Showing posts with label newsletter1210. Show all posts
Showing posts with label newsletter1210. Show all posts

16 December 2010

Chair's Report

Thank you to everyone who came along to the AGM in October and to those who volunteered for the various committees. 

With budgets being cut, we’re relieved that the new swimming pools appear to be secure. However, the Horniman’s future is less clear. Although the Department for Culture, Media and Sports has ring-fenced the funding for the Horniman Museum until 2015, it is one of seven non-national museums for which they are hoping to find alternative sponsors by April 2011.  Contrary to initial rumours, there is no question of cutting these museums adrift without any financial support in the unlikely event that no new sponsorship arrangements can be found, but it will be difficult to arrange equivalent funding.
On the transport side, it has just been announced that the Thameslink programme will go ahead in its entirety but that the rebuilding of London Bridge will not be complete until 2018, instead of the original 2015.  This is a mixed blessing; a long term benefit with the Southern services from Croydon being replaced by direct Thameslink trains through to St Pancras (via London Bridge), but the delay will make it more difficult to get the Charing Cross service reinstated.  We will continue to lobby for this.

We have had a meeting with Tfl, LOROL (the people who run the new train service) and various politicians to discuss the Red Route.  There have been some changes as a result and a promise to move and fence off the commercial bins outside the station which should improve the appearance of the station forecourt. 

I know many of you prefer traditional methods of communication, so you can write to the Society at: Forest Hill Society, c/o 2 Perry Rise, LONDON,  SE23 2QL.  For those who are internet savvy, we are in the process of adding PayPal as a means for payment of your subscriptions; we will add the appropriate button to the website as soon as this is available.  If you have not paid your membership since October, then your membership is due now.  Please contact Belinda at the above address or email Belinda at if you are not sure whether your subscriptions are paid up. 

Wishing you a very festive holiday.

Little Russets!

How do you celebrate the birth of a child?  Sara and Tom Russet came up with a very special idea which benefits the whole community.

On the 13 June our first child, Nell Margie Russet, was born. Trying to think of an apt way to celebrate her arrival we happened upon the idea of planting a tree.  We wanted to bring our name into the equation so we decided upon a Russet apple tree. Living in a flat with little garden space, we thought that Albion Millenium Green was the perfect location as it is a lovely public space that we could visit even if we had to move away and the tree could be part of a bigger, community project. To this end we have ordered two trees which will arrive in the last week of January. As we need to clear the undergrowth towards the back of the orchard prior to our planting, it looks like we'll probably do it the first weekend of February.

Photo Competition

Horminan Gardens

SE23 is so photogenic with its great views, green spaces and varied architecture. So early next year, we’ll be launching a photo competition with the best pictures being made into a 2012 Calendar.
Horniman Clock Tower

We’re still finalising the details. In the meantime get your cameras ready for those dramatic winter shots of Forest Hill glistening in the snow.
Gridlock on Honor Oak Road

As you can see, some of our members have already sent us their photos.

"Welcome Aboard"

Louise House Memories - Early Years Centre

Sylvia Maguire came across our work on the history of Louise House on our website. For almost 25 years, she managed the Early Years Centre which was housed in the rear building (laundry block). The Centre closed in August 2008 when the whole of Louise House was due to be demolished. She felt that no history of Louise House could be complete without a few words about the Centre:

The Centre served hundreds of local children aged two to five over many years.  Skilled and specialist support was offered to the children, many of whom had special educational needs and/or behavioural difficulties. Support was also offered to their parents and carers.  In 1984, when I started at Louise House, the ‘crèche’, was in the west end of the building.  The other room was a community hall offering sewing classes and childminder pop-ins.  Prior to my time, I believe that there was a luncheon club for the elderly. 

During the 80’s, few schools had nursery classes so the crèche provided pre-school education for the 3 to 5's.  We had an excellent reputation and long waiting lists.  Later, as nursery classes opened, we developed more specialised childcare to support the children who would find integration into a nursery class difficult.  I was told that the crèche had been opened post war, to care for the children of mothers attending the health clinic based in the front building.

