Southern and Southeastern announce provisional strike timetables

Southern have announced that their service will be slightly worse than usual next week, in the event of a strike.

According to the website, There will be no trains to or from Brockley on the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th of April.

Southeastern do better and will be operating a limited service of two trains per hour at Crofton Park, St Johns, Lewisham and New Cross.

Social History

The Gangs of London website is a lovingly-maintained map of the capital, with a helpful guide to local gangs.

Brockley Central reader Paul pointed us towards the entry for Lewisham. It's an interesting bit of local history and it's worth checking out. the entry for the "Blue Borough" as patriotic local gang members call it, perhaps as a tribute to our famous bins.

According to the site:

"The most prominent gang areas in Blue Borough were organised around New Cross, Deptford and Brockley, those being the Ghetto Boys and Brockley Mandem."

These gangs have a long heritage, with common roots in the Milton Estate, New Cross. The only local school which gets a mention in the gangs' history is Crofton School (now Prendergast - Ladywell Fields College).

Brockley Mandem was centred around the Turnham Estate, in the west side of Brockley, near the border with Honor Oak. As is so often the case, the younger generation sought to express their own identity and became known as the Younger Brockley Mandem and - sometimes - Younger Brockley Boys. The baton has recently been handed to a newer generation, who've renamed themselves the Turnham Gang or Team Brockley.

Brock Mania

Perhaps we have gone too far.

We've been tweeted by a BC reader, asking what we think of Forest Hill as an alternative to Brockley.

After weeks of trying to find a place in SE4, she "pitched up last Saturday to view a house only to be met with a load of identikit young childless couples (us included), practically queueing to get in."

"As you know, it's a nice area with lush houses, zone 2 with the East London Line coming, perfect for us EC1 workers looking for the quiet life. But perhaps we have just been priced out of Brockley now."

If anyone else is househunting in the area at the moment, please let us know if you've had the same experience.

Anatomy of Lewisham

The Lewisham Core Strategy document contains some interesting facts about the borough:

Size and population

Lewisham is London's third largest borough, by both population and area (13.4 square km).

The population is expected to grow from 260,000 in 2006 to 320,000 in 2031.


The number of Lewisham residents in employment grew by 2,700 between 2000 and 2005, but unemployment in 2009 was 7.8%, slightly higher than the London average of 7.4%.

49,091 of Lewisham's commuters travel to London Bridge and the west end, 11,952 head to east to Canary Wharf and almost as many (10,555) head south to destinations like Croydon.

One third of jobs in Lewisham are in the public sector. Lewisham Council describes local jobs as being of relatively low value on average.

Lewisham's industrial base shrank by a third between 2000 and 2004 and the supply of commercial property has fallen since the 1980s.

Open space

One fifth of the borough is parkland or open space, but Telegraph Hill and Brockley wards are both relatively poorly served (Hilly Fields is in Ladywell ward).


73% of household waste is incinerated. 22% is recycled or composted.


There is room for further capacity growth on the DLR service to Lewisham, if demand justifies the remodelling of a section of the line in Canary Wharf.

Consultation on the future of Lewisham

Brockley: Mostly harmless

Lewisham residents who want to submit their views on Lewisham's Core Strategy have until April 6th. The document that "sets out the vision, objectives, strategy and policies that will guide public and private sector investment to manage development and regeneration in the borough over the next 15 years."

The document is very broad brush - rather than going in to detail about any area of Lewisham, it explains the Council's ambitions for each part of the borough and its approach to issues like climate change, waste management and provision of public space.
This link summarises the key drivers that the Council thinks will shape the future of the borough.

Crucially, the document shows how Brockley figures in Lewisham Council's thinking, which is not a lot. New Cross, Deptford, Lewisham and Catford are the areas of greatest development potential and are therefore the focus for much of the document. It's no slight on SE4 that we merit relatively few mentions, simply a reflection of the fact that the majority of new houses and jobs will be created in these four areas.

Lewisham Council intends to exceed the number of new houses that the Mayor's London Plan requires of the borough. The anticipated breakdown of new homes is as follows:

2,600 will be distributed within the Lewisham Town Centre
1,750 will be distributed within the Catford Town Centre
10,625 will be distributed within Deptford and New Cross
3,190 will be distributed across the remainder of the borough
This is fine, because there's plenty of undeveloped land in London's least-densely populated inner city borough, with the caveat that the Council needs to get its act together on school, health and leisure facility provision.

Brockley's fate is to maintain two "vibrant hubs", in the form of Brockley Cross and Crofton Park. There is a recognition that more needs to be done to support local shops and attract small businesses, in particular from the creative industries, such as design, architecture, animation and performance art. The logical conclusion is that they should support the planning application for Martin's Yard and invest to provide a high-quality high street environment, which will attract more new shops, while supporting local arts and culture to strengthen the community of local artists and creative entrepreneurs.

The Brockley Society has produced a very helpful guide, which highlights the most relevant parts of the document and explains how to have your say.
Here are some of the most pertinent things that the Core Strategy has to say about Lewisham, Deptford, New Cross and Brockley:

Lewisham Town Centre

Lewisham Town Centre will continue as the borough's principal town centre. The aspiration for Lewisham Town Centre to achieve Metropolitan status, adding at least 20,000 square metres.

Lewisham Gateway will act as a catalyst for regeneration of the town centre providing up to 100,000 square metres of retail, business, residential (approximately 800 new flats), educational, health and leisure uses, with new road layout, parking, servicing, associated infrastructure and improvements to the public transport interchange, as well as open space and improvements to the River Ravensbourne.

Deptford Town Centre

The Deptford Town Centre is designated as a District Town Centre. It will continue to be a focus for the local community providing a range of high street and independent shops. The Giffin Street site adjoining the town centre will see a major public square at the heart of Deptford, strengthening the attraction of the High Street, and provision made for a new replacement Tidemill School, library and community space, and additional employment space and housing. The new Deptford Station will provide a new square connecting to Deptford High Street and improve station accessibility. The Deptford High Street Conservation Area will be retained and development will need to retain or enhance its characteristics.

New Cross

The existing New Cross District Centre is combined with the adjoining New Cross Gate to become a larger district centre within the retail hierarchy. Its role within the night economy and relationship to the adjoining Goldsmiths College contribute to the area's vitality and viability. With the opportunities at the existing New Cross Gate Sainsbury’s store and the improvements to both New Cross and New Cross Gate rail stations, combining the two centres will help strengthen their role and function to provide goods and services to the local area. The Telegraph Hill and Hatcham Conservation Areas covering the 'high street' along New Cross Road will be retained and development will need to retain or enhance their characteristics.


Brockley Cross is a small but significant neighbourhood area with an important transport junction, local shopping parades along Brockley Road and station approach. The immediate area around Brockley Station and the busy road junction at the northern end of Brockley Road, and to the west of the railway line, has a cluster of sites developed with industrial and warehousing uses. These sites provide opportunities for smaller scale mixed use development which would allow a comprehensive improvement to the immediate environs in order to increase the area's attractiveness, vitality and viability. Part of the Hub bounded by Coulgate Street and Brockley Road falls within the Brockley Conservation Area.

The Brockley Cross and Hither Green Local Hubs have a number of small business premises and sites that are too small to merit designation as Local Employment Locations. Many of these sites do not contribute to the quality of the urban environment as they are closed off, inaccessible, do not provide passive surveillance and lead to a barren and depleted visual experience. The Council will seek to ensure that mixed use development on these sites at Brockley Cross and Hither Green will provide new premises for small non-retail businesses, as well as residential uses in support of the objectives for these Local Hubs, while retaining the areas dedicated to B Use Classes at the Local Employment Locations.

In Brockley Cross and Hither Green the Council will seek to retain shops where the continuation in this use is considered to be economically viable.

Good Friday at the Herne Hill Velodrome

BC regular Pete has been in touch about this event he's involved with:

The 107th Good Friday cycling meet will take place this Friday at historic Herne Hill Velodrome in Burbage Road, Dulwich.

Currently London’s only velodrome, the track was originally built in the late 19th century and used in both the 1908 and 1948 London Olympic Games.

It is the only surviving finals venue from the 1948 Olympics still in active use, and is open to everyone from beginners to Olympic medallists and 2012 hopefuls between March and October each year.

Organiser Graham Bristow has added an exciting event to this year’s competition; the resurrection of the art of penny farthing track racing. Riders from The Veteran Cycle Club will compete for the One Mile Old Ordinary Challenge Cup, in what is the 100th anniversary of the year that the race was first held, bringing back to Herne Hill a once popular form of track cycling.

In a first for the event we’ll also play host to 2012 Paralympic tandem hopefuls. The tandem race will feature para-cyclists from Britain, the Czech Republic and Spain. Uniquely this race has a visually impaired rider on the back piloted or steered by a fully sighted rider on the front. We’ll also welcome Paralympics Gold medal winner Jody Cundy who will race against able bodied riders in the individual sprint races.

This year’s Good Friday event brings not only the usual raft of international track stars from our own Rob Hayles (World, Commonwealth and Olympic medallist) to multi world champion in Scratch and Madison Franco Marvulli, who is coming to Good Friday for the first time.

The gates open at 9.30am. Preliminary qualifying time trials and heats start at 10.30am and the main meeting begins at 1pm. Weather permitting, the last race – the Golden Wheel, which Briton Rob Hayles hopes to win, should end the meet at about 5.30pm.

The definitive guide to Oyster

Richard Hibbert, of The Forest Hill Society has produced this users' guide to Oyster. Most crucially, given the overcharging that many experienced when it was first introduced at the beginning of the year, the appeals process is as follows:

If you feel that you have been overcharged, you should allow 48 hours before calling the Oyster helpline on 0845 330 9876 between 8am and 8pm. It is also possible to call TfL during office hours on 020 7222 5600 (ask for Oystercard Ticketing & Refunds) to avoid these charges if your calling plan includes geographic numbers.

Brockley Common update

The Brockley Cross Action Group get stuck in

Izz and Tess, with the other women-workers, in their whitey-brown pinners, stood waiting and shivering… By the engine stood a dark motionless being, a sooty and grimy embodiment of tallness, in a sort of trance, with a heap of coals by his side: it was the engineman. He was in the agricultural world, but not of it. He served fire and smoke; these denizens of the fields served vegetation, weather, frost, and sun…

- Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

Respect due to the Brockley Cross Action Group volunteers, who have taken in to their own hands the task of clearing up Brockley Common and turning the station in to something we can be proud of.

Yesterday, they were out in the cold, doing backbreaking work on the soil as the trains trundled by, to prepare the way for the planting which is due to take place over Easter.

Question Time

Marketer: So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth show… that’s completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots
Kids: Yay!
Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching!
Meyers: You kids don’t know what you want! That’s why you’re still kids: cause you’re stupid! Just tell me what’s wrong with the freaking show!
- The Simpsons

The local and general elections are so close, we can smell them. Nationally, it’s being talked about as the first Facebook election. Locally, it’s the first Brockley Central election. We’ll be doing our best to cover the major political developments in Brockley and the wider Lewisham area.

Most excitingly, the candidates for both the Lewisham Mayoral elections and the Lewisham Deptford parliamentary constituency from the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green parties have agreed to take part in our pre-election coverage.

To help us put our questions for the candidates together, please post your suggestions for the topics that matter most to you. Whether it’s the future of Gordonbrock, PFI housing contracts, Lewisham Gateway or how national government should manage the economy for the benefit of local people. Please let us have the questions that we should be asking our local or national candidates.

Closing date for suggestions is Friday (April 2nd).

Thanks – the next few weeks should be fun.

Simulacra and Brockley Station

"We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning."
- Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

Baskets of plastic flowers have appeared at Brockley Station, as illustrated by this photo, courtesy of reader 'b.' We particularly like the juxtaposition with the security cameras and the concrete hut. It may be a case of pig-lipsticking and they may be fake, but we still quite like them.

Also, is it just us, or are the station managers taking a more relaxed attitude towards opening the bottom gate since this little episode?

Ladywell conservation area to be created

Green Ladywell reports that following consultation with local residents, the area of Ladywell bordering Hilly Fields will become a conservtion area, effectively extending the boundary of the the Brockley conservation area, which it will neighbour.

The roads involved are Algiers Road, Gillian Street and sections of Embleton Road, Ermine Road, Algernon Road, Ladywell Road and Vicar's Hill. The majority of houses on these streets were built by Lewisham local developer Samuel J. Jerrard through the 1880s and 1890s.

Romance at Tank Gallery

Tank Gallery curator Aoife has succeeded in attracting a great range of work to the Ladywell space since it opened last year - producing a range of exhibitions which we've not kept pace with.

Now, she's working with Ambit (the arts magazine that helped launch the careers of JG Ballard, Peter Blake and Carol Ann Duffy, among others) and south London publishers Tlön Books to hold an event with three poets to celebrate the exhibited work The Romance.

On April 13th, at 7pm, the author of The Romance; an episode in the life of a young writer and other works, Jason Shelley, will perform the first-ever public reading of The Romance while writers Richard Dyer and Judy Brown will read from their latest works.

The Brockley Central Interview: Richard Salthouse, The Royal Albert

The Royal Albert Pub
460 New Cross Road

Since the flurry of pub news in the second half of last year, the local scene’s been a little quiet. But Richard, the former manager of Jam Circus, has taken over at the Royal Albert, which is almost as exciting as getting a brand new pub. We asked him how he planned to try to make a good pub great.

Tell us about the Royal Albert please

It’s a very old pub smartened up, but with some endearing fraying around the edges. It’s very pretty to look at - leather sofas, small tables and taxidermy at the front and ‘proper’ tables to the back, by an open kitchen. It’s low-lit, kitsch, a little cheeky and quite laid-back; it’s a genuinely friendly pub.

Customers are a mix of local professionals, ‘creatives’ and students, with a family element on weekends. Knowing full well this will sound pretentious, the local scene fostered by Goldsmith’s students and the arts and music crowd do give the pub that little bit of edge; we can’t take ourselves too seriously.

A lot of customers love their ale – we have four hand pumps, so guest ales change weekly, plus the ‘house’ Brakspear is a decent £2.50.

Food is a short menu of simple, quality homemade dishes – a good mix of small dishes and mains, plus the obligatory Sunday roast. There are changes coming in the kitchen, but I answer that further down.

We’re minutes away from Tanner’s Hill and Deptford market, so meat has always come from Bill at Wellbeloved’s, who’s great for an interesting cut once in a while, and fish from The Codfather. Events-wise, we can get really busy on certain nights, but you’ve asked me about those lower down.

Now you’re in charge, what will you be doing differently?

Our two big projects are to improve the front area with plants and new seating, and to knock through inside to the shop next door, which will add a third again to the size. Both depend on our company’s schedule, but I’ll be pushing for the front to be finished before the peak of summer and knocking through I hope can be done this year. More bands, DJs and events should be scheduled by late spring/early summer.

The previous head chef, Kevin was a popular chap around these parts. But, he’s off for pastures new within the company, so we now have Theo, whose background is top restaurants (Park Lane Hotel, Atlantic Bar, Coast, etc.) Theo will step up the quality and consistency of the food without it being overcomplicated or overly costly. He believes in using predominantly British seasonal ingredients, having a short menu that changes on at least a weekly basis and is a big fan of seafood and healthy options. He’s a pastry chef by trade, so I expect some impressive desserts.

Over the past 2 years I’ve become a coffee obsessive/bore and I plan to bring the coffee here to a very high standard at some point. Once some of the more pressing issues are dealt with I’ll be cracking on with the coffee; guys like Ross at Brown’s and Lysney and Neil of Exchange Coffee at Lewisham Market have shown there’s a place for speciality coffee in the area.

As well as all of that we’ll be looking at offering a short cocktail list at all times over the next couple of months, plus we have local designer Robin Stannard ( working on a logo, menus, flyers and all other things paper, and a photographer called Ewa taking snaps such as the one in this article. We’re already on twitter ( and will be getting an email newsletter up and running very soon.

What will the balance between food and drink be?

We're a pub first and foremost, so the primary aim is to be a great place to come for a drink. That said, we’re looking to attract to attract more diners. We don’t want to alienate customers who just want a pint or a glass of wine, so we’ll have plenty of small options on the menu as well as substantial mains.

As good as our food will be I don’t see us as a destination eatery for foodies, other than those who live in the area.

You hosted a lot of live music at Jam Circus, are you planning the same at The Royal Albert?

Holly has established Thursday as the night for live music and Fridays and Saturdays for DJs. They've been hugely popular and Friday is usually by far our busiest night, but we're looking now to add some variety to the bands and, to a lesser extent, the DJs. We're hopeful by late spring we'll have a line-up to tell people about (any local bands do get in touch!)

What about other events?

We have a Monday night pub quiz. For as long as I've known this pub the quiz has been a bit different to the rest - there's a creative round (plasticine masterpieces, etc) and a challenge round (paper aeroplane throwing, etc). We're also looking at throwing an early summer party just for fun. Plus, we're open to other events such as Deptford X festival, etc.

Who’s in charge of Jam Circus now? Is it in good hands?

Katje has moved up from assistant manager to head honcho and supervisor Sam to deputy honcho, plus May remains the head chef, so very good hands indeed. They're really pushing the live music and DJ aspect and have already had some extremely busy weeks. The staff at Jam Circus are the finest group of people I've worked with and I consider them all good friends; five of them have been there for over 3 years now and I know they will all care for it as if it were their own. I ask for regular updates!

Have newcomers like The Orchard and The Talbot made life tougher for you?

I would usually say no, as competition in such under-served healthy and helps keeps more people local. However, I don't think enough people living at the Lewisham Way end of Brockley have known about The Royal Albert, what we offer, or how close we are and they are some of the people I need to reach. Now that they have The Talbot and The Orchard nearby that will be more difficult for us. Both are fairly food-focused, so we’ll have healthy competition for diners, and our late hours might mean we can attract a few more for drinks. I have no complaints though; they’re both great for the area and less than 5 minutes from my flat!

Do you think we'll see more pubs and bars open in the area in the next couple of years?

Yes, but I struggle to think where. Premises are unlikely become available and Deptford's high street area isn't the most attractive. The future of Brockley has to begin at Brockley Cross, forming a cohesive mini high street with Brockley Road, but we rely on the road layout being improved for anything to change.

Given an available shop and an intelligent owner willing to invest, I see a good restaurant doing roaring trade on Brockley Road. Deptford I think will go down the café/coffee route on and around the high street - I don't see many restaurants and bars until the area smartens up, which it will do with the completion of the new developments, the station upgrade and the ELL at new cross.

Gordonbrock School - Nightmares of Futures Past


When Brockley Central worked at The Football Association, many years ago, the organisation was involved with trying to rebuild Wembley Stadium. After years of work by architects, planners, bankers and lawyers, work looked set to begin.

Then, the Sports Minister Kate Hoey decided that she didn't like it because it wasn't optimised for athletics - all designs are compromise, and since athletics doesn't generally attract big crowds, sticking an athletics track around the pitch didn't make a lot of sense. She demanded a review, which delayed the project by about a year, during which time, groups came forward with "alternative designs" none of which was more than a drawing of a stadium and a dot on a map. These hypothetical alternatives attracted a great deal of public support because the people proposing them could promise anything. Half the cost! Ten thousand more seats! Loads more parking! A futuristic design!

The review concluded that the original plans were the right ones all along. Tens of millions of pounds were added to the cost of the project as a result of the lengthy delay.


Ute Michel has written a very comprehensive account of the meeting she attended about the future of Gordonbrock School yesterday.

Crucial passages include:

The Council is committed to the Gordonbrock project as planned and officers continue to work on it in light of the new circumstances and new timeframe... the whole planning process has to be completed again and the decant would be more likely to take place in December/January. If the legal challenge were to be withdrawn the decant could probably happen in time for September...

The delay also adds pressure on the Council's provision of primary places as Gordonbrock won't be able to go up to 3 form entry from September as would have been possible with the planned decant to Greenvale. This shortage is substantial in the whole borough and the Council has to take this into account when planning future provision of primary school places.

This. Is. Brockley.

Following the debate on this thread, here is Brockley as seen through Brockley Central-tinted spectacles.

As far as we're concerned, the areas are defined by the stations we're near and the spheres of influence we share. North Brockley is influenced by New Cross and Deptford, Central Brockley by Lewisham and Ladywell, Crofton Park by Catford and Honor Oak and West Brockley by Nunhead, Honor Oak and Telegraph Hill. Ward boundaries and conservation areas are relatively meaningless.

We look forward to being told how wrong we are.

Car Clubs

By the mid-century, 80% of people will be urban dwellers. Brand thinks this is good for both town and country. Nature will reclaim the countryside while cities will brim with creative ingenuity, because proximity is what generates prosperity.
- Matt Ridley, The Times

A younger generation in the US — unsure about finding a job after high school or college — is also far less likely to see car ownership as a rite of passage.
- Suzanne Goldenberg, 6 January 2010

There is mounting evidence to suggest that in the developed world, we have hit "peak cars". The number of cars in Japan has been in long-term decline since the 1990s, in the US there has been a net reduction in the number of cars over the last few years.

Rising fuel taxes, the economic downturn and uncertainty over what types of vehicle technology will dominate (electric, fuel cell or hybrid) have suppressed demand but the most important long-term trend is the fact that more and more of us are living in cities.

Even if you live in a city, cars can be incredibly useful for certain types of journey. But these types of journey are not the sort you take regularly. The average car owner uses their car less than one hour day - much less if you live in a city.

City dwellers have to weigh-up these limited benefits of car ownership against not only the price, but the hassle of ownership. And it's the latter that's the bigger issue, because driving has become relatively cheaper (compared with public transport and as a proportion of average income), year after year.

Whereas cars used to represent freedom, today they represent the hassle of parking, congestion, road tax, car crime, maintenance and a host of other irritations.

So cars are useful. Car ownership is a pain.

That's why car clubs are such a smart idea. They recognise that cars are very useful for some journeys that public transport is very bad at, but that we haven't got enough space in crowded cities for lots of cars. But we don't need lots of cars, because the ones we've got are used less than 1/24th of the time that they could be.

