Woolwich Police Station

The entrance to Woolwich Police Station
The entrance to Woolwich Police Station

What has Woolwich done to deserve this? The Victorian post office has been demolished and its architectural adornments put into storage,  the 124 year old Woolwich Free Ferry is threatened with closure, as is the 126 year old Woolwich Fire Station and now there is a proposal to close Woolwich Police Station. The police station in Market Street is a comparative youngster; it was built in 1909 – 10, just 103 years ago, though there has been a police station in Woolwich since 1840 according to English Heritage’s amazing book about Woolwich.

The Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) have proposed closure of 65 police stations across London in their draft Estate Strategy 2013-2016 which has just been issued for consultation. This includes three out of the five Greenwich police stations, as shown on the map snippet below taken from the Guardian’s datablog: Woolwich, Thamesmead and Greenwich police stations would close leaving just Plumstead and Eltham in the borough. Plumstead would be the only 24 hour station in Greenwich, so I assume that means it will be the borough’s “Grip and Pace” centre. The what centre? In the Metropolitan Police’s own words:

The new model will also see the introduction of war room-style ‘Grip and Pace’ centres where senior officers will have daily conferences with key staff, armed with the latest intelligence and data to coordinate police activities and ensure all the right resources are being used in the right places at the right times.

The changes, as you might have guessed, are being made to save money – the aim is to reduce the cost of police buildings by 30% from £205 million a year to £140 million by 2016, but at the same time they will try:

To achieve these cost and space reductions whilst enhancing the opportunities for members of the public to meet with the police through providing more access facilities in buildings across both the MPS and wider public estates as part of the overall accessibility strategy to the MPS

The  justification for the cuts seems to be partly  that the public interactions with the police via a police station front desk have reduced compared to other ways of contacting the police, and also that the police are more distributed through the safer neighbourhood teams.

There are a series of consultation events covering these and other changes to London policing. In Greenwich this will be at King William Court, University of Greenwich Tuesday, 29 January, 2013 from 8.00pm to 9.00pm. You will need to register if you want to attend.

Snippet from Guardian Data Blog Police stations in London under threat of closure
Snippet from Guardian Data Blog Police stations in London under threat of closure

Woolwich Police Station is a Grade II listed building which was designed by John Dixon Butler who was then the Police Architect and Surveyor. Butler also designed the Magistrates Court on the opposite side of market street and a number of other police buildings throughout London, including Greenwich Magistrates CourtHackney Police Station, Shoreditch Police Station and Magistrates Court and Clerkenwell Magistrates Court. The Survey of London on Woolwich describes the Woolwich Police Station as “a strong example of Dixon Butler’s work and a subtly elegant expression of authority.” Its listing describes it as having a “restrained Queen Anne facade” and:

To Market Street, a wide and largely symmetrical frontage is of sixteen windows bays, organised into a five parts, with a steep gable with stone copings marking the end and central sections, between which are second floor dropped slated mansard roofs over a dentillated cornice. The ground floor has a deep ashlar band, the pedestrian entrance to the right hand side has an advanced ashlar entrance with ‘police’ inscribed in the frieze below the prominent cornice, and to the right an ashlar canted bay. Pair of front doors of panelled hard wood, and the stone architrave carries the 1910 date. There is a carriage entrance to the left side, this and the ground floor tripartite windows are under inset segmental arches. The carriage entrance is lined with glazed bricks, white above a brown dado. The first floor windows have exaggerated slender stone keyblocks. Rear elevation has irregular window arrangement, these under gauged brick arches, and a single storey flat-roofed extension. To the rear is a projecting cell block wing with gauged red brick arches over the sash windows; seven small cell windows, placed high, one replaced with taller window, these with small pane iron frames, chamfered stone heads and stone cills. Boundary wall to yard survives in part, but the former stable buildings to rear have been substantially rebuilt.

The listing also points out the particularly strong group value of the police station with the other Victorian and Edwardian municipal buildings of this part of Woolwich. The draft Woolwich Master Plan says of this  “Bathway Quarter”:

This area has a rich character which should be preserved though sensitive residential-led refurbishment with active uses at ground floor to create a distinct urban quarter. This area has the potential to be a high quality, high-specification, loft-style place with bars, galleries and artists’ studios together with other uses such as a jazz club and creative industries such as architect’s studios.

