Smoke, Fog, Cranes And A Pair of Gasholders
Every so often I get a little treat sent to me. Someone will be clearing their loft or chucking out a load of boxes, they’ll find some old snaps they took of Greenwich fifty years ago and they’ll think “Bet I know who will like these…”
And they’re right. I love ‘em. Dave’s pics of Pelton road, for example, or the mystery photo of the baby outside the Angerstein Arms a couple of months ago. I live for those emails – especially if they come with a little story or a personal memory.
But every so often a Phantom Treat Email stops being just a treat and becomes Treasure Trove – for example when a Greenwich photographer comes across a whole bunch of negatives he took in the 1980s and thinks ” readers might like to share them.”
Folks – these photos were taken by Richard, who used to work at the boarded up school on the Peninsula in the 1980s. He used to love the “neglected yet pleasurable” walk between Greenwich and the newly-built Thames Barrier and, happily for us, took the trouble to take his camera with him on his many walks.
We’re talking not even 30 years ago here, and yet this is a time when the Peninsula was still largely industrial, when the many of the wharves were still working and Greenwich even boasted two gasholders:
Not only are Richard’s photographs fabulously atmospheric, but historically they’re extremely important. He does include some pictures of tourist sights, like (a scaffolded) ORNC, for example, the Trinity Almshouses, complete with open door, or a misty morning in Greenwich Park) but what fascinated him most was Greenwich’s grubbier side. The jetties, factories, trunk roads, chimneys, and some rather splendid allotments.
I’m guessing those allotments bit the dust (so to speak) when the land was cleared during the frenzied race for the Dome in the late 90s, but not everything went so long ago – take Lovell’s Wharf, for instance:
Since he worked so close to the Amylum factory, Richard took pictures of that too. I’m rather hoping that someone is making a record of its coming down.
Funny – those chimneys already seem like memories – every time I go past another few feet have been nibbled away.
Richard has created an online gallery of what has to be about 100 images of a Greenwich that in some respects is as distant to us now as picture postcards from 100 years ago. I watched the entire sequence several times. What really got me, certainly the first time I watched it, was what was on the other bank of the Thames.
Take this picture from inside the Trafalgar Tavern, for example (I think it is the Traf Tavern, anyway – I guess it could be the Cutty Sark.) No prizes for guessing what’s missing…
I seriously recommend a visit to Richard’s extraordinary photo album to see all his pictures (plus a few night time shots of Nunhead Past.) He says they’re of a ”not particularly old slice of Greenwich, but even over these few short years, irrevocably changed.”
Indeed. But of course, some things never change:
Richard was thinking about creating prints of some of these – and I think there could be a market for them. I mean – if I moved into one of the new Lovell’s Wharf apartments, I’d definitely like a few photos of the old wharf on my walls. What do you think?
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