I’ve lingered long enough and now it’s time to move on - but not before I highlight the sterling work of the Bedford Park Society which, in conjunction with the_victorian_society, strives to ensure the survival and integrity of this most charming enclave.
Once the first flush of its popularity had subsided, Bedford Park’s fortunes went into free-fall. The tide of fashion turned; formerly spacious family residences were divided into cheaper, and yet cheaper, bed-sits. So down-at-heel did the area become that it was eventually dubbed ‘Poverty Park’ by irreverent bus conductors.
With their urge to make all things new, the early Sixties were particularly perilous. The demolition of The Bramptons, and its subsequent replacement by a five-storey block of flats in - horror! - yellow brick, galvanised a handful of influential residents, backed by John Betjeman, to form a local preservation society with the stated aim of conserving what was increasingly recognised as an architectural landmark. Now a registered charity, the Society doesn’t confine itself to bricks and mortar. It actively encourages home-owners to take a personal interest in the history of the neighbourhood through a vigorous and informative programme of meetings, lectures and exhibitions. Issues relating to street furniture, traffic, parking and even recycling are also covered. The results are clear to be seen by the most casual visitor: it’s said that Bedford Park is in better shape today than it has ever been.
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