Published on Saturday, 02 August 2008 14:42
All the wards and ancillary buildings surrounding the main entrance block of Dulwich Hospital will begin to be demolished in the latter part of this year when contractors take over the entire site. Once cleared, work will first begin on building Dulwich Community Hospital.
Rosemary Dawson who represents the amenity societies as a lay person on the Community Involvement Communication Group writes:
During the past year Brenda Jones and myself with our Community Development worker, Ann Thanes, have been to meet small groups and held public meetings. Sadly, one of our members, Rhona Churchill died suddenly last November. We have given presentations, handed out information and answered questions. Our aim is to make contact, inform and interest people in the development of the site so that their ideas might be incorporated into the plans.
We know that when the hospital closes in December 2004 Kings College Hospital will be taking the acute medical beds to the new wards now being prepared at Denmark Hill in the Ruskin Wing. After the clearance of the site in East Dulwich Grove, subject to planning permission, work will commence on the building of the Primary Care Centre, Intermediate Care Beds and a Well-being Centre. The dialysis unit will transfer to King's but some 'satellite' beds will still remain at Dulwich in temporary accommodation as well as the Out- Patients services currently in use until new premises are ready. The Public Health Laboratory will move permanently off the site.
Although tree preservation orders are in place for many of the trees and the railings fronting East Dulwich Grove will be retained no decision has been made at the time of writing on the future of the remaining two acres of the site, although some form of housing is likely. The French chateau-style centre-block will be retained.
The hospital in East Dulwich Grove was built by the Guardians of the Poor of the Parish of St Saviour, Southwark in 1887. The existing infirmary for Southwark's aged poor was at Newington, near the Elephant & Castle and was seriously over-crowded. It served one of London's most densely populated and insanitary parishes. Earlier, the vestry had negotiated to purchase land in Peckham for a new infirmary but the cost of the site was too great. In the event, a site of almost seven acres was purchased in East Dulwich, on the edge of the Dulwich Estate, at a cost of £14,000. Despite stiff local opposition to plans to build the new infirmary, led by the Estate's surveyor Charles Barry (who was concerned that local property values might fall, thus reducing income for the College) and prominent local resident, Sir Henry Bessemer, whose house looked down towards the proposed infirmary, the project went ahead.
The sum of £50,000 was then expended in building the hospital, the wards being constructed in what was termed the 'Nightingale' design. The building incorporated many up-to-date ideas such as high connecting walkways between the wards which also offered patients the opportunity of taking fresh air. At its opening it had a capacity of 723 beds. For the next forty years or so it relieved pressure on local voluntary hospitals by accepting some patients.
However, in 19l5, during the First World War, it was requisitioned by the War Office as a military hospital. With the high losses then being sustained in France, the number of beds was increased to 800. It is estimated that 14,000 - 15,000 wounded soldiers were treated in the hospital during the war. Of this number, 119 died, a remarkably low figure. The base of the memorial to them remains near the front entrance. At the abolition of the Poor Law in 1930 the Southwark Union Infirmary was renamed Dulwich Hospital and it began its new life as a general hospital. However it was to be many years before what was seen as the stigma of being a Poor Law institution was finally shaken off.
One of the first changes under the new administration was the opening of a new operating theatre in 1931 and gradually the ground floor wards became converted to other uses such as pathological laboratories and out-patients clinics. These changes reduced the number of beds to 423. During World War 11 it coped with the numerous Dulwich inhabitants injured in air-raids. Although bombs and V1's exploded close by, miraculously the hospital was not hit. In the 1950's the League of Friends of Dulwich Hospital was launched, mainly through the efforts of the Dulwich Rotary Club and spearheaded by the hospital chaplain the Revd. Donald Strudwick who was also a Rotarian. The League has continued to provide outstanding support for Dulwich Hospital, not only in furnishing a wide range of amenities but also in fostering a strong local affection (see below).
In 1964 Dulwich was designated as a District Hospital and became part of the King's Group. Although it had lost its A & E department it would soon become a centre of excellence for renal treatment. Local support was so strong that in 1988 a new renal ward, designed by Sir Terence Conran opened, paid for from the £1million raised locally over five years.
