What didn't happen in 2016

Before I write the Brockley Central review of the year, I thought it would be worth reflecting on three things that don't appear in the 2016 round-up. These are stories and themes that were staples in previous years, but were happily absent in the last twelve months:

Brockley murder

With depressing regularity each summer, as the nights grew longer and warmer, a gang-related grievance would escalate to produce a fatal stabbing somewhere near Brockley Station or Brockley Cross. Often, this would be followed days later by a deadly reprisal.

The normalisation of spaces that were once designated drug-dealing hangouts has reduced the opportunity for conflict, while zero-tolerance policing has dispersed the gangs. As a result, 2016 was the first year in the history of the site that I haven't had to report a Brockley murder.

It may be a statistical blip, but let's be grateful for small mercies.

Grumbling about rude station staff

The comment threads used to be littered with complaints about the attitude of Brockley Station staff, who were variously described as rude, inert and generally incompetent.

By contrast, staff now regularly receive compliments for their cheer and professionalism, even in the face of massive disruption to the Southern service. New management of the station has transformed the mood and no-one who has been bid a hearty goodnight at the ticket barriers as they leave the station will ever feel the same about their commute again.

Protests about big brands

Co-Op, Sainsbury's and Costa all moved in to the area in a big way in 2016. Once, this would have triggered demonstrations, petitions and apocalyptic predictions for local independent businesses. This year, the complaints never rose above a tut.

Possibly, this is due to changing demographics, maybe the ideological battleground has shifted - but most likely it's because we've had a decade of local evidence to suggest that chains and indies can live side-by-side after all.

Vote for the best local newcomer 2016

Voting for the Best Newcomer 2016 Award is now open. Previous winners have included Masala Wala, The Brockley Deli, Brockley Market and Gently Elephant, so 2016 has a lot to live up to.

Despite much of this year's local newcomer action falling just outside the catchment area, in PLACE Ladywell, The Deptford Project, Brockley Rise and New Cross high street, the field is as big as last year's record crop, with 15 new shops, bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs vying for your votes.

Please head over to the right-hand side of the page (if you're viewing the mobile version of this site, you'll need to switch to standard view) to cast your vote for the best new local high street business of the year.

To qualify for the vote, only businesses in Brockley, St John's and Ladywell Village are counted and businesses need to have changed hands and reinvented themselves to be considered "newcomers".

This is the biggest-ever year for boozers, with an unprecedented three pubs competing with one bar and two specialist beer shops for the title.

Here are your choices:

Brickfields - hip Midtown bar
The Brockley Grill - Jerk specialist in Brockley Cross
The Brookmill - gastro pub on the St John's border
Cat Food Bakery - Ewhurst Road baker-on-demand
Co-Op - Midtown supermarket
The Copper Tea - Lewisham Way cafe
The Fat Walrus - Lewisham Way pub reimagining
Fred's - Crofton Park cafe
House of Hair - new-look Mantle Road salon
The Lewisham Grill House - Lewisham Way Lebanese
Puccini Kitchens - Crofton Park showroom
The Royal Standard - hostel takeover on Tanners Hill
Sainsbury's - The Brockley Road branch
Salthouse Bottles - East side bottle shop
Waterintobeer - West side home-brew specialist

Please cast your votes now - voting will close on January 1st.

Brickfields, 293 Brockley Road

Dark star: Brickfields is deliberately dark, inside and out
Brickfields, the new Brockley Road bar from the team behind The Orchard, launched this week and is open every night from 6pm-midnight (except Christmas Eve, when it shuts at 10.30pm).

Like The Orchard, the owners have come up with an unfussy recipe, focused on atmosphere, rather than gimmicks. Unlike The Orchard - and every other local venue that's opened in the last decade - it seems aimed squarely at 20-somethings, rather than 30-somethings. Music plays a much more central role here than in any other SE4 bar.

Outside and inside, it's dark. Requiem for a Dream-dark. There is nice detailing on the bar, courtesy of local architect Gruff, but you'll need to wait until the clocks go forward to see it properly. Not since former hippy-lounge Moonbow Jakes closed down and got replaced by the Brockley Mess has a local venue so deliberately eschewed natural light.
The elegant detailing you won't see
And it's tight. Formerly a restaurant space, it's more generously proportioned than Masala Wala, but it has had to make similarly-efficient use of space. Like a narrow-boat version of Jam Circus, it has a front bar and a quieter back room.

Brickfields brings something new to the area. An uncompromising cool that is only possible once you decide not to cater for the daytime crowd of baby buggies and home-workers. And it's another hit. Last night, with little fanfare, the place was already busy.

The Telegraph Hill booksale for Crisis

Tamsin writes:

Having a clear out for Christmas? Please donate any unwanted books - fiction, non-fiction, magazine collections, children's - to the regular fundraiser for CRISIS.  This will be held in the Telegraph Hill Centre, SE14 5TY (on the 343 and 484 bus routes and with parking in the streets nearby) on Saturday 7th January from 1pm to 5pm

All donations gratefully received.  They can be brought to the Hill Station in Kitto Road on Boxing Day (open for free hot drinks, biscuits and cake from 12noon to approx. 4pm) and after it re-opens for the New Year on Wednesday 4th January.  And you can also leave books at the Centre (open at the time of all St Catherine's church services).

