Bermondsey Biscuit & Rotherhithe Docker - Winter 2021

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Winter 2021


Issue 10

winter 2021

A thank you to our sponsors We'd like to acknowledge all our sponsors and supporters for helping us bring the

Bermondsey Biscuit and

Rotherhithe Docker to life.



winter 2021



About us Laura Burgoine


e’ve been based in the old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey since 1994. Our flagship publication, the Southwark News launched in 1987 and is now London’s only independent, paid for newspaper. We created the Bermondsey Biscuit and Rotherhithe Docker in 2018 with support from sponsors including Sellar, Grosvenor, British Land, F.A. Albins and many other local businesses.

We also publish the South Londoner each month, and the Greenwich and Lewisham Weekender every week. We are proud to be a London Living Wage employer. We use 100% recovered paper from the Ortviken paper mill in Sweden, a green energy provider who use biofuel instead of oil and provide heat for 10,000 single family homes.


About us Editor Writers Design Marketing Media partnerships Finance Managing Directors

Laura Burgoine Michael Holland, Debra Gosling Lizzy Tweedale, Dan Martin, Aurelio Medina Tammy Jukes, Clarry Frewin, Sophie Ali, Katie Boyd Anthony Phillips Emrah Zeki Chris Mullany, Kevin Quinn

Contact us Email Phone 020 7231 5258 Facebook BermondseyBiscuit Instagram @bermondseybiscuit Website fe Print Printed by Ilif Published by Southwark Newspaper Ltd

Our spring issue hits the streets in February. Contact us to get involved

Going out, out South London characters at


the Young Vic, a Mayflower concert for Thanksgiving & more

People Rotherhithe man on a mission Robert Hulse’s


A well-staged Christmas Pantos, plays and


Food and Drink Where to go out this silly season &


Memory Lane Southwark Helping Hands founder Vera Keech


15-year journey back in time creating the Brunel Museum Dickensian delights

Christmas dinner all wrapped up

grew up tap dancing on dustbins and has done everything from dress-making, to working in the Dock Offices, to living in a convent in Sri Lanka


Looking back on Abbey Street’s Star & Garter pub and Star Music Hall: a social hub for all the dockers, tanners and factory workers in Bermondsey




11am to 3pm, Saturdays and Sundays FROM 1 NOVEMBER TO 31 MARCH

General Admission: £6 Child/Concessions: £4 Family Ticket: £10 Visit for opening days and times Connect with us: BrunelMuseum @Brunel_Museum Brunel Museum Railway Avenue London, SE16 4LF

South Londoner/Bermondsey Biscuit – 24&19 November – quarter page – 146mm by 120mm

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CHRISTMAS TRADING HOURS Open midnight to 7am, Monday 13th to Friday 24th December, including Saturday & Sunday, then 29th to 31st December. Nearest Underground stations — Farringdon or Barbican.

Free car parking for customers in the West Smithfield car park, EC1A 9DS 12th to 24th December between 9pm and 10am the following day.

The Market is closed 25th to 28th December and 1st to 3rd January. SMTA, 225 Central Markets, EC1A 9LH tel: 020 7248 3151 e: BSH_BermondseyBiscuit_FinalAW_211102.indd 1

02/11/2021 15:00:40

winter 2021

Going out, out


ver since Prince Albert hung candles on a tree and Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, we have associated Christmas with the Victorians. But how much of our modern Christmas tradition do we owe to the Victorians? And how much have things changed? This was the basis of a project at the Brunel Museum last winter with Albion Primary School and residents from a local care home. Originally planned to take place in person, the disruption caused by the last-minute lockdown meant the Museum had to find a way to make the project work remotely. Luckily Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his sister Sophia were in the ‘hood and were able to drop by the primary school to help pupils come up with questions, which they filmed. The museum invited the care home residents to film their responses to the questions, reflecting on their memories of Christmas. Feedback from the care home residents was overwhelmingly positive: “How lovely it is to have the chance to talk and tell children about what life was like for me at Christmas when I was little,” said Joan. “I want to make everyone

Celebrate with the Victorian Ghosts of Christmas past

mince pies when we can meet together at last - I don’t care if it is July!” said Thora. These filmed questions and answers formed the basis of a film, intercut with Isambard and Sophia’s father (and architect of the Thames Tunnel) Marc’s own reminiscences of his Christmases with Isambard and Sophia, including the roots of many of the treasured traditions we take for granted and which originated in his time. So what was Christmas like for the Brunels? While a lot of the traditions we associated with Christmas originated in Victorian times, it was still more of a religious festival than it is today. Work didn’t always stop like it does for most people today. Indeed, in 1825, work on the Thames Tunnel continued on Christmas Day. Even the spirit of goodwill to all men hadn’t quite taken root, as one poor worker, known only as Joseph, got a warning on Christmas Eve! You might even be forgiven for thinking of Marc Brunel as a bit of a Scrooge, working all hours on the Thames Tunnel. A few years later in his diary he writes, “Being Christmas Day nothing material(ised?)” and records “nothing very interesting” on Boxing Day. After the past 18 months however, the Brunel Museum’s team thinks everyone deserves a break, which is why they’ve got plenty on for everyone this festive season at the museum. For full listings, visit: https://www The Brunel Museum is at Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF. Phone: 020 7231 3840.

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going out, out

winter 2021

The character of south London takes centre stage at Young Vic


oung Vic Associate company, Crying In The Wilderness - founded by playwright and director Paul Morris - is bringing its debut production Conundrum to the Young Vic’s Maria Theatre in January 2022. Morris describes the company’s performative style as ‘theatre of the soul’ and with this in mind, Conundrum digs deep into the human condition, as audiences meet central character Fidel - who has much on his mind. A first-generation Black Briton, Fidel is played by Anthony Ofoegbu, whose many stage and screen credits include a recent tour of Barber Shop Chronicles around the UK, US and Canada. Prompted by old diary entries, Fidel conducts a personal life review to identify his greatest challenges. Possessing an unusually high IQ and initially finding fault with society, he becomes alarmed as he realises that he too, is to some extent responsible for undermining his own wellbeing. Perplexed by this conundrum, Fidel embarks on a reflective journey seeking answers to life’s eternal questions: “Who am I and why am I here?” Says Paul Morris: “Born and raised in south London, my character Fidel is an amalgamation of people I have known and observed in places like Bermondsey, Brixton, Deptford, Peckham and Lewisham. The cultural retentions of these communities are both elaborate and mythic and serve in this evocative drama, to pay homage to some of the personalities occupying these spaces. “Conundrum is a distinctive piece in that it covers a whole lifetime of experiences within a 24-hour period. Its central character, Fidel, is a

Anna Goodman

metaphor for a generation, one that has learnt to be both robust and inventive. What we come to experience through Fidel’s narrative, is that the past, the present and the future are not fixed and can be manipulated by the way we choose to remember our memories. Oscar Wilde said ‘memory is the diary we all carry about with us’, however the relationship that we choose to have with our memories can make them either ally or foe.” Anthony Ofoegbu has been instrumental in bringing Fidel to life and is a long-time Crying In The Wilderness Productions collaborator, working with Paul Morris to develop the complex but exuberant character. Fidel is embodied by Ofoegbu with his signature physical and vocal dexterity. “Playing Fidel will be a tremendous undertaking”, he says. “Not only will it nourish me as an actor, but also we hope nourish the audience coming to share the experience of his story.” Artistic Director of the Young Vic, Kwame Kwei-Armah, said: “I am delighted that Crying In The Wilderness Productions are finally getting to bring their debut piece to our stage, having been delayed by the pandemic. The show’s introspective and philosophical nature asks urgent questions that we as a country are grappling with – arguably more than ever before.” Conundrum by Crying In The Wilderness Productions runs at the Young Vic Maria Theatre from 14 January – 4 February 2022. Tickets are now on sale via conundrum-2022 or phone : 020 7922 2922

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winter 2021

Going out, out

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris

New radicals at Ugly Duck in Tanner Street

Engage Katherine Blackler to help you to consciously create a calm, welcoming and organised space to live or work in 3 key steps Declutter your physical space We’ll tackle the jobs you’ve been hiding from; whether it’s organising one cupboard, one room or the entire house.

Laura Burgoine

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ollowing an extensive callout for exciting, interdisciplinary LGBTQI+ performers, Ugly Duck presents @Disturbance, an evening showcase of radical international artists. in SE1. @Disturbance has been programmed with both live and digital viewers in mind by Ugly Duck’s in-house panel of producers, artists and curators.

We’ll create systems and processes that work for you and your family. We’ll optimise your space by devising space-saving storage products or display solutions.

Redesign your head space By focussing mindfully on redesigning your environment, you can gain clarity on what’s important in your life and what you can let go of.

Performances from Anthedemos, Nwakke, Puer Decorum and Kelvin Atmadibrata will be staged and livestreamed alongside video screenings and digital art from Laura Lynes with Billy Leach, Llewellyn Mngun and Jake Wood. This programme is being supported by Arts Council England and audiences can either attend in person or watch the livestream from anywhere in the world. The Ugly Duck organisation is known for repurposing unused London spaces as well as supporting underrepresented voices and groups within the arts. Established in October 2012, they have converted a spacious, empty Victorian warehouse in SE1 into a busy creative space which became, and still is, home to countless rising and established artists.

Get in touch today: 07914 612531 | @sortmyspaceuk

Ugly Duck presents @Disturbance on 30th November from 7pm-10pm at Ugly Duck, 49 Tanner Street, SE1 3PL. Tickets: £3-£8

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1 4 NOV – 31 DEC Written and adapted for the stage by Julian Clary Songs by Julian Clary and Simon Wallace Arrangements and incidental music by Simon Wallace

A Unicorn Theatre Production | The Bolds is generously supported by Charles Holloway

Directed by Lee Lyford

winter 2021


Designer/makers win four-month studio residency at Oxo Tower Wharf


he founders of a genderless knitwear brand, along with a craft and design duo are the winners of Oxo Tower Wharf and ARTSTHREAD’S Graduate Residency Programme. Freya Grötecke and Julia Forslund are the creators of genderless knitwear brand Ecke Faei and Monica Tong and Wai Yan Choi, are a craft and design duo specialising in ceramics, jewellery and glass. Oxo Tower Wharf has partnered with ARTSTHREAD to launch the Graduate Residency Programme where two designer/makers are offered a complimentary studio residency for a four month period between September - December 2021 in the heart of London at the iconic Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank. The programme is supported by the Cultural Recovery Fund. The aim of the residency is to support emerging designers in launching their studios with a space to work, showcase their creativity and sell in the heart of London. Oxo Tower Wharf partnered with ARTSTHREAD who, for over 12 years, have supported and nurtured a future generation of creative graduates, providing opportunities that help students gain employment or launch their own

brands. Ecke Faei was created during the 2020 lockdown by Freya Grötecke and Julia Forslund, who both met whilst attending Kingston School of Art. Drawing from their shared backgrounds, the duo design fragile knitwear pieces for all sizes and gender identities. They aim to create slow fashion that subverts the ideas of working-class aesthetics and get to celebrate where they come from in a high fashion world. Having graduated in summer 2021, Freya and Julia are taking Ecke Faei from strength to strength, garnering the attention of celebrity stylists and securing press coverage from the likes of i-D and TMRW Magazine. Monica Tong and Wai Yan Choi also graduated in summer 2021, both from Royal College of Art’s Ceramic and Glass department. “We would like to use the space to work collaboratively by incorporating different materials into our design, hosting skill- share workshops, as well as pop up exhibitions. By taking on further experiments and collaborations with other artists as well as showcasing our working process with the possibility of gaining instant feedback from the market, we can carry on

working in the momentum after graduation,” the artists said. Design Curator of Oxo Tower Wharf Sophie Cain said: “The aim of the residencies is to support emerging designers to launch their studios with a space to work, showcase and sell in the heart of cultural London. Setting these graduates up in studios amongst our existing creative community of designer-makers and small businesses will be mutually beneficial and we’re hoping to see collaborations and new ideas develop as a result. “We had so many brilliant applications and although it was tough to narrow it down, we are delighted with our selected residents and I’m really excited to see what they do with their spaces.” The initiative comes at a pivotal time for Oxo


Tower Wharf as they re-focus on craft and design, seeking talented makers to join them, with studios now available. The iconic riverside building provides a unique opportunity for makers to have a studio and showroom, along with the added bonus of open door to the public too. It also comes at an important time for ARTSTHREAD as they prepare the announcement of the winners for the Global Design Graduate Show 2021 edition in collaboration with Gucci. Read more at: Visit Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH. Phone: 020 7021 1600


AUTUMN winter 2021

A musical tribute to the Mayflower for Thanksgiving


fter two sold out performances at St Mary’s in Rotherhithe, 400 years since the very first Thanksgiving meal shared by Wampanoag Native Americans and the people who had crossed the seas in treacherous conditions a year before, Rotherhithe’s TunedIn London presents Memories of the Mayflower. The concert is composed and performed by talented duo One Voice, One Cello and a Mad Belgian, and will be performed in the Dutch Church whose history goes back to 1550, from where stems a tradition of reciprocal provision of refuge in times of persecution. In 1620, Holland had become a place of refuge for Separatists (“Brownists”) escaping persecution in England, just as Protestants in Holland had been finding refuge in England and had been granted this place to worship from the year 1550.

The City of London is where much of the finance for the endeavour of the Mayflower’s voyage came from. The voyagers on the Mayflower Ship, made up of religious separatists (most boarded after travelling from Holland where they’d lived for ten years), crew and fairer-fortune seekers, owed their survival on arrival in America to the willingness of the Wampanoag people to show them how to grow crops. This performance sets the scene as we slip into the shoes of those migrating adventurers, whose arrival on American shores led to such a significant impact on the indigenous people already there and on those who were to follow. This unique collaboration between British cellist Rupert Gillett and Belgian soprano saxophonist and melodeon player Jennifer El

Gammal, both folk singers, jazz improvisers, chamber musicians and storytellers, delivers fabulous renditions with grace, wit and virtuosity. A Song Cycle that is enhanced by actor Nathan Osgood’s narration. Tuned In London in collaboration with the

A thrilling musical adventure for all the family

Dutch Church present: A Thanksgiving Special: Memories of the Mayflower by One Voice, One Cello and a Mad Belgian on Sunday 21 November at 3pm at the Dutch Church, 7, Austin Friars. Admission: Free. Reservation requested and donations gratefully received.


