Category Archives: Community

Mayor unveils Richmond Society information board

Richmond’s Mayor, Councillor Geoff Acton, in his first engagement since his re‑election to a second year in office, on Thursday unveiled an information board marking 800 years of St Mary Magdalene Church at the heart of the town.

The board, provided by The Richmond Society as a gift to the town, includes descriptions of the church’s architectural development and prominent members of its past congregations.

Photo of Richmond Society Chairman and Mayor Geoff Acton at the unveiling

It is based on research by Peter Bowyer, Parish Architect; Paul Velluet, President, Richmond Local History Society; the Museum of Richmond; and members of the Rector Canon Wilma Roest’s congregation. Illustrations were created on scratch board by Caroline Church, whose work also adorns other boards placed in other parts of the town by the Society. Caroline’s late father David Church was a Chairman of the Society.

In the photo, the Mayor is seen with Society’s current Chairman Barry May.

Dominic Palacio – Changing Lives Through the Power and Influence of Sport

Dominic Palacio, Head of Community at Richmond Rugby, spoke to The Richmond Society on Thursday 15th April 2021 about the extensive work of Richmond Rugby in the community, particularly during the pandemic.

Dominic writes:

Richmond Rugby Community department, at its basic level is to promote and encourage the participation of rugby in local borough schools and we now deliver weekly rugby coaching in over 20 schools. Since the Covid pandemic hit we have had major restrictions delivering our normal work, so we decided to focus our resources helping those most in need in our local community.

Each school holiday we have cooked and delivered a nutritional meal to vulnerable children – averaging over 60 meals per day, we even cooked and delivered a Christmas meal for entire families on Christmas Day. We have a team of nearly 20 local volunteers who help us with the daily deliveries.

When schools were shut again by government in early January we focussed our effort in receiving and then refurbishing second hand laptops and tablets from local people every Saturday throughout January. To date we have had donated over 800 devices, and over 200 of which have been professionally wiped and refurbished and distributed to over 23 local schools.

Our other work extends to running a Rugby Rehabilitation programme for young men aged 15 – 18 years of age in HMP Feltham Youth Offenders Institute. And a joint partnership with the Met Police and the MCC foundation running a crime prevent programme – using sport as the platform to help educate children in deprived areas of the risks of gangs and criminal activity.

The Richmond Society responds to the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Culture Review

The Richmond Society, a civic and amenity charity of nearly 1,300 members in North and South Richmond Wards and part of Ham, Petersham and Riverside Ward, held a forum on Thursday 15 October 2020 to discuss how the Arts could help to revive Richmond. Participants were leading figures in the Arts and business in Richmond as well as the Council’s spokesperson for the Arts.

The forum was in the context of the deleterious effect on mental health and wellbeing caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its adverse effects on public life. At that point, people had been deprived of cultural nourishment for more than six months, although the availability of abundant open spaces in the immediate area and across the borough had been important to the preservation of physical and mental health in the face of widespread challenges affecting all sections of the population.

Richmond is rightly celebrated for the diversity and richness of its cultural and leisure offerings. When post-pandemic life returns to normal it is unlikely to be as it was before COVID-19 began to infect people at the beginning of 2020. People will have adjusted to a pattern of less frequent commuting and increased working from home, with more time for cultural, social and other leisure pursuits which they will seek increasingly in their immediate or nearby neighbourhoods.

Hence the concept of the 15-minute city in which proximity permits minimal travel between homes, workplaces, restaurants, cultural venues, parks and sports facilities. Richmond is ideally placed to benefit from this behavioural change. In many ways, it is already a 10-minute town.

Our virtual forum recognised that the Arts have a part to play in restoring vibrancy to a town centre made desolate by the demise of many retail, entertainment and hospitality businesses. It also showed that business and the Arts can work together for mutual and public benefit. For example, businesses have employees who are potential daytime consumers of the Arts; they may also have funds to sponsor something that fits their objectives. Property developers and landlords, with the encouragement of the local authority, could be asked to do more to support the culture sector. Hoardings around development sites could be made more interesting with information about local history or old photos. Recently, Be Richmond (the Business Improvement District) has led the way on this by producing colourful vinyl coverings for the windows of vacant shops. They feature local places of cultural interest – an initiative that we applaud. Be Richmond has other initiatives in the pipeline.

Our Borough is blessed with an abundance of parks and open spaces – amenities that make it so attractive as a place in which to live, work or visit. The present consultation should usefully examine whether they provide adequate facilities and are kept safe for the enjoyment of residents of all ages and abilities in the face of increased incidents of anti-social behaviour, particularly since the start of the public health emergency.

Although the decline in the retail sector began with the trend towards online shopping – i.e. before the pandemic – it was exacerbated by the effects of government measures to deal with the spread of the disease. People have been obliged to learn new habits. So the revival of the High Street may not be possible on the same terms as before. Fresh thinking is needed to bring shoppers, who are contributors to the local economy, back to retail centres. People will need another reason beside the acquisition of things to be persuaded to return. The shopping experience will have to be raised to a higher level of engagement and retailers will need to offer more than artful window displays and enticingly stacked shelves. The Arts sector can be a partner to them and to the local authority in devising imaginative ways to make this happen.

Many ideas for restoring vitality to the town emerged at The Richmond Society forum. These included:

  • Creation of a new town square as a permanent outdoor performance space for cultural performances near the under-utilised Old Town Hall and the Riverside.
  • A street-level location for the Museum of Richmond, which is all but hidden in a remote, difficult- to-access part of the Old Town Hall.
  • Pop-up exhibitions of contemporary visual arts in static window displays in vacant shopfronts.
  • Use of hoardings around building works to depict local artists.
  • Creation of a vibrant, creative studio space – possibly one or more of the many empty shops – to host active artists and help them financially to develop their own ideas, engage the community and create work that animates the townscape.
  • Allocation of studio space in vacant buildings such as the former House of Fraser department site in George Street where artists can work and produce everything from fashion to sculpture to music.
  • Production of a performing arts, circus-style street festival.
  • Bring landlords and artisans together.
  • Engage young people in re-building the cultural scene.

The present review of cultural services flows naturally from this initiative.

The Richmond Society is pleased that the Council is looking towards a ten-year vision for the culture sector and we are keen to work with all stakeholders on how it can be implemented.

Our enthusiasm is tempered only by our conviction that the need is more pressing than a ten-year view would allow. Therefore we would encourage the Council to take more immediate, shorter- term steps to support the cultural community.

Society to Council: Open public loos now to prevent anti-social behaviour

The Richmond Society has urged Richmond Council to provide public lavatories in a bid to prevent a repeat of anti-social behaviour witnessed in popular gathering places last year.

Action is needed urgently before the start of finer weather and the visitor season if Richmond is not to be plagued by incidents of urination and defecation on public and private property, including residents’ gardens.

Provision of public lavatories is under review by the Council with the aim of agreeing a plan of action by the end of March. There has been no indication that the Council will accede to residents’ demands for a permanent solution to the dearth of facilities or, as a temporary measure, install portable toilets.

The Society is working with councillors for South Richmond, which attracts most visitors and where most incidents occurred in 2020. Areas affected included the Green, the Riverside and the Hill.

The Society’s Chairman, Barry May, in a message to Council Leader Gareth Roberts, said the absence of facilities raised issues of public health, hygiene, safety and decency.

He asked whether there is an allocation in the current financial year’s budget for provision of public lavatories. If not, what re-allocation is envisaged so that facilities can be put in place in time for this year’s visitor season?

“Given the damage inflicted by lockdown and other consequences of measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on the local hospitality, leisure and retail sectors it is only natural that the Council would wish to attract visitors. To do so without providing adequate facilities, however, would be reckless,” he wrote.

The Council’s Community Toilet Scheme, in which hospitality, leisure and retail premises are paid a monthly fee to allow members of the public who are not customers to use their facilities, whilst helpful in theory, has failed in practice.

Portable toilets, although considered by some to be an unsightly second-best solution, would be better than no solution. They can be only a temporary stop-gap, however.

Richmond Society Arts Forum recording

Thursday 15th October 2020
Panel Discussion: How can the Arts help to revitalise Richmond?


Anne Sebbaauthor, presenter, lecturer and former President, Arts Richmond


Ann Chapman-DanielChair, Richmond Business Improvement District


Cllr John Coombs – Richmond upon Thames spokesperson for Arts


Dr Hilary Dodman – Chair, Arts Richmond


Paul Miller – Artistic Director, Orange Tree Theatre

The recording of this meeting is now available.
If you would like to watch it please click here.
The pass code is SS=gX&1@.

Anti-Social Behaviour in Richmond

The Richmond Society is deeply concerned at anti-social behaviour and crime in the town and surrounding area as COVID-19 lockdown measures have eased. We intend to work closely with the Council, police and others to deliver improvements.

In the meantime we urge you strongly to tell the police about further incidents. You should register incidents online at www.met.police/uk. If you seek police attendance call 101 and the police will register the call and decide the priority. If you need support right away call 999.

The Society’s Trustee responsible for the town centre, licensing, anti-social behaviour and police liaison is Peter Willan. He writes:

Richmond has always been a magnet for visitors from all over London during the summer. Now it risks being the destination of choice for visitors who, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cluster and create disorder and intimidate, threaten and scare residents and other visitors. They fight and brawl, and violence erupts.

Urination and defecation in open spaces and close to homes has reached crisis levels. Noise and music disturbance, sometimes to 3:00 am, has escalated. ASB, disorder and crime in Richmond’s evening economy have risen seriously.

A large virtual public meeting arranged by the Council Leader, Cllr Gareth Roberts, with a presentation by the Police Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, was attended by Society members. Members of the public, including two Trustees and other members, asked questions. A video recording of the conference can be viewed here.

Pro-active intervention and deterrence by the police and the Council’s Parkguard last weekend using dispersal and other powers reduced the number of more serious incidents and the edginess that pervaded the Green, the Riverside and the Terrace and Terrace Gardens on Richmond Hill.

The re-opening of pubs, bars and restaurants this coming Saturday and the Government’s easing of licensing laws could result in Richmond’s streets and open spaces becoming one large beer garden.

We are discussing with the authorities the lack of lavatories and the prevention of the more serious incidents of crime and disorder including drugs dealing. Disruptive people must be discouraged from coming to Richmond. The supermarket supply of alcohol to under-age drinkers is also a high priority for attention.

The Society seeks a much-needed update of the Council’s 2011 observational study of Richmond’s evening economy. We are also reviewing the application of legal powers of dispersion and Public Space Protection Orders. We are discussing with the authorities fixed and mobile CCTV coverage, and signage informing people of ASB laws and penalties.

We will continue to update you and welcome your observations about any part of the town and its surrounds that need attention. Please send any comments to us at

Life under Lockdown

Social distancing, self-isolating and the new normal

In the Richmond Society News of 23rd April, our chairman Barry May called for photos, short audio or video clips (less than one minute), or stories (less than 100 words), on what’s different in Richmond since social distancing and self-isolating became a thing and a new normal changed us. Here are some of the contributions.

A quiet day on Water Lane

Lamar Raine, one of The Richmond Society’s volunteers, has just completed a pen and ink and watercolour showing an all but deserted vista down to the river. She writes:

“My street, Water Lane, is now usually full of people walking to and from the river. As I watched the trees leaf up since my quarantine 27 February, having come back from Half Term in Italy, this painting shows the change. More birdlife than people and not a plane in the sky. A lovely change! However, it also shows our fabulous but now closed, new local, ‘The Waterman’s’. Indeed a sad change. Much work had gone into its ten month makeover with such a well received opening last November. Richmond Society members may know its great food, fabulous wine and warm hospitality – Karen Feeney generously hosted a ‘Thank You’ drinks for our supporters there 28 February. Let’s hope it can re-open again very soon!”.

