Dulwich Society Reports for Annual General Meeting - Tuesday 14 September
Executive Committee Reports for the Year 2020
Please note that the AGM has now been put back until September in the expectation that we will then be able to meet in person and, hopefully, hold an event to mark the retirement of our President, Dr Colin Niven, after ten years’ service.
Executive Committee: The Executive Committee met 6 times in 2020, online. The Executive awards funds to suitable local projects in line with the Society’s remit and objectives. There were fewer requests this past year as projects were put on hold or cancelled. Grants were made as follows:
If you have any ideas for projects that are in line with the Society’s objectives, please see https://www.dulwichsociety.com/local-projects for further information.
After a series of discussions between the Chairs of the Dulwich Estate Trustees and the Society, the Advisory Committee has been refreshed and will now comprise representatives in rotation to enable a wider group of representatives to attend the Committee. From the first meeting in March 2021, there will be two representatives from RAs in the north and south of the Estate, and two representatives from the Society’s Executive Committee.
Public engagement and consultations: The Society has continued to be active in the promotion of public engagement. Consultations on planning, traffic, public realm, event and premises licensing have continued during the Covid-19 emergency and the Society has reminded and encouraged residents to respond to all Council surveys and consultations affecting the Dulwich area.
Working with community groups: The Society continues to work closely with a wide range of stakeholders across Dulwich including residents’ associations, the Dulwich Estate, Dulwich Picture Gallery, amenity societies such as the Herne Hill Society, sporting venues, local councillors, MP and council officers and the police Safer Neighbourhood Panels. During 2020 this has been predominantly online.
Ian McInnes, Chairman
HON. SECRETARY’S REPORT:
COVID-19 Emergency: The Covid-19 emergency has affected Dulwich Society activities as we were no longer able to meet in person, but most committees and meetings with other groups have continued online via Zoom. The Society also started a series of monthly talks online in conjunction with Bell House.
Member communication: Circulating information to members, stakeholders and the wider community is vital; there is a constant need to cascade information rapidly across the area. Apart from the popular monthly eNewsletter and quarterly Journal, the Society publishes news and updates on the Society website www.dulwichsociety.com The Society noticeboard by the Crown and Greyhound also displays information about the Society and forthcoming local events.
We publish stop press news on our main Twitter feed @dulwichsociety and local history news and photos on our local history feed @DulwichHistory, both of which have over 2,200 followers, so please follow us if you want to keep up to date with news and local history. Our Gardens feed @DulwichGarden has details of gardening and wildlife initiatives.
Our Instagram feed #dulwichsociety has 1000 followers and we post a range of Dulwich archive maps, information about our local businesses and typical Dulwich scenes.
Society Governance: Our last annual report and accounts can be seen on the Charity Commission pages at Charity Commission Dulwich Society Home Page as well as our own web site. We monitor our governance continually and all governance updates are posted to the Society web site once approved by the Executive Committee.
Requests for Information: The steady flow of family history and heritage enquiries to the Society continues as well as requests from people wanting information about specific houses and buildings in Dulwich. The WWII bomb plaques continue to generate interest. The answers to many Dulwich questions can be found by searching the Society web site www.dulwichsociety.com. We are grateful to all those who supply photographs and interesting tales of Dulwich life.
Sue Badman, Hon Secretary
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY’S REPORT:
Membership at the end of 2020 was 1146 households. Our membership for Dulwich represents approximately 20% of all households. We gained 40 new members and lost 60 during the year.
The number of members renewing using cash or cheque continues to fall and over 90% of our members now renew by standing order or direct bank payment. However, over 100 reminders were posted out to members this year asking them to renew or advise me that they no longer wished to keep their membership.
For the financial year 2019-2020 £2374.39 was claimed from HMRC for gift aid.
The eNewsletter is sent to almost 80% of our members on a monthly basis and is very well received, keeping members up to date on important issues affecting Dulwich (such as planning or traffic proposals from Southwark) but also lets people know about events and activities in the area which cannot be included in the quarterly journal. Members can request to be added to the circulation by emailing me at the above address.
Diana McInnes, Membership Secretary
REPORT FROM THE PLANNING & ARCHITECTURE GROUP:
The number of Dulwich Estate License Applications remained almost exactly the same as the previous year, 160 in 2020 and 162 in 2019. These included an increased number of applications for garden rooms, presumably in response to the shift to working from home in the Covid pandemic.
Members of the group comprise both those with a professional background in Architecture and/or Planning and those with local knowledge, and some across all. Between three and five members attend a monthly meeting to review and comment on all license applications. Until March 2020 this took place in the Dulwich Estate offices. Since April 2020 applications have been reviewed online.
