There are well over thirty sports fields, parks and ornamental gardens in Dulwich. They are the legacy of the gift of 72 acres of land for the creation of Dulwich Park made by the Alleyn’s College Estate in 1885 and a further commitment of 127 acres as open space ‘for all time’ made in 1905. English Heritage is taking an interest in our sports grounds, to the extent that it is considering including them a book it is to publish. They are themselves surprised that such a large cluster of open space still exists in London.That these sports fields came into being is due to a happy coincidence of the end of farming in the area, the replacement of horses for transport by the motor car and the increase in the population’s leisure time. Nevertheless, the type of users of these fields has changed over the years. Apart from the three Foundation schools that were granted sports fields when they moved into new buildings between 1870-1886, most of the other fields were leased by paternalistic employers seeking to build up the health and esprit de corps of their workforce. Companies involved in banking, brewing, manufacturing and insurance first leased the grounds. Some were succeeded by the old boys associations of Alleyn’s, Dulwich College and Wilson’s Grammar School and Cambridge University Settlement.
In the past few years the last of these companies have abandoned the grounds as their workforces became more dispersed. Even more recently a former polytechnic, now a university, has relinquished use. But the grounds have soon been snapped up. There is more local community interest in using the fields, especially for youth sport in soccer, cricket and hockey. Several grounds have also been leased to Dulwich College and Dulwich Preparatory School where increased school roles have put pressure on existing grounds.
All this is good news. Good news for the health of the population, good news for the environment and if one is honest, good news for surrounding property prices. The further good news concerns Dulwich Woods, part of which the London Wildlife Trust has run so well for the past thirty years at Sydenham Hill Nature Reserve. Here, through the co-operation and match funding of the Dulwich Estate, the dew pond is being restored and the Ambrook stream which flows into it enhanced. As you will read elsewhere in this issue, the total number of species recorded in the Woods has reached 783 and Dulwich Wood comes 41st in the top 100 woods in the country.
The Dulwich Society has also played a part in environmental projects, most recently in November when, assisted by volunteers from the London Wildlife Trust, it replanted and restored the hedge in Gallery Road.
One of the benefits of the former joint Lib Dem/Conservative Council administration was the introduction of Community Councils. This devolved some Council decision making to the local level – anticipating by several years the current coalition government’s localism and ‘big society’ agenda. However, as part of their money saving proposals the current Labour administration is looking to cut back on them. This would be very unfortunate as a recent event clearly demonstrated.At a Community Council Meeting in September, one specifically intended to discuss cuts in council services such as libraries, the meeting was given an unscheduled report by ‘Southwark Events’ informing us that the Council intended to spend over £50,000 on a one hour firework event in Dulwich Park – they had already briefed a ‘local’ theatre group to organise it (one based in another borough, Greenwich) and we were told that was that. Of course, in these days of political correctness it was not actually called a firework display, and there was no mention of Guy Fawkes, but a firework display was what it was. The Council were apparently unaware that there were to be at least four other major firework events the same weekend within half a mile of the park and they were going to it on Friday 4th rather than Saturday 5th like everyone else.
Unfortunately ‘Southwark Events’, the organisers, had forgotten to tell the local ward councillors about it, and most of the other local interested parties – they did at least have some preliminary discussion with the Dulwich Park Friends but that was all. Local councillors were, quite rightly, up in arms, and none of the local amenity groups were particularly enthusiastic – an event for upwards of 3000 people on a potentially wet early winter night in a heritage park did not seem, on the face of it, a great idea. In the end there were so many objections that the Council was forced to back down – a good result for the park, and a lesson for the Council that early consultation is always worthwhile.
However, the real problem is of course that times are hard and the Council does need to cut back – closing ‘Southwark Events’ could be a start perhaps, but the Council want to take a percentage from every service - and Community Councils are no different. A not very widely published ‘on line’ Council survey (why is it assumed that everyone is on the internet?) asked what suggestions residents had to save money on Community Councils - the options did not of course include keeping them and cutting elsewhere!
Community Councils are the one forum where local residents can influence Council policy and they have been a success in Dulwich. It would be bad to lose them – and we have been reminded what can happen if major decisions are made at the centre without local involvement.
