Bedford Park Honours Local Conservationist

Beryl Brownsword is remembered with special green plaque

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The Bedford Park Society is celebrating the contribution of Beryl Brownsword, one of its most stalwart members, with a special green plaque on the wall of the house where she spent most of her life.

The plaque will be unveiled by unveiled by her long-standing friend Richard Hitch on Saturday 20th September at 40 Rusthall Avenue. He and Beryl worked together just after the Second World War in the architectural practice run by Richard (later Sir) Sheppard. Beryl, who never married but loved children, was a godmother to Richard's daughter Jane.¬

Beryl joined the Society's committee shortly after it was formed in 1963, and thereafter served as secretary and, later, membership secretary, until her death in 2007. But it was as an architect that her talents proved particularly vital; she monitored planning applications in both the Ealing and Hounslow halves of the conservation area.

As the Society's president, Nigel Woolner, said, Forty-four years of dealing with planning matters gave her an extensive knowledge of Bedford Park, and she successfully navigated the changing political landscape with humour and modesty. Beryl arrived in Rusthall Avenue at the age of three with her parents, and her long-standing love of the area made her an especially effective protector and conserver of the world's first garden suburb.

Bedford Park was developed as the world’s first garden suburb between 1875 and 1886 on 24 acres of land near Turnham Green station on the borders of Acton and Chiswick. At its core are some 460 Grade II listed houses, designed by such eminent Victorian architects as Richard Norman Shaw and E W Godwin, long-time lover of actress Ellen Terry.

The Bedford Park Society was founded by Tom Greeves and Harry Taylor in 1963 in response to threatened demolition and inappropriate developments. In 1967 it achieved Grade II listing for some 460 properties, and by 1970 it had persuaded the London boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow to each declare their half of Bedford Park an outstanding conservation area.

The Society, which has some 500 members, monitors planning applications in both boroughs with the aim of protecting the neighbourhood's buildings and green spaces.

The Society started its green plaque scheme in 1988 to commemorate important former residents. The first plaque went up on the Blenheim Road house where the Yeats family, including poet William Butler Yeats, lived. Other plaques celebrate VSO founder Alec Dickson, who also lived in Blenheim Road, and the Newton Grove home of Tom Greeves,

September 15, 2008