Author Archives: BelSoc

April-May 2021 – Diary Dates

Belsize Community Library
Friends of BCL bcltalks@yahoo.com

Friends of BCL present:
“A Pyrotechnic History of Humanity”:  Justin Rowlatt, BBC Chief Environment Correspondent, talks about his latest Radio 4 series exploring the energy revolutions that helped create the human species.
Thursday, 15th April at 19.30. Zoom meeting ID 889 6466 1765. no passcode required. Link

Burgh House
The Cafe
is open for take away and outdoor seating (no bookings, first come, first served)
Online exhibition: The Prospect of Happiness, Liz Matthews. Drawing together portraits of some beloved London houses and views. See here
Online exhibition: Artists who love trees. Robert Eagle Fine Art. Art from a diverse group of contemporary artists, taking inspiration from trees. See here

Camden Arts Centre
ONLINE ARCHIVE
Camden Art Centre was established in 1965 as a place for making, viewing and discussing art. It has launched an online archive of selected exhibitions and projects from 1991 – 2020.   For audio, video and lots of fantastic pictures, go to https://archive.camdenartscentre.org/archive
In The Meantime . . . . :  an online public programme of commissions by Camden-based artists, whose works act as a companion for exploring the stories, both past and present, between Somers Town in north-west London and neighbouringCamden Art Centre.
Friday, 7th May until Thursday, 13th May.
Walter Price – “Pearl Lines”. Following his studio residency at the Centre in early 2020, American artist Walter Price returns for his first major institutional exhibition in the UK.
Friday, 21st May until Sunday , 29th August..
Olga Balema – Computer: the first solo UK institutional exhibition by the New York based Ukrainian-born artist, responding to the iconic architecture of Gallery 3. Read more here
Friday, 21st May until Sunday, 29th August.

Isokon Gallery (Please check here prior to visiting)
Is planning to reopen in Spring 2021.

Keats House (Please read visit guidelines here)
is open for one hour visits at 11.00, 12.15. 14.15. and 15.30 on specific days only. These may be prebooked on Eventbrite.

St Peter’s Church
The Belsize Baroque’s
first concert since lockdown is directed by Lucy Russell. Composers whose music will be played are Bach, Handel, Telemann and Maurice Green.
Sunday, 30th May at 18.30. Tickets £15, must be booked in advance here

Mayoral Environment Debate

A More Natural Capital invites residents to join a landmark moment for nature & climate in London: Mayoral Environment Debate, chaired by Julia Bradbury, on  Monday 12th April at 19.00 -21.00.

The debate will allow Mayoral candidates to forward their policies on nature and climate to London’s voters. If you want cleaner air, thriving parks, more abundant wildlife and new foot paths and cycle ways, this is your chance to ask the next Mayor for them.
To attend, please register through this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5qu5UD…
To submit a question in advance please email matt@wcl.org.uk

See more here

The Belsize Streatery

We have received a number of enquiries about a proposed consultation on re-opening the Streatery this year. We now understand that there will be no consultation because of the imminent local elections which mean that Camden Council is inhibited from undertaking any form of statutory consultation. The Council has however, approved the planning application for bin enclosures for 12 months and agreed the licensing permissions. At present, the Streatery is likely to open sometime in mid-April in accordance with government regulations, If you wish to express your views for or against its reopening, we suggest you contact your ward councillors; for Belsize, these are Tom Simons, Luisa Porritt and Steve Adams.

Highgate Newtown Community Centre Wellness Cafe

has started a new Telephone Befriending Service to help people who are shielding or isolating and unable to meet friends and family members. If you’re feeling anxious or scared or are worried about your health and wellbeing, and would like to chat, then you could do so regularly with someone from this service. Its aim is to support residents in Camden, who are aged over 55 and are feeling lonely, to stay connected with a friendly listening ear at the other end of a phone.
All volunteers have had a DBS check, receive training and support and you will be matched with one who can call you on a regular basis. Referrals are accepted from Adult Social Care, GPs, Family Members, Friends, Carers, Hospitals or you can refer yourself. For more information, please contact revah.larraine@outlook.com or phone 07483 145587.

Potential Development of 02 Centre and its surrounds

A significant development is being considered around the 02 Centre on Finchley Road and stretching over to West End Lane. Camden has prepared some planning guidance to ensure the eventual proposals include a range of public benefits and is asking for the public’s views on their draft document. Please see here. This consultation will run until Tuesday 6th April 2021.

Belsize Society Newsletter: February 2021

Welcome to the February Newsletter of the Belsize Society. This is the first of 2021, a year that will be the fiftieth for the Society and its predecessor organisations.

In this Newsletter, we’re looking back at one special experience of the summer, the Belsize Village Streatery, with reflections from the organisers about the steps that paved the way for this. We have also been able to retrieve from our archives some past uses of the village area. In this fiftieth year, we’ll try to dip into the Society’s history but the festivals organised by the Belsize Residents Association are a good start for this nostalgic look.

You’ll see the annual request for recommendations for Tradesmen You Can Trust. Do remember that it is really helpful if you can also let us know about the tradesmen that you have used from TYCT, as that helps us keep the list up-to-date. Other Society business covered in the Newsletter include our new donations policy. We have an update from the Belsize Library and a poem by Robert llson for these difficult times. There is also some news from the 100 Avenue Road development.

You’ll see with this Newsletter the papers for the Annual General Meeting (or you have had the papers emailed). It is hard to believe that a year ago we were meeting at Belsize Square Synagogue, able to talk about the Society and enjoy cakes and tea together. Hopefully, the March AGM will be our first and last online-only AGM. But hope you can make this event. Joining details are available from info@belsize.org.uk and the meeting is open to members or those intending to join.

Between lockdowns, we were able to commemorate our long-serving committee member Consuelo Phelan with a tree, planted in St Peter’s church. Local news is also included in this Newsletter.

Hope you enjoy the Newsletter.

Belsize Village Streatery 2020

In 2017, Belsize Village was described as being “besieged by burglars” in the Evening Standard. In January, Robert Stephenson-Padron reflected at a Camden Council Meeting on what the Belsize Village Business Association has been able to do to revitalise the Belsize Village area.

The Association was started just over two years ago, a period when Bob had observed numerous businesses closing and footfalls dwindle. Despite the cloud of the Coronavirus pandemic, the past summer was one seeing economic vibrancy return to our Village. He’s particularly pleased that the employment created – estimated at 50+ jobs saved or created – were in part associated with commitments to pay the London Living Wage.

At the council meeting, Bob outlined some of the key steps in the changes seen. The first was raising the profile of the Village through social media. Looking at the Instagram, Twitter, WhatApp, Facebook pages of the Association, there is a lot of activity often centring on photos taken in Belsize Village. We all know the spot is picturesque, the central feature of recent TV ads (remember 2018 Visa advert) but the Association could really highlight the Village’s biggest strength: that all the hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Belsize Village are independents, benefitting “from the love and passion of the families that run our unique local businesses.”

A second stage of the revitalisation has focused on beautifying Belsize Village so the outdoor spaces could be used. Historically, Belsize Village suffered from litter and fly-tipping. Residents in 2015 took Camden officials on a walk to highlight the state of the village area, and working with Camden Council and with volunteers, this has been improved. Perhaps most recently were the efforts in September as part of the Nationwide Great British September Clean.

That then brings us to the Streatery. With beautiful gardening planters installed, the scene was set for an innovative, new phase for the Village on July 4, 2020, which transformed Belsize Village square into a vibrant hub and led to the economic boom the Association is most proud of. They also see this success as transferable to other communities especially tackling what they view as a largely unrecognised “litter crisis”, which blights our communities but could reset such spaces to become more economically vibrant.

Village Business Association recommendations

At the meeting at Camden Council, Belsize Village Business Association pointed at where the Council might help:

1) Tackle the litter crisis. Use the council’s marketing and enforcement power to make littering and fly-tipping anathema.

2) Have a drive to rid the Borough of graffiti-based vandalism and step up enforcement against other Anti-Social Behaviour.

3) Continue to support the innovative use of public spaces such as pro-actively supporting the Belsize Village Streatery.

4) Designate Belsize Village as a Historic Action Zone to help, for instance, install visually attractive Belsize Village signs. 

5) Provide economic incentives to businesses and/or landlords to upgrade the frontages of their buildings because these upgrades benefit an entire community.

6) Pro-actively work on improving community infrastructure, perhaps extending Belsize Village square down Belsize Terrace.

FInd out more at: https://belsizevillage.org.uk/ or social media handle @belsizevillage 

The Last Belsize Festival 1989

The sketch for the cover of the 1989 programme showed a Belsize village filled with festival-goers.

The Village has formed a focus of local activity of many kinds over the years.  Developed in the nineteenth century by William Willett, he gave up land in order to open up a triangular village green See “Streets of Belsize”, Camden History Society.  

Did you know that for many years Belsize Village hosted the Belsize Festival?  Organised by local people, and supported by the Belsize Residents Association, the Festival was held for the first time in September 1974 with Belsize Lane closed to traffic.    

The picture of the Village which you see on this page was drawn by Matthew Bell and was part of the cover of the 1989 Belsize Festival programme.  The Festival ran from 10-17 September.   The theme of the Festival was “Greening the Village”, reflecting the interest of Belsize residents in the environment which continues to this day.  The main day of the festival was Saturday 16 September.  George Melly opened the day and Belsize resident Ken Ellis was the MC.  Musical events took place in (among other places) the Village and St Peter’s Church.  There was a grand fancy dress parade, a toy and book market, and roundabout and inflatable castle.   

The programme – which is now part of the BelSoc archive – says that Mr Newman “will be there as usual with his donkeys.”  The Festival raised money for St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, the Simon Community and the London Wildlife Trust.   The BRA itself contributed £39.11 to these charities from cake sales – showing that the tradition of Belsize cakes is a long one.  The BRA organised a ceremony to hand over cheques to the charities.        

This was the Festival’s final year.  In 1987, the Festival was rounded off by Lord Eric Sugmugu and his Band in the rain.  After rain affected the 1988 and 1989 festivals, enthusiasm waned and the BRA Committee decided not to initiate it again.  

We are 50 years old

It is 50 years since Belsize residents came together to preserve the amenity of Belsize Park.

  • FIFTY YEARS AGO:  A group of local residents ran a campaign against a proposal for a ring road around London that would have destroyed Victorian houses and cut Belsize Park in two.  This turned into the BRA in 1976.
  • FORTY YEARS AGO: The BRA Constitution was adopted in 1982 and a campaign against estate agent boards was started.
  • THIRTY YEARS AGO: In February 1991, Harold Marks was Chairman. The BRA was contributing to the Camden Borough Plan.
  • TWENTY YEARS AGO: In February 2001, Gordon Maclean was Chairman.  The BRA was campaigning about the Swiss Cottage redevelopment; opposing a major redevelopment of the Load of Hay pub in Haverstock Hill; and welcoming the green recycling boxes (members supported the boxes but did not like the loose lids!).
  • TEN YEARS AGO: In February 2011, Averil Nottage was Chairwoman.  The BRA was gearing up for the formal consultation on HS2; taking action about budget cuts to libraries; and investigating the impact of basement developments.
  • NOW: The BelSoc Committee continues to meet by Zoom and is arranging the first (and hopefully last) Zoom AGM.  Our work on planning applications continues and new ideas for digital content are in train in order to keep up community spirit in a pandemic.