Monday, 30 August 2010

Take part in Deptford X

Also on the subject of Deptford X, you don't have to be a working artist to take part in the festival. The Deptford X Challenge is open to anyone living Deptford, or who has a business in Deptford.

The organisers are inviting locals to create an X and then put the X in their window between 20 September to 4 October. The X can be in any material, shape or size. It can be in any window, although it's better if it's one people can see.

The person who creates the best X will win £50!

All you need to do is to fill in the form on the website before 17 September and then send a picture of your X is place, by Friday 8 October.

Full details here.

Volunteers wanted for Deptford X

As our annual arts festival gears up for its launch at the end of the month, the organisers are looking for volunteers to help with promotion, gallery and exhibit invigilation, general help and public interaction.

Anyone is welcome to apply; an interest in the visual arts and experience of working in the public realm are desirable but not essential. Volunteers will get an allowance towards food and transport costs, a Deptford X t-shirt and those aged 18-25 will get a volunteering certificate.

For more details or to apply, visit the website.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Deptford trees: Turkish Hazel

As well as an aged Mulberry tree, Sayes Court Gardens is home to three Turkish Hazel trees (Corylus Colurna).

I noticed one of the trees as I passed through the gardens yesterday - the ground beneath what I thought at a glance was a lime tree was carpeted with peculiar looking seed cases and was being raided by several squirrels. The seed cases are like regular hazel nut cases but look like they need a good haircut, and rather than being a bush, like the common hazel, it is a tree.

Although not native to England, it seems that they are fairly common in London as they are tolerant of urban conditions.

The nuts are edible but are small and have a thick shell, so perhaps they are best left for the squirrels to fight over!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Hatcham Gardens relocated to Deptford

Not really, but it seems that the author of this article in Building Design thinks so - presumably due to the fact that the press release about Hatcham Gardens' makeover refers to the Deptford arboretum. Poor New Cross doesn't get a look in.

It's also a shame that the photographs were presumably taken just after the period of hot weather and don't show the new space to its best advantage.

I'll be writing something about the linear arboretum project in due course.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Public meeting about Tidemill School

A public meeting about the future of Tidemill School will be held at the Albany on Monday 6 September from 7pm.

Many people - both parents and local residents - are concerned that the plans to make Tidemill School an academy are being rushed through without proper consultation. The two month 'consultation' took place over the summer holidays and the school's governors are planning to make a final decision next month.

There is also a petition demanding full consultation before any decision is made - this can be signed at or

The campaign can be contacted by emailing or 020 8692 8939

For more information about the campaign visit

Deptford Green School contract signed

I'm a little late with this story but I don't think any of the other local bloggers have picked up on it so still worth highlighting.

Deptford Green School has won the dubious honour of being the first school rebuilding scheme to reach financial close since cuts in the national school rebuilding programme.

The £28.6m school will be built by contractor Costain, as part of Lewisham Council’s £400m BSF programme which involves the major refurbishment or renewal of 12 secondary schools including three special educational needs schools.

Deptford Green will be a 1100 place mixed comprehensive school; the development consists of temporary school facilities, a multi-use games area, a main school and decant from the temporary facilities and demolition of the existing schools and landscaping.

The main school is planned to open 3 September 2012.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Nollywood film festival

Here's a bit of advance notice of the 'Nollywood Now' festival that will take place in October at the Moonshot Centre in Fordham Park in New Cross.

It's claimed to be the UK's first ever Nigerian film festival, and is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence, as well as taking place during Black History Month. It's being organised by Phoenix Fry, who is also behind the Deptford Film Club and who explains the significance of the event thus:

The Nigerian film industry, popularly known as Nollywood, exploded at the beginning of the 1990s and is now the world’s second largest film industry in the world in terms of number of annual film production. The industry has an estimated turnover of US$250 million, and produces around 2400 films a year.

Films are rarely released in cinemas, but are distributed in DVD and VCD format in markets and shops for home viewing. In London, many Nollywood fans rent or buy their films from shops in Deptford, Peckham and Dalston. In addition, Odeon cinemas organise occasional late night screenings and popular premiere events.

