Plumstead make Merry are looking for volunteer event stewards and stall holders for this year’s event which will be held on Saturday 2nd June on Plumstead Common. They already have a brilliant set of acts lined up for their main stage and tea tent, with more to be announced. They are also looking for teams of no more than 10 adults to compete in their ‘Alternative Games‘ – an it’s-a-knockout style series of inflatable obstacle courses, funny and giant costumes, old-school style sports day races, and much more.
The organisers wrote:
The committee for the Plumstead Make Merry are pleased to announce that we are still taking stallholder bookings for the forthcoming Plumstead Make Merry on Saturday 2nd June from 12-6pm. We are continuing the ‘Best Dressed Stall’ award at this year’s event. Stalls will be judged on general display and promotion of yourself or organisation. We would like to encourage all stallholders to bring their own creative and artistic flair to the event. Previous events have shown a diverse representation of stalls, from community groups, local individuals and businesses, who all take part in the success of the event. You may wish to consider fundraising or promotion for your group through this medium. The lucky winner will be offered a free stall space for the 2013 event, a trophy, and the chance to be photographed for inclusion in press and publicity material. The deadline for applications is the 15th May 2012. More information and application forms can be found on our website, www.plumsteadmakemerry.co.uk or call Holly on 07889 598343.
Additionally, we are currently looking for volunteers to help with the event. Being an Event Steward can be a great addition to you CV. If you would like to get involved we would love to hear from you. Please email Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 07818 236871.
About the Plumstead Make Merry
The Plumstead Make Merry is the longest running festival in the London Borough of Greenwich. From the very first recorded festival in 1978 on Plumstead Common, the festival has grown in size, amenities and diversity. This festival has continued annually, with one exception, in 2011. Due to a lack of funding from the London Borough of Greenwich as a result of government cuts, the festival was replaced with a scaled down event called ‘Not the Plumstead Make Merry’.
The Plumstead Make Merry Association are a voluntary community initiative that provides an annual festival of music, arts and activities for all of the local community. The festival provides a celebration of the history of Plumstead and a celebration of our diverse community. We are committed to celebrating our community.
On this special day we will celebrate the achievements of filmmakers, musicians, photographers, and other artists who have been participating in our project since November 2011.
Our project was then enabled by a small funding from Team London, Mayor of London and Reuben Foundation, which sponsored filmmaking workshops and regular film screenings, offered to the local community free of charge.
After five months of hard work we are going to celebrate all shortlisted films and announce the winners of the Second Edge of the City Film Festival 2012, alongside other shows from the local artists.
There is a packed programme for the event which includes a photographic exhibition, a jazz act and a fashion show as well as a chance to see all the shortlisted films. The judges, film lecturer Prof. John Smith and independent film maker Jill Daniels will reveal the winning films at the awards ceremony at 9.20pm.
The former Royal Military Academy, like the former Royal Herbert Hospital, is a gated community which is very frustrating if you’re interested in the local history illustrated by historic architecture, or even if you’re just nosy and like looking at old buildings. So I felt really lucky to find the electronic gates open while on a walk with my camera; a chance to have a closer look at what is happening with “The Academy Your Piece of History” as the signs say.
Lots of history happened in the Royal Military Academy in its 134 years – between 1805 and 1939 – as the education centre for artillery officers. Its distinguished teaching staff included Michael Faraday, and graduates included Earl Kitchener, Woolwich-born General Gordon and King Farouk I of Egypt. And some believe it was the place where Snooker was invented. The original architect was Sir James Wyatt, a proponent of the neo-Gothic style who was also the architect for the near-by Royal Artillery Barracks. The central library building, shown above, with its leaded ogee domed octagonal towers was modelled on the White Tower at the Tower of London, where Wyatt was based in his role as Surveyor-General of the Ordnance. It has been described as “An outstanding example of Wyatt’s Gothick style, and one of the most important pieces of military architecture in the country.”
The developers, Durkan Estates, are creating 328 new homes on the site, converting the old Academy and erecting 3 new blocks of flats. They include Extra Care sheltered housing in Colebrook House and L&Q housing association affordable housing. So far the main work seems to have been on the new blocks, with little obvious change to the existing buildings.
