Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 68

New venue for the AGM

The AGM was held on 16 March at St Mark?s Church, Primrose Hill, when our Chairman, Malcolm Kafetz presented Nick Biddle, Park Manager at Regent?s Park, with a £11,000 cheque to help with the running of the allotment gardent and for work to the reed beds. Nick then talked to us about the planned cuts throughout the Royal Parks and the transfer after the Olympic Games in 2012 of the Royal Parks from the DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) to the the GLA (Greater London Authority).
There was a report on this in Newsletter 67.

King?s Troop

It is sad that this splendid ?Troop? is to leave St John?s Wood for Woolwich at the end of the year. The Barracks are one of the few to have been built after the battle of Waterloo in 1815 to improve security in the capital. Horses have been billeted here since 1804 and it became known as the Riding Department of His Majesty?s Ordnance, hence Ordnance Hill. The Riding school which was completed in 1825 and designed by the Royal Engineers, is a listed building, cost £5712. 4s. 9d and will be protected when the site is redeveloped for 133 new homes designed by architects John McAslan and Partners.

four horses of the kings troop

The King?s Troop was formed in 1947 by King George VI to fulfil his wish that a troop of Royal Horse Artillery, mounted and dressed in the traditional manner, should take part in the great ceremonies of state. When on parade with its guns, the Troop takes precedence over all other regiments and parades on the right of the line of the British Army.

kings troop

Did you know that the 120 horses stabled here create 1000 tonnes of manure and bedding each year and when the troop moves to its new base, hot water and heating will be powered by pellets created from the muckheap?

bulding plate

Meanwhile Mireille Galinou, the art historian and author of the new history of St John's Wood (reviewed in the last newsletter) has launched her latest venture, The Queen's Terrace Café, in a building which is part of the Barracks site. A cultural café, it will host meet-the-artist evenings, talks on London's history and guided tours of the area, until the rebuilding in 2012.


Visit to Winfield House

winfield house
The parterre leading to the summer gardent at Winfield House

Mrs Sussman, the American ambassador?s wife kindly allowed a group of Friends to explore the gardens with Stephen Crisp, the head gardener for 25 years, on May 3. It was a fine day this time and the tour was most enjoyable. The garden has developed and changed over the years under Stephen?s charge with different garden rooms, sculpture gardens, borders, shrubberies and lots of new trees, often planted by retiring ambassadors. I hope that we shall be able to organise another visit in 2012 for those Friends who we were unable to accommodate this year.

Our money well spent!

The renewal of the old boat house reed bed

reed beds
Transformation of the reed bed

The mechanical preparation work has been finished as can be seen from the photograph. The design will enable the ducks and swans to have their own area while the dragonflies will benefit from what remains, which will give them plenty to feed upon. The work will be finished in June with the help of volunteers who will plant the additional reed beds.

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Meet your committee

Harris Watts wrote the item in our spring newsletter about the filming of The King's Speech in Avenue Gardens. A few weeks later a friend sent him a copy of BA's business mag for executive travellers featuring an interview with Tom Hooper, the director of The King's Speech. During the interview Hooper said,

Harris Watts

?One day I saw a book discarded on the piano in the assembly hall at school?. From that moment on, I wanted to be a director. I spent a year reading and the best book I read was On Camera by Harris Watts, which was the graduate trainee manual for young directors and producers at the BBC. It?s a brilliant guide to how to shoot and edit.?

Harris and his wife, Christina, have been living in Primrose Hill since the early 70s. He volunteered for the Friends? committee during the five-a-side football pitches battle. ?It made me realise just how many companies, institutions and charities want to concrete over a slice of our parks for the benefit of worthy causes such as the neglected section of the community or a neglected sport
? Put the worthiness of the cause together with the need to make more money to compensate for shrinking maintenance budgets and you have a toxic mix that could wipe out large swathes of our green spaces. Our parents fought to keep the parks. We need to do the same for the sake of our children and grandchildren.?

