Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bob Hoskins RIP - by the river

Farewell Bob Hoskins, a great London actor, so here he is (mostly) by the River Thames:

By Tower Bridge in the Long Good Friday

with Helen Mirren in The Long Good Friday

with Helen Mirren by St Thomas Hospital SE1 in Last Orders

with Michael Caine in Last Orders... scene shot in the Larkhall Tavern in Clapham

on the South Bank in the video for Jamie T's Sheila

with Helen Mirren in the Duchess of Malfi at the Roundhouse in 1981
- went to this on a school trip, it was amazing

Eddie Mulholland - 1980s South London Photos

Some great 1980s London photographs at the Telegraph today, by their photographer Eddie Mulholland from his time at the South London Press back in the day.

There's David Bowie on a visit to Brixton (presumably his childhood home in Stansfield Road)...

The last days of Peek Freans biscuit factory in Bermondsey (it closed in 1989)...

And this one of armed siege which the photographer thought might be in Brockley.
Anyone recognise the location, bearing in mind it could be somewhere else entirely? Looks like it's on a hill with a church building in the background.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ruin Lust

A couple of weeks left at Tate Britain of 'Ruin Lust', the exhibition tracing artists' fascination with ruins from the 18th century onwards. London features heavily, with Transpontine content including:

Photographs by Henry Dixon of old inns facing demolition, commissioned  by the Society for Photographing Relics of Old London in the 1880s. This one is of King's Head Inn yard off Borough High Street SE1 in 1881. There is still a pub there of course, but the old 17th century coaching inn structure is no more:

The White Hart Inn in the same street was also photographed by Dixon in 1881, prior to being demolished in 1889:

Keith Coventry's Estate Paintings appear to be abstract designs but are in fact based on the layout of London estates. The exhibition features his 'Heygate Estate', painted in 1995 before the Estate became a famous ruin.

The exhibition also includes Coventry's bronze casts of vandalised saplings in Queens Road SE15 and 'Burgess Park SE5, Planted 1983, Destroyed 1988':

Laura Oldfield Ford's 'Ferrier Estate' (2010) pictures the now demolished estate in Kidbrooke. She sees ruins emerging as part of a class-based reshaping of London, and also wonders about the ruins of the future

'My psychogeographic drifts through different areas of London have become a melancholy project documenting the loss of certain aspects of the city . I return to places that have been important , sites of collective memory and desire that are being demolished. During the Blair years walking through the redeveloped and regenerated London streets was to experience alienation and familiarity simultaneously, fragments of memory would emerge as splinters in the smooth space of developers plans. Places that had been in the commons were being gated off, the consequence of a decade of corporate land grabs and sustained social cleansing. London was becoming an enclave for the wealthy, and the rest of us were being pushed out, scrubbed off the map and out of history... 

Many of the ruins we see emerging at an accelerated rate around London and the South east are the ruins of the future, the new build luxury highrises and inevitable victims of the next collapse in the property market. There are ranks of empty blocks, like Capital Towers in Stratford, bought off plan in auctions in Hong Kong and Malaysia and left as menacing totems of a speculative free for all. What will become of these places? Maybe they will end up as negative equity ghettos like the Pinnacles in Woolwich, sublet to recent arrivals from the former colonies and left in a state of chronic disrepair , or perhaps they will be seized and occupied by bands of rent defaulters, young people unable to afford anywhere to live in the South East whose desperation has led them to take militant direct action' (Laura Oldfield Ford, Zones of Sacrifice: 2010-2014)

'Ferrier Estate' by Laura Oldfield Ford

Monday, April 28, 2014

Music Monday: Crosswires Festival

Next Saturday May 3rd sees Crosswires Festival taking place across venues in New Cross and Deptford - the Amersham Arms, the Deptford Lounge and the Albany. There's a great and diverse line up with everything from Irish travellers songs to afro-beat electronica. Most of it's free too, with the exception of  the evening session at the Amersham.