Hopefully this means the building will be preserved even if it is no longer a police station.

Woolwich Police Station
Woolwich Police Station
The Blue Lamp at Woolwich Police Station
The Blue Lamp at Woolwich Police Station

River Crossings

Councillor Denise Hyland at the launch of Bridge the Gap
Councillor Denise Hyland at the launch of Bridge the Gap

The debate about new river Thames  crossings for east London has tended to focus on the proposal to construct a new Silvertown tunnel next to the Blackwall Tunnel. Objectors are concerned that increasing tunnel capacity while leaving unchanged  the roads that feed the tunnels, such as the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach, will lead to an increase in traffic jams and hence an increase in air pollution.  A No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign has been started and has launched a petition against the tunnel.

However the proposal to replace the Woolwich Free Ferry with a new bridge at Gallions Reach could have an equally harmful effect on traffic and air quality in residential roads in the east of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and in neighbouring Bexley. The Google Maps snippet below shows roughly where the proposed Gallions Reach crossing would be sited (there’s an official picture in a previous post). How will traffic get to this new crossing? The consultation documents express the view that “any new tunnel or bridge at Gallions Reach would be likely to be used mostly by local traffic” because most A2 traffic would head for the tunnels at Blackwall and Silvertown, but there is no backup for this view. Just looking at the map it seems equally possible that A2 traffic would leave the motorway at the Bexley or Danson exits and cut across to the new crossing – through residential streets, down narrow Knee Hill or through East Wickham and Plumstead. This seems especially likely if for some reason the tunnel route is closed.

Google Maps snippet showing where the Gallions Reach Bridge would be
Google Maps snippet showing where the Gallions Reach Bridge would be

The Royal Borough of Greenwich Council is supporting the proposed new crossings, and prefers the option of a bridge at Gallions Reach rather than a ferry. Their Bridge the Gap campaign with Newham Council was launched today, without any trace of irony, near the 124 year old Woolwich Free Ferry which would be closed if the proposals go through. The council believe that building new river crossings is essential to promote economic growth in the borough and create jobs, and they also believe it will  reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. They are relying on Transport for London however for the detailed backup to the proposals such as a cost/benefit analysis and traffic modelling. At the launch Councillor Denise Hyland expected most traffic to approach a new Gallions Reach bridge via Western Way, and said she would oppose any future threat to Oxleas Wood from demand for additional traffic capacity between the A2 and the new bridge. I’m not so sure that future councillors would necessarily have the same opinion if faced with major congestion on small roads.

Having sat in traffic queues at both the Woolwich Free Ferry and the Blackwall Tunnel I can sympathise with drivers who have to cross the river regularly, but until some more detailed work has been done on the impact of the new crossing on traffic volumes, including the effect on minor roads, it’s not clear that the proposed new crossings will actually solve the problem and may even make it worse because new roads often lead to increased traffic volumes.

Opponents of the proposed crossings also came along to the Bridge the Gap launch, as you can see in the picture below and on the Kidbrooke Kite blog.

Objectors at the launch of the Bridge the Gap campaign
Objectors at the launch of the Bridge the Gap campaign

The Transport for London consultation on the proposals continues until 1st February and we can make any comments on the proposals until then using an online survey with just 14 questions, or by e-mail to rivercrossings@tfl.gov.uk.

Also the London Assembly Transport Committee  has arranged a seminar about TfL’s proposals next Wednesday, 9th January. Their e-mail about the seminar gave the details:

Seminar on River Crossings
We want to get people and organisations with different viewpoints to discus the need for additional river crossings in East London. A consultation, currently running, by Transport for London (TfL) is seeking views on options including a road tunnel between Silvertown and the Greenwich peninsula. It has also posed the idea of tolling the new tunnel and Blackwall Tunnel.
This seminar will provide an opportunity to discuss whether there is a need for new river crossings in London, and to consider what options might be needed to address any need for additional capacity. Expert guests (see below) will be invited to raise some of the key issues that need to be taken into account and there will be an opportunity for members of the public to put forward their views and opinions.
The guests who have been invited to take part are:
• Michèle Dix, Managing Director, Planning, TfL
• German Dector-Vega, London Director, Sustrans
• John Dickie, Director of Strategy and Policy, London First
• Richard Bourn, Traffic and Planning Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport
• David Quarmby, Chairman, RAC Foundation
The seminar will be held from 2-4pm on Wednesday 9 January in the Chamber at City Hall (nearest Tube at London Bridge or Tower Hill). All are welcome to attend. It would be useful if you are able to register your attendance: transportcommittee@london.gov.uk or 020 7983 4206.

