Vauxhall Society Schools Art Competition: Celebrate Vauxhall Bus Station

Local primary schools within walking distance of the Bus Station were invited by the Vauxhall Society to submit paintings or drawings of Vauxhall Bus Station, which is under threat of closure, to celebrate this extraordinary building.

Four primary schools submitted entries: Ashmole, St Mark’s, St Stephen’s and Wyvil. Kate Hoey MP presented the prizes at an event at Wyvil School on the afternoon of 7 May. They will be on display at the Tea House in Vauxhall until Friday 9 May and on the Vauxhall Society website.

Fifty-six entries were received. Entrants were asked for two pictures: one of the bus station and a self portrait. Some entries came from children from Reception or year 1 children, others were by children aged 8-10.

Robin Mason, Head of Painting at the City and Guilds London Art School in Kennington School, judged the competition.

The competition was sponsored by Winson & Newton and Great Art, who have each donated painting materials, and The Vauxhall Society.

City and Guilds London Art School donated the main prize to our winners. This is an opportunity to spend time in the Art School, experiencing some of the life of an art student. The day will be organised by Amanda Callis, who runs the Cool it Art Project at Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre. Amanda is herself a graduate of the City & Guilds Art School.

The awards go to:
Infants’ competition
Highly Commended: Anna Zhang, age 5, St Mark’s Primary School and Oscar Coco, age 5, Ashmole Primary School.
Runner up: Leo Mark, age 5, Ashmole Primary School.
Winner: William Peters, age 4 years and 10 months, St Mark’s Primary School.

Juniors’ competition
Highly Commended: Bruno Cavaca, age 10, Wyvil Primary School and Angel Joseph, age 10, St Stephen’s Primary School.
Runner up: Mara Costa, age 9, Wyvil Primary School.
Winner: Tania Ali, age 10, St Stephen’s Primary School.

A King in Vauxhall: Vauxhall playwright Sharon Jennings comes home in May

Sharon Jenning’s latest play, The King Must Lie, is transferring to Kennington’s White Bear Theatre from 27 to 31 May after an audience-pleasing run at Westminster Cathedral Crypt. The King Must Lie is a standout piece of theatre, entertaining, accomplished writing, and sharp acting that sets a cracking pace as Leicester and York dicker over where Richard III’s newly-discovered bones should be interred. One interested party who for obvious reasons isn’t being consulted is Richard himself, until that is, he makes his appearance, wandering in and out of the argument ‘to tell us what he thinks’. Sharon’s writing thrives on ‘awkward situations’ and her fascination with ‘the way in which the past is viewed and treated by the present’. This is history and argument that treats the subject (and the audience) with intelligence and good humour.

For show times visit the White Bear theatre

138 Kennington Park Rd
SE11 4DJ 020 7793 9193

info@whitebeartheatre.co.uk

Who says Saving Vauxhall Bus Station means nothing can be done about the Vauxhall Gyratory?

The nonsense count is creeping up dangerously high in Vauxhall as we near the Lambeth Council Elections (22 May).
First, one party, Labour, claims that their main rivals, the Lib Dems, are mounting a pre-election political campaign to ‘Save the Bus Garage’.

This claim is twaddle. The Lib Dems, like the Tories, want to save Vauxhall Bus Station, not the Bus Garage. So too do the Tories, and the all-party-and-none Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign. The garage is a mile away in Stockwell, has been since 1952 and, unlike the bus station, is not under threat.

Saving Vauxhall Bus Station may be an election issue, but it’s not a political one, except insofar as Lambeth’s Labour majority has published proposals to demolish the bus station it to make say for a ‘high street’ or ‘town centre’. The bus stops would be dispersed all over the place.

There is wide non-political, community support for keeping the bus station and, campaigners find, even among Labour voters. The apolitical Vauxhall Society sponsors the Save Vauxhall Bus Station community campaign with publicity, posters, leaflets, events – and an online petition. Signatures broke the 1,000-barrier in a few weeks.

