2007 in review

2007: It was the year when Charley Uchea struck a blow for women’s rights, Steve McLaren put the pride back in to English football with victories over Andorra and Estonia and, on Hell's Kitchen, a young Jim Davidson taught us how to laugh.

But we will remember it best as the year of Brockley’s ascendancy...


Brockley Central didn’t exist in January, so we'll have to gloss over this bit.


We kicked off Brockley Central by writing about the Common project, the East London Line and Homeview. The world would never be the same again.


Thanks to people like Sue Luxton and Andrew Brown, people actually started reading what we were writing. We would have to be careful from now on!

To prove the point, we made the first of our enemies in March, when we wrote:

“Whereas Plumstead feels deserted after 11pm, Brockley has more of a 24-hour lifestyle. While not everything that goes on in Brockley at 2am is especially savoury, the presence of people makes it feel more secure.”

This was enough to draw the wrath of Plumsteadshire readers. No matter, they would soon be joined by Christians, Max Galo, anti-Lewisham Gateway campaigners, ‘real nappy’ enthusiasts, the Brockley digicam lobby and Catford Ross.

More importantly, March was the month when Brockley began to change. We were tipped-off by Magi that a new cafĂ© was planned for Coulgate Street. The Broca would become the standard bearer for a new wave of Brockley businesses (to join the likes of Toads Mouth, Ecosium and Moonbows) - high quality, engaged with the community, located near the station and, most importantly, successful. We also waved goodbye to the brick outhouse that used to form the gateway to Brockley on Coulgate Street. There were encouraging noises coming from The Talbot and Brockley Station’s west side.


In April, Brockley Central properly embraced user-generated content – the month when we stopped having to scrabble around for stories and they started to come to us. Luke gave us the heads up on the Gallery at the Tea Factory, Vikki updated us on The Talbot, John told us about his chats with the new management at the Wickham Arms and someone else panicked us when we thought our house might have burned down. All this was just in time for us to disappear on holiday for two weeks, without anyone noticing.


Give a thousand monkeys a thousand typewriters and they will eventually write a review of Brockley. The Evening Standard finally got round to mentioning South East London in its Homes & Property section, with Brockley meriting “understated gem” status. We’ve been scouring thelondonpaper’s weekly area guide ever since, but the free papers are run on such tight budgets that they have obviously cut back on monkeys and / or typewriters.

Brockley Central also revealed that Tesco would be opening in the area – would Brockley still exist in June?!


The summer season’s traditional trinity of the Brockley MAX, Open Studios and the Summer Fayre were joined by The White Stripes’ gig at the Rivoli. Oh, and Morris Dancers at the Wickham Arms.


If June showed SE4 at its best, July reminded us that there was a wider world outside. The Thameslink project, to improve overland connections between north and south London, was greenlit and new concept designs were released for the Lewisham Gateway project. Meanwhile, the Lock Tavern bought the Amersham Arms in New Cross, in a bid to breathe new life in to the area’s music scene, which had become best-known for the tribute acts playing the Venue, ad nauseum.


August brought proof that the “tipping point” that many, including us, believed that Brockley had reached, wasn’t simply a figment of our house price-fuelled imaginations. We received confirmation that Brockley would get its first proper deli. When we excitedly bashed out the news on Brockley Central, we couldn’t have dreamed that Dandelion Blue would eventually turn out to be the second of three fine-food shops to open in Brockley in 2007.


The plans for Brockley Station finally caught up with the developments starting to cluster around it: Funding was agreed for the Brockley Common project and the Mantle Road redevelopment secured improved (though still inadequate) access for the west side.

Meanwhile, Tesco opened on Lewisham Way, without causing the destruction of the fragile local commercial ecosystem. Despite local traders’ protests that they were all doomed, the same old shops are still there and the skip next to Meze Mangal gives the impression that it’s quite happy to stay put until it gradually becomes one with the landscape, like Gog and Magog.


Brockley Central got a brand new look, just in time to inadvertently cause some controversy, when we asked for reasons for the neutral to visit the west side of Brockley. Many felt that it was a needlessly divisive question, but events in November were to prove that local divisions were far deeper (and sillier) than we’d imagined…


November was a tale of two Brockleys. The ward divided in to two tribes; the Crips (digicams) and the Bloods (trees) to argue over how £10,000 of public money should be spent locally. In the best traditions of Karl Rove, the digicam lobby brought out its base, alleging a ‘south Brockley’ conspiracy of childless, godless types who just wanted to spend money on trees. Fortunately, both sides got some money and we peace was restored. But for how long?

In a happier moment for local politics, some sort of closure was achieved in the long-running Homeview affair, when Lewisham’s Councillors thwarted the owners’ plans to turn it in to a betting shop. But for how long?

At the same time Brockley Central became a multi-channel media brand, when we wrote our first column for SE4U magazine, switching from stealing stories to generating them. But for how long?


Brockley’s year ended on a note of uncertainty, with a number of important questions hanging in the balance, including:

Will this year’s MAX be the last?
Will the Rivoli’s listed status provide proper protection?
Will the temporary closure of the East London Line put undue strain on commuter services to Brockley, New Cross and St Johns?
Will Phase 2 of Brockley Common be a success?
Will The Talbot, finally, definitely be renovated?
Will Moonbow Jakes keep its soul under new ownership?
Will the new gallery at The Tea Factory deliver on its potential?
Will the Christmas Market be a one-off?
Will Homeview’s fate become any clearer?
Will the new shops on the west side fill up?
Will the Brockley Jack’s revamp be a good or a bad thing?
Will Brockley Central be sued for false representation by all the people who’ve written to us in the last 11 months, to say they’ve decided to move in to the area as a result of learning about Brockley through the website?

Still, at least we can be confident that we’ll all have plenty to talk about next year. Coming up, our predictions for 2008…

Happy Christmas from Brockley Central

If we were working to the same yuletide calendar as the boy who's knocked, optimistically, on our door to sing carols several times already this year, we'd have posted this message in the last week of November and then at least once a week since.

As it is, we had a lovely Christmassy day yesterday, pottering around Brockley, making our final preparations. Even though getting the car MOT-ed, doing dry cleaning and buying six eggs from Costcutter are not, on the face of it, particularly festive, the sum of the experiences reminded us that It's a Wonderful Life in Brockley.

So from Brockley Jon and Brockley Nick, we'd like to wish you all a merry Christmas - we will be back just afterwards with our Brockley Central Review of the Year and our resolutions for 2008...

The Talbot: Breaking News

The Honor Oak pub's James Heaton has posted a comment on Brockley Central to update us on the veritable soap-opera that is the story of The Talbot pub, on Tyrwhitt Road. Brockley Nick is on the case as ever, hoping to bring you an exclusive interview, but until then, here's what James has told us:

Dear all,

I am posting to advise you that the arrangement detailed regarding The Talbot's redevelopment, has, as rumoured, in fact fallen through.

I am one of the owners of The Honor Oak on Brockley Rise, and we were first approached by Punch Taverns to take on The Talbot around six months ago.

Despite having had numerous meetings with Punch about the site, when The Talbot was advertised on the open market the owners of The Palmerston then put in a proposal which effectively outbid ours in terms of the returns to the landlords and we therefore lost it at the last hurdle, so to speak.

However my understanding is that this deal was then deemed unworkable to the owners of The Palmerston and they therefore pulled out at the last minute.

Punch then returned to us and asked if we were still interested in proceding with our original proposal. We were, and I am pleased to say that we yesterday signed the initial agreements relating to our lease and the investment / refurbishment works.

I will post more details of our plans for the site after Christmas, but in the meantime if any of you have any pressing queries please feel free to contact me via email to james@thehonoroak.com.

We are very excited about The Talbot and always have been. We very much hope that the re-invented pub will meet with your approval, and look forward to receiving your input into its future.

With best wishes,

James Heaton

Follow the money

A few days ago, we reported on the meeting to allocated Brockley's £10,000 locality fund, but we were a little hazy on the details of how the cash got divided. With thanks to Cllr Walton, here are the full details:

(1) Christmas lighting - Brockley Cross Action Group £250

(2) Benches outside Pitman House - Picnic benches where young people can socialise £1000

(3) Digicams project - Camera phones for young people to report graffiti etc to Love Lewisham, with monthly prize and end-of-year exhibition £1000

(4) Contribution to Brockley Fun Run - £1000

(5) Planting flower beds at Veronica House – project through Brockley Cross Action Group - £1000

(6) St Johns After School Club – contribution to storage facilities £1,000

(7) Contribution to Brockley weekend arts festival - Brockley Max (towards funding of children’s activities) £500

(8) Security light to illuminate the area adjacent to 1 Upper Brockley Road and thereby discourage antisocial activities £150

(9) Street trees at various locations around the ward £4,100

Which by our calculations, adds up to £10,000.

Now it's just a question of actually spending it properly...

Brockley Bites - housekeeping

Brockley Central - latest upgrade

The site's latest iteration is now live, with a dedicated place for reviews (all one and a half of them) and a permanent home for the map.

Internet cafes in Brockley?

We recently received an email from someone in the US, planning on visiting SE4 for a while. She needed somewhere she could work during the day, locally, which offered internet access. Aside from Cafe Neu, which is another place which rarely gets a mention on these pages, are there any other options? And can anyone used the service in Cafe Neu?

Hillaballoo 2
Hillaballoo, the Telegraph Hill summer festival, has been given the go-ahead for 2008. Hopefully, they can build on the good ideas they had last time around, to create an event which will draw the wider audience it needs to have a long-term future.

The Shop on the Hill opens
The Shop on the Hill (next door to Ecosium on Harefield Road) opened on Saturday. We've not-yet had a chance to check it out, but if you have, please let us know what you thought.

TfL plans to swap Victoria service for Phase 2 of East London Line

Yesterday, Transport for London released this media briefing:

TfL examines Thameslink East London Line 2 plan

Phase two of the East London Line extension could be built and financed as part of the Thameslink Programme, according to minutes from a recent Transport for London board meeting.

Senior figures from the Department of Transport and TfL are discussing the possibility of funding ELL phase two as enabling works for the Thameslink scheme in order to mitigate against service difficulties posed by the remodelling of London Bridge station. The situation has arisen following the disclosure by Network Rail that capacity for the current half-hourly stopping service between London Bridge and London Victoria will no longer be available once London Bridge station has been remodelled to provide additional through platforms for Thameslink services. Network Rail has proposed that the current trains could be replaced by a half-hourly Victoria to Bellingham service but this would mean stations between Wandsworth Road and Peckham Rye would lose their rail connection to the City while Queen's Road Peckham and South Bermondsey stations would see a reduction of two trains an hour, directly conflicting with the Mayor of London's aspiration to increase metro service frequencies.

However, TfL argues that bringing forward ELL phase two would provide a better solution. This would see the current London Bridge to Victoria service replaced by four trains an hour running from Clapham Junction and the core ELL route with its connection to the City and Docklands, via stations between Wandsworth Town and Queen's Road Peckham. It also provides an opportunity for TfL to secure the cash it needs for the currently unfunded ELL phase two project. Construction powers have already been secured under the ELL phase one scheme, which is scheduled for completion in June 2010. London Bridge station is due to be rebuilt with additional through platforms by 2015.

So, a direct swap - Victoria service for East London Line 2, which will run from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction, serving the likes of Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill, but not Victoria itself.

Our understanding of this issue is that the extension would cost only £75 million, which is a relative pittance in rail infrastructure terms and it would form the final part of the London Overground loop around London, so it's almost certain to go ahead, one way or another.

2015 is a long way away, but how do you feel about this? If anyone from Forest Hill is reading this - what's your reaction?

The Rivoli Ballroom timeline

November 1st, 2007

Brockley Central reports that the Rivoli Ballroom is up for sale at £10m

November 11th, 2007

Transpontine reports that the Rivoli ad has mysteriously disappeared.

November 12th, 2007

Brockley Central rings the estate agents and asks what's happened to the ad. We are told that the ad was withdrawn from the site at the request of the Rivoli's owners, but that it is still on the market, just "in a more low-key way."

November 13th, 2007 (ish)

Brockley Central rings the owners of the Rivoli, to seek clarification.

Rivoli: "Oh, you wrote that. It should never have been leaked!"

BC: "It wasn't leaked, it was advertised."

Rivoli: "Yes, but the ad should never have been published it's not really up for sale, we're still considering our options."

BC: "OK, so do you want us to publish a clarification?"

Rivoli: "No, it's OK thanks."

December 7th, 2007

The Independent: "Is it the last dance for London's Rivoli Ballroom?"

Bill Mannix told local newspaper, The Mercury, "We love this place and Jeanie is so passionate about it. For us it is all about glamour, sophistication, etiquette and beautiful dancing. But ballroom dancing is dying out. The Rivoli was really well used but times and cultures have changed and now we have to import an audience to fill the place."