London's Oldest Operational Fire Station

Woolwich Fire Station - London's oldest operational fire station
Woolwich Fire Station – London’s oldest operational fire station

I wasn’t aware of Woolwich fire station until recently when the story about the proposed closure of London fire stations was reported, and at about the same time it was mentioned by Peter Guillery in his talk about the Survey of London’s new volume about Woolwich. Peter said that  it was London’s oldest operational fire station, and that it was an architectural gem. He was right, it’s a beautiful building,  as can be seen in the photograph above, hidden away in Sunbury Street. It was designed by Metropolitan Board of Works’ architect Robert Pearsall who was responsible for many London fire stations, including Tooley Street, Bishopsgate, Stoke Newington and the West Norwood fire station which now houses the South London Theatre.

The draft of the Survey of London’s volume on Woolwich gives some background to the building:

Hidden away, this is London’s oldest fire station still in operational use (an older part of Southwark Station is a museum). Its architect was Robert Pearsall, working under Alfred Mott in the Fire Brigade Branch of the MBW’s Architect’s Department. The builders were Lonergan Brothers of Plumstead.  Few of Pearsall’s stations survive, but here his characteristic free-Gothic style still provides a striking profile, pinnacled buttresses leading the eye to tall chimneystacks and the prominent five-storey round watchtower, itself a rare survival. The polychromatic-brick façade incorporates ornamental terracotta spandrels and Portland stone dressings. Internally the engine room is open under composite iron girders, supplied by Archibald Dawnay. The staircase in the tower winds neatly round a matchboard-lined hose-drying cupboard. The upper storeys housed a mess room, bedrooms and apartments – twelve men were stationed here.

The British Listed Buildings web page gives a detailed description of the architecture with its “terracotta diapering in the spandrels” and “five-storey, round tower on an octagonal base”. The fire station was once the base for horse-drawn fire engines, as shown in this photograph on Flickr.

Robert Pearsall wasn’t just an accomplished architect. He was appointed a  life member of the British Museum in recognition of his work as an architect and artist, and served on “The Committee for the Survey of the Memorials of Greater London”. He was also a keen genealogist, contributing to a history and genealogy of the Pearsall family.

The current regime of austerity and budget cuts means that  our fire services are under threat in south-east London as well as our local health service, and Woolwich fire station is one of  up to 31 stations facing closure with the possible loss of 28 jobs. A London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) report models the impact of various options for saving up to £75 million from the London Fire Brigade budget. All the options include the closure of Woolwich fire station.

Since 2003 the number of fires in London has been decreasing each year, as can be seen in the graph below which combines data taken from two London Fire Brigade reports: long term fire trends for Greater London which provides data from 1966 to 2008 and a Quarterly Monitoring of Performance Indicators report which brings the data up to the end of 2011. Ironically part of the reason for this decrease in fires is the safety and campaigning work carried out by the London Fire Brigade.
Closure of Woolwich fire station is particularly annoying for Shooters Hill residents as one of the justifications for closing the Eaglesfield Road fire station was that there was another station just down the hill in Woolwich. If Woolwich is closed our nearest fire stations will be  Eltham and Plumstead. Intuitively it would seem safer to have more stations, maybe with fewer appliances, so that the stations were closer to people’s homes. The Fire Brigade have a target of getting a first fire engine to a fire within 6 minutes; the LFEPA report indicates that for the Royal Borough of Greenwich, where the Fire Brigade currently get a first appliance to a fire in an average of 5 minutes 28 seconds, the response time would increase by between 14 seconds and 1 minute  and 24 seconds in the six closure scenarios modelled, missing the 6 minute target in three of the six scenarios. Some boroughs fare even worse than Greenwich.

