Sunday, October 10, 2021


The upper of the two photos above may turn out to be a historical record. It shows a Southeastern Class 466 Networker train arriving at the Kent bound Platform Two at Erith Station. As mentioned last week, the franchise currently operated by Southeastern is being compulsorily taken over by the government backed SE Trains on the 17th of October. What ios rather less well known is that not only is the train operating company changing, but the trains on the North Kent Line will also be changing. The Class 466 Networker in the photo above (click on the picture to see a larger version) may be one of the last to be seen in service on the line. The Class 466 is a 2-car Electric Multiple Unit (EMU). It is powered from 750 V DC third rail and used extensively in multiple with 4-car 465s to provide 6-car and 10-car formations. 43 units were built between 1993 and 1994 by Metro Cammell (who built the 465/2s) using GEC traction. Used by Network SouthEast, then Connex South Eastern upon privatisation, they passed to South Eastern Trains and currently Southeastern. As anyone who has used the Networker trains will be aware they are old, dirty and scruffy. The seats are threadbare and the rubber floor covering is bubbled and worn. The trains were due to have a mid - life refit a few years ago, but this never happened. As of last Monday, new trains are being introduced to the lines. The new units are being leased from South Western Trains; they are 2017 built Class 707 "City Beam" trains, as seen in the lower of the two photos above - click for a larger view. These units are more power efficient, have a much smoother ride, improved internal digital signage, and much better disabled access. The only downside of the newer units is that they do not have onboard toilets. Having said that, the toilets on the old Class 466 Networker trainis are frequently locked and out of service, so it may not be quite the inconvenience (excuse the pun) that some might anticipate.  

The mystery surrounding the untaxed, uninsured recreational vehicle with no MOT that had been illegally parked in Fraser Road, Erith deepens. The van has now moved - at some point between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on Friday evening, according to a local source. As it would appear that the DVLA only work office hours, it is currently assumed that the criminal owner of the scruffy and worn out camper van has somehow removed the clamp on the front offside wheel, and has driven off in the illegal vehicle before the authorities could impound and crush it. If you have any information on the current whereabouts of the camper, please let me know in complete confidence - I will pass any information onto the Police and DVLA and keep the identity of any witness a secret should they so wish. Email me at

It would seem that things are happening with the former P2 Events Centre located inside Electricity House, on the corner of Pier Road and Queens Road in Erith. The P2 Events Centre has had a relatively short, and extremely controversial life. It was originally Erith Snooker Centre, but was aggressively taken over by the African church that occupied the ground floor of the building - apparently a lawsuit resulted from this, but the outcome is unknown at this point. Bearing in mind the whole of Electricity House is scheduled for redevelopment in the next few years, the fact that the former Snooker Centre site is being offered for sale is somewhat surprising. From what I have been able to determine, and understandably some of the precise details are sketchy, the operators of the P2 Events Centre would appear to have been declared bankrupt, and their creditors have forced the sale via receivership. The P2 Events Centre is going up for sale by auction on the 10th and 11th of November. You can see the full details by clicking here. More on this story in the future.

If you have an elderly relative with a basic, non smart mobile phone, or indeed you have a no frills, simple mobile yourself, you may be in for a bit of a shock. Many of these kinds of phones use legacy 2G or 3G connectivity in order to make and receive phone calls. The largest mobile service provider of these old technologies is planning to phase out 2G and 3G mobile connectivity. London and the South East is set to be one of the first regions to have the historical services withdrawn. British Telecom, with its subsidiaries EE, BT Mobile and Plusnet is the organisation behind the planned 2G and 3G wind downs. Other mobile phone companies will no doubt announce their own withdrawal of 2G and 3G, as they rely on network infrastructure that is owned and operated by BT. It is going to wind down 3G connectivity by 2023 as it looks to increase its 4G and 5G coverage across most of the UK by 2028. The lack of 3G should not be too much of a problem for most users, because by that point, most people will have a 4G or 5G-capable handheld. The telecommunications giant said less than two per cent of data traffic over its EE network used 3G in March, and dropping 3G will free up bandwidth for 4G and 5G. “As part of efforts to ensure all customers can benefit from the most reliable connections 3G services will also be retired, with customers across BT brands phased off 3G by 2023,” it announced in a recent press release. The change will affect EE, BT Mobile, and Plusnet subscribers, though users of other service providers will almost certainly also be affected. BT said it will also retire 2G in the next few years, according to Reuters. Old 2G and 3G mobile handsets will cease to function when the services are decommissioned. It would be advisable for users of the legacy technologies to invest in a modern handset with 4G / 5G connectivity.  The goal is to focus on and invest more into 4G and 5G networks. As a backdrop to all this, there has been an increase in demand for connectivity as people work, study, and shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic. “We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth,” said Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group. It is anticipated that BT will push 4G broadband into more remote areas and is planning to cover at least a further 4,500 square miles over the next four years. At the same time, it’ll be expanding 5G coverage, and wants to provide 5G to 90 percent of the whole country, in terms of landmass, by 2028.

