Cottage Hospital to Castlewood

Cottage Hospital
Woolwich, Plumstead and District Cottage Hospital

The hoardings around the former Cottage Hospital on Shooters Hill have come down, revealing a restored and spruced up Queen Anne style house where not so long ago there was a boarded-up, vandalised wreck. Like other nearby historic buildings such as the Police Station and the Royal Military Academy, the Cottage Hospital has been transformed into housing by combining a converted and restored old building with new houses and flats. The picture at the top shows how it looked in its heyday, and that at the bottom how it is now – post-restoration and conversion.

I love maps, especially old ones, so it was fascinating to see the history of the building illustrated in a sequence of 6 maps from 1869 to 1991 in a “map regression” presented by developers Turnhold in their Supporting Statement for the planning application. The maps clearly show the hospital develop from its original T shape with the addition of wings and annexes over the years. The statement also contains an interesting set of photographs of the building before it was restored. The early history of the hospital is described on the Lost Hospitals of London website:

The Woolwich, Plumstead & District Cottage Hospital was founded in 1888 by Mr. William Woodford, who remained its Honorary Secretary until 1912.

Memorial stone at Castlewood
Memorial stone at Castlewood

A half-acre site on Shooters Hill was leased from the Secretary of State for War in December 1888 and the foundation stone for the building was laid by the Duke of Cambridge in September 1889.

The Hospital opened in November 1890. The 3-storey building contained 12 beds, two of which were reserved for private patients.

By 1912 the Hospital had 12 beds and 2 cots. Schoolchildren referred by the LCC for removal of tonsils and adenoids accounted for a great number of admissions. The Hospital also undertook herniotomies and minor operations. Out-patients were also seen, although there was no formal Out-Patients Department.

The Cottage Hospital buildings stopped being a hospital in 1928 when patients were transferred to the newly opened War Memorial Hospital further up Shooters Hill.

English Heritage have recently released a draft of Volume 48, Woolwich, of their Survey of London. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in local history, and covers the story of  Woolwich in marvellous detail. It’s a pity it doesn’t cover more of Shooters Hill, but Chapter 10 does bring the story of the Cottage Hospital up to date:

The cottage hospital was adapted as a training school and home for nurses. After subsequent use as a carpenters’ workshop, in 1962 Bexley Hospital extended and reopened the premises as Castlewood Day Hospital. Final health-service use in the 1990s was as the Signpost Castlewood Centre, for the rehabilitation of teenage drug-users. Turnhold Properties acquired the disused hospital and, after a period of dereliction, the buildings were converted in 2011–12 for Family Mosaic, a housing association, with the Hill Partnership as developers and contractors. Forge Architects supplied designs, with details and subsequent work by Saunders Boston, architects. The result was Castlewood, a complex of five flats and six houses incorporating a new pale-brick terrace to the rear, of two and a half storeys.

So the building’s name is now Castlewood, presumably because it was once the Castlewood Day Hospital. Not to be confused with the mansion named Castlewood, shown on 1914 and earlier maps, which once stood in Castle Wood to the south of Severndroog castle, or another former mansion, Castle House,  home of Major Charles Phillips who donated the land for the War Memorial Hospital.

Former Cottage Hospital
Former Cottage Hospital today

Eaglesfield Gardeners

Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond March 2012
The Lilly Pond March 2012

There was an excellent turnout of gardeners to help plant a wildflower meadow at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond; there must have been between more than 20 people (of all ages) at different times. The gardeners, led by the Friends of Eagesfield Park, transformed the area round the pond, clearing, raking and preparing the ground and planting British wild flowers and seeds. There is still a some work to do to complete the meadow, and the friends are planning to reconvene next Sunday at 10.00am.

Madeleine from the Friends e-mailed me with more details:

Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) and supporters had a really successful and productive morning on 25th March – clearing, digging and thorough weeding of the area around the newly restored pond. We achieved a great deal – planting wildflower perennial plug plants and sowing a mix of wildflower meadow plants. We are really grateful to everyone for their hard work and are looking forward to seeing the results in the summer. It wasn’t all hard work though! It was a good opportunity to meet and chat to park users.
However, we still have quite a lot of preparation and planting to do. We are therefore meeting again on Sunday 1st April 10.00 am – 12.00 noon. All offers of help would be much appreciated. At the moment FOEP do not have any tools, so if you can join us, it would be helpful if you could bring your own tools (particularly Long Handle Garden Fork/Spade, Rake (not a lawn rake), hand trowel. Don’t forget to wear old clothes, wellies and bring some gloves.
We are always looking for new members and would welcome comments about the pond restoration and any other aspects of Eaglesfield Park.

Friends of Eaglesfield Park Wild Flower Garden Poster

The plants that the volunteers planted were  from British Wild Flower Plants, whose catalogue has pictures of the mature plants,  and included:

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium).  Height 10-45cm. White or pink flowers June-August. Attractive to butterflies and bees. A common plant of meadows and pastures, grassy banks, hedgerows and waysides. Food plant of the Essex Emerald, Lime Speck Pug, Wormwood Pug, Straw Belle and Ruby Tiger Moths.

Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria).  Height 30-60cm. Golden yellow flowers June to October. Native to hedgebanks, roadsides and edges of fields. Seeds loved by Finches.

Red Valerian (Centranthus Ruber). A perennial of sunny sites, especially found in places such as the  base of sunny walls. Height 30-45cm. Red, or less commonly white, flowers June to August. Introduced from Southern Europe, and naturalised especially in the West Country. Excellent nectar plant. Food plant of the Large Ranunculus Moth.

Basil (Clinopodium vulgare).   Height 15-35cm. Rosy pink flowers all July-September. Will grow well in grass for a flowering lawn. Excellent nectar plant that will withstand drought.

Dropwort (Filipendula vulgaris).   Height 20-40cm. Pretty cream and pink flowers May-August. Excellent nectar plant. A dwarf version of Meadowsweet for dry sunny soils. Food plant of the Scarce Darter Moth and the Brown Spot Pinion Moth.

Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum). A perennial for sunny sites Low growing spreading ground cover. Stems 15-40cm. Yellow flowers July-August, then black seeds into autumn. Food plant of the Elephant Hawk Moth, Gallium Carpet Moth, Plain Wave and Riband Wave Moth, Oblique Striped Moth, Bedstraw Hawk Moth, Archer’s Dart and Red Chestnut Moth.

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis).   Height 30-60cm. Pale blue flowers July-September. A good butterfly nectar plant. Food plant of the Marsh Fritillary and the Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth.

Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).   Height 30-45cm. White flowers May-October. A common plant of grassland, which will grow magnificently on fertile soils. A good nectar plant attracting both butterflies and bees.

Marjoram (Origanum vulgare). 30cm stems of pink flowers August – September above rosettes of aromatic leaves. Much sought by bees and butterflies. Attracts the small copper butterfly in large numbers. Use as a herb in Italian cookery. Food plant of the Black Veined Moth and the Lace Bordered Moth.

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris).   Height 10-30cm. Red-purple flowers June-September. Found in lawns where constant cutting will give flowers all summer. A good nectar plant.

Sorrel (Rumex acetosa).  A perennial for sunny sites. Height 30-50cm. Red-brown flowers May-June. Food plant of the Small Copper and Blood-vein White Butterflies. Plant with Marjoram for a ‘nectar fix’ when Small Coppers are passing and they’ll stay! A good salad leaf.

Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca).   Height 30-45cm. Violet/blue flowers June- August. Native of dry pastures and roadsides. Rich in nectar and pollinated by bumblebees. Food plant of the Twin-Spot carpet moth.

Globeflower (Trollius europaeus). Perennial of northern meadows, forming clumps of shiny green leaves and flowering from late may through the June. Lemon yellow globular flowers. Food plant of the Sweet Gale Moth.

It should be fabulous when the plants mature and flower.

I’ve added the photograph at the top to the sequence on Flickr showing the transformation of the Lilly Pond.

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 15th April

Lambing Day 2012 Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympic Torch Route

Olympic Torch Route on 21st July
Olympic Torch Route on 21st July

London 2012 have announced the street-by-street route that the Olympic Torch Relay will follow in the weeks leading up to the games. They will be in Greenwich on Saturday 21st July, starting at 07:21, passing the Royal Observatory and Meridian Time Line at 07:42 and getting to the Woolwich ferry by 10.10. As can be seen on the snippet from London 2012’s map above, the route near Shooters Hill takes them along Eltham High Street, Westmount Road, Well Hall Road, Academy Road, Woolwich Common, Grand Depot Road, John Wilson Street and Wellington Street.

London 2012  have also named 7,300 of the 8000 torch bearers, including  23 people ranging in age from 11 to 81 years old who will carry the torch through Greenwich on the 21st. There will be an  average of 115 torch bearers a day carrying the flame. London 2012 also revealed the uniforms that the torch bearers would wear, which they described as follows:

The primary colour is white with gold shards accenting the energy of the Olympic Flame at the shoulder and neckline. Multiple gold shards are used at the elbow to focus the eye on the arm, with a final shard continuing down to the cuff and the hand holding the Torch.

One of London 2012’s photographs showing the uniform is included below.

I’m sure there will be lots of people lining the road as the torch passes on the morning of 21st July.

Dates for the diary 2: Crossness Public Steaming Days

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

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

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

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

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

The dates currently agreed are as follows:

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

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

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

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

There are more photographs on Flickr.

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

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

Welling and District Model Engingeering Society

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

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

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

Easter Holiday Activities at Woodlands Farm

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

Woodlands Farm Activities Easter 2012

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

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

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

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

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

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Forshaw on

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

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

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

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

Lleyn sheep at Woodlands Farm
Lleyn sheep at Woodlands Farm

There are more pictures of animals at Woodlands farm here.

