Nosing around the neighbourhood

Well‐rested after the weekend, my regular cycle journey back from work wasn’t quite enough for me today so I decided to go exploring. First I took a little detour off Camberwell Road and went to take a look at Addington Square, a charming, mostly untouched little Georgian square that I’d never been to before.

It’s very different from the rest of the area, seeming more like the squares in Kensington, although perhaps not quite so grand. Around the area are small signs of former glories and 19th Century life; foolish me, I didn’t have my camera to record my findings. Next time.

I cycled back to Camberwell Road, cut across the Green (plenty of small groups taking the opportunity to have a quiet can of White Lightning) and up Grove Lane to find out the latest about the Dark Horse. It seems that their patience is wearing thin, as they have a note on their board castigating British Gas for taking too long to get their pipes sorted out. They will open ‘soon’.

Then fatigue hit me and I went home, my plans of passing Denmark Hill to check out the new cafe belayed by traitorous legs.

Author: Peter

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

22 thoughts on “Nosing around the neighbourhood”

  1. Addington Square gets a mention in Eleanor Margolies’ Camberwell Green pamphlet (where I learned about Camberwellonline). I quote, “…was laid out in 1800 and the houses — and the swimming pool — were built between 1810 and 1855. The gatepost of the former King George’s Park can be seen at the gate leading into Burgess Park…” There is an upholsterer’s workshop on the corner which I visited a couple of years ago — a wonderful Dickensian place but they did a great job on an old chair I needed restoring.

  2. 33A Addington Square — used to be owned by post‐war South London Gangsters — The Richardson Brothers — apparently it was a private “members” club which had a number of exotic animals on the premises (including two performing bears,who on one occasion escaped onto the Camberwell Road!) and an old army issue,hand cranked field electric generator which was used to fry to a crisp anybody who was dim enough to get in the way of the duo’s grim exploits…yikes!!!

  3. My favourite nugget of information from the Green Camberwell guide is this:

    Chumleigh Gardens was built in 1821 as “The Friendly Female Asylum for Aged persons who have seen better days”.

  4. Peter — Have you been to Postman’s Park near St Barts in the City? — I’m sure you would be tickled by the unintentional black humour on some of the memorials tiles there too…

  5. I stroll through Addington Square every morning and it is one of the treasures of.….Walworth!

    Yes I know most consider it Camberwell but it does highlight our identity crisis. Camberwell Community Council’s jurisdiction stops just short of Addington Square and it officially becomes part of Walworth’s remit.

    Still unclear why they recently pulled up all the beautiful flowers in the private square gardens? Perhaps a sheep on the run stopped by for a snack.

  6. It’s got an SE5 postcode, I’m claiming it as ours. Walworth can have the old factories behind the bus garage by the snooker hall.

  7. When I lived in Cambridge House, on the corner of the Camberwell Road and Addington Square, we counted ourselves as Camberwell (where the Welsh live well and there’s a well) rather than Walworth (where the Welsh hang out in the marshes). Pub crawls down the Walworth Road only served to make us cling onto this tendentious sense of identity.

    Talking of Wyndham Road, the new Corbet House block of 18 flats is interesting. I saw it arrive on lorries from Poland. It was erected in 3 weeks, opened by Simon Hughes and a former mayor, and bolts together — including into the ground. It can be completely unbolted and taken elsewhere. The design is by a company called Buma in Cracow, an enlightened city compared with Soviet concrete Warsaw. The flats have IKEA kitchens and are for key workers.

    I agree that Wyndham Road is spooky. It was the heart of the Richardson manor, the family ran the newagents there. Charlie’s boys would have had Corbet House unbolted in no time. Or maybe not. They were quite community‐minded, in a frightening sort of way.

  8. Charlie Richardson’s sister had a sweet‐shop on Wyndham Road. The property is still there but it’s got new owners. Read MY MANOR to get the full low‐down.

    At the end of Wyndham Road is The Castle, probably the most dangerous‐looking pub in Camberwell after The Silver Buckle. When my missus first arrived in the hood, she jogged past there and was shocked to have three men come running out of The Castle, apparently in pursuit of her. In actuality they were being chased by three other men armed with baseball bats who began to belay them about the head with their accoutrements.

