Previously, in Brockley: 2008 recapped

The time has come to review 2008, just as we did 2007. Before we sat down to write, our recollection of the year was that it was defined by frustrations and setbacks, but while it's true that the tail end of the year brought some bad news, the overall story has been far more positive.

Although it has undoubtedly been a very difficult year for many, Brockley has remained fairly insulated from the extraordinary economic shock waves that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the dramatic scenes that this brought with it, just across the river.

The loss of Moonbow Jakes, James Johnston, Cafe Neu and one or two other businesses has been offset by the arrival of the Broca Food Market, the Deptford Deli, Geddes Salon and others.

None of this 'gentrification' has come at the expense of Brockley's sense of community - the calendar of local events has swelled with the addition of a Fun Run, a Film Club, the Ladywell Christmas Market, the Local Assemblies and even a Ukulele group. The Brockley community gallery did open, although there were many times in the year when it seemed an unlikely prospect - likewise the 2008 MAX.

Several local institutions were restored or saved in 2008, including the Brockley Jack pub and theatre, the Ladywell Tavern and the Rivoli Ballroom.

While much of Brockley Road (and Brockley Cross) remains in wretched (shaming) condition, the gradual improvement of the Crofton Park parade has demonstrated that progress is possible and need not mean the destruction of the area's existing character. It's a model which we hope will one day be applied to the rest of the high street.

The Talbot and the Common were delayed but the East London Line project made steady progress and it cannot come too soon as Brockley's train service is bursting at the seams, just as TfL forecast that it would.

Those overcrowded platforms are a sign of the area's growing vitality and rising profile and they - rather than recession - will be the forces that shape Brockley's future.

January

The Rivoli got protected status, much to the annoyance of its owners, but we said goodbye to Cafe Neu.

February

We learned that Meze Mangal was planning a patisserie for 'the summer' - but by December, the Sea Container would remain defiantly in its usual place. The Brockley Common project officially stalled, but it was confirmed that the station will eventually become fully accessible.

March

Crofton Park got a boost for its rail services. With the Brockley Jack Theatre's future assured, a new Film Club was born. Ladywell residents kicked up a stink over the PFI refurbishment of local council housing stock, which proposed ripping out wooden window frames and putting in plastic ones. It would not be the year's last complaint about this programme...

April

Brockley hosted its first fun run in Hilly Fields - an event set to grow in 2009. Developers unveiled plans for a new street in Brockley where the St Martin's Yard scaffolding yard currently stands, a project that will provide homes for small businesses as well as people if it goes ahead. The "Tesco effect" led to a new (and very good) Vietnamese restaurant on Lewisham Way. Brockley Central readers had to admit that Lewisham Council had a point when it marked some local trees for death, but there was good news for local flora as Pincott Place got a new park. Meanwhile, Brockley Kate got the keys to the blog.

May

Portland Bookmakers won the right to open on Brockley Road, while the Council launched timed refuse collections, which reduced the amount of rubbish stored on our high street.

June

The Deptford Project opened, The Ladywell Tavern reopened and the Summer Fayre, MAX and Open Studios created a full summer season. Although some were underwhelmed by the design, the new bins outside the post office showed small, low-cost actions by the Council can make a huge difference to our area - it just takes a little thought and care.

July

Speedicars took down their notorious sign and the big yellow danger signs proved to be as unnecessary and counter-productive as we thought. Gordon Brown paid us a visit, as did Lewisham's Deputy Mayor. Budgens taught Costcutter a lesson and Oscars opened.

August

An industrial unit in Ashby Mews burned down and the Conservation Area was spared a dubious "healthcare" development, but the United Services Club shut down. Crofton Park was terrorised by one of nature's deadliest predators.

September

The Mayor approved the Brockley Common project and Ladywell got its own Christmas market. The guys behind the Talbot project confirmed its delay.

October

The Council promised to do their best to dispose of Brockley Road's railing blight and the London Assembly asked us whether we were squashed. Brockley's growing number of young families prompted a new PowerPramming class.

November

The Broca shrugged off the credit crunch to open a new food shop in West Brockley but the owners of Dandelion Blue put it up for sale. Trees got another filip.

December

The community gallery finally opened but Moonbow Jakes announced its imminent closure and pledged to drink the bar dry on its final night (tonight). Brockley and Ladywell Christmas Markets made the most of atrocious weather and the news of a new deli in Deptford and optimism about the Talbot and the 2009 MAX helped to finish the year on a positive note.

So here we are. Predictions for 2009 coming up. In the mean time, we'd love to hear your highlights from 2008.

Nobody calls me chicken


As you know, it is the duty of each of us in these troubled times to shop until we bleed - and to do so locally whenever possible. So we were wracked with guilt as we drove to Cornwall before Christmas, without having looked for last-minute gifts in SE4.

Happily though, our main present on Christmas Day was a large wobbly wooden chicken, made by Manor Avenue artist Jeff Soan, which we first fell in love with during the summer's Open Studios (we never wanted Fallout3 anyway...)

Suggestions for a name would be welcome.

Brockley Cross Action Group concern over Common materials

The South London Press today covers the concerns of Brockley Cross Action Group, which fears that the first phase of the long-awaited Brockley Common project that will improve accessibility to Brockley Station, will use ersatz materials in its construction:

"When work started last week they [BXAG] were shocked to discover Lewisham council planned to use cheap “concrete and tarmac” for the job. Lewisham has admitted it will not be using the materials that the residents wanted but claims tarmac will definitely not be used.

"BXAG trustee Stuart Woodin said: “We have waited a long time for this. “This is the ramp phase of the project and we chose really good-quality surfacing and steps – even negotiating a good deal with suppliers. But the council just want to use tarmac and concrete and it’s disappointing because we were always promised a high- quality scheme. “The council has failed to share its costings with us so we don’t know how much extra needs to be raised. We have been asking for 18 months."

The article references a petition against the changes, which has been signed by 130 people. Unfortunately, we don't know if there's an online version of the petition, but please feel free to post your views here and we will pass them on to the relevant people - if they haven't already seen them...

The Talbot - Pub of Christmas Future

An early (or late, depending on the way you want to look at it) Christmas present from Jamie at the Honor Oak, who's written to tell us that the future of the Talbot is brighter than many of us have feared:

"Apologies to everyone at Brockley Central for the lack of information over the last couple of months.

"I had another meeting today on site and we are very close now to commiting to the refit with a view to open in April/May. So, once again, as soon as everything is signed I will let you know. Happy Christmas and let's hope a great New Year for Brockley and, of course, The Talbot."

At a recent Christmas party, we got talking to a guy who runs a country pub owned by Enterprise Inns, a rival to Punch Taverns, which owns The Talbot. He said he does a roaring trade but, despite this, struggles to make a profit as the margins on beer are so low and the rent is so high. He agreed with the suggestion made by some on BC that, with the pressure on Pubcos to lower their charges at the moment, it might be sensible for the team to wait before commiting, particularly to a site which doesn't benefit from a lot of passing trade.

So hopefully the delays to this project have improved The Talbot's chances of prospering in the long-term.

Thanks to Jamie for keeping us all up-to-date.

International cranberry shortage hits south-east London

South-east London appears to be wholly lacking in cranberries (or at least the supermarketed parts of it are). Does anyone have any idea where they can be procured, within the next 24 hours? Friendly local cranberry dealers, now is the time to speak up ...

Christmas Eve Carol Service

Courtesy of Andy...

Brockley Community Church (the church behind Healthy Brockley and the lantern making workshop) invites you to join them for an all age Carol Service at 5-6pm on Christmas Eve. The event will take place at St Peter's Church on Wickham Rd and will be followed by festive refreshments. Children will receive a small gift if they come dressed as an angel, shepherd or wise man and join in with the nativity play. The service will be a blend of tradition and fun and will help get you in to the Christmas mood.

Brockley Road improvements - suggestions please

There are plenty of bits of Brockley Road which could do with some love, but probably the most wretched is the stretch is the area opposite St Andrew's Church.

Cllr Sue Luxton has been in touch about this area, which is in the Ladywell Ward. There is still £2,000 earmarked for improvements from last year's Ladywell ward locality fund and she is looking for good ideas and feedback on the most effective way to spend the money. She writes:

Our initial plan was to spend the money on improving the area outside the row of shops opposite St Andrew' Church (where Brockley Kitchen is), and ideally I would still like to do this, but it is proving slightly more complicated than expected, due to the privately-owned shop forecourts and getting support from the businesses and property owners along there.

I was wondering if we could get some feedback via your blog on the following suggestions.

How should the £2,000 to improve the 'Ladywell ward' stretch of Brockley Road be spent?

1. Put it towards improvements to the forecourts for the shops opposite St Andrew's Church (row where Brockley Kitchen is). This would need to be in agreement with the property owners as the forecourts are not council-owned. Depending on funding, this could include some/all of the following:

  • Filling in that huge pot hole (it's not the public footpath)
  • Working with Artmongers or a similar local organisation to find a way of making the rubbish bins outside the shops less unsightly, and to site a storage point for them off the public footpath.
  • Put bollards to block cars going over the public footpath and parking in front of the shops (NB: the stonemasons do need access for loading/unloading however)
2. Have a community planting day and work with local businesses and residents to enter that stretch of Brockley Road into 'Lewisham in Bloom'
3. Spend the money clearing out the alley to the rear of SIDS and Moonbow Jakes and putting some gravel down to deal with the 'clay pit' in the middle there. Do a spot of community planting/guerrilla gardening there.

4. Spend the whole lot on street trees.

5. Any better ideas?

Thanks to Sue for getting in touch. Please post your thoughts here. We'll also set up a poll.

Sounds Around: Be Kind Rewind

"Anything you say can and will be held against you...in the court of Robocop."
- Jack Black

Until recently, we thought of Sounds Around on Brockley Road as a cheap and cheerful source of bubble mixture and other brief distractions for kids.

But this is a quick blog in praise of their DVD rental service, which we've recently signed up to and which is good value and offers a better range than you could reasonably expect to be packed in to their limited shelf space.

Not only that, but the whole shop is basically the Be Kind Rewind store brought to life, complete with Sweded DVD box covers and Christmas lights which would fend off a wrecking crew.

Babur bags best nosh award

After a top-notch trip to Babur over the weekend, BC can heartily agree with Harden's restaurant guide, which has named the Brockley Rise establishment as its 'best inexpensive restaurant' for 2009. 'You just don’t expect restaurants of this quality deep in SE London suburbia', according to the Harden's website.

Well I don't know about the Harden's reviewer but us Brockley residents are obviously spoilt - we've certainly got used to having Babur around. It's the consistency of its excellence which is the key - no slip-ups in the service, quality of food, or surroundings (in contrast to so many places whose bathroom facilities leave a lot to be desired, Babur's are so nice I'd be quite happy to settle in there surrounded by the lovely orchids and wooden carvings for the rest of the evening!). The wine list was impressive (and reasonably priced) and in helping to match drinks to dishes they were enthusiastic rather than patronising (as is unfortunately so often the case).

Special mention must be made of the puddings: the home-made kulfi, ice creams AND sorbets were all delicious (fortunately, being part of a group, I didn't have to order them all for myself!).

And the final touch - they send me a birthday card every year. It's this kind of thought for detail which has turned some of their customers into their best form of advertising; every time I go there I leave feeling a little bit evangelical about the place.

Fill yer boots (or stockings) in Brockley!

This month's Lewisham Life features a piece on locally bought gifts for under a tenner. We couldn't help noticing how Brockley businesses seem to dominate the list. Dandelion Blue, Shop on the Hill, and Magi all feature. Degustation must have been closed when the journo stopped by, but Mr. Lawrence has made up for it, with three items featured.

They even feature a product by local organic cleaning brand Hetty Hope - watch this space for more information about them! However, we're not sure what the other half would make of getting a bottle of 'Knuckle Down Wood Polish' for Xmas!?

Read the article: Gifts for Under £10 (PDF)

Local hero

Adding fuel to the fire of those who accuse Brockley of becoming over-run by the middle class, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson revealed in yesterday's paper that he's a Brockley resident. In the Review section's weekly 'Writers' Rooms' piece, he writes: 'I've got a wonderful view from the room where I work at the top of our house. It's of Hilly Fields Park in Lewisham, and I can happily spend most days gazing idly at people walking their dogs or birds and squirrels leaping through the hawthorn trees over the road.'

That should give BC readers enough info to try and doorstep him, if you wish!

Sing when you're winning

... But who to sing for? That's the question. Brockley is reasonably close to three major football teams - Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic and the dreaded Millwall. So which should Brockleyites support?

According to Google Maps, it's 3.1 miles from Brockley to Millwall's ground The Den, 3.7 miles to Charlton Athletic's ground The Valley, and 6.3 miles to Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace's ground.

So on a purely geographical basis, Millwall clearly has it. But can it be as simple as that? And who do BC readers support?

Sexist nonsense?

BC has been thwarted in our plans to post a photo of the 'subvertised' Kitkat advert on the corner of Brockley Road and Adelaide Avenue, but similar graffiti has been spotted on Ladywell Road and in Blackheath, so we can direct you there for very similar pictures.

For those who haven't seen the original ad, it says 'Good will to all women ... only 165 calories ... Kitkat'.

To which has been added, by some energetic individual, 'Sexist nonsense - give us a break!'

The Honor Oak: A little bit of Chistmas lovin'

We fancied a bit of pre-Christmas cheer on Sunday, so headed down to The Honor Oak for some festive grub. This, shamefully, was our first visit to the pub, and the place has a really nice feel. It's airy and light, with towering ceilings, and the decor is cool and inventive. Modern chandeliers mix with mock-flock and a graffiti wall at the back. That all might sound a bit poncey to some of you, but it strikes a balance with the trad pub architecture, and overall there's a relaxed, welcoming vibe, with the punters far more concerned with socialising than posing.

We were greeted as soon as we walked in, and took a table in the corner, perfect for people watching. What struck Brockley Central most was the amount of new parents and their little ones. There must be something in the water down in Forest Hill, as the young folk certainly have been busy, and we had stumbled across a yummy mummy hangout. One by one as the new families arrived it became a show of virility and push chair manoeuvrability. The strangest thing of all, the kids didn't cry or even make a sound. They were all highly trained, either looking cute and fashionable draped over mum's shoulder, or innocently playing, in the way that kids should.

The food? Top notch nosh, and a bargain at three courses for £18. The lamb shank was perfectly done, and given a winter touch cooked with root veg in ale. The homemade cheese cake was creamy and delicious.

On our way out we stopped off at the Xmas mini-market out the front, which included a massive array of cheeses all sold by a charismatic cockney. We stocked up for later, and then took a long stroll back to work off the lunch, exploring some of the back streets of Honor Oak, and stopping off at Jumping Bean on the high street for some Christmas bits and bobs.

We'll be back to The Honor Oak for sure, and wish we could drag the place a bit closer to Brockley. Of course, at some point the conservation area will get its own version in the form of the Talbot, economy permitting, but our advice is not to wait until that happens - get down to the Honor Oak to put you in the festive mood.

Unreal Brockley drinks

It's been a long time coming but finally BC managed to organise our fourth drinks evening, which took place on Tuesday night. Being so near to Christmas we weren't hoping to match the numbers that attended past events, but we were gratified that some of you turned out. It was especially good to meet some of those mysterious anonymii. Also many thanks to Richard from Jam Circus for his unstinting hospitality - definitely one of the area's most welcoming proprietors.

The event was considerably enlivened by a chap* who, on being introduced to us, expressed incredulity that we 'knew each other off the internet' and insisted that we couldn't be 'real Brockley' as he had never seen any of us before. Perhaps this marks the start of a new quest for BC - the search for the Real Brockley. Suggestions and nominations welcome ... As well as an answer to the question: How does one know when one has found The Real Brockley?



* = Hello, if you're reading!

Brockley MAX 2009

The Brockley MAX arts festival will be back this summer, this time with a new blend.

The Tea Leaf Art team will be working with former organiser Moira Tait to organise the 2009 Brockley MAX.

When Moira stood down after the 2007 festival, a new team took over and did a creditable job, given relatively little time or resource, but it's great to have Moira's experience back on board, together with the team that has successfully got Brockley's community art gallery back up and running.

Most of all, it's great to have the Brockley MAX's future secured for 2009.

You can read an interview with Moira about the MAX here.

We're also happy to bring you some photos from the Brockley gallery launch, courtesy of team member Sian, who adds a gentle reminder that:

"If people have not yet bought their Christmas cards, we have a wide selection by local artists in the gallery, prints from £15 and original artwork starting from £30 ranging up to £5900. Opening hours are now in the tea-leaf-arts.com website, but are Thursday - Saturday 10am - 6pm and Sundays 11am - 5pm."


Goldsmiths' Top Buzz

Peter from Goldsmiths sent us this article, which suggests the institution - and the nightlife of New Cross - has a solid future, no-doubt bolstered by the presence of a Royal in their midst:

Goldsmiths, University of London, has ranked second out of all the UK’s universities in a new league table which measures what is being said about them in online blogs.

The data was compiled to measure how different universities’ reputations are faring on the internet, and Goldsmiths has shone in the rankings which are said to reflect the level of ‘online buzz’ about each institution.

The research, which was compiled by Portfolio Communications is based on an analysis of the content of almost 4,000 sites.

Mark Westaby, the firm's director of online reputation management, told the Times Higher Education the statistics provide an accurate picture of the “volume and tone of online buzz” that institutions are generating.

“The first place that students look for information is the web, and it's natural that this is where the vast majority will get information when choosing a university,” he said.

“The same is true for a business that might be looking to forge a relationship with an academic institution.

“But while universities are putting a lot of emphasis on their official websites, they must not forget that social media, such as blogs and online reviews, are just as, if not more, important; and understanding what these are saying about a university - and its competitors - is critical if it is to succeed in what is now a very crowded environment.”

Good Business

Jimmy: Hey, what gives?
Jimmy's Dad: You said you wanted to live in a world without zinc Jimmy. Well now your car has no battery.
Jimmy: But I promised Betty I'd pick her up by 6:00. I better give her a call.
Jimmy's Dad: Sorry Jimmy. Without zinc for the rotary mechanism, there are no telephones.
Jimmy: Dear God! What have I done?(Jimmy pulls out a gun and points it to his head and fires)
Jimmy's Dad: Think again Jimmy. You see the firing pin in your gun was made out of…yep…zinc.
Jimmy: Come back zinc, Come Back!!

- Bart the Lover

Brockley Nick here...

This article follows a discussion in this thread, prompted by a comment by the manager of Moonbow Jakes, who is frustrated by the criticism his business has received from some readers of this site. Although his post was highly critical of Brockley Central, I am glad he said what he did because I am aware that some local businesses feel similarly and I think it is helpful for some of the people who use this site to understand the effect their comments can have on local businesses. This is something I have tried to convey a number of times and, ironically, I have been slated as a patsy for doing so.

So firstly, I need to say a few words about the site.

Brockley Central is not a commercial enterprise, it's run by three volunteers, whose interest is in promoting and improving Brockley. If we felt it wasn't making a positive difference, we wouldn't do it.

To that end, we try and publicise anything and everything that's happening here and nearby. Since the site began, there's been a lot to promote, from the opening of Degustation, Dandelion Blue, The Broca, The Shop on the Hill, The Broca Food Market, Feast Your Eyes, Tesco Metro, Open Gym, Geddes Hairdressers, Oscars and the Tea Factory Gallery to the refurbishment of the Ladywell Tavern, The Brockley Jack, The Wickham Arms and Budgens. There are also many long-standing businesses that we love, frequent and recommend, such as Moonbow Jakes, Toadsmouth Too, Meze Mangal, Jam Circus, Nu-Spice, Mr Lawrence, La Querce, Babur, Smiles Thai Cafe, Long Time Cafe, City Noodles and Sounds Around.

You will find positive articles (sometimes several) about each of these businesses on this site. And you will not be alone, this site reaches more than 3,000 people a week, every week - most of whom are looking to find out about Brockley and what's on offer. Before this site existed, that was virtually impossible to do online. Its reach is enhanced by the media which use it as a source, from The Guardian to The Telegraph, BBC News, BBC World Service, the local newspapers and even Findaproperty.com. This reach has helped to take issues such as the proliferation of bookmakers in Lewisham to the campaigns to save the Rivoli Ballroom and a Forest Hill beauty spot to a mainstream media audience.

I say all this for two reasons.

The first is that I - and the other editors - understand the responsibility this reach carries with it and we take it very seriously. We don't write or allow malicious rumour and we strive for factual accuracy. Moreover, in terms of our own contributions, we generally take the view that if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all. I support those who are trying to make a difference. My criticism is generally reserved for inaction or negative campaigns from elsewhere (Portland and Costcutters might dispute that). If you see any criticism of local entrepreneurs at all, it will generally be of the gentlest or friendliest variety.

We encourage the same attitude of those who visit and use this site and regularly challenge those whose attitudes are unremittingly negative and deleting the comments of those who overstep the bounds. However, we do allow others who visit the site to post criticisms, for a number of reasons:

  1. You can't stop people criticising things. If this platform didn't exist, they'd be doing it somewhere else (like the dozens of review sites such as Fancyapint to WeLoveLocal and Toptable, which allow anyone to post whatever they like, without remorse).
  2. You shouldn't stop people criticising things. Sometimes their criticisms are valid and at least online, the businesses can see what people really think about them and - perhaps - respond to those comments and ideas. But most importantly, the criticisms people make help to make the positive reviews (which are still in the large majority of comments posted on Brockley Central) credible. If there was nothing but praise, people wouldn't believe it.
  3. The community is fairly good at self-policing. This site (like every similar site) is plagued by one or two cretinous regulars, but their comments are always challenged and exposed. Almost every criticism of a local busines provokes a fiercely loyal response from someone else. The fact that this blog is regularly accused of being both a haven for lefties and a refuge for rightwingers suggests that the site is doing something right. True diversity means accommodating those whose opinions you don't agree with. And there are plenty of people who use this site that I don't agree with and whose ways of expressing themselves I find to be juvenile or abhorrent.

I know that this policy has annoyed a few people along the way - if it makes you feel any better, moderating this site has probably taken years off Kate's, Jon's and my life.

Having said all that, any business that feels they have attracted unreasonable criticism is welcome to email me to point out the problem, as one or two have done. If I have written anything inaccurate, I will endeavour to correct it immediately. If a reader has posted something unacceptable, I will delete it.

Better still, please come on to the site yourself and put the record straight. Tell us what your business is doing - what promotions, offers and initiatives are you running? We'll happily report them. Which brings us on to the second reason for talking about the site's reach.

Brockley Central represents an opportunity for local businesses to promote themselves to a wider audience, as a post by the manager of Jam Circus here neatly illustrates. And it's free. It's free because we all want local businesses to succeed. Everyone on this site wants local places to eat, drink, shop and spend time and money.

And whenever you read a reader comment that makes your blood boil, please remember that the vast majority of people who visit the site never actually go beyond the home page. They read the latest few stories and go without ever reading or posting a comment.

But hopefully they leave with a few ideas about how to spend their time and money in Brockley.

----------------

Epilogue.

At Brockley Central we are not afraid to take our own advice, which is why, in response to a range of comments on this site in recent months, we are developing a new-and-improved site, which should be with us in the new year and will hopefully strike a better balance. But that is moving at the pace, which Brockley Jon's actual job will allow.

The big switch on

Despite the appalling weather we had yesterday, this didn't seem to dampen spirits at the Xmas market. Come 5 o'clock, a good crowd gathered around the tree outside The Barge for carol singing and the switching on of the Christmas lights.

Your BC roving reporter was there, albeit still hungover, a bit soggy, and not as full of festive cheer as we'd have liked. We did manage to mumble our way through some carols, and attempt a few paparazzi shots of local celeb Patrick Baladi counting down to the big moment. Were any of you there?

Brockley Xmas lights switch on
Patrick Baladi, with Des from the BXAG, plus other festive locals

Oh no you didn't! ... Oh yes we did!

In search of a bit of festive nostalgia, Brockley Central braved the bright lights of Greenwich last night to enjoy a good old-fashioned Christmas pantomime.

Jack & The Beanstalk is running at the Greenwich Theatre til January 4th, and tickets are selling fast. It's not hard to see why - from the moment the music starts up, the action and gags come thick and fast.

Not being in possession of a little 'un, BC was rather concerned about standing out like a sore thumb, but we needn't have worried; there were plenty of grown ups enjoying the show too. And 'enjoy' is the right word ...

The sets, costumes and special effects definitely have the 'wow' factor, while the soundtrack blends parent-pleasing classics with upbeat tunes to clap along to. Audience participation is definitely encouraged, but (unlike some pantos we recall with horror from our youth) there's no need to worry about being dragged onstage.

Our particular highlight was the opener to Act II - the cast must have put in many hours of rehearsal to get it so spot-on. The merry widow has a nice line in banter (and outfits), and the disco-dancing fairy was another nice touch.

The show lacks X Factor finalists, past-it D-listers and Eastenders actors - and in our opinion, it's all the better for it. The cast have real passion and, dare we say it, talent. This is definitely not a show for the jaded among you - dust down your dancing shoes, leave the credit crunch behind you, and prepare for a night of simple pleasure.

PS. The Greenwich Phantom is also singing the panto's praises.

Christmas Tree Recycling in Lewisham

Courtesy of Lewisham Council, who are careful to reassure us that Christmas is great...

Residents in Lewisham can once again recycle their Christmas trees once the 12th Night arrives.

Last year over 7,000 Christmas trees were collected, mulched and used for compost in Lewisham’s parks.Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said:

“Christmas is great, but many people may not be sure what to do with their old Christmas trees when they take them down.

"Last year Lewisham recycled over seven thousand Christmas trees – that’s amazing! We would love people to think ‘green’ again this year by taking their trees to any of the collection points around the borough and have their tree recycled.”

Residents can leave their Christmas trees at the following points for collection, from 27 December to the last week of January:

SE4 Hilly Fields - entrance in Hilly Fields Crescent
SE8 Deptford Park - entrance in Scawen Road
SE14 Telegraph Hill - Pepys Road/Kitto Road entrance
SE3 Talbot Place - Blackheath
SE13 Mountsfield Park - entrance top of George Lane
SE26 Sydenham Wells Park - entrance Wells Park Road
SE6 Forster Memorial Park - entrance top of Whitefoot Lane
SE12 Northbrook Park - Baring Road entrance
SE23 Mayow Park - entrance in Mayow Road
SE12 Chinbrook Meadows, Amblecote Road
SE13 Manor House Gardens, Old Road entrance

Feast Your Eyes, Tanners Hill, Deptford


A ray of hope in a darkening world... news of a new deli in Deptford. For those people who despair of the marketing prowess of our local businesses, this one's even got a logo. Feast Your Eyes:

Feast Your Eyes Limited, following on from the success of Feast Your Eyes at Laban café, are very proud to announce the opening of the first Deli in Deptford. The deli situated on the newly pedestrianised Tanners Hill, SE8 4PJ, tel: 0208 692 7399 will be very big on sustainability with the aim of reducing packaging to the bare minimum.

We will encourage people to bring in jars or buy them from us to stock up on our home produced items such as Hummus, Pesto, Dressings, Jams and Chutneys. Not only will this impact positively on the environment but will make artisan items that much cheaper without all the fuss.

For sale or in use will be local produce such as Deptford Creek Honey, Deptford Organic Green tomato chutney, herbs and jelly’s using herbs form the famous Herb Garden on McMillan Street - Deptford , Organic Lamb from Woodlands Farm trust on shooter’s Hill. We have also been encouraging locals to bring us fruit from their gardens which we have been turning in to chutneys and jams and next year we expect to be overwhelmed with produce form Growing Greenwich (GCDA) .

We will also offer a range of goods carefully selected from members of the slow food movement such as cheese from Piedmont, Italy , stonebaked organic bread from Dulwich and Artisan pastries from Greenwich. We have been scouring long and hard for olive oil which we will sell from a drum so you can just bring a bottle and fill it up. We will aim to sell all those little things you just can not buy in Deptford such as 24 month aged parmesan, Mozzarella di Buffalo, Artisan cheddar, Parma Ham, Home Roast Beef , Hot Salt Beef. Chilled home cooked ready meals based on local, seasonal and organic ingredients with a large selction of Vegan and vegetarian food will also be available. We will offer 4-5 types of Fair Trade Organic Coffee beans which can be ground to take away or if you choose, drink an extra special coffee in our warm seated area. We will of course be offering Christmas specials such as organic Christmas puddings, homemade mincemeat, chestnuts, dried fruits, Loch Fyne smoked salmon and oysters to order as well as hampers. Seasonal specials to eat in or take away such as venison stew will be available daily as well as a homemade soup, sandwiches, pates and salads too name but a few.

Open 5 days a week 0800 1930 Tuesday and Wednesday , 0800-2130 Thursday and Friday, Saturday 0800-1800. Once we have gauged the local take up opening days and hours may change so look out. We hope to be able to offer a fine selction of wines and beers for take away or consumption on the premises in the near future. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Thanks to Steve for the info.

Ladywell Christmas Market, December 13th

On Saturday, between 11am and 5pm, Ladywell will host its first Christmas Market, next to the station.

The rival / complementary attraction to Brockley's Christmas Market on the same day promises farmers' market stalls plus locals arts and crafts, a raffle, carols as well as the obligatory "and more!"

From 4pm-6pm there will be free mulled wine, while the Ladywell Tavern will host a benefit gig by local bands from 8.30pm.

Locallife Sian, one of the organisers, explains:

"It's Ladywell's first attempt at a big event so we are hoping for lots of support. Over 250 leaflets enclosing a map of the local shops have been delivered but we're hoping to spread the message as widely as possible.

"Anyone coming will be rewarded with the smell of hot roast hog, mulled wine and mince pies, plus the Mayor will light the Christmas tree lights at 3pm."

Brockley Central Zeitgeist

It's that time of year when Google unveils its annual Zeitgeist report - a compilation of their search data - providing such piercing insights as "a lot of people used Facebook in 2008."

Brockley Central uses Google Analytics to measure where traffic is coming from, enabling us to do the same thing, on a local level. So, removing the search terms Brockley Central, Brockley Blog and Brockley Central Blog, this is the 2008 top 30 search terms that brought people to the site, highlighting the eternal struggle in SE4 between the chattering classes (number 3) and the kebab monsters (number 7). Make of this list what you will:

1. Brockley
2. Talbot
3. Chattering
4. Brockley Jack
5. Gogi Brockley
6. Neu
7. Kebab
8. Portland Bookmakers Abbey Wood
9. Brockley Lido
10. Maypole Brockley
11. Jam Circus
12. Degustation Brockley
13. Ladywell Tavern
14. Builder
15. The Shop on the Hill SE4
16. Budgens Crofton Park
17. Dangerous Wickham
18. Society
19. Chai's Garden Restaurant SE4
20. Ecosium
21. Dandelion Blue
22. City Noodles
23. Brockley London
24. Lewisham Gateway
25. Peter James
26. Myatt Garden
27. Brockley Central Love Their Traffic Stats [Presumably someone entered this search nearly 300 times to get it on the list?]
28. Brockley East London Line
29. TM2 Brockley
30. Use Class

Moonbow Jakes up for sale (again / still)

As spotted by Tyrwhitt Ali, Moonbow Jakes is on sale here for £50,000.

The cafe was due to be sold a while back. The owner also threatened to sell up if Portland bookmaker was allowed to open. It opens shortly.

We've put our fondness for Moonbow's on record before, so we won't bore you with it again.

Brockley Central Drinks IV: Electric Boogaloo

It's been a while, but Brockley's Kate, Jon and Nick cordially invite you to the fourth Brockley Central drinks night:

16th December, 2008 - Jam Circus - 8pm

Apologies for the short notice and for any Christmas parties it may clash with, but it's taken the three of us about four months to agree a date, so we should be thankful for small mercies.

The venue is Jam Circus, because, even if we get relatively few takers, it should still be a good night at what is a consistently good venue.

We still intend to take in Brockley's other attractions at future events.

For those who've not been before, don't worry about cosy cliques or having to share a bag of peanuts with curmudgeonly 'anons', the experience from the previous three nights has been that everyone who actually comes along is lovely.

And for those who have, this time we will be making a proper sign, so hopefully no more of that business of sidling up to people and asking if they're 'with Brockley Central.'

We hope to see as many of you as possible.

Brockley woman wanders dangerously off-message

Carla Cornwell, 22, is clearly new to the area.

In thelondonpaper tonight, the Brockley resident can be found extolling the virtues of Lidl, single-handedly undoing the good work of a hundred frothy articles about Brockley's up-and-comingness.

She does remember her training and recover enough to claim that the reason she chooses the deep-discount retailer (as opposed to local delis) is that "it sells fair trade chocolate... and all the products have a lot less packaging." Nonetheless, the damage is done.

Geddes Hairdressing and Beauty Salon, 42 Ladywell Road

Brockley Central's approach to getting a hair cut is to wait until the unruliness of our hair intersects with the imminency and profile of our social engagement. Then, we panic and run from our desk in a desperate search for a place near work that will cut our hair immediately, whatever the price.

This is our way of explaining why to-date, there has been no review of Geddes - the Ladywell hairdresser and beauty salon - in spite of our best intentions. However, lots of people have been bigging-it-up in other parts of the site and we can now finally provide a few words of recommendation, courtesy of our wife, who has much nicer hair than we do anyway:

"Geddes is great - it offers a West End-quality service at Ladywell prices. Everyone who I've met there is friendly and knows what they're doing. They use lovely Aveda products and they're open late and on Sundays, which is the kind of flexbility you need for a local service."

The Tea Factory Gallery, Brockley Cross

On its opening day, the gallery showed off a range of work by its 20+ founding members.

The artwork on display ranged from photography to sculpture and the resulting effect was fairly messy, but going forward, each artist will have a slot to exhibit their work in full.

On the day, there wasn't much to our taste but there was one piece that we liked the look of, at a pretty reasonable price.

The gallery itself is very handsome although the propensity for people to park right in front of the windows spoils the effect somewhat.

Rorschach test

Nurse: He's not himself right now, his uncle has Hodgkins
Larry: Yeah, but it's the good Hodgkins.

Nurse: I didn't know there was a good Hodgkins.
Larry: I'm not saying it's a great Hodgkins. It's a good Hodgkins.

According to a recent study in the US, people who are more fearful are also more likely to be right wing. The researcher explained his findings as follows:

"You have people who are experiencing the world, who are experiencing threat, differently. It's just that we have these very different physiological orientations. We're not sure where they came from, they may be genetic, they may be something from childhood; we do know, though, that they run deep because it's a reflex, it's not something you can change tomorrow, the depth of that may be something of an asset in figuring out why people are so stubborn in their political beliefs."

This phenomenon may help to explain why one person visiting Brockley Central could conclude that everyone on the site is a bourgeois interloper determined to evict the noble working classes from a land that is rightfully theirs, while simultaneously, another reader is able to conclude that everyone on the site is a simple-minded, tree hugging fool, who needs to understand a little less and condemn a little more.

So that we can understand one another a little better, we'd like to carry out some local research.


Here is the site of the former pub, the Maypole, just west of Brockley Station. The hoardings shielding the vacant construction site have fallen over and the army of digicam wielding Samaritans that patrol our streets must have missed it.

When you look at it - remembering that the pub was demolished to make way for the Glasshouse development - do you see:

A) Another example of the shameful betrayal of working class culture, sacrificed to the gods of property speculation, worshipped in Bliar's Britain?

B) Another example of the inevitable decline of Britain, the hoardings no-doubt torn down by feral youth - no wonder everyone is emigrating to the Philippines?

C) Another example of the current property slump and something that needs tidying up until they start construction, but we're not sorry to see the back of the Maypole which was a pretty dreadful place. Which all just goes to show how appreciative we should be that the Broca has started up a useful new shop nearby, to bring a bit of sunshine to Mantle Road?


We're plumping for C.

St John's 20mph zone consultation

St John's residents have been asked their views about the 20mph traffic-calming zone covering their area. The consultation document makes some impressive claims for the traffic speed reductions the zone's achieved since its introduction in 2002:

Albyn Road - 29mph > 19mph
Ashmead Road - 27mph > 15mph
Cranbrook Road - 31mph > 19mph
St Johns Vale 30mph > 21mph

The document explains further changes are likely:

"Lewisham Council is reviewing the 20mph speed zone, which was introduced to your area in 2002. The reduced speed limit is displayed on sign posts at all the entry points to the zone and traffic speeds are restricted by features such as road humps, speed cushions and speed tables.

"We intend to carry out some minor modifications to the zone and welcome your views on any local concerns you may have. The work carried out will be dependant on priorities identified through this consultation, consultation with the emergency services and financial constraints.

The deadline for feedback is December 19th.

New Thameslink website launched

The Thameslink project has a useful new website.

The multi-billion pound project will bring major improvements to London Bridge and Blackfriars stations as well as adding capacity to the Crofton Park line and offering more cross-London services by 2015.

Thameslink will lengthen the maximum number of carriages from 8 to 12 and increase the peak number of trains through to north London up to 24 trains per hour by 2015. Next year, Blackfriars tube interchange will close in March, but by way of consolation, 92 new carriages will be added to the network in 2009.

The site contains information about how services will be affected by the works and currently notes that:

From 14 December 2008 and through 2009, there will be no cross-London Thameslink route service between London Bridge / Herne Hill and St Pancras International from 10.30pm to 4.30am, Mondays to Fridays, and during most weekends.

The cross-London route will also be suspended some weekends in the run-up to December.

Holistic therapy centre repossessed

The 'holistic' treatment centre on the corner of Brockley Road and Cranfield Road has closed. The closure is a shame, but, like the former Brockley Cross beauty salon Yana, its continued presence on the high-street in defiance of a lack of any visible custom, was one of Brockley's long-running mysteries.

It leaves empty one of the most desirable commercial spots on this stretch of Brockley Road, which admittedly isn't necessarily saying a great deal.

The Sum of All Fears

"What we need to do is create a powerful sense of dread. See, the longer the note, the more dread."
- Super-Hans

We've received this news from FabHat, who is fully aware that she is providing an open goal for the anonymous satirists who keep themselves endlessly amused by attacking Brockley's 'mung-bean' culture:

"The Entente Chorale. Choirs from Northern France will be coming to sing with London's political choirs plus a few singers from other English choirs. There will be a free public concert on Saturday 6th December at Myatt Garden Primary School, Rokeby Road, Brockley, SE4 starting at 8pm. This will degenerate into an informal social - probably ending in more singing."

We have to confess that listening to a Socialist Choir singing songs about the World Trade Organisation is not our idea of a good time (and it clashes with X Factor) but it's all part of Brockley's rich tapestry.

Forest Hill: Stag Don't

There are lots of brownfield sites in Lewisham which don't adjoin beautiful woodland. The protestors objecting to the development of new housing in Forest Hill happen to think it's better to start on those areas, before bulldozing this spot, which also happens to be an important home to man's best friend, the stag beetle.

We think they have a point.

If you want to know more and join the petition, please click here.

The Broca Food Market, 209-211 Mantle Road

The Broca Food Market, west of the station, is finally opening for business.

The sister business to The Broca cafe, its contents have remained a closely-guarded secret until now, but owner Erin has finally spilled the beans. It will be a "community green grocers and grocery store, selling a load of delicious fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs and milk from a kent farm co-op."

Its official opening is December 13th to coincide with the Christmas market on Coulgate Street.

The chip and pin machine isn't up and running yet, so it's cash only until the 13th.

Brockley Christmas Market, December 13th


Des from the Brockley Cross Action Group (BXAG) has written regarding the Christmas Market. He says:

"The final pieces of the jigsaw have been fitted and the Brockley Christmas Market is now a reality.

"It was very much touch and go for several weeks when we were told that we could not use Coulgate St as Network Rail contractors would be closing the street from the beginning of December. Other possible options were explored and eliminated, but a last minute change of plan means that the construction work is now delayed until January and we have the "green light" for the market.

"Last year's was good (about 1700 people attended), this year will be better. We are providing more stalls and live music throughout the afternoon culminating in a 'Switch on of the Brockley lights by actor Patrick Baladi [Neil from The Office and former flatmate of a friend of BC's] and a festive choir in front of the Brockley Barge.

"John Stainer School are working with the BXAG and will be providing part of the live music (a band composed of teachers & parents) and we have incorporated plenty of interest for children including lantern making and Santa and his elves in the grotto."

Des doesn't add whether the controversial "green" Father Christmas suit will return.

It means more because you made it yourself

Brockley Stone Circle, Moonlight - by Leo Stevenson, one of the gallery's member artists

Brockley will get an early Christmas present this year, when the long-awaited Tea Factory gallery opens for business.

After 14 months of hard work by volunteers (and the occasional setback), the Tea Leaf Arts group will open the 65 square-metre exhibition space to the public on December 6th at 10am.

The gallery will be run as a co-operative, staffed by members, meaning that visitors will be able to discuss the work on display with the creators.

Boris bins c-charge extension

"Nihilists! F#@k me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."
- Walter Sobchack

In a move that will surprise no-one, Boris has announced he will scrap the western extension to the congestion charge from spring 2010. The NIMBY's NIMBY, he has once again proven himself to be very adept at not doing things.

If only we hadn't spent so long this morning sourcing quotes from the Big Lebowksi we would have some time to write about this topic. But we're sure some will have strong feelings about it nonetheless...

Where's the money, Lebowski?

Following the recent debate about this year's £10,000 localities fund, here's how it went down.

  • £200 to the Christmas Market
  • £500 to provide a Council services workshop for local people
  • £500 to find out if, where and how a community orchard could be created in Brockley
  • £1,500 to support and grow the Fun Run
  • £1,500 to create a street party
  • £3,300 for our friends the trees
  • £2,000 contribution towards improvements for Friendly Street Gardens
  • £500 for the Brockley MAX
So trees came out on top again, reflecting the balance of opinion on this site. The orchard was a project that got lots of people excited but now needs some more investigation before further funds could be committed. The Brockley burghers have also managed to support the existing local events calendar and a brand new one in the shape of a street party.

The meeting was attended by about 12 people and a general consensus was developed around the ideas. We understand that Ladywell have matched our figures for the fun run & brockley max.
There is a budget of at least £3,300 for new street trees, which will buy around 12-15 for the local area. Residents will be asked to submit nominations for individual spots that are most in need and the sites will be surveyed by Lewisham's tree experts for suitability. In the new year all suitable sites will be discussed with residents and the trees should be in by the spring.
Cllr Dean Walton said:
"A great range of existing and new ideas that should benefit from this year's Localities Fund. The fun starts on 13 December with the Brockley Christmas Market, a good 5 months to get in training for the Fun Run. Along the way we'll investigating whether we can have a community orchard in Brockley."
"Local residents will have a real say in identifying where the new trees will be planted both by nominating sites for consideration and then real participation in which of the suitable sites will actually get new trees. If all goes to plan there's every chance that the new trees will be in the ground by the spring."
"On behalf of the Brockley Councillors, I would like to thank the Brockley Central team and contributors for their help in getting the message about the Localities Fund out and about. Next year the Brockley Assembly will have to take a decision about how to spend Brockley's £50,000. I look forward to your input into that."

The Brockley Cross Shuffle

"The classical model of rational expectations may be a worthwhile theoretical hypothesis, but does not describe the real world very well."

A while back, we wondered aloud how smart Brockley Cross landlords were. They priced-out the incumbent flower shop, Nicki Fianders, in the hope of attracting higher-paying tennants to a failing stretch of shops bordering the double roundabout.

It is now six months since the old shop closed and, despite a makeover, there is still no new shop in place (six months lost rent). But now, finally, it is being fitted out. Ominously, the workmen have just installed a glass screen (complete with a little slot) over the new counter. It's doubtful that any business requiring an impenetrable barrier between shopkeeper and customer is going to take the area upmarket in the way that the landlords perhaps imagined when they evicted the florist. Still, the new owners will doubtless be able to swap customer-care tips with 'Duke' opposite.

Meanwhile, the old Nicki Fianders sign has appeared above the neighbouring shop, previously occupied by the now-defunct Yana, through whose doors we never saw a single customer pass.

Greenwich Park and the 2012 Olympics

Greenwich is London's greatest park. It offers the best views in London, houses some of the city's most important historical buildings, is framed on all sides by beauty and offers a stunning undulating landscape of almost infinite variety.

We grew up next door to it and have spent more time in it than any other public space we can think of. We remember one particularly fierce winter when people flocked to the slope in front of General Woolfe with their sleds, plastic bags, tin trays to take advantage of huge snow drifts. That day was the first time we ever saw a pair of skis. We remember how upset we were when the snow cleared to reveal a muddy brown gash that we thought would never be repaired.

We love Greenwich Park and we hate to see it come to harm. We hope we've made that point clear.

The campaign group No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events (NOGOE) is opposed to Greenwich Park being used as an Olympic venue and has come up with almost as many objections to the plans as we've had emails and leaflets telling us about the impending destruction of the park we hold so dear.

Here are their concerns in brief:

1. The park will be damaged by the event and that the cross country race route will go through sensitive parts of the park
2. Parts of the park will be closed for months in the build up to the games to allow for the construction of a temporary venue
3. The whole park will be closed to non-ticket-holders for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympics
4. There will be traffic congestion in Greenwich during the Games
5. The Park is small compared with venues for previous Games
6. There will be no tangible legacy from the Games for the park

Consequently, they want the event to be held in someone else's back yard.

At yesterday's public consultation in Greenwich Park we spoke with a LOCOG official whom we know from our previous job. In response to points 1-3 this is what she said:

1. LOCOG will be working with the Royal Parks to ensure that damage is minimal - some low branches along the course will need to go, but the long-term effects on the park will be negligible. The route isn't fixed and it's likely that they will avoid the flower garden, which seems to be the primary concern of many who've raised this issue

2. A small part of the park on the north side will be closed for several months before the Games. But the rest of the park will remain open as usual

3. All true and unavoidable for logistical and security reasons

These three issues are really the crux of the matter. The loss of our park for a month in four year's time seems a reasonable price to pay - everyone will have plenty of time to work out how to find Blackheath or Hilly Fields by then. As for the damage, well the Park has coped with film festivals and marathons in the past and the sledge-ruined slope did recover. Greenwich will also recover from this.

The other points are all irrelevant distractions or part of a much wider question of whether you want London 2012 at all.

Regarding point 4, it's true that London's entire road system will be redrawn for the duration of the Games and this is likely to have all kinds of interesting knock-on effects for the city. Greenwich will not be alone and nor is severe congestion in Greenwich unusual. The Games are timed to take place in the holidays, which - as previous Games have shown - usually tempers the effects of a Games. Likewise, non-Games tourists usually arrange their trips to host cities to avoid the Olympics, so the net effect on visitor numbers for this period is minimal.

Point 5 seems particularly silly. Blogs like this one are suddenly fretting about what the international equestrian authorities may or may not think of the plans. If the IOC (who are not renowned for letting host nations offer sub-standard venues) are happy with it, that should be enough for us to discount the argument.

As for point 6...

During the bidding process, Paris was the favourite and most Londoners we met were inclined to believe the bookie's verdict. The UK had submitted half-arsed bids from Birmingham and Manchester in the past and lost by a mile. The same would happen with London.

Paris was promising to stage the beach volleyball competition beneath the Eiffel Tower - what could London offer that was so dramatic? Well, one of the answers was that Greenwich - a world heritage site - would host the equestrian events. Not quite as iconic perhaps, but a far more lovely setting. Together with Wimbledon, Wembley and Lords, Greenwich was part of a package that showed London was serious about staging the Games and putting on an event that would show the city and the Olympics in the best possible light.

So when we received the first of the many emails and leaflets we've had from protesters about the plans, which allege serious damage to the park with "no tangible legacy", our response has to be: "Apart from hosting the Olympics on our doorstep you mean?"

So what if they aren't offering us the sop of some new park benches? What does that matter compared with showing the world how beautiful south east London is or being able to take our kids to the Games or tell our grandchildren about the brief moment where the world came to play in our park?

If you don't believe in the romance of the Games and want something more tangible then how about the massive international media exposure that Greenwich will be given, the number of tourist itineraries it will appear on and the opportunity for the borough to refer to itself as 'Olympic' forever more.

Still not bricks and mortar enough for you? The massive regeneration of East London simply wouldn't have happened without the Olympic catalyst. Anyone who believes it would have gone ahead anyway should consider the fate of Lewisham Gateway. Without Greenwich as part of the bid, our initial case would have been that bit less compelling - we may not even have been awarded the Games.

There are plenty of people who don't like the Olympics and don't think we should be hosting it. We get that. But that argument's moot, to say the least. It's happening. The question now is how we make the most of it.

Here's what we think should happen:

  • The equestrian events should remain in Greenwich Park and we should all learn to love it and make the most of this extraordinary opportunity
  • Campaigners should be consulted on how to manage the event as sensitively as possible, maximising access and minimising impact
  • The course should be changed to avoid the flower gardens - easily done according to LOCOG
  • LOCOG should offer some more tickets to local people - ideally via the local state schools
  • Local campaigners should switch their focus to working out how we can secure some physical improvements to the park or the surrounding area in return for losing the use of our park for a few weeks in four years' time

Brockley in the media: The Sunday Times' "Buying and Selling"

A Brockley flat features in a piece on buying houses at auction in today's Sunday Times.

The writer visits places in Kilburn, Crystal Palace and Camberwell, before coming to her senses and checking out SE4:

"The third property I singled out was a lower-ground-floor flat in Brockley, a short drive to the southeast. It was on Wickham Road, a beautiful street lined with oak trees and impressive Grade II-listed homes. A five-minute walk from Brockley station (a stop on the East London Line extension, due to open in 2010), the flat was in a Victorian brick house with a jolly red staircase."

But like many Brockley landlords, the owner hadn't bothered to do some basic improvements before putting it on the market:

"It was not quite so jolly inside: the walls were filthy and cracked, and the smell of damp was overpowering. The flat had gone on the market at £190,000 in March, but was going to auction with a guide price of £110,000-£120,000. The owners, who lived in the country and had been letting out the flat, appeared to have put little effort into making it attractive to potential buyers. The ceilings were fairly high for a lower-ground-floor flat and most of the problems were cosmetic: the kitchen cupboards were filthy, while the garish bathroom decor, all fake marble tiles, dirty pink cupboards and swirly bronze handles, made me want to run a mile.

"Dealing with all this would cost a lot of money, but given that one-bed flats in the area sell for upwards of £180,000, it still seemed a good deal..."

And guess what? The flat failed to reach its reserve price at auction. So instead of a property supplement writer living in the area, we have an empty, mildewed husk.

As an anon points out in 'Suggest a Topic', the final twist is an apocalyptic note from a 'former estate agent', who took a folder of hyperbole with him when he cleared his desk:

"I wouldn't waste your hard earned cash on areas like Brockley. Wait another year and you will find you can afford Clapham and Battersea. Wait another two years and you will find you can afford to move to Fulham. Happy hunting from a former estate agent.
Lawrence, London, UK"

Brockley Central moonlighting

We promise this is the last thing connected to our day job that we plug for a good long while, but if you've been wondering why recent entries have been a little light on prose and you're hungry for more, then allow us to introduce C&binet, where we'll be blogging from time to time.

C&binet is a project we've been working on for a while, helping to set up a new network for creative business people, starting with these people. And who's better-qualified to do that than a resident of the creative cluster that is SE4?

Writing for the c&binet blog versus Brockley Central has the advantage that we will actually be working, rather than simply pretending to work while nervously looking over our shoulder.

Although we will have to drop the "Brockley" bit from our pen name, we'll be trying to find a way to crowbar Brockley in to articles about IP protection and new business models for creative content owners. Wish us luck.

Brockley Mick

We've copied this conversation from the increasingly-unwieldy "Suggest a Topic" section. It was prompted by our prospective neighbour michael, whose enthusiasm is very moving! Welcome to Brockley...

I am about to move into area and am very excited about it. Could the good people of Brockley suggest their three favourite things to do in Brockley. Many thanks Michael (soon to be Brockley resident)
20 November 2008 10:51

Tyrwhitt Michael said...
Hooray At last someone to break the BNP monopoly and another Michael at that. Here we go with the first nominations1. Walk across Hilly Fields2. Drink and Quiz at the Wickham3. Shop in Deptford MarketLast one strictly not in Brockley but within walking distance of my end. Next nominations...........


Bea said...
Here's mine ...- the leafy streets and houses of the Conservation area (incl. walks across Hilly Fields)- shopping in places like Degustantion and Shop on the Hill- coffee / meals with friends in Toads Mouth Too or Aquarium and drinks at Jam CircusNext ...
20 November 2008 11:38

Lady said...
1. Sit down on Hilly Fields, maybe fall asleep if it's sunny enough(also remember the first Sat of every month for your baked goods (farmer's market)2. Browse and treat yourself at Mr. Lawrence's wine emporium3. Eat at Mezze Mangal or Longtimeand generally, 4. Try not to waste hours of your life on this blog
20 November 2008 11:40

lb said...
Mine are exactly the same as Lady's, although I tend to avoid the baked goods stall at the farmers market after witnessing a really unseemly, yet incredibly middle-class, bit of indignation over some quiche in the queue in front of me.Meze Mangal is well worth a look, as is Mr Lawrence.
20 November 2008 11:44

Tressilliana said...
1. Hill walking in SE4: you could do a good circular walk starting from Hilly Fields, going down to Blythe Hill Fields, possibly via the cemetery for part of the way, and then over to One Tree Hill and (for the truly energetic) home via Telegraph Hill. Lots of good views along the way and the autumn colours are great at the moment.2. Eating out: good recommendations above. For fish and chips (take-away only) try Fishy Business at the Brockley Road end of Harefield Road. Le Querce just south of Crofton Park is great. So is the Babur which is nearly opposite.3. Brockley Jack film club. We've only been once so far but plan to go again soon.
20 November 2008 11:54

brockleybiker said...
Experiance the crazy joy of Brockley X roundabout with its swiftly changing priorities.Another vote for Lawrences and Hilly Fields.
20 November 2008 11:57

fabhat said...
1.Hilly Fields in every season: favorites including the bench at the top with the wonderful views of south london, and the vicar's hill side secret trapeze bar suspended in a tree.2. Meze Mangal - friendly people and tasty food to eat in or takeaway.3. Walking along the wide, tree-lined streets and imagining the previous lives of the ginormous houses, on the way to a nice local drink at the toads mouth, or moonbow jakes...
20 November 2008 12:02

fabhat said...
On Le Querce - I went there last night and it was all very nice - lovely friendly service and very tasty and generous food - but the most suprising thing is the ice cream/sorbet menu. Flavours included: Garlic, aubergine, saffron, parsley or rocket, melon and cinnamon, banana ginger and cardomon and what was agreed to be the winner, strawberry and balsamic vinegar sorbet. Amazing!
20 November 2008 12:05

Tressillian James said...
1) Hilly Fields and the streets around2) the second hand clothes shop on Malpas way - real vintage stuff in good nick - and the lady was nice last time I was there.3)this isn't strictly Brcokley but it's what I love about it - the convenience of being near Greenwich, Blackheath, Lewisham, Deptford (inlcuding Wellbeloved's butchers) and only 10 mins or so from London Bridge. So after work or out in the city I can be back home quicker than friends schlepping it on the Northern line
20 November 2008 12:14

Brockley Broadband

No doubt frustrated at having to argue with Brockley residents at dial-up speeds, Chris has emailed to ask this question of BC readers:

"I live on Aspinall Road and I couldn't find any info on when/where/at some unspecified future date, we in Brockley might get fibre optic cable in our streets. Does anyone know? We are hoping to get faster broadband connection but find the adsl is very slow round here."

Please give concise answers to save the download time...

Cats: Lost and Found


A Brockley Fox (but not one of The Brockley Foxes) writes:

This cat has been seen in braxfield road over the last few weeks. I have lived here for 2 years now, and have never seen it before. It doesn;t appear to have a home, is getting thinner, and always seems to be outside whatever the time of day or the weather. It's very friendly, and my housemates and I have started feeding it, and giving it shelter.

Natrually we are keen to find its owners, or at least find somewhere that can deal with these things. Could you put a post on broc central please? perhaps someone in the area can shed some light?

We don't want to turn Brockley Central in to kitty corner, but this cat clearly needs a break and the poster made us laugh.

Transpontine: Brockley a no-BNP zone

Transpontine 's just searched the leaked BNP membership database and come to the same conclusions we did - Brockley is BNP-free. Ladywell and Crofton Park also yielded zero returns.

This heartening news offsets the fact that an extremely rude bloke we witnessed swearing at a couple of old ladies at our tube station ended up getting off the same train as us at Brockley tonight.

[Edit: we've found just one with an SE4 post code]

Brockley Ward £10K killer question

Cllr Dean Walton has kindly sent Brockley Central the details of each of the Localities Fund applications, which will be discussed this eventing at St John's Church. Your feedback and poll votes will be very welcome and will be fed in to the meeting before any decisions are taken.

On initial inspection, all the ideas seem to have some merit in our view - except number 7.

Here's Dean's note:

In no particular order, here are the proposals for this year’s Localities Fund. ‘Community Cohesion’ has really taken off as a theme this year which is very interesting.

1. Brockley Fun Run. This event received some money from the Localities Fund last year. The applicants say “The Fun Run was a real success last year and we need to create a bigger splash this year. It highlights the beauty of our local parks while raising awareness of the support it needs to create a better public space. We let the children under 12 run free to help engage the local schools. It also brings together two sides of Brockley, Brockley Cross and Ladywell to create better relations within the community. Last year, outsider runners accounted for 17% of runners as we are a certified runners world hill run. It creates a great PR opportunity for everyone in Brockley to use, as well as make people in Brockley feel like they are involved in their community.”

2. Brockley Christmas Market. Fairly self explanatory but the applicants say the benefits of the event to the local community “By encouraging people to shop locally. To demonstrate to stall-holders that there is a demand for a wider range of products and stimulate them towards opening retail premises locally.”

3. Brockley Max Festival. Taken straight from the application form “The Brockley Max has been running for 7 years and has proved very popular & successful in bringing the community together to develop, explore and celebrate the creativity in Brockley.” The applicants also provided some totally non-biased comments from local people about previous festivals – “‘Brockley Max was amazing! Brockley rocked large! Thanks to all the BMax crew for making all happen so beautifully - what an incredible accomplishment - and the fire works...WOW! What a fantastic part of town this is...!’ ‘I am just emailing to say congratulations and thank you so much for organizing the fantastic Brockley Max festival last Saturday and last week. Thank you very much for the memories and best of luck for the future!’

4. Street Garden/Party and other events in Brockley A series of events within the Brockley ward which promote cultural exchange across the communities in Brockley.The main event would be a street/garden party in Wickham Gardens. There would be satellite 'freecycle events', a free exchange car boot fair where people who wish to get rid of household items could freely exchange in a fun setting. We would engage an arts and crafts specialist to run an large "Art attack" style sculpture made of recycled/used materials from the ward.

5. Friendly Street Gardens/Brookmill Park Additional improvements to Friendly Street Gardens/Brookmill Park ideas. There is a programme to improve the park significantly over the winter, the fund could provide additional improvements such as a contribution to a trim trail or other equipment in the park.

6. Street trees – last year we planted a number of trees in Brockley. Street trees provided by Lewisham come with a proper guard and a watering and replacement programme in their first few years. They cost more than trees from garden centres but should last longer.

7. Additional publicity for the Brockley Assembly. The turnout at the last Assembly was lower than expected. Do people think it’s worthwhile to consider spending some money on publicising the Assembly further, or should we look to redouble our efforts through more informal networks and the like.

8. Paving Outside Brockley Road Post Office. Since the recycling binds were (thankfully removed) and the trees (from your localities fund) planted the pavements have been shown to be rather stained. If possible, would it be a good spend of money to bring the pavements up to scratch quicker than might occur under the usual replacement programme for Lewisham.

9. Council Services Workshop Organise a council services workshop to empower residents to become best ‘community activists’ by informing how best to contact the council and other organisations, how to complain and how to best get issues actioned and resolved. Knowing who , what and when. Lee Green Assembly has organised a social event -http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NewsAndEvents/News/LeeGreenAssemblySocial.htm

10. Community orchard - may need to do some work on the site but find a site, plant some trees and within a year or two free fruit for local people; combine with a school perhaps to provide a means of guaranteeing the upkeep of the orchard over the years.

11. Music club/ clubs - mainly aimed at young people but suggested by one of Lewisham’s community wardens - guitar tuition, song writing tuition making and recording, making and recording own music, performing live to young people.


Some of the ideas proposed above may need a bit of further refinement, or it may be that in fact it’s not cash that’s need but the right combination of people. Your thoughts and contributions will be really useful to the local Councillors and Co-Ordinating Group who will be meeting at St John’s Church on Monday.

Applicants and any local people are very welcome to attend and contribute.

The Telegraph Hill Festival - planning meeting

The initial planning meeting for the 2009 Telegraph Hill Festival is happening tomorrow, November 17th at 8pm, at the Centre Lounge.

The Festival will take place March 13th - 22nd 2009 but the work starts now.

Sara Scott, Chair of the Festival says:

"We don't need a commitment from anyone at this stage, but if you have the beginnings of a new idea for the Festival come along and talk to those who can make it a reality.

"Or, if you want to help out or you're curious as to how it all works, please come along anyway. Everyone's welcome."

Dandelion Blue for sale [updated]

As has already been discussed in mournful tones elsewhere on the site, Dandelion Blue's lease is for sale.

The Coulgate Street shop placed an ad for its lease in the window a few days ago and we confirmed with the staff that the managers are trying to sell the place as a going concern. While we fret about the potential loss of a place that sells yummy stuff and lifts our spirits every time we come out of the station, the guys working there are concerned about their jobs.

We've not yet heard from the owners what has prompted this move, but obviously it's a very difficult climate for any small business to operate in. It appears to get regular footfall and we know we've put lots of our own money where our mouth is when it comes to supporting local businesses. Since it opened, we've always used it as a case study; as evidence that people in Brockley will shop local if they're offered the opportunity.

We hope that - as with Moonbow Jakes - if a sale does take place, it's to someone who wants to retain the good things about the place, while injecting new energy.

UPDATED

Owner Sandra has written to us to explain more:

We are closing Dandelion Blue at the end of January or it may possibly be sold before then.

This is because Pete is looking to move back to Scotland for personal reasons. I don't have the extra capital to buy him out, so unfortunately the shop will have to be closed / sold on.

The recession really has not had an input into the decision, in fact in this uncertain economic climate we are finding that we are getting busier as people look to treating themselves with drinks, food etc....rather than going out to bars, restaurants and the like. And as Christmas approaches, we have naturally seen increased footfall in the store.

Brockley twinned with East Manchester

Brockley Central has been doing a bit of work for Manchester City Football Club recently and we are hoping to pluck up the courage at some point to ask for an interview with Brockley's first son, Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is back in East Manchester, enjoying his football again.

The club will be giving the stadium a major makeover next year and has asked fans to contribute their memories of their first City game via a website. The best entries will then be immortalised with giant quotes and photography which will fill the stadium concourses.

So this part shameless plug for the site and part curiousity as to whether we have any Manchester City fans on Brockley Central - or anyone who grew up with Wright-Phillips?

Brockley Central Label Cloud