Friday, December 31, 2010

The Poor Young Widow of Peckham

Over Christmas the BBC revived the masters & servants costume drama Upstairs, Downstairs- a double dose of nostalgia for the pre-WW2 period in which it was set, and for the early 1970s when the original TV series was broadcast. I will spare you my critique of its depiction of class relations, and note that at least the new one featured fascists taking a drubbing at the Battle of Cable Street.

After the orginal series finished in 1975, two of its characters featured in a spin-off series called Thomas and Sarah, with the former chauffeur and maid pursuing each other over 13 episodes in 1979. Some of the action takes place locally and indeed there is an episode called The Poor Young Widow of Peckham. The series was released on DVD and is repeated sometimes on the outer reaches of satellite TV - anybody seen it or recall its South London content?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Royal Albert - for the Deptford appasionati

The Royal Albert in New Cross Road is one of a number of pubs featured in an overview of London pubs at the website of Italian magazine L'Espresso. 'London pub, un mondo da scoprire' ('a world to discover') also features the Effra in Brixton, the Hartley in Tower Bridge Road, the Garrison in Bermondsey Street and Bread & Roses in Clapham, as well as some from the other side of the river.

The Royal Albert is described as 'Gastro Pub ideale per il Sunday Lunch. Eventi: ambiente rilassato e giovane nel cuore di Deptford. Per gli appasionati di calcio è l'ideale per seguire le partite di campionato' (something like 'Gastro Pub ideal for Sunday Lunch. Events: relaxed and young atmosphere in the heart of Deptford. For soccer fans it is ideal for following the championship games'.

Radio Kent 1967

From the counter-cultural paper International Times, number 13, May 27 1967, a report of a pirate radio station in South London:
'TERRY VACANTI, a 21 year old former lens maker, ran a pirate radio station, Radio Kent, for six months in the heart of South London. Vacanti said that he built the transmitter for £ 3-15s "... to prove that the millions being spent by the Government on local radio at a cost to the taxpayer is a complete waste, of money".

"I fooled the GPO for six months, and I think I now have a way in which I can broadcast without being detected" he boasted. At the request of IT, Terry has drawn up a list of instructions for construction as well as a schematic diagram of the transmitter he used(see IT 14). Radio Kent could be heard throughout South London from Camberwell to Blackheath, and from Greenwich to Streatham. EVERY MAN HIS OWN MESSIAH.'

(the article refers to Terry Vacanti, the picture caption says Terry Vacani - I think the latter is correct, elsewhere on the internet Terry Vacani is mentioned as a DJ on the Irish pirate station Eastside Radio Ireland - Terry if you're out there tell us more about your South London adventures!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

South London Pop Star of the Year (2): Katy B

Tinie Tempah was a shoe-in for 2010 South London Pop Star of the Year (male department), but the female department is a trickier one to call. Of course Florence & The Machine and Elly Jackson (La Roux) are both still riding high, and visible in the area - I saw Florence wandering around Crystal Palace recently and Elly turned on the Christmas lights in Herne Hill earlier this month. But arguably they have both been building on the work they released in 2009, rather than doing much new in 2010.

So I'm going to give my vote - and it's my award - to Katy B. OK she's not really a fully fledged pop star as yet, with her first solo single only released in August. But Katy on a Mission got to number five in the singles chart and she also featured on Magnetic Man's hit Perfect Stranger. Her new single Lights On (also featuring Ms Dynamite) was released in the week before Christmas and is already number four in the charts. Expect her to be all over 2011, with her first album due out soon.

Katy B (real name Katie Brien) is South East London through and through, growing up in Peckham and doing a degree in Popular Music at Goldsmiths in New Cross. In an interview with Beatnik Online - conducted in Frank's Bar on top of Peckham car park - she recalled 'I use to go to a studio in Deptford and it was also a place where a load of grime boys could do their mixtape properly. If any boy needed a hook or someone needed help on a demo then I’d be asked to do it! I was about 17. I use to save my money, get my 30 quid here and there...DJ Geeneus was one of the people who would go to the studio and he kind of found me through that.' Geeneus, founder of Rinse FM, has collaborated with Katy on a number of tracks and is one of the producers of her new album.

Wonder which studio it was? As mentioned here before, Crazy Cousinz have used Digital Holdings off Surrey Canal Road, SE14.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bob Marley and Johnny Nash in Peckham

My favourite story in a local paper this year was DID PECKHAM LAUNCH THE CAREER OF THE GREATEST REGGAE STAR EVER? in Southwark News (4 November 2010). Incredibly Keith Baugh, the former art teacher at Peckham Manor School, had come across some never before published photographs of Bob Marley AND Johnny Nash playing at the school in 1972.