Once were Tea Dancers

An application has been made to convert the empty Brockley Cross Tea Factory retail units into a two-bedroom flat.

The space has variously functioned as a gallery space, a life drawing studio, estate agent and an implausibly elaborate Tea Dance-themed childcare centre (in the days when Brockley entrepreneurs thought business plans were dangerously capitalist and the Council could still afford to subsisidise things). But mostly it's just lain empty.

These kinds of moves are usually made prematurely by landlords who haven't seriously tried to fill the units, but this site is particularly challenging and even with peppercorn rents, it has been a problem to fill. A smaller unit in the building was recently converted to residential use. This is one we can let die.

Thanks to Ed for the tip-off.

Coming very soon: Brickfields

Brickfields, the new Brockley Road bar from the team behind The Orchard. Its test-run last night went swimmingly and the public opening is imminent.

An early Christmas present for Brockley and a shot in the arm for this Midtown stretch.

Ladywell Fields cafe burgled

The Ladywell Fields cafe, run by local charity Ten Thousand Hands, has been burgled and around £6,000 of equipment has been stolen. The Evening Standard reports:

"Callous thieves allegedly broke into the Ten Thousand Hands Cafe in Ladywell Fields in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"The café, which opened in 2014, has been used to train young people including those with autism and provide a community facility."

A JustGiving page has been started, to raise funds to replace the lost items. Click here to donate.

Thank you to Jenny for the heads-up.

Lewisham: Barbed wire and roses

Owen Hatherley, a young writer who never saw a failed brutalist post-war estate he didn't live in but couldn’t nonetheless get nostalgic about, has been to Lewisham and written an assessment for The Architectural Review of the new developments taking shape. He is not impressed.

Lots of people have sent me his article, which has been passed around on social media by self-flagellating locals. So let's take a look at whether the criticisms are fair. He writes:

"In promotional images, it combines the rectitude of the ‘New London Vernacular’ with the soaring, ‘aspirational’ world of roof terraces and floor-to-ceiling views of the City skyline. Yet in Robert Clayton’s photographs, taken on the street, it looks a townscape disaster of aggressive fences and stark architecture."

To be sure, Clayton has rooted around the back of some of the buildings and found a couple of shots of unlovely walls and fences - two of which protect the fully-functioning railway track just behind them. He has also pointed his camera at some bin bags strewn around one of the local streets. That the offending street is Victorian and clearly some distance from the development being discussed, does not stop it being used as a ponderous metaphor. He goes on:

"It makes an interesting contrast to, say, King’s Cross Central – there, a long-running project was finished by serious architects working for developers held under pressure from local authorities and campaigners to unusually high standards, befitting the entry into London on the Eurostar. The entry into Lewisham is another matter."

Kings Cross, one of the biggest, best and most ambitious regeneration projects in Europe, is a high bar to set for a relatively modest development next to a zone 2 commuter station. The entire Lewisham Gateway site could be comfortably swallowed up by St Pancras station alone. He turns first to the Renaissance development by Barratt (full disclosure, a client of my employer's):

"What is clear on the ground is how pitiful the public space is. A wedge of asphalt with a sad little kids’ playground, fiercely gated in; a door inset into a blue-grey barcode facade with the sign ‘Danger: 11,000 Volts’; the ubiquitous granite setts; metal gates enclosing giant pot plants; three layers of fences between some flats and the street, planted with creepers in the hope we won’t notice."

He's referring of course to the pocket playground, set between two of the buildings. It's certainly not a place grown-ups want to linger, but it has entertained my kids plenty of times. More importantly, on the other side of the building is a large green space (complete with another, much bigger, playground) that serves as the centrepiece for this area. Facing on to this square are a newly-expanded school, a tranquil stretch of riverside, new social housing and Renaissance itself. As ever, it's what the writer doesn't tell you that's most important.

"Just behind Renaissance SE13, past a still extant retail park with Poundland, Matalan and Sports Direct, is another cluster, this time divided between two clients – housing association Family Mosaic, and American student housing developer Chapter... the [Mosaic] development is darkened by the canyon-like effect of tall blocks looming over a narrow service road, something avoided by postwar council estates, what with their green space and carefully arranged orientation to the sun."

The Loampit Vale approach and the buildings themselves are undeniably dark and the plastic-silver finish is not to my tastes, but post-war council estates (sometimes) avoided the canyon effect by building over huge, bombed-out sites, bulldozing any communities that got in their way. This development was a bit of opportunism, whose only victim was some trading estate.

"The last part is so far unfinished – the towers of Lewisham Gateway, by PRP Architects in the tripartite Vernacular style, with penthouses on the top. And that’s it – that there is the new centre of Lewisham, and that is what we’re meant to want a lot more of."

No, that isn't it. The 'new centre' hasn't even begun to emerge from the location of the roundabout, which carved the area in two. None of the new buildings being erected are intended to serve as the new centre, they are meant to act as a bridge between the station and the traditional centre, which has been in long-term decline.

