18 January 2019

Planning Application: All Inn One, Perry Vale

There has been a planning application submitted in 2018 to demolish the All Inn One pub and build a six storey building with pub and hotel. The details of the application can be viewed on the Lewisham website.

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to this development for a number of reasons:
  • Scale and massing of the development
  • Concern over loss of pub amenity
  • Lack of details relating to the new A4 (pub/restaurant) unit 
  • Loss of character and heritage value of the pub
  • Negative impact on daylight to neighbouring properties

We have also asked for consideration of how the Perry Vale car park might be used and for consideration to be given to an improved crossing point on Perry Vale to service the hotel and local residents.

The full text of our objection can be read here.

15 January 2019

Lego comes to Horniman Museum from 16th February

From an ancient Egyptian pyramid to Old London Bridge, and from the natural wonder of a coral reef to the modern marvel of the international space station, travel through history and explore over 50 models made using half a million LEGO bricks.

Build your imagination at the interactive play areas, and don’t miss two special models of Horniman icons created especially for the show.

More than 50 models will be on show, from individual pieces that will inspire visitors to build them at home, to awe-inspiring dioramas and mosaics. Visitors can build their own brick wonders in interactive play areas – including a graffiti wall, a tower-building challenge, a magnetic mosaic puzzle and big bricks for little hands – and the exhibition includes a mini-cinema showing short LEGO animations.

Further details from the Horniman website.

01 January 2019

Burns Supper - Saturday, 26th January

Once again, the Forest Hill Society in conjunction with All Inn One, on Perry Vale, will be hosting a Burns Supper on Saturday 26th January.

There will be the traditional Address to the Haggis and the opportunity to listen to or to read from the works of Robert Burns. We will also have some local musicians to round off the evening.

The meal is from 7.30pm, and if you'd like to join us you must book in advance, please call the pub on 020 8699 3311 or email info@allinnone.org.uk to book.

The cost is £21.95 per person for 3 courses and a very enjoyable evening. (Please let them know if you would prefer the vegetarian haggis to the meaty version).

Everybody is welcome; members, non-members, Scots, Sassenachs, and all friends of Scotland.

Early booking is recommended as places are limited.

19 September 2018

What a Busy Year It’s Been!

Over the past year, perhaps the most significant change to Forest Hill that the Forest Hill Society provided input on, was the improvement of Dartmouth Road. After being closed for construction for many months, and disrupting bus routes and access to shops, improvements — including wider pavements, additional parking bays and demarcated road-crossing zones — have resulted in a more pleasant experience for shoppers and smoother traffic flows.

Back in March, when we thought that the works were almost completed, the Society — together with Pauline Wright at Sugar Mountain, the Horniman Farmers’ Market and backing from Forest Hill Ward Assembly — organised a street party to bring people back to Dartmouth Road.

The street party was one of the most visible events organised by the Forest Hill Society in 2018, but also very visible has been the continued work on the flower beds and planters in and around Forest Hill station. As well as maintaining all of the existing plants, this year —with the help of local scouts — we installed a number of new planters on Perry Vale to complement the tyre towers we had already installed there. Adding all these plants and flowers continues to make Forest Hill a more colourful and welcoming place to spend time. My thanks go particularly to Quetta, Joseph, Sheila, John F, John W, Katherine, GoodGym and all the other people who have helped with planting and watering.

Earlier this year we organised a couple of walks through Sydenham Hill Wood, taking small groups of people to explore the flora, fauna and history of the local area (ably led by Alona and Andrew); and we have a similar walk planned for 23rd September, this time on One Tree Hill.

Other events included a hustings meeting for Lewisham's mayoral election, which we arranged with the Sydenham Society, and a Burns Night Supper at the All Inn One pub.

In addition, we worked behind the scenes on other planned changes for the local area. We responded to three consultations that threatened the future of our train services, the consultation of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone’s extension to the South Circular, and several planning applications for residential and commercial development in SE23.

Plans to demolish the Bell Green gas works were approved by Lewisham Council earlier this year, but they rejected pans for an Aldi store on the site. The Aldi application will now go to appeal at a public enquiry, to be held later this year.
We aided local residents in and around Sunderland Road and on Bampton Estate to oppose new flats that are inappropriate for their chosen locations. As a result, the Sunderland Road site now has a much more sympathetic scheme planned; and we await the council’s decision on the Bampton Estate scheme.

Alongside locally-based Discourse Architecture, we have been developing a long-term strategy for the future of Forest Hill’s town centre — especially the area around the station and the pedestrian connections between one side of the railway and the other. There are some great ideas in these proposals, but we now need to transfer them from the drawing board into reality.

All this work is made possible by members of the community, who together make a difference to the place we call home. We would love you to have your say and get involved in making Forest Hill an even better place to live and invite you to our AGM on 1st October.

Christmas Conservation Area

Edward (Ted) Charles Christmas was born in Lewisham in 1867. By 1871 his family was living above the stables of Prospect House, which is now 79 London Road (on the corner of Taymount Rise). Ted’s father was the gardener at Prospect House, and its garden extended from the rear of the house up Taymount Rise to St Paul’s Church. In his early years, Ted trained as a carpenter and then went on to install “sanitary plumbing”, electric bells, burglar and fire alarms, Lincrusta wallpaper and Roman mosaic tiles. However, his speciality was “artistic joinery” and there were, apparently, many fine shop fronts installed by him.

Throughout Forest Hill, Ted Christmas and his construction company built a number of houses and converted other properties to flats. Many of these houses form the basis of the Forest Hill Conservation Area, which includes properties on Thorpewood Avenue, Round Hill and London Road. Unfortunately, there has not been any protection for the houses in the Perry Vale area that form a key group of Christmas houses.

His best-known and one of the earliest developments is located between Perry Vale and South Road in Forest Hill. In 1901, he completed 108-116 Perry Vale: five substantial, detached houses called Linstead, Ashdale, Ulverston, Rosaville and Aberleigh in honour of his wife, Laura. A couple of years later, 131-153 Perry Vale were completed, their names spelling “Ted Christmas”. Round the corner, 72-64 Sunderland Road spell “Grace”, his daughter’s name. He also built houses in Gaynesford Road and several other groups of houses in this area. They are distinctive, and easily recognised.

As a result of concerns by local residents, Lewisham Council are now consulting on creating a new conservation area to recognize and protect these houses alongside a number of other architecturally significant buildings in the area. The conservation area would stretch from Perry Vale to South Road and from Sunderland Road to Church Rise — a small area, but one which includes some lovely buildings.

As well as protecting these Christmas houses, the conservation area makes note of some important memorials in the graveyard of Christ Church on South Road. Of particular interest is the 15-foot obelisk memorial to George Baxter (1804-1867), the inventor of colour printing; and Joseph and Edward Tetley, the founders of Tetley Tea, which was just one of the tea brands owned by Forest Hill residents in Victorian times (another notable brand being Horniman Tea).

More information about Ted Christmas can be found on local historian Steve Grindlay’s blog at:

18 September 2018

Horniman’s New World Gallery

By John Firmin

Successive generations of families from Forest Hill and beyond have enjoyed the Horniman Museum’s collections and gardens. The museum has now brought together in its new World Gallery over 3,000 objects from around the world that explore the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

The World Gallery continues Frederick Horniman’s ambition “to bring the world to Forest Hill”. At the entrance to the gallery is a series of audio-visual digital installations that show people from the Horniman’s community groups, volunteers, collectors and anthropologists talking about objects that have personal meaning to them. Next to the displays are objects selected for their emotional resonances — can you connect with them? Just imagine what it was like 2,000 years ago using the black obsidian mirror on show, and peering at your image in its dark depths.

Next, you find yourself in the first of the five Encounters areas, each corresponding to a continent. Check out the head-hunter ornaments in the Asian area. Before the arrival of Christianity, hunting heads was essential if a man wanted to gain the respect of his community. Each would try to outdo the other in the extravagance of the ornaments they attached to their garments.

Across the aisle in the African area are fascinating objects from across the continent. Check out the monkey crossbow belonging to the Mbendjele people or the life-size camel with its carefully crafted saddle — do you think it would have been comfortable to ride? Have a browse around the Nigerian market.

In the Oceanian area, children will be fascinated by the projection of the ocean onto the floor showing fish swimming. Imagine travelling from island to Pacific island in the small canoe on show — it must have felt tiny to be in it at sea.

The focus of the American area is on native Americans and people of the Arctic. Listen to stories and touch the material used to keep polar hunters warm while they stalked their prey.

In the European area is to be found the Horniman’s own cloutie tree. In Britain in ancient times, scraps of fabric were tied to trees growing near sacred wells or springs as part of a healing ritual. You are invited to write down your wish and attach it to the tree — maybe it will come true! From Eastern Europe there are quirky Turon masks embodying the dark forces of nature — objects I associate with Africa rather than Europe.


The gallery culminates with the Perspectives area, which presents objects in a variety of categories such as Textiles and Curiosities. It poses questions about how we classify the world around us, who decides what a thing is and whose knowledge is important. You are invited to add your perspective on what you have just seen.

Flying above all these wonderful objects is a beautiful display of kites and banners hanging from the newly renovated ceiling vault. Collected and commissioned from Guatemala, China, London and beyond, these emblems signify our human instinct to come together in celebration, play or protest.

If you haven’t already done so, take yourself and your family to the Horniman to see the new World Gallery. It’s well worth the experience!

17 September 2018

A FFirm FFavourite in FForest Hill

We are Helen and Maya, the founders of Featured in Fifteen. As we’re local Londoners, we wanted to create a community arts movement that celebrated the FFabulous rich mix of creative talent that we have in Forest Hill. The FF concept was born around a table (in late May 2017), just before school pick-up. We sat and thrashed out ideas around “What would be our perfect night out?” The answer was an evening of interesting talks by various local curators, a drink with friends and somewhere not too far from home.

Since we both had a genuine respect for TED talks, the idea of providing an audience with more than one speaker (with a drink in hand) in a limited timeframe (15 minutes) felt like an interesting challenge for us — so that’s when Featured in Fifteen came to life.

So how does FF Function? We spend a lot of our time hunting down amazing people — which isn’t easy because a lot of these incredible people are not always on social media. We read, we watch and we spend time in and around our area, listening and engaging and opening ourselves up to unexpected conversations, which lead to nice surprises. We work FFuriously hard to select FFive features for each event, all from different creative disciplines, as we feel this adds to the intrigue and interest of the night. We then create a theme that binds the evening together. And that’s the FF Formula!

We make every event personal, with each of our themes coming from our own experiences and feelings, and this is what makes every FF evening unique. The people we’ve had the privilege to meet and to become connected to have enriched our lives and given us a new perspective on so many aspects of life and the wider world. Organising FF has been an incredible amount of FFun, laughter and FFriendship.

Looking back over our first year, we had no idea FF would become what it is today — a calendar event that our community looks forward to. To date we have curated eight events and featured 35 FFantastic, inspirational local individuals, and we’ve created a wonderful network of creativity that everyone involved feels connected to through FF.

If you haven’t been to a Featured night yet then please do make it to our next event on October 18th at The Signal pub in Forest Hill. Tickets are £10 and available via our website www.featured15.co.uk; please bring a FFriend and spread the word about our project whenever you can.

Friends of Mayow Park — Reflecting on 25 Years

By Alona Sheridan, Chair, Friends of Mayow Park

2018 is the 140th Anniversary of Mayow Park and the 25th anniversary of Friends of Mayow Park. In 1993 Lewisham Council’s parks department was far-sighted to see the potential value of having park user groups; thanks to their initiative, the Mayow Park Users’ Group (MPUG) and others were set up.

The first MPUG meeting was held on 20th April 1993 at Forest Hill Baths. Lewisham Council appointed Gordon de Langley as the liaison officer for the group. It was a time when parks all over the country were in decline, and Lewisham Council encouraged local people to form park users’ groups as a positive effort to try to reverse the decline into the longer-term future.

Around 1998, along with many other park user groups around the country, the name of the group was changed to Friends of Mayow Park (FOMP).

Back in the early days of MPUG the park still had an aviary, a full-time park keeper and gardeners who maintained its well-kept flower beds. The aviary was removed in the late 1990s, and FOMP are seeking photos of it for their archives. Budget cuts over the years have resulted in our current part-time park keeper being shared with another park.

Even in the early days of the Friends, the main topics of concern were about litter, dog fouling and the state of the paths. After years of patient waiting, funds became available and, in June 2016, major works were carried out to resurface the worst paths.

Since 1999, FOMP have celebrated Tree Dressing (an ancient pagan custom) on the first weekend of December. Originally, an ancient oak in Mayow Park with a long horizontal branch was decorated annually, but in recent years the community orchard has been the preferred venue.

The first trees in the community orchard were planted in March 2012 by a large team of volunteers and more were planted in 2016, bringing the total to 18 trees. FOMP now hold an annual Apple Day in mid-October to celebrate the orchard — giving park users an opportunity to taste different varieties of apples and to get to know all the fruit trees, and to enjoy story-telling and other family activities.

The Friends also organise tree walks, bat walks, and volunteer workdays in the orchard and at our herb beds.