Camberwell Fair is back on 31st August 2019

Camberwell Fair returns for the fifth time (in its modern incarnation) on the 31st August from 12–9pm, on Camberwell Green. Can’t find any details, but expect the usual food, drink, crafts, and music. You can find more information on Facebook (if you use it).

As mentioned, this is the revival of the fair which previously ran from 1279–1855 until it was shut down by the authorities for ‘immoral and riotous behaviour’ (which you can still find on the Green in a more limited fashion).

For these three days the residents of Camberwell were compelled to witness disgusting and demoralizing scenes in which they were powerless to prevent.

Last year’s fair had some great information about the history of Camberwell and the fair (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund) printed up on banners which are still hanging on the Green, but they’ve also passed them to me to make available online.

There are eight PDF documents: The History of Camberwell and it’s Fair; Origins of Camberwell Fair; Camberwell Fair: A History; The Faces of Camberwell; Camberwell Through the Ages; School Education in Camberwell; Rich Pickings for Pickpockets; and What Led to the Abolition of Camberwell Fair in 1855?

They’re well worth some of your time to read.

New Places to Eat, a Local Identity, and a Plan for the Area

Second post of the year! I’m getting giddy! As I was writing this I realised that I’ve just missed the 15th anniversary of this blog; I wrote my first post on 1st July 2004. Wow! I would say ‘time flies’, but it doesn’t always.

Anyway, here’s a round-up of some of the more interesting things that have happened recently.

Nandine & More Flour to the People

A couple of new eating establishments have opened. More Flour To The People! is a bakery, cafe, and pizzeria on Coldharbour Lane. If bread is your thing this is the place to go; lovely home-baked loaves for sale, nice brunch options during the day, and very generous and tasty pizza in the evenings. Well worth a visit.

And Camberwell favourites Nandine have opened on Church Street in the former Queen’s (and very short-lived Fat Phil’s). With the new premises they have a full kitchen so can really go all out on the food, and it’s delicious; sweet and spicy and generous. Mostly small plates for sharing, although the kebabs and chicken wings are really big. They have an alcohol license now as well, with a small but well-selected wine list and a few local beers. I think this place is exceptional, and all the feedback I’ve seen has been incredibly positive too.

Also coming soon to Camberwell are New Cross favourites, The London Particular. They’ll be opening in the old Town Hall on Peckham Road soon.

Camberwell Identity

A sign reading “Camberwell” painted on a wall
Lionel Stanhope’s Camberwell sign, Camberwell New Road

The image shown above (and at the top of this page if you’re not using a mobile) shows the new mural on the railway bridge on Camberwell New Road. It’s painted by Lionel Stanhope, who’s responsible for similar murals across South London, and the colours were chosen by pupils at Sacred Heart School.

The mural is part of a new Camberwell identity project by SE5 Forum, Camberwell Society and Camberwell Arts with the community and businesses. Its aim is “to bring to life Camberwell’s unique, vibrant identity and make everyone feel proud of Camberwell”.

The Camberwell identity group is currently raising money to install raised lamppost banners along Denmark Hill; the Mayor of London has pledged to match donations up to the target amount, so please contribute if you can.

Camberwell Area Plan

The Southwark Community Action Network recently held a public consultation for ideas to improve the area. The boards that were shown are all online [PDF download]. There’s a lot to talk about; here are a few things that stood out:

  • Six major new housing/social developments are planned: Camberwell Lanes, on the Butterfly Walk/Morrisons car park land; Respublica, an arts/co-working/shared living space on Valmar Trading Estate; the Camberwell and Abellio bus garages; and the Magistrates Court on Camberwell Green North area.
  • Three public space projects, with better walking routes including part-pedestrianisation, at Windsor Walk, Camberwell Station Road, and the Wilson Road crossing of Camberwell Church Street.
  • A widened Camberwell Green with shared walking and cycling space occupying the existing third south-bound lane, and a ‘super-crossing’ with all-green phase, like at Oxford Circus, to make it easier to cross the junction.
  • The ‘low line’ walking route from the former Camberwell Station along the railway arches to Medlar Street, eventually linking up arches all the way to Bankside.

Some of these ideas are new to me, and some have been carried forward from 2017’s Area Vision for Camberwell. It seems from the boards that the reopening of Camberwell Station is still hoped for despite TfL’s previous lack of enthusiasm.

There’s a lot contained in here so I urge you to take a look for yourself and email camberwellplan@​southwark.​gov.​uk with your feedback.

Showing My Face

The Peckham Peculiar recently ran a special edition focusing on Camberwell, which had an interview with your humble author. I don’t usually talk about myself much here, but after 15 years running this blog I was quite proud.

Goodbye Cruson

Photo by Tom Leighton. Buy a print.

Well, it’s been a minute since I last wrote anything here, but I feel like I can’t let the end of a little piece of Camberwell history pass without recording it.

In case you haven’t heard, Aris and Maria of Cruson are retiring and the shop has been sold. They took over the shop in 1971—or at least, Aris think so, but nobody’s really sure. And they’ve been a pretty much permanent fixture on Church Street ever since.

When they came to Camberwell the area had a lot of Cypriot immigrants who’d moved over here in the 1960s—so many that the area was informally known as ‘Little Cyprus’. Even today there’s Sophocles bakery, Vineyard Greek Taverna, St Mary’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral; when I first moved here back in the mid-90s there was also another Greek Taverna on the corner of Camberwell Grove, and Tadim cafe on Church Street, and Paul’s Continental Olive Shop. And there was Cruson.

Everybody knows Cruson. The shop with its green awning, and its racks of fruit, vegetables, flowers, and plants on the street, and its interior a time-capsule of a high street long since gone. It’s a local landmark, appearing in much art and photography.

And everybody knows Aris and Maria—Aris especially, as he was the face of Cruson. In all the time I’ve lived here, every morning before 8am Aris opened up the shop, and every evening at 9pm he closed it again. You can read some of his life story in this piece from the Peckham Peculiar last year.

When I came to London I was trained as a hairdresser and I got a job working in a hairdressing salon on Old Compton Street in Soho. But times were difficult because everyone wanted to have long hair so you didn’t get the regular customers coming in like before. Just as I learnt how to be a barber I also learnt how to be a greengrocer.

He was also featured in a BBC article about the changing face of the high street—and, as always, just referred to as Aris.

It’s Aris, just Aris. No one knows my other name. If you say it, you write it down, everyone will say, ‘who is that man, I never heard of him’.

Tom Leighton, who took the iconic photo at the top of this post, has made a lovely short film about a day in the life of Cruson. Here’s a preview:

I wish Aris and Maria a very happy retirement. I’ll miss dropping in there to hear him say, in the Cypriot accent he never lost in almost 60 years, “hello, young man!”.

At 78, I think I should try out retirement. I am not sure how I will find it, but it’s now or never!

TfL say there’s no business case to reopen Camberwell station

TfL have released their business case for the reopening of Camberwell station, which says that despite the benefits it would bring to the area, it doesn’t justify the cost.

After a long delay, TfL have released their business case for reopening Camberwell station, and the verdict is:

A reinstated National Rail station at Camberwell would deliver local benefits but in overall terms would not be a good use of public funds at this time.

So that’s a no.

It seems that, despite being the best option of all proposed transport changes (including an enhanced bus service, better walking and cycling options, and a tram), the scheme would benefit Camberwell but not enough to justify the cost.

The decision would appear to hinge largely on: 1) that proposed redevelopment around the area wouldn’t bring enough new housing; and 2) the negative impact of an extra stop on the journey times of commuters to and from Kent. To which I would reply: 1) what about all the new homes that are currently being / have already been built around the Green; and 2) who cares?

Local politicians who campaigned for the station reopening are obviously disappointed. Harriet Harman MP said:

Deeply disappointed TfL not planning to reopen Camberwell Station! No tube, packed buses and very dangerous overcrowding at Denmark Hill & Nunhead stations. Solution urgently needed before an accident happens.

Harriet Harman MP

The point about overcrowding at Denmark Hill is very salient; with no solution expected until April of next year at the very earliest (and even that date has no degree of certainty), and recent news of reduced bus services, our transport links are worsening.

Councillor Kieron Williams picked up on this:

Very disappointing news, Camberwell needs better transport, rail has to be part of long-term answer, as a council we will continue to work with local residents, hospitals, businesses, SE5 Forum to make that case.

Councillor Kieron Williams

One possible cause for hope is that the business case notably excludes the local hospitals, King’s and Maudsley, who employ thousands and help many, many more. Perhaps this could be used to persuade TfL to take a second look, and that’s certainly reflected in the reactions of Helen Hayes MP and Councillor Johnson Situ:

It is very disappointing that the business case does not appear to have given any weight to the critical transport issues facing staff at Kings and the Maudsley. This is a serious flaw in the government’s methodology which means that the business case for Camberwell Station must be reconsidered.

Helen Hayes MP

We firmly believe that including the use of the station by hospital visitors would make a significant difference to the outcome of the business model, and it should be reviewed.

Councillor Johnson Situ

What this means for Camberwell in terms of Southwark’s area vision is yet to be known; a large part of the regeneration of the area around Station Road seemed to be contingent upon the reopening of the station. Hopefully we can get some clarity on that, and even more hopefully perhaps the business case can be reassessed with our local hospitals and healthcare services in mind.

You can read more about this story on the website of the Southwark Community Action Network, who’ve been active in this campaign since the start.

Camberwell Fair is back on 1st September

The heatwave may be over, but Summer’s not finished yet in Camberwell. There are a couple of events coming up in the next few weeks.

First is the Brunswick Park Summer Fete, this Saturday the 18th. Surrey Docks farm will provide a petting zoo, and there will be games, competitions, and food and drink. It runs from 1pm to 4pm.

Then Camberwell Fair returns to the Green on Saturday 1st September from 12–9pm. Here’s their official press release:


Now in its 4th year, the Fair [is] a chance for all the community to come together and celebrate themselves, each other and the local area.

The fair will offer 3 music stages, 30 stalls showcasing local community organisations and independent traders, games, food, bars and a special daytime carnival led by street band Kinetika Bloco.

In addition to the Fair itself, this year Camberwell Fair offers a range of FREE activities in the local area in the run up to the Fair. More info on all of these below and on our website:

  • Carnival Costume Making Workshops on the Aylesbury Estate (in association with Latin American Multicultural Society)
  • Poetry workshops on the Aylesbury Estate (in association with Hammer and Tongue)
  • Artist Showcase at Louie Louie in Walworth – 17 August – a chance for aspiring artists to compete for a chance to perform at the festival – email oddmotionmedia@​gmail.​com to sign up
  • Rare Doings at Camberwell’ – a Heritage Lottery funded project to explore the roots of the Fair.