Friday, 16 September 2016

Deptford Open House

This weekend sees the annual Open House event where buildings all across London open their doors to the general public for a free weekend of seeing what goes on behind closed doors.

As a borough, Lewisham's offerings seem woefully few, but Deptford and environs has some notable opportunities to visit buildings which should not be missed, as well as a few walks.

Deptford Town Hall on New Cross Road is open on Saturday, 10am till 5pm and offers "lavish, nautically-themed baroque features" both inside and out.

Have a nebby* behind the great black gates of the Master Shipwright's House on Watergate Street - open Saturday 10.30 till 5 and Sunday 10 till 2, with promises of re-enactors, tea and cakes, and the presence of the Lenox Project and Sayes Court Garden community groups. The oldest remaining building of the former Royal Dockyard. If you haven't been here before, you'll be gobsmacked at what you've missed. If you have been before, you'll be back for more.

(*northern slang for 'nosey' where I'm from)

If the weekend is clear, there are always great views to be had from the top of the Seager Distillery Tower - certainly one local building where it's preferable to be in looking out. Saturday 10-5 and Sunday 10-1. There's usually a short wait to enter, as there's a limit on numbers at the top, but it's worth a look if you want to see Deptford from a different angle.

Walking tours include Sayes Court (pre booking online only), Pepys Park & Surrey Canal Linear Park (meet outside Deptford Park School on Saturday at 11am) and Deptford Town Centre (meet at the north end of the high street outside Boa Lang on Saturday at 2pm).

Despite the lack of places open in Lewisham, Deptford residents have Greenwich and Southwark not too far away so it's worth looking at those parts of the guide if you want something close at hand - and there's plenty a bit further afield that's worth travelling to.

One particular recommendation is the Deptford Creek Swing Bridge (or as the guide would have it, the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge) where the architects and engineers who designed it will be present on Sunday from 1pm till 5pm. The bridge will be opened on Sunday at 3pm so if you've always wanted to see it swing without being inconvenienced, now's your chance!

Full information is online at

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Deptford take-back: Old Tidemill Garden and Deptford Neighbourhood Action

This weekend sees plenty of action in Deptford with a whole day of community activity, entertainment, music and food at the Old Tidemill Garden for 'The Deptford Take-Back.

Many of the local community and pressure groups that have formed in the last couple of years are expected to be there - including main organisers the Old Tidemill Garden and Deptford Neighbourhood Action. The latter is holding its AGM at the event, and is looking to recruit new officers as well as invite people to get involved with its various working groups. 

There will be food from the Deptford People Project and lots of family-friendly entertainment. It's all happening in the gardens behind the old Tidemill School on Frankham Street from 11am to 9pm.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Proposed revisions to Lewisham Gateway development; public consultation

While this is a bit out of my usual area of coverage, it may well be of interest to those in the south of Deptford/St John's.

The developer currently creating havoc in and around Lewisham station, Lewisham Gateway Developments Ltd, is 'consulting' on proposed changes to its master plan for the second phase of the work.

This involves the development of the land where the big roundabout used to be, remember those days?

In short, the developer wants to do away with some of the leisure, office and education provision and replace it with a bigger hotel and more flats.

Not only that, the proposal is to build taller (buildings proposed to be 77m will go up to 104m, those proposed to be 47m will now be up to 62m).

The developer's details suggest that the revisions will make it 'more slender' and 'open' as development. *check I'm wearing right glasses*. It's a master plan so it does not go into detailed design, instead covers things like planning use of the buildings, their footprints and building size, the location and orientation of roads etc.

Concerns have already been raised about the impact the increased building sizes will have on the habitat of 'Confluence Place' which seems to be the token green space for this huge redevelopment.

More details are online and there is a public consultation event in the foyer of the Glassmill Leisure Centre from 6pm to 8pm this Thursday 8th September.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Deptford People Project documentary

The Deptford People Project has produced a short film about their Friday night kitchen which was running in the Armada Centre for several months until being unceremoniously evicted by Greenwich Council a few weeks back (for reasons that I have been unable to fully establish).

The volunteers use food donated by local traders to cook a meal on Friday night for anyone who wants to eat - and create an opportunity for people who might be isolated and vulnerable to meet and socialise.

Undaunted by the eviction, the organisers are now serving food in the park next door on Friday nights, but clearly the need for indoor space is pressing as the weather starts to change.

