Parksfest 2019 in Charlton Park: What did you think?

Inclement weather was nowhere to be seen for Saturday’s Parksfest, with attendees soaking up the sun all afternoon. Face painting, drumming and skating were on offer – plus plenty of cake at the Great Charlton Cake Off stall.

Musical entertainment was provided by The Big Red Bus Club’s Baby Blues Choir, DJ Mikee C, Central Vibe and Ronnie Ripple and the RipChords, before Glenn Tilbrook closed the day’s events with a Squeeze filled set.

Saturday’s event was part of a wider series of Parksfest events run across Greenwich borough, and there are many more to come. Check out the Parksfest calendar for further details, and keep scrolling to see more from Saturday afternoon.

The skate park saw plenty of action…

The face-painting saw long queues….

And then there was the Great Charlton Cake Off….

You could try your luck on the wheel of fortune, or play crazy curling and basketball…

Ronnie Ripple & The RipChords played…

as did Glenn Tilbrook!

And here’s Glenn with his son Leon performing Squeeze’s Take Me, I’m Yours.

Now it’s all over, the Friends of Charlton Park team would like to know what you thought of the event. Please drop them a line at friendscharltonpark[at], or leave a comment below.


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Starting them young: Introducing Greenwich Music School at Charlton House

© Andreas Grieger

The Charlton Champion‘s LARA RUFFLE COLES reviews the baby music classes held at Charlton House

I feel very passionate about music. It brings me great joy, occasionally sadness, but it always provokes an emotional reaction. And as a member of two choirs, I benefit greatly from the social interaction and continuous learning that comes with rehearsing and performing.

Given recent news stories on the state of musical education in Britain, I feel very fortunate to have had an extremely dedicated music teacher at my state secondary school. From the age of eleven I sang in the school choir, had weekly music lessons, and completed my GCSE in music. At university I studied music and ran a rock music society, before joining a choir when I moved back to London. All this stemmed from that teacher, so thank you Mrs Pamela Wright!

For my son, I want to involve him in music from a young age, and with any luck he might want to learn an instrument or join a choir when he is old enough to chose for himself.

Until fairly recently there was a sign advertising Greenwich Music School outside Charlton House, and after a quick Google I was excited to see that they ran baby music classes for expectant parents and those with children.

I was patient enough to wait until my child was actually born before booking a class, but I started taking him to their Family Music class at seven weeks. His level of interaction was (ahem) fairly limited, but it was great to get out of the house, meet other parents and carers, and spend time in Charlton Park after class.

Family Music is for 0 to 4 years and focuses learning through singing. The teacher leads the class through songs and melodies that use different volumes, speeds, and low and high notes. We sing and play using actions, scarves and cuddly toys, have instrument play time with shakers, drums and bells, and the babies and toddlers move around the room to music.

As my son has grown he has been able to participate at a greater level and now the trouble is keeping him still for more than two minutes! Thankfully, the classes are relaxed and welcoming, and even if we don’t have his full attention, he is still in a musical environment – and it isn’t as if he can turn his ears off.

You can also attend Family Music or Songs and Sounds (9 months to 2 years) at Mycenae House. I chose Family Music over Songs and Sounds due to its location, and because I love seeing him interact and learn from children who are significantly older than him. Another plus is that I’ll still be able to take him to Family Music for a good while if I have a second child. Eventually, I want to take him to the older classes offered by the school, so I am crossing my fingers that he likes music!

Greenwich Music School’s co-director Bethan Scolding tells The Charlton Champion why she set up the Early Years Music programme:

We started GMS to share our passion for music with people of all ages through teaching and education of the highest quality. Bringing together our team of specialist tutors and developing our bespoke curriculum, from babies and toddlers to professional musicians, has been fantastic – and it’s been a great privilege to see our first students progress and flourish at all levels.

The school offers a variety of courses for children and adults, and financial support is available. Please contact the school for further details.

For classes not based in Charlton itself, there are a myriad of options to choose from – Google ‘music classes for babies’ at your peril – so I’ve highlighted just a few nearby:

  • Bach to Baby concerts are held regularly at Mycenae House. The concerts are great fun and the Christmas concert was particularly festive. But if a room of 40 to 50 children sounds terrifying, you might want to look elsewhere…


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Soft play in Charlton and beyond for kids of all ages

Sutcliffe Park Sport Centre, SE9

Need a break from looking after a demanding youngster? The Charlton Champion‘s LARA RUFFLE COLES has been taking her son out to investigate the local soft play options.

Getting out and about with young children can be equal parts stressful and rewarding, but luckily for parents and carers wanting to sit down for five seconds, soft play was invented.

Charlton‘s options tend to be small-scale and more ‘stay and play’-oriented, but they are free to use unlike most of the larger scale soft plays detailed below.

Woolwich has Under 1 Roof, a large warehouse building, 10-15 minutes walk from General Gordon Square, with multiple areas for different ages (up to 11) including a large soft play room.

At the bottom of Kidbrooke Park Road, Sutcliffe Park Sports Centre has a multi-level soft play with plenty of space for crawling, climbing and sliding. It also has an outside playground and a cordoned-off soft play area for smaller children.

The Greenwich Centre, SE10

In Blackheath, Mycenae House has a large programme of activities (for all ages) including a regular soft play session run by Toddler Sense.

East Greenwich Pleasaunce has The Bridge, and the venue runs regular ‘stay and play’ sessions that include soft play.

Staying in east Greenwich, round the corner on Woolwich Road is The Greenwich Centre, which currently runs seven soft play sessions a week. Each session lasts an hour and a half and includes a bouncy castle, numerous toys and soft structures to climb.

In Greenwich town centre the National Maritime Museum has a free play area called Ahoy! It isn’t a soft play but it is full of different interactive activities focusing on our maritime history. The museum also has The Great Map, a large open space perfect for children to crawl and charge about. They can also play with three ships that ‘sail’ on the map’s oceans and seas.

National Maritime Museum, SE10

Just over in Deptford, next to the creek, is Big Little Fun, a smaller scale soft play with a slide and climbing area, plus a separate area for smaller children. It is also has an arts and crafts area, dressing up outfits, various toys including a play kitchen, a ball pit, plus an air chute game played with the balls.

For adventurous parents and carers happy to take the DLR to the Isle of Dogs, Mudlarks at Museum of London Docklands combines soft play, water play and river-themed fun. Each free session is 40 minutes and booking two or three sessions in a row is allowed.

Mudlarks, Museum of London Docklands, E14

And for adults needing some let off some steam, you don’t need to leave Charlton – head down to the Thames Barrier for Bunker 51, a riverside Cold War bunker with airsoft, paintball (alright, not so soft play) and laser tag.

Alternatively, if you want to go a little further afield, Ballie Ballerson in Shoreditch has two giant ball pits for you to dive into. Cocktails are also on offer so hopefully someone else can look after the children the next morning…


The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
– Help us by telling us your stories
– Become a monthly patron at
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