Friends of Regent's Park

A Successful AGM

The Friends had a most enjoyable annual general meeting at the Danish church on Thursday 25 March. This was due to success in discouraging the FIFA World Cup ?football fest? for 20,000 fans on Gloucester Green to be run by the Greater London Authority (GLA). Members from the property world said that we stood no chance of success, as the project was backed by the Prime Minister and London?s Mayor. Apart from the application being aspirational rather than factual, and ?family orientated?, the event was to take place before the school holidays. Luckily, thanks to all the letters and emails of protest, the GLA withdrew their application from Camden Licensing.

Judy Hillman, Patron of the Friends, gave an excellent and interesting talk about her journalistic background and her involvement with Royal Park?s reviews under the Chairmanship of Dame Jennifer Jenkins, published in the 1990s. Max Jack, Chief Executive of the Crown Estate Paving Commission gave a most amusing and informative talk on the work of the Commission and its responsibilities and contributions to the running of Regent?s Park. Vicki Wallas from Camden Licensing explained new procedures coming into effect shortly for licensing and event planning.

The committee would like to thank all the members for coming to the meeting on such a wet and miserable evening. A special message of thanks must be passed on to Nick Biddle, Park Manager, his team, and the Park Police for all their hard work in keeping the Park looking good and such a safe place to visit.

Malcolm Kafetz, Chairman

Farewell Fanfest!

Regent?s Park, its friends and neighbours, the zoo and the open air theatre escaped a nightmare event this summer when Boris Johnson, London?s Mayor, and the Greater London Authority withdrew the licensing application which was due to be held by Camden on 11 March. The so-called football fanfest, due to be screened from South Africa for 23 days of the World Cup, proposed 18,000 people standing on Gloucester Green (with .5sq. m.per person), 2,000 more paying for seats and use of entertainment tents, numerous food stalls, sale of alcohol, loos galore, souvenirs, barriers and railings, queues on the Broad Walk alongside people going to the zoo, security searches (for additional alcohol) and three matches a day.

Camden had more objections to the application than ever received previously including those from many Friends and, in particular, the zoo, which quoted from research into the harmful effect of noise on animals. Dame Judi Dench spoke out on behalf of the theatre. Even the police are believed to have had reservations. The GLA application notices on the park made no reference to the World Cup or the number of days. But it withdrew on the basis that ?legitimate concerns raised doubts about the commercial viability of the plan?.

The Friends can rest on their laurels for the moment but must remain ever vigilant ? whether or not control of the Royal Parks is passed across to the GLA, or any other organisation, as suggested in some quarters after the election.

Judy Hillman, Patron

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King's Troop

The King's Troop, who will sadly be moving to Woolwich later this year, on Gloucester Green for the Annual Inspection in April.

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First in a series on famous movies filmed in the Park

A brief encounter in the Park

A popular location for film makers, Regent?s Park has witnessed a number of film crews over the years. Perhaps the most poignant is a scene for Brief Encounter filmed on 23 February 1945, when the illicit would-be lovers Alec (Trevor Howard) and Laura (Celia Johnson) on one of their Thursday afternoons together, go boating on the lake and to his horror, and Laura?s amusement, Alec lands up knee-deep in the water.

Needless to say the scene showing Alec drying off was not filmed in the park but in a set at Denham film studios. David Lean, the Director, had collaborated with Noel Coward in the hugely successrul wartime film In Which We Serve and was reluctant, in the first instance, to take on what was a short stage play by Coward, but with the extended and largely re-written script, he produced what many believe to be the classic of romantic cinema.

The farewell in the station refreshment room thwarted by the arrival of one of Laura?s female friends still makes me weep!

Anne-Marie Craven. Editor Newsletter

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A doddle for ducks but harder for herons

The female smew returns in January

The weather at the end of 2009 was a small warning of what was to come in 2010. That short cold snap brought with it members of the thrush family, redwings and fieldfares normally seen on migration in early autumn as they leave Scandinavia, some to winter here in the UK and others heading further south and west in Europe. 100 redwings and around 30 fieldfares arrived before the berries had all gone and could be found gorging themselves in trees on the site of Holford House, on yew and cotoneaster in the English Gardens as well as on trees near St Mark?s Bridge. The redwings stayed in the park but the fieldfares, apart from the odd one or two, moved on.

At the start of the cold spell other species of birds also looked for refuge within the slightly warmer London area. Meadow pipit, lapwings, and woodcock looked for soft unfrozen ground, then found shelter amongst trees in the Leaf Yard Wood and on the canal embankment. The main lake had only a few ice-free areas and eventually the Hanover Bridge sanctuary had largely frozen over. This encouraged the fox to hunt for unsuspecting ducks. Luckily there was no evidence of ?fowl? play, unless he was very crafty and wiped the scene of the crime. Elsewhere on the open water, waterfowl numbers increased to a record level with Mandarin duck more than doubling from 35 to almost 80; red-crested pochard, shoveler and common teal also grew in numbers. These swelled the number of regular waterfowl to over 800, all of which were very hungry.

