The photo above was taken a few evenings ago on Erith Pier - it shows the view looking Westwards, towards London. You can clearly see the large concrete grain silos further up river - they are part of the giant ADM Oils factory, which has a huge processing facility in Church Manorway, which employs nearly 1,200 local people. It originally started up in 1908, when it was known as Erith Oil Works – the business then was similar to now; they crush and process all kinds of seeds, to extract their natural oils, which are used in foodstuffs, cooking oils, low fat spreads and animal feeds. The seeds, then as now are brought upriver in large bulk freighter ships. The distinctive huge concrete silos that are still present on the ADM site were constructed in 1916, where they are some of the earliest surviving examples of reinforced concrete construction in the UK. They were constructed by Danish structural engineering company Christiani and Neilsen, who invented reinforced concrete construction techniques. The silos were the site of an explosion on the 19th of June, when around 40 firefighters, police and two air ambulances were called to the scene at Church Manorway. The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, but ADM confirmed to reporters that at approximately 9am an explosion occurred at the extraction area of its oilseed crushing plant located in Erith. ADM is one of the largest employers in the area, but it is far from the only industry in the local area. The earliest recorded industrial company established in Erith was a timber importing business called W.R Crow and Son, which was set up way back in 1795! I will feature more on the history of Erith and the surrounding area in the future. The best reference work on the local history of the town was the four part “A History of Erith”, written by John A. Pritchard, which is now out of print. It was originally written in 1965, and substantially updated and revised in 1989, when it was reprinted. I have not seen a work since which is a patch on this venerable publication. Another firm that was established on the riverfront at Erith was Herbert W. Clarke and Sons, which was set up in 1890. They started out as barge owners and lighter men, but by 1911 they took over Anchor Bay Wharf, which until then had been owned by Eastern and Anderson. As soon as Herbert W. Clarke and Sons took possession of the wharf, they formed a new import and export business, which mainly exported coal to Holland and Belgium. Nearby was a company called Mayer Newman and Co. who were engaged in the scrap metal business – the scrap yard still exists today. It is now called European Metal Recycling, but is still in the same location in Manor Road. Further East along Manor Road was a truly massive factory and works owned by Turner’s Asbestos Cement Co. Ltd. The site covered a little over forty three acres; by 1912 the company pioneered the development of asbestos roofing material, and also produced a wide range of guttering, piping and fireproof insulation material, as well as a lot of other components for the building industry. We are still living with the legacy of this today; many old buildings need to have specialist demolition contractors to remove Turner’s asbestos building products, as the dust asbestos produces when cut or abraded is severely poisonous. I think if the company was still around today, they would have been sued into bankruptcy – but of course, around a century ago, nobody was any the wiser. Another world renowned company that had a base in Erith were Royal Doulton, who had an extensive factory located just off Church Manorway. They made salt glazed piping and tiling. Royal Doulton also made their fine china in Erith, when experimental designs were produced that depicted local scenes as their decoration. These pieces are now rare and extremely collectible. I recall seeing one piece featured on “Antiques Roadshow” some years ago. Erith has been the historical home to many other manufacturers over the years, some of which are still in existence.
Now here is a bit of a test for you. The photo above was taken early last week, and it shows a couple of cottages in the local area; can you identify exactly where they are? No prizes - just a bit of fun; if you think that you know the answer, Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One regular Maggot Sandwich reader, and occasional contributor Daniel read my piece last week on DAB / DAB+ radio, and its history and technical shortcomings. He contacted me in the week, and has written the following guest article. Daniel writes:- "I was an early adopter of DAB, when it first launched in the mid 90s, I purchased a Technics DAB tuner from Kimberleys HiFi in the Broadway costing around £400, seemingly the only alternative to those hideous wooden ikea looking radios of that time. The claims and boasts about DAB were that there would be more room for many hundreds of new stations and that the audio signal would be superior to FM, Having rigged up the thing into my expensive hifi system I soon discovered that the natty ribbon ariel supplied with the tuner was hopeless and that a roof mounted DAB aerial would be needed, after much searching (pre internet by the way) a specialist ariel supplier had just started selling this new accessory. After hoisting the thing to my chimney stack on the roof and fiddling with the yagi direction, I was pleasantly surprised with the audio quality, Classic fm seemed to have the greatest bit rate transmission, all stations bitrate were displayed in the screen of the tuner. As time passed and more stations joined the wavelength, its true that bitrate became more and more compressed and DAB was formally downgraded to 'almost as good as FM' and as you rightly pointed out, many stations have resorted to mono and as for choice, well they're nearly all churning out the same top 40 shite. I consider that Hifi enthusiasts or audiophiles like myself are very much in the minority, folks are more interested in the picture quality of their TV with such built in obsolescence, the latest must have ever increasing picture quality is what people strive for, pictures so real that you might end up with detached retinas. Stereophonic wizardry with incredible separation between left and right channels, which went into music production is almost outdated now, the youth of the day are content to listen to their music with just one ear connected, so it just might as well be in mono, if you listen to Bohemian Rhapsody with just one ear you really will literally only hear half of the song. coupled with the compression of MP3 bitrate and its no wonder that hifi is in decline. A radio engineer friend of mine working for Global summed it up beautifully DAB - Dead And Buried". What do you think of Daniel's thoughts? Email me at email@example.com.
