Newsletter ‐ Autumn 2019
From the Chair
Wow, what a summer!
This newsletter sums up a range of splendid summer activities in the parks, from the magnificent concerts which have made the Bandstand a real centre drawing people into the park, to many other enjoyments and plans for developments.
Please do come to theEnd of Season Review on 28 October, drinks and nibbles from 6.30 p.m., and business starts at 7 p.m. This will be the chance to meet our new Chairman who will be taking over from that meeting (as I move away to Kent which is too far to continue as Chairman).
Mark Elliott is already known to many of you from his fourteen years as a CEPC Commissioner, and since then as the leader of the new Charity that runs the bandstand concerts. He is a dedicated park lover and has lived in one of the terraces for the past twenty‐nine years. He and his wife Margaret are lifetime members of the Friends, and Margaret has a long history helping the Friends and interviewing new committee members.
A big thank you to everyone who has corresponded with me or answered our surveys whilst I have been Chairman. If we don’t know what you think, we can’t attempt to address it! I hope we have addressed your issues adequately but if not, now you will have a new person to try! I have enjoyed being your Chairman. Good luck to Mark as he takes on this role.
Please note that whilst we prefer emails, (to the email addresses listed on theAbout Us page of our website) any hard copy correspondence that needs to be sent should in future be sent care of the Park Office, which has kindly agreed to act as a post box for us in future.
Note: The office is only open Monday to Friday between 8.30 a.m. and 4 p.m. and has no letter box, so if you can’t get there, please send by post to the address on theAbout Us page of our website.
Ianthe McWilliams, Chair
Goodbye to Julie
After supervising the allotment Garden in Regent’s Park for eight years, Julie Smith, nee Riehl, says goodbye to move to Devon. I am one of the volunteers who has said a fond farewell.
The first thing that strikes you about Julie is her passion for nature: vegetable and fruit worms, birds, bees, ladybirds, bumblebees, spiders ‐ the list is endless. The perfect person to run the Regent’s Park allotment garden. Little wonder that it has three wormeries and a worm tower!
True, the pigeons were chased off the berries with a few well-chosen words in French ‐ we have after all grown them for our own consumption, not theirs; and she did not appreciate the butterflies laying their eggs on our cabbages. There was also an unfortunate incident one season when rats took a single bite out of every pear and apple rendering them unavailable for human consumption.
But these incidents aside, Julie’s love of nature and food has taken her and her husband, Mike, to distant and exotic lands.
Working for Julie these past six years has been for me a revelation. I have always lived in small flats without even a window box, but I love the outdoors and throughout all my life Regent’s Park has been my back garden.
I was therefore delighted when Julie was prepared to take me on. She generously shared her knowledge and probably thought I was worth keeping when I turned up on my second week in torrential rain! Under her guidance I grew a carrot from seed, soon learnt the difference between a weed and a seedling and quickly felt able to contribute to the team discussions about what to grow next season.
Each year Julie liked to experiment with different foods and this summer we have very successfully grown lentils and quinoa. Julie never tired of sharing her knowledge be it to her volunteers, our regular parties of schoolchildren, adult training groups and the general public who regularly visit the Garden.
Julie’s creativity is not limited to horticulture, as those of you who have visited the garden’s Open Days (previously known as Harvest Festival) will know. All those beautifully illustrated signs, labels and drawings are also her work. A very talented lady, she also makes organic beauty products. Julie loves to cook, and we have shared many recipes using allotment ingredients, of course.
A genuine Renaissance lady using everything that nature has to offer in the very best way. I shall miss her very much. I wish her and Mike a very happy and healthy future in Devon.
Jacky Erwteman, Committee Member
Note: Julie will be the Friends’ guest speaker at the End of Season Review on Monday 28 October at 7 p.m. at St John’s Wood Church Hall.
Friends are always very welcome at the allotment garden which is open every day.
The Musical Park
As promised, the second Summer Music Festival on the Regent’s Park bandstand was bigger and better than the first, with performances by twenty‐five bands and choirs.
