Please don't stop looking after your garden birds during the warmer months. You will not be putting yourself at risk from picking up the deadly H5NI strain of the bird 'flu virus by continuing to watch and feed your feathered visitors - that's the message from the nation's leading birdlife research body.
The British Trust for Ornithology stresses that garden birds do not pose a health threat to humans, although it is sound common sense to follow simple hygiene rules after feeding birds if you don't want them to spread disease among themselves. Despite recent media panic over the current bird 'flu spread (and the finding of a dead migratory Whooper swan in Scotland that was found to have been suffering from H5N1), the fact remains that disease transmission between birds and humans has, to date, centred on situations in which domestic farmed chickens and waterbirds and their handlers have lived in very close contact. Some cases have followed the eating of diseased birds' carcases.
The BTO categorically state that "garden birds are not a threat" and have produced a free leaflet giving people the information they need to allay their fears. Knowing the facts, they believe, will enable the public to continue to enjoy feeding and watching birds in their garden. Support feeding is now considered important throughout the year, incidentally, not just during the winter when food resources are scarce. Many once-common species are now declining. Nesting and the rearing of young use a great deal of a bird's energy and use of pesticides, drought, modern farming practices and hard-surface "makeover" gardens add to the problems, so that parent birds may find it difficult to gather the high-protein diet of invertebrates, like caterpillars, that they need to feed themselves and their fast-growing brood. Starving in the nest is now thought to be one of the factors behind the recent decline in House sparrow numbers.
Birds do carry diseases; salmonella being one of them. But this is chiefly a risk for other birds and a dirty feeding station can be a killer. (Humans are most likely to suffer from the effects of salmonella poisoning through eating infected poultry and poultry products.) "The single most important action we can take, to protect both the birds that feed in our gardens and ourselves, is to follow the basic hygiene rules of keeping feeding stations clean and washing hands with soap and water after contact with bird feeders and food," says Martin Fowlie of the BTO's Garden BirdWatch team.
To receive a free copy of the hygiene leaflet, call 01842 750050, e-mail
Chair, Wildlife Committee
The Taming of the Shrew
The Dulwich Players are presenting an updated version of William Shakespeare's comedy of The Taming of the Shrew in the open air, in the Dulwich Picture Gallery Garden on 21 and 23 June at 8pm and on 24 June at 5.30pm and 8pm and on 25 June at 6pm. Set in the early 1960's, Padua, a sleepy university city on the edge of a new age where the beautiful Bianca is besieged by suitors eager to prove their worth. Her father, Baptista, exhausted by the willfulness of his elder daughter, Katherina, insists that Bianca cannot wed till Katherina is betrothed. Katherina, however, has other ideas! Enter Petruchio who has "come to wive it wealthily in Padua".
Tickets £8 (seated) £5 on the grass, from The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village.
The Crow: 21st Century Native Americans
Since the arrival of the early-Europeans, the indigenous peoples of North America have faced immense challenges to their unique ways of life. For more than 400 years Native Americans have seen a steady erosion of their rights to ancestral lands rich with natural resources.
But the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States are beginning to assert their distinctive national identity with more than 80 First Nation tribes challenging the US Government in the federal courts for greater entitlement to social provision and compensation for land held 'in trust' for decades. This cultural revival is being marked at the Horniman Museum in a vibrant photographic exhibition - The Crow: 21st Century Native Americans that documents the daily, ceremonial and spiritual life of the Crow Indians as they define their place in mainstream American society. The exhibition of 40 striking images includes the ritual of the Sweat Lodge, the annual Crow fair and the sacred herd of bison kept by the tribe.
Exhibition opening in the Balcony Gallery until 15 October 2006
Around the World in Eighty Days
Presented simultaneously across two major London arts institutions, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and the South London Gallery, Around the World in Eighty Days is a unique exhibition that takes Jules Verne's popular novel as a starting point to consider art, history and the social construction of places, spaces and identities from both a global and local perspective
Published in 1872, Around the World in Eighty Days marked a divisive historical moment that is still being played out. Many of the issues that it touches upon, rapid technological change, the emergence of non-commercial international travel and tourism, the height of the colonial era and the beginning of cultural and economic globalization continue to have resonance with the way we approach and experience the world today.
