There are several matters of concern for Dulwich residents which appear to be taking on a greater significance. Interestingly, they are all inter-related. The first is the problem of finding a parking space close to one's own house. The second is anxiety over the possibility of subsidence of one's home. The third is the threat of flooding caused by occasional, but increasingly more frequent, storms.
As Dulwich and East Dulwich are largely Victorian and Edwardian suburbs, the streets are often narrow, built at a time when the passing of two horse drawn delivery carts, unimpeded by the parking of other vehicles alongside the curb determined a road's maximum width. Narrow roads allowed landowners to build more dwellings on a site. A growing number of residents, exasperated over damage to their parked cars on Dulwich's now congested streets have resorted to turning their front gardens into a parking space. Those residents living in houses with either a narrow frontage, often coupled with a very short front garden cannot avail themselves of this solution.
Many front garden conversions are a great success, both aesthetically and ecologically. Others are not only a complete eyesore with every vestige of plant life eliminated, but they visually impair the appearance of the street itself. Such - treatment also has implications for neighbours. Property values are usually determined by location. If the location assumes an aesthetically poor appearance then inevitably property prices in that location will not be as high as a location where the aesthetics are good. One only has to look at the Bellenden Area Renewal Scheme to note the success the restoration of front garden walls and the replacement of railings and gates has made not only to the appearance of the area, but also to improvements in social behaviour and steeply rising property values.
Other problems are created for everybody by poorly thought-out conversions of front gardens into parking spaces. The first problem may arise for the actual house owner himself. All Dulwich houses are built on very deep clay which is susceptible to shrinkage and expansion depending on rainfall. Most Dulwich houses are built on a very shallow concrete raft of foundations which will be affected by the movement of the clay which might in some cases lead to subsidence. By fully paving front gardens, and by turning rear gardens into apparently labour saving paved areas, house owners are diverting the rainfall away from their houses and thus depriving the clay beneath of the water it requires to remain stable.
Not only that, but rainwater is carried away from the property altogether adding pressure on already possibly inadequate storm drains and thus creating the danger of flooding in some areas. Elsewhere in this issue of the Newsletter the issues are addressed in greater detail. It may well be that locally a code of practice should be drawn up or improved guide lines issued for hard-standings within Conservation Areas and the Dulwich Scheme of Management Area.
As the Newsletter was about to go to the printers, the Royal Horticultural Society published a report of its concern over the national loss of front gardens. It noted that 14% of London house-owners had paved over their front gardens.
A fortuitous chain of events has led to the discovery and proposed restoration of the actual handcart used by the Post Office in Dulwich Village in 1883 to deliver parcels. The first Dulwich Society members to alert the Executive Committee to the cart's whereabouts were Kenneth and Gillian Wolfe, who saw it being used as an advertisement for an antique shop near Tower Bridge. Other members later saw it and the Society decided to pursue the matter.
Patrick Spencer and Brian Green duly went to the antique shop and negotiated the purchase, having first secured the permission of Mr Patel, the Postmaster at the present Dulwich Village Post Office to allow the Dulwich Society to install the cart beneath his shop's canopy. Mr Patel also obtained the ready agreement of the Dulwich Estate to placing of the cart there. The sum paid by the Society was around £750.
Following the purchase, a visit was made to the Royal Mail archives at Mount Pleasant. It was discovered that in Liverpool in 1883, representation was made by postmen that the load they were carrying on the six daily deliveries was often too heavy and the Post Master of Liverpool sought permission to obtain handcarts for delivering parcels. The GPO parcels office in London took up the matter on a national basis and submitted a request for an order of carts for all its districts to the Treasury. This was accepted and all the national postal districts were requested to obtain tenders from local coachbuilders for manufacture. The estimates varied over the country but in November 1883 the Treasury instructed the GPO to place orders in their districts for a total of 1079 handcarts at a total cost of agreed expenditure of £8610. It is hoped that further research will reveal which London based company built the Dulwich Village handcart.
According to the antique shop, the Dulwich Village cart came to them from Liverpool. What its history is after if was replaced by the GPO with a nationally standardised cart built with a wicker top in 1915 is not known. This rare or possibly unique cart has therefore returned to its place of origin after an odyssey of some 123 years. Miraculously it still retains all its original fittings; a metal rack on the roof, an inner shelf, the original waterproofed roof cover, a removable sliding tray beneath and a hinged flap.
The cart is in great need of restoration and Dulwich Society member Willis Walker, an experienced restorer has agreed to head a team to this end. Graham Nash is assisting Willis in this project. Ian Bristow, an expert on paint finishes will advise on the original colour scheme and materials.