Comments on the individual aspects of an application are noted as ‘No objection’ or ‘Objection’, in which case a reason is given. These comments are advisory to the Scheme of Management. Objections are referred to the DE’s Consultant Architect, Madeleine Adams. Where possible, issues are resolved in discussions with the applicant and others. In the event of failure to reach an agreed solution, the matter is referred to the SoM Management Committee for a decision. The committee comprises DE trustees, the Chief Executive (Simone Crofton), the Director of Property (Adrian Brace), the Estate’s Consultant Architect, and SoM staff.
The revised Southwark Plan has been published and remains at consultation stage.
Penny Stern, Chair
REPORT FROM THE TRAVEL AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE:
The T&E Sub-Committee has continued its work to make Dulwich safer, greener, and healthier. The biggest recent developments in terms of transport have been Covid-19 and the consequent policy decisions by the UK Government (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-billion-package-to-create-new-era-for-cycling-and-walking), the Mayor of London (https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/streetspace-for-london) and Southwark (http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?AIId=57398) to promote healthy active travel, which has manifested itself across Dulwich in various forms of emergency traffic measures. The T&E Sub-Committee has sought to provide, as appropriate, support or constructive criticism on these. In particular, concerns regarding congestion on Croxted Road and the need for ensuring effective networks rather than isolated measures have been raised, but praise given for the increased number of children cycling and walking to school. Southwark have been pressed to hold a detailed public consultation on the emergency measures which will shortly be taking place, and the Society continues to remind all members to ensure they participate so their voices can be heard. More generally, the Sub-Committee has kept a close eye on developments around public transport (especially the consequences on buses and trains of Covid-19), air pollution, and helping the disabled.
Harry Winter, Chair
REPORT FROM THE LICENSING GROUP:
The Society receives regular notification from Southwark Council of premises licence applications relating to Dulwich Village and surrounding Wards. The number of such applications has inevitably decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to note that a number of new restaurants/wine bar operators have applied for premises licences and the Society has made representations to Southwark Council on a number of these, including Megan’s Bistro (Dulwich Village), Peachey Goat (Herne Hill), and Peace & Riot (West Dulwich).
In addition the Society submitted a representation against, and attended the ‘virtual‘ hearing in respect of the application by the Festival Republic Group for a 3 year licence for two, three-day music festivals for a daily capacity of over 40,000 people in Crystal Palace Park , to take place ( Covid-19 restrictions permitting) commencing in July 2021. The licence was however granted but the Society understands that the first event is now more likely to take place in September 2021.
Patsy Bramble, Chair
REPORT FROM THE LOCAL HISTORY GROUP:
The local history Twitter account (@DulwichHistory) brings Dulwich’s local history to a wider audience. In March 2021 it had 2,157 followers, more than twice the number compared to last year, and regularly receives around 180,000 ‘impressions’ (an indication of the how effective tweets are) per month. It links to articles on the Society’s website, helping to drive traffic there, it publicises Society events and it receives a lot of enquiries. A recent tweet about the Burbage Rd blue plaque for Sam Mussabini had a high level of engagement. A ‘then and now’ image of an East Dulwich dairy prompted comments about how it looks now and led to the residents themselves posting photos of the interior.
All group walks, talks and exhibitions planned after March were cancelled due to Covid, and the listening post project for the Edward Alleyn statue has been deferred. However, members have given several talks online and a series of monthly Zoom talks from January has been posted through Bell House with an encouraging number of participants of between 100 and 170. Subjects have included the areas around Court Lane and Woodwarde Roads, Dulwich Radicals and the Friern Manor Estate. Over £500 was raised for local charities from each talk.
During the period of restrictions on travelling outside the area, a few members of the Dulwich Society have been using the opportunity to trace old Dulwich Manor and Camberwell parish boundary markers, most of which are about 150 years old, with a few stone ones dating back even further. Research on local history has continued to be published in the Journal on a variety of subjects, including articles on VE day, lost houses, MPs and other local inhabitants
Bernard Nurse, Chair
REPORT FROM THE GARDEN GROUP:
2020 was dominated by Covid. In March we produced our annual brochure “Dulwich Gardens open for charity”, compiled by Ann Rutherford, with copies going to all members of the Society – but we were unable to distribute more than a few of the remaining c4,000 copies to local garden centres etc. before the first “lockdown”. With this and the impact of the pandemic we felt that we could not in good faith collect the advertising income that partly funds the brochure, so that the Society bore the full printing costs this year.
Lockdown in May and June also meant that most of the 40+ local gardens did not open, although a few did in late June and in the autumn, and there were some “virtual” openings and a well-organised and successful plant sale at 103 & 105 Dulwich Village in aid of St Christopher’s Hospice. We publicised all these on social media, as well as making well-received Tweets at the start of lockdown to support local garden centres (one was seen by 8,000 people, with 40 likes and 25 retweets). Because of Covid, we also cancelled our annual coach trip and Spring garden talk.
