diamond geezer

 Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fancy some Dickerage?
Then get yourself down to New Malden and grab it by the short and curlies.

Dickerage Lane pokes up from Kingston Road and thrusts north. Its length is impressive and you'll want to stick with it right to the tip. Before beginning your Dickerage journey be sure to make the most of the privacy of the recreation ground opposite, and maybe head into Rajah's News for a top shelf magazine or a meaty snack. Also note that the new flats on the corner are still very much up for grabs, and come with wipe-clean bathroom tiling and a SMEG hood in the kitchen.

If you've not enjoyed Dickerage before then you're in for a treat. Step past the pillarbox with its gaping red slot and admire the wall which a gang of men has comprehensively pebbledashed. The first few houses are the oldest in the street and have names like The Cott, Holly Cott and Rose Cottages, and all because cottaging was commonplace hereabouts in Victorian times. Best not linger, there's a fair whack to come yet. Fifteen minutes of mild exertion should cover it.

Adams House is the finest erection in Dickerage Lane and looks rock solid too. At present it's all boarded up but the redevelopment plan is for it to shoot up to eight storeys with commercial services available at ground level. As for the King's Oak, however mighty its original girth it now lives on only in the name of a pair of adjacent schools. Raffle ticket prizes in their Christmas draw this year include a Magic Hands gift voucher, a pack of toilet rolls and a tailormade dog collar. Yes that is a humped zebra outside the main gate.

It's here that Dickerage perks up and starts rising from the horizontal. The road has to elevate to allow trains from Waterloo to pass underneath, and also narrows to a tight squeeze controlled by traffic signals making this the lane's only red light district. Pick your moment carefully and you can stand astride the peak to experience the Norbiton Flyer at full throttle as it plunges into a dark cavity and vibrates beneath you. The view from the highpoint is somewhat anticlimactic but yes, that white pole you can see in the middle distance is for atmospheric ejaculation from Kingston Hospital.

If you're looking for something large to play with then beyond the railway lies Dickerage Lane Recreation Ground, a triangular hotbed of energetic delights. Perhaps thwack your balls on the tennis courts, pull off a few tricks in the skatepark or climb the phallic tower and hurl yourself down the slide. On the far side is a thick strip of secluded woodland where you easily could get physical without being seen. And although the community centre may look like a cheap prefab it also offers your best chance to beat off the local members, not necessarily at table tennis.

Once upon a time this whole area was part of Dickerage Farm, indeed the community centre marks the precise location of the farmhouse making it the true focus of all the Dickerage hereabouts. It's also where Dickerage Lane morphs into Dickerage Road, because until those suburban housebuilders came along there was no need for the lane to extend any further. As you pass its front gardens keep your eyes peeled and you might spot current Dickerage residents manhandling tools, fiddling with their dipstick or trimming their bush.

The parade of shops by the mini-roundabout is called The Triangle and offers a wealth of worldly delights. The Kingfish chippie can conjure up a salty saveloy for £2.30 or a battered sausage for just 10p more. Allan Barbers will slip you something for the weekend, best eased on its way with lubrication from Coombe Hill Pharmacy. The menu at the Lebanese restaurant offers spicy meatballs, hot sauce and grilled 🍆 salad. Even the Post Office is set up for deposits and withdrawals if you ask nicely at the counter.

The remainder of Dickerage Road is a classic suburban avenue where heaven knows what goes on behind the net curtains. Vehicular progress is regularly interrupted by humping. A drain in the middle of the road gurgles in spits and spurts from the base of the shaft. A wide variety of knobs and knockers are on display, some with peepholes. Only those with a firm grasp of Dickerage get to penetrate inside. The Dickerage Road Allotments are hidden down a backpassage. Don't say you're not pumped to be here.

Near the end of the road I spotted a utility worker with a large helmet suspended in midair manhandling the tip of a stiff pole. I wondered if he might be wielding a chopper or poking a rod but instead he was engaged in some kind of hand job tugging on a resident's cable. It all looked quite cumbersome. After I'd passed his temporary erection the road finally bulged towards its climax at the junction with Coombe Lane West and suddenly my interaction with Dickerage was over.

You may not give a toss until you visit Dickerage for yourself, but come on, it's not hard.

 Saturday, November 26, 2022

This advert for 'Warm Havens' has appeared along Stratford High Street. It's Newham's scheme to give residents somewhere to go if they're struggling to heat their homes.

And I thought
a) I wonder where they are?
b) I bet I know where they are.
c) How has society come to this?

It's shocking that we now live in a country where millions of people can't afford their heating bills. Many have always struggled, but the energy crisis has boosted gas and electricity prices to such a ridiculous extent that costs now constitute a cripplingly high proportion the household budget. The energy cap for this January would have been three times higher than last January had the government not stepped in, and even twice as much is proving untenable on top of the skyrocketing cost of living. We've slipped incredibly fast into an era where the thermostat is to be feared and pulling on an extra jumper is the default rather than a thrifty saving.

Hence the advent of warm havens, somewhere non-judgemental to sit in relative comfort while the council pays for the heating. But Newham's advert doesn't tell you where they are, only to go to a website or ring a phone number.

And the Newham website doesn't tell you where they are either. Instead it provides a link to a map, and not a static map either but an interactive Microsoft-generated map of the borough with blobs on, and if you click on it a scrollable list of nearby havens appears with opening times in a thin table. It's a clever solution I'm sure some tech team is very pleased with but not exactly straightforward, and I suspect beyond the IT capabilities of some of the target audience. Give us the clever map, sure, but also FFS just give us a list.

If you click around the map you soon discover what I suspected would be the case which is that most of Newham's warm havens are in fact libraries. They're already open, they have public seating and plenty of reading material and they've long been the ideal place to hide away from grim conditions at home. But at no point before clicking on the map does Newham's campaign actually suggest you might want to go to a library, that's key information hidden beneath multiple layers of tech.

Even a link to the webpage for Newham's library opening hours would have been an improvement. I can sum up that table as simply as this.
• All Newham's libraries are open until 8pm Mondays to Saturdays.
- Canning Town, East Ham, Forest Gate and Stratford libraries open at 9am.
- North Woolwich and Plaistow libraries open at 9.30am.
- Beckton, Custom House, Green Street and Manor Park libraries open at 10am.

