Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lewisham Hospital Judgement Day

Wednesday July 31st is an important day in the campaign to keep emergency and maternity services open at Lewisham Hospital, with the judgement due on the legal challenges to the closure plans brought by the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and Lewisham Council.

People will be gathering at the Royal Court of Justice at 10:30 am for the announcement, and win or lose the campaign is calling on people to come to the hospital at 5 pm to celebrate or show determination to continue the fight.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Music Monday: SE26 4JP

A bit of ultra-localist music from a youth project on the Hazel Grove Estate in Sydenham, celebrating not just SE26 but SE26 4JP. Track was made last year as part of a project funded by Lewisham Homes and Sydenham Assembly.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Cross Barclays Bank to Close

The Barclays bank at 197 New Cross Road is due to close on 27 September this year. The building dominates that end of New Cross Gate, where it has stood since around 1910. It was originally built for the London & South Western Bank.

Whatever you think of Barclays, or of banks in general, the fact is that people who rely on having to get to the bank will now have to travel further. This applies particularly to those without internet banking, including many old people, people who need to deposit cash, and those who would actually like to speak to another human face to face rather than negotiating their way through the closed loops of telephone banking.

The biggest impact on most people locally though will be the loss of two cash points. It's true there is another one set back from the road in the post office next door, but if that one's not working the nearest free cash points are at Sainsburys. And frankly when Sainsburys is closed who wants to walk through a big empty car park at night to use them?

I know that some people locally have written letters of complaint to Barclays, not sure it will do much good at this late stage, but if you wish to register your opposition you can write to: to Barclays Bank PLC, 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP

No word yet on the future use of the building.

Friday, July 26, 2013

History Corner: Peckham Anarchists in the 1890s

Interesting account by Nick Heath at Libcom on 'state repression against the Peckham Anarchist Communist Group in 1894':

'In the 1890s several groups of, in the main, young activists broke away from Hyndman’s Social Democratic Federation and coalesced as anarchist groups in Canning Town, Deptford and Peckham. The Peckham Anarchist-Communist Group was one of these groups and was extremely active. It engaged in much local activity , although the rather suspect anarchist H. B. Samuels became a member of the Group.

However this period -1893-1894-was one of active repression against the British anarchist movement, with government, police and judiciary acting to attack open air meetings organised by anarchists, as in Hyde Park, Manchester and indeed in Peckham.

In March 1894 Peckham Anarchists held an open air meeting in Peckham Park Road on 15th March. A group of right wing thugs in collusion with the police attacked the meeting and seized the group’s red flag which was then torn to pieces. The group defended themselves with walking sticks and the police, who had been actively inciting the mayhem moved in. Detective Sergeant Walsh of the CID apparently got behind little boys and pushed them forward, according to Freedom of April of that year. Alfred Foster, the main speaker, twenty seven years old and living at Commercial Road, Peckham was arrested by P.C. Martin for ‘disorderly conduct by causing a crowd to assemble’!

At Lambeth Police Court the following day Foster appeared before Justice Biron. Speaking for the defence was another member of the group William Hart, a tailor’s trimmer, who stated that he was an atheist and took an affirmation rather than swearing on the Bible. Biron was hostile from the beginning asking “You were making Anarchist speeches?” Foster was ordered to find a surety of £25 to be of good behaviour for six months or go to prison for a month.

Agnes Henry volunteered to put up the money but was refused as a woman! H.B. Samuels in his turn offered to put up the surety but was refused because he would not swear on the Bible! After a week in prison Foster was freed when W. B. Parker put up the money.

The following week the Peckham anarchists again held an open air meeting which was “perfectly orderly” until a group of blackleg gas-stokers operating in collusion with CID detectives attacked the meeting. As a result the Peckham group gave up holding open air meetings, but continued an active propaganda.

It was present for the May Day assembly in Hyde Park later in the year where its black banner was inscribed with the motto: ‘Away with authority and monopoly - We demand free access to the means of life’.

Read the full article here

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Cross RumBQ/Yard Dance on Sunday

Trinity Music/Unit137 Sound System put on a great free event next to Telegraph Hill Park in May (see 'Reggae bass shakes Telegraph Hill Park'). Next weekend they are back in the area with a RumBQ/Yard Dance on Sunday 28 July (1 pm to 7 pm) next to New Cross Fire Station on Queens Road. They say:

'We have been scouting for another local venue, and are delighted to announce we are putting on the second RumBQ; this time in collaboration with Somerville Trust, the people behind Lewisham local treasure, the Somerville Adventure Playground.

