Monday, October 31, 2011

The Mistrale club in Beckenham

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Mistrale club in Beckenham was a top nightspot for South East London, hosting internationally known bands and introducing people to the sounds of young America and the Caribbean. It was located at 2-4 High Street at Beckenham Junction. Before it became the Mistrale it was the plain old Beckenham Ballroom. Peter Frampton, who grew up in the area, played early gigs there with his teenage band, and bands like The Yardbirds performed (May 1964). Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones later recalled: 'We would also go to dances at the Beckenham Ballroom, where drainpipe trousers were banned'. It seems to have become the Mistrale in 1968. I have come across two flyers online for the club in that year. The grand opening on 17th April featured Manfred Mann and was followed by others including The Alan Price Set (24 April), Ike & Tina Turner (1 May), Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (3 May) and Marmalade (8 May 1968).

  In October 1968, artists perfroming included PP Arnold (11th October), and T.Rex with The Pretty Things (18th October). Ska was obviously popular with The Skatelites playing on 20 October 1968 and The Pyramids (who wrote Skinhead Moonstomp) in April, May and October. There was also a twice weekly Rock Steady Disco - according to George Austen this was put on by Little Lee and The Savoy Sound who also played at the Penthouse Club in Bromley and the Amersham Arms in New Cross ( a flyer for the latter in 1968 promises 'Ska, Soul and Tamla Motown' from Lee).

  Other gigs included: - Black Sabbath, 25 September 1968. - Kaleidoscope, 29 Novemeber 1968 (advert below). - Isley Brothers, 20 December 1968. - King Crimson on 11 July 1969; guitarist Robert Fripp recorded in his diary: 'Mistrale, Beckenham. Bad, but they know how to clap: faster, baby, you’re slowing me down. £50'. - Genesis, 2 March 1970. - Mungo Jerry, 31 Decemeber 1970. - Mott the Hoople, 9 April 1971. - Fleetwood Mac, 23 July 1971.

There's some good discussion about the place at Beckhenham History Forum. Seemingly there was a Rolls Royce on the way in where people paid their entrance money. Mike Loveday was the owner. One regular recalled: ''In the days of the Mistral the club was on 2 floors. The resident DJ used to play downstairs and guests – e.g. DJs like Emperor Rosko & Johnnie Walker and acts like Jimmy Helms - used to play upstairs. After you paid your entrance fee to the lady in the Rolls Royce you walked past a games room that had a pinball machine and table football before turning right to go past the bar and into the main (downstairs) dance area. In 1973/1974 the biggest night of the week was Friday night, with lots of good Soul music played. Saturday was not as busy and was a bit more “commercial”... the upstairs part of the club always used to close before the downstairs - which meant that the final few dances were always downstairs. Closing time was 2am, and the last record played at 1:55 am every night by the resident DJ (whose name I think may have been Lee) was "Goodnight My Love" by Jesse Belvin - a classic!'

Some of the DJs who played out at the Mistrale were national big names. Don Moss is named as 'popular DJ' for the 'opening of our Discotheque' in April 1968, presumably the same Don Moss who was a BBC radio DJ and one of the presenters of 60s TV pop show Thank your lucky stars. Emperor Rosko and Johnnie Walker were both DJs in the early days of Radio One. In around 1974 it became Tites Disco - Lee was still a resident DJ along with Rocking Richard and Dave Mitchell. The central ceiling between the ground and first floors had been removed to create a single floor warehouse-like club. Later still - in the 80s - it became Langtrys and then its latest incarnation, The Bridge Bar. 

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Deptford Pudding and Flying Pickets

Deptford Pudding is a newish blog with tales of food and more. Did you know that there actually is dessert called Deptford Pudding? This blog has the recipe, plus stuff about SE London beekeepers and memories of the local music scene in the early 1980s (Squeeze) - including this 'Today Deptford, Tomorrow the World' T-shirt obtained from the Albany in 1980.

