02 June 2012

Newsletter: Pools - Just Weeks Until Re-Opening

Excitement is really building for the unofficial opening of the new Forest Hill Pools in July. Everything appears on track for a 'soft' opening that allows everything to be tested and to gradually work up to full capacity. Tiling is done, sprung floors are in and the pools are being filled. Fusion, the company that will run the pools for Lewisham, are working on activity and pools programmes and getting key staff members in place.

In order to make a real fanfare of about the Pools, to celebrate the achievement of delivering the project and to make sure that every single resident knows about it, Lewisham Council and Fusion are working on an 'official' opening on 22 September. They are planning a big event with lots of activities to include the library, local shops and businesses and hopefully The Horniman Museum. They have asked the Forest Hill Society to be involved and we are working on what we could help with that would tie in with what they are planning.

Newsletter: Young Lewisham Project

Tucked away, quietly along Kilmorie Road there is a Youth Project that offers a variety of programmes to schools and other agencies within the Borough of Lewisham. The project has been in existence since 1974 and in its present location since 1991.

It is probably best known, at least by the young people that have been involved over the years, for being a motorcycle project but there is so much more on offer these days.

The aim of the YLP is to help young people gain confidence through achievement and to enhance their abilities through effective communication and teamwork. It provides ‘young person centred learning’ by tailoring their courses to suit the needs of the young people who take part.

The Lifeskills Programme includes carpentry, gardening, cooking, plastering, painting and decorating. There is art, design and clothes-making for after- school groups, bicycle maintenance and off-road cycle rides. And yes there is the Motorcycle Maintenance course and off-road riding training.

Over the last two years we have developed our garden and allotment which has completely transformed our project, making it a far more attractive place to work as well as giving us fresh produce.

Working with 100-150 young people each year, YLP progression routes include further education, work placements and recognition of the importance of taking personal self-responsibility. To find out more see our wonderful short video of the project http://vimeo.com/32079836 and go to our website: http://www.younglewisham.org.uk/
Dave Newman, YLP Programme Coordinator

Newsletter: More Community Gardens

The green and hilly housing estate of Windley Close in Forest Hill has recently been awarded funding to start up a community garden.

Residents came together with the idea to start a garden growing herbs, vegetables, fruit and flowers. In April they were awarded funding by Lewisham Council, Capital Growth, and are now working in partnership with their Housing Association London and Quadrant. As one resident said “Our aim is to make Windley Close a happy and healthy place to live for residents and wildlife - next year we hope to add a nature reserve”.

For advice on how to start up a community garden visit www.capitalgrowth.org - they are aiming to support 2,012 community food growing spaces by the end of 2012! For more information on the Windley Close Community Garden email us at letsgrowwindley@gmail.com

Newsletter: Celebrities Galore at the Hob

There may be a few members out there who are unaware of the tremendous success of the Hob in not only promoting new comedy and bands, local and less local, but also attracting worldwide stars such at Mickey Flanagan (centre below), Daniel Kitson and Bill Bailey who try out new material (even the junked sketches will have you in stitches), and will also occasionally step in to MC.

Ron and Emma, flanking Mickey, started off over twenty years ago at the East Dulwich Tavern, and fortunately for us saw the light relocating to the Hob in the mid naughties. We will feature them further in the next edition, meanwhile go to: www.edcomedy.com

Newsletter: We Whethered the Weather

Never has the weather forecast been scrutinised more thoroughly: in the week before, the chart was a constant parade of ominous grey clouds with raindrops slanting miserably out of them. Six am on the day, with nervous anticipation, the curtains were drawn back, to reveal clear skies and the sun, peeping through the scudding white clouds. Strike One for the Food Fair Effect!

Gathering on the forecourt at 8am, was a cheerful band of cooks, carrot peelers and bottle-washers; tents to put up, with tables to erect and delicious hand-made produce to display. Would anyone turn up? Had anyone seen the posters or read one of the 7000 fliers? What was that enormous banner for, flapping in the wind? Strike Two!

