CARA’s history: the early years
CARA started as a protest group. Residents of the Albany Apartments were concerned about the proposed floodlighting of the sports pitch of the redeveloped Teddington School across the river. May Bate, a resident of the Albany and a journalist lead the protest group. May contacted other riverside residents many of whom joined the protest. Subdued lighting was installed and CARA was born.
On Friday 8th Oct 1990 we had our first inaugural meeting of the Association. Mike Siegal, still a CARA resident and member who became Kingston Town Cryer in 2018, was voted in as the first chairman. May agreed to be secretary. Despite constantly badgering the council, she has been commemorated in the name of May Bate Avenue in Canbury Court at the southern end of the CARA area. Early in our history the Queen visited Canbury Gardens when members of the committee were introduced to her Majesty as representatives of her loyal subjects in the area.
CARA quickly became a strong voice in the administration of local affairs. Parking even then was a problem. The new John Lewis did not provide parking space for all of its employees. The CARA area became a convenient parking lot. After several years of haggling, we negotiated our first CPZ to stop all day commuter parking. After the demolition of the power station, the row of poplars shielding the gardens from the site was considered diseased and unsafe. A protest group of green activists, lead by the then well known protester “Swampy”, built tree houses and slept in them to deter the wielders of the chain saws. As with many disputes in our area, local opinion was divided. But as one or two diseased trees were clearly pointed out the majority of residents agreed to the felling. CARA insisted however that suitable replacement trees should be planted in their place. The developers of Canbury Place were not pleased as they wanted “uninterrupted” views of the river in their prospectus.
CARA in the 21st Century