As useful as a Chocolate Teapot!

Users of North Dulwich Station will be either amused or mystified to see that Railtrack have installed disability boarding ramps to assist wheelchair passengers alighting from trains at North Dulwich Station. The only obstacle which now confronts the disabled, (apart from giving 24 hours notice to travel), is how to get their wheelchairs up the 30 steps from the platform. Is it not about time that lifts were installed at North Dulwich, West Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Stations?

Dulwich Festival 9th-18th May

With Spring just around the corner, it isn't long before the Dulwich Festival bursts into life for another ten days of exciting arts events. Running from 9th-18th May, the 21st Dulwich Festival continues its tradition of drawing internationally acclaimed artists, musicians and authors together - alongside familiar faces in the local community - to celebrate the local area.

The Festival opens with a fascinating talk - Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body with Dr Adam Rutherford & Dr Kevin Fong - on Friday 9th May. Internationally acclaimed chamber musicians The Chilingirian Quartet promise to give a spell-binding performance on Wednesday 14th May at Christ's Chapel in association with the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

For those of you who remember The Tiger Who Came To Tea, the In Conversation With session with the popular book's author and illustrator Judith Kerr is a must. Judith will be speaking on Monday 12th May. In her 90th year, this remarkable woman has not only produced some of the best-known children's books, but also faced extraordinary challenges growing up as a child in Hitler's Germany. Hear all about her escape from Hitler - an experience which inspired another classic book When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, and her long and varied life since then. A fascinating evening!

2014 not only marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, but is also the 70th anniversary of the mass breakout from Stalag Luft III in March 1944, masterminded by Roger Bushell and immortalised in the Hollywood film The Great Escape. Hear a vivid account of the escape from Simon Pearson, Times journalist and author of the first biography of Roger Bushell on Tuesday 13th May.

The ever-popular Scratch Come & Sing event returns on Sunday 11th May at the Holst Hall, JAGS. Opportunities to explore the local area abound with the return of Artists' Open House showcasing the visual arts throughout hundreds of spaces in the area, as well as wonderful architectural, tree, history and street art walks planned across both weekends of the Festival. Follow Festival developments as they happen via our social media: www.dulwichfestival.co.uk / twitter.com/dulwichfestival / facebook.com/dulwichfestival

DULWICH SOCIETY FESTIVAL EVENTS

Sunday 11th May Dulwich Society Local History Walk led by Ian McInnes - 'Dulwich Village centre’ - The appearance of the centre of the Village is shortly to change with the proposed redevelopment of the S G Smith site. This walk will look at the history and development of the immediate area over the 100 plus years from 1850 to 1980. Meet on the corner of Turney Road and Dulwich Village opposite Dulwich Hamlet School. Walks at 2pm and 4pm. Suitable for wheelchair users

Tuesday 13th May Dulwich Society Trees Walk in Dulwich Park led by Letta Jones. Meet at the Court Lane entrance at 6pm

Sunday 18th May Dulwich Society Local History Walk led by Brian Green - An exploration of North Dulwich, its Georgian houses and its significance in the histories of World War 1 and World War 2 . Also visiting the sites of the Gaumont Film Studios and the World’s second largest telescope!. Meet at the Crown & Greyhound. Walks at 12noon and 2.30pm. Suitable for wheelchair users.

Inspired by the Subway

Next to the unmissable Crystal Palace transmitting station, hidden amongst the foliage lies a remnant from the heyday of the Crystal Palace. Underneath the main road, is a fan-vaulted pedestrian subway, built to link the High Level Rail Station to the famed Crystal Palace.

Closed formally since 1954, the Subway has continued to be used in many inspiring ways. In World War II it was an air-raid shelter, while in more recent years it was used in a Cadbury’s Wispa advert and featured in Chemical Brother’s Setting Sun music video.

Today the Friends of Crystal Palace Subway is working with local authorities to reopen the Subway and provide access to this unique piece of local heritage. As such, a Heritage Lottery funded project titled Inspired by the Subway was set up to work in conjunction with local volunteers and after-school childrens’ art groups to research, conduct oral histories and communicate the history of the Subway.
These findings and oral histories will be presented in an exhibition during Open House London on the 20th and 21st of September 2014.

Anyone wishing to share their memories or materials please contact Sue Giovanni at 07956 861052 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Living in one of Dulwich remaining Pre-Fabs

Peter Mendham has lived in one of Dulwich’s last pre-fabs since it was built at the end of World War 2. Peter’s family originally came from Swindon but during the war had lived with Peter’s grandparents in a tiny house in St George’s Way, Peckham. When Peter’s father was demobbed after the war the family were anxious for somewhere larger and jumped at the chance of moving into a prefab, one of four, built on the site of a bombed doctor’s surgery in Lordship Lane close to the junction with Townley Road.

The pre-fab offered central heating, a bathroom, a refrigerator and most luxurious of all, an indoor toilet, none of which was in the Peckham house. The rent was 7/- per week. Each pre-fab was sited in a good sized plot and many of the occupiers became keen gardeners. Peter Mendham is no exception and his garden (see photograph taken in November 2013) remains a superb example.

Camberwell Council erected 519 ‘prefabricated bungalows’ and the London County Council a further 611 in the borough (Dulwich, Camberwell and Peckham) to alleviate the chronic housing shortage caused by war damage. However, corrugated iron Nissen huts were probably included in this number. The history of prefabricated houses is a long one, but the design of many of those built after the end of the war were based on an American design and many were imported before manufacture in Britain got underway. It was originally estimated that they had a lifespan of 10 years. They have certainly lasted longer than that.

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