On The Street Where You Live - Dulwich Village by Ian McInnes

The St Barnabas Literary and Social Society

On Tuesday, 19th March 1912 the St Barnabas Literary and Social Society proposed to hold a kinematographic lecture delivered by a Mr Richard Kearton. Frank Godden, the secretary of the Society, who lived at 3 Elmwood Road, wrote to the Clerk to the London County Council on 14th March noting that 'The lecture agency of the Outer Temple is supplying the lantern and cage and I am advised that non-flammable films are being used. I am also advised by the regulations governing these entertainments that notice should be sent to you. Your inspector can examine the apparatus any time after 7.30 pm on the evening intended'. It is a reflection both on the efficiency of the Clerk's office and the quality of the postal service at the time that the LCC were able to reply within three days confirming that they had no objection.

In the early days of film, when the projector was located in open halls, there had been a series of major fires caused by the flammable film stock in use at the time and several lives had been lost. The LCC had introduced strict regulations for premises where films were to be shown, even only occasionally, and, unfortunately for Mr Godden, an LCC Inspector decided to attend the show. He found that the films were not non-flammable and the LCC Clerk wrote to him on the 12th April setting out the Council's requirements if films were ever shown at the Hall again.

1. The cinematograph lantern should be placed in a smoke tight non-flammable enclosure of adequate dimension in the room at the rear of the stage and the picture projected onto the back of a transparent screen fixed in line with the front of the stage.

2. The gates in the railings next the High Street and Elms Road should be locked back during the display.

3. The two outer doors between the vestibule and the open yard next the High street which open inwards only should be removed during the display.

4. The mortice lock and barrel bolts on the exit doors to the High Street should be rendered inoperative during the display.

5. The chairs forming the seating should be battened in sections of not less than four and set out with side and intersecting gangways each of a minimum of 3ft 6in and the rows of seats should be arranged as to have always a depth of not less than 12in measured between the perpendiculars.

6. The exits to the High Street and Elms Road should be indicated by means of notices in 7in letters illuminated by colloza oil or candle lamps.

7. The Home Secretary's regulations should be applied with in all details, special attention being given to the clauses regarding the use of limelight and the provision of fire appliances.

The Assistant Bank Manager

Three of the most interesting houses in Dulwich are numbers 111.113 and 115 Dulwich Village. They are very different in style from the other properties on the road and date from 1907/08. The site, just north of what is now Barclays Bank, but which was then the London and South Western Bank, had not been built upon previously and the Governors were approached in June 1906 by a Mr Edward William Roberts, of 196 Oxford Street, described as 'an assistant Bank Manager', to lease the northern most plot. The house he started to construct was sold prior to completion in January 1907 and in May he was back to the Governors to lease the two further plots down towards the bank. The contemporary Estate minutes confirm the lease of the plots 'bounded to the south by land in the occupation of the London and South Western Bank limited and on the East by the Estates Woodyard, for the term of 99 years from the 24th day of June, 1907, at the rent of £12 10s for the first year, and there after £25 yearly, and to contain the builder's agreement to build two detached private dwelling houses, to cost at lease £1000 each house, and other conditions usually required by the Governors in agreements of similar property, and be signed by any five of the Governors.'

The Architect and Surveyor, Charles E Barry, was quite enthusiastic in his report confirming that 'the exterior surfaces of the walls will be covered with rough-cast and the roof will be tiled' and that 'The houses will be picturesque in appearance and I think the plans may be approved'. The Governors, however, were less impressed and instructed Mr Barry to 'see Mr Roberts with a view to obtaining an improved front elevation'. This he did, changes were made, and work started.

It seems that there was almost immediate interest from potential purchasers and Mr Roberts wrote to the Governors in July saying that he had an opportunity to sell one of them 'provided a back entrance can be obtained for the purpose of giving access for a carriage or motor car to the rear of the premises.' He suggested that the Governors grant him an easement over the road leading to the Estate Woodyard, together with the lease of a strip of land 18 feet wide at the rear of all three of his houses. The Manager thought that a figure of £10 per annum, was appropriate with Mr Roberts to erect a substantial oak fence at the rear of the new extended garden. However, it seems that the potential purchaser must have pulled out as there was no further discussion on the subject.

Regrettably there is no record of the original architect, though when an extension was proposed to Fountain Lodge, number 115, in April 1909, the architects for the scheme were Messrs Greenaway and Newberry, who had recently designed the St Faith's Hall in Red Post Hill, and it is certainly possible that a satisfied owner used the architects of his original house for an extension. The Architect and Surveyor noted 'The proposed addition, which is one storey high, consists of a billiard room, entrance porch; lavatory etc. is to be erected at the front of the house. The exterior of the addition would match the existing building and would, I think, be an improvement to the latter. The estimated cost is £350. I think the plan might receive the approval of the Governors'. This time it was approved without changes.

In 1912 Mr Roberts returned to Dulwich and had a meeting with the Governors to discuss a far more radical proposal. He suggested that they grant him a building lease over all the land bounded by Gallery Road, the south side of Burbage Road (the former site of the Camberwell Council horse cart depot and local pig farm), as far as the new houses in Turney Road. The Governors declined, as they wished to see if other builder/developers might be interested, but shortly afterwards the First World War intervened and nothing happened until Mr Ellyatt built out the south side of Burbage Road in 1919/20.

At much the same time, on the other side of Dulwich Village, local builder Mr Kingsman had been carrying out his development of the former grounds of the Greyhound Inn, demolished in 1895. Pickwick Road had been the first development to be built, the houses designed by architects Wilsden and North, and had started to sell well. It was common at that time for the builder to complete the road as house sales progressed, and all the new roads had to be finished in tarmac in order that the Council would adopt them - even though there were still a large number of unmade roads in the area. To show that lack of co-ordination between statutory service suppliers is nothing new, the Governors became very concerned when the County of London Electricity Supply Company decided to install their electric light mains in the newly completed road and sent a postcard to the Governors just before work was due to start.. The Manager reported 'This road had only just been made and completed by the contractor and I therefore, on behalf of the Governors, objected to the Company interfering with the road in anyway without giving the full notice and depositing plans and information of the proposed works as provided by the Camberwell Electric Lighting order of 1896. I understand that the Company had been given ample notice of the making of this road.' The Manager was instructed to arrange for the restoration by the Company of the road 'immediately after the laying of the mains, and also for the making good by them of any dilapidations to the road which may arise within twelve months from the laying of the mains.'