Could Do Better

Okay – so yesterday the first of the horses arrived on Blackheath for the Big Old Games. It’s hard to tell what’s happening/has happened to Greenwich Park in general because it’s all fenced off, but I have confidence that the hoo-ha  created by various people over the last few years will have forced LOCOG to more or less do the right thing by it and that apart from some scary hoof marks in the soft mud (all that rain and giant studs – erk) ultimately the park itself will mostly go back to normal within a couple of years.

I guess its a shame that the same sort of focus wasn’t put on Blackheath (though of course initially we were told the heath wouldn’t be affected. Yeah, right.)  There’s a slag-heap of earth as tall as a coal mine and when I went by the other day the diggers were still adding to it. I’m assumiung slurry tanks for all that poo and wee.

To be honest, though, I’m less worried about the heath – it’s hardly the classic panorama that’s been around for millennia, full of bumps and hollows, scorched bushes and wind-tortured trees (if you want to know what it all used to be like, just take a look at the Dips at the top of Maze Hill)  after having been effectively ‘filled-in’ with bomb-rubble after the last war, but I would like to know that that, too, will be returned to rude flat-green health afterwards

To many, the ideal legacy for the Park and the heath would be – well, nothing, really. For it to go back to how it was, and for as little damage as possible to be done, but we have gained one thing, upon which, frankly, I think we could have done better.

I don’t have a picture of the old Blackheath gates, which were bulldozed so that heavy vehicles could get in and out of the Park more easily, but I didn’t have massive objections to the change – the old gates weren’t that historic and though pretty, not something that couldn’t have been improved upon.

However I don’t consider this:

to be an improvement.

Honestly – we’re getting precious little else in the way of legacy from the games – surely a set of gates to one of the most beautiful and historic parks in the world that were removed so that developers could build stuff could have been replaced with something that looked just a tiny bit less like the checkpoint for a high security prison? All we bloomin’ need are watchtowers and surface to air missiles and the scene will be compl- oh, hang on, we’ve already them.

I absolutely get that it’s an honour to have the games here and that whatever disruption we get over the next few weeks is nothing in comparison to the prestige of having the eye of the world on us. I don’t mind the traffic, the parking issues (especially as Greenwich Council has sent me twice as many parking permits than they said, mwaha,ha). I don’t mind the park being closed and I’m actually quite excited about looking out for the Phantom Webmaster in the opening ceremony.   Greenwich will cope, stuff will get done and it will be an incredible experience.

But really – those gates. Would it have been so hard to get something just a teeny bit prettier, wrought-ironier or squirlier -or even to put the old ones (with temp extensions) back?

the attachments to this post:

grim gates
grim gates

6 Comments to “Could Do Better”

  1. james says:

    Hi GP, those gates are temporary… have a look at this link to see the permanent post olympic gates…


  2. Mat Gough says:

    Mr phantom, he gates are only half done, and those ugly metal things are temporary: it’s to allow access for huge lorries etc during the games.

    You may have missed the hoo haa in your absence, but If you look closely, in the middle there are two tarmaced over squares upon which they are going to build another pair of brick columns, and to which will be attached some beautiful wrought iron gates on a similar style to what was there before. The final installation will be rather an improvement on what was there before in terms of practicality, but will look similar.

  3. Darren says:

    I know I’m in the minority on this one but I’d love to see cross country and possibly eventing return to the park, something on a smaller less disruptive less security conscious scale. More to the point something that we can all come and watch.

    Bringing Equestrian events to the city dwellers, now that really would be a legacy.

  4. Richard says:

    welcome back Phantom!
    can I blow the trumpet for the sometimes maligned local societies; I declare an interest as Chair of the Greenwich Society who alomg with the Blackheath and Westcombe Societies and the Friends of the Park persuaded Royal Parks to drop their first planning application for a poorly proportioned new set of gates and go for a design which will be a great improvement and with a setback into the Park which will be much safer too. There have been a number of serious accidents to cyclists and the better sightlines will help reduce injuries.
    So that is at least one bit of legacy!

  5. Neil Rhind says:

    Dearest Phantom, while pleased to have your return in good form I must protest. The hollows on the Heath (note capital H) are PITS not dips. They are the left overs from gravel and sand digging – from pits, not dips. At least, I have never heard of a gravel dip or sand dip anywhere, let alone on Blackheath. Someone (no names) referred to the “dips” at a Blackheath Working Part meeting and the name got stuck into some minutes. Arise with me to cast out this misleading nomenclature.

    You will be talking about train stations and sidewalks next …

    But if you want something more interesting to discuss what about Shooters Hill Road up to No 171, and Shooter’s Hill Road from then on to the east.

    Toodle pip!


  6. Sorry Neil – I guess it’s just what we’ve always called them in the Phantom Household.

    Thanks for putting me right…

    I am intruiged by your cryptic final para…