Enchanted April for the Alex Players

16, 17 and 18 February 2012: Doors open at 7.30, curtain up at 8.00

The weather has taken a turn for the Siberian, but you can transport yourself to Tuscany in April with the Alexandra Players’ latest offering. Enchanted April, adapted by Matthew Barber from the book by Elizabeth von Arnim, is a tale of two London housewives in the 1920s who are looking for change and hope to find it in the charm of the wisteria-laden San Salvatore. It’s gentle piece, full of whimsy and wit, but also moments of drama and tension.

The Alexandra Players have been long-established in the Alexandra Church Hall on Bramshot Avenue and present a wide range of plays over the year. Enchanted April is directed by Keith Hartley and the cast and crew are a mixture of familiar faces and newcomers to both the group and SE7. Tickets are £8 (£7 for concessions) and can be booked by emailing alexandraplayers@gmail.com


Wasteland targeted for new community garden

A piece of Charlton scrubland currently used for dumping litter could be turned into a community garden. Charlton resident, Judy Wolfram, has set her sights on the land behind Our Lady of Grace School and opposite Highcombe allotments.

Anyone interested in hearing more about the proposal should go to the open meeting on Monday 6th February at St Richard’s Hall in Swallowfield Road at 7.30pm.

The land was once the playing field for the old St Austin’s school, which became Christ the King sixth form college, before it moved to Lewisham in the early 1990s. The school site was sold for housing, but the old playing field is owned by the Catholic Diocesan Board for Education and has stood empty for nearly 20 years.

Judy hopes that an interim committee can be established at this meeting that can begin the task of obtaining the land.

People will also be welcome to share their visions for the space and discuss what features the garden should have. They’ll be looking at what start-up costs are needed and the level of security required.

There’s also the option of involving local schools and groups. At least one primary school in the area has already shown an interest in integrating the garden into their curriculum.

So, if you can give up a little time or just excited at the prospect of a community garden – pop along.

Two Olympic closures planned for Woolwich Common

Traffic will be banned from crossing Woolwich Common via Ha Ha Road for two periods this spring and summer as it gets ready to host the shooting events at the London Olympics.

The road will be closed at the Charlton Park Lane junction from 7 July to 19 September, to allow it to become part of the Olympic and Paralympic venue which is currently under construction.

But it will also be shut from 15 April to 7 May for the ISSF World Cup, a test event expected to attract more competitors than the shooting contests at the Games.

Unlike some of the other Olympic test events, no tickets are going on sale for the ISSF World Cup, which will give Olympics organisers the chance to finesse their plans for the temporary venue. LOCOG recently took control of the site from the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Repository Road, which runs through Woolwich barracks, will also be closed to traffic for several hours each day while the site is operational, and bus route 486 is to be diverted via Cemetery Lane and Charlton Park Lane.

Some 3,000 people are expected to attend the events at Woolwich Common each day, and they will be directed to an entrance at the eastern end of Ha Ha Road, at the junction of Grand Depot Road. The junction with Charlton Park Lane will be used as an access point for athletes and staff, in an arrangement agreed with Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Some parking spaces on Charlton Park Lane, which is part of the Olympic Route Network, will be relocated onto the pavement.

As well as the shooting event, Woolwich Common will also play host to the Paralympic archery competition. Changes to parking arrangements will be made across a wide area, with parking bays requiring free permits to deter Olympic visitors from driving to the venues.

Meanwhile, Charlton station will see shuttle buses leave for the O2 – rechristened the North Greenwich Arena for the Games – every four minutes during gymnastics and basketball events. The shuttles are not expected to interfere with the current 486 service, although it is not expected that ordinary commuters will be able to use them.

The busiest days for the North Greenwich Arena are expected to come at the beginning of the gymnastics contest, with 16,000 spectators due on 28 and 29 July for each of three sessions. The rest of the O2/NGA will function as normal during the Olympics, although visitors will have to use one of 43 search lanes to be installed in Peninsula Square before they can access the bars, restaurants and cinema.

Further details on the North Greenwich Arena plans, as well as parking across the wider area, can be found at an exhibition at Ravensbourne college, behind North Greenwich station, on Friday between noon-8pm and Saturday between 10am-4pm.

Skate park planned for Thames Barrier site

The Greenwich Skatepark Co-Op has been in touch about its plans to build a skate park on the green space at Eastmoor Street, close to the Thames Barrier. It would replace the current facility by the Thames at Woolwich, which is due to be taken over for Crossrail works. Secretary Ashleigh Marsh explains…

“We are applying for funding from sources including Sport England and the Mayor’s Fund, and your support can help us to achieve enough to make sure Greenwich at last has a quality skatepark. The Woolwich skatepark is underused due to its outdated design, with poor surfaces and resulting maintenance problems, and our young people who cannot easily travel across London need somewhere local to develop their skills. If we maximise our fundraising success, we can aim to build a skatepark as good as any in London, to gain a lasting legacy from the Olympics for the South East London community of skaters and riders, and beyond.

“The value of a skatepark can be measured by its appeal to people who may not enjoy team sports, but like to express themselves in other challenging physical activities. A professional quality skatepark will mean our young people will be able to progress from beginners to the highest levels in a positive atmosphere of skill sharing, bringing cultures and generations together. Seeing what visiting professionals and teams can do will be inspirational.

“Our members share many years of skateboarding experience and community work. We will make sure that the new park is designed and built to last by specialists, and will work with the Council to make sure it is well looked after. We are planning to run events such as competitions and summer schools to make sure this opportunity will give maximum benefit to the community. We are in touch with the Greenwich BMX Club, at the Hornfair racing track, and their riders would also welcome a concrete park, with more scope for different techniques.”

The co-op also hopes to build links with The Reach climbing wall and The Raceway go-kart centre, both of which are nearby. A planning application is due in the next fortnight, and construction could start this summer if funds are in place.

Second open day for the Charlton Reminiscence Project

You’ll be pleased to hear the lottery-funded Charlton Reminiscence Project is in full swing. After a successful first open day back in October it’s now time for a second event.

Charlton House will once again open its doors for people to come a share a story about one of Charlton’s parks. This time they are inviting school children to take part so the event will take place on the weekdays of the 1st and 2nd of February. You can browse through maps and old photos that have already been collected but they’re always on the look out for more. Lots of information and interviews have already been recorded, including one from the day that Maryon Park opened in 1909.

There’s more exciting news, the website for this project is due to go live at the start of February – so watch this space….

Maryon Wilson animal park a step closer to safety

Charlton Champion exclusive: Maryon Wilson Park’s animal centre is looking more secure after the foundation of a limited company, the first step in forming a trust to take over its management from Greenwich Council.

The threat to the centre’s future was first revealed by this website in December 2010, when the council revealed plans to cut its budget from this April.

Now a trust is on course to be set up from April, aiming to promote animal welfare and education alongside a visitor attraction. To help the trust get up and running, this website understands Greenwich Council is to keep the animal centre’s stockman working for at least another year.

The council is also actively seeking corporate sponsorship and looking at “adopt-an-animal” schemes.

“I am delighted that the positive work done by the steering group in recent months has got us to this position so quickly,” Greenwich Council’s cabinet member for culture, John Fahy, said.

“There are exciting plans for the centre and the board of trustees will be confirmed in the next couple of weeks. A fund raising strategy as been put in place and we are confident that the long term future of the centre.”

The trust will be able to access funds not available to the council, and may also establish membership schemes.

(Thanks to Rob at greenwich.co.uk for contributing to this story.)