The towers springing up by the station are, in my view, particularly handsome and they will sit on top of what we must hope will be some decent public space. When Lewisham Gateway is finished there is more to come. We won't be able fairly to judge the new Lewisham for years.

"Some of it – the park, at least – is passable, and it’s easy to say it’s ‘better’ than the sheds that were there before. But it makes very clear three things. First, is that the result of a numbers game is always going to be grim, with any sort of attempt at character and liveliness being fairly irrelevant."

But it is a numbers game and we have to admit that. We have huge targets to hit, simply to keep up with London's booming population. The article acknowledges and downplays this brutal fact at the same time. The Council evidently is trying to build character and liveliness into Lewisham, but to get liveliness you need people - and that's what the housing will bring. The most lively parts of Lewisham are those that owe least to the planners - the street market and Model Market. They work because they have customers. They are the product of a numbers game.

"Second, expecting that ‘more’ will mean any help for anyone other than the already affluent, is optimistic. Here, council housing was actively erased from the site, and for all the involvement of the housing associations, this place will not even make the tiniest dent in Lewisham’s council waiting list."

Lewisham is an area of high deprivation. The new schemes are a well-balanced mix.

"Third, the new vernacular, so long as it coexists with a developer-driven urbanism which sees spaciousness as so much wasted, unrentable space, means little more than politesse curtain-walled over plutocracy. If the New Lewisham is anything to go by, New London will consist of high-security, high-rise dormitories, built right into the inner city."

It is clear Hatherley wishes he'd managed to find something that he could call a poor door, but in the absence of that he will settle for loosely implying social segregation. The charge is unfounded. As for the "dormitory" label, where should we put housing if not within easy reach by public transport of two of the biggest jobs markets in the world - the City and Canary Wharf?

It's not hard to focus your camera at every overturned wheelie bin or water-stained wall and make the facts fit a pre-determined political narrative. But on a walk through Lewisham on a sunny day, my camera saw kids playing, yoga classes decanting from the gym and people having fun. No filter.

A photo posted by Nick Barron (@nickbarronldn) on

A photo posted by Nick Barron (@nickbarronldn) on

Brockley Xmas Market today

Snack Bar restaurant gets prepped

The new restaurant space being created on the site of the former 'Snack Bar' in Ladywell Village looks close to completion.

Brockley singers bid for Christmas domination

Steve writes:

"This year’s race for the Christmas number 1 spot once again involves people from the Brockley & Lewisham area - following last year’s hit by the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir with ‘A Bridge Over You’. Today sees the release of ‘The Living Years’ by The London Hospices Choir & Paul Carrack made up of 300 patients, families, staff and volunteers from 18 hospices.

"St Christopher’s Hospice Community Choir (Lewisham’s local hospice) is very well represented in the production of this single. St Christopher’s Community Choir is made up of patients,volunteers, bereaved family members of the local community.

"We’re aiming for this year’s Christmas number 1 to raise awareness of the hospice movement with every £1 from the sale of the CD single going back to the participating hospices. The single has been made with Paul Carrack who has worked with many bands ranging from Ace to Squeeze to Mike + the Mechanics. Paul sang the lead vocals on the original version of 'The Living Years' in 1988."

- Then, cleanse your musical palate with this:

Help fund a play therapy room for abused children

Mosac is a voluntary organisation supporting all non-abusing parents and carers whose children have been sexually abused. They have just moved in to Endwell Road premises and are fundraising to support their work. They say:

The building we have taken over is a former nursery, and offers great possibilities for our services, however it needs some refurbishment. We don't have the funds to buy in professional renovators, so we are trying to do most of it ourselves.

We need donations of items such as office chairs, desks, tables, toilet furniture to help us fit out the building.

We have also launched a Gofundme campaign to pay for a Play Therapy room. You can find the details here and any donations would be gratefully received.

For more information about Mosac's work, click here.

The Brockley Artists Christmas Fair, December 14

The Brockley Artists Christmas Fair this week features showcases for local talent including
Myah Chun, Sarah Gavin, Ben Gold, Ester Keate, Jiyun Lapthorn, Agatha A. Nitecka, Laura Reed and Al Turner.

The event will also feature a showcase for Brockley fashion start-up, fronte.co.uk.

Blue is the new Green is the new Orange

Jesse: It may be blue, but it's the bomb.
Tuco: Tight! Tight, tight, yeah! Oh, blue, yellow, pink. Whatever, man. Just keep bringing me that.
- Breaking Bad

Co-Ops are the new Sainsbury's. Two new convenience stores are about to open in the area.

Still rushing from the critical success of its re-brand from green to crystal blue, the company is expanding fast and has targeted this area. Finishing touches are being put on their stores in Brockley Road's midtown church conversion and a new-build by the DLR in Deptford.
Deptford Bridge
I have never quite forgiven them for the irredeemably bad Co-Op that I relied on as a student or for the lousy Co-Op in Crofton Park, but the group seems to have got its act together in the last couple of years and the new retro logo sure is pretty.

