‘The Wyrd Sisters’: new production from The Alexandra Players

Alexandra Players 'Wyrd Sisters'

Charlton’s amateur theatre group presents Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters, adapted for the stage by Stephen Briggs. The show’s on from the 28th to 30th of October at The Alexandra Hall on Bramshot Avenue;  more info – and booking details – can be found on The Alexander Players website.

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Shopwatch: Charlton’s music shop runs out of wind, changes in the village

Charlton’s music shop has fallen silent after 26 years of selling and repairing instruments. Falling sales and competition from online retailers is understood to have led to the closure of Mike Edwardes Woodwind on Charlton Church Lane.

The business is now believed to be operating out of a shop in Forest Hill, although we’ve not had a response to an email asking what’s happening.

Competition from online retailers has hit music shops particularly hard, although the loss of another retailer from the Charlton Church Lane parade is a reminder that it’s not just Charlton Village that needs nurturing.

Meanwhile, the dry cleaner in The Village has reinvented itself as a gentlemen’s outfitter, London 1969. We understand cleaning trade was down and the owner fancied a change of scene. It certainly raises the bar for new businesses in the neighbourhood – we hope it’s a success.

But it’s soon to be farewell to Bowes, the shoe shop and key-cutter that’s been part of the village for decades, which is closing by the end of the year.

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It’s the Charlton Society AGM: ‘Tell us what you like about Charlton, and what you don’t’

Charlton House

A word from Charlton Society chair Carol Kenna…

Dear Charlton friends,

Please come and join us for the Charlton Society AGM this coming Saturday, October 17th in Charlton House, starting at 2.30pm.

Charlton has seen a lot of changes in the last year. Please come along to the AGM and tell us what you like about Charlton, and what you don’t. We’d love to have more members and more of you involved.

The past year has been a very busy one for the Society and largely unnoticed as our public face is rather like a handsome swan – calm above the water – for the Society a successful series of talks and paddling like crazy below – setting up sub-groups to facilitate an ever-burgeoning programme of work, setting up our website, encouraging new members and taking an active part with other local and borough-wide organisations keeping a careful eye on new developments either in Charlton or those which will have a major impact on Charlton.

Saturday will present an interesting programme in addition to the regular AGM business. The committee will present its past year to you and we hope that you will join us in discussing the progress made and what still needs to be done.

We will also have three guest speakers: Greenwich mayor Norman Adams will give a short presentation, Matthew Pennycook MP will be present and we look forward to his reflections on his early months in his new role. Finally Mark Hughes of AECOM consultants will be giving a short presentation on current progress with the Charlton Riverside Masterplan Phase 2 and their future programme of consultation.

It should be a busy and very interesting afternoon. Please join us for this important discussion, followed by a welcome cup of tea.

I hope you can join us on the 17th.

Kind Regards


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From Crystal Palace with a dump: Flytippers target Maryon Wilson Park

Maryon Wilson Park flytipping

Flytippers left a heap of rubbish in Maryon Wilson Park on Friday night/Saturday morning – but were dim enough to leave some incriminating evidence behind.

The tippers dumped rubbish from what appeared to be a kitchen refit, but also managed to leave correspondence behind showing an address that corresponds to a former bar/restaurant at Crystal Palace that’s recently been turned into flats. (Thanks to our SE19 correspondent for the update.)

Greenwich Council is now investigating the incident.

Dumped letter
Dumped packaging

Photos: @MaryonWilsonSE7

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October revolution: Charlton’s Horn Fair moves to the autumn

Charlton House

Wondered what had happened to Charlton’s Horn Fair this year? Well, it’s moved to a new date and has been given a new look.

2015’s Horn Fair will be on Sunday 18 October – St Luke’s Day, the traditional date for the festival, which began in the reign of Henry III and whose original incarnation was so bawdy it was banned in Victorian times.

The revamped Horn Fair will be based more around Charlton House – so it’s goodbye to the dog shows and stalls that have characterised the recent June events.

Instead, according to Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust:

History buffs can discover the story of the house and its ornate décor under the expert guidance of master craftsman Philip Gaches and his team, meet master stonemasons and try your skills at the crafts that built Charlton House.

Our young visitors are invited on an architectural treasure hunt, with the opportunity to create their own one of a kind gargoyle to take home and keep.

The Horn Fair will also see the launch of an exciting new exhibition of postcards from the past and the curator will be on hand to demonstrate how these handwritten cards capture an intimate snapshot of a bygone era.

Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, said: “We expect the day to be extremely popular and we hope that local people in particular will be interested in finding out more about this historic building.

“Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet local brewers Hop Stuff, Gosnells Mead and London Glider Cider while they enjoy music from local musicians, including fiddles, concertinas, flutes and even a song or two.”

The new-look Horn Fair runs from 10am to 4pm.

