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news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Posts Tagged ‘greenwich

Tall Ships sponsor Barratt Homes hides decaying Enderby House

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Enderby House, 15 June 2014
A development by the east Greenwich riverfront at Enderby House, the Grade II-listed building that housed the firm behind the world’s first transatlantic cables, which were made at Enderby Wharf.

The house, now on the site of the long-delayed cruise liner terminal, has been decaying for years. Now developer Barratt Homes has taken action.

Enderby House, 30 August 2014

It’s hidden it behind a fence.

Enderby House, 30 August 2014

With Greenwich due for a tourist influx this weekend thanks for the council-backed Tall Ships Festival – which Barratt is a headline sponsor of – it should be a great chance to show off east Greenwich’s amazing industrial heritage. The communications infrastructure – undersea cables that send data around the world – enabling you to read this was developed here. But instead of celebrating one of the birthplaces of modern communications, Barratt has neglected it. And now it’s hiding it.

The addition of Greenwich Council’s Tall Ships logo reminds of the last great bit of civic whitewashing around these parts – the covering over of the Woolwich riot wall three years ago.

Enderby House, 30 August 2014

Never mind its history, Enderby Wharf is a “brand new riverside destination”.

enderby04

Mind you, Barratt Homes can’t spell either, so perhaps expecting it to respect Greenwich’s history is a bit optimistic. If you’re Greenwich Council – watch the developers you jump into bed with

Written by Darryl

1 September, 2014 at 6:30 am

Angerstein adventure: Take a very rare Greenwich rail trip

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Deceptively rural-looking: The Angerstein Wharf freight line line

Deceptively rural-looking: The Angerstein Wharf freight line at Farmdale Road, Greenwich

Its existence goes almost unnoticed by most locals, but you’ve a rare – if expensive – chance to travel along the historic Angerstein Wharf branch line to the Thames this November.

The single-track line, which branches off the North Kent route just west of Charlton station, was built by local landowner John Angerstein and opened in 1852.

It’s served as a freight line for all its existence, linking to riverfront industries in both Greenwich and Charlton, which the line acts as a boundary between. As well as running to Angerstein Wharf, it also ran deep into the old East Greenwich gas works. I can certainly remember the screech the slow-moving goods trains made during the early ’80s.

The line had a revival in the 1990s, and is still used to carry aggregates, in particular from Bardon Hill Quarry in Leicestershire.

Proposals for passenger services – from a planned ferry in Victorian times to a service to the Millennium Dome in the 1990s – have all come to nothing, and only a handful of special passenger trains have made the trip up the line.

Now details of one of them have emerged. So if you’ve always wondered what it’d be like to ride along the line, now’s your chance – although it’ll be part of a punishingly-long day on the rails.

It’s part of a railtour called Doctor Hoo, which departs from Waterloo at 8.15am on Saturday 8 November. It’ll take the old Eurostar tracks to head towards Lewisham and Slade Green before turning back to Charlton and up the Angerstein line. It’ll then turn back to head towards Gravesend and a line through the Isle of Grain, before exploring a branch line to Dungeness and returning to Waterloo at 7.05pm.

Tickets start from £72.50 – so if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, block a day out and shell out…

Written by Darryl

31 August, 2014 at 6:30 am

Greenwich & Woolwich foot tunnel cyclists to get partial green light

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Greenwich Foot Tunnel, 13 December 2012

Greenwich Council is to trial “shared use” of the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels, which will mean cyclists being officially allowed to use them at quieter times, it has emerged.

The council’s put in a bid for £100,000 of City Hall money to develop technology to record pedestrian and cyclist movements in the tunnel, to warn cyclists when the narrow passages make it unsafe for riding.

The Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels have been asked to act as partners on the bid, along with Tower Hamlets and Newham councils.

Fogwoft says: “The proposal would allow shared use between pedestrians and cyclists at times when the tunnel is fairly empty. It would require cyclists to walk when necessary. It would allow them to cycle when safe.”

Greenwich Foot Tunnel, August 2014

Any proposal to allow cycling in the tunnels will be a hugely contentious issue – while there is a blanket ban on riding bicycles, it is widely flouted, especially in the Greenwich tunnel, which is a major link for cyclists between south-east London and Canary Wharf. Since lift attendants were withdrawn some years ago, there has been little enforcement of the ban.

