The Fawnbrake dead of the First World War

This is of course the season when each year we remember those who died in last century’s World Wars.

 

 

 

It’s quite a shock to be reminded of those men and their families who  –  had we been living at the time  –  would have been our neighbours and perhaps friends here on Fawnbrake Avenue during the First World War.  We might have seen them leave; we would have witnessed and often shared the distress that the dreaded telegram brought to their families.

History, yes  –  but not that long ago, and still on our doorsteps.

We can understand this more easily these days because of the moving and detailed research conducted in recent years by members of the Herne Hill Society with help from the students of the Charter School North Dulwich and other local volunteers.

The result is an impressive memorial website which now contains over 550 full records of men (and two women) from Herne Hill who served and died in the First World War. The Remembering Herne Hill website captures not just the names but important background details about those who died, bringing them to life in our minds. The website also has an interactive map that lets us view local casualties from individual roads in Herne Hill and neighbouring streets.

 

The research, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund is largely complete. It establishes that there were at least seven of our then neighbours on this street alone who lost their lives in this war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alongside that online catalogue of names and personal details, there is now of course a physical memorial displayed prominently in our station.

A specially commissioned war memorial, carved on Welsh slate by Mark Brooks, was unveiled by Helen Hayes MP at Herne Hill Station on Sunday 10 November 2019. This was the culmination of two years’ intensive research into Herne Hill’s casualties. The memorial stone was financed by Southeastern Railway.

Fawnbrake residents who died in the Great War

A list follows, with links to the more complete descriptions which can be accessed via the map on the memorial website.

12 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Second Lieutenant Harold James Cryer, died 13 October 1917

Harold Cryer was born in Brixton in 1898. The family attended St Saviour’s Church, Herne Hill Road, where Harold became a choir boy.
He was killed on 13 October 1917, at the age of just 19, piloting his Sopwith Camel single-seat fighter at an airfield in England. (Accidents were common.)
His funeral service was held at St Saviour’s on 18 October 1917 and he was buried at West Norwood Cemetery on the same day (his address being recorded as 12 Fawnbrake Avenue, although the CWGC website gives his parents’ address as 24 Ferndene Road Herne Hill). Harold’s brother Leonard survived the war, married Clarice Brett in 1922 and died in 1961.
Full details about Lieutenant Cryer at https://tinyurl.com/y5ou35kh

20 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Private James MacGregor, died 13 February 1916

James MacGregor was born on 3 February 1896, the second son of Frank MacGregor from Kinfauns, Perthshire, and Mary MacGregor from Wallacetown, Ayrshire. The first family home was at 57 Lowden Road. On 29 March 1896 he was baptised at Camberwell Presbyterian Church.
By the time of the 1901 Census the MacGregors had moved to 20 Fawnbrake Avenue. On 8 August 1905 James entered Jessop Road School, going on to study at Alleyn’s in Dulwich.
James MacGregor joined the 20th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). They landed in France in November 1915 and were transferred to 19th Brigade, 33rd Division.
Private MacGregor was killed in action near Cambrin on 13 February 1916 and is buried at Cambrin Churchyard Cemetery, about 24 kilometres north of Arras and eight kilometres east of Bethune.
Full details about Private MacGregor at https://tinyurl.com/y45rf36c

40 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Lance Corporal Sidney Giles, died 1 July 1916

Sidney Giles lived at 40 Fawnbrake Avenue, the youngest of the five children of Herbert and Martha Giles.
Sidney was a Lance Corporal in the 14th Battalion (London Scottish) of the London Regiment. He fought in the war from January 1916 and was killed in action on the first day of Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, aged just 22.
Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, and his name is also on the St Paul’s Memorial Screen in Herne Hill.
Full details about Lance Corporal Giles at https://tinyurl.com/yxwadqz5

90 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Lieutenant Reginald Dell, died 8 May 1918

Reginald Dell was born in Wells, Somerset in 1887. At some point he became a resident of Herne Hill. He married Hilda Margaret Fox in Wells in early 1918, but he was killed in May of the same year, serving in the Machine Gun Corps.
His military records cite his address as 90 Fawnbrake Avenue.
The 20th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps was formed in March 1918 and fought at the Battle of St. Quentin and suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Rosieres. In April the troops were withdrawn while they waited for new drafts. However, by this time, Reginald had clearly suffered fatal wounds and died on 8 May. He is buried in the Communal Cemetery of Avesnes-Sur-Helpe.
Full details about Lieutenant Dell at https://tinyurl.com/y2cxyano

107 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Rifleman Herbert Walter Irons, died 12 February 1917

Herbert Walter Irons was born in Camberwell 1884 to William, a clerk, and Louisa. He was the eldest of their four children. The family lived at various addresses in Peckham but at some point they moved to 107 Fawnbrake Avenue.
Herbert enlisted as a rifleman with the London Regiment, 1/21st Country of London (First Surrey Rifles) but contracted nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) whilst on active service in Belgium and he died on 12 February 1917 at the age of 33 years old. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, in the West Flanders region.
Full details about Rifleman Irons at https://tinyurl.com/y6kwwntq

114 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Driver Harry Cruse died 27 October 1918

Harry Leonard Cruse was born in Camberwell in April 1896. In 1901 the Cruse family was living at 90 Denmark Road, Camberwell but by 1911 the family had moved to 114 Fawnbrake Avenue. Harry, an only child, was a pupil at Alleyn’s School, which he left in 1912.
During the war Harry Cruse served in the Honourable Artillery Company as a driver. His unit saw active service at Aden and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from 1915 onwards.
Harry contracted malaria and died on 27 October 1918. He is remembered at the Damascus Memorial in Syria.
Full details about Driver Harry Cruse at https://tinyurl.com/y4owvh5n

129 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Private Thomas Evans, died 16 September 1916

He was 30 years old when he was called up on 10 December 1915, joining the 23rd (County of London) Battalion of The London Regiment.
The second son and youngest child of Thomas (a King’s Messenger) and Ellen Augusta Evans, he and his older brother and two older sisters were all born near Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. An Architect’s Assistant, he married Eleanor Barber at St Leonard’s, Streatham, on 27 May 1916 and was listed as living at his parents’ house, 129 Fawnbrake Avenue. But with his battalion he was soon posted to France, and was killed in action on 16 September 1916 – one of many thousands killed in the heavy fighting during the Battles of the Somme in Summer/Autumn 1916.
His grave lies in the Warlencourt British Cemetery, near Bapaume in Northern France (Pas de Calais).
Private Thomas Evans’s details have not yet been entered on the database.

Two hundred life-size silhouettes of First World War soldiers and 75 poppy wreaths by the Witney artist Dan Barton stand at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to mark Remembrance Day
Photo by Geraint Lewis, for The Times

Discover the lost mansions of Denmark Hill this Saturday

Lambeth Heritage Festival continues and on Saturday 19 September at 19:00 we can Zoom in for a new talk about Denmark Hill.

Denmark Hill c.1906

Many from London’s well-to-do merchant class began to leave town at the end of the 18th century and make their home in what were then the rural outskirts.

Denmark Hill was an especially favoured location. In this talk and virtual walk, Ian McInnes (Chair of the Dulwich Society) and Laurence Marsh (Fawnbrake neighbour and Vice-chair of the Herne Hill Society) look at the houses, now long gone, that were built on the Lambeth (i.e. north) side of the road – and the varied stories of some of their residents over 150 years.

This Herne Hill Society online-only event is hosted by Lambeth Archives.

So to sign in, follow this link:

Lambeth Heritage Festival 2020: week 3

to the relevant section of the Lambeth Heritage Festival website and scroll down to the Denmark Hill event. Then you can click on the book here link on the web page.

You will receive an email by return and, before the event, an email invitation with a web link to join the talk by Zoom. There is no charge.

