26 September 2009

Blaqua gets the party started

There is a creative vibe to Forest Hill these days, with the live/work artist community of Havelock Walk, the renowned ED Comedy at The Hob, and the fashion businesses of Bunka, Mayo Maker and Blaqua. Forest Hill has recently exported that vibe to Carnaby Street as Blaqua is now selling its eye-catching designs in one of London’s hippest fashion quarters.

The launch event on August 13th involved dozens of Blaqua customers marching around Carnaby Street wearing their Blaqua creations accompanied by photographers, musicians and even a fire breathing male model. It certainly made an impact.

Blaqua is a true Forest Hill success story, having been established in 2005 by long term FH/HOP residents Simon Green and Debbie Jeffery, whose combined creative skills have resulted in a unique design style and lots of fans around the country and abroad. It is just the kind of unique and memorable business that makes a place like Forest Hill a destination for shoppers.

Previously called Oliver London, the shop offers bespoke tailoring, shirts, cufflinks, jewellery and even handmade leather shoes. The Forest Hill shop, located at the end of David’s Road, attracts local residents and curious drivers whose regular commute takes them past the ever-changing window display. The steady stream of customers convinced Simon and Debbie that the best future for their brand was to develop the retail side of the business and allow them to meet the customers in person.

They have set about expansion, keeping the Forest Hill shop but also taking their brand to the fashion elite, opening a second shop on Newburgh St. behind Carnaby Street itself.
It is exciting to see a Forest Hill business doing so well, and helping to put the area firmly on the map.

Read more about their exciting plans at: blog.blaqua.net

Who was Janusz Korczak?

When English Heritage decided to list Louise House in Dartmouth Road Grade 2, one of the reasons given was the “decisive impression” it made on Janusz Korczak when he visited in 1911. Korczak is little known in this country but, as local historian, Steve Grindlay has been finding out, Forest Hill should be proud to be linked with his name.

Janusz Korczak was born Henryk Goldszmit in Warsaw in 1877. He took “Janusz Korczak” as a pen-name when he began writing in his early 20s. He studied medicine, became a paediatrician, a teacher and then worked in an orphanage, where he began developing his ideas about working with children.

In the Autumn of 1911, Korczak visited London. Political unrest in Warsaw, with rising anti-Semitism, left him uncertain about his future and he hoped his visit would relieve his depression.
While in London, he came to Forest Hill to visit the two industrial homes established here in the mid-1870s and see how they cared for destitute and orphaned children. Louise House and Shaftesbury House, Perry Rise (demolished a few years ago), were founded on principles similar to those Korczak was developing of giving respect, care and support to needy children.

His visit to the industrial homes made a deep impression on Korczak. He described how the girls had a laundry and were also taught sewing and embroidery. They walked each day to the local school (Kelvin Grove). Korczak also mentions an aquarium and rabbits, guinea pigs and pigeons kept as pets “like a miniature zoo”.

Thus inspired, Korczak returned to Warsaw to develop his own orphanage along similar lines to those he saw at Louise House.

Korczak believed that children had rights and his proposals were eventually incorporated into the United Nations 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child.

His orphanage thrived, his enlightened ideas influencing teachers across the world, until 1 September 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. In 1940, the Warsaw Ghetto was created, a small area of the city to which Jewish people were confined. Korczak was told that he would have to move his children and staff to premises within the ghetto. Korczak was given many opportunities to leave but each time he refused saying he would not abandon his children.

On the morning of 6 August 1942, German soldiers ordered the occupants of the orphanage to line up in the street. Korczak made sure his children were dressed in their best clothes and carried a favourite toy. The orphanage staff and 192 children were then herded through the streets of Warsaw towards the railway station with Korczak at their head. During that fateful walk, Korczak was again given the opportunity to escape and again refused. Eye-witnesses said that his only concern was to comfort, reassure and support his children. The group was forced onto a train bound for Treblinka extermination camp. That is the last that was heard of them.

To have such a courageous and principled person so strongly associated with our area is a rare privilege and something we should cherish and celebrate.

