Plumstead Make Merry Call for Volunteers and Stallholders

Conway School Maypole Dancers from the Plumstead Makes Merry website
Conway School Maypole Dancers from the Plumstead Makes Merry website

Plumstead make Merry are looking for volunteer event stewards and stall holders for this year’s event which will be held on Saturday 2nd June on Plumstead Common. They already have a brilliant set of acts lined up for their main stage and tea tent, with more to be announced. They are also looking for teams of no more than 10 adults to compete in their ‘Alternative Games‘ – an it’s-a-knockout style series of inflatable obstacle courses, funny and giant costumes, old-school style sports day races, and much more.

The organisers wrote:

The committee for the Plumstead Make Merry are pleased to announce that we are still taking stallholder bookings for the forthcoming Plumstead Make Merry on Saturday 2nd June from 12-6pm. We are continuing the ‘Best Dressed Stall’ award at this year’s event. Stalls will be judged on general display and promotion of yourself or organisation. We would like to encourage all stallholders to bring their own creative and artistic flair to the event. Previous events have shown a diverse representation of stalls, from community groups, local individuals and businesses, who all take part in the success of the event. You may wish to consider fundraising or promotion for your group through this medium. The lucky winner will be offered a free stall space for the 2013 event, a trophy, and the chance to be photographed for inclusion in press and publicity material. The deadline for applications is the 15th May 2012. More information and application forms can be found on our website, or call Holly on 07889 598343.

Additionally, we are currently looking for volunteers to help with the event. Being an Event Steward can be a great addition to you CV. If you would like to get involved we would love to  hear from you. Please email Wendy at or call her on 07818 236871.

About the Plumstead Make Merry
The Plumstead Make Merry is the longest running festival in the London Borough of Greenwich. From the very first recorded festival in 1978 on Plumstead Common, the festival has grown in size, amenities and diversity. This festival has continued annually, with one exception, in 2011. Due to a lack of funding from the London Borough of Greenwich as a result of  government cuts, the festival was replaced with a scaled down event called ‘Not the Plumstead Make Merry’.

The Plumstead Make Merry Association are a voluntary community  initiative that provides an annual festival of music, arts and activities for all of the local community. The festival provides a celebration of the history of Plumstead and a celebration of our diverse community. We are committed to celebrating our community.

Edge of the City Gala on Saturday

Edge of the City Gala leaflet

Plumstead Integration Project‘s (PiP) second Edge of the City Short Film Festival culminates on Saturday (28th April) at 12.30pm with their Gala and Awards Ceremony at the Tramshed Theatre in Woolwich. As their e-mail says:

On this special day we will celebrate the achievements of filmmakers, musicians, photographers, and other artists who have been participating in our project since November 2011.
Our project was then enabled by a small funding from Team London, Mayor of London and Reuben Foundation, which sponsored filmmaking workshops and regular film screenings, offered to the local community free of charge.
After five months of hard work we are going to celebrate all shortlisted films and announce the winners of the Second Edge of the City Film Festival 2012, alongside other shows from the local artists.
There is a packed programme for the event which includes  a photographic exhibition, a jazz act and a fashion show as well as a chance to see all the shortlisted films. The judges, film lecturer Prof. John Smith and independent film maker Jill Daniels will reveal the winning films at the awards ceremony at 9.20pm.
Tickets cost £6 or £3 for PiP members and are available from
Edge of the City Gala leaflet

Cabinet of Curiosities

The Mobile Allotment, designed by Lisa Cheung, which has been instrumental in developing Avant-Gardening's programme of activities. Named Most Innovative Growing Space on the website
The Mobile Allotment, designed by Lisa Cheung, at the Nightingale Estate

Arts and Environment project, Avant-Gardening, are looking for people who have stories to tell about their personal experiences of living in Greenwich to put in their Greenwich Cabinet of Curiosities. They are particularly searching for some of the lesser known and personal histories which add real colour to an understanding of the area. You can see some of their research so far on their tumblr blog. As they say in their project description:

The project aims to create a mobile archive and art exhibition that responds to the area through the voices of the people that live or pass through it; exploring hidden histories, folkloric tales and secret places, documenting the people and places of this diverse borough to capture a unique snapshot of the place, its people and its history. To help us achieve this aim we will be working with residents, schools and community groups to create a uniquely creative response to the borough and we need your help to achieve this. If you have any stories, home movies, photographs, loved places you want to tell us about or memories you are willing to share, please get in touch and we can arrange to come and meet you to document these stories for possible inclusion in the cabinet.

