Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 73

Phew what a summer!

By the time you receive this newsletter,the Olympics and Paralympics will have finished and London will be back to normal! The most thrilling event for me was experiencing (along with around 200,000 other spectators) the triumphant winning of gold and bronze medals in the Triathlon by the Brownlee brothers in Hyde Park. Not in our park for sure, but still in a Royal Park.

wenlock    rainbow mandeville

Pictured: Regent's Park is host to Union flag Wenlock and Rainbow Mandeville
Brownlee brothers
Pictured: Regent's Park Union Jack planting while the Brownlee brothers triumph in Hyde Park
union jack planting

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End of Season 'Revue'

Thursday 4 October 6.30 for 7pm, St John's Wood Church Hall, Lords Roundabout, NW8 7NE. Linda Lennon has kindly agreed to speak to us and your editor will talk about the art in the park.

60 Years Ago

2012 is Jubilee year for another royal family, as 60 years ago, on 11 May 1952, King Frederik and Queen Ingrid of Denmark attended the opening of the new home for the Danish church, the renovated and refurbished St Katharine's Church in Regent's Park. It was very appropriate therefore that their daughter, HM Queen Anne-Marie (of Greece), should open the hugely popular Church Summer Bazaar on 11 May 2012, exactly 60 years' later.

danish church st katherines precinct

Before moving to St Katharine's, the Danish church had been in Wellclose Square, just east of St Katharine's Dock, in Tower Hamlets. The first church, designed by the Danish architect, Caius Gabriel Cibber, was built in 1696 but sadly it was demolished in 1869 because of the decline of the Danish community in the area. Church services were subsequently conducted in the Swedish church in Harcourt Street and St Clement Danes in the Strand before moving to St Katharine's.

The church in Regent's park contains some of the original fittings rescued from the Cibber church and many royal coats of arms as it was originally built in 1829 to house the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, founded by Queen Matilda, which had to be relocated because its original site, just east of the Tower of London, had been requisitioned for the building of St Katharine's dock. Today the Foundation is in Butcher Row, a little bit further east near Limehouse, and is a venue for meetings, receptions and personal reflection.

In 1867 the Danish Seaman's Church in Foreign Harbours was established and has existed for many years in different locations. The last independent building of the Seaman's Church was functional until 1985. Now the Seaman's pastors both work at St Katherine's.

Did you know that Arthur Askey (1900-82), the great comedian, one of whose famous catchphrases was, 'Hello playmates', lived in Winfield House from 1951-June 1952?

1952 was also the twentieth anniversary of the Open Air Theatre, so it was an extra special year for the director and co-founder of the theatre, Robert Atkins (1886-1972), who mounted productions of As You Like It and Cymbeline. The programme noted: "Mary Kerridge will play 'Imogen', Tristan Rawson 'Cymbeline', David Powell 'Iachimo' and Leslie French 'Pisanio'. In the sunshine and in rain - there is a very nice covered tent, the Bankside Players will remain the faithful servants of their public."

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Penalties at last

penalty notice

Police officers are now able to issue £50 Penalty Notices for littering, cycling and dog fouling offences in The Royal Parks. The powers are already available to police officers in other parks and public spaces across the capital and will help police deal more quickly and efficiently with these three offences which are all breaches of The Royal Parks' regulations. Linda Lennon CBE, Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, said: "This is good news for those who visit the Royal Parks. The measure will help the police deal with the minority who can prevent others from having an enjoyable visit to our safe and clean parks." Simon Davis, Chief Inspector Royal Parks, said: "We want to maintain the safety and enjoyment of the Royal Parks for everyone. This will provide an effective means of dealing with the minority of people who flagrantly breach Royal Parks regulations."

About time too, say the Friends!

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Meet the committee

Conall Macfarlane

conall macfarlane

One of the interesting things about the committee members of the Friends of Regent's Park & Primrose Hill is the variety of interests and backgrounds from which they come. Conall Macfarlane was for many years a director of Christie's.

Owing to the war Conall was born in Hampshire, but spent all his childhood with his five brothers in the family home on Hamilton Terrace. After attending Westminster School he studied languages at Poitiers University and in Vienna, returning to London to follow his father into law. However he was much more interested in the world of art than law, so after a course at the V&A he joined Christie's, working initially on their front desk. Three years later (in his innocence) he thought he had accumulated enough knowledge of fine art to work freelance, and travelled all over Europe visiting collectors and dealers for whom he was the 'eye' on the London market. In the late 70s he returned to Christie's as a director in the valuation department.

Conall and his wife have lived in Primrose Hill since early in their marriage, but did not become seriously involved in the Friends until the struggle to prevent the building of 5-a-side football facilities in the Park. Conall is a firm believer in preserving Regent's Park and Primrose Hill as parkland. He sees their real value in the proven beneficial effects that the open space and tranquility offer their users, particularly as many of them live in flats. This means that the Parks can never 'pay for themselves', and he is concerned that their true value is lost as they are increasingly being exploited and abused for events, to the detriment of the public at large.

An almost daily user of the Park, Conall regards the areas left to grow naturally as an improvement and bonus, although he accepts that nature cannot be left alone in an urban context. He is concerned that the recent changes to Primrose Hill will have little effect on the drainage and erosion problems they were meant to solve. He also feels (in spite of being a cyclist himself) that the Parks are for pedestrians, and they now have to be protected from irresponsible cyclists.

Conall regrets that to date the government has allowed the Friends little influence on policy, and wishes that the authorities could understand that we are there because we care, not just to oppose them, and wish to preserve the immeasurable gift of the Crown. The Friends need to be vigilant, to catch early schemes that will abuse and forever change the Parks.

Margaret Elliott

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It is likely to cost 20p to spend a penny in one of the loos in Regent's Park and Hyde Park as the Royal Parks are seeking tenders from providers of cleaning services which
will allow them to make a charge for the toilets.

A spokesman for The Royal Parks said: "This is not about making money. We are not even breaking even. About eight million people use the toilets each year so it will be a sizeable contribution. The proposed charge of 20p is modest in comparison with the provision of similar facilities elsewhere in London with charges of 30p and 50p being common."

But do not worry too much yet, the charges will not come into effect until 2013 and they will not apply to toilets in children's playgrounds or facilities for the disabled.

Liquid gold

2012 has been the worst year ever for the bees. Because of the cold, wet weather, they have spent most of their time eating honey rather than going outside collecting it so total production is very low. Despite all this, the honey they have produced is absolutely delicious! They apologise for the delay but they were badly in need of some dry days to reduce the water content and there have been too few of them. They are currently strong but hungry as there are few nectar sources so a start will be made in feeding them. Hopefully they will then make it through the winter and be more productive next year. But the good news is that honey will be on sale at the End of Season Review on 4 October at £4 a jar. (Please bring the correct money)

Toby Mason. Regent's Park Beekeeper

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In the gardens

Ten single variety rose beds will be replaced in the autumn and the new lodge border will be newly planted in early winter with a mixture of species roses and shrubs.

tom moss-davies

An official opening of the lake should take place fairly soon to coordinate with the return of the pair of black swans which had been delayed because their territorial habits can be a threat to very young birds. This will be a good opportunity for the Friends to see how their money has been spent.

Andy Williams, Assistant Park Manager

And during World War II .....

Primrose Hill had a half-battery of 4.5 inch anti-aircraft guns, in a compound covering 13.5 acres. This consisted of four guns, with a command post, instrument pits, a slit-trench air- raid shelter, and other buildings and barracks. The militarised area was surrounded by fencing. Because the compound needed access roads, which interrupted the established paths across the hill, the installation also led to tarmac tracks and to new paths skirting the compound fences and allotments. A number of houses in Elsworthy Road were requisitioned to provide accommodation for the gunners. (Later in the war, some of the houses in the road were given over to Americans in the run-up to D-Day. No 35 housed an American Air Force general, whose thirty-foot high flagstaff remained in the garden until the 1970s.)

Remarkably, the diary of one of the men who manned the anti-aircraft guns on the hill has survived. Gunner Herbert Danks arrived on the hill from training in Wales in May 1940 and was on duty there for most of the time until February 1941. Born in 1919, Danks had joined the army the previous August. Included in his diary are two of his sketch maps, showing the installation at two separate dates, drawn in contravention to king's regulations. Both have the four guns surrounding a central command post and protected by slit trenches and by three light-machine gun posts (number 2 was manned by Gunner Danks). The last are only shown in the second sketch, which also marks the position of a searchlight. Underneath the command post was a dugout. A series of tents and huts to the north and south of the main path from Elsworthy Terrace were used for cooking, eating, washing and storage. By the time of the second drawing, dated 3 February 1941, an additional eight brick huts were being built, the mess tents were being used for storage, and a new combined canteen and mess hall was in the process of being completed.

On Sunday 3 November, Danks celebrated his twenty- first birthday in style:

There were about nine of us at the meal, which was held in the Spotters' Hut. The meal was all tinned stuff except for the hors d'oeuvres and the chicken. It consisted of hors d'oeuvres with a large choice of dishes, asparagus, soup, chicken, potatoes, peas and mixed vegetables, then fruit salad, both tinned and fresh, and biscuits and cheese and cigars. To drink we had a bottle of sherry, one of Chateau Graves and two of port wine. We then had a little sing-song and then we adjourned to the bar where we drank more port, etc, and then we joined a pontoon school ... At 11 p.m. I had to go on duty on the Command Post

It would be pleasant to think that the guns on Primrose Hill posed an effective deterrent to the Luftwaffe. They were, however, of little use during the early days of the Blitz, from 4 to 18 September 1940, when the German daylight raids were concentrated on the commercial and industrial areas of the East End and on the City, Westminster and Kensington.

The entire anti-aircraft defence force is credited with bringing down only fifty-seven German aircraft in the critical last three months of 1940. Primrose Hill, nevertheless, did capture one trophy, whether or not it was brought down by its own guns. This was a Junkers 88 which crashed, relatively intact, on the south side of the hill in October 1940.

Martin Sheppard (an extract from his book on Primrose Hill)

ack ack guns
Picture: Anti-aircraft guns on Primrose Hill Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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Primrose Hill

The sun did not shine on the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks, Linda Lennon, when she unveiled the new interpretation panel on the summit of Primrose Hill on 21 June 2012. Identifying a landmark building should no longer be a problem.

linda lennon

Zoo News


Behind the green hoardings opposite Gorilla Kingdom, Tiger Territory, our tigers' new home, is progressing rapidly, and there is now less than £500,000 left to raise for the new exhibit and to expand our tiger conservation programme in Indonesia. If you'd like to help, why not get involved with two fantastic events this autumn - the London Stampede and Roar with Laughter?

London Stampede - Sunday 16th September

Sprint, strut or stomp your way round this brand new 10k running event. The ZSL London Zoo Stampede 10k will be taking place on Sunday 16 September, giving runners a great chance to experience running through the Zoo before it opens to the public and taking in the scenery of the unique pathways of exotic animals, before entering the wilderness of Regent's Park. To enter, visit

Roar with Laughter - Saturday 6 October, Hammersmith Apollo

We'll make you roar with laughter, and in return, you're helping our work with tigers! If you're a comedy fan then we've got a treat for you. 'Roar with Laughter' promises to be a top night out, featuring cutting-edge talent including Phill Jupitus, Andy Parsons, Jon Richardson, Sarah Kendall, Richard Herring, Ed Byrne, Lucy Porter and Greg Burns. It's all happening on Saturday 6 October at the HMV Hammersmith Apollo. Tickets start from £25 and to book, visit

All in a day's work

The ITV film crew returned to ZSL London Zoo in the first part of 2012 for the second series of 'The Zoo', capturing behind-the-scenes tales from across the organisation. As well as lion dental checks, penguin egg hunts and sealion training, the cameras also caught up with some of the amazing breeding work going on away from visitors' eyes, including extinct-in-the-wild Partula snails and the first successful breeding of endangered frog tadpoles. The series was shown on ITV player in August but there will be repeats later in the year.

Mountain chickens - actually, they're frogs

The highlight of 'The Zoo' was the moment when ZSL's Curator of Herpetology, Dr Ian Stephen, revealed the first successful breeding of the critically endangered mountain chicken. These frogs are one of the most endangered animals on the planet, facing threats from habitat loss to overhunting (they were named 'mountain chickens' because they taste like chicken!) and the rampant spread of the chytrid fungus, which has crippled amphibian populations around the world. ZSL and colleagues from Durrell Zoo, Jersey and Parken, Sweden, rescued the last population of mountain chickens from Montserrat four years ago, ensuring the survival of the species. With 76 tadpoles born to just two females after four years of effort, Ian and his team are thrilled, and are working on long-term plans to release the young back into a protected and disease-free home on Montserrat once they are fully grown.

Olympic Gold

Visitor numbers during the Olympics were down considerably on last year, an estimated 30-40% as families were discouraged from venturing into London during such a busy period.

Carolyn Bennett, ZSL Development Manager

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Meet the CEPC gardeners

Kevin Powell is head gardener for the Crown Estate Paving Commission which he joined as assistant gardener in 2004. (Judy Fish is now the assistant head gardener). Kevin's father was an enthusiastic amateur gardener and encouraged his son to build his first fish pond when he was only 13. After leaving school he went to horticultural college and worked first for a local authority and then as a charge hand at Wakehurst Place which was a wonderful opportunity for him to meet real plants men. After receiving his Higher National Diploma at Greenwich, he then worked as contracts manager for a design and build company. He has his work cut out with the CEPC as there are 25 enclosures to look after, totalling 17 acres. But it is not all hard slog as students from Capel Manor come and help his team of 8 (is this correct?) gardeners from time to time with such things as perennials. Residents and visitors to the gardens at Park Crescent and over the road at Park Square East and West might be lucky enough to see, from time to time, a green woodpecker, a blackcap, increasing numbers of blackbirds and thrushes and even a hedgehog and a pheasant. Perhaps these have been encouraged to visit by the bird boxes erected on the many different trees to commemorate a much-loved dog of one of the residents.

kevin powell
Picture: Kevin in the gardens of Park Square

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For your Diary

Bike WeekBroadwalkThursday 20 September 4.30-7.30pm
Open HouseRoyal College of PhysiciansSaturday 22 September 11am-4pm
Allotment Garden Harvest Festivalcorner of Inner Circle and Chester Road Sunday 23 September 11am- 5pm, Celebration of the excellent work done throughout the year, supported by the FRP&PH. Julie has issued a special invitation to the Friends to join in the family activities and to eat some of the produce which will be freshly cooked during the day. Tasty pizzas will be cooked as well!
Frieze Art FairMarylebone Green Wednesday 10-Sunday 14 October. . Thursday-Saturday 12-7pm, Sunday 12-6pm. International contemporary art fair featuring 175 galleries, film shows and guided tours and pro. Tickets cost £27.00 (£20.00 concession) for one day, £70.00 for four days. Combined ticket with Frieze Masters (see below) £35.00 (£25.00) and £85.00 for four days
Frieze MastersGloucester Green Wednesday 10-Sunday 14 October. Thursday-Saturday 12-7pm, Sunday 12-6pm. Fair displaying art produced pre-2000

Help - Secretary needed

Join our committee

The secretarial work involved minuting committee meetings & the AGM - Help the Friends!

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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 Saturday 15th September 2012.
Errors & Omissions excepted