Crossness Public Steaming Days 2013

Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station
Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station

I notice that the episode of Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys,  London Victoria to Abbey Wood, on BBC 2 tonight (Wednesday) includes a sequence about the “Victorian cathedral of ironwork” that is Crossness Pumping Station. As I’ve mentioned before, seeing this amazing example of Victorian engineering fully steamed up and in action is an awe-inspiring sight and well worth a visit on one of their public steaming days.

However there will be fewer opportunities to see it in action this year because the volunteers of the Crossness Engines Trust are starting work on a number of improvements to the site funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant: there are pictures of the volunteers in action on their Facebook page. The Trust have announced just 5 public steaming days for 2013. As they say on their website:

… despite the ongoing building works, the Trust has decided that there will several public steaming days during 2013. The dates currently agreed are as follows:
Sunday April 21st  – Local History Fair (in association with Bexley Civic Society)
Sunday June 23rd – Model Engineering
Sunday July 28th – Transport
Sunday September 1st – Local History
Sunday October 13th – Local History

Admission will be from 10.30am until 4.00pm and the admission charge will be £5.00.
No booking is required. People under 16: free.
It is recommended that visitors wear flat shoes. Please note that the Trust can only accept payment in cash or by cheque.
There will be no mini-bus service in operation from/to Abbey Wood BR station.

To whet your appetite here’s a brief video sequence of the massive steam engines in action from my visit on London Open House day a couple of years ago:

June Half Term Events at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Duck
Woodlands Farm Duck

June Half Term Events at Woodlands Farm Poster

Hannah, the Education Officer at Woodlands Farm, sent me details of their half term activities for children. I’ve added them to the e-shootershill calendar.

Wednesday 6th June
Pond Dipping
Sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm.
50p per child, accompanying adults free
Come and see what you can find hidden beneath the surface of the water. Using nets we will delve into this mysterious world. Age 4+
Booking is essential, call 020 8319 8900

Thursday 7th June
Toddler Club
10am-12pm
Come and join us as we meet the animals, do craft activities and have a play. Tea and coffee provided.
£2 per adult, children free

Friday 8th June
The Big Bug Survey
Drop by any time between 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm
Free!
Come join us and help us discover what invertebrates live on the farm.
Using different techniques we will be seeing what insects we have as well as what habitats are on the farm for them, we will be looking mainly at bees but some other insects as well. Who knows what we may find.

For more information or to book contact Hannah on 020 8319 8900 or via email at education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Woodlands Farm is located on the borders of the London boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich. At 89 acres, it is the largest city farm in the UK. Our priorities are education and conservation, and we are part of the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Our education programme attracts visitors from pre-school to third-age groups. The Trust aims to involve local community groups, schools, volunteers and businesses in farming and  conservation, helping to bridge the current town-country divide.
We are open 9.30am-4.30pm, Tuesday-Sunday (except Christmas Day). There is no entry charge except for special events, though donations are always welcome.

Nearest tube: North Greenwich
Nearest BR: Welling
Buses: 486 and 89

We are a farm so sensible shoes and clothing are recommended! We do allow dogs, but please note that these must be kept on a lead and not taken into any farm buildings.

Hannah Forshaw
Education Officer

(registered charity no. 1051680)
The Woodlands Farm Trust
331 Shooters Hill
Welling, Kent
DA16 3RP
Telephone: 020 8319 8900
Email: education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org
Website: www.thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

There’s a new arrival at the farm to visit if you drop in: Cynthia an Oxford Sandy and Black Pig. Cynthia is expecting piglets in a few weeks time, so it’s just possible they may have been born by half term and there’ll be a chance to see some more new arrivals.

Cynthia, the Oxford Sandy and Black Pig
Cynthia, the Oxford Sandy and Black Pig

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 15th April

Lambing Day 2012 Poster

It’s coming up to a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season about to start. The pregnant ewes have been brought in to the barn, and volunteers who have been trained in lambing techniques are preparing themselves for early mornings and late nights as part of the lambing rota. This year I’d imagine there are additional worries about the possible effect of the Schmallenberg virus.

There will be a chance to see the newborn lambs, and to enjoy the stalls and other activities at Lambing Day on Sunday 15th April. Maureen from the farm e-mailed their poster, above, and said:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day. Come and see our newborn lambs, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including homemade preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our Café, enjoy the treasure hunt or get involved in craft activities.
Entry is £1 for adults and 50p for children, and all proceeds go towards caring for our animals. A great family day out!”

Nearest tube: North Greenwich
Nearest BR: Welling
Buses: 486 and 89

We are a farm so sensible shoes and clothing are recommended! We do allow dogs, but please note that these must be kept on a lead and not taken into any farm buildings.

If you can’t wait until the 15th to see the baby lambs, here are some pictures from last year’s Lambing Day.

Lamb at Woodlands Farm
Lamb at Woodlands Farm
Lamb and its mother at Woodlands farm
Lamb and its mother at Woodlands farm
Lamb at Woodlands Farm
Lamb at Woodlands Farm

Dates for the diary 2: Crossness Public Steaming Days

Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station
Decorative Ironwork in the Octagon at the Crossness Pumping Station

The Crossness Engines Trust have published their programme for 2012 – the Crossness Pumping Station public steaming days. There were long queues when I visited last year on one of the London Open House days, but it was well worth waiting to see this amazing example of Victorian public engineering, which has been described as “a Victorian cathedral of ironwork” by Nikolaus Pevsner. The combination of massive mechanical engineering and detailed decorative ironwork  in a romanesque style building fully justifies Pevsner’s description.

The Pumping Station is the final link in Joseph Bazalgette‘s sewerage system for London, developed in reaction to  1858’s Great Stink (and epidemic Cholera). Bazalgette’s massive intercepting sewers fed the effluent by gravity down towards two pumping stations nearer the mouth of the Thames, at Crossness and Abbey Mills. The job of the Crossness pumping stations was to raise the incoming liquid by 30-40 feet into a sewage reservoir containing 27 million gallons of raw sewage which was discharged into the Thames at high tide to flow out to sea with the tide. This required 4 huge pumping engines – believed to be the largest rotative beam engines in the world, with 52 ton flywheels. As part of their restoration work, the  Crossness Engines Trust have one of the engines, named the Prince Consort, running as shown in the brief video sequence below:

Work on preserving and restoring the Pumping Station started in 1985 – it’s a huge task, and is staffed entirely by volunteers. Their achievements are already very impressive, and they have an ambitious vision for the future – restoration of the buildings and engines to their 1899 condition.

The Crossness Engines Trust web site gives the dates when they will be open this year:

The dates currently agreed are as follows:

Sunday April 22nd – Local History Fair ( please note that entry to the Fair only is free)
Sunday June 24th – Model Engineering
Sunday July 29th – Transport
Tuesday August 14th – Local History
Sunday September 2nd – General
Sunday September 23rd – Open House London (Free entry)
Sunday October 21st – Local History
Admission will be from 10.30am until 4.00pm and the admission charge will be £5.00 except for Open House London which is free. No booking is required. People under 16: free. It is recommended that visitors wear flat shoes.

Please note that the Trust can only accept payment in cash or by cheque.
A Mini-bus service will operate from Abbey Wood BR station to the Crossness site at approximately 30 minute intervals. The first bus will leave Abbey Wood station at 10.15am and the last bus will depart from the Crossness site at 5.00pm

It’s well worth adding one of these dates to your diary.

Detail of ironwork at Crossness Pumping Station
Detail of ironwork at Crossness Pumping Station

There are more photographs on Flickr.

Dates for the diary 1: Falconwood Miniature Railway Public Running 2012

Despite being under threat of eviction, the Welling and District Model Engineering Society have announced their public running dates for 2012:

Welling and District Model Engingeering Society
WDMES

Public Running Dates 2012
We look forward to welcoming you back in 2012 for another summer of nostalgia, riding behind our steam and electric locomotives. The dates and timings have now been confirmed.
The railway and clubhouse will be open from 2:30-5:00pm. Train rides will be available for children and adults(!), with the last ticket issued at 4:30pm. Refreshments are available in the clubhouse.
Sunday April 22nd
Sunday May 6th 20th
Sunday June 3rd 17th
Sunday July 1st 15th 29th
Sunday August 12th 26th
Sunday September 9th 23rd
Sunday October 7th (last running)

The WDMES still haven’t been given a firm date for when they need to vacate the site behind the electricity substation on Rochester Way, so they have planned a full year’s events for 2012.

The Falconwood Miniature Railway is very popular with readers of this site.  The railway, in its various wordings,  is one of the most frequent searches that brings visitors here, attracted no doubt by my predecessor’s sound recording and video of the miniature railway in action. I’ll certainly be visiting one of their public runnings this year, and I’ve added the dates to the site calendar.

Easter Holiday Activities at Woodlands Farm

Bluebell the Saddleback pig at Woodlands Farm
Bluebell the Saddleback pig at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Activities Easter 2012

Hannah, the Education Officer at Woodlands Farm, sent me details of their Easter Holiday activities for children. I’ve added them to the e-shootershill calendar.

1st April – 9th April
Animal Egg Spotting trail
Not only chickens lay eggs – come and explore the farm and find the hidden animals which lay eggs – you may be surprised what you find!
Self guided trail available when farm open – Free!

Tuesday 10th April
Spring on the Farm
10am-12pm
£1 per child, accompanying adults free
Spring is here and this is the chance to meet the baby animals on the farm. We will be doing crafts, games and seeing the new animals.
Booking is essential, call 0208 319 8900.

Wednesday 11th April
Marvellous Minibeasts
10am -12pm
£1 per child, accompanying adults free
What is crawling around in the leaves and what is hiding under those logs? Join us as we go exploring in the woods to find what minibeasts are lurking about.
Booking is essential, call 0208 319 8900

Thursday 12th April
Toddler Club
10am-12pm
£2 per adult, children free
Meet the animals, enjoy some crafts or just play.

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Forshaw on education@thewoodlandsfarmtrust.org

Woodlands Farm is located on the borders of the London boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich. At 89 acres, it is the largest city farm in the UK. Our priorities are education and conservation, and we are part of the Natural England Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Our education programme attracts visitors from pre-school to third-age groups. The Trust aims to involve local community groups, schools, volunteers and businesses in farming and conservation, helping to bridge the current town-country divide.

We are open 9.30am-4.30pm, Tuesday-Sunday (except Christmas Day). There is no entry charge except for special events, though donations are always welcome.

Nearest tube: North Greenwich
Nearest BR: Welling
Buses: 486 and 89

We are a farm so sensible shoes and clothing are recommended! We do allow dogs, but please note that these must be kept on a lead and not taken into any farm buildings.

Lleyn sheep at Woodlands Farm
Lleyn sheep at Woodlands Farm

There are more pictures of animals at Woodlands farm here.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society – A Film

Last year I uploaded a sound recording of the model railway at falconwood, well now here’s a video to go with it. It was filmed whilst holding on to the driver with one hand and the camera with the other, which looking back on it was probably a bit reckless and could have ended up with me falling into the suspension bridge, but in a way it was worth a bit of a risk. I especially like the bit where we go through the tunnel and you can see the steam on the lens, plus all the friendly bystanders of course.

Punch and Judy

This is from the well hall pleasaunce fun day last sunday, ok ok it’s not on shooters hill, but the pleasaunce is a nice place to visit locally (apart from the so-called ‘relief’ road[1. Relief roads often turn out to provide little relief in the long run, although i did read somewhere that the rochester relief road had the completely unanticipated effect of reducing traffic trouble on shooters hill, although it’s obvious a new tube station would have given more relief than that brutalist monstrosity]), what with the newly refurbished tudor barn, and the most romantic (ex-)cinema around.

We join the story at the point where a policeman arrives to take mr punch to be hung for beating up his wife and child, only to get a beating himself. Luckily joey the clown arrives in time to save the day, following a bizarre interlude where the bexley basher and the woolwich walloper have a quick boxing match. The show was performed by award winning professor john styles, one of the grandest of them all. He introduced the show by explaining that mr punch hits people, and that anyone of a politically correct disposition might be advised to ‘clear off’ (twirl of the hand), which is curious because a lot of professors handle the domestic violence aspect of the show a bit differently; the guy at the plumstead make merry for example, who pulls of the tricky feat of modernising the show whilst keeping the tradition alive. The problems about violence were pointed out in advance, and the audience were invited to challenge punch’s behaviour. Also, it does have a happy end, mainly thanks to the crocodile, who eats mr punch’s stick, and nearly finishes off mr punch too, who then, having been resuscitated by joey the clown, realises the error of his ways and promises to turn over a new leaf.

This would have been better as a video as it includes lots of visual jokes, there’s the odd decent one on youtube, such as the weymouth beach version.

Punch and Judy by eshootershill

Ham Radio Summit

gb4sh cray valley radio society
GB4SH Cray Valley Radio Society
As we know, shooters hill is an excellent location for communicating wirelessly, and so the Bull plays host once again to an aptly named ‘summit’ for ham radio enthusiasts organised by the cray valley radio society:

The Cray Valley Radio Society are again being given on the 28th August 2010 the opportunity to operate from the highest point on their home ground which is also the highest point in South London

The Bull is the highest Pub in South London being situated at the top of Shooter’s Hill at JO01AL, WAB TQ47. It is, also, on a par with another non-functionning pub in North London.

It is 14 Km (~8.5 miles) SE of central London in the London Borough of Greenwich in SE18

Shooter’s Hill is the highest pt. in Inner London south of the River Thames It is 132 m (432 feet) asl. The highest pt in Greater London is Westerham Heights at 245 m (804 feet).

Because of its height the location has a long association with communications:

1585 – beacon chain site
1790’s – Napoleonic wars shutter telegraph site ( part of chain from admiralty to Sheerness and Deal)
21st century – communications site with numerous antennas and dishes on surrounding high buildings.

It is a local prominent landmark: at the summit a Victorian water tower can be seen for miles around London and surrounding counties

Cray Valley members operated from the garden of the Pub on the summit, this highest pub in inner London South of the Thames is at 127m (416.7 ft. Previously there was a pub on Hampstead Heath NW3 some 9m higher but that is now closed and the building has been redeveloped. The highest pub in Greater London is near Westerham Heights at 235m (771 ft).

The name of the area may be derived from an archers practice area. Later it became infamous for activities of Highway men ambushing travellers on the London to Dover Road that passes over the summit (the former Roman road Watling street). It was also the site of a gibbet!

There is a summit ‘folly’: – Severndroog castle (19m high) built in 1784 to commemorate Sir William James (East India Co) who, in 1755, attacked and destroyed the Indian island fortress of Suvarnadurg. The Castle is currently undergoing restoration.

The summit includes areas of ancient woodland: a nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) (Oxleas Wood, Jack Wood and Shepherdleas Wood)

On the eastern slope there is situated one of the last farmland areas of London : 36 Hectare (89 acre) Woodlands Farm Trust – it is open to public and is frequently visited by schoolchildren to view the animals.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society

Welling and District Model Engingeering Society
Welling and District Model Engingeering Society

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.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society