We are also looking for artists who have created Greenwich-related or inspired works that they would like us to consider for inclusion in the exhibition or to be documented in the cabinet itself. We are also interested in collaborating with like-minded artists interested in the environment, social and personal histories and psycho-geography.

Avant-Gardening is an artists’ collective led by artist Polly Brannan and project manager Paul Green, whose work investigates social spaces and the urban environment. Described as “artists in gardening gloves”, they have been going since 2008 and have completed a number of projects throughout London, and as far afield as Ethiopia. Their projects focus on environmental and sustainability issues and encourage the involvement of local people through workshops, community gardens and even a mobile allotment.

Nightingale Community Gardens Mini-orchard Banner
Nightingale Community Gardens Mini-orchard Banner

Another one of Avant-Gardening’s current projects is “The Place where Plums Grow” which aims to plant a number of small dwarf orchards in and around Plumstead, starting on the Nightingale Estate, reflecting the area’s history of orchards. The venture is a joint effort with the Welcare charity and the London Orchard Project:

“Starting in and around the community garden on Nightingale Estate we planted a small number of dwarf apple trees and ran a number of summer workshops with the children to raise awareness of the garden and fruit trees and their role in urban bio-diversity. This pilot project proved to be a great success and led to us developing the second phase of the project, to plant a wider variety of trees in the area and to encourage wider community participation.”

The next stage of planting takes place in a couple of week’s time on 16thFebruary 2012.

Blooming Barnfield Urban Farmers Guide
Blooming Barnfield Urban Farmers Guide

Avant-Gardening have also worked on the Barnfield Estate. Their Blooming Barnfield project during the summer of 2010 encompassed a wide range of activities, including a Barnfield Dream Team football challenge, Growing Stories workshops, the Big Avant-Gardening Lunch and a GPS walk around the estate looking for places for potential community gardens. All beautifully described in the Blooming in Barnfield Fanzine. One of the Avant-Gardeners also spent six weeks working with children at Plumcroft School on their allotment and arts and photography projects.

Last year Avant-Gardening started work on planning a project to create and plant a community garden on the Barnfield Estate.

For more information about Avant-Gardening, or if you have a story about local history to contribute to the Cabinet of Curiosities, contact Paul on e-mail: or telephone: 020 3239 9174

Not the Plumstead Make Merry

The talented reporters over at the In The Meantime Podcast are spreading the word about a Make Merry related event, which is to replace the cancelled festival with a relatively small pavilion party.

Not to be put off by the admittedly disastrous effects of the cuts on our local gathering (an event that I have previously described as jewel-in-the-crown of Plumstead’s social scene) the organisers are going ahead with a fun day at the Plumstead pavilion two-weeks-today.

See below for the more information:

As you are aware, there is no official Plumstead Make Merry festival this year. This is primarily due to central government cuts in local authority funding, which have meant that Greenwich Council have cut the funding on which the Make Merry has depended on for its infrastructure. So, instead of a festival this year, and to continue our fundraising efforts to ensure that we have a festival in 2012, there will be a ‘NOT THE PLUMSTEAD MAKE MERRY’ event on Saturday 11th June 2011 – the day the festival was due to take place. ??It will take place from 12 noon to 5pm, and will be held in and around the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common (Old Mill Road, London, SE18). And what’s more, it’s a whole afternoon of fun and entertainment for free! ??Please come along, with a picnic if you’d like to, at 12 noon where we will be joined by the Vicarage Road Tenants Association who are having their ‘Big Lunch’ on the Common. We will have children’s entertainers on-hand to keep the spirits high in this celebration of our community, including ‘Run Fun Starz’ who will be running Sports Day style events, and the ‘West Kent Boys Brigade’ who will have a bouncy castle. ??From 1pm the Plumstead Integration Project will be showing films in the Rugby Club of local interest; some will feature local stories and others are made by local people. ??From 3pm there will be live music and entertainment in the Rugby Club, featuring local acts including ‘Adam Tunji’, ‘Sarcastic Fringehead’, ‘John Morum’ and also ‘Brez’ (from The Outbursts) will be performing an acapella set, with more to be announced soon.??So please, add this to your calendar and come along for an afternoon of fun and entertainment. Please share this information, post the details to your ‘wall’, and tell your friends. We look forward to seeing you there!???

