From Bird of Paradise to Blue Tit

Brockley is to Peckham as Clapton is to Dalston. Achingly cool salon Blue Tit is opening on Brockley Road, taking over the slot previously occupied by the much-praised, seldom-frequented Bird of Paradise restaurant (258 Brockley Road).

Blue Tit Peckham
Blue Tit Dalston
Blue Tit opens on March 5th and, based on the look of their salons in Dalston, Peckham and Clapton, the company must have done some major work on the former restaurant. The Brockley branch will be "70s inspired and is headed up by stylist Bradley Stratton."

When one of the unloveliest stretches of Brockley Road gets the Blue Tit treatment, we can be sure that the area's development has entered a new phase.

Thanks to Paul and Thomas for the heads-up.

Life Drawing in Ladywell

The New Ladywell Tavern has a new life drawing class at its new gallery.

Meeting every Thursday from 7.30pm - 9.30pm, classes cost £10. The organisers say:

Whether you’re stuck at stick-people or a budding Waterhouse, these weekly classes are for you.

Professional models, an experienced and enthusiastic tutor and materials provided: all for the bargainous price of £10 a session, payable on the day. Booking is advised to ensure a place.

You can either do this by emailing the tutor (Lottie) at, calling her on 020 8314 0096 or adding yourself to the Facebook Group.

 We’ll be using a range of mediums so please make sure you wear suitable clothing (i.e. something you don’t mind getting a few smudges on!).

The Blue Room, Crofton Park

The Blue Room is a pop up restaurant run by Crofton Park resident Sonia from her home, every Friday and Saturday night from 7pm. She says:

My aim is for it to be a social event where people can mingle and get to know each other in a fun, relaxed environment. The meal consists of a choice of two starters, main courses and desserts with soft drinks, tea, coffee & chocolates. It's currently BYOB while I wait for my alcohol licence.

The price of the menu is currently £35.00 per person but this could change depending on what the menu consists of. I email the menu in advance so my customers can get their choices back to me.

Like me on or follow me on twitter @blueroom0112

The Deptford Cinema starts next month

The Deptford Cinema opens in March.

The community-run, Kickstarter-backed screening room has three three films lined up for March, including:

- ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo' by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington (March 6, tickets £5)
- Cosmonautics (March 7, tickets £3)
- Ring of Water (March 14, tickets £3)

The venue is a 50-seat cinema space which also features a cafe/lounge area, studio and darkroom facilities for film processing and workshops. Films are show on digital projector as well as on 16mm and 8mm film reels.

Standard fare for Bakerloo Line

Property journalists - their boosterism makes BC look coy. Today's Evening Standard has got in as quickly to the Bakerloo bonanza as it advises its readers to.

Today's Homes & Property section predicts that South East London will be transformed by the Bakerloo Line extension, which is coming sooner rather than later and highlights New Cross and Lewisham as being among the biggest beneficiaries of its brown beneficence. The paper says:

South-east London is already seeing a surge of interest as homebuyers and renters wake up to its lower prices and good commuter links to the City and Canary Wharf. Now, [the Bakerloo Line] is set to be the capital’s next major Tube upgrade.

Analysis by estate agent Winkworth shows a marked population shift to south-east London. “The first wave was triggered by the arrival of the Overground three years ago, and the Bakerloo line extension will accelerate the trend.”

New Cross Gate is set to be a big Bakerloo line beneficiary This transport interchange is already plugged into the Overground and also offers five-minute trains to London Bridge, a fast Thameslink service to Gatwick and a one-stop connection to the Jubilee line. For many years the area’s only two attractions were Goldsmiths College, where Damien Hirst studied fine art, and The Venue, a lively nightclub. But things are changing.

Young singles and couples — not just public sector key workers, but Canary Wharf and City types too — are finding homes. Families are settling here as well. One sought-after pocket is Telegraph Hill conservation area, perched at the top of a slope and offering wide tree-lined roads, great views, two parks, a community café and Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, one of the most oversubscribed state secondaries in London.

Lewisham is in the throes of a town centre makeover, bringing hundreds of new homes, a modern transport interchange, a new shopping mall and pedestrian-friendly public spaces.

Catford and Lewisham are almost joined at the hip, with barely half a mile between the two town centres. For decades, Catford’s main draw was its Greyhound Stadium, now being redeveloped into a 588-home quarter called Catford Green, right alongside the proposed Bakerloo line station.

MAX meet-up, March 5th

The tree of cultural festivals must be refreshed from time to time with the sweat of artists and organisers. Thus, the Brockley MAX team are on the hunt for new ideas and volunteers. They say:

Love Brockley Max and want to get a sneak preview of this year’s festival? Come on down to Jam Circus and join us for an evening of groovy jazz, street art and neighbourly merriment.

We’ve got a whole host of things going on:
* Find out what the Brockley Street Art Festival team are planning for our neighbourhood
* Tell us what you want to see and do at this year’s festival
* Bid for one the fabulous prizes in our mini auction
* Find out how to take part in the festival and put on an event
* Sign up to become a volunteer
* Tap your toes to the amazing ‘Alice in Grooveland’ jazz band
* Pull up a chair and get to know us! Don’t forget to tell your friends by forwarding this email / It’ll be great to see you there!

Thursday 5th March, 7.30pm to late at Jam Circus 330-332 Brockley Road, London SE4 2BT.

Brockley: Rise of the Wiccans

Dave Skylark: This was a revolution ignited with nothing more than a camera and some questions. Questions that led a man, once revered as a god among mortals, to cry and shit his pants. The end.
- The Interview

UK Census Data keeps on Tweeting interesting things about the area, including, most recently that there are 38 people in Brockley who identify as Jewish. The breakdown is as follows...

