Trip to The Offies pays off for the Brockley Jack

Darren Batten, Resident Producer for the Brockley Jack Theatre writes:

We heard this morning that The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre has won Best Foodie Experience in South East London in The Offies (The Off West End Theatre Awards) beating The Young Vic and many others! We would like to thank all BC readers who voted for us.

This is our second award already this year, following on from Best Venue Directors in The Fringe Report Awards 2011.

The theatre is going from strength to strength thanks to a committed team, a loyal audience and of course Steve the pub manager and staff who serve excellent food to our audiences. Our current Write Now 2 Festival is attracting new visitors and industry professionals from the BBC and The National Theatre to experience thrilling writing by local playwrights.

Boris hails the Overground "the M25 of trains"

The ELL extension to Highbury opened as promised today, with the Mayor on board.

The Wickham Arms Karaoke Competition

The Wickham Arms is staging Brockley's biggest-ever Karaoke competition - an eight week epic with £1,000 of prize money at stake.

It starts on Friday, March 4th at 8pm and is part of a re-energised music programme that includes live acts every Saturday night.

At one point it looked like the Wickham might be sold, but the landlord is instead focusing on putting the pub at the heart of the community.

Anti-cuts collective in sensurround

Barry What's with the gun?
Waj Proper replica man.
Barry It's too small man!
Waj Not too small, brother. Big hands!
- Four Lions

Lewisham is a borough stuffed with writers, broadcasters, actors, artists, designers, marketing and PR professionals...

This video follows on from the Carnival Against Cuts debate, in which we were told that the ultimate target for the campaign was actually the national government. The references to "Butcher Bullock" and the description of "the Tories made us do this" as "mumbo-jumbo gibberish" would suggest otherwise to the untrained ear. We're sure they explain it all on a pamphlet somewhere, but there's no link with the video for further reading.

Telegraph Hill 1905

South East London blogs eat themselves: Transpontine rummaged through the photo libraries we linked to last week and found some early 20th century images of Telegraph Hill. So now we're posting one of the one's he found - if you want to see the other one, head over to the site.

Sewing Cafés

We opened up the Independent today to see what they made of Homemade London's sewing café and workshops to discover that they'd also mentioned the fact you can use Cafe Crema's sewing machines while you eat and drink in New Cross - something we weren't aware of before.

Check out the article here.

World Book Day celebrations in Lewisham

Silly old snake, doesn’t he know, there’s no such thing as a librar… oh!
Without a hint of irony, Lewisham is pulling out all the stops to celebrate World Book Day on March 3rd. A programme of events will take place cross the borough’s libraries, all based on The Gruffalo, the most borrowed children’s book of last year, which was illustrated by Blackheath resident Axel Scheffler.
His eyes are orange, his tongue is black; He has purple prickles all over his back. But enough about Lou Baker, The Gruffalo is a classic and bound to be a popular choice with any under 5.
Here’s what’s happening across our libraries:
BLACKHEATH VILLAGE - there will be a ‘Gruffalo’ themed Under 5s at 9.30 -10am on Thursday 3rd March and another one on Friday 4th March at 9.30 – 10. Also on 3rd March storyteller Sandra Agard will run a Haiku themed event with 2 classes from John Ball School, 10.30-12.
CATFORD - Catford will be theming its regular Baby Bounce around ‘The Gruffalo’ Thursday 3rd March, 2-2.30pm. In the morning of World Book Day we will invite a class in for a ‘Gruffalo’ storytime.
On Sat 05 March we have an event for WBD Book Reviews which we will then put up around the Childrens Library.
CROFTON PARK – ‘The Gruffalo’ will be read at under 5s on Thursday 3rd March, 10-11am and children will also make one in our craft session.
DOWNHAM – classes will be invited from local primary schools to visit the library. They will hear ‘The Gruffalo’ story and then do a relatively short ‘Gruffalo’ themed Library activity. We will also read ‘The Gruffalo’ at under 5's on Wednesday 2nd March, 10-10.30am and them show the film.
FOREST HILL – there will be ‘Charlie and Lola’ activities on World Book Day. There will be a range of Activities plus come dressed as your favourite book character dress up. ‘The Gruffalo’ will be read at the 2 under 5’s sessions, Tuesday 1st March 10am-10.30am and Thursday 3rd March 2pm-2.30pm
GROVE PARK – both local primary schools will be invited to visit the library or staff will visit them and children will be encouraged to dress up as their favourite book character. ‘The Gruffalo’ will be read at under 5’s on Monday 28th February, 10-10.30am and also with invited classes from local primary schools.
LEWISHAM – children will be making a life size papier mache Gruffalo at craft club. There will be a telling of ‘The Gruffalo’ story at under 5’s on WBD, 11.05-11.45am.
MANOR HOUSE –a class will be invited in for an hour session to talk about their favourite books, read ‘The Gruffalo’ story, borrow books and then watch the DVD.
NEW CROSS – there will be a ‘Gruffalo’ themed Under Fives' storytime on Tuesday 1st March 11-11.45am
SYDENHAM - classes from local primary schools will be invited to visit the library to take part in World Book Day celebrations that week. We will read stories such as ‘The Happy Prince’ by Oscar Wilde, one or two Horrid Henry's, and creation stories/legends from around the globe. ‘The Gruffalo’ will be read during the U5s session on Tuesday 1st March, 10.15-11am.
WAVELENGTHS - there will be an under fives storytime special on Thursday 3rd March from 3.30 - 4.30pm, which will have a ‘Gruffalo’ theme.

New music venue for New Cross?

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you."
- Winnie the Pooh

We're enjoying the game being played by the Grizzly Bar, a new venue threatening to come out of hibernation in New Cross shortly. We've written before about their coyness in revealing where they are planning to open, but they've recently revealed on Twitter that they will be a music venue and are currently booking bands for their opening months.

We'll continue to sidle up to them, but until we hear more, it seems as though New Cross is about to get a new live music venue.

Our Future's Orange: Highbury and Islington

Photo: Highbury Clock, from the Highbury Fields Association

Monday's opening of the East London Line extension to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington is an opportunity for us to dust off and update our series of reviews of stops along the line.

Highbury & Islington tube station exits on to the opposite end of the Upper Street from Angel, where the theme bars and shopping enclaves give way to a more diffuse, varied set of attractions.

That’s not to say that the station’s not handy for many of Upper Street’s more popular venues, like The Grand Union (153 Upper Street), The Hope and Anchor (207 Upper Street – the reviews for which read like a BC debate – no-one can agree whether it’s too down-market, too upmarket, full of genuine geezers or been irredeemably gentrified) or the mother ship of the wonderful Ottolenghi empire (287 Upper Street). It’s also the right end of Upper Street for its mini-theatre district, including the Almeida (Almeida Street), “London’s Little Opera House” at the Kings Head Theatre (115 Upper Street) and the beautiful, tiny Little Angel Theatre (14 Dagmar Passage), which specialises in productions for children.

But from Highbury & Islington station, the interesting stuff fans out in all directions. The handsome nearby streets are home to some great places to eat and drink: Just the other side of the roundabout from Highbury & Islington station is the legendary comedy pub, The Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar (109 St Paul’s Road) or go west up Barnsbury Street for The Drapers Arms (44 Barnsbury Street), down Liverpool Road for the outstanding French restaurant Morgan M (489 Liverpool Road) or Compton Avenue for the uniquely beautiful music venue, the Union Chapel. Someday, all churches will be like that.

To the north lies Highbury Fields, the biggest green space in Islington. It’s broad, flat, beautifully-maintained, lined with Georgian and Victorian terraces and all set about with London Plane trees. Beyond that lies London Met University and Arsenal’s home, the Emirates Stadium, which is a stadium which almost any other Club would envy, not least of all, Spurs.

More East London Line destinations:


Forest Hill

Crystal Palace

Shoreditch High Street

Rotherhithe, Canada Water, Surrey Quays



Tea Leaf Arts lives on in the South London Art Map

The South London Art Map launches tonight, with 90 galleries throughout south London staying open late (6.30pm- 8pm). Among them will be local venues including cueB at Brockley Mess, Lewisham Arthouse and Tea Leaf Arts, which has relocated from The Tea Factory to a new home at 110 Endwell Road after its rent free period ran out.

Tonight's event is the first SLAM Friday - late night openings on the last Friday of every month.

The map considers Brockley and Ladywell part of Greater Deptford and also includes Tank Gallery.

Brockley Cross money shop closes

The money shop at 9 Brockley Cross has closed. Notices from bailiffs acting on behalf of the landlord confirm that it will not be reopening. Once a florist, that business had to close a couple of years ago, when the rent was increased.

Ian Smith on Funny Folk Comedy Club

Ian Smith is a Brockley-based comedian, who performs in BBC 2's Popatron and has been described as a 'star of the future' by Time Out.

He also runs The Funny Folk Comedy Club at Goldsmiths, so we interviewed him ahead of upcoming dates on the 8th and 15th of March.

He also appeared alongside another local comedy hero, Holly Walsh in this recent BT ad.

How did you get started in comedy?

I used to be in a sketch group when I was 15, with my two friends, called 'Best before: Yesterday'. As we got older and went to different colleges we had to stop, but I enjoyed making people laugh, and had always loved stand-up, I carried on by myself.

Why did you launch the evenings at Goldsmiths?

I really like runing nights, because I get to book the comedians I love and get to watch them work, and get inspired by them. Also, it gives me a chance to host a night every few weeks, which is a great experience and helps you improve as a comedian quicker I think.

How do you like to run the evenings? Is the crowd all students?

It's usually all students, but anyone is welcome! The audience really make a good night, you can tell when you start if the audience are already really up for it, and you can do different things and experiment. And, of course, the acts. A good night for me is when something unexpected happens that makes people laugh, I like it when I find myself in amongst thr audience shouting at people and being laughed at!

Who have you got coming up and how do you get such big names?

I'm still organising the full line-ups for the next shows (March 8th and March 29th) - but so far for the 8th we have Fergus Craig (Star of 'Star Stories') and George Ryegold (Malcolm Hardee Award Nominee). As I've been gigging I've got to know a fair few acts, but just contacting the acts via emails or agents. My personal favourite has been Tim Key, a real comedy hero.

Who would be your dream booking? My dream booking would be Daniel Kitson. he's incredible, his comedy is moving and beautiful, while at the same time being, in my opinion, funnier than anything else at the minute. You should check out his website and podcasts at

Do you see yourselves as competitors to Happy Mondays?

Not at all - I try to not book on the same days, just out of politeness and it makes sense not to. I think that club is incredible, brilliant line-ups, so people should come to both! (Although, if I haaaaad to choose, I'd say come to the Funny Folk).

