None shall Malpas

BCer Monkeyboy has spotted this, and he's not happy about it. Malpas Road will be closed to traffic from April 2nd for approximately a week.

Mantle Convection

The wrapping has come off the parade of shops on the intersection of Mantle, St Asaph and St Norbert Roads. The parade has had another story added to it, a project which has taken long months of work. Now, thanks to Julian, who sent in this photo, we can see the results for ourselves.

Oh.

Caribbean folk song at Crofton Park Library

Jacqueline Grant writes:

I want to get people sing Caribbean folk song, so I will be running Free Caribbean Singing workshops at Crofton Park Community Library, 375 Brockley Road, Brockley, London SE4 2AG.

The first session will be Wednesday 4th April 6.00pm – 7.30pm. Please come along and join us.

Gone the Revolution

The cafe worker spearheading planned strike action at Come the Revolution reports that the cafe has now been  closed down.

Better zebra for Brockley Cross

The Brockley Cross Master Plan is gradually being implemented - a bit of new pavement here, a new crossing there. One of the earliest jobs completed was one of the most important. The Council has done something about Brockley's scariest zebra crossing, on the approach to Brockley Cross on Brockley Road.

A central island has been installed, calming traffic and offering pedestrians a little more protection. It sums up the Brockley Cross project, which is incrementally improving rather than transformational. But good stuff anyway.

Flat Planet

Brockley's Lewis Barfoot is exporting SE4 culture to anyone who'll listen. She's launched a new "mixed-arts" night up west, which is serving as a trojan horse for some of Brockley's best. At the opening night, Brockley band Chaplin played, followed by stories from Brockley based Alice Fernbank. Local artist Mike Hall designed the flyers and has an exhibition at the venue. The next nights are coming up on April 5th and May 3rd. Here are the details. 
And while we're on the subject of Brockley arts, Moira has reminded us that there are only eleven days left to get involved with this year's Brockley Max - details of how to take part here http://brockleymax.co.uk/

Another major Mantle Road development planned

Developers have submitted plans to convert the skip yard next to Brockley Station in to a large mixed use development, which would mirror Jude Court. The proposal is for:

The change of use of 6 Mantle Road SE4 from B1 (office) to a mixed use development comprising a 3-5 storey block with 389.5m² commercial space Use Class A1, A2, and B1 and 9, one bedroom, 23 two bedroom and 2 three bedroom self-contained flats, together with a roof garden, refuse and cycle storage.

The design statement adds:

A bridge will be built over the ‘Thames Water corridor’ allowing the residential units to span the entire site and leaving access for any future maintenance to the sewer. Balconies and sunspaces will be located off accessible rooms, providing private amenity spaces for the residents and creating visual interest to the east and west facades. The commercial space is flexible and could be split down into separate units according to the demands of the prevailing market trends.

This would extend Mantle Road's retail offer, complementing the space recently occupied by Nisa and the London Print Shop. It is the latest in a string of new developments (proposed or under construction) clustered around Brockley Station, to take advantage of the enhanced transport links created by the East London Line.

The proposal could have significant upsides for Brockley.Jude Court took an age to materialise, but has improved Mantle Road, bringing light and life to what was previously a dark and scary approach to Brockley Station. A mixed use development like this is a smarter use of space next to a train station and a primary school than a skip yard is.

People Before Profit squat Crofton Park

Lewisham's political landscape would be a blasted, level place without People Before Profit.

The Union-busting-tea-and-crumpet-estate-agent-entrepreneurs will not be distracted by the closure tomorrow of their cafe due to an industrial dispute and are soldiering on with their campaign to prevent Lewisham Council from selling properties at auction. This time, they've occupied homes in Crofton Park.

The News Shopper reports:

Defiant campaigners have “saved” two more properties from auction so they can be used to house Lewisham families. In a bid to stop the flats in Hazeldon Road, Croftfon Park, being sold off at auction tomorrow, activists from Lewisham People Before Profit (LPBF) entered the addresses yesterday evening and have been squatting in them since.

The last time they did this, we suggested they had a point about the Council allowing properties to be sold too cheaply. The analysis that followed in the comments section, from people who know what they are talking about, persuaded BC that they didn't have a point after all.

Gardening class at St Saviour's

Project Dirt reports:

Free organic and Permaculture Gardening session at St Saviour's garden, Brockley Rise. Tea and coffee and tools provided.

Time: March 31, 2012 from 10am to 11:30am
Location: St Saviour's Church Grounds, Brockley Rise and Herschell Road, SE23

The future of Toads Mouth Too

The new owners of Toads Mouth Too, the Brockley Road / Coulgate Street cafe, have been in touch to explain their plans for the venue. Based on what they say below, it sounds perfect - giving the area another drinking and dining option, to complement The Orchard and The Barge. Top of BC readers' wish list for Brockley have been a restaurant and a bar: These guys are planning both. They say:

We are a young group of people with different backgrounds, some of whom have lived in the area for many years. We are all foodies and over the years have spent many an hour debating what we would do if we were ever to take the plunge and open a restaurant of our own. We came very close a few years ago but it was not to be so when the TMT came up for sale we all felt it was the perfect place and it was now or never!

It’s been a long process to get where we are but now we have the keys in hand it is full steam ahead. As you may have noticed, we have already started the refurb, which we hope will be finished in seven weeks. The biggest work involves moving the kitchen downstairs and creating a bar area upstairs. It’s a special place (and very dear to many Brockley-ites) and we want to retain its charm and quirky layout so the small intimate rooms will be staying! We are having a general makeover to give the place a new lease of life and hope to restore at least one fireplace in one of the downstairs rooms. We have been having lots of fun in the process, knocking down plasterboards and ceilings – dirty work but very satisfying! We really hope to create a friendly, inviting and relaxed space.

We plan to offer a full lunch and dinner menu. Our food will be simple, tasty and seasonal. We have a Frenchman amongst us so there will definitely be some French dishes and broadly speaking it will be European-inspired. We will also be offering bar snacks, sharing plates and an awesome Sunday roast! The bar upstairs will allow us to have beer on tap (although limited by space. Sorry!), a full wine list and a few cocktails for good measure!

We hope to be a local venue where people from Brockley and further afield can enjoy a great meal, a relaxing drink after work or a lazy weekend brunch in our lovely garden. We are incredibly excited and can’t wait to open our doors! We will be in touch soon with more updates and to give you a more concrete opening date.

Finally, we just wanted to say that the support we have received so far from the local community has been incredible and a real energy boost. It is very much appreciated!

Thank you,

The New Team.

PS. Now for the elephant in the room…we can confirm that we will have a new name. Sorry in advance to those that this will disappoint! And for the eagled-eyed out there, it’s not ‘Le Toad’ either! Watch this space…

---

We're due to talk to the team in more depth in the next couple of days, so if you have any specific questions you want us to put to them, please post them here.

"I am just going to Catford. I may be some time."

If you enjoy books with happy endings than you are better off reading some other book. 
– Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Friend of BC Fabhat has shared a bit of family history that connects this area with Scott's mission to the Antarctic, the centenary of which is being celebrated at St Paul's Cathedral tomorrow.

