Saturday, July 17, 2010

Deptford - Bilbao - via Heathrow

Last week I was lucky enough to take my annual week's holiday, this time to northern Spain. We flew Vueling from Heathrow. Imagine my surprise when I settled into my seat and had a look at Vueling's rather nicely designed inflight magazine...JULY 9...only the second article at the front...


texto Marcus Hirst  fotos Richard Learoyd

Cuando la constructora Cathedral Group se hizo con un patio ferroviario abandonado en el barrio londinense de Deptford, lo normal hubiera sido dejarlo cerrado durante la tramitacion de los permisos para edificar...

OK, that's enuf Spanish...fortunately the magazine provided a translation...(and two pages of pictures of the train carriage on Deptford High Street) as follows:

When property developer Cathedral Group acquired an abandoned train yard in Deptford, the standard procedure in this case would have been to boarder (sic) it up until you receive planning permission to build. This being a long and arduous process, the team in charge of the residential project, designed by Richard Rodgers, thought it would be much more productive to use the space during that time. A cultural hub was created on the land and renamed The Deptford Project. The first step has been to reconvert (sic) an old train carriage into a cafe. The remaining space is being used to hold open air cinema screenings, creative markets and artistic installations.

For years, Deptford has suffered from under-investment and marginalisation but this could be about to change. An array of projects, like this one, are in the works to give the neighbourhood a face lift.  "Deptford is an interesting place. It's one train stop away from the financial heart of London but it often feels like it's on another planet. There are no big chain stores here. Prices are reasonable. We have two artistic universities in the area, small galleries and a vibrant music scene."

Will Deptford join the long list of London areas that have been gentrified? Evans* doesn't see it that way. "I don't like that word because it has negative connotations and is not what we are trying to do. This area needs investment and the Council is playing a part in that. It's about accelerating the process of making this a better place to live. When the building is finished there will be a public square and a cafe left for the residents of Deptford to enjoy."

*explica Martyn Evans, responsable de comunicacion de Deptford Project (not included in the translation).

Well, I didn't know Rogers had designed the flats that will go up next to the station that was supposed to have started work this month. And I've never heard of there being any cinema screenings in the station yard...but the rest is more or less true. A grand PR job, n'est ce pas?

Vueling flies to 20 Spanish locations plus Marrakesh, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, seven Italian locations, Malta, Athens, six locations in Eastern Europe, two Russian, plus Istanbul, Tel Aviv and Aman. That's one helluva tourist trail...

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