As if London and its history is a dream of Shooters Hill

Some time ago this site included a post on Evey Hammond, a fictional Shooters Hill resident from the graphic novel V for Vendetta. As it turns out its author Alan Moore has a special interest in the area, and wrote a piece of ‘psychogeography’ about Shooters Hill and one of its most talented residents, comic artist Steve Moore.

The piece is entitled Unearthing, and features in the 2006 collection “London: City of Disappearances”. The essay has since gone on to become an audiobook (excerpt above), a photobook, and a live performance.


Nic asks:

“I slept with the window open last night – I am sure at around 3am some light aircraft buzzed over the hill several times. Does that happen often? Whats it all about?”

Last night, a mysterious buzzing noise could be heard in the area at around 3am, and so we’re wondering if anyone might know what was happening. The area is certainly no stranger to curious flying machines, with numerous Helicopters, Aeroplanes and Zeppelins flying over the hill, usually not before 4am, so it would be interesting to hear from anyone who knows about night flights in the area? Do they happen even when everyone hasn’t got their windows open at night whilst waiting for a nice thunderstorm to come and clear the air.

Thanks, as ever, to stu for the photographs.

Ten vehicles per person

Last week @CleanAirLondon released the latest information in the ongoing campaign to improve London by improving its air quality. The campaign has two aims: firstly to reduce pollution by getting the government to control it more safely; and secondly to raise awareness of the growing evidence on the dangers of traffic pollution. Currently the main focus of the campaign is on diesel pollution, which is less harmful to the Ozone layer than petrol pollution, but more harmful to humans.

So now to the current report, which looks at the relationship between schools and roads. Presumably for reasons of accessibility, schools are often situated close to civic centres, public transport routes, and roads; often very busy ones. As well as revealing that local schools (Christchurch and Willow Tree) lie within 150 metres of roads carrying more than 10,000 vehicles per day, the investigation gives detailed information about the sheer amount of vehicles in the area: Shooters Hill Road carries 19,120 vehicles daily, John Wilson Street is on 21,625 a day, and Rochester Way takes 91,200. Considering that Shooters Hill has population of 12,854, this effectively means that for every person on the hill, there are 10 vehicles! Add this to the evidence that Rochester Way was the worst affected road during London’s April smog (along with the Old Kent Road), and it does look like the area could do with a bit of help in the fresh air department.

According to the campaigners, one way of improving the air in London wold be to introduce further low emission zones, which could remove the worst vehicles from London’s most polluted roads.

Fête accomplit

Following today’s midday downpour, which coincided with the start of the Eaglesfield park Fête, there wasn’t much water left in the sky, and the rest of the afternoon was mostly warm and sunny, hence the rather painful pun of a title for this post. The organisers of today’s event could be pretty pleased with how they avoided the worst of the elements today, and the crowd was a happy one.

The main bit of news today was that the Friends of Eaglesfield Park announced that their bid to restore the Lilypond has been a successful one, and they have secured the money required to complete the works, which will be going ahead this summer. As well as relining the pond, other park improvements will include better access at the Eaglesfield road entrance (i.e. a ramp), and better (less crumbly) paths. Improved signs may also be installed, which may help to encourage new visitors to the park.

The Lilypond itself is something of an historical gem according to local archaeologist Andy Brockman, who is investigating the hypothesis that it was part of an ornamental pleasure gardens attached to the old site of the Bull Inn. The Bull used to be a much larger enterprise, which would also have had much larger grounds in which guests could promenade and take in the country air and views of the surrounding counties. Thus, the Lilypond may have been enjoyed as an attractive water feature as long ago as the late 1700’s (due to Andy’s discovery of 18th century ceramics in the pond), and its reinstatement gives the local area something to be really proud of, continuity with its rich historical tradition.

In other park news…the proposed installation of gym equipment in the park remains an open question a year after the first round of consultations took place, with apparently little enthusiasm locally. Having seen the “legacy gym” in Oxleas Woods, a gaudy day-glo affair that mainly seems to get used by children, it’s apparent that such a thing wouldn’t blend so well into the surroundings. Having said that, the current swing park (built in 1994) is made of similarly unsustainable materials, and is the central feature of the whole park; so would a bit more metal and concrete really make such a difference to the overall feel of the park? And would encouraging exercise enthusiasts into the park be a price worth paying – provided they do actually come. This is aside from the fact that there’s apparently no contingency money to maintain these Olympic legacy gyms in the long-term, so this being the case, these gyms could end up being something of a blight on the public space if no-one steps in the care for them.

Eaglesfield Park Fête

eaglesfield park fête 2011

This Year’s flyer

It’s time for this year’s Fête, fortunately there’s no mention of the met getting their copper chopper out this time, as it was rather intimidating last year…besides, the Shooters Hill skies currently have plenty of flyovers anyway, such as the one by the fighter planes and our regular chinook fly-bys.

The organisers, the local neighbourhood watch group, are putting on this event for the fourth year running, and if it’s anywhere near as good as its predecessors it will be one of the best things on all year!

The fete opens at 1:30pm and closes at 4:30pm in Eaglesfield Park, Shooters Hill SE18. Activities include a birds of prey display, children’s entertainer, face painting, football, mini tennis, raffle and much more.

Borough Commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood, will be officially opening the fete at approximately 2:15pm.

Jenny Penn, Principal Co-ordinator, said: “We created this fete to promote the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch and celebrate the amazing community we have in Shooters Hill and it just gets bigger and better each year. This year we have more than 30 stalls and a wide range of entertainment.”

Mapping: Neighbouring Electoral Wards

Partly thanks to the bank holiday weather, various maps got made today.

These were made from a cache of open data stored by the democratising technologists over at mysociety. Among other things, they are responsible for the theyworkforyou website, which makes it easy to find out what MPs get up to. Over the last few weeks it’s been possible to learn that Clive Efford is extremely angry about the NHS fiasco, in fact he’s made himself heard in no uncertain terms, and it wasn’t just theyworkforyou that have been syndicating his speeches, but the radio four today programme – in case you were wondering, it was him asking the Lib Dems if they were going to have a spine and vote against the health cuts… He’s also been hot on the trail of the Localism bill, in particular with regard to how it affects the provision of enough allotments at an affordable rate, something that may have come to his attention as a result of the recent price hike introduced by the Local Authority (it’s quite possible that some people have complained to him about this and he’s investigating further). The story behind the increase goes like this: LBG allotments cost £80000 to administer; 15 sites (769 plot holders) currently provide £20000 in rentals, so the near fourfold price hike will make up the shortfall. In any case, under the Localism bill, it may be that some areas end up less allotments, and some with more, who knows?

Anyway, the mysociety people also provide a lot of mapping tools, and store all british political boundaries in digital form for free. Having got this great big national dataset, it took a bit of fiddling to extract local ward boundaries using R (also free). If you would like to do any mapping and with the local boundaries as kml or shapefiles please drop us a line.

The general idea was to use the maps to run comparisons between Shooters Hill and neighbouring wards using 2001 census data, and when the 2011 census comes out, some historical comparisons can follow.

View Shooters Hill Neighbouring Wards dwellings in a larger map

The first comparison is number of dwellings (i.e. postal addresses) in 2001. In comparison to neighbouring wards, Woolwich Common has the most, presumably because of the flats, whilst East Wickham (Bexley) has the least, more than a thousand less than any other ward. It’s quite a small area, and includes farmland and open space, and so it becomes clearer that comparing areas on counts rather than proportions might be a bit inappropriate, so mapping dwellings to land might be a better comparison to make, still it’s a start. The colour scaling is also a bit problematic, as the smallest measure is translated into zero colour, which stands out a bit more than it should…

View Shooters Hill Neighbouring Wards Population in a larger map

This map shows the number of people in each ward, compared (using colour scaling) relatively between these wards only. The lowest number of people was in East Wickham, and the highest in Plumstead, which suggests that some of the many flats in Woolwich common are either empty or have relatively few occupants.

View Shooters Hill Neighbouring Wards Average Age in a larger map

This map shows the average age of the population, and East Wickham comes out top for a change, with an average age of 40, whilst areas such as Shooters Hill have a lower average age, presumably as they have more young people, which pulls the measure downwards.

Well, that was the first attempt at doing some basic demographic mapping – and it’s not really conclusive, but it does certainly seem to show that the differences are strongest between the 6 wards in Greenwich and the 1 in Bexley, East Wickham, which has the least houses and people, and the oldest average age.

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.

Robyn Hood

According to Hall’s Chronicle, Henry VIII met Robin Hood on Shooters Hill in 1516 — When it comes to outlaws, Dick Turpin’s is the name most commonly mentioned in association with the Hill, but he’s nothing compared to the greatest of them all.


The king & the quene accopanyed with many lordes & ladies roade to the high ground of shoters hil to take the open ayre, and as they passed by the way, they espied a copany of tall yomen, clothed all in grene with grene whodts & bowes & arrowes, to the nuber of. Amaiyn e. jj Q Then one of them, which called him selfe Itobyn hood, came to the kyng, de.syring him to se his men shoote, & the kyng was cotent. Then he whisteled, al the. ii.C. ar- chers shot & losed at once, & then he whisteled agayne, & they like wyse shot agayne, their arrowes whisteled bycrafte of the head, so that the noycswas straunge and great, & muche pleased the kynge the quene and all the company. All these; archers were of thekynges garde and had thus appareled them selues to make solace to the kynge. Then Kobyn hood de- syred the kynge and queue to come into the grenc wood, & to sc how the outlawes lyue. The kyngdemaunded of y quene & her ladyes, if they durst aduenture to go into the wood with so many outlawes. Then the queue sayde, that if it pleased him, she was content, then the homes blcwe tyl they came to the wood vnder shoters hil, and there was an Arber made of boowes with a hal, and a great ch7iber and an inner chamber very well made & couered with floures & swete herbes, whiche the kyng muche praysed. Then said Kobyn hood, Sir Outlawes brekefastes is venyson, and therefore you must be content with such fare as we vse. Then the kyng and quene sate doune, iSc were scrued with vcnyson and wyne by Robyn hood and his men, to their great contcntacion.