Korczak Links:

25 September 2009

Council Supports NoToTrainCuts! Campaign

The council last night unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Mayor to write to Southern Railway, TfL and the Secretary of State for Transport in support of our campaign against the cuts in National Rail services later this year.

The motion was put forward by Green Party Councillors Dean Walton and Darren Johnson of Brockley ward. An amendment put forward by Bellingham Councillors Ami Ibitson and Alan Hall (Labour) added the final paragraph concerning the South London Loop service via Denmark Hill.

Councillors Pete Pattisson (LibDem, Whitefoot), John Muldoon (Labour, Rushey Green), Philip Peake (LibDem, Forest Hill), Heidi Alexander (Labour, Evelyn) and John Paschoud (Labour, Perry Vale) contributed to the debate.

The Council RESOLVED that the following motion be agreed
  • “This council calls on the Mayor to write to Southern rail, Transport for London and the Secretary of State for Transport to:
    • Express the council's grave concerns about Southern's plans to reduce off-peak and evening peaktime services to and from London Bridge on the Brockley/Sydenham line from six to four per hour, a reduction of one third, and to oppose these service cuts;
    • Ask for an explanation for Southern's refusal to attend a recent meeting with council officials and residents to explain the planned service cuts and invite them to a further meeting, to include the Mayor himself and ward councillors from affected areas;
    • Seek a full explanation of the planned service cuts and clarification on the maximum capacity of the rail line for both East London Line and London Bridge services;
    • While wholeheartedly welcoming the new East London Line service, oppose any reduction in services to London Bridge that are carried out purely for financial reasons rather than capacity reasons and lobby instead for the maximum possible services to London Bridge.
    • That in the eventuality that it is shown to be unfeasible for the current South London Line ‘loop’ service between Victoria and London Bridge via Denmark Hill to continue to run to London Bridge to facilitate Thameslink works, to urge the reinstatement of the originally intended mitigating measure of diverting the South London Line to Bellingham, as recently recommended by London Travelwatch.”

22 September 2009

NO to Train Cuts

The Forest Hill Society has launched a petition opposing cuts to our train services:

Southern Railways are planning to cut trains to Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, and Sydenham in December 2009 and again in May 2010.

In December 2009 they plan to cut our direct evening service from Charing Cross, running all trains from London Bridge. This is a well used service and provides a direct connection from the West End after 7:30pm. As this is an off-peak service we reject Southern Railway's claims that there is no capacity through London Bridge.

In May 2010 Southern Railways plan to reduce the PEAK SERVICES (as well as off-peak services) from London Bridge by over 30%, from 6 trains per hour to just 4 trains per hour (the same as the off-peak service). They will continue to run 6 trains per hour in the morning, meeting the demands on the line, but will not provide a similar service in the evenings, hoping that customers will switch to East London Line services or put up with serious overcrowding.

We reject the cuts to services through Forest Hill and call on Southern Railways to run the same level of service as they do in September 2009.

We call on rail authorities and local politicians to support our calls to maintain 6 trains per hour in the evening peak and direct services from Charing Cross in the late evenings.

Please sign the petition at http://nototraincuts.notlong.com

Update: BBC Online have covered this campaign on 22nd September. LBC will be covering this issue tomorrow morning.

21 September 2009

Forest Hill Conservation Area Response

The Forest Hill Society has responded to the Forest Hill Conservation Area Consultation. Overall we welcome the extensions and character assessment, however we have asked Lewisham council to consider extending the conservation area further than they have specified.

Lewisham's proposed extension:
  • Dartmouth Road including swimming pools, library and Louise House
  • Thorpewood Avenue - Christmas Houses and 1930s semi-detached houses
  • Benson Road

Forest Hill Society's proposed additional areas for extension:
  • Round Hill - Christmas Houses and apartment block plus Sir Christopher Wren church spire.
  • Thorpewood Avenue - continuation to include additional houses
  • Waldram Park Triangle
  • Rockbourne Triangle
  • Tyson Road and Honor Oak Road - including green space behind Christian Fellowship Centre
The consultation closes on Friday 25th September and you can complete the survey for Lewisham Council to provide your own response.

