The Dulwich Society Journal for Winter 2019.
The concern of parents of children attending Dulwich Hamlet and Dulwich Village Infants’ schools at the dangerous levels of air pollution in the vicinity of both schools is totally understandable. There seems little doubt that air pollution has given rise to an increase in asthma and lung related illnesses.
As a consequence of their concern, a number of parents have formed a ‘Clean Air For Dulwich’ group and is suggesting to Southwark Council that the stretch of Dulwich Village between Turney Road and East Dulwich Grove be closed for one hour during school opening and closing times.
Have we not been down this, or similar routes before?
Older residents will remember the choking smog of earlier winters, when fog combined with sulphurous polluted air caused by millions of coal burning fires in household grates. In Dulwich, it was impossible at times to see more than three feet in the worst conditions and thousands of Londoners died. The problem led to the Clean Air Act (1956) when smokeless fuel replaced coal and special fireplaces were required to be fitted in every house. (This was followed by the Clean Air Act 1993 which banned the emission of dark smoke from any chimneys.)
Fast forward another generation, and parents in the 1970’s and 80’s at these two very same schools found their children were exposed to high concentrations of lead particles in the air. High levels of lead can cause brain damage in children as well as hypertension and learning disorders. The problem was mitigated by the removal of lead from petrol which had been added to improve performance of petrol driven cars.
The next successful campaign was the restricting of the sale of cigarettes and the banning of smoking on public transport, restaurants, pubs, places of public entertainment and the workspace in 2007. It is surprising how quickly the smoking ban was accepted, even in such hardened smoking areas such as Scotland.
The current problem is already being addressed by the Mayor of London with the announcement of the banning of older and therefore more polluting vehicles within the area of the South Circular Road in 2021. So what more can be done? Schools might consider opening later in the morning when the rush hour is finished (in Dulwich, certainly by 9.30am, and the lost time made up by removing some days from the holiday lists.
The closure of roads, as has been suggested by some Dulwich parents, would bring London to a standstill. It would be impossible to acquiesce to some areas’ closure and not to others. Schools on the South Circular Road (Oakfield and Rosemead), or Half Moon Lane/East Dulwich Grove (Judith Kerr and JAGS) or Lordship Lane/Dog Kennel Hill (Harris Junior, Goose Green JMI and Dog Kennel Hill JMI) are equally affected. Parents with children in those schools could certainly demand equal treatment. Pressure must therefore be directed firstly at local and national government for them to pursue the problem at source.
In the meantime, parents could reduce their reliance on online purchase which generates huge amounts of delivery traffic for single small items.
A review of the Charity Commission’s website describes the Dulwich Estate’s activities as managing ‘the endowment assets of the charity in the long-term interests of all the beneficiaries of the charity. This is measured by the increase in the annual income distribution to the beneficiaries and the maintenance of the value of net assets.’ Last year’s accounts, available on the Estate’s website, generally makes for positive reading and confirms that it generally does exactly that, though the beneficiaries’ income in the year 2018-19 was reduced over previous years - from £7.8m down to £7.2m. £6.0m of this went to the three Dulwich foundation schools, £1.0m to the other schools that the charity supports, £110,000 to the Almshouse Charity and £30,000 to Christ's Chapel.
Going into the figures in more detail throws up some interesting facts. Property rental income (which is still almost entirely from Dulwich residential and commercial property) contributed 81% of the £11.5m total income, the Tollgate 2% and investments the balance of 17%. Staff costs (including NI and pension contributions) were down from £2.0m to £1.8m, largely as a result of reduced pension contributions - average staff numbers were up slightly at 29 (27 last year).
The College Road tollgate income (before running costs) reached a high point in 2018 with receipts of £294,000. The figures for 2018-19 show a 30% fall to £201,000 - are traffic levels declining or has the rise in price to £1.20 been a step too far? The ‘profit’ after running expenses for 2018-19 was £59,000 compared with £126,000 the previous year.