Ten-ten, the stalls already busy with eager shoppers, keen to sample the food on offer, giddy with the novelty of finding proper produce on sale. Pickles and chutneys, English cheese and ham, lovely ripe tomatoes and asparagus from Kent, fresh baked artisan bread, beautiful hand-made cakes and buns, variously flavoured Scotch eggs and the scent of freshly brewed coffee and hot Viennese sausages and goulash. People flocked down the high street. The town was alive! Strike Three!

Anxious shopkeepers scanned the posters: what were they selling down at the Station?

Surely this would ruin their prospects for a profitable Sunday? But wait: ‘No I’m sorry, we’re full right now; we should have a table in ten minutes if you’d like to hang on’. Queuing for tables on a Sunday morning, who were all these people? Trekkers on the Taster Trail? No time to ask, should have asked the assistant to do an extra shift! Strikes Four and Five!

Three-thirty, most of the stalls sold out long ago, the clouds finally roll in; time to pack up and go, before the rain comes back for the rest of April. What a great success! And the most frequently asked question? ‘When is the next Food Fair? You will do it again won’t you?’ And the answer is: Sunday 3rd June, 10am until 2pm (hot food and bar until 4pm). Strike Five for the Food Fair Effect!

31 May 2012

Jubilee Events in SE23

Sunday 3 June - 10am - 2pm

Our second Food Fair.  With delicious offerings from many of the stall holders who came last time and a few replacements due to prior bookings.

This time, fresh Bread and pastries will be offered by Bread On The Hoof and there will be plenty of cupcakes from Peggy's Cupcakes.

Mridula's Kitchen will be bringing more of their Hand made Fruit Chutneys which will go wonderfully with the Hand made Cheese from Green's of Glastonbury or something from Aga's Little Deli. If you want something a little more spicy, why not try some of the tantalising Caribbean Pickles and Jellies from Pimento Hill.

Franklins will be bringing their wide range of Fresh Vegetables and Produce and The Egg Boss will also be back, bringing a few more of his legendary Scotch Eggs this time, but get there early to make sure you don't miss out.

There will also be plenty of hot food with Fantastic Frankfurters from FleischMob, the Blintz Boy dishing up delicious sweet and savoury pancakes (Blintzes to those in the know) and Minal's Indian Food catering for the vegetarian crowd.

Finally, wash it all down with tea and coffee from On The Hoof or a local beer and cider at FleischMob's bar.

Monday 4 June - 2pm

The Sylvan Post will be hosting a family day, starting with a magician at 2pm, followed by live music from a skiffle band at 4pm and Chris Kennedy at 6pm.

Monday 4 June - 9:30pm

Diamond Jubilee Beacon Lighting - As part of the national Jubilee beacons lighting programme Southwark will be lighting its historic beacon on One Tree Hill at 9.30pm with songs by the Fairlawn Singers and Friends. Please take care if going as it will be dark and the surfaces are very uneven and muddy in places. The beacon is at the top of the hill, next to the gun emplacement.

Tuesday 5 June - Noon-3pm

As well as being open all day Monday and Tuesday (10am - 6pm) serving cocktails and cream teas, Canvas & Cream will be inviting you to 'Make your own Crown'. Materials will be supplied, but a small donation to the gallery would be welcome. Please note: This will not be a facilitated workshop and children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

If you know of any other events, drop a line to email@foresthillsociety.com and we will add it on.

26 May 2012


We found out yesterday that the rumour mill was right and Mary Portas will not be coming to Forest Hill just yet, but we are not disheartened.  We always knew that the competition would be tough and that, with only 12 Portas Pilots for the whole country, it was unlikely that there would be two winning bids in London. We just hoped that our bid and supporting video were strong enough to win the day. 

