Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Wonky Prong

The WONKY PRONG, otherwise known as the Crossfield Estate Food Project, made a great leap forward yesterday despite the rain, as a small army of enthusiastic children helped to shovel several tonnes of soil into the raised beds. Runner beans, mangetout peas and tomatoes were also planted along the fence around the community garden. Next step is to mix in some compost and then start planting! If anyone would like to get involved and help grow and eat food contact Tim at

Deptford remembers TJ

A massive attendance ensured St Paul's Church was filled to the rafters last Tuesday morning, 24th April, as family, friends, well wishers and distinguished guests (including Dame Joan Ruddock) came to say goodbye to TJ, the young man who died from his injuries after being knocked down by a hit-and-run driver on Deptford Church Street.

TJ's white coffin arrived in a beautiful white horse drawn carriage, and was borne into the church by six of his friends (including Crossfields resident Jordan). TJ's uncle Steve delivered a superbly eloquent eulogy about the boy who he had raised as his own child. TJ would have been celebrating his 18th birthday in early May, and his graduation in a couple of month's time.

Young Jamilia touched everyone's hearts as she sang a note perfect and emotional rendition of I Will Always Love You – there could not be a dry eye in the house. Tributes were paid by many others: young relatives Ololade and Abimbola; teachers and leaders from Addey & Stanhope, Croydon College and Second Wave Youth Arts; and his friends stood up as a group and one by one came forward to speak.

Their words came unrehearsed and from the heart as they talked of their friend's supportiveness, his sunny disposition, his academic achievements and ambitions, and how he was always looking out for them.

Although the service was very High Church (St Paul's is Anglican), Father Paul's no-nonsense shepherding ("mobile phones off please") kept the congregation on terra firma. Since the accident had occurred right next to the church, the rector had observed the daily vigil held by TJ's friends at the crossing on Deptford Church Street now known as 'TJ's place'. Father Paul suggested TJ's real 'place' was next to God, in our heads and hearts. At the end of the service, Second Wave gave mourners a memorial card which had photos of TJ and the words "a good friend, our beloved TJ was respected by everyone. We will never forget his kindness, his gentle smile and his friendship."

As is Deptford tradition concerning very special people, the cars (and coach) followed the horse drawn carriage bearing the coffin all the way down Deptford High Street as the funeral cortege processed to Grove Park cemetery, where the service continued and TJ was buried.

Rest in peace, TJ

See our earlier post in March to read further tributes.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Burglary at Farrer House

A burglary took place at Farrer House yesterday whilst the resident popped out for twenty minutes. Two white males wearing hoodies were witnessed leaving the block carrying heavily laden rucksacks.

The thieves gained access by busting open the front door, which was the older type door. Residents who do not have what most people refer to as the "new doors" need to be extra vigilant. Most people have the "new doors" which were fitted 15 years ago and are extremely strong and resistant to being broken into. Prior to their fitting, burglaries on Crossfields were highly frequent.

Car owners should also avoid leaving possessions on view, and people should make sure windows are closed when they go out, since there are obviously some opportunistic thieves targeting the area.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beware of the cold caller from EON

Jim in Farrer House has written to Crosswhatfields to alert residents to the following:

"A youngish man calling himself Paul and wearing a red jacket has gained entry to some of the flats in my block by falsely claiming to be a meter reader. Having pretended to read the meters he then tries to get the resident to sign up with his energy company, EON."

Jim was at the recycling bins last Thursday when he was spoken to by a young man in a red jacket who was holding a clipboard. "I had seen him knocking on doors so I politely asked him not to knock at my door. He became very loud and verbally aggressive to me almost immediately. I asked him to identify himself and his employers and he refused to do so. In fact he began to shout even louder." Jim attracted the attention of the caretaker, but the guy continued to be abusive until Jim went indoors. "I am a pensioner in poor health and this kind of unjustified and unacceptable harassment from cold callers is not good for me."

Since he came into contact with the EON rep on 19th April, Jim has emailed a complaint to Trading Standards at Lewisham Council. They have yet to reply.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Focus on Royal Greenwich

The London Marathon this weekend marks the start of all the big events happening in Greenwich this year and seems to have provided a soft deadline for preparations. First, though, here's that Marathon route again...

