Archive for January, 2013

A Crystal Ball

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Well, perhaps it’s over-egging it a bit to say I had ‘a ball.’ But given that there was a small child to entertain, it was a bloomin’ awful day, we’d ‘done’ Greenwich and there wasn’t enough time to go into town, a trip across the water to a free exhibition in the dry – with nice cakes – seems like a bit of a result.

I’m always slightly suspicious when a giant multinational that depends on consumer – well, consumption, actually, creates a ‘sustainable cities initiative’ and then spends vast wads of cash giving us the patronising ‘we need to talk about saving energy by not doing stuff’ message (I’m assuming the ‘not doing stuff’ doesn’t extend to not buying their goods…) but as propaganda goes, this is pretty slick.

The building itself is a handsome glass affair in an area that has very little else going on, right next to the cable car, the first, I am hoping, in a new rush of interesting attractions worth making the trip across the river for.

We went on a Saturday, and even on a traditionally ‘family’ day, most of the visitors seemed to be group bookings; brownies, I believe, and students. I should imagine that during the week it’s wall-to-wall school parties. There’s plenty to do, lots of buttons to press and games to play – someone has spent a lot of time and money making some very good exhibits, and it’s so new that nearly all of them still work (I was in the Maritime Museum the other day and several of their interactive displays are already broken. But then they don’t have Siemens funding them…)

And there IS much to think about. My favourite part was the bits where you’re getting to plan a virtual city, you’re given various constraints, a budget and a list of transport, energy, education etc. options and told to get on with running it. As Phantom Monarch I tried quite a few ways to put in infrastructure, take infrastructure out, add more roads, remove roads, give my subjects more public transport, less waste disposal etc. and every time I watched my city implode under the strain.

Some of it’s just plain baffling. I can’t remember what on earth this giant Chinese lantern represents, and I’m not sure I ever knew, though it’s possible it’s just covering the exterior of the cinema. Other things are pretty but again, I couldn’t tell you what they mean:

There’s a quite alarming film about global energy use (why did I find myself wondering that we would save a load of energy if we just turned off all the giant 360 degree movies about climate change..?) and some rather wonderful sections about the body.

In short, there is much to do, much to see, and if it doesn’t sit quite right that this is all funded by a multinational who are as busy plundering the earth for rare metals, gases, energy etc. as any other computer/white goods giant, then hey – we all sucked up that MacDonalds and Cadburys sponsored the Olympics last year. And Boris approves. This is pride of place in the City section:

Ultimately the result was one small child entertained for an hour on a wet day, and I find that hard to knock.

The thing I like most about this place, though, and something I will be returning to, is the splendid cafe.

Good food, nicely presented

with prices no worse than anywhere else in London, and actually, IMHO, very good for a London attraction:

I can see myself taking a cable car across the water just for the hell of it (and a cup of coffee at the Crystal). I delight in being the unfashionable Phantom that adores the cable car – of course it’s daft, but oh, I love it. Even I, though, raised an eyebrow at this particular display in the City part of the exhibition:

Hmm.

O J Morris and David Leggatt

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Today I find myself thinking, once again, about the Rev. Spurgeon and his photographs, not least because the encyclopaedically-minded Julian Watson has sent me a 1986 article written by the former Chief Librarian of Greenwich, David Leggatt, from the Transactions of the Greenwich and Lewisham Antiquarian Society, from which I plunder today.

It’s an account of two parts – firstly the story of Charles Spurgeon and his magic lantern shows (apparently it was a lifelong passion – in his famous father’s autobiography there is a photo of Charles and his twin brother posing with their mother – and a magic lantern they’ve just been given as a gift) and secondly how the photographs came to be in the collection – a patient waiting game on the part of Leggatt and a gradual decision to ‘do the right thing’ on the part of their by-then-owner, O J Morris, via, of all things, Bournemouth Railway Club…

After Spurgeon’s death his photos passed to another Baptist minister, Rev. Burley, who’d married one of Spurgeon’s daughters. He ended up preaching in Bournemouth, where he joined the Railway Club and met Owen Morris who was also crazy about trains. I suspect that Morris ended up with the Spurgeon collection more because of the transport photos in it – this was not Spurgeon’s only Magic Lantern show. I’m guessing some of the others were transport-oriented and it was these pictures, rather than Greenwich’s street cries that had the Baptist preacher and Welsh Roman Catholic slavering over them.