The same t-shirt was worn on Top of the Pops at Christmas 1983 by Brian Hibbard of The Flying Pickets when the band went to number one in the singles charts with their cover of the Yazoo song 'Only you'. The Flying Pickets played regularly at the Albany and the Duke in Deptford before their success, and indeed gave a gold disc to the landlord of the Duke, Erich Höfer. The band was originally formed by actors who had been involved in the radical theatre company 7:84 ('7% of the population own 84% of the wealth'). They had a 1982 live album 'Live at the Albany Empire' and also performed a track called 'Last Round-Up in Deptford'.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Deptford Reach

Deptford Reach is a drop-in centre for adults over 16 years of age who are vulnerable through homelessness, mental ill-health, loneliness, social exclusion and severe poverty. They support more than 70 people each weekday through a programme of courses, workshops, activities and advice sessions. It was founded as Deptford Churches Centre in 1979 and is based on Speedwell Street.

A new short film features some of the people who go there talking about their experiences.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kate Bush: the Brockley demos

Kate Bush's Brockley years have been covered at Transpontine before (as has her time using Wood Wharf Studios in Greenwich). In the latest edition of Uncut magazine (November 2011), there's a feature on the greatest bootlegs of all time, with 'The Cathy demos' by Kate Bush at number 12: 'Between signing to EMI in the summer of 1976 and recording her debut album, The Kick Inside, a year later the 19-year-old Bush spent 12 months dancing by day and writing by night in her top floor flat at 44 Wickham Road, Brockley, London. The results are captured on this home-recorded collection of 22 voice/piano demo. Five songs - including 'Violin' and 'Hammer Horror' - later appeared on albums but the majority have never been heard since. The haunting 'Something like a Song' is one of her finest early piano ballads, more intriguingly on Organic Acid her brother John recites an erotic poem about mutual mastrubation while Bush demurely trills the chorus. Also known as the Phoenix demos after the Arizona radio station KSTM' (which first broadcast the tapes). You can find various tracks from this on Youtube and elsewhere.  

At one of the many Kate Bush fan sites, there's some more detail about this period. Seemingly, not all the neighbours were appreciative: 'I'd practice scales and that on the piano, go off dancing, and then in the evening I'd come back and play the piano all night. And I actually remember, well, the summer of '76 which was really hot here. We had such hot weather, I had all the windows open. And I just used to write until you know four in the morning, and I got a letter of complaint from a neighbor who was basically saying "Shuuut Uuuup!" cause they had to get up at like five in the morning. They did shift work and my voice had been carried the whole length of the street I think, so they weren't too appreciative'. 

 And yes in March 1977 she wrote Wuthering Heights on Wickham Road, on a piano bought from a second hand shop in Woolwich: 'I wrote in my flat, sitting at the upright piano one night in March at about midnight. There was a full moon and the curtains were open, and every time I looked up for ideas, I looked at the moon. Actually, it came quite easily. I couldn't seem to get out of the chorus - it had a really circular feel to it, which is why it repeats. I had originally written something more complicated, but I couldn't link it up, so I kept the first bit and repeated it. I was really pleased, because it was the first song I had written for a while, as I'd been busy rehearsing with the KT Band' (Kate Bush Club Newsletter, January 1979). (local photography blogger Danielle Waldman has recently made a pilgrimage to the house).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Peckham Space OPEN 2011

Peckham Space is the newish gallery in Peckham Square (near to the library). It is part of Camberwell College of Arts and has the aim of increasing access to and participation in contemporary art.

Peckham Space's second OPEN exhibition will take place from 29 November - 17 December 2011 and showcase artworks that have a connection to Peckham.

Artists who live, work or study in SE14, SE15 or SE5 are invited to submit work on Saturday 19 November 2011. Works will be selected for inclusion in the exhibition by a panel including representatives from Space Station 65, Camberwell College of Arts, Peckham Space and Tate Modern.

The work must be two dimensional, ready to hang and have a thematic connection to Peckham.

