24 February 2014

February Newsletter: The Montage

A new arrival at 33 Dartmouth Road, The Montage is true to its name - a hotchpotch of cafe, antiques shop and art gallery.


Heading for tea and cake one Sunday afternoon, we were greeted with a room full of enticing shelves and tables stacked with eye-catching things to see. These ranged from old Ordnance Survey maps rolled up into two umbrella stands, to some bookends constructed from vintage Kellogg's cornflake packets, and a old-fashioned blue enamel pan stand that with some love would look quite happy again. Another wall held a beautifully arranged display cabinet with second-hand hardback books and small dolls in national costume - odd but somehow entirely at home in their setting.

Once I'd been persuaded to stop looking at all these intriguing things, it was time to eat - although there were more goodies to discover, through the rooms and down the stairs - leather armchairs, formica tables, stools, wooden furniture all ready for upcycling, so we made quite slow progress to our table! The Montage, it turns out, is a small warren of different spaces. There are a couple of rooms at the back (one wallpapered with those OS maps we'd found - what a brilliant idea) where you can sit and eat.  Beyond these, if the sun's shining, there's a peaceful small garden with tables and chairs, and a dog bowl for canine companions. The garden's newly planted but looks set to become a little green haven, edged by a fence with flowers growing wild on the other side. When we were there, a couple had ensconced themselves at a table spread with books in the garden and another man was inside working on his laptop - very tranquil.

In addition, they have devoted a whole room to a children’s play area which means kids are well catered for too. It's downstairs so ideal as it's out the way and parents don't need to worry about their kids disturbing other customers. The room is filled with a variety of toys which should keep little ones occupied for a while!

In the main café area there was a very inviting selection of homemade cakes and biscuits on the counter. We sampled a fresh scone with a generous dollop of cream and jam in the middle, and a delicious square of summer berry cake (though the lemon drizzle did also look very tempting). They have proper coffee and tea including ten different kinds of herbal tea, which the lady behind the counter patiently listed for me! Plus the tea comes in individual teapots.

After tea, it was time to investigate the art gallery upstairs. There's a good selection of art scattered about the rooms, but in the gallery space there's a bigger exhibition of work by a single artist which tends to change every month.

If you're wandering along Dartmouth Road in search of somewhere new to explore - and if you love St David's, Canvas and Cream, Doopo Doopo and Aga's Deli - then this is definitely a place to add to your list. There's a lovely unhurried atmosphere for reading, working, and meeting with friends, in between poking around for treasures. I'll be going back for some of those maps…

Review provided by Catherine Wood

February Newsletter: A new Artistic Hub for Forest Hill

V22 is Coming to Louise House in 2014. Annabel Fenwick spoke to  Reshma, V22 Programme Director about their plans...
Q. What is V22?
We are an art institution (set up in 2006) that supports art, artists and the development of both and promotes the value and positive impact of art on communities. We specialise in the collection of contemporary art, the production of exhibitions, events and educational initiatives, and provide artists’ studios and artisans' workshops.

Q. Who are you funded by?
V22 is based upon a unique shared ownership model, which aims to be sustainable, self-sufficient, and therefore independent. V22 has a diverse range of income: from its collection being listed on the ISDX-ICAP market, income generated from studios, and the support received from grant bodies including Arts Council England.

Q. I see you have three other studios in London including Dalston, Haggerston and Bermondsey - all known as creative hubs. Did you recognise something similar in SE23? Why did you decide to open in Forest Hill?

Traditionally, studio providers have been part of the archetypal regeneration cycle: studio providers by nature generate low income and are then consequentially priced out as they help to make areas more creative and attractive. This is a cycle we have been working incredibly hard to break free from by acquiring long-term leases and permanent buildings.

In this particular instance, we were lucky enough to be recommended Louise House by Arts Council England, who told us it was being put up for tender. We applied and won, and were so (and still are!) delighted, not only to have the opportunity of having a long term lease, but to have the guardianship of a very special building located in an incredibly active and creative community. These factors we believe will really help to build a strong community and cultural centre. We want to provide affordable long-term studios and encourage the creation of new relationships and networks amongst artists and creative organisations locally and nationally. Forest Hill is a great place to do this.