The Estate’s website also expands on the Charity Commission ‘activities’ to include ‘maintaining the vibrant neighbourhoods unique to Dulwich’ and confirms that it is ‘committed to building relationships with residents, tenants, customers, schools and communities.’ Since the appointment of a new CEO, some welcome changes
have been made. The introduction of regular monthly surgeries, the quarterly newsletter, the development of the new Village orchard, and the new information signs to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the foundation are clearly improvements. The same goes for the relocation of the Scheme of Management office to the Old College - which has meant longer office opening times and has also freed up the Old Grammar School for use by the alms-house residents.
On other changes the jury is still out. Staff restructuring is leading to some problems in the maintenance of the 1950s and 60s estates; it has taken nearly three years for a new convenience store to open in the Village and, regrettably, there appears to be no apparent improvement in the Estate’s working relationship with Southwark Council. However, perhaps the main concern remains communication. There have been complaints that there is no follow-up on items discussed at the monthly surgeries, and even the Society has problems in getting answers to genuine queries. Some are relatively minor, such as why has it taken over a year for the Estate’s Surveyors to start to repair the cracked pier in the Burial Ground wall? Others are more substantial such as why the Estate is not pursuing the redevelopment of the Grove Tavern site when it has acknowledged that, after several years of discussion, there is a tacit understanding in place with the Council. Why should one of the main gateways into Dulwich continue to look derelict?
But, perhaps the most crucial question is why the Estate has not been more proactive in dealing with breaches of the Scheme of Management? The Society’s view is that the Scheme is a good thing in principle but it is pointless without speedy and equitable enforcement.
Please note that subscriptions for 2020 are due on January 1st. Subscriptions remain at £10 per household. Most members pay by standing order and if so, you do not need to take any action.
However, if you pay your subscription by cheque (or cash) then please send it, payable to The Dulwich Society, to me at the address below. To save on costs of posting reminders it would be appreciated if this was done promptly. If the Society has not received payment by the end of March then names will be removed from the membership list.
If you would like to start paying by standing order then please contact me at the address/number below for a form or download it from the membership leaflet on the Society website. Alternatively, payment can be made by bank transfer but please contact me for your reference number and our bank details.
A Happy Christmas and New Year to all our members.
Diana McInnes, Membership Secretary,
11 Ferrings, Dulwich, London SE21 7LU.
020 8693 6313
If you have not told us your email address you will not be receiving the monthly members eNewsletter, which is becoming a very popular source of up to date local news. Please send your email address to the membership email address above. Your Journal continues to be sent on a quarterly basis.
Revised Foundation School coach routes
The works required at the College Road/Dulwich Common junction to enable the implementation of the revised coach routes through the Village were completed ahead of schedule thanks to pressure from Helen Hayes MP and local councillors on TfL. Coaches should be using the new routing by now.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
The Council held two well-attended consultation meetings on 12th and 16th October. There were more younger people/families than older residents present but, unfortunately, hardly any traders. There was considerable debate in the workshops about problems and solutions but there will be no definitive responses from the Council until all the feedback is assessed.
It appears that traffic congestion in Dulwich Village is now substantially worse than when the Council did the consultation for Quietway 7 and concerns remain over the benefits of the new Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction layout and whether the new Foundation school coach routes will improve matters overall. There was definite interest in controlling parents driving their children to school via street closures or school streets. There is a groundswell of opinion about Calton Avenue and Townley Road congestion, and the impact of the Foundation School coaches - local state schools tend to have a narrow catchment area while the indepeno9dent schools under pressure from competition from those schools, are having to draw their pupils from a wider area across London.
Two new campaigning groups, ‘Clean Air for Dulwich’ and ‘Mums for Lungs’ are gaining traction on air pollution. Clean Air has put up banners at many locations proclaiming that air pollution is worse for children in cars than walking on pavements. There was also a change.org petition for a School Street along Dulwich Village between Turney Road and East Dulwich Grove: https://www.change.org/p/southwark-council-school...
Southwark Planners have not been on the ball recently. Without consulting either the Society or TfL, they have granted an application for a new house in part of the garden of a property on Frank Dixon Way which included direct access on to the South Circular. The Dulwich Estate has yet to comment, and it could be that it will object to the partition of the garden of the existing house, but Southwark should have known that TfL does not allow any new access onto the South Circular.
