Martin Rowson Brockley Max fundraiser, February 10

Political Cartoons: giving the gift of offence 10 February 8 pm at the Ladywell Tavern (80 Ladywell Road, SE13 7HS)

Martin Rowson, one of the UK's leading cartoonists and political satirists and 'scourge of the political establishment', will give his thoughts on the power of giving and taking offence, exposing the techniques, practice and purpose of caricature, followed by Q&A.

Be prepared to be shocked, enlightened and thoroughly entertained! All ticket sales go to supporting this year’s Brockley Max Festival. Over 16 years only. Tickets £11.49 in advance, £12 on the door. Buy tickets here.

Come early for a burger and beer for only £10, on production of your ticket.

I have done my share

In the month that scientists produced evidence of the gravitational waves predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, Brockley's Nobel street artist, Lionel Stanhope, has produced this portrait in Hilly Fields.

Thanks to Fintan for the photo.

Wickham Arms censured by Lewisham Council

The management of the Wickham Arms pub (Upper Brockley Road) have been heavily censured by the licencing enforcement team at Lewisham Council, after persistent problems with after-hours drinking, noise and other forms of public nuisance.

In an extensive report published on the Lewisham Council website, the enforcement officer concludes that "the Licensing Authority remains doubtful of the premises’ ability to adhere to the permitted hours of licensable activity" and proposes that a raft of new conditions be imposed on the pub, including retraining for staff, new CCTV and a commitment by the landlord to remain at the pub throughout the evening every weekend.

It's clear from the report that both the Council and local residents have run out of patience with the current owners. Time for the Wickham team to decide whether they really want to run a pub.

With thanks to Monkeyboy and the Deptford Dame.

A little piece of utopia

Andrew Ryan: What is the difference between a man and a parasite? A man builds. A parasite asks 'Where is my share?' A man creates. A parasite says, 'What will the neighbors think?' A man invents. A parasite says, 'Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God... '
- BioShock

Something fascinating and exciting is going on in Ladywell at the moment (isn't it always?). And you can be part of it. Alice writes:

"A rare opportunity for Lewisham residents to apply for one of 33 affordable new homes within the borough has been announced. Expressions of interest are now being sought from those wishing to become residents of the new development planned by the Rural urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) in Church Grove, Ladywell, south London.

"Successful applicants will work with RUSS’ project team to agree proposed building plans to be submitted for approval by Lewisham Council.

"RUSS has now announced the ballot and eligibility criteria that will lead to the selection of the future residents. Applicants must have lived or worked in Lewisham for an eligible amount of time, or have a family connection to the borough. The applications deadline is Monday 29th February, with the ballot scheduled for 20th March. Expression of interest forms, together with the eligibility criteria, are available on the RUSS website (www.theruss.org). To apply for a home it is necessary to become a member of RUSS. Membership starts at £1.

"A launch event will be held on the 30th January at The Field, 385 Queens Road, SE14 5HD from 12pm – 3pm. Further Drop-in sessions will be held on the 3rd and 17th February @ Ladywell Tavern, Gallery Space, SE13 7HS from 7pm – 8.30pm

"Community group RUSS has been negotiating with Lewisham Council to purchase land in Church Grove. It plans to lead the development of an ambitious scheme to construct a community of self-build homes that will meet the needs of a diverse range of people who live or work in Lewisham. In October last year RUSS was named the preferred bidder for the scheme.

"RUSS is a volunteer-led community land trust that aims to provide homes for those priced out of the housing market. The group's vision for Church Grove is to build high quality, sustainable homes providing a combination of one bedroom to four bedroom homes with a range of purchasing and renting options based on the needs of the residents who come forward for the scheme. This will include social rent, affordable rent, shared equity and shared ownership. The scheme will also provide the opportunity for people wishing to be involved with building the homes to learn and develop a range of building and management skills.

"RUSS founder and chair Kareem Dayes, who grew up in Lewisham’s pioneering self-build housing community Walter’s Way, is encouraging interested Lewisham residents to get involved, check their eligibility and apply for a RUSS home. Kareem said: “we are now entering a really exciting phase of the scheme. We’re searching for interested local people who want to become residents of our Church Grove project, and help to self-build part of their future home. Our energetic membership are making every effort to publicise the application process, so that as many Lewisham residents as possible have the chance to apply for an affordable place to live. As we move the scheme on, we are looking forward to working with the local community and Lewisham Council to maximise the benefits of this innovative, exciting project.”"

The future of Catford Theatre

© Copyright Mike Quinn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Lewisham Council has launched a consultation on the future of Catford's Broadway Theatre. They say:

The Broadway Theatre is a Grade II listed building in the heart of Catford. It was built in 1932 and is an outstanding example of Art Deco design. The magnificent curve of the building frontage, fascinating gargoyles, imposing, grand main auditorium and rare Compton theatre organ give the Broadway its unique charm.  It was originally built as a multi-purpose civic hall for activities including dancing and wrestling and now has a main auditorium with a capacity of 800 seats and an 80 seat studio theatre.

