Sunday, November 15, 2020

NYNE knockdown.

The photo above was taken by me early on Wednesday afternoon; it shows the demolition of the former NYNE bar, located in Bexleyheath Broadway, adjacent to the corner of Lion Road. The NYNE bar and nightclub was unique in the area. There are many nightclubs, but NYNE was unusual in that it held regular events for people with special needs and their carers. The place was even featured on the BBC News website, which you can see by clicking here. Before being a nightclub, the venue was a snooker hall; I do not know what the redevelopment plans for the site now are. The building was largely of wooden construction, and I guess rather past its prime of life. It is worrying just how many empty retail units there are in Bexleyheath at present; not all are due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though I am sure that this may have been a contributing factor for some. 

I have written in the past about the law of unintended consequences, and how it can affect people. I have also written about my concerns regarding the "Internet of Things" - especially in relation to home security devices which in some cases may worsen, rather than improve security. Amazon’s home security brand Ring is recalling roughly 360,000 of its Wi-Fi enabled video doorbells over concerns they may catch fire when incorrectly installed. The recall affects Ring’s second-generation video doorbell, with the defect appearing on units sold in the US and Canada between June and October of this year. Ring includes two sets of screws with its doorbell: the first are wood screws designed to affix the doorbell to a wall, while a second set of Torx T6 screws are used to attach the doorbell to its mounting bracket. What happens if you mix the screws up? The battery may be damaged by the wrongly chosen screws and overheat, according to recall notices posted on the websites of Health Canada and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In other words, if you pick the incorrect screw, you end up puncturing the battery, which is not good. To date, Ring has received 85 reports of overheating (and, in some cases, exploding) Ring units in the United States. In 23 cases, the fault resulted in property damage, while eight people reported suffering “minor burns.” Health Canada has reported just one incident, which produced no injuries or damages. Ring is estimated to have sold 350,000 units of the affected product in the United States during the period, with a further 8,700 sold in Canada. Customers aren’t expected to return their existing devices for a replacement or refund, but are being encouraged to contact Ring for updated installation instructions. One point to note is that the issue only affects Ring doorbells sold in North America; ones sold in the UK would appear to be unaffected - at least, to my knowledge, no incidents of inflammable Ring devices have to date been reported in the UK.  More on this issue in the future. 

Woolwich / Charlton based blogger and "proper" journalist Darryl Chamberlain, who runs the excellent 853 news website, has uncovered an update to a story that I thought was dead and buried. It turns out that the plans for two new river crossings, at Gallions Reach and Lower Belvedere may possibly be back on, after originally being cancelled in 2016. You can read the whole article on the 853 website here. There is a degree of polarisation of opinion regarding the necessity of extra river crossings; Latest estimates have London’s population growing by 1.5 million in the next 15 years, with South East London already taking on vast new housing developments. Proponents of the scheme believe more road links linking the north and south banks should be built sooner rather than later to accommodate the extra traffic this would bring. There is also a discrepancy between crossings in the West and East of London – there are twenty six Thames crossings between London Bridge and Kew Bridge to the west, while there are only eleven from Tower Bridge to Dartford Crossing in the East. I have mentioned the proposals to build either a bridge or a tunnel that would link Lower Belvedere with Rainham in Essex on several occasions before. Both options have plusses and minuses. There are a number of factors to consider if building a bridge at Belvedere:- 1) It would be close to major working wharves and would therefore require a high and long span, which could increase the cost to be similar to the cost of a tunnel at Belvedere. 2) Pedestrian / cycle facilities could be accommodated, although users would be exposed to poor weather. 3) Being further from the London City Airport, there is more flexibility on the type of structure that can be built than at Gallions Reach. Conversely a tunnel would have its own issues:- 2) It could be a similar cost to a bridge. 2) It would have little or no impact on shipping. 3) It potentially has less of an impact than a bridge on local properties and the future development of the area, particularly after construction. 4) It would be less susceptible to poor weather than a bridge. 5) A pedestrian and cycle tunnel could be considered less attractive to users than a bridge You will see a map above (click on it to see a larger version) which graphically indicates the route of the tunnel I propose – click for a larger view. The tunnel I propose is purely my own thought, and is not intended to reflect on any of the other “official” transport solutions which are currently being proposed. My suggestion would stretch between the Ferry Lane roundabout, South of Rainham town centre and the A2016 Bronze Age Way / Picardy Manor Way roundabout in Lower Belvedere. In effect, this would connect the A13 and Rainham in South Essex with the A2 and M25 via Bronze Age Way, and the South Circular via the A2016 Eastern Way towards Woolwich. It could also have the added bonus of connecting Rainham and Belvedere railway stations via a regular bus service through the tunnel. My vision would be of a structure very similar in size and scope to the existing Medway Tunnel which links Strood with Chatham in Kent. The Thames tunnel would use the same kind of immersed tube construction that the Medway Tunnel does – that is, sections of prefabricated tunnel sections are sunk into the river, joined together, then the water is pumped out. This relatively new method of construction is well suited to shallow and medium depths of water, and creates tunnels which are both very strong and relatively cheap to construct. Unlike the Medway Tunnel, I would hope that the Lower Thames tunnel would permit the use of bicycles via a raised cycle / walkway kept physically separate from the vehicular traffic. As previously indicated, by the time any tunnel of this nature had been constructed (which I understand normally needs an Act of Parliament) the level of harmful pollutants emitted by vehicles will be far lower than the already pretty low levels now, and many of the cars may well be zero emission. What do you think to the idea that the Belvedere to Rainham river crossing may actually happen after all? Email me at

