The Dulwich Society Journal for Autumn 2022.
Now that a decision has been made on making the junction of Calton Avenue and Dulwich Village a permanent closure and discussion of the naming of the space ‘Dulwich Square’ ceased to become a taboo subject, residents will no doubt be interested in what happens next. A public consultation will be held on its design, the date of which is at present unknown. No doubt old wounds, recently concealed, if not healed, will re-open. As it stands, the space at present can only be described as a pig’s ear of a design, with redundant traffic lights hooded as if awaiting execution, ugly and makeshift planter boxes, hazardous tripping points for pedestrians, appealing slopes for ‘wannabe’ skateboarders, unclear paths for super-charged cyclists (not to mention future e-scooterists).
The last time such a ‘consultation’ was held was for the ill-fated, ridiculously expensive scheme to give cyclists (presumed) greater safety in their (assumed) west to east route. As a consequence, pedestrians found crossing Calton Avenue both circuitous and hazardous, cyclists ignored their new pathways and took the shortest route, motorists, frustrated at delays accelerated around the corners at alarming speed. Things can only improve.
What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing design, drawn up by an architect who has specialised in street landscaping who will take into account the list of preferences distilled from the consultation.
Of course, the matter of the design of the ‘Dulwich Square, will undoubtedly become the next battle-ground for local armchair street planners, let alone lexicographers seeking a more appropriate name for the newly-created space.
And what about the cost? Actually, that is the easiest of the problems to be solved. Either the Dulwich Estate should pay the bill in reparations for the appropriation of the original village green by Edward Alleyn in 1613 on which to build his foundation, or it should come from the £?m plus fines imposed by Southwark Council for infringement of the LTN. Either way, both are a form of highway robbery!
Your editor was asked recently if, in his 40 years of commenting upon local issues, he had ever come across anything as contentious as the Battle of the LTNs. Time, if not the great healer certainly has a capacity for diminishing ill feeling. Here is a list, which is not claimed to be a complete one, of past issues which have divided our lovely village.
Speeding traffic, culminating in a dreadful accident in Court Lane in which two schoolboys were seriously injured led to installation of the first speed humps in Dulwich. The speed humps were expensive and too high and had to be replaced. In the meantime, traffic diverted to Woodwarde Road to avoid them, leading to speed humps needing to be installed in that road.
Threat of the imposition of a permanent gypsy/travellers’ campsite on Dulwich Common by Southwark Council led to widespread alarm and protest.
The sale of ‘The Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Domenichino by Dulwich College Picture Gallery in contravention of its benefactor’s express wishes in order to save the Gallery from closure due to unsustainable running expenses. It led to widespread condemnation throughout the art world which pleaded for better funding for such institutions.
Perceived failure by the Dulwich Society in not taking stronger action against the Dulwich Estate over a proposal to turn the Crown & Greyhound’s pub garden into a car park. This led to the creation of the Dulwich Preservation Society, largely made up of dissatisfied residents immediately affected by the potential disruption.
Huge dissatisfaction with the Dulwich Estate including its ignoring of residents’ reasonable complaints over issues like arrogance, maintenance, and response times to problems. It led to a campaign by residents (headed by the Dulwich Society) and culminating in two public meetings chaired by the constituency MP. The governors, in retaliation, considered ‘walking away’ from the Scheme of Management.
Refusal of the Dulwich Estate to grant permission for building design changes to a house in West Dulwich to accommodate the needs of a disabled child.
New ‘real books’ reading scheme introduced in local infant schools to replace traditional ‘see-say’ method. Vigorously criticised by parents, leading to numerous public protest meetings and complaints.
Failure of William Penn School, despite its rebranding as Dulwich High School, led to public campaign to improve local state secondary schools. Culminates with the closure of the school and its rebuilding and reopening as the Charter School.
Disagreement among local residents over the proposed design of the new St Barnabas Church to replace the Victorian church destroyed by fire, descended into acrimony and was used by some as a coded criticism of the sexuality of the then vicar.