There were two free concerts on the bandstand every Sunday and Bank holiday Monday afternoon from 23 June to 1 September. Approximately 900 musicians were involved, managed by twenty‐five volunteer site supervisors, many of whom were members of the Friends.
Audiences varied between 100 and 1,000, and over the season about 14,000 people came to hear the music. Around the bandstand, adults and children danced, played, picnicked and enjoyed the music.
Highlights of the season included performances by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, the 200 strong Rock Choir and bands from Barnes, Fulham, Kew, Harrow, Lambeth, Lewisham, Crystal Palace, Putney and Wimbledon, Herne Hill, Grimsdyke and Central London.
Two groups from the Royal Academy of Music played, and big band jazz bands were particularly popular. For the Help for Heroes band, playing on the bandstand had a special significance as it was the site of an IRA bombing in 1982 in which seven military musicians of the Royal Green Jackets were killed.
The Bandstand festival was part of a summer long extravaganza in the Regent’s Park area. It began with the Marylebone Music Festival, continued with Opera and Shakespeare in the Park, music festivals in the Marylebone and St Mark’s Churches, and ended with the 10th Klezmer Festival. The Open Air Theatre staged four new productions, including the spectacular musical Evita, and sculpture was and is still on show in the English Garden.
The Friends would like to thank the Bandstand committee, Mark Elliott, Richard Portnoy and Michael Appell, as well as all the site supervisors for all their hard work arranging the Festival and making it such a success.
Art in the Park
There has been a very mixed reaction from critics and the general public to the third year of Frieze sculpture in the Park. During the walk looking at sculpture in general in the park your editor pointed out the ones she felt drawn towards.
Fortunately, some of the group agreed with her. Just a few of these are illustrated here.Back to top
It is now exactly eleven years since a large group of Friends, led by Valerie St Johnston, the Chairman, representatives from Westminster Council and local residents congregated on the site of the recently closed, and popular, Golf and Tennis School in Regent’s Park to oppose the attempt by Goals Soccer five‐a‐side football to take over the site for a substantial new facility.
This would have involved excessive noise, glaring floodlights and huge traffic problems, and would have seriously affected the amenity of the US Embassy residence.
We now read that they are currently under investigation for alleged financial irregularities. All of us must be grateful for the huge effort by the Council and the Park authorities, the Friends and residents who triumphed over the proposal. We are fortunate not to have given a home to one of their forty‐five facilities which are spread throughout Britain.
In the Gardens
Avenue Gardens Irrigation
This autumn and winter will see the renovation of the irrigation system for the Avenue Gardens, replacing the current system which was installed around twenty-five years ago.
There will be a good deal of digging and disturbance to the usual displays during this period and into the spring but we will see the benefits for years to come. The project will enable us to replace the failing conifers in the aisles to either side of the main avenue. The irrigation will continue to be supplied by one of our two boreholes.
There is increasing interest about recycling and I have received a few queries recently about why we do not have recycling bins.
As previously reported the park’s general waste goes to a materials recycling facility which can recycle 50% of the waste, with the remaining 50% unrecyclable waste going for waste to energy. Zero goes to landfill and all green waste is processed on site to be reused in the park although dry paper and card from our offices is recycled separately.
This approach helps to minimise infrastructure, vehicle movements and the issues of poor compliance by separating at source.
Primrose Hill Café
Following some initial delays, we are making good progress with the construction of this much anticipated new facility which we expect to be open from early October.
Gloucester Gate Playground
We are very excited to have started on site with the construction of this new facility. The playground is being transformed into an accessible, active play space, almost double the size of the previous facility.
The landform will echo the mounds and valleys of the adjacent former site of St Katharine’s Lodge, featuring play equipment made from natural materials such as timber, rope, living willow as well as sand and water play, a 50m zip line and significant plantings.