The upper of the two images above was sent to me by Ian, the webmaster of The Belvedere Splash Facebook group - it shows a poster advertising a double bill of Beatles films which were shown in what was then called the Classic cinema in Erith. The lower of the two photos above was taken in May 1985, and shows the old Art Deco Erith Odeon cinema, which by that time had been converted into a Mecca Bingo hall Built for the Oscar Deutsch chain of Odeon Theatres Ltd., the Odeon Theatre was opened on 26th February 1938 with Barbara Stanwyck in "Stella Dallas". Located on the corner of High Street and Avenue Road, the huge frontage was entirely covered in faiance tiles, broken only by long narrow window, just above the canopy. To the left of the facade was a striking sweptback 65 feet high fin-tower, which became a landmark in the town centre. Inside the streamlined Art Deco style auditorium, seating was provided for 826 in the stalls and 420 in the circle. On each side of the proscenium were panels with horizontal bands, that were back-lit. There were a series of decorative plaster bands along the ceiling towards the proscenium, which were broken only by a laylight fitting in the centre of the ceiling. Oscar Deutsch’s cinemas were the most exotic architecture in many British towns and cities. Oscar Deutsch was the Birmingham-born son of a Jewish scrap metal worker who had emigrated from Hungary. By the time he died from cancer at just 48 years old, he had opened a total of 258 cinemas across the UK. the name of the cinema chain came from “Odeon”. It was an ancient Greek word meaning “singing place” – and Deutsch and his team decided it wasn’t too exotic to risk alienating the British cinema going public. The Odeon was taken over by the independent Classic Cinemas Ltd. chain on 10th December 1967, and was re-named Classic Cinema. From 1971. The Classic Cinema was twinned from 16th September 1973, with a 1,000 seat Mecca Bingo Club operating in the former stalls area, and a 400 seat cinema in the former circle, which opened with Glenda jackson in "A Touch of Class". Classic Cinemas leased the entire building to Mecca Ltd. from 3rd January 1974, and the cinema was re-named Mecca Cinema. The Mecca Cinema was closed on 25th September 1976 with Robin Askwith in "Confessions of a Driving Instructor" and Anthony Sharp in "House of Mortal Sin". The building was de-twinned and the Mecca Bingo Club took over the stalls and circle levels from November 1976. In 1995, it was taken over by the independent Jasmine Bingo Club chain, and was closed on 4th February 1996. The building was boarded-up and lay unused until late-2002, when it was demolished. A block of retail units and flats was built on the site in 2005.