Further details here. For all enquiries relating to Peckham Space OPEN email or call 0207 358 9645.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anti-fascists jailed after Welling incident

Six anti-fascists have been jailed following action against a neo-nazi gig in Welling, south-east London. The gig took place on 28th March 2009 at the Duchess of Edinburgh pub in Upper Wickham Lane and was organised by notorious racist promoters Blood and Honour.

After the gig there was an altercation between a few of the antifascists and two fascists on the platform of Welling train station. According to Anti-Fascist Prisoner Support:

'Seven people were arrested on the night, and a further 16 were arrested in a series of dawn raids a few months later. Every antifascist the police could place in the vicinity of the fight was picked up. The police lacked enough evidence against almost all of those arrested to support an assault charge, but wished to pursue the cases against all of the accused for what we can assume were political reasons. 23 people therefore ended up being charged with conspiracy to commit violent disorder, although charges against one person were dropped before they reached crown court.

The first 11 anti-fascists went on trial on 6th June 2011, two or more years after their arrests. After 17 days, seven of them were convicted and four acquitted. Of the convicted, four were immediately sentenced to 21 months in prison. Another two were later sentenced to 18 and 15 months. The seventh was given a suspended sentence.

The second nine anti-fascists went on trial on 12th September 2011. The cases of two people who would have been in the second trial were dropped one working day before that trial commenced. All nine people in the second trial were acquitted. The trial was over two weeks long, but the jury took less than one hour to come to their unanimous verdict. They delivered it with pleasure to a cheering courtroom.

Whilst six of our comrades remain in prison we will give them all the support we can, and urge you to do the same'.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Killed and Killers are our Neighbours

A Deptford man was jailed this week 'after murdering the wrong man in a roadside execution. Michael Ofori was shot shortly after midnight on June 23 last year in Oslac Road, Catford, as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car'. Nicholas Allon-McVytie, aged 23, of Vanguard Street, Deptford was convicted of being the getaway driver for the gunman. The court 'was told of a rivalry between the defendants and their intended target which led to a number of shooting incidents in Sydenham and Brockley' (report in Newsshopper, 21 October).

Meanwhile the trial started this week of four teenagers from Peckham and New Cross accused of the murder of 17 year old Sylvester Akapalara 'a member of Herne Hill Harriers athletics club' who was shot dead on the Pelican Estate in Peckham in December 2010 (BBC News).

In another current trial, a teenage girl from New Cross is accused of going out in her school lunch hour to buy knives used to kill 15-year-old Sofyen Belamouadden, stabbed to death at Victoria station last year (Telegraph).

I don't feel personally unsafe walking round here most of the time (touch wood), but we shouldn't get into a mindset of an 'acceptable level of violence' as long it doesn't immediately impact on our family and friends. Killed and killers are our neighbours.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SE Londoners robbed of 8 years of life

The Office for National Statistics this week released their latest 'Geographic analysis of life expectancy statistics'. The good news is that life expectancy continues to rise - people are living longer. The bad news is that inequalities in life expectancy are growing. It's bad enough that accidents of birth can determine how wealthy people get to be, it's worse that richer people actually get to live significantly longer. This is reflected too in the differences between life expectancy in different parts of London.

A male child born in London between 1991 and 1993 had a life expectancy of between 70.6 (Tower Hamlets) and 75.9 (Harrow), a gap of 5.3 years. The gap for a boy born between 2008 and 2010 is more than nine years , from 76 (Islington) to 85.1 (Kensington and Chelsea). Greenwich and Lewisham are both near the bottom, with average life expectancy of 76.7 years. So a child born in David Cameron's part of Notting Hill can expect to have a good nine years more to enjoy their life than a child born in New Cross or Woolwich.

Girls have a higher life expectancy overall, but the pattern is similar, with Lewisham (81.3)and Greenwich girls (81.8) born in the last couple of years having a life expectancy 8 years behind their counterparts in K&C (89.8 years).

