Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back for 2019 – here’s how to get involved

Alfred Hitchcock
Organisers are hoping this year’s festival goes without a Hitch (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is returning for eight days this September – and it’s looking for movie fans to get involved with the running of the event.

The Charlton Champion can exclusively reveal the dates for this year’s festival – Friday 6 to Saturday 14 September. If you’re new to the idea, the format is simple – free films screened at locations anywhere in the SE7 or SE18 postcodes.

If you’re looking to put a film on – maybe you have an idea, or you have a venue – then your ideas are welcome, but the team is also looking for people who are also happy to learn projectionists’ skills, rattle buckets, fundraise, or deliver leaflets to help the cause.

One of the most successful events of last year’s festival was a screening of Young Frankenstein at Severndroog Castle – organisers are considering putting on a Hitchcock film there this year. Past events have seen Withnail and I and This Is Spinal Tap put on by Deserter.co.uk at The White Swan, and Battle of Britain at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. There are plenty of other ideas – and you may have your own.

To get involved, sign up to the event’s mailing list or attend its open meeting at Charlton House on Wednesday 27 February at 7.30pm (with drinks at the White Swan after), where organisers hope to start nailing down some of the ideas and preparing a timetable.


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Faraday Works: 13-storey blocks planned for Thames Barrier live/work development

18-32 Bowater Road
The former wire workshop would become a new hub for offices and industry (pic: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I is planning blocks of up to 13 storeys and 500 new homes on the old Siemens cable factory site next to the Thames Barrier.

The Faraday Works project, on the Charlton-Woolwich border, promises 8,000 square metres of employment space, with 40% at discounted rents to keep businesses in the area.

U+I render
U+I’s vision for Bowater Road, with the wire workshop on the right

The scheme, the latest to come forward for the Charlton riverside, includes transforming a crumbling former wire workshop on Bowater Road – the street recently opened up as part of the Thames Path “missing link” – into an “exciting new co-working space promoting and helping young and emerging businesses in the area”.

But U+I has confirmed plans to demolish another heritage block, the 1911 Faraday building, which it plans to replace with a similarly-designed block – although 13 storeys high – containing new housing, with a courtyard garden in front of it. It says the building is in poor condition with damage to windows and concrete.

37 Bowater Road
U+I wants to demolish the Faraday Building and replace it with homes (photo: Neil Clasper)

The developer says it wants 35% of the homes to be “affordable”, with a priority for housing at social rent (usually half of market rents).

It says the Wire Workshop element of the scheme will create 460 jobs, and will be similar to The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, west London, which was built out of the former EMI record-pressing plant.

U+I development
U+I plans to build up to 13 storeys on the site

The scheme also plans to keep light industry on site, with the Telegraph Works building extended to accommodate industry downstairs and homes above.

U+I revealed the scheme at a public consultation last week, and the exhibition boards can now been seen on its website, faradayworks.com, where it is also asking for public comments on its ideas.


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Faraday Works: Find out more about new Charlton Riverside scheme on Valentine’s Day

37 Bowater Road
U+I submitted plans indicating it wanted to demolish 37 Bowater Road (photo: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I will reveal its plans for the old Siemens factory site near the Thames Barrier next week, with three drop-in sessions – two being held on Valentine’s Day.

Last year the company revealed that it wanted to demolish one of the remaining Siemens buildings – 37 Bowater Road – as part of a plan to build 520 homes at the Westminster Industrial Estate, on the Charlton/Woolwich border.

Until 1968, this was home to the giant Siemens cable works. While some of the buildings have since been demolished – notably the headquarters building (see below) – many remain in place.

Several of them have recently been given local listing status by Greenwich Council, which has created a conservation area. Recent plans submitted to Greenwich indicated that U+I wanted to demolish 37 Bowater Road but keep the rest.

Just as with nearby Flint Glass Wharf – where another 500 homes are planned – this is an area where the Charlton Riverside masterplan permits buildings of up to 10 storeys.

18-32 Bowater Road
The site is just to the east of the Thames Barrier (pic: Neil Clasper)

U+I says:

We know we’re not going to have got the proposals right yet. We want to hear your thoughts, ideas and criticisms so that we can shape Faraday Works into an amazing new place for Charlton. We will be holding a public exhibition where you can meet the project team and let us know your thoughts at this early stage.

Thursday 14th February, 8am to 10am
Drop in session at Chef House Café
19 Bowater Road, Woolwich, London, SE18 5FL
WITH FREE BREAKFAST FOR THOSE WHO LEAVE FEEDBACK

Thursday 14th February, 4pm to 8pm
Education Space at Thames Side Studios
Unit 2, 5 Harrington Way, Woolwich, London, SE18 5NR

Saturday 16th February, 12pm to 4pm
Education Space at Thames Side Studios
Unit 2, 5 Harrington Way, Woolwich, London, SE18 5NR
WITH FREE BIKE SERVICE AND REPAIR

Details will also be on a website, faradayworks.com.

Mayor Sadiq Khan’s rejection of the nearby Rockwell scheme for Anchor & Hope Lane means that U+I’s plans will come under scrutiny – and may leapfrog Rockwell to become the first development on Charlton Riverside to actually begin to materialise.


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Meet Charlton-based graphic novel author at Thames-Side Studios

Andrew Donkin, Eoin Colfer and Giovanni Rigano
Prize guys: Andrew Donkin, Eoin Colfer and Giovanni Rigano. Andrew and Giovanni will be speaking next week

Last year, The Charlton Champion caught up with writer Andrew Donkin to talk about the success of his award-winning graphic novel, Illegal, about a boy’s epic journey to Europe.

Now he is holding a talk at Thames-Side Studios in Warspite Road on Thursday 17 January with illustrator Giovanni Rigano (above) to talk about the process involved in putting Illegal together, from their initial thoughts and ideas, location sketches and characterisation, through to storyboarding, final artwork and publication.

Giovanni will be flying in from Italy and drawing live during the talk. Individually customised copies by Giovanni will also be available on the evening.

Illegal, written by Andrew and Eoin Colfer and with artwork by Giovanni, won the Judges’ Special Award at the Children’s Books Ireland Awards in May, and the UK paperback edition was released in August. It is also curently nominated for the Carnigie Medal and Kate Greenaway Medal.

The talk, at 6pm, is free, but spaces are limited – contact Thames-Side Studios to book a place.

Illegal is available from Hive Books (pick up at Ottie and the Bea on Old Dover Road) and through Amazon.co.uk.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

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Morris Walk Estate: ‘Misleading rumours’ criticised as estate redevelopment delayed

Morris Walk Estate
Much of the Morris Walk Estate is now in a poor condition

Greenwich Council has hit out at “misleading rumours” that a major scheme to redevelop Morris Walk Estate has been delayed for nine years.

The programme, which will see the estate on the border of Woolwich and Charlton knocked down and replaced with new housing, was due to begin this year. Demolition was due to start this autumn. But little has happened so far, and the council and developer Lovell are currently discussing timescales for the scheme, which was first announced five years ago.

Tenants and leaseholders in both the Morris Walk and the adjacent Maryon Road estate have already moved out, and people on the council’s homeless list have moved in on a short-term basis. But many have spent all year waiting for the council to finally move them out so developer Lovell can begin work.

They were due to be moved out by late summer, but have been left in limbo by the unexplained delay to the scheme.

Chris Kirby, the council’s cabinet member for housing, spoke out after it emerged a residents’ group had been told the scheme had been delayed until 2027.

Morris Walk Estate
Morris Walk Estate was built in the mid-1960s in a similar fashion to the ill-fated Ronan Point block in Canning Town

“I am saddened and disappointed that misleading information appears to have been given to local residents,” Cllr Kirby told The Charlton Champion.

“On behalf of the council I would like to apologise to residents who deserve better than to be subjected to gossip and rumour about what is going to happen to their home and their community.

“I also want to reassure residents that the council are in active discussions aimed at ensuring this project remains on course and delivers the homes that local people need.

“As soon as the new timescales for the project are finalised we will be contacting our residents to update them fully.”

Morris Walk, along with neighbouring Maryon Road estate and Woolwich’s Connaught Estate, are being redeveloped by developer Lovell as part of the £269 million Greenwich Council-backed One Woolwich scheme, agreed under former leader Chris Roberts. The Connaught has already been demolished and the Trinity Walk development has risen in its place.

Built for the London County Council by Taylor Woodrow Anglian from prefabricated parts in the mid-1960s, the construction can be seen in some shots in the cult film Blow-Up, which featured scenes shot in and near Maryon Park.

It was built in a similar fashion to the ill-fated Ronan Point tower across the Thames in Canning Town, which partially collapsed in 1968 after a gas explosion, killing four people. Morris Walk’s gas supply was removed soon after. 50 years on, many of the buildings are now in a poor state of repair as they await demolition.

Across the three estates, 1,064 homes originally built for council rent will be replaced by 1,500 homes with 35% as “affordable”, a catch-all for a range of tenures from shared ownership, through proportions of market rent to social rent. Of the total number of homes, Greenwich Council says 25% will be for social rent, and that the scheme is at no cost to taxpayers.

The scheme follows the demolition of the Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke, which had 1,910 council homes when completed in 1972, and its replacement with Berkeley Homes’ Kidbrooke Village development, which will have 738 homes at social rents when finished, along with a further 787 “affordable” homes.

Maryon Park friends group minutes
Members of the Maryon Park friends’ group heard about the delay last month

Neighbours of the estates have been hoping to secure improvements to the area as part of the development. While the missed timetable has made it clear to all that there is a delay, the 2027 date emerged in, of all places, the publicly-available minutes of the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks’ AGM last month. Maryon Park is adjacent to the Morris Walk Estate.

The minutes note that residents were “shocked to be told by councillors that work on the Morris Walk estate will not now go ahead until 2027. This will presumably have an effect on any plans for the Maryon Park playground, where we will continue to press for improvements and updating”.

Morris Walk Estate
Homeless families are living temporarily on the estate

Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy, whose ward covers the two estates, called upon Lovell to give the land up.

He said: “It is a matter of regret that Lovell seem to have taken a decision not to develop the estates until 2027. Officers continue to engage with them to clarify their intentions.

“300 residents are living in the most appalling conditions and remain an urgent priority. Clearly Lovell have failed to honour their commitment and should relinquish any rights they have in respect of the land in question.

“The council should urgently consider developing the site as part of its commitment to maximise council housing in the borough. Housing demand is a priority and any land available must be used now rather than allowing a developer to land bank for commercial gain.”


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Have your say: TfL confirms 53 bus cutback – and it’ll be less frequent, too

Route 53 bus in Whitehall
Route 53 at Whitehall: It won’t go here again if TfL has its way

Transport for London has confirmed its plans to cut the 53 bus back to County Hall – and will make it less frequent too under new plans out for consultation today.

Plans to withdraw the 53, a lifeline for thousands of local workers, between County Hall and Whitehall were leaked last month. Now TfL is asking passengers what they think of the plans.

One aspect not previously highlighted in the leaked plans is that TfL plans to cut the 53 back to every eight minutes. TfL says it currently runs every seven-and-a-half minutes, but the full timetable shows it runs as frequently as every five minutes around 6am, when the service is heavily used.

The cut to the 53 – which runs from Plumstead via Woolwich, Charlton, Blackheath, Deptford, New Cross and the Old Kent Road to Whitehall – is part of 33 changes to routes in central London.

TfL, which is chaired by mayor Sadiq Khan, says: “The last time there was such a comprehensive review of the central London bus network was before the Congestion Charge was introduced. As a result there are some extremely complicated and inefficient sections of the road network. Some roads in central London, such as Kingsway in Holborn, are now served by more than 100 buses an hour, many of which are significantly underused. This oversupply of buses can cause congestion, slowing down journey times and worsening reliability, air quality and road safety.

“If no action is taken, GLA figures show that by 2041, three days would be lost per person every year due to congestion on London’s roads, and 50,000 hours would be lost to slower bus speeds in the morning peak every day.

“Passengers can now use the Mayor’s Hopper Fare to change buses unlimited times within an hour for just £1.50.”

A 7am journey on the 53 from Charlton Park School is timetabled to take one hour to reach Elephant & Castle, at 8am the journey takes 66 minutes.