Regular readers will know that I have been banging on about IT security issues for a very long time. I am especially concerned by contactless debit cards, as they are notoriously insecure - this has been highlighted by the current pandemic situation - many retailers are encouraging contactless payment, as they are concerned about Covid-19 virus spreading on banknotes (and also they are using the infection as an excuse to stop handling cash by the backdoor, as businesses get charged for handing cash by the banks). The situation now seems to have got worse, as a criminal group have commercialised the card cracking process, and it can now be bought online. A criminal group going under the name of The CC Buddies is selling a high tech device on the Dark Web that is capable of copying details from contactless debit cards if held as close as fifteen centimetres away from a victim's card. CC Buddies claim that their device, named Contactless Infusion X6, can copy up to 15 bank cards per second, something that may come in handy if a crook is going through a crowd at a concert or is in a crowded tube carriage. X6 is designed to copy data from the radio chip embedded in modern RFID contactless bank cards. This data is stored on X6's internal storage system, and thieves can connect the device to their PC using USB cables and transfer it using special software, also supplied by CC Buddies. The device can collect data such as the card's number and expiration date. If the debit cards RFID chip stores information such as the card holder’s name, home address, and a mini statement, X6 can steal that data as well. When it copies credit card numbers, X6 encrypts the data. The software provided by CC Buddies will allow the crooks to decrypt and download the stolen information from their X6 device to a Windows 10 PC, and start creating fake debit cards using blank plastic cards. Crooks can get their hands on an X6 device for only 1.2 Bitcoin (around $900). CC Buddies says they ship devices via mail, and each buyer will receive the X6 device, a USB cable for charging and data transfers, and 20 blank cards. Below are X6's technical specifications, as provided by CC Buddies in their Dark Web advert, at the time of writing. “The Contactless Infusion X6 is the first contactless bank card hacker sold in the black market. This product has been designed and developed by The CC Buddies. The Contactless Infusion X6 is capable to detect and read ANY bank card from just 15 centimetres away! And reading at an amazing 1024kbps this powerful contactless reader will read and save at approximately 15 bank cards per second! The Contactless Infusion X6 has a built-in 5V battery charged via a USB 3.0 cable (provided). Takes approximately 3 hours to fully charge and it will last up to 10 hours in constant use. It’s also capable to read many other cards! Any card that is running on a 13.56mhz frequency, the Contactless Infusion X6 is able to read, and capture the data! But because the software we provide has been developed specifically to decrypt bank cards it won’t be able to decrypt any other cards, but we’re working on it and soon it will!!” This is all very worrying stuff. Personally I avoid all contactless cards - they are more trouble than they are worth in my opinion. What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:- "Good News for Barnehurst Residents, there have been no reported burglaries during the past week. We have received a report of a theft of motor vehicle which occurred in Heath Way between Friday 3/07/2020 and Sunday 5/07/2020. This vehicle was a white Ford Transit van registration number HK63 XGZ and has not since been recovered. We have also just been made aware of an Incident that occurred on Saturday 4/07/2020 at approximately 1700 hours whereby a male was seen to be exposing his private parts in the vicinity of Barnehurst Golf Course / Open space. The male was described as being tall, slim, fair skinned, very fair blonde hair, blue eyes and approximate age of being in his twenties wearing light blue striped shorts. The male also had a bicycle with him. If you should ever come across an Incident of this nature please contact Police immediately". Belvedere ward;-"There has been another spate of thefts from mailboxes on the Belvedere Park Estate. Recently we have been made aware that a male has been seen to put their hand into the mailboxes of Moyle House and take some mail. He has also been seen in Exmoor House looking into the mailboxes. We are making enquiries into the male to identify him. Please be vigilant, close the communal doors and do not let anyone into the blocks unless you know who they are! Issues with the HMO in Barnfield Road (top end) have started again. Potential drug dealing from one of the flats inside it with noise and ASB being caused. Any issues or if anything suspicious is seen or heard please report on 101 or contact the team. Information will be kept confidential. Recently a loose dog attacked another dog in Lesness Abbey park. When two people tried to break up the dogs it bit them. The dog has been apprehended and is currently in the kennels. An investigation is underway to establish the owner of the dog and to the dogs fate". Bexleyheath ward:-"Thursday 2/07/20 0400 Vehicle Interference Pelham Road - Nothing taken Alarm woke occupant and door on car left open. Saturday 4/07/20 0155 Theft Of Motor Vehicle Belvedere Road - Mercedes Stolen off of Drive Way Keyless Entry. Saturday 4/07/20 1500 – 05/07/20 1300 Theft Of Electric Scooter Grove Road. Monday 6/07/20 1600 – 07/07/20 1700 Theft From Motor Vehicle The Mall car park. Number Plates Stolen. Tuesday 7/07/20 1400 – 1530 Theft From Motor Vehicle Asda car park - Catalytic Convertor Stolen. Tuesday 7/07/20 0000 – 1100 Theft From Motor Vehicle Heversham Road - Number Plates Stolen. Please do continue to report any crimes as this helps us to target where out patrols take place. It appears that number plates are being stolen again and also Catalytic Convertors please be vigilant where you are parking and back into spaces to make things difficult for criminal". Crayford ward:-"Unfortunately a burglary was reported in this last