In partnership with Goblin Theatre

winter 2021

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winter 2021

Kingdom come Michael Holland

Actor, teacher, scholar and all-round adventurer Robert Hulse had just finished playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel when he moved to Rotherhithe and discovered the Brunel Engine House. He went on to create the beloved Brunel Museum as part of a 15-year journey back in time.




obert Hulse is well-known around Rotherhithe after founding and running the Brunel Museum for many years, but he hasn’t always lived in South East London; his journey here has been just as interesting as his revered Brunels’. Born in Chester and brought up in Yorkshire and Lancashire, Robert has always been interested in history and recalls his first and worst lesson as a 9-year-old. “It was called Dates!” he says, emphasising his negativity on “dates”. “History is not about dates. History is about stories. Excitement, fear and sadness. Empathy. Understanding what it was like for other people and why they did what they did, and in that process understanding ourselves.” That interest stayed with him though remained in the background while life happened. I asked about jobs he had done in the past and a list of adventures followed: sailing to the Arctic, Casablanca, Russia and the Holy Land; working on a farm, in a factory and as a footbridge inspector! That was all before university, and after his English degree at Oxford the young Hulse moved to London “to convert southerners,” he jokes. Following two years in an international bank, Robert changed his world completely by joining a community arts theatre group that toured the UK and Europe and often came to Southwark. Fully bitten by the acting bug, he was a founding member of BARC (British American Repertory Company) touring Britain and America before setting up a community theatre in the Near East where he taught theatre. Flying Farmyard came next - taking sheep and goats to schools in a purpose built lorry. “We taught children about spinning and weaving and making cheese and butter,” he explains. With all this teaching going on in one form or another, Robert went back to qualify as a teacher of Drama and English. “I also taught Film and Drama, Serious Comedy and Presentation and Communication at City University,” he adds as an afterthought. “And I did a Masters in Museum Studies at UCL.” I worked out that all this study and teaching was taking place alongside a burgeoning acting career that saw Robert playing Moses, Freud, D.H. Lawrence, Darwin, Pepys, Faraday, Brunel, Stephenson and Clarence Birdseye, while working at most of the capital’s major museums. So, what brought Mr Hulse to Rotherhithe? “Thirty years ago, my family needed somewhere bigger. My father-in-law told me of deals in Surrey Docks where there was over capacity in the housing market, and we immediately fell in love with the borough. I cannot imagine ever moving.” I ask how Robert came to be involved with Brunel and the Thames Tunnel? “On my first walk around the neighbourhood I found, quite by chance, the Brunel Engine House. The sign on the door said open first Sunday morning in the month.

I was astonished, not just because I had never heard of the place, but because by strange coincidence, I had just played Isambard Kingdom Brunel ‘in person’ at the Science Museum. I determined to come back…” And come back he did. Back to register the Engine House as The Brunel Museum and the rest, as they say, is (no pun intended) history. “We had no museum artefacts and no money,” says Robert, which meant borrowing items from other museums, along with advice. Grants were accessed to replace the leaking roof, build a classroom, toilets, a café and, along with local volunteers, turn the waste ground around Brunel’s shaft into a community garden. These days there are play schemes, sculptures, a mural, Brunel benches and a roof garden. The shaft is now open to the public for the first time in 150 years and is called the Grand Entrance Hall. “It is the oldest structure in the oldest underground system in the world and is now an underground concert hall and theatre,” Robert says with pride. The small museum has its own pieces now, and with the guided walks and boat tours Robert set up, visitor numbers rose. “When I first arrived,” begins the embodiment of Brunel himself, “the museum had a hundred visitors a year. When I left, the museum was open every day for 30,000 visitors a year. Year-on-year for fifteen

“The Brunel Engine House is the oldest structure in the oldest underground system in the world and is now an underground concert hall and theatre”


years I increased the revenue and visitor numbers.” Of course, with so many great ideas for the museum and its environs, it was impossible for them all to come true. “I lobbied hard for a river pier to make Rotherhithe a tourist destination… This did not come to fruition.” Robert Hulse has been a man on the move for most of his life, never willing to stop when there is so much life to live. In 2019, when the museum’s trustees chose a new direction he decided to move on too. But Robert’s new direction will not take him away from the Rotherhithe he loves, where his two daughters were raised. Now grown, they both live and work in Southwark; his wife, in the local health service. Robert bowed out to spend more time on his interests but left behind a great legacy of awards. Robert Hulse is part of Rotherhithe’s DNA now. He still organises local history trips and walks and is writing a book on Southwark that will be a must on anyone’s shelf to accompany the Brunel books he has already penned. And his daily Instagram, @ Allour_stories, is a joy to read. There are also hopes for a return to his early love of theatre, which would round this wonderful and interesting life off nicely. The Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF. Phone: 020 7231 3840.


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Ev en ts.

Christmas theatre

winter 2021

Best in

show Michael Holland

All the world’s a stage this festive season with a plethora of pantos, plays and mustsee productions

A Bourne identity for the Nutcracker A newly designed and reimagined production of Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker opens at Sadler’s Wells before departing on a UK tour. Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! features a cast of well-loved New Adventures stars with the citizens of Sweetieland performed by New Adventures’ dancers. With family-sized helpings of Bourne’s trademark wit, pathos and magical fantasy, Nutcracker! follows Clara’s bittersweet journey from a darkly comic Christmas Eve at Dr. Dross’Orphanage, through a shimmering, ice-skating winter wonderland to the scrumptious candy kingdom of Sweetieland, influenced by the lavish Hollywood musicals of the 1930s. Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Anthony Ward’s newly-refreshed delectable sets and costumes combine with Bourne’s dazzling choreography to create a fresh and charmingly irreverent interpretation of the classic. Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker is at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN from 7 December-30 January. Admission: £28 - £85.

Life of Pi Prepares for West End premiere Award winning playwright and actress Lolita Chakrabarti’s dazzling stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s award-winning book Life of Pi descends on the West End this festive season. For the first time ever, the historic Wyndham Theatre will be transformed to fully accommodate the magnificent elements of the production. After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat: a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan,  ©Johan



a 16-year-old boy and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive? The extraordinary animals are brought to life by Puppet and Movement Director Finn Caldwell, who began his career in the original company of the National Theatre’s international phenomenon War Horse. Life of Pi is at Wyndham Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DA from 15 November27 February. Admission: £15 - £127.50. Phone: 0844 482 5151.

Christmas theatre

Roll Up! Roll Up! The ring master is coming to town David Williamson is a giant in all that he does. He waves away the numerous awards received for his magic skills with a dismissive “if you hang around long enough they feel they have to give you something.” Circus 1903 has now toured all the continents and will be back for Christmas in London at the Southbank Centre. The Ring Master tells of how the show has recreated what circus was like in the early part of the 20th century, and of “hardcore, sixth generation circus acts who, with each generation, take the act further artistically and physically and now do it at a much higher level.” Circus 1903 looks like it will be quite a show again this year. Along with the world’s greatest puppet elephants, Queen and Peanut, will be the acrobats, The Russian Bar; The Daring Desafios; The Cycling Cyclone; The Elastic Dislocationist; The Flying Fredonis; Les Incredibles; The Great Gaston; The Sensational Sozonov; The Remarkable

Risleys and hula hoopist Mademoiselle Natalia. A gathering of greats that will amaze, captivate and transport audiences back to a Golden Age of circus. David says: “Our show is a theatrical circus and families may not be prepared for the emotional experience of it all because we tell the whole story of a circus coming to town… The first half you see us getting the big top ready and rehearsing and caring for the elephants, with little vignettes that give backstories to the performers, and you add this to the music and lights and it is a real theatrical experience, so people really get caught up in it. “In the second half, we do the circus with sideshow segments… It is thrilling, exciting, hilarious, a little scary, sweet, it’s touching, heartwarming and people leave the theatre buoyant.” Circus 1903 is at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX from 16 December- 2 January. Admission: £25- £85.Phone: 020 3879 9555.

Tony and Clive and Jack and the Beanstalk For the first time, Olivier-Award winner Clive Rowe and Hackney panto veteran Tony Whittle will co-direct and star in Hackney Empire’s 2021 pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. Both making their 14th pantomime appearance, Grande Dame Clive Rowe will star as Dame Daisy Trott while Tony Whittle will play Councillor Higginbottom. When happy-go-lucky Jack is tempted into selling his family’s beloved cow for a fistful of magic beans, he finds himself tangled in an adventure of epic proportions! Join Jack on his journey up an enchanted beanstalk as he tries to outwit a rampaging giant, all with the help of his largerthan-life mum. This tall-tale is packed full of slapstick comedy, laugh-out-loud gags, stunning costumes, dazzling song and dance numbers and plenty of chances to cheer, boo and hiss. Jack and the Beanstalk is at Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, E8 1EJ from 20 November-2 January. Admission: £10-£42. Phone: 020 8985 2424.  ©Manuel




winter 2021

A Grungy Christmas Carol Combining grungy cabaret with anarchic opera, the Olivier Award-winning post-punk pioneers, The Tiger Lillies, return to the Southbank Centre this Christmas with the UK premiere of a brand new concert inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Giving the novel a dark musical twist, the band dissect and reassemble the story that everyone knows to shine a light on the poverty and depravity laid bare on the cold London streets. Founder of the band, Martyn Jacques, says “A Christmas Carol is another sad tale about poverty. There was such an inequality of wealth at the time, death, depravity and addiction on the streets was commonplace. So for writers like Anderson and Dickens to underline and remind people of this inequality was a duty. Eventually welfare states were set up to help children and the vulnerable. Long may they continue!” The Tiger Lillies’ Christmas Carol is at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX from 14-30 December. Admission: £18-£25. Phone: 0203 879 9555.

Laughing hyenas at the Unicorn

 ©Daniela


 ©Kate


Sleeping Beauty comes to Bromley Join West End star Lee Mead as The Prince, Bonnie Langford as The Good Fairy and Claudillea Holloway as Sleeping Beauty in this year’s Churchill Theatre panto, which also star Myra Dubois as Carabosse and Lloyd Hollett as Muddles. Lee Mead shot to prominence after winning the BBC series Any Dream Will Do to take the role of Joseph in the West End in 2007. Lee returned to the West End in 2010 to take on the role of Fiyero in the musical Wicked to critical acclaim. Sleeping Beauty is at Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA from 4 December- 2 January. Admission: £20-£44. Phone: 0343 310 0020.


Lee Lyford directs the world premiere of Julian Clary’s adaptation of his best-selling book The Bolds this Christmas. The Bolds are just like you and me. They live in an ordinary house on an ordinary street, and they love to laugh. But there’s one slight difference. They are actually hyenas! But how long can they keep their beastly secret under their hats? Join Mr and Mrs Bold and their twins Betty and Bobby as they navigate work, school and friends whilst trying to hide their hairy tails and keep up their disguise living as humans in the quiet suburban town of Teddington. Whatever will the neighbours think? Combining live music and songs, The Bolds will have you laughing like a bunch of, well, hyenas, in a show which revels in the joy of being anything but ordinary. The Bolds is a family show for everyone aged 6+. The running time is approximately 2 hours including an interval. The Bolds is at the Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ from 14 November-31 December. Admission: £12-£22. Phone: 020 7645 0560.

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Christmas theatre

winter 2021

Twin doctors operate on squeamish kids Following three sell-out Australian tours, and a smash hit season in London’s West End, Dr Chris and Dr Xand are back with a brand new show Operation Ouch! Live on Stage - Not for the Squeamish! The show is packed with all-new crazy experiments and amazing facts. The doctors explore the fascinating world of biology and show you the incredible things your body can do. Plus the doctors will also share their favourite bits from the award-winning TV show, including special video guest Dr Ronx. Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken are identical twins who grew up in London and trained in medicine at Oxford University. They both still work in medicine: Dr Chris is based at University College London Hospital and Dr Xand is the Helen Hamlyn Senior Fellow at Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. Operation Ouch! Live on Stage is at the Lyric Theatre, 29 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7ES from 4 December-16 January. Admission: £15-£39.50. Phone: 0330 333 4812.

A panto for the grownups at Vauxhall’s LGBT+ theatre

A royal visit for Greenwich This year Greenwich Theatre’s legendary panto is back, bigger and more magnificent than ever with The Queen of Hearts. Meet the Knave of Hearts, a bit of a joker who’s in love with the Princess of Diamonds. The only problem is, she’s already got a boyfriend – the Prince of Spades. Maybe the Queen’s secret jam recipe will win her over? But then there’s the King of Clubs who’s also desperate to get his hands on the secret recipe… Following the Offie award-winning pantomime

After years of sell-out smashes Above the Stag’s acclaimed pantomime team are back with their rude, riotous and unashamedly romantic take on the ultimate London legend: Dick Whittington: A new Dick in town. Like many a gay country lad, Dick comes to the big city in search of men and money. But just as Londoners are getting back on their feet, dastardly mayoral candidate Queen Rat and her minions rise up to bite them in the ankles! When she frames

Sleeping Beauty, The Queen Of Hearts is guaranteed to crack even the strongest of poker faces. This year’s production will see the return of writer, director and extraordinary Dame Andrew Pollard, London’s favourite villain Anthony Spargo, musical director (Uncle) Steve Markwick and brilliant designer Cleo Pettitt. The Queen of Hearts is at Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, SE10 8ES from 19 November- 2 January. Admission: £16.50- £32. Phone: 020 8858 7755.


Dick for a terrible crime, Dick stiffens himself for a great adventure. Can he clear his name, win back his boy and defeat Queen Rat before she brings London to its knees - and not in a good way? Packed with all the popular panto traditions, original songs and a cornucopia of dick jokes. Dick Whittington: A New Dick In Town is a fabulously filthy and hilariously happy winter treat. Dick Whittington: A New Dick in Town runs from November 2-January 16 at Above the Stag Theatre and Bar, 72 Albert Embankment, SE1 7TP. Admission: November early bird: £24. All other £28.


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christmas on stage

winter 2021

 Stephen

 The

Welcoming back the Ghosts of Christmas past

already, they don’t see it as a takeover; everyone gives their own take,” he says. “We just did a little run though of act three and Stephen Mangan [who plays Ebenezer Scrooge] really stepped it up a notch so we’ve all got to up our game now!” Jack says. “Stephen’s got so many lines as Scrooge. When you’re rehearsing, it’s sort of like you have to nail a section, then it’s in your brain. Watching Stephen is pretty special. He’s such a funny guy that when he goes darker, it’s very moving, very impressive. “I always liked Dickens’ stuff, being a Londoner, and I often get cast in period pieces. I did a Dickensian TV show in the past,” Jack says. “I love the story. And I have seen this production of A Christmas Carol a couple of times, and worked at the Old Vic a couple of times too.” This production of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Jack Thorne, also happens to be a family affair. “My sister Rose plays Little Fan so we get to work together, which is great. Our parents are really chuffed. It’s been a tough few years -I haven’t been on stage for four years- so this is really exciting,” Jack says. Four children share the role of Tiny Tim -when we spoke, the rest of the adult cast was practising without the children who join later. “I’m looking forward to working with the kids. It really lifts the show up; it’s a really lovely element and one of the things that makes this show a real experience,” Jack says. Having shared the stage with children previously in the West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which Jack did for a year, he knows what he’s in for. “The kids end up schooling you!” he says. “I’m really loving playing Bob Cratchit,” Jack continues. “I love this idea that despite Scrooge being

Laura Burgoine 

Karen Fishwick ©Manual Harlan


 Bridgette

Amofah ©Manuel Harlan

cast on stage ©Manuel Harlan

ast year might have felt a bit like the festive season was sponsored by Scrooge, but this year, as the Old Vic’s beloved production of A Christmas Carol returns with a live audience, the joy of the Cratchit Christmas is back! The Biscuit sat down with actor Jack Shalloo, who plays Bob Cratchit in this year’s Matthew Warchus production. The Old Vic production is a well oiled machine at this point, now in its sixth iteration. “The choreography is a lot,” Jack says. “It’s funny, playing Bob seems almost the easy part but you’ve got the singing, hand bells, and all the choreography. The hand bells are really hard to learn because you have your two notes and you’re just counting the rhythm, and you have to hear out bits of melody. I’m just on chords.” Each year’s production takes on a life of its own, Jack says. “There’s still some room to play. The team are really great, although it’s a show that exists


 Jack

Mangan ©Manuel Harlan


quite mean, Bob’s got this unbreakable spirit. Yes he needs the job, he’s got to feed his family but it doesn’t break him. There’s a lovely scene at the Cratchit’s Christmas, where we see a slice of their life, and Tiny Tim and the kids are hiding, and we’re all playing and even though our food is meagre, we’re so grateful and there’s so much love in that scene.” It’s a show that continues to gather steam. In 2020, composer and arranger Christopher Nightingale won a Tony Award for Best Original Score for his incidental music for A Christmas Carol. “The music is so clever,” Jack says. “I worked with Chris on Groundhog Day -I played one of the drunks in the bar- which was brilliant. It’s so great to be working with him again.” Jack was fortunate to keep working throughout the pandemic. “I got a role in a Netflix film called Stay Close, which we filmed in Manchester. My partner and I did an advertisement for RightMove. I got really lucky,” he says. This year’s production will still involve the much loved traditions of past shows, like Dickensian characters giving out minced pies to the audience -the pies will just be wrapped securely in line with Covid regulations. “We know A Christmas Carol is selling well but there’s always that fear that people are still scared to go out after Covid. The Old Vic are very smart; we’re all feeling very safe and everything feels Covidsecure,” Jack says. “A Christmas Carol is a great show to come back to with the singing, dancing, music and timeless story. It’s a wonderful Christmas production to get families back into theatres.” A Christmas Carol runs from November 13-January 8 at the Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB. Phone: 0344 871 7628. Tickets: £20-£67.50.

We’d love to take this opportunity to wish our wonderful Pizarro family a happy and healthy festive season, and to thank you for your continued custom and support. If you are looking for gift inspiration for the food lover or wine enthusiast in your life, please do take a look at José Pizarro’s online shop where we have a range of Spanish delicacies and wines available for nationwide delivery.


Taking care of business

winter 2021


Join us for a celebration of health and wellbeing, 25 November to 3 December


ondon Bridge has a long history with health and wellbeing, stemming from the creation of the area’s first hospital, which was established around the 12th century in what is now Southwark Cathedral. Followed by Old St Thomas’s Hospital in the 13th century and Thomas Guy Hospital in the 18th century, this area has seen the Black Death, the Cholera outbreak, the Spanish Flu and more recently the Covid-19 Pandemic. The people living through every single one of these medical disasters tried to do what they could to stay healthy and to stay safe. Meanwhile the medical practitioners searched for the answers to people’s needs and cures for the diseases. Washing

nov 25

hands, wearing masks and keeping social distance are not new things. Caring for people’s physical as well as mental health has been paramount throughout every single moment in history. This festival aims to celebrate the people and practices that have made a difference, both in the past and in the present. They will paint a picture of a community that has fought and continued to be resilient. Festival partners includes: the Florence Nightingale Museum, Gordons Pathology Museum, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, King’s College London, The Old Operating Theatre Museum, London Borough of Southwark, Team London Bridge.

nov 26

London Bridge MediCulture Walking Tour

Witness 1,000 years of ongoing medical development on this walking tour of London Bridge. You’ll get the opportunity to visit some of the area’s most significant medical landmarks of the past and present, including the Museum of Life Sciences, Science Gallery London, and the Old Operating Theatre. The tour will be rounded off by a social drink of coffee or beer.

dec 1

dec 2

nov 30

Christmas Card Making workshop

A workshop where you can make your own Christmas Card, taking place in a venue that’s usually not open to the public. Intrigued? So are we!

Free Flow Creative Writing with The Poetry Takeaway’s Laurie Bolger

This session is about letting your creativity lead the way, generating new and exciting writing in your own unique style. During this 45-minute workshop Laurie will take you through fast paced writing exercises to boost mindfulness and help connect with your wellbeing.

Florence Nightingale’s London: An A to Z of the Lady with the Lamp

Using extracts from this recently published book, we explore Florence’s personal and professional life in London, including how she set up the first modern professional training school for nurses right here in the London Bridge area.

nov 30

Stitch ‘n Stem

What can Science offer the Arts?

Real research images from the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London have been translated into gorgeous embroidery templates for you to create your own artwork. Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit (or two!) and relax whilst discovering what stem cells are and how they are being applied in research and future therapies.

This session is for you if you are intrigued by the idea of scientists and artists working together. SC1 and the Medi-culture festival are asking this question looking to the future exploring what we can learn from inter-disciplinary teams coming together and benefits to the participants, audience and/or community. To book these free events, go to 28




Friday 10th December | 7pm - Midnight Executive Lounge at The Den £20 per person

(Over 18s only)

Join us for a ready-made Christmas party night at The Den, ideal for smaller groups of colleagues, friends or family looking for a merry night out. This is the perfect way to kick-start your festive celebrations!

Tickets can be purchased online at


winter 2021


otherhithe-born Bupa health advisor Jamal Ramsay has joined forces with his childhood pal Jamal Ayton-Brown to launch a range of eco-friendly protein shakes. BOXD Health’s products are tipped as “sustainably packaged protein shakes for women on the go” and blend iron, vitamin D, vitamin C, B vitamins, electrolyte complex and golden flaxseed. The two friends went through months-long research and testing and managed to build up a waiting list of 1,800 women who wanted to try their products. Next, they needed funding. They approached Virgin’s start-up fund and quickly landed a £48,000 loan to launch the company. Women with a specific goal in mind tend to drink the smoothies on a daily basis, but you can use them as little or often as you like. “We’ve always looked at it as BOXD is a good alternative to taking vitamin pills. Lot of people struggle to take supplements because it’s not pleasant or it’s just hard to remember, but if it’s built into a snack we find people are more likely to incorporate it into their lifestyle,” Ayton-Brown tells the Biscuit. “The menstrual cycle tends to create a higher chance of iron deficiency and B12 deficiency in women,” he continues. “We combat this by ensuring we have active nutrients and ingredients that will combat those specific deficiencies. “One of the key things we noticed before starting our business was that other powders are often focused around muscle building, which can put women off if they’re concerned about getting bulky, and then the proteins marketed to women all tend to have a weight loss or aesthetic focus.” BOXD prides itself on the quantities of its vitamin content. For a 30 gram serving, BOXD contains 14mg of iron compared to a market competitor who include 2.4mg. “Businesses use this as a marketing tool, advertising all their ingredients on the packaging, but what you notice when you read the nutritional information is that it contains microgram amounts that are so small it has no effect,” Ayton-Brown says. BOXD uses completely paper based, 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable packaging, and also has plant-based options.

The two Jamals shaking up the protein powder world Laura Burgoine

Childhood pals launch ‘inclusive’ supplement shakes for women

BOXD Health’s Premium whey isolate costs £21.97 for 14 sachets. Same price for plant based pea protein. Visit the online store at:

5 top tips for hitting your gym goals

training. We progress strength step-by-step, starting with the basic technique and simply get better weekby-week through simple, but effective programming. There are so many benefits to strength training: postural improvements, increasing metabolic rate, burning fat, protecting against injuries (especially lower back, shoulders and knees), toning muscle, hormonal improvements and ageing safer.

Surrey Quays’ Fitness Space head coach Matt Burton shares his secrets to success

5. Make use of Technology


he festive season is a time to relax, take some time out and enjoy plenty of good food and drink! Typically this indulgence can be a source of guilt, however, having the right fitness plan for the New Year will allow you to enjoy the holidays to the fullest, safe in the knowledge that your New Year training plan will get you back ‘fighting fit’ in no time!Our industry-leading team of fitness coaches here at Fitness Space Surrey Quays have over 55 years of industry experience, with our coaches coming from elite / international sport or professional performance backgrounds. Our unique background, unintimidating training environment and state-of-the-art technology has facilitated the exceptional results we’ve achieved with members since we opened in 2018.

1. Set yourself SMART goals

SMART goals are an essential part of our member journey here at Fitness Space. Any targets you want to achieve will be established in your first coaching session and reviewed on a regular basis.Specific (what do you want to achieve?), Measurable (how are we going to monitor progress?), Achievable (is it doable?), Realistic (how realistic is this goal?) and Timed (what is the time frame for this goal?).

from the station every day, racking up 6,000 steps a day. Compare this with walking from your kitchen to your desk in the spare room…you’re likely losing 5,000 steps a day and all the health benefits that come with walking. Aim to get 30 minutes of basic activity per day. This could be a couple of easy walks around the block to clear your head or a quick lunchtime gym session. Increasing our Basal Energy Expenditure will help us burn extra calories and thus burn any excess festive weight gain.

2. Ensure you have accountability

Accountability is one of the pillars of our success and perhaps the major driver for our members achieving results. Accountability, through honest conversations between our member and coaches is an essential part of coaching for us. We achieve accountability via monthly body composition analysis, training diaries, coach checkins and programme reviews.

4. Strength is King (or Queen!)

3. Move as much as you can!

The most critical aspect of our training here at Fitness Space is getting members stronger. That doesn’t mean getting huge like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Many of our members are the strongest they’ve ever been and moved down in clothes sizes as a result of strength

This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people’s basic activity levels have drastically decreased since Covid (mostly due to working from home or lifestyle changes). Imagine that you used to walk to and


We are big advocates of fitness technology here at Fitness Space and we have no doubt that it has assisted us greatly when it comes to members achieving exceptional results. From our Tanita body composition analysis machine (which gives us >50 data points to monitor improvement), to our Fitness Space App (where we programme for members, with videos and technical tips), our state-of-the-art Technogym cardiovascular machines (where you log into via Bluetooth and it sets the levels prescribed by your coach), to our Connect Bike class where participants can see their performance in real time nd track improvements each week – technology is at the heart of our member journey. We avoid gimmicks and ensure that any tech we have or recommend is there to do a job. Our recommendations when it comes to fitness tech include: smart watches (with activity and heart rate tracking – Apple Watches are our go-to), apps like MyFitnessPal to track food or Apple Health to track activity and sleep, a good set of Bluetooth headphones and Spotify / Apple Music to make sure you’ve got a strong gym playlist! To kickstart your New Year fitness journey in a results-driven yet relaxed environment, contact Fitness Space Surrey Quays @ / 0203 972 0350.

A vibrant new concept serving up a fresh take on Greek and Cypriot street food classics. Souvlaki, gyros and much more! Find us on St Thomas Street, SE1, near London Bridge Station


winter 2021

Christmas all wrapped up

Fun and Games Party season at Electric Shuffle

Laura Burgoine


he new bar and games room on Bermondsey Street is gearing up for the festive season. During December, they’re hosting a festive brunch every Thursday to Sunday with a Christmassy cocktail on arrival. They’ll also have a Christmas package menu, which includes the traditional fare of pigs in blankets and mince pies. For Christmas parties, the venue has multiple semiprivate event spaces catering for groups of 33-300 guests. Smaller groups are able to book a shuffle table where they’ll have plenty of space to eat, drink and get their festive game on! Electric Shuffle is home to a reimagined version of the classic game of shuffleboard. With a rich history spanning over hundreds of years, shuffleboard is as much a game of skill as it is luck. Electric Shuffleboard uses unparalleled vision technology to guide teams of up to 16 through a series of games that are immersive, challenging and, above all, fun. For the best experience, it’s recommended that you book a 90-minute slot for a game which costs £10 per person. Even if you’re not after a game, you can visit the bar just for a drink or the brunch menu boasts bottomless pizza, a bottle of prosecco per person, and local musical and comedy talent where guests can enjoy the very best singers, DJs, bands and comedians. Electric Shuffle is at 10 Bermondsey Street, SE1 2ER. Phone: 020 8059 4163. Spaces at Electric Shuffle venues are regularly booked up to three months in advance so book your place:

A family run restaurant from the award-winning team behind Darby’s, Sorella and Rye by the Water. We have spent 10 years building up relationships with amazing farmers, fishermen and producers so that every plate has a story to tell. We are passionate about the craft behind our food and drink, from our freshly made bread to our carefully curated cocktails. We’ve got all the ingredients for a truly memorable meal. Bermondsey Larder, Bermonds Locke, 153-157 Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 3LW Accessible from both Bermondsey Street and Tower Bridge Road. 020 7378 6254 @bermondseylarder


Christmas all wrapped up

winter 2021


anada Water favourite the Pear Tree is cooking up a Christmas feast for locals who fancy a year off from slaving over a hot oven. The Christmas Feast Menu is available from November 26 until Christmas Eve. Roast are served with goose fat roast potatoes, honey roast vegetables, shredded Brussel sprouts with bacon, apple and red cabbage slaw, gravy, cranberry sauce (poultry) or mint sauce (lamb) or Horse radish (beef). The vegan option is Truffle Mushroom Wellington served with vegan trimmings, which is £35 per person Additional sides are £9.50 and include: Pigs in blankets, sage and apple stuffing, cauliflower cheese roast potatoes, honey roast vegetables, apple and cabbage slaw

And a partridge in a Pear Tree

Meats include:

Whole Turkey (feeds 6 people): £225 Half Turkey (feeds 4 people): £145

Whole Goose (feeds 6 people ): £250

Laura Burgoine

Whole Duck (feeds 2-4 people): £95

Whole free range chicken (feeds 2-4 people): £75 Leg of Lamb (feeds 6 people): £155

Rib of beef (to feed 3 or 6 people): £97.50 for 3/ £195 for 6 Pork Belly (feeds 4 to 6 people): £125

December 20 is the last day to place orders and must be paid in full. Cancellations must be made 48 hours in advance and not after 20 of December to receive a full refund. A time slot will be agreed upon for Christmas day pick-ups. Hours will vary from 10:30am-1:30pm. The Pear Tree at Greenland Place, Yeoman Street, SE8 5ER. Phone: 020 7237 6171.

Give the gift of experiences:

A clutter-free and low-waste Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly… And, for many, the chance to be overwhelmed and inundated with yet more “stuff.” Bermondsey Certified Professional OrganiSer Katherine Blackler from SortMySpace shares her top tips for navigating the festive season.

Think about what you, your household, extended family or friendship group would love to do together: dinner out, a trip to an attraction, a weekend away or holiday. Encourage family to contribute towards that bigger goal rather than buying bits and pieces you don’t need or want. Create 'tokens' in your children's advent calendars that they can collect and redeem for mini-experiences rather than daily sweets or small disposable toys and trinkets you’ll find down the back of the sofa next September! It's a great way to bring the family together and enjoy activities which are more 'in the moment'. Examples of experiential gifts could include • popcorn and movie night • extra long stories at bedtime • allowing the kids to have a “Yes Day” (watch the movie) • breakfast in bed • babysitting vouchers to have a date night

winter accessories and toiletries for the homeless etc). You can do this for the 12 days of Christmas or all 24 days Although aim to drop off your donations at least a few days before Christmas Day itself so there’s time to redistribute to others.

