Newsletter ‐ Autumn 2017

Chairman’s Notes

Prince Charles

This summer with some glorious weather has unsurprisingly brought lots of activity to the parks.‘The Royal Parks’ was launched as a charity, with Prince Charles as Patron, in a reception in Hyde Park. A selection of those who work to help the parks were able to meet the Prince, including Trustees, Chairs of Friends of a few of the parks (including me for Regent’s Park), the park managers, the people running parks facilities, the dedicated police officers and groups of hedgehog survey volunteers and many others. We had a fine concert for ‘Help the Heroes’ on our bandstand, and we hope to plan lots more next year.

New logo

Clare Bowen and volunteer hedgehog surveyors display the new Royal Parks’ logo. Taste of London ran as planned, with a huge young following, queuing for tasty morsels of top chefs’ creations. In Chelsea flower show week, Friend Mark Evans launched a bid to raise money for a new and spectacular Commonwealth conservatory to be created as a 100th birthday present for the Queen: to be sited in Regent’s Park near the Open Air Theatre. There will obviously be debates about this proposal, and we hope to bring it up at the End of Season Review.

Old conservatory Old conservatory

Images of the original building are shown here.

Our recent postal request for email addresses has so far produced only about 120 out of the 360 that were missing. Thank you to those who have responded (including those few who have told us that they do not have email). We still badly need to get hold of email addresses for everyone else who has not yet supplied them if our new membership system is to work and save a great deal of volunteer manual labour.

We have had no objections to the principle of raising subscriptions to £20 from Janaury 2018; indeed we have been pleasantly surprised and grateful for the expressions of support and donations ‐ especially one of £250 which will bolster our finances in the meantime.

One of the benefits of giving us your email is that we can communicate between the quarterly newsletters. We emailed those whose addresses we had to tell them about planning issues concerning two tall buildings, and also about an exhibition in the Mall galleries (sadly now over) which showed photographs of the Royal Parks and Phoenix Park, Dublin (which, like Regent’s Park also has a Zoo and an American ambassador’s residence).

The Crown Estate are also working on plans for replacement of the ancient Studio (on the Inner Circle) with a new house, including basement. As this abuts the old nursery site, we have suggested the two sites might be developed taking each other into account. As yet we have had no indication of how and when the Royal Parks will consult about uses for the nursery site. Keep thinking of ideas and let me know.
Ianthe McWilliams, Chair

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Gloucester Playground Refurbishment

The new Gloucester Gate ‘Playscape’ designs are shaping up to include beautiful natural features inspiring discovery for visitors of all ages and abilities. A £1 million fundraising campaign is now underway to get the space transformed ‘From Red to Green’ in 2018 and bring new features to the Regent’s Park that will encourage group play and exploration in a rolling landscape for all. For more information and to support this exciting restoration project, please contact Maggie by email
Jessica Dash, Head of Development, Royal Parks Foundation

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Our Second Borehole

The new borehole on Marylebone Green is now commissioned and providing water to the lake via the cascade in the community wildlife gardens (next to the tennis courts). This will improve water quality and circulation in the lake. It supplied the toilets at Taste of London and will do the same for the Frieze Art Fair. We also laid a mains water supply as we set out the infrastructure so that these two major events are much better supplied with potable water too. The other function of this borehole is to supply irrigation water.

This is the first year that we’ve had a water source to aid recovery of the turf after our major events on Marylebone Green. There are a number of hydrants strategically located around the green which enable the use of a travelling sprinkler. This is a simple device which uses the force of the water coming into the hose to pull the sprinkler back onto the reel very slowly so that it will irrigate a large area with the minimum of fuss, and without the huge expense of installing and maintaining a pop up sprinkler system.
Mark Bridger, Assistant Park Manager

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A Hybrid Carpet for Sports Pitches

Sport pitch

Royal Parks applied for and won £353,000 from Sport England to turn one of its football pitches in Regent’s Park into the first type of outdoor surface of its kind in the UK. The ‘grass hybrid’ playing area involves hybrid matting buried under the natural turf, allowing grass to grow through while helping to maintain the condition of the pitch throughout the year. Currently sports pitches are designed for twelve hours’ play a week, and in winter are closed due to wet weather. The new surface, due to open in October, takes a lot more play.

Royal Parks’ project leader Edward Strickland said: More people means more wear and tear, which is why we are putting this new system on trial targeting eleven to fourteen year‐olds. It looks like natural grass but as we are working in historic parkland, we will be undertaking this project as a trial to see how well the new surface works and looks and can be maintained.

Preparing ground

Traditionally, the aim on sports pitches is to discourage worms as their casts can encourage weed seeds to germinate which affects the way balls roll. Although the management of the sports grounds in Regent’s Park does not specifically aim to do this, the pitch soil in fact is the sort of sandy loam unloved by worms.

