This blog doesn't restrict anyone from posting anonymously because we want to keep it as easy as possible for people to have their say. If you feel more comfortable posting anonymously, for whatever reason, then fair enough. However, threads with lots of comments on can become quite confusing if too many people choose to post without giving a name - it's not clear who people are agreeing or disagreeing with. So please use a name if you can - even a made-up one will do.
Thanks - and thanks for all the messages - they're very entertaining and informative.
Jam Circus has discovered flavours other than salty, since our last visit.
We went there this weekend and had the tuna steak and haloumi skewers. Both were delicious and neither was drenched in brine - despite the risk inherent in both choices. The waitress was really friendly too and the comfy chairs by the sliding doors are a lovely place to while away a couple of hours on a sunny day.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 30.7.07
Brockley resident Richard Elliot (who we hope won't mind us saying looks uncannily like Mark Dolan from Balls of Steel) wonders on his blog whether, after a five year false dawn since Location, Location, Location chose this as an area on the up, Tesco's planned arrival signals that Brockley has reached a tipping point.
Tesco's Lewisham Way ambition probably says more about their expansion strategy and the popularity of the Tesco Metro model than it does about Brockley's fortunes. However, we believe that there are plenty of other changes that suggest a tipping point has already been reached.
A year ago, Brockley Central was based in Charlton - an area truly untouched by regeneration. House prices rose, though at nothing like the pace they have in Brockley, but literally nothing else changed for two years, despite its proximity to Greenwich Peninsula and the Jubilee Line. It would have been very difficult to write Charlton Central.
Brockley, on the other hand, has changed noticeably in the few months that we've been writing this blog. Ecosium, The Broca, the Tea Factory and the encouraging plans for the Wickham Arms and the Talbot have all emerged in recent months, while the Brockley Cross Action Group has greatly improved Brockley Common and Coulgate Street. Relatively modest progress, perhaps, but definitely green shoots of recovery. Five years ago, the East London Line extension was still no certainty. Today, it's on schedule and will form part of a new orbital overland network for London. There's still no deli, sadly and no Foxton's, thankfully - although James Johnston has set up shop in Crofton Park.
The popularity of all of the local cafes suggests there is already a critical mass of people who want to spend time and money locally. If we knew how to run a bar, we'd be putting together a business plan right now.
There are still big challenges of course - the ugly high street, the way car 'showrooms' hog every scrap of available space, the lack of a free cash machine and the hideous double roundabout at the heart of Brockley Cross. It's a shame there doesn't seem to be a coherent vision from the Council about how to address any of this (more on that another time), but the impetus created by the East London Line will ensure that plenty happens regardless. It just takes time.
And let's face it, what area hasn't been tipped by Phil and Kirsty as being "on the up?" It's the same euphemism they applied to Hull, shortly after labelling it the worst place in Britain to live.
Babur has already been namechecked several times here as one of the best places to eat in the area (even though it's on Brockley Rise in Forest Hill) and is definitely one of the bright stars in a relatively dark firmament.
The founder Emdad Rahman explains:
"We have four chefs who, between them, produce authentic food with a twist from all corners of the Indian sub-continent."
"Our wine consultant is the Master of Wine to a host of famous west end restaurants including the Cinnamon Club, Chez Gerard, Moro and the Dorchester Hotel."
The restaurant's 22nd anniversary has also been marked with expansion:
"This year we have already redesigned and refurbished the restaurant and have expanded the seating to take 72 diners.
"To mark our birthday we have created a special tasting menu, based on old favourites as well as the top dishes from the a la carte, to give diners the chance to sample the best of everything."
Last night Brockley Central's Jon Godsell was lucky enough to be at the opening night of new musical 'Leaves on the Line' at the Brockley Jack Theatre in Crofton Park:
Criminally after 18 months in the area, this was our first time inside the Brockley Jack. What looks like a local footy pub from the outside, is actually rather pleasant inside - spacious and brimming with period charm, and the bar staff were chatty and attentive. The food was standard pub grub, which we downed in a matter of minutes since the bell was ringing for the start of the performance...
I suppose it was to be expected, but we weren't quite prepared for the size of the theatre - this is a properly intimate affair, with probably no more than 50 seats. Sitting in the front row, as we were, is literally like staring the actors in the face. This takes a little getting used to - especially when, in the first moments, Anita Adams as Anna starts belting out a song at the top of her voice!
The musical aspect was something of a novelty at first, and others in the audience had trouble keeping themselves together for the first few scenes - the man behind was practically falling off his chair in fits of giggles, but the actors took this in their stride, even on this opening night. The performance was flawless to my untrained eyes.
