The Night of the Hunter at The Brockley Jack

The new film club at the Brockley Jack Theatre has got off to a great start, with an eclectic, but not too self-conscious choice of films.

Gregor Murbach, who got the club up and running writes:

Our next film, The Night of the Hunter, will be shown on Monday 13 October at 7.30PM (instead of Sunday 5 October, as announced previously). To guarantee your tickets, please call our box office on 020 8699 6685.

Or, people can become members. The membership scheme offers a number of advantages: a free ticket, discounted tickets and a say in the film selection. But you will also support the only regular cinema venue in Lewisham! The membership form can be downloaded directly from our website.

Boris backs roundabouts

Think of all the worst bits of town planning and the chances are that they have a roundabout in the middle.

Brockley Cross and Lewisham town centre are good examples of how to blight an area with the introduction of a traffic roundabout. Elephant & Castle's regeneration was heavily dependent on the removal of its southern roundabout.

Now, only weeks after scrapping plans to replace the roundabout by the Houses of Parliament with a major new square, Mayor Boris has blocked funding for the E&C project. According to Estates Gazette, Kulveer Ranger, Johnson’s director for transport policy, "called for more details of the effect the removal would have on car travel before funding could be committed," throwing the scheme in to turmoil. The money would have been used to replace the roundabout with a T-junction with wide pedestrian crossings.

Estates Gazette quotes an unnamed source as saying:

“The two most fundamental planks of the regeneration are removing the pink shopping centre and replacing the southern roundabout with more sustainable transport modes.”

Both of these decisions signal that the era of reconfiguring London to suit pedestrians rather than cars is over.

The Albany Theatre, Deptford

On Sunday, The Albany Theatre kicked off its new season of Family Sundays.

The Albany is tucked away behind Deptford high street and serves up a mixture of theatre, music, dance and comedy. Family Sundays will feature "Baby Grooves" discos and shows for children.

Arriving early for a performance means you can let your kids run around the back garden, read a story and play with other children while you enjoy the pretty decent bar food on offer, so that by the time you take your seats, they've used up their excess energy.

London: Land of the Rising Sun (Part 1)

It may not seem it to those of us waiting anxiously for the refurbishment of The Talbot or bemoaning the state of Brockley Road, but London's future lies in the East.

Caitlin Moran puts it neatly in today's Times, so we don't have to:

"The events of Man are rendered neither as thunderclaps nor inviolable calendar entries. Instead they are more like a mist from which you can hear the odd voice saying: “Oh wow - the Industrial Revolution! How long has that been going on? I always miss the start of these things.”

In London's case, an eastward march began properly back sometime around 2000, when new commcercial lettings at Canary Wharf spiked. At the time, everyone was too worried about the Dome's shoddy contents and the spiralling cost of the the Jubilee line to notice.

Global financial meldown notwithstanding, Canary Wharf's future is bright. Its role as the centre of London's banking sector was assured earlier this year when JP Morgan gave up on trying to find a home in the City and plumped for Riverside South in Canary Wharf. This move not only triggers the construction of the UK's largest new office development, it has also hastened the arrival of a cluster of other major new projects, from another giant office complex at Heron Quays West to mixed-use schemes such as City Pride and the Great Eastern Enterprise site. Most excitingly, a masterplan for Wood Wharf will produce a proper waterfront development over the next ten years. The Wharf has brought a critical mass of employment and economic vibrancy to East London, forcing millions of Londoners to re-examine their maps. This is slowly bringing with it a cultural trickle down.

The success of Canary Wharf is dragging infrastructure priorities East too. The expansion of the DLR and capacity on the Jubilee Line would not have happened without it. It's also arguable that Crossrail would not have been approved without the need to keep pace with an expanding Canary Wharf.

Peversely, the rise of Canary Wharf also heralds the rebirth of the City. Belatedly, the Corporation of London has realised that it cannot compete with the huge floorplates on offer in Docklands and prized by big banks. Instead, their focus is now on a more winnable battle with the West End, which has poached many of the Private Equity houses and Hedge Funds, attracted by the high quality of the environment on offer in places like Mayfair. Rather than trying to squeeze unsuitably large buildings on to a medieval street pattern, the City of London is trying to create new public spaces, roof gardens and shopping streets. This means that the East London Line will alight near places like a rejuvenated Cheapside, which is being returned to its roots as London's first high street.

