I'd love to know how much money is in the kitty now; millions and millions, I'm sure. But where will they find the land even in Peckham to build all these council houses? But there is already a thread for this discussion. Back to the Tin Factory and other similar, future planning applications. I think we need to organise a team of people who are prepared to do a weekly 'watch' for each Ward.
I write to you in regards to the Wyatt & Co Tin Box Factory on 71 Tanner Street in Bermondsey.
In your capacity as Director of Solum Regeneration (Network Rail and Kiergroup) you have made a decision to demolish the 143-year old tin box factory on 71 Tanner Street rather than restore and renovate it for future generations as has been done so successfully with many other old buildings in the conservation area next door on Bermondsey Street.
Words starting with “re” usually stand for something positive such as rebirth, refresh, recharge and so on. I am gutted regeneration in this case stands for obliteration of past generations as the tin box factory will turn to dust in the next two months. Demolition has begun and it is my understanding is to be completed by 12 December 2015.
I never applied to try to have this building listed as it never even crossed my mind it would be demolished. Very naïve of me I know but it just never crossed my mind and hindsight is a wonderful thing.
As you know, the tin box factory was built in 1872. That is 143 years ago. I would like to ask you and everyone reading this to take a moment to think about how long 143 years are for us human beings.
And what exactly goes on in the World, in England and in London in 1872?
1872 is a leap year and starts on a Monday according to the Gregorian Calender… the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens in New York to great acclaim, the Australian Overland Telegraph Line is completed, Queen Victoria has been Queen of England for 35 years and is still 4 years away from having the title Empress, the H.M.S. Challenger sails from Portsmouth and will come back four years later with the crew having discovered 4,700 new species of marine life and laying the foundation for Oceanography, future philosopher and Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russel as well as composer Ralph Vaughn Williams are born, the stocks are used for the last time as physical punishment in England, the Albert Memorial opens having taken 10 years to build, one third of poor families in Britain are without a breadwinner so children work 60 hour weeks if they are aged 9 or over to support their families, Charles Darwin publishes Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals and the first ever FA Cup final is played between Wanderers F.C. and Royal Engineers A.F.C. on 16 March and the match takes place at The Oval in Kennington.
I wonder if any of the men who built the factory went to that very football match? It is very possible.
And what is yet to come?
Jack the Ripper is still to terrorize the East End, not even 60% of men over 21 are allowed to vote in England, the child labour age is raised to 12 (1901), electric light is still to be invented, the Boer Wars are still to be fought, the first public railway is yet to open… it really is a long time ago. Not to mention WWI and WWII and the Blitz… the tin box factory survived the Blitz. Quite amazing isn’t it considering the Luftwaffe dropped 1651 bombs over Southwark.
I noted in the minutes from the meetings between Solum Regeneration and Southwark Council Planning Committee nothing of historical merit was found. Local historian Stephen Humphrey kindly looked into the history of the building for me and meanwhile there was sadly no famous architect involved, Wyatt & Co can be traced back to as early as 1837 to Tabard Street, New Kent Road and Globe Street before moving to Tanner Street.
After moving to Tanner Street Wyatt & Co were awarded large contracts by the British Government to support British soldiers involved in the Boer wars with equipment for food and drink. A matter of survival.
I mention this as a memorial for the fallen British soldiers in the Boer Wars has just been restored in the beautiful St James of Bermondsey where I am fortunate to spend every Tuesday evening rehearsing with my community choir. I attended the unveiling last Friday of a new statue depicting local WWI hero Albert McKenzie who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery. Yet this building from 1872 is going to be erased to the ground without much further ado. Why not save it?
As you know I started a petition to try to save the tin box factory and around 800 people signed the petition online and offline. One of the most moving signatures was from a man who was of the third generation in his family to work in the tin box factory. Every signature generated an email sent to Solum Regeneration as well as Southwark Council.
The people who signed the petition are real people. Many of them were “born and bred in Bermondsey”, many of them have moved here from other parts of Britain and some are like me foreigners (I’m Swedish) and have fallen in love with the place. Easily done.
I don’t even live on Tanner Street but I do live in the same ward, Grange Ward and I care deeply about my adopted community and what I can see happening all around Bermondsey is simply heart breaking. Money speaks so loudly and what we, the people of Bermondsey think or feel, simply doesn't count.
I wish you could see the factory the way I see it Kevin. I wish you could see the beauty and potential. Wouldn’t the planned retail space on the ground floor be amazing if the façade was incorporated? I know I'd rather go into a place with some history...
I asked several people on Sunday when I visited Maltby Street Market if they thought the tarpaulin that has been erected around the tin box factory was for demolition or for renovation purposes, all of them said renovation. When I told them it was for demolition purposes, they were shocked. And rightly so.
It is still not too late. You Kevin and your colleagues can still save the factory. You have the power in your hands to keep a small part of industrial Bermondsey alive for future generations. Even if it is just the façade. Please be the first developer to do something brave for the community.
Kristina, as you know, I'm right behind you, but I think contacting Kier is pointless as they've got their planning permission and aren't about to change their plans. All the same I admire your determination.
I walked past the empty site today and thought again how ironic the old factory sign in the tunnel was listed but not the actual factory. It's such a shame. Is that a planning application as per previous post in December above? If so it looks anonymous, dull and just plain boring.
What happened to the first planning application by the way? I thought it was going to be all flats.