft insulation, an efficient boiler and good heating and hot water controls - and understand how to use then to minimise energy consumption.
The Society decided to offer these to members on a representative selection of homes, stretching from the 1890s to the 1960s, the aim being to obtain information and recommendations that could be used as a resource for all members who are thinking of upgrading the environmental performance of their homes whatever date they were built.
Houses were selected in the following roads and estates;
(see page 25 for the results of the Dulwich Going Greener Survey)
Refusal on appeal for backland development at 9 Dulwich Village.
Development of a house on part of the garden at the rear of 9 Dulwich Village has been refused on appeal for the second time. The first refusal for a larger scheme was in 2005. This refusal was given in September 2008.
Local resident, Julie Greer says, “ It is my view that this is an important case for Dulwich Village generally, as there will be increasing pressure to build in rear gardens in the future, which would potentially compromise the open semi-rural character of the Village.”
The appeal application for planning permission was objected to by adjoining residents, whose gardens backed on to the site. Neighbouring houses in Gilkes Crescent, East Dulwich Grove and Dulwich Village would have seen the new house beyond their gardens.
This was an important point for Planning Inspector, R J Yuille, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in coming to his decision.
The Inspector comments, in his appraisal of the proposed development:
“ As the ( Dulwich Village ) Conservation Area Appraisal makes clear, an important aspect of Dulwich Village is its open character and well treed gardens. Indeed the appraisal makes specific mention of No 9 Dulwich Village which it describes as a competent example of 20 th century Neo Georgian design set in a very generous garden which enhances its setting. The appraisal also makes clear that it is not just front gardens that are important in giving the area its open nature; rear gardens also contribute to the awareness of open space and are important in establishing the semi-rural character of the area. It goes on to state that development within these rear gardens will not normally be acceptable other than that which is ancillary to the use of the land.”
He comments further,
“ However, the appeal scheme would result in a large house positioned at the very centre of an enclave of open garden land in the Conservation Area. While it is possible at present to see buildings around the perimeter of this area there are no buildings within it other than small structures such as garden sheds. If the appeal scheme were implemented the residents of the surrounding houses would be aware of the proposed house together with its courtyard, associated walls and parking area and this would, I consider, compromise the openness of this area and deprive it of its semi rural character.”
In conclusion he says,
“Nonetheless, I consider that the proposed house itself would have an unacceptable effect on the open character of the Dulwich Conservation Area when seen from neighbouring houses. In this respect the appeal scheme would run counter to Policy 3.16 of the Southwark Local Plan 2007 (the Local Plan) which reiterates the statutory requirement set out in Section 72(1) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 that within Conservation Areas development should preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area.”
“In coming to this view I have taken into account that this building would be in a private garden that is not easily visible from any public viewpoints. However, it was pointed out to me by local people at the Hearing that the borrowing of views from neighbouring properties is a common feature in the Conservation Area and one which makes a significant contribution to the open character of that area. From what I saw of the Conservation Area generally at my site inspections I agree with this point.”
This decision is in line with the refusals for development on the garden behind the Listed Wall on Red Post Hill, next to Lyndenhurst and will present a serious impediment to future development proposals there or other backland within the Village.
Link to Southwark for the full appeal document : http://planningonline.southwarksites.com/planningonline2/DocsOnline/Documents/28933_1.pdf
David Lloyd Roberts
Nearly 50 members of the Garden Group had a really interesting visit to Lullingstone Castle and The World Garden, near Eynsford in Kent in July. We had arranged for our party to be the only visitors, which gave our tour much more focus. After a tour of the grounds, we were welcomed to the house by Guy and Sarah Hart Dyke - familiar figures to most of us from the two BBC 2 TV series on Lullingstone’s World Garden, the inspiration of their son Tom. Tom conceived the idea for a ‘World Garden’ during his long captivity, after being ambushed by guerrillas while he was on a plant hunting expedition in Panama. Members will recall the riveting story he told us at our Garden Group evening in 2006.