This is a FAMILY FRIENDLY event, please bring your children, make the scene nice. Bring blankets, folding chairs, whatever you like. The event will be on an asphalt football terrain, so a bit harder than last time! There will be food and drink on sale, please don't bring any along. Supporting our food and bar shows you are backing this event. 20% of our proceeds after costs will be donated to the Somerville Adventure Playground Trust.

It's a family affair, a community happening. If you were at the last one, or heard about it, we hope you'll be down for this!'. Admission free.

Line up:
Hylu & Jago
Sleepy Time Ghost
DJ Snuff & MC Honey Brown
D Tek
Lionpulse Sound
Daddy Nature
powered by Unit 137 Sound System

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

EDL splinter group in South London on Saturday

The English Volunteer Force is a far right splinter group from the English Defence League. Charmingly it takes its name from the murderous Ulster Volunteer Force, responsible for numerous killings during the Irish conflict.

On Saturday 27th July 2013 they are planning an anti-immigration protest outside Lunar House  (40 Wellesley Rd), the immigration office in Croydon. Anti-racists including Croydon Migrant Solidarity and South London Anti-Fascists will be gathering to oppose them from 11:30 am.

There is also intelligence that afterwards the EVF members may join other extreme right wing groups in trying to march through Woolwich and/or Lewisham.

South London Anti-Fascists state that 'People will be assembling later in the day to stop the march at the junction of Deptford High Street and New Cross Road, at 3:00 p.m'. Exactly what happens on the day is unpredictable, as SLAF advise: 'Racist groups are notorious for changing their plans at the last minute; in any case, they state they want to be at multiple locations through the day. Therefore, we suggest bringing an adequately topped-up Oyster card in case we need to travel. This means we can travel safely in groups rather than dispersing on our own'.

South London Anti-Fascists Call Out here

Unite Against Fascism Call Out here

Ikonika, Mr Cake & Nunhead

Hyperdub artist Ikonika has a new album out later this month, Aerotropolis. Rob Walker's video for the track Mr Cake features a virtual city that seems to owe more to LA or Las Vegas than London, but in an interview in The Fader, Ikonika reveals that inspiration for the track title came from Nunhead:

“Mr Cake” is a funny title for a song. Where did it come from? 
'I saw it in a shop one day, but I didn’t buy it. It was a small cake at the counter in a shop in Nunhead. It looked shit'.


I guess she must be referring to Ayres the bakers, though it could have been a cake in another non-cake shop. But note she said the cake looked shit, not the shop. Everyone knows that Ayres is a great bread/cake shop, 'Master Bakers of Nunhead since 1955' no less. Katy B once chose it as one of her top shops in an Evening Standard 'My London' interview, saying: 'Ayres the Bakers in Nunhead Lane, SE15, sells amazing sausage rolls'.

Katy B

Not sure what Ikonika was doing locally, she is usually described as a 'West London producer', but I know she played out at Peckham Palais earlier this year. Whatever she thought of the cake, it is pretty clear that with her and Katy B both coming through the doors, Ayres can claim to be the number one bakers for the London post-dubstep scene. Watch out for Kode9 buying an apple danish there soon (actually I think he does or did live in Camberwell), or Benga waiting for his rye loaf to be sliced.

update: Ikonika has now cleared Ayres of all charges of stocking shit cakes - apparently Mr Cake was actually in Nunhead newsagent:

Mr Cake is a great summer track by the way.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Socialist artists and Third World Books in 1979 South London

Looking through an old copy of Photography/Politics: One, published by the Photographers Workshop in September 1979, I noticed a couple of interesting South London small ads.

Sabarr Books was at 121 Railton Road SE24 'Specialising in books on Third World politics and literature'. I believe that Olive Morris (among other things a Brixton Black Panther) was involved with this. Later the same address was squatted for many years as the 121 Centre anarchist bookshop and social space.

The League of Socialist Artists was based at 18 Camberwell Church Street (now Tuckers solicitors), and were advertising a publication on 'Class War in the Arts! The League of Socialist Artists v. The "Art and Culture" Agencies of Monopoly Capital'.