I'm definitely going to try and get along to the Albany, where Kit and Cutter are presenting an afternoon/evening. Their folk club at the Deptford Arms and then the Old Nun's Head was great, but I think it's been a couple of years since they've put something like this on. Next week they have The Boat Band, Thomas McCarthy and more, including London Sacred Harp Singing Workshops.

There's also a 'Misguided tour of Deptford' with Radio 4/Utter's Richard Tyrone Jones; 'a mixture of local and art/community history, spoken word, urban myths and outright lies. But can you tell the difference', starting off at 1:30 pm at the New Cross Inn.

Here's a mix of some of the music to be featured in the festival:

Tracklist - all acts playing at festival except Kyekyeku-Koo Nimo-Vishal Nagan (track 2)

1.Indian's Petition by London Sacred Harp
2.Pay Me Friday Night by Kyekyeku-Koo Nimo-Vishal Nagan
3.Mary Jane by Savage Henry
4.Supersonic by Amy True
5.Ball Point Pen Thief by Selectric
6.Gold Getter by Resonators
7.Marabout by Débruit
8.Labadi Warrior by The Busy Twist
9.Jibal Alnuba by Débruit & Alsarah
10.Clasped To The Pig by Thomas McCarthy

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New Cross Forum and Neighbourhood Planning

'Neighbourhood Planning' is the Government's framework that claims to be about 'Giving communities more power in planning local development'.  With the backing of the Localism Act 2011, it provides for people to set up a Neighbourhood Forum in their area and agree a development plan that 'establishes general planning policies for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood'.

Various criticisms have been raised about the limitations of the process. On the one hand, how much power do local communities really have to influence development when key planning decisions are even being taken away even from local Councils? The biggest planning decision in our area relates to Convoys Wharf in Deptford and the Mayor of London has taken the power to decide on this away from Lewisham Council, and ignored local concerns about the development.

On the other hand, to what extent can or will Neighbourhood Forums really represent the needs and interests of diverse communities? In terms of what people would like to see on the high street for instance, who's to say that cinemas and farmers markets are more desirable than churches and chicken shops - or vice versa?  Should the tastes of one, possibly narrow group of people be enshrined in a Neighbourhood Plan?  The Runnymede Trust has  highlighted the risk that 'localism' could favour those 'who have the most useful forms of social capital — or put more bluntly,  those with the sharpest elbows' to the detriment of 'marginalized groups' (Localism: threat or opportunity?, 2012).  I guess it partly depends on who gets involved, and who feels welcome to get involved.

The New Cross Forum

To be fair to the people who have set up the New Cross Forum at least they are making an effort to widen involvement. The first meeting was held at Goldsmiths, but the next one tomorrow night (Monday) will be at All Saints Community Centre, 105 New Cross Road from 7 pm to 8:30 pm. 

They say:  'Want truly affordable housing, a better public realm or a stronger local economy? Want to protect the area’s community spirit, diverse character & arts culture? Join The New Cross forum  and create a neighbourhood plan to steer local development...  By coming together as a Forum and deciding on improvements that could be made and things that should be protected, we can have our vision for New Cross enshrined as policy by Lewisham Council. 

This could include: directing contributions from developers towards streetscape and road crossing improvements on the high street; creating a community land trust to ensure the availability of truly affordable housing and workspaces; ensuring good design in all major new buildings; establishing a business directory to promote local traders within and beyond the area;  securing space for a social enterprise But we also want your ideas!' (more details here).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival 2014

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival 2014 kicked off last night with 'Bend it Like Beckham' at the Hill Station Cafe and Superman of Malegaon at the Big Red Pizzeria. Loads more free events at interesting venues over the next week - see full programme here.

I will just mention a couple of events with particular local historical resonance.

South London Hardcore is showing Once a Jolly Swagman at no.178 cafe on May 1st, a great 1948 speedway film starring Dirk Bogarde that was filmed at the now vanished New Cross Stadium.

