A FREE NEWSPAPER FOR LEWISHAM
The Lewisham Ledger I S S U E 2 | A U G U S T/S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8
A stroll down Deptford High Street PA G E S 2 8, 2 9
The Lions awaken
Sound systems in south-east London PAG E S 14, 1 5
Millwall fansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; hopes for the season PA G E S 1 6, 17
A colourful life The wonderful world of Mr Pink PAGES 32, 33
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Welcome to The Lewisham Ledger, a free newspaper for the borough. ur first edition was published in June following a crowdfunding campaign that was backed by more than 100 residents and businesses. We hand-delivered the paper to over 100 stockists across the borough, from pubs, libraries and laundrettes to butchers, bars, cafes and community centres. View a full list of stockists at tinyurl.com/llstockists. We now have a large stand in Lewisham Library and are looking to add further pickup points to our list. If you’re a business or organisation that would like to stock us, please email email@example.com. Issue one received a great response from readers, with one describing us as “our brilliant borough’s newest and most exciting read”. A second said: “Outstanding first issue”, while a third said: “Nice free local paper with lots of high quality photo journalism”, adding: “I hope you go from strength to strength. Hurray for print!” A local charity that offers a free shopping delivery service to elderly residents, which featured in our first issue, also tweeted: “We so appreciate the support and it has already helped us to gain an amazing new volunteer.” The cash we raised through crowdfunding was enough to fund our first two issues, but we now rely solely on advertising to stay in print. To find out how we can promote your business across Lewisham and beyond, please drop us a line via the email address above. We hope you enjoy the issue!
Mark McGinlay and Kate White
The Lewisham Ledger
A group of people living near Folkestone Gardens are objecting to plans for two tower blocks next to the park
Residents say no to new tower blocks A group of residents are battling against what they describe as an “intrusive and unwanted” planned development of two tower blocks on the Deptford and New Cross border. A planning application for the site on the corner of Trundley’s Road and Sanford Street, overlooking Folkestone Gardens, was submitted in April by property advisers GVA on behalf of Shoreditchbased developer Aitch Group. It details proposals to build two mixed-height blocks – one rising to nine storeys and the other to 15 storeys – to provide commercial space at ground and mezzanine levels and 189 flats (of which 40 will be social rented and 23 “intermediate”) above. But a growing body of opponents to the proposals have outlined their concerns on a dedicated website they have set up at folkestonevoice.org. Among their objections is that social rented and intermediate flats make up just over a third of the total new homes proposed – a figure significantly lower than the Lewisham Core Strategy’s target of 50%.
Cover photograph Lianne Harris Editors Mark McGinlay, Kate White Creative directors Andy Keys, Marta Pérez Sainero Type designers a2-type.co.uk londontype.co.uk Photographer Lima Charlie Features editor Emma Finamore Sub-editor Jack Aston
Campaigners also fear that Folkestone Gardens will be overshadowed by the blocks at certain times of day and said the scheme will have a detrimental effect on local transport and healthcare infrastructure, as well as parking. So far more than 230 people have emailed objections to the council via the website. In June, campaigners set up a stall in Folkestone Gardens to raise awareness about the scheme and collected more than 100 letters of concern and objection. One local resident and supporter of the campaign, who did not wish to be named, told The Lewisham Ledger: “The response was pretty overwhelming and there was a lot of interest. “A lot of people felt very passionately against the development, particularly when they heard about what it could potentially mean for the area. “None of us are against development or regeneration in principle, but we are against development that we believe will have a negative effect on the local community. “Development is a good thing if there is a substantial community voice within it, which ensures that any new developments in an area embolden and positively enrich the current local community. “The council’s job is to give an empowered voice to the community when considering planning applications, and to make decisions based on generating a positive impact on the current residents within the wards that voted them in.” Folkestone Voice said it will “contact the developer and local councillors asking for further public consultation with the aim of having a more direct conver-
sation regarding our concerns and the developer’s aims and intentions.” In response, a spokesman for Community Conversations, which is managing the consultation element of the application on behalf of GVA, said: “Consultation was undertaken prior to the submission of a planning application and continues which shows support for the application in the local community, due to the provision of affordable homes for local families and increase in employment space and jobs to be provided on the site.” He said: “In line with the London Plan and Lewisham Council planning policy, the development proposals seek to provide the maximum amount of affordable housing that the scheme can viably support,” adding: “The financial viability assessment which sets this out in detail is available on the council’s website.” He said a daylight and sunlight report confirms that Folkestone Gardens will “continue to receive the recommended amount of direct sunlight required by BRE guidance” and added: “Following planning permission, financial contributions will be payable which will go towards transport and healthcare infrastructure in the borough.” He said the “residential element of the proposals will be ‘car free’, providing blue badge bays only” and that cycle parking and “significant” improvements to the public realm are proposed, including the “widening of the pavement along Trundley’s Road”. To view the plans in full and have your say, go to tinyurl.com/trundleysroad
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Architects chosen to reshape Catford The architects appointed to draw up a masterplan for Catford town centre said they want to work with the community to transform the area from “traffic-dominated to people-focused” while celebrating its “great individual character”. Studio Egret West, Carl Turner Architects, Civic Engineers and Greengage have been chosen to reshape the 11-hectare site by Lewisham Council, which received more than 100 expressions of interest in the project and 26 bids. Studio Egret West has worked on large-scale public realm projects that currently include a mixed-use scheme in Canning Town with 336 new homes. Co-founder David West said: “With its multitude of infrastructural, ecological and cultural layers, [Catford] represents a significant challenge and an exceptional opportunity to revive a special place. “The planned and anticipated changes ahead offer up a timely opportunity to transform Catford from a traffic-dominated to a people-focused place. “The current architecture of Catford is incredibly varied; in its aesthetic, its uses, and its condition. There are also some significant heritage buildings. “We endeavour to build on this existing architecture, building upon its ability to invite people in and allowing it to give back to the community through an extrovert programme of public uses.” Carl Turner’s previous projects include Pop Brixton and Peckham Levels, which turned seven levels of a former multistorey car park into a creative workspace and cultural destination. “Catford has got really good DNA,” he said. “It’s got lots of really grand, Victorian, civic buildings and some Art Deco buildings. It’s got lots of green space and lots of good Victorian housing. “Even Milford Towers, the housing block in the centre of Catford, is in many ways a very beautiful, brutalist building that in other parts of London has been much cherished. It’s obviously fallen into a bit of disrepair and it’s had some problems with management. “There are lots of challenges but there are some amazing opportunities in Catford. I think the council and probably local people just want to get on with things, because they’ve been talking about it for a long, long time.” He said the plan will look at the nighttime economy as well as the busy south circular, which runs through Catford
The inside story A host of private and public buildings across Lewisham will offer visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse during this year’s Open House London. Properties opening their doors on September 22-23 include the Walter Segal houses on Walter’s Way in Honor Oak, which are renowned as the UK’s first self-built council housing project. In the 1980s a group of families were given plots of land to build their own timber-framed houses from scratch, using an innovative method designed by Segal that minimised the need for excessive foundations and specialist skills.
Catford town centre as seen from above, with Catford Bridge Station in the foreground PHOTO BY GLENN MOTTERSHEAD
town centre. “It needs to be more like a civic street,” he said. “It will always be a busy road, but it doesn’t have to dominate life. It can be tamed to an extent. “There are lots of issues with connections to the stations and the road, and the river [Ravensbourne] has been buried. I think it’s just a matter of trying to untangle lots of those things.” He said the team will take a “microplan approach” to the project, adding: “It [will be] radical but it’s not a radical rebuilding of everything. It’s an unpicking and an unlocking. “We will look at options, but as a gut reaction our feeling is to try and retain everything we can. All buildings have got history and they all tell something about the time when they were built. “There are lots of great things going on in Catford and it doesn’t need people coming in from the outside and telling people what they need. The problem with a lot of town centre redevelopments is that there is a mentality of, ‘clear everything away because that’s the only way we can deliver quality’, but actually you lose a lot in doing that.
The resulting 13 half-timbered houses are “routinely mistaken for prefabs, an artists’ colony, Swiss chalets, eco-houses, a kibbutz, Scandinavian holiday cabins, Jamaican beach houses or even a Japanese temple”, according to one resident writing in the Guardian. Also taking part is Lewisham Arthouse, which is based in the old Deptford Central Library at 140 Lewisham Way. The library was built by business magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1905 but closed in 1991. Left vacant, it was vandalised and attracted squatters and illegal raves. However, pressure group the Friends of Deptford Library convinced the council it should not be sold for redevelopment and should remain in community use. As a result, in 1994 Lewisham Arthouse, a cooperatively run, artist-led organisation, moved in and repaired and restored the building, which continues to be voluntarily maintained by its members today.
“Catford has a great individual character and we’re really, really keen not to lose that. We want to build on the very positive attributes the area already has. If in 10 years’ time it feels the same but better then we’ll have been successful.” Mayor Damien Egan told The Lewisham Ledger: “What we really want is for this masterplan to be people-led and community-led – I think sometimes that gets lost in developments I’ve seen. “Catford is a prime location and it’s got lots of interesting, independent, small businesses. It has a really strong sense of community. On the downside it’s too concrete and we haven’t got enough genuinely affordable housing.” He said open green space is another priority. “We have the big green space in the middle of Catford, which is owned by St Dunstan’s [school], but it’s fenced off so we forget to look at it. We’d love to find a way to get those fences down. “The aim is, how do we have a beautiful place to live in? How do we get the green space, how do we get more houses that make it beautiful and give us a sense of place so that if you live here,
you get off at the station, you’re proud to live here and it’s a place people want to visit? That’s what we should be.” Speaking of rerouting the south circular behind Laurence House, he said: “We could open up a square, a piazza, and then we could use the old main entrance to the Catford Broadway, which is such a beautiful building. It should really be the anchor building for Catford. “Then what I’m hoping is we can fund cycling routes that can come off it and get us down the Bromley Road, but it should be a more pedestrian friendly, greener, more attractive place to be.” On tall buildings, he said: “I’m not imagining a scheme that’s going to be really high in the way that Lewisham Gateway is. Obviously we do need more housing, but you can get good levels of density by being medium rise and for me personally, when I feed into the consultation, that’s what I’ll be saying. “Of course the other really exciting thing that we’re lobbying for alongside this is the Bakerloo line. If we can persuade TfL to get the Bakerloo line to Catford, it would just be amazing.” Dedicated to providing affordable, creative space, the Arthouse supports artists and arts-based learning through creative workspace and specialist facilities. Members share their time, equipment and knowledge with the wider community on a non-profit basis. Also taking part is Boone’s Chapel in Lee, which was built in 1683 and is attributed to Sir Christopher Wren. One of only two Grade I-listed buildings in Lewisham borough, it measures just 480 square feet inside. The vast and beautiful master shipwright’s house in Deptford, which dates back to 1708 is another must-see; while JAWS (James and Wakana’s studio) is a self-built pottery studio in Honor Oak. Park House is a new-build in Grove Park set in sylvan surroundings; and Beckenham Place Park’s magnificent Georgian mansion will also open its doors.
