To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “To lose one officer of the Society may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.” Both Dr Colin Niven and Ian McInnes have served the Dulwich Society for long periods. Colin for ten years and Ian for thirteen. We are extremely grateful to them for the dedicated service they have given.
Their retirement from their offices does not mean that we will lose their service in future. Colin can be expected to remain a contributor to this publication while Ian will continue to be a very active member the Local History group where his informed articles and frequent talks are so very well received.
In his final ‘Chairman’s Comment’ he speaks of the continued progress of the Dulwich Society. but also reminds us of unfinished business; the two large and prominent redevelopment sites, one in the centre of the Village and the other at the former Grove Tavern on Dulwich Common which are a total disgrace and have been for some years. It is possible that we may also find there is another - it is understood that Dulwich Prep London has handed back the nineteenth century ‘Brightlands’ building, which stands on the prominent corner of Gallery Road looking towards Dulwich College.
It is interesting that when Ian mentions in the news column that yet another new developer has taken over the former ‘Gilkes’ site ( and is to rename it ‘Soane Place’, he ends by saying that the new developer has an application lodged with Southwark Council to ‘value engineer’ the approved design. ‘Value engineer’ is shorthand in the building world to mean cost cutting, usually by using inferior materials and finishes than originally proposed in the planning application. The resulting development might therefore look nothing like the one first envisaged.
The way that the Dulwich Estate can avoid both criticism and delay of major building projects on the Estate, is to carry them out itself, rather than selling off the land to developers, many of whom have not the slightest interest in Dulwich other than to extract as much money from such a deal as possible.
The Dulwich Estate has shown that it can carry out its own major developments; after a lot of teething troubles and steep learning curves it is to be congratulated on the way it sympathetically redeveloped the Crown & Greyhound into an attractive pub with excellent amenities including a much-needed small hotel. Recently, it has also redeveloped the old dairy site in Croxted Road into an attractive new medical centre, shops and housing within a good timeframe. It may be too late to do anything about Soane Place but it should bring both the Grove Tavern and Brightlands sites back in-house as a matter of urgency and carry out its own redevelopment schemes.
Reminder The postponed 58th Annual General Meeting will be held at 8pm on Tuesday 14th September 2021 at the Crown & Greyhound First Floor function room. Drinks and nibbles will be served after the meeting. Further information is available on the Society website at www.dulwichsociety.com. This is of course subject to the government Covid-18 guidelines and members will be informed by email if we are advised to hold the meeting over Zoom instead.