Archive for the ‘Peninsula’ Category

Flatpacks and Fisticuffs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

If you don’t know where this is, it’s probably not a surprise. It’s possibly the most secret ‘eco park’ Greenwich has. I wrote about it back in 2007 when it was still relatively young; it’s filled out a little now, but not for much longer if Bad People have their way.

When I heard Sainsburys were moving, I was fed up on a personal level – where I currently walk to the supermarket in future it’s a bus, a drive or a long walk with heavy shopping.

It annoyed me that they were definitely not going to let the space out to a food retailer – for obvious reasons, of course, but still very irritating. Selfishly, I wanted a retailer there that I’d actually use on a regular basis.

Of course I’m able-bodied and can easily shift my sorry carcass over to the new place if I have to (though actually it will probably prove to be a boost for all the smaller places, as frankly I’ll be going there in future, which I guess I should have done anyway. Sainsburys are showing me no loyalty, so I’ll take my own elsewhere) but for anyone with mobility issues, it’s going to be a (literal) pain.

But I’d made my peace with that. I’ll just go to the smaller places. It’s not the end of the world. And if Sainsburys are refusing to have a food retailer there, I do accept that someone else will fill the gap.

But IKEA? The place that creates traffic chaos wherever it is even when it’s out of town? When we already have a flyover/roundabout so congested it creates angry people on a daily basis and sprouts ghost bikes like flowers? It’s already not safe. It’s already a nightmare to go round. I’ve had an accident there myself – not life-threatening but definitely car-threatening.

I guess I should say I don’t have anything intrinsically bad to say about IKEA over any other multinational blandity. I don’t shop there myself but then I don’t shop at a lot of sheds. But they are infamous for their queues and to site a store within yards of a traffic blackspot (the Blackwall Tunnel takes centre stage in pretty much every traffic report on every radio station every day…) is just asking for trouble.

Their argument to a council which is either gullible beyond measure, greedy beyond measure or corrupt beyond measure is the most disingenuous you can imagine. People will, apparently, take public transport to the superstore, then pay to have it all delivered to them.

Yeah, right. So someone with a car is going to say one Saturday morning: ‘You know what? I think I’ll take three buses to IKEA today, pick out a flat pack wardrobe I could get in the back of the Maestro I’m leaving behind, pay thirty five quid to have it delivered in two weeks’s time, enjoy a slap up meatball feast then take three buses home again.”

And yet outgoing Council Leader Chris Roberts and his cohorts thought that was a viable argument. They have approved a scheme to put a major traffic hazard next to a major traffic blackspot.

It’s nuts. The amount of car-parking available, even when they’ve bulldozed the Micro Eco Park above (which IKEA apparently say is ‘regrettable’ – big bloomin’ deal), is tiny. The lorries delivering to the shop alone will clog up the roads and if you get angry people on that roundabout now imagine the fisticuffs every week once IKEA arrive.

Of course they’ll argue it’s nothing to do with them. All their customers came by bike.

You may disagree with me, think it’s a great idea and that flattening the park is just a sign of Progress.

But if you don’t there’s a group starting up saying No to IKEA with petitions and an event on 26th April in the Eco Park behind Sainsburys. There’s an open letter I was sent in PDF form but I’m useless at hosting PDFs so it’s probably best just to go to their Facebook page. Boris still has to ratify Greenwich Council’s decision – so there’s a slim (very slim, frankly given his track record…) chance that if there’s enough local opposition, it will get refused yet.

Mad Road Signage at the Odeon

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Alex asks:
I was traveling to the Odean cinema this evening and by mistake I drove into a “bus lane only”.I would like to find out if there is any cameras there and do I have to worry about being giving a ticket ??? 

There’s certainly a very odd piece of road management for car drivers coming from the direction of the O2 and wanting to turn right to go to B&Q /Sainsburys/Comet/ Odeon, where the ‘obvious’ place to turn is actually a bus-only lane; drivers are required to take the one immediately left of that. It is marked with No Entry signs, but isn’t clear if you’re seeing the junction for the first time. 

The Phantom replies:

I don’t think there are any cameras on the road itself, but if you were in front of a bus, or there was one coming towards you, they may have snapped you with an on-board camera – it happened to me once in Croydon while they were doing the tram network and the road was a dog’s dinner of signage. Croydon council must have made a fortune out of confused Phantoms. They certainly didn’t spend it on signs…

But yes, that junction is a total mess. It’s dangerous, too – there have been a number of accidents with buses recently, but  it ISN’T clear where cars have to go if they are turning right into the Odeon/ B&Q / Sainsburys (and soon to be Matalan) estate.

