I used to live there

Blog regular TommyD has started a project about the east of Camberwell, the Southampton Way area, which is looking at the area’s history and development. He says:

Last autumn, someone slipped a photcopied newspaper article through our letter box — a story about a group in our neighbourhood deputised to look at regeneration of our ‘forgotten’ corner. I tried to get in touch and did speak to one lady (finally) who seemed to suggest they had run out of time and steam. Odd…they’d not even started. Then, Labour sent a ‘survey’ thorough before the local election asking vague questions again about our little ‘forgotten corner’. They weren’t serious survey questions, clearly intended to look like they were doing something. Maybe so.

I filled out the short survey and attached four pages!  Since, my efforts to find out about the results and what they intend to do have gone cold — perhaps they will pick it up post-swearing in.

In the meantime, I decided to find out the answers of what was happening, etc. for myself.  I’ve now decided to put them on a blog and produce a more robust survey. Eventually, I’m hoping to leaflet the neighbourhood with the blog web address and see if I can stir up some passion.

You can read more about his project at forgotten-camberwell.blogspot.com. If you live in the area, you can take a survey to give him more information.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

33 thoughts on “I used to live there”

  1. Thanks for the plug Peter. 25 have taken the survey and some great comments on the blog itself. Much appreciated.

  2. Really enjoyed the blog — will be keeping an eye on it in the future — hopefully the Cross River Tram will arrive sooner rather than later — it’s a no brainer, if you look at all the old archive photos of London all the communities where the Trams used to pass through had a vibrant selection of shops and businesses that were well cared for — funny that eh? Around where I live many of us are trying to convince Mayor Ken Livingstone to seriously consider an East London Line Extension Station at Loughborough Junction, also a forgotten corner of Camberwell/Brixton border (but a natural centre) that has been overlooked for years and has had a simular recent history to East Camberwell — In fact your blog might just have given me the inspiration to start one on Loughborough Junction…

  3. It’s all good stuff isn’t it?

    Tommy’s blog is nicely put together too.

    For those of you who went to the se5Forum meeting you might remember John Marten, who stood up to tell what the people on his table had come up with, and who said he was chair of the Southwark Police Sector working group.

    Well he lives in Valmar Road and set up FCOF group about, oh, many uears ago — the Forgotten Corner Of Camberwell — that is for Valmar, Crawford and the cross roads in between.

    Many forgotten corners make an invisible whole.

    How many people you meet from north of the river or out west say ‘Camberley?’ when you tell them you come from ‘Camberwell’. OR they say: ‘Camden?’ or ‘Where’s that then?’

    Or say ‘What a shlepp to get down there’.


  4. mark — once upon a time many decades ago — Camberwell Borough Council was considered one of the best run most progressive local authority administrations in Britain — It was only when it got swallowed up by Southwark Council in the 60’s that things changed forever — maybe it’s time for micro-management by local communities once again — Also Peckham was considered possibly the strongest self-sufficent working class community in London…it was solid — again, maybe it’s time to have smaller administrations because that way it’s less likely that certain parts of neighbourhoods get neglected…

  5. Forgotten Leopard Man of Peckham has won his magistrates court hearing to keep leopards. He sells tinned crocodile curry through his internet business, Edible, and in Selfridges, whatever that is, something to do with “self”, presumably. Anyway, I’ve eaten crocodile meat in Africa, it’s like nylon, a cross between chicken, fish, meat and nylon.

    Talking of forgotten corners, has anyone been to the Bickleigh? The Spar shop next door is great, better than any Spar you see in Wales or Cornwall.

  6. I’ve never been to the Bickleigh, although it’s just around the corner from my flat. Why bother, when the Cadeleigh arms is just as near?

    The Spar is my local shop, and it’s fine as long as you don’t want anything fresh or healthy. If it’s tinned or processed food you’re after, that’s the shop.

    The guys who own the shop are possibly the most unfriendly I’ve ever met; I’ve been going there for two years now, always with Hello, Please & Thanks — I rarely get more than a grunt in return. Once the guy had a laugh with me, because a drunk man was trying to chat me up.

  7. Ttrue, Peter, but them boys in the Spar shop deal well with they who come to harrass them from the Lettsom estate: “How much is yer 99p strong lager?” etc. That’s why they keep their distance from everyone. It was interesting in there after 911. Their talk was peppered with the words “Bin Laden”. A really nice similarly Pakistani girl, more English than they are, came in and said, “It’s a nightmare, isn’t it?” They all felt under scrutiny. They are proud, it’s quite good, really, and have all grown up from childhood in the shop.

    I cycled the Tour de Southampton Way this morning for my health. It’s so quiet in the daytime and there’s that vast open area of Burgess Park nearby, kindly created by the Luftwaffe. That old painted streetname sign high up on the corner house at the jct. with Soton Way “Rainbow Street SE5” is great. I wonder where the rainbow comes from, TommyD? The horse trough and ancient stone street lamp base at the jct. with Peckham Grove is a reminder how noisy with horses everywhere must have been and atmospheric with fresh horse poo. The Soton Way strip reminds me of cowboy towns in westerns — I mean, it’s on a human scale and full of all manner of folk from countries that were once in some empire or other. It makes you proud to be British or at least SE5ish that folk come here and make their way. Or am I being sentimental? It’s great in Peckham Library — full of people doing something they shouldn’t. Bettering themselves with books and the like!

    Men with clipboards were outside the Bricklayers discussing its future.

  8. Not sure on the Rainbow Street, but my latest little favourite pastime shows it wasn’t around in 1830 — though the Bricklayer’s Arms was indeed!

    Some guy left this on the blog — a link to an 1830’s map for fun and play: http://www.motco.com/Map/81003/

    Select ‘Place and name index’ on the left then select ‘Southampton ?’…from there you can move all around Camberwell and see it in 1830 ish.

  9. Hey that was me! fame at last.

    Southampton Way (formerly Southampton Street) was in the far distant past called Rainbow Lane.

  10. @ Dagmar: I know they must get a lot of grief off the estate, but even so a quick ‘hello’ would be nice.

    @TommyD: I saw that site a while ago. It’s a very nice tool, but they could really learn a thing or two about useability.

  11. OK, Peter, I’ll try “Hello” on ’em and see what happens. No, I know what will happen. They’ll just stare at me. And I’ll think, “Forget it Jake — it’s Chinatown.”

    Or Rainbow Street.

    I’ll pursue the meaning of that streetname, TommyD. In my experience, placenames often just mean “place where people live, maybe a couple of cows”. I think the word rainbow falls into that category, originally. Like Walworth — “where the Welsh live”, and Camberwell itself, “where the Welsh live and it’s got a well”. Welsh, of course, just means foreigner, Celt, that lot, the dodgy original tribes.

    Viva SE5!

  12. Dagmar — I think Southampton Way was called Rainbow lane because it’s the shape of a rainbow, and Rainbow street was named after it. Just a theory mind.

  13. I heard that Camberwell came from the old English term Camber meaning crooked, and that the well here was said to have healing properties; further evidence comes from the fact that St Giles was(is?) the patron saint of cripples — hence, the church.

  14. Peter’s explanation sounds the most credible…I’m sure Peter Ackroyd would be most impressed!

  15. Ozi’s cafe is great!! Toms dairy good for weekend staples.

    I refuse to shop in Presco since I bought some bread and found a hole in the bag and MOUSE DROPPINGS in there!!

    Used to have the occasional drink in the George but find it a bit scary these days.

  16. @eusebiovic — thanks I know a little about Camberwell’s proud and illustrious past — partly what keeps me going for the future — that its heritage is so strong and there are frissons of it still around today.

    ON SPAR — my experience exactly the same. On Bickleigh I’ve been in there a couple of times early evening but the music was too loud.

