Friday, March 30, 2012

The return of Gorgeous George

Once again George Galloway is yet again returning to the House of Commons. He is one of a small group of men in British political history who has sucessfully been elected in three or more completely different constituencies.

Although acres of guff have appeared on news websites, blogs and Twitter today very few commentators have actually looked at the figures. Contrary to codswallop suggesting that people voted along racial lines it is clear that George Galloway afforded Conservative and Lib Dem voters in Bradford the rare opportunity to inflict a bloody nose on the Labour Party. An opportunity that they evidently leapt at.

Bradford West 29 Mar 2012 - result with vote share and change since 2010 general election.

George Galloway, Respect, 18,341 55.89% +52.83%
Imran Hussain, Labour, 8,201 24.99% -20.36%
Jackie Whiteley, Con, 2,746 8.37% -22.78%
Jeanette Sunderland, Lib Dem, 1,505 4.59% -7.08%
Sonja McNally, UKIP, 1,085 3.31% +1.31%
Dawud Islam, Green, 481 1.47% -0.85%

As the old adage goes: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

This is not the first time that the press has got it completely wrong in a George Galloway election victory. In the 2005 general election he ousted the Iraq war supporter Oona King from her Bethnal Green and Bow seat. At the time this was mainly seen as being related to Ms King's support for Tony Blair's Cowboy's Crusade in Iraq, but four months later sore loser Ms King in an interview with Emma Brockes in the Guardian claimed that she was a victim of anti-semitism. Despite coming across in the interview as some sort of poor man's Ali G (Is it because I is Jewish) this nonsense seems to have become an article of faith among Guardianistas. The simple reality as evinced by looking at the figures, is that back in 2005 in Bethnal Green & Bow, Galloway afforded Conservatives and Lib Dems the opportunity of humiliating Labour, which they took.

Bethnal Green and Bow; 2005 result with vote share & change from 2001

George Galloway, Respect, 15,801 35.9% +35.9%
Oona King, Labour, 14,978 34.0% -16.5%
Shahagir Faruk, Conservative, 6,244 14.2% -10.1%
Syed Dulu, Lib Dem, 4,928 11.2% -4.3%
John Foster, Green,, 1,950 4.4% +0.1%

Very simple and straightforward if you look at the figures.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Convoys Wharf - Deptford's Aspirations

The Olympia Building

The Deptford Dame has already written a comprehensive report on last Saturday's consultation event on Convoys Wharf. Transpontine has published some excellent photographs.

I noted, as did the Dame, the absence of anybody with an Aedas badge, but I was also somewhat surprised that nobody from the Port of London Authority was in attendance. Approximately half the site is still safeguarded for wharfage, so I can only suspect that they were not invited.

Deptford Is have done a short write up with photographs of some of the speakers and a short quote from William Richards. William's introduction of other speakers struck me as setting the aspirational tone for the day, so I am publishing it in full for anyone who missed it.

"The tide has turned ..(as the young people of Second Wave have just demonstrated). There have been many historic events on this site in the five centuries since Henry VIII put his cipher in stone on the great storehouse by the waterfront. Today we hope that together the people of Deptford, the owner of the site, Hutchison Whampoa, the architects, planners and politicians will be part of that history and make this consultation worthy of being called an historic moment of the 21st century.

Since the site ceased to be a working wharf became dormant in 2001 the people of Deptford, the planners, heritage protection bodies and the designers (from various practices) have been working in vacuums or separately. Today we are starting a process of engagement that embodies the best of localism, international resources and the best imaginations concerned with heritage led, profitable regeneration.

Firstly, it must be said that anyone here should count themselves as crazy if they were to resist inevitable and necessary regeneration of this site- which has the assets of place, location, scale and heritage to make it remarkable in London.

So it is with a desire to achieve, that the community offers its ideas. Some of the specific ideas are relatively new, some are the result of ten years actively engaging with and researching the site, all the ideas are almost beyond imagination- but the challenge for everyone in this room is to elevate the future of the site beyond the banal, beyond the expedient and reflect the values of the site into the future. It must be excellent.

It must work, for those who live here today and for those who will come to Deptford in the future.

Our proposals start with the ground plan- the water bodies, spaces and buildings that you may have already seen today. Many of These features are described by some as “archaeology”, but in fact they are buildings set into the ground. Were the basin a broken building with its parapet and roof missing, we would certainly be saying lets repair that building, put and new roof and repair the walls, lets find a new use for it! - So lets link the repaired basin to the Olympia building and give it context and a new use. The same could be said of the other features- the slipways and the great dock (a performance space) and mast-ponds a home for swans?

To do this requires imagination and will power – so the challenge to the planners and statutory protection agencies is, USE THE POLICY AT your DISPOSAL TO ENSURE THAT THE BEST FUTURE IS FOUND FOR THIS SITE AND FOR the whole of DEPTFORD.

Research has shown that crime rates fall and other social benefits arise when a community engages in the creation of their neighbourhood, - people feel pride, belonging and distinction.

Heritage is one of the great tourist income generators in this country. But perhaps most important of all is the opportunities that a successful regeneration might bring to jobs and training for the next generation of young people in Deptford.

So when Julian and Richard talk in a moment about building a HUGE ship out of wood in the docks and sheds - we mean to build a ship using local skills and local labour- linked to Lewisham and Greenwich college the local university etc etc. the same is true for the magic of Sayes Court Gardens –apprenticeships, learning centre, tourism, -I will leave Roo and Bob to inspire you with more on that. And Renato will outline how an approach to building bridges can create a vibrant riverscape.

And if you are saying now, IT CANNOT BE DONE! Be careful---- it HAS BEEN DONE ALREADY.

In France the Hermione has been built (and will be launched this year) by the locals of Rochfort and the apprentices can be seen at work and the millions of tourists will tell you of their visit.

GARDENS have been recreated at Chiswick and re-imagined in Kenilworth with public and private money.

But these two projects are only possible if the Masterplan is from the ground up- seeing the heritage assets not as blocks to an easy profit but as constraints that offer the architects and planners, local input and heritage bodies the chance to respond creatively in their design process. Enough of the tyranny of the bland that has dogged the Isle of Dogs for so many years of ill-thought-out development.

Farrells have themselves imagined and realised complex sites that have demonstrated the potential to weave the old and the new, the restored and the state-of-the-art to make something unimaginable -real.
Former naval sites in Copenhagen, Venice, post -industrial Brooklyn, Berlin, Hull, Manchester, Gateshead – they all should offer us inspiration.

And if you are still believing that we, the locals, are mad, unrealistic - let us tell you this -
During the last ten years, a group of locals, many of whom are here today, constituted as CONVOYS OPPORTUNITY, suggested that this site could be a liner terminal. “OH no that is not possible, not profitable” was the response in spite of the fact that the PLA suggested it was feasible. Well last year another developer in Greenwich has successfully obtained planning permission for a cruise liner terminal and large residential scheme no more than one mile from where we are now. They are on the starting blocks already with the scheme, about to build, and we are still here discussing.

– So lets get on.

So today, with architects of vision, an owner who by this invitation wants to engage and a site that is bigger than all of us, lets build something that is a case study of excellence, Seven Bridges, Sayes Court Garden, the Lenox -they are not just the history of this site, they are its future!
So first- Julian and Richard will take us to the Lenox

And next Renato on bridges

And lastly Bobby and Roo with take us into Sayes Court Garden … grow our imaginations......"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Convoys Wharf: Time to show Aedas the door

"This is how the German Democratic Republic would have looked if their economie (sic) had worked." Fenster Grau

Herr Grau's remarks posted on a Building Design article (registration required) does a good job of nailing Aedas's 'artist's impression' of how they might develop Convoy's Wharf.

However if you look at the Aedas, sorry Aedas | Global Award Winning Architects website and follow the Our works and then Selected projects tabs you may well be struck by the fact that you have to read the text to figure out where in the world any of these projects are. There is no regard whatsoever for local tradition or culture. If you were blindfolded and taken to an Aedas development then when your blindfold was removed you would be unlikely to know whether you were in the northern or southern hemisphere, the orient or occident, an Islamic republic, a western democracy or a dictatorship.

It is perhaps understandable why countries that have only had money in recent decades such as oil producers since the 1974 OPEC oil price hike or the People's Republic of China since they (more recently) allowed a form of capitalism to flourish might see what Aedas do as aspirational. In such countries their work may well be seen as being just like the rich west.

On a site steeped in as much history as Convoys Wharf their (paucity of) ideas are exposed. Not only are we entitled to something better, future generations would despise us if we failed to fight for it.

In a previous post I pondered just what purpose Sir Terry Farrell's intervention is supposed to achieve. I still wonder, but last night somebody reminded me that he worked for Hutchison Whampoa on their highly controversial Lots Road scheme straddling both the RB Kensington & Chelsea and LB Hammersmith & Fulham.

If you have not already signed up for the Convoys Wharf Community Consultation day on Saturday 24 March do so now :

PLEASE NOTE: The site can be dusty and muddy depending on the
weather, so please bring appropriate footwear and clothing.

11.00 Exhibition opens

11.15 – 12.15 Site and archaeological tour opportunity 1

12.15 – 14.15
Welcome from Hutchison Whampoa, followed by speeches and presentations, including Joan Ruddock MP, Sir Terry Farrell and colleagues, and local community groups.

The presentations will be followed by question and answer opportunities and refreshments will be provided during the two-hour period.

PLEASE NOTE: If you want to take a full part in these sessions, please arrive promptly at noon. Register for one of the site tours on arrival.

14.15 – 15.15 Site and archaeological tour opportunity 2

16.00 Exhibition closes

For further information and to confirm attendance please call 0845 460 6011 or email

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Graduate PH

The London Fire Brigade has served an Enforcement Notice on Mr Andrew Dillon the occupier of The Graduate PH, 107-109 Blackheath Road, London, SE10 8PD. The notice lists a number of matters including :
  • Failure to provide a suitable method of giving warning in case of fire.
  • Failure to provide adequate means for fire fighting.
  • Failure to ensure that emergency routes and exits are adequately lit.
as well as various management failings. Mr Dillon has until 9th August 2012 to comply with the requirements set out in the notice.

There has been a pub on the site for at least 170 years, but the present building is late Victorian. It was originally the Coach and Horses. Greenwich Council include it on their 'Local List' of Buildings of Local Architectural or Historic Interest where it is described as:

107, ‘The Coach and Horses’ P.H. A fine example of late-Victorian Public House design. Part 3, part 4-storey building in red brick with stone dressings and Dutch gable dormer. Somewhat similar to, and forms pair with, the ‘George and Dragon’ P.H., Blackheath Hill, opposite. (Also Locally Listed).

It is, even by the standards of Victorian Pubs, a very large and imposing building and maintaining it, is I suspect an onerous task. I cannot be absolutely certain, but I think that the present building dates from c1890 when William Brewster was the owner and licensee. Brewster took over the old pub at 109 Blackheath Road in about 1880, but died at 107 - 109 in 1995.

William Brewster was born 1843 in Bury St Edmunds, his father Henry had been the landlord of the Three Bulls PH in the Meat Market, before moving to the Old Angel PH in College St (both in Bury St Edmunds) around the time William was born. By the time William was eight, Henry had moved out to Wickhambrook where he ran the Crown Inn, Malting End, but by William's eighteenth Henry was back in Bury St Edmunds itself running the Three Goats' Heads in Guildhall Street. Henry's last pub was the Woolpack in Fornham St Martin where he died in 1872. Henry's mother Mary Ann took on the license until her death in 1877, when William's younger brother Harry took over.

William had left Suffolk around the time of his father's death marrying Matilda Newell in Lambeth in 1873. Matilda, the daughter of Fornham Farmer (and former publican of the Butchers Arms PH Cemetery Road, Bury St Edmunds) Henry Newell.

William and Matilda ran a pub in Park Road, Camberwell. Their firstborn Thirza Matilda died in infancy, but Lillian Maud b1877, Sidney John b1881 and James Harry b1882 all survived them. Matilda died in 1882, presumably either in childbirth or from resulting complications.

Matilda's older sister Ellen came down from Bury St Edmunds to look after her niece and nephews, but it appears that she looked after her brother-in-law as well because within a few months she was pregnant. William and Ellen married on 7 Dec 1882 in Wood Green and their daughter Matilda May was born the following spring. A son Charles was born in 1887.

Up until 1890 the electoral registers show a voter resident at 107, Blackheath Road, but he is not on the 1891 register. The 1891 census taken on 5 April that year described William, Ellen and the children as being at 107-109. It may not be conclusive proof that the present building dates from around 1890, but it is a reasonable conclusion. The left hand side of the pub continues the building line of the adjacent terrace, but the previous 107 may have been wider.
After William's death Ellen and the children moved to 178 Lewisham Road, where she lived until her death in 1924.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

LBL Deptford Creekside Scoping Report

The London Borough of Lewisham have launched a consultation on a Scoping Report for Sustainability appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment of a forthcoming Deptford Creekside Supplementary Planning Document. That is a bit of a mouthful but the council are working within a statutory framework that means jargon cannot be avoided.

Basically all the planning policies for the borough form what is called the Local Development Framework (LDF). Where there are significant policies that only apply to part of a borough they are put into a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Some other SPDs deal with particular aspects of policy across a borough. English planning law, which includes transposed European directives, now requires that all new planning policy documents are subject to a Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment). The current consultation is designed to ensure that when the Deptford Creekside SPD is produced it is assessed in accordance with all relevant existing policies and directives. LB Lewisham summarize the headline consultation questions as:

1. Are there any other plans, policies or programmes that should be considered?

2. Do you have or know of any other data that should be considered in order to establish the borough baseline – the economic environmental and social factors that should be considered?

3. Do the issues identified in Task A3 cover all the significant sustainability issues relevant to Lewisham?

4. Are the sustainability objectives, indicators and targets suitable? Should there be any additional objectives, indicators or targets?

That is perfect proper and correct, but local people may wish to check that descriptions of the area are factually correct, clear and unambiguous. There is a glossary and basic explanations of the processes involved. If, after a couple of attempts to get your head round a part of the document, you still cannot figure out what is meant then it probably means that the Report can be improved. In theory you could simply be thick, but you have read this far down the page, so it is reasonable for me to presume that you are not.

Comments can be submitted by post or email, but have to be with the Council by 5.00pm on the afternoon of Friday 27th April 2012.

The aim of this rather involved process is to ensure that when LBL draft the actual Deptford Creekside Supplementary Planning Document there is a very clear set of criteria to judge it by. The process is somewhat less than exciting, but spending a few hours on this now might improve the Report and in turn improve the SPD and save a lot of time fighting an inappropriate planning application in a few years time. No policy can stop developers applying for that which is too high, too bulky or simply poorly designed, but good policies can help deter some of the chancers.

The Deptford Allotments Mystery

The above appears on the Lewisham Gardens blog. 'Nick' posted it under the heading 'Deptford Allotments- important meeting', but he does not tell us why it is important. Over on the Deptford Allotments and Gardens Association blog we are not even told it is important. The poster appears with no explanation.

So, what could be up: Has young Mr Jones been growing the wrong sort of 'herb'? Has Mrs Higgins been making strange noises in her shed, again? We simply do not know.

The explanation is probably something far more mundane, such as a vacancy on the committee, but for the time being we have a blank canvas to draw on.

Other Links:
LBL Allotments and community gardens

RBG Information on allotments

LBL Chinbrook Community Orchard

Lewisham Community Gardens (FB)

John Evelyn Garden (FB)

McMillan Educational Herb Garden (FB)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Convoys Wharf: Sir Terry Farrell to 'listen to the community'

Sir Terry Farrell

The Architects Journal reports "Terry Farrell and Partners has been appointed to review Aedas’ 18.6 hectare masterplan for the redevelopment of historic Convoys Wharf in Deptford, south east London". Furthermore I understand that Farrells are tasked with listening 'to the community' and gaining 'a full understanding of their perspectives.’

This is hardly a glowing vote of confidence by Hutchison Whampoa in Aedas's work. Either it is an incredibly poorly thought out and ultimately pointless attempt to get an endorsement from Farrells or it is a recognition that Aedas are simply not up to the job. Any endorsement of Aedas is not going to cut any ice with either the community or Lewisham Council, but anything less than a ringing endorsement is going to be more ammunition against the current proposals. I have no idea who in Hutchison Whampoa is excavating this particular hole, if I did then I might quietly suggest that they stop digging. The central problem with Aedas can be viewed on their website namely that you have no idea where anything they have done is located in the world without looking at the text; it is all big, bland and soulless.

Subject of websites, despite the noise that Hutchison Whampoa's Planning Communications people Hardhat are making about the 24th March and Farrells involvement it is noticeable that neither Farrells' website nor their twitter feed @FarrellsLondon make any mention of Convoys Wharf, which might suggest that it is not such a big deal after all. Mind you, if I was in 'Planning Communications' I do not think I would have put this photograph on the company website.

Your caption here.

The Deptford Dame tells us further details of the Convoys Wharf Community Consultation day on Saturday 24 March:

PLEASE NOTE: The site can be dusty and muddy depending on the
weather, so please bring appropriate footwear and clothing.

11.00 Exhibition opens

11.15 – 12.15 Site and archaeological tour opportunity 1

12.15 – 14.15
Welcome from Hutchison Whampoa, followed by speeches and presentations, including Joan Ruddock MP, Sir Terry Farrell and colleagues, and local community groups.

The presentations will be followed by question and answer opportunities and refreshments will be provided during the two-hour period.

PLEASE NOTE: If you want to take a full part in these sessions, please arrive promptly at noon. Register for one of the site tours on arrival.

14.15 – 15.15 Site and archaeological tour opportunity 2

16.00 Exhibition closes

For further information and to confirm attendance please call 0845 460 6011 or email

15 March 2012 UPDATE: Farrells managed to squeeze out a tweet at 11.47 this morning:

LB Lewisham Planning Policy Consultations

Lewisham are consulting on:
  • the Lewisham Community Infrastructure Levy, which sets out the proposed levy charged on new development to support new local infrastructure;
  • the Lewisham Site Allocations DPD, which identifies locations and sites for specific types of development in the borough.
  • and the Lewisham Town Centre Area Action Plan DPD Proposed Submission, sets out policies and proposals to guide development in Lewisham Town Centre.
As shown above it is proposed to reduce the area designated as Town Centre

Unfortunately only the Lewisham Town Centre AAP can be directly downloaded from the consultation site as a pdf as both the other documents Site Allocations and Community Infrastructure Levy can only be viewed online in a bizarre snippet view format. CD-Roms of both documents can be ordered by telephone or email.

Registration, which was not working this morning, is required to comment on the documents online. All three consultations close at 5.00pm on Monday 23rd April 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Deptford born academic lawyer and life-long Charlton Atheletic supporter Lord Wedderburn QC died on Friday. He was the son, grandson, great grandson and great-great grandson of scale makers.

Born Kenneth William Wedderburn in Deptford on 13th April 1927 Bill lived for most of his childhood above the family business F Wedderburn Scale Makers & Contractors at 467 New Cross Road. 467 is now part of that wondrous Deptford conflation Housemartins estate agents and Lewisham People before Profit's Come the Revolution cafe. I suspect that 467 has been rebuilt at some point since the second world war.

The earliest known scale-maker in the Wedderburn family was Jabez Wedderburn c1797 - 1880 whose descendants in Southampton and Australia are still in the scale-making business today. Jabez's fourth child and second son, also called Jabez 1827-82, arrived in Deptford from Islington sometime before the 1871 census that found him and his scale making business based at 9 Deptford Bridge. Jabez junior's son Frederick married Anne Coote at St Mary's Lewisham shortly after his father's death, but then disappears from the records before buying 467 New Cross Road in the mid 1890s. On 21st August 1895 his son Herbert John was baptised at St Paul's Deptford after being born on 27th July. Herbert followed his father into the scale-making business and after serving in WW1 married Mabel Ethel Hollands in 1924. Telephone directories show 467 New Cross Road as F Wedderburn Scale Makers & Contractors until and shortly after Herbert's death in 1978. Sadly, despite the business being at 467 for over eighty years I am unable to find a photograph.

Lord Wedderburn's son posted on a message board this morning that Herbert had first taken Bill to see Charlton when Bill was aged only two. This would place the young Bill at the Valley in Charlton's first season in Divison Two. A few up and downs since then, but Bill stayed loyal and when elevated to the House of Lords took the title Lord Wedderburn of Charlton.

The Guardian, Independent and Times obituaries, and this Telegraph article (but not the Telegraph obit) all make much of his purported ancestor, the radical black orator Robert Wedderburn. It is possible, but the evidence for a link to Robert Wedderburn strikes me as a bit thin, there were a number of Robert Wedderburns in London at the beginning of the 19th Century and many records from the time have been lost and those that we have lack detail.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Greenwich: Areas of High Archaeological Potential

The Royal Borough of Greenwich have commenced another planning consultation on Areas of High Archaeological Potential (AHAPs). Largely uncontroversial the document does need a certain amount of time and thought. A brief look reveals a number of typographical errors and minor historical inaccuracies, which in the context of individual planning applications could have deleterious effects. There are individual maps of each AHAP so the file is a chunky 27mB to download.

In order to comment online you will have to register, but the document can be downloaded without registration. The consultation closes at 11.49am (odd, but that is what it says) on Wednesday 18 April 2012.

All of Deptford that lies within Greenwich's boundaries is classified as 'Greenwich AHAP No 1 Deptford'.

The document has been produced by English Heritage and was submitted to Greenwich Council for consideration and possible adoption as part of the evidence base to support the planning policies in the Council’s Core Strategy.

There are presently 30 areas of AHAPs within the borough with the proposal that two are deleted and three new areas are created representing a total of 1719.35 hectares or 34% of the borough.

1 Deptford 32.69 hectares
2 Greenwich Town 50.73
3 Lower Creekside 16.78
4 Royal Greenwich 123.24
5 Greenwich Peninsula & Foreshore 438.89
6 Routeway Corridor 65.54
7 Shooters Hill Settlement 26.35
8 Royal Eltham 48.41
9 Eltham Park Estate 15.17
10 Eltham Lodge, Royal Blackheath Golf Course & Fairy Hill 45.37
11 Lower Belmont 2.28
12 Coldharbour Farm, Eltham 1.04
13 St Nicholas Church, Kidbrooke 1.1
14 Wricklemarsh Estate & Blackheath 20.7
15 Well Hall Pleasaunce 5.65
16 Horn Park 0.8
17 Chalton House 8.05
18 Cox’s Mount & Maryon Park 15.52
19 Pott Houses Triangle 0.77
20 West Plumstead Pottery 0.56
21 Macoma Pottery 2.51
22 Civic Core 4.68
23 Woolwich Dockyard 69.8
24 Old Woolwich 28.32
25 Royal Arsenal West 41.12
26 Royal Arsenal East 527.76
27 Plumstead High Street 19.13
28 Wickham Lane 43.79
29 Barrack Field (new area) 14.67
30 Rotunda and Repository Wood (new area) 18.4
31 Shrewsbury House (new area) 29.52
A River Shutte (proposed deletion)
B Middle Park (proposed deletion)

"How much rent do People before Profit charge you?"

David Cameron "How much rent do People before Profit charge you?"

In the middle of February People before Profit squatted five residential properties owned by Lewisham Council that were due to be auctioned. The story was broken by the Brockley Central blog on 13th February. I commented on the blog the following afternoon (1.51pm) that:

"All social landlords (councils & housing associations) sell off properties that are regarding as difficult to refurbish. It has to be remembered that in order for a local authority or housing association to let a property it has to conform to far higher standards than the private sector. Secondly I strongly suspect that the weirdos at the Treasury would regard any monies spent on refurbishing these properties as 'revenue' spending which for some reason is bad.

Even the duffers at Lewisham Legal should be able to get the occupiers out of the properties in under a week, but I hope LB Lewisham will be open and transparent about why the properties are up for sale and ensure that their criteria for such disposals are up to date and fit for purpose."

Four weeks later there is no sign of Lewisham commencing proceedings for possession, nor more pertinently is there any sign of the borough being "open and transparent about why the properties are up for sale". This in turn strongly suggests that either their criteria for such disposals are NOT up to date and fit for purpose or that the relevant criteria were not applied. What little response there has been from Lewisham council reported here, here, and here suggests that the borough is avoiding the question. This is not merely an arcane political point as, if People before Profit or lawyers acting for new 'tenants' are able to resist eviction on the basis of the London Borough of Lewisham acting unreasonably and / or irrationally then the Catford machine will have to start taking its housing responsibilities seriously, something they have not done in years.

As for the photo, the Prime Minister was at Barratt's Renaissance development in Lewisham this morning.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

James Crouch 15 Dec 1911 -

In May 2010 I blogged about the Deptford Born King's jockey John Crouch who was killed in an air crash 20th June 1939. On 15th Dec 2011 John's older brother James celebrated his 100th birthday at Werribee, Victoria, Australia. In 1911 the family was living at 66 Speedwell Street, Deptford, which is where I presume Mr Crouch was born.

The photograh above and the article below appeared in the Werribee, Hoppers Crossing and Point Cook Star in November. I reproduce both by kind permission of Star News Group whose terms and conditions apply. Mr Crouch's medals are (l-r) the 1939-45 Star, the Italy Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal.


Forever young
22nd November 2011 11:39:59 AM

James Crouch is set to become Wyndham’s latest centurion.

WERRIBEE resident James Crouch is modest about everything he has achieved in his life, despite seeing more than most people can dream of. Almost 100 years ago to the day Mr Crouch was just born in the South London district of Deptford, since then he has travelled the world, fought in a world war, married twice and raised a family. The centurion is still very healthy, still living alone and only giving up driving last year. He complains that he only started using a walking stick three months ago because his doctor made him.

“I don't want to lose my independence. I do all my cooking and cleaning by myself,” Mr Crouch said. “I still get up at 6.30 in the morning. Once the papers arrive I'm up.”

Like anyone, Mr Crouch has had his fair share of battles, losing his first wife in 1974 and then caring for his second wife in the final years of her life after she was left with injuries following a car accident. One of 11 children growing up, Mr Crouch has only one sibling left, an older sister back in England who recently turned 102. He also has a daughter, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren who all live in England.

When he moved to Werribee in 1977 it was a town of 30,000 people and was known as the “garden suburb”. Mr Crouch said there was no great secret to a long life, but attributes his longevity to staying as active as possible.

“I never expected that I would make it as long as I have, but these days you can't count on anything,” he said. “I'm quite pleased to still be here. I've always been active all my life.”

It is this simple approach to everyday life that has allowed Mr Crouch to stay as healthy as he is.

“The last time I went to hospital was for an operation in 1991 and the doctor sat on my bed and asked me if I had ever been in hospital before,” he said. “I told him the last time I was in hospital was in 1918 when I had scarlet fever. “When he heard that he almost fell off the bloody bed.”

The humble senior citizen said he prefers not to think about the past and instead focuses on the future.

“It's been a good life interspersed with a few bad sessions,” he said. “Overall it's paid dividends.”

Mr Crouch will celebrate his 100th birthday on 15 December.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The People's Republic of Deptford

This poster caught my eye earlier today. Based on a genuine People's Republic of China (PRC) propaganda poster of the 1950s or early 60s the woman depicted is probably Liang Jun. Liang was born into a poor peasant family in Mingshui, Heilongjiang Province in 1930. After liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945 Liang was one of the first to benefit from the educational opportunities afforded by the Communist Party of China (CPC). In 1948 the school at which Liang was studying was offered three places on a tractor drivers course. Liang put her name forward and was accepted, not realising she would be the only woman on the course. The state propaganda machine picked up Liang quickly and she featured in primary school textbooks as early as 1949. During the 1950s Liang combined attendance at party events with teaching other women tractor drivers, she was received by both Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. In 1960 Liang became deputy director general of the Agricultural Bureau in Xiangfang District in Harbin Province and rose to be General Engineer of the Province's Agricultural Machinery Department. From 1962 Liang featured on the back of the People's Bank of China 1 yuan banknotes.

Further information on Liang Jun can be found here, here and here.

The story of Liang Jun does come with a caveat. Tina Mai Chen's essay Film and Gender in Sino-Soviet Cultural Exchange, 1949-1969 in Thomas P Bernstein and Hua-Yu Li's China learns from the Soviet Union, 1949 - present asserts the following:

"...Liang Jun, who was officially recognised as China's first female tractor driver, was a woman well known to Chinese because her story was featured in the national Chinese press on numerous occasions. Liang Jun incorporated into her well-rehearsed and officially sanctioned life narrative the inspiration she received from watching the Soviet Film Tractor Drivers and from specific Soviet female characters like Dasha who drove a tank against the German invaders after her family was killed in the film She Defends the Motherland"

Back to today's poster; Blurt are playing at the Birds Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, London SE8 4RZ, 8.00pm Sunday 11th March 2012. Admission Free.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Future of Convoys Wharf

I blogged on 29 Feb 2012 that the Aedas scheme for Convoys Wharf appeared to be on the rocks.

A few minutes ago the above invitation arrived in my inbox. I am not going to speculate on what we are going to be told, or sold, but a tour of the site is not to be missed. Having knocked down most of the buildings I am intrigued as where on site the discussions are going to take place.

The structure pictured is the listed Olympia Building, originally constructed as a (double) slip cover, under which ships were built for the Royal Navy. It was later part of the City of London's Foreign Cattle Market that was on the site 1871 - 1914.

Flyer text:

Hutchison Whampoa, as the developer of Convoys Wharf, invites members of the local community to join them for presentations and discussions about future plans for the site.

When: Saturday 24th March 2012 11am - 4pm

Where: Convoys Wharf (Entrance to the site is located where the top of New King Street meets Prince Street). PRESENTATIONS START AT 11AM WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO TOUR THE SITE
For further information and to confirm attendance please call 0845 460 6011 or email

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Charlton Riverside Masterplan

The Royal Borough of Greenwich are consulting on a draft Supplementary Planning Document called the Charlton Riverside Masterplan. Consultation closes at 9.00am Friday morning 9 March 2012.

The proposed policy threatens employment and in that it seeks to reduce the use of the riverside to land aggregates it would lead to a vast increase in the number of lorries on London's Roads including the A2 New Cross Road and A200 Evelyn Street. In order to comment you will need to register which will take 5 - 10 minutes, depending on how used you are to filling in online forms. The quality of what you say is more important than the quantity, but do not worry if you are unfamiliar with the planning system. However, positive comments about emphasizing employment work far more effectively than rants about losing jobs. Witty or sarcastic remarks tend to look pretty lame six months or a year down the road when reproduced in a report to a council committee. If all you want to say is that Greenwich should concentrate on employment then that is all you need to say.

I shall amongst other things be submitting that the masterplan should:
1. Place a greater emphasis on employment, in accordance with London Plan Targets.
2. Show proper regard to Safeguarded Wharves policy as set out in both the London Plan and the draft National Planning Policy Framework.
3. Be in accordance with the Borough's Core Strategy, which is yet to be finalised.
4. Be produced in an easy to use and print format (i.e. A4 portrait)

There are similar documents, in various shapes and sizes, regarding:
Greenwich Penisular West
Woolwich Town Centre
& Eltham Town Centre
As with Charlton comments have to be submitted by 9.00am Friday

I will comment on all three, if only to make the easy to use and print point.

St Nick's to St Paul's Cathedral

The Revd Dr David Ison, a former curate at St Nicholas and St Luke Deptford is to be the next Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. David was a curate in Deptford from 1979 to 1985 when Graham Corneck was Vicar.

The formal announcement from 10 Downing Street reads as follows:

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Very Reverend David John Ison, BA, PhD, Dean of Bradford, in Bradford Diocese, to be appointed to the Deanery of the Cathedral of Saint Paul in London, on the resignation of the Very Reverend Graeme Paul Knowles, AKC, on 31 October 2011.

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison (aged 57) was born and brought up in Brentwood, Essex. After taking a Combined Studies degree at the University of Leicester he trained for ordination at St John’s College, Nottingham. He served his title at St Nicholas and St Luke Deptford in the diocese of Southwark from 1979 to 1985, while also writing a PhD in church history at King’s College, London to develop skills to work in training people for ministry. From 1985 to 1988 he was Lecturer at the Church Army Training College in Blackheath. In 1988 he became Vicar at Potters Green in the diocese of Coventry, where he worked to physically and spiritually rebuild the church. In 1993 he moved to Exeter as Diocesan Continuing Ministerial Education Officer to take on a variety of roles in training and supporting clergy in their ministry, and in 1995 also became a Residentiary Canon at Exeter Cathedral. Since 2005 he has been Dean of Bradford, where he has enabled the Cathedral to play a significant role in the life of the city and the diocese of Bradford.

David is married to Hilary, who is also an ordained priest and works in London for the Church of England’s Ministry Division. They have two married daughters and two sons, and became grandparents two years ago.

His interests include history and current affairs, interfaith relations, DIY and scuba diving; and he drives a kit-car he made himself.