by Frank Harding
As I write this report in mid April, the weather is beautiful as is Hampstead – blossom on the trees, spring flowers in the gardens, deep blue skies above. We are indeed fortunate to live in this part of the world.
Although this report is somewhat shorter than usual the committee has had much discussion about plans and preparation for the future.
Heavy goods (and other) vehicles
We have become increasingly concerned at the number and size of heavy vehicles passing through Hampstead which are doing so only to avoid the volume of traffic on other routes. These vehicles shake and no doubt damage the old foundations of the streets and the buildings. We believe that a weight limit should be put on the roads approaching the village and the Whitestone Pond in order to reduce the numbers coming through Hampstead, confining them to buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and those requiring access to houses, flats, shops and offices in the area.
We have spoken to Councillors and hope that some progress can be made. Meanwhile, following a discussion with Brian Coleman, GLA member for Barnet and Camden, he met the Chief Executive of National Express who agreed to instruct the company’s coach drivers not to pass through Hampstead. Should anyone see a National Express coach in the village, please contact National Express to report that sighting.
Camden has in its archives a large number of paintings, watercolours, prints and old photographs of Hampstead and the Heath. We are proposing that some of these works be put on show at Burgh House and it is possible, if the exhibition proves popular, as we think it will, that we shall organise more than one show; the first is scheduled for November 2011.
by Frank Harding
When I drafted the report of the Town Committee for the last issue of the Newsletter in August, I said that I was “particularly aware of the hot summer days we have been enjoying”. Four months and one issue later I am reminded of the old adage that we have in this country a great climate – it is the weather that is the problem – as I sit warm and comfortable indoors with the snow on the Heath and in the village, the airports closed and traffic moving slowly over the icy roads.
The committee has been closely monitoring Camden’s reactions to the early winter freeze and has thus far been reasonably impressed with the efforts made to keep the main roads and bus routes clear and many of the side roads gritted from time to time. It would certainly appear that there is an improvement on the position last winter.
This has been a relatively quiet time for the committee although much preparatory and planning work has gone on and continues behind the scenes. I am sure that some of our plans will see the light of day during 2011.
Victorian water mains and traffic in Hampstead
The road closures and diversions of the spring and summer to enable the Victorian water mains to be replaced were originally scheduled to last until November; in the event the work was finished some six weeks ahead of schedule – much to the relief of local residents and traders. Our thanks go to the officers of Camden and the works teams for having achieved this target.
Walks – a new initiative…
Whilst we still intend to develop a series of walks in and around Hampstead passing by those buildings on which Hampstead, English Heritage and other plaques have been placed, they will take place later in the year.
…beginning with two River Walks
In the meantime we are kicking off this series of walks with a two-part walk along the route taken by the River Fleet from its source in Hampstead to the point where it joins the River Thames in the City.
These walks will be lead by Robin Michaelson, a qualified and experienced City of London guide, and will take place on May 14 and 22. The first will start at 10.30am at the War Memorial at Whitestone Pond and finish at St Dominics’s Priory Church, Southampton Street, NW5 (corner of Fleet Road) at approximately 12.30pm.
The second will start at the Black Friar public house, 174 Queen Victoria Street, near Blackfriars Station, at 11am and finish at approximately 1pm at St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Road. The reversal of what might have been the expected route is due to the timing of the tides on the Thames. The price will be £5 per participant for each walk. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7435 3728 to reserve places on the walk – numbers will be limited to 25 for each walk.
Whitestone Pond in its full glory
I previously reported that the work on and around the Pond was substantially complete. It can now be seen in its full glory – and the restoration is indeed glorious. There was a formal relaunch early in October by the Mayor of Camden with thanks and compliments being showered on the City of London and Camden teams, English Heritage and Transport for London for their support and the Heath and Hampstead Society in general and Juliette Sonabend in particular for their inspiration and involvement throughout the process. We have since received numerous letters and emails expresing pleasure and thanks for the great improvement to the area. The pictures on this page give some idea of the event.
In conclusion, may I on behalf of all members of the Town Committee wish all our members and readers a very Happy New Year.
by Frank Harding
As I draft this report early in August, I am particularly aware of the hot summer days we have been enjoying – but the lawns are brown, watering a must and fortunately we have had no hosepipe ban – yet. I trust that by the time you read this, the grass will be green again and that we will not have suffered from any watering restrictions – and nevertheless had some good sunny spells.
The lack of rain has affected the Town Committee’s activities as well no doubt as those of the Society’s other involvements. For me the most noteworthy was the impact on the newly laid turf on the mound beside the rejuvenated Whitestone Pond.
The work to restore the pond and improve its surroundings was substantially completed during the latter part of July. Whilst there remained some “snagging” issues to put right, they were not significant in the scheme of things. The fence around the pond was removed on 21 July, the reeds having been planted and the mound turfed. It was great to see the effect of the work, the benefit of the improved surroundings, the new comfortable benches and thus the impact of the efforts of Juliette Sonabend (whose concept was thus delivered) and the City of London and Camden teams, with the support of English Heritage and Transport for London, being realised for the benefit of all who drive, ride or walk through the area.
