21 April 2021

20th Century History of Forest Hill

 

Recording of the discussion that took place on 20th April 2021 with panelists:

Pip Wedge lived in Forest Hill from 1928 to 1954, including most of the Second World War, and assisted people when Forest Hill station was bombed. He will be joining us from Canada where he has lived since 1965.

Angela Finch is part of the Finch family who have been trading in Forest Hill since 1947. Finches currently focus on bikes, skiing and extreme sports, but once they were one of the largest removal firms in London.

John Hodgett moved to Forest Hill in 1949 when he was two years old, and has lived in the area ever since - in a variety of different streets. John remembers many of the old shops around Forest Hill, some great concerts at the Glenlyn Ballroom in the 1960s, and taking steam trains direct from Forest Hill to Brighton.

12 April 2021

Lewisham Local Plan Consultation

 
The Forest Hill Society has responded to the Lewisham Local Plan Consultation. While broadly supportive of the draft LLP, we would like to see some changes in priorities on some specific issues and these are described in the submission. We also feel some elements should be more precisely articulated all to bring a clear vision for the Forest Hill area over the next twenty years.

The Forest Hill Society’s (the Society) response to the Lewisham Local Plan (LLP) stems largely from the Forest Hill Station and Town Centre Master Plan (Master Plan) created in 2016 in partnership with the Society and Forest Hill-based Discourse Architecture. This Plan focussed on the urban renewal of the town centre particularly around Forest Hill Station and embodied many of the LLP’s Strategic Objectives, particularly around economic growth and housing and are reflected in this submission.

“We have a once in a 100 years’ opportunity to shape the centre of Forest Hill, reflecting the needs and aspirations of people who live and work in the area.”

Included within the response is consideration of:

  • Forest Hill Station and Town Centre
  • Site Allocations in Forest Hill
  • Public Realm Issues
  • Cultural Heritage Issues
  • Environmental and Local Green Space 
  • Aircraft Noise and Flight Paths

You can read the full submission here.

08 April 2021

Town Centre Planting

Springtime in Forest Hill, so it’s planting/tidy-up time:
If you would like to join in some light community gardening we meet in front of the main entrance to Forest Hill station at 2.30pm on Saturday, 10th April. Gloves are essential, and a trowel, although we do have some spares.

No experience needed, but please note that because of the proximity to moving traffic this event is not suitable for small children. We look forward to meeting new gardeners as well as old.

How it started, ten years ago in 2011:



 

01 April 2021

Forest Hill Tunnel Bypass to Open in April 2023

While the high street has suffered under lockdown over the last year, underneath the high street the Forest Hill Society embarked on a top-secret project to radically improve the future of Forest Hill town centre.


In April 2020 a small group of local residents started digging the tunnels to enable the South Circular to travel beneath the town centre, providing a pedestrianised surface level shopping, with all the traffic going underground from Dulwich Common to Waldram Park Road.


Three sites were chosen for the secret tunnel entrances to begin the three sections of tunnel; the former site of the Coop - once rumoured to become a hotel - has been turned into the eastern entrance tunnel, the western tunnel entrance has started from the car park of the former Harvester, and a mid-point tunnel had begun from the former Fairlawn nursery site on Waldenshaw Road. Until they are connected, the three separate tunnels have been nicknamed ‘Rod’, ‘Jane’ and ‘Freddy’. The first “break-through” is expected to occur in June this year, when Jane and Freddy will meet for the first time, completing the first half of the project.

 
At the Harvester site, volunteers have donned baggy jeans and beanie hats to smuggle out earth and have constructed a skate park as a distraction from the tunnelling.


Lockdown and Covid restrictions presented some difficulties for the mining volunteers, but the use of breathing apparatus and the three separate entrances, has allowed work to continue below ground with up to 18 people at any time while maintaining social distancing. Many of the volunteers are from the Forest Hill library, but the temporary closure of the library has meant that many have had spare time to devote to digging - it turns out library staff make excellent miners - and remarkably quiet. The school closures during lockdown allowed us to make use of child labour, with children as young as four able to enter the smaller tunnels sections before adults.


The entrances were strategically chosen to avoid the need to dig down very far to pass under the hill. The South London Clay is easy to dig through without the need for machinery and will yield important raw materials for the local pottery industry.  In fact, there is now so much clay available that local schools have been drafted in to produce hundreds of vases for families and friends.


The lack of heavy tunnelling equipment has been challenging, particularly the use of small garden appliances borrowed from local allotments. Yet, the hardest part of the project has been keeping it secret until this point, and before it was discovered by the authorities.


In total, the tunnel will run for one mile and will be tall enough for a double-decker bus. Air shafts will bring in air from Sydenham Woods, and exhaust gases will be vented from a chimney at the top of the Horniman Hill. Concerns of how fumes might affect Horniman Heights are expected to blow over, but they are being addressed at the highest levels.

 


Flora Pilo, from the Network for Urban Transport Safety, said in a statement “Digging underneath TfL roads is not recommended and should be left to professionals, but would you be able to help with the Bakerloo Line extension?” 

The Forest Hill Society continue to look for new volunteers to join the digging, if you would be interested in helping, please email us.

* Press release issued by the Forest Hill Society on 1st April 2021. Some of the details in this article may not be valid on any other day of the year.