Q. When will you officially open at Louise House?
We hope to open the studios during early spring, although there is still some building work that needs to be done before that can happen. The public space at the back of the property we will be working hard on to get the first tentative things happening there in time for the summer. Then there is work needed on the gardens as we have some great plans for them. So I suppose the grand opening will be something we work toward, hopefully in partnership with many local people.

Q. What exhibitions are you currently planning for Louise House?
We are in the research and development stages of planning our summer programme, presenting a series of events in collaboration with artists and local groups and communities. We also we hope to launch a new educational initiative called Studio+ which will support young and emerging artists.

Q. What is planned for the community space?
 Firstly there will be a dedicated exhibitions and events space integrated into our educational initiatives; secondly a 'Community Studio' which can be used for a variety of activities ranging from art lessons, to workshops, to rehearsal space; and thirdly, a community garden which we would like to build in partnership with people from SE23 and which can be used for summer events and activities.

We are yet to gain access to the lower ground area, but we hope this will make an excellent screening room (everyone in Forest Hill wants a cinema!) and hopefully a space which can also be used for theatre and possibly live music.

Q. What do you like about the area?
An abundance of creative independent initiatives; engaged communities and active local groups; great transport links; gorgeous architecture; fabulous cafes; and the very real sense of welcome we have been given.


The Forest Hill Society could not ask for better outcome for Louise House (located between Forest Hill Library and Forest Hill Pools). The building itself will not only be reinvigorated but crucially, by having a long term lease, the organisation can offer long term support to new and emerging artists in the area.

The exhibitions and events that V22 are planning will no doubt have a positive impact on both the community and the local cultural landscape. The Society welcomes V22 wholeheartedly.

Find out more about V22 at www.v22collection.com

February Newsletter: Four Cheers for Four Years with Richard Hibbert

Richard Hibbert stepped down from chairing the Forest Hill Society at our AGM in December 2013 after four years in office. Richard brought a huge amount of energy and dedication to the role, inspiring all of those around him; from committee members to market traders and even some who didn't realise they were shop owners until he persuaded them to open shops!

From October 2009 to December 2013, Forest Hill has changed significantly. Not all of this was down to Richard or to the Forest Hill Society but he ensured that our contribution made a decisive difference to the area. Richard formed a great relationship with local traders and shop landlords which enabled new shops to open and created an environment where the Traders' Association could be re-formed. Indeed, were it not for a bit of gentle arm-twisting by Richard some the new shops may never have opened.

One of the great initiatives of the Society in 2012 was the introduction of a monthly ‘Food Fair’ in the Forest Hill station car park. The market was designed to bring people back to the town centre and to encourage traders to set up a permanent business in the empty shops that were still prevalent at the time. We also had the aim of providing good food to local residents. Over the next 18 months, the ‘Food Fair’ grew in size and achieved all its aims. Eventually in December 2013, we ran our last ‘Food Fair’ and handed the baton to Lee Griffin with the current ‘Horniman Farmers' Market’.

Richard generated enormous commitment in Society members and over the last four years we have all worked together to get new swings in the Horniman Triangle, run a local market and plant flowers around the town centre. We also participated in the Chelsea Fringe’s city-wide ‘Edible High Road’ project which saw seventy trees across the high streets of SE23 and for which the area won an outstanding award.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the vital role Richard has played in the SEE3 initiative, (the government funded national high street regeneration scheme). This started with finding people to put the bid together for the ‘Portas Pilot’ and then later becoming a director of the SEE3 group (not to mention getting his screwdriver out to unlock shutters so that new shops could open!)

Richard's work commitments have now increased to the extent that he doesn't have the same time to dedicate to the Society as previously, but we are delighted that he remains on the Executive Committee.

When Richard took over the Society in 2009 some questioned its ongoing role. The battle for the pools had been won and the East London Line was due to open - what more could be achieved by a civic society? After four years led by Richard, there can be no doubting the value of the Society in shaping the future of Forest Hill and Honor Oak.

21 February 2014

February Newsletter: Making Forest Hill more fun!

‘Jack in the Box’ is a community led initiative funded by SEE3 (the Portas Pilot high street re-generation scheme) that over the next three months aims to put on a diverse and interesting programme of events to encourage more people to visit Forest Hill.

SEE3 set the ‘Jack in the Box’ team a number of key themes to work to including Valentines Day, Fashion Week, Easter & Film but crucially the events are being planned around the results of an on-line survey that ran throughout the month of January. The survey was designed to uncover the reasons people visit Forest Hill, what aspects of Forest Hill are popular (and which are not); and, most importantly, what activities/events people would like to see more. The survey went out to schools, community groups, businesses and residents and the results can be seen on the SEE3 website.

The ‘Jack in the Box’ team made up of two women have successfully delivered a number of events across London via their Shared City enterprise. Together they run imaginative inter-cultural experiences, consultation projects and community events across London.

Deborah, one part of duo (that has lived locally for ten years) says: “Forest Hill is an incredible place with a rich history, great shops and leisure offer, wonderful transport and a diverse, dynamic population. We are big fans of all the ‘local gems’ that Totally Locally have identified”.

“Through this project, we’re sure we can attract more people to the area to appreciate all that Forest Hill has to offer. Though this project, we would like to ensure that the events we run leave a legacy, encourage further collaborations between businesses and residents and continue to bring more Londoners from an increased catchment to enjoy the area”.

“The events are all different but one lesson we’ve learnt is that they work best when the community comes together and gets involved. We also want to attract those Forest Hill residents who might feel marginalised and through the events make Forest Hill a place of which everyone is proud”.

Keep an eye out for upcoming events via www.see3.co.uk or the Forest Hill Society website.

February Newsletter: East London Line News

Transport for London have announced plans to extend the lengths of platforms at some of the stations in the core section of the East London Line. This includes Shoreditch, Shadwell, Wapping, Canada Water and Surrey Quays all of which currently only have platform lengths for four carriages (Rotherhithe is not on the list). With the extension of trains to five carriages in December 2014 these platform extensions will avoid selective door opening at these stations.

The Forest Hill Society is continuing to campaign for extra Crystal Palace trains on the East London Line. There is space in the timetable for two additional trains per hour and although these trains were not included in the announcement from the Comprehensive Spending Review, we hope that at some point these additional trains will be commissioned by TfL.

Additional trains to Crystal Palace would improve frequency and further increase capacity on the East London Line. This would be particularly useful while London Bridge is being rebuilt, and would provide more capacity as the East London Line continues to gain in popularity, especially with the Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel.

February Newsletter: SE23.COM - A Forum for SE23

If you would like to keep abreast of activities in the SE23 postcode or would like your say on various topics relating to Forest Hill, we recommend visiting SE23.com, an on-line community forum set up in 2002.

It is not officially affiliated with the Forest Hill Society but we often post on the forum to let people know about our latest business and upcoming events, in fact it was where the idea of setting up a Forest Hill Society was first discussed back in 2006.

Many residents living in the SE23 postcode use the forum to ask questions about what is going on in the area, for example recent topics include planting in the town centre, house price increases, a coffee shop opening, parking issues and traffic problems, and many other issues in this newsletter; the subsequent discussions can be really interesting!

You don't have to get fully involved, you can just read the various posts at www.se23.com but if you'd like to join in the discussion and post something on the forum (i.e. write a reply to a question or start a new topic), you'll need to sign up.  You don't have to register under your own name, you can create a nickname so you can post anonymously.

It can be fascinating to read other peoples' opinions not to mention the fact that you'll be informed on the very latest SE23 news - what could be better than that!

18 February 2014

February Newsletter: 'Outstanding' Forest Hill goes for gold

Following our "Outstanding" award from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for our efforts around last year's 'Edible High Road' project, the Forest Hill Society will give the town centre a golden glow this summer by helping the 'RHS Britain In Bloom' celebrate its 50th golden anniversary via its 'Growing for Gold' initiative.

On Sunday 13th April, we will be planting sunflower seeds wherever we can find a space in the town centre. The RHS is donating the seeds as a thank you to all the volunteers who make the UK a more beautiful and greener place to live and the sunflower has been chosen as it reflects the spirit and drive they associate with their volunteers.  If you would like to help plant the seeds and make Forest Hill a brighter and greener place, please join us. This summer's bees will also appreciate the planting as the seeds are all pollinator-friendly varieties.

Come along to the station forecourt at 2pm on Sunday, 13th April - no experience needed.  Bring gardening gloves and a trowel together with a sunny disposition!

Miriam Lodge Open Days

Miriam Lodge 125 bed homeless hostel opens its doors for the public on:
Tuesday, 4th March 2pm-7pm
Friday, 7th March 11am-3pm

Please email to confirm attendance to miriam@hqproperty.net stating which hour you wish to attend.

Address: 185 Dartmouth Road, SE26 4RQ (Opposite Sydenham Girls' School and behind the old police station)

16 February 2014

Forest Hill Fashion Week Spring 2014

Forest Hill Fashion Week Mini kicks off on Tuesday 25 February, running for five days and culminating in a vintage themed closing party on Sunday 2 March at All Inn One, where attendees are invited to get their vintage glad rags on and dance to some classic jazz and Motown. There will also be a fashion exhibition showing at Forest Hill Library from Sat 22 Feb – Sat 1 Mar. This season’s FHFW is on a smaller scale than previous seasons. It is however perfectly formed with cherry picked events for fashionistas and families alike. Highlights include talks by industry experts, kids catwalk show and a pop up fashion market.


Tuesday, 25th Feb
  • Recycle your Wardrobe
  • Ups and Downs of Modelling

Wednesday, 26th Feb
  • All you knit is Love
  • Walk Tall! Posture Clinic
  • African Plaited Necklace Workshop
  • Running a Fashion Pop Up Shop
 
Thursday, 27th Feb
  • Vintage Chic Makeovers
  • Bracelet Making Workshop
  • Short Fashion Movie Bash

Saturday, 1st March
  • Fashion Market
  • Rio Carnival Mark Making
  • Kids' Catwalk
  • Clothes Swap

Sunday, 2nd March
  • Kids' T-Shirt Printing
  • Kid's Fancy Dress Competition
  • Working in Fashion Talk
  • FHFW Vintage Closing Party

15 February 2014

Stories of Forest Hill: A Writers Workshop

Lived here for some time?
Interested in sharing with others the changes you’ve seen?

Experience not essential, simply an interest in tales of your life in this fascinating community. Written nothing beyond the odd letter since leaving school? Now’s the time to try!
AND IT’S FREE!!

WHERE: The Montage Coffee House, Dartmouth Road SE23
WHEN: Thursdays 2-4pm, beginning February 27, Weekly for six weeks
TUTOR: Maggie Smith (former National Adviser, Creative Writing U3A)

Places very limited. For enquiries please call 07507 753984 or email info@see3.co.uk

February Newsletter: Pizza Restaurant adds New Flavour to the Old Bank

The Old Bank site on Honor Oak high street has been un-utilised for a number of years and the last potential opening was an application by Dominos Pizza to convert the site into a takeaway and delivery shop. The Forest Hill Society in unison with local residents campaigned to stop the planning application. Our main reason for objecting was the poor use of a prime location which we felt should be a retail unit.

There were also concerns around parking and the noise generated by bikes serving the shop during peak hours. There were over 300 objections to the application and thankfully the Domino’s application was rejected. Although Domino’s went onto appeal this decision, through a series of demonstrations outside the restaurant, Dominos’ remained unsuccessful.

Residents had nothing against takeaways but we felt sure that this key location would be better placed as a restaurant rather than a hub for a take way delivery service.

Indeed we are delighted to report that an independent pizza restaurant/cafe called SODO has now opened on the site. This is exactly the outcome we wanted, even if it took three years for it to happen! It provides a better future for Honor Oak with a selection of top quality restaurants in a small area of South East London.

SODO announced ‘SO DOUGH’ (as in sour-dough, the traditional pizza base) opened in early February. This is the third venture from SODO, the original is in Clapton and there is also a concession at The George & Vulture pub in Hoxton. The whole ethos is based around offering the best and freshest pizza, working with local suppliers and creating a fun experience for the customer.

At University, Dan Birch the founding director worked in a kitchen and hated the fact that so much was processed and deep fried. He came across somewhere selling pizza and loved the freshness and theatre of it and this is what restaurant is all about; the pizzas are made on order in front of the customers and the kitchen is an integral part of the experience.

They came across The Old Bank site very much by accident although they were actively hunting for new sites across London. They thought the building was ‘amazing’ and immediately fell in love with it describing it as ‘a big old building with bags of character’. Dan and his team have renovated the majority of the existing features including fireplaces, brick walls and old tiles and have incorporated them into the décor. They have created an interior that’s in harmony with the building and which brings to life the period features that remained hidden for many years.

In addition to the restaurant, there is a bar with seating and space for between five and seven people. The idea is that people can just pop in for a drink or actually eat at the bar, much like you might eat tapas in Spain. If you don’t fancy eating out, you can call the restaurant for a pizza and then pick it up between five and ten minutes later. The pizzas only take a minute in the oven so this is fast (and fresh) food at it’s best! At a maximum, the take away process may take twenty minutes but that’s only to be expected on a packed out Saturday night.

The most popular pizza at the moment is called the ‘Winter Goat’. This consists of mozzarella, tomato, caramelised onions, goat’s cheese, olives and walnuts. Prices range from between £6 and £11 depending on the toppings but the average price is £8/£9. All the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced and indeed they are currently looking for local suppliers in the area.

Dan is not from SE23 so I asked what he has come to like about the area and his answer was ‘the community’ which will not surprise us Forest Hilliers! He says the reception has been really supportive and that people could not wait for them to open.

It’s clear that SODO will be a great success if his passion for freshly made pizza and the support of the local community is anything to go by. The restaurant is now open, three days a week between 12pm – 11pm and once everything is fully up and running, they plan to open six days a week.

Extremists at the Horniman

The Horniman Museum's latest family friendly exhibition “Extremes” explores what it takes for animals and plants to survive in some of the world's most hostile environments.

Much of the animal kingdom is far better adapted to extreme conditions than we are as humans. The exhibition will take you on an expedition to see how animals and plants survive in extreme conditions relating to heat, cold, dryness and constant darkness.

You can see some of the animals that live in these environments and watch films that will make you shiver.

There are hands-on experiences including feeling the 'air-conditioning' inside an ostrich’s beak or trying to keep up with the drinking speed of a camel. A definite must for the would be explorer!

Ticket prices: £3.30 Child, £6.60 Adult, £16.50 Family.

11 February 2014

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

23 Bike Ride - Sunday, 23rd March, 8:30am23 mile bike ride from Devonshire Road Nature Reserve to Orpington. Email Jake@fhsoc.com for further details.
Honor Oak Pub - Sunday, 23rd March, 7:30pmDrinks with the Forest Hill Society at the newly reopened Honor Oak Pub (assuming it has reopened).

Planting at the Station - Sunday, 13th April, 2pm

07 February 2014

Proposed Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park Neighbourhood Forum


Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park

A local Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park community group has submitted two applications to the Council:
  1. to become an officially designated neighbourhood forum called Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park neighbourhood forum, and
  2. to designate a geographical area as an officially recognised neighbourhood area.


The council would like to hear your views on the proposals, especially  including feedback on the following issues:
  • Does the proposed neighbourhood area boundary shown on the submitted map align with your own understanding of the local neighbourhood? and
  • Do you agree with the purpose and objectives of the proposed neighbourhood forum as set out in the forum’s constitution?

Please email all comments on neighbourhood planning applications along with your full name and address to: planning.policy@lewisham.gov.uk