Fabhat's Great Grandfather was Captain William Colbeck who was among the rescue crew of the ship 'The Morning' that freed Scott's ship, the Discovery, from the ice during his first polar mission. Unable to take the hint, Scott kept going until he died and Captain Colbeck moved from Hull to 51 Inchmerry Road in Catford. There are no winners in this story.

#StopArthur2012 - and return him to his rightful owners

It's been a while since we've done a missing cat-poster story. So here's one whose owners miss him very much. Arthur has gone missing. Please help find him.

Brockley resident shortlisted for Inspirational Tenant Award

Sachen Whyte, a twelve year old resident of Lewisham Homes, has been shortlisted for the Inspirational Tenant of the Year at this year’s Housing Heroes Awards.

Sachen had the idea and energy to help convert a little bit of waste land next to MacMillan House in to a garden, which flourishes today. Watch the story here.

The Housing Heroes Awards are hosted by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing Magazine. Winners will be announced on 11 May 2012. The Southern TPAS awards will be announced on 4 May 2012.

Free WiFi at London Overground stations

London Overground and WiFi network provider The Cloud have teamed up to offer free WiFi access at every Overground station (though not on the trains).

Brockley, New Cross Gate, New Cross and Honor Oak will be among the stations covered by the deal, with the first stations being upgraded this summer. All 56 LO stations will be covered by the end of the year.

More on the story at T3 and The Guardian.

The Revolution Will Not Be Amortized

"Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out."
- Animal Farm

Come the Revolution - the New Cross 'revolutionary community cafe' based inside an estate agent - has triggered an industrial dispute.

At launch, the proprietors promised that they were different from the plutocrats who ran other local cafes telling us:

"Lewisham People Before Profit, is about empowering people from all sectors of our community, it deserves support, will really make a difference, and show that you can run a viable business run for people, not shareholders."

Now, it seems that its low, low prices come at a terrible cost - revolution is fomenting at Come the Revolution. On Facebook, Matt Collins writes:

"We are a group of workers who have unionised a local cafe. Following a campaign to win minimum hours contracts which would provide secure employment for all workers at the cafe, our union rep and a number of other union members have been victimised and summarily sacked.

"At a time when there is an average of 35 people chasing each job vacancy in Lewisham, and trade unionists are the only people taking effective action to stop the cuts, we feel it is vital to take a stand and fight for our jobs. We can’t win this fight alone and so we’re calling upon the unemployed, trade unionists and the community of Lewisham to get behind our campaign. To hear our case and find out what you can do to support our struggle to win back our jobs, and improve our terms and conditions of employment, please come to our public meeting at the Amersham Arms, March 30th, 7.30pm."

And so, the Marxist dialectic unfolds.

With thanks to Monkeyboy on the Deptford Forum.

Brockley Road trees

Anderson: On this first day of a new century we humbly beg forgiveness and dedicate these last forests of our once beautiful nation to the hope that they will one day return and grace our foul earth. Until that day may God bless these gardens and the brave men who care for them.
- Silent Running

Brockley Road now has the new trees that Brockley Cross Action Group asked Lewisham Council for. Here they are, being installed, opposite the Barge. Gradually, grot is being usurped by green.

Write Now back at the Jack

Darren says:

Write Now 3, The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre's annual new writing festival launches on April 7th, when playwrights from the Jack Writers' Workshop will see their new plays performed for the first time.


This is followed by the premiere of 3 plays chosen from over 80 submissions by writers with a connection to the south east London area. It promises to be a busy festival with workshops, discussions and the chance to be a part of discovering exciting new playwrights!

Full details at www.brockleyjack.co.uk

To get a taste of what's on offer, you can support 20 local writers this weekend, when their short plays are presented over two nights following a writing workshop launched in January. Performances Saturday and Sunday.

Write Now 3 is made possible thanks to the London Borough of Lewisham and is part of Lewisham's Cultural Olympiad offer.

Movie trailer

Deptford's wonderful Big Red has added a new heavy vehicle to its entertainment portfolio. A lorry trailer parked at the back of the restaurant stages mini-gigs every fortnight and they are trying to secure a licence, so that they can start film screenings there.

The trailer will be able to seat 40 people when completed. With this, Silent Cinema and Deli X's new screenings, Deptford will be dotted with tiny cinemas this summer.

Brockley Central and South East Central on Pinterest

We've started playing around on Pinterest, a relatively new site which allows you to create a digital scrapbook of stuff you like. We've created pin boards for the following categories:

  • Brockley Central - good local things in Brockley itself
  • South East Central - good local things everywhere else covered by the blog and the forum
  • About Brockley Central - stuff that has been written about Brockley Central on other sites or stuff we've contributed to other sites about Brockley
  • Live the Brockley Central Dream - a board of things we like which have nothing to do with Brockley
  • FULL DISCLOSURE! - a board which provides an up-to-date list of clients that we are currently working on in our day job, so that at any moment you can check what kind of sinister plots we are hatching to dupe the people of SE4  
We're only just getting started and one of the limitations of Pinterest is that it does require the sites you link to to have decent size photos in the right format. So if there is a local business absent from the board, the chances are that it's its own fault for not creating a website or building one without any decent photos.

Please follow and we will add to it in the coming weeks. 

PJs and Drunken

Two events worth noting - the final party at Tea Dance before they move and the return of wine tasting at El's Kitchen.

Sally at Tea Dance says:

Come to TDLP for our month-long pyjama party! Bring your jim-jams, slippers and favourite teddy for some exciting adventures in our oversized bedroom full of duvets, pillows and feathers. Mon–Fri 10am–4pm Sun 11am-2pm Come when you like. Stay as long as you like. We're also holding "The Great Big Pyjama Party" from March 31- April 3, 4.30–6pm.

There will be dancing, film, lullabies and drinks and food from our cafe. Book now at TDLP! info@tdlp.co.uk

Meanwhile El of El's Kitchen writes:

It’s been a long time since the last one, but we have a date in the diary for our spring wine tasting event with our merchant and Master of Wine, Clive Barlow: Monday 26th March from 7.30pm .

We’ll be trying out six wines—some from our regular collection top shelf, which you may not have tried, and some interesting little numbers from pastures new. And the lovely people from Gruyere are making us... a deliciously gooey fondue, so there will be something to nibble on and soak up the alcohol! To ensure you get a ticket for the tasting please email, call us or pop into the shop ASAP to reserve your place.

Once you have reserved your place you can pay for your ticket in the shop up or over the phone until closing today. Tickets are £10 per person and you get 10% off your order of 6 mixed bottles or more on the night. Places reserved but not paid for will be released to the waiting list on Sunday 25th March. Whatever your wine tasting experience, it’ll be an enjoyable and relaxing evening, and who knows, you may even make new friends while you’re here!

More Jubilee Line for everyone!

Monkeyboy alerts us that from Monday, there will be more frequent and ever-so-slightly faster Jubilee Line trains running throughout the day, the result of the recently-completed upgrade of the line. TfL says the extra trains will:

Provide capacity for 6,500 extra passengers per hour during AM and PM peaks. WTT12 [Working Timetable 12] will see an increase in our off-peak frequencies of up to 21tph during the weekday interpeak, 24tph on weekday evenings and Saturdays and 20tph on Sundays.

Customers will also feel the benefit of our new timetable during the morning and evening peaks when our enhanced peak service will see Jubilee line trains running every two minutes in central London.

Breakspears Mews Open Day

There are currently two applications lodged with the Council to develop parts of Ashby Mews, so the Brockley Society's meeting to discuss the future of our mews is nice and timely.

BrocSoc wants to create a community garden in Breakspears Mews and is holding an open meeting tomorrow to discuss this idea. They say: "We aim to turn what has been a fly-tipping nightmare into something beautiful for the community."

In BC's view, the mews are an amazing, underused, often abused, resource. Any ideas to develop them sensitively should be considered, including some limited residential and commercial use. But the community garden idea is very exciting and ought to achieve the aim of bringing more life to the mews, without upsetting local residents or changing the character of the mews too much.

We look forward to learning more about BrocSoc's plans.

Church spire horror benefit concert tonight

St Augustine's urgently needs your help to prevent scenes like this happening again.

Philippa writes:

You may know that St. Augustine's church, One Tree Hill, is falling down and has been promised Heritage Lottery funding but only if a certain sum is raised by the end of March. Various fund raising events have taken place and another is happening tomorrow night.

A concert of music specially selected for an evening in early spring will be performed by professional musicians, Benjamin Nabarro (violin) and Fiona Dalzell (piano).

The music is Beethoven's Spring Sonata, a Prokofiev sonata and after the interval, Faure's A Major Sonata and Ravel's Tzigane. It takes place tonight, 23rd March at 7.30pm.

 Tickets at the door are £10 for adults and £5 concessions. All monies raised are to be used for the repair fund.

Refreshment Room on Hilly Fields

With work underway on the new Hilly Fields cafe, here's a snapshot of its forefather, the Hilly Fields refreshment room, photographed in the 1900s. The photo is currently on sale on eBay, thanks to Rachel for the spot.

Honeypot raided

This is Local London reports that the Honeypot restaurant on Upper Brockley Road has been raided and a man arrested:

A quantity of cannabis was seized and a 55-year-old man arrested for immigration offences.

Neighbouring shop Super Cut recently lost its licence to sell alcohol as the Council attempted to cut down on anti-social beaviour at this location. In this instance, the police were keen to show that they are now pursuing a zero-tolerance policy in the area, after a decade of complaints from local residents about crime related to groups loitering outside the two establishments. This is Local London continues:

Police Sergeant Jon Biddle said: "I am aware of the ongoing and long term issues in Upper Brockley Road concerning anti social behaviour and drug supply.

"Working in partnership with Lewisham Council my team and I are going to be addressing the problems that blight our residents and cause a disproportionate amount of crime and disorder on the ward.

"We will be claiming the streets of Brockley back for the law-abiding majority."

The Telegraph Hill Skate Park

A lot has been said about the skate park since it opened in Telegraph Hill, a week or so ago. The debate around this facility has been so toxic that we wanted to see for ourselves how it was shaping up and show you it in action.

Here are our observations and a couple of little videos from Saturday.


Taking each of the expressed concerns in turn:

"Only a handful of 'middle class' kids using it": There was a satisfyingly diverse group of kids using the skate park. Kids from about 7-16 were on there, using skateboards, scooters and roller skates. We first arrived when the rain had only just abated. By the time we left, there were perhaps 15 people using it, on a miserable grey day when a hardy clutch of parents and young kids using the playground were the only other people making use of the park. There is no-doubt it is a well-used facility.

"Litter": None. The place was spotless. Perhaps the place had recently been cleaned, but there were plenty of kids using the park at the time and none was dropping litter.

"Noise": Below the line of the skate park and football cage, noise is not an issue - the skating is inaudible, the voices of young children in the playground were the only thing we could hear. Above it, in the stretch of the park up to Kitto Road, there is no question that you can hear the skating. A faint clacking sound will certainly shatter any illusions you might have that this is the countryside as you potter in this small area of the park. But the sound of aircraft overhead was louder and just as consistent. On the other side of Pepys Road, where the houses are, the sound was almost imperceptible. If you stood in your front garden listening for it, you'd hear it, in between the sound of buses rumbling past. Indoors, we can't imagine it would be detectable.

"Dangerous skating in the rest of the park": We were with two young kids and at no point did we have to worry about their safety.

"Graffiti": We spotted a couple of small tags scrawled in pen on the concrete of the ramp.

"Under age drinking": No. These kids were there to skate. We could have done with a shot of something though.

"Aesthetics": It isn't pretty. Landscaping is not finished yet and it will obviously look a lot better when it is. From most angles in the park it isn't visible, but from down the hill, by the children's slide, you can see the grey concrete wall. It would have been good if they'd given this a little more thought, perhaps cladding it in black to match the football cage.

"Loitering": Yes. There were some kids, standing around, talking to one another. In a park!

So there we are. Make of that what you will.

While we were there, a brass band marched around the park, playing slightly off-key versions of pop songs. We'd had about an hour of them, when a guy we were sharing  see-saw pushing duties with in the playground asked us if we knew who they were. Thinking we'd found a sympathetic soul, we said we didn't know but they were getting on our nerves. "No!" He said. "They are fantastic." We thought about it for a second. "Fair enough," we shrugged, "each to their own."

Friends of One Tree Hill present...

24 March 
Dawn Chorus 5:00 am
Meet at Notice Board, Honor Oak Park Entrance
near Hindu Temple
Contact Doug Brooks 07900 655 406

28th March
Mathew Frith Deputy CEO of the London Wildlife Trust will
present an illustrated talk on: Wildlife Conservation in London.
St Augustine’s Church Hall
Time: 7:30pm

24 May 
Evening Bird Walk 7:30 pm
Meet at Notice Board, Honor Oak Park Entrance
near Hindu Temple
Contact Doug Brooks 07900 655 406

Telegraph Hill Spring Walk

Chris McGaw is hosting another local wildlife walk giving us "A Wildlife Wander on the Hill" tomorrow starting at 10am in Telegraph Hill's Upper Park by the tennis courts. He says:

"It will be an informal walk focusing on the flora and fauna of Telegraph Hill's streets and parks. We'll be looking high and low for birds, wild flowers and anything else on show as Spring marches onwards. Children welcome so long as they can walk for some distance or be pushed in a buggy."

Sunflower Centre seeks part time receptionist

The Sunflower Centre writes:

We are looking for one or two people to cover reception at our complementary health centre on Thursday and Friday daytimes, Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Email us at admin@thesunflowercentre.co.uk for more information.

BC reader offer: Homemade London

The Homemade London crafticians have been busy working in their lab on a brand-new craft workshop that they will be trialing tomorrow night. They would like to offer three Brockley Central readers a free place each on the course at the shop in Marylebone.

If you'd like to come along to Homemade London and be a guinea pig for this secret course, please email Nicola at info@homemadelondon.com and she will allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis. You can apply as a group if you like.

This particular course does not require you to have any advanced craft skills but you will need a few hours tomorrow evening. Nicola will send the first three applicants all the details.

Love Lewisham?

A BC reader wants to know whether she should make the move to Lewisham:

After 15 happy years it's finally happened - I've been priced out of my beloved Brockley. Needing to leave our current flat by April, due to the landlord's circumstances, I have just put down a deposit on a rental flat on Albion Way in central Lewisham. Local letting agents have simply had nothing available for our modest budget of 950pcm. So it's off to pastures new! 

The problem is now I can't stop thinking about security - the flat in Lewisham is ground floor with side access to a small back garden and overlooked only by a car park (the one behind the Salvation Army). Whilst I've spent many happy Saturday mornings trundling round the market, I've never spent much time after dark in Lewisham and have the impression it's a pretty desolate stretch. 

I'm concerned about me and my partner walking home at night - we're both female, late 20s - and the probability of mugged or burgled is pretty high, going by recent post code crime stats. I know this can happen anywhere and we're both very savvy, but I can't help approaching this new flat with trepidation as a result - it's slap bang in the town centre and, as I said, pretty exposed. What are your thoughts readers? Am I making a bad decision here do you think? Would you live there? 

Love London, Go Dutch

Brockley resident Ben Partridge is a local champion for the London Cycling Campaign's Love London Go Dutch petition, working in Lewisham and Southwark, where there have been at least 15 cyclist fatalities in the last five years and countless more casualties along the major commuter routes running from SE London to the city centre.

The campaign is calling on the 2012 London mayoral election candidates to commit to continental-standard cycling infrastructure in the capital. It's a campaign lent more poignant local relevancy by the sad death of local resident Nga Diep, who was killed by a Lewisham lorry driver in March 2008, and whose husband yesterday featured in the Evening Standard, calling on government to do more to protect cyclists.

If you'd be willing to help him distribute petitions, hand out flyers and collect signatures in support of the campaign then please do get in touch at benjamin.e.partridge@gmail.com. There will also be a family friendly Big Ride in support of the campaign on 28 April, which the LCC hopes to attract over 10, 000 cyclists to join.

Ben will be leading a feeder ride from SE London to join the main ride at it's start on Park Lane and is looking for experienced cyclists to help coordinate it with him along with other LCC volunteers. He'd like you to drop him an email if that sounds like something for you.

Save Lewisham Nurseries campaigns to keep Ladywell, Honor Oak and Rushey Green centres open

A new group is campaigning to save three nurseries in the borough from closure. Save Lewisham Nurseries says:

We want to keep open the Honor Oak Park, Ladywell and Rushey Green Early Childhood Centres. The centres, which are well equipped and resourced, promote early learning and development for:

  • Children under 5, an increasing age group in Lewisham.
  • Children with complex needs, who have a right to be an integrated part of the community.
  • Children from all social backgrounds
Sustaining the centres allows parents to return to work and maintains equal opportunities for all families in Lewisham’s diverse community. The early intervention provided gives children a solid foundation in life and enables them to face the challenges in becoming valuable members of society.  

We plan to work as closely as we can with the Lewisham Council to find a solution to the funding crisis. We are also conducting our own research into funding models for the nurseries. So, 4 projects, all focussed our primary aim of keeping the Lewisham nurseries open. 

The Council describes its plans in a recent summary of its capital projects:

The strategy set out in the Budget proposals for 2011-14 was that the LA should stop being a childcare provider. It was agreed that the Council would close Amersham Early Childhood Centre (EYCC) and seek to transfer the three remaining centres, at Rushey Green, Honor Oak and Ladywell, through a competitive process.

In 2011/12 the lower levels of occupancy and the failure to transfer Rushey Green as planned originally means that there is a budget over spend of £832k. The closure of the three centres in August 2012 will enable the original saving of £2.18m to be achieved.

The anticipated redundancy costs are estimated to be £1.033m subject to final calculations of individual entitlements.

The Mayor is recommended to agree:
  • Consultation on the closure of the early childhood centres at Rushey Green, Honor Oak and Ladywell
  • That the formal closure date is proposed as 31 August 2012
You can follow the group on Facebook here and sign their petition here

Voter registration



This is a sponsored video from The Electoral Commission. Voting is important, but we are also suckers for human Transformers.

New public space for Deptford High Street

The Council has confirmed that their plans to improve Deptford High Street will include "a new public space at its southern end (where the high street meets New Cross Road). A new public square between Deptford High Street and The Deptford Lounge is already nearing completion.

The Council adds:

"This will be the next link in a chain of public spaces stretching from New Cross Gate to Deptford town centre which the Council has been revitalising over recent years in collaboration with the Greater London Authority, Design for London and Transport for London. Most recently, the gyratory system at Kender Triangle in New Cross Gate was returned to two-way traffic and improvements made to adjacent streets. Other projects previously delivered along the route include the makeovers of Fordham Park, Hatcham Gardens and the award-winning Margaret McMillan Park."

Plants vs Zombies

A new shop is displacing the desultory Housemartins Estate Agency in The Tea Factory, Endwell Road. Called Brockley Hydroponics, the newcomer's signage has started to replace the former owner's. No more details at this stage, but nice to see another unit put to a useful purpose and the departure of another of the area's zombie occupants.

Lewisham Olympic Torch route revealed

Krusty: Put a sock in it, preppy. How much are these free burgers gonna cost me? 
Accountant: Not to worry, Mr. K. We've rigged the cards: they're all in events that Communists never lose. 
Krusty: I like, I like. 
Woman: This just came over the wires, Big K. 
Krusty: [reads] Uh-huh. Soviet boycott. U.S. unopposed in most events. How does this affect our giveaway? 
Accountant: Let's see. [calculates] You personally stand to lose $44 million. 
- Lisa's First Words, The Simpsons

Olympic orgsnisers have revealed the route the Torch will take through the borough on its way to the Olympic Stadium. In a snub the likes of which we've not seen since the USSR refused to send a team to LA in 1984, the route planners have bypassed Brockley:

Lewisham Route: beginning at 07.21am on the 23rd July 2012

  • Creekside
  • Trinity Conservatoire of Music and Dance - Right turn
  • Creekside -  Left Turn
  • Creek Road A200 -  Left Turn
  • Deptford High Street -  Left Turn
  • Giffin Street - Right Turn
  • Deptford Church Street (A2209)
  • Brookmill Road (A2210) - Left Turn
  • Stephen Lawrence Centre
  • Forecourt in front of building - Left Turn
  • Brookmill Road A2210
  • Thurston Road A2210 - Left Turn
  • Loampit Vale A20
  • Lewisham High Street A20 - Right Turn
  • Lewisham High Street A20
  • Pedestrianised market area - Right Turn
  • Lewisham High Street A21
  • Rushey Green A205
  • Bromley Road A21
The Torch Relay will reach Lewisham on the morning of Monday 23rd July, before heading onto Bromley, Croydon and Sutton before reaching Merton and then finishing the day in Wandsworth. An average of 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the Olympic Flame during its 8,000 mile journey around the UK before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium on 27 July 2012 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the official start of the Games.

