Brockley Max 2015

A map of all the participating venues at this year's festival
The Brockley Max arts festival returns (May 29 - June 6), topped and tailed with its traditional opening night party next to the Brockley Barge and closing Art in the Park party in Hilly Fields. In-between, there are dozens of events across 25 venues.

This year's highlights include an Open Studios at Dragonfly Place, Afternoon Tea at the Opera (both May 30th) and loads of live music at venues including The Orchard, The Talbot, Jam Circus and the Ladywell Tavern.

The full programme is now available to download here.

Hot Buzz

BC's constructive critic Chris Wheal forgave us for our vile anti-dog-rumour-mongering just long enough to send us this recent article by Buzzfeed, which listed "31 [natch] Things to Eat in South East London Now."

Of course, it's nice to see local favourites like Brown's of Brockley, the Royal Albert, Brockley Market and Mo Pho get name-checked, but the more interesting thing about the list is the geographic distribution of the choices. For this is a list that basically defines South East London as Greater Brockley + Greater Peckham.

Sure, there are bones chucked to places like Penge, Crystal Palace and Greenwich but if you were to plot the recommended venues on a map, it would look like the Broad Street Cholera Outbreak, with Brockley as the culprit pump.

The mental map of South East London has been re-drawn - the golden triangle is now Peckham - Deptford - Brockley.

New regular music nights at the Rivoli, starting July 25th

Brockley's answer to Madame JoJo's will be throwing their doors open on a regular basis for a series of new music nights. This is the first.

Ladyspace becomes available

A unit located inside Ladywell Road arches has been put on the market.

Nestled beneath the road bridge, next to the redeveloped adhesives factory, this space is now being marketed as a possible location for a restaurant or cafe, though the estate agents reckon that it actually has planning use class B1 (office / light industrial).

It's an unpromising spot, but then so was the scrap of land between the Birds Nest Pub and the DLR elevated track until someone parked a bus there and created a pizza restaurant.

With thanks to Joe.

Pomegranate Pop-Up

Villa Toscana, 179 Brockley Road

Having previously noted the relative lack of old-school restaurants in the area, it's time BC celebrated one under our noses - a turnaround story led by a team of genuinely passionate foodies - Villa Toscana.

Under its previous owners the restaurant had fallen on hard times but just over a year ago a new team took over, led by Leo, formerly a General Manager for Marco Pierre White and someone with six years of running Conran restaurants under his belt.
Hidden behind a front window which gives little away, Villa Toscana has been steadily building a local fan-base, thanks to its focus on simple, high-quality Italian cooking by chef duo Daniella and Francesco.

In addition to their pastas and pizzas, Leo's most proud of their scaloppine, steaks, veal, sea bass and fresh, hand-made breads. The wine list is all-Italian and they are generous with the limoncello.

Now, with their reputation established, they are doing more to attract new audiences. From this weekend, a pianist will be performing on Friday and Saturday evenings, while that un-alluring frontage will eventually get a makeover.

Like Meze Mangal, this is a restaurant that trades on its food first, but Leo stresses that they pride themselves on their service too.

Please post your reviews here.

The way we live now

This is why BC loves Brockley, in one Tweet:

Marathon 2015 - Greater Brockley declared the winner

Greater Brockley is to the Marathon as Yorkshire was to the 2012 Olympics. Friend o'BC Richard writes:

Kent AC (based at the Ladywell Arena) have had a fantastic day at the London Marathon. There was a record 45 club members who toed the starting line this morning.

There was lots of personal bests and great stories across the day, however, two stand out achievements were John Gilbert coming second in the men's Club, Charity and Ballot race (a time that would have put him 19th if he was in the Elite Men's race).

Amy Clements was tenth in the women's race, breaking the significant 2hr 45min barrier for the first time and was a mere seven minutes behind Paula Radcliffe.

Several people who volunteer at Hilly Fields Park Run every Saturday were also volunteering for the marathon helping out with the baggage trucks. And we had one club member was running as a 3hr pacer too.