The historic Dulwich Millpond is a reminder of Dulwich’s past, when there was a windmill on the corner of College Road and Dulwich Common, and Pond Cottages was a tile works rather than a row of bijou houses. The pond is where the clay to make the tiles was dug from and, when work stopped in the early eighteenth century, it filled up with water. It is an important local amenity for flora and fauna but the water is now virtually stagnant and the pond needs remedial work.
Following much discussion with various experts the Dulwich Estate has now prepared a scheme to deal with it. A bathymetric survey revealed a build-up of some 1200m3 of silt which needs to be removed in order to improve the water quality and a silt trap will then be installed to reduce the risk of this happening in the future.
The works will be carried out in autumn 2012. An ecological survey confirmed that carrying out the dredging phase at this time would minimise the potential disturbance of wildlife and vegetation during the dredging phase,
The costs of this major project will be recovered through the Scheme of Management Charge in September 2012.
I would like to share my views on the benefits of installing solar photovoltaics panels (solar PV) on your roof to reduce your electricity bills and at the same time contribute to the UK’s target to reduce our greenhouse gases by at least 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 . The likelihood of another harsh winter, of escalating fuel and other household prices makes this an urgent issue for me.
As a scientist and resident of Dulwich of 15 years, I am constantly seeking ways to reduce my energy consumption. I have installed double glazing and insulated my loft and cavity walls. I now want to make solar PV my next long term investment and have applied for a licence from The Dulwich Estate for permission to install them. Solar PV does not depend on bright sunshine and should not be confused with solar thermal panels that heat hot water.
A contractor estimated that I would need a 2.5kWpeak system costing approximately £10,500. It will provide me with an annual financial benefit of £1,083 that is equivalent to an annual rate of return of 10.4% but the reduced tariff may mean a rate of return closer to 5% .
There are pros and cons of any type of renewable energy. For solar PV, the pros are:
- Reduces your electricity bills and carbon footprint
- Pays for all the electricity you generate even if you don’t use it as you can sell it back to the grid
- Increases the value of your home
- Panels are low maintenance and have a life expectancy of about 25 years
- Protection by the internationally recognised quality assurance scheme, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme . Your solar PV system and installer must be accredited to the MCS for you to be eligible for the FIT.
The cons are:
- High initial investment of £8,000 - £14,000
- South-facing unshaded roof with a pitch angle of about 30 degrees
- Efficiency depends on the number of light hours and climate
- The inverter is likely to need replacing after 8-10 year; current cost is £1,000
- Roof must be strong enough to take the weight of the solar panels
If you are thinking of working on or replacing your roof, then think of solar roof tiles, which generate electricity like solar panels. Otherwise panels attached onto the roof are the preferred and most cost effective option.
I have received some excellent advice from three Dulwich residents who have successfully installed solar PV. No doubt there are many more skilled and talented residents who have installed solar PV and other renewable technologies. I am interested to learn more but keeping up to date with the fast pace of change is a challenge. The Internet and social media are great ways to share this knowledge and act on it. For example, the Mulbery School for Girls in north London is among the finalists of the 2010-11 Rolls-Royce Science Prize in the 11-16 year old category . They have refurbished two south facing glass houses to grow plants and are planning to install a solar PV system to meet their electricity needs. The project aims to make a visible link between energy generation and consumption, raise awareness of these technologies and energy use.
I congratulate local groups such as The Dulwich Society for all its work that helps to shape the future development of Dulwich and Dulwich Going Greener for actively raising awareness of climate change and identifying opportunities for positive action.
Installing solar PV will reduce my electricity bills. I believe that we have a responsibility to act now and I don’t think that we can bury our heads in the sand and leave it to the next generation. With growing unemployment, solar PV also offers opportunities for our young people to use and extend their skills to gain employment. Should we take advantage of Government support to growth in the low carbon sectors such as 1,000 new apprenticeships through the Green Deal , support for community projects and other incentives to support small businesses? Can Dulwich become a ‘beacon of excellence’ for integrating renewable energy into its homes and buildings? I believe that we can benefit from using solar energy so that we pay less for our electricity and are confident that we are contributing to our 2020 and 2050 greenhouse gas targets.
Kings College Hospital - Marjory Warren Ward
There is a new ‘healing environment ‘ at Kings. Over the past year Emma Ouldred, Dementia Nurse Specialist at Kings has been working with a dedicated project team to create a sensory room in this ward. The room will provide a relaxing environment for patients with dementia. Using sights and sounds, combined with a redesign of the entire ward, it will help prevent patients from becoming agitated or distressed during their stay at Kings.
Dementia is more common in people aged 65 and over, although it can affect younger people too. Symptoms include loss of memory, judgement and even the ability to speak. It affects not only the patient but also loved ones, who in their role as carers can see their relationship with their partner or relative change immeasurably.
The Friends of Kings charity has agreed to donate significant funds from a legacy from the estate of the late Rosa Davis; a long-serving member of the Dulwich Society who had a keen interest in gardens, trees and wildlife, towards transforming the ward environment. Further contributions will be made from the Kings Fund and the Kings Trust. There will be better signage, lighting and seating and artwork is being developed by patients, visitors and staff in collaboration with Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Dulwich Picture Gallery’s successful Urban Youth Programme has unveiled Future Couture, an original Fashion Programme. Following creative workshops over the summer, the programme’s young participants modelled their creations in and around the Gallery in October in a professional fashion shoot. It followed the successful project Art Slam, a partnership between the Gallery and the youth organisation SE1 United last year.
The Gallery’s Urban Youth Programme brought young people to the Gallery to seek fashion inspiration through the paintings. A guided tour focussed on the meaning of clothes in the permanent collection, and how current designers such as Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano reinterpret the past in their own contemporary collections. Choosing Gallery paintimgs for inspiration, participants designed their own creations to re-work, transform and re-imaging clothing the Gallery’s collection of Old Masters.
Fashion workshops were overseen by Carol Wright, a professional clothes designer working in the film industry who has had recent commissions by Johnny Depp and Jude Law. With her expertise young people learned how to develop an idea and transform it into original clothing – breathing new life into Old Masters to create imaginative fashion for today. Many are keen to pursue a career in fashion and receiving personal tuition from Carol was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Unfortunately the photo shoot for the project had to be cancelled due to the riots taking place in London and the strict curfews imposed on the areas where the participants live. The Gallery says that this sadly highlights the need for more Urban Youth Programmes which seek to directly work with disaffected young people who otherwise might become part of gang culture by offering an alternative, brighter and better future.
Heather Rankine 1941-2011
Heather Rankine was born into a long established Dulwich family where her father, grandfather and two uncles were all local doctors. The house of her childhood stood in Half Moon Lane and was famous for the ancient and huge elm which grew in the front garden.
She became a governor of JAGS in 1981, serving for a period of twenty years. She was also associated with the school’s Old Girls’ Association becoming a vice-president in 1998. It was partly through her initiative that the very successful JAGS sports club originated.
Heather was, for fifteen years, a Trustee of the Dulwich Estate, as a nominee of JAGS, and where she was noted for her perseverance in getting to grips with the minutiae of its accounts and decision making. When she joined the Board of Trustees she was the sole female, out of a membership of fourteen, a situation which remained the same for the next five or so years. She also served on the various committees through which the Board operates including the Scheme of Management, making time to attend the monthly meetings to consider applications for changes to property and again doing her homework. It was not unknown for her to have paid a prior visit to a property in question in order that she could fully understand the implications of the changes proposed. She had the distinction of becoming the first female Chairman of the Board of Trustees in its history.
Ronald Gray 1929-2011
Dr Colin Niven writes:
It was an immense privilege to speak in the Chapel on 5th October at the Funeral Service and Celebration of the life of Ronald Gray. Personally, out of the thousands of people I have met, I knew beyond question that I had never met a nicer, more entertaining, or more impressive person than Ronnie. For the record I felt I should enquire of mutual friends, their opinion of him in an unlikely attempt to produce a balanced view. It was a vain task, for literally everybody said he was simply the most charming and loveable man they had ever met.Alleyn’s School owes more to Ronnie Gray than anyone else in its history. As Chairman of the Alleyn’s section of the Joint Board of Governors of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, chaired by Sir Colin Cole, Garter King of Arms, he worked tirelessly to improve the school’s lot, which culminated in 1995 when it achieved its independence and stood proudly alongside the College, to which he always paid loyal and proper tribute for what has been a very fruitful and happy partnership. Now Ronnie became Chairman of the Alleyn’s Board of Governors and led an exceptional group of men and women, among the most prestigious in the country, with marvellous skill. Nudging, reasoning, cajoling, guiding, controlling, deciding amidst gales of laughter, he oversaw so many important developments.