The space is zoned so that children of a younger age have equipment suited to them in the centre with a more formal planting style which becomes wilder with more challenging equipment as they circle away from the centre. The design recognises the importance of enabling children of all abilities to play together and all areas of the playground are wheelchair accessible.
The project has been enabled by the London Marathon Charitable Trust together with a mix of private and public donations.
Dogs at The Broad Walk Café
Dogs are welcome on the terrace at The Broad Walk Café, but we have received a number of complaints about members of the public allowing their dogs to roam about the terrace. Out of consideration for those who would like to use this facility without being approached by other people’s animals we ask customers to keep their four‐legged friends on a lead in this area.
Nick Biddle, Regent’s Park ManagerBack to top
Movement in the Parks
Thank you to all who responded to the first stage of engagement on the future Movement Strategy.
We have received nearly 7,000 individual submissions and are currently working hard to analyse all the responses. We anticipate sharing the summary report very soon and preparing the future proposals that will influence how our park visitors move within, access and experience our parks.
In the meantime, if you want be notified as the project develops please sign up to the Movement Strategy newsletter on ourwebsite.
Mat Bonomi, Head of Transport and Access
The Glories of the Archives
Sixteen members enjoyed an enthusiastic talk given by archivist Alison Kenney at the City of Westminster Archive Centre on 27 June 2019.
The Centre, which is located at 10 St Ann’s Street, SW1P 2DE is open on Tuesday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sunday and Monday. Tel: 020 7641 5180. Access to the archives is free.
Alison first gave us a potted history of The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill and then let us browse various maps and illustrations from the very wide selection held in the archives which she had put out for us to see. We had many questions to ask her and she was delighted to answer them from her very wide knowledge of the subject.
We were shown how to use the computer to access records and images which anyone can access free of charge. There are competitive reproduction charges for printing images.
Great interest was shown in prints of the Toxophilites, (lovers of archery) and the engraving of ‘pistols at dawn’ on Primrose Hill.
We then visited the Conservation Room where we were shown examples of what can happen to manuscripts over time. Some had water damage, others fire damage and one large manuscript had been eaten by mice or rats! Others which had recently been carefully put together with Sellotape showed what extensive damage is done by the destructive glue on the tape when trying to remove it.
Several volunteers and students help preserve these precious records using only fine long fibre tissue paper and vegetarian glue. The mended articles are then placed into see‐through plastic pouches and catalogued.
Alison explained that the most difficult records to preserve will be from the 20th and 21st century! For example, will there still be computers that take floppy discs, memory sticks, etc? “A complete nightmare!” she said.
The highlight of the visit was being allowed into the strong room. We saw their earliest record which is a remarkable manuscript and seal of King Henry III from the 13th century.
After the visit Alison sent us all an email list of books, maps and Royal Botanic Society archives in case we wanted to research further into The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. A very worthwhile afternoon was had by all.
ZSL is selected as Seasonal Appeal partner by the Financial Times
ZSL has been chosen by the Financial Times (FT) as its 2019/20 Seasonal Appeal charity partner.
With the illegal global wildlife trade reaching unprecedented levels, the FT Appeal will shine a light on ZSL’s ground‐breaking efforts to detect, deter and disrupt wildlife trafficking and to work with local communities, business and governments to reduce poverty and protect endangered species.
Dominic Jermey, ZSL Director General, said: “With support from the FT, we can step up our fight against one of the biggest threats to wildlife today. It’s not just elephants, rhinos and tigers being driven to the brink of extinction, but seahorses and salamanders are under pressure too.
In partnership, ZSL and the FT can share stories of communities on the front line, shine a spotlight on species in crisis and push the illegal wildlife trade to the top of the business, social and political agendas. We are delighted to have been chosen and cannot wait for the appeal to begin.”
The FT Seasonal Appeal increases awareness of a chosen charity each year through dedicated editorial coverage of its work. Charity partners are selected by the FT’s Seasonal Appeal Committee (consisting of senior staff across editorial), and readers and corporate partners are encouraged to donate. FT appeals have raised more than £18 million for charities over the last decade.
