Thursday, January 6, 2011

Secret Streets of Deptford

A month or so ago, Jaime Taylor of Century/Halcyon Heart Films wrote to us about a BBC documentary series that she was working on about the last 120 years of history focusing on 6 London streets.  One episode of this series will be looking at our very own Deptford High Street - the only High Street in the series.  The idea  (see here for their introduction) is to pick up on London's social history from the point where Charles Booth  left off with his poverty map.  

This is where you, readers,  come in.  Jaime is eager to hear of any bits of history you have about the high street, be it old family stories, historical records, memories, whatever...  Below, we've copied her letter, but before reading that think about this: if you have a tale to tell and you send it directly to Jaime there's a risk that it won't get to be used and that little bit of local history will disappear again from view.  However, wouldn't it be better if you post up your stories here (or send them to and we'll post them up)?  That way, local readers will get to see it and so will Jaime. 

So this blog (and the Deptford Dame's very shortly) welcomes reading any tales you may have  to tell, ideally via our email address , failing that as simple comments (it's harder to get further information without contact details) or directly to Jaime.

Here's what Jaime Taylor has written to us...


Century and Halcyon Heart Films are an independent production company who are currently making a major new documentary series for BBC2 which will chart the history of six London streets.

One of the programmes will focus on the history of Deptford High Street. We are currently collaborating with several businesses on the street to build up a picture of the past 120 years. Having been a shopping street for almost two centuries we're sure every shop and building will have a fascinating story, so we're keen to speak to people who have lived or worked in the area about their memories.

The questions we want to ask are quite straightforward: How long have / did you live in Deptford? Do you know anything about the history of the high street? What are your memories of the pubs and shops there? And if you lived close to the street, or knew the residential streets nearby, do you remember them before they were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s? Even if you no longer live in Deptford, if you used to know it well we'd really like to hear from you.

At this stage, it’s purely for our research and there’s no obligation to appear on television. However, in the coming months we would like to interview people for the documentary. We think it’s going to be a fascinating project – and even if you don’t think you’re going to be interested in appearing on television, it would be great to have a chat with you.

If you can contact us at your earliest convenience, we’ll be sure to get back to you. It goes without saying that everything we talk about will be treated in the strictest confidence, and will not be passed on to anyone outside our team.

We so hope that you’ll consider taking part in what is going to be a very exciting project. You can email me at
historystreet [at] or give us a call on 020 7378 6106. We'd love to have a chat and answer any questions you might have. For more information you can also see our website …

Best Regards,

Jaime Taylor
Century Films/ Halcyons Heart Films


  1. Here's a wee bit of local trivia to kick things off. I used to be a bit of a fretboard fiddler and back in the 80s found myself doing a gig in the Brown Bear pub. (No longer a pub but not yet a betting office.) It was never a salubrious place at the best of times and at the time it claimed to be the place where Christopher Marlowe got himself ready for burial, and, knowing the pub, this kind of seemed believable at the time.

    Anyhow, while the band was playing a fight broke out over by the pool table. While the band played on - some musical clichés are true - the ''home crowd'' started throwing pool cues like spears at the (allegedly) French brothers who (allegedly) had in some way established themselves at the Deptford Arms (Now a betting office.) The (allegedly) French brothers then decided to retaliate by launching a temporary bus stop (buses could still navigate the high street)into the pub. It landed on the bar, and with the weight of its concrete base, it skidded along the whole length of the bar, sweeping every beer off it and taking out a few beer pumps at the same time. Our whole audience moved to get out of the explosion of broken bits of concrete and glass but the only place to go was the stage. We ended up pinned against the back wall by hordes of frightened punters fleeing the chaos.

    And we never dropped a beat. Not because we were brave and super-equipped with panic-managing presence of mind, more of a question of not being able to think of anything better to do. So if ever you're in a situation where ''And the band played on'' applies, you can attribute it to a complete and utter lack of imagination.

  2. the person who must be spoken to is Josie from the cafe at 187. her family have been there for more than 75 years i think.

  3. if St.Paul's is to be included they should also seek out "Mother" Theresa, for stories from the Father Diamond days.

  4. for an account of today it would be great to hear the background of the Laloi Vietnamese grocers, how and when they came to be in Deptford, (Granny recently retired, and the next generation are about to re-open the Bear.

  5. last weekend i was told about the days when you could walk on the shoulders of the crowds down Deptford High Street because it was jam-packed with people on a saturday night, these days it has more of a post apocalyptic feel.

  6. Great leads, shipwright's. No harm in copy and pasting the text from Century Films if you've the room on your blog. And if you'd prefer the leads to appear on local blogs first....

  7. if you can bear to look.....strange things occurred just off the High Street...well it was the ninetees

    you could have bumped into Kylie, Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, Rankin, Terry Richardson, Joseph Fiennes, P-J Harvey, Jamie Bell and a host of others sucking up a little bit of the Deptford spirit.

  8. I've only had time to look at the first youtube link but I don't recognise anything. For a moment I thought it was downstairs at the gallery (Now a betting shop), but as you said ''just off the high street'' so it can't be that. So gizzaclu!

  9. So that's who Peter André is (2nd link) - I did wonder. So I've got the downstairs bed thing with the stairs alongside on the left, and the split-level thing, but I've no idea where it is.

  10. little two storey building at the back of the fine pair of Arts and Crafts houses, where Towards A Contradictory Image used to be.

  11. @shipwright's palace those are the worst directions I've ever heard!

    Is it the building on Hales St?

  12. I think it's a new kind of historical mapping, DD: you can only find it if you know what used to be there :-)

    (Not that I have the slightest idea either...)

  13. shipwright's palaceSaturday, January 08, 2011

    tsk..are thee not intrepid? rear of 170-172 Deptford High Street

  14. Thez no need to start theeing and thouing uz!

    Is this the one?,-0.021345&sspn=0.008072,0.014548&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=170+Deptford+High+St,+Lewisham,+Greater+London+SE8+3,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.480047,-0.025771&spn=0.008072,0.014548&t=h&z=16&layer=c&cbll=51.480037,-0.025921&panoid=XTWQtN_X8wnDQDbPHT7mWQ&cbp=12,40.98,,0,5