Friday, April 2, 2010


This was the mathematical formula devised by 'retail & consumer trends' expert Tim Dennison for Yellow Pages, that won Deptford High Street the accolade "the capital's most diverse and vibrant high street" in 2005. Various organisations (and speculators) both large and small have been capitalising on this ever since – when they aren't exploiting the 'artistic hub' which is presently helping to sell 10,000  new homes in Deptford.

What was particularly noted was the absence of the names that predominate in other high streets: Currys, WH Smith, Boots etc. Old timers can remember Woolworths and even Marks & Spencer, but the only chains we have presently are Iceland and Peacocks, perfect for poor people, and we quite like it that way. The chains will move into the new developments like Capital Quay, but in the meantime, is no one at Lewisham HQ looking after our street?

D (High Street Diversity) = f (m,b,c) where m is a wide mix of businesses best suited to normal spending patterns; b is the availability of everyday goods; and c is the presence of a wide number of businesses selling the same kind of thing.

Mostly no one I know understands this concept, at least how it appears in Deptford. They understand competition, but get beyond three of a kind and the luxury of choice becomes the tyranny of too much choice. However, a friend of mine who has spent many years in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, thinks it is perfectly normal and very Arabic. "You find out who you like and you shop there all the time, and every shopkeeper has his regulars."

One of Crosswhatfields commenters said about the proposed Tescos in Creek Road, "Tescos: dontcha know they feel lonely unless they are within walking distance from each other?" At last count Deptford High Street had around 16 grocers all selling the same thing. We're just about to get a 'Juice Bar' that sells phone cards (when we already have 20 phone card outlets) and offers internet access (anyone counted how many of those we've got?). You will probably be able to order a mini cab here as well, and send money via Western Union (that well-known vehicle for internet fraud).

Now there will be one pub and – with the addition of Paddy Power – seven bookies. One bookie is bookended by two pawnbrokers, and there is an unhealthy cluster of bookmakers at the south end of the street. At least the two bookmakers at the north end are respectfully distanced from each other.

The Deptford Dame has gone to the trouble of photographing all the bookies. As referred to in my previous to last post, see her post here. I was going to do this myself, but instead decided to make a Google Map to illustrate the problem.

In due course, I will be adding to the map the other charming additions to our street that make a mockery of this stupid equation.

View D=f(m,b,c) Deptford High Street in a larger map


  1. I'll be honest I love having a wide choice of greengrocers - they don't sell exactly the same things, and it means you can always get ripe avocados and very fresh spinach from one if not the other.

    And yes, the number of pawnbrokers is surely directly proportional to the number of bookies.

    As for the 'equation' - from what I remember of A level maths and my engineering degree, I believe the equation as it stands is meaningless. To understand it properly you would need the graph that demonstrates the relationship between the variables.

  2. Yes, Dame, there are obviously some things we don't mind having too much of. We have the choice, for instance, of four Vietnamese restaurants within spitting (oops, probably not an appropriate adjective) distance of each other. And four or more establishments doing African cuisine...
    It is, after all, one of the longest high streets in the country, isn't it?