Sunflower Celebrations For Bedford Park Festival's Golden Jubilee

1967 Exhibition saved 356 houses from risk of demolition


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The organisers of this year’s Bedford Park Festival are asking residents to brighten the area with sunflowers to celebrate the Festival’s Golden Jubilee in June. There’ll be a sunflower-growing competition, a Jubilee Garden Party and exhibitions of posters, programmes and photographs to mark the 50th anniversary of Chiswick’s biggest community event.

The sunflower is the symbol of the Festival and can be seen in the brickwork of many of the houses. As well as growing them from seed to enter the competition, residents are being encouraged to buy sunflowers to display in their windows and front gardens in June and throughout the summer.

This year’s Festival will also celebrate the part its founders played in 1967, alongside the Bedford Park Society, in achieving Grade II listing for more than 300 houses threatened with demolition by developers. The story will be told in “The Exhibition that Saved Bedford Park”, compiled by local historian Dr David Budworth and displayed in St Michael & All Angels Church.

“It was one of the great heritage campaigns of the 20th Century” says Torin Douglas, who is organising the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

“In the Sixties, Victorian architecture was out of fashion and Acton Council was knocking down beautiful Arts & Crafts houses and replacing them with ugly blocks of flats” he said.

“The Bedford Park Society led the fightback, under the patronage of John Betjeman, and the breakthrough came during the first Festival in 1967. An exhibition in the Vicarage highlighted the architectural significance of Bedford Park and houses that had already been lost - and it was visited by Betjeman and a Ministry of Housing inspector. A month later, no fewer than 356 of the houses were granted provisional listing.”

The Golden Jubilee Festival runs from June 9th to 25th and will also feature early posters of annual highlights such as the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition, the Open Gardens, the Festival Mass and the Poetry Evening. Festival-goers are invited to submit their own memorabilia and photographs for display online in the Bedford Park Festival Archive.

The Festival archive already contains hundreds of photographs of the opening Green Days weekend, including pictures of the dozen celebrities who opened last year’s 50th Green Days fete, including Jeremy Vine, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Elizabeth McGovern, Rageh Omaar and Phylis Logan. Items may be submitted to

The Jubilee theme will continue at this year’s Green Days weekend on June 10th and 11th.
The theme of the children’s fancy dress parade, which opens the Festival on Saturday June 10th, is ‘The Next 50 Years - robots, space travel, technology, fashions…’, allowing children to let their imagination run wild!

The Sunflower Growing Competition will be judged at the Plant Stall on June 10th. It is being sponsored by estate agents Andrew Nunn & Associates, one of dozens of local companies that generously support the Festival.

Andrew Nunn first worked in Chiswick 30 years ago and says: “My passion for Bedford Park lies in the architecture and classical detail of the houses and the preservation of that detail over the years - combined with the fascinating history and foresight of folk like Jonathan Carr in developing the first garden suburb.”

The Green Days fete attracts thousands of people each year with its mix of live music, children’s events, stalls, sideshows, refreshments, craft fair, cycle zone and funfair. There are competitions for all ages, including children’s fancy dress and five-a-side football.
Help and take part

Green Days is supported by dozens of local businesses and volunteers, who help run stalls and donate cakes, jams, marmalade, plants, bric-a-brac, books, toys and tombola prizes to raise money for charities and the church. The organisers are always seeking more helpers for the beer tent, barbecue and other stalls. You can find out how to help and take part.

Green Days weekend opens a fortnight of community and arts events in aid of charities and St Michael & All Angels. This year’s Festival events will include films, opera, drama, concerts, poetry, exhibitions, talks, food, church services and open gardens. The full programme of events will be published in May.

The Bedford Park Festival has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities and the church over the years. The 2017 Festival will raise money for: Msaada, which helps restore dignity to the forgotten victims of the Rwandan genocide; The Upper Room, who feed and support the community in need in West London; The Amber Trust, which helps blind children fulfil their musical potential; and St Michael and All Angels.


April 28, 2017


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