Saturday, June 30, 2012

Race For Life : Blackheath : Sunday 1st July

Leanne from Castell House is just one of the many hundreds of women who'll be running, jogging or walking on Blackheath Common on Sunday in the national campaign run by Cancer Research UK to raise money for the charity.

There are two runs – one is 5km (just over 3 miles) starting at 10.30am, the other is 10k starting at 2pm. Leanne and her mum will be doing the morning run.

Thanks to for picture

Friday, June 29, 2012

Free festival at the Royal Docks

London Pleasure Gardens is sited in Royal Victoria Dock, a short DLR trip from Deptford Bridge to Pontoon Dock (change at West Ferry), so worth a mention here. It opens tomorrow and Sunday with Paradise Gardens Festival – a 'family friendly' free festival which includes music, street theatre, circus, cabaret, lots of kids stuff, sideshows, art installations, street art, vintage funfair, craft market and fireworks. A pyrotechnic display by The World Famous will begin at 10.10pm on Saturday and the site is open from 1pm-11pm on Saturday and 1pm-10pm on Sunday.

London Pleasure Gardens has programmed events for the entire summer, many of them with free entry. Check the website for more info.

Note that although the festival is free, you can't take in your own food and drink (so not so 'free' then!). Also, check for train times since it appears that every alternate train is re-routed due to engineering works this weekend.

A visual of the London Pleasure Gardens site taken from their website.

Another way to get there would be via cable car from North Greenwich with a 15 minute walk at the other end – as Deptford Misc points out, the cable car stations are not very conveniently situated – but it could make for an interesting day out, especially if you cycle.

If you're looking for excitement, it sounds as if the cable car trip has the potential to rival any ride at Thorpe Park, since if it's windy, the cars stop and you may find yourself suspended for some time over the Thames – see 853blog's latest post.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Secret History of Our Streets and Nicholas Taylor

Martin Taylor wrote to local bloggers today to ask them to publicise the website he has set up to redress the misleading impression given of his father, Nick Taylor – and Deptford itself – in the documentary Secret History of Our Streets, broadcast on June 6th – or, how, as Martin puts it, "my dad was unfairly stitched up like a kipper by the Beeb".

With the help of his friends, he has also published a booklet and intends to deliver it around Deptford, door to door, in a concerted effort to clear his father's name. Martin says they have tried to get an apology out of the BBC, but "have given up as we were advised it would take a minimum of 12 months and we can't wait that long".

Both the website and leaflet aim to correct the false impressions the programme gave about Deptford's history – and how it is today – as well as set the record straight regarding Nick Taylor's 'involvement' in the demolition of much of Deptford's housing. Backed up with facts and figures about Deptford then and now, it makes for fascinating reading.

Regarding his father, Martin says, "Via the selective use of out-of-context quotes taken from several long conversations, the programme appears to have succeeded in given viewers a completely false impression...He stopped the bulldozers rather than starting them up...

"The programme showed a sequence of film shot in Deptford High Street when Mr Taylor, who had just come out of hospital having had a stroke and a triple heart bypass, was being questioned very aggressively about the demolitions in Reginald Road, even though the programme makers knew full well that what had happened to Reginald Road had nothing to do with him."

Martin concludes, "Nicholas Taylor's career as a councillor was dedicated to trying to preserve terraced houses and prevent the building of high rise estates...We think he deserves to receive an apology."

Go to to read the real story – and, if you were as disappointed by the programme as we were, you can help to "restore the good name of Deptford and its community" by leaving your comments.

APT + Cockpit Arts + Core : Openings

Friday 22 June  5pm to 8pm
Licensed Bar | Curry from Tandoori Express Deptford
Piano - Joe Gatley

Saturday 23 June  12noon to 5pm
Licensed Bar | Refreshments
Music by L'arc de Mars Trio
+ artists talks
6 Creekside SE8 4SA

Summer Open Studios 2012
Deptford: 22-24 June
Fri 6pm-9pm, Sat – Sun 11am-6pm
Free Entry – Donations Welcome
18-22 Creekside SE8 3DZ

Friday 22 June 6pm to 10pm
Live Music & DJ, drinks & performances
The Animal Cave, 3 Creekside SE8 4SA

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival

Although G+DIF comes around every year at around this time it has taken us by surprise this year since we've heard nothing about it. Just in case you haven't either, we've perused the website to find out what's going on.

This Friday night and over the weekend, it's happening in Greenwich (rather than Woolwich or Docklands), starting with an outdoor visual spectacular:

Friday 22 June
Prometheus Awakes
National Maritime Museum
FREE, 10pm (runs for 40 mins)

The blurb on the website says "You will feel the earth move and the sky explode in this epic re-interpretation of the famous Greek myth. Created by Graeae, the boldly inventive disabled-led theatre company and Catalan masters of visual magnificence La Fura dels Baus, Prometheus Awakes is proudly presented in the year of the London 2012 Paralympic Games."

Both companies, especially La Fura dels Baus, put on terrific outdoor shows, so although that description sounds naff, and the weather looks decidedly unpromising, and there may be crowds despite the rain, this could be an unusual treat (the visual above must be seen to be believed).

Doubtless the festival must compete with the enormous excitement generated by EURO 2012, but it may prove an antidote for some, and certainly complements the football, since the 'international' flavour of the festival is distinctly European!

Over the weekend it's the Greenwich Fair, with around 17 walkabout and street theatre acts from the UK and Europe.

"A two day outpouring of street arts taking over Greenwich Town Centre. The original 19th century Greenwich Fair was an uproarious feast of sideshows, dancing booths, travelling menageries and gruesome melodramas. Much loved by Dickens, it was eventually banned because it was too unruly, but last year GDIF boldly revived it as a showcase for the best of British and international outdoor arts. So roll up and view a show in a giant pig, glimpse a flying grand piano, get lost in a Catalan labyrinth or have your tea leaves read!"

