diamond geezer

 Friday, August 16, 2013

Hyperlocal news from E3
(specifically the bit of Bow within three minutes walk of St Mary's Church) (that's sort-of Bow Church DLR along Bow Road to the Bow Flyover) (that's seriously hyperlocal) (but nobody else is going to blog about it are they?)

Bow Boys School is moving, and adding girls. In June 2014 it'll open on a new riverside site down near Bow Locks, and presumably the current site will become flats. Bow School's new building is one of the 830 buildings opening up as part of London Open House over the weekend of 21st/22nd September. I think it's the only property you have to email in advance with details of your shoe size (presumably so they have the right boots ready for your tour). [If none of what follows is of interest, go and book yourself an exciting architectural adventure somewhere else instead]
Crossrail are still busy digging up the streets of Bow. They've finished with Bow Road but are still disrupting traffic on Fairfield Road (adding valves and monitoring equipment to water mains, in case tunnelling disturbs them). There's another temporary worksite in Rainhill Road, outside St Agnes School, with a big tripod that looks worryingly like someone's started fracking. But no, it's just vibration sensors going in, ready for the southbound tunnel to be bored directly underneath next year.
• The Post Office in Stroudley Walk is scheduled for closure. A six-week consultation period is underway, with plans to relocate services to the Nisa supermarket on Bow Road. It'll be no great loss to say goodbye to the Stroudley Walk premises, which have to be one of the most depressing commercial spaces I've ever had the misfortune to use. Opening hours will be greatly extended if and when the change takes place, from 9am-5.30pm today to 6am-8pm in the future. What I can't quite picture, from the limited information available in the consultation document, is how the supermarket outlet will be laid out. We're promised "four serving positions, which will be a mixture of one screened and two open plan" plus "a Post Office serving point provided for use at the retail counter and available during shop opening hours." It sounds like we're getting a proper Post Office bit at the back of the store, where the frozen food and greetings cards are now, plus a till at the front where I can get stuck behind someone trying to eBay a parcel. We're promised swishy new electronic doors at the entrance with level access from the pavement, although getting a wheelchair to the back of the store will be tricky unless some major internal realignment takes place. If you want to tell the Post Office where to stick their plans, or praise them to the skies, the consultation runs until 18th September. And then the big change takes place in October. Another nail in the retail coffin of Stroudley Walk, done and dusted.

Last time I mentioned The Kings Arms bed and breakfast, one of Bow Road's former pubs, I berated it for the abject tackiness of its external signage. Peeling asymmetric black letters flapped in the breeze, making visiting overnighters wonder what the hell they'd signed up for. So I should mention that some time back the management painted the entire board black, which looks less awful, but does mean the B&B is now essentially anonymous. Apparently the owner refused English Heritage's money when High Street 2012 was trying to restore the heritage buildings hereabouts, and boy it shows.
• There's been a vacant lot beside the police garage, opposite the church, for over a decade. Apparently this used to be the site of Echoes nightclub, a seminal and pioneering venue in the emergence of late 80s rave culture with Tony Wilson on the decks. Recently the builders moved in, and very recently a building shot up, which'll soon contain a selection of 23 shared ownership apartments. An even larger development is planned nextdoor, on the site of what's currently the Unity Tyre warehouse, which'll soon be transformed into a five storey stack of flats, leading back to additional development sites which may then become yet more flats. I've spent a fascinating hour reading the planning documents, because these are excellent insights into the heritage and the future of the area where I live. The site was once home to Edmond Lord Sheffield, captain of the Queen's Ship 'The White Bear' which fought against the Spanish Armada. Stuff that though, because 450 years on it's destined to become yet another outcrop of speckly-brick architecture, gated and secure, as the Olympic invasion continues.
• While I wasn't looking, a brand new supermarket has opened beside the A12, just behind the McDonalds drive-thru car park. It's a 'Premier' convenience store, another in the 21st century tradition of food shops tucked into the ground floor of a major residential building. It won't have a Post Office, and their BOGOF offer on Haribo is unlikely to get me rushing back, but it is further evidence of an ever-increasing population hereabouts.

• Brian Dorling's ghost bike no longer rests by the Bow Roundabout where he died, it was shifted last summer (with approval) 100 yards up Bow Road. For most of that time fresh bouquets have been attached to the bikeframe, but these appear to have ceased, and now both wheels have been stolen, and Brian's tribute is looking rather sad.
• Work is properly underway on extending Cycle Superhighway 2 up Stratford High Street. A new exit ramp has been laid on the eastern exit from the roundabout, and a bus stop bypass is being laid on the western approach. Now I see contractors are shifting the kerb to shrink the inside of the roundabout, for what must be the third time in three years, in yet another attempt to make this gyratory safer for circulating traffic. Let's hope it's third time lucky, because no poor bastard deserves to be the unwitting incentive for a fourth tweak.
• Back to Crossrail, currently preparing (big time) to launch their final set of drilling machines into the Pudding Mill Portal. An extensive area alongside the DLR is now under their control, along with an additional smaller site on the Bow side of the River Lea. Work's stepped up a gear this month, and will continue 24/7 until the middle of 2015. That means yet another closure of the sliproad from the Bow Roundabout down to the A12, currently being announced to drivers via an electronic sign on Bow Road. The first screen says "1am 27th Aug to 5am 20th", which might not be too horrific, but then the second kicks in with the payoff "Dec N/B slip to A12 closed". Four months sounds a very long time to close an important artery, so be warned.

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