Sunday, June 28, 2020

Olympus.


When the light and weather is right, parts of Erith can at times look positively exotic. The photo above shows the key worker apartments (called Tramway House) on the corner of Stonewood Road and West Street, right next to the Bexley College site, and opposite the new Erith Baths housing development. The apartments overlook the Riverside Gardens and the River Thames in one of the nicest locations in the town. If the flats had been built in somewhere like Putney, they would be the thick end of a million pounds or so.

As an enthusiastic, if not particularly good amateur photographer, I was saddened to hear of the demise of a once hugely popular camera brand, that is going out of business after 84 years. Japanese optics manufacturer Olympus is winding down its 84-year-old camera division and selling it off to private-equity firm Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). the move on the “rapid market shrink caused by the evolution of smartphones.” Now, there is little need for people to carry around a separate point-and-shoot camera when their mobile phones can snap good-enough or high-quality images and enhance them immediately with software. As smartphone cameras improved, Olympus tried to switch tactics and focus on high-end digital cameras with superior lenses. Alas, its market share continued to dwindle, and it reported consecutive losses over the past three years. Today, Olympus makes the majority of its money selling medical and scientific equipment, like microscopes and medical endoscopes. The first Olympus camera was the Semi Olympus folding camera, which had a Zuiko 75mm lens and went on sale in 1936. It was capable of capturing 16 shots on a roll of film. Olympus grew to be a massive player in the camera industry, building light, high-spec'ed kit for professionals and amateurs. The rise of digital cameras was not thought to be a problem at first, though eventually the technology overtook it. And then was the financial scandal. In 2011, Olympus hired its first non-Japanese CEO, British 30-year veteran of the company Michael Woodford. Two weeks later he was fired after pointing out financial irregularities. The camera maker was later fined millions for accountancy and business malpractices. New owner JIP will continue to develop the company’s OM-D camera series and its Zuiko lenses. “We believe this is the right step to preserve the legacy of the brand, the value of the technologies and the outstanding products,” Olympus said in a statement. “Olympus sees this transfer as an opportunity to enable its imaging business to continue providing value to longtime and new customers, fans and photography enthusiasts". For many photographers around the world, this unfortunately marks the end of an era; Olympus had a reputation for superb build quality and reliability. It will be missed. 


The photo above (click on it for a larger view) shows the Pipeline Under The Ocean (PLUTO) control room during operations in late 1944. Much of the multiple PLUTO pipe infrastructure was constructed in and around Erith in the middle to late phases of World War II. The technology developed was later put to very good effect and made the United Kingdom one of the world centres for oil and gas engineering, something that is still true to this day. There is a lot of history in the local area relating to this stunning feat of military and civil engineering, and a handful of those involved in the project are still alive now. PLUTO, the WW2 Pipeline Under the Ocean, was designed to supply petrol from storage tanks in southern England to the advancing Allied armies in France in the months following D-Day. A reliable supply of petrol for the advancing Allied forces following the D-Day landings was of the highest priority. Planners knew that the future invasion of Europe would be the largest amphibious landing in history, and without adequate and reliable supplies of petrol any advance would at best slow down and at worst grind to a halt. A loss of momentum could jeopardise the whole operation as German forces would have time to regroup and counter-attack. Conventional tankers and 'ship to shore' pipelines were in danger of cluttering up the beaches, obstructing the movement of men, armaments and materials and, in all circumstances, were subject to the vagaries of the weather and sea conditions and they were easy targets for the Luftwaffe. The idea of a pipeline under the ocean, (the English Channel), was an innovative solution. Oil storage facilities located near the English Channel were vulnerable to attack by the Luftwaffe. To reduce the risk of losses, a network of pipelines was, during early