Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sign the petition to bring back the Deptford Anchor!

A campaign for the return of the 'Deptford Anchor' was launched on Saturday, and at the time of writing, has already garnered over 1500 signatures in just five days. Click here to sign.

Via 38 Degrees, the campaign is petitioning Lewisham's Mayor to re-instate the anchor to the south end of the high street where it had resided for 25 years until being removed during regeneration works two years ago, amidst much protest. It later became the focus of a local art project, who have now teamed up with the Deptford Society to launch the petition. They want the anchor returned without the plinth it once stood on.

Visualisation of the anchor without a plinth @Deptford Is Forever

Whilst the anchor served as a landmark for friends to meet up, its plinth had also become a seating area for street drinkers, so it seemed to many that the new high street paving had been an opportunity for the Council to remove the anchor and 'design out' anti-social behaviour.

©Ben Graville –

The drinkers soon found somewhere else to sit – on the benches in the newly paved Giffin Square, in front of the new Tidemill school and the library. We heard that parents of children at the school are now petitioning for the seating to be removed!

Meanwhile, utility companies have since dug up new paving stones and filled them with tarmac, and the new paving is already badly stained. The top of the high street still lacks the proud focal point it once enjoyed. Although the space is used by market traders on Saturdays, the rest of the week it remains empty – except when it is occupied by a Talk Talk or Sky sales team, who, with their habit of chasing shoppers down the street and hassling them to buy broadband phone deals, could be said to be more anti-social in their behaviour than the street drinkers ever were.

Talk Talk sales team hassling shoppers

The empty space is also sometimes used as quick and convenient parking for Asda shoppers. And to the distress of residents living above the shops, Asda itself has been loading and unloading here in the middle of the night.

Unmarked Asda truck parks up at 3am in the morning to noisily load and unload ©Ben Graville

Below is where the Deptford Anchor currently resides. It's being 'stored' in the Olympia warehouse building on Convoys Wharf 'for safe keeping'. Why is it still there, under the so-called 'protection' of a developer who gives not a jot for the maritime heritage of Deptford?

The anchor is stored in the Olympia building at Convoys Wharf @Deptford Is Forever

Convoys Wharf is owned by Asia's richest billionaire, Li Ka Shing, via Cheung Kong Property Holdings – one of his two recently reorganised and renamed Hong Kong-based global conglomerates (with limited liability in the Cayman Islands) – otherwise known to us as Hutchison Whampoa.

As the Deptford Dame noted in July, when travellers made it their home for awhile, the site was not even that safely secured. She also pointed out that in the (now) eight months since the Section 106 agreement with the GLA and Lewisham Council was signed and almost two years since HW received outline planning permission for the development from the Mayor of London (March 2014), not a single planning application (ie, worked up designs for the individual buildings and parcels of land) has been submitted to Lewisham's planning department.

So if the aim of both Lewisham Council and the developer was to re-situate the anchor within the development itself, it is likely to be at least another ten years before it is seen again. Time to bring it back! Sign the petition here.


  1. Whilst I agree that talk talk reps are pushy in the extreme and the street could do without them, they do not, as far as I can see,
    urinate or defacate on the pavement and in residents and shopkeepers doorways. Nor do they verbally harass young women and children with slurred
    obscenities. Nor do they take a break to smoke crack in phone boxes. All of that behaviour took place on and around the anchor.
    The end of the street has become quieter, better behaved, sober and cleaner since it’s removal.

    I remember Deptford before the Anchor arrived in 1988. It had no less heritage or pride then than it does now.

    Surely Deptford can come up with something a bit more original and creative than a leftover lump of iron from Woolwich that pedestrians will forever be stubbing (minus the plinth) their toes over?

    I don’t miss it one bit.

  2. Yes, Anonymous, all that activity took place because of the plinth, and very nice for you that it has stopped at your end of the street. As I understand it I don't think the petitioners are asking for that all to return.

    In fact they're saying that removing the anchor merely displaced the antisocial behavour to other places like Giffin Square...or the parks or the DLR or across the road at the supermarket on the New X Road parade. There's still noisy drinking outside the betting shops till they close, there's still begging during the day and outside Tesco at night.

    Smoking crack in phone box(es) has gone because the phone box has gone. But removing the anchor (in the same way) hasn't solved the persistent social issues – it's just made them less visible to the drivers on the A2 and yourself. Of course, returning the anchor without the plinth won't solve these problems either as they have nothing to do with the anchor.

    The idea is to get it back without the plinth so there's nowhere to sit down and drink. Of course they don't get these problems in Lewisham Central, do they, with a giant cop shop on the corner and street drinking laws applied. Nor do people on that high street get woken up by overnight deliveries as does everyone living in Deptford High Street near Iceland, Poundland, Tesco or Asda.

    It's all rather unimportant in terms of what's wrong with the world, but I agree with the petition that the anchor is a potent symbol of our heritage that is mostly forgotten. It might seem old fashioned or cliched to you, but if that's how you feel, why don't you start fund raising for some 'new and creative' public sculpture/art to go in Giffin Square or by the station and see how far you get. It would cost thousands, involve loads of money being syphoned off by 'consultants' or middle men, whereas the anchor already exists and would be cheap and easy to reinstate. And would also mean more to more people, old and young…

    Oh, and the trouble with Talk Talk reps is that they sign you up into a contract that the company then try to stop you getting out of long after your contract has ended when your payments have quadrupled, they then arrange deals on the phone that they don't honour (not unlike other companies of course), and oh, they get hacked and your password ends up in the hands of criminals…

    When a street trader shouts "Come on all you lucky people" from their stall, they don't then follow you up the street like a yapping dog begging you to buy their stuff and only let you go when you've been rude to them. The drinkers don't do that, and even the beggars don't follow you down the street like a wasp. Today I saw the disabled beggars as well, the guy with a stumpy arm, the guy with a prosthetic leg, of course they can't follow you anyway. It's your choice to ignore or help. If it's on your very doorstep every day it must be very depressing to have daily reminders of a fucked up society...but WTF has it got to do with a "lump of iron"?

  3. I hope the anchor makes its way back.I wrote this bit of fiction (part of something longer) about it.