What is the John Innes Society?

The John Innes Society is a Registered Charity. It is a non-political organisation that is primarily dedicated to safeguard and improve the built and natural environment in and around Merton Park. We exist solely for the benefit of the community and everyone in it within this special part of south-west London.

Who was John Innes?

John Innes (1829 - 1904) was a businessman, property developer and benefactor - the "Squire of Merton" - who who lived in the old village of Merton and created Merton Park. His vision and enlightened ideas resulted in the laying out of this garden suburb with tree-lined roads, fine houses in a variety of sizes and styles, and the holly hedges that are still a feature today. His name has become famous through his bequest that founded the first horticultural research institute in the country.

What do we do?

Conserve

As a conservation society we work hard to safeguard and enhance our area. Threats to our quality of life are, fortunately, few. However, we are always ready to fight developments that threaten the area. Two good examples of this are the successful opposition of the extension of the relief road through Merton Park and the preservation of the Church Lane playing fields as a "dedicated public open space in perpetuity" when the intention was to develop it for housing. Of course, we also fight smaller battles - issues such as road safety, parking, graffiti, street furniture, inappropriate development - anything that adversely affects the character of our area. We promote good and sympathetic design by monitoring planning applications and informing the Council of our views.
We also work and provide money to make the area a nicer place in which to live. For example, we have helped secure funding for the major improvements to John Innes Park. We have also enhanced our area through planting and caring for trees, and measures to protect and promote wildlife. In all of this we work closely with our members, the local council, land use and conservation bodies, and other local organisations.

Inform

We inform residents about the heritage of the local area and issues that are relevant to its conservation and enhancement. We have many publications about Merton Park and its history. To commemorate the centenary of the death of John Innes in 2004 we published a book, by Neal Priestland, "John Innes - His Life and Legacy". We also produce a bi-monthly, informative newsletter, which contains information and views about relevant planning matters, notices of and reports on the Society's events and activities, and articles about conservation, sustainability, wildlife, local history, and the activities of local clubs and organizations. We have also organized talks and exhibitions about the area and other relevant subjects.

Bring Together

We hold events to raise money to support our purposes and encourage community values and involvement among the people who live in the area. The social events include Music in the Park, bring and buy plant sales, a teddy bears' picnic, a pancake party, and wine tasting evenings. There is a garden group and a Best Front Garden competition, bridge and bingo. Other new social activities are under consideration to meet the needs of our members.