Car clubs like Streetcar and Zip Car are a godsend to Councils, who get paid for setting up bays too. They should be falling over themselves to create new bays for them, not just as part of new developments, but in established town centres like Brockley. We recently reported a planned expansion by Streetcar in Lewisham and we hope and expect that they will get all the support they need from the Council.

However, if car clubs help to free up more pavement-side space in the area, it creates a new problem - at least for the areas around stations like St Johns, Crofton Park, Ladywell and, in particular Brockley. Because fewer local people owning cars means more local parking, which is currently unregulated, which means more places being taken by commuters, driving in to the area from elsewhere, to take advantage of Zone 2 tube fares. It also means more spaces for van-hire companies that treat the area like their private lot, parking their grotty vehicles on residential streets and paying nothing for the privilege.

Parking enforcement in the area is still appalling in Brockley, with cars parked in the middle of pavements or double-parked at busy junctions on a regular basis. Why, we don't know, because dishing out a few tickets ought to be a money spinner and a vote winner for the Council. Vehicle rental companies ought not to be given planning permission to operate from any office they choose either.

So, when Lewisham Council is negotiating with the car clubs, they should be targeting areas like Brockley Cross, Coulgate Street and Brockley Road - giving prime spots to car clubs that perform a vital public service and pay their way. If that makes life more difficult for free-riders, so much the better.

Block wars

Any Brockley resident knows that it doesn't matter where you live in Brockley, the important thing is to live here.

But we get asked fairly regularly by out of towners which is the best place to live in Brockley.

Now, we're always reluctant to answer that question, partly out of a desire to remain impartial and partly because we don't want to be held responsible if they move somewhere and get burgled the next day.

So we'd like to crowd source this question from you lot. There have been many debates scattered across the site, but we have never settled the matter, once and for all!

The choices are:

West Brockley - the delights of Nunhead are on your doorstep, the streets are quiet and you have the Broca Food Market. Plenty of family-sized houses.

North Brockley and St John's - New Cross, Deptford and a host of transport options are yours to choose from. Lewisham Way is your high street and Meze Mangal is great, if you're prepared to overlook the sea container parked outside.

Central Brockley - representing most of the conservation area - wide streets, grand houses and access to Hilly Fields and Brockley Station, Coulgate Street and of course the delights of Brockley Cross and Brockley Road.

Crofton Park - a great high street with a choice of Honor Oak or Brockley for the East London Line. A theatre, a ballroom and a library, as well as a bank. Low crime rates.

And of course, you can explain why Ladywell, Brockley Rise and Telegraph Hill are best if you like.

And to readers, curious about Brockley, we wish you our kind of success.

Dad's Conference 2010, March 27th

Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called 'Being a Father' so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.
- Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dad's Conference is a free programme of events taking place at Myatt Garden school on March 27th, from 9.30am until 3pm.

It’s open to male carers including dads, granddads, uncles, stepdads, brothers and their families.

Organised jointly by Lewisham Children’s Centres and the Pre-school Learning Alliance, the aim is to raise the profile of men as positive role models in children’s lives.

Speakers will include the Mayor of Lewisham, local dads and Tim Neville, Fathers Development Officer for Lewisham Children’s Centres. There will be workshops around healthy eating, storytelling with your child, sports activities and bush craft activities.

Partners and children are welcome to attend from 12 noon onwards for a free lunch and fun activities including entertainers, a 40 foot climbing wall, bouncy castles and music.

9.30am Speakers
11.10am Workshops – includingBushcraft, sports skills, cooking and salsa 12.00pm Lunch
1.00pm Activities including bouncy castles, a climbingwall, sport activities, and entertainment, music and much more.

To book a place, contact the Pre-school Learning Alliance on 020 8695 5955.

Lewisham Council's support is aimed at to encouraging more fathers to use children's centres, where men are typically underrepresented.

There are a number of fathers and male carer groups in the borough – some attached to schools, others attached to nurseries and children’s centres. For further information, contact Tim Neville on 07947 475064 or email:

Greenwich Park confirmed as Olympic venue

Remiss of us not to mention this earlier, but following a lengthy public meeting yesterday, plans to use Greenwich Park to host the equestrian events for the London 2012 Olympic games, have been approved by Greenwich Council. It looks as though what we hoped would happen, will.

Blackheath Bugle has a very balanced summary of the issue. Intrepid blogger Adam Bienkov provided the most colourful live commentary via Twitter, including this gem:

@AdamBienkov We're now in the Tudor bricks, Roman graves, horses falling down holes, moonbat section of the presentation.

Brockley Nature Reserve Open Days

Helen, from the London Wildlife Trust, has been in touch to let us know about the new, regular opening hours for the Brockley Nature Reserve, Vesta Road.

It's open every second Saturday of the month, between 12pm and 5pm. The Reserve is open to all but tricky to navigate for wheelchair and buggy users, due to the uneven paths.

They're also looking for volunteers to help keep the reserve clean and tidy and keep the paths clear of vegetation. If you're interested, please click here to get in touch via email.

Costa Smerelda, Nunhead

Costa Smerelda is a new pizza restaurant and bar on Nunhead Lane, run by established local entrepreneur Dick Daly.

Telegraph Hill networker Sara has tipped us off to the fact that the place is expanding, with the opening of the back room on March 27th.

To mark the occasion, the restaurant will be hosting a a night of music from Little Devils - entrance is free and the music starts around 9pm.

Riding the rail

A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status -- all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremendous sexual event really: a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing).
- JG Ballard

We've been accused of being too involved with the East London Line to see its faults, but dammit, love is blind.

Fellow mechaphiliac Graham knows how to push our buttons and has sent this money shot of an ELL train gliding in to our station.

Graham got up specially early on a Saturday morning to take this picture, risking his marriage for the love that dare not speak its name.


London 2012 ticket registration site goes live

BC readers interested in securing tickets for the London 2012 Olympic Games should register via the official website, which went live today.

Registering doesn't guarantee a ticket, but it does ensure you'll get the information when the sales start.

Thanks to Pete for the suggestion.

Lewisham demolition doesn't mean Gateway is go

Demolition work has begun on the parade of shops in Lewisham town centre, nearest Lewisham Station. This work is a pre-requisite for the Lewisham Gateway redevelopment project but it doesn't signal the start of the rebuild.

A council spokesperson said:

The demolition of the disused buildings to the north of Rennell Street is currently due to commence. This work is being carried out by the London Development Agency who are also funding the cost.

These works do not signal the formal implementation of the Lewisham Gateway scheme, which is still hampered by the current economic downturn. However, the removal of the existing buildings, some of which are in a poor state of repair, will enable a temporary landscaping scheme to be put in place and significantly improve the appearance of this part of the town centre.

The Council has appointed BDP - the designers of multi-award-winning Cornmill Gardens - as landscape architects and they are working with the LDA to keep costs to the minimum and avoid unnecessary works by the demolition contractor.

At this time is not possible to say exactly when the main Lewisham Gateway development works will commence. In the intervening period the developer will be working to ensure all necessary approvals will be in place to facilitate the main development. Discussions are continuing to take place between the Council and the LDA with LGDL with the aim for work to start sometime next year.

A more detailed report on this will be presented to the Mayor later this year following the outcome of these discussions.

