Summer in the Square 2011

Greg Rusedski opens eventThe rain stayed away, and the sun shone as - heralded by the pealing bells of St Mary's Church - former British number one tennis player and Battersea resident Greg Rusedski (right) opened the second Summer in the Square event on Saturday 14th May 2011.

As the organisers had hoped the festival was even bigger and better than the previous year, attracting up to three thousand visitors throughout the day. More than eighty stalls run by Battersea traders lined Battersea High Street and the Square, offering fashion, food, jewellery, beauty products, children's toys and clothes, gifts and cards and building and property services as well as an Italian farmers' market. Local organisations and charities took stalls to introduce themselves, notably the Rotary Club who demonstrated their Survival Tent and Thomas's Schools Foundation which ran art workshops to introduce younger children to the joys of Plasticine modelling (below).

Plasticine modelling

Guided walks departed from the Battersea Heritage Council stall and there were treasure trails and competitions. A children's courtyard in Cotswold Mews offered younger visitors a Pets' Corner, badge making, face painting, children's tea parties, toys, James the Roving Magician, a highly skilled balloon modeller, and a play area. There were donkey rides up and down the High Street and a dog show with twelve categories attracting record numbers of entrants, who were judged by a professional expert from Crufts. Street performers rode penny-farthings, ate fire and walked on stilts dressed as extremely tall sunflowers.

On the outdoor stage visitors enjoyed perfomances from close harmony group the Gentlemen of St John's, displays by students and pupils of the Royal Academy of Dance, and classical music from a cellist from Southbank Sinfonia and by the Apollo string trio. Caius House youth groups contributed exuberant singing and energetic street dance routines while Big Sand Steel Band, a great hit last year, played throughout the day.

Westbridge School

There was more ballet from Thomas's Ballerinas (from years 7 and 8) who danced Allegria, a contemporary dance piece based on Picasso's painting Dora Maar and year 5 pupils from Westbridge Primary School (above) performed their iGospel song routine. Pupils from the Salesian College took to the stage to both sing and play guitars and D C Scribbla, an extraordinary thirteen year old rapper, dancer and singer and Ned Seagrim, an impressive young drummer both performed to great acclaim. Also in the line up was Noel McKoy, the 'Godfather of British Soul', who came originally from Battersea. Every musical and dance act performed without fee and all are skilled professionals or enthusiastic locals. The afternoon ended with a jazz band playing on into the evening to entertain visitors lingering in the bars and restaurants.

Crowd in Square

 All the local bars and pubs opened their doors and gave a warm welcome to visitors. Sambrooks Brewery offered their Wandle and Junction Ales and Galapagos Trading poured cocktails and prosecco, alongside their unusual foods. The Butcher and Grill barbecued delicious hamburgers and years 6 and 7 pupils at Thomas's Battersea ran the Big Cafe, offering summery teas, hot drinks and a lot of chips, along with somewhere comfortable to sit down!

Summer in the Square would not succeed without an army of volunteers both from The Friends of Battersea Square and from the staff of Thomas's School. The aim is to bring the community together and any money raised goes to two local charities, The Battersea Summer Scheme and The Katherine Low Settlement. The event received generous grants from Thomas's School, the Wandsworth Cultural Wealth Fund and also from Thomas's Schools Foundation. But it would not be possible without the generosity and energy of members of the group and their businesses and entry to the event is absolutely free.

Ray Duhaney from Bennetts Brasserie, new this spring to the Square, summed up the general feeling of all visitors by enthusing about "the community spirit, the attractiveness of Battersea Square and the vibrancy of such local events".

Photographs on this page by Michala Maughan
You'll find lots more photographs from Michala and from Liz Shaw in our latest photogallery

You can also see pictures from the event on Youtube