A Short History

A Short History

1981

  • Stables to be sold for office development but hostile public meeting, GPJC decides not to sell
  • Friends set up, subscription £1
  • Newsletter launched with ideas for the future of the Stables

1982

  • Friends urge GPJC to devise plan for whole Park, generating income to support it
  • Newsletter carries ideas from NE London Poly Architecture students
  • First AGM in May
  • Permission for small temporary riding scheme in Stables during summer
  • Jumble sales and Friends’ first fete
  • Friends purchase donations box for Museum

1983

  • GPJC working party considers future use of Gunnersbury – full report includes idea of restaurant/hotel in Small Mansion but strongly rejected by councillors
  • Architectural competition suggested, ideas sought for Orangery
  • Friends become a charity (regd no 286310)
  • Friends’ Kitchen restoration begins – work in progress shown at 4 open weekends
  • 2nd AGM considers GPJC working party report in detail – felt it had wasted a year
  • £450 from fete proceeds pays for 3 large notice-boards for the Park
  • Friends seek specialist advice on feasibility of restaurant/hotel in Small Mansion to support restoration elsewhere
  • More commercial riding school installed in Stables

1984

  • Grant of £30,000 obtained towards work on Stables for museum use
  • Vandalism in Park needs £13,000 extra but LB Ealing will not contribute
  • More work on kitchens and Victorian “fridge” from another Rothschild house acquired – 2,800 visitors in summer
  • Friends pay £400 to help turn board room into exhibition gallery for Museum
  • Friends donate £300-worth of walkie-talkies donated to help Park staff combat vandalism
  • 3rd fete, tours of nurseries organised
  • £30,000 grant lost through GPJC bungling
  • Friends seek ideas for empty Small Mansion
  • Problems with night fishing in Potomac Lake
  • GPJC appeals to GLC for funding and closes down riding school

1985

  • Friends create new trading company and take over Park catering for 3 years
  • Both cafés redecorated, function business begins in Temple, Small Mansion
  • GPJC thinks horses on Park bridle path will scare visitors but agrees to advertise for new riding school operator
  • Lease offered on Small Mansion ground floor – GPJC decides in secret on Art Centre, without public consultation
  • Fete in very wet and windy weather
  • First summer kids’ activities in Kitchens
  • Friends’ subscription rises to £3
  • Riding school tenancy fails so community riding school operates again

1986

  • New tenants take over riding school
  • Detailed cost (£471,400) of essential refurbish-ment work not funded by GPJC
  • Victorian kitchens open in summer months, staffed by Friends
  • Friends redecorate Temple interior, saving GPJC £1,000
  • Fishing club takes over management of the Potomac Lake
  • More walkie-talkies worth £950 donated for use of Park staff
  • Ron Bartholomew proposal for rock concert in Park rejected

1987

  • Ron Bartholomew proposes rock concert again, seeks 3 year monopoly, Friends oppose it, GPJC turns him down
  • Successful Carter’s Steam Fair weekend in Park, alongside our fete
  • GPJC agrees Stables should be craft centre
  • Friends work with NACRO on Kitchens
  • autumn hurricane causes loss of 50 trees

1988

  • Friends raise £1,100 to sponsor new trees
  • Crafts Centre proposal collapses
  • Friends contract to run café ends but their excellent manager takes it over
  • Friends donate £300 to support pooper-scooper dog bins scheme at Gunnersbury
  • Orangery restoration by developer of Fiat site on Great West Road begins
  • Carters Steam Fair returns again

1989

  • GPJC considers new Stables proposals (auction rooms, restaurant and offices) each with space for museum carriages; favours offices because it brings most benefits with space for carriages, staff funding for museum, restoration of Japanese garden
  • Developer botches Orangery restoration – has to replace windows
  • Friends donate £900 from filming in the cafe for more notice-boards and signage
  • Ealing and Hounslow councillors on GPJC split on office proposals – arbitrator appointed
  • Serious dry rot – much of museum closed for major works
  • Friends issue fund-raising postcard
  • Christmas Cracker event held

1990

  • Museum re-opens
  • Stables dispute continues after elections – new councillors confused
  • GPJC rejects proposal to make the Park a conservation area
  • Cultural Co-operation’s Papua New Guinea music village in park a huge success
  • Hounslow refuses to accept arbitration, Planning Brief for Stables drawn up, Hounslow behaves as if Ealing has nothing to do with Gunnersbury – will Ealing walk away?
  • Friends fund museum postcards
  • Museum obtains £20,000 grant to convert former board room into Costume Gallery
  • Children die in Potomac, falling through ice
  • Friends sponsor Small Mansion exhibition by Hounslow Borough College students

1991

  • Friends run music in the Orangery
  • Friends donate £400 from concert to bring Anne Frank exhibition to Gunnersbury

1992

  • GPJC offers Gunnersbury to National Trust – which rejects it
  • Survey shows £2.5m needs to be spent on the two Mansions
  • Nursery to be let on commercial lease as no longer needed after competitive tendering of Parks service
  • Both councils cut £31,000 from annual budget
  • Friends employ fund-raising consultant
  • Catering contractor leaving, says Hounslow bureaucracy a nightmare, risks his business
  • Friends pay £252 for hand basin in ladies loo
  • Poores of Acton fund work on Large Mansion conservatory
  • Friends give £400 towards new Park guide
  • More vandalism especially Bath-House, Potomac Tower
  • Park worker backs vehicle into what remained of East Lodge
  • North lodge becomes Rangers’ HQ
  • Another Christmas Cracker

1993

  • GPJC applies to Lands Tribunal to vary covenants to lease nursery to Greenscene
  • Objections from local residents over-ruled
  • Friends given £100 for conservatory, plus large plant pots and plants
  • Monthly bric a brac sales raise funds
  • Victorian Gala – run by museum, Friends support
  • Friends help with specialist cleaning of stone stairs in Large Mansion
  • Rothschilds at Gunnersbury published, funded by Friends and local history societies
  • Volunteers caring for conservatory plants
  • Jazz in the Park – we sponsor two shows
  • Stables and Bath-house cocooned with scaffolding – English Heritage threaten formal repairs notice, will not provide any funds without coherent plan for whole park

1994

  • Gunnersbury Gala – Friends sponsor jazz again
  • Temple Trust set up, based in Temple, with small exhibitions
  • Another Christmas Cracker held
  • Working party planning future (reps from EH, LBH, LBE, Friends), commissions surveys and historical research – consultation at AGM

1995

  • Working Party report, Gunnersbury Park in the 21st Century, completed
  • Friends help run Gunnersbury Gala, VE Day theme
  • Commemorative seats installed
  • Friends volunteers help plant 10,000 daffodils/7,000 bluebells on Lionel Rd side
  • Development Plan completed – HLF bid in preparation
  • Capel Manor College opens branch at Gunnersbury
  • Small Mansion Arts centre financial crisis, nearly closes

1996

  • Friends run successful Fete
  • Park Lottery bid submitted
  • Events for 70th anniversary of Park opening
  • Friends begin to fund a Capel Manor student prize

1997

  • Capel Manor develops glasshouse training unit and floristry room
  • Consultants advise on HLF museum bid
  • Gunnersbury Gala & Friends Fete held
  • Gunnersbury Park in the 1920s published
  • New Potomac fishing lease – upgrading of banks, planting of waterlilies, reeds etc
  • Museum HLF consultation reveals support for new local history gallery, transport gallery, opening more of servants’ wing
  • Joint trip to Waddesdon & Tring with B&CLHS
  • First phase of Park HLF funding granted

1998

  • Friends donate £250 to buy replica foods to dress the Kitchens
  • HLF work begins: playground replaced, lamp standards restored/replicas made, Bath-House archaeology, drive resurfaced
  • 2 councillors resign from GPJC in protest at proposed charged-for kitchens attraction
  • Friends give £470 for bench seats, etc, for school lunches in conservatory
  • Friends give £75 for Kitchen clock and coals
  • HLF advises Museum to produce smaller and less grandiose application
  • More Friends bulb planting
  • New park and golf course contracts agreed
  • CIP takes on management of Park and Museum

1999

  • Friends commission landscape architect to advise on a Gunnersbury arboretum
  • Park information panels installed with Friends assistance on research and writing
  • Award from Poetry Society for Poetry Board in Park
  • Classical concerts

2000

  • Friends support group planning Japanese Gardens restoration scheme
  • First classical concerts
  • Italian Garden restoration (HLF) begins
  • Museum exhibition tours and Roman handling session for Friends

