Thursday, 29 January 2015

She Works at Woolwich Arsenal Now - A Munition Worker's Romance

Everyone on the Estate should learn to sing this 100 year old song recently discovered by a local Woolwich singing group! Listen here

Article from Newsshopper  

A choir has unearthed a First World War song telling the tale of a young lover and her work at Woolwich’s munitions factory. Rousing romance She Works at Woolwich Arsenal Now would have filled the music halls of wartime Britain and has been rediscovered by Woolwich Singers 100 years later. 

The 1916 work, by Robert Donnelly, tells of a wounded soldier in France who receives a cheering letter from his sweetheart after she gains a job at the Royal Arsenal.

In the song’s chorus, the "young hero" cries to his nurse: 
"My Florie, she writes and says don’t worry,  "I work at Woolwich Arsenal now, "Give my message to your chums, "Girls are working ‘midst the shells and guns "Altho’ ‘tis tiring, as you’re requiring ammunition for the fighting line, "We’ll do our share for you out there." 
Woolwich Singers founder Wendy Young wants to share the area’s "happy historical" story, where the lovers are eventually reunited at Waterloo. The 55-year-old mother-of two said: "I just think it is important for the community to know that romance thrived amidst the toil and heat of the ammunition factory. "A lot of people in our community are unaware of what went on behind the Dial Arch and the role Woolwich played in WW1." 

The choir of around 40 singers, from 23 to 92 years old, were introduced to the ditty by Greenwich Heritage Centre. They decided to share the tune with the wider community as this year marks a centenary since the outbreak of the First World War. Ms Young, who used to work in Woolwich, founded the choir two years ago after being inspired by TV choir master Gareth Malone. 

The teacher of English as a Second Language, who lives off Well Hall Road, Eltham, had no musical experience but wanted to unite Woolwich’s community through the power of song. 

She said: "I was just inspired to see communities coming together from different backgrounds. "Singing breaks barriers down and it is cross-generational, and cross-cultural." 

Anyone can join Woolwich Singers, who meet every Wednesday night between 6.30pm to 8pm at the Clockhouse Community Centre, Defiance Walk at £2 per week. Ms Young said: "Whether you can sing or not, join us anyway. It's about singing together and having fun."

Monday, 26 January 2015

Neighbourhood watch: Eltham

Adapted from The Metro Article:

Metro moves south-east to an area where prices are low and optimism is high. 
By Andrea Dean

Setting the scene
Eltham has to be south London’s best-kept secret. It sits at the bottom of the massive SE9 postcode and is comfortably close to fashionable Blackheath and Greenwich, but feels like it should be in Kent. It has an enviable amount of open space, England’s oldest golf club and a crumbling Medieval palace.

It’s also popular with parents due to its choice of excellent state schools, among them Deansfield and Eltham C of E primaries, and secondaries St Thomas More Catholic and Harris Academy in Greenwich.

What’s new
Improvements are under way in Eltham town centre: the streetscape’s being tarted up, a cinema complex opens in 2017 and new homes are planned. At Grove Place, Galliard Homes is building 144 one, two and three-bed apartments, most with a balcony or terrace, from £300,000. Kidbrooke Village, north of Eltham, comprises four neighbourhoods and is one of the largest developments in Europe.

One, two and three-bed apartments (left) are currently available, ranging from £310,000 to £635,000, and three and four-bed townhouses launch this weekend.

Snooping around
Savvy buyers – often moving from rentals in Clapham or Tooting – are discovering the area, tempted by its period properties and comparatively low prices. ‘Eltham has Victorian, Edwardian, 1920s, 1930s and modern housing,’ says Matthew Booker of estate agent Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward. ‘Turn-of-the-century houses on the Corbett estate are very sought-after, as are those in the Eltham Green conservation area.’

The Progress Estate, characterised by charming arts and crafts-style houses, is also popular. Built for local workers, it celebrates its centenary this year.

‘You can buy a one-bed flats for under £200,000 and two-beds from £250,000,’ continues Matthew. ‘Two-up, two-down cottages are from £300,000, and three-bed Corbett houses are from around £385,000.’

The biggest houses are in Grove Park Road and Court Road – the most expensive is six-bed Wuthering Heights, once owned by Kate Bush. It’s on the market at £2,750,000, through Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, Foxtons and Langford Russell.

Monthly rents start at £800.

The commute
There are trains to Victoria, Cannon Street and Charing Cross. Until August 2016, those bound for Charing Cross aren’t stopping at London Bridge – normally an 18-minute journey. Alternatively, commuters can change to the DLR at Lewisham. Eltham station is in Zone 4 and an annual Travelcard into Zone 1 costs £1,844. The town was built on the main route to the Channel ports, now the A2, and when traffic’s light you can reach the M25 in 20 minutes.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Fracking - Response from the Royal Borough of Greenwich

Response from the Royal Borough of Greenwich council after request for information by Councillor Spencer Dury on behalf of The Progress Estate Residents Association
For a company to be able to undertake fracking in the borough, they are first required to obtain a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). DECC invited companies wishing to frack in the UK to apply for a PEDL by 23rdOctober 2014 under the latest round (14th round) of Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing. DECC have advised officers that it is too early to confirm the outcome of applications, but it is anticipated that licence offers will be announced during the early part/ spring of 2015.  The applications are commercially confidential and DECC are unable to comment on the names of the companies that may have applied or the areas where applications may have been made.  Granting of a PEDL licence does not give permission for any fracking activity, but provides companies exclusive rights to drill in a given area for a set period of time. It is not considered likely that any licence will be sought or awarded in the borough, and any fracking company granted a licence by DECC would still be required to negotiate access with the landowner; obtain planning permission from the Council to drill; undertake a public consultation; undertake a geological assessment; and obtain the necessary permissions and  clearance from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and DECC. The Council’s Planning Team have confirmed that no fracking applications have been received. Should an application be received, the Council would be required to give the application due consideration through the planning process. However given the urban nature of the area, limited space for exploration and mapping undertaken by the British Geological Survey which does not include London as a key area for shale gas, the Council believes it would be unlikely that a company would seek to frack in the borough. I can therefore confirm that there is no evidence at the present time that fracking will take place in Eltham, or elsewhere in the borough. If you have any further enquiries please let me know.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Fracking Risk to The Progress Estate and Surrounding Areas

Horizontal drilling is a technique that allows a drilling rig to be set up one piece of land from which it will then drill - horizontally - under others.   The law at present requires drillers to obtain permission from all property owners under whose land drilling is proposed before exploration may commence.

The Infrastructure Bill currently making its way through Parliament seeks to change this law.   If adopted, drilling companies will be entitled to drill horizontally under anyone's property once they have permission from the owner of the land where the rig is to be set up.   Many people, if asked, would see this as an infringement of their rights, especially given the potential risks of fracking.    

Friends of the Earth have produced a map showing areas of the UK currently licensed and under consideration for licensing for fracking tests.   It is at and people may enter their postcode for an enlarged view of their own area.   Whilst the colour-coding is not at clear as one might have hoped, the Progress Estate does appear to be on the edge of an area where licensing is under consideration.

The progress of the Infrastructure Bill can be followed at
s38 Degrees are seeking signatures to their on-line petition against this proposal to restrict property owners' rights.   Anyone wishing to sign it should go to

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

"Write home soon" - The artist talks about the creative progress

Local Eltham artist Lynn Bennet-Usher talks about her evocative painting "Write Home Soon" - recognising the Centenary of the Progress Estate

Prints of the painting are available to purchase.

The prints are £35.00 per print (16"x12")
A framed print is £50.00 (17"x13").

Please contact:  Lynn or Rita (07947 043 479) in order to find out more details

Monday, 29 December 2014

Hyde Group Granted Planning Permission To Renew Communal Fencing

Press Release no: 2014/08  
  29 December 2014

Keith Billinghurst
We are delighted to announce that Royal Greenwich have granted Hyde Group planning permission to replace all the fencing fronting odd nos. 123-161 Well Hall Road. The only material condition attaching to the Grant is that a sample of the hardwood timber finished with the stain Hyde proposes using has to be submitted to Royal Greenwich for approval prior to work commencing. We understand the timber will be oak. Hyde plan to start work in the current financial year.

Keith Billinghurst, Progress Residents Association committee member, said ‘This is great news for both the people whose homes face this fencing and for our Estate as a whole. We have been working on this issue for three years and are delighted the repairs will be completed during our centenary year. Well Hall Road is our major thoroughfare and bus route so probably more people travel up and down it than any other road on the Estate’.

Note for Editors:

Originally named the Well Hall Estate, The Progress Estate was built in 1915 to provide housing for the many additional workers the Woolwich Arsenal needed to manufacture the armaments required by the services during the First World War.   Conservation Area status was granted in 1975, in recognition of its unique architectural character.

For additional information, please contact:
Keith Billinghurst

Progress Residents Association committee member
56 Arsenal Road
London  SE9 1JY

tel: 020 8856 5593 or 07962 877389
Twitter:             @ProgressEstate

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

100 Buildings, 100 Years: Views of British Architecture Since 1914

11th Oct 2014 - 1st Feb 2015

Organised in conjunction with the Twentieth Century Society, this exhibition showcases the extraordinary and often surprising variety of the last hundred years of British architecture.   The Society’s supporters have selected one building for each year since 1914.   

Three of the exhibits could be said to have a connection with the Progress Estate.   First, and most obviously, is the entry for 1915 – a house in Well Hall Road.   ‘Well Hall Estate’ was the Progress Estate’s original name.   Although the architect is described as Frank Baines it was, strictly speaking, HM Office of Works where he was the Principal Architect.

The second connection results from the by-now knighted Sir Frank Baines, when he asked Sir Edward Lutyens to design a monument commemorating those who had died on active service during the Great War.   Lutyens sketched it 1 whilst at dinner with his close friend Lady Sackville .   She added the annotation:

The catafalky as it will appear in Whitehall if Lord Curzon finally agrees to it.

Sir F. Baines of the Office or Works asked Mcned to design it for them, as they were quite at a loss to know what to do.

‘Catafalky’ is a phonetic spelling of the French word catafalque, a raised bier, box or platform used to support a coffin during a memorial service.   In due course it was decided to call the monument the Cenotaph, derived from the Greek κενοτάφιον.   The first syllable, kenos means ‘empty’ and the second, taphos, ‘tomb’.

McNed was Lady Sackville’s pet name for Lutyens and the nickname by which he was universally known.   In return, she was known as MacSack 2.   

The third connection is the entry for Sainsbury’s Eco-store, the superstore off the Blackwell Tunnel approach road near the Greenwich Dome, if only because many of we residents will shop there occasionally. 

For further information or to visit the exhibition, please see -

1 The sketch is in the possession of the Imperial War Museum and was photographed at the exhibition We Will Remember Them: London’s Great War Memorials, The Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch, London, 16th July to 30th November, 2014.   
2 Tim Skelton and Gerald Glidd, Lutyens and the Great War, Francis Lincoln Ltd, London 2008, p45.