To all our excellent and generous-hearted neighbours on Fawnbrake, and to the wider HerneHill community – very, very best wishes for better news in 2021!
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.
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.
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
The government recently updated their guidance on work carried out in people’s homes – including cleaners.
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.
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.
Lambeth’s tree surgeons were here this morning and swiftly took down the tree outside numbers 58 and 60.
This was expected – see our earlier report Fawnbrake’s Fantastic Trees. The apple tree had reached the end of its normal life and was suffering from disease. In due course the stump will be removed and, we hope, a replacement tree introduced.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fawnbrake Avenue is blessed with a glorious variety of trees – we enjoy one of the most varied and well-curated street avenues in our fortunate corner of Lambeth.
We often take them for granted but they need regular human care, including planting, support in their early years, pruning, and in due course removal and replacement when a tree becomes unsafe or when its days are done. And when newly-introduced trees are in their very junior years, we’ve all been called upon to make sure they have enough water to survive in their new habitats until their roots go deep enough.
This work is carried out, unnoticed by many of us, by Lambeth’s tree department. But they are supported, and sometimes reminded, by David and Laurence, our two conscientious street guardian neighbours.
Just this week, another neighbour noticed that some of the posts and supporting ties of a young tree near his house were in need of repair, and wondered what to do about it.
Regular tree inspections
We believe it is all – hopefully – in hand. On this and wider arboreal issues David has been in frequent touch with Lambeth’s tree department, where they have a keen and knowledgeable new man on the job.
After emailing him about the posts and other issues, David met him in Fawnbrake last week – while he was carrying out the street’s four-year tree inspection – and he says that the loose and redundant stakes will, hopefully, be dealt with in about three months. The tree department at Lambeth is currently light on manpower for obvious reasons.
Laurence and David also report that just before lock-down they walked the entire length of Fawnbrake, cutting away basal shoots from all the trees and picking litter from the tree pits. In a few cases – where the stakes were evidently useless, or leaning into the road/pavement – they removed the rubber ties as well as the stakes, several of which had simply rotted through at the base. Many, in fact, have been loose since being disturbed when the pavements were replaced. They didn’t have time to sort out several other stakes that needed attention, but that is in hand. Of course, as young trees become more firmly established they no longer need the stakes that supported them in their early years.
In addition to the imminent removal of the stakes by council contractors, additional work will be carried out on a few trees, to remove low-hanging branches, Lambeth’s man tells us.
Tree removal imminent
Cllr Jim Dickson also passed on a note, from the Tree Department this week, stating the following:
Dear Ward Councillors of Herne Hill, This email is to inform you of 2 trees that are to be removed from Fawnbrake avenue within the next 28 days, the trees will have notices attached to them by Lambeth Council’s Tree Contract manager by Monday 20/4/20, informing residents of the reasons they are to be removed.
The trees are:
– A mature apple tree outside 58 Fawnbrake, due to fungal fruiting bodies that compromise the integrity of both of the trees’ 2 limbs, meaning that simply removing the infected limbs is not a viable option.
– A young cherry outside 6 Fawnbrake, which has complete crown failure.
These two trees are also scheduled for the stumps to be removed, and will hopefully be replanted in the coming winter planting season.
More trees on the way
Other good news, reports David, is that we should be getting eight additional trees in Fawnbrake, this autumn, four paid for by residents (additional funds were raised after the initial donations of £8,500 were gift-aided) and four paid for by Lambeth. Lambeth has already written to properties adjacent to proposed tree pit sites to canvas opinion, receiving largely favourable replies.
So it seems we’re getting plenty of attention at the moment and everything is moving in the right direction.
London’s urban forest
London itself can be described as an “urban forest”. It is home to over 8 million trees – roughly one for every person. In fact 20% of the capital is covered by tree canopy.
The “forest” is a patchwork of natural havens “from the gardens of suburbia to ancient woodlands… and to parks and open spaces.”
(Quoting from the excellent book by Paul Wood, “London is a Forest”, 2019”)
In view of recent comments on our Fantastic Fawnbrake WhatsApp conversation, it might be useful to repeat the government’s rules for accommodation providers including those offering Airbnb.
There’s nothing ambiguous about these rules.
Government’s COVID-19 advice for accommodation providers,
dated 24 March 2020
“… Businesses providing holiday accommodation (including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, boarding houses and short term lets) should now take steps to close for commercial use as quickly as is safely possible. …”
What have Airbnb said?
‘Airbnb says it will follow government guidance ordering accommodation providers to close except to key workers.’
Thought this might be useful/reassuring for neighbours.
The latest government guidelines for coping with Covid-19, updated early this morning (25 March), states that “work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.”
“Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
“No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”