Another worry, though not a safety issue, is that Woolwich Fire Station has been identified as a “high value site” in the LFEPA report. I hope that doesn’t indicate that they are planning to do anything other than preserve this historic building.

Woolwich Fire Station – five-storey, round tower on an octagonal base
Woolwich Fire Station – five-storey, round tower on an octagonal base
Woolwich Fire Station – note the terracotta diapering on the spandrels
Woolwich Fire Station – note the terracotta diapering on the spandrels

Jazz at the Grand

Woolwich Grand Theatre
Woolwich Grand Theatre

Those of us who didn’t make it to the Jazz Evening at the Woolwich Grand Theatre last Friday missed a real treat, as you can see from the video below. The music was performed by the Nick Ereaut Band, who the Grand describe as:

Hosted by The Nick Ereaut Band with Rachel Bennett – Voice, Theo Erskine – Tenor Saxophone, Sam James – Piano, Nick Ereaut – Double Bass, Harry Pope – Drums
The Nick Ereaut Band formed early in 2012 and have since been taking on London with their unique sound. Their influences include Miles Davis, Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, Nik Bartsch, Ahmad Jamal and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They are currently planning a tour for January 2012.

I hear that they may be playing at the Grand again in the future. That will definitely be an event not to be missed.

Nick Ereaut Band Live at the Woolwich Grand

Survey of London 48: Woolwich – Talks and Exhibition

Greenwich Heritage Centre exhibition and event flyer

The launch of the Woolwich volume of English Heritage’s Survey of London will be marked by an exhibition at the Greenwich Heritage Centre and talks by Peter Guillery, Senior Historian at the Survey of London.

The free exhibition starts tomorrow and runs until 9th February, and there is a talk at the Heritage Centre tomorrow at 2pm – you need to book by phone (020 8854 2452) or e-mail (heritage.centre@greenwich.gov.uk) – and also a Greenwich Industrial History Society talk at 7.30pm on 20th November at the Age Exchange Bakehouse.

The book isn’t out yet, according to amazon it will be released on 26th November, but the draft version on the English Heritage website shows that it will be an essential source of detailed information for anyone interested in the history and development of the area. I’ve found lots of fascinating background information there already. The draft version doesn’t include any graphics, but we’re promised that the final version  “will be a fully illustrated book, with around 100 new drawings, a similar number of new photographs, and altogether more than 400 illustrations.” My only (slight) disappointment is that  it doesn’t quite cover Shooters Hill, just the parish of Woolwich (and that it’s an expensive book – maybe Woolwich Library will get a few copies).

I’m looking forward to hearing how the historians researched the huge amount of detailed information in the Survey.

Front cover of Survey of London volume 48 Woolwich on amazon.co.uk
Front cover of Survey of London volume 48 Woolwich on amazon.co.uk

Closing the Woolwich (Free) Ferry – New Consultation

Docked Woolwich Free Ferry at Sunset
Docked Woolwich Free Ferry at Sunset

Transport for London have started a new round of public consultations about River Thames crossings in the east of London – in particular proposals to build a new tunnel between the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown and a new, Gallions Reach,  ferry from Thamesmead to Beckton. If the new ferry is approved it would potentially mean closing the Woolwich Free Ferry. The consultation questionnaire also includes questions about the option of a new Woolwich Ferry and about building a new bridge at Gallions Reach.

The new crossings would be funded by charging a toll (about £2 for cars) for the new Silvertown tunnel and also for the existing Blackwall tunnel. The consultation documents don’t say whether any new ferry would be free.

The results of the previous consultation, last February, showed support for a Gallions Reach ferry, but not overwhelming support as the report says:

There was also support for the Gallions Ferry, with over 60% of online respondents supporting or strongly supporting the scheme, but a sizable proportion (14%) neither supported nor opposed it, and 20% opposed it.

Responses to question 8: To what extent do you support the proposal to replace the Woolwich ferry with a new, purpose-built ferry at Gallions Reach?
Responses to question 8: To what extent do you support the proposal to replace the Woolwich ferry with a new, purpose-built ferry at Gallions Reach?