The Brockley Ward data covers 17,156 people and of the biggies, there are 7,860 Christians, 987 Muslims, 315 Hindus and 253 Buddhists. We also have 1 witch, 1 Animist, 9 Wiccans and 0 Scientologists.

In total, there are 6,054 people who identify as having no religion.

Full data set here.

Testament of Youth, February 25th

Liz writes:

Testament of Youth: did you read the book or see the film?

There will be a discussion group led by Becci Tan, to review the film and the book and examine some of the issues raised, including the glory of war, the horror of war and the contribution of women during WW1.

It will be held on Wednesday February 25, 1-
3 pm at Crofton Park Community Library.  Enter by the side gate and ring the door bell.

Refreshments will be provided and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the library running expenses.

Offies angels

Congratulations to The Brockley Jack Theatre team for a double-award-winning performance in this year's Offies vote. Not telling us anything we don't already know, but it's nice to be reminded that we have a real gem in our midst.

The Snowman

Bees'll buzz, kids'll blow dandelion fuzz
And I'll be doing whatever snow does in summer.
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob'ly getting gorgeously tanned in summer.
- "In Summer" from Frozen

Bird's Dress Agency now a four bed house

It's been mentioned a few times already by BCers, but just as there are positive signs of life emanating from Brockley Cross, one of the more handsome shops in the area has been lost to a residential conversion.

Bird's Dress Agency and the flats above have been turned into a four-bed house, now on the market for £750,000. The plans were initially met with opposition, but the conversion is now complete.

Tower House to be redeveloped

Another piece of the Lewisham jigsaw is the target for redevelopment. Tower House, which has Europe's largest police station abutting it and has variously housed a Yates' Wine Lodge, three kinds of gym and an adult learning centre, is the next major building to be proposed for a residential conversion.

A consultation has been launched and developers say:

Tower House is a distinctive local landmark with a striking art deco facade; but has long been neglected, subject to unsympathetic alterations, and is currently under-occupied. MHA Associates are bringing forward plans to rejuvenate this building and would like to invite you to exhibitions of the evolving proposals.

We plan to rejuvenate this building through:

- A sympathetic restoration of the historic building frontage: the period features will be repaired and preserved
- The creation of a new street front: the ground floor facade will be brought forward to the pavement, bringing new life to the north side of the High Street
- An extension of the building: providing new housing

The current building is in a sorry state, so hopefully they aim to do this properly. More residential in central Lewisham is welcome, so long as they take the search for a suitable ground floor commercial tenant seriously.

Thanks to Sophie for sharing.

Coming soon: Masala Wala Indian Cafe

Brockley Central usually makes its predictions more in hope than expectation, but the Brockley Cross resurgence seems to be an actual thing, rather than a figment of our imagination. This is very cool - the former dry cleaner is getting a new tenant.

With thanks to Ellie and Monkeyboy.

New Bermondsey serves up new East London Line station

New Bermondsey is the new name for Old Surrey Canal. The mixed use development planned around Millwall's stadium will be renamed New Bermondsey and get a new station on the East London Line route to Clapham Junction.

The news was part of the announcement made by the Chancellor, which also confirmed that the East London Line will provide 24-hour weekend service from 2017. The station was mooted years ago, but scrapped to save money.

The announcement says:

"New Bermondsey is in the Lewisham, Catford and New Cross Opportunity Area, and sits next to the planned Old Kent Road Opportunity Area. This 30 acre site is just 1.5 miles south of London Bridge and can be reached by train in just four minutes.

"With a combined investment of £1 billion, New Bermondsey will become a thriving new neighbourhood with 2,400 new homes and over 2,000 new jobs. The development will includes London’s largest indoor sports centre, Energize, a church and community centre, space for creative and media start-ups and an integrated health centre.

"This scheme will hugely benefit the 40,000 people already living within a 15 minute walk of the site and the 6,000 new residents.

"The Zone will provide a new station on the London Overground at New Bermondsey and improve bus transport. It only takes four minutes to reach London Bridge from South Bermondsey station.

On Blackheath, September 12th / 13th

Tickets for the On Blackheath music festival went on sale today. A full price weekend ticket costs £79, but there is a £10 discount for local residents, including SE4 addresses. Elbow and Kelis are among the headliners. Click here for details.

If anyone went last year, please tell us what it was like.

East London Line to go all night from 2017 [UPDATED]

The BBC reports that London Overground will run 24-hour weekend services from 2017 as part of a a wider programme to boost London's night-time economy. The article says:

"Weekend trains are due to start running 24-hours on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, Jubilee and Northern lines by the end of the year. Night-time services will be extended to the Metropolitan, Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City lines by 2021. Services will be extended on the London Overground in 2017 and the Docklands Light Railway by 2021. 

"The government said it will provide £10bn of funding for investment in new London transport infrastructure over the next parliament, including new Tube improvements, better roads, more buses and cycle lanes, amid predictions the population of the capital is expected to reach 10 million by the early 2030s. The so called "night Tube" was announced in November 2013, with all-night services expected to run on Fridays and Saturdays on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, Jubilee and Northern lines from September."

An all-night weekend service connecting us to some of London's best nightlife is a great leap forward, and to get it up to four years ahead of many parts of the capital is a rare treat.

UPDATE - Knew it was too good to be true - the service will run from Highbury to New Cross Gate, still helpful for those of us near the north end of town, but not so much for the southerners.

