Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goldsmiths workers join national strike

A united strike today by staff at all levels of Higher Education, involving members of the University and College Union, Unison and Unite (with support too from students). Pay is the main grievance, with university staff experiencing a 13% pay cut in real terms over the last four years. 

It was well supported at Goldsmiths in New Cross where, despite the rain, 100+ people turned out to picket university buildings and to listen to a range of talks at an open air 'teach out'  covering such subjects as food poverty, politics as pantomime, education policy, internet surveillance, Convoys Wharf and more.

Fair pay for all! (outside the ex-Deptford Town Hall meeting)

Pumpkin and Cat power outside the library

'education - justice - equality - solidarity'

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Johnson caves in to Convoys Wharf Developers

The plans by Hutchison Whampoa to redevelop the former Royal Dockyard site on the Deptford riverfront at Convoys Wharf have been widely criticised. Essentially they offer an identikit riverside tower block scheme with cursory social housing and little reference to the site's rich history, not to mention a huge impact on the local transport, health and education infrastructure. Lewisham Council has been considering the latest planning application since a revised Masterplan was submitted in May 2013.

Now even the limited  influence the community has through the Council's planning process has been taken away by London Mayor Boris Johnson. As revealed in Building Design today, Johnson has 'called in' the project, which means that he will decide if it goes ahead rather the local Council. As the headline in Building Design makes clear ('Boris grants developer's wish and calls in £1 billion scheme'), this follows lobbying by the developer who claim that Lewisham has been dragging its feet for five years. Strange as the developers made a big point that they were offering something new and refreshing when they put in the lastest plan less than six months ago - though as Deptford Is... explains there is little to choose between the 'new' Farrells masterplan and the previous Aedas masterplan. Both 'proposed 3,500 homes, three towers above 32 storeys, 2000+ parking spaces, shops, a hotel, some green space, and a nod to the history of the site'.

Whether there is any connection between Johnson's decision and his recent courting of Chinese capital is unclear. The developer is a Hong Kong-based company with a history of business interests with Convoys Wharf's previous owners, News International. The latter's Rupert Murdoch is of course another mate of Boris.

The years of phoney war about Convoys Wharf may soon come to an end, with Johnson likely to try and push through the plans in spite of local opposition. Campaigners for preserving the site's heritage as a ship building site and a garden have been effective in raising these issues, but there are also wider concerns  at stake which will impact very directly on everybody living in the area. Fundamentally its about whether the site is developed in a way which responds to the needs of local communities, including low cost housing, or whether this critical site is turned into a dormitory for the very wealthy - with most of the flats no doubt snapped up as a property investment by people who never live there and have no interest in Deptford.

History Corner: WW2 Stretchers as Railings

Mereton Mansions in Brookmill Road, Deptford was formerly Carrington House, a homeless hostel. The railings outside have an interesting history too - they are made from metal stretchers used by ARP (Air Raid Protection) during the Second World War.

Similar examples of this recycling can be found elsewhere in London. I spotted these on the East Dulwich Estate:

See also The Great Wen on World War 2 Railings - he mentions that there are similar railings in Harleyford Street SE11. There is an interesting discussion on flickr too with pictures from elsewhere, and some detail that confirms this is not just an urban myth. In fact here's a photo of one of the stretchers in action:

from Wartime Memories by Ruth Durrant - note the stretchers
(this picture was taken on one of the River Emergency Service boats in the Second World War,
which operated from Cherry Gardens Pier in Bermondsey)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Celebrations at Lewisham Hospital as Government Loses Appeal

Celebrations outside Lewisham Hospital tonight, following the Court of Appeal's ruling today that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not have power to implement cuts  to maternity and emergency services at Lewisham Hospital. Of course the High Court had ruled to this effect earlier in the year, but the Government had appealed the decision - thankfully without success.

from @savelewishamAE
by @Gwynnita
Does this mean that I can finally take down the Save Our A&E box that has been decorating Transpontine for the last year? Maybe I will for now, but Hunt has already said that the ConDem government intends to change the law to give themselves the powers that the Court ruled they don't currently have.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Music Mondays: Elephants and Castles

Elephants and Castles is a newish band made up of Robin Spencer, Christopher Anderson and Adam Lucas. The band, who played in New Cross at the Hill Station Cafe earlier this month, 'Met near the Elephant, became friends, became a band. Songs of, for, about, because... Concrete gems, hot air, medal-less martyrs, knee trembling, tv off, that goal against Liverpool, my dear tattoo, trunks and turrets...'.

Here's a demo of their song, Concrete Love, 'A nod to the architect Erno Goldfinger and his importance in some of the buildings round our way'.

Oh and hear they are performing it in the Elephant and Castle subway itself:

Listen to more on Soundcloud. There's also a song about Justin Fashanu.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lou Reed in Greenwich 1972

So long Lou Reed (1942-2013), coolest musician of the 1960s by a long shot (well along with the rest of the Velvet Underground anyway). Everyone knows that John Cale from the band went to Goldsmiths in New Cross, but Lou was always more New York. But of course there was a transpontine connection.

In July 1972, with encouragement from David Bowie, Reed came to London to do his first UK show at the Kings Cross Cinema. The next night, Iggy Pop played his first ever gig outside of the USA at the same venue.

According to Paul Trynka in his book 'Iggy Pop: Open up and bleed' (2009), Iggy and band - which included ex-Stooges Ron and Scott Asheton with guitarist James Williamson - prepared from late June 'rehearsing feverishly at Underhill Studios in Greenwich... Lou Reed was rehearsing his own band the Tots, in the studio the same month, while the Spiders From Mars were also preparing for their July shows. London band England's Glory were rehearsing in the adjacent studio'. The latter featured Peter Perrett, later of The Only Ones.

Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed in London 1972

Bowie was living in Beckenham at the time, Tynka discusses his Underhill studio rehearsals in his book 'Starman'. In an interview in the South London Press, Tynka identified the location of the studio as in the basemen of what is now Gee-Pharm chemists on the corner of Blackheath Hill and Greenwich South Street.

(lost date for this South London Press story, but it must have been in 2011 when Starman was published)
Later in 1972, Lou Reed rented a flat in Wimbledon where he lived while recording the Transformer album.

Lou Reed also played at Charlton with The Who in 1974

Amersham Arms Street Art

I like the latest redecoration of the Amersham Arms in New Cross, especially the 'I love New Cross DJ'...

...the fox on the corner of Amersham Road... 

... and the flamingoes heart.

Sorry don't know the detail of the artist(s), or identity of DJ - anyone know any more?

Friday, October 25, 2013

New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival 2014

There's been some great events in the New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival since it started in 2012 - see NXDFFF for previous posts. Planning is starting for the third festival to be held next Spring. If you are interested in film, have an idea for an interesting venue or event, or just want to get involved in something positive going in your area, get involved.

'Would you like to be involved in the third New Cross & Deptford Free Film Festival?

Free Film Festivals  is a community group promoting free film screenings in neighbourhood venues.  Last year the NXDfff held 23 film events in 13 venues over 11 days. It was a very diverse programme - from mainstream family features, locally made shorts, global docs and 50’s sci-fi horror.  The festival was enjoyed by over 1,000 people.

Free Film Festivals is about showing films in interesting local venues. It’s about increasing the 'feel good' factor of people in the community with free and enjoyable events in popular public spaces, including outdoor screenings. We are entirely not-for-profit and run by volunteers. Events are funded thanks to our partnerships with community organisations and other supporters.

If you have an idea for a film event, are a filmmaker or want to gain experience in event organising, marketing and design or just want to be part of a community fun film project come along and meet us on Monday 11 November, upstairs at the Amersham Arms, 388 New Cross Road at 8pm.Please drop us a line at'

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Time for a Lewisham Travellers Site

The shocking case of children being snatched by the state from their own parents in Ireland (and the accompanying press coverage) has highlighted the racism faced by Romani Gypsies and travellers. The rush of the tabloids to imply that travellers across Europe are going around stealing pretty blonde children reminded me of the medieval blood libel that the Jews were sacrificing young Christians. Seemingly Roma families aren't allowed to have blonde-haired, blue-eyed children - presumably this is a privilege reserved for pure Aryan families only.

Yesterday's Daily Star - no it wasn't Maddie, it was their own child
But what about locally? In the last week, a  group of travellers have set up camp in the Girton Road car park in Sydenham. Last month travellers on the site of the demolished Catford Greyhound Stadium were served eviction notice, and travellers were also evicted from a site in Crystal Palace. Travellers like these are being driven from pillar to post because of the lack of proper travellers sites.

