The Far East

Okay, so I’ve done the Phantom equivalent of eating my greens and updated the Parish News so now for some fun.

Oona, a newbie, who has been sniffing round my archives (sounds faintly rude), asks:

Your suggestion of using East Greenwich library as a centre for local historical books/documents, is an inspired one  My (related) question is this: do you think the LBG has any intention of doing the right thing by this venerable old building?   Or will they continue to avert their eyes while the exterior decays a little more each year?  It`a sad process to watch it fall apart.

There is little in the way of architecture this end of the borough.  (Although the old fire-station next door to the library could be quite a charmer, again, given some care and attention.)Apart from these two ruins, what is there to lift the spirits on stepping out of my front door in East Greenwich?  If it weren’t for the lovely, and well-maintained, Victorian facade of the Angerstein Hotel next to the flyover, I might as well pass on, blindfolded.  I think of the king`s ransom being spent on the Cutty Sark: a tiny fraction of which could restore East Greenwich library and bring a bit of a sparkle to these neglected parts.

Of course, we’ve been here before, many, many times, but hey, why not have another chat about the Extreme East of Greenwich on a Thursday morning?

In answer to your first question, Oona, no, I don’t think LBG have any good intentions regarding East Greenwich Library. The obvious reason is that this mythical Heart of East Greenwich project (which is now, according to GT, likely to start yielding results in 2013, though it will only be properly finished – i.e. the bits that aren’t housing in 2016) will include a new library, so why bother doing anything to the (listed) old one.

I had a chilling conversation with a smug young chap barely out of short trousers at the ‘consultation’ a couple of years ago where I asked him this very question. I pointed out that East Greenwich Library is listed and he told me that it’s only the facade that’s protected – in his own words ‘we can do what we like with the rest.’ Then he smirked.

So yes, this poor old building is in deep trouble, both short and long term. She’s a lovely little corner of Art Nouveau, created at the same time as so much of  East Greenwich, like the two police stations, two schools, the fire station and most of the housing stock, much of which was bombed to buggery in WWII, but while a bloomin’ fortune was spent on her  sister in posh West Greenwich, smartening her up and enhancing her beauty, even remedial, emergency repairs are done at best grudgingly on EGL.

The old fire station is now accommodation and I can’t see that any cash at all is spent on keeping it looking the curiously lovely place it should be, but you’re right, the Angerstein Hotel is kept very nicely indeed and is a joy to behold.

True, at that very extreme end of East Greenwich there is little to enjoy architecturally. I do like Westcombe Park police station, especially in the spring when the little cherry tree blossoms its heart out, and I also have a soft spot for Tunnel Avenue (probably something to do with the trees that line it) but I really think the last straw after WWII was the rape that occurred when the A102(M) was blasted through the community that bridged Charlton and Greenwich in the 1970s.

So, folks, what architecture is there in the Extreme East for Oona to enjoy? A little further north-west, along Blackwall Lane, I always enjoy Rothbury Hall, also not in the first flush of youth, but with turrets to die for.  What used to be the Ship and Billet and now is shaping up to be ‘The Duchess’ looks curious – I saw them putting up curtains the other day and I do like a good set of curtains in a place.

Manchester Flowers are always a pleasing sight, one of the few examples of a shop that has stayed true to its architectural roots. We’ll draw a veil over the Old Friends.  I love to walk past the old gatehouse to the Pleasaunce (now a private home, which I’d LOVE to know more about, hint hint.)

What, if anything, am I missing here, folks? Architectural reasons to be cheerful in the Far East please.


7 Comments to “The Far East”

  1. maggie says:

    Dear Phantom

    How about invoking as patron and spirit of old East Greenwich – that wonderful idiosyncratic writer, who even had a chase in the Angerstein in his recent ‘The Victoria Vanishes’. Yes, Christopher Fowler doesn’t seem to have lived here since his teens, but he remembers the EGL too.

  2. Yes indeed – and he was a regular at East Greenwich Library until an embarassing incident, if I recall. Perhaps he could write the next of his Bryant and Mays set round the back of what’s left of the old Coombe Farm.

  3. Tina says:

    I’m going to take this as today’s challenge! I need to cycle through to Woolwich today and realised I hardly notice these buildings. So I shall ride slowly and more attentively today. :)

  4. Pedro says:

    I think some of that smugness is unfounded – Listing is not quite so simple. If they’re implying they are intentionally letting the building fall apart, then concerned parties should contact both English Heritage and The Victorian Society.

  5. Dai Smile says:

    More greens required. Your coding is wonky on Parish News. Multi-headings overlap [in IE8 and Firefox 5]

  6. Ashley says:

    In the outer far east, we have the mirror shop on Woolwich Road – Is it an an Edwardain house behind all those mirrors? In any event,I respect the proprieters attempts to cheer up an area dominated by a drab, busy flyover.

  7. JT says:

    Re. Heart of East Greenwich, now there is a developer in place things *might* start moving quicker than 2013. The PR from the HCA suggests end of 2011 – if they can keep to that it should be finished by 2013.

    And hopefully we’ll see a general uplift of the surrounding area getting underway a lot sooner.