Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Eltham's history through its architecture

Listening to Pam Hildrew at the Library at the Eltham Centre
We went along tonight to the final talk in the successful 'Eltham Entertains' series. In 'Home is where the Heart Lies' Pam Hildrew gave a fascinating talk on how buildings reflect historical developments and the architectural styles of some local houses that reflect the history of Eltham.

Pam has trained as a London tour guide and now works as a yeoman guide at the Old Royal Naval College. Her fascination with history shone through as she gave a chronological run through Eltham from the early days of the time when Eltham Palace was built, all the way through to the between-the-world wars suburban developments.


Corbett's Eltham

We learnt that Eltham enjoyed a glorious rural past and later had magnificent villas and houses being commissioned by wealthy gentlefolk. The advent of the railway brought greater interest from further a field. The first prospective (rather than commissioned) houses were built by teetotal MP and philanthropist Cameron Corbett on the 340 acres of Eltham land which he had purchased.  His Edwardian Corbett houses proved popular and are still in demand today. 

One little nugget I picked up was about the attempt to individualise these houses as far as possible - look at the 'keystones' above the doorway arches and notice how on many Corbett houses they have different faces above them, often alternately male and female (in fact we spotted this on our walk back home, on the stretch of Grangehill Road opposite the Gordon Primary School entrance).

We heard about the incredible history of the Progress Estate, built on former farm land, with its current roads reflecting the original field boundaries which is why so many of them are curved. Our knowledgeable speaker also covered Severndroog Castle, Theobalds Cottages in Avery Hill Road, Green Lanes, impact of the great fire on window regulations, the houses in Court Road and Southend Crescent, the flamboyant Avery Hill gatehouse and so much more!

My young daughter, a history buff, came with me and I was impressed by the copious notes which she took. I should say that we unfortunately missed the early part of the talk.

Well done to Pam Hildrew, and to Eltham Arts for organising this wonderful series of talks. I hear that a Music Festival is next on the horizon...

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Eltham local elections results 2014

You've seen all the results by now. Labour of course held the Council, the London Borough of Royal Greenwich, but managed to increase its majority - Labour now have 43 seats compared to 40 in 2010, the Conservatives now have 8 seats, three less compared to 11 previously.

Out of the Council's 17 wards, much of the tension during the count on the Friday, following voting on the Thursday (22 May), was focused on the two Eltham wards which I'm closest to. My brief pre-election post here.

Following the other ward results dribbling in from mid-afternoon, we had to wait until the evening for Eltham North's results, and nail-bittingly a bit later for Eltham South's.

Finally, while I was knee-deep in cooking the family's dinner, the Royal Greenwich twitter account tweeted at 6.47pm:

It proved to be one of the most startling results for the borough. The previous three Tory councillors had been reduced to one, with Labour taking the other two, for the first time ever. Here's the full result for that ward:

 Results for Eltham North ward:

Name
Party
Votes
Linda BIRD
Labour
1,946
Paul Stephen BUTLER
UKIP
1,221
Wynn DAVIES
Labour
1,942
Spencer DRURY
Conservative
1,975
Patrick EARLY
Liberal Democrats
205
Nigel FLETCHER
Conservative
1,823
Yvonne NICHOLLS
Liberal Democrats
207
Simon Warwick PEIRCE
Labour
1,556
Rob STEAD
Green Party
591
Adam THOMAS
Conservative
1,519
Roberta Florence Louise WOODS
BNP
307

And here are the two new Labour councillors:
 

Spencer Drury retained his seat - fortunate for them as he is Leader of the Tory Group (and was re-elected as such following this election) and is also the chosen Tory candidate in next year's National Election, against the current popular Labour MP, Clive Efford. Obviously the Tories have chosen to play it safer this time rather than parachute in a candidate as they did last time with David Gold, for this key marginal seat.

The now ex-Deputy Leader of the Tories, Nigel Fletcher, was one of the victims of the Labour gain though his count was very close showing just how highly-contested this ward was. He was much admired for the graciousness with which he accepted his defeat, posting his reactions on Twitter.

So did UKIP steal the Tory vote? Well, if UKIP's 1,221 votes are added wholesale to the total Tory numbers (5,317 + 1,221 = 6,538), then UKIP did steal the Tory hatrick (total Labour votes: 5,444). But we don't know how many previous Labour or BNP votes went to UKIP...

Two other results are startling too.The Lib Dem's total 3,015 votes in 2010 compared to 412 this time. And the BNP's 686 in 2010 compared to 307 this time.

In Eltham South, the Tory-UKIP battle was potentially complicated by the ex-Tory Eileen Glover standing as an Independent. In the end that wasn't a factor. The Conservatives managed to hold on to their three seats in a very closely-fought contest.

Results for Eltham South ward:

Name
Party
Votes
Simon John CHRISTIE
Labour
1,115
Michael David CHUTER
Liberal Democrats
208
Matt CLARE
Conservative
1,394
Eileen Joan COX
Liberal Democrats
206
Mark Stuart ELLIOTT
Conservative
1,298
John Robert EVANS
UKIP
1,069
John David GALLOWAY
Labour
1,016
Nuala GEARY
Conservative
1,183
Eileen Wordie GLOVER
Independent
440
Mark Simon PATTENDEN
Liberal Democrats
181
Thelma Grace PEETE
BNP
248
Jagir Kaur SEKHON
Labour
839
David William TURNER
Green Party
402

The other striking news about the Eltham North ward was its extraordinary voter turnout. Whereas the overall turnout for the borough was 37.25 per cent (65,055 ballot papers) Eltham North had a turnout of 50.26%. Here's the borough's Turnout and verified papers by ward:


Ward
Turnout
Verified ballot papers
Abbey Wood
33.82%
3,581
Blackheath Westcombe
47.69%
4,631
Charlton
37.82%
3,805
Coldharbour & New Eltham
40.49%
3,947
Eltham North
50.26%
4,911
Eltham South
41.36%
3,630
Eltham West
34.87%
2,821
Glyndon
31.78%
3,514
Greenwich West
38.00%
4,531
Kidbrooke with Hornfair
34.97%
3,508
Middle Park and Sutcliffe
40.12%
3,887
Peninsula
38.04%
3,975
Plumstead
35.07%
3,631
Shooters Hill
40.99%
3,968
Thamesmead Moorings
29.60%
3,507
Woolwich Common
31.78%
3,288
Woolwich Riverside
31.36%
3,920

Other results for the Royal Greenwich here.

There have been some interesting and noteworthy results around the Borough which I've been reading about but I haven't got time to cover them!  For that and for a great account of the results of the borough's local elections, including some close-insight into the 'count day', as ever, see the 853 blog.