Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 74

End of Season Review

All those present were delighted to see that our Chairman, Malcolm Kafetz, was returned to full health after his stroke earlier in the year. He thanked everybody for their support during that time and praised the care provided by the National Health service and Westminster Council. He outlined some of the changes which had taken place in Regent's Park & Primrose Hill since the last review, including on the spot fines for illegal cycling, littering and out-of-control dogs, improvements to the lake in Queen Mary Gardens and the re-design of the summit of Primrose Hill. He then welcomed Linda Lennon, the recently appointed CEO of the Royal Parks, as guest speaker, and emphasized the fact that her CBE could be correctly interpreted as standing for "congenial, bountiful and enthusiastic" as he had witnessed on several occasions.

Linda Lennon considers the Friends' groups to be a most valuable asset to the Parks and said that her appointment, which she took up in March 2012 is her 'dream job', as she is a lover of nature and keen birdwatcher. Of all the Royal Parks, Regent's Park is the most diverse in character and she praised the team responsible for both the Park and Primrose Hill. She had already visited Nick Biddle twice and was delighted to learn that the Discovery Trail to find Olympic Mascots dotted round the Park had been extremely popular and successful.

Linda then explained that although she was appointed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the newly chosen members of the Board responsible for overseeing the running of the Royal Parks were, in fact, appointments by the Mayor of London who has overall responsibility. Thus her job falls between two stools! She has inherited a budget which will be slashed in 2013 to £14.4 million from the 2006/207 figure of £20 million and will be reduced further in 2014 to £13.8 million. So the Parks will need to generate income. She realised that not all decisions made by the Parks would please everybody. One such income stream, more or less invisible to Park users, was the renovation and letting out, at a market rate, of buildings no longer used by the Park authorities. She would be delighted if Friends could come up with ideas - or introduce some generous benefactors! She stressed throughout that if anyone had any concerns they should contact either her or Nick Biddle.

Linda then accepted questions from the floor. What was her wishlist of projects? How about publishing a list of future events in the Park? The usual queries were raised about cycling as well as queries about permission for temporary structures such as those for Frieze Art Fair.

flowers that bloom tomorrow

Flowers that bloom tomorrow by Yayoi Kusama

Self-portrait as a rubbish bin by Michael Landy

(photo Ivor Kamlish)

Self portrait as a rubbish bin
bin art sign

Anne-Marie Craven, editor of the Newsletter, gave an illustrated talk on the various sculptures in the Park.

Finally Malcolm introduced Victoria Siddall who runs the Frieze Art Show which is in its tenth year. She informed us that although it is a trade show, 85% of the visitors were not buyers, but art lovers. Frieze Masters, a new event this year, was planned to complement the contemporary art. This year, in addition to the fee paid to the Park, Frieze sold postcards of the Park and T-shirts, the entire proceeds of which would be given to the Royal Parks. When asked if Friends could have a discount on the entry ticket, she agreed to put this into effect.

The meeting was adjourned and Friends were able to chat to the speakers, and enjoy the rest of the drinks and delicious food supplied by the Company of Cooks.

Angela Macfarlan


The Annual General Meeting is to be held on TUESDAY 12th March 2013 in St John's Wood Church Hall, Lord's Roundabout. NW8. Doors open at 6:30pm for a 7pm start.

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Out and About

Regent's Park won the 'Green Contribution to London' category of the London Lifestyle Awards beating the TFL Cycle Hire Scheme amongst others.

The Hanover Gate drinking fountain has been restored with the help of The Royal Parks Foundation supported by a donation from the Tiffany and Co. Foundation as part of a project to "restore and renew the ornamental and drinking fountains across London's eight Royal Parks - from old fountains that fascinate historians, to new and unique ones to delight modern architects and designers."

The New Lodge border has been replanted with species roses and shrubs to provide winter interest.

Two third-year apprentices, funded by a generous donation from the Friends of Regent's Park, have started work on the renovation of a shrubbery in the Secret Garden and the replacement of the failing horse chestnut trees in the northern parkland.

The pair of black swans were returned to the lake in Queen Mary's Gardens on Friday 15th December. They had fallen out with each other when removed from the lake project but are now successfully reunited.

bow-top fencing to be repaired

bow-top fencing to be repaired

All the bow-top fencing around the lake in QMG will be replaced while the fencing at the heather gardens is being comprehensively repaired. The eleven single variety rose beds have also been replanted with some varieties such as Easy Does it and Special Anniversary as well as old favourites like Sexy Rexy!

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The Allotment garden

"It is the best day of my life, I have learned so much", said Philip, aged 6, from Barrow Hill School on his first session in the garden on a visit this year. He was one of the 180 children who took part in the scheme to learn about planting seeds, growing vegetables, hunting for bugs, and even tasting, which was held on Wednesdays and Fridays from May to July. The Open Days were also very successful and a new pilot scheme was tried out for parents and children. Despite the terrible weather the Harvest Festival with free food cooked on site attracted 60 people. The food growing training sessions where for a small fee topics such as composting, or planning an organic vegetable garden attracted around 200 visitors. Let us hope that with the aid of its dedicated volunteers the garden is here to stay. The Friends will be supporting it again in 2013.

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Ragtime and the Dream

The open air theatre only staged two productions this summer, basically because of the Olympics. The impact on attendance was of course unknown and normally the annual musical would open at that period. It was decided therefore to run two shows during the season in tandem for several days at a time - A Midsummer's Night Dream and Ragtime.

Ragtime met with mixed reaction from my friends. It is not a jolly, happy, all ends well story. Set in New York and a comfortable suburb at the beginning of the twentieth century, the words 'nigger' and 'bastard' and 'immigrant' were used with antagonism and total lack of understanding by many people, ignorant and fearful then of the common humanity relatively accepted in today's rainbow world.

In other words, the musical's issues are equally relevant today if dressed up on stage in terms of pre-world war I clothes and down in terms of the detritus of urban poverty. America was even then a country which provided hope sometimes in the face of personal impossibility. The singing was strong and affecting, the tunes unmemorable. However the production, acting and issues will remain long in my mind. This was a tragedy which happened to be a musical.

The magical Dream

(Photo David Jenson)

the magical Dream

As for A Midsummer's Night Dream, how does any director find a new take? The park setting would of course seem ideal for the forest interlude and provided a magical backcloth for a massive flower-filled bank for Titania's deep sleep and her drug-induced revelries with Bottom transformed into an ass. But this beautiful world was merely an escape from gypsy caravans, one of which was whisked into the sky by an enormous crane, only to return for the plays final celebrations of now happy couples and the performance by Bottom's working men's troop of Pyramus and Thisbe. With its reminders of today's gaudy celebrity culture, it was an entertaining evening enhanced by lines which have become part of everyday English, such as 'ill met by moonlight' and 'the course of true love never did run smooth'.

Surprisingly perhaps, in view of downbeat weather for much of this summer, the open air theatre only had to cancel nine shows. The Dream turned out to be the highest attended Shakespeare performance ever and, to everyone's surprise, the company played to capacity audiences during the Olympic period.

Judy Hillman, Patron

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For your Diary

We can look forward in 2013 to:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel 16 May - 15 June
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen adapted for the stage by Simon Reade
- this celebrates the 200th Anniversary of the publication of the novel
20 June -20 July
A Winter's Tale, re-imagined for everyone aged six and over 29 June - 20 July
The Sound of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
- a first for this duo at the Open Air Theatre
25 July - 7 September

In 2013 the FRP&PH can purchase best available seats at £22.50 for all performances, excluding Saturday evenings (subject to availability) upon presentation of their badge. Friends have to buy their tickets in person at the Box Office, but in 2013 they can do this up to two days ahead of the performance.

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Frieze 2012

October was the month for Frieze Art Fair in the Park and once again it did not disappoint the visitor. It was a rich combination of artworks, films and projects both inside the marquees and in the park itself.

everything is connected

Everything is connected

(photo Ivor Kamlish)

One exhibit by Asli «avusoglu was structured as a real-time performance involving a professional crime drama crew and actors, in which an 'exhibition' scene from a presumed crime drama is being discussed and rehearsed transparently during the opening hours of Frieze. The project drew links between the role of evidence in a televised crime scene and real artworks justifying themselves in the sphere of speculation and invited special 'advisors' and visitors to participate in discussions with the professional cast and crew.

filming murder in three acts

Filming Murder in Three Acts by Asli «avusoglu

(Photo by Anne-Marie Craven)

White Snow Head by Paul McCarthy

snow head

A new addition this year was Frieze Masters. Housed in a bespoke temporary structure on Cumberland Green designed by Annabelle Selldorf it was an elegant and contemporary environment in which ancient and modern art was shown side by side, creating some fascinating combinations and contrasts.

what a load of rubbish

What a load of rubbish by Claire Fontaine

(photo by Anne-Marie Craven)

Alexander Calder

alexander calder

One artist, Ged Quinn, had a solo exhibition, Ghosts and Benedictions, of what appeared to be Dutch still life paintings until a closer look revealed modern metaphors and symbols making the works seem creepy and even subversive.

myth of the metals

Myth of the Metals by Ged Quinn

image courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery London

A magazine available on entry to the show contained a series of articles giving a contemporary interpretation of classical works.

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More memories of Primrose Hill

As a child I lived in the Primrose Hill area throughout World War Two. My earliest memory of the war was my first sighting of a barrage balloon floating above our house.

They were huge, silver-coloured, gas-filled balloons with tail fins and were positioned in vulnerable areas to act as obstacles to enemy aircraft. On asking what they were, I was told 'silver fishes in the sky, dear'. An answer which, young as I was, I didn't quite believe.

I can remember our little baize-topped card table bouncing whenever the anti-aircraft gun on the hill went off or a bomb fell in the area, and eventually my mother decided that we should sleep in the comparative safety of Chalk Farm Underground station. This was an exciting experience for a child, but when a bomb was dropped on Haverstock Hill and a broken gas main threatened the Tube, it was decided that we might be better off in our own beds.

Later we moved nearer to Primrose Hill itself and were bombed out there by planes we believed were aiming at the gun emplacement on one side and the main railway line from Euston on the other. Escaping gas threatened us here too. Our house was still gas-lit at the time and pipes had been pierced by the bomb. I can well remember picking our way in the dark down a broken staircase while well-meaning neighbours offered to light our way with candles! We were put up by friends and the following day my mother braved unexploded bombs by returning to the house to get some clothes for us both.

After our brief experience of the Tube we tried sleeping in surface shelters in the street. These were fun for kids. They had two-tiered bunks and little heaters where, if you put a kettle on at night it would be ready for you to make a cup of tea in the morning. Our shelter was given a pub sign 'The Cock and Pullet' which caused amusement to some.

After the bombers came the doodlebugs. These were then replaced by the rockets which were also unmanned flying bombs but were much faster and silent in flight. One fell on Primrose Hill while I was at school and I was reprimanded for nipping off for the afternoon to see if things were alright at home - they were.

Part of Regent's Park was taken over by the RAF for training. The personnel were billeted in Viceroy Court and other blocks of flats in the area. I still think of this when passing Viceroy Court on the bus and am reminded of the day when, as a child, I peered through the gates of the Open Air Theatre in the Park to watch a youthful Vera Lynn singing to a sea of young men dressed in light blue RAF uniforms.

The remains of the gun emplacement was left in position for a time after the War. I remember seeing the entrances to subterranean tunnels where my older cousin told me that dances were sometimes held. I also recall an underground air raid shelter in Chalcot Square where friends and I ran riot after school.

On the whole my experience of the war in Primrose Hill was more exciting than frightening. We children didn't fully grasp what the bombs and the bullets could do to people or what was going on in other countries. Today the area is more fashionable and more expensive than it was then and there is little to show now of the activities of those violent years.

Pam Lutgen (who sadly died in August 2012)

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Zoo News

On 22 November ZSL was delighted to welcome Usain Bolt to London Zoo, as the special guest at a fundraising gala held jointly with the Zeitz Foundation.

The gala dinner raised much needed funds for ZSL's efforts to conserve cheetah and African wild dogs and the landscapes that support them, and Zeitz Foundation's efforts to protect habitats and ecosystems around the world. Through a live and silent auction, with prizes including Bolt's running top from the 2012 Olympic 100m race, a money-can't-buy safari in Kenya and Tanzania with opportunities to accompany ZSL experts for cheetah and wild dog tracking, art by Isaac Julien and Chris Ofili, and unique London Zoo experiences, the evening raised over £175,000.

In the last 100 years, cheetah and wild dogs have been driven closer to extinction. As Africa's great landscapes have fragmented, the vast spaces these animals need to survive have shrunk to less than 10% of their former range. These icons of the African wilderness now struggle for survival alongside some of the world's poorest people. ZSL's range-wide conservation programme, led by Prof Rosie Woodroffe and Dr Sarah Durant, is focused on finding Africa-wide solutions to the threats they face and promoting better ways to sustainably manage the landscape, enabling the peaceful coexistence of people with cheetah and wild dogs.

Jae Jae new male tiger at the zoo. James Godwin

Jae Jae new male tiger at the zoo

Two new tigers have travelled more than 14,000 miles, courtesy of DHL, to ZSL London. Male, Jae Jae, four, came from Akron Zoo in Ohio, USA, and female, Melati, also four, from Perth Zoo, Australia. They should play an important role in the breeding programme for critically endangered Sumatran tigers. To help mimic the tiger's natural behaviour where a male approaches a female's turf, Melati arrived at the zoo first so that she could mark her territory ahead of Jae Jae's arrival. Both were accompanied by a zookeeper from ZSL with hand luggage of two gallons of water, and their in-flight meal was a tasty snack of 10lbs of meat. They will be the first residents of ZSL's brand new Tiger Territory when it opens in Spring 2013.

Carolyn Bennett, Development Manager

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Chaos ahead

HS2, or the proposed high speed rail project between London Euston and Birmingham, rolls relentlessly on. Many Friends and local residents around Regent's Park & Primrose Hill, apart from those whose property is affected by possible compensation and safeguarding, may feel it has little relevance. However, if the scheme goes ahead as presently conceived, it will change people's lives, particularly in terms of movement, around Euston for years to come.

proposed route
Proposed Route

Gloucester Avenue has set up an association which has been arguing the case, with detailed engineering plans, for shifting the route slightly to the east. Moving south to the junction of Regent's Park Road and Parkway, Delancey Street and Park Village East, the future is problematic as the route will run alongside and under buildings, as it enters the tunnel, including the York and Albany and the school on the corner. The area under greatest stress abuts Euston Station to the west and north including homes in three tower blocks, two hotels, a large part of St. James? Gardens and small businesses in Drummond Street.

Terms for compensation are out for consultation until January 31 (the web site: provides maps in volume 1 Greater London including the draft safeguarded area). Although the proposed terms are more generous than normal for major project works, they will do nothing to offset the disruption to many individual lives and the likely chaos for years in and disruption around the station and on Hampstead Road. So far there is no information on rehousing in a borough, let alone the local area, where there are no homes to spare. Camden was among objectors taking part in the judicial review at the law courts at the beginning of December.

Meanwhile the arguments continue about the need, economics and desirability of the link as a whole and, even if that is accepted, the siting of the terminus at Euston. Old Oak Common, near Wormwood Scrubs, has been suggested as an alternative for a new almost central London terminus, with the added advantage of potential major urban regeneration comparable to the Stratford Olympics site. It would also result in cost savings of 25 per cent of the first phase to Birmingham, mainly because of reduced tunnelling through the capital. Old Oak Common however plainly needs a new name to counteract the impression of a location in deepest suburbia, rather than an area of west London easily accessible to Heathrow airport and the city centre by Crossrail, which is now under construction.

Judy Hillman, Patron

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Friends generosity appreciated

Generosity letter
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New Secretary for friends of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill

New secretary for the Friends of Regent's Park & Primrose Hill A warm welcome to Linda Jones who has stepped into Diana Newman's shoes as our new secretary. Diana was a founder member of the Friends in the early 90s and has left to enjoy a well earned retirement. We wish her well and thank her for all her help.

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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 19th January 2013.
Errors & Omissions excepted