discussions about PLUTO, already under construction. The network was designed to carry fuel from less vulnerable storage and port facilities around Bristol and Liverpool to the English Channel. This network would later be linked to the planned pipeline at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight and Dungeness further to the west. The terminals and pumping stations were heavily disguised as bungalows, gravel pits, garages and even an ice cream shop! The Combined Operations Experimental Establishment (COXE) was involved in many diverse top-secret projects including the waterproofing vehicles, the removal of underwater obstacles on landing beaches and the testing of landing craft under a variety of sea and beach conditions. To this formidable list was added the supply of petrol to France using underwater pipelines. All these challenges were borne out of a culture that encouraged bold and imaginative solutions to intractable problems. Such a  culture was encouraged at the highest level when Winston Churchill ordered Roger Keyes, the then Director of Combined Operations, and his successors, to think offensively when many were at the time rightly concerned with the defence of the country. In the early part of 1942 Geoffrey Lloyd MP, who was in charge of the UK's fuel policy, met with Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations (CCO) and others to consider the fuel supply issue. There was no 'off the shelf' solution that did not invite the Luftwaffe to attack shore installations or slow pipe-laying and support vessels. Lloyd approached Sir William Fraser CBE, Chairman of the Anglo-Iranian Petroleum Corporation.- They picked up on an idea of Mr Hartley, the Chief Engineer of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co., to use existing submarine cable technology, minus the core, as the basic building block of a petrol pipeline. Siemens Brothers and Co Ltd., of Woolwich, London, who were experienced in the design and manufacture of such cables, eagerly took up the challenge. Other design work was undertaken by Henlys, Pirelli, Johnson and Phillips, the National Physical Laboratory and the Post Office. It was a complex task, and there were many failures arising from twists, kinks, bursts and collapse due to external water pressure and other powerful forces. One of the major companies involved in the production of the highly specialised pipeline was British Insulated Callender's Cables (BICC) of Erith, but even this was not enough to meet the volume of demand, so American firms - General Electric, Phelps-Dodge, Okonite Callenders and General Cable were drafted in. Of the 710 miles of PLUTO pipeline manufactured in total, 140 miles came from the USA.  The first pipeline to France was laid on 12th August 1944, over the 130 km (70 nautical miles) from Shanklin Chine on the Isle of Wight across the English Channel to Cherbourg. A further three pipelines soon followed. As the fighting moved closer to Germany, seventeen other lines were laid from Dungeness to Ambleteuse in the Pas-de-Calais. The PLUTO Pipelines were linked to pumping stations on the English coast, housed in various inconspicuous buildings including cottages and garages. Though uninhabited, these were intended to cloak the real purpose of the buildings. Pluto Cottage at Dungeness, a pumping station built to look like a small house, is now a Bed and Breakfast. In England, the PLUTO pipelines were supplied by a 1,609 km (1,000 mi) network of pipelines (constructed at night to prevent detection by aerial reconnaissance) to transport fuel from ports including Liverpool and Bristol. In Europe, the pipelines were extended as the troops moved forward and eventually reached as far as the Rhine. In January 1945, 305 tonnes of fuel was pumped to France per day, which increased tenfold to 3,048 tonnes per day in March, and eventually to 4,000 tons (almost 1,000,000 Imperial gallons) per day. In total, over 781 000 m³ of gasoline had been pumped to the Allied forces in Europe by VE day, providing a critical supply of fuel until a more permanent arrangement was made, although the pipeline remained in operation for some time after Along with the Mulberry Harbours that were constructed immediately after D-Day, Operation Pluto is considered one of history's greatest feats of military engineering. The pipelines are also the forerunners of all flexible pipes used in the development of offshore oil fields. Much of the development and construction of this amazing war - winning engineering effort is down to the direct involvement of BICC in Erith, and their highly specialised engineers, something that local residents can be justly proud of.


Erith has been the home to many boxers of note in its history. None more so than Len Harvey. although not Erith born (he originated from Stoke Climsland in Cornwall) he moved to Erith on his retirement to be landlord of the Nordenfeldt Tavern in Fraser Road during the late 1940's. He was one of the best boxers in British history. Len Harvey started out as a flyweight at 12. By the time he was 18 he was ready to fight for the British welterweight title. He was held to a draw though by Harry Mason on 29 April 1926. His next British title shot came 2 years later on 16 May 1929. This time at middleweight against Alex Ireland. Harvey knocked out his opponent in the seventh round to become British champion. He made six defences between 1929 and 1933. He also fought Marcel Thil of France for the world middleweight championship.On 10 April 1933, he defended his title against Jock McAvoy. This ended in defeat for Harvey but two months later he was in the ring again challenging Eddie Phillips and won on points to become British Light Heavyweight champion. On 30 November that year he beat the then unbeaten Jack Petersen to become the British Heavyweight champion. He then went on to beat Canada's Larry Gains to become British Empire champion, but lost both titles in a rematch with Petersen being stopped in the 12th round on cuts. Harvey then went on to fight for the world title on 9 November 1936, but was beaten on points by John Henry Lewis. He then regained the British Heavyweight title by disqualification against old foe Eddie Phillips. In 1938 John Henry Lewis retired after developing eye problems, Harvey was then matched with another old foe, Jock McAvoy for British recognition of the world championship at Harringay Arena. This time he won on points on 10 July 1939. During World War II Harvey joined the Royal Air Force. By this time he was a national sporting idol, and was given an officer rank. During this time he was persuaded to defend his titles against Freddie Mills on 20 June 1942. By this time Harvey was a veteran of over a hundred bouts and was 35 years old. He was knocked out in two rounds, only the second time he was stopped and the first by K.O. He retired after this bout. He had an official record of 133 fights, 111 wins, 9 draws and 13 defeats: he claimed to have had 418 fights,but they probably included booth fights. His four fights with Jock McAvoy were legendary; he won three and lost one. He later died on 28 November 1976. Such was his legend that he was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.  Until I was informed of Len Harvey, I was not aware of the prestige in which he was held. A truly great adopted son of the area.  Some time ago, I was sent a story by a well respected local figure who wishes to remain anonymous.  My informant writes:- "Len Harvey as you so rightly say was the guvnor of the Nordenfeldt public house the "Pom Pom" for a few years. The local vicar at the time one George Bennett was a regular visitor to the Pom Pom. Len would remind the locals of their language in the presence of the vicar! Ken  used to come to up to North Heath School in the late 40s to coach the boys in boxing. There are examples of how successful was. However there was dark side, he had a son, who in turn had a friend who lived in Pembroke Road. One day the son took the gun, which was a War Trophy of Len's) to his friends house, and "playing about" the gun went off. The end result was the boy died some time later.  I am sure that is why he moved out of the area and died in West London. NOT Erith". Fascinating stuff and a tragic story. I can fully understand why Len Harvey would have wanted to move away from the area that must have had such painful memories for him.

As I wrote last week, the need to have unlicensed radio stations broadcasting using radio frequencies has now been comprehensively superseded by the World Wide Web. Anyone with a computer and a broadband connection can start up their own online radio station - and indeed many do. Whilst there are numerous upsides to this true democratisation in communication ability, there are also some downsides - principally that stations when run by individuals or small groups of people can come and go as interest in the project, or indeed funding waxes and wanes. A prime example of this happened earlier this week, a long established specialist progressive and symphonic rock station called Progwave Radio suddenly went off air and closed its website and Facebook page with no warning. The long running online radio station, based in Aberdeen, had a regular audience, and the unannounced closure of the station was a surprise to some observers. Since then, I have come across a web based radio station that is somewhat unusual - it has a licence to broadcast on 1440 kHz Medium Wave, not only to its location, but also it broadcasts on 5805 kHz on Shortwave to the wider world, albeit with a somewhat limited transmitter power. The station in question is called Radio 208, and it is based in Copenhagen in Denmark. They play classic rock and punk, and are worth giving a listen - just click here.