The above text from the 1809 edition has been reworked a bit for a robin hood blog:

The King and Queen [Henry VIII and Queen Katherine] accompanied with many lords and ladies rode to the high ground of Shooters Hill to take the open air; and as they passed by the way, they espied a company of tall yeoman, clothed all in green with green hoods and bows and arrows, to the number of two hundred. Then one of them, which called himself Robyn hood, came to the King, desiring him to see his men shoot, and the king was content. Then he whistled and all the two hundred archers shot and loosed at once, and then he whistled again, and they likewise shot again; their arrows whistled by craft of the head, so that the noise was strange and great, and much pleased the King and Queen and all the company. All of these archers were of the King’s guard and had thus appareled themselves to make solace to the King. The Robyn hood desired the King and the Queen to come into the green wood, and to see how the outlaws live. The King demanded of the Queen and her ladies, if they durst adventure to go into the wood with so many outlaws. Then the Queen said that if it pleased him, she was content. Then the horns blew till they came to the wood under Shooters Hill, and there was an arbour made of boughs, with a hall and a great chamber very well made and covered with flowers and sweet herbs, which the King much praised. Then said Robyn hood, Sir, outlaws breakfast in venison, and therefore you must be content with such fare as we use. Then the King and Queen sat down, and were served with venison and wine by Robyn hood and his men to great contention.

Henry the VIII grew up in Eltham Palace, and spent a lot of time in south east London, so it seems quite plausible that he would encounter some hoodies whilst out hunting in the undergrowth, but a chance encounter with Robin Hood seems to be the stuff of legend somehow, mainly as Robin Hood’s turf was so far away. According to the blogger, this was an early step in the cleaning of the myth…Still, it’s a nice thought, and whilst the reverie continues, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone of Robin Hood’s naughty-but-nice calibre around today…he could go on swashbuckling rides down into canary wharf to get our money back from those latter day Sheriffs of Mottingham, the Sir Freds of this world.

Free school in the news again


The Free Schoolers

The proposed free school for the area was mentioned in the newsshopper today in an article by Mark Chandler which reveals that the growing population of the borough is putting pressure on primary school places, with apparently 300 pupils still without a school place for next September.

…Mum-of-two Mary Pfeiffer, who is setting up her own Shooters Hill Primary School of Arts, said she was surprised, having been told by the council that the borough had enough places.

She said: “This is something that frustrates me.

“One of the main reasons for wanting to set up the free school is parents have been having issues trying to get children into their choices.

“My children are now in Bexley – we couldn’t find a place in Greenwich for them to go.”…


Oddly enough, the population projections in the 0-5 age range for Shooters Hill Ward predict a decline in numbers over the 2001-31 period.


The borough wide projections tell a different story however, with an increase of almost 10,000 under 5’s in the 2001-31 period (despite a population fall recorded in the 2001 census).

In any case, the pressure on school places is going up, and with youngsters from across the borough coming to schools in Shooters Hill, the predicted reduction in numbers of local pre-schoolers will probably not aversely affect the case for the opening of the Free School, which will not have an explicit catchment area, and will in all likelihood take pupils from as far away as their families are prepared to make a school run.

Poetry by the Park

The lyrical (and poetic) content of Georgie, which were pasted and posted yesterday, gives something of a tenuous link to today’s story, the event of a local (well Greenwich) free Poetry performance, which is, in a roundabout way related to this area via a local contributor who sent this in.

Poetry by the Park flier.jpg (398×565).jpg

Poetry by the Park

The fortunate side-effect of posting this event is that it inspired a web search that revealed a bit of Shooters Hill Poetry: the romantic musings of Byron’s Don Juan as he approaches London:

Byron – Don Juan (1823)

So said the Florentine: ye monarchs, hearken
  To your instructor. Juan now was borne,
Just as the day began to wane and darken,
  O'er the high hill, which looks with pride or scorn
Toward the great city.—Ye who have a spark in
  Your veins of Cockney spirit, smile or mourn
According as you take things well or ill;—
Bold Britons, we are now on Shooter's Hill!
 Don Juan had got out on Shooter's Hill;
  Sunset the time, the place the same declivity
Which looks along that vale of good and ill
  Where London streets ferment in full activity;
While every thing around was calm and still,
  Except the creak of wheels, which on their pivot he
Heard,—and that bee-like, bubbling, busy hum
Of cities, that boil over with their scum:—