Is the recession actually over? Have the money difficulties gone away? Will there no longer be the promise of financial pain? Well they must have, because Southwark Council and Transport for London have been spending money like water on dubious ‘road improvements’ in Dulwich recent months. Nowhere has more been squandered than on the protracted works at the roundabout in the Village. Here traffic has been delayed, tempers frayed, business impaired and an unlawful incursion made into the manor wastes (green verges) for the dubious provision of a pedestrian crossing. Not that pedestrian safety has actually improved; the island refuge which once protected the public crossing Burbage Road has actually been removed. What is the most ridiculous aspect of all, is that Gallery Road, Dulwich’s most dangerous road, has been largely ignored by this scheme and traffic can still emerge at speed to hit unwary cyclists other cars turning from College Road into Burbage Road.The much advertised traffic consultation of 2009 and the public meeting that followed did not include details of what was planned at the roundabout, if it had, then probably there would have been a larger response than the 10% of those who replied to the questionnaire. Critics of the resultant road layout point out that if humps had been installed where the four interconnecting roads meet the cost would have been in the order of £450 per hump and these would have been more effective than the six (or is it seven) figure sum spent on the new layout.
While it is right to castigate some departments of the Council, it is only fair to congratulate others. For example, the continued improvements in Dulwich Park have resulted in huge numbers of people enjoying its beauty and amenities. Dulwich Park is now so popular that It may be necessary to have some police presence on a regular basis, not because of any evidence of anti-social behaviour, but by the frequent appearances of what appear to be aggressive dogs, usually off the lead and invariably owned by young men. The whole issue of dogs in Dulwich (and other parks) needs to be examined as children are often threatened and frightened by them. An accident involving a dog might happen in Dulwich Park as has happened elsewhere and it might prove to be necessary to invoke or amend park use byelaws to reduce this potential danger.
Another Council department that deserves some credit is the one dealing with Listed Building status. This has proved to be very thorough in seeking closure on an infringement by a developer who owns a site in Red Post Hill on which planning consent has been repeatedly refused. The case is discussed in Dulwich Society News in this issue. However, as we have said previously in these columns, the issue of the council requiring owners of listed buildings to observe the covenants attached to listed status needs sorting out. Often there is no one responsible this supervisory role and buildings which should be protected and preserved are allowed to fall into decay or be changed out of all recognition. No where is this more blatant , or gone on for so long, as the council’s ignored orders concerning St Peter’s Church Hall and wall at the junction of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common. What has been lacking until now is the will to see the matter to conclusion. which it has demonstrated it can do by the case at Red Post Hill.
In response to the many points raised at the Public Meeting last September, the Dulwich Estate has produced an explanatory leaflet which sets out their remit, and the range of their activities, in some detail. This will be sent out with the next annual bill later in the year, though some residents, particularly leaseholders of flats, will see copies earlier. It would be very interesting to know their views.
The Dulwich Estate also confirmed at the March Advisory Group meeting (the thrice yearly formal meeting between the Estate and the Society) that a list of the householder planning and alteration applications, and the Estate’s decisions, would be published on the Estate’s website during April, and regularly thereafter.
In addition, and after much discussion, the Trustees have also been persuaded that the minutes of the Advisory Group Meetings should appear in the public domain on the Society’s website. The Society has had to accept that the content of these minutes will be kept strictly to Scheme of Management matters but it has taken the view that, to have the Society’s questions and the Estate’s answers published, something we have been pressing for quite some time, is a significant move forward.
The Society welcomes the three steps outlined above as they show that the Dulwich Estate Trustees have listened to the mood of the meeting and taken steps to respond – these steps will not be enough for some, and others may not have a view one way or the other, but for those long term residents who remember the Estate’s attitudes in the past, this must be an improvement.
The Estate’s charitable function is to raise money for its beneficiaries - in Dulwich these are essentially the three main schools, Dulwich College, Alleyns and JAGS. Their websites describe their contribution to the local community and society at large – two of them open their sports facilities to local authority schools, and local residents as sports clubs. They allow local societies and community group to use their buildings for events, and many of their pupils participate in local community projects.
All these are to be welcomed but it seems to the Society that the beneficiaries need to take a more proactive role in setting Estate policy. One particular area where that would be welcomed is the Herne Hill Velodrome. The ongoing problems over leases are well known and the Estate’s perennial excuse is, like their policy on shop letting, that their charitable status means that they need to maximise income for the beneficiaries. Perhaps this is one instance where the beneficiaries need to say to the Estate that the long term future of this facility is more important than the income from it.
Successes for the Planning & Architecture Committee
In the summer edition of the 2007 Journal (then named the Newsletter), the Editor drew attention to the failure of Southwark Council to exercise its statutory duty in regard to Dulwich’s listed buildings. It highlighted the protracted delay in dealing with a partially collapsed listed wall at the foot of Red Post Hill. Although the Council and the Dulwich Estate had served Dangerous Structures and Breach of Covenant notices on the owner, these had the effect of causing the virtual demolition of much of what remained of the wall. The Dulwich Society’s Planning & Architecture committee then took up the case and sought and obtained legal advice on enforcing the covenants requiring its repair. Through the tenacity of the committee chairman David Roberts,the owner of the wall and garden, who is not the actual owner of Lyndenhurst, but a developer, has reluctantly but finally, in the face of legal action in a case brought by Southwark Council through the Dulwich Society’s intervention, carried out a rebuilding of the wall under the close scrutiny of the Council’s officers.