Second, another Oval Labour claim – that saving the Bus Station ‘might see the gyratory removal taken off the table’ – is also twaddle. Vauxhall Bus Station and the Vauxhall Gyratory, the vast one-way traffic roundabout circling the bus station, are two different matters. A vote for one need not be a vote against the other.

The Labour London Assembly Member Val Shawcross says Vauxhall Bus Station is not an issue until Transport for London rules (after the 22 May election) whether two-way traffic is ‘feasible’ if the bus station is kept.

This too is twaddlesome. You can have both bus station and two-way traffic at Vauxhall, if the political will is there,and not mesmerised by the thought of how many more skyscrapers Lambeth/TfL could cram onto a cleared Bus Station/Vauxhall Underground Station site. Many people who might happily support a rejigged Gyratory would just as happily leave it as it is if the price of change were demolition of the bus station.

The Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign is not only apolitical; it is not even about the future of the Gyratory, upon which views differ widely, even among bus station supporters. Lambeth’s own consultative body, The Kennington Oval and Vauxhall Forum, of which TVS is a member, is now calling on TfL to consult Lambeth people before, not after, the Gyratory/Bus Station studies are published. Fat chance.

The Vauxhall One May Walk: Thursday 15 May – When Vauxhall was ‘A nice place in the country’

Cows in a field next to the South Lambeth Chapel in South Lambeth Road. The chapel was built in 1793 on land leased from John and Sarah Bond. The cost of £3,000 was funded by selling shares entitling the holder to four seats, with the remaining seats being leased to those approved of by the governing body. However, the arrival of the railway to Nine Elms and the Phoenix Gas Company made the area less desirable to wealthy parishioners and the chapel's fortunes declined. It was badly damaged by fire in 1856 but reconsecrated as St. Anne's in 1869. The church was enlarged in 1876 to the designs of R Parkinson, but damaged by a bomb in 1941.
Watercolour by G. Yates, dated 1825
Cows in a field next to the South Lambeth Chapel in South Lambeth Road. The chapel was built in 1793 on land leased from John and Sarah Bond. The cost of £3,000 was funded by selling shares entitling the holder to four seats, with the remaining seats being leased to those approved of by the governing body. However, the arrival of the railway to Nine Elms and the Phoenix Gas Company made the area less desirable to wealthy parishioners and the chapel's fortunes declined. It was badly damaged by fire in 1856 but reconsecrated as St. Anne's in 1869. The church was enlarged in 1876 to the designs of R Parkinson, but damaged by a bomb in 1941. Watercolour by G. Yates, dated 1825

Cows in a field next to the South Lambeth Chapel in South Lambeth Road. The chapel was built in 1793 on land leased from John and Sarah Bond. The cost of £3,000 was funded by selling shares entitling the holder to four seats, with the remaining seats being leased to those approved of by the governing body. However, the arrival of the railway to Nine Elms and the Phoenix Gas Company made the area less desirable to wealthy parishioners and the chapel’s fortunes declined. It was badly damaged by fire in 1856 but reconsecrated as St. Anne’s in 1869. The church was enlarged in 1876 to the designs of R Parkinson, but damaged by a bomb in 1941.
Watercolour by G. Yates, dated 1825

The Vauxhall One May Walk: When Vauxhall was ‘A nice place in the country’

Vauxhall? A nice place in the country? Well, once upon a time it was and it wasn’t. Smoke-making industries like pottery and glassmaking had been busy along the riverside from at least the seventeenth century, but they were only at the fringe of a big market- and pleasure garden district inland, feeding and amusing the people of the growing city on the far bank. There were country houses here, as well as holiday homes and trysting-places, away from the disease and stink of a London summer. But that was before the London to Southampton railway reached Vauxhall in 1838. The September walk is funded by Vauxhall One, organised by The Vauxhall Society and your guide is Lambeth Archivist Len Reilly, the very man to give you the lowdown.

Your guide: Len Reilly of Lambeth Archives.

15 May 2014 @ 12:30pm – 1:30pm

It’s free, but you must book. To book your place and check where to meet, email info@vauxhallone.co.uk or visitwww.vauxhallone.co.uk where you can also find out lots more about what’s happening in Vauxhall.

St Peter’s and 308 Kennington Lane – where a little of the original Vauxhall Gardens lingers to this day

The Italian Walk, Vauxhall
Vauxhall Gardens: The Neptune Fountain 1849

Vauxhall Gardens: The Neptune Fountain 1849

It’s a popular Vauxhall assumption that 308 Kennington Lane, next to St Peter’s Church, had something to do with the Vauxhall Gardens pleasure resort that closed in 1859. The art historian David Coke explains exactly what in a chapter he was written for a Vauxhall Society project, a forthcoming new history of St Peter’s. You don’t have to wait for the book to see the chapter, a preview of which is now in TVS’s online local history archive.

The new history of St Peter’s is being edited by TVS’s Tim Clifford and complements the 1991 David Beevers study, also a TVS project. David Coke, a TVS member, is the co-author with Alan Borg of the magisterial Vauxhall Gardens: A History (2011). David confirms that 308 Kennington Lane was built in 1793-4 for Margaret Tyers (c.1722-1806), the widowed daughter-in-law of Jonathan Tyers, the visionary entrepreneur who relaunched Vauxhall Gardens in 1732. The new church was consecrated in 1864, whereupon No. 308 became the parsonage. David Coke, however, disputes other aspects of the legend attaching to 308 Kennington Lane.

One claim, made in the 1983 edition of Pevsner’s London 2; South, is that the church’s high altar stands on the site of the Gardens’ Neptune Fountain. Not so, says Coke. The altar stands more or less on the same spot as the 1823 ‘Moorish Tower’, focus of 19th-century Vauxhall’s spectacular firework displays. And, incidentally, of a putdown in Sketches by Boz; Dickens calls the Moorish Tower ‘that wooden shed with a door in the centre, and daubs of crimson and yellow all round, like a gigantic watch-case!’ Coke records a spectacular change of use with St Peter’s nave, which stands on a corner of the wooded avenue called the Lovers’ or Druids’) Walk, which offered chances for ‘virtue to be endangered’ and where ‘the reputations of young ladies could so easily be lost’. By 1859, however, the 12-acre Vauxhall Gardens site was worth more as a development opportunity than as a place of entertainment. The wreckers moved in, and much of the site was given over to dense housing.

The church still owns 308 Kennington Lane.  It was a vicarage until the 1980s, and for a while two successive communities of nuns lived there. The property is now divided between St Peter’s House, a lay community of six people, living together and committing to a shared life and regular rhythm of prayer, and the St Peter’s Centre for Meditation and Peace, which hosts meditation and prayer events.

Lambeth Ragged School – how Lambeth led the way

Lambeth Ragged School - Newport Street

Lambeth Ragged School – Newport Street

History is where you find it, and a visit to the Tea House Theatre teashop in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens recalls one of the more savoury chapters in Vauxhall’s history. No, not the celebrated Vauxhall Gardens pleasure resort on this very spot (1660s-1859) but the part Vauxhall played in origins of free, primary-school education for all, in what became known as the Ragged School movement.

On the Tea House Theatre bookshelf is a battered bound copy of The London Journal and Weekly Record of Literature, and Art Journal for 1848. The London Journal, ‘Price One Penny,’ is a scissors-and-paste job throwing together items from French as well as British current affairs, and is perhaps in itself evidence of a growing literacy and hunger for knowledge. The 15 July 1848 issue carries a report of a debate at Westminster on 6 June in which Lord Ashley proposed that the Government should ‘improve the condition of the lowest, and most to be pitied, as well as feared, of our fellow citizens.’

Ashley said that 500 girls and 500 boys should be taken ‘every year from the ragged schools’ for ‘transplant’ to Australia at the public expense. These ‘transplants’ would not be the hard cases, but the well-behaved and willing to learn. The idea apparently was to save them from the street life outside.

Ashley looked at the books of 16 schools, attended by 2,345 youngsters between the ages of five and 17. Of these, 162 ‘confessed’ that they had been to prison, many of them several times. 116 had run away from home, and 170 slept in lodging houses, ‘the nests of every abomination that the mind of man could imagine.’ 253 lived by begging, 216 had neither shoes not stockings, 249 had never slept in a bed, and many had lost one or both parents.

By the 1840s, the industrialisation of Vauxhall and elsewhere led to such increases in population that many children went without schooling, either because their families could not afford it or because demand outstripped what existing charities could supply. ‘Ragged Schools’ sprang up in poor districts, often in stables, lofts and railway arches, where local working people and well-wishers taught reading, writing and arithmetic on Sundays.

In 1849, Henry Beaufoy, owner of the distillery that is now Regent’s Bridge Gardens, established the ‘Lambeth Ragged School’ in Newport Street, where children had once been taught in one of the railway arches. Free, compulsory primary education came in after the Education Act of 1870.One-third of the building remains, home of the Beaconsfield art gallery. The Lambeth Ragged School also taught children a trade and in time morphed into the former Beaufoy Institute technical school around the corner in Black Prince Road.

House of Lords Archivist Simon Gough has kindly provided this link to the 1848 ‘transplant’ debate:

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1848/jun/06/juvenile-population#S3V0099P0_18480606_HOC_4

Further reading:

Barbara Kerr, The Dispossessed (1974)

Ross Davies, Vauxhall: A Little History (2009)

 

Save Vauxhall Bus Station – the politicos have had their say; on 22 May you can have yours

motion10-lib-peck

motion10-lib-peckAhead of the council elections on 22 May, candidates of Lambeth’s majority Labour Party still won’t say that Vauxhall Bus Station is safe from demolition if their party is re-elected. The Tories and Liberal Democrats are on record as saying the bus station is safe with them.

Spooked by what Labour calls ‘scaremongering ahead of the local elections in May’ the Labour party is now waffling. Transport for London, Labour’s partner in the proposed demolition of the bus station, is – Labour now says – ‘exploring’ an option that ‘preserves the central bus station function’ (whatever that means). ‘Preserves the central bus station function’ is a fudge, a playing-for-time mechanism. Like the latest ‘pledge’ on an EU referendum, it means anything that the fudger says it means. The ‘option’ will be unveiled in the Autumn, after the election.

Compare this ‘bus station function’ fudge with what Labour Leader Lib Peck set down in black and white in the Council minutes for 29 January 2014, on a motion that called for a consultation that, in advance of any ‘irrevocable decision,’ would include an option for the bus station to stay.

This is Motion 10, on p15 of the Minutes (see below) which in the Lambeth Labour leader’s hands, is stripped of any commitment to consult ‘Vauxhall commuters’ (who far outnumber Vauxhall residents), as well as any reference to an option to keep Vauxhall Bus Station. Labour, however, added a lot of guff to the motion about a ‘vibrant district centre’ which, like ‘central bus station function’ means whatever the guffer says it means. How politicians can lend their name to vapid PR/ estate-agentspeak like this tells you more about politicians than about ‘vibrant district centres’.

Do read the rest of the 29 January Minutes, and see what’s being said and done in your name and at your expense on matters that concern you and your neighbours.

Meanwhile, the ‘scaremongering ahead of the local elections in May [22]’ goes on regardless of the guff.

  • The cross-party, all-London online petition to Save Vauxhall Bus Station is heading for its 1500th signature.
  • Vauxhall Bus Station is now under consideration for an English Heritage Listing, supported by The Twentieth Century Society.
  • Vauxhall’s recently reselected Labour MP Kate Hoey is a vocal supporter of the bus station.

Lambeth Council candidates, especially Labour ones, will be plagued at the hustings. The Vauxhall Society is apolitical, and so is the Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign we sponsor. Labour alone, the majority party in Lambeth Council, voted to demolish the bus station. Even now – a month before the elections – the party won’t or can’t be straight with people.

Read the full minutes of Motion 10 (p15) of Lambeth Council for 29 January 2014

 

Still at risk: ‘Vauxhall Bus Station must go!’, says Council leader

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook‘The [Vauxhall] bus station will be replaced.’

So says the Deputy Leader of Wandsworth Borough Council, Jonathan Cook, as The Vauxhall Society’s all-party, capital-wide Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign online petition heads for its 2,000th signature.
Contacted by a constituent asking for Wandsworth Council to oppose Lambeth’s ‘extraordinary proposals to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station’, Cllr Cook replied on 7 April:

‘The proposed changes are part of the continual upgrading of local transport, as the Nine Elms regeneration gathers pace, and will improve Vauxhall Cross as an effective interchange, which is clearly essential as you note.

‘The [Vauxhall]bus station will be replaced with a series of relocated bus stops, facilitating efficient bus routes to and through the area. Improvements will result in a much more pedestrian-friendly environment and better access throughout the entire area.

‘I happened to walk through yesterday, on my way from Victoria to Nine Elms, and was struck by the bus station itself, which I’m afraid I’ve never much liked from an aesthetic point of view, but also how very pedestrian- unfriendly the Vauxhall Gyratory vicinity is.

‘In my experience it’s not much better from a driver’s perspective. In addition, the changes should improve traffic flow for those living in the borough, immediately to the east of the area.

‘I hope this helps clarify the plans, and reassures you that the changes will bring improvements, and certainly no loss of service to transport users.’

Cllr Cook’s constituent, Christopher Mitchell, says: ‘I fail to see how relocating the bus stops will improve Vauxhall Cross as an effective interchange. It seems to me once again that the convenience of ordinary London users of public transport is to be sacrificed to the interests of the developers of tower blocks.’

Conservative-controlled Wandsworth wants to be connected to the London Underground. Wandsworth needs the support of neighbouring Labour-controlled Lambeth if TfL is to extend the Northern Line Tube from Kennington (in Lambeth) into Wandsworth.

To reach Wandsworth, TfL will have to dig up a lot of Vauxhall, and is counting on Lambeth footing part of the uncosted bill for building the ‘Northern Line Extension’.

Alarmed by the widespread community and cross-party opposition to Lambeth Labour’s resolve to demolish the bus station, TfL has now called off public consultation until after council elections on 22 May in case the issue costs Lambeth Labour re-election.

TfL is also now offering a ‘save-the-bus station’ option, although Lambeth prevaricates. The Lib Dems and Tories (In Lambeth, but not, it seems, Wandsworth) say Vauxhall Bus Station must stay.

Does Cllr Cook know something about TfL and Lambeth’s intentions that the voters don’t, or is it just that he doesn’t get out much?

As well as his council’s Deputy Leader, Wandsworth’s Jonathan Cook is also ‘Cabinet’ member for ‘Environment, Culture & Safety’. A financial services lawyer, at the last election an interest of Cllr Cook’s was listed as Director and Practice Manager of his wife’s law firm,‘a boutique [....] specialising in funds and fund management’.


Who is Wandsworth’s Cllr Jonathan Cook?

Wandsworth Borough councillor profile

Wandsworth Borough register of interests

 

‘Dismal plans for a pox of hundreds of new and dimly-designed skyscrapers defacing London along the Thames…’

Another 236 towers of 20 to 60 storeys are proposed for central and inner London, this under a Mayor who before his 2008 election pledged to limit tall buildings. Now that it’s too late and speculators’ skyscrapers already hog the skyline from South Bank to Vauxhall and on to Nine Elms and Battersea, the planning and architectural writers are loud in lamentation. Here’s a selection of current comment:

‘Anyone who remembers what it was like trying to change buses at Vauxhall before the Bus Station was built will be horrified’

‘Anyone who remembers what it was like trying to change buses at Vauxhall before the Bus Station was built will be horrified. You took your life in your hands trying to get across the streams of traffic from one bus stop to another or to or from the Underground; at night, the area was a muggers’ paradise…’

…so writes The Brixton Society. Such is the public outcry at the determination of Lambeth Council’s Labour leader, Lib Peck, to sweep the bus station away that autumn’s consultation on the rejigging of the Vauxhall may now contain an option to save Vauxhall Bus Station. Now the Bus Station’s enemies are spooked, however, the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign, will not subside but redouble.

Experience shows that you cannot trust Lambeth or TfL ‘consultations’. This one should not be confined to Vauxhall, and must be Lambeth, Wandsworth and Southwark-wide at the very least. Unless continually goaded, Lambeth and TfL will exploit the public’s ignorance, for although people from all over London use Vauxhall Bus Station, both Lambeth Labour Leader Cllr Lib Peck and her TfL ally, Peter Hendy, are keen to shrink its destruction to a tiny local issue. Second, what happens if Labour remains the Lambeth Council majority party and Cllr Peck remains Labour Leader after May 22’s Council elections? Even if the results of the ‘consultation’ cannot be massaged (as with the Northern Line Extension), Lambeth can shuffle the paperwork to claim that the bus station issue is exempt from liability to a Public Inquiry. A redoubled Save Vauxhall Bus Station makes that claim a very, very risky legal and public-opinion option, and the redoubling of the campaign is already under way.

Meanwhile, support continues to grow beyond Vauxhall itself. Alerted by The Vauxhall Society, the Battersea Society now says ‘The Battersea Society supports the retention of the Vauxhall Bus Station and transport interchange.’ We also tipped off The Brixton Society to the Council’s stealth attack on Vauxhall Bus Station.

‘Anyone who remembers what it was like trying to change buses at Vauxhall before the Bus Station was built will be horrified,’ the Brixton Society website now says, ‘You took your life in your hands trying to get across the streams of traffic from one bus stop to another or to or from the Underground; at night, the area was a muggers’ paradise.’

Once The Vauxhall Society alerted The Brixton Society to the harm Lambeth and Transport for London intend, the Brixton committee voted unanimously to warn their members and urge them to sign the Save Vauxhall Bus Station campaign online petition chn.ge/1gdL7Rd.

If people in Brixton, HQ of Lambeth Council, did not know that Lambeth/TfL are up to, the message has to be ‘Tell everyone you know what Lambeth and TfL are up to – or else Vauxhall Bus Station gets it!’ Meanwhile, from Vauxhall itself, someone else with a long memory, resident Viv Aylmer, has sent an open letter to Peter Hendy, Commissioner for London Transport, and Lambeth Labour Leader Lib Peck’s ally in threatening Vauxhall Bus Station.

Viv writes:

Dear Peter Hendy

Decades back I was one of the community who campaigned for PEOPLE to be considered as well as traffic at Vauxhall.

Please put a stop to all this nonsense about demolishing Vauxhall Bus Station. Try getting a bus in Brixton High Street and then compare it with Vauxhall Bus Station, as there really is no comparison.

Please abandon the plans to demolish Vauxhall Bus Station. You are clever enough to produce a new traffic layout at Vauxhall without demolishing the bus station.

DON’T DEMOLISH IT – IMPROVE IT!! For a start, how about a new bus arrivals indicator?

Yours exasperatedly

Viv Aylmer

Local resident and Public Transport User

Read on for the views of The Brixton Society and The Battersea Society