Mass protest over the threatened closure of the Dulwich Village Post Office.
Vociferous disagreement over the felling of the ancient tree at the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common - Zelcova Carpinifolia. Tree preservation order placed on the tree which was subsequently pruned.
In June the Society held a Special General Meeting with the intention of adopting new rules proposed by the executive committee that were designed to modernise the Society's functioning and to introduce more transparency and accountability. The subject matter was hardy thrilling, but the turnout was disappointing. The meeting was barely quorate and indeed would not have been quorate under the proposed rules. Whilst a majority were in favour, the required threshold of two thirds was not reached. We will now take a pause to consider and consult before reconsidering further changes. In the meantime, some of the required changes can be implemented via by-laws without the immediate need for another Special General Meeting.
It is great to hear from members with their thoughts on so many topics that come into my inbox. It will not surprise you that the climate emergency is a topic about which many of you are passionate. Locally, what can be done? What are Southwark and the Dulwich Estate doing about the climate emergency? What are we doing as residents? More needs to be done and it needs to be done faster. After a summer which has seen the hottest ever UK temperature record (set only three years earlier) beaten by more than one and a half degrees Celsius, it is not a surprise that climate change is an accepted fact. What is more of a surprise is that the urgency of the situation does not seem to be appreciated as widely. This summer's wildfires, as close at hand as in Croydon, will hopefully focus attention on the emergency that we face.
The Dulwich Estate is beginning to develop a green strategy but needs to increase its aspirations and accelerate the pace. There needs to be a thorough review of the scheme of management guidelines as well as operational changes by the Estate as real-estate owner and landlord. Southwark needs to roll out more accessible on-street electric vehicle charging posts. We as residents need to move to electric vehicles, insulate our homes and take advantage of solar and heat-pump power. All this needs to happen at pace.
On a more positive note, Southwark's process of co-design of the public realm of the area where Calton Avenue meets Dulwich Village is well under way. Now that the traffic orders are permanent, the community can put the contentious issues of motor vehicle access behind us and concentrate on achieving a design that is commensurate with the quality of the area and one which will enhance Dulwich as a destination to draw in footfall for the benefit of local businesses. The Society is playing an active role in this important project at the heart of our neighbourhood.
Southwark Civic Awards 2022
Southwark Civic Awards, which ‘recognise excellence in active citizenship and exceptional achievement’, are the most prestigious the council can make and were presented to two Dulwich Society members at a ceremony held at Southwark Cathedral. The Freedom of the Liberty of the Old Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell was bestowed upon Ian McInnes, former chairman of the Dulwich Society, and Brian Green, editor of this Journal, by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Sandra Rhule. A local body also receiving an award at the ceremony was the Paxton Green Time Bank which received the new ‘Southwark Together Award’ for its work in brokering reciprocity and enabling practical help and support.
Traffic and Environment
The recent T&E meeting featured a large number of topics including the question of Vision Zero (working towards no traffic fatalities or injuries while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all) and it was agreed the sub-committee would look into it further. Disability access to trains and frequency of services was also discussed, as were ways of improving uneven pavements. Further discussion took place about plans for e-scooters (potentially coming soon to Dulwich, albeit with a question mark over suitable locations) and Santander cycles (likely over time to extend south to Dulwich but needing to cover Camberwell first). Finally, the co-design process which will take place later this year for Dulwich Square was discussed. The Society was informed this would not involve the principles of mobility through it but rather focus on how to make it a safe and attractive public space. Since the T&E meeting there have been developments regarding bus services which the sub-committee is monitoring.
Planning and Architecture
In the past few months 39 licence applications to the Dulwich Estate Scheme of Management were inspected and commented upon. Of these, there were 14 which were objected to, largely due to the applicants failing to observe the issued guidance or failing to provide sufficient information.
There was an objection to a large development in Fountain Drive of a new build 4 & 5 storey apartment building with roof terrace, comprising 9 x 2 bed flats with terraces, due to failure to adhere to both Southwark planning policy (notably exceeding the density of development for Suburban Density Zone South) and the majority of the Estate’s Development Guidelines for new-build properties. Particular concerns include excessive height and massing, out of character with the estate and immediate setting, loss of amenity to neighbouring residents (overbearing impact, sunlight, loss of privacy) and poor design quality. There was also Objection to front landscaping, including front parking area, due to failure to achieve 50% soft landscaping (and confusion about which parking layout applies) and Objection to rear landscaping, which is not proportionate to the size of the development.
The Dulwich Society also objected to the proposal to construct two new houses in the rear garden of a house in Wood Vale as being contrary to the Southwark Plan and the Dulwich SPD. The scheme is contrary to NSP Policy AV 07 (Dulwich Area Vision) in that it does not preserve and enhance the character of Dulwich. The SPD notes that Dulwich is not considered to be a suitable area for backland development due to the character of the area and large plot sizes. There would be a detrimental effect on residential amenity (privacy) of adjoining owners due to the raised floor level, proximity of the houses to site boundaries and overall height of the houses. There would be substantial loss of tree canopy from the scheme, and the access to the new houses takes up almost one third of the plot.
The Dulwich Society took a neutral stance on the part retrospective application for an outdoor nursery and holiday club at the Herne Hill Velodrome. It was noted that any planning permission should be subject to the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Code of Conduct. It was also noted that further information was required on the potential conflict between the existing ‘off-road’ mountain bike / cyclo cross trails and the nursery / holiday club, to ensure that there is no loss of cycling facilities (and cycling-related holiday clubs). This should also include an assessment of health and safety and safeguarding issues for children attending both activities. Although the determination deadline was 19th January 2022, the application is still listed as under consideration / assessment.
Licensing - Patsy Bramble comments
One of the attractions of living in Dulwich is that residents are able to enjoy the green open spaces of our nearby parks. In recent years however, the parks have also become attractive venues during the summer months for promoters of festivals, including large music festivals with daily attendance figures between 10,000 (Peckham Rye Park) and 35,000 (Crystal Palace Park). The fees (amount undisclosed) paid to local councils provide them with a welcome, additional, source of income.
The work of the small Dulwich Society Licensing Sub- Committee ( all 2 of us!) is taken up with monitoring and making representations on premises licence applications for such events (some one- off, others time limited or permanent), as well as premises licence applications for restaurants, bars, cafes and sports clubs in Dulwich Village Ward and surrounding Wards.
Under the Licensing Act 2003 an applicant for a premises’ licence must demonstrate how they will satisfy the four licensing objectives, namely: prevention of crime and disorder; ensure public safety; prevention of public nuisance (including noise and light pollution) and protection of children from harm. Quite often the applicants address the objectives only in minimum terms
Southwark Council runs an excellent scheme in notifying amenity groups and residents’ associations of premises licence applications. In contrast, it seems that Bromley and Lambeth councils do not, so we are dependent on local intelligence to learn of applications which could adversely affect the amenity of local residents.
Typically, the Licensing Sub-Committee considers two or three applications each month. We review these to see if, in our opinion, the applicant has satisfactorily addressed the licensing objectives and recommend to the Society’s Executive Committee whether a representation opposing the application should be made to the relevant Council’s Licensing Sub- Committee. To alert residents to applications, such details we receive go into the Society’s monthly e-newsletter and we also notify relevant local residents’ associations so they too can take a view as to whether the amenity of their members will be affected.
