Pic of the Week: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

First we had the short-lived Church Street Canal, now it seems El Brute have opted to bring more of a Wizard of Oz feel to Twickenham. The paving stones seem to be going in at a rate of about one a day, so whether we’ll ever get to the Emerald City is debatable. And as for who might play the Wizard, the Cowardly Lion, the heartless Tin Man, the brainless Scarecrow or the Wicked Witch of the East, we can only speculate. Or perhaps you should.

We're off to see the Wizard...

We’re off to see the Wizard…

Just click your heels together and repeat, “There’s no place like Twickenhome”.

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On Yer Bike! Well, Are You?

Village bike

A village bike

Did you see last week’s Ricky Twicky Times? Well did you? Cor blimey! That front page all about that bloody cyclist clocking 41mph in Richmond Park. Dangerous eh? And breaking the 20mph speed limit too. The article elicited plenty of comment online. Ban ‘em! Leave ‘em be! What about the motorists, they’re even worse. And as for those deer, wandering around, eating bark and chestnuts like they own the bloody park: twig-headed idiots. There were no winners.

It got us thinking about cycling. Unlike that chap in the park, not everyone wants to race around wearing lycra that provides onlookers with way too much information about what goes wrong when you hit middle age. But not everyone wants to ride at a sedate pace waving at vicars whether that be on a bike or on a deer. It’s about balance isn’t it? And there are always valid arguments both for and against that.

Lycra louts

Lycra louts on Cross Deep

How about some tolerance and respect and understanding? Why, just the other day, your humble correspondent got called a “two wheeled terrorist” for having the audacity to try to cycle through a green light whilst a group of rugby fans were attempting to cross the road despite the ‘red man’ facing them. Thanks guys. The very next day we witnessed a car braking hard when making a left turn into a side road, not because the driver had made an error when overtaking a bike but because a cyclist had been bombing along the pavement and had crossed the junction without so much as a sideways glance. Pavement cycling by small children is one thing (namely, illegal, a bit irritating but understandable), but there seems to be a small but determined group (usually men in their twenties, often in hi-viz work vests, en route to some place or other) who think a pavement equates to a cycle lane. Dudes, it doesn’t.

And how about this sign spotted on the Eel Pie Island bridge urging local cyclists to show consideration towards residents on foot. If there’s a more polite request than this anywhere in the world we’d very much like to see it. But they have a point too.

Sign on Eel Pie Island bridge

Sign on Eel Pie Island bridge

You’ll note we haven’t bothered to mention all the occasions when motorists have been inconsiderate towards cyclists or the accidents that make the news with depressing regularity. There are too many to list.

Having said all of that, let’s cut to the chase, is Twickenham actually a good place to cycle? Richmond Council’s “mini-holland” bid which sought funding from the GLA to improve cycling in the borough didn’t fare overly well but El Brute does make positive noises about trying to encourage cycling. There’s an El Brute ‘cycling champion’ with a brief to promote cycling across the Council’s work. There are even classes available to help people improve their confidence on two wheels. And yet in Twickenham we’re all waiting (and waiting) for the roadworks and pavement works to finish so that we can see how effective the cycle related aspects of the Twickenham Action Plan turn out to be. Yes, there were some in there. As it stands at the moment riding through the town centre doesn’t feel very different than it did a year ago. Or two years ago. The bus stops have moved, some of the marked bike lanes have gone, there are some advance cycle stop points at junctions (often occupied by cars) and the traffic is just as busy as ever, if not busier. It’s not for the faint hearted. And because of that we’ll reserve judgement until the whole thing is finished.

It would be great to see more locals confident about getting out and about on their bikes whether for work, fitness or just for fun. El Brute and others need to make sure the awareness-raising and education process encompasses those on four wheels as well as those on two. Who knows, maybe next year, those drunken rugby fans might even be shouting ‘nice wheels’ rather than abuse.

So. Cycling? In Twickenham? How’s it going for you?

LINKS:
* El Brute mini holland page
* El Brute cycling page
* Richmond Cycling Campaign

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Plans for an Eel Pie Island Museum

Eel Pie Island Music LegendsYou might not know it today but Twickenham has a rich music heritage around jazz and rhythm n blues. Well, we say it’s Twickenham’s heritage but it’s fair to say that one small piece of this town is at the heart of it – Eel Pie Island. Perhaps you went along to the Eelpiland exhibition at Orleans House Gallery in 2013. If you didn’t, you should have. It gave a great insight into the Island’s music scene in the 1950’s and 60’s. But what if that exhibition could be made permanent for more people to enjoy? Michele Whitby is a Twickenham local,  Eel Pie islander and a champion of spreading the word about Twickenham’s place in music history. In this guest blog she takes up the story….

Eel Pie Island Museum
Michele Whitby

Plans are afoot to create a new museum in Twickenham dedicated to Eel Pie Island. World famous for its musical heritage, the island also has a fantastic riparian history, all of which really deserve to be celebrated and shared, not just with locals but also the many tourists that visit London.

Richmond-upon-Thames is steeped in history, stately homes and beautiful parks which all make it a great place to visit. But alongside the more traditional attractions, our borough is also sitting on a wealth of very significant musical heritage. Global superstars such as the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and many more, started out on their path to fame and fortune right on our doorsteps. Eel Pie Island played a pivotal part in the British RnB explosion and was a mecca for thousands of music fans in the 1950’s and 60’s; we really should be making more of this exciting aspect of our history.

For today’s sixty-somethings, who were actually ‘there’ when it all happened, the chance to revisit their youth and show their children and grandchildren just how cool they really were is something that is missing from the attractions we currently have on offer. At present we only have the Heritage Board outside the Barmy Arms dedicated to arguably one of the most exciting aspects of the area’s history – Eel Pie Island. The board attracts much attention and almost daily tourists amble over the bridge to the Island seeking a taste of the musical history, but of course the hotel is long gone and there is nothing left to see.

Eel Pie Island Hotel

Eel Pie Island Hotel

So, I want to set up and run an Eel Pie Island Museum in Twickenham, as close as possible to the Island itself. Continue reading

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Anyone for Scrabble?

It’s an important Council meeting. Topics of relevance to the people of the Borough are up for discussion. You’re part of the opposition group. You want to scrutinise the plans of those in power and hold them to account. And so how do you decide to do this? Why, through the medium of Scrabble of course. What’s not to love about this picture from last Tuesday’s Council meeting at El Brute as snapped by Twickenham Riverside Tory Councillor Helen Hill.

It shows ‘Elengorn’ (he’s a Liberal Democrat Councillor for Teddington as opposed to a character in Lord of the Rings) having a dabble at Scrabble on his tablet. As Councillor Hill told us, “I was surprised to see him playing board games during an important budget meeting”. Quite.

Anyone for Scrabble? (Picture credit: Helen Hill)

Anyone for Scrabble?
(Picture credit: Helen Hill)

Speaking up in his own defence, Cllr Elengorn is quoted on the Richmond and Twickenham Times website as saying, “The only way of making it through Councillor Samuel’s bombastic boasts is to try and distract the mind. Unfortunately, I am capable of doing two things at once and every word registered. I don’t think I was the only one playing games, but I won’t name names”. Oh go on, please do!

Meanwhile the outcome of the meeting was that El Brute confirmed its budget for 2015/16 including Council tax remaining frozen for another year. However some fees and charges will increase to cover reductions in grants from central government.

LINKS:
* Richmond & Twickenham Times – Council Tax Freeze

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Pic of the Week: Church Street Canal

We thought we’d take a picture of the new street and paving work going on in Church Street. At least, we thought it was new paving when we took our initial picture. Imagine our surprise (that’s right, it was just mild surprise) when less than a day later we discovered what is really going on. As part of the Twickenham Action Plan, aka the TWAP, it seems El Brute have decided to transform Church Street by converting it into a waterway. Colin Cooper snapped this picture for Twitter saying, “@twickerati have you not seen the new Church Street canal? Very Venetian. I’ll be visiting @EelPiepub in my gondola!”. Sounds like a good plan. We just wonder if LBRUT’s contractors have spotted that Church Street is not actually flat. Or maybe we can expect a few locks, a dry dock and a home for a certain royal barge too.  Images of Council Leader Lord True sporting a striped shirt and straw boater belting out “Just One Cornetto” spring to mind. And can never be erased.

Church Street Canal picture: Colin Cooper @colin_j_cooper

Church Street Canal
picture: Colin Cooper / @colin_j_cooper

Picture by Colin Cooper on Twitter aka @colin_j_cooper

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Vote to Support the Duke’s River. Now.

River Crane

River Crane at Kneller Gdns

Hurry along now! Yes right now. The Greater London Authority is stumping up some cash from the Mayor’s Big Green Fund to improve local green spaces across the capital. You get to vote on which projects are worthy of attention. The catch is that the 2nd March is the deadline to vote. So, who are you going to vote for? Why, you’re going to vote for ‘The Duke’s River Link’ of course.

The Duke of Northumberland’s River is an artificial waterway that comprises two sections, with the eastern part taking water from the River Crane at Kneller Gardens, up past The Stoop and Twickenham Stadium and on to the Thames at Isleworth and to the ornamental ponds at Syon Park. It was built about 500 years ago during the time of Syon Abbey.

What will happen if the project secures funding through the Big Green Poll? The intention is to make this short stretch of river into a haven for wildlife and also to improve the accessibility, signs and paths. After a couple of highly damaging pollution spills into the River Crane in recent years, this sounds like a plan that’s well worthy of your support.

LINKS:
* Info & voting (deadline 2nd March)
* Duke of Northumberland’s River

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Twickenham House Fire Caused By Nutella Jar

Nutella jar was used to store loom bands

Nutella jar was used to store loom bands

A blaze which tore through a family home in Twickenham was caused by sunlight refracted through a glass jar on a window sill. The fire took hold on Sunday 15th February at the home of the Murphy family in Fielding Avenue in Twickenham and caused substantial damage to the property and led to the death of the family’s pet dog, Chilli. Mr and Mrs Murphy and their two children (aged 7 and 3) were not at home at the time. London Fire Brigade investigators identified a glass Nutella jar which was being used to hold ‘loom bands’ as the source of the fire. The combination of sun’s rays and glass jar were sufficient to cause blinds in a bedroom to catch fire.

Loom bands

Loom bands

The fire brigade has advised people to be aware of the risks presented by glass and crystal left in direct sunlight. News websites quote the fire brigade as saying that in the last five years there have been 125 fires caused by the sun’s rays and that these can occur in winter as well as in summer. This sad and bizarre story has now even made the news in the USA and Australia.

 

 

Pictures on the London Fire Brigade Flickr stream:
pic1
pic2
pic4

LINKS:
* Get West London
* BBC London
* London Fire Brigade (Flickr)
* New York Post

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Pic of the Week: High Tides

Twickenham is by the river. People park their cars by the river. Sometimes there are high tides. Sometimes the cars get flooded. Oh dear. It’s not news. Get over it. It’s just a shame, a damned shame, but then we all experience a little bit of schadenfreude. You might as well just admit it.

Geese check out Audi

Geese check out Audi

Golf and barge. Twickenham

Golf and barge. Twickenham

LINKS:
Maybe these will help…
* Environment Agency
* Tide Times

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Grimwood Gun Stash

Strange news from the not-so-mean streets of Twickenham today, 17th February. The closure of Grimwood Road near the station led to questions being asked on Twitter. Was it a gas leak? Was it some kind of explosive device? Where exactly is Grimwood Road anyway? It turns out that weapons and ammunition were found at an empty house in the street. The Evening Standard reports that the stash was seized after police were initially called at around 12pm on Monday. The house was then secured overnight and when additional ammunition was discovered on Tuesday, a security cordon was put in place. Later on Tuesday @MPSRichmond tweeted, “Firearms found inside an empty house in Grimwood Rd #Twickenham – cordons were in place for house search – now removed. Enquiries continue.”

The Standard cites the Metropolitan Police as saying there was no indication the find was terror-related. Either way, it’s not the kind of thing one normally expects to hear about in London’s premier leafy suburb.

LINK:
* Evening Standard

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