The streets, parks and local landmarks in London through which the Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame were revealed today at www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay , enabling Londoners to plan the best spot to cheer the relay and local businesses to plan ahead. The Torch Relay is set to carry the Olympic atmosphere to every corner of the capital and details for the last two days in London will be confirmed in the next month.

Announcing the London Torch Relay route the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “It is fantastic that ordinary Londoners will be an integral part of the Games and help kick-start the most exciting summer in the capital's history, taking the torch past the doorsteps of thousands of people.

“Residents in Lewisham will have a wonderful chance to soak up the festival atmosphere as local people carry the flame towards its final destination at the Olympic Park. Not only will the torch pass by some iconic sights on its travels through the capital, it will visit sports centres, high streets, parks and town halls, bringing the Games right to the heart of London's communities."

[Full disclosure, LOCOG is an Edelman client]

Losing the thread ...

After a joyfully hectic Twitter conversation about possible locations in SE London where one could procure eyebrow-threading, BC thought that we might as well attempt to compile a comprehensive list. If your favourite threader isn't on here, do post about them in the comments ...


First off, Ladywell salon Geddes does threading. £11 for brows, at the time of writing.

Secondly, there is a threading stall in Lewisham Shopping Centre (outside Boots), mentioned on Twitter by @BrockleyKnits. @gilatab has used them and says they are 'fine, just not very private!'. @edibledormouse also uses them regularly, she says: 'It's fine. Don't expect conversation!'.

@SallyKate68 mentioned 'Happy Nails' opposite the Barge on Brockley Road, which apparently does threading (though there is no information on show to suggest this - you might have to ask specially). She says they are 'cheap but seemed OK'.

@TyrwhittAli has heard that the hairdressers next door to Fishy Business on Harefield Road do threading for £6; her contact recommended them.


There are also some not-quite-local options which might nontheless be convenient for readers:

Twitter user @chickle says that there is a lady in the big Superdrug on the Strand, by Charing Cross Station, who is good and cheap.

The department stores in Bromley do threading, according to Twitter user @getthriftycouk.

@Yvonne_Witter recommends Sumita Singh at Affable Therapy in Croydon.

@Fabhat and @Ayres_the_Baker (or rather, his wife and daughter) both recommend Blink at Fenwicks, in central London.

I personally (BrockleyKate typing) use Shavata at House of Fraser on Oxford St; @Molewife uses their counterpart at House of Fraser by Bank tube station.


Do any BC readers have experience of using any of these threaders? Who would you recommend?

Toads Mouth Too closed for refurbishment

A couple of BCers have pointed out that it is remiss of us not to mention that Toads Mouth Too is currently closed for refurbishment. The Brockley Road cafe was recently bought by new owners, who are remodeling it.

Brockley Uncut



UKUncut protestors chose Brockley to promote their Budget Day protest (when they will form a dole queue outside Downing Street). Here's their video capturing their "Austerity isn't working" poster on Endwell Road.

Telegraph Hill bus fire

Thanks to Ian and Ben, who sent us these photo of a bus and car fire on Telegraph Hill at the top of Pepys Road, which occured at approximately 8.30am today. The fire is now put out and you can see photos of the wreckage on Transpontine's blog and the best photos of all on Demotix.

Ben has also provided us with video of the fire:
And here is a shot we got of the bus being towed away:

The Daily Mail has a report of what happened, quoting one passenger, saying: 'People were saying the driver saw a spark. He got everybody off the bus and within minutes it was ablaze.'

Shenanigans at Release

Shenanigans is a new club night starting this Saturday at Release Nightclub, 24 Lewisham Way. The organisers say:

THIS IS NOT A GOTH CLUB. There will be goth though... and rock (old and new) and punk and indie and cheese and industrial and EBM and filth... pretty much anything you can think of, as long as it's not too mainstream. 

We have the pinnacle of 'alt friendly' security staff. We have drinks promotions. We have... a semi... Doors are 10pm to 1am, with the club running on 'til 3am and a re-admittance policy for us smokers. 

Entry: £4 (all night) or £3 for NUS/NHS.

Click here for full details. With thanks to Chris for the heads-up.

An update from SPAG

Following discussion of the new skate park on this thread, SPAG member Jacqui has provided an update, which we are re-posting:

I am really pleased to see lots and lots of children using it and all having fun and getting on together and getting some exercise to boot. There is a fantastic atmosphere there. I have been approached by many many kids and many more parents saying they think it great.

We are trying to do something about the rubbish really the bins should have gone in before the build was finished but Glendale are going to put 2 extra bins in asap. There is a unforeseen side effect that the acoustic fencing we had to have is in fact causing more noise than the actual skating. I hope this is resolved soon and that people will not have to put up with these loud booms that are currently happening.

There is some Grafftti which the council are to remove asap. This is something that does happen in the park occasionally already and a zero tolernace is the way to deal with it.

As to kids getting into the park after dark this also was happening before the skatepark went in. However I agree it may at the moment be more than usual. I went down to the park 5 mins before closing last night and found one bike and 4 roller bladers no skater's and I asked them to leave. They were all very polite but they did say that they hadn't heard the bell. Just as we were all walking out the man came to lock the gates and told me that they don't sound the bell anymore. 


The boys I spoke to said they were not asked to leave and were just staying and getting locked in. (On purpose I suspect ) but I think we need to get the park keeper to be more proactive. We realise that this could seem a bit of a daunting task for him as he hasn't on the whole had to deal with larger crowds of older kids. So we are introducing him to the local boys so he has names and faces and hopefully support when he comes to ask them to pick up their litter or leave. 

There has been a fantastic atmosphere in the upper area this week and the ball court is busier than usual. I asked a few of the kids about this they said "Yeah its cool now it’s fun to be here" I think they think of it as their own space. I am pleased they feel this way and the ball court getting more use is an unexpected bonus.

We will work hard to talk to all the skaters and other users about not skating down into the park and we will keep this up over the next coming weeks. Please do the same as long as your polite most of the kids will be back.

Anyone who has concerns they would like to discuss further please email us at skateparkactiongroup@hotmail.co.uk and we will get back to you.


Let’s let the Skatepark get settled in and as a community monitor its effect. It will have teething problems but I believe it will all be so worth it. 

FFTANG! FFTANG!


Simon writes:

My friend and I are putting on a club night called FFTANG! FFTANG! at The Amersham Arms on Easter Saturday, 7th April. The night has been going on every month for three years in various London venues, but we're now going to concentrate on one-off big events like this at The Amersham. It was set up by New Cross resident Huskiii and we play global beats and tropical bass - there's more info on our website: www.fftangfftang.com/live

We were also featured in Time Out, from when FFTANG! FFTANG! had a residency at 93 Feet East in Shoreditch.

Ticket barriers open - target dishonest fare dodgers

The new ticket barriers next to the southbound platform at Brockley Station have opened, according to Thomas on Twitter. Here is a picture of the barriers, not open:

The design of the barriers is a little odd, the result of a very tight site and the little staff cabin looks like it will be the loneliest place in Brockley, but at least the days of waiting for a member of staff to deign to open the gate are behind us.

Harmony Sinfonia's Brockley Revolution

Sharon writes:

Harmony Sinfonia is Brockley’s very own symphony orchestra, and our spring concert will take place on Saturday 24th March, 7.30pm at St Peter’s Church in Wickham Road.

We have an exclusive offer for Brockley Central readers – buy one full price ticket (worth £9.00) to the concert and bring another person with you for free! To find out how to take advantage of this offer, please e-mail us on harmonysinfonia@gmail.com and quote “Brockley Central Offer”.

The theme of our concert is “Revolution!”. History is peppered with revolutions, and many countries have given their names to major revolutions within (and sometimes over) their borders. It is really no surprise therefore that so much music has been written that depicts these uprisings - for the emotions they inspire can often be very dramatic, and the effects they have on the people who remain once they are all over are long-lasting.

We open with Wagner's overture to Rienzi, a story of a people's revolution in Rome. Khachaturian represented the rebel Spartacus in some stirring music, including the famous "Adagio" - theme tune of the TV programme "The Onedin Line", and we perform highlights from his three orchestral suites. We finish with Shostakovich's rousing symphonic representation of the year of 1917, and the "Red October" that started the Bolsheviks’ rise to power in the Soviet Union.

We’d love to see lots of Brockley people at our concert. You can also catch us performing out and about in the community throughout the year, at Crofton Park Library, at Brockley Market and as part of the Brockley Max Festival in June.

The Talbot Beer Festival

Felix from The Talbot writes:

We are having our inaugural Beer Festival at the Talbot, it will run from 20th - 24th March and we will have 15 different real ales and a selection of ciders (gravity and bottled) and one perry (gravity) from all around the UK.

On Tuesday there will be an ale pub quiz with lots of Real Ale giveway prizes (T'Shirts, Hats key rings etc) and some free drinks questions. The pot will be over £100 on the night.

Wednesday is CAMRA night with all card carrying members getting one free 1/2 pint of any ale of their choice.
Thursday is ladies night. All ladies eating will get a free 1/2 pint of their choice.

Saturday is the Great Ale Sale were all ales and ciders being sold off at discounted prices.

Please remember Sat 17th March is St. Patrick's day and there is a little matter of an England vs Ireland 6 Nations Rugby game to watch on the big LCD screens if you need an excuse to neck a few pints of Guinness.

Also, don't forget to book a table (and sober up) for the following day, Sunday 18th March, which is Mother's day. Tables are going fast!

Ten things we learned at Brockley Central Drinks

1. A stick of broccoli with “Central” written on does not make a useful sign
2. When Brockley Ben tells you he’s coming off the wagon tonight, he’s coming off the wagon tonight
3. There are lots of nice BC “lurkers”
4. Brockley’s yummy mummies are miraculously transformed when you swap their babies for a bottle of wine
5. Everyone’s favourite BC articles are written by Brockley Kate
6. It is not easy to find somewhere to live in Brockley these days
7. You can pick the quietest, furthest-flung pub you can find in the area for a drinks night, but Sod’s Law dictates that your one Brockley based ex-girlfriend will choose that night to try the pub for the first time
8. The Old Haberdasher is a great pub once you fill it with people
9. They will let you drink until midnight if you bring enough friends
10. We should do this again in the summer

Hummy Mummies

Richard Swan writes:

Hummy Mummies is an informal, modern choir for mums and carers of young children. Think "Military Wives" but with small, noisy appendages, Hummy Mummies allows you to bring your little one and let them play while you sing, without being glared at if they make a noise. You remain responsible for your child throughout the session, just as you would when attending a playgroup. The sessions have proved very popular and are growing fast in both East and West Dulwich, now they're coming to Brockley!

We're opening a Brockley branch in Crofton Park Baptist Church on Friday, April 27th at 9.45am - the first session is always free.

Checkout the website for more information.

The London Particular at The Social

The reputation of New Cross cafe The London Particular is growing and it has been ask to take up a three-month residence in the kitchen of The Social, Little Portland Street, who say:

The London Particular team are giving the menu a radical shake up. The results over the trial period of the last two weeks have been jaw-droppingly brilliant. Word is already spreading that the bar is now offering really great locally sourced, homemade, affordable food. 

The Particular's Becky says:

We will be offering a special deal for our SE customers for a discounted meal at The Social if they take a stamped flier from the London Particular.

With local champions like old-timers Babur and newcomers Brockley Market, El's Kitchen and Brown's of Brockley, this area is fast-establishing itself as a culinary hotbed, worthy of more than just local interest.

Six Lewisham Council employees paid via "tax avoidance" scheme [UPDATED]

Tonight's File on 4 programme on Radio 4 focuses on Council employees being paid through limited companies, which allows high earners to "make their own tax arrangements rather than be paid through the PAYE system."

In the programme, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge MP describes such arrangements as a tax avoidance scheme and says no government employee should be paid on this basis.

The programme has revealed that Lewisham has six employees paid on this basis. Hackney Council was the local council with the highest number of people paid through external companies, with 39.

Update: Cllr Mike Harris, who chairs the Council's Audit Panel, says this issue will be discussed at the next panel meeting on March 22nd.

Telegraph Hill Skate Park completed

The Telegraph Hill Skate Park is now open. 
The facility, built in the lower park in Telegraph Hill, next to the football cage, is complete, although some of the landscaping remains to be completed. It will formally open during the Telegraph Hill Festival on Sunday, March  25th, 12pm-4pm. The launch event will include bands, competitions and stalls.
  
With thanks to Imogen for the photos.

Deptford Project master plan approved

We're grateful to Gema on the Deptford forum, for alerting us that BD Online is reporting the Deptford Project has been given the go-ahead.


The masterplan involves redeveloping the area between the Deptford Project cafe and Deptford Station, behind the high street and parallel with the railway arches. An eight story residential block and new market and new retail and workshop space are among the key features. The Victorian carriage ramp will be restored.

This is a big deal for Deptford and, while the neon pink styling of the main residential building will offend some (not BC, we should say), the overall effect of this project should be incredibly positive, complementing the exciting stuff that Deptford already offers.

BD says:

Cathedral and United House, which were first chosen to develop the scheme in 2006, are hoping to be on site later this year with completion pencilled in for the middle of 2014.

BC Drinks - Wednesday Night

The weather forecasts say Wednesday evening will be balmy - an early taste of summer - the perfect evening for a short walk to The Old Haberdasher for Brockley Central Drinks.

Drink, for tomorrow we may have a hosepipe ban.

Save the last dance for Tea

Tea Dance for Little People, the children's play venue in Brockley, is to relocate from its home in the Tea Factory and is on the hunt for a new home in the area. A planned rent rise and the need for a bigger premises (The Tea Factory has always been a bit of a tight squeeze for them) is behind the move.

TDLP confirmed the news in an email to customers and supporters, saying:

We are busy looking for a new home for our family arts café. We’re reaching out to our community to assist us in finding new premises so please contact us if you know of somewhere or someone who can help. 

We’ve had an opportunity at The Tea Factory to really discover what TDLP can be. Sadly, the rental costs are about to increase. Just under 1,000 individual families have visited TDLP since we opened, more than 20 artists have been trained and employed, and we have 19 families working through our TeaTimebank, exchanging their skills for free family time to help grow the social business. 

Without the investment of Brockley’s local community we would never have managed to get going and thank you all for your involvement.

In the mean time, there is a full calendar of events planned at The Tea Factory. We wish them well on their hunt for a new home.

Mother's Day

BC reader Chitro asks:

Can you please post a question on BC about any ideas for Mother's Day lunches? I've scouted round a few websites, but cannot find anything much (i.e. Mother's Day special as opposed to regular Sunday lunch).

Suggestions please.

Prime Minister launches new mortgage scheme in Loampit Vale

David Cameron visited the Loampit Vale "Renaissance" housing project today to launch a new mortage indemnity scheme called NewBuy, which is designed to support first-time buyers.

The BBC reports:

The government hopes the NewBuy scheme - supported by Barclays, NatWest and Nationwide - will help people to borrow up to 95% of the value of new homes. Critics argue the scheme is just a ruse to help the construction industry. 

Under NewBuy, the builder pays 3.5% of the sale price into a special account held by the lending bank for seven years. Taxpayers will provide additional guarantees of 5.5% but that money will be called upon only in the event of a major property crash. 

The scheme is being unveiled on the same day Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the extension of the right-to-buy discount to up to £75,000 for social housing tenants.


During the launch, Cameron got to hang out and live the Lewisham dream at the Renaissance show-home (pictured).

[Full disclosure: Barratt is a client of BC's employer these days].

Brockley MAX 2012 - Get Involved

The first public meeting for the 2012 Brockley MAX festival takes place at Mr. Lawrence Wine Bar, Brockley Road, March 15th, 7:30pm. If you're interesting in volunteering to help organise it or you want to put on an event as part of the MAX please head along.

This year's festival will take place between June 1st-9th.

The Rover Vitesse Fastback driver's guide to Brockley

A BC reader has created a guide to eating and shopping in Brockley that focuses on some of the local businesses less-often mentioned on the site. It's a route which he believes represents "honest" Brockley. Here's his map:


View Larger Map

He's accidentally mentioned a few businesses that are always being discussed and celebrated on Brockley Central, like Fishy Business, The Wickham Arms, Top Chef and the Brockley Barge, but he's probably got a day job and did this in his spare time, so we'll make allowances.

More worryingly, Tesco is mentioned, so he obviously secretly works for them. There are no jerk establishments, so he's clearly racist. It only covers the Conservation Area, so he's a massive snob. The Barge and The Wickham are family-friendly, so we've no idea what he's playing at there? And the effete ponce has not included any newsagents on the list. The Google map he's created includes directions for both walking and public transport, indicating that he's a vegan and his wee smells funny. He probably moved here fewer than 20 years ago - most likely from one of the home counties - so his opinions and this map are therefore invalid.

Still, it's an interesting project, worthy of supporting, so please help him fill it in by posting your suggestions below.

Council unveils Deptford High Street improvement plans

The Deptford Dame reports that Lewisham Council is to exhibit its ideas to redevelop Deptford High Street, after it was awarded £1.5m from the Mayor's Outer London Fund to make improvements. The exhibition will take place at The Deptford Lounge from March 15th-April 1st. The Dame hopes that a rogue paving slab with a habit of squirting fishy water at pedestrians will be dealt with and says:

The council is looking at improving the physical condition and layout of the High Street so that it is better equipped to accommodate traffic four days a week and a the market three days a week. Other ideas being worked on include looking at ways to improve parking across the whole of the town centre which take into account current and future user needs and appropriate regulation and creating a new public space at the southern end of the High Street which could host events or seasonal markets.

Let's move to New Cross

The Guardian's 'Let's move to' column today focuses on New Cross. Back in 2010, the column covered Brockley in a piece that lumped us in with East Dulwich and Nunhead. This time, New Cross gets dedicated treatment and the description is a little harsh, but reasonably fair, helped by a couple of "words on the street" comments from BC regulars. The introduction says:

New Cross: only for the intrepid. Initial impressions are not encouraging. A road runs through it. A great, stinking, droning road: the A2. But if you do as the locals do and ignore it, New Cross opens up like an oyster with a pearl. For what's that I hear over the clamour of traffic? Buzz. There's a definite buzz around the Peckham-Camberwell-Deptford triangle these days, and New Cross is at its centre. You don't have to be an art student at Goldsmiths to enjoy it, though it does help. Step away from New Cross's great knot of infrastructure – roads, viaducts, railways, Sainsbury's car park – and you come across little microclimates of hardy souls ignoring the roar by making their own noise, be that the sound of cool kidz playing guitar at the Amersham Arms, the swish of knitting needles at Café Crema or the sound of feverish community gardening. Nope, can't hear a thing.

The Guardian is obsessed by negative impact of the A2 on New Cross, much to the annoyance of its New Cross readers who point out that the illustrative photo is actually Deptford Broadway. As the readers say, New Cross is not the only part of London to be blighted by an arterial road, but it is true to say that the road system is a real problem for the area. It's not simply that the road is large and busy, it's that the one-way system effectively cuts New Cross in half, dividing the clusters of businesses around New Cross and New Cross Gate stations, which hampers its potential to form a coherent town centre.

Brockley Market - righting a great wrong with Scotch eggs and dark fluid

Other than the Rivoli, there are very few reasons for London's lifestyle media to bother with Brockley. But Brockley Market is doing a great job, forcing its way in to the Standard (which loves its Scotch eggs) and Time  Out, which (as many BCers have pointed out) reviews it this week. They say:

What started out life as a small market in a college car park has since blossomed into a weekly social event for local residents who want to sample the colour and flavour of Borough or Spitalfields without wandering far from their front doors. The focus is on locally-sourced seasonal food, whether that's a joint for your Sunday lunch, your basic supply of fresh fruit and veg, or cakes, artisan breads, cheese and charcuterie for a special occasion. As well as being a good spot to tick off your shopping list, Brockley is great for brunch. Arrive early and enjoy an award-winning Dark Fluid Coffee and breakfast burrito from Luardos Mexican Street Food van - the perfect way to kick-start your weekend.

Crofton Park train services - the facts

Following Patrick's article about the future of Crofton Park trains, following the Thameslink construction, another BCer, David, did some further digging and has been able to confirm that Crofton Park services will return to a similar pattern to the one they enjoyed before works began. He says:

I emailed Thameslink and have just got a relatively detailed reply about exactly what will happen to the Crofton Park line. I thought it may be of interest for the site. Fundamentally trains to Blackfriars will resume in May, but they will not run the line through the Thameslink core (though presumably we will be able to change on to the other lines at Blackfriars so it is hardly a disaster.

Thameslink said:

Regarding evening and weekend services between Crofton Park and Sevenoaks: the Service Development Planner has confirmed that currently this is one of those services which falls into a gap between two operators. 

The existing weekday joint services between Sevenoaks and Kentish Town etc. will be maintained in the May 2012 timetable. In addition Southeastern will run some later services to and from Sevenoaks and Blackfriars. 

These are late evening services, which currently originate or terminate at Victoria because there is no access to Blackfriars due to engineering works. At weekends from May, Southeastern will revert their current London - Sevenoaks via Catford service to originate or terminate at Blackfriars instead of Victoria.

As these are purely Southeastern services, they do not appear as part of our Thameslink project publicity, which is concerned with the First Capital Connect Thameslink route. First Capital Connect certainly, and we believe Southeastern, have both looked at extending the through services to include weekends, but we were not able to make a commercially viable business case, and I suspect that Southeastern were not able to either.

What a Carve Up!

In an attempt to avoid this thread turning in to A N Other debate about honest fare, we are reposting Brockley Ben's question in a new thread. He says:

Among all the tiresome "mung" nonsense that gets churned out on anonymous autopilot on this site, the bit that bemuses me most is the dishonest fare theme. 

I love food and care where it comes from. But equally I can understand people who don’t: people who either see food as fuel and don’t much care for what it is, or who enjoy eating but don’t care about how it’s produced. 

I’d argue against these points of view (particularly the latter) but I accept that it’s part of a multi-faceted worldview and one of the consequences of decades of development and investment into the industrialisation of food production. 

I like being able to buy food cheaply myself, of course. I just choose to be picky about certain foodstuffs where I can. What I don’t get is the “dishonest” label. 

How, for instance, can anyone label as dishonest a pub (whose food they haven’t tried) when all they’ve done is openly state that they like to produce seasonal, local food? In what way is that dishonest? 

I can guarantee there are pubs in the area selling “homemade” food that has come straight out of a freezer. It might have been home-assembled but most of the making has been done in an industrial unit in another part of the country. 

Is that more honest? I know I’m (ahem) feeding some knee-jerk trollish behaviour here, but I’m generally interested in this perceived disparity. How did caring about what you eat and where it comes from become seen as dishonest by some people in this little corner of the world?

---

BC gets the “dishonest fare” meme. It’s an attack on the affectations of (primarily, but not exclusively) middle class people, who fetishise food and are suckered in to paying a premium for things based on their labels.

Up to a point, it’s fair criticism: The virtues of “organic” are vastly exaggerated, all balsamic vinegars taste basically the same and bottled water brands like Fiji should be made illegal. There is no-one more worthy of ridicule than someone who insists that only chocolate with 70% cocoa solids is edible.

A bag of chips served up without any care for presentation or any claims made on its behalf other than it fills a hole and tastes great is, in some ways, “more honest” than something that lectures you about its provenance and the artisan love with which it is assembled. But that tiny, inconsequential truth is used as an excuse to dismiss issues like animal welfare, nutritional balance or environmental sustainability. If we reassure ourselves that some of the food claims are exaggerated, then we give ourselves a convenient excuse not to have to pay more for free range eggs.

"Dishonest fare" also denies the value of aesthetics and context in terms of how we enjoy our food. The thinking goes: "Food - and thus culture - should be purely functional. Anything more is aspirational. And there's nothing I hate more than someone who wants their lives to be more communal or beautiful." Before Brockley Common was created, there were people who argued that creating a place of beauty in Brockley was asking for trouble - it would just become a crime spot and be immediately vandalised. Better to put barbed wire up, they said. It's the same line of thinking that condemns freshly baked bread - why pay more, when it's all basically the same stuff?

Food is culture. When mums pushed Big Macs through the school bars to save their kids from eating Jamie Oliver’s new menus, it wasn’t because the new food was too expensive or they genuinely doubted the nutritional value: They felt that their lifestyle was being challenged / criticised by some uppity TV presenter. And they were right. Except that the cultural norms they wanted to impress upon their children were likely to shorten their kids' lives and impair their ability to learn.

Not everything is subjective. Some things are better than others. A diet without vegetables is worse than one with them. And a life which includes a dose of extra virgin olive oil or a stroll past a communal garden from time to time is - ceteris paribus - better than one that doesn't.

Brockley Green Chain; part 5 of 5

‘Upright and respectable’


If there are any Goths out there reading this, here’s the walk section for you. It’s mostly graveyards and Victorian furbelows. You’re welcome …

Pass Camberwell New Cemetery – or pop in, if you’re a fan of graveside architecture; this place is still fully in use. George Cornell is buried here – the East End gangster famously shot by the Kray twins in the Blind Beggar. The area is of course heavily associated with the Richardsons - the connoisseur’s gangsters of choice. Forget all that Krays hype, these guys were the real deal. Another overlooked aspect of south-east London life.

After paying your respects, head towards Nunhead Cemetery. Anyone seeking a pint-or-toilet stop can call in at the Waverley Arms just before we reach the main gates.

Wooded paths in Nunhead Cemetery


Nunhead Cemetery deserves its reverent reputation. As one of the Magnificent Seven Victorian London burial grounds, it is one of only two south of the river, and (have you noticed a theme yet?) is definitely the most under-appreciated. It has been aptly called an ‘elegant wilderness’. Gothic memorials, overgrown paths, the glorious riot of nature amid the staid sobriety of the dead – this place has it all. Walk, loiter, photograph and meditate as long as you like, this site could take a day’s walk on its own.



Gothic architecture


When you’re ready to exit, head north to Linden Grove (via the impressive ruined chapel), where we turn right past a series of curious 80s-style bungalows. A loop around and over the Peckham-Lewisham railway line brings us back to BC's core stomping grounds, crossing Drakefell Road into Upper Telegraph Hill Park.


The railway line crossing


The park lies just west of Haberdasher’s Aske’s Hatcham College, apparently the most over-subscribed state secondary in the country. So that explains all the middle-class liberals cluttering up the place. (New Cross being, as we all know, originally called Hatcham.)

This is another long-standing beacon site. Historically known as Plowed Garlic Hill, tennis courts now occupy the precise location. Local tennis enthusiasts are going to have to bite the bullet if the nuclear holocaust ever happens and we have to resort to basic communications systems again. Just saying.

From here, cross Kitto Road to enter the southern section of the park. Lined with stately period houses and on a definite incline, its respectable and orderly air is only partly dented by the controversial skate-park construction activity on its eastern fringe. There’s a pond, a children’s playground, a statue (2008) commemorating Equiano, and a basketball court. This is a neat and respectable park with a Victorian ethos. Very Brockley, in short.


The Equiano statue


At the end of your trip, stop off for a drink in the Brockley Barge. Having replaced a dive which was notorious across south-east London, this Wetherspoons-run hostelry is the subject of much noveau-Brockley ire, which just goes to show how short local memory can be. Many of the area’s longterm residents will affirm that its current incarnation is a massive improvement on its previous occupants, and as such should be strongly supported and encouraged. If nothing else, think of your house price if it were to revert to its former reputation …


The Green Chain logo

Links:
Waverley Arms: on beerintheevening.com
Friends of Nunhead Cemetery: www.fonc.org.uk
Friends of Telegraph Hill Park: www.thehill.org.uk/park
The Hill Station: boldvision.org.uk
Brockley Barge: the Barge

Brockley Central Label Cloud