Richmond Society new constitution

Following the approval of the proposal at last year’s AGM to incorporate the Society, which included also approval of a draft constitution, the Charity Commission has approved the establishment of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

An increasing number of charities are taking this step as it has the benefits of simplifying contractual arrangements and protecting the position of the trustees.  This change should have no significant effect on your membership of the Society. The charitable objects of the CIO will be the same as at present and the trustees will also not change as a result of the change of legal status. The membership fee too will be unaffected by the change in legal status.

The Richmond Society’s Exec Committee is now transferring all the activities, assets and liabilities of the Richmond Society to the new CIO.

As a result of this change, the Society has adopted a new constitution.

Please follow this link if you would like to view the new constitution.

Annual Awards 2016

Annual Awards 2016 logo.
The Richmond Society’s Annual Awards for 2016 were presented on Thursday 22nd September by our new patron, Baroness van Dedem, with Richmond’s Mayor, Councillor David Linnette, as the guest of honour.

This year’s brass plaque was given for the restoration of the Collcutt fountain at the top of Richmond Hill by the entrance to Richmond Park.

Collcutt Fountain restoration

Annual Awards 2016: Restoration of the Collcutt Function on Richmond Hill.

Borough of Richmond upon Thames
David Sharp,
Head of Construction & Maintenance

Consulting Architect
Donald Insall Associates
John Dangerfield, Associate Director

Paul Cleghorn Public Lighting Ltd
Paul Cleghorn, Proprietor

Grant giver
Borough of Richmond upon Thames
Civic Pride Fund
Councillor Pam Fleming
Richmond Civic Trust –
London Community Foundation
Sam Smallcombe, Programme & Monitoring Manager

Major funder
London Square
Mark Smith,
Development & Technical Director

The Richmond Society
Nicky Wood, Chair,
Landscaping & Riverside Committee

Awards were also given for the restoration of Dunstable House and of the Clerestory Windows in the Parish Church.

Restoration of Dunstable House on Sheen Road

Annual Awards 2016: Restoration of Dunstable House on Sheen Road.

Bencameron Ltd

M R Partnership Ltd
Christopher Watts, Director & Consultant Architect

Jaspar Management Ltd
Anish Patel


Restoration of the Clerestory Windows
in the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene

Annual Awards 2016: Restoration of the Clerestory Windows in the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene

Richmond Team Ministry
The Reverend Wilma Roest

Peter Bowyer, Parish Architect

Richard Murphy

Original Stained Glass & Glazing Company
Tyrone Russell

Honorable Mentions

The Richmond Society also commended the following developments:

  • The new Travelodge at 9 Paradise Road
  • Gail’s Bakery in Lichfield Court
  • Maintenance and enhancement of the Terrace Gardens


Queen’s 90th Birthday tree planting

The Richmond Society recently donated a black poplar tree to the National Trust to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday.


It was planted on Petersham Meadows earlier this week in a ceremony attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Richmond together with representatives of the National Trust and the Richmond Society.

Chair of the Richmond Society, Professor Ian Bruce, commented: “This commemoration marks an important milestone and also helps ensure the addition of a rare native Black Poplar in ideal meadow conditions.”

Richmond Society Annual Report and Accounts 2015

The Society’s executive committee’s report and accounts for the year 2015 can be found on our Annual Reports page, or downloaded from this link.

It includes the annual Statement from the Chair, Professor Ian Bruce CBE.

As we go to press one of the most significant local issues is the decision on whether Heathrow will have an additional runway. If the answer from the government is yes, it will be a blow, especially in the light of earlier promises, but the battle will not be over: there will be judicial process challenges and challenges for Heathrow to meet legal, regulatory and common sense requirements on air quality/health, safety and finance, leaving aside the inevitable outcry over the misery that will accompany a fifty per-cent uplift in planes flying over one of the most populous cities in the world. The Richmond Society has been active in opposition throughout the year through its active participation in Richmond Heathrow Campaign chaired by the indefatigable Peter Willan.

Last year I mentioned Village Planning as one of the subjects engaging our attention, with over 100 members involved in discussing and drawing up priority lists of positive change they would like to see take place. Our method of working has been recommended to other community groups. This engagement has continued during the year with progress already on some of the priorities, such as access to public lavatories. While we still have no additional “good old fashioned public lavatories” the need has been recognised by the Council and increased financial incentives for commercial outlets to make their facilities open to the public has worked. For example numbers of ‘community toilets’ in Richmond and Richmond Hill have risen from only one in full operation to 26. See

We have had another year of excellent speakers organised by Janice Kay with, for example, Michael Frayn drawing in a rapt audience of 300 members and guests. Indeed guests at our talks are a major source of new members who totalled 120 this year, producing a net gain to a new membership high of 1,134 as of the end of the financial year. We are recruiting more members with young children, aided by three events a year aimed at this group, with the high spot over the last year of a Barn Dance in the garden of St Mary’s vicarage using historical tunes and steps which attracted members from one to 90 years.

2015 was a national election year and we were delighted to partner with the Kew Society to put on a Hustings at Duke Street Church at which all the local parliamentary candidates were questioned by our memberships – answers which helped people to decide how to vote. Promoting civic engagement is an important function of the Richmond Society.

Hon Secretaries do a lot of work in relatively little limelight and so it was well deserved to see our own Pat Spaight being recognised among the community awards given by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames this year. May I also acknowledge Geoff Hyde who, as our Hon Independent examiner, plays an important part in giving people confidence that our affairs are managed properly. We are also grateful to Ginny Curry who has taken up the role of Membership Secretary. Our Executive Committee, and indeed all our committees and volunteers have worked hard this year to bring about our successes, and I thank everyone who has contributed.

Proposed changes to the Richmond Society constitution

Incorporation of the Richmond Society 

The Society’s trustees are proposing to change the Society’s legal structure from that of a trust to an organisation with limited liability. Now that the Charity Commission (the charity regulator) has introduced a new form of limited liability structure – the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (or CIO) – an increasing number of charities are taking this step as it has the benefits of simplifying contractual arrangements and protecting the position of the trustees.

The legal process through which the change in the Society’s legal structure takes place involves:
1. Approval by the members of the Richmond Society at the AGM in December of the proposal to incorporate the Society and approval of the draft constitution for the CIO.
2. Application to the Charity Commission to set up the CIO.
3. Transfer of all of the activities, assets and liabilities of the Richmond Society to the new CIO.

You will probably be most interested in how this affects the position of the members of the Society and we are pleased to be able to tell you that it should have no significant effect. Your membership and its benefits, whether you are an annual or a life member, will be transferred to the CIO (which will be called the Richmond Society). The charitable objects of the CIO will be the same as at present and the trustees will also not change as a result of the change of legal status. The membership fee too will be unaffected by the change in legal status.

The constitution of the new CIO looks somewhat different from the existing constitution. The Charity Commission has a standard model CIO constitution, which it expects all charities substantially to follow. We have amalgamated the principles of the Society’s existing constitution with the model constitution and we are satisfied that the Society’s existing governance arrangements will continue largely unaffected by the change in legal status.

The proposed constitution and some explanatory notes are available as follows:
Richmond Society Proposed Constitution November 2015
Richmond Society Proposed Constitution November 2015 Explanatory Notes

The Society’s trustees have carefully considered this matter and believe, unanimously, that the change in the Society’s legal structure is in the best long-term interests of the charity, and we do hope you will support us.

RSPA Fountain on Richmond Hill

The RSPA fountain by the Star and Garter in Richmond

The RSPA fountain by the Star and Garter in Richmond

The Collcutt Cattle Fountain is a fine example of Arts and Crafts design and Victorian metalwork, Listed Grade II, and is one of only a few remaining intact examples of the work of the notable Victorian architect T.E.Collcutt, another being the tower of the Imperial Institute in South Kensington.

The Cattle Fountain was commissioned to commemorate the work of the local branch of the RSPCA.   A design was published in Building News in 1891 for a decorative fountain and drinking trough for cattle & horses that had toiled to the top of Richmond Hill. Collcutt even included a drinking trough for dogs, at ground level.

Recently we realised that the monument required major repair. The Richmond Society obtained estimates for the necessary repair work and raised funds towards the costs of repair, with work being overseen by LBRuT’s consulting architect, John Dangerfield of Donald Insall Associates.

The decorative metalwork canopy was removed to a conservation workshop so that essential repairs to the structural elements and finishes could be carried out.  The lanterns were fully restored, and rewired using eco-friendly LED lamps. In addition masonry repairs and re-pointing were carried out on site to the granite trough.

The works are jointly funded by the Richmond Society’s Landscaping Fund, London Square, LBRuT’s Civic Pride Fund and The London Community Foundation’s Richmond Civic Trust Fund.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign responds to the Davies Commission

Proposed Heathrow Third Runway location, to the north-west of the two existing runways

Proposed Heathrow Third Runway location, to the north-west of the two existing runways

On 1st July the Airports Commission published its recommendation to government proposing a third runway northwest of the existing northern runway (the NWR option). The Commission favoured Heathrow on economic grounds but did not rule out Gatwick. It is now the government’s decision to take. While disappointed, the Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC) believes a 3rd runway is undeliverable on economic and environmental grounds and we will actively challenge the recommendation and any decision by government to expand Heathrow.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign wrote to all MPs enclosing a flyer (see for this) a fortnight before the Airports Commission issued its final report.  This covered the UK economy, financial deliverability, carbon emissions, air quality, noise, local economy, surface access and safety. The facts remain largely unchanged following the Commission’s recommendation.

We have significant doubts about the benefits to the wider UK economy, the material increase in the number of long-haul business passenger seats, the benefit of the large number of international transfer passengers using Heathrow as a hub and the cost/benefit analysis. These are four main reasons the Commission chose Heathrow.

And of course there are the arguments against Heathrow expansion.  These include unsustainable CO2 emissions, unlawful air pollution levels, substantial additional noise for much of west London, and severe public transport and traffic congestion.

The Richmond Heathrow Campaign continues to work to maximise influence on the government’s future decision, in conjunction with HACAN and with a new organisation: Coalition against Heathrow Expansion.

For more details, see the Richmond Heathrow Campaign’s website.

Kew Science: The Next 255 Years

Richmond Society Meeting, 14 May 2015, Duke Street Church

The audience braved unfavourable weather to hear Professor Kathy Willis deliver a fascinating forecast on science strategy at Kew Gardens. She became Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford in 2010 and is also an adjunct Professors in Biology at the University of Bergen. Kathy was appointed Director of Science at Kew Gardens in 2013 and has introduced a new science strategy.

The talk focused on past, present and future science at Kew. Kathy explained that while Kew began life in 1759 as a pleasure garden, by 1800 it was a repository for flora from across the world. Today Kew has 260 science staff and facilities including extensive collections laboratories. This side of Kew is less well known than the gardens.

Kew’s original scientific role was the identification and naming of species, which continues to the present day. Historically Kew also had a role identifying plants for medicinal use and, by the 1860s, plants to grow the Empire including rubber. By 1960, Kew was focused on the genetics of plants, the green revolution and feeding a growing population.

Despite this heritage Kew had never had a science strategy and little was understood about this role. Furthermore, its scientific staff had a very broad range of interests. The science strategy provides a greater focus to the science at Kew to help towards meeting the biggest challenges. These challenges include climate change, the growing population, biofuels and their competition with food crops and the lack of conserved land.

The Kew Science Strategy (2015-2020) has three strategic priorities:

1. To document and conduct research into global plant and fungal diversity and its uses for humanity.

2. To curate and provide data-rich evidence from Kew’s unrivalled collections as a global asset for scientific research.

3. To disseminate our scientific knowledge of plants and fungi, maximising its impact in science, education, conservation policy and management.

On the first priority, despite scientific advances there is much to discover in remote locations in, for example, Africa. Kathy explained that she is often challenged about why public funds should be used to research African plants and used the example of coffee to illustrate the relevance to a UK taxpayer.

Globally, coffee is the second most important commodity after oil. Worldwide there are 125 known coffee species but we drink only Arabica and Robusta beans. Kew research has analysed what will happen to those coffee resources as climate change advances. This research predicts that by 2050 the Arabica variety will lose up to 100% of its habitat. This leads to research to find climate-smart coffee that can sustain local populations like Ethiopia’s 18 million people who are dependent on the coffee trade.

On the second priority, Kew contributes diverse collections including 7 million dried specimens in the Herbarium and 1.25 million dried fungi in the fungarium. These resources are used to focus on research gaps. Kathy provided examples of the diverse questions being addressed including how floral chemistry alters bee behaviour and how genome size alters replication speeds.

The third priority is to improve the dissemination of research. This includes making more information digital and developing an online plants portal. There are plans to digitise the entire herbarium as part of the Reflora programme. This will entail sending industrial-scale volumes of samples to the Netherlands over nine months. The process will then utilise citizen transcription to record the information from the barcodes generated during the digitisation. Further dissemination and education activities include science festivals for children and a Masters programme to train the next generation of Taxonomists.