Whilst the original story presented a somewhat restricted colonial interpretation of the world through its focus on the main trading routes of Victorian England, this exhibition looks to an expanded list of countries in order to represent a more current world viewpoint. It concentrates specifically on artists who were born abroad but now live and work in London. The participating artists will either exhibit a new piece that has been especially conceived in response to the novel, or present an existing work that relates to a theme or topic outlined in the book. These will explore notions of travel, movement, migration, race, class and politics.
Around the World in Eighty Days until 16 July 2006 at the SLG, Peckham Road SE 5. Open Tues-Sun 12-6pm
Upper Norwood Athenæum
Instituted in 1887, with its aims being "for the purpose of visiting places of antiquarian or historical interest, and promoting friendship amongst persons interested in these subjects", the Upper Norwood Athenæum continues to thrive. Dulwich Society members Barbara and David Hollis explain that visits are made monthly between March and October, by coach and recent excursions include Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire, Dorchester Abbey in Oxfordshire and the Foreign Office in London. The task of organizing the visits is shared by the members, of whom ten live in Dulwich. Anyone who would like to find out more about the Upper Norwood Athenæum should telephone David or Barbara on 020 8693 6703.
Who Was Who in Dulwich: Michael Croft, Founder of the National Youth Theatre by David Weston
The first recorded sighting of Michael Croft in Dulwich was in the autumn of 1950 at the bottom of Court Lane, when an Alleyn Old Boy was accosted by a burly figure in a duffel coat who genially inquired: "Where can an old sailor get a drink around here?" Croft was duly led to the first of innumerable visits to the Crown and Greyhound.
Michael was then 29 years old. He was a Shropshire lad, born out of wedlock on the English side of Offa's Dyke in the hamlet of Hengoed near the small town of Gobowen, and brought up by an elderly foster-mother. Throughout his life, in spite of his legions of friends, Michael often seemed lonely as if seeking the family he never had. He eventually moved to Manchester and was educated at Burnage Grammar School. He excelled at cricket and football and took part in theatricals but gained a reputation for being a rebel. He served in the Royal Navy throughout the war and after demobilisation in 1946 went to Keeble College, Oxford by way of a government grant for ex-service men. His fellow undergraduates were perhaps the most talented in the University's history. Because of the war there was a backlog of seven years. In 1946 ninety percent of the freshmen were ex-servicemen. Michael became friends with such diffuse characters as Kenneth Tynan, Christopher Chataway, Ludovic Kennedy, Robin Day, John Schlesinger and Lindsay Anderson. Though he acted in many plays, Michael's main ambition was to become a writer. He had written poetry whilst in the Navy and wrote for Isis and Cherwell. After graduating with a modest Third, Michael spent most of 1950 doing teacher training at a secondary school in North Oxford. It was his experiences there that he used for his best-selling and largely autobiographical novel Spare the Rod.
It was the presence of Edward Upward, (then living in Turney Road) the friend and mentor of Christopher Isherwood, as head of English that attracted Michael to Alleyn's. He entered the school full of idealism, perhaps echoing the thoughts of his hero in Spare the Rod: "Here crusader is your battlefield. Did you dream a dream?
Apart from some notable exceptions, Michael was to have trouble with his fellow teachers. His somewhat Rabelaisian manner and appearance did not always endear him to them. However Michael soon found a kindred spirit in Ken Spring. Ken was an unlikely Art Master, tall, good-looking, his handsome face scarred from his wartime service in the jungles of Malaysia. He was also a leading light in the Cadet Force, in which membership, in those early Cold War days was compulsory. Ken remembered his first meeting with Michael in the Common Room:
"I thought he was a strange person to be joining the staff of Alleyn's. He looked slightly unkempt; he wore his old service duffle coat and was obviously out of the normal pattern of the grammar school master with their ties and suits and sometimes rather dirty macs. I recognized someone, like myself, who was slightly out of keeping with the rest. I thought, 'Let's talk to this bloke', and we finished up that very day in the bar of the Crown and Greyhound.
