Zheng He-re

The News Shopper reports that Japan-based photographic artist Ron Zheng is exhibiting at the cueB gallery in the Brockley Mess until September 23rd.

Jam Circus' 7th Birthday Party

Honor Oak Sainsbury's approved

A planning application to allow Sainsbury's to open a "Local" format branch in Honor Oak has been approved.

The development will replace three individual units on the Honor Oak Park parade.

Minutes from the relevant Council meeting can be found here. Thanks to the good people of the Honor Oak forum for keeping us posted.

[Usual full disclosure: Brockley Nick works for a PR agency that does some (unrelated) work for Sainsbury's]


After Lewisham made the Olympic Opening Ceremony so special, our talents were called upon again for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.

Dani sent us this and says:

"Shout going out!! Here's a photo backstage after members of the Lewisham Choral Society performed at last night's Opening Ceremony."

Happily, no-one from Lewisham has yet claimed any connection with the Olympic Closing Ceremony.


Arts group NEW-X-ING writes:

NEW-X-ING is an ambitious independent programme aiming to integrate New Cross’s Community and Institutions. One of the first ideas of a street amphitheatre is being implemented with two weeks of performances coming up at the end of the summer.

Share the excitement of a street-stage offering free public performances from Sept 21 to Oct 6 2012.

Contributors range from Blue Grass to Experimental Sound-bending, Trinity Laban choreographic Interventions to children’s street-dance, from spoken poetry to political debate.

The area outside Goldsmiths Library (on Lewisham Way just by the main Goldsmiths building) is a natural gathering point which is easily visible to bus passengers, car drivers, pedestrians and students. For 16 days this autumn there will be the perfect excuse to sit on the steps and enjoy some local culture.

New X-ING Relay has been developed by Artmongers and funded by Awards for All (part of the Big Lottery fund). The program is in partnership with Goldsmiths College and the London Borough of Lewisham as well as numerous community individuals and organisations.

The Relay is part of New X-ING - a program of creative interventions to shake new life into
New Cross led by local artists and community activists Artmongers. See http://newxing.wordpress.com/ for program information.

Breakspears Mews developers appeal failed bid to build new units

Developers whose plans to knock down and redevelop garages on Breakspears Mews (which runs between Wickham and Breakspears Roads) were rejected have launched an appeal against the decision. The scheme is for:

The demolition of the garage building and shed at Ashby Garages, Breakspears Mews SE4 and the construction of a single storey building comprising 5 work units and a block of 7 garages, together with the provision of a bicycle store and bin storage.

The developers argue that they are doing nothing more than replacing old garages with new ones and that the site has always been used for workshops and storage. The Council refused the plans in May on the basis that they would increase traffic on an unpaved road and intensify commercial activity on site, to the detriment of local residents.

Local residents who want to register their opinion about the plans should contact Vicky Williams in Lewisham Council.


Marge: We have those in America. They're called bull frogs. 
Australian: That's weird! I'd have called them chuzzwazzers!
- The Simpsons, Bart vs Australia 

We met Richard at the first full-scale BC Drinks, back in the days when Jam Circus was practically the only show in town, we knew most of our regular readers by name and people would see fit to moan about a pint costing a whopping £3.20 (the price points change, but the gripes stay the same). So his departure shortly afterwards felt like a bitter betrayal - we take it personally when any of you leave. Happily, four years later, he's back. Since he was around when Brockley was invented in 2007 we asked him to reflect on how the place had changed in his absence. Here's what he says:

When I left for Australia Brockley felt like an area with potential, a burst of exciting developments tantalisingly on the horizon. Returning to Brockley it feels like an area that has started to deliver on its potential and excitingly a momentum has developed that will hopefully mean we don't have to wait so long for more improvements to come!

The first thing I noticed on my return was Brockley Common, the area outside the station looks fantastic. The removal of barriers on Brockley Road and the remodelling of the pavements around Brockley Cross to get rid of all the double parked vans has really improved the area around the station.

The second thing I noticed was how Brockley's shops and restaurants have improved. Old favourites (e.g. Meze Mangal, Barbur, Broca, Jam Circus) have been retained. While places that I remember have disappeared - Toads Mouth Too, Dandelion Blue, Moonbow Jakes - happily their sites have all be taken over by new ventures which appear to be drawing in the crowds. Finally are new ventures that have opened up which I'm keen to check out including El's Kitchen, Brockley's Rock and Coopers Bakehouse. 

I've been to the fantastic Brockley Market twice. Sydney has some amazing farmers markets and I'm pleased that I have somewhere similar to shop from in SE4.

Our areas green spaces have also been improved while I've been away. Perhaps I didn't notice before, but we seem to have a lot of them too! The Green Chain and Waterlink Way link up some great parks that have had their facilities improved. I'm sure we didn't have as many children's playgrounds, sporting facilities and picnic benches when I left. It really isn't very hard to escape from the traffic enjoy some time, or in my case a run, in a long chain of parks.

Has the demographic in Brockley subtly shifted? It feels like there are more young professionals and new families in the area. Dinner in the Orchard, the patrons at Browns of Brockley and shops like Gently Elephant make me think the area is becoming younger and more affluent?

Finally our neighbours seem to be changing too. Development from Greenwich has extended along the High Road and connects almost seamlessly with Deptford which is undergoing an enormous transformation. New Cross seems to be moving up too, I've been particularly enjoying the London Particular café.

I'm very pleased to be back in Brockley. Living closer to Lewisham Way than Brockley station I'm hoping some of the regeneration will rub off on us too. One day the shipping container will go. One day!

