Fallout Boy — Take Two

Something like summer is here, and I’m writing this post for the second time. Annoying.

Let’s start with the news that our infamy grows ever stronger, with the report that we are a leading supplier of victims of the disgusting and barbaric practice of female genital mutilation. Of all the abuses carried out in the name of religion, this must be the most revolting; it makes me seethe that parents can make drastic decisions about their child’s health based on their own superstitions.

On to lighter subjects: there’s activity at the former Zara’s Kitchen (and, briefly, British Raj). At the moment the old signage which I remember from years ago is exposed, and I keep meaning to take a picture for the archives but always end up forgetting my camera or forgetting to take the picture. With the new building in Zara’s (I’m going to guess it’ll be a new food outlet; I could look it up, but where’s the fun in that?) and the promised Italian Cafe further down Camberwell Church Street, not to mention the opening of Angels & Gypsies in 2011, it looks like we’re about to get a few more culinary options.

Is there a nuclear bunker beneath Camberwell? I meant to mention this before, but it slipped my mind. I might start carrying a notebook. There’s a patch of land at the corner of Peckham Rd and Vestry Rd which has never been built on, and recently there’s been a placard up for a project called Words are not Enough, which says there’ll be a peace garden put there, and mentions the cold war nuclear bunker. I’ve got no reason to disbelieve them (except for their being artists, who are notorious liars), but the only mention I can find of this bunker is in connection with this project.

If there is a bunker, let’s open it up and go inside for 20 years, then come out to see what the place is like; I bet it’ll be exactly the same.

Author: Peter

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

60 thoughts on “Fallout Boy — Take Two”

  1. Yes I was reading an article about the Southwark Borough nuclear bunker recently — it was established by Southwark Borough Council at the height of the cold war to provide a base for continued administration of the borough if there was a nuclear strike (all local authorities were required to establish such facilities) but in the early 1980s the Labour run borough council designated Southwark a nuclear free zone (lots of other Labour local authorities did so too) and so opened up the nuclear bunker saying that there was no need for it

  2. In the event of nuclear war all that would remain are rats, cockroaches and Southwark Borough Council…

    Talking of rats and sinking ships my family have had enough. We can’t take the aggresion, filth and noise anymore. Our house is for sale and we are off to Kent. After 11 years in London 12 months in Camberwell has killed us off.

  3. I have a book called “Subterranean Southwark” which gives a history of the bunker. It was built 1953–54, officially opened on 9 October 1954, and abandoned in the late 1990s. I’m not sure when it was last actually used. It seems to have had a problem with damp and flooding from the beginning.

    The book was published in 2003 and is by Christopher Jones. I bought it in Wordsworth Books, of fond memory.

  4. I’m no expert but surely a nuclear bunker with a damp and flooding problem is about as much help as leaning a couple of doors against the wall.

  5. Thanks for the link Mumu — I particularly liked the bit about there still being a golfball typewriter in place. Presumably this would have been used to send out Council Tax arrears letters in the hope that some of the addressees were still alive.

  6. The South London Gallery show is absolutely brilliant. It is basically some home-made pop videos but they stand out against the current glut of pouty indie-boy guitar bands.

    The show ends on 29th, very soon.

  7. minging as it looks I’d love to go and have a look… any chance of persuading the council to organise a guided tour?

  8. Sorry to hear about Camberwell having done it for you Olly.

    I’d love to be able to say “stick around a little longer, it’s going to get better” but…

    I was down in various little Kentish spots for the Tour de France and must admit the same thought crossed my mind. Seems we’re getting soft in our old age.

    Hopefully the Forum (along with sufficiant will of a critical mass) will actually bring about change, and those that bleat “gentrification!” whenever they see a new lick of paint will all fall down a manhole.

    Or get locked up in that nuclear bunker. Wouldn’t mind seeing it either, Other Rich…

  9. The thought of moving to Kent also crossed my mind when I was in Canterbury watching the Tour de France the other day — passing an estate agent I saw a city centre house two doors up from the one I used to live in as a student for less than we paid in Camberwell for our flat but hey thats life — its not in inner London, Camberwell is vibrant, never dull etc.