There have however been changes in the area around the grade II listed former church of St Michael and All Angels, which is a key component of the developer’s vision to create an urban village with the church and great hall at its centre – the village square. Their plan is that:
St Michaels and the All Angels will become an arts and culture centre, providing studio space for local artists and an open space for the use of residents for exercise classes, art lessons and cultural events.
Essentially a pod will be built inside the church structure containing the 12 artists’ studios, and leaving a space for the cultural activities. The church was built much later than the main part of the academy; its history is summarised in Chapter 10 of the brilliant English Heritage draft Survey of London Volume 48:
Since the 1850s there had been a desire to provide the site with a chapel. Money had been set aside and plans prepared on two occasions, a contract even put out to tender in 1871. But other provision took priority and the cadets used the garrison church. Sufficient subscription funds were at last secured and the Academy’s chapel was built in 1902–4 on the site of the old drill shed, and dedicated as the Church of St Michael and All Angels. Maj.-Gen. N. H. Hemming, RE, deployed red-brick Perpendicular Gothic to fit in with the surroundings. A cruciform plan was intended, but want of money meant that the southern transept was not built until 1926. Inside there is an oak pseudo-hammer-beam roof. Furniture, decoration and an organ were all funded by charitable subscription and fitting out was gradual through to the end of the 1920s. The most impressive fitting was the First World War memorial west window of 1920, designed by Christopher Whall and his daughter Veronica to depict soldiers in historical uniforms paying homage to the Virgin and Child. An earlier west window, moved to the east, commemorated the fallen of the Boer War. The Academy’s chapel became the main garrison church after the Second World War. It closed in 2003. Thereafter memorials, furnishings and the decorative windows were taken to the Royal Artillery’s headquarters at Larkhill, Wiltshire, and Sandhurst.
It’s a shame the stained glass windows have been removed; when I was there the windows were mainly plain leaded glass, and the inside was crammed with partitions and offices, making it impossible to see any remaining decorative features.
The Great Hall, which was once the RMA dining hall, will also be converted for community use – in a similar way to the church by inserting a pod within the existing building. As shown in the plan above it is just across the square from the church. It is proposed that it will provide:
A space for all residents to use whether to watch a movie in the screening room, meet friends in the coffee area, dine in the private dining room, quietly read in the library, relax on the mezzanine or work in the office area. Spaces for everybody: designed for maximum flexibility.
The plan also includes development of changing rooms for cricketers using the cricket pitch which is being re-created in the metropolitan open land in front of the academy; a cricket pitch was originally created in 1878. This is intended as a facility for the wider community, and the planning documents mention that it will be available free of charge to schools in the area. There are records of the Royal Military Academy cricket team between 1865 and 1938, playing games against teams such as the MCC and the Royal Military College Sandhurst. However their home games all appear to be played on the pitch at the Royal Artillery Barracks, rather than at the Academy.
There’s a lot more that could be seen at the Academy, for example the Officers’ Mess shown below and interior fittings pictured by Urban Explorers. And a lot more history to be discovered. It’s a great shame that the Academy and Our Piece of History is not more accessible to the whole community.
The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are looking for volunteers to help clear the rubbish at the edge of the woods near Rowton Road tomorrow, Sunday 22nd April, at 1.30pm. Their e-mail which was forwarded to me said:
Dear Friend of Shrewsbury Park,
We hope you will be able to come along on Sunday (22nd April) to help us clear the rubbish in the Park.
We will be meeting outside the allotment entrance in Rowton Road at 1.30pm and work for up to an hour clearing the rubbish at the edge of the wood opposite Rowton Road.
If you can come, please bring stout gloves, we will supply plastic rubbish bags.
If it is raining, the cleaning event is cancelled.
