Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Deptford Green School open days

With the new Deptford Green School now up and running, head teacher Peter Campling is inviting 'the whole community' to visit and take a tour around the school.

Leaflets have been distributed around the area inviting people to turn up any weekday from now until Wed 10th October, from 9.15am to 10.30am for a tour of the school and a presentation by the head.

If weekdays are not convenient, they are also opening the school on Saturday 6th October from 10.30-11.45am and on Tuesday 9th October from 6-7.15pm.

There's a warm-and-fuzzy-feeling video on their website if you want to find out more about the teaching and the school itself, and it certainly looks like the new building has some great facilities. I was particularly taken by the rooftop, open-air classrooms!

Things have clearly changed somewhat since I was at school, since teachers now have job titles like Leader of Learning and Leader of Teaching. However I notice that there's still a trend for kids to try and mark out their individual style by the way they knot their ties. Some things are enduring.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Paynes & Borthwick wharf

I've been meaning to write about Paynes & Borthwick Wharf for some months now, ever since I was down in Twinkle Park at about 7am on a Saturday morning and was remarking on the almighty racket coming off the site as the builders hammered on, impervious to local residents.

As a few people have commented, the new buildings on the east of the site, which is right next to Twinkle Park at the bottom of Watergate Street, have grown quickly in recent months. The main tower can be easily picked out from the various high points I've visited in the last few days, including the top of the Seager Distillery Tower, Point Hill, and One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park. That being said, it is still massively overshadowed by the ugliness of Creekside Village and the bulk of New Capital Quay, and if the Convoys Wharf towers get built as proposed, it will be stumpy by comparison.

View from Twinkle Park

As far as their marketing material goes, United House and LaSalle Investment Management clearly believe that Deptford is still a hard sell, even for riverside developments next to 17th century listed buildings, so they have relocated it to West Greenwich, SE8.  

A press release says the development "will provide 257 high specification one, two and three bedroom apartments and 10 live/work units in a landscaped setting with views towards Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the City. The mixed-use regeneration scheme will also feature 38,000 sq ft of art gallery, restaurant, commercial and retail space and a total of 150 underground parking spaces. 

"Paynes & Borthwick will comprise 203 residential units for private sale and 44 affordable homes which will be managed by Hexagon Housing Association. The development will include a new residential tower rising to 16 storeys and the sympathetic conversion and sensitive restoration of the existing warehouse buildings which will retain their original facades. 

"The master plan for the project has been agreed by the Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich to advance the regeneration of this area of London, which has been designated a Creative Enterprise Zone by the Government."

Naturally in their site rendering the developers have taken the liberty of including Twinkle Park, just to make it look greener and more attractive than it would do if it was just a load of buildings with green roofs. It's not an outright invention of course, but it does seem galling that they are using a lovely little green space which has been created by and is maintained by the community in order to sell private flats. Not least because the park is already becoming badly overshadowed by the high buildings. 

As developments go, it's not a bad effort. The owners were obliged to retain the facade of the old wharf building, on both sides of the structure, and although they've stuck the usual double-height glass box on the top, set back from the facade so that the planners will let it ride, it's not offensive by any stretch of the imagination.

The new-build blocks are relatively dense, but by dint of the site plan, the architects were prevented from creating anything as monstrous as the blocks on New Capital Quay, and they have actually included two relatively low-rise blocks between the new build and the renovated facades which should make the public plazas a little more attractive.

Two low rise blocks - view from the river

Twinkle Park on the right hand side, looking along the retained facade
With 150 parking spaces for just 250-odd apartments, the tiny roads that lead down to the site are likely to suffer both in terms of increased traffic movements and overspill parking. And although the developers are promising an art gallery, restaurant and commercial and retail space, whether this will be filled or will just stand empty for years is anyone's guess.

You only have to look at the sad, boarded-up ground floor of Wood Wharf, and the shenanigans over the Seager Distillery Tower art gallery to know that it's not going to be a straightforward transformation into the 'Creative Enterprise Zone' that is being touted.

View towards the river

View from the road, looking west

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Seager Distillery development

This weekend as part of the Open House event, Seager Distillery Tower's 'viewing area' was open to the public, rare access to great views which many local bloggers and residents seem to have taken advantage of. Apparently residents of the tower have access to this area, which must be fun when there are fireworks or storms to watch - bet it was full for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies! - but yesterday was rather warm in the full sunshine.

Although it has great views, they are only on three sides of the building, and in reality it's little more than a small glass box. There's a balcony outside with railings and everything, but no access to it. That being said, it's the best place from which to see the tower, as you can ignore its priapic proportions and grim grey exterior.

Looking south, the magnificent Dawson Heights estate in East Dulwich loomed on the skyline like some kind of ghostly castle. I made a mental note to take a trip down there one day and have a closer look, it's quite tucked away and the topography of the area make it practically invisible from the main roads of the area. You really have to seek it out.

The view south

The open access also provided a welcome opportunity to chat with a couple of members of Galliard staff, who gave quite an insight into progress on the development.

Perhaps you remember a year or so ago when the developers applied for permission to relegate the proposed art gallery to a poky site on Brookmill Road because they had a hotel operator lined up to open a four star 'boutique' hotel in the old building facing the main road?

I've noticed that very little seems to have happened to the building since then, and apparently there are two reasons for that. Not only did it take a long time for the council to grant permission for the changes to the building (Quote: 'they are not the easiest of councils to deal with' - hurrah! I would have been worried to hear that they are a walkover) but also our chap confided that the hotel operator has now pulled out and as of this moment in time they have no other operator in place.

Given that they missed the obvious Olympic deadline, this news hardly surprises me. And considering there are several other hotels nearby, not to mention more in the pipeline, I would be somewhat gobsmacked if they managed to attract another operator willing to back a four-star boutique hotel on the A2 in Deptford.

I look forward to hearing what plans Galliard has for its showcase building now.

Ghost bike on Deptford Church Street

This week Barry Normah is due to appear in court in Bromley charged with killing Olatunji Johnson Adeyanju in a hit and run in Deptford earlier this year.

Recently a white 'ghost bike' has been placed next to the pedestrian crossing where TJ was knocked off his bicycle while crossing the road.

These 'memorials' are often placed next to locations where cyclists have been killed, and are intended to highlight the dangers of these particular junctions, remind drivers and cyclists to take care, and to serve as memorials for those who lost their lives.

Personally I have mixed feelings about this type of memorial, the same way I feel about roadside shrines. While some friends and family of the victims might find such a shrine helpful, providing a way for them to focus on and deal with their loss, I can't help thinking that I'd rather concentrate on my happy memories of that person. On the other hand I think it's good to remind road users of the potential consequences of their actions.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Upcoming events in Deptford

Apologies for absence over the last few weeks - sometimes real life just gets in the way and it's necessary to take a step back and let the blog drift for a while. With holidays coming up next week I'll be doing the same for another week or so, but don't worry I'll be back mid September, refreshed and ready to launch back into it.

In the meantime there's plenty going on in Deptford and surrounds, as well as London itself, to keep you busy over the next few weekends.

Albany Outdoors

This weekend (8-9 September) the Albany invites you to help celebrate its 30th birthday at its FREE outdoor weekend, with theatre, live music and family fun taking place in the squares and streets between the Albany and Deptford Lounge.

These include:

The Albany Bandstand Marathon
Red Herring's That's The Way To Do It!
Fanshen's Green and Pleasant Land
C-12 Dance Theatre's The Van Man
Uncover and Emergency Exit Arts' Tag It
MADCAP's Urban Village Fete

Find out more in the online brochure.

London Open House weekend

22-23 September
The annual favourite weekend of architecture and design buffs, budding historians, and nosy sods like me; find out what goes on behind the normally-closed doors of your home city.

Alongside plenty of exciting, grand buildings that will be open to the public in town, Deptford is pretty well represented. You can go up the Seager Distillery tower (the views from the top may be the only thing that commends it!), have a tour of Tidemill School and the Deptford Lounge, or pay a visit to the SE London Combined Heat & Power facility on Landmann Way off Surrey Canal Road. There's plenty more going on so take a look at the online listings to plan your day.

The Vanishing Point

On Saturday 15 September, the Vanishing Point presents an immersive screening of Silent Running using the rooftop and gallery spaces of Utrophia gallery (120 Deptford High Street, London, SE8 4NS) at 7.30pm.

The organisers say: "Silent Running is the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull (noted for his stunning visual effects work on Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and is described by critic Mark Kermode as “One of my all time favourite movies and one of the greatest sci-fi films ever”. The event will feature interaction with crew members from The Valley Forge, garden areas, secret special musical guests, a blast off bar, food stalls and immersive installations inspired by the film. 

"Come along dressed in tie-dye or robot inspired costumes and get in at a reduced rate of £10 on the door! Advance tickets are available now through our website- Guests will be sitting on a rooftop during the screening and are invited to bring blankets and cushions for additional comfort."

Octopump 2 Festival at the Royal Albert

21-23 September
Something for the grown-ups with the second 'Octopump' festival taking place at one of my favourite local pubs. Already the list of beers on offer is making my mouth water, with Darkstar, Redemption, Vale, Thornbridge and Harviestoun all mentioned, as well as Kent, London Fields and By the Horns. Having spent most of a recent festival weekend supping Vale Pale Ale, I would be dead chuffed if I was able to get a pint or two in my local!

Rob from the Royal Albert says: "As last year the focus will be on the quality and selection of beer and cider as well as the following:

-Live music
-Yard of ale shenanigans
-Drinks offers (buy seven pints get the eighth free!) (not all in one night I hope! - ed)
-Camra discounts
-Take away beer cartons
-The return of Holly the Hoptapus!

Also this year we will have an even bigger selection of beers and ciders as we will not only have our eight pumps (which seem a little old hat now) but we are clearing out space next door to rack ales and have a cider stall. There may even be a gazebo and a deck chair or two out front if you’re lucky."

The Great Greenwich Treasure Hunt

Finally, a little further afield - on Sunday 16th September Greenwich Oxfam Fundraising Group in conjunction with Visit Greenwich invites you to join The Great Greenwich Treasure Hunt.

The event is being sponsored by a number of local businesses with Goddard's Pies as the main sponsor; some 150 participants are expected to take part and the intention is to raise £1300 for Oxfam.

The treasure hunt will consist of a number of questions which teams must answer in the required time by visiting sites and businesses around Greenwich town centre. There will be some great prizes which have been donated by local businesses. These include a two course lunch with drinks for six at Goddard's restaurant and six tickets for any show at Greenwich Theatre. The recommended team size is four to six people and the event is suitable for all ages.

Tickets are on sale now at and also in person from both the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre on the Old Royal Naval College site and the Greenwich Oxfam bookshop. They are priced at £8, £6 for students and £5 for under 16s. There are also family tickets available for £20 for up two adults and two under 16s. The organisers recommend you get your tickets in advance as the event is likely to sell out.

To get updates on the event 'like' the Facebook page or email to be added to the event mailing list.