Double boost for Brockley transport - more trains, later tubes

The Sydenham Society reports two significant improvements resulting from timetable changes that come in to effect on December 12th, including more trains from London Bridge and later trains on the East London Line.

The East London Line

A train will be added to the ELL evening timetable, so that Brockley residents will be able to stay out later. The lack of a service after midnight was the one disappointment when our lovely new tube service - TfL promised to look at options to address it. From December, the last train will depart Dalston Junction at 12.15am, reaching Canada Water at 12.31am, providing vital late-night drink-up time.

The London Bridge service

We spent much of 2009 arguing that the service reductions to London Bridge we experienced when the East London Line was introduced had nothing to do with the technical constraints put on the system by the tube service. From December, some of the trains lost in May will be restored.

There will be two additional evening peak trains between London Bridge and Crystal Palace at 17.24 and 18.24, adding capacity and frequency at rush hour.

There will also be an extra Saturday late evening London Bridge to Victoria train, leaving London Bridge at 23.52. The Sydenham Society says:

"This fills in a 30 minute gap after the 23.36 and means that there will now be six late evening trains from London Bridge after 11pm (the 23.06; 23.22; 23.36; 23.52; 00.06 and 00.36)."

Brockley - feeling the love

This quick summary of an hour and a half in Brockley on a Friday lunchtime is unashamedly one for the 81%.
1. Haircut in Bohemia Hair. Not sure how many bookings they've had yet but they seem to have been getting very positive interest. Lovely people. Nice environment. Successfully gussied up Barnet. 25 percent discount. What's not to like? They deserve to succeed.
2. The Orchard for lunch. Also much to recommend: the shredded chicken and avocado salad is a Good Thing, and good value to boot. Tap water served in bottles is a simple but welcome touch. Laid back music and free wi-fi add to the package. A very pleasant place to be.
3. Coffee at Browns on the way home. Would have been perfect even without the smashing pumpkin.
Brockley is a good place to be.

Van problem in Brockley Cross "slight or non-existent"

Having written in the past about the problems with the number of vans owned by local van hire companies (in particular D&M), parked on local streets around Brockley Cross and Brockley Station, we wrote to Cllr Johnson and Cllr Foxcroft, asking whether they would consider taking the matter to the Council. They agreed that the situation was problematic and referred the matter to planning officers.

The situation is that D&M operates from an office in Brockley Cross with no dedicated parking. Their vans, unlike ACE Van Hire (which gone to the trouble of securing private parking) have to be parked on residential streets. It is precisely because this kind of arrangement leads to local people being unable to park outside their own homes and shopping streets being used as parking bays for large removal vans that van hire offices are considered "sui generis" by planners. In other words, D&M should have applied for permission to operate from that office. But they did not.

So officers investigated the situation. Yesterday, we received their response:

In regard to section 172 of the Town and Country Planning Act, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) may issue an Enforcement Notice (EN) where it appears that there has been a breach of planning control and that it is expedient to issue the notice (having regard to the Development Plan and to any other material planning considerations). Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 18 (para5) reminds the LPA that the EN should always be commensurate with the breach of planning control to which it relates and that it is usually inappropriate to take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach of planning control which causes no harm to the amenity in the locality of the site.

As a result of investigating this case and also from the photographs, the conclusion is that the impact of the alleged breach on the amenity of the locality is slight or non-existent. Accordingly, considering the facts and circumstances there does not appear to be a breach of planning control, as can be seen in the case of (East Barnet Urban District Council v British Transport Commission refers). However, if there was a breach of planning control (albeit "trivial" or "technical") taking enforcement action in the circumstances would not be considered expedient - PPG 18 para 5 refers - particularly in the light of the impact on amenity of the locality. Therefore, in the light of this investigation, no formal action will be taken against D & M by the Council.

So there we have it. Unlike the many BC readers who have complained about the vans, the Council doesn't see the problem and won't be taking any action against D&M for their breach of planning guidelines.

Lewisham Libraries March, 30th October

Make it stop

This is a sponsored video from the Metropolitan Police.

Carry on Up the Line

We jumped the gun last month when we announced that Up the Line, the local Remembrance Day celebration, would be returning this year, following a stunning event in 2009. The event did not secure the Arts Council funding the organisers hoped for. However, in a Capra-esque twist, the good people of Brockley have pulled together to put the show on regardless.

Organiser John Mckiernan writes:

Following on from the hugely successful 2009 event we will be presenting a bigger and more beautiful evening performance of ‘Up The Line’ in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, two weeks tonight, 11.11.10 from 7pm

Poets, musicians, dancers, soundscape, film and a lantern procession with children will begin their performance at the sound of a single Scottish piper along a one and half kilometre path running through the cemetery.

Monuments to those who were injured during the conflict and subsequently died in Lewisham Hospital and those killed in Deptford by the Zeppelin attacks will be lit by light artist Tom White using hydrogen fuel cells, dispensing with the need for diesel generators and reducing our CO2 emissions by 70% on 2009.

We do hope you can make it along to this free unique event with entry anytime from 7pm until 8.20pm. The wheelchair and pram accessible path will take between 55-70 minutes to walk so please dress appropriately, wear sturdy shoes and bring a torch.

Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery

Enter from junction of Brockley Road and Ivy Road, SE4 2QY

Ivy Road will be CLOSED to traffic from 4pm on 11.11.10

Exit Ladywell Gate SE13 7HY

Thursday 11th November 2010

Arrive anytime between 7.00pm – 8.20pm last entry

Lantern Procession by children 7.30pm

Post Event Reflection from 7.30pm

Admission Free


Get involved and information:

Produced by

Platform-7 and Moonbow Events, in association with London Borough of Lewisham and the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery with support from the Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams in Ladywell and Crofton Park

Bullock on the impact of benefit reform on Lewisham housing

Mayor Bullock was interviewed this morning on the Today programme about how changes to housing benefits could effect London boroughs. Speaking to Evan Davies in his capacity as both the Mayor of Lewisham and the spokesperson for London Councils on housing, he said:

"We are not block booking bed and breakfast but we are looking at what is available. We are looking at the private rented sector in our area because we know it’s under pressure. What we’re doing is sensible preparation because if the problems happen on the scale that’s possible over the next year, we need to be prepared."

When asked whether it was an urban myth that Councils are spending money to relocate people, Bullock responded:

"What we’re doing is beginning the procurement. We need to know what is available, what costs are at the moment. I don’t think anyone is spending money today to reserve accommodation for the future."

He was then asked whether he was worried that Lewisham could received a “huge outflow” of people who are priced out of central London?

"For us, that is the major concern. There would be some effect on some of our current residents as well but our main worry is that we would see a significant population flow across the city, which would put our current private rented sector, which is already under pressure, under greater pressure. But also, if we get hundreds of families moving in to our borough, there will be issues around education, social care and so on.

"We all take the view that we want our boroughs to have a mix of housing tenures. It’s good for the nature of our communities and we’ve tried to get away from those enormous estates and so on. We do need to be careful not to stigamatise those on housing benefits. There are people who are working hard and receiving housing benefits and I am not saying we don’t want these people in our borough."

Here, we asked what changes the policy could have on Lewisham. Now, it seems we have the answer.

Thanks to 'Name' for the tip off.

When there's no more room in Hell, try Nunhead and Hither Green

Childs: What do we do now?
MacReady: Why don't we just wait here for a little while... see what happens...
- The Thing

If you're looking for things to do for Hallowe'en, here are some local-ish options. Or, if you live in Telegraph Hill, you could simply cower in fear of the headless hoodies on their skateboards.

Nunhead - The Old Nun's Head says:

***29.10.10 - Halloween Party***
A halloween menu, apple bobbing, some spooky decor and later on a ghoulish set from local DJ Dead Man Walking. Upstairs we will be playing a double header of 'Dawn of the Dead' and then 'Shaun of the Dead'.

***31.10.10 - Film Night***
We we are sticking with the halloween theme and will be showing 2 films:
7.00pm - Halloween
9.00pm - Paranormal Activity

Of course there will be popcorn and huge Fat Boy bean bags to sit on, so comfy you might just fall to sleep!

Hither Green - BC regular Max says:

The Hither Green Cinema Halloween Triple Bill is this Sunday.

The first film at 3:30 pm is the Corpse Bride (certificate PG) that's a perfect introduction into ghost stories for children that crave a thrill at Halloween. Doors at 2:30 with an hour of kids' entertainment before the film.

At 6 pm we have the Rocky Horror Picture Show and finally at 8 pm for those that think that if Halloween must be embraced then it must be done seriosly there's the truly scary the Orphanage.

For the intervals we have a bar with the delicious homemade cakes of the Golden Afternoon Tea Company and a karaoke machine loaded with a selection of Halloween classics.

The location is St Swithun's Hall, St Swithun's Road SE13 (off Hither Gren Lane and Ennersdale Road).

Kings of Leon play the Rivoli Ballroom

The Kings of Leon played a secret gig at the Rivoli Ballroom for Radio 1 tonight, something we completely missed until it was too late.

However, we do have the scoop on this postcard of Brockley Lane railway station, circa 1917, and unlike the gig tickets, there is still plenty of time to buy it.

Thanks to Maradoll for the postcard tip. No thanks to any of the rest of you for the Kings of Leon story.

Bohemia Hair opens

Bohemia Hair is now open. The Mantle Road salon had its first day of trading yesterday and is offering Brockley residents a 25% discount on their first visit cuts and colours.

Future of Tea Leaf Arts in the balance

The community art gallery at The Tea Factory faces a race against time to secure its future before the end of this year.

When the Tea Factory was redeveloped two years ago, Tea Leaf Arts were given the gallery space for free for a limited period, as part of the terms of the developer's Section 106 agreement. That period expires at the end of December and unless a solution is found, the gallery will close.

The options include finding enough sources of income to pay rent on commercial terms or persuading the landlord that a peppercorn rent is better than no rent at all.

In any case, please show your support for the gallery by attending one of the upcoming events, which include exhibitions by local artists and art workshops. Click here to see the programme or join them on Friday night for the Exhibition Opening and Poetry Open Mic Event, 7.30-9.30pm. They say:

Alarms and Excursions in association with PLATFORM-7 will be hosting a wordfeast of communication as part of the exhibition on Friday 29th October from 8pm. Served with poetry spices, prose puree and rhyme jelly dessert all with stimulating monologue from whoever happens to be there – FREE

Maraschino Photography, Tressillian Road

A typical scene of domestic bliss at BC towers
Joey: Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of.. Okay, uhh…Look Janine I really want you to feel at home here, but some of this new stuff. It’s…too girly.
Janine: Ohh. Like what?
Joey: Like this. Pictures of cute babies we don’t know. We..we can’t have that.
Janine: Joey, it’s Anne Geddes. She’s a famous artist.
Joey: Look I don’t know this baby. I don’t know if she’s a famous artist or not. You know, and I don’t want to be a jerk but you’re changing too much around here.
- Friends, The One With Ross' Teeth
If you've spent the last 30 years on a Brockley bar stool, or your job is to provide an adequate number of school places in the area, then it may be hard to accept, but Brockley is now full of young families. Exhibit A is of course the Brockley Mess. We now bring you exhibit B - Maraschino Photography, a new studio on Tressillian Road. By no means exclusively dedicated to portraits of children, young families are nonetheless a key market for them.
Run by Kath Cherry and Mike Howells, we asked them a few questions about their new venture:
Why did you open a business in Brockley?
We ended up in Brockley because we had some friends here (they've since moved to Seattle and set up eat local) and really liked the area. we had a feeling that it was only going to get better and were drawn to the close sense of community, the green spaces, the quality of the houses and the sense that you were somehow not really in the hustle and bustle of London whilst only being a short train ride away. Also, we could afford it!
What's your studio like?

We have a residential studio - what was an unnecessarily cavernous lounge is now a fully equipped photographic studio with a choice of simple, modern backgrounds and an endlessly customisable lighting setup. It's easily large enough to handle a group of ten or twelve people. The decor is clean and neutral and examples of our work are hung on the hallway walls.

Why did you decide to take the plunge now?

Well, this is a tricky one, seeing as the papers are full of doom and gloom and economic meltdown. However, we believe that Brockley is an area with a strong sense of community identity that is not only on the up, but that supports quality artistic endeavour. Above all of this, however, over the last decade, Brockley has become our home so we'd rather spend our time here trying to serve and enrich this area than any other.

Click here to check out the studio.

The Old Nun's Head becomes Brockley's Rive Gauche

Photo: Pubology

It's a pre-Hallowe'en miracle! A local restaurant is going from strength-to-strength. The Old Nun's Head have hired the former head chef of The French House in Soho, a place we've never eaten in, but which is one of our favourite drinking haunts.

The owners say:
The Old Nun’s Head on Nunhead Green today announces that Roger Clarke, formerly of The French House in Soho, is now this local pub’s Head Chef. The pub’s Landlords, Daniel Rowntree and Louise Lawler have brought Clarke on board to breathe new life into the menu and to help make the Old Nun’s Head the pub for quality, seasonal food in South East London.

During his 20 years as a chef, Clarke has worked in the kitchens of some of London’s best-loved restaurants, including the Ivy and Simpsons on the Strand. But his real passion is for the great British pub and he joins now following five years as Head Chef at The French House in Soho – widely regarded as one of Soho’s most iconic pubs.

Clarke has already devised a brand new lunch and dinner menu for the Nunhead local, featuring amongst others pub classics such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and of course the Sunday roasts.

“We are seriously excited about Roger joining us. We want The Old Nun’s Head to be somewhere people in the local area see as theirs to hang out in, enjoy a drink in and now eat great food in. Having tried everything on Roger’s new menu, we know he’s the right person to help us do just that,” says Daniel Rowntree, Landlord of The Old Nun’s Head.

“The Old Nun’s Head is a cracking pub and I am very happy to be part of the team here. My aim is to create exciting but unpretentious plates of food using only the best seasonal produce, whether it is for a great pub classic or something a little different. I really hope people will come down, give the new menu a go and want to keep coming back,” says Roger Clarke, the new Head Chef at The Old Nun’s Head.

The menu will be updated regularly, with the focus always being on quality produce, cooked to Clarke’s exacting standards at a price that is right for a neighbourhood pub restaurant. What’s more, fish is supplied by the popular local Nunhead fish mongers FC Soper or ‘Sopers’ as it’s more affectionately known, as well as seasonal produce from Rowntree’s family small holding in Lincolnshire.

The pub’s team has also been working hard to make sure that the local ale drinkers are well catered for, as in September this year the pub was awarded a Cask Marque. The Cask Marque is a sign of quality from the independent body, the Cask Marque Trust, and is only awarded to those pubs where all their cask ales have reached the high standards required by the Trust.

As well as improving the quality of the drinks and food on offer, Daniel and Louise have given the pub’s decor a complete overhaul. The interiors now have a cozy, eclectic country lodge feel with worn retro leather sofas, comfy armchairs, booths and more original oak paneling than you can shake stick at. The courtyard garden is perfect summers hang out and now, as the nights draw in, the two huge log fires will be lit to give a truly welcoming and homely feel.

Celebrate Hallowe'en with El's Kitchen

Homer: Yeah, that's right, Barney. This year, I invested in pumpkins. They've been going up the whole month of October and I got a feeling they're going to peak right around January.Then, bang! That's when I'll cash in.

To mark the launch of El's Kitchen, the new Ladywell deli, El is throwing a Hallowe'en party. She says:

Come along for the grand opening of El's Kitchen and join in our Hallowe'en fun and frolics!

We've got a home-made gingerbread haunted house up for grabs in our kids fancy dress competition - come dressed for 2pm on Sunday 31st October.

Enter our lantern carving competition and win a home-made pumpkin pie! Bring yours along by 3pm on Sunday 31st October. Guess the weight of the giant pumpkin to win a basket of deli goodies!

Have a go at apple bobbing and get your face painted. We've got a whole host of seasonal foods to celebrate, so come hungry!

Endwell Road restaurant could be lost

An application has been lodged to convert 93 Endwell Road to residential use.

The change of use of the ground floor and rear part of the first floor of 93 Endwell Road SE4 from retail (Class 1) to residential use, to provide 1 one bedroom self contained flat and 1 two bedroom self contained maisonette, together with the raising of the roof of the existing first floor extension at the rear, plus alterations to the side and rear elevations and the construction of a front boundary wall and gate.

The freehold has been on the market for a while, describing it as a restaurant, highlighting the fact that it has gained consent for A3 restaurant use. We know of one aspiring restaurateur who'd been hoping to secure it on a leasehold basis.

If this application is approved it would suggest an incoherent approach to the development of Brockley Cross. On the one hand, new developments are forced to provide retail space at ground floor level, on the other hand, existing retail space would be being lost.

There are no further details at this stage.

Cherry trees for Brockley Station

Rupert from BXAG has been in touch regarding another planting event they are organising to improve the station. Most excitingly, two cherry trees will help to obscure the horror of the ticket office. He writes:

BXAG have organised another day of planting down at Brockley Common on SUNDAY 31st OCTOBER, starting at 10.30 and running to 5.00pm with break for lunch and refreshments (c/o BXAG). There are 3 parts to the day...

1. BULB PLANTING. We will be doing some bulb planting down at the Station in the morning from 11.00. Bulbs will be provided, but if you have any daffs, crocus, snowdrops etc PLEASE BRING THEM DOWN! All contributions gratefull received. By the way BXAG are also participating in the Guinness world record attempt for the number of people planting bulbs in one hour (11.0-12.00) - but the record breaking attempt will be taking place in FRENDSBURY GARDENS, not at the Station. The idea for the record attempt is for volunteers to sign up at Brockley Station, go down to participate down at the Gardens and then come back to carry on with planting at BC. Meanwhile we will also be bulb planting at Brockley Common for no other reason than to bring some spring colour to the area around the Station!

2. TREE PLANTING. We have got permission to plant two big Cherry trees (ordered) on the embankment by the Ticket Office. These will replace those lost due to the construction of the new steps etc. This was a request from some local people who were sad about the loss of the trees, which we are happy to redress!

3. REPLANTING OF THE MAIN BEDS ON BROCKLEY COMMON. Despite valiant attempts throughout the summer by BXAG members to keep the planting alive we inevitably lost a few plants, either due to the long dry summer or perhaps they just didn't like the location. So we have bought approx. 180 additional plants (using the Mayor's funding award) to replace the dead ones and fill in the gaps. Planting them now will give them plenty of time to get their roots established for next summer.

Network Rail, who are being really supportive, have promised a supply of woodchip mulch for the beds, so hopefully we can spread some mulch too to keep the dreaded weeds down.

It's Halloween of course so pumpkin soup will be provided for lunch and there will be some whole pumpkins for carving!! The idea is to carve a few pumpkin faces to leave in among the planting with tea lights on Sunday evening - should make quite a show! So kids are very welcome to help out - put the word out! But whether you decide to come in a witch's hat is entirely up to you!

The South Shall Rise Again: Cutty Sark Gardens and Ravensbourne College

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be documenting some of the biggest and most exciting changes taking place across South East London. From huge new housing projects to investment in the area’s heritage sites, this part of London is subject to many of the capital’s most ambitious plans.

We’ll start with two projects that hug the banks of London’s Mason-Dixon Line:

Proposals have been submitted to improve Cutty Sark Gardens [above], providing a new landscape setting for a restored Cutty Sark, due to reopen in 2011. says:

The designs include 6,540 sq m of new stone covering, less steps to a make it more pedestrian friendly, an interactive “wet floor” feature, clear cyclist route and green planters.

Meanwhile, Ravensbourne College’s £70 million relocation to state-of the art premises next to the O2 is complete.

853Blog has a report from the opening of the centre, noting that it now forms a belt of creative excellence that stretches to Goldsmiths, via the Laban Centre and Trinity College of Music.

Changes to 343 and N343 buses

TfL has announced that there will be a small increase in the number of 343 buses (London Bridge - New Cross) running between Monday and Friday, 7am - 7pm. Currently, one bus runs every 6.5 minutes. From February 2011, this will increase to one bus every 6 minutes, with one additional morning peak journey from New Cross to Catford.

Following complaints from some residents about noise, TfL has also confirmed that it is considering moving the start of the N343 route from Jerningham Road to New Cross Road. The end point of the route would not change. They have rejected suggestions that smaller buses should be used.

With thanks to Tamsin and Emily.

Crofton Park library latest

Green Ladywell has a detailed account of the most recent consultation meeting about the future of Crofton Park Library, which was run by officers, rather than elected representatives. Aside from being well attended and uniformly hostile to the idea of the library's closure, the meeting threw up two possible alternative uses:

'Make Believe Arts' outlined what use they would like to make of the building if it does close as a library. This included bringing the upstairs back into use as office and community space, in addition to the downstairs. The building would be more of a (social entreprise run) community centre, a hub for various classes, rather than a library, although they would work with Lewisham Library Services to see if they could maintain some aspects of the library service (eg some books still there, albeit a greatly-reduced number, or some kind of order and collection service of books from elsewhere). They talked about the work they have been involved in at the Leegate Centre, where they have brought an empty shop unit back into use as a community centre.

The Ackroyd Community Centre didn't have a firm proposal as such, but had been approached by council officers and said that they were willing to work with the local community to see how the building could be kept in community use, with some element of library provision incorporated within that, if it closed.

Read on or join the Save Crofton Park Library Facebook group.

Council and Super Council

They'll kill us if they can, Bruce. Every year they grow smaller. Every year they hate us more. We must not remind them that giants walk the earth.

Should Lewisham Council merge with one or more of its peers?

Yesterday, Tory Minister Grant Shapps told Radio 4 that Councils shouldn't cut any front line services, unless and until they had achieved every possible efficiency saving, including merging core functions and sharing CEOs. Today, the Guardian reports that:

The London boroughs of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Kensington & Chelsea have proposed to merge all their services, from schools and refuse collection to child protection, under the direction of a single chief executive.

Merging or outsourcing back-office functions like finance, communications and human resources certainly could make sense, but is a Super Council compatible with the localism that the Coalition says it believes in? We've written before that in many ways Councils are exactly the wrong size for the job they are set up to do - but does a Super Council model improve matters? How much decision-making could be devolved to ward-level and would that lead to an increase in costs?

More importantly, what teams from other Councils would you like? If we could have the people in charge of Southwark's streetscape and Tower Hamlets' shop renovations, we'd be happy. But please spare us from Greenwich Council's communications team or the guys in charge of Greenwich Market's redevelopment. Meanwhile, Lewisham could export its waste management expertise and its press office.

We don't approve of the scale of cuts being imposed upon local Councils (which amounts to central Government passing the buck for a lot of the pain to come), but if cuts must be made, then surely the priority should be to protect services, rather than jobs (although we recognise that the two things often go hand-in-hand).

Chalsey Road Bake Sale, November 14th

Carine writes:

We are hosting a fundraiser at our house on the 14th November. It would be nice to get people from the community to come round. There will be live music, a photography exhibition, and of cake of course. All the donations will go to Children in Need.

If you can't pop, you have no shop

Local artist Emma Cousin is looking for a location in Brockley to open a shop - initially a pop-up. As ever, finding a suitable location is proving tricky for these local entrepreneurs, so she's asking for suggestions from BC readers:

I am trying to put together plans with two business partners to open a shop - pop up to begin with - in Brockley. We plan to present art, crafts, interiors and antiques and generally present a colourful hub of interest on the street.

They're looking to open as soon as possible, so thoughts welcome...

London transport fares to rise by RPI+2%

TfL confirmed yesterday that London transport fares will rise by an average of two percent above inflation from January 2011. Overground, bus, rail and tube fares will all go up, as will travelcard costs. The cost of a weekly zone-2 travelcard will go up from £25.80 to £27.60.

How will the Comprehensive Spending Review redraw the Lewisham housing map?

Yesterday's Comprehensive Spending Review cut the budget for building affordable homes by approximately 50%. This, coupled with major reforms to the housing benefit system and massive cuts in central funding for Local Councils is likely to have a significant impact on the housing map in Brockley and Lewisham.

However, we find the subject completely bewildering, so please feel free to tell us what impact these changes are likely to have.

Chateau Groovy

Property porn meets old-skool hippy in Brockley. With thanks to Nikki.

A study in scarlet

The South London Press has a story about the Ruggeri family, who've painted their Brockley Grove house pillar-box red, creating a local landmark. Insinctively, we like the sound of this, but the photo on the SLP website doesn't give much indication of what it actually looks like, so if any BC readers can get a better one please, we'll post it here.

UPDATE: Thanks to KayinSE4 we now have this photo with which to judge. On balance, it gets a BC thumbs up.

A budgerigar walks in to a bar...

Ed from The Orchard has just got in touch:

Believe or not a budgerigar has just walked (yes, walked) into the bar. We have it safe in a box in the quiet for the time being but it has obviously escaped from somewhere. Can you put a posting on the blog to let people know? It seems ok, and can fly as we found out trying to catch it.

In the meantime I am trying to think of a joke.

Crossrail safe, Thameslink uncertain

The Government's Comprehensive Spending Review today confirmed that the Crossrail project will go ahead as planned, giving Brockley commuters a new link at Whitechapel by 2017 and securing the long-term future of Canary Wharf. Tube upgrades will also be funded, removing any lingering doubts that the ill-fated Jubilee Line expansion would be scrapped.

However, the CSR contained no mention of Thameslink, leading to speculation that the project, which includes improvements to London Bridge and Blackfriars Stations, could be scaled back. Further announcements on transport investment are expected in the coming days.

Vintage Tea Party for Bliss

Brockley Central isn't just here to plug our own sewing workshop enterprises, it also exists to promote events being organised by our friends. In this case, it is at least in Hither Green and in aid of a worthy charity.

The Vintage Tea Party takes place on November 20th, 7pm - 10.30pm. Organised by Helen Westaway in aid of Bliss, the charity that funds research in to premature births, events will include swishing sessions, mosaic making, a range of art and crafts classes, music and of course tea and cake.

eBay auction to boost Lewisham fireworks kitty

As we've reported before, Lewisham Council has asked the public to contribute to this year's Bonfire Night fireworks display, after Greenwich Council withdrew its funding.

Now, having raised £11,500, they are organising eBay auctions to raise extra cash. We can't work out whether we think this is inspiring or humiliating, but it's probably the shape of more things to come. Given the effort it's taken to raise the cash so-far, it probably makes looks Brockley Central look like an efficient way to make money. Here are the details:

Lewisham Council is aiming to boost its public appeal for donations towards this year’s Blackheath fireworks on 6 November by offering the chance to bid on eBay for a VIP night out at South London’s largest firework display. The VIP package includes the privilege of starting the firework display itself.

Blackheath fireworks has established itself as one of the biggest, best, and most popular free fireworks displays in the capital. Last year some 80,000 people flocked to the historic heath to see a stunning display. However, this year’s £36,000 shortfall in funding saw Lewisham Council launch a public appeal for donations on 14 September. So far, almost £11,500 has been raised through public donation and through local Blackheath businesses such as Glendale and The Clarendon Hotel, as well as restaurants Chapters, Bella Vista and Everest Inn. Once again this year the event will also be generously backed by independent fund management company GLC Ltd, who have been involved with the Blackheath Fireworks display since 1994.

The eBay auction will start at 7pm on Thursday 21 October with a starting price of just 99p. Bidding will continue until 7pm on Sunday 31 October.

To bid during the bidding period, go to

Jam Circus comedy update

Compere David has been in touch to update us about Jam Circus comedy nights:

On Wednesday October 20 at Jam Circus you can see seven comedians for only £3. How about free beer too? You can win some with our gag-writing competition.

Headline act is Dutch comic master Wouter Meijs. Wouter has recently moved to London but has been on top of his game on the European scene for more than five years.

