Kennington Choir: Let the natural viagra people sing

kennington choir

The Tate South Lambeth Library is a good place to be this Friday night (27 March) and indeed any night The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library are staging an event.

First, there’s the event itself, guaranteed absolutely politician/general election–free. Then there’s a bonus, an appearance by the Kennington Community Choir. You can join if you like.

What’s more, The Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, library users and the library staff are a microcosm of community life in Vauxhall.

Events such as Friday night’s are a good place to meet people, including fellow-members of The Vauxhall Society. The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth Library are an associate member of TVS and there’s much cross-membership of individuals between the two.

Among other things, The Friends promote the library’s renovation and refurbishment, both exterior and interior, and have developed a gallery within the library, Tate Local, which now stages exhibitions. The Friends organise talks, parties and events and have just won a hard-fought second ‘reprieve’ – for five years – from Lambeth Council’s property-development plans.

The Kennington Community Choir is led by Elspeth Thompson and is in its third year. The Kenningtons sing ‘anything and a bit of everything’ from pop to classical to world music, and last year appeared at The Royal Festival Hall.

Admission free. Refreshments available.

6.30 for 7pm
180 South Lambeth Road

Kennington Community Choir meets every Thursday at 7.30pm in St Mark’s Church, Kennington, 337 Kennington Park Road London SE11 4PW (opposite Oval Tube). You’re welcome to join the choir, whether or not you worship at St Mark’s. Simply turn up (no auditions necessary) or visit


A meeting of Vauxhall minds: Thursday 19 March, 6.30pm

air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall
air monitoring equipment in dieppe and vauxhall

At Dieppe they have a roadside air pollution monitor bearing a legible informative notice, giving you a website address where you can find out how good or bad the breathing is. Compare it with the uninformative monitor on the Kylun Island at Vauxhall Cross.

Like to know more about what goes on around here, meet some more people, hear what they think about what’s happening and have your say too?

A good way to do all that is to turn up at the next regular public meeting, on Thursday 18 March, of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum (of community groups). It’s at the Carmelita Centre, 40 Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5JT.

This promises to be a particularly lively evening as the next month is a hectic one. Kick-off is at 6.30pm, with half an hour’s chat time over refreshments (free) before the heavy stuff starts.

The agenda includes a Lambeth Councillor and an official outlining ‘Culture 2020’, which involves the closing of half of Lambeth’s Libraries. Councillor and official are likely to be asked when Lambeth Council will comply with an Information Commissioner ruling to come clean about the council’s property deals with Transport for London over the use of land in Kennington Park and Kennington Green.

At the KOVF public meeting, the Committee will report on, among other things, the Cycle Highway and Thames footbridge, as well as the way ahead for Vauxhall Bus Station/ the Vauxhall Gyratory.

Lambeth, it is suggested, can come out as the good guys on the bus station and gyratory, by protecting voters from the pollution and disruption threatened by Transport for London’s property-development ambitions. TfL wish to replace the one-way gyratory with a slower, two-way system, around which HGVs and other heavy traffic will still thunder.

An alternative community plan by residents will be discussed at KOVF on Thursday suggests that Lambeth removes HGV traffic from South Lambeth Road, so reducing pollution, some of the worst in London.

By leaving the bus station as it is, Lambeth would save millions in costs, and avoid the long disruption and relocation of services for residents and workers. TfL wants to ‘rebuild’ the bus station only to add commercial space. There is no transport gain to passengers. There are more and more of them, and they would be crammed into even less space.


Lambeth Local History Forum is having an emergency meeting on 20 March on the future of Lambeth Archives, currently housed in one the libraries up for sale, the Minet in Stockwell.

Lambeth Local History Forum

Your free March Vauxhall Society/Vauxhall One walk: William Blake’s Lambeth

southbank mosaic's interpretation of william blake's daughters of albion
William Blake

William Blake

Monday 16 March 2015: William Blake’s Lambeth, your guide David Tootill, founder-director Southbank Mosaics.

Free, but places are limited, so please book and find meeting-place by emailing

vauxhall one logoYour monthly guided walk is by courtesy of Vauxhall One, by arrangement with The Vauxhall Society.

You can buy Ross Davies’s chatty, easy-to-carry full-colour paperback Vauxhall: A Little History at LASSCO, 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG, and here on The Vauxhall Society website.

Email for meeting place.

Picture this: one house, two kings, an actress and ten offspring

johan zoffany front cover

johan zoffany front coverVauxhall’s David Wilson, an art dealer and art historian, tells a sad tale of local government clodhopping in his fine new book on Johan Zoffany (1733-1810). It’s the tale of how in Richmond upon Thames, a London borough with many royal associations, the council allowed historic Cardigan House to be bulldozed, apparently unaware of its royal past.

Wilson centres his book upon ‘The Sayer Family of Richmond’, painted in about 1781, which is one of Zoffany’s ‘conversation pieces’. Popular in the 18th century, these are informal group scenes, often showing a family pow-wow. Zoffany’s picture is stacked with visual clues as to what the Sayers might be talking about, and so is this book.

As Wilson told his audience at a recent Friends of Durning Library conversation, Robert Sayer (1725-1794) was Zoffany’s publisher and a leading producer of atlases and maritime charts. Zoffany shows Sayer, second wife Alice and his son James conversing in the grounds of the family home that Sayer built on Richmond Hill overlooking the Thames. The painting is still with us, in private hands but on loan to the Paul Mellon Centre for British Studies here in London. No such luck with the Sayer family home, known as Cardigan House. It fell into council ownership, and in 1970 was knocked down to make way for brick boxes.

Only after the bulldozers had finished did it dawn upon the local authority what an asset of historical and tourist value it had junked. Among the notables that succeeded the Sayers at Cardigan House was the Duke of Clarence (the future William IV) and his mistress, the actress Mrs Jordan, who bore the Duke ten children. Among their visitors was the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. House guests included another future king, the Prince of Wales who was to become Prince Regent and then George IV, as well as husband of Caroline, sister of the Duke of Brunswick, once tenant of Vauxhall’s Brunswick House. Cardigan House was later the home of Captain John Willis, owner of the tea-clipper Cutty Sark, and in the Great War a club for wounded and convalescent servicemen.

Richmond upon Thames is named for Henry VII, who was the Duke of Richmond, and built a Richmond Palace, now like Cardigan House, long gone. Richmond was a favourite resort of Henry VIII, and of Elizabeth I, who died there in 1603.

David Wilson, Johan Zoffany RA and The Sayer Family of Richmond: A Masterpiece of Conversation. Paperback. London: David Wilson Fine Art, £18 plus postage, via

Say you heard about David’s book through The Vauxhall Society website, and David will pay postage and, if you live in Vauxhall/Kennington, hand-deliver.

‘Lambeth Libraries in Peril!’

durning library exterior

No, not The Vauxhall Society’s headline, but that of a press release by the Friends of Lambeth Libraries, who say they are ‘appalled’ by Council plans to halve the number of public libraries in Lambeth. Here is the press release:

Friends of Lambeth Libraries speaks for libraries and communities all over the borough.

We are appalled by Lambeth’s new ‘Culture 2020′ proposals for libraries. As the news spreads, it is being greeted with horror everywhere. (

The core proposal is a drastic reduction from 10 to just five libraries – for a population of 310,000 (and growing). Large areas of the borough – especially in the north – will have nothing.

  • Two libraries (Waterloo and Minet) are to be closed, and the buildings sold off.
  • Three (Carnegie, Durning, Upper Norwood) are to be abandoned to anyone in ‘the community’ who wants to try running them – a model that is proven usually to fail.
  • The remaining five (Brixton, Clapham, Streatham, Tate South Lambeth, West Norwood) will be put under heavy pressure, and are themselves subject to cuts.
  • The outstanding archives service will be shoe-horned into Brixton library, wrecking both.

Lambeth needs ALL its libraries.

And it needs them ALL to be run properly – by professionals.

Lambeth needs to ask itself –

  • Can it afford to replace all the services the libraries now provide (on the cheap)?
  • Does it realise that libraries support its own priorities in health, education, digital access, business, employment, family support, literacy, and more?
  • Is it happy to deprive its residents of all this – and pay for the consequences?
  • Does it have any idea what it is doing?

The service itself has been under-funded for decades. Yet it is improving on all measures, and expanding its activities dramatically. Thanks to enormous efforts by staff, it is winning awards and government praise.

The libraries’ beautiful buildings have been neglected for years, almost to the point of destruction. Lambeth has recently invested in repairing this damage – and it is paying off, with attractive spaces that people want to use. Much of this is now to be wasted.

The service has already lost £870,000 pa (almost a third of its budget) in two years – on top of cuts in previous years. Now a further £800,000 pa is to be cut.

The service is so cost-effective that this will have a devastating effect on what it can provide for the communities that need it more than ever.

Yet this sum is a tiny fraction of Lambeth’s total budget. The Culture 2020 document itself identifies large sums that could be available for
libraries. We have no doubt that more sensible savings could be made to save the service.

The financial plan to support so-called ‘community libraries’ simply doesn’t add up. They are being set up to fail.

Lambeth’s plans are totally flawed – and show that it has no idea what public libraries do for the council and its residents.


  • Lambeth is the only borough in the whole of England where book issues are RISING.
  • All libraries provide free internet access (and support) – a lifeline to the poorest, as government services for job-seekers, benefits claimants etc increasingly go online.
  • Lambeth is the only library service in England that is pioneering access to reading for people with dyslexia or sight problems. This is attracting high praise from government – and interest from other councils that want to adopt the scheme.
  • All libraries have WiFi (50% of England’s libraries do not).
  • The service has extensive online resources (all free) for 24/7 enquiries, reference, business information, academic research, magazines and e-book lending.
  • All libraries have mother-and-toddler groups, giving vital literacy
  • training, and distribute free books to pre-schoolers. There are special packs for children with disabilities – deafness, motor skills or sight problems, and learning difficulties.
  • The 2014 summer reading scheme involved more children than ever (26% up on 2013).
  • Lambeth has a huge programme of popular free festivals – run at no cost to the borough – including LGBT Month, Black History Month, Readers & Writers, and Lambeth Heritage.
  • Lambeth libraries also run: special collections on health, homework clubs, computer coding clubs, older people’s activities, English conversation classes, reading groups (including special groups for children, teens, prison inmates and people with autism), art exhibitions, health checks, careers advice, legal advice, silver surfers, Friends’ activities and talks…. and more!


The people of Lambeth deserve better.

Lambeth Council’s proposals for halving the number of public libraries: Documentation, questionnaire available in all Lambeth libraries) and online at<>

The consultation will close at midnight on Friday 24 April 2015.

Evening Standard: Libraries and parks are temples for the mind and fillips for the spirit. They’re public places where you’re a citizen, not a customer

2,000 signatures say ‘don’t mess with Vauxhall Bus Station’

vauxhall bus station campaign badge

vauxhall bus station campaign badgeThe Save Vauxhall Bus Station Campaign petition has topped the 2,000-signature mark, and still more people are adding their names. It is now impossible for Lambeth Council and its property-development partner Transport for London (TfL), to continue claiming public support for the outright demolition of Vauxhall Bus Station as part of their plan to make the canadian rx viagra Vauxhall gyratory two- rather than one way. If published before 19 March these proposals will be aired at a public meeting on that date of the Kennington, Oval & Vauxhall Forum. KOVF has presented Lambeth/TfL with alternative gyratory proposals, and awaits a reply. The Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition is hosted by The Vauxhall Society, a campaign supporter, with the support of community groups KOVF, the Vauxhall Gardens Estate Residents Association, the Battersea Society and the best site many other groups in London and beyond. Vauxhall’s Labour MP Kate Hoey is a supporter, as are the local Tory and Lib Dem parties, but not Kate Hoey’s own party, Labour, the majority party on Lambeth Council.

Lambeth and TfL want to demolish the station to make way for shops and a TfL tower block, even though private enterprise is already building a whole new pedestrian shopping centre, Vauxhall Square, next door to the Bus Station. Vauxhall Square does not involve interfering with the ten-year-old Bus Station. Lambeth and TfL’s first choice is to demolish the Bus Station, take the profits and revert to the good old days. That was when bus stops were scattered around the gyratory. Bus passengers (‘customers’ in the only language Lambeth and TfL seem to understand these days, would once more stand isolated in the open at ill-lit toxic roadsides, in danger from traffic and assault by the district’s undesirables.

The thing is, there are more buses, more ‘customers’, more traffic and heavier pollution as well as – thanks to the new ‘night-time economy’, more robbery and violence. Thanks in great part to the 2,000 signatures-plus on the Save Vauxhall Bus Station online petition, Lambeth and TfL have parked the bulldozers for now, and talk not of bulldozing Vauxhall Bus Station, but of ‘improving’ it. Whether that just means bulldozers by the back door, and whether or not this ‘new, improved’ Vauxhall Bus Station is any better than what’s there already, we shall soon see. Meanwhile, now’s the time to increase the pressure by getting yet more signatures. These will say to the powers-that-be ‘Lambeth and TfL, we’re watching you. That’s because separately and together, you have an appalling record on consultation.’

KOV Vauxhall Gyratory, Bus Station Proposals, and latest examples of TfL/Lambeth’s shoddy consultation standards:

‘Why the community is right not to trust does Lambeth/TfL on Vauxhall Bus Station’ – MP:

‘Say something nice about Lambeth Council for a change’

proposed brixton hoarding

proposed brixton hoardingThat’s the challenge from a Vauxhall Society member, who says it’s ‘boring’ to read repeated criticisms of Lambeth’s property-development ambitions.

The short answer is ‘Boring to read? Try writing the stuff’.

The Vauxhall Society objects to few development proposals, perhaps less than one in 20, and even then it’s often at the behest of a TVS community-association member.

The problem is that Lambeth Council sees Vauxhall as a cash cow and will push through any planning horror hereabouts in order to splash out on more populous parts of the borough where the votes are.

A challenge, however, is a challenge.

Here’s a nice thing to say about Lambeth Council: they have just rejected an application to erect a vast Piccadilly Circus-style LED hoarding which would have masked a listed building in Brixton town centre, opposite the Ritzy Cinema.

Our local friends, The Brixton Society, successfully objected that the row of digital billboards would be an ‘absurd intrusion’ and bad for business.

That’s the kind of planning rejection TVS members would love to see more of in anything-goes Vauxhall.

Mind you, those shops in the Brixton Arches are still under threat…

The Brixton Society objection to LED hoarding

LED hoarding rejected

Information Commissioner orders Lambeth to come clean on secret Kennington Park, Kennington Green and Vauxhall developer deals

keybridge house (proposed)

keybridge-north-along-South-Lambeth-RoadThe Government’s Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) has ruled against Lambeth Council’s refusal to divulge correspondence on the secret deals it does with property developers.

The ruling, logged on the Kennington Oval & Vauxhall Forum website, shows that ICO has thrown out Lambeth’s plea of commercial confidentiality and the ‘unreasonable’ cost of complying with a Freedom of Information Act request. ICO gave Lambeth 35 days to issue a fresh response or face High Court proceedings for contempt. The ICO findings do not nullify the secret Lambeth deals but increase the pressure on the Department of Communities and Local Government to investigate whether abuse of process is systematic in Lambeth.

The information requests, from the then-chairman of the Kennington Oval & Vauxhall Forum, concern two ‘confidential’ Lambeth Council deals. Lambeth struck one secret deal with British Telecom over the huge Keybridge House development on South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, and what Lambeth viewed as the ‘insignificant’ issue of going back on its own policy of requiring that 4O% of new homes in any development be ‘affordable’.

ICO dismissed Lambeth’s case for secrecy and pointed out that the Keybridge House redevelopment was not ‘universally lauded’. The Vauxhall Society, ICO reported, ‘criticised’ Lambeth for going back on its professed duty to ‘develop and sustain stable neighbourhoods’ in allowing only 2.4% of Keybridge House homes to be ‘affordable’ instead of Lambeth’s own requirement of 40%.

A second secret deal the public authority struck was with another public authority, Transport for London, on the price for and conditions of handing over to TfL parts of Kennington Park and Kennington Green for the construction of the Northern Line Extension. NLE will run under Vauxhall between Kennington Tube Station and the Sainsbury property development at the Vauxhall end of the Wandsworth Road in Wandsworth.

See the visit web site full ICO ruling on the KOVF website

Your free February Guided History Walk: Vauxhall in the Railway Age

Nine Elms Station
Nine Elms Station

Nine Elms Station

Wednesday, 25 February, 12.30-1.30pm

Your guide: Sean Creighton.

Join publisher, blogger and historian of south London Sean Creighton for an expert’s account of the profound social and industrial changes, for good and ill, wrought by the railway when it reached Vauxhall (1838) on its way from Southampton to Waterloo.

Free, but places are limited, so please book and find meeting-place by emailing

vauxhall one logoYour monthly guided walk is by courtesy of Vauxhall One, by arrangement with The Vauxhall Society.

You can buy Ross Davies’s chatty, easy-to-carry full-colour paperback Vauxhall: A Little History at LASSCO, 30 Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London SW8 2LG, and here on The Vauxhall Society website.

Next month’s guided walk: William Blake’s Lambeth, your guide David Tootill, founder-director Southbank Mosaics. Monday, 16 March, 12.30-1.30pm.

Coming soon: Lambeth Local History Forum’s leaflet of all member societies’ walks May–October 2015.

Judge Sycamore and the Friends of Durning Library’s hellish Tree of Heaven 

tree of heaven durning library
tree of heaven durning library

Photo from Tradescant Road and South Lambeth blog. Copyright unknown.

There hasn’t been such a to-do about trees around here since the national press caught on to the Friends of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens support of Lambeth Council’s chopping down  of mulberry trees on the historic  site to make way for £300,000-worth of black concrete columns. The tangled tale of the Friends of Durning Library and their logjam over a Tree of Heaven has nothing to do with such vandalism. As with all that black concrete, however it has everything to do with Lambeth’s wastefulness. 

Now it’s probably fair to say that to a man and woman, the Friends of Durning Library are also friends of trees, usually, that is. But not of the species Tree of Heaven, or at least the one that Lambeth Council says ‘is located in the grounds of Durning Library’.  That’s putting it mildly, for this particular Ailanthus altissima (a fast growing breed) is ‘located’ around, beneath and above the English Heritage-listed Victorian library building itself. ‘Woodperson, don’t spare that tree!’might sum up the Durning Friends’ position. The Durning tree already projects well above the rear of the building. Roots and suckers, already strongly established beneath and beyond the structure, are reaching for adjoining properties. To hear the Friends of Durning Library talk, their infernal Tree of Heaven could soon be coming up through the library floor.

Lambeth councillors might from time to time wish that Trees of Heaven would throttle all the borough’s public libraries, so saving the council money and even more bad Press. For all that, there’s an expensive council consultation under way, ending Monday 23 February. This Tree of Heaven should be sent to meet its maker forthwith, the Friends of the Durning say. A Chinese immigrant, Ailanthus altissima has yet to make it onto the banned invasive species list, the garden-centre industry being no less vigorous in defence of this fast-grower than the Tree of Heaven is in self-defence.

Lambeth Council is terrified that its insurers will no longer cover the Durning if the tree stays. There is already ‘trespass’ of branches and roots onto neighbouring properties and only for you if someone’s badly hurt, Lambeth’s consultants say, the personal liability could go all the way up the Lambeth Council tree to the new Chief Executive, Sean Harriss. If the council’s lawyers are good enough, the claims might not also cite Harriss’s predecessor Derrick Anderson, who left at the end of 2014, or  the Council Leader, currently Lib Peck.

The question of lop-or-leave has been in out of court for two years and may soon be back there. When Lambeth decided to lop in 2012, it did so without doing its homework. There was protest from a local resident or residents, one of whom is reputed to have said that the tree does a valuable good job in blotting out the view towards nearby council homes.

In 2013, the opposition secured an injunction giving tree a stay of execution, followed by permission to put the council’s decision to judicial review. In June last year, the exquisitely-named Judge Phillip Sycamore quashed the council’s decision because it failed to take account of the tree’s being in a Conservation Area. On the other hand, the Durning tree ‘belongs’ to Lambeth Council (as does the library), and is not subject to a Tree Preservation Order.  Lambeth might be free to reach for the chainsaw if the council can show that the current consultation does cover the Conservation issues, and that the Tree of Heaven is doing more harm than good to the Kennington Conservation Area. That’s assuming there’s no fresh legal challenge to the tree’s removal. Meanwhile, around the Durning Library ‘a number’ of other Trees of Heaven are now reaching for the celestial sky.

Had Lambeth Council done its homework before having a go at this Tree of Heaven, it could have saved many thousands of pounds of public money. But at least the lawyers are happy.

‘Tree of Hell threatens native plants’:

Official report:

The stay of execution:

Friends of Durning Library: