#2 PARAKEET PARROT:
Established residents in these parts now, nobody quite knows how these brilliant green, if somewhat bolshy, birds got here. Some say they escaped a film set, others claim they were released in the Great Storm of 1987.
londonist.com, April 2018
• 234 Railton Rd
‘I was given a hard hat, and went up on this cherry-picker, and it was like in a dream. I was hovering over my beautiful cinema even as it was being demolished and I couldn't believe it was happening to me’.
Local resident Robert Holden describes the end of a passionate 10 year attempt to save the former Cinema GRAND at 222 Railton Rd, one of the earliest purpose-built cinemas in London, and turn it into a theatre.
'I saw this tiny little squirrel his nose all covered in blood. So I put him inside my jumper, and there he stayed. I really thought he was going to die on me. We gave him some still Lucozade which worked a treat and by 4 that afternoon Cyril - we called him Cyril - was whizzing around the place. After 7 weeks we set him free and he'd be back by 6 every night. This went on and on and then one day he didn't come back’.
Elaine Partleton (The Flower Lady by Herne Hill Station)
#5 FALLING PINS:
‘We were standing in the doorway when we heard this V-1 come in - buzz buzz buzz. I remember saying “Oh Mum my legs are cut to pieces”. That was the blast. Mum had her hair in a bun and the blast took out all of the pins. I don't think I had ever seen Mum with her hair down. We had a miraculous escape’.
#6 HANDS OF A CLOCK STUCK AT HALF PAST ELEVEN:
A reference to Dylan Thomas' radio play ‘Under Milkwood’ written in 1954. Thomas, who lived on Milkwood Road, set his play in ‘Llareggub’ (Buggerall spelt backwards), a sleepy village in Wales untouched by time and the ravages of war.
‘Look guys, make me Chair. Give me a team, because I am a team worker. Give me a good secretary, a treasurer and a PR person. We got the children to say what they wanted here and there - a Zip Line and an Albatross, which is still in the park’.
Community activist, Maude Estwick, Milkwood Open Project Space
The Effra river, which flowed under Herne Hill in Victorian times was eventually covered over in the 19th Century, its route now marked by a trail of tall 'stink pipes' to release nasty odours. Beware, if standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is possible to catch whiff of the subterranean bowels of Herne Hill - a gentle reminder of the lost river's ever desire to return in one form or other.
#9 THE FLOOD:
During the early morning of 7 August 2013, an 88‑year‑old water main on Half Moon Lane burst, flooding Herne Hill, Dulwich Road and Norwood Road to create a scene described as 'biblical' by local residents. Not the first flood to wreak havoc on local community and business here, where the people have once again galvanised and survived to tell this story.
#10 WELCOME TO DULWICH:
'I remember a significant event that took place in Half Moon Lane about 10 years ago. The Dulwich Community Council put up a large notice just outside what is now Oliver Burn, saying "WELCOME TO DULWICH". You can imagine the outrage! The Herne Hill Society of which I am a member organised a demonstration, which reached the local papers; we also lobbied the local Southwark councillors, and I am pleased to say, got the offending notice taken down'.
• 1 Half Moon Ln
#11 BONO’S BAD HAIRCUT:
‘In 2015, we all gathered in band t-shirts outside the Half Moon Pub in the rain one morning (the pub was then closed and boarded up), to mark “Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day”. It was a protest against the pub being closed, and in support of its amazing music history (U2 played there 3 times in 1980!)'.
Local activist, Peter Blair
• Half Moon Pub (inside)
#12 FLYING BOOTS:
Raiders were helping themselves to the contents of Champion Jewellers on Half Moon Lane when a flower-pot was hurled in their direction by a tenant of a flat opposite. The startled raiders found themselves in the next moment the target for a bombardment of boots, shoes and other missiles from neighbouring windows, and jumping into their car they drove away.
Herne Hill Society Magazine, Spring 2015
Originally Aberdeen Journal, 18 August 1932
• Gable wall, 12 Half Moon Ln
#13 SOME MOTHERS DO AVE ‘EM:
The BBC's hapless and beret-toting Frank Spencer (aka Michael Crawford) spent his early years on Half Moon Lane, where his stepfather was a grocer. He fondly remembers daily visits as a boy in the 1950s to the local Velodrome to watch world champions like Reg Harris race there. Indeed Frank made his own Velodrome debut for Sports Relief many years later, on roller skates, tagging a lift from Bradley Wiggins no less!
#14 WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT:
'My Parents made us feel it was an adventure. When we were in Paris we had this grotty, tiny flat and were looking out over Paris and I said to my father, "Isn't it wonderful being a refugee!"'
Judith Kerr, author of 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’, in 'Judith Kerr: A Portrait of a Fascinating Life’.
In 2013, Britain's first bilingual state school in English and German, the Judith Kerr Primary School on Half Moon Lane was named after her.
• 13 Half Moon Ln
#15 TREE CELEBRATION:
Some still remember the huge elm tree on Half Moon Lane which lived beyond 400 years. With a hollow trunk measuring 6 to 11 metres in diameter, it was said to afford sitting room for twelve people. Its latter years saw its trunk wrapped in chains in a desperate bid to hold it together, until sadly one day not too long ago it had to go.
Take heart, for every tree lost, a local volunteer is out there planting a new one.
Herne Hill Heritage Trail, pg 68
#1 THE LIGHT OF BATTLE:
In 1937, ’50 determined matrons, the light of battle in their eyes, invaded the flower garden and piled their prams up outside the gate. Keepers were powerless!’ Led by Gertrude Blattman of Half Moon Lane, ‘the mothers formed a solid phalanx and sturdily refused to budge’. All they wanted was to take their children and their prams after lunch into the walled garden in Brockwell Park, where after 2pm babies in perambulators were banned.
The Daily Mirror, April 20, 1937
• 236 Railton Rd