If Greenwich’s bid to City Hall is unsuccessful, the council says it will fund the scheme itself.

The council says: “The proposal will be to use state of the art technology to trial shared use in the tunnel. It will monitor cycle and pedestrian flows (and cycle speeds) at all times, and use this to regulate the cycling ban; at times of low pedestrian flow, considerate cycle use will be permitted, and conversely during high pedestrian flow periods cyclists will be required to dismount and push through the space. In other words, the permission levels would respond in a timely manner to conditions in the tunnels at all times.

“This will be enforced through clear, digital signage triggered by the flow levels during each period, which will be tracked throughout the tunnel. The visual signage could be backed up by audible messages, and reinforced through additional monitoring via CCTV and other means.

“Technology will also be used to monitor the speed of any person cycling through the tunnel, flashing up clear signage to anyone travelling quicker than a recommended limit (to be defined) in a similar way to speed warning signs used on highways.”

The bid document says a trial would last for 12 months and be “rigorously monitored”.

“In using digital technology to track, monitor and regulate permissions at various times of the day, users will feel that a sensible use of the space is allowed at all times. If successful, the trial has potential to be extended to other similar spaces throughout London,” it adds.

A further £10,000-£25,000 would fund “behavioural change” measures – enforcement, in other words.

The system would be trialled in Woolwich (left) before coming to Greenwich (right)

500+ people per day use the Woolwich tunnel, over 3,000 use the Greenwich tunnel

It’s believed that a system would be trialled in the quieter Woolwich tunnel before being moved to Greenwich by 2016/17.

Fogwoft has invited users to discuss the issue at its annual general meeting on 2 October. (See more on Fogwoft’s website.) The council will also have to consult the public directly about the scheme, which will involve a change to a by-law.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The announcement comes as the long-delayed refurbishment works on both tunnels enter their final stages, after long delays caused by poor management of the project, both by the council and contractor Hyder Consulting.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

While deep cleaning hasn’t taken place, the lifts at Woolwich are now working, though anecdotal evidence suggests the Greenwich lifts are still bedevilled by breakdowns. Indicators have been placed in the Greenwich tunnel to warn of lift problems, although they are difficult to read in sunlight.

In December 2012, a poll on this website showed 51% of voters would back cycling in the tunnel at all times, with just 16% favouring the current ban and 18% backing the kind of compromise Greenwich is going for. This may indicate something about the readership of this website, though.

But with Greenwich Council backing the motor vehicle-only Silvertown Tunnel, and with even more intensive development planned for the Isle of Dogs, the foot tunnel issue shows it’s clear there is still a massive, unmet demand for safe pedestrian and cyclist crossings from south-east to east London.

Monday update: Here’s an interesting project – the echoey sounds of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel captured in Waves of Woolwich.

Greenwich pocket park threatened by council sale plan

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Blackwall Lane green, 7 August 2014
“Pocket park” is an abused term, but the idea is that it’s a small open space looked after by the local community. It’s something that’s been championed by City Hall under Boris Johnson’s administration, and it’s been apparently been used to fund 100 projects across the capital.

As ever, it doesn’t appear that Greenwich Council has got involved in this scheme. But a good example would be the little patch of green at the Blackwall Lane/ Tunnel Avenue junction in east Greenwich.

Blackwall Lane,  August 2014

I’m guessing it probably dates back to the construction of the Blackwall Tunnel approach in the late 1960s. It’s almost a village green for this overlooked corner of SE10, helping soak up the high pollution levels and offsetting the effect of the ugly flats going up next door.

Overshadowed in recent years by a large ad hoarding, the green’s been looked after by council staff – not from the parks department, I gather, but from the Cleansweep streets operation. There’s potential here – but instead, the council wants to get rid of this little space…

blackwall99

Buried in back of this week’s edition of council propaganda sheet Greenwich Time is this public notice, stating the authority’s intention to sell the space. Presumably it thinks it’ll be attractive to property developers – even though the green itself is about the only appealling thing in this area.

In recent years, Greenwich has used spare plots of land for council housing – including wiping out a small green space on the borough boundary at Hambledown Road in Sidcup. But at least that land went to some public good – here, the council, which recently announced it has reserves of £1.2 billion, just wants to flog it and cash in.