The ‘main’ road is a bus lane, and there are two ‘no entry’ signs, one either side, that seem to imply there is no entry allowed whatsoever. Even if you know where you’re going you really have to think twice. The driver is forced to go to the extreme left, which just feels wrong, especially if you know that when you get round the corner you’re not going to be allowed into the little service road that runs along the shops. Then the little entrance into the car park is surrounded by hedges (very nice but…) that again, look like they’re not the main entrance.

I’ve not actually committed this particular sin, but my brain has been tempted to – it takes serious concentration every time to get it right. From the other end it’s much clearer -people who go up the service road from that end generally know exactly what they’re doing (and always seem to be the arrogant, swanky-vehicle brigade who don’t give a damn about bus cameras anyway…) but  from the north, Alex, yes, it’s a real issue. You are not alone.

This junction really needs to be looked at – and not just for motorists. The bus accidents a year or so ago created a little frisson of tutting, but I’m not convinced that if anything at all was done about it, it’s made any difference. I can’t see that if IKEA come to the peninsula it’s going to get anything other than a lot worse.

Sorry there are no pics – I meant to go out and snap some but haven’t had a moment.

Kirkland Place

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Never heard of it? No, nor had I – and if you were to go by any histories or old maps of Greenwich you wouldn’t be any the wiser either. I haven’t found a single map that actually shows Kirkland Place as such. Some have the road marked, none seem to name it. And yet at least one Phantophile not only knew it but lived there for many years as a child.

I was puzzled when John contacted me about Kirkland Place where his dad had a shop in the 1940s and 50s, though it all became a little easier to pinpoint when he sent me this photo, courtesy of Morden College Archives (Morden College, of course, owned – and still own – large swathes of Greenwich; you will be pleased to know they have archived their considerable  history. Even better, Hilary Peters who, if you remember, was responsible for the fabulous little corner garden and Foot & Mouth Memorial at Ballast Quay, tells me that it is open to all for research (by appointment) – last time she tried, admittedly many years ago, it wasn’t open to women…)

But I digress. Because of a sign on the side of the shop, we can at least pinpoint where Kirkland Place was – 300 yards from the Seawitch Pub. The Seawitch was on Seawitch Lane, now Morden Wharf Lane and we know where that is:

The pub sounds a sweet little place. Mary Mills says in her (sadly out of print) Greenwich Marsh – The 300 Years before the Dome that it was slightly set back from the riverside path, with a little garden set aside from the roadway. I can’t really tell from this picture where that would have been, but I do like the jolly jack tar enjoying a pint on the left (not sure where this picture’s from – I’m suspecting Greenwich Heritage Centre)

The hostelry was built by one Charles Holcombe, a wealthy industrialist who’d taken a lease out on a large swathe of land, roughly where the old, dead Amylum site is now.

Don’t know if you know the delightful Valentines Park in Ilford – for many years it was closed up and used as council offices, but has been restored and is now probably one of the few reasons to visit Ilford. The gardens are particularly impressive – if you walk around them you can see garden history from Henry VIII’s time through all the major phases of horticultural fashion right up to the 1950s – but the reason I’m talking about it today is that it was Charles Holcombe’s gaff back in the 1840s when Ilford was a hell of a lot posher than Greenwich. In fact it was very smart indeed. It might have just lost the gigantic Wanstead House* a couple of miles away (a great story of the ultimate Regency Rake, a misused heiress and an embarrassed Duke of Wellington…) but in the Victorian age we’re looking at Blackheath-level poshness.

But hey – I have no other reaason to mention Redbridge other than the fact that Holcombe lived there.

Anyway, Holcombe built the Sea Witch, presumably for workers (Mary Mills reckons it was probably named for a famous American tea clipper; others ‘on the internet’ assume that it’s got folklore traditions; I just think they thought it was a cool name…) and I have no reason not to think he was also responsible for Kirkland Place as somewhere for employees on his ‘brass foundry, tar and asfelt works’ to live.

By the time John was born in 1947, the Sea Witch had been dead for seven years, bombed in an air raid. He remembers peddling his little red car, from the shop, which was on the corner of Tunnel Avenue and Morden Wharf Lane, opposite where the old Dreadnought School (where he attended) still is now,  up to the bombsite and back,  trying to keep up with the Blue Circle cement lorries,  reach the Mechanic’s Arms, do a 3 point turn and peddle down the lane. It took many years to redevelop the area, but the glucose works labs, until very recently, sat roughly where the pub used to be.