Bella Napoli, 173 Brockley Road

Bella Napoli (020 8692 3301) is the new takeaway pizza place that is seeking to succeed at a spot where a succession of other places have failed. They've gone for the safe option: a takeaway and delivery service in an area still relatively short of good pizza.

The pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven and eschew the oily dough that most local places use. The menu is more interesting than the lowest-common denominator choices we plumped for in the photo above and the prices are good (£8 a pop at the moment), but the ham and mushrooms they used were both disappointing. The team were very friendly.

Some day, someone will open a more ambitious pizza place in Brockley. Until then, this is a welcome addition, that should do well.

Election Hustings, April 26th

6-8.30pm St Catherine’s Church, Pepys Road, New Cross Gate, SE14 5SG.

Candidates attending:

  • Bim Afolami (Conservatives) 
  • Michael Bukola (Liberal Democrats) 
  • John Coughlin (Green Party) 
  • Massimo Dimambro (UKIP) 
  • Chris Flood (TUSC) 
  • Vicky Foxcroft (Labour) 
  • Malcolm Martin (Christian People’s Alliance) 
  • Helen Mercer (People before Profit)

Ladywell butcher seeks investment

Prospective Ladywell butchers Heckstall & Smith are seeking to raise a hefty £130,000 from crowdfunding site Seedrs, offering shares in the business from loans starting at £10. They say:

"Before the campaign is available to the general public, Seedr give us a small window to get investment from people we’re already in touch with. This shows investors unfamiliar with the project that others are already sold on it from day one. To make Heckstall & Smith happen, this is where we need your help.

"We have one week to get momentum behind the campaign. To get that momentum we need you to spread the word about the project to those lucky enough to have money available to invest in businesses, or if you can, invest yourself."

Click here to invest.

Sainsbury's robbed

Tim has confirmed that this was the Mantle Road branch, at approximately midday.

Ruh roh! Shaggy dog fines from firm without a scooby

Dogwalker writes:

Today there were some confused and upset dog walkers in Hilly Fields as fines of £75 were being handed out for dogs being walked off their leads. The fines were being handed out by an agency used by Lewisham Council. The issuers were claiming that it is illegal to walk a dog off its lead in all open spaces in Lewisham and had been so since 2005.

It has since been confirmed by the council that an error had been made by the agency and all fines are to be cancelled. It was also confirmed by the council that dogs are of course allowed off their leads in Hilly Fields.

I have sent this in to notify to all dog walkers that there is nothing to worry about - as I believe word has spread like wildfire, and not to add in any way to the recent BC debate.

Save Lewisham Toy Library

The Lewisham Toy Library is a toy-lending service based in Catford. Open to all children who live in the Lewisham Borough. At the moment 210 families, 19 child minders and 4 groups use their services.

Council cuts mean that the service is now under threat and they have launched a petition to demonstrate the scale of public support for their service. They say:

We think that the Lewisham Toy Library is worth saving. After dealing with many years of Lewisham Council’s cuts to our core funding (which are continuing), we are now being asked by the Council to pay commercial-level rent, thereby increasing our cost base.

We have lost enough already – chilcare services, the playbus and many other services that help with the development of children in the Borough. Join us in telling London Borough of Lewisham that we think they could offer more support – either by giving us lower rent, or maintaining funding, or both.

Show your support here.

Hilly Fields Summer Fayre volunteers needed

Broc Soc writes:

The fayre is our biggest event, run entirely by volunteers, always a great community day. We run the fayre through separate (though cooperating) Teams. This is an urgent appeal:

We print 8,000 Programmes and distribute them FREE far and wide in the week before the Fayre. We need 2 volunteers as soon as possible to assist team captain Emma and programme designer Fatima: you would approach local businesses to sign up sponsors, book the advertisements and collect prizes to be raffled in the prize draw on the day.

Please email Clare if you are interested in helping.

Brockley's networked society

Let it go

Milhouse: Alf pogs! Remember Alf? He's back... in pog form!
- The Simpsons

Yet more Frozen fun.

Happy first birthday to The Larder

Katherine & Cynthia, the team behind The Larder deli in Ladywell, say:

We are celebrating The Larder's 1st Birthday this weekend!

