Horniman Play Park and Gardens

Members following the investigation by the Dulwich Society's Local History Group of the series of earthworks in the Horniman Play Park will recall that after extensive research of the history of the site, it was decided to check the period between the end of World War II and when the Play Park was created in the early 1950's. At the same time, Dulwich Society member Steve Grindlay, had discussed the Society's plans for an excavation of the site with a friend who had been a gardener at Horniman Gardens. The friend recalled that the series of banks and mounds had been created with spoil from the digging of the paddling pool to provide a kind of early adventure playground.

Further research at the London Metropolitan Archives reveals that he is quite correct. Although no documentary evidence was found in the LCC Parks department files, the photographic archive produced positive results. The series of mounds was indeed an adventure play ground.

Children's adventure play parks in England were the initiative of Lady Allen of Hurtwood who had seen the success of these in Denmark and Sweden. In 1960 she published the first of two booklets outlining the concept and implementation of their use. She wrote that adult play leaders and counsellors were essential. Stockholm which had 28 such parks which were open all year had 225 playground staff in summer and 60 for the remainder of the year. She said that adventure playgrounds were simple and cheap to provide. In Design for Play she recommended sand pits and earth shaping for imaginative play, "artificial mounds made good wind shields, serve as banks for rolling down".

As the photographs show, the London County Council was sufficiently impressed by Lady Allen's argument that it provided the amenities she suggested, including a sand pit. The reason this facility ended was that neither the LCC nor Lewisham Council which succeeded it, were willing to employ staff as play leaders or supervisors who were responsible for the success of the scheme in Scandinavia. In time, the sand pit was filled in, the paddling pool drained and the adventure area allowed to revert to a hillocky meadow.

Perhaps, with the envisaged regeneration of Horniman Gardens, some thought might be given to including the Horniman Play Park within in its remit. After all, the thousands of children who visit the Museum each year would find the play park an excellent adjunct to the Museum.

Janet Vitmayer, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and Gardens writes :

For over 100 years our much-loved Gardens have provided the public with an opportunity to enjoy ' the open air and sunlight' that Frederick Horniman felt was so important to peoples' well being. The Gardens now need a significant investment to ensure that we can maintain high standards and provide for our visitors needs now and into the future.

As well as consulting with many groups in the area, we would be interested to hear from you if you have any ideas about how you would like to see the Gardens develop in the future.

The areas we are considering so far are:-

  • Improvements to paths, fencing, toilets, and services like drainage, electricity and water. We would like to build in more sustainable usage of water and heating where possible.
  • Improvements to the buildings in the Gardens - the Bandstand, the Dutch Barn and our Greenhouses.
  • Improvements to the animal enclosure.
  • New Horticultural facilities with more opportunities for volunteering, training and public educational events.
  • Improved provision for events and education and better interpretation about the history of the Gardens and the trees and plants they contain.
  • Re-landscaping some areas to provide quiet areas, activity areas and better picnic spaces.

In order to proceed with this project, the Museum will have to raise the majority of the funds required. Work is not therefore expected to commence until 2009, once the funds are in place.

If you would like to share your thoughts with us please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or post them to Marketing, Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, SE 23 3PQ

(As the Newsletter goes to print, the Dulwich Society is to meet representatives of the Horniman Museum to discuss how, as a society it can help in this project)

Dovercourt Road Centenary

The residents of Dovercourt Road will be celebrating their centenary this year with a street party in June and other events. The road was created around 1906-7 following earlier development of farmland into Dekker, Desenfans and Druce Roads. Two years ago the residents of Desenfans Road celebrated their centenary with a number of events including the publication of the history of the road and biographies of some of its former residents. These were found to include the actor, the late Peter Cushing.

Awards for 1475 Squadron

1475 Air Training Corps Squadron which was formed in 1941 and which has its headquarters at High Wood Barracks, Lordship Lane received two prestigious awards at the end of May at a parade at Dulwich College. In 2001 the unit celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with a concert in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. Two more concerts followed in ensuing years from which the sum of £20,000 was raised for the charity. In recognition of this splendid effort the RAFBF presented the Squadron with a Poignard, the Fund's highest meritorious award. Since 1919 it is only the ninth time this award has been presented.

