Sunday, April 24, 2022


The local area has been subject to criminal fly tipping for many years. Unfortunately, the recent longer evenings and mild weather seem to have brought out even more criminal fly tippers than usual over the last week. In the last few days, three abandoned sofas have been dumped in the area in and around Manor Road in Erith. All three of these have been reported to Bexley Council. As you can see in the photo above, click on it for a larger view - one of the sofas was even dumped outside somebody's front door. I have spoken to several local residents and they confirm that the sofa was not dumped by anybody living in the street. One man told me that he heard noises whilst he was preparing for bed, but he did not look out to the window. For some unknown reason most of the dumping that has been taking place in Erith has been in the form of old and broken down furniture. One resident even joked with me that there was almost enough to set up a second hand home furnishings company! The sofa dumped in Manor Road itself mysteriously disappeared before the council appointed waste contractor could collect it. Ironically, it may be that someone has found a use for it and has upcycled it. The sofa located in Appold Street as shown in the photograph above was still where it had been dumped. There is a third sofa dumped at the bottom of Appold Street  at the junction with Wheatley Terrace Road. I would not be at all surprised if the same perpetrator was responsible for all three criminal dumping offences. What do you think? Email me at

The graphics above were taken from a brochure published back in 1933 for various kinds of houses and bungalows that were being built at that time on what is now called the Mayplace Estate in Barnehurst. The Mayplace Estate was aimed at professional, middle class customers - this can be seen not only by the (for the time) relatively expensive prices of the houses on the estate, but by the fact many came with the option of a garage - only the wealthy owned cars in the 1930's. On top of this, the publicity material shown above mentions the Barnehurst Golf Club - which back then would only have been open to members of a certain social standing - doctors, solicitors, accountants etc. having said that, it was the first golf club in the country to admit women as members. The history of Barnehurst is long and varied. The story of Barnehurst begins in 1745, when Miles Barne the son of a wealthy London merchant married Elizabeth Elwick (died 1747) the only child of Nathaniel Elwick of May Place in Crayford, on whose death in 1750 Miles Barne inherited May Place and its large estate. The family retained May Place and the remaining estate until 1938, when it was sold to Crayford UDC for £24,500. The name Barnehurst, a combination of "Barne" - the landowner and "Hurst" - Saxon word for woodland, came into being when a name was required for a station being built in Conduit Wood, Crayford, by the Bexleyheath Railway Company on their new railway, opened in 1895, where it crossed the May Place Estate owned by Colonel Frederick Barne. At that time the area we know as Barnehurst was part of the Parish of Crayford, and consisted of a mix of farmland and market gardens, with apple, plum and cherry orchards,together with wood and parkland belonging to the estates of May Place, Martens Grove and Oakwood. The small population was concentrated along and to the south of Mayplace Road. The opening of the railway failed to attract the large scale house developers, and passenger numbers were small only boosted at weekends by golfers travelling to the new Barnehurst Golf Course opened in 1903. Its club house the old mansion of May Place was destroyed by fire in 1959. The electrification of the Bexleyheath Line in 1926 signalled the start of the large housing developments of the 1920s and 30s. The first builder J W Ellingham chose the prime site next to the station on which to build the "Barnehurst Estate" of 578 semi-detached houses selling for £600 each. Building started along Barnehurst Road (previously called Hills and Holes Road) in 1926. The Midfield Parade of shops followed in 1928 and the estate was completed in the early 1930s. The builders W H Wedlock Ltd played a major role in the development of Barnehurst. In 1926 W H Wedlock Ltd started building the Mayplace Farm estate based on Oakwood Drive. Their brochure offered a comprehensive range of house and bungalow designs at prices from £495 to £850. Their next development of Lyndhurst Road, Brantwood Road and Risedale Road started in 1929. Their roads on this and later estates are easily identified, being named after Lake District locations. By 1932 development south of the railway was well advanced and the developers had moved to the more difficult terrain north of the railway. W H Wedlock Ltd developed the Mayplace Estate between Erith Road and Barnehurst Avenue. The only new Public House, the Red Barn, was built by Arnolds of Chelmsford in 1936. To the east of Barnehurst Avenue, New Ideal Homesteads Ltd started work on their Barnehurst Park Estate. It was not until after the war that lands of the Normandy and Venners farms were developed.

As I have previously mentioned, the war in Ukraine has caused the BBC World Service, and other international broadcasters to resume Shortwave radio transmissions, after years of relying on internet and local rebroadcasts on FM. The use of Shortwave radio is deemed by some as a retrograde step, but it proves that using cheap and easily used receivers, people in war zones, where there is no internet access or even landline phone availability can access news and information. To counter this, the Russians have been attempting to jam certain Shortwave radio frequencies, with what appears to be limited success. The international crisis has turned a substantial number of people both here and abroad back to broadcast radio, and some are enquiring about getting involved in Amateur Radio. Some years ago, the Amateur Radio licensing system was revised and simplified, and a great effort was made to encourage youth groups such as the Scouts and Guides to adopt the (then) new Foundation licence syllabus for their communications badge. This has met with a fair degree of success. To elaborate; the revised amateur radio licensing structure has three levels, each of which gives increasing levels of privileges to those who successfully pass each exam. The Foundation level is designed to give students a basic grounding in radio and electrical theory and practice. Most of the training is “hands on” and practical, with just enough theory for a successful candidate to understand how fuses work, and how to calculate the correct size of an antenna for a specific radio frequency. The exam is a simple multiple choice paper which lasts for 45 minutes. Once this exam has been passed, the newly qualified candidate will be able to apply for a UK amateur radio call sign, and can then go on air on certain specific frequencies on a low power of not more than ten watts. The next, Intermediate level of licence is where things start getting somewhat tougher; there is more theory based learning to the course, and participants are also expected to learn practical skills such as soldering. Successful completion of the Intermediate exam allows the amateur to transmit on an increased power of fifty watts. The ultimate level of amateur radio qualification is the Advanced licence; this is pretty tough, and requires a lot of personal study, as well as the recommendation of attending a recognised training course. Unlike the two lower levels of qualification, there is no practical element to the Advanced licence course – it is purely academic, though in addition to electronic and radio theory,  there is a significant element of law, specifically in relation to planning permission for antennas, resolution of radio interference disputes and the use of radio in vehicles. The advanced exam is roughly equivalent to a City and Guilds level 2 qualification. If this all sounds a bit like Scientology, with their arcane and ever more expensive courses, nothing could be further from the truth - for a start amateur radio is based on sound, proven science and engineering fact. With some self discipline and a fair amount of study, one can pass all three exams within a period of not much more than a year; the cost, including course materials will not exceed £200. Some amateurs decide that the extra privileges that the higher licence levels grant are not for them, and stick with a Foundation or Intermediate licence. One thing no amateur needs to study these days is Morse Code. The requirement for this was dropped some years ago, though many operators still learn it voluntarily, as it is a very efficient method of communication, especially if power levels are limited, or reception conditions are poor. Personally I have an Advanced class licence, though I have to say I don’t go on air very often nowadays. Many think that the use of old fashioned radio is outmoded in the age of widespread Internet access and the ubiquity of the mobile telephone. Nothing could be further from the truth. During national emergencies where communications infrastructure such as phone cables, mobile masts and other hardware is damaged or otherwise unavailable, the only reliable method of communication is by radio, as it requires absolutely no infrastructure to work. To this end, the amateur radio community has a well regarded and very professional group of volunteers known as RAYNET – which is an additional emergency service with the same status as the RNLI. RAYNET set up and operate emergency communication systems in areas where conventional mobile phone coverage is negligible, or where other forms of communication are down due to adverse weather conditions (flooding / high wind damage etc.) They work in conjunction with Police, Fire Brigade and the Ambulance Service, and regularly practice in joint exercises. You may see them at large public events such as county shows and other meetings that involve large numbers of the general public. They are easily identifiable by their high visibility tabards with RAYNET labelled on the back. More on the radio war in Ukraine in the end video this week. 

Yesterday was Record Store Day 2022. The event is described as follows:- "Record Store Day is the one day of the year when over 260 independent record shops all across the UK come together to celebrate their unique culture. Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion. Thousands more shops celebrate the day around the globe in what’s become one of the biggest annual events on the music calendar. The event was conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners, as employees wanted a way to celebrate and spread the word about nearly 1400 independently owned record stores in the US and thousands of similar stores internationally. The first Record Store Day took place on April 19, 2008. Today there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica. This is a day for the people who make up the world of the record store—the staff, the customers, and the artists—to come together and celebrate the special role these independently owned stores play in their communities. While there’s only one Record Store Day a year, the organisation works with both independent and major labels throughout the year to create contests, special releases and promotions in order to spotlight the benefits of supporting these independent, locally owned stores with music purchases throughout the year.   In 2010, Record Store Day coordinated its first RSD Black Friday event, which gives record stores exclusive releases as part of the attempt to redirect the focus of the biggest shopping day of the year to the desirable, special things to be found at local stores" Locally we still have long established independent record dealer Cruisin’ Records in Welling. I recall visiting the shop in the 1980’s – it held a bewildering variety of stock, from pretty much every musical genre; at the time it leaned towards jazz funk and soul, and I can recall hearing adverts for the shop on several dance themed pirate radio stations at the time. Erith used to have an independent record shop, which was part of a small chain – T.W Records was located on the site of the cab office on the junction of Pier Road and Cross Street. It was a strange place, managed by a person of (to me anyway) indeterminate gender. I never really worked out whether they were he or she, or perhaps somewhere in between (the public profile of transgender people back then was pretty low). They were not exactly unfriendly, more distant and uninterested – well, that was my impression anyway. The shop was on split levels, with most chart singles and albums on the lower tier, and the more obscure genres, along with a couple of slot machines, and the cash desk were on the upper tier. What anyone who ever visited the place always recalls is the ceiling, which was remarkable – giant purple plaster stalactites hung down, almost reaching head height when you were on the upper tier – they had been there for as long as I could recall. T.W Records also had a shop in Bexleyheath, near the clock tower, where the Furze Wren is now located, as well as a third in Plumstead High Street, though I never visited that branch. The Bexleyheath shop also housed a small cafe, that constantly seemed busy, though I reckon some of their customers nursed a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie for hours. It was a much more conventional looking shop, but both the Erith and Bexleyheath stores had one thing in common – it was widely known that they were both chart return shops. They had special tills that monitored record sales that fed into the weekly record chart. It was meant to be secret, but pretty much everyone – including the record company sales reps knew which shops were chart return, and always made sure that rarities, picture disks and other items desirable to collectors would make their way to those outlets. I recall that the Erith branch would often have large promotional displays in the window, which were left lit up at night, the glow from these would reflect off the purple stalactites to give an eerie atmosphere – very surreal stuff. A pity that the shops are long gone – but at least Cruisin’ Records are carrying on the tradition.

Following my recent article on the Pie and Mash shop in Albert Road, Upper Belvedere, I was contacted by a regular reader who told me that a Pie and Mash outlet had recently opened in Erith. The On The Manor Pie and Mash shop is located at the Eastern end of Manor Road in Erith, in what is the Anchor Bay industrial estate. The address is:- 1a Anchor Bay Industrial Estate. I am told that the food is supplied by Goddard’s Pie and Mash. There was a short lived Pie and Mash shop located within the Nemesis Gym in Erith Riverside Shopping Centre, but it only lasted a few months, for unknown reasons. *Update* I was informed by regular reader Cathy on Friday of a rather unfortunate development; the On The Manor Pie & Mash shop ceased trading on Friday of last week; I understand that the reason given for the abrupt closure was that the due to the sale of Anchor Bay industrial estate for redevelopment. The takeaway only opened in February of this year, making the venture one of the shortest running that I can recall in recent years,. Another question is raised; if the statement about the redevelopment of the Anchor Bay industrial estate is indeed true, just what is due to be built on the site? If you have any information on this, please Email me in confidence to

I recall the hype and drama behind the launch of Windows XP back in 2001. I was invited to the UK launch at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank. I had managed to wangle a free ticket through work (being employed at the time by a multi - national blue chip company did occasionally have its perks). The event started with a film presentation with professional idiot and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on screen “WWE” style, bigging up the new OS and then saying how he regretted not being able to attend in person. Just as he finished this, when, also in a style reminiscent of "WWE" he ran down the aisle from the back of the stalls hollering and whooping like someone demented. I was sat at the end of a row, and he passed me within inches. If I had slightly better presence of mind, I could have stuck my foot out and sent him flying. Microsoft have released several versions of their desktop operating system since; the latest iteration is Windows 11, which came out last year. It would seem that despite a large amount of promotion and advertising, it is not very popular at all. In an article on technology news website "The Register" the problems with Microsoft and Windows 11 are outlined. An impartial third party version audit has Windows 11 on 1.44 percent of Windows machines surveyed. The long-dead XP and recently culled Windows 7 were on 1.71 percent and 4.7 percent respectively. Windows 8 only accounted for 1.99 percent while Windows 10 was installed on an impressive 80.34 percent of systems. "Although the rate of adoption is increasing bit by bit, it's obvious that Windows 11 upgrades aren't going as fast as Microsoft had hoped, especially within the business environment," said Roel Decneut, chief strategy officer at Lansweeper, the company charged with carrying out the version audit "Many organisations have been put off from having to buy new machines that meet these conditions, while others are simply happy with the current existence of Windows 10 which continues to be supported until 2025." With more than half of the devices surveyed incapable of a Windows 11 upgrade, thanks to Microsoft's stricter hardware requirements, customers would be forgiven for staying put. It is hard to imagine many enterprises doing a wholesale upgrade until Windows 11 has been out for at least year or so and had time to settle down. In terms of adoption trend, consumers are unsurprisingly ahead of businesses when it comes to Windows 11. The OS is headed toward 2.5 percent in terms of consumer share while barely passing 1 percent for business. I feel that the days of a new Windows release being something of an event seem to now be long over. 

Following on from my earlier article regarding radio and the war in Ukraine, the end video this week is a short documentary on the way communications by Russian military and intelligence sources are being intercepted and analysed by a large group of amateur volunteers using open source software and hardware, and how this is affecting the course of the conflict. This is the first major war where civilian intelligence gathering has exceeded that of the conventional national organisations. The video makes for fascinating and informative viewing. Let me know what you think by Emailing me at

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