When he was five years old John had to have an appendix op at St Alphages Hospital.  His family came to visit  just before he went down for the operation, then returned to the shop. As John’s 15 year-old brother Tony was coming round the corner of Tunnel Avenue on that night (around the time John was having the operation) he saw a shadowy figure on the flat roof of 10 Kirkland Place.  He ran up the stairs to the second floor,  lifted the roof door and walked out but saw nobody there. He’s never been able to explain what or who he saw. Could it have been young John, having an out-of-body experience? Who knows…

Thinking back to the Seawitch – don’t you think with all that development that we were promised wouldn’t happen and now is, that a proper, historic Thameside pub on the west side of the peninsula would be a lovely thing? Enderby House is empty…


*razed to the ground for building materials to pay off massive gambling debts, though much of the park and features – including the grotto, inside which, in truly Gothick fashion, said rake once locked said heiress. There are also two classical temple-style follies, but they’re on private property and you can’t see them. Not something you expect to find in a back garden in Ilford…

Seriously, though, Valentines is worth a visit.

Peninsula Accident

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

I understand there was a horrible accident on Bugsby’s Way yesterday, between a pedestrian and a 486 bus, at the crossroads where the Odeon is. The Twitter feeds I saw claimed it was fatal, and if so I am thinking of that person’s relatives today, and what they must  be going through. I can’t imagine what that must be like or what I could say to make it any better at all.

Thing is, though, this isn’t the first accident there by any means. Jon tells me that  “this happened 3 weeks ago at the same spot with a 108 bus and a pedestrian” but despite the air ambulance’s attendance there “was no mention in the local papers or anywhere else” – certainly it wasn’t mentioned here as I didn’t know about it. Nor did I know about  the incident a year ago at same spot when a school girl was hit by a bus.

Clearly the proverbial ‘something’ needs to be done about this junction. There’s certainly a very odd piece of road management for car drivers coming from the direction of the O2 and wanting to turn right to go to B&Q /Sainsburys/Comet/ Odeon, where the ‘obvious’ place to turn is actually a bus-only lane; drivers are required to take the one immediately left of that. It is marked with No Entry signs, but isn’t clear if you’re seeing the junction for the first time and I’ve seen dozens of cars taking the wrong route over the years. I’ve never made that mistake myself (though I have accidentally driven down the bus lane on West Parkway thanks to duff signage) but I have to stop and think every time.

But this wasn’t between a car and a bus, as far as I know, but a pedestrian. Now, part of the problem could be pedestrians jay-walking because there’s a long wait between green men, or because there’s only an official crossing between GMV and the retail park on one side – if you’re coming from, say, Moseley Row and wanting to cross on the side near Holiday Inn, it’s pretty tempting to nip across the bit that doesn’t have a proper crossing. I know I’ve done it on occasion, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

According to Jon, even that’s not the issue. He lives at GMV and tells me that he watches, day in, day out, buses speeding and running red lights. If it’s that, then short of cameras at the traffic lights to catch people doing that (and I’m not even sure if it counts for buses?) then I’m a bit stuck.

Whatever, yesterday’s tragic incident is the third in two years. With building resuming on the peninsula, this really needs to be looked at.


Moseley Row

Monday, November 8th, 2010

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the name ‘Moseley?’

Yup, me too. Which is why I’ve always felt a little iffy walking through Moseley Row on the Peninsula, even though the spelling’s wrong. It’s clearly a modern road, so someone named this knowing full well the connotations the name carries. It’s been eating me up for some time, and I finally got round to tackling the issue the other day.

I made a cursory foray into various history books, to see if there was a famous Greenwichian Moseley, preferably nothing to do with Blackshirts or F1, but the most I could find was a mention of an Anne Moseley, spinster, in the Charlton church parish register. I’m sure Anne was a very nice Charlton spinster, but she didn’t sound the sort of person that late 20th Century road-namers would immediately choose.

It was Mary Mills who put me out of my misery and told me that the little road is named for her predecessor, Marian Moseley, who was Peninsula Ward councillor until her untimely death from a stroke, just before Christmas 1999.

Mary tells me Marian was a popular figure, who who worked in the local co-op bakery and lived on the Catelock estate with her sister Margaret.  With the shock of her passing, there was much local call for some kind of memorial to her life and work.

