Sign Of The Times

A short break from what’s started to turn into ‘archaeology week’ today (more tomorrow, ‘fraid…) to focus on something that’s soon to be history.

A few days ago I learned that there is a planning application for the demolition of the Old Friends (10/0331/D1, if you’re interested – more details from alex.smith@greenwich.gov.uk.) I understand it was a bit of a surprise as it was generally assumed that planning permission wasn’t necessary, but hey – there it is.

The poor old place is in a right state, ever since the scaffolding went up, demolition began then suddenly stopped for no perceivable reason. I can’t see that it can be saved now – even if there was a beery knight on a white charger ready to pour cash into a pub that may or may not get custom if the ‘New Heart for East Greenwich’ ever gets built. It would be nice to think that Woolwich Road could pull its socks up but I’m not holding my spectral breath.

Todya’s story is a bit different, though.

I’m not entirely sure what Janet, living at Gravelbourg in Saskatchewan, Canada, was doing reading this blog last week, but, suddenly realising that the Old Friends we were discussing was the same Old Friends where her great grandfather was licenced victualler between 1881 and 1891 and, indeed, the same Old Friends where her grandfather and his five brothers and sisters were born, hurriedly got on the blower to the property management company dealing with the demolition plans.

She’s just told me the company is going to save the sign for for her, and it will be crossing the Atlantic Canada-wards. I was particularly interested as only the day before Janet’s email arrived I’d wandered past and wondered what would be happening to the sign; I’m glad at least that will be saved, even if it is going abroad. I mean – it’s hardly the Madonna of the Pinks...

Janet’s been told it’s in pretty poor shape, but it doesn’t look that bad to me. I’ve asked her to send us a pic when she puts it up in Gravelbourg.


10 Comments to “Sign Of The Times”

  1. Old China says:

    I had no idea the Old Friends was that old. Shame it's going really. Sad for Janet that she can't visit the site before it's pulled down but at least she's getting the sign. Maybe she can use it as a cat flap :)

  2. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    wow – cats must be big in Canada. perhaps they all keep mountain lions there…

  3. Gwladys remembers nights with Roger Romantic says:

    A very fine Inn sign. I reckon it is every bit as good as 'Madonna on the planks'. It clearly shows a typical Woolwich Road scene in which an amiable cove and his trusty Staffie Cross pet pose with grace amidst bucolic South London surroundings.
    I won't stand in the way of it being sent to the colonies though.

  4. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Of course – that's Greenwich Hill in the background! A local treasure after all then…

  5. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    And clearly the old boy is one of the charming regulars that used to visit the pub in its glory days. Always a cheery word and a happy smile…

  6. darryl says:

    Good to see the sign's going to a good home.

    The sign's not that old though – about 10/11 years? I remember correctly, the pub's exterior was done up along with a lot of Woolwich and Trafalgar Road businesses as part of a Dome-connected regeneration scheme.

    The original sign was a bit more suited to Greenwich and used to make me giggle – two bearded sailors joshing over foaming pints of ale. Probably a bit camp for the regulars :-)

  7. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    I ownder if the reallyold sign's still in the cellar somewhere? Not outside the realms of possiblity. Though when I passed a couyple of days ago, the old trapdoor that went down to the cellar had been removed and was surrounded by fencing. Given the amount of rain we've had…

  8. Benedict says:

    An old friend of mine used to have a sign painting/fitting company and when he did pub signs he quite often just painted over the old one (if it was up to it ).
    There could be all the different versions hiding under Fred and his dog, a sort of Mona Lisa of the pub world….

  9. LondonSummer2009 says:

    How sad that the Old Friend won't be saved. We live quite close to it and we hoped that once the new development came about it would be reborn. Now that's never going to happen.

    Question for the Phantom – is the heart of East Greenwich development dead? If it is what's going to happen to all that empty space? Does anyone know the answer to this mystery???

  10. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Now THERE'S a question. No – I don't know what's happening. Various people have tried to find out and no one seems to be able to get a straight answer out of anyone. All I can see that's happened is that the government body in charge of the project has changed three times – each time they proudly put a new sign up outside, then nothing happens.