Management of the sports pitches involves encouraging drainage and relieving compaction primarily through mechanical means and top dressing and the removal of thatch but consultation with the park’s ecologists showed that this form of management produces little increase in the worm population. A more efficient form, which will increase the hours of play on these areas and avoid having to create additional pitches on the parkland, will be to install a hybrid carpet with a low percentage of plastic. In time the loose weave will open up to enable worms to access the surface.
Mark Rowe, Assistant Park Manager

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From the Zoo

It appears that HS2 have confirmed that part of the zoo car park will in fact be used as lorry parking during the construction. Thames Water’s construction site to carry out utility works including the diversion of a water main will also be sited on the eastern part of the car park area.

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From the Allotment Garden

Allotment garden

Regent’s Park Allotment Garden Harvest Festival is taking place on Saturday 16 September, as part of Urban Food Fortnight ‐ a two week celebration of London’s vibrant food scene. Join us for the festivity and learn about what we do, from school work to training and volunteer opportunities.

On the day we’ll have great garden activities for children and their parents, ‘guess the weight of our squash’ competition with great prize, fresh apple juice making with our press, lovely pizzas cooked with garden ingredients in our cob oven, garden goodies to take home and much more. The Harvest Festival is on Saturday 16 September from 10 a.m. to 5.p.m. Free entry and pay by donation for food, activities and garden goodies. All the money raised on the day will help us run the garden.

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Sculpture in the Park


Free Frieze 2017 arrived at the beginning of July, much sooner than usual, this year and ends 8 October. Public artworks inevitably require heavy engineering solutions for safe and secure installation which include, in this case, largely hidden concrete foundations of considerable depth. One of the more delicate installations was already damaged when I visited again after a few weeks.

The garden here may well take some time to restore when all is removed in a few months’ time. I visited on the first weekend in the very hot weather and the area was packed with visitors, as one might expect prior to the school holiday ‘grand depart’. The works of art certainly created a focus of immense interest for many, although all were surrounded by picnickers, sunbathers, children’s games etc as well as the art lovers.

Seemore of the sculptures.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of some of the activities with the pieces. The yoga group in front of Venet’s 17 Acute Unequal Angles 2016, a group of veiled teenage girls playing football around the Hank Willis Thomas Endless Column (consisting of 22 footballs), an professional looking photoshoot taking place of a girl dressed as a fairy in Chamberlain’s Fiddlers Fortune, and a small child saying Oh look a wheel barrow in front of Craig‐Martin’s Wheelbarrow (2013).

The curator, Clare Tulley, has brought together a number of well‐known artists as well as less established sculptors. Some that are more recognisable, include Paolozzi, Caro, Kaws, whose monumental pieces provide gravitas. Apart from the giant Vulcan (1999) by Paolozzi, I particularly admired Emily Young’s magical Planet (2012).

My neighbour, walking through daily to work, singles out Jaume Plensa’s Tribute, which I also liked until I noticed that this is a tribute to a well known champagne maker! How can anyone fail to love the amazing trunkstanding Gran Elefandret by Miquel Barcelo? Whilst Ugo Rondinone’s Summer Moon (2011) is a stark and perhaps timely reminder of what might become of our world if we fail to look after it properly.

A free to download app Frieze Sculpture Audio Tour sponsored by the Art Fund provides a fascinating insight into each of the pieces can be found atEnjoy Frieze Sculpture 2017.
Alison Kemp

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Help for Heroes at the Bandstand

Bandstand concert

A poignant reminder of the bombing by the Provisional IRA in Regent’s Park, killing six bandsmen from the Royal Green Jackets in May 1971, was the concert at the bandstand in June which raised about £400 for the charity. It is hoped that next summer there will be up to eight concerts with the possible involvement of the Royal Academy of Music.

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Picturing the Parks

Richmond Park

The Royal Parks joined with Phoenix Park Dublin and the Hearsum Collection to stage a joint exhibition of maps, prints, paintings, photographs, historic postcards, documents and a modicum of memorabilia. It was held first in Dublin and then in August at the Mall Galleries.

Richmond Park played the most prominent role since it was that park which inspired Daniel Hearsum, after he became involved in the catering establishment at Pembroke Lodge, to start building up a vast collection for which there will now be a new visitor centre.

Primrose Hill had its quota of duels which made the signed report on show by Colonel Colet of the death by sword of one Captain Swift, especially poignant. He died in Hyde Park at 11 a.m. on 7 December 1700. There were details as well of an ambitious world war one scheme to carve under Hyde Park an extraordinary central interchange for London’s railways which was to be combined with a massive air raid shelter but it remained a dream.

Regent’s Park rarely featured in this fascinating exhibition apart from a map of London Zoo dated 1911, the transfer of the menagerie from the Tower in 1838 and the fact that visitors could still feed animals until 1968. There is a mass of material and historic material which Regent’s Park could bring together in its own visitor centre and enhance its potential claim as London’s third heritage site. Perhaps this might be one option for the former conservatory and nursery which are no longer needed following the opening of the new plant nursery at Hyde Park. All it needs is the will; and the money!
Judy Hillman, Patron

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