Gerry, as he preferred to be called, served Dulwich as its Member of Parliament from 1983 until 1992. He won the seat from Kate Hoey who stood for Labour following the retirement of its former MP, the Labour Attorney-General Sam Silkin. His period as Dulwich’s MP was before the boundary changes which added West Norwood to its electorate.
Dulwich had been a marginal seat since the end of World War 2, exchanging Labour for Tory members and vice-versa on a regular basis. Silkin won his seat from the Miss World entrepreneur Eric Morley in 1979 by 122 votes and when Bowden took the seat for the Tories in 1983 he had increased the Tory majority to a comfortable 1859 votes. In the 1987 election Dulwich was again on a knife edge and Bowden won by 180 votes after a recount. However, he lost to Tessa Jowell in 1993 who had a majority over 2000.
During his years as Dulwich’s MP, Gerry Bowden was a strong local MP. In 1984 he successfully persuaded the Secretary of State for the Environment to intervene to prevent a plan by Southwark Council to build 146 flats on the top part of Sydenham Hill Wood which had been leased in 1982 to the London Wildlife Trust. He was equally active and effective in arguing against the Dulwich Estate’s plan to build in another area of the Woods. In July 1985, the Local Plan inspector reported that most of the Wood should be protected from development. The inspector’s written report was published in the same week that Southwark Council’s planning committee rejected the Beechgrove application. In advance of a public inquiry into the Beechgrove application, Gerald Bowden said: "I’ve never had quite such a wide range of ordinary people writing to me on one subject. There is very broad opposition to the flats."[ The inspector's decision against the plan was hailed as ‘Wood reprieve a policy precedent.’
Gerald Bowden, who had also represented Dulwich on the Greater London Council 1977-81, returned to lecturing on the law of property at Kingston University; he had held a similar post at London South Bank University before offering himself as a parliamentary candidate and he also resumed practice at the planning bar. Locally, he went on to serve as Chairman of Governors of the Dulwich Estate and was an active member of the Territorial Army, retiring in the rank of Lieutenant- Colonel.
On New Year’s Eve 2017 Gerry suffered the devastating loss of his only daughter Emma and his grand-daughter Heather, when both were killed along with his future son-in-law and his two sons in the Sydney harbour flying boat tragedy.
We have 94 guests and no members online