Reuse and recycle:

Clear the decks:

If you love the smell of fresh firs this time of year, consider renting a Christmas tree rather than buying and chipping it afterwards. Companies like Christmas on the Hill deliver and collect them. Use a string of small stockings or set of decorative wooden drawers to accommodate advent calendar fillings. This can be re-used year on year to reduce the household waste that modern day advent calendars create. You’ll still inevitably gift some physical items so think about how to wrap sustainably. Wrapping paper that ‘scrunches’ in your hand (and remains scrunched) can be recycled. Anything that springs back in shape and most options with gold, silver elements, glitter

Ahead of the festive season, encourage your children to make space for the new inbound items. Use it as an opportunity to explain how others aren't as fortunate and could really enjoy playing with the toys and games that they rarely use or have outgrown. Or sell them onwards to pay for a fun activity for 2022. You might need to do the same rationalising with other adults in the house too! Rather than receiving something each day during advent, instead try letting go of something you no longer need or want. Each day you put something into a box to donate to a worthy cause (food bank items,


or plastics cannot be recycled. To avoid being left with an abundance of part-used festive wrap rolls to store until next year, pick a simple signature theme to wrap all your gifts. Brown paper with red/white string works all-year round saving space for all your gift wrap requirements. When it comes to Christmas cards too, any embellishments, ribbon or glitter cannot be recycled so you’ll need to remove those before putting into the council recycling collections. There are plenty of craft projects involving old cards, the simplest being to repurpose into gift tags for next year. If it seems daunting or is too emotional reviewing your belongings with loved ones, Katherine Blackler, Certified Professional Organizer at SortMySpace Ltd can provide impartial help. Contact or 07914 612531. Quote “BISCUIT” for a 20% discount on your consultation.

winter 2021


winter 2021


Taking care of business


The secret spices and family recipes behind Tower Bridge favourite Laura Burgoine


olkata-born Harneet Baweja and his wife Devina Seth opened their first Gunpowder restaurant, with head chef Nirmal Save, in Spitalfields in 2015. After moving to London in 2014, the couple observed England’s love of curries but felt the nation was missing out on a huge part of what makes Indian food special: the intricacy of flavours found in home-style dishes. Today, there are three Gunpowder restaurants; the flagship in Spitalfields, Tower Bridge, which opened in 2018, and the newest addition in Soho, which opened in October this year. All are named after the spice mix Gunpowder: a heady blend of pulses, spices, including chili, curry leaves, and hing. The Biscuit sat down for a cup of chai and a chat with Senior Manager Greg Gierma. What brings customers back to the restaurant time and time again? It’s all about the food and the types of dishes we serve. We had a tiny first restaurant in Spitalfields and it was all about sharing plates and lesser known Indian food. We use


a lot of local ingredients. And our chef likes to do things that are not typical, like our spicy venison doughnut. India is as big as Europe, with so many smaller districts which create different tastes and flavours. Gunpowder is not tied to any one region. The owners spent a month on tour eating in Mumbai and hand-picked foods from all over so our flavours are very unique.

Even our cocktails are a twist on the classics. We do a gimlet spiced with honey and ginger; we take the traditional cocktails and develop them. During lockdown we created DIY meal kits for people to cook at home, and we’re also a local takeaway here at Tower Bridge.

What can locals look out for on the menu?

It’s starting to get busy now! This venue seats 100 people, and we have private areas on the ground floor and upstairs that people can book out. We are Michelin recognised and have retained that for six years at Spitalfields and three years here. Dishes start from £5.50 and go up to £40, so the cost price-range caters to your appetite. We can cater to allergies, diet restrictions, and do gluten-free and some vegan and vegetarian dishes.

We have a new dish on the menu that’s wild rabbit; there’s always a lot of pressure on the execution and getting it just right. We do all kinds of meat: chicken, beef, soft shell crab, lamb; our chef ’s pride is lamb chops. We do the classics like tandoori too. We must bow to public opinion! For desserts we have a bread and butter pudding, which every country does their own version of. Ours is made from fresh brioche and Old Monk Rum, which is India’s biggest rum. The chef doesn’t use sugar, the rum is what creates the sweetness.

Is Gunpowder all geared up for Christmas party season?

Gunpowder, 4 Duchess Walk, SE1 2SD. Phone: 020 3598 7946.

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Christmas & New Year Make this Christmas an extra special one At Bell & Sons we look forward to making your Christmas dinner with the whole family, an unforgettable one! Whether it’s a Herb Fed Turkey, Matured Rib of Beef or a delicious Gammon on your table, we have everything you need to make your festive feast perfect! (And we have plenty of pigs in blankets too!) Easy ways to place an order with us: 1. Download the form, fill it in & email it to us 2. Visit us in store to place an order directly *Please note that your order is not confirmed until you have paid a £20 deposit payable by cash or card*


0207 394 1125 13a Market Place Bermondsey, London. SE16 3UQ

Taking Christmas orders now!

Scan to see our festive brochure or visit our website

Kingsdale Foundation School First Class and Top of the Class

Celebrating A Level Results at Kingsdale Foundation School!

Celebrating our A Level Success with Pride! Our students did amazingly well and produced some of our best results ever. Almost two-thirds of our graduates going on to higher education have been offered places at prestigious Russell Group Universities including Cambridge as well as Imperial, University & King’s College London, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham.

Hannah & Ivy seem pleased after they recive their A-Level results

Our gifted and talented creative and performing artists will be attending highly esteemed conservatoires and institutions such as The Prince’s Foundation (The Royal Drawing School) and Kingston University. They have much to celebrate.

OPEN DAY Wednesday 24th November: 1.30-3.30pm & 4.30-6.30pm Victor Chicaza-Alulema celebrating his 3A*/A Grades and place at UCL with his parents!

For further information, visit




Family Run Funeral Directors

Serving the local community for over 200 years WELLING 4 Welling Way, Welling, KENT, DA16 2RJ T: 020 8856 7514

020 7237 3637 ROTHERHITHE 52 Culling Road, London, SE16 2TN OUR OTHER BRANCH ADDRESSES ARE: SIDCUP 163 Station Road, Sidcup, KENT, DA15 7AA T: 020 8308 0015

EAST LONDON 378 Barking Road, Plaistow LONDON, E13 8HL T: 020 7476 1861

MOTTINGHAM 54-56 Mottingham Road, LONDON, SE9 4QR T: 020 8857 0330

DEPTFORD 164 Deptford High Street, LONDON, SE8 3DP T: 020 8694 1384

WALWORTH 88 Brandon Street, LONDON, SE17 1ND T: 020 7313 6990

CRAYFORD 30-32 Crayford High Street, Crayford, KENT, DA1 4HG T: 01322 533012

memory lane

winter 2021

‘Ello Vera Michael Holland

Southwark Helping Hands founder and force of nature Vera Keech’s journey - from the Docks to Peek Freans Biscuit Factory - to a convent in Sri Lanka!


God gave me life so I’m going to use it” is how Vera Keech explains her get up and go attitude. Being born in Swan Lane Buildings - her Mum from Rotherhithe and her lighterman Dad from Wapping - it is no surprise that the river runs through her life. Brothers Sid and Ted followed their father onto the Thames, although Sid decided to drive lorries after falling in the Surrey Docks and realising a life on the water was not for him. A son and two grandsons became lightermen, and “all the uncles and cousins became lightermen,” Vera says with pride. When war began, Vera was evacuated to an Uncle’s in Hertfordshire. On her return she went to Albion Street School followed by Credon Road School where, she recalls, “my mum thought it was too far to go so she put me in St Mary’s, which was nearer.” Vera recalls tap dancing on the dustbins as a child “’cause the metal lids made the right noise.” She joined Dolly Cooper’s Super Kids dance troupe “but because my Mum couldn’t afford tap shoes for the dance class my brother screwed Blakeys shoe protectors on the bottom of my school shoes and I used to share ‘em with Max Bygraves’ sister Maureen ‘cause she didn’t have any tap shoes, either!” Vera liked school. “I had a really good crafts teacher and I used to love doing sewing.” This was good practice for when her mum found her a job as a Court Dressmaker. “It was right up my alley,” she says. “It was doing the embroidery and fancy stitching on dresses… But it only paid ten-bob a week and Mum said ‘that ain’t enough.’” A cousin’s wife stepped in with a job as a punch card operator. “We did all the dockworkers’ wages for 50-bob a week so Mum had £2 and I had the ten bob.” But keeping just a fifth of her wages was not enough for this teenager. “Me dad was good, he’d always give me half-a-crown for a new pair of stockings or anything that I needed.” But alas, Vera was sacked for “being cheeky.” She laughs at how she told a colleague to “shut up” and

memory lane

the boss reckoned Vera was “too lippy.” Luckily, a friend knew of vacancies at Monk & Glass, so she started there and told her mum that she changed jobs for more money. Being a skilled worker meant Vera stayed employed. She listed other jobs from the LEB to IBM, adding “I never got the sack again but every time I moved I got more money.” For fun, Vera and her friend would venture out to the Savoy Club in Catford. “We went dancing on Friday and Saturday to see if we could meet a bloke to take us out for the rest of the week ‘cause we had no money.” She giggled before continuing: “then dump him the next week!” Vera met her husband Pat Keech in Catford, although he lived in the next block on the Dickens Estate where the family moved to for more space. The courting couple would go “to the pictures and dancing, and nights out in the Concorde and the Lilliput”, but Vera added: “I wasn’t big on pubs because my father was an old drunk, so I didn’t drink a lot.” When they married, Vera began working parttime but left when her first son Timmy arrived, doing just an office-cleaning job at Baldwin’s, the Bermondsey solicitors. Eventually after Terry was born, Vera returned to computing in Peek Frean’s for nine years. Then 28 years at Midland Bank took her to retirement, but that didn’t last long because her skills were always required. ‘Retiring’ actually turned into ten years at a nursing agency where she would also do a few shifts as a carer. Meanwhile, her family grew up. Being a lightermen means you can enter the legendary Thames boat race - The Doggett’s Coat and Badge. Vera’s son Timmy came second twice and her two grandsons, Jack and Patrick, both came first in successive years, putting the Keech name in the annals of the oldest boat race in the world. As well as the Thames, care work has also been a big part of Vera’s life since she first looked after her Down’s Syndrome brother-in-law. Invited to help the church with their annual trip to Lourdes with disabled children in 1976, she has taken children every year. Lourdes became so important for the family that when her husband died, Rotherhithe funeral director Barry Albin helped Vera fulfil Pat’s wish to have his ashes scattered there. With Pat gone, being alone in her flat was unbearable, so Vera flew to Sri Lanka to do volunteer work. She lived in a convent with Catholic nuns and kept in touch with family by phone. After some months a granddaughter asked Vera to return for Christmas, which she did, narrowly missing the tsunami that flooded the town. Care work brought about Vera starting the Southwark Helping Hands Club on Silwood Estate. When Silwood was redeveloped the club moved to Paradise Street, then Dockhead. From there to Wade Hall until that got renovated. At this point, Vera had nowhere to go. “I got in my car and drove round,” she says, “and I saw a sign in old Peek Frean’s saying Community Hall, so I went in.” The developers Grosvenor Estates gave Vera the hall rent-free. The club is now in the former Scott Lidgett School. Vera keeps retiring but never stops working. She plans to live as long as she can while still doing everything she does now. “That gift of life that God gave me, I’m gonna wear it out right ‘til the end.”

 Vera,

far right seated, St Mary’s School, Rotherhithe

 Vera

at Southwark Helping Hands Club

 Vera

at Watermen’s Hall with the Barge Master and Doggett’s Coat & Badge winner Dan Arnold


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The Star attraction Debra Gosling


n 1879 the Star & Garter pub in Abbey Street was a social hub for all the dockers, tanners and factory workers in Bermondsey. It had a hall attached to it that became the Star Music Hall. Owner Harry Hart had big ideas for the Star. Coming from a theatrical background he had managed theatres right across London. He dressed the part in velvet and silk with gold jewellery but he was hard as nails - with a polite manner, of course. “Take your tickets, gents,” he would say, “sixpence the body of the 'all, ninepence the gallery, which is more select.” The Star was pretty impressive: the interior walls were lined in rich red velvet, overlooking a balustraded balcony with fancy ironwork. Large etched mirrors were fitted all around the hall, which reflected the gas lights and gave the illusion of a much larger, brighter building. It would really have enhanced the sequinned and shiny, lavish artiste costumes. Such glamour! Harry had various seat prices for his customers but woe betide any act that failed to please them. Armed with rotten fruit and veg from the market, they would hurl it straight into the spotlight -

exit stage left one hopeless comedian dressed as a fruit salad! Harry Hart's son John joined the business in 1885. He was another colourful character and grew up rubbing shoulders with all the celebrities of the day. Performer Leonard Mortimer described him as: "wearing a dinner jacket, white tie and a shiny tall silk hat but rough and ready. He had a rough wit and boisterous manners; a round face, receding hair and side whiskers." He was even friends with the great Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving, who visited the Star. When Hart asked Irving how business was doing he replied “not too flourishing I fear, most of my patrons seem to be going to the opera. How are things with you?” Hart replied “terrible, terrible, Sir 'enry, all my customers 'ave gone 'opping.” In 1892 the music hall saw the début of Bessie Bellwood, a local girl who had the unenviable profession of rabbit-skinner. She made her debut after an audience favourite failed to appear, resulting in a lot of hissing upon her first stage entrance. Did she run off in floods of tears? No, she gave as good as she got and entered into a slanging match with the audience! Her brash manner became her saviour - a coal heaver got a mouthful from her, as they argued for a full five minutes. In the end he backed down and the house rose to cheer her for taking him on. Another big personality was Florrie Forde, whose almost operatic voice ensured that even those in the Gods could hear her. Remember, this was a time before microphones, so only the best could hold an audience. One of her hits was 'Down at the Old Bull and Bush', where she encouraged the punters to sing heartily along. There are very few handbills that survive for this sparkler amid the tanneries, but the newspapers gave an insight into the artists who sang, danced or juggled across the stage. One was Polly Newbury, a song and dance act whose real name was Mary Wolstenholme. Sadly, she became most famous for being murdered by her husband, who shot her in a jealous rage after an argument - then promptly shot himself. Keeping order in all this madness was Rodney Polglaze, the loud and charismatic chairman, who received thirty shillings a week for his talents. He

built up a loyal and regular audience for the venue. He could put over a song and improvised while the scenery was being changed; he told jokes and generally kept the crowd amused. Once so well known, he now evades the record books, despite writing his own music. He retired in 1897 due to ill health and three years later Hart put on a benefit night for him. The year 1908 saw the beginning of the end for the Star - a programme of silent films began and by November 1919 it lost its licence as a Music Hall and Theatre and was re-named the Star Kinema. John Hart's offspring did not step into the limelight and so a theatrical dynasty disappeared into the dry ice. The Star closed its doors in 1939 but remained there, unloved and abandoned, until it was demolished in 1963. There is a square of grass, just opposite the Neckinger Mills, where the hall stood. In the paths are set what appear be the base of two old pillars, possibly remnants of the hall - but not a whiff of greasepaint remains.

 John

 Bessie

Hart owner of star music hall, ©JohnCorke2017




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