    Did anyone go to the Camberwell transport summit last week? Although I had registered the event due to posters around, I forgot all about it and only realised that I had missed it when I saw Lambeth and Southwark GLA member Valerie Shawcross in the George Canning later on that evening. What were the significant discussions?

  10. I had it in the diary Mumu but got stuck at work. Annoying because I really wanted to go.

    I’m sure there were contact details on the posters. Anyone know who was running it? We could get more info from them.

  11. possibly one for the SE5 forum, but the search facility doesn’t seem to be working at the moment.

    Can anyone recommend a good local solicitor for a house sale/purchase?

    Come on Alan Dale — I’m looking at you!


  12. Hartnells on Church Street seem OK — Ive had friends who have had dealings with them and they seemed satisfied.

    I have used Streathers on Clapham High Street which seemed to be cheaper than most other local conveyancers and gave us an ok service but our estate agent (of Winkworths, Kennington) didnt like them.

    I would be inclined to say that for house sale/purchase you dont need a local solicitor as all the communication comes in written form through the post so go for one who you know/ have confidence in/ is recommended elsewhere. Or else use a conveyancing firm as its a fairly simple essentially administrative procedure unless you have complex ownership issues etc

  13. @ Mumu

    Thanks for that. I just like using a local firm if possible

    Re Streathers — avoid if you possibly can! I had a nightmare with them when i moved to camberwell. a very slow, arrogant solicitor, very uncommunicative (probvably under an enormous workload, but hey, join the club) who ended up telling me he was dropping me as a client two days before we were due to exchange. after a 6 month process.

    luckily i know a senior member of the Honourable Society of the Inner Circle who opened a can of secretive legal society whoopass on the guy. Needless to say we exchanged two days later, as planned.

    not a good experience of Streathers though.

  14. Yes we will be reusing Streather again for reasons similar to those you have given.

    On another note I see its the Urban Art Fair on Josephine Avenue in Brixton this weekend alongside the Lambeth Country Show — if you’ve never been this is basically an outdoor gallery along the length of the road with pictures for sale, see http://urbanartonline.co.uk/urbanart/ for further information.

    This is a really good idea — I wonder if there is anyway it could be incorporated into Camberwell Arts Week?

  15. Meaby’s for conveyancing. Sometimes during the process you need to pop down to see m’learned friend or drop something in by hand.

    Meaby’s are conveniently located at the heart of Cambwerwell, a vibrant and thriving area of south-east London.

    They are well prices and extremely efficient, also friendly at very local. Please consider Meaby’s for all your conveyancing and other legal needs.

    Hartnell’s specialise in legal aid criminal law and are great if you have stabbed someone to death and want to take even more “liberties”.

  16. The Forum committee’s agreed to major development of its website, funds are in place and work will begin soon. This means a radically more responsive site with voting/polling functions that’s better to look at and easier to navigate perhaps by September.

    In the meantime the Camberwell Baths’ Working Party is beginning to look further than analysis of current business for the future of the Leisure centre.

    Mumbojumboworld — the owners of Butterfly walk are learning the consternation of Camberwell — why doesn’t it work properly? Why can’t they get businesses interested in moving in. Might be something to do with the massive rent and service charges I think.

    All Camberwell traders I know reckon Camberwell’s a really difficult place to do business in — theft, violence and bad behaviour from customers among the problems. Huge footfall of travellers but very low spend per head because the footfall’s using Camberwell as a pass through not a shopping destination.

    Camberwell is the only place I have ever worked where Saturday night is consistently quieter than Friday night. EVERYWHERE ELSE I’ve worked in catering — Manchester London Newcastle Southport Liverpool Chicago Saturday’s the big one. Not here. BEcause most people in Camberwell don’t go out here on Saturday. They go to nicer places.

    There’s no avoiding it. If Camberwell is going to change Camberwell NEEDS a town centre manager.

  17. Mark:

    Butterfly walk always looks like an extension of the pound shops it houses to me: cheap and naff.

    Bar Rat records, and the assorted grocers here, most shops in Camberwell sell brittle plastic things that nobody is going to travel to buy, so bang on there.

    As regards evening recreation, I always think Camberwell is something of a missed opportunity. There is an absolutely huge amount of potential punters – both in terms of students at both the art colleges and the assorted hipsters and bloggers that dwell hereabouts

    But like you say, no-one really looks at it as a destination for a ‘proper night out’. All those students would probably rather hike up to Shoreditch where they could catch a band or club night. And why not? Camberwell strikes me as being in a bit of a Catch 22. as while people view it in terms of ‘a place to go for a beer on Friday evening’ nobody is ever going to make the effort to ‘switch up their game’ so to speak (apart from the S&D of course!).

    I heard a rumour ages back that the people who own the Lock Tavern were going to buy the Redstar.. I can only assume they got cold feet as said venue still resembles a smashed face, glowering away on its corner of the green.

    Shame really, as whith all the students and artists round here, I seriously believe that this place could be ‘another Shoreditch’ (though hey, who wants that eh?).

    And yeah, part of the problem with people bothering is that Camberwell presents something of a grim aspect at the best of times. It does sorely need some kind of civic re-engineering.

  18. Mark
    I agree that Camberwell needs a focus and a Town Centre manager would be ideal. Camberwell is really just one Bus exchange. Most of the shopping is not great as Eyechild says just a lot of plastic tat I don’t need. If I want to go out and I tend to walk I go to Brixton with it’s choice of bars and resturants.
    I have lived here 18 months so don’t really know what Brixton was like before was it similar to Camberwell or has it always been a “cooler” place. If it wasn’t how was the change put in place and by who?
    While I don’t want a Shoreditch approach (ask anyone who lives there the amount of clubs are a pain for residents). Perhaps the way forward is to look at NDC type funding for the area and importantly joined up approach from Lambeth and Southwark Council and TFL. All is possible and no reason why Camberwell can’t become a fantastic place to live just get rid of everything on the lower part of Denmark Hill and start again.

  19. Brixton is not cool, it is nasty.

    Camberwell is not just for people who want to be cool.

    It is for everyone. Have a look.

  20. Dagmar

    You might think Brixton is nasty but it has a thriving town centre and I don’t see that in Camberwell Centre do you get all your requirements in Camberwell? Clothes, Shoes, food, decent bottle of wine etc?

    I was replying to Marks point about having a cohesive town centre plan for Camberwell, which it hasn’t got at present. Unless you think intimidating street drinkers and pound shops are part of an inclusive approach to everyones needs.

    There are some good places in Camberwell Pubs, Shops, Resturaunts and Art and I do use them. However for a lot of entertainment I go to “Nasty” Brixton where I can dance, listen to live music, go to the pictures and eat good food. So my money is going back into those local business’s not Camberwell’s.

    Butterfly walk is dismal how does it contribute to enhancing our lives?

  21. Excuse the unrelated subject — but can anyone recommend any good local tradesmen at all? I need to get a bit of work done (bathoom tiling, etc.) on my flat, and in other places I’ve lived in the past I have found it’s often better to get a recommendation than to risk getting a ‘rogue trader’. Many thanks for any suggestions anyone might have.

  22. Derek: No need to apologise for unrelated subjects, that’s what we do best here. Can’t recommend anyone myself, but would be interested to hear answers; I’m on the lookout for a general handyman to do a few jobs around my place, too. I would do them myself, but it’s rented and I don’t trust my underdeveloped abilities.

  23. How is it that the owners of the Redstar can afford to just leave it empty? I don’t get it. There was a time (several years ago, before it got really cheesy), when it hosted some good nights and poeple actually travelled to Camberwell to go there.