Following the sad news of the demise of camera and optics manufacturer Olympus that I reported earlier, I have been digging around in some of the dustier, almost forgotten corners of the web; old multimedia technology fascinates me, and it never ceases to amaze me how many different audio and video formats have been invented, only to fall by the wayside. One of the most unusual, and one might even say eccentric inventions that fits this category is one that very few will have even heard of. It was available in the UK for a short time,and was actually sold in what was then Whomes TV and HiFi in Bexleyheath Broadway, but never gained the popularity of competing systems such as VHS. The video player system was called The Capacitance Electronic Disc system (CED) was an analogue video disc playback system developed by RCA, in which video and audio could be played back on a TV set using a special needle and high-density groove system similar to phonograph records. The format was commonly known as "videodisc", leading to much confusion with the contemporary LaserDisc format. LaserDiscs were read optically with a laser beam, whereas CED videodiscs were read physically with a stylus, rather like a conventional gramophone record. The two systems were mutually incompatible. RCA began videodisc research in 1964, in an attempt to produce a phonograph-like method of reproducing video. Research and development was slow in the early years, as the development team originally comprised only four men, but by 1972, the CED team at RCA had produced a disc capable of holding ten minutes of colour video (a portion of the Get Smart episode entitled "Lum Fong"). Later, when the disc format was simplified to reduce the cost of mass production, it led to a big problem. Because they were an analogue format, CEDs were susceptible to all sorts of interference. As the CED record grooves got tinier and finer, the discs became incredibly delicate. They were easily scratched, and any specks of dust that got into the grooves could cause the stylus to skip and stick. CEDs were originally going to be released like regular vinyl records in paper sleeves, but they proved much too delicate. Thus they were encased in thin plastic caddies so that the discs themselves would be protected. The resulting movies looked not unlike wide, thin eight-track cassettes. Finally, after over seventeen years in development, flying in the face of evolving trends in home video technology, the first CED machine, the RCA SFT100W VideoDisc player, branded as SelectaVision, was released in March of 1981. Alongside the release of the machine were an initial 50 titles, the very first of which was the cartoon Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. VHS, which offered a longer run time in a smaller package, was already well on its way to being the standard video technology in most homes, and when the ungainly, labour intensive (the movie discs had to be manually taken out and turned over halfway through) CED system was released, it was met with a resounding “So what?” by consumers. The video quality was as good as VHS at the time, if not better, but the CED still seemed like a strangely archaic alternative to the videocassette and Laserdisc. They did have some advantages over VHS however; CED players were intended to be "low-cost". Because they have fewer precision parts than a VCR, a CED player cost, at most, about half as much to manufacture. The discs themselves could be inexpensively duplicated, stamped out on slightly-modified audio gramophone record presses. Like VCRs, CED videodisc players had features like rapid forward/reverse and visual search forward/reverse. They also had a pause feature, though it blanked the screen rather than displaying a still image; many players featured a 'page mode' during which the current block of four successive frames would be repeatedly displayed. Since CEDs were a disc-based system, they did not require rewinding. Early discs were generally monaural, but later discs included stereo sound. (Monaural CED disks were packaged in white protective caddies while stereo disks were packaged in blue protective caddies.) Other discs could be switched between two separate mono audio tracks, providing features such as bilingual audio capability. Like the LaserDisc and DVD, some CEDs featured random access and that users can quickly move to certain parts of the movie. Each side of a CED disc could be split into up to 63 "chapters", or bands. Two late RCA players could access these bands in any given order. Unlike its laser-based counterparts, the chapters in a CED are based on minutes of the film, not scenes. Novelty discs and CED-based games were produced whereby accessing the chapters in a specified order would string together a different story each time. However, only a few were produced before the halt of CED player manufacturing. In addition to the advantages over VHS came the disadvantages. The discs would deteriorate fairly rapidly with consecutive plays. RCA said you could get around 500 spins out of one disc, but the quality fell with each play. RCA ended up selling only around 100,000 players in the first year—half of what the company had ambitiously projected—but they didn’t give up the ghost. CED players continued to be sold over the next few years, even though sales of the machine continued to be dire. In addition to RCA, Toshiba and Hitachi hedged their bets and tried selling CED players as well, but they did no better. The number of titles also continued to grow in the face of the public’s disinterest. Big box office movies of