• All Newham's libraries are open between noon and 4pm on Sundays.
There are six other warm havens, mostly in community centres, and only open for a few hours a week. Again you could click around the map to discover what they are or someone could produce a simple list, like this. I've ordered it by day of the week because sometimes what you want to know is "what's open today?", not "where's my nearest?"
Monday: Trinity Community Centre (5-8pm)
Tuesday: Forest Gate Lodge & Katherine Road Community Centre (5-8pm)
Wednesday: Woodman Community Centre (9am-noon)
Thursday: Trinity Community Centre (5-8pm)
Friday: Jack Cornwell Community Centre (5-8pm)
Saturday: Trinity Community Centre (2-5pm)
Sunday: Katherine Road Community Centre (3-6pm) & Jeyes Community Centre (6-9pm)

Tower Hamlets have done a better job of listing their Warm Banks, again by day of the week.

I think the underlying message is don't get cold on Fridays or Saturdays. But they don't mention libraries, sorry Idea Stores, which ought to be an obvious alternative. And I only spotted this graphic on Twitter which isn't somewhere the old and poor necessarily hang out, and absolutely none of this appears on the council website.

Elsewhere in London I see Greenwich have bought more furniture to improve the capacity of their libraries and Lewisham have a scheme called Warm Welcomes, although I'm not quite sure how a brewery and a swimming pool fit in. Other boroughs will do/should do/probably have done something similar.

We're not yet into the coldest part of the winter when warm havens might be a lifesaver and publicity might be better organised, so well done to Newham for being upfront with its campaign. But please don't hide the key information where the affected might never find it, make sure your publicity includes a good old-fashioned list.

 Friday, November 25, 2022

Anorak Corner [National Rail edition]

It's time once again for the annual splurge of passenger data from across Britain's railway network, this batch covering the period April 2021 to March 2022. That's a less freakish twelve months than last year's statistics but still significantly impacted by the pandemic, with subdued commuting, reduced timetables and advice to minimise travel. It means these still aren't properly representative figures so should be taken with a pinch of statistical salt.

n.b. To try to maintain some semblance of reality the changes I've included below are from two years ago when travel was more normal.

London's ten busiest National Rail stations (2021/22) (with changes since 2019/20)
  1) -- Waterloo (41m)
  2) -- Victoria (37m)
  3) ↑1 London Bridge (33m)
  4) ↓1 Liverpool Street (32m)
  5) ↑2 Stratford (28m)
  6) ↓1 Paddington (24m)
  7) ↓1 Euston (23m)
  8) ↑1 King's Cross (20m)
  9) ↓1 St Pancras (19m)
10) -- Highbury & Islington (18m)

After a blippy year when Stratford took the crown, Waterloo is back where it's long been at the top of the London (and national) rankings. Two years ago it had 87 million entries/exits so passenger numbers have roughly halved, but that's true across the entire top 10 - a direct effect of the pandemic. Elsewhere the list sees only minor shuffling as the big hitters continue to hit big. The rail terminus just outside the Top 10 is Charing Cross (16m), whereas Fenchurch Street, Marylebone and Cannon Street are a lot further down with 7m-8m apiece. It's amazing that Highbury & Islington makes the top 10, and is the UK's 13th busiest station, all thanks to passengers interchanging with the Victoria line. Next year's figures will be the first to include Crossrail so it'll be interesting to see how big a boost that gives Liverpool Street, Stratford and Paddington.

The UK Top 10 looks exactly the same as this but with Birmingham New Street in eighth place and Manchester Piccadilly in 10th.

London's ten busiest National Rail stations that aren't central London termini (2021/22)
  1) -- Stratford (28m)
  2) -- Highbury & Islington (18m)
  3) -- Clapham Junction (17m)
  4) -- East Croydon (15m)
  5) -- Canada Water (14m)
  6) -- Vauxhall (12m)
  7) ↑1 Barking (11m)
  8) ↓1 Wimbledon (10m)
  9) -- Whitechapel (9m)
10) ↑1 West Ham (7m)

Once you strip out the central London termini a rather different picture appears and it's substantially orange. One reason for this is that the data at Overground stations includes everyone changing to or from the tube, because technically this counts as an entrance or exit even if passengers don't leave the station. You can imagine how much this boosts stations like Highbury & Islington [Victoria], Canada Water [Jubilee] and Whitechapel [District/H&C]. Clapham Junction's total would almost double if the data included interchanges.

London's ten busiest stations beyond zone 3 (2021/22)
  1) -- East Croydon (15m)
  2) -- Barking (11m)
  3) -- Richmond (6.4m)
  4) -- Romford (6.3m)
  5) -- Surbiton (5.0m)
  6) ↑1 Ilford (4.8m)
  7) ↓1 Bromley South (4.6m)
  8) ↑1 Upminster (3.7m)
  9) ↓1 Sutton (3.7m)
10) -- Orpington (3.2m)

As usual the Outer London crown is a comfortable win for East Croydon. Richmond's total of 6½m entries and exits may look small but that's enough to make it the 40th best used station in the entire UK. Ilford overtakes Bromley South thanks to its improved pre-Crossrail services. Northwest London does not appear in this list because it's better served by tube.

London's ten least busy Overground/Crossrail stations (2021/22)
  1) -- Emerson Park (196,000)
-- Acton Main Line (321,000)
-- South Hampstead (339,000)
-- Headstone Lane (346,000)
↑1 South Kenton (419,000)
↓1 Stamford Hill (431,100)
↑1 Penge West (483,000)
↑2 Hatch End (486,000)
↑1 Wandsworth Road (510,000)
↑6 South Acton (518,000)
n.b. Technically Heathrow Terminal 4 is top of this list because it was closed from May 2020 to June 2022 so served zero passengers.

Emerson Park on the runty Romford-Upminster line remains at the bottom of the heap, while Acton Main line is still London's least attractive Crossrail station. The second least-used purple station is Hanwell which is in 11th place. The top 10 covers a variety of Overground lines, whereas the next list is a little more focused...

London's ten least busy National Rail stations (2021/22)
  1) ↑2 Drayton Green (11000)
  2) -- South Greenford (13000)
  3) ↑1 Sudbury & Harrow Road (15000)
  4) ↑1 Sudbury Hill Harrow (35000)
  5) ↑1 Castle Bar Park (41000)
  6) ↑1 Morden South (54700)
  7) ↑3 Birkbeck (55100)
  8) ↑10 Reedham (69000)
  9) ↑7 Coulsdon Town (86000)
10) ↑13 Woodmansterne (89000)
n.b. Technically Heathrow Terminal 4 is top of this list because it was closed from May 2020 to June 2022 so served zero passengers.

Angel Road and its replacement Meridian Water will not be appearing in this Top 10 again, hence a lot of other stations shuffle up. Drayton Green is London's newest least used station, a position it's never held before. Along with South Greenford and Castle Bar Park it's suffered from the arrival of Crossrail which has severed direct trains to Paddington from the Greenford branch. The two Sudbury stations, regularly skipped by Chiltern trains, are also Top 10 stalwarts. Reedham, Coulsdon Town and Woodmasterne are new entries, perhaps thanks to the withdrawal of direct trains to central London for much of the survey period.

But enough of London.

The UK's ten busiest National Rail stations that aren't in London (2021/22)
  1) -- Birmingham New Street (23m)
  2) ↑1 Manchester Piccadilly (20m)
  3) ↑1 Leeds (19m)
  4) ↓2 Glasgow Central (15m)
  5) -- Edinburgh (14m)
  6) ↑1 Brighton (11.2m)
  7) ↑3 Liverpool Central (10.7m)
  8) ↑3 Liverpool Lime Street (10.4m)
  9) ↓1 Reading (8.8m)
10) ↓1 Glasgow Queen Street (8.5m)

Passenger totals have increased more dramatically outside London, often three- or fourfold compared to last year. Birmingham New Street retains top position, with Manchester Piccadilly back into second (and into the national Top 10). Glasgow and Liverpool manage two stations apiece. The big pandemic loser was Gatwick Airport which has slumped from 6th to 17th place due to lack of flyers. Over 200 provincial stations served over a million passengers during 2021/22, a big improvement on the previous year when only 50 stations managed that.

In surprising London/not-London comparisons, West Ham was busier than Sheffield, Lewisham was busier than Nottingham, Ilford was busier than Coventry, Harold Wood was busier than Hull and Finchley Road and Frognal was busier than Portsmouth and Southsea.

The National Rail station with NO passengers in 2021/22
0) Heathrow Terminal 4 [last year 162, previous year 1.75m]

In 2020/21, extraordinarily, six stations saw no passengers. This year it's just the one, the airport station beside a mothballed terminal which closed from May 2020 to June 2022. I think it's best not included on the following list (which is everyone's annual favourite).

The UK's ten least busy National Rail stations (2021/22)
  1) ↑1 Elton and Orston (40)
  2) ↑27 Teesside Airport (42)
  3) -- Stanlow and Thornton (44)
  4) ↑1 Denton (50)
  5) ↑17 Kirton Lindsey (68)
  6) ↑2 Sugar Loaf (76)
  7) ↑3 Shippea Hill (102)
  8) ↑1 Reddish South (108)
  9) ↑3 Coombe Junction Halt (112)
10) ↑9 Scotscalder (116)

These are the stations that can't even muster three passengers a week, such is the inaccessibility of their location or the paucity of their service, and most have appeared in this Top 10 on many previous occasions. It's Elton & Orston's turn to become the UK's Least Used Station, a title it would have held in 2019/20 if only Berney Arms hadn't been closed for 49 weeks. E&O only gets one train a day in each direction, one to Nottingham and one to Skegness, and its paltry total is the equivalent of just 20 round trips.

Teesside Airport, Denton and Reddish South only get one train a week, which explains their regular appearance. Stanlow and Thornton is surrounded by an oil refinery and has been closed since February because its footbridge is unsafe. Kirton Lindsey is a casualty of the protracted 'temporary' closure of the Brigg line which usually runs Saturdays only. Sugar Loaf is the least used station in Wales and similarly-remote Scotscalder is the least used in Scotland. And just to show how quickly things can change at this end of the table, recent champion Berney Arms is no longer even in the Top 50.

In summary, the twelve months covered by these figures were still skewed by pandemic fallout so next year's figures should be a better reflection of passenger demand. But next year's figures will also be the first since the arrival of Crossrail and that's likely to bring a few significant changes to the top of the charts... because on the railways there's no such thing as a normal year.

» Rail passenger data here (total annual entry and exit frequencies)
» Previous updates: 20/21, 19/20, 18/19, 17/18 16/17, 15/16 14/15, 13/14, 12/13, 11/12, 10/11, 09/10, 08/09, 07/08, 06/07, 05/06

» Anorak Corner [tube edition]
» Anorak Corner [bus edition]

 Thursday, November 24, 2022

Back in June TfL launched a major consultation into plans to withdraw sixteen bus routes and amend forty-three others. This was in response to government demands to reduce spending in return for continued central funding. The consultation received over 21000 responses, almost all of them negative.

Yesterday the results of the consultation were published with the level of changes considerably whittled down. Only three routes will be withdrawn and only eleven routes will be amended, many in a relatively inconsequential way. It's still a significant set of changes but the vast majority of the nasty things respondents pleaded shouldn't happen won't be happening.

Will be withdrawn: 521
Will be sneakily merged and renumbered: 16/332, 11/507
Won't be withdrawn: 4, 12, 14, 24, 31, 45, 72, 74, 78, 242, 349, C3, D7, N31, N72, N74, N242

Will be changed: 3, 6, 11, 23, 26, 59, 77, 133, 211, C10, N26
Won't be changed: 15, 19, 27, 43, 47, 49, 53, 56, 88, 98, 100, 113, 135, 148, 171, 189, 205, 214, 236, 254, 259, 277, 279, 283, 328, 343, 388, 414, 430, 476, D3, N15, N19, N27, N98, N133, N205

The official line is that the Mayor listened to the people and found £25m in additional funding, but the level of misleading spin around the announcement is breathtaking. The title of the press release is "New funding from the Mayor saves vast majority of London's buses", whereas in fact it saved 3% of the capital's 620 routes. The Mayor claimed that the routes were "under threat due to the conditions of the Govt's funding deal for TfL", whereas the decision to make these changes was his alone, he could have cut anything else instead. Indeed the Mayor is going all out to claim he's the saviour in this situation, whereas the proposals now look very much like sabre-rattling. With the deal done and Grant Shapps out of the way, the imaginary nuclear scenario is no longer required.

So rather than faffing around with all the might-have-beens, here are three genuine headline changes which are due to happen over the next twelve months.

114-year-old bus service to be withdrawn

Route 16 has been running between Cricklewood and Victoria, and often a bit further, since November 1908. Now route 16 is to be withdrawn and, here's the sneaky bit, route 332 will be renumbered 16 instead. The 332 is only 15 years old, having been introduced to replace another route spun out from route 16, and provided extra capacity along the Edgware Road. That extra capacity is no longer required so route 16 is being sacrificed, and TfL are hoping most people won't notice if they simultaneously reuse the number on a similar overlapping route. They have past form on this. In 2017 TfL were desperate to kill route 13 but everyone complained, so they renumbered route 82 as route 13 and the withdrawal sailed through with far less fuss.

The new 16 will run from Paddington to Neasden IKEA, exactly like the 332 currently does. That breaks a connection between Edgware Road and Victoria which will be closed by diverting the 6 to Victoria instead of Aldwych. That'll break a connection between Marble Arch and Aldwych which will be closed by diverting the 23 to Aldwych instead of Hammersmith. And that'll break a connection between Marble Arch and Kensington which TfL aren't proposing to fill (which is the final nail in the coffin for what used to be route 10). One trigger, several fallen dominoes.

TfL's best bus for tourists to be withdrawn

Route 11 has been running between Liverpool Street and Fulham Broadway for over a century. It passes world famous sites like St Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey and the King's Road, so could have been marketed by TfL as a cheaper alternative to expensive sightseeing buses. But it's also slow and unreliable and no longer provides useful capacity so route 11 is to be withdrawn. Again a conjuring trick is being used to keep the number because route 507 is being renumbered 11, and additionally extended from Victoria to Fulham Broadway. It's not anticipated that the 507's high capacity vehicles will be retained.

Again there are several repercussions. The 26 will be diverted from Waterloo to Victoria maintaining all the 11's tourist-friendly links. The 11 won't follow the 507's existing route via Horseferry Road so that'll be taken over by the 3 which'll be diverted from Whitehall to Victoria. The C10 needs to be slightly diverted to take care of the 507's existing connections between Waterloo to Lambeth Bridge. And the 211 will be diverted from Victoria to Battersea Power Station because it's no longer needed at Victoria now the 11 (aka the extended 507) is going there instead. Is there a map to show this? Of course there isn't a map to show this, TfL only do maps for consultations, not for the final network which emerges as a result of decisions made.

The last Red Arrow buses to be withdrawn

In the late 1960s London Transport introduced several single-decker routes branded Red Arrows which sped round central London to deliver rail commuters to their desks, often following routes the tube didn't link direct. The last two standing are the 507 (which as we've seen is about to be extinguished) and the 521 (a later amalgam of the 501 and 513). The 521 links Waterloo and London Bridge to Holborn and the City, and as recently as 2018 was London's most frequent bus. But post-pandemic the passenger numbers just aren't there, such is the seismic shift in working practices, so route 521 is to be withdrawn. That is a remarkably rapid collapse.

What will commuters from south of the river do now that their speedy red chariots are to be deleted? Well, for those who still need to head north from Waterloo the 59 is being diverted from Euston to Smithfield, because plenty of other buses go to Euston anyway. And for those who still need to head north from London Bridge the 133 is being diverted from Liverpool Street to Holborn, because plenty of other buses go to Liverpool Street. Expect a squish at busy times because the 59 and 133 aren't as frequent as the bus they're replacing. And because they're not single deckers, don't expect to ride a bus through the Strand Underpass ever again. The date of the Red Arrows' funeral will be announced at a later date.

As I've said before, this is the kind of detail you miss out on if your favoured news portal simply cuts and pastes a TfL press release. Anyone can pretend they won a battle if all they did was invent that battle in the first place. If you celebrated the survival of your local bus route yesterday then you fell for the politics, and even the 'survival' of iconic routes 11 and 16 is nothing more than sleight of hand.

 Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On Monday I tried to uncover London's longest unbroken road. That's the longest road with a junction at one end, a junction at the other end and no junctions inbetween.

I concluded that London's longest unbroken road for vehicles was Hillcrest Road in Orpington (800m) and London's longest unbroken road for pedestrians was Elgin Road in Seven Kings (710m).

But I also recognised that I might have been wasting my time visiting them because you might point out a longer road in the comments, and indeed you did.

Take a bow, Wickham Chase.

It's in West Wickham in the borough of Bromley about 10 miles southeast of central London. Local development kickstarted in 1925 when the railway line to Hayes was electrified, and pretty much the entire suburb was in place by the time WW2 broke out. The longest residential roads spread across fields to the east of the station connecting to Pickhurst Lane, two of which manage to have no other junctions along their length. Longest is Wickham Chase, marked here in red, which at 1100m I believe to be the longest unbroken road in London. And running parallel is Langley Way, which at 940m I believe to be the second longest unbroken road in London. Both take at least ten minutes to walk from one end to the other.

Wickham Chase is a spacious suburban avenue lined by comfortably large, but not massive, houses. Some are detached and some look like they're chunky semi-detacheds but are actually joined together into longer chains. The architects plainly had a thing for halftimbered gables but generally did a good job of sprinkling the Chase with variety because at these prices nobody wants to look exactly like everyone else. These houses are all blessed with big front gardens, generally enough for three or four cars but two is more normal because most owners have kept some greenery out front. Long unbroken roads tend to be good places for parking cars, we have discovered.

It's the kind of street where builders stay for weeks, where scaffolders fix poles to help create loft extensions, and where vans bring carpet cleaners, dog groomers and lawn care specialists to do their work. I even turned up as the windowcleaner squeezed his sponge dry outside number 270, the last house in the street, because that's how long Wickham Chase is. Just when you think you've been walking long enough and the end must be near it veers left and lo, dozens and dozens more white-fronted houses line the gentle ascent ahead. This climb is also where Wickham Chase crosses the Greenwich Meridian, because it's obligatory to mention this on my blog whenever it happens.

You can't drive out of Wickham Chase except at each end, but there are footpaths in the middle cutting through to two parallel avenues and the local bus stop. Cycling is forbidden along these alleyways, although the maximum penalty is only £5 according to the ancient concrete sign so I dare say everyone risks it. What's intriguing looking back at maps from fifty years ago is that these show a road connection too, about 100m further along, up what now looks like an overgrown driveway alongside number 144. This section of the road has a lot of rear driveways, each overzealously added to Google Maps and OpenStreetMap as if somehow important, but one was once deemed worthy of inclusion on an Ordnance Survey map which must mean Wickham Chase wasn't always a junctionless road.

So I'd like to propose that Wickham Chase is London's longest unbroken residential road, at least as far as vehicles are concerned. But Elgin Road still retains the crown for the longest street not even pedestrians can escape from except at each end.
Longest unbroken roads (for vehicles)
1100m Wickham Chase (West Wickham)
940m Langley Way (West Wickham)
800m Hillcrest Road (Orpington)
770m Downlands Road (Purley)
760m Harrow Drive (Hornchurch)

Longest unbroken road (for pedestrians)
710m Elgin Road (Seven Kings)
Various other roads may be debatably longer, depending on your willingness to accept sliproads, carparks, non-residential streets and country lanes, for details of which see Monday's comments.