Suprisingly Lewisham currently has no official sites for travellers - by way of comparison neighbouring Southwark has 38 pitches across four sites and Greenwich has 40 pitches. The last Lewisham site, in Thurston Road, was closed in 2009 to make way for the Lewisham Gateway development. Proposals for a site in Church Grove, Ladywell provoked a predictable backlash. The Council has promised that they will consult on potential sites before the end of 2013 - lets hope that when they do local communities can avoid an over-emotive response.

There are potential sites available for at least temporary use. For instance what about the derelict Besson Street site in New Cross. It's several years since the housing block there was demolished and the once promised health centre/library is plainly never going to happen. So rather than leave the site as a fenced off wasteland why not put it to good use?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

History Corner: Transportation from Deptford to Australia

The Deptford riverside has been the starting point for  many journeys across the oceans, some of them freely chosen adventures, many of them not. One destination was Australia, where convicted prisoners were shipped off to penal colonies from the 1780s (the practice formally ended in 1868, though it had become rare by that point).

Reg Rigden's The Floating Prisons of Woolwich and Deptford (a pamphlet published by Greenwich Council in 1976), mentions one such voyage. On the 11 December 1814, Mary Langridge, Sarah Morris, Maria McIntyre and Ann Roberts were 'put on board the Northampton at Deptford'.

According to the Australian site Convict Records, 110 prisoners - all of them women - were taken on that voyage arriving in New South Wales in June1815. The ship went from Deptford to Portsmouth, from where it set sail on New Year's Day 1815. It was an eventful voyage, with the ship being temporarily captured by an American ship off Madeira. It made its way via Rio de Janeiro to Port Jackson, with four women dying during the voyage. On the way home, the Northampton went to China, returning to Hastings with a cargo of sandalwood. 

Just one voyage amongst so many, but showing clearly how Deptford in that period was a key point in the international  circulation of labour, commodities, ideas and much more. Globalisation is nothing new in South East London on Thames.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Black Power Mixtape at New Cross Learning

As part of its Black History Month programme, New Cross Learning (283 New Cross Road) is putting on a free showing of the film 'Black Power Mix Tape' on Wednesday 23 October, 7 pm. The film, made by Goran Olsson, is a compilation of amazing footage of the Black Panther Party and other radical activists in the period 1967 to 1975. It features Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale and many others. 

Incidentally I remember going to a meeting back in October 1992 in Brixton Recreation Centre with about 2,000 people turning out to listen to Bobby Seale, one of the founders of the US Black Panther Party. The meeting was organised by Panther UK, a group set up I believe by people connected to Militant (now the Socialist Party). I think it split the following year, so no doubt the Brixton meeting was its highest point - a lot of people were turned away because they couldn't fit any more in.

Tibetan Monks Sand Painting in Bermondsey

Kagyu Samye Dzong London is a Tibetan Buddhist Centre based in the grand surrounds of the former Bermondsey Public Library in Spa Road SE1. Later this week it will host a visit by monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery  in India, including the creation of a Sand Mandala, a dance performance and interactive workshops open to all.

The monks creating a mandala in Salisbury earlier this month
The events run from 25th to 30th October (full programme here) and will culminate in a ceremony at Tower Bridge:

'Of all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with coloured sand is one of the most exquisite.  The mandala essentially is a representation of the celestial mansion or abode of a principal deity or deities, surrounded by their retinues, and representing the path and fruition of the particular cycle of practices.  To make a sand mandala, millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place in an intricate design over a period of several days using hollow tubes called chagpurs.  The material used is ground marble dust – but in ancient times powdered precious and semi-precious stones were also used. The monks will be creating a Medicine Buddha Mandala.

A total of eight monks will be making the mandala over a period of five days. The exhibition begins with a short dedication prayer, and on completion, the mandala is dismantled in a moving ceremony during which the sand is swept into the centre of the table, symbolizing the impermanence of all things.  A small amount of sand will be poured into the Thames after a small procession from the centre to Tower Bridge, and people attending the ceremony can take away with them small bags of sand as a memory of the event.

