This dreamily narrated film of the morning's first customers at the Brockley Barge captures beautifully what we've been trying to put in to words for some time. Brockley during the working day is a very different world from one in the evenings and weekends, when the commuter crowds return to the streets...
Returning from spotless Sweden, we read about China's war on white pollution: "the term used to describe the visual eyesores caused by Styrofoam trays and carrier bags, which snag on trees and get blown far and wide by the wind."
Later, when we got home, we put on our gardening gloves and scooped up the pile of carrier bags, bin bags, fag packets and evangelical leaflets which regularly accumulates in our front garden, blown in off the street (the former occupier having for some reason decided to remove the front gate).
The Council, in our opinion, do a reasonable job of cleaning the streets of Brockley, but they are fighting an uphill battle against a plague of plastic bags and fried chicken boxes, dropped every day.
So the question is: can we do anything about it? Would a campaign, already proposed by readers, to encourage local shops to stop giving out plastic bags work?
Persuading Brockley's more chi-chi outlets to drop plastic bags would be about as difficult as persuading them to stock Fairtrade coffee and most already use paper. But what about Costcutter, Co-Op or our local corner shop, which will routinely offer us a plastic bag when we pop in to buy one bottle of milk, despite the fact that we always say no?
What about fried chicken places? Is there anything that can be done to encourage customers to use a bin?
The police have recently spent a lot time trying to persuade places of business not to allow DVD sellers (usually people who have recently been trafficked) from operating on their premises, and giving out posters to display in their windows to deter them from entering. Could similar tactics have an impact on litter? Would the Council need to be involved?
Could people power persuade local businesses to change their ways? Would you want them to?
The Livesy lives on?
Southwark Council has axed its funding to the Livesey Museum for Children.
The museum in its current form will be open to the public for the last day this Friday 29th February, which is an indecently short period before closure.
The museum, located in one of the most deprived areas in the country, was opened by John Betjeman in 1974. Its award-winning interactive exhibitions have attracted visitors from all over the country and abroad, giving pleasure and educational benefit to hundreds of thousands of children, particularly those from local disadvantaged communities.
A number of potential funders have approached campaigners who are now setting up a trust in a bid to save the museum for future generations. Friends of the Livesey are to meet with Southwark's Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Nick Stanton to discuss working in partnership with the council to save the museum.
Saving the museum is dependent on securing continued use of the museum building from Southwark council. This listed Edwardian building was given to the people of Southwark by philanthropist George Livesey to provide access to culture and learning. Councillors have talked about selling off the building. Friends of the Livesey will ask Nick Stanton to ensure that this does not happen and the building continues to be used for the purpose for which it was given.
Sign the petition on http://www.gopetition.com/online/16681.html
Contact the campaign organisers to offer your support: http://www.liveseymuseum.org.uk/
West Side Shop – the known unknown
We know lots of people want to know what’s happening to the retail units in the parade on Mantle Road.
We’d love to be able to tell you more about it. We can confirm at least what others have already written - that the property has been let. We have asked the agents to confirm more details. They have agreed to pass our details and request on to the new tenants.
That’s all we can tell you so far. Sorry! We have our own hunch but will leave it to others to speculate. If you are taking over that shop and reading this story, please get in touch and put Dixie and others out of their misery.
Thai Chi on the Hill
Tai Chi classes from 1 April 2008
Tai Chi (Yang Style)
For all levels. Tuesday 7.30 - 9pm
Telegraph Hill Centre,
St Catherine's Church, Kitto Road, SE14
And, a taster session and demonstration, as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival
Sunday 2 March, 12 - 1pm
Cafe Orange, Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road, SE14
Lu Jun Hai sifu will lead his team to demonstrate the art of tai chi. A fantastic opportunity to join the session after the demonstration. All welcome. Admission free. (NB If weather is good, the taster session will take place in the Upper Park on Telegraph Hill)
Brockleywood nights III
Enjoy a free evening of fantastic short films and live music at Moonbow Jakes tonight, February 28th.
The London Mayoral Election
We’re planning on covering the upcoming Mayoral elections and, in particular, any issues relevant to Lewisham.
So far, depressingly, the only way in which Brockley has figured in the campaign is the search warrant that was executed by the police on a residential property on Nursery Road, in connection with allegations surrounding Livingston aide, Lee Jasper.
Meanwhile, the Back Boris campaign has been promising that a “borough-by-borough” guide to his manifesto would be launched by the end of the month. It has been promising this for weeks and is lucky that this is a leap year.
None of which bodes well for the level of debate we can expect in the coming weeks…
We go to Malmo for two days and Armageddon is visited upon London...
From our gloomy hotel room, with only CNN for company, we learned that 'the great London earthquake of 2008' had struck, unleashing hell on an unsuspecting population. Their round-the-clock coverage of this apocalypse was accompanied by footage of a man sweeping up some roof tiles in Lincolnshire.
As we raced back to Heathrow, wondering whether anything was salvageable of SE4, we were able to read the increasingly angry exchanges taking place on Brockley Central. Symbols of authority like Lewisham Council, the World Trade Organisation and even the Police were under attack. Corporate Lawyers were using gratuitous swear words. Clearly, society was breaking down in some sort of Lord of the Flies scenario.
So it came as some relief to get off the train and find people casually perusing the Broca and Dandelion Blue, rather than looting.
But for a moment, we were able to fantasise about which bit of Brockley we'd most like to be levelled by an earthquake (without casualties, obviously). Our vote goes to the MOT garage at the junction of Brockley Road and Coulgate Street. There were a few other strong candidates...
Anyway, it's good to be back. Malmo is added to the list of places that are not as good as Brockley.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 27.2.08
The Evening Standard reports that Brockley Central regular Cllr Sue Luxton has won mayoral approval for her pioneering plans to introduce a borough-wide 20mph speed limit:
The council's sustainable development select committee has voted in favour of the scheme, which will make Lewisham a guinea pig for the rest of the capital.
Borough mayor Sir Steve Bullock has endorsed the plan, which is the brainchild of Green councillor Sue Luxton.
She said the lower limit would be enforced by a ring of cameras, removing the need for costly road humps.
It also means humps in other parts of the borough, where 18 small-scale 20mph zones have been introduced already, can be phased out.
Brockley attracts plenty of boy-racers and car fetishists and anything designed to tackle them has our support, so long as its implemented in a pragmatic fashion, with the main arteries made exempt and a cost-effective means of enforcement can be found. If it can lead in the long-term to the removal of ugly road humps, width restrictions and other forms of traffic calming street furniture, then so much the better.
We hope we'll be able to read more of Sue's thoughts on the subject on her blog soon (or on here if she's around).
And on a tangential note, apologies to anyone who got stuck in traffic on due to lane closures on Endwell Road.
We've just realised that the developers had emailed us forwarning a few days ago. For the record, here was the message:
"Just to confirm, this Saturday 23rd Feb, there will only be a single lane for both sides of the traffic to use by the Tea factory, as a crane will be arriving at about 8am and will be there most of the day.
"This is for the delivery of large windows and the copper cladding. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause, this will be the last lane closure for this development."
Thanks to them for honouring their pledge to send us the information, even if we failed to honour ours to publish it in time.
Yesterday morning, we bumped in to a Brockley Central regular at Brockley Station. She normally commutes via Crofton Park, but there had been a problem with the service that morning, so she had caught the bus down to Brockley, to use the London Bridge service. We both agreed that crowding on the trains seemed a little bit better lately, despite the closure of the East London Line. Then, to serve us right, a train with only 4 carriages pulled up, stuffed to the gills and the announcer said that the next train would be delayed.
This chastening experience, coupled with the fact that Clare just became the thousandth person to trot out the 'it isn't a tube and who wants to go to Hoxton anyway?' line of argument, means that we felt compelled to write this on a Saturday morning, when we really should have been doing other things.
Six ways to look a gift horse in the mouth:
1. It's not a tube.
Don't be silly. All the tube lines are a bit different from one another. Different trains, different stations. Some go very deep underground, some barely go underground at all. The trains will be like overland / Central Line hybrids (a bit like the Metropolitan line, only much nicer), they will stop at other tube stations, Brockley will be on the tube map and the station will have Oyster and be dressed with those familiar little roundels. What bit of the tube experience doesn't that offer?2. But it won't be part of the London Underground - it's called London Overground.
And your point is? The name is only different because the service will be managed by Transport for London, rather than London Underground. It's a semantic distinction that should only bother the sort of people who object to phrases like "I'll Hoover the stairs" or "I'll just Google it."
3. But there will only be a few trains an hour.
At Brockley, there will be 8 ELL trains an hour in either direction or one every 7.5 minutes. Add that to the fact that we'll have 8 trains an hour on the overland service, we'll have a service frequency that many other zone 2 stations would envy - less than 4 minutes per train.
4. It won't go anywhere useful.
Well if you don't work in Canary Wharf or the Eastern side of the City, if you don't have family or friends in Hackney, if you never want to go to Islington or the Dome, if you don't want to explore East London, use the DLR or fly from City Airport, then yes, it's not necessarily going to make a big difference to your regular journeys.
The overland service is great if you specifically want to get to London Bridge, but the East London Line will plug us in to a much wider network, giving us new options and connecting to all kinds of different transport hubs, making a whole range of journeys much easier.
It will also alleviate crowding on the overland service, so even if you never set foot on one of the trains, you should be grateful they exist.
And in the highly unlikely event that the overland service you were expecting should ever be cancelled, delayed or reduced to four carriages, you'll be bloody glad of the East London Line.
5. People who are afraid of getting an overland service to Brockley are stupid and we don't want them here anyway if they've got that attitude.
Yes they are stupid. But can you honestly tell us that, when you are trying to get somewhere in London and you realise it doesn't have a tube station nearby, your heart doesn't sink a bit at the prospect of having to take things like Chiltern Railways. The tube is handy, it's familiar - people immediately and intuitively understand how to get somewhere by tube. Railway journeys to somewhere unfamiliar take a bit more mental effort - and people are lazy as well as stupid.
And one day, some enterprising bar owner with a dream of creating a decent place to have a drink near Brockley Cross will justify their business plan to their bank manager on the basis of those lazy and stupid people.
6. It's taking ages to build
It's two years away. If you think that's a long time, good luck waiting for Crossrail!
At the risk of disenfranchising non-Brockley residents, agoraphobics and people with an aversion to Bo Diddley it's time to write about Who Do You Love? - a competition run by Lewisham Council, that has already been mentioned by some readers.
The organisers are trying to find the people of Lewisham's favourite local independent business.
There is a great and growing list of local businesses that deserve our votes, so please get your nominations in - you have until February 29th and the form can be found here. The more votes a business gets, the better their chances, so strength in numbers!
Here's what the Lewisham Council website says:
This year the people of Lewisham will be asked to nominate their favourite independent business. An independent business is one the has no more than nine premises in their chain.
The independent business with the most nominations will win. There will be a first prize, a second prize and joint third prizes.
Cafés and restaurants are the most obvious choice but hairdressers, florists, estate agents and market stalls are all eligible.
Businesses don’t have to be specialist but they should be local and above all loved.
The competition runs from 1–29 February 2008 and the winner will simply be the business that receives the greatest number of nominations. The competition is sponsored by Apogee and forms part of the Lewisham Business Awards 2008.
The winning business will be announced at the Mayor’s Business Awards on 3 April 2008.
Last night was a sleepless one for Brockley Central. For one long year, we have dreamed of the day that Lewisham Council press office added us to their media list. Then, just when we had given up hope, this press release was emailed to us. So we really don’t want to sound ungrateful, but we can’t help ourselves.
Just to be perfectly clear, we think Fairtrade is a fine thing (although it’s also worth acknowledging that there is a big debate about whether Fairtrade is the most effective solution to the problems it attempts to address).
But, why is Lewisham Council doing this?
We appreciate that the Council has a cultural remit and that this exercise won’t cost a lot of money, but every initiative has an opportunity cost – time, energy and focus spent doing this when they could be doing something else (like supporting the Brockley MAX, or fixing the railings on Brockley Road).
Brockley Central used to work for a quasi-public organisation, which had a lot of money to spend and no shareholders breathing down their necks or profit margins to hit. As a result, if someone came up with an initiative, they tended to be given license to do it, regardless of whether it was necessarily a very good idea. Consequently, the organisation ran a plethora of campaigns and initiatives, none of which was very effective. All organisations need focus. We question whether Fairtrade is what Lewisham Council should be focusing on.
We’d also like to know what Mayor Bullock actually means when he says Lewisham is a Fairtrade borough. Does that mean that Lewisham Council insists that all its suppliers source Fairtrade products? Have they banned non-Fairtrade products from the staff canteen? We’d wager not.
Still, here are the details, and thanks to Lewisham Council press office for sending them to us, we hope to be more positive next time.
To mark the event, Lewisham has been running a competition to write a song about fairtrade issues for anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough. The finalists have been chosen and they will be performing their work in front of a panel of judges at Blackheath Halls on Friday 7 March.
The winning prize is a day in a studio to record the song and the chance to perform it live at Lewisham People’s Day on 12 July 2008.
Fairtrade involves paying farmers and other workers in poor countries a fair price for their goods and produce – and means communities can afford to invest in healthcare, education and more sustainable methods of production.
Sir Steve said: “By choosing Fairtrade we can allow others to make changes towards a better life as it enables producers in developing countries to lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty.
“Lewisham is proud to be a Fairtrade borough and will continue to encourage consumers to make a small change in what they eat, drink and wear.”
Lewisham achieved Fairtrade status in 2005, with many shops, cafes and community venues all offering products certified as Fairtrade. Each year the borough renews its commitment to Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight.
The finalists of the Fairtrade music competition will perform at Blackheath Halls on Friday 7th March 2008 at 7pm. Limited free tickets are available. If you are interested please email your name and address to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8314 7778.
We're hoping to speak to Brockley's local planning officer soon about a few things, but, as part of our preparation, we wanted to know the Council's view on what Brockley Road is supposed to be for. We know it's designated as a local town centre (in a way that Lewisham Way isn't) and we know from the interview with John Miller that the envisaged regeneration of the area will be low-level, small-scale, 'organic' development (ie: no big Council regeneration schemes).
But what kind of businesses do the Council think are right for Brockley Road - what is it for? Here's what the Lewisham plan says:
"The primary function of the Local Shopping Centres is to provide an adequate range of local shops to meet the day to day needs of the community. They are of particular benefit to the elderly and those people without the use of a car who cannot easily reach the larger centres. The loss of these shops could cause hardship and inconvenience to Borough residents. However, the Council recognises that non-retail uses can contribute to the variety and choice of facilities in Shopping Centres. They can also help to prevent vacancies and the detrimental effect that this can have on the appearance, function and economic health of the Shopping Centre. The criteria specified will help maintain the retail function while allowing for the natural changes that are part of the retail industry."
We have a couple of concerns about this. Firstly, we worry about the emphasis put on those without a car - it suggests that the Council are happy for those with cars to use them to go to Bluewater or Sainsbury's - we think the aim should be to encourage everyone to shop locally. Secondly, the model of a successful high street has changed - thriving high streets are not just "local shopping centres" they are centres for community life and places to eat, drink and do things are a vital and growing part of the mix. The policy seems to recognise that, but only in a rather grudging way.
Anyway, what are your thoughts please?
We'd wager that, if Brockley Central's Hither Green doppelganger popped up on this site to ask readers to take part in a Q&A about SE4, they'd be inundated with people happy to wax lyrical about Brockley's many and much-discussed charms. Not so the people of Hither Green.
It took us months to track down anyone who'd talk to us about the area and we fired out so many speculative emails that (typically) when we eventually got a reply, another one swiftly followed. So here we have two different takes on Hither Green; a place divided by a railway track, famous for its conservation area and experiencing some modest regeneration but still crying out for a few more places to get a drink....
Because of these parallels, we've been particularly keen to feature Hither Green - an area that's done good things with street trees and boasts a hugely successful cafe in its park.
The first set of answers is from Hither Green blogger Bagelmouse, the second from another resident who’s happier remaining nameless, but we promise is not just a figment of our imagination. Thanks to both of them for such detailed answers.
What are the best things about living in HG?
It's an incredibly friendly, peaceful place to be. Yes, there aren't places to go out on an evening and there's far too many greasy takeaways and mini markets, but the park is gorgeous, I hear the schools are excellent and the eastern side of HG is worthy of the Brockley conservation area. Transport links are also excellent from the station, and if you live on the outskirts it's only a short walk to good bus routes. Not that the best thing about living in HG is being able to leave it!!
I think HG is a comfortable, attractive and safe area. It's relatively small and made up almost entirely of Victorian and Edwardian terraces. It's a quiet area too, with a lack of serious crime (I never see those yellow and blue Police notice boards here, plus the fast, frequent trains to Charing Cross and Cannon Street make it great for working in Central London.
How important has Friends and Users of
I'm not aware of their specific actions - but if they're the people responsible for the planters and general village air of
I live on the other side of the tracks, so am not too familiar with their work, but I do think they've made a very positive contribution to the Staplehurst Road side in particular, brightening up the shop frontages, winning a silver award in London in Bloom, and generally promoting the area.
What have been the most important improvements to HG's public spaces over the last few years?
Getting the planters in might sound like a small thing, but it really did make a difference.
It's also important to realise that HG is split into two very distinct sections by the railway tracks. Often, people think of HG as being the east side, towards the Lee side - but there's also the much less attractive, but more served by shops and transport, west side by Hither Green Lane. As a resident of the west side I want to stake our claim for being very much part of HG, and not a sub-section of Lewisham! Hither
HG has three very good parks. Manor Park, the smallest, has only just reopened after extensive renovation; Manor Park Gardens was renovated to a very high standard and won a Green Flag Award in 2006; and the largest, Mountsfield Park, has just secured funding for a cafe and toilet facilities.
Apart from parks, we have the
How does the community support improvements to public spaces in HG?
I think one of the problems with HG is that, at the moment, there's a massive movement of incomers (of which I am one, guilty as charged). There's notice boards at the station for the community groups but they don't seem to be updated that often - I suspect it's a small group of residents who are leading the charge, and it's going to take a while for the incomers to bed down and start to take a real interest in their new surroundings. And I'm also starting to wonder about possible friction between the people who've lived in HG all their lives and the newbies... I think the reaction of the lads to the new deli (see below) says a lot. I wonder if there's going to be resistance to gentrification by people who feel pushed out.
I know that there is a group called Friends of
How does HG get the most out of its park?
The park's a very planned space, probably because it's quite compact. The divide between dog and non-dog space is great for all the families and young kids, who can picnic or play games on the non-dog area without worrying about stepping in anything nasty! The farmer's market is small but nice to browse around, and I adore the cafe. It's not somewhere you go if you don't want to be disturbed but it's an absolutely gorgeous place that's been well thought-out and maintained.
Brockley plans to plant more trees in its main streets and HG is often held up as a successful model for us to copy - what can we learn from your experiences?
That you can actually have real plums on your streets! One of the most pleasant aspects of HG is its leafiness - it adds a certain air of gentility. There are plans to plant more trees around the station and around a quite scruffy part of
Are you worried about the dwindling number of pubs in Lewisham - has HG been affected?
People often say there's only one pub in HG and that's The Station, but there were more around
Two pubs have closed here - the Queen's Head and more recently the Spotted Cow, both very traditional, old pubs. Also the Lanier Club has closed.
I think people in HG generally want something up-to-date, and the topic of gastropub frequently appears on the local forum. From what I can see, there's no shortage of potential clientele for a smarter pub or bar.
It's good that we have a smart local cafe in You Don't Bring Me Flowers, also that a new deli is about to open up. However, we still need a decent pub or bar.
What are the most important local issues in HG?
The controlled parking zone is a burning issue. I don't drive so it's not something I seethe over, but it does seem to be something that the council have implemented as a cash cow... extensions to the CPZ have been brought in far outside the station area where there's no parking problems. I live in a CPZ street and there's always space to park, it baffles me.
The other issues are the lack of bars, restaurants and delis. There's been an air of expectancy over the area for the last couple of years, waiting for gentrification to creep in... it's overdue, but I think it's finally happening. The first 'proper' deli opened at the weekend and made many people happy (though the two teenagers who shouted "Hither Green's not posh!" through the open doorway weren't among them; and they may have a point! I've blogged about that particular incident - http://bagelmouseuk.typepad.com/).
And, as mentioned above, the possibility of HG splitting into two 'tribes' of residents. I keep thinking of the 'town and gown' split of university cities. There's a lot of new development and that's only going to bring in more people from outside - which will be good for new businesses and possible gentrification, but is definitely going to shift the demographic balance.
Controlled parking zones on the Staplehurst side, and attracting new businesses - eating places and bars, particularly for all the commuters who want to go out locally.
As a resident of HG, do you ever think visit Brockley or take an interest in developments there?
I do visit Brockley! I'm in awe of The Shop on the Hill, Dandelion Blue, the Broca etc etc. If nothing else, it's interesting to see what's happening because I suspect HG will be the next to be properly hit by the gentrification wave (one deli does not a Blackheath make).
Before we settled on HG 18 months ago, we also seriously considered buying in Brockley. Both are great areas, but it was HG's connections to
When I look at Brockley now, it's very interesting, especially in terms of the cafes, bars and restaurants springing up. There's no shortage of people in HG who want the same kind of thing. Perhaps a Brockley entrepreneur would consider expanding into HG!
What's your message for the people of Brockley on behalf of the citizens of HG?
It's funny, I've often thought that Brockley had more of a message for HG... Brockley's going where HG seems to want to go (judging by the comments on the HG forum and Facebook group) and we're watching with bated breath.
Keep up the good work - it's clearly paying off.
Click to read the Forest Hill and East Dulwich features.
For the last issue of SE4 Magazine, irritated by the occasional anonymous troll berating our readers for being armchair activists, we wrote an article about the power of the internet to effect change.
We believe that it's a false dichotomy to suggest that there are people who "do things" and people who "talk about things". Talking is sometimes doing, as the campaign to save the Rivoli showed. Political clout is magnified by popular support, as The Telegraph Hill Society has demonstrated. And sometimes, people who talk can also do, as was shown on Sunday when Kate and five other Brockley Central readers joined the stalwarts of the Brockley Cross Action Group to clear up the area around the station.
Their work to improve the station is important, inspiring and so unglamourous that the group were at one stage asked by a passing girl if they were doing community service. Which of course, they were. Thanks to everyone who went - here's Kate's report:
"The Brockley station clear-up took place on Sunday and was a great success. At least 13 people turned up, including several BC readers, and we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine while filling over 10 big bags with rubbish, litter and weeds.
"The Common was denuded of tin cans and fast food wrappings, and the flowerbeds next to platform 2 were tidied up, including removing about a zillion cigarette butts. If any BC readers are among those thoughtless souls who drop litter or fag-ends around the station, please bear in mind that if I ever see you doing so, I will hunt you down and make YOU spend the afternoon picking it all up again."
Maradoll has also written about the day here.
On another note, the problem of free newspapers dumped on the floor beside the recycling bins outside Brockley Station seems to have improved lately - but please remember to take your paper home with you if the bins are full.
The festival kicks off with a rock night at a venue called Narthex [?] on February 29th and there is far too much going on to summarise here, so the best thing to do is visit the event website yourself to find out more. They also have their own open studios event in March, the details of which can be downloaded from this page.
This bold move by the Council has the added advtantage of reducing the chronic oversupply of activities for families and young people in South East London.
If for some reason you think that they are crackers, then you need to act fast, as the final council vote is on February 20th (7pm). The Save the Livesy campaigners are asking you to write to your MP, copy to Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture (see http://andyburnham.org/ ) If you live in Southwark, please email your local Councillor too.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 18.2.08
One tube-stop from Canary Wharf, change to the Peninsula is inevitable.
Five billion pounds are being spent to create 10,000 homes, 150 shops and restaurants and 48 acres of green space. Office space too - with TfL recently announcing that they will be anchor tenants, to hasten the area's regeneration. The new TfL offices [pictured] will be open next year.
Why is it important?
Try getting a job in South East London at the moment. There aren't any.
Bermondsey Square is a little island of something interesting in a sea of not very much. By this summer, the regeneration work it's currently undergoing, centring around a new market square, should be complete. Developers Igloo summarise it as follows:
"A mixed-use property development scheme comprising 76 apartments, 35,000 sq ft of offices which will be multi-let to a number of creative occupiers, a 79-bed boutique hotel to be operated by Bespoke Hotels and a 55-seat community cinema, a Sainsbury’s local store and other adjacent retail units all set around a new landscaped square which will continue to host the long-established Bermondsey Antiques Market as well a number of other events such as Farmers Markets and fashion markets. The scheme is due for completion in July 2008, with the hotel set to open later in September 2008."
Why is it important?
Somewhere new to potter around, only a few minutes from London Bridge station.
Canada Water doesn't work. An incoherent residential area tacked on to a dying retail park (although no-doubt someone will now pop up to tell us that Surrey Quays shopping centre is actually home to a thriving and charming collection of independent retailers from Puerto Rico or the Cook Islands or something).
So they are starting again.
After seven years of consultation, construction starts in a couple of months on a new masterplan that, if it doesn't exactly excite, should represent an improvement.
Why is it important?
Only a short hop away on the new East London Line service.
Ballet School for Southwark
The Central School of Ballet is moving south from its current home in Clerkenwell to a new home in Southwark, to a purpose built centre and halls of residence on a currently derelict site.
The development is awaiting planning consent, but could be ready by 2010 if approved.
Why is it important?
Together with Laban, would make South East London the home of London dance.
To mark our birthday, we asked some friends of Brockley Central for their highlight from the last year...
"My personal highlight was seeing the lovely Woodcraft Folk kids having such fun exploring and singing from Brockley Common. They immediately saw the potential. They even started picking up bits of old pottery to make a mozaic for the scheme!"
Stuart Woodin, Brockley Cross Action Group
"At Christmas my partner's present to me was to have a suit made for me by Mark Saville of Loampit Vale. Anyone who has to wear a suit to work and lives in this part of Lewisham must be curious about our local tailor. I can report that while - as you'd expect for a bespoke suit - it isn't cheap, he does excellent work, and much faster than I'd have imagined."
"Maybe the Brockley MAX festival or the way the local community pulled together in opposing the betting shop application? Getting the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries group off the ground? The opening of The Shop on the Hill? Actually no, I am being indecisive here, but I think the Brockley highlight of the year was the Christmas Market - well done to all in BXAG who made it happen!"
Cllr Sue Luxton
"Going for a quick summer stroll to Hillyfields with my chef and stumbling upon Brockley Max in the near-dusk sunshine. We then lost ourselves on Lewisham Way - unfamiliar territory to us."
Richard, Jam Circus
"My first personal highlight of the last 12 months is the opening of the new shops - Dandelion Blue, Degustasion and the Shop On The Hill. They really add an extra touch of sparkle to living in the area (because I'm a greedy pig ...)
My second highlight is Hilly Fields. Yes, I know it's been there for far longer than just 12 months, but I started going running up there last March and I've become very fond of it (the park, not the running; but needs must!). I particularly enjoy the views into the City and out to Kent, and watching the park change with the changing seasons. Plus it's great to see all the community events up there such as the kids' football on weekends, and the summer fair."
Posted by Brockley Nick on 17.2.08
Brockley Central is one year old today. So for one post only, I thought I'd drop the "we" contrivance and write as myself. Partly, in honour of old-skool Brockley Central but partly so that I can say a few thank yous.
Firstly, I'd like to thank Brockley Jon, for all his hard work on building the site and helping to fill it with stuff.
Secondly, I'd like to thank Kate, for being the first reader to put her money where her mouth was and actually write articles for Brockley Central.
Thirdly, I'd like to thank all the people who linked and contributed to the site in the early days, helping to build the community. People like (but by no means limited to) Andrew Brown, Sue Luxton, Stuart Woodin, Bob from Brockley, Moira Tait, John Morgan and Dean Walton.
Fourthly, to everyone who's sent ideas, posted comments and spread the word. Far too many to name, but you know who you are.
But most of all, I'd like to thank Nicola, Louis and Huxley, without whom in my life, Brockley would be an empty place.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 14.2.08
We'd been planning to write something this week about the opening of the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford.
Sadly, before we've even had time to get around to it, the Centre's been vandalised, with the suspicion that the attacks were racially motivated.
We went to school with Stephen and he was a really decent guy (the disgusting attempt by the BNP to say otherwise was one of the lowest points in their long and shameful history). The Centre in his memory is a wonderful idea that deserves to flourish and, despite this setback, it will.
We will find a quieter time to write in more detail about the Stephen Lawrence Centre.
Posted by Brockley Nick on 14.2.08
For the second in our "Them and Us" series, we thought we'd better get the inside track on East Dulwich - an area that has gained totemic status in Brockley's great 'gentrification debate'. So we asked Jane - who lives there - and this is what she told us:
What are the best things about living in East Dulwich?
The range of shops and services in East Dulwich, many of which are still independently owned; the mix of people - hasn't (yet) been completely repopulated by families moving out from Clapham along 37 bus route; Lordship Lane is still fairly quiet in the evenings - the ratio of shops to bars and restaurants is far better than in places like Northcote Road; the parks nearby; easy access to Victoria and in fact Kings Road if you take the stopping train from Denmark Hill; nice victorian houses on quiet roads; interesting fringe areas to visit such as Bellenden Road/Peckham, Horniman, Dulwich Village, Sydenham Woods. It does have a very good community feel to it and there is lots to do, such as pub quizzes, film nights, local WI (very popular), various fetes and fairs throughout the year. Also there are no major roads running through ED whereas Forest Hill up the road is basically built around the south circular, and there's a market on Friday and Saturday on Northcross Road.
What has been the biggest change since you moved to East Dulwich?
We moved here in December 2003 - the biggest change must be that then it was still very good value for money compared to areas such as Clapham and Herne Hill. The other main developments have been the increase in destination shops and cafes on Lordship Lane and the ensuing increase in traffic and visitors - also now much harder to park.
Some people in Brockley hold East Dulwich up as an example of an area where "gentrification" has gone too far and the area has lost something as a result. Do you think that's fair?
There's an element of truth to this - as I mentioned the mix of people living here which gives it a fairly safe community feel is changing and becoming more homogenous and therefore less interesting. With gentrification come rent rises and you lose some of the more surprising and interesting shops and businesses which give an area its character. These are being replaced with lots of mainstream shops catering entirely to the incomers who do seem to be mainly young parents. This process of Claphamisation does seem to be inevitable.
What do you think prompted East Dulwich's gentrification?
House price rises meant that ED became the next obvious place for people to move to. I think transport links improved, and the myth that it is really difficult to get to was debunked.
How does the area build a sense of community?
Aside from the groups I mentioned earlier, the East Dulwich Forum is hugely popular and most people I know spend a lot of time there, lurking if not posting. The Dulwich Festival is always a draw, as are the events and courses run by Dulwich Picture Gallery - not in ED but within easy reach.
What would you recommend for the casual visitor to do in E Dulwich?
Assuming the visitor was casual, they might like to drop into Le Chandelier and try some of their freshly baked breads or pastries, then stop at Jacks on Pellatt Road for their coffee or flapjack. Later on they could pick up some fishcakes from Moxons or some meatballs from William Rose butcher, then have a Sunday Roast in Franklins, and a drink afterwards at Green and Blue or Liquorish, followed by a cheeky kebab down the Yilmaz. Yummy Mummies can hang out in Blue Mountain Café and indulge their loved ones in Jo Jo Maman Bebe or the many other overpriced kids clothing shops. I would also recommend a walk in the park or down to Bellenden Road where Le Petitou does an excellent quiche. This has become culinary...So for something other than food there's Northcote Road market - or one of the small art galleries on the same road.
What (if anything) can Brockley learn from E Dulwich's experiences?
Brockley can learn that if you build it they will come. But is that what you want? Eh?
Coming soon: Hither Green, although the locals have been rather less forthcoming so far...
In its review of Meze Mangal a couple of years ago, Time Out speculated:
"It’s surprising that such a well-loved eaterie doesn’t entice other Turkish restaurants to open in the area. But perhaps others are afraid they wouldn’t be able to compete."
Now, we are pleased to confirm that Meze Mangal will be joined by a specialist Turkish cafe and patisserie. But rather than competing, the two will be sister venues, run by the same people. In the words of Meze Mangal's manager, it will "be unlike anything else in south east London."
The Lewisham Way restaurant has long been blighted by its location among a parade of disused shops and bordered what appears to be a large sea container. While sea containers may have revolutionised global trade, they do nothing for the neighbourhood. Happily, the box is going, to be replaced by the cafe. At the same time, the frontage for Meze Mangal will be improved, which has apparently been the masterplan all along.
No opening date has yet been set, but we will keep you posted. Brockley's culinary revolution continues.
With thanks to JPM for the lead...
Given the popularity of the Brockley Central Cycle Lane, we are planning to create a few more threads for special interest groups locally, for people to organise themselves online.
We plan to reawaken the Tennis thread (which resulted in a lot of interest but only one actual match, to our knowledge) and someone suggested a thread for runners. If there's an appetite for it, we'd like to create a baby-sitting circle thread too.
Please leave your suggestions for other threads we could create here.
Speaking of Groups, don't forget the meeting of the Brockley Cross Action Group, tomorrow at The Broca, 7.30pm. Kate will be reporting on the meeting for Brockley Central (thank you Kate).
The last time we asked the Brockley Central public which they preferrred, trees or cameras, trees came out on top. But it got pretty nasty.
Undaunted, Cllr Dean Walton has asked us to broach the subject with you again. However, this time, for an altogether different reason:
Following a number of complaints about the failure to repair a security camera at the junction of Breakspears Road and Lewisham Way, Dean investigated the issue with the Council officers and found that the problem was the nearby trees...
The CCTV camera situated at the Breakspears Road junction with Lewisham Way is a microwave camera. At the present time the camera is not switched on as there are problems with a break of signal between the camera, the CCTV control room and other cameras within the vicinity. If we turn this camera on, it interferes with other camera signals in the area and causes them to fail.
An investigation took place to find out what the cause of the break in signal is, and the engineer reported back that trees around the camera are to blame. As this is a preservation area, the Lewisham tree officer had to apply for planning permission before any work on the trees could take place. It took six weeks for the permission to come through and this has only been granted within the last few days.
To add to this, one of these trees is a lime tree located in the Lewisham College car park in Tressilian Road. The CCTV Operations Manager is currently liaising with Lewisham College to gain permission to order the tree in question to be felled. (If it's only trimmed the problem will return.) They have agreed in principle but wish the tree officer to meet a representative on site to agree the date of the work (not during term time) and to give them a copy of the planning permission. It is envisaged that once the lime tree has gone and other surrounding trees have been trimmed, the engineer will be able to get this camera fully functional again.
Dean wants to know our views, urgently, before any lumber-jacks move in.
In Brockley Central's view, the loss of trees on the street would be unacceptable, regardless of the security implications. If the spot that camera covers is so important from a security point of view, then find another solution that doesn't involve the loss of trees. But CCTV cameras are of limited crime-fighting value anyway and if alternative solutions are too costly (more costly than felling trees?) then we'd happily live with a CCTV blackspot there. If we sacrifice the quality of our local environment, we automatically become victims of crime and we risk degrading the local area, which encourages further crime. We'd ask Lewisham Council to immediately cancel their plans to cut down the trees.
But what's your view? Which is better - trees or cameras? There's only one way to find out! Fight!
Following the confirmation that Brockley Station will be made fully wheelchair accessible comes the news that, although the Brockley Common project now has planning permission and a £70,000 access grant, a further allocation of £112,000 from TfL (which would allow the project to be completed as planned), is still in doubt.
Problems in getting access to the site mean that it is unlikely that the Brockley Common project leaders will be able to spend the TfL money by the deadline of March 31st, 2008. This could result in big delays to the project although it is hoped that the situation could be rescued with a co-ordinated response by Lewisham Council and other local groups.
To find out what you can do to help, please come to the Broca Cafe, Coulgate Street at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th of February.
Transport for London has today confirmed that Brockley Station will be made "accessible" as part of the DfT’s £370 million Access for All programme.
This means that wheelchair access will be possible for both platforms, although unfortunately, this work is not scheduled until 2012 at the earliest.
Brockley was considered a "priority" for TfL and they also re-confirmed that this work will take place as part of a wider refurbishment programme for the station.
The badish news is coming shortly and is related...
The Evening Standard raves about this takeaway fish and chip place and not just because it was the only eaterie they could find on the internet, no sir.
But what do you think? All we know is that it isn't open at 8pm on a Sunday night when we have been travelling all day and have no food in the house and are desparate for something to fill a hole.
At the risk of turning the site in to 'Jam Central', this offer by Richard from the team at Jam Circus, is too good to pass up.
On Monday nights, JC doesn't serve food, meaning that they have some space. Richard would like to offer Jam Circus for use by a local group as their base for regular meetings. And he's asked us to create this post for people to leave their suggestions. The Broca, for example, already plays host to a club for local writers.
So, as long as you're not looking for a new HQ for your terrorist cell or worse, the actual Monday Club, leave your requests here.
We draw the line at doing a poll of what beers they should serve though...
We were going to write a short review of Bubblegum, a great local club night at 46 Deptford Broadway, a venue which we were never sure wasn't just someone's home.
To our horror, we've discovered that, after 10 years, it's moved. Even though their MySpace page declares THIS IS NOT THE END!!), the last night they hosted appears to be last summer.
So two questions:
Does anyone know what Bubblegum was like, once separated from its original home?
How does "The Bunker Club" compare?
As we walked through the door of Jam Circus last night, it was immediately obvious that we had not thought it through. The place was pretty packed with people, none of whom looked like they needed company and none who were obviously a 'Headhunter' or a "Tyrwhitt Michael".
Fortunately, Brockley Jon is more resourceful and had come armed with a hand-written sign (one day, Google advertising will scrape together enough money to buy a proper one - until then, we use biro) and an I 'Heart' Brockley badge. We positioned ourself in full view of the door and waited.
Unlike last time though, we didn't have to wait long. Richard Elliot was immediately recognisable, thanks to his blog and it turned out that 'b.' and his girlfriend had arrived ahead of us. Two became five and we had achieved critical mass - enough for people to start sidling up to us, to ask if we were the Brockley Central group. In total, we reckon about 30-40 people turned up, including nearly everyone from the first night. So many, in fact, that we didn't have a chance to say hello to them all, but their evening appeared none the poorer for that.
We'll leave it to others who were there to describe the evening further, but we'll say three quick things:
1. Jam Circus was great and its popularity (even without the addition of the BC crowd) surely proves the demand for at least one more place to drink on Brockley Road.
2. Everyone seemed to be talking to everyone else without the evening descending in to a bitter discussion about class warfare or 'political correctness gone mad'.
3. Thank you for everyone who came, it was really lovely that so many turned up. There will definitely be a Brockley Central Drinks III.
Nominate the best venues in Brockley to take kids.
Here are ours...
Toad's Mouth Too (Garden)
The garden in the summer is a brilliant place for toddlers, who can explore the undergrowth to their heart's content, without getting in the way of other customers too much.
Post-smoking ban, Moonbow's has become a great place to take kids. The staff have a great attitude towards kids and the menu and range of snacks on offer means there is plenty for them to enjoy while you have a coffee.
As we've mentioned before , the fish tank will keep children occupied for at least as long as it takes to eat a starter.
Brockley Jon has popped into The Amersham Arms several times since it re-opened under the Lock Tavern management team.
What was not to love about the old smoky Amersham where you could turn up and dance with a drunken Irish man any night of the week, at practically any time, but in the interest of you the readers of Brockley Central, we will try to put the old pub out of our mind and give the new Amersham a fair hearing!
It's a hard act to follow, but we have to say, we like what they've done with the place - it's not drastically different, just a bit more trendy, more eclectic.
Service is usually fine, but at busy times can be slow - especially as they have decided to offer novelty cocktails, involving copious amounts of crushed ice (for which each drink requires a trip to the blender), hand sprinkled mint, swizzle sticks and sparklers! All good fun, but not for us Brockley boys who just want a pint of bitter (perhaps we have spent too long in the Wickham?).
Tables are also quite hard to come by, but do grab one and try the food. Although our burgers last time took about 30 minutes to come, at £6ish they were very good. There was a decent amount of chips and a nice dip too. The roasts are also something to write home about, we're reliably informed (and the comments below echo this).
All in all, we'd say it's a good meeting place for a chat and some food, with a decent vibe, and a trendy crowd. The kind of place that Brockley is crying out for.
It should also be said that there is a gallery upstairs, Take Courage, and a club next door, the old Catapult Club, neither of which we've had a chance to try out yet.
"Brockley Common is about to receive Planning Permission, but there have been complications with TfL money and what they are going to do as the new owners of the network from 2009. The next Brockley Common meeting is at the Broca, 7.30pm on February 13th and the station flowerbed and Brockley Common clean up is on Sunday, February 17th . It would be great to see some of Brockley Central's readers there. We really need more members as with all these new flowerbeds planned and done we are quite stretched."
This is the South London Press' report on a non-fatal shooting that took place just after Christmas.
There is a feeling among some local residents that, until recently, the authorities had not been taking the problem as seriously as it deserved. However, in October, Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock said:
"I would like to remind the mayor of his pledge made to local residents last November and use all his powers to make sure that the Upper Brockley Road becomes a genuine safer neighbourhood."
The name wouldn't have been our first choice (don't say it too fast!), but we like their rationale, explained to us by Sian Knight:
a) It doesn't tie us to the building in case we have to leave, and therefore rebrand, in 2
years time, but at the same time acknowleges the history of the building we are based in
b) It prevents the space from being considered as 'just' a gallery, and leaves the door open
for other arts, ie performance
c) Tea leaves are connected with looking into the future, and we like to think we're quite
d) 'Tea leaf' is cockney rhyming slang for 'thief', which considering we have got the space
rent free for 2 years, is quite appropriate!
There is also a new website up-and-running: http://www.tea-leaf-arts.com/ and they are planning their first general meeting at 8pm on February 19th, at Jam Circus. This will not only be for artists interested in the co-operative, but for anyone who would like to get more involved or just find out some more information. They are also hoping the co-operative application forms will be completed by then.
The number of community drinks evenings being organised these days could probably sustain a new drinking venue all on their own.
High-fives all round in Forest Hill and Sydenham, as the Forest Hill Society blog reports that there will be no reduction to their overland services as a result of the introduction of the East London Line extension.
"...new information recently received from Network Rail, via London TravelWatch, suggests that, as a result of our continued campaign, most of our concerns about their proposals have now been addressed.Rather than a reduction in peak services to London Bridge the plan now is that the total number of trains between 7am and 10am will remain at the current level of 18 trains, with only a slight adjustment to the present hourly spread of trains. All trains are planned to be 8 carriages long, whereas some are currently only 6 carriages long. This represents an overall increase in carriages serving Forest Hill and Sydenham during peak time."
We were never convinced that the threat to services was as bad as they feared, but there's no doubt that the two societies have lobbied very effectively on this issue and that this is good news for South East London.
The FT today features a piece about the impact of the East London Line. It's essentially the same sort of thing we've seen before in the Standard.
For years, the far south-eastern reaches of London have been the last hope for young families looking for somewhere safe and pleasant to bring up children. Here, leafy streets, good schools and, most importantly, relatively low property prices have acted as a magnet for couples in their 20s and 30s looking to move from a flat into their first house. The main factor dissuading many has been poor public transport for those working in central London.
But the... East London Line... will transform working life for commuters from these predominantly residential areas and do wonders for property values.
Dr Steve Gibbons, of the London School of Economics, said: "Prices increase by about nine percentage points for each kilometre move towards a London Underground station or Docklands Light Railway station."
Here's what they say about Brockley specifically...
Brockley will be the first new stop travelling south on the line, which is due for completion in 2011 [sic]. With a collection of shops at its centre, it already caters largely to commuters with families. Its railway station has fast links to London Bridge station in the city centre. It has a large "conservation area" of 4,000 fine stucco houses protected from demolition or substantial redevelopment, making for an aesthetically pleasing environment. Its reasonable transport links mean it probably won't show the price growth of areas further south that will in effect come on to the London network for the first time, but it has good quality homes so should be a safe bet. Jonathan Keegan from the Rocodells estate agency in Brockley says: "The East London Line has had a good impact already. There was a real frenzy at the start of the year when the full details came out and prices have increased dramatically."
Average price for a three-bedroom house: £365,000.
The full article can be found here.
No wonder Brockley is ‘undiscovered’.
In our line of work, we often hear the phrase “The Digital Divide”, which refers to the haves and the have-nots of the online society. Victims of this divide are those without access to or the basic skills to operate the internet and therefore can’t enjoy the benefits of online discounts, internet-only services and Brockley Central talkbacks.
But there is another Digital Divide and it is much more serious. Because it affects us! In essence the problem is that, while you can watch an almost infinite number of funny cat videos and access research papers on the most complex scientific issues, you are screwed if you want to find a reliable guide to eating, drinking or playing in South East London.
We’re well used to never reading a review of anywhere or anything in South East London in the mainstream media, but even online, with a plethora of “comprehensive” guides to local life, the coverage is still abject. And it was partly in despair at this sorry lot that we decided to start this blog.
Here is a snapshot of the Digital Divide in action. We have deliberately not linked to any of these sites, as we don’t want to give them the Google-ranking satisfaction.
LondonTown – The Number One Internet Site for London
Two entries, compared to, say, Hackney’s 20+ mentions or Tooting’s nine.
And Brockley’s two entries are? The train station and the Brockley Barge.
AllinLondon – Your London Guide
The restaurants section is a little disappointing, with only four places getting a mention. Perhaps redemption will be found in the events section, with things like the MAX or the Summer Fayre getting some recognition? “Unfortunately we don't have any events listed for this region at present.”
Whereas, Brixton’s 'Relics of the Bottom Drawer' print works by Sarah Mellor exhibition is one of the many listed events from elsewhere in London.
SouthLondonGuide – the definitive guide to South East and South West London
A pretty poor site all round but to its credit, it manages to acknowledge Moonbow Jakes, The Talbot and Toads Mouth, but it misses dozens of other venues, still lists Homeview and its entry for “Takeaways” is as follows: * (Chinese) * Brockley Road, (020) 8*
London Eating – the definitive guide to eating in London
Take your pick from: The Brockley Balti House, Brockley Cross Café & Burgerhouse, Cinnamon, Foxberry Café, La Lanterna, Meze Mangal, Nass and Natt Café and Ozzie’s Café.
A restaurant search suggests Pizza Hut (doesn’t mention it’s takeaway only) on Lewisham Way, Taste of India and La Lanterna.
ViewLondon – The Londoners’ Guide to London
Brockley’s 3 entries compares to, say, Acton’s 14 or Cricklewood’s 15.
The Londoner’s bible, stuffed with articles about every conceivable aspect of city life.
Taking The Brockley Jack as our centre point, it searches its database of 2,500 restaurants for any place within a mile. And comes back with?
A Nando’s and a Japanese place, both in Catford.
Shepherd’s Bush, on the other hand, scores a respectable 13 entries. All of which seem to have the advantage of being in Shepherd’s bush.
In fact, Time Out doesn’t even have a category for Brockley or Crofton Park, although it does, have Lee (nothing in it, mind). Go looking for pubs in only New Cross and you’ll be presented with only three options.
The world’s most powerful search engine’s blind spot not only covers China, but also Brockley.
Type in “Brockley” and the first entry you get is Wikipedia. Fair enough. The second is a site, which says The Brockley Community Website is now closed as of 12th November 2003, which is hardly likely to inspire outsiders. The top 10 sites also includes the good old “South London Guide” and “AllinLondon”.
The internet black hole does have serious implications. It means that visitors and residents alike are often unaware of what areas like Brockley have to offer, with a resulting impact on business and local life. It means that even motivated people often struggle to understand how they can get involved in their local community. And it means when desk-bound journalists decide to write about Brockley, the best they can recommend in terms of eating and drinking is Fishy Business.
With thanks to Andrew Brown for spotting this one.
Cyber-Mayor Steve Bullock has launched his own website (no doubt he wrestled long and hard with Blogger). Here it is. There is a poll about spending priorities, but no option for either trees or digicams.
We have not yet formed a proper opinion about Mayor Steve, but we are aware that others in the blogosphere have and we suspect one or two of you may have too.