Charlton Athletic mark 100 years at The Valley

Valley pitch invasion
Going up: fans invade the pitch after the play-off semi-final win over Doncaster Rovers in May

Today marks 100 years since the first Charlton Athletic match at The Valley. The centenary will be marked at tomorrow’s match against Birmingham City, with Lee Bowyer’s side hoping to continue its excellent start to the Championship season. The first match in what was then known simply as the Charlton Enclosure, a 2-0 win for Charlton’s “A” team against Summerstown, took place in the South Suburban League – league football was still two years away.

The Addicks were founded as a boys’ team at Siemens Meadow, by the present-day Thames Barrier, in 1905. They became a senior team in 1913 – capitalising on Arsenal’s move to north London – and took over a ground at Horn Lane, east Greenwich, roughly where Ikea is now. But the club closed during the First World War, and the Angerstein Athletic Ground was requisitioned as a petrol dump. After the war, a reborn club played friendlies at Charlton Park and the Rectory Field while the club’s board prepared for its future.

The earliest evidence of Charlton at The Valley is a letter found in Greenwich Council’s archives, dated January 18, 1919, asking to borrow a steam roller from the local council as the club was “engaged in laying out a sports ground in Floyd Road, Charlton”. On May 13, 1919, the club’s newly-elected president, the Conservative MP for Greenwich, Sir Ion Hamilton Benn, told a meeting at the Mission Hall in Troughton Road (now Rathmore Youth Club) that Charlton had been invited to join the Kent League and would be playing at the new ground.

Volunteers did the work of converting the Charlton Sand Pits – known locally as The Swamp – into a usable football ground. Sir Ion, whose influence greatly helped the fledgling club, offered to act as guarantor for £700 of the £1,000 needed to do the work – but all the money was raised locally.

Facilities were basic, as Jimmy Seed, the club’s legendary FA Cup-winning manager, was to write in 1958:

“What a dump it was in those days without a stand or dressing rooms. The players changed in a nearby house and took their meals in a local pub. I recall how dreary The Valley was in 1920 when I played there for the first time for the Spurs reserve team against Charlton in a friendly game… After a cold, wet and thoroughly miserable day we were unable to take a bath or a shower, but had to stroll to a nearby hut so that we could change into our dry clothes.”

The club finished fifth in the Kent League in its first season at The Valley, and went professional in 1920, joining the Southern League. The year after that, Charlton became a Football League club, when it elected ten clubs into its new Third Division South.

But the switch to League football – and the punishing cost of getting The Valley up to scratch – proved costly. An FA Cup run in 1922/23 brought in the crowds, with 41,023 squeezing in for a fourth-round match against Bolton – but fencing collapsed, injuring spectators, and the cost of compensation is said to have wiped out the profit. Crowds shrank again, and in December 1923 the directors wrote off any chance of Charlton being able to draw a decent crowd in Charlton itself – and upped sticks to The Mount, in Catford. That move was even bigger disaster, with even smaller crowds of just a thousand, and the club’s directors moved back home for the following season, tails between their legs.

In the decades to come, Charlton would rise to the First Division under Seed, and attract a record 75,031 to a 1938 match against Aston Villa. The club entered a slow decline after relegation from the top flight in the 1950s, with crowds falling away and the stadium starting to crumble – despite occasional initiatives like bringing camels to the ground…

By the 1980s, and the aftermath of the Bradford City and Heysel stadium disasters, the Greater London Council moved to close the ground’s vast East Terrace. That, and a property row, led the club to repeat its mistake of 1924 and move out of Charlton in 1985, this time to Selhurst Park, leaving The Valley derelict and overgrown.

After a lengthy fans’ campaign – first against the club, then Greenwich Council – the Addicks returned in 1992, and the rest is history. Each side of The Valley tells a particular part of the club’s recent history – the Jimmy Seed Stand, the away end, dates from the late 1970s and is the only surviving structure from the pre-1992 ground. The East Stand, completed in 1994, was the first permanent stand to be finished at the rebuilt Valley, the west stand came at the time of Charlton’s first promotion to the Premier League. The huge Covered End, finished in 2001, which faces Floyd Road, is probably the biggest reminder of the club’s spell in the top flight.

