Sunday, November 12, 2017

Back where they belong.


The photos above (click on any for a larger version) show the ongoing construction of the new apartment blocks and town houses on the site of the former Riverside Swimming Baths site, overlooking the Erith Riverside Gardens. The bottom of the three shows an artist's impression of what the development will look like when it is finally completed. The development is on behalf of the London and Quadrant Housing Association. I must admit that the apartment block does look somewhat taller than the artist's impression that was published back in February 2015. London and Quadrant have not advertised the new development yet, but I feel that the apartments and houses will sell very well when they are put on the market. The development has a lot going for it; amazing views of the Riverside Gardens and across the River Thames and into South Essex. It is in close proximity to Erith Railway Station, the main bus terminus, and of course Erith Riverside Shopping Centre. More on this as the development nears completion.

Radio Caroline started test transmissions on their new licenced frequency of 648 kHz in the Medium Wave band yesterday afternoon.  They will be broadcasting with an ERP of one thousand Watts to Suffolk and Norfolk, but with that much power and a clear channel, the signal can be recieved locally even on a relatively cheap portable radio. Early reception reports indicate the signal is getting into Northern France, Germany and parts of Poland; I expect it will not be long before the transmisisons are received in Scandinavia. If you would like to submit a reception report to the station's engineering team, then you can do so by clicking here. Personally I am glad to hear Radio Caroline back where she belongs on Medium Wave. If you want to see photos of my time on Radio Caroline out at sea on the radio ship Ross Revenge, back in 1989 and 1990, you can click here. Do feel free to leave a comment below, or Email me at hugh.neal@gmail.com.

I have recently watched the BBC 1 TV series "Gunpowder" - about the 1605 Gunpowder Plot. It was an enjoyable, if somewhat graphic account of the well - known story, and it featured American actress Liv Tyler in the role of Anne Vaux, who historically had close ties to the local area. Erith is thought by some historians from Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre to have played a pivotal role in The Gunpowder Plot; they indicated that their research showed that in the summer of 1605, Erith Manor House, which was located on what is now Erith High Street, was rented under a pseudonym by Anne Vaux, the daughter of Lord William Vaux, the head of one of the wealthiest and most prominent Catholic families in the country at the time. Anne Vaux was known to arrange for safe houses to be made available for Catholic priests to hide up and hold underground church services – Catholics were widely persecuted in England at the time. Erith Manor House was considered an ideal location for Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and the other plotters against the King to hide up, as it had, according to Catesbya secluded but convenient location” on the banks of the Thames, which had the added benefit of offering an easy escape route by boat, should the situation arise. What the plotters did not realise was that the intelligence service of the time was aware of them – spymaster Sir Anthony Standen, first assistant to Sir Francis Walsingham, who was then head of the English Secret Service, working directly for King James I, had broken up a plot (The Bye Plot – click here for more details) eighteen months before hand, and was now acutely aware that other Catholic activists had designs on the life of the Protestant monarch. Sir Anthony had informants all over the place, and soon became aware of the small group of men who were acting very suspiciously in and around Erith. Several of the plotters had also been seen in a number of taverns in Southwark, and it is possible that they were followed back to Erith, where their safe house was then discovered. When agents subsequently raided the house, the conspirators had already made their escape, and the place was deserted. Some of this is extrapolation from verified facts – it is certain that Anne Vaux did indeed rent Erith Manor House using the cover name Mrs Perkins, though it is not certain the Gunpowder Plotters did use it as their primary base of operations – there may well have been an underground church in the house, which in itself would have aroused suspicion. Unfortunately there is no opportunity for Erith Manor House to become a tourist attraction, as it was demolished in the 19th century after falling into a state of disrepair. Personally I find it very unlikely that the Gunpowder Plotters would have used Erith as a main base of operations; Nobility and the wealthy would stand out like a sore thumb in the Erith of 1605, which, much like now was inhabited by working people who back then were mainly involved in trade on the River Thames and fishing. If the plotters wanted to keep a low profile, expensively dressed strangers appearing in Erith would not be a very intelligent idea, as they would not have fitted in with the locals. Tying up a purebred, high quality horse outside an inn in Erith back then would have been the equivalent of parking a Ferrari outside of The Running Horses in Erith High Street nowadays - people would most definitely notice, and tongues would wag.

I had planned to publish the following piece last week, but due to space considerations, I have had to hold it over to this issue. Guest author Doreen Ives, the Chair of the Friends of Christ Church Erith writes:- "If you didn’t come to the Friends of Christ Church Quiz Night on 21st October you missed a treat.  Everyone who came along had a really enjoyable time.  The questions were very varied and certainly sufficiently diverse for most of us to be able to tackle many of them.  Jim Bennett came along with a team from St Augustine Slade Green to show continued solidarity with The Friends and he generously did a “Stand up Bingo” which generated £99. Erith and Thamesmead Member of Parliament Teresa Pearce, our Patron came along with her team intent on defending their place as current holders of the trophy but it was not to be and the Kids Club group together with Simon our Curate were the winners. They took home sweets and the grand trophy which they will have to take turns in displaying proudly at home.  The group who decided to “hold up the rest of the field”, won jam doughnuts which I sincerely hope they thoroughly enjoyed. Overall with the extended raffle, the evening resulted in £1,320 for the Friends of Christ Church funds which is a great start to our appeal to provide much needed toilet and kitchen facilities in our Church. We will of course make a donation to the Hall Committee for the use of the hall. A special “thank you” to our generous supporters both individuals and businesses who provided all the raffle prizes, to the quiz masters who gave their services completely free of charge, to those who organised and set up the event and all those who helped with clearing the hall at the end of the evening. We have now had some preliminary drawings of the facilities we are proposing to install in the West Porch which we will be sending to the Diocese to get their comments and we will keep you up to date with our progress. If you didn’t participate this time but would like to know more about Friends of Christ Church Erith or perhaps become a “Friend” then please pick up one of our leaflets in Church or visit our website here".


An interesting development has occurred in the fight against the illegal moped gangs; in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Police chased and intercepted a stolen moped with two un – helmeted youths on board. This happened in Eastern Way, Thamesmead. The pillion passenger on the moped ran away as soon as the Police car approached, and the rider then tried to make an escape. The Police then carried out a “tactical stop” on the moped and rider. The rider was injured during this operation, and the Police took him to hospital, where he is reported to be in a serious condition. As is customary in such a situation, the incident has been reported to The Independent Police Complaints Commission who have launched an independent investigation. The timing of the interception is very interesting; it is well known that some of the illegal bikers are heavily involved in the local drugs business – it is highly likely that the moped rider and passenger were on their way to, or returning from a drugs deal. What other reason would they have for being out at around 1.30 on a cold and wet Tuesday morning? They would normally be tucked up in bed with cannabis and their X-Box. What is very instructive about this incident is the feedback from members of the public on the News Shopper website. It is unsurprising that comments are unanimously in support of the Police, and anti the illegal bikers.  Typical reader comments include:- “Pity the police don't use this tactical stop more often. Might make the little feral rats think twice. No sympathy whatsoever”, “If you fail to stop when asked to by the police then you have only yourself to blame for any consequences”, “I was in Bexleyheath last night at 8 o'clock and 4 scallywags on 2 quads and 2 idiots on a bike without helmets were tearing up the pedestrianised area of the Broadway. See these all the time around North Heath but they are getting ridiculous now. I truly have no sympathy with this story and would have quite happily stood and laughed had they have fallen off last night and very badly injured themselves. May even have taken a selfie... They are obviously inbred toe rags and am sure this is just the tip of the antisocial behaviour scale that they undertake”, “Good that will teach them a lesson. I am fed up with these scumbags carrying out crime and causing a nuisance on South East London’s streets. If you have got nothing to hide and you are not wanted or doing something illegal, then why run?”. There are many other similar comments – you can read the entire thread by clicking here. I just hope this case does not discourage the Police from carrying out more tactical stops in the future; I am sure that I am far from alone in wishing they would do this kind of thing on a regular basis – that way A) the number of illegal bikers would be reduced by putting them in hospital or in the mortuary, and B) any youths thinking of becoming a moped criminal would be discouraged by the short and painful lifestyle the occupation had. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or send me an Email to hugh.neal@gmail.com.