To Do

If you have a few minutes spare, there are a few things you could do with them:

  1. Please complete the Networked Neighbourhoods survey about your experiences on Brockley Central - closing date March 23rd. More than 110 of you have already, which is great thanks!
  2. Please sign the petition against cuts to the London Bridge rail services, which is being submitted at midday on March 23rd
  3. Come and find us on Twitter @brockleycentral
  4. Check out the local trade recommendations here or the classified ads here

The last spare vendor

The last surviving shop on Upper Brockley Road - once Brockley's main commercial street - is under threat. The owners of the store, which previously operated as Moore Grocers, have applied to convert it for residential use.

It's a planning application we have been waiting for for a few months, since it was withdrawn from the market as a commercial property.

The property is in a challenging location, on a street, which is now a quiet residential road, with little footfall. The property itself had fallen in to an appalling state of disrepair and anyone seeking to take it on as a commercial enterprise would need to invest significant sums to make it a viable business. Given the frantic state of the local property market, it's entirely understandable that the owners would seek a change of use and, if there was no demand for the property for commercial use, we'd argue that it was better to let the property find new life as a maisonette, however regrettable the final passing of Brockley's historic high street might be.

However, we know that the owners did have at least one firm offer for the property for the commercial rent price they were asking, because Brockley Central made it.

For some time, we've been wanting to put our money where our mouth is, by starting a business in Brockley. Not only do we think it's an area with untapped potential, but the chance to walk to work was a dream. If it had come off, the business would have created local employment and a new destination in the area. Either that, or Brockley Central would have had to introduce a paywall, to cover our debts...

We were also informed by the estate agents that they had received at least two more offers for the property. Perhaps that was mere gamesmanship, but we don't believe so. We ended up in a bidding battle with another entrepreneur. Both of us were asking for an intial rent free period, which is the standard in the current commercial property market and which reflected the enormous initial investment required to fix the walls, floors, ceilings, rotted fixtures and antiquated electricals.

When we thought we might lose out to the other bidder, we even indicated that we'd be willing to negotiate over the rent-free period. We wanted the property and we weren't afraid to up our price. During this time, we consoled ourselves that, even if we lost out to our rival, we'd at least have a new local shop to enjoy. However, we were wrong. Instead of entering in to negotiation, the agents informed us that the landlords had changed their minds and withdrawn the property. From that moment on, it was clearly only a matter of time until this planning application appeared.

To be clear, we no longer have a personal stake in this issue. We were forced to look elsewhere to start our business and have now had an offer accepted in a place we are committed to. We'll bore you with the details soon enough, but sadly it isn't in Brockley as 91 Upper Brockley Road was the only property that fitted the bill.

Our concern now is that a part of Brockley's history will be lost and that a property with the potential to house a business that would add life, employment and a new community facility to the area will disappear.

We'll be registering our opposition to the application on this basis.

The Telegraph Hill Festival Update

There's a lot happening today as part of the Telegraph Hill Festival. We failed to update you with everything that happened yesterday, we only hope the BBC News coverage they attracted was compensation in some small way.

At 2.30pm, there's a local history walk starting from the Upper Park Tennis Courts.

At 3pm, there's Dad-a-Ganza, a variety show put on by local dads.

At 8pm, there's a lecture called 'Democracy, it was good while it lasted', which sounds suspiciously like it's going to be delivered by Henry Porter. We hope it isn't or you can expect a tirade against CCTV cameras, ID cards and the Iraq War.

On Wednesday, author Blake Morrison will discuss his book "South of the River" - which features Brockley's urban foxe - at The Telegraph pub, Dennetts Road at 8pm. Tickets required, but there will still be some available on the door.

Please support Myatt Garden's playground raffle

Reader Susan has sent this request on behalf of Myatt Garden school, Rokeby Road, which is seeking donations for a raffle in aid of a new slide in the school playground. They're hoping that local businesses will donate some prizes for the competition, which last year sold 3,000 tickets.

If you can help, please send your donation to Sam Davies, Myatt Garden School PTA, Rokeby Road, London SE4 1DF. Alternatively please call Sam on 020 86910611 or Tracy Strickland on 020 8469 8600 to arrange collection.

No word yet on whether BrocSoc will seek a legal injunction against the slide.

Nunhead - gateway to Brockley

People who live there might mistakenly believe otherwise, but Nunhead's function is to act as the gateway to the western reaches of Brockley.

To celebrate that fact, Nunhead artist Randy Klein has produced a metal archway, which functions as the entrance to its station. The artwork was unveiled today and was described by one reader:

"Looks like a plumbing pipework tree growing out of a tin foil silver street lamp stand, supporting a kind of metal fretwork plaque depicting a scene of the station."

She doesn't say whether she thinks that this is a good thing or not, but we assume she likes it. We're going to try and grab a photo, but if you have one already, please feel free to email it to us.

Florence and the Machine at the Rivoli

Justin Lee Collins is a one man economic-stimulus package for SE4. The Rivoli can’t have been used so regularly in a long time, the ad campaign for ‘Good Times’ makes the Rivoli the star of the show (delivering a boost to BC traffic stats, as people Google the Rivoli after every ad) and Jam Circus has been providing catering for the production.

Now, producers Tiger Aspect have reunited Florence Welch with the venue that launched her band’s debut album and they are offering Brockley Central readers the opportunity to be in the audience. The recording is on Monday morning.

Here are the details:

Local South London girl Florence Welch from ‘Florence and the Machine’ will join Justin before a live audience in the opulent and iconic Rivoli Ballroom in South London.

We need out-going, confident people who would be interested in playing the crucial role of our audience. You will be needed to be available on Monday 22nd March and be free between 10:00am – 12:00noon. Over 18’s Only. Dress Code: Glitz & Glam.

For more information and to confirm your place as a member of our audience with Justin Lee Collins and Florence Welch.

Email Micky: or Cat: – please include a recent picture of yourself.

Streetcar in Lewisham

Streetcar have been in touch.

They have grown rapidly in Lewisham, with membership rising from 500 members in March 2008 to 2,275 members in March 2010.

As a result, they are seeking to expand further, asking the Council for permission for a further 25 bays across the borough.

Brockley will be a particular focus for expansion - and Streetvan is coming to Crofton Park soon - so they'd like to offer one Brockley Central reader the chance to try out Streetcar for themselves with a free trial membership. The condition is you have to write a short review of the experience for Brockley Central.

If you'd like to give it a go, please email us and we'll pick one of you at random. You need a driving licence, obviously!

More thoughts on Streetcar soon.

Gordonbrock plans delayed by minimum of 6 months, Prendergast plans revealed

Cllr Sue Luxton has confirmed on the Green Ladywell blog the news she posted in one of the threads on here yesterday - the rebuilding work on Gordonbrock School has been delayed by six months due to a legal challenge mounted by BrocSoc.

The headteacher has already warned that such a delay could throw the entire renovation project in to doubt.

Sue writes:

I found out today that the decant and rebuilding programme for Gordonbrock School has been delayed by six months due to a legal challenge by Brockley Society. I heard from Council officers on Tuesday evening that a delay was likely, and letters were sent home to parents yesterday confirming this. I understand that Council officers and Brockley Society representatives will be meeting next week to discuss the legal challenge, and hopefully more will become clear after that. There will also be a meeting for parents at the school soon, date tbc.

Also on the site is the news that Prendergast Hilly Fields is organising a drop in session for the public to view its redevelopment plans:

The plans involve demolishing and rebuilding the existing buildings at the lower site on Adelaide Avenue, and refurbing the existing listed building on Hilly Fields "in line with English Heritage guidelines".