The teacher had met Marley and Nash, then both struggling, at the Soho club the Bag o'Nails. According to Baugh, 'During that conversation they were bemoaning the fact they couldn’t get their single in the top 40 as they could not get any national radio airplay. I suggested as a bit of a promotion they should come down and play to the kids at our school, and a few days later they came down and played two 45 minute sets.” The singers also had a football kickaround with some of the students.

They played in the school's gym in Cator Street - I believe that this is now part of the Damilola Taylor Youth Centre in Peckham, the school having long closed down.

I am not sure if Nash and Marley played together elsewhere, at the time they were promoting Nash's version of Marley's song Stir it Up.

Bob Marley Magazine followed up the Southwark News story with an interview with Keith Baugh, where he recalls that the songs they played included Stir it Up, Reggae on Broadway and I Can See Clearly.

Check out Keith Baugh's website for details of his other art/photography projects including his book on New York subway graffiti in the early 1970s

The Catch a Fire tour

The following year Bob Marley returned to Peckham with his band The Wailers (featuring Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer) as part of the tour to promote the Catch a Fire album. In fact the tour was scheduled to start at the Bouncing Ball club in Peckham but this gig was cancelled. Seemingly Bob Marley & The Wailers did play twice at Mr B's in Peckham on this tour on April 29th and May 11th 1973. The tour ended up at Max's Kansas City in New York, where the band played four nights supporting Bruce Springsteen.

This tour information comes from Wikipedia - I believe though that Mr B's and the Bouncing Ball were in fact one and the same venue at 43 Peckham High Street.

(see also previous post on Bob Marley in South London, including at Crystal Palace) .

Monday, December 27, 2010

South London Pop Star of the Year (1): Tinie Tempah

The 2010 South London Pop Star of the year (male department) was undoubtedly Tinie Tempah. He's had two number one singles in the past 12 months, "Pass Out" and "Written in the Stars", and a number one album "Disc-Overy". Born Patrick Okogwu, he told the Evening Standard earlier this year:

"I lived in Peckham for the first 12 years of my life and then my mum and dad decided they really didn't want to bring up their children there. So they saved up money and bought a house in Plumstead, semi-detached, three bedrooms. I remember going into it the first day and the first place I ran into was the back garden. I was saying, 'Oh shit, we have a back garden!'"

His most recent single, Invincible, features some film of him returning to his old school in Abbey Wood (SE2): St Paul's R.C. Secondary School, now known as St.Pauls Academy. On Radio One on Boxing Day he highlighted his visit to the school as one of his best moments of the year, mentioning that they now have a Tinie Tempah Music Studio. He went on to study A Levels at St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in Balham (SW12).

Earlier this year he was asked to respond to the Chris Ofili exhibition at Tate Britain, and he chose Ofili's painting No Woman No Cry - a tribute to Stephen Lawrence, who as Tinie Tempah mentions, was murdered in 1993 not far from where he lived (Lawrence also grew up in Plumstead).

Tinie Tempah performed a piece at the gallery reflecting on the painting, the murder ('RIP to Stephen Lawrence') and on his connection with Ofili (they are both from Nigerian backgrounds):

According to the Tate website: 'No Woman No Cry is a tribute to the London teenager Stephen Lawrence. The Metropolitan police investigation into his racially motivated murder was mishandled, and a subsequent inquiry described the police force as institutionally racist. In each of the tears shed by the woman in the painting is a collaged image of Stephen Lawrence’s face, while the words ‘R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence’ are just discernible beneath the layers of paint. Despite these specific references, the artist also intended the painting to be read in more general terms, as a universal portrayal of melancholy and grief'.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Remembering the New Cross Fire at the Albany

A very important anniversary coming up next month - on January 18th it will be 30 years since the New Cross Fire when 13 young black people died in a fire at a party at 439 New Cross Road. I will be posting some more on this, but for now please note that there's a commemoration event coming up at the Albany in Deptford on the 14th January:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Vanishing of the Bees

Café Crema (306 New Cross Road) are hosting a free screening of the film The Vanishing of the Bees on Thursday 27th January 2011. They say:

'This is an amazing documentary, truly. I'm really glad we got the chance to screen it... After the screening you can sign up to come along to a talk in Feb (date TBC) about what types of plants are beneficial for bees and other pollinators for those wanting to find out how to attract bees to their gardens and window boxes. There will also be a planting session in the Cafe garden in the spring. This is all free and optional, you can just watch the film if you prefer. 7.30 doors open, 8.15 start. Fully licensed bar/Fair Trade tea and lovely coffee and cake will be on hand'.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boxing Day Morris in Blackheath

Fowlers Molly Dancers and Blackheath Morris Men will be out and about dancing in Blackheath on Boxing Day. The loose itinerary is:

- Meet at Princess of Wales at 12, dance around 1 pm,
- Dance at Crown 2 ish,
- Hare and Billet 3 ish, then music session there.