Willis writes "The first step is to find out as much as we can about its original design and appearance, and the materials used in its construction. More easily said than done! The paintwork is in very poor condition, and only one panel contains much detail. The present intention is to conserve this panel and not restore it. Volunteers are needed to assist with the project and a number of specialist skills are required. In particular we need a wheelwright, someone with metal working skills and equipment, a sign writer and someone to design the painted decoration using whatever information we gather." Willis may be contacted at: Tel. 020 7274 3276.
Trees and Subsidence
The relation between trees and subsidence is a very live issue in Dulwich. As we all know, Dulwich is built on heavy clay which expands in wet weather and shrinks in dry. As a result, many houses suffer subsidence to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of whether or not there are trees in the vicinity. Unfortunately, many insurance companies insist on any tree, or even bushes, anywhere near being removed. No doubt trees do, in some cases, contribute towards subsidence. But the main cause, in Dulwich, is the clay soil. Many of the older houses have shallow foundations and the remedy is often underpinning - which makes the removal of trees unnecessary.
There is a very acute example of this problem at present in Court Lane Gardens, where the loss adjusters are demanding the felling of three fine old oak trees in the little woodland in front of the houses. The Estate is in a difficult position because it can be sued if it refuses and if damage can be attributed to the trees. It is a problem, too, for the owners of the house. The Estate is as anxious as anyone to avoid felling any of the trees and so are the residents of Court Lane Gardens.
The oaks are older than the houses and appear on a Metropolitan Board of Works map dated 1885, discovered by Liz Johnson (of the Society's History Group), author of the new book on Dulwich Park. At least one of the houses there has had to be underpinned, with no trees being removed.
The Trees Committee are, of course, opposed to the felling. At our request, Southwark Council are putting Tree Preservation Orders on them. This means that the trees are protected for six months, during which the matter can be disputed, but at the end of that period, the protection orders will become permanent.
I hope that by the time this newsletter comes out, we shall know that these splendid oaks have been saved.
Stella Benwell, Chair, Trees Committee
The subject of the rapid increase in the number of hard standings came up at the December Community Council meeting, particularly over concerns that this might impact upon flooding in the area. The Society has asked the Estate to consider modifying their guidelines to either require the use of gravel or to make sure on-site drainage is installed where bricks or blocks are used.
Mobile Telephone Masts
Southwark have continued their policy of rejecting planning applications for masts in conservation areas, the latest one to be turned down was on the north eastern corner of Dulwich Common and College Road. There are, however, currently two other applications, one by Vodafone on the pavement opposite Rosebury lodge on Dulwich Common and one by Orange on the corner of Acacia Grove and Alleyn Park. This is not the first time that masts have been proposed on both these sites. T Mobile is also appealing against Lambeth's refusal for a mast at the junction of Lovelace Road and Rosendale Road.
There is still no resolution to residents' concerns over the proposed mast in the Pelo sports ground. The Society knows that other options were being considered and still awaits alternative proposals on suitable sites which do not impact on schools and homes.
Herne Hill Velodrome
The Society has not been advised of any further proposals for the Velodrome although it understands that the Estate is continuing negotiations with Citygrove Estates. One step forward is that local residents associations have finally been contacted by the Velo Club de Londrés, the current site manager, to initiate a discussion on their proposed development plan for cycling.
Among the schemes they wish to carry out over the next year are an expansion of the cyclo-cross circuit, mend the track fence, introduce cycle-polo in the centre of the track and treat the track surface to resist algae attack. Longer term thoughts include a BMX track, a cycle speedway track and track lighting - a controversial proposal bearing in mind the recent history of similar proposals by Southwark.
Solar water heating
There have been a number of applications to install solar water heating panels although one might question their effectiveness in our climate and whether the energy saved will ever equal the amount of energy used in their manufacture. Notwithstanding this the Estate are drafting guidelines to control their locations as the panels are not particularly attractive. At the very least they should be restricted to rear elevations only, ideally at low level, so that they are not visible from other gardens or Dulwich's many sports fields.
There are rumours that the Dulwich Cricket Club is thinking of constructing covered indoor cricket nets on Metropolitan Open Land. The Southwark Unitary Development Plan has a presumption against any development in Metropolitan Open Land and the Society will look at any application very closely.
The College has submitted a revised proposal to redevelop the old swimming pool site in the centre of the College. The Society is supportive of the principle of providing additional facilities but considers that the proposed elevational treatment is not of a high enough standard for such an important and visible site.
The School appealed against the refusal of planning permission for the new theatre building against officer advice. The enquiry has taken place but the result has yet to be announced.