From Up the Creek to Happy Mondays and Funny Folk - why has there been such a cross over in SE London between performing and organising nights?

I'm not sure, but ift does seem to be a great area for it! Sunday Special at Up the Creek is probably one of the best, and best value nights, in the whole of London.

You were named one of the top 10 comedians to watch in 2011 - how are you doing so far?

Things are going quite well, I'm just gigging as much as possible, and trying to get more acting work, hoping 'Popatron' will get a second series. I'm doing a double-hander comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe with the fantastic Rob Beckett, so I'm looking forward to that. In 2012 or 2013 I hope to take up my debut solo-show to edinburgh, so that will be the next major thing for me that I'm focusing on at the moment.

What's the best thing about living in Brockley?

I think Brockley's brilliant. Everything you need is very close by. One of my favourite things I'm going to do more of now I don't have a day-job is to go to the Wikham Arms and watch football games.

However, someone recently stole our recycling bin. Who does that? Either someone who hates recycling, or someone who is doing so much they need two bins.

Oyster upgrade: touch in with a bank card

TfL has today confirmed that by the end of next year it will have upgraded all bus, Tube, DLR, Tram and Overground Oyster card readers, so you will be able to pay as you go with your bank or credit card.

Buses will be upgraded in time for the Olympics. Users of Ladywell, Crofton Park and St Johns will be at the mercy of the train companies, which TfL is in discussions with about the technology.

To use them, you'll need to be issued with a contactless card by your bank or card company.

Fans of cheques will still be able to use them to pay for dogcart rides to Baker Street, leaving Lewisham every fortnight (2s 6d).

The future of Ladywell Arena

The Council is to dispose of its management responsibilities for Ladywell Arena and athletics track and is seeking expressions of interests from private or community groups interested in running the Ladywell Fields sports facility.

Green Ladywell quotes Lewisham as saying:

“The Council is currently out to tender for its main leisure contract which expires in mid October 2011. As part of that tender we are asking prospective leisure operators to cost the operation of the Arena along with other leisure centres. However, there has been interest from local organisations in the principle of the Arena being managed by a locally based organisation, given its specific focus on athletics and football. The Council is therefore running a parallel process and asking if there is interest from local organisations with both bidding processes ending around the same time, so giving the Council an opportunity to assess the value ( in terms of best value), of both...

The potential community lease of the Arena does include the Gym. The current cost to the Council for managing the facility is approximately £185,320 per year (this changes with GDP each year).”

Local resident Annette Lewis is attempting to put together a community bid and is organising a meeting on March 2nd, 7.30pm, St Mary's Church, Lewisham High Street. She says:

Lewisham Council has invited bids from private sports groups to take over the running of the track and gym on a 10 year lease. The Arena was opened 13 years ago with Lottery money and has recently been upgraded with public money. The track was resurfaced and the gym redecorated and disabled access improved. The Arena is currently managed by Parkwood Leisure but their contract runs out in October 2011.

A group of regular users are campaigning to keep the Arena for public use which includes free use for pensioners and reduced fees for Lewisham Passport holders including the disabled and low income groups and use of all Leisure centres run by Parkwood for one fee for members. There is a junior gym for young people and groups for wheelchair racers. All this may be lost if Lewisham Council give our Arena away.

If anyone wants to contact Annette, she can be emailed here.

"The Future of New Cross" community services

A new group called The Future of New Cross has been set up for people interested in forming community groups to run frontline Council services being cut in New Cross, including the library, the Amersham Children's Centre and the St James Family Learning Centre.

There is a Facebook group and there will be a public meeting on 7pm April 11th at All Saints Community Centre, 105 New Cross Road if you're interested in taking part.

The Adjustment Bureau

This is an ad, but one for a film we happen to be massively looking forward to, even if this trailer is not as good as others. Another Philip K Dick adaptation, hopefully this is more Minority Report than Paycheck.

Hills and Parkes, Honor Oak

Hills & Parkes are the team that have been running a speciality food stall at Honor Oak Park station for the last three months. It's provoked a lot of appreciative comments from BC readers since it opened so we asked Jacqui, one half of the team, how it's going:

Why did you set up in Honor Oak Park?
Emma and I are both local mums and we wanted fresh, good quality local produce and hoped to find a suitable premises in Honor Oak. Whilst we struggled to find anything appropriate we decided to set up an artisan food market stall outside Honor Oak Park train station. We have had an amazing response from the local community and thank every one for their support.

What stuff do you sell?

We offer a great range of artisan produced food from amazing organic bread from the Blackbird Bakery, cheese from Neals Yard, English charcuterie from award winning Trealy Farm, incredible pies from E London's Eat My Pies, amazing curry sauces from Curry Tree, jams from New Cross company England Preserves and honey from Honor Oak's allotments, chocolate from Bellenden Road and we have been likened to a compact Borough Market.

Would you ever consider doing anything in Brockley?

Hills & Parkes is all about our local area - Hillyfields, Honor Oak Park, One Tree Hill, Crofton Park , Forest Hill and Blythe Hill and we hope that people from those places and beyond would visit us.

Have the authorities been helpful since you started?

As we are outside the station we did need to seek Tfl's permission but we had to get approval from Lewisham Council - who actually have been very supportive of our venture.

What are your plans for the future?

We operate our food stall every Saturday from 9am to 4pm and Sunday 10.30 - 3.00pm we also do catering for private parties and businesses, we provide bespoke hampers to suit a variety of occasions and we supply cakes/bakes to a variety of other outlets locally. We are also developing our website We've got some ambitious ideas for the future, so watch this space.

New London Bridge Quarter

The Shard's baby sister has a new website and has been christened The Place. Together with a vastly improved public realm and bus station, the two buildings form London Bridge Quarter, replacing what was once one of the most soul-crushing parts of the capital.

For Brockley commuters using London Bridge, the site has a few nice images of the new station that we haven't seen before.

Lewisham gets Decent Homes allocation to start vital works

From Lewisham Council:

Lewisham has received an allocation of £94.5m to fund Decent Homes works in the borough - including £25.5m over the next two years - following an announcement by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) about its grant funding allocation.

The funding falls short of the Council's bid of £126m. The allocation of £25.5m over the next two years will enable Lewisham Homes, the ALMO set up to manage Lewisham Council's social housing stock, to make a start on delivering vital decent homes works for thousands of residents in council owned homes in the borough. But the shortfall will leave many tenants uncertain about how and when their homes will be brought up to standard.

Cllr Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said: "I am pleased that Lewisham has received this funding and that we can now begin the Decent Homes programme for Lewisham Homes' residents. However, we will continue to press the Government to deliver on the money promised in future years and we will also seek to secure additional funding to ensure that this programme will be completed."

Julia Cotton, Chair of Lewisham Homes, said: "This is good news as it means we are able to get our Decent Homes programme started. Over the last year we have been consulting with our residents on these works, now this funding has been confirmed these plans can begin to become a reality."

Goldsmiths students sabotage new building launch

Goldsmiths students today chose the formal opening ceremony for the college's new digital media centre to protest against changes to university funding.

Anger was directed toward former Conservative Party Chief Executive and current ITV chairman Archie Norman, who was invited to open the building.

East London Lines reports:

The college authorities attempted to go ahead with speeches in the staff dining room, but scores of protestors burst in as Norman began to speak, blowing horns and chanting. Most of the dozens of bottles of the wine put out for guests instantly disappeared as the event ended in chaos.

The disruption cast a shadow over the opening of the New Academic Building (NAB), the biggest investment on the Goldsmiths campus for many years and which houses the university’s Media and Communications department.

Brockley gets plugged in to London orbital

Farnsworth: Balderdash! I'll be the judge of who's cool, using the cool-o-meter! Good Lord! I'm getting a reading of over 40 mega-Fonzies.
- Futurama

BBC reporter Tom Watson points out one more cool thing about the news that the ELL Highbury & Islington service starts on Monday - it means that the ELL will become part of the new London orbital rail line proper.

A man could travel to Willesden Junction, was he so minded, although he would have to switch platforms at Highbury & Islington. In 2012, we'll be able to go full circle via Clapham Junction.

This re-imagining of the Overground map (from Going Underground) makes the point very nicely.

East London Line: Highbury and Islington extension starts Monday

10.02am Monday, February 28th. The first East London Line train arrives at Highbury and Islington Station.

The final stage of the extension is opening exactly as predicted back in January. Board at 9.28am for a direct train from Brockley. Here is the confirmation from TfL.

All ELL trains thereafter appear to run to Highbury & Islington, according to the TfL journey planner, which is also in line with recent information, but we haven't confirmed this yet and it's possible that some may continue to terminate at Dalston.

Oh East London Line, we love you.

Thanks to IanVisits for the info.

I remember when all this was trees - the buildings of Hilly Fields

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

"The View at Hilly Fields" - a recent proposal to create a cafe in Hilly Fields on alternative site to the one currently being considered by the Council - prompted a lot of discussion about the buildings that had previously existed in the park.

To settle the debate, BrocSoc's Rob has sent us these photos and a map which shows the location of the Refectory and Bandstand that once stood there.

Rob says:

I am not sharing this information as a way of supporting The View’s proposals for the site - I just thought it would be of interest. My own opinion is that any new construction anywhere in the park has to be critiqued based on contemporary sensibilities and concerns. If local people now judge that this particular site is of more benefit to the community as an open space – then that that has to be the most important factor. Precedence shouldn’t be an issue in this case.

A van, a plan, a request, Lewisham!

A mum and baby find their way to Brockley Station blocked by vans obscuring the common

As local residents, we’ve been asking the Council to address the problem of illegally parked vans in Brockley for over year. During this time, the problem has been getting steadily worse – the number of vans is steadily increasing. Late last year, the Council told us that having investigated the complaints, they did not believe that there was any problem and suggested that we keep a record of parking problems, so that they could see for themselves what was taking place.

With your help, over the last few weeks, we have compiled a large file of photographic evidence, which we will be giving to the Council, as they suggested. There are dozens and dozens of photos like this one, which should demonstrate beyond all reasonable doubt that there is a problem that needs addressing.

The Council is currently struggling to balance its budget. At the same time, it is spending approximately £300,000 to make safety improvements to Brockley Cross. Better parking enforcement in Brockley could help the Council raise more funds while ensuring that the improvements to Brockley Cross are not wasted beneath a sea of illegally parked vehicles.

Illegally parked vans are not just detrimental to the look and feel of the area, they harm other businesses’ trade, obscure sight-lines and block pedestrian crossing points. In some cases, they force pedestrians on to the road. They are dangerous and harmful to everyone, regardless of your background. This is not a bourgeois concern.

We have two very specific requests for the Council in relation to this problem:

1. Put sustained pressure on the company responsible for parking enforcement in SE4 to take action against illegally parked vehicles in the area – particularly on Coulgate Street, Brockley Cross and Upper Brockley Road, where the problems are most acute.

2. Reconsider its decision to turn a blind eye to the fact that D&M Van Hire failed to get planning permission for its office in Brockley Cross. To speak to them and ask them to find off-street parking for their growing fleet of vehicles, or face action.

Both requests simply involve the Council enforcing its own rules, in recognition of the fact that the failure to do so is harming the area. This is not an anti-van issue – responsible legal business practices are fine – irresponsible, illegal practices are not.

We think the long-term solutions involve performance-related contracts for parking enforcement companies and the part-pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street, but those are issues we are happy to leave for another day. In the immediate future, it needs traffic wardens and planning officers to take action on behalf of local people.

Thanks again for your help, we'll let you know what response we get from the Council.

Reader offer - The Laundry at the Brockley Jack

Another offer for BC readers from The Brockley Jack:

The Write Now 2 Festival is the Jack's three week season of new plays from writers with a connection to South East London. The Laundry by Joe Ward Munrow and directed by Mark Leipacher, who is well known for his productions of Shakespeare at The Jack, plays from Tues 1 to Sat 5 March at 7.45pm. Tickets £12

About the play: Worn out, weary and working in a Liverpool laundry, Terry needs someone to talk to other than the basement walls. Teenager Ben becomes his new assistant, having left London and his recent past behind. As the laundry's monotony and claustrophobia take their toll, the two men find themselves locked in a violent battle of wills, dependent on each
other for their own freedom and redemption.

BC readers can buy one get one free when they email with their name, date and number of tickets required or pay at the door and quote 'Brockley Central'.

New westside sandwich bar opening soon

Long-time BC pigeon Michael reports that the fit-out work taking place in one of the Mantle Road units (same block as Bohemia Hair) is a new sandwich and smoothie joint, due to open within a couple of weeks. He adds that it will source much of its produce locally.

A sandwich shop would add something new to the local mix and, to give Pavilion their due, it's one of the types of businesses they predicted would eventually open in this row when we interviewed them back in 2007!

It's great to see these units filling up at last, as Jude Court inches towards completion.

Local jobs

This is a new thread for local employers wishing to advertise jobs they are creating in the area. It's a hotlink, which means it will be featured permanently on the home page. Businesses wishing to place other advertisements should email us about our classifieds section.

Posts that are not for local jobs will be deleted.

Jubilee Line signals

Last month, the Overground was officially the most reliable train service in the UK. The Jubilee Line, by contrast, continues to deliver a shocking service.

The BBC reports that we only had 78% of a proper service in 2009/10 and explains that the particular problems of the last few weeks relate to the new signalling technology that all the disruption of the last few years has been for.

The trains and the stations aren't talking to each other properly at the moment, but things are apparently getting better and we should have the full new service by June "at the latest", although the last time we heard, it was supposed to be fully operational in the Spring.

Brockley Common Spring Clean, March 6th

The Brockley Cross Action Group writes:

Spring is getting closer and the worst of winter is behind us. That can only mean one thing: time for our first community gardening event down at Brockley Common!

We need to give all of our community planting beds a thorough clean out, to remove rubbish, cut back & remove last year's dead growth, a bit of weeding and mulching. We also need to do our once a year foray into the wildife area to remove the rubbish and do some pruning, before the birds start nesting.

If we get enough people we might also send a gang across the road to Mantle Road to clean up our other 2 beds over there.

So please put the following date in your diary: SUNDAY 6th MARCH, 1.00 - 5.00pm. Meet outside the Broca Cafe. As ever BXAG will provide all tools and gloves etc (but feel free to bring your own) so just bring warm clothing and stout footwear. BXAG will provide refreshments for all at the Broca at 4.00.

During the day we will also tell you about the exciting plans that BXAG and Transition Towns Brockley have for the north end of the site. We submitted a successful joint bid for funding from the Lewisham Localities Fund so very soon we will start planning some more improvements on the Common!

The Carnival Against Stuff

The News Shopper reports that approximately 1,000 people descended on Lewisham today to protest against planned reductions in Council services, during a 'Carnival Against Cuts'.

Demonstrators gathered outside libraries, banks and children’s centres at 34 locations across the borough, handing out leaflets and singing, before a march took place from the Town Hall.

The action was organised by Lewisham People Before Profit and Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance.

Speaking outside Barclays Bank in London Road, Forest Hill, organiser John Hamilton said: “It’s a focal point for the centre of Forest Hill more so than the library.

“The banks are one of the reasons we have been in this crisis of cuts.”

Those seduced by the Bacchanalian atmosphere are promised bigger, possibly rainier, carnivals in future. John Hamilton, the group's own Henry Winter, says the organisers have more meetings scheduled and are hoping to stage bigger protests in future.

Read the report here.

Haymakers in Crofton Park

Discovered by reader Crofty on the Lewisham Heritage gallery is this photo of haymaking in Crofton Park in 1910. Click here for more from the gallery.

The South London Art Map - coming soon

The South London Art Map is a new website launching on February 21st. It describes itself as a "one-stop resource for the visual arts in South London, from Bankside to Greenwich."

The project is an expansion of the highly-successful Deptford Art Map and an opportunity for this area to showcase its best artists and events, including the Brockley MAX, which has its first planning meeting for 2011 on Monday 8pm, at The Orchard.

Lewisham cuts £33m, doubles the cost of resident parking

Lewisham Council yesterday agreed a package of £33m in savings. In addition to the £1m expected to be saved by closing or transferring management of five libraries in the borough, the South London Press reports that other measures agreed include:
  • Amersham Early Years Centre, in Amersham Road, New Cross, which offers childcare, will also close in August.
  • Costs for the borough's remaining three early years centres will be upped by as much as £50 a week for parents.
  • Charges for the meals on wheels service are going up, there will be less home care support for elderly people and the council will start using staff members rather than consultants to investigate deaths of kids in care.
The Council also resolved to double the cost of resident parking permits from £60 per annum to £120.

Given the abject state of parking enforcement in many parts of the borough, a low-cost CPZ scheme has been suggested by many as a way of reducing parking abuse in Brockley. This move by the Council may put a few off the idea.

Lewisham decides to hand over libraries

In today's Lewisham Council budget meeting, the Mayor accepted officers' recommendation that five libraries in the borough be closed unless a third party can be found to take over their running.

Crofton Park library is among those targeted for closure.

Snipe reports:

Blackheath Village Library, Sydenham Library, Crofton Park Library, New Cross Library and Grove Park Library will all close their doors from the 28th May this year.

The plan met with fierce opposition from local residents, who recently held a read-in protest across the borough.

Libraries fulfill an important role as a community meeting space and provide vital access to books and the internet to those on low incomes and Crofton Park Library is a handsome building, much loved by those who use it and forms an important part of a successful high street. The public sector should invest to equip people with knowledge and opportunity - space to work, read or think is a precious public resource.

However, it is also the case that Crofton Park Library is under-used, under-resourced and has a top floor that is unoccupied. It is surely true that it could be better - and that there is no reason why a social enterprise shouldn't be allowed to try to do a better job.

Some organisations have expressed an interest in taking over its running. If a group can deliver its core remit while using the space more imaginatively and developing new revenue streams, then this could be good news. But that is a very big 'if'.

If not, then we have lost something very special.

Little Kickers expands in Telegraph Hill

Little Kickers, which runs football coaching classes for children, is expanding its Telegraph Hill repertoire, including classes for older kids. Here's the note from the organisers, apologies for including the first line of their email, we try not to big ourselves up too often, but sometimes it's nice to point out that these articles don't just disappear in to the ether, they help local groups reach a new audience...

A huge thank you to you for putting our Little Kickers classes onto Brockley Central. The response has been fantastic and I have no doubt due to the initial exposure you gave us.

Due to this positive response we have decided to launch two additional classes. From Saturday 12 March 2011 we will be running an additional Junior Kickers class at 9:15am and also a Mega Kickers class at 12:10am.

From 12 March 2011 the schedule of Little Kickers classes at Telegraph Hill/New Cross will be:

9:15-10:00am **NEW** Junior Kickers class for children aged 2-3 1/2 years
10:15-11am Junior Kickers class for children aged 2-3 1/2 years
11:15- 12pm Mighty Kickers class for children aged 3 1/2- 5 years old
12:10-1:00pm **NEW** Mega Kickers class for children aged 5 years to 7th birthday

The venue remains the same: The Sports Hall at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College, Jerningham Road, New Cross, SE14 5NY.

We are offering a 7th class free for children who enrol for a course of 6 classes by the 12th March in one of the new classes at 9:15 or 12:10.

Berni Giantsos
LK Football Fun Ltd
Hotline 0207 252 1185

Lewisham NHS Trust seeks Foundation status

Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust is applying to become a Foundation Trust and has opened a public consultation on the matter.

Foundation Trust status would grant it greater freedom from central government and are run as community co-operatives.

The Trust says:

The Government has said that all NHS organisations have to become Foundation Trusts by 2013. If we fail to do so, for instance if we do not gain enough local support, we will merge with another NHS Trust which has achieved Foundation Trust status already.
We believe that we can meet the needs of the local community best if we remain an independent organisation, run by and for local people. We can do this by becoming a Foundation Trust.
With thanks to 'b.'

Chubby rain - flood risk in Lewisham

Fry: Is there anything we can do to help find my friend?
Priest: Well, we could join together in prayer.
Fry: Yeah, but I mean anything useful?
Priest: No.

In March, Lewisham Council will be taking part in a flood-risk exercise called Project Watermark. The good people of Brockley sit relatively high up, away from flood plains, but many homes at risk from flooding are vulnerable to heavy rain simply because the sewers can't cope with the volume of water that heavy rain brings and Lewisham has a number of rivers running through it.

Here's the release from the Council, that explains the initiative:

During heavy rain and at high tide, the Thames and its tributaries are at most risk of flooding. Those areas most likely to be affected in Lewisham borough are New Cross, Deptford, central Lewisham, and low-lying areas around the A21. While the Thames Barrier is designed to help prevent flooding due to high tides, Lewisham Council has also made substantial landscaping improvements to increase the capacity of the borough’s waterways and rivers such as the Quaggy and Ravensbourne.

Now, as part of one of the biggest emergency exercises to be run in England and Wales, Lewisham will be taking part in Exercise Watermark from 4-11 March. The borough’s flooding response will be tested and Lewisham Council will be encouraging residents and businesses to find out whether they live in an at-risk area and make sure they are aware of what preparations and precautions they can take such as:

  • Keeping flood waters out by obtaining sandbags from a builders' merchant and covers for air bricks and other vents.
  • Buy flood-proof products. A comprehensive list of these can be found in ‘The Blue Pages’ directory on the National Flood Forum’s website
  • Check your buildings and contents insurance policies to see what cover they provide for flood damage.

To find out if your area is as risk of flooding and what other measures you can take to protect your home or business visit

Brockley Cross work begins

Lewisham Council's building contractors Conways, responsible for the Brockley Common project, have begun construction work at Brockley Cross today.

This is later than originally planned in the construction timetable, but is not late enough to incorporate any significant changes to the original proposal.

At the recent Brockley Assembly, a motion submitted by the BXAG and seconded by Broc Soc was passed unanimously. It called upon the Council's Highways Department and their consultants to:

Enter into meaningful discussions during the design development process and work closely with community representatives and their Councillors to resolve huge public concerns over the Council’s plans. We urge the Council to work with the local community – the stakeholders and users of Brockley Cross – to develop a plan that we can support, which improves Brockley Cross for pedestrians, cyclists and traffic and makes it safer for everyone.

That has not happened. We hope to confirm the scope of work that Conways has been asked to deliver shortly.

The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth

A campaign has been launched to save Honor Oak recreation ground from a fate worse than death.

Southwark Council wants to turn it in to the land of the dead, taking the place over for some lucky stiffs, since they're running out of burial locations.

If you think the dead have had their fun and they need to make way for the living, please sign the petition here.

Brockley Bites

Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre

BrocSoc have confirmed the date of this year's event as Saturday 18th June. They say:

The performers and events are being booked. Stall application forms are in preparation. New layout is being planned because of the new cricket pitch. Excitement is mounting! If you would like to help organise any aspect of the fayre, just a very small task or something momentous, email or ring me on 020 8692 3829 for more information. We have an organising meeting on Monday 21 February, 8pm.

Lewisham Council TV

Lewisham Council's Mayor and Cabinet meeting on Thursday will be available on streamed video here.

London Bridge targeted for clean up

The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England is taking legal action to force Network Rail to improve its litter clearance at stations including London Bridge.

Chat for Change

This is a sponsored video from BT for Comic Relief, but it features a couple of people with a Brockley connection...

The View - From the top

The Council is keen to find a private partner that will build a new cafe in Hilly Fields and it has targeted the site currently occupied by the toilet block for redevelopment. This would allow them to unburden themselves of the cost of "maintaining" the loos, while enabling the construction of a new community asset.

One possible partner is the development team behind a proposal called The View at Hilly Fields, although they would like to use an alternative location. It's not known at this stage whether the Council will consider other sites, although one would hope that they'd listen to all serious proposals submitted to them.

We ran a story about the proposals here. Unsurprisingly, given how important Hilly Fields is to the whole area and how ambitious the plans are, it generated a huge debate. The large majority of those who posted were supportive of the principle of creating a cafe in the park, but many had questions or concerns about this particular proposal (which is one of two that BC is aware of).

The team has taken the time to address the issues raised in that debate, sending us this Q&A. Whether you approve of their ideas or not, their willingness to engage is extremely welcome and it has helped to provoke a constructive debate about what kind of building we want in Hilly Fields. Whatever the location or design eventually chosen, it is clear that we should be thinking bigger than a tuck shop with toilets attached.

Dear Brockley Central Readers, with regards to The View at Hilly Fields...

Any developer who wins the bid to develop the loo block is called to:

(i) demolish and remove an old toilet block and office

(ii) replace (on the same footprint), a new public toilet,

(iii) an office for the park keeper,

(iv) a café,

(v) on a 20 year lease..?

Limited space, with a limited lease, equals limited return. Indeed one wonders if the council is serious. We genuinely feel that this undertaking will be economically unviable, and possibly even financially disastrous; for additional reasons:

a) that far inside the park would see reduced passing trade

b) the building would be unseen from all three sides/reduced marquee

c) in the dark winter months customers would lack confidence visiting.

It’s the three Rs: Reduced trade. Reduced profit. Repossession.

An additional factor, of huge concern actually, one that plagues park buildings across London; security issues due to burglary and vandalism. If this were solely public money then perhaps one could just shrug one’s shoulders - when it’s your own you’re perhaps a little less dismissive.

However, our concerns do not end there…


The nearby trees have played havoc with the existing building at the loo block site. This is in fact is why the Council needs to rebuild but cannot afford to. There is a huge fissure inside across the length and breadth of the building. It is actually falling down even though it is not very old. (Please go along and ask the park keeper to let you inspect, he‘s quite accommodating.) The drains too may have been damaged by the roots of trees and need constant maintenance.

Four mature trees would have to go or their roots would again destroy the foundations of any new building.

There would be insurance and mortgage issues that would be insurmountable if they remained.

The council is not financing the demolition, or any new building, and the financial risk would rest (solely) with the developer. Repeat, there is no public money. How could anyone, with a 20-year lease, in an environment to a building’s foundations, take on such risk?

Although the above form our reasons for not choosing to bid for the toilet block location we understand that other parties may do so and that at least one, a franchise, may be interested. We are not a franchise, just locals concerned by the risk, but we wish them well.

The View Location

We looked at approximately 12 locations (including the toilet block) and settled on the proposed site - which by coincidence was actually the original site of a Victorian Refreshment House. We did not want to ‘steal’ the view from park users so set the building back; as you may see in the additional photograph supplied to Nick. That said, the location was chosen by the Brockley community circa 1860; in other words chosen by the founders of the park because that position was, to their great thinking, special.

Park users’ do not actually use this section, they either congregate alongside the bench or south where the hill slopes towards Adelaide Avenue. Other users congregate to the north and west, away from this location - which is not in the centre of the park. (In fact the toilet block is central.)

The original building that stood there enhanced the views out some distance - in all weather - and did not intrude on the view enjoyed by other park users. Nor would it now.

How do we make it healthy but interesting - for kids?

We aim to have a section of the interior with different users in mind. Therefore we welcome the pupils at Prendergast; even though some here have posted against this. We will, if the land is ever offered (?), and if we should win a successful bid, and if we should find favour with the community - so many ifs - approach the school kids to design that part of the interior which is exclusively theirs.

What if the building isn’t maintained by you?

The council (freeholder), or the managers of the park, would impose hefty fines. We would also (naturally) be interested in the upkeep of a building that contained our financial futures.

Why does it have to be completed before the Olympics?

We never said that.. This was just an item on the wish list. Given the interest in London during the games, we just hoped to siphon some towards Brockley.


The View at Hilly Fields is a work in progress, seeking community approval and/or input, and it is to be wholly funded by private means. (However, those willing to contribute against any adverse risk are most welcome.)

Domination by building

The photograph shows a building - a house as someone rightly keeps pointing out - at a reasonably close distance. It is not wholly in context with the overall size of that section of the park. (Also the red dot in the other photo is off by 50 feet.) A specially tailored building, with the same sweeping shapes, would, we believe, compliment the park landscape… but that’s just our view. We also understand that this brings change and with change always comes concern. When that concern is about the disposal of public land then we would be amongst those calling for greater clarification and community control.

Connections to sewage, etc.

The location we have chosen is within easy reach of all utilities according to our research. Added to which, the access road to the toilet block site is roughly the same distance from the toilet block location as Montague Avenue is to our proposed site. (However, the Eastern Road access to the toilet block location is, or so we believe, a right of way to Prendergast School - which places visitors and deliveries even further away.)

As one poster suggested the loo block site would be a good position from which to watch her child in the playground… we would say forget it. You would not see your child from that position, but would from the site we suggest. (Visit it and see.)

Proposed design may look dated in 50 years

We can’t argue with this. We actually love Victorian properties, but we would hazard that not even the Victorians knew how long their beautiful buildings would remain.

Be that as it may… the possibility of something looking dated should not form the handcuffs from which the ideas of a new generation are shackled.

Rebuilding a Victorian refreshment house

We do not believe that all building patterns have to follow the Victorian book. However ours is no fait accompli: by any means. This building is by the same designers and was supplied - together with additional work - as one of a set. (The original View House in Argentina is worth seeing in context.) It’s a representative of the design we want to take to enhance the views around Hilly Fields, and an outline of these has been provided to Nick. It is a work in progress, one which we are inviting community participation; alongside those of the designers Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee and others. We emphasise… There is no land currently being made available by the council at our desired location. The image is there purely to challenge, to stimulate, and - hopefully - produce a healthy debate on what can and cannot be. The land was donated by a previous Brockley community. It is that community which decides the merits of development, if any. It is too that same community to which we are proud to offer an investment that will carry over to the next generation.

What will we gain from this development?

We were surprised by this question…

Try rate revenue, taxes, a Section 106 Agreement, a superb iconic building, a facility in the park, and work for locals.

It will not be a McDonalds. However, on the ground floor we will sell teas and sandwiches, the usual park café fare with the usual user in mind, sensibly and affordably priced, and at a mezzanine level - should one be allowed - we will offer that little bit extra. Some call this ‘fine dining’… We believe all dining should be fine; in other words good for your health - even if it comes wrapped in a sandwich.

Why Should ‘alleged’ entrepreneurs build where they see fit.

We’re just looking to improve the community in which we live and there is nothing ‘alleged‘ about us in our community commitment. If the community doesn’t want our money or ideas then that‘s fine. However, to dispel the myth, we cannot build where we see fit. As pointed out already the land isn’t even being offered. (Please remember this.) If it were then the Council would have to ask for your permission to dispose of it. Following this, if you gave that permission, anyone else could ‘express interest’ in building on what we propose. The hurdles to our ambitions do not end there... Anyone interested in such public land would have to have any plans or disposal passed by the following; Lewisham’s Mayor; Legal Department; Planning Department; Building Control; Traffic Control; Glendale Park Management; Hilly Fields Users Group; the Friends of Hilly Fields; Brockley Society; the London Fire Service, the Metropolitan Police, the residents of Hilly Fields… and a host of individual park users.

The land and interior of present building

Lewisham Council has needed to provide decent public loos at that site for some years. It has failed to do so. The park manager Glendale would also like a new park keeper’s lodge, but why should a café owner pay for this? The authority would (naturally) like anyone expressing interest in the land at the toilet block to redevelop (try rebuild) - on its behalf - a public utility it should provide. But is this likely?

Only time will tell.