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Autumn 2010

posted 23 Jul 2011, 10:07 by Stephen Taylor   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 15:52 ]
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.

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 admin@heathandhampstead.org.uk.
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.

Plaque walks
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.