After which the obvious question should be What's London's shortest street? I'm not going to stipulate 'shortest unbroken street' because the shortest obviously won't have any junctions. But I would like to stipulate that this road needs to have at least one front door, i.e. it's someone's address, otherwise any old mini-connector might count.

The identity of London's shortest street isn't something you can determine by scouring maps. It'd be much too short to show up unless you really zoomed in, and even then you wouldn't be able to tell if it was a proper street or not without taking a proper look. I am not willing to follow Streetview round the entirety of London just in case, so I suspect this is going to be a much more contentious title. So what I've done is take the easy way out by Googling "London's shortest street" to see what other people think it is.

Rob from the RealCycling blog reckoned it was Clennam Street (20m).

This ridiculously brief thoroughfare is in Bankside between Mint Street Park and Borough tube station. It's also a proper street because it has buildings in it, including apartments and an actual pub. That pub is The Lord Clyde at number 27, a Southwark treasure rebuilt in 1913 and CAMRA-favoured. The ridiculously high house number is because this used to be Peter Street but that was split in 1927 into Clennam Street and Doyce Street, named after two characters in Little Dorrit. Alas Clennam Street was pedestrianised in 2010, mainly to give The Lord Clyde somewhere to stick its outdoor tables, and a fully pedestrianised street arguably doesn't count.

David from Cabbieblog reckoned it was Kirk Street (13m).

This stupendously brief street lies on the edge of Bloomsbury behind Holborn Library. It's a broad cul-de-sac off Northington Street that's almost square in shape, a stub so short that it ends at a brick wall after a dozen paces. It was obviously once much longer, in fact 30-buildings-worth, and stretched north as far as Doughty Mews. But relatively recently the vast majority of the street was replaced by a Catholic primary school (because Camden has to squeeze them somewhere), so now all that's left is a pub called The Dickens. And even that's long closed and has been transformed into flats, but one of those has a front door in the right place to be 1 Kirk Street so hurrah, this brief street counts. Or maybe it did when you could still park outside, but number 1's 'front garden' has grown over the last few months to include more obstructive planters so maybe it doesn't count after all.

Rob from RealCycling thinks cul-de-sacs don't count, you need a junction at each end, and reckons the next shortest street is Candover Street (42m) not far from the BT Tower. I reckon there must be a shorter street than that somewhere in Greater London but I can't be bothered to dig further, this whole 'shortest street' question is a complete can of worms and therefore not worth sweating over. What I can say is that you can get 55 Clennam Streets into one Wickham Chase, and that's the long and the short of it.

 Tuesday, November 22, 2022

One of the joys of living in London is that you can walk out of your house and shortly afterwards be standing in front of this.

This is Constable's actual Hay Wain and it's in London, in the National Gallery.

It's one of the country's best-loved works of art, harking back to a simpler time with top class brushwork. It was painted 201 years ago and depicts a pastoral scene in the heart of East Anglia - that's Suffolk on the left bank and Essex on the right. It's only proper it's in London, we are the capital city after all, plus John Constable lived here for many years, indeed I walked past his Hampstead home at the weekend. Given the reception the painting received in its day it might well have ended up in Paris, but instead if I fancy a shufti at this masterpiece all I have to do is head down to Trafalgar Square and I can see it any time I like.

This is Turner's actual Fighting Temeraire and it's in London, in the National Gallery.

It is the country's best-loved work of art, assuming you believe that national poll they did in 2005 which'll be why the Bank of England stuck in on the back of the £20 note. And sure you can always see it on there, assuming you still stuff cash in your pocket, but there's nothing quite like seeing it blazing and bobbing in a frame right in front of you. The Fighting Temeraire could easily have found its way to the artist's bespoke gallery, the Turner Contemporary in Margate, but ironically you have a better chance of seeing one of his works if you stay in London rather than trooping all the way down to the Kent coast.

This is Seurat's actual Bathers at Asnières and it's in London, in the National Gallery.

It's a renowned classic, a true post-Impressionist icon and an unparalleled example of pointillist chromoluminarism. I love how bright and modern it still looks, plus redheads don't always get the recognition they deserve in world class art. It depicts a hot day by the River Seine not far from the Pont de Clichy so you might expect it to hang in the Louvre, but instead we've got it in our national gallery and Seurat's other masterpiece hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. Admittedly placing so many masterworks in so few places makes it much easier for climate protestors to hurl liquids at them, but the guards in Room 43 are well used to those tricks by now so best not even think of trying.

This is Frans Hals' actual The Laughing Cavalier and it's in London, at the Wallace Collection. Not every old master is at the National Gallery.

It's a much-loved portrait, one of the premier league, and nothing else in Hals' oeuvre comes close. He didn't name it, the title's a Victorian affection, and wildly inappropriate because the gentleman isn't a cavalier and isn't laughing. But what a smile, and what a moustache, and how did Frans get his eyes to follow you round the room? What really strikes you once you've seen it up close is the incredibly lifelike face, which is all the more impressive because it's nearly 400 years old. I suspect a minority of Londoners have seen it because it's in a gallery most haven't heard of, plus you have to walk to the rear upstairs gallery by the door to spot it. But if you're a Londoner who never has, at least you have a chance.

This is Marcel Duchamp's actual Fountain and it's in London, at Tate Modern.

This revolutionary piece marked a turning point in modern art as a Frenchman worked out you could make an earthenware copy of a porcelain urinal and call it art just by adding a signature. So much abstract weirdness stemmed from this century-old revelation. But for a change London doesn't have the genuine work of art, that's long been lost and this is simply one of 16 replicas authorised by Duchamp in 1964. I did walk round Tate Modern in search of something better known and more world-renowned than Fountain but the displayed selection is fairly lacklustre these days and a fake urinal was the best I could do. In this case the advantage of being a Londoner is that you don't have to waste an airfare to get here.

This is Van Gogh's actual Sunflowers and it's in London, in the National Gallery.

Now we're talking. This is a world class painting, probably Top Five in terms of global renown and familiarity, as you can tell if you head down to the National Gallery and observe the visitors massing in front of it. There's even one visitor in my photo wearing a jacket with Van Gogh's Sunflowers embroidered on the back, which is a level of devotion you'd never expect to see for an average canvas. Only perhaps the Mona Lisa gets mobbed more than this, again by people more intent on capture than observation. You could argue it's pointless to travel miles to photograph a painted rectangle when you could just look at a professionally captured image, but at least those of us who live in London have the best chance of seeing it unobstructed.

This is Van Gogh's actual A Wheatfield With Cypresses and it's in London, two canvases to the left of Sunflowers.

