Nathan: It's funny. You know. No matter how rich you get, shit goes wrong. You can't insulate yourself from it.
- Ex Machina

Resolute against a rising tide of gentrification - the face of Brockley 2015
In 2015, a record number of new shops, cafes and restaurants opened in the area, but this growth in new arrivals was simply a continuation of a long-term trend, which has shaped previous years. The defining story of this year was the takeover of Essence of India on Brockley Road:

Here was a terrible restaurant that had clung on for a decade of dear life in defiance of its lack of customers, occupying one of the most prominent locations in Brockley in order to do nothing with it.

The previous owners could often be seen staring forlornly out of their front window, wondering why the growing numbers of people wandering past wouldn’t come in. Then, a new team took over, put the emphasis on flavour and character and delivered an immediate turnaround in its fortunes, proving once again that Brockley residents will flock to quality. It was a lesson that businesses across the area finally seemed to have learned and there were upgrades to be found everywhere.

The Brockley Barge smartened up, the Chandos de-danked and Villa Toscana pulled off the same trick as Essence of India, with the same effect. ‘Authentic’ Brockley’s standard-bearer Top Chef rebranded as the eclectic Pistachio while Spar ousted the lacklustre Nisa, made space among the crisp packets for a Cook concession and immediately became the people’s choice among local supermarkets. The tasty but hapless Bird of Paradise restaurant was replaced by stylish salon Blue Tit, which magicked a hoard of new customers out of thin air and Meze Mangal proved to itself that it could smarten up its act and pull in twice as many diners each night.

Elsewhere, professional outfits mushroomed too.

In New Cross, Cafe Crema is to be replaced by Out of the Brew (a venue that has swapped political statements for beer taps), while three pubs have been reimagined: The sepulchral Haberdasher is to become a jolly Fat Walrus, the rowdy Hobgoblin is now merely lively as the Rose and the execrable White Hart is in serious danger of getting good.

The success of Deptford’s crowdfunded community cinema proved that amateurs don’t have to be amateurish, while the organisers of the comically bad Heritage Festival reminded us what can go wrong if they are.

Alongside this wave of independent professionals arrived the first wave of big business interest in greater Brockley. The supermarkets are arriving en masse (two more Asdas and Sainsburys opened or declared themselves this year) and Costa Coffee pitched up in New Cross.

While Barratt and Cathedral group have spent the last few years transforming our surrounds, Brockley has been largely untroubled by big builders - instead enjoying the dubious benefits of smaller developers. In 2015, major developers made the running: The Notting Hill Housing Association made rapid progress on a large site off Tanner’s Hill, Boultbee began to peel the wrapping off 180 Brockley Road and Campus Village submitted plans for two major student blocks on Shardeloes and Wickham Roads.

In aggregate, these changes represented the most rapid pace of development in Brockley’s recent history - driven by and reflected in some of the fastest rising house prices in the country. This then, is what the dread force of Gentrification looks like. So what did Brockley’s year teach us about this most-feared of urban phenomena? It showed us that for all the column inches it generates, gentrification is rather a weak force.

Gentrification – and the professionalism that has accompanied it – has superficially changed much, but fundamentally changed little. Brockley is still the same place I started writing about in 2007, with the same strengths and weaknesses, but with more trees, more places to sit – and more young people sitting in them.

- Contrary to some fanciful predictions by local bloggers, an influx of workers from the City and Canary Wharf hasn’t changed the political map of the area one jot – Labour’s grip on the local reins of power tightened at this year’s general election, while the borough’s left-wing activism grabbed an even greater share of national headlines. Conservative Brockley remains an historical curiosity.

- The vaunted political power of the middle classes hasn’t prevented the local primary school capacity crunch reaching crisis point, although it might be a contributing factor to the slew of good news that arrived in 2015 in terms of future rail and bus provision.

- If the wonderful Brockley Street Art Festival seemed to some like the area’s history of artistic subversion had been co-opted by the man, it didn’t smother individual moments of joyful anarchy that continued to dot the local landscape throughout the year.

- Jones of Brockley, Honeybourne’s and Benedict’s Coffee may represent a slick, genteel new wave of local high street businesses, but idiosyncrasy has not been wiped from our streets. Tiny beer shops, archway jerk restaurants and skater cafes abound, while Paranhodu, The Delight House and Longhorn have shown that this is more than ever a place where any kind of entrepreneur with an idea and some talent can give it a go. And rest assured, the hygiene standards of local food places are as low as ever.

- Gentrification’s footsoldiers, The Brockley Deli and Masala Wala, may have conquered the badlands of Brockley Cross, but 2015 produced some of the worst violent crimes in Brockley’s recent history, in parts of the neighbourhood least-touched by hipsters.

2015 was the year that taught us that the stuff that matters - the culture and community - is a lot more resilient than some would have us believe. However many nice places to sit Brockley produces, nothing ever really changes. And this year, we got the photographic evidence to prove it.

In other words, you can put a shiny new supermarket in SE4, but you won't stop a Brockley cat from doing as he pleases as he sits on your shelves. Then again, the cat's name is Olly, so perhaps he's part of the problem.

Buster Mantis - Ante Up

Deptford archway bar / restaurant / gallery Buster Mantis is now open and throwing a New Year's Eve party to celebrate. Specialising in jerk cooking, it's already earned a decent review from Stylist, which says:

"The food is the real excitement though, authentic Jamaican food without a hint of a gimmick – a mix of small plates and signature smokey jerk."

Please post your reviews here.

