Monthly Archives: June 2013

Is there still a plan to build upon the heath?

Interesting email today from Eliot Pitstop (the pressure group who formed when a Pocket Park was proposed in Eliot Pits – see previous posts).
They are encouraging residents to attend the next Blackheath Assembly meeting this Wednesday at 7.30pm, 3rd July at St Matthew’s Academy.

From their email:

…we understand that two new areas are under consideration for a childrens’ playground:

  • One by the Territorial Army grounds at Hollyhedge House on the Heath,
  • and the other in the middle of the Heath by Talbot Place.
  • They also set out their position:

  • The Blackheath Assembly has not demonstrated that it has a proper mandate to promote the building of a permanent childrens’ playground on the Heath. It needs to explain how it believes that it has the authority to promote such a proposal;
  • The need for an equipped chidrens’ playground in Blackheath Ward has not been established as there are many equipped play areas both within the Ward and within the vicinity of Blackheath;
  • We need to protect the Heath from any permanent development and from the building of permanent structures and also to prevent a precedent being established which would enable Lewisham Council to easily achieve such development without public consultation in the future.
  • Full email is here as a PDF.


    Filed under blackheath, planning

    Shepherds Food of the week

    photo (16)
    Jelly Belly bean dispenser. A snip at only £29.95. Contains E129: may have an adverse affect on activity and attention in children.

    I might install one outside the shop. I’ll be rich!

    (NB: “food of the week” actually means “once every year or so”.)

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    Filed under blackheath

    Bookshop on the Heath selling up

    Massively sad to hear that yet another independent shop in the village is selling up. The Bookshop on the Heath is a fantastic place. I really hope they find a buyer to continue the shop as a going concern.

    Their press release is below. If anyone has any good examples of how local communities have managed to stem the exit of local businesses from their high streets, please place them in the comments.

    Richard and Jasmine Platt, founding owners of the Bookshop on the Heath Ltd in Blackheath, South East London, have announced that they are selling the business in order to pursue other interests in the leisure industry.
    During the past ten years, the business has won awards for excellent customer service and it has been independently rated as one of the country’s finest bookshops. From day one, it has posted excellent year-on-year profits.
    There has been a bookshop in this location since 1949, making it one of the longest continually running bookshops in South London. The bookshop has become a real fixture in Blackheath Village and it has generated a tremendous local goodwill. More recently it was the setting for part of an episode of the BBC1 drama “Spooks”.
    Richard says, “After a very happy and successful ten years here, we feel that the time has come for us to step back and pass on the legacy and reputation of the business to someone else. We hope that they can now also realise their dream like I did ten years ago by taking over and further developing a super little shop in a marvellous trading position. It would be lovely to think that the long tradition of bookselling could be continued by someone who shares our passion for offering fine books, maps & posters with friendly, personal service. Trade has been exceptionally good and there is also the opportunity for the new owner to develop web sales and sales of new books (children’s in particular) – areas which we have barely touched upon.”
    The bookshop continues to open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and by appointment at all other times. If you are searching for a quantity of specific quality stock or you are interested in buying the whole of this successful and profitable turn-key business, please contact Richard Platt for more details on 01526 352267 or email


    Filed under books, planning, politics, shops

    Footpads of Blackheath – bandits bold

    Spectator article about Blackheath footpads 1877
    The Spectator has just opened up its searchable archive of every issue. In June 1877 it seems the big issue was “footpads

    Footpad is an archaic term for a robber or thief specializing in pedestrian victims. The term was used widely from the 16th century until the 19th century, but gradually fell out of common use. A footpad was considered a low criminal, as opposed to the mounted highwayman who in certain cases might gain fame as well as notoriety.

    The Blackheath Bandits Bold:

    Till Mrs. Potter’s carriage was attacked, the business looked serious. The footpads threatened Mr. Hodgson with death, and as he gave them what money he had, it remained uncertain whether they were in earnest or not, and the idea of a sudden revival of an old form of crime was not in itself absurd, but after the second affair there was no room for uncertainty. The highwaymen by no means belonged to the order of “bandits bold.” Dick Turpin would have been ashamed of them, and Claude Duval have cut off their ears. Mrs. Potter’s coachman whipped them, and they did nothing ; the coachman of the third carriage attacked only whipped on his horses and easily escaped ; and on the fourth occasion, when everything seemed propitious, the coachmen being old and the occupants of the carriage ladies only, they were put to ignominious flight by the advent of the familiar hansom cab.


