The Battersea Society Newsletter Summer 2008 Healthcare consultation: Battersea Society supports PCT Changes to local health care or more joined-up way to provide hospitals always generate strong diagnostic and outpatient services in opinions. When Wandsworth Teaching addition to their current services. The Primary Care Trust (PCT) began its PCT envisages a number of services consultation exercise, first on the future working in the same building and being of the Bolingbroke Hospital and then on able to interact easily. These could the whole healthcare system in include drug and alcohol advice and Battersea and North Wandsworth, they Citizens Advice Bureaux as well as must have expected controversy. They school nursing and minor surgery. were indeed met with an impassioned The Battersea Society also liked the campaign from the Friends of the PCT’s emphasis on health education. Bolingbroke We welcomed the Hospital, whose The Bolingbroke is not intention to improve vice-chairman all four of the easily accessible writes on page 3. existing health However, after centres and to Battersea Society committee members enhance GPs’ working conditions. In attended several consultation addition the Society hoped that meetings, the Society decided to concentrating practices in centres support the PCT. This article would lead to the end of the single summarises the Society’s response to doctor practice. the consultation. For the response in We agreed with the PCT’s view that full, see www.batterseasociety.org.uk Grant Road is the most accessible The PCT’s basic consultation venue and, being in Latchmere ward, question concerned the location of a one of the closest to areas of new primary care centre, aiming to deprivation. Well served by buses and reduce attendance at large hospitals trains, it would serve people who work such as St George’s and Chelsea and in Battersea as well as those who live Westminster. The four alternative here. venues the PCT proposed were the Doddington Health Centre, Bridge Lane Disability access Health Centre, Grant Road (near The Doddington Health Centre on Clapham Junction) or Bolingbroke Battersea Park Road could be Hospital. The PCT’s preferred option is extended to provide accommodation for Grant Road. It also proposes moving a nearby GP practice and existing some GP practices into PCT-owned community services in a building with premises. full disability access (many hospitals
Investment in primary care In its response, the Battersea Society welcomed the PCT’s conclusions. We appreciated the implied investment in primary care, especially as a means of improving the health of people living in Latchmere, Queenstown and St Mary Park, some of Wandsworth’s most deprived wards. We welcomed the PCT’s concept of a “federated primary care model”. This would mean GPs and other health professionals, including therapists, nurses and health visitors, working in a
and GP practices are difficult or impossible for disabled people to use fully). The Society would like to see both the Doddington and Bridge Lane clinics enhanced. While acknowledging the Bolingbroke Hospital’s past contribution to Battersea’s health services, we agreed that it is no longer well served by public transport or easily accessible by the population in greatest need. We approved the aim of re-locating nearby GP practices on the site if possible, alongside services for children and elderly people. Registered Charity no:1103560
St John’s Therapy Centre, St Johns Hill
The Society made one major new contribution to the PCT’s report: we proposed new health provision for the Nine Elms Lane area. We noted that there is only one GP surgery here, a branch of the Battersea Fields practice on the Doddington Estate, and no pharmacy. In nearby Lambeth there is a new health centre in the St George’s development at Vauxhall. We urged Wandsworth to work together with Lambeth PCT to develop primary care in this area. “The devil is in the detail”, we remarked, and asked the PCT to provide a detailed document describing the services and locations – and, importantly, costs and timing – of creating a federated primary care model in Battersea. The consultation period closed on 12 May. The next step is for the PCT to analyse all the responses and to finalise its decision, which will be announced at a board meeting on 25 June. Wandsworth Council’s health scrutiny committee has the right to review any decision and, if it disagrees, refer it to the Secretary of State for Health. However, the committee has welcomed the proposed Grant Road option, though it also supports a second centre at the Bolingbroke. Jenny Sheridan.
Editorial I am puzzled. Why is there no gardening society in Battersea? Chelsea has one, so does Kensington. And Roehampton, though that is mostly about allotments. Walking around the area I see many pretty front gardens and colourful window boxes. It seems odd that no-one has started up a gardening club to share knowledge, swap plants and seeds and perhaps even organise an Ambridge-style flower and produce show. Gardens not only provide joy and pleasure (and frustration), they also make a huge contribution to the environment. They help to cool London down by soaking up rainwater and letting it evaporate slowly into the atmosphere. They also help to reduce the risk of the flash floods we saw last summer, as the water sinks in rather than running off the surface. So if you are thinking of changing your garden, don’t pave it. If there is really nowhere else to park your car, compensate a little by planting green space somewhere else. Even on a small balcony you can grow a shrub or small tree in a tub. Or how about a green roof on a shed or kitchen extension? This issue of the newsletter has a focus on gardens, with articles on the Thrive horticultural charity, local gardens open to the public and on container gardening. And on our website you can find pictures of local gardens in glorious Technicolour. If you have a lovely front garden or patio, don’t forget that the deadline for entering the Wandsworth in Bloom competition is 20 June. We also cover healthcare, with articles on the front page and page three. Some local GPs and the national campaigning organisation Keep Our NHS Public believe that the government is intent on privatising the health service. The government just says that people want choice and this is what is offering. We will aim to keep you informed about what is happening locally. We welcome contributions to the newsletter or suggestions for articles. Do get in touch.
Jenny Sheridan email@example.com 020 7350 2749
A LOOK AT LIFE
The Man On The Battersea Omnibus Down these mean streets a man must go… and today I narrowly avoided collision with a young woman walking her dog and sending a text message at the same time. She (and the dog) glared at me as if it was my fault! It’s an offence to use a mobile phone while driving and it is high time for this principle to be applied to texting pedestrians. A phone company mounted a publicity stunt a few weeks ago where they padded a few lampposts on Brick Lane in a ‘pilot’ scheme to save texters from injury as they blundered blindly along. Never mind them! Perhaps we should garb ourselves like American footballers to save ourselves from this modern menace. I dream of reading about a multiple pile-up outside Debenhams as a dozen texters enquiring about 2nite’s plans all meet in a tragic tangle of crushed Nokias and bruised Blackberries. Yes, my friends, we live in troubling times. On the one hand we’re
encouraged to re-use carrier bags, save water, turn down our thermostats, and fill our orange sacks with unopened junk mail, carefully washed baked bean cans and unread Sunday supplements (and how many trees died so they could be thrown away?). Then on the other hand I’m told that every single day we throw away 440,000 ready meals and 5,500 whole chickens. It makes my recycling efforts seem very puny. And if we collected up all the red rubber bands dropped by Battersea postman as they whistle on their merry way, we’d probably have enough red rubber bands to fill an orange bag. But I don’t think you can recycle them. It all makes me want to write a furious letter to the Borough News – in green ink and CAPITAL LETTERS. And then life comes up with a pleasant surprise. Last time I suggested that we should try harder to interact more at social functions. It was gratifying to 2
find that several people at the spring lunch at Thai on the River had actually read my words and were prepared to act upon them. Made for a very nice occasion, on one of the rare sunny afternoons we enjoyed in an otherwise dismal April. Keep it up I say. How about a spontaneous conga at the summer party…? See you next time. Mike Roden Number 19 bus snapped at Niagara Falls, Canada by surprised Society member Brenda Davies.
