Posts Tagged ‘thamesmead’
“Thamesmead – with its own identity!
“But still a lively part of London, growing from the river, the changing Thames.”
Courtesy of the London Metropolitan Archive, here’s a corking film from 1970 about the development of Thamesmead, including footage of the old Plumstead Marshes as well as the Royal Arsenal lands now buried under west Thamesmead, as well as a fruity soundtrack and a super-posh pronunciation of “Erith”.
Utterly fascinating, not least for how much the new town was built to depend on cars, and also how the waterways were incorporated into the development. (“That water adds to the visual interest of a place has been evident for years in many parts of London” – so much for the old Surrey Canal.) Shame the international yacht terminal never happened, mind.
This Greater London Council film was shown at local schools in the early 1970s, and a second film, Living At Thamesmead, is also online. I’m told (by Charlton Athletic matchday announcer Dave Lockwood, no less) that another one exists about the building of the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach. Time to petition the archive to get that on YouTube too…
Thamesmead fans might also enjoy episode 45 of the fine South London Hardcore podcast, which deals with SE28’s appearances on film and TV.
If you get the chance, take a look at the best thing written about the cable car yet, by Owen Hatherley for the Guardian website. In it, he says Boris Johnson has run London like a “twee nostalgia theme park” – a description that could arguably apply to the “royal” borough of Greenwich, in all its forelock-tugging glory.
The Council is requested to -
Appoint His Honour Judge Hilliard QC as the Honorary Recorder for the Royal Borough of Greenwich for the duration of tenure as the Resident Judge at Woolwich Crown Court pursuant to Section 54 of the Courts Act, 1971.
A borough or city has the power to appoint the senior judge at the court which serves it to the position of “honorary recorder”, with the aim of preserving ancient links between cities and the judiciary which existed before the old assizes system was abolished in 1972.
They’re rare in London, where the boroughs don’t have much heritage as institutions – the City has one, who still has a formal role within the square mile’s governance, who sits at the Old Bailey. The others are in Croydon, Kensington & Chelsea, Redbridge, Southwark and Westminster.
The appointment means Judge Nicholas Hillard QC can wear red robes in court and be addressed as “my lord”, rather than “your honour”. But what’s in it for us? According to the council…
The Honorary Recorder is an honorific position and provides a bridge between the judiciary and local government and thus the wider community. One of the roles of the Honorary Recorder would be to attend the inauguration of the Mayor and to be invited to other meetings and civic functions as appropriate, this could include civic receptions, freedom of the borough ceremonies and civic week.
As we all know, it’s local government and the “wider community” which really needs linking up – after all, we don’t get invited to any civic receptions. This has the potential to be a massive waste of time, doesn’t it?
Well, yes, it does. But hopefully Judge Hillard can prove this sceptical post wrong. His colleague, Judge Roger Chapple, has been striking out to do good things in Southwark, where’s he’s borough recorder.
According to the excellent London SE1 site, the Inner London Crown Court judge has been speaking of the need to reconnect the courts with the community.
“Daily I and my fellow judges see the ghastly, corrosive effect of local crime – much of it knife crime, much of it gang related.
“I can’t help thinking that my court could do something more to help in the fight against crime.
“Soon after arriving at Inner London Crown Court, I tried to start an initiative by writing to the local schools and inviting them to send groups for visits: to watch a case in action, meet a judge, to sit in the dock.
“Very, very few replies were received – sadly none of them positive.”
“I’m going to try again; with the additional clout that you have given me as the honorary recorder of Southwark I might achieve more than I did last time around.”
With Woolwich Crown Court these days located in the Belmarsh Prison complex in west Thamesmead, and better known for staging high-profile terrorism cases, the court has the additional disadvantage of being physically isolated from its community.
So hopefully Judge Hillard will use his position to break down a few walls between us and them. Otherwise, he’ll just be another trinket to be wheeled out whenever the council wants to wine and dine a selected few. With council budgets still being cut, spending time and money on another heritage adventure risks leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
If you’re quick, you can put a public question into next Wednesday’s council meeting (which will approve the appointment) to be answered by cabinet members or the leader. (Here’s what happened last time.) Drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon today.
It hasn’t been the best of weekends to enjoy it, but the Thames Path is one of the best things about this part of London. If you take the borough as a whole, Greenwich borough has the longest riverfront in London, and as well as a walking route, it’s a designated cycle route too.
A scrutiny panel of councillors has been looking into ways of improving it as a cycle route, and officers have come up with a report – you can read it here (4MB PDF). It features some good ideas, such as sorting out the irritating cobbles at Greenwich Millennium Village, changing signs so they read “North Greenwich” rather than “Blackwall Point”, and (yes!) installing cycle stands outside the Pelton Arms pub.
