ANNUAL REPORT for 2017-2018 TO THE AGM OF FRIENDS of BROCKLEY AND
LADYWELL CEMETERIES JUNE 2018
The Friends group was formed in July 2007, and at the end of March 2018 had a membership
of 132, an increase of two from the end of March 2017. The majority of members live in and
around South-east London, with others further afield.
The Friends group had six open committee meetings during the year, plus one General
meeting in addition to the AGM. The highlight of the AGM was a talk about the 1918-19 flu
pandemic by Dr. Brian Parsons.
Six general “work sessions” have taken place, plus one in conjunction with the Council’s
Nature Conservation Department’s Nature’s Gym. Work has mainly been removing sycamore
and ash growths, as well as Turkey Oak saplings, in both Cemeteries. Work continued on
renovating the ornamental island, dubbed Chiesman Island, near the Chiesman family grave.
This three-year project is spearheaded by Mick Martin. An additional session dealing with
Japanese Knotweed was also undertaken by two members with the necessary qualifications,
with relative success. Numbers attending the general sessions have varied between 3 and 5,
representing approx. 67.5 hours’ work over the year. Many thanks to the members who took
We have taken up a number of issues affecting the cemeteries with Lewisham Council. These
include: the collapsed wall on Ivy Road; the straightening and cleaning of the Deptford
civilian war memorial; repair of the public toilet; grass-cutting and general maintenance; dog
controls (Public Space Protection Orders) and signage. Some of the responses have been
disappointing but we continue to liaise with officers on these and other matters.
A series of walks were held throughout the year.
The history-themed walks were based mainly around the battles in 1917 especially the Third
Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) but also highlighting the air-borne threats to London in both
World Wars. Thanks are due to Peter Mealing, Mike Guilfoyle and Mick Martin for
continuing to enlarge our knowledge of these events and the links to the two Cemeteries.
Eight members visited the Ypres Salient and took part in a dedication ceremony to Hugh
Gordon Langton, whose parents and brother are buried in the Brockley Cemetery.
A nature-themed walk was also held, led by Tom Moulton and Peter Robinson, resulting in a
We again participated in the Brockley Max Arts Festival, the week-long arts event in June.
We conducted our usual tour of the two Cemeteries. We also facilitated two evenings of folk
music by a local band led by member Mark Wallis, and two days of exhibitions by Quaggy
There were two notable events during the year. One was the celebration of the 10th
Anniversary of the Friends in July. A sub-committee was set up to plan and run the event.
Local groups were invited to participate for the first time. Informative trails for children were
a great success as were the series of walks which took place. It was estimated that around 300
In October, around 50 people attended the unveiling of the Hither Green & Sydenham civilian
war memorial by the Chair of Lewisham Council, Cllr. Adefironye. Members of the extended
Delahoy family came from all over the country. The event was covered by BBC London
The memorial was funded by a grant from the Ladywell Ward Assembly and by the Heritage
Lottery Fund, which has also provided funding for booklets and display panels, as well as the
cleaning and renovation of the Deptford civilian war memorial. The HLF agreed to extend
the project period following a slow start to the project.
As part of National Cemeteries’ Week in September, under the umbrella of the National
Federation of Cemetery Friends, we hosted a Public Art Exhibition in the Chapel entitled
“Women in Front”. A walk on this theme also took place.
We held our eighth Remembrance Day event, laying wreaths at the Ladywell and Brockley
war memorials. Poppy crosses were placed at other relevant memorials in between. Up to 25
people including children attended the event.
Donations were made to the Royal British Legion for the Remembrance Day wreaths.
The group has assisted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in identifying war
graves within the Cemeteries and has been given a “watching brief” in case of damage or
The group had stalls at a couple of events, helping to raise the profile of the group: at the
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery Open Day (May) and the Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre
The Vice-Chair again spoke at a meeting of the South London History Group, and is booked
to speak again in July 2018.
Research into the histories of individuals memorialised in the Cemeteries continues. Thanks
are due to our historians who have made many interesting discoveries. Members also keep a
few graves “tidy” at the request of descendants unable to visit the graves.
The group is represented by the Chair on the Council’s Biodiversity Partnership, and supplies
details of work done and numbers attending for a national reporting scheme. Bird sightings
are also reported. Advice is also given to the group on biodiversity matters.
The Friends remained a member of the National Federation of Cemeteries’ Friends, and sent
delegates to the 2017 AGM at Kensal Green Cemetery.
The group is also affiliated to Voluntary Action Lewisham, an umbrella organisation which
offers training and advice to voluntary groups and organisations.
The website and BlogSpot, managed by Patrick Napier, continues to be the group’s public
face, with articles and information regularly uploaded. According to the Google statistics,
there were 7239 visits during the year, down from 8143 visits last year. The majority of visits
were, of course, from the UK (over 5400), but with a sizeable number from USA (over 800),
and also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, as well as European countries and China, although
the average session was 5 seconds. The top subjects were Margaret McMillan, Jane Clouson,
Anniversary, and Elizabeth Watkins. Thanks are due to Patrick for the vital work of
posting the many historical items and event notices.
I would like to thank all members for their continued enthusiasm and support over the past
year, although more “willing hands” are always welcome.
The group would like to thank Alison Beck and Colin Burgess, the Council Officers
responsible for the Cemeteries, for their co-operation in the past year, and for the continuing
use of the Chapel for our meetings.
Thanks are also due to Nick Pond, of the Council’s Nature Conservation Department for his
advice and to Jess Kyle and Judith Simmons for arranging the Nature’s Gym work session.