12 December 2007

Save our Services

The Forest Hill Society is joining forces with the Sydenham Society as we step up our campaign to oppose cuts to our rail services.

Our area is being asked to pay a high price for the new East London Line extension. The current timetable review proposes cutting the current number of trains to and from London Bridge by a quarter. In the evening, through-trains from Charing Cross will be scrapped. On top of this, the twice-hourly service from London Bridge to Victoria may also be axed.

The Societies are jointly lobbying our local MP, Jim Dowd, our London Assembly member, Len Duval, and several others about the loss of trains to/from London Bridge and the cancellation of through trains to/from Charing Cross in the evening. Part of this lobby effort concerns the possible cancellation of the London Bridge to Victoria loop trains.

Although many people use this service, when the East London Line extension opens in 2010, there will potentially be a better service, starting much earlier in the day. However, it will involve a change of trains at Crystal Palace in both directions. We are lobbying to find out what any possible rebuild at Crystal Palace will involve since accessibility is, obviously, a concern there.

At the same time, we have issued a press release highlighting our campaign. We will be presenting the petition – which now has over a thousand signatures – to Network Rail and Jim Dowd MP.

We still feel our efforts should be concentrated on resisting cuts to our London Bridge services. The big problem is that London Bridge will be losing up to 3 'terminal' platforms to accommodate the Thameslink 2000 services that will run from St Albans to Brighton. But that service will not benefit any Forest Hill or Sydenham residents unless some trains stop at New Cross Gate. At the moment, there is no indication that this will happen. We will continue lobbying.

The East London line will be closing on 22nd December until it reopens in June 2010.

Then there will be 8 trains an hour of 4 carriages each in both directions, passing through Forest Hill and Sydenham, on their way to West Croydon (4tph) and Crystal Palace (4tph) in the south and Dalston Junction in the north (8tph). These trains will be part of Transport for London's network and will be called the London Overground. At last, Forest Hill will be on the Tube map. Also, although not directly a Forest Hill affair, TfL took over the running of the North London line on 11th November. There will be a link at Highbury and Islington with the ELL when the northern extension is opened in February 2011.

Elsewhere, the Transport Sub-Committee is looking into the water leak onto Honor Oak Road from the Havelock House flats area; the continuing problems with traffic passing through Forest Hill on the South Circular Road, particularly the dangers to pedestrians crossing the road outside Forest Hill station; the continued speeding in Perry Rise; the need for Yellow Box junctions on the South Circular outside Forest Hill Station and probably at the bottom of Honor Oak Road. We’ll report back on results in the next Newsletter.

New History Tour of Forest Hill

Steve Grindlay led over 80 residents on a history tour around the streets of Forest Hill in what proved to be the most successful social event of last year.

Steve has now agreed to host another event, this time in the more convivial surroundings of The Hob, to look at how Forest Hill was built, including the origins and growth of Forest Hill and Honor Oak. It will look at the buildings, transport, entertainment, trade and even some notable residents.

Come along to hear Steve at The Hob: Wednesday, January 30th 2008 at 7pm.

Holding the event in-doors this time will allow Steve to share his wealth of rare photos and documents, and it also allows those of us less inclined to march 5 miles up and down the local topography to enjoy the event in comfort.

Members and non-members welcome.

Christmas Walk

How well do you know Forest Hill? One man has made it his mission to walk every street in SE23 by the end of the year and has built up an impressive knowledge of the area as a result. Now, together with the Forest Hill Society, he’s inviting people to join him on 15th December for the final leg of this epic journey.

Rob McIntosh has been pounding the uneven pavements of SE23 all year, taking photos and making inquiries as he goes. He then shares the experience with the wider community through his entertaining blog (online diary) http://se23streets.blogspot.com.

Rob works from home and, as he explains, “sometimes you need an excuse to get out the front door and stretch your legs. Most importantly, I hope to pass on some of my enthusiasm for the area.”

So, if you fancy keeping him company as he completes his task - and sharing a few mince pies along the way - do join us at 11am on 15th December at the corner of Brenchley Gardens and Brockley Way.

We’ll walk down to the Horniman, past Forest Hill Station and finish at the
Rockbourne Youth Club’s Christmas Fayre (41a Rockbourne Road) - approximately 2.5 miles.

The Forest Hill Society will have its own stall at the Rockbourne Christmas Fayre with plenty of information about the Society, and a few SE23 cakes to get you in the community spirit. At 1 o’clock, Rob will give a short presentation about his walks, the best views, the prettiest streets and most interesting places in Forest Hill.

The Fayre is 12-4pm and promises plenty of stalls, food, games and raffles. For more information, contact Cerys or Jane at rockbourneyouthclub@gmail.com or call 020-8699-0163.

Pub Crawl

Around twenty lucky souls met on the evening of September 23rd for a tour of the varied drinking establishments in SE23.

We started with the cavernous Capitol, the Art Deco cinema restored to its full glory. Some of the braver amongst us risked the candlelit ghost tour of the upper circle and beyond, kindly led by “Bean.” As luck would have it, Bean is psychic and was able to point out several ghosts who appeared along our route.

Then onto the Forest Hill Hotel, hidden away off Stansted Road, and, sadly, often overlooked by many of us. It’s a modest and traditional back street boozer complete with a nice array of hanging plants outside.

We then traipsed on to the much talked about The Honor Oak where James and Jamie had laid on a small feast.

Backways past the former games' factory, and the former hemp factory, to the edge of the known SE23 universe and the Blythe Hill Tavern. We just fitted into the cosy snug of this real Irish pub. As ever, the Guinness was near perfect. Thanks to Con for that.

Views on the next itinerary - and the best day of the week to do it - to the editor please!

Hanging on in Forest Hill

It’s Halloween and Mayow Park is pitch black, save for the ghoulish faces of the pumpkins flickering in the cold night air. The children have morphed into witches, devils and worse. And there’s an overwhelming smell of sticky sweets, which they tricked or treated earlier in the evening. We’re all set for a Bat Walk!

It was late in the year for bat hunting. As the insects they eat disappear, the bats start thinking about hibernating. But they made a special effort for Halloween. We didn’t actually see any but we did pick up a couple on our bat detectors – electronic devices, which convert the bats’ ultrasonic, echolocation calls into audible clicks. These were pipistrelles – small, fluttery bats, which are the ones we’re most likely to encounter in our parks and gardens. They may even roost around our houses in summer without us knowing they’re there. They weigh less than a pound coin but they eat up to three thousand insects a night.

Our guide for the night was Colin Higgins, the new warden of Sydenham Hill Wood who works for the London Wildlife Trust. He says we’ve got at least six bat species in Forest Hill out of seventeen species nationally, which is pretty good seeing as they are in decline due to loss of habitat and the overuse of pesticides which kill off the insects they eat.

At Sydenham Hill Wood we’re lucky enough to have brown long-eared bats - one of the more attractive UK species. They normally prefer rural locations, such as farms, but the wood has a good supply of insects and plenty of places to roost.

There is a Woodland Bat Roost Project, funded by the SITA Trust, with extra help and money from Southwark and Lewisham Councils, which seeks to improve the wood as a habitat for bats. This involves surveying the woods with bat detectors and putting up bat boxes to provide extra roosting spaces. There are also plans to carry out building works on the disused railway tunnel to improve it as a bat hibernation site.

The best way to see and hear bats is to go on a bat walk. These are public events held in many parks and public places generally between May and September, when bats are most visible.

And if you’d like to do your bit for bats, you can contact the Bat Conservation Trust at www.bats.org.uk or 0845-1300-228

02 December 2007

Rail Campaign in the South London Press

Press Release from Forest Hill Society taken up by the South London Press.

24 November 2007

Find us on Facebook

The Forest Hill Society now has a group on Facebook. If you are a member of the Society, or just want to show your support, you can join us on Facebook's Forest Hill Society Group.

By joining the group you can spread the word about the Forest Hill Society to your Facebook friends and help us to increase our visibility and membership.

At this point in time the Forest Hill Society (not the Facebook group) has almost 400 members. If you wish to join you can download a membership form.

A date for your Christmas diary

Keep a little time free in your diary on December 15th 2007.

The Rockbourne Youth Club's Christmas Fayre takes place that day from 12pm to 4pm, and the Forest Hill Society will have a stand to meet and recruit new members and also to raise funds for the Youth Club.

Robert McIntosh will present a short talk on Walking the Streets of SE23, his project to walk every street of this area in 2007, with some of the stories and photos from the attempt.

If you are interested, Robert's final walk will start at 11:00 and finish at the Rockbourne Youth Club in time to for the Fayre. If you want to come along for the walk all are welcome. Meet at the corner of Brenchley Gardens and Brockley Way (you can read more details and get a map of the route here)


Rockbourne Youth Clubs Christmas Fayre
Saturday 15th December 07
Rockbourne Youth Club, 41a Rockbourne Road, Forest Hill, SE23 2DA

Click here for a map

We would like to invite you to our first Christmas Fayre, there will be stalls, food, games, raffle.

If you are interested in getting involved or having a stall on the day please contact Cerys or Jane on 020 8699 0163 or email us at rockbourneyouthclub@gmail.com

10 October 2007

Further dates for your diary

All events in this article are non-FH Society events but are happening in the local area. If you would like to publicise events in Forest Hill that are open to all members of the public, please send us details.

Perry Vale ward meeting
There will be a Perry Vale Ward meeting hosted by the ward councillors, Susan Wise, John Paschoud and Alan Till to dicuss how ward members would like the next round of the Localities Fund to be spent. The £10,000 is funded by the Mayor Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, and the meeting will take place at St.George's Church (at the junction of Vancouver and Woolstone Roads SE23) on Monday, 29th October, at 7.30pm. All ward members welcome.

Rockbourne Youth Club - 25th Birthday
All members of the community, young and old, are invited to the 25th birthday of Rockbourne Youth Club. With information about the history of the club and current activities plus light refreshments.
20th October, 2-5pm, 41a Rockbourne Road, SE23 2DA
RSVP - Cerys: rockbourneyouthclub@gmail.com

The Lemon Grove - Coffee shop
News is coming in on se23.com that, after much waiting, a coffee shop will be opening on London Road. This is welcome news and we wish all new businesses in the area every success. More details here and on SE23.com as we hear them.

05 October 2007

AGM 3rd October

Many thanks to all of you who attended the second Annual General Meeting. There was a really good turn out with over 90 people and, although we did overrun a bit, plenty of people stayed to the bitter end to take part in a useful discussion of Forest Hill issues.

We’re very grateful to our guest speaker, Jeff Lowe - sculptor and founder of the Havelock Walk artists’ quarter- for inspiring us to fight against ugly shop signs, unsightly wheelie bins and filthy pavements. It was quite a call to arms and a real eye-opener seeing our streets through the eyes of an artist!

John Hughes from the Library gave us an update on the refurbishment. It’ll be reopening on 11th December and it sounds like it’s going to be a real asset to the community. There’ll be much better access and facilities for young and old and did he really mention the possibility of showing FILMS there?

Keeping up the community theme, the Rockbourne Youth Centre appealed for help running the youth facility as it celebrates its twenty-fifth year.

For the remainder of the evening, we got through various bits of Society business including electing (in many cases, re-electing) officers. We’re delighted that Michael Abrahams will be continuing his excellent work as Chair of the Society. And some new faces volunteered to be Committee members bringing fresh blood to the organisation.

So, one year on from our inaugural AGM, things are looking pretty healthy for the Forest Hill Society and we look forward to many dynamic and successful campaigns in the year ahead.

The full minutes of the meeting will be posted on this website very soon and we look forward to seeing you all next time.