Ladywell Playtower to be reopened in 2019

Lewisham Council has committed to restore Ladywell Baths, the derelict Victorian building sometimes known as The Playtower.

Following pressure from the Ladywell Village Improvement Group, it has now published a timetable for the project, which aims to reopen the building in the second half of 2019, at a cost of £4-5million.

Expressions of interest from developers will be invited in January 2017 and a winning bidder will be selected by March.

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group commented:

"The Council's has, over recent years, signally failed to make committed effort to safeguard the future of this building, despite the significant ongoing costs to the Council Tax payer.  So we are pleased to see that a clear process is in now place and hopes the this results in good schemes which include at least some element of community access/use.

"This might include a mix of some of the following - restaurant, bar, cinema, theatre, community office space, fitness/leisure facilities - though doubtless other options exist!"

Honor Oak sold to Laine's

Pub group and owners of The Ladywell Tavern and The Old Nun's Head, Laine's has bought the lease for the Honor Oak pub from the current owners the Camden Dining Group. I don't know what that really means, but a proper journalist who knows about beer reckons it's good news.

Port Masterclass at the Brockley Deli

The Thinking Cinema

Daniel writes:

The Thinking Cinema is a philosophical cinema specialising in showing intelligent and thought-provoking documentaries, art films, and fiction films from around the world. The cinema aims to help us understand how we exist in relation to one another. It will also exist as a space for thinking to take place, for conversations and talks, seminars and lectures.

The cinema will launch at 6pm Thursday 15 December with a free screening of Gun Nation by Zed Nelson (30min, 2016), introduced by the director.

Housed in the Good Hope café (run by the charity For Jimmy) at PLACE/Ladywell on Lewisham High Street, the new non-profit volunteer-run community cinema has 30 seats, a surround sound system, and a 4-metre wide screen.

To become a free member simply email info@thethinkingcinema.org.

Midtown Co-Op opening December 15

The Co-Op community engagement officer has confirmed that a new store will be opening on Brockley Road in the Midtown area, near Adelaide Avenue.

"The store management and colleagues have been working hard to get the store ready to open to the community on Thursday 15th December."

The Walrus Enclosure

Howard Howe: The walrus is far more evolved than any man I've ever known. Present company included.
- Tusk

The Fat Walrus pub (44 Lewisham Way) has built one of the wonders of Greater Brockley. A winter palace to make Peter the Great weep with envy.

Bomull Press Christmas Cards

Myah writes:

We are Bomull Press based in Brockley.

We have some cards and posters all designed here in our studio and riso-printed in Hato press in Hackney. Last year we produced some Christmas cards for all Brockley and broccoli loving people.

We’d like to offer the readers of Brockley Central 30% discount when they purchase any items in our web shop.

Use code : CHRISTMAS when you checkout.

Lewisham makes baby Jesus cry

The Crofton Park Christmas tree has been swaddled in traffic management barriers, much to the chagrin of local residents on Twitter. Trees in Ladywell and Catford are reportedly even more silly looking.

Lewisham Council: If you have so little faith in your citizens that you don't credit them with sufficient Christmas spirit to avoid violating a conifer or sense enough not to crash into one, then just don't bother.

As a society, we either need to take a leap of faith and trust that the trees will be fine without plastic protection or we need the creativity to find another way to bring festive joy to our streets.

As Dave reminded me on Twitter, in 2015 a Lewisham Christmas Tree was branded the UK's saddest.

Via Facebook, Emma has shared this tragic Christmas scene from Ladywell.

Ladies and Gentlemen: We got him

Able was Howard ere he saw Brockley. We have accomplished what Jeremy Paxman never could. We have taken down the kingpin. The Mail reports:

Former Tory leader Michael Howard has been convicted of failing to say who was driving his car when it was caught by a speed camera [on Lewisham Way].

Lord Howard, 75, and his wife Sandra, 76, both claimed either could have been driving their Toyota Prius, which was clocked at 37.3 mph in a 30mph zone.

The former Home Secretary was fined £900, with £625 costs, plus a £90 victim surcharge and received six penalty points on his driving licence.

Thank you to Monkeyboy and Joe (not a double-act) who sent me the link.

In the South

Good Hope Ladywell - Opening December 8

The charity, For Jimmy, set up after the murder of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, is opening a new Good Hope café at PLACE Ladywell in Lewisham; six years after opening Good Hope Hither Green.

The new café will continue to support the work of For Jimmy, with 10p from every £1 going towards helping young people build Safe Havens across Lewisham. These are places young people can turn to when in danger or feeling threatened on the street. Both Good Hope cafés are flagship Safe Havens, alongside Lewisham Shopping Centre and many other businesses across the borough.

The charity will be running the café and a community cinema that is based at the rear of the unit. Lewisham central has been without a cinema since the last one closed on Lewisham High Street in 1986. The 40 seater cinema is a welcome addition to the local community, and will also double up as an event space for use by community groups and organisations.

For Jimmy also partner with Drumbeat School and ASD Services to provide personalised placements for young people with Autism, enabling them to experience the workplace and acquire a range of essential skills. The café offers a fantastic new environment for those young people to experience and work within.

