There aren’t many places in Wandsworth you don’t notice the poor state of our streets, but the Shaftesbury Park Estate has, I think, some of the worst with the road surface starting to crumble at an alarming rate.

I have reported defects when I see them, but sadly the turnaround on these has lengthened from hours to weeks and occasionally months. However, at least some of the roads are now due for resurfacing and letters should go out to residents in the affected streets today.

The roads due for resurfacing are:

  • Sabine Road (due to start on 10 July with works for four days),
  • Tyneham Road (due to start on 14 July with works for five days ) and
  • Elsley Road (due to start on 19 July with works for four days).

I will continue to report other street defects (and you can also report them via the council’s website or services like FixMyStreet or even just let me know).

We are, of course, less than a year from the council elections, so there’s usually a bit more investment suddenly available making it a great time to get those all those faults rectified.

The G1 bus on Sabine Road
The G1: disliked by Sabine Road, unwanted by Eversleigh Road, but loved by everyone.

It was a hot night for a public meeting, and a hot public meeting to discuss the Transport for London (TfL) proposals to re-route the G1 bus route. Around 50 people attended and, for 90 minutes or so, had their say on the G1. I was surprised that the turnout exceeded that of the Shaftesbury Let’s Talk meeting earlier this year. Proof, perhaps, of the truth in Tip O’Neill‘s adage that all politics is local.

The background and suggestion are fairly simple. Residents on western part Sabine Road have suffered with the “stereo effect of the G1” travelling on the road in both directions, and have lobbied for a change ever since the current route has been in operation. These concerns were raised with TfL who suggested another option would be run the westbound route for the full length of Eversleigh Road.

The current situation is that around 120 people have replied to the TfL consultation, and the results are something like 65% against and 35% in favour: unsurprisingly there is an incredibly strong correlation between whether someone is for or against and whether they live on Sabine Road or Eversleigh Road.

Looking through the notes I jotted of the meeting I got the sense that the proportions last night were about the same, and again, largely a function of where the resident lived (I had some admiration for the Sabine Road residents who spoke up for a move; it is never easy to speak up in favour of something when a majority of those present have been vocally hostile towards it). Several additional points were raised, including a perception that the buses speeded through estate (although previous council traffic surveys didn’t find evidence of widespread speeding by any vehicle) and that something needed to be done on speed. Unfortunately enforcement of 20mph zones is not national police policy.

A few misconceptions were raised. Several seemed to think it was essentially a conspiracy by TfL because the introduction of Boris Bikes would require a new route. In fact, the two issues are separate and even if the bikes did need a new route—which they shouldn’t since they do not take road space, only parking spaces—it is invariably the case that Bernard Ingham’s version of Hanlon’s razor is correct.

Another misconception, which might be a matter of opinion, is that the council and TfL were wrong to even investigate this. Personally, whatever the outcome, I think we would have been wrong not to consider the complaints from, and issues faced by, the Sabine Road residents.

The consultation is still formally open and will probably be extended until 26 July so there is plenty of time for those who still want to comment. As I have said before, in technical terms I do not think there is much difference between the options, so it really is down to the consultation.

Unfortunately it is one of those topics in which it is not possible to end with a result that pleases everyone, since while there was widespread love for the bus service (any mention of the service’s value and wanting to keep it on the estate triggered applause), no-one really wants it going past their home. If there is an overall positive from this, it’s that the issue has resulted in the formation of the Shaftesbury Residents’ Group, and hopefully the energy they have displayed opposing this will go on to help with other issues and topics affected the Shaftesbury Park Estate.

The G1 bus on Sabine Road

The G1 bus on Sabine Road
The G1 bus on Sabine Road
If the Transport for London proposal to re-route the G1 bus vexes or delights you, then you might be interested in a public meeting taking place next week.

Organised by the three ward councillors the meeting will be attended by officials from TfL and the council and will allow residents to express their views—for and against—the proposals. As I stated in my previous post, I suspect a great deal of weight will be given to public attitude since the technical arguments for either route are quite marginal.

The meeting is open, so you can just turn up, and will take place at 7pm on Tuesday, 9 July at Shaftesbury Park School on Ashbury Road.

I’m aware that the blog (and my online life in general) has taken something of a knock recently. I’m not above blaming little children for this; having another child has eaten into the time I spent on it. But what better way to get back into the swing of things with the death and decay of trees in the ward?

The council is about to remove 13 trees from various sites in the ward (detailed below). The Shaftesbury Park Estate certainly seems something of a tree graveyard, and two are being removed from close to my home (one of which I was quite fond of, having rescued it from being a misshapen young sapling).

All the sites will be replanted, but, unfortunately not until the next tree planting season – so they will remain empty for around a year.

The trees, and reasons, are:

  1. Outside 33-35 Amies Street – tree is 60% dead
  2. Outside 8 Ashbury Road – tree is 80% dead
  3. Ashley Cresent, opposite 20 Queenstown Road – tree has dead bark and root decaying fungus
  4. Outside 128 Dunston Road – three has dead back and root decaying fungus
  5. Outside 165 Elsley Road – tree is unstable and 60% dead
  6. Outside 189 Elsley Road – tree is 60% dead
  7. Outside 71-73 Eversleigh Road – tree is dead and has a heartwood decaying fungus
  8. Outside 48 Grayshott Road – tree is unstable and has root and trunk decaying fungus
  9. Outside 19 Holden Road – tree is 50% dead
  10. Outside 20-22 Kingsley Street – tree is dead
  11. Outside 2-4 Morrison Street – tree is dead
  12. Outside 39 Sabine Road – tree has extensive trunk decay
  13. Opposite 53 Sabine Road – tree is 60% dead

If you know of any other trees in the ward that need attention, or any empty tree bases that need filling, let me know.

The extent of destruction: The red area highlights the homes destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

There is an immediacy to reading the reports compiled while various authorities were responding to Second World War bombing. As I noted when writing about the houses a few doors down from me, records of incidents are mainly as it happened notes of orders and instructions given rather than post-incident reports written with the benefit of hindsight.

Given a little thought it is obvious this is the only way it could be, the sheer scale of the Blitz meant that there would be little time for reflection and report writing; the focus was on clearing up from one raid, recovering and preparing for the next.

The result is that the slips of paper, collated and bound together during the war, read almost like a rolling news channel: information is constantly coming in, things are happening, the situation changes, but as you read through you realise that you aren’t analysing or taking an overview – you are caught up in it.

Incident 1038, 17 July 1944
By July 1944 Allied troops were in northern France, pushing the German troops back and the Blitz a three-year old memory. However, just over a month earlier Germany had launched its first V1, the ‘flying-bomb’, ‘buzz-bomb’ or ‘doodlebug’. The device was relatively simple. A bomb with a jet strapped to it, pointed towards London and, when flying, the air flow turned a small propeller that operated a counter, when the counter reached zero it triggered a dive (which often also cut out the engine) and the bomb fell to earth.

Incident 1038 records the bomb that impacted in the rear garden of 2 Brassey Square. The picture illustrates the scale of damage caused (you can see the original on Bing maps, and look at it from various angles), over 100 houses were destroyed by the bomb itself, or damaged so badly that they were later demolished. If you know the area you will realise that it’s almost impossible to get a photo at ground level that gives any indication of the scale of the damage.

The “fly dropped” at 0628, it was reported at 0634 and by 0635 five ambulances were despatched, along with the warning that “Bolingbroke Hospital is full up”. At the same time various mobile units mobilised to help with the clear-up and rest centres alerted and told to expect up to 200 people. Status reports sent up the command chain feared heavy casualties. Fifteen minutes after the first ambulances were sent a further seven were requested, all being told to approach via Grayshott Road (other ways being blocked), and neighbouring areas were contacted to request ambulance reinforcements. Along with the ambulances eleven rescue parties were sent (these were divided into ‘heavy’ and ‘light’, depending on the size of the incident, in this case it seems they just sent everyone!) along with a heavy mobile unit and mobile command unit.

And then, almost as suddenly as it happened, calm descended. The flurry of messages slowed and as the people on the ground tackled the situation. By 0818, less than two hours after the impact, an update recording that work was progressing, two were killed, three were still trapped, thirty-two taken to hospital plus a further ten minor casualties: “job well in hand.” As a consequence the ambulance reinforcements borrowed from Wandsworth (then a separate borough) were returned.

The messages show a well-rehearsed procedure being acted out, with various actors arriving on the stage, doing their jobs then leaving. Some would have been more welcome than others, at 0740 word was received that the Ministry of Food would be sending a food van, which duly arrived at 0815. But at 0800 and 0915 the mortuary van arrived, each time to take away two bodies.

At 0859 it was believed all trapped people had been rescued and the ambulances returned to their stations: the only slight drama was at 1014 when a heavy rescue party was requested as “two persons still trapped.” It arrived at 1022 and, after half-an-hour, it was realised that the fears of people still trapped where unfounded.

The final report at 1228 recorded:

Final casualties at Sabine Rd

  • Killed 4
  • Injured to Hosp 44
  • 30-40 treated at FAP

All persons accounted for. Incident closed.

Aftermath
Sadly not all persons were accounted for. The four recorded were:

  • Mrs Holland, 41 Sabine Road
  • Mr Heath, 61 Sabine Road
  • Mrs Adam, 2 Brassey Square
  • Mrs Bristow, 2 Brassey Square

Subsequent Mr Hockley was found in an Anderson shelter to the rear of 2 Brassey Square, making five killed in all. Of the forty-four taken to hospital twenty-five were categorised as ‘stretchers’, nineteen as minor casualties. I’ve not been able to find any further records of them, which means they are likely to have survived this incident.

Thanks
Obviously I need to thank the staff of the local history section in Battersea Library for this, but I’m not the only one extending thanks.

While I said there didn’t seem to be any form of post-incident reflection during the Blitz, it was a little different on this occasion, perhaps the relative infrequency of V1 and V2 incidents allowed more time, and the records also contain a private report of the incident from the incident officers, E Witton and HS Phillips who were based at Basnett Road school (Basnett Road barely exists now, just a stump on Lavender Hill with the rest demolished to make way for the Ashley Crescent and Wycliffe Road estates, the old school would be near the current John Burns school).

They use their report to thank all involved in the rescue but single out three individuals: two wardens – W Ben and R Clarke, who climbed in through the debris to rescue trapped people, at risk to themselves – and Mr Wheeler, who sent to boxes of cherries to be distributed amongst the bombed-out children.

Shaftesbury Park EstateFollowing on from the introduction of the local safety scheme on the Shaftesbury Park Estate the council is now looking at introducing a 20mph speed limit on the estate’s roads.

20mph zones are tricky, largely because they need to be enforced and are not (I would say quite rightly) a priority for the police at the moment. This means they only work where the average speed of the traffic has already been significantly reduced – and this is where the safety scheme has played a part.

Personally I think the current scheme has been incredibly successful. The raised beds are attractive and in keeping with the conservation area and, living close to one, don’t seem to create the noise problems so often associated with traffic calming – and the evidence shows they have slowed traffic, speeds on Elsley and Sabine Roads have been reduced by 6mph on average.

The 20mph zone will require some more roadworks – Grayshott and Tyneham Road will be getting the new raised beds (like those elsewhere in the area) at their junctions with Eversleigh and Ashbury Roads. Additionally there would be raised entries to the estate at the junctions of Heathwall Street and Sabine Road with Latchmere Road, and raised entries to Wickersley and Wycliffe Roads. Together these also have the benefit of providing traffic calming in the roads serving local schools.

The proposals are due to be considered at next week’s Planning and Tranportation Committee. You can get all the details from the (rather dry) committee report on the council’s website.