04 March 2016

What a weird winter – weather-wise!

The warmest and wettest winter on record (at the time of writing) has played havoc with plant life and put environmental issues right at the top of the national agenda. Luckily London was spared the horror of the floods which affected other parts of the country.

But we certainly didn’t expect to see hosts of golden daffodils nodding and dancing in the Horniman Gardens the first week of January (see picture). Our efforts to brighten Forest Hill continue with bulbs we planted last year springing up again in the planters in front of the Job Centre in Dartmouth Road, the tubs on the station platforms, on the corner near Barclays Bank and the Horniman play triangle. However, the colourful cyclamens we planted in the station’s forecourt didn’t last long. By Christmas all but two had – how shall I put it – disappeared... and they were not eaten by squirrels!

Literally, on a brighter note, we are negotiating with LOROL to have fairy lights permanently entwined in the trees in the station’s forecourt to bring a bright welcoming feel on dark winter afternoons and a festive feel in the summer and (hopefully to send a message to all those litterbugs), among the many things in the pipeline for this year to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Forest Hill Society, we are organising a Trash Mob litter pick-up in the town centre and a Flash Mop wash down of the subway planned for Saturday March 5th from 2.00pm. Both activities will link us into Keep Britain Tidy’s national “Clean for the Queen” weekend. If you would like to join in for about an hour we can supply a selection of very attractive plastic tabards bearing a suitable logo, gloves and pick-up grippers. It should be fun!

We are hoping to give the town centre Edible High Road tubs a bit of a spruce up around Easter. With help from Wes Shaw and his Horniman Gardens’ planting team, our free-to-all-comers distribution of edible/food producing plants will happen again on Saturday May 7th from 2.00pm in Forest Hill station’s forecourt. If permission is granted for us to install brightly painted car tyres as plant containers on the pavement between the Perry Vale station exit and the entrance to the car park, we will extend our neighbourhood planting by working with Rockbourne Youth Club to brighten up this area. Watch the Forest Hill Society’s on-line newsletter for more details about when this happens.

Since Shakespeare and St George share a celebratory day on Saturday April 23rd and the Bard is in the news as 2016 marks 400 years since his death, these events, together with the 10th anniversary of the Forest Hill Society, mean we will be organising some delightfully exciting things - possibly combining the Shakespearean, Georgian and Foresthillian in April.

Watch this space...

03 March 2016

BakerLewisham 2030

It seems that most of our recent newsletters have mentioned the Bakerloo line extension, despite the fact that it won’t actually come to Forest Hill. However, there is little doubt that the Bakerloo extension would mean a lot for South East London, and particularly north Southwark and Lewisham.

At the end of 2015 TfL announced the preferred route would go to Lewisham via two stops on the Old Kent Road and New Cross Gate. At New Cross Gate there would be an interchange with Southern and Overground services to Forest Hill.

In reality this line would make little difference in journey times for Forest Hill commuters, as the interchanges at London Bridge and Canda Water would continue to provide better connections.

TfL have decided that the case for extending beyond Lewisham has not been made successfully, but that should not delay the extension to Lewisham.

The Forest Hill Society believes that although an extension to Hayes remains hard to justify on the existing line through Catford, consideration should be given to an underground extension to Catford or Bell Green, where growth in housing could justify the cost. It would also take some pressure off Lewisham as an interchange station for SouthEastern, Bakerloo, and DLR.

The TfL document also recommended a new station at Camberwell on Thameslink and interchange at Brockley, to the Nunhead to Lewisham line that goes over the station. This is part of a wider plan where TfL will take over much more of the London rail network, just as they have done with Overground. This would happen over many years starting from 2019, as franchises come to an end. Potentially this could result in new stations (Camberwell), more frequent services for commuters (Crofton Park), and many other possibilities.

While we await more details, we will continue to lobby for better services on the existing network - regardless of who runs it.

02 March 2016

Business Profile: Canvas and Cream

Canvas & Cream is a exciting mix of food and art located on London Road. It was set up by mother and daughter team Joanna and Emily Gore, and we wanted to know more about their business, so we asked Joanna a few questions:

How did Canvas and Cream get started?
From the outset this was a community venture.  We found this building on London Road - it had no electricity, no walls, no plumbing and many holes in the roof, floors, walls etc. It was a big project and we invited local people to get involved. 

We taught people how to tile, how to build walls, decorate, even wire up lights and lay parke flooring. We learnt many skills ourselves from books, the internet and from past DIY endeavours, it was a fantastic experience, a vast public art project.

What did you do before opening C&C?
Before conceiving of Canvas & Cream I was a free-lance artist for 12 years working alongside people in disadvantaged groups such as those in the mental health system and deprived youths. I studied Fine Art and went on to get a PhD in the Role of the artist in exposing and challenging hierarchical structures and concepts in institutions.

Emily, my daughter, had been working in events for large entertainment company, she also had her own small bakery business supplying cafes and markets with her homemade cakes. She is a talented baker and has since taught her grandmother to bake many of Canvas & Cream’s impressive cake offer.

After time as a lecturer in fine art at Middlesex university, and running art courses for Tower Hamlets council I got together with Emily and we decided to use our combined knowledge and experience to create a community arts hub, and close to our home in Forest Hill seemed like a great place.

What is the most popular dish on your menu (or your favourite)?
Our ‘to die for’ stack of pancakes served with berries, crème fresh and pure Canadian maple syrup, they are not only made from the usual pancake ingredients but also include cream cheese!

In the evening it has to be our oven Roasted Duck Breast with Creamy Mash, Roasted Fig, Tangy Red Fruit & Wine Jus or the Mushroom Cobbler, a Creamy Mushroom & Tarragon Stoop baked with Cheese Scones, both warming and perfectly comforting for the winter months.

I must mention our fantastic variety of delicious homemade cakes, not just because we have a fabulous display but because most of them are made by my mum!

As well as the restaurant what other activities do you do?C&C Gallery is an artist led contemporary art gallery that collaborates with artists to promote and exhibit innovative and thought provoking art by emerging and mid-career artists. We build long term relationships so as to support artists who share an interest in narrative, identity and personal and cultural histories whose work is intellectually challenging and socially relevant.

The next show up is ‘Heavy Weather’ - new works by Trevor Appleson an established Artist/photographer who has found innovative and interesting ways of photographing the weather. The opening is on Friday 11th March, 6.30pm and everyone is welcome.

We also have six studios currently occupied by three illustrators, an upholsterer/artist, a flower/sculptress, and a fashion designer and we currently have one vacant studio.

What do you think is the best thing about Forest Hill? I love the mix of people and sense of community in Forest Hill, we get customers of all ages, from elderly couples for cream teas, lots of babes in arms, to young professionals meeting friends for cocktails, families for Sunday Lunch. Forest Hill know how to be a community and it is wonderful to be a part of that.

What would Nigella say?A few years ago Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi visited the gallery, Saatchi bought the whole show by Rafal Zawistowski before it opened. We were delighted when Nigella tweeted about the inspiring cakes and fairy light gift-wrap.

In Search of the Lost Stations of Forest Hill

By Alistair Dey

One of the best things to have happened to Forest Hill in recent years was the opening of the London Overground line in May 2010. This has provided more travel options, opened up new places north of the river and attracted more passengers. The London Overground and National Rail go through the two stations in SE23 – Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park. Forest Hill Station, which opened in 1839, was originally known until 1845 as Dartmouth Arms after the nearby public house which still exists (though not in the original building) a few doors up from the station at 7 Dartmouth Road.
But there used to be two other railway stations in Forest Hill – Lordship Lane and Honor Oak stations. They were both on the now closed Crystal Palace High Level Line. Steve Grindlay’s article on this Line in the Summer 2014 (Issue 28) of the Forest Hill Society Newsletter gives information on the Line and the stations.

Suffice to say here that the two lost stations were both built in the 1860s during the heyday of railway expansion, partly to carry visitors to the Crystal Place -  which had been relocated from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1854. The two stations were both closed on 20 September 1954, several years before the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. It seems that the High Level Line was never quite as successful as hoped. The destruction of the Crystal Palace in the fire of 1936 and the damage and disruption caused by the Second World War were blows which sealed the eventual demise of the Line and the stations.

Lordship Lane Station

With Steve’s article in my rucksack, I set off to locate the two stations. The former Lordship Lane station was located just to the west of Sydenham Hill, and south of London Road, where Sydenham Hill meets London Road. This is the point where London Road becomes Lordship Lane at the junction with Wood Vale, virtually opposite the blue sign that says Welcome to Lewisham. The streets which now occupy the former station are Lapse Wood Walk and North Crofts, Sydenham Hill which both have SE23 post codes but are in the Borough of Southwark, not Lewisham.

In his article Steve states that nothing, apart from sections of the embankment, now survives. This is true and if you did not know a station had been there I doubt you would know that the embankment was once part of a railway station and line. The Green Chain Walk now rather incongruously weaves through the houses and apartment blocks here.

Lordship Lane is the station which was famously painted by Camille Pissarro in 1871 from his viewpoint on the railway bridge which still exists in nearby Sydenham Hill Woods (see above). The painting is commonly known as “Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich” and I have also been to an exhibition where it was described (presumably mistakenly) as “Lordship Lane Station, Upper Norwood” (which is where Pissarro lived). These possibly reflect that in 1871 Forest Hill was not yet a widely recognised district of London.

Honor Oak Station (without the Park)

Wood Vale would once have been one of the best served roads in London for railway stations. With Lordship Lane station at its southern end, it also had Honor Oak station at its northern end. Honor Oak station was the next station from Lordship Lane on the Crystal Palace High Level Line going towards London. The line went over London Road on a bridge and Honor Oak station was located just to the east of Wood Vale and between it and the flat part of Canonbie Road where they meet Forest Hill Road, opposite Brenchley Gardens. No trace of the station remains, although as with Lordship Lane station, there are some traces to be seen (with a little imagination perhaps) of the railway embankment in Buckley Close and the Wood Vale Estate. Apparently, the old station master’s house remains nearby on Canonbie Road.

So nothing much remains to be seen of the two lost railway stations on the western edge of Forest Hill but it was interesting to explore and see, as far as possible, exactly where they were and what they are now.

01 March 2016

Forest Hill Bowling Club

Would you like to play outdoor lawn bowls this summer? We are looking for both new bowlers and those with previous experience to join us this season.

Bowls is a game for men and women of all ages and sporting abilities. Participation promotes good health and offers the opportunity to make new friends. Coaching (by qualified coaches) and support can be provided for those wanting to start learning the game.

From mid April until the end of September, Forest Hill Bowling Club will hold club evenings on Tuesdays and Fridays from 5pm. League matches against other clubs are held on Wednesday afternoons and Thursday evenings, with friendly matches held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Come along to the green and club house in Wynell Road, off Mayow Road.

For more information email peterharris1955 [at] hotmail.com