Local artist Keith Roberts, who has a keen interest in the First World War, installed his sculpture Silent Voices in Chumleigh Gardens this week.
Keith has exhibited a similar piece in the exhibition ‘War in the Sunshine: The British in Italy 1917-1918’ at the Estorik Collection in Highbury earlier this year. We are delighted he has chosen to show this work here during Zeppelin 1917.
Many cups of tea and coffee from Parklife Café were consumed during the installation and there was lots of interest from regular visitors to the lovely English garden. Sadly the bells can’t go on the lawn but are instead looking equally amazing nearby on the broad central pathway. A word of thanks to the park’s staff who were so helpful on the day.
Keith has also made a Zeppelin to hang in the exhibition at Theatre Delicatessen and there is a plan being hatched to film its journey from his studio through the park to the Old Library on 6th October. Watch this space….
On 14th September, Southwark News published a second article on our remembrance of the 1917 Zeppelin raid on Camberwell.
The article covered the story of the Boyce-Balls family who Jon Pickup and Andrew Pearson, volunteers on the Friends of Burgess Park Zeppelin research project, met recently. They spoke to Greta and Peter, younger siblings of the two brothers killed in the raid. Peter described how their family had crossed the road from their father’s grocers shop to be with the doctor’s wife who was nervous in air raids, on the night of 19th October, 1917. The surgery and surrounding houses were subsequently hit by the Zeppelin bomb.
Last week, local south London paper Southwark News published our story on plans to remember the raid in October. On page 5, in the Walworth section, they previewed our story of the Boyce-Balls family, who had to be rescued from 101 Albany Road after the bomb hit, and lost two young sons. Members of the family hope to be at our events in October.
Sonny (standing) and Eddie (on his mother’s lap) both died in the attack, and Leslie (on his father’s knee) was permanently affected.
Friends of Burgess Park and the Walworth Society are supporting the application by Historic England to have the World War One war memorial outside St Georges Church listed as having special architectural and historic interest. Some people may be surprised that this wasn’t already done. You can see more information on the bronze sculpture by Danish artist Arild Rosenkrantz on our page on St Georges Church.
Although born in Denmark, Rosenkrantz grew up from the age of three in Scotland and settled in London at twenty eight. He had a strong interest in mysticism and spirituality, and worked mainly in stained glass and painting. He studied and worked in Rome, Paris and New York, and also worked in Switzerland for Rudolf Steiner.
The memorial was unveiled on Sunday 19th September 1920 by Camberwell Mayor John George Spradbrow, and Reverend PM Herbert, Vicar of St George’s church. The funds for the memorial were raised by local parishioners.
The listing should give it a degree of protection, which would be useful, considering that it’s already been stolen for scrap and recovered once, and considering that the other memorial to war in the area has also disappeared. There had been a plaque to the memory of the 10 people killed in the Zeppelin raid in Calmington Road, until the buildings were demolished for the formation of the park.
A memorial stone was recently placed in Chumleigh Gardens, in recognition of all the lives lost during the first world war in the Camberwell area.
We intend to commemorate the centenary of the Zeppelin raid in October this year – watch this space.
We heard on 3rd July 2017 that the War Memorial has now been given grade 2 listed status. The reasons for the listing are given as
Historic interest: as an eloquent witness to the tragic impact of world events on the local community, and the
sacrifices they made in the First World War;
Design: as an attractive and emotive sculpture of Christ by Danish artist Arild Rosenkrantz;
Group value: with the Grade II-listed St George’s Church.
The memorial is now officially known as the Burgess Park War Memorial.
Yes – there is still a bridge taking Trafalgar Avenue over the route of the former Grand Surrey Canal! It was news to this author that the slight rise in the road where it crosses the park disguises a modern concrete replacement bridge, not merely a pile of demolished buildings.
It’s not quite clear (maybe someone can explain) why an expensive bridge was built, although the canal had been filled in in 1970.
Unfortunately, bridges need inspecting periodically, and when that time came around last year, it proved to be a bigger task than at first envisaged.
Typically for the development of the park, it was discovered that the void beneath the bridge had been used to dispose of all kinds of waste, including asbestos.
Works have therefore taken quite some time, and the whole space beneath has been excavated in order to build permanent inspection chambers, so that in future, the job will be a bit easier.
The brick tower next to the bridge above is a ventilation chamber for the 132kV London electricity ring-main, cables for which were laid under the park as it was being developed in the 60s or 70s.
Of course, an imaginative administration might have thought about the posibility of restoring some water to the area, in some sort of memorial to the days of the canal. However, a brick-built inspection chamber is going in and the whole are will be backfilled and restored to grass.
Did you spot the ubiquitous R Whites lemonade bottle in the image above? Somehow recovered intact, despite the heavy earth-movers, these can be found all over the park, wherever a hole is dug.
You may have seen our blog 2 years ago on this historic bit of Surrey Canal infrastructure. The only remaining section of canal bank, which marked the junction of the Camberwell branch (1810) with the Peckham branch (1830) of the Grand Surrey Canal, has probably stood in this position, if not this state, for 120-150 years.
