Thursday 31 May 2012

Jubilee street party

If street parties are your thing, get down to New Cross this weekend where they are celebrating the Jubilee on Saturday 2 June.

The reborn library organisation New Cross Learning, St James' School, the Hobgoblin Pub and local church have got together to put on a Jubilee Street party in Hatcham Village, New Cross from 2-6pm.

The street will be closed for the family-friendly day and people are asked to bring food to share for a street party.

There will be organised games and entertainments with a stage put on by the Madcap Coalition, starring local bands and schoolchildren, as well as a bar.

"We wanted to celebrate the Jubilee in style," said Gillian Hart, Chair of New Cross Learning. "And this lots of local organisations coming together to put on a party. If you think about how you'd organise a street party in a village, you'd want the pub, library, church and local school involved. We've got a strong community in New Cross so we wanted to do the same thing here."

Among the entertainments will be

-a tug of war
- human fruit machine
- tombola
- stage with street dance, acapella, and bands

Two local knitting groups have created a huge knitted Union Jack specially for the occasion, which will be on display. There are also original items from Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation on display in New Cross Learning, organised by the local history society.

"The flag looks amazing: it's been pieced together really painstakingly by our volunteers, and we're hoping to either raffle or sell it to raise funds for New Cross Learning," says Kathy Dunbar, vice chair of New Cross Learning.

One of the fire engines from the local fire station will be on display at St James Road.

At the same time, New Cross Learning will be holding a book sale to raise funds. 

St James Church is to host a free play reading by a local writer and journalist, Swordwater, at 5pm, as  part of a series of events across the country to mark the millennium of the martyrdom of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Alfege at the hands of Viking raiders in Greenwich.

Secrets of Deptford High Street

Shh! Deptford High Street is going to be in focus over the next few weeks, but there's an element of secrecy surrounding matters.

Next Wednesday 6 June BBC2 broadcasts the first episode in its new series 'The secret history of our streets', and the episode focussing on Deptford High Street will be first. It's difficult to know what to expect of this, considering that the programme makers seem to be trying to shoehorn 125 years' history into half an hour.

Time Out's preview gives some indication, suggesting it will be a mix of the usual cliches and some more interesting stuff such as the discovery of council documents suggesting the slum clearance programme that destroyed many of the streets in the northern end of Deptford were unnecessary.

Apparently regular High Street 'celebrity' Harry Hayward is not among the local characters interviewed in the film, so at least not all the cliches about Deptford are being trotted out. As for me, I'm looking forward to finding out which market trader thinks it's 'an angry high street' where 'no-one likes anyone'. I could put forward a guess of at least two or three miserable sods whom I wouldn't be surprised to hear coming out with something like that.

The first episode airs on Wednesday 6 June at 9pm on BBC2.

Meanwhile this Friday 1 June sees the launch of 'Secret Soundtrack', an audio artwork by Jay Harris, which will be accessible throughout June at The Deptford Project café, Bearspace gallery, Arch Materials and Deli X.

Jay's press release explains: "Secret Soundtrack uses '3D sound' recorded in Deptford Market, to create a theatrical atmosphere that people can experience as they wander around the market. Sound art, as a relatively undiscovered art form, seems like the perfect way to bring attention to one of south London’s lesser-known gems: Deptford High Street."

The main drawback is that in order to take part, you will need a smart phone with a QR Code reader and a pair of earphones (although Jay has suggested he plans to make MP3 files available on his website for people to download as an alternative for those who don't have smart phones). Scanning QR Codes on posters in the businesses named above will take you to the Secret Soundtrack website where you will be given instructions on what to do next.

Jay did give me an MP3 file to preview of his work, but he recommends that you listen to it while visiting the market, and I've not had chance to do that yet so I can't report on whether the work is successful.

He says: "You will be encouraged to explore the market while listening to the audio streamed from the website, making sure not to drown out the live sounds. You can expect to hear sounds recorded in the market, reproduced in such a way as to become something new when played in conjunction with listening to the live sounds around you." He has also created a separate audio atmosphere for The Deptford Project café which will be on display there from 1st – 8th June.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Twinkle Park

Just over the border in Greenwich borough is one of Deptford's best kept secrets. Twinkle Park is right at the end of Watergate Street and it's a place you might only happen upon accidentally. But when you've been once, you will occasionally be drawn back to this tiny cobbled street a stone's throw from the river.

When I visited it yesterday it was the busiest I've ever seen it - a construction worker from the adjoining Paynes & Borthwick Wharf development (more of that tomorrow) was taking a shady break on one of the benches, opposite a sleepy looking chap enjoying a can of beer on the other side of the pond. While I was there a fourth visitor joined us, although she preferred to read her book under the 'bandstand' type structure in the adjoining Charlotte Turner Gardens.

The pond looks particularly lovely surrounded by a band of yellow irises in bloom and their green spiky leaves, its surface almost totally covered in the tiny little leaves of some type of pond weed.