Brockley Royale with Cheese

Celine: An imperialist country can use that kind of thinking to justify their economic greed, you know. I - human rights... 
Jesse: Is there any particular imperialist country you have in mind, there, Frenchie? 
Celine: Mmm, no, not really... 
- Before Sunset

BC is currently holed up in Le Marais, an area of Paris that defies both economics and the sensibilities of BC trolls. Every centimetre is occupied by shops selling seahorse wallpaper, antique bagpipes, miniature leather whatnots, rubber Lego-clad notebooks, pressed flower place mats and paper cut dioramas.

Perhaps we're just less attuned to the differences between French people, but Paris seems less easy easy to divide in to tribal areas - however in London terms, Le Marais is probably best described as a haunt for hipsters with money. All is beauty and cool and the menu prices would set off an almighty rumpus in the comments section if a Brockley business dared try them.

In the middle of this, the coolest part of Paris, is an achingly hip furniture shop called Sentou. And occupying pride of place in the middle of the shop floor is a piece of Brockley design - an umbrella stand by Barber Osgerby, the team behind the Olympic Torch, another Brockley icon. We promise we don't go looking for this stuff.

Brockley's cultural imperialism claims the fashion capital of the world.

Inner London least car-dependent place in Britain

The Campaign for Better Transport's (CBT) annual study of car dependency in British cities, released yesterday, found that London is the least car-dependent city in the UK.

London scored so highly thanks in large part to the quality of its bus services and the pre-Olympic investment in public transport infrastructure, but it's a little surprising to discover that London was ever off the top of the list, given the state of most British cities.

Encouragingly, the report found that "London was the only city where we estimated less than half of people commuted by car," and that "low car ownership in inner boroughs combined with low car usage for school travel and commuting helped London to top the driving category."

As the Council conducts a consultation on a possible borough-wide CPZ, predicated on the basis that population growth will inevitably increase pressure on parking space on Lewisham's roads, it's worth keeping in mind that the long-term trend for car ownership per capita in inner London is down. Fewer and fewer people feel the need to own a car, and with most of the new homes being built next to transport hubs (another CBT recommendation) per capita car ownership is likely to experience another big drop.

In six years of living in here, near Brockley station, where large numbers of new homes have been added and where commuters numbers have shot up thanks to the East London Line, we've not noticed any increase in the number of cars parked on our road. Parking is still relatively easy. This is not to say that cars and parking are not big problems in some areas, but that CPZs are not necessarily the right solution.

Peter James goes three days a week

Peter Etheridge writes:

Peter James [the popular Ewhurst Road] butcher is now open 3 days a week. Opening hours are Thursday 8AM to 7PM Friday, 8AM to 7PM and Saturday 8AM to 6PM. He also sells a variety of fresh frozen fish, fresh vegetables and sells home cooked ham, scotch eggs, gala pie, chritzos, panchetta and bottles of kentish apple or pear juice.

The BC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths

This month, we reached 4,000 followers on Twitter, which means it's time for another snapshot of how you use Brockley Central in its various guises.

Since December, we've increased our daily reach from approximately 7,000 to around 9,000, mainly driven by the continuing rapid growth of Twitter, but also thanks to steady growth across all the other channels and the addition of Pinterest. On Facebook, we're still skewing towards women and the 25-44 year-old demographic, with the gender bias becoming more pronounced, while the age profile broadens a little.

It's been interesting to see how the different channels have taken on lives of their own. For example, on Twitter some people have taken to using @brockleycentral like a hashtag for their location ("On my way to meet friends @brockleycentral"), while Facebook serves as a forum for some people (recent posts include updates from Gulens, ads for flats and someone looking for a stolen van). Meanwhile, our actual forum serves as a sober alternative to the furious discussions that take place on the blog and even the quietest local sections (Ladywell, Catford and Lewisham) generate new conversations on a weekly basis.

To be sure, there's a lot of double and triple counting going on with the cumulative reach figure, as people follow BC across a range of channels, but when we began adding it all up last June, the total figure was less than 5,000. Our mission to make this the best-connected part of London continues...

The Walpole to become a hotel [UPDATED]

New Cross Road pub The Walpole is closed - seemingly permanently - and will be converted in to a 60-bed hotel. The landlord thought he'd fought-off the threat of conversion but the doors are now locked and the former owners breezily admit they cashed in - AG&G say:

New Cross takes its name from a coaching inn that once provided accommodation for weary travellers, so it’s entirely appropriate that the site of the Walpole pub in New Cross Road is now set to become a 60-bed hotel – the only one in the SE14 postcode.

It was sold off a guide price of £2.25 million by AG&G’s Anthony Alder, to a Middle Eastern investment company.

The pub is an attractive, flat-fronted Victorian building that comes with a beer garden, letting rooms and two neighbouring shops but it was sold with planning permission for a new hotel.

“There’s such strong demand for large plots in central London and it’s close to the terminus of the East London line, near up-and-coming Stratford and with that precious permission, so the potential was clear,” says Anthony.

The pub had a slightly chaotic recent history but was nonetheless a decent alternative to the Amersham Arms  or the Marquis of Granby.

Thanks to those on the New Cross forum who highlighted the story.

UPDATE: Courtesy of BC readers, here are the before (top) and after (bottom) elevations from the planning documents for the proposed hotel:

The Brockley Mess garden

You wouldn't know it from their website, but The Brockley Mess has a new garden. Here's a picture, courtesy of Esther E, who says it's a cute little retreat.

Not Brockley Central: Hackney City Farm

A miniature alternative to Mudchute, Hackney City Farm is five minutes walk from Hoxton tube station, located inside Haggerston Park, which is also worth a visit.

No surprises with the animals - pigs, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits and donkeys are among the urban farm classics - but the chickens and geese potter about freely and the walled garden and cafe will help you extend your stay.