In 1996 the final chapter of Dulwich Hospital began to be written when plans for a new community hospital were first drawn up. After a number of years of consultation the final plans revealed that apart from the entrance block, the remainder of the site would be cleared and transferred to a private company who would lease it back to the NHS for a period of 25 years and who would require NHS permission at the end of this term to sell the site.
This summer the Group will carry out a survey intended to provide a record of the buildings, architecture, inscriptions and fixtures and fittings of historical interest. It is hoped that the information collated will provide some of the source material for a booklet.
Dulwich Society members interested in assisting the Local History Group in this project by means of recording or photography are invited to contact the Bernard Nurse (Local History Chairman) 18 Ruskin Walk, SE 24 9LZ tel:020 7326 1786.
Dulwich Society member Arthur Dodd recalls memories of Dulwich Hospital Radio
My original contact with Dulwich Hospital was as a patient. In 1984 I was admitted on three occasions and received the most marvellous treatment for major ailments and thanks mainly to Dulwich Hospital was restored to pristine vigour. In 1987, by which time I had taken early retirement, my wife saw a poster from Dulwich Hospital Radio who were having a 'Bring and Buy' at a hall in Lordship Lane. They were seeking presenters and it occurred to us that here was a way of both saying 'thank you' and also sharing my love and I believe informed enthusiasm of popular music from the 20's until the early 50's.
I had built up a considerable collection over the years and was acquainted with survivors from those times. For some while I had reviewed reissues and had written for specialist magazines dealing with that era. Could I now bring presentational skills to a programme featuring this material? My standard bearers in this respect were John Watt's 'Songs from the Shows', Alan Dell's 'Dance Band Days' and the recently deceased and irreplaceable Hubert Gregg with 'Thanks for the Memory'. Eventually I was asked to attend at the studio of Dulwich Hospital Radio when I was asked what it was that I had to offer. I indicated my wish to share with contemporaries, music from happier times. This was agreed but I had to read a test paper. This was found to be acceptable by the committee whose 'big wheel' was Vic Short who had professional experience and had worked at The Whittington Hospital in North London.
My first programme was entitled 'From Arthur's Archives' and the very first number played was 'The March of the Movies' by Louis Levy and the Gaumont British Symphony Orchestra. The remainder of my hour included items by the Lew Stone Band, Jessie Matthews and Bobbie Howes. Incidentally I was all at sea with the equipment but this was overcome with time as I developed a confidence and style. Other presenters skilfully assembled programmes to include country music, news on the hour and request programmes. These were interspersed with interviews with local celebrities and recorded programmes hired from British Telecom.
Most of the staff were volunteers and we were sustained by voluntary contributions, some of which, in a most touching way, indicated the value of what we were doing. The studio was re-equipped and there was talk of moving to King's when Dulwich Hospital closed down. It was not to be. Our administrator, Vic Short became ill, key workers left and by the mid 1990's the ship had foundered.
For around six years I presented my programmes and shared my love of popular music and song at its peak and I hope these helped patients to recover and enjoy.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Saturday, 02 August 2008 14:41
The outstanding success of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, which attracted six million visitors during the five months it was open, ensured that the subsequent fate of Paxton's ground-breaking iron and glass building would be a matter of national concern. Unlike the financially disastrous Dome a century and a half later, for which no long term use has yet been found, Paxton's glasshouse was snapped up by a consortium of railway entrepreneurs who saw it as a profitable destination for excursion traffic. One of them had just bought an estate south of Dulwich, Penge Place, which would, and did provide an ideal site in which to erect the Crystal Palace, as it had been dubbed when it first appeared in Hyde Park.
It is sad to discover, on reading Jan Piggott's book that Joseph Paxton, whose novel design for the 1851 building, based on his experience of constructing the Great Conservatory at Chatsworth which had proved to be a welcome alternative to the Exhibition Commissioners' decided design, bore considerable responsibility for the financial problems that beset the Palace once it was re-erected at Sydenham. Not only was the building 50% larger than the original, but Paxton's extravagant plans for the fountains and cascades in the grounds bordered on the megalomaniacal. Paxton intended the waterworks at Sydenham to outshine those at Chatsworth and even at Versailles; as a consequence they, and Brunel's towers supplying them with water, cost more than the rebuilt Palace and all its contents put together. Dr Piggott wryly comments that the 'waterworks were not universally admired, particularly by anxious investors'.
