Virtuoso violinist Nigel Kennedy backs Dam Nonsense campaign against Hampstead Heath pond works
December 5, 2013
World famous violinist Nigel Kennedy has branded the proposed works to Hampstead Heath’s ponds “suspicious” and thrown his weight behind the Dam Nonsense opposition campaign.
The virtuoso musician accused the City of London Corporation of “scaremongering” over its claims that nearly 1,500 people could drown if major engineering works are not carried out to the Heath’s dams.
The long-time Belsize Park resident was speaking after performing for the first time on his home turf at St Peter’s Church, Belsize Square.
He told the Ham&High: “They’re saying that thousands of people are going to die from floods from these ponds, which have been there for hundreds of years, and the ponds are basically on the lowest level of land anyway, so how can anyone get done over by that?
“It does seem a bit suspicious. To have too much development of the place, it’s going to lose its natural beauty.”
Mr Kennedy arranged the concert as a benefit for The Heath and Hampstead Society, which launched the Dam Nonsense campaign to save the ponds last week.
The society is urging the City, which manages the Heath, to scale back proposals for major engineering works to prevent the ponds failing in the event of an extreme storm, which is forecast to take place only once in every 400,000 years. Critics say the £15million project is unnecessary and will “permanently disfigure” the landscape.
Mr Kennedy said he visits the Heath every day to walk his two dogs and he wanted to support the society’s fight to protect it.
“I’ve not done any gig in Hampstead ever and I just wanted to do something for some people who might be living locally, just to kind of say a metaphorical thank you for being in such a nice part of the world,” he added. The violinist, who was the star of the Last Night of The Proms in September, was also raising money towards a £10,000 project to improve the church garden at St Peter’s.
Sporting a trademark Aston Villa top under his jacket, he played an eclectic programme including works by Bach, jazz violin great Stéphane Grappelli and his own compositions, backed by an ensemble of violin, guitar, double bass and drums.
Introducing the concert, he told the audience: “I love Hampstead Heath and I love the green of this part of the world, and so my friends agreed to come here and play to remind people how beautiful this area is and to try to keep some of the innate characteristics from being spoiled by political organisations, or whoever else might be trying to put some concrete up.”
The benefit came about after a chance meeting with the church warden at St Peter’s, Ken Robbie, who described the concert as “electrifying”.
The society thanked Mr Kennedy for his support by naming him an honorary life member.
Violinist Nigel Kennedy wades into ponds row with warning that new dams could ‘butcher’ Hampstead Heath
Published: 5 December, 2013
by DAN CARRIER
VIOLINIST Nigel Kennedy has told the New Journal how a plan to build new dams on Hampstead Heath risks “butchering” the historic green space.
He used a public performance in Belsize Park on Monday night to offer support to the Heath and Hampstead Society’s “Dam Nonsense” campaign to stop new dams being built on Hampstead Heath.
The fiddle player played a fund-raising concert at St Peter’s Church for the civic group and told concert-goers that he was 100 per cent behind the Society’s campaign to stop the City of London raising the edges of ponds on the Heath. The new flood defences will be raised by up to three metres to lessen the risk of flash flooding.
Mr Kennedy, who has lived in Belsize Park for 20 years, said: “I walk my dogs on the Heath every day when I’m not on tour and value tremendously its unique environment. We are so lucky as a community and as a city to have the Heath, one of the most beautiful open spaces in any city in the world, and it would be nothing short of a catastrophe if a construction company is given the go-ahead to butcher it or change the look of it in any way.”