David Roberts also followed through, with commendable thoroughness, another black spot; the state of the fencing in front of the Streatham & Marlborough Cricket Club’s ground on Dulwich Common. What was potentially one of the most beautiful vistas in Dulwich had been made an eyesore because of the dumping of rubbish, a badly sited container and fallen-down fencing. He succeeded in persuading the officers of the club, which had been experiencing financial difficulties, to resite the container and repaint it a more harmonious colour and David then made a bid on the Club’s behalf, through the Dulwich Society for a CGS grant for a new fence towards which the cricket club and the Dulwich Society contributed half of the £10,000 cost. The Dulwich Estate also played its part by preparing tender documents including drawings and obtaining tenders.
The result of this successful CGS bid is an attractive boundary using natural materials and providing safety to children in the Cricket Club parking area. The light colour of the wood will darken and become the pale grey characteristic of weathered Oak over time. The Oak fencing came from a sustainable source, Hever Castle Estate in Kent. The project was completed within the agreed work period at the beginning of March within budget. Altogether it was a remarkable exercise in co-operation.
Dulwich Community Council Grant Allocations
In the allocation of Community Council Grants (Cleaner, Greener, Safer – CGS Grants) for 2010-11, the Dulwich Society was awarded six grants for its proposals.* In addition the Wildlife Committee supported the successful bid of Friends of Belair Park in dealing with the water quality in the lake and the Traffic & Transport Committee supported a successful for £10,000 for street tree planting.
1. £1000 to improve access to Cox’s Walk for people with buggies and wheelchairs through the existing metal pedestrian gate at the bottom of the pathway opposite The Grove Tavern.
2. Replacement of the circular bench surrounding a tree in Dulwich Village. £2000
3. Replacement of the vandalised bench formerly outside Barclays Bank, Dulwich Village presented in memory of the late Bernie Webb. £1200.
4. To provide a red-painted finger post to replicate the historic post formerly at the junction of Red Post Hill and Herne Hill/Denmark Hill. £1600.
5. Returfing of the green areas in Dulwich Village between the graveyard and the pedestrian crossing opposite the Post Office. £5000.
6. £25,000 to enable Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park, to be used by community groups/council staff.
In total, the sum of £314,730 was allocated for schemes proposed in Dulwich. In addition to those above the others are:
£5000 to improve the visual appearance of the Paxton Green roundabout.
£26,000 to improve security with footpath lighting at Little Bornes, Alleyn Park.
£2000 for new grit boxes in Dulwich.
£16,700 for a new lighting scheme and embellishment of existing lamp standards in Ildersley Grove.
£15,000 to supply two further pieces of outdoor gym equipment at the Fitter Estate, Lordship Lane.
£5000 to improve the appearance of the railway banks on both sides of West Dulwich Station.
£7000 to investigate and draw up plans for community space on Croxted Road estate.
£7500 to replace existing lighting at Paxton tunnel.
£20,000 to improve signage, provide speed humps and deal with subsidence problems in the driveway area of Kingswood House.
£2000 to provide notice boards in the East Dulwich area.
£5000 to install gates to the alley way in North Cross Road.
£25,000 for traffic calming in East Dulwich, to include speed humps in Matham Grove, Melbourne Grove, Lordship Lane.
£10,000 to fund preventative measures to reduce incidence of crime in East Dulwich.
£12,400 for more street trees and new build outs on East Dulwich streets.
£6000 for extra covered waiting area at East Dulwich Station.
£30,000 to fund CO2 reducing ideas.
£8000 towards the collection and repair of disused bicycles and their distribution to local primary schools in East Dulwich.
£2000 to encourage East Dulwich dry cleaners to use eco friendly chemicals.
£5000 to improve Goose Green with a planting and gardening project.
£1500 to grass replacement in Melbourne Grove.
£20,000 towards Half Moon Lane shopping parade regeneration.
£3000 for shrubs and perennials for Dulwich Park’s volunteer programme.
£2500 for East Dulwich Grove community allotment project.
£500 for completion of Lytcott Grove orchard and community garden.
£1700 for publicity equipment for local police surgeries.
£4130 to purchase traffic speed measuring device for Village Ward police.
£10,000 for planting street trees for Cherry Blossom Festival project in Village Ward. (Bid supported by The Dulwich Society)
£1000 for edge planting scheme
£20,000 to improve Belair Park lake. (Bid supported by The Dulwich Society)
£1000 to install owl boxes in Dulwich area.
£1000 towards a top up fund for pensioners and youth club hut in Village ward.
£3000 to create and promote more recycling for Dulwich Park by providing proper recycling bins.
*In the 2009-10 Allocation, Dulwich Society Wildlife committee member David Nicholson-Lord successfully obtained a grant of £3000 for signage in the wildlife areas of Dulwich Park (the perimeter of the Woodland Walk). The Wildlife Committee, working with the Friends of Belair Park obtained a £8000 grant for an extended native hedgerow and wildflower plantings in Belair which were carried out by Walworth Garden Farm.
