Denmark Hill Station expansion

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people used to go to work on the train, as many readers will have heard. And because they often travelled at the same times each day, trains got unpleasantly crowded. So, inevitably, did some of the stations.

Aspiring City Thameslink passengers at Herne Hill will have felt this pain.

But it was often much worse at Denmark Hill Station. No, it’s not in Herne Hill but for many commuters and other rail travellers wanting to touch down somewhere other than Victoria, or the City, Denmark Hill offered wider options, including the London Overground heading towards Clapham Junction and all points beyond, or north-east to via Peckham to Canada Water, Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Hoxton en route to Highbury & Islington. True, if you lived more towards the Brixton or Tulse Hill side of Herne Hill, it would have been something of a trek, but for those of us close to the Camberwell frontier, a brisk walk alongside or through Ruskin Park would get us there pleasantly. If you’re more central, the 68 bus may be the solution.

More important in some ways, Denmark Hill is a destination for visitors from other points in London and the South-East.  Every day, King’s College Hospital draws in thousands of staff members, out-patients and visitors. The simultaneous arrival of several train loads of alighting passengers is the main cause of the congestion.

Dangerous overcrowding

The station was redesigned and upgraded to ensure accessibility in a programme that concluded in 2013. But contrary to the hopes of many local residents and station users, the redesign left it with only one entrance/exit.

Today’s entrance/exit barriers. Windsor Walk visible across the station.

Meanwhile the number of passengers using Denmark Hill went up from 3.7 million in 2011-­12 to 5.63 million in 2014-15. Much of this increase was down to the introduction of the London Overground services in December 2013.

This surge in traffic meant that the station was operating in unsafe conditions – because its only ex it, accessed up quite long staircases, could present a lethal bottleneck if the station ever had to be rapidly evacuated. Traffic numbers have grown further – at least before the pandemic. Last year (2018-19) the figures suggest that entries and exits totalled some 6.9 million.

Herne Hill station, by comparison, had 2.9 million entries/exits and we know how unpleasant conditions could be at rush hour. As a benchmark, Clapham Junction was running at 29.5 million – but of course it is vastly bigger station, indeed one of the busiest in Europe, some say.

Pressure grew from local groups for the obvious remedy at Denmark Hill – opening a second entrance/exit on Windsor Walk, the quiet street that leads from Champion Park down past the Phoenix pub then, with a sharp right turn, runs just to the north of the platforms and alongside the station to join Grove Lane.

Various groups including the Herne Hill Society and the Dulwich Society lent their support to the Camberwell Society whose committee initiated and from 2016 onwards  have led a persistent and well-informed campaign, building a positive working relationship with Network Rail and Southwark’s planning team over several years.

It now seems to have been a success. A planning application (No 20/AP/0745, for planning addicts, or link here) has been made to Southwark Council for the construction of a new entrance to Denmark Hill Station on Windsor Walk. Listed Building Consent was granted last month, and the rest of the process seems on track for overall approval.

Site of proposed new entrance/exist on Windsor Walk

So if Herne Hillians feels like going to work again on the train, Denmark Hill might in due course be an attractive option. Covid–19 permitting, the new entrance is planned to be open by April 2021. It will have 4 gates plus 2 wide gates and will connect up with the existing modern footbridge. The current one-way system will be dispensed with. Platforms 2,3 and 4 will have extra canopies at the east to encourage people to use that end of the platforms.

New pedestrian access

Separately, Southwark Council has been awarded £1.5m by the GLA’s Good Growth Fund.  One slice of this funding will be used to create better pedestrian connections between Denmark Hill station and the hospitals and town centre. Our friends at the Camberwell Society think that the walk route to the hospitals and Camberwell will go through the Maudsley campus. There is going to be a new ward block on Windsor Walk called Douglas Bennet House, just opposite where the new station entrance will be. The plan is for this to have a walk-through route to the Maudsley garden and thence to the main road.

Dorchester Court – how will Lambeth’s planners now respond?

In response to the development proposals for Dorchester Court submitted on behalf of the owners, Heinrich Feldman and family, through their company Manaquel,  Lambeth’s planning committee now has to cope with two magisterial objections  –  on behalf of the residents themselves, and now by the Herne Hill Society on behalf of the whole community.