To find out more and how you can support the appeal visitzsl.org.
Keepers at ZSL London Zoo have given a home to four rescued turtles with heads so large they cannot pull them into their shells. The four aptly named big‐headed turtles arrived at the Zoo at the end of 2018, after being rescued from smugglers trying to import them illegally into Canada labelled as toys.
They have been settling in behind the scenes ever since under the care of the Zoo’s expert herpetology team.
Now, one of the surprisingly charismatic turtles, named Lady Triêu by keepers after a famous Vietnamese lady warrior, has moved into a new exhibit in the Zoo’s Reptile House, giving visitors the chance to come face‐to‐face with the unusual reptile, the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.
Zoo’s Asiatic Lions Mark World Lion Day
ZSL London Zoo’s pride of Asiatic lions joined in the global celebrations for World Lion Day 2019 with the gift of a brand-new custom‐built ‘seesaw’.
Designed to inspire the majestic cats to use their ingenuity, prowess and strength, the new feeding device has been provided by ZSL sponsor Liontrust and enabled lionesses Heidi, Indi and Rubi to show off their natural hunting behaviour.
Asiatic lions, prey upon nilgai (also known as blue bulls) in the wild and use their incredible upper body strength to pull these large antelopes, which stand up to 1.5 metres tall and two metres long, to the ground. The Zoo’s new seesaw emulates this; using strong springs to load down one end of the bar, food is attached to the elevated end, encouraging the lions to reach up and hold down their meal.
Kathryn Sanders, ZSL lion keeper said: “Placing the pride’s breakfast on the raised ‘seesaw’ encourages them to use their natural skills to jump up and pull down the food, in the same way they would hunt large prey in the wild. The seesaw was provided by ZSL’s sponsors Liontrust and will be a great addition to our daily enrichment programme, which encompasses all of the things we do to encourage the animals’ natural behaviour, keeping them mentally and physically stimulated.”
To learn more about becoming a ZSL sponsor or to visit ZSL’s pride of lion visitzsl.org.
Animal Adventure opens at ZSL London Zoo
Ande the llama officially opened ZSL London Zoo’s new Animal Adventure at an exclusive press preview last month, by munching his way through a ceremonial ribbon!
Built on the site of the Zoo’s original Children’s Zoo, the first of its kind when it opened in 1938, Animal Adventure stays true to the original spirit of bringing children closer to nature through play.
Animal Adventure will encourage young explorers to delve into the secret and surprising lives of animals, following some of nature's most epic journeys coming face‐to‐face with meerkats, porcupines, mongoose, coatis and more along the way.
Capturing little ones’ imaginations, a child‐sized hot air balloon and a replica of Charles Darwin's boat, HMS Beagle, will transport them to animal kingdoms around the world, connecting youngsters to animals through magical up‐close experiences and adventurous play.
Little ones can climb like a coati and reach new heights on the mini climbing wall or soar like a macaw through the treetop rope course, before hitching a wild ride on the animal‐themed sit‐on springers.
A new open‐air amphitheatre will be the place to go for fascinating daily talks, where zookeepers will reveal how llamas trek across the Andes, and why young meerkats must set out on their own to find a mate. Kids will follow in Darwin’s daring footsteps, navigating swinging bridges, slides and ladders aboard HMS Beagle in the Zoo’s new adventure themed playpark.
A thrilling Splash Zone will keep globetrotters cool in the summer sunshine, while parents relax with refreshments outside the new café, where they can keep a watchful eye on junior explorers as they play and learn.
Young animal adventurers will be able to spot the Zoo’s resident pygmy goats, kune pigs, llamas and donkeys as they set off on regular walks around the area, with plenty of opportunities to meet ZSL’s expert keepers and get the inside story on their work.
The ultimate family experience this summer, Animal Adventure is now open. Join as a Member or a Patron to support ZSL and visit the zoo all year round. Seezsl.org for details.
Stephanie Deas, Press Officer, ZSLBack to top