Teeny tiny moorhen chicks

Five very young moorhen chicks - so small they could have been on their first outing - were struggling to paddle through the weed, led on by mum.

You would hardly think you were in Deptford!

 Twinkle Park Trust, which runs the park, is holding its annual summer festival on Sunday 17th June, so if you haven't been yet, it would be a good time to visit. And if you have been, you might like to find out about the proposals for the final works to Charlotte Turner Gardens, which are to be installed later this year. The festival takes place from 2pm–7pm and includes family activities such as DJ Stormy playing reggae music, Artyparty making animal masks, and pond dipping. The Paul Zec Jazz Quintet will play from 4pm–7pm.

Friday 25 May 2012

Fordham Park planting

Pootling around on the bike this morning I was happy to see that the planting and turf in Fordham Park is starting to mature and really give the park some character. Of course you have to overlook the bits of rubbish blowing around the pathways - inevitable given the footfall - but in general it strikes me as a rather well-maintained public space.

At the entrance from the Woodpecker estate, the shaded grassy hillocks where the spring flowers bloom are still unmown and currently covered by some beautiful purple flowers.

Next to Deptford Green school, a whole range of planting presumably intended to withstand arid conditions is flourishing - the lavender in particular looks stunning, and I was pleased to notice a couple of small sea buckthorn bushes among the grasses and other plants. (There are lots of sea buckthorn bushes - usually fully laden with fruit for those keen foragers among my readers - around the tip of the Greenwich peninsula).

On the east edge of the park a different planting regime has been used, including some beautiful yellow broom which is just coming into flower.

The turf of the football field seems to have fully recovered from its disastrous, waterlogged start. It might have been painful to have the field fenced off for so many months, but it seems to have done the trick in giving the grass the chance to establish itself properly at last. Can't comment on the properties of the field for playing footy or other games - hopefully it's not too lumpy - but it certainly looks pretty lush.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Bye bye old station!

Second phase of the station work is now well under way with the old ticket office and stairs half demolished.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Podia projects

Strange word, podia. That's the plural of podium in case you were wondering. Nice to see a bit of grammatical correctness going on, considering the fact that 'stadiums' now seems to be the universally-accepted plural of 'stadium'.

Anyhow you may have heard about the Podia projects, an Olympic-themed art project organised by Lewisham Council and drawing on Olympic funding. The council press release describes them thus:

"For London 2012, Lewisham’s temporary public art installation project takes the podia out of the arena and drops new fantasy versions across the borough. A playful response to the building fanfare around 2012 – five winners’ podia to ensure that ‘everyone’s a winner’. APT, The Deptford Project, Deptford X and Goldsmiths, University of London have selected creative teams to create these new pieces, to begin in April 2012.

Pop Up Podiums [Editor's note: Grrr! At least be consistent with your podia!] is one of the outstanding projects granted the London 2012 Inspire mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme, which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the 2012 Games."

The locations for the podia were revealed back in April - they are the Deptford Lounge, 1st Bowl in Lewisham, Goldsmiths College and the roof of APT on Creekside 'with one more to be announced'.

Well if you pop into the Deptford Lounge you can have a go on our most local podium, designed by Carlos Quinones from Boro and Zoe Hamilton-Peters. Shown here in test at the APT Gallery, it has different pictures you can wind round to create your own 'winner' before having a photo taken with your head peeking over the top.

Zoe would love people to take photos of themselves on the podium and upload them to Facebook, and she has set up a page  to encourage you to share them publicly.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

New website for Deptford High Street

I'm delighted to be announce the arrival of a new website about Deptford High Street (and its immediate surrounds I assume..) which quietly went live yesterday at

There's quite a few articles on the website already, including some renderings showing the other bits of the station that are yet to be built, Richard Endsor's presentation about the Lenox project which he gave at the Convoys Wharf open day, an interview with illustrator Mike Hall, and quite a few other bits and pieces.

The site looks good and hopefully will be a useful addition to the hyperlocal blogging world of SE8 - backing up the other local sites and expanding to fill the gaps that we bloggers, most of whom work solo and often juggle other commitments, can't always cover. 

According to 'about us':  
"This site is formed around a loose collection of Deptford residents and businesses working together. We’ve not got a specific aim in mind, or a grand plan; we just want to bring people together, and to be resource for news, information and comment about what’s going on in and around Deptford. 

"We’re not part of the council, part of the government, a charity or even any sort of a formal organisation. We’re just a bunch of like-minded people who think that, actually, Deptford has quite a unique place in modern London. It is a place that has a distinct character, and is still very much formed around its high street – a high street which is increasingly vibrant, and leading the regeneration of the area."

The site is looking for contributors, so get in touch if you have something about Deptford you want to share or fancy getting your writing published.

Welcome Deptford High Street!