The London Marathon is the best day of the year in this part of south-east London, right? So wouldn’t it be great if there was another one?
And no, not the return of Run to the Beat.
Just announced today, and coming on 4 March 2018, is The Big Half – a half-marathon using the central chunk of the London Marathon course. It’ll start at Tower Bridge, wind its way back around Canary Wharf, then back over Tower Bridge to end at the Cutty Sark. It’s organised by the same team behind the London Marathon.
The event in full…
– The Big Half, a mass participation race over the classic half marathon distance, starting at the iconic setting of Tower Bridge and finishing in Greenwich
– The Little Half for younger runners will be held on a 2.1 mile route from Southwark Park to the stunning Finish Line by the Cutty Sark in Greenwich
– The Big Relay, exclusively for community groups from the four host boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich, with distances ranging from one mile to five miles
– The Big Festival in Greenwich with a huge range of food music and entertainment, including performances from community groups and fun activities and fitness classes for the whole family to enjoy
Entry is open now if you fancy doing it yourself. There are 5,800 places in the main race (making it much smaller than either the main marathon or the unlamented Run to the Beat) with a limited number of discounted places for people from the host boroughs (Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets).
Quotes from the press release:
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Big Half has the potential to become one of the most remarkable days in our sporting calendar. And putting local people at the heart of a world-class running event is a masterstroke. Sport has the power to change people’s lives, and we hope The Big Half will become an annual event that can help inspire tens of thousands of Londoners to get involved in sport and in their local communities.”
Hugh Brasher, Event Director, The Big Half, said: “If you were inspired by Sunday’s London Marathon, this is your chance to get involved in an event like no other. Sport can be an incredible way of joining people together and getting communities to interact together. We are creating an event that is unique, that is fun, that people will want to come back to year after year. The Big Half is a celebration of community and life.”
There’ll still be a bit of disruption (I imagine people in Wapping will feel sore) but nothing like the mass closures of full marathon day. And it looks like it’ll be a huge day for Greenwich town centre. So stick the date in your diary…
Three years ago, Greenwich Council decided to pull out of funding the annual fireworks display on Blackheath, pleading poverty. The £37,000 cost was, according to deputy leader Peter Brooks, equivalent to one
mayoral piss-up at the Naval College full-time job.
“I could give 65 million reasons why we didn’t pay,” Brooks told a council meeting in October 2010, referring to government cuts in the council’s budget. “£37,000 is equivalent to a job and a bit.”
So Lewisham Council was left in the lurch – but has continued to shoulder the entire cost of funding the phenomenally-popular event.
Fast forward to 2013, and Greenwich Council can suddenly afford not just one set of fireworks, but five…
(Video from Greenwich.co.uk)
Pyrotechnics lit up the skies over Greenwich last night and Wednesday night, and will again tonight (at 9.15pm); and there’s be more fireworks over Woolwich tomorrow and Sunday nights (both 9.45pm).
All very nice (and very loud), although I’ve not heard of huge crowds surging to Greenwich to see them, despite council tweets suggesting people “arrive early”.
Heaven knows how many jobs those whizz-bangs were worth. But why? Well, it’s all part of Greenwich Council’s bid to host the 2016 Tall Ships Race, which involved a nice trip to Latvia for the Dear Leader and chums last year, roughly at the same time neighbouring Lewisham was concentrating on the threat to the local NHS.
But the fireworks also represent a substantial piece of tax-funded help for a private company, Sail Royal Greenwich, which is based in the council’s supposed “digital hub” at Mitre Passage, by the Dome. Not only is it getting accommodation from the council, but it’s also getting pyrotechnics funded to help its commercial offer – of trips up and down the Thames in tall ships – look that bit better.
Nice work if you can get it, and all that. All this generosity is aimed at securing the tall ships for 2016, and a hoped-for boost in tourism during that year. And a no-doubt impressive-looking set of photos for Greenwich Time, if they actually manage to get next week’s issue out.
Is this a wise idea or not? Only the borough’s taxpayers can decide. But the moral of Greenwich Council’s new-found love for fireworks seems to be: whenever a Greenwich councillor says there’s no money left for something, take it with a very big pinch of salt.
To donate to 2013’s Blackheath fireworks, due to take place on Saturday 2 November, visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/fireworks.