An official opening party is being held on 8th December, for the local community to see the space and find out more about how it will support For Jimmy moving into 2017. The launch will run from 6-8pm, alongside the grand opening of PLACE / Ladywell.

Margaret Mizen, MBE, mother of Jimmy, said: “We are very excited to have opened another Good Hope café and can’t wait for the community to make use of the cinema and event space. When we opened the first Good Hope in Hither Green in 2010, we could never have imagined how fast the charity would grow and just how many young people would hear Jimmy’s story. The profits will continue to support our work building Safe Havens across Lewisham and spreading Jimmy’s legacy of peace across the UK.”

Prendergast Primary Xmas, December 2

Please help local man retrace his steps

James writes:

My friend Chris sustained a serious head injury on Arbuthnot Road on 20 November and the police are appealing for any witnesses to piece together what's happened. Chris is still in a critical condition.

If any Brockley Central readers saw or heard anything passing through New Cross on the way home that night, please can they tell the police. The is the Police press release:

Christopher Mapleston, 29, was found at approximately 03:00hrs on Sunday, 20 November lying on Arbuthnot Road, close to Pepys Road in New Cross. He had a laceration to his head.

He was taken by the London Ambulance Service to a south London hospital where doctors discovered that he had a fractured skull. He remains in a critical condition.

Due to his injury, Christopher has been unable to tell officers what happened that night.

Detectives from Lewisham CID are investigating and have established that Christopher had spent the night socialising with friends. 

His friends last saw him running for a Route N343 bus close to Peckham Rye Railway Station between 01:30 and 02:00hrs. It is not known what happened between this time, and when he was found in the road less than two miles away.

Officers are keen to hear from anyone who saw Christopher that night. If it assists, he is described as white, approximately 5ft 7ins tall, of slim build with brown hair. He was wearing a green camouflage jacket, black trousers and trainers.

Anyone with information is asked to contact officers at Lewisham via 101.

Lewisham's disposable income rising at UK's fastest rate

You've never had it so good. It's boom time in Lewisham, according to a new study, which says this borough is experiencing the fastest rise in disposable income per capita in the UK. City AM reports:

Lewisham and Southwark experienced a 5.3 per cent rise in cash in people's pockets that's free to spend, growing faster than anywhere else in the country and compared to the UK average of 0.5 per cent.

The rising incomes are a sign of redevelopment in the areas attracting more and more young professionals, said UHY Hacker Young which collected the figures.

Despite the influx of new venues to the area over the last few years, these figures show what we all know: There is still an imbalance between demand and supply. A beautifully revamped Wickham would make a killing. A hipster pizza joint would be rammed. A decent Thai restaurant would clean up.

Thank you to Fraser for the link.

The Brockley Artists Christmas Fair, December 3

A new event from the people behind Brockley Open Studios

Where Ladies Dwell

This is the street artwork that Ladywell Assembly will be asked to provide the funding for at the upcoming meeting on November 30th. Planned for a wall on Elmira Street, it form the gateway to Ladywell, hinting at the delights that lie ahead.

Why would you not want to do this? In terms of ROI for the public purse, it's got to be on a par with a dialysis machine or Crossrail 2.

Brockley MOT garage to be redeveloped

The MOT garage on the corner of Upper Brockley Road and Geoffrey Road is the subject of a new proposal to redevelop the site as housing, with office space at ground level.

The scheme is for "the construction of a four storey building to provide 7 residential units and 53sqm of commercial floorspace (Use Class B1)."

The guys working there - unfailingly helpful in my experience - have been living with this prospect hanging over their heads for years and this will not come as a huge surprise. And while the loss of a useful local service is a blow, that site is currently a polluted eyesore.

The architecture is more utilitarian than this spot deserves. This is a chance to enhance one of the gateways to the Conservation Area and due care should be given to the aesthetics.

Thank you to Tim, who gave me the heads-up.

Christmas reopening for The Ladywell Tavern

Work in progress on the refurbishment
The Ladywell Tavern, will be reopening on December 7th. Since closing it in August, the new owners have stripped the place back and given it a full refurbishment, charted here.

It may look like there is still a fair amount to do, but so confident are they of hitting their target that they're already taking Christmas Party bookings from December 12th.

Following the sad closure of The Ravensbourne Arms, this is a welcome bit of good news.

Tesco tower proposed for Lewisham

Image from the consultation, courtesy of QWAG
Developer Meyer Homes has revealed plans to develop new homes next to the Lewisham Tesco supermarket, adding 365 homes to the site.
Image from the consultation, courtesy of QWAG
The scheme, presented yesterday, includes three towers and some public realm works, including two new squares. Although the developers claim that they will 'naturalise' the river, the Quaggy Waterways Action Group points out that the banks will still be encased in concrete and describe it as a 'missed opportunity'.

There is certainly now precedent in the area for tall buildings and the development has the potential to replace a lonely spot close to the station with something more useful, but it will be important for this scheme to relate to everything else being built in central Lewisham right now.

Tesco previously explored a smaller scheme at this location.