It also received the Air Training Corps Certificate of Merit. There are 33 squadrons in London and 1475 Squadron already held one of the two then awarded. This makes it the unit's second such award. 

Dulwich goes even Greener!

The Dulwich Goes Greener Group is not only encouraging us to reduce our car use but is also trying in a practical way to reduce our plastic bag use as well. To this end it has produced a handsome, strong brown canvas carrier bag decorated with the group's logo. It is selling the bag through local shops including The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village, at the cost price of £2. A bargain not to be missed. For more information on the campaign go to www.dulwichgoinggreener.org

Green Chain Walk gets Funding

The proposed extension of the Green Chain Walk from Crystal Palace, and into Dulwich via Sydenham Hill and Dulwich Woods and the Upper Wood in Farquhar Road to Dulwich Park, Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Horniman Museum has now received funding from Southwark Council. The Council has approved the sum of £150,000 for capital works for the extension and a £15,000 per year contribution towards its management and maintenance. The Green Chain Walk starts at the Thames Barrier and is a footpath connecting South London's numerous 'green' areas such as Oxleas Wood and Beckenham Place Park. It would also be a challenging route for a sponsored walk.

Swimming Pool Renovation

Despite being proposed for demolition under the London Development Agency's 2006 proposals for the redevelopment of Crystal Palace Park, the National Sports Centre at Crystal Place now looks likely now to be retained. The LDA appears to have changed its mind in the last few months, partly as a result of the many objections but possibly also because of the Government's recent backing down over the demolition of the Commonwealth Institute, another Grade II* listed building. The swimming pool machinery, pumps and other equipment at the National Sports Centre are to be replaced. The work will start in the autumn and will cause a closure of the pool for up to six months

The most recent proposals by Arup Associates, the architects appointed to prepare the redevelopment scheme for the area, show the building being used initially as an ancillary training pool to the Olympic Aquatic Centre. After the 2012 games the pool will be decked over for an indoor sports hall for 5 aside football or similar sports. Initial works will involve refurbishment of the services installations and the changing areas and there will also be changes to the levels of the external landscaping, demolition of the high level concrete walkways and a more proactively managed security policy.

Major sporting events such as the athletics Grand Prix and the London Youth Games will continue at Crystal Palace until at least 2012 but international athletic events will transfer to the Olympic Stadium at Stratford.

P.E.L.O. Football Club

The club, which occupies the ground in Gallery Road opposite the Old College was the brainchild of Mario Fauvrelle. He founded PELO - Positive Education Learning Organisation as a non-profit making community organisation in 1995. Today it has 1100 attendees of whom 95% are deprived youngsters, all from diverse backgrounds.

Each week some 350-400 of these youngsters attend mid-week (after school) and weekends. The club functions through a dedicated team of volunteers. It offers a range of activities which include football, running/athletics, basketball, volleyball, dance and multi-cultural celebratory events.

Mario says that the Club is in the process of obtaining full charity trust status and expects to sign a long lease for the ground with the Dulwich Estate. PELO has ambitious plans to lay new land drains at the ground and to rebuild the present pavilion to provide a new Community Sport Recreational Facility. It also hopes to run vocational and education courses to enable youngsters with no basic skills to get qualifications.

To assist with this project it has gathered support from a wide range of organisations. Tessa Jowell MP is the club's patron.

Village Ward Police Team

In the twelve months since the Village Ward Police team has been established crime has fallen significantly in the area. The original five members of the team have now been joined by Police Community Support Officer Nathalie Fichet, pictured in the right of the front row of the accompanying photograph. The remainder of the team are (L - R) PCSO Sheri Robey, PC Shaun Mulcathy, Sgt Stephen Farrant, PCSO Darren Weems, PC Alastair Gellatly, PCSO Nathalie Fichet.

You can call the team on 020 8721 2446 or Mobile 07920 233 913. The Team does not provide a 24 hour service as it works various shifts, however it will get back to you as soon as possible if you leave a message.

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