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Regenerating Charlton: What to do with the old summer house?

Charlton summer house

We’ve written before about whether Charlton needs a regeneration plan. We’ve also written about the challenges ahead for Charlton House under its new owners. There’s one place in SE7 where these two themes come neatly together.

You may well recognise the old public toilet opposite St Luke’s Church. It’s been locked shut for about a decade now. There’s a longer and more fascinating history to this building, though – it’s a Grade I-listed summer house, built in about 1630 and designed by Inigo Jones.

If it was in Greenwich, it’d be cherished. If it was in Woolwich, developers would probably have bulldozed it for “investment opportunities”. This is Charlton, though, so it’s just sat there, closed.

Now Severndroog Castle is back in rude health, it’s probably the most neglected historic building in Greenwich borough. It quietly passed from the council to the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in July 2014 – so it’s now their job to decide what to do with it.

If the centre of Charlton is to be regenerated, the trust is going to have to play a big part in that. It’s recently found a long-term tenant for Charlton Assembly Rooms, which was recently refurbished by Greenwich Council, but what future is there for the summer house?

We’d like to make a small suggestion. This could make a brilliant place for people to try out small businesses. A former public toilet near Loughborough Junction station is being used for just that – and there’s no reason why we think this can’t happen in Charlton.

Cider I Up, Loughborough Junction

The Platform Cider Bar at Loughborough Junction. The building has also been used as a bike market, jewellery shop and cosmetics retailer.

The Platform is a project backed by Lambeth Council and Meanwhile Space.

If you’ve got a business idea, The Platform gives you training and advice, and then allows you to try out your dream in one of three locations – two railway arches and an old toilet at Ridgway Road.

The best-known use for the Ridgway Road toilet has been as a cider bar – it’s well worth a visit if it reopens – but the space has also been used for a farm shop, art gallery, workshops, bicycle market, organic cosmetics shop and jewellery shop.

Perhaps a cider bar next to a pub might not work out (or maybe it would if you avoided matchdays?), but putting the summer house to good use for small businesses is certainly better than leaving it empty. It’s just an idea – and if Charlton’s fortunes are to be revived, it seems like a very good one to us.

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Valley House: Greenwich councillors throw out nine-storey Charlton block

Valley House render

Greenwich Council’s planning board has thrown out plans for a nine-storey block of 74 flats on Woolwich Road – even after the developer agreed to remove the “poor doors” so residents of social and private housing shared the same entrance and facilities.

Councillors had demanded the scheme be deferred in July because of concerns about the “poor doors”, but at also because of the size and density of the development, which faces two-storey homes.

Concerns had been dismissed by council officers, who said in a report: “In an evolving area such as this, it is not practical or even reasonable to expect a developer to mirror the low density of the two-storey terraces on the southern side of Woolwich Road, as the opportunity to provide both market and affordable housing would be missed.”

But in a surprising decision, the nine-strong board dismissed the scheme. Four councillors – Ray Walker, Peter Brooks, Harry Singh and Mehboob Khan – backed the proposal. But four voted against and one, Angela Cornforth, abstained. As planning chair Mark James was one of those opposing the scheme.

Council leader Denise Hyland – the only London borough leader who sits on their council’s main planning committee – was absent due to an engagement elsewhere, as was regeneration cabinet member Danny Thorpe.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

28 objections had been received for the scheme, which objector David Gayther called “the most important development here for years”. Residents’ groups had feared approval would set a precedent for the forthcoming new Charlton Riverside masterplan, which observers say is likely to feature demands for more tall buildings by the Thames.

Objectors were led by the Charlton Central Residents Association – whose area, which is south of the railway line, does not cover Valley House. Representative Anne Waite lambasted the lack of measures to deal with poor air quality in the area, saying “we’ve got rid of poor doors and replaced them with poor floors”.

Fellow resident Linda Waite picked holes in the planning document, highlighting a “sloppy use of cut and paste” which appeared to recommend councillors approve a completely separate application. She branded it a “pick and mix” of what recommendations from the masterplan were accepted and which were ignored.

Greenwich Conservation Group’s Philip Binns said there was no indication the developer had even considered reducing the height of the building.

But a representative of the developer denied the scheme “disrespected” loals, and said losing the top two floors would have a disproportionate impact on the number of “affordable” homes that could be provided – which was only 18.9%.

Eltham West councillor Ray Walker said he “couldn’t see the impact on existing residential amenity”, but chair Cllr James said he did not think the scheme conformed with the current Charlton Riverside masterplan. He joined Geoff Brighty, Christine Grice and Nuala Geary in voting down the proposal.

Two other controversial planning applications – one to replace the rear of Charlton Conservative Club with housing, the other the expansion of a care home on Victoria Way, go before a separate planning committee on Tuesday.

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