Wednesday, April 23, 2014

May Day events next week

Next Monday April 28, Haunt London presents:

May Day in South London and the Jack-in-the-Green Day in South London and the Jack-in-the-Gr
'The first day of May has long been a time of riots, revelry, ribaldry and the Jack-in-the-Green, a dancing leafy green giant once seen all over London and revived in Deptford thirty years ago this year by the Fowlers Troop.

Come hear of London customs and celebrations and protest from Sarah Crofts of the Fowlers Troop, Dave Aylward of Fowlers Troop and Blurt and Neil Transpontine, south London blogger and historian. It will be a night with talks and film that will include chimney-sweep celebrations, possible neo-paganism, anarchists and the story of David Bowie and the Bromley May Queens.

The Miller Pub, 96 Snowfields, SE1 3SS, 8 pm (£3/£2 concessions)

(facebook event details)

Deptford Jack in the Green

Meanwhile on May Day itself, the Deptford Jack in the Green/Fowlers Troop will be parading through Greenwich and Deptford, details as follows:

Thursday 1st May 2014

11.30 meet: Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St  London, London SE8 3JD, leave at 12.00,
12.15: Duke, 125 Creek Rd, London SE8 3BU, leave at 12.30,
12.45: Old Loyal Britons, 62 Thames St, London SE10 9BX [lunch stop], leave at 13.30, via Old Royal Naval College*,
14.00: Star and Garter, 60 Old Woolwich Rd, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY, leave at 14.35,
14.50: Plume of Feathers, 19 Park Vista  London, London SE10 9LZ, leave at 15.20, via Greenwich Park*,
16.00: Greenwich Union, 56, Royal Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8RT, leave at 16.30,
17.00: Ashburnham Arms, 25 Ashburnham Grove,  Greenwich, London SE10 8UH.

All times approximate.

Dressing the Jack will take place from 20.00 on Wednesday 30th April at the Dog and Bell, any flowers you have will be very welcome. Further details here

Deptford Jack in the Green on Creek Road in 2013

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

South London Anti Fascists meeting tomorrow

On Sunday 27th April far right fragment 'March for England' is planning to march in Brighton, and anti-fascists are mobilising to stop them. According to Anti-Fascist Network

'For the last few years there has been an annual far-right event in Brighton held around St George’s Day in April. The “March for England” which is confusingly both an organisation and an event has held a march through the town to ‘celebrate’ St George’s Day since 2008... Campaign group Stop the March for England has organised thousands of local Brighton residents to take to the streets to oppose the racists, seeing them massively outnumbered and being escorted totally surrounded by police through huge crowds of jeering heckling Brightonians' (more here).

South London Anti Fascists will be heading to Brighton, and those interested in joining them are invited to a public meeting/briefing tomorrow night (Wednesday 23 April). Meet at 7:00 pm sharp by the Marquis of Granby, 322 New Cross Road, from where people will head to the meeting venue.

Billie and Bowie Murals - Nunhead and Brixton

A new mural featuring Billie Holiday has popped up in Nunhead - there was previously a photograph of her in the window of that shopfront at 40 Nunhead Green.

Also took this photo in Brixton last week of the David Bowie mural on the side of Morley's department store. Painted by James Cochran (JimmyC) last year it commemorates the fact Bowie was born round the corner at 40 Stansfield Road, Brixton in 1947 (more at BrixtonBlog

Monday, April 21, 2014

Music (and poetry) Monday: Joseph O'Connor

As part of the Irish President's recent state visit to London, there was a night of Irish music broadcast on BBC-4 as 'Ultimate Irish Music at the Royal Albert Hall: A Presidential Celebration'.

Truth be told it was a bit patchy, but one of the strongest parts was a reading from the writer Joseph O'Connor, best known for his novels 'Star of the Sea' and 'Redemption Falls' (and incidentally Sinead O'Connor's older brother). His poem drew on the experience of London Irish migrant workers, with some nice South London references:

'the dancehall in Brixton, the chapel in Bow,
oh the freeze of a South East London morning,
digging trench tunnels in the Lewisham snow,

... remember me sister, in Stepney and Bayswater, is all I ask,
without sorrow or hate in Harwich and Deptford and Romford and Woolwich,
in Canning Town, in New Cross Gate,
through the city of songs where the sweet Thames flows for a London calling with lustre and light,
from the Waterloo Sunset to the rainy nights of Soho,
and down in the tube station at midnight where I drove their trains, where I hefted a pick,
as my daughters taught their children or nursed their sick...'

Joseph O'Connor

O'Connor lived in Lewisham in the late 1980s, not sure exactly where. As mentioned here before 'Star of the Sea', a novel of 19th century Irish emigration, features a criminal parody of the Lord's prayer with the words 'Our old guv'nor,which dosses in Lewisham, swelled by thy moniker, Thy racket be come, thy crack-job be done'.