Croydon Canal Bi-centennial celebrations - 24th October

Local History Event - Saturday 24th October 11am at Sydenham Station

Come and celebrate the opening of the Croydon Canal two hundred years ago. It passed right through Forest Hill and remains of it can still be seen today. We shall follow the route from Sydenham Station to Dacres Wood Nature Reserve, along the railway line, through Havelock Walk and up David’s Road.

Local historian, Steve Grindlay, will be on hand to explain the historical significance of this important transport link as we go along. We shall finish upstairs at The Hob (opp. Forest Hill Station) at approximately 1pm where Steve will do a presentation including many fascinating documents and images from the canal’s past.

This will take us through to approximately 2pm – lunchtime! We’ve come together with the Sydenham Society to organise a special version of the 23 Club. We’re calling it the 49 Club (combining SE23 and 26!) and it will take place at the Dartmouth Arms which will put some traditional bargeman lunch items on the menu especially for us. Please book directly with the restaurant on 020 8488 3117 if you’d like to join us for that part of the event.

To whet your appetite, Steve Grindlay has written this brief history of the canal. We hope it inspires you to join us on 24th October to hear more.

23 Club News : September 2009

Don’t forget to book for the forthcoming get-together at Babur – an exceptional Indian restaurant celebrating a remarkable 24 years in Forest Hill. It is more expensive than our previous haunts, but we believe you will not be disappointed. They have a lively website: www.babur.info if you want to find out more.

As you know in October we are joining the Sydenham Society – who were inspired by our 23 Club to start their own “26 Club”. Together we are going to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Croydon Canal (which used to go through the centre of Forest Hill). Please note the date is neither the 23rd or the 26th, but on this occasion Saturday October 24th. There is a walk and a talk before lunch – please see the attached information provided by the Sydenham Society. Early booking for lunch is a good idea as we and they expect this to be a very popular event.

Wednesday September 23 at 8pm : Babur – Indian with a touch of class
119 Brockley Rise SE23 1JP, 8291 2400 (look for the tiger above the door!)

Saturday October 24 at lunchtime : The Dartmouth Arms : Croydon Canal Celebrations
7 Dartmouth Road SE23 3HN, 8488 3117

Monday November 23 at 8pm : The Honor Oak pub
More information to follow in October.

Wednesday December 23 : Please note there will be no 23 Club in December

How the 23 Club works The Club is open to Forest Hill Society members and their guests. Please make your booking direct with the restaurant, saying you want to be seated with the Forest Hill Society or 23 Club group. Everyone orders and pays separately for their meal. Do please book so that the restaurant can arrange the seating in advance – thank you.

Mary Sutherland, 23 Club Organiser

12 September 2009

109 Kirkdale Planning Application

The Forest Hill Society has written to object to the proposed development at 109-111 Kirkdale.

Our main concerns are on the impact to the streetscape, access to the rear building, issues of overlooking, inadequate amenity space, lack of parking provision, and the effect this development could have on the redevelopment of the Willow Way site for employment use.

Details of the application can be found on Lewisham's website.
Full details of the letter of objection from the Forest Hill Society can be read here.

11 September 2009

20mph Zone in Forest Hill

Below is the Forest Hill Society response to Lewisham council's plans for a 20mph zone between Wood Vale and Devonshire Road.

The Forest Hill Society Executive, after reviewing the council’s own statistics and proposed plan, could not support this proposed 20mph zone as it is, nor could we support the road humps being introduced in this wholesale manner. There is widespread support for this view from the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents Association (TLERA), although they will respond separately.

This view was confirmed by the council’s own statistics showing the maximum speed that 85% of traffic are travelling at along these roads are in most cases below the 24mph guidelines.

There were some strong views from the Executive committee that most people “would prefer that drivers kept their eyes on the road, and not their speed odometers”. There was general agreement that most people did not perceive a speeding problem in this area, and council statistics showed that there was not a significant accident problem either. One other view/comment was “the money spent on this consultation could be better spent on improving the bus stop at Sydenham Rise, which would only cost £8k-£10k and benefit the wider community greatly”.