So is there something nasty in the water that's killing off the SE London locals? No it all comes down to class. According to ONS: 'The social class of an individual has been shown to have an effect on life expectancy. In a recent study by Johnson (2011), it was shown that the greatest growth in male life expectancy at birth between 1982–86 and 2002–06 was experienced by those in the lower managerial and professional class (such as school teachers and social workers) at 5.3 years. The least growth was experienced by those in the two least advantaged classes (semi-routine and routine occupations), at 3.8 and 3.9 years respectively. At age 65 the gap in life expectancy between men in higher managerial and professional occupations (18.8 years) and those in routine occupations (15.3 years) was 3.5 years in 2002–06. Similar results were found for females... area-based income deprivation largely explained geographical variations in life expectancy'.

In other words, average life expectancy is lower in areas like Lewisham and Greenwich because a higher proportion of poorer people live here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blurt at Bird's Nest

Flyer of the week award definitely goes to this one from the Birds Nest (32 Deptford Church Street, SE8) for a free gig on Friday October 28th, featuring Ted Milton & Blurt, Isambard Kroustalion and Pnak.

Blurt go way back to the early days of Factory records, contributing tracks to the legendary (to me at least) 1980 Factory Quartet album along with Durutti Column, The Royal Family and the Poor and Kevin Hewick.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SE London Zine Fest

South East London Zine Fest takes place at the Amersham Arms in New Cross on Saturday 12th November 2011, 12 – 6pm. They have some nice flyers too - by Tom Cassson:

... and Kathryn Corlett, featuring a Crystal Palace dinosaur:

Goldsmiths W.I. will be there among others.

Every time something like this comes around I think 'must do occasional hard copy printed zine version of Transpontine'. Maybe next time...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Savage Messiah at Goldsmiths

If you've never come across Laura Oldfield Ford's Savage Messiah zines, Verso has now made it easier for you by collecting them together in a book.

Laura's work typically features drawings of London (including Elephant and Castle, Heygate pictured below) alongside memories and reflections on urban space, free parties, gentrification and much more...

On Friday 21 October 2011 she will be giving a talk at in New Cross at Laurie Grove Council Rooms, Laurie Grove Baths, Goldsmiths College, 5pm- 8pm.

The event will also feature a screening of Ken Fero/Tariq Mehmood’s new film – Defeat of the Champion (25 mins) plus discussion.

All welcome. Further details at Trinketization.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Beautiful Launderette

The window of the Launderette at 369 New Cross Road has been designed by Artmongers and is a Trompe-l'œil - the washing machines you see on the front are actually photographs of the actual washing machines applied to the window.

But the interior of the launderette is arguably a work of art in its own right:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sharley McLean: from refugee nurse at Lewisham Hospital to LGBT activist

Born Lotte Reyersbach in Germany, Sharley McLean (1923-2013) fled the Nazis and ended up in London. Her parents both died in the Holocaust (her father was a socialist, her mother was Jewish). After hearing a libertarian speaker in Hyde Park she got involved in the London anarchist scene, selling the papers Freedom and War Commentary at Speakers Corner, though she was ambivalent about their pacifism during the Second World War: 'I really saw the Nazi machinery as an evil and so I did not want to participate in anything that would detract from that'.

During the war she worked as a nurse at Lewisham hospital, as she later recalled: 'My first involvement in unions was when I was nursing at Lewisham hospital. I learned from a friend that nurses at Friern Barnet got five nights off a fortnight and we were getting only four. I heard that there was a trade union in the hospital, basically for porters and cleaners and another nurse and I got in touch. We were probably among the first nurses to join a union. You had porters who wheeled trolleys for the corpses; you had porters who looked after the rubbish. Everybody insisted on the differential and I thought that was crazy. However, we did get five nights off a fortnight.

I hated the war; we were in the frontline, all the casualties we saw. When Sandringham School was bombed, there was a tremendous anti-German feeling when those kids were brought into the hospital. It was heartbreaking: a war against children. You just worked; there was a dedication and even people with little nursing experience were called upon, to set up drips. It was all done by hand and we had a big fish kettle to sterilize things. Things were primitive compared to now and the sepsis rate was higher, and there were no wonder drugs. I was also on duty when the hospital was hit. A bomb fell on the dispensary which caused tremendous fire. As nurses we were told where there were so-called safe points and one of my friends on E Block had taken shelter at one of those points and that collapsed and she was killed outright. We were badly burned in the D Block I was in but we managed to evacuate all the patients, and people who hadn’t walked for months and months suddenly found they were able to walk down these ghastly fire escapes. At the end of the war Ruth [another refugee] and I went down Lewisham High Street and we sang every German folk song we could remember'.