O'Connor's Albert Hall poem reminded me of Dominic Behan's song McAlpine's Fusiliers, a ballad of road digging and building sites most famously performed by The Dubliners (less famously we used to play/sing it in a session at the now demolished St George's Tavern in Lambeth Road SE1 in the early 1990s):

'I've worked till the sweat near has me beat
With Russian, Czech and Pole
On shuttering jams up in the hydro dams
Or underneath the Thames in a hole;
I grafted hard and I got me cards
And many a ganger's fist across me ears;
If you pride your life, don't join, by Christ,
With McAlpine's Fusiliers'.

The ghost of the Behans was certainly hovering over the Albert Hall the other night, it ended up with Elvis Costello, Lisa Hannigan, Paul Brady, Imelda May, Andy Irvine and others singing Brendan Behan's The Auld Triangle.

If I ever get the time I could surely write a good few posts about the Behans in South London.... Brendan finishing off his play The Hostage at Joan Littlewood's house in Blackheath, Brian being jailed for his role in the South Bank builders strike in the late 1950s... more to come (maybe).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hilly Fields Teepees

Sad as it was to see some trees come down in Hilly Fields in last October's storm (see photos here), it's good to see branches being put to good use to create these little 'teepee' structures. There's three of them close to the Montague Avenue SE4 end of the park

Friday, April 18, 2014

Has The Tide Turned? - 21 Years of Urban Change in Deptford

It is two decades since Jess Steele published her book 'Turning the Tide: the history of everyday Deptford' at the height of the Deptford City Challenge regeneration programme. Next Friday April 25th 2014, the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths is holding an event to look at what's changed since and 'possible futures for the area'.

In the afternoon (3.30 – 5.30) there will be a seminar on 'The changing face of “regeneration” in London' with short talks from speakers including Alison Rooke, Michael Keith, Heidi Seetzen, Rob Imrie and Luna Glucksberg

From 5.30 – 6.00 there will be 'Screenings and sound intervention: Creative Responses to Urban Change in Deptford' (food and drinks provided)

And then from 6.00 – 8.00 there will be a Workshop on '21 Years of Urban Regeneration in Deptford' starting with 'Short provocations by: Ben Gidley, Jess Steele, Jessica Leech, Neil Transpontine, and Joe Montgomery' followed by roundtable discussions on areas including:

- Creative Deptford: arts, culture and regeneration
- Housing and neighbourhood
- DIY Deptford: regeneration from below?
- Convoys Wharf: regeneration or land grab?
- The changing face of Deptford: migration, identity, diversity and generation

Don't worry if you can't make it to the afternoon session and just want to come to the Deptford session from 6:00pm.  The event is free and will take place in the Deptford Town Hall Council Chamber, all welcome, but please register in advance if possible so that they can plan for numbers (email

As you can see I will be having a short 'provocation' spot, there are others local bloggers better qualified no doubt, but with my local history hat on I don't think I will have any trouble filling my ten minutes!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Launch of WAVES Lewisham (Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity)

Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity (WAVES)  is a new 'grassroots organisation promoting a community based response to violence against women & girls in Lewisham... Each year across the UK up to 3 million women and girls experience violence, and there are many more living with the legacies of abuse experienced in the past. In the UK it includes: domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, crimes in the name of honour, trafficking, sexual exploitation and sometime murder. It is mostly committed by men that women know or are in a close relationship with... Set up in 2014, WAVES is a group of local women campaigning in the borough of Lewisham to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We believe that bottom-up community led change can complement the work of bodies like the police and council to tackle violence in the borough.We think Lewisham is a great place with a strong tradition of communities coming together for social justice. Led by women, we welcome male supporters who endorse our call for better prevention, protection and provision to address violence against women and girls'.

As a launch event on Saturday 26 April (2 pm), they are visting Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery to  commemorate a young woman who died 140 years ago:

'We will be placing flowers on the grave of Jane Maria Clouson, a pregnant Lewisham teenager who was murdered in April 1871. The people of South East London lined the streets from Deptford to Brockley for her funeral procession and, unusually for time, the coffin was carried by women, dressed as maids. The memorial, was paid for by public subscription and there was a great outcry when the murder suspect, her employer's son, was acquitted.  We are asking women who join us to wear black, if possible, and bring purple flowers to place on the grave.

Unfortunately, Jane's death is not just an interesting piece of social history. Today, nationally on average, two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. And domestic workers, often migrant women, are regularly subject to physical, sexual and other forms of abuse.

We want to build on the tradition of local community solidarity with women and girls harmed by male violence. We would be delighted to welcome new women who are interested in talking to us about what we can do locally about violence against women and girls today. However, please remember this a cemetery which is still used and there may be people in the vicinity visiting the graves of loved ones who have died more recently so we want our presence at the grave to be quiet and dignified.

