Murky Depths

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Charlton, Greenwich

Network Rail confirm closure of Charlton rail crossing

Network Rail have confirmed closure of a 170 year old foot crossing across the Angerstein branch line between Charlton and Westcombe Park station. There will be no replacement tunnel or bridge.

They stated closure in a reply to a local resident and a handwritten note has also been put up announcing permanent closure in just four days time.

Courtesy @JoBrodie

Under the guise of safety, pedestrians will now have to divert via the polluted Woolwich Road. It will impact upon long existing residents as well as around 800 people who live on a new development near the crossing plus around the same number who will move into 341 flats currently being built alongside.

Red = New developments. Blue = Current route to station. Orange = future route

It’s all very last minute. What’s the motivation to do it so quickly, and why wasn’t it publicised until the closure was almost upon us?

Network Rail state it is not a public right of way – though being in use for 170 years could set a precedent according to some. It was originally built between farmland. In the 1960s when the A102 Blackwall approach road was built a new footbridge over the road was constructed which meets the crossing:

Footbridge from Westcome Park to crossing

The bridge leads here:

Railings from 1960s bridge in foreground

Other steps lead down to street level:

1960s bridge seen again

Greenwich Council are looking into the legality of closing the crossing given its continuous use for so many years. Have alternative measures been analysed such as gates? Staff already appear on site to keep watch when the daily train arrives. Perhaps it’s that cost they want to eliminate?

Updates soon.

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19 Comments

  1. Charles Calthrop

    Handwritten? You’d imagine they’d find a sheet of letterhead and type it out. It has all the hallmarks of a prank though Network Rail are third-rate jokers so it might be them after all. In any case wouldn’t the local residents need to be notified about noise or such?

  2. Chris Nash

    This comes just over a month after public transport bod Geoff Marshall featured the crossing on his YouTube channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iYlBiGMJyU

    I wonder if someone at Network Rail saw the video and decided to take action?

  3. oldgreenwichboy

    When I used to work at Johnson & Phillips back in the 1960’s I used to get off the bus in Westcombe Hill and walk over that crossing and into work. Very sad to see it go.
    It was also featured last December in Hugh Neal’s blog ‘Arthur Pewty’s maggot sandwich’ with a video clip and a bit of it’s history. Seems too much of a coincidence.
    http://arthurpewtysmaggotsandwich.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2018-12-23T12:30:00Z&max-results=1&start=15&by-date=false

  4. Philip Archer

    I just got this from the council:
    “We have not found evidence that Network Rail have compiled with the necessary formalities for stopping up part of the public highway. According we will be writing to them today requesting evidence of compliance and that they put their proposals on hold until they provide such evidence. I will keep you updated.”

    Im going to pop to the crossing on Saturday morning to make sure Network Rail don’t try and knock anything down. Maybe see some of you there.
    Stephen Brian and the council have been excellent on this I have to say.

  5. Celine Ait

    That would be so very annoying if this is true. I can’t find anything on networkrail.co.uk though. Could this be a hoax? Have you actually had confirmation from the Council? I use that crossing several times a day on the school runs and was so happy not to have to use busy roads when taking my boy. That will clearly be a big change for the local community 😦

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Letters have been sent out stating closure and confirmed by Network Rail staff

    • Ben

      Hi Celine, definitely not a hoax sadly. They’ve responded to my query and it’s definitely still happening.

  6. I don’t use it myself but know people who do. How annoying is this? Can Network Rail just do something like this out of the blue? No consultation with users? No consultation with the council? There is something odd going on here, even if it is just straightforward arrogance or incompetence.

  7. bob

    Well apparently the head doesn’t know what the arms are doing, there’s a letter on a lamppost on Fairthorn Road which says that it’s only closed Saturday 13th- Sunday 21st: http://imgur.com/PEzgaeS

    • Rory

      I read this as the 13th-21st being the duration of disruption/works with the end result being the closure/removal of the crossing.

  8. Rory

    I could have sworn I read somewhere this was protected in some way? Or at least was a candidate for protection.

    • I don’t know if it’s protected but the crossing was added to Greenwich’s heritage list in January so it seems odd that two months later it’s being demolished (boo hiss) https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/downloads/file/10/royal_greenwich_local_heritage_list_updated_march_2019

      From the PDF (p28 of 151)

      Angerstein Freight Railway, SE7
      Crossing & Walkway between Fairthorn & Farmdale Rd
      • AGE AND HISTORY: Railway and crossing built by local landowner John Julius Angerstein in 1852. Crossing erected for the benefit of Combe farm workers as a cut through to avoid Woolwich Road
      • DESIGN: Pedestrian crossing over single-track railway line accessed from the east via an arched walkway beneath the terraced housing and a raised walkway between back gardens
      • MATERIALS: Stone, timber and brick
      • FEATURES: Arched opening beneath dwelling house
      • DEGREE OF ALTERATION: steps have been upgraded
      • SIGNIFICANCE Rare survival of a historic pedestrian route over a freight railway, still in regular use by residents for its original purpose – to avoid Woolwich Road – and as a route to Westcombe Park station. Railway also still in regular use for transport of aggregates around London
      • QUALIFYING CRITERIA: Historic Interest, Environmental Significance: i) characterful, time-honoured locally valued feature feature

  9. Bob – I read that as saying after the configuration works have finished it will mean freight trains will now stop and block the crossing, therefore they are closing the crossing permanently. They are demolishing the steps the notice says.

    The odd thing is, if you look at Geoff’s YT piece on the crossing a freight train stops on the crossing anyway. So what’s new?

  10. bob

    A letter on a lamppost at Fairthorn Road says it will only be closed Saturday 13th-Sunday 21st April http://imgur.com/PEzgaeS

    • Ned

      Bob – the full text of the letter makes clear that this is permanent, It’s the resignalling works that will lead to the permanent closure taking place from 13th to 21st. The letter is curiously dated 2017… We may be in Hitch Hikers Guide territory here where the plans were displayed in a basement behind a locked door saying ‘Beware of the leopard’.

      Anyone flagged this to Geoff Marshall?

  11. James

    This is terrible. I use this crossing every week to get to the shops and have had no notification until Matthew Pennycook tweeted about it today: https://twitter.com/mtpennycook/status/1115922951428288512. Normally I’d have expected a letter at minimum, plus an opportunity to contest the suggestion – time to protest!

  12. Gavin

    Well done to Matthew Pennycook for responding so promptly and in such detail. His letter covers all the points of substance and directly addresses the bogus safety reasoning of Network Rail. If more of us can write to John Halsall (address details on MP’s letter) to add our voice we can hopefully demonstrate that this proposed closure is unacceptable to substantial numbers of people.

  13. Dan

    Hopefully be formally confirmed later but have heard that this work will be postponed and reconsidered.

    This is not to say it won’t eventually go ahead but it won’t be this weekend and Network Rail will revisit how they made the decision and see if they can save the footpath whilst completing the upgrade work. Hearing there might be a big increase in trains using this track after the work completed.

    Network Rail are in listening mode though so make sure you keep writing to them to keep the pressure on to find a way to save this foot path.

  14. Gavin

    Apparently there has been a reprieve – see the latest story on the Charlton Champion:
    https://charltonchampion.co.uk/2019/04/11/threatened-angerstein-wharf-foot-crossing-gets-temporary-reprieve/?unapproved=36941&moderation-hash=92e66f33b09ec70dd93af2eb650e8283#comment-36941
    I would be happier if the spokesperson mentioned had a name, otherwise it feels a bit deniable should events play out differently.

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