Monday 12 February 2024

Trouble Travelling To Thamesmead (1)


This map from the late 1860s shows that there wasn't much to Thamesmead back then, apart from low lying grazing land often flooded in the winter. The straight line across the lower part of the above map is the National Rail line. Where the straight roadway crosses at right angles, you will find Abbey Wood station.
Just to the west (left), you would find Woolwich Dockyards with a short canal leading from the Thames.
Plumstead station creeps in bottom right. A short stretch of the canal remains, now called Broadwater.
Very pleasant.

The lumpy bit upper right on the overall map is called Cross Ness, and a little further to the east appears Cross Ness pumping station.

This was part of Joseph Bazalgette's grand scheme to rid central London of "The Great Stink" and it all opened in 1870.
The line of the "outfall" runs diagonally across a modern map ...
... and is the line taken by a modern road and a delightful footpath.
Well, delightful if you can block out the road noise!

Cross Ness is now a modern sewage treatment works.
Between Woolwich and the Pumping Station is the location of today's Thamesmead ...
... with further development to the west on the old docks site and nearby.
You can spot the former canal lower left opposite Belmarsh Prison.
His Majesty's Prison Belmarsh is a Category A men's prison in Thamesmead, southeast London, England. The prison is used in high-profile cases, particularly those concerning national security. Within the prison grounds is the High Security Unit, which consists of 48 single cells. It is run by His Majesty's Prison Service. The prison has been called "Britain's Guantanamo Bay" due to the long-term detention of terrorism suspects without charge.

And here is an extract map of the Woolwich area to give a bit more context to what follows.
Note the Royal Docks, London City Airport, the Elizabeth Line line tunnel, the Woolwich Ferry and foot tunnel (lower centre) and an additional tunnel lower right which carries the DLR branch to Woolwich. The other DLR branch to Beckton terminates top centre.

To complete this overview, here is a Mike Harris' London Bus Map extract of the Thamesmead area.
Along the bottom is the railway line showing Plumstead and Abbey Wood stations.

The first residents moved in to Thamesmead in 1968.
In July 1968 the first family moved from their home in Peckham to Thamesmead. The Gooch family — Terence and Joan and their children Velia 11, John, eight and Tony, five — were chosen by the GLA to be the first residents of Thamesmead. The family were chauffeur driven to their new home on Coralline Walk for a ceremonial event and presented with a commemorative plaque by Desmond Plummer, the Leader of the Greater London Council. Mr Plummer described them as ​‘pioneers’ moving into a new town at its very beginning.

This video gives an impression of what the place was like in those hopeful early days.
But surely, you may ask, shouldn't there be some sort of train service into central Thamesmead?

Residents have been asking that question for 56 years.

 Next Thamesmead blog : Tuesday 13th February 

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