Our graveside event will followed by a short meeting at 2.30pm in Huxbear Hall, Huxbear Street, SE4 1EA which is opposite the Brockley Grove gate on the P4 bus route'.

Deptford-born Clouson was found mortally injured in Kidbrooke Lane and died soon afterwards in Guys Hospital. For the full story of what became known as 'the Eltham murder', see this article by Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bob's Abandoned Bike Shop on the Old Kent Road

These empty shop fronts on the Old Kent Road (opposite Asylum Road, near to Toys R Us) have been decorated with signs saying 'Untitled Ltd' and 'Bob's Abandoned Bike Shop'. The typography makes me suspect that the artist Bob & Roberta Smith may have been involved, but I may be wrong - anyone know anymore?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Music Monday: Akwaba and Lewisham Bridge Primary School Choir 1983

Last week I was DJing at the Agit Disco benefit for Housmans bookshop at the Surya Bar in Islington, also on the bill was John Eden (Uncarved) who kindly gave me this record he had found in his crate digging for reggae classics and obscurities.

'El Condor Pasa' by Akwaba is a cover in a lovers rock style of the Simon and Garfunkel song. It was released on Small Axe records in 1983 and recorded at Mad Professor's Ariwa Studio, which as we have established here before was at 42 Gautrey Road SE15 in this period. Not one of the greatest productions from this studio, but what is of Transpontine interest is that it features 'Garry Hall and the Lewisham Bridge Primary School Choir'. I don't know any more about it than that, but would be interested if anybody who was at the school at that time, or was even in the choir, can tell us more.

If someone who sang on it comes forward with the story, they can have the 7" single as a prize!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Marathon Medal Map

Images of London on the medal from today's London Marathon. One side shows the route with South London landmarks identified on it including Greenwich Park, the Cutty Sark, 02 Arena, London Eye and Surrey Quays.

The other side shows a view down the river from east of Tower Bridge, with the Shard, London Eye, City Hall and various buildings around Tooley St/London Bridge identifiable.

(this was my marshall's medal - runners had the same design with a gold colour)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A little bit of Deptford in Brazil: Stone's Engineering

A friend has sent me a picture from Brazil of a drain cover marked 'J. Stone & Co. Engineers, Deptford, London SE'. As he explains: 'Spotted today inside the grounds of the Palácio do Catete in Rio de Janeiro. The Palace was the Presidential Palace from 1897 until 1960 when the capital city changed to Brasilia. Nice to know they got Deptford makers into the gaff in the early days to provide metalwork of drain covers'.

Stone's Engineering was based in Arklow Road, Deptford from 1881 until the factory closed in 1969. As well as making drain covers, they made propellors and other parts for ships, trains and planes. Their work travelled round the world - Grace's Guide to British Industrial Industry has examples spotted in Barbados and Uruguay.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ceri James album launch at the Duke

Ceri James has been a key part of the SE London live music scene for as long as this blog has been going, and over the years we have featured some of his songs here (including 'Blythe Hill Fields', 'Deptford Broadway' and the New Cross cultural history of 'The Real Coffee Shop'). Recently he has playing regularly at the Wickham Arms in Brockley as part of the Wickham Songwriters Circle.

Tomorrow night (Thursday 10 April) he is launching his fourth album, Songs from the Saloon, at the Duke in Deptford, with some good support. Admission is free, with the line up as follows:

- Dai Herbert - start 8pm
- Jimmy Lyons - start 8.20pm
- Dan Raza - start 8.45pm
- Ceri James (Band) and guests 9.10 pm

Ceri James - Songs from the Saloon album cover
(photograph taken in the Ivy House)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Music Monday: Test Dept and the Miners Strike

Continuing the series of posts on the 1984/85 miners strike and South London, we turn to Test Dept. As discussed several times here before, the influential industrial band started out in New Cross, specifically at 8 Nettleton Road where some of the band were living.

Many bands played benefit gigs for the miners, but Test Dept went further and put out a joint album with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir. The choir and the band played gigs together around the country, as well as putting out the album to raise funds for the strike. One of the gigs was at the Albany in Deptford on 18 September 1984, recalled by Neil Stoker: 'We did a huge benefit at the Albany Empire in London with a Welsh male-voice choir, and a band called Test Department. I can only describe Test Department as a band which filled plastic drums with water and sand and banged them in a rhythmic way. It was a bizarre night--these Welsh miners came down in a coach and were stuck in the middle of Deptford with these punks banging plastic drums--but there were a thousand people there!'

The album. Shoulder to Shoulder,  was recorded at various venues including Crynant Rugby Club (South Wales), Snowdon Colliery Welfare Club (in Kent coalfield), and Cold Storage studio in  Brixton. Some tracks featured the choir, and some Test Dept, but on what track - Comrades - they performed together.