Do you want to take part?

?We are looking for performers to take part in this event. Specifically we are looking for comedians and acoustic music acts.?If you, or anyone you know, may be interested in taking part in the ‘Not The Plumstead Make Merry’ event, please contact the coordinator, Sarah Harper, by email at or leave your details on the following pages: ? note: Unfortunately we are unable to pay performers.???


?The committee is made up of local people who all volunteer their time and efforts for free, we do not make a profit, and proceeds from our tea tent and stalls are spent on staging, marquees, sound equipment and on providing free activities for children. ??The council did offer us £1k of funding to continue but unfortunately this did not meet the necessary target, and due to the late confirmation of this in our planning schedule we could not confirm that we would have enough stall bookings to raise the rest of the money. As a volunteer committee of local residents, we felt that it would be irresponsible of us to proceed on a ‘hope’ basis that could potentially leave us with outstanding invoices. We are a not-for-profit association and cannot take this risk.?

So, there we go, spread the word, hope to see you down there.

Edge of the City – Plumstead Film Festival

In a twist of serendipity, just as one Plumstead festival dies, another springs to life[1. the festival has another website too], thanks to the PiP.

The theme of the Festival, The Edge of the City, was chosen to evoke not only the idea of a geographical location, but a psychological state of mind. Our Festival has recognised the possibility of marginalisation of certain members of society who do not always have a voice, because of their ethnicity, age, disability, perceived social background, sexuality or income. These issues will be articulated in the selected films and discussed with filmmakers and their guests.

The festival will be a fantastic opportunity for the local community to interact with filmmakers, both amateur and professional and to enjoy a free cultural event in the local area. We have also developed this event to bring together members of the community. We will be inviting members of arts groups and institutions, local authorities, representatives of schools and community groups, and members of the press to attend and participate in our activities. We hope the network that is formed at this event will blossom into relationships that will benefit the local community and its representatives.

19th March 2011 – 2pm to 7.30pm: At St Patrick’s School Hall, Griffin Road, Greenwich, London SE18 7QG. This day is open to the public and is committed to screening documentaries and drama films other than those entered into the Festival competition. There will be a special screening of the film ‘Covered’ at 15.30 – documentary discussing the meaning of the scarf for women from different cultures. There will also be an opportunity to watch and be involved in a film editing process of a short drama Love in SE18.

20th March – 12pm to 7.00pm: At Tramshed Youth Theatre, 51 – 53 Woolwich New Road, London SE18 6ES. We will start at 12pm with screenings of shortlisted films, moving on to the awards ceremony at 2.30pm. At 4pm this year’s best films will be screened followed by Q&A’s with their directors. There will also be a special screening of the film ‘LOVE in SE18’ at the end of the day. The bar will be open throughout this event which will conclude with a networking party.

Plumstead UnMake Merry

Right, that’s it, Greenwich’s longest running festival has been cancelled. I know that conspiracy theories have been floated to the effect that the council are withdrawing support from community events as part of the cuts blame game, but as the organisers of the event acknowledged on the in the meantime radio show, the council has to make the vulnerable a priority now.

The fact that this event has been going since 1978 only to be stopped now just goes to show how severe the cuts are; and as one of the important elements of ‘social glue’ that binds the fabric of Plumstead society together, the make merry’s loss is also our loss.

Despite this, the rallying of local people to bring back the festival in 2012 has already begun, and a benefit gig on the evening of the 16th of April at Plumstead Pavilion has been arranged as the first step on the way to the future. According to the newsshopper report, the council have offered to try and help with applying for lottery funding, as they begin to concentrate investments in potentially lucrative projects such as the forthcoming greenwich summer sessions.

