Category Archives: Issues

Time for a new TYCT

So please get busy with email or pen and form, to send us your new tradesmen ‘finds’, plus re-recommendations for existing entries. All this input is for members, by fellow members – so mutually beneficial!

Our thanks to all who have already contributed. As a reminder to those who intend to do so, please use the form enclosed with this Newsletter, or download the same form from, or just email full details, including your own, to by 29 March 2024.

Volunteering for the Society

As the new year begins, perhaps your wearable is suggesting you walk more, or your gifts of recipe books are encouraging cake making. Whatever your new year resolution, perhaps it can translate into helping the Society. The range of Society activities means a selection of ways to help, such as helping at events, delivering newsletters, creating posters, baking cakes.

We have a few gaps on the Committee which urgently need filling. The Committee is a great place to help the Society, in that you both hear about what is happening in Belsize, and then lead some aspect of the Society’s involvement. The Committee meets each month, except August, at members’ homes and there is team of people looking at planning matters, the various publications, Society events and engaging with Camden Council about the policies that are being pursued in the Borough.

We are always looking for new Committee members, but we would particularly welcome help in two areas:

  • Events organisation. The Society holds about four main events a year, having a party in the summer, organising an annual walk, the AGM, and bringing the community together at Christmas for carol singing. Organising this involves a small number of set-up tasks, and then working with others to make an event a success. Also, there is scope to update the calendar with new activities.
  • Editing the Newsletter. A Committee member is needed to bring together the materials for the Newsletter each quarter, gathering an array of interesting writing drawn from the pen of our members or news articles about what is happening in BelSoc or the area. It would suit someone who enjoys commissioning and then compiling pieces, with IT used to produce the Newsletter being undertaken by others. Again, there is scope to update how the Newsletter is presented, such as adopting online tools. If joining the Committee is of interest or you would like to volunteer some time to help the Society, then please do contact  if you can help.

Do you have a garage to store BelSoc equipment?

 The photo indicates the scale of the storage needed: around five boxes of BelSoc’s plates and tea making equipment. It would be great if someone with space in a garage or ground level store could look after these. They are used each year for two or three events, for which access that allows transfer to a car would be ideal. 

Contact if you can help.

Scratchcard parking permits

Scratchcards are safe, for the moment at least. The controversial subject came up before the latest Town Hall meeting of Camden Council.

Following a strong defence to councillors of the hourly paper parking permits from Camden’s community groups including the Belsize Society, the Council agreed to look again at the future of the cards.

Key to the final decision will be a review of the number of users with no online access to the permits. The Council may consider whether a special dispensation for the digitally excluded is feasible.

Community groups will be meeting to discuss the next steps.  Meanwhile, the campaign to save Scratchcards goes on.

Help Save Scratchcards

If you use a Scratchcard and are over 75, and/or have a disability not yet registered with Camden Council, could you please email the Belsize Society at or call Peter Wallace on 07551 686 668.

Thank you.

Society Carols and New Camden Local Plan

Have your say on Draft New Camden Local Plan

Camden is consulting on their draft new Local Plan from Wednesday 17 January to Wednesday 13 March 2024.

The draft new Camden Local Plan sets out the Council’s vision for future development in Camden for the next 15 years and includes the planning policies and site allocations to help achieve this. It identifies how many new homes and jobs are needed to support Camden’s population, and where and how they should be provided. The Local Plan also has an important role in shaping how Camden’s places look and feel, promoting inclusion, reducing inequality, enhancing the environment, tackling climate change, and securing sustainable neighbourhoods.

To read and comment on the draft new Local Plan please visit

Belsize Carol Singing

The Society’s Christmas Carol Singing was well-attended with over fifty singing along with Matthew Watts at Belsize Terrace. We were joined by the Primrose Hill Community Choir and rattled through some old favourites as well as many carols and songs with our youngest singers leading. Also, over £225 was raised for the Marie Curie hospice, a good local cause. Thanks to all who contributed.

Martin Sheppard speaks at Belsize Library

The Society supported a recent Friends of Belsize Library talk at Belsize Community Library. Martin Sheppard spoke on The War in Belsize Park. The event was very well attended, with the Library fully crammed as Martin presented a picture of a wartime London. He described where and when bombs landed on the Belsize area presenting material from the archive of bomb maps and showing us photos of the effects on local buildings. 

His talk also covered the suburban lives people led as they sheltered from the bombings, inhabiting both purpose-built shelters and the Underground stations. Martin explained how Swiss Cottage tube proved a vibrant location, with its own magazine associated with the shelter there.

Most delightful was that Martin was joined by another Martin (Nelson) who sang for us, starting with an 1860s music hall classic about perambulators on Primrose Hill, and ending with a song made famous by “Cheeky” Charlie Chester.

Next events at the library include an illustrated talk by Tudor Allen drawing from the collections of Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre (15 February, 7.30pm). 


Members may be interested to know that, following the death of our Treasurer Neil Harris, the BelSoc Committee donated the collection of his books to the Oxfam Bookshop in Hampstead.  Oxfam has expressed its deep gratitude at receiving books of such quality.  New readers will benefit from Neil’s outstanding collection.

We are looking forward to Martin Sheppard’s talk at Belsize Community Library on the subject of Belsize Park, England’s Lane and Primrose Hill in the Second World War.  When and where did the bombs, and the V1s and V2s, fall in Belsize Park, England’s Lane and Primrose Hill? Who was killed and what was destroyed or damaged? Where were the bomb shelters and what happened to local men, women and children? What guns were on Primrose Hill? What happened to the Zoo? Martin is a leading historian of the area.  He will describe the experience of living in the area between 1939 and 1945.

Martin’s talk is on Thursday, 7.30pm 18 January 2024 at Belsize Community Library, Antrim Grove NW3 4XN. This is a joint event brought to you by Belsize Society and the Friends of the Library.

Also, the Library is the venue for the book launch of Pat Holden’s debut novel, Paradise and Pink Plastic Shoes (Set in Uganda in 1972). The launch will be on Wednesday, December 6th at 5.30 to 7. All welcome.

Retrofit news

Grants towards the installation of an air or ground source heat pump have been increased to £7,500. This is intended to bring the cost below that of replacing the average gas boiler.

The phasing out of gas boilers by 2035 has been delayed.  In a previous Newsletter we described Energy Performance Certificates and the legal requirement to have a rating of E or above before you can rent out your property. The Prime Minister has recently announced that landlords will no longer be required to upgrade their properties to level C.

Camden Council has a useful page on its website called “Save energy and keep warm”, showing how you can make your home warmer and more energy efficient. Visit Please let us know what you think of it.

Stay in touch with the BelSoc retrofit team on

Society’s Historical Walk

This year’s walk saw Averil Nottage take us on a tour of the Eton College estate, starting with us imagining the area owned by Eton in south Belsize as fields where duels took place, through its development as housing, and exploring the influence of the railways.

It was a pleasant day for a walk and we had 40 individuals in each of the two sessions guided to around 10 locations, with Averil connecting together fascinating glimpses into the history,

What’s coming up at Hampstead Theatre?

On the main stage – Rock ’N’Roll   6 December – 27 January

1968: Russian tanks have rolled into Czechoslovakia, and Syd Barrett has been dumped by Pink Floyd. Jan, a visiting postgrad at Cambridge, breaks with his old professor Max, a Marxist philosopher, and heads home to Prague with his suitcase full of “socially negative music”. Rock ’n’ Roll covers the ensuing 21 years in the lives of three generations of Max’s family while Jan is caught in the spiral of dissidence in a Communist police state. But it’s a love story too – and then there’s the music…

Tom Stoppard returns to Hampstead after the triumphant revival of Hapgood (2015). Director Nina Raine also returns to Hampstead where her directing credits include her own play Tiger Country (2011 & 2014) and William Boyd’s Longing (2013).

Downstairs – Nineteen Gardens    until 9 December 

Nearly two years after the end of their affair, John and Aga meet once more.  Each has filled the void left by the other: he has withdrawn into his world of wealth and privilege; she has found herself working as a chambermaid to support her family.  Both recognise that the spark between them is still there.  Will they rekindle what they had, or is an altogether darker game about to be played out…?

Downstairs – This Much I Know   13 December – 27 January. 

A tenured professor of psychology, Lukesh enjoys a life as organised and logical as his mind.  But then his wife vanishes, sending only a text message by way of explanation and leaving him to re-evaluate their relationship. He discovers she has embarked on an epic odyssey, crossing and recrossing Russia and delving deep into Soviet history on a quest to unravel a family mystery of which he was unaware – one in which Josef Stalin himself may be involved.

Jonathan Spector’s play is at once a love story and a kaleidoscopic primer in psychology, history, and the use and abuse of power. 

To find out more and buy tickets, visit or phone 020 7722 9301. 

Belsize Tennis Champion: An Outstanding Achievement

We are proud to announce that Globe Lawn Tennis Club member Naqi Rizvi, 32, has become the world’s top-ranked tennis player in international competition for the visually impaired.

His story is an inspiring example of perseverance. Diagnosed with congenital glaucoma as a child, he lost all sight by age seven. He came to the UK in 2015 to pursue a postgraduate degree from UCL, was introduced to tennis for the visually impaired in 2016, and began competing internationally two years later.

Naqi, a product manager in financial services, achieved the top ranking this year in the B1 visually impaired category after victories at the International Blind Sports Association World Games in Birmingham; the International Blind Tennis Association World Championships in Krakow, Poland; and United Kingdom national competitions at Wimbledon. He is next scheduled to compete at the UK nationals in November, where he will be defending the title he has twice won previously.

The past seven years have been some of the happiest years of my life,” he said. “If you’d asked me in 2016 when I started blind tennis if I’d ever be world No. 1, I would have laughed at you.”