Next Wednesday 25 April, the Queen and Prince Philip will re-open the Cutty Sark. Spectators who want to oggle the Queen are invited to assemble in Cutty Sark Gardens from 10.30am (see the Greenwich Council website). The £50m refurbished monument opens to the public the following day, and last weekend finishing touches were in progress – presumably the surrounding new square will be open on Marathon Day. Some raked seating was being erected, hopefully just a temporary stand for the Queen's visit (since it ruins the view). *

There are some lovely, if regimented, new raised flowerbeds on the west side, and after months of inconvenience, the new pier entrances are looking efficient and hopefully smooth running, although the new ticket office wasn't open yet and the foot tunnel entrance was still a disgrace last weekend. Three of the four cafes and restaurants (which all seem to have been transplanted in a different form from the cinema car park at Surrey Quays) were up and running in the new riverside buildings and look to be a roaring success with visitors. Nandos opens next week.

From the riverside, looking northwest, you can view the construction work on the luxury flats taking place at Greenwich Reach (below, far left), Paynes & Borthwick Wharf (recently restarted, where the cranes are), and in the distance to the right, the almost completed Shard at London Bridge (OK, not all luxury flats). The flat bit in the middle is Convoys Wharf, site of King Henry VIII's Royal Dockyard and John Evelyn's Sayes Court Gardens. Plans are under review by Terry Farrell & Partners after the previous masterplan for 3,500 flats was rejected since it failed to acknowledge the enormous historical heritage of the site. See local blog Deptford Is..., whose vision for the site (building a 17th century warship and restoring Sayes Court) if realised, would be a short river walk from Greenwich to the place where Sir Francis Drake was knighted on the Golden Hind, where ships left to engage the Armada and the Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, and where Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth I.

Meanwhile, in the grounds of the Royal Naval College, yet another set for Les Miserables has been constructed with filming going on this week. 81 year old Don Simms, a guide at The Painted Hall (opposite the set) likes to tell tourists he body doubled for Johnny Depp when Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed here last year.

For film fans, there's a Film Location Tour at 2pm on April 26th-29th. There is also a free exhibition about Charles Dickens at the Visitor's Centre until 15 July. In June, the ORNC will host a Big Jubilee Lunch and the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival. If you have friends or relatives visiting for the Marathon, take them to The Old Brewery, a microbrewery, cafe and restaurant tucked into the east of the Royal Naval College. 

We note that a brand new exhibition opens at the National Maritime Museum on 27th April (not free!). Royal River (Power, Pageantry and The Thames) is guest curated by mad royalist David Starkey to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and will run until 9 September. The Thames Jubilee Pageant takes place on Sunday 3rd June and promises to be spectacular – and although the Queen will disembark at Tower Bridge, many of the 1000 boats taking part will come as far as Greenwich to disperse.

With its new Sammy Offer Wing opening out onto the Royal park, the Maritime Museum is always worth a visit, as is the Royal Observatory and Planetarium – see the Greenwich Phantom's new post about a trip to the Planetarium. As s/he notes, when you're a local, you rarely bother to go and see these things that you wouldn't dare miss if you'd come here on holiday.

From the new wing of the NMM, you can get the measure of the Olympic Equestrian site, which has taken over the Queen's Field. The entire park will be closed to the public from 7 July to 4 August (except for the Flower Garden and Children's Playground).

There has been much opposition to the park's use for the Olympics and a new gallery has opened on Creek Road featuring photographs of the park. At Made in Greenwich, Greenwich Landscape Artists are still campaigning against the Olympics being held here, fearing it will herald the loss of the park as we know it, in a flood of future corporate or brand sponsored events.

Finally, Marmoset has news via reader San that there will be fireworks at Greenwich Reach on Saturday 5th May at 9.45pm. We've absolutely no idea why since it doesn't coincide with any big events...but the picture below was snapped when cruise liner the Seabourn Sojourne slipped in to dock here fairly unannounced in June 2010. Now that the Greenwich Reach development has totally obscured all views of the river from Deptford Bridge, head to Millennium Quay if you want to see 'em.

