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  • hilly 6:21 pm on July 14, 2015
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    The Walking Time Machine and other walks in Shrewsbury Park 

    Greenwich Morris Men at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Greenwich Morris Men at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Local archaeologist Andy Brockman will be the “Walking Time Machine” on Friday when he leads a walk through the history in and around Shrewsbury Park. This is the first of three free walks arranged by the Friends of Shrewsbury Park. Kathy from the Friends wrote with details:

    One of our members, Andy Brockman, who is a Shooters Hill based archaeologist, is providing a free walk on Friday 17 July 2015 starting at 7.30pm. If you are interested, please meet at the car park off Plum Lane. He says, “your journey aboard the Walking Time Machine will last approximately one and a half hours and twelve thousand years, taking in the Bronze Age, London’s first Open Air School and the Battle of Britain. Families and well behaved dogs are welcome. This event is part of the Council for British Archaeology Festival of British Archaeology.

    and then:

    19th July, at 10am: Local birds.  John Beckham will be leading the walk around the park and pointing out the local birds. Meet at the Garland Road entrance and bring binoculars if you have them.
    25 July, at 3pm: Butterflies.  John Denton will be showing us the different butterflies in the park. Meet at the Green Chain sign on Dothill (at the bottom of the concrete path that leads from the car park).  Bring binoculars if you have them.

    The “Walking Time Machine” is part of the 25th Festival of Archaeology which is co-ordinated by the Council for British Archaeology. There are over a thousand events taking place across the country between the 11th and 26th July 2015. I’m looking forward to learning about the Open Air School which was the first such school opened by the LCC in 1908 and based in Shrewsbury Park. David Lloyd Bathe’s “Steeped in History” describes the school, and includes a number of photographs of it such as the one below from the Greenwich Heritage Centre. Some of the pictures are of wooden buildings that formed part of the school. It’d  be interesting to know where they were located. And where in Shrewsbury Park was Colonel Bagnold’s Bronze Age barrow number 6?

    Nature studies at the Shooters Hill Open Air School, from the Greenwich Heritage Centre collection

    Nature studies at the Shooters Hill Open Air School, from the Greenwich Heritage Centre collection

  • hilly 10:30 am on July 6, 2015
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    Picnic in Eaglesfield Park 

    FoEP Leaflet

    The Friends of Eaglesfield Park are holding a “Picnic in the Park” on Sunday 12th July, with entertainment from a Brazilian/Latin band and a display of Tai Chi. Madeleine from the Friends wrote with details:

    As part of the Parksfest 2015 celebrations Friends of Eaglesfield Park would like to invite everyone to Eaglesfield Park on Sunday 12th July between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm to relax to the sunny music of Brazilian/ Latin band ‘Roots BR’ and see a display of Tai Chi with Chew-Yeen Lawes – and maybe even learn a few moves!
    The aim of the afternoon is simply relaxation and well being.  Learn how to improve our lives with the techniques of Tai Chi.   Take time out to enjoy the company of  friends, family and neighbours.   Listen to the rhythms of Brazilian/Latin music.  Experience the peace and tranquillity of Eaglesfield Park.
    So, why not forget about cooking Sunday Lunch and instead bring a picnic and comfy chair, and chill out for a couple of hours!   But don’t forget the sun lotion.
    For the more energetic, you could also try Pond Dipping – we have the basic equipment.
    Bring a picnic
    Rediscover how the ancient martial art of Tai Chi can improve your life focus and restore calm and balance.  No special equipment is required to join them. All it takes is your body and a willingness to learn.
    Throughout the afternoon there will also be opportunities for Pond Dipping – come and see what you can discover.  We have basic equipment and reference guides.

    I’m looking forward to learning some Tai Chi in the park. Let’s hope the weather stays fine.

    Tai Chi in Eaglesfield Park

    Friends of Eaglesfield Park’s photo of Tai Chi in the park

    Eaglesfield Park

    Eaglesfield Park

  • hilly 11:06 am on June 29, 2015
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    Divest Greenwich 

    Divest Greenwich Flyer

    Local group Divest Greenwich, who are campaigning for the Royal Borough of Greenwich to move £17million of their pension fund investments out of fossil fuel companies’ shares, are holding a launch event at St Alfege’s Church Hall on Thursday, 2nd July at 7.00pm.  Why should Greenwich do this? Well, if we are to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change most of the reserves that fossil fuel companies hold, which provide the basis for their share prices, must not be burnt for energy. Divestment will have the twofold advantage of protecting the pension fund from consequent drops in fossil fuel company share prices as well as making a stand against the powerful lobbyists of the petrochemical industry. Thomas Greenwood, who wrote to tell me about the event, succinctly summarised the case for divestment:

    The Greenwich Pension Fund has around £17 million invested directly in fossil fuel companies and more invested indirectly. Such investments carry a high degree of risk on ethical, financial and scientific grounds and the Pension Fund’s investments therefore expose the people of Greenwich to those risks.
    Already, hundreds of institutions around the globe have committed to divesting from (ending their investments in) fossil fuel companies to the tune of billions of pounds, including the Church of England and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The Royal Borough’s Pension Fund can add significantly to this movement.
    The reason we consider divestment such an important issue is because if global warming is to be limited to 2°C – the threshold for irreversible climate change – up to 80% of known carbon reserves must be left in the ground. Available evidence indicates that fossil fuel companies intend to burn enough reserves to push global warming far above 2°C, as they insist on searching for further reserves, often in the globe’s most ecologically sensitive areas. Around the globe, the first five months of this year were the hottest on record. We urgently need to act.
    The Pension Fund has a fiduciary responsibility to maximise returns which can be met whilst divesting. In April 2015 MSCI, the world’s leading stock market index company, found that investors who divested from fossil fuel companies would have made an average return of 13% a year since 2010, compared to the 11.8%-a-year return earned by conventional investors, including in the years before the fall in oil prices. Moreover, if decisive action is taken by governments to limit climate change and a large amount of carbon reserves are left in the ground, shares in fossil fuel companies are likely to drop significantly in value. As such, pension funds currently investing in fossil fuels risk exposure to this ‘carbon bubble’.
    We believe our local government has a responsibility to divest from an industry that’s destroying our future. By remaining open to investments in fossil fuels, the Royal Borough of Greenwich is supporting the power, influence and activities of the fossil fuel industry. We would like to see the Royal Borough of Greenwich lead the way on sustainability and cease to invest in activities that are damaging for the environment and human race.
    Divest Greenwich’s launch event will take place on Thursday 2 July from 7.00-8.30pm in St Alfege Church Hall.

    The launch event will include a screening of the film Do the Math which is narrated by Bill McKibben, who is the author of a dozen books about the environment, including “The End of Nature” published in 1989.  He is also the founder of climate change campaigning group 350.org. Another of the directors of 350.org is Naomi Klein whose book “This Changes Everything” documents how fossil fuel companies use their money and influence to campaign against climate change, but also the successes that campaigners against fossil fuels are having around the world. As easily extractable fossil fuel reserves have been used up extraction companies have had to move into more dangerous technologies, such as deep water drilling and fracking which have larger potential impacts on wider areas of the countryside and many more people. The only good thing about this is that it has increased and broadened the number of activists campaigning against these developments.

    In Greenwich the Labour councillor for Greenwich West is a supporter of the campaign and has arranged a meeting between Divest Greenwich and the leader of the council. Divest Greenwich also has a petition urging Greenwich to divest from fossil fuels.

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

  • hilly 11:57 am on June 25, 2015
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    Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival 2015 

    Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival 2015 leaflet

    The Friends of Shrewsbury Park have excelled themselves with the number of attractions and events in year’s Summer Festival, which takes place on Sunday 28th June from 2-5pm. Kathy from the Friends wrote with all the details:

    We hope to see you at our Summer Festival on 28 June.  The fabulous dog show will start registration at 1.30pm, and the classes are:
    *  fun agility course
    *  best rescue dog
    *  best child handler
    *  sing with your dog
    *  puppy class
    *  obedience class
    *  fastest dog.
    It costs £2 per class, and the profits go to Friends of Shrewsbury Park (to go towards our drinking fountain).
    We will have the Doriel School of Dancing at 2pm, Greenwich Morris Men at 3pm, and Leo’s Kpop group at 4pm.  They will be presenting a routine, then teaching any willing participant to do a routine.
    We will have the Greenwich Rock Pop Community Choir from Abbey Wood who will run a small singing workshop. They will get a bunch of passers by, give them a lyric sheet and teach them the harmonies to a song like daft punk’s – Get Lucky,  Beatles – Help, Mama/Papas – california dreamin’.
    Hawk and Hood will be there with their birds of prey, and Woodlands Farm Trust will bring along some of their sheep to the event.
    We will also have the Dogs Trust, Flamsteed Astronomy Society, Friends of Pet Cemetery, Friends of Bostal Heath, Guide Dogs, the Police, RSPB, Severndroog Castle, Paws and Co, Riverford Home Delivery, Season, the local Councillors, Aloe Vera alternative, Robert’s Walking Sticks, Shabby Chic, and Phoenix Cards.  The Friends of Shrewsbury Park will be providing a Tea and Cake stall, lots of goodies in the bric a brac, a children’s play area, used books and membership stall.

    It’s worth going to the Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival just for the brilliant, entertaining dog show, but with all the other events and stalls too it is just unmissable.

    Obedience Competition at 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Obedience Competition at 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Fastest Dog Competition at 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

    Fastest Dog Competition at 2013 Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival


  • hilly 9:49 pm on June 20, 2015
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    St George’s Chapel Restoration 

    Dr David Carrington and Kalypso Kampani with part of the mosaic restoration

    Dr David Carrington and Kalypso Kampani with part of the mosaic restoration

    Greek mosaic specialist Kalypso Kampani and her team of conservators expect to complete the current phase of mosaic restoration work at St George’s Garrison Church by the middle of July. The marvellous mosaics, which were installed by Antonio Salviati around 1870, include the Venetian glass mosaic of St George and the dragon, part of the Victoria Cross memorial. Kalypso’s team come from historic building repair and restoration specialists, Skillingtons who won the contract for the restoration of the mosaics in late 2014.

    There was standing room only on 9th May in the meeting room at Woolwich Library for the presentation about St George’s Chapel. Julie Ricketts who is the Heritage Project Officer responsible for the St George’s project gave an interesting presentation. She talked about the history of the Garrison Church and showed some old pictures of the church before it was partially destroyed by a V1 flying bomb, with some I hadn’t seen before of the 1500 capacity interior. I was also unaware of the extent to which cast iron was used in the construction of the church: there were cast iron pillars and iron was also used for the roof and balconies structures. Cast iron column capitals can still be seen in the ruin today.

    As well as the Heritage Lottery Fund a lot of other organisations provided funding for the project:

    The Heritage of London Trust Ops. has been working on a restoration project at St. George’s, with funding and assistance from a variety of sources: Ministry of Defence, Royal Artillery, HLF, English Heritage, John Paul Getty Foundation, Community Covenant Fund, Pilgrim Trust, Cory Landfill, Lord Ashcroft, Foyle Foundation and VC and GC Associations.

    Julie’s presentation also gave details of the on-going restoration work and the plans for the future of the chapel.

    Mosaic restoration in progress at St George's Chapel

    Mosaic restoration in progress at St George’s Chapel

    There are two aspects to the first phase of work on the mosaics by Skillingtons’ team. The mortar backing on many of the smaller mosaic panels needs to be replaced. Those panels were removed from the chapel after fixing the mosaic tesserae in place by attaching muslin cloth to them using a glue made out of rabbit skin. Then the mortar between the tesserae is replaced from behind in the workshop, following which the panels are replaced in the chapel. In this phase missing parts of those mosaics are not being renewed; it is hoped this might be done in a future phase if funding is found.

    Missing parts of the St George mosaic are being replaced in situ in the chapel. Missing sections are created, as shown in the photograph above, using new tesserae which are made by a producer in Greece. As well as the mosaic the letters in the marble tablets inscribed with the names of the deceased gunners who won the Victoria Cross from the Crimean War to the middle of WWII are being restored.

    The conservators are concerned about the stability of some other memorial panels in the chapel, especially the alabaster panel shown below which is to the right of the St George mosaic. There has been a request for emergency funding to ensure this panel doesn’t deteriorate further.

    Alabaster panel in St. George's Chapel

    Alabaster panel in St. George’s Chapel

    After the presentations we all walked up the hill to the chapel where the new tensile fabric roof was being attached to the glulam timber-framed arch. The tensile roof was constructed by Fabric Architecture, with Thomas Ford and Partners as the conservation architects for the project. There’s much more detail about the project and photos of the work progressing on the Fabric Architecture website, for example:  the main vaulted roof beams each weigh around 6 tonnes and they sit atop 8 supporting columns weighing around 750kg each.

    It had been expected that the roof would be in place in time for our visit, but completion was delayed by strong winds. Resisting strong winds was an important factor in the design: the structure’s foundations need to be strong enough to prevent the roof being blown away as well as supporting the glulam framework.

    Some of the visitors at St George's Chapel in May

    Some of the visitors at St George’s Chapel in May

    What will happen to St Georges once the work is complete? Whilst the chapel will remain a consecrated place, there are plans to make the space available for community group events and school visits. Current ideas include concerts by the Royal Artillery Band, Greenwich University Big Band and Woolwich Singers and services for local veterans organisations and the Woolwich British Legion.

    In the short term the chapel will be open to the public on the following dates:

    Saturday 27th June – Armed Forces Day
    Saturday 12th September – Ride & Stride
    Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th September – Open House weekend

    Julie is looking for volunteers to help for a couple of hours at the Greenwich great get together/Armed Forces Day festival on the 27th June to “greet members of the public at St. George’s Garrison Church, give out an information leaflet, ask them to sign the Visitors’ Book and shake a collection bucket!” You can sign up for this using an online calendar or by contacting Julie Ricketts by e mail: hpostgeorgeswoolwich@gmail.com or telephone 0754 6265480.

    In the longer term Heritage of London are setting up a friends group to look after future events. Volunteers are sought, for the following areas: Events, Finance, Membership, Education & Outreach, Building & Gardening, Publicity, Media & Communications and Fundraising.If you’re interested contact Julie using the contact details above. St George’s chapel is also on Twitter and on Facebook.

    The restoration of the Garrison Church was originally agreed before the 2012 Olympics, so it’s been a long project, but its looking like it will have been worth the wait. Great Greenwich Get Together/ Armed Forces Day leaflet

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