Christmas Wrapping

Three Christmassy things are coming soon:

Run The Broadway Theatre Cafe & Bar

The Broadway Theatre's bars and cafe are tired and worn, harming the venue's appeal to public and producers alike. Now Lewisham Council is looking for a partner to help rejuvenate them. They write:

Lewisham Council writes:

Lewisham Council is seeking a new operator to run the café and bars in the Grade II listed Broadway Theatre in Catford.

This marks the beginning of an ambitious wide-scale regeneration plan for Catford that will see over 1000 new homes built in the area, the redevelopment of the Council offices and Civic Suite, new retail outlets and public spaces.

Councillor Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Older People, said: “The Broadway Theatre café and bars are highly valued by a wide range of visitors including residents, theatre goers and local groups. We’re looking for the right operator to work with the theatre staff to realise the huge further potential of the café and bars so that they become thriving, important assets that benefit the growing local community and visitors from beyond Lewisham.”

The Broadway Theatre is itself set to undergo minor works in the short term, with more extensive works planned for the longer term to safeguard the future of this important asset with the help of external funding.

The new operator for the cafe will be selected by the end of 2016 and should be installed by spring 2017. The successful candidate is expected to designate the café a south London destination.

Expressions of interest are still being received, with a proposal deadline of 5 December. Interested parties should contact Louise Brooks & Nicky Chambers at broadwaytheatrecafe@bakelondon.co.uk

Deptford Market Yard opening night tonight

Today's the official opening of Deptford Market Yard and the special offers from participating businesses include:

Win & Ruby
10% off all day

Plain Bear
Chance to win 25% off in store activities, Instagram competition plus free limited edition tote bag when spending over £70

Gitas Portal 
GP are celebrating their 5 year anniversary with celebratory fun in store including a fashion showcase. Wear your favourite Gitas Portal piece for your chance to win in a special prizedraw

The Box
£5 'Glamz Up' quick hairstyling will get you looking party ready

The English Flowerhouse
10% of all products throughout the day. 20% off all wreath making workshops booked on the day and 10% off Christmas trees and wreaths preordered on the day with free local delivery!

Lomond Coffee
Special Lomond coffee blend Espresso Martinis from 6pm

Be London
10% of clothes all day and in store fashion showcase after 6pm

Dirty Apron
Opening night express menu from the supper club duo

Mama's Jerk
30% of food between 6pm - 8pm so get down early! Chance to win a free meal for two at Mama's Jerk, plus vintage Reggae vibes in store

Little Nan's
Cocktails in teapots and hot mulled cocktails till late

In the Market Yard
Covered area with music by local Deptford DJ's, hot mulled drinks, circus performers including Fire Poi and LED juggling, street food stalls including Bill or Beak and Hao Hao Chi fresh dumplings. 6pm till late

6pm - 11pm, Wednesday 23rd November.
The event is free to attend.

For full details, click here

You shall go to Blackfriars - join the campaign for Crofton Park trains every 15 minutes

A Cinderella Line - it has a logo and everything
Local action groups aren't supposed to be this successful. The Cinderella Line is a campaign to improve the frequency and quality of services that run through Crofton Park Station.

They scored an impressive early win with the recent decision to offer more trains during morning rush hour. Now they want your help to do more. They say:

"We’re fighting for improvements on the Catford loop trains. Now is the time for action.

"Thameslink Railway are in the middle of the biggest timetable consultation in a generation and want our thoughts on their proposals. This is our chance to get four trains an hour as a minimum standard for Crofton Park and the Catford Loop. A chance to get trains every 15 minutes, so you can just turn up and go.

"But to get all of this we need your help. We need to get 1,500 responses by 8th December so we can show how much demand there is for our service.

"All you need to do to respond is sign your name and say you support our request for a minimum of 4 trains an hour, through Blackfriars, all day every day.

"You can of course add your own comments and suggestions too. Just click here to go to the response survey."

St Catherine's Christmas Market, Nov 26

Brockley Christmas Cards

Local artist Nancy Ellis has created four Brockley Christmas card designs. She explains:

"Each scene takes you on a local journey,from stocking up at The Christmas Markets, watching The Christmas Play with a warming mulled wine, enjoying The Christmas Walk on a wintry Hilly Fields, to the infamous New Year’s Party at the Rivoli Ballroom!

"The additional design ‘Greenwich Winter Time’, depicting a snowy Royal Observatory from one of South London’s most beautiful parks."

A single card costs £1.50, the SE4 multipack costs £8 for 8.

Order them from Nancy's website here.

Thanksgiving at Noak

Westside restaurant Noak is throwing a Thanksgiving special. I would like to give thanks for Noak's reopening.

Love Ladywell Street Art

The campaign to brighten Ladywell and plug it in to the street art revolution that has transformed Greater Brockley continues. Joe writes:

I have been allowed to go forward to bid for funding for the street art for my project under Ladywell railway bridge on Ellerdale Street.

Bread Collective are currently drawing up designs for me to show on the evening. I need as many people who are in favour of it to come to the Ladywell Assembly at Grodonbrock Primary School, Amyruth Road, London SE4 1HQ at 7pm on 30th November.

