Golden Lane Estate, resident Billy Mann says that if developers are planning to put roots down in Golden Lane, they should start showing a bit more respect for the environment in their own backyard.

Sport was meant to be the subject of this month’s column.

Arsenal are widely supported here on Golden Lane and their ponderous appointment of a new manager has been a hot topic, and not just for those old enough to remember who Dick Emery was.

The booking congestion at the Golden Lane tennis courts is another issue. And there is one resident (a Leyton Orient fan) whose dream is to see ‘walking football’ introduced to the estate. All of that will have to wait, because the environment has barged in demanding attention.

First is the CoLPAI development of the former Richard Cloudesley site, which stands to rob us of several proud birch trees.

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Golden Lane residents are fighting to save seven mature trees lining the estate.

An online petition to ‘Save Our Trees’ is up for signing on change.org, and staff from both the City Corporation and Islington Council have bleeding eyeballs working through the small print of the planning verdict in case someone overlooked something. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Add to this the latest news about the City’s ultra-poor air quality and cutting down healthy trees and replacing them with flaky promises of new ones ‘sometime soonish’ seems indefensible.

A much nicer experience was this year’s Golden Baggers day trip to the Turn End house and garden in Buckinghamshire, and in planning for this year’s Open Garden Squares Weekend (9-10 June), which will no doubt once again see hundreds of green-fingered enthusiasts trooping through our award-winning allotments.

It was nice also to attend a reception for one Golden Bagger, artist Liz Davis (aka Buffy), who for the past nine years has been sneaking around the neighbourhood collecting weirdly-named (sorry, rare) plant species (Hairy Cockspur?), drying them under scientific scrutiny and mounting them on the finest art paper. Her exhibition Wild City is at the Town House Gallery in Fournier Street E1 until 17 June. 

It was also a bonus to be invited by our new estate manager, Michelle, to join an al-fresco discussion about the Golden Lane pond.  The pond sits in an idyllic and relaxing spot at the back the community centre between Bowater House and Bayer House and is flanked by fabulous shrub roses. But it is suffering.

Slime is festering below the surface of the water, the reeds are gasping for breath and the innocent turtles thrash around looking totally clueless. The fountain and pump are unsightly and a wholesale renovation is overdue. Buffy is shouting “homes for frogs” at passing strangers.

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The Barbican’s famed fountains get a lot more love from the City of London Corporation than Golden Lane’s humble pond.

Michelle is keen to rescue the pond’s beauty from the jaws of neglect, but getting residents to agree on anything around here is hard work, and tainted by a dash of status envy, since the Barbican’s handsome water features get more loving attention from the City Corporation than do Golden Lane’s. A general meeting is planned for June 21 so all pond views can be captured. Expect some feisty exchanges.

And we mustn’t forget that the environment includes buildings. The scaffolding on Great Arthur House is coming down, though the dust and psychological damage to residents during the tiresome two-year window-replacement project will take much longer to clear up. The dust is unlikely to settle on Bernard Morgan House anytime soon.

One of the accidental pleasures of the demolition of the former police section house is that the Eglwys Jewin Welsh church in Fann Street, with its distinctive green roof, can now be seen out in the open, in all its heavenly glory. Though not for long.

The BMH site is being prepared for a mammoth block of luxury flats nobody on the average UK wage could ever afford. The developers, Taylor Wimpey, are clearly nervous about the building’s designated name, The Denizen. They have been surveying residents for an alternative, something a bit less flashy and superior, I guess.

Their list of possible new names did not include Big Ugly Monster (BUM) so I spoiled my ballot paper in protest. Then something very funny happened. A relic WW2 bomb was unearthed by a JCB. The area was closed off and everyone in Bowater House and Cuthbert-Harrowing House put their fingers in their ears. They needn’t have bothered. It was a false alarm and the digging soon resumed.

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Police cordoned off large sections of the Golden Lane Estate last month when a device believed to be a un-detonated WWII bomb was discovered on a building site on Fann Street.

The ‘Bernard Morgan Bomb’ incident got some of our senior residents talking about the old Ealing comedy film Passport to Pimlico (1949), in which the accidental explosion of an undetonated German WW2 bomb uncovers a tomb full of treasure and an ancient royal charter declaring the surrounding area an independent state. Postwar rationing and austerity end immediately and the pubs stay open for 24 hours a day. Sounds good to me.

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