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History “This is a historic day for Greenwich Peninsula and without doubt, this is one of the most exciting developments in London – of great significance to the capital as a whole, as well as to our borough. This scheme will bring the long-term regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula to fruition, cementing what is a whole new district for London providing housing and jobs for tens of thousands of people and landmark new facilities and buildings” (Councillor Denise Hyland). Greenwich Peninsula, which is surrounded on three sides by the river Thames, is in the east area of London. One of London’s famous landmarks, formerly known as ‘The Millennium Dome’, can be found on the tip of the peninsula. The area was first drained in the 16th century, so that the land could be cultivated. During this era, individuals accused of piracy were frequently hung in cages at Blackwell Point, precisely where the Dome is situated, to deter any other would-be pirates. As London grew, the peninsula quickly became increasingly industrialised, and by the 19th century there were many sites producing chemicals, steel, iron, cement, animal feed, asbestos, bronze and heavy guns. A large power station and gasworks took up the largest proportion of the peninsula, and at one point the gasworks was known as the largest producer of its kind in Europe. However, unfortunately the good times did not last, and the peninsula was hit by the widespread deindustrialisation of England in the late 1900s; many companies fell into financial crisis, and others moved overseas where production costs were cheaper. No longer producers, England was rapidly coming a consumer-based society. At the turn of the 21st century, most of the remaining industry was concentrated on the western side of the peninsula. As for the rest of the land, a large proportion of it was purchased by the Homes and Communities Agency (previously known as the National Regeneration Agency). The agency invested approximately £225 million into the area, helping to create homes, commercial spaces and new transport links. The construction of the Millennium Dome came next, alongside the Greenwich Millennium Village, which brought further residential development to the area: more homes, a school, a medical centre and a Holiday Inn. Currently, Greenwich Peninsula is undergoing more development as 15,000 new homes, two schools, a new transport hub (including London’s first cruise terminal), a 60,000 square metre business space and a 40,000 square metre film studio are being constructed. The Royal Borough of Greenwich Planning Board approved the planning application in 2015. It is estimated that 4,000 of the new homes will be affordable, and that the development will bring at least 12,000 new jobs to the area. Despite the optimism, there has been much criticism concerning long periods of inactivity, where little seems to be achieved. There are also disputes among developers and councillors over turning London into a high-rise capital, similar to Hong Kong or Manhattan. Many argue that London is not suited to being carpeted over with such towers, especially when families will have very little chance of ever living in them. Having said that, it is obvious that some development is underway and the area is gradually being transformed. Our Version of Events We were sat inside McDonalds and it was getting late. Despite the fact that we were in the heart of the capital which is celebrated for its fine quality food, diversity and choice, we ended up choosing this fine establishment to fuel up before we went out exploring. As you might expect, it smelt strongly of grease, tomato sauce and cheap cleaning product; the floors were so caked in all those substances customers could slide their way right up to the counter; it was a bit like curling without the stones. For a while we each stared hard at our burgers, searching for some evidence of something natural as we munched on what were effectively bags of salt with a few crispy fries hidden inside. Suddenly, my eyes caught a glimpse of something. A long scraggly hair poking out from under the gherkin. I pulled at it, hoping to tug it out in one swift yank, but it kept coming. It grew longer and longer with every tug. Yummy! After an intense struggle, the beasty hair, coated in goo and white bits (which I was hoping was mayonnaise), was eventually successfully removed. Cleared of all debris (hair, fingernails and all that sort of shit), I began to prepare myself for the taste sensation that was about to ensue. Death in a bun, with a bit of brown lettuce squeezed in-between for aesthetics. Precisely fourteen minutes and eight seconds later, we left McDonalds relatively unscathed. Now, fully fuelled on absolute shit, we thought it would be a good idea to check out a massive development on the peninsula that we’d spotted earlier in the day. It didn’t take long to make our way over there, and once we arrived we decided to have a little wander around the premises first of all, to check out the camera situation. Initially, it didn’t look good. There were cameras of all shapes and sizes dotted around (big ones, tall ones, small ones and rotating ones), hundreds of the fuckers, along with PIRs and several high-powered lights. At the time we were thinking that we’d never seen so many security devices in one location before, but, in hindsight, we always end up thinking this… What made things worse was the heavy traffic. Anyone would think the city never sleeps. After deciding where we would enter, we waited. We waited some more. Then, we did a little bit more waiting, just for the crack. And, POOF! After smashing a bottle of instant fog against the ground, all of a sudden we magically appeared inside the construction site. I’d like to say that we popped along to the Leaky Cauldron earlier in the day, and that we’d managed to lay our hands on some of that magic dust they all rave about, but it turns out it doesn’t really exist. We had to make do with bottled fog from the North York Moors. It was a right bastard to collect with empty Sprite bottles and fishing nets from Aldi, but we managed it. Inside, we raced to the nearest crane. It was very difficult to access, so we whipped out a grappling hook and harpoon launcher. This made things a lot easier. Like ninjas in the night we ascended the rope and managed to get onto the crane itself. Once inside the main tower where the ladder is located we began to climb, right up to the hatch. Disappointingly, it was locked, so we decided we’d try another one and started to descend. At the bottom of the crane though, we discovered that there was access to a basement, so we popped inside in search of water. By now the McDonalds had vaporised all the water content in our bodies, so we were parched. Thankfully, we found some, and what a refreshing experience it was! At that moment I would have been willing to drink the Thames, I was so thirsty. After drinking our body-wright in water, we continued on to the next crane. We raced to the next crane, and the many litres of water we’d consumed sloshed about inside us noisily. At least it felt that way. At the base of the next crane, Mayhem volunteered to go first. Having used up the grapple hook, he was forced to use suction cups this time round. His ascent was painstakingly slow, but eventually he made it to the hatch. Unfortunately, this one too was locked. Feeling even more disappointed and disheartened, we decided to take the stairs to the top of the nearby building instead (which was about fifteen storeys high). We figured the night wouldn’t be an entire waste if we got some shots from up there. It was only when we reached the top of the building that we noticed yet another third crane. Deciding that we’d try our luck one last time, we decided to scramble up and see if access was possible. Fortunately, this hatch was unlocked! Moments later we emerged on the top of the crane, surrounded by fantastic views of the peninsula. Several other cranes were visible from our position, and they too looked quite spectacular from where we were stood, with their range of lights and colours. Wasting no time, we whipped out the camera gear and started taking photographs. After that, we did the usual thing of hanging around for a wee bit, taking the time to take in the view with our own eyes. In the end, we felt satisfied with how the night turned out. Explored with Ford Mayhem, Slayaaaa and two other anonymous individuals. 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7: 8: 9: 10: 11:
St Alfege is the Anglican parish church in the centre of Greenwich. There has been a church here for over a thousand years, dedicated to the memory of Alfege, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred on this site in 1012. The church has connections with many famous figures in British history, including Henry VIII, Thomas Tallis, General James Wolfe, and John Flamsteed. The present church (which replaced an earlier medieval building) is nearly 300 years old. It was designed by Nicholas Hawskmoor, Sir Christopher Wren's famous pupil, and is one of the churches built under the Fifty Churches act of 1711. The interior contains many fine examples of 18th century craftsmanship and design. This was an opportunistic visit on what started out as drinks and dinner with some friends in Greenwich. I spotted the scaff from the bus, sent a couple of quick messages out to Sentinel and Gabe and we were up top 3 hours later. A nice place to chill for a couple of hours with beers and the views weren't too bad either. Thanks for looking