    That’s the first time I’ve used the word “belay” in a sentence.

    Across the road from The Castle is the little bijou pub called The Corrib. It has my favourite ever sign in London. “This pub is now open from 10 am!” I just love the glee in that announcement. But I ask myself, who would turn up an 10 am apart from Johnny Vegas?

  9. The Corrib is good, is exactly what it looks like, a small friendly Irish pub.

    The Castle should be called the Ghastly. When I lived at Cambridge House, a middle‐class alcoholic turned up at the door, wearing a tie and shiney‐from‐use double‐breasted jacket. He lived high up in the flats above the Castle — I think he drank there — and told me he had often thought of smashing a window and taking a leap.

    He rambled on about serving in the army at Suez and bayonetting “Gyppos”. I drove him to the notorious “wet shelter” where he’d been before, so we just watched the coppers with their enormous staves herding the line of drink‐beasted beings, then I drove him home in my 1953 Morris Minor.

    He showed me a letter from a GP to a psychiatrist, “Please treat this intelligent man for alcohol abuse.” It was chilling. I never saw him again.

  10. Dagmar — I was that man! They gave me a peerage for my services to the realm!

    Kidding, sorry.

    I see The Dark Horse will be hosting live bands whenever they eventually get themselves sorted out. I wonder what the denizens of Grove Lane will make of that?

  11. I wonder if that Old Pub (now a 24 hour off‐licence) which is half way up Wyndham Road was also a centre of the Brother’s Richardson operations? — You can imagine that whole street with back to back terraces leading off from the main road but it looks like Southwark and Lambeth Council used the road to dump some of the more dubious and bizarre post‐war housing experiments all in one place…

  12. Couldn’t we form a committee to honor Charlie Richardson with a blue plaque somewhere in Camberwell? He’s probably our most famous living Camberwellian. I met him once, and believe me, he’d love that. He wouldn’t want it to say “Gangster”, though. According to various of his pronouncements, he’d prefer “maligned entrepreneur”.

  13. Frankie Fraser is still a local too…he used to be in The Famous Walworth Road Cafe all the time…must be gutted that they have recently turned it into a Subway…another fascism by proxy fast‐food chain…

  14. Yeah Frankie walks his little dog in Burgess Park. I’d advise all the youth in the general vicinity not to target this particular old man.

    The comedian Arthur Smith once told Frankie that he was going up to Edinburgh to do Hamlet. Frankie replied, “Give me his address and I’ll do him for ya.”

    Boom boom!

  15. Talking of old relics, I see the Mansion House pub on Kennington Park Road is boarded up and up for sale. It is right next door to the Red Lion and is owned by Brendan who owns the Hermits Cave. I always wanted to go there — I see on the Knowhere site it was criticised by some young shaver for having had a clientele all over the age of 50. What on earth are young people on? Lager. It makes their brains fizz.

  16. Dagmar — One of the best pubs in Kennington used to be The Court Tavern on Renfrew Road — next to the old fire station turned Buddist Temple — An excellent little gem (fireplace,newspapers,fry-ups) which sadly had to close because it was a bit too much effort for most folk to take a left or right turn off Kennington Lane…still there’s always a Wetherspoons 5 minutes walk away in Elephant isn’t there?

  17. I was in the Canning again tonight. Good World Cup pub. Myself and the little woman decided to order food for the first time, rather than going next door to Buddha Jazz, which is what we usually do.

    Very bad mistake. The food was barely adequate. The missus wanted to complain. As I’ve been in there quite often during the World Cup, I said, Let it go, it might be a one‐off. Then, as I was watching the game, I saw a lady go up with two barely‐eaten plates of steak and chips to ask for her money back. So obviously it’s not a one‐off.

    Booze — yes. Atmosphere — yes. Food — NO!

  18. The Canning used to have a fairly decent menu, but seems only to offer a BBQ with help‐yourself salads during the World Cup…not the most inspiring of choices. Hope they revert soon. Still a good place for a drink.

  19. You’d think England fans’d be allowed to take their own sandwiches. Ah, the corned beef of old England…

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