Cold Blow Lane is one of the older roads in this part of London. Stanford’s map of London (1862-1871) shows that even after the birth of the railway most of the area north of New Cross Road was still fields and market gardens, but Cold Blow Lane is there heading to Cold Blow Farm, which was more or less on the site of Sanford Housing Co-op.
The brick walls feature a veritable museum of graffiti – football (the inevitable ‘Millwall’), politics (the old anarchist ‘Never Work’) and music (‘T.Rex’ – the latter must be over thirty years old). There used to be a nice piece of an angel on a swing by contemporary graffiti artist Arofish, but most of this has been pointlessly painted over. I don’t hold with the idea that graffiti pieces should be indefinitely preserved – ephemerality is part of the nature of graffiti - but in this context of a deserted tunnel it seems plain spiteful to eradicate it.
The Sanford Housing Co-op on Sanford Mews features a 1980s anti-war mural. 'Riders of the Apocalypse' by Brian Barnes (1983) includes images of Margaret Thatcher, Michael Heseltine and Ronald Reagan on cruise missiles.
Off Cold Blow Lane on the other side of the railway tracks, the newish Joseph Hardcastle Close is named after the slavery abolitionist who once lived nearby in Hatcham House. On the other side of the road, the modern flats of John Williams Close, Myers Lane, Bridge Meadows and Samuel Close were built in the 1990s on the site of the old Millwall Football Ground. Millwall played here from 1910 until they moved in 1993 to the New Den nearby.
John Williams Close includes the Manley Court Nursing Home, where Magda Pniewska worked and near to which she was shot dead on her way home last year. There is still a candle and a picture of her on the stairs which lead up to Bridge House Meadows, a green open space where once stood another sports venue – the New Cross Stadium (1913-1969), famous for speedway and, for a short while, stock car racing. The graffiti below is on a Transport for London box on the Meadows - next to it you can see my walking companion.