Wednesday 27 November 2013

Proposed cinema for Eltham

Site of proposed cinema in Eltham High Street
Last week, Royal Greenwich confirmed that:
"Proposals for a new cinema and restaurant development at the heart of Eltham town centre have taken a step forward. The Royal Borough of Greenwich's cabinet voted in favour of proceeding with a planning application to turn a key council-owned building into a cinema complex.

Leading cinema operators have already expressed an interest in the former Co-op department store, which was purchased by the Royal Borough last year. The building is situated in the middle of the High Street and is the focus of proposals to stimulate the local high-street economy and in particular to encourage more residents and visitors to the town during the evening.

The borough held discussions with community representatives about the best possible uses for the building before putting the cinema complex proposal forward."

It went on to say that:
"The cinema proposal is part of a masterplan for Eltham town centre that aims to promote economic growth by developing key sites and making improvements to the area" and that
"The next step is for the council to submit a planning application for this proposal."

The "Eltham Town Centre Masterplan Supplementary Planning Document", which was adopted in April 2012, is available to view or download here.

The only reference I can find in that Masterplan is in Section 10. on St Mary's Place:

"The buildings to the west of Sainsbury’s should be reconfigured for leisure and entertainment uses, such as a cinema, to enable the opening up of the supermarket frontage." (on p23)

So we'll have to wait for the Council's planning application to see any more details about this proposal.

Link to the News Shopper article (22.11.13) on the approval. 

Previous to these latest plans, there had been hopes that a cinema would return to the old Coronet site where an Odeon cinema operated, from 1936 to 1981, and then as an independent until 1999. However a cinema was ruled out and a gym, Kinesis, approved earlier this year which opened there earlier this month. 

I'm curious to see how the cinema will be made a successful venture when so many smaller suburban cinemas have closed. There was one in Sidcup high street until that closed in recent years (we saw American Beauty there...). Will it go for blockbusters or art films, and would there be enough of a market for either? I guess the type of cinema operator will be key here. I do hope it's a success - it would be great to have a library, swimming pool and cinema all within walking distance.

UPDATE: The plans are now available to view online. A decision will be made by a council planning board at a date yet to be set.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Eltham Lights Up 2013 - photos

View down Eltham High Street of an illuminated pirate ship approaching (from ?Treasure Island), with primary school children parading behind in the lantern procession.

A beautiful Fairy Godmother on stilts, from a nearby pantomime perhaps...

Two Georgian men wandering around Eltham High Street

A primary school group enthusiastically drums its way along the parade

and to finish, the spectacular fireworks, as ever, from the roof of M&S

Very well done to the organisers. It's a great event for children, families and the community generally to get together for some fun.

Eltham Lights Up 2013

My photo from the 2009 parade
It's Eltham Lights Up tonight, from 4-7pm, in Eltham High Street. 

There'll be the lantern parade, switching on of the Christmas lights, entertainment on a stage near the St Mary's Centre, fireworks and late night shopping,  This year's event celebrates the works of local author Edith Nesbitt, of Railway Children fame.

Eltham High Street will be closed during this time.

My son took part with his primary school last year, but this year we'll be spectating, watching my younger nephew.

More details here on the Royal Greenwich website.

My write-up, with photos of the previous years' events:

Eltham Lights Up 2011
Eltham Lights Up 2010
Eltham Lights up 2009

Saturday 16 November 2013

Sticker scam in Eltham

Photo taken by Eltham resident
Word has been out last few days about stickers which are being stuck on front doors of houses in Eltham. The stickers, which advertise a fake locksmith, are apparently stuck on houses to identify them as potential target houses to burgle.

The local police team, @MPSElthamNthSgt, tweeted yesterday: "It seems that the stickers are popping up all round Eltham, mostly Progress Est. We've warned Trading standards & the council"

Keen tweeters have been reporting sightings of these stickers and brought them to the attention of local police. One was praised: "...That was due to all you spreading the word after I posted about it yesterday! We didn't realise how many houses were effected."

Wandsworth Council have also spotted this worrying practice in their area and posted about it last Thursday on their website at

Tweeters have speculated on the seemingly large number of houses which seems to have been stickered and that we must have a very busy group of burglars.Others have speculated on quite how it all works.

But, reassuringly, local police this morning tweeted "These stickers being placed on doors are v. suspicious but don't be too worried, we've only had 3 residential burglaries this month!" 

The Eltham Safer Neighbourhood Team have distributed this notice, as posted by the Greenwich University SU:

Various residents in Eltham and the nearby area have found a small silver sticker above their front doorbells which states ‘24/7 Locksmith 0203 582 8175’.