Police questionnaire on security in Herne Hill

The local police, based at Brixton Police Station, are helpfully asking HH residents to complete a simple questionnaire.

This is their request and a link to the short questionnaire:

“I have created a quick online survey/questionnaire to gather feedback from the local community on issues in the Herne Hill area.

This is separate to the official ward panel but I think would be useful to discuss at the meetings as the plan is to send it out to a wider catchment of people so we can get a better overview of how Herne Hill residents are feeling.

“Therefore, please feel free to pass on the link below to any other residents of Herne Hill – it should take no longer than 5-10 minutes to complete.

https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CH3SU1/

“Many thanks in advance and do let me know if you have any questions,

 Lucy

Lucy STONE | DWO – Coldharbour & Herne Hill wards| Brixton Police Station| Email lucy.stone@met.police.uk | T0208 649 2007  “

For the sake of accuracy and future policing decisions, it might be good if as many residents as possible respond.

Fighting with a Leylandii cypress hedge?

If you walk to or from the centre of Herne Hill via Herne Hill itself, rather than by Milkwood Road, you may have felt the aggression of the Leylandii hedge pictured here. It’s on the right-hand side (going downhill) outside the flats at number 90 Herne Hill.

Outside no 90 Herne Hill

It extrudes over the 2 metre wide pavement, 70 cm at the bottom of the bushes, but is well over a metre wide at an adult’s shoulder height – over half the pavement’s width. Preserving social distancing, families and couples walking up or down the hill might expect anyone walking the other way to step off the pavement to give them space to pass – but if they do, the uphill pedestrian(s) cannot see the traffic behind them and may rely on hearing and inaccurately judge the situation.

So this could be a tragic accident waiting to happen, all because someone – presumably the owner of the block of flats at number 90 – has failed to maintain the hedge properly.

Further, the nearby pedestrian crossing outside the Church also serves Herne Hill School with 280 pupils aged from 2-7, so there can be well over 300 people gathering at different times of the morning and afternoon, often with smaller siblings in buggies.

The Herne Hill Society have been informally asked to see whether Lambeth Council can deal with this issue, perhaps by themselves cutting the hedge back to the wall, if they have the legal powers to do so.

One of our councillors, Jim Dickson, has been made aware of the problem and has promised to look into it. Meanwhile, please take care when navigating this bullying obstacle.

Whether it’s worth expecting the council to do anything to diminish the pollution thrown out by the traffic converging from all directions, at a snail’s pace, on our junction under the bridge – well, that may be too much to ask. ‘Unintended consequences’ …

From Herne Hill and The Half Moon to Nashville

This morning’s Sunday Times, tucked away in the ‘Culture’ section,  delivered a headline that would compel anyone in SE24 to read further. It proclaimed “Rumer interview: from Herne Hill to Nashville via a commune”.

This witty and affectionately crafted article is built around an interview with Sarah “Rumer” Joyce.  A singer whom I must confess I hadn’t heard of before, although she is apparently a known and respected singer in the US (specifically Kentucky) country music scene, and must have some following over here too. Born in Pakistan, once working at the bar in The Half Moon before she was “discovered”, she now lives in Macon, Arkansas with her husband and young son.

The interview was clearly to promote her latest album Nashville Tears: The Songs of Hugh Prestwood  –  he being, in the words of the interviewer, a mostly unknown songwriter: “big deal in Nashville, but not known elsewhere”, she admits. (“Rumer” is an adapted stage name – she is really just Sarah Joyce.) Details  online.


Sarah ‘Rumer’ Joyce, copyright Alan Messer

Let’s choose one paragraph from the interview to set the tone:

“Born in 1979 in Pakistan to British parents after her engineer father was stationed in the country, Joyce grew up wondering why her seven siblings looked so little like her. Then, when she was 11, her mother revealed the reason: her real father was the family cook.”

Good start, pure gold for any interviewer. Anyway, to slide quickly to the point for us south Londoners who are not necessarily avid followers of country music (although the interviewer/critic in the Sunday Times really likes this new album), here’s the bit about Herne Hill because obviously the family came back to the UK:

“Joyce was discovered [comment: this would be around 1988/89 it seems] by La Honda’s founder, Malcolm Doherty, at the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill, where she was working as a barmaid. (In 2016 she published a historic list of poetically named local characters barred from the Half Moon, including Staring Pervert, Flat Cap Coke Fiend and, best of all, Tall Chavvy Fighting Idiot of Old. She claims that making the list public remains her greatest achievement.)” 

Note to other neophytes in the ever-trending current music scene: Malcolm Doherty, the so-called discoverer of Ms Joyce at The Half Moon in the late 1980s, founded the British acoustic pop band La Honda. They recorded their debut album in 2001 which due to the break up of the band, shortly after these sessions, never got released until 2013. But their lead vocalist was our new heroin Sarah Joyce who went on to find major success as ‘Rumer’. Since the failure of his own band, Doherty has cunningly reinvented himself and is now better known, among those who follow such things, as the musical director for Daphne Guinness, the socialite and fashion guru turned wacky singer who has indeed just released a new album ‘Revelations’.

The short article about Sarah Joyce signs off on an engaging note: in the cover photograph of the new album Joyce stands at a kitchen sink, eyes closed, looking as if she’s dreaming about being somewhere else entirely.

“I wanted to stand at the kitchen sink,” she says, “because that is my reality”.

“After all she’s been through, it doesn’t seem like such a bad reality.”

There are plans for a concert here in London next March in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, as well as an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival and elsewhere in the UK. Let’s hope these events can go ahead.

 

Opting out of council weedkilling – can we do it?

This is the text of a letter from our neighbour Christina Rogers at no 88.  Everyone in the street should have received a copy through their door this week.


19th July 2020

Dear Fellow Fawnbrakers,

Do you want to opt out of council weedkilling?

At the moment, Lambeth Council sprays glyphosate weedkiller to keep our pavements and road gutters weed-free. As you may know, over the last few years there have been health and environmental concerns about the weedkiller glyphosate. A US court has awarded large damages in a case of lymphoma in a man who sprayed it professionally. A WHO committee has said it’s ‘probably carcinogenic’. There is evidence of an effect on the soil, the water table, and bees and other pollinators, and several European countries have already banned it. Although it hasn’t yet been banned here, Lambeth plan to stop using it in October next year, and they are trying out a range of alternative ways of keeping the weeds down.

One option would be for us to weed our own road and pavements. If there were enough of us, it wouldn’t take long – all you need is gloves and a knife. According to the council webpage if roots and accumulated soil are removed in Spring it takes longer for weeds to grow back after hand-weeding than after weedkiller, so three times a year would probably be enough.

We already have 16 Fawnbrakers who are interested in helping. The more of us there are the quicker it would be for each person to do.

Tell us what you think

So, if you would like to HELP WITH WEEDING, or OBJECT to opting out of spraying, please contact me on 07952-956-551, or drop a note through the door of number 88. To join the what’s app group please give me your mobile number.

The council deadline for opting out is coming up soon so please respond before 31st July.

Christina Rogers @ no.88


 

Station Square shops – where’s the power?

If you have lived in Herne Hill for a few years, you’ll be wearily familiar with the sequence of changes that have befallen the row of shops at the start of Railton Road, on what is now called Station Square but which was originally not a pedestrianised area but just a normal road – indeed, a bus route. A much-needed redevelopment turned into a slow-moving eyesore. Even now, many of the handsomely refurbished shop units haven’t been let.

Going back in time …

It was back in 2015 that Network Rail, the then owner of these properties, started to consider an investment scheme in Railton Road. Planning consent was obtained, but then the start of the construction works for the comprehensive upgrade of the units and accompanying arch accommodation was delayed for almost a year while vacant possession of the final unit was secured.

Shops closed & relocating – 2016

 

Works finally started in January 2017 but revealed a succession of structural weaknesses that called for major remedies before work could proceed further.

Oops, we forgot about that

During the project, it was realised that the electricity power supply delivered to these units and the flats above them would not be adequate for modern use and that a new electricity substation would need to be installed nearby. The long and painful search for a suitable location triggered yet more delay: some neighbours will remember the uproar when it was proposed to demolish The Flower Lady’s shop (a former coal store) to be the new site.

Works in (slow) progress – February 2018

Cutting a long and highly technical story short, The Arch Company, new owners of the thousands of arches and other trackside real estate formerly owned by Network Rail, investigated numerous alternatives but have finally opted to install the substation inside one of the new retail units!

The planning application allowing them to pursue this rather silly solution was contested by the Herne Hill Society, by our ward councillor Becca Thackray, local traders  and other bodies. But in the end Lambeth planners have recently granted permission, though no doubt with some reluctance. Enthusiasts for the minutiae of planning applications can find the proposal and the objections still up on Lambeth’s planning website under the reference 19/03371/FUL.

Southeastern say no

Several objectors, including the Herne Hill Society, argued that a much better site was available on the station premises, in the scruffy patch which currently accommodates waste bins and parking for staff cars. Herne Hill station is owned and operated by Southeastern, the train operating company owned by Govia. But as the planning application states, ‘The proposals would have compromised the Train Operating Company’s use of the station and they were unwilling to consider releasing this site from the station lease.’ A great pity; many think that some flexibility here would have led to a good solution, rather than one which disfigures one of the nicely-refurbished new shop units. But Southeastern would not relent.

Station Square shops, July 2020- location of electricity sub-station

So there we are. The shop in question, to the immediate left of Lark’s new premises, will now house a massive piece of equipment, and the frontage will, of necessity, be an industrial-looking louvred shutter –  see the architect’s elevation drawing extracted from the planning application.

Drawing showing location of sub-station

Meanwhile there seems to be no news of tenants for the other vacant shops, and the Covid-19 pandemic, with its painful impact on retail commerce, won’t have helped at all.

Security Alert – local credit/debit card scam

A neighbour has circulated this warning:

“Last Monday, 29th June, soon after 9.am, I was tricked at Herne Hill and my debit card was stolen. Is there any way of making this scam known more widely in this area and warning other people?

It was done very cleverly.

I park in Carver Road in order to be able to take home heavy shopping from Tesco and Sainsbury at Herne Hill.

A young black man, dressed in black and wearing a blue disposable mask, came up to me and said that I need to pay to park there. I said that was not necessary because I have Southwark residence parking permit for this area. He said that there is a new rule for the Covid 19 time and that there is a small fee for parking there in connection with Sainsbury in order to stop people from taking up the space for too long. I said that there were no signs in the street about this and he said that they were being put up soon, and that if I did not get a ticket for the shopping time I could be fined £170. I would be able to see this in on the internet.

I asked him why he was telling me about the parking. He said that he was the undercover Sainsbury parking person. And he explained that I could get the temporary ticket from Sainsbury’s ATM. I thought, well I will go and look at the ATM. Of course I should have checked with Sainsbury’s staff but he kept wandering in and out of Sainsbury’s as if he was a staff member. He stood some distance away and told me how to get the ticket. I put in the card and tapped in the number. The sun was glaring onto the screen so I moved my hand to shade it in order to see the instructions and at this point the card must have been taken. I looked round and there was another man just behind me, also in black clothing and wearing a blue disposable mask. The card was no longer in the slot. I was confused because this man looked like the other man. But then I saw the other man standing near the Sainsbury’s entrance and he said “Try pressing cancel” and “Oh the machine has swallowed it”, you will have to go to report this, there have been problems with this ATM. Go to your bank branch, or go into Sainsbury’s to see if they can get it out”. I went into Sainsbury’s to tell them that the card may be stuck in the machine, but that I think that it has probably been stolen and they said that this has happened there already.

Within 15/20 minutes I had contacted the bank to cancel the card and they told me that £500 had been taken at Tesco ATM shortly after the card theft.”