Huge thanks to all our wonderful customers and friends who have supported us over the past 12 months; we couldn't have done it without you! We feel very lucky to be part of such a welcoming community.

We will continue to champion our great local producers such as Brockley Brewery, LKB, Coopers Bakehouse, Blackwoods Cheese, Ladle & Larder and Wild Brockley to name but a few. Big thanks to you all for continuing to deliver such delicious food!

To celebrate, we'll be offering 10% off all purchases on Saturday 18th April April plus 20% off to the first 5 customers who come in and wish us a Happy Birthday!".

Myatt Garden shortlisted for TES Creativity Award

Myatt Garden Primary School has been shortlisted in the Creative School category in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) School Awards 2015.

The Brockley school is one of eight schools in contention for the prestigious award, with the winner due to be announced at a ceremony on June 19th.

Congratulations to all the team.

That's a lot of axolotls

Student Assa-Noura Kamara (12) and axolotl
Prendergast Ladywell School has bred 40 axolotls and is looking for local people to give them a good home. Jerome writes:

They may only be a few centimetres long as yet, but the 40 surviving offspring of Axel and Lady Gaga represent a delightful surprise and a logistical challenge to the science department of Lewisham’s Prendergast Ladywell School.

The search is now on for good homes for the brood of axolotls:  a species of extraordinary amphibian stuck in the midst of metamorphosis into land-based salamanders and resembling, when fully-grown, large, legged, near-transparent tadpoles with exquisite coral-like gills.  For now they remain the darlings of the school and a wonderful asset in science lessons.

“Alex and his girl-friend Lady Gaga were, as usual, staying with me over a recent half-term holiday, and one second their tank was clear and the next it was full of eggs,” says Prendergast Ladywell School senior science technician Nev Kazim.  “Happily, a large number of the eggs were fertilised and we now have quite a substantial population.”
BC remains neutral on the subject of how best to train your axolotl
“These wonderfully odd creatures  - native to lakes near Mexico City - are special because they reach maturity without undergoing metamorphosis, though the addition of iodine can prompt them to change into land-based salamanders.,” explains science teacher Jessica Edwards. “They also display exceptional regenerative qualities being able to re-grow lost limbs and gills – which is fortunate because both are very fragile and easily damaged and it also makes them of particular interest to medical research.  In school, they feature widely in science lessons – particularly when it comes to the teaching of evolution and metamorphosis.”

A regular crew of students give up time at breaks and after school to keep an eye on the creatures and feed them.  “I think they are beautiful,” said Olivia Butter (12) from Bellingham.  “I come in most days to see them and I enjoy feeding them blood-worms.”  Her enthusiasm is shared by classmate Assa-Noura Kamara (12) from Catford.  “I would love to have one – they seem quite easy to look after, but they get very interested in you when they spot you and think you are going to feed them.  Before I came to the school, I did not know such a thing existed.”

It is hoped that any publicity the creatures receive, will also prove an opportunity to advertise the need for good homes for Alex and Lady Gaga’s offspring. “Anyone who is interested in homing one of our babies will have to come and collect them with a small plastic watertight container and I will advise on their care and ask new owners  to send me regular progress reports – they need a tank with not-too vigorous water filters, “ says Nev.

If you're interested in giving a home to an axolotl, call Nev Kazim - Prendergast Ladywell School senior science technician: 0208 613 7444

Bookwatch Nights

Liz writes:

Crofton Park library will remain open until 9 pm on Thursday April 23 to celebrate World Book Night. You will be able to return and borrow library books, using the self issue machine. It is an opportunity for you to see the transforming library and cafe. The cafe, Green and Tasty will be open, serving hot drinks and snacks.

You can donate books and small electrical goods. There will be a book swap, bring an unwanted book and take a different one home.

At 8 pm, we will be holding a reading group style discussion on the City Reads book Rivers of London. This weekend is a good time to read the book, it's an easy, thought provoking read.

There may not be a copy in the library, but you can download it from Amazon onto your Kindle reader or app for £1.99. Come and tell us what you thought.

Ladywell Road fire

Marley and Us

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to Bring Back Bob by creating a new piece of street art (above) to replace the one lost as a result of the redevelopment of 180 Brockley Road (below). The work will be created as part of this year's Brockley Street Art Festival and delivered with the support of the Brockley Max team, who were behind the original mural. They explain:

Residents of Brockley, south east London, are coming together to launch a crowdfunding bid to bring back a Bob Marley mural that was lost during demolition for a new housing development.

The mural will become the centrepiece for the first ever Brockley Street Art Festival, which will take place from 29th May until 6th June 2015.

Festival organisers need to raise £5000 to cover artist fees, materials and equipment for this and other planned murals. They are appealing to art-loving Londoners to help through a crowdfunding campaign to be launched on 14th April 2015.

Brockley Street Art Festival was created following a successful public vote as part of an initiative led by London mural specialists Global Street Art and popular London blog Londonist. Organisers will work with local, national and international artists to transform vacant walls and shop shutters in the Brockley area.

Images of the musical legend, who would have celebrated his 70th birthday this year, have been at the heart of Brockley's arts-minded community for decades. The original mural of the reggae icon was created over 40 years ago. This was replaced in 2005 as part of a Brockley Max black icons cele-bration but demolished in 2014 along with artist impressions of Maya Angelou and Jimi Hendrix.

Established street artist Dale Grimshaw has been lined up to paint a brand new image of Bob Mar-ley, with organisers securing permission for painting just yards from the original mural site on a wall belonging to The Brockley Barge, a pub owned by JD Wetherspoon.

Richard Marriner, Area Manager for JD Wetherspoon said, “We are delighted to support Brockley Street Art Festival this year. These murals have been part of Brockley for 40 years and we are de-lighted to help the community preserve some of the artistic history from this area.”

Brockley Street Art Festival is being held in conjunction with established arts festival Brockley Max, an annual, community arts festival which combines music, art, performance and exhibitions. Brockley Max festival runs from Friday 29th May to Saturday 6th June 2015 in venues all over Brock-ley, Ladywell and Crofton Park, south east London.

Brockley Max festival director, Moira Tait, has been involved in numerous local projects that have represented artists in the local area. She added: "A Bob Marley image has been part of Brockley for so many years now so it will be fantastic to see it back again, and we are thrilled that the painting will begin at the Brockley Max Opening Night."

The full festival programme will be published at and and will be released in due course.

While we're a massive supporter of both the Festival and the Brockley Max, we're not sure this is a particularly good idea.

To be sure, the original graffiti was one of Brockley's best-known and loved icons and its destruction was a sad day. But as many football managers can attest, trying to recreate past glories is usually a mistake.
And, though the artwork was good, as an icon Bob Marley is like Che Guevara or an "I like the Pope, the Pope smokes dope" poster. Brockley of 15 years ago was like a student bedsit, but the place has changed.

We should celebrate Brockley's afro-Caribbean heritage, but we're not sure that Bob Marley represents it. A black hero with a local connection would have been a more powerful statement than to recreate an icon so ubiquitous that no backpacker can escape his lilt.

Click here to help with the fundraising.

Staff kills dog in Ladywell Fields

Last month, BC ran a guest article by a local dog-walker who wanted to start a debate about dogs on leads in Ladywell Fields.

BC is not familiar with the arcane canine community, so we assumed this issue was a fairly innocuous bit of discussion about protocol - akin to arguing the toss over whether one can serve red wine with fish - but it turned out to be incendiary stuff, causing one of the most heated arguments in recent BC history.

This week, the importance of getting this issue right has been highlighted by the sad case of a dog killed on Ladywell Fields, reported on the Facebook group "Pets of Telegraph Hill." Michelle writes:

My friend's dog has just been killed by a staff off its lead in Hilly Fields. My friend's dog was an 11year old super friendly and placid Jack Russell and her boyfriend has seriously injured hands from trying to save him - he's currently in Lewisham hospital. The young lad of about 20 with the staff ran off: the police are involved but please be careful.

