26 September 2016

Forest Hill Society AGM

The Forest Hill Society’s Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday 20th October, 7:30pm at Louise House (Dartmouth Road, beside the Library) in the rear building.

This meeting will provide further information about the plans for the Library, Louise House and hopefully news of some progress on Dartmouth Road Improvement Works.

It is also your opportunity to stand for the Executive Committee or get more involved in the activities of the Forest Hill Society. We look forward to seeing you there!

Outstanding Again!

The RHS In Bloom It's Your Neighbourhood award for 2016 to The Forest Hill Society is.... "Outstanding".

Well done all those who have put in the hours and done the hard work (planting, pruning, building flower towers, etc) to make this award possible.

But we really need some additional volunteers to help keep up the good work and make Forest Hill look lovely. So PLEASE put in your diary Saturday October 15th at 2.30pm to join us at Forest Hill Station to cut back, chop down, turn over and replant so that we are establishing a good base for next year.  Even if you can only spare half an hour it would make all the difference when combined with everyone else's half hour.

Many thanks again to all the hard grafters.

25 September 2016

An Oral History of Forest Hill

Article and photos of paintings, by John Wysocki

As part of their celebrations to mark 30 years of treating NHS patients, ‘Dentistry for You’, 3 Dartmouth Road, have recently installed a couple of paintings of very familiar-looking scenes in their waiting room.

Entitled 'Station and Crossroads, Forest Hill, 1955' and 'Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, 1955', the scenes (see right) were painted by Kenyan artist Zuber Bakrani, cousin of the practice's owner Esmail Harunani, and based on historical photos.

Readers of this newsletter may be familiar with the Station and Crossroads view since it is somewhat similar to an iconic photograph that was featured in our Spring 2015 newsletter — and that is also featured in local historian Steve Grindlay's book ‘Sydenham & Forest Hill Through Time’ — albeit with the roof missing from the station's clock tower.

24 September 2016

Albion Millennium Green: An Ambitious Programme

By Ann Field, Friends of Albion Millennium Green
We started the year with an ambitious programme and already we have increased the number of volunteers coming forward for our regular, second-Saturday-in-the-month workdays. Our “Shared Vision” programme involves enriching nature and people’s experience and use of the Green, cultivating and nurturing the orchard, keeping the Green tidy, providing signage and better information about the Green and raising funds.

One of the key elements of the programme was the construction of a new pond, to replace the previous, smaller pond damaged by large dogs and foxes. The pond was dug in August and a frog has already taken up residence. There will be an official opening event on 1st and 2nd October. Look out for details on our website.

Forest Hill School Geography Ambassadors’ Group

This group conducted a survey among 120 KS3 students earlier this year. They discovered that most of the students had not heard of the Green; and then they asked for the views of those who had and how the space could be used more effectively. The second stage of the school’s research involved a survey of the parents of all students living in the area, and included questions about publicity, better use of the space and how to attract more volunteer support. In addition, a focus group of students was asked to come up with a more detailed list of activities and publicity methods that the Green’s organizers could use. Among the conclusions was the comment that “more needs to be done to publicise the existence of the Green and promote the work that the many volunteers do by means of social media and general publicity”. The Friends group will be seeking to work with the school and other local partners to organize events and to promote the Green.

We have had some bad luck with our existing notice boards so we are looking at replacing them with weather-proof notice boards which are also less vulnerable to vandalism.

Our efforts have been unsuccessful so far to raise sufficient funds and obtain permission to erect good quality signage for the Green on lamp posts in the area, but we will be having another go. If you would like to help us with these two initiatives or with any other aspect of our efforts for the Green, just get in touch. There is a special appeal for funds to enable us to buy the equipment and materials needed to carry out this programme of work.

Full details of our “Shared Vision”, the calendar of events for the year, how to join the Friends or make a donation can be found on our website www.amgfriends.org.uk or Twitter: @albionmilgreen.

