Charlton station mural celebrates 100 years of The Valley

Lionel Stanhope with the (almost) finished mural

The drab bridge over the railway line at Charlton station has been brightened up by a colourful new mural marking 100 years since Charlton Athletic first played at The Valley.

Artist Lionel Stanhope, whose creations have livened up drab corners all over south-east London, has spent two days working on the mural on Charlton Church Lane along with fellow artist and sculptor Zara Gaze. The project has been paid for by the Charlton Athletic Museum, an independent charity which seeks to preserve and celebrate the football club’s distinguished heritage.

Network Rail has supported the project, which sees Charlton join Brockley, Hither Green, Lee, Forest Hill and Plumstead as neighbourhoods with a Stanhope mural.

Only the undercoat was visible on Wednesday

Charlton Athletic first played at The Valley on September 13, 1919. The first match in what was then known simply as the Charlton Enclosure, was a 2-0 win for Charlton’s “A” team against Summerstown. It took place in the South Suburban League – league football was still two years away.

Volunteers had converted the old sand pits – then known locally as The Swamp – into a usable football ground after an appeal from the local MP, Sir Ion Hamilton Benn, at a public meeting at the Mission Hall in Troughton Road a few months before.

The mural marks 100 years since Charlton first played at The Valley
Mural in progress
The mural took two days to create

Since then The Valley has been the scene for triumphs and failures as well as protests and celebrations, such as the pitch invasion last May when the Addicks won their play-off semi-final against Doncaster Rovers on their way to promotion to the Championship.

Stanhope, who used graffiti-resistant materials to create the mural, told The Charlton Champion: “It’s a nice one to do. The colours are really going to brighten up this little stretch outside the station.”

Stanhope’s other work includes this deliberately-faded sign at Hither Green
Forest Hill mural
Stanhope’s mural at Forest Hill features the Horniman Museum walrus

He has completed over 25 murals – mostly large creations under bridges, but a few, like Charlton’s, are smaller works on overbridges. His work is now spreading to railway land outside London, including Kent and Sussex and as far afield as Wales.

Ben Hayes, a trustee of the Charlton Athletic Museum, said: “As a museum we wanted to do something to mark the centenary of The Valley but at the same time brighten up the area. I drink in the Radical Club in Plumstead before games, so always see Lionel’s work by Plumstead station and thought it would work perfectly at Charlton, Eddie Burton at Network Rail was really helpful and Lionel was keen from the start.

“The Valley has a special place in Charlton fans’ hearts for many reasons. Nearly all fans love their own stadium but what makes The Valley special is that it was dug out in 1919 by fans, one of whom was Bob Sims, my great-uncle, and players.

“And then in the 1980s and 90s when we were forced to leave the fans, along with Roger Alwen and the other directors, fought to bring us home. The Valley is Charlton and Charlton is the Valley.”

It was paid for by the independent Charlton Athletic Museum
It directs visitors to The Valley

Hayes added: “We hope it helps local people take pride in their area. It certainly brightens up what was a bit of a drab railway bridge. The football club played a major part in reviving the local community just after World War One when the Valley opened and the sign is one way of that.”

Fellow museum trustee Clive Harris said: “’Now more than ever our community is important. Charlton Athletic is so intrinsically entwined with the local community that to us, as a museum, it seemed the perfect way to commemorate the centenary of our beloved Valley. We hope it becomes an integral local landmark for generations to come.”

The mural includes a tribute to Charlton fan Seb Lewis, who died this week

‘Seb 1076’

The mural also includes a small tribute to Seb Lewis, a 38-year-old Charlton fan who died from Covid-19 this week. A familiar and much-loved figure at The Valley, Lewis had attended 1,076 consecutive matches since 1998 before being admitted to hospital earlier this month. Stanhope was asked to add “Seb 1076” to the mural this morning, a couple of hours after fans heard about the news.

“I just heard about it this morning – it’s a nice touch to add his name and the number of games he’d been to,” Stanhope said.