Sharley (pictured above in 1941) carried on working in the NHS until she retired, and later became involved with HIV/AIDS support at the Terrence Higgins Trust as well as being a lesbian activist working for the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Indeed her first encounters with other lesbians were while working at Lewisham in the Second World War.

'When Lewisham Hospital was bombed, we all shared rooms and even beds because the rooms were so small. We were together; we cuddled each other without giving it a second thought. I think we were naive sexually. One staff nurse would say there were two ward sisters who were 'homosexual ladies'. They used to tell people they weren't married because their boyfriends were killed in the First World War. I remember we used to look at them with curiosity. Ridiculous when you think how naive one was.

I can remember one woman in particular I had a tremendous crush on. She was a cancer patient. I was very fond of her and I was told off for being too emotionally involved when she died. Also one of the orderlies used to say to me, 'Oh, you are one of us' and I thought she meant that I was as English as she was and I felt flattered that I had been accepted'.

Source: Inventing Ourselves: Lesbian Life Stories (Routledge, 1989). The air raid on Lewisham Hospital took place in July 1944, killing at least three people. The bombed school she refers to was actually called Sandhurst Road School in Catford - 38 children were killed there in January 1943.

Update March 2022:

Sharley MacLean was given recognition in the 'Out and About' exhibition of material from the Bishopsgate Institute LGBTQ+ Archive at the Barbican Centre in Feb/March 2022. Included was a banner from 'Hyde Park Gays and Sapphics' with a sign saying that this was a group founded by Sharley in 1982 and which for more than 20 years gave speeches on gay rights at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cool Tan Largactyl Shuffle

CoolTan Arts Largactyl Shuffle walks have become a bit of a South London institution, rambling through the city at all hours, exploring lost histories (particularly relating to mental health) and promoting well-being through gentle exercise.

This weekend, to mark World Mental Health Day, they are having a special Largactyl Shuffle Sponsored Walk joined by comedian and writer Arthur Smith.

Meet outside the main entrance of the Maudsley Hospital, Denmark Hill, SE5 8AZ at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, 15 October 2011 to join the 'Largactyl Shuffle Trail' from Camberwell to the River by Tate Modern. As this is a sponsored walk to raise funds for CoolTan Arts (mental health arts project), walkers are encouraged to register with them in advance - details here.

Earlier this year I joined their May Day walk (actually on May 21st). It started at Tate Modern and ended up with impromptu Maypole dancing with ribbons round a tree on Camberwell Green (pictured). Along the way, various May Day customs were discussed including a visit to the possible site of the former maypole by the Elephant and Castle.

As it was the week of IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia), members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence performed a blessing at the gates of the Cross Bones burial ground on Redcross Way SE1.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wapping Exhibition in New Cross

There's a fascinating exhibition at Goldsmiths College in New Cross to mark the 25th anniversary of the News International Wapping dispute. In 1986, Rupert Murdoch moved the production of The Sun and News of the World from Fleet Street to Wapping and sacked 5,500 production and clerical workers. Another 100 journalists lost their jobs when they refused to cross picket lines. In a bitter year long dispute, riot police were deployed against pickets outside the Wapping plant and many people were arrested and injured.

The exhibition includes lots of original material from the time, including union banners, posters, leaflets, and copies of the dispute newspaper, The Wapping Post.

The workers' headquarters was across the river in Southwark at Caxton House (13-16 Borough Road, SE1 0AA - now a South Bank University building). A report in The Wapping Post described how 'The Operations Room' worked: 'The office functions on the top floor of Caxton House, 24 hours a day. Set up from the start of the dispute as an information and co-ordinating centre, the Operations Team is mainly staffed by [clerical staff sacked by Murdoch]. The Ops’ services include taking requests for speakers, leaflets or badges etc.; publicising mass pickets, meetings and marches; dealing with general enquiries on the dispute and acting as “agony aunts” (or uncles) when people are despondent. An Advice Centre in Southwark Streeet helps out with unemployment and supplementary benefit enquiries. Each arrest at Wapping or other picket lines is handled by Ops'.

In the same building, sacked workers ran the 24 hours a day national picket centre: 'A rotating team of 20, working eight-hour shifts, co-ordinates movements and mobilises the print unions’ nationwide team of flying pickets… It has to be secret. At the beginning of the campaign, the pickets found that the police were often ready and waiting in numbers. The problem was overcome when the organisers stopped using phones to alert the flying pickets' (Wapping Post, 7 June 1986).
In Southwark too, 'A Wives Support group has just been formed and will hold its first meeting on Wednesday October 29, at 5:30 pm in John Marshall Hall, Blackfriars Road, London SE1'. Southwark Trades Council published the following 'Would you buy a newspaper from this man' poster, printed at the Southwark Trade Union Support Unit, 17 Braganza Street SE17.

A support demonstration by Southwark residents and workers was called for August 16 1986 by Southwark Printers Support Committee.
I spent some time on the picket line at Wapping on Saturday nights, and on my first day at work in London in January 1987 (at Lambeth's West Norwood Library) I got involved in the boycott of Murdoch's papers. If I recall correctly the Labour Council had initially banned the papers from libraries during the dispute, but had backed down after legal action. But the staff in the libraries refused to handle the papers when it was delivered.

The exhibition at Goldsmiths continues until 14 October in the New Academic Building, Goldsmiths College, New Cross, London, SE14 6NW. It is free and open to the public - the building is the new lego like structure on the green at the back of the college (up on the bank behind the big trees), opposite the old main building. You can visit it from 9 am to 9 pm, except for Friday when it closes at 5 pm.

(I also found some interesting Deptford material in the exhibition which I will return to at a later date).

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Deptford Machine

Deptford X arts festival has finished but there is still some stuff to see for the next week or so. Unmissable at Utrophia (120 Deptford High Street) is Ben Parry's The Deptford Machine, an amazing sculpture in motion assembled from 'junk' found in and around Deptford. It's all very Heath Robinson, with bike wheels, bits of an old sewing machine, piano parts, a drum, a clock, a guitar, toys and much more. It's a sound piece as well as a feast for the eyes, with the bits of old musical instruments setting off odd beats and melodies.

I believe it's open until next Saturday, so try and take a look. There were quite a few curious passers-by checking it out on Saturday last, it's seems to have captured people's imaginations beyond the usual Deptford arterati.

See also: Crosswhatfields? 'We love the Deptford Machine'.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kit and Cutter Return to Old Nun's Head

Kit & Cutter's Adventures in Pre-Modern Music folk nights are always a treat, and they have another one coming up in a couple of weeks on Saturday 22nd October 2011 at The Old Nuns Head, Nunhead Green, SE15. They say:

'Will Duke and Dan Quinn play traditional songs from our small densely populated island on melodeon and concertina. Redolent in the busy history, and steeped in the sounds of the South, they perform with a dry wit and friendship built over many years as musical comrades. They sing in unison with a natural sympathy rarely found outside of families. It’s a treat to be welcomed into their company for the evening.

Ayarkhaan hail from a very different landscape. Yakust is on the outskirts of Siberia, where less than a million people inhabit a space as large as India. This isolation has helped the preservation of this most distinctive of musical traditions: the three striking ladies who comprise the band sing in unearthly harmony, play the local variant of the Jews harp, the Khomus, and imitate the sounds of nature, birds and air. Not to be missed'.

Plus the usual high quality floor singers and much more. Worth £5 of everybody's money (facebook event). See review here of their last event and an earlier event at the late lamented Deptford Arms.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bermondsey Joyriders

The Bermondsey Joyriders could be described as a London rock'n'roll supergroup, with its members all veterans of the first wave punk scene when everybody wanted to be the New York Dolls rather than imitate the Sex Pistols. Lead singer Gary Lammin was a guitarist in Cock Sparrer, bassist Marty Stacey was in Chelsea and drummer Keith Boyce, formerly of Heavy Metal Kids, is sometimes supplemented by Rat Scabies of The Damned.

The name is explained by Lammin in this interview: 'It was graffiti on a wall in London Docklands at the time the docks were be redeveloped into yuppie warehouse apartments. At first I actually thought it was a name of a band but later found out that it was a vigilante gang of young lads who were pissed off about their neighbourhood being carved up by these property developers who sold the places (i.e. the docks) where their community existed for vast profits and what the Bermondsey Joyriders would do was steal top of the range yuppie cars, that were the cars of the yuppies moving into the area. and race them at speed before ceremoniously burning them out... enough said'.

Not sure if any of the band live locally, but judging by the fact that they conduct interviews in a cafe in the Old Kent Road and go to Millwall they are not far away.

Intriguingly they have recently started recording and performing with John Sinclair, a legend of the US counter-culture. Among other things he was manager of Detroit proto-punk band the MC5, founder of the anti-racist White Panther Party and victim of a police sting that saw him jailed for cannabis offences. The latter made him a cause celebre, with John Lennon writing a song about him and Stevie Wonder (as well as John and Yoko) performing at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 1971.

A Bermondsey Joyriders album featuring Sinclair has been recorded but not yet released, and they played at the 100 Club earlier this year (reviewed at Red Mist).

Friday, October 07, 2011

Robbery at Halfpenny Hatch

A few weeks ago I walked late at night from Greenwich to Sanford Walk via the Ha'penny Hatch bridge over Deptford Creek. Luckily I had a better experience than somebody making a similar journey in 1831. As reported in the Police Gazette (6 August 1831):


On Monday night, the 25th ultimo, about twelve o'clock, Ebenezer Radford, of Montague Terrace, Peckham Lane, Deptford, was returning from Deptford, by the Canal, to his residence, when we was suddenly seized by two Men, near the Halfpenny-hatch, who dragged him some distance, and told him it was useless to make any noise, as they intended taking his life: they then attempted to suffocate him, but, by great exertions, he jumped up, and ran several yards, crying 'Murder !' He was then overtaken by the same parties, who dragged him through some water, and threw him into a ditch, where he was discovered, senseless, about four o'clock on the following morning'.

(Peckham Lane is what is now Queens Road, Peckham).

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Old London Bridge (and an ex-Lewisham icon)

The current London Bridge only dates back to 1973, and the one before to the 19th century. Old London Bridge proper lasted for around 600 years from the early 13th century and until the 18th century was lined with houses and shops. It was about 30m downstream (towards Tower Bridge) compared with the current bridge.

On the north side of the river, the bridge approach road passed in front of the church of St Magnus the Martyr. Today in the Church, among many other interesting features, there is a great model of the medieval bridge.

Outside the Church there are also some stones from the old bridge.

A Lewisham icon

Incidentally, the church also includes an icon, 'Our Lady of Perpetual Succour', painted in 1908 in Moscow and commissioned by Father Fynes-Clinton, rector at St Magnus' 1921-1959. The church website states that it was originally displayed in a chapel in All Saints, Lewisham. I assume this was All Saints on Blackheath rather than All Saints in New Cross (not aware of any other churches of this name in the borough).

Fynes-Clinton favoured closer links between the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and indeed was one of the founders of the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association in 1906, whose history states: 'It was a cold and windy night, the rain pelted down stair-rod like, whilst two Anglican clergymen met under a railway bridge in Lewisham in 1906. They were the Reverend Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, an Assistant Curate at St Stephen’s Lewisham, an aristocrat; and Canon John A. Douglas, Vicar of St Luke’s, Camberwell, from a middle-class engineering family...Under that railway bridge in 1906 the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association, in its present form, was born'.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

More Venue Flyers

I've put some flyers from the Venue in New Cross 1990s indie heyday here before (and here), here's some more courtesy of their Facebook site where there's even more. I was there fairly regularly, getting two buses from Brixton to make it and usually having a drink at the New Cross Inn or Dewdrop Inn before heading in. Clearly some amazing bands played there and sometimes I was present, but it was never just about the bands. Half the time I was dancing in the smaller bar upstairs or standing chatting on the stairs when some group who later headlined Glastonbury were playing.

Some of the line ups too look incredible now, not just headliners but some of the support acts. Look at this from 1994 - Oasis, Shed Seven and Cast all on the same night in May. Love them or hate them but all three became pretty big. Similarly Ultramarine, Transglobal Underground and Dreadzone. Or Prolapse supporting Heavenly. I saw Heavenly at the Venue, but think it was before this gig in '94.

Napalm Death in 1990:
November 1991 I was at that Chumbawamba gig I think, certainly saw them there. Also saw Spiritualized there, but again not sure it was that night (think when I saw them they were still called Spiritualized Electric Mainline with Laika supporting)

I was at that Monochrome Set gig in December 1991:
Jonathan Richman played there in 1992:

Pulp supported Lush in the same year:

Blur supported Ruff, Ruff and Ready in 1990 (see also Canadian punk band DOA's final gig in UK):

If I had a time machine, I'd probably choose to go back to 1992 and see disco divas Kelly Marie and Tina Charles:

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Make Do and Mend

As already featured at Brockley Central, Café Crema (306 New Cross Road) is hosting Make Do and Mend, a series of free Sunday afternoon knitting/crochet/embroidery and patchworking sessions, led by experts. Details are as follows:

Knitting: Sunday 0ct 9th, Nov 6th, Dec 4th -'Suitable for beginners and intermediate or those wanting to kick start a new or old project and get advice on specific knitting questions. Materials provided.

Crochet: Sunday Oct 16th, Oct 23rd, Oct 30th: 'Led by Dawna. Suitable for beginners. Three sessions to get you on the road to crochet, materials provided'.

Patchworking: Sunday Nov 27th, December 18th: 'Traditional hand sewn patchworking techniques: led by patchworking maker/ tutor and member of Brocolage collective, Dalston, Katherine May. Suitable for beginners and those with projects in progress.

'Sundays 2-4. café will be open from 2pm and close at 4.30. Bar and kitchens will be open for lunch, teas fair-trade and organic coffees and homemade cakes (including gluten free and vegan). We are also fully licensed. Accompanied children are welcome to join in'.

I last went down there last month during the Capital Growth Edible Open Gardens day. What is not immediately apparently from the New Cross Road is that behind the cafe there is a 'Secret Orchard', also featuring some good graffiti art.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Telegraph Hill Pantomime

While some of have been enjoying the October sunshine, others are already planning ahead for the winter and indeed holding auditions for pantomimes.

Courtesy of the New Cross bush telegraph - posters pinned to trees - I note that this year's Telegraph Hill pantomime will be Jack and the Beanstalk and will feature topical characters including 'The Wicked Witch of the Big Society' and 'Prunella Proffitt, social entrepreneur' and 'Giant Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities'.

Auditions are at 8 pm on Thursday 8th October at the Telegraph Hill Centre, junction of Kitto Road/Pepys Road SE14.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Lewisham Pensioners Book Sale

Lewisham Pensioners Forum is having a Book Sale next Sunday 9th October, 10 am to 4 pm. It promises to be a big one, with a huge range of bargain books - 5 paperbacks for £1 and hardbacks 50p to £2. Sounds very tempting and if like me you wonder where you are going to put any more books, you can always take some you've finished with down there - they will be taking donations on the day.

It's in the Saville Centre - a couple of blocks south of Lewisham Hospital -436 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LJ.

For more about local pensioners' issues you should also check out Calling All Pensioners, the weekly radio show on Resonance FM (104.4 fm) presented by Harry Hayward and Tim Hamilton from the Deptford Action Group for the Elderly (DAGE). It's currently broadcast on Sundays at 2 pm.