It was decided that one of the new Peninsula roads should be named after her, and everyone expected it to be ‘Marian Moseley Row.’ When it came to the grand unveiling, however, the sign revealed carried the shorter – and ever-so-slightly-disturbing ‘Moseley Row’. Perhaps Greenwich council place-naming office  misunderstood; perhaps they were trying to save on road-sign metal, who knows.

There was outrage, since despite the difference in spelling, frankly the lovely Marian wasn’t – and still isn’t – the first person who springs to mind on seeing that particular road sign but Mary and Co. were told it was too late to change it. Once a road sign is chosen, that’s it, apparently.

Be careful what you wish for, folks…

Fairytale of Greenwich

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Season’s greetings from Fairyland!

Well, actually, it’s the Tate & Lyle factory (formerly Amylum) taken by Stevie with one of those starry filters which makes it look a whole lot better than I’ve ever seen it.

It’s possibly the last Christmas that we’ll see this particular sight – the place is allegedly closing down. I guess there aren’t going to be that many residents who will mourn the extraordinary repertoire of odours that it pumps out (like Revels, really – you never know which one you’re going to get…) but it will be much missed by the poor sods who actually rely on it for work.

I find myself wondering what will happen to this part of the river – one of the only industrial wharves left in this stretch, which, if memory serves, Ken had announced needed to stay industrial. But things have changed, and who can tell what will happen now. Ther’s still a lot of industry there – we don’t tend to think about it much, but it’s a big bit of land – a walk round the Thames Path proves that, with much interesting stuff going on. Some bits of the path still remind me of something out of The Long Good Friday.

Will it be cleaned up and turned into flats? More of those million-quid Canary-Wharf-style pads that The Standard reckons City guys are selling-up more quickly than any area of the market? Or will it just quietly crumble and moulder away as fewer and fewer people use the Thames Path because the Lovells’ Wharf development makes it look like it’s closed…

But that’s for another day. Today, I’m celebrating the joyous marriage of a few brake lights, street lamps, office strip-lighting – and a star filter. And, of course, the relationship between the Dome and a couple of puddles…

While I’m on the subject of Art around the A102M, if you have six minutes going begging, take a peek at the curiously compulsive film/animation Bus Stop by multi-media artist Christophe Bruchansky, shot in much the same place and possibly much the same time as Stevie’s pics. Not much actually happens – but that seems to be rather the point…

Art, if not industry, thrives on the Peninsula…

Syral UK – You Heard It Here First, Folks…

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

I have received the following from someone calling themselves only “The Mole.” Take special note of the last paragraph…

(The company is) “currently Syral UK, originally Tunnel Refineries – taken over by Amylum, taken over by Tate & Lyle, sold to Syral (last year) part of the Tereos group.

(It’s a) plant processing wheat flour into starch, wheat proteins and glucose syrups, there is also a distillery (opened by Dennis Thatcher, no less) attached, manufacturing pure alcohol for the drinks industry. (Beefeater Gin, for one – TGP)

Appreciate these many chemical processes cause many interesting and varied smells. But many steps had been taken over the last few years to address the problem.

Anyhoo, the fact of the matter is that most of the products we make are in direct competition with yer bog standard sugar. The price of sugar until recently was fixed artificially high with all kinds of EU subsidies etc, which have now been been reduced hence the price of sugar falling. Couple that with our costs rapidly going up with the spiralling cost of wheat (our basic building block) and increasing energy costs. It wasn’t looking good. In addition, under the ownership of Tate & Lyle, little or no investment was made. It has now reached the point where the plant is almost falling apart and needs major investment to rectify. Syral own around another 5 units in Europe, making similar products, none of which are running to full capacity – lack of demand etc.

So it looks like they’ve chosen the Greenwich site for the chop and supply customers from
the continent. Don’t think being situated next to one of the most god awful traffic bottle necks in the country helped either.

As I said before, on Thursday it was announced that we had a max of 12 months left (various legs of the production could be wound down sooner). Like you and others, I’m still surprised no official announcement has been made – nothing on the internal web site either. They are now entered into negotiations with the unions in order to bash out redundancy packages etc etc. Apart from that it’s business as usual.

Another interesting fact is that we actually rent the land off Morden College, and think it is stipulated that the land must be returned back to the flower strewn meadow it probably once was.”

So, there you have it, guys. The only information I’ve been able to find out (and, indeed, as I have heard from others in more of a position to be able to discover stuff like this, that anyone has been able to find out.) I wouldn’t hold your breath for the flower-strewn meadow, but hey – it’s a thought…