Edward Alleyn’s statue
The commemorative statue of Edward Alleyn offering assistance to a poor boy was installed in 2005. The figure of the boy was removed and hidden in bushes during the winter of 2007. The boy was re-fixed on the stone plinth with a new secure baseplate in November 2008.
Following the re-instatement of the boy to the plinth, the Dulwich Society decided to provide and install 24 hour CCTV surveillance and Smart Water marking with the agreement of the Dulwich Estate. CCTV 24 hour surveillance and Smart Water DNA forensic marking are now in place. The CCTV has been running for some months. The camera has been installed close by and records day and night. Note that the camera is far more discrete than the CCTV symbol on the sign. If an incident was to occur, a recording can be provided to the Police.
The Smart Water DNA forensic marking has been applied to both statues. It is a durable non-visible unique DNA marked liquid that is promoted as being 100% effective in securing a conviction when used as evidence in a prosecution.
To let the observer know that these security measures are in place, stainless steel plaques have been fixed to concrete within recessed gravel strip around the perimeter of the plinth.
The rededication in March of the restored World War 1 war memorial at Dulwich Hospital was carried out by the Revd Canon Dianna Gwilliams, vicar of St Barnabas and a successor to Canon Howard Nixon, the original priest who officiated at the ceremony in 1920. The hospital is situated within that church’s parish and Nixon was the chaplain of what was then the St. Saviour’s (later Southwark) Infirmary. There were other similarities too. In 1920, at the original dedication, Alleyn’s School supplied a choir, this time the school’s Cadet Force supplied a Colour Guard. Wreaths were laid by the Mayor of Southwark, Tessa Jowell MP, the chair of NHS Southwark and the British Legion (who also provided a Colour Guard). Just as in 1920, nurses and medical staff attended the ceremony. The Dulwich Society was represented by a number of members, including Major General Norman Kirby RAMC (retd).
Local resident Frank Ralfe read the poem ‘The Dead’ by Rupert Brooke and Hannah Robathan, a pupil from JAGS, sounded The Last Post and Reveille. The names of those who died at the hospital and who are inscribed on the memorial were read out by Rosemary Dawson, who represented local amenity societies on the Southwark Primary Care Trust, and by John Knightly, the Site Manager at Dulwich PCT who saw the entire project through.
The Dulwich Society became involved in the restoration of the memorial in 2004 when Kings was preparing to vacate Dulwich Hospital and proposals were made to demolish some of the former hospital wards. The project manager for the Trust, Tony Johnston, approached the Society for assistance in recording its historic features. Members of the Local History committee took up the challenge and agreed to carry out a survey. Two visits were made in May and July of that year, photographs were taken and some historical research carried out with the help of Bryce Caller. The two main discoveries were a large quantity of archives going back to 1887 and the remains of a war memorial. The archives were transferred to Kings College Archives. The central section of the war memorial with the dedication and names of the deceased was found to the east of the main entrance, some of the stones for the plinth were found in the grounds, but the column and cross known from an early photograph were missing. Patricia Reynolds recorded the list of names and a report was sent to Kings.
Funds for the restoration project were received from the War Memorials Trust and English Heritage. The Dulwich Society donated £1000 to providing a seat beside the memorial and a contribution towards the landscaping. The cost of the remainder of the landscaping was made possible by a grant from The Metropolitan Gardens Association.
Southwark Military Hospital
by Brian Green
St Saviour’s Infirmary in East Dulwich Grove had been built in the face of considerable local opposition in 1887 by the Guardians of the Poor of the parish of St Saviour’s, Southwark to relieve the overcrowding at their existing infirmary in Newington. It was located in Dulwich because the open aspect of the area was considered beneficial to the patients and because there was no site available in the overcrowded inner-London parish which it served. In 1902 the St Saviour’s Union workhouse was amalgamated with a neighbouring Poor Law union to become Southwark Union and the infirmary in Dulwich was renamed Southwark Union Infirmary.
In 1914, prior to the outbreak of World War 1, the War Office had begun to identify hospitals and sites in London which might serve as general military hospitals. These would be run by the Territorial Force (TE) of the Royal Army Medical Corps and included the Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill which became No. 4 General Hospital TE RAMC. Elsewhere in Camberwell was No. 1 General Hospital TE RAMC where Vera Brittain served for a time as a nurse. They were intended to augment the Stationary Military Hospitals located well behind the Line in northern France.
By March1915 it was apparent that the casualty rate among British and Empire troops was so great that the existing number of general hospitals was insufficient and an approach was made by the War Office to the Local Government Board to have the temporary use of some Poor Law Infirmaries. The situation in France grew more acute and in October 1915, following the Second Battle of Ypres there were further alarming increases in casualties and there were calls for further expansion of such hospitals and both the Southwark and Lambeth Unions were asked to participate in the scheme to convert their infirmaries to military hospitals.
The meeting between the Local Government Board and the two sets of Poor Law guardians produced an immediate and positive response. The decline in pauperism in London, caused by the introduction of old age pensions, increases in wages after 1911 and a freezing in rents had improved life for those previously below the poverty line. As a consequence both the unions’ infirmaries had bed space and it was agreed that as the Lambeth infirmary was actually nearer to Southwark than Southwark’s own infirmary at Dulwich, the East Dulwich Grove infirmary would evacuate its patients and hand it over to the military.