The Walter Segal houses in Honor Oak will open to the public
For full listings of buildings taking part, visit openhouselondon.org.uk
Animal art goes on show Artworks by children from Lewisham have gone on display at one of London’s top galleries. The nature-themed exhibition was created by talented kids from Drumbeat School and ASD Services, which serves youngsters aged four to 19 who have been diagnosed with autism. It has sites in Downham and Brockley. The school has a dedicated arts week when all students create art around a
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specific topic. Each primary classroom is named after a different animal and during art week, pupils made models of the animals representing their class. Vincenzo De Noia, a higher level teaching assistant at Drumbeat, said: “It is such an amazing achievement for our students and families at Drumbeat School and has made us all so proud. “Our vision is to put our children and young people first every time. We believe that all our children should leave Drumbeat independent, confident, caring, ambitious, courageous, safe, respectful, resilient and successful.” View Drumbeat School’s display at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square, until September 7
Art by local students on display at the Saatchi Gallery
On top of the world at Blythe Hill This year’s Blythe Hill Fields Festival has been hailed as the best one yet by organisers. A funfair, arts and crafts, photography, a bugs and reptile show, head, back and neck massages and food from local Indian restaurant Babur among others were just some of the highlights at the annual festival, which drew an estimated 2,000 people. Rufus the hawk, who works in Wimbledon deterring pigeons but lives in Forest Hill, made a star appearance; and
there was an electric bike track along with bike maintenance from Catfordbased shop Compton Cycles. The Woodland Stage played host to a range of live music, including rock, pop, jazz and folk, opera from Gina Watson, 1960s covers by The Profumos and Brazilian percussion by pupils from Rathfern Primary School. Crooner Rhiannon the Nightmare also performed. Marcel Jenkins from the Friends of Blythe Hill Fields, the group of volunteers who organise the festival, said the family-friendly event was founded 11 years ago as a way to draw more people to the park and to celebrate “what used to be a fairly unloved space”.
New pub for Hither Green A local man is set to realise his dream by opening a pint-sized pub in his granddad’s former grocery shop. Bobby Mizen is planning to launch the pub, called Drink at Bob’s, at 214 Hither Green Lane, next door to his cafe Good Hope. “I’m really going down the traditional pub route, just on a very small scale,” he said.
About 2,000 visitors enjoyed this year's Blythe Hill Fields Festival
The Friends was established in 2003 by a small band of committed residents in order to promote the increased use, access to and enjoyment of Blythe Hill Fields, with early meetings taking place in members’ front rooms. Since then, the Friends have worked tirelessly to maintain the space, planting hedges, wildflowers and bulbs, ensuring the lawns are regularly mowed and monitoring litter. They had benches installed at the top of the park for people to enjoy the spectacular view. They have also revamped the children’s playground, which previously looked like “it had been left in the 1970s” and have just applied for another
“It will have quite a casual feel and there will be a lot of the traditional pub features that you would expect to see in a bigger pub. “We’ll have a nice selection of beers, wines and cocktails and I’ve built a kitchen at the back, so we’ll be doing food. We’ll be focusing on great pub classics.” The new venture is Bobby’s own project and is completely separate from Good Hope, which opened in Hither Green in 2010 and has further branches in Ladywell Fields and Lewisham High Street. The cafe was launched to raise funds and carry out the work of the Mizen fam-
grant to make further improvements to the much-used facility. Asked his favourite thing about the park, Marcel said: “It’s the fact you can see 360 degrees across London and Surrey and Kent and it’s just the most wonderful view. You can look at Canary Wharf day or night and sit on the benches and lap it up. “I also like how it’s not a very facility-led park. Even though we’ve got the playground and now the table tennis table, the rest of it is very open. When you’re in the park you don’t feel hemmed in – you feel you can breathe. There’s a sense of being on top of the world.”
Bobby Mizen will launch Drink at Bob's in September
Campaigners seeking housing solutions for young adults with autism in the borough of Lewisham are calling for more people to join them. CLASH, which stands for Campaign in Lewisham for Autism Spectrum Housing, was formed in 2010 by Rita Craft. Concerned about the lack of appropriate housing in the area for her adult son, she sought out other parents in a similar situation. Over the past eight years, members of the organisation have campaigned tirelessly for the provision of independent living accommodation and supported housing in the borough. Thanks to their efforts, in April this year Lewisham Council green-lit plans by the Birnbeck Housing Association to build the Stanstead Road Autistic Housing project in Forest Hill. It will be located on a strip of council-owned land on the corner of Stanstead and Rojack roads. The pioneering, purpose-built accommodation will feature four selfcontained, one-bedroom units, a shared communal lounge and garden for adults with autism. Each resident will be allocated a personal level of support provided by the Beckenham-based Burgess Autistic Trust. CLASH said the mayor of Lewisham and cabinet member for housing Damien Egan praised the project at the planning meeting. They said he told campaigners that he saw the Stanstead Road scheme as a pilot project and that he hoped to see more of this type of housing in Lewisham. CLASH is now calling for further people to join them and get involved in order to demonstrate the ongoing need for this sort of specialist housing in the borough. The group’s John O’Connor said: “If you have a friend or family member who wants to establish a supported life away from the family home but is struggling with this natural progression into adult life, we urge you to join. “If your child or relative is too young to be considered right now, these specialised housing builds take time and planning to come to fruition – although hopefully not the eight years that the pilot project took.” Membership of the group is free. For more information or to join, please email email@example.com or visit clashlewisham.wordpress.com ily’s charity, For Jimmy. It was founded after Bobby’s 16-year-old brother Jimmy was tragically killed in an unprovoked attack in a bakery in 2008. The community-orientated cafes offer work experience and training to young people in the area, including those from the Drumbeat School and ASD Services and Lewisham College. Bobby got his first job aged 18 at Wetherspoon’s in Lee Green and has a background in hospitality and working in pubs, restaurants and bars. Drink at Bob’s will open in September and is the realisation of a long-held ambition. He said: “Owning a pub has always been my dream.”
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Catford creatives open their doors More than 100 artists across Catford will invite the public to view their work as part of the Catford Arts Trail this autumn. Paintings, drawings, prints, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery and photography will go on display in almost 50 private houses and public venues including Little Nan’s, the Catford Constitutional Club and the Talent Factory. Activities and workshops, both during the trail weekends and on weekdays,
will allow visitors to try their hand at printmaking, screen-printing, mosaic art and graffiti, with Sprayskool set to run workshops on the Abbotshall Road playing field. Visitors to the event, which features professional and amateur artists, will be invited to collect stamps at nine different venues to enter a prize draw, with one lucky winner collecting £100 to spend on their chosen exhibiting artist. Catford Arts Trail is now in its third year and remains entirely volunteer-
lic, many sell their artwork too, and feel the benefit of this incredibly supportive and enthusiastic community. “There’s a real buzz in the air over the two weekends, with both local residents and visitors from further afield wandering the streets of Catford, clutching their leaflets and purchases. “Naturally the trail has also become a very social event, where new contacts are made and friendships are formed. It has fast become an important and highly anticipated event in the Catford calendar.” From left: leaf drop necklace by Thea Smartt Henry; Tamara Froud's Catford Cat mosaic; Sprayskool
run and not-for-profit. Last year’s trail attracted 13,000 individual visits, with some private venues welcoming up to 350 people per weekend. Co-founder Sophie Dias said: “Catford Arts was set up to provide a platform to showcase the wealth of talent
we knew was being hidden away in SE6. Our first trail was a huge hit with the local community and artists alike, with everyone talking about ‘next year’ on day one. “While many artists take the opportunity just to show their work to the pub-
New mural for Lee Residents of Lee crowdfunded more than £1,000 to help fund a new mural after an advert placed on Lee railway bridge erroneously claimed the area was Grove Park. The advert, from Deliveroo, infuriated many people in Lee and prompted one of them, Silvia Marciante, to pitch the idea of a mural on the railway bridge to help people correctly identify the area. She got in touch with Cheryl Armitage, administrator of the Lee Green London Facebook page, who helped set the idea in motion. Cheryl said: “Lee isn’t a very well-known area, but when Deliveroo
put an ad up under the bridge claiming we were Grove Park, that was the final straw. We’re proud to be residents of Lee and we want others to see that, too.” The mural was created by Lionel Stanhope, who has painted a multitude of similar murals for other areas across south-east London. The heron in the design is inspired by the abundance of herons that nest in Manor House Gardens, just down the road from Lee station. Cheryl said: “We thought that incorporating the heron into the design would be a great way to link the railway to our beautiful Manor House Gardens.”
Phoebe Gardner (second from left) with her fellow winners
Student wins top award
Residents of Lee are celebrating their new mural
Catford Arts Trail takes place on September 29-30 and October 6-7 from 11am-6pm. Leaflets containing an artists’ guide and map will be available in cafes and libraries from early autumn. Full listings can also be found at catfordarts.org
An aspiring journalist from Lewisham has won an award for her multimedia report on the decline of London’s traditional food markets. Phoebe Gardner, who has just finished her BA in journalism at Goldsmiths, was one of 12 winners at the London Voices competition. She collected her award at the Art Workers’ Guild in Bloomsbury. The contest promotes and encourages emerging journalistic talent in London, giving entrants from a diverse range of backgrounds the chance to tackle local and national issues. They sent in written articles, videos, audio files and multimedia entries that discussed topics from food markets to child obesity and from mental health to non-league football. Manager Amanda Pavon-Lopez said: “The competition was hard-fought and it was an incredibly tough job for the judges to choose the winners. This just goes to show what an amazing wealth of talent there is out there in London.”
Thousands of Lewisham residents enjoyed live music and entertainment at a festival in Forster Memorial Park in July. Almost 3,500 people came along to the family-friendly Phoenix Festival, an annual celebration in south Lewisham organised by resident-led housing association Phoenix. Headlining the music stage and performing classic ska hits was former Specials and Fun Boy Three frontman Neville Staple with his band. Visitors also enjoyed a massage zone, velcro darts, zorb racing, a bubbleologist, face-painting and balloon-modelling, arts and crafts, graffiti art, a T-shirt design tent, dog show, clay-making workshop, climbing wall and tea and coffee in the quiet zone. Battersea Cats and Dogs Home offered free microchipping for pets and there were script workshops with the Fellowship Inn project that were led by the Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre.
Neville and Christine Staple on stage in Forster Memorial Park
10 N EWS
A walk in the parks
Green flags for 21 spaces
Four keen ramblers walked through every single park in Lewisham in one day last month. Colleagues Oliver Hicks-Pattison and Jack Cornish completed the 25.6-mile route on a Sunday in July in 10 hours and in 30-degree heat. Starting at Telegraph Hill Park and finishing at Horniman Gardens, the pair were joined by fellow walkers Robyn Stephens and Katie McDonald on their quest to see every one of the 45 green and leafy spaces that Lewisham has to offer. Oliver, senior campaigns officer at walking charity The Ramblers, tweeted after the day: “Lewisham is green and awesome! It has great parks, great river walks and lots of green links between the parks.” It’s not the first time the pair have challenged themselves to such a gruelling mission. In February this year, they completed the 20-mile route around all the public parks in Hackney. Comparing the two boroughs, Oliver said: “While Hackney has a massive range of parks, they’re all largely uniformly branded – they have the same bins, the same signs and the same benches.
The quality of Lewisham’s parks and open spaces was recognised last month when 21 of them – including Bellingham Green, Hilly Fields, Mountsfield Park and Ladywell Fields – were granted Green Flag status. Parks and open spaces that received the prestigious award included Chinbrook Meadows, Devonshire Road Nature Reserve, Sydenham Garden, Frendsbury Gardens and Grove Park Nature Reserve. Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Lewisham’s cabinet member for environment, waste and recycling, air quality and parks and green spaces, said: “I’m extremely proud that once again, Lewisham has retained Green Flag awards for its magnificent parks and open spaces. “I’m especially pleased that some of our open spaces were recognised. They reflect the dedication of our community to make open spaces the best they can be.” The Green Flag scheme was set up in 1996 to recognise and reward the bestmanaged green spaces in the UK. Any free-to-enter public park or green space is eligible to apply for an award, as well as schools.
Jack Cornish and Oliver Hicks-Pattison reach Horniman Gardens, the 45th park on their route
“Lewisham, on the other hand, has a huge amount of random park stuff – benches, weird benches, outdoor gyms and play parks. I quite like it!” Reflecting on the walk, local resident Jack, who lives in Crofton Park, said that what stood out the most to him was how an abundance of wildlife and green space is so readily available in an area that is so close to central London. From Ferranti Park to Friendly Gardens and from Brookmill Park to Broadway Fields, Lewisham’s green spaces all have something unique to offer visitors and provide an oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Oliver and Jack love rambling and have no plans to stop. They’re now plotting a series of one-day walks through the rest of the capital’s 32 boroughs, taking in every green space that London has to offer. However, having just completed Lewisham, which is the second largest inner London borough at 13.57 square miles, they may opt for somewhere a little less taxing for their next excursion. Jack said: “We think we would like a slightly shorter walk so are going to do the City of London [which spans 1.2 square miles] next and then either Lambeth or Camden.”
