07 April 2022

Pip Tunstall − Artist in Havelock Walk

Interviewed by Belinda Evans

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Pip Tunstill − I am an artist and live in Havelock Walk in Forest Hill. I graduated from Hornsey College of Art in Fine Art − followed by a stint in the V&A − followed by a side step into an Interior Design studio − (it’s a long story!) followed by a lengthy very enjoyable career as a senior lecturer in 3D & Spatial Design at Chelsea and Camberwell University of the Arts.

Now I paint full time and when I am not in the studio, I will usually be found each morning swimming outdoors throughout the year at Tooting Bec Lido with two fellow stalwarts from Havelock Walk − and yes its bloody freezing! During lockdown, when the pool was closed, the River Thames was a pretty good alternative!

What brought you to Havelock Walk?

My husband & I moved here 20 years ago from Wandsworth. We had been looking for a property to convert or a site to build on (my husband is an Architect) and heard about a possibility in Havelock Walk. We came to visit early one morning before work on a cold rainy winter morning − we walked down the street and a cheery voice from an open workshop asked us if we would like a cup of tea − that was it! We bought the site, built a glass & steel house my husband designed and 20 years later we are still here and are part of a thriving creative community that is Havelock Walk.

What inspires your work?
I started out as a landscape painter in which the work gradually became more and more abstract as I became interested in shape and form and colour. Teaching 3D / Spatial Design has definitely influenced the way I compose my paintings − inevitably they are a square format as I find it the most satisfying form in its symmetry and its ability to multiply. Many of my drawings are sequential and using repetitive mark making − even when confronted by trees. I tend to start with a deep border of colour which usually generates the first question!

  • I find the edges of canvas /board /paper a problem
  • I realised when I was painting landscapes that I always left a border round the image
  • This has now continued into my abstract painting partly due to dislike of frames and also fear of the edge!

The colour becomes the frame. There are still landscape forms and structure which appear traced back to my earlier influences. I tend to work in layers creating a strong three-dimensional element which is the direct result of my strong interest in Architecture and Spatial Design. Intense colour drives the form and hopefully reflects my general optimism and joy in painting

What do you like about Havelock Walk?
It’s quite hidden considering how close it is to the South Circular and Forest Hill station. It is an historic cobbled mews where all the studios homes and workshops generate a very friendly and creative community. Studios are opened twice a year to the public as part of Dulwich Festival − this year May 14/15 and 21/22nd and again just before Christmas. We close the street put up the bunting, make music, serve food and welcome all and sundry!

What do you like about living in Forest Hill?
The Horniman Museum & Gardens was a godsend during the lock down. The gardeners worked throughout, and you became far more aware of nature in all its majesty. I started drawing trees which I haven’t done for 30 years which became my focus in the sameness of every day. Also, in the lockdown discovering all the green spaces which abound in Forest Hill. Excellent public transport (when the trains are running) − a station in which the Forest Hill Society, through its volunteers, maintains planters and greenly things.

Favourite coffee / bar/ restaurant?
For the best toasted cheese ever Aga’s Little Deli. Our own Canvas & Cream with its own studios and gallery – ‘our own’ because it backs onto Havelock Walk − as does the Guava Kitchen − which both serve great food at our Open Studio weekends. Big Cheeks Thai restaurant − despite its odd name. Tea Pot for breakfast and tea.

06 April 2022

Croquet in Mayow Park

By Jane Sheridan

Sydenham Croquet are relocating from their current site on Lawrie Park Road, where we have been part of the wider Sydenham Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club,  to the former bowls green in Mayow Park.

We are one of the oldest surviving clubs in the country, being established in 1899, and it is with great sadness that we move after a decision was taken to redevelop our lawn as a tennis court.
We have been made to feel very welcome by both The Friends of Mayow Park, and Lewisham Council, as well as their management company, Glendale, and look forward to a long and settled future in our new home. We will start to play from April, usually on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

We are a thriving club with a strong social side and offer a warm welcome to anyone who’d just like to try this engaging and fun game. For free taster sessions please contact:  info@sydenhamcroquet@gmail.com

05 April 2022

South East London Community Energy

By Zaria Greenhill, Communications Manager, South East London Community Energy

South East London Community Energy focus on the energy of South East London, a vibrant, diverse and lively area, which has its gifts as well as its challenges. One challenge for all of us right now is our energy as prices are set to rise alarmingly.

