In? Out? Shake it all about? Talk about the EU referendum at Charlton House on 19 February

The EU Parliament building in Strasbourg

The EU Parliament building in Strasbourg

You might be treating the approaching EU referendum with dread: foghorn-voiced old bores, nostalgic for Empire, hogging the news and distracting us from a wobbly economic situation that needs continued, urgent attention.

Or you may be salivating at the imminent poll: a festival of democracy that will debate our sovereignty and the urgent issue of how the United Kingdom relates not just to its closest neighbours, but the wider world.

Whichever you are, the Charlton Parkside Community Hub would love to see you at Charlton House to talk EU: In or out? with London MEP Syed Kamall.

“This event is strictly neutral and non-party political. Its aims are to air as many key issues as possible, discuss individual concerns and allow a more informed decision to be made. Syed will give a brief overview of the pros and cons of staying or leaving before opening it up to the floor for a Q&A session.”

Doors open at 6.45pm, the event runs from 7pm to 8.30pm. (And make sure you’re registered to vote…)

(If you really can’t get enough of local angles on the EU, Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook was a guest on today’s BBC2 Daily Politics, which discussed the referendum.)

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It’s Discover Cask weekend at the White Swan

White Swan Discover Cask weekend

Dry January? Forget it. There’s a mini-beer and cider festival, Discover Cask, at the White Swan this weekend (that’s right now). You can meet Woolwich’s Hop Stuff brewers on Saturday, and join SE London CAMRA to get 50p off cask ale pints too.

We recommend Gipsy Hill Brewery’s Southpaw, by the way.

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‘Cat’s Cradle’: upcoming production from The Alexandra Players

Cats Cradle

The Alexandra Players, Charlton’s amateur theatre group have a new production coming up in February:

Set in an old coaching-house in a remote English Village, CAT’S CRADLE concerns an almost forgotten kidnapping, and perhaps murder, which was never resolved. As the play opens, the original inspector returns to reopen the investigation. However, his efforts are hindered as it becomes increasingly clear that he is facing a conspiracy of silence from the local townspeople and a past which is shrouded in mystery. The final denouement provides a completely unexpected twist to this intriguing and disturbing mystery.

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The Eagle has fallen: New Charlton barbershop changes name after football gaffe

The new Charlton barbershop - Monday and Saturday
A new barbers’ has appeared in the old Brew & Choo unit close to Charlton station. We thought they were possibly being brave in taking on the titans of SE7 men’s hairdressing at Andrew’s, a little further up Charlton Church Lane.

Then we saw the name. Eagle?

Thankfully, common sense appears to have prevailed – and the owners have realised that calling your new business after Crystal Palace’s nickname isn’t going to go down well a stone’s throw from The Valley. The name Eagle Barbers has disappeared ahead of today’s match with Blackburn Rovers.

Floyd Road

Speaking of The Valley, fans are preparing to protest against absentee owner Roland Duchâtelet after today’s match. Anti-Duchâtelet graffiti has appeared in Floyd Road today, and it’s likely other visible signs of discontent will be seen in the area in the weeks to come. If you’re unfamiliar with what’s going on, The Guardian’s Owen Gibson has written possibly the most comprehensive assessment of the situation.

A petition has been launched to force the Belgian electronics tycoon out of the club – it can be found at ourcharlton.org.uk.

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Blackheath Rugby to move first-team matches from Rectory Field to Well Hall, Eltham

The Rectory Field has been Blackheath FC's home since 1883

The Rectory Field has been Blackheath FC’s home since 1883

Blackheath Rugby is to move its first-team matches away from the Rectory Field on Charlton Road, and will start next season at its Well Hall ground in Eltham.

The world’s oldest rugby club, which started playing at the Rectory Field in 1883, says it needs to move to Eltham to ensure its financial stability.

Blackheath are currently second in National League One, English rugby’s third tier, and are battling for promotion to the Championship. Club bosses say if the side is to progress, it needs a ground that can be developed in the future.

But they say women’s, youth and social sides will continue to play at the Rectory Field, the club’s “spiritual home”.

The new ground on Kidbrooke Lane, known as Club@Well Hall, boasts an all-weather playing surface and newly-laid pitch.