Where we can, we try to encourage gardening in the area. In April we introduced the Lambeth Horticultural Society, which had excess stocks (sprouting seed potatoes and onions, seeds and compost) that its members could not access, to the Grange Lane and Gun site Allotments, whose members could not readily access garden centres – they took the lot. We also helped arrange the repaving of the area in front of St Barnabas Parish Hall with York stone, which has improved the usefulness and look of this much-used area in Dulwich Village – this was funded by a Southwark Council Cleaner, Greener, Safer grant, a grant from the Dulwich Society and by a group of local residents. The planting has also been improved.
Jeremy Prescott, Chair
REPORT FROM THE TREES SUB-COMMITTEE:
The Tree Committee met in January 2020 but has been unable to do so subsequently owing to restrictions arising from the pandemic. Nevertheless, the Committee continues to promote the planting, maintenance and enjoyment of trees in Dulwich. An article on a tree-related topic was again published in each issue of the Society’s Journal, including an updating of the Silver Jubilee Tree Walk (mainly on College Road) originally produced in 1977. It was not possible to hold a tree walk in 2020 but in September the chair gave an illustrated online talk for the Society on the trees of Dulwich.
The talk brought to light that the brass plaque unveiled in 2017 next to a honey locust tree (Gleditsia triacanthos) in the garden of Dulwich Picture Gallery commemorating Stella Benwell, chair of the Tree Committee from 1985 to 2008, was already looking shabby. It has been replaced by a stainless-steel plaque with a similar design.
Southwark Council’s “Cleaner Greener Safer” (CGS) funding for 2020–21 supported the planting of hedging in the Dulwich Library garden, which was planted in January 2021.
The Committee continued to follow closely the campaign to save two oak trees near the Cox’s Walk footbridge (from which Camille Pissarro painted his well-known view of the former Lordship Lane railway station), threatened with removal because of concerns about the safety of the footbridge. At the time of writing the trees are still standing, having been made subject to a Tree Preservation Order.
Rachel Dowse, manager of Sydenham Hill Wood since 2018, left the London Wildlife Trust and has been succeeded by Samuel Taylor, who has joined the Committee in her place.
David Beamish, Chair
REPORT FROM THE WILDLIFE SUB COMMITTEE:
What with lockdowns, social distancing, bubbles, shielding and scheduling of tests and vaccines, let alone delayed clinical appointments, it’s no surprise that our Wildlife Group have not had any “official” meetings over the past Pandemic dominated year. But, although we may have been locked down, and unable to monitor and report sightings as per usual, Nature has been carrying on as normal, freewheeling that Circle of Life - a la Disney’s Lion King song. It’s true and sad that extra heavy human footfall in wildlife havens, littering and unseasonal and extreme weather fluctuations in past months have been damaging, but life is bouncing back in our corner of south-east London at a pace.
New life is evident in the smallest, everyday detail. If you go down to the woods today (Sydenham Hill and Dulwich Woods, one sunny day in April), and look closely at the ground beneath you, you will find it humming with low-key daily miracles. Tread carefully and you may spot a tiny tawny hairy insect emerging from a hole in the soil. This could be one of the Solitary mining bees which are becoming active now, emerging from their underground nursery into the daylight for the first time in a year. There are an incredible 227 species of solitary bees (those which do not live n organised colonies like honey bees and bumble bees) out of which 65 are species of Mining bee. Similar in colour and shape to honey bees, each bee will have started life as a tiny fertilised egg, laid by a female bee, in a vertical tunnel a few inches deep in the earth. Each egg will have been sealed into its own individual chamber, waterproofed by a secretion from the mother bee’s abdomen, within the nursery. Each compartment will have been stocked with a ball of pollen and nectar gathered from early Spring flowers. This is food to sustain the developing egg while it hatches into a larva, then an adult bee. Although it will have matured into an adult in autumn, the bee stays below decks until Spring, when it digs itself out – and the whole cycle repeats itself. Females start excavating tunnels in early Spring, and once she has mated, she may lay eggs in several nests in hollow stems, decaying tree stumps or mortar. London Wildlife Trust, who manage the Sydenham Hill Woods nature reserve, have published photos of two different species, a Clark’s and a Tawny Solitary mining bee in their newsletter.
The Society’s Wildlife Recorder, Dr Peter Roseveare, whose Zoom talk was so much appreciated last year, (70 members tuned in) reports that the high number of records, photos and questions he has received suggest that more people than ever are taking notice of the wildlife around them. He is optimistic that our local numbers and range of species across the spectrum of birds, mammals, amphibian, bat and plant life remain healthy, albeit fluctuating as normal and that the greatest threat is still climate change.
Angela Wilkes, Chair