The Plumstead Make Merry festival, which takes place each June on Plumstead Common, is under threat of cancellation this year after losing its £2,000 grant from Greenwich Council.
The Make Merry has been running for 33 years and is billed as a celebration of Plumstead’s history and diversity, and depends on the council’s small handout and a few local sponsors. Without that council money, its future is in the balance.
I’m hoping to grab a chat with one of the organisers at some point soon, but a committee member tells me: “We are currently scrambling round trying to beg, borrow and steal anything we can that will allow us to put on some kind of event.”
So, before anything else, can you help the Make Merry gang make merry this summer?
This is what they’re short of:
– Two marquees – “one small (3mx3m or bigger), one big (last year’s one was 20’x40′, it doesn’t need to be quite as big but that’s a guide)”
– PA system – “last year’s was 12 kw. For health and safety (lost child and ‘help there’s a fire’ announcements) we have to have something about as powerful.”
– Electricity generator (they currently have an estimate of £120 for one)
– Some staging, or an alternative
– Fire extinguishers.
The cut to Plumstead Make Merry does seem to continue a policy where Greenwich Council has prioritised high-profile events over small community events.
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?
From The Independent: “Police have released sketches of 20 unidentified people found dead on Britain’s rail network over the past 35 years in an attempt to trace them.”
“A man was struck by a train under a road bridge on December 15 2009, near Plumstead station, south east London. He was white, in his mid-50s, 5ft 2ins to 5ft 6ins with dark, curly, collar length hair. He was wearing a black shiny bomber jacket, blue jeans, black trainers and a black and white striped scarf.”
A few years ago I was on a train which collided with someone at Maze Hill station. I won’t forget the sickening bump, or the horrified face of the driver. I mentioned it on a previous blog and discovered the man survived, but lost a leg. It’s horrifying to think that many of those who choose to end their lives this way – in a strangely public manner – don’t even get identified after they die.
A lovely idea from Greenwich Council to take a week to promote the borough’s various attractions – obviously Greenwich is known around the world, but there’s a lot more to the borough than SE10, something that isn’t always appreciated even by the people who live there.
So what better than to issue a leaflet extolling the virtue of the diverse districts of the borough, and distributing it with propaganda weekly Greenwich Time?
After else, who else knows the borough better than the council? Especially with attractions in Woolwich such as Charlton Hou-… eh? Charlton House? Woolwich? Isn’t there a clue in the name “Charlton House”? It’s not even an easy walk from Woolwich, for heaven’s sake. The Thames Barrier’s forgiveable since it sits right on the SE7/SE18 border, but for heaven’s sake, don’t they know what’s in their own borough?
Okay, so they cocked up there, but what about laughing it off with Comedy On The Common? Except that’s in Plumstead. Not Woolwich. Which basically leaves Firepower as Woolwich’s one and only bona fide representative in the “highlights in Woolwich” column. Ooops.
Which is a shame, actually, because there’s plenty of things to see in Woolwich – the Arsenal (and Dial Square) is well worth a wander, there’s great 30s architecture around the west end of the town centre, the stunning Royal Artillery Barracks and the bombed-out St George’s Garrison Church opposite. But somehow the council’s taken on an estate agents’ enthusiasm in its desire to simply the borough down to just three districts – Greenwich, Eltham and Woolwich.
A poor show. Actually, Charlton’s got enough to peer at on its own with the barely-promoted “Explore Charlton” walk from the Thames Barrier up to Charlton House, while further east Plumstead Common and Winns Common provide good walking and wonderful views. And, of course, Plumstead played host to the formative years of (Woolwich) Arsenal FC and Steve Davis.
Be A Local Tourist is a great idea, clearly aimed at generating economic spin-offs. But it only scratches the surface of the borough’s diversity. Perhaps next time, a local rather than a tourist could come up with its publicity…
Transpontine did it a while back, and so did Caroline, and a link elsewhere led to me spending a morning delving into the British Pathe archives… which turned into almost a whole day. South-east London wasn’t always overlooked by the media, you know.