Burley died in 1953 and by 1954 the pictures were in Morris’s sweaty paws. He does sound like the classic bachelor-train-obsessive. He lived in Beulah Hill in Norwood and his house was ‘adapted’ to his purposes – he thought nothing of cutting right through doors and cutting ‘tunnels’ through furniture to accommodate his model railway layout, creating a standard lamp from a railway signal or replacing all the handles in the house with carriage door handles salvaged from old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway trains.

I have no idea what happened to any other Magic Lantern shows that Spurgeon created – perhaps they went to private buyers in America. Certainly that was to be the fate of at least one photograph, of a tram, that Morris brought to David Leggatt at the Borough Library in 1954, wanting to identify where it had been taken so that he could sell it and casually mentioning that it was from a whole bunch of old snaps.

Leggatt, presumably after having smelling salts administered, confirmed that the picture had been taken in Trafalgar Road. Morris refused to sell the photo to the library, but said he’d make a copy for him and show the rest of the pictures to Leggatt ‘if I was interested…’

I’m surprised that Leggatt managed to last two weeks before going over to Beaulah Hill to view them. Perhaps he was acting cool but he admits in his paper ‘I felt something of the impact which the reading of Chapman’s Homer had on Keats.‘ He asked, casually, about what Morris was planning to do with them, and was told that he liked the idea of a National Photographic Collection.

Once again, Leggatt tried to buy the collection from Morris for the Borough ‘but he was unmoved.‘ Leggatt tried a different tack, telling Morris that the photographs should at least be treated as a collection, rather than sold off piecemeal, which Morris agreed to, then also agreed to create a set of copies to the Borough for £50.

Morris comes across to me as a canny sort of guy. He spent a lot of time with a local architect, Percy Danatt (whose name is ringing huge bells; might look him up when I’ve done some actual work today) to identify all the locations before preparing the copies, and then, just before the sale, called the picture ed at The Times

The Times article brought a flood of interested parties to Greenwich Borough Library – everyone from the V&A to a bunch of students from the LSE, from a director of Bryant & May to John Betjeman and the resulting interest led to a book deal for Morris – Grandfather’s London. Morris hated the title, btw (and I confess I’m not wild about it) but was firmly told that calling it ‘London’ instead of ‘Greenwich’ would sell more copies. Plus ca change.

Ultimately Morris did a most generous thing. He presented the original collection to the Borough, no strings attached, in recognition of Leggatt’s part in ‘rescuing the collection from oblivion.’

Grandfather’s London v. Grandfather’s Greenwich

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Last week Chris asked me about R.L. Sims and Co. the photographer. I initially found the question quite hard to answer and ended up doing more round-and-round the garden research than I needed to because I didn’t know something that I only discovered because Gerald (of the Dreadnought Hospital photos fame) mentioned a book I thought I had.

On discovering that Sims was a friend and fellow-conspiritor of the Rev Spurgeon, who in taking dozens of photos of everyday life in Greenwich for a magic lantern show, created a unique and important record of London streets in late Victorian times, I immediately turned to my book on the subject, Grandfather’s Greenwich.

I knew it was a 1972 reprint, and I was fine with that – there’s only a certain number of first editions available and all I was interested in was the information inside. The photos are well reproduced and the commentary seemed perfectly good, if a little thin on the ground. There was a little intro and a short caption for each photo.

Then Gerald sent me some scans from another book< Grandfather's London – clearly the same photos, but an entirely different commentary. Each photo got a double-page spread – one half devoted to the photo, the other half an explanation, with the subject, how the photographer probably set up the shot and, very importantly for locals, exactly where the picture was taken. There’s a longer introduction, that discusses the ‘world-picture’ (well, okay, the London-picture) and, in short, 127 pages instead of 63.

Had I had the second book, I would have known much more about The Champion Piemaker, The Third Class Milkman and the Threepenny Bumper than just the picture titles and, more importantly, I wouldn’t have gone on a wild goose chase around Deptford looking for King Street and had to rely on Joe to remind me that it’s now King William Walk.

So, folks, a word to the wise. If you’re just after the pictures and a perfectly acceptable overall view, (by the usually highly enjoyable Alan Glencross) Grandfather’s Greenwich is fine. But by far the better book, with glossy pages and a more in-depth commentary, you need Grandfather’s London by O J Morris (the reputed third conspiritor). They’re both easy to find second hand, both about the same price on Amazon market place, Abebooks etc. but they are not both made equally.

