In December 2003, the Dulwich Society promoted a competition to design a life size statue of Edward Alleyn to commemorate the 400th anniversary of his purchase in October 1605, of the manor of Dulwich, with which he endowed the College and the charities which bear his name. By permission of the Dulwich Estate it was to be designed to be erected in the garden of the Old College.
In May 2004 there was an exhibition of the short-listed designs at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. The winning entry, chosen by a committee under the chairmanship of Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the Director of the Gallery, was announced by the Right Honourable Tessa Jowell M.P. who is Secretary of State for the Arts as well as the local Member of Parliament.
The design chosen is by Louise Simson (born 1960) who began her career as an artist painting particularly actors in performance. She began working in bronze in 2001 with sculptures of competitors in the Wimbledon tennis finals and has been commissioned each year since to provide small sculptures of the winners of that competition. Her design is a dynamic portrayal of Alleyn positioned to point out his foundation to a second figure which is of a young boy. It will be her first life size work.
At the same time as the winning entry was announced, an appeal was launched by the President of the Dulwich Society, His Honour Judge Michael Rich QC to raise the necessary funds to commission and erect the statue. It opened with the benefit of contributions from 30 patrons and the promise of a contribution of £10,000 from the Dulwich Estate on behalf of the seven beneficiaries of the Estate of which, of course the three Dulwich Schools are the principal.
The Appeal has now raised £45,000, and the Dulwich Society has now obtained the necessary permissions and has commissioned the sculpting and casting of the statue. The society hopes shortly to conclude negotiations for the plinth and landscaping. Subject to contingencies, the sum raised should cover the cost of these works although there is still need to make provision for the unveiling ceremony in October 2005.
The saga of the Herne Hill Velodrome continues. Southwark Council has not been able to formally issue the planning consent for the proposed £7m redevelopment because of queries from local residents over the accuracy of the information given to the planning committee. There has also been a delay in setting up the not for profit trust (The London Velodrome Trust) which the Council had hoped would take over the ownership of the track and the proposed climbing wall facilities.
The Dulwich Estate has now given the Council an ultimatum to renew their lease by 31st January or hand the ground back. They have also advised the Council that they are not prepared to enter into any agreement with the London Velodrome Trust unless it is under written by the Council itself. The Society understands that the Estate is looking for an increase in the annual rent from £5000 to £65000.
The Council has prepared a thorough and detailed report for an executive meeting on 24th January. It outlines three possible options for a way forward.
Option 1 is not to renew the lease and hand the ground back to the Estate. This will involve the Council in paying dilapidations (which are expected to be in the order of several hundred thousand pounds) and also returning the money given to the Council by Sport England to pay for the new cycle track installed in 1992. The potential costs of this option are not set out in the public report but in a separate 'closed report' only available to councillors.
Option 2 is for the Council to renew the lease for 20 years in the expectation that it can obtain sources of outside funding to carry out the development. The report points out that this is a very risky proposition as there is no certainty that the money will be forthcoming and that all the costs might, in the end, fall on the Council.
Option 3 is to negotiate a temporary 5 year extension to the lease to give more time for alternative development options to be considered and funding sources to be found. There would also be the opportunity for an agreement to be reached with the Estate over the London Velodrome Trust.
The application for a new house in the large rear garden of this property was turned down by Southwark Council's Planning Committee against the recommendation of its own planning officers. The main grounds were that the house was too large and out of character with the immediate area and that the new entrance would be harmful to the character of the street scene.
This decision will set a precedent for other sites in Dulwich where the Society understands that similar schemes are under consideration.
Much to the surprise of local residents, and the Dulwich Estate, the current owner of this house on Sydenham Hill appears to be running a night club on the premises. The Estate was not aware of this nor, as far as we know, was Southwark's Licensing Department. The venue was advertised on the internet, with its own web site, as ideal for Xmas parties. In January, the Editor of this Newsletter even received an invitation, extended to all 'staff and members of the Dulwich Society to attend an evening of music soul, pop and jazz.' Too late for the publication date we regret!
Not to be outdone by the other schools in Dulwich who are embarking on a building spree, Kingsdale had no sooner finished its major refurbishment when it submitted a planning application for a new Music School and Sports Hall. The Society has no objection in principle but feels that the industrial type cladding materials proposed for the latter are not appropriate on a relatively large building in a low-rise suburban location.
Just along from Kingsdale School lies the Sir Ernest Shackleton pub. There is a current application to demolish it and replace it with a three storey block of flats. The existing building is only two stories high and the houses in Rouse Gardens to the rear will suffer a loss of amenity if the development goes ahead, as will the residents of the Kingswood Estate, who will be deprived of their only pub. The Society has objected.
Orange's latest application for an 11.5m column 'disguised as a sewer vent' on the corner of Dulwich Common and College Road has been turned down by Southwark Council on the basis that it fails to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Dulwich Village Conservation Area. Notwithstanding this decision Vodafone have made a similar application along Dulwich Common by Dulwich Park's Rosebury Lodge Gate.
The Dulwich Society is enthusiastically supporting the re-launch of the Dulwich Festival (see elsewhere in this issue for details of the Festival). It will present a history walk led by Brian Green, an architectural walk led by Ian McInnes and a Tree Walk. Additionally the Society will be manning a recruiting and information desk outside the Post Office in Dulwich Village on Saturday 22 May 10am-4pm. Members willing to help on the stand should contact the secretary.
There is to be another Tree Walk on Saturday 21 May as part of the Dulwich Festival along Alleyn Park and Alleyn Road both of which have many fine trees included on our map. It will be led by Letta Jones, a horticultural lecturer who was our excellent guide last year in Dulwich Park. Meet at the junction of Huntslip Road and Alleyn Park at 2.00pm.
As part of the lottery bid, the planting of a number of trees has been planned. Some residents have wanted to give memorial trees to the park and the list is now open. Anyone who would like to have a memorial tree planted should get in touch with Rosie Thornton, the park manager in the Rangers' office in the park or on 8693 5737.
The Group announce that the spring lecture, ' The Herbaceous Border' by David Cheston will take place at 8pm on Thursday 3 March at the St Barnabas Centre, Calton Avenue.
The Garden Group is also holding a Plant Sale on Saturday 14 May at 2.30pm at 163 Turney Road. Members welcome.
The Group's annual visit will be to Sissinghurst and Great Dixter Gardens on Tuesday 12 July. Price £24. Reservations to Ina Pulleine, 1 Perifield, SE 21 8NG. Telephone 8670 5477 (after 11.00am)
Wimbledon Common wildlife officer Dave Haldane will be leading a walk for Dulwich Society members over the Common's rich and varied mammal, bird and flora habitats (many of them designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest) on Sunday 24 April. Dave will answer questions on habitat creation and restoration in urban open spaces. Meet at The Windmill (where you can park) at 10am. Admission is free (If you would like to join the walk, which should last about two hours, but have transport problems/queries, please call 8693 5789.
Two nest boxes have been erected by the Dulwich Society in Court Lane Gardens after five trees were felled there in November by the Dulwich Estate. The felling led to protests from residents, several of whom contacted the Estate to complain. According to residents, the felling took place without warning, several of the trees were still partly alive and at least one tree was thought to contain the nest site of green woodpeckers. Tree creepers had also been seen there. One householder described the felling as "vandalism", adding:" We are devastated by what appears to be very high-handed destruction of the green wood in front of our home."
Following meetings between residents, the estate and representatives of the trees and wildlife committees, the estate agreed to the erection of two nest boxes - for a green wood pecker and a tree creeper. These were put up in January. The Estate, which says that the trees were dead and needed replacing, has also agreed to consider proposals from the Society for an ecologically-based approach to tree management. These proposals have now been sent to the governors and include:
Many nest-box requirements are highly specific. The green woodpecker, which feeds on ants on the ground, has a softer beak than the great spotted woodpecker. Its box had to be filled with dry, fibrous birch wood, to encourage it to excavate its own nest without creating too much of a challenge. The tree creeper's box has to mimic the species' preference for space behind large chunks of loose, rough bark so is wedge-shaped and narrow and has tiny triangular side-entrances.
The felled trees included a beech, two Norway maples and a purple plum. The logs, unfortunately, were also removed from the site. Possible replacement species include purple beech, red oak and Japanese pagoda tree.
Led by expert birder Alan Crawford. Experience one of Britain's greatest wildlife events, the spring dawn chorus. Listen as one by one different species enter the chorus as they sing to attract mates and defend territories. Last year we were treated to the Hoot of the Tawny Owls, but they finish early so arrive on time. Bring warm clothes and a torch, and if you like, binoculars and a field guide for later, when the sun rises. Meet at 4.30am at the Crescent Wood Road entrance.
Join the plant expert Mark Spencer of the Natural History Museum as he shows us the plants that help to make Sydenham Hill Wood a site of metropolitan importance for nature conservation. Feel free to ask Mark questions as he is an excellent communicator capable of helping either the novice or the professional botanist. Meet at 2pm at the Crescent Wood entrance