Kingswood School have now received planning permission for the new sports hall and music school and are currently applying to re-clad the main building. They have consulted extensively with local residents and the preferred scheme replaces the existing blue spandrel panels with polished stainless steel. Sample panels are on the building.
Kingswood Nursery School
The Kingswood Nursery School in Lyall Avenue originally built in 1954 is to be replaced. The new design is much larger and two stories high.
Former Car Showroom and Garage, Alleyn Park
Majestic Wine has submitted a planning application for this site. There will be only minor changes to the main building and on site car parking will be provided so as not to impact upon the surrounding roads.
Sir Ernest Shackleton Public House
A planning application to demolish this still functioning pub on the Kingswood Estate and replace it with a block of flats was rejected by Southwark Councillors who overruled the planning officer's recommendation for approval. A revised application for a smaller number of flats has now been made and the Society will seek the views of local residents who previously objected both to the loss of the pub and the size of the new development.
Red Post Hill
There is still no progress on the falling boundary wall of the Grade II listed house, Lyndenhurst, at the corner of Red Post Hill and Village Way. Both Southwark Council and the Estate have turned down a proposal to form a much larger opening in the wall and the Society remains concerned whether a satisfactory solution will be found in the short term. The Dulwich Estate has already served a Breach Notice to the owner of the land requiring action be taken to repair the wall. Southwark Council also served notice to rebuild the wall and a Dangerous Structure Notice was served. As no action was taken Southwark Council authorised a contractor to take down a dangerous section of the wall.
Mile Stone, Red Post Hill
The Estate have confirmed that they have instructed the house behind the Grade II listed mile stone in Red Post Hill to rebuild the part of the garden wall that was recently demolished without Estate consent.
Flower and Fish Stall in Croxted Road
The Dulwich Society asked the Dulwich Estate for its view on the situation in Croxted Road where flower and fish stalls use the area in front of The Dulwich Trader as a sales pitch on a Sunday. The Estate replied that it had approached the flower seller with a request that he formalise his use of the site and this he has agreed to do. There has been no contact with the fishmonger. In view of the fact that no complaints have been received from either the Estate's commercial tenants or members of the public, the Estate is not averse to this kind of activity but it welcomes the views of The Dulwich Society.
The Dulwich Society asked the Dulwich Estate to clarify its arrangements for maintenance, management and monitoring of Dulwich Woods as fallen trees were not being cut and removed even when they appear to be a significant hazard to walkers. The Estate replied that the Woods are inspected on a regular basis by the contractors (Emery Facilities & Property Maintenance Contractors Ltd). The policy is to maintain the woods in their natural state and to allow fallen trees to rot down. Footpaths are kept clear of fallen trees and branches but there will inevitably be times between visits by contractors when there might be trip hazards to walkers.
Proposed CPZ Extension for Herne Hill
In January the Dulwich Community Council heard submissions from residents regarding the existing Controlled Parking Zone operating in the Herne Hill Area. It was recommended that the Zone be extended to include Carver Road, Ruskin Walk, Warmington Road and Hollingbourne Road for a six month trial period and to operate between the hours of 12 noon - 2pm.
One Way Streets
The residents of Ruskin Walk submitted a second request to the January Dulwich Community Council meeting that the road should be one-way only because of its narrow width, the damage to cars experienced by residents from passing traffic and the impossibility of converting front gardens to hard standing because of the narrow frontages and short front gardens. This request was rejected in view of including the road in the proposed CPZ extension trial period. On the face of it, making Ruskin Walk a one-way road seems a sensible idea. There are also arguments for making similar arrangements for neighbouring Hollingbourne Road but one way in the other direction.
Similar congestion problems are faced by a number of other narrow Dulwich and East Dulwich Roads and a one-way system would ease the problem. Particularly difficult passing places occur in Aysgarth Road, Pickwick Road and Boxall Road which could be solved by such an arrangement. Similarly Dekker, Druce and Desenfans Roads might be considered. One of the most difficult roads to negotiate, and one which receives considerable traffic is Dovercourt Road. A one-way scheme in conjunction with Beauval Road might be the solution.
The new government licensing laws, allowing sports clubs as well as public houses, bars and other licensed premises to remain open for longer hours has caused an unexpected problem in opposing such application. The new regulations require the applicant to display a notice of intention to extend opening hours and it is the public's responsibility to see such applications and respond to them within a very limited period. When such applications are made by sports clubs for extensions in their bar opening times until 1pm, such notices are not easily spotted. Such extensions might cause considerable inconvenience because of noise, to those residents who back on to sports club premises. The Dulwich Society is drawing up a Code of Practice for such applications for submission to the Community Council.
A vision and a mission and a CBE
Gillian Wolfe, local resident and Head of Education at Dulwich Picture Gallery, received the honour of CBE from the Queen in November. Over the past 20 years Gillian has been implementing innovatory ideas long before they were preoccupations of the government, and has put Dulwich firmly on the gold standard for education map. Currently some 30,000 people a year enjoy education classes at the Gallery.
Daily activities include schools programmes, adult courses, art science, storytelling, after school art courses, evening classes, Saturday classes and family days, all making our natural treasures relevant for everyone. And it doesn't all happen in the Gallery environment. Outreach projects have included Wandsworth Prison, a hospice, a remand home for young offenders, and many others around South London. The reopening of the Gallery in 2000 saw a new interest in architecture. Gillian devised courses to give an understanding of materials, processes, design and building. The new fortnightly Contextual Lecture Series was massively over-subscribed. The Education Department at Dulwich has won 20 national and international awards for excellence.
Youth initiative in Dulwich Extended
For just over three years Redthread (an Anglican Youth Project) has been running a coffee shop Ithe Third Place) at St. Barnabas Parish Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons for secondary school children from local schools - on average 60 children attend each week. The vision for the coffee shop grew out of a desire to give young people their own safe place between school and home and to provide a positive environment for them to enjoy.
Starting in January, in conjunction with clinical support from Paxton Green Group Practice and local school nurses and counsellors from Alleyn's, The Charter School, Dulwich College, JAGS, Kingsdale and Sydenham High School, the Third Place will extend to Mondays as well with the Monday Health Club. The aim of the Youth Health Café, supported by the relationships and trust engendered by the Tuesday and Wednesday cafes is to provide an environment where teenagers can talk to nurses, counsellors and youth workers about a range of health or emotional issues.
Bridget Jones's diary date
Renee Zellweger, star of the two Bridget Jones movies, visited the Dulwich Picture Gallery's Beatrix Potter Exhibition before Christmas. She was doing some research for her role in the forthcoming biopic which is about to be filmed in the Lake District. In January, her co-star in the film, Ewan Mcgregor also came to see the exhibition. He plays Norman Warne, doomed fiancé to Renee's Beatrix in Miss Potter. The Gallery presented Ewan McGregor with a Peter Rabbitt notebook bearing the apt slogan 'You may go into the field or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden'!
West Dulwich Station
Users of West Dulwich Station have long been depressed by the uncared for approaches. Now, however, work has started on the 'Down' slope, by a team of young people who have been given 'unpaid work' as part of their sentence for relatively minor offences by the local courts. They are working under the Youth Offending Team under the Community Reparations & Connexions Services of Southwark. The Work Manager fortunately has had experience both at Kew and the Chelsea Physic Garden, and hopes to clear the site of rubbish, brambles and ivy to produce Ordered Beds, showing Native plants in order of flowering etc. (a Magnolia was mentioned but presumably that is now a Registered Alien). Ivy will be removed from trees, but left on two dead trunks where it will encourage butterflies.
The work is being offered as an alternative to the usual car mending and maintenance, hoping it might lead to an interest for a few offenders in tree work, or horticultural studies.
The Society is sorry to record the deaths of two well-known Dulwich people. The Revd. Donald Strudwick, formerly vicar of St Clement's Church, Friern Road and a founder member of the Friends of Dulwich Hospital died in October at his home in Yalding at the age of 96. 'Struddie' is a fondly remembered figure around Dulwich, where he also served as Chaplain to Dulwich Hospital, invariably wearing his cassock, beneath which in hot weather he sported khaki shorts and a pair of sandals! He spent many happy years in retirement assisting in his local parish church and of course 'messing about ' in his beloved boat.
Joyce Milne, a long-standing member of the Dulwich Society died in January.
In January the toll charge for driving a car along College Road doubled from 50p to £1. We asked the Dulwich Estate for an explanation for this increase.
The Estate says that the tollbooth and equipment had been installed in 1993. This in turn had replaced the original Tollgate which had been in operation since 1789. The equipment had become (as was apparent to most users) redundant and beyond repair. The tollgate cards had to be inserted into card readers and this was a very laborious process; the coin machines were also slow to raise the barrier.
The new equipment is designed to be more user-friendly and to operate more efficiently, avoiding the queues at the Tollgate. Those with tags (see below) will enjoy a much speedier passage through the barriers. The operation of the Tollgate is now recorded on CCTV and this is to enhance safety of those using the Tollgate and the Tollgate keepers. The main purpose of the Tollgate is to restrict the volume of traffic using the Estate's private section of College Road. It is generally accepted that residents living within the vicinity welcome this. The Estate did investigate the possibility of charging motorcyclists but this proved unfeasible.