If you find that this is a level of challenge you could do without, you can contact South East London Community Energy for some support. We can speak to you on the phone to discuss your bill in confidence and assess whether you are on the right tariff and if you’re eligible for any discounts, grants or benefits. We can then discuss ways to save energy and come and do a home visit if you or we feel that would be helpful.

On average, people who engage with us save around £295 (probably not all at once). The service is completely free, prefaced on the fact that a warm home is a human right, and no-one should be too challenged to be able to meet it.

If you can pay your bills but you’re worried about climate change, you can contact our Future Fit Homes service. We can speak to you on the phone about how to ‘retrofit’ your home to be more climate friendly, discuss solar panels, air or ground-sourced heat pumps, insulation, draught-busting and turning the thermostat down. The first 30 minutes of conversation are free, but you can also have a home assessment, a thermal imaging survey (when it’s cold enough: it’s fascinating to see literally where the heat comes out) and more support to make your home zero-carbon.

Find out more at: www.selce.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/SELonCommEnergy
Email: info@selce.org.uk

04 April 2022

Forest Cafe Bistro − Perry Vale

By Belinda Evans

Just before lockdown, way back in early 2020, there was a lot of changes being made to the row of shops at the bottom of Perry Vale near the old fire station. The existing café closed and then the barbers! We were worried, were we losing all our well-loved local shops and amenities? Was Perry Vale going to turn into a desolate row of closed shop fronts?  But luckily this was not the case. All this change was part of a fabulous redevelopment.

The owner told us that the process took over two years for everything to go through needing to organize the moving of the existing café and negotiating change with the barbers. On 1st January 2020 building work could finally start! The builders worked tirelessly developing the new sites. So, on 15th March 2020, Forest Cafe Bistro opened and much to the delight of the locals it was great from the off. It was busy, vibrant, the food was great, and the atmosphere was buzzing.

But this soon turned to total disappointment when only five days later the national lockdown was announced, the Forest Cafe Bistro, like all establishments was forced to close its doors.

It must have been heart-breaking for the owners. Forest Café Bistro was just finished after months of long days and late nights of building, redeveloping, moving, fitting, and setting it all up ready to open, for this to be so short lived. I imagine the owners thinking that all the building work could have been done in lockdown after all, and that last push for opening and getting finished which involved many long hours could have been carried out in the months of lockdown in a much more leisurely pace.

As a new business the Forest Café Bistro wasn’t ready for providing take-aways or online delivery. But it was also a good opportunity to investigate how to do this so lockdown and enforced closure did not deter the Forest Cafe Bistro. It set up online deliveries and offered take away dishes and coffee which made a real difference to all of us stuck at home and if you were like me − so bored of the challenge of shopping, cooking, and trying to balance this with working from home. To be able to grab a coffee or a tasty chicken shish wrap, that someone else had made, was a delight.
And the alterations and improvements did not stop during the enforced closure. The owners took the opportunity to create a lovely outside area for dining alfresco. A mural was painted on the outside wall so that even if we couldn’t travel abroad, we could have a Mediterranean breakfast and imagine we are dining in an exotic location. Planters and conifers were put up outside too so that the ever-noisy traffic from the cars and buses travelling on Perry Vale were masked from us all.

But what about the menu? The food is great − very fresh, fabulous range from full breakfasts, to pancake stacks to wraps, hot lunches and so much more (watch out for the size of the liver and bacon dinner − its enormous). The aim of the bistro is to provide tasty, good value dishes for locals and workers. It’s a varied menu but all such good quality and fabulous portion sizes. The healthy breakfast options have become very popular indeed as well as the grilled chicken, or falafel wrap. The charcoal dishes have a unique taste of Turkey − try the lamb shish or the lamb chops.  They also serve Efes beer which on a hot day goes down especially well. I must mention too the crockery − all sourced from Turkey and of such lovely quality.

A Mediterranean breakfast a halloumi wrap and a cold Efes beer alfresco in Perry Vale what could be better? Its open seven days a week so what are you waiting for? 

01 April 2022

Launching the Trebuchet Railway Crossing Project

Since the Forest Hill Society was formed in 2006 we have been hoping for a new pedestrian bridge to replace the existing bridge between Sydenham Park and Dacres Road. This is an important connection to Sydenham and Forest Hill schools for children on either side of the railway and it is a useful bicycle route too – avoiding the poor cycling provision in the centres of Sydenham and Forest Hill.

