Recent years have seen announcements about the redevelopment of Brockwell Hall, and news of a Lottery Grant of £3.3 million towards the overall cost of the project, which would probably exceed £6 million.
The plan is for Lambeth Council (who own the Hall) to fund the difference, with the Hall aiming to become commercially viable, if probably not fully self-sufficient. There is a full report in the excellent article by our neighbour Laurence Marsh in the centre pages of the most recent ‘Herne Hill’ magazine.
Most of the Hall at the moment is inaccessible to the public, but the cafe – modest though it is – is popular as a place of meeting and refreshment for park users. The future franchise for the operation of the cafe will probably be open to bidders, and one interested party has already started to canvass the park users’ views of what we would like the cafe to offer. We are grateful to our friends in the Brixton Forum for directing us to this survey. It is easy and quick to complete.
Take the survey
Undoubtedly many people on our street are users of the Brockwell Hall cafe and will have views about what a future replacement might look like. If you want to contribute to the survey, click here.
The Friends of Ruskin Park have circulated an update of their programme of summer and autumn concerts at the bandstand.
It can be found here. This Sunday features the South London Jazz Orchestra from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.
Paddling Pool has temporarily closed for urgent maintenance
Unfortunate timing but the paddling pool had to be drained today, Friday 12th August due to the jets being blocked.
Volunteers are working hard with Lambeth Council to resolve the issues, which are made worse by the extreme weather. They’re not currently able to say if the pool will be open over the weekend but will keep us updated
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.
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 contactthe 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.
We understand via the Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Panel that a frighteningly large quantities of discarded needles/syringes are strewn about in Brockwell Park, according to local residents with children that play in there.
They are mostly concentrated within the bushes, where children naturally like to run about in and play. To describe the quantities as ‘scores’ is no exaggeration, we hear.
Our Police Community Support Officers do excellent and effective work in knife and weapon searches, often finding needles etc., but the police are not caretakers and cleaners. Dealing with the needles is a specialised job with Health and Safety implications and the Council, with financial support from central government, possibly via the Mayor’s Office, to make this possible, needs to address this issue. People are recalling a case in 1992 when a 7-year-old found such a needle having unknowingly pricked herself on it. Fortunately, hospital tests gave her full clearance but it could so easily have been a different outcome.
The relevant local councillors in Lambeth have been made aware of this situation, but any parents with children likely to visit the park should perhaps be conscious of the risk and keep an eye on where the children are venturing.
We can still comment on Lambeth’s application for a performance/food/drink pop-up on and around the Ruskin Park bandstand this summer. But Wednesday 10 March is the cut-off date.
The performances and other events would happen 5 days a week including evenings and weekends all through spring to autumn (29 April – 12 September 2021), presumably blocking off the long-established summer weekend concerts traditionally organised by the Friends of Ruskin Park (FoRP).
The Friends’ explanation and comments can be read on their website here. Others might think, on the contrary, that this is all a wonderful idea.
There’s a natural tendency in Lambeth Council (as in others, probably) to assume that “no comment”/silence = either approval or indifference.
So if we feel something is wrong (or right!) it could make sense to take five minutes to feed back our comments. Lord knows, it doesn’t always make a difference but if we stay silent when things we don’t approve of look like happening, we can’t really complain afterwards if they do. End of homily.
Friends of Ruskin Park (FofRP) have released information about a series of events – The Open Arms – that Lambeth are proposing to host in Ruskin Park across the summer. The events, and supporting installations, would mainly happen around the Bandstand.
Sounds fun, maybe – but as the FofRP comment, “This is too much time for one organisation to be effectively taking over the popular bandstand area. It is more like a concession, not an event.”
The proposal – ‘pop-up’ or concession?
Lambeth’s proposal explains that “The Open Arms is a performance-led pop-up occupying Ruskin Park Bandstand (ideally) for summer 2021. As a recipient of the Arts Council England’s ‘Culture Recovery Grant’, they will be looking to bring to life an activation that celebrates and supports the rich pool of talent living within the borough. They will provide a stage for local performance in the midst of rapid venue closures. Alongside a Food and beverage offer.”
Full details of the proposal are in a PDF accessed via the FoRP website
FofRP initial comments
The Friends of Ruskin Park committee has already raised some initial points with Event Lambeth.
They are not opposed in principle to appropriate new ventures for entertainment and refreshments that benefit Ruskin Park and local people.
However, they have several concerns:
that this is too much time for one organisation to be effectively taking over the popular bandstand area. It is more like a concession, not an event.
about the installation of two semi-permanent pavilions and toilet structures in the area surrounding the bandstand and their impact on the landscape.
about the size of the event levy and what would actually be spent on Ruskin Park.
about risks of noise and size of audience.
about the overall balance of these facilities, as proposed, with the calm and natural character of the park.
that this is an untested format so there should be monitoring and revision stages during the 5 month contract.
that the business model of the organiser should be transparent and the assets of the public park are properly valued in any such transaction.
Feedback and deadline
Anyone – and particularly, perhaps, those of us who live nearby and use Ruskin Park – may lodge comments with Lambeth.
Please visit The Friend’s excellent web page for further information and advice on opportunities for public comments to Lambeth by the consultation deadline of 10th March.
Yes, Brockwell Park is bigger and offers perhaps more scenic variety, but Ruskin Park is closer. Those of us who live in this quarter of Herne Hill are doubly blessed.
But Ruskin Park has one (so far) unique detail. The massive fallen branch of the Turkey Oak which looms at the bottom corner of the park near Finsen Road has been granted a new life by the Friends of Ruskin Park, who engaged the artist Morganico to work on it, producing a wealth of carved three-dimensional designs – a whale, squirrel, acorns, oak leaves and even a seat and a recess for your coffee cup (though of course we are not supposed to sit down anywhere in public parks at the moment). Children love it, everyone stops to admire it.
You can read a full article about this project, which also features the artist, in the next issue of Herne Hill magazine hopefully out next month. Covid permitting, those joining the Herne Hill Society now (a mere £10) will be sure of getting a copy delivered to them.
Meanwhile the Brockwell Park urban forest are not far behind.
They too have a great and ancient oak tree, albeit of a different species, which has also lost a significant branch. There are now plans to make that branch, too, come alive with carvings by the same artist – all subject to a host of necessary permissions and approvals of course. Undoubtedly some money is needed.
When complete, this new carved bench will be dedicated to all those we have lost during the pandemic & work towards improving mental health for the local community and all visitors to the park.
There is now a funding campaign to help this project along, which can be seen at GoFundMe.
News about Fawnbrake Avenue & neighbouring streets in Herne Hill, London