Monthly Archives: December 2011

Amnesty International UK head coming to Blackheath on Tuesday

Roger writes:

The Blackheath and Greenwich group of Amnesty International are welcoming the head of the UK section of Amnesty, Kate Allen, to their next meeting in the crypt of St Margaret’s, Lee Terrace. Tuesday 13th December 8.00pm. All welcome.
Incidentally we raised £3,400 at our recent booksale. Thanks to all Blackheathens who donated and bought books.

St Margaret’s is the church between Blackheath & Lewisham, on the left as you go down the hill.

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If the station car park closes, what happens to the farmers market?

UPDATE: Please see the bottom of this post for an update from Kevin.

From Blackheath Village Residents Group via an email from Kevin Bonavia:

Lease on Station Car Park Will Not Be Renewed

The Council’s lease on Blackheath Station car park has come to an end and Network Rail, the owners of the car park, do not intend to renew it. It is understood that Network Rail want to operate their own business from the site and although they are not saying what this is they have said that they intend to retain some sort of car parking facility. Network Rail also have a commitment to the arrangements that have been agreed for the Olympics.

More on their site. Being vigorously tweeted about by Kevin Bonavia and Heidi Alexander. No comment from Nick Raynsford, who is probably talking about housing somewhere. There are other issues Nick.

Hope they can get something sorted here. Otherwise Network Rail will may try to develop the car park, as they have done in other parts of the south east.

UPDATE: Better link to the mess of redevelopment at Epsom station that I was thinking of: Controversial Epsom Station regeneration given the green light from 2010

UPDATE: Here’s a reply from Kevin Bonavia:

Here’s an update following a number of enquiries to Network Rail about their intentions and to Council officers about Council policy towards use of the site.

Network Rail (via their property department) have informed our MP, Heidi Alexander:

“I would like to confirm that the Blackheath Station Car Park will remain in its current use once the lease with Lewisham Council comes to an end. It will however be necessary for there to be restrictions during the Olympic period due to Blackheath being a designated station for transport to the Olympic Park.”

So far so good. I understand that Network Rail will shortly be meeting Lewisham’s Director of Property to discuss more details, and I have asked for more information about potential changes to the operation of the car park, such as parking charges and any effect on the farmers’ market.

In the meantime, the Council’s approach to the use of the car park is very clear. In 2005, the Council undertook a survey of sites that could potentially be used for more housing as part of Lewisham’s obligations under the London Plan. In the case of the Blackheath Station car park, Network Rail submitted that the site would be suitable for high density housing with a decked car park. The Council, however, decided not to place the site on the list for potential new housing stating:

“Although this site is close to a rail station and therefore in a highly sustainable location it was considered that in this case the preservation or enhancement of the Conservation Area at Blackheath took precedence. It was considered that a development of this density and pattern would not conform to the historic pattern of development within the area and would form an intrusive element that could not preserve or enhance its character. The loss of the car park additionally would not preserve the village character of the Blackheath Conservation Area by removing the Farmer’s market site, and the possibility of parking in the centre of the village.”

Network Rail should be aware of this, but it’s worth reminding them in case there’s a change of heart…

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Ex Libraries

Look at these two charts, and tell me when you think our library was destroyed.

Number of books issued in Blackheath Village libraries from April - October 2011

Number of books issued in Blackheath Village libraries from April to October 2011

Visits to Blackheath Libraries between April - October 2011

Visits to Blackheath Libraries between April - October 2011

The Age Exchange Library is a joke.

In May 6,758 items were borrowed from the library in Blackheath Village. Then the library was closed, and replaced with a community library in Age Exchange. In October, after the Age Exchange library had been open for 3 months, only 832 items were borrowed.

“I didn’t come into civic life to close libraries”, I believe is the familiar refrain. So don’t. Re-open the real library. I don’t care how you do it, find a way. Otherwise you’ve just guaranteed the quickest, most efficient way to dumb down an entire generation. Shame on you vandals.

The data comes from questions by councillor David Britton (a Tory with a slightly scary looking union jack on the blog head), made available by Lewisham councillor Christine Best, the cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, at a council meeting on 29th November:

Here are the two google docs: Question Answer

Including an apology for the crappy numbers:

There have been some initial difficulties with data collection from the Community Libraries, and the Service overall has had a difficult year, completing a major staff reorganization and the introduction of new technologies. The implementation of such major change has had a negative impact on performance, but the Service is confident that both issues and visits will now begin to increase.

Yes, a bit. Maybe. Or perhaps it will just be wound down and closed.

See also: The Bookseller: Catastrophic plunge in lending at Lewisham’s community libraries

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Books about Blackheath

Here are a few suggestions for books that are either about or inspired by the local area. For each one that you buy, I get a few pennies from Amazon that might go towards a lump of coal for Mrs Bugle…

Seriously though, please go and check The Bookshop on the Heath for these books first – the links below should be a last resort! If there are others books that I don’t know about, drop me a note in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.

All the Neil Rhind books
The Heath by Neil Rhind
They’re the best source of historical information about Blackheath bar none. There are 2 large volumes – Blackheath Village and Environs Volume 1 covers the village and Blackheath Vale. Volume Two is almost impossible to find cheaply as it is out of print. I found it in Blackheath’s Cancer Research shop for a few pounds, but this was a miraculous discovery – it’s usually £50 or so.

There’s also a third volume, called The Heath, which unfortunately I don’t possess (yet).

Fiction

The Blackheath Seance Parlour by Alan Williams

A new addition in 2013 is The Blackheath Seance Parlour by Alan Williams. It’s a great spooky tale about two sisters in Victorian Blackheath, who decide to open a seance parlour. Highly recommended, read my full review here.

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

In terms of books inspired by Blackheath, the one that springs to mind was published a couple of years ago – A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff is pretty much exactly how it looks… Easy to read, fun, and primarily aimed at a female audience. Here’s my review of it from 2009.

Nathaniel Hawthorne - Our Old Home

Going back into time, and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a series of sketches about living as an American in England. Called Our Old Home, it contains reminiscences of his time living in Blackheath. His novel The Scarlet Letter (although not about Blackheath) was the inspiration for the (very funny) movie Easy A from last year.

Charles Dickens makes passing mention of Blackheath in Our Mutual Friend, and also in David Copperfield, as mentioned previously on the blog.

UPDATE:
The Most Intimate Place by Rosemary Furber - a thriller set in Blackheath
The Most Intimate Place by Rosemary Furber is a thriller set in Blackheath. Looks great, and gets excellent reviews. I might try it over Christmas! Thanks to @helstweets for suggesting it.

EVEN MORE!
Some excellent suggestions from The Greenwich Phantom:
Blackheath Poisonings on DVD
Blackheath Poisonings on DVD

Greenwich and Blackheath Past by Felix Barker
Greenwich and Blackheath Past by Felix Barker

The History of Lee by F H Hart
The History of Lee by F H Hart

The Dead of Summer by Camilla Way
The Dead of Summer by Camilla Way sounds like a chilling read, set in the tunnels beneath Greenwich Park – see the Phantom’s review from 2007.

And Jennifer’s suggestion from the comments below:
A couple of duffers go to war by Geoffrey Lee Williams
A couple of duffers go to war by Geoffrey Lee Williams

Another one from a commenter:
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Stuart Weatherby
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Stuart Weatherby – set mostly in Blackheath, it’s a nice (fictional) read by a local author.

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Christmas lights mostly switched on

Blurry photo of Blackheath Christmas Lights 2011
Mrs Bugle reports that some of the lights in the middle didn’t manage to switch on! A smaller crowd than previously.

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Blackheath Christmas Lights switch on 4.30pm today


Blackheath’s Christmas lights will be switched on at 4.30pm today. Father Nicholas Cranfield of All Saint’s Church, the Mayor of Greenwich Councillor Jim Gillman, and the Deputy Mayor of Lewisham Alan Smith will do the switching on.

The Salvation Army will play live music from 3pm.

There’s also a children’s funfair on the heath near All Saint’s Church all weekend.

Flashing photo above is from 2008’s event!

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