In 1999 the theatre underwent a £2million refurbishment but 75% of this investment was needed for major remedial works including a full rewiring and roof repairs. Funding was not available to tackle the challenging and complex needs surrounding the backstage area or the interiors of the two auditoria. The combination of the 1930s design of the building not meeting modern standards and the deterioration of some aspects of the building mean that the Broadway needs investment in a number of areas.

At the end of 2015 the main auditorium had to be closed for a period to allow for repairs to the ornate plaster ceiling.  The main house is operational again with a reduced programme whilst the Council prepares a capital plan to bring the theatre back to its former glory.   In the longer term the capital investment needed will require external funds to be secured.  The Council is committed to ensuring that the theatre can remain a vibrant focal point for cultural activity.

Lewisham Council is currently seeking views on how the Broadway Theatre can be best used in the future and what type of venue would be of most value to the local community.

Click here to complete the survey. With thanks to Tamsin.

The Fat Walrus, 44 Lewisham Way

It was supposed to be the impossible pub.

An establishment that had been through various incarnations in recent years, without attracting a sustainable customer base. Too far from New Cross for passing trade and too close to New Cross to enjoy a captive market. The Old Haberdasher - an adequate sort of place - was perennially empty.

Then, with little fanfare, The Fat Walrus opened last week and showed what difference a good team can make.

I tried it out for the first time last night. On a Tuesday night in Dry January it was packed.

The new pub, run by the team that re-energised the New Cross House, is clearly pitching itself to a clientèle that's a decade or two younger than the Old Haberdashers' target customer: The décor's been stripped back, with bare brick walls and naked light bulbs; the space is primarily given over to booths that suit small groups, to create a more urgent atmosphere; the beer is fairly hipster friendly and the menu favours people who want to eat with their hands.

But their crowning achievement is the toilets, which no longer smell nasty. That ought to suit everyone.

Looking out at their back garden, which is not yet finished, I could see the top of Goldsmiths' Richard Hoggart Building. Suddenly, the walk up the hill from New Cross doesn't seem so far after all.

Click here for contact details.

Thameslink, Southeastern and Southern most unpopular trains in Britain

Greater Brockley's train providers have scored a 1-2-3 in the public vote for the worst train company in Britain. The Evening Standard reports:

"Three train firms serving London faced passenger fury today after being named as the worst in Britain despite soaring profits.

"Thameslink came bottom, with 73 per cent for passenger satisfaction, followed by Southeastern on 75 per cent and Southern on 78 per cent, according to figures from the National Rail Passenger Survey."

As the article notes, all three services are owned by the same parent company, Govia - but in their defence, they are also all affected by the disruption from the London Bridge redevelopment.

TfL recently revealed plans to take London's overland services under their control, which rail users hope will deliver big improvements in service standards, while a new campaign has been launched to force urgent action over Thameslink's poor service through Crofton Park.

Thanks to Robin for the spot.

Seven Dwarfs, One Tree Hill

If there's a statute of limitations on pantomimes, St Augustine's Church doesn't want to know. They say:

Its Panto time again (oh no it's not..) Pirate Pantomimes who previously brought you Jack and the Beanstalk and Sleeping Beauty, present 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'.  

St Augustine's Church on Saturday 6th February 3.30pm and 7.30pm plus Sunday 7th February at 3.30pm.  Book online at augustineonetreehill.org.uk limited tickets available and selling fast - don't miss out!

Naughty Bus

Rebecca wants help bringing a bus to justice. She writes:

Last Thursday, our car was parked overnight at the end of Harefield Road, near the sorting office. When we went to the car at about 1:30pm, it had obviously been hit by a bus. There was red fibre glass everywhere and the wheel was bent out.

The bodywork only looked mildly scraped, but it could not be driven as something connecting the wheel had been bent. Basically the whole steering system has been damaged and £600 in, the car is still not driving properly.

We believe this was a 484 and have spoken to the bus depot in Camberwell, as well as the bus company that runs the route and the police. So far, we have got nowhere. Apparently, this sort of thing happens a lot but with no witnesses or number plate, we have no insurance cover.

We are therefore appealing for anyone who may have been on the 484 travelling along Harefield Mews between 4:30am and 1:30pm on Thursday 21st January, who may have witnessed a bus hit a silver convertible Audi A4. Or for people to contact us with similar experiences, so we can put pressure on those responsible to take more care.

If anyone has any relevant information, please contact me here.

Big Bird Watch, Jan 31

The Friends of Hilly Fields are holding a Big Birdwatch event this Sunday 31 January from 10.30 - 12.30 to coincide with the RSPB national event.

Join a guided walk or grab a bird ID sheet and go round by yourselves. Activities for children include making bird feeders and fat balls. The RSPB will also have a stall.

Click here for details.

Curzon Goldsmiths opens on January 29th

Curzon Goldsmiths opens to public on 29 January 2016. Goldsmiths announces:

The new cinema at Goldsmiths, University of London is opening on 29 January 2016 – with The Big Short and The Revenant the first films to be screened.

Curzon Goldsmiths is the result of a partnership between the university and Curzon Cinemas. The collaboration is bringing the first full-time cinema to the London borough of Lewisham for 15 years.

The full range of ticket prices has also been released with off-peak offers, discounts for all students, the unwaged and seniors allowing access for all to this community asset.

Booking and programming information will be available at www.curzongoldsmiths.com when the site goes fully live later this week.

Programming will follow Curzon’s mix of the best in cinema from across the globe as well as documentary and special director Q&As.

It is the first such partnership between a university and cinema company and gives Goldsmiths one of the country’s best campus cinemas in the country. Curzon Goldsmiths is part of the Curzon Connect initiative that includes screens at Arthouse Crouch End, Curzon Mondrian London and Pinewood Cinema.

The move also means Lewisham now has a full-time cinema and is no longer the only London borough without such a facility. Lewisham lost its last full-time cinema when the Cannon in Catford closed in 2001.

Patrick Loughrey, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Cinema has always been a vital part of Goldsmiths. From Oscar-winners to the use of film in research and teaching across the university, we have a rich screen heritage.

“Film brings people together, and this partnership with Curzon will helps us share our love of cinema with the local community, London and the wider world.”

The exciting development builds on Goldsmiths’ film and cinema heritage. Our alumni include Oscar-winners Steve McQueen and Colin Welland, Sam Taylor-Johnson and the Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock is also said to have attended Goldsmiths, studying on a series of art courses during the first half of the 20th century.

The next generation of film-makers is also being shaped at the world-leading Screen School, based in the Department of Media and Communications.

Gina's Butterfly Effect, February 19

Local cabaret returns - for more details visit www.theginacabaret.com

Crofton Park commuters launch campaign for better trains

If the recent slew of positive stories about transport infrastructure in South East London have taught us one thing, it's that Crofton Park Station and the Thameslink services that rattle through it are at the top of no-one's to-do list.

The Catford Loop line rarely gets mentioned in any talk of upgrades or restructures and the line's poor capacity, frequency and reliability are such that unless you work in Blackfriars or Denmark Hill, then a walk to Honor Oak or Brockley stations is often a better better bet.

Thus, a new petition has been launched by Crofton Park residents who have "had enough" and want the line to be treated as a priority. They say:

Residents of Crofton Park and the surrounding areas have come together to call for change from Thameslink. We've done our research - looking at timetables from the 1950s we have discovered that today there are fewer, less frequent trains despite the growth in commuter numbers. 

There are 36% more passengers than just 4 years ago - but no improvement in trains, the timetable, and even worse performance. We want to see:

- a reliable service, an end to frequent delays
- 8 carriages on all trains in the morning and evening peaks
- 4 trains per hour each way in the morning and evening peaks

Click here to sign the petition or attend the public meeting on Saturday 6th February from 3pm at the Rivoli with Brockley MP Vicky Foxcroft.

The Brockley Street Art Festival will return in 2016

Last summer's Brockley Street Art Festival didn't simply transform many of the area's least lovely walls, it kickstarted a local street art movement, such that new works have been added to our streetscapes ever since. So it's fantastic to hear (via Lionel Stanhope, Brockley's most prolific street artist) that the Festival will return this summer. More details soon.

Little Nan wins Dot London Award

All Bar Nan - the team collect the award at last night's ceremony
Local pop-up cocktail den Little Nan was one of twelve London-based businesses to win at the inaugural Dot London Small Business Awards last night.

The awards were created by Dot London, the capital’s unique domain name, to celebrate the success of London’s most outstanding small businesses. Other winners included: Kricket, an Indian restaurant based in Brixton’s new community campus, The House of St Barnabas, Soho’s 150-year-old members club and We Built This City, an artist-led London souvenir shop in Carnaby Street.

Speaking on the night, the bar staff who collected the award said:

"We are ecstatic to have won the Dot London award; this is so unexpected given the big names we were up against! We are proud of what we have created and this shows our customers are really behind us.

"We plan to use the prize money to buy more of the fun decor our visitors love for the bar, so teapots, teacups and more fun and quirky ornaments.”

Toy Library pops up in Lewisham

Ladywell self-build community takes shape

Architect's plans for Ladywell self-build housing
The Guardian has a brilliant feature on the plans to create a new self-build community in Ladywell based on the ideas of architect Walter Segal, who inspired the creation of Walter's Way in Forest Hill. Writer Oliver Wainwright says:

On a site in Ladywell, the council has agreed to hand over the land on a long-term lease to the Rural Urban Synthesis Society (Russ), a community land trust (CLT) set up by Dayes, to develop 33 new homes for a mix of affordable tenures. Unlike the original Lewisham self-builds of the 80s, the Ladywell development will remain affordable in perpetuity, with rents linked to local incomes through the community land trust, which will retain a stake of at least 20% in each home.

