Sunday, October 11, 2020

Hong Kong Garden.

I took the rather dramatic photo above on Monday evening. It shows a Thames Water drain cleaning truck and its operators located at the junction of Wheatley Terrace Road, James Watt Way and Appold Street in Erith. The location is somewhat significant; it marks a key site for the area's drainage system, and is adjacent to a key Thames Water pumping station. Drain cleaning teams and their vehicles are seen on this site on an almost weekly basis - the reason for this is that the main waste drain from Morrison's supermarket passes under the car park an into the main drain at this point. The drain gets clogged and blocked so frequently that I wonder if Thames Water have a clearance team on permanent assignment to the site? The area behind the truck in the photo above is occupied by Abbey Car Breakers, and there is also a small compound that is currently used as a depot by the RAC - it is where their rescue vans are based when they are not on the road, helping motorists with broken down vehicles. The site, which has riverside access currently has a covenant on the land, which prohibits any construction which would prevent access to the banks of the River Thames. The council are debating removing this restriction to allow the site to be redeveloped for housing. The long term plan appears to be that the Eastern end of Erith will gradually be changed from predominantly light industrial and recycling use into residential accommodation. As with many of these plans, they are subject to change, and even cancellation. If you have any information that you wish to share with me, then Email me in complete confidence to  

The image above - click on it for a larger version - shows the main shops and facilities that existed in Erith High Street back in 1930. What strikes me is the quality and diversity of retail outlets in the town back then - it must have been a real treat to go shopping in Erith eighty five years ago. If you have any historical memories of Erith - or indeed any photos from the past that you would like to see me feature - with of course full credit to yourself should you so wish, then please get in contact with me. 

The photo above - click on it for a larger view, shows children at Peareswood Primary School in Erith. They have been taking part in an education programme that has been sponsored by Wates and Orbit Housing association. An announcement regarding the programme was released on Friday, which reads as follows:- "Primary school pupils in Bexley are the first to receive a unique new children’s book designed to inspire them to work in the construction industry after the launch of the book at Peareswood Primary School on 7 October. Key Stage 2 pupils will receive a free copy of What Do … Construction Workers Do? By Emma Juhasz. The new book aims to increase diversity in the sector by supporting learning and providing a more accurate illustration of the wide-ranging jobs available in construction. What Do … Construction Workers Do? Was developed in response to the idea ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. Children can use the book to learn how construction workers build structures, as well as the different kind of jobs available. It includes characters such as Ella, an Architect and Yasmin, a Quantity Surveyor who tell children about what their roles consist of and the qualifications needed. It comes after research found that by the age of seven, children already demonstrate limitations on their aspirations for future careers, while many only consider jobs that they are familiar with through friends and family members. Wates Residential is also the first construction company to work with the Children’s University, which encourages, tracks and celebrates learning that takes place beyond the classroom. This unique partnership means children will receive a ‘Passport to Learning’ in which they can collect two stamps by completing the four interactive activities inside the book. In total, the national developer will present 5,000 books to Key Stage 2 pupils at 11 schools across London and the south over the next 7 days. Leo, a pupil at from Peareswood Primary School who received a copy of the book on Wednesday, commented: “It is inspiring for me as a kid to see what I can be when I grow up. One day I might even be able to build my own house.” Azeeza, a pupil at Peareswood Primary School, also commented. She said: “I really liked the book because it will inspire children like me all around the world to be what they want to be when they grow up. I think construction workers work really hard and I want to be a hard working person when I grow up.” The construction industry is currently facing a skills shortage, and figures from The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) highlight that the industry will need to find 160,000 new recruits by 2023 to keep up with demand. While these children may need to wait a few more years before they can join the career ladder, it is hoped that this initiative will attract a more diverse group of young people to consider their future in construction. Wates Residential and Orbit have embarked on the regeneration the Park East site, which neighbours Peareswood School, where they will deliver 320 new homes, of which 80 per cent will for affordable rent and shared ownership to ensure a mixed, aspirational and sustainable community for local residents. The remaining 20%, which totals 64 homes, will be for open market sale and can be viewed on the sales website at This donation of book forms part of Wates Residential’s ambition to deliver a borough-wide legacy as part of their presence in the borough. This includes a commitment to boost the local economy by entering into contracts valued at c.£10,000,000 with local small and medium-sized businesses. Kate Ives, Development Director at Wates Residential, said: “Children’s potentials are being limited from a young age because they can’t be what they can’t see. At Wates Residential, we are passionate about inspiring children from all backgrounds and showing that the sector is open to all. What Do… Construction Workers Do? demonstrates the diversity of jobs and people in our workplaces. The author – Emma Juhasz – and the Children’s University have done a wonderful job at helping us to bring our sector to life and I hope many more young people will be encouraged to see construction as a viable career option in the future.” Emma Juhasz, author of What Do…Construction Workers Do?, commented: “I loved writing What Do Construction Workers Do? It became clear to me, very quickly, that the construction industry was like a sweet jar of opportunity. It has so many different jobs and caters for a huge variety of skills. I started the series of books, What Do..Do? as I wanted to help young children get a better idea of how their talents and interests could be translated into jobs in their futures. It is easy to see how many of them could end up working in construction. Wates has been very supportive throughout this project and are inspiringly invested in children and their futures. I hope many children will find the building blocks they need, in the book, and join them one day.” Fascinating stuff, and certainly a lot more informative that when I was at primary school. What do you think? Email me at

