Sunday, 8 July 2007

Made in Deptford: the aftermath

After my rant on Friday, I decided to crash the party on Friday evening - as it turned out, there was very little crashing required. It was being held in 'the Cafe with no Name' - a tent and some tables in the old yard next to the station. Despite the fact that it hadn't been advertised anywhere sensible, the organisers failed to realise that in Deptford, stoking up a BBQ after 7pm is tantamount to taking out a double-page spread in the AA's house magazine (that's Alcoholics Anonymous, not the Automobile Association).

By the time I arrived, about 8.45pm, there was only water left to drink and every time a tray of chicken arrived from the BBQ, there was an unholy scrum as young creatives and hardened drunks competed for the spoils. I didn't stay long, just had a chat with Ozzi from the drycleaners, then made my excuses, as they say.

The tent and cafe stayed for the duration of the festival, intended to promote the new market that is planned for the station yard, apparently launching this autumn. It's going to be crafts, arts, collectables, fashion and food - presumably it will be more 'upmarket' than the traditional stalls in order not to compete. The new residential/live-work building and the station refurb are a little further down the line, it seems.

Well, this was the scene on Saturday in the disused car park on Hamilton Street. A fashion show of 'recycled' clothes designed by local students and sponsored by Chris Carey's Collections, one of the region's biggest employers. Ms Carey runs a clothes recycling business from the arches under the railway station, and is desperately looking for a new site for her business, where she can expand her currently £4 million turnover. Sadly, although there are some suitable premises locally, most of them are earmarked for redevelopment as apartments.

When I moved to Deptford, about two and a half years ago now, this car park was blocked off but still accessible on foot, and was a magnet to fly tippers and drug dealers. After about two years of constantly nagging the council, they finally agreed to fence it in, the plan being it would provide parking for businesses on the high street. This idea seems to have been abandoned - I know that the long-term plan for the site is to develop it for residential use - but it was great to see it actually in use this weekend.

On Sunday it was the home to Company of Cyclists, who brought many weird and wonderful bikes for us all to try - including the eight-seater I was so hoping for! I was one of the first on - and we were taken up and down the high street with a few sharp turns and many bemused glances from shoppers! I did come to grief on one of the recumbent bikes, and I found my legs were too short to safely attempt the Penny Farthing, but it was great fun, for kids and adults alike!

I made the effort on Sunday morning to stroll down Evelyn Street at about 9am and see what was happening. The French market was already flogging its wares, looking oddly out of place on that scruffy triangle of shops next to the John Evelyn pub, but people were milling about and enjoying the music, the sunshine and the sense of occasion.

The trail of sponsors vehicles came first throwing out freebies and blasting out loud music, tooting horns and generally being annoying to anyone who was hoping for a lie-in. This chap wandered out in his carpet slippers, clutching a pint of beer -not sure if it was last night's leftovers or if he was starting early.

I got chance to go home for a cup of tea before the riders came along - but it was very much a case of 'blink and you'll miss it'. They were sandwiched in between endless vans and motorbikes with flashing lights, and the phalanx of cars with racks of spare bikes on the top. By now, the streets were quite crowded, and most people wandered back up the high street to check out the other festival events. There was very much a chilled-out vibe in the town centre, it was great to see that people were enjoying themselves, and enjoying Deptford!

Incidentally, Chet were very good! Look out for them...!


Anonymous said...

Hi Knit Nurse,

Firstly it’s great to hear you did make it down on Friday night to the RSVP event. And it’s a shame you had nothing good to say about an event that we try and put together with very little money and the money we do get goes behind the bar and some food as a gesture to our guests and network that we have built up over the last 18 months in Deptford.

I also wanted to point out that it was actually RSVP that asked Cathedral at the very last minute if they could borrow their space and borrow their tent to hold our regular quartly event which they kindly said yes: as long as we managed the space and that it was all clean and ready for the gates to open on Saturday for MID festival. has events every three months the next will be in sept if you register to the newsletter you will have more notice about plans and maybe you might come along to one of our events and enjoy yourself

Good luck with your entry for the naming of the site.


DDKK said...

Thanks for your comments and clarifications, Rebecca

I agree, it's a shame I couldn't say anything good about it either, but I'm just reporting my experience as both a local creative and a local resident. Obviously there is a need for better communication and marketing by RSVP, as this was the first time I've heard of the organisation. Yes, I signed up on Friday before the party - let's hope I have better things to report in future.