The Iron Throne of Greater Brockley

Lord Varys: Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick. A shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow.
- Game of Thrones

Lewisham Shopping Centre has been transformed into Kings Landing today, with a visit by the Iron Throne to promote the launch of season five in April - a moment which our every waking moment is spent contemplating. Shoppers will get a chance to have their photo taken, sitting on the throne.

Which of Greater Brockley's seven great families will sit on it? The Lannisters of the Conservation Area? House Arryn perched high in the Eyrie of Telegraph Hill? House Tyrell of Ladywell? The Stormlands of Midtown, torn between competing families? The southernmost land of Crofton Park, where sits House Martell? Will a King of the North emerge from the burning wreckage of St Johns? Or will the Iron Born of West Brockley take the throne?

When you play the Game of Greater Brockley, you win or you die.

We are indebted to Fintan for the link. And a Lannister always pays his debts.

Prendergast Academy plan sparks protest meeting

On Wednesday, February 25th, 7:30pm-9:00pm at St Mary's Centre, Ladywell Rd, Ladywell there is a meeting for parents, students, teachers and others who oppose the prospect of Prendergast schools becoming academies.

There will be speakers from NUT and Save Hope Park. Click here for details.

The Gina Cabaret, Saturday 28th

GERTY: I hope life on Earth is everything you remember it to be.
- Moon

Organiser Gina explains:

The Gina Cabaret gives me a creative outlet and an opportunity to bring together creative talents. The reason I chose Macmillan is because one of my closest friends had cancer and Macmillan proved to be, and still is, a life line for her. Without this friend, this event would never have become a reality as she has helped me realise my dream.

Honor Oak shed seller seeks £280,000

The housing market is such that Greater Brockley is now throwing up its fair share of "outdoor toilet in London costs as much as a castle in Scotland" stories. Here's the latest.

A shed for £280,000 on the Honor Oak / West Brockley border at the end of St Norbert Road. Small spaces can make fine homes and houses made of wood can be lovely, but this one looks undeniably like a shed, wedged in an underused corner of someone's garden.

Details here. Thanks to Joe for the link.

TTIP - A little party never killed nobody

As economic theories go, Ricardian comparative advantage, which says countries should specialise in what they're good at and trade freely to make both countries richer, is about as robust as it gets. And when two economies are comparable in terms of wages and technology, pretty much every argument against free trade vanishes.

Nonetheless, TTIP has become an acronym to conjure demons in the mind of left wingers on both sides of the Atlantic. Europeans fear chlorinated chicken and privateering raids on the NHS while Americans fear being undercut by low-wage Europe.

International laws can be abused by companies and vigilance is useful, but with negotiations still under-way and nothing finalised, the hysteria (part Luddism, part Anti-Americanism, part New World Order paranoia) surrounding TTIP is bizarre to observe.

What TTIP will do is make many things cheaper and easier to buy and sell and that will create more jobs than it destroys. It doesn't mean you'll get a spinal column in every bap you buy, your plums won't have beaks. Nonetheless, if you think TTIP is to be feared, then this is the event for you:

"TTIP: What, why and what's in it for us?" Question the experts [sic]
Tuesday 24th February: 7.15 - 9pm Lewisham Civic Suite, Catford, SE6 4RU

The meeting is sponsored by: People Before Profit, 38 Degrees, Green Party, Unite the Union, Peoples Assembly, Keep our NHS Public, War on Want and United Nations Association-UK

Totes for Women!

Life coaching for women at Number 57 on Loampit Hill. They say:

Wednesday 4th March 7-9pm at Number 57 booking at £5 to secure place refundable on the evening.

Join professional coach, Hazel Addley to create your own positive change through designing meaningful and inspiring goals for 2015 and beyond. Women juggle so much in daily life, and when faced with change outside of our control this is compounded.

This puts pressure on our time, energy and resources so that simply managing the priorities each day can become all consuming. If you are ready to step up and take more control of the direction your life takes then this taster workshop is for you. You will take time out with other like-minded women to clarify what you want for the coming year and beyond.

The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms

Vivien writes:

The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms is a newly opened health and wellness space at 82 Brockley Rise [formerly Tai Wu Chinese restaurant] that specialises in chiropractic care to help manage pain and improve health.

We also offer yoga to improve fitness and well-being, with other therapies coming soon to the clinic. Our aim is to help our community live a pain free and healthy life. The types of conditions we treat include back and neck pain, lower back pain, shoulder and arm pain, sports injuries, migraines and headaches, trapped nerves and many more painful conditions.

As born and bred locals ourselves, we are really excited to finally share our wellness agenda with the local community (after a year in the build). We will be offering more therapies such as massage therapy, sports therapy and exciting workshops/ free health talks in the upcoming months.

As an introductory offer, we are offering a free consultation and treatment for new patients with our chiropractor until the end of March (worth £60). Check us out at

Hot Chips - Brockley's Rock wins best chips in London for second year in a row

I know I will not have this forever. But I promise you: The next person to hold it, earns it! Because our time is now! Because The Champ is here!
- John Cena

The Brockley's Rock team has been made two-time winner of the "Best Chippy Chips in London" and are celebrating with Brockley's biggest ever chip-giveaway. They say:

"Last year, Brockley's Rock won the prestigious 'Best Chippy Chips in London' award, certified by Chip Week.

"We've been recently notified by Chip Week that we've won it for 2015, a second year running. To celebrate Chip Week, members of staff got dressed up in outfits influenced by the 50's for a photo shoot.

"Next week we're going to be throwing a Twitter competition in which Local businesses will have the opportunity to win chips for their workplace.

"The business chosen will have to be based in SE4. All they'll have to do is tweet: 'We want Chips! @BrockleysRock #ChipWeek.'

"Every day we'll pick a business at random and deliver them some chips, fresh from the Brockley's Rock. It's been a great start to 2015 so far, and we've got some more stuff planned in the coming months."

SMASHfestUK - now on!

Deptford children's science and art festival SMASHfestUK is now on, with events on now and for the rest of the half-term week at venues including The Albany and Deptford Lounge.

Click here for full details.

The Red Tent of Wane

First, there was The Red Wedding. Then there was The Red Room of Pain. Now there is The Red Tent of Ladywell:

Green & Tasty opens tomorrow

A new "community cafe" called Green & Tasty is opening tomorrow in Crofton Park Library. Johnny and Lulu write:

We're been coming here every Christmas with our lovely trees and we enjoy it so much that we wanted to stay all year round!

We have an exciting, delicious menu and real coffee and our prices are seriously good plus which you can enjoy the lovely Crofton Park Library where something is bound to be going on, grab a coffee and a sandwich along with your books! Come and see us in the library.

Lewisham one of the least hygienic places in the UK

Lewisham leads the way in more than one kind of sick filth. Which? has produced a map of the UK, based on data from the Food Standards Agency and finds that Lewisham's local food businesses are among the least hygienic in the country, ranked 396th out of 398 areas nationwide. Which? explains:

All food businesses should be inspected to check that they meet hygiene requirements. The Food Standards Agency coordinates enforcement activity by Local Authorities in the UK.

This map displays data from the food hygiene enforcement activity for each Local Authority in the UK, reflecting:
  • The percentage of high to medium risk food establishments (i.e. A,B,C) compliant with hygiene law
  • The proportion of rated food premises in the area and
  • The percentage of planned interventions that were carried out
London generally does pretty badly, in part thanks to the density of food outlets in the capital. Nonetheless, it's a pretty disgusting performance by Lewisham. Thanks to Katy for the heads-up.

Los Musicos

Prendergast governors vote for Academy status

The Board of Governors at the Prendergast federation of schools yesterday voted to apply for Academy status. There are three local schools within the federation: Hilly Fields, Ladywell Fields and The Vale.

The vote prompted a protest by some students in support of a teachers' strike.

Brockley, Brockley, Brockley

Television. You know its power, you crave its validation. Oh sure, the numbers might argue that no-one under the age of 25 watches live TV any more, you might protest that you are too busy watching SWAT teams raid gamers' houses on Twitch or sending Vines of your Whatsapp account to your Twitter followers, but somehow, everyone saw the Lottery advert set in Brockley and here we all are now, waiting for Phil and Kirsty's verdict.

Because they are back in Brockley for the third time in as many years, because it's the only affordable and desirable part of the city left. Location, Location, Location were filming in Rokeby Road and the Brockley Mess a while back and the Brockley episode is on right now.

However absurd the presenters are, however obscene you find the property market, you know you want to know what they say.

So let's see. What will they say? We're live blogging the show again.

8.04 - OK, so Kirsty's showing a model and a man with nice legs around Brockley. Typical Brockley residents. They will fit in just fine.

8.06 - She loves the London night life, so Brockley is the natural place to start.

8.09 - Our old foes Catford and Forest Hill are competing for their attention. The eternal struggle!

8.11 - Bloody hell, Blackheath is expensive.

8.14 - "Brockley's a hotbed for young creatives," she says gesturing at a camper van, because nothing's more creative than a camper van. Just needed a couple of bros playing hacky sack to complete the picture.

8.16 - A basement flat in Rokeby Road for £379k. Nice garden.

8.17 - The couple that wanted Blackheath are coming down to earth with a bump. Kidbrooke Village. Phil keeps pretending that is in some way handy for Canary Wharf.

8.30 - So far, it looks like a repeat of the 2013 episode, when a young idealistic couple came, had a poke around near the Wickham Arms and realised that they could get more for their money a bit further down the line.

8.33 - Phil is now trying to tell the man who wants an easy journey to Canary Wharf that Woolwich is a good idea, because you can get a bus to Lewisham in 17 minutes (is that really possible at rush hour?). What about the flipping train to Greenwich?

8.35 - Now the Blackheath couple are heading out to Beckenham in search of somewhere to live. This is an object lesson in property market inflation.

8.40 - Man who was looking at Blackheath secretly waiting for a property price crash. Not going to happen people.

8.42 - The model woman who wanted to move to Brockley has "a bit of a fit" about being shown Catford but is talked down from the ledge to look around.

8.43 - Catford has made her cry. Nobody show her the plastic cat...

8.48 - This episode really shows that the London property market makes lunatics of us all.

8.50 - Sevenoaks is not the cheap alternative to London.

8.51 - When has the Brockley Mess ever been that empty? We've never been able to get one of those bloody green booths. The magic of television.

8.54 - Brockley Mess looks like it's been painted by Edward Hopper.

8.55 - Brockley residents wouldn't cry on TV about being shown a Catford property. No wonder they plumped for Forest Hill.

8.59 - If the camera adds ten pounds then Brockley had approximately 10,000 more cameras pointing at it compared with the last time Location visited.

Cafe Cremated

Following last week's news that Cafe Crema was put up for sale, the owners have confirmed that they have found a buyer.

With a very low rent, a captive market in the shape of Goldsmiths students and a strategic spot on the high street, it's a good prospect. It's also encouraging for New Cross' prospects that it got snapped up so quickly.

The Money Shot: News Shopper discovers Swinger Haunt in New Cross

Don Jon: Money shot? There is no real life money shot. Real girls won't do that shit. You just gotta cum into the fucking condom.
- Don Jon

The News Shopper has trawled swingers forums to discover "London's last remaining sex cinema" in our midst and reports that the New Cross venue is a hang-out for people seeking sex in the aisles.

We can't help but feel that they missed a trick by not sending their lascivious Pub Spy to investigate, but reporter Mark Chandler's gonzo account is all the more entertaining for its po-facedness. Here's a dose:

In the front row sat a Phil Mitchell lookalike with a grunt to match, trousers around his ankles, while a kneeling woman in red lingerie performed a sex act upon him.

Standing around by the door and sitting on the red seats were a group of middle-aged, sheepish-looking men, pleasuring themselves as they watched. Only one customer seemed to be paying no attention, reaching into a black rucksack and pulling out a can of Fosters.

After a while, Phil looked across at us and uttered the charming phrase: "If anyone wants to have a go on her, be my guest. The condoms are just there."

For the X-Certificate News Shopper story, click here. With thanks to Polly for the spot.

Super Trouper Hummy Mummies

We like this a lot. Hummy Mummies is a Brockley singing group led by Richard Swan. Sounding that good over a toddler bashing a tambourine is no mean feat. Click here to find out more.

Entrepreneurs needed for Lewisham's new enterprise hubs

Ladywell's pop-up community will house one of the enterprise hubs
Lewisham Council is currently looking for entrepreneurs to take up residence in new enterprise hubs in Catford, Deptford and Ladywell, which will open in October this year. They say:

"The enterprise hubs will create high quality, fully furnished and serviced work spaces in Catford, Deptford and Ladywell town centres, designed to promote the growth of start-ups, entrepreneurs and existing businesses, primarily working in the creative, digital and social enterprise sectors.

"Over the past twelve months we have been working with Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy and Studio Tilt to carry out in-depth feasibility studies to establish the business case and initial design for the hubs within three council-owned buildings.

"The largest of these hubs will be the Catford hub which will be situated on the 4th and 5th floors of the former Town Hall building in Catford. The two smaller centres will be in central Lewisham on the ground floor of the former Ladywell Leisure Centre (pictured) and in Deptford which will be sited within the Deptford Lounge.

"All three hubs will provide affordable and flexible work spaces for rent, creating a new vibrancy and buzz for enterprise in the heart of Lewisham’s main town centres. They will also be a major component to our overall strategic aim that by 2023 'Lewisham will be one of the fastest growing parts of the London economy'.

"The hubs will be managed by a single workspace provider using a single brand (details of whom will be announced later in the year). Local entrepreneurs and businesses will be able to access space, services and facilities across the network."

Click here for the full details and to register your interest,

Petition launched to save Lewisham's Children's Centres

A petition has been launched to save the Early Learning centres threatened with closure across Lewisham, including Beecroft Garden in Crofton Park. The petition explains:

"Lewisham Council is proposing to Ofsted-deregister 13 of the 17 existing Children's Centres in Lewisham. Besson Street Gardens, St Swithun’s, Heathside and Lethbridge, Evelyn, Amersham, Hatcham Oak, Manor House, Torridon, Marvels Lane, Kelvin Grove and Elliot Bank, Beecroft Garden and Kilmorie are all affected.

"If a Children's Centre is deregistered, then Health Visitors, Social Services and GPs can no longer refer vulnerable families to it for support....

"The Children's Centres are designed to support vulnerable families and have targets set around the support they offer, on both the number of families they help and how effective that help is. If families cannot be referred, the Centre cannot meet its targets and loses it purpose for being. Deregistration is effectively closure by stealth..."

"Fewer families will be included in the contracts for targeted support. As these will be families in need they will have fewer services to rely on in the borough and their needs may escalate, leading to poorer outcomes for children."

"This petition calls on Mayor Bullock to save our Children's Centres, and to commit to maintaining the services they provide to our most vulnerable families now and in the future."

Click here to sign the petition.

Cleaner, greener, safer future temporarily spoils Greenwich cycle path

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.
- Jurassic Park

The driverless car future moved up a gear this week with the start of autonomous vehicle trials on Greenwich Peninsula, one of three sites in the country to host pilot schemes.

The technology promises to radically improve road safety, cut pollution and reduce parking requirements. The UK's expertise in automotive technology and computing means that it's well placed to profit from the emerging industry, estimated to be worth £900 billion in ten years, and the government is placing a big bet on autonomous systems as a driver for the country's future economic growth. As host borough, Greenwich is getting a cool £8 million grant for the privilege. Behold the white heat of technology in action:


But this future comes at a terrible price. Those maniac scientists have become death, destroyer of cycle paths. 853blog will not be placated by the promise of a future where robots save thousands of cyclists' lives - not if the cost is the temporary loss of 500 metres of cycle path, especially if the alternative is to cycle down the quiet road that runs adjacent. They say:

There was no consultation about the decision, instead there’s just a tiny notice on a lamp post and cycle markings scrubbed out and replaced with the word “SHUTTLE”. The notice cites “danger to the public” for the decision. 

But if the trial’s organisers think they can avoid danger by closing off a length of cycle path, they’ve chosen the wrong place. I cycle along this stretch regularly, and most days there are pedestrians wandering into the cycle track – often glued to tablets with headphones plugged in.

Click here for the full article.

Oscar nomination for Honor Oak team

Honor Oak production company Grain Media is the only British nominee for the 2015 Best Documentary Oscar, earning their place with their film Virunga, which tells the story of Gorilla conservationists in war-torn Congo. Live for Films reports:

Grain Media was established in 2006 by two South Londoners – Jon Drever and Orlando von Einsiedel. The pair are not typical of established film producers; Jon used to make skateboard films and Orlando was a pro-snowboarder. They now find themselves nominated for an Academy Award for their critically acclaimed film, Virunga, and are about to release Britain’s first superhero rom-com, SuperBob.

SuperBob takes the conceit of John Cleese's comic "Superman: True Brit" - what if the world's most powerful superhero was British? - and hopefully does it a lot better.

Thanks to Scott for the tip-off.

Gibbons investigation confined to one school

Following the news that Grinling Gibbons' recent exam results have been stricken from their permanent record by the DfE as a result of "maladministration" at the school, a number of parents at Sydenham's Adamsrill primary school, with which Gringling Gibbons is paired, expressed fears that their school might be affected too.

Lewisham Council, which must remain tight-lipped until its own investigations have concluded, have confirmed that Adamsrill is not part of the investigation. If you are a parent with a child at Adamsrill, you may or may not find that reassuring.

Crofton Park early learning centre faces closure

Friend of BC, Molewife, lets us know that Beecroft Garden Children's Centre in Crofton Park has been Ofsted deregistered as a result of Lewisham cut-backs, which will force it to close.

The Centre provides Early Learning and family support services and after the cuts have been implemented, only four such centres will remain in the borough. By restructuring the borough's Early Interventions services, the Council hopes to save £3.84 million over four years.

Lewisham's Baby Cafes at risk from defunding

A petition has been launched to save Lewisham's Baby Cafes from being defunded by Lewisham Council.

There are nine baby breastfeeding cafes in Lewisham, which provide post-natal support for mothers who want help with breastfeeding. The health benefits of breastfeeding occur in the first weeks following a child's birth, which is also the time when new parents can feel isolated and overwhelmed. These centres are there to help at that time.

To be sure, Lewisham Council faces some very hard choices about funding in order to find savings to bridge an £85 million funding gap. When many vital front-line services are at risk, it is harder to make a case for projects like these, but supporters point out that the cost of running these facilities are minimal, since they are run by volunteers.

Lewisham Council will make its decision on Wednesday.

Brockley: Life Changing

To celebrate 20 years of Lotto, the National Lottery ads are focused on giving people "a taste of what life as a lottery millionaire could be like". In this regard at least, their latest campaign, predominantly filmed in and around Hilly Fields, makes sense: Win the Lotto and help yourselves to a slice of the Brockley dream. Perhaps it's a biting satire about the state of the London housing market.

But the ad is also subliminally delivering a far more subversive idea: To live in Brockley is to have won first prize in the lottery of life.* To find true happiness, abandon your Wolf of Wall Street fantasies and live as the people of Brockley do. Happiness is a warm badger. Sod the Lottery.

*Despite staying in and watching Take Me Out and Take Me Out The Gossip on Saturday night, we've not actually seen the ad and can't find it online, but we imagine that's the gist.

Deli Does DeChaunac

Zoltan from The Brockley Deli (Brockley Cross) writes:

We are celebrating our new license to serve alcohol on the premises by holding a wine launch on Friday 13th February.

We will be selling wines by the glass and by the bottle with selected food pairings. To give our great customers a taste of how this will work, the wines will be available for purchase from Friday 13th February.

The launch event will run from 8pm - 10pm and, for this night only, samples of food that will be served with the wine will be FREE! Call us for details on 020 8694 9899.

We've come a long way, kebaby

The final piece of the jigsaw is at last in place. Consistently excellent Brockley restaurant, Meze Mangal, finally looks as good as it tastes.

Once upon a time it looked like this and BC moaned about it and some people said we were a frightful snob for daring to dream of a time when you didn't have to negotiate a rusty hulk and a muddy puddle to go inside:

Today, it looks like this and everything, not least Lewisham Way, is the better for it:
With thanks to Mike Hills for the photo.

New house planned for Cranfield Road

Not the project in question, but a bit like it - Slip House in Brixton
A local family is hoping to convert three garages on Cranfield Road into a new house, inspired by Slip House in Brixton (above). Friend o' BC Richard went along to a public consultation today and reports back:

"Speaking to the family they bought the garages just under ten years ago. It sounds like there is some form of covenant / financial clause on the land which means it isn't possible / financially worth them building on the land until that ends. The father said they wouldn't be submitting a planning application before September.

"The house has been designed by Carl Turner Architects and looks very similar to their Slip House in Brixton that was on Grand Designs a few years ago (they even had pictures of the Grand Designs house in the Scout Hut):

"It looked to be a slightly unusual layout. There was a basement and roof terrace. On the ground floor was a studio, there were two living floors each with the kitchen and then a shared bedroom floor. It looked to be a tiny bit higher than the neighbouring houses, but not much. The basement room wasn't labeled with a use.

"They said the BrocSoc had written a letter of endorsement and suggested some wider consultation hence today."

Cafe Crema for sale

Cafe Crema, one of New Cross' oldest and most eccentric venues, is up for sale, with the leasehold,  valued at £65,000. Popular, lively and the host of an eclectic range of events, what it lacks in comfort or convenience, it makes up for in character. Located on an improving high street, it will hopefully go to a good new owner.

Click here for the details. Thanks to TTD for the heads-up.