the time like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Jaws all made it to CED, but not even these familiar titles could get people into vinyl video. In 1984, RCA finally admitted defeat. Fewer than 500,000 CED machines had been sold in total, a figure well short of the company’s prediction that half of American homes would have one within 10 years. Hitachi and Toshiba did release various PAL versions of their CED players in Europe and the UK, but the public acceptance of the format was almost zero - VHS had already won the video format wars - after all, you could also record on it, unlike either CED or LaserDisk which were both replay only. In April 1984, RCA officially announced the discontinuation of its CED players, soothing the few people who had invested in a machine with the assurance that it would continue to release discs for three more years. They only did so for two. The only local retailer that sold CED video players and video disks that I am aware of was Whomes HiFi and TV shop in Bexleyheath Broadway, and that was only for a very brief period indeed. An ultimately doomed video format that nowadays few people have even heard about. Thoughts and feedback to me via Email to hugh.neal@gmail.com.


Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:-"There has been no reports of any residential burglaries or attempted residential burglaries over the last week which is good news. There was a report of a theft from motor vehicle reported along Eversley Avenue Bexleyheath. Victims driver side window was smashed and had stolen items from the glovebox. This had taken place overnight on the Saturday 20th June from about 9pm and 10am the next day. The team have being conducting regular patrols on the ward where required including any ASB hotspots". Belvedere ward:- "The team have been made aware of increased activity in Halt Robin Road – in particular in the more secluded area around the now disused Woodside school. There have been vehicles observed with occupants using silver nitrous oxide canisters which are then littered across the road. If anyone should witness this activity (anywhere) please consider contacting the team with details. This activity has also been taking place in Harold Avenue at the junction with Osbourne Road frequently. Earlier this week there was an attempted break in to a garage situated between Abbey Road and Hadley Road during which the person(s) responsible were disturbed by the garage user. Thankfully, they were unable to enter the garage and nothing was removed". Bexleyheath ward:- "There have been no reports of any residential burglaries or attempted residential burglaries over the last week which is good news. On the Friday 19th June the victim had their purse stolen in the Bexleyheath Broadway area and fraudulent transactions were made. A bag was taken from the victim whilst having it on their pushchair. A theft from motor vehicle was reported on the Tuesday 23rd June between the hours of 10am and 12 midday. The catalytic converter was stolen whilst vehicle was parked at Sainsbury's car park in the Broadway Bexleyheath. Another catalytic converter was stolen whilst the victim had parked their vehicle in The Mall car park in the Broadway. This was also on the Tuesday 23rd June with a slightly earlier time of between 10am and 10.20am. On the Thursday 18th June victim had their purse stolen whilst shopping in Sainsbury's Bexleyheath, incident had taken place between 9am and 10am. On Wednesday 17th June there was a report of and interference of a motor vehicle on the driveway of the victim along Upton Road Bexleyheath, incident happened just after midnight. Suspect was seen entering the boot of the victims vehicle. The team have being conducting regular patrols on the ward where required including any ASB hotspots". Crayford ward:- "A theft from motor vehicle from a car garage was reported overnight from the Monday 22nd June from about 8pm and 10am the next day. Incident had taken place along Green Walk Crayford. A vehicle interference was reported overnight from the Sunday 21st June at about 9.30pm and about 8am the next day, tyres were reported to be tampered with. Incident happened along Hillside Road Dartford. On the Saturday 20th June, victim had reported their bag stolen from their trolley whilst shopping in Sainsbury's Crayford Way. This was between 9.30am and 9.45am. On Thursday 18th June Victim reported that their front living room window was smashed. Incident had happened between midnight and 7.30am the next day. The team have being conducting regular patrols on the ward where required including any ASB hotspots".  Erith ward:- "3 theft from motor vehicles. Wednesday 24/06/2020 St Johns Road – Window smashed wallet taken. Sunday 21/06/2020 Sandcliff Road – Tools and keys taken. Tuesday 23/06/2020 Church Road – Phone taken. Again please do not leave items in your vehicles when you are not with the vehicle, we cannot stress this enough. This week Erith SNT have been out patrolling the ward on Bikes covering a lot of ground and trying to patrol every road on the ward. We arranged a street briefing with residents around the Pom Pom area social distancing of course giving residents a chance to have their say on issues, Bexley community safety and the local councillor was also in attendance. In this area we are experiencing ABS, Possible drug dealing and fly tipping, we are working together with residents and Bexley council to find ways of dealing with this.. We have also attended a few neighbour disputes and had meetings with neighbours trying to resolve these issues". 


