2013 saw me pootling around all over the place, with trips to the entirety of the Belgian Coast, Strasbourg, Paris, Offenberg and Gengenbach in Germany, Cornwall, Eastbourne, Liverpool, Southport and a host of other similarly glamorous destinations!
When I haven’t been out of London scoffing cream teas and trying as many different types of beer as possible I’ve been working on various bits of research and analysis and like a self-congratulatory newspaper review of the year, here comes some of the posts I’ve written that I think make for interesting reading.
I think the big thing that came out of Pootling Around this year was my realisation that the Wapping Project had been sold. When I made this chance discovery, I didn’t anticipate what was to follow. It started off as an innocuous query of “I’m a neighbour and I notice from a planning application that the building has sold, can you confirm that the Wapping Project will continue to operate” to the only email address on the Wapping Project’s website. Unfortunately whilst the sale had concluded two months earlier the staff hadn’t been told and the email address I used had informed ‘all’ the staff of the closure which I had no reason to think given a) the time that had passed since the sale; b) no announcement had been made in that period and c) the restaurant and gallery were open with a forward programme of events. I had actually assumed it was a sale and leaseback transaction to raise some cash for a project. What did happen was that I unintentionally opened a can of worms which I wish I hadn’t.
I was told by Jules Wright that my blog post has been picked up by members of the national press (but didn’t report it until a press release a few weeks later) but I got the impression from Dr Wright that the press thought I had some ulterior motive, whereas the mundane reality is I’m actually interested in the built environment and will cross the road to read a planning notice on a lamppost, something that I think is self evident from my blog and I hope most people I know in Wapping would agree.
However, if I caused undue distress I’m genuinely sorry, but anyone walking past the Wapping Project (including staff) could have seen the planning notice had they taken the time. However, in their own way, they had the last laugh. When I went to see Dr Wright to discuss the issue, I walked to the bar in the restaurant and the three members of staff behind the bar (it was empty) at first ignored me and proceeded to make themselves some drinks and when they finally acknowledged me and I asked where I could find “Dr Wright” they told me to wait in the car park. The reason? They thought I was a taxi driver. After explaining I had an appointment, I then had an uncomfortable five minutes browsing the books as audible sniggering reverberated around the restaurant.
Eventually the news came out and references were made to noise disturbances, so I put in an FOI request to the Council which suggested that the piece on the Guardian website wasn’t fully accurate (I actually made the request before the article was published). In turn Vickie at WiW picked up the baton and found more evidence that the journalist had not presented the story fairly. East London Lines did a bit more reporting that didn’t make things much clearer. I pushed the journalist on twitter about the role of the Council, but it seems that it was infact limited to one Councillor getting involved, but with the gates now shut, the Wapping Project has ended. Its Flash website taken down, it’s now just a memory.
Or it was until my partner had to break the news to someone asking for directions. Alas, we may discover a few people finding themselves on Wapping Wall and turning straight back to the Overground.
When you have a moment, enjoy a video of the first moments of the Wapping Project.
However, I’m far more proud on my research on a robbery at the Prospect of Whitby, a Tobacco theft from the docks and my thematic assessment of ‘Nappy Valley’. I hope I’ve added value to the community and gratefully receive all feedback on the blog.
What’s next in 2014
In 2014 we will have a new market to hopefully look forward to and I took a trip across the river to Brockley to see what the organisers operate over there to get an idea for what we might be able to enjoy.
On the Blog I hope to find some time to have a look in some archives subject to the cost of reproducing any materials I find. I have a few ideas at the moment, but are dependent on me getting off my arse.
One interesting project that is just starting to begin is possibly doing something on Elephant Studios which were based in Wapping and a few famous artists recorded there. I’ve been in touch with the owner and I hope he’ll be willing and able to share some memories and information about this long lost studio. (Big thanks to Andy M for giving me impetus to do some digging on this).
Other than that, I just hope to keep on pootling. Happy New Year and thank you for reading and showing support.
And now for some more highlights!
Other local issues
Pretty pictures and local walks
Odds and sods