During the last cold spell in early 2009, a female smew, a very rare visitor, turned up on the lake for the first time since 1963. She stayed from 25 February until 3 March and was courted by one of the males from the collection. You can imagine my surprise on 23 January, this year, when checking the ducks on the lake, to discover she had returned. Within an hour she had flown back in to Longbridge and had found her partner. Will she depart again in April to return to her natural breeding grounds in the taiga zone from Scandinavia to the Pacific or will she stay with our male?

The species which probably suffered most from this cold spell is the grey heron. It is almost impossible for these birds to find any natural foods within the park when the lake is frozen. Their natural instinct is to move towards the Thames estuary or possibly abroad. Fortunately only three herons died, two caught by foxes and the other possibly starved to death. Feeding by the public does this species more harm than good by discouraging them from going in search of natural foods. It has possibly caused several birds to lose the use of their legs, resulting in drowning or having to be put down.

Tony Duckett. Regent?s Park Wildlife Officer

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First in a series of profiles of committee members

Our Chairman   

Few people can claim to have had as long an association with Regent?s Park & Primrose Hill as can the chairman. Malcolm Kafetz was born in 1936 in London, and has lived close to the Park since he was seven years old. As a child the park was his playground, and he remembers riding his bicycle and trying to fly his home-made model airplanes there. From the age of 11 he became a keen photographer of the park, and was the proud possessor of an official permit allowing him to set up his tripod there without occurring the wrath of the park keepers. The more observant Friends may have noticed that Malcolm takes many of the photographs published in the Newsletter.

After attending Westminster School, and doing his National Service, Malcolm decided to pursue his interest in photography. He began working in Dixons, and later worked for Bennett Cameras, before opening Kafetz Cameras on Baker Street, specialising in hi-tech expensive cameras and equipment. He was able to build up a client base which included The Beatles, Peter Sellers, Stanley Kubrick, UNESCO, The World Health Organisation, Terence Donovan, Brian Duffy and David Bailey. In 1964 Stanley Kubrick asked him to design special effects for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey

Malcolm and his wife Anna live in Chalfont Court, and now that both are retired, particularly enjoy walking in the park when time permits. Malcolm also enjoys jazz, and has a huge collection of both traditional and modern jazz, as well as of classical music. He also maintains his interest in all things technical ? it was Malcolm who set up the Friends? website and wrote the program used to produce the accounts and control the membership information.

Malcolm is passionate about maintaining Regent?s Park and Primrose Hill as a unique centre for peace and recreation in central London. He served first as treasurer on the committee of the FRP&PH, and then in 2007 became chairman. His determination not to allow the park to be ruined by commercial development was shown when, despite being told he was wasting his time and theirs, he immediately took on the Royal Parks and was able to persuade Westminster City Council to turn down the planning application for a five-a-side football centre on the ground previously occupied by Holford House. Several battles have followed with both the park management and the government!

In addition to fulfilling his many duties as chairman of the FRP&PH, Malcolm also serves on the Regent?s Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee, Safer Parks Police Committee, and has served a three-year term as chairman of the Royal Parks Forum of Friends. To fulfil all these roles requires time and effort, and the Friends are all very fortunate that Malcolm is willing to devote so much of both to preserving the parks for future generations.

Margaret Elliott

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First in a series

Who was who in the Park?

From sword to spade

William Andrews Nesfield 1794-1881, a clergyman?s son, unhappy at school and destined for the church, chose in 1809, after two years at Trinity College, Cambridge, to enter the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, where he learnt to draw from Thomas, the son of Paul Sandby. An exhibition of his work is currently being shown at the Royal Academy.

Commissioned in 1813 into the 95th Regiment, he fought in Spain during the Peninsular wars and then became ADC to Sir Gordon Drummond in the 1812 war against North America, resigning in 1818 as he was only on half-pay.

His new career as a watercolour painter was remarkably successful with praise and encouragement coming from leading artists such as David Cox. However, marriage to Emma Mills and the birth of their two sons hastened his need for more lucrative employment.

He started to collaborate as landscape gardener with his architect brother-in-law, Anthony Salvin, specialist in the High Victorian desire for ?period? style building. This married well with Nesfield?s formal style of parterres, vistas and avenues, ?The eye should be led to the horizon, unrestricted by trees?. avenues should have a point,? Nesfield wrote, hence he approved ?the judicial use of the axe?.

His designs were all the rage and he became one of the most sought after landscape gardeners for country house owners with over 200 commissions to his name - Eaton Hall for the Duke of Westminster, Holkham Hall, Broughton Hall and Witley Court, to name but a few. His great vistas can still be seen at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. What should have been his crowning achievement, the Royal Horticultural Society gardens in Kensington commissioned by the Prince Consort, Albert. Sadly Albert?s premature death and the RHS?s lack of funds rang the death knell of his plans.