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Fears music venue could be squeezed out Drinkers from a Deptford pub known for its live music are concerned about its future after plans were submitted to build a block of flats opposite. The Bird’s Nest on Deptford Church Street has long been linked to live shows, from folk and blues to hardcore punk and ska. Bands including Squeeze and Dire Straits have played there, along with international acts and emerging local talent. But plans lodged with Lewisham Council to build more than 50 flats at 1 Creekside, which is currently occupied by an MOT garage and is just yards away from the pub, have raised fears that the new homes could lead to noise complaints about the venue and threaten its future. Cool for Cats hitmaker Chris Difford from Squeeze told The Lewisham Ledger: “I’m in favour of building new homes, ones my kids might be able to afford, but not at the expense of losing centres for our communities to enjoy music and local theatre.” One pub regular called Tommy, who described himself as a “friend of The Bird’s Nest” and has been attending gigs there since childhood, said he is also concerned about the plans. “The last thing a successful music pub needs is more flats being built in front or anywhere nearby,” he said. “It is an old pub with lots of history and is an asset to all communities. “The licence for live music has already suffered due to pressure from the local authorities. The curfew for live music is
11pm whereas there are multiple venues in the area that are allowed to play much later. I don’t think it’s fair for The Bird’s Nest to have to suffer as a result of the regeneration in the area.” If permission is granted, the new block will house 56 flats (of which 11 will
be social rented and nine “intermediate”) as well as 1,541 square metres of business space in a building ranging in height from four to eight storeys. A spokesperson for Bluecroft Property Development, the company behind the plans, said: “We hope and expect
The Bird's Nest in Deptford has hosted bands such as Squeeze and Dire Straits
that, should planning permission be granted, new residents would be able to enjoy the venue in the same way that it has been enjoyed by Lewisham residents for many years.” They said that “Bluecroft has commissioned a noise study to ensure that our proposals will be able to sit comfortably alongside the pub”, adding: “Subsequent calculations demonstrate that the existing proposed mitigation strategy is sufficient.” Responding to concerns that the development could block light and change the aesthetic of the street, they said: “Bluecroft is working hard to ensure that the proposals do not significantly affect light reaching the surrounding buildings. We can confirm the scheme complies with the relevant BRE guidelines. We feel the scheme will add to the aesthetic of the street and offer a significant improvement compared to the current situation.” Bluecroft said its proposals would bring much-needed new housing to Lewisham, alongside 50 to 70 new jobs and commercial opportunities. They added: “Our proposals will replace what is a tired, underused site with a vibrant mixture of housing and commerce, as well as an improved public realm and an attractively designed new building.” Lewisham Council has not yet considered the application and said it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage. To view the plans in full and have your say, visit tinyurl.com/1creekside
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Inspiring the talent of tomorrow More than 370 young people from across the borough attended a packed Lewisham Youth Conference (LYC) at Goldsmiths university in June. The annual event, which is now in its fourth year, was hosted by stand-up comedian and entertainer White Yardie. It featured an array of stalls offering information and advice on topics ranging from housing to careers. There was a panel discussion on the impact of drill music in the community and whether it can be blamed for the recent rise in violent crime in London; while live performances including dance and spoken word ensured the afternoon ended on a high note. The LYC is designed by young people, for young people and is hosted by Elevating Success, a training and personal development charity that works to empower and engage individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who may struggle to secure employment. CEO Andrew Brown said: “I learn from my young people all the time. You know, new dances, new sayings. If I don’t, I’m going to be out of date and out of fashion and they’re not going to come to my events. That’s why I have young people running my events.”
Kareem Dayes, community relations officer for Lewisham Homes, which part-funds the event along with Elevating Success, said: “It’s an awesome project. They asked us if we wanted to do it again this year and I was like, cool. It’s a no-brainer for me.” Attendees at LYC spoke of their hopes and ambitions for the future. They included Henry Erhabor – a Hither Green resident who wants to become a lawyer – and Jorgen Wembo, an aspiring professional football player and actor from Bellingham. The conference was made possible by the hard work of 30 young volunteers who gave up their time to ensure everything ran smoothly. They included Nalina Johnson, who is studying child nursing at London South Bank University. She said: “I work with Andrew [Brown] and Jaudat [Alogba] who literally put everything together. [We] do all the final stuff that we need to do – the finer details, social media, assigning people to teams, gathering the volunteers and basically running the day.” Jaudat has volunteered with LYC for four years and has used the skills she has gained to carve out a bright future. “I need to get my degree and have a
The annual event featured live music, panel discussions, talks and advice
foundation to lean on and depend on,” she said. Politicians in attendance were Brenda Dacres, councillor for New Cross ward, and Vicky Foxcroft, Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford. Both have been coming to the conference since it began. “Every time I go to a local school, youth group or an event like this I’m always surprised how much talent we have,” Vicky said. “There are programmes like Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor on telly – we could just fill
them ourselves with everyone we’ve got locally.” One of the engaging speakers at LYC was young mayor of Lewisham Laurelle Henry, who chatted to The Lewisham Ledger about attending the conference for the first time. “It’s good actually,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to be like this; people are so friendly.” Laurelle is a shining example of what can happen when you put your mind to something and believe in yourself. She applied for the role of young mayor after a friend doubted she could do it and is handling the challenge and responsibility with aplomb. Laurelle, who attends Sedgehill School in Southend, SE6, is also a dancer and enjoys acting. Since taking on the role of young mayor last year after winning 1,223 votes, she feels she has grown in confidence. Those helping out at LYC spoke of wanting to encourage other young people to achieve their potential and their dreams. Volunteer Alisha Samms said: “I’d like to say I’m someone who inspires people to bring out their best abilities in themselves.” For the young people who attended LYC, the future looks bright – and what’s more, it is all of their own making.
PHOTOS BY BRYNLEY DAVIES
This year's Lewisham Youth Conference was attended by more than 370 young people
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From Jah Shaka to Saxon Studio International, some of the UK’s most revered sound systems have called Lewisham home. We chart the borough’s rich links to the sound system scene, from the blues parties of the 1950s to today
hink of the capital’s sound system history and Notting Hill Carnival will probably spring to mind, along with Brixton’s rich reggae connections. But Lewisham is equally as vital in the story of UK sound system culture: the borough has been home to many of the nation’s most revered sound systems and a hotbed of innovative reggae music, artists and record labels. In the lead-up to Carnival – and in the year when the Windrush generation are being celebrated – it is an important history to tell, and one that continues to echo through the streets of Lewisham to this day. “Blues parties” were house parties held by the newly arrived West Indian community in the 1950s and 60s, and UK sound systems can be traced directly back to the equipment used to play music at these gatherings. They were somewhere to listen to music from home that couldn’t be heard in mainstream clubs, as well as getting around the racist “colour bar” that meant non-white faces were not welcome in many music or social venues.
These parties had their origins in Jamaica, where they were big, public, open air events. In Britain however, it was often too cold and damp to dance outdoors, and families faced discrimination that meant hiring space was often impossible. Blues parties were therefore held in people’s homes. Deptford Dub Club’s Soft Wax (AKA Steve McCarthy), who DJs dub, reggae and roots, is an expert on the music brought to Lewisham by people moving to the UK from the Caribbean. He recently held an exhibition at Poplar Union that recreated the living room of a Jamaican family set up for a traditional 1950s blues party. Soft Wax says parties took place all over Lewisham, but exact addresses have not been recorded – mainly because the people holding them were mindful to remain under the radar. He says that shockingly, arson attacks on houses hosting blues parties in south-east London were not uncommon, and that people feared repercussions from the authorities over selling food and drink at unlicensed premises (their homes). During the 1960s however, Caribbean music began to move from
Pictured above: Jah Shaka at Deptford’s Albany Empire in 1984 Above right: his son Young Warrior
What the lyrics were saying – it was a version of the world you didn’t hear anywhere else
under the radar into mainstream UK consciousness and venues. Soft Wax says Lewisham borough was central to this shift, as reggae sound systems started playing in its clubs and pubs. “The scene began to go more public as it was tied to other movements like the Mods,” he says. “The El Partido [at 8-10 Lee High Road] had a Duke Reid residency [not to be confused with the Jamaican record producer of the same name] and Neville the Enchanter played at the Amersham Arms.” Also in Lewisham, the Freddie Cloudburst sound system played rocksteady, R&B, ska and reggae. A budding soundman cut his teeth as an operator for them: a young Jah Shaka. As sound systems shifted from domestic spaces like living rooms and basements into public venues, reggae was becoming a fixture in the British charts, and many of its leading figures lived and worked in Lewisham. Desmond Dekker – who scored the UK’s first reggae number one in 1969 with his track Israelites – lived in Lee, Brockley and later Forest Hill, and Soft Wax recalls a gig in Catford where Jamaican singer-songwriter Prince Buster appeared in the crowd. “Major figures of the Jamaican music pantheon would just turn up at community events,” he says. As reggae emerged into the mainstream and sound systems began playing commercial venues, the tech they used became more sophisticated; sound systems got bigger and louder. By the 1970s, the voice of the community they stemmed from was getting louder too. Soft Wax says the children of the people who came from the Caribbean to Lewisham were less willing to put up with the racism and deprivation shouldered by their parents. It meant the music scene became bolder. “Many people concerned [in the 1970s and 80s] were now second generation,” he says. “[They] had been to school here, and were not as prone to compliance.” Moving into this era – seen by many as the “golden age” of UK sound systems and reggae music – Lewisham remained at the centre of it all. Following his “apprenticeship” with Freddie Cloudburst, Jah Shaka, who
arrived from Jamaica with his parents in the 1950s and went to school in Brockley, set up his own, now legendary, sound system in the early 1970s. By the end of the decade he had a large, loyal following, drawn to his combination of spiritual content, high energy rhythms, massive vibrations and dynamic personal style. His fans included many pioneers of post-punk, such as Public Image Ltd and The Slits. In the early 1980s Shaka also set up a shop selling records and dread paraphernalia in New Cross. Another sound system founded in Lewisham in the 1970s was Saxon Studio International, whose “fast chat” style was pioneered by DJ Peter King. Saxon MCs included Tippa Irie, Smiley Culture and Papa Levi. They all released records, with some achieving Top 40 hits. Reggae fusion singer Maxi Priest – born in Lewisham to Jamaican parents – also began his musical career with Saxon, before going on to work with artists like Shaggy, Jazzie B and Shabba Ranks. The majority of this new generation hadn’t ever been to Jamaica, so they wrote about what they knew: south-east London. Lez Henry and Les Back are London university academics who met in New Cross in the early 1980s via the sound system scene. They are making a “reggae map” of the area’s significant places, people and events. Lez – AKA Lezlee Lyrix, who is also a poet and MC – ran his own sound system called Ghettotone. “They used to have dances here every week,” says Lez, standing outside 51 Lewisham Way, dubbed “51 Storm” by locals
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Pictured left: Soft Wax and singer Setondji Spirit Below: Les Back and Lez Henry
after a famous storm that devastated Jamaica in 1951. Lez MCed with Saxon here on New Year’s Eve in 1981, alongside Papa Levi and Maxi Priest. He says the sound system was groundbreaking in taking their cues from life in London rather than Jamaica. Les – who attended dances and carried boxes for Saxon and other sound systems – says: “What the lyrics were saying – it was a version of the world you didn’t hear anywhere else.” This could be anything from familiar bus journeys to more serious, topical subjects. “This was so significant in the development [of sound system culture],” says Les. “And it was happening right here in Lewisham.” This local phenomenon reached a worldwide audience and had an impact on sound systems back in Jamaica. Lez says: “When the Papa Levi style hit Jamaica, it revolutionised the way the Jamaicans chatted.” When Lez visited Jamaica in 1985 he heard MCs chatting his own styles, and Sugar Minott – a Jamaican reggae singer from Kingston – released a track called Lover’s Rock. It was a style of music popular in the UK and was also the name of a Lewisham record label, demonstrating further how music here was feeding back into sound system and reggae culture in Jamaica. Lez says American acts like Busta Rhymes and Shinehead were also influenced by the style. According to Lez and Les, the boom in Lewisham’s sound system and reggae scene in the 1970s and 80s was inextricably linked to the proximity of all the vital ingredients – youth
clubs galvanising and inspiring young artists, record stores, record labels, recording studios and venues. Lez attended the Lewisham Youth Club as a teenager. “We had big sound system dances and they did everything from black history to martial arts, but reggae was central,” he says. “Places like this – they were safe spaces.” Les adds: “It’s important how close things were – it was a whole world. And it was a black world, hosted by black people. And that was really powerful and important.” Other youth clubs and community centres were just as dynamic and vital, such as the Moonshot Centre in New Cross, which was a venue for reggae dances. At Arklow Road Community Centre, also in SE14, reggae sound systems played upstairs and some of the biggest names in reggae, including
Nitty Gritty, performed there. Childers Street Youth Club in Deptford was another popular sound system venue. These hubs rubbed shoulders with local record stores and recording studios, run by key players on the reggae and sound system scene. Jamaican artist and producer Joe Gibbs had a record shop at 29 Lewisham Way, and Lez recalls buying his first reggae records – Count Prince Miller’s Mule Train and Dave and Ansell Collins’ Double Barrel – in Lee’s Sound City Records in Catford. The shop’s later site at 494 New Cross Road housed a recording studio, and released records for Jamaican reggae singer Winston Groovy and reggae disco outfit the Blood Sisters. Mad Professor set up his 1980s Ariwa Sounds studio – now renowned for producing deep roots reggae – on Gautrey Road in Nunhead. It was a hub for reggae recordings by artists like Ranking Ann (known for A Slice of English Toast and for protesting against police stop-and-search powers), Peter Culture and Jah Shaka. Eve Studios on Upper Brockley Road was also pivotal. The Lover’s Rock label had its origins there, with Dennis Bovell – a Barbados-born reggae guitarist, bass player and producer who was a key figure in the lover’s rock genre – living above. “They’d have auditions here,” says Les, standing outside the building, where the imprint of the old studios can still be seen in the basement. “Kids from the youth club would walk around and go down into the studio. They cut I’m in Love with a Dreadlocks by Brown Sugar down there, with a 15-year-old Caron Wheeler.” Caron would go on to become lead singer in Soul II Soul, with Jazzie B. Reflecting on why Lewisham had such a dynamic music scene, Lez says: “It was the concentration of AfricanCaribbean people, that’s what it was.” This, coupled with lots of spaces to use for dances, created the perfect place for music to blossom. Lez and Les say this was stopped in its tracks when the Thatcher government began shutting youth clubs – the life blood of Lewisham’s music scene – and introduced volume limits at live venues. The police also began raiding dances and there was a violent raid of a Jah Shaka dance on Malpas Road in Brockley in 1975. “They mobilised against all forms of working class expression, and we got caught up in that,” says Lez of the authorities. It wasn’t just central government that wanted to stamp out black spaces: violent racism was rife during this golden age of sound system culture. Some of the darkest examples of this took place in Lewisham borough, but so did some of the most strident acts of resistance against it.
In 1977, the “battle of Lewisham” – an attempt by the National Front to march from New Cross to Lewisham – was halted by groups working in solidarity against fascism and racism. The Lewisham 21 Defence Committee was established to support 21 young black men who’d been arrested in the run-up to the march, as were other counter-racism groups such as the All Lewisham Campaign Against Racism and Fascism. In 1981 the horrific New Cross fire killed 13 people aged between 14 and 22 (one survivor committed suicide two years later) and was found to have been started from inside the house, either by accident or deliberately. No one has ever been charged. A historic demonstration took place following the incident: the Black People’s Day of Action, assembling on Clifton Rise, protested against the indifference of the police and wider society to the victims of the fire. In a poignant political and cultural moment, thousands gathered to protest against racist violence and police inaction, marching from Lewisham to Hyde Park. This coming together is something the borough’s sound system community continues today. Young Warrior – son of Jah Shaka and operator of his own sound system – grew up here and created a monthly family gathering called the Reggae Garden Party – a child-friendly reggae sound system event. “It was loved and grew massively,” he says. Young Warrior still holds these events at The Albany in Deptford. Soft Wax also continues the area’s long tradition via the Deptford Dub Club. Performers include Gladdy Wax, whose sound system is one of the longest running at Notting Hill Carnival. There’s also Danny Dread (part of Jah Shaka’s crew and now Young Warrior’s), figures from the punk/reggae crossover of the 1970s, like Tessa Pollitt of The Slits, and visiting artists from Jamaica – keeping up the strong musical link between Lewisham and the island. Lez and Les say the youthful spirit of 1970s-80s sound systems also lives on through grime and spoken word artists. “They are very rooted in reggae and in sound systems,” says Lez. Youth clubs have been replaced by virtual worlds where the young claim space and create their own subcultures. “What’s being used [spaces, technology] changes through time, but the process is the same.” For Les, it’s vital we remember Lewisham’s sound system culture. “It was about experiencing a different sense of what London is, what Lewisham is. A different sense of the world. What happened when the lights went down and the sound system boxes were strung up...”
16 A LE T T E R TO L E W I SH A M
UPWARDS ONWARDS AND
AS TOLD TO LUKE G WILLIAMS
As the 2018-19 football season kicks off, a number of people connected with Millwall FC – from a fan for 50 years to a member of the board – share their thoughts on the club’s past, present and future
MICHAEL AVERY from the Millwall Supporters’ Club assesses how Millwall did on the pitch last season, and their prospects for next season “Where do we begin? After promotion from League One and a start where Lady Luck seemed to be flirting with our opposition, it seemed like we may be looking over our shoulders for the 2017-18 season. The trap door was just behind us creaking, but there
were teams who were destined for the hangman’s noose before us. “Our season changed on January 20, 2018 at Elland Road against Leeds United. After months of away fixtures where we would cruelly have points we deserved snatched from us, our boys in navy finally faced their demons and got the three points. The 4-3 away win was the catalyst we needed, and we never looked back.
“The trap door disappeared out of sight and we were now looking up. Away wins kept coming and coming and before we knew it we were talking about unbeaten streaks, daring to dream. The team many fancied for the drop now looked like they would leave the Championship via promotion to the Premier League. Lady Luck was on our arm, but unfortunately for The Den faithful,
she was seduced by a team from west London and left us for the soon-to-be promoted Fulham. “Last season was fantastic, and we would love to replicate it, but we have to be realistic. I don’t think Millwall will go down, instead I think we will be comfortably mid-table.” MARK BAXTER, a Lions fan for 50 years, explains what the club means
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Last season saw the Lions finish eighth in the Championship, with 72 points
to him and his favourite Millwall memories “I’m Camberwell born and bred and so that made it a choice of Millwall or Crystal Palace for my local club. My dad was a Millwall fan and I’ve stuck with them ever since. “Millwall isn’t a glorious, glamour club; it’s a club that’s handed on to you. You either stick with it or go looking elsewhere for trophies. “Most of my mates growing up supported Chelsea or West Ham or Spurs, so I stood out as a Millwall fan, but supporting them meant I could go and watch live football locally, which I loved. “The amount of trouble down there in the 70s was ridiculous so I stopped going for a bit. My dad said he would give me a slap if I went! I came back to Millwall around the late 80s and I’ve had a season ticket pretty much ever since. “Millwall is in my blood. For Millwall fans, I think the club is part of our being. We don’t win much in the way of trophies and the ground is quite a hard place to get to, but if it’s in your blood and your heart you keep going. You’re addicted to it. “And then you get those great moments – there was the goal Gary Alexander scored at Wembley, which was one of the best goals ever scored at Wembley by any player for any club. “That was particularly special because I know Gary, he’s a local boy, my wife grew up knowing his family. To see someone you know score a goal for the club you support at Wembley was quite a moment. “Plus the FA Cup final at Cardiff in 2004, of course. I never thought I’d see that day. I went in a minibus with all my mates and my family, including my mum who was in her 70s then. That was quite a day, a really big occasion.”
MICKY SIMPSON, current “fan on the board” and founder of the Association of Millwall Supporters, on his role and the development saga surrounding Millwall’s stadium “The easiest way to describe my role is that it’s a fan liaison role. It’s about giving the fans a voice within the club. I take fans’ concerns to the relevant people, including to the board if needed, depending on the level of concern. “These concerns might be about ticket allocation, transport issues or police dealings with the fans. Or I might take ideas to the board. There’s no job description set in stone as such, but I do pretty much anything and everything I can to support the fan base. “Then there’s other things I do. Just yesterday I was chatting to a guy in a caff, a Millwall fan, near the ground and I was able to take him into the stadium to meet [former player] Jimmy Carter and take some pictures pitchside. Meeting and talking to this Millwall legend pretty much made a 50-odd year old man cry with happiness. “I try to use my role to do good and make sure there is a connection and communication between the fans and the club. I use Twitter and various forums to do that. The role works and I think it shows a lot of forward thinking on the part of the club to have this role. “I just hope that with a new mayor and cabinet in Lewisham that we can now move forward as a club with the development of the stadium. It’s hard to believe that a club as big as Millwall weren’t originally placed at the centre of the regeneration plans for the area, rather than treated like a nasty boy in the corner. That never would have happened to Arsenal or Manchester United.
“If the media were to look at Millwall without blinkers on, they would see that we are a very strong community club with our heart in the local working-class community.” PETER GARSTON, former “fan on the board” and still a member of Millwall’s board of directors, on why he believes the club’s community work deserves more attention “I am a lifelong Millwall fan – my first game was in 1969. For me it’s more than a football team; coming from a dysfunctional family as a child, Millwall was my first real family, to the extent that I named both of my children after players, Harry after Harry Cripps and Alfie after Alfie Wood. “In 2005 I was voted on to the board of directors of Millwall as “FOTB” by my fellow fans, an honour I will never be able to repay. In 2016 I decided to stand down and was honoured that chairman John Berylson asked me to
Millwall is in my blood. For Millwall fans, the club is part of our being
remain on the board as a director. He also invited me to become a director of Millwall Holdings. Then last year I was offered the position of trustee on the Millwall Community Scheme – I still hold all these positions. “I have followed Millwall through many ups and downs; I was a travelling fan in the 1970s and 80s and that experience, along with the board positions I hold, has enabled me to have an all-round overview of the club. “I have seen many things during my time – both good and bad – but the one thing I can never understand is the media’s inability to report on the excellent work we do in the community week in, week out – work we have been doing for many years. “With over-50s clubs and Irish clubs to name but a few, we are truly all-inclusive. As fans we also raise considerable sums for every cause you can mention. Recently we raised thousands for the young girl Isla Caton who was suffering with a rare form of cancer and whose family were all diehard West Ham fans, while our annual contribution to Help for Heroes is immense. I just wish there was more balanced reporting to reflect this.” AYSE SMITH, editor of Millwall fanzine The Lion Roars on the club’s current prospects on and off the pitch “The Lion Roars is now in its 30th year of publication, and hopefully we will have an amazing season – on and off the pitch – to report on. “Last season we were one of the favourites to be relegated, which I thought was a bit harsh, and a bit silly really, as newly promoted teams normally do really well in their new league as they are still flying high with momentum from the previous season. Despite that, we exceeded even our own expectations. “This coming season is going to be tough though. The team is pretty much the same as last year, and although they have united amazingly, expectations are going to be higher, from us fans at least. We are again one of the favourites to be relegated, and I hope this spurs the players on to prove our critics wrong. “The current progress of the compulsory purchase order (CPO) and redevelopment plans on Millwall’s land is unclear at the moment. The council haven’t said they will not apply for a CPO again, and the fact the newly elected mayor Damien Egan and MP Janet Daby were both on the council cabinet and voted in favour of the CPO in the first place, is quite alarming to me. “Drawing up plans and architects’ fees is hugely expensive, and although Millwall have already paid for these in their bid to redevelop the land themselves, I don’t think they can afford to spend any more on it unless the council gives us the go-ahead to redevelop the land to provide the much-needed homes that Lewisham borough needs.”
18 LEWI S H AM I N PI CT U R E S
WORDS BY JACK ASTON
PHOTOS BY JOHN YABRIFA
Party park in the
ewisham People’s Day took place on July 7 this year, with thousands of residents and revellers flocking to Mountsfield Park in Catford to enjoy a day of sunshine and entertainment. The annual event, which is billed as south-east London’s longest running free festival, is a borough-wide celebration of music, art, craft and community. This year’s festival was the 34th People’s Day and drew more than 25,000 visitors to the park. It featured hundreds of performances across seven stages, as well as craft stalls, food and drink. Highlights in the red area included tunes from Unit 137 sound system,
as well as live art created by Brockley Street Art, which celebrates the best local street art in Brockley and beyond. There was a craft market, pizza-making and a sports area with low-impact aerobics, Zumba and kwik cricket. The blue area hosted high energy music and dance performances on the outdoor stage from the Dynamite Diamonds, Shadez the Misfit, Alicai Harley, Mic Assassin and Afronaut Zu to name but a few. A new stage for 2018, brought to the festival by Team Catford, showcased top local talent and there was a boxing ring and funfair rides. The green area featured visual performance art from You Are Here in The Little Big Top, plus a
Pictured this page and opposite: crowds enjoyed performances from Mic Assassin among many others
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Pictured above and right: those attending this year’s People’s Day enjoyed idyllic weather as well as a stellar line-up of entertainment
chance to meet the team from South East London Tennis, which offers affordable, quality tennis coaching to people of all ages within the community. Local groups including the Brockley Rise Performers and Future Sound Cartel performed on the bandstand and The Purple Ladies cabaret wowed with their hoola-hoop extravaganza. Meanwhile the yellow area featured an array of community displays, South London Samba and a Jamaican quadrille dance workshop. There was a family fairground, a kids’ micro-disco and a chance to snap a selfie with the Catford Cat. Visitors were also invited to build a giant sculpture from brightly coloured sticks with The Albany and Circulate.
20 POL I T I C S t is not the easiest start to an MP’s career to go face to face with the party leader and set out how you disagree on the biggest political question of the day. Janet Daby, parliament’s newest MP, is not thought to have been Jeremy Corbyn’s office’s first choice to be Labour candidate in the Lewisham East byelection. She is not thought to have been their second choice either. But, overwhelmingly, she was the woman who members of the local constituency party wanted as their representative. Part of her appeal – in addition to her local roots, and a long record as a hard-working councillor – was her pledge that she would battle for a “soft” Brexit, even if that meant going against the Labour party’s official line. This helped see off a very determined challenge by the Liberal Democrat, Lucy Salek, who campaigned strongly on the issue of Brexit, and pushed her party’s share of the vote up from 4.4% to 24.6%. But it created a frisson at her postelection meeting with Corbyn, who has opposed British membership of the EU for most of his political life, and is concerned about the strength of support for Brexit in Labour’s old heartlands in the north of England and Wales. Speaking in her new Commons office, Janet says: “In Lewisham East, a majority of people voted to remain in the EU, as did I. That was over 70% of the population in Lewisham East, and in one ward, Blackheath, over 80%. “That was very key for me because it’s sending a message: they’re recognising the strength of our
JANET’S JOURNEY As the dust settled following the Lewisham East byelection in June, we met newly elected Labour MP Janet Daby to talk community, Brexit and finding common ground with Corbyn WORDS BY ANDY MCSMITH n PHOTO BY LUCY YOUNG
relationship with the EU. When you look at the way the population voted – how it was 52% to leave and 48% to remain – it’s marginal, just a small difference. To me that means we should have a soft Brexit. We should stay as close to the EU as possible. “I have sat down and had a conversation with Jeremy, and I explained to him exactly what I have explained to you. I felt that he was sympathetic to that, I felt that he understood the stance I was taking, and that he didn’t have an issue with the way I meant to represent Lewisham East.” This is not the only apparent difference between the party leader
and Lewisham East’s new MP. Janet is a good friend of her predecessor, Heidi Alexander, whom she praises as a “fantastic, hard-working and dedicated MP” – but who was the first member of Labour’s shadow cabinet to resign, complaining that she could not work with Corbyn as leader. “She was in the shadow cabinet at that time, and I don’t have that experience, but Heidi and I have always been friends,” she says. “Heidi supported me to become politically active within the Labour party, and I know she’s very pleased with my election. So, yeah, we have always got on really well. We respected each other’s different views.”
Pictured: MP Janet Daby won 50.2% of the vote in the Lewisham East byelection in June
As a Lewisham councillor, and the cabinet member responsible for community safety, Janet supported Prevent, the government’s anti-terrorism strategy, which Corbyn criticised earlier this year as “often counter-productive” because it is “seen to target the Muslim community, not anybody else.” Janet says the way it was applied varied between local authorities and that in Lewisham, “it’s very much about who is at risk, who needs the support and where do we need to interface – and it’s really about safety.” Despite these differences, she is very clear that she has not gone into parliament to join the back-
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bench diehards who will never come to terms with Corbyn’s leadership. She voted for Corbyn in the leadership elections in 2015 and 2016, speaks very highly of him personally, and stresses that party unity matters more than their occasional differences. He, in turn, gave her a notably warm welcome at the first Prime Minister’s Questions after her election, when he told MPs: “I hope we will take a special moment today to welcome a daughter of the Windrush generation as a new member of this House.” Janet’s mother, a retired nurse, flew into the UK from Jamaica in 1960. Her father, who died three years ago, was Indian by descent. He arrived from Guyana in the late 1950s. As she said in her acceptance speech, after her election on June 14: “I am proud to be a black British woman, of Caribbean and Asian descent. We finally have a black Labour MP in Lewisham East!” One of the many qualities for which she praises Corbyn is that “he’s not shy in talking about the discrimination that the black and BAME communities experience. I find that very attractive in his politics.” Her childhood on a council estate in Deptford included what could have been a very frightening experience, when racists pelted the windows of the family home with eggs for three nights in succession. She recalls: “Initially, from memory, it was scary, but because of the way my mother managed it, she took all the fear out of it. She just diffused the
situation. She wasn’t alarmed, and she wasn’t angry, she wasn’t tearful – and I think because she dealt with it in that matter-of-fact way, it reduced any fear that we may have been feeling. We just played in a different room until she finished cleaning. As a child we didn’t think into it. It was only in the latter years when you start to really realise what happened. “That level of racism is quite overt, so easily identifiable. I think what’s worrying nowadays is when it’s not, it’s covert. It’s not easy to get evidence when people don’t get the job that they want, or where they see people promoted over their heads, or they’re not given their training or the skills they need to move on. You can’t evidence it. It’s just a gut feeling, but you still have to keep on challenging things when people feel they’re being discriminated against.” Janet’s local roots run deep. She went to St Alfege primary school in Greenwich, then Blackheath Bluecoat secondary school, which is now closed. Having obtained a diploma in social work – and later, a master’s in criminal justice policy at LSE – she was a social worker in a succession of London boroughs. She has been a councillor since 2010 for Whitefoot ward, between Catford and Downham, but will resign her seat at some point to make way for someone who can devote more time to the council. Had she not stood for parliament, she would be Lewisham’s deputy mayor.
She defends the council over its highly publicised clash with Millwall football club, who lease land in the neighbouring Lewisham Deptford constituency, where there was a plan to build new homes. Roy Kennedy, a Labour peer and lifelong Millwall supporter, claimed the row damaged the council’s reputation. She says: “I disagree. An independent commission exonerated Lewisham Council and staff and complimented the way in which the council operated.” Her children, a boy and a girl, both aged under five, go to primary school and nursery in the constituency. One of her concerns is the quality of secondary state education in Lewisham, where four schools are judged to be well below standard on the basis of the latest GCSE results. She wants to meet school heads and local pressure groups to discuss how to get parents more involved, and what can be done particularly about vulnerable pupils and the so-called “county lines” – the gangs that use young children to traffic drugs. Her mother, sister and aunt all are, or were, nurses. A highlight of her mother’s career was looking after Cliff Richard when he was admitted to a hospital she was working at in the 1970s. She also did agency work for Lewisham Hospital – where Janet received emergency treatment for a cyst which, she believes, could have killed her. “They saved my life,” she says.
Within the Labour party, we have more in common than what divides us
No surprise then that when Lewisham Hospital was threatened with closure, she was out collecting names on a petition, and as a councillor was involved in taking the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to court – or that she praises how Jeremy Corbyn talks about the NHS as a “bedrock within our society”. Generally, despite being selected over the opposition of Lewisham Labour party’s most committed Corbynites, and backed by many – including the ex-MPs Heidi Alexander and Bridget Prentice, who are no fans of Corbyn – she is full of praise for the Labour leader. She says: “Jeremy Corbyn very much speaks about the injustices people experience. He talks about more equality for people. I like the way he is able to attract a lot of young people into politics and revive the spirit of politics. “There will be differences of views, differences of opinion, but we need to find those things that we have in common, those commonalities. We’ve got more in common than what divides us within our party. And when we have factions or difficulties within our Labour party, we need to keep our dirty washing in-house.” She adds: “I think people generally respected me locally in Lewisham East before I became the MP. They knew I was hard-working, they knew I was somebody who wouldn’t shy away from making decisions. They were aware that I’m committed.”
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Deptford X festival returns this autumn, promising an array of art installations and performances across SE8. Six artists creating special work for the event tell us what they have in store
WORDS BY EMMA FINAMORE
rt installations and creative performances will be dotted across Deptford in September as part of this year’s Deptford X festival. Five emerging artists based in London and beyond have been selected to create new context-specific works in the area for the annual event’s 19th outing; while a sixth has been invited to produce a residencybased special project. The festival aims to put art out into the real world, from shops and cafes to libraries, churches, train stations and empty shop units. It is directed by Patrick Henry, a London-based curator who has been at the helm since late 2015. “Deptford X has changed over nearly two decades in countless ways, but some basics have remained – things we’re really committed to,” he says. “One is placing art out there in the social and physical landscape of the area, in the flow of everyday life. “The emphasis is not on conventional galleries, although they’re also in the mix, but on places you don’t usually find art. It means there’s lots of collaboration and participation, which is another key ingredient of Deptford X, going back to the early years.” The festival aims to be inclusive, both for artists (its open call Fringe programme allows anyone to get involved, without the fees that many open exhibitions charge) and for audiences, by showcasing as diverse a range of works as possible. It also supports artists at the beginning of their careers through its curated element and brings cutting edge, contemporary art to people who might not access it in places like galleries. “This part of London has an amazing creative energy,” says Patrick.
“Deptford X seeks to tap into that energy, support it, contribute to it and share it with wide audiences locally and with people we attract from across London and further afield. “Deptford X has grown and changed but it retains its grassroots character and commitment to emerging artists and emergent art practice. “Sparking off each other we can make south-east London an even more creative place, with more opportunities for artists, residents and visitors.”