The LSA seem to have been a dogmatic group promoting strict 'socialist realism' in art and associated with the small Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain. According to this article by Sam Richards:

'In addition to his activities  in the MLOB, Mike Baker and other members of the group, notably his co-worker and wife, Maureen Scott, were active from August 1971 in the League of Socialist Artists (LSA). John Walker argues that: "Despite their left-wing rhetoric, in certain respects the LSA artists were conservatives: they believed in representation not abstraction, employed traditional techniques such as painting and drawing, accepted art galleries as places to display work and the necessity for artists to make a living by selling their products as commodities"(Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain).  Based at 18 Church Street, Camberwell,The Communard Gallery, until 1975 provided the exhibition space where they exhibited their own work, delivered lectures, published the poetry of the Turkish Communist Nazim Hikmet, The Wall ,with illustrations by Scott, sold posters of Marx, Lenin and Stalin and generally promoted the cause of socialist realism'.

As was usually the way with such organisations there were bitter splits and denunciations. Baker was expelled as leader of the MLOB in 1974 - and in another local connection I note that the address given for the organisation at the time was 17b Brindley Street SE14.

(found this image online, seemingly from a gallery catalogue)

Friday, July 19, 2013

25 Tanners Hill: 18th century building restored

25 Tanners Hill was for many years the base for Witcomb Cycles, which hand built frames in the shop and workshop space behind. It closed in 2009 and has been converted to a private house and the Peter von Kant gallery space.

The conversion/restoration of the building by Dow Jones Architects won a RIBA London Regional Award earlier this year. Like the other buildings in that row, this one dates back to the early 18th century. As described by the architects: 'This grade II listed building, formerly a bicycle repair shop, is a timber-framed building made using timbers from ship construction at the historic Deptford docks. Our restoration exposes the elements of the historic structure that are intact, and uses lime plaster and timber joinery as a neutral background'.

The buidling has been profiled in an article, Down Deep in Deptford, by Jay Merrick in the Architects Journal (15 February 2013). He says: 'The scheme’s exposure of historic fabric is exemplary, the faintly surreal material and spatial qualities of its groundplane an engrossing temporal puzzle. The building is part of a higgledy-piggledy terrace of small two and three-floor houses, most built at the beginning of the 18th century and, in the case of No 25, rebuilt or recast circa 1750. This small fillet of Deptford still radiates a strong sense of that distant past'.

'Most recently, No 25 Tanners Hill had been a bicycle repair shop with a long single-storey asbestos roofed extension at the back. When the architects hacked, investigatively, through the mouldering layers of centuries-old distemper, lime plaster, and detritus on the inside of the western ground floor wall, they were effectively stripping back the final 18th century dividing line between Deptford and the rural wilds of Kent.

The architects Biba Dow and Alun Jones were dealing with a profoundly dilapidated building whose original plan had been derived from an early 18th-century standard London housing design for the ‘lower orders’, taken from Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises: Or The Doctrine of Handy Works, Applied to the Arts of Smithing, Joinery, Carpentry, Turning [and] Bricklayery'.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lewisham Hospital latest - and my tour of A&E

Still waiting for the outcome of the judicial reviews into the Government's planned reductions in services at Lewisham Hospital. Two weeks ago at the High Court both the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and Lewisham Council submitted their cases that the plans were unlawful.

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 2 July

On 29 June, the Campaign organised their own People's Commission at the Broadway Theatre in Catford. They say:

'The purpose of the People’s Commission was to hear the evidence which had been ignored by the Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw and by Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt who accepted Kershaw’s proposals for Lewisham almost in their entirety.

In front of a packed audience in The Broadway Theatre Catford, a panel chaired by barrister Michael Mansfield QC and including Baroness Warnock and award-winning Lewisham author and journalist Blake Morrison, heard evidence from 25 witnesses – patients, patient group representatives, GPs, hospital consultants and nurses who were questioned by a team of barristers from Tooks Chambers.  More than 50 witnesses, including community members and faith leaders, gave written and video testimony, some of which was shown at the Commission hearing.

Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and Lord David Owen spoke passionately in defence of Lewisham Hospital and the NHS.

The initial findings of the Panel are that:

- the consultation exercise was a sham.
- there was unanimous opposition from Lewisham GPs and the CCG to the option to close services at Lewisham Hospital.
- the decision to downgrade Lewisham in the manner described above has nothing to do with the provision of healthcare in SE London              
- the Minister's decision is based entirely on economic considerations and is an unvarnished sleight of hand to reconfigure finances not healthcare
- the proposals demonstrate a lamentable absence of evidence-led research
- where the proposals envisage new facilities there is no evidence to show how they would be implemented, nor what impact the removal of current resources would have on the community.
- the proposal for a small and safe A&E is a contradiction in terms and clearly does not accord with basic clinical  requirements.
- the midwife-led birth unit presents no clinical sense
- a walk-in paediatric urgent care service has no clear parameters, is unsafe and unsustainable.