Support from Steve Aruni (with Henry the Hoover), Mark Tigwell, Ean Luckhurst, Chris Norton-Walker, Sam O'Neill, Daniel Smith and Joe Bains. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets £3. Book here.

AND a date for your diary December 15th will be the night when the best six comedians of the year battle it out for a cash prize. It's a winner takes all as the audience (you hopefully) decides who is the best and will take home the night's takings. Four comedians confirmed already Lou Sanders, Danny Ward, Mike O'Donovan and Javier Jarquin. This will also be £3. I spoil you don't I?

The Brockley Tea Party?

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters.

One of the Networked Neighbourhood researchers who led a study of hyperlocal sites including Brockley Central has blogged about the question of diversity in this sort of digital community. He says:

The founders I've spoken to about this have set their sites up with a vague sense of social purpose but no explicit intention to promote community cohesion. The sites don’t set out to be or claim to be democratically representative or culturally representative or accountable.

Those we've looked at in our London study are clearly dominated by people who are relatively affluent, educated and empowered. These are the people who put energy into helping the site grow, contributing and generating social capital (vaguely defined) and civic involvement to sometimes enviable levels.

Around them and among them live clusters of less affluent people, renters rather than owners perhaps, people from minority groups and with English as a second language, perhaps people who may not have home internet access but who use telecoms shops in the high street to call family in other countries and access websites in their own language.

We're pretty sure this is a fair summation of the situation on Brockley Central and elsewhere, as it is of nearly every type of civic institution. So long as Brockley Central provides a level playing field for all communities and keeps the discourse relatively welcoming, then we can sleep relatively easy. Certainly, for all the accusations that Brockley Central readers are all one thing or another, there is plenty of argument to suggest there is diversity of opinion on here, if nothing else.

We do our best to seek out stories from across the community, but we know that we see Brockley from a certain perspective that is not shared by everyone. Likewise, the rest of the middle-class editorial team. We want more local voices to speak up through Brockley Central, so if you have a suggestion for an article on a topic not covered here, please let us know.

What we found most surprising was the suggestion that the BC community might largely be middle aged. By the standards of most community groups, this site's editorial team is fascistically young.

However, Alexa - the website ranking tool - has some interesting observations on the demographics of our users. Although its findings need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it reckons that you are indeed disproportionately old, educated and (to a lesser extent) male. It suggests we need to quote The Social Network less and Citizen Kane more.

According to Alexa, you're also more likely to use the site while at work and far less likely to have children than the average internet user - which could explain all the moaning about children in the Brockley Mess that takes place during the hours of 9am-5pm.

The full Networked Neighbourhood research is published later this year and we will let you know its finding. Thanks to the reader who sent the article to us - they describe themselves as a 25 year old white, non-British person, who prefers to remain anonymous, natch!

El's Kitchen, opening October 30th

El's Kitchen, a new deli and fine food store, is opening in Ladywell on October 30th, at 71 Ladywell Road.

Anyone who's been part of El's Facebook group over recent months will know how seriously she has been taking the challenge of sourcing great food and asking local people what they want from her shop. She promises a range of meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, vegetables and chocolates.

El's Kitchen will be open from 8am - 8pm Tuesdays to Fridays, 8am - 6pm Saturdays and between 9am and 4pm on Sundays.

Good luck to El and congratulations Ladywell.

More bikes for South East stations

Hyperlocal site SE1 reports that TfL is seeking to expand the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme at as many as 12 new locations on the South Bank and will add 350 new docking points next to Waterloo Station.

The expansion will make it considerably easier for travellers using London Bridge, Waterloo and Southwark stations to use the service.

The Man With The Flower In His Mouth

The London Particular, 399 New Cross Road
7pm and 8.30pm (approx. 55 mins)
Tickets £10

Brockley resident Liana has just had a play picked up by the Greenwich Theatre for a co-production to be staged at London Particular in New Cross.

She says:

It's written by Luigi Pirandello and is directed by Poppy Burton Morgan (director of Otieno - 4 stars and critics choice in Time Out and Blood Wedding - 4 stars in Metro; and artistic director of Metta Theatre Company). We are performing twice a night (for it's a short and sweet piece-!) at the brilliant London Particular just down the road in New Cross (the play is set in a cafe) from November 10th, wednesday to sunday, at 7pm and 8.30pm.

Doors open 20 minutes prior to the show, so come along for a coffee. With only 20 seats a night, it's advisable to book soon!

Book on-line, call 020 8858 7755, or in person from the Greenwich Theatre.

Teatro Vivo Presents: Adventures in Wonderland

Teatro Vivo, the theatre company that brought Supermarket Shakespeare to the borough, has got a new production coming up:

Adventures in Wonderland is a curious and interactive, promenade journey inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Staged in a Grade II listed Manor House, Wonderland will come to life. But banish those Disney images; this is the dark, dangerous and anarchic Wonderland of Carroll’s imagination.
This is a site-specific sensory spectacle for adults and young people where you can follow the strange characters and backwards riddles to discover scenes, installations and games relating to Alice’s adventure.
Experience the pool of tears, take tea with the Mad Hatter, and play croquet with the Queen of Hearts – but be sure to come last or you could lose your head.

Expect to see Wonderland popping up on high streets, at festivals and in other unusual venues. But catch it first at Manor House Library, Lewisham from 28th- 31st October 2010.

Old Road, Lewisham London SE13

Thursday 28th October 7.30pm
Friday 29th October 7.30pm
Saturday 30th October 7.30pm
Sunday 31st October 7.30pm

Tickets: £10/£5 Concs via website.
Performance Length: 2 hours, no interval.

Brockley and Ladywell Christmas Markets call for stallholders

In only a few years, the Ladywell and Brockley Christmas markets have established themselves as popular fixtures in the local calendar. Once again, both will take place on the same day - this year, December 11th:

Ladywell Village Improvement Group says:

This year, the market will take place at Railway Terrace. As well as offering the best in seasonal produce, unique gifts, arts and crafts and home made tasty treats, we will be keeping the crowds entertained with carols sung by local choirs and a special guest to switch on the Christmas tree lights.

If you are interested in taking in taking a stall at this years market please get in touch soon as they will be offered on a first come, first served basis. The cost of a pitch at the market is £50 for a covered stall. For traders who have their own public liability insurance we can offer a discounted rate of £40 per stall.

If you would like to get involved with the event in other ways we will be looking for volunteers to deliver leaflets in the local area or to be a marshall on the day. Any help you can offer this community event will be much appreciated.

For more information about any aspect of the Christmas Market please email us at or call Alex on 07748 090107

The Brockley Cross Action Group says:

We very much hope you will join us! This year’s event will run from 12.00 midday until 6.00pm and will be located in Coulgate Street next to Brockley Station. The Street will be closed for the day.

We are inviting applications for market stalls for the event. This community event has been a big success over the last 3 years – despite rain in 2008! – and we intend to make the 2010 Market our best yet. The Brockley Christmas Market has quickly established itself as a popular annual event that is well attended, draws the local community together and helps bring a lot of Christmas cheer to Brockley! We also had good feedback from last year’s stallholders, who thought the event was well organised and well attended.

Once again this year we intend to have a Santa’s grotto, live music, a lantern parade, a Christmas tree and a BXAG stall selling mulled wine and mince pies, all with the intention of making the event another memorable success! The event will be well advertised locally to maximise publicity. The Market will be a good opportunity to promote your business. BXAG will provide covered stalls and lighting, with canopies to protect against any rain. The cost of hiring a stall is £40.00.

If you are interested in having a stall for the day please email Erin on

Balanced argument on Telegraph Hill

Daniel: When do I learn how to punch?
Miyagi: Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, karate good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?
- Karate Kid

The campaigners for a skate area in Telegraph Hill lower park (SPAG) have used the no-campaigners' weight and momentum against them, turning on the charm with this delicious new poster that flips all these arguments on their heads.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, @dpsawney pointed out this story from Dorchester, where the installation of a skatepark last year has been followed by a 33% drop in reports in antisocial behaviour. The report says:

The £200,000 skatepark, located at the junction of Maumbury Road and Weymouth Avenue, has earned the approval of Inspector Les Fry, Dorchester police section commander, who said: “This reduction is a tremendous result for the town and shows the real value of having such a good facility. The young people are extremely good at policing it themselves.

SPAG are playing Tri-Dimensional Chess while the Cobra Kais are bashing away on Hungry Hippos.

The Big Bulb Plant

"And that was the only folly the people of Springfield ever embarked upon. Except for the popsicle stick skyscraper. And the 50-foot magnifying glass. And that escalator to nowhere...''
- The Simpsons, Marge vs the Monorail

There are world records and there are world records. The Friends of Frendsbury Gardens are going for an eminently achievable sounding bulb-planting record-breaking attempt on October 31st, but since it's an opportunity to remind everyone of the existence of this lovely pocket park, so much the better. A very small amount of dedication is what you need:

The Friends of Frendsbury Gardens in conjunction with The Rotary Club and Brockley Cross Action Group, will be planting 2500 crocuses at Frendsbury Gardens and other SE4 locations on 31st October 2010 as part of a bulb planting record attempt. This is also an opportunity to raise awareness about immunising children against polio, which is an objective of the Rotary club.

They aim to beat the current record of 331 people planting 5 bulbs each in an hour so need as many people as possible to come and support the attempt. If you are interested in participating, please contact:

Plan to make Coulgate Street one-way

Mark has been in touch to alert us about a public consultation currently underway, to make Coulgate Street one-way, to address road-safety problems that have led to fatal accidents in the area.

He writes:

Thought you might be interested in the plan I received from Lewisham Council regarding turning the Toad's Mouth / Degustation section of Coulgate Street into a one-way section with traffic no longer allowed in from the main road.

Reading your article regarding the station section of the road made me wonder how joined up the council thinking is on this location.

It occurs to me that the Degustation stretch could be part pedestrianised as proposed for the station part - perhaps more so as there are no residential addresses off this bit as far as i can tell, so perhaps ban parking and let the cafes spread out on to the street, leaving enough room for turning buses (if absolutely essential) and delivery access.

However... the real problem around here is over-parking and to lose coulgate street as a commuter parking area, which i would support, would have to go hand-in hand with a CPZ in the station locality in my opinion. I live nearby and know that once you move your car it is near impossible to get back even on the same street to park until late evening when the commuters have gone. Whilst I don't blame them for wanting to get to a zone 2 station and park for free, they do seriously clog the area now we have the overground and probaly contribute nothing to the local economy either.

So with that big proviso, the opportunity seems to exist to extend the part pedestrianisation to the whole length of coulgate street and raise the roadway to pavement level etc. having a bit of 'street frontage' onto the main road for cafe seating may help draw people into the shops nearer the station as well.
However reading the Lewisham letter i suspect all they have in mind is more coloured patches on the road (probably painted into the depths of the potholes) and lots of bollards and signs!

The consultation letter is below:

The Big Draw at the Brockley Mess

Liz from the Brockley Community Church has been in touch about an event they're organising at the Brockley Mess - perhaps one time when the number of buggies won't prove controversial:

The Brockley Community Church and The Brockley Mess are joining together to put on an event as part of The Big Draw initiative that takes place every October.