  17. Mark — glad it keeps you going. Wanna here what gets me down? I receive a very expensive, glossy magazine entitled ‘Southwark Renewal’ — not a story about Camberwell to be found, though everywhere else is mentioned ad naseum.

    And the intro from Paul Evans — Director of Regeneration Southwark Council reads:

    “Southwark stretches from the world famous South Bank to leafy Dulwich and encompasses Bermondsey, Walworth, Peckhams and the Rotherhithe Peninsula.”

    Guess we didn’t make the cut.

  18. Ta Peter — I’ve seen it and the folks there are quite helpful indeed.

    I fear I’m getting to sensitive. All the areas have local publications similar to Camberwell Renewal’s fine magazine. Southwark Renewal is a pretty expensive publication covering the whole borough. Looking back at all three editions printed to date, you’ll find a mere two, very small, inconsequential mentions of Camberwell. The rest of the 56 pages in each of the three magazines have double and triple digit mentions of everywhere else where something is happening.

    Perhaps the truth is we should be grateful they are leaving us alone 🙂

  19. Tommy D — If it’s any worse than their last attempt at renewal 30 odd years ago, then you may well have a point!!!…maybe it’s time to do a coup d’etat on Southwark Town Hall and reclaim the building soulely for the use of the Progressive People’s Republic of Camberwell…

  20. I agree fully with eusebiovic

    TommyD’s experience reflects the problem of Camberwell — IT IS OVERLOOKED.

    We can change this but it has to be together in concert, well planned and cleverly orchestrated.

  21. Maybe the sleuths on this blog can help me –

    Anybody know what the deal is with that half-built apartment block on the edge of Burgess Park/Camberwell Road, behind the Corrib Bar? It’s just been abandoned for well over a year. It makes the area look like the South Bronx. There was me assuming that Southwark Council wouldn’t give the go-ahead to any construction that wasn’t fully-financed, but lo and behold that seems to be what they’ve done.

    On an unrelated topic, I was just in the re-opened Prince of Wales next to Myatt’s Fields. Very pleasant. Probably the sunniest pub in the area apart from the Sun & Doves. Nicedly laid out inside. Just waiting to see what the “new menu” is like.

  22. L Henry, are you talking about the old Whelans Tavern that forms an island located at the junction of New Church Road/Bowyer Place(north), Caspian Street(East) and Lomond Grove(west)?f

    The one that should be finished to look like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/41448195@N00/

    If so, I can pass along some information someone passed along to me (she may read this and share it herself)

  23. TommyD — you have got exactly the right place, mate, but unless I am whacked out of my head on absinthe and LSD it will never look like that. This place has been a shell for the last 18 months. It looks like Nobby Stiles’ face after a heavy night out.

    What’s the info you can pass on?

    On an upbeat note — me and my brother went down to play tennis at Burgess Park on Saturday (Myatt’s Fields have closed down 2 out of their 3 courts — what’s that all about?) and the people at the tennis centre were really nice, and the courts are great. Okay, I was off the pace, and the sun was in my eyes, I should’ve won, but that’s nothing against Burgess. I’ll be back. Bigger and better than ever.

  24. Tommy D/Lord Henry — I’m pretty sure that that was meant to be a development by Barratt Homes — I remember seeing a billboard in Elephant and Castle advertising it a couple of years back — a significant portion was affordable housing too,then all of a sudden work stopped — Quite unusual especially a well known developer like that — Knowing Southwark Council all too well, it wouldn’t surprise if some kind of skullduggery occured and the project abandoned…

  25. Here’s the info passed along from our little project:

    “There is planning history on file dating back to 2000 relating to the redevelopment of the site which culminated in the granting of planning permission for the ‘Demolition of existing Public House and construction of 6 storey residential building, comprising 9 flats (2x1 bed, 6x2 bed, 1x3 bed)’ in July 2001.

    Regarding the implementation of the granted planning permission, I can confirm that Building Control received a notice of intention to commence work in May 2003. The last Building Control inspection was in July 2004. Since then, three unsuccessful attempts have been made to inspect the development. The site was unoccupied on each of the three occassions. The Planning Enforcement Case Officer inspected the site on the 19th of January 2005 following your enquiry and it was observed that:

    -the development has been completed up to the 5th floor and window frames and window panes have been installed.
    ‑most of the window panes are now broken and parts of the windows are boarded up.
    ‑there was no evidence of recent works to complete the development and work might have ceased on the site as early as 2004.

    It appears that construction work to complete the development has been abandoned for some time. There are powers available to the Council to expedite the completion of the works in the form of a completion notice. Completion notices give local authorities the option of ensuring that permissions do not linger on in perpetuity because of the cessation of commenced material operations. Under sec 94. of the 1990 Act, power is given to local authorities to issue a notice if they feel that, before the expiration of a permission, completion will not take place within reasonable time period. Such a notice invalidates that part of the permission which has not already been carried out, if there is no development within the specified period of the notice, which must not be less than 12 months. At sec.95, it is indicated that a completion notice shall not take effect until confirmed by the Secretary of State(SOS) and that within a 28 day period between issuing the notice and confirmation by the SOS the person on whom served notice may appeal to the SOS. In determining whether or not he should confirm a completion notice, The SOS is not concerned with the planning merits of development and they play no part in the deliberations. He is concerned only with the question of whether there is a realistic prospect of the development being resumed and/or carried through to completion within a reasonable period.

    However, it is advised that if the reason for non completion is financial difficulties on the part of the developer a completion notice may not succeed and the only alternative would be local authority acquisition. As such, the Planning Enforcement Case Officer has been trying to establish the current status of the owners, Lebuc London Limited, to get an explanation of the current situation of the development. Attempts at contact have so far have been unsuccessful. Requests for information on the owners and their representatives have also been made with Building Control. Their records show that the last amendments on the scheme were submitted in June 2005.

    In the event that the owners are financially incapable of completing the works, the only alternative would be local authority acquisition. In this regard, the Case Officer has contacted the Council’s Property Section for initial estimates on the value of the site as it is now and with a completed building on it.”

  26. Thanks, TommyD. In a nutshell, then, bugger all is going to be done with it for the foreseeable future. Depressing. I wonder what the pub was that used to be there? I have a vague memory of it.

  27. Heritage lottery grant to buy the building and make it a combination of studios and flats with a business on the ground floor…

    A bit naive an idea really. But then.

  28. As an aside it looks like the people who built it so far have never built anything before — ever — I could do better myself and still not be happy with the result.

    If the council were to CP it make sure it went to community use along lines abouve with an office and drop in centre housing several voluntary organisations (there’s over 100 based in Camberwell all with space and infrastructure problems) and giving them a public shop front.

    Or maybe offer it to Blue Elephant as a higher profile theatre.

  29. For me it’s provided good entertainment. I walk past every day. Each time I note yet another window that’s come uncovered, another board ripped away. It’s like watching a new building go up — only in reverse.

  30. Mark — It’s a great opportunity for staking a claim on the building as a community resource centre with lots of office space…maybe even a community cafe/bar on the ground floor where the profits go to local social projects too…

  31. Out canvassing the neighbourhood for petition signatures last night. Every door tells a tale and I came home feeling pretty darn good about Camberwell.

    I met: a retired, disabled older couple who sit home alone most days, they were thrilled to have someone just to chat to and I was highly entertained with the most amazing tales of Camberwell; an illustrator for botany publications; a flight attendant whose passion is lovingly restoring the most incredible period features in a home that had been near its end; a lady keen to have a street party now inspired to make it happen; a woman here from Ghana working day and night to afford boarding school for her three sons back home; three young couples with children convinced Camberwell will provide them with wonderful early-family memories.

    Can’t wait to start again.

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