As with the Dome, the number of likely visitors was over estimated, as was the number of exhibitors renting stands. There are parallels too with the Channel Tunnel: both it and the Palace is/was well used but the initial outlay on each was so excessive that a stable financial infrastructure is/was an elusive dream. There were always insufficient funds for maintenance at the Palace and in 1909 the Crystal Palace Company was declared bankrupt. In the short term the Palace was rescued by a white knight in the shape of the Earl of Plymouth who paid £230,000 to save it from demolition. It was placed in the hands of trustees and its running costs - and the major costs of long overdue renovation - were met by the taxpayer and the ratepayer.
It is ironic that it was only in the last twenty years of its existence that the Palace was ably and successfully managed. Sir Henry Buckland devoted himself to its restoration to its former glory. The Pompeian and Egyptian Courts, for example had been closed for decades but in 1935 they were re-opened, having been meticulously restored. In the following year, Buckland wept openly as the Crystal Palace burned, saying; "I am afraid it is Crystal Palace's last and biggest firework show of all".
The coexistence of architectural courts displaying the civilisations of past eras with firework displays encapsulates the dilemma and tension that beset the Palace throughout its life:- was it to be an "illustrated encyclopaedia" to educate and elevate the masses, or a palace of the people, providing popular entertainment? Could it be both? Dr Piggott examines the conflicting aims of its original sponsors who wished to introduce the " one shilling visitors" in particular to the architectural and sculptural glories of past civilisations, and to make a profit for the shareholders and themselves. Statues, tropical plants (thanks to Paxton's influence) and ethnographic displays jostled cheek by jowl with opportunities for everything from ice-creams to heavy machinery (the latter from the Industrial Courts). Even the Park had an educational aim, beyond its horticultural displays. How many of us visiting one exhibit surviving from the original layout, the Extinct Animals (aka the dinosaurs) near the lake, realise that we are experiencing the first rung in an evolutionary ladder which once culminated in the multi-faceted achievements to humankind as collected and exhibited in the Palace at the top of the hill ?
We go to see them because they are different, and fun, the same reasons that motivated the majority of the Palace's visitors during the eighty years of its existence. As the South Kensington museums - themselves the fruit of the 1851 Exhibition and built from its profits - became more established in the 1860's and 70's the financial problems of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham became more acute and the pleasures provided by the latter became less high-minded. Brock's elaborate firework displays, of which there were 1,500 between 1865 and 1936, proved very popular and must have had a great deal to do with the saving the Crystal Palace Company from earlier financial collapse, according to the Pictorial World in 1887. They were joined by ballooning ascents, dramatic and musical productions and even the Football Association Cup Final for twenty years from 1894-1914.
Palace of the People is a thoroughly researched, beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book. We are fortunate that photography, then in its infancy, experienced a growth sprint between 1851 and 1854, and that Philip Delamotte was appointed the official photographer at the Palace. To him we owe a photographic record of the Palace at all stages of its reconstruction at Sydenham, of the Architectural and the other Courts and of significant ceremonial events enacted there.
On 17 June, one hundred and fifty years and one week after the official opening of the Palace by Queen Victoria, Dr Piggott will be leading a historical walk through the Crystal Palace Park (see 'What's On' page 8 ); reading this book beforehand will prepare you for the pleasures in store.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Saturday, 02 August 2008 14:39
The existing organ in Christ's Chapel of Alleyn's College of God's Gift at Dulwich was first constructed in 1760 by George England. There were three organ-builders in the England dynasty: George ('Old England'), John, and John's son, George Pike. There is precious little organ-building work by George England which has survived unaltered and the original specification of the Chapel organ can be found in the notebooks of the Reverend John Hanson Sperling (1825-1894) which are now held at the British Organ Archive in Birmingham. Although there are many textual references to the organ in the Chapel, Sperling's entry (dating some time between 1850 and 1880) is the earliest reliable source of information about the instrument which was slightly altered in 1880 by Thomas Christopher Lewis of Brixton. Lewis was not an admirer of a certain type of organ sound - namely 'mixture' stops containing third-sounding or 'tierce' ranks of pipes. He diligently removed these sounds, but fortunately did not destroy all of the pipework, preferring to recast the composition of some of the stops, retaining some of the material - albeit relocated within the instrument and not speaking at the pitch that it once did. Lewis was one of the finest nineteenth-century British organ builders and one may surmise from the limited extent of his changes that perhaps he thought highly of the quality of England's work. Until 1880 the organ was tuned to an unequal temperament when Lewis retuned it to what is now known as equal temperament. Until that time there was no Pedal organ (played by the feet) and so Lewis added a new Bourdon stop for this purpose. It is important to understand that, despite the changes made by Lewis, until 1908 the organ remained largely as George England had constructed it in 1760.
The history of English organ building is one in which every generation seems to have taken the opportunity to add to and update
The history of English organ building is one in which every generation seems to have taken the opportunity to add to and update an instrument - perhaps in the way that each generation alters some cosmetic or structural aspect of a house. Thus it was that in 1908 the organ's mechanical action was converted to the then-fashionable pneumatic system and the organ was much altered by the firm of Norman & Beard. Until this time the instrument would have been hand blown; the mechanism was superceded and an electric fan located in the tower. Fortunately this work retained some of England's pipework (suffering significant alteration), but, sadly, the organ's eighteenth-century mechanism, winding and soundboards were lost. Further alterations were undertaken in 1948 by Arthur Coombs, the local grocer, and in 1969 the instrument was given a strong neo-baroque identity, the work being carried out by Mander Organ Builders who fitted the organ with an electro-pneumatic action to manuals and pedals.
Although the time had not come to place the organ on the agenda for a major overhaul, an unfortunate heating accident over the Christmas period in 1999-2000 caused significant and lasting damage to the instrument and this has considerably foreshortened its life. The organ has always been kept in first-class condition because of its heavy usage in the round of services both for the congregation and for the schools - not to mention weddings, funerals and concerts. Approximately one third of the instrument has now been inoperative for over three years and it is only through the excellent and musical playing of the Chapel organist, Marilyn Harper, that its shortcomings are not evident.
The organ has deteriorated to the extent that the only proper course of action is to take it back to basics and reconstruct it, rather than to attempt to undertake remedial work. The majority of the organ's pipes, together with its casework, date from 1760. The survival of so much early pipework gives this organ a national importance - the instrument has both the earliest surviving Gothic Revival organ case and Cornet stop in the United Kingdom. Coincidentally the library at Dulwich College contains the music manuscripts of one-time organist of the Chapel, John Reading (1686-1764), and these volumes represent an important primary source of English Cornet voluntaries. After due consultation it is believed that the correct course of action is to recover the organ's historic quality which is in keeping with the architectural surroundings of the Chapel and the type of worship offered there. Discussions on behalf of the Dulwich Estate took place with the Diocesan Organ Advisers Dr Harry Bramma (former Director of the Royal School of Church Music) and Barrie Clark (formerly an architect with English Heritage). Both gentlemen took the view that the right course of action was to restore rather than develop the instrument. The consultant for the project is Dr William McVicker.
The opportunity therefore presents itself to undertake a restoration project of a type that was not achieved in 1969 when the organ was taken on another journey in its history. The instrument was cleaned and put back into good order after the recent restorative work to the Chapel interior in the late 1990s and so an insurance claim for the damage to the organ is in progress.
The users of the organ were consulted, including the Chapel's Director of Music, Dulwich College's Choral Foundation, and directors of music groups from Alleyn's School and James Allen's Girls' School. Other users include the parish choir of St Barnabas's Church and organ students and their teachers from the Foundation schools together with visitors who use the chapel for occasional concerts.
The requirements of these user groups has been carefully discussed and assessed. An Organ Committee visited instruments by Mander Organs, Goetze & Gwynn, William Drake Organ Builders and Peter Collins Ltd. After a formal tender process William Drake, of Buckfastleigh in Devon, was appointed to undertake the work, subject to Faculty approval.
By way of summary, the proposed works to the organ includes new soundboards, a new console with reversed-colour keyboards, a new mechanical action suitable for the new pipework which will be designed and scaled to have an eighteenth-century character to match the restored 1760 England pipes; other new elements include the Swell box and wind system; the Gothic Revival casework will be restored, together with the largest of the façade pipes, which have not spoken since 1908.
