If you’re still mourning the loss of the gasholder next to the Blackwall Tunnel, which was finally dismantled last year, and curious about the old gas works that used to stretch out across the Greenwich Peninsula, then you can find out more this weekend with an online talk from local historian Mary Mills.
The Zoom chat is part of the Charlton Society‘s monthly programme of Saturday talks, which would normally take place at Charlton House, but has been running virtually during the pandemic.
The early gas industry was a hotbed of fraud and scandal – and the scandals around Greenwich’s first gas works led to the collapse of the ruling party and resignation of the Town Clerk in the 1820s. There were other gas works in Woolwich – with more scandals – even one in Eltham. Eventually, as everyone knows, Greenwich ended up with the biggest, the latest and the most perfect gas works ever – plus, of course, the recent scandalous demolition of our largest-in-the-world gas holder.
Mary Mills, well known to our regular members, has been around in Greenwich for years and it was while working at Charlton Library in the 1970s that she became hooked on local industrial history and has written a lot about it since. She was one of the founders of Greenwich Industrial History Society and has a PhD in the history of the gas industry.
The talk begins at 2.15pm on Saturday for a 2.30pm start and is open to both members and non-members – you can join the session here.
To find out more about The Charlton Society’s talks and how to join, visit charltonsociety.org.
Projects across Charlton could be in line for council money from the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund – with residents given the chance to vote for which schemes get money.
The cash comes from a levy on developers, and £50,000 is available across Charlton, Woolwich and part of Kidbrooke.
Unlike previous GNGF votes, any resident in any part of the borough can vote for any project, with final decisions to be taken at area meetings with ward councillors after the poll.
Projects in Charlton – and very close by – up for funding include a plan for a new playground and picnic area in Charlton Park, benches for Maryon Wilson Park, work to restore the Long Borders at Charlton House a mural under the Woolwich Road flyover.
Local projects you might want to support are:
Area 3: Friends of Charlton Park / £27,051
Proposal to provide Charlton Park Playground with a new picnic area with shady trees, a drinking fountain and extra picnic benches that will bring new life to a run-down corner of the play park. Local families want to see the playground transformed to a landscaped natural adventure that sparks the imagination of children. This space will provide park users somewhere to sit and share picnics in natural shade on hot summer days.
Area 3: Friends of Maryon & Maryon Wilson Parks / £4,602
Installation of two picnic benches adjacent to the Triangle as a meeting point for the community and for parents and carers.
Area 3: Charlton & Blackheath Amateur Horticultural Society / £5,000
Revival of Charlton House Long Borders Garden. Recreation of the Long Borders area for wider community use to include plant and creative fairs, farmer’s markets, outdoor theatre and seasonal events.
Area 3: Luke’s Parochial Church Council / £11,051
Enhancement of the churchyard, highlighting historical features, install attractive and imaginative planting, providing benches to facilitate reflection, enhance safety by levelling the path. Eliminating trip hazards.
Area 3: St Thomas, Old Charlton PCC / £10,000
Renovation of the St Thomas’ Upper Hall for the wider community’s use as a hub. To include re-plastering, painting, recovering of the floor, creating a more welcoming and comforting space.
Area 3: Clockhouse Community Centre with New Charlton Community Centre (NCCA) / £47,227
To make significant building improvements the New Charlton Community Centre (NCCA) to the house and hall (including the installation of a disabled bathroom, redecoration of the hall and to clear and install an all-weather surface externally to improve the external areas to ensure the NCCA is further fit for purpose to serve the local community. To additionally replace some dilapidated kitchen equipment in the Clockhouse Community Centre to significantly improve the services offered by the Community Cafe.
Projects close by… (Area 2 covers the Greenwich Peninsula so has £140,000 on offer)
Area 2: Montessori Education for Autism, Westcombe Hill / £5,617
Erect a 6′ x 6′ wooden greenhouse and a 6’ x 6’ wooden potting shed to provide enhanced learning opportunities for children with autism and other disabilities.
Area 2: Invicta Primary School / £65,000
The creation of a bespoke play space and cedar clad meeting room (capacity: 15 adults) to provide an outdoor library for children, music lessons, staff meetings, and a conference space for community hire.
Area 2: Aldeburgh and Fearon Streets Neighbourhood Watch / £7,500
To improve the area under the Angerstein flyover by commissioning a mural that would represent some aspects of the history of the area, as well as its reality today.
Up to 1,400 homes could be built in a proposal that would link Greenwich Millennium Village and existing communities in east Greenwich after nearly a quarter of a century. Details are sketchy, but London Square promises to “transform the existing site and create a new neighbourhood that will deliver new homes, cafés, shops and new pedestrian-friendly spaces, including a new public square at the heart of the site”.
Most buildings would be around seven or eight storeys, but some could be up to 20 storeys tall. Car parking for Ikea and the Odeon would be below the development, potentially on the ground floor. The development site does not include the Sainsbury’s petrol station left over from when the supermarket moved to Gallions Road in 2015.
“We are working to agree a temporary parking solution with Ikea for the construction period,” the developer says. Work on the scheme could begin in spring 2023.
Nearly a quarter of the homes – 24.5 per cent – would be for London Affordable Rent, about half market rent, with 10.5 per cent being for shared ownership. Like most major new developments in the area, it would be car-free, with residents banned from obtaining parking permits.
The developer plans a “green shield” to protect the development from the adjacent A102, which is likely to be also carrying Silvertown Tunnel traffic when the development is finished. It says it will “comprise a mix of trees, planting, a living wall and building massing adjoining the Blackwall Tunnel approach, that will protect the site to the north from the pollution and noise created by this busy route”.
“The development will serve as an ecological bridge between the suburban gardens of Westcombe Park and the green spaces within the Greenwich Millennium Village Ecological Park,” the developer adds in the consultation.
A similar principle is used nearby where blocks in Greenwich Millennium Village are designed to shield residents from the aggregate works at Angerstein Wharf.
The site has been a retail park since 1999, when Sainsbury’s opened its ill-fated “eco-store” on the site, with the cinema and other retail following after that. Ikea replaced Sainsbury’s two years ago. Before the site became a retail park, it served as a sports club for the nearby gasworks, before the Metrogas club moved to Avery Hill in 1989.
Two months ago, Greenwich councillors approved detailed plans for the final phase of Greenwich Millennium Village, backing plans for 489 homes on a site across Bugsby’s Way from B&Q and Ikea.
The scheme could potentially form a template for redeveloping the Charlton retail parks to the east of the site. None are currently in line for development, although a recent council planning document suggested the Makro site off Anchor and Hope Lane “should accommodate a mix of small and medium sized commercial, retail, leisure and community uses and flexible SME space”.