Woolwich, the town that dare not speak its name
Developers, estate agents, chancers, and liars have a long history of trying to pass off Deptford as “Greenwich”. There’s a cycle shop in Creek Road which defies its SE8 postcode to bill itself as being in its more glamorous neighbour, while something called “Greenwich Creekside” is rising up on the Deptford side of the creek, next to the Laban centre. Greenwich’s boundaries are unusually well-defined – a big river, a small river, a big railway line, a little railway line and a park wall form most of it. The only ambiguity is at the top of Blackheath Hill, where a bit of SE10 slips into the borough of Lewisham, faces out onto Blackheath, and messes with everyone’s heads.
Trying to pass off Woolwich as Greenwich, though, isn’t as common. Trying to pass it off as “the heart of Greenwich” is downright deception. So it’s a big, fat raspberry to New Life Living for trying to pretend this pile of bricks on Sandy Hill Road, SE18, is three miles to the west of where it really is. Is this being petty? Not one bit. More than Deptford, Woolwich badly, desperately needs a boost.
It needs to have good things associated with it, so people don’t hear “Woolwich” and think “bloody hell, not there”. Developers like New Life Living just make things worse by having the brass neck to claim that somewhere just off Woolwich town centre is “the heart of Greenwich”.
I doubt many who pass the hoarding will be fooled, mind – especially as the little sign in front of it reads “WELCOME TO WOOLWICH TOWN CENTRE”.
New Life Living aren’t the first to deny the existence of Woolwich, though, In the late 1990s, a block of old Army flats on Baker Road, Woolwich Common were revamped under the dubious title of Greenwich Heights. In those days, with no Jubilee Line or DLR, it was a little out on a limb, with just one bus (terminating at the old military hospital) serving the site, linking it to Woolwich Arsenal station. I remember seeing Greenwich Heights promoted in an estate agent with a map claiming its nearest rail stations were Charlton and Westcombe Park. One word was missing from the map – “Woolwich”.