And despite protestations that this is a “new era” of openness for the council, the first anyone knew of the plan was by looking at the back of Greenwich Time.

There are ways to fight this – getting it declared a village green, or an asset of community value – although these don’t offer much protection when it’s the council itself is the wrecking party. I wonder what the three new Peninsula ward councillors think of what’s being done in their name?

Written by Darryl

8 August, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Beer Box: Greenwich’s Peninsula Square finally springs into life

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Meantime Brewery Beer Box, 7 August 2014
Seven years after the O2 opened, finally, finally, the miserable open space outside, Peninsula Square, has started to look like the “new leisure destination for Londoners and tourists alike” promised back then.

Meantime Brewery's Beer Box, 7 August 2014

New York band We Are Scientists opened up Meantime Brewery’s Beer Box with a blistering free live show last night. It looks like the Beer Box, on empty land above the Jubilee Line tunnels, is only around for a little while – it was only erected over the last 10 days – but hopefully the shot of life it’s brought to this long-wasted space will last for a while longer.

Meantime Brewery Beer Box, 7 August 2014

Fingers crossed, it’ll stay and there’ll be more live events here. Keep the bar, sort out the big screen showing inane promos, and perhaps Peninsula Square will be something Greenwich can be proud of, instead of an embarrassment that’s walked through as quickly as possible.

Government backs Greenwich Ikea: So what happens next?

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Peartree Way, 3 November 2013

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has confirmed he won’t intervene in Greenwich Council’s decision to allow a huge new Ikea superstore in east Greenwich.

Greenwich Council gave outline permission for the store, on the site of the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store in Peartree Way, in March. Planning officers ignored concerns about increased traffic and air pollution, a decision later backed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

The process was halted by Pickles in May, leading campaigners to hope the decision could go to a public inquiry.

Now Pickles’ decision means it’s back in the hands of Greenwich Council, which now needs to hammer out what concessions Ikea needs to make to make any store work, before a detailed planning application goes in.

Of course, the biggest worry is traffic and pollution. The development’s bound to be a draw for flat-pack furniture fans from across London and Kent, yet it’s to be placed in an area which can’t cope with any more traffic. The only real proposal from Ikea to solve this was to route traffic away from the notorious Woolwich Road roundabout, sending traffic in the direction of the Millennium Village.

Any ideas? If you do, contact your local councillors – it’s time for them to earn their corn and try to ameliorate the damage their colleagues have caused.

Written by Darryl

7 July, 2014 at 11:34 am

Save Enderby House campaign launched by Greenwich locals

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Enderby House, 15 June 2014
Enderby House, 15 June 2014
One of the saddest sights on Greenwich’s Thames Path is Enderby House, left vandalised and wrecked, neglected by developers who don’t seem to have a clue what to do with it.

This is the site of the long-delayed cruise liner terminal, although much of the action on the site has been to build homes, presumably as quickly as possibly before the property bubble bursts.

Of course, this is also where the world’s first telegraph cables were made, with work still taking part in a small corner of the site. Without Enderby House, there may well have been no phones, and no internet. It’s a hugely-overlooked piece of local history.

The house has been in a mess for over three years – now a group of locals are taking action. Here’s Alan Burkitt-Gray…

“Just wanted to let you know that a bunch of locals have started to campaign for a strategy to protect and preserve Enderby House, the original offices of the company that created the communications revolution — between 1850 and the 1970s the factory there made most of the world’s undersea telegraph and telephone cables.

“The house is now surrounded by a building site, where Barratt is putting up houses and flats. Alcatel-Lucent, the direct successor to the other Telcon company that’s been there continuously since 1850, has shrunk to a corner of the site, though still does submarine-cable related work.

“There is no clear plan for Enderby House, a listed building, and the future of the cable-loading gear that sits on the riverside is also unclear. For more than a century cable made here in Greenwich was loaded directly onto the cable-laying ships on that jetty.”

The group has a website, www.enderby.org.uk, and want as many people as possible to attend a consultation meeting to be held at the Forum on Trafalgar Road on Wednesday 25 June at 6pm (the developers’ PR people seem to try for the most inconvenient times).

It’s also produced a leaflet explaining more about the history of Enderby House and why it should be preserved and celebrated.

Written by Darryl

16 June, 2014 at 7:54 am

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