Mr Mannix added: "It is really my health that is moving me on. The long hours become antisocial. You are working and worrying while people are having fun all around you. I am always running out of money for repairs and always praying for a good function. We have to do maintenance all the time. We have two offers of £10m for the place. I'm sad about the whole situation. Jeannie will shed a tear when we leave and we will both miss all the stars.

What should the map be for?

Behind the scenes, Brockley Central's Jon and Nick have been discussing what the interactive map should be for. Should it be a Yellow Pages of Brockley, documenting every place of interest in the area, or should it only feature places that meet our impeccable standards? If we're selective, what should the criteria be and should it be based on our recommendations or yours?

What do you think?

Diplomacy brings peace to SE4

We think it is now safe to let you know who won the battle of the Brockley millions.

After the great trees v digicams debate of November, we are happy to report that skilful diplomacy by Brockley's councillors found a way through that impasse. Everyone must have prizes. There will be trees and mobile phones for all!

At the meeting itself, the attendees were predominantly - blissfully - ignorant of the furore that had preceded it. A slightly defensive presentation about the digicams idea by Jackie Millar and a nervous smile from Cllr Walton, who stressed to the room a number of times that the poll had been an interesting experiment, were the only clues.

Approximately 30 people attended the meeting (significantly more than the previous year, we are told) and it was a great opportunity to hear about some of the other projects, which had got lost among the blood and thunder of the online debate. The fun run sounds as though it will become a really exciting part of the Brockley calendar and some of the projects for local estates will make a big difference for a relatively small investment.

It has to be said, despite our enduring reservations about the 'digicams' programme, that Jackie Millar's passion and direct experience convinced those in attendance of the project's merits and there was an overwhelming vote in favour of supporting the project, together with money to buy trees for the streets most in need of some love and attention.

The back-of-an-envelope calculation done on the night, suggested that as many as 60 trees could be planted, using the money allocated, although a number of people with experience in this area, warned that the logistics of siting that many trees would not be straightforward. It was also agreed that, where planters were used, they should not be so ugly that they would negate the beauty of the trees themselves - exhibit a) the horrible railings surrounding the base of Brockley's communal Christmas Tree. One guy in the room suggested Brockley should set itself the long-term goal of becoming Lewisham's 'Garden Ward', which we thought was a lovely idea.

We've asked Cllr Walton for a precise breakdown of how the money has been allocated, which we will publish on the site.

Brockley's Wings of Desire

A necessarily anonymous friend writes...

For the past few months, a guardian angel has been watching over our streets, making Brockley a safer, better place for us all. We can't tell you what he's been up to, but be reassured that he has been there for us all, in our darkest hours.

Like Wim Wenders' angels, he eventually grew tired of always observing, never experiencing and decided to sample the best that Brockley and New Cross had to offer. Here are his idiosyncratic highlights from his tireless plodding of Lewisham's mean streets:

Hi Nick

I've been doing a lot of work in the area recently and it really surprised me - I'd never thought much of New Cross before, but there are some great streets and some nice local businesses. I was stunned by the houses in Brockley too. Anyway, here are some places your readers might like to know about.

New Cross

  • 257 New Cross Road - its a little shop just on the left before the enty to Sainsbury's, next door to thesecond hand furniture store. It's a Lithianian shop selling all thing Russian, some really unusual alcohol and food, great for christmas presents with a difference, its also a barbers!
  • 175 New Cross Road a hairdresser and gift shop owned by an Italian woman called Laura
  • 193 New Cross Road - "Curl up and Dry" ladies hairdressers - has been in business for 25 years!
  • 316 New Cross Road - The Goldsmiths Tavern, new chef just started!
  • 306 New Cross Road - Cafe Crema organic type cafe, live entertainment, bohemian feel.
  • 272 New Cross Road - The Hobgoblin, friendly Aussie manager and discounts for students.
  • 258 New Cross Road - La Boulangeries nice ambience ,run by Jemal French Algerian lightsnacks. Opposite New Cross Gate Station.
  • 301 New Cross Road - S & A Video Mr Hoquethe owner says that they cater for customers that wantsomething different.