The panel was also concerned that an admirable record of training at Lewisham Hospital will also fall victim to the proposed changes'.

My tour of South London A&E

As it happened, I spent the day of the Commission in Accident and Emergency with an eye injury. One of the issues with the plans is that people from Lewisham would have to travel further to get care. In some cases that could be a matter of life and death, my case wasn't that serious but I can say that when you are suffering in pain every moment of delay in getting treatment feels like an eternity. It was bad enough being stuck in the traffic in Ladywell, it would have been much worse if I had had to get to Woolwich.

I did (eventually) get some great care, getting to be seen by a specialist doctor which made me very thankful for the NHS. My experience certainly reconfirmed my opposition to cuts in services, but also made me aware of how simply defending the current services is not enough. Hospital services are already under-resourced and over-stretched, sometimes leaving patients in limbo waiting hours with nobody telling them what's going on. 

In my case, I was told at Lewisham that I should have gone to Kings College Hospital as Lewisham didn't have an ophthalmologist. After some pain relief at Lewisham  I ended up going to Kings in Camberwell later on. I don't know how Kings would cope with the increase in patients it would face if Lewisham A&E closes. Along with most people there I waited several hours to be seen after a quick initial chat with the triage nurse. I don't doubt that were people who were more of a priority than me, but they were plainly understaffed. There were times on a busy Saturday night in casualty when there appeared to be nobody on duty at the front desk - people wandering in off the streets to find that both the triage nurse and the admin/receptionist were temporarily off somewhere else. Maybe the hospital was saving its staff to make sure it looked better on Channel 4's 24 Hours in A&E, currently being filmed there!

(on a personal note, my eyes are now fine. Several people have told me that I would have been better off going to Moorfields Eye Hospital Accident and Emergency by Old Street Station, which treats people from all over London and beyond. Maybe, it is good to have specialist centres like that, but it also very important that people can get urgent treatment closer to home. I was lucky enough to have someone to take care of me and drive me around, as I was temporarily blinded, don't know how I would have coped on public transport).

Ellie Veale from Hither Green on top of Mount Kilimanjaro with a Save Lewisham Hospital poster

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rizzle Kicks in Deptford

Rizzle Kicks were in Deptford's Broadway Fields this week, filming the video for their next single 'Lost Generation'

Thanks to Down to Rizzness for the tip

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

New Cross Fire Station Saved - but cuts continue

New Cross Fire Station seems to have been spared the axe, according to the latest proposals due to be considered by London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) on Thursday 18 July. Clapham too has been saved, but 10 stations are earmarked for closure including three in South London: Southwark, Downham and Woolwich.

There has been fierce opposition to the plans published in January to close 12 fire stations in order to implement Boris Johnson's cuts of £28.8 million over the next two years. Banners such as the above (in Pepys Road SE14) have appeared around London. On 22 May, 200 people attended a consultation meeting at Sydenham School and voiced overwhelming opposition to the plans.
While it is good news that New Cross won't close, the proposals will still result in a reduced service across Lewisham and beyond, and in fact the number of proposed job cuts is now being increased from 520 to 552. So the campaign against the cuts will no doubt be continuing.

Monday, July 08, 2013

South London's Rite of Spring

This looks great - exactly 100 years after the first performance in London of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, a free show along Deptford Creek  by the Laban Centre

'Brian Solomon, a dancer with Trinity Laban's Transitions Dance Company for the past year, will bring together 20 professional dancers, actors and the local community for a new interpretation of Stravinsky's masterpiece, The Rite of Spring.
The cast of South London's Rite of Spring will include dance alumni Charlotte Pook, Ashley Hind, Sarah Golding and Daisy Farris, as well as retired Canadian dance star  Caroline Farquhar and Theatre-Maker Lesley Ewen
Canadian-born Brian is guided by his Native American heritage in his choreography, and he is also particularly interested in engaging with unusual spaces in communities and helping people re-learn forgotten ways of using their bodies.
Brian choreographed The Rite of Spring a few years ago, but has recreated it to mark the anniversary of the first performance of this seminal work in London: "I felt that this primordial piece really demanded a cast of all ages and abilities to create a fuller atmosphere for the brutal story of death and sacrifice," said Brian. "By bringing together professionals and members of the local community with no prior experience to train together, we have been able to generate something much more powerful and strikingly real".
South London's Rite of Spring will be performed at the Laban Building on 12 July at 7pm and 13 July at 4pm - the only event in the city marking the infamous work's performance in London on those dates exactly 100 years ago. Entrance is free'.

