Pop-up Pottery Shop: Meet Charlton’s ceramicists at The Corner

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there’s a chance to start your Christmas shopping, support local potters, and have a nose into the former pet shop on the corner of Bramshot Avenue and Sherington Road. Over to Pop Up Pots organiser Louise Tomlins:

I am a former midwife and now work as The Accidental Knitter, producing knitted and other handmade items. My husband and I bought 96 Bramshot Avenue as a rebuild project and it’s still very much a work in progress! I have had a number of pop-up shops over the last 12 months and have been overwhelmed by the support from the local community.

I met Fiona Veacock during this time and am delighted to be hosting a pottery pop up to showcase her work along with Anne Richards, Katherine Joekes and my own.

I am lucky to have my own wheel and share a studio with Anne and having making a piece of pottery as an item on my a bucket list has changed the direction of my life. The plan for the shop in the long term is for it to be a coffee shop but that is very much my husband’s project. 

The event runs at The Corner, 96 Bramshot Avenue, London SE7 7JN on:

Thursday 8.30am-4.30pm

Friday 8.30am-4.30pm

Saturday 10am-4pm.

PS. We’d like to feature more local artists and makers on The Charlton Champion – as time allows – and we’re particularly interested if you produce work that depicts or features the local area. Get in touch with us here!

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The Alexandra Players bring Sir Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Season’s Greetings’ to Charlton

The Alexandra Players return to the Alexandra Hall on Bramshot Avenue at the end of this month with a production of Season’s Greetings, written by Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The play, directed by Juliette Harrison, runs from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th October. Tickets will be available on the door, or you can book or reserve tickets online, by email, text or phone on 07867 627987.

Why Charlton’s schools need a car-free day every day

Parking outside the new Our Lady of Grace school
February 2017: Parents’ parking causing problems outside Our Lady of Grace school

Last month, schools in Charlton and across the borough of Greenwich took part in the STARS Car-Free Day, which saw roads closed outside schools. It’s an attempt to highlight the problems caused by parents driving their children to school – and to persuade them that leaving the car at home makes life easier for everyone. Local father Nathan Hughes says this should be more than a one-off token gesture.

“My lungs feel better already,” was my note to Ben Murphy, traffic officer for Greenwich Council. I said the same to local councillors, who were on show, along with our supportive local MP as he passed by.

Of course, you need the reason why. Whilst checking my son’s school bag one evening I found a short note titled ‘STARS project’, which informed my wife and I that Friday was a walking to school day and that the roads surrounding his particular primary school and a number of others in the borough were to be closed for a period of time throughout the day and afternoon.

We set off for school as normal that morning and found an obvious reduction in both traffic and the sometimes overlooked noise.

There were children playing games in the roads which the schools had organised (cycling, rowing machines, hopscotch, and more) and a noticeable excitement in the body language of the children. The headteachers thanked us for walking – a statement which really made me laugh.

As many parents know, the catchment areas of schools these days – and probably always have been – can be summed up as “if you you don’t live within walking distance to the school, you won’t get in”.

With this being the case, why is that so many parents or carers decide to continually drive their young to school on a daily basis?

I would suggest the investment in our public transport these days has become exceptional. It is frequent and reliable – although many would choose to dispute that – and the added benefit of tracking it through smartphone apps mean we are constantly updated.

I put the driving to school down to laziness rather than a necessity.

Possible reasons why:

  • Moving further out as soon as the child has been allocated a school place, taking advantage of maximised property prices
  • “I need to make other drop-offs”
  • “I won’t get to work on time”

On the first point, this means some families are denying children living in close proximity to their closest school a place, thus making them travel further afield and having a detrimental impact on the immediate community. This just isn’t right.

Our borough’s primary education system has an abundance of excellent, enthusiastic, passionate teachers that have turned our schools into arguably some of the best in the country, making the options ever more attractive.

Positive impact and suggestions/ideas:

  • Local retired residents might like to get involved by supporting/marshalling the school roads
  • Local businesses. There’s an opportunity here to grow our community, as some of the local shops might find a way to promote their businesses through pop-up shops before and after school.

