The Camberwell Society

Society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell

​Legal eagles on our eastern border


John Hurst recalls the men who gave their names to two of our roads

Talfourd Road is named after Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd, who was born in 1795. He was a lawyer, Member of Parliament and an author. Denman Road gets its name from Thomas Denman, born in 1779. Both men died in 1854.

Talfourd was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1821. In 1835 he was elected as the Radical Party MP for the Reading constituency, where he was born. He was re-elected in 1847.

He introduced a Copyright Bill in 1837. It eventually became law in 1842, after many amendments following fierce opposition. Charles Dickens dedicated The Pickwick Papers to Talfourd and was one of the mourners at his funeral which took place at West Norwood Cemetery. He became a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1849. He wrote for the London Magazine, was a law reporter for The Times and the author of a number of poems and law-related articles.

Thomas Denman was born in London, educated at Eton and Cambridge and called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1806. He enjoyed rapid success and distinguished himself at the trial of members of The Luddite Movement. He was one of the counsels to Queen Caroline, the wife of George IV, in their divorce proceedings relating to her suspected adultery.

He was elected to parliament in 1818 for the Wareham constituency where he stood as a Whig and then in 1819 for the Nottingham constituency. In 1830 he was made Attorney General and two years later became Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. He was raised to the peerage in 1834 as Baron Denman of Dovedale in the County of Derby.

​A talent for dealing with disruption


Marie Staunton talks to Trudy Habgood, Denmark Hill Station’s manager

Trudy is surprisingly relaxed for a woman responsible for a station busier than Blackfriars in a pandemic. We meet in the operations room. Small, white and windowless, it also serves as staff room, kitchen and storeroom. Four computer screens show trains as moving green squares, signals as flickering red dots and a barrage of emails on train delays, platform alterations and requests from passengers. Christopher, a retired accountant who joined the team eight years ago, juggles the requests while Trudy takes calls from the six other stations on the Catford loop that she manages (Nunhead, Crofton Park, Ravensbourne, Catford, Bellingham and Beckenham Hill).

The previous weekend she was duty manager for all of Thameslink south of St Pancras, sorting out one passenger stuck in a lift, another drunkenly falling down an escalator, organising a deep clean of three stations where staff tested positive for Covid and counselling two workers who had been threatened by passengers. Station staff now wear body cameras to record assaults.

Problem solving is Trudy’s game. Twenty years as a wedding planner for a Lincolnshire manor house taught her to “put on a front and paddle like anything in the background”. Guests at one wedding were surprised and charmed to be dining by candlelight, unaware that this was Trudy’s response to an unexpected power failure. In 2016 her husband got a job as a train driver and Trudy moved with him to become a train dispatcher at Bedford station.

A dispatcher watches the signals, keeps an eye on train passengers getting on and off, gets ramps for boarding, watches the area between the train and the yellow line, raises her bat to tell the driver to CD (close doors), blows a whistle and gives a green light for RA ( right away) to dispatch the train. Trains terminate at Bedford, so Trudy disembarked those too drugged or drunk to move and the homeless people who sleep on trains. She would wake them gently, aware that she may be the only person who spoke to them kindly all day. Station staff see many homeless people. This year the team made calendars to sell for Noah, the charity for the homeless.

In May 2018, Thameslink was in the news as the infrastructure failed to keep up with new timetable changes, throwing the network into disarray. “When the train service is disrupted you come into your own,” said Trudy. “Working with limited information, perhaps a radio message that there will be no trains for two hours, or the overhead lines have failed. Passengers want to lash out at someone and you are wearing the uniform, so it is you. I learnt not to take it personally. And to listen carefully to people who had planes to catch, were worried about missing their appointment for cancer treatment or the mum who needed to be home for her son’s first parents’ evening, and to be inventive about getting them on their way.”

The job became quieter when driver-only operated trains (DOO) which use cameras along the length of the train were introduced, reducing the need for dispatchers. Then Trudy’s experience was used to train others across the network. In July 2020, she was appointed station manager for the Catford Loop, just in time for the opening of the new £80 million Denmark Hill station entrance. Luckily, the money had been allocated before COVID hit the railways’ income.

Now the railways are being renationalised under Great British Railways. Since Denmark Hill was built by architect Charles Henry Driver in the 1860s, it has been privatised and renationalised twice and almost demolished in the 1980s before the Camberwell Society intervened and persuaded British Rail to preserve it.

What difference will government control make? Decisions will be slower, but as Denmark Hill continues to be busy (passenger numbers doubled between 2014 and 2019) the station will thrive. Trudy hopes that the new free cycle bay on Windsor Walk will be used (just scan the QR code to get your free access card). She is keen to bring back to life neglected areas, “just like Nick and Tony from the Camberwell Society have transformed what was a horrid area with their planting and installations”. After eighteen months as our station manager, Trudy says, “I like it here. It is always busy. If you want to see all of life, the worst and the best of people, join the railway!”

Democracy is Upon Us - The Local Elections - Hustings

SE5 Forum for Camberwell are holding a hustings for citizens to exercise their democratic rights and challenge party representatives from both Southwark and Lambeth on their views, plans and promises. Wed 20 April 2022, 7.00-8.30pm at United Reformed Church, Love Walk, Camberwell SE5 8AE. Booking required:

Download a flyer for the event here

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal - Disasters Emergency Committee

The horrors that Ukraine is having to bear unfold on our screens continually. Help those trying to escape the brutality. You can use the link below or scan the QR code which takes you to the same place. Don't forget to check the Gift Aid box if you are a UK tax payer.

Go To Disasters Emergency Committee Donation page for Ukraine

Age, nature, kindness, and fun too


Ros Tabor reviews A Robin Called Ruben by Mark and Louise Baxter

This delightful book by local authors Mark and Louse Baxter, tells the tale of a robin called Ruben who lives in Camberwell Green. Every day he has his breakfast with the same old lady, Jeannie, who lives nearby. She feeds him every day and then suddenly she is not around.

Ruben is worried and so decides to try and find her. His journey cleverly introduces the different characters who make up the local neighbourhood. He chats to each person and when they tell him their problems, he wishes them good luck and happy memories in exchange for something to eat.

Eventually he discovers that Jeannie has moved to a care home near London Bridge and he starts to visit her there. We are left with the hope that their special relationship will last a bit longer.

The book is written to be read to young children and explains in a gentle way that old people may have to leave their homes and go into care. Reassuringly, Jeannie is shown as happy in her new home, able to recognise Ruben and enjoy chatting to him.

The story is set in Camberwell, and the descriptions are accurate and humorous. But the diverse neighbourhood is similar to many inner-city areas and the book’s themes are universal: age, nature, kindness, caring and hope. It would help a young child whose elderly relatives or carers are becoming more frail. Dementia is not named, but the book is dedicated to sufferers of that condition.

Very young children will enjoy the bright clear illustrations and would be able to pick out the robin on each page. Much fun could also be had tasting the various snacks that the robin enjoys.

£10 from Proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Main photo: Southwark News

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The Camberwell Society was formed in 1970 and is the recognised amenity society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell.

The Society’s objectives, as defined by our constitution, are: to stimulate public interest in Camberwell, to promote high standards of planning and architecture in Camberwell, and to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Camberwell.

We are a charity and raise money for local charities. In the past we have raised money for Southside Rehabilitation Association, St Giles Trust, Cambridge House, the CamberwellCommunity Choir, the HollingtonYouth Centre and the Camberwell Arts Festival