27 December 2015

Burns Night 2016

One of the most fun events in the Forest Hill Society calendar is our annual Robert Burns Night Supper where we combine Scottish food, Scottish poetry, and a wee dram of Scottish whisky in a great evening.

This year the Forest Hill Society in conjunction with All Inn One, on Perry Vale, will be hosting a Burns Supper on Saturday 23rd 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 £19.95 per person for 3 courses and a very enjoyable evening. (Please let them know if you would prefer the veggy haggis to the meaty version).

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

Early booking is recommended. Last year not everybody who left it until the last minute was able to get a seat.

If you are not sure whether you would enjoy our very own Burns Night, let me assure you, you will!

14 December 2015

Consultation: Dartmouth Road Streetscape Improvements

Lewisham Council is conducting a consultation process to agree significant improvements to Dartmouth Road between the junction with London Road and Thorpewood Avenue. The Council would like to receive further comments on these documents from the community, to inform the continuing detailed design process.

Please respond either email to transport@lewisham.gov.uk. The closing date is midnight on Sunday 17 January 2016.

Full details on: https://lewisham-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/regeneration/regeneration_and_asset_management/dartmouth_road_streetscape_improvements?tab=info


09 December 2015

Sports News - Forest Hill Park FC

Clayton Walters tells us about Forest Hill Park Football Club, our local team in the Kent Invicta league.

Due to our success working up the leagues, we play our home matches at Ladywell Arena. This is due to the fact that the stadium must be of a suitable standard (graded by the FA) to compete in the Kent Invicta league at Step 6 level of the National League System. The league has requirements for floodlights and other facilities for the ground grading standards.

We have progressed quite rapidly and are key in providing a good non-league level of football within our community and beyond. It's vital that we continue to compete and offer coaching to some local schools and clubs within our community.

Club History
Forest Hill Park FC was officially formed in 1992. A group of keen young footballers (Dean Dennis, Peter Stephens & Clayton Walters) - residing in the Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park – decided to form a team, registered with the Football Association, so that they could compete in a structured football league - a progression from the weekly matches in Honor Oak Park.

The club name derives from the area links between Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park. The club badge was designed around this idea; each elevated arrowed tree stands for each founder member, and the Oak tree of Honor, in One Tree Hill, which is a woodland park offering superb views over South London and beyond.

We joined forces with local side Lewisham Steelers, and entry into the Crystal Palace and District Sunday league in 1992 proved to be a positive step. Many of the players were playing a higher level of football on Saturdays, and due to the success of FHP, it was decided that Saturday football was the next step. Entry into the Bromley & District League was achieved. Our home ground was at Burbage Road in Dulwich for a few seasons, but it was agreed to move back into Lewisham borough. After that, for two seasons we competed in the South London Federation League, during which time we were runners up in the league cup.

We then transferred to the South London Alliance league 2001, playing at Catford Wanderers Sports ground. The committee members of the sports club saw our potential and requested that we play under the name of Catford Wanderers FC ‘FIRST TEAM’. We obliged for two seasons but it was felt, by the committee members, that Forest Hill Park FC must retain their identity and consequently reinstated their name with the league. A new dawn ensued as FHPFC, with the club name back and a new home ground secured in the heart of the borough at Ladywell Arena. Progression through the South London Alliance League followed, as Division one champions 2005/06 and runners up in the premier division for the following two seasons.

Entry into the Vandanel Kent County Football league was gained in 2008. In the second season FHP were crowned Division 2 West Champions and gained promotion to Division 1 West. The formation of a new Step 6 league in Kent was on the horizon, open to clubs of suitable standings. FHP fitted the membership criteria and applied to join the new league, but bizarrely a ruling from the FA deemed the application unsuccessful. In spite of the disappointing news, in the 2011 season FHP won the West Kent Challenge Shield.