Following a fascinating tour of the house, which was in very much more pristine condition than we had expected from the TV series, we were taken on a detailed tour of the garden by Tom Hart Dyke himself.
The garden is laid out with large flower beds representing the outline of each continent - 340 tons of different rocks were used to create the outline and contours of the continents. We could not have had a more enthusiastic guide! Tom was leaping from ‘continent’ to ‘continent’, showing us the magnificent specimens he had collected. Our visit ended with a tour of Tom’s splendid ‘Hot and Spiky Cactus House’.
Work on this new Dulwich Society Directory is progressing well. The Directory is designed to provide a central focus for information on local garden openings. If you plan to open your garden next year or are planning an event which involves gardens, and have not yet sent in the necessary information, please contact John Ward
I read with interest in the last Newsletter of your unsuccessful attempt to be a greener Green!
Last year I had an extension built on my kitchen in Dovercourt Road. At my suggestion the architect organized for a solar hot water system to be installed on the south facing roof of the extension at the same time as a new condensing gas boiler was fitted. Neither the Dulwich Estate nor my neighbours raised any objection. The company is based in Brighton and it took just two days for two men to install the system. I received an automatic grant of £500 from Southwark Council, and £400 from the government’s Energy Saving Trust, so the cost to me was just over £4000. I was told that at last year’s prices I would probably recoup the cost in ten years. Perhaps in less time, since heating costs have soared this year. I have certainly seen a reduction in my gas bills. There has been some sunshine this year.
I absolutely agree about the lamentable failure by local and central government, and, I have to say, the ‘green lobby’ to positively encourage us to look to this particular form of alternative energy to supplement our heating needs.
I’d be very happy to show interested parties the installation in my home although I’m not keen to answer any technical queries!
Yours sincerely Barbara Richardson
The Editor also acknowledges with thanks, letters from David Wells and Robert Holden who both forwarded leaflets on solar heating which had come through the doors at their homes in Lambeth. I received one myself a few weeks later. Barbara Richardson is in good company with her solar heating system; the Vatican has announced that it has installed solar panels on its roofs to supply heating and air conditioning needs. Perhaps the subject of solar heating is something the Dulwich Society should itself debate?
First the good news - Beauberry House Restaurant withdrew its application for extended licensing hours after over 70 residents and residents’ associations wrote to the Council objecting. This clearly demonstrates that a strong co-ordinated response can have a positive impact. Active liaison between the Dulwich Society and the affected residents’ associations meant that a large number of people turned up to the public meeting - unfortunately this was then cancelled because of the Council’s concern over the validity of some of the objections - though it was subsequently confirmed that they were all valid.
It is clear that once Beauberry House realised the real level of local concern, they saw that their only option was to withdraw. However, it is also up to all the relevant local groups to follow this victory up and make sure the Beauberry House keep strictly to the provisions of their current licence, which some have argued, are already too generous. It is essential that any unacceptable activities or noise should be reported to Southwark.
There is also a wider point here, local businesses rightly expect support from local residents but it is also necessary for them to make sure that their activities do not unnecessarily impact negatively on people’s daily lives.
There are several current examples where local businesses are taking things for granted. One is the red vans that are parked in Croxted Road, Dulwich Village and elsewhere, advertising cheap removals. Not only are they an eyesore, they also take up valuable parking spaces that should be available to residents.
A similar situation has arisen at the end of Burbage Road where, for some reason, Wates Estate Agency has recently started parking all their corporate Volkswagen cars - some local residents have described it, tongue in cheek, as a ‘beetle infestation’. While the cars are clearly entitled to be parked on the public road, doing so in such large numbers, and in such a prominent place, suggests a lack of appreciation of the negative impact that it has on the local environment.
