Local Enthusiasms

English Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee fancy dress parade in Eltham Park South
English Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee fancy dress parade in Eltham Park South Doggie Fun Day

From books to Bull Terriers, via  ukuleles, steam trains and a dipping pond: an eclectic set of personal passions were on public display last weekend on or around Shooters Hill.

The weekend started on Friday with the official opening of the Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond. Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote describing the event:

On Friday 15th June Friends of Eaglesfield Park wanted to share and celebrate with our local community that the once lost and forgotten pond has been restored into a wonderful wildlife pond with a dipping platform that hopefully will now become a focal point for visitors to the park. To Commemorate the opening The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich officially “cut the tape” and opened the gate to the dipping platform. We certainly won’t forget which year the restored pond was opened – 2012 (we became the Royal Borough of Greenwich, The London Olympics and The Royal Diamond Jubilee!). The day will also hold a further significance for several children who tried out our pond dipping platform. They received a unique certificate to commemorate they were part of the opening ceremony and among the first people (children or adult !) to use the pond dipping platform.

Opening the Eaglesfield Lilly Pond
Opening the Eaglesfield Lilly Pond

Although our large marquees would have provided shelter, we were indeed lucky to have good (well reasonable) weather and our planned celebrations opened in true carnival spirit with the children of Plumcroft and Christ Church primary schools in vibrant costume and displaying their considerable drumming and dancing talents. We would like to thank TARU Arts, a local Woolwich based community Arts Project, for the great job they have done working with the local schools in the lead up to this event and in organising the festivities. Of course we would also very much like to thank the Staff and children from Plumcroft and Christ Church Schools for taking part with such enthusiasm.
Throughout the day TARU provided drumming and hat making workshop opportunities and face painting for the children. Add to this a vibrant Brazilian Jazz Band and Zumba dancing and the aroma of delicious spicy food provided by Guarida Community Cafe, we indeed enjoyed a festive celebration. Who needs sunshine anyway!
The wildlife pond area looks wonderful and we would like to say thank you to the “diggers and gardeners” for their time and enthusiasm (and tools!) for helping to create the wildlife meadow surrounding the pond. The pond is already attracting tadpoles, small frogs, water skaters, leech, newts and, as yet, unidentified “bugs” and visits from two mallard ducks. The wildlife flower seeds have been sown, but it is next year that we can expect a colourful display.

Following the enthusiastic drumming and dancing on Friday, a different enthusiasm was on display early on Saturday morning in the bibliophilic queue at the Church of the Ascension in Blackheath for the Amnesty Blackheath & Greenwich Book Sale. The technique adopted by the most sadly enthusiastic is to grab an old cardboard box and quickly fill it with as many books from your favourite sections as you can and then to sit at the altar end and  sort through them to decide what you really want. My more modest selection included Jon Snow’s “Shooting History”, which I was really pleased to discover later at home  had been autographed by the author. I’m looking forward to seeing Jon in conversation with some of the Elders at the Barbican next week.

Later at the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch  2012 Annual Community Fete there were opportunities to join in a very wide range of local enthusiasms, such as sporting (Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club, Shooters Hill Golf Club, Woolwich and Plumstead Bowling Club), Conservation (Woodlands Farm, Shrewsbury and Eaglesfield Park Friends‘ Groups, pond dipping) and historical (Shooters Hill Local History Group, Severndroog Castle Preservation Society) together with a strong contingent from the Metropolitan Police. Entertainment was provided by The Fleas Ukulele band. Unfortunately I had to leave when the bagpiper started.

Bull Terrier in fancy dress
Bull Terrier in fancy dress

A gentle walk across Oxleas Meadows and through Shepardleas Wood took me to Eltham Park South, where the Doggie Fun Day was in full swing. The highlight was the Bull Terriers Diamond Jubilee  fancy dress parade and competition. I felt slightly sorry for the indignity suffered by the dogs in their imaginative costumes ….  such as a jousting horse, lots of England football fans and a Sherlock Holmes complete with waxed jacket and deerstalker hat. Sherlock suffered added indignity when the compere announced that he had come as a tramp. The well-deserved winners of the competition, and the Jane McInnes Trophy cup, were a pair of English Bull Terriers dressed up as pearly king and queen. There was a special commendation for a bull terrier who entered as a very convincing chihuahua (in fact I think it was an actual  chihuahua pretending to be a bull terrier pretending to be a chihuahua).  The competition included Bull Terriers rescued by Absolute Bull Terrier Rescue.

Finally, Sunday was one of Welling and District Model Engineering Society’s  public running dates. The WDMES is a group of enthusiasts for model steam trains, many of them former engineers who build the model trains themselves, fabricating the precision-engineered components necessary for the steam engines. On the public running day engines of varying sizes are put through their paces, but the main attraction is to ride on one of the trains on the 1268 feet 3.5″ and 5″ gauge raised steel track.

Welling and District Model Engineering Society  public running
Welling and District Model Engineering Society public running

What a very varied set of enthusiasms and enthusiasts!  There are more photographs on the e-Shootershill Flickr site.

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

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.

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.

Spitfire steam train coming through falconwood station

Judging by the relatively large amount of visitors this website receives via its post on the falconwood model railway[1. Welling and district model engineering society], it seems that there is much enthusiasm for steam trains in these parts, and so it gives great pleasure to announce[2. Thanks to 853, ianvisits, and event sponsors sheperd-neame, the journey itself is being run as part of a two day hop festival in faversham this weekend.] that this train will most likely be passing through falconwood on it’s way to kent having left london bridge at 0955 on sunday september the 5th and due to arrive at faversham at 1145. The train is expected back at london bridge at 2000, but it’s coming back a different way.

I say most likely going through falconwood station as the journey is advertised as passing bexleyheath, which is on the same tfl line as our station, whether or or not the same goes for special services I’m not sure. As a provisional guestimate, and pending the actual departure times, I would reckon that the train might come through the falconwood at around 1015-1100.


London, Midland & Scottish Railway "Black Five" No. 44932 (this is not at falconwood by the way)

Ringway 2

Ringway 2 Proposed Route
Ringway 2 Proposed Route
A recent discussion over on plummy mummy’s website, has reawakened my interest in the incredible story of the long (and so far successful) struggle of the residents of south east london against the urban motorway planners that just will not go away: the creators of the dreaded ringway2/elrc/tgb historical trilogy of vastly unpopular road building schemes.

In an effort to win favour with the people, the proposal has actually been watered down each time; starting out from a bold 1960’s dream/nightmare of a three carriageway bypass running through oxleas wood, the blueprint was gradually scaled down, ending up with the most recent suggestion that through-traffic could simply drive down residential streets to access the so-called ‘local’ bridge that the tgb was supposedly going to be.

Well, thinking back to the state of play in the 1970’s, if you are curious which parts of the area would have been concreted over if ringway2 been built, there is a website that can demonstrate! A motorway enthusiast, who runs an online road directory has painstakingly researched the history of the London Ringways, and has produced an accurate map showing what the route would have been. [click on the image to zoom].

Falconwood is on the TfL Map

Falconwood on the TfL Map
Falconwood on the TfL Map

Part x in an occasional series on maps. This little beauty came via the mighty 853, who reported on the forthcoming oysterisation of overground train fares in this neck of the woods. Local stations are now included on arguably one of the all time classic maps, the present day version of the London Underground map, a.k.a the integrated TfL map. As you can see we have the blue line (charing x and canon st), and the green line (victoria) – I would have preferred primary colours myself, but they were all spoken for… I’m not mad on the parallel lines either, as they look a bit hollow, but I’m guessing the designers were trying to differentiate the overground services by tapping in to how people visualise train tracks.

In Mr 853’s post, the title of which contains the phrase the “great train robbery”, he also notes that fares are set to rise, let’s have a look:

  • Currently: A so called anytime single to London Terminals from zone 4 stations is £3.70, with peak/off-peak returns at £6.20/£4.70 respectively, (for all the confusing details about zone 1 connections, daily cap changes, changes to peak times etc see his pricing post) or the full proposed pricing document.
  • Presently: Comparative trips using oyster fares will cost £3.10/£2.30 (peak/off-peak) single, this is already significantly cheaper than £3.70!). Return prices will vary a bit depending on the time of travel (e.g. the dreaded afternoon peak from 4-7pm), but let’s consider a pleasant scenario for the sake of optimism: a nice little day trip to trafalgar square on a sunny weekend in january, with no onward connections from charing x: this will cost someone over 16 £4.60, which is actually cheaper than current fares by 10 pence.

There are various catches that even out the price differences, such as the premium train users pay if they connect with other TfL services in Zone 1, and apparently season ticket holders are going to pay extra, and there are further criticisms of south eastern trains in particular for not going above and beyond the call of duty by making eco-friendly travel to bluewater more accessible (as has been done for lakeside), but overall, it’s good to welcome in these long overdue changes.

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