Memories of Louise House

The Open Day at Louise House on Saturday 18t September was a real success with all our tours fully booked The highlight was meeting Ethel Roberts, whose mother and aunt had lived at Louise House in the very early twentieth century. Ethel accompanied by her husband, Ted, and her son, Stephen, was visiting the building for the first time and for her it was a deeply moving experience. She very kindly shares her highly personal impressions.

Florence King
Louise House has been a place of curiosity for me for most of my life and at nearly 85 years of age, it was high time my curiosity was satisfied.

The ‘Open House’ day offered me the chance to visit a place I had first heard about as a child. It was known to me and my brothers and sisters - six of us in all - as ‘the orphanage’ and it was our Mother and Aunt, Florence (left) and Eleanor King (below), who had been in ‘the orphanage.’ They were around ten and fourteen years old when they arrived there.

My Mother rarely mentioned her time at Louise House. On the rare occasions she did, it was clear to me, even as a child, that the memory was an unhappy one. My Aunt, who went on to become a headmistress and to receive an MBE from the Queen (see below) avoided the subject altogether and never told even her lifelong friends about her time there.

However, there was one particular conversation which sticks in my mind. I was about 14 years old and I was sitting in our kitchen with my Mother eating a boiled egg for breakfast. She told me that at Louse House the girls were given an egg for their meal as a special treat on their birthday! I thought even then that if an egg was a special treat, what must the meals have been like the rest of the time? She went on to explain that, when this rare treat happened, you would let your best friend dip her bread in your egg and she would let you do the same when it was her birthday.

My first impression of Louise House when I visited in September was that it was much smaller than I had imagined. The other overwhelming impression was that despite the passage of time, the building still had an air of sadness about it and I could only think of my Mother, Aunt and all those other young children living there, separated from their families. How many lonely tears were shed night after night? What made them happy? It doesn’t bear too much thinking about. After my visit and for the rest of the day I felt quite down and my consolation was that despite the unhappy start, my Mother had a large, loving family in later life who remember her with love to this day. Although my Aunt never married, she had a rewarding life and was loved by her family and those whose lives she helped in the years that followed.

Miss Eleanor Martha King, MBE was born in 1897 as one of six children. She was orphaned around the age of 10 years old and was sent to Louise House with her sister Florence. It is likely she had a much better education at Louise House than she would have had if her parents had lived.

Eleanor went into domestic service and on to study at Birmingham University from where she obtained a degree. She travelled and was, according to her niece, Ethel Roberts, “a confident lady, with a strong conviction that she had a job to do.”

She became the progressive headmistress of the Rosemary Street School in Bristol. The school was unusual for its time in allowing the parents to be involved, arranging camping holidays in the countryside for children and their parents. She also ran one of the first multi-cultural nurseries at a time when society was much less tolerant.

In 1953 Eleanor was awarded the MBE by the Queen in recognition of her outstanding service to the City of Bristol.  Miss King died in 1968 and in 1990 the City of Bristol erected a plaque in her honour on the Old Quaker Friars building in the

If you have personal information about Louise House, Stephen Roberts, grandson and great nephew of Florence and Eleanor King, would like to hear from you at

Honor Oak Station Improvements

Honor Oak Park footbrudge renovations

You may have seen that Honor Oak Park Station is looking a bit of a mess at the moment – especially compared with the other slick stations along the London Overground line. The good news is that Network Rail is bringing forward improvement works. This includes renewing the staircase to both platforms, repairing and redecorating the footbridge and resurfacing sections of Platform 2. The bad news is that this work won’t be finished before March 2011 at the very earliest.

The problem is that work was delayed whilst Southwark Council dealt with the waste dumped in the land behind the station. Only once this work has been completed can Network Rail begin the essential job of building a new retaining wall on Platform 1. The whole platform will then be resurfaced. However, landslip behind this platform is a long-term problem and we’ve been told off the record that the job could easily take a lot longer than predicted.

So, whilst the station is in a mess anyway, Network Rail is going to “use the opportunity to bring forward some planned improvement works for the benefit of our customers and to avoid another period of work in late 2011,” London Overground (LOROL) tells us. They go on to say, “This has taken some complex planning which has resulted in a slight delay in the works commencing in earnest.  We hope that you appreciate this short delay will minimise the overall level of disruption for station users.”
As for lift access to the platforms, our advice is don’t hold your breath….

Timetable Changes

No need to rush - there'll be another in a minute
From December 12th, we’re getting two additional trains at 17:24 and 18:24 from London Bridge to Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill.  Unfortunately, the slot for these trains is just three minutes after the previous Forest Hill train so it will make little difference to waiting times.  However, it does mean that if you want to make sure you get a seat, then these are excellent trains to aim for because there should be plenty of room on board!

There will also be a later train from Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate which is timed to coincide with the last Southern train from London Bridge (leaving Dalston Juncion at 00:15, Canada Water at 00:31) and in May 2011, all overground trains from Crystal Palace and West Croydon will continue to Highbury & Islington.

Forest Hill Walking Group

The Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies are planning to start a walking group next year. 

Each walk will consist of a four to six mile walk from points accessible from our railway stations and will be held on the first Saturday of each month.

If you’re interested, please contact or call her on 020 8699 2115.  Further details will follow nearer the time, but the proposed walks are:-

5 February 2011: London Bridge- Canary Wharf - option to Island Gardens.  Leaders: Andrea, Pat and Steve.
5 March 2011: Thames Path West - Richmond to Putney.  Leader: TBA
2 April 2011: Rainham to Purfleet LOOP. Leader: Quetta.
7 May 2011: Coulsdon South (Spring flowers) Leader:  Bev.
4 June 2011:  Otford.  Leader:  Bev/Annabel.
2 July 2011:  TBA
6 August 2011:  Waterway link.  Leader: Steve.
3 September 2011: Edenbridge.  Leader: Pat. 

Forest Hill Pools move into Final Stages

First Class Victorian Pool in Forest Hill

Lewisham Council has now appointed the principal building contractor for the new Swimming Pools. Construction firm, Wilmot Dixon, will take over the site early in the new year. This is very exciting news at a difficult financial time for the Council  and confirms the final go-ahead.

Hilary Renwick, Lewisham’s Head of Cultural Services, has confirmed that construction will start towards the end of January. The current timetable sees the main bulk of the building completed in May 2012, with completion and testing of the services from June to August.  The Council is hopeful that the new facility will open to the community in September 2012. This is a complex site and there are a number of areas which could delay completion, but it is still exciting stuff and fits in very well with the end of the Olympics.

A further piece of good news is that the Council has invited all those on the stakeholder group to an initial meeting with Wilmott Dixon so that they can meet the Contractor's team and enjoy a celebratory drink.  Those of us on the Stakeholder Group very much look forward to continuing to work with the Council and its design team during the construction phase and hope to be able to influence the way that the building will be run and managed.

We will provide regular updates on progress from the New Year.  We are planning a series of interviews with different people involved during the project - from the architect to the site manager - so do let us know if there is a particular member of the team you are interested in hearing from.

Louise House

The other good news is that the contractors have requested to use Louise House, the former Girls’ Industrial Home, as their site office during the build. It may not be the most glamorous of uses for Louise House but it may have some long term benefit. The company says the parts of the building they use would be returned “in the same or better condition”. Importantly it would keep it in use and heated over two winters while the community continues to work with the Council to find a financially viable use for the building.

On further questioning, Wilmott Dixon confirmed that its tender includes redecoration of the areas occupied, services testing and enhancement, with Fire Certification and an allowance for building rates, service connections and consumption costs.

The old laundry block at the back will not be used.

A magical PopUp Night

Jazz at From the Forest Coffee Shop

Tibetan Monks trudging through the snow. Carols wafting out of the shoe shop. Drummers making Robert Stanford’s estate agents rock. Something very special happened to Forest Hill on Thursday, 2 December.
Our town centre was taken over by a ‘community happening’ that saw local businesses become mini performance spaces, local people transform empty shops into Christmas pop-ups, and local pubs and restaurants turn into community networking venues.
We had people sipping cocktails at the old Post Office, becoming rock and roll stars with full band and recording kit at the Hob and then relaxing with a massage at Carers Lewisham.
It all started when Hugh Dames mentioned the idea at our AGM in October. We thought it sounded exciting and ambitious so the Society got on board and worked hard with him to turn this idea into reality.
The snow, ice and cancelled trains forced us to make last minute changes to the schedule. But it all came together and there was a real buzz that night.
Hugh hopes the event “inspired the people of Forest Hill to see themselves as members of a vibrant and dynamic local community with great skills, shared interests, groups and associations, businesses and facilities that benefit us all.”
Richard Hibbert said “This is the largest event the Society has helped organise. The response was fantastic and people are already asking us when the next pop-up is happening!. A lot of people worked very hard in freezing conditions to make this event a success. We are very grateful to them and immensely proud that our community can do this.“