We wanted a scheme that would work for everybody and provides a safe way to cross the railway instead of a slippery and steep set of steps over the bridge. After hours of careful deliberation, the Forest Hill Society put together a proposal that combines the latest innovative technology in personal transportation to provide a quick and easy way to cross the railway.

Forest Hill Society Chair, Claus Murmann, tests out the prototype trebuchet


On each side of the railway a trebuchet (sometimes referred to as a catapult) will be positioned to transport people across the railway line. This part of the scheme is simple enough, but the innovative part of the scheme is the installation of two ‘bounceways’ on either side of the railway, where passengers land and can bounce their way towards their chosen destination.

The bounceway is a series of trampolines that form the ideal landing site for trebuchet passengers. Bounceways were first proposed in 2014 for Jubilee Gardens by, then mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The scheme never got off the ground, but we are delighted that now that Mr Johnson has taken on a new role in government, this scheme is to take off - in Forest Hill.

The trebuchet will be capable of taking one person at a time with a bicycle or buggy and the speed of the flight and centrifugal force means that any bags of shopping can be safely carried without anything falling out.

Although initially considered dangerous, our experiments have shown that using the catapult in conjunction with two bounceways is significantly safer than trying to cross the existing footbridge.


Bounceway sketch from 2014 Architecture for Humanity

Boris Johnson is expected to lend his support to this visionary transport scheme and will be one of the first dignitaries to launch, or be launched by, this project. The PM's spokesperson, Avril Dummkopf, said that "at least with this project, unlike the zip wire, we know he can't get stuck halfway across!" Sadiq Khan is expected to take a different approach, with his own simultaneous launch from the other side of the railway. But we hope compromise is possible and that they meet somewhere in the middle.

The combination of bounceways and catapults is clearly the perfect solution for cyclists and pedestrians crossing a busy railway with the minimum of human debris.

We will continue to push for delivery of a new bridge for this location rather than this ridiculous scheme.

* Press release issued by the Forest Hill Society on 1st April 2022. Some of the details in this article may not be valid on any other day of the year.

31 March 2022

Update on Forest Hill Society’s Clean Air for SE23 Campaign

By Alice Tate-Harte

We are a small group of volunteers working to reduce pollution and promote active travel in SE23 and beyond. We last met in person back in 2020, before lockdown, but we’ve been busy since then! We are working with the Forest Hill Society Environment Committee on making a “Parklet” space in front of Forest Hill Station which will use plants to help screen pollution from the busy road.

There are now five School Streets, in our area, including Kilmorie, Dalmain, Eliot Bank, Kilmorie, Rathfern, and St William of York. In these schemes, access is restricted around the school roads at peak hours to reduce kids’ exposure to pollution. We need to work with parents and teachers from other schools on campaigning for more school streets.

Monitoring with the University of Cambridge helped us understand the problems of air pollution better and we responded to the consultation on Lewisham Council’s Air Quality Action Plan. We have worked with Mums for Lungs and Climate Action Lewisham to support the ULEZ, which is hoped to cut air pollution by 30% and we want to campaign for it to be expanded to benefit everyone in the area.

We have exciting plans for 2022, including involvement in Lewisham Borough of Culture.

We need more volunteers to grow the group so if you are passionate about the environment and have a few hours to spare, we have many ways you can help make our neighbourhood cleaner and greener. Please get in touch via

30 March 2022

41 New Trees on the Horniman Triangle

By Stuart Checkley, Street Trees for Living

This winter 41 trees have been planted on the Horniman Triangle in an attempt to restore a tiny fragment of what used to be The Great North Wood.

Some of these trees, like 9 Common Hornbeam, will grow to a substantial height and age and will store tonnes of carbon. Others, such as the 9 Cockspur and 3 Rowan will provide berries for birds in autumn. Some will have spring blossom like 7 Wild Cherry, and others like 7 Hazel will hopefully produce nuts for wood mice. There will also be 20 Hawthorn saplings to repair the hedge around the playground and these with some holly trees will protect the playground from traffic pollution from the South Circular. The very damp area at the bottom of the hill, where two large Willows thrive, has been planted with two more waterside trees, one Alder and one Aspen. In the course of doing this we have identified an area of spontaneous oak regeneration above the playground − where 20 Oak saplings are growing well, and several are already several metres high − this area will now be protected.

Our native trees are threatened by imported diseases such as Oak Processionary Moth. By planting a wider range of tree species we are increasing the biodiversity of our tree population, and its ability to survive tree disease in the future. The trees will also strengthen a wildlife corridor which connects the nature reserves at Sydenham Woods and One Tree Hill. This corridor is used by migrating woodland birds such as Buzzard, Warblers, Red Kite, and in winter, Redwing. We hope that the new trees will bring back to Forest Hill both hedgehog and Tawny Owls − these can still be found in Sydenham Woods.

Fund raising continues but already more than £40,000 has been raised, mostly from a government grant from the Treescapes fund. But different groups of local residents have funded three trees together with a group of Lewisham council employees who raised funds as part of a leaving present for a colleague. Local groups have helped in other ways and I am most grateful to everyone for their support.

I will be leading a tree walk around the Triangle at 2pm on Saturday 14th May and this will be an opportunity to find out more about the project, and the forest that used to be here.

Street Trees for Living is a local charity which works with the Council to plant and care for trees on council property. It has planted 1364 trees in Lewisham and in 2020 it won the Woodland Trust Community Tree award for London in 2020.

A Forest for our Future

By Quetta Kaye

The planned forest along the perimeter of the Horniman Gardens adjacent to the south circular road − designed to provide a welcome barrier against noise and pollution from this major artery − began in earnest in early December 2021, when the Gardens’ team, led by the head of horticulture, Errol Fernandes, began the initial hard work of preparing the ground: removing turf, digging and mulching (using the Gardens’ homemade compost) and laying out the plan like a curving wide ribbon on the ground in preparation for the planting of about 900 trees. 

By mid-January 2022 hundreds of coloured sticks, each representing one of a mix of around 30 different tree varieties, had been poked into the ground, and then planting of the little trees began in earnest, with each tender plant placed within its own protective felt mat. 

Hundreds of flower bulbs and plugs have also been planted alongside the forest. How lucky we are!


29 March 2022

From Couch to 5km

By Michael Abrahams

Last year, as we entered the second main lockdown, I took the decision that if I was ever going to find the time to do exercise, now would be the time, even if I was 46 years old.

I had joined a gym, 10 years ago, but gave up after a few months as I hate exercise, found it incredibly boring, and didn’t have the time. But with lockdown I knew I could find 30 minutes a day to get some exercise rather than commuting. I had heard about Couch to 5K (C25K), an app designed for complete beginners to build up their stamina and run for 5km (3 miles) non-stop. That was exactly what I needed. I have always been a reasonable runner (in my opinion), but only for about 30 seconds, after that I collapse in a heap, so slowing down and improving my stamina was what it was all about.

The free C25K app has been developed by the NHS and the BBC and is a nine-week program of running 3 times a week. It starts with plenty of time to recover, with 60 or 90 second runs, and builds up to running non-stop for 30 minutes. The app gives you encouragement and you know that if you can complete the last run, then you are capable of achieving the next run with just a little more effort.

I stuck with the program, taking each week as it came, and trying not to look at what I was expected to accomplish next week as it would only put me off. The hardest part was finding flat places to run in Forest Hill. For my first run I made the mistake of thinking the Horniman Gardens would be suitable − but even the slightest hill caused me difficulty, the paths are too uneven and there are too many other people just enjoying the park − so I learned my first lesson, plan your route. And the second lesson was − buy a decent pair of running shoes − your feet deserve it.

I found the east side of the railway much more suitable − starting from Perry Vale and running towards Mayow Park. As the weeks went by, I tested out a few alternatives including one run that is almost all downhill − starting from the roundabout at the top of Kirkdale/Sydenham Hill, I ran towards Wells Park and gradually descended to Kirkdale and Sydenham Park Road.

By the end of ten weeks, I was able to keep going for 30 minutes without stopping and covered about 4km. In the last week I pushed myself to keep going for 38 minutes and was able to complete my first 5km.

After completing the 5km, I wasn’t sure what to do next and without the app I lost motivation. This was cured by joining Strava, a free app that allows you to see your friends and for them to see you, and to give each other ‘kudos’. Now I had an audience and an app measuring me, I regained some motivation. Investing in some wireless headphones and running shorts helped to make the run more comfortable.

I’ve learned that planning a route is important, especially when you live on a hill. There is a simple 5km route along Wood Vale, Brenchley Gardens, Eddystone Road bridge, and back down Grierson and Garthorne Roads to Stanstead Road. The advantage of this route is that it is mostly flat and has very few roads to cross as it follows two railway lines (one of which no longer exists). I’ve pushed myself to run to the Thames (4 miles or 6.4km to the Deptford Creek) it is hard work, but all downhill! And I’ve also taken to running along the railway and getting the train home − from Norwood Junction, New Cross Gate, or Surrey Quays.

Another enjoyable route is Bell Green to Ladywell Fields and back along the river, or you can just run the roads between Stanstead Road and Woolstone Road which are generally flat and straight.

After a year running, I try to go out at least once a week and cover 5km. I’m not very fast and I might not go far, but it is still a good routine for somebody who hates exercise.

Leslie Eveleigh − Pioneer of the Silent Film

By Gary Thornton

Born in Deptford in 1890, Leslie Eveleigh was one of the early silent film makers whose names have largely slipped into obscurity, but who still retain an important place in the history of British cinema. Eveleigh lived and died in Forest Hill and is buried in Brockley cemetery.

Eveleigh’s life is not well documented, although it is known that he served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. His film career is best traced through the BFI historical archives. There, his first film credit dates from 1913, where he is listed as a cameraman on Sixty Years a Queen, a dramatised version of the life of Queen Victoria, based on the book of the same name by Sir Herbert Maxwell.  The film was made at Ealing Studios, which had been founded in 1902, and was directed by Bert Haldane, who made over 170 films in his short 10 year career. In 1915 Eveleigh is again found working with Haldane as photographer, this time on Jane Shore, another of the hugely popular historical dramas which were the mainstay of this early film industry. Jane Shore is notable for its scale − probably the first ‘epic’ British film, it used thousands of extras in its crowd scenes, and has been compared to D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation in its scope and ambition.
Although Ealing, Elstree and Pinewood are considered the hub of the British film industry, once Paul and Acres had made the first British 35mm film in 1895, studios began to appear all over the country, as creative talents sought to exploit the wonders of this new technology. From the creation of Gaumont in 1898 to the onset of the talking picture in 1929, many studios briefly flourished, then disappeared, as a combination of rising costs and the expansion of Hollywood meant that only the largest − such as MGM or Rank − continued to enjoy success. Of the 640 production companies registered from 1925 to 1936, only 20 remained in 1937.

One of these short-lived companies was British Filmcraft, which was founded in 1926 by Eveleigh and the film producer George Banfield, along with cameramen Bert Ford and Phil Ross. They took over Walthamstow Studios and operated from there until 1931.  Interestingly, their predecessors at Wood Street, Broadwest, also used studios at Southend Hall in Catford, located at what is now the junction between Bromley Road and Whitefoot Lane.

With British Filmcraft, Eveleigh was elevated to director, sharing duties with Banfield on a number of productions through the second half of the 1920s. Although the company made only a few feature-length films, they made numerous short films and serials, including six films featuring the detective Sexton Blake, and a further series on the life of Dick Turpin, filmed on location in Epping Forest.

Perhaps his best known work is a 20 minute short film, The Lady Godiva (1928), based on Tennyson’s poem. Thanks to the work of the BFI archive, a restored version of this is available, the story filmed on location in the historic medieval centre of Coventry, later destroyed during the Blitz, and starring Gladys Jennings as Lady Godiva.

Scene from The Lady Godiva (1928 − BFI)

The advent of the talkie, Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929) usually considered the first British example, sounded the death knell for many silent film-makers. British Filmcraft’s last production (and Banfield’s last film) was made in 1930, and Eveleigh has only one further final film credit, an advertising documentary for the manufacturer Mabie Todd & Co., Making a Swan Pen in 1940, released after his death.

As a young man, Eveleigh had married Nellie Evit in Thatcham in 1913. He is recorded as living in Kentish Town in 1930, but they subsequently settled in Forest Hill, at 6 Woodcombe Crescent. In a rather macabre turn of events, however, Eveleigh met an unfortunate end by his own hand, aged just 49. The Birmingham Mail of 4 December 1939 reported that Sydenham police had received a hand-written letter from him containing a garage key. When the local sergeant attended the scene, he found Eveleigh kneeling behind his car, with the exhaust and his head both covered by a mackintosh. The ignition was on but the engine was no longer running. The death of his wife just a few months earlier appeared to have led to his suicide, and the coroner ruled that he took his own life while the balance of his mind was affected by ill-health.

Thanks to Mike Guilfoyle from the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries for alerting me to this story. Mike has recorded a series of fascinating podcasts on other cemetery residents (including Louis Drysdale) which can be found here:



6 Woodcombe Crescent (photo by May Teo)