This month marks the 47th anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald's restaurant in the UK, which opened in Woolwich in October 1974. On the opening day, crowds gathered outside the shiny new fast food outlet. Inside, they found wooden seats, an ashtray on every table, and some of the cheapest meals locals had ever seen. Inside the decor was a pretty grim brown and cream colour with some massive photo portraits on the walls. But the hamburgers, which were "made with 100% pure beef, topped with pickles, mustard and ketchup, served in a freshly toasted bun" cost just 15p. A cheeseburger – they just added some "mellow cheese" – was 21p while for those with a "big appetite" you could pick up a Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big Mac for 45p. A McMariner, which is now called a Filet-O-Fish, cost 30p and a value meal of a hamburger, fries and milkshake, known as United Tastes of America, cost 48p. The Powis Street, Woolwich branch was opened by Ed ’Stewpot’ Stewart was the personality, along with the local mayor and hundreds of people who had already heard about ’The Difference at McDonald’s’. The serving staff were mostly middle-aged women who looked like dinner ladies, and the queue stretched down the road. One customer opened her first burger and turned to her friend, ’There’s no butter in these rolls’ she tutted. ’No, and no knives and forks, either,’ her friend replied. McDonald’s approach and brand originally traded on its American heritage and novelty factor before gradually evolving into a part of family life tailored for a UK market. When it opened its first British restaurant it had to educate consumers about this new concept of counter-service, fast eating. McDonald's management undertook a great deal of research before choosing Woolwich as the location of their first restaurant. They carried out a number of surveys and Woolwich had the greatest demographic mix of anywhere they surveyed, possibly because of the presence of both the Royal Artillery training regiment and Thames Polytechnic, which at the time encouraged foreign students, along with the influx of families working on the construction of the Thames Barrier, begun in the same year. Since 1974, more than 1.5 million people in the UK have either worked in McDonald’s and its franchises, or have been employed by its suppliers, according to the company. Today burger-chain McDonalds have more than 1200 stores open across the UK.

With the fuel delivery crisis still rumbling on and petrol prices expected to rise by around 5p-a-litre in the coming days, more drivers are reportedly considering buying an electric vehicle. The latest EV due to hit the market next year is Citroen's diminutive Ami, which is as long as a standard UK parking space is wide and has a range of just 46 miles. The Ami will actually be classed as a quadricycle. That means it can be driven by anyone over the age of 14 in France, and potentially anyone over 16 with a provisional licence in the UK and rest of Europe. It is not legally classed as a car. Citroen describes the new Ami thus:- “New Citroën AMI 100% ëlectric is a daring response to the challenges faced in today’s cities and urban environments. As a 100% electric vehicle, the AMI emits zero emissions and has a 5.5kWh battery that recharges in just three hours from a standard electric socket. ​ With a range of 43 miles and a top speed of 28mph, the AMI is a modern solution for modern mobility needs, like nipping around cities or popping to your local supermarket with zero fuss. AMI is the mobility solution for today, and tomorrow. Taking inspiration from the Citroen 2CV, the AMI is the breakthrough response of an innovative Brand that is truly inspired by its customers. A Brand attuned to new consumer needs, the challenges of urban travel and increased awareness of the environment. AMI is accessible to all: in France for example it can be driven by 14 year olds without a driving licence!​" The Ami will actually be classed as a quadricycle. The French maker, having confirmed that it will sell the tiny battery model in Britain from 2022 just a fortnight ago, says it has already taken over 1,000 reservations online. A total of 1,130 pre-orders have been placed on the car company's UK website, which requires a £250 deposit that is refunded if the driver changes their mind. These reservations were on top of the 14,000 individuals who have registered their interest in the Ami for when it arrives in the UK next spring. Citroen has referred to it as 'a daring response to the challenges faced in today's cities and urban environments', though it could also be seen as an appealing prospect for anyone who drives daily short distances as forecourts continue to experience shortages of fuel. The Ami uses a 5.5kWh battery that recharges in three hours from a conventional domestic socket. This provides a top speed of just 28mph and a claimed range of 46 miles. At only 2.4 metres long and 1.4 metres wide, it could - in theory - be parked sideways in a UK bay (2.4 metres wide by 4.8 metres long), though the tiny dimensions means there only enough room for driver, passenger and a small item of luggage. Ami's zero-emissions also means it is Congestion and Ultra-low Emissions Zone charge exempt, with the latter due to extend across London in a matter of weeks. While UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, it is expected to be priced from around £6,000. In France, the basic Ami costs €6,990 (£5,945) rising to €8,350 (£7,119) for a range-topping model. Car share and rental options are also being explored, as is already the Ami's main use in Paris, where it can be hired in the city in a range of flamboyant colours In France it is bought entirely online and can either can be delivered to your home or collected from a pick-up point, with the mantra: 'Ordered from your sofa, delivered to your home.' That is also likely to be the case for UK customers. All customers are reminded that Ami will be adapted for the UK market, but will remain left-hand drive. 'One significant benefit of AMIs left-hand drive configuration when being driven in the UK, is that it will allow for a kerbside exit from the vehicle for the driver when parking at the roadside in a city centre,' says Citroen. Motorists have for over a week faced struggles to fill their cars with petrol and diesel as panic buying across the country has sparked fuel shortages at filling stations. Online motor retailers say that for some the fuel crisis could be the 'tipping point' to ditch their internal-combustion-engine cars and get behind the wheel of EVs. Online searches for electric vehicles exploded by an incredible 1,500 per cent last week. The nation's biggest used car retailer, Auto Trader, reported a 'huge spike' in demand for electric cars said it had seen a 61 per cent rise in electric vehicle searches in the first weekend of the crisis and also saw a huge uplift in the number of people sending enquiries to retailers, with one sent every two minutes. Ian Plummer, Auto Trader's commercial director, said this suggested that 'people aren't simply flirting with the idea of electric but have been encouraged to actively pursue a purchase.' Britain's motorists face a second week of fuel crisis as people panic buy petrol and diesel over concerns about HGV driver shortages. Motor sales platform carwow also claims to have experienced an 'unprecedented boom' in people looking to switch to electric vehicles. What do you think? Email me at with your feedback.

I received the following press release regarding the Park East development last week; it reads:- "The Leader of London Borough of Bexley Council has visited Erith to see the progress on site of a new development of apartments, which is transforming a tired and dated high-rise estate in the borough. Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, attended the ‘Park East’ development along with Councillor Sue Gower, Cabinet Member for Communities. The Councillors met the team who have maintained progress on site throughout the Covid pandemic and who are now getting ready to welcome the first residents this month. Park East is the latest joint project by Orbit and Wates Residential. It is being developed by the same team responsible for the success of neighbouring Erith Park on the former Larner Road estate in Erith.  Both schemes have taken tower block estates and transformed them into attractive new communities with modern, high specification homes set in attractive landscaping. Councillor Teresa O’Neill OBE, Leader of the London Borough of Bexley, commented: “It was great to visit this new development and see the fantastic progress first hand. This is a great example of the kind of good growth we want to see in the borough. Not only has it provided attractive new homes in an area that was in need of regeneration but also some great new outdoor space for residents to enjoy.” When complete, Park East will include a total of 320 apartments for sale, shared ownership and rent.  All the homes have a large balcony or terrace and the use of attractive communal gardens.  For families there are the added attractions of the Active Horizons community centre, Jacqueline Gems Childcare nursery and the play and ecology areas of Erith Park. Sales launched on 21 August and both shared ownership and market sale homes are selling well. Paul Richards, Group Director of Customers and Communities from Orbit, added: “We were delighted to welcome the Leader and Cabinet Member to Park East, which alongside Erith Park is not only delivering over 900 new homes, but also providing work experience, apprenticeships and supporting a range of community projects and local businesses, which will benefit the whole community. Delivering Park East has been an extraordinary challenge and the Council’s support and encouragement has been vital every step of the way.” Helen Bunch, Executive Managing Director, Wates Residential, said: “Like Erith Park, Park East is going to be a shining example of successful regeneration in Bexley through mixed tenure development. It’s in one of the most affordable places to live in London, and the impressive sales centre here brings to life what living at Park East will be like. “Everyone deserves a great place to live and we want people to enjoy these spacious apartments that have been created to be adaptable with hybrid working in mind. Hyperfast broadband is ready and waiting to go live just as soon as people move in.” Prices start at £257,500 for one bedroom apartments and £297,000 for two bedrooms. 77 homes are Shared Ownership properties which will be available to purchase via Orbit Homes, whilst a further 64 private sale properties are available to purchase through Wates. Due to ongoing Covid-19 protection measures, please make an appointment to visit the sales centre.  Contact Jeanette on 01322 771472 for private sales and Jane on 01322 771474 for shared ownership. For anyone local not quite ready to buy, there are also London Living Rent apartments available, where people can rent whilst saving for a deposit.  Register your interest for these at Other rented homes will be let to local households nominated by London Borough of Bexley Council through Bexley HomeChoice".

The end video this week features YouTuber Geoff Marshall, who specialises in public transport videos; in this piece, he features the aforementioned Class 707 City Beam trains, on their first day in local service. Who says I don't plan these things? Comments and feedback to

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