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In the gardens

The delphinium border has been replanted and has been designed to include 47 of the 53 cultivars in the national collection. The newly configured irrigation in the border is working and providing a more effective watering system.

delphinium border

The old roses have been removed from the New Lodge Rose Border and the soil has been replaced. The border will be left fallow this summer in order to treat and eradicate the perennial weed in the adjacent hedge. The border will be planted this autumn with a mixture of species roses, some old fashioned roses and a number of shrubs that will provide winter interest.

The avenue of Indian horse chestnuts, Aesculus indica, which were suffering badly from bleeding canker on the plateaux in Queen Mary?s Garden were recently removed and have been replaced with Malus trilobata, a crab-apple, which will provide strong structural element to the landscape and also display excellent autumn colour. A small group of Sorbus has also been planted, adjacent to the Begonia Garden.

Allotment Garden

Thanks to the Friends there will be a number of open days this year and the harvest festival will take place again in September.

Open Day dates are as follows;

Saturday 4 June 2011 : 1.30-7.30pm - London Green Fair
Saturday 9 July 2011 : 11am-4pm - Ask The Experts
Saturday 6 August 2011 : 11am-4pm - Ask The Experts
Friday 19 August 2011 : 11am-4pm - Childrens Open Day
Sunday 25 September 2011 : 12noon- 6pm - Harvest Festival

Andy Williams
Assistant Park Manager

Will you be affected by High-Speed 2

The deadline for comments on this route for High Speed 2 is 29th July. If you are concerned about this and have been unable to visit any of the exhibitions click this link for the diary of mobile exhibitions

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Warmth brings out the birds

It was clear that the spell of warm dry weather brought spring forward by at least a couple of weeks. The most notable feature was the amount of foliage on the trees. If you happen to stroll along the lakeside you will hear the sound of young grey herons, the first of which hatched around the end of February, begging for food from their parents. In recent years birds tended to use the old established nests, with the less dominant birds waiting until a nest site became vacant before breeding. However this year either the birds have been on a nest-building course or the weather has caused more birds to want to breed at the same time. There have been at least six new nests constructed in trees thought to be unsuitable due to the lack of a firm anchorage point to start the build. By the last count, before foliage obscured the view, there were 32 of them. One pair of herons have nested this year opposite the bandstand in a very low willow tree which is only about 20 feet above the water. Boating on the lake gave one a unique opportunity to follow the life inside a nest, something normally only witnessed by a wildlife cameraman inside a hide.

The fate of an owlet

On 13 March one of the assistant park managers was stopped by a concerned member of the public, who had witnessed a group of crows trying to kill a young owl. He had scared them away but was worried that they would return and finish the job. Dave Johnson (Tony Duckett's assistant), who is very skilled at dealing with birds of prey, was on call, spotted the bird and we decided that it would be best to house the bird during the day where he could keep and eye on him and release it that evening. The owlet didn?t move during the main part of the day, but clambered up a little higher during the evening. Dave couldn?t believe it, when at dusk he looked out to see an adult owl sitting alongside the youngster. The following day he had gone.

Three days? later as we walked through Queen Mary?s Gardens, we were met by a flock of around 80 crows stooping at something on top of a tree on the Mediterranean border. We saw an owlet, surely not the one that had been rescued as they normally learn pretty quickly if they have had a previous scare. We rushed over to the area and tried to scare the crows away. After 30 minutes they had lost interest but the owlet stayed put until the evening when it was seen to fly down into one of the nearby conifers. The question of whether or not it was the same bird was answered six days? later when I spotted


three owlets perched in a tree in the Secret Garden at 6.00am. These too were briefly harassed by crows, but were old enough now to withstand this and there is safety in numbers. As far as we are know they are still doing well and Dave has seen them occasionally near his gardens.

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Zoo news

Take a trip to Penguin Beach!

ZSL London Zoo opens its newest exhibit, Penguin Beach, on Friday 27 May. Five times the size of the old penguin pool, Penguin Beach will eventually be home to well over 100 Humboldt and Macaroni penguins, and will also showcase the exciting work of ZSL?s very own Penguinologist, Dr Tom Hart, who is trying to understand the impacts of climate change on penguin colonies in Antarctica. With underwater viewing, seating for over 350 people and a fantastic new live show, Penguin Beach will be the highlight of a summer zoo visit. If you?re a ZSL Member, don?t forget to book your places on the members? preview, from 3pm on 26 May, by visiting

Bouncing babies

As ever, spring has seen a healthy bunch of new arrivals at the zoo. Hope, a white-naped mangabey born in early April, is one of the world?s rarest primates. ZSL London Zoo is at the forefront of breeding the endangered monkeys, as part of the European Endangered species Programme (EEP), and is now home to the largest breeding group in Europe, following the birth of Conchita and Luca in 2008, Paddy in 2009 and now Hope.

No more fish in the sea?

With current forecasts predicting the collapse of the world?s major fisheries by 2050, a novel approach to conservation is needed to secure the future of our seas. On Wednesday 11 May 2011, ZSL will embark on Project Ocean, a groundbreaking partnership with luxury department store Selfridges to bring attention to the crisis facing the world?s oceans. For the first time in its history, Selfridges will be stocking their shelves with sustainable fish, and dedicating its famous window displays to conservation, highlighting the plight of the oceans to the store?s 30,000 daily shoppers. A daily programme of talks, films and workshops in the store?s UltraLounge will give you the chance to learn more about one of the biggest challenges facing the natural world.
For more information, visit

Zoo Lates ? the best summer party in town

After last year?s sell-out success, London Zoo?s "Zoo Lates" will be back every Friday evening in June and July. We will be opening our doors after hours for an incredible night out. Grab yourself a drink from our special Penguin Beach Bar, before enjoying the entertainment, including a silent disco, twisted cabaret and animal demonstrations. Whether discovering over 750 species, sipping on a cocktail, indulging in a pre-ordered picnic, or grabbing a bite from the BBQ, this will be the perfect summer night out for you and your friends, families and work colleagues. For information and bookings, visit

Carolyn Bennett
Development Manager, ZSL

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Healthy shopping?

St John?s Wood Farmers? Market opened with a bang on Saturday 14 May. It will be open every Saturday from 9am ? 1pm at Barrow Hill Junior School, Bridgeman Street, London NW8 7AL, just off St John?s Wood High Street. There will usually be more than 30 producers selling their products, breads, fruit, vegetables, poultry, pork, sausages, cheeses and lots of other excellent fresh goodies. Don?t forget to try the Kentish asparagus before the season ends.

The Primrose Hill lectures

St Mary?s church, Elsworthy Road, London NW3 3DJ. The lectures start promptly at 7.30 pm followed by Q & As and then refreshments at about 8.30pm.

Wednesday 8 June - Frank Field - On Poverty
Wednesday 15 June - Alan Bennett - On Libraries
Wednesday 22 June - Colin Thubron - On Travel
Wednesday 29 June - Mary Beard - On Classics
Wednesday 6 July - Lionel Blue - On Godseeking

Tickets: Single lecture: £12 / £10 concessions.
Series: £55 / £45 concessions (one ticket per lecture).

You can book on-line here Once you book online, you will be emailed a booking reference number which you will need to bring on the night of the lecture to show on the door. Ticket purchase by post: Please send a cheque, payable to: St Mary?s PCC, and SAE to:
Primrose Hill Lectures
St Mary?s Church
Elsworthy Road
London NW3 3DJ

For more information:

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Marathon man

Nick Biddle surpassed his own expectations by raising £2,260 for WaterAid during the London Marathon, nearly double his previous best and almost bettering his time of last year.


