Sunday, November 20, 2022


I was on my way home from work on Wednesday evening; I got the Elizabeth Line from Tottenham Court Road Station to Abbey Wood. Personally I find the Elizabeth Line to be excellent – reliable, quick and smooth. At Abbey Wood, as I was heading across the upper station concourse towards the barrier line, I noticed two dodgy looking individuals coming the other way, they both casually barged through the disabled / baby buggy barrier, forcing it open – they then both sauntered down the stairs and onto the Elizabeth Line platform. The way in which they avoided swiping in looked to me like the individuals did it on a regular basis. What shocked and annoyed me was that there were two station staff on the concourse who saw the criminal activity, and did nothing to stop it. Bearing in mind the huge cost overruns that the Elizabeth Line historically suffered, it strikes me that the organisation must need to recoup as much money as possible, and fare evading must need to be aggressively targeted. I wonder if any reader has noticed fare evading when using the Elizabeth Line? Email me at

Police are appealing for witnesses following a fatal collision in Bexleyheath. Officers were called at approximately 19:20hrs on Saturday, 12 November, to a serious collision in Bedonwell Road Bexleyheath Despite the efforts of emergency services, the driver of a red Citroen C1 car - a 62-year-old man - was pronounced dead at the scene. The man's family have been informed. Another vehicle involved in the collision – a silver Mercedes - failed stop and drove away from the scene. Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit (SCIU) based at Catford are investigating. The Mercedes was found abandoned a short time later. On Sunday, 13 November, an 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, causing a death whilst uninsured and failing to stop at a collision. He has been taken into custody. Anyone with information or dash cam footage of the incident is asked to contact the SCIU on 020 8285 1574.

A historically prominent local firm that was established on the riverfront at Erith was Herbert W. Clarke and Sons, which was set up in 1890. They started out as barge owners and lighter men, but by 1911 they took over Anchor Bay Wharf, which until then had been owned by Eastern and Anderson. As soon as Herbert W. Clarke and Sons took possession of the wharf, they formed a new import and export business, which mainly exported coal to Holland and Belgium.  Nearby was a company called Mayer Newman and Co. who were engaged in the scrap metal business – the scrap yard still exists today. It is now called European Metal Recycling, but is still in the same location in Manor Road. Further East along Manor Road was a truly massive factory and works owned by Turner’s Asbestos Cement Co. Ltd. The site covered a little over forty three acres; by 1912 the company pioneered the development of asbestos roofing material, and also produced a wide range of guttering, piping and fireproof insulation material, as well as a lot of other components for the building industry. We are still living with the legacy of this today; many old buildings need to have specialist demolition contractors to remove Turner’s asbestos building products, as the dust asbestos produces when cut or abraded is severely poisonous. I think if the company was still around today, they would have been sued into bankruptcy – but of course, around a century ago, nobody was any the wiser. Another world renowned company that had a base in Erith were Royal Doulton, who had an extensive factory located just off Church Manorway. They made salt glazed piping and tiling (I wonder if the lovely green salt glazed tiles that used to adorn the exterior of the former White Hart, before they were illegally removed when Potion bought the place came from the Royal Doulton works? We will never know). Royal Doulton also made their fine china in Erith, when experimental designs were produced that depicted local scenes as their decoration. These pieces are now rare and extremely collectable. I recall seeing one piece featured on “Antiques Roadshow” some years ago. Erith has been the historical home to many other manufacturers over the years, some of which are still in existence. One such company is ADM Oils (whom I featured in detail a while back), which has a huge processing facility in Church Manorway, which employs nearly 1,200 local people. It originally started up in 1908, when it was known as Erith Oil Works – the business then was similar to now; they crush and process all kinds of seeds, to extract their natural oils, which are used in foodstuffs, cooking oils and animal feeds. The seeds, then as now are brought upriver in large bulk freighter ships. The distinctive huge concrete silos that are still present on the ADM Oils site were constructed in 1916, where they were some of the earliest surviving examples of reinforced concrete construction in the UK. They were constructed by Danish structural engineering company Christiani and Neilsen, who invented reinforced concrete construction techniques. The earliest recorded industrial company established in Erith was a timber importing business called W.R Crow and Son, which was set up way back in 1795! Their warehouse is shown from the air in a photo taken in November 1948 - click on it to see a larger version. I will feature more on the history of Erith and the surrounding area in the future. The best reference work on the local history of the town was the four part “A History of Erith”, written by John A. Pritchard, which is now out of print. It was originally written in 1965, and substantially updated and revised in 1989, when it was reprinted. I have not seen a work since which is a patch on this venerable publication. If you have any information which can add to this, please feel free to drop me a line to

Work to refurbish and upgrade Erith Riverside Gardens has finally now begun. The company behind the refurbishment - Erect Architecture - describe the works thus:- "Erith Riverside Gardens are unique to the borough of Bexley as one of its most significant green spaces located directly next to the River Thames. Having successfully secured funding from the Mayor Of London’s Good Growth Fund, the London Borough of Bexley Council commissioned Erect Architecture to transform the gardens to reconnect visitors to the river, offer new opportunities for play and improve accessibility for all to enjoy this important green space in the heart of Erith. Overcoming the severance of views and access to the River Thames caused by the Flood Wall defences which run along much of the perimeter of the Gardens is an important design challenge. To address this, we are proposing to create an ‘upper promenade’ running parallel to the river, which would connect back to Erith High Street and the Thames Path with accessible links. New opportunities for play and fitness will be incorporated throughout the gardens, with outdoor gym features located along the promenade and a new playground inspired by the sites rich industrial history, located in the west. A number of city-wide and national walking and cycle routes are located next to the Gardens, including National Cycle Route One, which spans from Dover to the Shetland Islands. To the southeast there is also a publicly accessible launch point for boats using the River Thames. Celebrating these active uses alongside the riverfront is central to the proposals to improve gardens and transform them into a destination for local users and visitors alike. Features located on the threshold between the Gardens and the Thames path are proposed to give the opportunity for play, rest and to spend time in proximity to the river. New greenery including trees and planting will be introduced throughout as part of the improvements to the landscape and to further enhance the existing biodiversity of the site".

There have been numerous reports in both the local and national press about a higher than usual number of residential fires over the last few weeks. There have also been a number of violent assaults by youths against others in the form of firework attacks. Both the increase in fires and the attacks can be directly attributed to the misuse of fireworks. I have heard an increasingly large number of people voice the opinion that the law regarding the sale of fireworks to the public really needs to be revisited. Personally I  am of the view that one should need a licence to purchase fireworks, and that these would only be permitted for public displays, outdoor concerts, weddings and suchlike. The problem is that at the moment total idiots have access to fireworks, which are basically low explosives. The number of accidents and injuries that occur every year at this time are mainly down to irresponsible and malicious abuse of fireworks. Banning the general sale of them to individuals would go a long way to mitigate this. What do you think? Would this be an affront to personal liberty? Is it a price too high to pay? Let me know your thoughts.

A group of teenagers who reportedly threatened a Post Office worker with a gun after he refused to sell them alcohol are being hunted by police. The six youths - thought to be aged around 16 to 18 - entered the shop in Plumstead High Street about 5.20 pm on Saturday, September the 10th, and asked the shopkeeper for alcohol. When he refused to sell it to them, one of the youths produced a handgun and threatened the shop keeper with it. The group then left the Post Office and headed towards Plumstead Railway Station. They are wanted by the Police for conspiracy to commit armed robbery. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The main suspect, seen to be carrying the hand gun is described as a white male, wearing a dark grey tracksuit, a black side-bag, a black beanie and black and white trainers. He is of a slim build.” The force on Tuesday issued CCTV stills (shown above - click on them to see larger images) of six individuals that they want to identify, and are appealing for help from the public. Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting 5398/10Sep. To remain anonymous contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Whilst crossing the car park outside of Morrison’s in Erith last week, I saw a couple of motorists having a very noisy row. It appeared that they had some kind of disagreement over the usage of the electric vehicle charging unit located at the Eastern end of the supermarket. What surprised me was that the unit has the capacity to charge two vehicles at the same time, and there were only two vehicles involved in the dispute. I did not hang around to find out the details of the somewhat heated argument, but it did prompt me to think – do we need to have some kind of etiquette in respect of charging electric vehicles? After doing some online research, it would appear that a number of etiquette guides have been compiled – mainly in the USA, but it would seem that the basic principles are applicable world – wide.  The most widely referenced guide to EV charging uses the following guidelines:- 1. Plug-in vehicles only! Unless your car can make use of a charging point then this bay is not for you. Parking an “Internal Combustion Engined” (ICE) car in a charging bay is known as “ICE'ing”. It will win no one any friends, nor admiration. 2. Charging only! Even if it is a preferable space, you should only park in the bay by the EV charge point if you are going to charge. When you are at a public charge point it’s also considerate to move once you have completed charging to allow another driver use of the charge point. Of course there are some charge points where this isn’t possible, e.g. at airports or train stations - so use your initiative. 3. As soon as you have charged as much as you need, unplug and vacate the bay straight away. The rapid charger is not for parking at. It’s for charging and moving on from. This is one of the reasons for The Rapid Charge Paradox (“The faster the charger, the longer you spend watching your car charge”) - you can’t go far from a rapid charger while using it. While inconvenient this is about being considerate to other users. And increasingly drivers who leave their car charged and plugged in will be hit with “idle fees” for overstaying. Not only is it kind to head off before your car has rapid charged to 100%, it is an efficient use of time. The last 10% of your battery typically charges quite slowly, so it is quicker to get going when you reach circa 85% either to charge at the next en route rapid charger, or, better still, to charge at your destination. Charge point pointers:- It is better to be philosophical about other people abusing the commandments. You will quickly forget about the annoyance. You will not soon forget about a conviction for criminal damage. Try to match rapid charge events with similar length activities - coffee in a local cafe, a similarly timed walk, use of facilities. Watching your car charge is no one’s idea of fun. Try not to use the last possible en route rapid charger, ideally use the one before the penultimate. This gives you a safety buffer should it be occupied or out of service, as you have two more to try ahead of you. Try to get into the habit of topping up at your destination whenever you can. Whilst this feels alien for those used to refuelling, it reduces your reliance on (usually) expensive and inconvenient rapid charging and means charging happens when you are busy doing other things, thus minimising your time spent waiting to effectively nil.

The end video this week is something that I have been searching for online for some time. It is the edition of Time Team that researched the World War II defences against a possible German invasion at Shooter's Hill. Do give it a watch and send any comments to me at

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