I Spy: Weekend edition

We told you 'I Spy' was back, and we meant it! Who's going to be the first to correctly identify the location of this picture?

Capital investment: the visitor benefits

Our colleague has been working with Visit London to compile a list of the major developments taking place across the capital ahead of the Olympic Games (which will be 1,000 days away tomorrow), which will benefit tourists. We couldn't manage to find a way to smuggle Brockley onto the list but we're pleased that both the East London Line and London Bridge feature prominently.

London’s visitor economy set to benefit from at least £11bn investment between now and the Olympic Games

As the city marks 1,000 days until the opening ceremony of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on 27th July 2012, a new report by Visit London reveals that in excess of £11bn will be invested into projects directly benefiting visitors to the city.

The developments cover a huge range of facilities including improved and new transport links such as the East London line extension, the upgraded DLR and new cycle tracks and walkways; hotel openings from the 1021 bedroom Park Plaza at Westminster Bridge to the renovated Savoy as well as attractions across the capital including in Stratford, East London where the spectacular new urban park is being built - one of the biggest in Europe for more than 150 years.

Sally Chatterjee, Interim CEO, Visit London commented:

“As Londoners, we should celebrate our position as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and the significant investment that this status brings. With the 1,000 days countdown underway, we can already see how significantly the Capital will change. What is so exciting for visitors is that they really don’t need to wait – the transformation is happening now. We have an unprecedented opportunity to show the world exactly what London has to offer and these new developments will benefit Londoners and visitors alike for many years to come.”

London will also play host to some major new architectural buildings including the London Bridge Tower otherwise known as The Shard with a six star Shangri-La hotel and the Heron Tower in the City which is set to have breathtaking views across the London from its rooftop. Other key investments include:

- Kings Cross redevelopment – Completion of parts of this project from 2012 with an investment of around £2bn
- London Bridge Quarter including The Shard and New London Bridge House – Due for completion 2012 with an investment of around £2bn
- The Heron Tower, City – Due for completion in 2011 with an investment of around £1.85bn
- East London Line extension – Due for completion in June 2010 with an investment of around £1bn
- Westfield Stratford – Due for completion in 2011 with an investment of around £1.45bn

There are many other smaller projects underway which will have a major impact on the tourist experience. These include the reopening of the Cutty Sark in spring 2011, the new wing of the Tate Modern – Tate Modern 2 – in time for the Olympic Games and the launch of the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich early next year.

The 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games provide a unique opportunity to showcase the capital’s attractions, landmarks and neighbourhoods to the whole world. The amount of investment in London reveals a long term confidence in the city that can be experienced by visitors in the run up, during and after the Games.

Visit London, as the official tourism organisation for the capital, is committed to promoting London both in the UK and internationally both in the run up and beyond the Olympic Games to ensure London remains one of the world’s most visited cities.

Blossom in Brockley: The station mosaic

As promised, here are a few pics of the new mosaic being created at Brockley Station - looks lovely, great work and thanks to all those involved.

Savoy Truffle Supperclub, Blackheath [updated]

Blackheath's best restaurant is a small living room in a flat in Pond Road, the Cater Estate - otherwise known as the Savoy Truffle Supperclub.

The pop-up restaurant launched in early 2009 and opens 2-3 times most weeks, seating 16 people at three tables. Having garnered positive reviews early in its life, it's regularly booked out and getting a reservation is like getting a 9 o'clock at Dorsia. The house is registered with the Council as a food business with an environmental health certificate.

We went last night and had a fantastic night, joining two other couples at one of the tables near the kitchen.

The menu consisted of a Bloody Mary soup, followed by risotto, Dolly Parton beef (cooked from 9-5) with horseradish mash, sticky toffee pudding and coffee and brownies to finish. Every course was utterly delicious. At a fixed price of £37-a-head, it's not particularly cheap, but as they're unlicensed, the bring-your-own-bottle policy (a tasty red from Degustation) helps to keep the price down.

The people we met over dinner were great company and the shared experience makes conversation easy. The chef, who was a journalist until about 18 months ago and trained at the Acorn House in Kings Cross, came and sat with us after the meal. He and his partner hope to open a restaurant and - based on last-night's experience - we wish them well. If nothing else, Blackheath could do with a great restaurant. For an area of its wealth and profile, it punches way below its weight in terms of dinner options. Until then, the Supperclub is a great alternative, if you can get in.

Starting this blog was like boarding Oceanic flight 815 - we are now unable to escape SE4. So inevitably, we discovered that one of the couples on our table lived round the corner from us in Brockley.

Sharing a taxi home, we took the opportunity to plug the site (BC: never knowingly undersold) to our new friends.

"Oh right, the blogspot thing?" said the woman. "You certainly get your fair share of weirdos on there, don't you."

Yes we do. And we love each and every one of you.

Brockley work space

Reader Tom is looking for a work space in Brockley:

I am trying to find a disused room / garage / shed in Brockley that I might be able to rent for about £ 150 a month. I wondered if you know of anywhere (I've tried the Arthouse and Deptford's studios. I was thinking of all those seemingly abandoned sheds / warehouses in Brockley's mews.

Please email us here if you want to get in touch.

Ladywell: CPZ on its way

Following a survey of local residents, Lewisham Council highways department is proposing to create a controlled parking zone (CPZ) around Ladywell Station.

The news has been announced by councillor Sue Luxton. According to Sue's blog there were 620 respondents.

She writes:
'In the area where support for a CPZ was high, 298 questionnaires were returned, which represents a 27% response rate. Out of these 298 respondents, 199 (67%) were in favour and 99 (33%) were against the proposed CPZ.
'Algernon Road, Marsala Road, Malyons Road, Gillian Street and Ellerdale Street were clearly in favour, while Embleton, Ermine, Algiers, Veda, Brookbank and all the siblings off Ladywell Road (Francemary, Arthurdon, Phoebeth) were clearly against. More marginal areas included Vicar's Hill, Chudleigh Road and Adelaide Avenue.
'... With Ladywell Road, the proposals is just to include the section from the station to Adelaide Avenue. Most of those opposed in this area were shopkeepers who are understandably reluctant to pay for the business parking permits.'

According to Sue, the highways department will be writing to local residents to explain the plans, and it must also conduct a statutory consultation.
More information about the detailed survey results is available on Sue's blog via the above link.

Edit: Thanks to BC reader Pete for drawing our attention to this update!

Brockley artists strike again!

Some of you may have noticed the new mosaic being created outside Brockley Station. It's shaping up beautifully, and depicts cherry blossom.

The three-metre-long artwork is being designed and installed by local residents Capture Arts in association with the Broca and BEEP (the Broca's Everyone's Enterprising Project) and the Brockley Cross Action Group.
They are planning to create similar mosaics in Crofton Park and Blythe Hill.

The work is still ongoing - the organisers anticipate two more days of grouting and they are appealing for a half dozen volunteers with steady hands and if possible, tiling experience to help out. People must be physically able to kneel or crouch steadily for up to an hour at a time. Anyone with an interest in helping design the rest of the wall is also invited to pop along for a chat.

An offical opening ceremony and tea party will take place in late November when the other mosaics are in place.

BC will post up some pics soon!

Brockley Common: The community takes over

The Brockley Cross Action Group has sent out an appeal to local people to help it reclaim Brockley Common.

The group of volunteers plans to take the benighted project over now that the council's involvement is completed, and is asking us all to pitch in and help.

Here's the email from vice-chair Rupert King:

"As you will have seen by now the new steps, ramp and paving to Brockley Common have been completed, with only a few bits and pieces to be finished off. This work was overseen by the Lewisham Highways Dept and undertaken by their contractor F.M. Conways.

"Brockley Cross Action Group (BXAG) has been waiting patiently in the wings for the works to be completed, so we can get back on the Common and get stuck in! We want to reclaim the Common as the community-led project it was always meant to be! Now at last we have our chance!

"BXAG has made a successful bid for funding from the Lewisham Mayor's fund. As partial match funding BXAG have contributed money that we have raised from our fundraising activities for the Common. So we now have a fighting fund to start work on the replanting of the new banks on either side of the ramp. Once again we aim to create an exciting, bold and colourful planting scheme for Brockley Common, which is going to need alot of community involvement if we are to succeed. More information about the overall plan will follow.

"But we need to start with the basics. The banks desperately need weeding. Once this work is complete we shall employ a contractor to erect proper temporary fencing around the planting areas, to prevent people walking all over them. then we shall get compost delivered and mixed into the soil to improve it, followed by some surface bark mulch to prevent more weed growth. This will ensure the beds are ready for planting early next year.

"To start this whole process we have arranged a CLEAN UP DAY on SUNDAY 1st NOVEMBER, 2.00-4.00. This will be mainly to carry out the weeding and any litter picking. Meet at the Broca Cafe, We will provide all tools, gloves and plastic bags, Just bring warm clothing and some very stout footwear! We will stop at 4.00 so we can get some refreshments at the Broca - BXAG will be buying, so I hope you can stay for coffee, cake and a chat!
"I do hope you can make it - we need a good turn out, which will make the weeding so much easier to sort out."

No to Yellowsham

Local residents have launched a campaign against Big Yellow Self Storage's plans to build a storage warehouse opposite Lewisham Art House on Lewisham Way.

There is an online petition, supported by the Brockley Society, which you can sign here. The campaigners write:

Big Yellow Self Storage want to construct a five-storey, 10,000 sq metre (approx) self-storage warehouse on 155 Lewisham Way. Existing businesses were not consulted and will either close or be forced out of Lewisham. It will result in the loss of at least 30 jobs.

The architecture is unsympathetic and sits opposite a listed building and conservation area. If it is built it will blight the area for decades. There are already 11 storage companies within a 2-mile radius, nobody in Lewisham needs another one.

If it is built it will blight the area for decades. The first application was unanimously thrown out by Lewisham Councillors, but now Big Yellow are demanding a Public Inquiry and we need to make the Planning Inspectorate fully aware of local feeling by the 5th November.

That's a succinct and well-reasoned set of objections. Storage warehouses don't belong on high streets - they have large blank facades that offer nothing to pedestrians and they rely on customers in cars, adding traffic to a stretch of road that already suffers from congestion. Allowing this to go ahead would be tantamount to throwing in the towel - giving up on any prospect of improving Lewisham Way's fortunes.

I Spy redux

Yes, everyone's favourite local game is back. The first person to correctly identify the location of this picture wins - well, nothing much other than our everlasting respect and admiration. Oh, and the pride of knowing your neighbourhood inside out ...

Application to expand La Lanterna

La Lanterna, the restaurant on Brockley Road that has been closed for several months, is now the subject of a planning application to expand the ground floor restaurant and convert the upper floors in to bed-and-breakfast accommodation and one small flat:

The change of use of the upper floor at 179 Brockley Road SE4 from HMO to hotel (Use Class C1) together with the construction of a part one part/two storey extension at the rear to provide additional restaurant area, kitchen and store rooms, plus additional hotel accommodation and 1, self-contained 2 bedroom flat accessed from Harefield Mews.

In its current configuration, the restaurant is divided from the building on Harefield Mews by a small courtyard, used for storage. The plan is to put a roof over the courtyard to create a new, larger restaurant space while adding a first floor extension to the rear of the site on Harefield Road.

The application has been submitted on behalf of current owner, Biagio, which also owns a number of other sites in London. HMO stands for "Houses of Multiple Occupancy", which would be replaced by rooms with en-suite bathrooms, which suggests they aren't planning to go for the hostel market.

The restaurant would get a new frontage and new access to the hotel, but otherwise the building will look little different than it does today. If done properly, with a high-quality finish and a commitment to serving good food, this could be the kind of dramatic intervention which this parade has long been in need of.

What do you think?

With thanks to Bea.

The Deptford Project, 121-123 Deptford High Street

Brockley Kate reported from the Deptford Project's opening night but this is the first time we have had the opportunity to visit and thought it would be would sharing some pictures of what it looks like when it's not in party mode.

It's a cleverly-designed place, with nice attention to detail and which makes great use of the site, to offer an urban retreat from Deptford High Street. It's surprisingly cosy inside on a cold day. Nice cheesecake.

Brockley Central FTW

Congratulations, people of Brockley, you have officially waded through 1,000,000 pages of this stuff.

According to Sitemeter, about one minute ago we recorded our millionth page impression since records began back in 2007. We reckon only half a million of those were spent arguing.

Thank you all for making this place so lively!

The Brockley Central Interview: Richard the Guerrilla Gardener

Today, we ended up having lunch with Richard, the guy who runs GuerrillaGardening.org. Or rather, we were having lunch, he was trying to get on with his work.

His site gives people advice on how to green their homes and their local streets, with the mission statement "fight the filth with forks and flowers." We asked him about Brockley's filth:

Do you know the area?

Yes, I have a friend who lives on Wickham Road, who's been living in the area ever since he moved to London, 12 years ago. He says it's a bit like London's answer to Tuscany.

Even we wouldn't make that claim for it - what does he think the two have in common?

Because it has a hill. And it overlooks a duomo (the O2). I think that's all the justification he had really!

Does Brockley have potential for Guerrilla Gardening?

Everywhere does. I actually did some on Lewisham Way a few years ago and I know of some people who are aspiring guerrilla gardeners, who live in Brockley.