A number of famous people have historically lived locally. Sir Roger Moore used to live for many years in Wansunt Road in Old Bexley Village. For some reason musicians seem to feature prominently – we have Kate Bush (Upper Wickham Lane, Welling), Keith Richards and Mick Jagger (Dartford), John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (Sidcup) and David Bowie (Beckenham / Bromley). Other famous local residents have in the past included Bernie Ecclestone (Bexleyheath), Lennox Lewis (Danson), Nevil Shute (Hatherley Road, Sidcup), Delia Smith (Bexleyheath) Linda Smith (Erith), Michael Crawford (Bexleyheath), Roald Dahl, (Hurst Road, Bexley), Sheila Hancock (Erith), Boy George (Shooter's Hill), and Sir Edward Heath (Old Bexley), and Steve Davis (Plumstead, and later Danson) All of these well – known and illustrious people have contributed to both the local and the national well-being in one way or another. One other musician who was born and lived for many years in the local area is Susan Janet Ballion, known professionally as Siouxsie Sioux, who comes from Chislehurst. She is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. She is best known as the lead singer of the Gothic rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees (1976–1996). They released 11 studio albums and had several UK Top 20 singles including "Hong Kong Garden", "Happy House", "Peek-a-Boo", plus a US Billboard Top 25 hit "Kiss Them for Me". Siouxsie also formed a second band the Creatures (1981–2005). With the Creatures, she recorded four studio albums and the hit single "Right Now". After disbanding the Creatures in the mid-2000s, she has continued as a solo artist, using the name Siouxsie, and released the album Mantaray to critical acclaim in 2007. AllMusic named Siouxsie as "one of the most influential British singers of the rock era". Siouxsie was born Susan Janet Ballion on 27 May 1957 at Guy's Hospital. The Ballions lived in Chislehurst. Siouxsie was an isolated child, being unable to invite friends to her house due to her alcoholic, unemployed father. Despite his issues, Siouxsie regarded him as intelligent and well-read, and sympathised with his inability to fit in with a "rigid, middle-class society". The Ballions were not involved in the local community, and Siouxsie, aware that her family's house differed from the neighbours', would later state that "the suburbs inspired intense hatred." In November 1975, the Sex Pistols performed at the local art college in Chislehurst. Siouxsie did not attend, but one of her friends told her how they sounded like the Stooges and that singer Johnny Rotten, had threatened students attending the gig. In February 1976, Siouxsie and her friend Steven Severin went to see the Sex Pistols play in London. After chatting with members of the band, Siouxsie and Severin decided to follow them regularly. In the following months, journalist Caroline Coon coined the term "Bromley Contingent" to describe this group of eccentric teenagers devoted to the Sex Pistols. Siouxsie became well known in the London club scene for her glam, fetish - and bondage-inspired attire, which later became part of punk fashion. She would also heavily influence the later development of Gothic fashion with her signature cat-eye makeup, deep red lipstick, spiky dyed-black hair, and black clothing. Following the DIY ethos and the idea that the people in the audience could be the people on stage, Siouxsie and Severin decided to form a band. When a support slot at the 100 Club Punk Festival (organised by Malcolm McLaren) opened up, they decided to make an attempt at performing, although at that time they did not know how to play any songs. On 20 September 1976, the band improvised 20 minutes of music while Siouxsie sang the "Lord's Prayer". For critic Jon Savage, Siouxsie was "unlike any female singer before or since, commanding yet aloof, entirely modern". In 1977, Siouxsie began touring in England as Siouxsie and the Banshees. One year later, their first single, "Hong Kong Garden", reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. With its oriental-inflected xylophone motif, Melody Maker deemed it "a glorious debut". All the elements come together with remarkable effect. The song is strident and powerful with tantalising oriental guitar riffs plus words and vocals that are the result of anger, disdain and isolation. The song was named after the Hong Kong Garden Chinese take-away in Chislehurst High Street(see the historic photo above - click on it for a larger version). Siouxsie Sioux was quoted as explaining the lyrics with reference to the racist activities of skinheads visiting the take-away:- "I'll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the Hong Kong Garden. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We'd try and say 'Leave them alone', you know. It was a kind of tribute". The Hong Kong Garden is now called Noble House, but it is still a Chinese takeaway to this day, located at 101 Chislehurst High Street. You can read about it by clicking here. Their debut album, The Scream, was one of the first post-punk records released. It received 5-star reviews in Sounds and Record Mirror. The latter said that the record "points to the future, real music for the new age".  She performed with The Banshees, and later with a spin off band called The Creatures, releasing several critically and commercially successful albums until 2003, when she decided to go solo. Her first solo album, Mantaray, was released in September 2007. Pitchfork wrote, "She really is pop", before finishing the review by declaring, "It's a success". Mojo stated: "a thirst for sonic adventure radiates from each track". In June 2013, after a hiatus of five years, Siouxsie played two nights at the Royal Festival Hall in London during Yoko Ono's Meltdown festival. She performed 1980's Kaleidoscope album live in its entirety, along with other works from her back catalogue, and her performance was hailed by the press. She now lives in the South West of France, and still performs. You can read more about her on her official website by clicking here