Columbus Tower approval signals further Canary Wharf growth

Mayor Johnson has approved plans for another major expansion of the Canary Wharf business district, according to

The 63-floor Columbus Tower will include hotel, office, retail and residential space. Although not in the same league as the Riverside South development, currently under construction, it would be another important step forward for the area, increasing Canary Wharf's pull as a business and leisure destination.

It also strengthens the case for proceeding with Crossrail, partly because of the (admittedly tiny amount of) extra funding it will provide but also because it underlines the potential for further expansion of the area.

With major development pipelines at both London Bridge and Canary Wharf, Brockley is well-positioned as London's economic centre of gravity continues to shift east.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales, Brockley

Brockley is home to a number of unusual churches, so this is the first in a short series focusing on those who're interested in a religious path less taken.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales is found at 289 Lewisham Way, next to St Johns Church.

Throughout London in the immediate pre and post war period there were over 30 Welsh churches. Now there are only six. One of the Church's late former members Meurig Owen was an authority on the history of the church and some of his work can be found in the Lewisham Local History records

It was established in 1924 and has a service in Welsh every Sunday at 11am. They also have a literary society meeting twice a month from October to March.

The Church Secretary is Mr Gwyndaf Evans, who you can contact on 0208 300 6415 to find out more.

Thanks to reader Jane for bringing it to our attention.

ELL: Just one more thing

Mark: Only one thing for it....turn around and do a Columbo! Now remind me, what university was it she went to?
Assistant: Dartmouth...
Mark: Ah yes of course, thank you. Good old Columbo. Just the one trick, of course. Still; shits on Quincy!

- Peep Show

Brockley Baaaddad's ELL daytrip has unearthed just one more fact worth sharing.

According to TfL, when the new service between Dalston and New Cross starts in April (before the full service starts running on May 23rd), it will only be on weekdays and then only at limited hours - most likely from around 7am to 8pm. Times to be confirmed.

Cinetopia, Lewisham Arthouse

"We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. Our obligation is to make money."
- Don Simpson

From classic comedies to hard-boiled thrillers, Cinetopia combines a fun film quiz and a mystery feature film (you won't know what it is until it's started).

The next Cinetopia event is on Friday, 26th March:

The Arthouse, 140 Lewisham Way
London SE14 6PD
Doors open: 6.30pm, Quiz: 7.15pm, Film: 8.00pm
Bar/tickets on door £5

Supermarket Shakespeare

This is the sort of story we love. Like a live counterpart to Hilltoppers comes Teatro Vivo, the performance art company:

Teatro Vivo presents Supermarket Shakespeare, a free performance piece that takes place in Sainsbury’s Supermarkets in Lee Green, Forest Hill, New Cross and Lewisham.

This year the performances will be inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnet number 23:

O, learn to read what silent love hath writ: To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.

Six performers will create contemporary characters that have intertwining stories and these will be performed all around the supermarket. Performed whilst the supermarket is open, these stories will show the contemporary relevance of Shakespeare’s work in an accessible and everyday environment.

Shoppers can follow the individual characters and hear how their stories unravel whilst fi lling up their trolley and choosing their dinner.

The schedule of performances is as follows:

Lee Green

Tuesday 20th April 7pm
Wednesday 21st April 7pm
Thursday 22nd April 7pm
Friday 23rd April 7pm
Saturday 24th 12pm & 6pm
Sunday 25th 12pm & 3pm

Forest Hill

Tuesday 27th April 7pm
Wednesday 28th April 7pm
Thursday 29th April 7pm
Friday 30th April 7pm
Saturday 1st May 12pm & 6pm
Sunday 2nd May 12pm & 3pm

New Cross

Tuesday 4th May 7pm
Wednesday 5th May 7pm
Thursday 6th May 7pm
Friday 7th May 7pm
Saturday 8th 12pm & 6pm
Sunday 9th May 12pm & 3pm


Tuesday 11th May 6.45pm
Wednesday 12th May 6.45pm
Thursday 13th May 6.45pm
Friday 14th May 6.45pm
Saturday 15th 12pm & 6pm
Sunday 16th May 12pm & 3pm

Big Yellow wins Lewisham Way fight

Big Yellow has been given permission to build a new storage facility on a site opposite Lewisham Art House on Lewisham Way. The site is currently occupied by poor-quality commercial warehousing.

The plans had been strongly opposed by local campaigners and Lewisham Council's planning committee voted 5-1 to turn down Big Yellow's application, but the decision has been overturned by a planning inspector.

The setback is not really about aesthetics. Big Yellow is not proposing to build one of its trademark bright-yellow centres on the site, but has come up with something more muted. It will arguably be less ugly than what it replaces. The real blow is that storage centres encourage traffic and discourage development on a human scale. It means that any hope that this stretch of Lewisham Way could be redeveloped to create shop-fronts or housing, to form a coherent stretch of high-street, is gone.

As Darren Johnson writes on his blog:

"This is the wrong facility in the wrong place, and this decision to overrule elected councillors is bad news for Brockley. Lewisham Way should be a vibrant high street for the area, not a location for warehousing and storage. Local people say they don't need another storage facility and want to protect the existing local jobs on the site."

Gordonbrock rebuild: Head dismisses BrocSoc plans

The headteacher and Chair of Governors of Gordonbrock school have dismissed an alternative set of designs for a rebuilt school, developed by campaigners against the Council's plans.

The Brockley Society and a number of parents of children at the school are opposed to the plans on the basis that that they will demolish some of the Edwardian buildings, reduce outdoor space and force the children to travel to Greenvale in Perry Rise (no, us neither - it's in Forst Hill). They have and commissioned their own designs for a new school, which would maintain the original buildings.

The Brockley Society and its campaign partners have launched a campaign website and developed an alternative proposal, which is not intended to be a detailed design, but to show what might be possible without resorting to demolition or decanting kids by coach.

In a letter home to parents yesterday, the Head and Chair of Governors at Gordonbrock said that BrocSoc's arguments were "unrealistic and misleading" and that its plans were "seriously flawed", failing to include key elements and displaying "wishful thinking" by suggesting that kids could remain on site during the construction. Concerned about the threat of legal action by BrocSoc, which has appointed a Planning Law solicitor to try to challenge the application and secure an injunction on demolition, they say:

"Our greatest fear is that if there is any significant delay in building the new school we will once again lose the funding, which is time limited. Having already been in this position once before, this would truly be a disaster for the school. The children would continue to use outside toilets, have small classrooms and have no access to a quality school library."

In response BrocSoc points out that there are many examples of school renovations taking place in a piecemeal fashion, to avoid closures. They say that the design issues raised by the letter are easily solvable and are the result of having their requests to speak to staff about their detailed requirements ignored.

New in town?

New boy Tom has arrived in SE4 clutching his brand new brief case and he's anxious to distance himself from the nerds and find out how the Brockley jocks do things.

He writes:

I was wondering if you fancied doing a post on advice for new residents?

In our rush to rent an unfurnished flat, we seemed to forget that we don't own any furniture so any tips about good places to buy second-hand furniture would be much appreciated.

East London Line preview

I know I need a small vacation.
But it don't look like rain.
And if it snows that stretch down south, won't ever stand the strain.
- Glenn Campbell, Wichita Lineman

Thanks to reader Monkeyboy's masonic contacts, Brockley Central has been invited to ride the rail on one of the East London Line's test voyages tomorrow. As it falls slap bang in the middle of the working day, Brockley Central Sr will be reporting for us.

The tour will be a chance to ask questions about both the build and the operation of the service - so if you have any questions, please pose them here quick and we will pass them along.

We've already asked him to find out when the last train will be in the evenings.

Four month delay for Blackfriars Station rebuild

The hawkeyed Londonist has spotted an article in Building that reveals that the redevelopment of Blackfriars Station is running 4 months late and will now re-open in the Summer of 2012, cutting it very fine for the London Olympics.

Blackfriars is a key destination for Crofton Park commuters - when the project's finished it will allow for 2 more trains per hour from Crofton Park and exits on both sides of the river. The station will also be able to handle 12-car trains in future.

During the construction work, Blackfriars tube station is closed.

Our Future's Orange: Crystal Palace

This is part four of our preview of the East London Line, profiling many of the stops along the new route, ahead of its opening in May.

Crystal Palace will be one of the southern termini for the new East London Line. The Grade II-listed station has been the subject of major renovation and will be served by four tube trains per hour from Brockley.

Built on and surrounded by large hills, Crystal Palace feels like an entirely self-contained world of handsome streets with a surreal park as its centrepiece, topped off with a couple of television masts, the tallest of which is only a little shorter than One Canada Square.

The park is 200-acres, big enough to envelop a national sports centre (including a 15,500-seat athletics stadium, and a 50m swimming pool), a farm, an open air concert venue and a menagerie of jerry-built dinosaurs that make the Kentucky Creation Museum look like an accurate depiction of pre-history by comparison.

Although money has been spent on maintaining the park, it's so huge and filled with so many curiosities it has a haunted quality, enhanced by the fact that its future is in limbo, while an ambitious master plan by the London Development Agency struggles through the planning stages.

Perched above the park is a buzzy town centre called the Triangle, which is home to some decent nightlife and a few great restaurants, including Joanna's, a brasserie with a unique 'railway carriage' private dining room, Japanese diner Edo and Portuguese joint A Torre. The Alma is a great 'traditional' pub with an eclectic line-up of live music and a regular market place in the pub garden. The White Hart, the Royal Albert (for a Sunday roast) and the Grape and Grain are all also worth a visit.

Already connected by two overland trains an hour to Brockley, a trip to Crystal Palace is about to get a lot easier.

More East London Line destinations:

Rotherhithe, Canada Water, Surrey Quays

Policing in Brockley

Cllr Walton has written a very good article about changes to the policing strategy for Brockley, which will see more officers walking solo beats, so that the same number of police can cover more ground than if they travel in pairs.

As Cllr Walton notes, the subject of visible policing was brought up by the Brockley traders group at the recent Assembly, with the manager of Speedicars noting that his 40+ drivers rarely reported seeing police on the streets as they drove around the area.

Please complete the Networked Neighbourhoods survey

Lyle Lanley: The name's Lanley. Lyle Lanley. And I come before you good people tonight with an idea. Probably the greatest... Aw, it's not for you. It's more of a Shelbyville idea.
Mayor Quimby: Now wait just a minute! We're twice as smart as the people of Shelbyville! Just tell us your idea and we'll vote for it!
- The Simpsons, Marge vs The Monorail

Thank you to the 65 readers who've already completed the short Networked Neighbourhoods study, which is designed to understand the impact that hyperlocal sites like this one are already having and more importantly, could have in the future.

It's on behalf of London Councils and your co-operation is much appreciated, not least because we are in competition with sites like the East Dulwich Forum to see whose readers are the most civic-minded. And we don't want those guys to beat us, do we?

Please click here to complete the survey. Thank you.

Ladywell Tavern wins Pub of the Year

Congratulations to the Ladywell Tavern, which won "Best Pub" at the 2010 Lewisham Mayor's Business Awards.

The Ladywell Tavern has enjoyed a successful renovation that both caters to long-standing regulars and provides a warm welcome to the more casual punter.

The landlord Monty has shown impressive entrepreneurial flair by turning disused space in to the excellent Tank gallery and his team were excellent hosts for the Brockley Central music night at last year's Brockley MAX.

Mayor: People of Lewisham need to wake up to Peak Oil reality

“Do you realise, that if Heavy Electricity falls from these headphones, not only would it blow my head off, but it would cut me completely in half… if you are a Member of Parliament or somebody in a powerful organisation and you’re listening to me right now let me say this to you I have a lot of television shows, a lot of radio shows and a big audience. Do something about it otherwise I’ll do something about it.”

- Caesar the Geezer,
Brass Eye

We promised you another reason why we brought up Peak Oil the other day. Far from being the preserve of “obscurantists” it is subscribed to by the Mayor of Lewisham.
At a recent Full Council meeting, Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock responded to questions from Green Cllr Romayne Phoenix about whether he felt that Peak Oil is a “serious challenge” that needs to be addressed by Lewisham Council. After a pat answer about global challenges and solutions, there was a supplementary exchange:

Peak oil is indeed a global issue but do you agree that among its implications is that a scaling back of global transport and freight will cause the relocalising of economies, and that therefore local authorities have a duty to look at how they can prepare their own communities to deal with the specific consequences of fossil fuel depletion, distinct from other climate and sustainability concerns?

I agree with your general thesis. There are important questions, however, about the timescale involved and how these things will come to pass, not least because of the economic situation. I would certainly continue to provide leadership in the council and across the partnership. It is an issue which is a long term issue around step change. We will see many changes in the years ahead. One challenge to members is to explain to the electorate, who I think have yet to grasp the scale of what we face.

So the Mayor inserted important caveats, but nonetheless believes that the age of globalisation is coming to an end, scarcity is going to require a step-change in the way we organise our lives and that we need to re-localise our communities and he thinks our local political leaders have a duty to help us “grasp the scale of what we face.”

If the Mayor believes this, then shouldn’t it be the Council’s highest priority? Shouldn’t every decision – from planning to investment – be aimed at encouraging local centres, replacing cars with cyclists and pedestrians, insulating homes properly, encouraging more dense development around transport hubs, no compromises at Lewisham Gateway or Convoys Wharf, encouraging car clubs, discouraging supermarkets that rely on car parks.

How would Peak Oil re-shape Lewisham? We can think of one local example. The Council’s attitude that the redevelopment of Brockley Cross must not be allowed to interfere with the flow of traffic would have to be reconsidered.

What else?

Going for a song at the Amersham Arms

BC reader Miska is organising a vintage open-mic-cum-jumble-sale-and-cake-fest at the Amersham Arms, New Cross.

She says:

Essentially it's a vintage open-mic (Dolly Parton to George Formby to Nina Simone to Johnny Cash, ukuleles and all)... and a jumble sale / vintage market and cake-fest. (Amazing Guinness cake).

It's happening every last Saturday of the month, the next being on the 27th March, 2-6pm.

We've got some stalls not yet taken, and they're only £15, so if anyone wants one, email me or email Tanya if you'd like to come play, sing, bop on our small stage. We've got a blog.

It's all not for profit, and entirely for good old-fashioned fun, and we're taking over the entire upstairs, back room and nightclubby bit of the Amersham Arms.

Police search for missing girl [UPDATED: Now found]

Richard has drawn to our attention an article in the News Shopper, publicising a police appeal for a missing 12-year-old girl from Brockley.

The News Shopper says that she was last seen leaving her home on Salehurst Road, Crofton Park at 4.40pm on March 10th.

Anyone with information should contact Lewisham Police on 07788 916 864, or 0300 123 1212 or Missing People on 0500 700 700.

UPDATE: The News Shopper reports that she has now been found]

Behold: The Awesome Power of the Cycle Superhighway

Here are some early shots of Boris' much-hyped cycle superhighway, aimed at reclaiming the streets of London for the cyclist. The superhighway is the blue bit.

Thanks to Get Down for the photos.

Hilltoppers – The Telegraph Hill Soap Opera

As part of this year’s Telegraph Hill Festival volunteers have produced a new soap opera called ‘Hilltoppers’ – an everyday tale of urban folk, or maybe Children of the Quorn.

The first episode was uploaded yesterday and there will be a new one daily. With impressively high production values and a talented cast list, it features a couple of matriarchal characters of the sort that only exist on British television, but it’s entertaining stuff and includes a performance by a local cat, which relegates “Bouncer’s Dream” to second place in the all time great soap scenes involving animals.

Look out for the subliminal marketing for the new skateboard park and a cliffhanger that will have you clamouring for more.

Good Brockley

"It's fake philanthropy and it's faux-anonymity! What do you think about that?"
- Larry David

The pay-it-forward principle works, according to a new study.

Derren Brown has just blogged about a US study, which shows that there is a 'kindness multiplier' that spreads via social networks. If we do something good, other people will follow-suit and ultimately triple the impact of that initial gesture.

The lesson appears to be that if you do something good for Brockley. Make sure people know about it and we'll all join in. So please use this thread to tell us, unashamedly, of something good you have done lately.

The FT: Jubilee Line back on track

Last night, the Evening Standard front page declared that the planned improvements to the Jubilee Line, which promise a 30% capacity increase, could be under threat alongside a number of other tube upgrade projects.

That sounded unlikely, given that the work is nearly finished and commuters have already had to put up with month after month of disruption. Of all the projects that could be scrapped, that seemed to make the least sense.

Happily, this morning The FT quotes the acting CEO of Tube Lines Andrew Cleaves, who says that the weekend closures should be over by May and that the improved service could be running sooner than the currently-scheduled date of October 2010.

The fate of the Jubilee Line is particularly important for Brockley commuters, as it serves both London Bridge and the new East London Line interchange at Canada Water.

Transition Lewisham

The international Transition Town movement is an increasingly important force in Brockley politics. Transition Brockley meetings are well-attended and brimming with ideas. The group already outnumbers many longer-established local groups, who can only look enviously at the manpower their volunteers offer.

Transition Brockley was a driving force behind Hilly Fields’ new orchard, is collaborating with the Brockley Cross Action Group on the re-planting of Brockley Common and tries to incentivise local businesses to adopt greener business practices. Politically independent, the group nonetheless shares many ideas with the Green Party and exists partly to “raise awareness” of environmental issues, so it’s not surprising that an area which is a Green Party stronghold is also a Transition Town bastion.

The news that Transition Town were behind the orchard, provoked a grumpy response from Ladywell blogger William Canynge, who dismissed them as a “bunch of obscurantists”. Judged by their size, they can’t be called obscure, but it is worth understanding the ideas behind Transition Towns.

They say:

In a nutshell, the Transition Movement is about communities deciding they can't hang around for governments to act on climate change and peak oil, but they need to start building up local resilience to prepare for an era of ever-rising fuel prices, fuel shortages and the impacts of climate change.

The debate about climate change is well worn, so we don't propose to go over that ground here, other than to say Brockley Central accepts the view of the vast majority of climate scientists, who believe that humans are playing a key role. Peak Oil Theory predicts that at some point, the amount of oil we’re able to pump from the ground will peak and start to decline. At that point, a resource war is on, the price of oil will skyrocket and so will the stuff we use it to make and distribute. Transition Towns groups regularly show films about how Cuban farmers responded to the collapse of oil imports from the Soviet Union to produce food without oil for agrochemicals and machinery and argue that these principles should be adopted in places like Brockley.

In Brockley Central’s humble opinion, the price mechanism (assisted by rising carbon taxes) will encourage new exploration and greater substitution to other energy sources until the world becomes less reliant on the stuff. Of course, the market is imperfect and there will be supply-side shocks along the way, as there have been in decades past. This will cause economic hardship from time to time, but we won’t see the upheaval imagined by Transition Townies.

Put simply, Peak Oil theory suggests we need to radically restructure society and the economy or face dire economic consequences, including possibly, starvation. This idea is at the heart of the Transition Town philosophy, although the clever thing about the movement is it combines the grand narrative of a struggle for the future of our planet that ideologues tend to get off on with a battle-plan that consists of neighbourly stuff like planting herbs on Brockley Common – an approach that even the skeptics among us can get on board with.

The problem is, that – as William Canynge’s reaction demonstrated – while the Transition Town narrative can be a great motivator for some, it can also be deeply offputting for others.

The blogger Will Wiles puts it nicely:

The proponents of urban farming often muddle up doing it because we must (that is, we face shortages if we do not) and doing it because we should (self-reliance being a virtue, food security being desirable and so on) — necessity and desirability. And it’s the questions of necessity that tend to be the most powerful arguments: no one wants to face shortages. But if people see urban farming as only a necessity, it will only ever be seen as an emergency response to a crisis, to be rolled back when (if) more secure times return. Moving to a more diverse and stable system of food production — including some urban farming — has to accent that is is a desirable option in good times and bad.

In other words, a group like Transition Brockley would be better off arguing for change on the basis that localism and self-reliance are social goods, not because they will save the world. But stripped of the drama of impending doom, they’d be little different to many other community groups – the ones that struggle for members…

Transition Towns has groups in Brockley, Ladywell, New Cross and Honor Oak. Click here for more details.

There is another reason for discussing Peak Oil Theory, which we'll come on to shortly.

Open Art Surgery

Brockley Cross gallery (and "People Before Profit" electoral campaign hangout) Tea Leaf Arts is organising its first open submission exhibition for local artists.

As part of the Brockley MAX arts festival, they're inviting anyone to submit their work, which they will curate. A registration fee of £8 will be charged on each artist's submission, to cover administration costs.

The exhibition will run from May 28th - June 12th 2010 and the public will be asked to vote for their favourite work, with the winning artist invited to stage a solo show, later in the year.

Visit the site for more details.

People, be not afraid

"On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world."
Cormac McCarthy, The Road

On Sunday we went to Bow, to a cafe called The Counter on the unpromisingly-named Roach Road. Tucked away down streets of industrial estate, it sits next to a canal that forms part of the perimiter of the Olympic Park. If you can put up with chaotic service then we can heartily recommend their bacon sandwiches, but this site does not need another cafe review right now. We want to talk about the waterway next door.

Aside from the dynamic backdrop provided by the Olympic park works, it's not that different from some of the places you'll find east of Greenwich, towards Charlton and Woolwich. But compare. It's possible to walk for miles along some parts of the Greenwich riverside, without seeing a soul. In the twenty minutes we spent walking the Bow towpath, these are some of the things we saw:

  • A woman, sculling down stream
  • A man landing a 14 pound pike – and other people gathering for the weigh-in
  • People cooking on their houseboat
  • A man drinking wine on his balcony
  • An blank brick wall made extraordinary through a huge grafitti mural
  • People cycling

A landscape that feels industrial and desolate when deserted, becomes a wonderful short work with the addition of people. The people that animated the towpath also sustain a cafe on an industrial estate and another built from shipping containers.

The best bits of London have lots of people in them, the worst bits are empty. Some of that is effect, much of it is cause. We're looking forward to more people discovering Brockley when the East London Line comes.