This is actually a brilliant time of year to do it. Bulbs go in nicely and - if you're completely new to it, you can get started really easily by planting hollyhock seeds. Find some barren soil, like the area around the base of a tree, scratch the soil a little because it's likely to be fairly compact and then scatter some seeds.

How much care do they need?

None. You should treat it like a war - scatter your seeds but accept there will be some casualties along the way.

And do the Council ever uproot your good work?

Generally no. In my experience, so long as your handiwork looks reasonably tidy and it's clear that they are not just weeds, Councils are happy to leave them be. Revisit your flowers occasionally and tidy them up a bit, remove any accumulated litter and maybe scatter some small pebbles around them, so they look cared for and you should have no problems.

Richard's work is incredibly inspiring and he said he'd be happy to answer some questions Brockley guerrillas may have, so if you post your questions to him, I will ask him to address the best ones.

Please help beat parking problems in Brockley Cross

Trucks and vans ruin Brockley Cross - has the Council delivered on its pledge to send more traffic wardens?

Dangerous and illegal parking has been a problem for a long time in Brockley Cross and it is hugely damaging to the area's prospects for regeneration. It got even worse when a van hire company set up shop right next to the dreaded double roundabout, some months ago.

We happen to live pretty close to Brockley Cross and pass through every day. At almost any given time, there are several large vans parked in Brockley Cross and the streets immediately leading off the area. Saturdays are usually even worse. Often, the vans are illegally parked on the pavement.

The reason for the problem is obvious - Brockley Cross is a terrible place to locate a van hire business. There is lots of traffic and relatively little parking. In addition to the cars owned by local residents, it's also a popular spot with commuters, who want to park close to Brockley Station and there a number of other businesses in the neighbourhood, which attract cars.

If we were thinking about starting a van hire business, it would be the last place that would even occur to us, in the same way we wouldn't think about locating a nuclear power plant or a five star hotel there.

We discussed the issue with Cllr Walton, who agreed to investigate its planning status. It's a tricky area, because of course the site has been used as office space for a long time. However, using the space for "vehicle hire" could be considered sui generis (a special case, not considered a normal use class) and that would mean that it would require planning permission.

Cllr Walton asked Lewisham Council officers to investigate the issue and received this response:

The Enforcement Officer has visited the site on two occasions. On the first visit only two vans were seen parked on the street in relation to the business. On his second visit yesterday, he witnessed the same.

The premises can be categorised as falling within Class B1 (Office) of the Town & Country Use Classes Order, 2006. For such a use to be classed as ‘sui generis’ there would need to be other factors involved. For example, a large number of vehicles parked in a yard attached to the premises from which the hire vehicles could be picked up, and later returned. There is no such arrangement in this particular instance.

This is an amazing answer, for two reasons. Firstly, we're astonished that the enforcement officer managed to visit the site on two occasions when there was no parking infringement and only two vans around. Secondly, because it's precisely because they haven't got any special parking provision that the problem is so acute.

Here is a picture taken recently. It could have been taken on almost any morning and it illustrates the problem perfectly - in the foreground, a truck blocks the parking bay so that parked cars can't get out, in the background, on the right-hand side, a van from the same company is parked on the pavement. It's fairly similar to the shots we took a few months ago.

Brockley Central regards it as its civic duty to be supportive to local businesses but only on condition that those businesses themselves behave responsibly towards the community they operate in. They are not charities, they are there to make money and in this case, the profits are being made at the expense of the safety of local people and of other businesses operating in the area.

So we're publishing this article both in the hope that it gives Cllr Walton some further evidence to present to Council officers and secondly that it reinforces the need to send more traffic wardens to police Brockley Cross. Because if it isn't a planning issue, it damn well is a parking issue.

We've never seen a traffic warden in Brockley Cross but we understand that they must have been at least twice. Please use this thread to report any sightings of traffic wardens in Brockley Cross.

Armistice Day in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery

This year, Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery will serve as the stage for a unique Armistice Day celebration to which we are all invited.

The brainchild of John McKiernan, 'Up The Line' has become a collective effort, drawing on the talents of people across the community and securing £1,000 of funding from Lewisham Council. The result will be both epic and personal, haunting but fun. The Rivoli Ballroom will also open to 11pm in honour of the occasion.

Here are the details:

'Up The Line' - A Lantern cemetery procession in darkness with poetry, classical music, film and soundscape for remembrance of WWI
Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, Brockley, London SE4 2QZ
Wednesday 11th November 2009 - Armistice Day
7.15pm - 8.30pm

Led by internationally acclaimed classical concert pianist Julian Jacobson, a unique and beautiful evening of remembrance will take place during darkness at Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, London.

A lantern lit path will take visitors past a police guard through the cemetery alongside several WWI memorials and graves where poets, contemporary dancers, a single actor and classical musicians will be performing in silhouette. A silent film and soundscape will also be in evidence.

The event is free to all and is designed to give people of all ages an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made during times of war.

You can read more about the inspiration for Up The Line here.

Brockley Central Perk: Coffee Hit comes to SE4

We're always excited when a new business chooses Brockley, except possibly when they're a van-hire company that chooses to locate on a roundabout with nowhere but pavement to park their vans.

Businesses add life to the area and help sustain shops and cafes during the day. Anecdotally, there seem to be an increasing number of small traders choosing to locate in Brockley and Coffee Hit is another welcome addition to Brockley.

Coffee Hit is a supplier to speciality coffee houses and the owner Paul is a friend of Ross Brown, of Browns of Brockley, himself an ex-coffee industry exec.

They've just signed a lease to move in to the Brockley Cross Business Centre and Paul explained why they chose Brockley:

"I came across Brockley when I visited a customer of ours Ross who owns Browns of Brockley who recently opened on Coulgate Street. We got talking about his great location, easy access to the city and affordable rents.

"I'd been racking my head for a few months on where our new premises was going to be but on my visit to Brockley I knew I had found my location. It had everything I was looking for.

"Our new premises will allow our business to grow, with better storage, distribution and access for and to our customers. It will also allow us to open a showroom where we can display the products we sell and customers can come down and try the products and see if its the right product for them.

"Our customers are the new wave of speciality Coffee shops that are opening up around the UK at present. Nearly all of these, like Browns of Brockley, are independently run by passionate individuals who really care and have love for the coffee they sell. Also, home users who want to make great coffee at home. We can set you up making delicious coffee cheaper than you think.

"With the World Barista Championship in London next year the worlds attention is now on London and the UK and the buzz that its creating is great to watch and be part of. We hope with our move to Brockley we can bring some of that attention to Brockley."

Thanks to Paul and welcome to Brockley!

Acting classes in Brockley

Brockley resident Lucy is an actor, thinking about setting-up drama classes in the area. She'd like to do a little market research first and sound out Brockley Central readers, to see how much interest there would be in the idea.

So, if you'd be interested in taking part, please let Lucy know via this thread.


Meanwhile, BC regular Michael, who works for a casting agency that specialises in casting 'real people', rather than classically-trained thespians, is looking for mums and dads aged between 20 and 40 and interested in working on November 4th and 5th for a Christmas commercial for Asda. You'll be paid £1,000 for the filming and a further £500 when the ad is aired. You must be able to pat your own bottom.

Given that Brockley is swarming with parents, where better for him to fish?

If you're interested, please email him here.

Forest saved in Forest Hill

The planning application that we wrote about here and here, to turn a greenfield site made up of woodland and old Victorian gardens into 9 blocks of flats, has been refused once again. This is a great victory for the Forest Hill community, with a massive 349 people objecting to the application.

Brockley crime levels revealed

Crime levels in Brockley are varied, with some places seeing increases and others seeing decreases according to the new national CrimeMapper website.

The site uses police forces' figures to present a real-time view of crime around the country, and enables users to compare different areas. The figures for SE4 are mixed.

The level of crime in Brockley is average compared to other Metropolitan Police areas, but declining - the three-month average fell by 7.8% year-on-year. However the level of burglaries was above average, and rose 34% year-on-year. There was a peak in January and February, and levels have risen again in the last couple of months.
Brockley is also above avarage for robberies, although still at a very low level. Violent crime is above average but has fallen year-on-year.

Figures for Telegraph Hill show a rise in crimes of 11.6% year-on-year. In particular there was a peak in burglaries in July. But there is some good news for residents of the hill - vehicle crime is below average compared to other Metropolitan Police areas.

In Crofton Park, burglaries, violent crimes and anti-social behaviour incidents all rose year-on-year, but were still average in comparison to other Met Police areas.

Crime in Ladywell was up year-on-year, particularly burglary and robbery. But levels were still average compared to other Met Police areas.

NB. The website is flooded with users at the moment, so you may find it is running very slowly or unreliably for a while.

Autumn in Brockley

BC was out and about this weekend, appreciating the turning of the seasons. Here are a few of the highlights ...

Unfinished Empathy

This week, in our day job, we're helping to put the final touches to something called c&binet forum, an event which brings together 300 or so creative business leaders with technologists, financiers and international government officials to discuss the big issues facing their businesses.

One of the hot topics will be the changing status of 'the gatekeepers'- companies that by virtue of their scale and control of distribution have typically dominated the content industries. The digital age offers an opportunity for IP producers a direct route to their customers, they just have to work out how to get it to them and make money out of them. The implication of this is that, potentially, producers have to stop worrying about producing to meet the needs of one or two managers within those companies and start worrying about what the public wants.

This is potentially quite liberating for creative entrepreneurs and it's also one of the reasons why PR people are so excited about the impact of social media - it means that instead of supplicating ourselves before media 'gatekeepers' by pitching stories to grumpy journalists, we can put stuff out there online and let people decide for themselves whether they like it.

That's not to say that the editorial role of the media isn't still an important one, just that there are now alternatives. PR people sometimes send journalists terrible, poorly-written, poorly-targeted pitches and sometimes they are rightly laughed at by those journalists. But sometimes the journalist is just in a bad mood. Whatever the reasons, pitching stories is often a miserable right of passage for every aspiring PR person.

Blogging hasn't really overturned this system - all it's done is dilute it, by supplementing big gatekeepers with lots of smaller ones. Brockley Central therefore finds itself as a poacher turned gamekeeper. Having been scarred by the barbs of a hundred stroppy journalists, we try to be fair and polite to anyone who sends us a story, to respect that there is stuff that might not interest us, but will interest other people and to always respond curteously. To behave with a degree of empathy, if you will...

The other day we got this abortive pitch:

Not spotted anything on the likely part demolition of local Brockley School.I've been reading through some of the past blogs and think you are pro knock it down and put something big and new up. You don't seem to empathise with other resident's sensitive concerns. But it might be something people would like to know about, before thei

That's as far as it got. Presumably the pleasantries like hello, please or thank you were due to come at the end of his note. We emailed back asking for him to send the rest of it, but haven't had a response yet.

We reckon that what this person was talking about was this planning application for Gordonbrock School, which Cllr Luxton has been discussing on her blog.

Sue has her reservations about the application but summarises the reasoning behind it as being:

"To enable the school to go from 2.5 form entry to 3 form entry, which as well as creating much needed extra primary school places, avoids the need to have classes with mixed age groups. I'm pleased that it's proposed to retain parts of the Victorian school building, that the awful portacabins in the playground that are long past their sell-by date will finally be going and of course that more, larger classrooms will be built."

We'd urge anyone interested in this application to read full discussion on her blog.

The Tudor Barn, Eltham

Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham lies off a busy road behind a shaded set of railings that gives little away about the beautiful garden that lies behind. Restored in 2002, the Pleasaunce dates back to the 13th century and is home to a walled garden, a rockery, a stream and the Tudor Barn.

The Barn used to house a pretty scary pub but has now been converted in to a gallery that hosts weddings, parties and a range of other events. On the ground floor, the ‘1568’ Bar & Brasserie opened this month and, since our friend recently started working there, we tried it out on Friday.

The restaurant respects its Tudor origins with stripped-down white walls and exposed wooden beams, but its more recent incarnation as a pub is also evident, with a large bar welcoming you at the entrance.

The menu consists of pretty traditional pub fare - fish and chips, burgers and so on - all nicely made, with a few neat touches, like locally-made chutneys and apple juices sourced from the Kent farm that our friend camps on. During the day, The Tudor Barn operates as a cafe and at weekends it serves a brunch menu and a Sunday roast.

The Barn also doubles as a music venue and has pulled off an early coup by hosting a performance by acoustic musician Don Mescall on October 30th, ahead of his Irish tour (tickets £15).

Brockley Station: Improvements to north bound platform might wait until 2015

People always ask why a great deal of time and money was spent making the east side of Brockley Station accessible when the west side is completely useless for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The answer is that a programme of works is planned, which will make that platform accessible eventually. TfL are in charge of the programme, which is one of the benefits of the East London Line coming to Brockley.

Back in February last year we learned that this work wouldn't begin until 2012 at the earliest:

Transport for London has today confirmed that Brockley Station will be made "accessible" as part of the DfT’s £370 million Access for All programme. This means that wheelchair access will be possible for both platforms, although unfortunately, this work is not scheduled until 2012 at the earliest.