None of this is to say that the west won't still dominate London life, but that the balance of London life is slowly and inexorably shifting eastwards, with similarly transformative projects underway at Greenwich Peninsula, the Olympic Park and Stratford City.

So what is the point of all this, other than to say that those in Brockley with long enough attention and life spans will have their patience rewarded with a few more places to visit on the East London Line? We'll come to that in part two.

Brockley Zeitgeist

Recently, our working life has been transformed by a German woman who has joined the company and, with good natured efficiency, sorted out all the annoying financial stuff which we usually try to pretend isn't part of the job.

Like all the best people, it turns out that she lives in Brockley. So before we signed off our invoices, we nagged her in to telling us what she made of the place, as we're always curious about what exotic insights people from other parts of the world will bring when they encounter Brockley.

It turns out they wish there was a free cash machine, but they like the trains. Es lebe der Unterschied!

I've been living in Brockley for over two years now. I’m from Germany originally, but have been living in London for 9 years now so I don’t have many links with Germany any more really apart from family.

I don’t personally know anyone else from Germany in the area but I have noticed there is a German car parked in a road round the corner, so there must be more of them!

I used to rent on the Greenwich/Deptford border, but wanted to buy. As much as I would have loved to buy in Greenwich I couldn’t afford anything there, so Brockley seemed a cheaper option and since it is going to (hopefully) improve transportwise too within the next few years it seemed like a good option.

I’d heard about the place from a friend I used to work with who lives round the corner from me now.

The best things are the transport links as we are close to Nunhead, New Cross Gate and Brockley, so we’ve got trains taking us to Victoria and London Bridge. One of the worst things about the place is that there are no free cash machines. I really hate having to pay £1.50 every time I want to get my own money out - you can tell I work in Accounts. The nearest free cash point from us is Sainsburys in New Cross Gate, very frustrating!

I wish there could be more places to go out, at the moment we tend to go out in Greenwich or New Cross when we go out locally, but there may well be places that we don’t know about.

The other thing that’s annoying is that there is always lots of rubbish lying around in our street. This may not be a Brockley problem in general though. I think it’s more due to the students that live in some of the houses in our street. Unfortunately it lets the whole street down.

Otherwise I really like living there though, Brockley’s got some nice houses and it’s very quiet too. And I can be in central London in 10 mins whilst not having to pay a fortune for my flat. Well, compared to other places!

Little treasures: #3 Brockley parrots

There are green parrots in Brockley. We don't know why.

Thanks to the prolific JPM for the photo.

The United Services Club, 60 Manor Avenue

When we mentioned last month that the United Services Club had closed, it received not a single eulogy.

This background, from sometime contributer JPM, helps to explain why a community asset goes unmourned:

The USC building was donated in the 1920s by a person unknown and has operated as a club ever since. Neighbours in Manor Avenue and in the surrounding roads were actually allowed to become members under the club's charter. The problem is that they never knew that. Those that did attempt to become members were not met with much enthusiasm.

In fact, recently, the club closed its membership to newcomers. The building was offered for sale. Zoom Nurseries Ltd wants to opens a nursery for 80 children with 20 staff, which is rather contentious.

It also presents an interesting question: Given that it was donated to the USC members back in 1929, who really owns it, the community, or the people who have allowed it to deteriorate and closed its membership intake?

Love Ladywell

Last October, we aged several years in a matter of days as Brockley Central was besieged by angry people, irate that we - and many readers - had the temerity to question the wisdom of their plan to use the Brockley Ward Localities Fund to pay for free mobile phones for young volunteers with the Love Lewisham programme.

The Localities Fund is £10,000 of public money allocated to each ward, ring fenced by the Council to be spent on good causes chosen by local people. The debate made a powerful case for representative democracy. Or benign dictatorship. Or even malevolent dictatorship.

Cllr Dean Walton made the pioneering decision to use this website as a vehicle to canvass a wider set of opinion than is possible via the traditional channels. It worked. Too well for some. The final decision on how to divide the money was made at a local meeting, but even so, some people didn't feel their ideas should have to be exposed to public scrutiny and a few days of furious debate (and attempts to have the article pulled from the site) followed.

We're not sure if Cllr Walton will go as far as to actively encourage the discussion again, but we certainly plan to canvass people's views this year and send them to him ahead of the decision. Meanwhile, the Ladywell Village Improvement Group is trying to encourage a similar debate about how to spend Ladywell's pot of money. Last year's cash went on projects including the new table tennis table in Hilly Fields and they are looking for new ideas ahead of the Ladywell Assembly on October 8th.