My ideal for the perfect naan is one that I tasted on a business trip to Bangalore a few years ago, at the then Taj Residency hotel. The subtleties of air-fare pricing meant that it was cheaper for me to stay for an extra couple of days and come home on Sunday, even allowing for the cost of the – for India – extremely expensive business hotel. So I had a Saturday buzzing round the sites of Bangalore on a tuk-tuk – including the famous Nandi temple, Botanical Gardens and a crowded market. Exhausted at the end of the day, and faced with a 4 am alarm call the next day, I collapsed in the hotel buffet and feasted on hot, cooked-to-order naans and a selection of curries. Their naan, in my memory, had the right balance between lightness and doughiness, absorbency and firmness: a perfect vehicle for a spicy curry.
Before then I had always preferred chapatis, probably based on my introduction to Indian food at the Chakwal restaurant in Leeds, where a bowl of curry and three chapatis cost less than a pound, with a second bowl half price if you still had room – perfect for a hungry student.
The local, Shooters Hill, curry restaurants frequently come close to my ideal naan, but never quite meet it. The Star of Spice in Herbert Road is our usual destination, and I always enjoy their curries: not over-cooked or over-spiced, but with distinguishable spicy flavours and al-dente vegetables. And of course a cold beer or two, usually Kingfisher in memory of holidays in the Indian sub-continent where the bottles informed us that it was “Most Thrilling Chilled”.
For the sake of fairness, and variety, it was necessary to visit the Ruchita on Shooters Hill as well, and that was equally enjoyable. It has recently changed hands, and name: it is now called the Jasmine. The new chef seems to be as good as the previous one, based on our first visit. Their Cauliflower Bhaji was just about perfect and their Chilli Masala Chicken made my lips go numb, in a nice way. The naan was good as well, but still not meeting the perfection of the platonic ideal naan.
The other Ruchita, the take-away on Herbert Road, is handicapped in the naan stakes by the foil bags that keep the bread warm during delivery: however quickly you open the bag it seems impossible to avoid that little bit of condensation that prevents the naan achieving perfection. Their portions however are very generous, and there’s always some left over for the freezer.
My favourite Indian restaurant isn’t in Shooters Hill, unfortunately. It’s a South Indian vegetarian restaurant over in Stoke Newington called the Rasa. The starter selection, of different and unexpected types of poppadom and vibrantly flavoured pickles, alone is enough to justify the journey through the Blackwall Tunnel from time to time. However, since I find their Dosas irresistible – especially the Chilli Onion Rava Dosa – they are exempted from the search for the perfect naan.
So the quest continues. If nothing else it’s a good excuse to eat more curries.
The Planning Inspector has granted consent to the creation of a MUGA court on Eltham Common, allowing Christ Church school to expand its buildings into their current play area. His full report has been published on the Planning Portal decisions page.
This will allow the school to increase its cramped teaching accommodation and play area. Currently their accommodation is 664 square meters short of the Department for Education and Science guidelines and their play area is 1860 square metres below. It will also provide a more integrated school, removing the need for children to traverse steep outside steps in all weather conditions to get to the church hall for lunches, PE and games.
At the 2 day public enquiry in February the Inspector heard a large number of submissions of all opinions which he summarises in the decision report. He points out that the the proposed works will occupy only1.53% of the total area of the common and 0.15% of the Oxleas woodlands. He also concludes that there is no evidence that the Oxleas Wood Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will be adversely impacted, and points out that new habitat areas will be created as part of the proposed work:
As part of the application it is proposed to develop new habitat areas of 55 sq.m. and 48 sq.m. These areas will be seeded with shade tolerant wildflower mixes requiring minimal management once established. New planting will be provided along the boundaries of the play areas on the woodland and in the grassland. Other measures will include selective thinning of dense scrub, coppicing of the woodland edge, creation of dead wood habitat piles. The habitat creation and enhancement measures will create a diverse woodland habitat and will enhance the site for a range of bird species. The proposals will enhance the site for a number of bat species by the planting of night scented plants which will attract moths and other flying insects which would provide a food resource for bats; a bat survey did not reveal the presence of any bats on the site.
So the Inspector felt that there would be a net small ecological benefit to the development when balancing the habitat creation and enhancement proposals against the loss of amenity grassland.
Although the Inspector did not think there was a compelling case that the MUGA court was needed by the local community, it will be available, free of charge, to members of the public outside school hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday and from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday during school term time.
The Council has stated that they will not support any future application for further development of the site, such as erection of floodlights or changing rooms.
Although it’s a shame that more of the open space that makes Shooters Hill such a great place to live is being covered, overall this seems like a sensible decision.
I love playing with a spreadsheet of numbers, so I was thrilled to find one containing a ward-by-ward breakdown of the votes cast in the 2008 London Mayoral elections on the Greater London Authority website. It’s fascinating to browse through and compare the votes in different areas, but the most striking pattern to me was the comparative influence of candidate party and personality on voting, which I’ve plotted on the three Greenwich ward maps included in this post.
On the election day voters filled in three ballot papers: one for London Mayor, one for a party or individual for the London-wide London Assembly member and one for a named individual for the Greenwich and Lewisham Constituency London Assembly Member. And as the three ward maps show, voters voted for different parties in the three different polls.
The map at the top shows which wards voted for Boris (blue, of course) and Ken (Red) – and it shows a North-South divide, with the Shooters Hill ward on the boundary and favouring Blue Boris. The second map, below, shows the votes for Labour and Conservative London-wide AMs, and a couple of wards have turned Red, including Shooters Hill but also Eltham West. The bottom ward map shows the results for the Constituency AM – Len Duval (Lab) vs Andy Jennings (Con) and Kidbrooke with Hornfair has supported Woolwich-born Len, turning from blue to red. The three maps demonstrate really well, I think, that voters don’t all just blindly vote for a particular political party, but the individual standing for election can make a big difference.
I’ve summarised the Shooters Hill ward percentages across the three ballots in the table below, and also included the 2010 local council results. The turnout for the 2008 Mayoral elections was 47% in Shooters Hill compared to 67.7% in the 2010 local council election. A higher turnout clearly favours the Labour Party.
Mayor: Ken Livingstone vs Boris Johnson
London-wide Assembly Member
Constituency: Len Duval vs Andy Jennings
How did the other candidates fare in Shooters Hill ward? Well Brian Paddick came third in the Mayoral elections, and also got the most second preference votes at a shade over 30%. The LibDems’ Brian Robson came third in the Constituency AM ballot, but appallingly the LibDems were pushed into fourth place in the London-wide AM vote by the BNP. The Greens were 5th in all three ballots, with 8.24% in the London-wide AM their highest percentage.
This year’s elections take place on 3rd May; Raven on the London Masala and Chips blog has posted a clear and succcinct guide what we will need to do with the three ballot papers. One thing to remember is that we only need to indicate our first and second preferences on the Mayoral ballot paper. One of the largest reasons for spoilt papers in 2008 was giving more than two preferences. The London Elects website also has lots of information about the forthcoming election, and I’ve included a copy of their poster below.
There is still time to register to vote in the Mayoral and London Assembly election; the deadline for registration is 18th April. Full details and a handy form to register can be found on the About my vote website and also on the Greenwich Council web site.
PS Psephology – the study of elections – is derived from the Greek psephos, pebble because the Greeks used pebbles for voting.
Friends of Eaglesfield Park and members of the local community met again on Sunday 1st April to continue work on the creation of the wild flower meadow surrounding the newly restored pond. The weather was wonderful, although the dry spell has had an effect on the soil! Unfortunately fewer “gardeners” were available this time, but we did seem to have more visitors to the pond area – all expressing their enthusiasm and support for the return of the “lost and forgotten” pond. The wildflower meadow area will take a while to establish, but already people have commented that the reflections in the water of the pond add interest and a feeling of tranquility. A closer look in the pond revealed water boatman/water skaters and no doubt there were probably other “bugs” we didn’t spot. We will continue to monitor the aquatic wild life and the wild flower meadow. There is no doubt that it is very satisfying to see the transformation of the pond and surrounding area. We certainly would not like to see the return of the old sad, overgrown and neglected pond!
We still have much to do. We will be meeting again on Saturday 7th April from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon to carry on with the “digging and planting”. If you would like to join us, we would be very pleased to see you. Whatever time you can spare will be a valuable contribution to completing the wild flower meadow.
Don’t forget to wear old clothes. Can you please bring your own tools (especially, spade, fork, hand trowel, and if possible a builder’s bucket).
Work on the lilly pond garden is progressing well and there are even some lillies starting to grow in the pond. Amongst the visitors expressing enthusiasm and support was local councillor Barry Taylor.
Meanwhile, just down the road in Shrewsbury House the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Jim Gillman, was opening the latest Tarts & Crafts fête. He also presented Shrewsbury House with a Commemorative Certificate representing the Royal Warrant recently issued to the Royal Borough.
Tarts & Crafts was very well attended again, and packed with stalls arranged throughout the building. The stalls included a variety of different crafts, aperture photography society and an art stall by local artists Ray Marshall & Colin Fifield manned by Ray himself and including copies of his collages of Shooters Hill, Eltham and Plumstead. Not to mention many very creative cup-cakes.
The fête raised much-needed funds for Shrewsbury House which has been run by volunteers for the last twenty years, and provides a home for a wide range of community societies and activities. There are around 40 in their list, including arts, dance groups, language classes, martial arts, millinery, music, photography and yoga. They are increasing their fund-raising activities following a reduction in income from the council’s use of their facilities, and are promoting the house as a venue for weddings, parties and celebratory events as well as use of their facilities for outside clubs and societies. They even have a sound-proof annex for band practice. Shrewsbury House provides an essential service to Shooters Hill residents, and I wish them luck in their fund-raising activities.
Transport for London have published the dates and details of local bus route changes when the Olympic and Paralympic test events take place over the next month. The changes are needed because Ha Ha Road is closed from 15th April to 7th May and Repository Road from 16th April to 29th April. Bus routes 161, 178, 291, 386, 469, 486 will be affected. A temporary new bus route, the 561, will go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital from Chiselhurst between 15th and 28th April:
On the days that both Ha-Ha Road and Repository Road are closed, route 161 will not serve Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Instead a new, temporary service – route 561 – will operate between Chislehurst and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (west entrance). This service has been provided in response to concerns from residents in Eltham, Mottingham and Chislehurst. All other routes will continue to serve the hospital via the west entrance.
The world’s top elite marksmen compete in this international rifle, pistol and shotgun competition which also serves as an Olympic qualification and Test Event ahead of London 2012. The 11-day ISSF World Cup event will be the ideal opportunity for both competitors and spectators to get a taste of the historic Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, which will host the Olympic shooting competitions this summer.
International Paralympic archers trial out standing and wheelchair events for individuals and teams in this four-day Olympic test event at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. The event is part of the London Prepares series, which runs high-profile tests and trials all all London 2012 venues and for all events ahead of this summer’s Olympic bonanza.
There will only be between 240 and 440 people attending on any one day so it has been decided that the proposed controlled parking zone in the area will not be required. Tickets will not be on sale to the general public, though Royal Greenwich Council will have about 17% of the tickets to distribute to local residents and 6% of tickets will go to local community groups.
Incidentally the Olympics Controlled Parking Zone seems to have changed in the Olympic Delivery Authority document from the previous map – the shapes of the borders are different. I guess the details are still under discussion, but I’m sure “they” will let us know before 27th July.
Building work has started behind the hoardings around Furze Lodge in Plum Lane; they are converting the one-time World War II Gas Decontamination Centre into a total of 12 flats. The previously existing six flats are being refurbished and extended, and a further six created by adding an additional storey. The graffiti-decorated building had been unoccupied for some time, and damaged by fire a couple of years ago, so it is good that it is being refurbished and cared for again. Neighbours of the development had objected on various grounds such as being overlooked, and the plans were changed so that proposed roof terraces were at the Plum Lane rather than the Dallin Road side of the building to prevent this.
For me an unexpected delight of the planning process is the production of a Heritage Statement when work is proposed on an historic building. These are fascinating documents if you are interested in local history, providing a professionally researched history of the building. I’m surprised such precious sources of information aren’t collected and stored together in case they disappear into the morass of planning documents. The Furze Lodge Heritage Statement had disappeared from the on-line planning system, presumably another victim of the redesign of the Royal Greenwich Council web site redesign, but a kind, if overworked, member of the planning department sent me a copy.