However, we've not sat back and waited for Mary to come and get us out of our difficulties.  We've been working very hard to help ourselves.  The Portas Pilot bid process acted as the catalyst to bring many ideas to fruition, encouraging people who had been talking about possibly doing something to decide that this was the time to act.
  • We have started building the database of traders, landlords and local organisations which Mary recommended in her review.  This was something we had been developing, but the bid focised our attention and we have managed to contact most of the retailers in Forest Hill and several of the landlords.  There have been some who are not interested in participating and others who are wary of our motives, but generally the reaction has been positive once the purpose was explained and the more we do, the more are willing to join in.
  • We have organised and run a Food Fair, which far exceeded our expectations and lead to several retailers having their best Sunday ever.  The Food Fair was so much more than just a market.  With just ten stalls, we managed to prove that there is the demand for quality produce in Forest Hill.  Several stalls sold out in the first 90 minutes of trading while Franklins, who brought ridiculous amounts of stuff (their words), also sold it all.  The addition of the Tapas Taster Trail was a great success as it pushed the food lovers out to the restaurants and has seen many of the customers who tried the £2 specials returning for more.  Traders who initially feared that they would lose custom as the stalls were selling similar products, benefitted from the increased footfall and want to see the event run again.  Some of the stall holders would like us to run the Food Fair on a weekly basis, but that is probably a step too far.  However, we will be running another Food Fair on Sunday, 3 June from 10am to 4pm with a few more stalls.
  • We have increased our planting at Forest Hill station, in the Town Centre and at Honor Oak Park station. We are entering the RHS "It's Your Neighbourhood" scheme again as well as "Lewisham In Bloom"
  • St Augustine's have held the first of what they hope will become an Annual One Tree Hill festival, with nine concerts and several other events, this has celebrated the creative heart of Forest Hill, bringing together local artists, musicians and organisations with a fantastic line up of events from community singalongs to classical arias via folk music and clowning.  We worked really hard to get the recently rediscovered "Indian Lady and Tiger" clock by Kit Williams (of Masquerade fame) displayed in the church, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
  • Havelock Walk artists have run two Open House weekends as part of the Dulwich festival and many other local artists also showed off their amazing talents and creativity.
  • Two new businesses have opened up on Dartmouth Road.  We would like to welcome Chantel of Best of Both Boutique and Clare of Marie's Boutique to the street and wish them every success.  They have been overwhelmed by the support and reception they have received.  Agata will be opening a third business, Doopodopo, also on Dartmouth Road.  Doopodopo will be selling contemporary and designer furniture and accessories.  We just need to work with landlords to get the right tenants into the remaining vacant units and help those quality businessses which are struggling to survive.
  • The Council has finally reached agreement with Network Rail on the design, terms and responsibilities for refurbishing the underpass which links the Perry Vale and London Road sides of the Town Centre.  This is the result of more than six years of campaigning and pressure by the Sydenham Society and Forest Hill Society.  Although Network Rail are currently refusing to refurbish the steps and provide handrails, we will keep the pressure on them to undertake this important work.  We have had initial meetings with several people regarding the replacement of the mural in the underpass and have met one of the young lads who did the work 15 years ago. We hope to bring the Horniman Museum together with Havelock Walk and other local artists to develop an idea which will celebrate the richness within our community.
  • The Trader's Association had faltered following the death of Michael Davey last year.  We have organised two meetings, which have been well attended by traders from the Town Centre as well as councillors and Council officers, and a new committee has been elected.  It is wonderful to see the energy and enthusiasm from this group and we have high hopes that they will be able to help drive our agenda forwards, working together to improve the Town Centre.
  • We have met with local magazine publishers to discuss how we can work together to market Forest Hill better and improve their circulation.
  • Boutique marketing consultancy, Bake London has run two networking events in local bars.  These events provide a venue for professional people to meet and form business relationships or simply to discuss local problems and provide solutions.
  • The Local Assembly has met and is developing an action plan for the ward which will address the priorities of the Assembly, including the Town Centre.
  • The new leisure centre is about to open, several months ahead of schedule.  Businesses along Dartmouth Road really suffered when the pools closed in 2006 and suffered further when Thames Water had the road closed to through traffic for two years during which they replaced the water main.  We are already starting to see the effect that reopening the pools will have on their prospects.
So what does the future hold? 