However, although still absolutely solid, the surface is beginning to crumble and become unsightly, especially for the new flats opposite, and the council have been determined to replace it. Work started at the beginning of 2017 on a like-for-like replacement (rather than suburban bypass-style concrete block planters), as far as funds and practicality allow. The top end of Surrey Canal walk has been closed whilst this happens.
First up was the removal of a two metre-wide strip of the beautifully worn cobbles on the top surface, which now forms the ground level for the Glengall Wharf community garden.
The work has been majorly distruptive for the garden, involving the removal of a fine old self-seeded plum tree and many garden structures. However, it was arranged to take place in winter, outside the growing season, to at least minimise this.
These cobbles, known as granite setts, have been taken up with a JCB and as far as possible preserved for replacement when the wall work is complete. It was thought that they’d been set solidly in concrete, but they’ve mostly come away cleanly, minus a few breakages.
Around the end of January, work started on excavating beneath the garden surface and removing soil from behind the wall. Here things got interesting for the contractors, as they discovered the foundations of the rubbish chutes, visible in the photo beneath, and on our previous blog
Now, it’s a case of tearing down the old wall and carting it away.
One or two interesting finds were made:
It also became clear that a previous wall had existed further back than the concrete wall, judging by the foundations uncovered:
Work is due to finish in March 2017, so watch this space for updates. Please do go and see the works for yourself, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment here!
Art in the Park, based here in Burgess Park, have launched a new project to find out from those old enough to remember, more about some of the places which used to exist in and around the Park, and permanently mark them. They’ve already had some fascinating visits and talks, and have collected some great recordings of local memories.
Check out the project – called A Place to Remember – and see if you can contribute or learn more. Or develop your artistic side and contribute ideas for Markers for these places!
So far they’ve worked on 4 places in the Walworth area – two of which were or still are in the Park – North Camberwell Radical Club and the New Peckham Mosque, formerly St Mark’s church, Camberwell. There’re some fantastic interviews on the website and images to check out.
The Radical Club ran for around 100 years and was on the northern edge of the park near the lake, fronting onto Albany Road. Art in the Park are organising open sessions for people to contribute to the design for a marker for the Radical club on Tuesday 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th November 2016 from 11-1pm at the Art in the Park studio.
Listen to a SoundArt piece by Jane Higginbottom on the Radical Club, featuring modern sounds from the park, with local peoples’ memories of the club.
Art In the Park are still open to suggestions for other markers in the Park. Do check out the Marking Places page, and contact them to see how you can share ideas and get involved, or come along on Tuesday17th, 24th, 31st January, 7th, 21st, 28th February 2017 to Waterside Care Home, 40 Sumner Road, SE15.
Suggestions so far include:
The Cold Storage Depot that used to sit across the Old Kent Road entrance.
The corner of then Calmington Road and Albany Rd, remembering people killed and injured in the First World War Zeppelin Raid – replacing a previous plaque placed in 1927
Once again, Friends of Burgess Park will be opening up several usually-hidden parts of the Passmore Edwards building on Wells Way – or to give it its full title, the Old Library, Baths And Washhouse (OLBAW)! This year, we’re forging ahead with making plans for the future of the building, having received a grant of seed funding to assist with this from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Come along and help us visualise the possibilities for the future of the building. The Wells Way Popup in the old library building will provide hospitality with refreshments, and there’ll be a second chance to look at the displays we set up for for the Making of a Modern Park meeting in May.
Come and join us 1pm to 5pm, 19th and 20th September 2015.
Burgess Park has some of the most beautiful piles of rubble this time of year!
Come and find out about them on a guided walk with the designer, James Hitchmough, on 8th August 2015, starting at 11am. Read on for details and links.
At the hand-over of Burgess Park from the GLC (at their dissolution in 1986) to Southwark Council, there were many buildings remaining in the park. In some cases, the GLC had plans for them, which were never realised due to their demise. In other cases, compulsory purchase had not been arranged yet, or there were long leases about to expire.
These buildings were nearly all eventually cleared by Southwark Council in the following ten years. In many cases, the rubble was simply piled up and topsoil dumped on top of it all. So various hillocks appeared wherever the buildings had happened to be.
At the revitalisation stage in 2010, it was decided to make a feature of these hills by re-arranging them into a more meaningful formations.
The previous low plateaued hillocks became higher and steeper with ‘faces’ providing different climatic conditions to accommodate various kinds of planting.
The designers, LDA, engaged the services of the Sheffield University Horticultural Department to plan the planting. James Hitchmough, celebrated for the London 2012 Olympic gardens, wildflower meadows and horticultural planting, devised meadow and prairie-like elements, and these were sown in January 2012.
The north slopes comprise a ground layer of sown, shade-tolerant, mainly woodland perennials from which emerge summer and autumn flowering tall perennials. The West facing slopes support a heat and drought tolerant cosmopolitan meadow, running down to a drainage swale at the base. Despite some of the challenges, public response to the wildflowers has been extremely positive.
