Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 72

A tasty AGM

The 2012 AGM of FRP&PH was held on Tuesday 27 March (apologies from your ed. for confusing the dates) and it was a bumper evening with a splendid array of speakers organised by our Chairman, Malcolm Kafetz.

First up was Simon Ovens, Chief Superintendent for Westminster and Commander of the Royal Parks Police.

While clearly the funding cuts meant reducing the number of staff policing the parks, each park would retain its own team. Happily the statistics he produced show that there was still no serious criminal activity in the park (That was before the recent apalling rape near the Broad Walk. Traffic offences far outweigh robberies and assault. He welcomed the passing of a Bill through Parliament which will enable the officers to issue a fixed penalty to unauthorised cyclists.

Colin Buttery, Director of Parks, was questioned on the budget cuts suffered by the Royal Parks but reported that the earnings from self-generated income were very encouraging. He was most gratified by the huge success of the allotment garden which has, of course, received funding from the FRP&PH.

The Royal Parks Foundation headed by Sara Lom, raises substantial funds for the Parks.

She talked inspiringly about its work and its projects. Her persuasive powers must tempt even the most jaded donor.

Finally to Andy Gordon from Company of Cooks who provided the delicious nibbles and cakes. The business has been running for 10 years with over nine locations and lots of choice in Regent’s Park. They even have their own bakery at Park Royal. But how does one cope when the numbers might vary from eight customers on a rainy Monday to 860 on a sunny Sunday? His company does.

opening time at the cow and coffee bean
Picture: Opening time at the Cow and Coffee bean

Another plea for help!

We need a new secretary for the Association.

This is a super job! The secretarial part is fairly minimal as it involves minuting committee meetings and the AGM and help with setting them up. But you are also invited to events, forums and discussions held by other similar organisations which will give you a greater insight into the workings of the Royal Parks in general, conservation issues and other issues which affect the park and its neighbourhood.
Diana Newman has been our stalwart for many years now and reluctantly has to stand down.

Please contact Judy Hillman, or Conall Macfarlane if you think you can help.

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The lost fountain

In 1871 the great philanthropist and patron of the arts, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, 1814-1906, presented a drinking fountain to the Regent’s Park. It stood just opposite the entrance to the Zoo. Sadly it no longer exists. Perhaps it was a rival to the one presented in 1869 by Mr Cowasjee Jehangir whose nickname was Ready Money.

the ready money fountain on the broadwalk
Picture: The Ready Money fountain on the broadwalk

The fountain was designed by Mr R Kevile and executed by Mr H Ross and the unveiling ceremony was spectacular. All the great and the good were there in the presence of the Prince and Princess of Teck, (parents of Queen Mary, wife of King George V) the Nawab of Bengal and Miss Burdett-Coutts who had not yet been ennobled! This fountain, erected by the metropolitan drinking fountain and cattle-trough association stands in all its glory today on the Broad Walk.

But what happened to the Burdett-Coutts fountain? The architect was a Scot, Henry Astley Darbishire 1825-99, who worked closely with Burdett-Coutts, and was the principal architect for the Peabody estates buildings, the first of which was the one at Spitalfields built in 1865. He also designed the cottage community, Holly Lodge estate in Highgate. Concerned about neglect of animals as well as mankind, Burdett-Coutts funded a fountain and statue in Edinburgh in memory of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who refused to leave his master’s grave. Other fountains and drinking troughs followed, with perhaps her best-known fountain at Victoria Park, Hackney, which was unveiled in 1862. It cost £5000 and is still in pride of place in the park.

burdett coutts drinking fountain
Picture: The Burdett Coutts fountain shortly after it was erected in 1871

Our fountain was much neglected and vandalised over the years and is no longer marked on the Ordnance Survey map of 1951. Neither the archives at Regent’s Park or Westminster have information about its demise. Do please contact the editor if you can shed any light on it.

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Tony Duckett on his new role in Richmond and Bushy Parks

Regent’s Park could not be more different from Richmond and Bushy. What they have in common is their popularity, particularly when the weather is fine. My new role is more office based. This involves taking the minutes at meetings and the challenge of data input on the computer which should not be too taxing after training.

The spring jobs in Bushy Park involve coping with the two problems which have been affecting oak trees for the last six years, namely defoliation by the oak processionary moth caterpillars and ‘acute oak decline’. The former has potential harmful effects on humans and other mammals. No one quite knows what is causing the latter but it is killing mature trees.

a pair of kingfishers
Picture: A pair of kingfishers

Birdlife in both parks is also different. Some species which one could approach in Regent’s Park, such as the grey heron, fly off as soon as you look at them. Due to the large amount of mature trees, there are plenty of woodland/parkland birds, as well as several pairs of the scarcest UK woodpecker, the lesser spotted woodpecker. I have also managed to capture a reasonable photo of a pair of kingfishers, something that I hadn’t been able to do in Regent’s Park. I am still managing to keep up to date with help from other observers and from my early morning and evening walks.