Francis Sedgemore has posted some photos of the Fowlers Troop's tour of Deptford/New Cross earlier this month, which included students from the University of Greenwich performing a mummers play by the Dog and Bell.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gustav Holst

The composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is today best known for his Planets suite, but he also wrote numerous other pieces inspired by, among other things, English folk songs, Indian mythology and the poetry of Walt Whitman. Holst lived in west London for most of his adult life, including Barnes, Richmond and Hammersmith - for a period he conducted the Hammersmith Socialist Choir at William Morris's house.

Holst worked as a jobbing musician (playing trombone on Brighton pier) and then as a music teacher, including a long connection with two South East London institutions. His first teaching job was at James Allen's Girls School, the independent school in Dulwich. Holst taught there one day a week from 1904 to 1920, and according to the school's website: 'In 1905 the school performed Tableaux from Tennyson's Princess, for which Holst composed settings of the poems. The songs were sung from manuscript (some of which are in the school archives) and were published in 1907 as Songs from The Princess, Opus 20A, with the dedication 'to the girls of the James Allen's Girls' School. His Golden Goose, a ballet with chorus, also received its first performance in the gardens here'. There is now a Holst House at JAGS and a Holst Hall.

Holst was also Director of Music at Morley College in Waterloo from 1907 to 1924. The Morley Memorial College for Working Men and Women was established in 1889 to make adult education accessible to the less-well off of South London, and was based in the Old Vic until it got its own site in the 1920s. Holst involved the Morleyites (as he termed his students) in his wider musical endeavours, including a series of Whitsuntide festivals of music and dance in Thaxted in Essex from 1916 to 1918. These came about as a result of his friendship with Conrad Noel, the famed 'Red Vicar' of Thaxted.

In teaching his students, Holst 'made them believe in their right to make music as much as any professional. He spent nearly every evening at Morley College now, and much of his social life revolved round its weekend events, which included excursions into the countryside and long rambles, dances and tea parties. He also encouraged his music students to mix with the James Allen pupils and girls of St Paul's [in Hammersmith], often bringing them to perform at the schools and join in school events' (Holst: his life and times by Paul Holmes, 1997).

Holst's friend Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote to him in 1916 that: 'I sometimes feel that the future of musical England rests with you - because every Paulina who goes out, and for the matter of that every Morleyite, will infect 10 others and they in turn will infect 10 others - I will leave you to make the necessary calculation'.

Here's one of the Songs from the Princess (O Swallow, Swallow), which since it was written to be performed by young women at a school in East Dulwich Grove could at a stretch qualify for inclusion in the list of South London Songs:

(performed here by a choir from George Mason University in Virginia)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frog in the Snow

Yesterday's shopping trip was abandoned in the face of a fierce blizzard sweeping across Peckham Rye, redecorating Anthony Gormley's bollards in the process (on the corner of Fenwick Road, SE15).

The weary pilgrims knew that a terrible bad mood would descend if a coffee couldn't be had quickly. And lo they did remember that in Consort Road, Peckham, there stood a certain house known as the Frog on the Green.

And they did go unto that place and had a very good cup of coffee. Good food too - well it a deli as well as a cafe. Only a couple of tables inside, more outside but not many people sitting outside funnily enough.

They also have a little book swap shelf - if you get down there quick you might pick up a copy of Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers which I left there.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Is there a better premise for a TV series than Heroes meets Skins in South London, featuring a gang of ASBO kids with superpowers? Such is Misfits, the second series of which has just finished (though there's a Christmas special to come).

Much of it is filmed on the Tavy Bridge Estate in Thamesmead, with the Southmere Lake featuring...
...just as it did in Clockwork Orange way back in 1971:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lewisham - Home of Sound System Culture

Another good post by Seb Wheeler at Tropical Waste, this time on Lewisham as THE HOME OF SOUND-SYSTEM CULTURE, interviewing Les Back and Lez Henry about South East London reggae in the 1980s, with a particular focus on Jah Shaka and Saxon sounds.

You can read it yourself, but to give a flavour here's a couple of great quotes:

“Lewisham is the home of sound-system culture. I don’t think it’s too much of a big claim to say that the way in which the whole culture of sound-system performance and enjoyment developed is so centrally connected to the story of this part of London... The sound-system men were businessmen; they were running dances but they were catering to an audience that wasn’t being catered to, not only in mainstream society, but in the context of this part of London. A part of London that is deeply implicated in the history of empire and relations between here and elsewhere, Africa and the Caribbean, amongst others” (Les Back)

“We set up sound-systems wherever we could. We were using warehouses and garages. We’d capture houses. You name it. White people did not generally hire out their clubs to us. That’s the bottom line. So we used to appropriate spaces and perform. We would say we’re gonna have a dance today in 407 New Cross road. We’d set up in there, the police would come and raid it. Someone else would say ‘there’s another house down the road.’ We’d go down and string up in there and move the dance there. That’s how we used to do it.” (Lez Henry).

See also: New Cross Reggae Shops and Labels; South East of the Thames Border Infection Mix

There's loads of great soundtapes from this era on youtube, particularly at the Vibez4All channel. For instance, here's an extract from Saxon vs. Radics at the Moonshot Club in New Cross on 25 August 1984:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Leave my Senses in Orbit over South East London

Stornoway are an indie-folk band from Oxford named after a town on Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides. Not really Transpontine material. But their debut single Zorbing, released last year and now everywhere, does include the line 'Send my body out to work but leave my senses, In orbit over south east London'. What's that about?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Normski in Nunhead

On New Year's Eve, the Old Nun's Head is having a party with a New York Block Party theme - they say 'Theme is loose so baseball caps on sideways, oversized clocks and medallions round the neck, but at the very least bring your NYC swagger'. £10, 8 pm to 3 am. More to the point among the DJs will be Normski, legendary presenter of early 90s rave era TV programme Dance Energy (among other things). There's lots of footage from that show on Youtube: Prodigy , Run DMC, Shamen etc.

Here's Normski presenting Detroit's finest Inner City performing Let it Reign on the show:

Eltham Police

Not a great couple of weeks for the police in Eltham. On Monday an unarmed man sitting in a car was shot in the throat by an armed police officer during a 'suspected robbery' at Boots in Eltham High Street (seems he wasn't critically injured, surprizingly). A policeman has been taken off firearms duties pending an investigation.

Last week, Pc Sean Smith from Eltham Police Station was found guilty in Manchester of nine charges of indecent assault against three young girls (although the offences date back ten years from a time before he was in the police).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Orchard Planting on Hilly Fields

Transition Brockley and Lewisham are planting trees on Hilly Fields next month:

'ORCHARD PLANTING - SAT 15 JAN 2011 - HILLY FIELDS from 11.00am to 1.00pm

Everyone is welcome to join in with (or just watch) the planting of a small apple orchard on Hilly Fields (next to the Stone Circle) from 11.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday 15 January, 2011. This will be the first community orchard in a major park in the borough of Lewisham and we, from Transition Lewisham/Brockley are delighted to be initiating this project, together with the Friends of Hilly Fields and the London Orchard Project, with funding from Capital Growth and support from Lewisham Council and Glendale.

The orchard is being planted to promote the growing of fruit locally (in an area which previously had many fruit orchards), to provide habitat for wildlife, and for people to enjoy. It will be a family activity day, with digging, planting, composting, mulching and treeguard staking. Come along for some warming spiced apple juice, hot apple soup and apple-themed sweet things'.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Camberwell Still Occupied

Art students at Camberwell College of Arts are continuing their occupation of the college building in Wilson Road. More information at their blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Goldsmiths Occupation Comes to an End

The occupation of the library at Goldsmiths College in New Cross has come to an end as of midnight last night. The occupation started last Monday, one of many across the country. They issued the following statement at the start of the occupation:


We have occupied the university library in opposition to the increase in university fees and cuts in education as a whole. We act in solidarity with all those facing cuts across the social sphere.

We stand against the proposed change in fees structure and the cuts to teaching subsidy across education in the UK – which will include a 100 percent cut to funding for teaching in arts, humanities and social sciences. The proposed changes in Higher Education represent a historically unprecedented attack on society.

We have taken over Goldsmiths’ Library, the most publicly visible and accessible physical space in the College. We are opening it as a centre for organisation, available 24 hours a day to students and all those on the receiving end of the government’s assault in the Lewisham community. We offer our support to recipients of the EMA grant, benefits and services, all of which are being attacked by local and national government. We support library staff at Goldsmiths and public libraries across Lewisham.

