No trains to London Bridge – the weekend mega-closures Southeastern hasn’t warned you about

Victoria station: Don't be surprised to end up here by rail next weekend...

Victoria station: Don’t be surprised to end up here by rail next weekend…

You may well be hazily aware of the Thameslink Programme, the massive rebuilding job at London Bridge which will see the station completely redesigned from 2018.

Passengers at Charlton station get off relatively lightly, but passengers at Westcombe Park and Woolwich Dockyard will lose all their Charing Cross services after this Friday, a consequence of the link between the Greenwich line and the Charing Cross tracks being severed to accommodate new services to North London. Instead, all stopping trains through Greenwich will run to Cannon Street, seven days per week. It’ll be tough at first, but when the new London Bridge station opens in three years, switching between trains there will be much easier than it is now.

One big consequence is that no Charing Cross trains will call at London Bridge for at least a year and a half. Commuters will probably quickly adapt, but expect occasional travellers to be completely stumped by the temporary arrangements.

What Southeastern’s inept communications about the closures haven’t warned us about, though, is a huge weekend closure this Saturday and Sunday (and again on Sunday 18th) which will see no trains at all to either London Bridge, Cannon Street or Charing Cross. Instead, you’ll get the novelty of being able to go to Blackfriars or Victoria, unless you’re at Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich or Deptford, in which case you’ll have a replacement bus to Lewisham that’s probably not worth bothering with.

Neither the rail company nor Network Rail has made much of an effort to properly explain what’s going on to passengers, so in the absence of a proper timetable, the Charlton Champion has played with Realtime Trains to figure out what’s going on for journeys starting at Charlton.

Essentially, stopping trains from Dartford will run to Blackfriars, while the services from Gillingham will go to Victoria.

Trains from Charlton on Saturday 10th January
Trains to Blackheath, Lewisham and Blackfriars at 01* and 31* past the hour from 0601 to 2331.
Trains to Blackheath, Lewisham and Victoria at 0554*, 0619, 0650 and at 20 and 50 past the hour until to 2320.
There are no extra trains planned to serve people heading to/from Charlton v Brighton, so expect severe overcrowding between 5pm and 6pm.

Trains from Charlton on Sunday 11th January
Trains to Blackheath, Lewisham and Blackfriars at 55* and 25* past the hour from 0655 to 2255.
Trains to Blackheath, Lewisham and Victoria at 50 and 20 past the hour from 0750 to 2320.
(* Three minutes earlier from Woolwich Dockyard.)

To double-check your own journey, and to get return times, select a simple search and have a play with Realtime Trains.

If you’re travelling elsewhere in SE London, then services via Bexleyheath and Hayes trains will run to and from Victoria twice an hour, along with Sunday trains from Sidcup. There’ll also be a New Cross to Tonbridge service twice an hour that’ll run via Grove Park and Orpington, and services that run via Sidcup will also terminate at New Cross on Saturday. (Here’s a quick guide from SE13URE to what’ll happen at Lewisham – useful if you’re heading to Charlton.)

One piece of good news – the Jubilee Line is running as normal from North Greenwich.

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Blackheath FC get Rugby World Cup community boost from Greenwich Council

The Rectory Field: No insulting the referee here

The Rectory Field: No insulting the referee here

Greenwich Council has agreed to lend Blackheath rugby club £35,000 to help it improve its community facilities ahead of the autumn’s Rugby World Cup.

While the cash will be spent at Blackheath’s training base in Eltham, news of the interest-free loan puts a spotlight on some of the community work done by the world’s oldest open rugby club, which is somewhat overshadowed by other work done by its round ball neighbour at The Valley.

The interest-free loan will be topped up by a £65,000 grant from the Rugby Football Union aimed at funding Rugby World Cup legacy work, with another £35,000 coming from Greenwich University.

Blackheath aim to spend the money on improving its main pitch at Eltham to help it withstand greater usage, such as being able to host other clubs’ matches. Club bosses hope revenue from increased usage will help the side increase participation among men, women and children; while better training facilities will also help it increase the calibre of players the side attracts.

The club’s community work includes tag rugby sessions and summer camps for children from Charlton Triangle Homes, whose Cherry Orchard Estate is next door to the Rectory Field.

Other work includes targeting schools in the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham, as well as working with male and female university students in the area.

Blackheath was a founder member of the Football Association in 1863 before walking out within weeks over plans to outlaw “hacking”. It became a founder member of the RFU eight years later, and has been based at the Rectory Field in 1883.

The club still attracts healthy crowds to the Rectory Field, where it plays in National League 1, the third tier of English rugby.

A trip to the Rec for a match is one of SE London’s most idiosyncratic but fun afternoons out (at least if you’re used to watching soccer, anyway…). You may be thrown at first by hearing well-spoken chaps bellow out “CLUB!”, but you’ll soon be reassured by the friendly crowd and the ability to enjoy a drink while watching a game.

The next home match is against Old Albanian on 10 January at 3pm.

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‘Christmas in Maryon Wilson Animal Park’

Maryon Wilson Animal Park Christmas Event 2014

Maryon Wilson Animal Park are holding a Christmas event next Saturday, 12-2.30pm. They’re promising a chance to hand-feed the deer, eat ‘festive ice creams’, sing carols, and visit Santa’s grotto; plus hot drinks and nibbles.

You can find Maryon Wilson Animal Park on Facebook, and also on Twitter.


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Hallelujah! Extra buses from Charlton to North Greenwich

Charlton station bus stop

Ssssh… extra buses run from here

If you’re sick of the overcrowded morning buses to North Greenwich, then some relief could be at hand – extra services have quietly been thrown on from Charlton station.

Despite various enhancements, route 486 has struggled to cope with rush-hour demand to get from SE7 to the Jubilee Line ever since it was introduced nearly 14 years ago. Some of us more long-in-the-tooth commuters look back wistfully to the brief interlude when fast route M1, the 486’s predecessor, linked Charlton to the Millennium Dome every five minutes – and carried a full load each rush hour.

Now action has quietly been taken – under the guise of adding extra weekday “school journeys” to neighbouring route 472, which are scheduled to start at Charlton station at 7.50am, 8.00am, 8.10am, 8.20am, 8.30am and 8.40am, before heading up the usual route to North Greenwich.

Whether these buses will disappear during school holidays is unclear (how big is demand to get to Millennium Primary School from Charlton station?) considering they now appear in the full timetable, but they’re a welcome addition. If you can time your bus journey to coincide with one of the Jubilee Line trains that start at North Greenwich, you’re in for a winner.

Now, all we need to do is sort out next year’s Thameslink issues on the rails, and the horrific overcrowding of North Greenwich in the evening (oh, and unannounced closures of the busway), and everything could be wonderful.

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Charlton councillor: ‘Get involved in skate park plans’

The Charlton skate park options - A, close to the mini-gym; B, across the other side of the old athletics track; C. away from homes by Charlton Park Lane

The Charlton skate park options – A, close to the mini-gym; B, across the other side of the old athletics track; C. away from homes by Charlton Park Lane

A guest post from Councillor Miranda Williams, ward councillor for Charlton and Cabinet Member for Culture & Creative Industries:

Plenty of time to get involved in Skatepark plans

Following your recent article about the plans for a new skatepark for Charlton, I hope it will be helpful to provide some information on where things stand, and also address some of the comments made.

As your article mentioned, this public consultation is intended to get initial feedback from parks users, residents, skaters and interested parties.

Charlton Park has been identified as a good location because it has good public transport links, and the skatepark will build on range of existing park facilities. We are also very keen that all young people, including pupils at the neighbouring Charlton Park Academy can access this great new facility.

I know from some of the comments made there have been questions about why this consultation does not include copies of proposed plans, CGI images of what the skatepark may look like, or a detailed schedule for the development which sets out when work will start and finish. Here, I hope to reassure readers that detailed plans, including the design specs, proposed images, and a full build schedule will be coming, and that of this will be open to the full planning process and further public consultation.

So at this early stage, we’re seeking feedback on three suggested locations within the park, and we want people to give us their contact details if they wish to be more actively involved as the plans develop further.

As part of the process, a user group will be formed to ensure that those who want to play a more active role can do so – if this is you, get in touch.

I’m confident that with the active involvement of the local community we will have a popular, top quality and accessible skatepark that we can all be proud of.

Can I also take this opportunity to encourage Charlton Champion readers to view and engage with the current consultation (at before the deadline next Monday – December 1.

And for those who want to get more involved, please email or call020 8921 5618.

Best wishes,

Councillor Miranda Williams

Cabinet Member for Culture & Creative Industries

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Join Jay Rayner’s Radio 4 Kitchen Cabinet in Charlton

Jay Rayner

An email from the BBC lands in the Champion inbox…

If there’s anything you ever wanted to know about food or cooking, but didn’t know whom to ask, read on.

Come and be part of the audience for The Kitchen Cabinet, BBC Radio 4’s culinary panel programme. Hosted by Jay Rayner the show is witty, fast-moving, and irreverent, but packed full of information that may well change the way you think about cooking.

You’ll have the opportunity to put your questions on anything and everything to do with food and drink to a panel of experts, and enjoy plenty of good-humoured conversation about cooking and eating.

Date: Thursday 27 November
Venue: Charlton Assembly Rooms, London
Doors open: 6pm

To apply for tickets, visit

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Councillors back Woolwich Road Matalan development

Greenwich Shopping Park plan

A plan of the proposed scheme, with the Ramac estate on the left and the new M&S on the right

Greenwich councillors tonight unanimously backed an extension of Greenwich Shopping Park onto Woolwich Road, centred around a new “public square” and boasting branches of Matalan, Starbucks and Frankie & Benny’s.

All 10 councillors on the board supported the scheme, which its promoters say will create 200 jobs, including 100 full-time positions.

The site, opposite Victoria Way, was kept empty for some years awaiting the scrapped Greenwich Waterfront Transit fast bus scheme. A Travelodge was due to be built on the site in time for the Olympic Games, and gained planning permission, but that proposal also fell through.

Concerns raised by councillors included traffic, maintenance of the public square and the fate of a willow tree at the centre of the site.

“If we had Monty Don here, we’d be able to find a solution to this,” council leader Denise Hyland said as she lamented plans to knock down the tree, which she said “brings joy as you drive or walk past”.

Councillors listen to arguments in their revamped committee room

Councillors listen to arguments in their revamped committee room

Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor Norman Adams said traffic in the area was “chaos” on Saturday and Sunday mornings, although the hearing was told the development would only bring 43 extra “vehicle movements” to the area during peak Saturday shopping hours.

Local resident Simon Hall said he was pleased developers had taken on board criticism of the plans, planting trees so he and his neighbours didn’t have to “face a dull brick wall”.

He called on Greenwich planners to make sure the development wasn’t as close to the pavement as the new Sainsbury’s/M&S scheme is, adding that developers’ money should be used to improve the “disgusting” street scene on the south side of the Woolwich Road and to turn the zebra crossing at the site into a pelican crossing.

Developers also plan to put lighting down the side of the Frankie & Benny’s unit to illuminate the existing pathway to Asda. The pathway’s owner, Ramac Group Ltd, did not respond to requests to co-operate with the planning application.

One sticking point was whether developers should contribute to a possible new bus route in the area – so far TfL has declined to extend the 202 service from Blackheath to serve Sainsbury’s/M&S, despite the developer offering money.

Regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe said that “even though you sometimes can’t get on a 472″, he would prefer to see money go into improving the surrounding area. But Denise Hyland added: “I don’t want to see Transport for London refuse to introduce a bus because there’s no Section 106 [money for it].” In the end, it was decided to leave the issue to officers.

Questions over the state of the public space – to be centred around a red oak tree – included whether it would end up being colonised by skateboarders. Which led to one Charlton Champion follower on Twitter to suggest a solution that could help the Charlton Park scheme

Details to be ironed out with the council before work goes ahead include sorting out a “travel plan” and finalising just where developers’ money should go.

The Matalan planned for the site would replace the one in Greenwich’s Millennium Retail Park – slated for demolition as part of the controversial Ikea development – which itself replaced its earlier site on Bugsby’s Way.

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