I still hope that the Royal Parks can find a way of funding my old position or making a new wildlife conservation officer role. (And so do we! Ed)

Tony Duckett

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In the gardens

North-easterly winds and rain have reduced the number of migrant birds observed. In the past month about 15 northern wheatear have been recorded feeding across the open spaces before they flew on to Northern Canada and Greenland.

Queen Mary’s Garden has been home to the tawny owls who have successfully nested and raised two young.

The old boathouse reedbed extension will be planted by volunteers through a new partnership between Royal Parks Foundation and The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. A mixture of species will be used including common reed, flag iris, galingale, glyceria and soft rush.

British native aquatic and marginal plants have now been planted around the lake in Queen Mary’s Garden. To help the plants get properly established protective fencing will be erected after planting to prevent grazing by waterfowl.

In the police box border the rose labels have arrived and have been installed. Check out the Mayflower, Bloomfield Abundance and Jubilee Celebration, amongst others, as they establish in their first season which has been greatly helped by the recent rain.

By Chester Road gates five standard roses have been planted, a variety of an English rose, glowing yellow and well-scented, called Graham Thomas, after the esteemed British horticulturist who was gardens advisor to the National Trust for many years.

The Allotment Garden

If you visit the garden on a Wednesday or Friday you may well meet Julie Riehl. She is French and did a Master’s Degree in Environment Analysis and Management at the European Institute for Environmental Consulting located in Strasbourg, France. It was here that she discovered Capital Growth which she joined in 2011 as an intern, recruiting and training their site support volunteers. She took over as Training and Volunteer Officer at Regent’s Park a few months’ ago when Amy left to go to the RSPB, moving from plants to birds. Julie has always grown fruit and vegetables wherever she has had space but her interest in community food growing really started during her travels in Australia and South Africa where she became involved in local projects.

choosing allotment plants
Picture: choosing allotment plants

The garden now has eight core volunteers, who work for half a day every week and look after one event per month. There are a further ten volunteers who are on duty at the extremely popular regular events held in the garden. In addition there are numerous sessions for the local Primrose Hill school children, some as young as five or six years’ old, who will have a chance to see how plants grow.

See For your diary for the next series of Open Days.

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Come to the Theatre

In its 80th season, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre presents two major productions, Ragtime the Musical and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing from 18 May to 8 September.

Tragic, poignant and ultimately triumphant, Ragtime is a modern classic based on the novel by E L Doctorow. Set at the turn of the 20th century, this powerful musical unites three families separated by race and destiny. Written by Terence McNally with music by Stephen Flaherty. Why not visit to listen to extracts from his amazing score.

Danger penetrates A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s Enduring story of young love. This new production features the theatre’s celebrated fusion of original music, by Olly Fox, movement and unique setting.

Productions are playing in repertory across the whole season, so visit, where you can download the 2012 production schedule.

crazy for you scene
Picture: Crazy for you, scene from last year's successful production

Following an extensive building project, the theatre opens a new box office, backstage facilities and theatre offices this season. As part of the project, a new covered dining area has been built where, for just £25, you can pre-book to be served dinner before the performance, with coffee and dessert served in the interval.

Friends of Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill can purchase best available seats for all performances* for just £22.50 (normally up to £42.50).
Bookings can be made in advance, but only in person at the box office in the Park (opening on 23 April). Please bring your membership pin as identification.

* tickets are sold subject to availability within price bands A – E, and exclude Saturday night. Tickets are sold subject to the theatre’s terms and conditions, including the weather policy, available at

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Zoo News

Saving Tiger Territory

If you’ve visited ZSL recently you’ll have spotted the start of building works for our fantastic new tiger home, Tiger Territory.

At over five times the size of the current tiger enclosure, Tiger Territory will be home to a breeding pair of Sumatran tigers, and will also give you the opportunity to find out how deforestation, poaching and human-tiger conflict have led wild Sumatran tiger numbers to plummet to fewer than 300. ZSL is working in Indonesia to save the Sumatran tiger, and our tiger keeper Teague Stubbington recently spent a month with the team to find out how his work here at London Zoo helps tigers in the wild. You can read his Tiger Tales at

Make your mark in Tiger Territory! Tiger Pawprints and Tiger Stripes recognise some of our most generous donors to our Tiger campaign, which supports the creation of Tiger Territory and the expansion of our work in Indonesia. To make your gift, visit

Zoo Lates Pimms and Penguins on a summer evening!

