Southwark Council has decided that the original retaining wall of Glengall Wharf should be replaced with a concrete block barrier similar to those used on motorway embankments. Flowers and plants in the gaps will look ‘nice’, but effectively erase any idea of a canal bank.
The existing wall is certainly not pretty, but it’s a major piece of industrial archaeology from the days when the canal ran alongside and turned down towards Peckham. Apart from the small low concrete ledge in the grass oppposite, it’s the only piece of original canal bank left on the entire three and a half mile length of the Grand Surrey Canal. It features in numerous historic photos of the area.
In this image, you can see the black painted wall with timber fenders attached part way down. In the present-day image above and below, the black painting is still visible, with plain concrete below, where the fenders had been attached.
It’s also still possible to see large stone blocks embedded in the wall, if you take a walk today. These were the footings of the large loading chutes visible in the historic image. There are 12 visible on the Peckham route, corresponding to the 6 loading chutes which were on that side of Glengall Wharf.
It seems a great shame to bury almost the last signs of industrial canal heritage for the sake of a tidy-up.
To celebrate the completion of our project we invited everyone who had been involved to come along for the grand “reveal” of the underpass installation and the launch of the heritage trail.
We had stalls and activities aimed at children as well as the promenade walk along the heritage trail.
We were delighted that children who had taken part in the schools story-telling project and the Art in the Park workshops came along as well as people who had helped to make the heritage trail.
We estimate about 300 came along and took part in the launch activities: children’s races, flag making, brick making, popcorn and lemonade stall and heritage stall displaying more materials. Plus, there were more people who stopped to examine our pop-up map exhibition hanging in the trees.
Thank you so much to everyone who took part. We couldn’t have completed this project without your enthusiasm, energy and expertise. Well done to all.
Local children took part in researching the industrial history that took place in and around the Grand Surrey Canal which once ran through what is now part of Burgess Park. Their ideas and endeavours will result in an art installation in the underpass in the park with the help of local artists’ group ‘Art in the Park’.
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