"Come on lads, have a laugh..."
A pupil remembers Croft in the classroom:
"He was my form master when I first came up from the Lower School. We were expecting somebody rather smart, wearing gowns and things, but Croft's gown was a bit ripped up, a second hand gown. We didn't know what he was doing when he wrote 'Speech Training' on the board, but after a lot of spluttering and coughing he began to read. Once he started he really took us with him but whenever he got to a line like 'pregnant with celestial fire', he would screw up his nose and lip and sort of say: 'Come on lads, have a laugh.' He wasn't really a master but there was something about him that allowed him to control a bunch of very mixed youths. It wasn't discipline in the way some masters enforced a rigid discipline, but somehow he managed to command respect in a very special way."
In the summer of 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, the year when the country was supposed finally to have shrugged off the trials and tribulations of the Second World War, Michael finally began the work that was to transform the lives of so many, including his own, and would eventually launch a movement that would change the attitude to Drama in almost every school in the land. Michael, who had taken part in open-air productions in the college gardens at Oxford, hit upon the idea of an epic modern dress production of Julius Caesar on the school playing fields, using the School's Cadet Force. He also began to reveal his talent for winning over the most unlikely recruits. Eric Randall, the young Guards ex-sergeant who had been attached to the school to help run the C.C.F. was persuaded to oversee the drill and battle scenes.
Eric Randall recalls: "I created a complete battle for him. I had platoons of my Corps lads screaming and charging at each other firing blanks. He wanted the entire school lit up at a certain point; I used pyrotechnics and ignited red flares and smoke bombs. It looked as if the school was silhouetted against an enormous fire."
Michael wanted the crowd which Antony wins over in the Forum to be of Cecil B. De Mille proportions, and set about persuading the least likely but most robust boys to take part. Among his first recruits were his Under Fifteen Soccer team, to whom he promised great quantities of beer as a reward. Excitement spread around the school as more and more boys came forward to. Not just to act or to be in the crowd, but to make props, scenery, assist with the stage management and the selling of tickets.
Julian Glover, perhaps the only Alleyn boy of that era who would have become a professional actor without Croft's influence, was a great Mark Antony, and Julius Caesar became a local legend - people still talk of it in Dulwich to this day. William Russell an old friend from Oxford, soon to be famous on ITV as Sir Lancelot remembers:
"I saw 'Julius Caesar' down on the playing fields. I thought it was pretty remarkable. I remember the sense of excitement overtaking me, which it did in all of Mike's productions. I got a genuine theatrical thrill from being in the audience, a feeling like when your skin gets prickly. I felt that something very unusual and spontaneous and very much alive was happening. I told him this was something he must go on doing."
Other productions followed in quick succession: Hamlet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry V and Henry IV Part II. Soon London critics such as W.A. Darlington of the Daily Telegraph and his nameless colleague from The Times began to regularly come to Dulwich. Croft built up his own publicity machine among the boys, and playbills were sent out to other schools further and further afield. There was hardly ever an empty seat. After Julius Caesar the other plays were performed in the Great Hall where Ken Spring would build an Elizabethan setting on an open stage. Boys, such as Brian Croft, later to design the lighting for Rolling Stones Tours and the Millennium Concerts at Buckingham Palace, worked on the lighting.
Michael could get the most extraordinary response and performances out of the most unlikely boys
A fellow teacher at Alleyn's recalled: "Michael could get the most extraordinary response and performances out of the most unlikely boys. Nobody had achieved anything like it before. He was quite ruthless in his rehearsal schedule; he would go on until ungodly hours, because he wanted it right. He would do a scene for the fourth or eighth time with as much energy and verve as when he had begun hours before. Some of the boys, having had a full day at school and often a football match before they had begun, were exhausted.
During these hectic years Spare the Rod was published and became an immediate success and, to Michael's delight, a matter of controversy. John Betjeman, reviewing the novel in the Telegraph wrote:
"I have seldom been more alarmed and affected by a new novel than I have by 'Spare the Rod'. This is the first novel which shows a sense of narration and form, and with an absence of over-writing altogether admirable."
That pleased Croft very much - he admired the brevity of Hemmingway. The success of the novel insured that he now had money for the first time in his life. He still intended to become a writer and to the great disappointment of the boys announced that he would leave Alleyn's to fulfil that ambition.
His final production at Alleyn's was Henry IV Part II. His achievement is best summed up by a review in The Times in December 1955:
"It was not the last word in Shakespearian productions, for in these no word is ever final; yet it would be hard to imagine a finer presentation of Shakespeare on a school stage. There is no reason to suppose that Alleyn's has a higher percentage of good actors than any other school of its size - on stage indeed it had its inevitable share of bad ones. But what was so striking about this production was the size of the hard core of polished performers: not two or three, as is usual at schools, but 22 or 23. From Falstaff to Feeble the confident clarity of their speaking was a joy to hear. And the man responsible was Mr Michael Croft. He has succeeded in instilling in the minds of his actors a feeling for the stress and rhythm of Shakespeare's verse that would have done credit to a Stratford performance."
As far as the School was concerned that was the end, but a few months later the inner core of his actors visited him in his bed-sit in Lordship Lane one Sunday morning, and persuaded him to found the Youth Theatre. At least that is what they thought they were doing, but Michael had had the germ of the idea in his head for many years. As he later explained:
"I thought for a long time about it and finally decided to try it out. The idea was, rather vaguely, to bring young actors together in their school holiday to take part in serious productions in the hope of encouraging young people in general to take more interest in the theatre. Even more vaguely, I hoped that the Youth Theatre, as I was already calling it in my mind, would develop a real sense of community by bringing together young people from diverse backgrounds to work in a group where even the humblest mattered. I hoped too that the work would encourage them to look upon the theatre as being as much part of their lives as football or dancing, instead of something reserved for the precious or privileged few."
His aims are even more relevant today. But he was taking a tremendous risk. He had no money but his own, he could lose it all in a week and all of his work at Alleyn's would be negated and swept away. He threw himself into his task with all of his prodigious energy; and for more than a decade, before his first heart attack, he laboured day and night. The work on the productions alone would have been enough for any man, but Michael founded an organization, formed a movement, battled with innumerable authorities, and 'heard the chimes at midnight' every night.
Having been refused funding by the Arts Council and educational bodies, Michael turned to the theatrical profession for practical support:
"On one occasion I dragged Sir Alec Guinness from his bed and, on another, Sir Peter Ustinov from his bath - I persuaded some of our most distinguished actors to give their names in support. Not least of these was Sir Ralph Richardson, who, during the trials and torments of Timon of Athens at the Old Vic, found time to undertake the Presidency of the newly named Youth Theatre."
If ever a national institution was founded in Dulwich it was the National Youth Theatre
Michael decided to revive Henry V with mostly the original cast from Alleyn's, to which he added a handful from Dulwich College. If ever a national institution was founded in Dulwich it was the National Youth Theatre. He arranged costume hire from the Old Vic and booked the unknown venue of Toynbee Hall in the unfashionable East End. There was no fringe theatre in those days; moreover early September was a notoriously bad time for theatre- going in London. There were no TIME OUT listings. Michael only had the keenness of his boys and he set them to work in his flat in Lordship Lane.
Simon Ward remembers it well:
"The tiny room with theatre posters drooping from the walls was in absolute chaos. It was packed with boys rehearsing, reading, typing, making telephone calls, pouring over booking charts, studying ground plans and making costumes. The noise was indescribable and as all this industry over-flowed, through the door and up the stairs, I remember expecting irate neighbours to appear at any moment. I had just been accepted for the part of the French Princess and was then informed that I could begin by putting stamps on 1000 envelopes. I left several hours later with an awful taste in my mouth, the noise several decibels higher than when I had arrived and wondering just what sort of organization I had joined. But 'organization' was the last word to describe the Youth Theatre. Things did get done and materials for the production slowly arrived, but no one seemed to know how or from where. The 'organization' was the most easy going and apparently undisciplined entity that one could envisage, but the self-discipline and keenness of the individual members was its strength, and it didn't take me very long to realize that this was by design. No set of rules could cope with a situation where actors, after finishing rehearsals, could set off with huge packets of pamphlets under their arms, to circularize youth hostels and libraries on the other side of London, and then, like as not, return to lend a hand in building sets or painting banners. It was taken for granted that everyone would work every day at one job or another until they dropped. There was excitement and expectancy that made every day an adventure for me. However small your part and apparently unimportant your job, you felt that the success or failure of the whole project was in your hands."
