Friday, August 30, 2013

Appetite Festival in Nunhead

Appetite Nunhead is a 'Food and Art Festival'; taking place form 20 September – 6 October 2013, and featuring events including: 'a Food Trail on Saturday 5 October with free bite size tasters, guided walking tours from ‘Fantasy High Street’ with pop up performance in local businesses, dinners and tastings in shops, exhibitions and installations, illustrations in shop windows and meet the brewer sessions in a local pub'.

'A Feast on the Green will bring everyone together on Sunday 22 September with Auntie Maureen’s Gourmet Food Fair, a picnic with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, street food, local artists’ performances, music and choir entertainment, the bunting bike and creative workshops. This event will be from 11am-6pm and free to attend'. Full programme here

Programme image by Nunhead-based printmaker Gill Day

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Save Lewisham Hospital Victory Dance

 The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign secured a historic legal victory last month when the High Court ruled that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, had acted unlawfully in deciding to substantially cut services and close departments at Lewisham Hospital.

However the fight is not over yet, as on the last day it could lodge its appeal  (21 August 2013)  the Government lodged a formal application to take July’s judgment by Mr Justice Silber to the Court of Appeal.

Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group said: “We remain confident that the Court of Appeal will uphold Mr Justice Silber's decision and we intend to request an urgent hearing so the ongoing uncertainty facing the Hospital can be brought to an end as a matter of priority."

Funds will be needed for the next stage of the campaign, and Save Lewisham Hospital is holding a fundtraiser and victory dance at the Rivoli Ballroom on Friday 27th September (7:30 pm start). Live music from the Tony Patience Band, plus DJs. Tickets include a free raffle ticket, prizes include original Martin Rowson Guardian cartoons, signed Millwall FC memorabilia.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Trailer TV

The Trailer TV is 'Pirate TV show showcasing fresh talent making moves in the underground music scene' broadcasting live from the the trailer at the Big Red on Deptford Church Street (the converted bus next to the Birds Nest pub).

This Thurday (29 August), with support from Hyperdub, it will feature DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn. If you get down there between 7 pm and 11 pm you can be part of it - admission free.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Monday: Filthy Boy

A big summer for Filthy Boy, playing festivals and getting national radio airplay for their new single That Life (from their album 'Smile that won't go down').

The young band, based in the Peckham/Nunhead area, played early gigs at the Ivy House and recently had a friends and family gig at the Old Nun's Head.

Singer Paraic Morrissey explained in Time Out, the video for their earlier single Jimmy Jammies was filmed in 'Deverell Street, off the New Kent Road'.

Yes there are comparisons with Nick Cave (maybe Tindersticks too). But if an Australian artist can channel a singer from the American South, why shouldn't a boy from South London?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Free gig at the Herb Garden

If you've never experienced free jazz in the Herb Garden in Deptford, you really should. I went to the Lol Coxhill memorial there last year and it was great. This Bank Holiday Monday August 26th, Tom Scott, Rob Mills, Sue Lynch, Arnold Lane, Eddie Real and David Aylward will be performing, plus special guest. 5 pm start, free admission.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Estuary and Stevedores

I went to the Estuary exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands, featuring the 'work of 12 artists who have been inspired by the outer limits of the Thames where the river becomes the sea' with its 'dramatic landscape – desolate mudflats and saltmarshes, vast open skies, container ports, power stations and seaside resorts'. It's on until 31st October, and is well worth a visit (admission free). I particularly liked Jock McFadyen's Dagenham (below).

In the permanent collection I also noticed a trade union banner from the London docks, specifically from Branch No.6 (Rotherhithe) of the Amalgamated Stevedores Labour Protection League. According to the Museum: 'This banner was created to commemorate the founding of the trade union following the Great Dock Strike of 1889. The large painted panel depicts a London stevedore shaking hands with an Australian 'Wharfie' or dock worker, in front of the figure of Britannia. The image recalls the financial support given to the London strikers by their comrades in Australia during the strike itself'. The banner was made made by George Tutill in the early 20th century. 

Incidentally the word stevedore derives from the Iberian words ofestivador (Portuguese) or estibador (Spanish), meaning a man who stuffs, in the sense here of a man who loads ships

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Walpole Vanishes

The Walpole Inn in New Cross Road has now been completely demolished. It closed last year, and planning permission has been granted for a hotel to be built there.  The adjoining buildings that lately housed the tattoo parlour and hairdressers have also gone.

