East v West

George (not his real name…) asks:

“I’d love your opinion of East Greenwich. I’m moving quite soon to Greenwich and can’t figure out if East Greenwich is the most fun part of the town or is just a little bit iffy for safety at night and overall safety. All I really want is a decent cafe close by, and perfection would also have a bookshop, and anywhere that is safe at night; I’m just not sure where offers all that.

Where would you say is safest but most fun to live in the town? I’m looking at Eastney Street, Colomb Street, Mauritius Street, and also at some places in West Greenwich in the Ashburnham Triangle, which are way pricier.”

The Phantom replies:

Generally I don’t tend to make value judgements between East and West Greenwich. They are different – very different  – but part of a whole. If  you care to get cliched about it, the Yin and Yang  of the town. Without West Greenwich, East Greenwich might be thought of as much the same as anywhere else in South East London (though when you get to know it, it’s anything but…); without East Greenwich, West Greenwich would be at serious risk of being a bit twee. Together, they make a vibrant, truly unique area of London.

Not that I won’t moan when West Greenwich gets something else cute and lovely and East Greenwich gets another bookies’, but in general, I’d just encourage people to come to Greenwich full stop.

As for which is ‘most fun’ – well – to be honest, they’re both residential areas – for ‘fun’ you’re probably looking at the centre of town.

The best concentration of good pubs is in West Greenwich – The Union, Tolly and Ashburnham Arms are just three of the goodies on offer. But that would be missing out the Vanbrugh, the newly-cool Pelton Arms and the Plume of Feathers/Cutty Sark in the East.

If you want decent cafes, you’re really looking at the West (Royal Teas is my fave) or prohibitively pricey house-wise centre (Nevada St  and Red Door take a lot of beating). What the East does do well is greasy-spoon types – the best of which (and which would probably be rather miffed to be described as such) being the Trafalgar Cafe (though I have a bit of a soft spot for the GMT caff way out east in Woolwich Road – it’s the gaudy plastic seats and doorstop sandwiches that do it.) There’s also a very good, friendly cafe (as long as you don’t look at the outside of it) in East Greenwich Pleasaunce, a really great little park.  An opportunity for a marvellous cafe is being disgracefully wasted on the waterfront, in between the power station and the Cutty Sark, where a new-build, waterfront venue  is just being used as an INC storage container.

Bookshops – well, you’ll whistle in East Greenwich (though I get some great bargains from the Save the Children shop – there must be a book reviewer round here somewhere as a lot of the books are review copies…) West Greenwich has the Maritime Bookshop in Royal Hill and Halcyon Books, but if you want new, you’ll just have to go to Waterstones in the centre. Gone are the days of many little bookshops dotted around town.

But you were specifically asking about the area of East Greenwich around Columb St and Mauritius Road. This is easily the prettiest part of East Greenwich, with little terraced cottages, some even with picket fencing and hollyhocks. Eastney St has Hardy Cottages, historic in their own way (I keep meaning to get around to talking about them); the area around Columb St  (north, not sure about the bit south of Trafalgar Road) is, if memory serves, part of the Pelton Estate. If you look at the houses down the road and they have a little iron shield on them, they’re part of the giant Morden College charity (much of Greenwich is owned by two ancient charities.)

I would be happy to live in either of those streets - and I don’t know of any trouble around there – certainly I don’t mind walking those roads at night – just exercise the sort of caution you’d use anywhere else. Occasionally Trafalgar Road can get a bit leery late at night – but heavens – so can the centre of town. Of any town. I have never been scared around there.

There’s no denying the Ashburnham Triangle is desirable. The housing stock is great, there’s a good community spirit and historians have exercised many hours researching it. I wouldn’t ever discourage someone who can afford it to buy there. But for my money, East Greenwich is gritty, honest and really rather lovable (as well as being nice and close to the river.)

IMHO, the roads around Mauritius street, such as Azof, are some of the best mid-price buys to be had around there. They’re quiet (cut off from being rat-runs with gates) nice quality (albeit with teeny tiny gardens, from what I’ve seen) and they’re close to the river. I guess there’s a little uncertainty about what will happen to some of the rather sweet Victorian warehouse/yards in the long-term future (no plans I know of as yet; they were always ring-fenced by Ken as industrial/wharf areas, but who knows now)

I can’t imagine I’ve been much help here, but other people will, I’m sure, chip in to tell you why their bit of town is best. Happy moving. Wherever of the two you end up, you won’t go far wrong.


