Mayplace Lane

Snippet from 1866  OS Map

Snippet from 1866 OS Map

Mayplace Lane may at first sight seem like a typical back alleyway running to the garages behind houses in Eglinton Hill, but it’s much more than that. As you can see in the snippet from Alan Godfrey‘s 1866 OS Map of Shooters Hill it was there before the houses in Eglinton Hill were built, winding down behind Tower House parallelling Eglinton Hill. The Lane is thought to be part of a track that went all the way down to the Woolwich Marshes, following the line of Sandy Hill Road. According to the Survey of London Volume 48 on Woolwich, Sandy Hill Road itself “was laid out along the line of a footpath that rose diagonally through what had been called Hilly Field”. So it seems that before the roads we now know were laid out Mayplace Lane ran from the Bronze Age barrow in Plum Lane all the way to the marshes that once bordered the Thames.

Mayplace Lane with Fly-tipped Tyres

Mayplace Lane with Fly-tipped Tyres

Mayplace Lane is also, in places, a pretty and secluded path, providing a pleasant alternative route down the hill towards Woolwich, though it is a bit uneven in places especially around High View flats where it shares the hill with a permanent water flow of what appears to be spring. Well it would be pretty if it weren’t for the persistent fly tipping which has blighted the lane for years. This isn’t just the usual dumped mattresses, but lorry-loads of old tyres, building remains and, at the moment what looks like corrugated asbestos roofing sheets.,

In the past the Royal Borough of Greenwich Clean Sweep team have removed fly-tipped rubbish, though they maintain that they don’t have to because Mayplace Lane is an unadopted road. Frustratingly the current piles of rubbish have been there for some time and consequently are being scattered over a wider area.  A twitter exchange about the rubbish last week has led to e-mails being sent to our local councillors, MP Clive Efford and London Assembly Member Darren Johnson to try to get some action.

One suggestion, which I thought was a good idea,  from  @Twinsclubplus was that we should have a “Friends of Mayplace Lane”, which I guess would be a bit like the “Friends”  groups that look after local parks. It could keep an eye out for fly-tippers, make sure any tipping was reported promptly, perhaps help clear up the Lane and lobby towards getting a more permanent solution to the problem such as a lockable gate up at the Plum Lane end.

Please let me know if you’re interested in being involved with a “Friends of Mayplace Lane” group on the usual e-mail hilly@e-shootershill.co.uk.

Of course fly tipping is not confined to Mayplace Lane: it’s a borough-wide problem which has been going on for years. In the past the local neighbourhood watch and the 853 blog have both explained what to do about it, but here’s a reminder.

  • Make a note of as much information about the fly-tipped waste as possible, in particular:
    • Where it is, with the post code if you know it
    • How much waste there is, from a single item up to multiple lorry loads
    • What type of waste it is, for example demolition waste, tyres, asbestos …
    • The type of land it is on, such as a public highway, back alley, private land …
  • If possible make a note of any information about the fly-tipping incident:
    • Date and time.
    • Nearest road junction
    • Identification of who did it such as a description, car registration number etc
  • Report it either by:
    • Phone 020 8921 4661 during office hours (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 1pm)
    • Phone 020 8854 8888 emergency out of hours
    • Fill in the Royal Borough of Greenwich on-line form

In response the council say:

We will remove all small flytips (equivalent to a small van load) within 24 hours and, if possible, take action against those responsible.

Large flytips, classified as anything larger than a small van load, will be dealt with by contractors within four working days on a priority basis.

Any items that have been fly tipped at the side of the road will be collected and separated for recycling. Our teams will endeavour to stop and collect any fly tips they find, unless it would prevent them from completing their scheduled or booked work in which case they will report it so a dedicated team will remove the fly tip.

Another way of reporting fly tipping, and other problems, is to use the FixMyStreet web site, which will then forward the report to the council. This can be done either by entering a post code or interactively using their map. It allows you to attach photographs of the problem too. On FixMyStreet you can easily see all the problems reported in your area, as shown in the screen grab below.

Snippet from FixMyStreet web site

Snippet from FixMyStreet web site

I wonder how long Mayplace Lane has been there? It’s intriguing that it runs from the Plum Lane Bronze Age Barrow, one of what was once a  barrow cemetery of 6 barrows,  down to the Woolwich Marshes. Recent archaeological finds at the Plumstead Crossrail site have suggested that Bronze Age people may have built wooden causeways across the Plumstead Marshes similar to those that spanned the marshlands of the Somerset levels. Bronze Age remains have also been found just over the river in North Woolwich. During the Bronze Age it is believed that people distinguished between the land that they lived in and farmed – the land of the living-  and the land of the ancestors where their burials took place. Could Mayplace Lane have been their route from their villages around the Woolwich and Plumstead marshes up to the sacred Shooters Hill summit, the land of their ancestors?