When I went past a couple of months ago, most of it had already been taken down...

...but through the scaffolding traces of the pub could still be seen:

Now it has vanished completely....

The tattoo parlour at no.405 New Cross Road must have been a tobacconists' in the past, as it had an old hanging sign of a tobacco roll outside. These are quite rare, and the interior of the pub also featured a wall of late 19th century majolica tile (pictured here in previous Transpontine report)

Tobacco roll sign outside the now demolished 405 New Cross Road
A condition of the planning application being granted by Lewisham Council was that both the tiles and the tobacco roll sign from next door should be retained in the proposed Hotel:

'11) A schedule of works for the dismantling of the faience tiled wall in the bar of the existing public house and its erection within the hotel hereby approved, shall be submitted to and agreed in writing by the Council and all works which form part of the schedule shall be implemented before commencement of the use, unless the Council has given its written consent to any variation. 
12) A schedule of works for the dismantling of the tobacco roll hanging sign on the front elevation of 405 New Cross Road and its erection on or within the hotel hereby approved, shall be submitted to and agreed in writing by the Council and all works which form part of the schedule shall be implemented before commencement of the use unless the Council has given its written consent to any variation'.

The architects for the Walpole scheme did submit a plan in February 2013 for the removal of the tobacco roll and for its relocation in the lobby of the new hotel. Heritage Tile Conservation Ltd have also been brought in to advise on conserving the tiles (see report here with lots of photos). In fact they have even identified that they were probably manufactured by Craven Dunnill & Co, Jackfield, Shropshire, circa 1895 - and that most are still in good condition.

I trust that the Council will be monitoring to ensure that these conservation requirements are followed through on, following the sorry tale of the Crown and Sceptre in Friendly Street where the developer seems to have completely ignored the requirement to retain tiles.

Detail of tiling in the Walpole

Friday, August 16, 2013

Peckham Rye Village Hall Experience

You do all know this is happening tomorrow (Saturday) don't you?

The Village Hall Experience is  a free event on Saturday 17th August 2013 from 1 pm as part of The Elephant & The Nun Festival. It takes place at  The Old Lido, Peckham Rye, London SE15 (that's  the bit of Peckham Rye nearest to Rye Lane). Among many other attractions it will feature Men in Coats, Stephen Frost, Rye Books Story Telling Tent, Teenage Men and the famous Nunhead & District Municipal Museum and Art Gallery. All this plus the Village Hall Disco.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book and Candle: a Nunhead Cemetery Mystery

Walking in Nunhead Cemetery recently I noticed a grave with an old book on it, and a tealight candle which had evidently been lit.

Was there some connection between the book and the grave's inhabitants? Had a descendant of the deceased placed it there as well lighting a candle in their memory? 

Opening the book I was none the wiser - it was an 1831 edition of 'A short and plain instruction for the better understanding of the Lord's Supper' by the Rev. Thomas Wilson. Wilson, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, died in 1755 - long before the cemetery existed. So he's not buried there. Perhaps somebody connected with the publication of the book, or even a book that belonged to them when they were preparing for confirmation in the church.

Unfortunately the grave is damaged, so the name of the person or persons buried there is unclear. The inscription reads 'The family vault of Charles Bala...' with the rest of the name chipped of. The only English surname I can think of is Balance - though of course if might not be an English name.

Can anybody throw any light on this, one of the many mysteries of Nunhead Cemetery.

Update: mystery solved - the book and candle were apparently left behind from Bipeds Monitor, a performance in the cemetery from Arbonauts.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dulwich Hamlet FC - Transpontine Team

I have enough troubles of my own supporting a non-league club (one time old First Division) who are not from South London, without taking up the cause of Dulwich Hamlet FC. Still I notice with interest some of the banners that have been adorning their ground in recent times.

There's a Pride of South London banner...

...a banner that combines the emblems of Dulwich Hamlet with Altona 93- the Hamburg  team which some DHFC fans have linked up with (kind of non-league St Pauli):

(this photo and one above from Urban 75)
 ... and a Transpontine banner! Somebody asked if I had a hand in this, but I didn't. I suspect the artist sometimes known as Wolfgang Moneypenny/@vornstyle may have had a role. A source close to the Moneypenny camp told us: '"There are few performances as lurid and melodramatic as those found at a non-league football match". Anyway I know that he is somebody else who has embraced the use of the word Transpontine. So while I can't claim the credit, I like to think this site has helped to reintroduce the word into the local parlance as a synonym for South Londonish.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freshly Packed at Deptford Lounge

Next Saturday 17th August, Something Human present FRESHLY PACKED: EAT TO LIVE  by Peruvian performance artist Lorena Lo Peña at the Deptford Lounge (Giffin Street SE8):

'Eat to Live investigates excess and self-destructive behaviours when the body is used as the main site of punishment. Based on autobiographical experiences, the performance addresses bulimia and binge eating, highlighting how eating disorders are becoming an everyday widespread issue.

