It appears that the much-heralded work to replace the railway tracks in the Penge Tunnel, which closed our rail link to Victoria last week, has been completed enough to allow the reopening of the line.
But there are some restrictions in place until Sunday 7 August. Passengers are advised to check before they travel – updated timetable information for Monday 1 August is available in journey planners.
This is all because there is still some work in the tunnel to be completed by Network Rail, which means that their trains will run at a reduced speed through Penge tunnel from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August.
Accordingly, the Shortlands and Bromley South/Victoria stopping service via Herne Hill will have only two trains per hour to London Victoria in peak times this week.
The 1935 art deco style house at 10 Dorchester Drive in Herne Hill has just been granted Grade II listing by Historic England (@HistoricEngland) , following representations by the Herne Hill Society (@HerneHillSoc), the Twentieth Century Society (@C20Society) and Lambeth Council.
The house by Leslie H Kemp and Frederick E Tasker (1935-36) is based on the architects’ winning design for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in 1934. It is one of only two versions known to have been built in England, both of which are now listed.
Responding urgently to news of the house’s possible demolition by the new owner in February (he had already started to demolish the boundary wall!), a Building Protection Notice (BPN) was issued by Lambeth Council in response to pressure from the Herne Hill Society, independent experts, and @C20Society. A BPN protects unlisted buildings of special architectural or historic interest, but only temporarily, pending a formal legal decision by Historic England – which has been announced today.
A leading design historian @DeborahSuggRyan has commented: : “This is… the best example I have ever come across of this combination of International Style and Moderne that British builders experimented with in the mid 1930s… [It] has a remarkably intact original exterior and interior…”
The Artists’ Open House project, a major element of the annual Dulwich Festival every May, goes from strength to strength. The full programme now has nearly 100 pages! And the area covered reaches from Peckham Rye down to Crystal Palace and from Loughborough Junction across to the fringes of Forest Hill and Sydenham.
This year, we have an open house here on Fawnbrake at number 73 where Alan and Jorge are opening their house to show Jorge’s landscape, portrait and abstract paintings. There is more information about his work on his website www.sanchezart.co.uk
Here, as across the festival, the artists open their houses for visitors on 14–15 May and 21-22 May, normally between 11 am and 6 pm
The website for the whole of this year’s Artists’ Open House programme can be found here.
There’s plenty of good stuff to read in the latest issue of “Herne Hill” magazine: a beautifully illustrated article about the treasures to be seen in Saint Paul’s Church; an interview with the owners of the new and already popular bubble tea shop, Cuppo Bubbo; a revealing survey of a unique 1935 house on Dorchester Drive; and a snapshot of the very cosmopolitan population of Herne Hill at the end of the 19th century and on the eve of the First World War – with an unexpected preponderance of residents of German origin. Also an affectionate review of the major exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, featuring the work of Helen Frankenthaler – a show that has been widely recognised in the national media as of major significance.
Members of the Herne Hill Society get the magazine automatically, of course. Non-members can buy it at Herne Hill Books, or can get it (along with future issues), by easily joining the Society online.
A new and deeply interesting book about John Ruskin and Herne Hill has just been published by the Herne Hill Society (as members of the HHS have just been told).
John Ruskin spent his childhood and most of his working life here in Herne Hill. When he died in 1900 just a year before Queen Victoria – about the same time as many of the houses here on Fawnbrake Avenue were built – he had become one of the most original, controversial and globally influential thinkers and writers of the 19th century.
Despite the cascade of studies and biographies of Ruskin over the last hundred years, this is the first book to look with authority and in depth at the importance of South London in shaping Ruskin’s thinking.
Despite all his foreign travels, public lecturing, the academic posts at Oxford, his work for London’s museums, and those messianic forays into the new industrial regions of England, Herne Hill was the place where Ruskin spent his childhood and most productive years. Here he wrote the increasingly passionate books, articles and speeches that made him nationally and indeed globally celebrated.
It was also from here, and well into his old age, that he studied and pronounced upon his shifting world.
A witness to a degrading environment
Even from his early age a precocious and acute observer of nature, Ruskin loved the then unspoilt hills, skies, rivers and fields of Herne Hill, Dulwich, and Norwood .
But his affectionate memories of this unblemished (but as he discovered, all too fragile) environment also turned out to be a painful benchmark for what developed in later decades. So it was also in Herne Hill, as the years passed, that Ruskin witnessed and described, with increasing horror, the destruction of the natural environment through railway building and uncontrolled suburban growth.
A prophet of climate change?
As early as 1860, he had written “Whenever I look or travel in England or abroad, I see that men, wherever they can reach, destroy all beauty.” (Modern Painters V). His vivid 1876 watercolour “Sunset at Herne Hill through the Smoke of London”, featuring on the front cover of the new book, is a melancholy and prophetic attempt to illustrate this change
Published by the Herne Hill Society, this important new book by local historians Jon Newman and Laurence Marsh, based on meticulous research, brings sensitive and original insights into the development of Ruskin’s distress about the world and the environment, as he prophesied how manufacturing and hasty urbanisation was damaging society and the climate across England, and especially, from his own bedroom window, in the world metropolis that his native city had become.
“Sunset over Herne Hill” concludes with a rewarding examination of the social and historical context of Herne Hill and Denmark Hill during Ruskin’s lifetime and his family’s place within South London as the 19th century progressed, when London was becoming the most prosperous and populous city in the world, as well as probably the most polluted.
“This illuminating and touching book restores John Ruskin to South London… the authors of ‘Sunset over Herne Hill’ take us back to the neglected roots of the great Victorian romantic’s creativity” – Andrew Saint, Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, general editor of the Survey of London, and author of the newly-published “London 1870-1914: a City at its Zenith”
The book has 160 pages with 80 colour & b/w illustrations, with a map by David Western.
£17.00 (including delivery) by mail order from the Herne Hill Society
or from Herne Hill Books.
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.
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.
News about Fawnbrake Avenue & neighbouring streets in Herne Hill, London