Deptford - like a big bear

Jon Favreau plays Deptford in 1996 classic Swingers

Deptford optimists claim that the place is up-and-coming – that its potential as a creative cluster to rival Hoxton and the influx of some much-needed public investment will eventually yield results. Deptford pessimists argue that they’ve heard that story for ten years and its time will never come.

They're both wrong. Deptford’s time is now.

Murals on every other wall. Galleries and workshops in every other industrial unit. Giant snails in every other market stall. Cafes in every other mode of public transport. Livelier than Blackheath, more varied than New Cross or Forest Hill and with more places to stop and spend time than Lewisham, Deptford rivals Greenwich and East Dulwich as a place to explore. If you don’t like it, it’s because you’re not trying.

Deptford High Street
One of many Deptford murals

The Deptford Art Map (now the South London Art Map) captured just how much Deptford now offers in terms of culture, while the Deptford X festival, institutions like Laban and the Albany and new arrivals like Utrophia all create new reasons to discover it. An undeniably scruffy place, it also has outstanding urban retreats in the form of the Deptford Project and the Big Red and recent improvements to Douglas Way have created a pedestrian-friendly ribbon through its middle.

The APT Gallery

The Crossfields Estate, which occupies a large chunk of Deptford’s heart, combines a strong community ethos with good use of greenery while the new build housing nearby is in the most part pretty handsome stuff. Schools like Tidemill and Ashmead have worked hard to earn good reputations.

Deptford’s transformation is not quite complete. A golden library and modernised railway station are taking shape in its centre while to the south east, new flats, a gallery and possibly a four star hotel are about a year from completion. The huge masterplan for Convoys Wharf now looks like it finally has funding in place and could eventually bring significant numbers of new jobs to the area.

Deptford's new library takes shape

When Brockley Central first moved to SE4, someone teased us that Brockley is basically upper Deptford. We’re happy with that.

10 ways Deptford will get your digits:

The Laban Centre
A world-class dance centre, winner of the Stirling Prize for architecture.

The Albany Theatre
Arts centre with an excellent range of productions and activities for kids throughout the year.

Deptford Market
A large food and clothes market that runs down the high street three days a week.

The Deptford Project
The converted railway carriage that doubles as a delicious café is the heart of an arts complex hunkered under brick arches.

The Big Red
Even without the novelty of being able to eat in a converted double decker, this pizza restaurant and bar, managed by a hyper-kinetic Spaniard, transforms a brutal spot in to a Balearic retreat offering wicked mojitos, tasty pizzas, white leather sofas and a flowery sun trap. Pop next door to the Bird’s Nest pub too.

The nearby Deptford Deli may have been forced out by flooding, but Wellbeloved butcher has been a local favourite for many.

Creekside centre
An environmental education centre that organises low-tide river walks.

The Royal Albert
One of the best pubs in the area. Nearby Dog and Bell also worth a visit.

Not the world’s greatest leisure centre, but in a borough starved of swimming pools until the Lewisham and Forest Hill centres step up, this is an oasis.

Proving that there’s room on the high street for more than just bookies, Bearspace does some of the most interesting art programming in the area.

Visit the Deptford forum.