The Independent tries the Hilly Fields Parkrun

Indy journalist Genevieve Roberts has written about her experience of joining the 'ominously named' Hilly Fields parkrun. Much has already been said on these pages about this excellent institution, but Roberts' article is a good guide for anyone who's been thinking about trying it in 2016. She writes:

Emma Malcolm, 44, a charity worker for Rethink Mental Illness, is organising today's run. She is one of the 10,000 volunteers who help out each week... Emma is joined by a team of volunteers including John Barron [no relation], 60, from Blackheath. When he isn't running, he volunteers... and is so enthusiastic at cheering others on that he's a big deal round Hilly Fields, credited for many regulars' record runs...

But he warns me: “This is one of the hardest courses. Lots of people come from other runs to improve their times on their home course.”

As we set off, I regret not having been running since the summer – and even then I was only going for little jogs. I also regret having not picked up the clue in the name Hilly Fields. I am swiftly overtaken by a man with a pram. I can hear my breaths draw heavily, but each time I consider halting, a volunteer is shouting encouragement and it keeps my feet moving.

As I complete my last lap around the park, and approach the biggest hill, I slow down on the treacly incline. John Barron springs into action, running up with me, telling me I can do it. His encouragement carries me the last paces to the top and around the corner to a running finish. I come in at 113th – towards the back of the pack at just over 30 minutes – but I'm elated to have completed the course and am determined to come back and improve.

I join crowds who have drifted into the park's café to get drinks. Since the first parkrun 11 years ago, cafés close to each event have become part of parkrunners' Saturday culture. 

Lisa Power is drinking coffee with her father, Sean, 68, and five-year-old son Joseph. They live locally, and Joseph has done junior parkruns 30 times. Lisa started running in 2013. “I got into it to escape my children,” she says. “They love it too. I get half an hour to run to myself. The camaraderie is incredible: within six months of parkrunning, I knew more people in London than I had in 10 years of living here. I see my progress because it's timed; I have achieved something by 10am on a Saturday; and now, when I walk down the street, I find I know people.”

Her enthusiasm seems to be shared by everyone in the café. Tien Wilde, 42, from Lewisham, has run more than 100 times. “No competition,” she says, “It's just against yourself.” She took part in a zero-to-five kilometre running course after having her son Noah, now six. “He's done 12 parkruns now, and he's faster than me,” she says.

Margaret Glover, 54, comes to parkrun with her husband Eric, aged 60. “PE lessons were dreadful when I was at school, and it put me off exercise.” she says. “This has turned me around. People are encouraging, even if you're not good, and it all makes a difference.” She walks briskly as she has a bad knee, clocking a time each week of around 43 minutes.

Each year, every parkrun has the option of holding extra events on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. At Hilly Fields last New Year, a runner had a heart attack. Two doctors running the course helped first-aiders keep him alive until an ambulance came. They saved his life, and he continues parkrunning in Peckham. The British Heart Foundation provided a defibrillator that now hangs inside the door of the café...

For the full article, click here. If you want to join the Hilly Fields parkrun, click here (or turn up on the day!). Thank you to Naomi for the spot.

Vote now for the Newcomer of the Year 2015

Voting for the Best Newcomer 2015 Award is now open. Please head over to the right-hand side of the page to cast your vote for the best new local high street business of the year.

As ever, only businesses in Brockley and Ladywell are counted and businesses need to have changed hands and reinvented themselves to be considered "newcomers". So the excellent Pistachio misses out because it is essentially a refresh of Top Chef, while Muck N Brass falls just outside the catchment area.

This year's list is the longest and strongest yet, with 15 entries, and it's hard to pick a clear favourite. There's plenty there for the hipsters, home-makers, foodies and those who just want their high streets to be useful places to shop, but little for the Brockley boozer.

Here are your choices:
You may vote for more than one business. Voting closes at midnight on NYE and the winner will be announced on January 1st. Last year's contest was won by The Brockley Deli, who joined an illustrious list of former title-holders.

I Am An F.B.I. Estate Agent!

The Reverend Sheridan James wants to shake off the Feds. She writes:

The space above the Hill Station, formerly known as Cafe Fed, is seeking a new tenant.

Over the last 40 years this space has been a library, a cafe and a sixth form common room. This is a terrific space, with great views over London and access to the creative hubs of both the Telegraph Hill Centre and the Hill Station, the amenities of Telegraph Hill, Nunhead and Brockley.

We are looking for new tenants to take that space who will fit with the feel and ethos of the Telegraph Hill Centre. The successful tenant would outline a business proposal that would:

  • be of benefit to the community;
  • work creatively and collaboratively with the Centre;
  • be financially viable and stable;
  • have a proven track-record; and
  • seek a tenancy for a minimum of five years.
The Old Library is a self-contained, single storey open plan space, partitioned into two large
working areas (Units 1 and 2) with an additional office, conference or storage room plus a
galley kitchen and toilets to the rear. The facility forms a part of the Telegraph Hill Centre of
which St Catherine’s Church is the freeholder.
  • Unit 1 approx. 143 sq.m.
  • Unit 2 approx. 53 sq.m.
  • Total approx. 196 sq.m.
The Church will undertake reinstatement to the facility prior to the commencement of a
new letting, or provide a financial contribution to the tenant, if it seeks to undertake works
(to be approved by the Church) itself. The Church seeks an annual rent of £35,000 excluding
business rates, utilities and normal operating & maintenance charges.

We are looking for expressions of interest to be submitted by January 29th. This means simply sending an email to telegraphhill@toucansurf.com expressing your interest, giving contact details and briefly outlining your proposal (in no more than 300 words).

Viewings can be undertaken on Thursday 14th January and Friday 15th January between 10.30 and 13.30.