The consultation can be filled in at: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/16b1c48f/

‘Our plans will help reduce pollution’

Geoff Hobbs, Director of Public Transport Service Planning at TfL, said: “Buses have a crucial role to play in boosting the number of people using public transport, but they can’t do this without reflecting how London has changed. It is only right that we reassess the network after the significant changes in both London’s infrastructure and how Londoners choose to travel. Londoners expect their buses to be where they are needed and run in an efficient and cost-effective manner and that’s what this review is about.

“Our proposals to reorganise the bus network would modernise bus travel in London by matching capacity with demand, reducing bus-on-bus congestion while enabling year-on-year increases in bus services in outer London. In adapting underused and inefficient services in central London, our plans will help reduce pollution that has such a damaging effect on the health on Londoners.

“Ultimately these changes, which are predominately minor route restructures or timetable adjustments, would create an efficient modern network with buses in the right places at the right times.”

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has already labelled the cut as an attack on “working class constituents”.

He said: “As things stand in rush hour most 53 buses are frequently overcrowded by the time they get up the hill to Charlton.

“We need more frequent services on this route, not cuts to services.

“But my main concern is the impact on the large numbers of my constituents who get up at the crack of dawn to make the long journey into central London on the 53 to work low-paid jobs (if you think I’m exaggerating just catch one before 6.30am one morning and see for yourself).

“For them, the long journey on the 53 all the way to Whitehall is the only means of transport that is affordable into central London and it is therefore indispensable.

“As such, difficult to escape the conclusion that cuts to this service will punish my working-class constituents and at the very moment that a new Crossrail station is opened in Woolwich that will inevitably pile pressure onto our already over-stretched local transport network.

“So let me be as clear as I can possibly be: I will do absolutely everything in my power to fight cuts to the 53 bus service.”

The consultation into the 53 bus cut ends on 9 November.

The Charlton Champion needs your support to provide news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
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Charlton Riverside: Developer U+I plans to demolish former Siemens factory building

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is set for demolition under the developer’s plans (photo: Neil Clasper)

Developer U+I has revealed it wants to demolish one of the remaining Siemens cable factory buildings on the Charlton riverside as part of a plan to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes.

The property giant, which recently completed the Deptford Market Yard development, has asked Greenwich Council if it needs to carry out an environmental assessment into the plans to develop land, which covers two streets in the Westminster Industrial Estate on the Charlton/Woolwich border: Bowater Road and Faraday Way.

Until 1968, this was home to the giant Siemens cable works, and many of the buildings remain in place. Several of them have recently been given local listing status by Greenwich Council, which has created a conservation area. U+I wants to demolish one of them, 37 Bowater Road, and keep the others.

Charlton Riverside Masterplan
The masterplan backs riverside towers near the Thames Barrier

Just as with the recent Flint Glass Wharf proposal, this is in an area where 10-storey blocks have been permitted (see map above).

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is the building on the right of the new “missing link” cycle route

‘One of London’s largest factories’

A heritage assessment of the area commissioned by Greenwich Council says: “The south side of Bowater Road represents a step change in the scale of the works development from about 1911.

“The first building to be constructed is a much larger L-shaped building of 5 storeys plus basement was built for making rubber coated copper wire cable. It adopts new structural technologies, made possible by new regulations granted in the London Building Act of 1909, and employs a reinforced concrete frame beneath a Fletton brick shell.

“The adoption of new technologies made it possible to include much larger steel framed windows externally and wider spans between support columns internally, creating a lighter and clearer working environment overall.

37 Bowater Road. Photo: Neil Clasper

“The building was designed by Herbert and Helland, Siemens’ in-house architects. This was one of London’s largest factories when built and an early adopter of the new construction methods.

“The building has a matching extension of 1942, built at the height of the wartime production effort, after extensive bomb damage on the adjacent site must have placed extreme pressure on the works’ resources.” (You can read the rest in Chapters 3 and 4 here.)

The striking white building which runs along the north of the site, 18 Bowater Road, is proposed to be kept, although it is currently in poor condition. (See page 14 here for a map of the site.)

This is still a relatively early stage of the planning process, so no designs or details on “affordable” homes have yet been submitted.

37 Bowater Road
37 Bowater Road is on the left of this photo

For more details, and to comment on the proposal, search for 18/3148/EIA at planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

See also From The Murky Depths‘ take on the scheme.

The Charlton Champion needs your support to provide news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
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