The was mild panic on Christmas morning across a swathe of South West London (and yes, that includes Twickenham) after a water pump failed at Thames Water’s Hampton works leaving thousands of homes with no water. Here at twickerati HQ the pressure dropped to a level that there was just a trickle from the kitchen tap. For others in TW1 and TW2 there was no water whatsoever. Not ideal, especially on Christmas Day. And what does one do in a situation like that? One takes to Twitter of course! Plenty of questions were being asked about when the service would be restored but also about whether it was possible to cook sprouts in wine and drink only alcohol for the day. The White Swan were quick to point out that although they had no water they did have plenty of booze.
For those attempting to cook Christmas dinner there was there great debate about whether to press on or postpone. Even at twickerati HQ the monumental step was taken to defer the arrival of 12 guests for an hour and a half as we waited for updates from Thames Water…. so there are always some positives to come out of situations of adversity.
After a few hours the problem was fixed, water was restored and thousands realised how reliant we all are on seemingly simple things like having water on tap (literally). But how was it for you?
Some tap water: in happier times
In January we did something of a bumper High Street Update as it had been many months since our last shops-related confession. But that was January and this is now and there’s more to tell. Things have happened. In telling you this tale we’re going to go with the theme of brevity and we hope you’re going to buy into it because we really need you with us on this journey. Let us begin…
Food Sanctuary, new on York Street
Marc Jason’s Shoeworld, purveyors of cheap footwear to the TWs is closing down. To be fair, with its endless sales and discount banners it has always looked as if it’s been on the brink of closing but the words ‘closing down’ in the window do seem to be a big, big clue as to its current state. We don’t know if Marc Jason has other ‘worlds’ beyond Shoeworld but it does seem to be the end of the line for this particular Heath Road outlet. The shop has lasted longer than you might think although we do say this without any insights as to how your brain actually works. So, how long do you think it’s been open? Two years? Three? And the answer is…. almost four and a half years. Plenty of other places have come and gone in that time. Continue reading
There’s bad news on the local jobs and business front today. Greggs, purveyors of bread, pies and pasties to the nation, has announced that it is to close three of its UK bakeries as part of a corporate re-organisation. The three facing closure are in Edinburgh, Lincolnshire and in Gould Road right here in Twickenham. The company expects to lose 355 jobs as part of the process which is designed to shift focus away from being a traditional baker and more towards selling ‘food-on-the-go’ products. Yes, and these can even include salads. At the same time, the company has said it intends to upgrade its Enfield bakery in north London.
What does this all mean for the large Greggs site tucked away in the side streets between the Green and the River Crane? It’s too early to speculate… but we will anyway. Would a business of similar scale move in there? Seems unlikely so perhaps it’s time to start a book on whether it gets divided up into industrial units, turned into a school or, let’s hazard a wild guess here, gets snapped up for extensive residential development.
So, no more bakery trucks clattering through the narrow roads but it’s bad news for business, bad news for jobs and bad news for those who enjoy the smell of doughnuts wafting through the TW2 evening air.
Greggs Bakery, Gould Road, Twickenham
* BBC News
There’s growing concern locally about the recent Ministry of Defence announcement of plans to sell Kneller Hall. The sale of the Hall in Whitton will form part of wider MoD property strategy to raise funds and plug funding gaps. It is sure to have developers rubbing their hands at the prospect of acquiring the listed building and its adjoining land. Kneller Hall is home to the Royal Military School of Music and has been home to Army bands since it was taken on by the War Office in 1857. The prospect of breaking that 150 year link and seeing the listed building pass into private ownership has met with strong opposition from local people, local councillors of both the blue and yellow persuasion and Twickenham MP Tania Mathias.
Dr Mathias has said she was ‘dismayed’ to hear the announcement of the plans and that she will be fighting against them. She has asked to meet with ministers to try to persuade them to reverse the decision. Meanwhile Council Leader Nick True, aka the Blue Baron, has got himself into ‘slamming mode’ once again. In an El Brute press release he says, “This is a decision which the people of Twickenham and Richmond-upon-Thames Council will seek to resist in any way possible… Kneller Hall is an important piece of not just local, but national cultural and military heritage. It should not be tossed away to please junior accounting clerks in the Treasury with no understanding of the place of military music in London’s life and our nation’s military history.” Wallop! ‘Ave it! In your faces ‘Junior accounting clerks in the Treasury’, you have been warned!
An online petition has been set up to try to save the Kneller Hall from being sold off. To be continued…
* Save Kneller Hall Facebook
* Online Petition
* Richmond Council page
* Tania Mathias MP page
* Kneller Hall – Army site
* Kneller Hall – wikipedia
Extract of design from LBRuT website
Arguments over the plans for Twickenham riverside rumble on as LBRuT’s 11th December deadline for feedback fast approaches. The idea for the newly purchased site running down Water Lane from King Street to the river hasn’t met with universal approval. OK, forget universal approval, it doesn’t even seem to have met with widespread Twickenham approval. We recently ran a simple 24 hour poll on Twitter. It read: “What’s your view on LBRuT’s new design concept for the Twickenham Riverside development?” and it offered a choice of two options:
(a) Broadly right
(b) Simply wrong
121 voted, not a large sample we’ll admit and not a very scientific poll but the results were:
(a) Broadly right 37%
(b) Simply wrong 63%
Interesting. Comments on other social media platforms tell a similar story. The Richmond & Twickenham Times ran their own poll and managed to find a few more people in favour, but not too many more.
King St / Water Lane
There’s no local issue guaranteed to get Twickenham people all fired up quite like the fate of the old swimming pool site by the river. Apart from Heathrow expansion, the RFU, the Gloriana boathouse debacle, schools, cycle lanes and traffic that is, but let’s put them to one side for a second.
When it comes to the saga of the old Twickenham Baths site, or more specifically the piece of land running from Water Lane down to Embankment then this week is an important one. It’s time for the big reveal. Woohoo! This is the week when you get to see LBRuT’s plans for a town square (and other stuff) which will, so we are told, ‘give a focus to the town’ and help open up the space between King Street and Twickenham’s greatest asset. And by ‘greatest asset’ we don’t mean the twickerati ice cream van or even that giant pink rugby ball, we mean the riverside. The concept being promoted by El Brute is a ‘regency style’ development complete with covered arcade, colonnade and amphitheatre. Well, at least we can say that there’s not a lot of that in Twickenham town centre at the moment. Continue reading
Good news for all those people (i.e. pretty much most of Twickenham) who were angered by the volume of rubbish in the streets after last May’s Marriot London 7s tournament at the rugby stadium. The fancy dress themed rugby party left a trail of litter and discarded alien outfits across the town centre. The RFU have responded to complaints from residents and discussions with the El Brute to scale back next year’s event. The plan?
* Attendance will be capped at 35,000 per day, a lower level than before.
* Stadium bars will have restricted opening and the police will have ‘dispersal power’ around the stadium and in the town centre.
* The RFU and LBRuT will work together on a ‘comprehensive street cleaning and toilet plan’.
* The fancy dress theme will be dropped in favour of a more family friendly approach.
Letter from RFU
[Click on the pic to enlarge it.]
In the ‘Dear neighbour’ letter the RFU say they take their relationship with the local community ‘very seriously’. Comments or questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
So, positive steps it would seem and all those stag do’s will have to look elsewhere for their drinking session in the sun next May. A victim of its own ‘success’ perhaps?
* Twickerati pics from May’s Marriot London 7s
It’s nearly here! After all the talking up, talking down, excitement, dread and indifference (delete as appropriate) the Rugby World Cup kicks off in two week’s time when England take on Fiji. Over the six weeks of the tournament Twickenham will host ten matches from that opening Fiji game on Friday 18th September through to the final on Saturday October 31st. Three of the weekends even have two matches in them. In other words, it’s going to be busy. An England v France warm up ‘test event’ took place recently (featuring extra road closures and pubs being asked to restrict post-match admissions) and another is planned for 5th September when England play Ireland. Basically, Twickenham is now officially in Rugby World Cup mode.
So folks, prepare yourself for rugby fans from around the world descending on Twickenham and not only on match days but across the whole tournament. You might even spot the odd player too as South Africa and the All Blacks will be setting up camp at St Mary’s University and the Lensbury respectively. And even if you don’t see the players you will probably be confronted by some very big coaches on the mean streets of ‘Nam. We mean coaches of the vehicular kind not the bull-necked, vein-busting, overly-shouty kind obviously. Put simply, love it or loathe it, for the next couple of months you’re unlikely to be able to avoid the Rugby World Cup. Continue reading
It’s not been long since we last talked about the Twickenham Action Plan (aka the TWAP) or about bikes for that matter. But as we begin to see a few signs that the road and pavement works in Twickenham may actually come to an end at some point this spring (or perhaps summer, but definitely, 100% definitely before the Rugby World Cup) we thought we’d take look at the brand new road surface and cycle lanes. The result? Confusion. Confusion for us, confusion for cyclists and, quite possibly, confusion for drivers.
Advance cycle stop markings at junctions? Nothing says ‘stop your car here’ quite like a massive bicycle painted on the road, or so it seems. Some education is required.
Cycle lanes? We’ve got yes, no and maybe. All at the same time. It’s a very mixed picture.
We all know that the sheer volume of traffic through Twickenham means finding a solution that suits, cars, cyclists and pretty much anyone else is always going to be tricky but here at twickerati HQ we can’t help but feel that bike lanes that appear, disappear then re-appear will make life confusing for all.
Most troubling is the north side of King Street heading towards Richmond. Cars coming from Cross Deep are in two lanes as they turn right into King Street. Cars coming from Heath Road are also in two lanes (bus stop and regular M&S deliveries permitting). But King Street now has a cycle lane marked out and the road simply isn’t wide enough for two lanes and the cycle lane. Should cars merge into a single lane? Dunno. Should cars drive in the bike lane? Perhaps. Should they try to do both? And what is supposed to happen when the road narrows to barely two lanes at the York Street / London Road junction. It’s unclear. Apart from giving a general indication that there might be cyclists around, these bike lane markings make things ambiguous for drivers as well as cyclists and that doesn’t seem like a good recipe for a safe and sensible approach. Maybe there’s still time for an early rethink or at least some clearer signs and a bit of education?
That’s our view as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian and bus passenger. What’s yours?
London Road – advance cycle stop
Arragon Road advance cycle stop
One lane or two, vicar?
Two lanes plus bikes?
A brief video clip
UPDATE: On May 11th @LBRUT responded to a question on Twitter about the lanes in King Street from @CindyCroucher. The LBRuT response was, “It operates as a single lane for most of the time, with an advisory cycle lane marked on the nearside… During peak periods traffic can travel in two lanes by over-running the cycle lane if not in use.”
To us that just sounds like usual road use, i.e. if there’s a cyclist in the left hand lane, try not to run him/her over. Perhaps that’s the ‘advice’ bit in the ‘advisory cycle lane’?