Performed in an art venue in Bogota in 2010, the work is an intervention into a completely different context: the communal café/library area on the ground floor of Deptford Lounge.This community hub in the heart of Lewisham will become the stage where passers-by will encounter Lorena’s provocative and engaging performance, where her visceral and disturbing approach will transform her body into the main locus of rejection of contemporary rhetoric about beauty and female roles'

It starts at 12 noon, and will last for 20 minutes.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

'Go Home' Racist Van Meeting in New Cross

On July 22nd 2013, the Home Office sent its infamous 'Go Home or Face Arrest' vans out on the streets in parts of London, targeting undocumented migrants. The next day, a shopkeeper in Peckham (Sally from Persepolis) tweeted that a racist had shouted that she 'f*** off back home'

There's no surprize in this sequence of events, variations on 'Go Home' have been racist slogans par excellence for many years - used by the National Front in the 1970s among many others. And when the Government is legitimising the use of the phrase, it's hardly surprizing if racists on the streets feel emboldened to use it too. I'm sure Sally wasn't the only person to hear it in the past couple of weeks. No doubt many pointed out the same irony as she did:  'As she's from Essex she was wondering if she should do it after the rush hour'. I don't think Sally is any kind of migrant as it happens, she just runs a shop that sells Iranian produce. But as for actual undocumented migrants, many of them have been here for years too and this is their home. Indeed some of them were even born here, since bizarrely children born in the UK and living here permanently do not automatically become British Citizens.

Still the 'racist van' fiasco has at least made people sit up and take notice of the dubious practises of the UK Border Agency, including targeting people using public transport (not a new phenomenon - see this report from Transpontine last year on Immigration Fishing Expeditions).

The Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL), the Migrants Rights Network (MRN), and solicitors Bhatt Murphy and Deighton Pierce Glynn have joined forces to run a series of workshops across London to support migrant and refugee community organisations, activists and interested individuals to campaign against the ‘Go Home’ campaign and the summer of attacks on immigrants.

They say that these short two hour sessions will 'provide an update on what has happened; explain the rights of those targeted by immigration checks and stop and search;  explain what groups and individuals can do to campaign on a local and national level, (including how to lobby elected members and decision makers to make sure anti immigration activity is monitored in your local area); how to respond to the current various national consultations that will affect migrants'.

The South London workshop will take place on Tuesday 20th August 2013, 6 pm to 8 pm, in  Room 144, Richard Hoggett Building, Goldmsiths College, Lewisham Way, SE14 6NW.

For more information contact Lucy Mercer on 0208 478 4513, or Juan Camilo

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shadows from Norwood

Author David Hambling has transplanted HP Lovecraft's horror mythos from New England to SE19 in his collection  'Shadows from Norwood'. The seven stories features local landmarks including the Crystal Palace ('The Monsters in the Park') and the underground River Effra ('Two Fingers'). Inevitably there's a story called the Dulwich Horror of 1927 ('The Dunwich Horror' is one of Lovecraft's most famous stories)

You can download the e-book for free this weekend (normal price £2.49) from Amazon. A paperback version will be out soon. Shadows from Norwood also has a Facebook page with has a Google map of the locations mentioned in the stories and a few bonus extra features.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Immunisation saves lives - so just do it

Here's a table from the British Medical Journal from 100 years ago (16 August 1913 to be precise). It is an analysis of deaths in London in the second quarter of that year, i.e. April to June. Note that in that three month period there were 549 deaths from measles in London, including 285 in the South London districts (roughly 22 a week in South London).

These included 48 in Southwark alone and 43 in Bermondsey. There were 33 measles deaths in Deptford, 23 in Camberwell, 22 in Greenwich and 14 in Lewisham. If you're still wondering whether vaccinating children against measles is a good idea, there's your answer.

Choose this summer to get your children immunised

Luckily you are living in 2013 and you can get your children immunised:

'Parents of children, teenagers and young adults who have missed out on the MMR vaccination are urged to attend one of five special catch-up clinics around Lewisham this month to have them immunised. The MMR vaccination gives protection against measles, mumps and rubella. And with cases of measles on the rise, protection is more important than ever.

For full protection against measles, it is essential that all children and young people have two doses of MMR. If you are unsure whether your child has had two doses of the vaccine, speak to your GP practice who should have a record. Dr Donal O’Sullivan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “Measles is a serious and preventable disease. But with two doses of the MMR vaccine we can make sure that all our children and teenagers are protected. Getting immunised over the summer will help guard against outbreaks in schools this September.”

Experts believe that the recent national rise in measles cases can be mostly attributed to the proportion of unprotected 10-16 year olds, who missed out on vaccination in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Lewisham’s catch-up clinics form part of a national programme to increase MMR immunisation in children and teenagers. The aim of the programme is to prevent measles outbreaks by ensuring as many 10-16 year olds as possible are immunised in time for the next school year.

Recent figures show that uptake of the first dose of MMR in Lewisham is now at the London average of around 90%. However take-up of the second dose of MMR is below average at 72% and in children over five is still amongst the lowest in London. This is important because one dose may not offer full protection' (Lewisham Council Press Release, 8 August 2013).

Details of the Lewisham catch-up clinics (all clinics will run from 10am to 4pm):

Monday 19 August
Deptford Lounge, Giffin Street, Deptford SE8 4RJ

Tuesday 20 August​
Downderry Children's Centre, Shroffold Road, Downham BR1 5PD​

Wednesday 21 August​
Lewisham Library, 199-201 Lewisham High Street SE13 6LG​

Wednesday 21 August​
​Deptford Lounge, Giffin Street, Deptford SE8 4RJ

Thursday 22 August​
​Bellingham Children's Centre, 109a Randlesdown Road, Catford

Spotty Vinyl Records

I was intrigued by this sign outside the Hob in New Cross Road for 'Spotty Vinyl Records'.

In fact it's a few boxes of second hand vinyl inside Dig This Nursery & Garden Centre, next to the pub opposite New Cross Gate station. Worth a browse for passing crate diggers, and you can pick up a few plants too!

Monday, August 05, 2013

From Gardens Where We Feel Secure

Some common or garden (or is that commoner garden?) events coming up locally:

Common Growth Community Garden Workshops

'First up is the kid's workshop on Wednesday 7th of August called herb spiral fun. It is suitable for children of all ages and runs from 10.30-12.00, and will involve fun learning activities, games and singing.

After that there will be an adult's workshop on Saturday 17th of August called Herbs and their uses and will run from 10.30 to 12.30. As usual this will be a mix of learning and practical activity.

The workshops are informal and fun, and it’s a great way to learn a few more gardening skills and share tips with other gardeners.

More information on the courses is given below. If you would like to attend any of them, or want more information, then please text Rich on 07901 360321 or email giving the name of attendees and a contact telephone number. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. All courses are free, but we suggest a £3 voluntary donation to help cover the costs of materials.

Common Growth Community Garden, Sandbourne Road (on the corner with Jerningham Rd), SE4 2NS.'

Secret Garden Project Lewisham

Already underway is the Secret Garden Project Lewisham: 'Winding its way through Lewisham, fed by the River Thames (Deptford Creek) in the North, to Lower Sydenham and Beckenham in the South, the River Pool and Ravensbourne naturally define the boroughs parklands. Connected by the Waterlink Way, a cycle and foot path that follows the rivers, a series of new public art commissions; temporary, permanent and digital will investigate four parks, responding to their unique characteristics, communities and ecology.

'Launching in July 2013, Secret Garden Project Lewisham will manifest in Sue Godfrey Nature Park, Cornmill Gardens, Ladywell Fields and Riverpool Linear & Bellingham Play Park and will encourage people to discover and use urban green space in creative ways. These artworks form part of the pan-London Secret Garden Project, a programme of environmental art commissions produced by UP Projects'.

In the next couple of weeks they've got a series of events happening in the Deptford area, including:

Grasshoppers & Ghost Gardens, Saturday 10th August 2-4 pm
What has made Deptford the place that we know day? Share your stories of Deptford, as we walk from Sue Godfrey to John Evelyn Community Garden, taking in hidden pockets of green and ending with a feast of local food. Meet at Sue Godfrey Nature Park 2pm, Berthon Street, SE8

Clay Bottle Making, Sunday 11th August 2-5 pm
Revisit the history of Sue Godfrey Nature Park and make your own clay medicine bottles onsite.

Herbal Medicine Making
Saturday 17th August 11-4 pm

Working alongside herbalist Melissa Ronaldson,discover the medicinal properties of plants growing on your doorstep. Share your own recipes for home remedies, learn how to pick, process and bottle herbs to create a truly unique Deptford product. Meet at Sue Godfrey Nature Park at 11am

The Urban Immune System,Sunday 18th August 2-4 pm 
Join us for a shared meal and conversation with the artist, an ethno-botanist and herbalist, to examine the relationship between people and plants and the political dimensions of medicinal plant use. Meet at Deptford Lounge 2pm,  9 Gi­ffin Square, SE8 4RJ

All events free. To book please contact

 From Gardens Where We Feel Secure

Any excuse to get in a few verses of one of my favourite poems, A Summer Night (1933) by WH Auden:

Now north and south and east and west
Those I love lie down to rest;
The moon looks on them all,
The healers and the brilliant talkers,
The eccentrics and the silent walkers,
The dumpy and the tall.

She climbs the European sky,
Churches and power stations lie
Alike among earth’s fixtures:
Into the galleries she peers
And blankly as a butcher stares
Upon the marvelous pictures.

To gravity attentive, she
Can notice nothing here, though we
Whom hunger does not move,
From gardens where we feel secure
Look up and with a sigh endure
The tyrannies of love:

And, gentle, do not care to know,
Where Poland draws her eastern bow,
What violence is done,
Nor ask what doubtful act allows
Our freedom in this English house,
Our picnics in the sun.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

New Cross Sunflowers

If you've been out and about in New Cross recently, you can't have failed to notice the proliferation of sunflowers planted in June and July. The 1000 Sunflowers for New Cross project is designed to create a bee-friendly environment as well as to brighten up the New Cross Road and surrounding area. It has involved Grow Wild, New Xing and Goldsmiths (with some National Lottery funding), with the seedlings nurtured at Edmund Waller Primary School  and Greenshoots’ community garden, among other places. 

Sunflower and other wild flower seeds have also been scattered on waste patches around the area so watch out for more blooming through the summer.

Sunflowers in bloom on corner of New Cross Road and St James

'Why did the bee not X the road... not remotely enough sunflowers'

A bumble bee enjoying itself on New Cross Road

Friday, August 02, 2013

Blurt at the Birds Nest

Free on Sunday 4 August at the Birds Nest (Deptford Church St):

Avant punk legend Ted Milton and Blurt


**With Guests** 

Mouth 4 Rusty - New Album just released this June

Olympic Clamp Down

Psychoyogi has electrifying new members and will play songs from the new album Opulent Trip:

Thursday, August 01, 2013

History Corner: medical negligence in 1920s Deptford

In the 1920s a New Cross doctor was involved in a tragedy that led to his prosecution for manslaughter. Dr Percy Bateman lived at 423 New Cross Road and in July 1924 he was called in by a midwife to assist in a difficult childbirth. The mother, Mary Ann Harding, 'was the wife of a builder's labourer, and lived in Deptford in two rooms at the top of four flights of stairs. She was about 33 years of age, she had had four children before, their ages ranging from 13 to 4' (BMJ, 7 Feburary 1925).

The baby died and the mother, Mary Ann Harding, became very ill. Over the next week she continued to deteriorate and was visited twice daily by Bateman, who refused the request of Mary's husband and the midwife to admit her to hospital. When she finally was admitted she was found to be unfit for an operation and she died on the 30th July. It was discovered in the post-mortem that the doctor had mistakenly removed most of her uterus along with the placenta during the childbirth.

A jury found him guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to six months imprisonment in December 1924, but the Lord Chief Justice (Lord Hewart) quashed the conviction on appeal in February 1925 and he was released. The prosecution argued in the appeal that 'What impressed the jury was the callous neglect he showed. He did not call in another doctor, he took the uterus home with him, he concealed the facts of the matter from everybody who might be in a position to give help or advice' (BMJ 14 February 1925). But Bateman was largely backed by the medical profession who were concerned about the implications of doctors being jailed for negligence.

The appeal judgement in Rex v Bateman 1925 is still quoted today as it helped establish the definition of manslaughter in cases like this. The  Court ruled that simply causing the death of somebody was not enough to prove manslaughter, rather it was necessary to show that the accused 'showed such disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime against the State and conduct deserving punishment'.

Bateman died at his home in New Cross in 1936.