The unattractive 1969 pipework, which stands to the right-hand side of the elegant organ case, is to be removed, along with the unsightly 1908 Swell box which protrudes from the top of the instrument. Both of these visual changes will improve the aesthetic of the west gallery and the Chapel's architectural sightlines. Certain compromises to a strict restoration have been agreed with the users: the organ will be tuned to modern concert pitch to enable the schools to combine organ and instruments, and the organ will have a set of pedals (which it did not have in 1760) which will allow the performance of later repertoire. The stop changes will be effected by mechanical combination pedals.
The scheme was placed before the Parochial Church Council of St Barnabas' Church, Dulwich and appropriate approval for proposed works was obtained in January 2004. Faculty approval is being sought from the Diocese of Southwark. The organ is to be constructed during 2006 and the project will be paid for principally by the Dulwich Estate, although additional funding may come from insurance recovery, any successful grant applications, and fund-raising activities undertaken by members of the congregation. The project is enormously exciting and we look forward to a time when this instrument speaks once more with its elegant eighteenth-century voice restored.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Saturday, 02 August 2008 14:40
This major show, devoted to the work of Henry Moore is open until 12 September. The exhibition features at its core important works from two major collections - the entire Moore holdings from the Robert and Liza Sainsbury Centre at Norwich and a rich complementary selection of works from the remarkable collections of the Henry Moore Foundation.
The exhibition will inhabit all the available spaces at Dulwich, starting outdoors where some of his most monumental bronzes will transform the garden; but also inside, amongst the old masters of the famous John Soane enfilade as well as in the dedicated exhibition rooms. The selection includes works on paper in various media and important examples of sculptural work in a wide range of materials, from massive outdoor bronzes to tiny ironstone pebble carvings. It will focus particularly on Moore's pre-1960's work (including some of his earliest recorded work), and will explore issues of private patronage and the creative process in this extraordinary prolific phase of his long career.
Open Tuesday-Friday 10-5, weekends and Bank Holiday Monday 11 - 5
The Gallery reopens on15 June following a building programme which includes improving physical access, providing an education space and refurbishing the main exhibition space.
The South London Gallery in Peckham Road, was formerly the South London Art Gallery founded by a Camberwell resident, William Rossiter in 1868. It was unusual in that its founder insisted opening the gallery on Sundays to provide inspiration for the artisan who then usually worked six days a week. Later Rossiter enlisted the help of well-known figures in the art world including Lord Leighton and G.F.Watts to provide a purpose built gallery. The outcome was that the new gallery, which opened in 1891, was seven years later connected with the South London Working Men's College, a technical institute which later became the Camberwell School of Art. This new institution provided South London with the kind of facilities previously enjoyed only north of the river. It was built by the London County Council and partly funded by Passmore Edwardes, the Cornish philanthropist. This connection still exists and the Principal of the Camberwell School of Art has a seat on the governing body of the Gallery. The gallery has an important permanent collection of works by Victorian artists such as Ruskin, Millais, Opie and Prinsep.
Tom Friedman (1965-) was born in St Louis, Missouri, and currently lives in Massachusetts. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Saatchi Gallery, London; the Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. Friedman's work is rarely titled and he employs a labour-intensive technique related to process art and creates humorous and elemental works out of materials that don't usually get human attention. In one piece thousands of words written on paper become an abstract design, in another, a piece of sytrofoam is reduced to dust and then sculpted into an improbably thin, gravity-defying tower.
(exhibition open Tuesday-Sunday 12noon-6pm, late night Thursday 12-8.30pm. Closed Mondays. Admission Free)
Shaun McQueen, Turner Prize-winner and Video artist. Exhibition 9 September-7 November
The Gaudier Ensemble is coming to Dulwich! This group of fine international musicians - strings, woodwind and piano- are presenting a Festival of Chamber Music at St Barnabas Church from 29 September - 2 October.