Firstly, congratulations to Bedford, Croydon, Dartford, Bedminster, Liskeard, Margate, Market Rasen, Nelson, Newbiggin by the Sea, Stockport, Stockton on Tees and Wolverhampton.  We will be bidding for funding in Round 2 of the Portas Pilots.  Before we do that, we will be talking to DCLG to try and find out what they thought of our bid, its strengths and weaknesses.  We will also be looking at the winning bids to see what lessons can be learned and how we should modify our bid.  Whatever happens, we will need to update our video so that Mary is aware of the progress we have made since the beginning of April.  If she or Grant Shapps would like to see the opportunities for themselves, here are just some of the events happening in the next few weeks.

Events this weekend and more

If you are in the mood for a fair, then you are in for a treat this weekend!

St Augustine's (One Tree Hill, SE23 3LE) Craft Fair will run from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, 26 May. This is a fun, family event for all ages with community stalls, crafts, plants, a variety of foods, games, live music and a community art show including judging of the junior art competition at 1pm. Come along and meet us at our stall.

St George's Church (Vancouver Road, SE23 2AG) are also running a Craft Fair from 11am to 5pm on Saturday, 26 May. They will have 32 stalls including jewellery, cake, food, face painting, story telling and ice creams

Horniman Primary School's PTA (Horniman Drive, SE23 3BP) will be holding their Fete and Craft Fair at Horniman Primary School from 2 to 4pm on Saturday, 26 May. There will be craft stalls as well as bring & buy clothes, toys, books and bric-a-brac for sale, plus there will be a bouncy castle, May pole dancing and refreshments available. Entry Fee: Adults £1, Children: 50p

We will be running the next Food Fair at Forest Hill Station on Sunday, 3 June from 10am to 2pm. There will be a few more stalls but, unfortunately, some of the stall holders from last time are unable to make it. However, we have plenty on offer, with stalls selling breads, cakes, pastries, chutneys, cheeses, olives and meats as well as Indian, Polish and Fleisch's hot food offerings. (Hot Food and music will continue until 4pm)

On Saturday, 16 June we will be replanting the large containers on the pavement in front of the Job Centre as an extension of our participation in the RHS In Bloom and Lewisham In Bloom entries. If you are interested in doing a bit of gardening in order to help make Forest Hill a more pleasant place in which to live and work, please come along between 2:30 and 4:30pm. Bring a trowel, gardening gloves and a spare plastic carrier bag.

We will be having our General Meeting at 5pm on Saturday, 23 June at All Inn One (53 Perry Vale, SE23 2NE). We are hoping to have the pools operators there to answer any questions you might have. There will also be a barbecue, with 50% off on production of your membership card, so become a member now! bit.ly/JoinFHSoc

Other happenings are:
This week has seen the first One Tree Hill Festival of classical music at St Augustine's. If you haven't made it, there is still an opportunity to go along to one of the remaining events. All ticketed events can be booked online or purchased on the door on a first come first served basis, subject to availability. For more information visit their website www.augustineonetreehill.org.uk or call the parish office on (020) 8699 0172.

Saturday, 26 May at 7.30pm (£5, £3 concessions)
The Hills are Alive! featuring All Souls Orchestra & West end singers
Noel Tredinnick and the All Souls Orchestra present an evening of musical theatre classics and toe tapping orchestral favourites. Enjoy the delights of Broadway show music, offset with 2 of J S Bach's most popular Brandenburg Concertos - No. 2 and No. 4. Back by popular demand after their autumn concert at St Augustine’s last year, Noel brings his wonderful wit and charm to entertain and lead us through another uplifting musical journey. He will also be joined from London’s West End stage by David Erik, Kelly Rainham and Lisa Olsworth-Peter promising an evening full of excitement and energy!
Sunday, 27 May at 10.30am FREE
Festival Service to celebrate St Augustine’s
An opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the local community and the life of St Augustines. Come and join us in worship as we are joined by guest musicians from the festival.
Sunday, 27 May from Noon-2pm FREE
Community Picnic (bring a rug and your favourite food!)
Enjoy the beauty of One Tree Hill by picnicking in the grounds of St Augustine's. Bring your hampers and rugs to enjoy with old friends and make new ones!
Sunday, 27 May at 3pm (£10, £5 concessions - all proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Children's Society.)
Orchestral Concert by members of the European Doctors Orchestra, conducted by Rupert Bond.
The European Doctors Orchestra will perform a concert conducted by Rupert Bond with pieces by Haydn: Symphony No. 101 ‘The Clock’, Bach: Double Violin Concerto [soloists Helena and Richard Gullan], Mozart: Overture ‘The Magic Flute’ and Schubert: ‘Unfinished’ Symphony.

