27 May 2016

Forest Hill Pools – Something for Everyone

Public swimming pools have existed on the current site in Forest Hill since 1885 though much has changed —  there is no longer first and second class swimming pools or a separate entrance for women!

After closing in 2006 for health and safety reasons, it took pressure from the Forest Hill Society and other local groups to get the Pools re-built and re-opened in September 2012. Now run by the Fusion Corporation on behalf of Lewisham Council, the Pools have gone from strength to strength, with individual memberships now exceedsing 2,000. The Pools play host to local clubs, support several schools and represent a vital community hub.

John Firmin spoke with Ben Weldegabriel (pictured in the centre), the Pool’s Customer Relations Manager to find out more about our local leisure centre.

Ben has worked with Fusion for seven years and before coming to Forest Hill worked at ‘Wavelengths’ in Deptford.  For Ben, a key role for the Pools is making exercise fun. The Pools and the associated facilities must be easy to access and use.  There is, for example, an after school club. And the service is tailored to the customer’s needs, whether they want to use the facilities daily or just occasionally. Families are encouraged to join with Family Choice, which offers the full range of facilities for adults, and swimming lessons and ‘soft play’ for children.

The 25 metre and learner swimming pools have timetables to cater for the many different groups that use them.  Swimming is free for under 16s, over 60s and people with disabilities.  There are sessions assigned to women only and families.  The Pools play host to the Saxon Crown Swimming Club, an underwater hockey team and a Triathlon Club, all of which welcome new members. 

Upstairs, there is a modern gym and two exercise studios for classes including yoga, Pilates, indoor cycle, Zumba and body conditioning for all abilities.  The studios also host exercise classes for people with heart conditions referred by their GPs and for over 60s.  Personal training is available or you can just do your own thing. Either way, a full induction is provided for every new user to help to ensure their health and safety.

Forest Hill Pools doesn’t cater only for exercise; it has a  community room which is available for hire, and the facilities can be used to host birthday parties, with tailored packages making use of the swimming pools and the studios.

Becoming a member at Forest Hill Pools enables you to use other Fusion-run leisure facilities in Lewisham. Locally, these include badminton courts at Forest Hill Boys School, squash courts at the Bridge, in Kangley Bridge Road, the Ladywell running track and spa facilities at Glassmill Leisure Centre in Lewisham which includes sauna, steam and ice rooms.

How about setting yourself a personal goal this summer?  Forest Hill Pools will be running a ‘Swim School’ - an intensive course of swimming lessons, and classes in how to become a life saver.

Whatever your fancy, there is something for you at Forest Hill Pools. 

Article by John Firmin

22 May 2016

Bid for Forest Hill Library

The Forest Hill Society, together with Forest Hill Traders Association, and V22 (who run artist studios in Louise House) have formed a consortium to take over Forest Hill library as a community library. Our consortium bid for Forest Hill Library is now available online for you to read and discuss. We have removed some sections containing financial data and personal information, but we are sure that this version will give you an idea of our bid.


We believe that running a successful community library in Forest Hill will be about having the experience and skills necessary to manage and maintain a listed building, making the best and most appropriate use of the space to generate revenue, working with the community to provide essential support, volunteering time and community guidance, and staying true to a vision of providing community benefit and a valuable resource for learning.

Incorporating local residents and associations within a joint management committee to run the library will bring confidence that the local community is fully committed and involved with the continued running of the building. The community is the ideal seat for an ongoing dialogue on service provision, ensuring service provision remains current with local requirements, public engagement, and the long‐term development of community‐based services.

This partnership bid brings together V22's considerable experience of renovating, maintaining and transforming buildings, and operating them for arts and community benefit, with representatives from the Forest Hill Society, Forest Hill Traders’ Association, and experienced individuals. Together we bring considerable collective experience of building management, a deep‐seated local knowledge, a wealth of community contacts and goodwill, and experience of making civic improvements for the benefit of local residents. We believe this bid combines an exceptional team that will be well placed to provide library services; to find, motivate and manage the local volunteers so essential to running a community library; and to build upon the core services of a library to make it a true community space run for and by the community ‐ building upon the needs, interests and aspirations of the people of Forest Hill.

Read more at: http://www.freewebs.com/foresthill/Library%20bid%20-%20public.pdf

05 May 2016

Local Writer Shortlisted in National Awards

Forest Hill resident Chrissie Gittins – a renowned poet, writer and playwright – has been nominated and shortlisted for a national award. Chrissie is shortlisted in The Saboteur Awards, run by leading literature publication The Sabotage Reviews. The Awards are one of the highlights of the publishing and live literature world.

Her book ‘Between Here and Knitwear’, which was launched at Kirkdale Books in Sydenham, is shortlisted in the short story category alongside 4 other collections.

Following the shortlist selections, the final winners will be decided by an online vote

Chrissie Gittins commented: "I’m absolutely delighted to be shortlisted in the these awards. I’ve watched the Saboteurs grow over the last six years and now I’m thrilled"

Chrissie's new children’s poetry collection ‘Adder, Bluebell, Lobster’ will be out in August; it uses 40 of the 110 nature words deleted from the Oxford Junior Dictionary

To vote in the Saboteur Awards please go to: http://sabotagereviews.com/2016/05/01/the-shortlist- for-the- saboteur-awards- 2016/   Voting is open now until 24th May.

03 May 2016

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve – building for the future

If it takes 1 architect around 30 days to design a building, CAN 30 architects design a whole building in a weekend?

Devonshire Road Nature Reserve wants to create a sustainable, low energy building using timber, and which can be partly constructed by volunteers and timber building enthusiasts. The building will be used to support the Nature Reserve’s environmental, education, community and musical activities and events.

We are looking for architects, engineers, timber building specialists, environmental engineers, sustainability/green building specialists, landscape architects, building surveyors, planners, designers and others to volunteer to help to DESIGN a new building for the nature reserve over the weekend of the 21st and 22nd May 2016.

The Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (DRNR) is run and managed by the Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve is located next to the Railway Line in Forest Hill, SE23. The existing building is not in good condition and does not provide the accessible environment that the reserve needs to support the ecology and biodiversity of the site, the programme of educational activites, and the local community.

The Forest Hill Society and Devonshire Road Nature Reserve are organizing a design charrette to survey the site, review the project brief, produce concept designs, plans and detailed proposals for the new building. Over the course of the Saturday we are planning design workshops, presentations to the Nature Reserve Committee, design review, drawing and visualisations, and other activities to support the design of a new building. On the Sunday we will continue the design work and hold an exhibition of the proposals developed so far.

Details: 10-6pm Saturday 21st May and 10-2pm on Sunday 22nd May
Refreshments and lunch will be provided for participants of the design charrette
Please bring drawing materials and any technology you need

Please email us to sign up by the 14th May 2016
email: infodevonshireroad@gmail.com

Edible High Road - Plant Give Away

Saturday 7th May from 2pm in the Forest Hill station's forecourt, The Forest Hill Society will be continuing its Edible High Road project by giving away free edible plants to all comers to encourage people to think green, grow their own and eat healthily.

02 May 2016

Garthorne Road Nature Reserve Walk

Saturday 14th May, 2:30pm - Garthorne Road Nature Reserve guided tour. Starting from the end of Beadnell Road

Bitter Vetchling photographed in 2008 in Garthorne Road Nature Reserve. A plant in the pea family which is rare in London.