Check this page for details of all the acts taking part:

As well as Greenwich Fair, there will also be other free events in Greenwich, some going on till 30 June, under the title Word on the Street. "This year GDIF is hosting some of most original, exciting and cutting edge artists working in UK theatre. Word on the Street will inject outdoor theatre with new writing on trains, explorations of Greenwich’s past, biting political song theatre, a poetic tale of urban living, a tea party and even a bouncy castle."

There are eleven different events in Word on the Street to discover.

For other events in other parts check the festival website. On Saturday the spectacle is in Roman Road E3. The festival finale, another outdoor spectacular, is on 30 June in Woolwich – as per usual. (Only a bus ride away but we never seem to make it).

New Deptford cafe opens in Resolution Way

New cafe Kitsch in Sync opens to the public tomorrow and Holly (pictured behind the counter) will be serving coffee, speciality teas, homemade cakes, scones and ice cream, plus sandwiches made with artisan breads, salads and homemade quiche.

The cafe adjoins new gallery Occupy My Time, and both are situated opposite Arch Materials in Resolution Way, in the studio spaces under the new flats behind the new Tidemill School.

The strip of studio spaces here are now (mostly) all occupied as independent 'project spaces' and galleries and were launched last Friday by the umbrella organisation Enclave, headed up by Anthony Gross who also runs The Old Police Station.  

Occupy My Time Gallery, run by Sue Cohen, and the new cafe are just two of the several spaces, all of which will be open tomorrow and over the weekend. We missed the opening last week, so cannot comment on the other spaces, but the current exhibition at Occupy My Time is well worth a look.

The cafe is a little out of the way, being off the high street, but can be accessed from Giffin Street via Tidemill Way, between Wavelengths and the school (as well as from either end of Resolution Way). We look forward to the Deptford Dame's review of Holly's coffee and homemade cakes!

According to the Enclave website, their project space "is a flexible infrastructure with display space, utility area, Enclave’s and temporarycontemporary’s (aka The Old Police Station) new art offices, a future residency module ('unit') and pop-up charity fundraising bar. Due to be completed in August 2012, this space is the command-centre for Enclave operations. The Gallery and Project Space are connected and can be used together or separately for simultaneous projects".

'Enclave tenants' will each present a project in the main gallery every year in addition to the programme in their own spaces. The Enclave gallery will present a programme of exhibitions, events, projects, symposia, and film clubs – including an International Film Club programmed by Phoenix Fry from Deptford Film Club.

Perhaps the first film to be shown here should be Hide & Seek, the Children's Film Foundation production shot on location in Deptford in 1972, which shows Deptford as it was then (partly demolished as a result of the 'clearances'), just to establish the scene a little bit better than Secret Histories of our Streets recently did. It's a great film and could fill the Enclave space all weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Newbould Guardians? No, thanks.

Over the bank holiday period two weeks ago, Lewisham Environment team received a record number of calls due to the explosion of Sound Systems cranking up the volume to unbearable levels in the north of the borough. On Bank Holiday Monday they were called about the noise on Upper Brockley Road on Lewisham Way and at Ffinch Street off Deptford High Street, and at the old Tidemill School, Frankham Street, where the legendary Saxon Studio International were playing for a ceaseless nine hours for the second time in three days.

What distinguishes the Tidemill event, and makes it distinctive from any other Sound System that night, was that it was totally condoned and facilitated by Lewisham Council itself.

The organisers of a so-called "Three-Day Community Event" at the old Tidemill School are Newbould Guardians. Over the bank holiday weekend they tortured their local community with 18 hours of extremely loud sound system noise.

Badly photocopied grey leaflets were distributed to most of Crossfields on Thursday morning – just two days notice of the event, which promised three days of 'alternative' celebration, featuring Saxon Sound International at the top of the bill. There was not much time to plan an escape.

Meanwhile, the organisers had already been publicising the event far and wide via the internet. The Facebook page proclaimed:


A lot of Crossfields residents like reggae and some are old enough to have skanked along to Saxon Studio International in their hey-day 30 years ago when they fostered Smiley Culture and Tippa Irie, but there's a place for the loudest sound system this side of Brixton, Notting Hill and Bristol, and it's not in the middle of a residential area. Thirty years ago, hard-to-let Frankham House was mostly occupied by students who may have enjoyed the school playground next door being taken over by a reggae Sound System, but that was then, and this is now. Families and the elderly live here now.

The Facebook post stating "this is a community event" was actually not a claim made by the printed publicity. At no point had the community been consulted about what they would like, nor given good notice it would be happening, so obviously this was not a community event. This was an event inflicted on the community.

Newbould Guardians put on less noisy bands and acts (from "far and wide") in the rain-proof school hall, and meanwhile gave the 'community' an inescapable two 9 hour days of Jamaican Sound System, as if Tidemill playground was Mountsfield Park. It would have been three days if it hadn't rained on Sunday.

Newbould Events' Jubilee Street Party: Sat – Mon 2-4 June 2012

Newbould's Street Party as advertised by Transpontine online.
Residents received a pale poorly photocopied black and white imitation of this effort.

On the Saturday at Frankham House, the noise became uncomfortable just after midday. Saxon were set up outdoors in the old school playground with their speaker stacks facing Reginald Road, Frankham House and the high street, whilst indie bands, circus acts, comedy and performance artists were confined to the school hall – where, incidentally, the Fire Doors were kept open continuously in contempt of Health & Safety.

Although the event was "free", once past the strict door policy (which lapsed later on), attendees could buy food and drink, with alcohol priced at around £3. Bringing in your own food and drink was totally discouraged. Frugal students and street drinkers alike – carrying cans and bottles bought in the high street – were sometimes refused entry, depending on who was on the door. Often there was no one on the door. Unless it was a condition of the license, it seemed the aim was to make as much money as possible on refreshments sold on the premises, but the prices were prohibitive for most.

At around 5pm, Saxon cranked up the sound so that everyone in Castell House across the road couldn't hear each other talk or their TVs over the usual noise from the traffic – even with their windows closed. At Frankham House, the vibrations from the loud bass were rattling windows, interior doors and furniture, and setting off car alarms.

In the playground, at around 8pm, there weren't that many in attendance, most seemed to be friends of Saxon. Some young white guys played football in the netball court next to the playground (annoyingly rattling the wire fence adjacent to Frankham House), whilst other studenty types hung out smoking in the back garden. Most of the attendees in the school hall seemed to be fans of the acts.

Some local sound system fans and street drinkers who'd been turned away earlier, were happily standing outside the fence in the car park on the west side where they could drink more cheaply. A couple of guys had got a barbecue of their own going at the car park's entrance.

Locals were thin on the ground – they were not here. And with nowhere to sit down, indoors or out, it was a pretty shit party for anyone over 30. Frankham and Castell House were extremely grateful the loudness stopped round about 9pm.

It rained all day on Sunday, and Saxon didn't play, much to the relief of the local residents, but the party must've been in full swing in the school hall, since the Environment Team were still being called about noise from Tidemill at 2am in the morning.

On Monday, it all started again. For another nine hours, residents were subjected to yet more bass vibrations from sound system royalty, Saxon, playing at a volume more suited to a park venue.

At around 5pm, with the sun coming out, there were about 40 people in the school yard, and another 40 in the school hall. By 6pm, kids were playing in the netball court and the outer gates were open with no security, but a sign was going up to remind people they could not bring their own booze and food into the playground.

By 8pm, with the sun still out, numbers had slightly swelled in the forecourt with the gates wide open for once, creating a party vibe, though the playground itself was still empty with everyone hanging about its edges, whilst the school hall audience was much diminished despite the uplifting music of a three piece playing traditional Irish jigs. Outside, Saxon were as loud as ever, so Frankham Housers could not open their doors to greet the evening sun (or the birdsong, which was equally stifled).  A young couple who'd been refused entry because the young man had a can in his hand, went mooching round the lawn area of Frankham looking for somewhere quiet to sit (no chance of that). Even Bird's Nest regulars across the road thought it was too loud.

The Environment Team reported a record number of calls. They promised to confiscate Saxon's equipment if they didn't stop at 9pm – but they would've needed a truck to cart away the gear. Saxon stopped at around 9.15.

Post mortem

For a 'Community Event' there had been a remarkable lack of understanding of – or consultation with – the local community. Local residents only had two days' notice of the event. The outdoor programme lacked any imagination – where was the African, Asian, Vietnamese, Latin or Irish music? Some R&B, a bit of Tango, a little Jazz?

Some of those dropping by (and leaving soon after because it was too loud in the playground) didn't even notice the sign pointing the way to the School Hall where the more varied music was – after all, the event was described as a "Street Party" so no one expected an indoor venue.

Why was the loudest sound system in South London given exclusive use of the outside venue? Why not have a Latin band and some tango dancing in the playground? Why not have all the bands playing outside under the canopy, come rain or shine?

If it was a "Street Party for the Community", why was it necessary to describe "Deptford" to outsiders on the Facebook page? How come the participating bands were telling their mates on Facebook "not to worry about the rain, it's an indoor party?"

Where was the "Street Party"? Why stop 'the community' bringing their own food and drink to their own "Street Party"?

There was something deeply patronising about this event that saw all the whiteys sheltered from the rain indoors with a variety of music (though they could escape to the garden to smoke), and a singular taste in Black music catered for outside in a cliched back 'yard'.
The empty playground

Newbould seemed to assume there would be a ready-made audience for the full-on Sound System outdoors. There was not.

Trying to recreate something the Jamaican community is quite capable of creating on its own (as was going on at the usual beacons, Upper Brockley Road and Ffinch St on the Monday), Newbould Guardians managed to garner no more than about 50 people to the playground, despite a sound level equivalent to People's Day, where a properly organised festival has people coming in their hundreds, if not thousands.

The empty playground

Who are Newbould Guardians?

The company's website says it places professional people in empty buildings that are vulnerable to squatting, arson, vandalism, fly tipping and theft, and claims to offer rates up to 95% cheaper than paid security guards (in other words, it does charge for its services). The council has claimed there are "no ongoing costs" but has refused to reveal any other financial details (see The Mercury's report from March 2012).

Newbould charge the few young professionals living there 'a reasonable rent', and we're told space is also rented out to 'community projects'. Newbould's website tells prospective property owning clients:
Live-in guardians temporarily occupy your property, meaning that your insurance premiums will be considerably lower than if your building is left vacant. Newbould Guardians protect your property against squatting and other illegal activities, however unlike conventional security our guardians also maintain your utilities infrastructure by keeping them in use and can alert you immediately of any problems with the building. Having your property occupied prevents it from becoming dilapidated and depreciating in value and maintains a sense of neighbourhood community.
Back in April, some squatters took up residence in the old school keeper's house at the east of the property. It was not Newbould who alerted the council, but a Frankham House resident. So much for security.

Eight Romanians were spotted coming out of the old schoolkeeper's house only last week (a Frankham House resident stopped to chat with one of them) – they have cleverly cut the metal railings at the front of the property so that they appear intact.

Perhaps the council do not care what happens to this little building? Squatting by East Europeans is on the Safer Neighbourhood Team's agenda, mostly behind Reginald Road, where they say local landlords do nothing to help the problem, which renders the SNT powerless. The Frankham House resident warned the guys that new laws may result in prison, and we're not proud of outing them here, but someone else would have, and the point is that Newbould aren't doing the job they're engaged to do.

We also gather the main building is not being maintained properly (it has the same leaking ceilings it had when the school occupied it). And, with the gates shut most of the time, there is no sense of 'neighbourhood community' being maintained.  

Back in March, the 'Guardians' put on an evening event that was so exclusive only a handful of local people got an invitation. The 'artists' living in the building showed off their art and performance work, and told visitors that they were not allowed to use the playground, ballcourt or the garden (even though all three of these outdoor venues were used and abused on the bank holiday weekend). This exclusive event in March was supposed to end at 8.30, but the private party went on past 11pm, causing the Environment Team to be called.

When asked by the few local visitors if Newbould had any plans to involve the community, the 'artists' promised more open community events and a programme of activities to cater for the community in the future – but, some three months later, this shambles of a three-day weekend is the first.