Local artist to create Brockley Road mural

The latest visualisation of 180 Brockley Road
Boultbee LDN is the developer responsible for the transformation of 180 Brockley Road from MOT Garage into flats and shops. They've just issued this announcement, updating on the project:

"Boultbee LDN has commissioned local artist, Rhiannon Hunter, to paint a panel of the hoarding at its property development at 180 Brockley Road in Brockley.

"Rhiannon, originally from the North West of England, has lived in the area for ten years and owns a local practice specialising in textile art, sculptural pieces and outdoor paintings. She approached Boultbee LDN last year, requesting to paint a sophisticated mural to reflect the changing architectural landscape of the area.

"Rhiannon comments: “I was drawn to the building activities and was inspired to create something interesting for the hoarding. I often do outdoor paintings in environments where you wouldn’t normally expect them, to encourage people to stop and consider their surroundings. The mural is inspired by architectural forms in the local area.”

"Simon Hosking, Managing Director of Boultbee LDN, adds: “We’re delighted that Rhiannon will be creating a unique design for us and pleased to be supporting local talent.  We are confident that this art work will make our hoarding stand out and attract attention from passers-by, and we look forward to seeing the finished product.”

"The 180 Brockley Road development, a joint venture partnership with Shape Real Estate and Peverill Securities Ltd, is currently under construction and will comprise 25 residential apartments. The marketing suite and show apartment are due to open in September 2015.  Rhiannon will start her art work on the hoarding in the middle of February."

Hunter looks like a talented artist, and it's a shame that her mural will only be temporary, especially as we've lost several as a result of this development.

Little Mum's Cocktail Afternoon Tea

At a secret location in Telegraph Hill this weekend.

Devilskein & Dearlove at Lewisham Library

Local publishers Arachne Press say:

Join us at Lewisham Library (199-201 Lewisham High Street) on Thursday 5 February from 20:00 to 21:30.

Come and hear actor Peter Noble read from Alex Smith’s Carnegie Prize nominated tale of Erin Dearlove.

From living grumpily with her bohemian Aunt Kate, Erin’s life changes when she goes to tea with Mr Devilskein, the demon who lives on the top floor.

A fantastical story aimed primarily at 12-18 year olds, but in the tradition of former Carnegie medal winners Phillip Pullman, Terry Pratchett and CS Lewis entirely suitable for anyone aged 9-900 and there is plenty for adult readers and listeners to savour.

This is a free event but please pre-book your tickets.

Grinling Gibbons' table-topping results wiped out after "maladministration"

In November, BC reported that Deptford primary school Grinling Gibbons had achieved the best results in the country, according to one respected league table. At the time, one reader questioned how reliable the results were. Now, The Standard reports that the school has had its results wiped out by the Department for Education:

After an inspection, Grinling Gibbons Primary School in Deptford has been punished for “maladministration” of its Key Stage 2 tests last summer. 

Last year’s results for maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling tests have been annulled for the whole cohort. 

The school’s results for the mental mathematics test, the second maths paper and the first grammar, punctuation and spelling paper were annulled. As a result the overall maths and grammar, punctuation and spelling results have been invalidated. 

The Department for Education spokesman said: “Following an investigation into the administration of 2014 Key Stage 2 tests at Grinling Gibbons Primary School, a decision was made to annul a number of the tests... Any instances of maladministration of the tests are completely unacceptable.”

A spokesman for Lewisham Council said: “In our view, the quality of education at Grinling Gibbons Primary School continues to be of a very high standard across all year groups. 

For the full article, click here.

Street Feast 2015

The News Shopper has a little update on Street Feast's expansion plans for Lewisham this year. It reports:

"#ModelMarket will run for 23 weekends from May 1, with a new area which, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to New York, has been called "the high line" - a roof terrace above the food units which can take around 50 people."

The report also mentions that the rooftop zone on the Riverdale Centre will feature two restaurants from "serious operators."

Vote Brockley Jack

Darren from the Jack writes:

The Jack Studio Theatre is in the public nominations again for the annual Off West End Theatre Awards in the following categories:
  • Award for Most Welcoming Theatre
  • Award for Best Theatre Bar 
  • Award for Best Theatre Foodie Experience
If you've enjoyed a night out at the Jack or would like to help us bring an award home to SE4, please click the link below, scroll to the bottom, subscribe and vote 'The Jack Studio Theatre' for South East London. Thanks in advance!

Voting closes midnight on Saturday 14th February. Please click here.

London: The Golden Age

Logan: NO! Don't go in there! You don't have to die! No one has to die at 30! You could live! LIVE! Live, and grow old! I've seen it! She's seen it!
- Logan's Run

Readers, I am not a young man. I have a wife, three kids, the personality of Mark Corrigan and an importantish job (if any job in PR can be considered important, which it can't) working with people several generations more advanced than me. I am middle aged and I can admit it - even if journalists in search of a maudlin headline about the death of London can't. For their purposes, I am young.

Last year, hundreds of articles were written about how young people, priced out of London, are abandoning the city in record numbers, seeking fame and fortune in cities like Birmingham instead. The story was based on figures from the ONS which showed that there was a net outflow of 22,000 people aged 30-39 from the capital.

Not only is 22,000 a vanishingly small number in terms of London's overall population, people in their thirties aren't the young. While the headlines conjured up images of an ossifying capital, deprived of the energy, innovation and joie de vivre of Millennial tribes, the truth behind the numbers is the same old story: People get older, start to settle down and crave space and the chance to give their kids a childhood like the one they remember having.

Real young people are still coming here in droves. As this graph from CityLab, based on ONS figures (2009-2012) shows:

London is sucking up the lifeblood of the rest of the country (and lots of other countries). It's only when people hit thirty that we start spitting them out again, as hollow husks that will haunt provincial towns and villages for the rest of their wretched lives. London is, in essence, a remake of Logan's Run.