But despite all their efforts the booking sheets were looking decidedly grim until, two weeks before the play was due to open, the renowned critic W. A. Darlington successfully persuaded his masters at the Daily Telegraph to sponsor the entire production. Michael had money, and even more important, publicity. There were almost daily references in the Telegraph, stirring up interest in what it called: 'One of the most interesting Shakespearean productions since the war.' The booking sheets began to fill - all Michael had to do was deliver.
Henry V opened on September 10th 1956 and was everything that Michael could have wished. A glittering first night with Sir Ralph and his young colleague, Richard Burton, whose Old Vic costume Alleyn Old Boy Richard Hampton was wearing, congratulating the boys from the stage, and a sheaf of the most wonderful notices.
Darlington himself wrote:
"In this production Mr Croft shows publicly what he has so often proved in private, that he has a particular genius for inspiring young people to act. His whole cast works with a pleasure which is infectious, and their standard of speaking - both for precision and for audibility - is most refreshingly high. I hope the theatre will be packed all week; they deserve it."
The houses were indeed packed; by the end of the week they were turning people away. There was a Gala Theatrical matinee attended by Peter Ustinov, Alec Guinness, Flora Robson, Sam Wannamaker, Alan Badel, and a host of Michael's old acquaintances from Oxford. Michael revelled in the East End atmosphere: he made friends with Alfie who ran The Princess Alice, the pub on the corner, and each night would take some of the lads to have steak and chips in Ziggy's café, which, unbeknown to him, was then a favourite haunt of the Krays.
"Two fiery old generals with no known interest in the arts, and could have easily regarded the Youth Theatre as another 'arty' or hare brained venture, came up with a grant of £500 a year. The show was still on the road."
But when the production ended Michael was back to square one:
"I still had no premises, no equipment and no money, save a small production profit and a few donations from people who had even more faith in the venture than I did myself. I now sought support from many sources. For six months I went down on my knees to industrial firms, charity trusts, and cultural and youth welfare bodies - and trod the well-worn but friendless path familiar to many who have endeavoured to raise money for a cultural cause. Then, in 1958, help came from an unexpected quarter. The King George's Jubilee Trust, which was run by two fiery old generals with no known interest in the arts, and could have easily regarded the Youth Theatre as yet another 'arty' or hare-brained venture, came up with a grant of £500 a year. The show was still on the road."
Within a few years, despite further setbacks, he forged the Youth Theatre into a national institution with annual productions on Shaftesbury Avenue, live television performances, and prestigious tours abroad, representing Great Britain at the Theatre De Nations in Paris and the Berlin Festival. He started long before the Renaissance of English Theatre. The Old Vic, its great days long past, was turning out stolid, old-fashioned productions, the National and the RSC did not exist. Teacups and French windows still cluttered the West End. The Royal Court and John Osborne only came into being in 1956 after Michael left Alleyn's. Apart from Joan Littlewood at Stratford East, Michael created the first real ensemble company in England. Today there is hardly a play at the National or Stratford, or a British film or television series that does not contain someone whom he has influenced, directly or indirectly: Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Ben Kingsley, Dame Helen Mirren, Timothy Spall, Timothy Dalton, Ian McShane, Martin Jarvis, John Shrapnel, Ken Cranham, David Suchet, David Calder, Alex Jennings, Douglas Herd, to Douglas Craig - the latest James Bond ... the list is endless.