Chairman Russell Ticehurst told members at the club’s financial annual general meeting: “There is a lot of history associated with Rectory Field and it will remain an important part of our portfolio,” he said.

“Some of the first England test matches were hosted there, you can dig out YouTube footage of the All Blacks and Springboks there in the inter-war years, and county cricket was regularly staged until around 1970.

“But therein lies the problem! Rectory Field is a shared facility with cricket, tennis and squash and the pressure of running semi-professional rugby, which continues to become increasingly competitive year-on-year, in a shared environment is too great.”

“Club@Well Hall gives us so much potential to improve the match day experience for everyone. A lot of work will go in to make sure we have the infrastructure facilities for spectators and sponsors alike, and with its close proximity to the A2 and Eltham railway and bus stations, as well as on-site parking, it has excellent transport links for people coming from all over London and Kent.”

Ticehurst said he appreciated the emotional ties many felt to the Rectory Field: “As a player myself at Blackheath the 1990s, and now in my third year as Chairman, I fully appreciate the heartache of moving our primary activity away from Rectory Field, but it will remain our spiritual home with social, youth and women’s rugby all played there.

“However, if Blackheath is to remain a leading name not just this country, but in world rugby, we need to ensure our financial stability with a venue we can develop, and Club@Well Hall gives us the potential for a bright and exciting future.”

Club members have been invited to discuss the plan at an open evening at Well Hall on 28 January.

The move means means there are seven home fixtures left to play at the Rectory Field, including matches against Rosslyn Park this Saturday and Ampthill on 30 January (3pm kick-offs, £15 entry). The match against Richmond on 5 March is a clash in the oldest club rugby fixture in the world.

Blackheath FC was founded in 1858 by old boys of the long-gone Blackheath Proprietary School and became the first open rugby club without restricted membership. To this day, fans shout for “Club!” rather than “Blackheath!”, as early matches were against the school’s side. In its first years, matches took place on the heath itself, with players changing in the Princess of Wales pub.

It was a founder member of the Football Association, before walking out within weeks over plans to outlaw “hacking”. It helped set up the Rugby Football Union eight years later.

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Local historical records ‘rediscovered’ at Charlton House

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust have been in touch with news of a discovery in the cellar of Charlton House: 

WW1 History of Greenwich Borough uncovered as Charlton House’s Locked Vault is opened for the first time in memory.

Staff and volunteers at Charlton House in London have made an extraordinary discovery, in the cellar of the historic building.

Charlton House, part of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, has ‘rediscovered’ historical records and leather bound documents relating to the local area, and dating back more than 150 years.

Hidden deep in the basement of Charlton House, the vault containing the records has been locked since before the building was handed over to the Trust 8 years ago. Amongst the items discovered inside is the First World War Memorial Book for the Borough, containing the names of local men who served during the 1914-1918 war and a 100 year old log book for the local church – St Luke’s, which details all services and is annotated with significant events such as the Silvertown Explosion.

Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust explained: “We don’t know exactly how long it is since the vault was last opened, but the documents inside are very exciting and likely to be of significant interest to local historians and genealogists”

The Trust plans to display the discoveries at their forthcoming Great War exhibition, which takes place at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in February.

The documents and books will now be examined by preservation experts to ensure that their condition does not deteriorate.

There’s not been much information available on progress with Charlton House since it was quietly transferred to Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in 2014, so we’re glad to hear that things are happening, and hope to see more video updates from the Heritage Trust. A shame, though, that their latest finds aren’t going on display in Charlton House itself.

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Weekend trains from Charlton disrupted through to Easter – get full details

A weekend train at Charlton: There'll be fewer of these over the next few months

Tried to catch a train at the weekend lately? Not easy, is it?

Services through Charlton are currently being badly affected by two huge engineering projects – the Thameslink Programme at London Bridge, and Crossrail at Abbey Wood. These are huge projects which will bring big benefits to us all.

But what’s not helping matters is a dire lack of information from private rail operator Southeastern, which this weekend was caught publishing inaccurate performance figures. It expects train users to study the small print on generic engineering works posters rather than putting any worthwhile effort into publicity or announcements.