Alleyn’s School have also applied for planning permission to expand the current Junior School on the main site by an additional 35-42 pupils in Reception Years 1 & 2 - plus 6 staff. There are considerable local concerns over the potential impact on traffic in the immediate area as young children are probably more likely to be driven to school rather than take public transport or cycle. The current low traffic neighbourhood consultation being undertaken by the Council includes the roads around Alleyn’s and it might appear contradictory if on the one hand the Council is talking about reducing traffic and pollution, and on the other allows a development which could lead to a potential increase in traffic. If the council allows this expansion, knowing full well that it will further contribute to increasing the already illegal levels of pollution, then it could arguably be complicit in harming its residents.
Dulwich Park Car Parking Charges
By now you should (or will shortly be) be paying to park in Dulwich Park, £2 per hour, and the impact of parking displacement on adjoining roads, College Road, Burbage Road and Court Lane will become clearer over the next few months. But you will still be able to park for free in Belair Park - as far as the Society is aware, no progress has been made in discussions between the Council and the Dulwich Estate over the interpretation of the 1960s lease provisions which requires the public to have free access to Belair Park at all times.
Crime and Policing
Recent Society eNewsletters warned about the number of recent burglaries with a common theme - access to the house being obtained via ‘slipping’ the night latch on the front door (the owner having forgotten to use the mortice lock). Of 18 burglaries reported in the summer, 12 used this method. During August and September some residents were targeted by a ‘climber’, an old-fashioned cat burglar who made an entry via first floor windows, generally when the houses were occupied and the alarm was off. If you have a burglar alarm it should be on downstairs at night - & any keys to doors or cars hidden.
Car crime is also rising, both theft from vehicles and actual theft of the car - some models in the Landrover range appear to be particularly vulnerable (7 out of the last 10 thefts) and the police are recommending the use of old-fashioned steering locks or ‘Faraday Bags’ which block the electronic car key’s signal. Catalytic converter thefts have also returned recently, 18 in Dulwich Wood ward in the last two months - targeted cars (often hybrids) are jacked up in broad daylight by men wearing hi-viz jackets and the exhaust pipes removed with an angle grinder, very noisy but the deed is done in just a couple of minutes.
In the North Dulwich Triangle, there are reports of a burglar alarm salesman knocking on doors implying that he represents a company that has been retained to provide private security in the area. This is not the case and house owners should not be fooled into thinking that it is anything but an aggressive sales pitch.
The Dulwich Society is on Southwark Licensing’s alert list to be notified of all new premises licence applications in the Dulwich Village, Dulwich Wood and Dulwich Hill Wards. Unfortunately, little substantive information is given on the Licence Register other than the name of the applicant, the hours sought for the various licensable activities and conditions attaching to the previous premises licence! To find out more, it is necessary to make an appointment to view the file at Southwark’s Tooley Street offices - not always convenient for those who work! In order for a representation against the grant of a premises licence to be considered, it must be relevant to the four licensing objectives set out in the Licensing Act 2003: public safety, prevention of crime and disorder, protection of children from harm and prevention of public nuisance. If a representation is made - for or against - then the application is set down for a Hearing by a Licensing Sub-Committee - even if the only representation is one in favour (unless that representation is withdrawn!) Whilst the number of representations for and against an application are shown on the Licensing Register, unhelpfully, the representations are only made public 5 days before a Hearing when they are contained in the Hearing Agenda papers. So much for open government!
In the case of the recent application for a new premises licence for Belair House, the new owners, Belair Mansion Limited, applied for a licence in broadly similar terms to the licence held by the previous owners. There were 51 representations against the licence, mainly on the grounds of public nuisance, and 16 in support. The Hearing was held on September 30th and after a lengthy meeting a licence was granted, subject to numerous conditions including: opening hours to be limited to 00.30 except Fridays and Saturdays ( when opening hours are until to 02.30) ; no licensable activities ( ie., music, dancing and provision of late night refreshment ) is permitted outdoors after 22.00 and a limited number of “DJ led promoted events” each year. However, it appears that not all of the conditions agreed at the Hearing have been incorporated into the Hearing Notice and Cllr Margy Newens, who attended and spoke at the Hearing, is taking the matter up with Southwark. Hopefully the matter will be cleared up shortly!
