Rear Window (23)

Isn’t this a fascinating photo? For all of us who can’t see behind the various hoardings, an aerial shot of – what I calculate to be five separate building jobs – though I may have miscalculated – it could be more, could be fewer.

It’s a shot taken for the forthcoming book Greenwich Then and Now by Barbara Ludlow and Julian Watson, taken by Julian from the window of a kindly upstairs resident of Coltman House and I love it because it’s not a static shot, it’s work in progress.

In the foreground we have the ‘gardens’ themselves – and, from what I have seen of the plans, they are much greener than the area’s been for years, much to the chagrin of English Heritage for whom I usually have a lot of respect but whose desire for an urban dockfront feel at this bleak spot would be as specious as greenery and a hell of a lot less enjoyable when the icy Thames winds blow for the three-quarters of the year that don’t have the sunshine you always get in architects’ plans.

Next to the gardens, on the left, is the interminable Foot Tunnel project which has, frankly, been a bit of a disgrace. I have lost count of the number of cyclists I’ve seen going up to the door, realising the whole bloomin’ thing is shut and, knowing that there’s nothing down at Woolwich either, turning round wearily to peddle their way up to Rotherhithe. This is a public highway – which is why, up to this particular works, it was left open 24 hours a day and if it did close, for filming, for example, (i.e. when someone else had to foot the bill)  it had to have proper provision made. The excuse of the DLR is fine for pedestrians happy to shell out for the ticket but cyclists can whistle. It is, apparently, due to be opened ‘in the new year,’ whatever that means – my bet is ‘in time for the Olympics’ which seems to be the mantra for everything these days.

Behind that, we can just see the entrance to the new pier and, separately but together, the strange skellingtons that will make up the ticket office and the cafe. I’ve heard all sorts of rumours about what’s going to be there – a Zizzi’s, Nandos, Byron (no indies, natch) but in case you can’t read Steve’s photo

it looks as though it’s actually going to be that retail-park blandity Frankie and Benny’s. Sigh.

Steve’s been trying to get the signage sorted out around that area for some time – after ORNC hours it’s quite hard to get through from West to East Greenwich in that part as random paths have been shut off and the ORNC security guys are not to be argued with. He’s discovered that this mess will stay until the whole area opens properly but has been at least promised some signage. Go, Steve.  Let’s hope it’s not like this splendid example of Greenwich Council signage, wrong on so many levels and spotted by Dan:

Which leaves us with the Cuty Sark herself. I don’t want to know what’s gone on with the engineering, what kind of stress those timbers are under or what corners were cut. We were left out of the loop when it mattered and all we’re likely to get now is platitudes if, indeed, they ever decide to actually talk to locals at all. But I have to say she’s looking good. Every time I walk past she seems to have a bit more fluffy frou, a little extra gold, a shininess more of paint. At last she looks like a ship again. Who knows – she might actually be ready for that all-important date.

And all this encapsulated in one photo. I can’t wait for Barbara and Julian’s book (one of several very exciting volumes to be published soon, and not Julian’s only outing.) It’s due at the publishers at the end of the month so we should see it – actually I don’t know how long books take to come out once they’re written so let’s just say ‘soon.’


the attachments to this post:

prohibited street
prohibited street

planning permission steve
planning permission steve

Cutty Sark Gdns Julian low
Cutty Sark Gdns Julian low


13 Comments to “Rear Window (23)”

  1. Old China says:

    I can’t wait for this all to finish, it seems to have taken an age already. Roll on next summer! I hope it’s worth the wait.

    But at least there’s obvious work going on. I’m wondering what’s going on with the Enderby Wharf development. Worryingly quiet.

  2. Robert Number16 says:

    Dear Phantom
    Very interesting “Rear Window” Re “The Cutty Sark” this the latest RFEBS http://bit.ly/nnoJ2v

  3. Richard says:

    Frankie and Benny’s how very central Greenwich. FFS.

  4. Yeah – it’s enough to make you weep. At least the ‘other’ Frank actually lives in Greenwich…

    Never thought I’d find myself wishing that Greenwich Inc could take over a restaurant.

  5. Kate says:

    It all comes down to the fact that Frankie and Bennies will pay more money than the independent retailers and food places we all wish for. More generic tat for tourists and less character and regular haunts for local people.

  6. Darren says:

    Oh dear, seems we need a touch of ‘the glass is half full’ perspective here.

    The pier was a mess before, and there was nowhere to dine at all.

    Fair enough if F&B is not to your highly refined taste, surely we can have the occasional outlet that caters to the culinary prolitariat.

    Look on it this way, as me and the tasteless tourists are being exploited by F&B that’ll just leave more chance that you can enjoy your fine dining elsewhere without the crowds.

    Now I’ll leave the floor for you all to go back to your bemoaning of each and every change.

  7. Geoff3 says:

    Just had a horrible thought… I wonder if they’ve been given planning permission for river facing neon signage for these restaurants?

  8. David Porter says:

    I miss the old wooden waiting room and cafe on the pier.

  9. Jack Cross says:

    “Fair enough if F&B is not to your highly refined taste, surely we can have the occasional outlet that caters to the culinary prolitariat”

    I don’t think anyone is saying that the Pier space should be occupied by a fine dining establishment, just that it would be nice if it were an individual, independant place rather than a branch of some faceless chain.
    “The occasional outlet that caters to the culinary proletariat” – Greenwich’s problem is that there is hardly anything else – the standard of town centre catering is generally rock bottom tourist rip-off.

  10. Darryl says:

    “the standard of town centre catering is generally rock bottom tourist rip-off”

    has it ever been anything else, though? The difference now is that the corporates are doing it.

    The new pier does feel a bit naff, though.

  11. Chris says:

    Well I heard it was going to be a lap dancing club…..

  12. Scott says:

    It would be nice to see a monthly photo of the site. Can’t wait for Greenwich to get back to life before construction firms took over.

  13. Anna says:

    Frankie and Benny’s! How did this happen? It’s not about fine dining vs catering for the masses it is about how ugly their outlets look. I have looked forward to the opening of the pier for a long time (although I did love how it looked before) and even though the ‘Conran’ restaurant would be overpriced and rubbish it would have been in keeping with that prime riverfront plot. So disappointed.