Obituary: Owen Bryce

By chance today I learnt of the death of Owen Bryce at the age of 95. Woolwich should be proud of Owen, not just because he was a shopkeeper here but because he was one of the people who started revivalist jazz in Britain. ‘Trad jazz’ – played by a group of lads from Woolwich in wartime Barnehurst.

We don’t hear much about ‘trad’ these days. The history of popular music tends to be written in terms only of rock and roll – but, for the discerning teenager in the late 1950s, ‘trad’ was what it was all about. We knew about Owen Bryce, same way that we knew about Chris Barber, Terry Lightfoot and people like that – and we knew Owen had been one of the first. We rather looked down on any band that became too popular. [Read more…]

Who is writing and recording Greenwich’s history?

In the name of historical accuracy I have just been tangling with how to make a comment on a Wikipedia page – on one hand its all lovey hippy Californiarey and the other hand its impossible. So I thought I would stick with Rob and write something about current historical writing in Greenwich.

Now I am very aware that there are a lot of us at it –every day I see on twitter something someone had published or brought out about our area. Some of it looks a bit dire – and most of it I will never really see. Review copies no longer seem to be around. If it is industrial in nature I do try and track it down and give it a write up on the GIHS blog – but that is sometimes pretty hard work. [Read more…]

Gasholder Trumps

Last week I went to a conference on gasholders.  I have been researching gas industry history for many, many years and we have a large and important (and probably doomed) holder just down the road. I used to sit at Council meetings with a little paper model of a gas holder on my desk – the only person who noticed it was Chris Roberts (and he laughed, he did, honestly).

The conference was organised by the Institution of Gas Engineers — and the industry is one that doesn’t really recognise people who don’t work for it (never has) but they did allow specialist historians like me to go. But they did get us all to stand up at the start so we could be identified as the aliens among them.

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I want to talk about the Greenwich riverside…

I really want to talk about the Greenwich riverside, and perhaps about the industrial past – but, before that to say ‘thank you’ to Rob for this slot, and that it is flattering to be asked to write next after Denise – and of course to wish her the best of luck in her new role in the future.

I should also mention the experience of having been a local councillor – I could write so much on that – and also to say that I know how many desperate issues there are to be addressed in our area.  Most of them – tunnels, supermarkets, roads, housing  – are things taking place because of the development process and – sadly – they are really too much for one old lady ex-councillor to take on.  I’m happy to support other people. But don’t think that because I haven’t mentioned them here that I don’t know or care about them.

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