week. It occurred between 15th June and 1st July in Medway Road. Entry was made by the back door but no force was used and tools were stolen from the kitchen area, the property is currently empty. Criminal damage was caused to a black BMW EN16 DTV whilst parked at Church Hill on 1st July at 21.50. A white Ford van HF63 VXP was stolen between 23.30 on 4th July and 8.30 on the 5th July from Maiden Lane, it is a rental vehicle with a tracker, last known to be in the Greenhithe area. I was made aware yesterday of a telephone scam. An elderly resident had a phone call from a male who said he was a police officer and wanted to speak to her with regard to COVID-19 and whether she was able to go out shopping, he gave a name and warrant number. She was actually waiting on an urgent call and the male said he would call her again later in the day. Her friend with her believed it to be a scam. I checked the name and “warrant number” given and it was totally false. If someone phones or visits and says they are a police officer and you are not sure, take their name and warrant number, you can always call 101 for verification, a genuine police officer will not mind. Please be wary, never give any passwords, pin numbers or other personal information, don't allow couriers to collect your bank/credit cards, protect your identity. Further information about scams is available by going to www.met.police.uk, go to Advice and Information > Fraud, it is possible to download The Little Book of Big Scams, there is an audio version available too". Erith ward - no report this week. Northumberland Heath ward:- "Unfortunately there has been two reports of theft of Artificial grass stolen from the front of two properties including Parsonage Manor Way and Eastry Road. There has been a report of a stolen childs bike stolen from a communal shed on Bexley Road . The informant has recently seen this bike being ridden around the local area on Bexley Road by a young white male aged approximately 12/14 years of aged . The childs bike has recently been painted silver but was originally pink in colour . Also displays ‘WICKED ‘on the seat . If seen in the local area please either contact the local policing team or contact 101. The team are also working hard on local ASB issues around Wheelock Close, Streamway and Steele Walk. Regular patrols are being completed. With some bars and pubs reopening please consider looking after yourself , be respectful to staff and others and follow government guidelines".
"It has come to our attention that the attached sticker is an old one that Heart UK used to use and if items are left out they will not go to the charity. We are aware that they have been put through doors in Okehampton Crescent, Welling, but unsure if they have been delivered elsewhere. Intersecond used to do the door to door collections for Heart UK up to about 18 months ago, but they are now iCollect and are online only. If people wish to donate to Heart UK then they can go to iCollectClothes.co.uk and book a collection. Angel of Mercy now do the door to door for Heart UK but only in Birmingham". Slade Green and Northend ward:- "No burglaries reported in the last week and no other crime trends happening. Please remember that Slade Green Big Local Food Bank is open from around 9am until 6pm each day (except Sunday) at St Augustine's church hall. The food bank does not require vouchers and asks no questions. You can also pop along to donate any food items etc. keep an eye out on their Facebook page for more details and you can also volunteer to help if you are in a position to do so". Thamesmead East ward:- "No burglaries this week, however continue to remain vigilant at all times. On Wednesday 01/07/20 between the approximate hours of 08:00 am and 4; 20 pm a vehicle was left parked in Bazalgette Way. During the above times the vehicle was broken into and tools were stolen. Extensive damage to the vehicle door and panels. In the same location and around the same date and time another vehicle had the rear door damaged and opened resulting in tools stolen. Between the hours of 6:00 pm on Friday 03/07/20 and 8:30 am on Saturday 04/07/20 a vehicle locked, secure and parked on the drive of a property in St. Andrews Close was broken into, a wallet containing cash and bank cards were stolen. A vehicle parked in Alsike Road near to Buckwheat Court was stolen between the hours of 10:00 pm on Sunday 05/07/20 and 11;30 am on Monday 06/07/20. How to avoid keyless car theft With growing numbers of cars being stolen via keyless theft, we look at the steps you can take to keep your car safe. What is keyless theft? The process criminals use to steal a car via keyless theft – also known as relay theft – is relatively simple, although some fairly high-tech gadgets are needed to execute the crime. First, they buy a relay amplifier and a relay transmitter; these electronic gizmos can be purchased from the darker corners of the internet. Next, they identify a house with a nice car parked outside and, by using these gadgets, can detect whether the car features keyless entry and start.Storing your key in a Faraday bag, lined with layers of metallic material, is the way to foil them and keep your car safe. The key needs to be placed inside the bag from the moment you plip the locks. If large enough, it can also be used for a mobile phone and credit cards to prevent hacking and fraud". West Heath ward:-"One report of a burglary in Lodge Hill on Friday July 3rd between 2030 – 21.00. The victim returned home to find her door open. And a number of designer items stolen along with an IPad. The victim was able to trace the iPad via a tracker and it lead to an address in Plumstead. The investigation is currently ongoing. No vehicle crime to report. The team have been carrying out patrols both in plain clothes and uniform across the ward conducting stop and searches. As a result one arrest was made this week".
The end video below shows local Police patrolling on Erith Pier recently. I am not responsible for the poor spelling and grammar of the titling on the video. Any thoughts and feedback should come to me in the usual manner, by Emailing me at email@example.com.