A slow building process by linking with other clubs in Lewisham allowed younger players a pathway into adult county level football. FHPFC have always strived for progression and enjoyment of grass roots football by forming partnerships with other groups, gaining the prestigious charter Standard accreditation in 2010, The FA intermediate status, Lewisham Football Partnership, with a newly formed reserve side for season 2011/12. In season 2014/15 FHPFC were Hospitals Charity Cup finalists and were successful in their renewed application to become members of the National League System Step 6 Kent Invicta League for 2015/16.

For details of fixtures check out their website:
Twitter @FHPFC
And you are welcome to attend home matches at Ladywell Arena.

08 December 2015

Member's Profile - Dr Penelope Jarrett

How long have you lived in Forest Hill?I have lived in Sydenham or Forest Hill since my parents moved here when I was one year old. My siblings and I attended Eliot Bank School. My sister, sister-in-law and I all went to Sydenham School; my brother and brother-in-law both went to Forest Hill School, so I feel quite rooted here.

I was away in various places at University or work for 14 years, then came back in 1994. Oliver and I moved into our current house in Forest Hill in 1997.

When did you join the Forest Hill Society and which committees have you been on?I was at the founding meeting of the Society 9 years ago in the Dartmouth Arms Pub. At that time I did not know any of the other committee members, but we quickly agreed to work together, and I was involved with organising our inaugural general meeting at the Friends Meeting House. Since then I have been on the planning committee. I have no professional expertise in planning, but I am interested in what our environment is like, and do not mind asking lots of questions.

Do you enjoy using Forest Hill swimming pool?I remember walking to Forest Hill Pools from both my primary school and my secondary school to attend swimming lessons. It was part of my childhood. Later, my children had lessons there. So when proposals came up in 2002 to refurbish or rebuild (one pool!) I went to the meetings because I was concerned for the future of the Pools. That consultation did not come to any conclusion, in part because the local community was divided over what was wanted. By the time the next consultation began I was a member of the FH Society committee, and I agreed to be our lay representative on the Stakeholder Group.

The Council brought forward various unacceptable proposals and we had many meetings from 2007 until 2011, with much protesting along the way. I think in the end it was worth it as finally almost everyone got what they wanted: the historic facade building was retained, the actual pools are new facilities built to modern standards - and there are two of them!

What do you do when you're not looking after Forest Hill?I work as a GP in Lambeth, and I row or coach rowing - but I do spend a lot of time looking after Forest Hill! Apart from the Forest Hill Society and its various activities, I am an active friend of the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (mainly this involves baking), I am a governor of Forest Hill School, and I am a member of Perry Vale Ward Labour Party (where I argue a lot about health related issues).

Were you involved in the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign?I became involved with this in my capacity as Honorary Secretary of the Lewisham Division of the BMA. We were outraged by the proposals, both as clinicians and as local residents who use the services. The Trust Special Administrator did not have clue! It was a great campaign to be involved in, with a real communality of purpose between the scientists, clinicians, health policy experts and ordinary inhabitants of Lewisham. My daughter and I went to the High Court to hear some of the Judicial Review, which was a learning experience. It was even better when we won! But we cannot be too complacent: funding cuts and reorganisation of services are still a threat.

What's the furthest you have rowed?The furthest measured distance I have rowed was 31 miles from Lincoln to Boston with a college alumnus crew in September this year. The absolute furthest would have been an attempted cross-channel row in 2013.  This was in a Waterman's Cutter, which has fixed seats; again a crew of veterans, this time all local women. It was very successful in fundraising for the Ahoy! Centre in Deptford (over £40k). However, shortly before we left the French shut their waters to cross channel rowers, so we decided to row to a buoy in the middle and back. Aiming for the buoy was a mistake: we should have just gone to the middle according to the chart and come back. The tides pushed us South, then North, and we were at sea for over 8 hours... I do not know how far we rowed but it was a lot more than the planned 22 miles.

What do you like most about Forest Hill?I like that it is green – lots of trees – and the people are friendly.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in the local area?It is hard to choose these days, but I have always found myself drawn back to the Dartmouth Arms.