We all like to think we have an interest in the environment. But we choose to ignore the easiest thing to do and one that would make a huge difference. School run traffic has been chaotic and at times unsustainable for local residents, some of whom adjust their schedules around the inconvenience of the double parking.

Let’s start making a real difference to those little lungs. It could also help the older ones too. School by school, class by class, year by year, we could make a positive change – just like the one our teachers have made to an increasingly popular borough.

It shouldn’t just be be a one-off poster to stick to the school gates, it needs to be embraced and properly implemented.

What do you think? Could you help make car-free days a regular occurrence? Leave a comment below.

The Lewisham Natureman comes to Charlton

Lewisham Natureman
The mural can be seen at the bend in Bramshot Avenue by the A102

One of south London’s most distinctive – and best-loved – graffiti artists has left his latest calling card in a overlooked corner of Charlton.

The Lewisham Natureman’s white stags – often adorned with that borough’s crown logo – have been spotted in locations including the River Quaggy in Lee, wasteland in New Cross, the old Catford dog track and underneath a railway bridge in Lewisham.

Possibly the most visible one is on a gate at Greyladies Gardens, a block of flats on the Lewisham flank of Blackheath.

Lewisham Natureman
The stag welcoming you to Blackheath

From the Wildcornerz website:

The Lewisham Natureman is a legend thought to have its roots in South East London’s local graffiti scene. He has never been seen and is only represented by a small carving, that can be found [normally hidden] in the wastelands, train sidings and rivers of the borough. This has given way to the belief that this character is not human at all but actually a spirit of the wild; an urban incarnation of the Green Man or Cernunnos; the stag lord.

He also takes the form of a small white deer that can be seen wandering the desolate places of Lewisham, grazing on wild vegetation and drinking from the boroughs three rivers. The creature is also known as the ‘Wild Walker.’

It’s been a while since one of the stags have appeared – but now one has emerged in Bramshot Avenue, Charlton, on a wall next to land which until recently hosted a large advertising hoarding.

Lewisham Natureman

Lewisham Natureman from Siebert Road

It’s not the Lewisham Natureman’s first appearance in Greenwich borough – one was spotted outside the former Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke two years ago.

Long-standing residents may remember horses grazing on this land until the 1980s – the Natureman’s reappearance may help jog some memories, as well as giving travellers stuck on the Blackwall Tunnel approach something to gaze at.

Council planning blunder may mean unwanted phone mast for Siebert Road

The site sits just behind houses on Westcombe Hill

A fuller version of this story can be read at 853.

A Greenwich Council planning blunder means residents of Westcombe Hill may get a mobile phone mast at the end of their gardens – despite planners refusing permission for it.

Residents who thought their protests against the mast had paid off were shocked to find diggers turning up last week – and had to persuade contractors to stop work.

Agents acting for Vodafone and O2 applied for permission to build a mast on land off Siebert Road, next to the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach in September 2016. The land sits between homes on Westcombe Hill and the dual carriageway, which divides Charlton and Blackheath.

Council planners refused the application in November after protests from residents, citing its “prominent location, height, design, scale, appearance and poor siting would lead to a cluttered and an over-dominant appearance within the location and when viewed from the neighbouring conservation area”.

But the council took too long to reject the application – under planning law, a council needs to respond within 56 days to prevent this type of application. Greenwich took 57 days to respond, meaning Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd (CTIL), which runs Vodafone and O2’s networks, has permission to build the mast by default, so long as the property owner agrees.

Land ownership confusion

However, there is confusion as to who actually owns the land – it had been believed it was owned by Greenwich Council, but Land Registry documents indicate that it is actually owned by Transport for London. The planned location of the mast is on the route Bramshot Avenue used to take before construction work started on the A102 in 1967.

Confusion over the land ownership and relevant permits meant contractors had to stop work, while residents have been urged to lobby TfL to refuse permission if it is confirmed that the mayor’s transport agency owns the land.

Siebert Road, 1 August 2017
Residents already have to live with the noise and pollution from the A102 – typical evening rush-hour congestion can be seen behind

A letter sent to residents by senior planning officer Victoria Geoghegan and seen by this website says: “Regretfully and due to a systems error, the application wasn’t determined within the 56-day period which means it is deemed to be consented and the mast can now be installed provided all other permissions are obtained.

“It is extremely unfortunate that the application wasn’t determined in 56 days given representations objecting to the scheme were made. I can assure you that the system now now been corrected to ensure this will not happen again.”

Greenwich Council sorry

Residents are lobbying local politicians and starting their own campaign, Westcombe Hill Against the Mast (Wham), to fight the proposal.

A spokesperson for CTIL told this website: “Vodafone and O2 customers expect to be able to use their mobiles and devices where they live, work and travel. Base stations are low powered devices which cover approximately half a mile in radius, therefore we have to put base stations close to our customers.

“Vodafone and O2 identified that they need to improve the coverage to their customers in Blackheath and we now have consent for a base station on Siebert Road. We have received a query on the land ownership at the proposed location and are currently investigating this point.”

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “The Royal Borough listened and responded to residents’ objections to this phone mast. Planning permission was refused on 14 November 2016. An IT fault regrettably resulted in this decision coming after the legal 56 day period and therefore planning permission was attained ‘by default.’ We apologise to residents and are determined, going forward, to make sure that all works on the site only proceed with the landowner’s permission.”

More on this story, including other planning mistakes in the borough, at 853.

Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival confirms 2017 line-up – including Withnail in the pub

Withnail and I

The Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back for a second year – with a screening of Withnail and I at the White Swan pub among the highlights.

The cult 1987 movie about two down-at-heel actors on a disastrous break in the Lake District, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann, will be screened at the pub on Sunday 10 September, presented by louche SE London blog (and mates of ours) Deserter.

All films are entirely free to watch – just turn up at the venue. The festival, which runs from 8-16 September, is entirely run by volunteers and is one of a network of free film festivals across south-east London.

Danny Boyle’s Sunshine will be playing on Saturday 9 September at The Stables – next door to Charlton House – with Flamsteed Astronomy Society on hand to bring you a solar observing session. That evening will see thriller The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, screened in the eerie surroundings of Charlton House after dark.

The Stables also plays host to Dirty Dancing – with bonus salsa class – on Wednesday 13 September – and Rising From Ashes – about the first Rwandan cycling team – on Saturday 16 September.

Documentary Ha’way The Lads – about legendary Charlton Athletic manager Jimmy Seed’s determination to break away from the North East’s coalfields and play football – plays at the Swan on Monday 11 September, with a short talk from Seed’s grandson James Dutton. This night is hosted by the independent, volunteer-run Charlton Athletic Museum.

Kids’ animation Kubo and the Two Strings plays at Thorntree Primary School on Tuesday 12 Septembember, with Hidden Figures showing there in the evening.

Documentary project 1000 Londoners will be at The Old Cottage Cafe on Thursday 14th September. Charlton House will host a short films competition later that evening, with a £1,500 prize for the winning film-maker on offer from sponsor Rockwell Property.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens the festival at Building 10 in Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal on Friday 8 September, while a Grease sing-a-long will close it at the same venue on Saturday 16 September.

Other highlights include Suffragette at Greenwich Rugby Football Club, Plumstead Common on Sunday 10 September, Trading Places at the Woolwich Equitable pub on Monday 11 September, Salma Hayek in acclaimed biopic Frida at Artfix in Woolwich on Wednesday 13 September and Battle of Britain at St George’s Garrison Church off Woolwich Common on Friday 15 September, featuring a guided walk from local historian Steve Hunnisett.

For more information, visit the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival website.

Unseen for 20 years: Inside Charlton’s Summer House


Thanks to Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust for letting us have a look inside the Summer House at Charlton this morning.

As revealed on the Charlton Champion earlier this month, work is now underway to restore the 17th century Summer House – believed to have been designed by Inigo Jones.

Asbestos has been removed and the interior cleaned up, revealing the public toilets last used in the early 1990s. The next phase of work will see these removed, interior partitions taken down, the windows replaced, then the space made available for temporary (dare we say pop-up?) uses.

We understand that the building will be lit from the inside at night, which should improve that particular corner of Charlton Village after dark.