Councillors are meeting on Tuesday night to discuss it – and the public’s welcome to come along and ask questions if they want. A lot of attention will be on plugging the gap between the Thames Barrier in Charlton and King Henry’s Wharf in Woolwich, something which would dramatically change the way the path is seen – as well as helping people access the fantastic Second Floor Arts facility at Warspite Road.
That said, hopefully there’ll be room for my own gripe to be addressed – sticking some signs up to get pedestrians out of the cycle path by the cable car (and cyclists out of the pedestrian bits), where markings were worn away by the cable car contractors and not reinstated, while the pedestrian bit was never marked.
I’ve seen some sights commuting along the path over recent months, and sooner or later someone is going to come a cropper – or prompt someone else to come to grief – some day for paying more attention to their iPad than their surroundings.
My other gripe is that it doesn’t do much about improving access to the path – but this seems like an encouraging start.
Boris Johnson launched his transport manifesto on Monday, and there’s a line in it which went largely unnoticed which could have profound effects in Woolwich.
“I will launch a new car ferry service from Thamesmead to Gallions Reach, to replace the ageing Woolwich ferry.”
That’s the first confirmation that the mayor’s planned ferry – overshadowed by the Silvertown tunnel keffufle – would replace the Woolwich Ferry, whose three vessels were launched nearly 50 years ago. I’ve gone on about the joys of the ferry before, but it’s very hard to imagine Woolwich without a crossing which has existed in various forms for hundreds of years.
I’m also not sure how motorists – particularly the lorry drivers which mainly use the ferry – will take to seeing the link between the North Circular and South Circular broken.
The ferry will be at the site of the scrapped Thames Gateway Bridge, which begs the question – why not just build the bridge?
Boris’s manifesto shows where he’s angling for votes:
“I killed off my predecessor’s proposal for a Thames Gateway Bridge because of the damaging impact it would have had on Bexley, and I will not resuscitate it. Instead, I will continue to call on the Government for residents within Greater London who live close to the Dartford Crossing – notably those living in Bexley and Havering – to be given the same discount on the Dartford toll as residents of Dartford and Thurrock.”
The obvious bribe to zone 6 motorists aside, why would a ferry not have the damaging impact on Bexley borough that a bridge would?
As for the Silvertown crossing:
“I will also seek powers to construct a new Blackwall relief crossing, a road tunnel that will cross from Greenwich Peninsula to Silvertown, near the Royal Docks, and which will be completed within ten years. The government has committed to explore the case for using the Planning Act to streamline planning for proposed additional river crossings in East London.”
In other words, no more pesky inquiries like the one that killed off the Thames Gateway Bridge.
There’s more, including a very vague plan to extend the Docklands Light Railway to Bromley, in the full manifesto.
Speaking of mayoral matters, the Guardian’s Manifesto for a Model Mayor is well worth a read, and features a couple of contributions from me – see if you can spot them.
Catching up on local news, this caught my eye on the News Shopper website…
It’s a horrifying tale for sure, with a man being told he should “burn in hell” because “men should only lay with women”. Indeed, you wouldn’t find such views pushed through people’s letterboxes under the guise of a “local newspaper” which had rewarded their author with a free pen, would you?
Wonder what happened to that free pen? Wonder what it’s being used for now?
The Snooze Shopper hasn’t learned its lessons from that attempt to start a row, though – last week it launched a campaign against Staffordshire Bull Terriers, demanding its owners make the dogs wear a muzzle in public.
“Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you some harrowing stories involving victims as young as nine and as old as 90. We’ll also be calling on you to Shop a Dog.”
Tasteful. Just like the logo with the blood-splattered tag.
I won’t link to it, because the website hits are all they judge success by, and I’m sure the champagne corks are already popping in Petts Wood over a 205-comment thread of bile at the foot of the story. But I’ll happily link to Battersea Dogs’ Home’s response:
“By encouraging Staffordshire Bull Terriers to be seen as dangerous, your campaign is fuelling the abuse and abandonment of a much-maligned breed which does not deserve its negative reputation.”
Still, when there’s a vigilante attack on a Staffie owner next year, I’m sure the News Shopper will be first to bring us the news.
Map-lovers of SE London unite, because Greenwich Council has a new one to show you – this is how the council wants to organise the borough in the next 15 years…
Yup, Charlton’s there (a bit a of a surprise, actually), Woolwich, Plumstead, even dear old Abbey Wood. Not quite sure what’s happening with Greenwich, but where’s Blackheath gone? And what’s that at the bottom? Strangely, the whole document seems to bundle all of the south of the borough – Kidbrooke, Eltham, New Eltham, Lee, Shooters Hill and Mottingham, into one great homogenous “Eltham and the south of the borough” lump. Considering the right-leaning voting habits of many of those places, perhaps it’s a delayed riposte to Spitting Image’s brilliantly offensive mid-1980s Tory Atlas of the World…
After all, they’re all the same one you go south of the Shooters Hill Road, aren’t they? All boring semis and voting Tory?
Well, probably not – and I have to confess to not often venturing down that way myself. But it does seem to me to be an odd way to treat a great chunk of your borough’s residents, to write their areas off as a great big homogenous lump.
So what’s this strategy all about, then? Well, it’s essentially the bible for the borough’s future planning policy. The council would probably say that because most of the south of the borough is already developed, it doesn’t need such fine attention – while much of the riverfront presents new opportunities. So we have some changes to planning guidelines – the west side of the Greenwich Peninsula and the Charlton riverside will now be opened up to housing development, for example.
Another eye-catching paragraph gives the go-ahead for tall buildings on the riverfront and around Abbey Wood station (right on the edge of Bexley borough) – something which would change the face of south-east London forever. There’s a breakdown of what’s planned for each area here.
It’s been open to consultation for nearly 12 weeks – what do you mean, you hadn’t heard of it before? There were also some exhibitions, laid on when you were probably at work. I went to one a couple of weeks ago, buried within Charlton House with no signs outside enticing people to come in or helping anyone find it. Inside, two boards gave very little information about what the Draft Core Strategy was about, not even enough to spur questions to the two friendly chaps from the council, who then apologised to a couple of visitors because they were blocking panels detailing Charlton House’s history.
But time’s running out – the consultation closes at 5pm on
Sunday Saturday. It’s online, though – so you can read the whole thing – and comment on it here.
After all, you’ve not got anything else on this weekend, have you?
While well-heeled Greenwich town centre dwellers will be cursing the Greenwich Market ruling, riverside residents at the other end of the borough have also had bad news today – the challenge against Newham Council’s decision to back the expansion of London City Airport has failed.
The case had been brought by Thamesmead-based campaign group Fight The Flights, whose chairwoman Anne-Marie Griffin now has 14 days to decide whether or not she wants to mount a further appeal. FTF claimed Newham had not taken into account new government guidelines on aviation, and had not consulted neighbouring boroughs – in this case Waltham Forest and Redbridge – properly on the issue.
The airport hailed the ruling as “great news for London City Airport and Newham” – presumably everyone else can get stuffed, then.
If you live by the river and think this won’t affect you – think again. The number of flights using LCY could rise from 80,000 per year to 120,000. You can already hear the roars from take-offs and landings from Blackheath.
On this side of the Thames, Greenwich Council has said it wants much more residential development on the riverside in future (a topic I’ll return to on this blog soon) – so anyone by the Thames in Charlton or Woolwich will have to endure a pretty noisy life thanks to their neighbour across the water.
Greenwich itself has a pretty murky history with LCY – failing to attend meetings with airport management and then endorsing expansion, despite the roar of jets over West Thamesmead.
London Assembly Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon says Greenwich Council has a few awkward questions to answer. “Many people in east and south east London are already facing serious problems with noise and disturbance from air flights. Today’s decision provides the green light to increased misery for many more Londoners. I remain convinced that greater scrutiny should have been given to the initial planning decision by Newham Council.
“Questions also remain as to why Greenwich Council never objected to the planning decision despite the serious impact that the airport is already having on so many of its residents. Most significantly this decision sends out the message that the economic benefits of aviation are still being exaggerated while its environmental harm is largely overlooked.”
You might have heard that Greenwich is in line to get its own cycle superhighway by 2015. A blue, painted streak is due to wind its way down the A200 from London Bridge, through Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Deptford, then via Greenwich and Charlton before ending in Woolwich. So far, there’s no plans to extend it, or join it up with the one that’s planned to run to Lewisham.
But Greenwich borough has its own cycle superhighway which has already had a bit of cash thrown at it, but with a bit of forethought could be just as important – maybe more so – than the one planned by Transport for London. It’s the Thames Path, otherwise known here as National Cycle Route 1. Apart from one short stretch (more of which later), it more or less hugs the river all the way from Erith town centre to the Dome. Or, to put it another way, from beyond Thamesmead to North Greenwich station. The route’s surprisingly direct too – it’s quicker pedalling from west Thamesmead to Woolwich than it is driving.
But it’s been put in place as a leisure route, when with a bit of forethought, it could make a proper link for commuting – getting people from Thamesmead, Woolwich and Charlton to North Greenwich station and the developments at the tip of the peninsula. In the future, Woolwich’s Crossrail station will also be on this route. If the willpower is there, Greenwich Council could have something special on their hands. Because at the moment, the way up to the river is worthy of Crap Cycling In Waltham Forest.
With bus route 472 overloaded, and the Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme long ditched, promoting this cycle path as a simple and safe way to get to North Greenwich Tube station could be hugely valuable. Right around from the Greenwich borough boundary (and from some distance into Bexley, in fact), it’s almost all decent-sized footpaths or separate cycle lanes.
Here’s the path at the Bexley/Greenwich borough boundary – not bad, is it? But in much of Thamesmead, access to the waterfront isn’t actually easy – it’s as if the new town was built with its back to the river from which it took its name. As you head west, a mile-long stretch of gravel path doesn’t make for simple riding through Tripcock Point, the stretch once earmarked for the Thames Gateway Bridge. This land feels untouched from when it was Plumstead Marshes (rabbits are a common sight) and gets muddy very easily.
Improving access from north and east Thamesmead will be important when Crossrail comes along – because it’ll be simpler to cycle down to the planned station at Woolwich than to get to the terminus at Abbey Wood. But from West Thamesmead – remote from the 472 trunk route to North Greenwich, things pick up. It’s easy to ride along and easy to join from here, and through Woolwich. Well, almost – the Royal Arsenal development is bedevilled with these ornate but cycle-unfriendly speed humps…
Things come to a shuddering halt at the King Henry’s Wharf development, with the riverside path blocked by old industrial estates at Trinity Wharf. Cyclists are told to join the Woolwich Road as it enters Charlton, just at one of the points when drivers really enjoy putting their foot down. In the long term, Greenwich Council wants to run the path right the way through to the Thames Barrier, but it has hit a number of difficulties.
But there is an easier way along, through the Westminster Industrial Estate. Unfortunately, the gap between Westfield Street, Woolwich and Eastmoor Street, Charlton is blocked by two posts, placed by the Westminster Industrial Estate’s owners to prevent cyclists from passing. It’s incredible how this cannot be overcome, especially considering Lewisham’s Waterlink Way path from Deptford to Beckenham uses part of a retail park’s road in Catford.
Around the Thames Barrier the cycle path is landscaped, but could do without this particular petty “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT” instruction when crossing a little-used service road…
Up through Charlton, it’s pretty good going through towards the Greenwich Millennium Village. Except it’s a bugger to access from anywhere in Charlton.
Try joining it from Charlton Lane? No chance, you have to turn left and go back on yourself at a roundabout. (Solution – wheel bike across pelican crossing and dive down Penhall Road to river.)
Try joining it from Charlton Church Lane? Technically, you can’t – ahead is for buses only. (Solution, stick two fingers up at the bus only sign and go ahead.)
Try joining it from Victoria Way? You have to take a left-right turn into an industrial estate; ride gingerly through Asda’s car park (as seen above) then emerge onto a dual carriageway. Not enticing. (Solution, do just that, then cross at pelican crossing and take bike on pavement as far as Peartree Way to join paths to river.)
I thought that perhaps, cyclists were encouraged to head down to Aldeburgh Street, just before the east Greenwich flyover. After all, there’s a contraflow cycle lane in the opposite direction there. But that’s even worse – that will simply lead you back on roads towards the flyover, and away from the river. (Solution: take bike across short stretch of pavement by children’s playground at end of Aldeburgh Street to get onto Horn Lane, then join Peartree Way towards river.)
So while Greenwich and Charlton have one of the best cycle routes in London, nobody’s ever really thought out a coherent way that people can join it; and the further stretches into Woolwich and Thamesmead are blighted by the barrier at Westminster Industrial Estate, the gravel stretch by Tripcock Point, and more poor access issues around northern Thamesmead. It’s a gigantic missed opportunity, especially considering the funding that must have gone into bringing this path up to scratch in the first place.
Some of the solutions should be fairly simple, though – if there’s the willpower to put them in place. Like allowing cyclists to ride through the Westminster Industrial Estate, taking out some of those cobble stones, improving the signage and putting in some cycle priority measures. Others are more difficult, but with a mound of empty land at the foot of Victoria Way, there must be room to persuade a developer to put in a cycle route here, for example.
Another example of something dumb is on the route up through the Millennium Village. Who on earth thought square, raised cobble stones – just like the ones on the speed humps in the Royal Arsenal – would be appropriate for a cycle path?
The ride continues. Tomorrow, I’ll show you how 11-year-old North Greenwich station should be a simple spot for cyclists, but is anything but that.