Dulwich Society Grants
The Society has made the following grants from its funds as its contribution towards the community and furtherance of its aims.
- Books for Primary School Children Dulwich Wood Federation. £500.00
- London Wildlife Trust, Sydenham Hill Woods £2330.00
- Defibrillator for public use - Bell House £500.00
- Bench repairs £520.00
- Exit Burbage sign £505.00
- Safe Routes to School meeting expenses £200.00
- Dulwich Village Infants School anti-pollution Green Screen £3000.00
The Village Orchard
Dulwich’s Village Orchard was opened and duly blessed by the Alleyn Foundation chaplain, the Revd John Watson, on Sunday 1st September, a day of bright sunshine. Created by The Dulwich Estate to mark the 400th anniversary of Edward Alleyn’s Foundation it is intended that the orchard will be a permanent community asset. It is opened daily during weekdays and it is hoped that it will soon be able to make arrangements to open it at weekends.
The London Wildlife Trust which has been entrusted with its management, had information displays and demonstrated examples of wood turning. It is now lookw2s3ing for volunteers to assist with the orchard’s maintenance. Colourful bunting, a folk band, ice cream stalls and local cider gave the day the proper festive atmosphere. Speeches were made by Nicola Meredith, chairman of the Dulwich Estate Trustees, Helen Hayes Dulwich’s MP and Rachel Dowse from the London Wildlife Trust. During the afternoon the Burbage Road Time Capsule containing memorabilia of the road’s celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Richard Burbage’s death was buried in the new orchard.
The site of the orchard, 0.3 hectares in size, served as the Old Grammar School playground in the 19th century. It was planted in March with 38 young apple trees, medlar and mulberry trees. A first opportunity to view them was provided by an open day on Saturday 18 May, as part of the Dulwich Festival.
The orchard has also been planted with wild flowers: some 400 bluebells, wild tulips, wild garlic, poppy seeds and hyacinths. Dulwich Estate staff were assisted by Almshouse residents and pupils from Alleyn’s School.
A new gate has been installed for access on Gallery Road, hand-carved by Peckham artist Samuel Adams. In the orchard are several new wooden benches.
The apple varieties in the orchard are heritage trees selected from the national fruit collection at Brogdale Farm, near Faversham.
The oak tree planted by the Dulwich Society in memory of Rosa Davis has been labelled: “In memory of Rosa Davis, 1911-2009, A passionate and active supporter of Dulwich trees and wildlife”. Rosa served on the Dulwich Society’s Trees, Wildlife and Gardens committees.
Another oak tree in the orchard commemorates Jeremy Gotch (1934-2013): “In memory of Jeremy M B Gotch, Estate Governor, then Dulwich Estate Trustee 1981-2005. Chairman 1994-96.”
Dulwich at Battle Stations
War is declared every Monday from 7pm - 10.30pm at St Barnabas Parish Hall in Dulwich Village. You can take your pick; from re-fighting the Battle of Waterloo, Hannibal crossing the Alps or the DDay landings!
Started some fifteen years ago when a curate at St Barnabas was interested in wargaming, the South London Warlords have met almost every Monday evening ever since. Tables are covered with meticulously painted miniature figures, trees and buildings as wars through the ages are re-enacted and debated upon. All enthusiasms are catered for, from fantasy gaming based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to modern warfare scenarios. There is a What If’s? section in which players plan alternative scenarios to real wars. Once a month, in addition to the regular Mondays, a Big Game Saturday is held in St Barnabas Hall, using both the main and the rear halls from 9am-9pm.
The group has a membership of around 80 members who pay an annual fee of £120. There is a reduced fee for under 16’s.It also runs Europe’s largest Wargaming Fair every April at Excel, London which is called ‘Salute’. Those members who help to run the event have their annual membership fees refunded.
Anyone interested in wargaming is invited to look in any Monday evening. Full details of the activities of the South London Warlords can be found on www.Salute.co.uk.
Climate Change - should the Dulwich Society be more pro-active?
In view of the wide publicity concerning climate change and respiratory complaints being caused by pollution, should the Dulwich Society take up the challenge of trying to improve the air quality of Dulwich
It is acknowledged that trees have a beneficial effect in absorbing both carbon dioxide and nitrogen gases caused by traffic fumes. It is also widely agreed that green space in the form of woods, parks, gardens, open country, have a beneficial effect on the mental health of the population.
One of the Dulwich Society’s members, the late David Nicholson-Lord, a journalist, specialising in environmental issues, was a great campaigner on the greening of city landscapes and the planting of trees to effect this. He would certainly have agreed that a way forward could be for the Society to commission of a study with a view increasing the number of trees in the Dulwich area.
This is something that the Dulwich Society might be able to implement.
How would it then work? The planting of recommended species could be paid for through sponsorship via schools, residents’ associations and individuals by crowd funding
Where planting on sports grounds is concerned, one possibility is that former field boundaries, previously marked by hedgerows could, where possible, be replanted with appropriate trees. The planting of trees oe4n the perimeter of grounds could also be carried out, and avoiding the blocking of light and views on neighbouring properties.
The Dulwich Estate, as lessor of such grounds could consider reducing annual rent of the grounds to offset the additional costs of ground maintenance by the sports clubs.
The sports clubs could facilitate the planting by allowing machinery to enter their grounds and to be responsible for the care of the trees thereafter.
Is there an appetite for such a challenge among members? It would be interesting to hear if there is, and. if a public meeting would be welcomed?
Images of Dulwich Calendar
The popular ‘Images of Dulwich Calendar’ is returning for 2020. Featuring a monthly seasonal photograph of Dulwich by Brian Green, the calendar is A4 size opening on a spiral to A3 and giving space for notes. From The Art Stationers, Dulwich Village. £10.95 including a mailing envelope.
The beneficial effects of colour, art and nature in speeding hospital patients’ recovery were the themes of a recent presentation by Dr Tom Best Director of Critical Care at King’s College Hospital held at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Dr Best observed that the recovery time in a critical centre was often determined by a patient’s experience of disorientation leading to stress which delays recovery. Waking up in critical care can be a frightening experience. Disorientation can be caused by a patient being in an unfamiliar environment, often sedated and surrounded by a mass of medical paraphernalia, wires and screens and the sounds of alarms and bleeps. By necessity, critical care is also a very busy place with constant intrusion on the patient. 80% of critical care patients experience delirium, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) anxiety or depression. What is aimed for are benefits which will reduce the stress by making the patient calm.
Although not a new development; the power of different colours to influence the brain’s response has been noted since the late 1940’s and the use of colour in medical facilities has been employed for some years. The new Kings Critical Care Centre is using the power of some of the colours taken from the artist J M W Turner’s palette to lower anxiety levels on a number of the Centre’s work and equipment surfaces.
The stimulation of the brain though the display of art, especially naturel scenes with trees is more recent and will also be employed. Kings however is going one step further, by bringing nature closer to recovering patients. All three methods will be employed - the use of different colours on doors, some surfaces and equipment, artworks on the walls inspired by the trees in Ruskin Park, and bringing the outdoors inside.
This is made possible by incorporating floor to ceiling windows in the design of the new unit, admitting fresh air, light and views of the trees in neighbouring Ruskin Park from the unit’s high vantage point on top of the eleven storied building. On the roof is a helicopter pad where emergency patients will be delivered. It will share space with a projected roof garden for which a £1.6million appeal has been launched.
Former patients have been interviewed for their experience in critical care and some expressed the desire to see around them. This has been taken into account, both with the windows but also the beds which can be rotated though 360 degrees allowing patients to look around. Each bed will be surrounded by a smart-glass panel which patients can turn clear, cloudy or opaque allowing either privacy or to see what’s happening in the Centre. Each patient will also be given a Skype tablet to keep in touch with loved ones.