So if you have an idea, let them have it. And not the way the Love Lewisham Lobby let us have it last year.

Another brick in the wall

... or out of the wall, more accurately.

After weeks of silence, BC has another update on the Wickham Rd/Cranfield Rd fallen-down wall saga.

A couple of weeks ago we contacted the council to find out what progress had been made on getting it fixed. For those of you who came in late, the wall has been in this state (see pic) since May this year. The problem seems to be that the wall is covered by a PFI contract. The council believe it is the responsibility of the PFI contractor to fix it. Brockley's citizens have been waiting for this glorious (and really quite simple) event to occur for some six months now.

Will it be fixed by the end of the year? Who can say. But we seem to be one step closer. Apparently the housing commissioning manager is going to meet with both the contractor and the planning department. There are concerns that the pricing quoted by the contractor is high.

Once contract negotiations have completed, the works will start. BC waits in hope ...

The neighbourly advice thread

This is an open thread, created at the request of reader Lindy.

It's for anyone to ask advice from other readers about how to handle disputes and problems with their neighbours. Please do not divulge any personal details.

The Brockley Community Gallery Open Day

On Saturday we popped in to the new gallery at the Tea Factory, which was holding an open day, to see how things were shaping up.

Here's what we learned:

  • The space is big and light and is now fully operational, if a bit sparse
  • The plan is to open in late October
  • Already, more than 15 local artists have become members but they are looking for at least 10 more, which was the main purpose of the day
  • Artists from outside the Borough are welcome to join up. We bumped in to an artist we know who lives in Greenwich and was weighing-up the opportunity
  • One of the things they hope to do with the gallery is organise children's workshops - a great idea given how few things there are for kids locally
  • Its neighbours in the development will be a new cafe and the office of the architects who designed the building - which is good news for those of us who believe attracting more jobs and professional companies are vital for the long-term development of the area. The fourth commercial occupant is apparently an estate agent, but given the state of the market, we'd be impressed by any agency opening new offices at this time
  • Throughout negotiations, relationships with the Council and the developer remained positive. The Council did eventually provide a small amount of additional public funding, which will help get the gallery going. The developer eventually agreed to do what was needed to make it usable. Everybody's happy
  • There was cake as promised, though we arrived very early, while it was still under wraps, so cannot vouch for its quality

Ask yourself, what would Badger do?

Howard, the man behind the Brockzilla art exhibition, has created a new Brockley hero - Badger. He is the star of his own comic book and resembles a cross between Paddington Bear and Maus.

Badger is a cypher for the melting pot that is modern Brockley. An everymammal, his adventures include commuting from Brockley station, popping in to The Broca and relaxing on a Hilly Fields park bench but he's also streetwise enough to handle himself when threatened in a dark alley.

You can follow his journey on Flickr.

Brockzilla is due to return to The Broca cafe in October.

The Talbot - good things come to those who wait

James Heaton has written to us to deliver a fresh twist in the tale of The Talbot:

"Things are still going ahead albeit very slowly - the major problem we have is the funding that we require. At The Honor Oak we have had a downturn in sales over the last couple of months (unsure whether this was the bad weather or the dreaded words 'credit crunch') which has obviously affected our cash-flow.

"It was always our intention to get a small loan to part-finance the works however the banks are not that responsive to lending it to us at the moment, so we are currently looking into other finance options. Work was always planned to start on the 1st October but this looks unlikely now. We are still 100% committed to making The Talbot happen but we need to do it properly to make it work - no half efforts will be enough.

"Once funding is secured I will let you know!"

Having been given a sneak preview of the first floor dining room and its glorious, grimy detailing, we have several times allowed ourselves to entertain notions of Sunday dinner on wintry days, overlooking the snow-dusted trees of Brockley. As summer fades to autumn, James' news makes this an ever-more-unlikely prospect. But hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.

Meanwhile, if you've been thinking about checking out the Honour Oak, now would seem a good time to do it.

I Spy #3

Go on then, you lot have done so well at guessing the first two - so where's this?

Magi, Coulgate Street

This is a short tribute to a shop that has come to our rescue more times than we can remember. If you're as disorganised as we are then most of the presents you'll have ever given new parents will have come from Magi, the shop which started the Coulgate Street renaissance.

Bullock boosts Brockley

Yesterday, Mayor Bullock, praise be upon him, approved this funding.

Brockley Common is greenlit.

We hope to bring you more news about what this means for the timetable, shortly.

Brockley Central - the musical!

Our much-loved regular feature Brockley Bites has inspired its own tribute act: "Brockley Bites: a night of new short plays" at the Moonbow Jakes Theatre (you know, Moonbow Jakes).

There are still tickets available for the performances on the 23rd and 26th of September, from 7.45pm. Visit

Starring Richard E Grant as Hugh, Bob Hoskins as Monkeyboy and Andy Serkis in his Gollum costume will play The Cat Man.

The College Cafe, Lewisham Way

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

PFI uPVC - the other side of the story

The PFI agreement, which Lewisham Council struck to refurbish Brockley's stock of Council housing has proven to be highly controversial and complex.

This email, which we received from one Council tennant offers an alternative perspective on the consortium's plans to replace old windows with uPVC ones:

I am a Council resident of Syringa House on Wickham Road. The day to day running of our estate was taken over by Pinnacle Housing and the upkeep by Higgins. We have been promised new kitchens, bathrooms and windows as part of a regeneration project on the interiors of our homes and the communal areas.

Well the time has come for the work to commence. We have been given the choice of paint colours, cupboard doors and work surfaces etc and told that soon scaffolding would be going up soon in order for the fitters to fit our brand new shiny UPVC double glazing windows in replacement of the old metal frames which go mouldy not matter how much they are cleaned and painted with moisture resistant paint, that have no locks and warp in the winter. I'm a ground floor resident and on more than one occasion my garden has been showered with glass as there is no adequate means of fixing them open in the warm weather and they slam shut and shatter.

As this was going to happen I have put off decorating a few rooms in my home. So I was very shocked to discover that we will no longer be getting our long promised UPVC double glazing windows but we would be getting a lick of paint and draught excluders. This isn't a problem for all the residents in the Wickham Road Estate just Syringa, Jasmin, Veronica and May Tree House. The reason we have been given for this is that our 4 blocks are part of the Brockley Conservation area and therefore are subject to different planning regulations to the rest of the estate, but there are already lease holder residents in the blocks who have previously been given planning permission for UPVC frames and have had then installed.

Across the road from us is Raymont House (a student halls of residence provided by Goldsmiths University) which a few years ago had a refit and all the windows were replaced with UPVC framed windows, Raymont House is also within the Conservation area.

Surely if this is a conservation area it should be one rule for all. Not picking and choosing as the Planning Dept see fit. Also would it not look better in the Conservation area if all the windows in the council property were uniformed. I also wonder what the Planning Dept are trying to conserve.

We feel that this is grossly unfair especially as this has been dangled in-front of our faces like a carrot.

I have contacted the Planning Dept and they told me that Higgins had been advised that they should use metal frames so that they looked the same as before - they had looked at the windows in the blocks from the outside, I asked if they had been inside the flats to look at the windows to see the damp and mould. They hadn't. I'm unsure if the project has run out of money and this is the easiest way out of a sticky situation but me and a number of residents will not simply accept this after we have been promised it for so long.

We are planning to draw up a petition of all residents effected, take this up with our local MP and Councillors and speaking to the local press. We hope that you will feature us on your blog.

Brockley Common project seeks Mayor's blessing

On Wednesday, Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock will be asked by Council officials to endorse funding for the emerging strategy for station improvements along the extended East London Line and, in particular, to authorise £146,000 of the the Council’s Capital Programme (CCP) fund to finance Phase 1 of the Brockley Common project.

The money will be spent on Phase 1 of the Common project, as a precursor to an emerging long term scheme for the station. This work will deliver a new ramp and steps to the ticket office and links to the main footbridge that provides access to Mantle Road. The proposed 1:20 ramp would provide wheelchair and buggy access to the upper level. It would replace the existing steep 1:4 ramp up to the down ticket office.

The recommendation notes the "wide support from the local community" following the excellent and painstaking work of the Brockley Cross Action Group, that planning permission has been granted, that £71,000 has already been secured and that it will help the station meet disabled access requirements:

Planning Permission for Brockley Common was given in February 2008. The Council made a successful application under the small schemes Access for All funding to implement the scheme, and £71k towards the cost of the proposal was agreed. This funding is available up until March 2009, but only becomes available on completion of the scheme. Brockley station has also been included in the "Access for All" programme, which may result in major changes to the stations, particularly to the footbridge link between the two platforms. Access for All works are scheduled for completion in the 2012 to 2015 period.

