Charlton’s White Swan campaign winds down – is the pub now safe?

White Swan, Charlton, 12 December 2013/ Nikki Coates
The campaign to save Charlton Village’s White Swan is winding down after it emerged the venue is likely to stay in use as a pub after it is sold to new owners.

The pub’s future has been in question for some time after protracted efforts by its owner, Punch Taverns, to sell the building.

It was declared an asset of community value last March. Punch confirmed its intention to sell the building in October, triggering a six-month period for community groups to register their interest.

The Save The White Swan group was formed to investigate ways of buying the pub – a tough ask with the pub on the market for £950,000. But it has decided to wind down its operations after being assured the Swan will be kept in use after its sale. The buyer is believed to be a pub company, but the sale cannot go through until after the asset of community value moratorium ends on 23 March.

“We decided that we couldn’t in good faith go ahead with a campaign asking people to stump up hundreds and thousands of pounds if the White Swan wasn’t actually, for now, at risk,” the campaign’s Paul Chapman wrote on its website.

“The money we needed to raise was always going to be a record-breaking sum, at a time when everyone is feeling the pinch financially… and the near-certainty of the Swan remaining a pub made it impossible.”

Charlton’s pub-watchers will now need to stay vigilant and keep an eye on what happens next with the Swan, and hope that the interest generated in the pub – sparked by a Facebook group calling for Woolwich Equitable owner Antic to take over – will convince a new owner to give it a much-needed revamp.

Similarly, the future of the village’s oldest pub, the Bugle Horn, will also need watching. The Bugle – which is also owned by Punch Taverns – does not have the same ACV protection as the Swan, while its management has been unhappy about the attention focused on its neighbour.

It’s worth pointing out that Greenwich Council could do a lot to secure the future of both venues by putting Article 4 directions on them, preventing a change of use. That’s a tactic which eventually worked in Catford, when Lewisham Council stopped the Catford Bridge Tavern from becoming a supermarket. New owners are hoping to reopen it later this year.

While a lot remains uncertain, the campaign group certainly deserves a pat on the back for keeping the issue in the public eye and picking up the baton from the Charlton Society‘s original decision to try to protect the pub. Greenwich Council’s deputy leader John Fahy also deserves thanks for using his contacts to bring interested parties together.

The campaign group also deserves credit for battling on, despite the stress caused by a former manager of the pub’s attempt to start a rival campaign, which solicited for donations to his own private account (something the official campaign wasn’t doing).

Hopefully they won’t be forced to reconvene to try to save another pub – but who knows?

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‘Cinderella: The Untold Story’ & ‘The Flesh Game’ – latest from The Alexandra Players

Alexandra Players

News in from The Alexandra Players:

For our Winter 2015 production, we have chosen two short plays that will see children from the local community joining us, as well as a few of our newest members. The play opens on Thursday 19th February and runs until Saturday 21st February.

Thursday 19th – 8pm | Friday 20th – 8pm | Saturday 21st – 2pm & 6.30pm (Doors open 30 minutes before curtain up)

Seats £9 Conc. £8 Children £5

 ACT I is a play called CINDERELLA: THE UNTOLD STORY by John O’Hara – the pantomime-ish fairytale wedding of the fake Cinderella and Prince Charming comes to a screeching halt when O’Reilly, a fairy tale fixer, breaks it up to reveal the true, untold story.

 ACT  II is a play called THE FLESH GAME by Rae Shirley – a lively comedy that takes a light-hearted look at slimming. Set in a regimented Health Spa, presided over by the humourless and power-loving Nurse Burton, its guests respond to its structure like naughty schoolchildren. They all have their different reasons for being there and there is plenty of fun and games as the different ways of cheating are sought.

 People wishing to book seats can do so by any of the following methods:

 RESERVE BY TEXT: 07867 627 987





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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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