28 February 2016

10th Anniversary of the Forest Hill Society

Back in April 2006, not long after the closure of the swimming pool, a discussion started on SE23.com about forming a Forest Hill Society. The idea quickly took hold, so on 23rd May 2006 a meeting took place at the Dartmouth Arms to set up the Society. Our first AGM was on 25th September 2006, where we elected the first committee, and I was proud to be elected as chairman.

Over the last ten years the Forest Hill Society has done lots to improve the area and influence decision making about Forest Hill. There have been some great improvements in this period, most notably the new swimming pool and the increase in train services. For the first few years these two issues dominated most of our discussion, but in 2010 we started to turn our attention to the high street and the public environment around Forest Hill.

Page 2 provides a timeline of some of the key events for the Forest Hill Society, it shows just how much we have done in ten years. Two major initiatives have been particularly instrumental in changing Forest Hill; planting in the town centre, and setting up a food fair.

Flowers in the Town Centre
Planting started modestly with an application to the ward assembly for money to install a couple of planters in the town centre. This was successful, and in 2011 we starting planting. Since then we have increased the number of planters which are maintained by volunteers  from the Forest Hill Society. To help our work around the station we arranged for the installation of a watering system for the station forecourt.

We took the planting further with the Edible High Road, which brought small trees and flowers to many of the shops in Forest Hill town centre. Many of the 2015 set of trees are doing well and our intention is to give them a spruce up in the spring.
Food Fair - gone but not forgotten

The Food Fair started almost by accident as a one-off event for St George’s Day 2012. Due to popular demand this became a monthly market and continued until the end of 2013, when the weekly farmers’ market was firmly established in Horniman Gardens.

The food fair led directly to two new shops (butcher and deli) in the high street, a general increase in footfall in the town centre, as well as providing an important element in our successful bid for Portas Pilot funding, and of course the weekly farmers’ market.

These are just two projects! There have been many other activities that have added up to so much more than the sum of their parts.

After 10 years we are still going strong, with some ambitious ideas to further improve Forest Hill and to keep Making Forest Hill an even better place to live. A massive thank you to everybody who has been involved and supported us through the years.

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