Hither Green (SE13)
|S side of: Hither Green Lane (at junction with Woodlands Street)|
|Distance (S) from Greenwich|
|OS map details||OS Explorer: 161 or 162|
|OS grid ref||TQ 38971.74035|
|WGS84 lat/long||51.448257, -0.001527|
|Type||Ground (line) | Sculpture|
|Marking date||20 Apr 2007|
|22 Oct 2015||27 Oct 2012||21 Aug 2011||29 Mar 2009||02 Mar 2008||18 Nov 2007||08 Jul 2007||19 May 2007||29 Apr 2007||20 Apr 2007||14 Apr 2007||07 Apr 2007||31 Mar 2007||25 Mar 2007||05 Feb 2006|
Redevelopment of the former Hither Green Hospital site began in the 1990s. At the meeting of Lewisham’s strategic planning Committee on 11 March 2003, it was resolved that officers be authorised to negotiate with the developers of the southern part of the site (Bellway plc), a satisfactory Section 106 Agreement to secure the provision of ‘public art at a minimum cost of £10,000 to £15,000 to signify the prime meridian’.
Bellway commissioned local artist Stephen Lewis, whose original proposal for a large stainless steel loop is said to have been rejected by planners on health and safety grounds, because of its proximity to the public highway. Lewis subsequently worked up designs for a series of plaques, each to be carried on some sort of plinth perhaps in the form of a cutaway globe. The planners were unhappy with this too, so in the end agreement was reached to mount the plaques flush with the ground. Preparatory work for their installation began in early 2007. They were unveiled before an invited audience on 20 April by the Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock. Amongst the guests was Graham Dolan from the Royal Observatory Greenwich, who gave a short speech about the history and marking of the Meridian.
The seven small plaques depicting locations on the Meridian and a larger one showing a map of the UK were set under acrylic in order to protect them. It was apparent from the start that this would cause problems not only because the acrylic was likely to become rapidly scratched, but also, because water was likely to become trapped and cause corrosion. This is exactly what happened … and with almost immediate effect. Following the theft of seven of the eight plaques in 2008, the estate management company started discussions with Lewis about replacing them. In the meantime, their places were taken by pieces of plywood which deteriorated over time. The discussions with Lewis appear to have been unfruitful. Eventually, with the plywood inserts becoming a trip hazard, between August 2011 and October 2012, the final plaque was either removed or stolen and the eight plaque holders filled with tarmac and pebbled over. To see the plaques at their best, the 20 April 2007 image set needs to be viewed.