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Crossrail draws ever closer

The Elizabeth Line, its official name, now seems almost within reach.

Although the full stretch of the route from Reading or Heathrow all the way to Brentwood and Shenfield in  Essex may not be ready next year, we are now being assured that the busiest, central section, from Paddington to Abbey Wood, is on course (fingers crossed) to open to passengers in the first half of 2022.

 

It’s a fiendishly complicated project with many features that need to be severely tested before passengers are allowed on. The ‘Trial Running’ phase (operating timetabled train movements in the central operating section) is almost complete now, and the more real-life ‘Trial Operations’ testing phase is scheduled to open later this year.

At the moment, Crossrail is running 12 trains per hour (tph) in the 42km of tunnels that have been built below London, increasing train mileage, building reliability and flushing out issues with the systems and signalling software. Already seven of the new stations have been commissioned and handed over to TfL following successful completion of testing and integration work. Canary Wharf and Bond Street will follow.

12 tph is the initial level of service on the Elizabeth line, but they will also be testing 24 tph train movements on the railway later this year – this will be the service frequency in the central section when the full Elizabeth line is operational. Which is pretty fast.

But we aren’t on Crossrail

No indeed, so why does this matter to us?

Well, because Herne Hill Station is in the fortunate position of offering not only a swift direct line to Victoria but also the Thameslink route which takes us to Farringdon, where there is a major interchange with the Elizabeth Line. From Farringdon it’s only a few stops west to Paddington or east to Canary Wharf, cutting out some of the tiresome interchanges on the tube network.

Farringdon Elizabeth Line Station (c) Crossrail

A couple of years ago, we asked some local estate agents if they thought Crossrail would make an impact on property values in Herne Hill. We got some blank looks, and the impression that they hadn’t even thought about this.

It’s often true that people buy flats or houses here without first carrying out a deep study of transport options. But those potential incomers who do take such things into account must see these improved travel options as being another positive feature about SE24 – as might many of us who already live here.

Except, of course, for people who are permanently WFH? Nice if you can get it, and many observers think that it is now embedded in work culture; but  as a total replacement for commuting to the office as well? Maybe not: we’ll still need to get around.

Crime and Punishment in Herne Hill

Crime and Punishment in Herne Hill, 1750 – 1900  –  a free illustrated talk by Laurence Marsh and Rebecca Tee from the Herne Hill Society, Monday, 27 September 2021, 7.00pm to 8.00pm

This is a free online event via Zoom as part of Lambeth Heritage Festival.

Join to listen to the stories uncovered by research into the murkier history of Herne Hill.

In 1750 there were more than 150 crimes where the death penalty could be imposed. 1902 saw the very first use in evidence of fingerprints in an English courtroom.

Book via Eventbrite here .

 

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.

New ULEZ restrictions – and heavy charges – fast approaching

Just a reminder that from 25 October 2021, the existing central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will expand to create a single larger zone up to, but not including, the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205).

That includes us, obviously.

TfL have a link which tells us whether our cars meet the emissions standard and the charges we shall need to pay. Four out of five cars, they say,  already meet the ULEZ emissions standards, but they need owners of older polluting cars, motorcycles, lighter vans and minibuses to take action. (Meaning? … sell the offending vehicle to somewhere outside London, presumably  –  and no doubt at a loss.)

This is the link.

ULEZ expansion could cost £12.50 per day when your car moves

Cars, motorcycles, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes), and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes) will either need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards, or pay a £12.50 daily charge when driving within the expanded ULEZ zone.  You will not be charged for a non-compliant vehicle parked in the zone on days you don’t drive it (how gracious of the Mayor!).

The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year except Christmas Day (25 December).

The current ULEZ emissions standards will continue:

• Euro 3 (NOx) for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles
• Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)
• Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including 5 tonnes)

What isn’t clear is how TfL will check vehicle movements (and therefore surcharge liability). Presumably we will see an expanded network of cameras such as already exist within the present Congestion Charge/ULEZ zone.

Ruskin Park Paddling Pool reopens

The popular paddling pool in Ruskin Park is reopening for the summer holidays, the Friends of Ruskin Park have just announced.

The paddling pool should be open again on 24th July until 5th September. The pool is run by volunteers, backed by a community partnership of Urban Village Homes, Lambeth Landscapes, and the Friends of Ruskin Park.