From the back of album - note that at this time the contact address for Test Dept was 41 Billington Rd SE14
Last month Test Dept founders founders Graham Cunnington and Paul Jamrozy put on installation commemorating the strike at the AV Festival on Tyneside.  Paul told the Quietus: 'for the people who took part in it and lived through it, it's certainly not forgotten, and bringing up the 30 years of the strike brings it to the fore. People are still very bitter, there's a lot of anger. I think it's important to engage with that. Seumas Milne is bringing out the new Enemy Within book, and there's some stuff coming out with the Freedom Of Information Act, there are people still looking for some truth and justice to come out of it, with Orgreave and how the strike was policed... It was also the first signs of the militarisation of the police force in a way that is now just accepted: whether you're a pensioner or a student you're going to come across against people in full riot gear ready to attack you at the slightest excuse. That all became normalised during the Miners' Strike'.

Shoulder to Shoulder - the label

Housmans benefit this week

As it happens, Paul Jamrozy and myself are both DJing this Thursday 10th April at a benefit for Housmans, the long established radical bookshop at Kings Cross. The event, at Surya on Pentonville Road, is themed around the Agit Disco project, with people playing tunes they define as political. I'm actually going to be playing a short set of tracks linked to the miners strike, and had already decided to include Test Dept when I heard that Paul is playing too. Others taking part include Stewart Home and John Eden - full details at Facebook

See previously:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Deptford Dub Club launches at the Duke

Steve Wax invites you to the first session of the Deptford Dub Club, on Friday 18th April:

'The Duke is a great new venue for us, with increased time, better facilities, massively greater accessibility and free entry. Together with Jamtone and special guests tbc. we will present a party night of Jamaican music, from 9.00 until 2.00.

For this session the tunes will be spinnin’ on Jamtone’s full traditional Sound System rig, enabling them to be appreciated to full affect, in a “back-a-yard” style. Strictly Roots Reggae, vintage Rocksteady and Ska. Expect special guests singers and players on the mic. too.

Darren Jamtone has been the mainstay of Sound Systems for two decades. He is now an accomplished live and studio Sound Engineer too, with many records to his name. Steve Wax has been carving out a unique niche as an installation DJ. Together we’ll be selecting a blistering mix from Blue Beat through to  “one away”, contemporary, roots rock Reggae.

Hopefully, this meeting of The Deptford Dub Club will be the first of many, in this venerable music venue. There’s a rooftop smoking terrace and hot food will be available until 10pm. Put on your dancing shoes and come on down'

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Skateboards and Sound Systems in Telegraph Hill Festival Final Weekend

[Update Sunday 6th April - because of the wet weather, the SKAM festival has been cancelled, and will be rearranged later in the summer. The Sound System RUMBQ won't be happening in the park either but WILL be taking place indoors instead - in the Narthex building at St Catherine's Church (Kitto Rd, SE14).

A few more days to go in this year's Telegraph Hill Festival, with highlights of the final weekend including open studios, SKAM 3 skate festival in Telegraph Hill Park and alongside the latter Unit 137 Sound System's RUMBQ (the latter two linked events taking part on Sunday 6th April).

Last weekend was very busy in the area around the park. In the upper park, Bark in the Park attracted more than a hundred dogs plus their human companions - think they should call it Woofstock next year. 

Outside the Hill Station Cafe (Kitto Road SE14) there was an old routemaster bus donated by New Cross bus garage emanating strange sounds and hosting events including a performance of New Cross Park Life - a year in the life of Telegraph Hill Park in haiku.

 Nunhead Municipal Museum and Art Gallery displayed some of their fictive treasures outside, including this model of the shark-limbed dancing 'Gellatly Girls'-

Saturday night (29th March) the area outside St Catherine's Church was briefly transformed by Gellatly Motion Pictures with nine projectors simultaneously beaming different films onto sheets suspended from the trees accompanied by music. There were clips from Belle et La Bete, Barbarella, Sweet Charity,  State Fair,  Bullit, and Annie Get Your Gun, among others. The latter was the Hollywood version of the musical performed the previous weekend by the 200 strong cast and crew if the Telegraph Hill Community Show and the film event finished with people singing the show's big number- 'there's no business like show business'.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Deptford Dummies

We are standing here
Exposing ourselves
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

We're being watched
And we feel our pulse
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

We look around
And change our pose
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

We start to move
And we break the glass
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

We step out
And take a walk through the city
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

We go into a club
And there we start to dance
We are showroom dummies
We are showroom dummies

Lyrics: Kraftwerk - Showroom Dummies (1977);
images March 2014 (top: Abstractus, Deptford Broadway; bottom: window in Florence Road SE14)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

London's Myths & Legends at South East London Folklore Society

Coming up at South East London Folklore Society on Thursday 10th April:

Robert Stephenson: London's Myths & Legends.

In legend London was inaugurated by the fabled Trojan leader Brutus with the construction of a temple dedicated to Diana on the spot now occupied by St Paul's Cathedral. Hear about the city’s legends and founding myths, and their locations.

Robert Stephenson is an expert on London, he is giving a series of fascinating talks at the Guildhall Library on London history and myth. He is a qualified City of London guide and a tour leader at Kensal Green and Brompton cemeteries. He has taught on London for twenty years

Talk starts at 8pm in the upstairs room of The Old King's Head, 45 Borough High Street, SE1 1NA
£2.50/£1.50 concessions

email nigelofbermondsey@gmail to book a place

Incidentally, the interesting Ruin Lust exhibition currently on at Tate Britain includes a photo by Henry Dixon from the 1880s of King's Head Yard, where the current pub now sits off Borough High Street.

King's Head Inn Yard c.1881, photographed by Henry Dixon

Monday, March 31, 2014

Music Monday: Mott the Hoople 'Then we went to Croydon'

I spent Sunday morning running a half marathon round Croydon, or to be more precise the Sandilands/Shirley suburbs of said borough, which got me re-reading Les Back's great appreciation 'So... Fuckin' Croydon', which made me think of  'The Saturday Gigs' by Mott the Hoople...

The glam rock band's 1974 single, like their biggest hit 'All the Young Dudes' (written for them by David Bowie), can be read as a slice of world weary turning away from the fall out of 1960s idealism - 'The tickets for the fantasy were twelve and six a time, A fairy tale on sale'. But there's also a note of hope:

'In Seventy-two we was born to lose
We slipped down snakes into yesterday's news
I was ready to quit
But then we went to Croydon

Do you remember the Saturday gigs?
We do, we do
Do you remember the Saturday gigs?
We do, we do'

According to Songkick, Mott the Hoople played at the Greyhound Hotel in Croydon four times in 1969/70, and twice at Croydon Fairfield Halls: on 13 September 1970 (with Free and Fotheringay) and 20 February 1972. Confusingly all these Mott the Hoople Croydon gigs seem to have been on Sundays rather than Saturdays! What exactly happened in Croydon I'm not sure, but I would interpret the song as affirming the reconnection with the crowd after all the hype and the ups and downs of the music business.  According to wikipedia 'This song was played live during the 1974 European tour as the set's ending but also at the Mott The Hoople Reunion concerts in 2009 with it being the closing song of the final concert'. A recording of the 1970 Fairfield Halls gig has been released.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poetry is in the streets

The Lewisham Natureman White Stag has been featured here several times, having been spotted at various places across South East London. Emma D. sent us this photo of the stag seen recently in Northbrook Park in Lee:

'Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we're just still able to bear' - Rilke, 1875-1926.
Chalked in St George's Way SE5.  next to Burgess Park, last month:

Possibly accidental Deptford Jackson Pollock effect on wall in Trundleys Road SE8:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lewisham Miners Support 1984/5

 During the miners strike of 1984/5, which started 30 years ago this month, there were support groups set up across the country. Previously here we have mentioned support at Goldsmiths in New Cross. Another local group was Lewisham Women Against Pit Closures. This flyer from January 1985 tells us that:

1. The group held planning meetings at Lewisham Labour Club, Limes Grove SE13.
2. They 'invited women from the mining community of Shirebrook to Lewisham to speak to local people about the dispute'.
3. One of the women from Shirebrook was due to speak to a Lewisham Miners Support Group meeting at the Albany in Deptford on 24 January 1985.
4. There was a 'Women's Party' planned to take place at Women's Employment Project, 28 Deptford High Street, to raise funds for Shirebrook Women's Action Group (Shirebrook Colliery was in Derbyshire)

Neil Stoker wrote a little about Lewisham Miners' Support Group on the 20th anniversary of the strike in 1984:

'My father is from the Caribbean and my mother's Irish. The black community in south east London at that time was under constant abuse from the whole structures of society--the police, the government, the executive. The 'sus' laws had gone, but in terms of police brutality, mental health issues, housing, no one really cared what was going on. What struck me was the huge collective nature of the struggle. We got a collective spirit from a part of society that I didn't know and that was completely alien to me. There was a great sense of these people getting to know and understand what we suffered in terms of oppression, and vice versa. In a sense, we were somewhat cocooned by Thatcherism: we'd not had the same levels of redundancies, etc, in London as they had in the north of England. I got an understanding of what was really happening north of the Watford Gap.

Small events had a big impact: a miner from Dennington colliery came to stay with me and my family while he was in London collecting money. He came down to breakfast one morning and said, 'I've got to apologise.' My parents looked at each other--we thought maybe he'd broken a vase or something--and said, 'What for?' He said, 'I worked in a mine in South Africa in the early 1970s, and I feel really guilty about it now.' Things like that politicised people. There's a culture that miners and miners' support groups and Women Against Pit Closures hadn't been aware of before, and there's a culture that we took on as well.

