Heard of the Charlton Society? Find out more on Saturday…

You’ve probably heard – especially if you read the local blogs – of the amenity societies that play a big part in the way this part of south-east London is run. Personally speaking, they’ve a pretty patchy record of late and I don’t think the wider glare of publicity has done them any good.

At worst, they’re closed and suspicious of outsiders, and used by councils and other bodies instead of actually talking to people. The Westcombe Society‘s chairman once threw me out of a “public” meeting with LOCOG because I wasn’t a member, but wielded a press card instead.

The Blackheath Society‘s been left in a bit of a tizz after blowing a huge sum of money on a court case against a music festival on the heath, while the Greenwich Society shot itself in the foot by backing the almost-universally unpopular Greenwich market hotel.

At best, though, they can be a uniting force for good. The Brockley Society, for example, automatically includes anyone who lives in its patch as a member.

But did you know there’s a Charlton Society? It has no website, and the only wider publicity is a small sign on the notice board at St Luke’s Church. But yes, there certainly is a Charlton Society, it’s been around since the 1960s, and it has a role in every planning application in SE7. If you want to a build an extension, they’ll know about it.

That is, alas, about all I know about it.

Perhaps considering the blunders made by other societies, it’s probably a good thing that the Charlton Society has a profile lower than the average MI5 operative. But it’s getting a website soon, and it’s holding an AGM on Saturday at Charlton House. And you, yes you, are welcome to come along.

Here’s chair David Gardner to tell you more:

The Charlton Society has its 42nd. AGM next Saturday 15 October, in the Grand Salon at Charlton House. The Society has been flying the flag for the conservation and improvement for Charlton – with some great achievements under our belts and many more challenges ahead.

We have had an active year on planning, transport, heritage and environmental fronts – and we have started to build relationships with new partners as Charlton’s civic society gains strength. Next year we have the Olympics, the 200th. anniversary of the assassination of PM Sir Spencer Perceval, buried in St. Luke’s and Greenwich becoming a Royal Borough. We also have the Charlton House estate probably being transferred to the management of a new Trust and the future of the animals in Maryon Wilson Park remains in the balance. Two tremendous assets that really make Charlton distinctive. We will have our first hotel under way and (probably) an application for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket both in Charlton Riverside. We should also, after four long years waiting, have the outcome of the Conservation area review so vital to our heritage in Charlton village.

We have also had an active social and lecture programme as well as our first Annual Dinner. But we do need more support and, therefore, I hope that you might consider joining the society if you are not already a member (£10 or £7 for concessions), or attending the AGM next Saturday where we will be joined by our local councillors, the Deputy Mayor and Lord Gough, our President. Refreshments will be served. If you are able to be involved more during the year then do contact me or our secretary, Roden Richardson.

There’s been a revival of community activism in SE7 over recent years, with the establishment of the Charlton Central Residents Association and the birth in recent months of the Charlton Riverside Action Group, while the Charlton Rail Users Group has already headed off plans to cut train services during the Olympics.

But if these energies can be ploughed into the Charlton Society too, then we can have a group that represents the broader community instead of a small sub-section. It’s easy to carp at these groups – and sometimes they can make it very easy to carp – but here’s an opportunity to get involved and make Charlton a place to be proud of.

So, what are you waiting for? Charlton House, Saturday, 2.30pm.

(If you want to find out more now, here’s the latest Charlton Society newsletter.)


About Darryl

Journalist, SE Londoner.
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8 Responses to Heard of the Charlton Society? Find out more on Saturday…

  1. Simon says:

    Great idea but such short notice. Not sure you’d welcome me accompanied by a 2 year old. Think it’s very worth being involved and support David’s comments

  2. ThePirateKing says:

    Thanks for that post, Darryl. Good to know – and news to me that Charlton had it’s own society.

    It would be good to see it get a website. I just did a search and there was nothing out there.

    On a similar note, I recently wrote back to the Chairman of the Blackheath Society suggesting that they open an online forum or similar for their members to use and also hold www ballots on members issues. (With the probably optimistic idea that that might get them connected to people who aren’t ALL retired and also perhaps reduce misjudged policies that led to the recent £80K court case loss.

    I can’t make the AGM, but I will join the Society. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Alison says:

    I volunteered to help the Charlton Society two years ago, twice reminding them that I was happy to lend them my computer equipment and get more actively involved – I never heard a word back. Glad there are other groups springing up, just what Charlton needs as it has so much potential.

  4. ThePirateKing says:

    When I said above that I will join the Charlton Society, I should have said I will try.

    I emailed on the 15th October and received a nice reply back saying they’d send membership forms, since then I’ve received nothing. I emailed again reminding them last week – since then I have received no reply.

    They do seem a bit relaxed.

    • ThePirateKing says:

      Just heard from them – apparently the rubber band on their computer snapped. Have promised stuff is in post.

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  7. Rosemary Savinson says:

    Hello fellow Charlton folk. I expect lots of you have seen the blue sign on a house in Charlton Church Lane to commemorate Italo Svevo. I have just been to Trieste, where he went after Charlton and became a student and friend of James Joyce and wrote several books and plays. There is a joint museum to them both with pictures of Svevo and the paint factory in Anchor and Hope Lane which belonged to his father and where he worked. There is also his violin, which he apparently played in an ensemble which included the Charlton postmistress! I took photos of the stuff in the museum so if it’s of interest to anyone please let me know.

    Rosemary S, Littleheath

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