The 1900 House (TV prog from 1999/2000) was set in Charlton & Blackheath Standard

The other day, while doing some housework, I remembered the hardworking and brilliant ‘maid of all work’ in a television programme I saw years ago when I first moved to Blackheath, called The 1900 House. I’ve discovered that the whole programme is available to watch again and spent yesterday watching it on my day off while rain and thunderstorms raged outside. The programme was filmed in 1999 and moved a modern family into a house as it would have been in 1900, to create a living history documentary to see how they found the experience of being Victorian. Tough as it happens, but they enjoyed a great deal of it, as did the audience.

There’s a lovely bit a few weeks in where Joyce (the mum) is reflecting on a point at which she’d had enough and just wanted to ‘put on her hat and walk out’. That sounds a very Victorian way of expressing it – no-one really wears everyday hats these days – so it seemed like she was certainly in the right mindset. They all stuck it out. The maid, who was a cleaner in real life and whose mother and grandmother had been too, wasn’t in the programme for very long but there were scenes of her visiting a library to discover more about the very hard life of working class Victorian women who might work for 15 hours a day every day. They didn’t have much time (or resources to fall back on if they lost their job) to campaign for votes for women, something done more by middle class women. It was an interesting programme.

I was very new to Blackheath when it aired in 2000 and had completely failed to spot that it’s set in the next village, Charlton, with excursions into Blackheath Standard. I was reading the Wikipedia article which mentioned Elliscombe Road (‘hang on that sounds familiar’) and then spotted that it was the one in Charlton. The Clarendon Hotel features in the opening sequence as the family changes their 1999 clothes for 1900 ones and are then conveyed in a horse-drawn carriage to their new house in 50 Elliscombe Road.

Occasionally I take the 380 bus to Charlton rail station, alighting at the Sundorne Road bus stop on Wellington Road. The previous bus stop, also on Wellington Road, is the Elliscombe Road one and the bus announces the road name, so I’ve been hearing that name for years while paying attention to it so that I get off at the next one (incidentally I wonder if there are any two bus stops in London closer together than those two). I’d not like to drive a horse and carriage down Eastcombe Avenue though, which is further up in the journey from Blackheath, it’s a bit steep.

The Apple N’Orange fruit shop at Blackheath Standard opposite the library features in the programme too – it’s still there, same name, open late and on Sundays. At one point the eldest daughter gets a Saturday job there to stave off the boredom of having not that much to do and limited opportunities as a sixteen year old Victorian girl. We also see some bicycling going on around Blackheath Pond (Princess of Wales pond) and St German’s Place too.

Further reading

 

 

Angerstein level crossing, one of two in Greenwich

Yesterday I discovered that there is a second level crossing within walking distance from my home. To be honest I’d been dining out on the news of the Charlton Lane crossing for a few years (very pretty brick pattern on the tunnel, level crossings a reasonably rare thing in London) after I discovered it while ambling around Maryon Park. But now I have two of them! This one is much smaller and is only used by pedestrians, and the track itself is only used by freight trains carrying ‘stuff’ from around the UK to Angerstein Wharf.

Yesterday’s discovery was an online one, after I was looking up John Julius Angerstein who created the gardens at Mycenae House. I recognised his name from wandering around Angerstein Wharf (well as near as I can get to it without being chased by wild dogs) and the internet told me about this crossing, just by Westcombe Park station. Angerstein’s grandson developed the railway and the crossing was included for workers to get across the line.

I had the day off today and went to visit it. Predictably I arrived just too late to see a long freight train disappearing into the wharf, which was a shame but I enjoyed meeting the crossing nonetheless. The line is very infrequently used as far as I’m aware (trains run several times a week rather than a day), though not by people – I met several while lurking there photographing it (pics below).

Map of Angerstein Crossing from Google maps.

When I lived in Camberwell I was close to Denmark Hill rail station and I loved being woken in the middle of the night by the rumbling of freight trains passing through, reminding me that I was safe and warm in bed while life was going on around me. It made the house vibrate.

Pleasingly it’s the exact same trains that pass through Denmark Hill that also arrive in Angerstein Wharf. They come from (or go to) Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire and they do this in a remarkably circuitous route which you can see examples of here (Bardon to Angerstein) and here (Angerstein to Bardon).

Other posts about Angerstein Crossing
Angerstein Level Crossing (31 August 2015) Know Your London
Angerstein adventure: Take a very rare Greenwich rail trip (31 August 2014) 853 blog
Angerstein railway (28 October 2013) The Greenwich Phantom
The Angerstein Railway (published 30 July 2013 but written in 1998) Greenwich Peninsula History

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1. Westcombe Park side of the Angerstein Crossing

IMG_4725.JPG2. Westcombe Park side looking left towards Angerstein Wharf where you can see the train I just missed.

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3. Westcombe Park side looking to the right towards Charlton station

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4. The crossing itself, taken from the side of Westcombe Park

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5. The opposite side of the crossing, from the Fairthorn Road entrance

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6. The rather lovely entrance to the crossing from Fairthorn Road, directly opposite Gurdon Road.

 

 

Mycenae House’s PARKSfest 2017

I popped into Mycenae House after a visit to Blackheath’s M&S for yesterday’s ParksFest and failed to take any photographs as my phone was charging at home, oops. Fortunately other people brought their cameras and tweeted some stuff (below). Looks like it was a really enjoyable day. I was surprised to discover how large the Mycenae Gardens are and amazed to see a large redwood tree, among some other pretty interesting trees. I signed up to become a ‘friend of’ the gardens and was given a leaflet on the gardens history.

Mycenae House (built in 1776) Gardens were created by someone whose name – Angerstein – I had heard of only in the context of freight trains shuttling between Angerstein Wharf and Bardon Hill quarry in Leicester. He filled the garden with some trees that have been there for over 200 years (a lovely old plane tree is still there) and after his death his collection of paintings also kicked off the National Gallery. Angerstein actually lived in ‘Woodlands’ (now a Steiner School) next door to Mycenae House.

The friends of the Garden had a couple of good tree quizzes – it turns out I’m better at recognising a species from its leaf than from a picture of the tree.

A few years ago I saw Shaun of the Dead in the gardens thanks to Pop Up Screens, it was fab though I got bitten by midges 😉 I don’t think they’re doing any screenings at Mycenae House but they do have films in Greenwich Peninsula in August (also Lee / Hither Green which is nearby).

Mycenae House (What’s On) – http://www.mycenaehouse.co.uk/whatson.html
Friends of Mycenae Gardens – https://mycenaegardens.org.uk/about/
Westcombe (Park) Society – http://www.westcombesociety.org/
Blackheath Society – http://www.blackheath.org/
Charlton Society – https://charltonsociety.org/

I enjoyed the bunting seen in the tweet above.

Open air cinema on your doorstep (if you’re in Blackheath / Greenwich / Lee / Peckham)

This weekend the Luna Cinema is screening Groundhog Day (Fri 7 July), Arrival (Sat 8 July) and Top Gun (Sun 9 July) in Greenwich Park.
http://www.thelunacinema.com/greenwich-park/4592086264

The Rooftop Film Club is showing lots of films all summer on top of the Bussey Building in Peckham. The building is a three minute walk* from Peckham Rye, which is itself only 13 minutes from Blackheath station on the Victoria trains.
http://rooftopfilmclub.com/london/venues/bussey-building/

Pop Up Screens is showing Jurassic Park (Fri 25 Aug), Four Weddings and a Funeral (Sat 26 Aug) and Grease (Sun 27 Aug) in Manor House Gardens, which is listed as Hither Green but seems pretty Lee-ish. It’s a 17 minute walk from Blackheath station (according to Citymapper). You can also take the 202 bus to Stop F (on the opposite side of the road from the Sainsbury’s, Burnt Ash Road Lee Road (Stop ID: 58365), the 261 stops there too, then walk up a little bit to the crossroads and turn right into Taunton Road.
https://www.popupscreens.co.uk/tickets/events/upcoming/venue/4

All the open air cinema screening organisations listed, and many others, are showing other films across London and a reasonably complete list is here:
https://storify.com/jobrodie/open-air-cinema-screenings-london-2017

*Don’t forget that the last weekday train from Peckham Rye to Blackheath is 23:51 and you might need to allow a bit longer to walk back to the station as they close off the main cut-through back to the station. I discovered this last night after a lovely screening of Pride and Prejudice there (with a fun Q&A with Joe Wright the director beforehand) which has a run time of 2h 15 and began at 9.45. I’d allowed 10 mins to get back to the station and had quite the sense of humour failure when someone tried to redirect me to follow a different, longer route in an opposite direction, risking losing the train – fortunately I won that argument, they opened the barrier for me and I got the last train home.

 

How competitive walking (in Blackheath) captivated Georgian Britain h/t @FakeDaveGreen

via How Competitive Walking Captivated Georgian Britain – Atlas Obscura

I’ve been enjoying this surprising article about competitive walking in Georgian Britain, it was particularly interesting to me given that it takes place partly at Hare and Billet in Blackheath which has been the site of my own recent excursions 🙂

Incidentally the reason I took up walking in and around London was after re-reading Dickens’ Oliver Twist in my mid-twenties. I’d always taken the bus everywhere before that (living in Camberwell at the time meant the tube was less of an option anyway) and enjoyed reading about people walking through bits of London I passed on the bus. It just hadn’t really occurred to me that one might or could walk around London, or that it might be done for pleasure, or health benefits. The people in the book had to walk from necessity (couldn’t afford the alternatives) so it probably wasn’t much fun for them.

I would have been no good at Georgian competitive pedestrianism though. Because I’d regularly bussed and walked the journey from Camden to Charing Cross, and from Charing Cross to Camberwell I’d assumed it would be plain sailing to follow the 53 route back to Blackheath. So one hot Saturday afternoon a few years ago I set off from Camden and walked all the way to Deptford before thinking better of it. According to my GPS tracker I’d done 14 miles in about six hours, which is fairly feeble (and the distance can’t really be much more than 9 miles – though I was following the less direct bus route). By the time I arrived at Deptford Bridge I was more shuffling than walking. A 53 bus arrived and I realised I wouldn’t be able to get on to it as I could barely lift my feet up, then someone with crutches arrived (overtaking me) and the driver lowered the platform for them and I was able to shuffle on. I remember my hip joints squeaking as I walked up the stairs to my flat and I thought I’d never do that again, though by the next day I was perfectly fine. These days I tend to restrict myself to 40 minute walks though, can’t be too careful 😉

Walking in London is actually quite hard-going and it’s not that related to the distances. You’re constantly keeping out of others’ way and at very regular intervals you’re required to cross roads which breaks your pace a fair bit, not to mention the general background efforts at being ‘London alert’. And in my case especially, trying not to get lost (this is why I follow the bus routes).

 

Watch out for the cute beetles in Blackheath

A few years ago, while walking across Blackheath, I thought someone had started throwing popcorn at me. It turned out to be Summer Chafer (similar to cockchafer beetles but a bit smaller) in flight. These sleep underground and then in the late afternoon / twilight pop out of the ground and buzz around the tops of trees to meet other beetles, make friends, mate, lay eggs, that sort of thing. There are a variety of cockchafer beetles, and other beetles known as ‘June bugs’ (or in some places ‘May bugs’).

I’m pretty sure the ones we get in Blackheath are the summer cockchafers (they go by the name Amphimallon solstitiale (I’ve also seen it spelled solstitiale but this is apparently incorrect terminology)) which look like little mint humbugs and persistently ‘attack’ you if they think you might be a tree. They’re actually utterly harmless but the Daily Mail has singled them out as something to be frightened of1.

Here’s a pic of one from 30 June 2010, sitting on my hat (original Twitpic), three segments (four stitched lines) is about an inch. In flight they remind me of the Golden Snitch in the Harry Potter books/films.

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Below you can just make out the blurry image of the beetle in flight above the tree.

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And here a beetle obligingly landed on a bit of the same tree.

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Here’s me talking (sorry for the windy recording, taken while on the heath), exactly 7 years ago today on 30 June 2010, about my growing fascination for the small beetles.

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Yesterday, while walking across the heath I spotted lots of birds (I think they’re either swifts or swallows, I’m not knowledgeable about birds) which are a very good marker at this time of year for the beetles being out and about swarming the trees. The birds were up by Hare and Billet pond so I headed over there and sure enough, it was full of beetles. The pictures above (except the one on the hat) and below were taken there on 29 June 2017.

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(Above) Hare and Billet pond at dusk. Isn’t it lovely. The only birds visible in this picture are a duck and his / her duckling on the water. Just out of view of this picture, on the grass to the right is a moorhen (probably).

The video below is a not entirely successful attempt at videoing the birds, in slow motion, to see if I can work out what they are.

Update 30 June – I popped back there this evening and there were loads on the walk over from the heath, persistently buzzing and divebombing me. When I arrived at the pond one of the larger trees was surrounded, a very health crop of Summer Chafers this year, hooray. The tweet right at the top was taken after one landed on my bag while I was trying to take a photo of another one that had ‘attacked’ me. I had to swat them away with a bit of card haha.

1. see [warning: Daily Mail link. Click cautiously as the Mail is surely far more terrifying than beetles] “The chubby insects terrorising Britain’s backyards: The plague of fat, flying beetles found in your garden (and your home)

Pilot yourself around London’s canals with @GoBoatLDN

The tl;dr version:– GoBoat London will let you hire small boats, from Paddington basin, that you can ‘drive’ (yourself, with a quick bit of training) around London’s canals (£75 for 2 hours for up to 8 people, 6 hrs is £200). Boat has massive picnic table in it, can bring own food or order a picnic. Looks lovely. You can go West to Kensal Green, or East to Camden Lock. [Website] [About] [FAQ] [Routemap] [Twitter]

Earlier in the week, on something like Gardeners’ Question Time, I heard mention of the  new ‘Paddington Pocket Park’ which is a garden floating on a pontoon in the Paddington Basin at Merchant Square* and parked that in my mind as something to visit.

Yesterday, after another lovely visit to Lewisham Shopping Centre’s pop up maritime museum I decided to head into Camden and ‘do’ one of those water bus journeys from Camden Lock. Checking the details (where to pick up the boats, where they actually go and so on) while sitting on the 24 bus from Charing Cross to Camden Lock I realised that the boat goes to Little Venice which is conveniently close to Paddington Basin, so I ended up visiting the pocket park too.

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Pic credit: Me! @JoBrodie (boat in pic is unrelated to the boats mentioned in the post).

The Water Bus from Camden Lock to Little Venice was lovely and I’ll post up some pictures from that separately, but this post is about the little silver-grey ‘GoBoat’ boats I kept seeing in the canals. They’re small boats that seat eight and you and up to seven friends can hire one and pilot yourself around London’s waterways. I didn’t really know what I was seeing at first – it looked like a table boat, literally a boat with a table in it and I assumed it must be a quirky one-off miniature floating restaurant, then I saw another couple of them and realised it must be a ‘thing’.

Apparently these GoBoat boats launched in London in May, and their terminal is in Merchant Place… where the floating garden is!

I believe the company’s from Copenhagen (one tweeter described them rather nicely as a floating picnic table) and the aim is to make waterways accessible to more people – “The mission of GoBoat London is  to make the canal waters accessible to all, in a sociable and sustainable manner.  … Our boats allow guests to comfortably face each other, whilst enjoying food and drink on a large picnic table in the middle of the boat.

I’m now telling my friends about this so that I can try this out!

*One way to get to Paddington Basin is via an entrance just to the left of the Tesco Metro on South Wharf Road, which is near Edgware Road station and links to Praed Street and Paddington Station. As I was coming from Little Venice mooring point I walked up towards the blue bridge and turned left past the Waterside Cafe, down Westbourne Terrace Road and onto the A404, picked up the 18 bus (stop on the right hand side) and took it two stops to the Police station, then walked back a little to take the underpass to the other side. I used the Citymapper app to get me there.

A couple more pics from me below, including info about what’s happening

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Some adverts below over which I have no control. I hope they’re not too wretched…