speed humps on Milkwood Road

Lambeth are proposing to place full-scale speed humps on Milkwood Road in the hope of lowering the traffic speeds that make the road dangerous. They invite comments via this link.

It’s difficult to imagine  any local resident objecting to this measure. Many of us have stared, astonished, at cars, vans and motorbikes roaring down Milkwood in speeds clearly in excess of the 20 MPH limit.

But maybe we shall need to monitor whether such a measure, if introduced (supposedly in August),  displaces fast traffic onto Fawnbrake Avenue.


Wednesday 8th May will see an important event for Herne Hill.

With wide, compassionate and practical support from all around Herne Hill, including a good number of Fawnbrake Avenue neighbours (and a boosted by generous contribution collected at last July’s Fawnbrake Street Party), a group of local people – Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees (HHWR) – have overcome many challenges to welcome a refugee family into our neighbourhood via the government’s Community Sponsorship scheme.


It was never going to be easy. The talents, skills, time and financial support of dozens of individuals made it happen. But Herne Hill can be proud of what the team, with widespread support and encouragement,  have achieved. After a painful and stressful time in the refugee camps of the Near East, a grateful family arrived in December 2018 and is now settling in well.

All are invited to hear about this remarkable project and join in celebrating the journey thus far. The occasion (supported by the Herne Hill Society) is an opportunity for the team to report on what they have learned, to thank the community for its support, and to look ahead.


Wednesday 8th May , Herne Hill Baptist Church, Half Moon Lane, SE24 9PW, starting at 7:00pm


Free, everyone welcome. No tickets are required, but the organisers would be grateful if those planning to attend would RSVP  as they will be offering refreshments. Please RSVP to: hhwelcomesrefugees@gmail.com

Imagine Fawnbrake Avenue without its trees

We might take them for granted.  But our rich collection of trees, softening the long regularity of the brick facades, and punctuating the gentle curve and dip of the street, have been a much loved but sometimes neglected ornament of Fawnbrake Avenue for generations.  They have helped to make our street an attractive part of Herne Hill to live in and visit.

Trees don’t live for ever, though. Recent years have brought changes. Some older and unsuitable trees have been removed and not replaced. Others have been replaced with specimens inappropriate to the location. One or two junior specimens, recently planted, have not survived. There are still unsightly gaps. And a street isn’t a forest, of course. Human care is needed.

Four years ago some neighbours decided to do something about this. They conducted a survey which established that some 24 trees were missing in Fawnbrake Avenue, including some empty tree pits, along with some quite unsuitable seaside-loving Tamarix shrubs (near numbers 90 – 100).

So David Williams and Laurence Marsh started a conversation with Lambeth Council’s tree officer. At that time – and probably more so, now – Lambeth’s budget pressures did not allow them a generous tree planting programme.

But they offered three trees to start with and, more significantly, said that if the residents could raise funds for more trees, Lambeth would match the same number.

The appeal for funds – generosity of Fawnbrake residents

David and Laurence put out a call for donations in 2015 and this resulted in a fabulous £8,550 gifted by neighbours, which was handed over to Lambeth Council in spring 2016. This was enough money to plant what, in the end, turned out to be a total of 40 trees. This was many more than was initially hoped for and allowed further gaps to be filled. Around half of all households in the road contributed with donations ranging from the modest to the exceedingly generous.

A variety of species was planted, all substantially smaller than the tall, older trees which had dominated our street and tended to damage pavements and adjoining properties. And all were chosen for their attractive blossom, flowers or foliage. The average cost of each tree was £450.

Most of the new and replacement trees were planted in 2016. Lambeth’s tree officer advised, and our tree guardians also warned, that once planted, and for the first year or two, young trees do need to be adopted by nearby residents to keep them thoroughly watered.

Oops! Where did our tree go?

Two trees did die, but all the rest have done well, although very recently – and inexplicably – one of the new trees, planted outside Nos.98/100, simply vanished. (Does anyone know why or how?)

More new trees on the way

Cleverly, our tree champions spotted the opportunity – through the good offices of the Herne Hill Society – to claim Gift Aid relief for the residents’ original donation, generating a further £1,797 which can in turn fund around four more trees. On top of that, Lambeth have been persuaded to plant three new trees including a replacement for the one outside number 106 which didn’t survive. The other non-survivor (outside No.21) was replaced last year..

Protect our trees!

We will update neighbours when these new young trees are in place so that people can, we hope, keep a friendly eye on them and in particular see that they are given enough water over their first summer.  And if the soil in the tree pit seems suitable, neighbours can of course plant some seeds and flowers, adding to the gaiety of the street.



Lambeth tree officers strongly advise that  young trees should be thoroughly watered every few days from April – September  –   not just the newly planted ones but  all young trees for the first 3 years, more if it’s particularly dry. 


All our trees, old and new, suffer an additional risk from high sided or carelessly driven trucks and vans which can either push a tree away from its roots or break off branches. If anyone sees this happening, please advise the drivers to be careful when parking or delivering, since the trees are ours, not the councils and that we paid £450 for our tree!

London, the world’s largest urban forest

London Is A Forest’ is the title of a new book, to be published in the next week or so. It’s written by Paul Wood, author of ‘London’s Street Trees: a Field Guide to the Urban Forest’, the first book on the city’s frontline trees (published 2017).

As he states:

“Can a city be a forest? At first glance, this does not chime with our childhood idea of the ‘wild wood’   –   a dark entanglement of trees, where humans fear to tread. But a forest does not need to be dense and impenetrable, and it’s not unheard of for people to live in them either.

In London, 8.6 million people are crammed into just 600 square miles alongside 8.3 million trees, and millions upon millions of other plants, insects and animals. According to one UN definition, this makes the city a forest. The Forestry Commission agree, describing London as the world’s largest urban forest. And it’s a very special, urban forest at that.”

Parking in Dulwich Park – again

Over on Twitter, one or two people commented on our recent story about Southwark’s proposed parking charges in Dulwich Park. They said rather smugly that no-one should take their cars there anyway, and that walking is more environmentally correct.  Conventional fair comment, but not everyone is fit enough to walk two or three miles to visit a park or a gallery.  Oh, I suppose they can always summon a Uber …

A nicer and more balanced opinion has appeared from one of our neighbours here in Fawnbrake.  To save scrolling down, I’ll reproduce it here too:

“Another reason to visit the park regularly is to attend the many Dulwich & District U3A groups that meet in Rosebery Lodge. Many Herne Hill residents are signed up for these. Personally, though by nature lazy, I get out the bike and cycle to my group, so am feeling rather smug about the planned charges. But this is not an option for everyone and the absence of a good bus service makes it more difficult. But I do commend cycling. And from where I am in Fawnbrake you can always avoid the climb up Kestrel (and Ruskin Walk on the return) by taking the slightly longer way round along Milkwood Road. And from Half Moon lane turn into quiet Winterbrook Road, where soon the Japanese cherries will be flowering – a real delight.”

Rosebery Lodge, Dulwich Park

EXIT: burbage (again)

It’s easy to miss comments posted on this blog (one of the defects of the site architecture), but readers may wish to know that our Burbage Road neighbours have commented on our earlier story as follows:

“Thanks so much for featuring the Exit:Burbage celebrations in your fantastic newsletter . Look forward to seeing as many of you as possible during them. Details on our website

Very best wishes from your neighbours in Burbage Road
Louise Wood , Chair of the Burbage Road Residents Association

The King of the Golden River – a new Ruskin musical at St Saviour’s?

In this bi-centenary year of Herne Hill resident John Ruskin, the Herne Hill Music Festival is hoping to include a musical based on Ruskin’s only children’s story in its programme.

John Ruskin

Professional composer Paul Ayres plans to turn The King of the Golden River by Ruskin (recently republished by Thames & Hudson with wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake) into a musical to be performed by St Saviour’s Primary School.

The King of the Golden River, republished March 2019

However, they need, quite rightly,  to pay a fee to the composer, and there are other costs of production as well.

The Festival organisers have already had generous support from the Herne Hill Society and  other business sponsors, but they are still short of £350.


So there’s a fund-raising campaign

If you can help celebrate John Ruskin and give the young performers from St Saviour’s the unforgettable experience of taking part in a musical, have a look at the fund-raising page and perhaps consider making a donation.

We’re going to be ‘liveable’, it seems

A recent press release from The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) has announced an extension of the Liveable Neighbourhoods programme that promises improvements in Brixton and Herne Hill. This follows a bid from Lambeth.

The general intention – an ambitious one, for sure – is that junctions will be made safer, new cycle infrastructure built, and traffic reduced on residential streets to enable more Londoners to walk, cycle and use public transport, and clean up the capital’s toxic air. The scheme promises new walking and cycling infrastructure, new pedestrian crossings and rat runs closed to motor traffic. New pocket parks (er, what’s that?) and revamped public spaces will improve air quality and make local streets more attractive places, helping to support local high streets.

Atlantic Road (image from TfL)

The element of the programme closest to us is focused around Atlantic Road in Brixton, which will be transformed for people walking, cycling and using the bus. Local freight access will be maintained with technology utilised to better manage loading and servicing. Investment will overhaul public spaces, widen footways and add new pedestrian crossings, creating a more welcoming environment for the area’s many visitors, residents and businesses.

Brixton to Herne Hill cycle route

There is not much more detail at present, but the official TfL/Mayor’s office statement says the project will build high-quality infrastructure on three key strategic cycle routes: Brixton to Clapham Common, Brixton to Camberwell and Brixton to Herne Hill. “Low traffic neighbourhoods” will be created in the Ferndale and Railton neighbourhoods and a new, fully segregated cycle route will link to the Loughborough neighbourhood.

We await more information with interest. If the project can do something about the heavy and often dangerous traffic along Milkwood Road, and on Herne Hill Road, that would be a bonus.

Exit: Burbage

This March sees the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Burbage –   artist, entrepreneur, friend of Shakespeare, and celebrated during his lifetime as the most eminent actor of his age.

Our neighbours in Burbage Road, built across the fields in late Victorian times to join Half Moon Lane to Dulwich Village (or vice versa), have launched a timely festival to commemorate Mr Burbage, entitled Exit:Burbage, with the first event (waiting list)  –  a guided Burbage walk between Shoreditch and the Globe Theatre  –  on 13 March, the exact anniversary of Burbage’s death.

Richard Burbage

They have created an excellent website and we can follow them on Twitter: @ExitBurbage

Parking in Dulwich Park

It’s outside our area of course, but quite a few of us drive to Dulwich Park, to visit either the Park or the world-famous Picture Gallery.

Dulwich Park

Now, as just announced on Twitter by the Dulwich Society, it appears that the London Borough of Southwark plan to start charging £2/hr to park in Dulwich Park and Belair Park.

It all sounds a bit rushed.  The decision is due to be determined this coming week, and will be followed by a 21-day statutory consultation. Read more here.

It’s probably not surprising that Councils take every opportunity these days to extract a bit more revenue like this (even if they then need to employ wardens to check that people have paid). It’s just a pity that alternative ways to get there, e.g. the P4, are so unreliable. And isn’t £2 per hour a bit steep?

Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Dulwich Park Friends are urging the cabinet member not to make a decision until they’ve had a chance to canvass views and respond. No doubt the Gallery will have a point of view too.