Farewell Red Crane
From Café Rouge’s terrace, the view of the new University Library and School of Architecture is being revealed. The crane located at the heart of the construction site has dominated the townscape for quite some time. It has been fascinating to see the essential building materials being craned off the long distance lorries which, while parked, have dominated the street scene. Its lofty jib popped up where you least expected, not unlike the Greenwich trio of maltings of long ago.
Pop into Warwick Leadlay Gallery to see the set of ‘Goades’ – town plans which reflect the market town nature of Greenwich; memories of the fruit and veg market and cobbled paving with stall holders’ barrows groaning with veg and fruit, these ancient passage ways once deserted now throb with tourists who just love the jollity of the weekend events as well as the speciality curios and such during the week. The Goade town plans recorded a nationwide pattern of small shops and traders of yesteryear. The old railway station and Blind Institute dominated the scene before the stark Scandinavian style Town Hall barged its way into the Royal Hill scenario which included Wendy Meade’s neighbour shop where troubles were aired and aided, and also Devonshire Dairy which once perched by the side of the railway cutting. Now at last Royal Hill’s special ambience is well respected – let’s hope that the Police Station and its parking plot doesn’t attract unsympathetic structures.
The overall mass of the new University proposals sent a shiver down my spine. Perhaps its spring sunshine which enhances the new stone brick façades with its bold window returns and secret passage ways now being revealed – not unlike Hawksmoor’s bold structure St Alfege church and within the College grounds. The more I see, the more I like – this building will indeed enhance the town, especially its relationship with the new National Maritime Museum wing in the nearby park which set the pace. I can’t help thinking of Kingston-upon-Thames, where the soul of this market town has suffered with massive structures slotted into the medieval scene. I fear the rest of Greenwich is falling to the same blight of too larger infills dominating the scene on the outer fringes, which are an affront to the town we love. Massive apartment blocks now dominate London’s river scape and even in the Greenwich Peninsula and in Deptford’s Dockyard we are going to get more of the same. Beware folks, the south east is doubling in population; dare I say it, a new river crossing is indeed a necessity to avoid even more funnelling of traffic into the metropolitan area. The opportunity of creating a new, direct hop-skip-and-a-jump crossing linking The Royals, Isle of Dogs and Canada Water was lost when the dock closures left a golden opportunity. There, I have said it!! A similar construction to the Medway Tunnel.