* UPDATE 24/04/12: We have since ascertained this is a permanent structure which houses lifts and air conditioning. A critique of the "restored" Cutty Sark ("Disney Sark") and the vandalism of the park caused by the Olympics, written by Greenwich resident and infamous journalist Andrew Gilligan, can be found here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tunnel bore hole testing on Farrer House lawn

Bore hole testing equipment was erected outside Farrer House today by Soil Engineering, subcontractors for Thames Tunnel. The Assistant Engineer's Rep for TT, Andrew Thrower, was on site during the construction. Andrew acts as liaison between TT and local stakeholders including Lewisham Council etc, and was surprised to learn that residents had been given no notice that the testing was to take place.

In the absence of any notifying letter to residents, he told us that this site will be in use for 3-4 weeks and that the first couple of days will be a bit noisy.

UPDATE 19/04/12:
Farrer House residents received a letter dated 4th April last week (9th-15th).

UPDATE 28/04/12:
Holden House received the same letter two days after this post. The noise from the rig, which resembles an idling lorry, can be heard from the other side of the railway, but is obviously louder for Farrer House residents. It is continuous during the week but stops for lunch and weekends.

However, there is another noise which goes on all weekend and can be heard as a continuous hum two hundred metres away from its source. In a Holden House flat it sounds as if a neighbour is continuously vacuuming their floor, or operating an extractor fan all day. The noise gets much louder if you walk across the Ha'Penny Hatch towards the source at Greenwich Pumping Station. Here the sound is of industrial strength and decibel levels are surely being exceeded.

Friday, April 13, 2012

News catch up

Thames Tunnel
Deptford Misc reported earlier in the week the encouraging news that the present Mayor Boris Johnson has called for the re-examination of five sites in the Tunnel project – including Deptford Church Street. "This site is adjacent to a school and on one of the few open spaces in this deprived area of London. The site will also impact on a busy section of the road network which is also an important bus route. I think there is more scope for alternative sites in this area, including the options examined in the first phase of consultation and again I urge you to search for a site that has lower impact."

A border row has now broken out, with Nick Raynsford (Labour MP for Greenwich & Woolwich) wading in to defend the "thousands" of residents at the alternative (and initially preferred) site at Borthwick Wharf. Perhaps it is time for Joan Ruddock to step in to defend Deptford and for Labour's Livingstone and Len Duvall to match Boris Johnson, with a promise to challenge Thames Water who have chosen to favour a privileged gated community over a poorer one and use HGVs on a busy road rather than use the river.

Or did Boris frame this one to set the cat among the pigeons, with the Tory revision of parliamentary boundaries set to have the Greenwich (Labour) consituency swallow most of (Labour) Deptford and Raynsford possibly taking the Deptford crown from Dame Joan (whilst its citizens remain in the very unroyal borough of Lewisham)? Unfortunately this Tunnel row news came too late to put the question to Joan personally when she was humbly knocking on doors last night and today reminding us to vote for Ken and Len.

New development starts work
The Deptford Dame reports on "The Movement" – Cathedral's new development on Norman Road which we wrote about in March 2011 when the planning application was submitted. We noted then that we were not consulted despite being in the consultation catchment area. Too late now. Your view east is about to be ruined.

Defeating the developers
Deptford Misc also reported that the Lord Clyde pub in Wotton Road was celebrating the defeat of developers who wanted to turn it into flats. The story goes some way to explain why developers have such a bad reputation: their planning application stated "The current use does not provide any positive contribution to the local area and therefore it’s replacement with a residential building is the most appropriate form of development." This prompted the landlord, who hosts a successful boxing club at the pub, to gather local support to object to the proposals. Read more at Deptford Misc. We also wrote about the Lord Clyde in March 2010 in the context of CAMRA's campaign to stop pubs being turned into flats.

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival
Both the Deptford Dame and Transpontine have flagged up the upcoming Free Film Festival (27 April–6 May). More details at We note that among the offerings, there will be a screening of The Tunnel, a film about the late comedian Malcom Hardee and his infamous club, in the new 40-seater 'cinema in a lorry' at the Big Red Pizzeria.

Virgin London Marathon
On your doorstep Sunday 22 April. Check the website for more details of times and route plus new sponsors Virgin Money have plenty of merchandise to sell you! And The Duke will be serving breakfast from 9am.

Rivers & People Project and Creekside Twitter

The new programme of summer walks and events organised by the Rivers & People Project will be out shortly (check at the library next week). See the preview below. Meanwhile Twitter fans who are keen nature lovers might like to follow the tweets from Creekside Discovery Centre. Check out @Creekside_Trust. Also see dates and times of up and coming Deptford Creek Low Tide Walks on the Centre's website (the next one is Saturday 28th April at 11am).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Olympics 2012: the Podia Project

Lewisham Council commissioned five local organisations/businesses to choose artists to create temporary public art for the Olympics. Under the theme "everyone's a winner" they had to create a winner's podium to be installed in outdoor locations in Lewisham.

Crossfields resident Carlos Quinones has been working with Zoe Hamilton-Peters, on behalf of the Deptford Project, to make "Bound for Glory". Carlos and Zoe are usually to be found working in the Deptford Project Yard's arches in their respective creative spaces, Boro and Crafty Bitches. Their podium features a life-size version of the children's game 'misfits' or 'consequences', with four different types of sport represented (equestrian, Paralympic running, weight training and tennis) – so you can stand on the top step and rotate different parts of an athlete's body to get one of four, or a mix of, costumes.

The Podia Project will be launched on Thursday 12 April, as part of an event that also launches Lewisham's new Creative Industry Strategy 2012-2015. Check the Podia Project website to find out the other artists and organisations taking part.

Zoe would love people to take photos of themselves on the podium and upload them to Facebook, and she has set up a page  to encourage you to share them publicly. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

People Before Profit embarrassment

With Gorgeous George and the Respect Party in the news, one might be led to ponder what Lewisham's own version of real left politics, People Before Profit, might be up to.

Recently they've made some news for participating in the taking possession of properties owned by Lewisham council that were "earmarked for 'disposal' " (auctioned off at less than their market value), and housing homeless families in them. See the story here (PBP's website), here or here. By 'participating in' we mean John Hamilton has been publicising these activities, but many involved are activists who are not, as it were, PBP party members. Nevertheless there is a collective aim for the common good.

But what is this? Strange goings on in Deptford...PBP's flagship cafe Come The Revolution ("the brainchild of PBP campaigner Ray Woolford") has closed. Is the lease up? Maybe, but no word from Woolford, he's out of town.

Meanwhile, the cafe's workers, who, from PBP's publicity would appear to be the happiest in the world ("the work is more interesting and the pay is better than where I was in my last job, and you feel you're doing something for the community"), are now fighting their boss, Woolford, after he sacked them for unionising for better pay and conditions.

Although the cafe has been popular for some, its location has not been ideal for pulling in the casual punter. Some have been sceptical about the coupling of leftist politics with an estate agents (Housemartins, run by Woolford). According to the Facebook page set up by the cafe workers, they were afraid Woolford would close the cafe, only to reopen it with new staff. Lack of clarity about who actually owns the building seems to have contributed to paranoia after a member of staff who occupied a flat above the cafe was evicted by an untraceable company – more grist to the mill for those involved.

But planning permission has been in for this building for quite some time by the owners, P Logan (as in Logan's Chemists who had the shop front previously) to "demolish the existing building fronting" as part of a plan to (re-)construct a 5-storey building (see the application DC/11/78237/X, still not decided). Woolford's lease was obviously tenuous and the cafe's (and the workers') future was never secure. Of course, this is no excuse to pay your staff poor wages but imagine if all of the businesses on the high street had to conform to union standards.

Unite (Britain's largest Trade Union and already in the news) are supporting the workers and co-hosted a meeting on Friday night at the Amersham Arms in order to demand reinstatement without penalty (as well as minimum hours contracts and union approved health & safety training).

Neither Woolford or Hamilton were in attendance, but George Hallam (PBP's rep in Feltham) came to smooth ruffled feathers and perhaps distance PBP from Ray Woolford's misadventures. A further meeting is planned for early next week.

See also