I was in the London Transport Museum shop the other day, admiring the Tube map of Team GB’s Olympic medallists – yours for a mere fifty quid. But then it was pointed out to me – something was missing…
Yup, the DLR’s retreated north of the river for the first time in 13 years. Still, it’s not like they held any Olympic events around here, is it? Oops.
Remember the Olympics and Paralympics on Woolwich Common?
The big shooting halls are starting to come down this week. Hey, some idiot’s already pulled up the cycle path across there, long before Circular Way reopens. But the common’s felt different for the past few weeks anyway – bleaker, sadder.
The north side of Woolwich Common is a terrific piece of wild land, a real slice of the country in the city. But the rest of it’s always felt sad and neglected to me. It deserves to be treated better than being part of a miserable rat-run between Charlton and Plumstead.
Yet the Olympics showed that so much more could be done with the common. There’s a whole chunk of land the Army keeps to itself, which the Games used too (it made a terrific archery venue during the Paralympics, too) – is it time they gave it up, and allowed it to be used for sport?
The transformation of Ha Ha Road from sad rat-run to a parade of food stalls was most striking for me. Last year, at a community meeting about the On Blackheath festival, a woman piped up: “Why don’t you put it on Woolwich Common instead?” I wrote this off as some NIMBY nonsense, but seeing how well Woolwich Common worked as an small-capacity Olympic venue… why couldn’t it hold some kind of community festival?
As before, all the attention will be on Greenwich Park, but there’ll also have to be a bit of work – and a lot of tree-planting – to go before the common’s ship-shape again. But once the grass is growing again, and it’s starting to look green once more, is it time to think of a new future for Woolwich Common?
The final day of the Games, and Greenwich Council made its own grab for glory by unveiling a statue of Nike, the ancient Greek goddess of victory, in Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal. Not a giant swoosh from the sportswear giant, but a gift from the city of Olympia, where the ancient Games began, to the people of London in recognition of our successful hosting of the modern Games.
It’s a strange choice of location – overlooking Dial Square, birthplace of Arsenal FC, but nowhere near any Olympic and Paralympic venues. As the crow flies, it’s midway between ExCeL and the Royal Artillery Barracks, about a mile and a bit away from each one.
It’s an odd choice to tuck the statue away on the Royal Arsenal site – a favour for the council’s friends at Berkeley Homes, perhaps?
In fact, the statue’s not even meant to be there in the first place. It was designed to sit on the meridian line, but somehow has ended up in Woolwich.
Indeed, when requesting the gift from the mayor of Olympia, Greenwich Council chief executive Mary Ney said: “We have a number of possible locations within our tourism sites which would ensure the statue was enjoyed by millions of visitors every year.”
It’s fair to say the Royal Arsenal isn’t visited by millions of visitors every year. The Berkeley Homes development is supposed to be a temporary home, but so far no permanent home has been identified, despite the meridian line passing through both Greenwich Park and the North Greenwich/ O2 Arena.
Indeed, if the council had decided to place the statue in Woolwich, why not stick it in General Gordon Square, which has been transformed by the Games’ good vibe and is looking like a success story it has every right to shout about?
But on Planet “Royal” Greenwich, only what gets picked up by a lazy media matters, the reality isn’t really of any consequence.
So a city in a hard-pressed country, whose people have been told they must work a six-day week because of their politicians’ failings, donates an expensive statue to the people of London, on the understanding it’ll be seen by “millions of visitors”. Instead, it gets hidden away on a housing development being built by a private firm which is close to the council, instead of being shown off to “millions of visitors” in somewhere that actually gets visited.
Still, shall we retire for some bubbly?
Unfortunately, nobody told the council’s own tribune, Greenwich Time…
I think I’ve overdosed on the Paralympics. I went to the opening ceremony, I saw Oscar Pistorius beaten, and Ellie Simmonds win her second gold. I was there when Team GB got its first gold in the velodrome, and been wowed by judo, sitting volleyball and powerlifting. I’ve seen wheelchair basketball in the North Greenwich Arena, and yesterday I got sunburnt at the Royal Artillery Barracks taking in the archery. More about that later in the week, hopefully.
And on Saturday, I went to see the dressage in Greenwich Park. Tuesday’s the final day of competition, and if you haven’t seen the park as a London 2012 venue yet, then this advice from Kate might be useful. Bear in mind I’ve not been able to verify it, but I’ve heard about tickets being available on the gate from elsewhere too…
Was told at the Paralympic equestrian dressage at Greenwich Park today that tickets are most probably available from 1 hour before the sessions, from the box offices. They only know how many on the day itself.