This appears to be happening across the London and the South East. The stickers are also being put above letterboxes. The number on the stickers is a fake number and should not be called, it is believed the stickers indicate the houses to be possibly targeted for burglaries.

If you have any concerns, have seen a sticker or have any information please feel free to contact the Eltham Safer Neighborhood Team on 0208 721 2636.
More updates - links:
 Press reports now in:
-  Evening Standard about the scam in Wandsworth (18.11.13)
-  The Telegraph ditto (18.11.13)
-  itv News (19.11.13)
(though these read as if in response to the same press release)

- News Shopper: “Burglary scare inspires Bexley Good Samaritan to remove fake locksmith stickers” (19.11.13)
 - Metropolitan Police: Greenwich News: "Locksmiths stickers and burglary in your area" (19.11.13)

Friday 20 September 2013

Open House in Eltham

The annual free celebration of London's architecture takes place this weekend, 21-22 September. I picked up this booklet a few weeks ago at the Eltham Leisure Centre where one of the librarians gingerly admitted he had just 'had a delivery' that morning and upon my enquiry handed one over.

There are so many goodies London-wide to visit that in fact it is a shame it all takes place over just one weekend because it would be impossible to do more than scratch the surface. Devotees have, of course, been pouring over the programme for weeks and will have made their bookings ages ago of the most popular and rare places. In fact some are so popular the visitors are even picked by ballot - this year there are four buildings which were run on a ballot system: 10 Downing Street, The View from The Shard, EDF Energy London Eye and Gray's Inn.

The listings in the booklet are organised by borough. There's loads for Greenwich and our neighbouring boroughs, Lewisham and Bexley. You can search through the listings online here. For now, I'll just run through the Eltham entries - click on the headings for more Open House information about timings etc:

Severndroog Castle

Severndroog CastleCastle Wood, Shooters Hill, SE18 3RT, London, England
Grade II* listed triangular brick Georgian tower with Gothic windows. Standing 63ft tall in woodlands it offers spectacular views across the capital. …



Tudor Barn and Gardens

Tudor Barn and GardensWell Hall Pleasaunce, Well Hall Road, SE9 6SZ, London, England
16C restored barn set in grounds with Medieval moat, only surviving building from 'Well Hall', home to Margaret Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas …

Eltham LodgeRoyal Blackheath Golf Club, Court Road, SE9 5AF, London, England
Grade I listed Caroline mansion built for Sir John Shaw. Refurbished 18C with fine plaster, ceilings and staircase. Club house of Royal Blackheath …

 p.s. An eagle-eyed reader has pointed out that Crown Woods College is also open tomorrow through the Open House scheme. The official Open London booklet has it listed under Bexley. So, here are the details:

Crown Woods College
145 Bexley Road, Eltham, SE9 2PT, London, England

Crown Woods College
9-form entry secondary school, opened in 2011, organised in three colleges or 'schools within a school'. The architects were inspired by Thomas Jefferson's plan for the University of Virginia which has an open colonnade connecting college buildings around a large central landscaped area. Civic Trust Awards Commended and RIBA Award Winner 2012.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Eltham Women's Institute

Following a link recently, I landed on the smart website of the Catford Women's Institute. It meets monthly at the St Laurence Centre in Bromley Road, Catford. It seems very active with talks, events and trips - including one in April on 'Glass Fusion Art'. So a far cry from jam and cakes (though nothing wrong with that of course...).

There's no denying that WIs had a bit of a fusty image but the organisation has undergone a bit of a rejuvenation in recent years. Of course there was that calendar in 1999, later a film, and the slow hand clapping of Tony Blair. The WI is getting involved in many campaigns too e.g against library closures and legal aid reforms. Branches are popping up everywhere and they are being claimed by modern, young women in an urban setting too - for example, there's even a branch at nearby 'radical' Goldsmiths, University of London (Goldsmith’s WI on Facebook).

With over 6,500 branches nationwide, it made me wonder whether Eltham had a Women's Institute?

According to the WI site there's an 'Eltham Palace' branch listed which meets at
St Mary's Community Hall in Eltham and also a 'Royal Eltham' branch meeting at the United Reformed Church Hall, Court Road, Eltham. Though I haven't been able to find websites for either.

There was an interesting article in SENine magazine in 2010 about a rejuvenation of the Women's Institute in Eltham (though the venue info given there conflicts with the current WI site info - I presume the latter would be the most up to date). Happy to list up-to-date contact details if anyone wants to get in touch.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Trying to find a free copy of the local NewShopper?

I know we're all online now but if you prefer something to flick through and if you don't get a delivery of your local NewShopper, I've just seen that you can apparently pick up a free copy of the Lewisham edition at the following places around Eltham:

Robinson & Jackson, 2/4 Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 5PZ
Bernard Skinner, 22 Well Hall Road, Eltham, SE9 6SF
David Evans, 20 Well Hall Road, Eltham, SE9 6SF
Key Locations, 18 Well Hall Road, Eltham, SE9 6SF
Your Move, 8 Well Hall Road, Eltham, SE9 6SF
Harrison Ingram, 156 Well Hall Road, Eltham, SE9 6SN

More information on other pick up sites and editions on their website here.

Friday 21 June 2013

New Cross on a wet Sunday

Random photo time...
Dropped into the Goldsmiths Undergraduate Art degree exhibition last Sunday and got the opportunity to take this shot from the Ben Pimlott Building (yes, the building with the big metal scribble on the roof). It looks out over where New Cross Road meets St James's on one side, and Goodwood Road on the other. The back of the old Deptford Town Hall building, currently scaffolded, is visible on the right edge, with the Shard and its tall London skyline comrades in the distance:
Later we ambled down to the building which was formerly the St James's Church, but more latterly has been used for other purposes. Now it is owned by Goldsmiths and part of the art exhibition was housed in it. I was struck by the stained glass window, located behind where I imagine the original alter was:

Sunday 16 June 2013

Medieval Jousting at Eltham Palace

The 'Grand Medieval Joust' at Eltham Palace has been splendid this weekend. We visited on Saturday 15 June and, in addition to the central event of the actual joust, were able to enjoy some of the stalls of medieval artifacts and life from that period generally. 
There was an very realistic medieval camp 'enactment' where my husband wasn't sure whether he was walking into some of the 'medieval actors' private lunchtime or whether they were acting out a medieval dinner party, complete with drunken nobleman. Turned out it was the latter! The archery expert at his stall was excellent - I now know more about bows than I could ever imagine (there are ideally made of Mediterranean yew, don't you know...). He referred very knowledgeably to the various historical sources used for evidence eg. the Luttrell Psalter (''...a celebrated manuscript, commissioned by a wealthy landowner in the first half of the 14th century, is one of the most striking to survive from the Middle Ages. Painted in rich colours embellished with gold and silver, with vitality and sometimes bizarre inventiveness of decoration, this manuscript is unlike virtually any other...' British Library).
My son took part in the 'Children's Battle' where they are trained in expert fighting with foam swords and in tricky moves which need to be accompanied by periodic cries of 'Choppy, choppy' or 'Stabby, stabby'. Elsewhere a display of Medieval Falconry was taking place. We stayed in our seats in the event field for the Grand Medieval Joust at 12pm where four knights, resplendent in armour, and heraldry, arrived with great pomp on their horses. The crowd were encouraged to support either the blue, gold, green or red knight and wave their flags. The microphoned scoring was professionally done with explanations given before the start. The excellent jester (who we have seen at other English Heritage events) wandered about echoing the scores to the crowd with hand gestures - his gesture for '1' was erm...interesting.
Unfortunately the heavens opened half way through the Joust, despite the compere imploring us that the English should not be so concerned by a bit of precipitation, after all we are not French! Nevertheless, we English rather wimpily scarpered to under the shelter of the nearby big tree, pushchairs, rugs and sandwiches all gathered up and bundled away. Later, we ended up in the obligatory gift tent, where actually there are some rather good things for children - this archer on a horse has taken pride of place on my son's shelf.

Our English Heritage membership was well worthwhile again - our family of four gaining entry for £5.50 instead of the £31 for non-members. We look forward to the next event.

Some excellent photos here of the day:

Monday 13 May 2013

ParksFest 2013 events around Eltham

For more information about these venues and about many other ParksFest events around the borough - see the ParksFest 2013 website.

Thursday 28 March 2013

'20 Years on after Stephen Lawrence's death': British Future debate in Eltham

David Lammy MP sitting on left; Deborah Mattinson standing
On Wednesday 27 March, British Future and Britain Thinks held a citizens’ jury and debate in Eltham, at Eltham's new Harris Academy (formerly Eltham Green school) "to help to ensure that local voices are heard during our national conversations about how Britain changed since 1993."
The panel included two backbencher MPs, Conservative MP Gavin Barwell and Labour MP David Lammy, as well as 'public attitudes specialist' Deborah Mattinson to discuss public attitudes and proposals from the workshop.