4-5 June : London Green Fair, Cumberland Green
16-19 June : Taste of London food festival, Marylebone Green
11-12 June : The Regent?s Park Allotment garden, Outer Circle, will open as one of the Capital Growth partners in the Open Squares weekend
11 June-22 August : Gorilla Circus Trapeze workshops, near Canal
25-26 June 2.30-5.30 pm : The Holme, NW1 4NT, National Gardens Scheme, open for Charity Admission £3.00
3-4 July Camden : Mela Cultural event, Marylebone Green
9 July : Mind Bus, Mental Health Charity, North Broadwalk
9-10 July : Broadwalk Ballroom and Tango Al Fresco, dance event, Avenue Gardens
10 July 2.30-5.30 pm : Gloucester Crescent Group of gardens at 69-70 Gloucester Crescent, NW1 7EG, National Gardens Scheme, open for Charity Admission £3.00
31 July : Alice in Wonderland - Children?s entertainment
7-9 August : Lollibop Festival, a festival for under-tens and their families, Marylebone Green
7 August 2.30-5.30 pm : Gloucester Crescent Group of gardens at 69-70 Gloucester Crescent, NW1 7EG, National Gardens Scheme, open for Charity Admission £3.00
13-14 August : Broadwalk Ballroom and Tango Al Fresco, dance event, Avenue Gardens
13-14 August 2.30-5.30 pm : The Holme, NW1 4NT, National Gardens Scheme, open for Charity Admission £3.00
14 August 10am-5pm : Royal College of Physicians NW1 4LE, Physic Garden, National Gardens Scheme, open for Charity Admission £3.00
29 August 5pm : Impresario and Pagliacci, The Garden Opera, Nannies Lawn In a unique interpretation the two works will be merged: the Impresario by Mozart will serve as a prequel - the first act in a story about the fates and loves of Leoncavello?s famous clowns. Then we enter the inner world of the players in Leoncavallo?s Pagliacci.

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Theatre in the Park

Regent?s Park Open Air Theatre At a star-studded ceremony held at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 15 March, Into the Woods won Best Musical Revival in the 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards, repeating the theatre?s success with Hello, Dolly! which picked up the same award in 2010. Stephen Sondheim was presented with the Special Award for his contribution to British Theatre.

lord of the flies
A scene from Lord of the Flies

A reminder of productions this summer:

Until 18 June : Lord of the Flies :
23 June ? 23 July : The Beggar?s Opera
2-23 July : Pericles re-imagined for everyone of ages six and over
28 July ? 10 September : Crazy for you

Special offer to the Friends

The Theatre are offering the FRP&PH a special ticket discount. This is £22.50 for best available seats, Monday - Friday evening performances and all matinees from 19 May - 11 September (for Lord of the Flies, The Beggar?s Opera and Crazy for You). Tickets must be booked at the box office at the theatre in the Park, showing the Friends? badge, and can be booked for future performances.
There will be no booking fee.

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Keep fit in the park

In partnership with the Hub, Training Partner, will provide instructors to deliver and manage park fitness outdoor group sessions. The aim of the classes is to get fit whilst having fun. There will be some informal sports as well as circuit style exercises.
Wednesday evenings at 6pm
Saturdays at 10.30am

Prices start at £8 with discounts for students & block bookings. For information please contact Training Partners on:

The Royal Parks Police

A meeting of the Forum of the eight Royal Parks with Acting Chief Superintendent Simon Ovens, head of the Royal Parks Police, was held on 20 April. We were told about changes to the policing of the Parks. Regent?s Park will be losing some of our seven Police Support Officers (PSO) and gaining one police Constable. The overall Royal Parks Police budget is going to be cut by 23% over five years to conform to the Government?s economic plans. This means the visible police presence will be reduced. The PSO are being redeployed, not made redundant. We congratulated Simon Ovens for his well deserved pending promotion to Chief Superintendent.

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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 Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Thursday 11th August 2011.
Errors & Omissions excepted