Within two weeks the Dulwich infirmary had been evacuated of its patients, leaving a handful of the most seriously ill who could not be moved. 134 patients (77 men and 57 women) were transferred to the Lambeth institution in Renfrew Street, 166 patients (59 men and 107 women) to Newington infirmary in Walworth. A further 39 adult patients were located at Christchurch Infirmary in Lambeth, along with 98 children. It was the first Poor Law Infirmary in London to be evacuated.
The Royal Army Medical Corps took over control of the infirmary in East Dulwich Grove on November 11th, which at the insistence of the guardians was named Southwark Military Hospital. The hospital was fully equipped for 800 patients and was largely staffed. At the suggestion of the Southwark guardians, the existing Medical Superintendent Dr A Bruce was appointed the rank of Major and served as its Officer in charge for most of the three and half years the hospital was used by the military. He was promoted Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel and in February 1918 was transferred to France. The nursing and domestic staff presented him with a gold watch “in connection with his impending departure for the Front. One of his successors praised Bruce for his many years of work at the hospital and the respect with which he was held and the air of general happiness he had created. Bruce was assisted in his duties by the Matron Miss Williams, who was also retained by the RAMC by Dr Malcolm Kinsella, a specialist surgeon who served at the hospital from 1917-1919, George Batten, the surgeon in charge of the X-ray department who had worked locally before the war and one of the anaesthetists who was a local doctor, C.E.Carpmael who had a practice in Dulwich Village.
Southwark Military Hospital retained its existing nursing staff and augmented this with nurses from the VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment of the Red Cross and St John’s). There were 15 nursing sisters, 28 staff nurses, 59 probationers, 40 orderlies and ancillary staff. In addition there was a staff of 55 RAMC personnel. Lt Col Bruce, was succeeded in February 1918 by Brevet Lt Col William Butler, who was himself shortly after, posted to Egypt and from July 1918 Lt Col J R McMunn, a RAMC career officer who had previously had experience as Registrar at the Royal Victoria Hospital Netley and 11 Stationary Hospital in France. McMunn was later promoted Major-General and became Honorary Surgeon to the King. Butler returned to his pre-war role where he was an eminent figure in public health and became president of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health.
Among the archives at the Imperial War Museum is a folder of papers belonging to VAD Nurse Joanna Swarbrick who served at Southwark Military Hospital, East Dulwich Grove from July 1917 until August 1919. Joanna Swarbrick was from Blackpool and had passed her assistant nursing exams and joined the St John’s division of the Voluntary Auxiliary Detachment. In 1915, probably aged 19, she was attached to a military hospital in Birmingham. It was there that she started to keep a book in which she invited her wounded patients to write something or even make a drawing. By the time she reached London, two years later, one book was full and she had started a second. Naturally some of the inscriptions are sentimental and some are half-remembered pieces of poetry but others are jokey, especially those written by the wounded soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force. A number of paintings and sketches in the books display considerable talent.
By 1918, American wounded were being cared for at East Dulwich Grove and Corporal William G. Dill of Coy F 326 Infantry American Expeditionary Force writes; “May we have those in our arms that we love in our hearts”. A cartoon by Gunner Jones 2/9 Hampshire Regt from the Isle of Wight is captioned “Signing the Pledge – Compliments to Nurse”.
Private L.E Taylor of the 20th Battalion Australian I.F inscribes a verse from The Noble Flag, a South African War poem:
It is only a small piece bit of bunting
It is only an old coloured rag
Yet thousands have died in its honour
And shed their best blood for the Flag
Joseph Cox of the 2/21 London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles), Dulwich’s local regiment has a place in Nurse Swarbrick’s book. He may not have lived locally because by September 1918 the First Surreys’ ranks were being filled with men from remnants of other shattered regiments He dedicates a piece of music to Joanna. It is set to a poem by Nicholas Grimoald, and Joseph Cox modestly notes that the tune is nor elaborate “art” but a simple melody.
Of all the heavenly gifts
That mortal man command
No trusty treasure in the world
Can countervail a friend.
L/Cpl J. Homeward of the 1st Royal West Kent Regiment mentions he had been wounded four times; December 1915, June 1916, June 1917,October 1917 and writes that he was still in hospital in April 1919.
A. P. Nimmo of the Seaforth Highlanders adapts a verse from the Robert Burns’ poem Handsome Nell to express his opinion of Nurse Swarbrick:
She dresses sae (so) clean and neat
Sae simple and genteel
Of course, ye ken, her modest air
Gars (Gives) ony (any) dress luk weel (look well)
A gaudy dress and graceful mein (demeanour)
May slightly touch the heart
But, its innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.
Nurse Swarbrick stayed a few more months at East Dulwich Grove after Southwark Military Hospital closed and then transferred to the Special Surgical Hospital, Shepherds Bush and a later became a nurse at Billinge Hospital in Wigan before resigning to get married in July 1922. In 1949 Joanna Porter (neé Swarbrick) returned to nursing as a State Enrolled Assistant Nurse.
A Nurses’ League was founded at the hospital to maintain links and friendship with nurses posted to military hospitals in France, Salonika and Egypt as well as civilian hospitals elsewhere. A number of Dulwich residents joined the committee and social events were sometimes arranged. In January 1918 a dance had been organised but had to be postponed at the last minute when a Zeppelin air-raid occurred. In its place an impromptu concert was hastily arranged.
