.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
The Ragged School Blog Deptford

Friday, March 17, 2006

Common Knowledge ?

As the Remix Conference at Goldsmiths College fast approaches, a meeting which will celebrate the fruitful cooperation between various strata of grass roots activists, I thought I'd revisit the origin of this blog to explain to my readers a little bit more about my motivation. As a old Askean with multi generational roots in Bermondsey, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Brockley, Blackheath, Downham, Catford and Forest Hill, I was raised on stories about local history of the last century. Instead of going to somewhere like Goldsmiths to study art (which I had considered), I ended up leaving Haberdashers Askes to study Interior Design (which included architecture) at London Guildhall, and then University of North London, which have since both merged together to form London Metropolitan. I was very fortunate to have tutors whose commitment to social responsibility in design led to my interest in urban regeneration. Interpreting local history as a natural resource like ecology, which needs to be understood and respected is still a highly controversial topic, but at least it is no longer being monopolized by single groups, although everyone has hijacked it at various points. Being a design and architecture geek I eagerly traversed Docklands during the time the LDDC was having a whale of a time with its special powers 'remixing history and landscapes' to create the beginnings of what would become Canary Wharf mega city. In my naivety I was blinded by the optimistic literature and shiny newness to the real stories about displacement, struggles and damage to industrial archeology. I didn't even know there was such a thing as industrial archeology ! I still cant get over the thought that the new Convoys Wharf development will build itself over the site of Deptford Naval Dockyard without a serious proactive plan to take intelligent stewardship of some of the worlds most prime archeology. Just preserving the visible fabric, and making 'historic features' of them is not the same as devising a scheme to access the archeology of the site and leverage it - as the asset it is for education and tourism. You only have to look at Surrey Quays to see what happens when you make a themed shopping mall, which they have since edited. But time marches on, and the Internet is with us now, millions connected by the speed of light. Perhaps I thought, one day the dots will be joined and new sophisticated partnerships will emerge between thinkers, do-ers and imagineers and so it is beginning. No longer is the university an ivory tower, no longer is local politics the preserve of an exclusive clique. But before we convert more libraries to an Idea Store, or get swamped by anything DoubleSpeakish, consider staying indoors, logging on and accessing the worlds largest library in your living room. Furthermore why not start a blog and make pages for that library ? When I started this, I had one key idea. Deptford was under represented on the web. There was paltry visibility of its sheer wealth of common cultural inheritance, finding basic stuff is (still) surprisingly difficult. When my friend Nick and myself first approached James Stevens of SPC about possibilities for a 'Hacklab' in Deptford he suggested I create a blog, an underwhelming idea at the time (as I expressed), but he was right, I apologise. The more I looked at the problem of local visibility on the web, the more I started to realise that I would have to blog. The idea for the Ragged School Blog was to have introduced team blogging for the users of the Ragged School building whilst we awaited its fate, to simply broadcast something - a 'presence' , and thereby create a small but informative case study of DIY digital hactivism however grundgy. Then to use that as a launchpad for connecting to other community groups who evidently needed plenty of encouragement to start using the web, not just surfing it. Well of course things never follow a neat linear path, but instead I met lots fabulous people. Then Goldsmiths built that new building with the scribble sculpture on top and the expansion of studying regeneration as sociology. That's when I knew things would take a different turn. Enter Liquid Culture and I breathed a sigh of relief.


At 2:57 am, Blogger andreworford ªº said...

If you are in any doubt about what has 'survived' beneath the surface, this is quoted from English Heritage - http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/upload/pdf/changing_london_5.pdf

Convoy’s Wharf is a site of major
historic importance. Until 1869 it
was the Deptford Royal Dockyard,
established by Henry VIII in 1513.
Being the nearest Royal Dockyard to
the Admiralty, it played a significant
part in Britain’s rise to naval
supremacy.The Dockyards generally,
as major, state-capitalised
undertakings employing large skilled
labour forces, were also a key
element in the country’s development
as a leading industrial power.
Fewer buildings survive from the
Dockyard period than at, for
example, Chatham, but they include
a covered shipbuilding slipway of
circa 1847, listed grade II, and one
of an important group of structures
which pioneered long-span roof
construction before the better-known
trainshed roofs.
Archaeological survival below ground
is more extensive, including major
features such as Henry VIII’s Grand
Storehouse and the double dry dock.
The Basin, river walls, entrance locks
and mast ponds have also been
identified, as well as, just outside the
Dockyard, the location of the house
and garden of the famous 17th
century diarist John Evelyn.The
Storehouse, which survived above
ground until the 1950s, has recently
been scheduled.
Until 2000 the Wharf was operated
by News International. It is now
vacant and the Richard Rogers
Partnership is working up a
Masterplan for its redevelopment.
In discussions English Heritage has
been encouraging not only the
re-use of the significant structures
and the protection of important
archaeology, but also urging that an
understanding of the history and
archaeology should be used
creatively both as a stimulus to the
design process and in creating a new
community on the site with a distinct
sense of place.


Post a Comment

<< Home