Now, the Lib Dem's prospective candidate for Lewisham Deptford, Tam Langley, has established that the work might not be completed until 2015. A letter from TfL lists Brockley and Honor Oak as stations that will be completed in "tranche 3" of the programme, which is due for completion by 2015.

Given the current state of TfL finances, we shouldn't expect work to finish much earlier than it has to.

Cinema returns to Hither Green, 18th October

Sunday 18th October 2009

14:00 – 22:00

Firemasters Warehouse, 174-176 Hither Green Lane, entrance on Lanier Rd

BC regular Max Calo is helping to organise a one-off celebration of cinema in Hither Green this Sunday, in support of a former Cinema threatened with demolition.

He writes:

After more than 50 years a cinema comes back to Hither Green, it's
only for a day but it's a great community building exercise.

We had a geat response so far and we're expecting this to be a success. We are trying to rescue the former Park Cinema (aka Kidz Korner) from demolition, so that it can be turned in to an Art and Community Centre -
if all the stars align correctly it could be done.

We have a purpose built performance space at the heart of a dwindling high street that's screaming to be transformed into a multi-purpose Arts and Community centre. It would rescue Hither Green Lane from its decline and make an enormous difference to the quality of life of all residents that currently live in an environment that is a cultural desert.

After a first stage of campaigning against the developer's proposal we are now in a propositive stage, we set us up formally as an association with the aim of promoting cultural events in the area with a view of establishing an Arts and Community Centre and this is our first outing.

Brockley Bites - Enterprise Edition

Endwell Road restaurant update

BC spy Michael reports that the new restaurant's paint job is high-quality. He says: "It still needs a little more cosmetic work above the windows, but it does seem that they have taken a lot of care with those frames. There's scaffolding up outside it now, so it looks as though they're moving on at a good pace."

Could this be what the advert on Gumtree for a pizza chef in Brockley Cross was all about, a few weeks ago? We can barely contain our excitement.

Brockley workshop share

Lovely BC regular Fabhat is hoping to join Brockley's growing cluster of creative businesses and wonders whether you'd like to join her. She writes:

"I'm going to look at a space in Brockley Business Centre next week, that's too big for me, that I'd like to find someone to share with or if someone already has an office that they're looking to share with someone else, that would be great.

"I'm looking to move in December and I need a desk and enough space to store portfolios. If anyone wants to contact me I'd love to hear from them."

Free life drawing

Ladywell's Tank Gallery is offering a free life drawing class as part of its involvement with art campaign The Big Draw.

The class is from 7pm-9pm on October 21st. Classes normally cost £6.
Tank Gallery
The Ladywell Tavern
80 Ladywell Rd
SE13 7HS

Wrapping comes off new Brockley Cross restaurant

The restaurant at 95 Endwell Road, which has been hidden behind hoardings for months, has sloughed off its covers to reveal a shiny new coat of paint, suggesting the plans which were proposed back in 2008 are now close to completion.

We don't know any more details at this stage, but it's great to see another site coming to life, particularly since it looks as though it's aiming to be a restaurant, rather than joining the ranks of takeaways in the area.

London-wide fare increases announced

The BBC reports:

Bus and Tube fares will both rise by above-inflation rates in 2010, London Mayor Boris Johnson has announced.

Bus fares are to go up by 12.7% and Tube fares will rise by 3.9%. Oyster card pay-as-you-go bus journeys are to rise from £1 to £1.20.

The Congestion Charge is rising to £10, while Mr Johnson said a £9 charge for those using a new account system would be operational next year.

The mayor said the price of a seven-day bus pass will also jump from £13.80 to £16.60 but London Travelcard prices will be frozen in the vast majority of cases [potentially a big plus for many Brockley commuters].

No word yet on whether there will be special discounts for bachelors.

With thanks to Tressilliana for spotting it.

Brockley Common back on track

The Brockley Cross Action Group, long-time campaigners for the land to be reopened for public use, have finally been re-engaged on the project, which has suffered from severe delays and cuts to the scope of work.

As this update from the Brockley Cross Action Group shows, there is now hope that the project can deliver on its original promise, but they're asking for community help to make it a reality. Congratulations to the team for their hard work and perserverence and please help if you can:

Well, at last the finishing touches are being done on Brockley Common phase 2! What a long haul and we still have one final phase to go.

We have submitted a snagging list to the council this week and Joan Ruddock is talking to Network Rail to sort out the northern boundary and Darren Johnson to TfL to see if they can help (so that performance area and northern steps get built).

There is a very interesting planting scheme that is emerging and we now have some funds for this £12,800 - £7,800 from the Brockley Ward Assembly and £5,000 from the Action Group's reserves.

We hope to get this established next spring. But we currently have a lot of weeds in the bare earth and we need to stop them going to seed as soon as possible! Well done to those who started on the job last weekend.

Another weeding party is being organised for this Sunday afternoon – 18th Oct 2-4pm. If this isn't convenient just let me know if you can help at any other point. There will be a further effort on Sunday 1st November - more later. Please bring gloves and a small fork if you can – and old shoes/boots! Children very welcome!

Tales of the Big Smoke

Dan Brown writes sentences like: "The famous man looked at the red cup."
- Stewart Lee

Stephen Emms, a writer who once documented a Brockley bench for Time Out, has embarked on his latest exciting project - a serialised saga set in London, which will run weekly on the Big Smoke Blog.

It's a great idea, although we hope it's more Bonfire of the Vanities than Tales of City (the most disappointing book we've ever read). You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

We've agreed to give it a plug on the basis that his plot must reach Brockley soon and that when it does, it deals in the trials and tribulations of the beautiful people struggling to calculate the profits from their soaring house prices and secure the best table at SE4's most fashionable gastro pubs, rather than honey trap murders and illegal parking problems.

Ernest Dowson

Local writer Katy Evans-Bush has paid tribute to the life and work of the poet Ernest Dowson, the 19th Century poet and novelist, who lies buried in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery.

Katy writes:

The subject came up on a walk, one rainy Sunday last year, in south London’s Brockley Cemetery.

My companion and I were standing at Dowson’s grave, at the very spot where Symons himself may have stood sombre with head bowed. We had arrived to find it, though heavily vandalized, literally garlanded in laurels, with a half-full bottle of absinthe nestled among the leaves.

Read more here.

John McKiernan is currently planning an Armistice Day celebration at Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery and is collecting your stories here.

The Peckham Experiment

Space Station Sixty-Five
65 North Cross Road
East Dulwich
If you, as we like art to be prawn cocktail flavour, then you will like this.
Space Station Sixty-Five is a small gallery in East Dulwich, that's currently playing host to an exhibition inspired by 'The Peckham Experiment'.
Although it sounds like a Quatermass sequel about psychological torture, The Peckham Experiment was, according to the exhibitors "a groundbreaking health centre focussing on wellness rather than the later NHS disease model. It existed from 1926 -1950, founded by George Scott Williamson and Innes Hope Pierce. Central to their philosophy was a belief that if left to themselves people would spontaneously begin to organise in a creative way."
A number of artists have been invited to produce work in response to those ideas and Space Station Sixty-Five is showing work by Ellie Harrison and Nick Cobb.
One of Ellie's works is a vending machine, wired to the internet, programmed to release crisps whenever a key word relating to the economy appears on the BBC News website. We forgot to find out why - we were too excited to find a free packet of crisps in the draw - but we like to imagine that it's some sort of satirical point about Robert Peston's undue influence on the markets, or something.
Nick Cobb whittles plastic bottles in to anthropomorphic figures and places them in cardboard streetscapes. Normally, his work only appears in photographs but seen in 3D, you can appreciate how clever and minimalistic it is.
The Peckham Experiment is showing until November 7th, 2009.

Southern Railway - Meet the Manager

Michael Abraham of the Forest Hill Society, which has been a key driver in the campaign against the planned cuts to Southern services for South London writes:

The next Meet the Manager session with Southern Railway is on Thursday 15th October at London Bridge - 0730-0930. Please take a few minutes out of your morning commute to speak to the managers from Southern Railway.

* Ask them why it is Southern customers that must suffer for the rearranged late evening services? Why were South Eastern able to keep all their services to Charing Cross (without adding any additional services)

* Let them know the effect the cuts to off-peak and evening peak services will make to your journey.

* Ask them why 6 trains per hour are needed in the morning and only 4 are needed to go home in the evening

* Ask them why there appears to be a coordinated effort to cut South London train services (Brockley Line, South London Loop, and Bellingham to Victoria), and what this says about their commitment to running passenger services for South Londoners

We hope that as many people as possible can show their concern about these plans.

Evening Standard concedes defeat to Brockley Central

Since relaunching as a free paper, the Evening Standard has given Brockley a wide berth, no-doubt recognising that it cannot compete with the Brockley Central news juggernaut.

Diamond Geezer explains that its distribution strategy is based around zone 1 tube stations while Londonist points out that "all of south-east London except Lewisham is virtually an Evening Standard desert".

And Time Out wonders why the best bloggers are from South East London...

NOSHOW – Ring of ire short-circuits

NOGOE, the campaign group opposed to the use of Greenwich Park as an Olympic venue, staged a protest this weekend, which the BBC reported as “a ring around Greenwich Park.”

Darryl at 853 blog reckons they got a perfectly respectable turnout, but nowhere near the number they would have needed to form a human ring around Greenwich Park. Like the Teabaggers, they overstated their numbers, just as (as 853 blog notes) they have overstated the issues that the Olympics will create in the borough.

BC gets incredibly frustrated with dishonest alarmism from local prostest groups. Ultimately, it's self-defeating. Honesty - on all sides - is always the best policy.

[Londonist has more here]

The Brockley Mess

"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times"?! You stupid monkey!
- Mr Burns

We've been trying to get in to Brockley Mess since it opened, but every time we've passed, it's been full. Or at least, when we've dragged the kids along, the table areas have been packed with wretched Dinkies - boyfriends and girlfriends, barely keeping eachother in-check, talking loudly about how they're going to spend their disposable incomes, so that our children can barely hear themselves think.

The Brockley Mess is a bright, pistachio-coloured, sit-up-straight sort of place, a world away from dark, slouchy old Moonbows, which it replaced. The menu is large and tasty, offering more than just sweet treats.

At the moment, it's a victim of its own success, or rather, the victim of Brockley's failure to cater for latent demand properly. We're not the only ones to have tried and failed to get a table recently - we watched several more walk away frustrated as we sat on the sofa, waiting for one to become free. During the controversy over the application to create a nursery on Manor Avenue, we argued that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the specific proposal, it was undeniable that there is a large and growing number of young families in Brockley, whose needs are not being met. What applies to child care also applies to places to eat, drink and meet.

Although The Brockley Mess is perfectly accommodating to young children, it doesn't go out of its way to court them. There's no specific children's menu, most of the tables are quite close together, providing relatively little wriggle room for toddlers and the surfaces are unyielding. The wine list and the gallery suggest they imagined pulling in a more adult clientele.Nonetheless, at the school gates of our son's school, we've heard plenty of mums talking excitedly about heading straight there as soon as their kids were in class.

 The resentment its popularity with parents has engendered in some former Moonbow regulars in search of a quiet coffee is good news in the long-term, suggesting that plans to create a cafe in Hilly Fields and a tea room in Brockley Cross will be viable. The market in Brockley is big enough to sustain a range of options, if the quality is good enough.

The front of the cafe makes wonderfully efficient use of space - it's hard to believe that it's the same size as Moonbows. The bar has been shortened to provide more seating and two very comfortable booths have been added. The back is a different story. The gallery seems to be ignored by everyone except the management and every day they must have to parents not to park their pushchairs in the empty space, as they did us. Given the overwhelming custom the Mess has attracted since it opened, perhaps it's a conscious decision not to add even more tables.

When it's crowded, as it was on our morning visit, the experience can be fraught. The customers feel squashed, the acoustics make the place pretty noisy and the staff seem stretched. We left after our first drink and retreated to the relative calm of Jam Circus for something to eat. Mindful that a couple of fruit juices isn't really a reasonable basis for a review we went back after lunch, when the place was quieter. It was transformed.

When it's not full to bursting, The Brockley Mess is lovely. The waitress was chatty, the booth was comfy and our order came quickly. There seems to be no dispute among BCers about the quality of the food they serve. We ordered a brownie and a tea cake, which were both delicious (the brownie came in a very generous portion), while the coffee and tea served was lovely.

"Is it always as busy as it was earlier?" we asked the waitress as she took our order. "On weekends yes," she replied smiling, "but if you like it quieter then I recommend you come earlier in the week."

Rhythms Caribbean Restaurant, Brockley Road

Replacing the Brockley Kitchen on Brockley Road, just opposite Adelaide Avenue, Rhythms has recently opened.

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

Up The Line – An Evening Remembrance Performance

A Brockley Central Guest Blog by John McKiernan

Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, SE4 for Armistice

11.11.09 from 7.30 until 8.41 (1 hour 11 minutes)

There is perhaps no event in history that has taught us more about the horror of warfare than the Great War. To avoid repeating the mistakes that led so many people to their deaths, we must remember its lessons.

With the passing of the last witnesses to WWI, it’s important that we find ways to pass on those memories between the generations.

Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery is a beautiful, almost unaltered space, with two very poignant memorials to those who died from their wounds on their return to the UK during WWI. Local men in the main, from early teens to their forties. Many local people know little or nothing of the memorials or those who are engraved on the walls, including those who perished in Deptford during the first London Blitz of WWI from the Zeppelin attacks.

On Armistice Day, November 11th at 7.30 an event is to be held to recognise the sacrifice of these young men and others and the work of those who have tried to keep their memory alive. The intention is to create a simple experience that is sober rather than somber, yet powerful enough to lodge deep in the mind of those who attend. It is not intended as a history lesson but a reflection on history that will be accessible for all ages.

The event will be a lantern-lit walk through the cemetery during darkness and regardless of the weather conditions. The route will be between Brockley Road and the Ladywell gates. Classical musicians and poets will perform recitals of appropriate pieces and writings of the time, while contemporary dance will capture the essence of passing and a silent film and soundscape expressing the 'ordinariness' of how the War became during this period.

The intention is to lodge an experience in the mind that will create questions and leave those present with a lasting memory. I hope that as many families and younger people as possible will come because it’s important that the next generation understands the experiences of the last century. Please come with your friends, family and neighbours, young and old.

I hope that in the days, months and years that follow the audience will occasionally remember beautiful evening they were part of and think again of World War I, the loss it caused and lessons it taught us.

A slow walk will take approximately 25 minutes maximum you can arrive anytime up to 8.25pm. The Rivoli ballroom have kindly offered to open for people to gather to discuss and chat regarding their experience of the evening.

The event is a huge collective effort by the people of Brockley and Ladywell and it would not be possible without the energy and talent of many groups and individuals, including the
Friends of Brockley Ladywell Cemeteries (FoBLC.org), RBL club in Crofton Park, Lewisham Police who will be organising a guard at each entrance, Max Media Arts (Brockley Max), Mr Lawrence's, Rivoli, Oscars of Ladywell, South London Press, Lewisham Council officers, councilors and the mayor, as well as a huge array of talented artists from across London who will be performing in silhouette on the night.

Full details will be on the www.brockleymax.co.uk website and the event is bought to you by Moonbow Jakes events. This is a borough wide event to honour all those who died from and in Lewisham and remembering those from overseas who are also laid to rest on our behalf.

Tea Factory gets makeover

The Tea Factory is one of Brockley's most important developments and was meant to herald the rebirth of Brockley Cross. Despite providing a home for Brockley's community art gallery and securing an architecture practice and a new cafe, it has been let down by the pavement outside, which is in very poor condition and regularly used as a car park.

However, one of the positive consequences of work being "finished" at Brockley Station is that it will enable work to begin on fixing the Tea Factory's front garden.

Lewisham Council confirmed in a letter to Cllr Dean Walton that:

Planning permission for the Tea Factory development was granted subject to a S106 Agreement. The Council will carry out a complete reconstruction of the footway outside the Tea Factory, using funding from the Section 106 agreement, after the footbridge accessing Brockley Station has been re-opened.

When the footway is reconstructed we will remove the existing vehicular crossovers and also resurface the forecourt area. We intend to use a high kerb face and bollards at either end of the new footway to prevent drivers accessing the area for parking.

This is great news and will hopefully be followed by more extensive work to improve the roads and pavements in the immediate area. At long last, we may see the transformation of Brockley Cross.

The Brockley Jack Film Club

The Brockley Jack Film Club has launched a new website, celebrating its successful first year.

Based at the Brockley Jack theatre, the Club shows at least one film every month for eleven months of the year. Organiser Gregor has displayed impeccable taste and judgement co-ordinating the programme, blending classics like Night of the Hunter and North by Northwest with the best of modern international cinema, like Man on Wire and Couscous.

The Club offers members the opportunity to select some of the films shown and gives a platform for local film makers to show their work.

Light blue touchpaper and withdraw

Here is a story about prejudice that reinforces several other prejudices about Christian fundamentalists, Council workers and lawyers.

Pink News reports that:

"A Christian council worker who was sacked for sending a homophobic email is suing her former employers.

"Denise Haye, 25, worked at Lewisham Council’s legal services department.

Last September, she used her work email address to send an email to Rev Sharon Ferguson, head of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
She wrote that Rev Ferguson should be "ashamed" of herself and that homosexuality was "not normal" and a sin. Citing the importance of repenting in the "last days", Haye added, in capitals, "the wages of sin is death".

The email was raised with Lewisham Council and Haye is now taking Lewisham Council to court for unfair dismissal. She was suspended for six months and then dismissed.

Her 'case' is based on the notion that as she sent the email 'out of hours', she should be entitled to express her own opinions. The time she sent the email? 4.59pm.

Her lawyer is from the Christian Legal Centre and thinks that if her views are based on religious teachings she's free to abuse whom she pleases.

Lewisham Council has said it cannot comment while the case is ongoing.

£50,000 secured for Hilly Fields Playground makeover

Some great news from the Friends and Users of Hilly Fields group, who have secured the £50k they were looking for to redevelop the playground. Click here to see their plans.

They write:

"Our community engagement event was held in the playground on a windy Saturday morning on 6th June, coinciding with the Brockley Max event. We had lots of positive feedback and support, so thank you to everyone. All the hard work has paid off, the stage 2 application was submitted in mid August and the Friends were notified of their success at the end of September. We were awarded the full £49,999."

Congratulations to the team on what will be a really exciting project for Brockley.

Gone in 30 seconds: First East London Line train journeys from New Cross Gate to Dalston [Updated]

BBC London has footage of the first test voyage of a train on the new East London Line, travelling from New Cross Gate to Dalston on Monday.

The high-speed video shows the journey in 32 seconds. One of the criticisms occasionally levelled at the new line is that it relies too heavily on old infrastructure (as if reusing existing facilities to keep costs down and avoid carving up new parts of the city was a bad thing), but this video shows just how much construction work has been involved.

The BBC reports that the train travelled at 10mph and that "there will now be a few months of track testing at increased speeds until the line, running between Dalston Junction and West Croydon, opens to the public in the spring of 2010 [slightly earlier than originally expected]."

UPDATE: Leading travel blog London Reconnections has more details and a few shots of the train in action.

Brockley Badger knows what he likes

The artist behind Badger may have departed SE4, but his creation's soul remains in Brockley.

Here he is admiring the Getliffe mural so beloved by Brockley folk.

You can follow Badger's adventures here.

High tea for Hilly Fields [updated]

The prospect of a café in Hilly Fields is getting closer.

Lewisham Council is keen to replicate the success of Hither Green’s Manor House Gardens, which features a busy café that encourages greater use of the park and creates a focus for young families in the area. We understand that they have been investigating how the formula could be applied to other parks in the borough, including Hilly Fields.

The idea makes perfect sense. We've argued before that the miserable, neglected toilet block could be replaced by a cafe, with a duty to provide public toilets (and perhaps a drinking fountain). As the early success the Brockley Mess has had in attracting young families suggests, there is plenty of demand for a facility like this, so a cafe could be self-sustaining and offer parents of young children a place to take the kids where they can play relatively freely, nearby the newly-refurbished playground.

The site of the toilet block has been targeted for redevelopment and exploratory discussions have taken place. While the Council would fund the cafe's construction, a private operator would run the cafe itself.

"The provision of a cafe on Hilly Fields is currently under consideration. Should the Council eventually be in a position to obtain funding for the cafe it will discuss the options with the Friends of Hilly Fields to see how it can be taken forward."

We spoke to one person with experience of operating a similar cafe, who said:

"Brockley would be great. The demographics are perfect and Hilly Fields is right in the middle of a large residential area with lots of young families."

If the Council finds the money for the up-front investment it could deliver long-term benefits for the community and a new revenue stream in perpetuity, while lowering maintenance costs for the public toilets. We await the results of their investigations with interest.

The Royal George, Tanners Hill

A small, handsome Samuel Smiths pub, dominated by its bar and featuring a mix of regulars and arts tourists exploring Tanners Hill.

Last time we passed, we heard a gentleman from the former group telling someone who appeared to be from the latter group that 'people around here look after one-another' - which is what you want from a traditional boozer.

TfL: 'No Need for the South London Line'

The South London Press today reports that TfL believes there is no 'practical or economic case' to reinstate plans to create a Victoria to Bellingham service to replace the lost South London Line. The route would have served Crofton Park.

The report adds:

"But Ian Brown, managing director of London Rail – part of Transport for London (TfL) – said he would make it “a priority” to mitigate the loss of the South London Line (SLL)."

These plans will be presented in November.

Click here for the full story.

The Albany Theatre, Deptford: Disco Dayz

Did you just let Screech in the club? I'm waiting in line and you just let Screech in the club?
- Ricky, Made

Disco Dayz is a monthly disco for under 7s that takes place at The Albany Theatre as part of their Family Sundays programme.

Running for three hours from 2-5pm, we were fearful that it would be a tape loop of the Tweenies, but the play list is mercifully adult, with everything from Gilles Peterson to Air, it's by far the most credible club night we've been to in about five years.

The Albany was tricked out like a Legoland Clapham Grand, with child-friendly psychedelics, smoke machines, bean bags and glow sticks.

At five quid a head for anyone above toddling age, it isn't especially cheap but it's closer in feel to a children's party than a disco, with games, conga lines and an ending borrowed from Whirl-Y-Gig: the kids lie on their backs while a parachute is fluctuated above their heads to a Moby soundtrack.

Most of the adults present were dancing unselfconsciously, meaning that we were able to bequeath our best moves to our son before he got too old to know any better. Having said that, be warned, we spotted two other Brockleyites on the dance floor and at one point one of them pulled up to us and said: "Your credibility is blown forever."

The next Disco Dayz is November 1st. Check The Albany website for details closer to the time.

Brockley runners

With the nights getting longer, local runner Memuna is looking for others to join her in runs around Brockley. She writes:

I'd be looking at running in Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields - any of our local, easy to get to parks.
I do around 4-5 miles at 10 and a half minutes a mile as a regular - so I'm a very average runner.
I am already part of a running group which meets on Tuesday in Dulwich. That's great, but it would be wonderful to find runners locally so that I can do local runs too. I see lots of people running around Hilly Fields and the locality and presume that they, like me, enjoy running, but find running at night in the dark a less than inviting prospect.

The format would be to meet at an agreed point, agree the run route and set off with run rules being that no one is left behind or left alone.

If anyone reading this is interested, please email me here.

WP Stone Cold

In ancient times... Hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing. But their legacy remains. Hewn into the living rock... Of Stonehenge.
- Spinal Tap

The application to demolish most of the WP Stone site on Tyrwhitt Road has been approved. We've written about the proposals here, but the summary on the Lewisham Planning website is as follows:

The demolition of the existing building of W. P. Stone Ltd, adjacent to 1 Tyrwhitt Road (also known as 2a Pretoria Parade) SE4 and the construction of a three storey building, plus basement and roof space, comprising 6, two bedroom, self-contained flats and 2, two bedroom, self-contained maisonettes, together with associated landscaping and provision of refuse/cycle stores and a car parking space.

Thanks to Bob for reminding us.

Lizzie Eats Le Querce

Leading London food blogger (and New Cross denizen) Hollow Legs is the latest person to give Le Querce the thumbs up. You can read her verdict here.

Spoiler alert:

"Whilst I wouldn't recommend you hike across London to visit if you lived in, say North West London, it's a great neighbourhood restaurant for us South East dwellers and somewhere I'll definitely return."

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Local portrait artist James Allen is just one of an exciting new generation of artists in Brockley. He grew up in the area, but moved to Cardiff to study for a degree in fine art. He's now back here, building his portfolio.

James kindly agreed to answer a few questions for Brockley Central ...

You participated in Brockley Open Studios this year, what did you think of the experience?

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people that came to see my work, the positive response and that so many local people are interested enough in art to support the Brockley Open Studios.

You have family connections in Brockley; did you grow up here? Are you still based here?

Yes I have always lived in Brockley. After leaving university in Cardiff I returned to Brockley.

What first interested you in art as a career, and what training and experience have you had?

I've always drawn since I could hold a pencil and after I completed my fine art degree in Cardiff, I knew that painting was the one thing I wanted to do. Towards the end of my time at Cardiff, I became more and more interested in painting people. I won the Harry Holland prize for best figurative artist. I began to get commissions for portraits which I found I really enjoyed.

Brockley has a reputation for its artistic community, was this a factor in you developing into an artist?

No, I wasn't really aware that there was such a thriving artistic community until the Open Studios event.

How would you describe your work's style and themes, and what are your inspirations?

I don't think of my work being in any particular style, but I am heavily influenced by Velazquez and John Singer Sargent, so I like to employ the same techniques as they used. The themes are mainly portraits, modern images in a classical setting. On a recent trip to California though, I began painting landscapes.

Will you be participating in Open Studios next year, and do you have any other local exhibitions or events planned?

Definitely, it's proved to be one of the most useful outlets for showing my work yet. I don't have any exhibitions planned very locally, but the last couple of years I've had paintings accepted for display by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the Discerning Eye exhibition, both held at the Mall Gallery so I'll continue to submit for those exhibitions. I have a solo exhibition planned at the SaLon Gallery in Westbourne Grove early next year.

Anyone interested in commissioning James can contact him via his website.
Many thanks to James for permission to use some of his works in this post.