Selencky /// Parsons opens in Coulgate Street

Architects Selencky///Parsons are the latest business to move into Coulgate Street, taking up residence at a new studio, which opened recently. They say:

"Our practice was formed by Sam Selencky and David Parsons. We had our beginnings in Brockley, three years ago, when we worked from a room in one of our houses. After expanding and moving to a shared workspace in Peckham, we decided to come back to Brockley and fit-out our own studio space.

"The move was a natural choice for us. It is a place we know and love, having lived here for ten years, and a lot of our work is in South East London.

"The majority of our projects are residential, but we work across the architectural spectrum and at a range of scales. We are interested in working with any client that is looking to create interesting, thoughtful and well crafted designs. Some of our recent projects include a workspace fit out, an electricity substation and an extension to a 1960's ex-council terraced house. Feel free to pop in and say hello!"

For details, click here.

Portlandia: The Brunch Special

On Sunday, Jam Circus will host a 'Ladies' Brunch' that combines shopping, eating and weight loss advice... Sam writes:

"A lazy Sunday morning doing things we all love. Come and join us for Brunch on the 20th to find out more about how you can enjoy the festive season while eating well and watching the waist line. While enjoying some Christmas shopping with Stella & Dot.

"Sam from Fit & Flourish will be talking to us about all things nutrition and fitness in the run up to the most indulgent time of year and Jules from Stella & Dot will be bring along some very sparkly treats for us to try and buy to kick start our Christmas shopping or treat ourselves. Ticket includes your Brunch and a hot drink."

Click here for details.

Croftmas 2016

Major improvements to Crofton Park trains from December

The Cinderella Line is the campaign group working to secure better train services through Crofton Park. The current service is as infrequent as it is unreliable and they believe the people along that route deserve better.

The group has been working with Vicky Foxcroft MP and Southeastern Trains to introduce a new timetable and has had a stunning success. They say:

"From December 12th, four new trains will stop at Crofton Park between 7-9am . Three will go on to Denmark Hill and Victoria and one to Elephant & Castle and Blackfriars.

"The Victoria services currently pass through Crofton Park but don’t stop there, so they will now make the additional stop at Crofton Park.

"We have also been pushing Thameslink to introduce new Class 700 trains, with 30% more capacity than the trains we currently have. The first of these will appear from the end of November and then replace our current trains at the rate of one per week.

"These stations were chosen as they have the least number of trains on the Catford Loop. The services will be weekday mornings only – for the evening, people can change at Denmark Hill and the journey time will be 25 minutes from Victoria to Crofton Park.

"By January next year, all our peak time services should be the new trains which offer 30% extra capacity to the current ones."

Times for the new services are as follows:

07:36 Crofton Park – Victoria
07:58 Bellingham – Victoria
08:24 Crofton Park – Victoria
08:43 Crofton Park – Victoria
09:01 Crofton Park - Blackfriars

Follow the Cinderella Line team on Twitter here.

Eat a Rainbow, November 20

The Field team write:

Join us for our free official launch event for Eat a Rainbow, at 'The Field', New Cross. We will have pizza making, fruit & veg kebabs, a vegetable carving competition, kids activities and more!

We are a social enterprise that runs a low cost fruit and veg stall outside the Post Office on New Cross Road, supported by local people and run by volunteers.

We want to provide all people with fair access to seasonal fresh fruit and vegetable that will improve the health and wellbeing of people and families living in deprived communities in South London.

Coming soon: Parlez

A licencing application has been made to Lewisham Council for 16 Coulgate Street, the large new unit created right next to the south eastern entrance of Brockley Station.

The new owners are planning to open a restaurant called Parlez and have lodged an application to serve food and alcohol until midnight at weekends. They have also applied to stage live music.

The space is deceptively large, so has huge potential.

Thanks to BCer Sarah, who spotted it.

Good Hope Cafe, Ladywell

Good Hope is another new arrival at pop-up development PLACE / Ladywell. The cafe chain, created to honour the memory of murdered teen Jimmy Mizen, began in Hither Green and has expanded to the Lewisham High Street development.

Alongside giving financial support to the charity 'For Jimmy', the café provides training and work experience programmes, and offers work placements in partnership with Drumbeat School & ASD Services for young people with Autism.

For details, click here.

Silver Road gallery and cafe, Lewisham

This one came out of nowhere! Silver Road is an extraordinary new experimental music and performance venue in a converted water tank, at Number 1 Silver Road, Lewisham (near the Renaissance swimming pool). The team says:

"We are open as a café in the day time and offer vegetarian food, cakes, and amazing coffee! We've also just had our 1st concert with Rie Nakajima & Pierre Berthet and will be announcing more performances soon."
Photo courtesy of Neil Gadhok
"On November 10th, we will be hosting Resonance 104.4fm for an event called Radionics Radio. Composer Daniel Wilson will be joined by film-maker Toby Clarkson to present a live audio-visual diffusion of thought-frequencies."

For more information about Silver Road, click here.

Coming soon: Brickfields Bar

A new bar / restaurant is opening on Brockley Road, brought to us by the team behind The Orchard.

The Orchard (Harefield Road) was among the first of Brockley’s new wave of restaurants, bars and cafes that people went to as an active and positive choice rather than out of a sense of duty to local businesses or a lack of better ideas.

In many ways, it is still the benchmark that other local businesses should aspire to. Somehow both buzzy and relaxed, simple yet fancy. Cosy in winter when the flames of the oven seem to heat the whole space, cool in summer with the windows thrown open. The founders struck the right balance and created the perfect local experience.

So this news is welcome and overdue. They are going to try and bottle lightning all over again – this time, in Midtown.

Brickfields is the name of their new place, replacing the old, deserted Thai restaurant on Brockley Road. They’ve got the keys, they’ve got planning permission. They are finally ready to go. Ed explains:

“The plan is for a bar with a late licence serving food, cocktails, craft beer, wine... It isn't going to be a carbon copy of The Orchard and will have a personality all of it's own.

“We are hoping to be open for Christmas but will see how we get on with the build!”

Breaking Bad

Say its name! After years of speculation that Duke might have shut down - always to be confounded by reports that someone had successfully managed to buy 'a pint of milk' at 2am there - we finally have confirmation that the legendary Brockley Cross convenience store has closed. The landlord was the one who knocks.

Monkeyboy trod lightly to send us these photos. The first a notice of forfeiture from the landlord, the second a bunch of flowers, representing the mourning process this community is going through.

It may have dealt in half measures, but a Brockley institution has been lost. Duke's passing marks the end of an era. Its death should not satisfy us.

O Plop: Lewisham restaurant plan withdrawn

London Union's plans to open a massive foodiplex next to Lewisham Shopping Centre have hit the skids.

The pop-up food group's auditors report that "the directors decided that this site does not fit their long-term plans. The site has not been sublet or developed..."

The venue was supposed to open last year, with Polpo as an anchor tenant.

Thanks to Fraser for the auditor report and to Paul for rooting around on Twitter.

The Brockley calendar 2017

David writes:

I am raising money for Barnardos and  had an idea I wanted to run past Brockley Central readers, to see if there is any appetite!

Essentially, I was thinking of pulling together a Brockley (and greater Brockley) Calendar 2017.

What I would love is for people to suggest ideas and locations to include (no photos of locals with strategically placed cinnamon swirls at the Deli!) and even provide their own photos (copyright free) to use in the calendar.

Still need to determine if it would be cost effective (online cost per unit is cheaper the more you buy - but I don't want to end up with 50 sat in the loft!).  However, thought it would be good to see if this would be of interest to anyone and to gather ideas / photos / price suggestions etc.

- Please let David know your thoughts below.

Silent Hill

This is day late, but worth the wait. This paranormal activity on Telegraph Hill is part of a Halloween arms race, which has seen Brockley homes stage more and more elaborate festive frights.

With thanks to Lindsay for the video.

Madras South Indian restaurant, 244 Lewisham High Street

BCer Shirley wants to fill a gap in our local restaurant knowledge. She writes:

This restaurant never seems to appear in BC lists of good places to eat, so I thought I'd give it a well deserved shout-out after discovering it by word of mouth recommendation today.

They do fantastic authentic home-cooked dosas, a myriad of interesting vegetarian side-dishes - the spinach and lentil Dahl was outstanding - nothing oily - all freshly cooked.

The name and decor do the place no favours, but this will now be my go-to place for a good value tasty meal in Lewisham, substantially ahead of some of the BC favourites.

For more details, click here.

Lewisham offers rate discounts for London Living Wage employers

Lewisham Council writes:

"We are offering a one-off discount to businesses of up to £5,000 on their business rates, if they become accredited London Living Wage employers in 2016–17.

"The level of discount you can get will depend on what type of organisation you are and the number of employees you have.

"For details click here."

One in four people working in this borough are paid less than the London Living Wage, so the issue of low pay is a sizable one.

The vast majority of Lewisham businesses and charities employ fewer than ten people and thus qualify for a £250 saving.

To claim the money, employers also have to go through a fair amount of administrative faff, including getting accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation, which costs £50. Private and public sector time alike will thus be eaten up in administration for a sum which may not be enough to nudge many employers in the right direction.

To boost the long-term earning potential of Lewisham residents, the Council might be better to protect its budgets for libraries, education and training, rather than spend limited resources on this sort of well-intentioned footling.


When Priscilla the (magic) Goose moves in it’s the start of a roller coaster ride of ups, downs, skulduggery (and lessons learned) for Mother Goose, her sons Jack and Billy and their friend Jill as they journey to Gooseland and the glittering court of Queen Gorbanza for the final showdown … and a fairytale ending.

Book here now.

Shower AFRIL with votes

 I'm a volunteer with Action For Refugees in Lewisham - a small charity working to relieve poverty and isolation among refugees and asylum seekers.

We help an average of 120 people in our local community each week - with education, family support services, and access to emergency supplies.

We have made an application for support from Aviva's Community Fund. With enough votes, we'll get £1,000 towards costs for our advice service, which will help keep it running so we can support more people.

The project is described here - please can BCers cast a vote for us.