Twickenham High Street Update (Redux)

It’s our first High Street Update of 2015 so get ready for a roller coaster ride of emotions. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll experience the deep joy of a life-affirming message of hope. But most of all you’ll probably just tut and roll your eyes.

SPOILER ALERT: This article reveals details of shops that are opening and closing in Twickenham.

Smokin! We’re all going flaming BBQ bonkers in TW1. What do you mean you didn’t know that? Well, assuming you’re not lying, you’re about to find out now. The former Hobgoblin / Grand Union pub on London Road is becoming a branch of Blue’s Smokehouse. It’s due to open in late February or early March and bills itself as an “Authentic American BBQ” selling ribs, burgers and the like. There’s already one in Bracknell which has generally favourable reviews on TripAdvisor. Across the street from Blue’s, the Twickenham Wimpy is no more. It’s gone. Finito. It’s being replaced by a Steers burger joint. Steers sounds a bit more macho than good old British ‘Wimpy’ although both chains are owned by the same company, South African giant Famous Brands. Famous who?

Further up London Road, on the corner of Arragon Road, another pub that’s had more incarnations than it’s served pints is getting a comprehensive re-fit by its new owners. The former Rugby Tavern / London Road Bar / Coady’s etc. will re-open as The Shack 68, a bar and ‘smokehouse’. In fact you might even have seen the separate smoking smokehouse bit out the back. It should do well with rugby crowds. Is there a World Cup on the way by any chance? There surely is.

And finally on the carnivore’s tour, the former Ales & Tails Bar on York Street is being turned into a Chicago Rib Shack. There are already other branches dotted around the UK with the Twickenham edition set to open in March. Here at HQ we like the look of their American breakfasts.

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Roadworks Roll On

Surely everyone likes a nice bit of pavement don’t they? In Twickenham they’re all the rage, although it’s now becoming hard to remember a time when there weren’t any road or pavement works going on somewhere in the town centre. When Ian Curtis sang, “Where will it end?” in Day of the Lords it’s unlikely he was commenting on roadworks in his own hometown of Macclesfield but he might well have been. London Road, King Street and Church Street are all in a ‘state of transition’ at the moment but as we wait for them to finish, if you do have any memories of a time before roadworks, please feel free to share them on our Nostalgia page.

Roadworks roll on

Roadworks roll on

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Twickenham Fine Ales Brewery Tour

Twickenham’s rugby connections mean that the town is more famous for the consumption of beer than its production. It will be a long time before that changes but local brewery Twickenham Fine Ales is doing a pretty good job of putting Twickenham on the map for quality brews. In fact, it’s London’s oldest micro-brewery, having celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014.

Founded by Steve Brown in 2004, the business has grown over the last decade picking up awards, moving to a bigger and better space, and raising both its profile and its sales. Its beers are now widely available in local pubs and further afield too. They can also be found, bottled up, on the shelves of discerning off-licences. Perhaps you’ve seen Naked Ladies, Grandstand and Redhead on the pumps at your local. These regulars form just three of the 20 different beers produced each year.

The brewery bar is open on rugby days (there’ll be a big screen there for this Saturday’s England game) and there are also monthly tours which offer a guide to the art of making proper ales and provide an opportunity to sample the wares ‘in the spirit of education and learning’. Here at twickerati we don’t usually do reviews but for the chance of drinking some booze at a real life brewery, we thought we’d break the rules and pop along.

For the beer-hardened band of brothers (and sisters) who assembled at TFA’s Mereway Road HQ the tour began with a run through of the brewery’s history before moving on to the rather more important subject of making beer. Our hosts Ben and Dave talked through the whole process from end to end with plenty of ‘sciencey’ bits thrown in. Dave even went into detail (too much detail, perhaps) about the hot, sweaty, uncomfortable work of cleaning out the copper. Rather him than us, we all thought.

Twickenham Fine Ales currently produce four brews each week but with demand still growing, a fifth fermentation vessel is now being added. Tour goers get the opportunity to sample three beers, in our case Grandstand (3.8%, well hopped, refreshing with citrus notes), Sundancer (3.7%, a crisp and hoppy session bitter) and Winter Cheer (4.4%, dark, full bodied, hints of spice). As brewer Dave explained, Twickenham beers tend to be at the ‘hoppier side of traditional’ with their hops sourced from countries such as the USA, Slovenia and Germany as well as from the UK. The rise of micro-breweries in recent years, especially in America, has caused a significant increase in the demand for hops, pushing up the price and meaning that brewers are having to look carefully at where they source their ingredients.

