The Greenwich Society Annual General Meeting

 Wednesday 15 October 2014 at 7.30pm in the Howe Lecture Theatre (QA 080 ) at the University of Greenwich in Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College Greenwich

A very well-attended meeting heard and commented upon the rail industry's redevelopment work and its impact in Greenwich line passengers before embarking on the annual business meeting.

A full report of both the railway session and the business meeting will appear here shortly.


Blackheath Fireworks - the last ever?


Can you help?

As most people will be aware, The Royal Borough of Greenwich no longer helps to fund the fireworks - which this year are planned for 1st November. With the continuing cuts (and rumours that Lewisham will be cutting a third of its budget – albeit that the exact targets and timescale are unclear) there is a risk that this might be the last year of the fireworks!

London Borough of Lewisham organisers are, therefore, looking for sponsors, donors and ideas for raising funds (apparently two Greenwich residents were generous donors/sponsors last year).

 Organisers are also seeking volunteers to wield buckets to seek donations from the folk attending the firework display.


Lewisham Council

Greenwich Railway Line Troubles

Rail passengers travelling by the Greenwich line and using Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill or Westcombe Park stations have been fearful of the changes advertised by the Thameslink programme – and the re-development of London Bridge station – not just because of disruption that will result during and after the building work, but also because of the lack of information that has been provided for specifically for Greenwich residents to date.


 The rail industry has only lately realised that labeling the work “Thameslink” won’t automatically indicate to Greenwich residents, workers and visitors that our line and stations will be affected – but they will be and very soon too! Specifically: -

22 – 24 December 2014

Southeastern services through London Bridge will be altered

January 2015 – August 2016 

Southeastern services to and from Charing Cross will not call at London Bridge

Southeastern services to and from Cannon Street will continue to call at London Bridge but some diversions will take place between Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Blackfriars

Southeastern services to and from Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park, stations currently running to/from Charing Cross will be diverted to and from Cannon Street PERMANENTLY. There will be no more direct Charing Cross services on the Greenwich line.

August 2016 – early 2018

Southeastern services to and from Charing Cross resume calling at London Bridge.

Southeastern services to and from Cannon Street will not call at London Bridge. This means that NO trains on the Greenwich line trains will stop at London Bridge for 18 months.

Some diversions will take place between Charing Cross and Cannon Street.


Southeastern services to and from Cannon Street resume calling at London Bridge.



As the title of the programme suggests, there will be big changes to the operation of the Thameslink services during the next few years, affecting everyone who wants to travel to Gatwick or Luton airports and the stations on the Brighton to Bedford line through London. From December this year until January 2018, these trains will not call at London Bridge – being diverted via Elephant & Castle and Blackfriars.

The rail industry reports that this programme will help them meet a massive rise in demand, increasing the number of Thameslink route services through central London to one every 2-3 minutes at peak times and it will also help relieve congestion on London Underground, particularly the Northern Line. The are, at the same time building a bigger and better London Bridge station, with new platforms for more trains and a huge new concourse and untangling the track outside the station – which, it is hoped, will reduce delays from train crossing pathways and waiting outside the station for platforms to clear.

London Bridge station is being rebuilt in phases, keeping the station working during construction – with new Thameslink trains running from early 2016, completion of all track, signaling and bridge work around London Bridge finished  by 2018,  when a connection to the  East Coast Main line will be ready at St Pancras and Crossrail will connect with Thameslink at Faringdon. The high level (Southeastern) part of London bridge station will increase from 6 to 9 platforms. The low level (Southern) terminating platforms will reduce from 9 to 6 platforms. All but platform 15 will be capable of accommodating 12 carriage trains.


The rail industry is “making plans to help you get around during these disruptions. We’re also working out how these changes could affect your ticketing options, to ensure you won’t be out of pocket.” However, there are no details available to passengers as yet about what alternative routes will be available, is Cannon Street station (and underground) will be open longer and at weekends, whether shuttle or bus provision is being made and whether the tickets we normally use will be accepted on tubes and buses.

The Greenwich Society and GLUG (Greenwich Line Users’ Group) are working to get answers to these questions and representatives from both Network Rail and southeastern Railways have agreed to attend the Greenwich Society AGM on Wednesday 15th October 2014 to answer questions.

Jonathan Chandler


How did the event on 13th/14th September affect you?

The Blackheath Society has prepared an online survey to assess the impact of the OnBlackheath festival on local residents and others who may be affected. The survey is open to anybody but they are particularly keen to get the views of residents of Hyde Vale, Westgrove and surrounding parts who are closest and may experience particular inconvenience. 

This survey will be open until early in October and the results will be fed in to the Lewisham Borough Council's Post Event Evaluation. 

As many or as few sections as wished may be completed but all respondents are required to insert their full postcode to validate the response.

Complete the survey


Tall Ships Festival

In order to view the slideshow, please install Flash



Blackheath Society Retain the Golden Elephant

Congratulations to the Blackheath Society team, who triumphed - and won by 7 wickets on Thursday night, the 17th July - on a glorious summer evening in the park

Greenwich Park1

Greenwich Park2Score

The Greewnich Team managed 84 for 6 in their innings

Light began to fade quickly ....

Park 4 

Docklands Ramble

Ray & Cherry

Cherry & Ray

On a beautiful Midsummer’s day Ray Smith, as always assisted by Cherry, led the Greenwich Society Docklands Ramble. We were all given a sheet with details of the walk and a short explanation of each landmark of the walk, so that, wherever we stopped, Ray could give a bit of additional information and we didn’t have to stand still too long.

10 of us gathered at the Cutty Sark at 10:30pm and then took the foot tunnel to the other side of the river where our walk started with the ‘Canaletto View’ of Greenwich. From there we walked through Millwall Park with lovely wild flower meadows and on to Millwall Dock and Canada Square, where nearby we stopped for refreshments in a Turkish restaurant overlooking the water. Then we continued to West India Docks and the Dock walls, to the Blackwall Basin, the Poplar Dock Marina and to Coldharbour, where the walk finished at about 2:30pm in The Gun pub, reputedly a secret meeting place for Nelson and Lady Hamilton, for a well deserved drink. 


It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday and, although I learned a lot about Docklands, I never felt I was on a guided tour. Instead it was a relaxing walk with plenty of opportunity to chat. Thank you very much, Ray and Cherry! As Ray has 16 more London walks in his repertoire, I hope Ray will organise another walk for the Greenwich Society soon.


Helma Zebregs

23rd June 2014


Ballast Quay


The Ballast Quay website - based on the recent exhibition - is now online HERE. It is still under construction, but more and new content is being added as fast as possible!

Do take a look and feedback your comments and any suggestions.


Ending Traffic Domination of Greenwich


Take a look at the on-line PowerPoint Presentation:  This could be a popular action for our new councillors to take; but enough said for the present. The case of Poynton in Cheshire well illustrates how we could benefit.


How?:  Step 1: Control the density of vehicles in the centre.

How could this apply to Greenwich?:  By smart traffic lights outside the centre which only allow vehicles into the centre when the exits are clear.

But, you will say: “But won’t this cause a lot of congestion?”

PowerPoint Presentation:  No. It just means that when the traffic is greater than the capacity of the system, then it will be held outside the centre rather than clogging up the streets in the centre.

How?: Step 2: Take out all four sets of traffic lights. Establish clear ‘gateways’ where vehicles are entering shared space, with a 10 mph speed limit. Repave the streets in the centre to reflect the priority of pedestrians.

 There are three main roads in and two minor ones. So vehicles would wait at the traffic lights outside the centre until the exits are clear and the density in the centre is low, instead of clogging up the centre when the traffic is heavy.

So should the Greenwich Society promote this?: 

To let us know your views please contact Chris Todhunter by email. 


New Members' Event

West Greenwich Library on Friday 19th May 2014


Richard Baglin and John Evans addressing the new members


Conversation and refreshments


An elegant place to meet

Jackie & Meg

A small "thank you" to the Friends of West Greenwich Library- from Jackie Hicks to Meg Morris

Jackie & MagJohn talksRichard talks



Why I joined the Greenwich Society


Lesley Curwen

My working life as a financial broadcaster has been a succession of early starts. You may have heard me on Money Box Live, Business Daily or Today, or seen me presenting TV business news; sometimes that means travelling in to the BBC at 3.30am. So I've had the lonely joy of seeing the Observatory and the Park by starlight or glorious dawn as the car makes its way down Trafalgar Road. 

Living here in Greenwich for the last nine years has been a source of great happiness. But the rapid building of flats around East Greenwich has also brought unease about the knock-on effects on the streets around my home. As soon as I moved into the area, I joined the Greenwich Society, which I see as a bulwark against ugly and damaging changes to our environment in this most beautiful part of London.

Sooner or later, this threat might arrive on your doorstep. Our house overlooks the good old Arches Leisure Centre which is condemned to perish all too soon when a new leisure centre is built on the site of the old District Hospital.

I have every confidence that when the time comes, the Greenwich Society will represent the views of local residents and hopefully restrain the worst excesses of developers who will no doubt want to build more high-rise flats on the old Arches site. Lesley Curwen


Before and After?

Here is a comparison of the view from Greenwich Park across the river to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf (before) and the same view, adding the computer generated appearance of all the high-rise towers that are proposed (after).



Jonathan Chandler 

Greenwich Society Pub of the Year


Tim Barnes presenting the award



Well Done, East Greenwich!

In January the Society's Newsletter carried the headline "Lovells Wharf Unwelcome Proposals" and I wrote ‘expect a heated debate if these plans go forward’.

That came to pass when residents of the surrounding streets set up a formidable campaign as East Greenwich Residents. Posters, media coverage,an online petition and even a video set out their objections to the plans to build much higher blocks, to remove the hotel and much of the retail and employment space in favour of another 250 flats. All concerns the Society had set out in our own objections.

Residents turned out in force at the Planning Board and campaigners spoke eloquently of the impact of the development on their neighbourhood and their fierce objections to being overshadowed by even taller buildings than those already consented. Familiar concerns were stressed: the impact of more commuters on the stretched travel network, pressure on health and schools, traffic and parking. It was a very impressive display of community spirit and determination to save their neighbourhood from more damage.

The Society and the Greenwich Conservation Group reiterated our objections on the grounds of density, design, the much taller blocks proposed, the damage to the view downriver from the World Heritage Site and to the surrounding streets.

In the face of all these well-argued objections, the developer's case looked frankly feeble and the Planning Board voted unanimously to refuse the application.

So well done East Greenwich Residents and well done the Greenwich Society too! We wait to hear whether the developer will appeal.

Richard Baglin

St Alfege Church Restoration Appeal

This appeal, to which the Greenwich Society has generously contributed, has had recent success in accessing funds. The Getty Trust has contributed £50,000, the Heritage for London Trust has donated £2,000 and the Cathedral Group, whose Managing Director Richard Upton hales from Greenwich has given £25,000.The appeal is due to wind up in 2014 and we still have some way to go to reach our target of £550,000. On November, 24th Brian and Jane Sullivan also generously hosted a lunch with music event at Hamilton House at the top of Point Hill to support the Appeal.

Tim Barnes

Greenwich Hospital Plans in the town centre

- a presentation to the Greenwich Society AGM by Gillie Bexson (Property Portfolio Manager, Greenwich Hospital).

Gillie Bexson offered her assessment of the Hospital’s plans by establishing the context of its work within its charitable objectives, describing the Greenwich estate, explaining the Hospital’s vision, how it hoped to achieve that vision and the nature of the collaboration that would be required in the process.

Greenwich Hospital is an ancient Crown charity providing support (including annuities, sheltered housing and education) to serving and retired personnel of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and their dependants. It was established in 1694 for the following purpose: -

“The reliefe and support of seamen serving on board the shipps or vessells belonging to the Navy Royall who by reason of Age, Wounds or other disabilities shall be uncapable of further service at sea and being unable to maintain themselves. And for the Sustentation of the Widows and the Maintenance and Education of the Children of seamen happening to be slain or disabled. Also for the further reliefe and Encouragement of seamen and Improvement of Navigation.”

The Hospital supports 26,000 people through 20 charities, 3 sheltered housing schemes and a Naval Care Home. It also supports a faculty at the University of Greenwich and students at Trinity/Laban. Plans are also on-going for the establishments of apprenticeships, the retraining of injured service men and women and business start-up assistance. There is no public money involved in any of the Hospital’s investments - which are in Greenwich, the rural estates (8,000 acres in Suffolk, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear – a total of 15 farms with many residential cottages), two properties in central London and in equities.


Greenwich Estate

Greenwich Hospital Estate

The Property Portfolio provides an income stream from its assets to enable the Hospital to meet its charity commitments. These properties have been in ownership for three hundred years and the Hospital has a duty to maintain its value and income for the future.  In order to do so, the Hospital will manage its holdings to the best advantage, invest for long term growth and improvement of Hospital properties and consolidate the core estate - acquiring premises within it or adjoining it where there is benefit to the core. There are very few town centres in single ownership and this makes Greenwich almost unique.

Following the decision to drop permanently the previous market regeneration plan, the Hospital has embarked on a series of projects to enhance and improve its buildings - to refine, not purify, the town centre and it is the Hospital’s intention to implement a series of strategies to enhance this thriving retail and residential community including the investment in and commitment to improving retail and residential accommodation, the public realm and the market. Greenwich Hospital’s vision for the town centre is not to change it, but to improve and enhance it where it holds the freehold. In doing so it aims to enhance the character of the World Heritage Site, of which it forms a part.


Town Centre Freehold

Greenwich Hospital Freehold

Historically the buildings have been let as a whole on long leases to retailers who have used the upper floors for storage, staff accommodation and it is unfortunate but true that they have not been looked after well. The Hospital is now taking back buildings whenever possible and working hard to provide modern retail and restaurant accommodation at the ground floor, returning the upper floors to residential use.

Greenwich Hospital aims to work collaboratively, with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and other stakeholders, to undertake a long-term strategic investment programme that will refine Greenwich Town Centre’s historic assets and enhance their contribution to the local economy. The Hospital would like to work as a partner in everything in which it invests in Greenwich generally and meets regularly with the senior members of Greenwich Council in a number of forums (enjoying support at a high level even if there are some challenges in dealings with conservation officers) and with Nick Raynsford MP twice yearly.

The Hospital has been accused of failing to care for its assets, but it is responsible for all the fine buildings in the town and has no no intention of destroying them, only refurbishing them for modern and future use with the adaptations necessary for 21st century occupation. In order to deliver this vision, the Hospital aims to be an active Landlord, to offer responsible stewardship of the historic environment, to consult, engage in planning, providing a development framework strategy and deploy an integrated approach to servicing. Specific plans are to : -

  • Conserve Greenwich’s urban village character through a proactive commitment to the protection and enhancement of its built heritage.
  • Improve the appearance of the Hospital’s buildings by investing in the external fabric of the retail and residential frontages.
  • Deliver buildings that respond to the character and quality of the area with a commitment to architectural excellence and the business needs of the 21st Century.
  • Create prime accommodation to attract strong covenant and high quality restaurateurs and retailers.
  • Continue to mix uses by taking back upper floors wherever possible and return them to residential use.
  • Enhance and improve the historic market place and maintain its significance in the context of Greenwich’s history.

Many retailers have been “Grown in Greenwich” and the Hospital aspires to continue that tradition with new market traders. However, the current retail tenant mix has evolved over a number of years and the quality requires improvement as opportunities arise. The specification of the market area requires substantial upgrading in order to attract high quality designer-makers to the market. The public realm and access require upgrading to attract visitors of all ages. The Hospital will work with its retailers and traders to market the town centre through the web site and by hosting events for charity bringing in an ever-wider audience to the town centre.

Greenwich Market Vision


Market vision

Market Vision

The Hospital’s plan focuses on the creation of a flexible food market with publically accessible open space, seating, hard and soft landscaping to reduce the number of food stalls in the existing market space at weekends, thereby reducing congestion in the historic Portico. It is proposed that this will be accommodated in the area known as Fry’s Court.  A new covering for the market roof using the existing structure  (which will have improved daylight, lighting, event specific lighting and ventilation capabilities) is planned as is the restoration and relaying of the cobbles on the market floor, improve access for all ages as well as improving the drainage and power for stall holders. The brief itself includes: -

  • Creation of an attractive destination at the heart of Greenwich town centre
  • Retention of the historic character of the market
  • Restoration and reuse the original structure of the market roof
  • Improvement of the public realm
  • Improvement of the range of potential uses – Antiques & Crafts market, food market and event space, for example
  • Reconfiguration of the service areas, aiding efficiency

The Hospital will continue its dialogue with Nick Raynsford MP, with the Council’s Planning and Conservation Officers. It will provide Council member briefings, pre-application meetings and ensure consultation with key stakeholders – like the Greenwich Society.

Although there is no town centre master plan, the Hospital has a continual investment programme and a coordinated construction timetable. Through consultation with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the local community the Hospital also hopes to minimise disruption and maintain its commitment.

Greenwich Society Achievements

  • Since 2001 our team of volunteers have removed more than 16,000 graffiti which disfigured the town centre, Trafalgar Road and our residential streets.
  • We have helped make Greenwich a greener place by planting the now mature trees outside Greenwich Station; in front of the Arches in Trafalgar Road; in Greenwich High Road and in Crooms Hill as well as creating small gardens around the area.
  • We look at every planning application and comment constructively and vigorously too when we see unsuitable development proposals.
  • In the run-up to the Olympics we worked hard to ensure that the organisers and the Borough protected residents' interests during the Games.
  • We have helped launch the Greenwich Line Users Group to provide a voice for passengers as the London Bridge development begins to impact on all
  • The Newsletter has a great track record of keeping members informed about local affairs and events; the latest is our 173rd edition
  • We are playing a part in bringing about an improvement to the town centre street scene. And the Society led the campaign against the garish neon signage on the Pier restaurants, supported by the Royal Borough and the Government Inspector.
  • The Society campaigned successfully against the plan for a one-way system which would have increased rat- running

Greenwich Society Challenges

  • Pressure from developers pushing the limits of the planning system to build taller apartment buildings with high densities, too few family homes and little outdoor space for recreation.
  • Plans in the pipeline could produce an increase of 50,000 new residents between the Convoys Wharf towers in Deptford and the Peninsular. Will public transport, the roads and the infrastructure cope?
  • How do we achieve a balance between the needs of residents and the pressures of a growing tourist industry?
  • Plans for the new river crossings are supported by little evidence about the health and pollution impacts. What effect would a proposal to finance the crossings by charging tolls in the Blackwall tunnel have on the town centre?


What does Greenwich mean to you?

 Greenwich Park Panorama

The Greenwich Society, which was born as a civic amenity group in the late 1950s, aims to work to make Greenwich a better place for all who live, work and study here – from Deptford Creek to the O2 and from the river to Blackheath. The Society has a special interest in thriving, long and sustainable businesses, the town’s commercial centres East and West, regeneration, traffic management, the natural and built environment and relations with the local authority and all the agencies who have to manage change. Whether it is the watchfulness that is required to protect the town’s heritage or the natural concerns of local residents to improve its amenities, the Greenwich Society welcomes members and gives a voice to everyone who cares about the past, the present and the future.