Coming soon: Chaplin's of London

Chaplin's of London is an established Deptford barber, opening a new branch in Crofton Park, next door to Jones of Brockley.

Following on the heels of KR's Barber Station and Blue Tit, the gentlemen of Brockley have never been so well served for coiffeurs.

Christmas Craft Fair at the Brockley Mess

Hullabaloo NYE 2015

NYE on Telegraph Hill

If Aneurin Bevan were alive today, he'd be a Belieber [UPDATED]

If this is the race for the Christmas number one then the War on Christmas is won.

The Guardian reports that this year's race for the top spot is between Justin Bieber and the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir, with the Canadian only 3,000 sales ahead of our team, who have reheated their mashup of Fix You and Bridge Over Troubled Water - the hippest Christmas collision since Cliff Richard married the lyrics of the Lord's Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

All proceeds from the NHS song will be shared between Carers UK and Mind (including Mind's sister charities in Scotland and Northern Ireland), and a smaller percentage will also be distributed amongst smaller charities in the New Year - plus of course, a number one would be a reminder that the NHS is A GOOD THING that everyone likes.

Download it here and see off the threat from 2009's answer to Justin Trudeau. Thank you to Michael for pointing this out.

UPDATE: The Choir has claimed top spot, securing the 2015 number one spot with a total of 127,000 sales, compared with Justin Bieber's 96,000. Earlier this week, the Canadian graciously urged his fans to buy the Lewisham & Greenwich team's single.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Rob sends us this yuletide favourite - MOBO-nominated grime rapper Novelist performing Endz, shot on the Wickham Road estate.

Brockley Station earmarked for more trains

As a sidenote to its Bakerloo extension plans, TfL adds that Brockley could become one of three new South London "interchange hubs", benefiting from an improved station and more frequent train services. The document notes:

Along with working with Network Rail on their long-term planning process, we will undertake further work on rail improvements for south London. This work will identify where strategic interchanges could be created to maximise the connectivity benefits, including those arising from the extension, to improve orbital and radial travel. 

The work will consider the scope for upgrading existing strategic interchanges such as Lewisham, to deliver faster and more attractive interchanges. Identifying whether more rail services can stop at interchange points on the network, including those along the extension for journeys in and out of central London to reduce pressure on the busy London rail termini, will also be investigated.

BCer Monkeyboy, who flagged the news, says:

"This may be related to whether TfL gain control over Southern services and increase services."

It may also be a reference to the mooted orbital route to Peckham and beyond.

Bakerloo extension work to start in 2016

TfL has now confirmed that it will begin "technical work" on the extension of the Bakerloo Line in 2016. That means they will start thinking how best to operate and deliver it by 2030 - a significant advance on "we're thinking about it", which was TfL's position until this week.

The TfL consultation paper indicates that the Bakerloo would stop at New Cross Gate and confirms that it will travel down the Old Kent Road and terminate at Lewisham, rather than ploughing on to Hayes, via Ladywell and Catford. The factor that gave the Old Kent Road victory over Camberwell and Peckham was the number of new homes that the former route would facilitate. TfL says:

"Our assessment shows that an extension via the Old Kent Road route would provide significant new capacity in a corridor lacking reliable, high capacity and frequent public transport. Reliance on bus travel through the corridor is currently impacted by highways congestion.

"The Old Kent Road would go from having zero capacity on rail to capacity for approximately 65,000 passengers in each direction between Old Kent Road, New Cross Gate and Lewisham per three-hour AM peak period...

"Splitting the extension along both branches [OKR and Camberwell] to Lewisham would significantly reduce the frequency and capacity of the service that could operate along each branch. This would reduce the growth potential that could be unlocked in the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and also risk crowding on either branch due to the lower capacity. In addition, the lower growth potential would reduce the extent to which the higher cost of a two-branch extension could be part-funded by new development."

Labour London Assembly Member for Greenwich and Lewisham, Len Duvall AM said:

“TfL’s latest commitment to the Bakerloo Line extension is very welcome and will significantly improve the commute for countless South Londoners. It is clear however that to have the biggest impact the Bakerloo Line extension needs to go far further than currently planned.

“In 2018 TfL will have the chance to bid to take over the South Eastern franchise and to the take over the trains running into Central London from Bromley & Lewisham. This could have a transformative impact for South Londoners and bring significant improvements to the service they are given even before the extension has started work.”

The Lib Dems' Caroline Pidgeon said:

"While welcoming this announcement I am concerned that the initial proposals merely have the ‘potential’ to extend beyond Lewisham. We need to be truly ambitious and ensure that the Bakerloo Line connects right through to Bromley. Firmer assurances are also need about a new Thameslink station at Camberwell.”

Live At the Rivoli - New Live Comedy Nights

Reginald D Hunter stars on the opening night
Will is starting new a monthly comedy night called Live At The Rivoli.

The first one kicks off on February 26th with an impressive line-up of Reginald D Hunter, Sara Pascoe and Ed Gamble. Will writes:

One of London’s most beautiful venues throws open it’s doors to a new monthly Comedy Club – Live At The Rivoli.

Live At The Rivoli pairs award-winning comics with the splendorous surroundings of the Rivoli Ballroom for a monthly series of unmissable laughter in South East London - kickstarted with a show headlined by Reginald D Hunter.

One of the most brilliantly unpredictable and thought-provoking comedians around - Reginald D Hunter headlines Live At The Rivoli. A regular face on Qi, Have I Got News For You & more, the Atlanta born star has been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award an unprecedented three times and continues to delight audiences and critics alike the world over.

Joining Reginald is the lively mind of acclaimed Live At The Apollo star Sara Pascoe, a special guest TBA and Ed Gamble as host, recently one of the few UK comedians to be invited onto US talk show Conan.

