1. To save Harkers Studio and see it retain its purpose as a building serving the production of theatre and creativity. Will you join us?
2. To raise awareness about the pressures on the technical artistic side of theatre production and the marginalisation of the Arts on a whole in the capital.
Harkers Studio is a purpose built, Grade II listed Victorian scene painting room off the Walworth Road in Southwark. It was built by Joseph Harker who made his name producing work for Henry Irving at the Lyceum, and whose name was immortalised in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. You may know the building better as the ‘theatrical chandlery’, Flints.
The building is unusual in that, while there used to be a lot of such spaces, very few survive. And, when they do, none of them are still in use as scene painting rooms – apart from Harkers.
The way that these spaces were built means that they provide excellent conditions for large-scale painting: a glazed roof means diffuse light all-year round, and the vast space, designed specifically to accommodate backdrops for major West End theatres, allows flexibility of scale. These kinds of conditions are unrivalled in London.
This unique building is one of a dying breed of scenery painting studios in London, as well as an important part of Southwark’s local history. It is currently home to a local business that serves both the theatrical industry and wider artistic community.
Southwark Council has approved planning permission to develop the building into flats and office space. While we are certainly supportive of forward-thinking change, we believe that the creation of unaffordable flats is detrimental to both the existing Walworth Road community and the heritage of the building itself.
The importance of “retaining some Low Threshold Enterprise Space because it is very difficult to re-provide such spaces…councils are encouraged to explore Article 4 directions to gain exemptions from permitted development change of use to residential.”
...in its report: "Regeneration Guide 2 – Creating Open Workspace.”
We do not believe that this has explored thoroughly in this case. On a broader scale, such proposals are reflective of the marginalisation of the Arts in the capital.
As a result, we are finding that artists in all fields are being pushed further and further out of the city.
With London’s landscape being taken over by luxury accommodation, and more and more of our creative industry being pushed out and marginalized, it is vital that we act now.
The great man himself in action
And what potential!
We would like to see Harkers Studio retaining its purpose as a practical, artistic and theatrical space. We would like to do this by bringing local and theatrical communities together, providing facilities for scenic artists, workshops and activities for local groups, and breathing theatrical life back into this part of the city.
By celebrating, utilising and developing Southwark’s theatrical heritage, we believe that such endeavours enrich the urban fabric, working with the Council’s plans, rather than against them.
Joseph Harker, along with his family and colleagues, signed this wall when the studio opened
What Can You Do?
We are working on this. Unfortunately, since planning permission was granted in December 2016, we are too late to appeal.
Despite the building’s Grade II listing, the ad hoc nature of scenic practise has resulted in very few people knowing about its history and integral role in the development of British theatre, thus the heritage value of this building has been significantly overlooked.
But you can help! Here’s how:
1. Sign our petition
2. Use the building. Save Harkers Studio is running a pilot co-working space scheme for artists to use the unrivalled space on the first floor.
3. Visit the building. Again, Save Harkers Studio welcome visitors, the curious, and the interested!
4. #saveharkersstudio / @saveharkersstudio. Any time you post/tweet/Insta anything to do with scenic artistry, please tag us. The more we can come together as a united industry, the stronger we will be.
5. Like/Follow Us on Twitter here and Facebook here.
If you think you can help further, or if you would like any more info, please contact us: email@example.com
Where are we?
You can catch the 68 or 176 from Waterloo – or the 40, 68, 176 or 468 from Elephant & Castle station - and get off at Westmoreland Road. Or it’s a 15 min walk from Kennington station.
Who Are We?
The Core Team consists of three informed and engaged individuals:
Grit Eckert is a practising scenic artist, Southwark resident and PhD student, researching the historical development of scenic artistic practise.
Louise Calf is a buildings conservationist, actress and step-great-great-great granddaughter of Joseph Harker.
Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey is a practising scenic artist, props-maker and designer, all too aware of the pressures on the profession today.
We were joined by Chair of HACAN John Stewart and Keith Prince AM, current Chair of the GLA Transport Committee. The presentation was timed to ask CAA, in the lead up to their flightpath proposals for City Airport, to take into consideration all people and all areas of London who will be affected by their recommendations.
The CAA entered into the spirit of the event with a picture of the cake accompanying this tweet:
Mr Prince extended an invitation to Campaigners to meet him at City Hall in September. He has promised to take our concerns regarding dedicated flightpaths, as well as other plane-related issues, and how they affect residents of East and South East London to Mayor of London Rt Hon Sadiq Khan.
