Monday, August 01, 2016

Brockley Launderette Closing in Endwell Road (update: features in David Bowie video)

The Launderette in Endwell Road, Brockley, SE4 is to close. A sign in its window gives a closing date as Sunday 18th September 2016. I don't know why, businesses close and indeed open all the time for all kinds of reason, but as Dave Hill highlighted earlier this year launderettes in London are vanishing fast.

Of course the need for launderettes has diminished since their heyday, as domestic washing machines have became more widespread and even student accommodation nowadays usually has access to one. But as with the also disappearing high street banks and post offices, the fact that many people no longer need or use them is no comfort to those who still rely on them.   

Not sure what the plans are for the place - it's actually an unusual and quite grand building, anybody know anything about its history, or for that matter its future?

'Back in the mid-1980s, launderettes - or laundrettes? - became fashionable in a very mid-1980s way. A TV commercial set in one famously rescued the ailing sales of Levis and the film My Beautiful Laundrette captured a London mood of the time: a blend of cultural tensions, economic change and sexual possibilities. Shot on a shoestring in south London, it contains a scene in which a crowd of customers gathers outside, impatient to be let in. It’s hard to imagine any screenwriter dreaming up quite such intense demand for a London launderette today' (Dave Hill, London's launderettes are closing but their value and beauty remains, Guardian, 24 January 2016)

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) - filmed around Battersea and  Wandsworth

Update (January 2017): Bowie video filmed in the Brockley Launderette

The Brockley Launderette features in the video for David Bowie's No Plan, released posthumously in January 2017 on what would have been the singer's 70th birthday. The video, directed by Tom Hingson,  has the launderette rechristened Newton Electrical with a group of passers-by gathering to watch a bank of TVs showing a rocket launch,  Thomas Newton was of course the character played by Bowie in the film 'The Man who Fell to Earth', directed by Nicholas Roeg (whose son Nico used to live - and maybe still does - just up the road from the launderette). The sharp eyed may notice the 'Foxgrove Road' street sign placed outside the shop - the name of a road in Beckenham where Bowie once lived.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1911 Post Office London Suburban Directory (public domain somewhere, but can't remember where I downloaded it) shows

Endwell House, owned by Jason Martin (approx where the car park of Stephens Court is now)


Martin J. & Son, dairymen (seems to be current launderette)
Witchell & Co. art metal workers (Martin's yard)
84A, Charrington,Sells,Dale & Co, coal merchant

The building on the corner of Endwell Street and Mantle Road was also a coal merchant.

The site that's now Seymour Gardens, south of the railway, was a Great Northern Railway coal depot. Dragonfly Place was Martins Yard, and what's now Brockley Cross Business Centre was Martins Sidings - more about Brockley Lane Station and sidings at shows Endwell House and coal depot. The maps back to the 1880s/90s seem to show the building that includes the current launderette in situ.

I'd say it's probable that the block was put up by / for James Martin & Sons - they are mentioned (as having farmed on what's now Telegraph Hill Park) -