9.45am update: See also The Greenwich Phantom: “I only hope the kickbacks are worth it.” Ouch.
The weather forecast is dire, but a bit of pomp and ceremony will come to Greenwich today when the Queen reopens the new-look Cutty Sark. Some will grovel, others will grumble, but the arrival of the head of state is a big and appropriate honour for what has been a fantastic restoration job.
There was a press day yesterday for the Cutty Sark, and the BBC’s report predictably went on (and on) about the 2007 fire, even though most of the ship’s valuable features were already in storage off site. But the old girl was in a bad old state before that. Even before it was taken apart for restoration works, it was an underwhelming attraction – graceful from the outside, crumbling and staid on the inside.
But the new displays have been created with care and imagination, and lifting the ship up has proved to be a masterstroke – the dingy old dry dock has now been opened up to allow us access beneath the ship, giving us new angles to view what is already a spectacular sight from.
I looked around on Saturday, on the residents’ open day, as workers beavered away to get the last bits in place. There’s still plenty of questions to be asked; about how the restoration was handled; what we get back for the millions of pounds Greenwich Council has thrown at the project (councillors were able to skip the queues for the oversubscribed open day); the pier (again); and the ugly access tower on the Naval College side of the ship.
But those are for another time. Congratulations to those involved in the Cutty Sark’s rebirth – despite the weather, I think Mrs Queen will enjoy her day. At least it’ll be dry below deck now…
Oh, and for those who’ve had a belly-full of royal borough nonsense (if you haven’t now, you will have by tonight), here’s some suitable souvenirs, on sale in Joy on Nelson Road.
You can see the cards right now – and the Cutty Sark opens for business on Thursday.
First the good news – the rebuilt Cutty Sark is starting to look terrific. The widely-mocked “greenhouse” below seems to work well, and things are looking good ahead of its official reopening by the Queen on 25 April. Considering the problems at the Cutty Sark Trust (whose website has now vanished), I’m wondering if there’s anything to read into the fact that the old ship’s been taken under the Royal Museums Greenwich banner, along with the maritime museum, Queen’s House and observatory.
Cutty Sark Gardens is also starting to emerge, although it still feels grey and featureless and less green than we were led to believe in the consultation. But it’s early days.
And now, the bad news. Those without strong stomachs, look away now. I’ve never known architecture to make me actually physically queasy, but the crappy-looking restaurants on the pier have done just that.
I’m not sure which is worse, the look of them – like ticket booths at a theme park – or the horrible bronze cladding, which looks like the kind of stuff painted onto a cheap £2.99 imitation Oscar statuette. How on earth did we end up being lumbered with this crap?
Local councillor Matt Pennycook has touched upon some of the issues, and says Greenwich Council is to take “enforcement action” against the restaurant operators for the unauthorised, garish signage. You can even see a huge Frankie and Benny’s logo from Island Gardens, on the other side of the Thames.
Unfortunately, there are few clues from the February 2007 planning meeting which gave these horrors the go-ahead, and there’s no documents on the council website from the original planning application. A BBC News story from the time does feature a useless-looking artists’ impression, though.
But seriously – how on earth did these get the nod? What changed in the five years between permission being granted and completion? What do these f’ugly lumps mean for World Heritage Site status? And what can we do about them?
Greenwich’s early risers would have had a treat this morning – the masts were up and in place on the Cutty Sark by lunchtime today. I got to the town centre just in time to see the huge low loader that delivered them ease its way out. There’s still some work to go before the masts are at their full glory, but it’s looking good already. It’s worth watching for more on Sunday.
A mile or so up the river there’s more landmarks appearing, with the first cable car tower appearing on the Silvertown side of the Thames. On the Greenwich side, construction staff were still hard at work as the sun set on a chilly Saturday. It won’t be long now before a mast appears on this side of the water as well.
If you’re in Greenwich this weekend, look up – the masts are due to be fitted back onto the Cutty Sark over the next couple of days. They arrived earlier this week, and the cranes are already in place. Staff on site say the heavy lifting work will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
It’s good to see the old girl look like a real ship again…
His latest project – The Full English – is a chat show from his kitchen. Here he is with Cutty Sark Trust chairman Richard Doughty…
We don’t hear enough from the Cutty Sark Trust, and while this focuses on the ship’s glorious history rather than the troubled restoration scheme, this is quite a gem. Enjoy.