Rugby returns to the Rectory Field as Askeans move in

Askeans in action at the Rectory Field

Full-time rugby has returned to the historic Rectory Field, five years after Blackheath FC upped sticks and moved to Eltham.

Askeans, who play in the Kent 2 league, the tenth tier of English rugby union, have signed a long-term deal with Blackheath Sports Club to move into the ground on Charlton Road, and are already making themselves at home.

Blackheath moved its first-team matches out of the Rectory Field at the end of the 2015-16 season, saying it needed to make the move to ensure its financial stability as it battled for promotion to the Championship, rugby union’s second tier.

The much-loved old ground staged international matches in its heyday, and was also a venue for Kent county cricket until 1972.

Now Askesans’ move brings regular rugby back to the ground – and the club is keen for the community to get involved. DAVID SHUTE takes up the story….

We are delighted that we have now found a permanent home at the Rectory Field in Blackheath. But it’s so much more than somewhere for us to play – we enjoy great facilities – for a start there’s 2 fully licensed long bars (I knew you’d be pleased).

We also enjoy excellent changing rooms, a seriously big stand for spectators, several function areas, a great social side and even a pool table (for anyone who the ref sends for an early bath).

In addition to all that, the ground is steeped in a long and rich history starting way back in the 1880s.

It was originally developed for cricket, football and lawn tennis and was, for many years, home of Blackheath rugby club. Five years ago Blackheath moved to a new home in Well Hall, Eltham.

For several years the Rectory Field only hosted odd games – a great shame for such a prestigious and first class ground that was once used for international sporting events. England played matches here before Twickenham was developed.

Back in the day the All Blacks, Springboks, Australian and Maori touring sides all graced the Rectory Field pitch. It was also the Kent County home ground.

But the rich history is not just rugby, the ground has hosted senior cricket and county games and is now the home in the summer months for Blackheath Cricket Club.

Other facilities include tennis courts and a new commercial gym.

Most importantly – rugby is back at the Rectory Field.

We have already settled in and we look forward to calling it our home for many years to come.

We’ve also been made very welcome and so will you be – if you’re interested in joining – players of all standards and supporters (of any standard) can call Ian (Director of Rugby) on 07957 280530.

Askeans’ next home match is against Dartford Valley on Saturday 6 November at 2pm: there is no charge for admission.

For more information, visit the Askeans website.


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Vintage buses come to Charlton for Plumstead garage open day

The RT buses ran for 40 years from 1939 (Photo: Pete Edgler via Creative Commons)

Two vintage London Transport buses will run on route 53 through Charlton on Saturday as part of celebrations to mark Plumstead bus garage’s 40th anniversary.

An open day is being held at the garage from 11am to 4pm, and to mark the day two buses that used to run on the 53 will run from Elephant & Castle to Plumstead, passing through Charlton at just after 10am.

The first bus will be an AEC Regent – the predecessor of the more famous Routemaster, and the type used in the Cliff Richard film Summer Holiday. This particular bus, the RT4779, last saw service in 1978, after which it was left to rot in a farmer’s field before being set on fire for the 2002 film Heart of Me. Enthusiasts restored the bus to its former glory and it will be seen plying its old route in Saturday.

Not Peckham (photo: Aubrey via Creative Commons)

Alongside it will be MD60 – not as iconic, but a bus which saw service on the 53 in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is only one of two surviving roadworthy Scania Metropolitans and has also been restored by an enthusiast.

The buses will depart Elephant & Castle at 9.30am, reach Blackheath Royal Standard at 10.01am and Charlton Park at 10.06am, although these times may slip somewhat. Later in the day, the RT will run a return trip on the 122 to Crystal Palace, leaving Plumstead at 4.10pm.

The open day will include old buses and other memorabilia, and will raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Tickets will be available on the day for £5 (£2.50 for children) and there will also be a shuttle bus linking the garage with Woolwich Arsenal station.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.


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Green Goddess: Council planners recommend bar for Blackheath Standard bank

Green Goddess render
Councillors will decide whether the bar should go ahead next Tuesday

(Update: The planning meeting was postponed to Tuesday 19 October)

Greenwich Council planners are recommending that councillors approve a planned bar in a former bank at Blackheath Standard – but two influential local groups want the idea thrown out.

In March, The Charlton Champion revealed that Plumstead-based Common Rioters brewery wanted to turn the former Barclays branch, which closed in January, into a “beer café”, which would brew much of its own beer.

The brewery’s application to open The Green Goddess will go before the council’s Greenwich area planning committee next Tuesday. Council officers say that the plan “would bring a vacant commercial building back into use and for a purpose, which is appropriate for a designated retail area”.

Common Rioters’ founders Stephen and Maryann O’Connor have been testing out their ideas with a weekend pop-up pub with the same name at Charlton House. Their brewery’s name comes from the Plumstead Common rioters, whose revolt in 1876 saved the open space from being destroyed by a developer.

While 42 messages of support were received, there were 16 objections, including from the Westcombe Society and Blackheath Society amenity groups.

The Westcombe Society said a bar with no kitchen “may lead to an increase in anti- social behaviour outside residential properties” while there would be “smell and waste from the brewing process”.

Meanwhile, the Blackheath Society said “a ‘wet led’ pub without food seems to be designed to encourage pub crawls and potentially excessive alcohol consumption”.

The group also claimed that the bar would “encourage driving to the site, but as there is no car parking proposed this will lead to more congestion and nuisance in neighbouring streets”.

Another objection from a member of the public claimed that there was “no need for additional commercial activity at the Standard”.

There were also concerns about plans to allow tables outside, but a large fence would be put in place to protect the bar’s next-door neighbour on Vanbrugh Park. Outdoor drinking would not be permitted after 9pm.

Two cycle parking racks would be provided for staff. Transport for London had asked for two racks to be provided for customers, but Greenwich planning officers refused, saying “the provision of cycle spaces for customers (short stay) is not, as ‘drinking and driving’, whether it is in a car or a bicycle is not safe”.

The proposed opening hours would be 10am to 11pm seven days a week, with a midnight closedown on Fridays and Saturdays in December.

Work is already under way on the building to convert the bank’s offices into a two-bedroom flat; there is already a flat on the upper floor.

A final decision is due to be made at Woolwich Town Hall on Tuesday.


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