Monday, September 30, 2013

New Antic high street pub is squatted

Just as renovations were about to start in the old Job Centre building to prepare it for (they say) a December/January opening, squatters have moved in.

The law differentiates between residential buildings and 'disused factories, warehouse or pubs', so different rules apply. The occupiers' notice states that if the landlord or lessee (Antic pubs) want to get them out they will have to issue a claim for possession via the County or High Court.

However, should the occupiers begin to organise events that upset the residential neighbours, their occupation could come to a swift end under the amended Criminal Justice & Public Order Act...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Deptford X has started...on your doorstep

This "Flash Mob" event yesterday marked the beginning of Deptford X Visual Arts Festival, now in its 15th year. You may have got a sense that something was up since artists have been scurrying around for the past couple of days getting ready for this festival.

Deptford X 2013 opened on Friday and is open today, and next week from Thur 3rd-Sunday 6th October. Go to to see what's going on – but there's so much to see, it might be best to just go out and look for people who seem to know where they're going! Here's some stuff we managed to see yesterday. Deptford High Street blog also has a round up of the goings on.

Noemi Lakmaier The Observer Effect at Gallop, 198 Deptford High Street

 The Bent Tin Shop (aka Robert Walker) gets a make-over from Artmongers. It's now called "el cheap 'ou"
Hollie Paxton Deptford Tin Street at El Cheapo (see above)
Hollie also has some
Deptford inspired jewellery in the window of Abermarle & Bond.

Harry Pye and friends Tintin in Deptford at Norfolk House, Brookmill Road

Spotted in gallery at Enclave on Resolution Way...

Deptford Is Forever have put printed bags with a message (Give Us Back Our Bloomin' Anchor) in lots of shops and market stalls for traders to put their customers' purchases in.

Odd little plaques by Debbie Sharp on benches around Deptford.
Lead artist Bob & Roberta Smith in front of his painting Art Makes People Powerful (which is the theme of this year's Deptford X) at Norfolk House on Brookmill Road.

Rebecca Beinart was in Sue Godfrey Nature Park showing the herbal remedies she has made from the plants growing in the park.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Deptford Anchor spotted, among other things...

This is where the Deptford Anchor is, and where it will probably stay.

It's in the Oympia Shed at Convoys Wharf, courtesy of Hutchison Whampoa. Covered in cobwebs and pigeon shit. Why?

The council officer in charge of regeneration of the high street told us over a month ago that it will probably end up being 'part of a new development' – so here it is, in the hands of the least likely people to care about the history and heritage of Deptford, but who have probably got the best security.

The anchor's safe here, that's for certain. This place is so secure that visitors to London Open House at Convoys Wharf on Saturday had to SIGN IN with an exact time, and stay within the bollards and not stray off-piste or else they'd get a severe telling off, and then SIGN OUT with an exact time when they left.

That was apparently due to Health & Safety, yet not every visitor was given the flyer that carried the disclaimer that Convoys Wharf Properties and Hutchison Whampoa had absolutely nothing to do with you breaking your leg crossing the massive blue electrical cable that crossed the bridge to the pier where you could buy coffee and tea (and not much else) off a sole trader for £2 a hit and imagine what it would all be like when built.

Probably not very nice, since the imaginary tall buildings behind you might triple the wind factor on the pier. Oddly, we tripped ungainly on the electrical cable cover, which was exactly where the outgoing and incoming Directors of Hutchison Whampoa Properties European Division (Messrs Benyon and Hayden) spent most of their time on site....both armed with cameras, taking pictures of each other to pass the time on their trip hazard watch.

The signing in and out for visitors was probably very useful for Hutchison & Whampoa to claim they had completed yet another public consultation and be able to give figures, whilst manipulating all the actual consultation they did.

For instance, they asked visitors what we would like to happen in the Olympia Shed as though they had no ideas of their own. They did have some ideas, but as we understand it, English Heritage have firmly suggested the fabric of the building cannot be interfered with too much, although this wasn't fully explained. This is almost the only bit of the site they are not allowed to build on (so far), but now they've been told they can't turn it into the glass palace they envisaged last time round.

They intend to make a profit out of it somehow, so God knows why they were asking Open House visitors, who may be less likely to offer up the sort of ideas that could come from others less interested in architecture, such as a duplication of the Millennium Dome (cinemas, music venues, restaurants). Open House visitors might have chosen more heritage-related ideas, but we shall never know, since even when you put your name down just to be updated, you never are.

Here's a grumpy Henry VIII looking to get arrested...

Bill came over from London Open House at the Master Shipwright's House to have a gander and frighten the developers. (For a report on Open House at the Master Shipwright's go to Deptford Is...). Bill was part of the original campaign against excessive redevelopment at Convoys that began as soon as the previous owner Rupert Murdoch began putting in plans, that culminated in 2005/6 with Murdoch selling the site to Hutchisons. Deptford Is... are continuing Bill's and others' work through the Build The Lenox and Sayes Court Garden projects.

Here's a NEW misleading model of Terry Farrell's masterplan for the redevelopment of the Royal Dockyard of Henry VIII that was on show at Convoys Wharf. Note the weird disappearing 48 storey building which for some reason is totally see-thru and almost invisible. Do they imagine we will not note its presence when it is built? 

The other two 38-storey buildings are about seven times the height of Crossfields. This is not about providing more much needed housing for London. These are luxury homes. Are there not plenty of them already?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Deptford's FUTURE gets a preview at London Open House weekend at TWO venues

At the Waiting Room coffee house this afternoon some contractors acting as representatives of Convoys Wharf S.A.R.L. (a company registered offshore to avoid tax and legislation) AKA Hutchison Whampoa, popped by to put up a poster about their London Open House day.

After they'd gone, the cafe's lovely proprietors added their own hand-written flash "Check out the development that will affect your area".

It's very kind of Hard Hat to tell us about this, after all, they didn't have to. Surely they don't really want us locals to come to their open day anyway cos otherwise they'd have done a bit more than put up  a poster up in a coffee house.Why not leaflet our doors, surely they could afford that, what with their owner, Li Ka Shing, being the 8th richest billionaire in the world.

Take heed. This may be the last chance you, Deptford citizens, will get to physically view the models that accompany the proposals for Convoys Wharf which currently reside with Lewisham Planning and are due to be decided by the end of this year. (There is still time, then, to add your comments, despite the premature deadline given earlier this year). Please do! Tell them how deceptive their models are! Tell them what you feel!

There will be an Open Day at Convoys Wharf this Saturday 21st September, 11am-5pm. You can go onto the actual site (something you're never allowed to do at any other time) and view the plans concocted by the architects Farrells (the same Terry Farrell who created the MI6 building at Vauxhall, aha). The plans have not changed much since the last exhibition which we reported on in March (see bottom of this post for more Convoys related posts), and you can still view the plans in the Deptford Lounge or online.

But this is an opportunity to get on the site and IMAGINE the 12-18 storey buildings, topped by the 48-storey tower that is accompanied by two 38-storey towers. For reference, the nearest tall building is the new one at Paynes & Borthwick Wharf right next door. That's 18 storeys. If that's not tall enough for you, there's Aragon Tower further down at Pepys Estate, that's 28 storeys (whilst Eddystone & Daubeney are 24). So! twice the height! IMAGINE!

Imagine being surrounded by buildings like we are on Crossfields but with every building being two to three times as tall and then also, nine to ten times as tall. And only 14% of them being "affordable".

Find it on the Open House website here. It seems to have disappeared from the 'Lewisham' listings (which includes Lewisham Arthouse, Glass Mill Leisure Centre and 8 more), so don't search for it by borough! Find it in our own special section: Deptford.


Master Shipwright's House

Find it here (listed under Greenwich and Deptford). Sat & Sun, 10am – 4pm
NB: Access may be restricted at Watergate Street by gas works being done for Paynes & Borthwick Wharf. Access also possible via Deptford Green. All complaints:
United Construction.

Next door to the Convoys Wharf site is the 16th century building (later modified in 1708) that was once part of the King's Yard and overlooked the Double Dry Dock. Both were built in 1513 on the orders of King Henry VIII to create the Royal Naval Dockyard which went on to build ships for war and empire (and empire-related piracy), as well as science and exploration, that made Deptford an amazing hub of industry and technology, of making and manufacturing, for four hundred years.

The Master Shipwright oversaw the ships being built in the Double Dry Dock. If you want to know why the building was separated from the yard, come and visit. There'll be plans and photos on show, plus some extras – because this year is the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's founding of the Royal Dockyard. 

On Saturday at the Master Shipwright's House, there will be cannon fire on the hour and costumes in the morning, historians and artists who love Deptford, the actors from Horrible Histories will be on call – and to complement the masterplan delivered by Convoys Wharf next door on the site of the King's Yard, there'll be presentations by the locally grown projects that have found a way to bring Deptford's heritage into the 21st century, namely Build The Lenox and Sayes Court Garden, both of which look to the future whilst taking inspiration from the past, and which, they believe, have a road map that the developers and council should start taking seriously as an alternative to the profit motivated luxury flats plan.

The problem is that Hutchisons (for short) want to sell off individual parcels of land and these home grown projects (Lenox and Sayes Court) really don't fit with that, especially since they need to be situated on the tiny and only bits of open public space left that won't be built on. Both projects have the blessing of English Heritage and the National Trust, but are Hutchison's listening?

If you believe in history that lives in the present, rather than in road names and the names of luxury towers, come and visit the Master Shipwright's House. If you visit the Convoys Wharf exhibition first, why not go on to the Master Shipwright's House and tell them what you thought. And vice versa.

See the Deptford Dame for a review of the last time this building was part of Open House (2010).

Here is a great resource for the government's Made In England campaign durind the Olympics, and number one is Heritage. King Henry VIII. How on earth can Deptford Dockyard be left out of this?

Also see:

June 20:
June 23:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lord all-effing Mitie!

I just got a council response to my stage 2 complaint about Mitie, in which I learned that my post – I'd had a letter removed from my living room and dumped on the balcony - had been moved from the floor to the top of a meter cupboard. The odd thing about this is that I don't have a meter cupboard. Does anybody living on the south side of the railway line have a meter cupboard?

When, in stage one I complained that my fridge freezer installed in my living room and wired up, along with my phone base unit had been unplugged while I was out because the worker had needed power, Mitie claimed via Mike Gabell, LH Project Manager responsible for dealing with the complaint: ''Mitie have refuted your assertion that one of their operatives used your extension lead. The operatives generally use battery powered tools, and as such, do not require leads.''

Now, how true does this ring to anyone who's had the work done? How did the guys get their heavy duty power tools to get the plaster off the walls in the kitchen? What powered the tools drilling through hard core? How did the plasterers mix their plaster - by hand or a mains powered mixer? Yes, extensive use of the tenant's mains, I know. They even left their transformers in my flat overnight on more than one occasion.

(I wasn't even complaining about using my electricity – I'm actually quite pragmatic about these things - I was complaining about someone unplugging my appliances in another room for their convenience and setting my freezer on defrost and unplugging my phone base  without  permission.)

Now, Mike Gabell is the project coordinator for the works and I'm sure his job would be a lot easier if the job went smoothly. But this is not a reason to pass obviously untrue comments and, in any case a competent, honest manager, would clearly know that he was passing on untruths.

But once he's passed on the lie, uncritically, his job is done. That's the end of that stage of the complaint. Likewise the Stage 2 complaint. When I replied to Diane Kerry, Construction Delivery Team Leader about the obvious lie about my fictitious meter cupboard, her reply was – yes, you've guessed it – ''My job is done.''

Whilst I understand your concerns, I regret that I am unable to respond further. If you wish to follow up this complaint further, please contact our Customer Relations Team on 0208 613 7680 or by e mail 9 as shown above )  who will be pleased to assist you.

Except, of course, that as soon as they've completed their hand washing, the customer relations team are unable to help. The only available option, beyond Councillors, MPs, press and publicity, is the independent adjudicator.

So, as I gather myself up for my 3rd attempt to get an honest, impartial judgement, I'm left with a saddening observation. Lewisham Homes simply rubber stamp Mitie's words, even when they're clearly untrue. This leaves tenants with no protection whatsoever from Mitie. 

Remember, tenants, they're unanswerable. Be careful. Be Mitie careful. 

p.s. Because my boiler and thermostat has been wired up in a way that electricity doesn't understand - it's only been about  3 floods, and 6 visits so I'll need to give it time - I have to let them in again because the Lewisham Homes contractor couldn't figure out  how it had been wired either and had to ''hot-wire''  the boiler to bypass the  thermostat and timer. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Free event in Giffin Square, Saturday 2pm: Emergency Exit Arts presents Spin Cycle

After a morning by the river (see previous post) come back to Deptford High Street, grab some lunch (outdoors in Douglas Square, indoors at the Waiting Room, Deli X, Selecta, etc), and watch some street arts in Giffin Square. But not just any old outdoor arts, mind – this has something of the "spectacular" ring about it. Albany Outdoors presents Emergency Exit Arts (based in Greenwich) with their new show Spin Cycle.

Starting at 3pm (assemble at 2.30), The Albany describes the show as "combining clowning with stand-up comedy, incorporating the essence of competitive TV game shows"...Not a lot to go on, but gonna have to take a look! It's not every day there's a free show in your backyard.

The Emergency Exit Arts website tells us a lot more:

"Throughout the show the audience is guided by the Spinners, forty young people trained by EEA’s Street Arts Academy practitioners. Through audience interaction anyone can be invited to become a Spin Cycle contestant. They will be joined by members of our cast of dance and physical theatre practitioners on a journey through the streets to meet the ultimate Games Show hosted by our Spin Cycle Supremo. He will lead us in the irresistible Spin Cycle communal dance that we guarantee will be all over You Tube in an instant.

"Spin Cycle takes the form of a musical on the move that is performed on inventive mobile structures that transform and, yes, Spin Cycle does feature at least one washing machine. Our Games Show is full of humour and wit combining physical clowning from the top of a 30 foot mobile tower. Through its dark humour some difficult questions are asked of us. Inspired by the book Affluenza, the All Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf, we’ve created a fable about waste and recovery..."

Thames Festival kicks off with the Great River Race, Saturday 7th September

If you're up in time, jump on the DLR to Island Gardens and walk or cycle along Westferry Road to the Docklands Sailing & Watersports Centre and Millwall Slipway to catch the start of the Great River Race. Mudchute & Crossharbour DLR are also nearby. Participants will be gathering from 9am, and the 21-mile race upstream to Ham starts at around midday.

Alternatively, nip down to the riverside at Pepys Estate and Greenland Dock or head up to Tower Bridge. You'll also be able to see the race from any of the bridges along the Thames.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cicadas or Crickets?

Anyone who's holidayed or lived in hotter climes will be familiar with the sound of cicadas. They chirp continuously like little birds, only it's their wings beating together that makes the sound. So that's what we thought we could hear serenading us these past few evenings (and all night if you're an insomniac). The other night we actually tracked one down, hiding in a tiny crevice in the wall by Browne House, with only its antenae showing. We've heard them all around Crossfields. But cicadas in London? How come?

We asked Nick Bertrand from Creekside Centre. He's recently been tweeting about the very same (Creekside witterings @creekside_trust). No, says Nick, they're not cicadas, they're House Crickets. He found one in his kitchen recently and initially alarmed he might have cockroaches, he caught it so that he could identify it properly. Nick says they are brought here from Asia and sold by pet shops as live food for reptiles and snakes. "The females don't sing, and that is not a stinger at the tail end, it is for laying eggs, which they clearly have been successfully doing. They're quite harmless, but the singing male House Cricket could drive you potty!"

In Thailand they are commonly eaten as a deep fried snack, whilst in China and Japan they are kept as pets! They live in brick and buildings, and the male sings to attract a mate. As the temperature rises their song becomes louder and faster, and love sick House Crickets may sing for hours on end.

Thanks for the pic, Nick, and for solving the mystery!

Save Lewisham Hospital Victory Parade 14th September + Fundraiser at the Rivoli 27th September

Save Lewisham Hospital campaign is celebrating a victory for Lewisham and a victory for all. But the Government has appealed against the recent judgement in Lewisham's favour, and as an independent campaign, the campaign needs to raise more money. The fight goes on…More info here.

Party in the Park 14th September

More information here.