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:- "There was a report of a theft from motor vehicle along Parkside Avenue Bexleyheath, incident happened overnight on the Thursday 1st October and noticed about 6 am on the Friday 2nd October. Items taken from inside and no visible damage to vehicle. There has been reports made by NHW of graffiti being found on Sub-stations around the Barnehurst railway station. Also, along the Northall Road Bexleyheath". Belvedere ward - no report this week. Bexleyheath ward:- "On the Monday 5th October at about 1030am an elderly victim had realised their purse was stolen and believed it could of happened at the M&S store in the food court area. Along Petworth Road Bexleyheath, victim had reported two vehicles damaged on the Monday 5th October at about midnight. They had noticed two males running from the location at the time of the incident. On the Saturday 3rd October between 10 am and 1130 am there was a report of a theft from motor vehicle along Graham Road Bexleyheath. The catalytic converter was stolen from underneath the vehicle. There was a basic report of a theft of a phone reported on the Wednesday 2nd October on a bus. There was a recent report where an elderly person was tricked into thinking he was talking to his broadband provider. Victim was told to turn on their computer and access was gained by the suspect. Victim believed they were being paid back for a poor service from their provider. Transaction was picked up by bank and cancelled. On the Wednesday 30th September there was a report of theft from motor vehicle at Lyndhurst Road Bexleyheath". Crayford ward:- "On the Wednesday 30th September along Heath Road Dartford at about 9.30 pm, Males were noticed trying to steal large plant pots from the victims address and had made off. Also, on the same road on the 1st October tow large artificial trees were stolen from the neighbour’s porch in the early hours in the morning. On the Friday 2nd October at about 1130pm along Shearwood Crescent there was a theft of a catalytic converter from a vehicle which was parked outside the house at the time. On the Sunday 4th October there was a report of a criminal damage to a motor vehicle, victims car tyre was slashed whilst parked on the street along Iron Mill Lane Dartford. Incident could of took place over a four-day period". Erith ward:-" There have been quite a few issues of Anti Social Behaviour from youths in Erith High Street. Pc George, PCSO Maxine and Adam have been identifying the youths from CCTV images from Erith town centre security, From this we have been carrying out home visits speaking to their parents and issuing banning letters, for Erith shopping centre to all youths involved 8 house visits in total were carried out from the area including Erith, Slade Green, Belvedere and Plumstead. We will be monitoring this along with Erith security making sure these youths do not return, if they do more home visits will be arranged. If you are living in Erith and are having any issues with ASB from youths get in contact with us. No Burglaries this week and motor crime is on the decrease again. While we are not officially doing CCS at the moment we are patrolling around Erith high street regularly so free to stop us and ask for any advice you may need". Northumberland Heath ward:-" There has been an increase of Theft from Motor Vehicle mainly Catalytic Converters. Also again about making sure valuables are not on show in vehicles as they would target your vehicle. Mainly occurring on Hurst Road. ASB is still on the decrease as high visibility patrols have disrupted youths while working with street duties. Recent incident on Horsa Road where male has begged to borrow money convincing residents he lives on the same road and does not return to pay money back. Just be mindful on who your answering the door to. Only 1 attempted burglary on the ward where someone tried to gain access to rear of property, again be mindful about leaving windows open and make sure valuables are not on show. The team have been out and about tackling hotspot areas where ASB and Drugs are present disrupting deals and dealing with youths". Slade Green and Northend ward:- "Somebody tried to gain entry to an empty property in Jenningtree Road in the early hours of Tuesday 6th October. Damage caused to the front door but nothing taken. A vehicle stolen from Kent was recovered from Rainbow Road on Monday and returned to Kent Police for investigation. A juvenile arrested for possession of points and blades by PC James in June this year, has been charged by the CPS on Tuesday 1/10/2020. He is due to appear in court later this month". 

