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The Bridge over the River Thames.

Our comments on the parlous state of Wandsworth Bridge have now made it into the pages of this week’s Wandsworth Guardian. 

Fellow editor and pensioner, Len James, is quoted at length and reference is made to our august Wandsworth Voice site.

Photographs were mentioned … And here they are again …

Over to you Wandsworth Borough Council …. 


Cruising down the river … or possibly up the river 

Either way – with or without the tide – this has led us to consider a departure from our sometimes polemical ‘commentaires’ on life in and around Wandsworth.  Perhaps now with more reference to the social life that we can follow around here.

So … we are introducing a new weekly review of the many hostelries – one by one – but not necessarily in strict geographical order –  that trade from Putney to Nine Elms – and exist within ‘a gnat’s crotchet’ (or actually a 4 minutes stroll) of our dear Flumen Tamesis.

An initial audit suggests that there are at least 26 of these – and there are probably more.  And this will certainly fill and fuel THE WANDSWORTH VOICE for the next 6 months.

We have a name for this new feature … It is to be called …. ‘Ales of the Riverbank’.

Tomorrow ŵe shall start with our ‘alma mater’ …. The Cat’s Back on Point Pleasant.



Battersea Sports Centre

So, perhaps our campaigning of exactly one year ago did have an effect – as we wrote on THE WANDSWORTH VOICE at the time – to close a sports facility in a sensitive area of Battersea, without providing a timely alternative, was ill-advised.

Our post from 9 February 2015 is there for all to read …



It has indeed been well recorded that the editors of THE WANDSWORTH VOICE are not in favour of the second manifestation of the Formula E motor race due to be run in our dear Battersea Peak in July this year.

We are now part of the group who formally oppose the race being held in Battersea Park.

One of the editors has submitted a formal objection to the Planning Committee of Wandsworth Borough Council.

And here it is:

This is an objection to the proposed Planning Application submitted by the Formula E organisation for the holding of a motor race in Battersea Park on two days in July 2016.

To whom it may concern from John Fowler:

I started writing this formal objection to this application at around 11:15am on Saturday, 23 January 2016. It was a sunny, yet chilly, morning. I was sitting on a bench just inside the Park by the Albert Bridge Road. I was amazed, enthralled and indeed enchanted by the number of people in the park. Walking, strolling, jogging, running, cycling, skating, pushing prams, playing organised team-games, playing disorganised team-games. Or, just like me, sitting down and resting and watching my fellow-citizens enjoying their leisure-time.

And I said to myself … not only ‘What a Wonderful Park’ … but also, if this number of folk are using the park and its many facilities on a cold winter’s morn, just think how many more will be looking to enjoy it to the full in the months of June and July. 

And how this will not be the case when new roads are being constructed and then deconstructed, when ugly, drab concrete barriers are put in place, when access to several areas will be restricted, when sound systems are being tested, when large flat-bed trucks are queuing up to first deliver and then take away temporary stands and accommodation … in order to host a fairly insignificant motor race.

Battersea Park does have a fine history of hosting events, large and small. But this race is simply being held in the wrong place. As has been said my many before me.

Others will raise objections based on and around dangers to public safety, contravention of key health and safety issues, noise pollution from hovering helicopters, air pollution from delivery trucks. My objections are predicated on the more emotional aspects of depriving people of the joy and satisfaction of simply going into their park at their leisure.

To hold this race here is a crude and shallow compromise. The organisers didn’t want it here (their TV trails still show their cars driving over Westminster Bridge) nor were the citizens of Battersea, Wandsworth, Clapham Junction and Chelsea clamouring for it to take place in their fine Park.

I am a long-term resident of Wandsworth Borough (a mere 47 years) and, with recent boundary changes, I am now also a Battersea parliamentary constituent. I know the Park pretty well but over the years perhaps did not take sufficient advantage of it. 

But times change and things happen.

In my case it is that my dear wife has now been a resident in the Meadbank Nursing Home in Parkgate Road for the last two years. She had a lengthy teaching career, initially in Earlsfield and then in Battersea itself at Chesterton School. One of the few joys in her now sadly restricted and proscribed life-style is for me to take her in her wheel-chair into the Park. When she was placed in Meadbank we found the Park so convenient, so accessible, so pleasant to commune with nature and to have a few cups of tea in the charming, timeless lakeside cafeteria. And it’s become quite a ritual for both of us.

This will be marred this summer, as it was last summer, by building works, barriers, noise and actual closure.

The Park exists for all in perpetuity. By shutting it, by restricting access, by changing its ambience, by holding an event which was never intended for a public park, by apparently ignoring or contravening its own environmental and pollution objectives Wandsworth Borough Council – who merely manage the Park on our behalf – is doing itself a major disservice in addition to doing a massive disservice to the people who visit the Park for whatever purpose.

I ask you to reject the application to hold the Formula E event.

Just as you let down users of and visitors to the Park, so are you letting yourselves down by not listening properly to me and my fellow objectors and by not taking fair and proper note of the depth and quality of our feelings in the context of this event. 


Formula E will return to Battersea Park next summer – well, what a surprise.

July 2 and 3 are the dates.
Let our mimed joy resound.  Our silent prayers have been answered … our Trappist imprecations to Saint Frances of Rome, the renowned Patron Saint of the (Tesla) Motor Car and all those who drive therein, have been acknowledged. 

And even greater news … it’s just before the school holidays – at the time when local schools will be having their annual Sports Days.  In Battersea Park. 

New events will include “Free Climbing on the Concrete Barriers”,  “Riding bikes between silent cars going at 115mph”, “Shouting Louder than the PA systems” and “Spotting the Helicopter Numbers”.
The Dogs and Cats Home are going to be offering specially discounted canine and feline anti-stress therapy sessions and additionally members of our local meerkat clan in the Battersea Park zoo are being encouraged by their keepers not to stand up and look around quizically for quite a few days.

But … hang on … Just think if the mammoth delivery trucks bringing in tons of kit and stuff were E-powered …  and the perpetually hovering helicopters were as well  …  Now that would make a point …

As it is / as it will be … we look forward to a totally immemorable event featuring immemorable participants … which will take place when the UK sporting community will be preoccupied by the football events taking place in France in Euro 2016. 

And an apparently irrelevant F1 event in Austria over the same weekend. 

Good timing – now that’s what we may call it – because as we now realise … our dear (seen here slumbering?) Wandsworth Borough Council Leader (Number 6 below) will still be able to go to the Wimbledon tennis final the following week – as he is clearly wont to do …



The Wandsworth Voice


How appropriate the name …. as indeed all local inhabitants this very evening (19 November 2015) are reaching for their earplugs. Whether in the site itself or all along the road opposite.  


Because Wandsworth Borough Council, in its infinite wisdom, has rolled over in its usual supine manner and has allowed the infamous developer, St George (there’s an irony – he’s only our patron saint) to work the night through because they have to undertake a bit of ‘concrete power floating’ … 

The normal working hours, so often abused, are between 0800 and 1800. But if there are ‘special circumstances’ … guess what… the council and its Environmental Health people in their even-handed wisdom will always acquiesce.  

IAnd you know what – it’s been just like this since 2003. Only 12 years. 

This time … were residents apprised in good time? Were residents consulted? Were the views of construction consultants taken into consideration? … Especially those who state that there is no real justification for work during the night. 

The cycle could be completed during the day … though that would impact on other schedules on the site.  

So who suffers? 

Not our Patron Saint. Not our saintly Borough Council. 

But local people whose lives are thoroughly and totally disrupted as they prepare for their working day ahead.  

And here’s an anecdote … a resident of Battersea Reach was spotted in the local Tesco buying 4 bottles of Bulgarian Blanc – as opposed to her usual 2 – so that she and her friend might be guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

On a very serious note – we do encourage all local people to complain in the strongest possible terms about this infraction … people do have a right to sleep and Wandsworth Borough Council don’t have the right to deny it.


Are the Lights going out all over London?  Or is it just in Wandsworth?

Whatever indeed has happened to our erstwhile Brighter Borough?

This is what Wandsworth Bridge looked like on the evening of August 27th – photographed from the Putney side – the sides of the bridge in total darkness, apart from the all-important navigation light.

And it’s been like this for quite some time –

it’s all the more noticeable now as we approach Autumn.

As a reminder of days previous this is how it looked back in November 2012, in all its resplendent glory ….

What is however much more worrying is that earlier this week we noticed that the Navigation Light on the Battersea side of the bridge was not functioning – certainly therefore posing a hazard to any evening/late night/early morning river traffic.  The Port of London Authority has been informed, as have the engineers of Wandsworth Borough Council, who are responsible for the upkeep of the bridge and its lighting, in all its various forms.

Why this is even more important than ever

This Saturday sees one of the major annual events on the Thames – The Great River Race from Docklands to Ham.  Over 300 people-powered boats take part.  Crews will be making their way along the river this Friday evening (10 September) for the Saturday morning start – and then will push and pull themselves through some 21 miles of river water for up to 4 hours.

Whilst the race itself will be in the hours of daylight – there will be inevitably more river traffic before and after the race.  Let’s hope that the assorted curraghs and skiffs make it there and back safely and that their crews’ well-being is not in any way compromised by blacked-out bridges.

So Wandsworth Borough Council ….. Let There be Light, please  …. or as the Roman trireme captains would have said as they were discovering Londinium and its Tamesis ….. FIAT LUX