The Statement was written by Compass Archeology. They summarise the preparations for war in the Woolwich district, in particular on Shooters Hill which was a key strategic point on the second of three defensive “Stop Lines” around London – battle lines to stop or delay a Nazi offensive against the capital. The threat of aerial poison gas raids was planned for through the establishment of defensive procedures, which included the construction of Gas Cleansing and Decontamination Centres, such as the one on Plum Lane – built in just 8 weeks in December 1939 and January 1940. It was one of many in Woolwich district, others being set up in schools, public baths and health centres. The Heritage Statement describes the guidance on operation of the decontamination centre:
The Organisation of First Aid Posts and Gas Cleansing Stations was centrally controlled and a Ministry of Health Circular dated 30th December 1940 instructed that all such stations should be built following a central model plan (cf. Figs 9-11). The circular stated that: ‘The essential features are that the decontamination section consists of four units for each sex.
i) Outside stripping shed
ii) Inside undressing room
iii) Washing or shower room
iv) Dressing room.
The object is to prevent the spread of gas vapour from unit (i) onwards and each four compartments need to be sealed off from each other.
And they also suggest how this was implemented at Furze Lodge, in the diagram below (click to enlarge).
There’s a lot more about Shooters Hill during the Second World War in the Heritage Statement, in David Lloyd Bathe’s excellent history of Shooters Hill, “Steeped In History” which can be seen in the Heritage Centre, and also in the Digging Dad’s Army material linked to from the side panel and in previous posts. The Heritage Statement summarises what “Steeped in History” says about the war in Shooters Hill:
On the Hill there is evidence for structures for the defence of London such as pill-boxes (Bull Public House), anti-tank weapons and explosive booby traps. There is an air raid shelter in Oxleas Wood as well as numerous shelters in private gardens. The ARP had their Headquarters in Shrewsbury House, just across Plum Lane from Furze Lodge.
In 1940 Hitler decreed his ‘Directive 16’ or Operation Sealion as it became known. Britain’s Home Defence Executive, under General Ironside, laid out a plan for a series of defences called Stop Lines. These series of defensive lines were designed to stop or delay the enemy during the invasion. The defence lines were manned by the Home Guard. Around London there was an outer ring. (approximately on the line of what is now the M25), then a middle ring called ‘Stop Line Central’ which included Shooters Hill, and finally a central core around Whitehall. Gun placements were sited near Oxleas Wood and a Spigot Mortar on Eltham Common. On Eaglefield Park there were zig-zag trenches stretching from where the barrage balloon was sited to the pond, possibly as anti-glider trenching.
Bathe records a Fougase being set up on Shooters Hill ready to be ignited if enemy tanks advanced and there were Dragons teeth set up in Eglinton Hill and Brinklow Crescent (just west of the site). There were Barrage balloons in Eaglesfield Park, Shrewsbury Park (just south of the site) and Oxleas Meadow. A temporary water tank was located in the playground of Plum Lane School for the use of the fire service that was stationed there.
The local Home Guard was the 26th County of London Battalion and its HQ was Lowood House (south of the study site), under the charge of WWI veteran Lt. Col. Rothery-Moss, whom Bathe records as being of ‘the old school’. On Shooters Hill Golf Course was the 145 ‘Z’ AA Battery, with their HQ in a nearby house named ‘Invicta’. Their barracks were six nissen huts with a similar battery on Blackheath. The Shooters Hill site was later used as a POW camp.
During the course of the war Woolwich suffered 1604 high explosive bombs, 82 V1s, 32 V2s and thousands of incendiaries. There had been 717 deaths and 5,207 injuries. Of the 38,000 housing stock 1670 had been destroyed, 1610 seriously damaged and 34,199 slightly damaged. On the upper reaches of the Hill there was very little damage, the WWII Bomb damage maps in Greenwich Heritage Centre show some general blast damage to the north, either side of Dallin Road, but nothing else in the immediate vicinity.
The Gas Decontamination Centres was never used in practice, there were no poison gas raids, so future residents don’t need to worry about lingering contamination. And from its situation on the summit ridge of Shooters Hill they will have amazing views over London and down to the river.