London Open House Weekend

Severndroog Castle
Severndroog Castle
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!

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Special Scientific Interest

oxleas_woodland_sssi

Oxleas Woods Parklands

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.

In parts there is a well developed woodland structure with a variety of trees and in particular, shrubs. Some of these shrubs have a restricted distribution in the London area such as guelder rose Viburnum opulus, midland thorn Crataegus laevigata and buckthorn Rhamnus cartharticus; several of the species are more usually associated with outcrops of chalk. These include wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and dogwood Cornus sanguinea. The woods are also noteworthy for the large mature wild cherry Prunus avium, and the wild service tree Sorbus torminalis. The latter occurs in unusual abundance: no other London woodland is known to contain such a large population and size range of wild service tree.

In general the herb layer is typical of woodland on the London Clay; however there is a substantial number of plants which are associated with long established woodland. The spring flora includes bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta in abundance with wood anemone Anemone nemorosa and wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella. Along streams and ditches remote sedge Carex remota, wood sedge Carex sylvatica, yellow pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum, a number of ferns and the uncommon Forster’s woodrush Luzula forsteri are found. The lower damper slopes, particularly where there is an undisturbed litter layer, support a rich variety of fungi. Several locally uncommon species are present and more notable species such as Otidea alutacea, Russula pseudointegra, Ciboria batschiana and Podoscypha multizonata.

Past records indicate the prescence of a diverse and interesting insect fauna – particularly beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), and flies (Diptera). More recent sampling records several notable species such as the beetles Oligota flavicornis, Oak Bark Beetle and the fly Dolichopus wahlbergi. In addition the Lepidoptera fauna includes a number of interesting species such as the festoon Apoda avellana, oak lutestring Cymatophorima diluta and the seraphim Lobophora halterata amongst the largest moths. The breeding bird community contains a range of woodland birds and has several species which are typically associated with the mature timber habitat: tree creeper, nuthatch, woodpecker, chiffchaff and wood warbler. Wood warbler is a notably scarce and declining breeding species in Greater London.

From the Peasants' Revolt to the Planet's Revolt

”]climate camp 2009

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.

GB4SH – From The Top of Shooters Hill

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

Fruits of the Hill

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:

  1. several handfuls of wild blackberries, washed to flush out insects (no pesticides then, could be organic).
  2. the same amount of apple slices.
  3. a pie dish.
  4. sugar to take the sharp edge off the berries (if they are really sweet then this could be skipped).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Severndroog Castle Preservation Update

severndroog castle by andy linden
Severndroog Castle by Andy Linden (flickr.com)

Title: Severndroog Castle Preservation Update
Location: Shrewsbury House
Link out: http://www.shlhg.btik.com/
Description: At this meeting the Severndroog Castle preservationists update us on the work on the castle since the BBC Restoration program. The castle attracts nearly 1000 visitors on Open House day and people are willing to queue for 2 hours to climb the stairs to see this fine folly and wonder at the fine views over London.

The ongoing work to preserve the castle is currently looking very rosy, having turned around its fortunes and saved the castle for the public – at one point in its decline towards dereliction it was the subject of an office conversion bid by Cathedral Group, the people behind the re-development of the once beautiful streamline moderne Well Hall Coronet.

Start Time: 20:00
Date: 2009-08-20

Traffic Modelling

Thames-Map-Big

Is Shooters Hill still safe from Ringway 2?

On Tuesday June the 30th I was on the way to work and saw a police biker at the roadside pulling over drivers so they could be interviewed by traffic surveyors modelling journeys on behalf of tfl.

According to the researchers, this particular survey is a routine exercise, and will provide London’s traffic managers with an insight into the toing and froing in this area. This sounds plausible and even sensible, however, it also transpired that similar ‘routine’ inspections are being carried out in east london. Perhaps I was wrong to infer the link, but the utterance of the words east london, south east london, and traffic modelling in one sentence immediately made me think of Ringway 2

Traffic designs linking the south/north twistulars completing an inner london ring road go back at least as far as the now infamous Ringway 2 blueprint of the 1960’s, and they seem here to stay, in design form at least. These plans were succesfully blocked by the people of south east london in 1973, 1993 and 2008. Things looked especially bad for Shooters Hill in the early nineties, but the area did ultimately fare better than Wanstead and Twyford Down…

On past form at least, Shooters Hill does appear to be safe from the bulldozers for at least another ten years. However the surrounding area may not be, as attention has now shifted to Blackwall. Clive Efford is currently lobbying for a third blackwall crossing, which would include a doglands light rollercoaster to north greenwich and onwards to eltham. His campaign has its merits, primarily it doesn’t have ill intentions for the woods, secondly it makes use of pre-existing links to the south/north twistulars and A2 (which was the original justification for the oxleas woods bypass linking the A2 at falconwood to the crossing at woolwich), and thirdly, the inclusion of a public transport link is a very smart idea as it improves the image of what is, first and foremost, a road building scheme. There are probably some potential traffic problems to be worked out however, and this will be done with traffic modelling!!

If the link at Blackwall gets improved, will it attract more traffic? Will the approach roads and residential areas on each side be able to accomodate extra through traffic?… Furthermore, Blackwall has never had a particularly good record on pollution, air quality measurements at woolwich flyover routinely fail to meet the air quality objectives, what will the building of new roads do for air quality? (Actually for balance it should be added that most of London fails to meet its pollution targets – not that that makes it alright for blackwall to be as bad as it is).

On that note, here’s the survey debrief:

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON: ROADSIDE INTERVIEW SURVEYS

This survey has been commissioned by Transport for London (TfL). Colin Buchanan is conducting it at this site on their behalf.

In order to address transport problems, we need to know more about current travel patterns and so are conducting the survey. It is taking place at a range of locations across the study area. It will last only one day at each location. Stopping vehicles in this way is the only effective way of establishing the volume and types of journeys being made on a typical day.

Thank you for taking the time to provide TfL with this important information.

We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the survey. Every effort has been made to minimise disruption and congestion, but it is not always possible to achieve this as successfully as we would like.

The data you provide will only be used for transport planning purposes by TfL, its agents, London Boroughs and other agencies involved in transport planning.

Should you require any further information about the survey please contact us using the details below. Phones are not continuously manned, but calls will be returned within 24 hours.

Transport for London

T: 02071261423 E: travelresearch@tfl.gov.uk

Colin Buchanan

E: surveys@cbuchanan.co.uk

Three days ago I emailed the supplied contact details to enquire about the motivations for this survey, if I hear back, I will comment further…

The Odyssey

Title: The Odyssey
Location: Oxleas Woods
Link out: http://www.londonbubble.org.uk/fanmadetheatre
Description: London Bubble’s acclaimed promenade performances take audiences on a journey through parks or woodlands, involving them in an unfolding story. Hugely popular with a wide range of ages, previous shows have included Greek myths, classics such as the Arabian Nights, the surreal The Crock of Gold as well as Alice in Wonderland, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Dates
Tuesday 14 July, 7:30pm
Wednesday 15 July, 7:30pm
Thursday 16 July, 7:30pm
Saturday 18 July, 7:30pm
Sunday 19 July, 7:30pm
Monday 20 July, 7:30pm
Tuesday 21 July, 7:30pm

Ticket Prices
Full Price: £15
Concession: £8*

*Concessions available to children under 16, students, over 60’s, disabled people, unemployed family credit and leisure cardholders (proof must be shown).

Group discounts are available for parties of 6 people or more. Please call the Box Office on: 020 7237 1663.