Pictured top: Feeling Feelings by Georgia Lucas-Going Above: This Moment by Louise Ashcroft
We meet the five artists who have been commissioned for the curated part of Deptford X and also speak to Louise Ashcroft, who is creating a residency-based special project Louise Ashcroft Louise works with objects and places to create situations and stories, which are then retold through spoken word, video and sculpture. She will use interactive drawing, costume and hair-cutting performance projects to explore life in Deptford, as well as a drawing-based pen-pal project. “Anyone can send me a drawing of something they want to talk about and I’ll reply with a drawing and so on,” she says. “I want to get into the psyche of the audience and community and let them get into mine. “Drawings are often more ambiguous and mysterious than writing, so it’s an ideal way to get into deep discussion and feel a personal connection, which is different to the ordinary artist-audience relationship.” Louise will also work with businesses and residents to make sculptures exploring threats to Deptford’s survival, and with local hairdressers to offer a unique “Deptford fringe” hairstyle to customers for free. She will collaborate with residents to design a costumed mascot to roam around the market, as well as other interactive pieces. “All of the works aim to connect directly to the people of Deptford,” she explains. Shawanda Corbett Shawanda Corbett works with film, photography, performance, text and ceramics, drawing on her extensive knowledge of African, European and other artistic traditions. She trained initially as a painter but soon began to experiment with
ceramics, attracted in part by the medium’s collaborative aspects. From clay pots she moved on to sculpture, working with porcelain and then iron. Her influences range far and wide, from Charlie Chaplin to African-American history, from John Akomfrah to Jan van Eyck, and from African studies to Jacob Lawrence. Shawanda’s project for the festival will explore how architecture can work to keep certain people out of spaces, rather than welcoming them in. “My work for this year’s Deptford X is connected to Deptford through physical access,” she explains. “It’s an intervention on how architecture could be significant to segregation of race, class, and ablebody from disable body. It is about what the inner dialogue could be to a person who’s denied access from a building or denied access from society outside because of the physical limitations a person has. “I’m excited to be part of the diverse selection of artists – who are very talented – and to see the community that supports Deptford X and artists and their work.” Georgia Lucas-Going Georgia is a video and performance artist who creates visually arresting work inspired by friends and family, her hometown of Luton and notions of social class and culture. She aims to create honest work that confronts the viewer while maintaining an element of play and humour. Melanie Keen, who nominated Georgia to be part of this year’s festival, says: “With the erosion of black spaces and queer spaces, her practice attempts to push against this retrenchment in unexpected, bold, coercive ways.” Georgia says she likes how the festival breaks down barriers between
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art and everyday life, allowing more people to view it. “I’m interested in trying to eliminate any boundaries to access the work,” she explains. “I want the work to exist as if it’s a part of an everyday life act specifically to Deptford and its high street. I’m excited for something to co-exist but [also to] act as a blip among daily life.” David Steans David’s multimedia practice encompasses written fiction, moving image, performance, installation and sound, blurring the lines between fact and fiction. Fittingly, his project will take place in Deptford Lounge – part of which is a public library. “I’ll be working directly with staff, and the project will be integrated into the life of the building for the duration of the festival and hopefully beyond,” David explains. “I’m interested in fiction, so a library seemed an ideal fit: my project will be making use of Deptford Lounge’s function as a library, as well as its rooftop ball court. “I’m also drawing inspiration from the borough and the area, setting some of my fictions here. I’m imagining a haunted south-east London basketball court, among other things.” David says that Deptford X is especially exciting because of its inclusivity, and as a Leeds-based artist from Nottingham, he’s relished the chance to learn more about this part of south-east London. “The festival is a really unique model, with a streamlined commissions programme situated
Objects for the Street by Laura Yuile within a properly inclusive areawide and area-specific open call programme,” he explains. “I’m also excited to get to know Deptford better.” Nicola Thomas Nicola works in film, sound, performance, photography, installation and print to explore the “gaze”, whether it is by the artist, the camera lens or the viewer, and the tension that arises from the courtship of the gaze by the subject-artist-lens. She has lived in the borough of Lewisham for several years, and says she has seen how Deptford – like many parts of south-east London – has changed even during that short time. For the festival she is making a film that is shot in Deptford and as part
of this, she has been talking to young people from two local secondary schools – Deptford Green and Addey and Stanhope – about film and moving image art. “I have also been finding out about how they believe they are represented in art, moving image, and society as a whole,” Nicola explains. “In addition to getting them to think about moving image art, it has been a good opportunity to let them know about the festival. “It is important for young people and local residents to know that fine art can be for them; that it isn’t confined to galleries, that it can be accessible, meaningful and relevant.” She adds: “I want them to know that Deptford X is something they can be a part of.”
Laura Yuile Laura creates installations that speak to multiple senses and are often activated by performance. She explores notions of the domestic and the urban through the intimate (or public) matters of family or living together; personal care and household maintenance; wellness and wellbeing; and the effect of globalisation upon living space. She also looks at social discomfort and our obsession with cleanliness – how society “sanitises” women, for example. For the festival, Laura will focus on regeneration and development, and how public spaces and artwork (like graffiti) are seemingly being co-opted for the financial gain of some, to the detriment of others. “My work will draw upon the redevelopment that is taking place in Deptford and London-wide,” she explains. “The resulting privatisation of public space and the appropriation and commercialisation of graffiti by property developers, who utilise it to sell off areas of the city. I’m interested in the impact that property developments are having upon individuals, communities, creativity and freedom within the city. “I’m excited to be part of the festival because it is enabling me to present work in a non-gallery space. Deptford is a wonderful and energetic place where I loved spending two years working while on the MFA at Goldsmiths.” Deptford X will run from September 21-30 in locations around Deptford
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t can be easy to take our local parks for granted. But when that green space at the end of the street comes under threat, sometimes it’s necessary to stand up and fight for it. That’s what happened a few years ago when Deptford Park and nearby Folkestone Gardens faced some development. Local people were concerned – and because the two parks were about to be linked by a new housing scheme called Neptune Wharf, they formed a park user group to fight for both, under the punning name DeptfordFolk. Trina Lynskey, current chair, recalls: “Deptford Park was going to get a new fenced-in, floodlit, full-size, pay-toplay Astroturf football pitch. In an area of 43% child poverty. Who is that for? It’s not for people who live here. “It would have taken a third of the park, which is Deptford’s largest green space, commercialised it and taken away the green. At the same time in Folkestone Gardens there was a skate park going in that few people had been consulted on. “A lot of people around the park were furious about floodlights going in. People interested in nature and ecology were worried about the bats, the grass being removed, the effect on trees and planting.” While Trina says they were unable to influence the position of the skate park, DeptfordFolk and local people did manage to get the football pitch plan quashed. After this success, DeptfordFolk have continued to fight for parks and green spaces. The group conducted a park user survey in 2016, which has given them eight park priorities they are working to achieve. They have raised £100,000 to restore the pond in Folkestone Gardens and to install new benches, designed by local company Aldworth James & Bond. Last year they also won £2.9 million for their Liveable Neighbourhood project from the mayor of London. This includes a community redesign of busy Rolt Street on the south side of Folkestone Gardens and a play street in front of Sir Francis Drake School. They also plan to transform a pathway along the former Grand Surrey Canal – now an industrial estate – into a green and pleasant route for cyclists and walkers from New Cross Gate through Fordham Park, Folkestone Gardens and down to the river. All these projects are subject to community consultation, with DeptfordFolk encouraging everyone to get involved in shaping their area. Trina’s heroine is 20th century Bermondsey councillor Ada Salter, who became London’s first female mayor and planted thousands of trees. Her motto, “fresh air and fun”, has been informally adopted by DeptfordFolk, who came up with their own tree-planting campaign – a project to plant 200 trees in the Evelyn ward by 2018. The ward has the lowest number of trees and the worst air quality in Lewisham. The plan would no doubt have appealed to the ward’s namesake, 17th century writer and gardener John Evelyn, whose early treatise on air quality highlighted the importance of trees. This year marks two centuries since his diaries were published.
DeptfordFolk was established in 2015 in response to controversial plans to build an Astroturf pitch in Deptford Park. Chair Trina Lynskey tells us more about the award-winning group’s work to protect and enhance the area’s green spaces WORDS BY KATIE ALLEN
With the support of Lewisham Council, Glendale park management and Lewisham Homes, Evelyn200 invites people to suggest locations for trees or to fund their own. An online tree tracker shows where trees have been planted, with 100 in the ground already and the rest to follow this winter. The scheme has been celebrated over the summer with talks, theatre, art and activities for kids.
PHOTOS BY PAUL STAFFORD
Pictured top: July’s DeptfordFolk meeting Above: Folkestone Gardens pond, which they are set to restore
The first Evelyn200 tree was a field maple called Evelyn, funded by the council and planted in Deptford Park. The planting took place in November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Written two years after the Magna Carta, this revolutionary document set down rights for ordinary people to access woods, trees and grazing lands. It has since been renewed by the Woodland Trust as the Charter for Woods, Trees and People. “Our parks have been a site of protest, and a site of gathering, for centuries,” Trina says. “We have had the Chartists gathering in Kennington, women protesting for the right to vote in Hyde Park, we’ve got Speakers’ Corner. “These commons are where we go to make ourselves heard, and we want to take that to the streets as well. Let’s extend our commons out. Let’s not think of parks as within a boundary – let’s push the green space out. “Let’s make more space for people, let’s make places safer and greener, let’s address childhood health inequality through quality spaces to play. Let’s give everybody equal access to their common land by improving
the routes used to get there. It’s all very well to think of parks as an oasis, but actually, if you can’t get there, if there is a really busy road, or flytipping, if people don’t feel safe, they won’t come to that park and then they won’t be part of the community that’s developing there or already exists. “Organic networks of people develop in parks. The dog walkers, the families who use the fantastic Deptford Park Play Club, people using the gym or the pitches, the regular brunchers at Festa Sul Prato or the skateboarders. They’re all making our parks better. “I believe in the commons – because without the commons, community can’t exist. If people have nowhere to commune, they cannot form a community.” This sense of access and engagement is key to DeptfordFolk. They run dozens of free local activities, from Second Sunday Cycle Repair, which offers free bike maintenance and group cycle rides, to creative workshops for families, forest school for children, art shows, outdoor cinemas and theatre. Their hard work – from lobbying and campaigning to running events to researching and submitting grant applications – recently won them the mayor’s award for volunteering. DeptfordFolk has quarterly public meetings that are attended by about 30 to 40 people. The committee is elected each year and there are 12 people on it at present. It is open to everyone, “whether you’ve lived here for 50 years or 50 days”. The group has become an “umbrella” for anyone who wants to run their own projects, as Trina explains: “We’ve set it up to be an organisation to plug into. We’ve got a constitution, a community bank account, we have public meetings, public liability insurance, all the necessary bureaucracy. If someone comes to us and says, ‘I want to do this, how do I do it?’ we try to support them.” DeptfordFolk invites The Lewisham Ledger readers to join the mailing list, follow the group’s social media and come along to the events. Trina adds: “If you have ideas, bring them too. That’s how it’s happened: people have brought really good ideas.” And if you have a park near you that could be better, get involved.
26 DEP T F ORD S P ECI A L Pictured this page: children enjoy a day out in Deptford Creek Opposite: one of its inhabitants
eteran broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough recently called on the British public to stop squabbling over Brexit and count butterflies instead. He was speaking to Radio 4 in support of a national campaign to encourage people to spot and record online the different types of butterfly they come across. For Lewisham residents, Deptford Creek is a great place to start looking. In addition to numerous varieties of butterflies, the creek boasts a plethora of wildlife and has more than 300 species of wild flowers surviving in the river and in the surrounding conservation area. The Creekside Discovery Centre is responsible for the long-term management of the creek for people and wildlife. It also looks after the Sue Godfrey Nature Park on behalf of Lewisham Council. As well as carrying out essential conservation work, the centre, which launched 16 years ago, organises lowtide walks for schoolchildren as well as adult groups and members of the public. The walks focus on the River Ravensbourne and the tidal stretch where it flows into the Thames at Deptford Creek, taking in the plants, wildlife and ecology of the once heavily industrialised area. Today it’s a wonderfully tranquil space that is surrounded by plants and wildlife, which offers visitors the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without leaving inner London. Sophie Amos, a coordinator at the centre, says the creek is one of London’s best-kept secrets. “We take up to 35 members of the public on this walk through Deptford Creek
Walk on the
WILDSIDE WORDS BY SEAMUS HASSON
A large-scale clean-up of Deptford Creek in 2001 saw 200 shopping trolleys removed from its waters. Today the Creekside Discovery Centre leads regular low-tide walks along the waterway, allowing children and adults to enjoy an amazing array of urban wildlife
so people get to experience urban wildlife,” she says. “A lot of people have misconceptions about the river and the Thames – they think it’s dirty and when they come into the creek they look at all the mud, when actually that’s just the sediment coming in with the tide. The river is probably the cleanest it’s ever been.” The centre provides waders, a walking stick and raincoat if necessary to those taking part. Its guides are all trained in first aid and the highest standards of health and safety are applied. The walks are led by Nick Bertrand, the centre’s conservationist, who has worked in nature conservation in inner London for more than 30 years. Two further members of the team deliver education sessions. A large part of the centre’s purpose is to organise walks for schoolchildren. There’s a pond with disability access where people can cast a net to find small fish – mainly sticklebacks. The pond is also home to newts, frogs, toads, water boatmen and pondskaters. One of the most fascinating discoveries I make during my visit to the centre is that eels arrive at the creek from the West Indies, travelling on ocean currents. At three to four years old they’re still tiny and can live for 60 or 70 years. “We do environmental education, which is part of the school curriculum,” says Sophie. “We bring young schoolchildren from year two into the creek and have more than 5,000 schoolchildren a year visiting us from 10 London boroughs. “Predominantly they’re from Lewisham and Greenwich, but increasingly we get schools from Camden and Wandsworth because it’s such a unique thing to do. While so
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many children now are about screen time, we’re all about green time, which I think is important. “It’s practical learning out of the classroom as well. If you’re explaining something like high tide to a child, you cannot explain it better than coming to visit this place, walking in it and then leaving and seeing it four metres higher.” A number of unusual as well as everyday objects that have been salvaged from the creek are displayed inside the centre. Ancient artefacts are exhibited alongside animal bones from the old slaughterhouse that once stood on its banks. Other items that have been discovered include old Nokias, fragments of ceramic pots, a candelabra, video tapes, golf balls, laptops and PlayStation controllers to name but a few. It’s a fascinating and eclectic blend to say the least.
While many children now are about screen time, we're all about green time
While the centre carries out important conservation work, some of its endeavours have been more successful than others. In 2001, as part of the Deptford Single Regeneration Budget, a huge effort was made to clean up the creek and open up the walkways to the community. As part of the clean-up operation, 200 shopping trolleys were removed from the water. It was later discovered that the trolleys had acted as the perfect hideout for small fish being pursued by larger, hungry predators. The result was a depletion in the numbers of smaller fish surviving in the river. However, many other projects, such as a swan-breeding programme on the creek to name but one, have been much more successful. Sophie joined the centre in September last year, after many years working in international development
and the charity sector. She says she was attracted to the role having grown up on a farm and seeing first hand the effects that careless acts can have on biodiversity. “I wanted to move into working more locally when this opportunity came up,” she explains. “It has really opened my eyes to the fact that urban conservation is there and it does exist. “People think that you have to go out into the countryside to carry out conservation, but actually you don’t – there are small communities of plants and animals surviving in our cities. “People don’t realise wildlife is all around them in London and it is accessible. It could be right on your street corner.” For full listings of low-tide walks and summer holiday family activities at the Creekside Discovery Centre, visit creeksidecentre.org.uk/events
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A BUYER’S MARKET Once described as the capital’s most diverse and vibrant high street, Deptford Market is one of south-east London’s best places to shop. From carpets, clothing and beauty products to household goods, electronics and knick-knacks, you can find it all here WORDS BY GARTH CARTWRIGHT
eptford Market is considered to be one of London’s liveliest street markets. In 2005, the high street was described as “the capital’s most diverse and vibrant high street” by the Yellow Pages business directory, using a unique mathematical formula. On a Wednesday morning Deptford Market is busy. The stalls begin just below the anchor at the top end of the high street, selling new clothes, fruit, fish, meat and takeaway food. A vintage Levis stall sits opposite another selling African shirts and
A trader and his stall at Deptford Market
PHOTOS BY JOHN YABRIFA
dresses, while the market’s largest stall sells new carpets and lino. Others offer bedding, T-shirts for £1, religious tracts, wigs, beauty products, secondhand goods and much else. The market originally served as a trading place for foreign cattle and sheep, which were sold mostly to Smithfield meat market. The cattle market closed in 1913 and the market traders were moved to Douglas Way in 1921. Deptford was once noted for its rag and bone men, who would take their horse and carts out to scour for used items they could resell. It was
the birthplace of the rag and bottle, or “marine store”, as noted by Edward Walford in his 1878 book Old and New London: Volume 6. I can recall the last of the rag and bone men, London’s original recyclers, trekking through the estates of southeast London. They could still be seen on occasion up until about 25 years ago. In recent times the rise in consumer spending – accompanied by the widespread availability of cheap electrical and household goods – finally saw off London’s Steptoes. But Deptford Market is full of stock that
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Harry H Corbettâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s character would have been happy to trade in. Douglas Way, the pedestrian area off Deptford High Street, starts with a fruit stall, a plant stall and a longserving household goods (light bulbs, rat traps, plugs and so on) stall, then becomes a gloriously overloaded mix of secondhand goods and hidden treasures. Here is where bargain hunters and record collectors flock early on a Wednesday to see what they can find. As for everybody else, well, this is a place to sift through everything from used furniture and laptops to sewing machines, irons and stereo gear. There are baseball caps, handbags, workwear, kitchen utensils, tobacco tins, DVDs, videos, bike parts, decorative knick-knacks, all kinds
Deptford was the birthplace of the rag and bottle shop, or marine store
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Pictured above and left: traders and shoppers from Deptford Market
of used clothing and pretty much anything else you can think of. Three young people inspect a stash of 12-inch 45s, while Plot Coffee does a brisk trade serving espressos and lattes to those needing a pick-me-up after some serious crate-digging. Supermarkets and pound shops have decimated markets across the UK as people cease the centuriesold habit of shopping outdoors. But Deptford Market is the antithesis of our increasingly homogeneous high streets. It remains a remarkable place to shop and browse. The market today reflects how this part of London has gone from a predominantly white English community to a polyglot population that encompasses people from across the globe â&#x20AC;&#x201C; African, Jamaican, Asian and Eastern European traders all man stalls here. Things continue to change around the market. Right behind Douglas Way is Deptford Market Yard, which is home to a variety of new independent shops, cafes, creative spaces and restaurants. The general consensus among the market traders I spoke to was that as long as they are allowed to continue trading and are not forced out, both the new and old Deptford retailers can survive alongside each another. And survive is something Deptford Market is adept at.
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There's all sorts going on in Deptford – it's a wonderful community
hen brothers Archie and Louis Village began setting up a microbrewery in late 2016, there was only one place they wanted to do it. “Deptford has the pace of life that we both love,” Archie says. “There’s all sorts going on, there’s conversations everywhere, it’s just a wonderful community around here. “I know I brew better beers by having a good community around me while listening to good music. The numbers will be the same but I know the beer tastes better. I don’t know why. Metaphysics, perhaps.” It’s mid-week when I call in at Villages and the taproom furniture (the brewery opens to the public at weekends) has been stored away to make space for a forklift truck. They’re expecting a delivery of two new fermentation vessels the following day. “It does get busy in here at weekends,” says Louis. “It contributes about 10% of our turnover but it’s a much bigger part of what we do. It’s kind of an embodiment of how we enjoy drinking and hanging out with friends.” “The best thing about this place is that when we opened, we had no idea who we’d be getting in and it’s a total mix every weekend,” Archie adds. “We get students from Goldsmiths and locals who have been living in Deptford for the past 60 or 70 years, which is brilliant.” Before opening Villages, Archie dabbled in different careers – property sales in Dubai, carpentry in Brixton and travel journalism. After working in a few breweries in London and Kent, he obtained a master’s in brewing from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Louis went to art school and worked as a designer before relocating to California, where he set up a studio. “When I moved back to London, Archie was working in brewing and
people Archie and Louis Village launched their Deptford microbrewery in 2016 and have spent hours crafting the perfect pint. The brothers explain why the business is a true labour of love WORDS BY SEAMUS HASSON
PHOTO BY LIMA CHARLIE
he said to me, ‘I think it will suit you,’” he says. The two then worked together at the London Beer Factory in West Norwood, which for Louis, was an invaluable apprenticeship. Today Archie focuses on producing the beer and Louis works on other areas of the business. Does running a brewery fulfil his artistic instincts? “Running a business, you really pin down your values about life and lots of different things, not just beer,” Louis says. “You try to imbue the space, the people, the product and everything else with your own personal
Pictured above: the Village brothers in their Deptford microbrewery
expression. It’s the most creative thing I’ve ever done.” The brothers’ passion for brewing is palpable. “We’ve put so much time personally into this,” says Louis. “Yesterday for example, Archie started at 6.30am and we finished our canning run at midnight. That was working non-stop. And that has been a weekly occurrence now for two years.” Villages produces a core range of three beers. Whistle is a Pilsner, which at 4.3%, is “not your traditional Czech Pilsner”, Archie says. “There’s a little bit more sweetness, a few more floral notes to it from our increased hop editions.” Then there’s their pale ale, Rodeo, as well as a session IPA called Rafiki. “It’s made how we like our IPAs but lower strength,” Archie explains. “It’s got a great mull character to it, some caramel sweetness as well as the piney, resinous notes from one of the hops that we use. It’s also complemented with some more tropical notes.” Villages also brew seasonal beers. “One of the new fermentation vessels arriving tomorrow will be dedicated to doing seasonal and experimental oneoff brews,” Archie says. “We should be bringing out a lot more variety soon, which we’re really excited about.” When the duo had raised enough capital to start the business – “our investors are basically all family or old school mates”, says Archie – they started buying equipment, some of which came from Gipsy Hill Brewing Company, where Louis was working at the time. “When we were setting up, they were expanding,” Louis says. “It shows the goodwill in the industry that one of their employees was leaving but they were happy to pass on the equipment.” While independent brewing has enjoyed a period of rapid growth in recent times, its existence is threatened by the larger
conglomerates. In the week I speak to Archie and Louis, news has reached them that two local independent breweries have sold their shares. It’s something that conflicts with the brothers’ ethos. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens over the next few years because we’ve seen a number of breweries either sell out entirely or sell part of their business to larger breweries,” Archie says. “It’s quite upsetting in some regards because this exploration into what beer can actually be, pushing the boundaries of flavour and really experimenting with it has been in response to the long period of macro, fairly tasteless production of beer, where the people making it were really just focusing on financial profit over flavour. People are choosing to buy this product not just because they like the beer but also because it’s independent. There’s a little bit of sticking it to the man.” “For us, financial profit is as low down on the priorities list as possible,” Louis adds. “We care more about the product obviously, but also the people who work here, the environment and the community that’s around the brewery.” Louis describes the rise of independent breweries as a “grassroots movement” and says it’s something that large breweries find difficult to deal with. “On a micro level, this industry that we’re involved in is based on community, so the bottle shops are run by individuals who really care about beer,” he says. “They’ve got their fingers on the pulse – they know where it comes from and they know the people who make it. “Even though they’re few and far between, they actually inform the pub managers who buy the beer because they really care about flavours. It kind of percolates into the culture in that way.” Corporate takeovers aside, Archie and Louis couldn’t be happier to be working in the industry. They have recently taken on a member of staff, Olly, who has delighted the brothers with his knowledge. “Up until two weeks ago it’s just been Archie and me running this,” Louis says. “We’ve been doing it all – the brewing, the packaging, the sales and distribution, the marketing, the accounts, everything.” “Brewing is very labour intensive so having Olly here has been fantastic,” adds Archie. “He’s full of ideas, he’s got a lot of experience and it’s just been an absolute pleasure working with him. It’s another brain to add to the creative solution.”
32 LEWI S H AM L EG E N D
With its bright paint, unusual plasterwork and front garden overflowing with flowers, the home of the late Lewisham resident Mr Pink was a much-loved local landmark. Helena Appio tells how she came to make a short film about its owner
hen I was young, growing up in Lewisham, there was one place that was so mind-bogglingly exotic, so other-worldly, that every time I passed it I could only stare in silent wonder. It turns out that I was not alone. Countless numbers of people – and maybe you’re one of them – have gone past and wondered. All except one person, that is. Helena Appio stopped and knocked on the door. Close to the top of Loampit Hill, on the corner of Somerset Gardens, stands a house quite unlike any other in the neighbourhood. It is a large, red-brick Victorian mansion. It has a flight of stone steps up to the front door in front of which is an ample porch, its stone roof supported by several sturdy columns. So far, so standard-issue. But then the eye is caught by the corner tower, which rises a full storey above the rest of the house and things take a different turn. You start to notice the plasterwork. It is as if a pastry chef, driven mad by years of decorating wedding cakes, has run amok with a giant piping bag full of liquid plaster. Swags of grape-laden vines are draped around the massive windows. Strange faces peer out from the foliage. A thousand flowers bloom under the eaves. Scrolls and twirls and curlicues run riot. Rococo would be one word for it. But what made this already remarkable house so utterly arresting was that someone had attacked the eccentric plasterwork with a paintbrush, a brush dipped in shades of pink and blue and green and red, which brought it to the fore in eyepopping detail. The same hand also painted the columns in vertical candy stripes and the steps to the front door a bright, pillar-box red. In monochrome 1970s Lewisham this house was full-on Technicolor. And the person who
A portrait of
WORDS BY COLIN RICHARDSON PHOTOS BY LIANNE HARRIS
mr pink Pictured right and below: Mr Pink at home and buying paint from his local shop
He started talking and he was very interesting, an amazing character
made it so was a truly extraordinary man by the name of Brenton Samuel Pink. In the late 1990s, Helena Appio, a producer and director of documentaries at the BBC, decided to strike out on her own as an independent filmmaker. Her first project, for Channel 4, was The Windrush Years, 12 three-minute portraits of people who came from the Caribbean to the UK between 1948 and 1971. Then she saw the Arts Council was inviting submissions for short films about local artists and she wondered who might fit the bill. “At that point,” Helena recalls, “I was living in Brockley, in Montague Avenue, and Mr Pink lived literally minutes away. I passed his house every day and I thought, ‘Who lives here?’ so I knocked on the door. “He opened the door about two inches wide and peered out and said hello. I said, ‘I wonder if I could talk to you about making a film’, and he said, ‘Come back in a week or so.’ “I went back and took a bottle of rum with me. He opened the door a little wider this time and took the rum and said to come back later. I went
back a third time and he let me in. He started talking and I realised he was very interesting, an amazing character. Then we went back and filmed.” The result is a touching and, at times, elegiac 15-minute film, A Portrait of Mr Pink. In it, Mr P explains that he was born in Jamaica in 1925 and came to the UK on July 11,
1957, just shy of his 32nd birthday. He had already established himself as a singer and musician, but although he continued to perform and make recordings, he spent his working life as a refuse collector and street cleaner for Lewisham Council. He loved his job, he says in the film. On the day that he retired – August
TH E LE WI S H A M L E DG E R
LEWIS HAM LEGEND 33
A U G U ST/SE PT E MBE R 201 8
Pictured below: Mr Pink chiselled down the large plaster face on his front porch and painted its long tresses sea green
28, 1988 (he is very precise about dates) – he was, he says, “very upset, terribly upset. If I was younger,” he adds, laughing, “I’d go back there right away, right away.” Mr Pink bought the house on Loampit Hill in 1967 and lived there until he died last year. He seems to have shared it with his wife and eight children, most of whom had left by the time the film was made. He devoted much of his time to putting his stamp on the place. “I like beauty and I like prettiness,” he says in the film. “When I just bought it, well, it was not beautiful. But since I take it over and added myself towards it, I developed it to have a lightness. My additions make a difference, brighten it up. “I’ve created a part of Jamaica here. Some like this house and some may not like it, I don’t know. But I know a lot of people like it and I like it myself.” In the film, Mr Pink points proudly at a large plaster face, with long, flowing tresses, which adorns the front of the porch. He thought it ugly, so he set about “prettying it up and chiselling it down”. He painted the face a pinky brown, the tresses sea green like seaweed and
added a blue moustache and beard. “It looks like Jesus,” he says approvingly. He continued the religious theme inside, where the colour scheme was, if anything, even more startling. A framed copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper was hung on a mustard yellow wall. Wonky plaster mouldings had been applied to the
Pictured above and far left: decorations from Mr Pink's former home on Loampit Hill
bedroom walls by Mr P’s very own trowel, creating an intricate and slightly bonkers latticework, the spaces in between painted with bright colours so that the whole resembled a somewhat woozy stained-glass window. Outside, Mr Pink created a beautiful garden that was intended as a reminder of Jamaica. He was often seen tending to it while wearing one of his many hats. “I always wear a hat,” says Mr Pink to camera. “It makes me feel good and feel lovely.” Mr Pink created his dream of Jamaica against a less than dreamy backdrop. In 1977, riots broke out on Lewisham High Street when a march by the racist National Front (NF) was confronted by the Anti-Nazi League. In local elections that year for the Greater London Council, the NF took a third of the vote in Lewisham. The following year, Mr Pink himself, returning from a “fantastic” holiday in Jamaica, was detained for some hours at Heathrow airport. “It made me feel very sick, very dirty, very nasty, very ugly, not a pretty, happy person at the time at all,” he says in the film. He never went abroad again.
And while, arguably, Lewisham and the UK have changed for the better in so many ways since then, for people of the Windrush generation like Mr Pink, it seems much has stayed the same. Today, a year after Mr Pink’s death, his house is a shadow of its former glorious self. The colours have faded, the paint is peeling, the garden is unkempt. Jesus has lost his blue moustache and beard and now looks more like Ann Widdecombe. There is something of Bates Motel about the place; it is more English gothic than Caribbean rococo. For all that, it remains an arresting sight. People still stop and look and wonder. The magic that Mr Pink wove has not entirely dissipated. Earlier this year, Helena was contacted by two people who had heard about her film and were interested in seeing it. So she posted it on Facebook “in memory of Mr Pink, who died last year”. The film went viral and has been viewed about 530,000 times to date. “It had obviously touched people,” Helena says. “It was really lovely.” Watch A Portrait of Mr Pink at tinyurl.com/mrpinkfilm
34 LEWI S H AM L E I SU R E
SOMETHING TO EAT Hank’s barbecue burger
Add some sizzle to your summer with this simple recipe for homemade burgers Using wet hands, shape the mixture into six burger patties (roughly 160g). 4 Heat a griddle pan or barbecue to hot. Brush both sides of the burgers with oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for two to three minutes each side (medium) or until well browned and cooked to your liking.
Ingredients (makes six burgers) 1 small onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1kg good-quality beef mince (ask your butcher for 15-20% fat) 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 large free-range egg yolk 6 seeded burger buns or brioche buns 6 American burger cheese slices 1 iceberg lettuce, shredded 1 large dill pickle gherkin, sliced 4 tbsp tomato ketchup 2 tsp French’s American mustard 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper
5 Meanwhile, place the burger buns cut-side down on your griddle or barbecue and toast lightly. 6 Just before the burgers have finished cooking, lay the cheese slices on top and allow to melt. This should take roughly 30 seconds.
Method 1 Place the finely chopped onion and garlic into a frying pan with one teaspoon of olive oil. Cook on a
CROSSWORD NO. 2
low heat for about five minutes until softened. 2 Put the beef mince, onion, garlic, Dijon mustard,
3 Cover and chill in the fridge for one hour.
8 Serve with a small bowl of fries, ketchup and mayonnaise, if you like.
1 Across is where you might end up in Deptford but wouldn’t want to be!
1 CEEEHKPRTU (anagram) (2,3,5) 8 Possess (3) 10 Lie back (7) 11 Evita’s last name (5) 13 Tree’s “juice” (3) 14 Injecting device (7) 15 Enigma (7) 18 Weep (3) 20 Doctor’s solemn promise (11,4) 22 Atmosphere (3) 24 Party giver (7) 25 Very soon (7) 26 However (3) 29 ____ Welles, Hollywood legend (5) 30 German measles (7) 31 Spoil (3) 32 Loaf cutter (5,5)
2 Agreement (4) 3 Frozen rain (4) 4 Corny (6) 5 Dominion (6) 6 Bless (10) 7 Victory (7) 9 Something a baby wears (5) 12 Loots (8) 16 Large shop (10) 17 Huge (8) 19 Candle substance (3) 21 Sack material (7) 22 Book of photos (5) 23 Way of standing (6) 24 Genetic cross (6) 27 Port in western Scotland (4) 28 Musical symbol (4)
44 44 44
Worcestershire sauce and egg into a large bowl and mix well.
7 To assemble, lay the shredded lettuce on the bottom part of the toasted bun, then add two dill pickle slices, ketchup and American mustard in that order. Lay the burger on top followed by the top of the bun.
LEWISHAM'S HISTORY THE JOHN EVELYN The John Evelyn pub once stood at 299 Evelyn Street in Deptford. It was named after the writer, gardener, diarist and former local resident John Evelyn, who settled at Sayes Court (now demolished) with his wife Mary after securing a lease from Charles II in 1663. The John Evelyn pub sadly served its last orders in late 2010 and was turned into a Paddy Power, despite protests from the local community. In a letter
published by blogger Deptford Dame, former customer Chris said the pub provided “a large community hub” and a “safe haven” for senior citizens. He added: “[It was] not only a meeting place for funerals, weddings, anniversaries etc, but was used by a wide range of the local community as a place to unwind and catch up on local news and gossip.” Thanks to Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre for the image.
A FAMOUS LOCAL DANNY BAKER Broadcaster, raconteur and comedy writer Danny Baker was born in Deptford in 1957 to Fred “Spud” Baker, a dockworker, and Betty, a factory worker. He went to Rotherhithe Primary School then West Greenwich Secondary Boys’ School. In 1977 he began writing for monthly punk zine Sniffin’ Glue, which was founded by an old schoolfriend. He then joined the New Musical Express as a receptionist, but soon began contributing articles and interviews. He began his TV career in 1980 with a
BY PETER RHODES
Hank’s is a new burger and beer bar in Deptford from the team behind Hank’s Street Food, an American-influenced market stall. Owned by Simon Drake and Vic Thake, it has a short burger menu with something for everyone, from meat and fish eaters to vegetarians and vegans.
series of documentaries about youth culture in London, before joining The Six O’Clock Show as a roving reporter and presenter. He has worked extensively in radio and today presents The Danny Baker Show on BBC Radio 5 Live.
ACROSS: 1 Up the creek, 8 Own, 10 Recline, 11 Perón, 13 Sap, 14 Syringe,15 Mystery, 18 Cry, 20 Hippocratic oath, 22 Air, 24 Hostess, 25 Shortly, 26 But, 29 Orson, 30 Rubella, 31 Mar, 32 Bread knife. DOWN: 2 Pact, 3 Hail, 4 Cheesy, 5 Empire, 6 Consecrate, 7 Triumph, 9 Nappy, 12 Ransacks, 16 Superstore, 17 Enormous, 19 Wax, 21 Hessian, 22 Album, 23 Stance, 24 Hybrid, 27 Oban, 28 Clef.