Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Underground New Cross, 1967-73

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a record shop in New Cross was one of the local hubs for the cultural underground. Chris Wellard Records at 6 Lewisham Way, SE14, advertised regularly in The International Times, the main underground paper, which was available in the shop. Its exact location is given in 1973 advert: 'If you feel like having a browse around get a train (from Charing X, etc) to New Cross, turn right and walk 200 vards- we're opposite you; or get a bus(36, 177 etc) to The Marquis (New Cross); we're opposite that. Early Closing Thursday' (IT, 11 January 1973).

Another advert from 1967 (28 July) went so far as to proclaim it as 'London's most aware record shop': 'THE PSYCHEDELIC SAXOPHONE OF CHARLIE NOTHING. One of the flippers currently making the scene in San Francisco. Also BLIND JOE DEATH, JOHN FAHEY, ROBBIE BASHO, and others—Great Guitarists spawned from the incredible SAN FRANCISCO Flower Movement. Records on sale from London's most aware record shop. Call or write for list & details to CHRIS WELLARD RECORDS, 6 Lewisham Way New Cross, London, SE-14'

As this suggests, jazz was the main musical focus of the shop. Indeed the National Jazz Convention, held at Conway Hall in 1969 ( used the shop as a mailing address (IT, 23 May 1969) as did Chris Trimming of the London Blues Society (IT, 28 June 1968).

This is confirmed in an article on record shops in IT (which also displays the casual sexism of many on the 'alternative' hippy scene): 'Chris Wellard of New Cross was my final call. This shop has a small window display, but inside folk, blues and jazz music are the main interests of the staff. Books on blues and folk were on sale, as well as IT, Time Out and other journals. Tony and Chris, who I interviewed, had a lot to say about the jazz scene, andthought that CBS were the only company really interested in jazz. They thought EMI covers were pitiful and their presentation generally bad. Albums far outsold singles in recent months, they told me, and I also heard a tale of how Saturdays in the shop often end up with alcoholic frivolities. The interview ended when Tony spotted a gorgeous chick with especially large tits on the opposite pavement and we all went to have a look at her. For a provincial shop, Chris Wellard have a nice scene going, especially if you are interested in jazz, which they will discuss with you at length'. (26 September 1969). Later Chris Wellard Records seems to have moved to 4 Chequers Parade, Off Passey Place, Eltham, London SE9 (as advertised in Gramophone Magazine, July 1974).

IT also mentions a couple of times a locally produced zine: 'JUNK, a SE London mag costs 1/- from 281 New Cross Rd., SE14... Poetry, cut-out, cartoons, friendly tone. The friendliest thing I've read for a long time. 'Rupert is at your door".(IT, 13 March 1970). Later the address is given as 243a Lewisham Way, SE4 (IT, 8 October 1970), from where Chris of Junk magazine wrote a letter criticising a music festival: 'Here was an opportunity for alternatives - what did we get? a pile of garbage worthy of a bunch of daytrippers. One final thought: why do people go to a capitalist festival anyway?!?'.

Don't know if either Chris (Wellard or Junk) is still out there? Anybody have any memories of the record shop and/or magazine?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Angular Records Spotify Playlists

At The Quietus, Joe D and Joe M from Angular Recording Corporation show off their impeccable taste, discussing the spotify playlists they have composed of the music that has influenced them.

As the article states: 'Estate agents and homeowners in a certain London postcode have much to thank Angular Records for. It was their label, Angular Records, that a few years ago put New Cross on the map with a series of legendary gigs and a terrific run of new, early singles and compilation tracks from the likes of The Long Blondes, Bloc Party and Art Brut'.

Naturally, I am sceptical of the notion that New X needed to be put on the map (it already was), but Angular certainly created a huge buzz about the 'New Cross Scene' via those nights at the Paradise Bar and elsewhere, and their 2003 New Cross compilation.

Like Factory Records, ARC give a number to everything they are involved in. The New Cross compilation was ARC002, but the very first ARC001 was a redecorated trig point on Hilly Fields, with the label's logo inspired by the design on the top.

The two Joes, ex-Goldsmiths students, were living locally when they started Angular (I remember Joe M worked for a while in Toads Mouth Too cafe in Brockley), but have since moved on. They certainly made an impact on New Cross, and indeed without them Transpontine probably wouldn't exist. It was going out to some of their gigs that got me excited enough about what was going on locally to want to document it. Indeed the second ever post at Transpontine, in October 2004, was about an Angular night at Goldsmiths.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

South Bank Subterranean Stories

This message popped up on the Folklore Society's Talking Folklore email list yesterday from Martin Goodson:

Just to report sitting on the number 36 bus yesterday from Peckham to Victoria in London. Three students got on outside the art college at Camberwell. We approached the big beige battleship known as the MI5 building at Vauxhall when one of the students piped up

"You know that in case of emergency I've heard that it (MI5 building) [actually MI6], can sink down and go under the river."

General hilarity broke out from the other students

"No, it's true, it can. I've also heard it can turn black so that it cannot be attacked at night."

Level of hilarity increases, but the student persevered in her conviction that this building is now equipped with quite SFX qualities to protect itself in case of attack.

Martin asked if anyone else has heard this rumour.

A response came from another list member who referred everyone to this video on the Daily Telegraph site which describes, firstly, the building as 'Legoland', fitting into an earlier Transpontine thread, and also mentions, 24 seconds in, of a secret tunnel that supposedly runs from MI6 to Vauxhall tube.

Has anyone heard more?

Cut a Shine at the Rivoli

A great opportunity to enjoy the splendour of the Rivoli Ballroom (Crofton Park) coming up with the launch event for Lewisham People's Day on Friday 3rd July.

Cut a Shine will be headlining with their '21st Century Barn Dance', by all accounts a guaranteed excellent night out (here they are in action at Finsbury Town Hall). Support will be locals Brockley Ukulele Group.

Tickets are available here (£9 or £10 on the door).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Devils at the Monty

Blues from the South London Delta this Thursday:

'This Thursday, Little Devils are playing down at The Montague Arms, Queens Road, SE15 2PA - we will be on stage around 8.30pm. There are some special guests including Superbia - who are new faces to The Monty. Pop along if you can and hear some 21st century blues with Phil Nice, Yoka the Dutch Diva, Vivienne Soan, Alex Brewood, special guest drummer, John Gregory and Graeme Wheatley. (album on sale too!!!). Entry is £5.00 (£3.00 un-washed). Hope to see you there'.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bailiffs at Lewisham Bridge

A message from the Lewisham Bridge Primary School occupiers:

An eviction notice has been served on the occupation at Lewisham Bridge. Bailiffs are arriving at 10.30 on Wednesday morning. Hands Off Lewisham Bridge are asking for your support in resisting the eviction. We need as many people as possible to stay overnight on Tuesday. If you can't stay overnight then please come down as early as possible on Wednesday morning to support the occupation.

We want to let Lewisham Council know that they are evicting people who have been peacefully protesting over the destruction of community education at our school. Lewisham Council still don't have planning permission for their new school. Lewisham Council still haven't told us why the decant had to take place at Easter, when children were taking SATs and banding tests. Lewisham Council still haven't told us why they are prepared to wash their hands of the responsibility of educating our children.

If Lewisham Bridge Primary School is given to Leathersellers we parents will have no say in the governance of our school. Staff will be employed by Leathersellers who will set their own terms and conditions taking those teachers out of a collective national teaching body.This is privatisation! This is bringing the market into our kids' education, where the only motivation is profit and the only measure is league tables and headcount. Competition will be the name of the game. Trusts and academies will compete for those children they believe to be desirable and leave those whom they don't on the scrapheap.

Why have Prendergast rejected the Travellers Education Service that used to be based at the school? Why have Prendergast rejected the proposal to establish a SEN unit at the new school? A consultation process has already started for a trust led by Goldsmiths University which will govern 3 schools: Addey & Stanhope, Deptford Green and Crossways. It is a process that has exactly the same goal. To take our schools out of the public sector and hand them over to the private sector. We cannot let them get away with this. We can fight this together and we can win! Come down to Lewisham Bridge Primary School and let the bailiffs know that we're not going easily.

Hands Off Lewisham Bridge 07946 541 331.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hilly Fields Solstice Sunrise

About ten people watched the sunrise at Hilly Fields this morning, with a few more jumping on the Stone Circle. Hilly Fields Stone Circle itself doesn't give a good view of the Summer Solstice sunrise, it's better in the winter, which does confuse people. One person asked us whether the Stone Circle had been put in "the wrong place?"
Brockley harvested and brewed elderflower champagne was drunk, people did little personal rituals. Some burnt paper, some drummed, some held hands and cried. Marking the Solstice is an ritual or custom without a rulebook, everyone celebrates the sun in their own way.