There was a thoughtful essay by way of preview to the event posted by Sunder Katwala, Director of British Future, here who co-incidentally has also lived in Eltham. "...Living in Eltham when the inquiry reported, I remember how the media coverage seemed to me to only capture part of the story. It was important to see justice done. But that should never depend on choosing whether to deny the existence of racism or stereotype white working-class communities instead...."

BBC 4's Today programme reported on the Eltham Harris Academy event the next morning - link to the 8 minute report by Mike Thomson here (starting at 2.44.30 secs in). There are also some tweets about the event by British Future at @britishfuture.
British Future have released this short video from the debate MPs

Here's my quick notes from listening to the Today programme this morning:

....Stephen Lawrence's killing in 1993 is an unavoidable reference point in any conversation about race in Britain....the British Future event brought together two generations to discuss how much has changed in Eltham since the then (although attributed the Harris Academy to 'Greenwich' rather than Eltham)....

Deborah Mattinson moderated discussions of one group, 17-18 yr olds (?). Reporter refers to the 1999 MacPherson enquiry which found the police to be "institutionally racist" but says that "few believe that's true today". One of the young people says that "it's fear or ignorance rather than racism", that's how he likes to view things. Others believe the levels of racism in Eltham have been exaggerated and now there is more of a mix of races and cultures in Eltham which has helped improve the situation. There are references to a 'groundswell of youth who are disengaged from society'....

The 'top vote' on what to propose was for a need for 'more practical learning' - should be able to do things like 'plumbing' and not just 'geography'. Gavin Barwell MP promised to take this back to his 'boss' Michael Gove.

The report finishes by asking whether "this gathering will prove to be anything more than well-intentioned hot air?" Patrick Carswell (?) concludes "that's up to the residents of Eltham".

Thursday 14 March 2013

'Born in Lewisham Hospital' 16 March, 2pm

As well as supporting our Lewisham neighbours in any event, this is important to Greenwich borough residents too. Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, the alternative posed, is very far for many ill or pregnant Lewisham residents. QE Hospital would become very pressurised for all users, even more than it already is.

More on the Save Lewisham Hospital website.

Interesting list of people born in Lewisham Hospital on the Transpontine blog.

Friday 8 March 2013

Join the Wrens!

Random photo time...

Join the Wrens
We still need you

As a loose connection to International Women's Day, a poster from our trip to HMS Belfast last November (which also contains an in-joke for family...)

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Be a local tourist in Eltham: Sunday 24 March 2013

From the Royal Greenwich website:

'Be a Local Tourist Day' in Eltham offers a host of free activities from tours and historical adventures to musical entertainment at Eltham landmarks. Locals can explore the hidden gems on their doorsteps and visitors from further afield are welcome to discover new treasures in this historic town.
This is an annual event and will be held on Sunday 24 March this year. Highlights include:
  • Eltham Palace
  • the Bob Hope Theatre
  • St John the Baptist Church
  • the fire station
  • The Lodge, home of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club
  • Spring Wedding Fayre at the Well Hall Pleasaunce
  • discounts and promotions at local shops
Download and print the Be a Local Tourist flyer to enjoy the offers. The flyer is also available from Greenwich Tourist Information Centre.

Further information

For more information contact the Tourist Information Centre on 0870 608 2000 or email

Sunday 3 March 2013

Folly, medieval bridge or cattle screen?

 View from the 1st floor of Lion pub
We had lunch at The Lion pub today, set on the River Darent, at Farningham, Kent. It's a Vintage Inn pub and very cosy it was too. Roaring fireplace, welcoming staff and a nice menu including the usual roasts and even a 'beetroot strudel' for veggies. The 18thC pub is in a lovely setting, with lawns and seating right up to the river where our children have happily waded before in the summer and apparently Charles Dickens has fished for trout. The Lion's staff apparently "could change a team of horses in three minutes!" The 13thC St Peter and St Paul's church can be seen in the background.

I was intrigued though by this old structure in the stretch of river outside the pub. Historians disagree what it is - is is a remnant of an old bridge? A wealthy man showing off? Is it an old cattle screen preventing cattle from wander down the shallow stream?

There is a board next to the structure which usefully tells us: "It is thought to have been built between 1740 and 1770 although the exact date is unknown. The structure is unique and its purpose has been puzzled over. Once thought to be a folly or the remains of the north side of a medieval bridge, the structure is in all probability a cattle screen, built to prevent cattle wandering downstream whilst crossing the ford.

The Farningham screen is the only one in the country to have been constructed in such an ornate way and would probably have been built whilst the Hanger family owned Farningham Manor...."

There's some interesting information here too by a rambler.

Saturday 2 March 2013

"Hurry with the curry" says Eltham MP Clive Efford

My mother's homemade keema and aubergine and potato
Our local MP, Clive Efford, invites you to nominate your favourite south asian restaurant in Eltham for the 2013 Tiffin Cup. As explained further on his website:

"Clive Efford has launched the search for the best Indian or South Asian restaurant in his constituency.

The Tiffin Cup, now in its eighth year, celebrates the best of South Asian cuisine and offers people an opportunity to celebrate the rich variety of flavours served in restaurants up and down the country.
Members of Parliament are asked to nominate the most popular South Asian restaurant in their constituencies – and Clive is asking for help from local residents.

So if you’re keen on a korma, delight in a dhansak or love a lassi then this is a chance for you to choose your favourite local curry house......

To nominate your favourite South Asian restaurant either email Clive at or visit Nominations have to be in by March 28th, so hurry with the curry."

Hmmm..."keen on a korma, delight in a dhansak or love a lassi" Nothing like a bit of alliteration...

It is about time this blog, considering its name and the fact that it is written by a Brit-Asian, tackled the local 'Indian' restaurants (of course many are Bangladeshi, a different country, people). So, who are the candidates in Eltham? Here's my list of Indian restaurants in Eltham:

7 Newmarket Green
Eltham, London, SE9 5ER.  020 8850 3591
377 Well Hall Road
Eltham, London, SE9 6TY.  020 8856 3777
[one of our regulars...]
The Cafe Raj
69 Well Hall Road
Eltham, London, SE9 6SZ.   
020 8294 2494
52 Eltham High St
Eltham, London, SE9 1BT.   020 8850 6578
220 Eltham High St
Eltham, London, SE9 1BA.   020 8859 4213

Moonlight Tandoori
3 Tudor Parade, London, SE9 6SY.   020 8859 4994
97 Westmount Road
Eltham, London, SE9 1XX.   020 8859 3300
267 Eltham High Street
Eltham, London, SE9 1TY.    
020 8850 8022
[used to go here years ago]

86 Eltham High St, London SE9 1BW.  
020 8850 2626
[one of the newer, more up market additions...]

Have I missed any? Who are your favourites? I'll reveal mine all in good time, before the deadline...

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Eltham Mini Club

It seems Eltham has its own Mini car club:

"Based In South East London Eltham, We Welcome all mini's from 1959 to present, Join Us For Meets, Cruises and mini events (London2Brighton, Ace cafe...etc)"

More here:

Sounds fun. Can't help but think of the Italian Job film. Who knew its soundtrack film was composed by Quincy Jones...

Sunday 10 February 2013

Happy New Chinese Year

Having set out on the seemingly impossible task of going out for a Chinese meal, on Chinese New Year, without having booked, we ended up having a lovely meal at the China Noodle off Eltham High Street.

Admittedly, it wasn't first on our list, as we worked our way down the 'fully bookeds', and those not answering. And so we ended up ringing the China Noodle a little hesitantly since the last time we had eaten there well over a decade ago was not a wholly good experience. The place has changed hands since though.

The children were set on a Chinese meal and so off we trouped into the hard rain. It's not the most glamorous of settings, inside or out. Elm Terrace was known over a decade ago as the site of one of Greenwich's leisure centres. In my young, free and single days I would trot down there, meeting my exercise buddy Chris, for various classes, including my favourite 'funk aerobics' on a Sunday morning (that came to an abrupt end when the instructor got a part in a west end show and danced off into the fame and fortune sunset). That Centre was flattened long ago with the land wasting away all this time although today I saw some hopeful looking piles of breeze blocks and stuff - maybe something is happening there. But I digress down memory lane...

I'd recommend the China Noodle for its food and value, as long as you can put up with the plastic tablecloths and power ballads soundtrack. We had the set menu at £13.50 per person (we only needed to order three of these for our party of 2 adults and 2 children). It's one of those menus where the food just keeps on coming in different courses. (p.s. it's cash only, no cards)

So Kung Hei Fat Choi to those celebrating the Chinese New Year.

China Noodle
21-22 Elm Terrace
London SE9 5DW
Tel: 020 8850 8660

Friday 8 February 2013

Eltham's Young Voices at the O2

Thousands of primary school children sang their hearts out again at the O2 on 28 January. My daughter is one of the kids in this photo (blue section!) attending as part of her school choir. YouTube clip here of their fantastic pop medley. It's part of the Young Voices series of concerts.

More detailed write up of last year's performance here when a world record was broken for the largest backing choir in the world!