Relations between the military and civil authorities were particularly warm at Dulwich and the Army authorities praised the Southwark guardians and hospital staff for the harmonious and efficient working of the hospital. In return, the Southwark Guardians erected the memorial which has now been restored, to those who died within its walls. Altogether 12,522 wounded and sick servicemen were cared for at Southwark Military Hospital of whom 119 died; a very small percentage of those admitted and a tribute to the skill of the doctors, surgeons and nurses. The military handed the hospital back to the Southwark Guardians in April1919 and the following month civilian patients began to be transferred back to Dulwich. Major (Acting Lt Col) Bruce was demobbed and after a fortnight’s leave resumed his duties as Medical Superintendent along with the Matron and both were awarded a gratuity by the War Office. A Peace Day Celebration was arranged for the patients on 19th July 1919 when they were given an egg for breakfast and a dinner which included chicken and new potatoes, stewed fruit, jelly or blancmange with tea and cake later. The 45 children who were patients were also given toys.
New Design for Velodrome
Capita Architecture, the UK’s third largest architectural practice and planners of Cardiff’s Millennium Centre have produced (gratis) a suggested Master Plan for the Herne Hill Velodrome in Burbage Road. The new proposals include a ‘junior’ track for younger riders, a BMX track and a cycle polo pitch all within the perimeter of the existing track. Additionally they have drawn in a family cycle path around the entire perimeter of the site, a properly maintained and replanted mountain bike course to replace the existing one, a new pavilion incorporating a café, club room and changing facilities and a technical area incorporating bike storage. From the information the Journal has received, it appears that this surprising intervention came because a cycling enthusiast among Capita Architecture’s staff was able to persuade his directors to produce the plan at the firm’s expense. The great advantage of this scheme is the potential for youth cycling it offers. It might be the means by which the current impasse between the various parties over the Velodrome’s future could be reconciled.
Local residents who have never stepped foot into the Velodrome might be interested in events taking place there on Open Day, Sunday 6th June from 10.00am -5.00pm. In addition to British Cycling and Velo Club de Londrés advanced track training which will take place in the morning, visitors will be able to see the Annual Veteran Cycle Club’s events in the afternoon which will include penny-farthings and other vintage bike racing with cyclists in period dress. A very exciting event is the popular ‘Devil-take-the-hindmost’ race. Novelty races will include a slow bicycle race for ladies riding vintage machines and a 2 lap race featuring pre-1930 pneumatic tyred machines. Bring your cameras! The event will conclude with a Grand Parade of Veteran Bicycles. Admission on Open Day is free and local residents are warmly invited to inspect the site and the plans for its development.
The Man Who Never Was
Two years ago a book by Ben Macintyre titled ‘Agent Zigzag’, was reviewed in the Journal. It told the true story of Eddie Chapman, a double-agent during World War 11. As Stella Benwell, who reviewed the book pointed out, it was the fact that Chapman’s British handler was the late Ronnie Read, a MI5 agent and resident of Court Lane Gardens and a long-time member of the Trees Committee of the Dulwich Society. A recent book on the history of MI5 – ‘The Defence of the Realm’ by Christopher Andrew attributes even greater fame to Ronnie Read. It was Ronnie’s photograph which was used in the Allied deception with an operation named MINCEMEAT but made famous by the film ‘The Man Who Never Was’. Operation Mincemeat was designed to mislead the Germans by falsely suggesting the Allies were to invade Greece by dumping the body of a supposed naval officer into the Mediterranean sea off Huelva in Spain. Ronnie Reed bore a resemblance to Glyndwr Michael, the homeless Welshman who had died by ingesting rat poison and whose body was used for the deception, and his photograph was put onto the bogus identity card put on the body together with numerous top secret papers purporting to be the Allied plans.
Dulwich Society member Robin Sherlock has succeeded Dulwich resident and former Dulwich Estate chairman William Fraser OBE as the City of London’s Chief Commoner. This one year elected office carries responsibility for the City Lands and Bridge House Committees. These committees manage Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath. The Chief Commoner is also responsible for Smithfield and Billingsgate markets and the Lord Mayor’s diplomatic appointments.
Capture the Park
To mark the 120th anniversary of the creation of Dulwich Park, the Pavilion Café and Dulwich Park Friends have set about creating an archive of photographs of Dulwich Park. As Tarka Cowlam, proprietor of the Pavilion Café, puts it: “There must be hundreds of photographs of Dulwich Park languishing at the bottom of drawers, or in boxes in the attic. Or more likely, these days, held in electronic limbo on someone’s PC. All are just waiting for their chance to be seen by a wider audience. So we are keen to alert people to our project, called ‘Capture the Park’, before the pictures are lost forever. And we want to help people realise that today’s snapshot is tomorrow’s real gem.”
In addition to creating a lasting archive, the plan of the Capture the Park project is to produce some printed materials for sale – possibly greetings cards, calendars, or memorial brochures, to raise funds for the upkeep of the park. If you have material to contribute to Capture the Park, or would like to help in any way, please contact Tarka Cowlam at
Dulwich Park added a large number of pieces of adult exercise apparatus, and even outdoor table-tennis tables, on the grass alongside the carriage way and in the field beside the Children’s Playground. This has been well received by the huge numbers of the public who now flock there. Another attraction and welcome return are the boats for hire. These comprise rowing boats and peddle boats, the latter particularly appealing to children.
Village of Song
Although Dulwich has had a long tradition of enthusiasm for singing, its popularity has increased enormously of late, no doubt encouraged by a plethora of television programmes which have shown that raw amateurs can achieve creditable performances under expert tuition and coupled by the appeal of the film Mama Mia . This has led locally to the formation of two Glee Clubs, one amongst the pupils at Dulwich Hamlet School organised by Year 3 teacher Paul Hume, the other, at St Barnabas Hall, by Helen Hampton who advertised in shop windows for recruits to form the Dulwich Pop Choir last September. The Dulwich Pop Choir has become something of a phenomenon and has led to Helen founding two more choirs elsewhere. Meanwhile, the more traditional Dulwich Choral Society has enjoyed its most successful year to date with a sell-out performance of St John’s Passion at All Saints, West Dulwich.
Music of a different kind can be enjoyed at the delightful bandstand in Ruskin Park. A full summer programme of concerts has been arranged and will take place at 3pm every Sunday from 5th June-7th August.
Alleyn’s School Takeover
Alleyn’s School has taken over the lease of former Edward Alleyn Club Sports Ground in Burbage Road, thereby replicating the action of Dulwich College on its own alumni ground on Dulwich Common. The Club surrendered its lease last September and the School concluded a a new lease on the clubhouse and grounds simultaneously. The School assumed responsibility officially in March. The surrender of the original lease, which included 14 garages, to the Estate, produced a compensation sum of £85,000, most of which the Club has decided to apply to the School’s bursary fund and the remaining £9000 to the Club’s own Benevolent Fund to boost its reserves in also supplying bursaries. In paying this sum for the garages, the Estate will almost certainly be considering residential development on their footprint.
Another possible redevelopment under consideration by the Dulwich Estate is to transform the Crown & Greyhound into a boutique hotel – commercial shorthand for a small and expensive hotel with a handful of rooms. Regulars at ‘The Dog’ will be anxious about such plans.
A life-saving chain of events in Dulwich Village – Annie Price writes:
On New Year’s Day 2010 my husband Chris and I went to the Pizza Express for an evening meal. We were looking at the menu when Chris collapsed, falling forward on to the table. His spectacles clattered on to the marble table top. Time froze.
I held him in my arms and with the help of the waiters we lowered him gently on to the floor. Someone called an ambulance, tables were moved and suddenly Boris Lams, our neighbour in Pickwick Road, a consultant chest specialist, came bounding into the restaurant and took control. I sat nearby watching the resuscitation that saved his life. I wondered how Boris had appeared so quickly and later was told that a lady called Fay had rung him from the restaurant on her mobile.
As I was waiting, a young woman sat by me, reassuring me with her emphatic companionship. The stretcher carrying Chris and attended by Boris was carried into the ambulance. My new companion, Alison, and I followed in a paramedic car; Alison talked of her philosophy studies and her imminent trip to Harvard University, a welcome injection of normality. I realised that I did not have the keys to my house; that they had been left in Chris’ coat at the restaurant. Alison promptly rang her dinner companion, Nick, who went to the restaurant, picked up the keys and brought them to me. Such kindness from two complete strangers was a most precious gift. Boris stayed with Chris in the Accident and Emergency Department and remained with him until he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit. From that moment he became the hero that myths are made of. It was after midnight when we returned to Pickwick Road.
After six weeks in hospital Chris is now home and recovering well – a living tribute to Boris, Fay and others in the restaurant, together with the outstanding nurses and doctors at Kings College Hospital.
Sir James Black OM (1925-2010)
Sir James Black OM FRS, the distinguished pharmacologist, who died on 22 March, aged 85, was born and educated in Scotland and he remained distinctively Scottish, with a delicious chuckle.
He qualified in medicine at Dundee, of which university he was later Chancellor. His career alternated between universities and the pharmaceutical industry. In 1962 he discovered the first beta-blocking drug (propranolol) for treating angina, blood pressure and cardiac disease. Later, he developed cimetidine (marketed as Tagamet) to prevent peptic ulcers. They became the world’s best-selling drugs and the pharmaceutical companies, but not Sir James, made billions from them. He was described as “relieving in the laboratory more human suffering than thousands of doctors in a lifetime at the bedside….a genius…..tough, genial and a marvellous leader”.
After retiring from King’s College Medical School, he worked in new laboratories in Half Moon Lane that were named after him. Many honours came to him: FRS, a knighthood, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and finally, appointment to the exclusive 21 member Order of Merit, which is in the personal gift of The Queen. He was immensely proud of that honour and once told me he could not imagine how anyone could refuse it – as only four men have done since the Order was founded in 1902.
Stanley Martin is the author of The Order of Merit – One Hundred Years of Matchless Honour
Albert Booth (1928-2010)
Albert Booth was a resident of Woodwarde Road for some fifteen years from 1968. He was described as one of the most modest and unassuming of Cabinet ministers and a steadfast left-winger who nevertheless faithfully backed the Callaghan Labour government’s controversial wage restraint policies during the famous ‘winter of discontent’. He was appointed Chairman of the House of Commons Select Committee on Statutory Instruments from 1970-74, Minister of State for Employment 1974 and Secretary of State for Employment 1976-79. Inside the Cabinet he was often at odds with fellow ministers over membership of the Common Market towards which he was hostile. After Labour’s defeat in the 1979 election he became the opposition spokesman on transport. He was elected Party Treasurer in 1984.
Booth was born in Winchester in 1928 and was educated at St Thomas’s School. His family moved to South Shields and it was there that Booth picked up his strong Tyneside accent and where he attended a technology college, studying to be a draughtsman. He was converted to the Labour cause at an early age, being a member of the National Consultative Committee of Labour League of Youth at 15 and an election agent at 23. The following year he was Secretary of the Constituency Party in Tynemouth and a member of the Borough Council from 1962-65. After proving himself in the 1964 parliamentary election he was selected two years later for the safe Labour seat of Barrow-in-Furness which he won comfortably over the local Tory candidate. He became a member of the Tribune group and a close confident of Michael Foot, whose campaign for party leader Booth managed.
Albert Booth represented Barrow-in-Furness from 1966 until he lost his seat in 1983. This seat was always going to be a test of Booth’s conscience because of his commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament. Much of the employment in the town was connected with the defence industry and with the building of nuclear submarines. It was characteristic of Booth, and also political suicide, that he would lead a march through Barrow protesting against nuclear weapons. The electorate of Barrow chose the security of their jobs above the conscience of their MP. After his defeat he typically declined a seat in the House of Lords of which he had always been hostile, instead preferring to take the job of executive director of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport. After failing to win the Warrington South seat in the 1987 election, Booth and his wife Joan, who he had met when they were both teenage members of Labour’s League of Youth retired to Beckenham where his wife predeceased him in 2008.
Bill Hale (1930-2010)
Older members of the Society will be saddened by the news of the death of Ian (Bill) Howe. Bill was a stalwart of the Dulwich Society in the 1970s and 80’s and was an enthusiastic member of the Garden Group from the moment it was formed and it was there he made many friends including two very different but very remarkable men; Gerald Fairlie and Theo Frankel. Both were expert gardeners and both devoted to Dulwich. Bill was very pleased when he was asked to return to Dulwich to unveil the memorial stones to these two on the inner side of the wall at the entrance to the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Bill was born and grew up in North West Leicestershire, the son of Dorothy and Leslie Hale. Bill lived with his sister at the family home, ‘Bird How’, 92 College Road and after Lord Hale of Oldham’s death in 1985 the house was too large and two years later Bill and his sister decided to move back to their native Swannington. In retirement Bill continued to support local projects such as the restoration of Swannington windmill and the establishment of a stand of birch trees on Swannington Incline. ‘Bird How’ was demolished soon after Bill left, by the Dulwich Estate and the site redeveloped with six houses in a small estate named Dulwich Oaks.
Harry Carpenter OBE (1926-2010)
Neil Allen writes
My Dulwich neighbour, friend and fellow ringside boxing reporter for many years, Harry would have been amazed, even embarrassed by the warmth of the tributes he received in the press, and on radio and television, when he left us, this March, aged 84.
A master of microphone commentary, especially at amateur boxing where he was informed by his extraordinary card index system of fighters’ records, Harry was a private, often shy man, most relaxed at home, with a few press colleagues or a handful of companions in a semi private bar of his beloved Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club.
I learned of his beginnings at first hand while we shared the challenge of our first two summer Olympics – Melbourne in 1956 and, four years later in Rome, where we agreed: “This 18 year old American light-heavyweight Cassius Clay, seems a bit of a character….”
Harry recalled that the first time he ever attended boxing was as a youngster at the old Crystal Palace in the Thirties just before it was burned down. His father, also called Harry, was vice-president of a South London amateur boxing club and also a follower of “the dogs”, so Harry junior, who left Selhurst Grammar School at 15, had his very first job with the Greyhound Express, ironically when no racing was taking place because of the war. In 1941 he joined the Royal Navy and served as a telegrapher in destroyers for the rest of the hostilities.
He began writing about boxing for the weekly Sporting Record in 1950 but his first television commentary was from an amateur boxing show at the Rotax factory canteen in Willesden – a far cry, we agreed, from the world famous venues like New York’s Madison Square Garden where we remembered Joe Frazier beating Muhammad Ali (aka Clay) while Frank Sinatra was standing in front of the writers as an accredited photographer.
Outstanding at presenting both Wimbledon and major golf, Harry was earlier a staff writer for the Daily Mail from 1954 until 1962 when he joined the BBC full time. The greatest event we ever reported together, we agreed, was the Rumble in the Jungle when Ali dramatically defeated George Foreman for the world heavyweight title in the exotic setting of Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974.
Harry, who was inducted into the Royal Television Society’s Hall of Fame in 2000, was also a devoted family man, survived by his wife Phyllis and his son Clive, once an outstanding golfer at Dulwich College, who now runs his own web site business in France.
Neil Allen has reported on international sport for The Times, The London Evening Standard, The New York Times and L’Equipe of Paris.
Living In Dulwich
Journalist Maggie Brown reflects
It is something of a surprise to find that you're settled so happily into your adopted village of London that you have stopped counting the years. The fact is I have lived in Dulwich and Herne Hill for 31 years, far longer than anywhere else, and brought up four children here, but never planned it that way. I think the fact we've settled in, with no plans to move, is down to the special Dulwich effect, a cross of greenery and charm, reminiscent of an outer London suburb, with the convenience of being so close to the centre. Oh yes, and of course, the schools. But there have been some staggering changes.
This area of South London was completely unknown to me, apart from the connection with John Ruskin, when, as a business journalist at Reuters in Fleet Street, living in Highgate, the hunt to find a decent house to buy in North London proved hopeless. A number of Reuters editors then lived in Dulwich, and pointed out that if I got on a train at Farringdon, and went South, I could be in Herne Hill in a jiffy. In those hot metal days the trains even ran through the night, for the shift workers on newspapers. There remains a fair smattering of editors writers and journalists in Dulwich.
I arrived at 3.30pm on Spring afternoon, in 1978, took a peek at glorious Brockwell Park, went to view just one house, in Fawnbrake Avenue, and agreed to buy it on the spot. The old lady, who was moving to her sister's in Brighton, had been told by the estate agent the price was nineteen thousand pounds. As we ate cup cakes together, she told me eighteen thousand pounds was perfectly acceptable. It was faded, needed a lot of work, but was a glorious and solid four bedroom home with front and rear gardens. The servant's bells were in place. She warned me that there 'darkies' nearby, but no trouble. The next door house was owned by a former comic actor who'd been in Benny Hill sketches. I went home and told my husband, brought up in Holland Park, what I had done. He was shocked, but came to love that house. But it took so long for the old lady to move that we feared she never would.
So the year of waiting before taking possession of Fawnbrake Avenue were spent scouring East Dulwich, charming Crystal Palace Road, Barry Road. Believe me, there were lots of faded, beaten up houses to be had, also at bargain prices, but I was worried then by what seemed their remoteness from public transport. And, believe it or not, East Dulwich really did seem rough and edgy, while West Dulwich, now a rather overlooked part of Dulwich, seemed a much safer bet. Lordship Lane was a frontier, fine for Indian restaurants and useful iron mongers, but absolutely not the entry point into the trendy yummy mummy suburb it has changed into. Now one of my daughters lives in Rodwell Road, and a former working man's pub, The Magdalen is her pricey neighbourhood eatery.
I date the formal transformation of East Dulwich to the arrival of the Blue Mountain Cafe in Northcross Road in the early 1990s. Suddenly a trendy editor descended from Chelsea and demanded to meet me there. But the year before that happened my Rodwell Road daughter had been randomly punched to the ground by a youth on the corner of Northcross Road.
In 1984 we'd moved to a ramshackle and neglected Victorian monster of a house on East Dulwich Grove, captivated by its large garden and open views to North Dulwich Tennis Club. (I'd been mugged in Fawnbrake Avenue and the walk from the station now frightened me). The occupant of the station house attached to North Dulwich Station around the corner kept a menagerie, and used the railway sidings to graze his goat, who was sometimes a mascot for Alleyn's School. The goat used to ramble over the tennis courts to stick his head over our fence. The children's school friends used to invite themselves around, to feed the goat. The peacocks he also kept at the station house woke us in the mornings.The houses on our side were all pretty shabby in the 1980s. The vast one on the corner of East Dulwich Grove/Red Post Hill alas, had squatters. Then a fire burnt down the staircase. One evening, as I was tending to my second baby, burglars jumped like hurdlers over the fences. (In fact, burglars walked off the street, and frequently tried to break in to our house: we soon realised it was impossible to live without a burglar alarm switched on downstairs at night. My husband was also stabbed on North Dulwich station when he told off a youth for urinating down the stairs).
But instead of it being pulled down and having flats built on the garden the Dulwich magic took effect. A wealthy businessman with deep pockets from theatreland rescued the corner house in a labour of love, building the magnificent wall around the garden. The houses in between were then done up beautifully. But as Dulwich Village became swankier and City money came pulsing through, from the mid 1980s, the local shops changed dramatically. The fishmonger, greengrocer, butcher, ironmonger (where Biff is now) and food store Cullens (Oddbins now) closed and were replaced. The Post Office moved across the road to its present location into what had been Green Onions, but managed to hang on. Most recently, Francis Jevons's interior design and antiques shop was replaced by Romeo Jones. So you can buy an excellent coffee, gourmet
food by the basketful, but not the daily necessities at sensible prices. The two stalwarts of the clusters of shops are The Village Bookshop, and Mr Green's Art Stationers.
On the plus side, the start of the National Lottery sixteen years ago has helped transform treasures such as the Dulwich Picture Gallery, with its generous policies towards local Friends, and Dulwich Park itself. North Dulwich Tennis Club, which was about to sink into decrepitude, has been rescued over the past six years, and now has scores of cheery children as members. The thing that needs investigating is the continuous installation of road humps, traffic measures, and traffic lights that seem, in total, to increase traffic congestion, rather than improve it. I think the local fee paying schools such as James Allen's should deliberately start favouring local applicants. I am also mystified by the sums of money sunk into North Dulwich Station, which never seems to be fully repaired, as the ineffectual scaffolding suggests. But these are the minor irritations of living in a very nice place, too good to leave.
Maggie Brown is a media journalist for The Guardian and The Stage, and historian of Channel 4.