23 September 2016

A Little Bit About Litter

By Belinda Evans
Have you ever thought about how clean the streets of Perry Rise are? Did you know we have our own ‘litter warrior’? I have noticed this lovely person diligently picking up waste and litter, and was intrigued. So here the mystery is solved — in local resident Neville Bailey’s own words:

“Having lived in Perry Rise, Forest Hill, for 16 years I have walked to collect my newspaper each and every morning, along one side of Perry Rise to the paper shop in Perry Vale and back along the other side, collecting the litter dropped or blown into the street. I pick up cans, bottles (often including broken glass) cigarette packets plus various packages and dispose this refuse in the council bins.

The amount of discarded rubbish has increased so much that I now use a carrier bag to collect it all up, when once I only had to use one hand! It seems that the recent opening of the fast food take away at Bell Green has resulted in cars parking along the side roads and throwing out the left over waste packages, bottles and cans onto the kerbs and pavements.

I love Britain and where I live. Can’t more be done to ask parents, schools, neighbours and others to instil a bit of pride into where they live? Perhaps you, the readers, have ideas to help cure ‘litter –itus!”

So there you are, what a good idea — on a regular walk or trip to the local shop — carry a plastic bag and even if you only pick up a couple of bits of litter you are doing your bit to tidy up and improve where we live.

22 September 2016

A Cycling and Walking Masterplan for Forest Hill and Beyond

By Brendan Cuddihy (Planning & Transport Committee)
One of the aims of the Forest Hill Society is to enhance the quality of life in SE23 and over the years the Society has had some great successes in this respect. However, two aspects of life in Forest Hill and the surrounding areas that remain below par are cycling and walking. Car use is relatively high as more active travel modes are not seen as attractive by many. The hilly nature of the locality, of course, plays a part in suppressing bicycle use, but the reality is that our streets are simply too hostile for most people to even consider getting around on a bike. Walking can also be an unpleasant experience as many of our streets are blighted by high traffic levels. Sadly, serious injuries and fatalities are not unknown on our roads.

In light of this, the Forest Hill Society is teaming up with the Sydenham Society and SEE3 to prepare a cycling and walking masterplan for the local area. This masterplan will look at our streets and consider physical measures to make them better places in which to cycle and walk. It will also look strategically across the wider area, and will identify where people want to walk or cycle.
For instance, safe routes to schools would certainly play a central role. The ultimate aim will be to make cycling and walking the most attractive choice when deciding how to travel around Forest Hill and Sydenham.

Getting more people cycling and walking would provide many benefits to the community. As well as improving road safety, there would be: reduced noise and pollution for people living on busy roads; economic benefits for local businesses from increased spend associated with cycling and walking; greater social equity from improved access and reduced travel costs for non-car users; and increased independence for children, the elderly and those with disabilities. And for those times when we need to drive, fewer cars on the roads means reduced congestion.

However, there are challenges — chief amongst them being our unique geography. The South Circular and the railway line present significant barriers to ease of movement around the area. Some creative thinking and bold ideas may be needed to deal with these barriers.

Our initiative to develop a masterplan comes at an opportune time, as Lewisham Council is set to adopt its first Borough Cycling Strategy; and in Sadiq Khan we have a Mayor of London who is keen to promote cycling and walking, and combat poor air quality and the public health epidemics of obesity and inactivity.

We are currently engaging with the councillors from Forest Hill, Sydenham and Perry Vale to build political support for this initiative. We are also continuing to monitor announcements from City Hall regarding cycling and walking — one of Sadiq Khan’s election pledges was to implement a ‘mini-Holland’ cycle scheme in each borough. Mini-Holland funding would allow for the rapid implementation of the masterplan. However, we are determined to push ahead with our local initiative even in the absence of mini-Holland funding, albeit as a longer term vision for the area.

Over the winter and spring we hope to kick off a series of community workshops inviting residents and workers to design the cycling and walking masterplan. By working with the community and relying on the help of organisations such as Lewisham Cyclists and Lewisham Living Streets, we can make Forest Hill a great place to get around by bike and on foot, for the benefit of all.

21 September 2016

Great North Wood

By Sam Bentley-Toon, London Wildlife Trust

Stretching from Deptford in the north to Croydon in the south, the Great North Wood was once a vast tract of woodland and wooded commons. The wood was largely managed through coppicing — an ancient sustainable way of harvesting wood — which allowed it to thrive for centuries. As the industrial revolution transformed traditional woodland industries the value of woodland lessened, paving the way for destruction and urbanisation.

Today, the Great North Wood lives on in isolated fragments of woodland scattered across its original footprint. Key sites include Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich Woods, One Tree Hill, Beaulieu Heights and Long Lane Wood. The ancient character of these woods is revealed by the presence of plants such as wood anemone, bluebell and Solomon’s seal.

The Great North Wood continues to support a rich fauna with rare insects such as the fearsome-looking stag beetle which spends up to seven years burrowing through deadwood as a larva before emerging as a splendid antlered adult. The great spotted woodpecker, whose distinctive drumming can be heard ringing out through woodland in spring, is another successful inhabitant of the Great North Wood.

Unfortunately, a lack of management in some of these woodlands has led to critical threats to wildlife and to their continued existence. Amongst these threats are erosion and trampling, encroachment by invasive plant species, fly-tipping and vandalism.

London Wildlife Trust’s new Heritage Lottery funded project: The Great North Wood will seek to address these threats by enlisting local people in activities to manage woodland for wildlife.

Working alongside the five borough councils which the project area encompasses will be the Forestry Commission, the Greater London Authority and numerous Friends groups and community groups. Working together with these groups the project aims to make significant improvements to south London’s woodland environment over the lifespan of the project and beyond. An extensive programme of community engagement events will allow a diverse audience to learn about and experience the woodland and remind people about the largely forgotten landscape of the Great North Wood.

To find out more about the project and how to get involved, contact Sam (Project Development Officer) at sbtoon [at] wildlondon.org.uk / 07734 599288 or visit the Great North Wood online:

www.wildlondon.org.uk/great-north- wood

20 September 2016

Flower Towers

By Quetta Kaye (Chair, Environment Committee)
A step in the right direction to brightening up the Perry Vale side of the railway has been our installation of towers of recycled tyres for planters. The next step will see London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) cleaning and smartening up their perimeter wall — although this work has been delayed due to the repairs to a collapsed sewer.

Meanwhile, the recycled tyre towers have been greeted with many approving comments. Cllr Susan Wise gained permission from Lewisham Council for the installation. James of Aeroarts worked with Rockbourne Youth Club to spray-paint the tyres (donated by A.A. Tyres & Wheels of Stanstead Road), and Forest Hill Society volunteers filled them with plants just as one of July’s torrential downpours began. So the planters had a really good initial watering and the staff of the All Inn One pub have taken over watering duty (when access is possible).

Bringing colourful plants to the town centre as a way to brighten our environment, while at the same time encouraging bees, insects and other wild life to flourish, is very rewarding at many levels. The constant care and attention of a dedicated few has resulted in the Forest Hill Society being able to enter the RHS’s In Bloom “It’s Your Neighbourhood” competition for the fifth year — having been awarded “Outstanding” for three successive years. At the time of writing we haven’t heard this year’s results which will be announced on 21st September. This year the judge was impressed by the work that has been done to brighten the station area and the street corners — he even took photographs of the tyre towers! He also liked the idea that some local businesses have adopted nearby planters and are taking care of them, and that some of our Edible High Road trees are in their second year and continue to flourish.

LOROL also has a competition for various categories in their Best Station award for which we have also entered — again the results have yet to be announced.

LOROL and the Forest Hill Ward Assembly have contributed towards the cost of renewing our planters and the Horniman Gardens has donated spare plants, while we have endeavoured to plant species which are self-seeding, environmentally friendly and require minimal maintenance. This has not always worked, partly because of the extremes of weather, but also because for some bizarre reason people continue to use the planters as rubbish bins. Tipping paint on lavender is not conducive to growth!

To continue this work we need active volunteers. If you would like to join us in tidying up the planters, general pruning, cutting back the aromatic lavender and planting bulbs for Spring flowering in the tyre stacks, we will be organising an afternoon for doing just this on Saturday, October 15th, meeting at the station forecourt at 2:30pm. Not suitable for children because of the passing traffic; protective gloves, secateurs or scissors, a trowel and a spare plastic bag would be useful. If you have none of these items, just come along anyway and enjoy being creative in our town centre to help those awards continue.