    They like silver spoons best, of course, but they will take anything, coats, clocks, gilt ornaments, walking-canes, kitchen utensils, and even, when they can command carts, household furniture. They are satisfied apparently with gains which can hardly be greater than they could earn by honest labour, and they have an ignominious fear of the police. A good deal of their work is done by day, it being a feature of these suburbs that the head of the house is usually absent in business hours ; but they also work at night, and then, in reporters’ parlance, “the neighbourhood of, say, Twickenham or Lee is thrown into alarm by a series of burglaries” of an insignificant, but still most annoying sort ; every servant has some story of her alarms to tell, and there is a sudden develop- ment of the passion for little dogs, always the best protectors. The police are placed on the alert, the robbers find too many observant persons are about ; the pursuit grows hot, and they decamp, to recommence their attempts in some other neighbour- hood, still within a short distance of London


    A very slight reform, to be paid for by a moderate rate, would, we believe, remedy the whole evil, and dis- tinctly improve the value of suburban property. It is not that strict patrolling is required, such as protects the centre of London. The criminals to be defeated are not formidable, not numerous, and not daring, and strict patrolling is from physical circumstances not possible. But with a slightly increased staff, the police could obtain better information about suspicious characters, could re- ceive a complaint without a sense of overwork, and could keep up pursuit with something of the energy they show against more serious crimes. It is their knowledge that pursuit will not be serious or long continued which makes thieves so audacious, and which has tempted three or four of them to try whether highway robbery without murder might not be as easy a mode of gaining a living as burglary on the smaller scale. They have roused too much attention to succeed, but a very little money and no great amount of organising skill would make each of the great and wealthy villages round London as safe as Blackheath has recently been made.

    That last paragraph could have come straight from a Safer Neighbourhoods report…

    PS – If you enjoy stuff like this, you might like my post about Penny Dreadfuls, and the legend of Spring Heeled Jack, from a long time ago.

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    Filed under blackheath, history

    Blackheath’s LibDem councillor defects to Labour

    Amanada de Rky defects from LibDems to Labour in Blackheath
    Amanda De Ryk, formerly the LibDem councillor for the Blackheath ward has resigned from the LibDems to join Labour. Press release is here, and her (very quiet) twitter account is @AmandadeRyk.

    Lewisham council’s website listing local councillors hasn’t reflected the changes yet.


    Filed under blackheath, lewisham, politics

    Blackheath mentioned in Dan Brown’s latest novel

    Inferno novel by Dan Brown
    As spotted by Neil Short on Twitter, Blackheath is mentioned in Dan Brown’s new novel Inferno (he who wrote The Da Vinci Code, and other cheesy thrillers)

    Here’s the passage:

    “The bio was a gushing account of a child theater prodigy—Sienna Brooks—with an off- the-chart IQ, who had, in a single night, memorized every character’s lines and, during initial rehearsals, often cued her fellow cast members. Among this five-year-old’s hobbies were viol- in, chess, biology, and chemistry. The child of a wealthy couple in the London suburb of Blackheath, the girl was already a celebrity in scientific circles; at the age of four, she had beat a chess grand master at his own game and was reading in three languages.
    My God, Langdon thought. Sienna. That explains a few things.”

    Gripping eh? Who would have thought such an accomplished author would resort to using Blackheath as shorthand for wealth and privilege…


    Filed under blackheath, books

    Blackheath commuters! You need this!

    If you have an iPhone and you use public transport in London, you need this app:

    (Update: There’s an Android version too)


    Filed under geek, transport

    Eliot Pitstopped

    Just got an email from the office of Sir Steve (Lewisham’s mayor). Looks like they won’t be building a children’s play area in Eliot Pits after all:

    The Preliminary Ecological Appraisal report recently undertaken by The Ecology Consultancy for Eliot Pits has now been received.
    The Council’s Ecological Regeneration Manager has reviewed the report and given that the proposal will likely have “significant ecological impact” has recommended that this option is not pursued.
    I imagine that further details will be available soon, but given your concerns I am sending you this information at the earliest opportunity following Sir Steve’s request that you are kept fully updated.


    Filed under blackheath, lewisham, planning, politics