The Devonshire Road Nature Reserve (170 Devonshire Road, SE23 3SZ) is open this Sunday, 27 May from 2pm to 5:30pm as it is the last Sunday of the month. They are also holding a community workshop on Saturday, 2 June from 10am to 4pm followed by the the toppping out of the Green Oak Shelter built by volunteers on Monday, 4 June from noon to 5pm. There will be music, food and refreshments available

On Monday, 4 June, the Sylvan Post (24-28 Dartmouth Road, SE23 3XU) are having a family day. They have booked a Magician from 2pm who will be there until 3:30pm and are hoping for other activities too.

The Friends of Albion Millennium Green (Albion Villas Road, SE26 4DB) have a couple of events. 'Bird Boxing' is on Sunday, 10 June from 2pm to 4pm. Not Quite an olympic sport, 'Bird Boxing' is a new comedy. Ros and Bruno return to rummage a bit in Albion Millenium Green. Audience members will have the chance to build their own bird boxes under strict rules and guidelines in a race against time. Suitable for families, foragers and freeloaders... This will be followed by 'Find A Theatre' from 5pm to 6pm. Are you excited by the idea of a new open air performance space in Forest Hill? Come along and explore Albion Millenium Green and share your ideas and opinions about how we can create something wonderful in the heart of the community.

Finally, Crofton Park and Sydenham are holding their Local Assemblies on Thursday ,14 June from 7pm to 9pm. The Crofton Park assembly will be held at Beecroft Garden Primary School, Beecroft Road, SE4 2BS, while the Sydenham assembly will be held at the Naborhood Centre (next to Post Office), 44a Sydenham Road, SE26 9EZ.

24 May 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel

Local residents have been complaining about the underpass between London Road and Perry Vale for many years - indeed the Sydenham Society was campaigning on this issue long before the Forest Hill Society was formed.

Progress has been particularly slow because of ownership issues and the bodies involved; it has been unclear who has responsibility for what - Network Rail own the right of way, Lewisham are responsible for some bits and Southern / TfL have had an interest as station operators. However, it appears as though we may be making progress as Lewisham has finally settled an Asset Protection Agreement with Network Rail which defines the scope for the project and assigns responsibilities.

Lewisham have allocated a budget of £126,000 for the project which includes funds from the developers of the flats on Perry Vale (Section 106 monies). However, this is not enough money to pay for all the works which we would like.

At a recent meeting with the council, it was therefore decided that they should proceed with refurbishing the subway. It was agreed that it would be far more expensive to retrofit cladding to the ceiling than to repair the steps and handrails, especially as this would require re-engineering the cladding. The approved works will therefore include

  • installation of new drainage channels to pathway and track bed
  • resurfaciong of the footpath
  • cleaning, repairing and painting over the mural ready for fresh artwork
  • cladding the walls and ceiling of the section under the tracks (the part currently painted white).

The works will be carried out at the same time as the lighting is replaced under the Skanska PFI contract. At the moment, this is envisaged to happen some time after September, but the schedule for Year 2 of that contract has not yet been agreed.

In the meantime, Lewisham will keep the pressure on Network Rail to come up with funds to refurbish the steps at both ends, to include repairing and renewing the treads and replacing the handrails with DDA compliant grab rails at both ends of the underpass. You can help by writing to JIm Dowd at dowdj@parliament.uk, letting him know your feelings and urging him to raise the matter with the Chief Executive of Network Rail.