Friday, October 26, 2018

The Boy who Stole Time - book launch at Crofton Books

'The Boy who stole time' is a new  young people's fantasy novel by Ladywell-based author Mark Bowsher (publicity says 'for fans of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pulman'). A book launch and reading is taking place on Sunday 28th October, 3 pm, at Crofton Books, 375 Brockley Road SE4 2AG. That's the excellent value second hand bookshop inside Crofton Park Library.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

More New Cross Faces from 1860s to 1900s

As mentioned before, I periodically look on Ebay and similar sites for interesting local photos (the ones here are all currently on sale, click links for futher details). I am particularly fascinated by the products of photographers' studios, of which there were a number on the New Cross Road in the Victorian/Edwardian era.

The first photo here is of a finely whiskered gentleman photographed by C.Goulder, Artist and Photographer, 341 New Cross Road (ebay link). Seemingly Charles Goulder was operating there in 1867, and at other premies in Deptford in the same period.

Elsewhere online I found this card from the photographer:

Often with these images we don't know who the subject is. What makes this next one quite intriguing is that there is some information, as the photo was sent as a postcard by the young man pictured. The photographer's address can be made on the back as 251 New Cross Road - I believe the photographer to be R & J Foster who had studios here and at 21 London Road, Greenwich

The postcard was sent from Peckham, on 4 January 1913 to a Miss Selina Cowen, 130 St James Street, Burnley (ebay details). The message reads 'My dear Selina, I am sending you my photo wishing a Happy New Year [loving?] brother Bennett'

The 1911 census has Selina Cowen, then aged 10, living at this address as the adopted daughter of Aaron (a tailor shopkeeper) and Annie Cowen. Intriguingly all three are stated to have been born in Russia, the parents having become 'naturalized British subjects' in 1895.  I would speculate that they could have been Russian Jewish emigres, Cowen was sometimes adopted as an anglicised version of Cohen.

I couldn't find any trace of a Bennett Cowen from this time, though maybe if his sister was adopted they could have had different names. As a long shot, there was a Bennett Cohen of around the right age (born c.1898) living with his father Abraham Cohen, another Russian born tailor, in Leeds in 1901 and 1911 Census.

The final photograph was taken by P. Luton of 24 New Cross Road in 1909. It shows the Swiss Gymnastic Society, London (ebay) - one of a number of societies at the time for Swiss people based in the capital.

See previous posts:

Rubber Johnny revival

We've mentioned late 1970s/early 1980s band Rubber Johnny before, including their residency in that period at the Royal Albert pub. Led by singer John Turner, the band grew out of the Deptford Albany and The Combination, the radical theatre project based there. They've started playing again recently and have gigs coming up this weekend (Friday 26th and and Saturday 27th October) at Greenwich Studio Theatre. This will include John Turner talking about music in the SE London area, which during that period spawned Dire Straits, Squeeze and the whole genre of  'Lovers Rock'. Details as follows:

'Rubber Johnny, a Deptford based band, started life as an interval trio for the Rock against Racism concerts at the Albany Empire Deptford in 1978. They are playing the Greenwich Studio Theatre on the Friday 26th and Saturday 27th of Oct at 7.30pm. From 1978 to 1983 they held residencies at local pubs in the area, played the London clubs and the University Circuit. On Hammer Records under the name The Alligators they released a single produced by Denis “Blackbeard” Bovell. Through the late 70s and early 80s they supported many benefits in the area. The original trio was John White harmonicas, Keith Moore guitar and John Turner on vocals.

The band’s Return in 2016 was as a result of a request from the Save Your local libraries Campaign and led to more performances in the pub scene of the area as well as a live CD (Return) of the current band in action. To the band's great amazement the Rubber Johnny material has been received with as great enthusiasm as it had ever been. The band is now Les Morgan drums, Joe Read bass, Steve Silverton guitar Ralph Winkler guitar, John White harmonica and John Turner on vocals. New songs have now been added to set.

This has led to the invitation to play the Greenwich Studio Theatre on Crooms Hill, Greenwich SE10 8E6 Tel: 020 8858 7755. Admission will be £10.00 on the door. During introductions John Turner will be talking about music in the area during the life of the band'.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'Today South London, Tomorrow South London' - Deserter book launch

Since it started in 2014, South London site Deserter has been a refreshing slacker 'voice of degeneration... an aspirational lifestyle website for those with a predilection for doing f**k all'. Most recently this has included a guide to all of SE London Wetherspoon pubs.

Now they have book coming out- Today South London, Tomorrow South London by Andrew Grumbridge and Vincent Raison, published by Unbound:

'The authors, under their noms de plume, Dulwich Raider and Dirty South, record offbeat days out and half-remembered urban adventures featuring pubs, cemeteries, galleries, hospitals and pubs again, often in the company of their volatile dealer, Half-life, and the much nicer Roxy. Part guide, part travelogue, this book is a collection of these tales with the addition of new material that their publisher absolutely insisted upon. South London, that maligned wasteland where cabbies once feared to drive, can no longer be ignored. The South is risen!'

The book is being launched at Dulwich Beer Dispensary on Nov 1st at 7.30. Deserter IPA (yes they have their own beer, brewed in Penge,) will be served.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Press Art School, Forest Hill (1905-1960)

An interesting find on a second hand stall in Lyme Regis over the summer was this brochure for The Press Arts School, a correspondence course in drawing run from Forest Hill. The brochure is undated but internal evidence suggests it was published during or shortly after the First World War.

The Press Art School was established by Percy Venner Bradshaw (1877-1965), who had studied art himself at a Goldsmith College evening class. In the 1901 census he is shown as living with his parents at 128 Drakefell Road SE14 but moved to 37 Dacres Road in Forest Hill SE23 after his 1910 marriage at St Catherine's Hatcham church. 

The correspondence course was prompted by the success of a series of articles on drawing Bradshaw wrote for the Boys Own Paper. Founded in 1905, The Press Art School moved in 1911 to the Tudor Hall in South Road, Forest Hill SE23. This former mansion had been built in 1854/5 as The Red Hall, before becoming a private girls' school known as Tudor House school from 1865 to 1908.

The building housed the Press Art School until it closed in 1960. Much of it was demolished in 1961, though part of it remains as flats (the section shown on the right below).

At its peak the Press Art School was a major operation, training would be commercial artists and amateur enthusiasts who would send in their work for evaluation and criticism. By 1916, it had 3,000 students signed up and 20 staff. Many of the illustrators for UK newspapers and magazines started out with one of Bradshaw’s courses, including Norman Pett who created popular Second World War cartoon strip ‘Jane’ for the Daily Mirror. Sculptor Henry Moore took lessons while serving with the army in World War One. One of Bradshaw’s later students in the 1950s was Ralph Steadman who recalled in a 1989 interview with The Comics Journal:

‘I saw an advert which said, “The Percy V. Bradshaw’s Press Art School Course. You too can learn to draw and earn pounds.” So my mother and father who were by this time a little distraught because I didn’t have a proper job, and I didn’t know what I was going to do, said, “If you’d like to take the course, since you’re drawing now, we’ll pay for it.” It was 18 lessons: 12 lessons spread over 12 months on how to draw, and the other six months learning how to be a cartoonist. The whole course cost 18 pounds — a pound a lesson, something like that — very cheap. My mother and father paid for it and then I went into the forces and whilst I was in the forces I did the course. I wish I kept the letters from Percy V. Bradshaw to me because of my complaints about the old-fashioned style of the course, and he’s saying, “Ah, my boy, the principles of drawing never change.” He’d get me to draw a pair of boots, put them on a table and draw them in dots, a pointillism technique, and gradually build up a pair of boots, and that would give you a sense of tonality. And then I’d do these various exercises and send them back to him. The guy would do a fairly descriptive criticism of what was either wrong or right... the cartoon course was very interesting. What he said is, “What you need to do is go out into public places and look at the people and keep a sketchbook and that way you’ll learn something about caricature”’.

Bradshaw engaged other illustrators to comment on students work, the best known of these tutors being W.Heath Robinson.