What improvements would you like to see in Forest Hill?I really wish we could bury the South Circular in a tunnel! And indeed anything which makes life easier for pedestrians and cyclists. Otherwise, I am always in favour of more trees and greenery (Quetta does a great job!), and I love a variety of independent shops, cafes and restaurants/pubs.

Business Profile - Sugar Mountain

Most people in Forest Hill know Pauline Wright, owner of Sugar Mountain on Dartmouth Road, but we wanted to know more about the person behind the sweets and ice cream.

What made you want to open a sweet shop?
Originally another local and I were planning to open a coffee shop with a sweet shop within, where The Perryvale is now - but it didn't quite work out so I decided to open a sweet shop on my own, which suits me down to a tee as I'm just a big kid at heart!

Did I see your shop on TV?
Yes, recently ITV's Lorraine filmed a fashion shoot at the shop which was shown in early September, but watch this space as a pilot was filmed recently by a local TV and film director for CBBC. We'll have to wait and see what happens with that.

I hear you have a bit of a 'musical' past, can you tell us more?
 I trained at The Urdang Academy of Performing Arts which was in Covent Garden at the time. Amongst other things I did a stint in Starlight Express, but the funniest thing I did was dance in an Always Ultra advert when they first started selling them. It took a while before I lived that one down!

When did you move to Forest Hill?
 I moved to FH about 16 years ago and before that I lived in Beckenham for a while, and Brockley for a few years. Before that I lived in North London. But I first moved to London from Glasgow in the 80's which is why I've got a funny accent! I must say that after living in FH I'd never live anywhere else. I love the vibe and feel of FH and most of all the community spirit.

What positive changes have you seen in Forest Hill since you opened the shop?
The pools have re-opened and V22 have moved into Louise House (I'm looking forward to the community space when it's finished). Lots of independent shops have opened including The Archie Parker, The Butchery, Aga's Little Deli, Best of Both and Kids on The Hill, and The Framing Salon to name a few and I'm looking forward to more new shops opening soon on Dartmouth Road. One of my favourites though is our street piano.

You've been involved in lots of community activities including setting up a grotto for santa in previous years, and Forest Hill Fashion Week. What has been your favourite memory?
I've loved doing all of these, so it's hard to choose. My favourite event recently has got to be the FHFW alternative catwalk show with Pavement2Catwalk. For this we worked with Seniors Lewisham (aka Silver Threads), as well as people affected by mental health issues, physical disabilities, homelessness, addiction and domestic violence. Myself and Donald are planning on extending this part next year by working with more groups in the community.

My all-time favourite memory is the fundraiser I did for The Evelina Children's Hospital a couple of years ago which I done because my little customer Riley has a rare kidney disease. She's now doing really well after her transplant. This was such a fun event which included my shop landlord singing, another of my little customers playing classical music on the piano, an auction where all the other shop keepers donated items and last but not least dancing a Greese medley with other traders, customers, and friends. The best part of the event was raising around £1000 for The Evelina.

Are you involved in Forest Hill Traders Association?
There's quite a few of us that are active in FHTA and we all bring something different to the table which works really well. We'll be launching a new website soon to coincide with the unveiling of our new shop directory which will be at the station forecourt. It will be very different from the stand that's there at the moment. It will be made from bronze castings and treated oak with a sculpture on the top. You'll have to be at the unveiling to see the amazing sculpture that Cyrus from The Framing Salon & Stag & Bow has designed for us.

What advice would you offer to somebody wanting to open a shop in Forest Hill?
Do your research. I did a year’s worth of research before I opened. Check what business rates you will have to pay on the unit you are taking on as this can sometimes be a bit of a shock if you're taking on a large shop. Last but not least come and have a chat with the local shop owners. Most of us chat to our customers, so know what they would like to be added to the independent shops we have already.

If there was one thing you could change in Forest Hill, what would it be?
Pedestrianise Dartmouth Road so we can have a street party every weekend.

