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The Ragged School Blog Deptford

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Boundless antenna

I have been holding back posting for a while until the Ragged School gets reconnected to the internet with the Boundless network which needs a 20ft pole. I wanted to pause and reflect on the nature of this blog. I am only the first blogger to get posting to this site before other users and friends of the school start. I thought I'd start it as I did, to create a sense of place. I hope most will be made of the cross pollination between freestyle community projects, creative self resourcing and online action.

Monday, April 18, 2005

History in the wwwrubble

I can never get over the fact that buildings (like this Ragged School) are threatened with demolition and that with so much going on in the world, its hard to go on about it when so much else needs fixing. I think the saddest part of a demolition is the last few days when its remaining contents are also going to be mixed into the rubble which will be sent to landfill. There was a BBC series called The Reclaimers which showed architectural salvage crews getting sometimes just 24 hrs to remove valuable interior fittings at low or no cost. Usually they had been contacted by the demolition contractors who were at liberty to dispose of any valuable assets in this random and roughshod offer. If you didnt get that art deco ceiling, its dust by dawn. Then I came across this striking webpage about a very similar situation concerning saving documents - valuable to historians at the late Deptford Power Station. The site is now a 'luxury' apartment block. There is no memorial outside to Sebastian de Ferranti and the Worlds first high voltage generation station, although the new park opposite the Laban has been named Ferranti Park as a result of a competition to find a name. Interestingly there is a statue of Peter The Great and his dwarf commemorating his visit to the Naval Dockyard and Sayes Court, but it displaces a suitable monument to Ferranti and the power station workers.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Locative Media

One of the most notable features of Deptford is that its history is mostly invisible. Of course there are some lovely buildings left, but only a very few. What was not bombed in the war is under threat from modern day development. My favourite is the Shipwrights Palace, which I will be posting about in the future. Until they get a website proper here is one of the few pages about it on the net, an "expired" page which has been archived using the indispensible Way Back Machine. I find the treasure hunt of tracking down information on the net can sometimes be more like an archeology trip or a ghost hunt. If we could actually walk around Deptford with a locative aware device, what sort of information could be stored and shared ? So called Locative Media is becoming a serious discipline in its own right. I hope that one of the features of this blog will be the chance to become a hub for the many cross disciplinary artists who are currently investigating the subject. Whilst combing the google results for Deptford, I found this interesting project which looks at subverting the traditional guided tour by involving the users in its creation.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Media For All - ICT suite and TV studio

"Media for All is a TV training centre located in a Peabody Trust community centre surrounded by community housing. They have only recently opened their training facility which consists of sound studios, ICT suite and television studio that will service Hackney, Westminster and Lewisham borough commuunity TV training projects and central resource for a range of cultural and minority programme makers. they have a mobile broadcast unit and close relationships with the Albany Theatre."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Photos of Deptford

Found this on Flickr which is a photoblogging system using tags to organise categories. The photos were uploaded by different people and show off a system which makes it easier for someone looking for (or depositing) information about Deptford. I hope we can use this blog here to explore how such systems can be exploited by the various projects in Deptford to congeal a sense of locality through this online medium.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Thankyou and history part 1

Before we start posting in earnest, a big shout out to Transpontine and Casino Avenue whose South East London blogging has lifted my spirits and encouraged me to establish The Ragged School Blog here. I read your blogs on and off and its been a great morale boost to see SE London, especially Deptford represented with lively interest. Also thankyou to everyone who spoke to me informally across Deptford about the local scene and got me up to speed about community issues, history and so on. In a future post I will review my findings and relate the story how my friend Nick and Myself became interested in Deptford after finding out about Hacklab and wanted to see if we could create a 'mobile hacklab' in Deptford. We approached James Stevens of Deckspace with our first thoughts and he directed us to the now defunct Use your Loaf and has been a great source of help. Little is represented online about The Ragged School which was once called The Princess Louise Institute. Here is an old page which I did find using the old name for the building. The day I discovered the building, door wide open, I walked in off the street and spoke to the then resident Mark Pavey of the Open Arts Platform (who have since relocated to The Seager Distillery). We spoke about the buildings uncertain future, and thats when I made my mind up to start the Hacklab idea by briefing the users of the Ragged School about a possible intervention using communications technology. We had already seen how Borthwick wharf was threatened with demolition and how the community was slow to mobilize (as details about planning applications and knowledge of whats at stake for the community cannot be campained on by just the small handfulls of dedicated and knowledgable individuals that do exist - they need our help, your help !) We need to support those active in the community to create grass roots awareness about the remaining tangible fragments of Deptford astonishing Social History (like this Ragged School), and empower ourselves to prevent opportunities being missed, history destroyed. I personally would like to establish and early warning system to alert the community to any heritage/ecology or social inclusion 'events' which need to be looked at not just by the council, but all the community. My positive experience with Boundless spurred me on, especially seeing the Internet connection at the Ragged School, a true example of how the wireless community infastructure can open up opportunities. Users of The Ragged School in situ will use the Boundless link to update this blog.


Its time to get The Ragged School in Deptford a place on the net and create an exciting social experiment to demonstrate how the local community can use technology to make things happen. My name is Andrew Orford and Im going to help show how any community based organisation whith a low budget can get the most out of the Internet as an outreach tool. I hope this specific blog will demonstrate team blogging as a method to interact with other South East London bloggers and organisations. Please link to the main page as soon as possible to help other people searching online for Deptford to discover this 'hub'. We will be delivering community based news and narrating the technology enabling of Deptford. People who use the The Ragged School will also be able to advertise what is going on. Deptford has an exciting cluster of innovative social and creative projects which we will report on.