And the report holds out hope that there could be an end to the farcical twin bridge arrangement that particularly annoys those on the west of the station:

TfL( Borough Partnerships) have indicated that they would be willing to consider a scheme to improve access either side of the station and funding is available to improve access to and from the station as part of the London Cycle network. Officers have undertaken some outline
design work, on access routes to the station. TfL would be willing to consider a further Station access bid, via SELTRANS for 2009/10 that would need to cover access routes to the station and take into account safety issues and access by modes. The narrow pedestrian route forms part of the London Cycle Network and a some improvements have been suggested. There are currently no plans to widen this bridge.

In total, the Council has £730,000 to spend on enhancing station access along the route of the extended East London Line, which is on-course to open in June 2010.

The responsibility of running the stations included on the new line will be transferred to TfL in September 2009, which means that Brockley Station itself will benefit from a package improvements, focusing on two areas:

  • Ambiance: Refurbishment work to achieve roughly "as new" condition, with deep cleaning.
  • Systems: Modern public address system, signage, customer information system and CCTV, station lighting, security and signage on and off the station including onward travel.
In total, these measures would transform the station and its surroundings, bringing huge benefits to commuters and to the public realm at the heart of Brockley. This week, Mayor Bullock has the opportunity to start the revolution.

117 Lewisham Way, The Elephant House - gone but not forgotten

As the Gallions Housing Association goes to market with their new block at 117 Lewisham Way, we look back on the building which stood in its place for 100 years before it - the imposing Victorian mansion better known as the Elephant House.

Elephant House by Fakey

Apparently, the house was built in the mid 1800s, and was notable as one of the few detached houses on Lewisham Way, with unique architectural features such as an elegant conservatory and a bell tower. Mature trees were scattered across the plot, and so the house was always quite secluded, perhaps adding to its mysterious nature. It gained it name from a giant elephant head sculpture that hung ominously from the front of it, for which we can thank some past Goldsmiths students.

Some intense Googling has turned up very little in the way of history, but we do know that the building was once a temporary Synagogue in the 1940s, and in its later years was inhabited by community charity the Metamorphosis Trust. In the years before it was demolished all we know is that it was squatted, was used as rehearsal rooms for local bands (any famous ones amongst them?) and it was home to some pretty legendary parties (the elephant's eyes became lazers). Sadly, we never plucked up courage to turn up to one. If you know more about what happened behind the doors of the Elephant House then let us know below.

The building sadly fell into major disrepair in its final years. It is said that English Heritage took a look at it, but decided it wasn't worth listing, since all the original features on the inside had been stripped out and it was structurally unsafe. No doubt this didn't help its case, and it was eventually pulled down in November, 2006. There is certainly no internet evidence of any real fight from the community, with the Lewisham Planning website stating that only 9 letters of objection were received, no petitions, and no appeals were made.

117 Lewisham WayAnd what of the new building that takes its place? It does seem quite apt that a building which was squatted for so many years is replaced by an 'affordable' shared-ownership scheme run by a housing association. Just how affordable they are, at £170k for a 1-bed, is debatable. This does seem lower than others around Brockley, but this is probably just the property market talking.

To look at, it's certainly more imposing that the original drawings implied. Although at the same level as the building next door, it is much more dominant, and the lie of the road means it's visible from far along Lewisham Way.

But, although it's box-like, it's not exactly bland, and, while it remains clean and shiny, it does bring a certain glamour to this usually messy stretch of Lewisham Way

Renovated shopsA good thing which has come out of it is the renovation of the shops next to the building (albeit for them to be converted into flats). Initial work has revealed a long forgotten historic shop front for 'Dennant & Porter, Auctioneers and Surveyors'. Hopefully the next shop along will follow soon and deliver and equally pleasing addition to the parade.

What are your views on the new development, and do you have any stories to tell about the old Elephant House?

Nurseries in Brockley

This is a subject we've previously steered away from, partly through lack of direct experience and partly because we know how emotive a subject child care can be. However, the topic's been raised elsewhere on the site, so we thought it would be useful to create a thread for it.

Our own experience as a parent is limited to Hilly Fields Day Nursery on Harcourt Road. We have nothing to benchmark it against and our parental standards are perhaps laxer than some (we're the sort of parent who, if our child drops a lolly on the floor, will pick off the fluff and give it back to them). However, on the occasions we used the nursery, we found the carers to be friendly and attentive to the children.

The nursery itself is bigger than the outside would lead you to believe with a communal indoor/outdoor play area and separate floors for younger and older children. Our child consistently came back happy and played-out, which suggests a caring and stimulating environment.

Please use this thread to share your advice on the best nurseries in Brockley.

Brockley Road - off the rails

Kensington High Street: classy bins, classy lamp posts, classy ladies.

The poor condition of much of Brockley Road has been a recurrent theme since this blog began. It was also the subject of some detailed discussion with the Council when Cllr Alexander visited Brockley Cross in the summer.

Shortly, we'll publish the details of the High Street campaign we hope to get off the ground, but for now, we want to revisit a particular issue which was discussed with the Council officials during the tour.

The railings opposite the Brockley Barge and the Chemist are in very poor condition and do more than their fair share to contribute to the generally squalid condition of the streetscape. The dull grey metal bars are bent out of shape while the legs churn up the pavement in to which they sink. Their utilitarian design and lack of maintenance screams crap town.

The Council Officers admitted as much and said that, were we starting with a clean sheet of pavement, no one would consider installing railings in those positions. However, they'd also be reluctant to remove them - no one wants to be the officer who removes railings, only for a pedestrian to be killed in that spot shortly afterwards.

But there is very good evidence that railings not only make our streets worse, they also make them more dangerous, prompting some Councils to de-clutter.

According to the Urban Design Compendium, Kensington Highstreet:

Has undergone a major transformation in order to improve its image and provide a safer, more attractive environment for pedestrians. Specific measures included:
  • reduction of street clutter by mounting traffic signals and signage on lamp columns
  • removal of guardrails and bollards
  • removal of staggered crossings; removal of traffic islands
  • introduction of dropped kerbs
  • reduction in the number of surface materials
Initially there was significant opposition to these changes and the Stage 1 Safety Audit brought attention to a number of safety issues. To address these issues an evidence-based method was applied during the first phase of the scheme. During this phase the impact of the changes on the behaviour of pedestrians was carefully monitored using on-site observations, CCTV and representatives from disabled and walking groups.

Monitoring also included the use of records of personal injury collisions collated by Transport for London. The initial results showed that such innovative change together with detailed design and risk assessment could be achieved without negative impact. The changes were therefore retained and the remaining phases built over a period of three years.

The street improvements have not only improved the quality of streetscape but since the changes were introduced pedestrian accidents in the affected area have been reduced by more than 40 per cent.

And it's not only Royal Boroughs that are at it, Hackney Council have followed K&C's lead, as their newsletter reported:

So-called 'safety' features are to be stripped from many of Hackney's roads after research showed that they could contribute to accidents. The Council is set to embark on a radical reduction of pedestrian guard railings, starting with Mare Street in central Hackney.

The move comes after a study found that railings discouraged walking by restricting pedestrian access, gave greater priority to vehicles and had a negative impact on the street scene. Poorly placed railings can increase the chance of collisions by making pedestrians take risks. They may even contribute to the injury of cyclists who can get trapped between vehicles and railings.

So if we want to start improving our main streets, we shouldn't go to the expense of replacing or painting unnecessary old railings, we should get rid of them all together, humanising our streets, rather than hemming people in. We'd love to see Lewisham follow Kensington and Hackney's example.

Local Assemblies - the next generation

There is a fresh new batch of Local Assemblies coming up in the next few weeks and Lewisham Council want Generation Y to be there and what better way to re-engage with the kids than via a blog?

Assembly organiser Sarah Cooper explains:

"18-30 year olds were under-represented at the last round of Assemblies, so I am keen to ensure that their views, are reflected better next time around. As ever, we are keen to encourage as many people as possible to come, but younger people are a particular priority."

Here are the dates:

Brockley Assembly, Wednesday 24th September, 7pm - 9pm, Lewisham College, Lewisham Way

Telegraph Hill Assembly, Saturday 27th September, 1-3pm, Telegraph Hill Centre, Kitto Road

Crofton Park Assembly, Monday 13th October, 7.30pm -9.30pm , St Hilda' s Church Hall, Courtrai Road

The end of the world is nigh?

