Archive for the ‘Greenwich market’ Category

Infilling the Infil

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

So this appears to be the new infil for where the old 1950s bomb damage infil was in the market and, I have to say, from the first floor up, it’s pretty impressive, at least from the outside. They have stayed true to Kaye’s original style and put in good quality sashes etc. It remains to be seen what happens with the ground floor. I am expecting it to be all one shop so they can get some dreary chain in, but hey, you never know…

I did have a ‘before’ photo for this, but can’t seem to find it. If anyone has one I’d be glad of it…

Durnford Street Still at Risk?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Among all the rejoicing last week that Greenwich Market isn’t to be redeveloped into a soulless mall after all, one little niggling voice remains.

I am hearing that the lovely old banana warehouse and stable in Durnford street is still at risk, and I’m hoping that there may be something we can do to change Greenwich Hospital’s mind about this too. Okay – it’s only late Victorian/early Edwardian, but it is a small part of ‘ordinary’ Greenwich, which is pretty rare these days. Reminders of Greenwich’s royal, maritime and posh past are all over the place but its heritage as a real place where real people lived and worked is ebbing away with each tide.

Various arguments were used to do away with it – the original plans were to get rid of it for a rubbish area, I’m assuming it’s just prime real estate land now. It’s supposed to be condemned, but it’s not so rickety that Greenwich Hospital fears a lawsuit for renting it out to a florist who could get crowned by falling masonry.

In the conclusion to the previous consultation even the old guard at Greenwich Hospital conceded that these buildings

have a degree of charm and character and are examples of service buildings that provide an understanding of how the market functioned in times past

but then went on to say

Nevertheless their rentention is not possible with the proposed service yard configuration and in any event listed building consent for their demolition already exists. The Council does not object to their loss.

That seemed a pretty weak argument even at the time – basically – ‘we can’t be bothered to alter our design to make it work and who’s going to stop us, Big Boy?’

Despite the efforts of locals (it’s always hard when you’re fighting against the efforts of your own MP – Nick Raynsford – take note of Iain Duncan Smith and the Walthamstow track / Boris Johnson farce yesterday – a politician I’m not specially fond of but who at least stands up for his constituents over his party…) the market battle was lost.

But that was then. Now the goalposts have moved. There is a new broom at Greenwich Hospital – perhaps one happier to look at the long-term benefits of keeping Greenwich as a place of heritage that tourists and Londoners will want to continue visiting rather than turning the whole thing into a mall – short-termism in action.

The development is to be allowed to lapse – which is great – I am particularly happy that they will replace the roof as a job that does actually need doing – a sensible thing that will enhance the heritage rather than Disneyfy it. They are, apparently, talking February for the job – a time of year that is sympathetic to market stallholders – it’s always going to mean loss of earnings but February is the least visited month – they seem to have thought about it.

In fact I have high hopes that the new guard actually have Greenwich’s best interests at heart, rather than the best way to create revenue in the short term. They seem to have recognised that the best way to keep cash flowing for the charity is to keep the assets desireable – something I am delighted about.

I can’t help thinking that now is the time to lobby to ensure the security of the old banana house and stable. Surely any ‘piecemeal’ development they’re planning instead of the old plans could work around it? Spruce it up and the towery-bit would be a great little studio/offices for a trendy company, and the florists is a real asset to the market, whatever the time of year.

In trying to find the place to write to Greenwich Hospital I did find this rather odd address (from the equally odd History of Maritime Greenwich site, clicked through from the official contacts page on the Hospital site – with the appearance of a serious ‘corporate’ site, it nevertheless starts out ‘London is an awesome city and offers lots and lots of attractions and places to visit.‘ Yo, dude ;-) ) Look at this:

888 Undergrown Street

I’m guessing that’s not going to help much (try putting the postcode into Streetmap – it gets very hot under the ether…)

The actual postal address seems to be:

Greenwich Hospital’s head office is located at:
3 Creed Court
5 Ludgate Hill
London EC4M 7AA
Tel: 020 7396 0150
Fax: 020 7396 0149

But it feels a bit general for my liking. I’d love to have a proper, concrete address that will actually get to the new guy so that we can let him know what we think (and I am willing to accept that some of you may actually welcome the demolition of the building – you’re welcome to write too, just don’t expect me to buy you a drink in the pub for it…) He seems like a sensible chap – let’s hope he’s into ‘everyday’ heritage as well as the big-hitters…

Any ideas? Paul?

Greenwich Market NOT to be Redeveloped

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Folks – just getting in news that Greenwich Market is NOT to be redeveloped wholesale any more.

J tells me:

“There was a big meeting yesterday evening in the chapel of the RNC, market traders and shop leaseholders attending.

Edward Dolby stood up and declared that they would be letting the planning permission lapse and that therefore the market development was not going ahead.

Instead they would be concentrating on a programme of piecemeal improvement, such as renovating the floor and renewing the roof.”

I never said that Greenwich Market didn’t need some work and certainly a new roof would be amazing, but this now gives us the opportunity to tell Greenwich Market how WE think it can be improved instead of having a redevelopment imposed on us.

Of course I’m hoping that this is a reprieve for Durnford Street’s gorgeous little florists, Greenwich’s market traders and prospects for tourism based on our town having something unique rather than an off-the shelf shopping mall. It will also mean that the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College can be just that – grounds.

Obviously there will be a little disruption for traders like J while the roof’s being redeveloped but they seem to be being sensible about it – I understand February was mentioned for that – the least popular month for trade – and, as J says, it means that he can now plan his life again.

More news as I get it, chaps.

Empty Market

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Glad to see that BBC London have picked up on the rubbish way Greenwich has been laid out for visitors. True – they can get very easily from the station to the venue without real bother, and I guess that’s an achoevement of sorts – but the flip side is that they don’t have to come in contact with Greenwich itself at all.

It’s hardly surprising with whopping great barriers like this that no one’s going to the market – if they know there’s a market/ interesting shops there at all they’ll probably assume it’s all closed or something, especially with the cheery foam-handed stewards waving them through in a ‘nothing to see here’ kind of way.

I can’t say it’s a bad atmosphere – even spectacularly failing yesterday by taking my bike into town at 5.30pm (I know, whatever was I thinking) I was surrounded by happy people (both spectators and volunteers) who had spent all day in the sun and by rights should be grumpy by that point. In fact it’s an excellent atmosphere – it’s just damn hard to get to the market even if you’re actively trying.

I’m willing to bet that a large proportion of event goers didn’t even know about the market. So we need to make a fuss, make a visit and dig into our pockets, folks.

On a similar thread, I’ve been down the past couple of days planning to eat out locally at least a few times over the ‘Lympic period (in the places that haven’t raised their prices, natch) and I have to say that yesterday evening absolutely everywhere was full, even the places I wouldn’t piss on if they were burning, but I suspect that once the Equestrian events are over the tumbleweed may blow back in if us locals don’t get out and at least have a go.

So, I’m collecting a list of places that haven’t put up prices. I know Inside haven’t, and Kum Luang (where I ended up last night because I’d thought they were empty only to find them as full as everywhere else) but where else hasn’t put prices up?

Market People

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Greenwich Market as a concept has an uncertain future. The village market that used to sell the kind of tat intriguing vintage items tourists, foreign and local, flocked to Greenwich to see has already gone (though I was relieved to be able to buy a set of old door handles the other week from one of the stall holders who have moved to the Clocktower site) and the covered market, although to be nominally kept in the redevelopment mooted to start next year will move to the grounds of the ORNC for an indeterminate time before returning to a sanitised reincarnation of its former self.

We may keep something that is called ‘a market’ – but the grubby, slightly anarchic, bohemian quality that has grown to represent Greenwich’s various markets, not without its dangers, but something I love and which still just about clings to areas like the Clocktower has never felt more in danger of being subsumed into sterile conformity.

Part of the joy of markets is the slightly hap-hazard, quirky individualism that has grown organically. You can’t ‘create’ one. The clean, sparkling – and terminally tedious – Apple Market in Covent Garden is testament to that. It has to develop, slowly.

There are two parts to the formula needed to propagate such a tender plant. Punters – which we still have, though I understand in fewer numbers than in previous Februarys – and the stall holders themselves.

Market stallholders are a curious breed. We have our stereotypical images of them, good and bad, but there’s one thing you can’t level at them – they are rarely dull. Many have extraordinary previous lives and they usually have a story to tell.

Old Phantom mucker Paul – author, journalist and passionate Greenwich market preservation fighter – has just started a new blog about the stallholders of London markets and I’ve been having a look.

As you might expect from a journalist, it’s closer to a print publication in style – less ‘chatty’ than most of the blogs I read, each post being a Q&A with a stallholder (some of which are in Greenwich, of course, which is my excuse for including it today). I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it transfer to the glossy mag of a Sunday newspaper at some point.

The questions follow a pattern, though are not a complete formula and it makes a fascinating read even if – or perhaps because of – once or twice a thing said by someone guarantees I will never shop with them, though other interviewees make me positively want to visit their stall. I particularly like the butterfly guy…

But that’s where the interest lies. This intriguing group of diverse individuals present themselves warts and all – and I have just added it to my reading list.

Last Call for Comments on Market Appeal

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Folks, the number of ‘final deadlines’ for comments about Greenwich Hospital Trust’s appeal against the UNANIMOUS decision by Greenwich councillors of ALL parties to reject their proposals to develop the covered market seem to be as confused as the process that you’re supposed to follow to have your say. Below is the The Phantom’s Easy Guide to having your say. If you get bored with my preamble, cut to the bit in red below.

I read only last week that the deadline was 22nd April, but I’m reliably informed the deadline has NOT passed. Instead, if you haven’t commented yet then there is still a teeny tiny amount of time to do so.

Certainly, if you’re one of the people who agree with me that this is a disgraceful presumption on the part of Greenwich Hospital, to assume that absolutely everyone on the council is wrong, don’t rely on our local MP to represent you.

Nick Raynsford thinks it’s a great idea – in fact it was him who apparently told GH to appeal – against a council led BY HIS OWN PARTY. Of course he would love to see more giant developments going up – his links with the building industry are far stronger than any impulse to actually represent his own constituents – or, indeed, his own party.

No – if you object, you need to say so – you’ll get no joy from Nick. Actually, I guess, if you don’t object, have your say so too – I’m sure GH will appreciate your support.

A few notes on what the Planning Inspectors are looking for. They have to consider objections on points of law. Inappropriate massing, traffic implications and other hotel capacity in the area will all rack up and they WILL take into account the fact that absolutely everyone on the council unanimously rejected the plans. Purely aesthetc ‘quality’ issues, are more difficult to argue, as it’s subjective.

However this IS a World Heritage Site, and I personally think that they would be irresponsible to Britain’s reputation as a tourist destination to create something so wholly inappropriate to a place people flock to from all over the world to see for its history – and, of course, at the same time, spend cash.

A requirement both of National Planning, under PPG 15, and the Borough SPD – Supplementary Planning Document, is that the development MUST ‘preserve or enhance” the conservation area, and protect the setting of the Listed Buildings (which is all of the Joseph Kay, stucco-fronted buildings. A hotel that dwarfs its historic neighbours hardly does that.

The Durnford Street buildings may not be listed, but they ARE part of the conservation area. I can’t see how demolishing them to build a trash compacter will enhance the listed buildings’ setting. And what the hell point is there in getting rid of real cobbles if they’re only going to replace them with fake cobbles – though of course GH refer to as ‘granite sets’? None of this was mentioned in the Hospital’s ‘consultation.’

I’m the first to agree that the 1950s inner buildings and the roof are pretty hideous, but this isn’t the development the market needs. A simple glass roof (without those hideous pillars that close the place rather than open it up,) and discreet replacements for the 1950s monstrosities would be just fine. Greed has ensured that the proposed Hotel Building will tower over the adjacent Joseph Kay buildings, and dominate them from key viewpoints on a World Heritage Site, and with so many businesses reliant on tourists coming to Greenwich, it is our duty to ensure that they still have a reason to visit.

And it CAN be done – you only have to look at the fantastic development at the Old Brewery (by the Greenwich Foundation who sometimes accidentally get confused with Greenwich Hospital Trust, poor things) to see that history and contemporary styling can work.

So – how to object (or support if you happen to think it’s a great idea…)

This is the link to the case. You have until the 4th May to submit comments. Click the very bottom button, which will take you to the planning portal. From there it’s pretty easy to fill in the form, and just put a couple of paragraphs of what you think of the project – you don’t have to send a letter or supporting dcuments if you don’t want to. It can be as long or as short as you like.

If you’re still after ideas, Paul has sent me a list of his “Eight Ridiculous Claims” which you might enjoy:

1 “The scheme enhances the character and appearance of the conservation area. Elements such as the adjacent storage yards adjacent to Durnford Street are of poor quality. Their appearance clearly detracts from the area.” (2.7)

(A major plank of their appeal is that, by knocking down the stables and banana warehouse, they will improve Durnford Street. You have to give them points for sheer cheek!)

2 “The scheme is not visible from viewpoints outside the area.” (2.9)

( There are no drawings supplied to prove this, but Elevation C clearly shows the scheme is visible from the immediate area, and will be visible from many buildings around the market, as well as the park.)

3 “The scheme will not be detrimental to the setting of the adjacent Grade II listed buildings.” (2.10)
(see above)

4 “The council has not taken into account the economic benefit of the new hotel in enlivening the area as a visitor destination, this protecting a number of buildings around the conservation area in the long term.”(2.14)

(Will the loss of informal, quirky stalls and the introduction of shops that can afford higher rents really benefit the area, if we lose the distinctive, informal feel of the market?)

5 “Unattractive outbuildings [ie the Durnford Street buildings] create a wholly unattractive entrance to the market and do not contribute positively to the Conservation Area. (2.31)
6 “The removal of the [Durnford Street] buildings… and new market roof all enhance the character of the conservation area.” (2.33)

(This is an assertion which even the Appellants don’t believe – otherwise they would have mentioned the demolition of the buildings in their display. Remember they are being replaced by a trash compactor!)

7 “The existing market roof is locally listed [but]… is not of particular importance being late Victorian/early Edwardian in date. The current covering comprises corrugated plastic… which does not contribute to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.” (2.36)

(Would a thin plastic roof really be better than a glass structure, which the Appellants have allowed to fall into disrepair?)

8 “The net increase in traffic… is insignificant and would not adversely impact traffic flow.” (2.53)

(No extra traffic from a 105 room hotel? Remember the main entrance and exit would be on College Approach, which is always busy.)

I leave it with you, guys. Yours to object, support or ignore, but you only have until 4th May to have your say.

Parrot Antiques

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Phil asks:

“In November last year, I was having a look in the Stockwell Street Market,in the covered part just off King William Walk. One of the traders wasselling, amongst other things, some nice furniture made from reclaimed Oak.I think they were called Parrot Antiques. The proprietor was a lady called- if I remember correctly – Billy (?!) Having unsuccessfully exhausted Google, I was wondering whether you or any of your readers might know where Parrot Antiques can be found now?”

The Phantom doesn’t know where most of the old traders from the Village market ended up – they all just vanished hours after they were booted off the site. To be honest, I don’t remember a Parrot Antiques – or even furniture made from oak in that area of the place, unless it was the bit just inside from the open market.

It would be helpful to know where all these traders ended up. You never know when you might need a vintage door fitting or an army surplus jacket. The Old Bottle Shop is now in Trafalgar Road, having teamed up (in a most enjoyably unlikely fashion, with a purveyor of ladies underwear) and the vintage clothing shop’s now in the covered market.

But the rest? I just don’t know. The one I’d really like to know about is Beehive Coffee. Are they now these guys? There’s not much info on the website, but the address looks promising.

A Find…

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I’ve never really had much luck with the ‘antiques’ bit of Greenwich Market. I’m convinced that most of the stuff I see on display was in a job lot at the auction the week before for a fraction of the price, and although I always have a poke about, generally I come to the conclusion that much of it’s just (whispers) tat.

But then I made that one find that negates all the times I’ve come away with nothing, and my interest has been rekindled.

The sweet old gent who sold me The Queen’s London – a massively heavy souvenir book of 434 giant photographic plates, a pictorial record of London life at the time of Victoria’s death, told me he was delighted to be selling something that was actually older than he was, and we spent a good 15 minutes flipping through the pictures together before he’d part with it.

It must have cost a fortune when it came out – every page is a full size photograph. It wasn’t dirt cheap now (fifteen quid) but it will keep me happy for hours. That’s the kind of tragic Phantom I am…

It covers all of London, so most of it’s not Greenwich-y, though there are the obligatory pics of the park, the ORNC and a splendidly robust picture of the Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich Arsenal…

…but I love it all, whether it’s “Luncheon at Ascot,” “Morning Assembly at a Board School,” “Teaching Boys to Swim at Kensington Public Baths” or the rustic charm of Mile End Road.

I particularly like the bits where the photograph didn’t come out very well or there was a boring section, so they just got an artist to pencil-in figures, such as this dapper chap outside the Military Academy at Woolwich:

The picture at the top of this post was taken in May 1897, when the Prince of Wales (“accompanied by his beautiful wife”) arrived at the Northern end of the newly-built Blackwall tunnel, on its official opening day. If you look carefully at the bottom of the photo, the book’s publishers clearly didn’t think the original picture was festive enough, so they’ve got their pet artist to draw some extra bunting and another policeman on horseback for good measure…

Just out of interest, the plate facing this scene in the book is ( off-topic, I know, but you’ve got to see this…) the Field Lane refuge in Clerkenwell, showing a couple of hundred derelicts in flat caps and shaggy beards being doled out mugs of something from a watering can, the poor sods’ only solace being quotes from the Scriptures. The Queen’s London is impressed – “there are no forms of philanthropy more admirable,” it gushes.


So – don’t give up on Greenwich Market’s ‘antique’ days. There are gems to be found. It just takes some dedication – and patience…

Greenwich Market

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Heavens – it’ ALL happening!

Greenwich Council have UNANIMOUSLY REJECTED the plans for Greenwich Market – on a number of grounds – height, overdevelopment, traffic and that all-important, design quality.

I confess I am very surprised – but delighted too. Perhaps GHT can come up with something nice now. A GOOD design could really perk up the market – I am SO not against developing the space SYMPATHETICALLY – perhaps a truly boutique hotel rather than some giant monster, a plan that keeps the historic features, the traders that make the market what it is and the ‘feel’ f the place, just losing the nasty buildings (I know the 50s ones are ‘historic,’ but they’re not of much architectural merit, even the preservationist in me knows that…)

I know a lot of us didn’t have much faith in the council istening to people – but I am very pleased that they actually thought about this considered the views of residents and interested parties. I hope Greenwich Hospital will do the same now.

Just Like Mammas

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

I may have taken a couple of days off blogging, but I have been squirreling around, honest.

For example, I’ve been looking at the sad old sight that is the old village market. I guess I didn’t realise how much I’d miss somewhere where, apart from Beehive’s coffee, I wasn’t a regular purchaser. It all looked so forlorn, behind those white ‘graffiti-me’ hoardings, reminding me that I can’t just wander through any more, can’t find weird furniture fittings rusting in compartmented boxes or an old military jacket, a belly dance outfit or a Moroccan lantern just any time I want to any more.

There are a few relocations, I notice – the Bottle Shop is now down Trafalgar Road, in the old print works (which in turn is now in Crane St.) 360 Degrees is now in a much smaller shop in the covered market. But the randomness, quirkiness and – let’s face it, tattiness – is quite gone.

But I was cheered by a new stall in the covered market. Just Like Mammas isn’t actually new – but it’s been tucked away round the back since it’s opened. Yesterday it was in the main part of the market and the poor guys seemed a bit overwhelmed by the sudden influx of trade.

I’ll guess it’s a family business, Dad(who at least sounds Italian), Mum and kiddie, who have bought a real wood-burning pizza oven (I suspect you can buy such things in the Italian equivalent of B&Q but I’ve never seen one before) and make proper thin-crust pizzas while you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Poor guys – in that tiny stove they can only make one or two at a time and though they were working flat-out, and though the pizzas themselves only took minutes to bake, the wait was looooong.

Thing is, the pizzas just looked so good, people all around me were ordering and ordering, which gave them a backlog that was quite scary. They just weren’t used to actually having people wanting their goods and they looked a bit flustered. But they were fun and friendly as they worked and the queue atmosphere was not unpleasant. And I got time to see the stall.

They have a little table and chairs painted in red, white and green (the table has a little Lambretta sign on it, and the sandwich board what looks like a scooter headlamp. I was also pleased to see a fire bucket just in case…

So was it worth the wait? Yup. Crispy, crusty and with nice-quality fillings. Nothing too fancy – there are only four choices – very Neapolitan – but all done well. Prices average for Greenwich Market – £3.95 for a basic Margarita, £4.95 for the other three – Vegetariana, Spinach & Gorgonzola and Salami.

They were only in the main part of the market because it was a Bank Holiday weekend and someone had taken the time off, so if you want to find them in future, you should look down the little side street that goes down to Beachcomber restaurant. And hey – there the wait might not be so hellish…