If the Executive Committee agrees that a representation should be made, one of us attends the Council’s Licensing Committee Hearing of the application. These now tend to be virtual hearings - via Teams. Five days before the hearing date, the Council publishes papers for the hearing, including representations by the Responsible Authorities (including Police, Environmental Health, Licensing) and all representations (anonymised) received from local residents. These hearings frequently take several hours, (not just because of IT glitches!) and are occasionally adjourned to a second day. A decision is usually given on the day of the hearing, but a detailed written decision must be handed down within 5 days of the hearing. In the case of festival applications, (which local councils rarely if ever refuse), we attend regular stakeholders’ meetings, - monthly, in the case of large festivals, to discuss matters such as traffic management plans, noise nuisance etc - and also post event debriefing meetings to ensure “lessons will be learned”, and damage to the parks’ infrastructure repaired.
London Wildlife Trust/Sydenham Hill Wood appeal
The Dulwich Society contributed £5,000 of matched funding with a similar amount from the BigGive for LWT's "Green Match Fund" appeal for paths improvement following heavy footfall in Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods during the Covid emergency. A total of £23,000 was raised during the actual appeal week and to date LWT has raised around £35,000 towards its £50,000 target. They will be able to carry out work on the path improvements, but will need to fund raise again to complete the project.
Court Lane raised beds
It is hoped that a project to improve the planting and maintenance of these beds will be realised, as well as seeing what local support there is to help maintain them in association with Southwark Council, which is responsible for the beds. Discussions are taking place with local councillors. The project stalled over two years ago partly because Council staff suggested that costly repairs were required to the beds for which funds were not available (an award of £300 was made). Any CGS funding for the current scheme, which is still being developed, will be applied for by the Court Lane Residents' Association which is promoting the project.
Clarke’s Green double benches
Estimates are being invited to repair/repave the plinths on which the two sets of double benches stand in the ‘green’ island at the corner of Village Way and Dulwich Village, historically known as Clarke’s Green.
The Society is pressing for a planting plan for this important feature (and possibly refurbishment of the light) as a 2023-24 CGS project. Hopefully agreement for a maintenance programme with Southwark Council can be reached at the same time.
Local History Talks on Zoom
The Dulwich Society local history talks start up again this autumn. As usual they will be on the first Tuesday of the month at 8pm, on Zoom. Tickets are £5 with all proceeds to charity. The talks (to year end) are:
8pm, Tuesday 4 Oct: Dulwich Greatest Hits: a musical tour of Dulwich’s pop past with Patrick Humphries
8pm, Tuesday 1 Nov: The Decline of Farming and the Rise of the Sports Clubs with Brian Green
8pm, Tuesday 6 Dec: Georgian Dulwich: houses and histories with Ian McInnes
Tickets are available on Eventbrite which can be accessed through Bell House Events.
Richard Lewis (1935 - 2022)
The Very Reverend Richard Lewis was vicar of St Barnabas from 1979-1990 and Dean of Wells from 1990-2003. He was appointed a Canon of Southwark in 1987. Lewis was educated at the Royal Masonic School for Boys and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1960, he began his ecclesiastical career with a curacy in Hinckley following which he was Priest in charge of St Edmund, Riddlesdown. He then held the incumbency at South Merstham, Wimbledon.
When Richard Lewis arrived in Dulwich, he inherited a parish of two halves. At Christ’s Chapel there was an active and well-attended children’s church which catered for children up to the age of around 13 accompanied by their parents, and a slightly declining congregation at St Barnabas. He successfully amalgamated the two congregations and the younger element from Christ’s Chapel would provide the impetus for the increase in attendance and the addressing of other issues Lewis was able to stimulate.
An ambitious building plan to provide social space nearer the church than the existing parish hall in Dulwich Village was soon launched and the new vicar’s ability to recognise talents within his flock led to speedy growth. He expanded the already well-established choir and promoted a number of successful initiatives such as the ecumenical services which brought local churches together. He was an accomplished musician and while at St Barnabas conducted the annual Christmas music, often including a piece of his own. Under St Barnabas Studies, he initiated a programme of visiting speakers and opened the use of the church for local community events.
His elevation as Dean of Wells came as no surprise in view of his undoubted success in Dulwich, where he had also seen a re-ordering of St Barnabas’s interior and also acted on behalf of two successive Bishops of Southwark in handling delicate pastoral matters in churches elsewhere. At Wells he controversially but successfully brought girls into the Cathedral choir as well as using his considerable pastoral skills to lead a commission on behalf of the archbishops of Canterbury and York at the request of the deans and provosts to resolve a number of scandals including the proposed sale of Hereford’s historic Mappa Mundi to plug a financial hole, a dispute at Lincoln over doctrinal issues and misappropriation of funds at Exeter by the head verger.
For a few years after his retirement, he and his wife Jill moved to Great Malvern, but they returned to Wells after the appropriate period of distancing. Elected Dean of Wells Emeritus, he remained an active participant in arguments over the disposal of church buildings, in particular the recent plan to sell the ancient Deanery to a hotel group. He advocated that but should become a gallery. In their closing years, Richard was a devoted carer for his wife.
Platinum Jubilee Commemorated
Dulwich celebrated HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with numerous street parties, a flower festival at Christ’s Chapel and the Dulwich Postal Cart, suitably decorated for the occasion, became a favoured place for a photographic memento. A commemorative Jubilee Tree Trail Walk around the middle of the Village was published by the Dulwich Society.
Village Shop Celebrates its 75th Anniversary
The Art Stationers & Village Toy Shop, better known as ‘Green’s’, celebrates its 75th anniversary in September. Opened in 1947 by Ernest and Lilian Green, it took over an existing stationers and artists’ materials business which incorporated a printing works at the rear of the premises named The College Press, which had originally opened at the beginning of the century. In 1957 their son, Brian joined the business. He was later joined by his two daughters, firstly Sally and then Mary who currently runs the shop. What is remarkable is that in a challenging and changing retail environment this small family business still survives.
The ever-popular ‘Images of Dulwich Calendar’ for 2023 is now available at the shop and makes an ideal and inexpensive gift to send.
Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Tessa Jowell Centre
Bubble Dreams, a new digital artwork by artist Carolyn Defrin and set designer Paul Burgess, has been unveiled at Tessa Jowell Health Centre (TJHC) in East Dulwich. The immersive and playful artwork, which is on display in the Children’s Services area of the centre, invites service users to interact with a digitally enhanced mural.
Designed to engage children and families in multiple ways, the installation offers opportunities for choice and control that can sometimes feel out of reach within healthcare settings. The painted mural and ‘dream bubbles’ are displayed on the wall of the Children’s Services waiting room and respond to the natural movements of visitors and staff. Through interactive technology and instructional language, the installation immerses visitors in a range of calming and playful 'bubble dreams' and transforms the space into numerous portals to other worlds.
This is the second in a series of four art commissions that aim to embed art in healthcare and to enhance the healing environment at TJHC. It follows the inaugural commission, The Health Centre’s Quilt, a large-scale artwork by a collective of local artists; Bamidele Awoyemi, Farouk Agoro and Livia Wang, which was unveiled at the centre in summer 2021. The commission series is a partnership between Dulwich Picture Gallery and NHS South East London CCG.
An architectural appraisal by Ian McInnes
The new health centre has now been functioning for over a year and provides a comprehensive range of integrated health services for the Dulwich community. Located on the south east corner of the former Dulwich Community Hospital site or, for those of a more historical bent, the former Champion Hill Infirmary of St Saviour's Union, it has been many years in gestation. It shares the site with the new Charter School East Dulwich which has retained the former ‘Chateau’ block, the centre piece of the original Victorian hospital design.
