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.


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Coronavirus in Charlton: Council warns of mask and sanitiser rip-offs

Shops across London have been selling masks and sanitiser (Photo: Duncan C via Creative Commons)

Greenwich Council has warned of rogue traders selling face masks and hand sanitisers during the coronavirus crisis – and reminded residents that there is no evidence that masks will protect from Covid-19.

Trading standards officers visited two shops last week selling disposable face masks which had been split into separate packages, interfering with the product’s integrity, according to the council. Officers also found a number of “potentially irregular” hand sanitisers for sale.

The council said all the products were immediately withdrawn from sale.

A spokesperson said the masks had limited use outside of medical settings and urged the public to continue keeping two metres apart from each other and to keep washing their hands thoroughly.

“Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings,” the spokesperson said.

“The best defence is to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water, or hand sanitiser if soap and hot water is not available. As well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin. Please note that a hand sanitiser must contain more than 60 per cent alcohol to be effective.”

Residents with concerns about local retailers in Greenwich borough should email tradingstandards[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk, while concerns about national retailers should be reported to the Competition and Markets Authority.

With many traders hiking prices of hand sanitisers and other cleaning products to cash in on the epidemic, the prime minister said yesterday that there may be legislation to tackle the price gougers.

During prime minister’s questions, he said: “I think that profiteering is something that we should be looking at from a legislative point of view in this House as has happened before in this country.”


LDRS logoLachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
See more about how The Charlton Champion uses LDRS content.


Coronavirus in Charlton: Have a virtual rumba class with Equality Dance

A Saturday slow dance to Adele is on offer from Equality Dance

Equality Dance is a dance school that holds classes at Charlton House. It’s a bit hard to dance with a partner while taking part in social distancing, so its teacher Peter Meager is holding a session via Facebook…

We’d loved you to join us for an Equality Dance FREE online Rumba class for everyone from beginners upwards. Pete Meager will be delivering a 20-30 minute session on Saturday 21st March at 12 noon right from his very home during isolation – but you can change that by dancing with him in your very own living rooms.

No experience necessary!

We’ll be dancing to “Hello” by Adele!

We want to keep our dance community and students active during times of quarantine…. come and join in the fun!

It will be broadcasted by Facebook LIVE so ensure you’re connected in time!

Sign up on Facebook for more information.

If you’re doing something special to help local communities in Charlton get through the Covid-19 crisis, drop us an email and we’ll try to feature it on the site.