Now for a special message:- "For over 60 years, The Rotary Club of Erith has brought joy to the local community at Christmas, by touring the streets with Santa and his sleigh and raising thousands of pounds for local charities and Special Schools, at the same time. Perhaps this year, we all need him more than ever! Whilst there will have to be big changes this year, planning is underway to continue the tradition. With Santa’s Elves in lock down, preparations are much more difficult than normal but they are determined to get the job done in time for the big day! So, it is very much a case of keep your eyes on their website and Facebook  page for further details". 

Now - an appeal from Bexley Campaign for real Ale (CAMRA) in respect of the currently closed and empty pub, The Belvedere Hotel, located at the bottom of Picardy Road, in Lower Belvedere:- "The Branch Chair was contacted this week by Bexley Council Planning officials in consultation about the outstanding application for residential development.  The pub has lain empty for a full year or more now and the application is not trivial.  We invite comments and replies on this, which, under reference 20/00311/FUL, is to be found in the Council Planning pages at In response to the approach, we have replied emphasising the significance, from our point of view, of ensuring that due process is done in regard to CAMRA's guidance on public house estate offers to the market.  Interested readers may wish to know more about this, or have questions to raise which we might be able to help with, or feel impelled to act in this or other cases.  We can be contacted at"

I have had an Email conversation at the beginning of last week from a regular reader - he offered me some very interesting and constructive feedback on the Vickers Luger video from last Blog update. He commented on a story he had read at some time in the past, about a close - run, near nuclear accident that happened at Woolwich Arsenal, when it was still an active weapons and ammunition production facility. It turned out that he was actually referring to a story I wrote back in July of 2014. During our discussion I asked the long term reader if I should revisit the story, as six years have passed, and I have picked up a lot of newer readers since then.  He agreed that I should bring the story up to date - so here is the story of what could have been the South East London Crater:- Recently I wrote about the late Bexleyheath resident and former top Soviet spy Melita Norwood. I said that much of the evidence in respect of her giving the Russians details of the British atom bomb project were contradictory and unclear. Subsequent research I have carried out now lends a stronger argument that she did indeed betray British atomic secrets, and this was the reason that she was awarded the Order of the Red Banner – the Soviet approximate equivalent to the British George Medal. Norwood worked as a secretary at the Tube Alloys project; ostensibly this was a group of Anglo – Canadian scientists, engineers and metallurgists carrying on research into materials which could better resist heat and corrosion for use in both defence and civilian  industry. Actually most of this was a cover for what the project was actually dedicated to, which was the creation of Britain’s first atomic bomb, and a few years later with the creation of a British Hydrogen bomb. Contrary to much of received opinion, Britain was not privy to much of the nuclear research the Americans carried out after the end of World War II.  The Tube Alloys project actually began in 1942, before the Americans began the much more widely known Manhattan Project. Many Tube Alloys staff did join their American counterparts at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge during the war, and contributed much to the creation of Fat Man and Little Boy – the weapons used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. Once the war had been won, politics took over and the non – US teams were repatriated, and the sharing of atomic information all but ceased under the terms of the McMahon Act of August 1946. (Ironically the Soviet Union got more British nuclear bomb design and construction information from Tube Alloys via the spying of Melita Norwood, than the Americans did by conventional means. The specific project to create a British nuclear weapon began in 1947 and was code named “HER” – which stood for High Explosive Research. After then Prime Minister Clement Attlee's government decided that Britain required the atomic bomb to maintain its position in world politics. In the words of Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, "That won't do at all ... we've got to have this ... I don't mind for myself, but I don't want any other Foreign Secretary of this country to be talked to or at by a Secretary of State in the United States as I have just had in my discussions with Mr Byrnes. We've got to have this thing over here whatever it costs ... We've got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it." Initially the British atom bomb project was housed as Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks in Kent, and also at the Royal Arsenal site in Woolwich (just imagine if there had been a serious accident – we might be calling Woolwich the South East London crater now). Later the entire production facility was relocated to Aldermaston, where it continues to this day. Britain’s early nuclear weapons were more than a little crude and shambolic; they lacked basic safety and security features, and potentially could go off on their own if the conditions were right. The main early post war bomb was called the Violet Club; it was a large implosion type un-boosted fission weapon that used a very large amount of Uranium 235 (which was less expensive and hard to enrich than the more efficient and powerful Plutonium 239 that the Americans and Russians used). Because of the very large weight – over 70 kilos of fissile material were used, the bomb was actually greater than critical mass (the amount of weapons grade fissile material needed to create a nuclear explosion) and could theoretically go off with very little provocation. The safety features on the weapon would have been laughable had the subject not been so serious. The arming switch of the bomb was secured with a bicycle padlock and an Allen key. The hollow sphere of Uranium that made up the warhead was filled up with 133,000 steel ball bearings, so that if the weapon did have its’ conventional explosive trigger accidentally go off, the sphere could not be crushed and go supercritical, causing a massive nuclear explosion. The ball bearings had to be removed before the weapon was ready to use. The trouble was, during routine maintenance, the bombs needed to be rotated to access various panels (including those that contained the bombs’ internal power supplies – a couple of six volt lead / acid motorbike batteries – I told you these bombs were built on the cheap). There are several documented occasions when the rubber bung holding the ball bearings in place fell out when the bomb was turned upside down, and all the ball bearings fell out over the floor. This left a very live and unpredictable weapon that could have gone off spontaneously. Now you see why I only half jokingly referred to the South East London crater. The graphic above (click on it for a larger version) was generated via the NukeMap nuclear explosion modelling website; it shows what would have happened had a Violet Club bomb been accidentally detonated whilst being serviced at Woolwich Arsenal - the results would have been horrific. Melita Norwood was not exactly secretive about her communist beliefs either to her employers or her friends and neighbours. The fact that she spied so extensively and so long for the KGB might lead one to wonder if other people knew her secret, and sympathised with her cause. Several books have been written on the subject of Melita Norwood and her long career as Russia’s top female spy; the best account is in my opinion “The Spy That Came In From The Co-Op” by Andrew Pierce. He conducted a series of interviews with Norwood in her house in Nursery Avenue, Bexleyheath from the day the spying story publicly broke in the spring of 1999 (he had been travelling to interview her on another subject, but the news story meant that he had a whole more important book to write than that he had intended).  Over the course of a few months and many cups of weak and milky Co-Op 99 brand tea – purchased from the Long Lane branch, she told him her complete story, whilst sipping from her Che Guevara mug. Like many traitors, Melita Norwood had a very selective memory, and her politics remained those of the extreme left until her death in 2005. The fact that MI5 and Special Branch used the excuse that she was too old to prosecute is surprising – although the real reason is that she would have probably spilled the beans on other spies that the authorities had also failed to detect for decades. Intelligence historian and writer Nigel West (the pen name of Rupert Allason) has given the opinion that Melita Norwood did more damage to British interests than the far more well – known Cambridge five group of KGB spies. Perhaps to protect their own already shaky reputations, the security services thought it better to let sleeping dogs lie. Please send any feedback to me at

The photo above shows members of the Erith Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team, along with a couple of Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association volunteers. They were on a weapons sweep on Friday morning in the Erith Riverside Gardens. I have one piece of bad news to report in relation to the local Police teams. The Police office in Pier Road, in Erith Town Centre is about to close for good. The last day of operation will be Sunday the 22nd November. After this, the various local SNT groups will be based in Bexleyheath Police Station, with the associated extra commuting from there which it will entail. 

Now, fittingly, here are the weekly local safety and security updates from the aforementioned Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly the report from Barnehurst ward:- "Unfortunately, Barnehurst has now suffered a Burglary. This occurred between  Saturday 07/11/20 from 10.00 pm to Sunday 08/11/20 at 07.20 pm. It is not known how entry was gained as there was no sign of any damage to the front door or to any windows. An Apple Laptop and a blue wallet containing bank cards and a driving licence were taken from within the property. The suspects have also attempted to steal the vehicle that was parked in the driveway however the attempt failed. Forensic officers attended the scene and a number of swabs have been taken and sent off to be tested. There have also been two incidents of vehicle crime in Manor Way. The first incident occurred between Tuesday 3/11/2020 at 06.30 pm and Wednesday 04/11/2020 at 06.00 pm whereby a Catalytic Convertor was taken from a Honda CRZ. On Friday 6/11/2020 at 11.00 am victim has noticed a front number plate missing, registration number AK19 YHG. Lastly, we received a call from a victim who was in Northall Road on his bicycle when two males blocked his path and wanted the bike. The victim handed the bike over rather than risk any further trouble. The suspects were described as both being white with brown hair, both F5.08, aged between 16 to 18 years old and one was wearing a grey tracksuit. If you saw anything please contact us". Belvedere ward:- "There was a reported shed burglary that occurred at an address in Gladeswood Road over the last 10 days. Access was gained to the rear garden of the property and it is thought that gardening equipment was taken. There appeared to be no attempt to enter the house at any stage. A group of youths remain an issue around the Albert Road recreation ground – we have received reports of the group setting off fireworks in the park area over recent nights, and we are aware that the group are using electric scooters in both Albert Road and Nuxley Road. Thus far, we have only been able to speak to a few members of this group however we will continue to actively patrol this particular area to deter this type of behaviour. If anyone has any information with regard to the members of this group, please contact the team. Lastly, over the last week, there have been two reports of attempted burglary at an address in Gertrude Road. PCSO Worrall has visited the resident concerned to offer advice and support. Both incidents have taken place in the early hours of the morning. Please ensure that your homes are secure when you are away from the property (for even a short amount of time) or last thing at night before you go to bed – with all doors and windows locked". Bexleyheath ward:-"Monday 2/11/20 1830 – 2100 Theft From Motor Vehicle Catalytic Convertor Stolen - Oaklands Road Car Park. Monday 2/11/20 1715 – 1800 Theft Other Wallet Stolen Broadway. Tuesday 3/11/20 1820 – 1830 Burglary Parcels stolen from unlocked porch Oaklands Road. Thursday 5/11/20 1345 – 1600 Theft Other Radiator Stolen from Front Garden Silecroft Road. Friday 6/11/20 1515 Theft Other Mobile Phone Stolen from Handbag Asda Broadway. Please ensure all doors and windows are locked and secured when you exit your home, make sure you use the keys to double lock. There was a report of an attempted theft of motor vehicle along Swanbridge Road Bexleyheath. Happened overnight on the Monday 9th Nov, suspects gained entry to the vehicle but did not manage to steal the vehicle. On Tuesday 10th Nov a wallet was lost on the bus and then the cards had been used in a shop in Bexleyheath – This was a sometime in the morning. There was also a report of a purse being stolen whilst the victim was in Lidl Bexleyheath. The incident happened last month but reported recently. A mobile phone was reported stolen whilst the victim was shopping in ASDA in the Broadway. When the victim went to pay they had noticed their bag open, this was about 3 pm onwards. A wallet was reported stolen whilst the victim was at the clock tower in Bexleyheath at about 5 pm. There was a report of a back door window smashed on a property along Oakland’s Road Bexleyheath that took place on the Wednesday 4th Feb from about 7 pm onwards". Crayford ward:-"We are really pleased to say that we have had no burglaries in Crayford in this last week.  No catalytic converters reported stolen either. A mobile phone was stolen from a shop counter in Station Road on Thursday 5th November at 16.15.  The phone was switched off, the suspect is believed to work locally. Between 01.00 and 09.40 on Tuesday 3rd November a grey Ford Focus was broken in to in Bexley Close.  A purse, driving licence, debit card, ID card and a small amount of cash, a sat nav, surgical gloves/masks and hand sanitiser were stolen.  Please let this be a timely reminder not to leave anything of value or your identity in your vehicle. Between 17.45 on Monday 9th November and 08.00 on Tuesday 10th November a silver VW Golf number plate GU63 OFG was stolen from Halcot Avenue, the owner still has the keys. Criminal damage was caused to shrubs and small trees on Thursday 5th November at approx. 17.00 at Hall Place by people lighting fires, some shrubs were also pulled out of the ground.  Had the ground been dry, this would have caused considerable damage. Over Halloween and Firework nights we were on late shifts responding to anti-social behaviour calls.  From Thursday 5th November this also meant reminding people lingering in groups that they should be at home observing the COVID guidelines, not risking a £200 fine that could increase should they be caught again.  We also disrupted a group who were using fireworks on Dartford Heath, the males lighting them ran away, the fireworks were confiscated so they couldn’t fall into the wrong hands.  During both these periods, there were several positive stop and searches for drugs". Erith ward - no report this week. Northumberland Heath ward:-"This week the team have been targeting a large group of youths who have been causing Anti Social Behaviour across the ward, predominantly  Belmont Road (Alleyways), Northumberland Rec, Wheelock close. We have now been supplied some very good CCTV footage, a number of the youths have now been identified. Some of these youths currently have CPNW’S (Community Protection Notice Warning) and will now be issued with a CPN. Those identified that do not already have a warning will now be issued with one. Thank you to Bike Aideh from the Community Safety Team for assisting with this. No burglaries on the ward this week. We have however had an attempted theft of a catalytic converter from Hengist road, the targeted vehicle was a Honda. Honda and Toyota appear to be the main target vehicles for this type of crime so please be aware". Slade Green and Northend ward:-"There was a burglary that took place in the early hours of Saturday 7/11 in Canada Road. Entry was made via an unlocked UPVC front door. Car keys and a car along with a handbag and purse were stolen. Ring Doorbell footage has picked up good images of the suspect and they have been identified. Arrest enquiries are ongoing after 2 negative attempts. Please ensure you lift the handle AND turn the key if you do have a UPVC door. For any further Crime Prevention advice, please let us know. A phone and a dashcam were taken from a vehicle, also in Canada Road at a similar time on the same night. It is unclear if the 2 incidents are linked. On Sunday 9/11 around 1645 hours, a resident in Hazel Drive left their car running as they popped indoors. They came out a few minutes later and the car was gone. No CCTV enquiries at this time. Please do not leave your keys in your car under any circumstances. A male interviewed by our team in May for offences including Criminal damage, Threatening Behaviour and riding a moped on the pavement, has been convicted at court. He has been given fines and fees totalling over £1000". Thamesmead East ward:-"Motor Vehicle Crimes - Alsike Road - Friday 6/11/20 following a pursuit by police, 2 males in a stolen vehicle were detained, when the vehicle eventually stopped. Manor Close - Saturday 7/11/20 between the hours of 8:15 am -12:00 pm the catalytic converter was stolen from a Honda vehicle. Seacourt Road - between the hours of 3:00 pm on Friday 6/11/20 and 1:00 pm on Sunday 8/11/20 the front and rear number plates were stolen. Leatherbottle Green - Sunday 8/11/20 between the hours of 5:00 am and 8:00 am a vehicle was stolen from outside of the house. The vehicle alarm was not activated and there was no sign of any broken glass near to where the vehicle was parked. Harrow Manor Way - on Sunday 8/11/20 at 11:45 hours a vehicle was stopped by police, following minor traffic offences having been committed. The driver who smelt strongly of alcohol was detained. Hartslock Drive - Between 3:00 pm on Saturday  7/11/20 and 11:45 am on Tuesday 10/11/20 a Toyota vehicle was stolen. St. John Fisher Road - Wednesday 11/11/20 between the hours of 6:00 am and 7:00 am a van was broken into, a wallet containing £50.00 cash and a bank card was taken. The card had been used to the value of £30.00. No damage was caused to the van." West Heath ward:- "There was one reported attempted burglary and one reported theft from motor vehicle from 04/11/20 to 10/11/20. The victim states that at some point from 1900 hrs on Wednesday 4/11/20 through 0800 hrs on Thursday 5/11/20 a suspect unknown has damaged his garage door in Budleigh Crescent in what he believes is an attempt to gain entry.There was one reported theft from motor vehicle from  Woolwich Road. On Monday 9/11/20 at 1800 hours a catalytic converter was stolen from a black Honda Civic index ESZ 3325".  

The end video this week is for a very good cause. Romford based radio station Time 107.5 FM, which has a great many listeners in the London Borough of Bexley, and far beyond, have just launched their annual "Give a Child a Christmas" appeal. This raises money to give Christmas gifts to underprivileged children, who otherwise might get nothing at Christmas time. A spokesperson at Time 107.5 FM announced that:- "This is being supported by local businesses and enables Christmas presents to be given out to those in need via charities such as Women's Aid, Haven House Children's Hospice, The Salvation Army, Peabody Trust, Social Services, Queens and King George's Hospitals on Christmas Day and many others. This year is going to be slightly different in order that we follow Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and we are encouraging supporters of the appeal to donate via our Go Fund Me page rather than handing in presents at Time FM and GBP Estates (although these will still be accepted). All the money raised will be spent in our local shops, lots of whom have agreed to give us a discount, to purchase all the toys and gifts we need.  We would love to raise as much money as we can by 7th December so all the gifts can be bought and wrapped". Comments and feedback as always to

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