Well, that’s it for another year of local steam train fun. Sunday was the last public running day on the Falconwood Toy Trains, and it was busier than I’ve ever seen it before – which is understandable considering that Electricité De France, the landowners, might need the land back. Unfortunately a suitable new home has not been arranged as yet, and I get the feeling it’s going to be hard finding somewhere as neatly secluded as the grounds of an electrical substation. The thought of moving must be quite a daunting one, as the track itself is twelve hundred feet long (that’s 386 metres to edf), and that’s before they begin to think about what to do with all the other accumulated steam travel paraphenalia and structures they’ve been adding to the circuit over the last x years, such as the glorious little humpback bridge that takes you over the railway as you enter the enclosure.
In my continuing efforts to present a multi-sensory hill experience I have added a recording of a ride around the track to accompany the photo, and short of coming round to your house and starting a coal fire in front of your armchair and spraying you with steam, I think it goes some way towards reflecting the moment, I deliberately didn’t use video, as sound leaves a bit more to the imagination.
Whilst at the recent Severndroog Open House Event I was looking at the exhibition boards and a reproduction of an old poster advertising trams to castlewood back in the 1920’s really caught my attention.
It’s presumably painted from the point of view of the number 44/46 tram stop, wherever that was at the time, with a scene leading up towards the castle, and as it turns out, is available to buy from the London Transport Museum.
It might not quite be a banksy, but the council dog stencil does seem to be fairly effective at keeping the hill clean and safe, at least in the bits it appears; I certainly would tread carefully walking across the roundabout lawns on the wimpey estate, or certain parts of eaglesfield or shrewsbury park or the woods, although things are getting better.
Anyway it seems to be a fairly serious initiative with its own enforcement officials being geared up to hit anti-social dog-owners where it hurts, i.e. the purse.
I’m not sure what kind of dog the stencilhound is? I once saw a similar street painting in paris, and it was definitely a lapdog of some sort, you know the type that fits in a handbag, but the Greenwich version appears to be modelled on a cross between a Poodle and an Alsation, I call it a Poosation.
As part of the south east london Green Chain Walking Festival , a guided walk from Eltham Palace to the Thames Barrier is taking place that visits in Oxleas Woods and Severndroog Castle en route, tieing in with the Open House events there and at other stops along the way.
Walk London Audio Guides have been provided for the different sections of the chain, including those that make this pathway; although they go clockwise, this particular trek is being done the other way, presumably as it involves more downhill walking, well it is seven miles long after all! The guides make for curious listening, and even feature cameo appearances from boycie. I’ve put the audio alongside the maps, which include the Green Chain in red lines, and the Capital Ring route in yellow.
Title: London Open House Weekend Location: Severndroog Castle Link out: http://www.londonopenhouse.org Description: Grade II* listed triangular brick Georgian tower with Gothic windows. Standing 63ft tall in woodlands it offers spectacular views across the capital. Built to commemorate the 1755 conquest of the Malabar Coast by Sir William James. Start Date: 2009-09-19 Start Time: 10:00 End Date: 2009-09-20 End Time: 15:00
Arrive early to avoid disappointment as only 20 people can be on each floor at a time, so the queues back up a lot.
If you would like to sponsor a part of the tower for £5, you can do that too, and have your very own Severndroog Brick!
This is probably the best chance this year to have a look at the impressive interiors and views that can be enjoyed at Severndroog Castle, the campaign to save the castle for the public is now in it’s fifth year, and the more support it receives at events like this the better the long term prospects of having our own castle on the hill will become.
On some open house weekends, although not this time, it is possible to visit the unique Lubetkin Houses, which were reportedly the architect’s first commission before going on to design the penguin pool at London Zoo among other things.
Another art deco gem in this area is the mind blowing “Italian Gothic”Gala Bingo Club on Powis street, formerly known as the Granada Theatre“The most romantic theatre ever built” [1. Granada images found on arthurlloyd.co.uk.]. This is a fascinating place to visit, not least because it acts as a happy reminder of the impressive art deco achievements of Woolwich, along with the Odeon and the Co-Op (which is now destined to become a multi storey car park as part of the controversial Woolwich Triangle proposals) – note – the Granada is open on Sunday only from 1030 to 1130, although bingo membership is another way to enjoy the place, but it would be hard winning any games if you kept getting distracted by the intricacies of the carved wooden ceiling!
Here comes part two in a series of maps, once again inspiration came from the “draft” woodland management plan submitted to Greenwich Council.
This time it’s the designation of Scientific Interest that has been mapped out, which is taken from an ordnance survey version including real boundaries, footpaths, and drains (not sure if that means woodland ditches or victorian plumbing): at natureonthemap.org.uk. Some of Jackwood and Oxleas Wood, and the whole of the Sheperdleas Wood were granted protection from 1984 – almost ten years before the government wanted to replace the woodlands with a traffic bypass – which goes to show how safe an SSSI actually is: not very (Twyford Down is also an SSSI and look what happened there) – anyway, Oxleas is probably safe, so here’s a bit of the Scientific Interest:
The whole of the notification document is decorated with an impressive sounding collection of flora and fauna names and is copied out below, with the addition of painstakingly embedded media – mainly from wikipedia for flora and uk wildlife sites for fauna – plus some bird protection links where birdsong and videos can be observed. A more recent check up stresses the importance of lying dead wood for invertebrates to use (presumably the dogs enjoy this aspect of woodland preservation too):
Oxleas, Jack and Shepherdleas Woods are one of the most extensive areas of long established woodland on the London Clay in Greater London. The woodland has a rich mixture of tree and shrub species within which several woodland types can be recognised. The woods contain a number of species with a restricted distribution in Greater London.
Most of the woodland lies on a south-east facing slope of the London Clay. In parts the former coppice system of management is evident, and this traditional management has been reinstated recently. The majority of the woodland comprises stands of hazel-sessile oak, hazel-pedunculate oak, and birch-pedunculate oak woodland. These stands tend to lie on the more acid base-poor soils and carry a ground flora of predominantly bramble and bracken, with wood sage Teucrium scorodonia. Pedunculate oak-hazel-ash and pedunculate oak-hornbeam woodland over bramble occurs mainly on the heavier richer soils, often on the lower slopes. In places the drainage is impeded and there is a small stand of alder. Plants characteristic of these wetter conditions include wild angelica Angelica sylvestris, broad buckler fern Dryopteris dilatata and pendulous sedge Carex pendula.
Shooters Hill Road is currently home to Climate Camp 2009, in the kite field! No wonder they are finding it a bit blowy, those popular little 2 second tents don’t look designed to deal with bracing blackheath, but we’ll see.
There is a six day programme of free activities ranging from workshops, to live performances, to sustainable living, so it all feels rather jolly and festive, and innocent bystanders seem to be quite safe.
Shooters Hill’s own Councillor Danny was there as the envoy of Greenwich Council, and lots of other local people are visiting the campers – who have pitched up in clear view of Canary Wharf, a symbol of the interests being held to account for profiting from arms trading, carbon “gambling”, and coal power.
The police are doing an excellent job of staying out of trouble, and are standing by at their own camp over the road just in case they are needed; which so far hasn’t been the case. It should however be mentioned that if you do visit the site, it would be wise not to take anything that could potentially be construed as a weapon; which primarily includes glass bottles, penknives, and dogs, although I did see a nice whippet there.
Title: GB4SH – From The Top of Shooters Hill Location: The Bull Link out: http://www.radioclubs.net/cvrs/events.php?events_id=1667 Description: At 132 m or 432 feet above sea level, the top of Shooters Hill has long played a part in communications; from bronze age barrows that could be seen from the thames, to the antennas and dishes that cover the hilltop today, so it’s no surprise that local radio enthusiasts are going to try their equipment out here this weekend, I wonder how far they will be able to reach?
For those hill dwellers who are not celebrating a late pancake day at a certain hill in west london, or scooting down to the south coast for a long weekend, it’s nice to know that the bull are putting on something a bit different for the last bank holiday of summer.
Start Time: 12:00 Date: 2009-08-30 End Time: 20:00
Well, 2009 was not a good year for plumstead plums, well at least in my orchard anyway, the late frost zapped the spring blossoms with the result that I only got 6 victorias this year 🙁
On the plus side, the weather conditions this year have led to a bumper crop of wild blackberries, I have never seen so many on the hill, and whilst still a bit sharp tasting, and with sharp thorns for protection – I had a go at my first blackberry and apple pie of the summer today, and it goes like this:
several handfuls of wild blackberries, washed to flush out insects (no pesticides then, could be organic).
the same amount of apple slices.
a pie dish.
sugar to take the sharp edge off the berries (if they are really sweet then this could be skipped).
pastry as you like it, I just mixed together 5 Oz butter with 4 Oz of plain flour and 2 tbsp water for 30 secs, and then added another 4 Oz flour to make the pastry for rolling out on top.
bake for 20 minutes at 200º celcius, then about another 20 at 180º.
With this year’s yields looking so promising, i’m hoping to make jam next.