This refocusing of Kew’s scientific outputs has come in parallel with budget cuts and organisational restructuring. The remaining departments are each responsible for contributing to a renewed focus on outward-facing science. All this, Kathy explained, was to ensure that by 2020 Kew is recognised globally and is making a demonstrable contribution in the response to the world’s biggest challenges.

Kathy closed by taking questions from the floor, questions that she later observed were excellent and some of the best she had taken after a talk. In return the audience had been given privileged insight to the past, present and future importance of science at Kew.

Heathrow Fact Sheets

rhcfactsflyer-thumbnailThe Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies is due to submit its final report shortly.  On Wednesday 17th June, the Richmond Heathrow Campaign launched a set of factsheets about Heathrow expansion.  In summarising facts and evidence they expose several myths that have not been questioned before.

There are eight factsheets.  There is also a summary of all eight that can be found on the homepage of a new website,  We have sent this to every MP, and also distributed it to journalists at the launch of Zac Goldsmith MP’s New Heathrow Flight Path Campaign.

In short, the facts are:

(1) The UK Economy: the Commission’s own figures show that Heathrow expansion would not add significantly to the UK economy or add further connectivity to the UK as a whole.  Instead it would artificially stoke overheating of the South-East at the expense of the rest of the UK.

(2) Deliverability: Heathrow expansion may require £54 billion or more of funding.  State aid would be difficult to justify given the spare capacity at other airports and the prevalence at Heathrow of transfers and leisure passengers from the UK, which provide little benefit to the UK economy.

(3) Carbon: It is very likely that Heathrow airport’s growth will be constrained even more than currently predicted in the Airports Commission’s modelling by the impact of carbon emissions, rendering a third runway uneconomic.

(4) Air Quality: Given that existing airport operations already result in a breach of legal air pollution limits, it seems unlikely that a third runway could be built while remaining within the law.

(5) Noise: Heathrow expansion is likely to expose several hundred thousand Londoners to aircraft noise for the first time and the uncertainty of flight paths may blight parts of London for several years.

(6) Local Economy: The local economy will grow whether or not Heathrow expands.  Moreover, it has not yet been shown how sufficient housing could be provided to support Heathrow expansion.

(7) Surface Access: Transport for London (TfL) has calculated that an investment of up to £20 billion will be needed to support a third runway at Heathrow. The consequences of inadequate investment would be poor travelling experience on public transport and increased resort to road transport, generating more air pollution and traffic congestion.

(8) Safety: Proposals for steeper flight paths on landing and for curved approaches to reduce noise raise new safety concerns. The multi-use of a single extended runway for take-off and landing has not been tested at any airport in the world, let alone one as busy as Heathrow.

Over the coming weeks we will be socialising these messages with journalists and decision-makers.  If you are able to help in the process, please contact us.

Planning Matters May 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015

The application for the Fanzone temporary construction beside the Polls on the Park is now in and a very large undertaking it is.

Having regard to the some 15,000 visitors which the Fanzone is anticipated to receive, at any one time, we have been taking considerable interest in the conditions relating to the dismantling of those structures and the restoration of the land taken by the site, both as to timetable and landscaping.

The wear on this part of the Old Deer Park cannot but be massive given the timetable and numbers and it is instructive to note that, as yet no operator has been contracted to manage the site.

Deer Park School, London House

The speed and size of demographic growth in the school age population appears to have taken forecasters by surprise. The result has been a rush to provide much needed scholastic space in a borough not known for either the availability of large, compatible sites nor for their cheapness.

The current proposal, on the Red Route of the A316, has brought vociferous opposition not only from immediate neighbours but also from residents of East Twickenham where, it is felt, the demand truly lies

We await submission of the planning application before commenting on this proposal.

Contemporary Architecture

The Development Management Plan of 2011 introduced a demand for future projects to fit in with the architecture of their surroundings. The phraseology was that they should “take architectural clues” from neighbouring buildings.

Whilst we have no hesitation in agreeing that such a policy has its merits, and indeed we have given a Brass Plaque Award, under the annual awards scheme, to property in Montague Road which admirably fits just that criterion, we feel that the policy has been too narrowly defined and the result has been an almost complete exclusion of consents being issued for contemporary architecture.

Our reasoning is that the quality of build is as important as that of design and that when the two are combined then contemporary styles have a significant place in the townscape which, if excluded, serve to impoverish the legacy which current policy will leave to future generations and we have made vigourous representations to the council to that effect.