2001

  • Special briefing for GPJC and CIP trustees, lunch from Friends
  • Friends give £360 to help purchase of Dennis Morris photos of Southall
  • Celebration of completed HLF-funded work
  • Fund-raising concert for Japanese Gardens
  • Japan Day or Matsuri, major international event, Buddhist ground-breaking ceremony for restoration of Japanese Gardens
  • Open House, Large Mansion tours Friends staff Bath-House

2002

  • New Friends’ events programme of talks
  • Museum takes over vacant flats in Large Mansion for storage and work space
  • Park listed Grade 2*
  • First part of CIP feasibility study on Japanese Gardens completed, Japanese garden designer visits and advises
  • Queen visits Gunnersbury for Jubilee party
  • Gifts to Friends: £300 in memory of Vince Culling, cyclist, £150 from Brentham Society and £1,500 when Southfield Community Association wound up
  • Playstation event proposed, GPJC rejects it for both 2002 and 2003
  • Serious proposals sought for Stables – again
  • New staff structure, Curator to run Park as well
  • Open House Day – Friends staff Bath-House and Temple
  • Impact of cabinet government in two boroughs – GPJC now has no power

2003

  • Golf course hut and farm changing rooms severely damaged by fire
  • Secrecy over Stables proposals until October – Royal College of Art was preferred bidder but withdraws
  • New Capel Manor Rothschild Centre opened
  • Classical concert and first London Mela – great successes
  • London Open House – Friends staff Bath-House again
  • Museum/Park Manager refuses to submit Japanese Garden HLF bid – Friends return all the donations
  • Friends talks programme continues, and Christ-mas fund-raiser in Bath-House
  • North Lodge closed

2004

  • Proposal for Butterfly House to come to Gunnersbury approved
  • Bulb planting again
  • Both councils cut contribution to budget – £155,000 less
  • Friends obtain grant of £16,000 to install public toilets in the museum
  • Friends fund purchase of 1914 Brentford FC souvenir for collection
  • Classical Concert and second Mela successful
  • Common Ground Anglo-Sikh festival in park to launch new heritage trail
  • Open House – we staff Bath-House again
  • Inappropriate steps installed to Bath house
  • Boating comes to an end – no operator found
  • 9 of 21 buildings at risk on EH list in LB Hounslow are at Gunnersbury
  • Preparing conservation plan will cost £70k
  • Slow progress on farm dressing rooms – 2 years after fire nothing done

2005

  • Museum opening hours simplified
  • Dance music festival proposal rejected
  • Third Mela successful
  • Arts Centre bid for more space rejected and served notice to quit by March 2006
  • CIP Review suggests strengthening LB Hounslow monitoring
  • EH/HLF Mansions in Parks report considers 10 London parks – G Park has 2 of the problem mansions
  • Planning permission for Butterfly House agreed then called in – project fails
  • Bath House vandalised twice
  • Consultants reports advise creation of new body to take over Gunnersbury Estate
  • Friends donate £320 to buy beam alarm system to protect carriages
  • Work experience gardening project for autistic students, Friends fund plants etc

2006

  • Museum/Park manager leaves, post not filled
  • Another staff restructuring planned by new Head of Culture and Heritage
  • Small Mansion Arts Centre lease ends but proposed short-term scheme with TVU fails
  • Special discussion day for GPJC to consider future – agrees new organisation essential but then GPJC decides not to wind itself up
  • Both boroughs go Conservative at election
  • CIP licensing application a shambles, causes opposition
  • Fourth Mela successful
  • Friends AGM marks 25 years with special cake
  • Mrs Meyers donates £135 for new plants
  • Head of Culture and Heritage leaves, post cut
  • CIP begins bidding for renewal of contract

2007

  • Preparation of Conservation Management Plan begins, Friends’ Chairman on steering group
  • Old fruit trees lost in storm
  • Donations of over £100 made in memory of Friend Mrs Olga Hodson
  • Friends volunteers paint children’s play equip-ment near cafe
  • Lead stolen from Large Mansion and bath-house roofs
  • GPJC wound up, new Regeneration Board of 6 councillors instead but meetings/minutes no longer public, no Friends’ observers
  • Director of Development post advertised – will manage long-term planning and fund-raising for Gunnersbury with Regeneration Board

2008

  • Richard Gill takes up post of Director of Development in late February
  • Consultation on Conservation Management Plan completed, Plan adopted
  • John Laing and Fusion take on new Leisure contract in place of CIP
  • Jura Consultants preparing Options Appraisal

2009

  • Friends launch website