Professor Hitchmough will lead a walk explaining the design and planting, and describe how he arrived at the design. The walk will start at the western end, at the Tennis Courts near Addington Square, and visit the hills nearby. It will then move on to St Georges Gardens at the eastern side of the park, where he designed complex garden-like planting, which is looking beautiful now.
Please sign up for the walk on Eventbrite, where there will be a small deposit to pay, refundable on the day.
On 23rd May 2015, we followed up last year’s Bombs to BMX talk on the history of the the area by bringing the account of the making of the park almost up to date. Once again, we were privileged to have an auspicious line-up of guests, and the panel included some of the key players from the park’s growing years:
David Sadler MBE (former Burgess Park Manager) Joyce Bellamy OBE (GLC Parks Department) and Robert Hadfield (former vice-chair of Groundwork Southwark), chaired admirably by Barbara Pattinson (Chair of SE5 Forum)
David Sadler kicked things off in a relaxed style with his own memories of the challenges of running the park day to day. Metaphorically and literally down to earth stuff. He’d been Deputy Park Manager (working for the London County Council) for a few years in the 1960s and recalled helping plant some of the very first trees of what was then known as the “North Camberwell Open Space”. It would eventually be renamed Burgess Park – even though, as he later recounted, if the local schools had had their way, it would universally have been named Georgie Best Park.
Schools involvement was later a big part of his work – the nature area on Cobourg road for instance, where school groups were invited along to study wildlife reclaiming a bomb-site.
Having moved on to work in West Kensington, no less, it was a call from out of the blue that queued up a mystery promotion opportunity. It proved, of course, to be Burgess Park. Despite some friendly dismay (“why do you want to go there? it’s not even a park!?”), David returned to Camberwell, and the streets he’d known as a boy, now as Parks Manager. He would stay throughout the 70s, until the abolition of the GLC in 1986, when “we all found ourselves very suddenly out of a job”. But before then there were colourful stories of run-ins with the Richardsons on Neate Street, Cypriot festivals, discoveries of warehouses full of contraband whisky and even a proud turning point visit from the Duke of Edinburgh himself in 1985 – rudely derailed by the Brixton Riots.
Joyce Bellamy followed – always engaging, and once again on fine form. Joyce gave a very clear account of the painstaking piecemeal acquisition of land that went to build up the green space – over literally decades. She recalled the sheer scale of endeavour involved in decontaminating every inch of acquired ground – like the creosote contaminated ex-timber-yard plots. Over in Addington Square there’d been a scientific instrument makers, painting dials with gow-in the-dark paint, where “the soil in that area ticked when it was tested” [for radioactivity, with a Geiger counter]. The square, she noted as an aside, lacks tall trees in the centre to this day, because of the air raid shelter beneath it.
As ever Joyce displayed her usual knack for marrying big ideas to on-the-ground details, such as the local impact of the Civic Amenities Act, and recalling a later period “when the police had seemingly decided that all trees harbour muggers”. But her overarching tone was clear – one of quiet pleasure in seeing the park today blooming, and especially looking so well used.
Robert Hadfield’s take reflected a later age, where grand visions were viewed a little more warily. Southwark Council had acquired the park rather suddenly in the mid 80s, and it seems initially nobody was quite sure what to do with it. Robert recalled with horror some of the dubious past plans (all thankfully fought off) to sell off plots of park land, noting in hindsight how they’d always occurred in June, July, & August when there were no Council meetings and the officers ran riot… There was almost a touch of W1A farce in some of the stories, including one of a war memorial being nicked, then spotted on the back of a lorry in east London and chased into the suburbs, later to be returned to its spot in front of St George’s church. On the surreal landscape of residual derelict buildings awaiting outright demolition, was the observation that they provided both hazard and resource alike – to eagle-eyed Robert on the lookout for a bit of skirting board or spare parts from the car-breakers’ yards.
But Robert’s overall theme was a cheerful reminder – that despite the highs and lows, and even the odd collective ghastly moment, the park always has been used and enjoyed by thousands, day-in day-out.
After a brief interval with refreshments and exhibition, the second half was given over to a lively audience question session. It was great to see a few familiar faces in the audience, such as Tim Charlesworth (author of “THE STORY OF BURGESS PARK – FROM AN INTRIGUING PAST TO A BRIGHT FUTURE”, and a memorable guest speaker last year), and the good folk of the Walworth Society.
We hope the supporting exhibition went down well – our thanks to Southwark Local History Library & Archive for permission to reproduce some of the images.
Finally a word of thanks to the Wells Way Pop-Up, who hosted us beautifully, providing seating and café.
Listen to Part 1 – presentations from the three speakers, following introductions from Susan Crisp – Friends of Burgess Park and Chair Barbara Pattinson – chair of SE5 Forum:
Listen to Part 2 – Questions from the floor:
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