As HS2 still insist that their construction vehicles enter and exit the Zoo car park from the Outer Circle, near Gloucester Gate, your Committee intends to petition Parliament on grounds of pedestrian safety.
Please let us know if you object (see letter page 2 re petitioning).
If you wish to follow up the questions posed by Judy Hillman on page 1, please contact your editor, preferably by email, with your views. (Anne-Marie Newsletter contact link) TfL & Camden have just published ‘Important Public Consultation on Central London Cycle Grid’ ref TS/CLCG/PS-RC/1201A
NB Deadline 30 September (Expired Sorry!).
Traffic – dreamland or nightmare!
Priority for Cycling
Traffic in and around Regents Park is in for major changes in the near future, mainly in response to the Mayor of London’s efforts to introduce a network of cycle ways. For most of the details, read Conall Macfarlane, the Friends’ chairman’s, article on page 2, and then watch and wait for the public consultation currently proposed for this autumn.(see Stop press above) It is really important that members of the Friends should give their views.
Here are some questions to consider. Do you really think it matters if the main gates to the park in the south and at Macclesfield Bridge in the north are closed to cars and other motor transport, but not to cyclists (or pedestrians), in the rush hours? Will such a change just stop the obvious rat runs of motor vehicles around the Outer Circle? Could the proposed temporary sealing of these park gates morning and early evening make life difficult or intolerable on surrounding roads and for residents and businesses within the park?
If cyclists are given this priority at the prescribed hours, will their numbers (and perhaps pride at their welcome importance in London’s journeys) make the roads in the park even less friendly and even more dangerous for people on foot who need to cross the Inner or Outer Circles or Chester Road to walk through or visit the park?
In addition, the Royal Parks would like to introduce a 20mph speed limit in Regent’s Park, as is the case in Richmond, Bushy and Greenwich, and already operates in much of Camden. Although other London boroughs are adopting this policy, it seems at present Westminster is not convinced of the need within its boundaries. For the park to bring in a 20mph speed limit would require minor legislation – though this would be a matter of months rather than years to process through Parliament.
Do you think the Royal Parks should press for such a change? But if it does, how would the fastest cyclists, heads down and seemingly involved in their own version of the Tour de France, be brought to heel, particularly in the freedom of the rush hours when cars could only enter the road system by Gloucester and Hanover Gates. Again how would people on foot, possibly with prams, fare? They have priority according to the Royal Parks. But cyclists can all too easily frighten the casual road crosser as they silently whoosh up without forewarning in some modern version of grandmother’s footsteps.*
Since consultations tend only to take place when ideas are relatively fixed and cyclists groups have been well represented during the preliminary discussions, it really does matter that local people give their views, for or against and with reasons, on the likely effects on their lives and neighbourhoods.
*In grandmother’s footsteps, a children’s game, one participant, stands at a distance and turns his or her back on the others. They then try to creep up on the ‘grandmother’ while her back is turned. But if she catches one of them moving when she unexpectedly turns round, then that person is deemed out. The rest carry on until either one reaches the ‘grandmother’ or the ‘grandmother’ has spotted all the players as they moved forward.
Judy Hillman, Patron, FRP&PH
A note from your editor
Is it fair that the park should be used as a training ground for cyclists? See one of many comments made by cyclists who treat it as such.
With the upcoming introduction of the cycling super-highway (CS11) through Regent’s Park, various groups and organizations have taken the opportunity to think about how Regent’s Park is used.
Various CS11 proposals are being looked at in Regent’s Park. Closing some or all of the gates to motor traffic during peak times is being considered, which is likely make cycling in the park a much safer proposition.
Additionally however, proposals for multiple speed humps and or a 20mph limit for motorcyclists and cycles could negatively impact the ability to exercise on a bike around the outer circle.
It would impact thousands of road cyclists who use a unique area of London to cycle and train safely.
The closure of Avenue Road to motorists (except residents) during August will have given both traffic planners and residents north of Regent’s Park some indication of the consequences of it being permanently shut to all motorised traffic save residents and possibly buses. Many will have experienced the tail-backs in the Finchley Road when travelling southwards where it narrows to two-way traffic. It should not be forgotten that this was at a time in the year when traffic congestion is at its lowest and before the current gyratory system at Swiss Cottage is changed to the proposed twoway system.
The reason for noting the effects of closing Avenue Road is that it will form a critical section of Transport for London’s proposed Cycling Superhighway 11 (CS11), which if approved, will become a dedicated cycle path, with only residents and possibly buses permitted access. CS11 is designed to give commuting cyclists a route southwards from Brent Cross, Hendon Way, Finchley Road to Swiss Cottage and then down Avenue Road, entering Regent’s Park at Macclesfield Bridge, which will be closed to all motorised vehicles save cyclists, during the ‘rush hours’ (probably only open to motorists between 11am & 3pm). On the southern side of Regent’s Park it is proposed that there will be similar timed closures at York Gate and Park Square East and West. The crossings of the Marylebone Road at the latter two intersections has yet to be resolved, but CS11 will continue into Park Crescent and down Portman Place, terminating outside Broadcasting House in Langham Place. The dispersal of the commuting cyclists at this point appears to be somewhat unresolved, but there is a secondary scheme to establish a ‘Cycling Grid’ in St Marylebone to assist with this problem. This may form part of another traffic scheme to make Baker Street two-way and incorporate a dedicated cyclists’ entrance to Regent’s Park at Clarence Gate for those travelling north.