26 Comments to “East v West”

  1. Gwladys Street says:

    A fair and balanced piece and very wise to be realistic about the differences between to two parts of Greenwich- both of which have their own charms.

  2. Anna says:

    I lived on Annandale Road when I first moved to London and always feel what a blessing it was to land in that part of Greenwich.

    The park was 3 mins walk away and I got to see much more of it on a regular basis than I would have if I lived in West Greenwich. But maybe that’s because being there forced me to cross it to get to Royal Hill or the town centre! You also see it when no one else does and find the little secret parts.

    The Italian Deli on Trafalgar Cafe is a wonderful little cafe with great coffee, and really became a great local spot. Haven’t I heard that this road is in line for improvements? Who knows?!

    Now I’m in Blackheath I rarely go to East Greenwich (unless to visit the Plume of Feathers) but I do go back to West Greenwich. So maybe one of the benefits of living in East Greenwich is that you get to enjoy the entire area and get a feel for the whole community. West Greenwich is only a short (and idyllic) walk away.

  3. andrekabu says:

    We’ve lived in Annandale since 2001 and are probably staunch advocates of the east’s charms. I should point out that Anna is either an exceptionally brilliant walker or an estate agent… I’m no slouch myself but would recommend a minimum of six minutes to get to the Maze Hill London-bound platform from the middle bit of Annandale. I would expect to get to the Park in ten.

    3 mins? I’m in awe!

  4. Dean says:

    Having lived in both West and East Greenwich (moving from the former to the latter to get more space for my money) the big difference I noticed was community spirit. I found people / neighbours in West Greenwich to be very ‘London’ i.e. a bit stand-offish and unfriendly however in East Greenwich I’ve generally found people / neighbours to be much more open and friendly. I agree with Anna too that living in East Greenwich means you get to appreciate / see more of the Park and the river as you have to walk along / through to get to West Greenwich. If its relevant to you, East Greenwich also has two of the best primary schools in the Borough – Millenium and Halstow.

  5. Wendy says:

    I cannot let being called ‘stand offish and unfriendly’ pass without comment! As a resident of not only West Greenwich but the Ashburnham Triangle (no less!) I think it has an amazing community spirit here. I cannot leave my house to buy a newspaper without bumping into someone I know. The centre for me is the Ashburnham Arms. An absolute gem of a place. There’s also the Ashburnham Triangle Association, which among other things arranged carol singing last Christmas around the Triangle in aid of Shelter, with roasted chestnuts and mulled wine back at the pub for afters!
    That said, I think that Greenwich is such a great place to live, it doesn’t matter whether you’re east or west it’s all good.

  6. Anna says:

    Andre – I lived right at the end of Annandale road so perhaps that’s why it took me 3 mins! That and I’m always late so have to rush everywhere!

  7. Mazehiller says:

    The whole of Greewnich is great, I even weirdly love the grubbier bits too – and there certainly are less glamorous parts of West(Deptford end) as well as East (Woolwich road end). West is great and I have really grown to appreciate the East since moving here -I feel far more connected to the Park and the Riverside, and the best river pubs are all East too. Just walking the five minutes from park to riverside on a summer’s day is enough to make me happy. And its better value for money in the East, and you’re closer to the tube when South Eastern have an ‘off day’. Its handy to have ‘practical’ facilities on hand such as the Arches, Tesco, Co-op, Blockbusters etc. Personally I love around the roads surrounding the Park(if affordable) and the Morden Estate of early Victorian cottages by the river such as Braddyl, Gibson, Hadrian etc. I like the lack of stuffyness (ie-mixed community, not too edgy)compared to when I lived nearer Blackheath which I personally found lovely but a bit dull. Don’t tell too many people though, prices are too high already!

  8. GG says:

    Hey – us in the “less glamorous parts of West(Deptford end)” have feelings too!

    I think with all of the Creekside developments shooting we’re certainly keeping up with the Ashburnhams! ;-)

  9. Mazehiller says:

    Apologies to GG

  10. Lula says:

    I have also lived in both East and West Greenwich and adore them both for different reasons – West is fab (and where I currently live), but I’d recommend finding somewhere in the Ashburnham triangle or up the hill a little (eg closer to Greenwich main land station rather than cutty sark DLR) – I wish someone had told me that when I moved, as we live right off the high-street and it’s just too busy and our neighbours change on a regular basis so it’s difficult to get friendly with people.

    Good luck house hunting! x

  11. annabel says:

    I live next to the Arches and Maze Hill is my nearest station and I love it and feel very safe walking home late at night from Maze Hill, being on the Trafalgar road I do hear sirens and loud conversations from the window on Thurs, Fri and Sat nights but other than that the area is lovely. When I moved from Blackheath to Greenwich my dream would be to move to the Ashburnham Triangle but having lived in East Greenwich next to Maze Hill I actually feel this is probably one of the better locations for the park, river, town centre and transport. Pubs I love the Trafalgar, The Plume of Feathers and the Old Brewery is only a five minute walk. I do feel safe generally.

  12. Dave says:

    Anna you do know that the Trafalgar Cafe and the Italian deli (Salumeria) are two different places ?

  13. Dave says:

    Anna , you do know that the Trafalgar Cafe and the Italian deli (Salumeria) are two different places ? Only it doesn’t seem like it from your post

  14. There IS a cafe at the back of la Salumeria these days…

  15. Wendy says:

    East Greenwich has Dave!

  16. Andy A says:

    I live in East Greenwich and I really like it. In terms of cash vs property for me in 07 it was a choice of 2bed flat in west greenwich vs 3bed house in east greenwich.

    I went east :-)

    EG is closer to the Maze Hill, the park and the tube.

    It is very safe around here – but there have been a few burglaries so make sure you get an alarm/big dog. I guess W.Greenwich is just as likely to be targeted by the thieves of the night…

  17. Anna says:

    Sorry Dave, typo in my post, I meant road. I do know they are different! I blame my new iPad ;-)

  18. Dave says:

    Ok Anna , Sorry I wasn’t meaning to be pedantic

  19. scared of chives says:

    People are naturally ‘protective’ of the area they live – but, let’s face it – people in east greenwich would simply love to live in roads like Hyde Vale. But I doubt the West Greenwich crew would want to move the east. yes, you get more for you money – but so do residents of lee who can’t afford to live in Blackheath Village.

    East greenwich has some truly awful people – I know, I’m one of them

  20. annabel says:

    Ha ha, indeed Hyde Vale is truly beautiful and I do love it but I still feel that a beautiful Georgian property on Park Vista is better located even though the houses are not nearly as stunning as Hyde Vale, it’s he locality that is more appealing. West Greenwich has it’s fair share of undesirables too. As lovely as West Greenwich is, when are they going to tart up that car park area where the cheap supermarket is, motorbike shop and Oddbins. When tourists or anyone visiting the area arrive at Greenwich station I feel that area is the one thing that really lets that area down.

  21. Dave says:

    Annabel I agree with you about that area. I think it would be a good idea to turn the car park area into a market at weekends.

    The wine shop that closed was Bottoms Up , oh how I wish Oddbins would take it on.

  22. scared of chives says:

    Years ago, Oddbins used to have a shop (I think) where the kids’ cafe/ceramic (Biscuit?) place now is. The East does have Theatre of Wine of course (hooray) but no longer the fishmonger (boo).

  23. Pedro says:

    Park Vista is lovely, but it’s polluted and noisy compared to Hyde Vale – and have you noticed how every basement seems to have barred windows? But, as pointed out, Theatre Of Wine makes up for a lot, and as for East vs West, as Louis Mazzini commented when deciding beween the elegant, refined Edith D’Ascoyne and the attractive, slutty Sibella, “how happy I could be with either, where t’other dear charmer away.”

  24. Dave says:

    Pedro , I don’t live in either but they are both noisy and polluted to some extent , as they are both used as rat-runs , albeit Park Vista only in one direction as it is a one-way street.

  25. Pedro says:

    No. I do live in one. With Park Vista, I’m talking about the noise and pollution from Trafalgar Road, one of the most polluted parts of London. It’s still a street I’d be happy to live in, though.

    THe only real noise on Hyde Vale comes from the cop cars, who specialise in boy racer impressions – when they’re late for lunch I guess.

  26. Lolo says:

    The place is great, wherever you live and those who live in other areas of London miss out on a lot.