What with those darn physicists' new toy about to suck us all into a miniature black hole (*possibly), BC is in contemplative mood. Things we haven't done, people we haven't seen ... ah, what might have been.

['The Way We Were' starts playing in the background roundabout now ...]

Yes, regrets, we've had a few. Not going to the Christmas Market being high among them. We also regret not getting more involved in plans for Tea Leaf Arts.

What about BC readers - what do you wish you'd got round to doing locally?

Telegraph Hill Festival Launch Party

September 20th promises a feast for local liggers, with a cultural double-header.

If you're planning to visit the Tea Leaf Arts open day, why not trot up the hill to Cafe Orange, where the organisers of the Telegraph Hill Festival will be hosting a planning meeting for the next one?

Tabitha explains:

"If you have an idea for an event, exhibition, activity or performance that you would like to see represented in front of the broad community of Telegraph Hill, or you just want to be part of the community celebration in any capacity come along and get involved at the Telegraph Hill Festival Launch Party on Saturday 20 September 2008 at 3 p.m."

They promise "free refreshments" so the determined freeloader will be able to compare and contrast their offer with the tea and cake at the Gallery.

The Telegraph Hill Festival is a voluntary, not-for-profit organisation, which aims to promote local art. You can read a calendar of this year's events here.

Brockley Community Gallery opens its doors

After a tortuous birth, Brockley's Community Art Gallery at The Tea Factory will open on September 20th, 2008.

The Brockley Cross venue will host an open day between 2pm and 6pm, with the promise of tea and cake for visitors.

Sian Knight, Chair of Tea Leaf Arts, the group responsible for setting up and running the gallery, said:

"I'm happy to report we've finally signed the lease and we are planning to be up and running as soon as possible, starting with the open day. We hope as many people as possible will come along."

New Speedicars signage on its way

As regular readers will know, a few weeks months ago local cabbies Speedicars were forced by the Council to take down their original sign, which didn't meet council signage guidelines or conservation area regulations. Now, one of our regular contributors, Brockley Sarah, reports that a new hand-painted sign is being produced as we write this, and will soon take pride of place over their office in Coulgate Street.

The topic has been a huge source of debate on this blog, and has certainly split the congregation in two. Some called us moaning cardigan-wearers (nothing wrong with a cardi, we say) and others have bravely campaigned in their own way for more enforcement of the regulations.

Well, it appears that Speedicars have listened (or been told), and the people of Brockley will have one less garish shop-front. Photos will follow!

New blogs

Local favourite Jam Circus has recently a new blog, to let people know what they're up to.

Brockley's new film club at the Brockley Jack is improving its website, now that they are actually showing films.

And Honor Oak has a newish website after our own hearts. "Let's improve Honor Oak Park" is a website dedicated to making little improvements to the area and holds up Brockley as an example of what can be achieved. This is a little surprising, since whenever we go past Honor Oak station, we wonder why Brockley Road can't look as good. But it serves as a useful reminder of how much progress Brockley has made in the last couple of years, even if there is still much to do...

Like us, they think that better street furniture, better waste management, a few more splodges of greenery and even better signs can help to transform an area. We want to be friends with these people.

If you know of a relevant blog we haven't linked to, please let us know.

Brockley Nature Reserve open this Sunday

A quick post to tell you that the Nature Reserve will be open this Sunday, from 2pm-5pm, weather permitting of course!

Full details of where to find it and photos can be found in this previous article.

Ladywell Christmas Market

With plans underway to hold Brockley's second Christmas Market, Ladywell Village Improvement Group are planning their own. They write:

"At our last public meeting in July we agreed that we would like to hold a Christmas Market in Ladywell this year.

"In order to make that happen we need to get cracking on planning as soon as possible as, now the weather has signalled the arrival of autumn, we will be hurtling our way towards Christmas before we know it!

"We'd like to hold an informal meeting to kick off the planning process and would really welcome as much support as possible, as there will be much to do in the interim. If you'd like to come and share your ideas or volunteer to assist with the organisation, we'd be very grateful for all the help we can get.

"We will be meeting at Mason's on Tuesday 9th September at 8pm.

"Please email us to let us know if you are coming so we can reserve a big enough table. (Visit their site for details)

"We hope to see you there!"