Grist, mash, liquor, sparging, hot wort, cold wort, wet yeast, dry yeast and ullage. If you don’t know what they are now, you will do by the end of the tour.

The Mereway Road brewery is not exactly a big place and so looking around doesn’t take up much time, but the insights into brewing and the business of brewing provide for a very interesting evening, made all the more enjoyable by the friendly and informative team. And then of course, there’s sampling the beer too. In conclusion: well worth a visit.

LINK:
* Twickenham Fine Ales Tours (cost: £15)

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Pic of the Week: The Thames at Twickenham

We all love the river, right? Right!  And we especially like this photo of moody skies over Twickenham from Eel Pie Islander Michele Whitby. Not bad for a view, eh? A bit of cloud, a hint of blue, patches of sunlight… and boats. Splendid.

 

Moody skies over the Thames [image courtesy of Michele Whitby]

Moody skies over the Thames
[image courtesy of Michele Whitby]

 

 

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Rugby World Cup Residents Briefings Scheduled

Twickenham stadium

Twickenham stadium

You will be looking forward to this year’s Rugby World Cup with either excitement or dread. Or indifference. Indifference might not be the best option given that the event is going to have a much greater impact on the town than the usual Six Nations and Autumn International matches.

The tournament begins with England v Fiji on 18th September, the first of ten games at Twickenham Stadium over a six week period. In addition to the usual match day stuff that you’ll be well used to by now, there will be international teams based locally ‘for training purposes’, visitors staying in the town (no doubt you’re registering with airbnb as you read this) and a ‘Festival of Rugby’ across El Brute’s domain with arts and music events as well as oval ball related antics. Oh, and there’s an agreement ‘in principle’ to close sections of the A316 on match days. Yikes. In other words, Twickenham will be busy.

If you want to find out more about these arrangements to help you prepare (or perhaps to help you plan your escape) then El Brute are running a series of community briefings in the coming weeks. There are business briefings on 27th February and 3rd and 12th March. These are now fully booked although the resulting FAQs will be made available online afterwards.

Briefings for residents (that’s people like you, btw) will take place between 5th and 23rd March. Details are:
*  Thursday 5th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Chase Bridge School, Whitton
*  Monday 9th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Turks Head pub, St Margarets (Full, apparently)
*  Tuesday 17th March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Clarendon Hall, York House, Twickenham
*  Monday 23rd March, 6.30 – 8.30pm, Richmond Adult Community College, Parkshot, Richmond

 

LINKS:
* LBRuT – briefings page
* El Brute RWC main page
* Rugby World Cup 2015

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East Twickenham School Goes East

Ryde House, Richmond Road, East Twickenham

Ryde House, Richmond Road, East Twickenham

The school report about delivering more much needed primary school places in Twickenham would say something like, ‘needs improvement’. This time it’s East Twickenham that’s in a state of agitation and not without foundation. The plan for a new free school, Richmond Bridge Primary, took a knock recently when the peeps who are setting it up, Bellevue Place Education Trust, announced that they’d found a suitable site… in Richmond. So, the school that’s going to open in September 2015 is no longer Richmond Bridge Primary, it’s now Old Deer School and it’s going to be on Lower Mortlake Road, TW9. Good news for Richmond but bad news for East Twickenham and St Margarets. The trust says it will still welcome applications from TW1 types to the new school and that it still intends to open a school in the East Twickenham area in the future. (Do you remember the future? It was going to be a place full of wonderful things)

Once again it all boils down to the thorny issue of finding a suitable site. Ryde House on Richmond Road had been the intended location but with Lidl now planning to convert it into a supermarket, the school had to find a home elsewhere. Locals are now ramping up the campaign to get a primary school sorted for East Twickenham and have set up a website and petition to focus attention on the issue.

Elsewhere we wait to see what happens next in the saga of Twickenham Green Primary School whose proposed site, Heathgate House, squeezed between Colne Road and Heath Road didn’t impress Green-siders last December. And there’s a final call on another chance to comment (yes, really!) on the plans to turn the RUTC Egerton Road site into the Richmond Education and Enterprise Campus aka REEC. How. Many. Times? An outline planning application for that is expected in February.

We have to assume that all this location-related malarkey is well within the parameters of what Michael Gove would have expected when championing the free schools approach. We called the Department for Education to ask him to comment on the matter only to find that he’d been shunted sideways to the Chief Whip post. Some might observe that while Richmond Bridge Primary has gone east, Gove’s career might be heading south.

LINKS:
* East Twickenham Village site
* SET – Schools for East Twickenham
* Richmond Bridge Primary School – now to be called Deer Park School, TW9
* Lidl – Richmond Road
* REEC (comment deadline 30th Jan)

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Richmond Council to Merge Operations with Wandsworth

The seat of El Brute power

The seat of El Brute power

The dream of an independent Twickenham took another blow this week when Richmond and Wandsworth Councils announced plans to create a ‘shared staffing arrangement’ across the two boroughs. The expectation is that the new model will deliver savings of £10m per annum in the two local authorities once it goes live in March 2017.

Fans of El Brute can take some reassurance that the each council will retain its separate status with its own elected officials. So, if you were expecting some kind of super-authority with fewer councillors you’ll be disappointed. Ah well, another time maybe. The arrangement will initially deliver savings in management costs but cost reductions in service commissioning and provision are expected to follow.

At the top of the tree the two councils will be managed by a single Chief Executive and single Deputy Chief Exec. These are expected to be Paul Martin, currently Chief Executive at Wandsworth (Richmond’s Gillian Norton will retire in 2016) with Mark Maidment as his Deputy (currently El Brute’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services). Well, at least the head honcho issue has been resolved nice and early.

And as for Kingston Council with which Richmond had been flirting for some time in search of new ways to jointly commission and provide services, El Brute Leader Lord True, aka the Blue Baron, said, “We could not agree on a single, joint management approach which could work effectively for both authorities”. Bam! So, it looks like a case of, “Sod you, you can have the bloody Gloriana and be done with it”.

With councils across the country needing to make big savings, it makes sense for them to look for new ways to cut costs. What this means for the residents and businesses of Richmond, Wandsworth and, of course, Twickenham who use their services remains to be seen. Indeed, what this means for those currently employed by the two councils remains to be seen too. The intention is that each council will retain its own identity and be able to focus on its own priorities. How this new model actually works in practice with a shared infrastructure supporting two boroughs is likely to be the biggest challenge of the new approach. What does it all mean? Will it succeed? Only you know the answers to those questions… and our dear leaders, of course.

LINK:
* Richmond Council Press Release

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Gloriana to Find Home in Kingston

Gloriana at Twickenham in 2012

Gloriana at Twickenham in 2012

After last summer’s Battle of Orleans Gardens, it looks as if the royal row barge Gloriana will be going to Kingston. The site in question is Canbury Gardens. According to the Kingston Guardian, barge boss Lord Sterling has written to Kingston Council saying that the non-tidal location would be ‘an ideal home for Gloriana’. The intention, at least on Lord S’s part, is that the project can ‘meet a deadline of June 2016′. Kingston Council are supportive of the plan. It will be interesting to see more details on exactly what’s being proposed, who’s going to be paying for it and what the locals think.

As you probably know, Canbury Gardens already has a large boathouse and pub and so whatever gets built for Gloriana would be in good company. Good location? Bad location? Most would agree that it’s a better location than Orleans Gardens.

LINK:
* Kingston Guardian link

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Heathrow Expansion: Consultation Deadline 3rd February

Give us a wave!

Give us a wave!

So you don’t want more planes groaning their way over your house on their way into and out of Heathrow Airport? You are not alone. You think Gatwick might be a better option. Or Bournemouth even? You are, perhaps, a bit of a nimby. Don’t worry, that’s not only normal, it’s sometimes even laudable. Or maybe you think we shouldn’t be facilitating more flights at all, most of which probably aren’t really necessary. Well, get you and your green credentials! On the other side of the debate, who’s shouting loudest for more aircraft capacity? It’s Heathrow of course. That’ll be Heathrow Airport, the airport owned by Ferrovial of Spain, whose primary concern is (or at least should be) keeping its shareholders happy. Its priority is not protecting local jobs or supporting a community or even boosting the UK economy generally. Heathrow is a business. If building a hub airport in the Thames Estuary or on the sleepy village of Upton-upon-Dupton made better commercial sense than expanding Heathrow, they’d be all over it like a rash. If they could outsource a third runway to India, they’d be strategising it and workshopping it right now. That’s fine, and that’s why nimbys are fine too.
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