The Brockley Fun Run in words and pictures

Following Sunday's inaugural Brockley Fun Run, organiser Erin Essex said:

Congratulations and thank you to all those who participated in I Love Brockley Fun Run 2008 supported by The Brockley Cross Action Group (BXAG). Over 250 people raced up, down and around Hilly Fields on Sunday 27 April 2008. Over 100 local supporters come out to cheer the runners on.

They were running to help raise money for the Brockley Common, one of the BXAG’s main projects. The money raised will be used towardthe creation of the Common, a new open public space behind Brockley station ticket office. Please see the website http://www.brockley.com/bcag/ for more information as well as official race times.

The I Love Brockley Fun Run 2008 was a great way to encourage people to be fit, healthy and enjoy our wonderful green spaces in Brockley. There were two Sumo wrestlers, a devil, a North American native chief and a runner on stilts alongside families, prams, dogs and loads of local community runners. It was a truly amazing morning. It will definitely be anannual event!

The BXAG group has approx 30 “I Love Brockley” Badger t-shirts left from the limited edition 300 print. They are currently for sale for £10 at the Broca coffeeshop at 4 Coulgate Street, Brockley SE4 2RW. All the proceeds will go the BXAG.





Nu-Spice, Coulgate Street

BC review to follow. Please posts your comments and reviews here.

The Brockley Fun Run in Pictures

Thanks to Stuart for the pictures of the day.


Bringing the community together


Nothing says "fun run" like comedy glasses (the ones on the right)


Except possibly comedy sumos (and butterflies)

The tale of the tape

Thumbs-up from organiser Erin

The Big Match - Live!

The first time we clapped eyes on Ecosium it was a warm sunny afternoon, the windows were wide open on to the street. People sat drinking beer while wide-screen tellies played silently in the background.

Our immediate thought was that this would be the perfect place to watch World Cup and European Championship matches, in the summer. With England failing to qualify and Ecosium failing to create much of a "big match atmosphere", even on the best of days, we quietly abandoned those dreams.

This week's Champions League semi-finals (Manchester United v Barcelona, Chelsea v Liverpool) forces us to revisit the issue... where's the best place in Brockley to watch football?

The History of Brockley Cross

One of the things we underestimated when we started this blog was how great the appetite would be for local history - and how much knowledge would rest with our readers.

Following the recent article about the Knights Templar comes this article, contributed by Moira Tait, based on her own research. It tells the history of Brockley Cross in a time when locals may have suffered from Scrofula, but they were unafflicted by the double roundabout. It also explains why the tiny scrap of Common we have left is worth preserving.


The History of Brockley Cross by Moira Tait


If you read any local history about Brockley Cross, you’ll find no reference to it until the 19th century with the coming of the canal and the trains. While Brockley Green as a settlement (situated further south in the modern Brockley Rise area) does appear earlier, and the Manor of Brockley was in existence since the 12th century with the Premonstratensian Abbey founded near present St Peter’s church in c1187, the area of Brockley Cross is an unnamed meeting place of three roads. But if you look a little more closely at early maps, they suggest a more interesting history.

Most of the earliest maps of this area show three roads: The first road ran from the Cross area to Butt Lane (now Tanners Hill) and onto Deptford. (We know a settlement at Deptford was in existence in pre-Conquest times as it was called Mereton meaning ‘town in the marsh’.) The second road ran from Coulgate Street, along Brockley Road, onto Brockley Green near the site of the modern Brockley Jack pub. The third road ran from the Cross area south of Plow Garlick Hill (Telegraph Hill) onto Nonehead (Nunhead) and Goose Green. These are most likely Medieval routes because of the presence of the abbey near St Peter’s Church and Medieval settlements at Sydenham and Dulwich.

One of the earliest large-scale maps dates from 1741 and shows the junction of these three roads as a large diamond-shaped area. There are some buildings immediately to the east of this junction (on the site of Breakspears Road just north of the railway) which are named on later maps as Manor Farm. This farm supported the old manor house which may have been on the site of Breakspears Mews. Interestingly, the 1800 Milne map indicates field boundaries adjacent to Manor farm that show a reeve type pattern that probably goes back as far as the Neolithic period 5,000 years ago.



The junction at Brockley Cross has a number of features, namely a well and a few disparate buildings, typical of commons all over England and which were used to graze animals by anyone who lived locally to the common. The common was usually owned by the lord of the manor.

Brickworks on Plow Garlick Hill (Telegraph Hill) are first indicated on the Cole map of 1756 suggesting that the land had been sold and the new owners were no longer interested in farming. By 1775, the road to Nunhead and Goose Green appears to have truncated, only going as far as about Aspinall Road.

On the 1777 Andrews map, this road is extended north to New Cross Gate on present day line of Aspinall Road, crossing the railway to Waller Road.

By 1800 the road ceases to exist. Perhaps, the new owners of Plow Garlick Hill did not want anyone walking over their land or it may have had something to do with the military telegraph communication system established a few years earlier (hence the name Telegraph Hill). The common at Brockley Cross, however, appears not to have a name until 1800, when it is called Deptford Common. But Deptford Common used to be north of Hilly Fields. As this area was the first to be built upon, perhaps the name was re-allocated to the common at Brockley Cross.

Further changes in land ownership occurred in order to bring about the creation of the Croydon Canal and which destroyed the common in 1809. Its route followed Shardeloes Road, across the end of what is now Brockley Cross, along the western edge of Coulgate Street and then joined the line of what is now the railway. Even though it is hard to imagine a canal here, there are still traces to be seen. The retaining wall in the southern part of Shardeloes Road (site of the Brockley poem) reveals the cutting that gave a level section between two flights of locks of which were at least six locks between Brockley Cross and New Cross to be negotiated. A lock-keeper’s cottage named the Old Lock House was situated on the east side of the canal (Shardeloes Road) opposite Millmark Grove on the site of four modern garages. This cottage survived until the early 1940’s. The land on which it stood is a strange triangular shape and I believe is so because it was built on the common; its northern boundary is the edge of the common and the land adjacent was owned by someone else. The lock cottage land stretched into later Malpas Road and is marked by the four modern houses of 247-243A Malpas Road. When Malpas Road was built in the 1890’s a gap was left in the Victorian terrace for three houses - the builders were clearly expecting the cottage to disappear shortly! The later infill of the four houses rather than three explains the numbering of the fourth house as 243A.



The Canal was a financial failure and was closed in 1836 with the land sold to the new railway companies. It took three years for the London to Croydon Railway to open but there was no station at Brockley until forty years later in anticipation of the completion of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway route (to Victoria). This route opened its station Brockley Lane the following year (only to close during WWI as an economic measure). These two railways together with the canal finally obliterated all remaining evidence of the common. So the area of Brockley Cross, rather than being a simple junction of three roads, could have been a place where people grazed sheep, sold their goods at a marketplace and met for fairs. It may never have been deemed significant enough for mapmakers to name it, but in the lives of the people of Deptford, Brockley Green and Nunhead, the common at Brockley Cross was certainly known and used by them.


Thanks, of course, to Moira for her excellent work.

Tapastry Tapas Bar, Honor Oak Park

Our first visit to Tapastry last weekend was an enjoyable one, but the place seemed to suffer from a general lack of communication.

Just booking a table proved difficult enough, with us constantly reaching the answer machine. Eventually we received a message in return from Tapastry to confirm our booking, but it was left on our house phone, not the mobile number we’d supplied – useless, since we were out for the evening.

When we turned up, our name (or an interpretation of it) was scribbled in the book, but alas, no table. Not to worry, the manager was very welcoming, and we sat at the bar enjoying a lovely pint of Cruzcampo. We were offered a choice of tables, which were soon to become vacant, and informed the manager which one we’d like, but when it eventually became free, it was snapped up by a couple of passing buzzards, who swooped in before we could get off our bar stools. Rather than turfing them out of said hallowed table, we were then told that we should take a table in the corner or we ‘could be waiting for some time’.

For our food, we ordered a selection of hot and cold tapas, asking that the bread, olives, and manchego cheese be brought out first, before the warm dishes. As it all arrived together, five minutes later, we realised that this was not a place that plays by the rules, but one that just goes with the flow!

The food itself was excellent, and at a decent price. The atmosphere was also buzzing, and the music eclectic but cool (theme tune from Minder, anyone?). Tapastry is exactly the kind of place that Brockley Cross could do with, albeit slightly better organised. It is no doubt worth the walk to Honor Oak, and we’d love to know what you think. Perhaps try it on a weekday night.

Brockley in the media

The Guardian, April 25th

Brockley and New Cross each secured a mention in the Guardian's 'blog-by-blog guide to London', which sought out uncelebrated exotica in the capital. Obviously, anything in South East London, other than Greenwich, automatically qualifies as 'a secret'...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2008/apr/25/london.blogbyblogguide?page=2


The Sunday Telegraph, April 27th

Loft living in Honor Oak. Alright, not really Brockley, but it talks about the impact of the East London Line on the area...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/main.jhtml?xml=/property/2008/04/27/plofts127.xml

Brockley Central Drinks III - Judgement Day

May 8th, 8pm - The Talbot

There have only been two other Brockley Central drinks nights and both were quite different. So to call the third one a 'BC Drinks with a difference' is a little unnecessary. But whereas normally the intention is to achieve as little as possible, other than to get to know your neighbours, this time, it will be different.

The management team of the Talbot have offered to talk to attendees, to explain their plans to redevelop the Talbot. So you can drink and learn at the same time.

See you there.

All set for the Fun Run

This Sunday, more than 300 runners are expected to take part in Brockley's first ever fun run, beating the target set and ensuring that the event will be a big success.

But organisers Erin and Rob say there's still room - and time - for more people to take part in the 5km circuit of Hilly Fields.

"This is a last call for runners to sign-up. Our final list has to be in today. If anyone's been planning to register, please drop in your form to the Broca, or sign-up online without delay. And if you can't take part, then please come along and show your support."

And as if their encouragement wasn't enough, Brockley's very-own 'sexual terrorist' sprinkled a little stardust on the occasion. Richard Newman, Big Brother contestant (in a time when the show still really mattered), presenter on Gaydar Radio and good egg, said:

"Good luck to all Sunday's runners, it promises to be a great day. I know there will be a wonderful turnout - the fine folk of Brockley won't let us down. If you've been thinking about signing-up, don't delay!"

Who's best for Brockley?

Yes, it's time for the long-awaited elections bunfight ...

There are two sets of elections going on which affect Brockley residents - for the Assembly and for the Mayor. BC is going to focus on the policies of the major parties which are contesting both sets of elections, but in the interests of balance we've included a full list of candidates too.
We've used each candidate's official election materials to pull out a selection of their policies and promises which have some relevance to Brockley, and tried to present them in a balanced way. If you feel we've missed out or misrepresented something important then do please tell us so via the comments section!


The mayoral elections:

The high-profile struggle between Boris 'scourge of Liverpool' Johnson (for the Conservatives) and Ken Livingstone (nominally Labour, though you wouldn't notice it from his publicity materials, which stick to a fetching shade of purple) has been hogging the headlines, but Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats) and Sian Berry (Green Party) are also in with a chance of a decent showing. They've all got policies that could affect Brockley, so let's have a quick look at the highlights ...

Boris Johnson
- increasing police numbers and cutting red tape: could this affect the status of Brockley's local cop shop?
- Arm the police with hand-held weapons scanners: could this target Brockley's local villains?
- Live CCTV on buses and a community service scheme for young people who abuse free travel: well the Brockley Cross Action Group could do with some help on their station clean-up days ...
- More uniformed officers on buses and station platforms: would this make those who use Brockley transport at night feel safer?
- Protect our green, open spaces and encourage more recycling: good to hear Boris is a fan of Hilly Fields; perhaps he could do something about those big recycling bins outside the sorting office on Brockley Road?
- Work in partnership with local councils to build the homes that people want and can afford: but would Lewisham mayor Sir Steve Bullock want to work with him?


Ken Livingstone
- Continuing to improve bus services, renewing the Tube, bringing more rail services under London's control to raise standards: trains are a perpetual gripe, so this measure could win over Brockley's commuter crowd ...
- Basing a permanent police team in every neighbourhood: a concrete promise that could combat Brockley residents' complaints about a lack of bobbies on the beat.
- Building at least 50,000 new affordable homes over three years and maintaining the policy that at least half of new homes are affordable by ordinary Londoners: is Brockley affordable?
- New opportunities for young people in education and training and providing new safe places to go outside school hours: Brockley currently lacks space for young people; can Ken deliver?
- Make the Freedom Pass operate 24 hrs a day, free bus travel for under-18s, extend student discounts to Oyster pay-as-you-go: older people, kids and students are three well-represented groups in Brockley, will they cheer for cheaper public transport?


Brian Paddick
- "If I can't cut crime and make our streets safer, I'll quit": but does he approve of the yellow signs?
- Fighting to stop the closure of smaller police stations across the capital: can Brian bring bobbies back to Brockley?
- Improve bus services, particularly in those areas outside the tube network: this includes large parts of Brockley.
- New technology will be introduced to provide better information to passengers about bus services: but can he make them run on time?
- Opposes Heathrow expansion: could cut noise pollution in Brockley's skies


Sian Berry
- Cut the cost of living: Dandelion Blue, are you listening?!
- Slash the capital's carbon footprint: Brockley's good recycling service could give us a head start on this target, but she's also promising free insulation for every home that needs it (plenty of Brockley's old Victorian buildings do - they're draughty as hell). And she wants to see solar panels on 100,000 roofs by 2015. How many of those will be in Brockley?
- Cut all bus and off-peak Tube fares by 20p: leaving more money in our pockets for those Friday night trips to City Noodles ... not to mention her promise of a London 'living wage' of at least £7.20/hr.
- At least 60% of new housing will be affordable: Brockley could become even better value for money.
- Oppose all airport expansion in London and the South East: Less air and noise pollution for Brockley, but what about our cheap fun in the sun?
- Round-the-clock community policing through Safer Neighbourhoods Teams: does that mean round-the-clock yellow signage too?


In the interests of balance, the other mayoral candidates on your ballot paper are:
Richard Barnbrook, BNP
Lindsey German, the Left List
Gerard Batten, UKIP
Alan Craig, The Christian Choice
Matt O'Connor, the English Democrats



The assembly elections:

Bit of a tricky one this. You cast two separate votes in this contest - one for a named individual and one for a party. This is because of the complexities of proportional representation. The individual with the most votes wins the constituency member seat on the assembly. Additionally, the votes from all constituencies are totalled up; any party that gets more than 5% of the total vote gets a seat. The number of seats a party gets is proportional to its share of total votes cast.
Clear?!

So, Brockley falls into the Lewisham & Greenwich constituency, and the individuals competing for your vote are:
Tess Culnane (National Front)
Len Duvall (Labour Party, and current L&G representative on the Assembly)
Chris Flood (Socialist Alternative)
Stephen Hammond (Christian People's Alliance and Christian Party)
Andy Jennings (Conservative Party)
Jennifer Jones (the Left List)
Susan Luxton (yes, that one - the Green Party)
Johanna Munilla (English Democrats)
Brian Robson (Liberal Democrats)
Arnold Tarling (UKIP)

In addition you are asked to cast a vote for one of the following parties:
Abolish The Congestion Charge
BNP
Christian Choice
Conservative Party
English Democrats
Green Party
Labour Party
Left List
Liberal Democrats
One London (Leader Damian Hockney)
Respect (George Galloway)
UKIP
Unity for Peace & Socialism
Rathy Alagaratnam (independent)


So those are your choices - now it's up to you to decide who's best for Brockley on May 1st. Who's it going to be?

The Martin's Yard masterplan

Ahead of tonight's consultation meeting regarding the newly unveiled master plan for Martin's Yard in Brockley Cross, we spoke to Colum Maloney from developers MacDonald Egan, about the project...

What are your plans for Martin's Yard?

We've owned the site for about 7 or 8 months now and we want to turn it in to a new street, right in the heart of Brockley. It will be home to around 40 commercial units and family homes.

It's a very unusual design - a modern take on the Victorian housing nearby, they look a little like beach huts. There will be three blocks of housing, each with their own green space. There'll also be quite a lot of parking provision for a development of this size in this sort of location. Parking is always a major concern for existing residents and something a lot of buyers look for.

Brockley still has relatively few businesses operating locally, which means you have a bit of dead time between about 10am and 5pm, when not many people are about. This development would help change that, creating 40 new commercial units, ideal for small entrepreneurial businesses. If each of those businesses employs two people, that's a business community of 80 new people, who will help to bring more life to Brockley during the working day, supporting the businesses around Brockley Cross.

There is also a small building intended for community use, though we haven't worked out exactly how it could best be used yet.

Given the current dearth of local businesses, why do you believe you can attract business people to the area?

Places like Shoreditch are becoming too expensive for many small businesses. But Brockley has a lot to offer them including great transport connections and a creative community. Obviously the East London Line will help, but it's also about creating the right facilities.

One of the really important aspects of Martin's Yard is that it won't be a gated development, we're effectively building a new street, which we hope will be home to a lot of like-minded businesses and a part of the Brockley community. That footfall will also help those businesses. We're creating facilities which just don't exist at the moment, certainly not like the business park next door.

If planning permission is secured, how soon can we expect to see the project completed? Will the turbulence in the property market delay things?

We want to submit planning in May. In an ideal world, it would take around two months to get approval for the project. If all goes to plan [and he stresses there are always plenty of hurdles that any development must overcome] then the plan is to start pretty much straight away, with a 14-month build programme.

As for the property market, well it certainly is "interesting" at the moment, shall we say, but as a developer you have to take a call on what the property market will look like when the project's due for completion and have confidence. Things will look very different in 18 months to two years.

What feedback have you had about your plans from the local groups you've consulted with?

The local community groups in Brockley are some of the best we've dealt with. Very proactive, with a good attitude. The BXAG, for example, have asked to be responsible for planting the flower beds in the development, a suggestion we're very happy with.

And what does he hope to get from meetings like tonight?

It's obviously important to have local support and we believe in transparency, so we're just going to lay it all out for people and ask for their feedback. Secondly, we're interested in ways in which we can make it work best for the local community. The development is big enough that there will be Section 106 money available for the community and one of the groups [the Telegraph Hill Society] mentioned that they hoped some money might go towards their plans to rennovate the community centre, but that kind of issue is for the Council to decide on. Above all, we hope people like what they see and hear about our ideas.

We have two sites nearby, currently in development. One in New Cross, one on Lewisham Way. Our bread and butter is developing in Lewisham, so it's really important that we don't let people down and we deliver on our promises. In a year's time, we could be back in Brockley trying to develop another site, so we want to get this right.


Five minutes later, Colum rings back...


One other thing I probably should have mentioned before is that our architect, Mary Duggan, has lived on Drakefell Road for several years now, so she's paid special attention to these plans. She doesn't want to let her own area down.

True confessions

The wishlist of local shops and services BC readers would like to see in the area grows ever longer, but there's a dark side to this issue, an aspect people whisper about shamefacedly but which hasn't yet been dragged out into the light.

So it's time for Brockley Central to go a little bit Oprah and ask for readers' true confessions - what local shops and services wouldn't you use? What's currently on offer in the area that wild horses couldn't drag you into?

To kick the discussion off, this little corner of BC has to admit that we wouldn't use a local hairdresser. That's not to cast aspersions on their abilities, we're sure they'd do an ok job. But after years of searching we've finally found somewhere we like, which doesn't make us feel uncomfortably untrendy or ripped off, and unfortunately it's not in Brockley.

We also have to admit that we can't imagine a world in which we'd set foot in Gulen's winebar, simply because it has always seemed a bit odd and extremely unwelcoming. Please feel free to contradict if you've had positive experiences there though.

So there we go - BC's true confession. What's yours?

Saigon Blues: New restaurant for Lewisham Way



Lewisham Way is often the target of jokes and mild bullying on this blog. But there are flashes of hope, at least along the Brockley stretch. The Meze Mangal bakery is on its way, but we can also look forward to a new restaurant and takeaway, rising from the ashes of the left-hand half of LV Food & Wine, more often referred to on the blog as the 'Chinese Supermarket'.

The restuarant will be managed by the same family who run the supermarket, and is, they admit a decision taken due to increased competition that Tesco has brought.

Local residents must have noticed the building work going on, but yesterday, the restaurant was crowned - as Saigon Blues. But behind the giant fluorescent sign, what will the restaurant be like? We managed to get some answers from manager Chiyung Nim (Chi).

What was the motivation to open the restaurant?

The real motivation in opening the restaurant was to give the public a chance to eat the similar food we do, and a chance for us to get some proper food in the area.

Of course, the shocking decision from the council allowing Tesco to open next door to us effected our business; so in order to carry on within the area we decided to follow a new business path.

What sort of food and drinks will you be serving?

Food is based on selected dishes from Chinese and Vietnamese. We didn't want a whole great big menu with hundreds of dishes, but rather just the few dishes to make them up to our standards. Drinks will be ranging from fruit juices, sodas to alcohol. Takeaways will be available but deliveries are still unsure and not decided yet.

What kind of atmosphere do you want to create?

I think we are aiming towards a laid back and classic theme.

The restaurant aims to be open by late May or early June, and Brockley Central hope to be amongst the first customers. Good luck to all at Saigon Blues!

Principles at stake

West Brockley outfit 'Principles Jazz Club' on St Norbert Road, is recommended for imminent closure.

Notable by its absence from the list of readers' reasons why people should spend more time in West Brockley, Principles has been the subject of a Premises Licence Review, due to "Extreme Health and Safety Issues."

The review document (dated April 11 2008) from Lewisham Council notes that:

"Following discussions with the Licensee it has become apparent that the premises are due to close within the next eighteen months and as such the Licensee has stated that he has no funds with which to rectify the situation. In light of this information and the severity of the Health and Safety issues it is the opinion of the Officer that total revocation would be an appropriate course of action in this case."

Should we be ready to mourn its passing?

With thanks to L for the tip-off.

Major development proposed for Brockley Cross

Developers MacDonald Egan are currently consulting residents over a major new scheme, proposed on the site of Martin's Yard, off Drakefell Road, adjacent to Brockley Cross. The site straddles the Victoria-bound railway line.

The plan proposes a mix of residential and commercial space and, in their letter to local people, they say that their plan will bring "signature design and development to Brockley," which will "act as a catalyst for regeneration for the neighbourhood, building on its existing strengths."

MacDonald Egan specialise in "challenging sites" and has a penchant for south east London - having created the new apartments at 34-39 Deptford High Street, The Glasshouse in New Cross and the White Building in London Bridge. It is the main sponsor of the Deptford X arts festival.

In contrast to some of the developers who have been sniffing around Brockley of late, it has a decent track record and (in our view) an eye for good design. It also has scale (a pipeline of 30 projects currently underway), which hopefully means it will have the resources to deliver on their ideas.

The developers have already met with the Telegraph Hill Society and the Brockley Cross Action Group and we would be interested to hear the views of readers from either of those groups, who attended the sessions. The plans are going on display to the public on Wednesday evening, 23rd April, from 4 - 8pm at The Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road (next to St Catherines Church).

We hope to bring you more on the story very shortly.

Thanks to Anna for the story.

Brockley Bites

Big plans for the Telegraph Hill Centre

A local architect and artist have joined forces to try and redevelop the Telegraph Hill Centre and Cafe Orange into an interconnected building that will house a new state of the arts venue. They discussed their plans with local residents recently during the Telegraph Hill Festival. The site is large, with stunning views of the capital and attendees were impressed by the scope and vision of the project. We hope to bring you a more detailed feature about this plan, in the near future.

Brockley's Shared Stories

A new website has been set up to play host to stories inspired by London's streets. Brockley's entries somehow do without mention of delis or yellow signs.

Four recruits for BrocSoc

Brockley Central readers have shown that they have some trousers to go with their mouth. The recent article about the Brockley Society generated four new volunteers for the conservation area group. BrocSoc have contacted us to say they're thrilled with the response and will be contacting the volunteers shortly.

Butterflies descend on Hilly Fields

Having completed the London Marathon in 5 hours 50 mins, the Brockley Butterflies, will be taking part in next Sunday's Hilly Fields Fun Run.

See their marathon interview here.

Livesy Museum hope

The 'Save the Livesy' campaign is celebrating three bits of good news which suggest that the Livesy Museum for children, located on the Old Kent Road, may yet have a future.

Southwark Council have admitted that they don't own the building outright so can't sell it or lease it and that they breached the conditions of the original indenture. They say it would also be a breach of their trust if they just allowed the Friends to run the Museum, so they are working with the Charity Commission to set up a scheme for its new future. The Friends of Livesy Museum have also been invited to meet with the Council to discuss their proposal and they have lined up a meeting with Schools Minister, Jim Knight.

With thanks to Fabhat, who provided a large chunk of today's edition.

Drinking ban is fashionably late

The introduction of Brockley’s first Drinking Control Zone (DCZ), which covers a huge area around the Lewisham Way end of the conservation area, has been delayed - apparently due to the council failing to put signage in place quick enough.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, since the original date was aptly set for April fool’s day. The DCZ should now be in effect by 1st May. While Brockley Central is not particularly concerned about the delay, it doesn’t generally bode well for Steve Bullock’s commitment to tackling problems with anti-social behaviour in this area.

Another Brockley-phile declares her love

Sometimes it's nice to remember how great Brockley is...

Signs o' the times

In response to the debate over the BIG YELLOW SIGNS (warning us all that we are never safe at any time, no matter how much we might like to think we are), Cllr Dean Walton made some enquiries to Council officers, to see where they came from and how long they intend to stick around.

Here's the response he's received from the Community Safety team:

"The yellow signs were agreed as a tactical option by the Safer Lewisham Partnership Joint Action Group (JAG) which is the joint operational tasking group for the borough. These were erected as a result of the detailed data analysis across the borough targeting particular hotspots, linked to proactive work aiming to reduce overall levels of crime across the borough and in hotspots.

"The Partnership is aware that the use of high visibility advice boards can alarm some people, and therefore only use them for a limited period in areas where there has been a specific police request for them. The signs in Brockley will be taken down in the next couple of weeks.

"We are also currently working on a multi-million pound street lighting project which will also help make our streets safer."

Good news that they won't stick around for long, although the letter is nearly two weeks old now and we haven't noticed their disappearance yet. Also, better street lighting is something to be welcomed.

However, the fact that the decision to put up the signs in the first place was made by the Safer Lewisham Partnership Joint Action Group (JAG) shows up the problem. The group is comprised of representatives from the police and local safer neighbourhoods groups and is accountable to no-one. As a result they take these kinds of decisions without wider community consultation.

More fundamentally, the problem with this kind of group is that it is comprised of people who are (for understandable reasons) preoccupied with crime, to the virtual exclsion of any other kind of consideration. Of course, the police have a crucial role to play in these debates about our streets but they are not the only voice that matters - there a reason why police states get a bad rep.

Likewise, Safer Neighbourhoods groups tend to consist of people whose lives have been blighted by crime. It's totally reasonable that they should feel crime is the number one priority too - and it's noticeable that the people who've spoken up on behalf of the signs have nearly all declared themselves to have been victims of street crime.

The mindset of many people involved in Safer Neighbourhood Teams is that there's no point in planting new public flower beds because people will only vandalise them and our streets are besieged by criminals, so every lamppost needs a dire warning attached. Our outside world is there to be protected against, not enjoyed. It's a pretty miserable world view and one that is counter-productive, since it creates a poor quality public environment, which breeds more crime.

But not everyone feels that way. Not everyone wants to live their lives looking over their shoulders or suspisciously eyeing up every young man they pass in the street. Some people like to be able to walk down their own street, without constantly being reminded of danger.

The signs are due to leave and we are not uniquely afflicted, but in future, it would be nice to think that the opinions of the majority of people, who are not obsessed with crime, might be sought.

Ten Excellent Blogs

Brockley Central was recently included in The Telegraph Communities Editor's list of ten excellent blogs. As a result, I'm expected to nominate ten more excellent blogs. Here they are:

Greenladywell

I've never voted Green and I don't live in Ladywell, but GreenLadywell should be the template for every other local politician to follow. Sue Luxton's genuine commitment to the area and her hard work are clear to see, the posts are regular and informative and she is prepared to take and respond to criticism. She also gets stuck in to other local blogs (like this one) in order to reach a wider audience. Lots of politicians talk about using the internet to engage with people - but few do it as well as Sue and Ute.

UK resistance

I don't really play video games anymore either, but this site is a consistently funny paean to all things SEGA (and an era in which games all featured brightly coloured characters, set against vivid blue skies) and a vitriolic campaign against Sony. It's a culture war I never knew existed, let alone thought I'd take sides in.

Anna Pickard

What's better than sitting in your living room heaping scorn on The Apprentice candidates every Wednesday night? Doing so while reading Anna Pickard's live blog on the Guardian, sharing a whole nation's derision.

Larry David

He writes rarely, but Larry David's posts are worth the wait.

Rocket Boom

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to nominate this one because technically it's a vlog - a video blog. Each day, there's a new, dreamily-shot, short film about some aspect of technology. Best when it avoids political "satire" and sticks to footage of funny robots.

Richard Edelman

Because if I'm going to include a blog for the company I work for, I may as well go right to the top. Richard Edelman is the president and CEO of Edelman - which is the world's largest independent PR firm - and he's passionate about blogging. If Richard hadn't trumpeted the importance of the blogosphere so regularly at company meetings, it's doubtful it would have occurred to me to start Brockley Central.

Robert Peston

Good, clear business journalism.

Comment Central

Daniel Finkelstein's agreeably eclectic blog hoovers up an array of the most interesting articles online and he regularly lobs in some provocative opinions of his own, to keep it interesting.

And since BC's a collaborative effort, I asked Jon and Kate for nominations too. Jon went AWOL so Kate gets two:

Paul Linford

Paul Linford, an ex-Lobby journalist with some interesting insights into political news stories.

Little Red Boat

For sheer personality and amusing writing.

Propertysnake

Seeing as a thread about an ex-florist has morphed in to a discussion about house prices (at the expense of the poor stag beetle), we thought we'd feed the beast, with this little snapshot from Propertysnake.co.uk

Propertysnake lists properties which have reduced their asking price most in comparison with the initial asking price at which they were put on the market.

Rather than serving as good guide to how prices are moving, it probably works best as a guide to where currently property price expectations are most unrealistic - where owners and agents face the biggest wake-up-calls.

In a completely non-scientific way, we have compared taken a snapshot of the first and tenth-biggest property price drop in SE4 and compared the average with the other London postcodes ending in "4", plus a few of our near neighbours, purely for sport. By this measure, Brockley and Telegraph Hill are amongst the most "realistic" property markets, ie: where asking prices are most closely in line with what the market will bear.

Make of it as much or as little as you will.

Postcode Area / No 1 drop / No 10 drop / Average of the two

SE4 / Brockley / 20% / 9% / 14.5%
SW4 / Clapham / 21% / 13% / 17%
W4 / Hounslow / 23% / 15% / 19%
N4 / Finsbury Park / 15% / 11% / 13%
NW4 / Barnet / 23% / 10% / 16.5%
E4 / Waltham Forest / 16% / 7% / 11.5%
SE23 / Forest Hill / 33% / 9% / 21%
SE22 / East Dulwich / 35% / 16% / 25.5%
SE18 / Telegraph Hill / 15% / 11% / 13%

Springwatch: Lewisham

In the event of a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches are due to inherit the earth. Likewise, scorpions are always showing off their ability to be frozen and resuscitated with a blowtorch. Whatever the fate of the planet, the future of most mini-beasts looks assured. Not so, the British stag beetle (Lucanus cervus), which is apparently the panda of the insect world.

As visitors to the Horniman Museum are reminded, Lewisham is the front-line in the battle to save the UK's largest beetle (which grows up to 8cm).

The London Wildlife Trust explains:

"Numbers have declined since the 1940s and their UK distribution has contracted from a large swathe of southern England and Wales. Recent surveys suggest that they are now more restricted to the south-east, with concentrations along the Thames Valley, in north-east Essex/Suffolk, and the New Forest. Perhaps surprisingly London is one such ‘hot-spot’, and is nationally significant for the stag beetle populations it supports.

"The stag beetle appears to be significantly more common in the south and west of London, in areas such as Lewisham, Beckenham, Dulwich, Wandsworth, and Richmond.

"Their decline has been attributed to a number of factors, the primary one being the reduction of appropriate habitat - dead wood. The tidying up of woodlands, parks and gardens has led to the burning or chipping of dead wood, and stump-grinding of felled trees removes another vital source for the beetle."

Projects like this one, by award-winning Brockley enterprise Envirowork, are helping to create new habitat for the beetle, but Brockley gardeners can do their bit, by allowing dead wood to lie around at the end of their gardens, where the larvae (admittedly alien-looking things) grow.

Sightings of the beetle are usually made between May and August, which is mating season and also flying season - so if one of them comes buzzing in to site, try not to swat the poor, aerobatically-impaired creatures out of the sky.

Retail madness

When we heard the news that local florist Nicki Fiander was to close, we greeted it with mixed emotions.

On the one hand, any functioning shop in Brockley Cross is a thing to be cherished, particularly one which actually makes a positive contribution to the local streetscape. On the other, we never really used it that much because, to be honest, it wasn't the greatest shop in the world. It sold a modest and slightly old-fashioned selection of flowers and very few items for the garden, meaning that there was rarely anything there we wanted to buy.

When we heard that it was closing due to the landlord increasing the rent, pricing the current occupant out of the market, we were a bit surprised. In an area that struggles to attract businesses, on a parade which includes one of the most infamous limbo shops in Brockley and faces the dreaded double roundabout, the landlord was either mad or a capitalist genius, with a clear plan to sieze the opportunity presented by the imminent opening of The Tea Factory and the coming of the East London Line.

The latter seemed unlikely, but when the shop closed without an estate agent's sign appearing and work began to modify its layout, our spirits lifted.

But then, instead of a new occupant, a big sign appeared, advertising the shop to let. But there was no estate agent's details, only an anonymous mobile phone number to call. So we called it. A few times. Each time, we got a voicemail message from a woman who didn't identify herself. We left a message, asking for an interview about the shop. No reply. Until today.

While we were on the phone (to Lewisham Council, about local developments, coincidentally) we missed a call from a sales company based in the Republic of Ireland, giving us a number in Ireland to call, to arrange a viewing. With the prospect of being able to get some clear answers from someone about the shop disappearing over the horizon, we rang back. Voicemail. Three times.

None of this bodes well for the interview. But it bodes even less well for anyone who might be interested in opening a shop there. There is no website for the company marketing the site, no online listing for 9 Brockley Cross, as far as Google can tell.

We'd love to hear from the landlord who thought that upping the rent on a tricky site and then marketing it with an anonymous number directing people to an Irish voicemail account was an effective business strategy. And this experience is not unique. It seems that Brockley is blighted by a number of hopeless landlords, who make it as difficult as possible to open a local business. Next time someone gets your order wrong at a local cafe, remember you should be full of admiration that they even managed to open.

Our quest to speak to someone about the shop's fate continues...

The Hobgoblin, New Cross Road

BC review to follow. Please post your comments and reviews here.

Lewisham joins Council coaltion against Heathrow expansion

Lewisham Council has joined 2M - the alliance of 19 local authorities "concerned at the environmental impact of [possible] Heathrow expansion on their communities."

As Brockley Jon reported from the recent BrocSoc meeting, some residents of Brockley suffer from aircraft noise, generated by Heathrow flights. If a third-runway is built, then flights over Lewisham could double during the day, although limits on night flights would remain.

As one of the residents affected, Brockley Central is not overly-bothered by aircraft noise, which we only notice occasionally during the day, when we're outside. We'd rather it wasn't there of course, but the situation isn't comparable to the noise pollution experienced by people in West London and it is a fairly long way down our list of public nuisances - below dog poo, commercial waste bins clogging the main streets, litter, speeding drivers and massive car stereos, for example.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said: “Aircraft noise is a growing concern for Lewisham residents, so we have joined with other councils to make the case against the expansion of Heathrow.”

But here's 2M's stated "position":

Members are not anti-Heathrow but feel passionately that the Government consistently fails to either acknowledge or assess the airport's full environmental impact...

The 2M Group believes that the Government and the industry consistently overstate the economic benefits of aviation and fail to measure the full environmental costs.

We believe the Government should commission an independent cost-benefit analysis for all expansion proposals.

We do not think it can be right for the Government to allow for a doubling of carbon emissions from domestic aviation by 2050 – while expecting all other sectors to reduce their emissions.

The proposals ask people to take on trust that extra flights will not lead to more noise or worsening air pollution. This is based on the promise of a radical change in airlines' fleet mixes including new aircraft not currently on the drawing board.

Which, of course, is not much of a position at all. The 2M literature doesn't exactly make the case against Heathrow expansion - it prefers to pose lots of questions and challenge many of the assumptions made in the case for Heathrow expansion, such as the number and quality of jobs created.

While this is all completely legitimate and there are plenty of strong arguments against expansion, it avoids 2M having to state the reality of the situation, which is that if you block Heathrow expansion, you either restrict flights (making the cost of UK air travel more expensive and (according to supporters of the expansion) restrict economic growth) or you build a new airport elsewhere (the vaunted alternative being the Thames estuary) at enormous (and unknown) cost.

The reason 2M don't say any of this of course, is because they want to create the biggest possible coalition, and don't want to alienate support by spelling out the implications of their questions. Far easier to demand further enquiry.

Mayor Bullock is happy to have signed Lewisham up to outright opposition to expanding Heathrow. But are Brockley residents happy with this decision?

Brockley Bites

Brockley Butterflies to run the Marathon in honour of local woman

Local running team the Butterflies will be taking part in this weekend's London Marathon in honour of local girl Seana Culwin, who died last year, aged only 26, from an incurable autoimmune disease called Lupus.

Seana Culwin was a very active volunteer in the local community, working with children in Brockley and Honor Oak. After she died, the family received cards from local families who'd been touched by her life. She has a bench in her honour in Hilly Fields.

The Butterflies consist of Seana's father, step-mother, sister and her friend and they'll be running in bright yellow body paint and lilac butterfly wings.

The Butterflies will be raising awareness of St Thomas' Lupus Trust and will be making an appearance at the Brockley Fun Run.

The Postcodes Project

The Museum of London has begun an online initiative called The Postcodes Projects which highlights moments of local history for each postcode. The entry for SE4 reveals that, even before the Greens ran the town, Brockley was a hotbed of progressive politics.

Given what JPM managed to dig up the other day about the Knights Templar, we're a little underwhelmed with the current entry, but it's an interesting little snapshot nonetheless. Thanks to Andrew Brown for sending this our way.

Ashmead Road

Readers Joanne wanted to know whether any BC reader could help her with this question:

Does anyone know why Ashmead Road has suddenly turned into being one way? I am guessing it may have something to do with the redevelopment of the first school which is in progress but it's really, really annoying since I now can't get out of my drive (at the back of the house) and round to the front of the house without doing a loop round Friendly Street and Lewisham Way. Please tell me it's not permanent!

Night of glory for Brockley Central


Telegraph journalist Shane Richmond has shown that people from Brockley who achieve greatness don't forget their roots. He very kindly included Brockley Central on his list of "Ten Excellent Blogs". Nominees are expected to nominate their top-ten in turn. Something we shall have to put some thought in to!

Night of glory for Brockley at the Lewisham Business Awards

Brockley's finest took-on the best of the borough in a glittering ceremony for the Lewisham Business Awards 2008, winning one category and collecting five more runners-up nominations between them.

We weren't there, but just this opening line from the press release is enough to conjure images of the Oscars during cinema's golden age:


"The winners of the prestigious 2008 Lewisham Business Awards were announced on Thursday, 3 April at a ceremony staged at Blackheath Halls and compered by Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of ‘The Apprentice’ TV show."

Best company of the year and the overall winner was
the Royal Gurkha Restaurant, Downham, but elsewhere, local businesses did us proud.

Envirowork scooped gold in the Best Social Enterprise category and was shortlisted in the best company category, with the judges commenting:

Lewisham is home to a large number of voluntary and community organisations as well as companies set up with a clear social purpose, many of which deliver services to local residents. The Council and the Lewisham Strategic Partnership recognise that these organisations often have an in-depth understanding of their local communities and consequently are well placed to deliver services which meet local needs.
Envirowork showed evidence of a wide range of training and support offered. The organisation delivered over 350 environmental improvement projects offering employment opportunities to over 120 long-term unemployed residents whilst increasing profitability ten-fold in 2 years.
The Broca cafe also featured three times in the shortlists, including the People's Choice category [voted for by Lewisham residents], Best New Business and the Environmental Excellence Award.
Crossways Academy pupil Fatmata Tarawali was also shortlisted for the Best Young Entrepreneur award.

Congratulations to all of the finalists.

Trees: War and Peace

It's not only fusty old local societies that need volunteers you know. Sometimes, funky, zeitgeisty, cutting-edge, virtual, 2.0 societies can do with a hand too. So it's with great pleasure that Brockley Central can formally welcome Brockley Kate in to its editorial circle of trust. This means that she now has the power to delete any one of us, at any time. We hope she uses it well.

Kate's Brockley Central career kicks-off with this report on yesterday's early morning summit with council officers regarding a tree - and trees more generally. It's an epic:

Lewisham Council is planning to cut down a tree in the Lewisham College car park on the corner of Lewisham Road and Tressillian Road because it is interfering with a local CCTV network.

After BC users expressed concern, council tree and CCTV officers offered to meet with us and local councillor Dean Walton to explain the situation in more detail.

The meeting took place yesterday. morning at 7.30am and was attended by Brockley Nick, Brockley Jon, me, BC reader Vikki, Cllr Dean Walton, Lewisham Council tree officers Sean MacBride and Rick Farr, and. Lewisham Council CCTV manager Anne Sharp.

They did a very good job of explaining the situation and many thanks to them for attending.

The basic facts are these:

- The tree affected is a large mature lime tree to the right of the car park entrance, which is at the top of Tressillian Road;

- There is a local CCTV circuit which encompasses three cameras: a. camera on the edge of the car park, pointing onto Lewisham Way; a camera further up Lewisham Way on the corner with Breakspears Road; and a camera directly outside St. Johns stain station;

- The tree is interfering with the CCTV circuit (Anne has promised to send me a technical report from the. council’s CCTV consultants explaining exactly how this happens, and I’ll summarise this for BC readers if you’d like me to);

- It would take at least £10,000 to re-configure the camera circuit and this cost would have to come out of the CCTV manager’s budget;

- The council’s tree officers found when they inspected the tree that it is already diseased: it is ‘multi-stemmed’ (has more than one main. trunk stem) with ‘included bark’ and it’s structurally unstable. These problems can be diagnosed and. solved through pruning in a tree’s early years, but this didn’t happen in this case (the tree is about 20. years old). Because of these problems the tree will need to be cut down at some future point regardless of the CCTV problem. The tree officers are not able to predict whether this might happen in 6 months or several years’ time.

Therefore the council has won planning permission to cut the tree down.

Anne Clark said: ‘I’ve been CCTV manager for three years and this is the first tree we’ve had to fell.’

The tree officers have promised to plant three trees on Tressillian Road to compensate for this one, one of which will be funded by the CCTV manager as a direct replacement. The other two are part of the Localities Fund allocation, an issue we’ve covered in previous posts.

The replacement tree won’t be planted on the site of the old tree because it could cause similar problems, and also the Lewisham College site is up for sale in 2012, including the car park, which along with its trees could be re-developed by the new owners. Therefore replacing the tree in the same position isn’t suitable in the long term.

Instead, the trees will be located:

- Outside 30 Tressillian Road, where there is a tarmac’d space where there used to be a tree;

- And at either side of the junction between Tressillian Road and Harefield Road, where there are two tarmac’d spaces where there used to be trees.

My view is that this sounds like an acceptable resolution to a situation in which there is no easy answer.

During the course of the meeting we heard some interesting background from the tree officers which I think sheds new light on this and other tree-related planning applications. Basically, Sean MacBride and Rick Farr have only been working for Lewisham Council for 18 months to 2 years; since they started they’ve been tackling a backlog of tree maintenance issues. This includes diseased and structurally unstable trees. Perhaps it’s therefore unsurprising that we’re seeing an increasing number of planning applications relating to trees as they sort out this situation.

The tree officers want to reach a point at which they can focus on pruning and maintenance rather than removal, but there’s some work to be done before they get there. They are currently surveying all the trees in the borough and working out what action to take with those that need attention.

They have emphasised to us that they would really like to have a clear policy of one-for-one replacement, but the cost of new trees comes out of their budget, which is currently primarily taken up with dealing with the backlog of ‘problem’ trees. Affordability, rather than intention, is a real barrier for them.

I was really impressed by the council officers’ enthusiasm for the conservation area and their efforts to explain the situation to a bunch of random spods off the interweb. I was very interested to hear about the tree officers’ wider role in keeping Brockley green and I’d like to thank them, Anna Clark and Dean Walton very much for their time and helpfulness.

BC poster Vikki also attended the meeting; here are her comments, which give more detail about the wider issues discussed:

On the cutting down of this tree - my general thoughts are that it’s understandable why it's happened and, as trees go, it's not a disaster, £10,000 is a lot of money and we shouldn't expend anymore energy working on this particular tree.

As a user of St Johns station, and one who uses the station late at night and quite often on her own, then I think the CCTV camera at the station is an important one. I do have concerns about endless CCTV cameras but that one I like.

I don't fully understand why this particular tree is a problem - I do get the basics but it generally seems similar in size to plenty of other trees so it would be good to see the stuff from the consultant as promised by the CCTV lady.

And whilst the tree will have got bigger/more spread out because of the multi-trunk issue, more joined-up working between council officers might have given more thought to trees when CCTV cameras were sited - the CCTV cameras have presumably been here for only a few years rather than 10-15 years so could these problems not have been foreseen in a tree-y area? This might be the first tree to be felled but will others follow? Will trees be considered when future CCTV cameras are put up?

However the most important thing that came out of the meeting (for me) is that trees in Brockley aren't systematically replaced when old/problematic ones are felled. This isn't strictly because there isn't enough budget but more because the council is playing catch up. One tree bod has been working at the council for two years and the other for 18 months. When they arrived it seems there wasn't great knowledge of where trees are and what state they are in. They are now undertaking the massive task of surveying all trees in the borough and part of this includes getting rid of the 'bad' trees. This may be why there is a spate of tree-felling at the moment. This means that in storms last year about 150 trees fell down in Lewisham and this year it was just about 10. That might reflect storm strength but I think there's something in what they say.

Once this programme of work is completed it seems the council plans to replace trees at the same time that they fell them - this is what I want. This means that replacing the CCTV tree would mean the council would have to find a brand new tree site rather than just a site that previously had a tree that was felled and not replaced. It would mean that we wouldn't spend locality fund money on two trees on old tree sites – again, these would have been automatically replaced.

Finally, whilst I'm okay with this tree going I do think that trees are a vital part of our local environment - I'm not going to be a conservation area bore but they are one of the things that really add to the nature of the Brockley conservation area. If we are to stop future trees being felled then we need to stop them at planning permission stage. It's not a massive problem that only the Brockley Society was informed and it's not their job to tell everyone else - we just need to be more active in the society! However I don't see why some consultation of immediate residents can't be done too, especially for council-owned street trees.

City Noodles, Brockley Road

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

The Brockley Society

Brockley Central attended a recent meeting of the Brockley Society, to get a better insight in to the organisation’s work and its priorities, going forward. We hope to bring you a full interview with 'BrocSoc' very soon, but in the meantime, here’s a summary of what happened at the meeting, from Brockley Jon:

We couldn't help but get a sense of the surreal , as we supped our heavily subsidised pint and sat in front of the glitzy stage of the Rivoli. For much of the crowd, the draw was surely the chance tomarvel at the ballroom in all its glory, especially considering recent events. However, there was serious business on the agenda.

John Stewart, of Heathrow expansion opposition group HACAN Clear Skies, gave an engaging talk on the future of Brockley's skies. John stood bolt upright behind the Rivoli turntables and, with a shimmering wall of tinsel behind him, it looked almost biblical - somewhat fitting for the sermon he was about to deliver. According to HACAN, the Heathrow expansion will be bad news for South East London, as well as West London. If a third runway gets the go-ahead, and Terminal Six is built (although they'vegot to sort T5 out first), the near constant 'line up' of planes across the skies of Brockley is set to double, into two 'streams', turning over Woolwich and descending slowly over our heads.

Anyone living in the north end of Brockley knows that there are already quite enough planes disturbing our peace, so John urged us to make our thoughts known to our local MPs. The good news is that the current legal limit on the number of night flights will not change.

Stuart Woodin of the Brockley Cross Action Group gave an informative talk about Brockley Common, bringing us bang-up-to-date with the project's progression. There's little to add that hasn't already been covered on this blog, but hearing about the trials and tribulations from someone who is obviously passionate about the project made for interesting listening.

Considering the location, it was fitting that Gillian Heywood from the Brockley Society obliged with a short talk through the history of the Rivoli, drawing upon research from English Heritage already posted on the blog here. After this came a call for ideas as to what use the ballroom could play in the community. Then finally, a Q&A session, with topics ranging from Hilly Fields Fayre to the future of Brockley Police Station.

In reality, the Brockley Society is the Brockley Conservation Area Society, with a clearly defined remit to represent the interests of those who live within it (who have automatic membership).

There’s no doubt that BrocSoc did a great job in protecting the Conservation Area from redevelopment since its formation in the 1970s. It’s also clear that it has begun to address planning issues with renewed vigour in recent months. Meanwhile, the Summer Fayre is a local highlight, for which we all owe BrocSoc a debt of thanks.

However, it’s also clear that BrocSoc is at a crossroads. Brockley is changing and the BrocSoc needs to change too. At present, it lacks a long-term vision for the area – what kind of place do we want it to be? What initiatives can we organise to make things better? Defending the status quo is great up to a point, but it is also a wasted opportunity. BrocSoc has official status in local planning discussions, a newsletter and volunteers with a great knowledge of local issues – it could be doing so much more than it does at present.

What Brockley Central would like to see BrocSoc focus on is Brockley Road. Our high-street has been woefully neglected by Council and BrocSoc alike. Planning regulations are routinely ignored and there is no plan to improve it. Its fate is key to the fate of Brockley and as it’s part of the conservation area, it’s entirely appropriate that they should take a lead on its future, just as the BXAG has for Brockley Cross.

We’d also like to hear more from BrocSoc about their views on some of the big planning issues facing the Conservation area, such as the proposed redevelopment of the garage on Geoffrey Road and the mental health unit appeal on Ashby Road. And, who better to play an active lead on issues such as street trees and police signs than a proactive BrocSoc?

The impression we get is that BrocSoc members understand this and are committed to encouraging new members. As with many other local groups, they have too few volunteers and are keen for more to come forward. They also recognise their responsibility to drive recruitment and communicate more effectively with residents. The newsletter, while well-produced, is too irregular to be an effective tool for lobbying, when local opinion often needs to be mobilised much more quickly. They are planning to improve their website and keen to contribute to Brockley Central, which is all to the good.

If you’re interested in volunteering for BrocSoc, please email Brockley Central at the usual address and we will pass on your details.

Let it snow (in April!)

Sunday mornings are always a good time for a stroll around Brockers, but are made even better when snow falls. Though there wasn't much to see along the roads, a walk to Hilly Fields revealed a decent blanket, a good few inches deep, being enjoyed by young and old alike.

Snowy fields

The park was host to some of the best snowmen we've seen in our days, with more than enough white stuff for some snowball fights and even sledging. It's times like this when all the moans and groans of living in the city are forgotten - or, at least, they're covered in snow for one short morning.

The king of snowmen

Pop in! Shop!

As a corollary to Friday's piece asking for nominations for new businesses we'd like to see in the area, we'd like to know which existing businesses deserve more recognition.

It follows a number of people suggesting that Brockley-ites didn't deserve new shops if they didn't support the ones they have. This is of course true, so long as the ones we have are worth supporting. Some simply aren't.

The good businesses we do have, it seems to us, are very well supported and have regular praise heaped upon them from BC readers. From Babur in the south, to Meze Mangal in the north and Smiles Thai Cafe and Degustation in-between, support for local businesses seems very strong.

There are arguably a couple of good places that have failed to attract the number of casual visitors that their interiors deserve. But, like the Wickham Arms, which reneged on its plans to replace the front windows, so that people could actually see in (and out), they only have themselves to blame if their uninviting facades fail to convert the uninitiated.

So, we don't really accept that it's the residents of Brockley who are at fault. But we are happy to be told we're wrong... what are the businesses that are unjustly neglected?

Four more plane trees must die

The Council are planning to hack down four more large plane trees on Lewisham Way [158a Lewisham Way, SE4]. This time, it's on the pretext that they are damaging a boundary wall (though you wouldn't know it to look at the wall).

The original deadline for public consultation was April 2nd, but given that they only mailed out the Brockley Society letter on April 1st, they ought to accept submissions received after this deadline. The BrocSoc, by the way, are the only people who got a letter.

Here's the application if you wish to have a look and register your views.

UPDATE: Brockley Central reader and UBR resident Ros took the time to get a petition going and has submitted it to the council (see comments). Cllr Dean Walton has said on his blog that the application has been refused, and that the trees are now protected by a preservation order. Victory? Perhaps not, as Ros points out in her comment, TPOs can be revoked, and it might just be a temporary measure while they decide what to do with the trees. Shame that those who took time out to object in writing (including Brockley Central) don't get informed of the situation.

The Knights Templar in Brockley

Who says the media has dumbed down? In 1961, for no obvious reason, this is what the Kentish Mercury was writing about. Brockley Central has always attracted conspiracy theorists - now we know why:

The Kentish Mercury, May 12, 1961.

Monks at Brockley

"The ruins of the thirteenth-century Bayham Abbey, near Lambhurst, Kent, have an 800-year-old association with Lewisham and Deptford, for it was here that the Premonstratensian Order of Monks moved from Brockley in the year 1200.

Towards the end of the resign of Henry II (1154-1189) the manor of Brockley, or Brockele, as it was then called, was granted by Wakelin Maminot to his heir Michael de Turnham as an annual rental of 12d. Michael afterwards sold the land to Wakelin's wife, the Countess Juliana de Vere, that she might found a religious order and she duly gave the land to the Premonstratensian monks who had come from the Premonstre in France and settled at Ottham in Sussex in the year 1146.

Right of Might

On the death of Wakelin Maminot in 1191 Alice his sister and co inheritor of the estate, bestowed the land on the Knights Templar. In those days, when might was so often right, it was 23 years before the rights to the land at Brockley were regained by the monks, which land they then held until the dissolution of the monasteries in1526.

That part of the monastic land at Brockley which is in the borough of Lewisham passed to the Crown at the Dissolution, but in 1548 it was held by John Gaynesford, who conveyed it to Thomas keys for £200.

Noakes Estate

The manor of Brockley was then describes as consisting of one messuage (dwelling house), two barns, 284 acres of land and 12o acres of wood. It later became known as Forest place or Brockley Farm.

Many local residents will remember the Noakes estate, which, in 1932-1933, was built over, becoming Sevenoaks road, Brockley Hall road and others.

Wickham-road

The other part of the monastic lands at Upper Brockley, in the borough of Deptford, descended from the Crown in the person of Queen Elizabeth I, to a Philip Conway. At the Restoration of King Charles II the land was vested in Sir John Cutler who later, in 1692, settled it on one Edmund Boulter, and through whom it passed to William Wickham, after whom the road is named. Later still it passed to one of his heirs Thomas Drake, a distant kinsman of Sir Francis Drake.

Reminders

No monastery ever stood at Brockley, but around the year 1860 grassy mounds in a meadow belonging to a Mr. Joseph Myatt of Manor Farm, Brockley, marked the site of the remains of a small monastic building. Upon excavation of a building 344ft by 21 and a half feet (can't do the symbol for half on my computer), with walls 2ft thick, was uncovered.

When the foundations of St. Peter's Church in Wickham-road, Brockley, were being dug in 1870 an old well was discovered on th eland once owned by the monks and across which now runs the railway bewteen Lewisham and Nunhead. " [R.W.ELKIN.]

With thanks to JPM for his painstaking research!

Pop Up Shop

Brockley Central wearies of waiting for the Tea Factory's slow striptease - we are ready for our new gallery and coffee shop now thank you. We grow frustrated at our inability to find out what, if anything is happening to the "west side cafe" or the final Harefield Road unit. The makeovers of The Talbot and Meze Mangal seem far, far away.

We also know that occasionally people come on to the site, by googling terms like "shops to let in se4" or "commercial estate agents in Brockley". So people out there are sniffing around the area.

This thread is a conceived as a local wishlist, operating on a collective cosmic ordering principle. If enough of us believe that box 21 contains £250,000, then it will be so. Let's give Brockley Central's passing entrepreneurs a helping hand.

So please nominate the kinds of businesses you'd like to see opening locally, being as specific as possible and giving examples, if possible.

For example, we've long made-known our desire for a tapas bar in Brockley, but specifically, we'd like something a bit like Meson Don Felipe in Waterloo.

Jon and Nick's Brockley pub crawl

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and Nick met up to share notes and to try out some of the venues that get least coverage on Brockley Central. We only managed two venues because it was a very cold day and places to drink in Brockley are very far apart.

Most pressing was the need to review The Talbot in its pre-makeover form, but first, the Brockley Barge...

When we got to the bar, the perky barmaids were playing a game of twenty questions, in-between serving the customers and cleaning the glasses. A sozzled Irish bloke, propping up the bar, regaled no-one in particular with a story that we couldn’t quite make out. But a cockney guy further down the bar responded and the two guys struck up a conversation. So, despite its cavernous nature and the presence of tacky adverts on every wall, the Barge creates a community atmosphere during the day.

It was also pretty busy and good natured – predominantly couples and family groups, making the most of the low-cost menu. They also had some suitably obscure ale, to keep Jon happy.

If they got rid of all the advertising banners and the garish carpets it wouldn’t be half-bad, but then, it wouldn’t be a Wetherspoons.

We then braced ourselves against the cold, peered in to see whether Gulens was open (of course it wasn’t) and set off for The Talbot. Walking through the streets of Brockley, we were struck by how many things along our route had been discussed on the blog, from the lovely big yellow police signs to the homemade signs, imploring people to clean up after their dogs.

Brockley Nick’s idea of a perfect pub looks something like ‘The Winchester’, from Shaun of the Dead. On the outside, The Talbot looks like the Winchester. On the inside, it looks like Shaun of the Dead. It really has been left to rot and it even had a whiff of decay. Solo-drinkers lined the bar, drinking their pints in virtual silence and reading the paper. Relics from a different era adorn the walls – our favourite being the 80s-style “Cocktails” neon tubing above the bar.

For all that, it had its charms – the barman was friendly enough and the clientele obliged when asked what the score in the football was. If The Talbot was a student union, packed with young drinkers who relished the low-rent surroundings, it could have been a lot of fun. But it wasn’t. Team Jon and Nick sat in a dark booth (the light fitting was hanging loose), feeling embarrassed to talk above a whisper.

When redone, it will be a slice of fried gold.

We’re hoping that at some point, Brockley Jon will wade in with his own thoughts and also with the photo he took of the Talbot’s snazzy glitterball.

[Update: Indeed he has, and you can also admire the textured nicotine-yellow walls...]


The Talbot looking into the main bar, via the snazzy glitterball.

Be very afraid! Have a nice day.

We know that this subject has already been much discussed elsewhere on the blog, but it certainly deserves its own thread:

The massive yellow street signs warning Brockley residents of their imminent coshing by people after their consumer electronics. What are they supposed to achieve and who thought they were a good idea?!

We know from the comments posted on this site that street crime is an issue in Brockley, as it is pretty much everywhere in every major UK city. We know that if it happens to you, it’s horrible. We’d be surprised if residents weren’t already aware of these facts but also prefer not to dwell on them, every time they set foot outside the front door.

And honestly, the streets of Brockley are really not that mean. We sometimes go out of our way to walk routes that some people worry about, at night. But they’re invariably quiet and often beautiful.

So, accepting that crime is an issue but this is not Baghdad, what we are supposed to do as a result of the signs’ warnings?

Are they suggesting we shouldn’t use our mobile phones while out and about? That’s a concession to criminals we’re not personally prepared to make. Our (i)’pods’ that ‘they want’? We’ve never seen anyone flaunt their ipods outside their clothing – should we not buy them in the first place? Or should we not go out at all. None of that is clear. All the signs achieve is to put the willies up people in their own neighbourhood and add yet more clutter to the streetscape.

As for who’s responsible – that’s been hard to get to the bottom of too.

Our Councillors don’t know where they came from and the police community liaison people haven’t responded to our enquiries (in fact, the only time we’ve ever heard from them was when we got a cease and desist email, telling us to take the advert for the Brockley Christmas Market off the site because it featured the Safer Neighbourhoods logo and it could imply that Brockley Central was somehow endorsed by the police). But Brockley is not alone apparently, friends who we’ve spoken to report that they’ve seen them elsewhere in London.

They were introduced without warning and without any consultation with anyone we’ve ever heard from.

They are stupid and destructive and they should go.

Pincott Place People's Park


Work has begun to transform an unloved corner of the furthest frontiers of west Brockley in to a community garden oasis.
The Lottery-funded Pincott Place People's Park will be located on a site that lies between Pincott Place and Frendsbury Road. Currently a wasteland, clearance and landscaping work has begun and is due to take approximately 6 weeks in total, so that the park is ready for the public by May, although the gardens will not be properly finished until October 2009.

Project Officer, Gareth Schweitzer, explains:

"We’re hoping the garden will become a place for people to relax, learn and enjoy themselves. There will be different areas in the garden including a sun, formal and wildlife garden and a pond. There will also be some community allotments in the garden."

Before the park was built, the land attracted a lot of fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour. Lewisham's Environment and Community Development department consulted local residents about the possibility of turning the land into a community garden. Funding was secured from the Big lottery fund with contributions from Lewisham Council, Family Mosaic Housing, and South London and Maudsley (SLAM).

Clearance and landscaping work will be undertaken by Envirowork Lewisham, a social enterprise that employs and trains long term unemployed people to work on improving and enhancing the environment for the benefit of local communities. Residents will also choose the plants that will be planted in the park at an event hosted by Groundworks. In mid-May there will be a consultation event at the Honor Oak Youth club about the construction of an artwork for the garden.

At the end of the project in October 2009 the park will be maintained under the Glendale's contract, but the hope is that residents will play a major part in the running and maintenance of the garden though a management committee.

From May 2008 through to September 2009 there will be a range of events and free training sessions for adults, young people and children, funded by the Big lottery fund. These will include accredited horticultural training courses and informal workshops on a range of subjects from gardening to recycling.

Through referrals from local GP's surgeries residents and local people will also be able to use the park for gentle exercise to improve health and well-being. In all cases priority will be given to local residents (identified by postcode).

For more information or to register your interest please contact the project officer, Gareth Schweitzer on 020 7314 2071 or 07834 145 054 or by email on gareth.schweitzer@lewisham.gov.uk
With thanks to Yaxu.

Matchbox, Brockley Station

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

Matchbox's title-winning performance can also be read-about here.

New restaurant for Brockley*

*With, err, strip club attached.

Last week, the Morning Advertiser - the licensee trade website - reported that A&F Clubs Ltd were planning to capitalise on a recent relaxation of the laws governing lap dance venues and the extension of the East London Line by opening three venues in South East London, with Brockley among them.

Naturally, we wanted to get to the bottom of this story, in the interests of informing the community. So we put in a request for an interview and found them surprisingly forthcoming about their plans.

"For us, Brockley is a no-brainer," said Francis Allan, the co-owner. "The East London Line is going to bring thousands of young men who work in the City in to the area for the first time. There's not much nightlife in the area and our experience [from their existing clubs in North London] shows that there's a big market for gentelmen's clubs in Zone 2 areas, popular with young commuters.

"The guys we cater for work damn hard and they want to be able to come home, crack open a bottle of champagne and enjoy the company of our girls, a short distance from their flats. No offence to Brockley, but delis, quiet pubs and little Thai cafes just don't cut it for them. There'll be table dining, as well as table dancing.

"We're looking at sites on Lewisham Way and Brockley Road, although we're restrained by car parking options. Our customers spend a lot of money on their motors, and they like to use them whenever possible.

"During the day, we'll be catering for a different crowd, by offering very good value buffet-style lunches. Rest assured though, our clubs are upmarket affairs - we operate strict door policies and offer a top-quality experience to our customers."

In Brockley Central's view, if this is what it takes to attract the spending power of wealthy city boys, then it's a price worth paying. Certainly, it's better than yet another bookie and it will improve the area's nightlife.

But what do you think?

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