Infrared Photography Exhibition at Queen Elizabeth Hospital

My first solo exhibition
Andy Linden’s Exhibition Poster

I wandered up to the elixir Gallery run by Verve Arts at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital while waiting for an appointment this morning, and was totally (but pleasantly) gob-smacked by the exhibition of  infrared photography by Andy Linden that is currently on display there. A poster by the exhibition describes it:

Andy Linden is a member of the Aperture Woolwich Photographic Society, he has lived in the local area all his life and been a photographer for 30 years. He is also a member of the Royal Photographic Society and gained the distinction of Licentiateship (LRPS) in 2009.

All the pictures in the exhibition were taken using an SLR digital camera that has been converted so that it is sensitive to the infrared (non-visible) part of the spectrum.

Leaves and foliage strongly reflect infrared radiation, so they usually appear bright in an infrared photograph. The majority of these pictures were taken in and Greenwich Park and the surrounding areas. They have been post-processed in Photoshop to produce the tones that appear in the final prints.

There are more infrared photographs by Andy Linden on his Flickr site.

The exhibition is well worth a visit. It ‘s free and it runs until 13th May.

1857 The Royal Observatory
1857 The Royal Observatory by Andy Linden

Help Plant Wild Flowers at Eaglesfield Lilly Pond

Friends of Eaglesfield Park Poster
Friends of Eaglesfield Park Poster

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park are looking for help to create a wild flower meadow around the new pond in Eaglesfield Park on Sunday 25th March from 10.00 to 12.00. As their poster, pictured above, says: all are welcome. This is the latest stage in the Friends’ refurbishment of the Lilly Pond which started last November.

With the luck the 25th will be blessed with the same beautiful spring weather as we have at the moment, unlike last month when I took the latest in my series of photos of the changes in the pond. I’m looking forward to taking a more colourful one when the wild flower meadow grows up.

Eaglesfield Park Pond in the Snow
The Lilly Pond February 2012

Corky Fruited Water Dropwort

wikipedia commons image of the Corky Fruited Water Dropwort
wikipedia commons image of the Corky Fruited Water Dropwort

The Corky Fruited Water Dropwort (Oenanthe pimpinelloides) has been getting a lot of press in the last couple of days. It would appear to be the only barrier preventing deployment of a Rapier Missile Battery near the cafe in Oxleas Woods. The plant mainly grows in the west country, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire but also in a few places around London. My New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora says it is a “tuberous perennial herb, found in hay meadows and pastures, especially those which are horse-grazed, and on roadsides. It grows in both damp and dry grassland.”  It sounds like  like an innocuous plant to have the power to deter missile batteries. The Devon Wildlife Trust describes it as follows:

Grows up to about 100 mm tall. The stem is solid, ridged and un-spotted, and it has a swollen corky base (hence the English name). The lower leaves are 2-pinnate in spring, but wither by the time of flowering. The upper leaves are 3-pronged and lanceolate, persisting into flowering. The roots terminate in rounded tubers.

Flowering takes place from June to August. The flowers are in umbels (2 to 5 cm across), on stout rays (1 to 2 cm across), which are flat-topped when in fruit. The flowers are white or pink, 2 mm across, with the outer petals unequal. Bracts and bracteoles are present. The fruits are cylindrical, ribbed, and thickened at the top with 2 erect styles.

Oxleas Cafe - Proposed Site of a Rapier Missile Battery
Oxleas Cafe - Proposed Site of a Rapier Missile Battery

I first heard of the proposal to site missile batteries in the woods and on Blackheath through the Blackheath Bugle blog. It sounded so bonkers that I had to quickly check that it wasn’t 1st April – could anyone really be thinking of  shooting down a couple of hundred tons of passenger aircraft over London? Surely they would have closed the airspace around London and stopped flights at London City Airport well before they got to that? But it does seem to be under consideration and has been reported in the Mail Online, the BBC News and News Shopper.

Local MP Clive Efford is objecting to the plans because there is a risk of damaging the ancient Oxleas woodland, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As the Mail Online said

Mr Efford said five troop carriers had driven into the woods last Thursday, with the rockets pulled behind them on a trailer, to carry out a military exercise.

He said: ‘The missiles have a range of only ten miles so any plane they target would come down over a densely populated part of the capital. It seems to me they can be used only as an absolutely last line of defence.’

Mr Efford added that as the Rapiers were set to be placed by the Oxleas Wood cafe, ‘at least the missile operators would eat well’. Olympic security planners fear that terrorists could mount a repeat of the 9/11 attacks by flying a hijacked civilian plane into packed Olympic venues.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for any Corky Fruited Water Dropwort next time I’m walking in Oxleas Woods. Oh, and any Rapier Missile Batteries.

Clive Efford (centre) and friends giving a Valentines Day card to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Clive Efford (centre) and friends giving a Valentines Day card to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital