The evolution of Brockley man

EDIT: Photo now removed, but basically it was a couple of hipsters.

Recently on Twitter, Sydenham-based journalist Paul tweeted this picture from his train journey home, together with the bold prediction that the two gentlemen in the photo would disembark at Brockley. He won his bet.

Since Brockley Central is a fairly buttoned-down, sexually-inhibited sort of a blog, that spends all its days behind a desk, working for the man to prepare Brockley for a merciless invasion by Megacorp PLC, we tend to travel to and from Brockley at rush hour, when a wide array of people get on and off the train at Brockley, so we've never thought that Brockley had such an easily identifiable 'type'. At other times of day, life around the station can look very different.

It's obvious that Brockley has got younger and more attractive over the last few years as Brockley Central has gotten older and less attractive. But the array of stereotypes that get thrown around on this site, from cardigan wearing vegans, to ruthless bankers, middle-aged doggers and angry crusties suggests that Brockley remains a broad church and we hope it remains thus.

Is this what we have become? How would you describe the average Brockleyite?

Edit: for the avoidance of doubt, we think the two people in the photo look perfectly nice. If that is what you're all like, that's fine by us.

113 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brockley = Hipsters and Hippies.

Anonymous said...

Brockley doesn't have a 'type', and the lack of type is it's type. Confusing, yes. I guess Brockley is just full of people who don't fit into the 'norm'. You're right though, Brockley station during working hours is an entirely different place.

D said...

I picked out a Brockleyite all the way up at Highbury a couple of weeks ago. I was quite pleased with that.

Anonymous said...

Oh god yes, they're very Brockley

* hats

* tosserish shoes

* beards

Wouldn't be surprised if they went into the deli for some free-range quinoa when they disembarked.

mb said...

Excuse me, anon @15:32, but I'm distressingly normal.

Re, the two chaps in the photo. I've always said that the problem with this country is that people are not wearing enough hats.

pip said...

More than its fair share of arty/musical/theatrical types, that's for sure.

Is the white strip across the guy on the right covering up his red nose and painted eyes?

wtf said...

As if CCTV isn't pervasive enough, you have amateur anthropologists taking your picture. Getting it published on a blog in area that you live in so you can get scrutinised by strangers. NICE!

westsider said...

wtf - the face is blanked out and he might not even live here.

Noneedforasuperinjunction said...

I publish my holiday snaps on Facebook. Full of nameless strangers, relax. Anyway, they could be any bearded hipster supping single estate coffee in Browns.

Matt-Z said...

The average Young Brockley Male seems to sport fashions made popular in Hoxton, Hackney and Shoreditch a few years ago. So, rewind 5 or so years ago and it was all Nathan Barley, Hoxton fins and BMXs. Later it was Pete Doherty chic, which the lads in the picture are pulling off fairly well (almost too well, they don't look scruiffy enough). Now we've caught up with boat shoes, ultra-thin jeans, leather satchels and fixie bikes.

WLTM said...

Are they metrosexuals?

Anonymous said...

One of the worst threads ever, but likely to very popular, Brockley Central goes tabloid.

don't forget to close the door said...

Thanks for your insight, anonymous.

Brockley Nick said...

In what way tabloid? In what way bad? Do you not think that discussing our collective perceptions of the people who live here is worthwhile? I do.

you'regunnagetsued said...

Mmmm, I recognise one of them from the photo - the white strip doesn't really cover protect their identity.

I'm not a lawyer but... said...

for what? taking a photo of someone on a train? If someone publishes something libelous they may be sued.....so don't. Look at newspapers and the TV, thousands of pictures of joe public published everyday.

It's an amusing article, thats all.

He has braces if you look closely. You're laughing now but you'll all be wearing them in a couple of months.

Anonymous said...

ha ha that is really funny - good post. they herald rising house prices!

Anonymous said...

These fey young men cannot make an impact on my world. My hedge has a sharp edge, my eyes are trained on the oil price. Do they have their narrow shoulders to the economic wheel?

you'renotgunnagetsued said...

oh right.

Headhunter said...

There have always been people like that in Brockley, they're just student-y types who probably go to Goldsmiths, with the extended ELL they just don't have to get off at New Cross anymore.... Yes, Brockley has matured and changed from "Sahf east lahnan" to "an area between Greenwich and Dulwich" but this has been a gradual change taking place over the last 10 years...

Matt-Z said...

Moustaches have made something of a comeback, as an ironic statement of god-knows-what, as have very tight synthetic shorts(cf Chris Waddle, 1986).

Anonymous said...

single estate coffee and free range quinoa are better than special brew and battery fried chicken whether they come with beards or not... more please.

Anonymous said...

I bet they've never tasted good honest food.

Ed CPZ said...

There is something a little Nathan Barley (self-facilitating-media-node)about brockley but I rather like that.

Matt-Z said...

I often get the feeling that the idiots are winning.

yuck said...

How would you feel if this was you pictured & individuals like Ed CPZ leering at you from a computer screen and there's a probablilty that you might bump into the creep.

Anonymous said...

yes, lets pick on people we don't know who are photographed anonymously on public transport - all it needs is a smug little quote at the top . . .

THNick said...

From my experience, I'd have been shocked that they didn't get off at NXG. Much hipper than Brockley.

Anonymous said...

To late blanking out faces now...it's all over twitter who they are.

Mb said...

If the British have a defining feature it's the ability to laugh at themselves. It's a gentle ribbing at some bearded hat wearers, more please. Ribbing, not beards/hats.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

at least it's not sexybrockleyite.co.uk ..

Mb said...

I bet James holland is cheesed off that the launch of the se14 group is on the same day as the popular "hipster watch" thread.

Coincidence or conspiracy? You decide.....

Charlie said...

This is a great thread and really bodes well for rental yields. Can we have another with a pair of women pictured!

Lou Baker said...

The average Brockleyite does not illegally park a vehicle in a dangerous place. They do not dump matresses on the pavement or leave uncleared up dog poo in the park. They are decent and considerate - even the misguided lefty ones. Anyone who does any of the above is anti-social and does not belong here. They should leave and move to Penge - using the recently extended East London Line which the average Brockleyite despises.

Anonymous said...

You still wearing that hair shirt Lou?

Westsider said...

Well done to the anons who haven't actally read the article, which isn't about any individuals, but about whether Brockley has an identifiable "type"

Lady said...

ARRRG Brockley / Central what is going on? i used to like reading the comments now it's all gone a bit Daily Mail. makes me angry and wish i hadn't bothered

bumbags said...

I'm with wtf- I'm be mortified if my pic was published in this way. Taking pics of strangers on public transport is just weird. And very, very rude! Of course you can tell who it is, even with the 'modesty panel'...

Brockley Nick said...

As the article says, I didn't take the picture, someone else did and it was already tweeted, I was just using it to illustrate a wider point and start a discussion and I blanked out the face to boot.

However, I'm happy to remove it. It's gone.

Headhunter said...

Has anyone seen that website or blog, can't remember which, which is simply photos of random blokes on the Tube that women have taken and then posted up for comment by other women (and gay men)? I can't remember what the site was. There were literally hundreds if not thousands of photos of unknown men, without any attempt to disguise their identities, followed by various comments like "break me of a piece of that...", "phwoarr" etc etc... If a website like that can exist then this is small fry...

Oh and I've just remembered that there was another site which published photos of cyclists commuting to work taken by some random guy with a big camera and a zoom lens. I looked for myself on it once or twice but I was never there (sad face)....

This is nothing, this time next week this photo will be on the 2nd page of Brockley Central and no one will give a crap... Calm down dears, it's only blogger...

dude said...

"Of course you can tell who it is, even with the 'modesty panel'..."

Go on then, who is it?

Another Anon said...

to be fair it's mainly Lou with the gormless paranoia about the tides of feckless stealing his money. Not sure he's at ease with the Guardianista axis so prevalent in the area.

Headhunter said...

Oh boo, Nick, you caved. Can we have a regular column please? Say a random photo of someone getting off the train at Brockley or cycling through Brockley X and if it's you, you get a free pint at The Talbot or something?

grow up said...

This is site that serves a local community. It's not Grindr lite HH.

Headhunter said...

Yes but "the community" might like a bit of grindr? It can't always be about knitting circles, social groups and the conservation area...

Anonymous said...

How about 'Doggr'?

And battery fried chicken is actually really tasty. It's popular for a reason.

Ed CPZ said...

I'm a leering Guardianista who often agrees with Lou; see us Brockley folk are a strange and complex bunch. The article was harmless piece on 'types' right?

@Nick; I think you've probably made those concerned minor celebrities.

Xavier (or Jonathan to my mum) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lou Baker said...

@anon

I don't think there are tides of feckless people trying to steal my money. I think there are some feckless people - who need to be tackled. But my main issue is (and always has been) with the system.

It's a system which keeps people poor, which fails to provide a hand up, which eats consistently increasing amounts of money while producing consistently worse outcomes and which really - frankly - is largely not fit for purpose in 2011.

On this very blog I've argued repeatedly for increased public spending on sensible things - education, transport infrastructure, international development, renewable energy. It's the wasteful spending on keeping the unemployed unemployable, on keeping prisoners in prison and the sick infirm - that's the stuff I argue we need to address.

The trouble is that leftists in particular just don't understand that it's not just about how much you spend. It's how, where and when you spend it that's crucial. That's where I argue we need a complete rethink.

Tim said...

Sounds reasonable to me!

Anonymous said...

Shame the pic's gone.

A-non said...

Is that what "leftists" think? Blimey, looks like I'll have to relook at my principles. Of course, you could be talking out of your arse 'cos I thought a welfare state looked to support those who need support and state intervention to reduce inequalities whereas free Market libertarians think that the Market is the answer to any problem, you know like the financial sector regulating itself. Not sure how that's going? Any update from your frankly inept understanding of politics?

I'm actually fairly central in my views but wring on the left. You seem to think that anyone in the public sector or who is in favour of any state provision is a hardline Marxist. Makes you look like a 3rd rate Express leader writer. The labour party is really not that left wing in the old sense of the word, Gordon and big Tony were more than happy for the private sector to get involved in the traditional state sectors and to let the banks do what they like so that little assertion is daft.

The low level abuse you aim at anyone who is on benefits, you do you know, betrays your prejudice.

Ed CPZ said...

Again I broadly agree with Lou and don't think A-non accurately reflects what Lou posted. What's this thread about again?

Anonymous said...

A-non, I think you should go and re-read what Lou said. His 'inept understanding of politics' is obviously less inept than your grasp of reading/comprehension! You've totally missed the points he's making, and are attacking things that aren't there.

a-non said...

A Lou classic. the man just bleeds compassion.

"So here's a thought, layabouts. Show your solidarity with the majority - who play their part by doing a job and paying their taxes and not by expecting their miserable failing lives to be fully subsidised by others"

Lous assumption is consitantly that most of those at the bottom of the pile are there because they deserve it or are too lazy to do anything about it.

Lou Baker said...

@a-non

I have repeatedly expressed my contempt for the flawed welfare system and not for the decent people who fall victim to it. A system I advocate reforming so it works and a system you believe works just fine as it is. The 2 million+ unemployed people, millions on incapacity benefits and millions stuck permanently in poverty may not agree with you.

However there are some - a minority (but a significant one) - who deliberately abuse the system and generosity of others. These people are layabouts. Whatever you think.

A-non said...

Yes I think that layabouts or those who abuse the benefit system should be penalised. There always have been abysses, there always will. Is not the central point though, do you think the state has a OBLIGATION to ease inequalities? The Big Society could be seen as an attempt to erode that obligatoonand leave it to charity, if charity could do a better job I would tend to agree but I doubt it. Do you think that those at societies margins, the millions you talk about, are there primarily through choice or circumstance? I doubt that some bugger on sixty odd quid a week is there because he's enjoys it. His "circumstance" could be a simple as not enough training provision, lack of motivation that could be improved with some intensive coaching perhaps? That takes man power which costs. Lacking motivation or self respect could be relabelled fecklessness or laziness, perhaps it's a little more complex and could be changed with some intervention. Simply reducing his benefits will make the treasury happy but may leave him where he is.

Complex yes, but reducing unemployment and benefit claimants is not necessarily cheap - counterintuitive perhaps. The current administration seems tp be cutting the bill but doing little to solve the problem. Makes us tax payers happy but are we getting anywhere as a country?

Please stop with the silly "lefty" thing it's meaningless, in fact it has been for twenty years. Labours deficit reduction was only a little slower than the torries, labour introduced fees and had no plans to reintroduce grants. It makes your occasional good points sound deranged.

Little Brockley said...

Good post @ anon 22.33 but you may not have noticed that neither Lou or his new 'guardanista' cohort, does 'complex'.

Transpontine said...

I must say when I first moved to SE14 some 15 years ago I had never heard of Brockley, and indeed for several years after it barely registered in my consciousness, even though I was a regular at the Rivoli (Club Montepulciano).

Then came Moonbow Jakes and the the SE London horizon began to tilt slightly in a Brockley direction. But honestly I think Brockley Central invented Brockley as a distinct area which people talk about as an entity in its own right. The fact that the figure of a Nathan Brockley hipster is now a recognisable stereotype suggest that Nick and co. have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams - but as Mary Shelley will tell you, beware of the creatures that you have unleashed!

Anonymous said...

nonsense
Brockley Central did not invent Brockley and SE14 was and still is New Cross

Anonymous said...

Ed CPZ is nothing but a NIMBY

Anonymous said...

It does some on the internet people are more prepared not to consider others privacy?

I blame MySpace, Bebo, Facebook and annoymous contributions to Twitter and forums. :)

Headhunter said...

I remember Brockley as an entity in its own right when I first moved to London (Catford) in 1999/2000! It was definitely its own area in 2006 when I 1st started looking for a house here and Brockley Central only started in, what, 2007?

I'll give Nick credit for raising Brock's profile but I don't think I can stretch to him inventing it! Admittedly, a lot more people have heard of Brockley these days. When I 1st moved in, in 2006, whenever I said I lived in Brockley I either got some "hilarious" reference to broccoli or people thought I meant Bromley...

Brockley Nick said...

"My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark."

Anonymous said...

I've gotten used to quickly following it up with "...in Lewisham, New Cross sort of area" which tends to get a faux "oh, that's lovely" type face in response.

Headhunter said...

Just say you live near Greenwich and Dulwich, that gets a differnt kind of look. I vary it depending on whether I want to sound edgy or middle class...

Ed CPZ said...

@(another)Anon 00:54 - I most certainly am things other than a NIMBY; I take you would allow anything in your back yard? ;)

Matt-Z said...

Those who call the place 'Brockers' should be tarred and feathered (or just sneered at).

Man from Brockers said...

Why?

Ed CPZ said...

Sounds rather faux public school?

Anonymous said...

I refer to it as 'The Brocx' as with its many sirens whizzing around it can sometimes feel like we are in an edgy area of New York!

Lewisham is usually 'da sham' or 'Lewishambles'.

Anyone else got any others?

Brockley Nick said...

Blue Borough

Bea said...

Brockley is a very nice place, but it's a place that many people pass through for a few years for many reasons.

Sadly many well educated, that would stay and raise their families move on when they realise that the schools are not going to satify their basic demands to give their children the same education they had unless they can pay for a private education at St.D's or in Dulwich or else ship them out of borough.

Now that Brockley is on the tube map everyone can find it. I look forward to the day when people consider they have a worthwhile reason to pay it a visit at least once a year.

pip said...

I've had the same experience, HH - I always point out that Brockley is in Zone 2, which makes it sound nice and central.

I tend to describe it as "about a mile south west of Greenwich and Blackheath" because a lot more people know where Greenwich is than know where Lewisham or New Cross are. Nothing to do with trying to make it sound gentrified, of course...

Anonymous said...

I like to describe it as being roughly between Peckham, Catford and the Old Kent Road

Lep Recorn said...

Pip - a mile is a little optimistic. I make it about 3 miles by my Garmin when I run from Hilly Fields to Greenwich Park.

Admittedly 'as the runner runs' is not the same as 'as the crow flies'; but it has to be more than a mile (aka 1.6K).

BTW I moved into Brockley in about 1980 so it definitely existed then & I am sure there are some historical references to it that are even older.

Lou Baker said...

It is difficult explaining where Brockley is.

I go for the 'near Greenwich' line.

Also I'd like to start a campaign to get New Cross Gate renamed.

It used to be Hatcham - it should be again.

New Cross Gate sounds crap. Hatcham sounds classy.

Anonymous said...

How about 'Shank'em?'

Brockley Nick said...

Lou, write me a diatribe about Hatcham and I'll create a thread for you to launch your campaign.

Ed CPZ said...

Brockley is between Greenwich and Dulwich or between Peckham and Lewisham depending on whom I am trying to impress...

Man from Brockers said...

Name dropping Greenwich and Dulwich is rather faux public school.

Lou Baker said...

@nick

Thankfully I don't do diatribes.

Let's call it keith said...

"New Cross is believed to have taken its name from a coaching house originally known as the Golden Cross which stood close to the current New Cross House public house. The diarist John Evelyn, who lived in Deptford, wrote in 1675 that he met a friend at 'New Crosse' in his coach before travelling down through Kent and on to France.
Part of the area was formerly known as Hatcham (the name persists in the title of the Anglican parishes of St. James, Hatcham along with its school, and All Saints, Hatcham Park). The earliest reference to Hatcham is in the 11th century, in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hacheham. It was held by the Bishop of Lisieux from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its domesday assets were: 3 hides; 3 ploughs, 6 acres (24,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 3 hogs. It rendered £2.[1]"

So "used too" is all a bit relative. Im happy with at least 400 years of history. We could call in "ugh" which I believe was the name around 40,000 BC.

How about "new kings road" that's where all the cool cats live.

Anonymous said...

I think the area is on the way up again, after being a bit of a bad joke for having three Mungbean councillors. This feat was probably only achieved elsewhere in the more drug addled parts of Brighton, gave us a reputation for wooley mindedness and organic trustafarian bourgeois posturing that we are only recovering from. L

drakefell debaser said...

Anon, according to the BDS you shout at wheelie bins. Is this true?

Ed CPZ said...

@Man. Unless of course you attended private school; in Dulwich.

Headhunter said...

New Cross Gate (like Notting Hill Gate) is named after the road toll gate that people travelling in and out of London had to pass through and pay, for the upkeep of the roads...

Tamsin said...

Ray Thatcher has written a history of Hatcham, New Cross, Telegraph Hill - due to be published in the autumn it is hoped. It queries the derivation of the name from the inn - no other trace of an inn of that name - but the Gate bit is definately the toll gate. Pictures of it abound. Located where the recently removed traffic island was at the junction of Queens Road and New Cross Road.

Tressilliana said...

Brockley has existed for many centuries, actually. There's an interesting snippet here (scroll down a bit):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/making_history/making_history_20051018.shtml

Anonymous said...

Brockley Nick said...
Blue Borough

thats what local gangs call lewisham

Hugh said...

If Brockley has a type, it's someone under 40 with next to no no historical perspective. This thread is quite laughable. Don't you think similar conversations are had across London by hundreds of thousands of others about their own neighbourhoods? Gosh, the place has really changed since we arrived! No, you have changed, from apologetic new arrival to smug denizen with delusions of local standing. London is far older than you and grows and changes at a pace that barely recognises your amusing little vanities.

Brockley Nick said...

@Hugh - yes, London is in a constant state of flux, neighbourhoods change quickly. That's one of the things that makes it an interesting place to live compared with, say, a sleepy market town. So we're discussing those changes. What's your point again? And please show me where I have tried to claim any 'credit' for it.

It Could be Hugh said...

Brockley is full of people who want to move to Ealing but can't afford it.

[Hugh, you're taking this thread far too seriously, it's a bit of fluff to while away some time. Get over yourself, It's not claiming to be authoritative social anthropology. You and some others, the very ones you criticise, seem to be getting in a froth about it *cue snipe about being considerably richer than me, fitter than me, smarter than me, yada yada....*]

Paddyom said...

Ealing, really?? It makes me yawn just saying it.... If i had to choose somewhere to live other than SE4 then I would choose Richmond. But not many other areas make me yearn for pastures new.... certainly not Ealing.

pip said...

@Lep Recorn - you're definitely going the long way round! It took us 25 minutes to walk from "mid-town" Brockley to the Picture House in Greenwich (I timed it recently) - so that's probably a mile and a half. If you lived at the eastern end of Wickham Road it would be less than half a mile to the top of Greenwich High Road.

pip said...

There's too much traffic and noise in most places north of the river. Brockley is relatively peaceful - yet a lot more central than, say, Richmond (which I agree is very nice - if I could bag a nice riverside house there I wouldn't complain. Then again I doubt I would get to know as many of my neighbours as I do here in Brockley).

Tamsin said...

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be...

I rather like Hugh's image of London as a separate organic entity on a totally different scale to us little fleas hopping about on its back yakkering in squeaky microcopic voices.

D said...

I made the move from Ealing to Brockley (yes, because I could only afford a shoebox there) and can honestly say I'm glad I did. There's really nothing I can't get here that I could there and at a fraction of the cost. Plus it takes half as long to get into town every day.

Tyrwhitt M. said...

I knew a young woman from Ealing
Who had a peculiar feeing

Complete at your leisure.

Sorry but I couldn't resist

Brockley Dogging Laureate said...

I knew a young woman from Ealing
Who had a peculiar feeing
"Complete at your leisure",
she said, I said "Pleasure!"
We doggers gave her a good reaming.

drakefell debaser said...

Which left her poor fella seething.

And said...

what on earth is in Ealing?
Please tell.

I think an attraction of Brockley living and what makes living in London more interesting is that there is so much movement of people, and so many people. So you can be anonymous or dip into little communities here and there if you want.

The picture was removed before I saw it but am sure I've never spoken to the 'Brockley Man' who was in it from the descriptions.

TM said...

You need to ask Hugh.

It was for sometime his proposed domicile of choice.

Monkeyboy said...

If you're too good for Acton but can't afford Chiswick, you buy in Ealing.

Which is weird, 'cos Chiswick is dullsville.

Hope that's clear.

TM said...

Sorry MB but that doesn't scan....

Anonymous said...

By that reckoning, you could say "If you're too good for Deptford but can't afford Blackheath, you buy in Brockley"

Lou Baker said...

Chiswick is ace.

I'd live there if I didn't enjoy being surrounded by pinkos.

Mb said...

Whatevs

Tressilliana said...

If I had many millions I'd love to live on Strand on the Green. Otherwise I don't know that Chiswick is any better than Brockley. It's a long, long way out from the centre, which is as good an illustration as any that being on the tube is not all the North Londoners make it out to be.

and said...

Thanks for the Ealing update - have only heard of it in relation to having a film studio, other than that did you have a particular affiliation to the place?

Anonymous said...

Ealing is crap.

Might as well have recommended Greenford which is equally characterless.

Anonymous said...

I don't much care for Northolt.

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