Encouraging the appointment of excellent staff, the academic results saw the school take its place among the highest in the land. Very often present at cultural events, he worked hard to give us a new hall for plays and assemblies, a new library, a sports hall, the new Junior School that hugely increased the size and potential of the school, a huge new classroom block, and so on, clearing the way for the great new theatre. In that time he worked closely with Derek Fenner and his two successors, firstly myself, then Colin Diggory, and all of us loved having as a new neighbour, two doors away, this tremendous source of wisdom, kindness and shrewd advice.
Ronald George Gray was born in Edinburgh and attended the Royal High School. After National Service he went to Edinburgh University before joining Unilver. He remained with the company, becoming head of marketing and sales and later chairman of its toiletry and fragrance subsidiary Elida Gibbs. After being based with that company in Germany, he returned to the UK to become chairman of Lever Brothers 1984-89.
Dad’s Army and Dulwich
by Brian Green
Earlier this year a manuscript was sent to the Dulwich Society by a descendent of Dr Guy Bousfield who lived in Dulwich at the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1972 a small library of books was cleared from a house which he had owned in West Sussex. Among some of the more interesting volumes, was found a diary for the year 1940, with entries made between 6th July-31st December 1940 and two additional entries for 1-2 January 1941 in the memoranda pages at the back. The period covered by the diary was The Battle of Britain.
The entries related to periods of guard duty of the Local Defence Volunteers (Home Guard) at the post at Dulwich Golf Club and are written in different hands, presumably by the sentries themselves. The diary has been transcribed, retaining as much as possible of the original apart from some rudimentary ‘tidying-up’ so as to make the text as readable as possible.
Dr Bousfield, one of the unit’s original members, was an habitual collector of anything interesting that caught his eye, and quite probably, when perhaps a more official log was introduced, he simply ‘acquired’ the old record with a view to preserving it for his own purpose. All one can say to this is “Just as well he did” because hardly of any of this material has survived.
What the diary lets us see is how individuals behaved in periods of quiet as well as imminent danger. Like most sentry duties, a great deal of the time, certainly in the opening two months covered by the diary, was uncomfortable and boring. Duties for each two man guard were from 10pm- 2am and 2am to 6am in July which by the following January had been modified to that of a single sentry from 22.00 (note the introduction of the 24 hour clock) with guard duties lasting only an hour and a half; except of course that because of nightly air-raids there were constant alerts when the whole guard was turned out, so sleep became a matter of the odd cat-nap. And then, when dawn broke normality returned; the members of the LDV, now renamed The Home Guard, took up their daily civilian jobs and the golf club ground staff reported for work in maintaining the course.
At the beginning of the war there had been some scepticism in military circles that Britain might be evacuated but the spring of 1940 witnessed the fall of Belgium and the Netherlands and the invasion of France and Norway by Germany and alarmed the government. The Local Defence Volunteers (nicknamed Look, Duck, Vanish!) were formed by a government official announcement made on 13th May 1940 inviting men aged between 17-65 who were not in military service to volunteer to defend their country against invasion and enrol at the nearest police station. Two days earlier an article in the Sunday Pictorial asked if the government had considered training golfers in rifle shooting to eliminate stray enemy parachutists! When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister he ordered the Local Defence Volunteers to be renamed The Home Guard and the announcement was made on 22nd July 1940. It was not a popular decision in the opinion of some in the War Office largely in view of the fact that 1 million LDV armbands had been printed and there was concern over the ad hoc organisation of the new force.
A number of the members of the Dulwich & Sydenham Golf Club responded to the invitation to join the LDV, and must have suggested that their clubhouse at the top of Grange Lane with its wide-ranging views over London would make an excellent defensive and vantage point. Of course the appeal of using their beloved clubhouse as a barracks and perhaps protecting it from intruders must also have been irresistible. Also, the unit had certain exclusivity in its early days; at least four of its members were doctors. In addition to Guy Bousfield, there was his friend and colleague, Dr King-Brown, with whom he was conducting research into the treatment of diphtheria by delivering immunity without the use of injections, through the taking of sweetened pastilles and with whom he also shared the same dug-out when on guard duty. Another doctor was Dr Bertie Rosborough, a local GP who lived in Half Moon Lane, and also a Dr McGrath. For a time Lionel Logue, speech therapist to King George VI was a member of the unit. Then there was Frank Egan, a wine importer who lived at Bell Cottage, A.S. Ellyatt, the developer of houses in Village Way and Burbage Road and one of several local builders who volunteered. There was also R T Brunton who lived in some style at nearby ‘Stonehills’ in College Road. The more talented golfers included H B Tiley, who after the war would become Club Captain, although several others shared this honour in other years and one was elected Club President. Their names are commemorated on the boards in the present Clubhouse.
The introduction of the LDV coincided with a period of anxiety about the presence of Fifth Columnists everywhere and it is likely that the members of the newly formed unit were all terribly keen to do their bit to combat this perceived danger. The new organisation, even after it was named the Home Guard, did not give its members any rank until 1942 all being termed ‘Volunteer’ and one suspects that the unit was run more like a committee. Unlike Captain Mainwaring, no individual self-appointed himself as the Commanding Officer, although Guy Bousfield must have taken the lead to some extent, even if it was only to start the diary. To show the accuracy of the TV series ‘Dad’s Army’ written by Jimmy Perry and the late David Croft, the Dulwich unit also had the local undertaker, Mr Yeatman as a member while another, reminiscent of Private Godfrey, was still waited on at his home by his elderly uniformed maid. Derek Mills as the youngest member was the equivalent to Private Pike. Andrew Rankine, another founder member who later joined the regular army, was in tears of laughter when he saw ‘Dad’s Army’, he told his nephew Ian,” That’s just how it was”.
Rather like the friction which existed between the ARP warden and Captain Mainwaring’s Warmington-on-sea Home Guard unit, the real-life one stationed at the Golf Club had an uneasy (at times) relationship with the regular army’s anti-aircraft battery which was sited only about a hundred yards away – “Very bad blackout observed in R.A. (Royal Artillery) hut opposite ridge at top of 4th fairway from 10.35pm-10.55pm. Proceeded on numerous occasions to corner of hedge on 5th fairway by path without at any time challenge from R.A. sentry. Battery could easily be entered at any time from this direction. Phoned police at West Dulwich to request Yellow Warnings be telephoned.” A more fractious incident occurred a couple of months later, at the height of the Blitz. During an Air Raid Alert voices were heard by the sentry in the darkness of evening : “On investigation two guards were challenged and stated they were looking for Sgt Quinn – shortly afterward another person was challenged and who stated he was Sgt Quinn – no one on duty knew him, and his statement was confirmed on ‘phone’ to Battery – Sgt was a little peeved at being held for identification, but incident ended amicably and in an orderly like way.”
Perhaps the ultimate put-down was over the use of the indoor loo in the Clubhouse. Volunteer Ellyatt wanted to know if the searchlight personnel operating the Locator Post had permission to use this loo which was clearly a Home Guard perk. The answer was an emphatic “no” written in the Log in pencil – “outside Lav..”
In another incident, a few nights after some mysterious gun shots were heard in Dulwich Woods, there was concern about a potential intruder or Fifth Columnist and a curious figure was seen moving towards the Club House. When challenged there was no response – but the figure, on investigation turned out to be the Club’s horse, used for pulling the mower.
In addition to the neighbouring Royal Artillery anti-aircraft battery, there was also nearby a Royal Air Force barrage balloon site manned by WAAF personnel. The Home Guard liaised with both of these. Suspicious lights, individuals and notification of bomb damage and unexploded bombs were reported to the police.
Lights which could attract the attention of enemy bombers were a source of constant concern and rather than wait until the police investigated the source, those on guard normally carried out their own search. Usually, when the unit investigated the incidents they were found to be illuminated road signs which could not be switched off, or temporary red lights warning traffic of bomb craters in the road.
By the time the Battle of Britain had broken out, the unit was armed with rifles and was issued with thirty rounds of ammunition each night from the store which was contained in a cigar box at the Clubhouse. One night in September at around 9pm a parachute mine was seen falling close to the 7th green and was followed by a large explosion. Two minutes later lights were observed showing at The Grange in nearby Grange Lane. Lights showing at the Grange had been a constant source of annoyance to the unit, and now with damage to the Clubhouse caused by the parachute mine, it was no doubt felt that a German bomber had seen the lights below and released his bomb. Messrs Egan and Dean who were on duty were despatched to investigate and rather precipitously, shot the offending lights out. There is no entry in the diary of the reactions of the owner of The Grange.
That incident did not conclude concern about The Grange, which was actually the nearest building to the Clubhouse and only a few hundred yards from the unit’s dug out. One member was convinced that the high white gable of the house was visible to enemy bombers on moonlit nights and a danger to the battery and suggested to the commanding officer that it should be camouflaged. Col. Cooper approved this suggestion and asked it to be recorded in the Log – a copy to reach him….eventually.
Of course in the midst of the Blitz all comparison with TV’s ‘Dad’s Army’ ended . The Dulwich Home Guard unit at the Golf Club had a grandstand view over London from their height of some 250’ above sea level and overlooking London. There is a graphic entry for Monday 9th September when an air raid warning sounded soon after eight o’clock in the evening. Guy Bousfield who was on duty recorded in the Log:
Many heavy air attacks from W by N to N.E. along a line across the Thames. Heavy fires apparently beyond Blackfriars, Tower Bridge, and over docks caused at intervals and blazing till dawn. At 03.55hrs a very violent but short conflagration occurred in N.E. illuminating whole sky, suggestive of large gasworks. Batteries came into action against enemy aircraft caught in searchlights on several occasions. The shooting was very accurate.
“Sunday 15th September 1940 21.15 hrs unexploded bombs dropped direct hit Dulwich College - 23.25hrs unexploded bomb _ to 1 mile away – 23.30hrs ‘Molotov Bread Basket (a large bomb containing numerous incendiary bombs) W.N.W – 23.40hrs same again S.W. far off – 23.44hrs same again S.W. by W far off – 23.58 brilliant flashes illuminating sky behind fires N.W. lasted 3-4 minutes – 00.23hrs bomb fairly near Post.
Hostile plane activity during night; very active AA (anti-aircraft) fire. Dug-out sump had to be pumped out. Water coming in down wall near telephone.”
There is a curious entry on 8th October – Note: Attention is drawn to the increasing rustiness of the Club rifle & it is suggested that oily rags should be available for use in wet weather. The note implies that a sole rifle was the unit’s only weapon. The note was presumably seen by Col Cooper, who on a visit a couple of nights later requested that copies of the Post nightly reports be sent to HQ weekly. Did it expedite the arrival of new and more effective weapons? Hardly, Harvey Packer complained that the rifle issued to him a few days later, (Eddystone No.497454) had a defective spring in the cocking –piece and was useless. As winter drew on more weapons became available and bayonets were issued and a demonstration given on a Browning automatic rifle “….the main features grasped by all”.
There were certainly plenty of opportunities for the Home Guard to blaze away with what serviceable weapons they had. The main object of their aim was the flares dropped by the Luftwaffe to illuminate potential targets and to identify barrage balloons. Flares were shot out over the Clubhouse by the unit in October. The nights were clear and there was moonlight, ideal conditions for enemy bombers and the neighbouring AA battery was in action every night. A close call came on 14th October when two bombs exploded within a mile to the south. A Messerschmitt 109 dived fairly low over the Post just afterwards. There was great enemy air activity that night and to make matters worse a barrage balloon came down on the 13th fairway and the unit had to secure it. The Home Guard joined the RAF and Royal Artillery sentries in continuing to bang away at falling flares.
The quality of the unit’s dug-out was somewhat lacking. The corrugated iron over the entrance reflected the moonlight and a suggestion was made that it should be painted instead of relying on a mackintosh cape for camouflage. The suggestion was naturally referred to HQ. The dug-out also had a propensity to flood during rain and had to be pumped out. To add to the discomfort, the hose attached to the pump split one night making hand baling a necessity. As the nights grew colder a paraffin stove was relied upon for heating but on occasions the supply of paraffin failed to arrive.
About the last week of October another Molotoff Breadbasket exploded on the golf course, scattering some 100 incendiaries over a wide area. Several were extinguished by the guard and the battery. The Log, written up by Volunteer Fogg, who was clearly an Alfred, Lord Tennyson fan notes “…H. G. Welsh, with fires in front of him – fires to the right of him – and fires to the left of him, rushed forward carrying two buckets of sand, jumped a ditch and fell into a bunker straining both ankles severely. After receiving First Aid he carried on conscientiously with his turn of duty…”
Heavy night-raiding by the Luftwaffe continued. On 8th December there was an Alert as the guard took over at 7.30pm which lasted until 10.00pm. The unit fired their rifles at the planes overhead. Many incendiaries dropped at 11.50pm and midnight: at one time 12 fires were counted: one particularly bad one in the neighbourhood of Lordship Lane: one in the neighbourhood of Brixton. The Grove Lane was hit & St Giles Hospital. High Explosive dropped in Dulwich Park. This was as heavy a night’s activity as there has been. (signed R S S Mitchell)
As Christmas 1940 approached there was a light snowfall and plenty of aircraft activity on the 23rd December with bombs apparently being dropped on the Course. An inspection was made and some debris was found in a ditch near the 12th green. The neighbouring AA guns maintained their firing through the night. Christmas Eve’s guard was shared by Messrs Rankine, Ellyat, Bousfield, King-Brown and Inglis. There was no alert and nothing abnormal to report. When the new guard took over on Christmas Day they enjoyed a similarly quiet and peaceful night. Very heavy raids resumed on 27th December. Interestingly, New Year’s Eve passed with no air raid warnings or anything to disturb the peaceful night.
The diary ends on 2nd January 1941 with the entry “Wot about a new diary?”
Saturday 3rd at 7.30pm. Dulwich Choral Society and Dulwich Festival Orchestra CONCERT conducted by Aidan Oliver. Fantasia on Christmas Carols – Vaughan Williams, Hansel and Gretel Overture – Humperdinck, In terra pax – Finzi, Gloria – Polenc. Soloists: Caroline MacPhie soprano, Marcus Farnsworth baritone . All Saints Church, Rosendale Road SE 21. Tickets £16 (£8 for under 17’s) from The Art Stationers, 31 Dulwich Village SE 21 7BN, South London Music, Grove Vale, SE 22 8DY or call 0207 274 6159
Thursday 8th Dulwich Picture Gallery Masterpiece of the Month Lecture – Domenichino: The Adoration of the Shepherds by Jessica Saraga. Linbury Room 7.30pm £10 (includes glass of wine)
Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – Arms and the Man: Heraldry Old and New by Peter Dewar. 8pm James Allen’s Girls’ School 6th Form Lecture Theatre.
Tuesday 13th Dulwich Picture Gallery lecture - Soane and After revisited by Giles Waterfield 7pm. Linbury Room. Tickets £10 (concs £9) includes a glass of wine.
Thursday 12th Dulwich Decorative & Fine Arts Society Lecture – Wedding Presents of the Italian Renaissance by Launce Gribbin. 8pm James Allen’s Girls School 6th Form Lecture Theatre.
What is arguably one of the most instantly recognisable trees on the urban landscape, Araucaria araucana, with its stout stem, pyramidal or rounded head, mildly ascendant branches and spirally arranged, leathery leaves has an architecture few hardy trees can match. Young trees are remarkable in their symmetry of habit and are usually only of one sex and whether you have a male or female is not made apparent until it achieves a reasonable age. Female trees will produce large globular cones that tend to disintegrate on the tree as they ripen. Ultimately, they might achieve 30 metres in height with a spread of more than 14 metres.
It was first introduced into this country by Archibald Menzies (1754-1842) the Scottish surgeon, botanist and naturalist in 1795 when he was recruited to serve under George Vancouver (1757-1798) on his voyage of survey aboard HMS Discovery. Menzies pocketed some unusual nuts put on for desert whilst he and the ship’s officers were dining with the Governor of Chile in Valparaiso, he sowed them on board ship and this succeeded in bringing five live plants to England. One of these existed at Kew until 1892. The plant was reintroduced by William Lobb (1809-1864) in 1844 when he was working for the Exeter based nursery owner James Veitch. Araucaria araucana originates in Southern Chile and Southern Argentina where large stands of these trees can be seen in the landscape. The tree gets its botanical name from both the district of Southern Chile where it is found and the Indian tribe who live there. The International Union for Conservation of Nature consider this species to be ‘vulnerable’, that is to say prone to loss of populations due to removal for the creation of grazing land or the felling of trees for timber.