We heard this week that London's population has hit an historic high of 8.6 million and is forecast to reach 11 million by 2050. That growth won't be coming from the old or the superrich, but from the young. As The Atlantic writes:

"The London-based think tank Centre for Cities provides compelling evidence that, despite its high cost of living, London continues to draw in more young and productive talent from across the United Kingdom than any other city. And it's London’s continued ability to attract talent, the report concludes, that has been central to its economic growth and to the U.K.’s ongoing economic recovery."

Why do they come here, when Birmingham is cheaper? Because young, ambitious people go where the action is. And the action is in London.

A year ago, as part of my day-job, I sat with our client, who wanted to win hearts and minds in New York City. Our lead researcher, who worked for Mayor Bloomberg and knows every block of city, told them what they really needed to understand: Life in New York is hard. People work long hours, live in tiny apartments and put up with noise, crime and brutal weather, among other things. New Yorkers have to believe that their city is the greatest in the world and they expect the best of everything. They are there to seize every opportunity that life throws at them. Compared to that, a double-fronted garage is an irrelevance.

London is a little greener, softer and quieter. Our winters are milder and our summers less sweaty. Our cockroaches are smaller, our transport is better and we're the city that goes to sleep earlier than a megacity really should. But the attitude you need to enjoy London is the same - and it's the young who have it most of all.

As house prices rise, young people will find new ways to compromise, spending less and less time indoors and more and more time out on the streets, enjoying the city. Whether that makes our city better or worse is a matter of opinion, but I've always believed that more density is not only a necessity but a good thing for London. As this graphic, from the LSE (2011) shows, London (top right) is extraordinarily low-density compared to its peers:
As I argued in my last article on this subject, young people aren't retreating, they are finding new areas to enjoy, new places to settle. It may be unfortunate for them that many places are now out of reach, but it has made the city stronger.

Ironically, the oligarchs and global elites that are helping to depopulate certain streets in the fanciest parts of the city are also, thanks to the economic power they bring to the party, helping to make London even more attractive to the young, which in turn has given a shot in arm to many other parts of the capital.

I am lucky. As well as being middle aged, I have a mortgage and home to bring up a family. Consider my privilege checked. This article is not in any way meant to excuse the failure of planners and house builders to create more and better homes to cope with a growing population.

It remains a travesty that so many people feel they need to leave the city to start a family and young people shouldn't have to squash in to ever smaller and more crowded boxes in order to seek their fortune in London. The cost of living in London is not as expensive by international standards as people often think (it's not even in the top 10 global cities according to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit rankings), but the rent is still too damn high.

Social and intergenerational justice is a good reason to address London's housing problem, but don't worry about London - the young will keep coming and making the best of it. What else are they going to do? Live in Birmingham?

Speed Dating at the Curlew Rowing Club

This is a little out of Brockley's sphere of influence, but it is a slow news day, it's one of the closest options if you want to take up this particular sport and BC used to go to their neighbours, the Globe Rowing Club. So... Speed Dating at the Curlew Rowing Club in Greenwich! Tiffany writes:

Curlew Rowing Club in Greenwich is hosting a speed dating evening at the riverside clubhouse in Greenwich on 19 February. 

It is £15 and includes a welcome drink and canapés. If you wouldn't mind putting a message in the Brockley central or retweeting it for us. More details and booking form can be found here

Rowing is physically the hardest sport we've ever tried, so if you want to date people who can keep going until they vomit, have the willpower to stare at someone's sweaty back for hours at a time and have bags of energy first thing in the morning, then this event is for you!

The Beast of Brockley Cross

Ramsey Snow: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention.
- Game of Thrones

The developers trying to get away with this car crash of a building at 1-1a Brockley Cross will take their case to appeal on February 17th. The application was refused in November 2014 but they're determined to lift the 2016 Carbuncle Cup.

With thanks to Jon.

Plan to turn Hither Green cinema into flats

Image courtesy of Google Street View
The passing of the Golden Age of Lewisham Cinema is something that many BCers mourn, so it is worth noting that a planning application has gone in to convert one of the borough's former picture palaces into flats.

What is now Carpet Corner at 232 Hither Green Lane was once the Park Cinema. Developers have applied for permission for: "The part demolition, alteration and extension of 232 Hither Green Lane, SE13 to provide a three storey building comprising a ground floor A1 food retail unit, the creation of six residential units on the 1st and 2nd floors."

Richard Gray of the Cinema Theatre Association explains:

The cinema opened on 22 December 1913 and was designed by Edward Albert Stone of local architects Norfolk and Prior (Stone went on to design some of the most ambitious cinemas in London, such as the Astoria, Finsbury Park, now a church, and its sister, the Astoria, Brixton, now the Academy music venue). 

The Park's auditorium was on two levels, stalls and balcony, and had an organ to accompany the silent pictures. It was modernised by Leslie Kemp in c.1931, 'streamlining' the façade of its Edwardian embellishments and presumably similar treatment happened internally. 

Always an 'independent' (rather than a 'circuit' house) it was an early closure on 14 December 1957, when it was converted to a boating store, while in recent years it has been in use as an indoor childrens' playground. 

It was sold in the Summer of 2008 and the Cinema Treasurers website says in 2011 a campaign was started to return the cinema to film use. We will object to Lewisham council as it obviously of some use to the community rather than just becoming flats.

Thanks to Joe from The Victorian Society for the information.