On 29 April, The Hustler is showing at Shades Snooker Club on Deptford High Street -a building that once housed one of the area's first cinemas, the Deptford Electric Palace (1910-54)

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Love Letter to Deptford

Some good Deptford photos by Luke Overin at Vice, his 'Love letter to Deptford':

'When I was at art school, a tutor gave me a book titled Songs from the Shandy Valley – a collection of poems and illustrations paying homage to the characters that populated Deptford Market and Broadway in the early 1990s. The book fascinated me at that point, and years later I found myself living in the "Shandy Valley". Like many places in London back then, I think that Deptford was a write-off – a no-go zone for some. That's changed for many areas but I still feel that Deptford, particularly on a market day, resonates with an older London, a hidden yet anarchic corner of its ragged identity'.

(anybody got a copy of Songs from the Shandy Valley by the way? I haven't read it)

Radical Housing Weekend in New Cross

An interesting programme of talks, films and visits in New Cross this weekend as part of the Radical Housing Network's London-wide Housing Weekender events.

On Saturday 26 April there will be films from 2 pm at New Cross Learning, whille in Cafe Crema (306 New Cross Road) talks will start at 1 pm, with speakers including:

'Jon Glackin on……Street Homelessness: Jon Glackin from World Homeless Action Movement is a street homeless campaigner who currently works supporting those on the streets with soup runs and advocacy. Jon will be speaking about the encroaching criminalization and discrimination of the homeless, such as the Met Police’s Operation Encompass and the banning of soup kitchens in certain areas. He will also be outlining the ways in which homeless people are self-organising and providing basic services for themselves.

Owen Hatherley on….. Urban Blight: Owen Hatherley is a journalist and writer, author of several books and articles around the issue of housing and urban architecture, including Militant Modernism, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain and This Property is Condemned. Owen will be speaking about bad architecture, poor design and the take-over of our cities by profit-driven corporativism.

Jon Broome on……Self-Build: Jon Broome, self-builder and one of the UK’s leading self-build architects who worked with Walter Segal using an innovative building method which made self-build easy, accessible, and affordable. Groups like the Lewisham Self-Builders adopted this approach in the 1980′s, and was later used to good effect at various sites in Lewisham, Southeast London, Brighton and elsewhere. He will outline: What we mean by self-build, What are the potential benefits, Examples of people who have done it, Who can take part, Participatory design, Low energy building and Sustainable neighbourhoods'.

There will also be an opportunity to tour two local Housing Co-ops:

SANFORD HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE:  Established in 1973, Sanford is currently celebrating its 40th year as an independent housing co-operative. Tours will be running during the day, exploring the gardens, fish ponds, renewable energy measures, and looking inside the 8-person shared houses.

NETTLETON ROAD HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE: Nettleton Co-op was established in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s, when derelict council houses that had been squatted were turned into a housing co-operative. Nettleton co-op is made up of a number of terraced houses on a pedestrianised street, and is renowned for its annual community street-party.

Further details/full programme here

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Frederick Wiedhofft - New Cross Photographer

I recently stumbled across a fine photograph Graeme Brooker posted on twitter with the caption '1920. New Cross. George & Nelly Rumble. My great-great aunt & uncle'. The photo was in a frame bearing the name 'F.Wiedhofft, 338 New Cross Road', and a quick search across family history and photography sites will locate many pictures attributed to this photographer.

His own life has been documented at a Wiedhofft family history site, so we know that Frederick Wiedhofft, the grandchild of German migrants, was born in Clerkenwell in 1854. He started off as an  'oil and colourman' in the 1870s, moving his business over the next 20 years from Grays Inn Road to Notting Hill and then Balls Pond Road in Dalston. An oil and colourman would have sold paints, lamp oil, etc.from their shop.  It wasn't until 1897 that he moved into photography, opening up a studio at 338 New Cross Road - where he was listed as living when he got married in 1899. Near to New Cross station, this has most recently been an Indian restaurant (Monsoon).

On the 29th July 1910 Frederick died of pneumonia at his then home at 358 Romford Rd. Forest Gate, but the business seems to have continued a while longer. In the 1914 Post Office directory the New Cross Road shop has been joined by two other branches in Holland Park and Junction Road in Islington. Photo London states that he was succeeded at the New Cross studio by Percy John Blackbeard. 

The picture above of George and Nelly Rumble has 'July 1920' written on the back so studio may have been going as long at that - though that date could have been written in error at a later date:

'F. Wiedhofft, Art Photographer'

"John James Pay, on his retirement from the Metropolitan Police June 12th 1910 after 25 years service"

A reference to the 'late J.J. Avery' -
Wiedhofft seems to have taken over his business in Holland Park

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

May Day events next week

Next Monday April 28, Haunt London presents:

May Day in South London and the Jack-in-the-Green Day in South London and the Jack-in-the-Gr
'The first day of May has long been a time of riots, revelry, ribaldry and the Jack-in-the-Green, a dancing leafy green giant once seen all over London and revived in Deptford thirty years ago this year by the Fowlers Troop.

Come hear of London customs and celebrations and protest from Sarah Crofts of the Fowlers Troop, Dave Aylward of Fowlers Troop and Blurt and Neil Transpontine, south London blogger and historian. It will be a night with talks and film that will include chimney-sweep celebrations, possible neo-paganism, anarchists and the story of David Bowie and the Bromley May Queens.

The Miller Pub, 96 Snowfields, SE1 3SS, 8 pm (£3/£2 concessions)

(facebook event details)

Deptford Jack in the Green

Meanwhile on May Day itself, the Deptford Jack in the Green/Fowlers Troop will be parading through Greenwich and Deptford, details as follows:

Thursday 1st May 2014

11.30 meet: Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St  London, London SE8 3JD, leave at 12.00,
12.15: Duke, 125 Creek Rd, London SE8 3BU, leave at 12.30,
12.45: Old Loyal Britons, 62 Thames St, London SE10 9BX [lunch stop], leave at 13.30, via Old Royal Naval College*,
14.00: Star and Garter, 60 Old Woolwich Rd, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY, leave at 14.35,
14.50: Plume of Feathers, 19 Park Vista  London, London SE10 9LZ, leave at 15.20, via Greenwich Park*,
16.00: Greenwich Union, 56, Royal Hill, Greenwich, London, SE10 8RT, leave at 16.30,
17.00: Ashburnham Arms, 25 Ashburnham Grove,  Greenwich, London SE10 8UH.

All times approximate.

Dressing the Jack will take place from 20.00 on Wednesday 30th April at the Dog and Bell, any flowers you have will be very welcome. Further details here

Deptford Jack in the Green on Creek Road in 2013

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

South London Anti Fascists meeting tomorrow

On Sunday 27th April far right fragment 'March for England' is planning to march in Brighton, and anti-fascists are mobilising to stop them. According to Anti-Fascist Network

'For the last few years there has been an annual far-right event in Brighton held around St George’s Day in April. The “March for England” which is confusingly both an organisation and an event has held a march through the town to ‘celebrate’ St George’s Day since 2008... Campaign group Stop the March for England has organised thousands of local Brighton residents to take to the streets to oppose the racists, seeing them massively outnumbered and being escorted totally surrounded by police through huge crowds of jeering heckling Brightonians' (more here).

South London Anti Fascists will be heading to Brighton, and those interested in joining them are invited to a public meeting/briefing tomorrow night (Wednesday 23 April). Meet at 7:00 pm sharp by the Marquis of Granby, 322 New Cross Road, from where people will head to the meeting venue.

Billie and Bowie Murals - Nunhead and Brixton

A new mural featuring Billie Holiday has popped up in Nunhead - there was previously a photograph of her in the window of that shopfront at 40 Nunhead Green.

Also took this photo in Brixton last week of the David Bowie mural on the side of Morley's department store. Painted by James Cochran (JimmyC) last year it commemorates the fact Bowie was born round the corner at 40 Stansfield Road, Brixton in 1947 (more at BrixtonBlog

Monday, April 21, 2014

Music (and poetry) Monday: Joseph O'Connor

As part of the Irish President's recent state visit to London, there was a night of Irish music broadcast on BBC-4 as 'Ultimate Irish Music at the Royal Albert Hall: A Presidential Celebration'.

Truth be told it was a bit patchy, but one of the strongest parts was a reading from the writer Joseph O'Connor, best known for his novels 'Star of the Sea' and 'Redemption Falls' (and incidentally Sinead O'Connor's older brother). His poem drew on the experience of London Irish migrant workers, with some nice South London references:

'the dancehall in Brixton, the chapel in Bow,
oh the freeze of a South East London morning,
digging trench tunnels in the Lewisham snow,

... remember me sister, in Stepney and Bayswater, is all I ask,
without sorrow or hate in Harwich and Deptford and Romford and Woolwich,
in Canning Town, in New Cross Gate,
through the city of songs where the sweet Thames flows for a London calling with lustre and light,
from the Waterloo Sunset to the rainy nights of Soho,
and down in the tube station at midnight where I drove their trains, where I hefted a pick,
as my daughters taught their children or nursed their sick...'

Joseph O'Connor

O'Connor lived in Lewisham in the late 1980s, not sure exactly where. As mentioned here before 'Star of the Sea', a novel of 19th century Irish emigration, features a criminal parody of the Lord's prayer with the words 'Our old guv'nor,which dosses in Lewisham, swelled by thy moniker, Thy racket be come, thy crack-job be done'.

O'Connor's Albert Hall poem reminded me of Dominic Behan's song McAlpine's Fusiliers, a ballad of road digging and building sites most famously performed by The Dubliners (less famously we used to play/sing it in a session at the now demolished St George's Tavern in Lambeth Road SE1 in the early 1990s):

'I've worked till the sweat near has me beat
With Russian, Czech and Pole
On shuttering jams up in the hydro dams
Or underneath the Thames in a hole;
I grafted hard and I got me cards
And many a ganger's fist across me ears;
If you pride your life, don't join, by Christ,
With McAlpine's Fusiliers'.

The ghost of the Behans was certainly hovering over the Albert Hall the other night, it ended up with Elvis Costello, Lisa Hannigan, Paul Brady, Imelda May, Andy Irvine and others singing Brendan Behan's The Auld Triangle.

If I ever get the time I could surely write a good few posts about the Behans in South London.... Brendan finishing off his play The Hostage at Joan Littlewood's house in Blackheath, Brian being jailed for his role in the South Bank builders strike in the late 1950s... more to come (maybe).

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hilly Fields Teepees

Sad as it was to see some trees come down in Hilly Fields in last October's storm (see photos here), it's good to see branches being put to good use to create these little 'teepee' structures. There's three of them close to the Montague Avenue SE4 end of the park

Friday, April 18, 2014

Has The Tide Turned? - 21 Years of Urban Change in Deptford

It is two decades since Jess Steele published her book 'Turning the Tide: the history of everyday Deptford' at the height of the Deptford City Challenge regeneration programme. Next Friday April 25th 2014, the Centre for Urban and Community Research at Goldsmiths is holding an event to look at what's changed since and 'possible futures for the area'.

