After a break because of the pandemic, East Greenwich Pleasaunce’s New Year Wassail is back this Sunday. RICH SYLVESTER explains more…
As with all local parks, East Greenwich Pleasaunce has been a place to escape to during the pandemic. Beneath the veteran trees on this site a new orchard of plums, apples and pear trees was planted in 2012. Volunteers can join – Planting in the Pleasaunce – or Pip! to care for these trees.
Pip! also organises an annual wassail. This old English tradition – connected to Twelth Night – is to celebrate and bless the trees with cider in the hopes of a good harvest in the coming year.
The event is from 1-2.30pm on Sunday 16th January. The Greenwich Morris Men will provide some lively dancing, there will be wassail songs from Morrigan and Halstow Community Choir and some cracking tunes from Penny Gunstone and the band Clanjamfry.
Plus cider and a range of food and drink from the Pleasaunce Cafe. You are encouraged to bring drums, instruments, pots and pans!
Safety issues were cited as the reason for closing the crossing, but Network Rail said that an independent review by its head of passenger safety, Allan Spence, found that safety measures in place were sufficient to make the Angerstein path an exception to its normal rules on crossings.
Network Rail now plans to upgrade the footsteps to the crossing, installing a new surface on the crossing itself, and is considering installing CCTV to watch the area.
“I am counting on cooperation of people who use the crossing and would be grateful for misuse and vandalism – anything that takes place that is unsafe – is challenged and reported,” Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, told a Zoom call for neighbours of the crossing on Wednesday evening.
The crossing would remain open so long as there were no incidents which called its safety into question, Taylor said.
Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd, who also attended the meeting, backed Taylor’s call for help. “An interface between people in the railway isn’t what we would do today,” he said. “We don’t want to be here again should we find out that the crossing as been abused and it’s up for closure once again.”
Questions of rights of way around the land also needed to be sorted out with landowners and Greenwich Council, Taylor added.
The crossing was originally built for farm workers in the 1850s when the privately-built Angerstein Wharf line was built to link the new North Kent line to the Thames. It has grown in importance in recent years with the building of new housing on the former Thorn Lighting site off Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road, with 675 people recorded as using the crossing each day.
The meeting was told that rerouting the footpath under the railway line would cost £3 million, although these costs were challenged. Lloyd suggested that funding from developers could be used to help pay for any path under the line.
Charlton Champion exclusive: Plans to close Angerstein Wharf foot crossing have been cancelled by Network Rail, people who live close to the branch line will be told at a meeting this evening.
The historic crossing over a single-track freight line, one of the last of its kind left in London, connects residents in and near Fairthorn Road, Charlton, with Farmdale Road in east Greenwich and a footbridge over the A102 to Westcombe Park station.
Network Rail amended its claim to state that the crossing was the most dangerous in south-east London – however, there are no other crossings like it in south-east London.
News that the closure has been cancelled emerged in an email from Matt Pennycook to those involved in the campaign to save the crossing.
“It would appear that, as a result of the collective pressure we exerted, an independent review was commissioned by Network Rail which concluded that there are sufficient grounds in this case to disapply the national algorithm that the organisation uses to determine safety risk at individual crossings,” Pennycook said.
“As such, Network Rail are content to treat Angerstein as an exception to their general policy vis-à-vis such crossing closures.”
The crossing, originally built for farm workers in the 1850s, has grown in importance in recent years with the development of new housing on the old Thorn Lighting site between Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road. The newer Bowen Drive development off Victoria Way, which welcomed its first residents last year, offers a direct link to Gurdon Road and the crossing.
Network Rail has been contacted for comment. It is due to hold a meeting with neighbours this evening to discuss the findings of its review.