Hope for the Bolingbroke First, I would like to thank the many Battersea Society members who have supported the Bolingbroke Friends as we sought to keep services at the hospital. Although decisions by Wandsworth Primary Care Trust are awaited, we continue to campaign for the longterm use of the Bolingbroke. Recently we met with officials from the PCT and St George’s Hospital Trust to discuss our ideas for a Bolingbroke Care Community. We believe that providing NHS primary care facilities will allow the upper floors to be refurbished for intermediate care, respite and elderly care facilities. Our outline ideas have been helped by an architect with experience of such schemes.
Easier parking During the PCT’s consultation we attended their meetings and discussed their proposals with patients and residents from all parts of Battersea and beyond. We remain convinced that the Bolingbroke is the first and best location for primary care
facilities. It is the only major site owned by the NHS in Battersea, is readily accessible to over 80,000 residents and is well served by local rail stations and several bus routes. It also has easier parking than other sites. The We recognise that additional facilities are required in north Battersea. However we have serious doubts about the viability of the Grant Road site, both in terms of access for many people and the range of services that could fit on such a constrained site. We support calls for a walk-in centre for working people in a redeveloped Clapham Junction. We welcome Wandsworth Council’s health committee’s support for the Bolingbroke continuing to provide significant primary and community services, including elderly outpatients and a day hospital.
Bolingbroke Hospital today.
George’s have also been asked to put forward joint proposals for the Bolingbroke. Their failure to do so as part of the consultation has caused great frustration and undermined confidence in the process. Whatever decision the PCT takes in June, we will keep lobbying the NHS trusts to ensure that healthcare services continue at the Bolingbroke as they have for 128 years. Local support for our efforts has been overwhelming. The Bolingbroke was built to serve the needs of the people of Battersea – together we must ensure it continues to do so.
The Bolingbroke Hospital in 18??
By September the PCT has been asked to provide the health committee with a feasibility study to see if the Grant Road site can provide the services required in Battersea. The PCT and St
Jenny Edwards Vice-chairman Bolingbroke Friends.
Will the post office be stamped out? The anger over post office closures has been widely felt and widely publicised. Abbeville Road’s post office was even defended in the pages of the New Statesman by the veteran radical journalist John Pilger. The Battersea Society has also spoken up. Tony Tuck wrote to the Post Office in April, voicing the Society’s strong objection to the proposed closure of the post office at 268 Battersea Park Road. Tony made the point that there is a vital community role for such post offices, and that this one in particular is important both for the local shops and the nearby residential communities. He also commended the staff’s well-deserved reputation for helpful service and pointing out that the office is active and busy. Wandsworth Council is putting its efforts into working in partnerships to try to save the post offices in New Covent Garden and Putney. In the first case it hopes to work with the market authority. In Putney, where two post offices are scheduled to close, the vicar of St Mary’s hopes to offer space in the Brewer building next to the church. Everything depends on the Post Office’s willingness to compromise its hard line. 3
Diversions, dalliance and devilry on the South Bank By Penelope J. Corfield Penelope Corfield launched her booklet history of Vauxhall and the Invention of the Urban Pleasure Gardens (2007) at a Battersea Society meeting on 3 April 2008. The choice of Battersea Park for the 1951 Festival of Britain Gardens made a notable contribution to London’s South Bank leisure tradition. It came in indirect succession to the medieval brothels and fairs of Southwark – to the crowded theatres of Shakespeare’s day – to the famous eighteenth-century Pleasure Gardens at Vauxhall – and to the raffish company that frequented the old Red House tavern on the Battersea
river-bank was closed. Only its name survived, given to a down-at-heel plebeian pub on Battersea Park Road (now renamed, disappointingly, The Pavilion).
Romance and excitement At the same time, another South Bank venue for diversions and devilry ran into trouble. The great exemplar of the leisure tradition was old Vauxhall, its Pleasure Gardens located by the
The Vauxhall Fete (1814), celebrating Britain’s victory over France at Vittoria, with music, dancing, drink, debauchery and drunkenness. riverside in the early and midnineteenth century. Being at once close to the great capital city and yet free from its more restrictive regulations, the South Bank provided nothing as dramatic as an alternative society. But it did offer alternative venues for diversions, dalliances, and some mild devilry. So when the Duke of Wellington fought a duel with the Earl of Winchelsea, the deed was done early one March morning in 1829 by the riverside in Battersea Fields. It was an extraordinary event, as Britain’s foremost military hero was at that time aged 60 and Prime Minister. One radical journalist waxed sarcastic, asking why the masses were expected to obey the laws when the nation’s leaders openly flouted them? But no constable was on hand to arrest the noble combatants. Such shenanigans help to explain why there was local support to transform the marshy and inaccessible Battersea Fields into the landscaped and respectable Battersea Park (built 1846-52). A new embankment lifted the land above the tidal floods, but the old and raffishly alluring Red House on the Thames
nineteenth century than was once realised. But eventually the venue was overwhelmed by industrial might and blight. The end came in July 1859, with fireworks spelling out: ‘Farewell for Ever’. Unkindly, The Times remarked that it was like saying goodbye to ‘the ghost of a friend who has been dead for some years’. Vauxhall was competing with too many rival leisure sites, including the new Battersea Park. There were some resemblances, however, over time. Battersea’s Festival Gardens recreated in the 1950s and 1960s some of the magic that once belonged to Vauxhall. Not only did it attract huge crowds but it too became known particularly as a rendez-vous for young lovers. In tune with the times, Petula Clark had a hit song in 1954 on that theme - entitled ‘Meet me in Battersea Park’. But the Festival Gardens faced much more competition from the start. They became rather seedy, and were closed in 1974, never matching the longevity of old Vauxhall. Both sites, however, are part of London history. They exemplify the unbuttoned South Bank leisure tradition, complete with devilry, diversions – and lovers’ dalliance.
site of the modern road and rail interchange. After its commercial rebranding in 1732, it attracted both aristocrats and ‘ordinary’ Londoners. Everybody wanted to be seen there on the long, light summer evenings. The crowds enjoyed the open-air musical Copies of Penelope J. Corfield, concerts (precursors of the Proms) as Vauxhall and the Invention of the well as the ever-varied entertainments, Urban Pleasure Gardens (2008), pp. lubricated by the famous Vauxhall rum 51; price =£5.00 plus p+p; are punch. All that, and the young people available from History & Social Action came to meet and to court, strolling Publications, 18 Ridge Road, under the trees in Vauxhall’s notorious Mitcham, Surrey CR4 2ET. Dark Walks. The combination of crowds, entertainments and sexual possibilities generated an aura of romance and excitement. Such a formula was hard to maintain. Vauxhall Gardens actually remained popular for far longer into the The Old Red House, Battersea Fields, with customers arriving by land and river. 4
Freecycle: a virtuous circle What can you do with that outlandish, outsize wardrobe you inherited from Auntie Sadie? Or the second television you no longer want now that your teenagers have left home? Have you had a cathartic dejunking session and need to get rid of the junk? Most charity shops won’t accept furniture or electrical goods and many of us have not mastered the intricacies of e-bay. There is an answer: Freecycle. This is an online network which links people who want something but can’t afford it to others who have objects they don’t want. Its main aim is to save useable goods from being dumped in landfill sites, which give out polluting liquids and gases and contribute to climate change. Eighty per cent of Wandsworth’s rubbish goes to landfill in Essex. Much of it will take hundreds of years to decompose. One of the ways we can combat the throw-away culture we inhabit is to recycle things. Freecycle was started in Arizona in 2003 and now has over four million members all over the world. There are groups in 37 London boroughs; Wandsworth, which only
started in October 2006, has one of the larger groups, with almost 6,000 members. To join the Wandsworth Freecycle group you have to join a Yahoo group. Go to www.freecycle.org then browse groups, find Wandsworth and go to the Yahoo group link. Then follow the instructions. This is the only complicated part of belonging to Freecycle. You will be given instructions on using the system; I suggest that you elect to receive a daily digest of information, as this will prevent inundation with more frequent emails. Every day you will receive an email detailing the items that are on offer or are requested.