Scam alert:- Please see attached flyer for Best Value Cleaning Services; these were being put through people's doors last week in Bexleyheath and the perpetrators were cold calling at the same time. The website address on the flyer does not appear to exist. When the company was phoned, a man speaking with an Irish accent stated that they were based in Milton Keynes and were just doing some work in Bexley for a few days. The male did not realise the website did not exist and could not tell me the address of the business. Trading Standards are advising not to respond to these flyers and would like to remind people not deal with people on their doorstep - this is a scam. Northumberland Heath ward:- "The team have been extremely busy over the last two weeks, with some positive results coming out of it. PC Gash put together an excellent warrant on a young male who has been involved in ASB with a large group within Northumberland Heath. The warrant was very successful, one male was arrested under suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs. This week we have issued a further 4 Community Protection Notice Warnings to four male youths, these youths have been involved in ASB on Northumberland Heath. Big thanks to Bexley council for their hard work and support In this matter. Results from a successful Drugs warrant completed by the Northumberland Heath Local Policing Team back in August of last year. After lots of hard work by PC Gashi, this week a young male has been charged with four offences including possession with intent to supply Class A Cocaine and Class B Ketamine, possession of a Section.5 firearm , and acquire criminal property namely cash. The team had been receiving lots of intelligence regarding a Vehicle involved with possible Drug Dealing/Drug Use in the car park of Lawrence Road/Steele Walk. Intel was given to Response Officers after a call was circulated about the vehicle and Northumberland Heath SNT directed the Response vehicle to the location and informed them of the intelligence that we have been gathering regarding the vehicle and drugs. The vehicle was stopped and one male was arrested for Possession with Intent to Supply Class C Drugs. Drugs and Cash was seized on scene. PC Ali has spent the week patrolling Areas that have been requested for a police presence by residents, Becton Place, Belmont Road, Mill Road Car Park, Northumberland Heath Rec and Sussex Road. Please can I ask, if you want to report a low level crime or ASB please call 101, if this is an urgent incident, please dial 999. You can contact the Northumberland Heath Policing team below, but please do not use this form of contact to report a crime that is happening, please use 101 or 999". Slade Green and Northend ward:- "We have had 5 vehicle crimes in the last week. Three of these were on the Rainbow Road estate and were attempted break ins. They happened in daytime as well as night time. Ring door bell footage has shown the incidents but unfortunately hasn't been clear enough to give a positive ID on 3 different suspects. Please remain vigilant by keeping no valuables in your vehicles at any time and leaving no vehicle windows open etc. If you would like more Vehicle Crime prevention, please let us know. PC's Mark and James searched a male in Dale View last week and he was found in possession of Cannabis. A Community Resolution was given to the male".  