Until our demands are met, there will be no business as usual at the College.

We act to support and intensify the efforts of all those involved in the nationwide wave of occupations.

We demand that Goldsmiths’ management:

• Immediately make a public statement opposing fees and the vote for their increase due in Parliament on 9th December. We refuse all current and further cuts at Goldsmiths.
• Implement no further cuts to departments and budgets at Goldsmiths, nor any further redundancies.
• Steps forward to defend all those from Goldsmiths arrested or in other ways victimised during the current struggles against the cuts. We condemn the police’s violent and heavy-handed tactics used against students, staff and their supporters.
• Do not penalise library staff in any way, nor dock their pay during the occupation.
• Ceases its campaign of cuts against the Goldsmiths Nursery.
• Retract their threat to charge Goldsmiths’ Student Union £15,000 in response to the occupation of Deptford Town Hall. This occupation, like that one, is independent of the Student Union.
• Do not take any disciplinary actions whatsoever against those involved in this occupation.

The library remained open during the occupation, although without staff on the first day as the occupation orginally decided not to have staff working in the building - a policy changed following a lengthy debate at a meeting on the Tuesday night.

When I went along along on Tuesday, it was a busy space with various meetings and activities going on on the ground floor. A group of students were doing life drawing of a couple of men in their underwear, while another group were getting some practical training on resisting being kettled by the police. A delegation from Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance came down, and news was exchanged on local campaigns, including Council cuts and the proposal to turn Tidemill school in Deptford into an Academy. Some practical things came out of the discussion, including a local teacher advising the occupation's 'outreach working group' the best time and places to leaflet local schools, which they were planning to do in relation to the demonstration on Thursday. Later on there was music and poetry from Excentral Tempest and others.

With most occupiers going on the demonstration, Goldsmiths management retook control of the library that day. On Friday, Management announced that they would be closing the library for the weekend, and so the library was partially reoccupied on Friday evening. The occupiers argued that 'Management’s unnecessary decision to close the College Library until Monday for stock-checking and cleaning is an attempt to punish students for protesting against their policies'.

Yesterday afternoon I gave a talk on New Cross radical history as part of an occupation teach-in. The atmosphere felt very different from earlier in the week, with the occupation confined to the reception area of the ground floor only - the rest of the building, including the upper floors where the books are kept, being locked. By the end of the afternoon Goldsmiths management had agreed that they would re-open the library today (Sunday), and in return it was agreed to end the occupation. They say: 'This is a victory for the occupation, which did not accept the SMT’s reasons for closing the library building to students for the entire weekend. As such we will withdraw from the library building... We will continue to struggle with students and academic staff against the withdrawal of educational goods in general and against fees and cuts in Higher Education in particular. The movement continues to grow'.

As well as welcoming the determination of the Goldsmiths students and staff opposing cuts, it was also great as a bibliophile local resident to have a look around the library - I even managed to do a bit of research. I have been living nearby for almost 15 years and had never set foot in it before. A point well made in the following film is that the public library in New Cross is tiny and under threat of closure.

More details at:

See also the report at 853: 853 also has an interview with students taking part in a 24 hour work-in this week at the new Greenwich peninsula campus of Ravensbourne College - with a rather fine 'Rave Against the Machine' banner outside.

Piccadilly at the Ivy House

Last weekend's Brockley Jack Film Club event at the Ivy House was a great success, with the 1920s silent movie Piccadilly played to a full and glamorously-attired house. The film was accompanied by accordionist Igor Outkine - whose accordion can replicate the sounds of a piano, Chinese instruments and much more. It added a whole other level, and reminded me of the lost art of the silent movie pianist, not just accompanying but commenting on the film by, for instance, punctuating it with humorous interludes. There's a good set of photos of the night by Andy Cullen at Flickr (from which the above picture is taken).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

South London Winter Wonderland

South East London is a winter wonderland this weekend, with events including:

- Deptford Christmas Fair - Saturday and Sunday you can get a free rickshaw ride from New Cross to Deptford, and there will be a free big wheel.

- Brockley Christmas Market - today in Coulgate Street from 12 to 6 pm.

- Ladywell Christmas Market - today, 10am – 4pm, outside Ladywell rail station followed by mulled wine, mince pies and live music at the Ladywell Tavern in the evening.

- Devonshire Road Nature Reserve Tree Dressing in Forest Hill tomorrow, 2 to 5 pm.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Yesterday's demonstration

Hope all the South East London contingents made it home safely from yesterday's demonstration in London on the day the Government voted to increase student fees. Goldsmiths students met up with London South Bank University students and marched together into town via Waterloo Bridge. At the end of the night, the last protestors were kettled on Westminster Bridge before being dispersed to Waterloo.

Here's a few local banners (photos taken as marchers entered Trafalgar Square at lunchtime).

The University for Strategic Optimism, initiated by people from Goldsmiths

Lewisham People Before Profit (who incidentally are holding their AGM next week - 7.15pm on 13th December at The Broca, Coulgate St, SE4):

Defend LSBU, Defend Education...

News tonight that the Goldsmiths occupation in New Cross has restarted, after management regained control of the library yesterday while many people were demonstrating.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Punk in Croydon 1978

Autumn 1978 and Croydon was at the heart of the punk rock explosion. This great flyer is for gigs at the Greyhound, a pub/music venue that used to stand on Park Lane, opposite the Fairfield Halls and Croydon College (it was later known as the Blue Orchid). The Doomed was actually members of the Damned, some of whom were from Croydon. Siouxsie and the Banshees (mis-spelt on flyer) grew out of the 'Bromley Contingent' of Bowie kids/early punks, Billy Idol (lead singer of Generation X) was also in the Bromley Contingent. Rezillos were a marvellous Scottish band, Penentration were from the North East. Quite a line up.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bare Styles

Nice piece by Seb Wheeler at Tropical Waste with good photos of three barbers in the New Cross Road (at 287, 330, and 460)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Goldsmiths and Camberwell colleges occupied

News tonight that up to 200 students have occupied the Goldsmiths library in New Cross. Earlier today, the Student Union reported that they had received a letter from Goldsmiths management warning them that they would deduct the costs of dealing with any occupation from the SU Budget (follow the occupation news on Twitter)

Camberwell Occupied

Students at Camberwell College of Art (University of the Arts London) have today occupied the college building in Wilson Road, Camberwell. Here's their statement.

'We, the students of Camberwell College of Arts, believe that if the massive cuts 'proposed for education happen, it is unlikely that academies such as ours will continue to exist. Arts and humanities courses are being targeted with the largest cuts, while still requiring a great deal of funding, which even a rise in fees will not cover. In response, we have decided to occupy the Wilson’s Road building at our college.

We see the arts as occupying a vital place within society, one which benefits us all, both culturally and economically. If arts education ceases to be a viable route for students, that benefit will be lost.

An artless society is a heartless society!

We oppose the transformation of education into a market. Education should be a forum for all publics, not just those who can afford, to learn, experiment and debate.

Therefore, we call for all arts students, especially those from UAL to join this occupation, and call for more arts-led occupation and actions. We propose to use our space for a practice led resistance. We will run workshops, performances, debates and experiments, creating a collective space of generative discourse. At no point will we disrupt any fellow student’s education, allowing all scheduled lectures to continue. We wish to propose, rather than simply oppose!

We demand that UAL:

•Issue a statement condemning all cuts to Arts education, and the rise in tuition fees and defending the value (economically and culturally) of Arts education for society, and its place within government funded education.
•Put pressure on the MP of every borough that UAL has a college in to vote against the educational reforms.
•Guarantee that there be no more course closures, or course amalgamations. This includes, if possible, the re-instatement of the Ceramics course at Camberwell.
•Safeguard all jobs for our teaching, research and support staff.
•Issue a statement guaranteeing no further cuts in access time to workshops and facilities. This means no losses of current facilities, studio space or access time to workshops.
•Provide full details of the existing budgets, and any projections of how the budget is likely to be spent if cuts and fee reforms do happen.
•Provide all cleaning, catering and security staff with a full living wage package, again with no loss of jobs or hours, and that all outsourced staff and services are brought back in-house.
•Provide a more effective, regular structure for student feedback which effects positive change, in the normal running of the University.
•Do not victimize anyone taking part in this occupation.
•Allow free access in and out of the occupation for all students, staff, speakers and other visitors.

The Occupiers, Camberwell College of Arts'

Other SE London cuts news

* Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance are meeting tomorrow night (Tuesday), 7 pm upstairs at the Amersham Arms (opposite NX station)

* Here's a short new film by students and staff from Goldsmiths anthropology department. I like the fact that it looks at the broader question of education funding, including schools, rather than just focusing on fees:

Deptford 1911: School and Dock Strikes

In September 1911, a strike wave swept through schools across Britain. It started off on September 5th at Bigyn School, Llanelli, where pupils walked out in protest at the physical punishment of one of their classmates. Deptford was one of the areas involved, as the following report makes clear:

'The strike movement yesterday spread to a section of London schoolboys. Some six London County Council schools in the Shoreditch and Islington districts are stated to have been affected - namely, Wenlock-road, Bath-street, Central-street, St Luke's, Napier-street, and Hanover-street, all within a short distance of each other. The first indication of the 'strike' was when about 30 boys paraded the streets. At dinnner time that number was increaed to fully 100. The boys marched along the street shouting and singing 'Fall in and follow me!'. Many carried 'ammunition' in the shape of stones and other missiles.