In the afternoon (3.30 – 5.30) there will be a seminar on 'The changing face of “regeneration” in London' with short talks from speakers including Alison Rooke, Michael Keith, Heidi Seetzen, Rob Imrie and Luna Glucksberg

From 5.30 – 6.00 there will be 'Screenings and sound intervention: Creative Responses to Urban Change in Deptford' (food and drinks provided)

And then from 6.00 – 8.00 there will be a Workshop on '21 Years of Urban Regeneration in Deptford' starting with 'Short provocations by: Ben Gidley, Jess Steele, Jessica Leech, Neil Transpontine, and Joe Montgomery' followed by roundtable discussions on areas including:

- Creative Deptford: arts, culture and regeneration
- Housing and neighbourhood
- DIY Deptford: regeneration from below?
- Convoys Wharf: regeneration or land grab?
- The changing face of Deptford: migration, identity, diversity and generation

Don't worry if you can't make it to the afternoon session and just want to come to the Deptford session from 6:00pm.  The event is free and will take place in the Deptford Town Hall Council Chamber, all welcome, but please register in advance if possible so that they can plan for numbers (email

As you can see I will be having a short 'provocation' spot, there are others local bloggers better qualified no doubt, but with my local history hat on I don't think I will have any trouble filling my ten minutes!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Launch of WAVES Lewisham (Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity)

Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity (WAVES)  is a new 'grassroots organisation promoting a community based response to violence against women & girls in Lewisham... Each year across the UK up to 3 million women and girls experience violence, and there are many more living with the legacies of abuse experienced in the past. In the UK it includes: domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, crimes in the name of honour, trafficking, sexual exploitation and sometime murder. It is mostly committed by men that women know or are in a close relationship with... Set up in 2014, WAVES is a group of local women campaigning in the borough of Lewisham to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We believe that bottom-up community led change can complement the work of bodies like the police and council to tackle violence in the borough.We think Lewisham is a great place with a strong tradition of communities coming together for social justice. Led by women, we welcome male supporters who endorse our call for better prevention, protection and provision to address violence against women and girls'.

As a launch event on Saturday 26 April (2 pm), they are visting Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery to  commemorate a young woman who died 140 years ago:

'We will be placing flowers on the grave of Jane Maria Clouson, a pregnant Lewisham teenager who was murdered in April 1871. The people of South East London lined the streets from Deptford to Brockley for her funeral procession and, unusually for time, the coffin was carried by women, dressed as maids. The memorial, was paid for by public subscription and there was a great outcry when the murder suspect, her employer's son, was acquitted.  We are asking women who join us to wear black, if possible, and bring purple flowers to place on the grave.

Unfortunately, Jane's death is not just an interesting piece of social history. Today, nationally on average, two women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. And domestic workers, often migrant women, are regularly subject to physical, sexual and other forms of abuse.

We want to build on the tradition of local community solidarity with women and girls harmed by male violence. We would be delighted to welcome new women who are interested in talking to us about what we can do locally about violence against women and girls today. However, please remember this a cemetery which is still used and there may be people in the vicinity visiting the graves of loved ones who have died more recently so we want our presence at the grave to be quiet and dignified.

Our graveside event will followed by a short meeting at 2.30pm in Huxbear Hall, Huxbear Street, SE4 1EA which is opposite the Brockley Grove gate on the P4 bus route'.

Deptford-born Clouson was found mortally injured in Kidbrooke Lane and died soon afterwards in Guys Hospital. For the full story of what became known as 'the Eltham murder', see this article by Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bob's Abandoned Bike Shop on the Old Kent Road

These empty shop fronts on the Old Kent Road (opposite Asylum Road, near to Toys R Us) have been decorated with signs saying 'Untitled Ltd' and 'Bob's Abandoned Bike Shop'. The typography makes me suspect that the artist Bob & Roberta Smith may have been involved, but I may be wrong - anyone know anymore?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Music Monday: Akwaba and Lewisham Bridge Primary School Choir 1983

Last week I was DJing at the Agit Disco benefit for Housmans bookshop at the Surya Bar in Islington, also on the bill was John Eden (Uncarved) who kindly gave me this record he had found in his crate digging for reggae classics and obscurities.

