The Peninsula Before…


When I first got hold of this map (sorry about the rubbish scan…) I had to stop for a moment and work out what was missing. We’re so used to seeing the A102M carving its way up through the peninsula that I found myself mentally superimposing it onto this old streetplan (from about 1902.)It’s easy to forget that the motorway didn’t crash its way onto the Greenwich Marshes until the 1970s.

What we’re looking at here, though, is the old main road to the tunnel – Tunnel Avenue – that sleepy little back road that now just consists of 1930s and modern houses south of Blackwall Lane; factories to the north, but which would have originally had a vibrant community of shops and services (not to mention two gasholders) and probably would have been as congested as the motorway gets today, with a combination of horse-and-cart ensembles and motor vehicles.

I always find it amazing that you don’t need to look at ancient maps to see real differences in Greenwich’s history. Just look at all those fields, for example – many of them would have been allotments – there’s an Ordnance Survey map from about the same time that shows them specifically. There’s a whole bunch of roads (which would have been newly-built then) that were swept away to make the flyover. And the collection of buildings where the Heart of East Greenwich will be, have already been demolished, built over and demolished again since this map was made.

But there’s some that remains the same. The little Angerstein Railway, for example, which I always get a little thrill to see trundling its way through tracks I forget are there and which, frankly, I find staggering still exists. I’m not sure what’s happening to it in this map – it appears to turn into a dotted line – perhaps it’s because it’s the bit that’s shared with the passenger track.

But all that’s for another day…


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