Dorchester Court – years of neglect

The Society’s deeply considered and detailed response to the planning application fundamentally dismantles the Manaquel proposal. It can be read on the Society’s website. Here are a few key excerpts:

  • There needs to be a legally binding agreement between Lambeth Council and Manaquel which sets out in detail the repairs Manaquel agree to carry out for the total restoration of Dorchester Court. Without it, there is no obligation on Manaquel to start, let alone complete the work. Given the historic failures of Manaquel over decades to address the repair of the building the need for this is all the greater. Neither is there any other form of legally binding undertaking that obliges Manaquel to complete the repairs before marketing the new residences.
  • There is no detailed schedule of repairs. …  Given Manaquel’s historic record in terms of maintenance of Dorchester Court, our fear is that work will start, the foundations will be found to be inadequate, the buildings will be structurally compromised and an application will then be made to demolish the buildings as there will not be enough profit from the development to repair them.
  • No details are given as to how in future Dorchester Court will be managed in a way to avoid the problems of maintenance that have plagued it for several decades and seen it placed on the Heritage at Risk Register.
  • The applications conflict with several Policies spelt out in the Lambeth Plan. Permitting these applications will not secure the long term future of Dorchester Court and will not secure benefits that outweigh the negative effect of breaching established planning policies. … Failure to classify this application as an enabling development and disregard of the Historic England policy and guidance could expose the local authority to legal challenge in its decision-making process.

Lambeth officers are now presumably trying to digest all this before briefing the members of the planning committee. As far as we know, no date has been set yet for the planning committee to meet.

Dorchester Court updates

Visitors to this blog will have seen an earlier report about the crisis affecting residents – our near neighbours – just up the hill in Dorchester Court.

In the news

Yesterday’s Mirror carried an article highlighting the residents’ deep concerns about the defective planning application submitted by the landlords. The link is here.

There was also an article dated 19 May in the  South London Press reporting the residents’ requests to the landlords for rent reductions during the pandemic.

Petition

In addition to opposing the planning application, the residents are asking as many people as possible to sign their petition to Lambeth. That petition can be accessed here.

The planning process

The Herne Hill Society have composed a powerful response to the owners’ planning application, which will be released shortly. We will post a link here as soon as it is available.

Government updates guidance on work carried out in our homes

The government recently updated their guidance on work carried out in people’s homes  –  including cleaners.

The full guidance is here and at Gov.uk  here, but the relevant extract reads:

Working in people’s homes as a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny

You are a tradesperson carrying out essential repairs and maintenance in people’s homes, or are carrying out other work in a home such as cleaning or paid-for childcare in a child’s home. You can continue work, providing that you are well and have no symptoms. No work should be carried out by a tradesperson, cleaner or nanny who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, or when someone in their own household has symptoms.

Tradespeople should assess whether the visit is essential or if the work can be safely postponed. There may be alternatives to a visit, such as a phone or video call. If the visit cannot be postponed you should agree the procedures in advance.

During a visit

You should notify all clients in advance of your arrival. On entry to the home you should wash your hands using soap and water for 20 seconds. You should wash your hands regularly, particularly after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, and when leaving the property. Where facilities to wash hands are not available, hand sanitiser should be used, and you should carry this with you at all times.

Make available for cleaners!

If you are a tradesperson or cleaner, you should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from any household occupants at all times, and ensure good ventilation in the area where you are working, including opening the window.

If you are a nanny, you should maintain a safe distance (at least 2 metres) from the household occupants you are not providing care for as much as possible.

 

Local History in Lock-down – this Thursday’s talk

This week’s Local History in Lock-down talk is on Thursday evening (14th May) at 6.45.

In his talk, Lambeth in Literature, Jon Newman will take a look at the way that the place has been described across the centuries by writers, poets and novelists; everyone from William Blake to Alex Wheatle. So, one half social history, one half Lambeth ‘Goodreads’

We can join the talk using Zoom , with this link .

Meeting ID: 932 0296 4048.

Password: 029446

Is VE Day still relevant?

In remembering and commemorating the end of World War 2 in Europe, some of us may not want to dwell on the sentimental Vera Lynn-type nostalgia. But in May 1945, the UK’s feeling of reprieve and joy, tempered by grief, was profound and almost universal.

And the devastating event itself, the global war, is surely worth a thought and a pause for relief and gratitude for what we have today, by comparison with then.

VE Day newspaper, 8 May 1945, from our family archive

50 million dead

As historians of all shades of opinion have written, it was almost certainly the most catastrophic event in world history. The dead have been estimated at 15 million military personnel, of which up to 2 million were Soviet prisoners of war. An estimated 35 million civilians died, with between 4 and 5 million Jews perishing in concentration camps and an estimated 2 million more in mass murders across Eastern Europe. Afterwards, refugees from the German-occupied territories, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe numbered many millions. Then there’s the Far East …

Target: London

By comparison with Germany and Russia, Britain suffered less material and human damage on the home front.

All the same, many cities were attacked, some severely.

London, as the principal city, was of course the main target for German bombing. At the height of the Blitz, on 10 May 1941, more than 3,000 Londoners died or were seriously injured. During World War II as a whole, 100,000 London homes were destroyed and over one million houses suffered damage. Over 80,000 Londoners were killed or seriously injured. The landscape of the city was changed for ever.

Bomb hit in Balham. (c) IWM

See the collection of other images on the Imperial War Museum’s site.

By the end, Britain itself had accumulated debts of $20 billion. Germany and much else of Western and Central Europe was in ruins, industry wiped out or exhausted. Much of Eastern Europe fell under the cruel dominance of the Soviet Union and its organs of state security. The human, economic and political aftermath extended over decades.

Local bombs

The Bombsight site shows where bombs dropped in and around Fawnbrake Avenue  during the 1940/41 Blitz. Aerial attacks peaked again nearer the end of the war, especially with the deployment of V1 and V2 rockets, which struck several local sites in summer 1944. The Flying Bombs & Rockets website has useful images and details of severe V1 damage in Carver Road, Guernsey Grove, Stradella Road and other streets.

 

Local History in Lock-down talks – new talks coming up

Lambeth Archive’s programme of  weekly talks continues. The next talk A Place of Public Execution, the story of the gallows on Kennington Common,  will be given by Jon Newman on this Tuesday, 5th May,  at 13.15

Tuesday’s talk

To join the talk we can use this link  https://zoom.us/j/98608284158

Meeting ID: 986 0828 4158. Password: 014223

The Archive have sent apologies to anyone who ended up being blocked from last week’s talk because of the size of the audience. They have now changed their licence and will be able to accommodate audiences in excess of 100 people in future.

The Archive have also recorded some of the talks in the programme. The first of these, Why Parks Matter, given on the 16th April, can now be viewed at  https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_o-vHQnj2U/

Programme for May

Street History Fragments

Like all older streets, all over the world, Fawnbrake Avenue has seen many generations coming and going, mostly now forgotten except possibly by their descendants, if they bother to look.

Turning to the 1911 Census for my own house, I discover that it was lived in then by a family of three along with a young domestic servant.

The 42-year-old head of the family was Mr Frederick Reader, who gave his profession as Wholesale Provision Salesman. His wife Mrs Grace Reader was also 42.

She was previously Mrs Grace Hunter(née Wilmott) from Chatham in Kent, and had been widowed, with a young daughter, Sybil Grace Hunter, by now 13: Sybil Grace also lived in the house.

10 years earlier, Frederick and Grace had married in St Paul’s Church, Herne Hill, in October 1901; at that time Frederick Reader was shown as living at 37 Kestrel Avenue.

1911 Census

The domestic servant living with them in 1911 was a 17-year-old girl, Rose Moulton. A quick glance through a selection of the other houses on Fawnbrake Avenue shows quite a number with domestic servants living in at that time.

After the First World War, Sybil Grace went on to marry a Mr Edwin Everett in 1925 and ended up in Esher in Surrey.  Sybil Grace died in 1997.

Thus do the lives of residents in our houses overlap, even though they never meet.

Herne Hill magazine free online this time

Herne Hill is the only magazine dedicated to news and features about Herne Hill, and is written and edited by members of the Herne Hill Society and other local people.

Normally it’s delivered to members three or four times a year.

But it’s not possible to print and safely distribute this spring’s issue, so it is being made available online free to anyone.

Herne Hill magazine, Spring 2020

You can read or download Herne Hill magazine #148 (Spring 2020) here as a PDF (recommended).

You can also read Herne Hill in page-turning format on the Issuu website.

Spaced-out queuing for Dough