The rectangular plan has part two floors and part three floors and is laid out around a central landscaped courtyard. The welcoming naturally- lit main entrance atrium is highlighted externally with metal sheet cladding and strong vertical fins to emphasise its location. The elevational design is of its time. Crisply detailed brickwork with a flat ‘green’ roof and a thin metal coping is the go-to solution for many buildings today, but the choice of a sympathetic red brick relates well to the historic ‘chateau’ block and also gives the new building an impression of solidity - the setting- back of the ground floor and the use of different cladding material there also helps. The blank screen wall to the right of the main entrance, with its alternate projecting brickwork, is particularly successful in enlivening what is a large expanse of brickwork, and the recessed detailing around the windows on the front elevation adds some subtlety to the coverall composition. Environmentally, the design meets the ‘excellent’ BREEAM 2014 standard.
From a user’s point of view, the new building appears to fulfil the design brief which required a flexible building with a modern fit-for-purpose clinical environment, a welcoming and therapeutic atmosphere for patients and easy navigation and intuitive way finding for all users. It was also designed to allow for the possibility of future extension. Designed by architects Murphy Philips and built by contractor Willmott Dixon under a Department of Health LIFT contract, this very welcome addition to local health services cost £17m.
Ian McInnes is chairman of the Twentieth Century Society and a retired architect.
The festival was back (live and in- person) for the first time in 3 years, with a new Festival Director (Annie Mitchell), taking over from Alpha Hopkins after 18 years in the role.
Annie was supported by a wonderful team including many festival team members who have participated in the past, as well as new team members including 2 x new Artist Open House Coordinators and 2 x Goose Green Fair Coordinators.
The festival ran from the 13 - 22 May, and included:
44 x ticketed events at venues across Dulwich Village, Herne Hill and West Dulwich.
- Popular events included the HandleBards picnic performance of Twelfth Night on the Jags playing fields, Clare Chambers talking about her book ‘Small Pleasures’ and the ever- popular Festival Ceilidh.
- Dulwich Society members also ran very popular events, including Brian Green’s talk Hell’s Bells - Dulwich Picture Gallery & WW2, and Ian McInnes’s Mid Century architecture walk, both sell- outs.
- This year saw the launch of the festival pop- up of festival clubs: A comedy club at the Crown and Greyhound, a jazz club at the East Dulwich Tavern and a wellness hub at Oru Space on Lordship Lane.
- The festival also included a ‘Family Day’ in the village, with many free and ticketed events for people of all ages. The Children’s Classical Concert and Family Magic show were very popular
Artists’ Open House
- 4 days of Artists Open House, including over 400 visual artists and 139 venues
- There were 17 different artforms including - Ceramics, Crafts, Design, Fine Art, Furniture, Glass, Illustration, Interiors, Jewellery, Performance, Photography, Prints, Recycling, Sculpture, Street Art, Textiles and Upcycling
- Bell House curated a wonderful show ‘Ways of Seeing Green’ hosting 30 artists
- Dulwich Prep London hosted the former international fashion designer turned sculptor Nicole Farhi
- Pawel Wasek was our front cover artist
7 x Free fairs/open days/family days
- This included Dulwich Park Fair, Goose Green Fair, West Dulwich Street Fair, South London Makers Festival, Dulwich Picture Gallery Open Day, London Wildlife trust Orchard Day and the Dulwich Festival’s first ever children’s art exhibition
- The Children’s Art exhibition was hosted generously by Belair House. 400 children from across the area submitted artworks to reflect the theme of ‘awakening’
- The fairs were all a big hit and provided wonderful FREE entertainment across the weekends.
3 x community engagement programmes, including an art competition, Flash Fiction and a Youth Musical Gala at Kingsdale School.
Audiences and involvement
The people of Dulwich came back in droves, with many events selling out well before the festival started. In terms of involvement, there were over 100 locals who were key contributors. The festival saw 3000 active participants in the form of performers, stall holders and artists. And over the 10 days, we saw an attendance of 50,000 people.
Huge congratulations and well done to everyone who was involved.
The festival was a wonderful success on all counts, and the team are now focussed on planning for the 2023 event, which will be the 30th anniversary.