On Sunday, October 17 (2.30 to 4.30 pm), the local community is invited to participate in collage making on the theme “what does Brockley mean to you?” Participants could draw a favourite view, their journey to Brockley, their street, their room or something that they regard as iconic Brockley. Open to all ages, participants can share their love of Brockley with others at The Brockley Mess (325 Brockley Road London SE4 2QZ).

The finished work will be displayed for all to see on Saturday November 6 at Crofton Park Library 375 Brockley Road, Brockley, London SE4 2AG between 10 am and 4 pm.

Tories pledge to prevent Lewisham library closures

In a radical new approach to local politics, Conservative candidate for Ladywell Ben Appleby has attempted to address a couple of relevant issues - promising to protect Lewisham libraries from closure.

As Lib Dem supporters have discovered, talk is cheap when you don't expect to achieve power, but nonetheless, it's a refreshing approach. Here's the release:

Ben Appleby, Conservative candidate in the Ladywell by-election, and the Conservative team are committed to retaining and improving libraries and other front line services. However, Labour want to close local libraries instead of taking the radical action needed to cut Town Hall waste. Crofton Park library has been earmarked for closure by Lewisham Mayor, Steve Bullock.

Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, after discussing the issue with Ben, said "I am disgusted that the first thing the Labour mayor plans to do is cut library services. No council should be cutting frontline services until it has cut its bureaucracy. I hope the people of Ladywell will get behind Ben Appleby's campaign and vote to keep libraries open“

These are difficult times for all of us, but Conservatives would have found the necessary savings elsewhere:

Efficient collection of council tax
Slashing the council’s marketing and PR budget
Immediate freeze on hiring new bureaucrats
Forensic audit and full transparency on spending
Freeze Mayor’s salary and Councillor allowances
Review all external training, junkets & expenses
Sell assets to repay debt and cut interest bills
Employ quality permanent staff directly

Lewisham Deptford Conservatives’ chairman Michael Rutherford said: “I am disgusted by the Labour mayor’s apparent prioritisation of his town hall empire at the expense of vital local services. I fully support Ben Appleby’s campaign to save the library which is well used by people for miles around.

“To support the 25% cuts to the council budget, Labour want to close 45% of Lewisham’s libraries. This means Mr. Bullock aims to make the council even more inefficient. We have proposed a package of savings that would not only save Crofton Park library, but also the four other threatened libraries.”

Skate park protests resort to double-think

Anybody who doesn't know that politics is crime has got a few screws loose.

- James Ellroy

Having lost the debate at the Telegraph Hill Assembly, opponents of plans to site a small skate area next to the football and basketball courts in the Lower Park have resorted to anonymous leaflet campaigns, urging local people to derail the project by contacting local politicians.

When the popular vote had been cast in favour of the project, we wrote that we hoped the opponents would accept the will of the people with good grace. Like hell they will. Because it's not about reasonable argument and never has been. Look at the hopeless, illogical and contradictory arguments that have been put forward against the plans:

- First it was unacceptable because it would be used by gangs from all over London. Then it was unacceptable because it would be used exclusively by middle class children.

- It's not popular enough as a sport to justify the public money and yet the facility will lead to so many children using it, that there will inevitably be car accidents on the roads outside the park.

- Kids are perfectly capable of trekking to Ladywell or Peckham if they want to skate, but the protestors must have a park just as they want it, right on their doorstep (no walking to Hilly Fields or Peckham Rye park for them!).

- The Upper Park has special acoustics which would have made the noise unacceptable. But the lower park, which is a completely different shape, also has "unique" acoustics which make it unacceptable.

And so it goes on. No amount of compromise (moving the site from the Upper to the Lower park was a sensible concession) will suffice.

Look at the claims now being put forward:

1. "There has been very little consultation..."

The consultation process has been going on for months. There have been Assemblies, leaflets, open days, articles here and on the Telegraph Hill forum. There have been compromises and votes. To say there has been little consultation is simply not true.

2. "The vote does not give a fair representation of local views. Adverts... encouraged children as young as 11 from all areas of London to attend the Assembly meeting and vote in favour."

The vote was won by a large majority in a very well attended Assembly meeting, that had been widely publicised. The votes are overseen by Councillors and officers who would have taken action had there been obvious vote-fixing, such as hordes of 11 year olds turning up to vote for the first time. Note the campaigners don't actually say that any of these people did turn up - you can be sure they would have kicked up a much bigger stink if there'd been any evidence of that. All they can point to is one comment on an internet forum and one article about the issue (not advert) in a skate magazine. The vote was fair and they lost.

3. Noise and the unique acoustics.

Every park's acoustics are unique, but there's no evidence or reason why this park's acoustics should be uniquely problematic. The park is separated from houses by roads on all sides and the area proposed is right next to a basketball court that has existed happily in the park for years, despite being noisy. The area will be tucked below the line of the hill, which will absorb much of the noise. The materials that will be used for the skate park are specially designed to dampen noise.

4. Environment and overcrowding and the change in "feel of this Victorian park."

As stated before, this is next to a very un-Victorian basketball court. Telegraph Hill is a lovely park and will remain so, all the more because children will have a new way to play in it. As for its historic character - perhaps this is relevant to the Upper Park, given the site's historic role in communications, but adding a skate park to a play area will in no-way change the park's character.

5. Community division

It certainly has been divisive, thanks to these campaigners, who've accused the campaigners of variously being gangsters, spoiled brats and more. Sending anonymous leaflets like these is hardly helping matters either.

6. Misuse of public funds designed for "disadvantaged children" - the site should go to another area.

This is either deluded or disingenuous. Telegraph Hill is a very mixed area and easily accessible to a wide range of children. It also contradicts point 4, which suggests the park will become overcrowded, presumably with children from all over London...

7. Erosion of democratic rights.

Oh please. What they mean is erosion of their right to impose their will on the community.