Local residents came together in Bermondsey on a blustery morning last week to celebrate the spring arrival of some of the 10,000 tulips planted last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a radical council plan to make the area greener, writes Kit Heren…
The Greener Bermondsey volunteers gathered on Saturday, April 3, at the Bricklayers Arms roundabout just off the New Kent Road and at the Dickens Estate to admire their handiwork.
Among them were the Mayor of Southwark and Labour Peckham councillor Barrie Hargrove, as well as other Southwark councillors from both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, and representatives from local tenants and residents associations.
More than 2,000 Bermondsey and Rotherhithe residents planted over 10,000 tulip bulbs in autumn 2020. J.Parker’s Bulbs donated the tulips.
The plan was to plant the bulbs in recognition of Ada Salter, the socialist former Bermondsey mayor who launched the Beautification Committee in 1920, with the aim of making the crowded and heavily industrial area a healthier and happier place to live.
The committee ended up planting 9,000 trees and 60,000 plants, according to Hannah Awcock in her blog Turbulent Londoners. About 70 miles of streets were lined with trees, out of 80 miles in the borough, according to social housing historian John Boughton.
Anna Bayraktar, who led the Greener Bermondsey tulip project, said: “A really huge thankyou from Greener Bermondsey to J. Parker’s Bulbs. Their donation of the 10,000 Ada tulip bulbs gave many people a gift: those 1000 people who picked up a bag of five bulbs in the two markets and those who volunteered their groups to plant bigger batches.
“Everyone promised to plant their tulips where others could see, so throughout April we hope the rest of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe will find them a gift too.”
Cllr Humaira Ali, a Lib Dem councillor for London Bridge and West Bermondsey, added the wider Greener Bermondsey scheme was about tackling the climate crisis.
She told the News: “For me, this is about a community that comes together at a time of crisis. The wider Greener Bermondsey project is about the climate crisis and the Ada 100 project is about communities coming together on the back of Covid and in celebration of Ada Salter, who 100 years ago, founded the Beautification Committee in order to make Bermondsey a better place.
“To recapture that essence, we would invite every resident, every school, every organisation and every business to come join Greener Bermondsey as we launch the project to reduce the carbon footprint of Bermondsey.”