Wed 30th Oct: 10am - 12pm - Completion and Closing Prayers at 10am and the Pouring Ceremony at Tower Bridge at 12 noon'.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Everything Means Nothing to Me: Elliot Smith Night in Greenwich

I can't believe that it's ten years since the sad death of singer Elliot Smith. There's a tribute night tonight at Oliver's piano and jazz bar in Greenwich (9 Nevada Street SE10), with proceeds going to men's suicde charity CALM.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Teachers Strike in Lewisham

Teachers picketing Prendergast-Ladywell Fields College yesterday
Yesterday's teachers strike seems to have been pretty effective in Lewisham. Martin Powell-Davies (National Union of Teachers) reports that 75% of local schools were either completely or mainly closed. The strike focused on three big issues, as described by the NUT  :

'Pay – no to dismantling the national pay system
Conditions – no to attacks on conditions – Michael Gove wants a longer school day and year
Pensions – no to working longer, paying more and getting less'

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lewisham Pensioners Book Sale

Coming up next Sunday 20th October, Lewisham Pensioners Forum is having another Big Book Sale. It's at the Saville Centre, 436 Lewisham High Street (near the Hospital), with paperbacks five for £1 and hardbacks from 50p to £2. You can bring along books to donate on the day as well as buying.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stand! for Football at the Amersham Arms (with Terry Hall DJing)

STAND! is a football fanzine that speaks out against the corporate excesses of modern football. Next Saturday 26 October they are having a night of beer, music and football at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. 

It starts out with a panel discussion on 'what we can do to take back our beloved game' followed by a night of 'classic old skool indie, house and ska' with a DJ set from the great Terry Hall (Specials/Fun Boy Three), as well as Big Beat Boutique, D'Arcy and One Man Melt. Advance tickets (£10) available here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pop up Record Shop in New Cross Road

You go for years without a record shop in the area then two open within a month. Vinyl in Deptford is planning on sticking around, but there's also a temporary one opening in New Cross Road this weekend. This from Goldsmiths:

'A pop-up record shop in the heart of New Cross will open on Saturday (19 October) in association with NX Records, a collaborative independent label from Matthew Herbert’s Accidental record label, and Goldsmiths, University of London. Launched just six months ago as a platform for Goldsmiths students from the BMus in Popular Music, NX Records has already hosted live shows, produced an acclaimed introductory mix-tape and is now proud to announce the opening of the NX Records Pop Up Shop.

The first venture of its kind in New Cross, the shop will be open from Saturday 19 October until Saturday 23 November, and will offer a unique record-buying experience in a lively, friendly atmosphere. The most desirable new vinyl and CDs from a range of labels, limited edition releases from NX Records artists and friends unavailable elsewhere, and unique handcrafted releases and zines will also be on offer.

From mainstream to underground, the BMus in Popular Music at Goldsmiths embraces popular music in its many forms: rock, pop, folk, urban, jazz, experimental and commercial. It is also the programme that produced Mercury Prize 2011 nominee Katy B, and James Blake – also nominated for the Mercury Prize and a 2012 Ivor Novello award.

Honouring Goldsmiths' commitment to the local creative community and to a new generation of upcoming artists, the shop will also host talks, workshops and Q&A sessions from industry experts, and one-of-a-kind, intimate in-store performances from NX and other local artists including Holy Milk, Thefft, Buffalo Ink and Crewdson.

Simon Deacon, Director of Popular Music at Goldsmiths, commented: "NX Records exists to showcase the talents, and hopefully launch the careers, of up and coming artists who have begun their creative journey at Goldsmiths. The Pop Up Shop shop will be a creative hub for NX Records and will give New Cross residents a great opportunity to experience some of the amazing talent we have at Goldsmiths."

Goldsmiths recently announced it will be creating new recording studios at 286 New Cross Road for the use of its students from the Department of Music. Once completed, it is hoped the professional-level studios will be available for public hire'.