CAMRA New Cross Mini Beer and Cider Festival

11am - 10pm, August 26th
The London Theatre
443 New Cross Road

CAMRA are helping you make the most of tomorrow's bank holiday by plying you with beer and cider today. They say:

This is a CAMRA mini-festival offering third pint measures from a big variety of bottled beers – possibly a first for London CAMRA. Also available are a few ales on tap and real cider. One of the ciders we’re pleased to offer is London Glider – a new cider whose apples are sourced from domestic gardens and the underused orchards of London (further information about this cider).

The London Theatre has been open only a little while, is really quite modest in size and will be open from 11am to 10pm. It’s situated right by New Cross railway station. Local pianist and musician Paul Milnes will be providing some soft jazz during the evenings. 

The entrance fee is £3 or £2.50 for CAMRA members.

Deptford Film Club Presents: The Global Picture Palace

Today, the Deptford Film Club will screen films from Jamaica, India, Vietnam and DR Congo as part of their world cinema event "The Global Picture Palace".

The event is taking place at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford and the first film starts at 4.30pm.

Details and tickets here.

Style bible: Brockley Market cooler than Borough

On Twitter, Fashion Bite lets us know that Brockley Market makes it in to Elle's "five of the best" markets. Elle says:

Over in Lewisham, Brockley Market is like a cooler, mini version of Borough.

Open on Saturday mornings, they certainly draw the crowds with their huge variety of artisanal fare, that fully supports local farmers and traders.

A rejuvenating smoothie from Horse Powered is the perfect way to start the day. It's part of the local art collective Utrophia, and is made using solar-powered blenders on their cycle-pulled cart.

Veggies can rejoice at Mike + Ollie’s stall, who sell wraps stuffed full of foraged and locally sourced ingredients, while for meat-eaters, Mother Flipper are well-known on the burger scene.

Either way, you can’t leave the market without trying a sourdough doughnut from The London Particular. Utterly delicious.

Council consultation on Lewisham benefit cuts

Lewisham Council writes:

Cut a further £3million from services or cut weekly benefit by an average of around £2 for more than 36,000 households? That’s the stark choice facing Lewisham Council after the Government announced the abolition of Council Tax Benefit.

The Government is passing on the funds for councils to run their own Council Tax Support Scheme, but cutting the total by 10 per cent. Benefit for pensioners has to be protected, so working age people could see their benefit cut by more than 10 per cent.

Faced with a tough decision to cut services or cut benefits the Council is asking for the views of local residents on its proposed scheme. This survey will run until 30 September.

Key facts:

  • There are 114,000 domestic properties in the borough
  • 36,000 Lewisham residents currently receive £28m in Council Tax Benefit
  • 8,333 Lewisham pensioners get Council Tax Benefit
  • 27,928 working age claimants get Council Tax Benefit
  • 5,430 Council Tax Benefit claimants are disabled
  • 8,108 Council Tax Benefit claimants are single parents
Find out more and have your say here.

With Jam and Bread, Lee

The Times today has a "how to" guide for budding cafe entrepreneurs, written by Jennie Milsom, the founder of With Jam and Bread, the Hither Green coffee shop (386 Lee High Road). Jennie writes:

I had been writing a book about London’s quirky coffee shops when I walked past the empty shop near my house that I’d been waiting for someone to turn into a café. A “To Let” sign had appeared in the window. The penny dropped: that someone was me... So started Project Café. 

OK, so I was more qualified than the average rookie. I’d worked in cafés and restaurant kitchens. And through writing the book, I’d researched the gamut of the capital’s coffee emporia — from The Deptford Project’s Off the Rails Café, a converted 1960s railway carriage on the south side of the city, to Look Mum No Hands!, a café-cum-bike workshop north of the river — while picking up key advice from London’s top café-owners. 

I’d spent months holed up writing the book at the communal table in Browns of Brockley, inhaling air as rich in coffee as the chatter around me. But, I soon discovered, there were many more lessons I needed to learn before I could launch With Jam and Bread, my own café in southeast London.

It's great to learn that the Brockley's invisible hand was once again at the centre of something good and it's more anecdotal evidence that good local businesses inspire more local entrepreneurs, creating a virtuous circle of South East London ambition.

I am not Brock

Like Spiderman, we're rebooting a trilogy with indecent haste.

With regards to local curiosities, Brockley Ian insists that "The 'Bug House' on Vulcan Terrace should get a mention at least."

And he's right, here it is.

Synecdoche, Telegraph Hill

For the concluding part of our Three Things: Weird trilogy, we have this house within a house on Telegraph Hill, submitted by Oli. As he says:

I've also really enjoyed this Brockley house which has a little model of itself in the lower right window, like a kind of Spike Jonze film joke: House within a house within a house. I seem to remember that the model has an even tinier model of itself in the lower right window...


Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. 
- Ray Bradbury

We asked for more weird things on local streets and BCers were quick to deliver. Here's a house in Nunhead, courtesy of Oli.

Weird thing

Simon writes:

Weird Thing on Florence Road: Do you think any BC readers would know the meaning behind this?

It's actually this weird thing, which Transpontine has written about recently (and has a better photo of) and it follows previous art installations like this one. If you've got a window and can't think of anything else to do with it, why not stick pictures of John Lydon or Action Men in it?

If you are wondering about any weird things on any local roads, please don't hesitate to send them in to the usual address.

Meze Mangal's Kebabiography

Apologies to all of those (incredulous and excited) BCers who sent us this information over recent weeks while we sat on it, but now the The Standard and the News Shopper have forced us to get our arse in gear, reporting that Meze Mangal is currently ranked the seventh-best rated restaurant in London by users of Tripadvisor.

As they point out, its rating is higher than lofty rivals like the Ritz and Le Gavroche. Truly, they are kings of social media.

Manor Avenue: The Garden of Dog

Manor Avenue Tim writes:

I thought you might be interested to know that Brockley has featured yet again in a pop video. The band are Nottingham-based "Dog is Dead" and they released this single, called "River Jordan", last February.

By all accounts this group are actually quite good and earmarked for bigger things. They have just released their first album with Atlantic Records and are about to embark on their first UK tour.

The setting is the inside of the old United Services Club, which we bought last summer. One of the former squatters emailed me the link. The rooms it was filmed in no longer exist after we demolished the big annex at the back, in fact I was mowing the lawn over the very spot yesterday. So I suppose this is more than just a pop video, it is a historical document of our vanishing heritage, or something.

Pet sedentary

Professor: Had those before?
Brenda: Yeah. They're Pop Rocks; they crackle in your mouth.
Professor: Eat some... thirsty?... What's wrong? Something you might have heard about mixing Pop Rocks and Soda?
Brenda: Well, supposedly, your stomach and your intestines and everything bursts. 
- Urban Legend

Helen wants something cleared up. She writes:

I've just had a charity collector from the RSPCA knock on my door. He said that there was a big problem in the area with people having their cats stolen cats paws superglued together, and then used in dogfights. Can this really be true? Has anyone else heard of it happening?

Brockley in Bloomberg

Heather writes:

I went to the opening of an art exhibition at Bloomberg SPACE (50 Finsbury Square) and they were featuring work about Brockley by Brockley based artist Richard Parry. The paintings were amazing - huge eye catching yellow and black paintings. Here's what the organisers say:

Bloomberg SPACE is proud to present five landscape paintings by Richard Parry. The exhibition is on view from August 17th -September 16th 2012. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm.

Incorporating content generated by baby elephants from Kenya, these new works represent radical suburban imagery in line with an expanded to exhibition-making processes. The Elephant Paintings boldly examine outsourced modes of cultural production in addition to Parry´s own personal artistic motives and desires;

Richard Parry: "Sometimes in life you adopt 4 baby elephants from Nairobi to outsource a Bloomberg painting commission to and concentrate on buying a flat in the emerging London suburb of Brockley. I have done both these things and now share the experience in an exhibition called Elephant Paintings." 

Browns of Brockley and a few local residents make it in to the artworks.

Gulens Wine Bar, Brockley Road

Gulen's Bar
173 Brockley Road

Gulen's Wine Bar is now open, seven days a week. It's been converted from an occasional party venue to an always-on destination and early reviews from BCers suggest it does a mean cocktail.

Please post your reviews here.

Ladywell to London Bridge commuter rides

British Cycling, in partnership with Sky and Lewisham Council, are supporting two Commuter Rides.

Taking place at 10am on Saturday 8 September and Saturday 29 September, these free organised rides will cycle a typical commuter route into the heart of the city from Ladywell Station to London Bridge.

The rides will be led by trained British Cycling Ride Leaders, who will give tips and advice on how to ride in busy traffic and also explain how to plan an effective commuter route.

The aim of the rides is to give anyone thinking of commuting the chance to cycle a commuter route and build their confidence before cycling to work themselves. The ride is also an opportunity to meet other like-minded people who live near you and possibly find a bike buddy to commute with. Register for the rides:

Saturday 8 September
Saturday 29 September

Paralympic torch route through Lewisham announced

Lewisham Council says:

On Wednesday 29 August at approximately 3.15pm, the Paralympic Flame will arrive in Lewisham on Evelyn Street in Deptford. From Evelyn Street it will move to Deptford High Street, go past the new Deptford Lounge on Giffin Street, turn left into Deptford Church Street before handing over to Greenwich on Creek Road at approximately 3.50pm.

Teams of five inspirational Torchbearers will carry the Flame  – each one taking it in turn before they pass the Flame to the next team of five.

Local residents are being invited to help light the way to the Paralympic Games and celebrate the achievements of the Torchbearers as they move through Deptford. There will be entertainment throughout the afternoon at Deptford Lounge and as it is market day, there will be lots to see and do.

The streets along which the Paralympic Flame will be carried during the entire Torch Relay can be viewed at www.london2012.com/paralympictorchrelay. The map gives street-by-street details and estimated start times for when the Paralympic Flame will travel through Lewisham.

- With thanks to Jane.

London's Olympic legacy

Yesterday, we recorded a podcast with Sara Parker from the CBI, in which we opined about stuff about which we know little, hectored our audience about Brockley and reclaimed the Olympic torch for SE4. So a radical departure from our usual agenda.

Here it is: The Olympic legacy – what does it mean for business?

Greenspaces: Silkworks

Lewisham residential development Silkworks (Connington Road) has created a college campus atmosphere next to Tesco carpark. With a small garden at its centre, it's a nice little green stopover, most easily accessible from Elverson Road DLR.

Live-work arts community proposed for Ashby Mews

Now, by popular demand, we bring you the news that a major scheme has been developed, to create a new live/work destination for artists and craftspeople in Ashby Mews.

A series of applications have been submitted to redevelop the former commercial units at the Ashby Road end of the mews, some of which were destroyed by fire in 2008 and have lain derelict ever since.

The Ashby Studios project would create a string of two-storey live/work spaces designed to provide studio space for artists.

The plan is the brainchild of local artist Jeff  Lowe, who works out of one of the existing units. His studio would be have the west facing facade restored and a and another storey added, with an extension to include contemporary living accommodation, private courtyard and a non-residential store.

The Brockley Society is supportive of the principle of sensitive development of Brockley's mews, some of which have become dumping grounds for rubbish. However, the plans are opposed by some residents of Manor Avenue on the basis that the new units would overlook their back gardens.

The question of whether Brockley's mews are valid sites for development is one which has already been debated in principle before on this site, but it would be good to get the views of readers in light of this particular proposal.

The wanderer returns - Teatro Vivo's Deptford Odyssey

The Odyssey
Directed by Sophie Austin Written by Vic Bryson, Sarah Sigal and Michael Wagg.
3rd - 8th September 2012

Mark from Teatro Vivo writes:

A theatrical adventure around Deptford. After it's sell out run in June Teatro Vivo's interpretation of 'The Odyssey' has been invited back to The Albany in Deptford as part of their 'Albany Outdoors' Festival.

'The Odyssey' isn't merely a theatrical re-telling - it's an adventure that takes the audience out through the streets and hidden corners of Deptford finding magical experiences everywhere.

7.00pm for the pre-show
7.30pm for the beginning of the adventure
Tickets £12 / £10 Concessions
www.thealbany.org.uk to book

Serious police incident in Crofton Park [UPDATED]

Reports are coming in of a "serious incident" in Crofton Park this evening, with a heavy police presence near the station. More details to come.

UPDATE: The police have now provided the following statement:

We can confirm there was an incident at Brockley Road, SE4 at approx 19:10 hours yesterday A man in his 20s was taken to hospital where he remains in a stable condition Detectives from the Trident Gang Crime Command are investigating.

UPDATE: The News Shopper reports:

A man is in hospital suffering from gunshot wounds after an attack in Brockley. Police were called to the incident in Brockley Road at around 7.10pm last night (Aug 14), following reports of shots fired.

UPDATE: Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact their incident room on 0208 785 8580 or crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

Brockley's reckoning

BC regularly argues that increasing Lewisham's population density is not just a necessary evil but a good thing. It's not just about doing our fair share to accommodate London's growing population, but about harnessing the energy and wealth that new people bring.

Analysis by The Economist suggests that increasing urban density is an important way of cutting violent crime in the UK. 

Firstly, it reports that London's population growth has been replicated in major cities across the country:

Big cities that were shedding people a decade ago are growing at a terrific rate. London has been swelling since the late 1980s, but its rate of growth has increased sharply. All eight of England’s “core” cities outside the capital have expanded, whereas only one—Leeds, in West Yorkshire—grew even slightly between 1991 and 2001... Not so long ago [Manchester] city centre housed a few hundred people. Now it holds perhaps 15,000-20,000, as students and professionals have moved in droves into converted warehouses and factories... 

But as Sir Howard Bernstein, Manchester’s long-serving chief executive, points out, to thrive a city needs to attract “aspirational” families. Decent family homes are still in short supply—as are decent schools. Britain’s cities flourished during its long economic boom. But many were boosted by public-sector job growth, now over, and may be losing steam. 

Secondly, in a separate article, it shows that gun crime and violent crime have been falling steadily over the same decade, and suggests that increasing urban density may be one of the direct causes of this fall.

The number of firearms offences recorded by police is at its lowest level this millennium. Last year 39 people died from gunshots, down from 96 a decade earlier. This is not just because of better medicine; the number of people entering hospital accident and emergency departments with gunshot wounds has also dropped, from 1,370 in 2003 to 972 last year. Violence in general is dropping. But the fall in gun crime is especially steep...

Finally, there are more law-abiding people around. Moss Side, once one of Manchester’s most notorious districts for gun crime, has become strikingly more peaceful recently. It also has many more inhabitants, lots of them immigrants. George Kelling, an American criminologist who helped devise the “broken windows” theory, reckons that hollowed-out inner cities are particularly vulnerable to violent criminals, partly because there are few people to push the police to take action. Repopulation has helped cut crime rates in New York, he says. The same may be true of Britain’s mean streets. 

Lewisham protestors often object that increasing density reduces quality of life for existing residents. We argue the opposite.

Well-designed high-density development (sometimes high-rise, always filling in brownfield sites), accompanied by new education, health, transport and leisure facilities (paid for by the influx of Council Tax payers and S106 windfalls) improves all of our lives. As Brockley's population has risen, the place has got nicer, livelier and safer.

Instead of building Gotham,we are building Metropolis.

The Cranbrook

The Cranbrook
65 Cranbrook Road

Please post your reviews of this St Johns pub here.

Read the News Shopper's purple prose-laden review here.

Foxes in the midst

"He was thinking of the time that comes to every leader of every pack when his strength goes from him and he gets feebler and feebler, till at last he is killed by the wolves and a new leader comes up--to be killed in his turn."
- The Jungle Book

Katriona Chapman has produced an illustrated book called Brockley Foxtrot. She writes:

The book is about how I shared my garden in Brockley with families of foxes year after year. I ended up kind of falling in love with the foxes, and wrote and illustrated this book as a tribute to them when I moved out of the area at the start of the year. 

You can find out more about the book and see pictures at my website: http://katrionachapman.com/tomatitopress 

I sell the book via that website and also at my online shop here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/106369088/hand-made-illustrated-book-brockley

El's Kitchen is hiring

El writes:

El’s Kitchen is looking for permanent Saturday sales staff to join our young and friendly team of foodies.

If you love good food, care about how it’s produced and can commit to working for us during the busy Christmas period, we’d welcome your application.

We are looking for people who can demonstrate:

· A passion for great-tasting British and European food
· A strong customer service ethic and good communication skills
· A desire to deliver great shopping experiences for our customers
· A zeal for cleanliness
· A keen desire to learn more about food production and provenance, sales techniques and customer satisfaction
· The legal right to live and work in the UK
· You need to be aged 18 or older

If you are interested in working with us, please pop into the shop and pick up an application form or email your CV to el@elskitchen.co.uk

Peckham gives peace a wall

The Peckham Peace Wall, a vacant shop front which was covered in notes by local residents last year in response to the London riots, has been immortalised in laminate form.

The messages, which you can read here, have been captured and turned in to a permanent art installation, to coincide with the one year anniversary of the wave of rioting, which swept through Peckham on its way across the capital.

Thanks to Fintan, who sent us this picture.

Gulen's Begins, August 17th

Gulen's Bar
173 Brockley Road

On August 17th, Gulen's wine bar reopens after a makeover and strategic rethink, which means that they will be open seven days a week (until 1am most nights and 3am on Fri/Sat), meaning we will at last be able to turn up for a drink without wondering whether it will be closed.

The opening party for "the most anticipated cocktail bar in Brockley" is on August 17th, 5pm-3am - entry is free.

It's great to see Gulen's become an open bar, rather than a private party venue and for Brockley to get a proper late-night venue at last.

Council launches public consultation on parking in Lewisham

Alan: Henry I’m right am I not that my distant relative was involved in perhaps one of the most important pieces of town planning that Norwich has ever seen? 
Genealogist: Well he worked in the office of town planner. 
Alan: Changing what was Deering Square in to what is now Deering Lane... 
Genealogist: It certainly made getting in to the centre of town that bit more straightforward. 
Alan: And the rest! If it weren’t for Deering Lane you’d have to come in on the ring road! That an ancestor of mine had to wrestle with that awful decision: on the one hand, the square gave people to sit – a respite from the frenetic pace of life, in Norwich. And yet on the other, I mean direct access to Hobbes Road must have been like the promised land to civil engineers, cutting journey times from the east half of the city in half! He was caught between a rock and a hard place. It must have been ruddy hard…
- Alan Partridge - Mid Morning Matters

Lewisham Council has launched a public consultation about parking policy in the borough. It says:

This review aims to update our parking arrangements, which have been in place for 10 years, to meet the growth we expect for the future. Our population is always growing but our road space is not.

The review will consider whether the Council's approach to identifying areas to be covered by Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) is still appropriate. It will also consider how the Council's parking arrangements can encourage people to visit local businesses, provide fairer access for carers to help residents, and for residents' visitors more generally, and allow for practical arrangements such as deliveries.

The consultation closes on September 28th. Click here to complete the survey.

The review points out that the population of the borough has grown significantly and will continue to grow over the next decade:

Like everywhere else in London, Lewisham's population has increased significantly over the past 10 years. The Census 2011 shows that the number of households (116,100) in the borough has grown by around eight per cent since the last Census in 2001. The population (275,900) is projected to grow further by another 10 per cent before 2023.

However, as the population of London has become more dense, car use has declined and per capita car ownership in the city has fallen, so it would be good to see figures for total car ownership in the borough, rather than assume (as this survey does) that the population rise necessarily means there is greater pressure on parking than there was a decade ago.

With thanks to Michael on the South East London forum.

Olympic Tea Dancing

Freed from the shackles of the Tea Factory, children's entertainment company Tea Dance For Little People is popping up everywhere, organising Olympic-themed events in Nunhead, Hilly Fields, Deptford and Brockley Road.

Challenge No. 1
TDLP Adventures with The Dish & the Spoon
Storytelling, music, movement and heuristic play with dishes and spoons for under 5s.
21st–24th August, 10–11.30am, £5 per child / £8 per family
Venue: The Dish and The Spoon

Challenge No. 2
"Treasure Hunt for the new Brockley Brew"
An outdoor creative & interactive experience for under 5s. Beginning at Pistachios in Hilly Fields park.
27th August, 11am, 2pm and 4pm (45 mins) plus activities all day. £5 per child (siblings under 2 go free).
Venue: Pistachios in the Park

Challenge No. 3
TDLP Adventures aboard The Big Red Bus
Jump aboard The Big Red to discover London's landmarks with the one and only singing conductor for under 8s. Discover London creatively through large scale cardboard construction, map reading, family games, singing and dancing.
29th-31st August, 10am–12pm. £5 per child / £8 per family.
Venue: The Big Red

Challenge No. 4
"Old Shoes for New Shoes" at Gently Elephant
Visit the shoe lady, bring your old shoes and give them a colourful lease of life. Storytelling and visual activities whilst you buy your new shoes.
4th September, 10am–4pm. £4 per child / £6 per family.
Venue: Gently Elephant

Visit the Tea Dance for Little People website here.

The Little Green Screen, Forest Hill

Rivers and People, Ladywell

Ali writes:

I’ve been commissioned by London Bubble Theatre Company to make a short film for Rivers and People – a performance event and celebration of Ladywell Fields and River Ravensbourne, to be held on the evening of the 16th September, 2012.

I am putting a call out for people in the community who use the park in different ways, who are willing to be interviewed about their experiences. If anyone is interested to participate, please do get in touch with me with the following information at alikatiprojects@gmail.com

Contact number/email:
How long have you lived in the area:
How do you use the park:

Nat's that

We've had a few questions from readers about the fate of Nat's Bake and Juice, the Brockley Cross takeaway, which was closed after a police raid in March.

The front of the shop had a lick of paint and at one point looked on the verge of reopening, but readers reported that the police reappeared and the shutters have remained shut ever since. The police confirm:

This was a civil issue between the tenant the owners. On Monday, July 16th, officers attended the scene only to prevent a breach of the peace as it was suspected that there were 'other unauthorised parties' who might be on the premises or arrive whilst the closure took place.

Ladywell Village Cycles

Ladywell Village Cycles
257 Algernon Road
020 8265 4791

Please post your reviews of Ladywell's new bike shop in the thread below and follow them on Facebook here.

Brockley Grove mural

We're grateful to Transpontine for letting us reproduce one of his photos of an excellent mural in Brockley Grove. He says:

This mural is outside Crofton Park Baptist Church in Brockley Grove SE4. I am guessing that it was painted as part of the commemorations for the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act in 2007, as it is themed around slavery.

Click here for the full article.

Malpas Mews completed

Malpas Mews is nearing completion, with a new terrace shielding a small gated community behind it, accessible from Malpas Road. The gate is totally unnecessary but the building is a decent attempt at Victorian pastiche. Work is also underway on a modernist equivalent of this development on Geoffrey Road and it will be interesting to see which is the more successful.

FT: London's state secondaries now best in the country

The FT has published an analysis of six-years of data from English secondary schools, which shows London's secondary schools are now the best in the country and the gap in attainment between rich and poor is lower in the city than anywhere else. The paper says:

There is nothing bog-standard about London’s comprehensive schools these days. After years of policy interventions, the capital’s long-maligned school system has now pulled ahead of those in the rest of the country...

The capital leads the country in standardised tests at the age of 11. And more of its state-educated pupils meet the national benchmark – good GCSE passes in English, mathematics and three other subjects – than any other region.

Comparing children like-for-like, the gap grows. The share of FSM-eligible children from London getting straight As or better in English, maths and three other subjects is double that of the other regions – and triple that of Yorkshire and the Humber.

Anyone who brings up kids in London is well-used to being lectured by irritating and seemingly oblivious out-of-towners about how they "couldn't bring up kids in London" with the state of the capital's secondary schools the number one explanation offered. So this is a nice rebuttal to that myth. It's also interesting to consider the explanations given by The FT for the improvement, namely that London has married investment with educational reform, including the Teach First programme (which places top graduates in to schools), Academies and most importantly, "the London Challenge" - a programme of targeted interventions in struggling schools that ran between 2003 and 2010. Most of the improvement has been achievement by raising London's tail of poorly performing schools, by improving existing facilities rather than creating new ones:

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools, told the Financial Times last month: “I’ve been a London teacher all my life. It wasn’t a good place to be in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s; now it’s one of the top performing parts of the country through London Challenge.”

The paper notes that only one area of the capital falls in to the poorest-performing category - "a tiny speck of Lewisham."

Ghost bike at Brockley Station

BC reader Lep Recorn writes:

I do not know how long it has been there, but there is a very odd Ghost Bike attached to the railings opposite the bench. It is a small child's (~ 2 or 3 years) with stabilisers, a picture in a frame which seems to be the tallest and smallest people from the Guinness book of records and a new testament attached. 

On the railing are some lego stickers. . . as I said very odd. Here's a photo. If anyone knows the story behind it, I am curious to know more. 

Gently Elephant summer sale

Brockley Road children's shoes and gifts retailer Gently Elephant has recently expanded its range of toys and gifts and has begun its summer sale. Helen says: "The Gently Elephant sale us now on, with up to 40% off most summer things and 10% off school shoes."

J&M Soccer School

J&M Soccer School is a soccer school that has been operating from Hilly Fields for fifteen years. It runs regular Saturday morning sessions, from 10am, on a turn-up-and-pay basis. Sessions cost £4 plus £2.50 for every extra sibling.

This month, they will be be running summer holiday classes on the following dates:

14th - 16th August from 10:00 to 12:00
28th - 30th August from 10:00 to 12:00

Visit the site for full details.

With thanks to BrocSoc for the heads-up.

Peckham Rye Victorian Waiting Room open today

IanVisits reports:

There is a hidden marvel at Peckham Rye train station, and it is open to the public on Saturday – the former waiting room. However, this is no mere station waiting room of the sort we might see today, but a vast space with stunning roof.

Bricked up and forgotten for 40 years, it is now being slowly restored as a future cultural space and has been opened for a few days to show off the plans, and the untouched roof.

The Old Waiting Room is now open and closes at 3pm. Entrance is free.

With thanks to St Asaph Roadie.


Bart: So Homer, you saw the big cheese? What'd he look like? 
Homer: Perfect teeth. Nice smell. A class act, all the way. 
- The Simpsons, Homer the Heretic

Gracechurch is a new fundamentalist church in Brockley that believes The Bible is the inerrant word of the big cheese. Simon Abrams writes:

We are a group of people who have been attending churches in Dulwich, Camberwell and central London but all live locally. We meet in Crossways Academy and just wanted to let people know that we are here.

We come from a range of backgrounds including postmen, plumbers, bankers people in IT and consultancy. We are mixed ethnically and are probably a fair reflection of Brockley.

The return of fftang! fftang!

Witness appeal for Vesta Road assault

Police are appealing for witnesses to an indecent assault that took place at Vesta Road. The incident happened on Sunday 29th July 2012 at approximately 18:15 hours. The victim, a 26 year old woman was walking from Brockley Station along Milmark Grove when a young male approached her on roller skates asking her for a cigarette. She refused to give him one, so the suspect skated off.

He returned a short time later and asked her for a cigarette again, she ignored him. He continued to keep returning at which point he slapped her backside. As she walked onto Vesta Road, she then heard skating coming from behind her, and noticed the suspect again, who pushed her up against a gate. He then proceeded to indecently assault her. A struggle took place and she managed to free herself from his grasp, hitting him with her umbrella.

The suspect then made off, skating off along Vesta Road towards Shardeloes Road SE4

He is described as a black male, aged between 14-16 years with shaved head wearing a bright read t-shirt and baggy dark jeans.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call DC Abraham Pino on 0208 284 8372 or alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Shardeloes Road rehab centre abandoned

The landlord of the old bank on Shardeloes Road, has decided to withdraw from the arrangement that would have led to the creation of a drug rehabilitation centre at that location. The decision means that the centre, which had been given permission to operate for a minimum of one year, will not now be built.

The planning committee had given the centre permission to operate on a one-year trial basis with scope to extend its licence to operate if the centre performed well. Treatment providers CRI appealed the decision, asking for a minimum of five years, suggesting that they were not confident that a review after one year would have produced a favourable verdict on the centre's performance. This appeal will not now take place and an alternative solution will be sought.

A statement from the Council reads:

Lewisham Council and NHS Lewisham are looking at fresh plans at how they can best deliver drug and alcohol treatment and recovery services in the north of the borough. 

A treatment centre was originally planned to be housed in the old bank on Shardeloes Road in Brockley for clients that live in Deptford, New Cross and Brockley areas. 

The service there will not now go ahead after the landlord who owns the building decided to withdraw its use due to the length of time it has taken to progress the deal. 

There has been a lengthy consultation and planning process for the proposed services to be delivered from Shardeloes Road. CRI New Direction, which delivers drug and alcohol support services in the borough on behalf of Lewisham Council, was due to run the proposed service at Shardeloes Road. 

Officers across the partnership will now be looking at a range of new ideas to see how and where it can deliver the much-needed treatment and recovery services in the north area. 

For information, help or confidential advice go to www.lewisham.gov.uk and search on ‘drugs and alcohol’ or call the Lewisham Drug and Alcohol Action Team on 020 8314 8226.

Cllrs Vicky Foxcroft and Adefiranye responded to the news, saying:

We are happy that this decision has taken place. We were never convinced that this was the best place for this service. We have felt it may be more appropriate for it to be placed in a health centre, where service users are not easily identifiable and where they can have access to other treatments. We do hope that a more suitable location is found, as we know how important this service is to its users.

Police bid to close Upper Brockley Road businesses successful

Yesterday, Lewisham Police and Lewisham Council were successful in their application toBromley Magistrates Court to close three premises on Upper Brockley Road. Supercuts, the Honey Pot and Gold Crest will remain closed for three months.

The result prompted protests on Upper Brockley Road yesterday, with police attending the scene.

A statement from Lewisham Police said:

Following numerous allegations of disorder, nuisance and anti social behaviour to surrounding neighbours and members of the public Using closure powers under part 1A, Section 11A of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 Brockley Safer Neighbourhoods Team and Lewisham Borough Crime Reduction Service applied to have Supercuts, the Honey Pot and Gold Crest closed after numerous repeated incidents recorded including, drug taking, disorder and anti social behaviour.

The activities in relation to these premises go back many years and after several attempts to tackle the problem through open dialogue, visits and intelligence led operations the police and the council had to take a much more robust approach and put long term measures in place in order to tackle the problems associated with the three premises.

Chief Superintendent Jeremy Burton, Borough Commander Lewisham:

"These premises were a magnet for anti-social behaviour and drug taking. Closing them for three months will bring some much needed peace and quiet to the residents of Brockley and the wider communities of Lewisham. We have made use of the legislation available to us in the best possible way to ensure that such behaviour is not ignored and is dealt with effectively." As a result of the three month closure orders being granted, it means it is an offence for anyone to enter the premises without permission. Those that do will face arrest and can be prosecuted."

The South East London Olympics [UPDATED]

BC must have watched the London 2012 Opening Ceremony five times now. Partly because we had to re-watch it after first seeing it on the big screen in Greenwich, which had speakers so small it would have embarrassed a teenager's bedroom. Partly because it was the most joyous thing we've ever seen. As Ai Weiwei wrote, it was the personal details that made it work so well:

In London [compared with Beijing] there were more close-ups – it didn't show the big formations. It had the human touch. In Zhang Yimou's opening ceremony there was almost none of that. You could not push into a person's face and see the human experience. What I liked most with this was that it always came back to very personal details. And that's what makes it a nation you can trust; you see the values there. Anyone who watched it would have a clear understanding of what England is.

Jostling with the Queen and Mr Bean for "the most face time in an Olympic ceremony" gold medal was Jasmine Breinberg, the lead performer in the musical journey sequence, who, as well as being a Brit School student, is a Crossfields resident.  The Crossfields Estate blog says:

Like all the other performers, Jazz was sworn to secrecy and wouldn't talk about her role before the show. On Wednesday, her mum said, "She is SO underplaying it, says it's no big deal! Two billion watching on telly, 60,000 in the stadium and a feature in an hour long section! She's excited though and having fun."

Together with Humphrey Keeper, the choir boy soloist from Forest Hill, and Doreen Lawrence, who carried the Olympic flag, South East London faces represented Britain to the world.

UPDATE: Here's a video diary by a Brockley nurse who danced in the Opening Ceremony:

The Faircharm Fair, August 4th-5th

Faircharm Trading Estate


The 4th Arts and Crafts Fair organised by Creekside Artists Studios.

The Faircharm Fair 2012 on Creekside Deptford is a showcase of local talent. Artists and designer-makers will over the 2 weekends during the Deptford-X Art festival show and sell their work.

Seventy artists and designer-makers will be exhibiting and selling their work at the Fair and at Ceekside Artists Studios. This free event is minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the Olympics and a great day out for all.

Olympic Night Shift on Blackheath

Lewisham Council wants you to know about another major event they're staging as part of the Lewisham Big Screen festival on Blackheath. They say:

Classical Music: Minus the Rules. A intimate late-night concert as part of the Lewisham Big Screen

The Night Shift is London's unique classical event putting great music into an informal late-night setting.

For this intimate event, in the beautiful surroundings of a wooden Spiegeltent on Blackheath, four musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will be joined by a guest vocalist for an evening of baroque music rooted in London.

Musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Please note that this is a standing event, with very limited seating.
Show finishes at 10pm.

Full SAMPLER programme at www.sampler.org.uk

Cost: £9 advance, £12 on the door, £4 full time students

Booking information:
Contact:  William  Norris
Tel: 020 7239 9370
Email: nightshift@oae.co.uk
Website: http://www.oae.co.uk/event/the-night-shift-4/