The Gaudier Ensemble has performed a similar Festival at Cerne Abbbas, Dorset for the past ten years - always a music feast and always sold out. They have a wide repertoire from baroque to the present day. Each of the eleven members is a soloist or orchestral principal with a major orchestra including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia. The group is established internationally and they have made a number of highly praised recordings with Hyperion. In April they performed at the Wigmore Hall at a BBC Concert, later broadcasted on Radio 3.
One of the joys is that their rehearsals are, whenever possible, open to the public (free) and you will be able to creep into the advertised rehearsal venues for a foretaste. The programme will include Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet, the Quintet for String Quintet and Double Bass by Dvorak and the Schubert Octet for Strings and Winds. There will also be a children's concert too - a popular event in their festivals.
Tickets will be on sale from June from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village or you can obtain full details and a booking form from the Festival Office, 1 Court Lane Gardens SE 21 7DZ (tel/fax: 020 8693 3973
Artist Heather Burrell who lives in Gowlett Road designed and made the striking gates for the Centre for Wildife Gardening in Marsden Road, East Dulwich four years ago after suggesting to the Bellenden Area Renewal Scheme that a more welcoming entrance would attract more visitors to the Centre, to which she took her young daughter. They agreed and commissioned her design. It has been successful in raising awareness to the Centre and she has now been commissioned by the Scheme to design front gates for neighbouring houses in Marsden Road that border the Centre.
(Heather Burrell undertakes private commissions, enquiries 020 8516 4273
The Education Department of the Picture Gallery is offering a wide variety of courses to the general public this summer. On Wednesdays from 9 June-7 July 3.15-6pm Liz Butler of the Royal watercolour Society will present Watercolour for the Worried- A course designed for beginners or those wishing to improve on basic skills. (Course £65)
The Education Department also offers a Sackler Study Day on Saturday 31July 10.30am-3.30pm Making Sense of Modern Art: 1900-World War ll lecturer Valerie Woodgate (£25, £20 cons including a sandwich lunch). World War ll - the Turner Prize will follow in September.
Two courses in sculpture are also being offered. Tuesday 27 July- Friday 30 July 10.30am-3.30pm Portrait Modelling in Clay. Tutor: Luke Jones (course £110, cons £90). Saturday Art School, Saturdays 12 June-17 July 2-4.30pm An Introduction to Sculpture. Tutors, Luke Jones and Sara Ingleby-Mackenzie. The course explores a variety of sculptural methods inspired by the Henry Moore Exhibition. (Course £75, cons £65)
Booking for all the above courses is essential. Please contact Liz Pink on 020 8299 8732.
Set amidst the opulence and splendour of 18th century Vienna, Peter Shaffer's thrilling, and often wickedly funny play, Amadeus is returning to the stage at the Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College in June. Promising to be darker and sexier than ever before, this production pits blazing ambition against heavenly genius, in what becomes a battle of life and death.
Peter Shaffer's play of the life and tragedy of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart will be presented by the Dulwich Players at the Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 3-5 June at 8pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm... Tickets £6 from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28
Published on Saturday, 02 August 2008 14:37
For many years the invention of the motor car and to some extent, the bicycle, stimulated an increase in passing trade, a benefit which was eventually dealt a severe blow by the introduction of drink-driving legislation. Recently, the repeal of the licensing restrictions on opening hours introduced during the Great War in efforts to keep munitions workers sober and at work have led to further change.
Tastes in interior design, probably stimulated by the popularity of numerous TV make-over programmes have led to the all too frequent make-over of the pub interior itself. Out go acres of polished walnut and engraved glass (unless the building is listed) and in come sofas, soft lighting and French doors. Bars which were once repositories of countless ornaments and curiosities are now studies in minimalism.
To compensate for falls in the sale of alcohol, bottled waters have supplemented stronger drinks (but not at a noticeably lower price) and the arrow-root biscuit in a jar on the bar has been superseded by a wide choice of food. If that great lover of pubs and pub food, Dr Johnson, was alive today he would probably have rejoiced at the return of the availability of the pork chop but might be puzzled by the appearance of ciabatta sandwiches on the menu!