The banner on their otherwise unpenetrable front gates says "Community Arts in the Unused" but they are not listed on the Lewisham Council website as a place that might be used by the community – mind you, neither is the Deptford Lounge. Of course, any 'community rents' Newbould might pull in will be going to Newbould Guardians (a private company, part of CIS Security, who are contracted by the council), unlike other buildings occupied by artist groups elsewhere in Deptford, where rent is paid to the council and not by it, buildings are looked after, and disturbances are rarely caused.

At a time when other (much quieter) artists groups are threatened with the loss of their space (Creekside Artists and others in Faircharm, those in all the buildings that are part of The Deptford Project, and Utrophia) the arrangement Lewisham Properties has made with Newbould Guardians beggars belief.

The conditions of their contract are presumably (but maybe not) as stated on their website ("under no circumstances are parties or big group gatherings allowed"). (

Meanwhile, on another page of their website they are advertising "an innovative new scheme" to deliver "effective, innovative and creative events...with our commitment to involve the local community" which until recently showed pictures of the event they held in March to which none of the community was invited ( We found another webpage displaying pics from the bank holiday weekend showing what happened in the school hall: (no photos of an empty playground).

In the four months they've been here, they've neither made contact with the local community nor proved they can put on an event that doesn't totally alienate the entire neighbourhood.

The Council's Response to complaints

Frankham Housers have written a letter of complaint, via Cllr Paul Maslin, signed by residents in 17 of the flats. As well as reporting their distress at how their bank holiday weekend was ruined, they also asked:
  • which are the specific terms of the leasehold (or other relevant contractual arrangement between the two parties) which will in future allow the council to ensure that this third party supplier provides a service to local people which is fit for purpose; and,
  • how will the council ensure that these terms are more diligently adhered to and policed in future?
A reply has come from Steve Gough, Director of Programme Management & Property, who says he has liaised with 'the Contractor, Property Services and our licensing team' to collate his response. The tone of his letter is fairly unrepentant on behalf of his 'contractors' and somewhat arrogant:
"the council...are pleased the guardians have been able to use the building for the community to benefit from". 
They have done nothing so far to benefit the community, Steve.
"Newbould Guardians attained a temporary events license for 4 days between Friday 1 July and Monday 4 July, to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee."
Er, you mean Friday 1st June and Monday 4th June, surely?
"This allowed them to hold events from 12noon until 11pm. Out of consideration to the local residents the guardians ran events for 3 days and shut down at 9pm, two hours earlier than the 11pm license allowed."
If decibel levels were found to be acceptable within the required levels of the license (see below), they could have continued to be open to the public till 11pm. So it was not "out of consideration to local residents" that they closed at 9pm, simply that they chose to stop policing their event so that they could enjoy it themselves. They then managed to party privately with their friends till 2am, as reported by the Environment Team.
"(The guardians) arranged a free community event, completely open to the general public. Over the course of three days they had approximately 1500 people from the local area through the gates enjoying music from Saxon Sound International, Prankster, and many more local artists and performers."
FYI, Steve, PrankSTA are not a band, they are costumiers. Saxon Sound International are a Sound System, Steve, and are therefore extremely LOUD, that's what Sound Systems are. The performers who played in the school hall weren't all - if any - from Deptford, most of the audience was not from the immediate community, and there were never more than 50 people in either the school yard or the school hall most of the time (except, perhaps after 9pm when the exclusive few were allowed in to party till 2am?). But anyway, at least Pranksta are actually local.
"Prior to the event Newbould Guardians applied for a Temporary Events License which was posted on lamp posts for all members of the local community to see."
Only if you're looking for it, Steve. Frankham residents walk up Frankham Street every day and they didn't see 'em. First they knew was two days before when a leaflet came through the door.
"As part of this license they were asked to perform a decibel sound check which was undertaken on the afternoon of Tuesday 29 May. This sound check fell within the levels required of the license."
So, Steve, did Saxon come down with a lorry load of speakers and set them up in the yard on Tuesday to be tested for decibel levels? We think not (we'd have heard it!!!).
"They posted flyers a week prior to the celebration; containing details about the event and included an invite for local residents to come and enjoy the event."
No, Steve, they posted on Facebook and other social networks advertising to their mates in other parts of London, and only told local residents two days before.
"The guardians have expressed they have been extremely disappointed to learn that some of the local community felt that there was a lack of consultation between Newbould Guardians and Frankham Street residents."
FYI, Steve, numerous phone calls and requests for the music to be turned were made at the time to the manager of this event and were ignored. Not only that, but the council's Environment Team will have records of the number of times they were called out and run ragged that weekend.

Steve ends his reply with: 
"As a result of your constituent's letter, the guardians have expressed their desire to find better ways to communicate and involve more of the community in their projects. They have agreed to hand deliver letters to residents not only inviting them to events and asking for input...but also making explicit any noise any future events may bring."
No apology then (not that it would be accepted). Mr Gough has chosen to believe the word of 'the Contractor' over that of the residents, and Newbould are let off without even a slapped wrist.

Residents asked for an iron-clad guarantee that this sort of noise level will never, ever be repeated again, but Newbould are being totally supported by Property Services, and more or less being given free reign to police their own events with no promise of external monitoring that might protect local residents from further disturbance. Like it or lump it, then.

Perhaps Mr Gough would like Saxon Sound International to come and play in his own backyard all weekend and see how he likes it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RIP Brian Hibbard

Whilst the Welsh mourn for one of their own, Brian Hibbard (who was born in Ebbw Vale and died in University Hospital Cardiff yesterday of prostate cancer), there are quite a few in Deptford who will be shedding a tear at the news of his passing – since Brian's earlier career with The Flying Pickets is a part of Deptford's history.