Nigerian film is popular with audiences from across Africa. In 2006, 42% of Nollywood films were made in English language, 37% in Yoruba and 18% in Hausa. The industry has taken influence from all around the world (including Bollywood melodrama, Latin American soap operas, low-budget American/British horror and Hong Kong gangster flicks) but transform these influences to address local concerns.

Between 6th and 12th October, one film will be shown each night - details of the films are here. Tickets are due to go on sale during September.

Phoenix has also been interviewed about the festival in a piece in the South London Press, along with the magnificently-monikered Nollywood fan Chuks “Chocolate” Manly-Rollings.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

'Silent' cinema at the Deptford Project

Don your wireless headphones for three weekends of classic films showing at the Deptford Project next month.

'Silent' cinema works along the same lines as the silent discos that have become popular for late night slots at summer festivals - the audience can hear what's going on through their headphones but observers don't get the amplified noise, only the shrieks, laughter, comments of the people in the audience. Great for holding outdoor screenings/discos when you don't want to piss off local residents. The only difference being that at silent discos it's normally two competing djs broadcasting on two different frequencies, with the dancers choosing the soundtrack they prefer. Hmm, could be useful for foreign films....?!

Showings are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday over three consecutive weekends in September, each with a theme - 80s classics, horror London and cult movies. Some great classics there - the Dame having seen almost all of these first time round!

There will be food and drinks for sale from the Deptford Project (licensed I wonder? can anyone advise?). Tickets are £10 and are available from here.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Norman Road industrial estate redevelopment has published a story about plans to redevelop the old industrial estate on Norman Road.

The site is just over the other side of the Creek - a collection of grotty old industrial sheds sandwiched between the DLR and Greenwich High Road - when it was in use it provided a quick cut-through for pedestrians between Deptford and Greenwich, but it has been shut off for some years now and serves mainly as a dumping ground for old tyres.

Cathedral Group, the developers behind the ongoing saga of the Deptford Station carriage-ramp redevelopment project, are proposing to build 500 student apartments, 200 residential units and a 125-bed hotel on the site. Unwisely in my opinion they have dubbed it 'the Movement' (because if it turns out to be a pile of poo, it may become renamed the Bowel Movement).

The publication of renderings etc is still some time off - at this stage the developers have been asked to submit an environmental impact assessment (find the document here) for the proposal. Greenwich council's planning department is worried about the possible impact of this 'major development' so close to their sensitive heritage centre.

In the details I've seen so far, nothing higher than 11 stories is mentioned. Without wishing to sound glib (11 stories is after all still pretty high, especially in the context of Greenwich town centre) it's fascinating that only just a stone's throw across the Creek a series of tall buildings (Old Seager Distillery (26 stories) and Convoys Wharf (up to 46 stories) as well as the second phase of the Creekside Village) are being thrown up without a care.

The environmental impact assessment makes a lot of mention of the protected views from various places in Greenwich Park and surrounds, but my attention was focussed more on the transport impact assessment, given the ongoing discussions about proposed changes to traffic flow in Greenwich. The assessment claims that the new development will have no impact on traffic because 'total parking spaces provided will be low' and there is a station nearby. No figures are furnished for the number of parking spaces that will be available - in fact the only mention of transport is that one cycle parking place will be provided for each two student apartments. Perhaps all students share tandems these days.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Street drinking control

Deptford has been highlighted as one of three areas where street drinking is a problem, in a report that was considered by Lewisham's Mayor & Cabinet meeting last month.

The council wants to use a Designated Public Place Order to implement a borough-wide street drinking control zone. This effectively means that the police have the power to stop people drinking in public 'to assist in tackling problematic street drinking linked to anti-social behaviour'.

Three areas have been highlighted - Deptford, Rushey Green and Sydenham - and as a result, the report says, the police recommended that the drinking control zone be put in place across the whole borough.

The report does propose other measures as well as the borough-wide zone; engagement with drinkers and continuation of outreach services and stepping up enforcement of licensing breaches. What resourcing will be available for these measures - particularly outreach services - is questionable, with the council intending to cut its spending by a third over the next few years.

One further proposal is the creation of 'designated drinking areas' within which street drinking would be tolerated, subject to certain 'acceptable behaviour' conditions. Apparently Rushey Green has been suggested as one such area and the council agreed to investigate other areas. It all sounds a bit arse-about-face to me.

The south end of Deptford High Street and the area outside the post office are popular places for street drinkers to congregate and invariably the scene of drunken brawls and inconsequential rows at various times during the day. There is no question that in some cases street drinking leads to 'anti-social behaviour' in Deptford, although the extent to which people perceive it to be a problem varies depending on the individual. As someone who is fairly streetwise, self-confident and has lived in London for many years - and crucially does not suffer it on my doorstep - I regard it as nothing more than a bit of a nuisance.

The way other people perceive it - particularly those who live or have businesses nearby, who are themselves vulnerable or less self-confident - undoubtedly differs.

The question is whether this measure is necessary, appropriate or effective.

The police already have powers to deal with people who are drunk and disorderly. By implementing a drinking control zone, the council is additionally giving them the power to decide who can drink in public and who cannot. Experience shows that such discretionary powers, while applied as intended in the majority of cases, are also very much open to abuse.

Drinking control zones already exist in Lewisham & Catford town centres, as well as Upper Brockley Road. An independent review of these zones that was carried out last year for the council concluded that they were limited in their effectiveness, particularly in the medium to long term and additionally required extensive resourcing of support agencies to have any impact.

Changes in drinking culture - the loss of many public houses and increase in the price of alcohol in pubs, combined with the availability of very cheap alcohol in off-licences and supermarkets, have contributed to the increase in street drinking. The increase is not just among those who are alcohol-dependent, but also those on low incomes who seek social contact. It's also worth pointing out that drunkenness does not make everyone aggressive or troublesome - some people are aggressive when they are sober, while some become more mellow after a few drinks.

Introducing a borough-wide street drinking control is not the panacea to all ills, and the implementation of alcohol control zones creates unreasonable public expectations. A borough-wide control zone will not end street drinking.

Transpontine has made a convincing case against the need for a DPPO in Lewisham, as well as raising some of the broader issues involved.

A consultation period is in process - you can answer the questions by taking the survey here up until 27 August, although Transpontine doubts from the tone of the press release that this is anything more than box ticking. In fact he's right - the decision has already been taken by the council and was agreed in the Mayor & Cabinet meeting last month. The report to the council explains the urgency of the matter by saying that it needs the power to be in place 'for a period when street drinking is generally at its peak' - which presumably is the summer months.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

London Particular

Lizzie over at Hollow Legs has reviewed the new London Particular cafe that has just opened in New Cross.

The pictures of the food make it all look very appetising so I will try and nip over there soon to make my own assessment. Waiting half an hour for a coffee doesn't sound too good though - hopefully just teething problems.

Brockley Central also has an interview with the local chef responsible for setting it up.

Monday, 9 August 2010

A landmark slowly disappears

I took this picture just over a week ago as I passed the entrance to the old Amylum Works on Tunnel Avenue. When I drove past a couple of days ago I noticed the buildings had shrunk a little further. Catch them before they are gone.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Raw Deal for cyclists

Changes to the traffic lights at Deal's Gateway next to Deptford Bridge Station have scarcely been noticed by motorists - but for cyclists they have created a very dangerous junction, potentially lethal.

For many years, road traffic exiting Greenwich High Road onto Blackheath Road has had its own green phase in the traffic light cycle - initally because the road into Deal's Gateway did not exist, and then when it was built the two traffic phases were still kept separate. The majority of this traffic turns right from Greenwich High Road, towards Deptford and New Cross.

Now TFL in its wisdom has seen fit to combine green phases for the two roads into a single phase, making the junction extremely dangerous for cyclists coming from Deal's Gateway and the cycle path in Brookmill Road, wanting to continue towards Greenwich or turn up Blackheath Road (the only two manoeuvres likely from here, since cyclists going towards Deptford will go round the back of the DLR station and over the crossing by Lewisham College.

There are two things badly wrong with this junction.

Firstly, and fundamentally, this combination of two single phases into one is inherently dangerous, given the obvious incompatibility of the traffic movements from the two routes, and should never have been implemented.

From my own experience and that of other cyclists in the area, drivers emerging from Greenwich High Road are not only failing to give way to cyclists, some are displaying aggressive behaviour towards them, perhaps under the impression that the two phases are still in operation and that the cyclists are merely ignoring the red lights. Unfortunately the history of the junction and the fact that these motorists have had priority for so long makes re-education a very slow process - if not impossible. Meanwhile cyclists are being put at risk every day.

Secondly, the stop line for traffic emerging from Deal's Gateway is way too far back from the junction. If cyclists stop at this line, by the time the lights go to green they cannot get across the junction before the traffic from Greenwich High Road begins turning. If they shuffle forwards to the edge of Blackheath Road in order to nip across the junction before the turning vehicles, they cannot see the traffic lights.

In its response to letters from Greenwich cyclists, TFL admits that there is a problem with the junction but seems to believe that the signs that it has erected - 'signal priorities changed' - are sufficient to address this and that moving the stop line forward a bit will make all the difference. Unfortunately this is not going to happen until later in the year. There is no intention to reconsider the signal timings or phases - all for the greater good of traffic on Blackheath Road.

'we are developing a proposal to relocate the position of the stopline in Deal's Gateway - this is by approximately 14 metres towards the junction with the Advanced Cycle Stopline retained. I would like to assure you that we will aim to deliver this before the autumn. This will require relocation of signal poles and additional ducting under the footway. This will increase visibility of users in Deal's Gateway. Our proposed design includes carriageway markings in the junction to raise awareness of traffic in Greenwich High Road that they are turning right. We envisage this will reduce the instance of right turners from Greenwich High Road not giving way to ahead traffic and cyclists from Deal's Gateway.

We have considered changes to signal timings but we found this to be detrimental to overall junction capacity. As such, no changes to signal timings are proposed.

We consider that the signs installed to inform traffic that signal timings have changed are sited in appropriate locations, and the sign dimensions meet standards.'

Once the improvements are made it will be interesting to see what - if any - changes they bring to safety at the junction.

In the meantime, when I take that route by bike (mercifully infrequent for me) I will be using the crossing next to Deptford Bridge Station and then joining the Blackheath Road traffic to turn left into Greenwich High Road. I do hope my use of the crossing does not prove too detrimental to traffic flow.

If you want to comment on the safety of this junction, you should direct your comments to TFL's surface transport customer services. Having looked at the 'contact us' part of the website I suspect this will not be an easy process. And be prepared to nag for a response.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Surrey Docks City Farm Saturday market

This weekend Surrey Docks City Farm is hosting its monthly Saturday market - a great excuse to visit the farm if you haven't yet been, and if you have, it's a great excuse to go again and support the work they are doing.

Although it's not strictly speaking in the Deptford area, it's a very pleasant walk there through Surrey Docks and Russia Dock Woodland and is well worth the trip to see what changes have been taking place over the last few months.

One of the major improvements is the new Cafe Frizzante, which is open Wednesday to Sunday for homemade ice-cream, coffees, cakes and snacks, with roasts on Sundays.

For some weeks now, walkers and cyclists on the Thames path have enjoyed the opportunity to access the section of the path that runs through the farm, with a beautiful new gate (made in Deptford!) added at the west side. Previously a detour was necessary, but efforts by the farm's new manager Barry Mason got the route fully open - as well as improving access along the Thames path, I imagine this change will also increase visitor numbers with walkers and cyclists discovering the farm as they pass by.

It's a great place for kids to get close to animals (and probably for many in SE London to see farm animals in the flesh for the first time!). It's also a welcome oasis for wandering, sitting, chilling out and admiring the many little plots of fruit and veg dotted around the edges of the farm. The farm also has its own forge which is worth a look in itself.

The market on Saturday includes stalls selling handmade jewellery, pottery, beeswax candles and aromatic crafts, as well as sewing & craft workshops. It's free entry to the farm and the market, which opens at 10am.

Other things to try at the farm include a whole variety of summer holiday activities for children, a course on introduction to bee-keeping, arts and crafts classes such as the absolute beginners sewing classes on Tuesday evenings, 'grow your own beauty' classes and regular yoga sessions.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Alternative Deptford

Check out Deptford Visions for some alternative wedding pics, where Deptford Market is one of the stars!

Great pics, as always over on DV!