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.

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

Possibly a taxi office or a 24 hour shop?

Any alternative to the inside-out prison that is Dukes may be a good thing.

fred vest said...

nick what made you think that the landlords had a desire to take the place upmarket?

Brockley Nick said...

Upmarket in the literal sense. They wanted more money for their shop rent.

They also invested a certain amount in a modest refurbishment and at one point had slightly more ambitious plans.

Brockley Nick said...

Upmarket in the literal sense. They wanted more money for their shop rent.

They also invested a certain amount in a modest refurbishment and at one point had slightly more ambitious plans.

fred vest said...

that makes more sense

saying that i'm sure a bookies probably makes more than a florists, so places with a glass screen seperating customer from shopkeeper can take the place 'upmarket' (in your terminology)

Brockley Nick said...

Sure. I'm not stupid enough to believe that an offshore landlord of a corner shop gives a damn about anything other than yield. They obviously can't be a bookie. A taxi office is possible I suppose, but parking is an issue. maybe they'll be getting more rent but I doubt it and even then, would it compensate for more than half a year's lost income?

Monkeyboy said...

I thought it was going to be a Western Union wire transfer type place?

Brockley Nick said...

Also quite possible (I don't think those businesses are gold mines) - that speculation was on the strength of a western union sticker briefly appearing in the window. But then the window was also chock full of posters for zippos circus, so who knows?!

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

What a relief to see I'm not the only numpty that does multiple posts...

Paddyom said...

This topic has just given me the idea to go and check out some of the shops down at Brockley Cross at the weekend. I rarely venture past the station (Toad Mouth) junction so its relatively new terratory for me.

Anyone able to reccommend any 'must visit' shops or eateries down that end of Brockley? (aka 'The Bronx' in my place of employment where everyone else lives in places like Henley-on-Thames)

fred vest said...

" maybe they'll be getting more rent but I doubt it and even then, would it compensate for more than half a year's lost income?"

we're not here to speculate nick

Tressillian James said...

Paddyom - if you go down there then follow the round round into Malpas round. There is a very interesting vintage clothes shop there.

Hugh said...

What on earth is a theoretical hypothesis?

nobbly brick said...

Its what developers postulate when they consider the potential of Lewisham - ie, pie in the sky

Anonymous said...

A "lawyer" who doesn't know what a theoretical hypothesis is, bizare as law is based on one!

Brockley Nick said...

Speculating about a deal done by an anonymous, uncontactable investment fund's business model: fine.

Speculating about a small business, when the owners live locally and know many of us personally and deal with us all on a daily basis and who have already had the courtesy to provide us with a perfectly reasonable explanation for their actions: not nice.

Wild Bill said...

Paddyom, buy some crisps from the Brockley Cross Supermarket and have a chuckle at the certificate behind the counter proudly pronouncing that they have been awarded a "poor" rating in hygiene standards.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've never understood - why is it empty but otherwise locked-up shop premises always have circus adverts in them? I mean who the hell manages to get in them to stick them up?

Hugh said...

Anon, get some basic literacy under your belt and we'll chat. There's a good boy.

(And you completely missed my point. So perhaps an IQ injection would help.)

Brockley Nick said...

I can't understand why anyone ever doubted that you are the same Hugh you've always been!

fred vest said...

so nick, speculation about your mates who've you've had a natter with isn't allowed, speculation about others who you havn't fine. roger that.

on other matters - the 'theoretical' does seem a bit redundant, as if the hypothesis wasn't theoretical but actually proven it wouldn't be a hypothesis anymore surely

nobbly brick said...

Yes, that "Speculating about a small business" etc is food and drink to many people here, whether its slagging off proposed nurseries, proposed bookmakers, existing signage over minicab offices, shops with 'a glass screen'...

Businesses fuel demand, if the demand isn't there then the business fails, if the demand is there then the business, if nothing else, survives. How long as Dukes been there? It obviously supplies a need, although perhaps not the need desired by the minority of Brockley residents, that of middle class aspiration and the mirror of consumerism that that demands.

Headhunter said...

No I still maintain current Hugh is different to Hugh of yore. Not that I have a problem with that, but something's not right...

Fred - I wouldn't worry about the big faceless enterprise which owns the ex-florists, I doubt they even read this blog so I shouldn't think there's any need to worry about what we say about them. However the presence of the circus posters indicates that someone comes round now and then. I assume the posters are dropped in the letterbox and then someone is actually community minded enough to stick them in the window.

drakefell debaser said...

Could it be a bank? It’s a decent location for one.

On the subject of banking, is there any more news on the free hole in the wall machine that was talked about a few weeks ago?

nobbly brick said...

There used to be a NatWest bank in the nice building next to the wood yard - not sure what it is now, haven't been by that way for some time, but from memory it was used to be used for some kind of religious devotion, I may be wrong.

fred vest said...

in recent times those two things are fairly interchangable activities

fred vest said...

"on other matters - the 'theoretical' does seem a bit redundant, as if the hypothesis wasn't theoretical but actually proven it wouldn't be a hypothesis anymore surely"

God I even bore myself sometimes - no wonder I'm so lonely.

Brockley Nick said...

If that's how you want to read it Fred, fine. ;)

Anonymous said...

It's oxymoronic, that's what it is.

fred vest said...

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Anonymous said...

How does Hugh know that Anon is a boy?

lb said...

I'm still marvelling at the idea that Brockley Cross might have any 'must-visit' destinations.

There's quite an interesting patch of different-coloured bricks on the side of the Tea Factory, if you'd like a tour of Great Locations That Have Caused Arguments on Brockley Central (admittedly, it hasn't been at the top of the agenda for a while).

patrick1971 said...

"How long as Dukes been there? It obviously supplies a need, although perhaps not the need desired by the minority of Brockley residents, that of middle class aspiration and the mirror of consumerism that that demands."

Gosh, I didn't realise that disliking a shop that's unplesant and unwelcoming means I'm pro-consumerism. I suppose it follows that if one is anti-consumerism, one would want shops to be as unwelcoming as possible.

I also dislike the nearby barber shop which seems to "supply the need" for a meeting place for aggressive, intimidating yoof and subsequent anti-social behaviour. How terribly middle class of me; I do apologise.

patrick1971 said...

Great Locations That Have Caused Arguments on Brockley Central

1. Speedicars sign
2. Portland bookmakers
3. Bricks on Tea Factory
4. Demolished house on (?) Manor Avenue
5. Railings outside the Barge
6. Skips outside the post office
7. MOT garage with key painted on the side
8. Fridge, washing machine & cooker shop near Braxfield Road
9. Cleared greenery in Brockley Cemetery
10. Dark Side Chinese take away
11. Saigon Blues sign
12. Trees (or lack thereof) outside Lewisham College

Any more for any more?

Anonymous said...

Brothels, gambling dens, gangsters. Brockley Cross has seen it all.

Wild Bill said...

patrick1971 - In what way are you intimidated by the barbers shop? I've walked past it every day for the past 4 years at all time of day / night and never seen any anti-social behaviour.

Nats bake and juice does lovely chicken. Dukes is really useful after hours. Tony's Plaice is friendly and does good quality chips. Brockley Cross is great. Why is everyone on this blog obsessed with gentrifying the area? Not everyone is a fan of the Toads Mouth, or the stupid shops opposite the station, but they don't go on the internet sneering about the people who find that those places "supply a need".

I think I saw a diagram someone had made on this blog a while back of how they thought the Cross could be improved. It involved a little park in place of that small parking triangle outside the launderette (whose recent closure I haven't notice anyone crying about on this blog - shame as it was a great business and provided good services).

A little park??

Get real.

nobbly brick said...

You're right with your comments wild bill, but I wasn't sneering with my 'supply a need' comment, I was simply stating a fact that seems obvious to me.

And, I am not obsessed with gentrifying the area either, in fact, I don't live in 'the area' but still within the brockley conservation area.

I haven't been in the Toads Mouth either, come to think of it, I haven't been in any shop in Brockley except Homeview, when it was there.

RANT said...

I don't live in Islington, because I don't want to live Islington. People need to realise they are onto a good thing in Brockley and start appreciating it for what it is rather than criticising it for what it isn't.
We don't have many fancy shops nearby, but we have Greenwich, Blackheath, Dulwich with all that a short trek away and we are in Zone 2, 10 mins to London or get on a plane, from easy to reach Gatwick.

Brockley is a lovely green area, great architecture, diversity, very little showy offness,. Appreciate the place for heaven's sake

Nina said...

I would like a little park, I walk through Brockley Cross everyday and it would be nice to have something for pedestrians that wasn't grey or a car. There is a little tree on the corner of Geoffrey Road and Upper Brockley that I appreciate quite a lot, in spring there are daffodills at its base and it makes it that bit cheerier. Sadly I think it is a taxi place that's opening on the corner and I think the taxis are going where the little park would be.

patrick1971 said...

wild Bill, maybe I'm out of date as I've not been past the barber at night for some time now, but you used to go by there after dark and there would always be a big gang of kids (age 11-16) just hanging out, half-in, half-out the shop, taking over the whole pavement and generally behaving in an intimidating way. Maybe that's all stopped now? Haven't noticed any trouble in the day, which to be fair I should have stated.

The whole issue with "filling a need" is an interesting one. Tower blocks fill a need for housing, but who wants to actually live in one?

Ditto the point about appreciating Brockley for what it is. I understand what you're saying, but if everyone followed this advice nothing would ever change. Criticising the negative thinngs about Brockley doesn't mean we don't appreciate the positive; after all, we've all chosen to live here for a reason.

patrick1971 said...

It'll be interesting to see if a taxi firm can make money at Brockley Cross. There is the very well-established Speedicars just round the corner (maybe they will blame their subsequent loss of revenue on their reduced signage, haha), and also Crofton Park Cars just down the road. How many taxis does one area need?

nobbly brick said...

"Tower blocks fill a need for housing, but who wants to actually live in one?"

Actually, Lewisham Council, Barratts and TaylorWimpy, to name but three, think that the public is clamouring to live in tower blocks.

Brockley Nick said...

Wild Bill. That was my suggestion of a little bit of green space where currently there are cars stacked three deep. There's nothing unrealistic about that, nor would it change the character of the area, it would just provide a bit of green relief from the traffic and cars. This attitude that it's somehow irredeemably bourgeouis to want a bit of greenery for our streets is patronising and narrowminded.

As for the launderette, its closure did get a mention by people on this site, although its departure was not mourned so much as regretted because they closed up shop without warning, leaving a lot of people struggling to collect their clothes. My understanding is that it's undergoing a change of management but will remain a dry cleaners.

I agree with you about Tony's cafe and fish and chip shop.

Osh said...

Trees and grass? They're just for toffs! "Real" people want squalor and tarmac and they hate change!

What's that? Working class people like parks and green spaces too? Oh.

RANT said...

All that this middle class sneering is doing, is making this site, dislikeable, the people that post need to remember alot more people read this site than comment upon it and they will be reading some of these comments and observing the entitled attitudes that some display, and think well forget them, let's not bother with Brockley.

A lot that post here, don't do much for the community or for others, but sit there and whine about how this place is not like somewhere else. Brockley is made up of all sorts of people. It is not a solidly middle class area, this is precisely why many of you can afford live here in nice Victorian flats and houses. Have some humility.

nobbly brick said...

I'm all for as much green as possible and I have been vocal, in other formum, of how much green space is being lost in Central Lewisham (and what 'open space' is given back is usually paved), but I do wonder how small an area can be turned over to make it 'green'. How small can an area be to effectively be a 'park'? I suspect that the area Nick has earmarked is far too small and far too exposed a situation to make it worthwhile.

That's not to say it shouldn't be in some way recreational rather than hard standing for cars. Paved and benched might be good, but again too open.

What about paved, benched and some kind of newsagent/sundry goods kiosk like are common on the continent? This would offer some degree of screening from the road as well.

Headhunter said...

It always makes me laugh that some people here seem to perceive themselves as oh so working class and gritty and reject any kind of facility for anyone who wants anything other than chicken n chips in a cardboard box.

YOU'RE the ones who need to "get real"! People here discuss thoughts on how to improve the area in their opinion, if you have something constructive to say, say it, rather than rubbishing anything beyond crappy corner shops and fish n chip caffs.

If you want gritty, go up north - Bradford's a good place. You can wallow in "working class" squalor to yer heart's content.

And I for one love Brockley, I very much appreciate it, its location/convenience, its architecture and community spirit. But I don't necessarily think it's absolutely perfect.

Headhunter said...

NB - I think the original suggestion actually was not for a park, but more a paved area for some seating and planting boxes.

Of course it's way too small for a park, but IMO it would be better than yet another spot dominated by motor vehicles (along with the numerous garages and the traffic itself bombing through the double roundabouts.

nobbly brick said...

from 'Brockley Cross' 4.4.08:

"We asked why the kerbs couldn't be joined up and the parking space turned in to a little park."

Brockley Nick said...

Nobbly, what you suggest is exactly what I had in mind. Not a "park" like Hyde Park, but just a little bit of a public space.

Anyway, the idea is apparently being considered by Council officers.

patrick1971 said...

When did the launderette close? Must have been very recently. I was at the Crofton Park launderette a couple of weeks ago on Sunday afternoon and a couple was directed up to Brockley Cross as they arrived too late at CP to do a load.

Has anyone else used the Crofton Park launderette? I was without a washing machine for a couple of weeks so I had to use it. Found the machines very poor - the spin cycle left your clothes still pretty wet, certainly needing at least a couple of shots in the dryer before they would be dry enough to hang on an airer to fully dry.

Tressilliana said...

I haven't had occasion to use a launderette for a long time but when I do (duvets) I use the one at the top of Brookbank Road round the corner from the bowling green. Good big driers.

If anybody ever needs a washing machine/dishwasher repair, I heartily recommend C A Gabriel Speedy Repairs at 116 Tressillian Road. He's really, really good at his work, ultra-reliable and a lovely man.

http://www.yell.com/listings/DoFindListings/459613/C.A-Gabriel/Electrical-Appliances-_-Repairs-and-Parts

Wild Bill said...

My point with the park was that it's location is totally inappropriate. It's a tiny area to the side of an extremely busy bit of road (during rush hour especially). No one's going to want to sit there and suck in car fumes when there are perfectly nice proper parks in walking distance.
It just seems that people's answer to everything here is to suggest a "nice park". An area doesn't have to be conventionally pretty to have charm. Neither do people for that matter (I am neither pretty or charming unfortunately).

I'm not trying to get in touch with working class culture so don't need to move to Bradford. I just like Brockley (all of it, the fancy bits and the not-so-fancy bits) for what it is on it's own terms, and certainly don't see any of it as squalid.

Anyway, didn't mean to jump down anyone's neck. It's the differences in Brockley that make it so charming IMO, so we should probably all have a big hug or summit.

kisses xx

Brockley Nick said...

Wild Bill, appreciate the clarification and I agree with you that it's unlikely to attract many sunbathers. Some decking, some vegetation, some windbreaks, etc would brighten up the area and help to attract businesses to an area which currently has a number of empty or effectively vacant shops. If nothing else, ridding the area of those extra cars would be a major improvement. It is not used by local residents and it is not used by customers for local shops.

Headhunter said...

Yeah I think a lot of the cars there, and along that end of Manor Ave, and UBR are probably commuters who drive as far as Brockley, park up and jump on the train in zone 2, which is far cheaper than say taking the train all the way from Kent.

drakefell debaser said...

Given the size of the area why not have an installation art piece there?

Anonymous said...

Someone deleted my post >:-(

Anonymous said...

drakefell debaser, is that an attempt to start another row? Excellent troll if it is :)

fred vest said...

wild bill speaks a lot of sense

(i wonder if calamity jane will turn up next)

Headhunter said...

I think it should be a mini speaker's corner for the opinionated of Brockley to opine to the masses on the way to and from the station. Art - excellent idea. Perhaps we could the "Angel of Brockley", or that student on Breakspears could stick his skip of flowers there or something...

Jesse James said...

Wrong again...

fred vest said...

i was thinking more of deadwood anyway

drakefell debaser said...

anon 15:33, no I am being serious. Brockley has a healthy population of artists so why not take advantage of the talent and show case it?

The area would have to be spruced up a little too but it could work and encourage shops that actually open (anyone had a bagel yet?) to move there.

nobbly brick said...

The council have an excellent history of placing artworks around the borough, the Catford gyratory system springs to mind as a good example...

fred vest said...

organic art at it's best

Anonymous said...

You two are fast becoming as double act, only one can't tell which one is supposed the the funny one. Like Little and Little

nobbly brick said...

I should have said: "the artworks punctuating the Catford gyratory system", not the gyratory system itself, which was created to contain the wonders of JJB sports etc and not to allow smooth passage of traffic

fred vest said...

"You two are fast becoming as double act, only one can't tell which one is supposed the the funny one"

are you feeling alright?

veggiegirl said...

@ drakefell debaser -- I flicked through and saw no response to your query re the cashpoint.

I asked in the Post Office a couple of weeks ago and was told it would be installed in the New Year. Didn't pursue to define exactly what that meant but would hope it will be in the next 6 months or so...

Not proper Brockley said...

Is what Patrick1971 is after a 'no blacks, dogs or irish' sign for Brockley? Perhaps it should be a small and inoffensive sign, tastefully tucked away in a nice park...

Been here over 2 years - never intimidated by hairdressers customers, always enjoyed a visit to dukes, who i have always found to be friendly and acommodating.

Was sad to see this morning that dry cleaners has closed. There is still a serviceable launderette opposite the barge. If one needs a dry-cleaning service that provides ironing/pressing I can recommend Forbs of Lewisham Way (10 mins by foot). Very nice lady in there wished me a happy day on dropping my suit off, and a pleasant evening when i collected the pristine garms this afternoon.

In place of the florist perhaps we could have a small gaming arcade, or pool hall. Failing that maybe we should petition for the building to be demolished in favour of a nice park.

patrick1971 said...

Yep, no blacks, that's exactly what I said. What are you on about?

drakefell debaser said...

Thanks Veggiegirl, good to know the cash machine going ahead as planned.

brockley mutha said...

I agree with Wild Bill and several others about the brockley cross shops - most are fine, they meet a need, and where they don't they close down. I've taken my son into that barbers and they were welcoming and extremely polite - although I got the feeling that conversation was suspended for the entire duration of my visit. I even used the electrical repair shop before it closed down. They could't do my repair, but again they were polite and helpful.

But not in a million lifetimes, would I say that 'Brockley Cross is great'. The place is a blot which could quite easily be improved with a bit of a clean up and some greenery.

To say that is not a criticism of the shops that are there, it's a criticism of the council planners who won't put any money into improving it.

Nina said...

Yep, the shops are fine, the people who work in the shops are lovely but it's ugly and everyone likes a tree or two. It would be especially lovely if you worked in one of the shops and found the view slightly less depressing.

Anonymous said...

Do we have a consensus on what is ugly?

Anonymous said...

your mum

Anonymous said...

My mum died a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

The site occupied by Dukes has a violent history. Brockley could easily rival the Whitechapel for a historical walking tour.

drakefell debaser said...

violent history? What happened?

fabhat said...

Bold statement anon - care to expand on the whitechapel/ripper extended horrors versus Brockley's random inner city violence?

Tressilliana said...

He'll be talking about this, I think:

'Keith Balfour, known as Little Andy, 32, of Avon Road, Brockley, shot dead by two men at the Big Ballers ticket agency which he ran in Brockley Cross. He died in a hail of bullets from a Mac 10 sub-machinegun. A man has been arrested and bailed to return to police on 11 January pending further inquiries. '

'Daily Mail, September 25th 1999

The name of Keith Andrew Balfour appears on several of the typed lists pinned up on the Cell walls. His murder was the seventh Yardie shooting this year.

Little Andy Balfour worked in and around the music business.

He started promoting reggae concerts in the Eighties, when he was a teenager, and by the time of his death had become moderately successful.

Unfortunately, along the way, he had upset a lot of people.

Early this year, Little Andy had realised a dream. He'd opened Big Ballers, his own ticket agency. The shop was in Lewisham, South-East London, close to Little Andy's four-bedroom detached house.
Afterwards, everyone agreed that he'd made a mistake.

Standing in the shop like that, he was a sitting duck for his enemies. On April 13, just after 1.30 pm, two black men walked down the busy street, pushed open the shop door, and shot Little Andy in the chest.

After the murder, the two men walked calmly away. They made no attempt to hide their identity because they knew no one would 'see' them.

They had murdered a man in broad daylight on a busy London street, but not a single witness came forward.'

Bea said...

That'll be in good ol' days then, before Brockley's middle class gentrification!

fabhat said...

Thanks Tressilliana, I didn't know that - shame anon couldn't be bothered to follow up on their own comment...

I was living in Brixton in 1999, but as a teenager when hanging out or visiting friends in Brockley in the early 90's the most threatening place was the very dodgy breakspears arms(I think that was the name - now the barge).

Tressilliana said...

It's an odd thing. We've been living in SE4 for 23 years and I've never found it a threatening place. That's probably because of where we've lived - we used to be in Crofton Park and now (fairly obviously) we're in Tressillian Road. We travel from Crofton Park mostly. Also, we don't frequent pubs. And yet hardly any distance from us in that time there have been a fair number of violent crimes, including murder.

LetsbyAvenue said...

Before that horrible ticket-agency murder, the shop on the corner had been a dusty, tatty place selling bits and bobs for cars (spark plugs etc) for years and years. The ticket agency was there for hardly any time at all and there were rumours at the time that it was a front for money-laundering (must confess I wondered at the time just how many tickets for 'Cats' could be sold from corner shop on a double roundabout at Brockley Cross) - don't know if there was any truth in it, of course.

Duke's used to be on the ground floor of the Tea Factory - they were kicked out when the developers moved in. The bloke who owns Duke's is very nice - friendly and helpful.

Anonymous said...

Friendly and helpful - did he wave at you through the prison walls?

Tressillian James said...

The shop that used to be Nikki Fiander now has a sign inside that states "Travel Services" - could this be a minicab firm to compete with Speedicabs - or some sort of travel agent/wire your money home type of place....

Anonymous said...

The ticket agency murder was committed by the Yardies.

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