|Click here for Current Issues|
Latest news: The Mayor of London on 27 July 2021 chaired a public hearing into the latest scheme and ended the hearing by refusing planning permission for both Applications A (the housing/mixed use development) and B (the secondary school). For more details, and other current issues, click here.
For forthcoming events and useful links regarding past events, please scroll down.
Prudie Mennell RIP
Prudie Vansittart (Mennell) , a former member of the MESS committee sadly passed away recently, exactly a week after her 97th birthday. Many of us thought she would be with us for years to come, so “alive” was she!
She was a 15 year old school girl when war broke out, but within a few short years, she had left school, done a course at secretarial college and found herself in the heart of the secret war effort. Through her father’s contacts she had taken up a junior post in a government department, off Whitehall. This turned out to be the London end of the Bletchley decoding operation. Raw messages just decoded into clear English were sent to her department to be passed on to the relevant decision makers. Prudie loved the book the Bletchley Girls , by Tessa Dunlop, which describes the way young women , initially mostly recruited among well-to-do families, were assigned to incredibly sensitive tasks without any training to speak of and , even more surprising for us in view of the torrent of indiscretions we have become used to, none of these young women ever broke their silence about what they did. To be fair, the fragmented information she was privy to ,was not in itself very revealing, but on the 5th June 1944, Prudie knew that a huge operation was programmed and in severe contravention of all the rules she had smuggled a little wireless set in the office to follow its progress. The poor weather caused the date to be put back one day and she never heard any of the actual D-day reporting!
Shortly after the Allied landings, work became very routine and Prudie , still too young (at the age of 20) to be allowed to join the intelligence service abroad, was enrolled in the women’s transport services ( quaintly known by their old name of FANY). She was posted to Delhi with other young things, working hard, living in luxury compared to war time England and with their own individual bearer to serve them! Later she flew by seaplane to Cairo, to join the services Liaison Department, which was really the British secret service in the Middle East. The young people worked hard, played sport in the long afternoon breaks and managed to find the energy to party the night away. It was at such a party at the Tank Corps Mess that she met Peter Mennell.
Peter and Prudie were married in 1947. When Peter entered the Diplomatic service, they started a long career of foreign postings and a very varied life in somewhat complicated circumstances. Her description of her traveling alone with her two eldest children by boat and train in the midst of the Russian winter to join her husband at the Moscow embassy was hair raising and featured freezing carriages, unobtainable food and endless Soviet-era bureaucratic delays. Peter Mennell served in many places, including the USA, Ecuador, Spain etc. Prudie recalled the pleasure of meeting interesting people and the incredible tedium of entertaining awkward ones!
After Peter’s death, Prudie bravely determined to live as full a life as she could. She was particularly good company. She entertained friends frequently and travelled avidly, resolutely ignoring the assaults of age on her body. On a trip to Poland with us in her late 80s she walked down the hundreds of steps into the salt mines uncomplainingly! She wanted to be of use. She served for many years at the Missing People charity. By the time she joined the MESS committee she was less physically able but she still found a role as the person who took bookings for events, efficiently and her usual courteous manner.
Our area is caught between three minefields which emerged in mid August 2020, viz:
Thurs 13 Aug: Hammersmith Bridge closed to pedestrians and cyclists due to widening cracks.
Fri 14 Aug: Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan unveiled.
Sat 15 Aug: Revised plans for the Mortlake Brewery unveiled.
The three minefields are interlinked. The closure of Hammersmith Bridge to vehicular traffic in April 2019 had already caused the diversion of traffic to Chiswick Bridge through our area. The Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan prevents such traffic from entering East Sheen via Sheen Gate and the Brewery redevelopment can only be accessed from the A3003 (Lower Richmond Road/Mortlake High Street/ Barnes High Street) which is already heavily gridlocked.
For detailed news on these and other items please click here.
The Mortlake Brewery
Richmond Park Traffic Management Plan
Other recent planning applications
East Sheen Parkside Low Traffic Neighbourhood Plan
Other future events: Stay tuned.
Useful links for past events:
In March 2021, our AGM was followed by a showing of Tom Stanier’s half-hour film about Dr John Dee, Mortlake’s most eminent resident to date, philosopher, astrologist and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, with scenes of his life scripted by Tom and performed by members of the Barnes Community Players. If you wish to see this film please click here :Please note that there are 17 secs of blank screen at the beginning, and you do not need to open a “OneDrive” account.
In February 2021, Sandra Hempel gave a talk about the history of Barnes Hospital. If you would like to read more about her book on the topic, or order a copy, please click here.
In October 2020, Patience Trevor gave a presentation about our Historic Walls, followed by a walk around some of the walls on 6 June 2021. If you would like to read more and see the maps which show the locations of our historic walls on today’s map base and also on Godfrey’s historic maps of 1893, please click here.