- For more information about the pop up shop visit

- For more information about NX Records visit

- In-Store events (doors 19:30):

Sat 19 Oct (Opening night) - Thefft (DJ set) + Holy Milk
Fri 25 Oct - Jacob Aria + James Marples
Fri 1 Nov - Tom Morley + King of Hearts
Fri 8 Nov - Femme + Lisa Busby (DJ set)
Thu 14 Nov - Lake Dysmal and Crewdson (workshop and gig)
Thu 21 Nov - Niomi Eve + Jamie Coe
Sat 23 Nov (Closing Party) - Buffalo Ink + Special Guest DJ

Day of the Dead Silent Disco

Friday 1 November 2013 is Mexican Day of the Dead, and the only Day of the Dead Silent Disco in London (probably) will be happening in SE14. According to the organisers:

'The Hill Station CafĂ© (Kitto Road SE14) will be transformed into a Fabulously Fluorescent, Luminously Lovely, Ultra Violet, Psychedelic Disco.  Tickets £15.00 in advance from, include:

Wireless headphones  tune in & turn on
Competing DJ's  wig out to your fave raves
Free Deadly Cocktail  there'll be blood on the dance floor!
Entry into Special Day of the Dead raffle 
Prizes for best dressed Senor and Senorita 

A top line-up of local DJ's will keep your feet firmly on the dance floor with a selection of the best banging party tunes, decadent disco hits and old-skool hedonism.  It's a fancy dress thing - the more skulls the merrier (but of course you don't have to).  The best dressed Senor and Senorita will be crowned "King and Queen of the Dead". Everybody gets a free cocktail on arrival, and there'll be lots of extra scary stuff too. Proceeds go towards funding the New Cross & Deptford free film festival 2014'.

Also at the Hill Station, a new season of Cinetopia starts next Friday 18th October - the night with a mystery feature film, a two course themed meal and a film quiz. The first film in the season is described as 'a funny and honest tale of Brooklyn bohemians behaving badly. Artistic failure leads to marriage break-up which affects adolescent sons in different ways. A quirky and wise American indie'. Further details on facebook

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Jay-Z on the Jubilee Line

When playing at the O2 in Greenwich there's really only one quick way to and from central London - on the tube. Hence Jay-Z being spotted on tube at Waterloo last night on his way to gig (photo by GoodguyGoodguy). And yes that's Chris Martin from Coldplay standing behind him.

Rihanna also took the Jubilee line from London Bridge to North Greenwich when she was playing at the 02 in October 2011

Saturday, October 12, 2013

South London Anti-Fascists AGM

The past year has seen South London Anti Fascists grow from a largely dormant email list to a significant force in London anti-racist politics. When racist groups like the BNP and EDL tried to exploit the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich earlier this year, South London Anti Fascists stepped up with similar groups elsewhere (now organised as the Anti Fascist Network) to mobilise opposition. In some cases the numbers they have mobilised have exceeded those pulled out by more established groups like Unite Against Fascism.

They have paid a heavy price, as the police have met this new generation of militant anti-fascists head on with mass arrests in Whitehall (58 arrests on 1 June anti-BNP protest) and again in Tower Hamlets on September 7th when 286 people were arrested for demonstrating against the English Defence League.

South London Anti-Fascists banner in Tower Hamlets on September 7th 2013
Within South London, they have helped ensure that small demonstrations in Croydon by the 'English Volunteer Force' on 27 July and by Croydon & Sutton British National Party on 5 October have been countered and well-outnumbered. Both demonstrations were at Lunar House incidentally, the Immigration Enforcement (formerly named UK Border Agency) processing centre in Croydon. I've never quite understood why fascists want to protest there, I would have thought they'd be queuing up to work for an Agency that goes around locking up and deporting migrants in a way the BNP and co. can only dream of.

Arguably South London Anti Fascists' most significant intervention was in mobilising for something that never happened - the BNP's planned march from Woolwich to Lewisham Islamic Centre on 1 June 2013. Their mobilising (along with others) built up a huge momentum in the week leading up to the demonstration, and it is plain that the fear of where this might lead prompted the banning of the BNP march in this area.

South London Anti Fascists will face the same arguments that many of us had throughout the 1990s - should the priority be organising amongst the communities threatened by the far right, or amongst the people the fascists are trying to recuit from? How much effort should be expended in countering tiny groups of racists compared with countering racist official immigration powers? How can you combine a broad, inclusive approach with being prepared to sometimes physically stand up to fascists? While it was and is important to discuss these, my experience is that bitter tactical disagreements between competing groups tend to be fruitless - at the end of the day there is no single correct approach, and any and all of the above will be required.

So far, South London Anti Fascists seem to have avoided this trap, recognising the need for a diversity of tactics and combining a militant street presence with some genuine community outreach (e.g. at the only meeting I have been to of their's, they had representatives from Lewisham Islamic Centre and the Nigerian Mosque on the Old Kent Road along to discuss the situation in the context of recent attacks on such places)

South London Anti Fascists have been meeting regularly in New Cross and tomorrow afternoon (Sunday 13 October, 2:15 pm) they will be holding their Annual General Meeting locally - for details of venue please email

Anti-fascists in the pub? - spotted at the Amersham Arms

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Datacide in Deptford

Datacide, international 'magazine for noise and politics', has its origins in the underground techno/speedcore/noise scene in 1990s London. Its founder, Christoph Fringeli, also initiated Praxis records and the legendary Dead by Dawn nights at the 121 Centre in Brixton (for a while Praxis had a record stall in New Cross Road in what is now Prangsta). Today it is published out of Berlin, but with contributors spread around the globe. As well record reviews and other music news, it features in depth articles and interviews on the related cultural politics, anti-fascism, and much more.

In a return to its South London origins, there will be a launch event for the new issue 13 on Sunday 20th October 2013 at Vinyl, the new record shop/cafe/bar at 4 Tanners Hill, Deptford SE8. It will run from 7 pm to 10 pm (admission free).

There will be talks from contributors including:

- Christoph Fringeli - An overview of Datacide.

- David Cecil  - 'Confessions of an Accidental Activist – Sexual politics and homophobia in Uganda'. David was arrested in Uganda and deported earlier this year. He found himself in the media spotlight after he produced a comedy drama in Kampala (Uganda) which was mistakenly portrayed as a piece of ‘gay activism’. The US evangelist movement, international rights activists and the mainstream media have all contributed in different ways to misleading perceptions of sexuality in Uganda. Meanwhile, more substantial and complex factors of post-colonial socio-economic transformation have been (deliberately?) overlooked, along with the actual experience of daily life for LGBTI people in Uganda (David was also involved in the 1990s free party sound system scene).

- Neil Transpontine ' 'Revolt of the Ravers - the movement against the Criminal Justice Act in Britain'.  It is now 20 years since the UK Government announced its plans for new laws notoriously targeting gatherings with music 'characterised by repetitive beats', sparking off  mass opposition. A look back on that movement and its impact.

Sunday nights sounds will be supplied by South London bassnik DJ Controlled Weirdness.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lowry's Deptford Painting

The L.S. Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain closes on October 20th. I took my mum and we tried to find the original of the print we had in our 1970s front room like so many other people at that time - but to be honest a lot of the pictures were very similar and we couldn't be sure which one it was! I remember being lambasted in the pub by a left wing Labour Party activist when I was a teenage young socialist and he put me on the spot about what art I liked. Frankly I could hardly name an artist at the time, so I meekly mentioned Lowry (well we had one in our house!). He jumped down my throat telling me that 'Lowry was so anti working class'. It was one of those classic 'middle class lefty would be saviour of the working class sneering at the taste of working class people' moments. I remembered all this when I saw that Tate had managed to get Marxist/sometime Situationist art historian  T J Clark to co-curate the exhibition and redeem Lowry's critical reputation - whether he succeeded or not I'm not sure. Said Labour activist turned out to be right that I should check out Picasso anyway.

Most of Lowry's pictures are famously of the north of England, but in 1959 he painted a view of Deptford Power Station from Greenwich. It is in the National Maritime Museum collection and isn't featured at Tate.

Deptford Power Station photographed in 1973 - it was demolished in 1992. The Millennium Quay housing development now stands on that site.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Soft Wax and the Search for LT: a 1950s London Soundman?

As mentioned here last week, Vinyl is a new record shop in Deptford at 4 Tanners Hill (previously home to Blossoming Together, Deptford Deli, Deptford Properly and in the 1930s the Communist Party's Workers Bookshop).  It has a coffee shop upstairs, records downstairs and a gallery space. There's a great installation on there at the moment as part of the Deptford X Fringe called Soft Wax.

Steve Wax and Cecile Buxton have recreated the feel of a West Indian front room set up for a blues party, drawing on the latter's childhood memories of living in Spitalfields in the late 1950s. There's a 78 record player from the period, and a collection of records to go with it.

As for the records there's a fascinating mystery with a local connection. Steve picked up a collection of unidentified old records which had been sold to a Greenwich record shop - many of them were 1950s American R&B records including a number of 'soft wax' acetate discs. This music was very popular in Jamaica at the time, and without proper local distribution of the records DJs would sometimes make their own copies using acetate cutting machines. 

Most of the records have 'LT' scratched into the label, suggesting that they belonged to a DJ of that period (and maybe later, some of the music dates from 1960s and 70s). 

So the search is on for LT - who was he? There are some clues, some of the record sleeves have the address Herman Miller of Harlesden written on them. The records were sold by an older Caribbean woman, believed to have been the widow of the records' collector, who probably lived in the New Cross area. LT could have been the person's name, or possibly nick name/DJ name. If you have any clues get in touch.

The installation closes tomorrow (Sunday) but the Soft Wax project continues. Next week (October 12th) they are taking part with Jamtone in a 70s style Reggae Sound System Dance at the Vibe Gallery in Bermondsey:

'It’s a return to the source for us. Together we will be select a blistering mix from the rich heritage of Jamaican music. From the 60s into the early 80s and beyond. For this night the tunes will be spinnin’ on Jamtone’s traditional Sound System rig, enabling them to be appreciated to full affect, in a “back-a-yard” style. Expect guest musicians and DJs live on the mic too.

Darren Jamtone has been the mainstay of Sound Systems for two decades. He is now an accomplished live and studio Sound Engineer too, with many records to his name. Steve Wax has been carving out a unique niche as an installation DJ. This evening will commence with the playing of a “one away” collection of late 50s acetates, played on a period deck with an accompanying installation. There will be a vintage record stall, for your continued listening pleasure. There’s a fully licensed bar and arrangements have been made to order food in. Pure niceness all'.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Deptford Anchor Saga: the next chapter

For the last twenty years or so there has been an anchor at the Broadway end of Deptford High Street, a nod to the area's maritime past (although actually it came from Chatham dockyard rather than Deptford). Famously it became the place to hang out for the area's street drinkers - then in April it suddenly disappeared as part of the redevelopment of  the High Street.

Photo from Ben Greville's remarkable series of photos of the Anchor
The anchor has ended up on the closed Convoys Wharf site - perhaps with  a view to it being used in the proposed development there. Rather strange, as that development  hasn't even got planning permission and hopefully will never happen in its current proposed form. Those who miss the old anchor have taken to drawing anchors where it once stood.

Meanwhile a replica anchor has been made and is currently residing in the Master Shipwrights House garden. It may well feature this coming Saturday 5th October when:

'Rediscovered Urban Rituals in collaboration with Deptford Is Forever present Give Us Back Our Blooming Anchor procession. Gathering Midday from the Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St. SE8 to the Arthouse Lewisham way Deptford High Street and Market (approx 12.45pm). Come follow the Anchor with its bearers and rough musicians and revel in the spectacle of this iconic Deptford Symbol on its journey back to its rightful place at the head of the high street and beyond'.

Deptford High Street 'Kids Love Ink' tattoo parlour will also be doing anchor tattoos on the day.

New Cross Acid House 1989

From the excellent Phatmedia archive of Old Skool and Rave flyers, here's one from 1989 - 'A Touch Above presents Asylum Acid House', Fridays at the Harp Club (now the Venue - see previous discussion on its pre-history). 

From the same year (15 April 1989), here's a flyer for Subconscious 'Deep House, Garage and Fundamental-Mind Beats' in the Crypt at St Pauls in Deptford

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Deptford Dolphins Thames Swim

I was slightly sceptical about whether the self-proclaimed Deptford Dolphins were actually going to manage to swim out from Watergate stairs to the nearby crane derrick in the Thames (as previewed here). But two of them made it on 22 September, and there's a film to prove it. They are already thinking of doing it again for next year's Autumn Equinox - with the swimmers to be awarded the Deptford Dolphin badge pictured above.

The Dolphins in the Master Shipwrights House garden after the swim
This was another project of the emerging Deptford Alternative Sports Club, as some of those involved with Deptford Three Sided Football Club seek further adventures. The next planned action is kayaking the River Ravensbourne down to the Thames at Deptford Creek from its junction with the Pool river in Bellingham Park - no date has been set because it all depends on there having been plenty of rain to make the river fully navigable.