Sunday, September 19, 2010

Queue jumping.

I found the photo above online; it shows Erith Pier - the longest such structure anywhere on the entire River Thames. It was formerly known as Erith Deep Water Wharf. I believe the photo was probably taken in the mid 1960's. The pier was used as the main unloading point for cargo ships hauling giant rolls of newsprint paper, which were then stored in a warehouse in the Europa Industrial Estate, before being transported by road to what was then Fleet Street. I recall as a child an incident where the warehouse full of paper caught fire, and it took over two weeks to burn itself out - the Fire Brigade merely contained it, knowing extinguishing the blaze would be a nearly impossible task. If you look carefully at the photo above, the pier does not look anything like it does today; apart from the giant dockside cranes and the moored ships, it lacks the spur to the left of the main right handed dog leg element of the pier that you can clearly see in the modern aerial photo below. I don't know when the spur was added, or to what purpose. Anyone who has a clue, please get in contact with me by clicking on the link at the bottom of this entry.

I was queuing for the 380 bus from outside Woolwich Arsenal station earlier this week. I waited patiently at the stop, and after a couple of minutes the single decker (known locally as the "Belmarsh Bus" -  due to its' ultimate destination of the UK's highest security Category A prison HMP Belmarsh, home of some of the most dangerous individuals in the country) drew up. An elderly lady using crutches was in front of me, and as she struggled to get on the bus, a short middle aged bloke pushed past both of us, painfully elbowing me in the side in the process. He almost knocked the disabled woman over, as she balanced on the lower step of the bus doorway. I grabbed him by the shoulder and hauled him backwards, accompanied by some choice words about his lack of manners, and had he not heard of queuing? The man behind me nodded in approval, and the bus driver found it highly amusing, by the look on his face. A couple of days later the same individual, who I think is a pirate DVD seller, tried exactly the same trick whilst I was waiting to board the 99 bus at Plumstead Bus Garage; this time I shouted at him before he actually made it on board. Being a good foot taller and twice the size of the scrote, as well as wearing my trademarked size 12 steel toe capped boots seemed to persuade him to wait his turn to alight the bus. It was not ignorance or unfamiliarity with good manners - the guy just thinks of no - one other than himself. In ages past he would have probably met justice in the form of a sharp jab in the nether regions from a hat pin from one of the ladies in the queue. 

I see that Erith Yacht Club have now formally opened their new club house building. You can see a photo of the opening ceremony, hosted by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston last Sunday above. You can read all about the yacht club and its' new facilities by clicking here.

Do give the new Erith Town Net website a visit - it is a valuable online resource with lots of useful information about the town and the surrounding area.

I have been passing by the newly opened Mambocino coffee shop and cafe in the Erith Riverside Shopping Centre on an almost daily basis; it seems to be attracting quite a lot of business - it is something the area sorely needed, as it serves hot food all day. The first review of the place has now appeared online, which is pretty astonishing when one considers it only opened its' doors last weekend. You can read the review by clicking here.

I was sitting on the train on my way home from work on Friday. Two blokes were sitting on the opposite sides of the carriage; they were talking about various subjects, and gradually the topic of conversation came around to computer games. One was saying that he was looking forward to playing the new HALO: Reach game. His companion commented, that although the modern graphics are amazing, he did not think the game play in many current games matched that of those from the past. He said "I remember playing a space combat and trading game on my BBC Micro when I was a kid - a great game - I can't remember what it was called? After much umming and ahhing and some inaccurate guessing from the two, I could not stand it any more, and said "I could not help overhearing your conversation; the game that you were trying to recall was Elite". The penny dropped and they both remembered. At this point another bloke a few seats away joined the conversation. "You were lucky having a BBC Micro - my Mum bought me a Dragon 32. It was tragic". Heads nodded sagely; I replied "The Dragon was horrendous - I think hi res was a split screen with half green and half brown - it was pretty dire". And thus half of the carriage recalled their mis - spent youth and early 80's computer experiences. This was a first in my recollection; people never, ever talk on trains - in fact it is pretty much frowned upon by regular commuters, so it made a nice change for once.

If you wish to have a look at my online photo albums, you can click here to take you to my Flickr photo stream. Please feel free to leave a comment below, as always.

My office (photo above - click on it for a larger view) in Pewty Acres, as it looks today, with both the Big iMac and the "lifeboat" in the corner. The Lifeboat is now running Debian Linux for IBM Power PC processors. Yellow Dog Linux was a bit pants to be honest, so I have done a hose and install of Debian instead. To the right, and out of the picture is my amateur radio gear and my "Mastermind" style arm chair.

I understand that the notorious Cross Keys pub will not be re-opening following the withdrawal of its' licence after the UK wide bad publicity the place earned after the invasion of horse mounted travellers on numerous occasions over the last few months. The story made it into the Sun - you can read all about it, and watch the CCTV footage of the incident if you click here. My informants tell me that the landlord is going to pack up and leave, as he realises he will never be granted another licence. The pub owners are apparently looking to move the pub up market, and internally refurbish it to match the already restored, Grade II listed exterior. It ir rumoured that they hope to serve food and generally make the place more welcoming. Let's hope so - it would be the best outcome, in my own opinion.

I see that a film is going to be made about Freddie Mercury, and the build up to Live Aid, where Queen performed a show stealing set. Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is to play Mercury in a new film backed by the remaining members of the band. The script is to be written by Frost / Nixon author Peter Morgan. You can read more about the project, including a video clip of an interview with Brian May talking about the film by clicking here. This week's video clip is from a Channel 4 programme about how Queen stole the show at Live Aid, and earned the title of the single greatest live rock performance of all time.


  1. I'm guessing the pier has vehicular access? If so, perhaps the spur is to allow vehicles to pass in opposite directions.

  2. Hi Dave, I think you are right; when it was in commercial use, lorries used to drive up and down it. Nowadays it is pedestrian only, but the spur seems very popular with sea anglers.

  3. Interesting to see that the spur is fairly recent. Looking at the end of it, which I occasionally do, I have assumed that it carried a RoRo ramp of some sort to give access to the stern doors of vessels moored along the main arm.

    My most recent memory of ships unloading there was timber/woodpulp? from Tallinn Estonia. On occasions crewmen used to come and swim at the late lamented Riverside Baths.

    I have just recently been pointed in the direction of your excellent blog and am slowly reading backwards through it. I've checked out all your Flickr pix and now enjoying the blog.

    You might just find that a number of local radio amateurs have recently become readers of your blog!


    1. I looked at the spur today and agree it looks like it may have been for low craft as the spur goes down hill and at the end are 3 iron pivot points which look to be for a floating ramp, did they ever run a river taxi from Erith?
      I remember many years ago they talked about it