As the play flowed from scene to scene and song to dance (there was actually only one dance) the script draws you into the characters and gradually they start to link up. Without giving too much away, Leaves on the Line cleverly entwines narratives and periods - quite a feat on such a small scale. The script, music and accompanying lyrics, by award winner Matthew Knowles, were fantastic, and had us singing all the way home. Memorable performances here included waitress Hazel's 'Another Cup of Coffee' and philosophic train announcer Olive's glorious 'The Girl Who Was Perpetually Late'.
All in all, Leaves on the Line comes thoroughly recommended. Act quickly if you want to see it though, as sadly it only runs until the 28th July. Who knows where the play might go after that? Just remember you heard it first in Brockley.
Leaves on the Line:
24th - 28th July, Brockley Jack Theatre.
Booking is advised. Box office: 020 8291 6354.
Traders on Lewisham Way have welcomed a new member in to their fold in predictable fashion, according to this article about Tesco's plan to build a Metro store on the street:
Traders are furious at Tesco plan
Jul 24 2007
By Kate Gould
TRADERS in Lewisham are angry that a supermarket giant is trying to muscle in on their patch.
Tesco has applied to open a Tesco Express store in Lewisham Way, Brockley, in a vacant former furniture store.
If approved, the store would open between 6am and 11pm every day. Traders have reacted angrily, saying it could put many of them out of business.
Rose Ali, who runs the One Step Ahead Dry Cleaning shop at Lewisham Way, said: "There are already two Tescos nearby and we don't need any more.
"There are also two independent supermarkets on this stretch of Lewisham Way so why do we need another one?"
Sivarajah Shriram, who owns and runs Gogif's Convenience Store two doors down from the proposed site, said Tesco's arrival would be bad news.
He added: "I have only been here since September last year and have invested a lot in building this business up. If Tesco comes I will have to close as I can't compete. I won't be the only one. We have to fight this application, otherwise it will kill off this parade.
"If it's approved there will be more noise, cars and pollution. There is also nowhere for shoppers to park and there is a bus stop right outside the shop, so where are the delivery lorries going to park? It's going to be a nightmare."
A petition with more than 450 signatures opposing the plans was handed to Lewisham council last week.
A Tesco spokesman said: "We have got 700 Express stores throughout the country that trade alongside other traders.
"For Tesco it's about offering choice and value to customers and attracting new business to the area. We have found our stores have a positive effect on other retailers."
A decision on the scheme is due to be taken by council planning bosses in the next few months.
We can see why a convenience store owner might feel a little threatened (although we're of the view that shops should serve their customers, and if they want to shop at Tesco, then the shopkeeper needs to adapt) but why a drycleaner should be worried by the arrival of a food shop is anyone's guess. The argument about the nearby presence of two other Tescos is misleading, since one is just a glorified petrol station and the other is a supermarket in Lewisham.
On the 28th June, we wrote this article suggesting July would see the government agree funding for Thameslink. Four weeks later, the Sunday Times said something similar. Today, the Government confirmed to Parliament that it would commit £5 billion to fund the project, with work due to commence as soon as possible.
Thameslink will bring huge improvements to rail travel through the South East and transform London Bridge station.
We'll provide a more complete analysis soon.
Last week, we wrote that the only way to find out what Hillaballoo was all about was to go along yourself.
On Saturday, when the rain abated, we went along - and we're still none-the-wiser.
There was some chalk to draw on the paths with, some oversized lego bricks, a couple of deserted stands and a couple of jolly people standing around trying to make the best of it. In the lower park, some kids in waders looked like they were having fun in the pond. And that, as far as we could tell, was it.
The website explains:
Well, it wasn’t quite the picnic we were expecting. Several planned activities didn’t happen because of the rain. However, it was really enjoyable and lots of people turned up. The camera obscura was a hit. For photos see the link to Flickr on the right. Upload your own too.
A lot of energy seems to have been put in to trying to get the event off the ground and everything has to start somewhere, but it has a long way to go before it matches the Hilly Fields Summer Fayre, for example. With a bit more of a clear focus it could become a good event.
The end of Upper Brockley Road closest to Lewisham Way has, for some time, been a centre for cooperation between police and residents to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area. So it's a fitting location for the Safer Lewisham Community bus to visit.
The bus will be parked at the parade from today until Friday 27th to give advice on a range of topics from environmental issues to police matters. The Brockley Safer Neighbourhood team will be present and there will also be council representatives on hand to give advice on starting up a small buisness and what grants and help are avaliable as well as other useful help, such as drugs awarness.
Thanks to Jackie for the news.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 23.7.07
Friend of Brockley Central, Luke, has emailed this news about the Amersham Arms in New Cross.
The Amersham Arms has been bought by the Lock Tavern (uber cool/trendyvenue in Camden). My mate works in the record industry and got a news update a few days ago.
"Now in the hands of the group who own the Lock Tavern, Defectors Weld and Keston Lodge, the Amersham Arms is due for a sprucing up over thesummer. Known for its rock, country, jazz and ska nights, we hope a similarly eclectic music policy will still be on offer come the autumn."
The Amersham is already one of the best pubs in the area, but the new owners can probably be relied upon to retain its character while adding a new and improved music line-up.
Now, if only the Venue can be rescued from death-by-tribute acts and restored to its former goth glory, New Cross will get its groove back.
This Saturday (July 21st), Telegraph Hill picks up the baton from Hilly Fields as the epicentre for local community life, with the Hillaballoo event, which takes place from 'lunchtime' until late.
What is Hillaballoo? We've been asking ourselves that question, ever since we were handed an oblique flyer for the event, by a very nice woman in Telegraph Hill, about a month ago? We asked the same question when we passed some posters for it a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, we thought our question was answered when we were shown to the Hillaballoo website by our friend Liz Akers, of Team Nice fame.
"What is Hillaballoo?" asks one of the helpfully-titled sections to the site. The answer it offers?
Views and visions
Telegraph Hill is in New Cross, SE14, in South East London. It is named for an ‘optical telegraph’ that passed messages across Kent’s highest hills on to the Admiralty. Building on years of activism in the area, a ‘creative community vision’ for Telegraph Hill is underway.
Hillaballoo is a summer event supporting these developments. It celebrates the fabulous view, explores everything to do with ‘looking further’ and invites visions for the future of SE14.
This year it takes place on Saturday 21st July. The centrepiece will be Willett and Patteson’s Amazing Camera Obscura to give us all a 360 degree view from the Top Park. http://www.amazingcameraobscura.co.uk/index.htm
Make of that what you will. Confirmed highlights include:
- ‘The Back Garden Gallery’ and ‘Telegraph Hill Visions’ groups on Flickr by Bridget McKenzie
- Patricio Forrester from Artmongers, will offer an activity with illusionary clothes.
- A group of children have offered to draw portraits of dogs or people.
- You will be invited to capture clouds and shadows, in drawings or photos.
- A knitting workshop for all ages and all levels.
- Some optical devices will be available to play with.
- The event will also be a chance to express your views through a survey, about your time, your skills and needs.
Hillaballoo - be there or be baffled.
We're not sure how much of a role a police station that's only open between 10am and 2pm Monday to Friday has to play in the war on terror, but according to The People, our "cop-shop" is one of many that face the axe under a review of Met Police spending - threatening national security in the process.
In case you've no idea where it is, it's here on Howson Road.
Visible policing is an important part of helping people to feel safe and localised services help people to relate to the police, but as its tucked away out of sight and barely open at the moment, we don't think this is likely to make much difference to Brockley street life.
In fact, the thing that most irritated us about the article was this sentence:
The London police stations targeted for closure are mainly in run-down areas such as Rotherhithe, Camberwell, Streatham, Brockley and Brixton. Others at risk include East Dulwich.
Don't they know that Brockley residents now receive pretentious property lifestyle magazines?
How do you feel about the plans?
The developers had promised high-quality architecture for the scheme and we believe that, despite the fairly identikit "modern urban living" feel of the designs, that they are of a high-standard and would vastly improve the current site.
The novelty of social networks tends to wear off pretty quickly - after an initial flurry of adding people you barely know or like, you are left with a sense of "what now?" and a nagging feeling that you owe your 'friends' something as a result of pestering them to add you to their social circle.
However, the momentum is with Facebook and we have noticed that it is generating a lot of traffic to this site, so we joined, to see where it was all coming from. It turns out, Brockley is surprisingly well represented on there, with groups including "I heart Brockley" and "Brockley Popular Front" boasting surprisingly large and attractive memberships.
If you're on there already - join up!
Posted by Brockley Nick on 11.7.07
This is something of a formative moment in the history of Brockley Central - an article written by someone with a working knowledge of their subject.
Thanks goes to Kate, who writes one of the area's most entertaining blogs by night and is a proper, salaried journalist by day.
Social housing is a subject with less instant appeal than takeaway pizza, but is important to the future of Brockley nonetheless. This deal with Lewisham Council is one that has been covered by other bloggers, but Kate's article provides a detailed explanation of what's going on.
Lewisham Council has signed a £296 million deal to do up nearly 2,000 council-owned homes in Brockley.
A group of private sector companies is going to refurbish the council’s housing estates and street properties, including homes owned by leaseholders.
The deal uses the Private Finance Initiative, a controversial way of funding major public sector building projects.
PFI works by using private companies’ cash to build public sector facilities. A consortium of private companies uses their financial assets to create or refurbish a public sector project, and then maintain it over the long term – usually PFI contracts last for 30 years. But the public authority, for example a council, then has to pay back that investment over the long term.
The commissioning authority sets performance targets which the consortium must meet in order to receive its full monthly payments. At the end of the contract, the buildings belong to the public authority involved.
In the case of the Brockley refurbishment, the contract will last 20 years and the consortium is called B3.
The lead company is Regenter. Construction company Higgins and management company Pinnacle are also involved, and it’s funded by Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui.
It’s taken four years for the deal to get off the starting blocks, which isn’t unusual in PFI. Deals are often held up for years because of contractual wrangling between the commissioning public body and members of the consortium.
B3 has already taken over day to day management of properties on a small scale, and full services will begin in September. The homes will be bought up to the government’s decent homes standard within the next three and a half years; this will include the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms where necessary.
B3 will also be responsible for housing allocations, neighbour disputes, rent arrears, and caretaking on estates. It will work out of a new housing office on Mantle Road where tenants can pay their rent, report repairs and discuss the programme of works.
The consortium will be contacting tenants to let them know about the refurbishment schedule. Leaseholders will be asked to contribute to the cost of the works, but their maximum contributions will be capped. The consortium will notify leaseholders in advance about any proposed works.
The council will retain its ownership of the properties and so tenants’ rights, including the right to buy their property, won’t be affected.
NB. This has already been covered by the Green Ladywell blog:
And here’s a PDF that the council has sent to tenants:
As has been mentioned by other posters, anyone who lives in Brockley will know that there is no shortage of awful pizza / chicken / miscellaneous takeaways in the area, who shove their leaflets through your door on a regular basis.
However, if you want a "nice" pizza, rather than one that comes with a free bottle of Pepsi or a set of BBQ chicken wings chucked in, then give La Lanterna's takeaway pizzas a try.
The quality of La Lanterna's food has been a subject of some debate on this site, but we ordered two pizzas from them last week to take away and were very pleased with the results: 10 minutes to collect, great range to choose from and the ingredients looked like what they're supposed to (eg: ham's in strips, rather than reconstituted cubes and vegetables are distinguishable from one another).
For once, this is someone else's bad pun.
Moonbow Jakes and Elastic Productions are organising a special outdoor film screening tonight at Elastic Productions, 286 Brockley Road, SE4 2RA (across the road from Moonbow Jakes).
"Come and enjoy an evening of South London shorts at Brockley’s only open air Summer screening! See a variety of film styles right in the centre of this buzzing neighbourhood. In conjunction with Elastic Productions and Moonbow Jakes a great (and Free) time will be had by all.
"I’ve ordered a rain free night but we’ll have a back-up plan incase it gets all Glastonbury on us.
"Please email Declan at firstname.lastname@example.org for info and to reserve a place… or just turn up!"
Coming up with new things to say about Brockley all the time is not easy. So we look for inspiration wherever we can find it.
That's why we were excited when a new magazine touting itself as "South East London's Premier Guide to Luxury Living" fell through our letterbox this week. And why excitement rapidly turned to disgust.
Presumably since we live in the conservation area, a database manager somewhere has decided that we are the sort of people that would appreciate recycled articles about Thailand and Damien Hirst. The science of direct marketing still has some way to go.
If it was just a glossy vehicle for estate agent ads then it would simply be an offensive waste of paper. But since it tries to pass itself off as a guide to South East London life, it's also patronising and inept.
Like its rival "The Guide" [not the good one in the Guardian on Saturdays, the rubbish one which always features a picture of Greenwich on the front cover - in case anyone in South East London hasn't thought about visiting the place], SE City Life barely makes an effort at covering the thing that it purports to be about.
Inside we get the obligatory review of Inc Bar in Greenwich, some cut-and-paste articles about places to shop and eat, none of which are in South East London and a thing about the Dome in Greenwich. It does trump The Guide by paying cursory attention to a bit of South East London outside Blackheath and Greenwich, with an article about Eltham Palace. Then on to the ads...
The somewhat less aspirational SE4U magazine does manage to cover Brockley at least, but even then, it only manages a handful of articles each issue - how are we supposed to plagiarise that!?
A reminder from Sue Luxton that the Loampit Vale pool consultation (see this article) is due to end tomorrow. The article is a very balanced presentation of the issues and is well worth a read. Max, the tireless campaigner for the joys of Ladywell Pooll, has already waded in with his response in the comments section.
The issue of the "windowless pool" seems to have been cleared up (ie. it will have windows) but Sue is chasing confirmation of this and we hope that she updates us when she gets it.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 3.7.07
Streetcar is a car-pooling business which allows people to hire car on a time-share basis with other people in the area.
They now have a car parked on Foxberry Road for members to use.
This is probably an offer that will appeal to a limited range of people - for short journeys it's often easier and cheaper to get a mincab and for longer periods, how far you plan to drive will determine whether its cheaper to hire a car in traditional fashion. For regular drivers, it's cheaper to buy a car.
Still, some people obviously find that it works for them and Streetcar claim that the kind of car-sharing they offer reduces the number of cars on the road (or more accurately, pavement), so it's a very welcome addition to the area.