The proposal includes five flats for social rent; two shared flats – each with three purpose-designed studios for young people unable to afford full market rents; 14 flats offered on a discounted shared-equity basis (the CLT’s stake will enable control of subsequent resales to people similarly in need); and 12 homes available shared-ownership, where residents buy a 25% share and can “earn” up to a further 12% ownership to reflect the sweat equity in building their homes.

The scheme is being designed by Architype, a practice set up as a co-operative in 1984 by architects Jon Broome and Bob Hayes, who both worked with Segal and have continued to develop his method in projects across the country. Their design, intended to be built to Passivhaus standards of energy efficiency, incorporates big terraces for shared gardens and food production, as well as a community hall and kitchen for community meetings, performances and childcare.

For the full article, click here. Thanks to Chris for the story.

TfL takes control of South East London trains to boost services


TfL have confirmed that they will assume control of London's suburban rail network, including the services running through South East London to Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Victoria, London Bridge and Waterloo.

The Standard reports:

The long-running campaign to persuade ministers to devolve powers over services should increase capacity, eventually bringing an end to the cattle truck conditions for millions of Londoners, and improve accessibility. 

TfL plans to streamline fares and travel information across the whole suburban rail network, rebranding the services London Overground and turning the capital's transport map orange.

With the capital's population set to rise from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030, the proposals should ensure the network is able to cope, especially in South London which is heavily reliant on surface rail...

The Mayor told the Standard:

"By working closely together and taking on these new services, we're going to emulate the success of the London Overground and give the entire capital and surrounding areas the services they truly deserve."

The first route to come under the next Mayor's control will be Southeastern in 2018, followed by Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services in 2021...

It could mean that more than 80 per cent of stations have a train every 15 minutes, up from 67 per cent today..

Unlike most of the existing franchise agreements, income from fares would be handed over to TfL to invest in the network, for example bringing in new walk-through trains with more doors and staffing 100 per cent of stations during operating hours.

However, huge sums would still be needed to bring the network up to scratch, especially across South London where demand is highest, at a time when TfL's finances will be under pressure.

City Hall insiders suggested cash for investment could also be raised from the land value increase around stations, as well as from Network Rail and the Government. 

For the full article, click here.

Brockley Men: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right

Unhungry, the Brockley singles supperclub, returns on Saturday with two sittings at a secret Brockley venue:

Brunch 12pm, Dinner 7pm
Four courses and a cocktail, £25 per head
Email unhungrysupperclub@gmail.com to book, first come first served.

The organisers assure me: "We very often get lots of AMAZING, smart, funny, successful and beautiful women (really) but rarely enough men to go around... so we are calling on all the lovely local chaps to come along!"

The Peckham Rye Music Festival

Georgia writes:

A brand new independent multi venue weekend festival for London launches this May.

The Peckham Rye Music Festival will have over 40 world class artists, labels, record shops, workshops and seminars in the mix to create a fresh and exciting vibe in this ever evolving, creative and buzzy corner of London.

- 8 local venues already announced with more to follow
- Stellar headline acts from across the Globe
- Early bird tickets on sale now for £18

Click here for details. Thanks to Michael for the heads-up.

Brockley briefs earn Oscar nomination for local screenwriter

Brockley-based screenwriter Matt Charman has been Oscar nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category for his work on Bridge of Spies, developing the script with the legendary Coen Brothers.

The cold war drama, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, collected a total of six nominations. Charman pitched the story to Spielberg in his pants while at home in Brockley. Charman told the Evening Standard:

“I went up to the little office I had at home. For some reason I cleared everything off the desk, don’t know why, like a reverse nesting sort of thing. I stripped down to my boxer shorts and a T-shirt because I was really hot and I just stood up and paced around and waited. Then suddenly the phone is ringing and it’s: ‘Hey Matt, it’s Steven. I hear you’ve got a story to tell me’.”

“When Steven came back and said ‘I’m going to make your film with Tom Hanks’ ... that still feels impossible, that sentence, that he would say that.”

Last year, Honor Oak-based production team received an Oscar nomination for their documentary Virunga.

Thanks to Margaret for the story.

Brockley Meetup

Rebecca writes:

I have just moved to Brockley and plan to meet more people to make some local friends. I have started a meetup group and wanted to make people aware of it. Click here for details.

I aim to check out local places, restaurants, bars, pubs, test some local theatres or galleries, maybe go walking and explore the parks in summer. It just takes too much time and energy to go out in central London all the time so it would be nice to know more local people!

The first meetup is this Thursday. I just chose one of our local pubs as a venue and I want it to be casual and friendly, so anybody can come along, either for some drinks or maybe later dinner.

Looking forward to meet you all.

The Brocklings

Caroline writes:

I am a Brockley-based screenwriter for documentary and fiction and I'm looking for one or two like-minded, serious writers to start a small writing-support group, perhaps meeting monthly, to share and discuss our work.

If anyone is interested, please contact me at carolinebacle@gmail.com

Crofton Park flood

The stretch of road near Crofton Park Station is currently covered in water thanks to a massive leak beneath the pavement. Thanks to Molewife for the photo.

Sorrow

A pair of eyes that have been looking out, slantindicular-fashion, over Geoffrey Road for the last few months, have been given a Bowie makeover.

Know your PLACE

The team behind PLACE / Ladywell, the new pop-up space opening soon on the site of the old swimming pool, write:

We are looking for an artist in residence to help us engage the public, generate interest in using the spaces on offer, and communicate the story that these spaces will be open for people to eat, drink, run events, buy local and support creative enterprises.

We have a budget of £1800 (including VAT) and would expect you to animate the space and engage the public over a period of 6 weeks during March/April

If you are interested please have a look at the attached brief.

To know more about the PLACE/Ladywell in general, go to the project page here.

The Undiscovered Country

The Evening Standard's Homes & Property section has decided to chuck a bit of fuel on the fire that's raging on this thread, with an article that's been published today but could have been written at any point in the last decade.

South East London - the Undiscovered Gem. Greater Brockley is all over it like a rash. They say:

“A lot of buyers have pre-conceived ideas about south-east London, but there are more and more converts, including cross-river movers,” says Huw Davies of estate agent Caddington Blue. “When they discover up-and-coming areas like Brockley and Nunhead, they’re taken aback by the value for money they can get — and how nice these areas can be. Similar homes north of the river can cost twice as much.”

So buyers are realising they can get a property twice as big for half the price and still get to work quickly.

One hot address is Telegraph Hill,  just south of New Cross, which has six-minute trains to London Bridge. Large Victorian semis priced up to  £1.5 million are attracting City people, doctors and lawyers from other parts of London. These houses sit in wide roads and have at least 2,000 sq ft of space plus a 100-ft long garden...

Other areas on the rise include Ladywell, which has acquired “village” status following streetscaping improvements and the opening of a deli and other independent shops, and Brockley, where bars and eateries, organic food cafés, delis and a micro brewery are clustered around the train station. Under way here, too, is a scheme of new apartments.

The main conservation area is a network of wide, tree-lined avenues surrounding Hilly Fields, a green expanse where parents cluster with daughters attending Prendergast secondary school, situated alongside the park. Many of the vast Victorian houses have been split into flats, but increasingly they are reverting to single residences, along with more modest flat-fronted, semi-basement terrace homes.

Thanks to Sheila for the spot.

Retail graveyard: More towers to replace Lewisham big boxes

South East London blog From The Murky Depths reckons that Loampit Vale's last retail sheds could soon be gone, to be replaced by more tall buildings. They write:

A scoping report is looking at a 25 storey tower on the Carpet Right site with 260 flats. Early plans, which are in no way final, see a public space on the street corner called ‘station square’, with a new western station entrance.

At the larger site over the road at Lewisham Retail Park, the applicant is looking at buildings which max out at 26 storeys and have a total of 525 flats.

4000 square metres of commercial space would be present. It would be surrounded by towers.

These plans are welcome. Having single-level warehouse style retail sheds directly beside a major station in zone 2 is a nonsense. London needs far higher density housing by transport interchanges, particularly in inner London.

Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt

The Guardian, a newspaper read almost exclusively by urban gentrifiers and written almost exclusively by Hackney newbies, is obsessed with gentrification - write what you know!

Their latest feature on the topic is about urban change across a number of international cities, including London. Brockley is the neighbourhood in the spotlight and an anonymous contributor tells their story:

My parents are Nigerian immigrants that moved to London in the late 1970s. As our family grew (they had five children), we moved around south east London quite a bit: Deptford, Catford, Sydenham. We eventually settled in Brockley, buying a very cheap but large council owned town house. At the time, Brockley was very run down, and regularly featured on Crimewatch.

In the mid-late noughties things started to change; the Afro-Caribbean shops started to disappear and were replaced by fancy delis and Gastro pubs. Brockley suddenly had a lot to offer for yuppies: lush green spaces, fantastic transport links and large properties. The transformation of the East London line into the Overground didn’t help either.

What is really depressing is that I have been outpriced out of my own home. My parents still live in Brockley but they downsized in 2007, selling our family home for more than four times the price that they bought it for in 1992. That is negative gentrification.

I used to run through Hilly Fields, a large park in Brockley. I have memories of the park being quiet and a bit unkept, an unused children’s play gym, and the odd teenager kicking a ball around. Over time, more people and events started to appear in the park. Then on Saturday mornings a small farmer’s market appeared. Then the children’s play gym got revamped and when I took my niece there last summer it was heaving with children and their parents enjoying the open space and good weather. That is certainly one positive about gentrification – seeing more people out in the open, being more active. I guess people feel the area is safer than it was when we first moved there. But it does come at a price to people like me who currently cannot afford to buy property there. (Anonymous, Brockley resident for 15 years).

This is an interesting perspective, but there are a few things to take issue with:

Firstly, it suggests that Afro-Caribbean shops have directly been displaced by the "fancy delis" and "gastro pubs". I'm not sure there are any gastropubs in Brockley, but those pubs that have been tarted up are simply modernised versions of what were there before. Of the pubs that have traditionally served Afro-Caribbean clientele, the Maypole was bulldozed years before the gentrification process set in and Albertines burned down in a cannabis factory fire and awaits an uncertain fate. The Flower of Kent continues to thrive and the Brockley Barge has an incredibly diverse clientèle. I can't think of a single new shop or cafe that has opened at the expense of an Afro-Caribbean business - they've all occupied deserted units.

Secondly, it implies that the middle classes have only recently discovered the area - but they've always been here. What we've seen recently is an influx of young professionals renting flats, rather than older families, buying houses. It's changed the pattern of demand for local amenities and certainly makes the trains and parks fuller, but it hasn't fundamentally changed the character of the area, as I remarked upon here.

Thirdly, the author writes:

What is really depressing is that I have been outpriced out of my own home. My parents still live in Brockley but they downsized in 2007, selling our family home for more than four times the price that they bought it for in 1992. That is negative gentrification.

That's a curious assessment of their family's own good fortune. Here's a first generation immigrant family able to improve their financial security by capitalising on rising house prices, probably by selling their family home to one of the aforementioned 'yuppies'. The parents could have opted to keep the larger family home, but understandably cashed in. Just like my parents did.

You can blame society or you can blame your parents, but the effect is the same and while it's personally galling not to be able to afford to live in the postcode you grew up in (neither could I when I moved to Brockley), it's not clear that this is a negative from a societal perspective. One could argue that in this case gentrification has had a significant positive wealth redistribution effect.

The case against gentrification remains unproven. Dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.

Thanks to Paul for the tip-off.

Lewisham trains delayed by sunlight

And just because it's always fun to laugh at Southeastern trains, here is a Guardian report that the service through Lewisham was suspended due to the wrong kind of sunlight. The train operator was caught on the hop by a celestial phenomenon which has occurred at the same time every year for millions of years.

Rail passengers have expressed their anger after being told trains were delayed due to “strong sunlight”.

Services at Lewisham, south-east London, were disrupted on Monday because of the angle of the sun, the train operator Southeastern said.

The rail firm tweeted: “We had severe congestion through Lewisham due to dispatching issues as a result of strong sunlight.”

Lewisham doctors on the picket line

The Guardian has interviewed junior doctors from the Lewisham Hospital picket line about their reasons for participating in industrial action:

New family home proposed for Cranfield Road

A proposal has been submitted for the demolition of a set of garages on Cranfield Road and the construction of a four storey house at the rear of 60 Breakspears Road. 
The development site
The modernist design is inspired by Slip House in Brixton
An elevation of the proposed design
View the planning application here.

TfL: Brockley link improvements not linked to Bakerloo Line extension

Brockley's development "interchange hub" could relate to the creation of a new orbital link
When news broke that TfL would be proceeding with plans for a Bakerloo Line extension to New Cross and Lewisham by 2030, I reported the accompanying news that Brockley Station was being considered as some sort of transport "hub" as a bit of an afterthought.

BCer Monkeyboy is not so easily distracted by shiny brown baubles and has been doing a bit of digging about what an "interchange hub" could actually be. He's elicited this snippet from TfL, who have confirmed that while the plans are in their infancy, it would be implemented independently of the Bakerloo project. They say:

The potential interchange at Brockley is currently an unfunded and uncommitted scheme and no detailed plans exist at present. However, we have identified the potential new interchange hub as an option for improving rail connectivity in south east London and as a complimentary scheme to a potential Bakerloo line extension to Lewisham. We do not consider the option to be dependent on the proposed Bakerloo line extension so yes it is possible that the hub could be implemented independently.

Along with the other potential long term wider region rail improvements  included in the Summary Report, we are working with stakeholders and partners, including Network Rail,  to undertake further assessment of their benefits and feasibility.

Given that Brockley's links to London Bridge and on the East London Line will reach their current limits when a couple more ELL trains are squeezed on to our line in 2018, it's likely that TfL's ideas relate to the reopening of the upper line platform as part of a new orbital link, connecting Brockley with Lewisham and Peckham and beyond.

The cat from the flat comes back

The defining face of Brockley 2015 has made headlines again, with another appearance on Sainsbury's shelves.

Nan stays on at The Golden Anchor

Mobile boozing sensation, Little Nan's Bar, is happy in Nunhead for a little while longer. The bar-hoptogenarian writes:

We have extended our time below the Golden Anchor pub in Nunhead till the end of February and are offering guests 2 hours of Bottomless Teapots of Cocktails, Unlimited Pic n Mix and Popcorn for £29 during the winter months!

Guests can still book in for the evening and not have the bottomless cocktails, but we trialled this over the summer and it was very popular, especially for Birthdays & fun Hen Parties!

Click here to book. You can also vote for Little Nan in the Dot London Awards, which recognise the best local businesses in a range of categories, including Best Place to Drink. Support them here.

Nan is the only local champion shortlisted this year, which is either a damning indictment of the area, or a sign that we're keeping our gunpowder dry until the Dot Brockley awards launch.

Curzon Cinema to open in New Cross

New Cross is getting a shiny new cinema. A proper one. Not a sea container with a projector or a cafe with a big screen TV. An honest to goodness cinema. Goldsmiths announces:

A pioneering partnership between Goldsmiths, University of London and Curzon Cinemas is to bring full-time cinema to Lewisham after a gap of 15 years. 

Curzon Goldsmiths will show films to the public on weekday evenings and all day at weekends. The cinema on the university’s New Cross campus is due to open at the end of January 2016. 
Programming at the 101-seat venue which includes space for two wheelchair users will follow Curzon’s mix of the best in cinema from across the globe as well as documentary and special director Q&As. 

It is the first such partnership between a university and cinema company and gives Goldsmiths one of the country’s best campus cinemas in the country. Curzon Goldsmiths is part of the Curzon Connect initiative that includes screens at Arthouse Crouch End, Curzon Mondrian London and Pinewood Cinema. 

The move also means Lewisham now has a full-time cinema and is no longer the only London borough without such a facility. Lewisham lost its last full-time cinema when the Cannon in Catford closed in 2001. 

Patrick Loughrey, Warden of Goldsmiths, University of London said: “Cinema has always been a vital part of Goldsmiths. From Oscar-winners to the use of film in research and teaching across the university, we have a rich screen heritage. 

“Film has always brought people together, and this partnership with Curzon will helps us share our love of cinema with the local community, London and the wider world.”

Mel Alcock, COO of Curzon has said: “We are delighted to be working together with Goldsmiths to bring diverse, high-quality independent film programming to the local community. 

“Through the Curzon Connect programme, we pride ourselves in working with likeminded organisations and look forward to seeing this new screen work in tandem with upcoming educational strands and courses presented at the campus.”

Ticket prices at Curzon Goldsmiths range from £6 to £12 with all students paying £7. 

The revamped cinema includes a Sony 4k projector and 7.1 sound. The facilities also include a hearing support system which delivers descriptive narration for the visually impaired and amplified sound for the hearing impaired. 

The exciting development builds on Goldsmiths’ film and cinema heritage. Our alumni include Oscar-winners Steve McQueen and Colin Welland, Sam Taylor-Johnson and the Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock is also said to have attended Goldsmiths, studying on a series of art courses during the first half of the 20th century.

The next generation of film-makers is also being shaped at the world-leading Screen School, based in the Department of Media and Communications.

More details of the cinema including the public opening date are due to follow shortly. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults £12, Seniors £8, All students £7, Child £6

So one week into the year, one of my 2016 predictions has come to pass. Admittedly, I had some inside knowledge thanks to my involvement with Goldsmiths, but it's one thing hearing about these plans, it's another seeing them materialise.

As well as being incredibly exciting in its own right, this announcement is another step in the development of the Goldsmiths campus, which, together with a new gallery, workspaces and projects yet to come, will slowly transform the heart of New Cross for the better.

Out of the Brew - update

Bar / cafe Out of the Brew, which replaces Cafe Crema in New Cross, will be having a soft launch this week and plan to open fully in February. They have confirmed that the gallery area will open on Thursday from 6-9pm and then again on Friday and Saturday 12-6pm.
Opening night
So if you have been waiting to give them a try, now's your chance.

I represent Queens, she was raised out in Brooklyn

Online store Made in Brockley has been spreading the good word in Brooklyn, only to find someone got there first. On their Facebook page, they've posted this epic bit of expansionism:

2016 - Here's how it's going down

These are my predictions for 2016. I am of course, just plucking them out of my arse, but that technique proved reasonably prophetic in 2015.

The Wickham does a Talbot

I've predicted a radical makeover for The Wickham Arms pub on Upper Brockley Road in the past - because commercial reality insists that it must. In 2016, with so many other local pubs getting overhauled, it will finally run out of excuses and get the investment it needs to thrive. The Talbot has proven that a small pub, a little off the beaten track, can be successful in Brockley and a similar format, married to the Wickham's musical heritage, would work here.

Greater Brockley gets a cinema

Lewisham's lack of a commercial cinema is the go-to complaint for any critic of the borough. This year, that market failure will be consigned to history - with at least one, possibly two cinema schemes unveiled at locations within walking distance of most BCers.

Beauty for Brockley Road

Brockley has accumulated a wealth of hair dressers and nail bars. The next logical step is to add a beauty therapy venue, either in Crofton Park or the development around Brockley Station.

Something big for Brockley Cross

London is suffering from a shortage of affordable shared workspace. Something big is due to happen at Brockley Cross, one of the few development opportunities for commercial space in the area. Dragonfly Place has bedded in and proven that Brockley is a popular place to locate a micro business. This year, a large development scheme will be announced.

Ladywell's undercroft 

The troll hole beneath Ladywell will get an occupier in 2016. A cafe / bar aimed at Ladywell's growing population of young people and students would make sense here - especially with relatively few direct competitors nearby.

The Top 10 Stories of 2015

Courtesy of Google Analytics, here's the list of the top 10 most viewed stories of 2015. This year's list is dominated by food and tragedy - two things Brockley had rather a lot of last year:
  1. Lewisham's Riverdale Hall to be turned into London Union restaurant complex
  2. St Norbert's Road knife fight leads to fatal car crash
  3. Man dies in Brockley Station incident
  4. Halloween biker gang sweeps through Brockley and Telegraph Hill
  5. Catford Bridge Tavern burns down
  6. Bella Napoli opens
  7. Pitbull kills dog on Hilly Fields
  8. Telegraph reports Momentum plot against Lewisham MPs
  9. Blue Tit reveals plan to open in Brockley
  10. New westside restaurant plan revealed as Noak Bakehouse & Brew
As ever, the list excludes the ever-present, ever-popular pages, including Recommended Tradespeople, Classifieds and Flatshare.

Did 2015 do as it was told?

Tomorrow, I will make my predictions for Brockley's year ahead. But before I do, here's how my predictions for 2015 performed.

My first prediction was that there would be more good news for Brockley Cross:

"We think The Brockley Deli will deliver a fillip to the Cross. There is a vacant unit ready to occupy and another that is currently being refurbished."

Thanks to this year's Newcomer of the Year, Masala Wala, that's one solid point.

My second prediction was that "at least one of the area's existing restaurateurs is ready to give up the ghost and free up a restaurant unit for someone with a clue. Two new restaurants in 2015."

No restaurants closed although many of the old guard improved their offer, but there was a wealth of new restaurants - Noak, Longhorn, Paranhodu and of course Masala Wala. Another solid point.

My third prediction was that "2015 will be the year that Brockley gets a gym. That requires something substantial to get built or refurbished... This is our outside bet for 2015."

Unfortunately, we can't start our new year's resolutions in a Brockley gym, but in November, Mourad popped up to reveal that he is planning to open a gym in midtown. Given that this was a punt, and that another new gym is opening down the hill in Thurston Central, I think that's worth at least half a point.

My fourth prediction was that: "Something other than the usual bar / cafe / shop / restaurant / salon will be opened in Brockley. Something strange and wonderful." Not sure how to score myself on this one. In Deptford, we got a jerk restaurant and gallery under an archway - that's the sort of miscellany I imagined for Brockley, but despite all the cool stuff that cropped up, none of it was exotic. But for the yoga studio that opened in June and the furniture upcycler that opened in Spring, I'll give myself half a point.

My final prediction of 2015 was that construction work on a major development on Mantle Road would begin. It didn't - although there has been plenty of development work elsewhere. This one is just a matter of time, but that doesn't earn me a point.

So three points out of a possible five and all five predictions were thematically on the right track, even if they didn't materialise quite the way I imagined. 2016 predictions on the way...

Masala Wala Cafe - Best Newcomer 2015

Congratulations to Masala Wala Cafe, winner of the Brockley Central Newcomer of the Year Award in the most competitive field since the award's inception in 2009.

With 15 new high street businesses in this year's competition, the Pakistani restaurant collected 31% of the vote, putting it in first place, ahead of Ladywell butcher Heckstall & Smith and Crofton Park deli Jones of Brockley, each earning 19% of the vote.

Masala Wala is a worthy winner - charming, cool and delicious. They have made a virtue of limited space, to create an intimate environment, which always feels festive.

The victory is the second consecutive victory for Brockley Cross businesses, after The Brockley Deli collected the award in 2014 - a feat that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.

Masala Wala's Saima writes:

Thanks to all for voting for us, really means everything and keeps us pushing to provide a service in the area. 11 months ago we were handed the keys to a disused dry cleaners on Brockley Cross, about to embark on our first family business and here we are! 

The pantheon of legends now includes:

Best Newcomer 2015 - Masala Wala Cafe
Best Newcomer 2014 - The Brockley Deli
Best Newcomer 2013 - The Malaysian Deli
Best Newcomer 2012 - Gently Elephant
Best Newcomer 2011 - Brockley Market
Best Newcomer 2010 - El's Kitchen
Best Newcomer 2009 - The Orchard

Brockley Central Label Cloud