The new Critical Care unit which will be able to treat up to 120 patients, thus doubling e existing number of beds. Costing £100 million the first stage of the unit is expected to open in the Spring of 2020, some two years later than planned. Kings has a treatment catchment population in the south east of England of 5 million people and treats 5000 patients annually in its critical care unit.
Last year the hospital received patients from the Westminster Bridge and Borough Market terrorist attacks and the Grenfell tower fire. The hospital cared for 32 patients, 15 or whom were looked after in critical care.
The Norwood and Brixton Foodbank are making it even easier to donate this winter
As we get closer to the end of the year, myself and the whole team here at the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank want to reiterate just how grateful we are for the continued support of the Dulwich community. From tasty bake sales at the Love West Dulwich Market to ongoing supermarket food donations, we simply could not function without this kind of ongoing support.
Having said that, as the nights get longer and days colder, we do find ourselves short of a few key things. We have been working hard behind the scenes to make this process easier and are continuing to develop new and better ways to donate.
We've had a fantastic response to our Bankuet pilot launched last month, and so extend a huge thanks to everyone who has made a purchase or left feedback. We are continuing with this trial for another month.
For those that missed it, this new social enterprise is aimed at making donating food simpler and ensuring the most urgently needed food items will be purchased. Simply click through to the Bankuet website and buy a bundle of food items that our Foodbank has identified as high priority. Bankuet will then deliver it for you to our warehouse.
After launching the Bankuet pilot last month we've decided to embrace technology again by registering with the Foodbank app. The app allows you to view food items that are in short supply and allows us send a push message to you when we urgently need a particular item. It's free to download, simply go to the Apple App Store and search for Foodbank by Redemption Media. Unfortunately it isn't available for Android phones at the moment but we are hopeful this will change soon. Please select the second Norwood and Brixton Foodbank option when choosing which foodbank to support.
As always, we’ll of course continue to accept donations from all our drop off points. Check in via the website for more information and make sure to subscribe to the newsletter so you never miss an update. We hope to see and speak to you all soon.
The nearest drop-off point for Dulwich is The Old Dairy Health Centre, 19b Croxted Road SE21 8SZ and is open during the centre’s opening hours.
Elizabeth Maytom - Norwood and Brixton Foodbank Project Lead.
The Local History Twitter Account (@DulwichHistory)
Social media gets a lot of criticism, much of it justified, but it can also be a tool for good: a way for likeminded people to connect and share common interests. In March this year the local history group started a Twitter account, to complement the main Society account and the Gardens account. As you would expect, we post images and facts about our rich local history, anything from an Edward Alleyn anniversary, ‘then-and-now’ images of a road, to a clip from an old film that used a Dulwich location, e.g. Mona Lisa, which was filmed in East Dulwich in 1986.
We now have 600 followers around the world and receive up to 100,000 ‘impressions’ per month. This does not mean 100,000 people are interacting with us but it is an indicator of how many people we are reaching. In turn, we follow local accounts such as local schools and other amenity groups like the Herne Hill Society, and we retweet if they are publicising things of interest to our followers. We also regularly direct people to the Society’s website where they can find our journal articles and other information.
Many of our followers are happy to simply read a tweet, others contribute further information or ask us questions. For example, a photo of a Dulwich boundary stone prompted questions about the number and location of other boundary markers; an engraving of the Chapel led to questions about why the tower looks so different now (it was rebuilt in 1866 by Charles Barry). Tweets about the history of the Parkhall Business Centre led to them hanging vintage photos in their offices. Tweets about WW2, particularly the Society’s plaques commemorating Dulwich’s civilian deaths, always generate a lot of interest and compliments. Here is an example of another enquiriy we have received.
When we posted a photo of the Crystal Palace taken from Woodland Hill, it generated discussion about how big the Palace was compared to the surrounding houses. Sue Badman, Society Secretary, contributed a ‘now’ photo for comparison.