Seb Lewis went to 1,076 consecutive matches, home and away, before he was taken to hospital this month

Hayes said: “When adding ‘Seb 1076’ was suggested, we thought it was a brilliant idea. It makes the design extra special for everyone connected to the club. Seb was a regular visitor to the museum so we’re grateful to have a way to commemorate him in a small way.”

Museum is for local people too

The museum has been open for five years and has generated interest from other clubs, as well as holding events like last summer’s Blitz walk of the area with local historian Steve Hunnisett. Hayes said: “We’ve had visits and enquires for other English clubs such as Wimbledon, Luton and Exeter who have plans for new stadiums or stands that will include museum rooms. We also had a visit from the museums of Benfica of Portugal and Boca Juniors of Argentina.

The mural is opposite Charlton station

“We hope that local people, whether they are Addicks fans or not will find something of interest. The way the club was founded in the streets near what is now the Thames Barrier by 14 and 15 year old boys is very much a local story. We’ve had plenty of non-Charlton fans visit and they have all found something that engages them. It might be the old rattles people used or the photos of local people stood on the packed Valley terraces.”

Should this wall be next for a mural?

Now Hayes and others are thinking about a bigger idea – decorating the blank wall on the corner of Floyd Road for a wider celebration of the local area.

“There is a big blank wall on the corner of Charlton Church Lane and Floyd Road that is ripe for a mural showing the history of Charlton from the Horn Fair, Spencer Perceval, Siemens, the Thames Barrier and, obviously, Charlton Athletic. It’s something we’d love to work on with local residents’ and history groups,” he said.

If you like the mural and want to help chip in towards the museum’s costs, you can send via PayPal to cafchistorian[at]gmail.com, or contact the museum on the same email address for bank details.

If you’re as interested in doing something with the Floyd Road wall as we are, get in touch with us at The Charlton Champion and we can start investigating ideas and how to get it funded.

If you’d like Lionel Stanhope to brighten up railway land near you, email eddie.burton[at]networkrail.co.uk.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
Become a monthly supporter at presspatron.com/charltonchampion
Advertise your business with us from just £9.80/per week
Celebrate our neighbourhood and order postcards or a print

Kevin Nolan’s Valley View: Charlton Athletic 3-1 Luton Town

Kevin Nolan's Valley View

The Addicks notched up a crucial win against relegation contenders Luton Town yesterday. KEVIN NOLAN was there for The Charlton Champion.

The plaudits and headlines saluting Charlton’s crucial victory over gritty Luton Town will, in time-honoured fashion, be claimed by goal machine Lyle Taylor and battery-powered George Lapslie. Quite right too, of course, given Taylor’s prodigious return of 11 goals from just 14 starts plus five substitute appearances. And not to mention the lift to the whole stadium provided by Lapslie, who marked his return from a lengthy injury absence by easing the tension with the rare luxury of a game-clinching goal.

Newly named as captain, Taylor justified his promotion with yet another inspirational performance, which he crowned with a superbly-taken opening goal and the latest of his patented “walking football” spotkicks. He illuminates an otherwise honest-to-goodness side with his insatiable will-to-win and in-opponents’-face chutzpah.

Lapslie took over from a struggling Deji Oshilaja ten minutes into the second half to make his first appearance since November 9th. Knuckling down immediately, he supplied energy and wholehearted commitment to the cause.

As “one of their own” there could no more popular a goalscorer at a nervous Valley than blond-haired George. This was his first goal in a serious Charlton game. His recall to the colours provides Lee Bowyer with a perfectly timed boost ahead of a tricky 12-game run-in.

Improbably sharp

Another Addick with a case to be regarded as home grown is pocket-sized Erhun Oztumer, who was released at 16 from the academy set-up and has spent several somewhat aimless seasons in virtual exile. Given a second chance with Charlton, he is making the most of it. Until he was replaced by the excellent Macauley Bonne with 12 minutes left, Oztumer was a ballplaying delight, his subtle passing, long or short where the situation dictated, driving more than one Hatter mad. It was his cross, following a short corner routine worked with Josh Cullen, which Naby Sarr drove powerfully against the underside of Simon Sluga’s crossbar. The keeper temporarily preserved equality by alertly tipping Alfie Doughty’s ripsnorter to safety but ran out of luck just past the half-hour mark.

Another short corner, delivered by Cullen and half-=cleared from the visiting penalty area was picked up by David Davis and slipped forward to Taylor, lurking among a posse of white-shirted defenders. The striker’s turn was improbably sharp, the low drive he whiplashed into the bottom left corner an unstoppable force of nature. Ironic that such a marvellously-taken goal was cancelled out within two minutes.

Town had acquitted themselves well and had been unlucky when Luke Berry’s fierce shot deflected harmlessly over the bar off Tom Lockyer. They hit back gamely and were gifted their equaliser by David Davis, whose disastrously scuffed clearance of Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s low centre was crisply driven past Dillon Phillips by an impressively cool Harry Cornick. The interval provided timely relief for Bowyer’s rattled Addicks but they re-grouped admirably and went in search of the coup-de-grace.

Oztumer’s understated influence was quickly in evidence, his craftily weighted pass sending Taylor rampaging through to deliver hard and low from the left. Sliding in, Andre Green seemed certain to score but prodded wide from six yards. “Harder to miss” was Bowyer’s unkind but hastily mitigated reaction to the squandered chance.

Premature Luton celebrations

Ten minutes after resumption, Cornick crossed from the right, James Collins tapped in at the far post and the packed Jimmy Seed Stand celebrated wildly. Prematurely, as it turned out. A linesman’s flag ruled Collins offside, much to the chagrin and bitterly-expressed displeasure of Hatters boss Graeme Jones. He might have had a point but that’s how it so often goes when you’re looking up from the bottom of the league.

Insult was added to Jones’s perceived injury when Charlton regained the lead on the hour. Lapslie was proving a persistent thorn in their side and after picking up the pieces left by the latest of Cullen’s short corners he let fly uninhibitedly, his shot blocked by Collins’ carelessly outflung hand inside the area. Taylor walked the walk to convert the inevitable penalty, then talked the talk to remind Luton’s ill-advised fans of the foulmouthed abuse they had heaped on him before he scored in the first half. Lyle isn’t one to forgive or forget.

Hardly overworked while his colleagues coped with the visitors’ rare attacks, Phillips did his bit by spectacularly tipping George Moncur’s potent drive over his bar. Lapslie promptly stepped up to settle the nerves. Urged by Bowyer to “get into the box”, he was in the right place at the right time to convert Bonne’s low ball in from the right byline. Made by Bonne, finished by Lapslie, two players fresh from Sparrows Lane Infirmary; it’s been Bowyer’s frequently stated belief that as the injuries began to clear up, Charlton would thrive. This goal bears him out.

Charlton: Phillips, Matthews, Lockyer, Oshilaja (Lapslie 55), Sarr, Doughty, Davis, Cullen, Oztumer (Bonne 78), Green (Pearce 88), Taylor. Not used: Amos, McGeady, Smith, Hemed. Booked: Oshilaja, Taylor.

Luton: Sluga, Potts, Pearson, Tunnicliffe, Bree (Bolton 82), Carter-Vickers, Cornick (Moncur 70), Rea (McManaman 70), Berry, Mpanzu, Collins. Not used: Stech, Cranie, Hylton, Shinnie. Booked: Tunnicliffe.

Referee: Andre Marriner. Attendance: 18,969 (2,785 visiting).

This one’s for Les Turner, who is seriously ill in hospital. Fight on, Les. We can’t do it without you.

Can you solve this Charlton Liberal Club mystery?

Who are these men? (Click for full-sized image)

The Charlton Liberal Club closed in October 2018 – the last of the two old social clubs on Charlton Church Lane to go. The building, which was on the market for £500,000, has recently been sold. In its later years, it was better known as a matchday watering hole for football fans on their way to and from The Valley.

The Charlton Athletic Museum has recently been given a batch of old items from the club – including the intriguing photo above. It’s thought to date from before World War I, and may well have been taken at the rear of the club’s former premises at 560 Woolwich Road. Here is what is written on the rear of the photo.

But who were those men? Can you help Ben Hayes at the museum solve the mystery? Drop Ben a line at the museum (email cafchistorian[at]gmail.com), or leave a comment below.