'El Condor Pasa' by Akwaba is a cover in a lovers rock style of the Simon and Garfunkel song. It was released on Small Axe records in 1983 and recorded at Mad Professor's Ariwa Studio, which as we have established here before was at 42 Gautrey Road SE15 in this period. Not one of the greatest productions from this studio, but what is of Transpontine interest is that it features 'Garry Hall and the Lewisham Bridge Primary School Choir'. I don't know any more about it than that, but would be interested if anybody who was at the school at that time, or was even in the choir, can tell us more.

If someone who sang on it comes forward with the story, they can have the 7" single as a prize!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Marathon Medal Map

Images of London on the medal from today's London Marathon. One side shows the route with South London landmarks identified on it including Greenwich Park, the Cutty Sark, 02 Arena, London Eye and Surrey Quays.

The other side shows a view down the river from east of Tower Bridge, with the Shard, London Eye, City Hall and various buildings around Tooley St/London Bridge identifiable.

(this was my marshall's medal - runners had the same design with a gold colour)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A little bit of Deptford in Brazil: Stone's Engineering

A friend has sent me a picture from Brazil of a drain cover marked 'J. Stone & Co. Engineers, Deptford, London SE'. As he explains: 'Spotted today inside the grounds of the Palácio do Catete in Rio de Janeiro. The Palace was the Presidential Palace from 1897 until 1960 when the capital city changed to Brasilia. Nice to know they got Deptford makers into the gaff in the early days to provide metalwork of drain covers'.

Stone's Engineering was based in Arklow Road, Deptford from 1881 until the factory closed in 1969. As well as making drain covers, they made propellors and other parts for ships, trains and planes. Their work travelled round the world - Grace's Guide to British Industrial Industry has examples spotted in Barbados and Uruguay.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Ceri James album launch at the Duke

Ceri James has been a key part of the SE London live music scene for as long as this blog has been going, and over the years we have featured some of his songs here (including 'Blythe Hill Fields', 'Deptford Broadway' and the New Cross cultural history of 'The Real Coffee Shop'). Recently he has playing regularly at the Wickham Arms in Brockley as part of the Wickham Songwriters Circle.

Tomorrow night (Thursday 10 April) he is launching his fourth album, Songs from the Saloon, at the Duke in Deptford, with some good support. Admission is free, with the line up as follows:

- Dai Herbert - start 8pm
- Jimmy Lyons - start 8.20pm
- Dan Raza - start 8.45pm
- Ceri James (Band) and guests 9.10 pm

Ceri James - Songs from the Saloon album cover
(photograph taken in the Ivy House)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Music Monday: Test Dept and the Miners Strike

Continuing the series of posts on the 1984/85 miners strike and South London, we turn to Test Dept. As discussed several times here before, the influential industrial band started out in New Cross, specifically at 8 Nettleton Road where some of the band were living.

Many bands played benefit gigs for the miners, but Test Dept went further and put out a joint album with the South Wales Striking Miners Choir. The choir and the band played gigs together around the country, as well as putting out the album to raise funds for the strike. One of the gigs was at the Albany in Deptford on 18 September 1984, recalled by Neil Stoker: 'We did a huge benefit at the Albany Empire in London with a Welsh male-voice choir, and a band called Test Department. I can only describe Test Department as a band which filled plastic drums with water and sand and banged them in a rhythmic way. It was a bizarre night--these Welsh miners came down in a coach and were stuck in the middle of Deptford with these punks banging plastic drums--but there were a thousand people there!'

The album. Shoulder to Shoulder,  was recorded at various venues including Crynant Rugby Club (South Wales), Snowdon Colliery Welfare Club (in Kent coalfield), and Cold Storage studio in  Brixton. Some tracks featured the choir, and some Test Dept, but on what track - Comrades - they performed together.

From the back of album - note that at this time the contact address for Test Dept was 41 Billington Rd SE14
Last month Test Dept founders founders Graham Cunnington and Paul Jamrozy put on installation commemorating the strike at the AV Festival on Tyneside.  Paul told the Quietus: 'for the people who took part in it and lived through it, it's certainly not forgotten, and bringing up the 30 years of the strike brings it to the fore. People are still very bitter, there's a lot of anger. I think it's important to engage with that. Seumas Milne is bringing out the new Enemy Within book, and there's some stuff coming out with the Freedom Of Information Act, there are people still looking for some truth and justice to come out of it, with Orgreave and how the strike was policed... It was also the first signs of the militarisation of the police force in a way that is now just accepted: whether you're a pensioner or a student you're going to come across against people in full riot gear ready to attack you at the slightest excuse. That all became normalised during the Miners' Strike'.

Shoulder to Shoulder - the label

Housmans benefit this week

As it happens, Paul Jamrozy and myself are both DJing this Thursday 10th April at a benefit for Housmans, the long established radical bookshop at Kings Cross. The event, at Surya on Pentonville Road, is themed around the Agit Disco project, with people playing tunes they define as political. I'm actually going to be playing a short set of tracks linked to the miners strike, and had already decided to include Test Dept when I heard that Paul is playing too. Others taking part include Stewart Home and John Eden - full details at Facebook

See previously:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Deptford Dub Club launches at the Duke

Steve Wax invites you to the first session of the Deptford Dub Club, on Friday 18th April:

'The Duke is a great new venue for us, with increased time, better facilities, massively greater accessibility and free entry. Together with Jamtone and special guests tbc. we will present a party night of Jamaican music, from 9.00 until 2.00.

For this session the tunes will be spinnin’ on Jamtone’s full traditional Sound System rig, enabling them to be appreciated to full affect, in a “back-a-yard” style. Strictly Roots Reggae, vintage Rocksteady and Ska. Expect special guests singers and players 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. Together we’ll be selecting a blistering mix from Blue Beat through to  “one away”, contemporary, roots rock Reggae.

Hopefully, this meeting of The Deptford Dub Club will be the first of many, in this venerable music venue. There’s a rooftop smoking terrace and hot food will be available until 10pm. Put on your dancing shoes and come on down'

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Skateboards and Sound Systems in Telegraph Hill Festival Final Weekend

[Update Sunday 6th April - because of the wet weather, the SKAM festival has been cancelled, and will be rearranged later in the summer. The Sound System RUMBQ won't be happening in the park either but WILL be taking place indoors instead - in the Narthex building at St Catherine's Church (Kitto Rd, SE14).

A few more days to go in this year's Telegraph Hill Festival, with highlights of the final weekend including open studios, SKAM 3 skate festival in Telegraph Hill Park and alongside the latter Unit 137 Sound System's RUMBQ (the latter two linked events taking part on Sunday 6th April).

Last weekend was very busy in the area around the park. In the upper park, Bark in the Park attracted more than a hundred dogs plus their human companions - think they should call it Woofstock next year. 

Outside the Hill Station Cafe (Kitto Road SE14) there was an old routemaster bus donated by New Cross bus garage emanating strange sounds and hosting events including a performance of New Cross Park Life - a year in the life of Telegraph Hill Park in haiku.

 Nunhead Municipal Museum and Art Gallery displayed some of their fictive treasures outside, including this model of the shark-limbed dancing 'Gellatly Girls'-

Saturday night (29th March) the area outside St Catherine's Church was briefly transformed by Gellatly Motion Pictures with nine projectors simultaneously beaming different films onto sheets suspended from the trees accompanied by music. There were clips from Belle et La Bete, Barbarella, Sweet Charity,  State Fair,  Bullit, and Annie Get Your Gun, among others. The latter was the Hollywood version of the musical performed the previous weekend by the 200 strong cast and crew if the Telegraph Hill Community Show and the film event finished with people singing the show's big number- 'there's no business like show business'.