My reference above to the mound turf needing replacement was that, within days of it being laid it needed to be replaced because, in the heat of the sun, it had dried out and curled at the edges like an old sandwich! The project will be formally completed and handed over early in October at a ceremony for local dignitaries and representatives of those who were involved in the scheme.
Fitzjohns Avenue area and the School Run
There is little to add to the report in the Spring issue on traffic conditions in and around Fitzjohns Avenue. The work promised by Camden in respect of residents’ parking bays and the build-outs and of bays reserved for the use of school buses has been carried out.
The pilot scheme for the school buses was operated for the summer term and will be expanded in September. We all hope that it will be successful and a sustainable service, benefiting parents, their children and those who live in or use Fitzjohns Avenue and neighbouring roads.
Victorian water mains and traffic problems
The spring and early summer saw road closures and diversions across large swathes of Hampstead. At the end of July the road works to replace the Victorian water mains moved to the centre of the village and up towards the Whitestone Pond. One- way traffic, closures and diversions were the order of the day and alternative routing of buses through Hampstead had to be introduced. This situation will continue at least through to November. Whilst it is acknowledged that the work has to be done, and that Camden and Transport for London are doing what they can to ease the burden of traffic snarl-ups, all those going to the village or passing through will be affected.
The Committee has circulated members by email with details of the impact of these closures, diversions and reroutings as soon as it has become aware of them. For those members where we do not have email addresses this has not been practical and, even if only for this reason, I would urge those members who have access to email but have not let the Society know their addresses to inform us of them – by email to email@example.com.
The sixteen new signposts in and around Hampstead pointing the way to particular houses and points of interest are now in place – the first was erected at the Whitestone Pond. These have been developed in partnership with Camden and NW3 Hampstead with a view to those locations being more easily accessible to visitors to the area. It is hoped that visitor-friendly tourist maps of the area will follow shortly thereafter.
We are hoping to develop a series of walks in and around Hampstead passing those buildings on which Hampstead, English Heritage or other plaques have been placed. These walks will be led by a guide who will tell the participants about the history of the buildings or the people for whom the plaques have been installed. I shall report further on this in the next issue.
Pilgrim’s Lane – a myth in the making
The July Camden History Society newsletter reported a discussion on the Jeremy Vine Show in May, following the death of Michael Foot, about naming a street in Plymouth, where he was born and had been an MP for many years, after him.
It was asserted by his nephew that Mr. Foot had been so respected and influential that he had been able to have the street in Hampstead, in which he had lived for many years, renamed Pilgrims Lane, after the nickname of his beloved Plymouth Argyle Football team. As the CHS reporter said: ‘needs nipping in the bud immediately!’
Just for the record, Pilgrim’s Lane takes its name from Charles Pilgrim, who owned land around there and lived in Vane House on Rosslyn Hill. The street is first identifiable on the 1814 map and the name is first used in 1862.
Fitzjohns Avenue area and the School Run
On 16 February the Executive (Environment) Sub-Group of Camden Council approved proposals to implement a local safety and school travel plan. These proposals include the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on Fitzjohns Avenue which will be enforced by eight average speed cameras, the creation of bus bays in the area to allow school buses to drop off and collect children and the consequent changes to the affected residents’ parking bays without the net loss of the number of bays available. The Society had long been involved with the discussions leading up to these proposals, supported them and encouraged its members to do likewise.
It is hoped that as a result of the above proposals the pilot scheme introduced in March will develop into a sustainable scheme for the bussing of pupils from north, north-west and west London to and from the schools in the area. This would lead to a significant reduction in the volume of traffic in and around Fitzjohns Avenue at school opening and closing times. I trust that the parents will avail themselves of the scheme and that it will prove sufficiently successful that it can be fully implemented over the long term.
During the summer, you are likely to see the new sign-posts that are to be erected in and around Hampstead pointing the way to particular houses and points of interest. These have been developed in partnership with Camden and NW3 Hampstead with a view to those locations being more easily accessible to visitors to the area. It is hoped that visitor-friendly tourist maps of the area will follow shortly thereafter.Cleaning the pavements
Camden has agreed to undertake a “deep clean” of the pavements around Hampstead Underground station. This work has since been carried out on the east side of the road and its effect is noticeable. I would hope that Camden will also appreciate the difference the process has made and extend the cleaning to the other side of the High Street and more widely so that the whole area can be rid of what is largely discarded chewing gum.
Heath Street and through traffic
We have recently witnessed again the closure of Heath Street due to subsidence. The foundations for the road and surrounding buildings are built on Claygate beds and Bagshot sands; this has lead to instability and is no doubt at least largely to blame for the problems. However the increasing use of Heath Street by large coaches, buses and commercial vehicles must also be in part responsible. The Society has therefore proposed to Camden that coaches and heavy goods vehicles be denied access to the centre of Hampstead and thus to Heath Street except if they have business in the village.
If such a restriction is introduced, the law of unintended consequences must not be allowed to follow. Thus those vehicles banned from access to the village must not be allowed to worsen the existing travel bottle necks of East Heath Road and West Heath Road. This will entail putting restrictions on a number of roads for such heavy vehicles at, for example, Swiss Cottage on Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Chalk Farm on Haverstock Hill, South End Green on East Heath Road, Golders Green on North End Road, Highgate on Hampstead Lane, the West Heath on West Heath Road, Finchley Road at various junctions and no doubt a number of other intermediate places.
Juliette Sonabend continues to monitor developments on the refurbishment of the pond and its immediate surroundings. She meets regularly with the Camden and City of London project teams. At the time of writing (April), the work is on schedule for completion in the early summer. Much of the work to the foundations and base of the pond has been completed, the new lamp standards are in place and some of the planting has been done. Once the project is completed it will, I am sure, create a much enhanced environment for those visiting or just passing through the area.
The Northern Line
I recently attended a public meeting in West Hampstead called by Councillor Chris Philp for a discussion with representatives of those working on and responsible for the current refurbishment works on the Jubilee Line. It was quite apparent that, as has been widely reported in the local press, residents and traders in the area have been hard hit by closures of the line and curtailments in its service. With similar work now starting on the Northern Line, we must try to ensure that the effects of that work do not lead to the same problems in and around the Hampstead area. The early signs are not good but various groups are monitoring what is happening and planned with a view to ensuring the minimum possible disruption to services.
Cleaning the pavements
The Town and Fitzjohn’s wards Area Forum organised by Camden has taken on board a proposal to undertake a ‘deep clean’ of the pavements around Hampstead Underground station. This will lead to the removal of much of the staining of the pavements and to a considerable improvement of the area. It is to be hoped that that improvement will be so apparent that Camden will decide to extend the programme to a wider area.
Financial help for a hydrology report
The proposal by the Society to the Area Forum that a substantial part of the £20,000 available for spending during the current financial year be allocated to an in-depth professional study of the hydrology of the area is still being considered by Camden.
Traffic – a 20 mph zone on Fitzjohns Avenue
At the time of writing this article (mid December) the position on developments relating to the School Run is still unclear. Consultation papers will, by the time you read this Newsletter, have been distributed by Camden to schools, residents, businesses and amenity groups in and around Fitzjohns Avenue.
These consultations ask whether the proposals to establish a 20 mph zone on Fitzjohns Avenue, a scheme to enable the bussing of children to the schools and the resulting changes to the streets to allow the buses to pull in, and other related work, should be approved. The consultation period, which ends in mid January, will provide evidence of the degree of support to be considered by the Camden Executive (Environment) Sub-group meeting on 15 February 2010. The Society strongly supports the proposals and I hope that local respondents will have shown similar support.
Whitestone Pond, the War Memorial and the Tollgate
Work on the area surrounding the Whitestone Pond continues. The new lighting is in place and the old lamp standards have been taken down. Considerable further work has still to be undertaken, particularly to the pond itself, and it is unlikely that it will all be completed before the Summer. Juliette Sonabend continues to keep a watching brief.
Last autumn we and others suggested that significant refurbishment to the War Memorial outside Heath House, opposite the Whitestone Pond, was desirable. I am pleased to say that this suggestion has been supported by Camden Councillors Linda Chung and Chris Knight. The work is to be undertaken early in the New Year.
Camden has recently commissioned independent architects to advise on the restoration of the Tollgate House; the resultant draft proposals are currently being discussed with English Heritage and with Camden Conservation. It is hoped that these proposals will be agreed early in the New Year, whereupon formal plans will be drawn up for planning consent purposes. The Society remains closely involved in all aspects of this project.
Most readers will no doubt have seen and heard of the vision for Hampstead put forward by Farokh Khorooshi and his Hampstead 2020 colleagues. The Society strongly supports this initiative and will work with them and with Camden on consideration of the ideas and the development of plans.
NW3 Hampstead is the group that represents the traders and business people of Hampstead village and South End Green. Its remit includes the continuing improvement of the services provided to shoppers and others doing business in Hampstead and thus the ongoing development of the facilities and attractiveness of the area. As such, its objects in many areas overlap those of the Society and we wish therefore to work closely with it. I have held discussions with Andrew Lavery, the chairman of NW3 Hampstead, and we have agreed to liaise closely on our programmes and those issues where we have common interests.
Although I had hoped that one or perhaps two new Hampstead plaques would be erected over the last few weeks, we have been frustrated in moving the scheme forward. We are still working on those two sites in the hope of getting agreement to do so and further names are being considered. We expect that 2010 will see a number of former local residents being commemorated.
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