Thamesmead East ward:- "No Burglaries to report this week. Vehicle Crime. Kale Road Friday 19/6/20 12:00 – 12:10 Victim reports after finishing a telephone call on the mobile while unloading shopping, victim put the phone on the roof of the vehicle, forgetting to pick up the mobile. When victim returned to the vehicle the mobile was not gone. Mangold Way Saturday 20/6/20 10:00pm – 8am Victim believes suspect/s have attempted to steal vehicle (Peugeot 205) as the door frame had been damaged it also looked like suspects had tried to hotwire the vehicle by damaging the centre console. Glimpsing Green Saturday 20/6/20 5:50am Informant opened the curtains and saw a male suspect try every car door in Glimpsing Green, suspect continued towards Parkway. Turnbury Close Saturday 20/6/20 9pm – Tues 23/6/20 7am Victim states vehicle (Volvo) stolen between dates and times shown by suspect/s unknown. Victim is still in possession of the keys. Mangold Way Sunday 21/6/20 7:30 pm – Mon 22/6/20 7pm Victim reports hire vehicle (Ford Transit) has been stolen by suspect/s unknown. Victim is still in possession of the keys. Maran Way Sunday 21/6/20 11:30pm – 23/6/20 6:40 pm Victim states Nissan X-trail has been stolen by suspect/s unknown. Criminal Damage. Kale Road Saturday 20/6/20 11:38pm Victim reports extractor fan damaged by suspect/s attempting to gain entry into the property no damage or tool marks seen to the window. Holstein Way Saturday 20/6/20 7pm – Mon 22/6/20 6:30pm Victim reports extractor fan damaged by suspect/s unknown". West Heath ward:- "No reports of any burglaries over the past week. Theft of motor vehicle in Hurst Lane on Friday 19/06/2020 between 09.45 – 11.09. No further details at this time. One arrest made for Actual Bodily Harm (ABH). The team have been busy carrying out plain clothes patrols in crime hotspot areas. We have had a report this week of four males in Amberley Road offering to jet wash patios. These males were believed to be targeting elderly residents and were extremely pushy. The males were seen driving around the area in a white transit van with Irish number plates. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police".


Image: Worthy winners - Ray Arnold (left) and Chas Roberts (right). Centre: The updated Violaine Therond Award shield, proudly on display at the Neighbourhood Watch Office. "Despite not being able to hold our AGM this month we were determined to still recognise our most deserving Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator with the Violaine Therond award. This year the voting was very close, so we decided to have two winners. Ray Arnold from Fendyke Road, Belvedere and Chas Roberts from Fairwater Avenue, Welling. Both have been extremely active in their respective roads keeping neighbours aware of incidents of crime. Not content with volunteering for NHW, Ray also volunteers at the Crossness Engines in Belvedere. Chas is the Chairman of the Falconwood & Welling Safer Neighbourhoods Policing Team Ward Panel and writes his own newsletter for his road, as well as one for the neighbouring road. Very well done chaps!"

The end video this week is a long form film showing the first stage of the London LOOP walking trail, which starts at Erith and leads to Bexley Village. The entire LOOP goes right the way around Greater London in a series of interconnected walks. The London Outer Orbital Path — more usually the "London LOOP" — is a 150-mile (242 km) signed walk along public footpaths, and through parks, woods and fields around the edge of Outer London, England, described as "the M25 for walkers". The walk begins at Erith on the south bank of the River Thames and passes clockwise through Crayford, Petts Wood, Coulsdon, Banstead, Ewell, Kingston upon Thames, Uxbridge, Elstree, Cockfosters, Chingford, Chigwell, Grange Hill and Upminster Bridge before ending at Purfleet, almost directly across the Thames from its starting point. Between these settlements the route passes through green buffers and some of the highest points in Greater London. Many enthusiastic hikers undertake the entire walk over a period of time - it is certainly a challenging prospect. Give the video a watch, and post any comments or observations that you have to me at hugh.neal@gmail.com

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