Watercolour of the view down Water Lane, Richmond, painted by Lamar Raine

Tango by the Thames

Loic Verrall writes: “My Grandfather, Eric Ruggier, who is 88, and loves dancing Tango. Well, with the restrictions of social distancing, he has managed to work out how to continue dancing Tango, with his dancing partner, Jola, by using a broomstick!”

Enjoying the quiet

Lisa Perez writes: “There’s no boating allowed on the Thames during lockdown, but at least we can sit on the moored boat and enjoy the quiet”.

Photo of dog looking out from bow of boat on Thames

Safe Distancing

Our first contribution was from new member Sandra Thwaites:

By 7am I am walking at a prompt pace along the Thames path to avoid other path users that increase in numbers later in the morning.

With the weather so glorious the temptation to stare at anything other than four walls has never before been so precious. Whereas most people are considerate enough to maintain a safe distance on the river path there are unfortunately, as with any restrictions on human behaviour, the odd few who appear to be completely oblivious to me. In such situations I take responsibility for my own health and move out of the way.

Richmond under Lockdown

How are you coping with life under lockdown? What has changed for you in these strange times of keeping your distance from others; shuttered shops, pubs and restaurants; controlled access to supermarkets; streets emptied of traffic and fewer people about?

Every cloud… Have you noticed the clearer, unpolluted skies enabling you to see farther and allowing birdsong to be heard in our gardens and open spaces?

Send us a photo, record a 1-minute audio or video clip, write a story (100 words max), on what’s different in Richmond since social distancing and self-isolating became a thing and a new normal changed us.

Photo of benches at Bridge House Gardens with Lockdown Richmond hashtagIf you use social media – Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – go to the Richmond Society pages and use the hashtags #lockdownrichmond and #loverichmond

Links to help you get through Lockdown

The following links may help to get through confinement to your home during the current health emergency. If you know of others worth sharing, please tell us.

Theatre, Musical & Circus

Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre (OT On Screen)is currently showing the play Amsterdam for free

London Theatre: Five theatres streaming productions to watch at home for free

The National Theatre is streaming one of its full-length plays for free every week

The Globe Theatre is streaming a recording of one of its full-length plays every two weeks

The Southwark Playhouse Theatre Company is streaming four of its plays at no charge

Andrew Lloyd Webber is making one of his full-length musicals available for free viewing on YouTube every weekend. Subscribe to his channel here

Cirque du Soleil has uploaded a series of one-hour performances onto its YouTube channel

Classical, Opera & Ballet

Classic FM’s best live-streamed classical music concerts online

Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall

Royal Opera House

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is streaming a different opera on its website every night – free

The Australian Ballet is streaming one ballet performance every two weeks, free of charge


BBC Sounds Radio 3 item about The Lass of Richmond Hill

Museum of Richmond temporary exhibition on Queen’s Road: 500 years of history

Other Entertainment & Education

Curzon Cinemas streaming (£)

Museum of Modern Art, New York: Free online classes from MoMA

25 of the best video games to help you socialise while self-isolating

Cooking & Catering

Some local restaurants are providing an online ordering and delivery service. Go directly to their websites for details.

Keep Cooking & Carry On with Jamie Oliver

The Barefoot Contessa Recipes


Coronavirus: Stay fit to fight the virus

NHS Get fit for free

NHS Vinyasa flow yoga


You can sign up to the UK Government daily email updates on the coronavirus pandemic

Sarah Olney MP’s blog


Coronavirus conditions: what to do if you think you are infected

Richmond Council, including how to seek help from the Community Hub