The death of a local boozer?

Camberwell makes the front page of The Independent today, with the news that we have the biggest contrast in racial diversity in the country;

In one ward in Camberwell… Black Africans make up 41 per cent of the residents — yet in the neighbouring ward covering Herne Hill they account for just two per cent.

In other news: As has been noted before, the Bickleigh Arms pub on Vestry Road is for sale. For anyone unfamiliar with it, the Bickleigh is the most local of all local pubs — I don’t mean geographically, of course. I think it relies on the Lettsom estate for most of its trade, but with the shift in demographic in recent years, the Lettsom now has a lot of North African residents, and as such a lot of Muslims — hence, no lock-ins at the Bickleigh. And now they don’t even have Sky Sports anymore, it’s pretty much deserted apart from the die-hard (and young) regulars.

I wonder if it will continue as a local boozer, or if some enterprising soul will attempt a gastronomic revolution there?

Update: On the subject of pubs for sale, I hear from a reliable source that The Castle is on the market (or will be shortly). Always seemed like a thriving business to me; another example of how hard it is to run a business here?

Author: Peter

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

16 thoughts on “The death of a local boozer?”

  1. Does anyone know which ward the Independent referred to? They say that it is neighbouring Herne Hill so does that make it Vassall or Coldharbour in Lambeth or would it be Camberwell Green in Southwark?

  2. That must be towards Peckham, north Camberwell (I think they mean Camberwell as a whole being a neighbour of Herne Hill). The statistic — Camberwell has the highest contrast in the country — runs side by side with Camberwell being the second most expensive part of London to buy in: income versus property prices.

    There’s nothing wrong (in my view) with having intense tranches of one kind of folk, until it comes to schooling. Then it’s boring i.e. predominantly African (north Camberwell) or predominantly white middle class (East Dulwich) so the kids may as well be in Africa or the Home Counties, not London.

    A sozzled white fellow will be looked after in Miura. That’s Sierra Leoneans for you. But kids in playgrounds are not so kind.

  3. Any woman who can use the word “tranche” must be applauded. I thought their brains were too small for cognitive applications, but Dagmar has proved me wrong. Then again, she’s from Denmark. I once knew a girl from Denmark. She was very tall. I thought she was going to put out, but all I got was a snog and a feel of her admittedly voluminous breasticles. I found out to my dismay the following morning that she was married. I’ve just realised this was in Iceland, not Denmark. I apologise, Dagmar, for casting aspersions upon you. I have had drink taken.

  4. Spangler! I am flattered that you adopt Danish word order. “I heff head drink taekn” is exactly what we would say at 2.20 a.m.

    Denmark has for long had tentacles with Iceland. Did you know that the Icelandic for Iceland, “Island”, means Island?

    Also interesting, I spent a fortnight on Rockall once with some geographers gathering guillemot chicks for inoculation. The chicks are so ugly! It was a trifle windy perched up there, too! Ooof!

    While we’re learning so good! You must visit the stuffed fruit bats or flying foxes at the Horniman. They have captions reading “STUFFED FRUIT BAT OR FLYING FOX” and cannot seem to make up their mind which they are. Their fingers are longer than their legs, an extraordinary sight to see on a fellow being. Why not walk up there this morning with Carstairs?

    You will pass through an interesting tribal area called East Dulwich which is a huge tranche of “Yummie Mummies” who are actually a bit frumpy & grumpy and Meterosexual Daddies in long shorts who seem to have swapped their Zacs and Lilies looking neglected at their sides for a mobile phone which they bray into. Take a hip flask! You will need it against the wretching!

  5. I’ve eaten fruit bat. Not bad. If I’d known they were killing them at the Horniman I’d have been up there in a shot. Nothing in the fridge…

  6. Lordship lane is a delightful overpriced organic free range biodynamic ghetto for tasteful discerning consumers. With little pink frilly wings. Moi? I can’t get enough of it.

    copeywolf — was it juicy and was it fruity?

  7. It’s easy to knock some of the more pretentious elements of the East Dulwich neighbourhood (and mock I do) but there are some genuinely good businesses there, which are to be commended — I remember what Lordship Lane was like 10–15 years ago and it was rather drab and miserable to tell the truth — like most of the places we loath about Camberwell…they have a amazing Butcher’s Shop (which moved from Vauxhall),An old-fashioned confectionery shop,The Sea Cow (nice fish and chips!)East Dulwich Deli,Various Health Food Shops and although I don’t really like many of the bars there, just the sight of them are a welcome change from what was there before — pubs where you’d walk in and the clock would stop and everyone would stare at you whilst your every step to the bar stuck to the heavily soiled threadbare Axminster carpet…So it’s yin and yang…some good,some bad,some amusing for an old leftie cynic…

  8. I’m with you, eusebiovic.

    Not sure I’d be happy living there but I’m very happy to have it as a neighbour. And the thought of artisans beavering away at 4am by the Old Kent Road making traditional breads (sold across London through the deli) is warming. Maybe I’m in denial. This East Dulwich thing is getting like the Pot Noodle ad campaign on TV a while ago. You know you want it!

    Mark, the fruit bat tasted as good as they look. I think. (It was in quite a hot curry).

  9. I only go to museums to pass wind, Dagmar. The hip flask suggestion is a good one, though. Can’t think why I haven’t thought of it before.

    I’ve seen a lot of the Yummie Mummies in Herne Hill (I go up there for tennis lessons). They give me the willies. Lady H wanted a child at one point, but I increased my alcohol intake to such a level that my sperm count became negligible.

    I am hurt that you mention Carstairs. As you well know he left my employ under a cloud, and under Lady H as well if her sexual history is anything to go by.

    I went into that fish place in Camberwell the other night. Is it called The Flying Fish? The restaurant area is very unprepossessing, but I have to say, my red snapper was delicious. I then went up to the Castle to make a fool of myself. No charges have as yet been laid, praise Allah.

  10. I Do go to East Dulwich too and I’ve nothing against the businesses there.

    I just hate the people who, like me, who go there and act cool, caring and conservationally concerned in the shops; especially if they have children in tow like I do.

    I thought seriously about opening a ‘the Sun and Doves’ in East Dulwich 12 years ago. But decided Camberwell was a much better bet. No wonder I hate East Dulwich — and myself of course — for the ensuing ‘decade of pain’.

    “My decade of pain”; I first miss-typed as “My decafe of pain”. I kind of like that.

  11. Interesting news about the Castle — maybe too many people are going to the Bishop in East Dulwich? As you say Peter it always seems very busy — it was last Sunday evening whe i went there for dinner. Just a thoguht is The Castle still owned by the same group who owned the Babushka chain?

  12. Castle:

    Owned by Scott, who also owns the Bishop. It’s a partially tied long lease with Enterprise Inns, a situation not unlike mine with S&N Pub Enterprises.

  13. Meant to say — the booze and social noose is tightening — I bumped into Peter yesterday at the Gowlett; it was inevitable this would happen at some point.

    A worthy setting for it to happen.

  14. Yes, Mark & I met in The Gowlett Arms yesterday. Now that’s a pub that’s got its mix sorted out; grizzled regulars from Peckham alongside more trendy passing trade from East Dulwich. A good selection of beers and attentive barstaff. Apparently the pizzas are very good, although we didn’t try as one of my companions was a little overwhelmed by the smoky atmosphere.

    It was a little microcosm of my vision for Camberwell; the rough alongside the smooth; the best elements of refined E. Dulwich rubbing shoulders with the air of slight uncool of Camberwell; the Joiners Arms next to the Sun & Doves; a high street with a decent butcher and baker, but not over-run by absurdly over-priced childrens clothes shops; the smell of nonconformity; an area that’s nice to live in, but doesn’t price me out of living there.

    … and then I woke up.

  15. Dear All,

    The next meeting of the SE5 Forum Committee will take place at 8pm on Wednesday 18th October at the Eritrean Community Centre, 76 Edmund Street, SE5

    Memebers and non members of the SE5 Forum are more than welcome to come along to listen to the meeting, meet the committee and have a chat.

    In the interests of knowing approximate numbers for the meeting it would be great if you are intending to come along if you could email me via the SE5 Forum website (my username is Hannah Mummery)



    SE5 Forum Secretary

  16. That area around the Gowlett is fascinating and sometimes well weird. There is a big tapas restaurant called La Plancha on Oglander Road. There is a Rosicrucian church on Waghorn Street. There is a Dickensian curiosity shop on Choumert Road. There is a road called Troy Town (from Old English meaning twist and turn). On Copleston Road, there is “The Latter-Rain Outpouring Revival Church”.

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