may use only for a short period and then re-freecycle – before Christmas there were several requests for mattresses for visiting relatives. Among the items we have freecycled over the past few months have been a pair of old-fashioned skis and a bag of tinsel. In each case the recipient left with something they wanted and we were left with a bit more space in the cupboard and a rosy glow of satisfaction. The only drawback is that Freecycle is only a realistic option for people who have broadband access to the internet or know someone who has. Jenny Sheridan
Knitting wool and concrete Most of the items offered on freecycle are either electrical, awkward to carry or large. Recent digests have offered a concrete breaker, several televisions and six metres of loft insulation, as well as a bag of knitting wool. On the “wanted” wish list have been a treadmill and a rabbit hutch. People ask for items that they cannot afford to buy, or that they
Tennis, trips and trapezes Vanessa Wride, co-ordinator of the Battersea Summer Scheme, describes its activities for young people. Imagine... not ever having been to the seaside Imagine… you just don’t go on holiday (never, not even a little out of your area!) Imagine... never having gone to a zoo Imagine... spending the holidays bored, with nothing to do except hanging around on street corners waiting for something to happen…….. Imagine... being a parent and not being able to send or even go with your children on an outing, as you don’t have the means – through lack of job, cash or car…….. Battersea Summer Scheme tries to change this. We have been organising trips, outings and events for the past
15 summers. They are aimed primarily at disadvantaged young people in Battersea and Balham, particularly those from the more deprived areas where unemployment, overcrowding and households lacking in amenities are some of the worst in the country. The trips are designed to be fun (after all, it’s the summer holidays), constructive and challenging. We take around 2,000 young people (not all at once!) on visits to the seaside, theatre, theme parks and outwardbound day courses, which include rock-climbing, team tasks, raftbuilding and survival skills. We also organise residential trips which are an extension of these outward-bound day courses. These adventures away from home are extremely demanding but a huge amount of fun. We arrange a spectacular four-day event of sporting activities in Battersea Park, which is an 5
opportunity for the young people to try their hand at everything from a game of tennis to the trapeze to even a high wire course. In the summer half term, we run a very popular five-a-side Football Tournament thoroughly enjoyed by both boys and girls. These are adventures, so the young people do join in, they do benefit from their experiences and, importantly, they are occupied and free from boredom and all the troubles that this can lead to. Up to 2,500 young people take part in the sports days. If you can give a local young person the chance of experiencing an adventure, please send us a donation. We rely completely on our friends and neighbours to make a difference. It’s our neighbourhood and if we all do just a little, we can achieve a great deal! Battersea Summer Scheme, PO Box 37298, London SW11 4WF. 020 7978 5865 firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant review - Chez Manny Bar and Restaurant 145-149 Battersea High Street, SW11 3JS. 020 7223 4040. www.chezmanny.com
Battersea High Street is a charming cobbled road where a farmers’ market is held on every second Sunday. This is where brothers Guillaume and Manny Lambelin opened their bar restaurant, five years ago, with Manny as the restaurant supremo and Guillaume as chef. Over this period the restaurant had been widely acknowledged to be excellent by chefs and critics as well as the local clientele. Its contemporary interior and attentive service complement the menu. The restaurant is modern, light and airy; bar stools and leather sofas in the window area help to create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. During warm weather all the front
glass windows and doors can be opened. Guillaume and Manny have introduced to Battersea the interested yet informal French approach to dining. Their passion for good food and expertise on wine are infectious. They respond with pleasure to diners’ questions on various dishes and on the qualities and appropriateness of different wines. All the food is cooked with fresh ingredients, giving a modern spin to classic dishes. In some restaurants, an overload of information and choice can make things complicated. Here, with a choice of just five starters and five main courses, making a choice is simple, especially with advice from
Manny. There is also a bar menu and a board of daily specials. My personal recommendations are sautéed scallops (£7.50) and homemade foie gras with red wine and onion jam on toasted brioche (£10.50). Over numerous visits my friends and I have also found the various main courses (around £13.50) consistently excellent. The desserts at £4.25 to £6.50 are delicious. There is also a selection of French and English cheeses at £5.50. The many visits I’ve made reveal that many of the customers are regulars and keep coming back again and again. I can understand why! Joan Brittain.
Planning Matters: An Update Redevelopment of Griffon The Society has sent a response to and Lanner Houses (ref the early proposals for a major 2008/0586) Clapham Junction
housing and shopping development. This response includes comment on the proposed scheme and, more importantly, calls for Wandsworth Council to set out a coherent strategy to guide all development in the area, including the Grant Road area and the north side of the station. A number of planning applications have already been received, more are likely. The community will not be well served by plans being decided piecemeal. The Society’s comments can be read on our website: www.batterseasociety.org.uk.
The Society decided against commenting on this application for demolition and rebuilding residential units, including affordable housing, on Winstanley Road.
St Peter with St Paul Church and Vicarage
Ransome’s Wharf: Land in Parkgate Road and Elcho Street. (ref 2008/0407)
An application has been submitted to demolish the listed buildings in Plough Road and then develop the site. We do not object to the demolition of the buildings but will be commenting on aspects of the outline development scheme submitted alongside the application to demolish. These appear to be at an early stage and we hope the church authorities will find our comments constructive and helpful.
Battersea Power Station It has not yet been possible to arrange a site visit alongside English Heritage. We maintain regular dialogue both with the site’s owners and with the senior officer at English Heritage responsible for the power station.
This site contains an interesting chimney, a relic of the site’s former industrial use. The Society wrote to ask that the developer preserve this.
Over-development, roof terraces and basements Members will be well aware that house-owners are regularly applying for permission for extensions which 6
include roof terraces, for excavation to add a basement and, on occasion, for additional building in gardens or for conversions which increase the number of flats in a house. In many cases the Council has set a precedent by agreeing to very similar applications so there is little likelihood that an objection will be successful. We do try to check out any application where no neighbours have been consulted or where the development looks excessive. We would appreciate members alerting us to any case which should be reviewed by the planning committee, as it is always possible that an application slips past us. We are heartened by reports that the Council is taking a firm line over loss of garden space. Note: the numbers in the headings refer to the planning applications on the Council’s website www.wandsworth.gov.uk There is a direct link to the Council’s planning register on our website. Do you have any comments on these or any other planning or transport matters? If so please contact David Lewis, the chair of the planning sub-committee on email@example.com or by phone on 020 7622 8017.