That it is not easy to successfully run a pub has been brought into sharp focus by the recent announcement (Report: London Residential Research ) that fifty-four public houses in Southwark alone closed between 1995-2001, the highest closure rate in any London borough. Of course, many of these were in parts of the borough which have been redeveloped and some of the functions they performed when they were built in the second half of the nineteenth century have disappeared. The successful landlords are those who have the skill and adaptable premises to transform them into a wine bar or gastro-pub. Few 'traditional' pubs these days host meetings of Friendly Societies like the Foresters or the Oddfellows, nor are venues of Rotary Clubs or Masonic Lodges. The darts board has probably been replaced by a wide-screen television constantly showing football or rugby matches and the previously illegal service, which was always on hand, of putting on a bet, has been rendered obsolete by the opening of the neighbourhood betting shop.
By a curious chance, several pieces of evidence of the history of local Dulwich pubs have come to light. Thanks to Robert Adie of Holmdene Avenue a number maps and diagrams which were part of leases granted to 18th and 19th century Dulwich residents have come to light. This collection includes the plans of the enlargement of the stable yard of Greyhound Inn in 1833. The inn offered the service of a job master who would hire out horses and carriages. The ground plan of the new stable shows stalls for fifteen horses and cover for six carriages, several in secure coach houses. An additional feature in the yard, which stood on the south side of the inn, was a skittle alley.
The changing pattern of trade is not a new phenomenon and the old Greyhound Inn found the need to adapt to changing circumstances in the last quarter of the nineteenth century as the drinking habits of the middle-classes moved from frequenting inns to drinking at home or in clubs. Unable to compete with the demands made by the rising lower-middle classes of artisans and clerical workers who populated the adjacent teeming new suburb of East Dulwich it was forced to close and be demolished, eventually being built over by Aysgarth and Pickwick Roads . Diagonally opposite stood The Crown which also dated from at least the eighteenth century. This inn once attracted a different clientele to its more illustrious neighbour, being more the 'local' of the numerous agricultural workers. By the second half of the nineteenth century their customer bases had begun to converge and shortly before 1900 both inns were demolished, to be replaced by the present Crown & Greyhound Hotel.
Robert has also discovered a copy of an architectural book (Modern Buildings, their planning, construction and equipment ed. G.A.T. Middleton published ?1905). The book features the new Crown and Greyhound Hotel (then named The Crown Hotel) as one of its illustrations of inns and public houses.
Much more pretentious are the modern inns, which are replacing many of those once found in a country village and in the suburbs of the larger towns. These new buildings are often dignified by the name of hotel, though they scarcely deserve it, as this title ought to be reserved for buildings which provide mainly for persons who stay in them for the night and so use them as temporary homes. A typical example is The Crown Hotel at Dulwich, designed by Messrs Eedle& Myers. There is some slight attempt in it, though not a great one, to introduce a sense of comfort similar to that so noticeable in the old country inn, while the somewhat rare adjunct of a skittle alley is added, as well as the more modern rooms for the meetings of a Masonic Lodge. On the ground floor the bar of the public house is replaced by the saloon bar of the gin palace, the open seats and bar counter suggesting its use for drinking purposes rather than as a club or meeting place, while the coffee- room, so called, which opens out of it is intended for the service of solid refreshments, having lifts in one corner, by means of which the kitchen on the second floor can be reached directly. The impression given by the plan is that the bar would be served by barmaids and the coffee-room by waiters in evening dress. This portion of the building is carefully divided off as for the better class of customer, and out of the saloon bar the large billiard-room with its top light is immediately reached. Small bars, set apart for the lower class of customer and the jug-and-bottle trade, are controlled from the same serving counter, the planning of which is managed with great skill.
The arrangement of the Masonic rooms, now almost necessary in all buildings of this type, is noticeable, each of its two principal rooms being capable of being used for suppers, banquets, or balls, as the need may arise, as well as for purely Masonic purposes.
The staircase at the end of the building is for the use of staff and for the few persons who might utilise the house for sleeping purposes. The back of the site is given up to large public stables, consisting of one loose box, seven stalls, and a coach-house and harness room, with a large yard in front of them; while provision is made should the need arise - as it probably would do before long - for a motor garage.
One interesting fact that has emerged from researching this article is that there remains provision in some Dulwich pubs for the accommodation of B & B guests. Bearing in mind the dearth of such local accommodation, this might be the salvation of some struggling houses.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 02:28