Zoo Lates are back again every Friday night in June and July, and promise to be even bigger and better than 2011’s sell-out success. There’s a packed schedule of animal talks and feeds to enjoy, including a Zoo-Latesspecial of the famous Penguin Beach Live demonstration. Providing temptation for the taste buds, the hottest foodies in town will be serving up a storm of culinary delights at the Zoo Lates’ International Street Food Festival, including popular vendors from the renowned Eat Street collective. And to entertain you between animal houses, enjoy Twisted Cabaret in the Amphitheatre and stand up comedy in the Aquarium. Tickets are available at, and please note this is an over-18s event only. (If you have young children or grandchildren, watch out for news of our special family weekend in September!)

The ZSL Animal Photography Prize closing date 30 June

ZSL launches the ZSL Animal Photography Prize 2012, a competition to find the most amazing animal photography in the world. With a £10,000 prize fund and plans for a stunning exhibition at ZSL in September, the competition aims to inspire amateur and professional photographers of all ages to get out and capture the magic of the animal kingdom. The seven categories include Last Chance to See, which encourages photographers to snap endangered species, as well a Mobile Magic category for photos of nature on the go and The Human Animal, which asks photographers to question exactly what it is that makes us animals. For full details and to submit your entries, visit

News from Penguin Beach

ZSL London Zoo’s most popular exhibit, Penguin Beach, has been at the centre of the action this spring. Keepers were delighted to discover the first eggs laid at Penguin Beach by our Humboldt penguins and are hoping for more to come. The eggs are checked very gently and once hatched, the keepers will watch the chicks’ progress carefully, and move them into our penguin nursery to find their water wings in the specially designed baby pool.

penguin beach
Picture: Penguin Beach photo ZSL

You can now follow our penguins on their very own webcams too. Get a bird’s eye view across the pool, or a the grace of penguins swimming with the underwater camera. At 11.30am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm you can even see the excitement of our packed-out Penguin Beach Live! talk. Just visit

We were delighted to welcome back to England recently ZSL’s very own Penguinologist, Dr Tom Hart, and his colleagues Dr Ben Collen and Gemma Clucas, from a season spent working in Antarctica to study the impacts of climate change, over-fishing, disease and pollution on penguin populations. The team carries out long-term population monitoring via time-lapse photography and DNA analysis of shed feathers to understand how populations and migration patterns are changing, and observe the penguin’s population composition and health. Tom, Ben and Gemma’s trip was made possible thanks to Exodus Travel, who donated places on their Antarctic cruises, so that guests also got to hear first-hand about ZSL’s cutting edge conservation work.

Carolyn Bennett, Development Manager ZSL

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For your diary

Saturday 7 July 11am-4pm The Royal College of Physicians Open day with exhibitions, lectures, tours of the building and gardens
Saturday 7 July Broadwalk Ballroom, Avenue Gardens
Sunday 8 July Tango Al Fresco, Avenue Gardens
Saturday 14 July Race for Life,Cumberland Green/pathways
Saturday 11 August Broadwalk Ballroom, Avenue Gardens
Sunday 12 August Tango Al Fresco, Avenue Gardens
Saturday and Sunday 18,19 August 2pm-5.30pm The Holme, for the National Gardens Scheme Admission 4.00, children free
Sunday 19 August Royal College of Physicians' garden, for the National Gardens Scheme
Saturday 8 September PUP Aid (charity to raise awareness of puppy farming), Primrose Hill
Sunday 9 September Klezfest (Klezmer in the Park) from the Jewish Music Institute, Holme Green
Thursday 11- Sunday 14 October Frieze Art Fair, Marylebone Green
20 September End of Season Review - time, date and place to be confirmed
27 July-12 August And watch out for the Olympics
29 August-9 September and Paralympics

How will the Olympic route network affect you?
The Hotspot will be around Lord’s Cricket ground where the archery will take place on 27 July-3 August. Around 6,500 people are expected at this venue
The roads designated as Olympic route network are Wellington Road, St John’s Wood Road, Lisson Grove, Park Road, Gloucester Place, Baker Street and of course Marylebone Road.

See the following link for advice on no parking or waiting areas

Allotment Open Days

Saturday 7 July 11am-4pm Open day: Ask the Experts.
Experts on site from The Royal Parks Guild, plus Metropolitan Police property marking and advice on allotment security, competitions and activities for all ages
Saturday 6 August 11am-4pm Open day: Ask the Experts.
Experts on site from The Royal Parks Guild, plus competitions and activities for all ages
Friday 19 August 11am-4pm Open day: Family day.
Fun for all the family, plus Metropolitan Police property marking and advice on allotment security
Sunday 25 September 11am-5pm Open day: Harvest Festival.
Lovely food cooked fresh from the garden, plus experts on site from The Royal Parks Guild, scarecrow-making workshop, and lots more!

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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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Site created on Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Thursday 28th June 2012.
Errors & Omissions excepted