07 December 2015

The Path to a New Visitors’ Centre in Devonshire Road Nature Reserve

Those of you who know the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve will have seen the site develop over the last decade and a half from a run-down, underused bramble patch to the vibrant, lively place it is today. A host of projects from digging ponds to building permanent garden shelters and paths have transformed the place and the Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve have become experienced at delivering projects and events to involve the whole community.

We now want to tackle the big one; we want to replace the crumbling, 40 year old pre-fab classroom that serves as a visitor centre with a purpose built, ecologically designed flagship building. More than that, we want to involve volunteers from the community to deliver the building, as we have with all the other infrastructure projects.

A good deal of preparatory work has been done over the last few years; we’ve attended courses on community building and consultation, got to grips with funding applications, learnt green-oak carpentry skills, installed a living roof, dug and cast foundations and spent countless hours dreaming and discussing the project. What we need now is fund-raisers, architects, craftsmen and willing volunteers to get involved with all stages of the project, people who have that feeling that they have something to contribute but lack an outlet for their energy.

If you are interested and feel you can contribute, please contact Jacob Twyford at jake at fhsoc.com for more details.

Article by Jake Twyford

Forest Hill Traders Association reject Library Proposals

Forest Hill Traders have come together to oppose Lewisham Council's plans to convert Forest Hill Library to a Community Library.

"We do understand the Council has a need to cut costs and that there is an opportunity to reduce outgoings by re-structuring the existing council-run libraries in the borough.However we wish to stress in the strongest possible terms that in our opinion a community library would not be suitable for the Forest Hill, nor would any change of use of the current space on the ground floor into a café, or indeed any other commercial operation."
Full text of their letter to Sir Steve Bullock can be read here.

06 December 2015

AGM Update

The Society’s AGM took place at the Honor Oak Pub on 22 October. Chairman Michael Abrahams began by looking back over a successful year for the Society. For the third year running, the Royal Horticultural Association judged our planting at the station and on the adjoining High Roads to be “Outstanding”. The Society was prominent in the successful bid to the Greater London Authority for funding to improve the public space in front of Louise House. Our planning workshop had also informed plans to improve Dartmouth Road, which will begin to be implemented in 2016.

Thanks were due to Kirkdale Pianos for replacing the street piano at the station, which continues to be a much loved source of fun and entertainment.

The Society had arranged talks on climate change and local history and continued to press for improvements to rail services. Most services have now been restored following major disruption at London Bridge Station and the Society would continue to make the case for late night services especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

Expanding on Michael’s review, Quetta Kaye summed up some of the Society’s environmental achievements during the past year. The launch of the Edible High Road in May had been a great success with shops sponsoring tubs and the Horniman Museum donating free plants to encourage people to grow their own. Hundreds of bulbs planted in the Horniman Triangle had added colour to this important community space while Sydenham School pupils had helped us clear litter from the High Roads.

Alisa Owens, the Treasurer, said that while expenditure had exceeded income during the year, this was planned and the Society’s financial position was “healthy”. There was no need to raise subscriptions but new members were always welcome.

And going forward – the issues that matter to local people
A major purpose of the AGM is to give local people the opportunity to talk about the things in Forest Hill that matter to them. This year the discussion focused on the busy Forest Hill Library.

Local residents were concerned about proposals to build two blocks of flats and new houses on Eliot Bank and the demolition of a large house in Dacres Road. In both cases, the Society will share with residents planning experience and expertise. Also, there continues to be a desire to see improvements to Forest Hill’s play areas and green spaces.

Electing a New Executive Committee
Finally the AGM elected a new committee to take forward the Society’s work. Michael Abrahams was duly re-elected as Chairman, along with Alisa Owens as Treasurer, John Firmin as Secretary and Belinda Evans as Membership Secretary.

The Executive Committee was strengthened by the election of four new members: Alistair Dey, Brendan Cuddihy, Andrew Orford and Rob Owen. The following existing members were also duly re-elected: Quetta Kaye, Hilary Satchwell, John Wysocki, Jake Twyford, Katherine Willett, Penelope Jarrett, Sheila Carson, Alona Sheridan, Katrin Klinger and David McKenzie.

Article by John Firmin, Forest Hill Society Secretary

05 December 2015

Rock n’ Roll in Forest Hill

Alistair Dey recalls Forest Hill’s pop and rock music heritage
The newly rebranded Signal pub in Devonshire Road, both now and in its various incarnations from The Railway Signal to The Hob, has a long and proud tradition as a venue for live music in Forest Hill. I have seen several bands there and this got me thinking about Forest Hill’s rock ‘n’ roll and pop music heritage.

The Capitol cinema (now the Capitol pub) on London Road was a venue for pop groups in the 1960s. But the premier venue for pop music in Forest Hill was the Glenlyn Ballroom at 15A Perry Vale. This later became Crystals Snooker Club and is now the JK Banqueting Suite. Many soon to be very famous names played there – including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black. The advertising flyer from probably December 1963 or 1964 (courtesy of SE23.com) shows the “star bands” lined up for the month.

The early 1960s group most famously associated with the Glenlyn  Forest Hill was probably The Who. I had long known that The Who had played regularly at the Glenlyn Ballroom. But an amazingly comprehensive (and presumably accurate) article in Wikipedia lists the 26 times The Who played at the Glenlyn in Forest Hill between 13 September 1963 and 29 June 1964. Most of that time, though, they were known as The Detours or The High Numbers before finally changing their name to The Who later in 1964.

In his 2012 autobiography, Pete Townshend of The Who says that in 1963 “our audience was mainly Mods. A few venues like the Notre Dame Church Hall in Soho and the Glenlyn Ballroom, Forest Hill were true Mod strongholds where fashion leaders, called Faces, displayed new outfits and dances like fashion models”.

Pete Townshend also tells the story how at the end of December 1963, The Who supported the Rolling Stones for the first time at a gig in Putney. From the side of the stage, Townshend watched them play and became an instant and life-long fan. As Keith Richards, the Stones guitarist, waited for the curtain to open he limbered up by swinging his arms like a windmill. A few weeks later The Who again supported the Rolling Stones, this time at the Glenlyn Ballroom and when Townshend noticed that Keith Richards did not use the windmill trick again, he decided to use it. Thus, Pete Townshend’s windmill swinging guitar threshing trademark was born in Forest Hill.

The Who played one last time at the Glenlyn Ballroom on 21 January 1966 after they had become famous and later dedicated their 1973 album Quadrophenia in part to the “kids of Forest Hill”.

The Who supported the Rolling Stones at least twice at the Glenlyn Ballroom. The Stones bass player was, of course, Bill Wyman, who would presumably have known Forest Hill quite well as he was born in Bell Green in 1936, just round the corner from the bottom of Perry Rise in the now demolished Miall Road which is now where Dillwyn Close and Miall Walk stand.

Forest Hill’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll son is Francis Rossi, guitarist and lead vocalist of Status Quo. Francis was born in Forest Hill in 1949 and attended Our Lady and St Philip Neri primary school in Forest Hill and then Sedgehill Secondary School in Bellingham. At Sedgehill he met Alan Lancaster (from Peckham) and formed a band in 1962 which, after going through various names and changes of personnel,  became Status Quo.

The Quo hold the record of more hit singles (62 between 1968 and 2010) than any other band in UK chart history. Their first hit was the quasi-psychedelic “Pictures of Matchstick Men” in 1968. They soon changed styles completely to become a denim-clad hard rock and boogie band. I was a great fan in the 1970s. They were musically fairly unadventurous perhaps, but hugely successful and satisfying and you knew exactly what you would get with a Status Quo single in their 1970s heyday.

For those with an interest in Forest Hill’s pop and rock music past there is some good stuff and reminiscences on the Transpontine and SE23.com websites.

04 December 2015

Environment Committee Report

How do you make a chore less of a challenge? Have additional volunteers!

It certainly made a difference when eight people, including some recently joined members of the Forest Hill Society, turned up on Sunday November 1st to help with our winter tidy-up of all the town centre and station planters. Brightly coloured winter flowers had been requested and paid for by London Overground’s station manager, David Rowe, so with such amazing help it took less than two hours to plant all the wallflowers, cyclamens and pansies which you will be able to enjoy throughout the winter months.

The Forest Hill Society was delighted to receive its third "Outstanding" award at the RHS's "It's Your neighbourhood" ceremony in July, receiving eighty-eight points from a total of one hundred. The judge remarked that the group was employing good gardening practices appropriate to the somewhat difficult sites we manage. He appreciated the environmental activities we are engaged in, such as composting, recycling, creating and maintaining green space, as well as addressing such issues as fly-tipping, fly-posting, litter, and graffiti.

The judge commented that he could see that what we did made a difference to local people, and he also  recognised the way we worked in partnership with other organisations receiving support from local businesses, organisations and the local council in the form of grants.

And since then our other major plant donor, the Horniman Gardens, have donated over one hundred (surplus to their requirements) forget-me-not plants to add even more colour to our town centre, which our volunteer group planted on Sunday 22nd November. While we try to steer clear of seasonal bedding plants, those we have planted tend to self seed and will, we hope, emerge again next year.

Christmas is not far away and the Forest Hill Society is dusting off last year’s baubles and lights – and acquiring some new ones – ready to decorate the town centre’s Christmas tree when it arrives, probably in the last week of November. Our festive Christmas tree “switch-on” of the lights is planned for 3.30pm on Saturday December 5th.

Article by Quetta Kaye

03 December 2015

Forest Hill Library Under Threat

During October and November 2015, Lewisham Council consulted residents on the future of the library services, including Forest Hill Library. The proposal from Lewisham Council was for Forest Hill, Manor House, and Torridon Road libraries to become Community Libraries.

Community libraries are owned and managed by not-for-profit organisations and rely on volunteers to keep the building open and services running. Since 2011, five community libraries have been operating in Lewisham, in Crofton Park, Sydenham, Grove Park, Blackheath and New Cross. As a result these libraries have a track record and can be compared to the seven libraries still managed by Lewisham Council.

These smaller libraries were under threat of closure in 2010, so the fact that they have remained open and have increased visitor numbers should be seen as a positive result. However, in terms of providing a working library they have not faired so well. All of the community libraries have seen massive falls in the numbers of books being lent out, with figures in 2014 showing a drop of between 60% and 90% since 2010. Nationally there has been a fall in book borrowing but nothing to compare to this. In the case of Forest Hill library the book borrowing rate fell by just 6% over the same four year period.

Forest Hill is now the third largest lender of books in the borough (after Lewisham and Deptford libraries). In total Forest Hill lends more books than the five community libraries put together. Forest Hill also runs a variety of other activities including IT training, primary school visits, film nights, and seasonal events as an integrated part of the high street.

The Forest Hill Society has written in opposition to the planned change of Forest Hill library to a community library with concerns regarding: a likely drop in book lending, lack of space for alternative (profitable) uses of the building, the number of volunteers needed to run a library for 66 hours a week across 7 days, and lack of professional library staff to make the library focused on books and information technology.

You can read the full submission from the Forest Hill Society here.

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock is due to make a decision on the future of our libraries on 9th December and we will keep you updated.

02 December 2015

Dates for your Diary

Sat 5 December, 3:30pm - Christmas Tree lighting with carols, Forest Hill station

Saturday 23 January, 7:30pm - Forest Hill Society Burns Night, All Inn One, Perry Vale

Sat 5 and Sun 6 December - Horniman Christmas Fair

Thursday 10 December, 7pm - Forest Hill Ward Assembly, Christian Fellowship Centre, Honor Oak Road

Saturday, 23rd January, 10.30am - Crofton Park Ward Assembly, Venue TBC

Thursday 28 January, 7pm - Perry Vale Ward Assembly, Venue TBC