Monday, November 04, 2019

Capillary Tissues

Capillary Tissues, sound performances in the APT gallery and studio of artist Victoria Rance as part of the Deptford X festival, 2nd November 2019.

Lia Mazzari/David Bloor/Charlotte Law:

Costumes by Victoria Rance.

Offerings to goat god Pan and the Goddess alongside Deptford Creek

Phil Maguire /Mark Lyken/ghostly cassette technology:

David Bloor/a box of tricks:

Monday, October 28, 2019

Music Monday: The Drezone - 'End of Summer Blue' on Hilly Fields

SE London musician The DreZone has many talents - multi-instrumentalist, DJ and professional singer who can be found performing tributes to Prince and Stevie Wonder among others. He also writes and produces his own material, his latest song released yesterday to coincide with the turning of the seasons and the end of British Summer Time. 'End of Summer Blue' is a lush slice of classic melancholic soul which put me in mind of 'What's Going On?' period Marvin Gaye (yes Marvin, the guy who danced in Deptford!).

The video was filmed in Hilly Fields, so joining the illustrious company of several other Hilly Fields songs and videos.

The DreZone is on facebook and all the usual channels.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Long live the White Hart SE14

I've fallen back in love again with the White Hart in New Cross Gate recently. This iconic pub has been overlooking the historic junction on the old Watling Street/New Cross Road for 150 years or more, in fact I gave a whole talk about this spot in Telegraph Hill Festival a couple of years ago that is far too invovled to go into here.

I think the first time I went in the pub itself was back in the mid-noughties in the company of the late Paul Hendrich and others. In those days the pub was under the management of local character Ken Linwood, there followed a few years in which he tried to turn it into a strip club etc. I didn't agree with all that, but hey keeping a pub going in the middle of a busy road in SE London is difficult so it was easier to criticise than to see a way forward.

Since then pub has been refurbished but without losing its soul. Most recently it has faced an apparent threat from the people who own the bulding - the Wellington Pub Group have wanted to redevelop the upper floors of The White Hart into residential flats. Experience elsewhere has shown that when this happens new residents soon start complaining about noise and late nights and restrictions on the licence threaten the viability of the pub. Back in August though Lewisham Council turned down the planning application after more than 3,000 people signed a petition against the plans. Hopefully Patrick and Joseph Ryan, who currently run the pub, can keep it going for the foreseeable future.

I love the Irish music session there on Sundays (2 pm to 4 pm),  last week there were five fiddles, two flutes, a whistle, a guitar, a bodhran and an accordion and there were sublime moments when all of these meshed together perfectly. Irish sessions are one of the great gifts of London pubs to the world (see a bit of history and my limited involvement in scene here), so everywhere that these are still happening needs to be appreciated and nourished.

Another great London pub tradition is the Sunday roast, and the White Hart certainly delivers there. The vegetarian option is a very reasonably priced nut roast in filo pastry served with potatoes, carrots, kale and a massive yorkshire pudding.

The pub now gets pretty busy on a Sunday, with the session at 2 pm followed by the pub quiz round 5 pm - so they do eventually run out of food, but thankfully not beer.

The only improvement I would like to see is a reinstatement of the stag statue on top of the building, shown here in 1912. Then nobody would have any excuse for not finding this fine pub.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Brockley Stickers 2019

Some stickers around Brockley photographed yesterday. We have:

Jewish Antifascist Action
Never Seek Permission - pigeon-themed, artist is on insta as @neverseekpermission
Extinction Rebellion - climate change rebels
esse -SE London crew who did a zine I think
3 Hangers - retro clothes sellers
I should not be here - photo zine and t-shirts, image is from 1984 Sisters of Mercy E.P. ‘Body & Soul’


Monday, August 26, 2019

Extinction Rebellion on Blackheath

Last weekend (17-18 August) saw local supporters of the climate change movement Extinction Rebellion stage a series of protests, workshops and other events in Greenwich and Blackheath.

The weekend started on Saturday morning (17/8/2019) with a  couple of hundred people joining a procession from the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, up through Greenwich Park and on to Blackheath.

'Towards the Common'

A key local focus is opposition to the planned new Silvertown Tunnel river crossing, which campaigners say will simply increase traffic. On 9 August 2019 a protest blocked traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel area.

In Greenwich park

Briefly stopping the traffic on the A2 across Blackheath

Tents set up on Blackheath for the weekend gathering (scene also of the Climate Camp ten years ago)

'South East London Rebel Rising'
Local Extinction Rebellion groups have now now been established in Lewisham, Greenwich, Southwark, Lambeth, Bexley and Bromley.  Along with other groups across the country they are now planning for a major action in central London in October

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Deptford Island Disco

At APT Gallerty, Creekside SE8, 'Deptford Island Disco' includes 'Deptford Island Discs', inviting people to select their own songs and tell us why.

Careless Whispers, Being Boring, Yeah!, I was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar

For what you dream of, Push the Button
River by Joni Mitchell

Friday, August 02, 2019

Southbank skateboarding saved - exhibition

Great exhibition at the Bermondsey Project Space (183 Bermondsey St SE1) on the history of skateboarding on London's Southbank from its origins in the 1970s through to the successful 'Long Live Southbank' campaign to see off a recent threat to redevelop the space.

Some cool flyers from 80s/90s:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Police Raid Forest Hill Gay Club (1987)

From London LGBT paper 'Capital Gay' (2 October 1987), a report of police raiding a gay club in Forest Hill in 1987, prompting the headline: "Clear out of Forest Hill! Police Want Gays Confined to the West End." 

The target was Frolic at 240 Stanstead Road, SE23 which on Saturday September 19th was raided by '30 officers, some wearing rubber gloves' who 'ordered customers off the premises'. The club was closed down and owner Phillippe Sinclair was summonsed to appear in court charged with licensing offences including serving non-members after pub hours (not sure if it later re-opened, anybody know?)

Local police Chief Superintendant John Taylor was reported to have said 'Gays belong in the West End, not out here'. 

The club promoted itself as 'South London's most exclusive gay nite club' with events that summer including a benefit for HIV organisation Terrence Higgins Trust.

Advert in Capital Gay, 14 August 1987

Monday, June 03, 2019

Deptford Gay Disco 1976

South East London gaysoc apparently grew out of Goldsmiths gay society and by 1976 was putting on what may have been the first 'regular gay disco' in the area - 'with upward of 60 local gays attending' -  at the Deptford Albany (then at its old building in Creek Road). 

Source: Gay News (London) March 11-24, 1976

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Balwinder Singh Rana recalls the Battle of Lewisham 1977

Interesting recent article by James Rippingale at Al Jazeera. In  'Lewisham, London 1977: Notes on fighting fascism' (24 November 2018) 'Balwinder Singh Rana, a 71-year-old anti-fascist, recalls the day he and thousands of others took on the National Front' in the August 1977 'Battle of Lewisham'. Here's a few extracts:

'"It was the only time in my life I thought I'd probably die. I couldn't breathe," says 71-year-old Balwinder Singh Rana. He recalls the mass of bodies pressed together as police separated anti-fascist protesters from 500 National Front marchers gathered at the bottom of Clifton Rise in the South-East London borough of Lewisham...

[At Ladywell]  "One of my comrades from the SWP approached me and gave me a couple of flares which I wrapped up in a newspaper and hid in my belt," recalls Rana. "He asked me to take a dozen people quietly and make our way here," he adds, gesturing towards Clifton Rise, now awash with pigeons. Then we noticed hundreds of other people were trying to do the same... We let the police pass, we let the [National Front] honour guard pass and when they got to about here," he says, motioning to a space on Pagnell Street, "we started chucking everything we could. Rocks, bottles, flares".

Several of the adjacent houses were derelict. Antifascists concealed on the upper floors and behind garden walls threw bricks at the marchers. Rana chuckles to himself as he recalls members of the National Front cowering in doorways.

[in Lewisham town centre]  'police equipped with riot shields and batons descended upon the protesters "People who were sitting in their own homes were suddenly involved - young or old. People who'd been watching TV. They came out ... I even saw some black old ladies from upstairs windows throwing cauliflowers at the police"'.

Balwinder Singh Rana took part in our commemorative events in 2007 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, we did a walk around the route together which also included Red Saunders, founder of Rock Against Racism.

There's lots more information about the Battle of Lewisham here at Transpontine - to read all the posts see here.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Autumn festivals - Feast of St Gregorios and Halloween

The end of October/beginning of November is a time for many religious, spiritual and popular festivals - Halloween, All Saints Day, Bonfire Night etc. I stumbled across one of the lesser known ones this weekend when I saw a procession heading over Telegraph Hill carrying banners and singing hymns.

procession in Gellatly Road SE14
 I believe the procession was linked to the festival of St Gregorios of Parumala being celebrated at St Gregorios Indian Orthodox Church, based in Cranfield Road, Brockley SE4. The church is the main UK centre of the Indian Orthodox Church (also known as the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church), linked to Orthodox Christian churches in Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Armenia.. St Gregorious is the patron saint of this church and his feast day is the 4th November.

As for me, I just marked the turning of the seasons on October 31st with  few candles and putting a bird feeder on the apple tree. This year’s English summer seemed to go on forever  before suddenly shifting last week.

 ‘Samhain...The spirits  of place at this time have their own character. The skies are often thick with tumbling clouds, the fields are ploughed over, the dark earth rough and naked. Those creatures who would are now disappearing into their dens of hibernation, the summer birds have gone south. There is a silence, when the winds re still. The seas are high, the waves crashing upon the shores of our lands, rain wets the air and fills the rivers. It is important that we tap into how this makes us feel, how we respond to the coming winter – for we do, intuitively and subconsciously, just as much as the badger, house martin and field mouse, though we fight it with central heating and electric lights... setting out food for those creatures of the wild displaced by human dwellings…  affirming that we will fill the bird bath through the cold moons, all this can be done at this time’ (Emma Restall Orr, Ritual: a guide  to life, love and  inspiration, 2000).

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Boy who Stole Time - book launch at Crofton Books

'The Boy who stole time' is a new  young people's fantasy novel by Ladywell-based author Mark Bowsher (publicity says 'for fans of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pulman'). A book launch and reading is taking place on Sunday 28th October, 3 pm, at Crofton Books, 375 Brockley Road SE4 2AG. That's the excellent value second hand bookshop inside Crofton Park Library.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

More New Cross Faces from 1860s to 1900s

As mentioned before, I periodically look on Ebay and similar sites for interesting local photos (the ones here are all currently on sale, click links for futher details). I am particularly fascinated by the products of photographers' studios, of which there were a number on the New Cross Road in the Victorian/Edwardian era.

The first photo here is of a finely whiskered gentleman photographed by C.Goulder, Artist and Photographer, 341 New Cross Road (ebay link). Seemingly Charles Goulder was operating there in 1867, and at other premies in Deptford in the same period.

Elsewhere online I found this card from the photographer:

Often with these images we don't know who the subject is. What makes this next one quite intriguing is that there is some information, as the photo was sent as a postcard by the young man pictured. The photographer's address can be made on the back as 251 New Cross Road - I believe the photographer to be R & J Foster who had studios here and at 21 London Road, Greenwich

The postcard was sent from Peckham, on 4 January 1913 to a Miss Selina Cowen, 130 St James Street, Burnley (ebay details). The message reads 'My dear Selina, I am sending you my photo wishing a Happy New Year [loving?] brother Bennett'

The 1911 census has Selina Cowen, then aged 10, living at this address as the adopted daughter of Aaron (a tailor shopkeeper) and Annie Cowen. Intriguingly all three are stated to have been born in Russia, the parents having become 'naturalized British subjects' in 1895.  I would speculate that they could have been Russian Jewish emigres, Cowen was sometimes adopted as an anglicised version of Cohen.

I couldn't find any trace of a Bennett Cowen from this time, though maybe if his sister was adopted they could have had different names. As a long shot, there was a Bennett Cohen of around the right age (born c.1898) living with his father Abraham Cohen, another Russian born tailor, in Leeds in 1901 and 1911 Census.

The final photograph was taken by P. Luton of 24 New Cross Road in 1909. It shows the Swiss Gymnastic Society, London (ebay) - one of a number of societies at the time for Swiss people based in the capital.

See previous posts:

Rubber Johnny revival

We've mentioned late 1970s/early 1980s band Rubber Johnny before, including their residency in that period at the Royal Albert pub. Led by singer John Turner, the band grew out of the Deptford Albany and The Combination, the radical theatre project based there. They've started playing again recently and have gigs coming up this weekend (Friday 26th and and Saturday 27th October) at Greenwich Studio Theatre. This will include John Turner talking about music in the SE London area, which during that period spawned Dire Straits, Squeeze and the whole genre of  'Lovers Rock'. Details as follows:

'Rubber Johnny, a Deptford based band, started life as an interval trio for the Rock against Racism concerts at the Albany Empire Deptford in 1978. They are playing the Greenwich Studio Theatre on the Friday 26th and Saturday 27th of Oct at 7.30pm. From 1978 to 1983 they held residencies at local pubs in the area, played the London clubs and the University Circuit. On Hammer Records under the name The Alligators they released a single produced by Denis “Blackbeard” Bovell. Through the late 70s and early 80s they supported many benefits in the area. The original trio was John White harmonicas, Keith Moore guitar and John Turner on vocals.

The band’s Return in 2016 was as a result of a request from the Save Your local libraries Campaign and led to more performances in the pub scene of the area as well as a live CD (Return) of the current band in action. To the band's great amazement the Rubber Johnny material has been received with as great enthusiasm as it had ever been. The band is now Les Morgan drums, Joe Read bass, Steve Silverton guitar Ralph Winkler guitar, John White harmonica and John Turner on vocals. New songs have now been added to set.

This has led to the invitation to play the Greenwich Studio Theatre on Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8E6 Tel: 020 8858 7755. Admission will be £10.00 on the door. During introductions John Turner will be talking about music in the area during the life of the band'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'Today South London, Tomorrow South London' - Deserter book launch

Since it started in 2014, South London site Deserter has been a refreshing slacker 'voice of degeneration... an aspirational lifestyle website for those with a predilection for doing f**k all'. Most recently this has included a guide to all of SE London Wetherspoon pubs.

Now they have book coming out- Today South London, Tomorrow South London by Andrew Grumbridge and Vincent Raison, published by Unbound:

'The authors, under their noms de plume, Dulwich Raider and Dirty South, record offbeat days out and half-remembered urban adventures featuring pubs, cemeteries, galleries, hospitals and pubs again, often in the company of their volatile dealer, Half-life, and the much nicer Roxy. Part guide, part travelogue, this book is a collection of these tales with the addition of new material that their publisher absolutely insisted upon. South London, that maligned wasteland where cabbies once feared to drive, can no longer be ignored. The South is risen!'

The book is being launched at Dulwich Beer Dispensary on Nov 1st at 7.30. Deserter IPA (yes they have their own beer, brewed in Penge,) will be served.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Press Art School, Forest Hill (1905-1960)

An interesting find on a second hand stall in Lyme Regis over the summer was this brochure for The Press Arts School, a correspondence course in drawing run from Forest Hill. The brochure is undated but internal evidence suggests it was published during or shortly after the First World War.

The Press Art School was established by Percy Venner Bradshaw (1877-1965), who had studied art himself at a Goldsmith College evening class. In the 1901 census he is shown as living with his parents at 128 Drakefell Road SE14 but moved to 37 Dacres Road in Forest Hill SE23 after his 1910 marriage at St Catherine's Hatcham church. 

The correspondence course was prompted by the success of a series of articles on drawing Bradshaw wrote for the Boys Own Paper. Founded in 1905, The Press Art School moved in 1911 to the Tudor Hall in South Road, Forest Hill SE23. This former mansion had been built in 1854/5 as The Red Hall, before becoming a private girls' school known as Tudor House school from 1865 to 1908.

The building housed the Press Art School until it closed in 1960. Much of it was demolished in 1961, though part of it remains as flats (the section shown on the right below).

At its peak the Press Art School was a major operation, training would be commercial artists and amateur enthusiasts who would send in their work for evaluation and criticism. By 1916, it had 3,000 students signed up and 20 staff. Many of the illustrators for UK newspapers and magazines started out with one of Bradshaw’s courses, including Norman Pett who created popular Second World War cartoon strip ‘Jane’ for the Daily Mirror. Sculptor Henry Moore took lessons while serving with the army in World War One. One of Bradshaw’s later students in the 1950s was Ralph Steadman who recalled in a 1989 interview with The Comics Journal:

‘I saw an advert which said, “The Percy V. Bradshaw’s Press Art School Course. You too can learn to draw and earn pounds.” So my mother and father who were by this time a little distraught because I didn’t have a proper job, and I didn’t know what I was going to do, said, “If you’d like to take the course, since you’re drawing now, we’ll pay for it.” It was 18 lessons: 12 lessons spread over 12 months on how to draw, and the other six months learning how to be a cartoonist. The whole course cost 18 pounds — a pound a lesson, something like that — very cheap. My mother and father paid for it and then I went into the forces and whilst I was in the forces I did the course. I wish I kept the letters from Percy V. Bradshaw to me because of my complaints about the old-fashioned style of the course, and he’s saying, “Ah, my boy, the principles of drawing never change.” He’d get me to draw a pair of boots, put them on a table and draw them in dots, a pointillism technique, and gradually build up a pair of boots, and that would give you a sense of tonality. And then I’d do these various exercises and send them back to him. The guy would do a fairly descriptive criticism of what was either wrong or right... the cartoon course was very interesting. What he said is, “What you need to do is go out into public places and look at the people and keep a sketchbook and that way you’ll learn something about caricature”’.

Bradshaw engaged other illustrators to comment on students work, the best known of these tutors being W.Heath Robinson.