WALKS AND TALKS
Our Summerstown182 Walks have been described as ‘One of the best things I have ever done in Tooting’. They are a great way for people to get to know the neighbourhood a little better. Over the last three years we have done around 30 walks in the Earlsfield and Tooting area. Look out for the dates on our website and via social media. One very special Walk this year to conclude the commemoration period will be a Walk of Remembrance on Saturday 11th November. This ‘double circuit’ Walk will start at 11am from outside St Mary’s Church. As well as stopping outside the homes of the Summerstown182 to tell their stories, we will be leaving candles to be lit in their memory on this very special Remembrance weekend. We sincerely hope that families of the Summerstown182 will be able to attend.
On Saturday 24th February we are back on the Wandle, with a ‘Pursuit of Spring’ Walk including readings by the poet Edward Thomas. The Walk will start at 2pm from outside St Mary’s Church in Keble Street. Another date to look out for is Sadie’s Swinging Tooting on Saturday 24th March, starting from the King Edward VII statue outside Tooting Broadway tube station at 2pm.
SUMMERSTOWN CELEBRATION AND PLAQUE UNVEILING
A Summerstown Celebration took place at St Mary’s Church, Keble Street, SW17 on Saturday 16th September, marking a year of Heritage Lottery Funding and an opportunity to showcase some of the work we’ve been doing over the past twelve months, particularly with local schools.
We combined it with another of our fantastic plaque unveilings! Robert Sadler’s ‘Copenhagen Running Grounds’ is somewhere many of the Summerstown182 would have grown up hearing about. This was located off Garratt Lane between 1853 and 1864. Contemporary knowledge of it was practically non-existent until local historian Kevin Kelly wrote a book about it a few years ago. We have now further publicised this remarkable story by placing a plaque at the site, opposite Tesco, near the junction of Garratt Lane and Burmester Road.
This summer we will be putting up a historic plaque celebrating an extraordinary jazz musician from Tooting called Sadie Crawford. One of the first women to play with the likes of Louis Armstrong, she featured in a recent BBC Radio programme called ‘The Lost Women of British Jazz’. She will be the first woman commemorated in Tooting in this way, so we’ve dubbed this initiative #FirstLadySadie. Born Louisa Marshall in 1885, the youngest of seven children, Sadie spent her early life in a tiny house on Fountain Road. Scrubbing floors at the age of eleven, she escaped domestic service through music, dance and the London stage. She played all over the world with some of the greatest stars of the jazz age and spent the last thirty years of her life in America. Plans are underway for a spectacular unveiling ceremony on Saturday 16th June, attended by her family, special guests and musical accompaniment. Everyone is welcome! You might like to play your part in raising funds to pay for Sadie’s plaque by attending one of the guided walks lined up over the next months. ‘Sadie’s Swinging Tooting’ on 24th March, starts at 2pm from outside Tooting Broadway tube station. It takes in key locations in her early life and will stop at her childhood home. The Walk will include many other historical hot-spots with a particular focus on entertainment; the local personalities, cinemas, dance-halls and meeting places that were springing up in this area around one hundred years ago. If you can’t make this date, we will be doing another very similar fundraising walk a few months later, hopefully as part of the Wandsworth Heritage Festival, details to be confirmed.
‘Far from the Western Front’ Exhibtion at St George’s Hospital
We were very proud to play a leading role in bringing the stunning Far From the Western Front exhibition to this area. It outlines some of the South Asian experiences of the First World War and launched at St George’s Hospital Tooting in early September. Over the month, the response from the local community was phenomenal with so many people telling us they were delighted to have the opportunity to learn something about this largely untold history. We supported it with two guided tours of the hospital and its vicinity, highlighting its historic role at the time.
FRIENDS OF SUMMERSTOWN182 MEETINGS
A regular quarterly meeting takes place at St Mary’s Church Hall, Keble Street, Summerstown. These are great opportunities for people to get involved in the project, discuss ideas and initiatives. In the last one we discussed our plans for the final year of the commemoration period. The next one is scheduled for Tuesday 23rd January at which we’ll be discussing imaginative ways to finalise our project later in the year.
We welcome speakers at these meetings and one of our talks this year was from the curator of the outstanding ‘Far From the Western Front’ revealing the extent of the involvement in the conflict of South Asian soldiers and non-combatants. We later initiated them bringing their exhibition to St George’s Hospital. Already this year we’ve been learning about genealogy, military research and how to record oral history. This has included visits to archives and museums and attending relevant talks and events. Just turn up or register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.