  • 259 Malpas Road - Tony's Plaice, nice fish and chips
  • 257 Malpas Road - Paul's Hairdresser, been in business 45 yrs, has photos of Paul Merson, KevinCampbell and Ian Wright he has cut them all.
  • 181 Brockley Road - City Noodle, run by Sally, nice Vietnamese Food
  • Tanners Hill - The Royal George, good old fashioned boozer
  • 5 Harefield Road - Chez Ecosium, French/Algerian, manager has a good knowledge of football, on leaving overheard two customers say "that was delicious"
  • 317 Brockley Road - The Gourmet Inn, Chinese takeaway owner Mr Choy. In the shop on the right wall is a photo of Mr Choy receiving an award from Lord Lichfield in1994.
  • 8/9 Coulgate Street - NU Spice, nice lady running it, nice looking food.
  • 258 Brockley Road - Brockley Kitchen, shop is dominated by a huge white fridge does a nice line in take away vegetarian food.

That's all for now, I enjoy reading the blog and if I ever won the lottery I'd re-open all the empty shops in Upper Brockley road.

Thanks to our mysterious protector for highlighting so many places which this site has relatively little coverage to. Jon - some more for the map?

The Shop on The Hill - coming soon...

At the recent Christmas Market, there seemed to be two main topics of conversation - the state of Widow Twanky and The Shop on the Hill; the leaflets for which appeared everywhere that afternoon.

Like "Cloverfield" The Shop on the Hill gave little away in its initial marketing push, choosing instead to tease us with an opaque name (it's not even really on a hill - more a slight incline). Just as Jaws was made all the more scary by the fact we saw so little of the shark for the first half, so The Shop on the Hill was all the more exciting due to the fact that we couldn't work out exactly what it was. We were determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, we were just hoping that it wouldn't turn out to be a rubbery monster with bendy teeth.

The good news is, it sounds more "Fresh and Wild" than Amity Island.

We spoke to the new shop's manager, Nicola, today and this is what she told us:

"The Shop on the Hill will be a wholefoods shop, which also sells health and wellness products for adults and babies as well as a limited range of fresh produce.

"Located next to Chez Ecosium on Harefield Road, The Shop on the Hill will be open between 10am and 8pm on weekdays and 9am and 6pm at weekends.

"My aim is to create a parent-friendly shop that complements other local businesses in the area and offer something new [Nicola told us that a lot of people have asked her if it's going to be 'yet another deli', which in itself is an extraordinary indicator of just how far Brockley's come in a short time]. As much as possible, the products I sell will be locally sourced, organic and fair-trade, with a strong emphasis on ecologically-friendly options.

"I've lived in Brockley for 12 years and I've always wanted to do something like this locally. A couple of years ago, my life changed completely, when I took care of a young child. My experience bringing them up, meeting parents in the local area and having to travel to places like Stoke Newington to find the things I wanted, convinced me that there is a need locally for something like this.

"I've worked for a number of local businesses in my time including Homeview [RIP] and Toads Mouth and I have a lot of friends in the area - the Brockley Mummy network - who've been really supportive.

"Like a lot of people, I've noticed the way that Brockley's changing. There's no doubt that there are more young families in the area than there were a few years ago. I think a lot of people who moved in to the area as students and young professionals have fallen in love with the place, stayed on and many have now started young families. I've even started bumping in to people I used to know, who've moved back to Brockley to start families.

"Even though it will offer a specialist range of products, I hope it will be affordable and versatile enough to become an 'everyday' shop too."

Brockley Central can vouch (based on the time it's taken to find time for an interview) for the fact that Nicola's been working very hard getting ready for the big opening, which she hopes will be this weekend. We look forward to reporting on the finished product, in a few days' time.

Putting Brockley on the map

Come one, come all, to see our latest creation, the Brockley Central Guide to Brockley! We hope this map will help existing residents discover new places that we love, and help newcomers see just what Brockley and the wider area has to offer, when you look a bit deeper!

We've tried to pick the cream of the crop - there was no way every cafe and takeaway of Brockley was going to feature here. We expect what is (and more likely what isn't) featured here to generate some debate from you lot, so this is an ongoing project that we'll be adding to as Brockley blooms!

Use the buttons to move around the map and zoom in or out. Click the drawing pins to see more information and links where appropriate. Click here to view the Brockley map in full (opens in new window).

Brockley Bites - Bumper Xmas Edition

Raise the roof at Rivoli

Muireann emailed us today to tell us about an event she'll be part of next week:
I have an event that may (or may not!) be of interest to other Brockley people. I'm in the Raise the Roof Singers - we rehearse and perform at the Horniman in Forest Hill but next Tuesday we're venturing into Brockley territory at the Rivoli Ballroom:

Singing and Salsa Celebration, Tuesday 11th December.
The Rivoli Ballroom. 350 Brockley Road, London SE4.

Come and hear us sing come and see us dance. Then hit the dance floor and party!!
Doors open at 8pm. Tickets on the door £10 concessions £8
It'll be a short set from us, and a demonstration from the Horniman's salsa evening class and then salsa 'til late. We are also doing a couple of free concerts (Sunday 9th at the Horniman, Saturday 15th at St Augustine's, One Tree Hill, both at 2.30).

Brockley recognised by culinary establishment

Darren emailed us to let us know that two of Brockley's finest have made it in to "the UK's most authoritative restaurant guide":

"Last week I received my new copy of the 2008 Hardens London and UK restaurants Guide. I was pleased to see that both Le Querce and the Babur are included. The Le Querce review states that it is "the best Italian food you will find for the money", giving it 1 out of 5 for food, 2 for service and a 4 for ambiance. Babur has been in for the last couple of years and scores 1 for food, 1 for service, and 2 for ambiance. In the London wide overall survey of meals of £34 or less, it comes second. "

The scores sound pretty stingy, but then we used to think that only having one Michelin star was rubbish. And if you're Hugh, it probably is.

Save Catford

Anonymous local man fears Catford turning in to Islington and argues against redevelopment because it won't stop crime on estates and could lead to the closure of some pound shops.
So if you think Catford is great just as it is, click here

Social Housing office opens on Mantle Road

Residents of Brockley's stock of social housing now have a one-stop-shop to access all their housing maintenance and estate services needs since Regenter B3 opened its new offices on Mantle Road, simultaneously kickstarting the take-up of commercial space on the west side of the station.

Regenter was awarded the £165m project to refurbish and manage over 1,200 local authority homes in Brockley by Lewisham Council in June 2007. The project consists of two phases: a refurbishment phase currently being carried out by Higgins Construction Plc with completion due in 2010; and then an operational phase with its delivery partners Pinnacle and Equipe, who will provide neighbourhood and estate services, repairs, maintenance and life cycle replacement throughout the remaining 17 years of the concession period.

Thanks to Kate (who knows a thing or two about this subject) for the tip-off.

New cycle lane for Brockley Rise

According to the News Shopper, Transport for London has pledged "£578,000 for the London Cycle Network. Also more cycle lanes, including in Brockley Rise and Whitburn Road, and better facilities for cyclists."

Thanks to James, who spotted that one and is soon-to-be-resident in the area. Our daily chatter helped to win him round to Brockley's charms and not even the great £10,000 voting scandal of 2007 could put him off. Remarkably, he says he wants to get involved in local community activities, despite the fact that his email address clearly indicates that he works in financial services!

Brockley Jack Theatre fear

We've tried to cover the planned developments to the Brockley Jack but have met with a rather guarded response from the management and Greene King (the parent company). This note, we received today from The Brockley Jack Theatre Co. may go some way to explaining it:

From today we have learnt that the Brockley Jack Pub is to be refurbished in the New Year. In principle, this is something that the theatre is keen to embrace and we have always wanted to work with the brewery – Greene King – on any plans for redevelopment.

However, the current plans for refurbishment mean the following:

  • the theatre will be relocated upstairs – via a stone staircase with NO provision for disabled access. This will affect many members of our audience as well as future participants. We have been informed by the brewery’s representative that they will not address this issue and provide reasonable access.
  • the pub’s toilets are to be relocated in the current theatre space – with the new performance space directly above this. (We have no written reassurance on sound proofing).
  • we have also been advised that any relocation costs of the theatre to the upstairs room will have to be met by the theatre company itself– this is simply not possible! This involves sound proofing, relocation of electrical supplies, refitting the room for theatre use, installation of load bearing rig etc.
With the lack of access for all, and the prohibitive costs of the move, the theatre’s future is incredibly uncertain. We have also been advised that if these issues become a problem for the brewery’s plans for refurbishment of the pub, we can be given notice.

The situation is now urgent as plans are going to Lewisham Council, with a possible planning meeting tomorrow night - so we do need your support now.

Please can you email reasons for objections to the plans to the following three email addresses. Please can you email asap – by Thursday midday latest. Thank you.

In your email please could you mention the following, and in addition include any other comments that you feel applicable about the value of the current theatre space to the community, to the local and London wide theatre scene.


The current application does not mention the change of the site of the theatre, and the access issues this would entail.

Click here if you wish to view the planning application.

Planning meeting:
There is a potential planning meeting tomorrow night. The details are below. Unless we make personal representation and objections, the plans may be approved. We will only know if this is happening by tomorrow – hopefully midday. If anyone can attend, we would be most grateful for your support. At this moment we are not sure what this would meeting would entail - but planning have advised us that if it is relevant to the theatre we should be there.

If the meeting is deferred, the next planning meeting would be January.


Meeting details.
6 December 2007 7:30pm
Committee Rooms 1 and 2, Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford, SE6 4RU Telephone No. 020 8314 9786
If the meeting goes ahead we will all meet there at 7.20pm.
If there is anything else, please come back to us.

best to all
Brockley Jack Theatre.

We don't know the Brockley Jack well enough to comment on the desirability of moving the theatre upstairs, although of course, there are many successful precedents for this. But we do find the issue of disabled access exrtaordinary, particularly given that Greene King is a major PLC that ought to consider access to its properties a priority. Lewisham Council ought to be mindful too that one of the legacies of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics for London was supposed to be greater empahsis on disabled access in the capital. [Full disclosure: we do some work for the Paralympics on a pro-bono basis]. As a Borough that wants to capitalise on the impact of the Games, it needs to treat such issues as a priority.

Given that there is also some doubt about the long-term future of the Rivoli Ballroom, the demise of the Theatre would be a major blow to Brockley's cultural landscape.

Strangers on a train

We had the good fortune to bump in to Brockley Central regular Kate on the train this morning.

We were both surprised that sort of thing didn't happen more often, given what a small world Brockley essentially is. We mentioned to Kate that one local businessman recently told us that they believed that, all the businesses in Brockley were chasing after the same limited pool of customers - no more than 1,000 by his estimate. Brockley Central's not sure that's true anymore and, conversely, we are constantly surprised by how many people in Brockley we expect to know one another, don't.

But the question of how many people there are to support the shops and cafes that are springing up led us to do a bit of soul searching about whether we both "did our bit" for the local scene. Kate confessed she met people in London Bridge for drinks after work. We owned up to the fact that we still haven't been to places like Meze Mangal.

But should we all feel a sense of duty to the local shops and businesses?

We feel about "shopping local" campaigns a bit like we do about buying the Big Issue. Bear with us... The whole idea of the Big Issue is that it gives people an alternative to begging - an opportunity to gain money and self-respect doing a job, when few other opportunities are open to them. But some people buy the Big Issue out of a sense of guilt or duty, without ever actually reading the thing. But if you don't really want the product, then isn't that just another form of begging, with some added environmental waste tacked on for good measure? Similarly, local businesses ought to be able to compete on equal terms with what's on offer in other areas, otherwise "shop local" is as forlorn a campaign as the "Buy British" campaign of the 1960s. If people shop out of duty, rather than preference, then there is no incentive for local places to raise their standards.

Fortunately, we believe there is a long and growing list of places that could hold their heads high in any area. So long as we all know what they are and share our recommendations, then there's no need for any of us to beat ourselves up if we stop off at M&S at London Bridge from time to time...

The Post of Christmas Markets Past and Future

A belated congraulations to the team behind Saturday's Christmas Market.

We don't really have a great deal to "report", other than that we had some mulled wine, a mince pie and our son refused to have his picture taken with a highly photogenic green Father Christmas at the Broca (no grubby, Dan Ackroyd / Billy Bob Thornton-style beard on this one), but gladly accepted a lolly.

The market was a test-case for future events and the sheer number of people who attended on a rain-affected Saturday afternoon speaks volumes for the local appetite for this kind of thing. There were relatively few stalls but they were complemented very nicely by the neighbouring shops, helping to create the atmosphere and critical mass which street markets need to succeed. It won't signal the beginning of regular markets on Coulgate Street - but has hopefully made the argument for future Christmas (and maybe summer) events.

Congratulations too should go to the Community Church, an organisation we have given a bit of a hard time over Healthy Brockley, but which organised a great lantern workship and parade. At one point, the whole of the market was a sea of coloured lights, melting our Grinch-like heart, which was subsequently reduced to a puddle by seeing "the must-see movie this Christmas", Enchanted.