After its reintroduction, the Chile Pine or more familiarly, the Monkey Puzzle was extensively planted in Victorian times, sold by many distinguished nurseries of the day as something a bit more unusual and therefore is often now found as a mature specimen planted in parks and private gardens in England. It was given its common epithet after an owner in the 19th century said that its unusual branches would puzzle even a monkey to climb.
The seeds, which are the size of an almond, can be eaten where they have a slight taste of pine nut and the consistency a cashew. The wood is used in joinery and carpentry, it having a pale yellowish colour, good quality and polishes beautifully.
The young specimen photographed grows in Alleyn Road and is typical of the growth habit expected of the tree growing in this part of Britain. The other, larger specimen can be seen in Crystal Palace Road, in East Dulwich and this one retains many of its lower branches. Ordinarily, it prefers a good deep loam and usually does better on the west side of the country.
Last Spring the visit to Buckingham Palace Garden was oversubscribed and Mark Lane has offered to lead us personally again next year, in either April or May. Details and an application form will be available in the next issue of the Journal, published in March.
Jill Manuel, Chairman Trees Committee
The Centre for Wildlife Gardening is hosting a ‘Tree Day’ on Sunday 4th December 11am-4pm, 28 Marsden Road, SE 15 4EE. Come and enjoy a day of tree-themed family fun and discover the Centre for Wildlife Gardening to celebrate the splendour of our native species. There will be talks, gardening advice, wood arts & crafts, cakes and treats and exciting activities for children of all ages. Admission free.
Although at the time of writing the south east is having to recover from drought, the middle part of the summer was wet enough for the ground feeding birds such as Blackbirds and Robins, whose first broods may have failed due to the dry spring, to achieve some success with second broods. Hence there were some juveniles to be seen in our gardens in late summer, with some but not many young Starlings as compared with past years. But this summer illustrates that drought, almost as much as cold, can be a hazard for our wildlife and a birdbath is potentially as valuable as a feeder.
There has been discussion as to whether the rapid growth in population of Parakeets is presenting a danger to our native wildlife by use of available nest holes, and a paper in the British Journal of Ornithology magazine from Belgium suggested that there was damage to their population of Nuthatches from use of available nest sites by Parakeets. We do have a small population of Nuthatches which may be seen in Dulwich Park and the woods and sometimes coming into our gardens using nut feeders. For those unfamiliar with them they are an attractive Starling size bird with blue grey wings and back and a rusty orange breast. They are not always easy to see but have a quite loud fluty call and are notable in that they are the only tree trunk climbing bird that can turn round to go downwards. Woodpeckers and Tree Creepers can only go upwards and have to fly back to the bottom of a tree trunk to start again. So far the British populations of hole nesting birds seem to be unaffected by these green alien Parakeets and they will hopefully have to be absorbed as part of our accepted fauna, as indeed are urban foxes and feral pigeons, whose ancestors were the Rock Doves of north west Scotland. But if you are an unreformed alien hater a visit to the delightful Mandarin Ducks in Belair might change your mind.
The most notable records this year were Hobbys This small falcon is a summer migrant and both single birds and a family of three were seen in August and September giving the impression that they may have bred locally. They do now breed in good numbers in the south of England and as they are partial to House Martins to supplement their usual diet of dragon flies they may come into town for a gourmet meal. They are immensely aerobatic and the sight of a family of Hobbys hawking dragon flies and eating them on the wing is one of our spectacles.
Even more unusual was a Grey Partridge in Pond Mead off Half Moon Lane. We did have another in Half Moon Lane a few years ago. Grey Partridges are not common these days in their natural habitat of cornfields so what these birds were doing in Half Moon Lane is anyone’s guess.
Of wildlife other than birds to report Hedgehogs diminishing nationally and not recently reported in north Dulwich are still to be found in and around College Road. They need to be able to transfer between back gardens, otherwise too many stray on to the road and get run over. So garden fences need gaps.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder (tel: 020 7274 4567)