After a few initial teething troubles (including a barrier arm being knocked off by a driver of an unlicensed 'disabled' buggy, whose driver promptly leapt off the machine to inspect the damage done!), the Estate is pleased with the performance of the new equipment. The final phase of the physical works will be to improve the access for cyclists travelling north through the Tollgate.
For non-pass holders the new standard toll is £1 per single journey through the tollgate. The toll has been fixed at 50p since 1993 and the new charge reflects inflation as well as a contribution towards the capital costs of the new equipment.
The old equipment did not provide change. The new coin/note machines will give change from £2 coins and £5 and £10 notes only. Other coins or notes are not accepted. The Tollgate keeper will no longer provide change. Tags replace the old tollgate card and store a number of pre-paid units. The tag is placed in front of the windscreen and is read as the vehicle approaches the tollgate by a infrared sensor which will then lift the barrier.
Tags are available from the Dulwich Estate in pre-paid units in multiples of 100. Each unit is worth a single journey. A concessionary rate of 25% discount is offered to Dulwich freeholders subject to the Scheme of Management, a leaseholder of property owned by the Dulwich Estate, a tenant of freehold property owned by the Dulwich Estate. A lower concessionary rate of 15% discount is offered to others, on or off the Estate.
When the turnpike trusts of the 17th & 18th centuries opened up the roads out of London, the tolls produced went to the profit of the individual companies operating the trusts, after deducting expenses for the payment of keepers and the maintenance of tollgates and keepers' cottages and the surface of the road. The Dulwich Estate is interpreting the income from the Tollgate (after deducting operating costs and depreciation) as general income to its beneficiaries. Therefore the maintenance of the road surface, according to the statement the Estate has issued, has to be borne by those freeholders whose properties front onto College Road.
By the time this report is read it should by spring but most of its content will relate to the winter which appears now to be distinguished by bleak and gloomy weather. However there have been some unusual records. The first was a Woodcock that visited the garden of the Hole family in Rouse Gardens off Alleyn Park in late November. Woodcocks are not usually garden birds but migrate into woodland at about this time where they remain concealed by superb camouflage unless flushed by a dog (as was reported two years ago in Dulwich Woods). The second and even more spectacular record was a Waxwing which was observed in a garden in Rosendale Road in December. Unfortunately it did not stay long enough to attract Dulwich twitchers but it is indeed one of the ornithological gems for those lucky enough to see it. December is the best month to see them as they migrate then from Scandinavia in search of berries. The Hawthorn berry crop was less prolific this year but there was a huge crop of Pyracantha and Cotoneaster in our gardens and as a result the wintering Redwings visited gardens earlier than usual to clear the crop instead of their usual Hawthorn. The Waxwing may well have been part of this influx. It was reported that even Christmas Holly had been denuded of berries in advance of the festivities.
Following my last report that mentioned the penchant of Green Woodpeckers for lawn ants, Paul Bond, a keen beekeeper, reported that they have been raiding and puncturing his hives for bees which were in need of special fortification - a hazard of which I was not previously aware. And yet another hazard is coming our way in the form of an invasion of the much feared Harlequin Ladybird from Asia. These have already been found by Pat Reynolds in Great Spilmans. They are larger than our native ladybirds with more spots and white oval marks on each side of the thorax. They are though to treat their smaller relatives as food in preference to aphids and could therefore damage our native populations of seven and two spot ladybirds. They are also reported to hibernate indoors on curtains and other fabrics, on which they leave a nasty mess. Whereas Paul can fortify his hives there is unfortunately very little we can do to protect our beleaguered little beetles from these marauding cannibals. Not welcome visitors at all.
On a happier note, Frank Greenaway, our Bat Consultant, has done a comprehensive survey of the disused railway tunnel in Dulwich Woods and reports the presence of five and probably six species of Bat. As a result of this he has made some useful recommendations of tunnel improvements to benefit these little animals. The bats that were identified were the Common and Soprano Pipistrelle, the Noctule, Daubenton's Bat and the Brown Long-eared Bat. The probable additional species was the Natterer's Bat. Both this and the Long-eared bat are new records for us, and that we have such a variety of wild nightlife will indeed be a revelation to most of us! Do keep feeding me with your records and observations as they are the stuff of this column.
Wildlife Recorder (020 7274 4567)
September and October were the warmest such pair of months since recordings began more than three centuries ago. The first half of November was abnormally warm too, and even then the days were sunny. The lateness of autumn colour and the tardiness of the leaf fall were the result of this warmth, the sunshine and the absence of wind during this time.
So this unusual autumn gave us sight of some of Dulwich's 'Remarkable Trees '. Even in the middle of December, the rare Hop-Hornbeam in the Old Burial Ground in the Village stood still with the palest green, almost transparent small pointed leaves just tipping the fine dark branches. There was a young Sycamore, not usually considered a beautiful tree, in front of the College; perfect glowing golden ochre, caught by a low winter sun. In the middle of a field in Belair, an oak stood drowning in its weight of dark russet leaves, waiting for leaf fall and the first sign of winter.
New nature reserve in Dulwich Park
Dulwich Park has acquired a new nature reserve - although it's not one that has been officially announced or, as yet, achieved any bureaucratic designation. But with the co-operation of Dulwich gardeners - particularly those backing on to the park - it could get much bigger and better.
Last year, for possibly the first time on record, most of the perimeter of the park was left unmown and uncut. One result was a surge in butterfly numbers - around 16 species were recorded. Another was the creation of a more naturalistic "woodland walk", a major gain for those who appreciate a sense of the countryside in cities. The effect has been reinforced by the decision, after pressure from the Dulwich Society and the Friends of Dulwich Park, not to remove leaves from the perimeter over the winter: leaf litter is a valuable habitat and food source for many species of bird, insect and small mammals.
Elsewhere in the park, currently emerging from its year-long trial by heritage, there have been gains and losses. Southwark, which by now [March] is due to have formulated its biodiversity strategy, has proposed a summer wildflower meadow - the likely site is the corner of the park between Fireman's Alley and the Rosebery gate, south-east of the American Garden. A similar proposal was put forward several years ago by the Friends, who have welcomed the idea.
A new wildflower meadow will also form part of the expanded ecology area, known as the squirrel enclosure, behind the café. However, the enclosure is now to have a path through it, albeit with a gate at each end, and will be surrounded by an estate rail. This consists of horizontal rails with big gaps between them. The enclosure will thus be far easier to get inside and will experience much more human presence, potentially bad news for its ecology.
The old ecology area, readers may remember, had an upright chestnut paling fence. Why weren't vertical railings used for the heritage lottery scheme - as they have been in the HLF scheme at Peckham Rye Park? Because the enclosure is said to have had an estate rail when the park was opened and because vertical railings would have looked "municipal." As with much of the HLF's park work around the country, many will think, heritage appears to have triumphed over common sense.
David Nicholson-Lord, Wildlife Committee
At the time of going to press [January], plans were storming ahead for the 2006 Dulwich Festival. This year it will run from 12-21 May and will feature many of the popular walks and talks, new initiatives as well as projects developed from previous years.
The Festival will again kick off with last year's well-received debate. This year's theme for discussion will be 'Stop Climate Chaos: We Can Make a Difference' and will have Leo Hickman, Guardian journalist and author of A Life Stripped Bear and A Good Life: The Guide to Ethical Living speaking alongside other debaters.
Local resident, Jo Brand, will give readings from her new book It's Different for Girls at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. BBC journalist, Emily Buchanan, will talk about her struggle to adopt two girls from China which she has written about in From China with Love. Agony aunt, Virginia Ironside, and award-winning biographer, Tim Jeal, will share a platform to discuss books they have written about their idiosyncratic parents.
The Artists' Open Studios weekend, a new venture in last year's Festival, will be expanded for 2006 and involve more artists in the area. The Artists' Open Studios Weekend will coincide with a new venture: the Festival Market. The organisers hope to close North Cross Road and the Market will bring together a selection of the best craftspeople, designers, independent shops, bars and cafes from the vibrant and creative East Dulwich area.
Over in Sydenham Hill Wood, encouraged by the reactions to last year's Art of Permanence and Change, the woods will be hosting more artistic adventures with an exhibition entitled Eco-vandalism.
Dulwich Society's Brian Green and Ian McInnes, as well as speakers from other local interest groups, have been booked to lead fascinating talks and walks on various aspects of Dulwich history and wildlife.
In response to past Festival visitors' ideas for future events, singers of all talents will be invited to take part in a scratch Handel's Messiah. Another musical highlight will be the Dante Quartet who have agreed to perform a concert at St Barnabas Church.
During the Festival, children can tackle drumming, circus skills, acting, literature, poetry and art workshops. Children from local schools will join together to repeat one of the Festival's musical highlights, the Grand Youth Gala concert. Younger children can end the Festival week by bringing their teddy bears to the traditional Teddy Bears' Picnic held in Dulwich Park.
If anyone was inspired by Strictly Come Dancing to put on their dancing shoes, the Festival will be calling dancers of all abilities to try an evening of ceroc (similar to rock and roll). These skills can then be used again at the Festival's grand finale at Beauberry House: Shakin' the Blues Away. Following the sell-out success of last year's 1920s, '30s and '40s Beauberry House event, Blue Harlem will be coming back to give a musical evening with a '40s and '50s twist.
Can you help?
Printed programmes will be delivered by volunteers during April to as many households in the area as the Festival organisers can reach. If you are able to help deliver programmes or steward events, please call 020 8299 1011 or email on
Thursday 9th Dulwich Picture Gallery Lunchtime Lecture Series - Winslow Homer's English Sojourn. Linbury Room 12.30 - 1.30pm
At 7.30pm Dulwich Picture Gallery. Lecture: The Americans in Paris by Kathleen Adler, Curator of National Gallery's Exhibition Americans in Paris. Linbury Room, Dulwich Picture Gallery. Tickets £8 ( incl. glass of wine) from the Gallery.
At 8pm Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - Edward Lear: Landscape Painter and Poet by Desmond Moriarty. James Allen's Girls' School Lecture Hall
Saturday 11th The Ionian Singers - Concert (In aid of Save the Children). Music by Brahms, Bruckner, Verdi, Rossini and Mendelssohn. St. Stephen's Church, College Road, at 7.30pm. Tickets £12 (£10 concs, £5 students) at the door or from tel. 020 7733 6719
Wednesday 15th Dulwich Subscription Concert Lauren Weavers, Zephyr Wind Quintet. The Old Library, Dulwich College. Tickets £15 (£10 concs) from Sabrina Faulkner (020 8761 6659)
Saturday 18th Two's Company Production - Forgotten Voices of World War I - Handmaidens of Death. World War I play preceded by a reading of war poems. Directed by Tricia Thorns. St Barnabas Parish Hall, Dulwich Village. At 4.30pm and 8.30pm.Tickets £10 (concs £6) from The Art Stationers Dulwich Village. Unsuitable for children
Wednesday 22nd 7.30pm Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery. Concert - The Doric String Quartet. 7.30pm in the Gallery. Tickets £15 incl. glass of wine. Tickets from the Friends Desk, Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Thursday 23rd THE DULWICH SOCIETY ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING at 7.45pm at the St. Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue SE 21. Followed by a talk by Louise Simson, Sculptor of the Edward Alleyn Statue.
Thursday 6th Dulwich Society Garden Group Lecture - Plant Hunting and Planting by Tom Hart Dyke who is an enthusiastic botanist, lover of plants and hunter of rare plants and orchids. 7.45pm for 8.00pmat the St. Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue. Admission free.
Thursday 13th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture - Ideal Villages? Milton Abbas to Poundbury by Mervyn Miller. 8pm at James Allen's Girls' School Lecture Hall.
Thursday 4th Dog & Hat Film Society - Animation Night featuring local film makers, including work by Dulwich Hamlet School pupils.7.30pm upstairs at The Crown & Greyhound, Dulwich Village. Entrance £3 (concs £2)
Friday 12th Dulwich Festival opens.
Tuesday 16th 7.30pm Dulwich Subscription Concert. The Alexander Piano Quartet. Peter Graham - violin, Miriam Eisele - viola, Anna Mowat - cello, David Alexander - piano. The Old Library, Dulwich College. Tickets 315 (£10 concs) from Sabrina Faulkner (020 8761 6659)
Saturday 20th, Dulwich Society Trees Walk, Gallery Garden and College Road, led by Letta Jones, Horticultural Lecturer. Meet 2pm at Gallery Garden entrance in College Road. Part of Dulwich Festival. £3 charge.
Sunday 21st Dulwich Society Local History Walk - Wells, Romans, Telegraphs and TV led by Brian Green. Hilly walk, difficult for wheelchairs users. Part of the Dulwich Festival. Meet at bottom of Cox's Walk in front of The Harvester (corner of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane) 2pm. £3 charge.
Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibition - Winslow Homer : Poet of the Sea closes.
Wednesday 7th Dulwich Picture Gallery Exhibition - Rembrandt & Co: Dealing Masterpieces opens
Tuesday 20th Dulwich Society Garden Group. Full day visit to the 'Beth Chatto Gardens' and 'Olivers'. Price £25 includes admission to both gardens. Reservations to Ina Pulleine, 1 Perifield, SE21 8NG. Telephone 8670 5477 (after 11.00am)
Wednesday 21st Dulwich Society Local History Walk - Walk for a summer's Evening - Exploring Dulwich's open spaces. Led by Brian Green. Meet 7.30pm North Dulwich Station.
Wednesday 21st at 8pm, Friday 23rdat 8pm, Saturday 24th at 5.30pm and 8pm, Sunday 25th at 5.30pm -
The Dulwich Players present The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Dulwich Picture Gallery Garden. Tickets on sale from April, from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
The Dulwich Society Annual General Meeting
Thursday 23 March 2006 at 7.45pm at St.Barnabas Church Centre, Calton Avenue SE 21.
After the formal business of receiving Reports and Accounts for 2005 and Elections of Officers and members of the Executive Committee there will be a talk given by Louise Simson, sculptor of the Edward Alleyn Statue, on her research and preparation which went into the creation of the maquette and the subsequent life-size scaling up of the statue.
Formal Notice of the AGM was given in the winter edition of the Newsletter. Reports from the Officers and Chairmen of the sub-Committees are available on our website (www.dulwichsociety.org.uk) or from the Hon. Secretary: Patrick Spencer, 7 Pond Cottages, SE 21 7LE . Tel: 020 8693 2043
The future of the National Recreation Centre in Crystal Palace Park has recently been the subject of an extensive public consultation exercise. The Greater London Authority (GLA), the current landlords of the site are keen to see it demolished and replaced with a new facility located closer to the station. The results of the survey suggest that most local residents are in agreement, but this may be partly a reflection on the way the survey was presented - this extolled the perceived virtues of a new building and went into great detail on the faults of the existing one.
Love it or hate it, the National Recreation Centre is one of the most important sports buildings of the immediate post-war era and is a grade II* listed building, it is not something that can be demolished overnight. Only recently Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, refused to allow the demolition of the Commonwealth Institute, a Grade 1 listed building of the same period, which has lain empty for many years. The NRC is of course still heavily used.
Before we accept the National Recreation Centre's demolition we need to remember that attitudes to buildings change over time (and public consultation is not always the best guide to architectural quality) - after all it was only fifty years ago that Victorian buildings were considered to be beyond the pale. The NRC was designed and built at a time when national government was prepared to invest in good quality public architecture. It follows on from the Festival of Britain with the LCC Architects' Department starting to draw up the plans early in 1954. At this time sport was thought to be an appropriate public use for Crystal Palace Park, largely derelict after the destruction by fire of the original exhibition hall in 1936, and one that would restore its popularity. The whole complex took nearly ten years to build and was finally opened in 1964.
The building was very popular when it opened, offering a level of facilities not seen in England before. The design epitomized the enthusiasm of the 1950s, looking forward to an optimistic future when socialist ideals of equality of opportunity were still an important driver in architectural thought. The building itself sits comfortably in the landscape but its architecture is by no means modest, housing a 50 metre pool, and different ball game spaces, all under one roof. The concrete frame structure is remarkable for its architectural qualities and it has generously glazed facades. Its most notable feature is the central walkway, a space of interaction between the different sports; the swimmers just need to cross the main aisle of the building to watch a football game, and the ball teams can easily jump into the pool for a few refreshing lanes.
Unfortunately the building has not been maintained by either of its more recent owners, the GLC or Bromley Council, who have let both the structure and services deteriorate. There are monstrous fences surrounding most of the building and the grand main entrance is blocked - visitors having to sneak into the building via the poorly refurbished athletes' entrance in the basement.
The building needs cleaning, repair and refurbishment. Acceptable environmental conditions for sport have changed since the 1950s, one cannot expect a 40 year old building to provide these conditions without upgrading. There are some problems but they could be resolved if the desire was there. It is environmental vandalism to demolish such a fine building especially where there is no guarantee that its replacement would be of the same quality or even be built, dependant as it is on selling parts of the park for residential development to fund it. The danger is that local residents could end up with nothing.
It became obvious during last summer that the national press had noticed croquet. Most of the erstwhile broadsheets had quite long articles and covered the championship at Cheltenham with varying degrees of detail and enthusiasm. We in Dulwich are so fortunate that there is a large amount of green space around us and a great deal of it is for us to use; and some of that by croquet clubs. Two lawns to be precise. We can, by traveling a few minutes, not have to go to The All England Club at Wimbledon, or the Cheltenham or even Melbourne, Australia, where a 2006 championship will be held, to play Association or Golf croquet.
Both types are embraced by the national Croquet Association and the rules for both are available on the internet. And both are available to Dulwich residents. Association rules mean that any player successful with a shot is able to continue a run of successful shots and entertain his fellow players while they stand and watch. Later it will be their turn. Golf croquet, my own preferred option, is, to quote the web site, more interactive; I tend to use the word 'sociable'. Four players proceed around hoops, taking it in turns to make a shot. Again, to quote the web site, it probably requires greater accuracy and tactical awareness to play golf croquet - as well as providing more sociability.
To find out more, contact the Dulwich Sports Club Ltd., (020 7274 1242) for Association Croquet or the Old College Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for Golf Croquet (Pam Le Gassick 020 8766 7015)