A Battersea character Based on a recent conversation, Cynthia Newman profiles Dr James (Jimmy) Winston, a retired GP known and loved by many Battersea residents. Jimmy was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1912. He was educated in England and at first intended to study English after his matriculation (the precursor of A-levels). However a friend persuaded him to apply to medical school. “It was tremendous cheek to apply for a course like this without any science, but things were easier then,” says Jimmy. He was accepted and started his studies to become a doctor. Jimmy’s first year exam results were “a disaster”, he says. He failed physics, chemistry and biology. But through this failure he learnt an important lesson. “I learnt the power of words to destroy or encourage. I had to re-take all three exams and managed to get through physics. The dean could have said, ‘Still pretty bad, you must either get on or get out.’ Instead he said, ‘So much better this time, I’m sure if you work hard you’ll be all right’. I’ve never forgotten that and always try to remember it when I’m talking to people.”
Sandbags and bombs Jimmy was still a medical student when war broke out in 1939. He remembers seeing sandbags piled up around St George’s Hospital at Hyde Park Corner (now the Lanesborough Hotel). The hospital he worked in at Isleworth was partially destroyed by a bomb, with miraculously only one injury. Now a doctor, Jimmy was called up in 1943 and sent to India. One of his roles was with Italian prisoners of war,
many of whom were suffering from mental illness. After a long train journey of seven months, eased only by the knowledge that they were going home, they arrived in Bombay only to be told that their ship had been cancelled and they had to return. Three of the prisoners attempted suicide on the return journey. Jimmy’s next posting was to Burma, where the main problem was not the retreating Japanese army but malaria and jungle sores. At last he heard that the war in Europe was over. “When I heard that the atom bomb had been dropped I was horrified, as the Japanese were already asking for terms. I believe Nagasaki to be a war crime, but of course victors never get tried, do they?” In 1946 Jimmy met and married his wife Lilli and in 1949 they arrived in Battersea. He began his peacetime career at the very beginning of the National Health Service. Despite opposition from the medical profession (many doctors were very conservative in their outlook, he remembers) the NHS began in 1948. Jimmy found it an exciting time. He was taken on as an assistant to Dr Bertie Lovell, who had two surgeries, one in York Road and the other in Battersea Bridge Road. When the nurse in charge of the latter left suddenly, Jimmy and Lilli gathered together a few things and drove from their home in Earls Court to help out overnight. One night turned out to last a little longer!
Murder During the 1950s Jimmy started to work at Wandsworth Prison. He remembers visiting two young men who had been found guilty of murdering a café proprietor in south London. They were awaiting execution by hanging and were in a cell watched over by prison officers “playing some stupid game. That first time was horrifying. I didn’t see them for what they had done but as two young men about to be cut off in the prime of life. Perhaps almost as horrifying was the fact that after seeing a couple of people on a capital charge one becomes used to the situation. You think you’re civilized but you realize how easily you can become callous.” At the fine age of 96, after a successful career as a loved and respected GP, Dr Winston – Jimmy – still lives in the house in Battersea Bridge Road that he moved into for that one night fifty nine years ago.
Battersea to host art campus The Royal College of Art (based in Kensington next to the Royal Albert Hall) is well advanced with plans to establish a major campus in Battersea. The Battersea Society welcomes this move, subject to scrutiny of the detailed proposals. The College’s Sculpture Department moved some years ago to a former engineering works on the corner of Battersea Bridge Road and Howie Street, which is now being refurbished. The Friends of Battersea Park took the opportunity to create an annual award for a work by a student, which was then on display for a year in Battersea Park. The most recent
winning sculpture can be seen on the pavilion wall at the Millennium Arena. The RCA received planning permission in January to convert another former factory in Howie Street to house the Painting Department. Work is scheduled to begin in August and to be complete by summer next year. The Battersea campus will eventually house the Schools of Fine Art and Applied Art, and include startup units for new businesses in the fields of art and design, as well as a gallery and lecture theatre. The main phase north of Howie Street, designed by architects Haworth Tompkins, is 7
scheduled to start in autumn next year for completion in 2012. What happens to the present buildings in Battersea Bridge Road will be one important issue – as an intrinsic part of a Victorian street scene they are included in the Westbridge Road Conservation Area. The RCA will be presenting their proposals to the public at a consultation event on Wednesday 4 June from 4 to 8pm at 33-35 Battersea Bridge Road. David Lewis Chair of Planning sub-committee
Battersea and the Movies Mike Roden takes a sideways look at Battersea’s cinematic heritage.
The Granada before the hoardings went up
Sadly, there is now no cinema in Battersea, although St Mary’s Church does have the occasional film night. Longstanding Battersea residents will remember there used to be plenty of choice. The Grand on St John’s Hill, now a nightclub, was a cinema from 1930 until 1963. Northcote Road’s Century Cinema (where Somerfield is now) closed in 1964. The Grade I listed Granada on St John’s Hill still awaiting rescue from dilapidation, opened in 1937 and showed its final film in 1980. Our last cinema disappeared in 1981 when the Ruby shut down suddenly. Demolished shortly afterwards it is now the St John’s Hill branch of Barclays Bank. But though there may not be a cinema here filmmakers show no sign of ending their long love affair with Battersea. The Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob was greeted enthusiastically by local audiences in 1951. Ironically, although it may be the only feature film with a local name in its title, it was filmed anywhere but Battersea, with locations in the City, Notting Hill, Ruislip, even Paris. Perhaps one of the earliest feature films showing a prominent local landmark was directed in 1936 by an old boy of Salesian College. Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage depicts an anarchist blowing up Battersea Power Station and reducing London to darkness. The iconic Power Station features on the opening credits of ITV’s earlier Poirot episodes; was used in the 1984 version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four, and surreally stands in for Bosworth Field in the final battle scene in Ian McKellen’s Richard III. More recently it has appeared in Children of Men based on the PD James novel. TV’s Doctor Who first used it in 1964, in a
story about the Daleks, and in 2006 it appeared in a story about the Cybermen. Elsewhere in Battersea Tom Baker made his final appearance as the Doctor in 1981, with some of the location filming taking place on Ursula Street. Battersea Park is now the most popular location in London for film, television and commercial shoots, and Wandsworth Council’s film office is based there. There is no space to list every film and TV series using the park. But the nostalgic have a chance to see again the long-gone funfair in at least three films from the fifties and sixties: Doctor at Large with Dirk Bogarde, the Peter Sellers Comedy The Wrong Arm of the Law, and The Day the Earth Caught Fire.
Scene from the art deco title sequence for ITV’s Poirot
Albert Bridge has appeared many times. In Love Actually Hugh Grant’s lovesick PM drives over the bridge to Wandsworth in search of Martine McCutcheon. Unfortunately the car is shown heading towards Chelsea. Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings cross the bridge on their way to Streatham in search of a missing cook. Naturally they are going in the right direction. St Mary’s Church stood in as a Catholic church for the Joanna Lumley series Sensitive Skin, and The Bill production team is often seen on neighbouring Old Swan Wharf. There is some fascinating detail in the 1965 film of Alfie starring Michael Caine. There are several scenes within the church, on the wharf and in the churchyard. We get some brief glimpses of the Somerset Estate and see that one of the tower buildings there was still under construction. Moving further south, there is rich detail in many of the scenes in Up the Junction based on Nell Dunn’s novel, which were filmed locally, around the station, and around the street market. This 1968 film – about a rich Chelsea 8
Michael Caine as Alfie stands on Old Swan wharf
girl ‘slumming it’ - is shortly to be released on DVD. The crew filming Morgan a Suitable Case for Treatment in 1964 never came south of the river but Battersea still makes its mark. The final scenes were clearly shot on a Sunday in deserted railway shunting yards around Lots Road Power Station. As a straitjacketed David Warner swings gently from a crane (you need to see the film!) we hear the distinct sound of the bells of St Mary’s floating across the river… Many of the films mentioned above may be purchased from the Society’s website at www.batterseasociety.org.uk/ dvdstore.php. Information about Battersea cinemas from: Theatres and Halls in Clapham Junction and Battersea: (www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/clapham.htm) and The Dark Screens – Lost Cinemas Database (www.darkscreens.co.uk) Much of the location filming information comes from the mine of information that is the International Movie Database (www.imdb.com/) Wandsworth Council’s Film Office gives more information, together with a chance for you to register your own property as a possible location site: (www.wandsworth.gov.uk/Home/ LeisureandTourism/Filmoffice).
Fix My Street Welcome to the twenty first century. In the late nineteenth century the lamplighters would walk the streets at dusk to light the gas lamps. In the early to mid twentieth century local authorities were proactive in seeking out local street problems, like blown street lamp bulbs or fly tipping. Then the bean-counters moved in and local authorities moved into primarily passive mode. It was up to the citizen to report defects and register complaints. Services were outsourced or carelessly drawn up with inadequate contracts. Pot-holes multiplied, litter proliferated, carelessness took a firm hold. The man and woman in the street despaired of getting anything put right. It was even a problem to try and work out who was actually responsible for any given area of complaint. Many people simply gave up trying. But Battersea residents do care about their surroundings and have for some years been frustrated at trying
to get all the little things improved or mended. At long last there is a workable solution. Check out www.fixmystreet.com This website will help you report to Wandsworth Council all the small irritations in your street or locality that need fixing. Simply enter your post code or street number, click your mouse on a map of the problem area and describe your complaint about graffiti, fly tipping, broken paving slabs, or street lighting, scooters parked on the pavements, abandoned vehicles, streets wrongly used to advertise cars for sale, etc. Press ‘Send’ and, subject only to an email identity check, your complaint is sent to the correct department of Wandsworth Council within minutes. The site also informs about other issues that have been raised in any given locality or street, other defects reported to Wandsworth Council – or indeed any council in the country.
Of course the old paper system is still operative. Local libraries keep postcards that serve the same purpose. But this web-based service is quick and effective. Try it. Tony Tuck
Why are we here? “What is the purpose of a civic amenity society, like the Battersea Society?” I am sometimes asked. I usually answer with a description of what we do. In a Platonic type “Good Society” there would be no need for people to get together in civic amenity societies. However, in this imperfect world, people do need to band together to argue for the common good, to fight to protect what is good from the past, to argue for what would be good for the future and to encourage others to think about what is the difference in our society between the good, the bad and the indifferent. Here in Battersea we are a two-part village joined in the middle by the straightish line of Falcon Road and St John’s Road. In image, rather like a dumbbell. The old village of Battersea lies around Battersea Square, though not much is left of it. Victorian and Edwardian Battersea lies between the Commons and is divided by Northcote Road. Railway lines also divide us and we are used to accepting the ravages that nineteenth century railways have
made, carving their tendrils all through Battersea. The final indignity is that in the heart of Battersea the railways spawned the worst railway station in Britain – and then mis-named it “Clapham Junction”! So, if we are to defend the Battersea corner, we do start with a number of practical disadvantages, but also with many strengths. The Battersea Society is like a stool with three legs. Firstly we run a series of events throughout the year. These are designed to increase awareness of and pleasure in the fabric of Battersea and its environs, to celebrate the sons and daughters of Battersea now and in history, to educate or illustrate current affairs or happenings – or quite simply to have a good time in Battersea in enjoyable company. Secondly, we aim to let people know what is happening in Battersea. This is by way of newsletters and mail-outs to members and also, since the start of 2008, through our website. The process of ‘keeping in touch’ can be a valuable way of helping people to make sense of Battersea’s changing worlds. Thirdly, we argue that change must be constructive rather than corrosive though our system of committees. 9
These are all detailed on the web site and each one provides a platform from which we can make our case to local and national decision makers. This is an area where any member can make their case on a wider horizon than just a personal view. We have this year amongst other things, for example, joined with other local bodies and residents to argue for the retention of a valued local post office, against a foolish licensing application by Wandsworth Council for Battersea Park, supported the local Primary Care Trust in its plans for developing Primary Care in Battersea and set out a strategic overview for the proposed development of Nine Elms. (All of these are detailed on the web site as well as on the back page of this newsletter). In many activities, we join with our neighbouring societies in Chelsea, Wandsworth & Putney, Balham & Clapham to seek collectively to argue our case. So, if you care about the past, present & future of Battersea, come and participate in one – or more – of our committees and activities. Tony Tuck Chair, Battersea Society
Clouds with silver linings – the De Morgan Centre The paintings of Evelyn and the ceramics of William De Morgan were for many years housed in Old Battersea House, once owned by Evelyn’s younger sister, Wilhelmina Stirling. In 2002 the artworks were moved to a new gallery at the West Hill Library building where, for the first time, they have had a purpose-built and appropriate setting. Two years ago, as part of its New Philistine approach to arts and culture, Wandsworth Council decided to close both the library and the Wandsworth Museum. The privatelyfunded successors to the Museum have prevaricated over whether or not to accept the ‘landlord’s terms’ for rent of the old West Hill Library for the new Museum. So earlier this year the Council triggered a 2 year period of notice to the De Morgan Centre, without revealing any terms for possible lease renewal. As a trustee myself, I was and remain very unhappy with this risk-laden scenario. This is the bank of black thunderclouds. The silver lining though is like an Indiana Jones type vision of the Holy Grail. An unparalleled opportunity has arisen to bring together the De
Morgan collection and a number of important Arts and Crafts collections and their archive material. This would be in a more central and accessible location where such an important cultural and educational amenity could flourish. Together these collections would provide a museum and archive of national, and indeed international, importance. It would become a significant contribution to the regeneration of the neighbourhood, as well as a focus for tourism. The plan, which the trustees have now unanimously endorsed, is to establish an Arts & Crafts Museum in the Beaufoy Institute building in Black Prince Road, SE11. The building is itself of the Arts and Crafts period and was built to provide craft-skill education in the area. The new museum will become the focal point for a new development of craft skill education by creating workshops for practising craftspeople offering tuition and apprenticeships. Artist craftsmen could help to establish a British Glass Centre there, while above the planned craft workshops, an Artisan Academy School is planned for 14-19 year olds under the Government’s new plans for vocational education. At the heart of such a community will be the first Arts and Crafts Museum dedicated to the whole
country’s contributions to this important epoch. Furthermore, the spread of the movement abroad will also be shown, albeit in audiovisual form. The whole project is very much in tune with the aims and philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement itself, and is wholly relevant today in a number of educational, social and economic areas. Its potential benefits to the area and indeed to London cannot be overstated. If realised it will make a significant contribution to the 2012 Cultural Olympics and become a major asset for the capital. As the poet Robert Frost put it, “I have miles to go before I sleep” and there is much to do. But with the very positive support of Lambeth Council, the Beaufoy Trust and other key partners, the De Morgan collection should become a central feature of the new Arts and Crafts Museum. Watch this space! Tony Tuck
Civic irresponsibility and the proper workings of democracy. Three loud cheers for the councillors in Wandsworth who constitute the Licensing SubCommittee. People often say that councillors only do as they are told by their political masters. Well, the case of the “Licence Folly in Battersea Park” proves such Jeremiahs wrong. Earlier this year Wandsworth Borough Council made a grotesque application to license the whole of Battersea Park for the sale of alcohol, dancing , entertainment, etc. for 365 days a year and 12 hours a day. This would have licensed the children’s playground for the sale of alcohol from noon to midnight! The Battersea Society joined forces with six of the mansion blocks along Prince of Wales Drive and other residents to make a forceful objection to this application. Luckily the mansion blocks were able to invest in the services of a first rate barrister and the application was soundly rejected by
the Council’s own Licensing SubCommittee. The text of the full decision, together with supporting papers, is on the web site of the Battersea Society, together with supporting papers at www.batterseasociety.org.uk in the Latest News section. The key text is the statement that:“The Sub-Committee took into account that granting the Licence would in their view unacceptably exacerbate the current level of noise disturbance that local residents experience and would undermine the licensing objective relating to the prevention of public nuisance. It was not, in the view of the SubCommittee, possible to impose conditions, which would overcome these concerns.” Not only was this a significant victory for common sense but it was also a useful exercise in getting a group of organised local residents 10
together to combine in common purpose. So, well done the mansion blocks and their residents for seeing through the foolish bid by Wandsworth officials and for funding the objections. Well done to the members of the Licensing Sub-Committee for making an independent decision. Together we have helped to protect Battersea Park from a truly foolish licensing application. Tony Tuck
Nine Elms: Property hotspot or area of opportunity? Yet again we are waiting for yet another developer to reveal plans for the Power Station site. But that is only part of a much larger area of Battersea which could see fundamental changes over the next few years. This includes New Covent Garden Market, which has commissioned Norman Foster to design a smaller, more efficient market, and will be looking for a developer to partner it in finding profitable uses for the rest of its site, including the Flower Market. Also being eyed by hungry developers are the low-rise commercial buildings in Nine Elms Lane, such as the Stationery Office and the Royal Mail sorting office. In 2004 the Mayor of London identified ‘Vauxhall/Nine Elms/ Battersea’ (an area of 78 hectares) as one of a number of ‘Opportunity Areas’ across Greater London and gave indicative figures for extra houses and jobs to be provided there up to 2016. He also brought it within the Central Activities Zone (the designated area for characteristic Central London uses). Earlier this year an amendment to the London Plan extended the planning horizon to
2026. It also expanded the Opportunity Area to 195 hectares by bringing in the Patmore, Savona and Carey Gardens estates and a no man’s land of industrial uses between and around the railway lines.
Little progress There has been little progress so far towards producing the promised Framework for developing the Opportunity Area. Indeed it was not clear whose responsibility that was. According to the Greater London Authority, however, Wandsworth and Lambeth councils are now expected to produce a draft Framework by about the end of this year. The Battersea Society has been concerned that, by the time an official Framework is produced, it will be too late to provide much effective guidance or co-ordination. The Planning Sub-Committee has therefore been working on preparing our own planning brief for Nine Elms. We want to see the Nine Elms area offering an exciting and attractive public realm and being very efficient in using energy and water. We want to see redevelopment bring maximum benefit to the local community, by
Sign up for Open House Every autumn, buildings across London are open free of charge to the public for the Open House London Weekend. They range from the splendour of the Durbar Court in the Foreign Office to a small minimalist flat in Earls Court. Many are not usually open to visitors and some offer the irresistible enjoyment of snooping around someone else’s house or office. At some sites it is possible to meet the architects or inhabitants. This year over 600 buildings will be open all over London., including churches, laboratories and theatres as well as domestic and commercial buildings. Open House is looking for volunteers to take part in the event in and around Battersea, or further afield. Volunteers will give a morning or afternoon of their time acting as guides or stewards. They will be briefed but will be expected to do some research on ‘their’ builidng. As a perk, they will be given a badge enabling them to go to the front of the queue at many buildings and so see
more open houses. If you are interested in offering your services, phone Jeni Hoskin on 020 7383 2131. Open House weekend will be on 20-21 September. The buildings booklet will be available from midAugust on www.openhouse.org.uk or at local libraries.
retaining existing major employers as well as bringing in new ones. We sketched out exciting possibilities for the Power Station, which we have already submitted to Treasury Holdings. We want the local community to benefit from transport improvements, especially improved bus services and upgrading of Battersea Park station (now that Parkview’s scheme has been dropped), but also possibly river buses and a tram. We don’t want to see the whole area covered in high-rise speculative housing, displacing all existing riverside uses. And we strongly oppose the idea that the Power Station might become a major cardependent shopping centre, threatening the future of Battersea’s town centre at Clapham Junction. Our planning brief will be finalised shortly and sent to the planning authorities, other public bodies and key landowners. It will also be placed on the Society’s website. We shall invite reactions to it, and we shall be seeking a meeting to discuss it with Wandsworth Council’s head of planning. David Lewis
Weekend of wonders Don’t take your holidays on the weekend of 6-7 June: there’s a lot going on. For a start there’s the Open Garden Squares Weekend. Thrive’s gardens in Battersea Park are included (see page 14). Other nearby gardens open to the public that weekend include Nightingale Square in Balham, the Beatrix Potter allotments in Earlsfield, St Paul’s Community Gardens, Clapham and the Share Community Horticulture Project at Springfield Hospital. See www.opensquares.org As an alternative – or you could try to fit in both - the Wandle Valley Festival will offer a chance to experience the river’s joys and explore its history and wildlife. There will be guided walks, crafts workshops and a riverbank clear-up as well as fascinating wildlife events for both children and adults. www.wandlevalleyfestival.org.uk 0870 7140750. Then the following weekend, on Saturday 14 June, we can celebrate the 150th birthday of Battersea Park. There will be a history exhibition, yoga and tai chi classes, boules lessons and even opera in the sub-tropical garden.
Bowers of blossom Jenny Sheridan sneaks a preview of two local gardens opening shortly to the public
Anne Birnhak’s garden
Crammed into a small garden in Balham – room to swing a cat, but only a little one – you will, on 15 June and 20 July, be able to see over 2000 plants, including 400 clematis and 80 camellias. It’s an extraordinary sight: a jungle of blossom and colour. Anne Birnhak, a journalist, says her garden is “not just a passion, it’s a totally consuming activity, what with going to plant fairs and garden centres and studying catalogues and taking photographs.” Anne particularly loves clematis – “They are all so different, and they don’t take up much ground space, which I haven’t got”. They flower for her virtually all year round, apart from January and February. One of her favourites is Frederic Chopin, with wavy-edged pale blue flowers. She also loves climbing roses, such as the lushly-scented pink Madame Isaac Pereire which weaves between
Georgina Ivor’s back garden
lilac clematis and hydrangeas on her external wall. Anne’s secret for her tiny garden is to grow most plants in pots. “I wanted my garden to be full of scents and excitement, but the original designer wasn’t really a plant person, and the plants were dull. A friend gave me a rose and I had nowhere to put it, then it occurred to me I could use pots, and the rest is history. When I ran out of space for pots, I started building shelves, so now there are tiers of them. It’s designed to be seen from indoors, especially from the kitchen sink.”
supplied by choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom), honeysuckle and lavender, and colour by blue agapanthus and giant alliums as well as blue and black grasses. “In 2006 it came second in the Wandsworth in Bloom competition – that was a great thrill,” says Georgina. The back garden is about 45 ft by 35ft, bigger than Anne Birnhak’s but hardly a landscaped park. There is a small curving lawn surrounded by flower-filled beds beyond the decking and pear tree, which in summer is under-planted with white busy lizzies and a froth of blue lobelia. The back wall is painted a soft but bright blue and supports a yellow-and-red abutilon as well as offering a flattering backdrop to shrubs and perennials. On the sage-green left wall a particularly handsome Virginia creeper mingles happily with the pink-tipped leaves of actinidia.
Squirrel peril As well as the profusion of plants, Anne’s garden contains a small but potent waterfall. It looks and sounds impressive but she points out that water features are not easy, as if there are problems it is difficult to get at the built-in mechanism. Another difficulty is watering; she had an irrigation system, but the squirrels chewed through the leads. She insists that although the garden is an engrossing passion, it is not endless work. She waters everything every other day and feeds plants “when I remember.” However, she does not go away on holiday except in the winter, both because the plants need to be watered and dead-headed and because she can’t bear to miss anything. A short walk away from Anne Birnhak’s house, another Balham garden will also be open for the National Garden Scheme on 15 June. Georgina Ivor’s front garden gets sun all day and has a Mediterranean feel, while her back garden is more English, centred on an old pear tree. In the front, the white flowers and silvery leaves of convolvulus cneorum spill onto the paving. Scent is 12
Rose Mme Isaac Periere
Georgina, like Anne, manages to achieve the difficult objective of allyear-round interest. In the spring there is a rhododendron, columbines and forget-me-nots as well as an unusual pale pink vinca. Then the roses take off; bravely, she has Rambling Rector, often considered too vigorous for a small London garden. There are several fennel plants – “so decorative, and so delicious” – and day lilies in front of the hibiscus. Come autumn she has dahlias, pink and white cosmos and several salvias including the scarlet pineapple sage. On the wooden balcony outside her kitchen Georgina has pots full of over 20 herbs and edible flowers, such as nasturtiums. She has just retired from her very involving business managing
fantastically therapeutic. If you’ve got a million things whizzing round your head, If you have just a small balcony, geraniums are it’s a wonderful way to good if it’s sunny, or fuchsias if it’s shady. switch off.” Go to the garden centre every month, see what’s Georgina enjoys flowering and buy it. That way you’ll have opening her garden for the something in flower all year. National Garden Scheme. “People are really lovely. Whenever you cut a bit off a plant, stick it in the In the evening opening, earth and see what happens. A lot of them will with Pimms and root. prosecco, everyone talks Anne Birnhak to each other.” Gardening tips
On a patio or balcony, do grow herbs in pots; it’s very satisfying to grow something you can eat. Even in the smallest space you can grow plants up walls, like morning glory. Garden to please yourself, not for effect. It’s potty to follow fashion!
Georgina Ivor’s garden is at 28 Old Devonshire Road, SW12. It is open on Sunday 15 June from 2-5.30pm and on Wednesday 18 June from 6-8.30pm.
Anne Birnhak’s garden is at 2 Western Lane, SW12 (round the corner from the Nightingale pub). It is open on Sunday 15 June and Sunday 20 July from 3-4.30pm.
Georgina Ivor classical musicians and is also chair of the Balham Town Centre Partnership. “I find gardening
A corner of Georgina Ivor’s garden
The National Garden Scheme raises millions of pounds for charities, including Macmillan and Marie Curie cancer charities, Crossroads and Help the Hospices.
Northcote fights the clones As one Clonetown merges seamlessly into the next, South Battersea battles on against the chain stores. Jenny Sheridan reports. Following the consultants’ report on Northcote Road (Spring newsletter), the Council produced its own report, based on the Urbed consultation. The Northcote Road Action Group (NRAG) responded to this. The group expressed its disappointment that the report paid little attention to the planning process, unlike a similar exercise by Kensington and Chelsea’s retail commission. NRAG was also disappointed that the opportunity was not taken to include Webbs Road, which runs parallel to Northcote Road. At present, some landlords are doubling or even trebling rents, forcing small shops to move or close. It is of course possible that the credit crunch will force the rents down. The Council’s view seems to be that the free market should rule supreme. However, their report does come out strongly for the street market as a core element of Northcote Road’s success. Although a shadow of its former self, NRAG agrees that the street market makes shopping on a Saturday a lively and colourful experience. The Council’s report
proposes extending the market to Sundays. One of the issues which NRAG took issue with strongly was the Council’s emphasis on reforming the streetscape. Although Urbed acknowledged that nobody they spoke to saw this as a cause for concern, they made this area a major focus, for no good reason that NRAG could see. The group pointed out a number of inconsistencies, such as a desire to de-clutter while increasing signage. Overall, NRAG saw this report as an opportunity missed. Food tourism is an established phenomenon and Northcote Road could, they believe, become one of London’s food hubs, boosting local employment and entrepreneurship as well as satisfying residents’ wishes. The Council is at present preparing a consultation exercise with a questionnaire for residents and businesses, based on the report’s findings. NRAG looks forward to taking part in the consultation. In late March, Martin Linton, Battersea’s MP, secured a parliamentary debate on planning law 13
affecting high street shops. He used this to address the problems faced by independent shops in streets like Northcote Road, which he described as “one of the nicest shopping streets in London”. Among Mr Linton’s suggestions were for shops to be required to have planning permission to expand. Another was for coffee shops and internet cafes to be placed in a separate planning category, so that food shops could not change so easily into cafes. He also proposed an extension of the small business rate rebate scheme. According to Mr Linton, “the fundamental problem is that the planning system leaves too much to the whim of the market and gives too few powers to the local community to defend its own high street.” In his reply, the minister responsible for planning, Iain Wright, suggested that councils already have most of the powers they need, and that they should use development plans such as the Local Development Framework to regulate their high streets. In NRAG’s view, that could be too late for Northcote Road.
Thriving in the Park Thive in Battersea has transformed my life – finally I have some of my old confidence back. I don’t feel ashamed to start a conversation with people.” What I find really inspiring is to watch the change in people as gardening ‘takes its hold’. One of the fantastic benefits from being in such a glorious public park is that the gardeners attending the project feel a part of the park community and develop a real sense of contributing to it. And the park community can see and appreciate the skills which disabled people have to contribute. That’s what I love about our groundbreaking partnership with Battersea Park to renovate the Old English Garden, it’s a real opportunity to give something back to the community. Many of you will have visited Thrive’s garden project in Battersea Park but I wonder if you knew that there’s far more to Thrive than that. As a small national charity, Thrive uses gardening to change the lives of disabled people. It is our vision that gardening should become as ainstream as art or music therapy. The Battersea garden project has come a long way from its origins. It was created in 1978 as the UK’s first demonstration garden for disabled people but in those days this meant a piece of tarmac with plants growing in piles of tyres. Today we garden from three gardens in Battersea Park and work with around 50 local disabled people. The basis of our work is to use gardening to help disabled people to help themselves. Many disabled people lead isolated, institutionalised lives and have little opportunity to express themselves or pursue their ambitions. Thrive believes strongly in the rights of disabled people to freedom of choice and opportunity and recognises the fact that disabled people want to be in charge of their own lives and have the same choices and opportunities as non-disabled people. At the garden project, Thrive’s horticultural therapists work in partnership with disabled gardeners to find out what they want in life and to establish a series of goals and aims. These form
the basis for a garden activity programme which will involve therapy and training aimed at personal development, managing disability, coping and recovery, building confidence and self esteem, independent living, gardening, volunteering and work skills.
A life transformed The disabled gardeners attending Thrive may have a learning disability, a mental health problem or be recovering from a stroke, a heart attack or a head injury. Brian was a sub-editor on the Times before he suffered extensive brain injury in a car accident in 2003. Brian’s personality changed; he found it difficult to control his fury and felt isolated from other people. His memory and speech were also affected. Brian says, “Coming to 14
New glasshouse We may have moved on a lot since 1978 but it’s time to move the project on again. The motley collection of buildings at our Main Garden is no longer adequate for our needs and is a serious constraint to the number of people able to attend the project. We have embarked on a £750,000 redevelopment project which will result in brand new buildings and a redesign of our Main Garden and a wonderful glasshouse as well as a new training room in the Herb Garden. This will mean that we can launch new volunteering and work traning programmes and increase from 50 to over 220 the numbers of disabled people able to attend the project. It’s really exciting, the glasshouse is going up as I write and the Herb Garden is mid-transformation. There’s a long way to go though. For a start, we still have nearly £500,000 left to raise! Come and see what we’re doing. On 7th and 8th June the Herb Garden is holding a garden fete as part of the London Open Garden Squares weekend. Our gorgeous new glasshouse will be open and we’ll have fantastic plants for sale donated from the Chelsea Flower Show. www.thrive.org.uk Susan Stuart Garden manager, Thrive Battersea Park.
Gardening in a small space Eddie Babbage of Martin Summers Gardens outlines the joys and pitfalls of container gardening In May and June we cannot help but notice the profusion of growth and colour in the garden. There is still time to get gardening and reap wonderful rewards before we depart for our summer holidays. But don’t just think forward to the months ahead; gardens must look pleasant all year round. The garden should complement the architecture of the house, so remember to take into account any special features of your house when considering container gardening. The finishing touches to any garden are made by the strategic positioning of containers and ornaments: a piece of garden furniture, a water feature, a column or an urn. They can be placed anywhere on the balcony, roof garden, patio, flowerbed, or can be used as a strategic focal point. Containers and pots also enable you to experiment. Don’t stop at annuals; combine perennials and annuals, plants that are all silver, plants that are all foliage and offer no flowers, the same plant in different colours, or plants with wonderful fragrance. Although pots in all their shapes and colours are the most common items on the patio, you can use any kind of container, as long as it drains well and won’t fall apart when it’s wet. You can even pot up old golf bags, suitcases, handbags, boots, and baby prams; even the seat of a chair. You can move pots around to add colour or interest to areas that need it, or foliage to a part of the garden that looks bare. The choice of plants is of course the most important decision. Take time to research all the options and then enjoy the visits you make to the garden centre. Vary the form of the plants you choose; use tall linear species to add height; mounded
species to add mass; and low growing, cascading species to fill in, add depth, and soften the edges of the container. Add coarse, medium, and fine textured plants together. Three to five species will achieve an assortment of forms and textures. Use variation and gradation of form and texture. It’s a good idea to repeat colour at regular intervals around the outside of a round container or along the length of a long rectangular container. And repeat colour in several containers to ‘tie’ them together. The graceful lines of plant leaves add flow and rhythm. Rule of thumb is that the height of the tallest plant should Martin Summers’ roof garden in Chelsea not exceed one or two times the height of the container dry and will eventually wilt and die. If excluding pedestals and ‘air-fairy’ you mix water retention crystals into sprigs. It is best to use odd numbers: the soil medium when you plant this one, three, five or seven plants of each will help to overcome the perennial cultivar. problem of regular watering. Good potting soil should be used Even the smallest patch can host a as the growing medium with a spectacular display if your generous sprinkling of slow release horticultural enthusiasm is inspired. fertilizer. This will supplement the You can pack a lot of plants into a regular weekly plant food that annuals small space and it will provide a require during their growing period. As wonderful environment. Creating your a rule, larger containers dry out less own mini garden will always be quickly than small ones. Watering satisfying and will give you enduring containers can be tedious but you can pleasure. buy simple irrigation systems for a very reasonable price. Returning from Martin Summers Gardens is in holiday can be very depressing if there Cranleigh Mews, under the railway has been a drought. Plants really arches. suffer from stress if the containers are
Beyond our shores Just beyond our boundaries – not far if you are a car-owner or carclubber – lies Dulwich Park. Designed in part by Lt-Col JJ Selby, London’s first superintendent of parks and historian of Wandsworth and Tooting Commons, it is a small Victorian park of great charm. Unlike Battersea, it was previously farmland, and among its most attractive features are huge
oaks which previously formed parts of field boundaries. In early May these great trees with their almost black trunks were clothed lightly in brilliantly vivid green. There is also an American garden, showcasing rhododendrons, and a boating lake, partly preserved for wildlife with reedbeds, as on Wandsworth Common. 15
Not least, the Pavilion Café serves all-day breakfasts and bakes its own delicious-looking home-made cakes.
The Battersea Society Chair: Tony Tuck firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7622 0485 Secretary: Harvey Heath Membership secretary: Maureen Larkin email@example.com 020 7228 4873
For all Battersea Society Events please go to the website www.batterseasociety.org.uk
Committees Community Chair: Harvey Heath firstname.lastname@example.org 020 7585 3788 Planning Chair: David Lewis email@example.com 020 7622 8017 Open Spaces firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing Chair: Sara Milne email@example.com Events Chair: Wendy Deakins firstname.lastname@example.org Displays and exhibitions Chair: Brian Newman email@example.com
Apology We believe some members may have been asked to pay extra postage on Chelsea Festival Programme/Events Programme which was circulated recently. If so, we sincerely apologise. 16