Friday, July 05, 2013

London & Brighton: a pub vanishes

This empty patch of land on the corner of Queens Road and Asylum Road SE15 is all that's left of the recently demolished London & Brighton pub. As discussed here previously, the pub was closed in 2008 though it had an after life as a squatted centre putting on gigs and parties.

The pub will  be replaced with housing by London & Quadrant. Of course we need more social housing, but we also need spaces for people to socialise and enjoy themselves.

photo from Pubshistory - the site suggests that its names comes from being on the corner of London and Brighton roads. Not sure about that though, Queens Road is the London Road but Asylum Road isn't the Brighton Road. Maybe when the pub opened you could get direct trains from Queens Road station to Brighton?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Two William Penns in Deptford

A little July 4th historical piece on two William Penns. 

William Penn the elder (1621-1670) was an Admiral in the British navy, serving both the Parliamentarian side in the English Civil War and the King after the restoration of the monarchy. Like most naval officers of his period, he was a visitor to Deptford where many of the ships he sailed and commanded were built and launched. 

In 1644 for instance, he set sail from Deptford on board the Fellowship, which operated in the Irish Sea against the King's forces. In 1646 he took command of the Assurance, a ship built in the Dockyard at Deptford. Then in 1650 he was commissioned to command the Fairfax, then being completed at Deptford. His instructions this time were to lead a squadron of eight ships to attack Portuguese ships on their way home from Brazil. In 1655, he was a commander in Cromwell's naval expedition to the West Indies which completed the capture of Jamaica from the Spanish. Penn went on to be an MP.

Penn's son, also William Penn (1644-1718) is famed as the founder of the state of Pennsylvania. He was a prominent Quaker, and was jailed for his religious views.  As the King owed his father money he was able to negotiate for the King to grant him land in America - this was also intended to resolve religious conflict at home by providing a place for persecuted Quakers to emigrate to. Penn planned to call the area New Wales then Sylvania, but King Charles II named it Pennsylvania in honor of his father. Penn's Frame of Government for the province, which included freedom of religion, was an influence on those who drafted the United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

William Penn, aged 22

Penn the younger's main recorded visits to Deptford relate to Peter the Great's stay in the area in 1698. While studying the shipbuilding industry, the Russian Czar stayed at John Evelyn's house in Deptford (though he and Evelyn never met). As Sarah Young notes, the details of his visit are shrouded in myth, 'confusion and apocryphal tales'. It is unclear exactly what the interaction between Peter and the Quakers (Society of Friends) involved, but they  involved William Penn (who by then had returned to England).

A plaque on the wall of what is now the Salvation Army shop on Deptford High Street states: 'Deptford Friends' Meeting House Stood Here' (Demolished 1807). Peter the Great Czar of Russia worshipped here 1697-8'. The Czar does seem to have visited the Deptford Quaker meeting house, but I am not sure that Penn met Peter here. Penn did though attempted to visit him at Deptford and may have spoken to him. According to Passages from the life and writings of William Penn by Thomas Pym Cope (1882) 'The Czar became so much interested in Friends, that he sometimes attended their meetings at Deptford. William Penn afterwards wrote him the following letter: 'It was a profound respect, and not a vain curiosity, great Czar, which brought me twice to wait upon thee." It is recorded that when Penn called on Peter in April 1698, the latter refused to meet him. But he did subsequently receive two Quakers, which may be the second visit Penn refers to (see Peter the Great Through British Eyes, Anthony Cross, 2000). 

144 Deptford High Street, a 1920s building on the site of the Friends Meeting House

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Blythe Hill Fields Festival 2013

The Friends of Blythe Hill Fields (between Catford and Honor Oak) are holding the Blythe Hill Fields Festival this Saturday 6 July between 12 and 5pm.

The event will include music from Ceri James, who has written a song about Blythe Hill Fields, Siobhan Parr (another local singer songwriter) and headliners Blues Patrol. There will be food from the likes of Babur, Hills and Parkes, Van Dough, Brunch 2 Buffet Caribbean Cuisine and the Avocado Cafe.

There will also be a funfair, the Surrey Docks Mini Farm, Punch and Judy, Childrens' craft tent and circus skills from Tea Dance for Little People.

This is always a very pleasant community event, I played there myself once with the East Dulwich Jug Band way back in 2008.