Hans Schwarz

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Got a goodun for you today, folks.

Stephen says:

“You could have blown me down with a feather when I saw mention of both the writing on the wall of my father’s studio in Point Hill and of their antique shop in Blackheath Road.”

Stephen is, of course, Stephen Schwarz, son of Hans and Lena, who owned the splendid house on the corner of King George Street with our most recent ‘Faded Greenwich’ sign on the adjacent coach house. More of that later.

Stephen’s been telling me about his parents’ shop, his father’s painting – and a rather intriguing little piece of paper. He tells me

“The shop was very much a parental joint effort. with Hans sourcing supplies from house sales in Somerset and very early morning forays to East End markets and Lena arranging the shop with great flare, and staffing it, with the able assistance of several part-time ladies.”

They started out in the 1960s with a little stall in Portabello Road

Stephen says “In both photos Staffordshire figures are prominent: I see no Spitalfields Life dogs, although I have one, and a pig, that Hans and Lena gave me at the time. You will observe that, when it came to the shop they changed to a more generic title.”

Thing is, antiques were only a part of Han’s life. He was also a painter – so when the couple moved to Greenwich in 1970, after four years in the country, he had to find somewhere that could be not just a family home but that also had some kind of coach-house to serve as a studio. In this scrap from his notebook, he reveals he was amazed to find the estate agent already had had such a place on his books for some time, though it was in a right old state – he admits that it would have been cheaper to rip the whole lot down and just build it again.

We owe Hans Schwarz the raise of a glass of Meantime Porter that he didn’t do that, as so many would have done (and did, elsewhere). Instead, he was delighted, as we still are, at the coal merchant’s faded sign, and just adapted the building so he could retain the sign. He painted the view from the window many times:

and from many angles:

though he didn’t stay in the house. The café in the Park was one of Hans and Lena’s (not to mention Stephen himself’s) favourite haunts and source of shepherd’s pie:

In the thirty years Hans and Lena lived there they became a part of the community.

Stephen has also sent me a drawing of Rajesh Patel and his family, who were (and perhaps someone can confirm for me, still are) the newsagents (and Han’s tobacconist…) at the Royal Hill/Point Hill junction

“This was painted for a People’s Portrait project (utterly fascinating – well worth a delve – TGP) for the millenium, the project’s paintings now at Girton College. Hans was very keen on the people’s portrait idea, and he also painted a Somerset blacksmith, but in addition had a project of his own in the little Bristol Channel port of Watchet, for which he painted many townspeople.

Sadly, Stephen’s father died in 2003 and Lena mother last October. Only last week he came across many of the items he’s sent me (thank you, thank you, thank you Stephen) and therefore has only just noticed on very intriguing thing. Take another look at that page from Han’s Journal:

Hang on – a Great Train Robber “kept his rollers in the coach house”? Which Great Train Robber? When? How? Why? And what the hell did he need rollers for? His beehive?

Sadly that’s all I have, folks. But clearly we only attract the best villains to West Greenwich…

Writing London

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

It’s not often I find myself surprised by the solitary entry about Greenwich in a general publication about London.  However, I have to confess to being taken aback at a Christmas present last year. A friend had bought me Writing London, one of Herb Lester’s splendid ‘alternative’ maps where there’s a delightful schematic  plan on one side and ‘interesting stuff’ on the other.

I (obviously) turned straight to Greenwich. It only had one entry – George Eliot.

George Eliot? I always think of Cheyne Walk and Wandsworth when I think of the ‘scandalous’ author of Middlemarch, Adam Bede and The Mill of the Floss . I have never heard her name mentioned in connection with Greenwich before – not even in my book about The Trafalgar Tavern where, I have just discovered, she enjoyed a whitebait dinner in June 1861. I guess everyone is so delighted to talk about the rivalry between The Ship and the Tavern, to supply the two political sides of the Commons with annual dinners, and so overjoyed with ‘the Dickens connection’, to pay a nod to this extraordinary writer.

Female authors still use male names to sell books, using the old argument that women will read books by either gender but a large enough number of men will not read a book by a woman to make economic sense in changing their pen name to something more masculine. It’s only a relatively small number of writers these days, but in Victorian times, Mary Ann Evans figured that there would be even more prejudice against her – and, ultimately she was right.

Wanting to be taken on an equal footing with male authors, she became George Eliot so that it wouldn’t be assumed she could only write frothy little potboiler romances. Originally from the Midlands, she moved to London to write and wanted a quiet life, not least because she was living in daring sin with the married George Lewis whose wife was also having a relationship with someone else. Oh – just as a by-the-by, Lewis was educated at Greenwich himself, at Burney’s school…

Evans edited the left-wing journal The Westminster Review (quite an acheivement for a woman in those days – there were female writers but few with any ediotorial power)  and published a ‘Scene of Clerical Life’ in Blackwood’s Magazine whilst building up to Adam Bede, her first novel.

It wasn’t long before the pseudonym became a pretty open secret (Dickens declared he wasn’t fooled for a moment) – as was the author’s private life, which wasn’t helped when she married someone else after Lewis’s death who jumped from their hotel balcony on their honeymoon (though survived.)

Victorian society though, had notorious double-standards. Whilst queuing up to read her novels (Queen Victoria loved Adam Bede so much she commisioned an artist to paint scenes from it for her), no one wanted her to come to dinner or infect their women-folk with her loose morals. Tongues wagged and George found herself in the odd position of being both ostracised and lauded.

When her publisher John Blackwood held a dinner for her to celebrate the publication of Silas Marner, he took her downriver to the Trafalgar Tavern where, as we all know, Greenwich women were much more robust…

It was the fashionable place to eat whitebait and, despite sundry Phantom efforts to introduce a new ‘local delicacy’ remains the only true ‘Greenwich food.’ Eliot was the only female present. Men, of course, being much stronger of character than women, would be able to withstand the disgraceful way she lived without being tempted to emulate her.

By this point, though, she was used to it all. She had a marvellous time – John Blackwood declares ‘George Eliot was extremely delighted with the whole affair, which she caused others to enjoy so much.’

Why didn’t I know about this fleeting moment in literary history?

R L Sims and Co

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Chris asks:

I am trying to trace the exact location of a Victorian photographic studio called R L Sims and Co, in King Street, Greenwich.

Can you help, and would you know the whereabouts of any collections of photographs taken by this studio?

The Phantom replies:

It took me a while to work out why this name was ringing a bell in the Phantom brain. At first I thought it was something to do with the Victorian publisher Henry Richardson or maybe I’d seen a photo for sale somewhere but then I realised that I’d seen it elsewhere.

Mr Sims was (possibly) part of a trio of photographers, led by the Rev. Spurgeon, who created a groundbreaking photography project in the latter part of the 19th Century to record ‘real’ Greenwich street life. The photos are world famous and often find themselves in books about general London/Victorian history. You know the sort of thing:

Of course with the sort of exposure time needed, these pictures would have been rather more posed than they first appear but even so, they are seminal in the history of photography and a very important collection.

Originally created in half-plate, the negatives and slides are now lost, but the proof prints survived, and were passed down from Mr Spurgeon via his son in law to Mr O J Morris, the third in the little trio of photo journalists. He presented them to Greenwich Libraries, so my best guess is that they are now held at the splendid Greenwich Heritage Centre.

I don’t know of any collections just by Mr Sims’s studio, though it’s likely the Heritage Centre will know more than me. I’m no photographic (or otherwise) historian.

But King Street? That one had me puzzled for a while, and I went of on a long wild goose chase trying to find it and, if you read an earlier version of this post you will have seen me place it in Deptford. But thanks to Joe, I can now place it where King William Walk is now:

…which makes a hell of a lot more sense than what is now Watergate Street in Deptford….

Greenwich Food Bank

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

On a day when I sit writing this post in two dressing gowns, fingerless gloves, a blanket and hat (no, really…) my mind is drawn back to last night when I was in the West End and saw a shocking number of people sleeping rough in the snow. And in turn that me brought to a number of emails I’ve been getting about Greenwich Food Bank, since I first mentioned it a couple of months ago.

What happened? At what point did the concept of food banks, where ordinary, everyday folk become reliant on others’ charity just to be able to feed themselves properly, become ‘normal?’ And at what point did the situation in Greenwich become so bad that we need one ourselves? There are currently three distrubution centres in the borough – Thamesmead, Plumstead and Woolwich – but they’re planning five more, including, somewhat shockingly the ‘affluent’ areas of West Greenwich and Westcombe Park.

Don’t get me wrong – I am hugely impressed at the generosity and dedication of everyone involved – both volunteers and donors – but I find it very distressing that it’s needed, that so many people are slipping through the net, and that instead of hanging their heads in shame, central government seem to think its perfectly okay.

Local government, in cash-strapped times, at least appears to be doing what it can – Greenwich Council have provided somewhere to be the central warehouse. But ultimately it’s slipping back to Victorian times as far as I can see. Who knows – give it a few months and the New Heart of East Greenwich could  be hurriedly remodelled back to its 19th Century alias as the local Workhouse…

Soapbox aside, this is what we have, and it is a Good Thing, given that central government is not recognising the distress of so many. I applaud the efforts of the combined churches, I applaud the people who buy a few extra items each week to donate to the cause and I applaud the (so far) 60-70 volunteers who are working in the depots to process the items.

Carol’s been donating food to the bank for some time – she gives money to charities, but “somehow actually buying a few extra bits and pieces each week as I do the grocery shopping and taking them along to the Avery Hill Food Bank makes giving more ‘real’, i.e. making the effort to buy stuff, take it there when it’s open, walking past those people waiting to obtain food.”

I know what she means. I’m old enough to remember when the annual Blue Peter appeal involved collecting ‘stuff’ – milk bottle tops, plastic bottles, old woollies etc. which always felt much more hands-on and inspiring than just ‘send us your cash.’

The strange thing is that it’s not easy to find out online how to actually get involved in the project, which is a shame – individual churches seem to have their own systems, but if you’re just a bog-standard nice person who wants to join in, information’s thin on the ground – Capability Bowes had to email them to find out and he still didn’t get a straight answer.

But Mike’s filled me in.  People can take stuff to a collection point at the reception of St John’s Church, in Stratheden Road near Blackheath Standard, which is usually open from 9.30am to 4pm. Alternately anyone wishing to donate food can call 07771 830549 or email contact@greenwichfoodbank.co.uk.

There is also a collection point in Sainsburys Woolwich – hopefully this is something that other supermarkets will pick up on, like the little Cats Protection League box of Tins for Poor Cats in the Tellytubby Sainsburys on the Peninsula (I always pop a can or two in there – when I remember, blush…)

There is a ‘shopping list’ of suitable foodstuffs for the human version:

  • Milk (UHT or powdered)
  • Sugar (500g)
  • Fruit Juice (carton)
  • Soup
  • Pasta Sauces
  • Sponge Pudding (tinned)
  • Tomatoes (tinned)
  • Cereals
  • Rice Pudding (tinned)
  • Tea bags/Instant Coffee
  • Instant Mashed Potato
  • Rice/Pasta
  • Tinned meat/fish
  • Tinned Fruit
  • Cooking Oil
  • Jam
  • Biscuits or Snack Bars
  • Toiletries
  • Baby Milk (powdered)
  • Baby Food (tinned or bottled)

In a twenty-first century world that has come back down to cold charity it is up to us to fill a gap that should never have opened.

The Greenwich Snowlady

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Isn’t she adorable? Not, perhaps, as downright sexy as last year’s snow-siren but voluptuous in her own way. Not sure if she’ll still be there as Nathan who took this tells me that there was a bunch brats going around smashing snowmen as soon as the nice kids were building them. Sigh.

Snowy Greenwich

Sunday, January 20th, 2013


I’ve not ventured past my door today, but Gary did and reported back with some pics for a snowbound Phantom.

He tells me that Greenwich was pretty quiet – the market was virtually empty, a shame for the traders who must have got up so early in such hideous conditions.

But it does look pretty, I’ll give the snow that much…

Take care, folks, wherever you are.

Whiskey Papa

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Paul has been promising to visit the Metropolitan Police Historical Society for ages and find out the full gen on the recently deceased Westcombe Park nick. He’s sent me a bunch of stuff that he’s found and I’ve Phantomised, not least because much of it comes from a book on local policing that Paul can’t remember the name of, I don’t know the other sources and while I want to share this with you I don’t want to be a Bad Phantom and end up in my nearest nick which is probably somewhat further away than Westcombe Park.

As you can see from the picture above, Paul ploughed through dusty files in the archives to find the photos – cheers, Paul, I owe you. The images appear to be from May 1908, a time when  the whole of that area would have been brand new and buzzing – a time when new houses meant a new library, new fire station, new school, new pub and new police headquarters – now that’s what I call infrastructure.

But that’s not where the story begins, according to my anonymous source. For that, we need to go back nearly 100 years earlier, to 1812, when presumably the local rowdies, highwaymen and tea-leaves were getting too much for the good burghers of Charlton.

Anyone whose income exceeded ten pounds a year, was expected to cough up for the newly-formed Charlton Guard. These sterling heavies were given a lantern, rattle and firearm each, paid 4 shillings a night and charged to keep watch over the area between 8.00pm and 5.00a.m.

Trouble was, no one was watching the watchers and the watchers knew. They simply stopped watching.

In 1827 the residents tried again, this time paying the watch only 2/6d but from the sound of things, giving them a smaller remit – Charlonites seem to have been much more worried about their dead relations than being murdered in their beds – the watch was instructed to keep guard over the churchyard and deter resurrectionists. I’m quite surprised that resurrectionists were pyling their trade that far out from London – the bodies would have been especially mouldy by the time they got to the medical schools. Perhaps there was some jiggery-pokery (mainly pokery; they would have been practising amputations etc, yerk…) going on in Greenwich Hospital infirmary, though more likely it was the fear of crime that really spooked residents.

By 1885 Greenwich had been bulging left, right and centre and the much more professional Victorian police force needed  somewhere in between Blackheath Road and East Greenwich (which I presume is the one that used to be at Park Row but it might actually have been the Charlton one. The term East Greenwich is one hell of a moveable feast.)

Land was bought from Mr John Pound for £950 and the new police station, called Westcombe Park to avoid confusion with East Greenwich in December 1983.

I recommend clicking on the next image to get it big enough to read – some of the crossed out bits of the ledger Paul’s taken a picture of for me are fascinating.

George Hocking was in charge – well, by 1891, anyway. He lived, with his family, just round the corner at 2 Farmdale Road – of course in those days there wasn’t a whopping great motorway to cross to get to work.

I particularly like the view above as it shows signs of the now-half-lost Westerdale Road, which I can’t go down without thinking of the splendid writer Christopher Fowler, whose memoir, Paperboy, talks of his days growing up in the road and failing to return library books…

During the first world war Westcombe Park Special Constables took it in turns to stand at the top of Severndroog Castle at the top of Shooters Hill with a pair of binoculars then pass any zepplin (and other) sightings to the many interested parties via the new-fangled telephone on top of the Central Observation Station at Spring Gardens.

It also appears that paranoid Charlton residents became convinced that some of their less patriotic neighbours were passing on information to the enemy in Belgium of Germany. I have no idea why they suddenly thought this – perhaps they spoke with ‘foriegn accents’ or something but nevertheless, on the 4th September 1914 constables were instructed to visit every pigeon loft in the area and release the birds to see which direction they flew off in…

During the Second World War (and presumably before the advent of the Mr Hodges of this world) it was up to the police to enforce the blackout regulations, which made them pretty unpopular. The entirety of Charlton Athletic Football Club became War Reservists, though they were based at an emergency Police Station in the basement of Charlton House during the really bad air raids. Apparently it was all a bit of a mess to start with – Harold White, the sergeant, turned up on his first day to find the basement still full of coal.

Westcombe Park Police Station might have managed to stay whole during the raids, but officers were used to returning from shift to find that not everyone had come back. They’d stay behind to find their friends – sometimes trapped, sometimes injured and, occasionally, sometimes kiled in the raids. Fourteen ‘R’ Division Officers died during air raids; a further twenty-three whilst serving in the RAF or Royal Navy.

I am not sure whether Westcombe Park had anything to do with the strange ‘riot training’ spat with Greenwich Council in the 1980s, but as far as I know it continued to live a quiet little life until near the end of the millennium

Station Office counter facilities were withdrawn from Westcombe Park in June 1999, and for me, that’s when it really ‘died.’ The place felt ‘closed’, even if there were squad cars out the back and sundry lights on upstairs. In November, the Millennium Policing Team moved into the Station to oversee the celebrations at the Dome and Greenwich Peninsula.

It died properly last year, with boarded up windows and a POA asking-price that I’m guessing is a bit more than £950.

Perhaps the ghost of a prisoner that hanged himself who supposedly haunts the cellar will come and give the developers a hard time, but frankly I’ll be grateful if they just keep the building. I can’t see the car park at the back staying like that. I miss the old lamp too, and wish they could have found a way to keep it -perhaps with clear glass or something. Sigh.

But Whiskey Papa?

Westcombe Park’s police call sign, of course.