Tickets are £18.50. Click here to visit the website and book tickets.

Brockley school tops Lewisham primary table

The Evening Standard has published a league table of London primary schools, based on the performance of 11-year-olds in the National Curriculum tests earlier this year.

In Lewisham, Greater Brockley schools perform strongly, with St Mary Magdalen Catholic School on Howson Road top of the league for the whole borough. Haberdashers Askes Hatcham, Gordonbrock and Beecroft Garden are numbers 2, 3 and 4 in terms of the Brockley-area schools, in the top third of the Lewisham table. 

Congratulations to the staff and pupils of St Mary Magdelen, who not only came top overall, but also earned one of the highest "value added" scores in the borough.
Thank you to Robert, who pointed it out.

Dawn chorus of the Dead - Campaigners fight to save trees from graveyard shift

This is their Third Runway, nay their Vietnam!

Campaigners are trying to protect 30 trees on (ironically) One Tree Hill from being chopped down to make way for graves. This is an ongoing problem, with a shortage of space in Southwark for burial plots bumping up against a shortage of space for everyone else.

The living should take precedent over the dead. No more space for cemeteries. Cremate us and heat the local swimming pool with our bodies.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for the tip off.

Coming Soon: The Fat Walrus

The Fat Walrus has taken over The Old Haberdasher pub (44 Lewisham Way), strengthening ties between the great families of South East London and Odobenidae. The team have been in touch to let us know that they are aiming to reopen in January 2016.

The use of a jolly, eccentric anthropomorphic figurehead is promising, as is the fact that they're moving quickly to get the pub back open, after it was sold earlier this year. They've already managed to garner some positive coverage via a blog called Enough About Me, which says:

"The new place to watch out for in 2016 is the new pub 'The Fat Walrus'. The brain child of David Mitchell and Gareth Knight previous managers of the New Cross House (now under Greene King management) is set to take the place of New Cross's favourite pub.

"Located in the Old Haberdasher's spot right next to Goldsmiths University, the vibrant, friendly vibe accompanied by a good selection of beers and ales is not something you should miss. It is scheduled to open in early January, so keep a ear out for The Fat Walrus, it's got a ring to it."

Follow them on Twitter here.

Deptford Cinema's Utopian New Year

Rachel: The Greeks had two meanings for it: "eu-topos", meaning "the good place", and "u-topos", meaning "the place that cannot be".
- Mad Men

Deptford Cinema promises a night of intergalactic spectacle, mind-expanding projections, cosmic cocktails and gravity-defying DJ sets to greet the glorious future:

"Utopia is within your grasp! Enjoy a free glass of space wine (prosecco) before 10pm, our regular low drinks prices all night, good vibes + an interstellar party to start 2016! Tickets here.


Robot Santa: Fry and Leela, you've both been very naughty! I checked my list.
Fry: Well... Check it twice!
Robot Santa: I perform over fifty mega-checks per second!
- Futurama
Brockley-based SeventySeven84 specialises in producing personalised gift sacks and say there is still time for people to place their orders to meet Santa's deadline, especially since they are all designed and made in their local studio.

Check them out here.

TfL favours Old Kent Road Bakerloo

SE1 reports that TfL Commissioner Mike Brown has indicated a preference for the Bakerloo Line to be extended to Lewisham via the Old Kent Road, rather than Camberwell. Sounding exactly like a BC editorial on the subject, Brown writes:

"The results of our work demonstrate that the preferred route option for a first phase is from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham via Old Kent Road.

"Any extension would also be supported by significant improvements to the national rail network in southeast London, including the possibility of a new Thameslink station at Camberwell.

"This route alignment could support up to 30,000 homes and subject to funding and securing powers could be completed by 2030."

It sounds as though the plan to extend it beyond Lewisham by sacrificing overland services is on ice.


The 999 Club - Volunteer

Julia writes:

I work for the 999 Club on Deptford Broadway. We work with homeless people and our Winter Night Shelter is now open. We rely on volunteers to keep the shelter running. We are still short of people willing to volunteer on the weekends, so we are having an extra drive to try and recruit more volunteers.

If people are interested in helping, they can find out more here www.999club.org/volunteer

Lewisham Arthouse Winter Fair 2015

The Arthouse team writes:

On Saturday December 12th 11.00 am – 6.00 pm, we’re hosting our poplar Winter Fair again, featuring an array of original artworks, hand made crafts and seasonal gifts. There’ll be something to fit all sizes of pocket, whether you’re a discerning Christmas shopper or art lover.

We’ll be featuring lots of local talent including our studio artists, producers of Mosaic, felted goods, linocut prints, ceramics and much more. Come join in the yuletide joyousness, warm your cockles with a seasonal beverage and a mince pie! And if that isn’t enough jingle all the way to the vibrations of our resident DJ.

Brockley Xmas Market 2015

The Brockley Cross Action Group writes:

We are pleased to present the ninth Brockley Christmas Market, this coming Saturday 12th December, 12.00 - 6.00pm! As usual the Market will be located in Coulgate Street, from Brockley Road to Foxberry Road, outside Brockley Station. The road will be closed to vehicles for the day.

This year will be out biggest market ever! We have 70 stalls selling mainly bespoke arts & crafts and festive items, along with a mix of food stalls. BXAG will as always have their own stall selling mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls. The market offers a huge range of high quality wares and is a great place to do some Xmas shopping!

We have six hours of live music and carol singing, with a packed line up of local talent to entertain you all day long! The music is being organised again this year by the excellent School of Rock!

There will be an Xmas tree lighting ceremony for the kids at approx. 4.30, up on the Common! This year we have for the first time planted a proper living tree, which in time will grow into a fine specimen that can be used for years to come. The tree was kindly funded by the Brockley Assembly.

If you have parked a car on Coulgate Street please help us to clear the street by removing it on Friday evening. We close the street to traffic on Friday evening from 7.00pm.

We look forward to seeing you for what we hope will be a fantastic festive occasion!

Forget everything you thought you knew about Crofton Park Station. History Starts Now

The Partnership grows
This week, Crofton Park became the first station in the Thameslink network to be adopted a local community group.

The Crofton Park Railway Group had already established a garden on spare land at the station and the signing of the Station Partnership formalises the commitment between the two to work together further.

The station garden includes flowers, as well as vegetables, and is looked after by the Crofton Park Railway Group. Thameslink has agreed to let the group expand further on the station, and will also pay for an in-depth survey of the space to support the group's aspirations.

The garden has helped transform an overgrown area of the station which, historically, was plagued with litter, including a number of old mattresses. Since the creation of the garden, fly-tipping has reduced significantly and the group has plans to make it even more attractive to the 700,000 passengers who travel through the station each year.

Perhaps Thameslink will hold up their end of the bargain by throwing some extra trains into the mix.

Brockley Christmas Market, December 12th

The market will take place on Coulgate Street this weekend

The Ladywell Playtower - Time for action

Photo from LVIG
The Ladywell Village Improvement Group (LVIG) writes:

Local frustration has been building over Council's shoddy custodianship of the Ladywell Baths (a.k.a.'The Playtower'), a fine Victorian building much valued and appreciated in Ladywell and far beyond (not least by the Victorian Society) but, sadly, in sorry decline over the last few decades.

Though the Council spent money a few years ago to weatherproof the building there is no real evidence that it is taking the urgent and concerted action required to safeguard the building in the long term.

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group has now launched a petition in an attempt to demonstrate the level of public interest in this matter and to press the Council into more demonstrable and meaningful action.

If we get 8,000 'signatures' by the time the petition closes in February we will be able to secure a debate in full Council. Please can Brockley Central readers sign the petition here.

Catch Me, Lewis Barfoot

More Brockley music: Local chanteuse Lewis Barfoot filmed her debut video at Asylum in Peckham.

Frozen Christmas, December 12th

The Sport of Kings

Corin writes:

Regular players needed for long-standing 5 to 7 a-side football games, where numbers are running a little low.

Where/When: 8 o'clock on Thursdays at King's College Sports Ground, Brockley Rise.
Standard: Quite good. The main aim is to do some exercise, not to win at all costs. A visit to the pub afterwards has been known.

Cost: £5 a game, or cheaper if bought as a block.
Contact: corin.naylor@hotmail.com or simply turn up on the night.

Labour: The Party - December 13th

Celebrate the spirit of unity and solidarity that pervades the Labour movement right now. Kate Tempest is playing along with Sophie from the Night VI and local DJs. Kids welcome. Tickets are available here.

Benedict's to open tomorrow

All the ladies singles

Sian's looking for fresh blood for the badminton court, no noobs. She says:

The Honor Oak Ladies Badminton Club has spaces for 2 new members.

We are a friendly group of an intermediate level who meet on a Wednesday 8.30-9.30 at Honor Oak Community centre. Bring your own racquet. Cost £6-£10 a month (depending on membership levels) – ladies only – sorry but we don’t take beginners.

We currently have a coach who trains us (roughly) once a month and we play games in the other sessions.

There is a mixed group who play 6.15-8.15 at the same location if anyone is looking for a mixed group. Again no beginners (sorry).

Contact sian.griffiths@talk21.com

Colour in Brockley

Francois writes:

We are very proud to launch “Colour in Brockley”, a colouring book about Brockley designed by Nicolas Wild and published by Made in Brockley itself. With a humorous pen, Nicolas depicts seven scenes to colour in.

Nicolas Wild was a “Made in Brockley” special guest for 10 days. He is a graphic novelist who became famous with his comic book series “Kabul Disco”, chronicling his 2 year humanitarian mission in Afghanistan.

The colouring book is available for £5 at MadeInBrockley.

The Catford Bridge Tavern to reopen next year

The Catford Bridge Tavern is due to reopen next Christmas, after Lewisham Council approved the planning application by the new owners. Ambitious plans to renovate the pub stalled when the pub caught fire earlier this year.

The Solitaire team confirmed that they have received approval for their post-fire plans and are aiming to reopen the pub by Christmas 2016.

Brockley's last line of defence

After the discovery of Nazi bullet holes in Brockley Cross, Barbara has revealed on the BC Facebook page that her neighbour has part of an anti-aircraft battery lodged in her back garden. She notes:

"A small bit of the anti aircraft battery is still in our neighbour's garden on Pepys Road. It's so well embedded no one has been able to move it."

Ladywell Christmas Market 2015

Nazi slugs Lodged in Brockley Cross

Transpontine has discovered a boys-own bit of local history. Bullet holes that remain from World War II. He writes:

The novelist David Lodge (born 1935) grew up in Brockley, living at 81 Millmark Grove from 1936 to 1959. Walking home from school during the Second World War he had a narrow escape:

'One afternoon we were a few hundred yards from the railway bridge that traversed Brockley Road just before Brockley Cross when a German aeroplane flew over our heads firing its machine guns, perhaps at a train on the line, though its main target was said later to be an anti-aircraft battery on Telegraph Hill... Some of the bullets hit the white-tiled walls under the bridge and left pockmarks which were still discernible the last time I looked, about fifty years later'.

To see the holes, click here for Transpontine's photo.

Surrey House site targeted for redevelopment

An application has been made to redevelop Surrey House, a large site on the corner of Shardeloes Road and Lewisham Way. Part of a wider plan by Campus Village to develop new and improved student accommodation for Goldsmiths, the application is for:

The demolition of the existing single storey link block and replacement with four storey block above to provide a new link and site entrance to create 35 new student accommodation rooms at Surrey House, Lewisham Way SE14, together with alterations to the front elevation, re-landscaping of the courtyard and provision of photovoltaic panels and cycle storage spaces.
The plans include a new block on Shardeloes Road
Raymont Hall on Wickham Road and Chesterman House in New Cross are also part of Campus Village's plans. To view the application, click here.

Full disclosure: I am a member of Council for Goldsmiths.

Application to redevelop Raymont Hall

An application has been made to redevelop Raymont Hall on Wickham Road. The building provides accommodation for Goldsmiths students and the application has been made by developers Campus Village Living for:

The construction of a two storey extension, forming the 4th and 5th floors to the main block fronting Wickham Road and demolition of existing single storey garden building and replacement with two storey garden building to create 40 new student accommodation rooms at Raymont Hall, Wickham Road SE4, together with the demolition of the external stair link, alterations to the front elevation, the provision of cycle storage spaces, photovoltaic panels and associated landscaping.
The application is available to view here.

If approved, the building will continue to be used by Goldsmiths students. Full disclosure: I am a member of Council for Goldsmiths.

Brenchley Gardens Winter Wonderland

Brenchley Gardens is a beautiful sliver of parkland that runs between Camberwell New Cemetery and Aquarius Golf Club, at the south western extremity of Greater Brockley.

If you've never explored it, then the Brenchley Gardens Winter Wonderland on December 19th (12-5pm) is a good excuse to have a look.

The event itself will feature all the usual stuff: crafts, games, stalls selling local produce and plenty of food and drink. It takes place at the Don McCoan Community Centre (113-143 Brenchley Gardens).

The Telegraph Hill panto: Dick Whittington

The Telegraph Hill Centre writes:

Dick Whittington – New Cross’s very own gloriously fun fundraising Panto, back for it’s 6th year!

This year funds raised will go to Telegraph Hill Centre, an independent community organisation supporting the local community, Carers Lewisham, an amazing organisation which does so much to support people across the borough, and Bold Vision, a local charity which develops local projects.

Join Dick Whittington and his cat in this tale of derring do and (mis)adventure. Meet a host of ripe and rambunctious characters, friends and foes as Dick and his Pussy fall into all sorts of tricky traps on their journey from rags to riches.

  • Friday 4 December 2015 – Doors Open at 7:30PM – Bar/Cafe available
  • Saturday 5 December 2015 – Doors Open at 3pm – pop-up Cafe available
  • Saturday 5 December 2015 – Doors open at 7.30pm – Bar/Cafe available
  • Sunday 6 December 2015 – Doors open at 3pm – pop-up Cafe available

Tickets: £6.00 – £12.00 – BOOK HERE

Brockley Anathemata

Mike, from the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, writes:

On Wednesday 2nd December at 12:30pm at 67 Arabin Road, SE4 there will be an unveiling of a maroon plaque to commemorate the Great War poet, soldier and artist David Jones (1895-1974), who is buried in the  Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries.

Born in Brockley in 1895 he served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during the Great War, having interrupted his studies at Camberwell Art School, and was wounded at the Battle of Mametz Wood during the Somme Offensive in July 1916.

Of all the Great War poets he served the longest on the Western Front and his superb poetic memoir 'In Parenthesis' published in 1937 won the prestigious literary award The Hawthorden Prize and was described by writer T.S. Eliot as a 'work of genius'.

A convert to Catholicism, he spent time with the sculptor and artist Eric Gill and his calligraphy and brilliant artistic outpourings were compared by the art historian Kenneth Clark to those of the artist William Blake. He suffered greatly from the trauma of the trenches which resulted in nervous breakdowns and much of his artistic imagery is defined by these formative experiences.

Following the publication of his second long poem 'The Anathemata' in 1952 his critical acclaim as a poet and artist merited the accolade from Poet WH Auden as' probably the finest long poem written in English this century'. David Jones died in Harrow in 1974 and was buried in the family grave in Ladywell cemetery.

The campaign to recognise Brockley's most illustrious poet, soldier, artist has been spearheaded by the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries and all the funding to pay for the maroon plaque was sourced from the generous donations of admirers of David Jones with the support of the Homeowners and Lewisham Archives.

The maroon plaque celebrates the achievements of former residents of Lewisham Borough. The unveiling will be undertaken by Nicholas Elkin, trustee of the David Jones Society and great nephew of the war poet.

Following the ceremony a space has been reserved at the nearby Brockley Jack and all are welcome,

Provender, Honor Oak Park

Provender is the upgrade of former HOP deli Hills & Parkes, which sold up in October. Looks nice - please share your reviews here.

Have a Brockley Market Christmas

Toby from Brockley Market writes:

The last full market of 2015 will be the 19th December - we will be open on the 24th Christmas eve (from 10 - 12) to pick up Christmas orders (Meat From The Butchery, fish/seafood from Veasey and Sons, turkeys geese & cockerels from Fosse Meadows - we will also have fresh bread from Astons, House of Sverre Smoked Salmon ,Brockley based Blackswoods Cheese, Perry Court Christmas Veg, wine from Le Grappin, Pork Pies from Hartland Pies, Charcuterie from Moons Green and a few others pitching up on the 24th to take care of final bit and bobs for festive meals.

Kent grown Christmas tree orders being taken from Saturday 28th November at the market.

Visit us at brockleymarket.com to be kept up to date of Brockley Market Christmas News - we will be closed on December 26th and January 2nd, we open again weekly from 9th January 2016.

The White Room closes

The White Room, the fashion and sewing studio in Crofton Park, is closing. The founder Nicky Cook plans to relocate to open a pattern cutting studio in new premises. Nicky writes:

"It's been 3 years since I opened the doors of The White Room to bring fashion, fun and creativity to our leafy corner of South East London. I have loved every minute of it! Now there are new plans afoot......with clients like ASOS and Top Shop using my patterns I have decided to take the plunge and open my Nicky Cook pattern cutting studio doors in a new premises this Spring.

"Although it is sad to say goodbye to our White Room studio, it is time to celebrate all that we have achieved over the past 3 years. I want to say a huge thanks to everyone for the support, encouragement and fun you have brought to me at The White Room."

The White Room was an exotic business in our midst and will be a loss. But if we must lose a local business, it's nice to see it go on to bigger and better things. It closes just before Christmas.

Wheelchair tennis, Ladywell

Penniless Cove - Tuesday

Penniless Cove are a Brockley-based band whose latest video was shot in Hilly Fields, Manor Avenue and The Broca. Check it out.

Boomerang plan to link Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf

Only yesterday, Brockley Central was idly Tweeting that copying Copenhagen's newest bridge and aerial bike lane would have been a good way to get the Rotherhithe-Canary Wharf foot bridge project back on track. Today, architects ReForm revealed a much better idea - a boomerang bridge, which could be raised for tall ships but which would allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross without having to ascend spiral staircases, as the original design proposed.
As we've said in the past, new river crossings in East London are vital for future growth on both sides of the river. As the Guardian notes, this one would provide a direct connection between "at least 3,300 new homes and places for 2,000 new jobs, [which] are fast rising out of the ground at Canada Water to the south, with 105,000 jobs at Canary Wharf (a figure that’s set to double by 2030)."

At the moment, getting from one side to the other is a difficult business and Rotherhithe remains a strange, beautiful isolated peninsula that's fascinating rather than fun. A bridge would mean life would finally find a way.

The Guardian adds:

"Having parted company with [transport campaigners] Sustrans, the bridge designers are now pressing ahead to launch their scheme and looking for private funds to make it happen. With an estimated construction cost of £88m – half the price of the garden bridge – and some of the world’s richest companies next door (the bridge will land right next to a site planned for JP Morgan’s new HQ), it’s not hard to imagine lycra-clad bankers queuing up to throw their money, and their logos, at the project."

New Spanish place will be local to Brockley

L'Oculto is the a new permanent home for Flavours of Spain, purveyor of fine Spanish foods at Brockley Market.

L'Oculto will occupy the venue where they recently hosted a series of hugely popular pop-up events during the summer - 57 Loampit Hill - which currently operates as a gallery and creative space.

More details soon, but Flavours of Spain have earned a reputation a high-quality bunch, so this should be good.

Brockley Barge earns Good Beer Guide entry

The weekend's article about the newly refurbished Crown Tavern triggered some discussion of the Brockley Barge, with some wishing that it could be more like the Tavern and less like a Wetherspoons.

Pubs and restaurants are in short supply in the area and are essentially strategic assets for the neighbourhood, so it's inevitable these kinds of discussions spring up from time to time. But while the resurrection of local pubs like The Talbot and The Honor Oak as relatively upmarket boozers is welcome, it's important to acknowledge that The Barge is a successful, busy pub with a diverse clientèle.

The Barge is actually that rarest of things: a community pub, used by students, families, young professionals and yes, some elderly alcoholics who treat it as a cheap form of sheltered accommodation.

Not only that, it has raised its game in recent years, improving the environment, discouraging some of the wrong-uns that have traditionally frequented it and expanding its offer.

The Barge has just celebrated its entry in the Good Beer Guide, which says of the place:

Caesar has been the general manager at the Brockley Barge since 2013, and he's been with JDW for almost 20 years and he knows a few things about running a pub. 

Caesar did explain though that it's the good work of all the staff that produces success, not least the pub's cellar champion Thomas. "Thomas and I work together on targets for improvement and are now selling more beers than ever."

The pub does seem different from say ten years ago, more customers for a start - locals, local Jamaicans, people on the way back home from the office, students, dating couples, friends of all ages, at two separate tables nearby French was being spoken, a few hipster beards were visible - all to the sound of people enjoying each others company it's what a pub should be.

They also look after their staff pretty well, according to my housemate who works behind the bar there.

My view is simple - where businesses are failing, closed or behaving criminally, then let's upgrade them to something that people want. Often that will mean "nice places to hang out" - the third spaces on our high street, which are so loathed by anti-gentrifiers but which are what paying customers actually want. Bars, restaurants, cafes, salons and more often than not, some fusion of all four. We should be unapologetic in calling for more of these things.

But when something works and keeps lots of people very happy, then let's turn our attention on the places that are struggling. If any pub needs to rethink its approach, it's the Wickham Arms, which limps on without investment or clear direction.

Meanwhile, let's celebrate The Brockley Barge for what it is, rather mourn what isn't.

The Crown Tavern, Lee

Look what the people of Lee have wangled themselves: A beautifully refurbished pub, with a lush garden. The team at The Crown Tavern proudly declare:

Dating back to 1887, The Crown Tavern has now been given a fresh lease of life whilst still retaining its original character, complete with a redesigned outside space and expansive dining room, serving seasonally changing British dishes.
Many of the popular pub’s traditional fixtures have been preserved whilst the new interior makes subtle references to travel, celebrating the pub’s historical links to the original railway line in Lee that ran behind the Tavern.  Design features include booths styled like train carriages with antique lighting and luggage racks, travel-stamp print upholstery and vintage railway signage and maps.
Head chef Tristan Downes oversees the bright and airy dining room complete with private terrace featuring a pergola and built-in log fire. Must-try mains include seared hake and scallops with a brown crab and potato cake, shrimp sauce and wilted kale; a duo of Devon lamb of pan seared rump and a slow roasted lamb shoulder shepherd’s pie with charred courgettes; and a tasty Yorkshire Fettle cheese tart with herbed Cornish potatoes and salad.

Lewisham's average wage is £474 per week

The Office for National Statistics has produced an interactive map of Britain, which allows you to compare average pay in different regions of the country. The average weekly wage for a job in Lewisham is £474 overall and 643 for men in full time employment or £567 for women in full time employment.

Worth noting that though the Lewisham average is exactly the same as that of Greenwich, it is far less than that of Southwark, which has an average wage of £645. The gap between Lewisham and Southwark is about twice as big as that between Lewisham and Middlesbrough. 

So when people ask why Southwark has nicer street furniture and libraries than Lewisham, it's worth bearing in mind that our neighbours are considerably better off than us working for businesses that pay lots of rates, which means they place less stress on the social services that Councils have to provide. That's not to let Lewisham off the hook for its spending decisions, which are sometimes baffling, but it's important context.

Wild House Prices

As hipsters get a little older, they tend to move a little bit further down the line in search of a little more space and develop a fondness for vintage what nots and baking, to fill those spaces. Wild Horses describes itself as a "vintage lifestyle store" on Dartmouth Road in Forest Hill and clearly understands its market.

That's all for now, but keep an eye on their website for more details. Thanks to Magnus for giving us an excuse to talk about Forest Hill.

Mappa Brockli

Illustrator Kerry Hyndman has created this map of Greater Brockley. We'll forgive her for making Nunhead the centre of this particular universe.

Lewisham and Brent share IT services to save £2m per year

Whenever the subject of frontline cuts to Council spending comes up on BC, someone argues that the Council should conduct a more aggressive efficiency drive, with shared services being the most obvious way to deliver savings. Today's announcement provides supporting evidence for both sides of the argument about Council efficiency. In a statement issued today, Lewisham Council says:

"Lewisham Council is to share information technology (IT) services with Brent Council from April 2016 in a deal that will see each council save £1m per year.

"Lewisham Council has chosen a shared solution with Brent Council as the best way to deliver an improved service at a reduced cost.

"Lewisham Council needs to update its existing IT infrastructure and to agree new arrangements to support that infrastructure. Lewisham Council’s current IT infrastructure and support is provided by Capita under a contract that expires on 1 April 2016."

Coming soon: Benedict's Coffee

Crofton Park's new cafe is performing a slow striptease on Brockley Road. Benedict's Cafe will help to offset the recent loss of Pat-a-cakes and its imminent arrival means that this area is sustaining a current average of one new place to eat or drink every week or so.

Thanks to Molewife for the photo.

I like my bags like I like my postcodes: Cheerful and obvious

The Guardian's tote feature puts Brockley in the heart of London
When a Brockley tote bag makes it into the Guardian, that's a BC article right there. In a meditation on the appeal of tote bags, the Guardian's deputy fashion editor, Hannah Marriott writes:

Tote bags can signal your postcode with GPS-like accuracy. In Walthamstow, east London, it’s all about a William Morris Gallery tote or a Toy Library anniversary bag. 

Five miles south-west, in Highbury, you’re no one without a La Fromagerie sack. Another eight miles further south and “I heart Brockley” bags – inevitably made from organic Fairtrade cotton – are all the rage.

That Brockley bag would not win you friends with the fashion or the art crowd – it’s far too cheerful and way too obvious.

Click here for the article.

Free parking to boost Lewisham Christmas shopping

Lewisham Council writes:

We are once again offering people the opportunity to park for free on the first three Saturdays in December.

Shoppers will be able to park for free all day in all council-run car parks in Blackheath, Catford, Deptford, Forest Hill, Lewisham and Sydenham on Saturday 5, 12 and 19 December.

The start of the free parking offer falls on 5 December – the traditional start of the Christmas shopping rush – and also the UKs ‘Small Business Saturday’ which is a national campaign to encourage people to shop in their local high streets in the run up to Christmas.

The free car parking offer only applies to car parks that are managed by Lewisham Council and does not include on-street parking, Lewisham Shopping Centre (which is privately owned) or Blackheath Station car park which is owned by Network Rail.

For a list of all participating car parks visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/freeparking

The Lizards Within Us, Enclave Gallery

David Icke's line of defence was clear. When he said lizards, he really was referring to lizards. He was not talking about cockroaches, or amphibians in general, contrary to the suggestions mooted at the meeting in Vancouver, but Annunaki lizards, specifically, from the lower fourth dimension.
- Jon Ronson, Secret Rulers of the World

The fourFOLD collective is staging its last event at Deptford gallery Enclave (50 Resolution Way, Deptford SE8 4AL). They write:

The Lizards Within Us is a multi-sensory installation in which Phoebe Boswell uses film, drawing, sound, and interactive sculpture to examine how storytelling, nuance, and language aid our personal predilections towards belief.

Exhibition times are Thursday to Saturdays 12-6pm, until 27th November. There's a talk next Saturday 21st 4-6pm, plus a late night opening on the Friday 27th from 6-9pm.