NEXT ONE: Monday 5 June 2017 at The Greenwood Community Centre, Green Street Green - featuring the latest news on local activities and events in the Orpington area (see more below). Anyone interested in promoting local organisations and events, please contact us.
Book your place on Eventbrite (when available) Click on links to Download Poster and Agenda (when available)
Any local organisations which would like to participate and promote their activities, please email Margot Rohan
Katherine O’Sullivan, V22 – Communities Manager gave a presentation. V22 is a series of 3 organisations (3) founded 10 years ago by Tara Cranswick. Artists were being pushed out of London by high rent rises and dodgy landlords. V22 wanted to provide affordable studio space and to have a contemporary art collection (which is owned by the plc). There is space to work, space to sell work and space to show work.
The foundation is not-for-profit, with charitable status.
The building in Forest Hill had been a children’s centre but was derelict for some time until 2012. It was an industrial home for girls at the end of the 19th century,with a laundry building at the back. The Council wanted someone to look after the building, repair it and bring it back into use for the community. It was the first community based project for V22 and it needed a lot of work. They filled the main building with studios. Through different funding stream, they have done work to the front of the building and the laundry building at the back. A garden was created at the front, linking it with the Library building next door. At the back of the building is a community garden. V22 is looking for a team of volunteers to open the garden to the public. Volunteers will also learn how to look after the garden. Laundry building: the front is a community studio at low cost, with children’s art classes and tai chi classes. The space at the back is a gallery space, for artists in residents and other artists to share their work.
Community studio: in the summer there is a summer club over 6 weeks, with craft sessions, talks, music etc.
The Library is now a community library with which V22 is also involved, working with partners, who have produced a consortium bid to save the library. The building has offices on the first floor, with the library on the ground floor.
V22 know they have to be sensitive to the listing, so very messy art activities are not appropriate and will also not be at the Priory.
This is just at the start of the journey. V22 want to find out what the community wants in the Priory. They will have artists’ studios in the old library building. For the Old Priory building they envisage a similar approach to the Forest Hill project – for the community to come and use the space, with a commercial hire element. V22 hope to be able to open up the building more to the gardens. However any plans can only start once the lease is finalise and this is unlikely to be before the summer.
For more information about V22:
Twitter: @V22Workspace and @V22Collection
Sally Pennington, Chair of Orpington Priory Community Hub Trustees explained how the aims of OPCH will be changing.
Looking to the future:
- New name
- Suggestions please – now working in the wider community
- Winner of chosen name to get 12 months free entry to any events organised by OPCH (under new name)
- Suggestions please – now working in the wider community
- Change of trustees
- Original trustees were chosen based on knowledge etc for running the Priory
- Old trustees are remaining in the background – to give advice
- Sally, Margot Rohan and Eric Johnstone three trustees of the revamped organisation
- Looking for 2-3 more trustees
- Original trustees were chosen based on knowledge etc for running the Priory
- Change of aims
- Original aim was to preserve the Priory
- Now focusing on the community aspect
- Private not-for-profit company, registered at Company’s House – can raise funds
- New aims:
- Self-funding organisation, providing community benefit
- Promote public enjoyment & participation in heritage and culture
- Celebrate the achievements of Bromley Borough people
- Promote pride in local area
- Establish partnerships with other orgs
- Including comm, vol
- Working with partners
- Use plans and info we have to support V22 in making success of Priory
- Use plans and info we have to support V22 in making success of Priory
- Friends of Orpington Priory & Gardens
- Help raise funds to restore gardens
- Make more use of the Gardens for community events
- St Mary Cray Group
- Set up and maintaind signposted walk from Priory Ponds to The Bull in St Paul’s Cray.
Hoping to have meeting with Cllr Huntington-Thresher who is particularly keen on performance arts.
Individuals have expressed an interest in working with OPCH – event organisers etc.
There is currently no information centre in Orpington – Tourist Information Board has been contacted for advice – perhaps a small shop area also selling produce and items from the local area – central to the High Street. Orpington is th Gateway to Kent, with good transport links to bring people into the area.
For more information:
Sharon Baldwin, Executive Director of Orpington 1st, gave an update on what has been happening in the town centre since last October.
The BID (business improvement district) had the Christmas Lights Switch On. This was a very successful event, now being the largest event in the borough. Will need more security next year, as there is a limit to the numbers allowed, for safety reasons.
New footfall figures show an encouraging increase.
It has been a difficult period with vacant units and charity shops coming in but this is changing. There is a focus on returning the High Street to a prosperous town centre.
It is great to have community involvement with the businesses.
The Annual Business Show will be held on 16 February in the Orpington Campus 10am+. Cllr Peter Morgan will open it. The Chief Executive of the Council, councillors and investors will all be attending. this Open Day Orpington. Agents with empty sites will be there. Balloons on High Street will indicate vacant units. Difficulty over the last year has been to attract the likes of M&S etc because there are not appropriate unit sizes. Orpington 1st has engaged with people to talk to them about customer groups, wealth of support in community JD Sports, Next etc are coming to look.
There will be information on:
Homefield Rise – 16-17 houses to be demolished – flats to be built.
Barclay Homes – wellness centre.
March 2 – Orpington Awards – nominate businesses on the website.
There has been a big struggle with maintenance of the public toilets. They need to be better managed. Roxbury (new owners of the Walnuts) are working on it. They are adding in a facility for people needing showers, disability access etc. LBB has the highest population of over 65s of London boroughs. Orpington has signed up to be the first Dementia Friendly high street in the Borough. On 15 May there will be a Dementia Bus for carers, support workers etc who need to understand about this. The banks are also involved and there are lots of Dementia Friends working in businesses.
Walnuts Public Square – redevelopment will begin on 28 Feb – 5 months programme. Some old trees will be coming down and the lighting is being redone, with new pavements and tree replanting. The Leisure Centre will have a new fire escape, facing the other way, with the old one taken down..
A new bakehouse and wine bar will be opening as part of the College.
French Students are coming in this summer, using BID offices. There will be a French market for 2 weeks and we want to welcome the students to Orpington.
Getting into more magazines – Connected (quarterly) – Kent Life; New Statesman doing a piece on Orpington; working with Will Curtis (CEO at Biggin Hill Airport) to get airport staff to come to Orpington, to stay at the Premier Inn.
Premier Inn is doing well and has 88% capacity (up on the average of 80%)
Odeon Cinema – best screens in the country - doing extremely well.
Post Office –=is transferring to WH Smith on 16 February. The old premises will definitely not become a religious building but is unlikely to be retail.
3 applications for new wine bars will help the night-time economy.
For more information:
Unfortunately Keeley Udall was unable to attend. She will be introducing a new support group at The Greenwood Centre on 27 February, with meetings once or twice a month: All in Your Head support programme, designed to maintain a motivated, positive and different outlook in every day life when suffering in your mind. More information available here.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Sally Pennington, Chair of Orpington Priory Community Hub Trustees (website: https://orpingtonpriorycommunityhub.wordpress.com) gave the latest update on the situation regarding Bromley Council's plans to divest itself of responsibility for its management:
- Business plan was rejigged and resubmitted 12 Sep
- Meeting with Mike Watkins and Colin Brand at LBB eventually took place on 10 October - about clarifying things LBB wanted to know
- LBB assumed OPCH was asking for LBB to pay for everything under ‘urgent but this was clarified – mainly concerned with old library building flat roof and removal of large oil tank in the basement
- Financial appraisal – 25 year lease not sufficient if working with Heritage Lottery Fund
- OPCH happy to have a longer, full repairing lease - responsible for inside and outside of building, if necessary
- LBB asked about funds as the other bid on the table includes £250k to invest
- OPCH had no advice from LBB about whether they expected fund raising to have started
- They could fund raise on a success or return basis but LBB gave no comment
- Capital costings used figures from Caroe and Fourth Street reports
- Fund raising could involve Community shares issue, crowdfunding, various lottery funds and grants
- Council meeting 12 October – Priory item had been all put into the exempt part of the meeting but local ward councillors raised this issue and part of the discussion was put into the public part of the meeting
- OPCH never received any notes, guidance or support, although LBB (Colin Brand) claimed they had
- Community Links supports local organisations but OPCH were never put in touch with them
- Sally contacted CL independently, having searched on the internet
- LBB commented that a decision on The Priory would always be on the basis of financial soundness, not community need which is totally against LBB policies
- a senior Council Officer, Colin Brand, commented at the Council meeting ‘with the skills and experiences of OPCH’ they could have done a better job, having previously maintained that the community group did not have appropriate skills and experience to manage the Priory. Sally has emailed LBB complaining that this derogatory remark could undermine the credibility of OPCH
- The other bid is from an artists’ organisation – V22 - offering studios and exhibitions – mainly modern
- On behalf of OPCH, Sally has met twice with V22, hoping to work with them to provide the community offer
- However, there are big questions outstanding, such as will other organisation repair and maintain the building and allow appropriate public access?
- V22 has a complete lack of knowledge about the area and particularly how Orpington town centre grew – in their bid they mentioned ‘over the centuries’ but Orpington was still only a village at the beginning of the 20th century
- The finances of the other organisation are in question
- Historic England (English Heritage previously) not been notified of the other bid
- Sally enquired about setting up an information centre in the building as there is not one anywhere in Bromley and has received a response from the government department supporting this aim
- OPCH is continuing to ‘fight our corner’
- The Trustees believe that Bromley Council is not paying due attention to certain aspects of the offering to local residents
- V22 arelikely to want the newer part of the building, with OPCH having access to old part of building
- The community may not have access to the two hall areas
- V22 is losing one of the buildings they currently lease, so are urgently looking for new space
- The decision has been referred back to Cllr Graham Arthur, portfolio holder, and he is investigating the financial situation - OPCH is keeping him informed of any new information they obtain
- Global Guardians, a company which specialises in protecting empty properties, is now advertising rooms on one-month notice in The Priory
Richard Gibbons, member of the original Steering Group, also talked about the wider aspect of the Priory Gardens, with their close relationship with the Priory building:
- There is concern that the building sits within and enhances the gardens so local residents would not want to see part of it fenced in
- What part of the gardens are to be offered with the building will go out for consultation
- Management of gardens was taken over by the Landscape Group over a year and the parent company is now I D Verdi - there is a website covering all the Bromley parks
- Number of volunteers is being increased – 41 parks across the borough have their own Friends groups – Priory Gardens group is the oldest
- Role of Friends groups is more important to keep green spaces well maintained
- The Green at Green Street Green does not currently have a Friends Group
- Consultation on new Local Plan – part was the new designation of local green spaces to provide protection – green belt, metropolitan open land etc
- Friends groups were encouraged to apply for local green space designation – 25 were accepted although a number were not
- Bromley Friends Forum has a website with a list of all the green spaces
A summary of the meeting:
Sally Pennington, Chair of Orpington Priory Community Hub Trustees, gave an update on the progress of The Priory business plan - https://orpingtonpriorycommunityhub.wordpress.com
Mike Watkins is now the Council Officer in charge of the portfolio (having taken over from Heather Hoskins). A group of officers will get together to go through the business plan. She had a meeting with him 10 days ago to run through it. She came away with a list of things to improve. He offered some useful advice and suggested working with him to ensure the plan is the best possible, after some changes have been made.
The Council has put up the Priory for sale. The advertising states:
‘Rare and unique opportunity to acquire a Grade 2 Listed Building of historic significance together with a former library, car park and surrounding garden land – grant of 999 lease.'
The closing date for offers is noon on Wednesday 27 July.
The offer does not include much curtelage. However, Mike Watkins indicated that the delineation of the park area is ‘a moveable feast’ – the Council has deliberately kept a low key, so there is not room for a lot of car parking. But OPCH can negotiate if successful.
There are no covenants on the title affecting this area of land. If sold privately, the Council will have to advertise its intention to dispose of open spaces and take into account any representations received.
There are inhibitions to other uses, as it is Grade 2* Listed and also within a conservation area.
Sally has met with English Heritage and Historic England and they are happy with what OPCH is proposing to do. They like the ‘light touch’ renovation, with no plans to change the exterior or add to it. Even the library is iconic of buildings of that time.
There are parking issues but OPCH plan sensitive screening and care about use of entrances. The Trustees want to restore the circular driveway in front of the building.
A survey has been carried out, about what people would like to see at the Priory in future.
The Council had a couple of organisations in touch which are heritage developers but there is not much information. They attended open days to look at the buildings but nothing has been heard from anyone who visited.
The Council may well consider the idea of making the building fit for purpose before it is taken over. They have been negotiating with a company to bring in guardians to live in the building to provide protection.
It is difficult to arrange viewings for any organisations OPCH want to work with. It might be possible to have a ‘tenancy at will’, which would allow Sally to use The Priory as an office, so people could be shown round.
Councillor Keith Onslow offered to take up the issue of security.
Michael Marriott, Programme Co-ordinator for Bromley Borough Local History Society, outlined the latest activities of the society - www.bblhs.org.uk
Research of The Priory is very well documented. Issues looked at recently have included one member researching the Orpington By-Pass, which was completed in 1927. There are a lot of photos.
Mr James Brittenden was chair of the housing department at Orpington District Council just after the war. Brittenden Close in Green Street Green is an example of the excellent quality of social housing.
Home Front, a recent book celebrating the first world war, by Christine Hellicar looks at what happened to casualties and the history of Orpington Hospital and Biggin Hill airfield.
Leaflets are available about the society, which has monthly meetings with different speakers. Last month was about Crystal Palace. Thee have also been ones on Beckenham Place park and about the work in Scadbury Park.
Miss Read, a Chelsfield author, wrote about the street furniture – coal posts etc.
There is a quarterly magazine and a project on local blue plaques. The society also arrange visits: The museum at Beckenham hospital is free and was nominated for museum of the year; Old Palace at Croydon (now a school); a walk around Chislehurst and the community building; a walk around Bromley about WWII; Camden Place; guided tours of the archive.
17th century Bromley College is opposite the Swan and Sugar Loaf public house, behind a brick wall. 300 years ago Bishop of Rochester left money for alms houses for poor widows. This year is its 350th anniversary celebration.
Michael Meekums announced news of Open Weekends at The Roman Bath House (www.odas.org.uk/romanbathhouse) and Scadbury Moated Manor (www.odas.org.uk/scadbury)
There are two events:
Poverest Road Roman Bathhouse open days – entrance from Belfield Road. Sat 30 & Sun 31 July.
This was found during building work in the 1960s, part of a clearance scheme. When demolished, it revealed Roman remains, so local archaeologist, Peter Tesker, excavated and found a cemetery, roof tiles and other building materials. When another building was pulled down, the curator of Bromley Museum did an excavation and found the remains of the bathhouse, which has 3 rooms. A shelter wasput over the top to preserve it. It is opened to the public one weekend every year.
Scadbury Moated Manor open days - Sat 10 and Sun 11 September 2-4:30pm.
The site is currently being excavated. Historic England scheduled the moated site as an ancient monument. It is necessary to preserve the brickwork on the island which is tudor. The site dates back to the 1200s when the Scadbury family lived there. The Walsingham family lived there later and Queen Elizabeth I visited there in 1597.
ODAS is at Scadbury every Thursday afternoon excavating and will provide all the equipment needed, for anyone wanting to volunteer to assist.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
A brief summary of the meeting:
Nicky Barclay, organiser of The Big O Festival was unfortunately unable to attend due to a illness of a family friend – the Big O website is: www.thebigofestival.co.uk
Sally Pennington, Chair of the Orpington Priory Community Hub Trustees gave an update on the progress of acquiring The Priory as a community facility - see the website: Orpington Priory Community Hub
- Distributed plans of the Priory
- Calculated viable hiring rates
- Powerpoint presentation gave an overview of the project
- Steering Group started in Feb 2015
- Charitable Trust set up November – registered December
- Introduced trustees
- Graham Guy – not a trustee – project manager – developed communications and IT strategy
- Business plan to be presented to Bromley Council by 20 May 2016
- Expect decision in September
- Council advertising The Priory for sale or lease this week – do not know of anyone interested
- The health & wellbeing agenda recommends that all town centres should have a community centre
- If accepted, there will be a consultation period (probably about 6 months) – to negotiate the lease – this period can be used for cleaning and getting the building ready to open
- Hope to open by April 2017
- Bromley MIND interested in office space
- Tea rooms will be offered on a sub-let – to be run to cover Priory events
- There will be permanent displays – about The Priory and links with different families
- Temporary displays will show humanities side of the area, as well as the history, geology etc
- Events for different age groups will be offered
- Shop and information centre – to get help from Tourist Board about the best way to set this up – also other places in Orpington
- Supporters: Jo Johnson MP, Landscape Group, Arch Heritage Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, Bromley College, JTL apprenticeships, University of 3rd Age, Adult Education, Community Links, The Challenge, Bromley Foodbank, Aesop’s Touring Theatre Co., Queen’s Head GTSG, Chelsfield Players, Bromley MIND
- Contacted Affinity Sutton
- Large list of proposed activities and events
- Video showing the future was an inspirational vision of how The Priory could be used for the benefit of the local community
Mike Weeks, Vice Chair & Publicity Officer of North West Kent Family History Society - www.nwkfhs.org.uk
- The society started with the Bromley Branch
- Founded 1978 to aid and encourage study of family history and genealogy
- Expanded to NW Kent and the Kent parishes
- 1980s – branches in Sevenoaks and Dartford
- Became an educational charity
- Small library and research centre at Joyden’s Wood
- Run workshops
- Involve family history and social history so not just about names on a family tree
- Make links with local history societies
- About 1200 members – but ageing!
- Want to attract new members
- Competing with computers now so difficult to get new members
- Ancestry and Find my Past are two largest online organisations – but they don’t check
- Society does checking – personal touch
- Go to big exhibitions but a lot are family history events – most attendees are family historians.
- Been to many craft fairs and got more positive feedback
- Want to get more involved in local communities
- Website for 15 years – needs updating, to be more dynamic
- Committee members want to be able to update the website - currently only admins can manage the website
- Social media – Facebook page – used only in limited way
- Want to be on Twitter
- Use Flickr and have a blog
- Membership only £10pa
- Members’ interests – link up with other members searching same names
Barry Dixey on The Conservation of Ramus Wood (Shire Lane)
- Powerpoint presentation showed the work that has been going on since the purchase of the land
- Neglected for a number of years
- Mr Spooner owned it and tried to obtain planning permission for development
- Approached by relations after he died to see if local residents were interested in purchasing it
- The Beechwood residents' association did not have funds
- Chair and Vice-Chair purchased it to prevent developers getting hold of it but resigned from the RA, to avoid any conflicts of interest
- Cleared very large pile of metal from Ramus Wood
- Stopped property developers getting it
- More people using the woods
- Hoping to have a barbecue set up in the centre - where the foundations of the old manor house are - so people can have family picnics
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Trustees from Orpington Priory Community Hub (OPCH) gave an encouraging update on the progress of acquiring The Priory as a community facility.
- Sally Pennington, Chair of the Trustees, explained that OPCH was incorporated at Companies House on 15 December. There is now a bank account with Metro Bank and 8 other trustees with diverse backgrounds:
- David McBride, Deputy Chair, a previous councillor and Mayor of Bromley, JP and deputy head at an Erith school
- Nicola Blake, Secretary, with a background in architecture
- Nicky Burstow-Goff, Treasurer, who has worked for a Westminster charity for 10 years and is now CEO in charge of finances
- Eric Johnstone, who works within finance
- Rebecca Birs, who runs the Croft Tearoom, is very experienced and works as a manager for the NHS
- Sharon Baldwin, Executive Director of Orpington 1st
- Dr Luke Beattie, who is experienced in theatre and literature. His main interest being in mediaeval theatre, he is also a founder member of a small theatre company
- Lee Regan, who works for the Archectural Assocication of GB. He has expertise in setting up museum pieces and exhibitions.
The Trustees and other advisors to OPCH are now organised into different development areas, according to their areas of expertise:
Buildings & Infrastructure – Nicola Blake, plus John Flowers (a building surveyor working pro bono)
Business & Finance – Nicky Burstow-Goff and Sharon Baldwin
Communications & IT – Richard Gibbons is developing the website and media pages, Graham Guy, who has experience in project management in communications & IT, with Phil Waller (Chair of the Orpington History Organisation) joining later
Public Relations – Eric Johnstone
Events – Luke Beattie, Lee Regan and David McBride (particularly on educational activities)
Hospitality – Rebecca Birs, who will set up the tearooms in The Priory and is hoping to rent the premises and take on catering for any events, and Sally Pennington, who ran a catering company in the past
Legal & Compliance – Sally Pennington, who was an accountant and finance officer in a housing association, before training as a teacher, plus David Morrison (a solicitor providing advice pro bono) and Mark Wildy (an accountant offering advice pro bono)
OPCH is currently getting potential hirers on board and will be seeking volunteers to help later.
In order to be able to make good contacts and get relevant advice, OPCH has joined:
- The National Council of Voluntary Organisations
- Charity Choice (which provides advice on where to go for information)
David Warnes of Bromley College business and commercial operations section, is interested in the offer of work experience for working on The Priory and taking on small projects, with the possibility of apprenticeships in the fute.
JTL provides apprenticeships in the building trade and would be willing to send over groups to do work on The Priory, under the guidance of professionals.
Others showing interest are:
- Paul Brown of Jolly Dinosaurs, which runs at several venues, providing good educational fun for children. The Priory could be a new venue.
- Bromley Barber Shop Club, which is looking for a new home
- Nicky has requested information about starting a dance studio
- A lady interested in running keep fit classes
- Aesop’s Theatre, a travelling group mainly aimed at young people, could hold events at The Priory for several schools together
- Orpington Folk Club
- Local jazz groups
Space is available in the old adult library – bigger than Orpington Village Hall and possibly as big as the main hall in Bromley Civic Centre.
Friends of The Priory & Gardens held a quiz night in November and donated £500 to OPCH.
Events in conjunction with the gardens will continue and provide an attractive venue with added facilities and interest.
Sally has had meetings with a number of Councillors and Members of the Executive and there has been nothing negative so far.
The local press – Bromley Times and Biggin Hill News - have printed front page articles recently, which have increased awareness.
Sally has also made contact with the regional manager of the Architectural Heritage Fund, who has got some ideas to help.
There has been a lot of support from a variety of people.
Sally said: "It's going to be a long road and we need to keep in touch."
The chair of the Chelsfield Players has offered to help – suggesting holding a benefit to help funding. He was keen on the idea of holding future performances at The Priory, as there would be a different audience.
Another idea is for Murder Mystery supper evenings – Sally has written scripts for these.
Timeline – the business plan has to be submitted to Bromley Council by 20 May, when the moratorium 6 month period ends. The Development group is working hard to get it ready in time. In the meantime OPCH needs to look for funding. It is hoped that the Council will give help with some of the costs (potential £1.7m). The Financial group is looking at the figures and paring them down, removing inessential items.
The repairs & maintenance groups are making lists of decorating for which groups of volunteers will be needed if OPCH gets The Priory.
Refurbishment will be broken down into phases, to make it easier to look for funding.
Tearoom – setting up costs need to be raised.
Volunteers will need training. A management team will gradually be built. Some areas can be used immediately but eventually paid staff to run the centre will be needed.
Security and maintenance will be ongoing issues.
Business, community, education, history, arts are the main areas on which there will be a focus.
Space will be let to businesses, craft people, local clubs, meetings, conferences – building a programme with the new hotel.
There are small rooms and large areas – so lots of opportunity for different activities and events.
OPCH will run events in the old library (Avebury Hall) – school holiday activities, carol concerts, Christmas banquets, craft fairs, shows & performances, school showcases (choirs, orchestras, poetry readings etc)
Key Stage 2 (7-11) has 14 curriculum areas but there are only 10 afternoon sessions to fit in 12 areas – all mornings are taken with literacy & numeracy. On a one day visit the children can get in a whole term’s curriculum.
Hart Hall is the old junior library, where tea dances in afternoons and lunch clubs are proposed.
Orpington Hall and Orpington Community Gallery – (behind offices there is potential for workshops for arts and crafts) – regular exhibitions on well known local people.
Ground floor into old Priory – Great Hall – could be a venue for small mediaeval banquets.
The Great Hall and other rooms in the old parts of the building could be used for wedding ceremonies in the future.
Tearooms will be called The Priory Pantry – logo with a simple diagram of the big grinding stone outside the Priory.
Special events – Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday etc.- will be organised in an annual programme.
The area opening out into Orpington Hall could also be used for comedy nights.
Harlow Room on ground floor and Hughes Room on 1st floor – intended for a museum aspect – one on history of The Priory and one about the local area, with the exhibits being changed regularly.
How can people get involved?
- Sending letters
- Encouraging local businesses to invest
- Helping round up volunteers
- Coming to events
Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Sharon Baldwin - Executive Director of Orpington 1st - also a Trustee - gave an update on developments in Orpington High Street.
The Priory is part of the rest of Orpington – to complement other developments
It is within the park – a beautiful green space
New residents will require amenities
The new cinema is opening on 26 February
Bella Italia and Dean’s Diner opened today
The public square has funding for improvements
College phase 2 development is starting in 2 weeks time
Berkeley Homes is on a 2 year building programme with the wellbeing centre underneath residential apartment - Brunswick Square
Business Show on Thursday 18 Feb – open to general public at Orpington College
TfL – consultation on changes in bus routes - R11 will no longer go into Orpington Hospital
Introduction of other Trustees
Eric Johnstone stressed that there is still a lack of awareness of the building. It is a big challenge but there are a lot of rooms available and it is a fantastic setting in the gardens.
Queen Elizabeth I stayed in Orpington for 2 nights in Bark Hart Road (building now demolished) – Sir Percival Hart put the trip together.
The potential for businesses is huge – IT will be very high spec.
OPCH will have a presence in the Walnuts on 5 March – exhibition stand at the Arts & Crafts market.
Members of the audience asked a number of questions:
What will be the capacity of the tearooms? 40-50. For larger catering events the plan is to be able to feed up to 150.
U3A Orpington branch would like to expand what they do. Sally has already been in contact with them.
Friends of the Earth asked if consideration of alternative energies – solar panels etc - had been given. Some of flat roofs on the newer part of building need insulating and could be used for solar panels.
Bromley Civic Society does heritage walks and talks. Peter Martin is responsible for restoring Bell Hotel, Bromley. Sally agreed to make contact.
Studio in Beckenham – Citygate Church. OPCH has been in touch with the Church.
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Margot Rohan welcomed the select band of 'tweeters' to the meeting.’
Linda Scothern from Orpington & District Caledonian Society (Scottish Dancing) (www.kass.org.uk/Orpington.html) gave an enthusiastic account of the society's activities:
- Beginners classes – children can come with their parents
- Monday evenings 8-10:15pm at St Paul’s Church hall, Crofton
- Angela Campbell is the president and qualified teacher
- Social dances on Thursdays
- The Society was founded in 1937 - originally it was to keep Scottish people together, keeping traditions alive
- Events include: Burns supper; Hogmanay; St Andrews
- During the War – 1940-50 - not much happened
- Scottish dancing was used in prison camps to keep fit
- In 1950s Scottish dancers entertained at children’s parties
- In 1960s Weddings also wanted Scottish dancing entertainment
- 1986 – classes started
- Until 1980s only full members could hold office, and they had to be Scottish by birth, parentage or marriage
- Society members have danced at The Priory
Sally Pennington from STOP (now Orpington Priory Regeneration Project) gave an update on the Business Plan for continuity of The Priory as a community facility:
- She went to The Priory as a child, it is very close to her heart.
- April - Friends of the Priory & Gardens made a submission to declare the Priory an asset of community value, which the Council
- In May the Fourth Street report was published – conclusion was that the original Council project would cost too much to run and would
not attract enough visitors
- June 10 – Council Executive confirmed cessation of Bromley Museum at the Priory and its move to Central Library with 2 exhibitions at
the end of September
- The Council want to offer the property for sale or disposal on the open market
- Scrutiny Committee – 8 October – proposal to offer The Priory for sale – likely to be ratified at Executive on 14 October
- At that point community groups have 6 weeks to notify the Council they intend to bid. Then there is a moratorium period of 6 months to
allow them to put together a bid
- A comprehensive list of work that is needed. The immediately essential work will be pulled from that
- There are a number of funds available – Heritage Lottery Fund, various historic, architectural and other smaller funds
- Individuals and organisations will be canvassed to donate or volunteer time
- It is likely to take 2 years to complete the programme
- Running costs to be covered by hiring out rooms, corporate events, other events
- Memberships will also be offered
- Volunteer time to be used as appropriate e.g. a business might offer a team to do a particular part of the project.
- Income will come from 3 strands:
- Lettings – halls, rooms, offices (Day nursery in Council’s plan but it would take up a lot of space and create other issues, particularly
regarding child protection limitations)
The adult library is one big space and, with lighting, sound and a stage, could be used for a variety of events
Corporate & commercial hire – team building, training events, hiring office space etc
Groups & clubs – RAs, Drama groups, choirs, dance, adult classes, painting et
There is a known demand for space
- Public hire – children’s parties, family celebrations, wedding receptions
Hire for community benefit – garden volunteers, reminiscence groups, talks etc
Profits from events and exhibitions
Hiring whole building – audio tours, film and TV hire, backdrop for photography
Priory events – annual calendar – put on by management group of The Priory
Santa’s Grotto; Christmas Concerts; Comedy Nights, Halloween, Bonfire Night, Valentine’s Night
- Catering – for events & lettings, wedding receptions, bar for events; tea room open in the day every day – 6 days a week Tue-Sun
- Toilets will be an absolute necessity! May use existing outside toilets initially – with covered walkway from the Old Library
- Sharon Baldwin (Executive Director of Orpington 1st) has been very supportive.
- Contacting other interested parties – such as Blackheath Halls, Croft Tea Room
- Working with new cinema and hotel will be essential – to offer meeting and conference facilities
- Cllr Peter Morgan, portfolio holder of resources has show support for a community-led solution
- Mike Smart is on the committee of Orpington Village Halls and is very interested in the possibilities
- Tina Slater is temporarily in charge of the Priory during removal and has been very helpful – offered unwanted equipment (chairs, tables,
- Brian McHenry (All Saints) has also shown interest in the proprosals
- British Legion having problems with need for venue for youth group
- Lord Harris has expressed interest but possibly for his own projects (such as a school academy)
- JTL Construction Academy and Orpington College – apprenticeships and work experience could be offered
- Orpington ward Member, Cllr William Huntington-Thresher has shown keen interest – need to have meeting with local councillors.
- Developing pre-start up plan – possible use of Priory prior to taking it over to show how it could work
- Developing work schedule for renovations
- There will be a plan for bringing areas of building into service as they become fit for use
- There will be presentations to groups and organisations further down the line
- It is hoped that Nicky Barclay will be very much involved, continuing to run Priory events such as Big O Festival and Priory Live
- Cannot change the Grade II* Listed part of building – have to be very careful and keep to preservation rules
- Old library building is not part of the listing
- Car parking – want to use area in front of The Priory down to the road. Maintenance sheds area – also some space there
- Evenings – local roads can be used
- Walnuts car park – open in evening, free for visitors coming to the Priory – with walk through alleyway to Bark Hart Road
Kemal – Studio 74 (Bromley Dance Studio) (www.studio74dance.co.uk) explained his aims in providing dance tuition for children, to give them opportunities he did not have as a child:
- He opened Fifth Avenue dry cleaners in Orpington
- He has worked with dancers in London
- Studio 74 opened in June 2011
- He works with theatre groups and helps children get into west end productions
- There is not enough action for the younger generation in Orpington but they want to get involved. They are bored and causing trouble
because they feel they don’t belong
- He likes to reach out to young people through the arts – put on shows
- He is putting on a show at the Churchill on 18 October – ‘Smile’ – if 700 tickets at various venues are sold, he will be able to produce
‘Pretty Woman’ musical at the Savoy Theatre in London
- Young people want to join in - drama therapy and dance are ideal for releasing their energies and enthusiasm
- Orpington needs to be busier – bring stalls onto the high street - more interest to increase footfall
- High Street is boring and will not attract young people as it is now
- Through Studio 74:
- Work on film sets
- Pop videos
- Costume workshops
- Acting workshops
- Drama therapy – all ages
- The Priory would be ideal for shows
Richard Gibbons from STOP (OPRP) gave a presentation on the conservation area and its listed buildings
- 50 locally listed buildings in the area
- 5 (nationally) listed buildings
- Developments in the area – Dairy Crest site – listed building plus 28 houses & flats behind
- Conservation area marked on high street – both sides of road – where road narrows
Margot Rohan (Orpington Community)
Although this event was not as well attended as previous ones this year, it provided the opportunity for updates on The Priory campaign, The Big O Festival and Biggin Hill Airport developments.
Sharon Baldwin, Executive Director of Orpington 1st, gave an update on The Priory. She is working to alert councillors and officers to the interest and support from local residents and businesses. Lord Harris has been very positive but did not appreciate what the Priory is about, so he is going to visit it with his team. However, even people living and working on the door step are still not aware of it.
Orpington College would like to be involved in the education and cultural side and is also interested in the possibility of a café/restaurant and Orpington Village Hall trustees want to meet people from the community group to join with them and help take their plans forward. They are turning people away as they do not have enough rooms to offer for hire.
Now that the decision to move the Museum at the end of September has been made, the Council has agreed to give the community group six months to prepare a viable business plan, before they will make a final decision.
Nicky Barclay (the organiser) gave feedback from the Big O Festival which was sponsored by Orpington 1st and took place in the Priory Gardens on 4 July. Orpington people and those from other parts of the borough and beyond came together and enjoyed themselves in a friendly way and there was no trouble. The crowds were good about litter. People even asked for more bins.
The different decades meant that all the family could enjoy the exhibitions and activities. Comments of the day were: “It’s brought back Orpington” and (from the fairground operator from Hertfordshire): “In all the years this was the nicest atmosphere at an event I’ve ever experienced.”
It was good for the town and benefitted high street trade. In the evening pubs and restaurants were overflowing. The event showcased how well things can work in Orpington.
Sally Pennington explained what progress has been made on The Priory Business Plan.
Over the last 6 weeks, the campaign group has been putting together a business plan. The Priory building has now been listed as an asset of community value so that, if Bromley Council decide to sell, community groups have 6 weeks to decide if they will bid and then 6 months to put a bid together. An Outline Proposal was submitted to the Council before the 10 June Executive, where the decision was finally made to move it to Central Library at the end of September. Then the Council will decide whether to sell the Priory or lease it, so the business plan must show that the Priory is sustainable with enough income to cover maintenance.
There was a lot of interest shown at the Big O Festival, where a further 290 signatures were collected for the e-petition.
The latest STOP leaflet sets out numerous potential uses for The Priory, to provide an Arts & Heritage Centre with rooms and halls for hire. The successful HLF bid by Bromley Council included a day nursery, café and incorporating the existing outside toilets within the building. These are also being considered by the campaign group. The ex-adult library may be kept as one large hall with a moveable stage, with a capacity of about 250-300. However it is felt that a bigger main kitchen will cater for larger events.
The entrance hall could be a ‘performance hall’, available for displays, exhibitions etc. There are also the Medieval hall, Lubbock Room and a little study on the mezzanine floor and rooms behind the library could be used for studios and offices. The basement may be suitable for a recording studio.
Other similar facilities have been researched, including Orpington Village Halls, Beckenham Arts Centre and Ripley Arts Centre.
With a list of floor areas of the rooms for each floor, it has provided a good idea of possible charges per hour.
Priory events could include, amongst others, schools visits, storytelling, bonfire nights, comedy nights, medieval banquets, concerts, Christmas events and there would still be plenty of time left for community groups and private events.
If it was licensed for weddings, at least £500 for hire or £900 for a ‘Priory package’ could be charged.
Calculations show that 40% use would give a surplus of around £4000pa, taking into account wages and salaries for a manager, accounts manager, administrator, part time receptionist, security, caretaker. The café would provide additional revenue and may run internally or given over to another enterprise.
Renovation costs are likely to be about £1.7m and it will be necessary to raise some funds, as well as applying for a grant.
According to the Fourth Report (commissioned by English Heritage for Bromley Council), furnishing costs are estimated at £50-60,000.
The best outcome would be if the council will agree a community asset transfer at a peppercorn rent with a charitable trust (either existing or to be set up) to manage the building.
Bob Trott, an ex senior Air Traffic Controller and Chair of Green Street Green Village Society spoke about the Biggin Hill Airport developments.
The proposals mention a hotel but not how it will be funded. However, it would generate jobs. It is also unclear who will pay for the Aviation College.
Money, noise and problems with increased traffic are the main aspects in which people are interested but there are many misconceptions about all aircraft heard overhead relating to BHA. Aircraft flying over early morning are nothing to do with BHA, as they are mainly from Heathrow.
There are four routes into Heathrow and one of the navigation beacons is at BHA but there is a proposal to move it further back into Sussex.
From Biggin Hill Airport, there is not a great deal of noise over Green Street Green, apart from a few light aircraft. There are no jet arrivals. The procedure to land is to come in over the Dartford area, Sidcup, Petts Wood and Locksbottom, descending from 1900ft, over the hospital around 8-900 feet and landing on runway 21. For landing on 03 runway, the current procedure is exactly the same except staying at 1900ft until around the Keston area, west of Biggin Hill village.
With departures taking off from 21, they head off towards New Addington then towards Detling, initially climbing to 2400ft. Over Green Street Green, departures from the 03 runway are around 1500-1600ft. They are supposed to turn right to intercept the beacon at Detling but are currently turning right and going straight towards Detling over Green Street Green and Orpington. However, the noise can be reduced. The Managing Director, Will Curtis, is aware of the wrong routing and has promised to do something about it. Pilots are not following procedures but BHA has not been too interested in doing anything about it until now.
BHA says they are going to change the routings and will have a noise monitoring facility to ensure pilots keep to the track. They will penalise people who don’t comply on a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ basis. It only means an extra couple of minutes to take the correct route but it is money to corporate companies. BHA also wants to enforce a rule that flights must not be below 2400 feet over Green Street Green and Orpington.
Focus groups are looking at various aspects of the proposals. The most significant one to stop noise is to change completely the 03 arrival procedure by introducing a new track with a new level at 3000 feet. The plan has to be acceptable to National Air Traffic Services (NATS). BHA airspace is limited to 1900 feet in effect as part of the 2000ft airspace meets with NATS and they have priority. BHA want departures to climb to 4000 feet quickly but any changes have to go through hoops – one is to provide an ACP to the CAA and this has to go to all councils, residents’ associations etc to give feedback, if they are affected by the proposals.
Regarding the changes in hours, there are arguments for and against. BHA wants a 6:30am start till 11pm but, if an aircraft departs at 11pm, it will come over Green Street Green several minutes later, although climbing. It is a balancing act between BHA, corporate companies and residents.
LBB is negotiating with BHA on various aspects. More information can be found here and on the Green Street Green Village Society website.
Darren Weale announced his latest musical venture, The Geriantics, whose oldest member currently is 93.
He is looking to audition new members of 65 years old or more, who want to do something different and to enjoy themselves. The ability to sing would be helpful, amongst other things, it is a musical group. Other talents such as dancing would be a bonus. Or there may be a backroom position, helping to run the group.
Members can expect to appear on stage and, quite likely, on radio and TV. They may need to travel in the UK and overseas. Rehearsals will be approximately once a month in Orpington. More information can be found on the website: www.thegeriantics.co.uk
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
The meeting was well attended - nearly 40 this time.
Nicky Barclay - organiser of The Big O Festival
- Big O Festival 4-5 July
- 60s, 70s and 80s theme
- Including dance classes, vox box, hair booth
- Intergenerational picture of the past
- Community zone including local police team, political parties, charities
- Want to get Orpington recognised as a centre of arts and culture
- Music: glam rock, ska band, 60s mod, R&B, 50s bands
- lassic cars and scooters
- Youth culture
- Portable loos
- Eating, drinking – family day
- Marshalls wanted – opportunities for young people to gain work experience
- Working with Orpington History Organisation on 4 modules for young people to gain experience iin event management
- 6 June at Bel’s American Diner 1-4pm – jive lessons and classic cars – 2 for 1 burgers (also on 4-5 July)
Michael Marriott - Bromley Borough Local History Society (download presentation)
- Website has received 81,000 hits from all around the world
- Monthly meetings with talks on areas of interest
- The 1000th Council house was built in Orpington!
- Mrs Hughes (wife of the previous owner of The Priory) was Tony Benn’s aunt
Phil Waller - Chair of Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum and Founder & Principal Researcher of Orpington History Organisation
- OHO is playing an active part in #SaveOrpPrioryMuseum (now #SaveTheOrpPriory – STOP) campaign - working with other groups
- Want Priory to be accessible to the public – used for heritage interest activities – not sold off to private ownership
- Want to make use of the museum collection, wherever it resides
- OHO has an extensive knowledge and experience in promoting local history
- Social Media – up 240% on all metrics year on year
- 181% up on unique page visits
- 210% up on search engine hits
- 40% of total site traffic from search engines
- Newsletter has 600 subscribers – usually every quarter
- Facebook ‘likes’ 2900+
- Facebook page regularly reaches 4500 people – maximum November 2014
- Facebook potential reach is 20,000
- Twitter has 668 followers
- OHO attends more events and engages with people who lend their collections of photos - OHO scans them in for the website
- BHAF is a borough channel for heritage and arts – Bromley Council wanted it when applying for the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) bid
- BHAF enables learning what other groups are doing and sharing experience
- 15 key groups in BHAF – forming a communication mechanism and consultant group: including National Trust groups, Bromley Arts
Council, Chislehurst Caves, English Heritage, Crofton Villa etc.
Sharon Baldwin - Operations Director of Orpington 1st
- 3rd year - 350 businesses are involved
- 200 BID companies in UK
- Remit of BID is to build & develop the business community in Orpington
- Also to look at residents – people coming into the centre and using the services
- What should services be and how do they perform? How do local residents want it to develop?
- Odeon being built – will be handed over in June for an internal fit-out which will take 13-16wks – opening in November with 7 screens
- Parking - Walnuts shopping centre has 5 floors – most days only 2.5 floors are full
- 4 new restaurants will be in the new centre and 3 new retail outlets: hairdresser, tanning salon, another funeral parlour
- New toy shop opening on 16 May
- New pet shop coming
- Premier Inn – 61 bedrooms – planning permission granted. 10 month build
- Berkeley Homes – medical centre on first floor – planning approved
- New development of 144 flats in Homefield Rise proposed – public meeting in next couple of weeks (subsequently cancelled –
awaiting new date)
- Churchill Homes opened – 55 flats – opposite The Priory
- Crest Dairy bought by Pure Lake – 29 flats and 8 town houses proposed
- Templegate house – top 2 floors for residential. Bottom to be knocked through – probably a supermarket
- Berwick House – conversion from offices to flats
- 2 small office blocks changing to residential
- Residential conversion from offices bringing in a lot of new people but losing lunchtime trade
- The Priory is very important to business – providing leisure facilities, culture and arts
- Orpington 1st has worked with local organisations to see what events could be brought to the town centre
- The Priory is seen as a huge opportunity site. It has not been well managed nor maintained for a long time
- Orpington 1st worked with people e.g. Big O Festival etc – to bring events to The Priory and gardens
- Disappointed to learn of Bromley Council’s withdrawal from the HLF bid
- Working closely with the Council. Sharon has spoken directly to the Leader, Cllr Stephen Carr, and the portfolio holder,
Cllr Peter Morgan
- There is an understanding that it will take a bit longer to get agreement
- The Council wants to stop funding The Priory but the community will need to have a sustainable business plan.
- Another example - Arts and Heritage centre – opened in Suffolk with HLF funding
- The Council is looking at a soft sell approach to see what commercial opportunities there are
- High Street Funding has been obtained from the Mayor’s Office - £125,000 for public realm improvement. For every house built,
some revenue can be kept - building up to £1m to spend on the square
- The Priory is important as part of the connectivity within the high street
- Orpington 1st website connects businesses with customers. Free to use.
- Loyalty card has about 20,000 users
- 2000+ followers on Twitter
- Over 900 ‘likes’ on Facebook
- Digital high street – another grant providing access to businesses to enhance their digital footprint – broadband etc.
- College – needs to modernise
Janet Clayton - Orpington & District Archaeological Society (download presentation)
- ODAS is a charity founded in 1975
- ODAS worked with the curator of Orpington (changed to Bromley by LBB) museum
- Involved with the museum ever since and used to meet in The Priory
- Now meets in Petts Wood URC
- A dig in the Priory Gardens many years ago found thousands of flints from a Neolithic camp
- There are a lot of historic buildings in St Mary Cray, which was a medieval market town
- Scadbury Park – 300 acres and foundations of a medieval manor house – in 2013 English Heritage listed it as an ancient monument
- 2 events coming up:
o 30 May The Bath House (Poverest) will be open
o 12-13 September Scadbury Manor will be open
- The museum – concern about what will happen. ODAS was actively involved in the Council consultation about the HLF bid
- Want a solution keeping The Priory available for public to visit, with a heritage centre collection
- If the museum moves to the Central Library, it needs to be ensured that there are proper exhibitions and curatorial care
Eileen Vassie - Chair of Friends of The Priory & Gardens
- The Priory & Gardens have a long history
- Gardens Grade II listed
- The Priory is Grade II* listed
- Aim to restore gardens to how they were when the Hughes family lived there
- The Friends of Priory Gardens was the first group in Bromley
- Public subscription raised funds for a fountain which was erected, but only worked for about a week. In the drought it stopped working.
The pumps etc went missing but the Council has given an assurance that they will be replaced
- HLF bids were previously unsuccessful. The Friends are trying to find out what happened to the bid for the gardens which was to
follow the HLF bid for The Priory
- In 2009 the library moved to the Walnuts Centre. The Friends became The Friends of The Priory & Gardens as they became
concerned about the building when moving the museum was proposed
- Submitted Asset of Community Value but this has still not been acknowledged (confirmed in early May)
- AGM in February was extremely well attended and began the process of promoting the Save The Priory campaign
Michael Maxted - Memory Museum
- Been collecting since a child
- Last year he began promoting it on Facebook
- Recently got Chris Greener’s momentos (tallest man in UK)
- Unusual collection of memories – individual items
- Would be fantastic to put them somewhere – The Priory would be ideal
- The Priory needs to be seen as an attraction – the museum needs to be more interactive
- On Facebook – over 200 members
- Now developing a website
Following the talks, there was much concerned discussion about the future of The Priory. Residents were adamant that a viable and
sustainable business plan needs to be developed, incorporating a small heritage centre, with revenue generated by room hire, events
and, most importantly, a café, in order to ensure the building is accessible to the public for the foreseeable future.
Margot Rohan, Orpington Community
The 10th Tweet Up was the best attended to date, with over 30, some of whom were keen to find out what is happening with The Priory.
Sharon Baldwin, Operations Director of Orpington 1st (the town centre BID (Business Improvement District) company) gave a summary of the latest developments in Orpington High Street and how social media helps spread awareness quickly:
– Orpington 1st Newsletter – 5,500 signed up
- Businesses are showcased on the website
- Loyalty card - offers and discounts to encourage shopping local
- @Orpington1st Twitter account has nearly 2,000 followers
- www.facebook.com/Orpington1st has over 700 likes
- Digital media provides the opportunity for quick responses and disseminating lot of information to a wide audience quickly
- Christmas 2014 – reduced number of posters and did a lot of marketing on social media - Far more people attended and awareness
- 7 new shops have opened – Starbucks opened today
- Vacant sites – most taken up – businesses are moving around the town centre
- A lot of office space has changed to residential
- New Churchill Homes development at St Mary Cray end of high street – 85 flats – will be using social media to market them
- Odeon Cinema – to be handed over beginning of June and ready for launch of the new Bond movie, in the autumn
- 26 February – BR6 restaurant opens – student operated restaurant in college, overlooking College square – it will be the first in London -
Dorchester and Marriott are sponsors
- Orpington 1st is negotiating with Bromley Council to redevelop Walnuts Square, to make it more of a public space
- Love Orpington week – Thursday 19 Feb 10am-5pm Opportunity Orpington Business show – business to a wider audience.
5-7pm – Orpington Finest Awards
Sun 22 Feb 10am-4pm – Wedding Fair
- Calendar of events throughout the year
- Crime – Orpington 1st has funded high street police team – 6 officers (2 full time, 4 PCSOs)
The Big O Festival:
- @BigOFest is the new Twitter account
- Built up Cray Festival – now brought to Orpington – one big FREE
festival 4-5 July
- Most successful areas are heritage, arts and culture
- Post war suburbia will be a theme, showing the way Orpington has
developed and grown
- Orpington is a typical post suburban town – there is a serious number of
talented people in the borough
- 'Big O' because Orpington is a BIG town, not a little one!
- It will be fun, loud, with live music, fashion and sci-fi
- Orpington 1st is the main sponsor
- Classic 60s cars, rock ‘n roll, food diners, community group stalls
- In the 1960s, there was a club in Orpington called 'The Iron Curtain' -
Darren Weale is going to recreate it with a blues night
- Including the local allotments, linking them to the classic TV sitcom 'The Good Life', with people dressing up in 70s gear
- McDonald’s may get involved
- The 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s will be featured
- There will be a month’s worth of events leading up to the festival
- Still looking for more ideas
- Beta testing for couple of years.
- Support from Green Street Green and Croydon.
- Finally able to finance and started development today!
- Problem to resolve – 'Amazon effect' with business going online
- How do customers engage here and now?
- StreetPin can target people relevant to specific businesses
- There are other apps, such as Paper click, etc, but they have small approaches
- Social media works but there is no ROI
- StreetPin is a digital pinboard – local and relevant
- There is an iPhone app
- Testing at King’s College
- Tim gave a demonstration of how pinboards work – for a park, butcher, baker – any community can create their own deals and offers
- Town pinboard – this is an aggregate of individual pinboards in an area
- StreetPin can pull in social media, BBC news, whatever is relevant
Emily Webb, Petts Wood Operatic Society
- Website: www.pwos.org.uk
- @PWOS_amdram Twitter account
- 18 months been on social media
- series of concerts and 2 productions – coming up: Carousel and West End Gold
- 2 years ago poor membership so decided to try social media
- Put together social media plan – built membership
- Keep up presence throughout the year – singing at garden centres, workshops
- Twitter and FB – built connections with local community
- Built networks with national amdram societies – retweet each others' posts
- Use hashtags - #BeckBromFL has proven very useful
- Turned social media output into audiences and members
- In touch with local journalists who also retweet
- Now have a strong online identity
- Twitter currently using #PWOSCarousel
- Keep to 30% showing yourself and promotion 70% information
- One Twitter account
- FB – more local demographic – need to share more or messages will not get out
- Kent Theatre hub – helpful to get information out there
- Lots of Gilbert &Sullivan (G&S) groups – when promoting Iolanthe they shared posts and retweeted
- YouTube – used over last 9 months – host content to drive membership and ticket sales
- Iolanthe – made a short trailer of what was happening backstage etc. The link was shared a lot
- Godspell – 3 sell out performances
- Carousel – talented and semi-professional people also participated
- Now working with Irving Production Company – London company
Jenni Harben, Biggin Hill Musical Theatre Company
- Established 1973 – huge membership
- 2 years ago only 8 members
- It was a struggle to grow – had online presence but website not updated and stagnant
- Built Twitter to 1700 followers
- Facebook page now has 300 likes
- Moved to a Public page – group before - so it is viewable by everyone, whether or not they have a Facebook account
- 2 groups – committee and members
- Committee can make decisions much quicker
- For shows – members group arranges rehearsals etc
- Committee meetings on Skype, so much easier to organise
- Social media - focus on content – Facebook: videos and photos
- Members not very technical – workshop to train members
- Tested a mass post which was shared by members – and it got easier for members to use social media
- Revamped website – promoted local groups – working together, the audiences doubled
- Collaborated with other groups – did show with Swanley Light Opera Group
- 90% of members in Sweeney Todd (with the Sevenoaks Players)
- Aiming to start using Ticket Source online
- 'Avenue Q' production in October – auditions in April
Darren Coleman, Swanley Light Opera Group
- Website: www.slogdrama.org.uk
- Established 1969 – original members (2) and descendants
- Primarily G&S – whole variety over the years
- Now moved into plays – using SLOG Players
- Social media - same issues as Biggin Hill – lot of competition
- Building presence through the website – revamping to get it to work in tandem with social media
- Facebook - 125 likes – competitions to win free tickets
- Twitter 225 followers – similar to Facebook – if other groups are doing the same show, like their page and wish them luck
- Facebook – regularly change photos and content
- Progammes – decided to 'up' image – taken on low cost local advertising
- Publicity – to do YouTube video – meet director and cast – for next production
- Kent Theatre Hub (KTH) and Kent Performing Arts – Facebook pages useful.
- KTH very supportive. Theatre costumes, sets and props to hire – post on there and can find things that are needed for productions –
fee to hire it
- Social media – free way of advertising and can give impression of being much bigger than you are.
- Next production first week of June
The remainder of the evening was spent in discussions about the future of The Priory. Much concern was expressed about the possible loss as a community asset, if Bromley Council sell it. Executive on 11 February to decide (the decision was subsequently deferred until June, pending a public consultation.)
UPDATE: Great news! Farnborough Dramatic Society and Petts Wood Operatic Society and Biggin Hill Musical Theatre Company and Swanley Light Operatic Group and Orpington1st and The Big O Festival plus Reptile Events (a repeat visit with some of their animals) - all confirmed their attendance. The Council's proposed sale of The Priory will also be a 'hot' item for discussion.
Plans now afoot for the 10th Orpington Tweet Up (download poster here).
A number of local amateur dramatic societies have been invited to come along to promote their forthcoming productions and share their social media experiences:
Anyone wanting to participate and share news of their activities - even if not currently using social media?
Spencer Harradine of Bromley Cyclists elaborated on cycling activities. The Bromley Cyclists group represents 1/32nd of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC). Every London borough has a group. Social media, email etc have been used to develop a good relationship with the local authority (Bromley Council). All the boroughs share their experiences. Councillors and MPs are sent information about cycling to keep them aware.
The LCC recently ran an incredibly successful campaign, using technology – called Space for Cycling. It was started with a survey asking what people wanted for cycling – crossings, parking spaces etc. It was sent out by email and on Facebook and Twitter (@BromleyCyclists) remove through motor traffic; 20mph speed limits; safe routes to schools; protected cycle spaces on main roads. Once the elections were over, emails were sent to all the elected councillors. FB and Twitter were used to raise awareness publicly. In Bromley there are 22 ward champions who ran local campaigns and engaged with residents.
The rest of the country thought Space for Cycling was such a good idea, that they have picked it up too. Last Thursday the LCC won an award for one of the most effective campaigns using social media and technology in local elections.
Spencer also mentioned the phenomenal improvements in Orpington High Street, creating a multi-cultural feel, with trees and tubs of flowers. At Cycle Mania on 28 September, he was approached by 16 parents, pleading for a children’s cycling club in the Orpington area. Spencer runs 3 ‘Go-Ride’ clubs for children, to encourage more to cycle. 150 children are now riding every week in these clubs. However, in order to launch a successful club, it takes coaches, membership officers, secretaries etc. A dedicated group of volunteers is needed – ideally early retired people with a background in administration. Parental support is not a problem but it is temporary, whilst their children participate. It also needs the involvement of a local cycling group and good administrative back up. Courses covering various skills are available for volunteers. If anyone is interested in volunteering to help run a club in Orpington,
email: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Sharon Baldwin, Operations Director of Orpington 1st (Business Improvement District (BID) company) reported on the successful Cycle Mania event in Orpington High Street. It tested pedestrianisation at the top end of high street, where this can work without affecting bus routes. It is about shared space, to get people using the high street differently. Orpington 1st is working hard to make Orpington become more of a destination, for people to enjoy the environment. Street food was also on offer, giving people a different experience. The event was promoted through social media, rather than expensive traditional advertising and attendance was extremely good.
Sharon works on behalf of the BID company to improve things for business. And represents 357 businesses. There is a need to work in partnership with people to ensure services and offers match what customers want. The current retail offer and service is very value driven.
There is a huge amount of development going on and we need to get the message out to encourage people to use the high street more and social media is vital in helping to achieve this. In future, retail will not be the main primary use in the high street. Increasingly people shop online. There is a change in the way people want to use their high streets. Businesses are being encouraged to have websites and use social media. Rapid response and instant information are expected now. It is all about tempting people to use the high street. We need to develop sophisticated ways to use social media. Orpington 1st is working with Orpington College to improve social media interactions.
Sharon has recently moved into her new office in the High Street, which will become an Enterprise Zone. Events on social media will be held.
There are 4 themes to focus on improving the High Street – Business, Customers, Access and Look & Feel – and a lot of work has already been done:
Business newsletters go to 354 businesses
203-5 High Street is the new Enterprise ub to support local business, offering training and office space.
Full training programme e.g. food safety
Pop Up shop to test trading – new ideas/concepts – promotional events
Ensuring businesses know about new legislation
Catering courses for 14-19 year olds – in partnership with the College
Apprenticeships from Orpington College.
Monthly customer newsletters – 5,000 people signed up on the website
550+ Facebook ‘Likes’
Nearly 1900 followers on Twitter (@Orpington1st)
Orpington Loyalty card – keeping money local – giving customers an incentive to shop in the High Street
Developing Walnuts Square as an opportunity for markets and other events, such as open air theatre, music
Clean, green, safe and interesting high street.
Agreement with Parking Services – free parking in high street after 6:30pm
1st project was taking over the management of the public toilets from the Council - £40,000 spent on renovation. Now they are clean, tidy and well-kept.
Concentrating disabled parking in key areas
Look and feel:
Paid for baskets in the High Street
Organised community clean-ups
New police team in high street
Developing night time economy – looking at taxi service
Reviewing signage to make it clearer.
Reviewing street furniture.
Looking at access from Orpington Station – suggestion of rickshaws
There is a programme of 2-3 major events each year, plus supporting other people to hold their own events.
20 November – Christmas lights with fireworks, Father Christmas, reindeer and an Interactive Advent Calendar. This will receive a lot of promotion on social media.
February – Love Orpington week with love weddings, love fashion, love business and culminating in the awards ceremony for Best of Orpington Business
March – Farmyard theme featuring our Buff Orpington chicken
July – Cray Valley Festival is being brought into Orpington in Priory Gardens and the High Street.
August - Priory Live – music event in Priory Gardens, finishing with a fireworks display. Bands in this year’s event have gone on to win national competitions and the event received very positive feedback.
September - Cycle Mania – the 3 ward councillors were very supportive of this year’s event
Priory Intro – about supporting local bands in and around the high street - introducing small scale events for people to hear good music, using a phone app to vote for bands.
Jane Darnborough of Reptile Events enthralled the elite band of attendees with her explanation of how the organisation began. All the animals are rescued reptiles, mainly abandoned pets, where owners have become bored after a few years. Some snakes can live to 40-50 years. One upsetting example was where 3 snakes were owned by someone who joined the army and went abroad, leaving the pets with his parents. Reptile Events were alerted via a neighbour, who discovered they had not been fed for a year, only given water. One snake died, one is recovering and one is now well again.
Reptile Events does not organise events but goes to other organisations’ fetes and fairs. They are particularly busy in the summer months, especially May and June. Many people are frightened of snakes but have the opportunity to overcome their fears and raise money for charity at the same time.
Jane works with St Christopher’s Bromley, taking snakes into their day centre for patients to handle. As reptiles do not cause any allergies, they can be used with chemotherapy recoverers and other vulnerable people.
They always use events to talk about the reptiles, educating people on their care, so they understand the commitment needed. Many teenagers think snakes are ‘cool’ pets, without realising the amount of involvement needed in looking after them. Scout and Guide groups often invite Reptile Events to bring their animals and talk to the young people. Unfortunately anyone can purchase non-venomous snakes without a licence.
Invitations to show their reptiles come from various sources. A more unusual one was to replicate a voodoo marriage with a snake, which is supposed to call down the snake deity, Li Grand Zombi. The couple wanted to film it to show to relatives who were unable to go to the original wedding.
Photographic clubs are also interested in photographing the reptiles.
Jane is open to new ideas – meeting new people, helping some overcome their fears and educating people about the animals.
The website has stories of most of the animals, with their backgrounds and care.
They use Facebook and Twitter (@ReptileEvents) to promote the events they are attending.
Two members of Chelsfield Cricket Club also attended but their social media ‘guru’ could not. Hopefully they learnt something and took away a few hints and tips.
Margot Rohan – Orpington Community
Spencer Harradine (Bromley Cyclists) and Richard Gibbons will be speaking about cycling and Sharon Baldwin (BID Operations Director) from Orpington 1st will explain the exciting forthcoming activities planned for the Town Centre. Hopefully speakers from some of the following organisations will also share their social media tips:
Orpington Rugby Club
Petts Wood Cricket Club
and anyone else who would like to speak about their sporting promotions via social media.....
Reptile Events will be bringing some of their animals to the event (safely secured!), so this will be an opportunity to handle and find out more about reptiles - a chance to overcome your fears, if you are wary of them.
We would also like to provide the opportunity for 3 or 4 local small businesses in food, drink, arts and crafts to exhibit and offer tasters of their wares - allowing attendees to peruse the tables around the hall from 6:45-7:15pm and after the meeting (approximately 8:45-9:15pm). Please contact Margot Rohan if you are interested in being one of the businesses to exhibit.
The meeting began with Peter, chair of Friends Forum of Bromley Parks & Green Spaces, explaining about this umbrella organisation, which works with Bromley Council to support 38 Friends of parks and green spaces groups in Bromley (mainly on council-owned land). Peter, Darren Russell and Larry (chairman of Keston Friends) formed the committee in 2013. There are over 400 members on the committees of the groups. The Forum has built up a strong relationship with Bromley Council and the officers overseeing parks and green spaces and has formed new links over the last year. The Forum also organises for members of the groups to gain new skills - in biodiversity, managing accounts, using social media etc. Over the last year Friends groups have raised over £300,000 in funding. Bromley is a very good parks department. There are over 500 Friends groups across London
Darren Russell, Social Secretary for Friends of Hoblingwell gave an enthusiastic rendition of his growing expertise with Facebook. This Friends group was formed at the end of 2009, following a contentious plan to use the park for dumping rubbish from the Olympic park development, in return for refurbishing the playing pitches. Fortunately local residents put up strong opposition and the Council abandoned the proposal. The park has 3 levels of playing fields, plus a swing park, changing rooms for Orpington Rugby Club, a copse and a woodland area. Darren suggested that the problem with Friends groups is that they are mainly composed of retired people without contact with the rest of the community. He became Social Secretary after attending a meeting and created a Facebook page to make contacts with a wider range of age groups. After 30 likes the page got its own Facebook URL, which is much easier to promote. A banner promoting the Facebook link is put up at events. One example of the power of Facebook was when a dog was badly savaged in the park and a photo was posted on FB. It 'reached' over 400 and produced another 15 likes. The biggest audience is 35-50 years. At fund raising events, FB friends come along and members of Orpington Rugby Club, where events are often held on their premises. Now Darren has created a website: www.FriendsOfHoblingwell.com but finds it harder to get the Twitter account to work as well as what the Facebook page achieves.
There are Easter and Halloween events and music festivals. Currently the group is working on reclaiming a pond in the woodland which many people did not even realise was in the park! There will be a Summer event at the park on 26 July.
Jane Barnes, the Community and Corporate Fund Raiser from Bromley Mencap extolled the virtues of Twitter. Although Bromley Mencap is affiliated to the national Mencap organisation, it has to raise its own funding. The Bromley branch was set up in 1951 and joined with Scope in 2010. It provides services for people with a whole range of disabilities.
Jane explained that she uses Twitter far more than Facebook to promote Bromley Mencap. Facebook is linked to Twitter but the page needs revamping and to be used more effectively - particularly posting events, which is not currently done. Jane joined the charity in October 2013, to sort out their social media strategy. She has built up Twitter from 300 to 1300 followers but it is still difficult trying to get volunteers to help at events. There are 1700 members but many of them do not use computers, let alone social media. Jane recommended #BeckBromFL for helping to promote tweets. There is a regular BeckenhamBromley Tweet up with 50-60 people attending. There is a charge of £10 per ticket, which includes wine and food.
Jane also recommended using HootSuite to schedule tweets, so they can go out at the best times, even if no-one is able to send them then. She confirmed that lots of raffle prizes come through Twitter. Pamper nights prove particularly popular and participants are obtained through Twitter.
There will be a Reliability Ride on Sunday 22 June, sponsored by the bicycle shop in West Wickham, Le Bicycle, in order to raise funds for Bromley Mencap to set up a social enterprise (possibly a café or bicycle shop?). If this event proves successful, it could be an annual event for Learning Disability Week.
Lydia Coelho provided a written update on the Priory Revisited project:
"Bromley Museum is submitting its HLF grant application ‘The Priory Revisited’ this month (June) for the restoration and refurbishment of: the Priory building, the front landscape, and the museum exhibitions and facilities. Thank you to everyone who contributed during the consultation periods and helped shape the project.
The museum will know the outcome of the bid by the end of September, at which point we can share the news with you all. Depending on the outcome we will then either be starting the delivery phase at the end of this year, which will involve: tendering the work and finalising designs, then closing the museum for 18 months, before reopening in spring 2017. Or if the bid is unsuccessful we will begin reviewing all the remaining options for the future of the museum."
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
Orpington Tweet Ups occur approximately every 2-3 months and are open to anyone interested in learning more about using social media. Our Tweet Up has possibly found a permanent home at The Greenwood Centre in Green Street Green - and a generous sponsor, Tim Keenan of Edmund Estate Agents, is covering the hall hire cost.
The June event will be focusing on local Friends groups who use social media to promote their activities and attract new volunteers. There will also be updates on local activities reported at previous meetings, such as The Priory Revisited, The Cray Festival (5 July) and Three Days Film project (premiere at Langley Filmbox on 14 June).
Anyone is welcome to attend and find out more about using social media responsibly to promote local activities and events.
If any local Friends groups or volunteer groups supporting local activities and events would like to share their social media experiences at this meeting, please contact Margot Rohan at OrpingtonCommunity@yahoo.co.uk
Margot Rohan - Orpington Community
The 7th Orpington Tweet Up - 'Tune Up' had a musical focus although, unfortunately, no one actually burst into song! After an introduction by the organiser, Margot Rohan, the following speakers gave their insights into the best use of social media:
Emily Webb, Petts Wood Operatic Society:
www.pwos.org.uk and @PWOS_amdram
Alice and Emily explained that PWOS is more musical theatre than opera. Godspell will be their next show.
Last year they set up a new website and they use Facebook and Twitter to promote their activities. The society was in decline, so they are using social media to build awareness and attract new members (particularly younger) and audiences. Existing audiences were older and the membership 60% 50-60 yr olds. A lot of Facebook users ‘lurk’ to get information. Posts are also put on YouTube and Tumblr. Content is tailored for each type of social media. Twitter – use links and photos and tweet interesting content regularly. There is a public email address so people can get in contact. The website is linked to Twitter. Each feed uses different content. Twitter has a wider reach but Facebook tends to attract more local interest.
Links are being developed with the local community. Friends of the Stag have been very helpful. Amateur theatre groups - Amdram.net and Kent Theatre Hub (Facebook) - retweet posts. Hashtags are also useful, such as #BeckBromFL. Using #Auditions gets people searching for auditions. 10% audience comes from digital media and PWOS is looking for 25% for the next production. Membership has seen the biggest increase. Locally some amdram societies have closed due to the drop in membership. Offers of support – workshops, operatic singing etc – have surprisingly from social media. Societies are supporting each other – tweet production and get responses and retweets. 400 followers in 9 months. Higher level of conversion on Facebook from people liking the page to attending shows. Hoot Suite has been helpful - by having everything in one place, makes it easier to control all the social media streams. The only expenditure was hosting of the website. PWOS rehearse Tuesdays and Thursdays at Newstead Wood School.
Darren Weale introduced Molly, a member of The Zimmers (the oldest Rock Band, with ages ranging from 60-90):
www.thezimmers.co.uk and @The_Zimmers
Darren is the manager of the band. Social media has been useful in promoting gigs. It is possible to identify local groups on Facebook. By following people on Twitter one can find out about things you would not otherwise. Through Twitter, Darren made contact and became Laura Holland's agent. Linked In is more useful for business contacts.
Talent in Focus was recorded in the URF hall in St Mary Cray. A DJ from Radio Caroline, who lives locally, interviewed all the acts. Radio Caroline still broadcasts - from a ship in Tilbury dockyard. The Talent in Focus film will go on YouTube shortly. When organising the event, a plea for cables was posted on Facebook and a guy in Michigan suggested a place in Bromley, which was able to provide them. The Zimmers were in the semi-final of Britain’s got Talent in 2012.
Darren also writes for a couple of magazines. Facebook has been wonderful for contacting music people. Mud Morganfield, son of Muddy Waters, was interviewed and now Darren runs his website. Social media is about being conversational – not just dumping information or marketing products. Darren suggested PWOS should take part in the next Talent in Focus in June.
The Beaverwood Club in Chislehurst has great blues groups and singers but is not very well known. Tickets are £10-13 in advance or £12-15 on the door. For bookings and information, telephone 020 8761 9078, email email@example.com - website: www.feenstra.co.uk
Forthcoming attractions are:
Thursday 10 April - Curved Air with Sonja Kristina
Thursday 17 April - Rollin Stoned (Easter Special)
Tuesday 22 April - Buddy Whittington Band (USA)
Thursday 24 April - The Mods (Music of an era 1964-70)
Thursday 1 May - Kast Off Kings (May Day Special)
Thursday 8 May - King King
Thursday 15 May - Absolute Bowie
Thursday 22 May - Coco Montoya Band (USA)
Tuesday 27 May - Virgil & the Accelerators (CD launch)
Thursday 29 May - The Move
Thursday 5 June - Zoe Schwartz & Blues Commotion
Thursday 12 June - Billy Walton Band (USA) and Albany Down
Thursday 19 June - Purple Zeppelin
Tuesday 24 June - Moreland & Arbuckle (USA)
Mollie, a Zimmer, performed in the theatre from the age of 12 – in pantomime at the Prince Edward Theatre. She started singing at 3. She is 78 now. Her granddaughter told her that the Zimmers were advertising for new members on Twitter. She had to send a CD to the One Show. She was then invited onto the One Show. 3 gentlemen were also chosen to join the Zimmers.
She related several stories of her experiences with the Zimmers, including when they went to Ireland and met Linda Gray (Sue Ellen in Dallas) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby).
Nicky Barclay, Cray Festival organiser:
www.TheCrayFestival.co.uk and @CrayFestival
The festival started as a barbecue in a park in 2008. Now it is a major free festival, relying on grant funding and sponsorship. Social media plays an important part in marketing the event. However, it still needs posters, banners and local publicity. Facebook interacts with people and is still 'on the up'. Twitter is impersonal but good for drawing in other organisations from other areas – sharing knowledge. 2014 Festival – working on it since October. Arts and heritage festival – with science fiction and theatre – Dance of the Time Machines. There is also original music composition. There is a team of 22 – designers, set builders etc. Full size replicas of science fiction objects will be exhibited. All for free! Science Fiction Cosplay (dressing up) with a pageant from Orpington's shopping centre to the Festival. Live bands will play. The festival will be more diverse than last year - less music, more arts. Retro village will include Bromley Museum, Orpington History Organisation, Friends of Hoblingwell, amongst others. 20 local people are still needed to be trained as marshalls and learn some security skills. There will also be dance workshops and a cat walk show with 20 of UKs top body artists showing off natural body art, prior to the theatre. The festival will feature music, art, photography – all the creative forces. It will be on Saturday 5 July. (Watch out for press releases).
Vanessa Bailey, actor, screenwriter & producer of the "Three Days" short film project:
www.facebook.com/ThreeDaysFilm and @ThreeDaysFilm1
465 Facebook 'likes', 100,000 Twitter followers and the website. Twitter shaped the dynamic of the project. Facebook and Twitter can be manipulated to suit the project. 95% of Facebook 'likes' have come from Twitter. 98% of backers are complete strangers. The Facebook page is very interactive. The cast respond to people’s comments. Crowd funding on Indiegogo and KickStarter has brought funding for this creative project from all around the world. The screening will be at Langley Park (on the big screen) on June 14 but more funding is needed to cover the cost. It will be a red carpet event – black tie. Members of the crew have won BAFTAs and awards at Cannes etc – and they all volunteered through social media. Social media can attract high quality people prepared to help low cost projects.
Sally Pennington, founder of a local parent and toddler group:
Sally stressed the importance of social media in starting local and building awareness. She started a local parent and toddler group, using social media to attract new members and for publicising events. Now she also uses social media for fund raising for the local church. Churches in the Crays Together – Hope 4 the Future – has a whole week of events, including a large scale pamper night and an evening of entertainment (including The Zimmers), for £5 from 5-13 April.
1 March 2014
Venue for the March 'Tune Up' is now confirmed as The Greenwood Centre, High Street, Green Street Green. Tea/coffee and biscuits will be available (£1 each, to cover costs). PWOS have agreed to come along and share their social media experiences and also some local members of The Zimmers (the oldest rock band), together with an update from the Priory Revisited project and tips on using social media in music PR. We also hope to have news of the Cray Festival 2014.
Full details are on the poster which you can download by clicking on this link.
23 November 2013
Review of 'Read Up' on 20 November
Although the audience consisted of only 3 extra visitors brought by the speakers, plus the two organisers, making a total of 8, it was voted a thoroughly entertaining and interesting evening by those present. It was a very wet and windy evening and there was the Christmas Lights switch on, with lots of activities, in the high street, so perhaps it was not the most auspicious night to hold this Tweet Up!
promote projects and join up activities, to provide a more unified approach. Currently there are 21 members and, although not live yet, a
Facebook page, Twitter feed and website have been developed. The Forum will be applying for a grant to progress their ideas, such as passports for young people. They take them around the borough and get them stamped at various locations. This will help to create awareness of the strong cultural offer which is available in and around Bromley. People just need to know where to look.
(See Phil Waller's Orpington History newsletter for more information on BHAF.)
Lydia then elaborated on the latest situation with The Priory Revisited Project. In 2011, a Heritage Lottery Fund bid was developed, in order to refurbish the building, so new offers can be made to a wider audience - for schools, adults, interest groups etc.
Round 1 was successful, giving access to development funding, so an architect and other experts could be engaged. An activity programme was also started at the beginning of 2013. More than 1000 people took part in the consultation, including 12 news groups, young people and disabled groups. There was also a social media campaign.
The next stage of the process was to take all this work to the Heritage Lottery Fund for evaluation, which happened in September. There was a good response which was very positive. However, there is a stumbling block since, during investigations by the various experts (architect, engineers and other specialists), various issues came to light about the building, particularly the roof. The costs involved will be considerably more than originally anticipated.
Now the Council has to decide whether to put in extra match funding. A funding strategy has been written, offering alternative options, if further Council funding is not available. It was suggested that perhaps the media might get involved - such as DIY SOS.
Linda MacDonald, author of 'Meeting Lydia' and 'A Meeting of a Different Kind' (2 novels in a trilogy), explained how social media played a big part in her writing and promotion of her novels. "If not for social media, I would never have written 'Meeting Lydia'."
The background to her writing emanated from Linda's 5 years spent at a boys' prep school where she was the only girl in her class between the ages of 8 and 9. She suffered bullying which affected her later in life and she always felt it was food for a novel.
up teaching, in order to focus on crafting (painting, jewellery making etc) and writing. However, in 1996 Linda began teaching psychology at a Lewisham college and had no time for writing.
In 2001, as social media started to become popular, she began looking up old acquaintances on Friendship Reunited and exchanged some emails. She wondered what had happened to the bullies. There was one boy who never joined in the bullying and he was located via his secondary school and they exchanged a lot of emails. After a couple of weeks Linda suddenly felt like a weight had been lifted and she had finally come to terms with her past.
Finally she felt she had the plot of her novel, 'Meeting Lydia', spicing it up and using a social media theme, with the problems of internet relationships. In researching, she discovered that, whereas prior to the prevalence of social media the percentage of married people who contacted old flames was only 30%, this significantly increased to 82% post social media! However, these contacts are very seductive and it is easy for people to get carried away - first with emails, then texting (getting more intimate, but raising the possibility of jealousy). This might lead to meeting - getting more dangerous - flirting - ending in 'hotel room'! A well-known professor of psychology in California, Nancy Kalish, says: "If you value your relationship, don't do lunch!"
Linda confirmed that it is extremely difficult to get your first book published. She tried for some time and then decided to write a sequel, 'A Meeting of a Different Kind'. After completing this novel, she decided to self-publish in September 2011 and used Troubador's publishing
services. Both novels are available online through Troubador, Amazon and others (see Troubador links above).
Marketing was hard work and social media was a new vehicle for promotion. Linda found success through Twitter. She was asked to do an interview with BR3 Magazine, which led to reviews on blogs and Amazon. Then radio interview invitations came from Sydenham
Radio, West Country Radio, Talk Radio Europe and Cumbria Radio). All this activity produced requests for guest posts on blogs and then library talks.
There is a Lydia page on Facebook and you can follow Linda on Twitter. Next summer Linda plans to publish the third novel in the
Linda recommended www.goodreads.com for finding recommended reading.
Deborah Goodman gave an emotional presentation about her
unusual journey through life, living with the threat of Huntington's
Disease. Her book 'Hummingbird' is her autobiography and is a truly fascinating and uplifting read of how Deborah faced up to her demons and travelled through a healing process. When she was
8, her father was diagnosed with the disease and she learnt that her family had this terminal inherited gene for which there is a 50% chance of any children developing the disease. Her aunt also had it and her 2 brothers died after many years of suffering.
She continues to lead an adventurous life, raising funds for the Huntington's Disease Association, having walked the Great Wall of China,
climbed Kilimanjaro and, most recently, Machu Picchu.
She took 2 years to write her book in what little spare time she had, between 2011 and 2013. She self-published it on Amazon (see
link above) and has received numerous reviews, the majority being positive.
Deborah recommended 'Eat Pray Love', a book which helped her emotionally in coming to terms with her predicament - it was also made into a film in 2010, starring Julia Roberts.
A big thank you to all 3 speakers who gave enthusiastic and well received presentations and also to the Bromley Museum for providing a
wonderful venue plus laptop and projector, free of charge.
The 'Read Up' meeting on 20 November is promising to be a truly entertaining and informative event. 2 local authors, Linda McDonald ('Meeting Lydia' and 'A Meeting of a Different Kind') and Deborah Goodman ('Humming Bird') will be explaining how social media has created awareness about their writing.
Lydia Coelho from Bromley Museum will present the latest update on the progress of 'The Priory Revisited' project.
There will also be updates from Carolyn McBain on the 'Inside Out Orpington' project - encouraging young people's creativity and Phil Waller (Orpington History Organisation) on Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum (cultural activities in the borough of Bromley).
Firstly Sihing Bruno Dalledone from Martial Arts Orpington explained about the art of Wing Tsun - a sport teaching self defence. The Orpington club has been open about 2 years but Wing Tsun clubs are now in 63 countries. Wing Tsun encourages children to learn to handle themselves in difficult situations. It builds confidence and provides the skills to avoid getting into fights. 4 of the 8-10 year olds demonstrated what they learn at classes and showed how much they enjoy this sport. Bruno and Alex demonstrated what can be achieved with more experience and practice, showing how to disarm someone about to wield a baseball bat, without anyone getting hurt! The club meets at the Elite Gym in the Nugent Centre on Sevenoaks Way. Adult classes are actively promoted on the Facebook page.
Spencer Harradine from Bromley Cyclists asked how many people had ever ridden a bike - all but one! Twitter provides a channel which strongly supports cycling activities, with information on events and news constantly being tweeted, usually using hashtags for easy accessibility. The London Cycling Campaign uses Facebook and Twitter, as well as having a website. Recent campaign activities, such as the 5,000 cyclists riding round Parliament and London were heavily promoted through Twitter. Bromley Cyclists have a regular ride on Thursday evenings, ending in a pub. The rides are organised using social media, which also allows cyclists to communicate easily with each other. Yahoo groups are another useful channel for ongoing conversations which are totall
Spencer is also Chair of the Bigfoot Go Ride Club for children, in Hayes. The Bigfoot Cycle Club (for adults) has 360 members. It has an online forum and also a Facebook page. Mail chimp is also used for sending out
Recently Spencer was also voted London's Cycling Hero in an online vote! He reminded everyone that
Thursday is National Cycle to Work day.
Emma Wanostrocht is the centre's social media 'guru'. She emphasised how important it is to ensure social media is kept updated. She posts every day - usually with a photo link and often with a question, to encourage responses. It is important to be balanced and not only have posts limited to sales pitches. By interspersing those posts with humour, photos and links, and retweeting others' interesting posts, followers are prepared to accept the posts promoting a business or service. The centre posts information about other sports as well and one of their most popular tweets was one claiming that Andy Murray had switched to basketball after an offer of £15million! Since increasing their social media activity and ensuring they post every day, Facebook likes and Twitter followers have greatly increased.
Naz Chowdhury and Chandra Sharma gave an update on the Orpington BID (Business Improvement District) which is now branded as Orpington
1st. The first 'Explore' meeting took place on 30 July and brought together businesses, residents' association, community groups and local residents to join 4 theme groups to discuss what changes are needed to make Orpington a real destination for people to visit and enjoy. Under the
BID levy, most local businesses contribute to the fund - Tesco's share is £20,000. This will raise £167,000 each year and the decision on how to spend it is made by the BID company, whose directors are members of the business community. A marketing team has now been employed to develop a calendar of events and a strategy to achieve the aims of Orpington 1st, in order to make the high street a thriving entity once again.
Spencer Harradine, who is also in business (not in Orpington) made the valid point that it should be a 'CID' - Community Improvement District - as businesses cannot be successful without the support of local communities. Customers need to feel they belong and currently there is nothing to encourage people into the centre of Orpington. The Walnuts Square could be a vibrant area with lots of things happening there, which would draw people in, who would then go into the shops, eat in the restaurants and be entertained.
All the speakers were warmly appreciated. Even attendees who claimed they had come despite not being particularly interested in sports confirmed that they had thoroughly enjoyed the evening and might now consider taking up cycling, tennis or martial arts! One person left behind their quilted waistcoat and this was tweeted. The Walnuts will hold it in their lost property for 4 weeks - then it is given to a charity shop.
The next Tweet Up will be 'Read Up' on 20 November at Bromley Museum. Speakers will be:
- Linda McDonald - author of 'Meeting Lydia' and 'A Meeting of a Different Kind'
- Deborah Goodman - author of 'Humming Bird' - her inspiring life living under the shadow of the possibility of Huntington's Disease
- Lydia Coelho - update on 'The Priory Revisited' project
- Carolyn McBain - update on 'Inside Out Orpington' project - encouraging young people's creativity
- Phil Waller (Orpington History Organisation) - update on Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum - cultural activities in the borough of Bromley
20 November programme now confirmed and poster available.
27 August 2013
20 November Tweet Up programme nearly complete - Deborah Goodman, author of 'Humming Bird' now confirmed (see below under 17 July).
10 September Tweet Up - Thank you to Sarah Langford and Emma Wanostrocht, who will be speaking about Bromley Tennis Centre. Perhaps Kent Exiles will be able to come to a future Tweet Up.
Download revised poster.
November Tweet Up gathering speed....Linda MacDonald, local author of 'Meeting Lydia' (2nd novel 'A Meeting of a Different Kind' also published by Troubador) has agreed to reveal how social media led to her writing career and has assisted in its success.
Awaiting confirmations from another local author and The Priory Revisited project team, to complete the programme.
Venue for 10 September confirmed - generously offered by The Walnuts Leisure Centre, Orpington. Download poster with full information here.
The next Tweet Up will be on Tuesday 10 September. The theme will be sporting activities in Orpington, with speakers from Kent Exiles (American Football), Spencer Harradine (Bromley Cyclists) and Martial Arts Orpington and updates from Bromley Heritage & Arts Forum and Orpington BID (Business Improvement District). The venue will be confirmed and the programme finalised and published in a few days. If you wish to attend, please indicate either by 'joining' the Facebook event or by completing the Tweet Up Form.
November Tweet Up will be at The Priory - Bromley Museum on Wednesday 20 November - full details will be posted nearer the date.
17 July 2013 - 'Culture Special'
The evening started with the speaker on The Priory Revisited project being unable to attend. However an update had been provided (see email below).
For the latest news on the project, click on the link below to read:
The Priory Revisited July press release
Phil Waller, founder and principal researcher of Orpington History Organisation,
gave an impassioned presentation, highlighting how social media has enhanced its
growth. Phil also explained about the new London Borough of Bromley sponsored Heritage and Arts Forum (BHAF for short). Already it has 19 member organisations - local arts and cultural groups, including Bromley Arts Council, Churchill Theatre,
Nicky Barclay showed a wonderful collection of photos from the Cray Festival (6 July), taken by some talented young photographers, whilst delivering an enthusiastic report of how he persuaded Bromley Council and local businesses to sponsor the festival and gained support from local organisations to create an exciting and multi-faceted event, showcasing local musical talent and activities.
Tim Buick, CEO of StreetPin, gave a brief update on progress of the project which started in Green Street Green, where he is a resident. There have been some software issues but he is confident they will be resolved shortly and the project will gain momentum, proving to be effective digital pinboards for local organisations within communities to interact.
Vanessa Bailey, a local actor, explained her film project 'Three Days' - a romantic comedy. Being in that mid-age range where film parts for women are either predictable or, the more interesting ones, few and far between, she decided to write her own script and teamed up with another actor/writer, Richard Perryman. Together they were fortunate in getting on board a Cannes-winning director, Darren S Cook and double BAFTA-winning cinematographer, Huw T Walters. They raised enough to shoot some teaser-trailers and are currently crowd-funding - initially through Indiegogo - and have recently hit their target on Kickstarter. They offer rewards for different values of sponsorship - why not enjoy a day on set as an extra for a donation of £50? One of the other actors in the film, Catherine Rowney, also from Bromley, accompanied Vanessa to the Tweet Up.
The meeting then became an exchange of ideas, questions and suggestions, ending with a wonderful coffee cake - a surprise gift from @VickiLovesCakes, who had come along to find out more about the effective use of social media, to help her build her cake-making business. So, although there was no music (apart from the soundtrack on the film trailers) and no displays of art, there was some delicious food!
Co-presenter of the Tweet Ups, Darren Weale, of CoolLocal, and those familiar with using social media provided some insightful tips on how to use it most effectively.
Another delightful guest at the event was local author, Deborah Goodman, whose inspiring autobiography, Humming Bird, about living with the inheritance of Huntingdon's Disease has been receiving some great reviews: see HDA News and Amazon.
Carolyn McBain, leading a new project - Inside Out Orpington (showcasing the wealth of young talent in the area) - also attended and was able to make some useful contacts in the group.
The feedback was very encouraging, as all attending felt it had been an interesting, informative and lively event with representation from a wide variety of interest areas. The next event will be planned for mid-September - WATCH THIS SPACE!
A big thank you to everyone who attended, presented and contributed tonight.
14 July 2013 - UPDATE on Agenda for 17 July
The speakers are all confirmed as below but, unfortunately the Indian chef is unavailable, so the ethnic food is off the agenda. We are still working on persuading some local artists and musicians to put in an appearance and display their talents - if anyone would like to show their crafts, artwork, sculptures, or musical talent, please Contact Us.
Download Agenda here.
Speakers confirmed: Bromley Heritage & Arts Group/Orpington History Org - Phil Waller
The Priory Revisited - Hannah Jackson
Cray Festival - Nicky Barclay
StreetPin update - Tim Buick
PLUS: Vanessa Bailey from 'Three Days' film project, which includes some local locations
Awaiting confirmations regarding: displays from local artists, musicians, ethnic food etc. - anyone interested in participating, please contact OrpingtonCommunity@yahoo.co.uk
Download the new poster here - programme to commence 7pm.
Indicate your attendance on Facebook event here.
Orpington Liberal Club, 7 Station Road has kindly offered its premises for the next Orpington Tweet Up. We are hoping this will be an opportunity to update folks on the myriad projects progressing in the Orpington area, including The Priory Revisited and HAG (Bromley Heritage & Arts Group).
Another interesting evening with some new local business people at Harris HospisCare in Orpington.
Christine Davies of Harris HospisCare, who hosted the event, explained that the regular networking events are to get local businesses talking to each other. Harris HospisCare is part of the St Christopher's Group of hospices, providing the highest quality care to over 2,000 dying individuals each year on their inpatient wards and in people’s own homes, in the areas around Sydenham and Orpington. Harris HospisCare will be holding a 5km event 'Run for Life' on 4 July (see full details here), to raise funds - please support the wonderful work they do by taking part or sponsoring.
The Summer Fair is taking place on 8 June on Green Street Green village green again.
Darren Weale highlighted his website, Cool Local, which is all about supporting smaller businesses and organisations which are not able to promote themselves like larger organisations, with articles about the positive activities they are doing.
Social media is a good way of finding people you may not otherwise meet. Businesses should use social media more as it is a free means of promoting what they do and it just takes time. But it should be remembered that it is about having a two-way conversation - not a dumping ground for hard-selling.
Other events coming up are:
Wed 8 May 6.15pm - Orpington Business Forum
Thursday daytime May/early June Orpington Tweet Up at the St Mary Cray Market in Orpington Village Hall
Tue 11 June 7.30pm - 'A life in Comedy' - talk by David Nobbs, the creator of Reginald Perrin - proceeds going to Orpington Food Bank.
Everyone who signed up at the meeting will receive emails giving details of forthcoming events.
Download Poster for 1 May by clicking on the blue link. You can confirm your attendance on the Facebook event: click here.
Another enthusiastic meeting took place at Serenity, in Green Street Green High Street on Thursday 18 April. A dozen new people attended, varying from frequent social media users to those who admitted to 'not having a clue'! Margot Rohan (Orpington Community) introduced the event, with Darren Weale (Cool Local). Tim Buick (StreetPin) also gave an update, following StreetPin's launch on 5 April. He is hoping that Green Street Green will be 'the most connected village in the UK' by the end of April, with local organisations and businesses, including Green Street Green Primary School, the Baptist Church, Orpington Road Runners, Friends of Glentrammon Recreation Ground and the Village Society, running digital pinboards to promote their events and for local businesses to advertise their promotions, as well as running their own pinboards.
The meeting continued with lots of networking and small groups forming to discuss specific issues. There was plenty of help for those trying to get to grips with how to use social media and the evening was splendidly hosted by Gemma (Serenity) who generously provided teas, coffees, wine, lemonade and some delicious biscuits and little cakes.
Other social media afficianados who attended included the following tweeters: @Vodka_Lady (Howards of Kent); @RachaelBeesley; @CroftTeaRoom (Steve); @SJSSolutions (SJ Virtual Solutions); @LovelyBills; @BR6RoseandCrown
May Tweet Up moved to 1 May, due to a clash with another event at Harris HospisCare on 8 May.
Gemma, the owner of Serenity, in Green Street Green High Street, has generously offered the premises (with teas and coffees!) for another Orpington Tweet Up on 18 April - you can indicate your attendance on the 18 April Facebook event.
Download Poster and Agenda.
The next one is already confirmed on Wednesday 8 May,7pm at Harris HospisCare, Tregony Road, Orpington - see Facebook event.
N.B. You can only sign up to the event on Facebook if you have a profile.
The first ever Orpington Tweet Up on Tuesday 5th February 2013 was a gathering of people local to Orpington who are interested in the use of social media to better bring our community together and to help local businesses and local charities to be better known and used.
It took place from 7pm in the upstairs of the Gesti restaurant (now sadly closed down) in Orpington. The owner, Guiseppe, who took part in the meeting, kindly provided the room and free coffee, tea and biscuits.
Among those present were:
- Darren Weale, marketing consultant and founder of the Cool Local
website - www.coollocal.co.uk. In short, the website, motto
"Determined to cheer people up" is sharing stories of some of the
most interesting and inspiring smaller businesses, charities and
community groups in the UK, including several in Orpington/Bromley
such as The Choux Shop Bakery, the Croft Tea Rooms, Chislehurst
Caves and The Maypole Project. It has had words of approval from
local MP Jo Johnson:
"I wish it every success" and High Street champion, Mary Portas
(response to a Cool Local blog on Twitter @maryportas - "Great.
information - particularly that not easily found on the council website! This soon expanded into highlighting local issues, promoting local small
businesses and events and information about the local areas - history and photos etc;
- Chandra Sharma, vice-chairman of the Orpington Business Forum and Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses for the South East;
- Frank Levett, former Director of Thornburrows furniture store on the High Street, and member of the OBF Executive Committee and BID group;
- Elizabeth Downie - on the committee of Green Street Green Village Society and a member of the Friends of Glentrammon Recreation Ground;
- Vasanth Subramian, co-founder and CEO www.locatable.com, "a free service that helps you find where the best place is for you to live, based
on the factors (e.g. commuting times) that are most important for you";
- Neil Livingstone from the Orpington Street Pastors;
- Paul Birkett of Bluesquare management in Petts Wood;
- Tim Buick, Founder and CEO of StreetPin, www.streetpin.com "born to provide a common ground to chat, meet, rant to others in your location,
right now", which launches soon in Green Street Green - "connecting the world, one community at a time";
Topics and remarks touched on:
- Our common love of Orpington and the surrounding area and a desire to get good news out there and to raise the profile of Orpington;
- A desire to use social media to bring people together and to help local people to be aware of what is available to them on their doorstep in local
shops and services. Older people, for example, could better connect and be less isolated with the use of social media - as this event showed:
- A desire to see a more diverse and thriving high street;
There were also a couple of brief talks - a quick introduction to Cool Local by Darren, some words about the Orpington Community website from
Margot, words on the Orpington 1st/Business Improvement District proposal - www.orpington1st.co.uk - by Chandra, and a briefing on StreetPin by Tim. At the end we talked in small groups and one to one.
The intention is to have more such meetings and of different kinds and to continue to engage online. #OrpingtonTweetUp (Twitter tag, so people can use it, search and find all posts) will continue.
The idea for the Orpington TweetUp came from Darren, because he came across the "WarwickTweetUp" through his Twitter activity for his Cool Local website, @CoolLocal. In Warwick, a lot of local people, including businesses, use social media and the Warwick TweetUp has been a success, getting people talking, triggering events including a music festival (Warwick Rocks). Darren also admires the Orpington Community website and wanted to help Margot promote it, so suggested a TweetUp. Local estate agents Edmund even agreed to put posters in their windows with links to the Orpington Community website.
This is a beginning. Where it will lead remains to be seen, but the #OrpTweetUp is in business.
Article by: Darren Weale - 6 February 2013
See News Shopper article: First Ever Tweetup
On 17 January, a Twitter exchange led to the following post on our Facebook page:
"Plans afoot to start up an OrpingtonTweetUp group to encourage professional tweeting and increase awareness of the 'power' of social media. Hoping OBF members will be interested and volunteer a venue for a bi-monthly(?) social networking evening.
Any offers/suggestions for which weekday evening?"
By the end of that evening a date had been set - Tuesday 5 February at 7pm - and a venue in Orpington was being investigated. Orpington Business Forum came on board, hoping to provide a venue from one of its members and to encourage businesses to attend.
The meeting was open to anyone in the Orpington area interested in finding out more about how social media can inform the community - and be useful in providing prompt responses to individual queries.