Thamesmead East ward:- "No Burglaries this week. Motor Vehicle Crime - Overton Road Thurs 1/10/20 1:20 am – 1:40 am victim states suspect removed a work jacket with keys inside the pockets. Unknown how suspect got into the vehicle. Northwood Place Fri 2/10/20 1:15 am: - 1:20 am victim states 2 unknown suspects have entered the vehicle and removed two bags containing tools and a sub speaker. Wolvercote Road Sat 3/10/20 11:21am – 11:36 am HERMES delivery driver has had two parcels removed from van by suspects unknown. Manor Close Tues 6/10/20 9pm - 11:50pm suspect/s unknown have stolen vehicle from victim’s driveway. Broken glass found at the location. Good News Abandoned Vehicles which attracted ASB in Dexter House car park, have been removed after partnership working with Peabody Housing. PCSO Hobbs found a distressed bird on the overpass in Crossways. The bird was captured by PCSO Hobbs and returned to the canal". West Heath ward:- "There are no reported burglaries from Wednesday 30/09/20 to Wednesday 7/10/20. There is one reported theft of motor vehicle for the same period. On Friday 2nd October 20 at 1620 hours, a white Ford Sierra Cosworth index F647 TEV was stolen from Langley Road".

The end video this week is a short documentary on the history of Thamesmead. It is well worth a watch, and forms part of a series of documentaries about the local area. I will be featuring others in the series in the weeks to come. Let me know what you think by Emailing me at

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