This stuff’s been online for some time now, and considering the number of errors in the accompanying text (the team behind it only had the soundtracks to rely on) perhaps these archives would benefit from a Wikipedia-style approach where we could correct it ourselves. There’s a heap of fascinating stuff there – here’s a (huge) selection. If you’re after Woolwich’s military history, Greenwich’s royal history, or old sporting fixtures from the area, there’s loads more at the British Pathe site.
1914: Artillery sports at Woolwich.
1914: A Victoria Cross winner gets a hero’s reception at Deptford.
1916: Lewisham’s pride – footage of soldiers from World War I. Wonder where the street is?
1917: Queen Mary visits mothers and babies in Woolwich.
1920 “The kiddies of Deptford – for whom the Duchess of Albany is organising the great Ball at Devonshire House on April 14th.” (UPDATE: See Deptford Misc for more, thanks to Bill for researching this)
1920: Clouds of smoke from a coke fire across the Thames at North Woolwich.
1920: Top hats ahoy! Woolwich Borough Council starts work on a new housing estate. (This would be around Rochester Way, Eltham, wouldn’t it?)
1920: Homeless boys make Christmas pudding at the Cranleigh Mission, Blackheath.
1921: Anglo-French rugby at the Rectory Field, Blackheath.
1921: An open air Catholic service at Bostall Convent, Plumstead.
1921: A tank gets stuck in the Thames at Woolwich.
1922: An intrepid cameraman shimmies 250 feet up a wireless mast at Kidbrooke. Unfortunately, we don’t see the view from the top, which would have been priceless.
1922: Queen Mary opens the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Samuel Street, Woolwich. It closed in 1984.
1922: Prince Henry’s there to see the British Army football team play their Belgian counterparts, presumably on Woolwich Common.
1923: At long last – Surrey beat Kent. Cricket at the Rectory Field. Kent used Blackheath FC’s home as a ground until 1972.
1923: Match footage from The Valley – Charlton Athletic v Bolton Wanderers.
1925: Policemen and firemen mince through the streets of Eltham – it’s a walking race.
1925: Messing around on motorbikes at the annual gymkhana at Woolwich. I wonder where the stadium is?
1925: An old fire pump in Welling.
1926: The All Blacks beat Blackheath at the Rectory Field – featuring their war dance.
1927: The Prince of Wales – later Edward VIII – visits Woolwich Market.
1928: “Greenwich-on-sea” in a heatwave.
1930: “Meet the Clarke family of Blackheath, London – a father and eleven sons; a complete football team and referee!”
1930: Queen Mary opens Rachel McMillan teacher training college in Creek Road, Deptford. See a photo here.
1930: The Woolwich military tattoo.
1931: A woman in Sidcup who keeps monkeys for pets.
1934: Oh no! The Kidbrooke wireless mast is coming down! We do get to see the view this time, though.
1935: Princess Mary opens Danson Park, Bexleyheath.
1936: “Now, it’s away to The Valley, to meet the lads of Charlton Athletic” – their first season in the first division, after two consecutive promotions – and a chance to see George Tadman “bang in a hard one”.
1937: Mrs Chebby Cohen of Woolwich impersonates a little girl and plays with the neighbourhood children. A little odd.
1937: Celebrations! Bexley becomes a borough – with “the biggest crowds Bexley has ever seen”.
1936: More from The Valley – “this winter, keep your eye on Charlton Athletic!”. Legendary manager Jimmy Seed gets his magnetic board out and outlines his plan for success at “Charlton Ath-er-letic”.
1938: Football again! Charlton beat Millwall 1-0 at The Den in a charity game, with 27,745 watching.
1938: Mr J H O Bunge wants to dam the Thames at Woolwich.
1938: A 36-ton boiler falls off a lorry and crashes into a Woolwich off-licence.
1938: Air minister Kingsley Wood sees barrage balloons at Kidbrooke, and gets three cheers for his troubles.
1940: Footage of Chislehurst and Petts Wood.
1940: Fitness wins! Physical jerks at The Valley – followed by Fulham’s Craven Cottage. Straighten up there!
1941: An RAF parade at Kidbrooke.
1942: Mr Woolley of Eltham shows off his model of the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship.
1946: A school for barmaids at the Dover Castle, Deptford.
1947: Their proudest moment – Charlton win the FA Cup.
1947: Bexley’s teenage mayoress.
1948: Cooks on parade for Christmas at Woolwich Barracks.
1948: Making propellers at Stone’s foundry in Charlton.
1948: A mobile fish and chip shop is a big hit in Sidcup.
1948: A “silent butler” to help busy housewives is unveiled in Hither Green.
1949: “Daredevil cockney kids” use a New Cross bomb site as a speedway track.
1949: : An FA XI takes on an Army XI at The Valley.
1949: “Plumstead Plumber” Bill Painter climbs Eros in a trilby.
1950: Some of the last hop-pickers set off from London Bridge.
1952: How Fred Fellingham from Charlton was at the forefront of hen technology.
1952: London’s last tram arrives in New Cross from Woolwich.
1954: The sparkling new Kidbrooke school for girls – Britain’s first comprehensive – is unveiled. A contrast from the rotten state it was in when I did an A-level there in the early 1990s.
1954: Goalkeeper Sam Bartram celebrates 500 league games at Charlton.
1954: The Cutty Sark sails into Greenwich for the last time.
1955: Vintage cars leave Kidbrooke RAF base on a jaunt to Hastings.
1956: Checking out weights and measures in Lewisham market.
1956: Canoe-making in Eltham and Welling.
1956: The Camberwell Beauty butterfly is released in Greenwich Park.
1956: Artists gather at the Yacht pub, Greenwich, to paint Thames-side scenes. I didn’t realise the Yacht was 300 years old – or did Pathe get it confused with the Trafalgar Tavern, which is old but hasn’t always been a pub?
1957: Blackheath’s “house of tomorrow” – is this the Cator Estate?
1957: It’s the Lewisham North by-election – and some great shots of the high street. I wonder where that ornate old town hall was?
1957: The Lewisham rail disaster. The “temporary” replacement bridge erected after the crash remains.
1957: Midwife Elsie Walkerdine retires after bringing 4,000 Deptford babies into the world.
1957: Footage of a dim-looking Blackwall Tunnel.
1958: Charlton-based artist and sculptor Russell Gammage lets Pathe see him at work.
1958: Clive Lloyd, 11, of Bexley, shows off his private zoo. Wonder if he picked up his monkeys from the lady in Sidcup?
1959: A Charlton factory – presumably Stone’s – demonstrates a new kind of ship propeller.
1959: Afghan hounds race at New Cross dog track.
1959: Children from Earl Rise primary school, Plumstead, head off to school camp.
1960: A star-packed circus on Blackheath.
1960: Fanny Cradock holds a “cockney party” in Blackheath.
1960: A very busy looking Woolwich Foot Tunnel (which had been open for many years, contrary to the blurb).
1961: “Four blocks of flats, 14 storeys high, is one practical way the Woolwich Borough Council is celebrating its diamond jubilee.” Princess Margaret opens Frances Street high-rises (part of the soundtrack was recently used in this sneery ad for sausages). Also features the infamous Autostacker car park, which didn’t actually work and had to be pulled down.
1962: Meet pop star Marty Wilde’s mum – living in Blackheath in a house bought by her son. I think Marty Wilde – father of Kim – was brought up in Greenwich.
1965: Fascinating clip from a debate I can’t imagine people being open-minded enough to have now. Is Kidbrooke School too big?
1966: The new Woolwich Ferry terminals open.
1966: A butterfly farm at Bexley.
1967: The aftermath of the Hither Green train disaster.
1967: The second Blackwall Tunnel opens – and work starts on the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach.
1968: The Gipsy Moth arrives at Greenwich – by road from Woolwich – where it stayed until 2004. It’s now sailing again.
1969: This is my favourite – camels and bingo at The Valley.
1969: Early footage of Thamesmead.
1970: Meet Plumstead clergyman Barry Wright – also a policeman in Woolwich.
1970: Woolwich beats Maggie Thatcher – milk snatcher. Bit baffled by this as Greenwich was a Conservative council in 1970, but you can see where a generation of local TV news reporter got their style from.
1970: Protesters in Eltham demand the building of the Dover Radial road – finally opened in the 1980s as the Rochester Way Relief Road.
– Traffic jams up my road and sirens in the air on Friday evening – sadly, it was after a cyclist was run down by a lorry at the Woolwich Road flyover. Police are looking for the driver, who did not stop, the News Shopper reports. Roads around the area were closed until well after midnight.
– The possible closure of the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels could last up to 18 months, according to a commenter on greenwich.co.uk. Whatever happens, as usual Greenwich Council isn’t covering itself in glory by keeping discussions of this well away from the public eye, and off its website and propaganda newspaper. Perhaps council taxpayers in Greenwich and Tower Hamlets might want to know why the lifts, which at Greenwich opened in 1992, are having to be replaced after less than three decades. Weren’t the previous lifts the original models?
– The Charlton Conservative “action team” I spied bearing photos of Boris Johnson have started their own blog, James In Charlton, which features some interesting facial hair. Actually, our James seems to have adopted some of the lyrical stylings of our capital’s current mayor in his prose. My politics aren’t their politics, but it’s good to see them sticking their oar into the debate.
– This is as much a reminder for me as it is for you, but Woolwich photgraphic society Aperture is holding its annual exhibition at Woolwich Town Hall until Friday. Which means I should get along and take a look.
– And at Plumsteadshire, Doctor Pangloss struggles to work out if a big music event on Plumstead Common really is happening in July. Yep, you guessed it, can’t find anything on the council’s website, a cock-up on the poster… it’s a familiar feeling.
– Thanks to the ever-excellent Transpontine for spotting yet another love letter to New Cross and Deptford’s apparent coolness – this time from the New York Times – In London, New Cross and Deptford Attract the Hip: “This still feels a bit like London’s Wild West (southeast, actually), a boisterous concoction of blue-collar aesthetics and intermittent hipsterism.” Hmmm. Of course, it is nearly five years since the Evening Stunted’s notorious “new Hoxton” feature.
– There’s only one thing to do tomorrow – light your Jade Goody memorial candle. What do you mean you don’t have yours already?
– “Why didn’t I think of this before?” corner: I Love My Postcode enables you to buy all kinds of tat emblazoned with the London postcode of your choice. Damn, I could have bought my mother a DA15 hoodie for her birthday. (Incidentally, there’s a shop in Shepherd’s Bush’s Westfield mega-mall which sells hoodies and t-shirts with local destinations on – “ACTON”, “HAMMERSMITH”. I paused outside the window looking at these to hear some local youths chatting. “Why would anyone want to wear “EALING” on them?”)
– Unfortunate goings-on in Floyd Road, Charlton, captured on Google Street View. Meanwhile, in Greenwich, fried chicken magnates can rest assured their identity is safe with Google.
– If you’ve ever voted in an election in the Greenwich area, you’ve probably seen Ron Mallone‘s name on a ballot paper at least once. The veteran peace campaigner died last month aged 92, after putting himself forward in countless elections for his Fellowship Party, which he founded in 1955. Spike Milligan, actor Leo McKern and composer Benjamin Britten were among his supporters.
– Brockley Central asks: What is Lewisham (borough) for? Like I said in the first comment, it’s for keeping Greenwich and Southwark apart. But what is Greenwich for?
– Plumsteadshire encounters some dangerous dogs.
– I’ve updated the “about 853” page, because I can. And because now my employment has ceased, I can be a tad more open about things. It’s not that exciting, honest, but it may put a few bits of flesh on the bones.
– Finally, a not-very-amusing tale of life in Charlton. I found a supermarket trolley dumped outside my place this morning. I peered out of the window, saw what looked like an instantly-recognisable design on the handle, and rang Asda up. After a bit of resistance (“we only go out on Tuesdays”) I got through to the manager who said she’d send someone round. True to her word, I got a knock on my door a couple of hours later. “You called about the trolley… it’s not one of ours.” I still couldn’t make out the insignia on it, but the chap was kind enough to take it away regardless. Good on him. Except… just around the corner, just now, I saw what looked like that trolley left behind in a neighbouring street. (Turns out it was from one of Asda’s neighbours.) Something’s got to change around here…