Brockley Bites - outsourced

Catherine wrote to us with a couple of unrelated topics - one mystery and one lost cause:

Dry cleaners

"I wanted to ask fellow Brockley residents if they know what has happened to Express Dry Cleaners - we have popped around there twice in the last few days to pick up laundry and the shop is closed with no signs to indicate why the shop isn't open. Phone number is not working either.. it is not looking very good."

Satellite dishes

"Sorry if you've discussed this before but I'm wondering what can be done about all the satellite dishes that have been put at the front of residences in the conservation area (even though they are not supposed to be able to be viewed from the street). Does anyone know who to contact to get people to put these unsightly things on the roof or at the back of properties. is it a case for enforcement? And if so, would we need to get these reported individually or any chance someone from the council can do a sweep of the area?"

We're conflicted about the dishes - they're unsightly, sure. But less so than, for example, the hundreds of wheelie bins that clog our streets or the condition that many of us keep our front gardens in. Many people regard them as a necessity and there are technical reasons why they sometimes need to be stuck on the front of houses. The dishes seem like a minor public nuisance, whereas to remove them would be a major private intrusion. Therefore, we wouldn't want any action to be taken, even if the Council was willing and able. In any case, it would seem a hugely difficult exercise, certain to enrage a large number of voters, so we don't believe it's a battle they would ever choose.

I spy #2

Can anyone guess where in Brockley this sky-screened shot was taken?

Brockley commutes

If you're wondering why it's a bit quiet around here and why we've stooped to cutting and pasting (admittedly relevant) press releases from the Council, it's because we've "gone dark" this week, "living off the grid". Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Meanwhile, Paddyom has been in touch regarding his heartless employers, who are contemplating a move from Piccadilly to Reading, which may as well be off the grid...

"I was wondering whether you could start a conversation on the blog about how far and to where people from SE4 commute each day.

"I am now facing a 3hrs round trip commute each day compared with 1.5hrs door to door currently.

"I would be interested in seeing whether there are people in the area that already endure a similar commute that doesn't end at London Bridge, Cannon Street or Charing Cross and indeed if anyone travels even farther a field than Reading how they cope and how they find it.

"I would be delighted to see the responses."

Our company recently relocated from Piccadilly to Victoria, having come tantalisingly close to choosing an office at London Bridge. At the time, we thought it was a disaster, but while the commute is more expensive, it's little different in terms of time and it's acted as more of an incentive to cycle, which is actually quicker than going to the west end. Reading is a different matter though, and given that the housing market has ground to a halt, it's a pretty unsympathetic employer that forces its staff to commute to a different city, in our opinion. Our suggestion is that he tells his bosses about Brockley's attractions as a business location.

Wavelengths reopens

Wavelengths Leisure Centre and Library have reopened.

As well as the existing library and swimming pool, the new facility now includes a second, brand-new 25-metre swimming pool, fully refurbished gym, health suite, dance studio, changing facilities, new reception and entrance foyer.

Work on the new pool in Deptford began in April 2007 with Lewisham Council investing 4.2 million pounds in redeveloping and upgrading the Centre. The Leisure Centre and Library have been closed since May 2008 to allow for refurbishment to take place and for the new pool to be integrated into the existing facility.

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, marked the occasion by taking a plunge in the new pool. He said:

"This is a very exciting day for Lewisham. I can't believe it was only last year that I was swimming in our new leisure centre in Downham. Today, I'm here in Deptford, swimming in yet another fantastic new facility. It's a real tribute to the hard work and energy of everybody involved.

"It seems like only yesterday we made the decision to add this extension to the existing leisure pool - part of a series of improvements and
developments that we have planned for the borough's swimming and leisure
facilities over the next few years. Now this project's finished, I can't wait to have a swim in our next new pool in Loampit Vale in the centre of Lewisham!"

As well as offering improved facilities for local residents, the new 6-lane pool at Deptford will be used by the borough's schools.

Other improvements at the Leisure Centre include:

*Redesign of the reception providing an open-plan foyer leading up to the Leisure Centre and Library.
*Automatic doors at the front entrance to enable visitors to
enter the building more easily.
*Four new changing rooms.
*A spectator's area.
*A changing room for use by people with disabilities.
*A fully refurbished gym, health suite, dance studio.
*New changing cubicles including a baby-changing facility.

Wavelengths Leisure Centre and Library is a Lewisham Council facility managed by Parkwood Leisure.

Opening hours are:
Mon-Fri 8am-10pm and
Sat-Sun 9am-6pm.