Therefore, the Forest Hill Society asks that Lewisham Council abandon this proposed 20mph Zone and humps as is, and instead look at a more targeted, and better value for money approach summarised below:

  • Manor Mount - statistics shows that of 85% drivers are going below 23mph, which is well within government guidelines. The drivers going down the “wrong way” go at 30.9mph because they are trying to avoid being caught.
  • We believe it would be better to have temporary or permanent cameras in place on the one-way Manor Mount System, or a sign saying “mobile traffic enforcement cameras operate in this area” to discourage people entering the wrong way down this road, and thus bring speeds below 23mph and thus no need to introduce a 20mph zone on this street.
  • We support some limited speed restrictions or traffic calming outside schools, nurseries or places where known accident hot spots are, say at junctions. Although, as per council’s own statistics there is no widespread accident problem within the proposed 20mph zone.
  • Waldenshaw Road - This road does appear to have a minor speeding problem of average 27.3 for one-way and 31.5mph for the other, after looking at the Lewisham Council statistics. However, the Forest Hill Society ask that Lewisham Council look to other means of speed control, which does not involve reduction in parking spaces or road humps/cushions.
  • General - If against our recommendation the council does pursue their proposed 20mph zone, then we would be happy to work with Lewisham Council to come up with a sensible plan that is targeted and meets local needs.
In summary we welcome the opportunity to consult on this proposal, and ask that Lewisham Council abandon the proposal and implement the above suggestions as an alternative which will be just as effective, but not be anywhere near as costly to implement and run. The money could be better spent on other road improvement work and real safety measures.

Cuts to Southern Railways Services to Forest Hill

The East London Line is creeping closer to Forest Hill and changes are already underway. From 20th September TfL will take over management of the stations on our line including Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill. Already at Forest Hill we are seeing the footbridge replaced by a new, disabled accessible, footbridge with lifts to both platforms. Passengers with limited mobility will still need to access the station through the main entrance, rather than the Perry Vale entrance, but from there both platforms will be accessible with or without stairs.

Most importantly we are expecting East London Line trains to start running to Forest Hill from June 2010, or possibly a bit earlier.

But on the railway system every silver lining appears to have a cloud and we have learnt that Southern intend to cut some services from Forest Hill and Honor Oak Park from December this year. This is despite intense lobbying by the Forest Hill Society and Sydenham Society over the last two years.

From December 2009 we will no longer have any services to or from Charing Cross. All trains to Forest Hill will start or terminate at London Bridge. This is a real shame as, in the evenings when these trains run, most passengers are coming from the West End. The Route Utilisation Strategy of 2008 described this service as 'well utilised' (meaning that there are usually people standing on most evening trains). Southern claim that their sister company South Eastern require the tracks between Charing Cross and London Bridge for Kent services, but at off-peak evening times there is clearly spare capacity on these lines, just as there is today for our direct services from Charing Cross.

From May next year Southern are planning to reduce daytime off-peak services to Forest Hill from 6 trains per hour to 4 trains per hour. This is not good, but it is not a disaster, as it is relatively recently that these services were increased to 6 per hour, and at off peak they are not always entirely full. However, in the last month we have confirmed with Southern that it is not just the off-peak services that will be effected - THEY ARE PLANNING TO CUT PEAK EVENING SERVICES AS WELL. This decrease to 4 trains per hour will hit passengers travelling all day after 9am, right through the evening peak. Frequent users of these evenings services will confirm that they are already running at maximum capacity, and the removal of 30% of trains is likely to be a real problem for passengers from London Bridge.

This cut in peak services will take effect from May 2010, before the East London Line is scheduled to be running, and even when the East London Line is running it is unlikely to be carrying 30% of existing passengers at peak times - even if everything works perfectly from day one. We know that there is 'surpress demand' on our line, meaning that if there were more carriages and trains then 40% more people would be travelling on our line.

The Forest Hill Society has asked Southern to reconsider these cuts to our services and we have been speaking to politicians to see what can be done before the all important date of May 2010, when we lose 30% of our trains.

Other sites commenting on this issue: