Views from the hill is the website for residents of the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate. The residents’ association has been active since 1960, and is for everyone who lives in the area.
None of this would have been possible without individual members of the Committee taking up traffic, planning, policing, and other matters on behalf of members. It also relies on the support of our members. With your help over the coming years, the Association can continue to maintain the community in which we live – please get in touch!
Fifty years ago, the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents’ Association (TLERA) was formed by local residents to oppose the construction of a tower block of flats on the summit of the Hill, the site now occupied by Horniman School. At the time of its formation, a large proportion of the residents were original occupiers of the many 1930’s houses built as the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate. The area was pleasant, and the houses had lovely gardens and wonderful views over London.
As a result of a well organised campaign by the Association, London County Council (LCC) refused planning permission for this development, but there then followed a series of further applications by various developers. It was not until 1966 that the Education Authority finally acquired the site to build the school. Soon after the first planning application for the Horniman Road site, came another high rise development proposal on the site of what was Honor Oak Station in Wood Vale. Although not able to prevent flats being built, the Association was successful in getting the height of the blocks reduced from fifteen storeys to eight.
Then as now , local people thought the character of the Estate was clearly worth preserving, and this view has been passed on to their successors over the years, with preservation of the character of the area remaining a major objective of TLERA. Following the early successes opposing undesirable planning developments, the Association’s objectives rapidly broadened to encompass the protection of both the built and the natural environment. Since our formation, we have continued to take a keen interest in proposed developments in the area as well as other issues such as traffic management, crime and policing, and broader environmental issues such as re-cycling). As one of the largest lobbying group in the Borough we have a long record of co-operative contact with Lewisham’s Planning and other Departments, the local Metropolitan Police team, and the Horniman Museum. TLERA also organises highly successive social events for members and has a thriving gardening club.
An update on some of these activities are reported in this newsletter, and over the next few editions we will be focusing on some of the more recent key successes of the Association, including a successful four year campaign to stop an extensive development of the old reservoir site enclosed by Canonbie Road, Horniman Drive and Liphook Crescent, and another long running campaign to reduce electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) output from the high powered radio transmitters on the mast in Horniman Drive which culminated in an 80% reduction in EMR in the area in which we live, and our children go to school.
None of this would have been possible without individual members of the Committee taking up traffic, planning, policing, and other matters on behalf of members. It also relies on the support of our members. With your help over the coming years, the Association can continue to maintain the community in which we live – perhaps for another 50 years?
How it all began
In 1960, residents received notification of a planning application to demolish houses at 40 and 42 Horniman Drive and build an 11 storey block of flats and 36 garages. Clearly, such a development would have been out of place among the largely detached and semi-detached houses built in the extensive grounds of Tewkesbury Lodge – a large house in Honor Oak Road near the bottom of Horniman Drive that had been demolished early in the 20th century. Concerned residents, led by Henry Broomfield, who lived at 32 Westwood Park, held a meeting to discuss the application, and agreed that a residents association should be formed so that collective action could be taken. Within a week, a letter of objection was drafted, signatures collected from owners of 105 households on the Estate, and the petition forwarded to a solicitor to submit on their behalf. At a meeting held at the Horniman Museum lecture hall six weeks later, the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate Residents Association was formed, with John du Fresne, who lived at 30 Horniman Drive, as chair.
As a result of the campaign, the LCC refused planning permission for the development. However, developers then acquired 38 and 44 Horniman Drive and submitted another application for 20 maisonettes and 7 houses. This was subsequently withdrawn, only to be followed by a further four applications over the next five years – all of them unsuccessful. The land was finally put up for auction in 1966, and a few months later the then Inner London Education Authority visited the site with a view to building a single storey primary school of 280 places. The school, named after Frederick J Horniman (1835-1906) who donated the Horniman Museum and Gardens to the residents of Lewisham, admitted its first pupils in 1971 and was officially opened by Rolf Harris in 1972.
A short history of the estate
Tewkesbury Lodge was a large house in Honor Oak Road that had extensive grounds covering part of the hill that gives Forest Hill its name. It was built in 1855, with a folly at the highest point of the garden of the Lodge added in about 1880. It is now in the back garden of a house in Liphook Crescent, and has a grade II listing.
Although little is known of the original owner, Charles Bayer occupied the house from about 1890, and by 1900 he had acquired land to the west and south of his property. He built Havelock House and Hamilton Lodge (now a nursing home) on this land for two of his children. As the founder of Charles Bayer & Co, a renowned corset manufacturer, his Victorian corsets were claimed to be “as easy fitting as a perfectly cut kid glove, with a complete absence of pressure upon the respiratory organs.”
During 1927, the London County Council proposed the creation of an open public space on the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate ‘by reason of the situation of the grounds… and the view obtainable from there’. It would effectively form an extension of Horniman Gardens. However, when Charles Bayer died in 1930, the developers moved in and demolished the Lodge. Building began a year later in what the Estate agents advertised the area as one of the best spots in London.
A sentiment that many of us would agree with some eighty years later!