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.

Uncommon Dulwich

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel: 020 8299 1383, or Trevor Moore of Dulwich Park Friends at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel: 07967 000546

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.