We did a huge benefit at the Albany Empire in London with a Welsh male-voice choir, and a band called Test Department. I can only describe Test Department as a band which filled plastic drums with water and sand and banged them in a rhythmic way. It was a bizarre night--these Welsh miners came down in a coach and were stuck in the middle of Deptford with these punks banging plastic drums--but there were a thousand people there!

The miners' strike created this level of cultural understanding in a way nothing else could have. I remember going to the Notting Hill Carnival the year of the strike, and one of the most popular badges was 'Black people support the miners--oppose police violence'. (Socialist Review, March 2004)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

South London Warlords

OK war games aren't really my thing, but I was naturally intrigued by the fact that there exists the excellently named South London Warlords. They say:

'The South London Warlords is a Wargames Club. This means that we meet as a group and play games with - usually - a military, historical or conflict orientated theme. These games are sometimes based on historical events or on fantasy situations. We play them in various different ways... The Warlords cater for all sorts: both traditional wargaming and also the broader horizons of today's hobby.  As with any Club, tastes and fashions change from year to year, depending on what figures are available, what films have recently been released and what books and TV shows are currently in vogue...The Club meets every Monday evening at St. Barnabas Parish Hall in Gilkes Place, Dulwich Village, London between 7:30pm and 11:00pm, with extended Saturday sessions around eight times a year'.

Yes down in Dulwich they are re-enacting/imagining conflicts as diverse as the Vietnam war, war of the Daleks and the invitingly titled 'Star Wars Death Trench Attack'.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Music Monday: Kinds

Electronic duo Kinds (Karen Warner and Mark Morrish)  are based in Falmouth, Cornwall. But Karen grew up in New Cross and went to Edmund Waller school so we're going to take some South East London credit. In fact I believe she once lived in the very same house in Pepys Road where dance music producer Mark JB (of Bimbo Jones) lives now... must be something in the water.

They played their first London gig last week at Notting Hill Arts Club, and their track Breathe has been getting lots of attention:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chris Schwarz: Every Picture Tells a Story

Chris Schwarz (1948-2007) was a remarkable photographer who documented everyday life in SE London and historical events (such as the 1977 'Battle of Lewisham'). Later in life his photos of the remains of Jewish presence in Poland- ruined synagogues etc - prompted him to sell his flat to finance setting up the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. This weekend sees the first in a series of events and exhibitions built around his work:

'An exhibition of photographs by acclaimed photographer Chris Schwarz opens at three Lewisham venues - The Albany, Lewisham Library and Lewisham College– in March 2014. The images record Lewisham and Deptford in the 1970s and 1980s and the work of The Combination Theatre Company and were taken by Chris when he was photographer in residence at The Albany. They provide a fascinating legacy of the changing faces of Deptford over a 15 year period.

The photographs form an invaluable record of life in North Lewisham in the 1970s and 1980s and show children, young people and their families participating in cultural and creative activities. Highlights include images of totters, Millwall Football Club fans, adults at work and performances by the Albany’s resident theatre company The Combination. They include images of the old Albany that was located at the junction of Creek Road and Deptford Church Street, the New Albany in Douglas Way and its opening by the late Princess Diana in 1980.

Chris Schwarz was a professional photographer who worked for the Guardian, Time Out and many other publications. His work was exhibited at the Photographers Gallery in London and overseas, and his work was published in several books. He also founded the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, Poland. Chris died in 2007 and bequeathed his vast collection of over 8,000 photographs to The Art of Regeneration, a creative regeneration project that was at one time based at the Albany.

There will be special storytelling performances at each venue by members of The Deptford Stories Theatre Company, who will interpret selected photographs. Their performances will be based on oral history interviews that have been conducted between 2011 and the present. The performances take place on:

The Albany, Douglas Way, Deptford, SE8 4AG
Performances: Saturday 22 March at 12.45 and 13.45 (performances last approximately 30 mins)
Exhibition: Saturday 22 March until 31 March

Lewisham Library, 199 – 201 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LG
Performances: Tuesday 25 March at 19.00 (performances last approximately 30 mins)
Exhibition: Monday 24 March until Friday 28 March

LeSoCo Lewisham and Southwark College , Breakspears Building, Breakspears Road, SE4 1UT
Performance and exhibition: Thursday 27 March at 19.00

The exhibition and performances are free of charge.

After the exhibition the photographs, along with the rest of the vast collection of Chris Schwarz Deptford and Lewisham work will be stored by the London Metropolitan Archives and will be available to the public to download.

Ballard House, Thames Street, Greenwich
The Deptford Stories Theatre Company was founded by director, John Turner and Jenny Harris. Jenny was the creative producer and after a lifetime of creative production in theatre, education and community arts development including the Combination at the Albany, The Education department at the National Theatre and the Art of Regeneration, Every Picture Tells a Story was Jenny’s last production for the Art of Regeneration and the Deptford Stories Company. Jenny herself died before she could see Every Picture Tells A Story or hear the stories the Deptford Stories Company will tell; this is a chance for the public to witness her final production.

The Every Picture Tells a Story project has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and includes the exhibition, performances and digitisation of the photographs as a permanent public record'.

Chris Schwarz obituary in the Guardian

Reflections on Chris Schwarz

Facebook event details

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Telegraph Hill Festival 2014

Telegraph Hill Festival opens this weekend, with three weeks of art, music, theatre and more, including activities for everyone from toddlers to pensioners. You can read the full programme here, so I won't labour the point.

The biggest events, in terms of size, will probably be the community production of Annie Get Your Gun, Irving Berlin's musical (No Business like Show Business etc) with a cast of hundreds this weekend.

Then on Sunday 6th April, 1 pm to 6 pm there's SKAM II - Skate, Art & Music on Sundayl in Telegraph Hill Lower Park, Erlanger Road SE14: 'You are warmly invited to come and enjoy a Skate, Art and Music event in Telegraph Hill Lower Park.  There will be a bike powered roller disco!. So grab your blades and boards and bring the whole family. Other World Arts will be running a workshop turning rubbish into art - please bring along empty plastic bottles and packaging.  Skate comps, pop up shops and pro skater displays.  Pedal Power will be back so bring a bike to plug in - the more you pedal the more music to dance to!  A fun afternoon for all ages' (free).

This event will also feature Rum BQ & Sound System: 'Trinity Music London presents another RumBQ session powered by the Unit 137 Sound System.  RumBQ is a celebration of music, food and drink, with uplifting sound system music, barbecue food and rum cocktails.  Expect warm bass and smiling faces.  This is a family friendly event, where all ages are welcome.  Weather permitting, the event will be held outside in the park, together with SKAM II.  Or, if there is a threat of rain, the event will be in the Narthex' (next to St Catherine's Church).

Their event in the park last May was a lot of fun.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Music Monday - Will Greenwood, Woodpecker Road

The funeral of Will Greenwood took place earlier this month in Glastonbury. Born Stephen Worley on 13 June 1959, he died on 10 February this year after being found ill on the canal boat he was living on.

Will Greenwood in Goddards pie and mash shop, Greenwich 2012

Will moved to Glastonbury in the mid-1980s, and as a guitarist he was very involved in the free festival/psychedelic music scene. He was one of the founders of The Space Pirates who played with bands like Here & Now, Hawkwind and indeed The Ozric Tentacles at the Crypt at St Paul's Church, Deptford at the psychedelic club there. He was part of the Peace Convoy that was infamously attacked by the police in 1985 at the Battle of the Beanfield as part of the operation to prevent the Stonehenge Free Festival taking place (Will wasn't present during the actual attack, but he was involved with the Convoy at that time).

Not sure what year this gig was - but the only Friday 14th July in the 1980s was 1989
Other bands/music projects he was involved iwth over the years included Blue Cheese From Space, Splatman, Glass Unicorn, Spannerman, Titanic Dance Band, Will Greenwood’s Impossible Stress Factor, Medicine, Kemunnos, Hubba, Indivisible, Invisible Opera, The Kaputniks and The Glissando Orchestra.

Will's roots were in South East London. His mum (Vera) and dad (Reg) actually met at the Co-op in Deptford. Later Will took some electronic music classes at Goldsmiths, and also recorded music at Music City in New Cross Road. A couple of years ago he recorded a song recalling his 1960s childhood in Woodpecker Road SE14. The road he grew up in has now been demolished, but the name lives on as a pathway through the new low-rise estate to the north of Fordham Park. The late Dewdrop Inn at the end of Woodpecker Road gets a mention (famous pub that closed in late 1990s - must do a post on it at some point). I think the lyrics are as follows:

Down on Woodpecker Road
I wander in a waking dream
Memories of childhood days
My maps and graphic overlays
reveal the lane beneath the tarmac
Helps me wander all the way back
to a time before the time I'm thinking of and that is why

I'm ambling along almost fifty years ago
Down Woodpecker Road

From the chip shop to the Dewdrop Inn,
misty memories unravelling
Time travelling is great
Allow me to elucidate
It's summer 1966
I'm flying with my building bricks
I'm running back from Newbury's
with my Zoom ice lolly from the freezer
Thunderbirds and Jetson Spacemen
World Cup Willie's won the war again
It was a simpler time, to feel that once again is why
I'm ambling along, oh so many years ago

Down Woodpecker Road
Past the old canals of Clifton Rise
Before the planners waved it all goodbye
Perhaps I must declare that Woodpecker Road's not there...

Ambling along far too many years ago
Down Woodpecker Road
From the front room to the scullery my family returns to me
My atavistic tendency means Woodpecker Road is me...

(Musically its tone reminds me of Nick Nicely's South London pyschedelic classic Hilly Fields)

Read more on Will Greenwood in the Central Somerset Gazette 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ian Wright remembers growing up on Honor Oak Estate

'Ian Wright: Nothing to Something' is a great documentary where the former Crystal Palace, Arsenal and England footballer talks about growing up in South East London. It's quite a moving film, with Wright just talking to camera about a rough and abusive childhood, rejection by football clubs as a youth player, before finally being signed by Crystal Palace as a 21 year old.

In the programme Wright says he grew up in 'Brockley and Crofton Park', specifically for much of his childhood on Honor Oak Estate. He recalls going on the Honor Oak Estate annual summer trip to the seaside, and going shopping for clothes in Peckham (looking enviously in Grants' shop window at shoes he couldn't afford). On the Estate he used to play football with David Rocastle, later his colleague at Arsenal (Wright gets very emotional over Rocastle's sad early death)

Ian Wright meets his old Primary School teacher Syd Pigden

He credits one of his primary school teachers, Mr Pigden, as having a major influence on his life as a positive male figure and a football mentor. In this programme the school isn't named, but Syd Pigden was at Turnham Primary School where Wright moved after starting out at Gordonbrock Primary. Many years later at Arsenal, Mr Pigden and Wright were reunited in another TV programme - with Wright surprized and overwhelmed at finding he was still alive

Later Wright went to Samuel Pepys Secondary School in Sprules/Wallbutton Road SE4 - now Christ the King VI Form. After leaving school, he worked at Tunnel Refineries in Greenwich before being discovered by Palace.

According to 'The Wright Stuff' by Rick Glanvill, (1995) Ian Wright was born in 1963 in the British Hospital, Samuel Street, Woolwich. His cousin Patrick Robinson was born a few days later: 'It probably never crossed the minds of the two proud mothers that the fruits of their wombs would, between them, eventually have Saturday night television stitched up: Ian Wright gracing the pastures of Match of the Day and Patrick Robinson providing the amiable beside manner as Martin 'Ash; Ashford in the popular BBC soap, Casualty'. They lived together for a while in Manor Avenue, Forest Hill

You can watch the programme for another few weeks at ITV. I saw Wright a couple of years ago in Stillness Road, think he still has some family in the area. His sons Shaun and Bradley Wright-Phillips - both also footballers - went to Haberdashers Askes school in New Cross.

Sketching New Cross

Really enjoyed the 'Sketching New Cross' exhibition at Hart's Lane Studios SE14 last weekend. People from 'London Drawing on Location Group' came down to New Cross/Deptford last month and sketched what they saw, before exhibiting their work

Lots of local landmarks featured, including New Cross Inn, Marquis of Granby, St Pauls Church etc.

My personal favourites were Sue Harding's evocative drawings of cafe life, including this one from the London Particular in New Cross Road.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Undercurrents - 1970s radical snippets

Undercurrents, 'the magazine of alternative science and technology', was published in England between 1972 and 1984. Christopher Squire was one of the editors and he has performed a great service to historians of radical movements by creating an online archive of the journal. I have had a preliminary look through for SE London content but I am sure if you have the time you could find lots more of interest there.

As explained in an article, 'How it All Got Started', early issues of the magazine were printed at the house of Ann Ward: 'Ann was a Labour councillor in Southwark who, with the aid of some money she’d inherited, had installed in the basement of her house a litho printing press, complete with plate­making and typesetting facilities, which she made available virtually free to non-profit groups. So the first Undercurrents (subtitled "the magazine of alternative science and technology”) was produced for little more than the cost of paper, with the aid of Ann Ward and of one Pat Coyne who came along to print the local community newspaper and was cajoled into helping us print Under­currents. He stayed'.

So here's a few local bits and pieces...

Albany Fire

In July 1978 there was a fire at the Albany Theatre in Deptford, then based in Creek Road. As Undercurrents reported, it 'was the focus of local opposition to the National Front and a regular venue for Rock Against Racism', and it was generally supposed that the fire was caused by a fascist arson attack.

Undercurrents, Oct-Nov 1978
Lewisham World Shop

This shop opened at 1 Sydenham Road SE26 in 1978, 'concentrating on world development issues' and selling 'wholefoods such as brown rice, peanuts, kidney beans' etc. It seems to have been a trailblazer in promoting 'fair trade'-  people involved with it also set up the 'Campaign Co-op' to import coffee direct from farmers co-operatives in East Africa (the address of the Co-op, in 1978, was 72 Rosendale Road, SE21).

Undercurrents, April-May 1978
Free-wheel Cycle Club

In 1977 the Free-Wheel Cycle Club was heading off to Shoreham (presumably typo in magazine) on a bike ride from Clifton Rise in New Cross. 'All anarchists/socialists' were welcome.

Undercurrent, December 1977-January 1978