Friends of Regent's Park Newsletter 88

Sunset Boulevard in Chester Road

Sunset Boulevard

The newly planted 'Sunset Boulevard' cherry trees in Chester Road were given a warm welcome on 14 April by guests including the chairman of the Friends, the park's staff and gardeners who planted the trees and other interested parties. Hosted by The Regent's Park and Royal Park's Foundation, the band of the Grenadier Guards commanded the road, which was closed for the occasion and tea and cakes were offered together with speeches of gratitude to those who had funded the trees.

Friends' AGM

As the AGM was held on 21st April, the Queen's 90th birthday, the refreshments table was suitably decorated with Happy Birthday messages in red, white and blue, serving wine and nibbles to 100 Friends. Ianthe McWilliams, in her first Chairman's report, recounted representing the Friends at many meetings: preparing the friends' response to TfL's consultation on Cycle Superhighway 11; and a petition to the House of Lords against the High Speed Rail (HS2) taking over the Zoo car park for sixteen years to handle heavy construction lorries. She invited friends to say if they were keen to volunteer in the park, but response was minimal! The Treasurer's report mentioned donations given to support the allotment garden, to the Park, to buy ducks and a waterfowl identification board, and oak trees for Primrose Hill. The new chairman was formally elected and the Treasurer and existing committee were re-elected. The guest speaker, Martin Rowe, Assistant Park Manager, spoke interestingly about the Living Soils project to improve the soil in the Park, using a liquid concoction known as compost tea. There had been successful experiments in the rose garden and the delphinium beds. Colin Buttery reported progress in the creation of a new charitable body (as yet unnamed) from the Royal Parks Agency and the Royal Parks Foundation: its chairman should be appointed in June, with the first few trustees. Carl Drake, our dedicated police officer for Regents Park, told of the successful policing work on New Year's Eve of the 18,000 people on Primrose Hill; and how he had negotiated for police dogs to be exercised in the Park in the evenings, to increase the visible police presence.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

Both The Mail on Sunday and The Times have reported the objections by ZSL and the Regent's Park to the planned lorry depot for HS2 in the Zoo car park. Negotiations are continuing according to Nick Biddle, the Regent's Park Manager

Meet your committee

Robin Das

The Friends of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill treasurer Robin Das is one of our more international members. He was born in Edinburgh of Indian and Scottish parents, was raised in the Netherlands, went to University in Glasgow, and finally settled in the Primrose Hill area in 1997. Although then not members of the Friends, he and his wife regularly walked in the park and on Primrose Hill at weekends, and, weather permitting, walked through the park to access the West End.

When Robin started his own business, and expected to have some free time, he offered to use his banking background to help the Friends by taking on the treasurer's role from Richard Portnoy who wanted to retire. Family subscriptions remain just 10 and subscriptions may be paid by any means, but for ease of administration Robin would prefer those who can to pay by standing order.

As the parks become a charity and government funding reduces, Robin believes that the role of the Friends of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill is changing, and is not completely clear. Previously the Friends were a group to monitor the Royal Parks Agency, and put pressure on them when necessary, but now they will have to deal with many other interested parties. Some, such as the cycling lobby or the anti-HS2 supporters, are well organized; others are individuals or small groups, who approach the committee for help with particular issues. How much influence will these groups have on park matters and management in the future? Should the Friends also be involved with general, or more specific, fund raising for Regent's Park and Primrose Hill?

Obviously the parks will be managed more as businesses in the future, with more organized events. These, and increasing provision of sports facilities, will lessen the basic outdoor space available to the public. Robin believes that the parks will become busier, particularly at weekends, as the population increases and more and more people live and work in London and need this outdoor space. The Friends of Regent's Park and Primrose Hill must fight to preserve it.

NB At the moment, in addition to looking after the finances of the Friends, because he holds the database of members Robin Das is also acting as membership secretary. The committee used to have a member responsible for helping to recruit new members. Is there anyone who would be willing now to help Robin with this? The position can involve as little or as much time as you have available for, or choose to give to it.

Zoo news

Royal Visitors

ZSL London Zoo's most majestic residents were given a Royal welcome on Thursday 17 March - when our brand new Asiatic lion exhibit Land of the Lions was officially opened by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Lionesses Indi, Rubi and Heidi even showed their respect for our Royal guests - coming to within a whisker of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness in the exhibit's stunning 360 Temple Clearing. ZSL Director General Ralph Armond said: "We were delighted to welcome Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to ZSL London Zoo to open our new Land of the Lions exhibit. Her Majesty actually opened our previous lion enclosure 40 years ago and it was an honour to have her return with HRH The Duke in the year of her 90th birthday."

ZSL London Zoo is delighted to have secured a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for the development stage of restoring and modernising the Zoo's iconic Snowdon Aviary. ZSL plans to use the 301,000 grant to create a new habitat for residents and allow future visitors to get close to birds at ZSL London Zoo and explore their habitats.

A listed building and one of the Zoo's most famous structures, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of completion in 2015, the historic aviary stands proud and visible from Regent's Canal and Primrose Hill. Inspired by the graceful movements of flying birds, it was a unique structure for its time, conceived by Lord Snowdon and realised by the architect Cedric Price and structural engineer Frank Newby. When the exhibit was opened in 1965 it was Britain's first walk-through aviary, allowing visitors to get up-close to a number of birds. An application for a full grant of 4.8m will be made following the outcome of the initial development stage.

James Wren, Development Director, ZSL

The King's Troop

Kings Troop

Does anyone remember the short film The Troop directed by Marcus Dillistone and given its royal premiere in 1999, after which Her Majesty the Queen requested a loan copy to screen to her Christmas guests at Sandringham. The production company, Glory Film Co, is seeking funds to preserve the film by scanning and digitising it. If you would like to help contact Marcus Dillistone at

In the gardens

A new project is planned for the north-west boundary behind the large London Plane trees on Primrose Hill. To soften the look of the boundary wall, a feature will be created using British native trees and shrubs which will produce flowers, fruit and autumn colour. The scheme will also include three stump park benches and a couple of dog bins.

Mark Bridger, Assistant Park Manager

Maria Bell-Salter

Gentle Messenger

Maria Bell-Salter finds living near Regent's Park brings her close to a vital source of nature in the city and her work draws inspiration from this garden haven. As an artist, her colours are gentle yet exuberant and display a sensibility very much of our own time with a definite hint of the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

Tulip & Forget-me-nots

She studied in the United States and after obtaining her MA in Art History had her studio in Paris before returning to London in 2002. Maria's work is in many private collections worldwide and her last London show was at the Mall Galleries. When not painting she is London Regional Chairman of The Art Fund and primarily involved in fundraising by planning and overseeing over 100 events each year.

Playing in Springtime

For Your Diary

Open Air theatre Production Dates

Henry V 17 June - 9 July by William Shakespeare
Jesus Christ Superstar 15 July - 27 August lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Pride and Prejudice 2 -17 September by Jane Austen, adapted by Simon Reade

For further details and booking ... Note Friends get discount check on this.

Other Dates

WhatWhenWhere and Info
Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School 1 May 30 September Prices start from 24.00,
Sweeney Todd 7 10 July Royal Academy of Music, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN,
Medicinal plant lecture: When Britain ruled the waves 18 July 13.30 - 17.00 Royal College of Physicians,
Metropolitan Police dog day 6 August Primrose Hill
The first Marylebone Festival Monday 18 Sunday 24 July A series of lunchtime and evening concerts at St Marylebone Church. Tickets 5 (lunchtime) and 10 (evening),
Australian Youth Music Group 3 July 15.00 16.00 Regent's Park Bandstand
Caldicot School Free tennis for juniors 16 July 17.30 18.00 Will to Win Tennis centre offers free walk on access Monday to Friday 3-6pm for all those 16 years old and younger. Check with reception before using courts. Or contact the centre to find out about tennis coaching.
Friends of Regent's Park & Primrose Hill End of Season Review 6 October 2016 No details yet

Field Studies Council

Marvellous meadows 28 July 10.30am 12.30pm for families
Surviving with nature 4 August 10.30am 12.30pm for families
Birds 11 August 10.30am 12.30pm for families
Conservation in the Regent's Park 18 August 10.30am 12.30pm for families
Trees 25 August 10.30am 12.30pm for families
Magnificent minibeasts 1 September 10.30am 12.30pm for families
An Introduction to bats and their natural history in the Regent's Park 3 September 1pm - 9pm .
Discover autumn 17 October 10.30am 12.30pm for families

For further information ... and...

Appeal for help

At the moment, in addition to looking after the finances of the Friends, because he holds the database of members Robin Das is also acting as membership secretary. The committee used to have a member responsible for helping to recruit new members. Is there anyone who would be willing now to help Robin with this? The position can involve as little or as much time as you have available for, or choose to give to it.. Anyone who wishes to put themselves forward should approach Ianthe McWilliams or Robin Das.


Technical Help

Technical note for our readers - if the font used is too small please use the zoom feature on your browser (if available) to adjust the size (typically Control-key and "+" symbol) as much as you need.

Welcome to our touch-compatible style site

Use the touch-friendly grey navigation buttons in the left column to jump directly to sections within this page and any of the buttons to return the to top of this page or the to visit the main index page which provides information on how to join the Friends of Regent's Park. The next section provides contact links for committee members...

Friends of Regent's Park & Primrose Hill

Contact Links

Ianthe McWilliams -
Robin Das -
Anne-Marie Craven -
Neil Manuel -

Site created on Friday 25th February 2011, last edited Monday 27th June 2016.
Errors & Omissions excepted