They are not being pre-sold online as Greenwich Council has apparently put a block on the no of tickets sold, as believe with schools going back, that local transport would not be able to cope. That was the reason given to me by an official at ticketing at the venue today.
Hope this is useful info for anyone wanting to go.
It’s fair to say this summer has had a lasting effect on many of us, although hopefully its impact on Greenwich Park will be minimal. But there’s one thing that intrigues me.
If you’ve been, and walked down from Blackheath, you may have seen this water feature that’s gone in below the Observatory. I imagine it was a water jump on the cross-country, and it’s stayed in place while most of the others have been removed.
The funny thing is – it looks like it’s been there for years. There’s been a few “hold on, that wasn’t there before” reactions to it. So, I wonder – should it stay there? Would having a small, shallow, water feature be a benefit to the park?
Then again, it’s also in the park’s best spot for sledging when it snows, so probably not. That said, it’s interesting that one small change to the park can make you think of it in a different way. I know that one of the equestrian jumps is staying (which one is it?), but are there any changes to Greenwich from the summer of 2012 – aside from an upsurge in local pride – that we really should be keeping?
The Dutch dream has died – the Peninsula Festival is closing after a troubled few days of existence. Just two more events are planned for the weekend, with the site being closed until then.
I also understand that founder Frank Dekker has resigned as a director. He hasn’t responded to an email asking for an update about the festival.
Updated statement. We have had a great time at Eastern Electrics and were glad they were able to make such good use of the terrain. We thank their team for a fantastic day!
Unfortunately for our other planned events, a number of circumstances have not allowed us to deliver the experience that we have promised to many.
In light of these developments, the terrain [sic] will only be opened for two more days: the 11th and 12th of August.
On Saturday the 11th, the Last Minute Artists Collective and unwanted. have offered to transform Area 12 into a circus wonderland with activities for all: The Forgotten Festival. The day will be free of charge and will feature a host of activities for the whole family.
On Sunday the 12th, I Love Jamaica day will be held on Area 12 as part of the celebrations for Jamaica’s 50th year of independence. The event will feature the best of Jamaican food, music and culture. Tickets on the door.
But one thing might not be there – that big screen. Greenwich Council has asked the PF’s contractors to put one up in Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham, instead. But what about the money it gave the festival, as whispers of administration fly around? Chief executive Mary Ney isn’t saying in a letter given to councillors (the ones who are meant to scrutinise the council’s decisions), simply saying the council hadn’t released all of the £50k funding.
(Wednesday update: According to Greenwich.co.uk, the council handed out £40k. However, it’s understood the Peninsula Festival is giving out different figures. Why isn’t Mary Ney being more upfront with councillors?)
There’ll be plenty of bones to pick over in the days ahead. If you’ve had dealings with the Peninsula Festival, feel free to get in touch.
If you’re stuck for something to do today (or the rest of this week), Jamaica’s Olympic hospitality house has opened in the Proud2 club inside the Dome. It’s worth a visit for music, Red Stripe, cocktails and all the jerk chicken you can eat. You can walk straight in during the day, and it might also be the second best place in London to watch Usain Bolt later tonight…
Don’t forget there’s also the East Greenwich Pleasaunce fete continuing today, too.
The Dutch campsite on Greenwich Peninsula might not have materialised – with the tents exiled to the outer reaches of Walthamstow – but that hasn’t put off one thrifty set of campers from staying in Greenwich.
Every day for the past week, I’ve cycled past this campervan parked up on the edge of Greenwich Millennium Village, next to the site Oranjecamping abandoned. Every day, it’s in a different spot to dodge the wardens. There’s a French family inside, presumably fans of the gymnastics going on up the road. I haven’t spoken to them yet, but if I see them again I’ll stop and say hello. I hope the wardens leave them alone – dedication like this deserves a reward.
If anyone else knows of any visitors making unconventional arrangements to stay in this area for the Games, I’d love to hear about them…
Close by is the Peninsula Festival site, locked and shut but with some work going on in another part of the land. The Greenwich Council banners are a reminder of the £50,000 given to the venture. It’s due to reopen to the public on Monday, but will it even be ready for the Eastern Electrics festival – with thousands due – on Saturday? That said, it’s looking for presenters for a one-day event next Thursday (how thoughtful to mark my birthday this way!) so if you fancy your chances, go for it!