Brian used to live in Evelyn Street in a house known to friends as The Yellow Duck, which he shared with other actors and performers who were involved with The Albany, as it made its transition from its old building on Creek Road to where it is now on Douglas Way. Quite how Brian made his way to Deptford is a story probably best told by those who knew him better – that includes some ladies of a certain age still living in Crossfields, and the bloke who designed the poster above and below, plus all the original members of The Combination Theatre group who founded the new Albany, some of whom still live in Deptford, plus students of Rose Bruford College which was based in the now demolished old school on Creek Road, betwixt Creekside and Church Street.

Connections were formed through Liverpool playwright John McGrath's legendary 7:84 Theatre company, a Scottish left-wing agitprop theatre group (don't hear that phrase agitprop these days) – whose title displayed the ratio of wealth in the UK in the 70s. It may well be less than 7% of the population who now own more than 84% of the nation's wealth in 2012. David Tennant, Douglas Henshall and Bill Patterson are among 7:84's alumni...

Brian is credited with forming the Flying Pickets in 1982 when working with 7:84 on John Burrow's One Big Blow – a musical play about coal miners, brass bands and the tough conditions they worked under – in which the players sing the brass parts acapella – and which was written 15 years before "Brassed Off". Rick Lloyd, who wrote the music for One Big Blow (1982), was among those who joined Hibbard. They took their name from the miners' strikes of '72 and '74, when the phrase 'flying pickets' may have been first coined – flying pickets would travel to join a picket wherever a strike had been called, to support and swell the numbers.

Any younger readers who visited the recent Jeremy Deller show Joy In People at the Hayward Gallery may have found themselves moved by Deller's recreation of the Battle of Orgreave, a filmed re-enactment of the conflict between police and striking miners in 1984, when there was mass picketing. The Flying Pickets had by then topped the charts for five weeks with a UK Christmas number one (1983) with their debut single Only You. With Thatcher's decision to close 20 pits and a loss of 20,000 jobs, record company Virgin was reported as extremely unhappy that the group were making the most of their fame by picketing in Yorkshire and performing benefit gigs for the miners. The Albany itself had a benefit or two, notably with Test Department, as well as The Flying Pickets.

Brian and fellow band member Stripe (also a familiar Deptford face in the early 80s) left The Pickets in 1986 and both moved away from Deptford. Hibbard pursued an acting career that eventually saw him in Doctor Who, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and East Enders, with regular appearances on BBC Wales, notably in Welsh language soap Pobol y Cwm

Deptford remembers Brian and his contribution to our place and memories, and our sympathies go to his wife and children.

If anyone has some memories to share or better photos than the ones we've nabbed off the usual media, please get in touch.

UPDATE: Transpontine has transcribed a piece from Wales Online which tells the Picket's story in more depth.

More acapella and acting up at You Tube.
The Flying Pickets were actually at their best in their ironic interpretations of modern songs of the day. If they could've danced as well, who knows what they could've started....

Thanks to for poster images.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Betfred appeal dismissed!

Good news just in! The Government Inspectorate has dismissed Betfred's appeal against the previous Inspector's decision to decline permission for betting office use at the old Halifax premises.
Overall, I conclude that the balance of likelihood is that the use enabled by the removal of the condition in dispute would give rise to anti-social behaviour and disturbance to local residents and other users of Deptford District Centre; that the fear of crime would be enhanced by an additional betting office in close proximity to 5 others; and that there is a risk of an increase in actual crime. Such outcomes would broadly conflict with the intentions of criterion (d) of UDP policy STC4. There would also be material conflict with the social component of sustainable development, as set out in the NPPF. However, I have not identified conflict with any part of Policy 6 in the Lewisham local development framework Core Strategy (June 2011), also cited on the Council’s decision notice.
Sorry, this writer had to go back to work and miss the fanfares and celebrations...

UPDATE 15-06-2012: Details...and Peckham continues the struggle...

The Deptford Dame has since gone into some detail about the Inspector's decision, which may have ramifications for any betting company who has to go through planning, with an interesting speculation on Betfred's next move – the High Court? (If only!). Dept Misc has also published the Inspector's decision in his post Deptford 4 - Betfred 0.

Deptfordians have been fighting Betfred since January 1st 2011 when we first spotted the notice on the old Halifax building of Done Brothers applying for their Gambling License. We soon discovered the Licensing Committee were powerless to turn them down, and, as Dept Misc sums up, it's only through a quirk (or foresight) of planning that we have held them at bay.

However, in Peckham, campaigners have just on Thursday (ironically the day after Deptford's good news) suffered the same disappointment as we did in January 2011, as Betfred swanned through Southwark Licensing Committee to get their Gambling License. Campaigner Rowenna Davis wrote the disappointing news on Thursday evening to fellow petitioners who had attended the license hearing at Southwark council that morning:
Despite a brilliant set of presentations from representatives of Peckham church groups, police, residents and business leaders, I'm afraid we lost the case today. BetFred is set to open.

However, we did manage to win a stronger set of conditions - I believe extra staff and security measures - which I believe the council will publish shortly. I also think the fact we tried and failed tells a very important story about how local people don't have enough power. I think the licensing committee would have liked to have sided with us, but didn't feel they had the legal authority to do so. I plan to write about this and keep fighting the next application for a betting shop, which is at the Bun House.
In this case, Peckham folk do not seem to have ahead of them the opportunity of seeing Betfred "go through planning" – though neither did Deptford campaigners see any hope back in January 2011.  If anyone wants to contact Rowenna to help her in Peckham, please email us for her details.

Peacocks to be 99p shop

Tra la la! Chirpy chirpy cheap street!

Residents of Speedwell Street have been approached by the builders, warning of disturbance whilst they strip out the existing shop. It'll be huge. Massive savings.

Somehow Poundland and 99p Shop don't have the same ring as Woolworths. What's the difference? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pete Pope's Funeral

Pete Pope (John Peter Pope) 1949 - 2012

Pete Pope died on 11th May 2012. Since then his friends have rallied round to organise an appropriate send-off. The funeral will be conducted by humanist officiant Billy Jenkins, and the service will consist of well-chosen music and tributes. Further celebration of Pete's life will continue at The Dog and Bell. Rather than sending flowers, donations can be made to Bench Outreach (020 8692 2810), who supported Pete when he was ill.