Our Twitter feed of local history snippets connects people with widely disparate interests, some of which occasionally intersect with Dulwich: the man in Texas who is interested in WW2 and is a big fan of our WW2 plaques; the woman whose family emigrated to Australia but who is still interested in the corner of East Dulwich where she was born; and the tram enthusiast who has helped us date photos due to his encyclopaedic knowledge of trams. Twitter encourages an enjoyably rambling discussion about Dulwich that, frankly, is a welcome distraction from everyday life at the moment. Come and join the conversation: @DulwichHistory
by Trevor Moore
Following concerns about the water quality and biodiversity of the lake in Dulwich Park, The Society and Dulwich Park Friends jointly funded an investigative report by 35percent Ltd to undertake a site visit and investigation and provide recommendations for future management. Some key aspects of the report are summarised here, but if any member would like an electronic copy of the full report they can do so by email request to
The report identifies a key issue for the main waterbody of the lake and the downstream channel as being the lowering of water levels in periods where there is little or no rainfall and poor water quality resulting in algal blooms. They assess that in an average year there should be a surplus of water to the lake sufficient to maintain water levels, so the suspected lowering of the levels suggests there could be seepage from the base of the lake. (As part of the Heritage Lottery funded works in 2007 the lake was drained and although the clay base was re-sealed it may not have been completely achieved.)
35percent have suggested that a stage board be installed and water levels monitored on a daily or weekly basis. These levels can then be related to rainfall to assess whether remediation work is required to stop any seepage. They warn that topping up with mains water could have a detrimental effect on water quality, so should be used sparingly.
As phosphorous levels in the lake are high, probably due to the bird and fish populations found at the lake, and potentially via surface runoff into it, they state that efforts to reduce bird feeding via bread should be continued to reduce the overall pollutant loading to the lake. Grain is sold at the café and this should be continued to encourage people not to put food waste into the lake. They also recommend regular fish surveys to ensure that fish populations do not have a negative impact on water quality - excessive numbers can lead to algal blooms.
To trap any pollutants entering the lake it is suggested that reed areas be extended to fully cover the inflow from one inlet and a reedbed be established around the second main inlet, so that pollutants are trapped before water enters the lake.
There is a recirculation system that lifts water from the outlet channel back into the lake, as well as aeration further down the channel into the so-called rivulet. They recommend an assessment of the aeration systems in relation to their ability to increase oxygen in the water. Should these prove ineffective then a new aeration system should be considered. They suggest the use of barley straw as an additional tool to inhibit algal blooms. (It seems that barley straw, when exposed to sunlight and in the presence of oxygen, produces a chemical that inhibits algal growth.)
Some years ago Dulwich Park Friends installed wire cages around new aquatic planting in the ‘swamp’ area near the boardwalk, to deter damage to new growth by geese and other wildfowl. Such is the robustness of those plantings now, 35percent report that the cages appear to be constraining the development of vegetation. A trial removal of wire-netting in some areas will therefore be undertaken, with a monitoring of the habitat to assess whether this protection is still required.
Consistent with the approach to dead wood elsewhere in the park, they recommend the development of wood decay habitat around the lake, to act as a refuge for amphibians as well as a potential breeding-ground for invertebrates such as stag beetles.
Finally, the report recommends some baseline surveys including of bats, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates and butterflies and moths, as reference points for future monitoring and input for lake management.
Autumn has come rather suddenly this year with a deluge in late September after long dry spells over the summer. The summer visitors have largely departed except for a few lingering Chiffchaffs that often join the Autumn feeding flocks of Great, Blue and Long Tailed Tits. Although they can be mostly detected by their high tweet call, a few will restart their chiffchaff breeding song perhaps stimulated by the similarity of the September day length to that of Spring. Apart from their song they are virtually indistinguishable in the field from Willow Warblers, which although they do not breed in Dulwich do pass through on migration, again giving a little of their much more musical Autumn song. Autumn passage migrants can afford a little more time to hang around than in Spring and Willow Warblers have been heard in Belair and Dulwich Parks and this year also Spotted Flycatchers in Brockwell Park, an increasingly unusual record for a bird that used to breed here.