Here’s the full statement from the organisers:

It is with great disappointment and regret that the organising committee for the Plumstead Make Merry have to announce that there will not be a Make Merry on Plumstead Common this year. Due to central government cuts in local authority funding, Greenwich Council have been forced to cut the funding on which the Make Merry has depended on for its infrastructure. The committee is made up of local people who all volunteer their time and efforts for free, we do not make a profit, and proceeds from our tea tent and stalls are spent on staging, marquees, sound equipment and on providing free activities for children.

The Plumstead Make Merry has been held on Plumstead Common every year for the last 32 years. It is the most eagerly awaited local event, and the longest running event in the borough. Last year, over 6,000 people visited the festival. We, the Plumstead Make Merry Committee are devastated that there will not be a festival this year, and we know that we are not alone in this feeling.

The Plumstead Make Merry is an important event in the community calendar. We provide a unique opportunity for local charities, voluntary organisations and small businesses to raise awareness of the services, products, information, advice and guidance that they have to offer. As well as this, the Plumstead Make Merry strives to ensure that everyone in our diverse community has the opportunity to be involved. Our funding cut will have an impact on everyone that lives in Plumstead, and beyond.

The Plumstead Make Merry is a celebration of our vibrant, talented and diverse community and will be a great loss to thousands of people. Generations of families have attended the event but due to our lack of funding will not be able to do so this year. The summer of 2011 in Plumstead won’t be the same this year without the Plumstead Make Merry.

However, we will rise above the cuts. We could spend our time and energy complaining about the cuts and campaigning against them – but we won’t, there are many other cuts happening within the borough and nationally, instead, we are dedicated to ensuring that a Make Merry will take place next year. We are appealing to you, the community, to help us.

Throughout the year we will be fundraising and making sure that the Plumstead Make Merry stays in the hearts and minds of local people. Don’t forget the Make Merry, it’s an event put on by local people for local people, it is your celebration of our community.

We are determined to show that the community is bigger than the cuts, and that we can survive. We appeal to everyone to support our fundraising events so that the 2012 Plumstead Make Merry will go ahead, whatever happens with the budget cuts.

We have a great night of entertainment planned for Saturday 16th April 2011 when the ‘Benefit Bash for the Plumstead Make Merry’ will take place in the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, (Old Mill Road, London, SE18). Entry will cost just £5 at the door and all proceeds will go towards supporting the festival. There will be live music, karaoke, disco and fun and games. The fun starts at 7:30pm, and we hope to see you all there!

The next event is on Saturday 11th June 2011 – the day the Plumstead Make Merry was due to take place. It will also take place at the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, and for a small donation of £5 you can expect a day and evening of non-stop entertainment.

Plumstead Make Merry

As community spirits go this weekend probably marked the high point of the year, with the Plumstead Make Merry yesterday and the farm’s summer show today, and I went along to both to see what was going on, but my computer’s battery is just about to run out, so here’s a few thoughts on the make merry for now.

Unfortunately I missed a lot of the early action, and can’t confirm if the man who does a fantastic punch and judy with incredible sound effects who also doubles up as a balloon contortionist was there – I fear not. The terrifying clown was also possibly not there, and neither were the blackheath morris men, so my expectations were dampened a bit.

However things obviously change at these events, and there were some great newcomers too: including Stepz School of Dance, who were promoted on this site in winter, and have been successful so far and are now offering evening classes on Wednesdays at St Josephs on Herbert Road.

It was also nice to see Mariama Samba a promising local singer songwriter who recently supported Youssou N’dour at the dome as well as winning a ‘Spirit of London’ award. She’s so charismatic that by the end of her show a spontaneous crowd of admirers gathered around her on stage, and she thanked them all for being her new backing dancers.

Speaking of award winners, the multi award winning Plumstead Common Environment Group had a nice stall there, selling attractive postcards and giving out copies of their quarterly newsletter. It’s a full colour printed and bound publication and alone justifies the annual membership fee of £2/4, and demonstrates very effectively how their care of public spaces has benefited the area – they have also produced an excellent glossy book. It’s not all good news from them though, and things take a turn for the worse when they describe the limited resources and motivation of the council and police when it comes to littering, dog control orders and vandalism. The group were also promoting the newly released third volume of colin weightman’s plumstead-stories, a collection of reminiscences and pictures, which comes ‘sprinkled with nostalgia’.