They are currently petitioning Greenwich Council to find them space. Ironically the Armada Centre is just over the border in the Greenwich part of Deptford.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Surrey Canal linear park now open

A new route from the Pepys Estate through towards Surrey Quays has recently been opened up, linking Eddystone Tower and its neighbours, and the under-construction Timberyard development at Oxestalls Road with the various new residential blocks on Plough Way, most of which are named after one wharf or other. Along the route of the former Surrey Canal, it offers a much more pleasant and direct route for pedestrians and cyclists between the Deptford estates and the shopping centre at. Surrey Quays 

The same palette of materials has been retained across the full length of the route - which has been funded by money (presumably Section 106 payments) from the new developments at the west end of the borough.

The public realm is generally quite pleasant with granite edging intended to represent the position of the former canal, shrub and flower planting along the edges and some new trees proposed. At the far west end of the link, right in the middle of the new development, is Plough Way Cafe which is housed in a nice little modern building with outdoor terrace.

While the materials have been matched throughout the route, there's a notable difference between the facilities in each section. The new developments get logs shaped into cute little sheep for kids to play on, and poetry inscribed into the granite edging.

Down at the Pepys estate they have to make do with a couple of logs half buried in gravel and an expanse of timber decking.

Joking apart I am looking forward to the route under Oxestalls Road finally being opened to cyclists and pedestrians - and maybe even a link at the east end of the Timberyard development going under Evelyn Street to Blackhorse Road? The latter is physically possible now thanks to some hard work by Deptford Folk and Lewisham Cyclists to amend a planning application for Shurgard that would have blocked off this access.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Drone footage of Convoys Wharf site

With enabling works having recently started on the Convoys Wharf site, readers might be interested in having a look 'over the fence' with this great drone footage posted by Sayes Court.

The enabling works which are being carried out by contractor FM Conway include building a haul road through the site in preparation for the construction of buildings on the site.

It's now two years since developer Hutchison Whampoa secured outline planning permission for the site. They have permission to redevelop the site based on the masterplan that was approved by Boris Johnson after he called in the scheme at the developer's request. This includes construction of 3,500 homes, including three huge towers on the waterfront. Before they can build any of the scheme they must submit (and receive approval for) detailed planning applications. They have just put up a new website for the scheme.

If you are interested in the background to the planning process and the detail of the outline proposal you can find it by searching the archive of this blog. Both of the local community projects that were incorporated in the plans after several years of campaigning - the Lenox Project and Sayes Court Garden - also have information on their websites.

There is also a group called Voice4Deptford which is being run by Pepys Community Forum and is intended to represent the local community in future discussions with the developer. They have a meeting on 6th September at the Armada Community Hall for anyone interested in getting involved.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Stable door open, horse bolted

It's my unfortunate duty to have to be the bearer of the bad news that the Stable Pizza restaurant is no longer coming to Deptford. 

Sources inform me that the no-show was down to the interminable delay in finishing St Paul's House. 

I'm pretty gutted about this. Let's hope the replacement is as good if not better.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Coming soon; Deptford Market Yard

So only two years later than originally advertised, tenants are finally starting to move into the arches of the refurbished carriage ramp with the opening expected to take place in the next couple of weeks. Residents may have been in the new apartment block for most of this year, but there's been a distinct lack of urgency to the work needed to finish the carriage ramp and get the small businesses into their new homes.

Even now the appearance of the ramp and the public realm in front of it does not exactly inspire confidence. Miracles do happen, I know, but they have been a bit short on this project.

At least U&I (the-developer-formerly-known-as-Cathedral) have now got the hang of the fact that they are supposed to keep the new public realm outside the station clean - although it did take some very heavy hints.

For some reason there seems to be a total dearth of rubbish bins - how that was overlooked by the landscape architects, who nevertheless managed to design some very nice features for the space, I'll never know. Instead we have makeshift bins made of cardboard boxes put there by the station's single lonesome tenant, Mousetail Coffee.

But Mousetail Coffee is not going to be lonely for much longer; as we know, coffee shops like to hang around in gangs these days so naturally one of the new units will have another coffee shop in it - Lomond Coffee, currently hiring for baristas to work in Deptford.

Aside from coffee, there's also going to be a new gift shop - Win & Ruby has been trading from a 'pop-up' store in the front section of Deli X for some time now and has a good line in cards and wrapping paper as well as a range of gifts the like of which you won't find anywhere else in the high street.

For all your bonce and beard grooming requirements there's The Box Hair Salon, where you can have a total makeover of your crowning glory.
Visitors will also be able to purchase screen-printed t-shirts and hats from Plain Bear. They are mostly plain, with a bear on them. Crafty.

By way of contrast there's also Gita's Portal, selling African-inspired fashion and seen here featuring in a very local photo shoot!

Unfortunately the long delay in completing the carriage ramp has meant some casualties from the original list of tenants who were planning to move in.

Those who remember Mike & Ollie's stall from back in 2011 (and maybe those of you who visit their stall at Brockley Market) will no doubt be disappointed to hear that they have had to abandon their original plan to move back into Deptford in one of the arches.

Of course there will be other street food vendors; no market/row of shops/disused car park is complete these days without a couple of street food stalls and Deptford Market Yard will be featuring grilled cheese sandwiches from the Cheese Truck and jerk chicken and fried plantain from Mama's Jerk. Not long till Deptford High St has more jerk chicken vendors than betting shops! 

And finally *drum roll* one of Deptford's most colourful former tenants is returning to the fold with the revelation that Little Nan's Bar will be back in the market yard. Tristan and his team will be serving eccentrically-named cocktails out of teapots and passing round the cheese straws like they've never been away.

Updated Tuesday 9th August
The names of all the new businesses that are moving into the yard have now been revealed online so I've added the other names below for the sake of completeness. Plus the bins have actually been installed - my nagging paid off!

The Room - flower shop @EnglishFlowerh

Childsdraw - not a kidswear shop @childsdraw 

Be London Fashion - African print fashion

Dirty Apron - cafe/supper club. Presumably with better hygiene standards than the name suggests

Frankie goes to Bollywood - 'Bombay-style diner'

Up on the carriage ramp, once they get the paving and planters back in place, there will be an aerial fitness gym Circus Fit and Depot, a shop selling 'designer-maker goods, coffee and tea along with a gallery space, creative workshops and events'.

And more to come, apparently...

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Changes to Deptford train services from August onwards

It's come to my notice on Twitter that a lot of you haven't really been paying attention the last couple of years about this whole train situation. For those whose local stations are Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich or Deptford, there's a shitload of inconvenience coming and you probably need to try and get your head around it before it actually happens. Or you might want to think about getting a bike.

Cannon Street/Charing Cross
I shall say this only once (although it won't be the first time I've said it..)

No more direct trains from Deptford to Charing Cross or Waterloo East. Ever.  They won't be coming back after the Thameslink work at London Bridge is finished, they are gone for ever.

Not gone like Boris Johnson, but actually gone. Direct trains into town are never going to be going anywhere other than London Bridge or Cannon Street.

But that's not all I'm afraid.

No direct access to London Bridge until January 2018
For the last couple of years we've been putting up with having to change at London Bridge in order to get to Waterloo, the West End and beyond by underground. From the end of August this option will not be available as trains on the Deptford line will not stop at London Bridge again until January 2018.

Trains on the Greenwich line will go direct into Cannon Street meaning that if you get on a London-bound train in Deptford your next stop will be Cannon Street.

Think of Monopoly when you get the 'go to jail' card.

Go to Cannon Street. Go directly to Cannon Street.

Unfortunately you can't bypass what's effectively a massive pain in the arse by walking to New Cross. They are getting the Go to Cannon Street card as well.  

If you want to travel to London Bridge, Waterloo East or Charing Cross stations from Deptford, your ticket will be valid on specific underground and bus routes and you will not be charged extra.

The approved routes are shown above and full details can be found by clicking this link. If you use an Oyster it's automatically calculated - and has been working fairly smoothly during the works the last couple of years - and paper tickets should be accepted on these routes. Unfortunately they are not particularly direct.

There's more bad news I'm afraid - especially if you need to commute during the August bank holiday week.

End of August commuting omnishambles
There will be NO TRAINS AT ALL from Deptford station from Saturday 27th August to Thursday 1st September inclusive. Buses will replace trains on the Greenwich Line and trains that normally go through New Cross to London Bridge will be terminating at New Cross.

As far as I can work out, there WILL be trains from Lewisham on the weekdays (Monday 29th to Thursday 1st) so if you do have to travel your best bet would probably be to get the DLR to Lewisham and then travel into town by train from there. But as that seems to be the only route into town from the southeastern metropolitan lines, I suspect Lewisham is going to be very busy.

For those in the north of Deptford you might opt to get the bus to North Greenwich or Canada Water and get the Jubilee Line. Whichever route you take, it's going to be a pain.

There's a lot of information on the Southeastern site although most of the useful stuff is hidden away and some of it is downright pointless; the video on this page for example. But there's no information about ticket acceptance for this week, so it's probably worth asking ahead, particularly if you have a season ticket.

This page is probably the most useful for individuals as you can create your own pocket timetable for a specific station and specific date/time if you are unable to get your head around what's happening.

More shit. 
Blogger fromthemurkydepths has trawled the new timetables that will kick off after the August Omnishambles and discovered that the Greenwich line will also suffer a reduced level of services in evening peak hours from September onwards due to some trains being diverted via the Lewisham line. Normally Deptford has 11 train services between 5pm and 7pm (and Greenwich has 13 including those that run fast through Deptford).

From September both stations will be served by just 8 trains in the same period - a cut of 27% for us and 38% for Greenwich. Nonsensical when you consider how quickly passenger numbers are rising as new developments become inhabited around this area. It will only add to the misery for travellers I'm afraid.

But on the bright side...
If you can ride a bike and have somewhere to store it, you should give it serious consideration, especially now that London's first Quietway has opened, and conveniently it runs all the way from Greenwich to Waterloo (via Deptford).

Much of the route is along traffic-calmed and traffic-free routes and some of the junctions are specially designed to be easier for cyclists to use. It's not perfect but it's a massive improvement on most of the city's cycle infrastructure and has certainly improved my regular bike commute.

If you are nervous or unsure about taking to the road, I recommend getting involved with a local cycle group such as Lewisham Cyclists or Greenwich Cyclists. They can offer advice and help, they organise regular rides around London and surrounding counties, and may even be able to connect you with a 'cycle buddy' who can help you find a commuting route.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Stable pizza coming to Deptford

As the final completion of the Deptford Project carriage ramp drags on, slowed down by Bower Contracting going bust and the carriage ramp planters and paving having to be dug up to address problems with leaks in the new shop units, there's at least some indication that it's going to be worth the wait when it does come.

West Country-based pizza chain The Stable is set to open a restaurant in the new unit at the back of St Paul's House and I am not going to hide the fact that I'm bloody delighted.

I used to love the Big Red pizzas and was gutted when Deptford's only pizza place went down the pan last year. There's a new restaurant there now - Wanderlust - which has a rather different food offering and adds to the choices available in Deptford but I've been missing having somewhere close-at-hand for a regular pizza binge.

The Yellow House in Surrey Quays serves delicious (and humongous) pizzas but it's not quite close enough for a weekly trip and in any case I always behave like such a glutton when I'm there that I have to limit my visits; the refurbished Black Horse pub has good quality pizzas courtesy of Sourdough Saloon but I have a massive issue with the fact that they are served in takeaway boxes, making it a very wasteful option (and it's a shame because the pub's beer is consistently good); there's pizzas available in New Cross at both the Rose and the New Cross House (be warned - at the latter you'll be expected to order pizzas with names like Don't Go Bacon My Heart); and there are several options in Greenwich ranging from long-time staples Pizza Express through the mini-chain Bianco43 to the downright bizarre 'museum pub' the Prince of Greenwich.

I don't mind admitting I've tried them all (except the Rose - no particular reason, probably need to address that in the immediate future!) and while there are some good options, there's always room for another pizza restaurant, especially one that's practically on my doorstep!

So what can we expect from The Stable when it opens?

According to their website, they don't have a standard menu, each restaurant has its own variation 'depending on ingredients available locally' but it's mostly built around pizzas (including vegan and gluten-free options), pies and salads. There's not much you can't get within a short distance from here so it will be interesting to see what options they are offering. Being from the West Country they are also big on cider; hopefully not to the exclusion of other traditional English brews....

They already have a restaurant in Whitechapel, where pizzas range from £8.50 to £13.50 but they do a special £10 meal on Tuesday nights, and you can have a pie for under a tenner too. Many of the ingredients on their Whitechapel menu seem to come from Dorset in any case, so I suspect we'll be getting a very similar offering.

My mouth is watering at the idea of curried goat pie, and pizzas featuring crab and smoked mackerel pizza. I suspect I'll be a mass of indecision on my first visit.