The Old Bottle Shop

Hands up who remembers the Village Market? It’s not a year yet since the market closed, and yet it seems like forever ago. The site sits forlornly waiting for anything to happen while the traders have been scattered to the four winds.

The Old Bottle Shop lady made a stab at keeping going – from that secretive little upstairs warehouse marked only by a giant plastic geisha (whatever happened to her?) – to what some consider to be even more secretive Trafalgar Road – one of the many, many many empty shops along a sad-sack street that desperately needs a revamp.

She certainly shared the space with some oddities. Whenever I went by there was something new jostling with the assortment of vintage glassware – ladies’ knickers, grow-bags, saucy stockings. But it’s been closed for some time now.

Adrian was curious, and the next time he saw her, asked her what was going on. It’s a sad story. He says “Apparently, she has been evicted by the landlord and her stock seized by the bailiffs. And sure enough, Saturday’s catalogue at the Greenwich Auction was full of beautiful old bottles of all shapes, sizes and hues – a life’s work of collecting under the hammer. “

Adrian tells me she has still has some stock in a small space in the basement of the Junk Shop (where several Village Market refugees seem to have established themselves) and was talking also about doing more car boot sales, etc. but she won’t be taking on another shop.

Perhaps it was inevitable. Tourists just don’t get down as far as Trafalgar Road – and let’s face it, why should they? It’s just a bog-standard, local street full of takeaways and a few decent shops, but with a constant flow of heavy goods traffic and narrow pavements that don’t invite browsing. The shops are tiny – and would be perfect as cutesy little gift stores (I wish The Home Front every good thing, btw – a lovely shop, and a brave move) but anyone stopping to look in a window would hold up the entire street.

The East Greenwich Traders Association are keen to make Trafalgar Road a ‘cultural corridor’ for the Olympics. I guess if nobody’s allowed to cars during the games, they could spill out onto the road, but personally, I think they have an uphill struggle ahead. Any ideas for how Trafalgar Road could be made – well – a bit nicer than it is?

17 Comments to “The Old Bottle Shop”

  1. scared of chives says:

    I feel kinda sorry for the bottle lady trying to keep her business going. I tried to do my bit by buying a huge bag of those small white balls you mix with soil to keep the moisture in for plants – should keep me going until 2016.

    Suggestions for Trafalgar Road..? No idea – when the Dome came along ten years ago people said the road would transform, but never did.

    Sorry to put a downer on it but the road, and its occupants (more drunks, more yobs), are getting worse…thank god for Theatre of Wine, Home Front and the deli – although there's only so many Avoca scarves you can buy.

    On a more positive note, I see KFC have spruced up the seating area, which can only be a good thing.

  2. will says:

    I have friends that live in East Dulwich and have seen Lordship Lane change beyond all recognition over the last 10 years or so. What was Trafagar Roadesque is now choc full with boutiquey shops. So it can happen.

    (Do we need more boutiquey shops? There are already plenty in Greenwich and Blackheath.)

    If the old QEH ever gets built on, that might help, or it might make it worse by introducing yet more competition.

    Fwiw, the amateur town planner in me thinks dead straight roads do not encourage pedestrian shopping (and nor do apartment blocks with vacant ground floors)

  3. Anonymous says:

    The best thing that could happen to Trafalgar road is to get rid of the dodgy pubs, there are so many drunken brawls in the middle of the day, especially at the King William (who sell cans and offer rooms for £12 a night)
    If they get a lovely pub and a couple more decent shops like the Home Front then I reckon it could be a great road again.

  4. Penny Lane says:

    I have been looking into starting a shop for a while now. The rent and business rates are totally prohibitive. It would be a good idea if there was a starter rate for say a six month period then people could try out new businesses to see if they would work without finding themselves locked into a lengthy contract. Apparently Home Front are doing OK and so are Bert and Betty up the road so you never know until you try.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The thing that usually repels me from wandering too far up Trafalgar Road is the traffic problems. 9 times out of 10 they have at least one patch of on-going roadworks which makes heavy congestion, angry drivers, loud trucks and dirty busses all fighting for road space. Not to mention I usually get stopped in my tracks around the Maritime Museum by bus stops so packed with people I have to walk in the road to pass them.

    Its true there are some great little shops on Trafalgar Road. But its the cheap pubs, the grubby looking chicken shops, closed down premises, other take-aways all with congested traffic witin a close proximity that just make it a bit of an unpleasant stroll.

    I honestly dont know what they could do though to improve on the situation as the traffic has to go somewhere and they certainly couldnt widen the pavements for pedestrians. Even with some lovely specialist boutique shops, the traffic just spoils what could have been a lovely little high street.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the nail has been hit on the head – Traffic and Pubs – specifically the King William.

    If the king william didnt attract thugs and drunken 12-14 year olds but local civilised people the whole street would change! I would bet my house on it. There is no reason for any locals to hang around trafalgar road – I only go there to get quick grocerys or my italian fix.

    With very little imagination the King William could be the sort of pub that a community brags about (and not be ashamed about)

    The traffic on the other hand is another thing – I agree there is not much that can be done about it – only solution that probably causes other issues is making it one way – a tunnel needs to be dug under the heath to solve the issue permanently and I cant see that ever happening
    - maybe speed humps, zebra crossings and 24 hour parking along both sides, would frustrate all the commuters to use blackwall tunnel or the heath though….

  7. Gwladys Street says:

    In the early 90's the King William was able to put on bands (the jazz was quite adventurous too). They started to sell decent beer and attract a more discerning sort of crowd.

    Alas, I understand that fire regulations put paid to decent sized groups and they were restricted to duos and later strippers.

    The pub went downhill fast and I haven't been in for years.

  8. Lucy says:

    oh, the trafalgar road. Please, someone help! But yes, Home Front is a brave move and I really hope it goes well. The lady who runs it is so friendly too and you can feel quite happy just browsing.

  9. Anonymous says:

    a few years ago when the road was closed because of gas works on Nelson Road, and also when it was closed for the Tour de France, Trafalgar Road assumed a much more civilised character, with people wandering happily around enjoying the human scale of the buildings.

    Many of the shop-owners complained about the potential loss of passing trade from the gas-work closure – I have never seen any figures to indicate whether or not there was a significant drop in trade though. It would be interesting to find out.

    The only way that the road can be made pleasant is by closing it to private traffic. The only way, realistically, that this is likely to happen is if action is taken well beyond the borders of Greenwich to reduce drastically everyone's reliance on cars. This starts with every individual car user.

  10. Anonymous says:

    All the new damn traffic lights have exacerbated the traffic problems along Trafalgar Road. Stopping people driving along the road would kill small businesses though. How would I get my claret back home from the Theatre of Wine?

  11. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Theatre of Wine do free deliveries…

  12. scared of chives says:

    carry it…?

  13. Anonymous says:

    A couple of cases is quite heavy.

  14. scared of chives says:

    thank god for cars then eh..?

    (don't drink and drive)

  15. Anonymous says:

    As a resident of East Greenwich I would love to see non-local traffic rerouted away from the TR / Greenwich traffic 'square', especially the disaster junction by the old hospital site. Unfortunately redirection only shifts the problem elsewhere!
    Maybe london needs a better way to get goods into it's more central areas: subsidies to use rail and more terminuses, or convert derelict bits of wharfland into container receivers and float goods up the thames. At least that would reduce the flow of traffic a bit.
    Heres hoping for something anyhow!

  16. Otter says:

    Hmmm. Derelict bits of wharfland – container receivers – floating up the Thames. Yes. Someone wants to do it, I believe, but I don't know who.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Seems a bit harsh putting the bottle collection under the hammer…sorry…