There are no normal weekend services planned from Charlton between now and Easter, and alternative routes keep changing. The Greenwich line has been closed most weekends for a few weeks now, but services via Lewisham will soon face a temporary chop instead.

In particular, Southeastern appears to have decided that passengers on the Woolwich line can be fobbed off with trains that only run to New Cross – often just running two trains per hour there.

Because we’re nice people, we thought we’d step into the breach. Here’s a quick roundup of what train services are going where from Charlton each weekend until Easter.

Everything’s taken from the brilliant Realtime Trains, checking timetables at Charlton and Lewisham. It’s subject to change, particularly further into the future. Please check your own journeys if you’re taking an important trip, particularly early in the morning or in the late evening.

PS. There is now a petition to strip Southeastern of its franchise. There’s also growing pressure for TfL to take over south London’s rail routes – see this report from Centre for London, backed by Greenwich and other south London councils.

PPS. Greenwich councillor Aidan Smith is part of a panel quizzing Southeastern and other transport providers on their services next month. Got a question? Let him know.

Saturday 23 January (Charlton Athletic v Blackburn, 3pm)
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton
Also no Jubilee Line Stanmore-Waterloo

Sunday 24 January
2 trains per hour between Charing Cross and Plumstead via Lewisham
Trains to Charing Cross at 04 and 34 past each hour.
No trains via Greenwich
Also no Jubilee Line Stanmore-Waterloo

Saturday 30 January
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 31 January
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 14, 29, 44, and 59 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Saturday 6 February (Charlton Athletic v Bristol City, 3pm)
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 7 February
No trains at all – buses run between Lewisham and Dartford

Saturday 13 February (Charlton Athletic v Cardiff City, 3pm)
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 14 February
2 trains per hour between Charing Cross and Plumstead via Lewisham
Trains to Charing Cross at 04 and 34 past each hour.
No trains via Greenwich

Saturday 20 February
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 21 February
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 14, 29, 44, and 59 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Saturday 27 February (Charlton Athletic v Reading, 3pm)
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 28 February
2 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Slade Green via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 15 and 45 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Saturday 5 March
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

Sunday 6 March
No trains at all – buses run between Lewisham and Dartford

Saturday 12 March (Charlton Athletic v Middlesbrough, 3pm)
Special services running – Charing Cross and Cannon Street closed
2 trains per hour Victoria to Gravesend, 2 trains per hour New Cross to Dartford
Trains to Victoria at 20 and 50 past each hour.
Trains to New Cross at 05 and 35 past each hour (change at Lewisham for Blackfriars)
All trains call at Blackheath and Lewisham
No trains via Greenwich

Sunday 13 March
2 trains per hour New Cross to Plumstead
Trains to New Cross at 04 and 34 past each hour.
Change at Lewisham for Blackfriars and Victoria trains.
No trains via Greenwich

Saturday 19 March
Special services running – Charing Cross and Cannon Street closed
2 trains per hour Victoria to Gravesend, 2 trains per hour New Cross to Dartford
Trains to Victoria at 21 and 51 past each hour.
Trains to New Cross at 05 and 35 past each hour (change at Lewisham for Victoria)
All trains call at Blackheath and Lewisham
No trains via Greenwich

Sunday 20 March
2 trains per hour New Cross to Plumstead
Trains to New Cross at 04 and 34 past each hour.
Change at Lewisham for Blackfriars and Victoria trains.
No trains via Greenwich

Good Friday 25 March
4 trains per hour from New Cross to Plumstead
Trains to New Cross at 08, 23, 38 and 53 past each hour.
Change at Lewisham for Victoria and Charing Cross
No trains via Greenwich

Easter Saturday 26 March
4 trains per hour from New Cross to Plumstead
Trains to New Cross at 08, 23, 38 and 53 past each hour.
Change at Lewisham for Victoria and Charing Cross
No trains via Greenwich

Easter Sunday 27 March
2 trains per hour New Cross to Plumstead
Trains to New Cross at 04 and 34 past each hour.
Change at Lewisham for Charing Cross.
No trains via Greenwich

Easter Monday 28 March
4 trains per hour between Cannon Street and Plumstead via Greenwich
Trains to Cannon Street at 05, 25, 35, and 55 past each hour.
No trains via Lewisham from Charlton

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