Around 2000, the club flirted with the idea of a move to the Millennium Dome site, and in the early 2010s a move to Morden Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula was mooted by the club’s then-owners. But despite the anniversary falling under the shadow of Belgian electronics tycoon Roland Duchatelet’s eccentric ownership, there are no plans for a third move away. 100 years after the first match, it is very hard to imagine Charlton without The Valley.

Come back on Monday morning for KEVIN NOLAN’s report from the Birmingham City match. Acknowledgements: The Jimmy Seed Story by Jimmy Seed (Sportsmans Book Club, 1958); The Story of Charlton Athletic, 1905-1990 by Richard Redden (Breedon, 1990); Home and Away with Charlton Athletic 1920-2004 by Colin Cameron (Voice of The Valley, 2003)


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Metro Bank plans drive-through branch for Charlton – despite housing plans

Metro Bank design
The bank plans a glass-fronted building

Metro Bank is planning to open a drive-through branch in Charlton – on land designated by Greenwich Council for long-term housing development.

The bank has agreed to take over the McDonald’s branch on Bugsby’s Way, and plans to knock it down and build a new building with drive-through facilities, so customers can do their banking without the bother of having to leave their cars.

In its planning application to Greenwich Council, the bank – which already has a drive-through branch in Southall, west London – says planning law already allows it to use the existing McDonald’s building. However, this would be “a missed opportunity to significantly enhance the site”.

The Charlton Champion has contacted McDonald’s to find out the fate of its current outlet; however, the fast-food giant’s lease runs out in October 2021. This website also understands that Metro Bank has been interested in moving into Charlton for some time, and at one point was in talks about moving into the Sainsbury’s M&S development on Woolwich Road.

Now Metro, which has high street branches in Bexleyheath, Bromley and the City of London, has opted for a drive-through branch – a concept common in the US, but which failed to catch on when introduced as an experiment by British banks in the 1950s. One remained in Leicester until the late 1980s, closing shortly after a car crashed into its entrance gate.

As reported on From The Murky Depths, the bank’s plans do little to improve the miserable and intimidating pedestrian environment on Bugsby’s Way – and how Greenwich Council deals with this could be an indicator of just how serious it is about plans to transform the Charlton riverside from a collection of retail barns and industrial uses to a new, mixed-use neighbourhood with 7,500 new homes.

The Charlton Riverside masterplan, published in 2017, states that the Bugsby’s Way retail strip does not conform with the council’s “policy to promote Woolwich as a metropolitan town centre”.

It adds: “There is potential for some of the retail activity to remain, potentially embedded within new neighbourhood or local centres, but with a significant change to a mixed use form of development.”

However, as many of the retail barns have recently been built, the council does not envisage development starting on this part of the riverside until 2031.

Prudential, the insurance company, bought the whole Peninsular Park [sic] retail park – which sits between Asda and the Angerstein Wharf railway line and opened in the mid-1990s – in December 2016 for £38 million. Most of the leases run out next year or in 2021; the leases for the Smyths Toys and Tapi Carpet branches last until 2028.

Metro Bank, which rather optimistically refers to the area as “North Greenwich”, says it is aiming for a 25-year lease on the site – putting a spanner in any plans to rework the site for residential use until the mid-2040s. It says it will create 25 jobs with the proposal.

A letter from council officers submitted with the plans says: “The use of the building as a bank with drive-thru facilities will maintain the attraction of the retail park to customers and continue its economic contribution.”

In its transport statement, the bank claims most customers will use public transport or walk. The council’s transport officer raises no objection, saying there is an “abundance of parking available”.

To see further details, and to comment on the application, see reference 19/2781/F on Greenwich Council’s planning website. Comments need to be submitted by 30 September.


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Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: September 2019

What has Charlton ward councillor GARY PARKER been up to? Here’s his latest report.

Cllr Gary Parker

Dear Charlton Residents, this is my current ward report, this is a ‘snap shot’ of my recent activities it does not cover individual case work or a range of other meetings. I try to highlight a few key activities which maybe of general interest. Please contact me direct if you want more information- gary.parker [at] royalgreenwich.gov.uk; Twitter: @CllrG2013

Apologies that I have not reported for sometime, but I will try to get back to more regular reporting, in future.