Funding would always be the bugbear of Croft's life; indeed the stress of finding and keeping it may have contributed to his early death. He was never a diplomat and became increasingly abrasive with the Arts Council and other authorities in his later years. He was appointed OBE in 1971 and enjoyed an increasingly expansive lifestyle, which he shared generously with his vast circle of friends and acquaintances. He had a great appetite for life, food and drink. He has been described as a Falstaff with a thousand Prince Hals. It is tragic that a man who could inspire such devotion and friendship should die alone on a Saturday night in 1986
This year Croft's achievement celebrates its 50th anniversary. Over the years 120,000 young people have been influenced by his vision. The National Youth Theatre is now housed in a prestigious building in the Holloway Road with a current membership of 2000 young people. It all began on the playing fields of Alleyn's 56 years ago and the Michael Croft Theatre at Alleyn's, which has just received building permission, will be a fitting monument to his memory.
Mr G F Ellyatt was an architect and builder who developed a number of high quality Arts and Crafts influenced residential developments on the Dulwich Estate between 1909 and the mid 1920s. His name is first mentioned in the Estate Minutes when, living at 10 Ruskin Walk, he applied to purchase a 30 feet wide site along the western section of East Dulwich Grove (now Village Way) immediately behind St Austins (now the JAGS Junior School) for the erection of a 'house to cost £800'. The Estate insisted he take a larger plot, at least 50 feet wide, and the Estate Surveyor later reported 'The exterior of the house will be faced with roughcast cement and the roofs will be tiled. I think the external appearance of the house decidedly pleasing'.
His next house, No.14 Village Way, was very similar and, early in 1912, he secured a building lease on the north-east side of Red Post Hill between North Dulwich Station and the 'site for the proposed new road between Red Post Hill and Green Lane' (now the entrance to the Charter School). He designed and built two detached and eight semi-detached houses (Nos. 14-32) and sales were good enough for his wife, to whom he had made over his house in Village Way, then called Whitecroft, to write to the Governors in October 1913 saying 'that the garden is not sufficiently large to form a full size tennis court', and applying for an extra frontage of 5 feet 'for which she is willing to pay the usual rate of rent, together with some backland nearly 5 poles in area, a shown upon the plan now submitted'. By 1914 he was building eleven further houses between the site for the new road and St Faiths Church Hall (Nos. 36-56). Work on the last five stopped in 1915, as demand fell away and there was a major shortage of labour as men went off to fight in the War.
On the 22nd January 1920, the Estate Surveyor reported 'I have received from Mr G F Ellyatt of White Croft, Dulwich Village, the plans herewith submitted for the last four houses to be erected in Red Post hill under the terms of his building agreement, the execution of which was interrupted by the War. The houses would be of two storeys and would contain, on the ground floor an entrance hall, drawing and dining rooms, kitchen, offices etc; and, on the upper floor, four bedrooms and bathroom with WC. The estimated cost is £1500 for each house the Governors might approve the plans submitted' (the pre-war cost was £750)
On the 10th February 1921, the Estate Manager reported under the heading of 'Mr Ellyatt's building agreement Burbage Road' that 'Mr Ellyatt desires to enlarge the area of the land agreed to be let to him. He now proposes to take a frontage of 240 feet instead of 160 feet and to erect six instead of four houses in order to try and meet the wishes of the tree and survey committee and he proposes that the boundary should be twenty feet from the fence of the Old Grammar school and to build on the Herne Hill side of the first plot so that the house will not be within thirty feet of the chestnut trees'.
Sales were clearly going very well as on 21st February he extended his frontage by 50 feet and then on the 14th April he offered to take a further additional 320ft 'from Michaelmas next upon the same terms'. His offer was accepted 'subject to a space of 40 ft. being reserved for a future roadway for which he shall not be held liable on condition that the houses do not come within 4 ft of said road' (the entrance to the sports fields).
In September 1921 he secured a Mr Stanley Smith as the purchaser for No 139 Burbage Road, the fine double fronted house nearest the Old Grammar School, and completions on the other properties followed shortly afterwards in November. No. 137 was leased to a Mrs EM Cowling (this house was bombed in 1940 and rebuilt in Georgian style in 1948), No. 129 to Mr Henry Amos and No. 127 to Mr Henry Carr.
In April 1922 he started buying sites in Alleyn Park, offering 5s 6d for the frontage of fields nos.339 and 339d. The Estate raised the price to 7s to reflect the competition for the site from Messrs. Marten and Carnaby, acting on behalf of the South London Real Estate Company, but Mr Ellyatt prevailed, and the Estate, noting his success in building (and selling) the 15 houses in Burbage Road, agreed to let 'the frontage of about 266ft between Waverton and the plot just let to Mr W Taylor, for a term of 99 years from 24th June 1922, at a rental of 7s per foot, the first year being at a peppercorn, for the purpose of erecting 5 houses similar to those on Burbage Road with 36ft frontages, one with a 40 ft frontage and one with a frontage of about 46ft' (Nos. 99-107).
In July 1922 Mr Ellyatt made offers in College Road, on the Lloyd's Register sports field in Gallery Road and 'in order to keep his men employed while he is waiting for possession of one of the above sites' he offered 7s 6d a foot for field no. 574 in Court Lane. The Estate declined his offers on the first two sites but agreed to sell him the site in Court Lane (Nos. 112-118) at 7s 6d per foot.
In October 1922 he bought two more double plots in Alleyn Park (Nos. 85 & 87 and 95 & 97) and then turned his attention back to Burbage Road. The Estate Surveyor reported 'I have received from Mr Ellyatt the plans herewith submitted for a house proposed to be erected for Miss Abbott on her plot of land next to No. 64 Burbage road. The walls would be 9" thick, covered with rough cast with a tiled roof. The house would contain on the ground floor a large living room, a dining room, a kitchen and scullery etc; on the 1st floor would be 6 bedrooms, bathroom etc; on the back elevation there would be a veranda, and a balcony running the full length of the 1st floor'.
By January 1923 he was working on the adjacent site between No. 64 and the railway bridge (Nos.48-60), even though the final building agreement was not actually signed until July, and in October 1923 he secured Field No. 292 on Dulwich Common at 8s 6d per foot but the Estate insisted he change the finish of the external walls from roughcast to brickwork (Nos. 2-32).
Following the completion of the site in Dulwich Common he did no more development work in the area and it is not clear whether he retired at this point or went bankrupt. However, one must assume the former as his next mention in the Estate Minutes is in January 1927 when he purchased the site on the corner of Dulwich Village and East Dulwich Grove to build 'Crossways' (No 1 Dulwich Village). The value of the house was 'to be not less than £2000 with a ground rent of £22 10s per annum'.
What of the houses themselves? His two houses in Village Way, Nos. 14 & 16, and No.139 Burbage Road are heavily influenced by Charles Voysey, with their battered rendered walls and heavy timber windows. His speculative housing is plainer but still has Arts & crafts overtones.
Perhaps their most noticeable feature is the very large window lighting the staircase and the four tall chimneys. All the houses except those on Dulwich Common had roughcast finished walls, originally unpainted. The earlier houses were slightly wider and shorter than the later ones and had a combined bathroom/toilet. The later houses at the Herne Hill end of Burbage Road were larger, with a separate toilet and larger rooms. They also had bigger windows to the front elevation and additional bays on the first floor rear. Some houses on Alleyn Park only, have hipped roofs on their front gables and two were built to a different plan leaving out the hallmark staircase window.
Compared with Edwardian houses the interiors were relatively plain with no cornices and much simpler panelled doors and skirtings, albeit still in oak - they must have been relatively dark inside in the winter. There was no other interior decoration other than the staircases where the newel posts are particularly attractive.
the houses had both electric and gas lighting installed. They also had a comprehensive set of bell wires to call the maid - presumably an essential part of life for someone who could afford a house of this size - with an outside toilet for her use, and a large coal store. Most of the houses were also located to one side of their sites to allow a car to be driven down past the house into a garage - another reflection on the relative wealth of the purchaser.
Inflation in housing prices is something we think of as a modern phenomenon but, looking closely both at the building costs and the cost of sites, this is not the case. Labour costs went up two and a half times between 1914 and 1918, though they had started to fall by 1921, while the cost of a site on the Dulwich Estate (measured on the basis of foot frontage) increased by 70% between 1920 and 1923 (5s per foot to 8s 6d).