Dulwich Society plants more trees

The Trees Committee have planted over thirty trees in the past ten years in what is now called Long Meadow, but which was once known as French's Field. This is the large meadow lying between Dulwich Wood Avenue and Gipsy Hill. This meadow was leased by the Dulwich Estate to Southwark Council some years ago as a public amenity. As the photograph taken in the early years of the 20th century shows, it was used for pasturing milk cows. There is still one living resident in Dulwich Wood Avenue who can recall this.

The Trees Committee has had mixed success with Long Meadow. There have been acts of vandalism which have caused trees to fail but the main cause of failure has been the condition of the soil. Long Meadow acts as a watershed for water coming down the hill to the south and this causes water- logging.

The good news is that about twelve of these trees survive and they include a Holm Oak, Deodar Cedar, Scots Pine, Beech, Oak, Balsam Poplar, Willows and Alders. The real success story however has been the Native British Hedgerow planted in the gaps around the perimeter fence. With Hawthorn, Briar and Guelder Rose and other hedge species it is thriving.

The Society has also persuaded Southwark Council to stop mowing the top of the field to encourage wildflowers and wildlife. The Buttercup display in summer is quite spectacular.

The Society is to plant five new trees in Long Meadow - a Swamp Cypress, two Coal Bark Willows and two Black Poplars.

There will be a Trees Walk on Saturday May 12th in pretty little Sydenham Wells Park led by our excellent guide Letta Jones. Meet at the park entrance in Wells Park Road at 2.30pm

Edward Alleyn Statue

After some months of negotiation, the bronze statue raised in honour of Edward Alleyn by the Dulwich Society and sited in the forecourt of the Old College is now insured by the Society, through the Dulwich Estate, against theft and vandalism.

Postal Cart Progress

For the past twelve months Society members, Willis Walker and Graham Nash have been carefully restoring what appears to be the original Dulwich Village postal cart discovered in an antique shop near Tower Bridge in 2005. The wheels, which were in need of specialist repair, have been restored by Andrew Ball of the Gloucester Wheel & Carriage Company at a cost of £500.

Dr Ian Bristow, a friend of the Society and a local resident who is an expert on paint restoration has examined the cart. He is at present advising the Corporation of London on the restoration of the Lord Mayor's Coach.

He reports that the springs and wheel-spokes of the cart appear to have had five phases of decoration, the earliest being an undercoat of deep pink, two coats of scarlet with the second layer diluted with varnish. The spokes were also the same ground but picked out in black. At some later date they were overpainted in a thin greenish yellow. The dilution using varnish is typical of high-quality work of this type.

Main body of the cart. The samples appear to show only a single scheme in dark blue-green, with scarlet lining-out and gilded lettering. There were up to five coats of grey undercoat. The lining out was on the earliest scheme. The gilding may have been in a later scheme. An inscription on the side of the body is difficult to decipher, but appears to read 'Queens//Mogleton/Builders/1909/Camberwell and seems likely to be associated with is and to have succeeded physical alterations which can be seen at various points. Thus while the lower part of the body is pine, the upper part appears to be an extension in a different timber (perhaps teak), and the angle irons which support it appear to be associated. The ventilator at the front may also represent a modification. 

Threatened Post Office Closure

It appears that the Royal Mail has decided, with no consultation and minimum publicity, to close the Herne Hill Sorting Office in April and move its operations to Station Road, Camberwell which is about a ten minute walk from Camberwell Green.

On behalf of the Dulwich Society, its chairman, Adrian Hill has written to oppose this closure which will bring considerable inconvenience to those members living near Herne Hill or in the SE24 postal district.

Flooding in Turney Road

A number of houses in this road periodically suffer flooding of their cellars and other parts of the premises. Thames Water has offered some of the owners a Floodark device to hold back water seeping through the sub-soil. These are a form of water barrier. The Dulwich Society asked the Dulwich Estate their view of these devices and whether their installation requires approval under the Scheme of Management.

The Estate's response was that the Consultant Architect had reviewed the device and the installation of this would require approval as it requires permanent fixtures at the side of each doorway and this has a visual impact on the external appearance of a property. The initial view is that such fixtures would have a detrimental visual impact. The Managers also question the effectiveness of this device (which is basically a barrier which slots in front of doorways to hold back water - it would not appear to address the problem of water seeping into basements).

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