FANTASY, FACT AND FERTILISER

We are used to seeing film makers in Greenwich – but this has gone on for a long time, and in the 1980s – as SEGAS Standard said “ANYONE visiting the disused East Greenwich gas works recently could easily have thought they had inadvertently stepped into a fantasy world.sulphate house construction ad

The building where all this was happening was the only building (apart from the gasholder) which was not demolished and cleared away with the rest of the gas works.   And if you went down Riverway – opposite the Pilot “One day you might see the distinctive figure of David Bowie performing his latest single. On another it might be Dempsey and Makepeace playing with explosives and fast cars. Or the majestic figure of Sean Connery, resplendent in period costume of crimson velvet, might stride out of the  gloom“.

Well. I never saw any of them, but there was always something going on for those of us who braved the hole in the fence

SEGAS Standard went on ‘The film, TV and video industry have realised in recent months that they have a unique site right on their doorsteps which combines vast acres of space, a ready made film studio, and almost total privacy.  The part of the works most popular with the film companies is the old sulphate of ammonia building – a vast concrete barn of a structure built in the 1950s to house 10,000 tons of fertiliser, it was the biggest building of its kind in the south of England’.

And it attracted the biggest star of the day

“when Sean Connery was on location at the site a few weeks ago the interior had been transformed into a medieval castle so realistic it was not hard to imagine the castle had been built first and the parabolic ceiling added later. Connery’s film, called Highlander, also starred Christopher Lambert fresh from his role as Tarzan in Greystoke, Lord of the Jungle. It’s a swashbuckling adventure with Connery and Lambert playing immortals locked in a power struggle spanning four centuries,

sulphate house 3and also

“Another spectacular set was built by an advertising company as a backdrop for a series of promotional pictures about Chrysler’s newest high performance car, the Laser.  The music business is in on the act too with former Yazoo singer Vince Clerk following in Bowie’s footsteps for a video promo.  Fashion photographers are also attracted by the atmosphere of the site, and the photos for the Miss Selfridge Autumn Collection were shot at East Greenwich”

Not sure I’ve ever heard of the Laser

Anyway the late 1990s as the Millennium Dome was planned, and as the word ‘listing’ was mentioned in relation to the sulphate house British Gas knocked it down fast, saying it was being used for illegal raves.  So disappeared one of the most interesting and dramatic buildings in the Borough

Return to Phoenix Works

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