I wrote about my own concerns about the proposals in February. Apart from the loss of a piece of our history,  I don’t think the issue of traffic flow to the new Gallions Reach ferry has been adequately considered. The consultation documents don’t present any data on this, such as traffic modelling, and seems to think that any crossing at Gallions Reach would mainly cater for local traffic. In discussing the proposal for a bridge instead of a ferry it says:

The proposed tunnel at Silvertown would provide a new alternative to the Blackwall tunnel, improving both the capacity and reliability of crossings in that part of London and catering for traffic travelling along the A2. Therefore, any new tunnel or bridge at Gallions Reach would be likely to be used mostly by local traffic. This, and the presence of alternative crossings to the west, mean that the scale of a bridge or tunnel here could be minimised, and we believe that two lanes in each direction would be enough. However, traffic volumes would be higher than with a ferry option, so careful traffic management would be needed to avoid increased delays around the crossing.

However there’s nothing to back up this view, and no consideration of the risk of  increased traffic on local roads through Shooters Hill, Plumstead and East Wickham as motorists attempt to cut through to the new crossing, not to mention future threats to Oxleas Wood, Woodlands Farm and Plumstead driven by demands for improved roads to the new crossing.

Comments on the proposals can be made using an online survey with just 14 questions, or by e-mail to rivercrossings@tfl.gov.uk.  TfL are holding a series of consultation roadshows about the proposals, including one at Woolwich Library on Saturday 15th December between 10.00am and 4.00pm.

We have until 1st February to submit any comments.

Ernest Bevin and John Burns' Daily Dance
Ernest Bevin and John Burns’ Daily Dance

The Woolwich

Equitable House
Equitable House

There’s been some good news about the regeneration of Woolwich recently, and some not so good news. Good that planning permission has been given to a development which will preserve the art deco Co-op building on Powis Street, not so good that there will be yet another betting shop in Woolwich, and that permission has been refused for The Woolwich,  a new, potentially transformational pub that pub chain Antic want to open in Equitable House.

The 853 blog covers the story about The Woolwich pub very thoroughly. Suffice to say that Antic seem to have a reputation for creating good, up-market pubs and they express sensible ideas about making General Gordon Square into a great  public space that is used by people at all times of the day and evening  – something we caught a brief glimpse of during the Olympics and paralympics – rather than mainly a pedestrian thoroughfare. They plan to reapply for a licence for The Woolwich, hopefully dealing with the council’s concerns about limiting noise impact from music events and possible problems from being in a “saturation area” where there are a number of other licenced premises.

111-113 Powis Street, former HQ of The Woolwich
111-113 Powis Street, former HQ of The Woolwich

“The Woolwich” building society was an important part of Woolwich life for over a century, and a key part, with the RACS, of the growth of mutualism in the area. I think it would be highly appropriate if its name could be preserved somewhere in the town, and nowhere better than in the former building society’s headquarters, Equitable House. Commemorating “The Woolwich” as a pub is also quite apt as it could be argued that the Society started in a pub. According to Collin Brooks’ book “The First Hundred Years of the Woolwich Equitable Building Society” the Castle Inn  in Woolwich was the venue in 1842  for the predecessor to the Woolwich – a terminating building society chaired by the pub proprietor, Mr Thunder. Terminating building societies were set up to build houses for all their members, after which they terminated. It was five years later, in September 1847 that a breakaway faction from this society formed the “permanent” Woolwich Equitable Benefit Building and Investment Association. However they moved away from the Inn, to what was then 145 Powis Street (later renumbered 131), and their first patron was a Dr John Carlile, Pastor of the Congregationalist Salem Chapel. They also had as president William Stuart, who was Surgeon to the Police, Surgeon to the Marine Society’s ship Warspite and also Public Vaccinator for Woolwich.

The Society was located at a couple of addresses in Powis Street, including offices they had built at 111-113, before the construction of Equitable House in 1934-5. Collin Brooks is very enthusiastic about the building of which he says “no photograph can do justice to so well-designed a structure”, but he reserves his greatest praise for the interior:

Its interior is remarkable for two qualities – spaciousness and quietude. Its executive rooms are lofty, dignified and well lighted. They are panelled in English oak, and their carved adornments are adequate but restrained.  The furniture and appointments of its rooms are of the same handsome but unostentatious quality.

The tone of the interior is, indeed, set by the entrance hall. One mounts the stairs from the street to an oblong plateau, very lofty, and very quiet, for here, as everywhere, a quarter inch rubber flooring muffles all sound. The row of cashiers’ grills which confront one, and the two sets of writing desks, right and left, facing them, are identical with those which  one would meet in a great New York banking house. High above the plateau runs a balcony of polished stone. No matter how much business is in process of transaction there is an air of quiet efficiency, an absence of fuss, an absence of confusion. The waiting client or inquirer on either of the two great twin walnut settles receives the impression of tremendous solidity, of skilled smoothness, of good taste – if a building can be said to be embodied courtesy this (he must think) is such a building. This plateau is known as the Banking Hall, and it was here, under the picturesque glass and metal roof, in the marble walls, between the silver grilles and the great walnut screen which divides the hall from the vestibule that the ceremonial opening of the building took place on Tuesday 14 May 1935. It was a ceremony honoured with the presence of no fewer than three of His Majesty’s ministers – the Viscount Hailsham, Secretary of State for War, the Rt. Hon. J.H. Thomas, Secretary of State for the Dominions, and the Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley Wood, the Postmaster General.

The Banking Hall is the proposed location for The Woolwich pub. I wonder if it still has the Hopton Wood stone walls  and  coursed and polished Derbyshire fossil skirting mentioned in the British Listed Buildings description.

Equitable House was a technological pioneer for its time, with all departments linked by telephone and a pneumatic chute for transporting pass books around the building. Its accounting department boasted thirty-nine book-keeping machines, developed in collaboration with the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, plus twenty-six calculating machines, forty-seven listing machines and four machines for cashiers to record cheques and cash. But what most interested visitors was the innovative way of notifying one of the twelve principals when they were wanted on the phone if they were not at their desk – their number would be illuminated on each of  the 46 electric clocks in the building. A method that only worked as long as there were just 12 directors.

There is an online petition asking the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council to grant Antic a licence for “The Woolwich”  here.

If ... Architecture's picture of the renovated art-deco Co-op building
If … Architecture’s picture of the renovated art-deco Co-op building

The Council’s decision to approve Dagmar Ventures Limited’s application to convert the Co-op building in Powis Street into 73 flats above ground floor retail space looks like very good news. The neglected art-deco building had been threatened with demolition, and even though the Woolwich Master Plan said that it “should be converted to high specification residential development” there wasn’t an approved,  funded plan to achieve this. Some compromises have been made; the horizontal window layers will be turned into balconies for the flats, and the building will be extended upwards by three storeys, though in such a way as to minimise the impact on the building’s tower. I was glad to see that the planning meeting stressed that “in particular that steps be taken to restore and replace the tiles of the external building in keeping with the geographical history of the environment”; one of the conditions of approval is that the Planning Authority has to approve the materials for the repair work to the outside of the building before work starts. Also plans showing how the staircase will be retained and incorporated into the development must be submitted and approved by the Council. The regeneration of the West end of Powis Street is starting to look optimistic; next step is to get the Granada Cinema restored as an entertainment venue!

Woolwich Betting Shops
Woolwich Betting Shops

Woolwich already has seven betting shops, and it now looks like there will be an eighth – there’s a notice in the window of the former Pizza Hut restaurant, next to Holland and Barrett saying that a licence for another Betfred betting shop has been applied for. That will make two Betfreds, two Corals, two Jenningsbets, a Ladbrokes and a Paddy Power in Woolwich town centre. According to a tweet by local councillor John Fahy there is little chance of stopping the increasing number of betting shops without a change in the law. This seems to be a problem affecting many town centres – for example the Deptford Dame blog documents the long battles of Deptford residents to prevent more betting shops being set up in their town centre. Not being a betting person I find it difficult to understand how so many betting shops in such a small area manage to make money. According to a Guardian article it is through so-called fixed odds bettting terminals (fobts),  which allow punters to bet up to £100 every 30 seconds and which make an estimated £297 million a year from problem gamblers. No more than four fobts are allowed in any betting shop, but they seem to be so lucrative that it’s worth opening another betting shop near 7 others in order to get another four fobts. The Deptford Dame includes a link to another online petition asking Eric Pickles to give local councils control over the number of betting shops in their area.

Although it’s not all good news I’m optimistic about the regeneration of Woolwich town centre, maybe because the Co-op decision is a sign that the Master Plan might be feasible. If you have views about the town centre’s development, Councillor Fahy has arranged a “Support the Woolwich Town Centre” public meeting at the Grand Theatre in Wellington Street at 6pm on the 23rd of October. And if you find the idea of a meeting about the town centre too frightening you could always book up for the Grand’s Halloween showing of the original Dracula film, Nosferatu, with a live piano accompaniment courtesy of James Buckham,  followed by a little ghost tour of the building.

Equitable House
Equitable House

Grand Events

Woolwich Grand Theatre from the Woolwich Centre
Woolwich Grand Theatre

A talk by actress Emily Lloyd and a screening of  “Wish You Were Here”, the BAFTA-nominated film that she starred in, kick off a regular series of events at the Woolwich Grand Theatre next Wednesday, 27th June. Emily Lloyd won Best Actress awards from the Evening Standard and the National Society of Film Critics for her role in the film, and was also nominated for the BAFTA Best Actress award. She later starred in the film “A River Runs Through It” directed by Robert Redford.

This is the culmination of a lot of work by the team at the Grand, including  a successful appearance before the Greenwich Council licensing committee and the sourcing and erection of a 20×25 ft cinema screen. The erection of the screen in the main hall by Woolwich Grand Director Adrian Green and volunteers  Scot and Sean is graphically described and pictured on the Grand’s Facebook page.

Adrian intends to host a regular weekly sequence of events at the Grand, as he says:

…. we will be holding the following in the Red Room:
Wednesday- Film Screenings and Talks.
Thursday- Cabaret/Quiz Evening.
Friday- Music Night with a mixture of bands and soloists.
Saturday- Comedy Nights including stand-up and sketches.
Prices for these events will vary, so please e-mail us at info@thewoolwichgrandtheatre.com to enquire about tickets. Tickets can be bought through our paypal account or at our box office.
We will also be holding larger events in main hall once a month and these will be announced on our website and Facebook page.

These will be great evenings and we look forward to seeing you there!

The talk by Emily Lloyd on Wednesday starts at 6.30pm and the  film screening at 7.00pm. Tickets cost £10.00 and can be bought on the door or by contacting the theatre by e-mail, info@thewoolwichgrandtheatre.com. Food is available and there’s a bar ’till 12.00. The quiz on the 28th is looking good too, previous music nights were excellent and I can recommend the lunches at the Arts Cafeteria.

Update: Adrian has now confirmed the other three events for next week on the Grand’s Facebook page:

28 June at 18:30  Quiz Night and Cabaret ?
29 June at 18:30  Live music
30 June at 18:30  Comedy open mic night
All in the  Red Room Bar at the Grand.

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 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/155818.
Edge of the City Gala leaflet

River Crossing Consultation Ends 5th March

Woolwich Free Ferry Ernest Bevin
Woolwich Free Ferry Ernest Bevin

If you think the the Woolwich Free Ferry should continue, or you think a Gallions Reach ferry would lead to unacceptable traffic problems, or if you object to a new tunnel at Silvertown, or if you want to make any other comments about Transport for London’s  river crossing proposals then you have until midnight of the 5th March to complete the consultation questionnaire.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Ferry could be gone by 2017 if TfL’s latest proposals on Thames crossings are implemented.

There seems be be strong affection for the Free Ferry; in the 2003 consultation about the Thames Gateway Bridge 76% of respondents thought the ferry should be kept open. As the TfL consultation key findings brochure says:

“ If the bridge would lead to the closure of the Woolwich Ferry, I would be strongly opposed to the bridge.”

Over three-quarters of respondents to this question (5,086 in total) said that the Woolwich Ferry should be kept open in some form.
3,537 people added comments to this question.
Many respondents said that they would oppose the bridge if it simply replaced the ferry.
The market research confirmed this finding, with 69% of respondents wanting the Ferry to be kept open.

The consultation on the new proposals is open until midnight on Monday. It only takes 5 minutes to complete – just 17 questions including the  age, ethnicity etc. questions – and allows you to say whether you support the new Gallions Reach ferry and Silvertown Tunnel.

Old Woolwich Free Ferry, or the future?
Old Woolwich Free Ferry, or the future?