Simon Daykin: Celebrating the story of Emery Walker and William Morris

simon daykin close cropA guest post from Simon Daykin, the Project Manager for Arts and Crafts Hammersmith

Two of Hammersmith’s favourite former residents are to be put even more firmly on the map, thanks to a new project and an injection of Lottery cash.

Arts and Crafts Hammersmith is a new partnership project between Emery Walker Trust and William Morris Society, who respectively run museums at the former homes of Arts and Crafts pioneers Emery Walker and William Morris on the Hammersmith riverside. The ambitious project, which has just announced funding from Heritage Lottery Fund of £631,100, began this month.

It comprises a range of refurbishment works to the former homes of Morris and Walker – Kelmscott House and 7 Hammersmith Terrace – plus a range of activities and initiatives to bring the men and the rich stories of their work, influences and friendship to as wide an audience as possible.

7 Hammersmith Terrace Dining Room High Res7 Hammersmith Terrace, home to typographer and antiquarian Emery Walker from 1903 until his death in 1933, is widely considered as one of the best preserved examples of an Arts and Crafts interior still in existence.

It’s a veritable treasure house of authentic textiles, furnishings, artworks and personal ephemera literally oozing with the influences of William Morris and his Arts and Crafts contemporaries from the late 19th century. By the good grace of Walker’s daughter Dorothy, who inherited the house after his death until her own in the 1960s, and Dorothy’s companion in later life Elizabeth de Haas, who endowed the house and its vast collections to the newly formed Emery Walker Trust in 1999, the house has delighted visitors with its tucked away and secret charms since then.

Kelmscott House extWilliam Morris’s former home, Kelmscott House, 1/4 mile away, has its own charms, housing important designs, textiles and archives from Morris and his daughter May and their work as designers, artists, political activists and campaigners. The house is also open to the public, and provides a venue for lectures, talks and workshops through the year.

However, time takes its toll on priceless collections and buildings. Not only that, but this stretch of riverside holds an array of stories of the collaborations and friendship between Morris and Walker, bursting to be told. Morris is more readily known, of course, but Walker was his mentor and guide in printing and typography, and together they nurtured their influences and views on art, design, society and politics as the Thames flowed by.

Roll the clock back 100 or so years, and this part of Hammersmith was truly a crucible of creativity and politics, that went far beyond our two pioneering legends.

With support from Heritage Lottery Fund, complemented by grants from charitable trusts such as Garfield Weston Foundation, Heritage of London Trust and the Ashley Family Foundation (Laura Ashley was heavily influenced by Morris in her textile and fabric designs), Arts and Crafts Hammersmith will initially involve building refurbishment and improvements.

This will preserve the fabric of both properties and ensure that they can properly house these unique collections. Visitor amenities will improve, and space developed for more exhibitions and displays, particularly of the items currently in storage. 7 Hammersmith Terrace will close to the public at the end of summer 2015, although we aim for Kelmscott House to stay open throughout. The newly refurbished and improved houses open again fully in spring 2017.

WMS printing pressWhilst the capital works take place, we tackle the huge task of completely cataloguing and digitising (creating an online searchable catalogue, including pictures, in other words) our collections and archives, giving an permanent accessible record and telling the stories of Morris and Walker to today’s digital world. A new website, virtual tours, and a mobile app are all planned. Come 2016, an array of participatory activities with schools, colleges, universities and the local community are planned, including writing projects, textile workshops and printing and typesetting work (Morris’s original printing press still operates today). We are also heavily promoting the development of volunteering and training, with a range of opportunities for learning and skills development in such areas as museum curation, archive and collections management, and heritage marketing and promotions.

Fundraising for the latter stages of the project continues. We’ll feature regular information as the project progresses on our websites http://www.emerywalker.org.uk and http://www.williammorrissociety.org.uk.

We know that the stories that lie within the houses of Morris and Walker are too important and too fascinating not to be told. The project allows us to share and celebrate them. We hope you will be able to join us.

7 Hammersmith Terrace Drawing Room 2

Cllr Joe Carlebach: Holocaust Memorial Day – A personal reflection and perspective

joecarA guest post from Cllr Joe Carlebach, councillor for Avonmore and Brook Green Ward

As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, commemorated on the 27th January, a talk was given by a holocaust survivor, Hannah Lewis, in the Town Hall yesterday.

She spoke with eloquence and emotion of her story being born into a Jewish family in Poland in 1937, witnessing the German invasion and the subsequent round ups, deportations and murder of many of her friends and family.

One of the most moving moments of her talk was her description of the capture of her mother and then (as a small child) seeing her mother shot by the Nazis in cold blood and in plain sight.

I found her story particularly harrowing as I lost immediate family members in the Holocaust.

My grandfather (after whom I am named), my grandmother Charlotte (Lotte) and my three young aunts Ruth , Naomi 142 and Sara 133 were all shot and murdered by the Nazis on March 26, 1942, in Biķerniecki forest, near Riga, Latvia. They were aged respectively 15, 14 and 13 at the time.

This was the tragic culmination of a life which had started so full of promise. My grandfather had studied at Berlin University and then the University of Heidelberg in the early years of the 20th Century studying sciences and mathematics where he obtained his PhD.

In 1912 he was one of the first people asked to write an analysis of Einstein’s new theory of relativity.

Dr Joseph (Jo) Carlebach student in Berlin and Heidelberg, where he studied mathematics, physics, philosophy and history of arts.

Dr Joseph (Jo) Carlebach student in Berlin and Heidelberg, where he studied
mathematics, physics, philosophy and history of arts.

He became a well known figure and intellectual with Thomas Mann affording him the honour of a named cameo role in Dr Faustus.

At the same time as his secular studies he also qualified as a Rabbi leading a number of communities and in 1936 he became Chief Rabbi of Hamburg.

Throughout the rise of the fascists in Germany he was an outspoken opponent of their politics and thuggery.

When the German Government banned Jewish children from attending state schools my grandfather traveled around Germany setting up schools which became known as Carlebach schools in order that Jewish children would be able to have an education.

November 9th 1938 (known as Kristallnacht) marked the beginning of the tragic end for German Jewry. Almost every synagogue in Germany and Austria was destroyed and looted. All Jewish property was taken.

The first synagogue to be destroyed by Hitler’s Nazi thugs in Hamburg, was the great house of worship at the Bornplatz, the pulpit from where my grandfather preached. The man in charge of this mission was a high ranking Nazi who it was said had been sent directly by Hitler himself.

On hearing the news that his synagogue was being destroyed, my grandfather rushed to the building on his own and, in an act of total selflessness, attempted to stop the destruction by reasoning with the Nazis. He was badly beaten and the very next day he started organising the evacuation of his older children including my father who arrived in the UK on a Kinder Transport shortly thereafter.

As a direct result of the activities on Kristallnacht my grandfather was offered a visa to come to the UK but he turned it down. Many Jewish community leaders had already left Germany and my grandfather vehemently believed a leader should stay with his people through good and bad, seeing to the vulnerable, the needy and the poor. This he did and it was this that ultimately cost him his life.

His murder and the murder of my grandmother and three young aunts has cast a long and dark shadow over my life and I have no doubt it will do the same for my children as they learn what befell their family. So the burden of tragedy is shared and then ultimately passed to the next generation.

I learnt a long time ago there is no escaping history: all you can do is to deal with it as best you can.

We live in a troubled world today and despite the best efforts of many good people the lessons of history have not been well learnt.

There have been other genocides since the Holocaust and bigotry, intolerance and prejudice continue to thrive.

It is therefore beholden on us all to live our lives with a view to remembering the past, honoring those that died and making sure the future will be a better place for everyone, no matter who or what they are.

That is why Holocaust remembrance day is so important, for all of us.

My grandmother with her nine children including my father, in the early 1930s. The three youngest children Ruth, Naomi and Sara in the photo all perished with their parents.

My grandmother with her nine children including my father, in the early 1930s. The three
youngest children Ruth, Naomi and Sara in the photo all perished with their parents.

Post Script

In 1990 part of the Hamburg University Campus, the Bornplatz, the former location of the Main Synagogue of Hamburg and my grandfather’s last pulpit, was renamed the Joseph-Carlebach-Platz in his honour

Revealed: Labour’s 382 “stealth tax” rises in Hammersmith and Fulham

Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council claim that they are not increasing any fees or charges above the inflation rate. The truth is in stark contrast to this claim.

The inflation rate is 0.5 per cent. Yet in Labour’s proposed budget there are 256 increases in fees and charges of 2.4 per cent. That is nearly five times the rate of inflation. I counted a further 126 proposed increases above 0.5 per cent.

When Labour were in opposition they use to call increases in charges “stealth taxes”. I think the validity of the definition rather depends on whether the Council is offering a service in a competitive market place or is charging for a licence with monopoly power. But anyway Labour decided all these charges were taxes and promised to cut “all Council Taxes”. They have broken their promise on an industrial scale.

They were even stealthy about their stealth tax hikes. They refused to publish the 2.4 per cent rises – I had to make a specific request for the information. Here is the full list. It’s not on the Council’s website. A rather unconventional approach to scrutiny and transparency. Still, at least it is now in the public domain.

Here are some of Labour’s “stealth taxes” – at nearly five times inflation:

  • Charge for bedbugs treatment increased from £189 to £194. The Labour MP for Hammersmith Andrew Slaughter, with typical understatement, said that the Tories were in favour of bedbugs wishing to drive out the poor. Yet Labour have punished the poor by hiking the charge. The cost for removing cockroaches goes up from £129 to £132.
  • Booking a room at the Assembly Hall at the Town Hall goes up from £335 to £343. Although Labour have yet to cough up the money they owe for their own meetings.
  • What do Labour have against marriage and civil partnerships? Fees are hiked from £340 to £348.
  • While claiming to support market traders on North End Road, Labour are pushing up their weekly fee for a stall from £83.64 to £85.60. With friends like these…
  • Cafes are punished with an increase in the licence for having tables and chairs on the pavement going up from £659 to £675. Yet there is already a law dealing with obstruction which mean they are not allowed where the pavement is narrower then 1.8 metres.
  • Competitive sport in school is penalised. The cost for holding a sports day in a park (for up to three hours) increases from £160 to £163.80. An hour of rounders goes up from £40 to £40.90.
  • There is an attack on sport for adults too. The cost of booking a football pitch for a day goes up from £340 to £348. A game of cricket will cost £87 up from £85. Anyone for tennis? It is costing more under Labour. Up from £70 to £71.70 for ten one hour sessions.
  • In opposition Labour made emotive attacks on burial charges. In power Labour are cranking them up. Grave maintenance up from £167 to £170.50. Use of the chapel per hour up from £92 to £94. Scattering of ashes? Up from £81 to £82.50.

The amounts raised from some of these increases will be modest – in comparison to Labour’s million pound raid on motorists wallets. But the council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan spent eight years in opposition standing up in the town hall denouncing these charges for being too high and promising to cut them. For him to have promptly pushed them up by five times the inflation rate shows some chutzpah even by his standards.

Council revenue comes in for using underground ducts to provide better Broadband

In February last year the ITS Technology Group agreed a landmark deal in April 2014 to manage a super-fast fibre optic network in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. In a pioneering move we chose to become the first council in England to let out the underground ducts through which the authority’s CCTV network runs. All 10 miles of it.

Cllr Greg Smith, then the Deputy Leader of the Council was responsible for the initiative. He is now the Conservative Group leader. The deal means  a new source of revenue to the council – it will bring in £160,000 in the next financial year. I hope the Labour council leader remembers to send him a thank you note…

Furthermore providing money for the Council is not the only benefit. As the report last year set out:

  • “The indirect benefits will be that the bidder will improve the broadband connectivity speed and coverage for residents in the borough (Fibre to the Home).
  • Creation of new jobs by helping small business to thrive and also attract new businesses into the borough. Businesses will have easier access to the network and faster internet connectivity, (the improved fibre coverage of the utilisation of the duct asset will provide this). The bidder intends to sell to local business at affordable prices, to enable easy access and better connectivity.
  • The bidder will also enable connectivity to multi dwelling units (MDUs). As LBHF have fibre to and running past many MDUs, the bidder will be able to easily provide fast internet connectivity to many people.
  • Registered social landlords will also be able to offer broadband services to tenants as part of their accommodation package. The landlord will be able to include connectivity as part of the rental agreement. This would prove beneficial for example in student accommodation.”

Labour are boasting about how caring they are being – for instance cutting Meals on Wheels fees at a cost of £70,000 or scrapping Home Care fees at a cost of £324,000. But they don’t add that they can only afford these changes thanks to the sort of initiatives brought in by Cllr Smith.

Fulham Palace Road fly-tip: Why does the Council let them get away with it?

fulpalrdThe streets in Hammersmith and Fulham continue to get dirtier. This fly-tip in Fulham Palace Road, opposite the junction with Doneraile Street was reported yesterday by Cllr Jane Law.

The Government has given councils more power to combat fly-tipping but since Labour took control of the Council in May enforcement has been allowed to slide. Serco Walkabouts with the Cabinet Member responsible have been scrapped.

I have asked for a report on street cleaning to be brought before the Council’s Community Safety, Environment and Residents’ Services Policy and Accountability Committee next month.

How “independent” is the Council’s design panel?

When Hammermsith and Fulham Council approves hideous new developments the planning officers retort that actually it’s of good design as it has been approved by an independent Design Panel of experts.

So who is on the Design Panel? Four or five members are gathered to review proposals. Here is the full list of members:

Andy Barnett
Nigel Bidwell
Dan Burr
Niall Cairns
Roy Collado
Peter Eaton
Jonathon Manser
Robin Partington
Fred Pilbrow
Max de Rosee
Alex Rook
Paul Sandilands
Paul Simms
Barbara Woda
Charles Young

Overwhelmingly these are modernist architects.

Just Google a name and see the monstrosities they are responsible for. So the design review process is circular and self fulfilling.

An exception, but not a welcome one, is Barbara Woda. Her background is of a planner rather than an architect – but with the same modernist prejudices. For many years was Head of Urban Design and Hammersmith and Fulham Council and she has had a crucial role in making our borough uglier.

A national design panel for new housing was recently announced by the Government – to include neo-classical architect Quinlan Terry, Professor of aesthetics Roger Scruton and a representative from Create Streets.

So why is the local design panel a modernist monopoly? Why couldn’t the Council include on it local architects who champion beauty such as Peregrine Bryant? Or local residents such as Anthony Jelley – who has done detailed work with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community?

The reason is that the planning officers want a rubber stamp. They want a committee of tower block enthusiasts that can be relied upon to endorse proposals for more tower blocks. Then they can claim a spurious endorsement in an effort to stifle criticism.

In their manifesto for the Council elections last year Labour promised “to work with an independent design panel on all major developments”. That rather implied they felt something different should take place to what was already happening. But the Panel has the same people and operates in much the same way. There are no plans to change it. So another broken Labour promise.

Residents reminded to make use of seven day GP access

Residents in Hammersmith and Fulham are being reminded that many GP surgeries now offer seven day access as winter pressures continue to affect A&Es across the country.

The following surgeries are open between 9am and 4pm on Saturday’s and Sunday’s: the Brook Green Medical Centre, the Cassidy Medical Centre, the Palace Surgery, Dr Jefferies and Partners and the Parkview Practice (Dr Canisius and Dr Hasan). Patients can book appointments in advance on 03000 333 666 or use the walk in service available at all surgeries.

There are also a number of Urgent Care Centres (UCCs) in the area which can treat residents who require care immediately for illnesses or injuries that aren’t life-threatening. A&E is for people with major, life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Both the Urgent Care Centre at Charing Cross Hospital and Chelsea & Westminster Hospital are open 24 hours a day, including weekends and public holidays. There is also an Urgent Care Centre at St Charles Hospital which is open from 8am until 9pm, seven days a week.

Residents can also call NHS 111, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for advice and details of local health services.

Dr Tim Spicer, chairman of Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, said:

“As we have seen, A&Es find themselves under increased pressure during the winter months. We know that many patients attend A&E when their illness is not life-threatening.

“We have increased access to GPs for people in Hammersmith and Fulham so that they can be treated locally and conveniently in a GP practice on Saturdays and Sundays. We would encourage all residents to use NHS services wisely and choose the correct care for their need to help relieve pressure on A&E services.”

More information about health services in North West London, including details of GP weekend opening across the area, can be found at http://www.rightcarenwlondon.nhs.uk.

The GP surgeries offering 7 day access are:

Brook Green Medical Centre
Bute Gardens
London
W6 7EG

Cassidy Medical Centre
651a Fulham Road
London
SW6 5PX

Palace Surgery
510 Fulham Palace Road
London
SW6 6JD

Dr Jefferies and Partners
The Medical Centre
292 Munster Road
London
SW6 6BQ

Parkview Practice (Dr Canisius and Dr Hasan)
Cranston Court
56 Bloemfontein Road
London

W12 7FG

The Urgent Care Centres in the area are:

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Urgent Care Centre

369 Fulham Road

London

SW10 9NH

Charing Cross Hospital Urgent Care Centre

Fulham Palace Road

London
W6 8RF

Urgent Care Centre at St Charles

Exmoor St

W10 6DZ

Labour go soft on debt reduction

Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s General Fund debt was £169 million in 2006. It’s now £42.7 million. So under the Conservatives it was reduced by an average of £15.75 million a year. This meant the bill for debt interest fell – which was an important factor in allowing the Council Tax to be cut.

I am pleased that Labour are planning to reduce Council debt further next year. But only £2.7 million. So debt repayment has become a much lower priority.

Yet many council assets are still not delivering value for money.

For example there are valuable paintings which nobody sees as they languish in storage. The Cecil French Bequest is (conservatively) valued at £17.8 million. It includes many fine paintings by Edward Burne-Jones and was given to the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham in 1953. French pleased by assurances from the council that his home The Grange in North End Lane would be preserved (it was demolished in 1958 to make way for the Lytton Estate). Also, of course, the Bequest was made on the expectation of the paintings being displayed in public libraries – not hidden away.

In terms of the prospects of honouring that pledge the increased value of the paintings became something of a curse – the insurance and security costs representing of public display something of a challenge.

So one option would be to sell the collection. That would allow a reduction in debt that would reduce the annual debt interest bill by over a million pounds – around two per cent a year of Council Tax. It would also allow at least some people to see the pictures.

Or the collection could be sold and £10 million spent setting up a Public Art Gallery in the borough – perhaps to include exhibitions from local art students. That might well be something Mr French would have liked. (Rather depending on what is exhibited – he disliked the “modern movement” and so refused to leave anything to the Tate.) Anyway, that would still leave £7.8 million(+) for debt reduction.

Or the art could be leased – there has been some success with this in the past when it was put on loan in Japan. That might be a viable way of securing substantial revenue.

Or the collection could be sold with the condition that it be put on public display for a certain number of days a year. Or some of it could be sold with part of the proceeds used to be the rest of it on permanent exhibition.

I asked about this last night at a meeting of the Community Safety, Environment and Residents Services Policy and Accountability Committee.

Cllr Wesley Harcourt, the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents Services, said he was against selling the art as it was our “Crown Jewels.” But then the Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower of London. Not shut away in storage. Cllr Harcourt added that if the paintings were sold they would “be gone forever”. Then so, one would hope, be that chunk of debt.

By the way this was among a large number of queries about the budget that I and my Conservative colleague Cllr Steve Hamilton raised at the committee meeting last night. Scrutinising the budget to hold the administration to account is probably the greatest annual task for these committees. The Committee’s Chairman is Cllr Larry Culhane. He is paid a “Special Responsibility Allowance” of £5,664.70 to chair these committee meetings – of which there are six a year. That pay is on top of his basic allowance of £8,940. Yet at last night’s meeting he did not have a single query on the Council budget – nor did his Labour colleagues Cllr Sharon Holder or Cllr Iain Cassidy.

Instead Cllr Culhane attempted to stop my from asking all my questions. He relented after I pointed out that it was 9pm and there was an hour to go before the “guillotine” for the meeting to finish. But how extraordinary that he collects nearly a thousand pounds a time for a meeting – then he doesn’t provide any proper scrutiny of the administration himself and seeks to silence those who do so.

Labour sting motorists for an extra million pounds

David Taylor, the Head of Parking Services, emails to tell me that in the last financial year – 2013/14 Hammersmith and Fulham Council had income from parking of £34, 734, 250. He adds that in this financial year – 2014/15 the income is projected to be £35,755,502. So over a million pounds more.

Ker-ching!

Labour won control of the Council by claiming to be the motorists friend. At the Council elections in May the message from Labour was that parking charges were a stealth tax. They promised to reduce them.

Their manifesto said:

“Our Conservative council has a record for entrapping innocent motorists – fines for moving traffic offences have increased 18-fold in six years. We will work with resident, motorist and cycling groups to reintroduce fairness on our roads.”

Cllr Stephen Cowan, now the Council leader then the Leader of the Labour opposition , wrote on his blog that such vast sums were obtained through dishonesty:

“The scams used are the type of thing one might expect from the worst type of cowboys.”

Cllr Cowan is now the Cowboy in Chief. When £34.7 million was being raised that was regarded by him as stealth taxation, entrapment, scams. Now the sum has cranked up to £35.7 million. The Bagleys Lane Box Junction operates in same way. No fines or parking charges have been reduced. Residents are faced with the spectacle of the man who complained, more vociferously than anyone else, that £34.7 million was far too high being the same man presiding over an increase to £35.7 million.

I have requested that Visitor Parking Tariff for Zone I (where parking stress is low) be set lower than the current rate of £1.80 an hour. It is unreasonable for those living in Emlyn Road to be paying £1.80 an hour given that if they lived the next street along – in Abinger Road in Ealing – the cost would be 60p an hour. Cllr Cowan has decided to keep it an £1.80.

Good traffic management does require some charges and fines. The concern is that if those charges are excessive that it has become a tax – a means of raising revenue. As we celebrate 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta  let us remember that a tax should only be levied with the approval of Parliament.

It’s a great thing about the British constitution that we have the rule of law rather than a bunch of state gangsters – or municipal cowboys – helping themselves to our money whenever they feel like it.  The Magna Carta of 1215 said “scrutage” – as tax used to be called – could only be taken having “obtained the common counsel of our Kingdom.” In 1689 the Bill of Rights added:

“That levying money for or to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, without grant of parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal.”