At Deptford a number of boys attending the London County Council school in Alverton-street organized a demonstration outside the school, and amused the neighbourhood by shouting 'We are on strike'. They published their grievances by chalkwriting on the pavement, and their demands were the abolition of home lessons and the cane, and the concession of an extra half-holiday in the week. When the headmaster of heard of the 'strike' he went out and called the boys in. Nearly all of them returned to their lessons' (source: Times 12 September 1911).

A Dock Strike in Deptford

The context for the school strikes was the proliferation of strikes amongst adult workers in that period. A couple of weeks after the Deptford school strike, there was a dock strike in Deptford. The Times reported on 27 September 1911 that 'Five hundred men at Dead Man's Dock, Deptford, are on strike owning, it is stated, to the action of the owners of the dock who, the men declare, have broken the recent agreement. The men's representatives are approaching the officials of the Board of Trade on the subject'.

The strike seemed to have involved casual labourers employed by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company - it included a deputation of 150 workers to the company's HQ at London Bridge (Times 29 Sept 1911) and ended on Friday 6th Ocotber with the Times reporting that 'Various concessions have been made to the men' (7 October 1911).

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Anti-Cuts Round Up

Lots of local meetings and protests going on or coming up in relation to cuts. Here's a quick round up of latest news.

Uk Uncut at Lewisham Boots

The UK Uncut protests against wealthy tax dodges shut down a number of stores in Oxford Street yesterday, there was also a related protest at the Lewisham branch of Boots organised by Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance. This is from the leaflet they gave out to shoppers and staff:

Lewisham Council Lobby

Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance has issued a statement about last Monday's demonstration in Catford outside the town hall, where several people were arrested:

'Last night (29th November) Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance lead a peaceful protest outside Lewisham Town Hall in Catford to protest against first wave of cuts (c. £20m in the first tranche – possibly up to £78m over the next three years) which Steve Bullock was presenting to full council. The protest gathered various trade unions, the NUT, Unison, PCS, UCU and Unite, users of public services such as local libraries and Opening Doors and students from Goldsmiths College. Already the council has announced the closure of five libraries, the Amersham Children’s Centre, the Opening Doors employment centres as well as making 466 council workers redundant.

Around 150-200 people gathered from 5.30pm onwards in the freezing cold, wanting to express their democratic right to oversee the council and attend the public gallery of the council chamber. Upon arriving we discovered that just 28 people were to be allowed in. An orderly queue formed, where people were searched by security guards and the police. At 7.30pm when the meeting was due to start our protest began to gather outside the doors of the Council to make our voices heard.

We were met with harassment and abuse from the council employed security guards and the police, who were illegally preventing us from undertaking our democratic right to attend council meetings. Riot police then assaulted protesters and cleared the public gallery of all visitors and violently cleared the lobby.

Read the full statement here. See also the report at Save Catford - for the Council line, see the Mayor's statement at Brockley Central.

Art Against Cuts

There were well over 100 people at the Art Against Cuts event at Goldsmiths Student Untion yesterday, including a sizeable contingent from Goldsmiths as well as other art colleges - notably from the Slade, where there has recently been an occupation. There were various workshops planning creative actions in the lead up to Friday's demonstration on the day that the House of Commons will be voting on fee rises. The event continues today (Sunday), all welcome.

Unkettling education Teach-in at Goldsmiths

Tomorrow - Monday 6th December - there's a 'teach-in' at Goldsmiths in New Cross from 10 am to 9 pm, seemingly with lots of speakers from the Anthropology department. They say:

'The coalition government has launched a multi-front assault on education in Britain. Schools, colleges, universities, libraries, nurseries, youth programmes - all the places where we learn, teach, think and critique, from cradle to grave - have been targeted for a calculated offensive amounting to nothing less than an educational kettle. Join us for a collaborative teach-in to build the resistance and strategise a more progressive, inclusive, just educational future'

University for Strategic Optimism go to Tesco

The University of Strategic Optimism, which proclaims the need for 'free and open education, a return of politics to the public, and the politicisation of public space' held a lecture last week (November 30th) at the Tesco store in the Old Kent Road:

Simon Hughes Protest

Goldsmiths Student Union are calling for a 'Protest outside Simon Hughes office in Bermondsey, WEDNESDAY, meet 12 noon outside Goldsmiths RHB Building. He MUST vote against the fees!'.

Think that's all for now!

East Dulwich Reindeer

Following yesterday's spotting of Santa on a motorbike in Deptford, Rose has sent a picture of a reindeer in East Dulwich yesterday afternoon, by the indoor market. Presumably Santa was on his way to pick up the reindeer with a view to continuing his journey by sleigh.

If anybody gets a photo of the Three Wise Men walking over Hilly Fields, please do send it in.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Santa in Deptford

Santa Claus has been spotted out and about in South London today. On a motorbike, on Deptford Broadway.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Art Against Cuts in New Cross tomorrow

This weekend (December 4th -5th) sees the Arts Against Cuts Long Weekend at Goldmsiths College Student Union in New Cross. According to the organisers:

'For 48 hours, Goldsmiths will become a furnace of creativity, a place to re-imagine resistance against the cuts. The Long Weekend will reclaim the public, critical space that universities and art schools should be. We will transform the buildings into a living laboratory, an art school for the future, which brings together art students, artists, cultural workers and those fighting the cuts from across the UK to share in defiance... against the relentless marketization of our education and our lives. We will share knowledge and skills; we will collaborate across disciplines, ages and backgrounds; we will turn our imagination and desires into tools of disobedience. We will make sure that all the knowledge, ideas,tools and projects which emerge from the event will be disseminated and put into action in streets and public spaces across the country and be shared by all those in the anticuts movements.

The Long Weekend will be a feast of non stop workshops and presentations, slide shows and films, how-to sessions and skill shares, and a free space for spontaneous creation of events, actions and expressions. Its not important what art is but what it does, and right now it has the potential to turn the crisis of cuts into an opportunity for change...'

All welcome to drop-in (you don't have to be an artist or at Goldsmiths), it starts at 10 am Saturday and finishes at 11:30 pm on Sunday.

Local school student injured in demonstration

Today's South London Press (3 December 2010) reports that a 15-year-old school girl from East Dulwich was injured as a result of police action on the students demonstration in Whitehall on November 24th. According to her mother: 'She was kettled with her schoolmates in Whitehall. She tried to climb a fence to get out and was pushed to the ground and hit across the foot with a police baton. She was kept there for two hours after being injured until her friends managed to persuade police to let her out of the area because she was so distressed and obviously in pain... My daughter was wearing her [Sydenham] school uniform so it would have been clear to officers she was a young child'. At Kings College Hosptial she was diagnosed with a broken foot and will remain in plaster for six weeks.

Update: this case is now being taken up by Liberty, who are supporting legal action against the Police in relation to the the kettling of children. If you have any information that would assist with this, please contact Liberty.

Deptford Red Rector in Searchlight

In the November issue of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight there's an interview with Father Paul Butler, the Rector of St Paul's Church in Deptford. Paul, aka the Red Rector, is co-convenor of the Society of Sacramental Socialists. As well as denouncing racism and the BNP, he talks about his Christian socialist views and reveals an eclectic mix of 'non biblical heroes' including Karl Marx, Woody Guthrie, Emma Goldman, Toni Negri, St Francis of Assisi, Leonard Cohen and The Fall. I once went with him and another friend to see the Alabama 3 at Brixton Academy, so can vouch for his music taste.

(nb - you have to buy the magazine to read the full article, Searchlight do not publish all material online - details from the website)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tree Dressing in Burgess Park - and an Igloo

More Winter Tree Dressing this weekend (Saturday 4th December), this time in Southwark's Burgess Park. There will be mullled wine, mince pies and a choir from 11.30 to 4.00 pm. The day will also feature the announcement of the name of the new cafe in the park, right by the playground next to Chumleigh Gardens. Park was looking beautiful today, complete with an igloo.

See also Tree Dressing in Forest Hill

Barridale Allotments

There's something vaguely northern about this view from the railway bridge in Vesta Road - allotments sweeping down to the tracks from behind the terraced houses. The Barridale Allotment Society in New Cross have their own blog - though not much posted there recently - where you can read more about this little oasis.

New Cross in the Snow

Thanks to Rose for pictures

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tree Dressing in Forest Hill

The Devonshire Road Nature Reserve is alongside the Forest Hill to New Cross Gate railway line. On Sunday December 12th, 2 - 5 pm, they are having a Winter Tree Dressing Day with music, mince pies and mulled wine. All welcome.