'Lamp-posts and Bulldozers: the Foundation of the St John’s Wood Society' or 'How the Society came to be formed'
The St John's Wood Society was set up in response to a planned change affecting the local area. The two following events show why the Society was set up.
In 1956, St. Marylebone Council attempted to replace the St John’s Wood’s Victorian lamp-posts by up-to-date but unsuitable street lighting. There was a huge outcry in the local area. No one wanted the old Victorian street lights replaced by ‘these modern monstrosities’. A public meeting was duly organised at the St John’s Wood Arts Club, and the St John’s Wood Preservation Society was set up. After a two-year struggle and a petition signed by 3000 local residents, the Council admitted defeat and installed modern lighting which was more in keeping with the period charm of St John’s Wood.
Bulldozers brought about the next stage in the Society's development. In 1963, when developers set about destroying quality, as well as bomb-damaged, houses in Loudoun Road, the St John’s Wood Society was reconstituted under the chairmanship of the late Stephen Potter. Later, under the chairmanship of John Hawkes and Mrs Barbara Comerford, the Society was responsible for designating two large Conservation Areas under the Civic Amenities Act 1967.
Changes that are unsympathetic to the style and character of the neighbourhood are still being resisted and the Society’s voluntary committees have achieved a great deal. Today, the Society is recognised by Westminster City Council as a respected consultative body representing the views of local residents on traffic, tree preservation and all local planning applications.
(with grateful acknowledgements to St John's Wood : An Abode of Love And The Arts by Stella Margetson)