A full refurb for the pool is planned at the end of the year.

If you are able to volunteer with cleaning and other tasks, please see details here or join the Save Ruskin Park Paddling Pool group on Facebook.

Ruskin Park Band Concerts – change of programme

The series of fortnightly band concerts at the Ruskin Park Bandstand will, as announced,  start next Sunday, 4 July, but with a different band  –  The South East London Folk Orchestra.

They play and sing tunes from a variety of folk traditions, deploying a variety of instruments including fiddles, accordions, concertinas, whistles, bodhrans, guitars, mandolins and flutes.

All we need is some fine weather.

 

Ruskin Park News

Urgently looking for financial talent

The Friends of Ruskin Park are an outstanding local charity and play a vital role in keeping the park a vibrant and much treasured asset. In recent months their highly valued Treasurer very sadly died and they are desperately looking for someone to replace him. Obviously with any charity, particularly this one, it’s a vital role. They are struggling now with governance/finance know-how to meet their minimum commitments as an entirely volunteer run charity.

They are looking for a person with some accountancy experience, maybe with charities, and who is a supporter of what they do for Ruskin Park. This is an important and rewarding voluntary contribution to our local community and it will need regular commitment.

On top of that, the committee’s vice-chair has also stepped down recently for health reasons. That’s another post that needs to be filled as soon as possible.

If you are able and willing to help, or know anyone else who might, please contact the Chair, Lucy Hadfield.

It’s the nearly concert season in Ruskin Park

When summer and sunny days return (they will, won’t they?), the bandstand in Ruskin Park fulfils its purpose as a showcase for musical entertainment on Sunday afternoons.

The first concert is on 4th July (3:00 – 5:00 PM), with an appearance by The Sonnet Wind Orchestra – a musically exciting ensemble numbering some 35 players. Mostly retired professional musicians playing an extensive and eclectic repertoire from arrangements of classical favourites, via selections from stage and screen, to the Beatles, Bowie and Queen. Many of these arrangements are by members of the SWO.

More concerts follow, right until the middle of October. The summer programme can be found on the Friends of Ruskin Park website.

 

How much is this bit of road worth?

Yes, this bit…

Townley Road, joining East Dulwich Grove

For Southwark Council, this patch of tarmac is paved with gold.

All you need is some signs and a traffic camera.

Since the Emergency Traffic Measures came into effect, Southwark Council has ensured that these few metres  –  where Townley Road and Calton Avenue converge at the traffic lights to join East Dulwich Grove  –  have raised, at a conservative estimate, over £200,000 from drivers who either missed or misinterpreted the warning signs, or alternatively mistimed their journey.

If you are driving back to Herne Hill from East Dulwich and decide go up Lordship Lane and then take a right turn along Townley Road to run between Alleyn’s School and their playing field, you might miss the warning signs at the beginning of the stretch. But if you do, as you reach the last few metres before the traffic lights at East Dulwich Grove, you are doomed unless you decide to enrage the tailback of traffic behind you by doing a three-point turn to beat a retreat.

Because this is the sign you see:

By the time you have registered what it says, you are trapped.

Within a week or two, the post brings a Penalty Charge Notice that graciously allows you to pay a mere £65 for prompt settlement. The detail of the contravention is stated as “using a route restricted to certain vehicles”.

In some parts of Dulwich around the Village, similar signs have raised even more. The northbound camera in Dulwich Village by the corner of Pickwick Road has raised £695,300.

These figures, revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request recently tabled by a neighbour, only take us to the end of March. No doubt the council’s tills are still ringing. For the wider Dulwich area, Southwark admits to having raised over £1 million during this period.

One consequence is significant traffic displacement. Our local LTNs have caused sharply divided opinions and vigourous debate. Some closures seem more pragmatically sited than others. But the annoying feature about this particular trap on Townley Road   –  readers may of course disagree  –  is that the prevention of traffic taking this route seems to serve no obvious purpose in reducing street pollution, unless it is to cut down on cars, vans and trucks driving past Alleyn’s School at busy school times. Thus, weekends are excluded. But not, mark you, school holidays or even lockdown when the school was empty.

Over time, the penalties do of course work to deter traffic at this point during those stated times, if that is the intention: once stung, one avoids the area scrupulously. So you just find an alternative way home, along busier roads.