There have been a series of ‘workshops’ to discuss these proposals, but the public consultation is due to take place in October and I hope that all Friends will participate.
One of the major problems that has become apparent, is that although all attending the initial ‘workshop’ were agreed that there should be a 20mph speed limit throughout Regent’s Park, there were different ideas as to how this was to be enforced, particularly in the light of the reduced policing available. The original concept in order to make pedestrian access safer, was to install pavement-level raised platforms with speed-reducing strips of stonework, which would have the benefit of slowing cars and motorcyclists who are prone to using the Park for speeding. However this solution has not met with the approval of the ‘speed cyclists’ who use the Outer Circle as a velodrome, particularly in the early morning and in the evening, but also at the weekends, when of course the public most require to gain access. Apparently the platforms and strips are too much for their lightweight bicycles to negotiate.
The difficulty is to find a method of insuring safe access to pedestrians without spoiling the visual amenities of the Park. The Royal Parks declared policy on cycling is that ‘pedestrians have priority’. We hope that they can implement it. Likewise one of Westminster Council’s declared objectives for the Outer Circle is to ‘improve pedestrian environment’ and ‘reduce dominance of traffic: return the Outer Circle to the park’. We hope they can deliver.
HS2 Threat to Hedgehogs - Danger of Extinction?
In order to boost its status as a conservation charity, in June this year the ZSL was re-branded leading to a spate of appeals in the press highlighting the plight of the pangolin, with the message, ‘Animals and their habitats face increasing threats across the world.’ However, as Michæla Strachan (BBC Countryfile) has pointed out, ‘While the world is preoccupied with protecting tigers, rhinos, elephants and monkeys [not forgetting the pangolin], animals closer to home still require urgent attention. They are in critical danger, particularly in London.’ (The Times 9 May 2015) In 2013, HS2 Ltd published an Environment Statement for the Euston Area. This showed that, from 2017, a substantial part of the Gloucester Slips (ZSL) car park would be used as a holding area for their HGVs, resulting in unavoidable night time usage, given the nature of this project.
In 2014 the Royal Parks Foundation, in partnership with the Royal Parks and the ZSL, commissioned a report entitled, ‘A study of hedgehogs in The Regent’s Park’. Its authors were Prof John Gurnell and Dr Nigel Reeve. This study, published earlier this year, showed that, ‘while in the early 1970s hedgehogs were reported to be present in all of central London’s Royal Parks, they have since disappeared from all central London sites except for The Regent’s Park’. This study also revealed that ‘the area around the ZSL car park was one of ‘three hot spots’ of greatest hedgehog activity’, while ‘the presence of fleas and ticks also suggested that this was a wild relict population’. This study concluded that, in Regent’s Park as a whole, allowing for some undetected individuals, it was estimated that, in September 2014, the total population was small, ‘in the region of fifty individuals,’ and that this was,‘within the lower range of a minimum viable population calculated for a site of this size.’ In a leading article entitled ‘Handle with Care’, The Times of 9 May 2015, stated that, ‘Hedgehogs are officially endangered. We have lost a third of their number since the turn of the century (2000) and there are now only a million remaining. Their decline, at a rate of 5 percent a year, means that in ten years time hedgehogs could be extinct.’
In conjunction with AP3, on 9 September 2015, HS2 Ltd revealed that they now intend to commandeer the entirety of the car park. Given the evidence it is abundantly clear that this is totally unacceptable as it would inevitably lead to this highly vulnerable species being totally wiped out.
Although the hands of both the Royal Parks Foundation and the Royal Parks are tied, vis-a-vis petitioning, this constraint does not apply to the ZSL. The petitioning period runs from 25 September until 23 October 2015 and I trust the ZSL will grasp this opportunity to register their objection.
Just as pangolins in far off lands deserve the ZSL’s protection, so too do the equally endangered, prickly mammals, currently happily ensconced practically on the Society’s very doorstep. As the saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’.
Pottery in the Park
A splendid collection of plates with views in the Regent’s Park has been acquired by Stephen Crisp. Transfer printed in very strong blue in a series called Villas in Regent’s Park they were produced by Enoch Wood in Staffordshire who used the illustrations by Thomas H. Shepherd from the book called Metropolitan Improvements of London in the nineteenth century which was published in 1827.
Hertford House (where Winfield House is today)
These plates and dishes, along with others depicting sites in London and elsewhere in England were intended for the American export market, but are gradually finding their way back home.
Stephen also recently acquired this magnificent vase dated around 1835 featuring a view of the Colosseum. This very rare piece was produced in Derby. Stephen wonders if readers know of any other urns such as this from Derby which have views of Regent’s Park.
Panoramas of Regent’s Park
If you do not happen to have six metres of spare wall space at home, then the new publication by the London Topographical Society of Two Early Panoramas of Regent’s Park, may be the answer!
Two Early Panoramas of Regents Park Book
This publication brings together for the first time two fascinating 19th century pictorial records of the park in a format that is easy to study, enjoy and to explore the slightly different perspectives on the park they present.
In the early part of the 19th century these ‘table top’ panoramas were an innovative entertainment that could be enjoyed at home and similar ones were produced depicting the River Thames, Brighton and even Regent Street.
The version by John Mortimer, produced in 1829-30, is 12cm high and 200cm long and is in black and white. It is less extensive than the one by Richard Morris as it excludes the northern part which has no buildings as well as Park Square and Crescent and the eastern part of York Terrace.
Mortimer sets the scene inside the Outer Circle where the trees, lake and landscaping form a picturesque framework for the architecture of the buildings. His style is more romantic and less accurate than that of Morris but certainly captures Nash’s visual intention of ‘rus in urbe’ or the countryside in the city.
In contrast, the Morris coloured version is engraved in remarkable detail based on drawings ‘taken on the spot’ and records every single paling, lamp post. It is 13.6cm high and 593 cm long and was originally published in a portfolio or rolled on a spindle in a Tunbridge ware case and cost the equivalent of a week’s wages for a successful artisan (£1.10), so a luxury object.
Morris sets the scene from the edge of the Outer Circle and includes a cavalcade of people, carriages, entertainment and street vendors showing Regency life in all forms;performing dogs, Punch and Judy, stilt walkers, a Jack-in-the Green, a wagon for the Steam laundry company, a cricket match, boys with a large boat on wheels and even King William IV and Queen Adelaide are shown in a carriage, with mounted outriders, enjoying this new fashionable part of London.
Both versions show ‘lost buildings such as the Master’s Lodge at St Katharine’s, the Colosseum, Gloucester Gate, Someries House and even Hertford Villa (the site of Winfield House) where a gardener is shown pushing a large wheel barrow across a verdant lawn, much as I do today!
This is a fascinating publication with its pictorial narrative and supporting historical text. We are fortunate that these engravings have been preserved for almost 200 years. The publication is timely and I hope will encourage us to look out for the park’s best interests in the future, for the architectural ‘theatre’ that forms the backdrop and the landscape that makes its setting so special.
Available post free from The London Topographical Society www.topsoc.org
Brides, bright & beautiful
The reviews were first class, the performance – of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the open air theatre – was even better. Having left it till the last week, the computer screen was disheartening. Sold out, it said firmly. A return ticket was the only possibility and I would be competing with people who had been forced to leave on the Monday night because of torrential rain and a promise of a seat sooner or later.
Sam O'Rourke as Gideon Jacob Fisher as Jeb and Photo by Helen Maybanks
Thursday I took the chance and showed up at the box office just after 6pm to find a man with his family one short of their expected number offering just one ticket. So we settled a price for a first-class seat and, after soup and bread, was mesmerised and entertained by an amazing production of song and dance. From the start, the audience was in raptures at the lovely voices, well known tunes (eg Bless your beautiful hide), and a fun story of six wild farming brothers shedding their dishevelled locks and careless dressing to go to town to copy their older brother and meet girls. This they not only did but in western fashion kidnapped them, only to find their brother’s new wife so appalled they were barred from contact and even the house until spring. But it was perhaps their virile dance routines which transformed the stage and audience, many of whom had travelled from outer London and beyond. Local residents are lucky indeed. Now for The Lord of the Flies, an excellent production two years ago and about to go on tour, as did How to Kill a Mockingbird so successfully after last summer.
Judy Hillman Patron, FRP&PH
For Your Diary
|Frieze London||14 -17 October||Marylebone Green|
|Frieze Masters||14 -18 October||Gloucester Green|
|A garden of medicinal plants, an evening with Dr Henry Oakley Royal College of Physicians - Free but need to book Social.email@example.com||14 October 6.30 pm||Royal College of Physicians|
Edward Gardner conducts the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra|
Elgar, Symphony no 2 in E flat, op 63. £5.(concessions £4)
|16 October 1.05 pm||Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music|
Robin Ticciati conducts the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra|
Wagner, Overture to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Brahms, Symphony no 1 in C minor, op 68
|23 October 1.05 pm||Royal Academy of Music|
Le Nozze di Figaro, with Janet Suzman in her first role as opera director|
Tickets £20, £22.50, £25 concessions £15, £17.50, £20 from Hackney Empire Box Office: www.hackneyempire.co.uk
|30, 31 October, 1, 2 November||Royal Academy Opera at Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ|
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