Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walking New Cross (9): Goodwood Road to Sterling Gardens

Goodwood Road runs down to a dead end from New Cross Road, with the Rising Sun cafe (formerly Moonbow Jakes) and Shalom Rev Christian bookshop occupying the corners. It is a bit of an architectural hotchpotch - a 19th century terrace, industrial buildings of various dates in different states of disrepair, and more or less brand new student accommodation sharing buildings with the New Cross Dialysis Centre and the New Cross NHS Walk-in Centre (below). The latter is something everyone round here should know about it - it is open from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday to Saturday and can treat minor injuries and illnesses without an appointment.
On the telephone lines across the road there are a couple or pairs of trainers hanging in the air - an international phenomenon and the subject of urban folklore.


Auburn Close is a small estate squeezed in between Goodwood Road and the railway line, managed by Wandle Housing. Further down, an alleyway at the bottom of Goodwood road has a chalked anti-violence message on the wall (Right Peace, Wrong Piece).
It leads through to Southerngate Way, with lots of small cul-de-sacs running off it (Pear Close, Tarragon Close, Silver Close, Woodrush Close, Redstart Close, Sorrel Close). This is a residential area (early 1990s?) and if not as green as the names might suggest, it is surprisingly leafy with lots of bushes and trees at the front of people's houses. See, for instance, these palm trees in Pear Close:


Another alleyway at the north end of Tarragon Close brings you out in Sterling Gardens, fairly modern flats, now best known as the scene of the brutal murder of two French students earlier in the year. Wandering around this new housing, much of it quite anonymous and featureless, even bland, caused me to reflect on how places acquire a history. I guess even the most apparently soulless places get woven into personal histories as people are born, play, fall in love, grow old and die there. These interconnecting intimate memories weave together a local community sense of place, into which are woven too the recollections of more dramatic events - wars, crimes, riots, the achievements of those who lived there and went on to be writers, footballers, pop stars... So in New Cross, as everywhere else, every street has a story even if it can't immediately be read off the buildings like in places with more obviously 'historic' architecture.

On Southerngate Way (left) and Goodwood Road (right) there are surviving stink pipes, sewage ventilation pipes first put up in Victorian times to clear noxious gases from the sewer system. For years I thought these were just lamposts with the lights removed, now I know differently and keep spotting them everywhere.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sterling Gardens looks lovely - completely the opposite to what you'd expect after reading the headlines earlier this year. Not the best way to put New Cross on the map, but it has done. I believe the house in question was the first one on the right as you go in as it was quite heavily taped up.

Danja said...

Have you ever looked at the sewer maps? New Cross has the honour of carrying two of the biggest mainline sewers - basically most of South London's effluent flows beneath us. I found out when we built an extension, Thames Water objected, and we found that 2 10ft sewers pass underneath our neighbour's house (18m down, quite a victorian feat of engineering).

wonder we need stench pipes.

Transpontine said...

Wonder where it all goes? And do the stink pipes still function?

benjamin_sanguine said...

You probably already covered this at some point - you're always so thorough and knowledgeable, it's a priviledge to to read - but the building housing Rising Sun Café and Iceland was built in the place of a Woolworths which was hit by a V2 rocket, in one of the worst civilian incidents of WW2.