It's not quite in Sunflowers' league but it is embedded in my psyche because it's the painting that used to hang above my bed while I was growing up. I didn't have the real painting only a cheap print, which I think we got as a freebie from a garage, but my Dad stuck it in a frame and hung it on my bedroom wall and this makes it the work of art I've studied more than any other. I loved the bold bright colours, I admired how a farmscape could be conjured up with a few vibrant stripes and I enjoyed having my own private window into a distant land. And yesterday, because I now live in London, I went down and admired the real thing in reverent silence for a few glorious minutes. Experiencing world class art is incredibly easy here, we Londoners don't know how lucky we are.

 Monday, November 21, 2022

A reader emailed with this fascinating question.
Hi Mr Diamond Geezer

I have a question I would like answered. What is the longest road in London that does not have any roads coming off it ie: a single named road with no junctions except at each end? The reason for asking this question is that I was born in Elgin Road in Seven Kings IG3 and a friend told me this was the longest road in London without a junction and I did not know whether to believe him or how he knew. I thought you might be the one to answer this.

Thanks for your most interesting blog site.

Best wishes
Well now, London's longest unbroken road. A road with a junction at one end, a junction at the other end and no junctions inbetween. And yes, it could be Elgin Road.

Here it is on a map, just north of Seven Kings station in Redbridge. This slice of town (Ilford, Forest Gate, Manor Park) has a lot of long straight Victorian streets spreading out from the Romford Road and railway. The chunk containing Elgin Road used to be a field until 1898 when developer Cameron Corbett laid out the Downshall estate. He targeted the lower middle classes with large good quality homes, and built so fast that the area became known as “the town built in a year". The new streets ran parallel to a river called the Seven Kings Water, just to the east, and the resultant "egg-slicer" street pattern ensured as many homes as possible were crammed in. Three roads stretched south without any interruption, Elgin Road being the longest of these, hence the focus of our interest.

Elgin Road is an impressive 710m long and arrow straight, with no road junctions nor break for any kind of footpath along its length. Its 120 houses are mostly in good nick and basically all the same, with a central porch, bay windows to either side and twiddles on the plasterwork. By modern standards these are big houses, four bedrooms apiece, which perhaps helps to explain the going rate being about £700,000. Some owners have blinged up their porches, some have subdivided into flats and almost everyone's erased their front garden to make space for parking. All these houses measure up at three cars wide, and several have the full complement out front which helps to explain why the road itself is mostly free from parked vehicles.

What's missing from Elgin Road are trees, other than a couple of specimens on the pavement and a few in choice front gardens where parking was less important. I particularly liked the monkey puzzle at number [redacted], which is why I stopped to take an admiring photo and then got shouted at by the owner who was sitting incognito in his car. A more surprising front garden tableau was the toilet dumped beside a Rolls Royce at number [also redacted] and my snob award goes to number [redacted, ditto], the only house in the street to have added security gates. At almost half a mile long with no intermediate means of escape, Elgin Road may well be London's longest unbroken street.

But it might not be. To check I scoured maps of the capital and tried to spot streets that might be longer. A few looked promising but, on zooming in, turned out to have minor junctions after all. A few looked promising but, on zooming in, kept their name beyond the unbroken section. A few looked promising but, on getting the electronic ruler out, couldn't quite beat 710m. It seems developers can't resist adding connecting roads or cul-de-sacs to make the optimum use of available land. But I did find one street in outer London which might have a better claim to Elgin Road's crown...

This is Hillcrest Road in Orpington and it's 800m long. It's very close to the town centre - if you continue south past the war memorial it's the first road on the left. It first appeared in the late 1920s as a road which, as you might expect, climbed gently to the crest of a hill. In the beginning it was a quiet cul-de-sac which was some way off record-breaking, before being extended further east to reach Felstead Road in the 1950s. And because it was surrounded by existing houses they couldn't add any intermediate roads and so Hillcrest Road tops out at the full half-mile.

Like Elgin Road these are biggish houses, but this time proper suburban castles with better looking front gardens. Most residents have kept a bit of shrubbery, lawn or flowerbed out front, because that's the difference having your own garage makes. There are also little front walls two bricks high, plus dropped kerbs with homogeneous paving and a decent number of trees along the pavement. It's a lot more Metroland below the crest of the hill with pitched tiles and whitewashed gables, and I could easily imagine streams of bowler-hatted gents once set off from here on their morning commute, it being only a ten minute walk to the station.

But what Hillcrest Road has that Elgin Road didn't is intermediate footpaths. One alleyway cuts through to Felstead Road and another to Park Avenue, approximately from the point that used to be the end of the street. This 'crossroads' isn't somewhere you could turn off a car, only a bike, but the centre of Hillcrest Avenue isn't as perfectly isolated as Elgin Road.

And then there's Higher Drive.

This is a well-to-do crescent in Cuddington, close to Banstead station. It's in Sutton but on the very edge of the capital, indeed Surrey starts just over the back fence. It's 1200m long, a full three quarters of a mile without a single intervening road or path, so if you live in the middle of the street it's a long hike to either end. I bet everyone here drives. Its claim looks good until you notice the little keyhole close at one end which serves eight of the detached houses. This cul-de-sac is part of the same road because it's also called Higher Drive, which arguably is OK, but technically it's a road junction so technically it breaks the rules.

In the end it all comes down to definitions. If you're looking for the longest single named road with no junctions except at each end, I think that's Hillcrest Road in Orpington (800m). If you're looking for the longest single named road with no junctions or any way out except at each end, I think that's Elgin Road in Seven Kings (710m). And I worry I'm wrong, because despite scouring maps for hours I've probably missed a residential road somewhere in London that meets all the criteria, which'd mean I totally wasted my time by trekking out to Orpington. I live in fear of your comments today, just in case.

And many thanks to my reader for their fascinating email... which they actually sent in May 2020, but that was mid-lockdown and it's taken me 2½ years to finally answer their question. I hope I've uncovered the right answer.

 Sunday, November 20, 2022

World Cup Quiz
32 countries are taking part in this year's World Cup.
Here are their capital cities with all the consonants missing.
Can you identify the 32 countries from vowels only?

1) Aa
2) aa
3) aa
4) aa
5) ae
6) Aea
7) aea
8) ai
          9) ai
10) ai
11) aiia
12) aio
13) aoé
14) aoué
15) e
16) ea
       17) eae
18) ei
19) eioi
20) eou
21) ia
22) io
23) oa
24) Oaa
        25) oeae
26) oeieo
27) oo
28) oo
29) ue
30) ueoaie
31) ui
32) uio

All answers now in the comments box.

World Cup Wallchart

1 Dec 2010
It's good day to bribe a FIFA committee member
2 Dec 2010

3 Dec 2010
Qatar promise to build some football stadia
4 Dec 2010
Qatar don't promise to safeguard stadium workers
FRI 18
Fools who went to Qatar hit by ban on alcohol at matches
SAT 19
Pre-tournament hysteria still nowhere near fever pitch
SUN 20
Opening match even duller than opening ceremony
MON 21
Millions 'working from home' so they can watch England v Iran at 1pm
TUE 22
Where did Bargain Hunt, Garden Rescue, Tipping Point and Pointless go?
WED 23
People who promised they wouldn't watch it are already watching it
THU 24
Entire crowd at Uruguay v South Korea match revealed to be fake fans
FRI 25
Pubs empty during England v USA because have you seen the price of a pint?
SAT 26
Qatar attempt to cancel rest of tournament now they've been eliminated
SUN 27
Spain v Germany expected to be a better match than the actual final
MON 28
Nine days in and hurrah, half the matches have already been played
TUE 29
England and Wales face off in awkward table-deciding grudge match
WED 30
David Beckham describes this tournament as better than the one he was in
David Beckham finds the keys to a new luxury yacht outside his hotel room
Match halted due to excessively liberal slogan written on armband
England v Netherlands in unfortunate clash with Hartlepool Utd v Stockport County
We're halfway through! (but over 80% of the matches have already been played)
Gary Lineker kisses Peter Tatchell to test Qatar's so-called LGBT tolerance
Half time entertainment to include stoning of immoral miscreants
(oh thank God, two days off)
First time the Double Issue Radio Times has included World Cup matches
Either England made the quarter finals or the whole country's lost interest
SAT 10
Twitter permanently collapses after VAR handball penalty incident
SUN 11
Turns out Qatar have paid £200bn to trash their global reputation
MON 12
Onset of proper Christmas delayed by interminable football overload
TUE 13
Technically England could be in today's semifinal and Wales in tomorrow's
WED 14
Aircon fails in Al Bayt stadium and 100s suffer heatstroke due to lack of beer
THU 15
With 32 teams, nobody has yet completed their Panini sticker album
FRI 16
'Best World Cup ever' title still very much up for grabs
SAT 17
All this winter kerfuffle because a dozen corrupt men were too easily bribed
SUN 18
Some team wins. Less than 3½ years to the next farrago.

The news from Canary Wharf

• This weekend sees the Winter Ice festival, which according to the blurb involves "magnificent ice sculptures, masterclass stations, ice graffiti & more". The more is ice carving, which to be fair is a lot more interesting than ice graffiti. I went down on the first evening which was Thursday, only I hadn't read the programme properly and the only events were ice graffiti and a tiny masterclass and it was a total waste of time. I tried again on Friday and found 15 ice sculptures in Jubilee Park, but because I'd arrived early most were still half-wrapped in bubblewrap so you could only tell what they were by reading a name scribbled in marker pen. I tried again on Saturday and they'd all been uncovered (bear, penguins, eagle, polar bear, etc) but they'd also been surrounded by families lingering to take photos of their offspring posing alongside and that wasn't much worth seeing either. Ice carving had occurred elsewhere, with blocks of various sizes turning into animals of various sizes, but all I got to watch was a sculptor on a break downing a lager. I would say don't come because it's not very exciting, but mainly don't come because it finished yesterday.

• They've opened up two more sets of escalators at the Crossrail station, the ones in the centre of the ticket level concourse. Don't use them, carry on using the escalators at either end of the station instead because they take you up and out. The new central escalators lead up to a tiny shopping mall on level -3 and after you've walked through that up to a tiny shopping mall on level -2 and only after that up to ground level, but not somewhere it's helpful to be. On the ascent you can buy designer clothes and get your hair done and pump iron and pay a fortune for a cinema seat, even go into the brand new M&S Food on level -3, but it really is a waste of time. You'd never go down this way, the entrance is too well hidden, so don't come up this way, it's a cynical architectural filter designed to funnel you into a retail flytrap. Always exit Canary Wharf at the end of the station, never in the middle.

• While I was on the Crossrail platform they flashed up a purple advert saying "trains every 3 minutes", but if you read the smallprint underneath that's only between Whitechapel and Paddington, and the advert they ought to be flashing up should say "trains every 8 minutes, sorry", because that's what it is here now.

 Saturday, November 19, 2022

You must come and do the thing in the place, they said, the special thing. And while you're doing the special thing you can also do the extra special thing, you must come. So I came.

Come to the rendezvous point, they said, and then travel as close as you can get to the place. You can no longer get all the way to the place because of the thing in the place, that's the whole point of the thing.

When I finally reached the place I just walked in, straight in, which I never believed you could do. The special thing was right there being properly special, and it wasn't even fully special yet, that came later. I watched while conditions changed which were crucial to moving towards the situation whereby the fully special thing could happen, and only then could the extra special thing also happen.

Blimey, I thought, I can't believe I'm really about to do this extra special thing because it really is an extra special thing. And I actually genuinely truly was! I'd been to this place before but only to do the ordinary thing, not the special thing, let alone the extra special thing, and here I was on the threshold of doing the extra special thing. This way, they said.

Only a limited number of people can do the extra special thing and normally that number is zero. Once you're in the extra special place you can see why that number is normally zero, it was never meant to be somewhere the extra special thing could happen. I felt there was a risk that the special thing wouldn't be able to happen if I was doing the extra special thing but they said it was OK. You do the extra special thing, they said, and we'll do the special thing, just keep out of the way. I tried to keep out of the way.

The extra special thing was amazing and it was indeed extra special. Keeping out of the way made things a bit taxing but eventually I found a place within the extra special place where I was less in the way and tried to make it look like I wasn't there. Look at that, I thought, they're actually doing all the special things you do in the extra special place. And they're doing them right in front of me, I'm actually seeing them happen, it's properly amazing, sorry I'll keep out of the way.

Admittedly I spent a lot of the extra special time looking elsewhere but that's because this isn't somewhere you can normally access, not like this. I never thought it'd look quite like that, although when I thought some more about it obviously it would look like that, but I only realised this blindingly obvious fact because I was doing the extra special thing in the extra special place. I basically looked everywhere I could look, and that was extra special too.

Eventually the time came for the extra special thing to end, which was just as well because if the extra special thing had carried on much longer it would never have happened again. What an experience that was, I thought, what a totally extra special thing, I never ever thought I would do that. Indeed not many people ever do that, I didn't think it could ever be an option, but it had been an option and I had done it. Leaving the extra special place was much harder.

And then it was time to do the special thing because the special thing was still there to be done, the extra special thing had just been a bonus. I was careful to thank the people from the extra special place and the people from the special place, even the person overseeing the place and they were all lovely. When you've done an extra special thing in a special place it pays to be courteous. And the special thing proved to be excellent too.

The special thing isn't the same as the ordinary thing, it has restricted entry, extra features and different conditions, very much like seeing the same thing in a different way in a different light. The special thing also took longer than the extra special thing had taken, which is just as well, and I was pleased there was a lot more space. I got the feeling they were still tweaking the special thing but it was still special.

Leaving the special place was hard, not just because the special thing was happening again but because returning from the special place was harder than arriving. Again I blamed the thing itself.

It might also make it harder for you to do the special thing, should you want to do the special thing, which is a special thing you'd probably enjoy. But you cannot do the extra special thing, the extra special thing is almost never an option, which is why I can hardly believe I've done the extra special thing. But I have, and it was truly extra special.

 Friday, November 18, 2022

Earlier this week, during that rare sunny slot, I went for a walk round the outside of the big loopy Thames meander from Rotherhithe to North Greenwich and took some photos along the way. And I wondered what would happen if I restricted myself to two hours to write the whole lot up, would there be any noticeable difference in quality, appreciation and engagement? That's five minutes down already, let's see how this goes.

This is Greenland Dock in Rotherhithe, the largest dock south of the river. I took this pretty photo while standing outside the Moby Dick pub, which is appropriately named because this is where London's whaling fleet used to process their prey. Here are three sentences randomly selected from the Wikipedia article about Greenland Dock. From the 1720s, Greenland whalers also used the dock and substantial blubber boiling houses were built to produce oil on the south side. Between 1895 and 1904 Greenland Dock was greatly expanded by being extended at a cost of £940,000 to the west in a project carried out under Sir John Wolfe-Barry, the engineer who built Tower Bridge. A masterplan was produced that advocated evicting the remaining industrial occupiers of the quaysides and transforming the dock into a residential area. I particularly like the seagulls sitting on their buoys.

This is the exit from South Dock, which unsurprisingly is just to the south of Greenland Dock. You can still walk over the lock gates but you might have to wait for a bike coming the other way first. That's Greenland Pier sloping down into the Thames which gets a Thames Clipper service every half hour or so. If London had a magic money tree, or properly funded transport provision, you could nip over to Canary Wharf in four minutes for free whereas it currently costs £3.80 and it's only that 'cheap' because they introduced a cut-price Cross River fare earlier this year. Greenland Pier was built on the site of Dog and Duck Stairs, and the leafy promenade where I'm standing was called South Dock Pierhead, and that metal lump behind the railings is an original capstan, and I'm just reading all this off an old Ordnance Survey map, I'm not super-knowledgeable.

This isn't just any old boundary stone, this is the dividing line between St Paul's parish Deptford and St Mary's parish Rotherhithe and it's been standing beside the Thames for over 200 years. More importantly until 1889 it was the actual dividing line between Kent and Surrey, after which both sides both became proper London, but it always seems amazing that the counties of Kent and Surrey came this close into the heart of what we now know as the capital. Unfortunately this isn't the precise location where the boundary used to be because they moved the stone in 1988 when all the surrounding housing was being built, it used to be on a nearby bridge over the Earl's Sluice which is one of London's lost rivers. I've not done any specialist research here, I'm just reading the information off that plaque you can see on the wall but can't read because I've shrunk the photo down far enough to make me appear well-informed.

This is the slipway of the former Greenwich Steam Ferry and can be seen at this level of clarity if you're fortunate enough to turn up bang on low tide. The steam ferry opened in 1888 with a highly innovative design whereby passengers and vehicles were transported down the foreshore on moveable platforms to the waiting ferry. The platforms were pulled up and down on cables operated by engines in the cellar of the ferry terminal building. Greenwich Steam Ferry only ran for a few years before commercial and operational difficulties led to its suspension in the early 1890s and closure in 1899. Again I haven't looked any of this up, I copied the last three sentences verbatim off an information board installed by the Environment Agency earlier this year because copying is easy.

This is a sign I saw on the railings at Crowleys Wharf, which is where the Greenwich Meridian crosses the Thames Path but that's not relevant here. It says: Text 999 "Register" to text police in emergency. I wondered what the hell that was about and when I got home I Googled and ended up on one of those clickbait pages local newspaper websites write these days and that explained everything. Apparently it's a scheme for the deaf and hard of hearing to contact the emergency services without having to talk, you just send a text message to 999 instead. Anyone can do this but it only works if you register first by texting the word "Register", so best to do that now before you find yourself hiding from a burglar and unable to make a noise without being caught. And I never knew that before.

This is Enderby Wharf, a recent housing development on the banks of the Thames in Greenwich. I think it's about five years old, also it's where the cruise liner terminal was going to be but now isn't, sorry I don't have time to check. There's now a new gastropub on the site in what I think was an old office building for a company that I think used to make submarine cables, which is cables that go underwater not cables for submarines because that would be silly. All I really want to say is my God aren't those flats ugly, the colours are garish like you might find in a limited edition of TicTacs, quite horrible. I'd never have agreed to that combination, you have to pity the folk who live in those shoeboxes because their view is all blue and orange, typical bloody Barrett homes, horrible stuff, and it turns out emotional invective is so much faster to write than facts.

This is the Thames Path at Morden Wharf, the narrow bit with the lovely weeping willow trees. But they're doomed because I saw a planning notice pinned up beside the path dated 4th November and it was titled "Essential Revetment Repair Works consisting of the full refurbishment and replacement of the existing revetment and associated raising and widening of the Thames Path and River Wall with associated works and alterations". You can't fully replace a revetment without killing off the trees embedded in it, plus I know they're for the chop because I read about it on the 853 website a couple of weeks ago. Darryl's got the full story and all the appropriate links to planning documents plus the revelation that all the trees were expected to be dead within 10 years anyway, and thank goodness for sites that still do local news properly, not least because it saves me doing it.

This is the view across the Thames from North Greenwich near the end of Drawdock Road. It's amazing how this view has changed, even quite recently, from a few Docklands towers to a forest of steel and glass with some extraordinary shapes, but that's Wood Wharf for you. I've got a photo from 2010 somewhere but I don't have time to delve into what these new towers are because I've run out of time, my two hours are up. Look at that, I've managed to write over 1200 words in the time it normally takes me to write much less and all because I've plagiarised and waffled rather than wasting time on proper background research. That's brilliant, I now have the rest of the afternoon free and can also go out this evening, because if you take a few nice photos it seems you can get away with any old rubbish underneath.

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the diamond geezer index
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my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards