Category Archives: Herne Hill

One of the most unusual houses in Herne Hill …

… is an archetypal 1930s modernist home in Dorchester Drive, which has just come on the market after 65 years.

It starts with Kemp & Tasker

Who? Leslie Kemp and Frederick Tasker were English architects who practised in the 1930s as Kemp & Tasker.
They are best known for their cinemas (many now demolished, inevitably), although they are also responsible for several notable 1930s/modernist buildings in South London and Kent, often constructed by an energetic firm of builders, the Morrell brothers of Bromley.
These include the Dorchester Court flats between Herne Hill and Dorchester Drive, which as many local people will know are now owned by a neglectful property company harbouring ambitions for deleterious extensions.
However the Morrell brothers also built individual family homes including two Kemp & Tasker designed houses just up the road from our street, on Dorchester Drive. Indeed, the Morrells designed and built that whole street, each house being different from its neighbours.

Dorchester Drive

In 1934, one particular Kemp & Tasker house design was submitted to the Daily Mail’s Ideal House Competition.

The Morrells embraced and promoted this design, claiming in a glossy brochure  (unearthed for us by our learned neighbour Laurence, who indeed spotted that this distinctive house has come on the market) that it could be built to order anywhere. And so it was.

It’s red

Unlike another No 10 with a famous black door, number 10 Dorchester Drive, two streets up from here, has in fact a red door and windows and is one of the three known Kemp & Tasker examples of this design that still exist – and it is now on sale.

Morrells brochure for K&T house


Form an orderly queue

The 5-bedroomed  house is said to be fundamentally in good order, having been lived in and cared for by the same family – Mr & Mrs Eysenck – since 1956. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, the celebrated and latterly controversial psychologist, died in 1997 and his wife Sybil Eysenck died in March 2020, which explains why the house is now on the market for the first time in 65 years.
The property is being marketed through estate agents Hamptons. Their blurb announces that

“… this house now provides the opportunity for a buyer to breathe new life into a well-loved family home to create something really special in terms of style and space. It has wonderful features such as curved doors, original hardwood flooring (beneath existing carpets), original Crittall windows, the fabulous ‘sunspan’ curved window in the lounge, grand iron staircase and original tiled bathroom. There is a wraparound garden and off-street parking on both sides.”

However, the buyers will need to find £1.75 million, plus a fair bit more for the necessary updating. Insulating all those big windows will also be quite a challenge. The red paint will probably be replaced by something more muted from Farrow & Ball or Mylands.

Disappointed dreams

Incidentally, the Morrell brothers (they were twins) also built a much bigger house, for themselves, at no. 5 Dorchester Drive. But they managed to go bankrupt and never got to live there.

Boundary Commission proposals to carve up Herne Hill

Tomorrow, Monday 2 August, is the last day on which we can submit our comments to the Boundary Commission’s proposals to abolish our constituency and split it three ways – an outcome that would seriously weaken our ability to articulate our interests to local authorities and central government, which can at present be voiced by our current MP.

I am thinking in part of Helen Hayes’ ability and willingness to support our local refugee initiatives, which would inevitably be diminished under the Commission’s proposals. But there are many other implications in the current proposals.

Herne Hill carved up?

The Herne Hill Society has already commented.  But individual objections also count. Those who believe that our identity is important could perhaps take a few minutes to get a grasp of the issues and lodge a comment on the Boundary Commission website (link at the end).

For what it is worth, I have written in the following terms, which draw heavily on the well-argued submission from the Herne Hill Society:

“I am strongly opposed to the Boundary Commission’s proposals for the drawing the constituency boundaries for Herne Hill, an area with a strong local identity centred (though not exclusively) on the SE24 postcode. I strongly urge the Commission to develop an alternative solution, perhaps along the lines identified below.

Under the current proposals, Herne Hill, the area in which I live, would be divided between three constituencies. This means that the Lambeth ward of Herne Hill would become part of the new Clapham and Brixton constituency; the Southwark ward of Dulwich Village would become part of the new constituency of Dulwich and Sydenham; and the Lambeth ward of Thurlow Park would be attached to the far-distant Streatham area. Herne Hill is already divided between two London boroughs, but this proposal sees it losing its current unity within one parliamentary constituency.

This is a major loss to the people of Herne Hill on two levels.

The first relates to local identity, a vital element in a city as large as London. An essential part of community cohesion is the sense of belonging to a particular place. People are motivated by this sense to strive for the best outcomes for their area. One of the criteria that the Boundary Commission must take account of is “local links that would be broken by changes in constituencies”. The local links in this case are those that have given Herne Hill its cohesion and hence its very identity over many generations. Splitting Herne Hill three ways can only be permanently damaging to Herne Hill’s identity and would gravely hamper our ability to voice our democratic concerns.

The second level of loss concerns the practical advantages for Herne Hill in being in one constituency and is therefore easier to define. There are distinct benefits in having one member of parliament, particularly where local issues concern the whole of the Herne Hill community. These include Issues such as traffic calming measures and transport more generally, public safety and policing, and the promotion of social, humanitarian, educational and economic initiatives that help keep our community together. It makes practical sense for one member of parliament to represent Herne Hill’s interests. In the present constituency, one member of parliament can – and does – speak to the local authorities in both Southwark and Lambeth, as well as to national government, and can have an overview of matters that cross the borough boundary. Under the Boundary Commission proposals as they affect Herne Hill, Southwark and Lambeth are divided. In our view, this can only lead to a fragmentation of the interests of Herne Hill and a lessening of the ability of our community to be heard effectively through parliamentary representation.

However, there is a counter-proposal that would achieve the goal of numerical parity within given margins and avoid the harm to Herne Hill outlined above without inflicting disproportionate disadvantages on other areas.

This solution would involve retaining the current constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood (or whatever name is most appropriate), but with some modification of the boundaries. Thus the revised constituency would comprise: the wards of Coldharbour, Gipsy Hill, Herne Hill, Knight’s Hill and Thurlow Park in Lambeth, and the wards of Champion Hill, Dulwich Village and Dulwich Wood in Southwark.

I urge the Boundary Commission to consider this alternative solution which would ensure that Herne Hill remains within one parliamentary constituency, an arrangement which has served us well over many years.”

The link to the Boundary Commission’s comment facility is here.

Hold the front page

A very talented local artist – a blacksmith in fact – features in the cover story of the latest Herne Hill magazine.

Frances Plowden, blacksmith

Very appropriate for #InternationalWomensDay !

See more about Frances Plowden, whose studio is in Loughborough Junction but who lives in Herne Hill, in the magazine (reaching you shortly, if you are members)  and on her website http://francesplowden.org/

Dug out

The site of the planned electricity sub- station in unit 315 in the new-ish Railton Road shops on Station Square is the scene of much activity.
Currently the floor of the unit is being excavated and, presumably, strong foundations laid. The explanation has always been that the larger vacant shop units – numbers 319-327 Railton Road, as well as the unit under the bridge– cannot be rented out until upgraded electricity power supply is available.

Digging in a tight spot

“Finished by early summer”

A notice by The Arch Company on the neighbouring shop unit that has been temporarily commandeered as a site office states that

“we expect the works to be completed by early summer 2021 with new tenants moving in soon afterwards. We’ve had a high level of interest from potential tenants all of whom are small independent operators”.

Of course we all hope that this prediction comes true. The more cynical ones among us might wonder which “small independent operators” would find the funding and the appetite for risk that would justify taking on such retail units at any time, let alone in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. But we must try to stop being so cynical, yes?

Changing shopping habits?

Indeed, it may be that we are at the beginning of the revolution in shopping habits that some commentators have predicted.There’s a theory that people who previously commuted into town for their work will instead be working partly or entirely closer to home, and will therefore need more shops locally rather than in the City or the West End. That could herald a brighter future for retailers and hospitality venues in places like Herne Hill.

Full story with more detailed background in the forthcoming issue of Herne Hill Magazine.

Feel more at home

Now that we’re all (supposedly) walking more, and now that the (supposedly) warmer, sunnier weather will encourage us to walk even more, neighbours might like to harvest a little local knowledge as they stride along.

The Herne Hill Heritage Trail is a very successful and useful 168-page book published by the Herne Hill Society. With six hand-drawn colour maps and many other  illustrations, this soft-cover book explores the unique identity of Herne Hill. Our history is traced through many changes over the last two centuries and told through a mixture of buildings, places and objects – some to be seen to this day but others long gone – and the people associated with them.

Available for £9.50 plus postage from the Herne Hill Society’s online book store. It’s quick and easy with Paypal.

What’s happening in Station Square?

If you’ve been out and about in the centre of Herne Hill, you can’t have failed to notice the unexpected works going on in and around the new-ish shop premises on Station Square. This started yesterday with no warning to the shop and flat tenants.

Station Square, 16 February 2021

It’s all connected with the installation of the electricity substation, which threatens to be a massively heavy piece of equipment. Under the planning application that was agreed last year, it will be inserted into the shop unit next door to Lark.

Home for an electricity substation

Full background  –  and lots of other local stuff  –   in the next issue of Herne Hill magazine, out in the next couple of weeks. Anyone joining the Society now will get it delivered with no fuss when printed.

 

Home

Rescuing orphaned bikes

We’ve just heard from one of our Councillors, Becca Thackray, about a new initiative to collect, reclaim or recycle (ha ha) abandoned bikes.

Next week a team will be going out to tag abandoned bikes in the borough. Residents are given two weeks to move the bikes and if they have not been moved, they are collected by the Street Care team. The bikes will then be offered to upCYCLE, who will use them to teach young residents bike maintenance skills. Those that are beyond saving will be taken for recycling.

Not abandoned?

 

If we are aware of any abandoned bikes in our ward, we are asked to let the team know by emailing cycling@lambeth.gov.uk with the location and a description by 5pm 2 February and the bikes will be added to the list.

The bikes that have been reported to date can be found on this map.

 

 

Festivals in Brockwell Park, Summer 2021 – here we go again

Lambeth Council’s plans to allow music festivals again in Brockwell Park are already well advanced, all subject of course to Covid-19.

At this stage,we have until 8 December to make our views known to Councillors (see below).

Published documents envisage a Summer Event Series 2021 with up to six Large / Major event days taking place over two consecutive weekends, with medium/ small community event days taking place in the weekdays between.

The Great Wall of Brockwell

Final decisions will supposedly be made next spring. But the council has naturally been in discussion with the operators already, and appears disposed to grant permission. So, pandemic permitting, the park will again hold a major event organised by Mighty Hoopla plus other events.

Areas blocked off for weeks

The occupation of major parts of the park area would start on Wednesday 26 May (when the contractors begin the build) lasting until Sunday 20 June 2021 when the derig ends. Allow several more weeks for repairing  the damage done to the ground and fixtures of the park.

Quite a lot of people

On ‘Major Event Days’, planning will be in place to accommodate 25,000 on site each day. On ‘Large Event Days’ (mid-week community days), planning will be in place to accommodate up to 10,000 on site.

The detailed timetable, and other details, are in a densely worded Lambeth document: see  Brockwell Park 2021 summer events

Divisive?

As in previous years, the prospect of such events provokes controversy.

Some people are content to see the park used in ways that brings fun to mainly young people, and some financial benefit to the council and some local businesses. Others are bitterly opposed to offering this public amenity to what are, in effect, fiercely commercial operators whose events can damage the park, create massive noise disturbance, disrupt local streets and prevent local people and visitors having access to and enjoyment of many areas of the Park .

According to a recent Brixton Buzz article, The Friends of Brockwell Park, in particular, are leading the outcry and inviting people to protest to our Councillors by 8 December. We can also send comments direct to Lambeth via events@lambeth.gov.uk

Events have damaged the park

Our Herne Hill Ward Lambeth Councillors’ contact details are as follows:

Cllr Jim Dickson (Labour Party)           jdickson@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Pauline George (Labour Party)     pgeorge@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Becca Thackray (Green Party)      BThackray@lambeth.gov.uk

The Park in normal times