The following Sunday there will be a second ceremony to scatter Pete's ashes from the Ha'Penny Hatch into the outgoing tide, starting with a procession from The Bird's Nest pub (participants are requested to bring percussion instruments), followed by more celebration back at the pub.
Funeral : Friday 15th June 2012, 10.45am
Please arrive by 10.30am
Hither Green Crematorium, Verdant Lane, London, SE6 1TP

There will also be a group cycle ride to the crematorium leaving Deptford Bridge DLR at 10am. (Cycling not compulsory).

From noon all are invited for food and refreshments
The Dog and Bell, 116 Prince Street, Deptford, SE8 3JD

Scattering of Pete’s ashes : Sunday 24th June, 4.30pm
Ha’penny Hatch, Creekside, Deptford, London SE8
Meet at 2.30pm at The Bird's Nest, moving on to Ha'Penny Hatch – bring percussion
Followed by music and refreshments
The Bird’s Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, Deptford, London SE8 4RZ
An obituary is being compiled, but in the meantime, for those who want to know why Pete was important to so many local people, Transpontine has posted here. Pete was part of the campaign to stop Lewisham council selling off Aragon Tower on Pepys Estate (later featured in the BBC doc The Tower, see the video below). Later he was commemorated in the 'Wall of Ancestors' installed at the base of the 'Z' building (aka Aragon Tower, see pic below).

As part of Deptford Community Forum and Convoys Opportunity, he protested against the plans for Convoys Wharf – a campaign which has now entered a new phase with the work of Deptford Is and others. Convoys Opportunity proposed a cruise liner terminal and drew attention to Deptford's maritime history with a press stunt in a Thames barge in 2005 (Pete is dressed as Lord Nelson).

Thanks to Transpontine for links, and Jeannie for river pic. Part One of The Tower below.

Watch The Tower [Part 1] in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Creekside Conservation Area

Although the news was out early last month soon after the Mayor's decision was made in Cabinet on 9th May, the proposal for the Creekside Conservation Area still had to go before the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Business Panel on 22nd May, where it was upheld.

Those who took part in the consultation were emailed on 8th June, and all residents and stakeholders will be receiving a formal letter informing them of the designation and its implications.

The implications for the businesses and employers at Faircharm, however, are already clear – they have a year to get out. Whilst Workspace's plans for Faircharm must now be modified, so that the frontage of their buildings on Creekside are retained (as opposed to being demolished to make way for new and taller buildings), their alternative plan was to modify them to create a central atrium in each, in order to create smaller units. This will obviously cause disruption to businesses and neighbours.

Their plans are unclear, but the building at the back had not been considered worthy of protection by the conservation team, so it may be that this will still be knocked down and the original plan to build luxury flats there – and in the car park – may still go ahead. Meanwhile, some Faircharm businesses may be moving within the year, as their contracts run out and cannot sensibly be renewed.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Not so secret history: Turning The Tide

It seems as though there was no one in Deptford who didn't watch The Secret History of Our Streets last night and wasn't moved by its content in one way or another.

Some were moved to tears, others were furious at the council and some were angry with the programme makers. A great many people who had been interviewed, even handed over family photos and talked at length about their love of the place, were naturally disappointed to have ended up on the cutting room floor. The rector of St Paul's was one such – there wasn't even a shot of his beautiful church. Old Archie – who obviously had a great life story to tell – stayed in the cut but Harry Hayward of DAGE got dropped, and where was Johnny's Hardware store and Fred's auntie and (fill in your own missing people)?

Others wondered why there was no mention of the positive things that are happening right now – why paint such a negative picture? (Answer: The clue is in the word "history"). Anyway, we hear John Price didn't really want to take part but was pleaded with when the programme makers 'uncovered' the evidence of the unneccessary 'slum clearance' which provided the hitherto missing glue for their narrative. Of course, a fairly prosperous family background of market trading promised useful cine footage as well (you had to be moderately well off to have a cine camera in those days).

By missing a lot out or skimming over broader issues (pre-war poverty, war damage, industrial decline, immigration etc), the programme delivered a powerful message about a singularly devasting episode in Deptford's history.

But much of the story which unfolded can already be found towards the end of Jess Steele's excellent book on Deptford, "Turning The Tide, The History of Everyday Deptford", first published in 1993 and essential reading for any Deptfordian. (ISBN 1-898536-00-7)

On page 195, Steele says "Perhaps most upsetting is the admission that by no means all of the streets cleared for the estates were slums...". Steele did not print a picture of the same report that was shown in the film nor lend it the same weight, but it was obviously not a secret in 1993, so could not have been that difficult to track down in 2012.

Of course the vintage and home cine film footage included in the Secret History film engaged our senses in a way a history book cannot. But going back to the book reveals a different picture and most strikingly shows how film can manipulate your senses beyond your reason. A particular casualty of truth in the film would appear to be Nicholas Taylor, the architect and councillor involved in the demolition of so many of Deptford's homes. Taylor is portrayed, through some clever editing, as a man with no heart, in league with the dystopian London planners, made to hang (as a commenter on the BBC's blog suggested) for the crimes of the past. Turning The Tide, on the other hand, reports a man who was extremely unhappy with the process. (See below).

The film also gives the impression Deptford was prosperous from Booth's day all the way to the full employment of the 50s then suddenly took a turn for the worse when idealistic planners wrecked the place. In truth, Deptford's fortunes have ebbed and flowed. Somewhere along the way in this tale-telling, the truth was lost.

People debated on the BBC blog, and on local blog Brockley Central, Shipwright's Palace pointed out further inaccuracies:  

"Wholesale clearance of individual dwellings for London County Council blocks began in Deptford as early as the 1890s around Watergate Street, Hughes Field, Deptford Green "For the Erection of Dwellings for the Working Classes". A second wave occurred in the 1930s such as Crossfields Estate and again immediately post-war in Tanner's Hill. The 1950's-70's clearance was a third wave.
The High Street (Butt Lane) was originally a residential street, largely developed during the eighteenth century, not Victorian as described."

However, the main point to be made here is that the programme makers presented us with "a secret" that came across to many viewers as a shocking 'big scoop'. But if we'd only read our history books, we'd know this stuff already. In the process, they have also tarnished the reputation of a man still living, Nicholas Taylor, whose heart may have been truer than the filmmakers'.

Nevertheless, if anyone has been woken up into realising how plans are made for us whilst we're asleep, then the film team must be congratulated for raising the profile of an issue that is central to Deptford at this time.

As Jess Steele points out "Lewisham does not even have a museum...If our history had not been treated with such indifference and ignorance we would have less need of full-scale regeneration...We have to turn this tide of neglect." p222

Turning The Tide
Steele admits at the beginning of her penultimate chapter that in trying to cover the history of Deptford from Roman times onwards, a topic as huge as the slum clearances and the building of council estates could only be roughly sketched and really demanded another book.

An historian born and bred locally, she was also an activist involved in ensuring the regeneration funds pouring into the area in the 90s went in the right direction. She found Nick Taylor to be a useful guide.
Nicholas Taylor, a young architectural journalist and Lewisham councillor in the early 1970s, had been writing polemical articles against tower blocks for a decade. Now he looks back at his fellow-councillors and remembers a kind of old Labour machismo which was excited by the scale of the buildings, by their 'phallic penetration of the skyline'....Taylor points out that "these little gardens and yards, full of washing and children and animals and all the stuff of daily life, were ruthlessly eliminated".  (p.193)
Taylor also defended the residents who had moved into Milton Court in 1971: "this estate is horrendous; there is a madness in the design". Old Deptford councillors "never understood why people weren't grateful for these estates. How dare they form a TA and start attacking the council when they'd hardly moved in?". (p.194)

Taylor had, however, been in favour of demolishing some of the old houses in the area Milton Court was built on, since they were so badly built – cracking apart and subsiding on poor foundations – and were in danger of falling down anyway. Not because they were 'slums'. Steele goes on:
Nevertheless "the replacement of companionably unhygienic slums by soulless tower blocks with broken lifts" (Macgregor 1987) has haunted the memories of Deptford people and planners. Perhaps most upsetting is the admission that by no means all of the streets cleared for the estates were slums...How many other houses were lost in Deptford through the ignorance and indifference of Lewisham planners? Cllr Taylor tells of taking other Lewisham councillors on a Saturday morning coach tour round Deptford, a part of their borough some of them had never ventured into...(p195)
Steele quotes a piece in the The Sunday Times (Peter Way): "Having destroyed a community, devastated trade, and broken up a good deal of workable low level housing the planners have just completed one of the alternatives: an awesome complex in which people are refusing to live..."

Steele also goes into the politics of how Deptford became part of Lewisham (rather than Greenwich), quoting the Deptford MP Sir Leslie Plummer, who said, "When Deptford was a civilised borough and community, the people of Lewisham were practically running around in woad...(whereas) we launched ships, and brought an empire to Elizabeth 1. We were not common scullions and cooks (like those in Lewisham who claimed King Alfred had burnt his cakes there); we were navigators who girdled the globe and brought riches and treasure to this country." p.197

Another chapter is devoted to the two World Wars where she describes how the area was affected through its proximity to the docks – from which one can gather that a process of rebuilding and rehousing had been going on for some time. She also details the economic ups and downs that occurred between Booth's time and the late 20th century which caused Deptford's fortunes to rise and fall accordingly – with focus on the charitable work and voluntary efforts that helped to shape the positive places and things we see today (The Albany for instance).

In her final chapter Steele tackles the subject of racism which also has a resonance that this film could not tackle, and which she describes as "an elastic and manipulable ideology, surviving by adaptation to specific circumstances. Its logic is filled with useful blindnesses and justifying amnesia". (p211)

Epilogue ('History dying and demolished all the time')

In her epilogue (written in 1993), Steele quotes another local activist of that time, Richard Walker:
The main "whether inherent design faults and the continuing ghettoisation of the inner city underclass can be addressed by capital investment, administered through Lewisham Housing Department, major architectural consultants and big construction firms. Are these not merely the 1990s version of the agents who built these estates in the first place?" (p228)
The problem of housing the underclass was handed over a few years later to Lewisham Homes aka Lewisham Council (Crossfields chose this option in consultation) and to various Housing Associations, but the present call to 'build new housing' has the same ring of the old triumvirate: a local authority (whose planning committee has no training in planning), and architects working with giant construction firms.

Clearly an update from Jess Steele, or her equivalent, would be welcome.
In some ways the neglect of Deptford has been a blessing. We have many beautiful buildings in the High St...Other buildings all over the borough have scraped past the redevelopers precisely because the area was deemed so worthless...(p225)

If anyone has other books or useful resources on this topic they can recommend please leave a comment.

UPDATE 12-06-2012
See Deptford Misc 

UPDATE 14-06-2012
Thanks to Deprford Misc for link to Martin Taylor speaking about his father in Guardian letters
Also, copies of Turning The Tide are available at Creekside Centre at normal retail price.

UPDATE 19-06-2012
Thanks to Deptford Misc for this link:

UPDATE 19-06-2012
South London Press carries a story from Nick Taylor himself in their Tuesday paper. Unfortunately it's not available to view online without subscription. Taylor says:

"I had nothing to do with these decisions. I was one of the first campaigners in England against the 1960s policy of bulldozing houses and replacing them with tower blocks....the first thing I did when I was elected to the council in May 1971 was to stop the demolition of the houses in Gosterwood Street, Etta Street, and the remaining half of Rolf Street. When I was elected in 1971, the High Street was in a terrible state and I played a major part in saving the street, bringing it back to a flourishing life, bring the market back into it in 1975, so that it is now renowned as one of the best places in London for its vibrant and varied shops and stalls." (Er, steady on, Nick).

Nick's son, Martin, is quoted as saying, "My father and I are furious and extremely upset. He has spent his life working for the good of Deptford and is devastated at the way in which the film makers have portrayed him."

A BBC spokesman says: "The film includes a line which clearly stated the contributor in question wasn't on the council when the decision to demolish Reginald Road was taken."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Secret History of Our Streets airs tonight on BBC2

'Creek Street' residents were labourers, poorer artisans and street sellers. What has changed since 1889?

Back in January 2011, Crosswhatfields posted that it had been contacted by Century/Halcyon Heart Films, with a request for us to help them find people they could interview for their documentary series on six London streets – one of which was Deptford High Street.

We had already posted quite a bit about Charles Booth's 1889 Poverty Maps of London (see links below), which the producers were using as a starting point to base their enquiry on. They wanted to know: how have these streets changed in the past 120 years?

Whether we were any help or not (we were slightly concerned that people's stories might end up on the cutting room floor), they have now finished making their series, and the first episode of The Secret History of our Streets airs tonight on BBC2 at 9pm – and it's all about Deptford High Street.

To give you a flavour, Time Out previewed the Deptford episode last week – the programme looks set to reveal an interesting story about slum clearance and social engineering. Also see the short clip on the BBC 2 website.

Meanwhile, here's what Marmoset wrote on Crosswhatfields about Booth's Poverty Map of Deptford:

A brief history of Deptford-Greenwich borders October 2010
Putting the clock back in Deptford (1) October 2010
Putting the clock back in Deptford (2) November 2010
Putting the clock back in Deptford (3) November 2010

You can view Booth's Poverty Map at the Charles Booth Online Archive, courtesy of the London School of Economics.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tescos to serve cheap draught beer instore

Or as the leaflet they distributed around the estate last week says: ''Even more from your local store.''

This local initiative has been little publicised but, perhaps stung into action by Sainsburys opening a store opposite the Tesco Express in Deptford, Creek Road, they've opened another one in Greenwich and supplied a map to help us find it. And this map tells us where you'll find them: in the Wetherspoons pub, The Gate Clock, Greenwich.

Alternatively, they may not know where they are and might still be found in Deptford SE8, as their alternative address on the leaflet indicates. In which case, Tesco really haven't managed to raise their game since they circulated the same incorrect map when they first opened.

Which makes you think that maybe they need some imaginative local thinking. Like, well, they could open branches in pubs. Just don't ask for directions home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Watch out for 'Cathia' in Thames Pageant

If you are watching the Thames pageant, keep an eye out for the Deptford contingent. Cathia, from Deptford Creek, will be in the "Historic Boats" section. See our previous post.

UPDATE: The view from Surrey Docks Farm at around 5pm:
Cathia spotted making her way home (yes, it was wet and windy, but Surrey Docks Farm do a very nice Pimm's)...

UPDATE:  Crosswhatfields reader Tina Oregan snapped this picture of Cathia turning into Deptford Creek. Thanks, Tina!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Queen starts her weekend betting

It's a little galling to see the Queen starting her Jubilee weekend at Epsom, when many of her poorer subjects are under the illusion, or suffering the delusion, that gambling will support a better way of life.

Epsom Derby is a great annual sporting fixture for many and we've enjoyed a few great days out there. But the royal family's love for and association with horses and horse racing means that the Jubilee celebrations are highlighting to the world a fairly limited range of British culture with the choice of activities being racing, boats and music.

Whilst the river pageant offers a connection with the country's history and working life, and the music encapsulates a wide-ish range of styles and tastes, horse racing is mainly about gambling. One might wonder how the Queen splits her bets with £35m to spend. The BBC can't help itself in its excitement at being at Epsom with the Queen there. Paddy Power, Ladbrokes et all must be laughing all the way to the bank, they couldn't ask for a better branding scenario.

All the work done by the Leveson Inquiry that has discredited Jeremy Hunt who heads the Department of Culture Media and Sport is undone. The Select Committee have been reviewing the 2006 Gambling Act (a New Labour disaster which has hitherto allowed the betting industry to conduct business as they please), but a more public inquiry such as Leveson's could lead to proof of irregularities where lobbying by the Betting Industry has achieved extraordinary power over Her Majesty's government (and possibly even over the organisation of this weekend). Whilst the Select Committee is examining the vast loopholes in the Act, the industry has been lobbying to increase the number of Fixed Odd Betting Terminals in betting shops from four to eight. With Hunt in charge at the top, they will probably get their way.

Oh the queen loves horses and betting on horses. But Her Majesty's government watered down, if not did away with the Racing Levy (a tax that supports the racing community) and sold The Tote to Betfred. It has been a struggle for the racing community to get the betting industry to continue to support racing, since it sees its future fortunes in football, gaming machines and online poker. Meanwhile it has vastly increased its property portfolio across the country, investing in cheap property to open as many branches as it can in our poorest high streets, where the main income is from the FOTB machines and not racing.

With the Jubilee coverage of the Epsom Derby, a myth that betting on horses is a popular pastime for the British is perpetuated, which conceals the true nature of the part gambling is now playing in Britain during a time of deep recession. A triumph for the some of the most insidious corporate tax-avoiding companies presently operating in this country.

Image: Maria Clemen

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday night ride to the coast

Whilst filming goes on all night in Deptford High Street, another all nighter is taking place. Over 100 cyclists will be leaving the National Film Theatre at midnight and will be whizzing along Creek Road less than half an hour later on route to Whitstable. Look out for the peloton if you're still out and about near the A200 – it'll be like watching the Tour de France in the dark.

If the idea appeals, check out Friday Night Ride To The Coast ( to join up for future rides.

Filming tonight on Deptford High Street

As the market cleared up this evening, a film crew was preparing for a shoot in the high street. The old Halifax shutters were covered with a new hoarding, and the high street drinkers were joshing with the security guys guarding the equipment in a van parked up by Paddy Power, where a cherry picker carrying floodlights promises to light up the street later on.

High street traders and residents have been told filming will take place from 9pm tonight till 9am tomorrow and that it's an advert for H&M. The process involves a huge number of vans and people (most of whom are camped out in the old Tidemill carpark with an equal number of security guards) and this is likely to result in less than 5 seconds of film!