His last great project, however, was the design in 1863 for the Avenue Gardens in Regent?s Park, with the assistance of his son, Markham, and gorgeously restored and reinstated by the team in the park over the last few years. By 1864, William was becoming infirm and Markham was commissioned to design the adjacent English gardens, an exercise in informality, to complement and contrast with the formality of the Italianate Avenue Gardens. Tragically Markham died in a riding accident in the park in 1874, before his father?s death in 1881. It is a great tribute to his work that the spirit of his design is still apparent and some of the elements such as the shrubberies are being remodelled according to his plans. ?Judicial use of the axe? might also take place in the current refurbishment.

Anne-Marie Craven. Editor Newsletter

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Zoo news

The year got off to a busy start with our annual stocktake and the challenges of trying to count every animal in two zoos, London Zoo and Whipsnade. Neither the staff, animals nor the many journalists who cover the day were put off by the snow. A particularly snowy Friday morning saw staff from across ZSL come together to clear paths through the zoo, enabling us to stay open. In fact the zoo was only closed for one day in the winter, mainly because of the lack of grit.

Spring arrivals

The first part of the year usually sees new births at the zoo and 2010 is no exception, for example an okapi calf, and tiny squirrel monkeys clinging onto mum in their walkthrough.


Staff at ZSL London Zoo were deeply saddened by the death of the zoo?s new male gorilla, Yeboah, in late March after a short and very sudden illness. Keepers and vets worked tirelessly to find out what was wrong and treat him, but his condition deteriorated and he sadly passed away. The zoo?s three female gorillas, Effie, Mjukuu and Zaire are doing well, and can be seen in Gorilla Kingdom.

Forthcoming events at ZSL

From Easter, watch out for the opening of Rainforest Life and Nightlife, two exciting new experiences in the Clore Rainforest Lookout.

Public scientific meetings

Public scientific meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month and offer a great opportunity to hear first-hand from international experts. Topics cover a wide range of zoological and conservation themes. For a meeting schedule, please visit their website

Carolyn Bennett. Development Manager, ZSL

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Park updates

An allotment in the Park

Have you spotted the work near the Park and Police Office? In partnership with Capel Manor and Sustain (the Mayor of London?s Capital Growth Project) Andy Williams, as assistant park manager, is masterminding a new food growing space. Even the hedge will be edible! Watch this space for further developments.

Roses are red?

The large border on the Café Lawn in Queen Mary?s Garden has been having a major overhaul. Reshaped, it has been newly planted with a mix of modern and old-fashioned roses, perennials and winter interest shrubs. Sally, Jennah and Katy, members of the park?s gardening team, have ?done a fine job?, says Andy, assistant park manager, redesigning the large herbaceous border (known as the Sausage Border), north west of the rose wheel.

Bog garden no more

This area is undergoing refurbishment, replacing the struggling Bog Garden with a grove of dawn redwood trees. This project is an element of the Royal Parks? work to reinforce the character of the English Gardens, as originally laid out by Markham Nesfield (see Who was who). The dawn redwoods will be planted in autumn 2010 and will become striking specimens in an expanse of lawn with dramatic autumn colour and vibrant greens in the spring.


The Broad Walk Shared-use Cycle Trial from Chester Road north to the Outer Circle ended in January 2010 and it was decided to maintain the route as shared-use but to keep this under review.


There is lots more for children to do and play with in the refurbished playground near Gloucester Gate which reopened at the end of March.

Iolo Morganwg

The commemorative plaque on top of Primrose Hill will be moved from its current position in the grass to the central paved area when a new design has been approved.

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For your diary

Danish Church Summer Bazaar

Friday 14 May 4-9pm
Saturday 15 May 11am-4pm

Open Garden ? The Holme

Another chance to visit this beautiful 4-acre garden packed with interesting and unusual plants, a lake, waterfall and stream.
Saturday 22 & Sunday 23 May;
Saturday 14 & Sunday 15
August (2.30-5.30)
Admission: £3.50 children free

Open Air theatre

The Crucible by Arthur Miller, 24 May-19 June 2010
The Comedy of Errors, 24 June-31 July 2010
Macbeth Re-imagined for everyone aged six and over, 3-31 July 2010
Into The Wood by Stephen Sondheim, 5 August-11 September 2010
An Evening with Monty Don, 22 August 2010

Camden Green Fair

5-6 June 2010

Taste of London

17-29 June 2010

Camden Mela

3-4 July 2010

The Broadwalk Ballroom

Tango Alfresco, 10 July and 8 August 2010

The Hub

Winter sports have now finished and the summer season started on 17 April. This includes cricket and softball mainly but there is also a touch rugby league that takes place in the park from May until late August. We have a schedule of various children?s activities during half term and summer term for eight to 14 year olds, including sports such as athletics, orienteering, rugby, football, cricket and dodge ball. The summer exercise schedule starts on 4 May for payment only classes. Pilates and Yoga are the most popular, especially for the over 60s.
Jill Osleger
Tel: 020 7935 2458 for bookings

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Friends of Regent?s Park & Primrose Hill

Contact Links

Chair: Malcolm Kafetz -
Treasurer: Richard E Portnoy -
Newsletter: Anne-Marie Craven -
Webmaster: Neil Manuel -

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Created on Wednesday 5th May 2010, last edited Thursday 20th May 2010.
Errors & Omissions excepted