Christmas is almost upon us; the surest indicator of this is that plans are being finalised for this year’s Christmas Tree Festival in Christ Church Erith. This annual event brings in visitors from all over the region; last year there were people visiting from as far away as Milton Keynes! The event raises money for the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice and Christ Church. This year there will be some new additions to the festival, including seasonal food and drink, and some new exterior lighting to the Grade II* listed church building. Some faces that have become familiar to many locals over the last year will be making an appearance, and the event should be bigger and better than ever. The dates for the Christmas Tree Festival this year are as follows:- Friday 15th December - Open 12noon - 7pm. Saturday 16th December - Open 10am - 7pm Christmas Fair 10am - 2pm (in the church hall).  Musical Concert - Starting at 7pm.  Sunday 17th December. Open 12noon - 5pm. Carol Service by Christmas tree light - 6.30pm. You can find further details of the event, along with photos from previous years on the brand new Christ Church Erith Christmas Tree Festival website here.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association.  Firstly a report from Barnehurst ward:- "After A busy Halloween, we had an extremely quiet firework period with absolutely no Anti Social Behaviour reported across the ward and very little across the Borough. We did unfortunately have a burglary reported in Northall Road, On Saturday 4th November at 2.56am suspects entered an address via the front UPVC door and stole car keys for a BMW X4 registration number YK16 FTN On entering the venue the alarm started to bleep alerting the occupiers who were asleep upstairs, they came downstairs to find the BMW being driven off their drive. Please make sure that any UPVC door is secured properly, it is only secure if double locked, Lift the handle and lock with a key. It will only takes a burglar a matter of seconds to open a door that is not locked securely. The burglary in Northall Road took less than 30 seconds from entering the venue to driving away with the car. Please see the Metropolitan police web page for relevant up to date crime prevention advice - https://www.met.police.uk/crime-prevention/residential-burglary/. Please join the a member of the team on Thursday 16th November at 1pm at Barnehurst Golf Course to discuss any local concerns that you may have. As always, please follow us on Twitter @MPSBarnehurst to find out what the team have been up to". Belvedere ward:- "The team held a crime prevention surgery at the Co-op, Nuxley Road on 01/11/2017. We opted to hold our surgery here due to the high footfall, while the venue also has suffered from shoplifting. We will be holding more surgeries at this venue in coming weeks to increase police presence and hopefully combat this issue. We have been working closely with the staff in the Co-op and they are now displaying images of wanted offenders in the store. We are hopeful that this approach will primarily lead to more successful prosecutions, however it may also have an effect on the criminals themselves as they may be more reluctant to attend these stores. We have been working later shifts than normal over recent weeks. This has been in part due to ‘Autumn Nights’, Halloween and Guy Fawkes, however we have also chosen other days so we can look at late night anti-social behaviour around the ward responding to recent reports such as street drinkers in Picardy Street. There were no groups acting in an anti-social manner on those days. On 04/11/2017 we held a street briefing with residents around Nuxley Road. We discussed their main concerns as nearby residents as well as what we were looking to do to combat such issues. The main concern was youths on bicycles using the area for tricks such as wheelies. While holding the street briefing youths were in the area riding and were pointed out to us as being those causing the issues. We spoke with the youths, some of whom we have had previous dealings, and we obtained their details. The parent of one youth was present during the meeting and was able to encourage the group to speak with the residents and police. This allowed all parties to speak with one another openly and truthfully. The team will be looking to conduct home visits and speak with parents around their children’s behaviour". Brampton ward:- "Unfortunately we have had 3 Burglaries on the ward Rydal Drive , suspects entered by an unknown place but were disturbed and left with nothing , Brampton Road rear window access cash and jewellery stolen this was in a cast iron safe but not bolted to the wall or floor, and Long Lane also suspects entered by rear window and cash taken Theft of a motor vehicle in Hudson Road a suspect has been named for this and investigation is ongoing. Theft from a motor vehicle in Pickford Lane, suspect has opened the passenger door and taken a bag of cash on the seat whilst the victim was in the driving seat. Theft from a person in Pickford lane victim had mobile phone stolen from hand by an unknown on a moped. Theft of a pedal cycle in Percy Road victim has left there cycle unattended whilst visiting the shops on return the cycle is missing , investigation ongoing. Criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Cannon Road side of vehicle damaged by unknown person. Please follow us on Twitter : @MPSBrampton Please continue to send me in your email addresses. Over the autumn nights we had very little ASB on the ward and Fireworks night went off without incident". Christchurch ward:- "We have sadly had 2 burglaries this week. 4/11/17 between 1600 – 1800 Hansol Road cash stolen and entry through conservatory by forcing doors; 4/11/17 between 1630 – 2230 Martin Rise nothing has been stolen entry through forced conservatory doors; 7/11/17 at approximately 1230 Attempted Burglary Woolwich Road use of card to try and force door open, entry not gained. If anyone has any information relating to these incidents please contact 101. 2/11/17 Criminal Damage to vehicle parked in the surface car park by Sainsbury’s Bexleyheath, paint sprayed over bonnet and down side of vehicle – if anyone has witnessed this or has information please contact 101; 4/11/17 Unfortunately there has been another purse theft from an elderly person on the Broadway, please ensure that purses are tucked away and if withdrawing cash from banks go straight home, and split money rather than having a large amount in one purse/bag. There has been anti - social behaviour in the area at the weekend with fireworks being let off inappropriately. A couple of these incidents happened on the Broadway after school hours on Friday and the incidents are being looked into using Body Worn Cameras by Officers and CCTV". Colyers ward:- "There were two reported burglaries on Colyers Ward between 26th October 2017 and 7th November 2017. There was also one reported theft of motor vehicle during the same period. On 31/10/17 at about 1900 hours the victim indicated that he was walking to the shops when saw four mopeds leaving an alleyway (‘Alleyway 35’) off Frinstead Road Erith. The riders all had dark clothing and their faces concealed. The four mopeds had no registration numbers. The victim then instinctively went to inspect his garage where he keeps his motor bike. He discovered that his garage door had been damaged. It appeared that thieves were trying break into his garage but were unsuccessful. The victim has very good locks on the garage door so the suspects tried to unhinge the door itself. The victim then went to look at his CCTV which is pointing directly at his garage. He saw the suspects all in dark clothing trying to break in but left having failed to open the garage door. The resident of a residential home in Selkirk Drive Erith Kent had their TV stolen. The informant is unsure of the exact date and the model of TV. A victim’s bike was parked on the drive outside the address on 30/10/17, a resident saw two males turn up on a black moped with no number plate displayed. Both slim build males, aged 15-20, one wearing all black and one wearing a khaki hoody. They have stolen the bike off the drive, the bike is a Daelim 125, and maroon in colour, registration number LF03 CFM. The suspects drove off in the direction of Eversley Avenue. About 5 minutes later they have both returned on the black moped and were paying interest to another bike parked on the same drive, a potential witness saw the suspects and the two males made off in the direction of Colyers Lane". Crayford ward:- "We are aware that bogus callers and distraction burglars are in the area in the last few weeks and appear to be targeting the elderly and vulnerable. They are using excuses such as water leaks in the property above, underground leaks. Descriptions of them vary, accents are described as local, Irish and "put on" posh. A bogus caller may be smartly dressed and claim to be from the council, the police, health organisations or water, gas or electricity companies. They can be convincing and persuasive. Please use door chains, check all ID very carefully. If there is any doubt about the caller, keep them out. A genuine caller will not mind being asked to wait while their details are verified. A black VW was stolen from outside 65 Ridgeway overnight on the 8/11/2017. There have been three theft from motor vehicles in the last week. On Monday 6/11/2017 at 15.12 a black bag was stolen from a vehicle parked at Bookers Cash and Carry in Thames Road, the vehicle window was smashed, the bag contained cash, a cheque book, bank statements and personal shopping. Number plates were stolen from a vehicle parked outside 50 Crayford Road overnight between 22.30 on 02/11/2017 and 07.00 on 03/11/2017. A rear number plate was stolen from a vehicle parked near McDonalds on Thursday 02/11/2017 between 13.00-14.00. A burglary took place on Saturday 04/11/2017 at 17.30 in Heath Road. A safe was stolen containing a significant amount of cash, jewellery, watches and passports. This has had a significant impact on the family as they were at home when it happened. On Wednesday 01/11/2017 between 19.15 and 19.33 there was a business burglary in Iron Mill Lane. The business is run from a home address and clothing valued at £10k was stolen. Again this had had a significant impact on the victim and their family". Lesnes Abbey ward:- "Good news - Following research by PC Telfer, a male was arrested for failing to surrender to a Crown Court in the Midlands for the offence of GBH. Burglaries - No residential or non residential burglaries. Motor vehicle crime - Between the hours of 07:00 pm on Monday 06/11/17 and 14:00 pm on Tuesday 07/11/17. Theft of Motor Vehicle occurred in Hallifield Drive". North End ward:- "We have had 6 Theft From Motor vehicles reported in the last week. They have happened in various locations across the during daytime and night time hours so there is no set pattern. Please please ensure that you remove all valuables from your vehicles when you park. Please ask family members and friends etc who are visiting to also remove their handbags, sat navs etc even if they are just popping round for a quick visit. We will let you know of our next vehicle crime prevention stall when we get the date and location. On Wednesday we discovered a pirate radio station set up on the top of Cobham House. The equipment was seized by us and will be disposed of accordingly. Late patrols were carried out last Friday and Saturday evening but we witnessed no real issues with any ASB relating to fireworks. On Sunday we assisted our Belvedere colleagues in policing the Sikh Guru Nanak parade through Belvedere and Erith. The event went smoothly with many attendees in bright colours with plenty of music, food and demonstrations by the Sikh community on their special celebration day". Northumberland Heath ward:- "It’s been another good week, as we have had a very low number of crimes reported in Northumberland Heath. On three days, we had no reported crimes at all. Unfortunately at this time of the year, the number of burglaries met wide usually increase and we have had two ourselves in the last week. One in Little Heath Road and one in Parsonage Manor Way. On both occasions the front door of the property has been forced open. The team have been out patrolling the ward and have been following up on reports of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB). We have also been dealing with the breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) by a local youth and have been liaising with the Council and Erith school in relation to identifying youths seen causing ASB, for home visits to be completed in the upcoming week". Thamesmead East ward:- "One burglary to report this week, which occurred on the 29th October, between 3 and 6pm, Chadwick Way. Entry gained via forcing the front door, TV and computer games stolen. On Friday 4th November, the team arrested a male, who was wanted by Nottingham Crown Court for GBH. On Sunday 5th November, two males were arrested after being discovered to be in possession of suspected Class A drugs, enquiries on going. Later in the evening a male was arrested, Manor Way, for Possession with intent to supply Cannabis, again enquiries are on ongoing. (Great work)".

The ending video this week is some excellent high definition drone footage taken during the recent Danson Park fireworks display, which was organised and run by Welling Round Table.