A Kingfisher has been seen in Dulwich Park, probably a young bird, part of an Autumn dispersal from parental territory. Kingfishers do breed on the River Waddon, not far from us but are unlikely to set up territory here as they prefer running water and need lots of little fish. Autumn Kingfishers have appeared before and one was photographed in a Burbage Road garden some years ago. A Raven has been spotted flying over Dulwich woods on 15 October to the annoyance of the Carrion Crows. This was a first for us, but they have been expanding their range eastwards from their strongholds in the south west so it was probably not an escape from the Tower of London, which if the legend is correct would foreshadow apocalypse.
Dave Clark has provided his regular Dulwich Park bird count. A huge number of 461 Wood Pigeons were probably inflated by an early influx of continental migrants and our winter Shoveler ducks have arrived early. Some of his figures over the years such as Robins, Wrens, Tits and Blackbirds are very consistent and there is an increasing number of Jackdaws, but things look less good for Song Thrushes, Greenfinches and Chaffinches.
This year the British Trust for Ornithology have set up a survey to assess the status of Tawny Owls. This is particularly difficult as they are strictly nocturnal and mostly in woodland. So they have to be counted by call (Too Whit if female and Too Whoo if male). Unfortunately, if they don’t call they don’t get counted so observers need patience. We have always had Tawny Owls here and young Tawny Owls were heard calling in the woods this summer proving successful breeding. The young while still downy emerge early from their nest holes in what is known as branching to sit and receive food from their parents. The accompanying photograph taken by my grandson Matthew in the New Forest illustrates this wonderfully well.
2019 has been a “butterfly year”, distinguished by the arrival of Painted Ladies, Red Admirals and also a day flying moth, the Silver Y from as far away as North Africa. They probably arrive on southerly winds after some bumper breeding success on the continent and a number were seen here although they were more abundant in southern coastal counties. Of interest is the question as to whether they fly back, the assumption being that they come here and perish as soon as the weather deteriorates. The surprise is that the evidence is that they do and that shortening day length stimulates southerly directed flight and lengthening days stimulate flight northward. Radar tracking has shown that in the Autumn southerly migration Painted Ladies can cover 5,000 miles in a single generation to take them as far as the Sahara Desert. Nature can continue to surprise us.
Out of town our native butterflies have mounted a recovery after bad years. In Dulwich this has yet to become obvious and we still have not achieved abundance of Peacocks, Tortoiseshell and Commas. Our many Oak trees however do give a variety of other invertebrate life amongst which is the Oak Bush Cricket that looks like an outsize green grasshopper which surprised John Hughes when it appeared offsite in Winterbrook Road. Unlike Grasshoppers, Crickets can wander and one may turn up quite harmlessly in your home and if so it should be humanely returned to its normal habitat.
In the last issue of the journal Charles Newman wrote of the changes in our local bird populations he has observed over the twenty years he has lived here, outlining some of the losses and gains. Clearly there are changes in our urban birdlife not all of which carry a ready explanation. Why for instance have we lost so many of our Song Thrushes when our gardens are awash with snails, their favoured food? Why are Blackbirds and Robins doing better? What has happened to so many of our Starlings? There are almost certainly many factors as each species will have its particular problems amongst which is the availability of favoured invertebrate food, not the problem for the Song Thrush. But some of the birds that are doing particularly well are the opportunistic scavengers that can double up as nest predators. The key to the success of Magpies, Carrion Crows and indeed the newly arrived Jackdaws is their ability to learn to overcome their instinctive fear of the human race, and this matters in our increasingly crowded urban environment where they can live off our produce and waste. With nest predation their success may tip the balance between them and birds less well adapted to us such as the shy Song Thrush. This is perhaps one of a number of reasons why we are observing losses of some well loved species about which there may not be a lot we can do. But one thing we can say is that much of our wildlife need protected space with suitable cover to live and breed which we should try and make more available around us.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder (tel: 020 7274 4567 email: