Tavi Place public meeting – the follow up

Camden officials gave a detailed run down of the reasons behind the Tavistock Place trial at the MA organised public meeting on Monday night (19th September), and fielded some tough questions from residents, both for and against. We’re grateful for their time. Here’s our follow up to some of the issues covered …

Have enough people been informed about the consultation?

More efforts are being made to distribute the consultation document, with Camden telling us that more targeted deliveries and more notices in the affected streets are on their way.

What measurements has Camden done, and how?

The consultation document can also be found here. It contains a lot of numbers, with figures on cycling, walking and motor traffic, both before and after the trial, during peak morning, lunch time, and peak evening hours. The counting of motor vehicles took place on 12th May 2015 and 17th May 2016. Cyclists were counted in March 2015 and June 2016.

There were questions at the public meeting about why these dates were chosen. They are in similar times of year, outside of school holidays or Easter, so they offer a good basis for comparison – although it does seem to us that the cycling counts could have been closer together as there are likely to be more cyclists in June than March.

There is also data on air pollution, measured in terms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air. These measurements cover a three month period between July and November 2015,  before the trial, and seven months from December 2015 to June 2016 during the trial. It isn’t entirely clear in the document but we understand the measures given are for the average amount of nitrogen dioxide pollution over the whole period. Some people at the meeting questioned the reliability of these measurements – here’s Camden’s answer on that one: –

“Camden uses a range of different types of equipment to monitor nitrogen dioxide emissions (the main pollutant of concern in Central London, due to its effects on human health).  The device used at Russell Square is an automatic reference method monitor.  Data from this equipment is sent directly to King’s College London, who are contracted by the Greater London Authority to manage London’s Air Quality Network.  King’s College then relays the findings to the Council (this data is publicly available). King’s are recognised experts in this field, and London’s air quality network is one of the most advanced in the world.  The monitors in Gordon Square and Tavistock Place are mobile real time monitors.  The data from these devices is held on a server at a specialist environmental management company.  Camden’s air quality officer then accesses this server remotely to download the data.”

Do the data tell us anything we haven’t seen for ourselves?

Certainly air quality campaigners, cyclists and local residents supporting the new road layout have seized on the falls in pollution, especially the 21% reduction on Tavistock Place itself, which provide clear evidence of what a dramatic improvement reducing motor traffic can have on air quality. The cuts in pollution on Russell Square and Gordon Square  are less but still significant. Cycling has increased on what was already the busiest route for bikes in Camden, with an extra 100 cyclists heading west on Tavistock Place during the morning peak hours, and over 80 more in the evening heading east.

Wow interesting to see an up to 21% improvement in from Tavistock Place cycling trial – fall in poisonous nitrogen dioxide


Others will point to the increase in traffic on the main North-South routes as a cost too high for the improvement on Tavistock Place – though the picture is not entirely even. Judd St has seen a 58% increase in morning peak period traffic heading north – an extra 146 vehicles in one hour; though the increase is a lower 11% (36 vehicles in the hour) in the evening. Woburn Place north-bound traffic was 19% higher in the morning but actually 8% lower in the evening; whilst the increase in traffic on Endsleigh St was 166% in the morning (113 vehicles) and over 200% (156 more) during the evening hour (though as some have pointed out, this is likely to be partly due to the closure of Gordon Sq north for the entire period). Of course these measurements don’t take account of how long vehicles spend sitting in traffic.

The one surprise we’ve noticed is Guilford St – where there has been less traffic throughout the day. This is interesting since those with long memories will recall that one of the objections to the original design of the cycle way on Tavistock Place was the fear it would increase traffic outside Coram’s Fields.

Do residents’ views matter?

We asked the Council whether people passing through the area that do not live or work here have an equal right to comment on the proposals. The answer came: “We welcome comments from people passing through the area as well as those living or working there. We will analyse the consultation responses by postcode so that we can distinguish between the level of support (or not) for the scheme from local residents and businesses and from people from outside the area. Recommendations from officers on whether or not the scheme should become permanent will take this distinction into account.”

So there you have it – yes, resident views (for and against) matter, but Camden will be taking into account the responses.it receives from wider London as well.


Soap, ink and seawater

The inventor of hard soap, indigo ink and a method for desalinating sea-water still in use today was commemorated with a Marchmont Association blue plaque at 91 Judd Street yesterday. The plaque is to Dr Alphonse Normandy (a.k.a. Dr Alphonse Rene le Mire de Normandy), a chemist who lived and worked on Judd St from 1850 to 1859.


The plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nadia Shah, with the able assistance of Emilio Gabrielli, President of the International Desalination Association (IDA), who sponsored the plaque, Dr Jim Birkett, and Niki Panorgia, Normandy’s great, great, great, great grandson.

The event was attended by representatives of IDA, the Royal Society of Chemistry and Friends of South Norwood Cemetery, where Normandy’s family grave can be found.

Many thanks to the IDA for sponsoring this plaque and to the leaseholders of 91 Judd Street for allowing us to install the plaque on this historic, Grade II listed building, which was built by James Burton in the early 19th century.

Research to establish Normandy’s links to Judd St were by the indefatigable Debbie Radcliffe.

Marchnmont Association at this year’s Bloomsbury Festival


The Marchmont Association has arranged 3 ‘happenings’ as part of this year’s Bloomsbury Festival, which takes place across the area from 19th to 23rd October. All are free – just turn up.

Charlotte Mew, Poet – Blue Plaque Unveiling – October 22, 2016 2:00 pm, at 30 Doughty Street. Charlotte Mew was lauded by Virginia Woolf and has seen a recent resurgence of interest in her works and an acknowledgement of her importance as a 19th century poet. The Mayor of Camden will welcome visitors to the event, which will include speeches and poetry readings with a Bloomsbury theme.

The History of Russell Square walking tour – October 21, 2016 2:00 pm, outside Russell Square Gardens. A walking tour explaining the history of Russell Square, led by Ricci de Freitas, author of the recently published ‘From Fields to Fountains – the Story of Bloomsbury’s Russell Square’. Ricci will recall the fascinating story of the development of this important historical Georgian garden square from its inception in 1800 to the present day. You will be taken on a guided tour of the square, which begins outside the south-east entrance to Russell Square Gardens at 2pm and lasts approximately 1 hour. Learn about its interesting former residents and the developments which have shaped the square over its first 200 years.

A Stroll Through Time – October 19 – 23, 2016, at Skoob Books. Opening times: Wed – Sat 10.30am – 8pm; Sun 10.30am – 6pm. Skoob Books, with the support of the Marchmont Association, will be guiding visitors and locals on a stroll through time along busy Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury’s original High Street. To add to the existing permanent ones, we’ll be installing about 50 ‘Blue Plaques’ along the street indicating the famous and not so famous who made Marchmont Street a thriving and fascinating 19th and 20th Century community. Skoob Books will feature a window display of exclusively local connections from the worlds of literature and the arts; and will offer a takeaway prize quiz to complete as you wander through the streets. Questions will test your knowledge on a lively Bloomsbury community, including familiar literary and artistic figures, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs. Takeaway quiz sheets can be collected from our Brunswick bookshop from Tuesday 18th October 2016 and should be returned by 6pm on Sunday 23rd. Rules and prizes will be on the quiz sheet and on the Skoob website. London’s biggest selection of second-hand books is open throughout the festival from 10.30-8pm (6pm closing on Sunday).

Coram’s Fields extend sports and youth service

Coram's Fields User Group

Coram’s Fields have extended their sports programme, running now until 9.30 p.m. and offering more for all ages. The longer hours and increased provision for all ages were part of user requests we highlighted recently, hence we of course welcome the development here!

CFUG have received two further offers from professional sports bodies to teach sports and we are hoping to be able to have talks with Coram’s Fields about that soon.

In addition Coram’s Fields have launched their new Youth programme.  It has a programme every day. We would be glad for feedback as always, including how young people and parents perceive the sessions, their quality and value. Just email us on coramsfieldsusergroup@gmail.com

Here the details of the new programmes:

(Mon – Fri 4.00pm – 9.30pm)

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
(6–9 year

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To the father of modern day socialism

The latest Marchmont Association  blue plaque has been unveiled, at the former home (from 1832 to 1840) of Robert Owen, father of the Co-operative Movement.

The plaque was jointly unveiled by the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Nadia Shah, Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, Professor Greg Claeys, the worlds foremost authority on Owen, and Iain Macdonald of New Lanark in Scotland, the utopian settlement established by Owen and now a World Heritage Centre. Mayo – a former director of the New Economics Foundation – said Owen was a “genuine radical” and that the co-operative movement was a “practical expression of his ideas”.

Other VIPs included Pat Brandwood, Curator of the Robert Owen Museum in Wales, where Owen was born, and Josephine Bacon and Glenn Barnham, both Co-operative Council Members. Eilleen Donnelly represented the Co-op Bank and Phil Turner the Co-operative Party. Peter Twist represented Camden’s Tour Guides.


The Marchmont Association is grateful to One Housing for sponsoring this plaque and for permitting it to be installed on their beautiful house at 4 Burton Place. Appropriately, One Housig still uses the listed building for social hous­ing.

Coverage featured in the Camden New Journal – with John Gulliver commenting, “I’m not sure whether schoolchildren today learn about this great man  but his ideas have far greater lasting importance than many of those of kings and queens that form part of the staple diet of today’s curriculum in schools. He argued that people were naturally good and in the right environment could become rational, good and humane people – views I confess I share.”

Our only disappointment was that Owen’s great, great, great, great grandson, Owen Lewis, was unable to join us from New Harmony, Indiana, USA, although he hopes to visit London to see his famous ancestor’s home later this year.

From Fields to Fountains launch

The eagerly awaited first comprehensive history of Russell Square to be published is now available at Skoob Books in the Brunswick and Judd Books in Marchmont Street.

Lavishly illustrated ‘From Fields to Fountains – the Story of Bloomsbury’s Russell Square’, has been written by Marchmont Association chair, Ricci de Freitas (also author of the Marchmont Association’s other popular historical publications – ‘The Story of Marchmont Street – Bloomsbury’s original high street’ and ‘Tales of Brunswick Square – Bloomsbury’s untold past’). It tells the story of Bloomsbury’s foremost Georgian garden square, revealing the lives of its most notable former occupants, house-by-house, in a stroll around the square, highlighting significant historical developments along the way.

Two centuries of history are brought to life with this book, which brings the reader right up to the present day. If you aren’t familiar with the history of Bloomsbury, this will be a great introduction to the area.

It will also make a fantastic Christmas or birthday present, with its appeal to a wide range of readers of different ages and interests.

The publication was launched last night at an event hosted by Senate House, to whom we’re very grateful. Here’s Councillors Richard Cotton and Rishi Madlani with author Ricci….