Also in September we look forward to reconvening meetings with HACAN and HACAN East and forming a South East London chapter of the lobbying organisation.
Meanwhile, the latest CAA consultation is open for responses to aviation noise impacts. We urge you to respond and can promise it will take no more than 5 minutes. Click here to make your voice heard.
You can also Click here to view HACAN's video interviews - as residents across London and the South East speak up about their experiences.
Plane Hell: Too Early, Too Late, Too Noisy, Too Low… Too Many!
Anyone living under a flight path will tell you one thing: it’s plane hell. For residents of Camberwell and other parts of South London it’s fast becoming a nightmare.
The Plane Hell campaign was born in response to local residents noticing an increase in the number of planes flying over a particular area of Camberwell, almost without a break, and starting as early as 4.30am.
The main issue for Southwark is noise from overflying aircraft on approach to land at Heathrow and London City Airports.
To get an idea about what it’s like to experience ongoing disruption as a result of plane noise then click here for the thoughts of local resident Bridget Bell.
Why not relive the noise disturbance faced by many of London's residents by plugging in your headphones and watching the video?
- Enable residents to achieve at least 7 hours sleep, the minimum recommended by WHO (World Health Organisation) for good health, and ban all flights between 11pm - 6am (better still 7am).
- Ensure any remaining night routes avoid populated areas to mitigate the impact of aircraft noise.
- Keep aircraft higher for longer by utilising Continuous Descent Approaches which reduce noise because they require less engine thrust and keep planes above 6000 feet.
- Stop aircraft concentrating over residential areas.
- Stop the impact on mental and physical health caused by aircraft noise and aircraft pollution flying low over residential areas and keep planes above 6000 feet.
- aircraft noise reduction must be a factor for all flights under 6000 feet.
A plane flying low over Bethwin Road
What Can You Do?
Some responses collected so far:
- "It is an injustice to have so many planes flying over such densely populated areas. It's a blight on the lives of many people across London."
- "I live under the flight path it starts at 04:30 and goes on until around 22:00 80 planes an hour. It's intolerable so we are moving."
- "I'm signing because since the last 10 years the noise of the planes above my garden it's becoming increasingly unbearable! You cannot even have a conversation on the phone!"
- "Partner woken at 4am by a plane so low he thought it was crashing- pretty sure they've been getting lower and lower over the years I have lived in SE5! Great to see Camberwell coming together to do something about this!"
Follow the Campaign on Social Media
Other Campaign Groups
HACAN is a campaign group made up of local residents who are opposed to Heathrow expansion and want to reduce the amount of night flights over the skies of London and the South East.
HACAN East is a residents’ group set up in 2011 to represent the views of people affected by both noise and pollution from London City Airport. A number of areas are also impacted by Heathrow flights.
Write to your MP
Individuals, countrywide, have been encouraged to write to their MPs to underline the negative impact night flights and lack of respite from daytime flights have on the health and welfare of their constituents, with the added effect on the environment.
You can download a template letter here – please feel free to make any changes or add your own text.
To find out who your local MP is click here.
Please take the opportunity to tell the CAA what you think they need to do to tackle aircraft noise in our area. Below we have provided a link to the online consultation you can complete (it takes 2 minutes). But if you’re in a rush, click here to download a template that you can use.
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aviation Noise Impacts Consultation
Civil Aviation Authority
45-59 Kingsway, London WC2B 6TE
A plane flying low over John Ruskin Street
Campaigners are currently looking to gather as much evidence as possible to strengthen their case. This includes encouraging those who live under flight paths, and experience the adverse effects of plane noise, to record a diary of all of the incidents in which they are disturbed.
Get in touch
If you are experiencing issues with planes flying overhead then please do get in touch and offer your support to the campaign.
A visual representation of aircraft movement linked to Heathrow - Green represent arrivals resulting from westerlywinds (30% of the time), Red represent easterly (70% of the time).
Campaign so far
Through SE5 Forum's stand at the Camberwell Saturday's Farmers Market almost 400 signatures in two months have been collected for a petition headed 'Too low, too noisy, too early, too late - too many' and have been sent with the petition letter to Lord Ahmad, Minister for Aviation, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.
Harriet Harman, Helen Hayes, Neil Coyle and Kate Hoey have been asked to work together to help have a debate or least ensure that residents' responses to the recent night flights consultation are not ignored. Additionally, with regard to flights arriving at Heathrow, campaigners are looking for flight paths to be no lower than 6000 feet in the approaches over SE5 and more widely across Southwark.