From rent strikes to bingo: My mum and Charlton House Stables

Rent strike
Rent strikers withholding their pounds at Charlton House stables

There’s a lot of history in Charlton House’s old stables block – some of it more recent than you think. We’re grateful to DIANA CORDWELL for sharing some memories…

Back in the early 1970s when I was an eager, young cub reporter, I was sent off to a rent strike protest at Greenwich Council’s rent offices at The Stables, Hornfair Road, Charlton.

With notebook and pen in hand and a cameraman in tow, I pitched up at the demo to be confronted by no less than my own mother Joyce and a gaggle of her neighbours brandishing placards saying”stand your ground, withhold your pound!” So there I was in the embarrassing situation of getting quotes from my own mother about her and her fellow demonstrators going on rent strike. Not to mention back at the office having to explain why one of the demonstrators in the photos sent up by the photographer had the same surname as me!

This was the start of my mum’s rather long relationship with the Press (45 plus years at the current count) and her constant appearances in various local newspapers under one guise or the other.

Following the rent strike, she popped up again in a feature on Greenwich borough’s much loved lollipop men and women (she did the school crossing patrol at Invicta Road, Blackheath Standard) and then on countless occasions over the decades in bowls match finals, women’s darts finals (we both played for the White Swan pub, Charlton Village) and several encounters with herself and a string of different mayors at various clubs she attended throughout the borough!

Joyce
Joyce – in the middle – ran the school crossing patrol near Invicta School

I remember another occasion when the Kentish Independent‘s editor Charlie King (who was known for imbibing a pint or two himself) decided we’d run a new weekly feature called Pub Spot. Off I went to the Richard I in Royal Hill, Greenwich – known affectionately as “The Tolly House” – and there she was again sitting with a group of in-laws and every ready with a smile for the camera and a quote for the Press.

With going on holiday also being up there with my mum’s favourite activities, it was only a matter of time before she popped up again in stories on Greenwich Council’s own hotel down on the Kent coast (remember that?), her TGWU trades union hotel in Eastbourne and a Mercury “Twirlies” trip to Fuengirola, Spain! It got to the point where a news editor short of a story would bellow across the newsroom to me: “Di, what’s your mum up to today?”

Today, some 50 years on, my dear old mum – now 92 – has found herself back at the Charlton Stables. But this time she’s inside and not out on the pavement.

For The Stables, no longer rent offices, is the home of the wonderful Greenwich Carers Centre and its outstanding, dedicated staff. Supported by the council and various charities, this little gem nestling by the side of Charlton House offers support,activities, events and holidays for carers and those they care for. They also run a brilliant cafe with a beautiful garden where the welcome is always warm.

Mum Joyce attends Wednesdays and Thursdays, gets picked up and taken home in the Stables minibus, plays bingo and does art workshop and then enjoys a tasty home-cooked meal and cuppa with her friends. I popped along myself a couple of weeks ago for the carers Chinese New Year celebration lunch – just one of the many events on offer in their excellent ‘Shine’ activity programme.

This place is so special that one wonders how it has managed to stay afloat in such a remarkable way in the face of callous Government cuts that have hit all the sectors that this brilliant oasis in Charlton depends on for its survival.

Stables entertainment
Stables entertainment, 2019-style

What excellent news it was then to hear from Stu – the chief executive of the Greenwich Carers Centre – that despite the odds, all is looking good for the next few years. “Late last year, we submitted a funding application that, if successful, would fund a significant part of our services for the next three years,” he said.

“I am delighted to be able to tell you that our bid was successful! We have now finally turned the corner and will be launching our new model at the beginning of April.”

The thriving Charlton House Stables today

Stu adds that the cafe is to get a facelift and a new cosy snug with TV is in the pipeline.

Plans for services for carers include an information and advice telephone support line, community engagement service linking up with heath/social care professionals, dinner and entertainment evenings, hobby and activity groups and day trips and excursions.

With so much planned, Press interest in The Stables will no doubt be high over the next few months. Joyce, of course, is ready!


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Greenwich Council has updated its local heritage list: What’s been added in Charlton?

Rose of Denmark pub Woolwich Road Charlton
The Angerstein branch rail bridge over Woolwich Road has been added to Greenwich Council’s Local Heritage List. Will Network Rail give it a lick of paint to celebrate?

Last October BECKY HOLMES kindly wrote for us about Greenwich Council’s consultation on additions to its local heritage list. Now the consultation’s over we’re grateful to Becky for following up with a summary of the Charlton locations added to the list:

The updated Greenwich Local Heritage List has been published – with 45 new nominations added as local heritage assets. Public nominations were allowed for the first time, a big thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate and comment. To qualify, buildings and structures needed to meet requirements in one or more of the following areas: Historical, Architectural or Technological interest – or Environmental significance.

Of the 10 nominations made in my local area of SE7, five landmarks made it through to the updated heritage list. Interestingly, three relate to the fascinating railway heritage in the area – which is all still in use today and definitely worth exploring. I’m really pleased that the Rose of Denmark was also selected because it is such an iconic local building, and this listing could be important when our local pubs feel so at risk. Details of each nomination are in the full document, but here’s a quick snapshot:

Angerstein Freight Railway pedestrian crossing & arched walkway “Rare survival of a historic pedestrian route over a freight railway, still in regular use by residents for its original purpose…and for transport of aggregates around London.”

Angerstein Freight Railway bridge, Woolwich Road “Rare example of a private individual obtaining Act of Parliament for railway construction due to the bridge. Carries a purpose-built freight line serving the Thames which is still in use, a rare survival.”

Railway Electric substation, Troughton Road “Unusual structure within a residential street with features designed on a monumental scale, of historic interest recording technological changes to the railway industry.”

Rose of Denmark public house, 296 Woolwich Road “Local landmark with strong communal value, displaying red of nearby Charlton Athletic FC – time-honoured locally valued feature.”

Rathmore Community Centre & Rathmore Benches (Former Good Shepherd Mission Hall) “Striking, high quality late C20th exterior artwork with strong social, artistic and townscape value. Intact and evocative, unique.” (An appeal has been launched to restore the mosaic benches).

The following SE7 nominations could not be considered at this point in time since they are the subject of current or recent planning applications. Nominations were put on hold until the application is determined, including any appeal:

The full report and results of the consultation can be found here.


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Greenwich firefighters remember Invicta school bombing

Invicta memorial
Firefighters and pupils at the Invicta memorial this morning (photo: Steve Hunnisett)

Last year, The Charlton Champion visited Invicta Primary School in Siebert Road to see a memorial plaque unveiled to commemorate the 15 people killed when it was bombed in 1940. This morning, firefighters returned to remember the dead. Local war historian STEVE HUNNISETT was there.

A simple and informal ceremony this morning saw the present day firefighters from Greenwich Fire Station honouring their Second World War counterparts, twelve of whom were killed at Invicta Primary School on the night of 14 November 1940 when the school was in use as Station 54X of the Auxiliary Fire Service.

Ironically, it was a quiet night in London, with the main focus of the Luftwaffe’s attacks being the city of Coventry. It was because of this lack of activity in the capital that the firemen based at Invicta Road were still at their station when the parachute mine that was to destroy the school drifted down. The explosion buried the men under tons of rubble and apart from the twelve firemen, three civilians, including the school caretaker, were killed.

This morning’s wreath laying was carried out by Richard Melrose, station manager at Greenwich Fire Station and the Watch Manager of White Watch and was the third such ceremony since the plaque was installed by the charity Firemen Remembered in March 2017.


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