Monday, 24 August 2015

Two Women on a Footpath - (seventeen years ago!) with annotations

In the late 1990s as changes accelerated on the Greenwich Peninsula two women went for a walk down the Greenwich riverside path - to see what they would like to happen in the future.  Here is there report - which was published by a Docklands based community- regeneration-watching-organisation.
So, read on:


The old footpath which winds its way along the Greenwich riverside to the end of the peninsula - and the Dome - has recently been the subject of some attention.  Before the Dome was thought of it had been designated as part of a nation-wide network of signposted cycle through-routes - and was to be upgraded to meet the requirements of fast cyclists.
Since then it has been suggested that it ought to be a pleasant walk for people who want to travel by foot from 'historic' Greenwich to the Dome.
It is a raggedy old path which has, no doubt, seen a lot in its time - and so Greenwich Council commissioned the consulting engineers, Ove Arup, to look at it with a view to turning it into a cycle and pedestrian  path to the Dome.

Ove Arup reported to the Council late in 1997 - they said the project could not possibly be completed in time given the requirements. There were a number of legal problems concerning access and land ownership and there were engineering difficulties of providing the fast cycle track - which might also meet with considerable opposition on what were often very reasonable grounds.
So - in August 1998 two of us set off along the path to see what we could find - they noted down what they saw and tried to think of ways in which things could be improved very cheaply. We talked to people we met - many of thetourists walking the path on a rainy summer's day - and asked what they would like to see there. One aspect was more information about the industrial heritage.

The following are some of the suggestions we made for signing - and the information needed. Comments from 2015 in italics

*** Information needed at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel - how about information about the London County Council together with some of the tunnel's history.
(In 2015 Hearsay evidence leads us to believe that some visitors look at the dome of the foot tunnel and think it is the Royal Observatory)
*** The Bellot Monument - Who was Bellot?? Why is this monument here?? Can we be told something  - anything!!
*** Queen's Stairs. What are 'river stairs'. Why are they there? What are the rights on them - and who owns them?   Shouldn't they be gated and locked?? or, alternatively - Why are they gated and locked?? What is going on.

*** Trinity Hospital - what is it? Why is there? (and we should ask people to respect the privacy of the inmates)

***  London Underground Power Station - We need some information about its past and what it is used for today.
(not to mention those scruffy little additions on the walls - and why in the past 15 years hasn't anyone got round to removing those horrible oil tanks and intrusive, and unused, coal bunker - and why didn't we mention the big jetty and how useful it would be as a venue for something or other - anything, really)

*** The Meridian line
(I know we now all think its in the wrong place but there is a metal strip in the pavement here - no explaination whatsoever)

*** Harbour Master's Office - what is it? Who used it?

*** Morden College Plaques - explaining they are NOT fire insurance plaques.
One of the cranes removed by Morden College
(and pointing out that 1680 is NOT the date of the buildings but the date when Morden College was founded)

*** A plaques noting the riverviews and buildings of interest from Cutty Sark pub - and a number of other places along the way
(clearly this area has changed dramatically since this was written and there is now a bit - well a little bit - of interpretation on the riverside where it has been opened up. And the Ballast Quay activists have been doing a good job with the little garden area on opening days.)

*** Cranes on Lovell's Wharf- how to make a feature of them, and explain why they are there.
(the two Butters Scotch Derricks were removed by Morden College a year or so after this was written whole the Council was still trying to persuade developers to make them a feature in future housing areas.)

*** Renewing the painted signs on Lovell's Wharf
(Oh dear - well that's long gone without a trace!)

*** A note about the vista down Pelton Road, the Pelton Arms and some explanation about the name.

***The Cadet Place wall - the Great Globe - and some notes about Portland Stone.
(---  aargh -  after much argy bargy the developer did agree to re-erect the 'Cyclopean wall - but missed the whole point of it by re-erecting it nice and neatly - and causing considerable offence in doing so.   Go to Watchet Station if you want to see what it should look like).
*** Some notes about the industry using Granite Wharf and Pipers Wharf - and a request to respect their privacy.
(when this was written boats were still regularly using Granite Wharf and transhipping aggregate.  However the request about privacy was to stop visitors being sworn at on sites here)
In this area a couple of years after this was written the early medieval tide mill was found on Granite Wharf.  Requests for signage about this to the developer fell on deaf ears - couldn't afford it, they said)

*** Notes and a display about sailing barges at Piper's Wharf with some information about barges built on site.

*** Public access to Enderby House plus a display inside
(Well!!! - we are all doing our best)

*** A search for the mast of the Great Eastern and other relics which were once displayed here.

*** Some interpretation of the cable motifs on the riverside office block
Cables being loaded at Enderbys
(thanks for drawing to Peter Kent)
(this block was demolished by the developer last year)

*** Interpretation of the preserved machinery on Enderby Wharf - and a display of telecommunications heritage would be wonderful

*** A return of the John H.Mackay - or a different cable laying ship
(we are getting cruise liners there instead)

*** A plaque noting the line of the ropewalk
(the line of the ropewalk has been obliterated by the developer)

*** A plaque about the seventeenth century gun powder depot

*** A plaque on the Amylum silos
(the silos were demolished three years go by French site owners who then cleared off)
Sea Witch 1930s  - riverside pub destroyed in bombing -
*** A plaque at the site of the Sea Witch Pub

***  Some information at Bay Wharf about Maudslay and other shipbuilders once on site

*** A plaque about inland vistas - particularly the gasholder
(which is just about still there)

***A plaque at Victoria Deep Water Wharf (if they managed to open the path up, through there) about Henry Bessemer - whose Greenwich works was there. Perhaps also some information about Appleby engines and where one can be found preserved
(the path was opened up following High Court action by the Council against the site owner)

*** Delta Wharf- some information about Delta Metal.

**** Point Wharf. See if it is possible to moor Orinoco here - she was built on this site and is currently berthed at Hoo.
(Oh dear - Orinoco - the last Greenwich built barge in sail - wasn't built here, she was built - I think - on part of Lovell's Wharf.  However it is possible that Jackobaits built some vessels here which are still on the river - information please??)

Grain deliveries at the silos 1960s
*** Something about boat building at Point Wharf using the skills of those who recently worked there

*** A plaque on the vent of the 'old' Blackwall Tunnel with some notes about the LCC.   

(if you can get to it - despite it being on a right of way)

*** A note about the Blakeley gun foundry at Ordnance Wharf and its interest for Americans - and a pointer to the Virginia Settlers site across the river.


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