Friday, June 19, 2009

London Sound Survey

London Sound Survey is exactly what it says it is - 'Recordings of background atmospheres and incidental noises from all over London'. Thrill to the sound of the traffic on the New Cross Road (recorded in St James), gasp at the slightly different traffic sound on Shooters Hill Road, wonder at the bird song and man coughing on Kilmorie Road, Forest Hill. There's fruit and veg sellers on Woolwich Market, Saxon Sound System at Notting Hill Carnival and Millwall fans (home game against Stockport, 2008). It's the quality of these stereo recordings that give it the edge - listening to it on headphones I found myself turning round looking for the sound source.

There's also a nice history section, with descriptions of lost London soundscapes, such as this from Samuel Pepys on Rotherhithe: 'so we took boat, and it being darke and the thaw having broke the ice, but not carried it quite away, the boat did pass through so much of it all along, and that with the crackling and noise that it made me fearfull indeed'.

Juno, the Lady Wrestler of Brockley

From the Penny Illustrated Paper, November 10, 1906:

'London is shortly to be provided with a new sensation - the lady-wrestler. At the present moment, there is living, not a hundred miles from London - to be more exact, at Brockley, in Kent - a lady named Miss Juno May, who will shortly make her first public appearance with an open challenge to any other woman-wrestler for £1000.

Miss May, who is only twenty-two years of a age, and who is a British girl born and bread - she was born in Kent - is well named Juno, for she is of exceedingly attractive appearance, and indeed, anything more unlike the average strong woman could not well be imagined. Standing over six feet in height, Miss May is perfectly proportioned, and is the possessor of beautifully-shaped hands and feet. In colouring she is dark, with blue eyes, a clear skin and very regular features'.

Full story here. Did anyone ever rise to her £1000 Challenge? I haven't been able to find out any more about her, but the article mentions that her trainer was Mr Antonio Pierri. There are several mentions of him online - among other things he seems to have both fought and later managed the famous wrestler of the time Youssuf Ishmaelo, the Terrible Turk

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Southside that's where it's coming from...

2005 Grime classic from Southside Allstars name checking all the Transpontine zones and more: 'Forest Hill, Sydenham, Honor Oak Park, Brockley, Bromley, Caford, Downham, Lewisham, New Cross...'

(thank to Clive for the link)

Monday, June 15, 2009

All’s Fair at Horn Fair

Rediscovered Urban Rituals, who helped organised a fantastic May Day Jack in the Green procession in Deptford in 2006, are recreating the famous Charlton Horn Fair procession in a couple of weeks.

The procession of 'Hornified Fumblers', traditionally met at Cuckolds point in Rotherhithe, after crossing the Thames, from the city. They would process through Deptford, Greenwich and onto the Charlton Horn Fair. The Horn Fair was granted a charter by the Abbot of Bermondsey in 1268 for an annual fair to be held at Charlton, but was eventually banned by the Victorians in 1872 for ‘licentious conduct’. The celebrants would dress up in drag and adorn horns & masks to attend this carnival of cuckoldry, cross-dressing and the wearing of horns possibly evoking ancient ritual & fertility symbolism. Historically, references to the date of the Horn fair range from Spring through Midsummer being moved in the 17th Century to October 18th – St Luke’s day whose symbol is the bull.

You are welcome to come along and join in the procession on June 28th 2009 this year, starting From Cuckolds Point, Rotherhithe (on the river near to the Rotherhithe Hilton), through Deptford and Greenwich to Charlton House. It will start at 10.30am sharp .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get to the Albany...

A great summer's night entertainment coming up at the Albany next week. Maybe I just haven't been getting out enough but it did feel as if New X/Detpford was at risk of losing its edge a bit as incubator of great new music. But judging by this the next wave is coming through - so get down there and then you will be able to say, like those of us lucky enough to be in the Paradise Bar four or five years ago, that you saw x, y, z when they were still playing in small venues in the area.

On Thursday June 18th 2009 at the Albany in Deptford (Douglas Way SE8), OOXXOO and the Albany present...

The Invisible : Fresh from a crazy six months supporting Hot Chip, the Doves and Foals, the Invisible are some of the most talented musicians to come out of South East London in the past few years. They are also some ofthe most well liked and most respected, it is a real pleasure to havethem headline and showcase their work.

Alexis Taylor [Hot Chip] DJ Set: Alexis is taking a well-earned break from finishing the recording of the new Hot Chip album to come down to Deptford and play his selection of the best dance music around.

Laetitia Stereolab / Marie Lisbonne DJ Set: spinning some records as well as showcasing their joint project Monade.

Exlovers, - recently finished recording an EP with Stephen Street [The Smiths, Blur] and have been band of the week on Steve Lamacq twice.Dimbleby & Capper - Laura Bettinson [aka Dimbleby and Capper] pours her sweet and sultry vocal styles over beautifully constructed songs.

David Jay - 'The Vocal Pugilist' - spoken word artist, check this out.

Plus No Pain in Pop DJs and in the Cafe area A Little Bazaar Market with record stalls, traditional jumble, badge making, Vintage clothes and more... and Zineswap (just what is says).

Advance tickets £6 from Albany Box Office (0208 692 4446) or £6/5 NUS on the door. Doors open 7.30pm.

New Cross New Orleans Waltz

Music and late night this Saturday (June 13th) at Café Crema, with a free New Orleans New Cross Anniversary Waltz from 8.00 'til late. There's a jamming session round the piano with free drinks for good musicians - bring guitars/saxophones/fiddles and harmonies. Tragic Roundabout will play a set at around 8.30 to start the show - they were a lot of fun last time they played here.

Cafe Crema 306 New Cross Road London SE14 6AF. 2mins from New x Gate tube and mainline. Easy on the buses. mob 07905 961 876/ 07905 552 571. www.cafecremaevents.co.uk

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Place Names

At his new site Humphrey with His Flail, folklorist Paul Cowdell mentions that Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park by the Imperial War Museum was, up until at least the 1970s, known to many locals as Bedlam Park, on account of it being the site of the Bethlehem Mental Hospital from 1815 to 1930. This is a good example of an unofficial place name preserving the memory of old names and places.

Can you think of any other examples of South East London places where the names people use (or have used) for them differ from the official names given on maps and street signs?

The best example I can think of is The Blue in Bermondsey, a name still commonly used to describe the market and a specific stretch of Southwark Park Road near to the Blue Anchor pub. There has been a pub with this name there since at least the 17th century and the road by it was actually only renamed from Blue Anchor Lane to Southwark Park Road in 1878. It was originally a raised causeway aross the marshy ground.

Another minor example is East Street, home to the well-known market in Walworth. I have heard people refer to it as East Lane, its previous moniker.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Trees, Weeds and Folklore

At South East London Folklore Society next week (Thursday 11th June), Roy Vickery of the South London Botanical Institute will be talking on 'Trees, Weeds and Folklore', discussing current beliefs and practices about some common plants.

SELFS meets at The Old King's Head, Kings Head Yard, 45-49, Borough High St, London, SE1 1NA (see map). Talks start at 8.00pm, £2.50 / £1.50 concessions.

Greenwich Witch Bottle

Yesterday's New Scientist reports the finding of a 17th century 'witch bottle' in Greenwich (location not mentioned), containing urine, 'bent nails and pins, a nail-pierced leather "heart", fingernail clippings, navel fluff and hair. The presence of iron sulphide in the mixture also suggests that sulphur or brimstone had been added'. The bottle had apparently been deliberately buried with this mixture to ward off spells. Full story here; more pictures here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lewisham River Attacks Tory

But it spits him out again.

The river clean-up that nearly cleaned the Mayoral office up is organised by Quaggy Waterways Action Group.

David Gedge in Brixton

Treat for fans of 80s/90s indie-stars The Wedding Present tomorrow night (Friday june 5th), handsome singer David Gedge is DJing at the fab How Does it Feel? club in Brixton alongside its regular fare of 'indie pop, northern soul, tamla motown, girl groups, and sixties heartbreak'. It's at the Canterbury Arms, Brixton, 9pm-2am, £4 members, £6 non members (but membership is free).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Occult Lewisham Films for free

Brockley Max is presents a taster of the cryptozoological-Brockley film Bigfoot of Suburbia and a preview of an occult Deptford film King of Deptford Creek tonight, for free, at the Ladywell Tavern at 7pm.

May well see you there.

Details are:

Bigfoot of Suburbia (2006). Written and Directed by Fred Rowson. Starring Richard Proctor
King of Deptford Creek (2009). Written and Directed by Fred Rowson. Starring: Simon Pearsall, Director of Photography: Jaime Feliu Torres

Tank Gallery presents two films by local Filmmaker Fred Rowson. We will first introduce a taster of Bigfoot of Suburbia whose main character, Peter Kingsley, is a jobless loner, lost in the heat of a South London summer. However, when a brief local news story catches his attention, his life is given a purpose: even if it costs him his reputation and his home, he knows that he must track down the mysterious beast that is hiding in his local park, Hilly Fields…

We will then screen a full preview of King of Deptford Creek, due to make the round on the festival circuit this summer. This is the story of a South London-based Private Investigator, Eliot, whose journey to find the missing Philip obsesses him to the point that he drops out of society. He becomes so caught up in the search that he too disappears - thanks in equal parts to a failing marriage and a missing diary. The story is set around a Thames tributary, The Ravensbourne, and its tidal reach, known as Deptford Creek, an eerie environment that slowly swallows Eliot’s identity.

The audience are then invited to join us in an informal discussion with a small panel including Fred Rowson and Richard Proctor. The audience will get the chance to see a full screening of Bigfoot of Suburbia either after the discussion or on a later date.

Entrance Fee: Free
Venue: Tank Gallery at the Ladywell Tavern
80 Ladywell Road London SE13 7HS

Crumpage at the Montague

The penultimate monthly Coronary Crumpage at the Montague Arms (289 Queens, SE15) takes place this Thursday. They say:

'All the way from California we have the wonderful Joni Davis (if she can make it to New Cross, so can you!). We are also proud to present the completely unique, beautiful and slightly maniacal ginger pop of Alice and the Cool Dudes. And the icing (or perhaps sponge) of the cake comes courtesy of the consistently brilliant Simon Bookish, who will be performing music from his current album 'Everything/Everything' (buy this album now- it will enrich your life!).

As ever, compilation cds featuring music by the performers will be available at the heart-stoppingly reasonable price of 3 of your earth £'s!!!! Let nothing stand in your way. Come and be part of the experience. We long to share the delights of Crumpage with you'. £6/£4 with flyer (see attached), doors 8pm.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Welcome to Engate Street.....

.... where reality comes to an end.

Welcome to Engate Street
Originally uploaded by skitster

I noticed the wonky roadsign in Lewisham a while back. Since posting it on flickr I'm found a few other folks following this sign, including providing updates.
Thanks to QuiteKate for the update.

Tidemill School History Project

(1943 school concert programme - click to enlarge)

Pupils from Tidemill Primary School in Deptford have been involved in an oral history project, exploring the history of their school. Some of this is currently displayed in Deptford Library (Wavelengths). The most evocative image for me is the programme from a 1943 school concert, a time when the Frankham Street School (as Tidemill was then called) was evacuated to Robeston Wathen in Pembrokeshire.

As a parent who has sat through many school concerts, including countless versions of modern uplifting ballads like 'Something inside so strong', it was interesting to see what a performance from the Second World War period might include. This concert included country dancing, poems and songs included 'Whistle while you work', 'The Lass with the Delicate Air', 'Glad that I live am I' and a closing 'National Anthem'.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Camber Well Found

I do, of course, love London's wells and their folklore. Thanks to Ross MacFarlane for passing this one. More of Ross's forthcoming Greenwich walk soon.

Ancient well that gave name to Camberwell unearthed

An ancient well that gave its name to the London district of Camberwell has been unearthed in a woman's back garden.

The original Camber Well, which is believed to be between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, was covered up more than a century ago after falling into disuse.

But local historian
John Chaple used 19th Century Ordinance Survey maps to pinpoint its location – behind the home of 64-year-old Noreen Morrin.

Archaeologists have confirmed his discovery, and Southwark Council has now offered to erect a commemorative plaque near her south London home.

Mr Chaple said: "I live in Camberwell and have been fascinated for a long time by the Camber Well, which people trekked to from all over Peckham and Dulwich for their drinking water.

"I managed to persuade Noreen to let me dig up her lawn and filled several huge bags with soil. Luckily, she was interested in local history too.

He added: "I was only about two feet out, which shows the incredible accuracy of the maps. Four or five feet under the lawn there was a big void, which was exciting to find.

"It is possible the well has gone dry but I would be surprised if there wasn't water down there. It will be expensive to excavate but I would love to find out."

Mrs Morrin, a former midwife, said: "It is amazing to have such a piece of ancient history in my garden."

Some history books have claimed that "camber"' meant crooked and that water from the Camber Well could cure "crippled or crooked people".

Another theory is that the well was named after Prince Camber, son of Brutus of Troy who according to legend was the founder of London.

Brockley Max Opening Night

There was sun-kissed dancing on the streets of Brockley on Friday night at the opening of the Brockley Max Festival. We didn't manage to take in all the bands playing by the Bob Marley/Maya Angelou mural opposite the Brockley Barge, but as well as the Brockley Ukulele Group set - pictured at Brockley Central - did take in J'Adore L'Amour (pleased to see they also wielded a ukulele in their version of Five Years Time)...

...and The Grey Cats, who played a good set of covers including Pressure Drop, Rudy Can't Fail and Police on My Back. They are playing at the Montague Arms on Friday 19 June and Tuesday 30 June.

Lots more music coming up in the rest of Brockley Max this week, including big event on Hilly Fields next Saturday. Here's some film from Friday Night of J'Adore L'Amour: