Paying the Piper (or the Hornblower)

There’s no doubt they look impressive – and I see from Mike Purdy’s shots here that my suggestion of going to the opposite side of the river and seeing the fireworks from Island gardens with the ORNC in the background rewards with something special.

I’m a sucker for fireworks especially with a backdrop like that, and with tall ships gliding past and honking their horns at the end of the show. But I was rather shocked by something Franklin discovered yesterday.

I assumed that the private company operating the tall ships were paying for this as part of the package to entertain their well-heeled passengers and corporate customers, who are coughing up a fair sum for the experience and getting the ringside seats for the shindig.

But no – this, apparently, is being paid for by Greenwich Council:

“Fireworks funded as part of the Royal Greenwich festival, a wide prog of events organised by Royal Borough.”

Just in case you are new to the area or have been asleep for the past three (or is it four…?) years, this is the same council who reneged on an agreeement with Lewisham council to stump up a few thousand to pay for the hugely popular Blackheath fireworks. Claiming poverty, they left Lewisham holding the baby, having to pay for the whole thing and making everyone in this borough look really shabby.

Lewisham survived by rattling buckets at the event and the embarrassed burghers of Greenwich chucked in a fiver or two – but it should not have happened. The next year and, I assume this year too, Greenwich once again refused to share the fireworks display after years of co-operation. I believe Lewisham have again bravely picked up the baton (or sparkler…) and all power to their twinkling elbows.

So – Greenwich council won’t join with their neighbour to provide entertainment for hundreds of thousands at a cost of, if I recall, about thirty grand, but WILL pay for FIVE NIGHTS of fireworks in Greenwich and Woolwich for a private hire company. I only hope the kickbacks are worth it…

In the meanwhile, what to do? Well, apart from giving Greenwich merry hell about not honouring a long-term agreement with Lewisham, personally I’m going to be pragmatic.

I’m going to watch ‘em. I told you – I’m a sucker for fireworks.

And I’ve paid for them.

the attachments to this post:

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12 Comments to “Paying the Piper (or the Hornblower)”

  1. Chris says:

    How do we find out how much Greenwich has divvied up for this?

  2. 58frankh says:

    Fireworks were good but so also was the event in the market hall. Walking back from the fireworks I came across a concourse of cars, camper vans and motorbikes from the 50s & 60s together with a rock band and people jiving (younger readers can look that up on Wikipedia)to music of the time. Brilliant. Was it advertised anywhere? Why didn’t the Phantom know? Why didn’t he tell us? Is that why he tried to make us go across the river?

  3. Franklin says:


    Yes, it’s pretty heavily advertised. It’s called “Park it in the Market”. See

    They also send out emails and tweet prolifically, as do the many Greenwich tweeters, including some of the band members who were playing last night. They also have a facebook page, if that’s your poison of choice.

    The Phantom said a few days ago that she’s pretty busy at the moment.

  4. Darryl says:

    Chris, you can ask under the Freedom of Information Act. Go via the What Do They Know website or email

    You could ask your councillors to ask for you…

  5. Capabiity Bowes says:

    @ Frankh

    1) We are reliably informed that the Phantom is a lady. Possibly grey, possibly carrying her head under her arm but then again possibly not

    2) The Phantom has a job (possibly drifting around going woogy woogy woogy and scaring the bejasus out of people) and writes this blog in her spare time. She cannot cover everything – particularly if she does not know about it. If this is your community then you can always keep your own eyes peeled for events in the area – and this one was advertised on the Council’s Website.

  6. bats says:

    Frankh..lay off phant’s, apparently you can look at local listings yourself.

    Personally I’m hoping that phants is too busy preparing for this years advent calendar….I wonder who is in her sites this year?

  7. 58frankh says:

    I had thought of writing he/she but that seemed a bit too OTT. But I’m very pleased to hear that he’s a she. And I’m sure she has a better developed sense of humour/irony/whimsey than her readers seem to. Next time I write something in a lighthearted vein I’ll use an asterisk and add a footnote to protect everyone’s blood pressure.

  8. Capabiity Bowes says:

    I said we are informed that the Phant is female. There is no proof. Personally my supposition was made from the shadow cast by the Phant in a photograph a very long time ago.

    You can’t blame local bloggers for not picking up on everything, you know. I saw no “humour” in your posting. It merely sounded rude.

  9. Chris says:

    Darryl, thanks for the advice. My e-mail bounced back so I went to the site you suggested and see you have beaten me to it!
    Stand by for fireworks folks!

  10. JOF says:

    Bad luck, 58frankh. I read your piece as an excited “Cor! did you see this?” rather than knocking the host Ghost.

  11. Darryl says:

    Chris – don’t let the fact I’ve done something stop you from it. The more people take action (and not rely on others to do so, as happens so often here), the better.

  12. Capabiity Bowes says:

    Thanks for the tip Phant. Went down to see them on Sunday evening. My, how Woolwich has changed since I last went there.

    Overheard some fool saying “Thank you for the fireworks, Boris” and my gosh didn’t I turn round and put him right about who paid.

    Wonder how many new library books that little lot cost us!