UPDATE: Following some dispute of the facts in the original report, we have double-checked with the group and confirmed that the incident took place in Ladywell Fields, rather than Hilly Fields and that the attack was by a staff, rather than a pit bull, as was originally reported. These details have now been updated.

However, two members of the Pets of Telegraph Hill group have now confirmed the other elements of the story are true - and the issue just as important. Odile writes:

On hearing about this I contacted Rio's owner last week. They just live up the road from me. She confirmed that the attack and the death of Rio is saddly correct and that they are devasted as well as traumatised. However, she said it happened in Ladywell Fields, not Hilly Fields.

Solong, Sodo. Mamma Dough's bought you out

Sodo Pizza, the Clapton-born sourdough pizza joint that heralded the hipsterisation of HOP, is off. It's handing the keys to its pizza oven to newcomer Mamma Dough. In a perfunctory farewell, Tweeted yesterday, Sodo said:

We would like to let SE23 know that Sodo as a concept and brand is no longer involved in Honor Oak Park. As of today the HOP restaurant will be @mamma_dough. We wish them all the best.

So that's that. BC never managed to make it along to Sodo, but the reviews from BCers were mixed and the Soho team always seemed to treat the HOP branch as the poor relation to their north London ones. They did, however, restore a long-closed restaurant and raised the bar for pizza in this part of the world, so we must be thankful for their short stay in the area. Mamma Dough looks like a like-for-like swap and that should prove to be a solid hit with the HipHOPsters. The best news is that a  a restaurant that Sodo saved from obsolescence won't become dormant again.

Thanks to everyone who sent us the Tweet. If you've tried Mamma Dough already, please let us know what it's like.

Coming soon: Jones of Brockley

For months, there have been murmurs and rumours of murmurs about a new independent food store coming to Crofton Park.

Now, at last, Jones of Brockley has revealed itself. It's will join Pat-a-Cakes on that stretch and work has begun:

A photo posted by Jones of Brockley (@jonesofbrockley) on
Thanks to Molewife for the tip off.

The Workshop, 2 Ewhurst Road

Patrick took this shot of The Workshop - a new alteration and made-to-order clothing service on Ewhurst Road. Sharp. As Patrick says, it's great to see that Ewhurst Road, a little off the beaten track, is going stronger than ever.

Model Market returns

They're back, next week. To save Lewisham from a supermarket takeover. Click here to see what it's all about.

Sainsbury's to open at Lewisham Renaissance

Yet another new supermarket story. Sainsbury's is moving in to the ground floor of Lewisham Renaissance, the residential development on Loampit Vale that begins at the swimming pool and ends at the railway bridge.

As the development nears completion, it has secured its first anchor tenant, which will be going head-to-head with the Asda directly opposite, in Thurston Central (no relation).

Results of Lewisham elections called

Campaign group the Electoral Reform Society has named the winners of the constituency elections in Lewisham East, Lewisham West and Lewisham Deptford, declaring Heidi Alexander, Jim Dowd and Vicky Foxcroft the victors respectively.

The seats are among 364 across the country that the First Past the Post system renders dead certainties due to tribal voting patterns. With the national picture poised so dramatically, it's a shame there's not more at stake at a local level. To be fair to the candidates, the academic nature of the exercise hasn't stopped them campaigning hard.

Tickled pink

Tickle Me is back! The jerk bagler has reopened the business after being ejected by the landlord last week. New Cross chippy Maddy's may soon be next to make a welcome return.

The Rosemary, 178 New Cross Road

Hungarian restaurant The Rosemary is now open. 

Located at 178 New Cross Road and replacing Cafe 178, it looks like a restaurant drawn by a primary school child - the kind of place you might stumble into on a European road trip. And it's all the better for it. 

What it tastes like, we have no idea - we only realised it was open when we cycled past this morning - but the menu looks similarly classic, consisting of simple dishes like Shashlik skewers with a range of meats and vegetables, stuffed cabbage, fried cheese and beef stew. To complete the old-fashioned effect, nothing on the menu is more than a tenner.

Please post your reviews here.

Lean Girls

Sport England's default role is as whipping boy for grassroots sport's many failures, so it's no-wonder they are making more videos that build on the success of their universally-loved "This Girl Can" campaign.

This video, exploring the range of sporting opportunities for women in the capital, includes a group of Girls Who Can go Nordic walking in Brockley. BC passed by the group today in Ladywell Fields and they do look like they're having fun. Details of how to get involved here.

The Brockley Corridor Sound Walk, April 11th

Brockley Max seeks volunteer co-ordinator

El writes:

Love working with people, supporting the arts, championing local communities and getting paid for it? We’ve got just the job for you!

Max Media Arts is looking for an experienced, part-time, temporary, volunteer co-ordinator to recruit, train and manage volunteers for the 2015 Brockley Max community arts festival. This is a paid position. Volunteers are the lifeblood of Brockley Max, so the volunteer coordinator is an essential role to making the festival a success. The main tasks will be:

*To develop a volunteer programme for the festival and the organisation;
*To recruit, train, manage and support volunteers to work on ticket sales, event management, security, administration etc.
*To review and update the organisation’s volunteer documents including induction documents, policies, volunteer records and rotas
*To network with similar organisations to share knowledge, best practice and volunteer opportunities

To find out more about this exciting role and apply for the position click here.

Applications must be in no later than 13th April 2015

Oh Tickle finger of fate!

More change at Brockley Cross. Tickle Me, the jerk bagel takeaway, has closed. A sign outside confirms that the property has been repossessed by the landlord.

Tickle Me customers contributed more than their fair share to the local litter problem, but the food was consistently tasty and a jerk bagel shop is too rare a thing in this world not to mourn its demise.

With thanks to Dave for the notice.

One night at the Brockley Social Club

Helen Tozer's Saving Easter

Helen writes:

Do we have what it takes to save spring? How can we find out? How many animals does it take to save spring? 
Please come dressed as your favourite one!

Interactive & immersive storytelling, plus Easter egg hunt & games galore. For ages 3 years - 10years, 20 places available, starting 11.30am, 05/04/2015, Easter Sunday.

Please book at - The Talbot, 2 Tyrwhitt Road, SE4 1QG

Brockley Yurt Company plans big tent solution to soaring house prices

Do you really want to yurt me? The Drake Road yurt is ready to take its first guest
The latest wave of house price inflation has produced all kinds of drastic housing solutions and cash-grabs locally, including narrow homes, shed-homes, pop-ups and self-builds. But no-one has dared to think outside the four-walls-and-a-roof box quite so radically as the Brockley Yurt Company.

The idea is simple: Brockley has lots of big gardens and a ready supply of bohemians ready to play host. The company installs the Yurt (a round tent favoured by central Asian nomads) and finds the tenants, while the home owner shares their garden, front door and toilet for a cut of the proceeds.

The brainchild of two local entrepreneurs (Yurtrepreneurs? Entreyurtneurs? Entrepreyurts?), the Brockley Yurt Co claims to have signed up four local home-owners, with gardens in Drake, Geoffrey, Tyrwhitt and Glensdale Roads and plans to launch on Airbnb later this month. Co-founder Andrew explains:

"We were at a friend's house party last summer, camping out in their garden in Brockley. What was supposed to be a night turned into a six week stay and the idea for the Brockley Yurt Company was born.

"Yurts are totally practical and warm, although they do suit the more sociable tenant. Each one can comfortably house a group of four and we are looking for people who want to lay down roots in the area for at least three months."

"The people who've shown an interest in renting are an eclectic mix. Our first residents include an anthropologist, a theatre manager and a couple of people working on contract at Canary Wharf. Never mind getting a foot on the ladder, yurt-living lets you feel the grass between your toes.

"We're also looking for garden owners as we think we can expand up to ten gardens across the area."

In case you think this is the cheap alternative to bricks and mortar, be warned: prices start from £850 per month per person with wifi, electricity and fuel chucked in, but no running water. The team are planning an "Open Yurt Weekend" in April to tempt renters.

Follow the Brockley Yurt Company on Twitter here.