Find out more at
Christmas Decorations at Stag&Bow

Sydenham Garden's new Resource Centre

Steve Bullock opens Sydenham Garden resource centre alongside Jennie Graham, Chief Executive, Jim Sikorski, Chair of Trustees; Christine Dow, co-worker; Paul Shoebridge, volunteer; Katie Hooper, staff

On the last weekend of November, hundreds of residents braved the cold to watch the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, open Sydenham Garden’s brand new resource centre.

For over eight years, the award-winning local charity has supported people in Lewisham and Bromley experiencing mental and physical ill health without having its own building from which to operate.

The charity has been fundraising to build the resource centre since 2005 and thanks to numerous grants and donations construction finally began in March 2010. The centre will provide much needed indoor space for therapeutic gardening and art sessions in the coming Winter months.

Chief Executive Jennie Graham says, “the building means we can expand the range of opportunities we provide for our service users.”

The building, which sits beside the garden and nature reserve, was designed by Architype to blend with the surrounding environment with sustainable features including a solar panel, thick insulation and a heat recovery system to reduce dramatically the heating requirements. It also has a bio-diverse roof to provide new habitats for wildlife.

Entrance to the garden is via a wooden access gate on Holland Drive, off Queenswood Road.  For more information about the charity, visit, contact it via email on, or telephone on 020 8291 1650.

15 December 2010

Dates for Your Diary

Thursday, 16th December 11-2pm - Horniman Triangle hedge-planting. If you’d like to help restore the ancient hawthorn hedge, you are asked to pre-book by emailing

Saturday, 15th January 11am-1pm – Crofton Park Assembly. St Hilda's Church Hall, Courtrai Road, SE23 1PL
Sunday, 16th January - 11– 3pm – Bring and Take at Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. See article for further details.
Sunday, 16th January 3pm – Devonshire Road Nature Reserve. Planning meeting for London in Bloom entry. See article for further details.
Monday, 17th January – 7.30-9.30 — Forest Hill Assembly. Sydenham Girls’ School, Dartmouth Road, SE26 4RD
Tuesday, 25th January – Burns Night. All Inn One, Please book directly 020 8699 3311.

Thursday, 17th February – Time and venue TBC. Perry Vale Assembly.

Forest Hill will Bloom in 2011

The Forest Hill Society plans to enter the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ section of London in Bloom 2011. With a February deadline for submission, the inaugural ideas and volunteers planning meeting will be held on Sunday, January 16th 2011 at 3pm at the Devonshire Road Nature Reserve.

The geographical limit – what “our neighbourhood” will cover – will have to be defined, but we will probably start modestly in our first year, perhaps limited to a small central patch to see how things develop. We might just start with the green area in front of Forest Hill station. But all decisions have yet to be made on what and where to plant; what sponsorship or funding we might attract and generally how we are going to proceed with this new enterprise. So input from the wider community is essential: this is YOUR Forest Hill so we need to know what you think about sprucing it up with flowers.

If you have ideas, this is your chance to be involved in beautifying Forest Hill and greening up our town centre. If you have green fingers and would like to get dug in, would like to learn, or just have some thoughts about what you would like to see, please contact Better still, come along on the 16th to help shape our entry.

With a little bit of work, Forest Hill will bloom in 2011.

Bring and Take Event - 16 January

This is a fun event to promote recycling, reuse and reduction of waste. Simply bring along any items you no longer need between 11.00 and 15.00 on Sunday 16 January 2011 and swap them for things you do - completely free! Articles should preferably be easily portable and in good condition. Items such as books, CDs, DVDs, clothes, plants, lamps, kitchenware, bikes and other unwanted goods can find a happy home.