Another local business that needs to review its operations is S G Smith, the Audi garage in the Village. Residents in Gilkes Crescent have been complaining for some time that the company parks cars waiting for service in their road - this is not acceptable. If there is insufficient area on their site, perhaps the company should consider whether they are in the right location.
Many residents consider that this site, in the centre of the Village, might be better used for something else - perhaps a larger food store, and it would of course make a perfect location for sheltered/warden controlled housing for older residents - something which Dulwich has very little of.
Herne Hill has in the last few years suffered some serious loss of amenities. Its sole surviving bank closed, so also its substantial post office and Royal Mail sorting/collection office. The post office is now in cramped quarters at the back of Costcutters in Norwood Road and those people who are obliged to collect mail need to make a trip to Station Road in Camberwell, a location that is not convenient to reach by public transport. The 5-way road junction by the railway bridge in the centre of Herne Hill frequently acts as a bottle neck, with long lines of stationary vehicles polluting the neighbourhood with their exhaust fumes. The area also suffers from being divided between two boroughs, Lambeth and Southwark, whose policies for it are not well co-ordinated.
Some relief from the traffic problems is offered by the Herne Hill Junction project designed by the Herne Hill Forum’s Junction Project Board and adopted by Lambeth Council, who have granted planning permission for it and are currently working on a detailed design for its implementation. This project should ease the traffic flow without seeking to increase traffic speeds and is to be funded by Transport for London in the interests of reducing the current delays to buses. It will also close off the southern end of Railton Road to through traffic. This should provide a start to the regeneration of Herne Hill.
Much more however needs to be done in the way of planning a vision for the future of the area. The Herne Hill Forum has grasped the initiative on this. It convened a meeting on September 11 at the Baptist Church to start process. This was chaired by its Chairman Giles Gibson and attended by about 65 people. Two introductory presentations were given to set the scene, one by Ludovic Pittie of Mouchel, a consulting group specialising in seeking solutions for urban problems, who showed with visual aids what had been achieved in regeneration elsewhere in the U.K. and on the continent, particularly in the Netherlands, including reclaiming streets for the residents, rather than for through traffic, by traffic calming measures, removal of clutter and general “greening”. The other was a spirited talk by Philip Kolvin, Chairman of the Civic Trust and a local resident, who with the aid of his own photos pointed out many of the best and worst features of present day Herne Hill, in order to stimulate ideas on what could be done to enhance the good and improve the bad. This was followed by a lively discussion, animated by the Giles Gibson, in which participants on the floor where invited to put forward ideas for regeneration of the area. Finally volunteers were asked to put themselves forward to serve on Management, Environment and Planning committees to carry the initiative forward.
This meeting was followed on Saturday 13 September by another event organised by the Herne Hill Forum, a daytime drop-in “blue-sky” thinking session held next to Herne Hill station at which attendees and passers-by were invited to write down on post-it notes, their comments, ideas and suggestions for how Herne Hill could look in a few years time. The aim of this, and of the preceding meeting, is to create a vision and planning document for the area that could be adopted by all the relevant agencies. About 1,078 contributions were received on the Saturday.
A major theme in the responses was that the area is run down, dirty and vandalised, with local shops looking shoddy or derelict, with rubbish dumped in the streets and excessive dog fouling. Many took exception to the state of the pedestrian tunnel under the railway station. More positively, there was strong support for the local shopping environment, with its diverse range of small shops. There was little demand for supermarkets or multiples in the area. On traffic, there was widespread support for pedestrians to have priority over vehicles and for safe pedestrian crossings; the biggest support was for a 20 mph limit across the entire area and especially any side street. There was much concern about the growth of the late-night economy and the need for the local licensing authorities, Lambeth and Southwark, to reduce current excessive opening hours for bars and entertainment joints and to refuse new licences. The loss of the sole local bank and of the main post office and the sorting office were seen as symptomatic of the decline of the area. Ideas for activities and events featured strongly: farmers markets, festivals and arts and craft events were suggested as being popular and key to creating an identity for the area.