The past year or so has seen the local elections, Euro elections, more Brexit issues and a lot of campaigning, I have done a lot of this both locally, regionally and nationally, which I did not expect to do, together with local street campaigning in the local and Euro elections. I have always supported Remain, but respect the views of Leave voters (I oppose Brexit, not them) and I hope that we can move beyond this issue in due course, though at the time of writing that looks doubtful to say the least!

New funding

Charlton-based organisations or those that support Charlton residents can now bid for new funding from the council. This includes the ward budget – your ward councillors want to give money to as many local organisations as possible within the £30,000 budget allowable and also from the Community Infrastructure Levy 2019 programme – a fund from actual development to support local neighbourhood wards including Charlton, the new programme with significant funding will be launched soon, in either late September or early October 2019 – for more info see www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

Planning & Development Issues

I have been working with local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues, yet again. I also support the local campaign to establish a Neighbourhood Planning Forum by Charlton Together and other groups/individuals and have had a number of meetings with local people about this on an individual basis. For more information, visit www.charltonneighbourhoodforum.com and click on ‘’Contact’’ to get in touch.

I opposed the recent application by Rockwell and spoke at the planning board meeting in July 2018 as did many local residents. The application was rejected and the Mayor of London ‘called in’ the decision for review and rejected it too. There is a large group of residents, community organisations, businesses and groups in the area actively opposing this development – I will support them as much as I can. Rockwell and Meyer Homes developers have both made eleventh hour appeals to the Secretary of State against rejection of their planning proposals, and Meyer Homes for a 24 storey tower in General Gordon Square, Woolwich. Greenwich Council’s Planning Board rejected the proposals in separate planning considerations in 2018, and the London Mayor turned down an appeal by Rockwell last January – this further appeal was submitted on 13 August, just two weeks before the six month deadline. The Secretary of State has decided both appeals will be determined through public inquiries, and both are opening on 19 November – Rockwell for 12 days, and Meyer Homes for 6. The council will be vigorously resisting both applications as will I as one of your local councillors.

Events & Engagements – A selection

I attended the meeting on Co-ops and community development on Tuesday 16th April at the Town Hall, which I am a strong advocate of and their capacity to create and support local jobs.I attended the Board meeting of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust on 14th May and a meeting with Speak Out Woolwich on regeneration issues in the area on 20th May. I also attended the AGM of Volunteer Centre Greenwich on 22nd May, which was an excellent event. Other events included:

  • The launch of the new Woolwich Creative District on 11/3/19
  • Met with the CEO of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust about Charlton House and the re-location of the RGHT Heritage Archives 29/5
  • The Great Get Together event at Woolwich Arsenal on 29/6
  • CASE public meeting on new National Education Service
  • Unite Community SE Lnd Branch- spoke on Universal Credit issues on 19/6
  • Unions 2019 event in Woolwich on 22/6
  • SE London Business Network meeting on 2/7
  • Greenwich Housing Forum on 25/6

I supported the John Roan anti-academisation campaign and attended the picket line to support striking workers and supportive parents and also at the Halley Academy in Kidbrooke.

Surgeries and Casework

I am concerned about issues being raised regarding Universal Credit and Disability Benefit, some of which are shocking but due to confidentiality and GDPR rules I cannot go into details. I have a large amount of housing and planning related casework, community safety and crime related issues which is ongoing. I also dealt with some issues in Charlton Park related to alleged drug dealing, motorcycling, dangerous dogs and anti-social behaviour and continued graffiti and vandalism around the toilets. I am concerned about the escalation of such behaviour in Charlton Park and am working with my co-councillors to address this issue.

Council

I have attended all of the main council meetings in 2018/19 so far and have spoken on several occasions on issues including, Climate Change Emergency, Austerity and economic development and others

I attended the July 2019 full council meeting and other meetings including main overview and scrutiny panel meetings of which I am a member. This received reports from senior council officers and cabinet members about major issues in Greenwich. I chair the Regeneration, Culture and Transport Scrutiny Panel, which will shortly publish a review of Community Regeneration in Greenwich, which has taken nearly a year to complete and was developed in association with community representative from across the Borough; the report will be presented at the next meeting on 26th September 2019 or will be available online via the council’s website at www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

You can contact Gary Parker and any other councillor via the Greenwich Council website.

 

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