  24. (Hums) “I get all the new I need from the weather report… tum-te-tum… the only living girl in Camberwell… la-la-la…”

  25. Stuart: Most of the pubs in this area are TIED to Freehodlers. Redstar is one (incidentally The Bear is a Free House)

    Redstar rent from the rooms upstairs covers the rent to the Freeholder.

    I don’t know how they get away with Lease terms that say they should be running a business and selling beer though. They are obviously more agile than I when dealing with their Freeholder.

    Red Star (Enterprise) is no longer related to Dog Star, not since Dog Star’s last rent review (Punch) in 2005 when that business folded. The Sun and Doves’ 2005 rent review (S&N Pub Enterprises) is still in arbitration and undecided. The current back rent which will be owed on demand if the arbitrator finds in favour of the Freeholder is £52,250. A sum have not quite managed to put aside for a (how ironically given this summer) rainy day.

    I’ve lost track but as far as I know there’s still a business connection between Red Star and Living Room and a couple of other places I’m not qualified to comment on.


    I would have taken on the Father Redcap if I had not been learning how to juggle with the reality of a tied lease and had the Red Cap not been a tied house itself.

    I owned what is now The Castle (Enterprise) for three years (1996 — 1999) Back in teh days when Camberwell looked like it might just tip over into regeneration, IT was called Pacific Bar then and I lost a lot of money on it.

    Had huge licensing problems with Southwark (which the Freeholder absolutely did nothing to help me with even though when I was signing up for the lease I asked about late night licensing advice and support from them and they said the had the best solicitors in the land who would be at my disposal).

    Pacific nearly bankrupted me, it took six years to pay off my personal debts from the lease and beer account. In that time my disposable income was that of someone earning £9,000 a year. Try bringing up a family on that when you’re working 60 hours a week.

  26. Derek: we had our tiles done by a tiler we found through the Yellow Pages who lives on Vicarage Grove. Very friendly and did a great job. His name is Chris and email address is chriswelch80[at]btinternet.com

  27. I hear there was an attempted break-in at the Hermit the other night. How do I know? Because as I walked past last Saturday morning the owner came out and accused ME of being involved. His evidence? I “looked at the pub doors” as I passed. When I protested at this (public) accusation I was flatly ignored.

    Now, I’ve always liked the Hermit (good choice of ale, nice crowd etc) but this experience left me shocked and appalled. Of course, an attempted burglary is enough to put anyone in a bad mood, but most people don’t generally accuse people, at random, of being criminals.

    So, now I’m looking for pubs in Camberwell with good beer and pleasant owners. Any suggestions?

  28. Sun & Doves. Although if you look at his doors in a funny way, it might even set Mark off.

    Missing Camberwell, in a funny way.

  29. Circumcision and other practices are not just religious. They are very often cultural as well, so I don’t think you are really in a position to criticise it, barbaric as it may seem. In South Africa, when Xhosa boys reach the age of 16 (or 18) they are taken out into the bush for a week, where they go through a circumcision ritual. It is dangerous, and quite a few of them die, but it is a Xhosa tradition going back hundreds of years, and just because people in Europe think its barbaric and cruel, doesn’t mean that we have the right to question it.

    I personally don’t agree with it, but if it is part of a culture, rather than just out and out sexual or other abuse, I can’t see what one can do about it.

  30. no offence to you Mark, but the beer at the S & D ain’t exactly flash — being the same S&N /Enterprise stuff available everywhere in the UK. We know you keep your ale well & serve it properly, but face it Witherspoons has a far better range of imported beers & british ales.

  31. Mike: if Xhosa boys who’d move to Camberwell were taken out to the New Forest for a week to go through a circumcision ritual and some of them died, it wouldn’t be a matter of European opinion whether it was ‘barbaric’, it would be a murder or man slaughter charge. Likewise, if there’s female genital mutilation going on in Camberwell then it’s not a matter of respecting cultures but of enforcing UK law. Therefore we are absolutely in a position to criticise it here.

  32. @Mike: Cannibalism was part of some cultures. Stoning still is. And ‘honour’ killings. I’d love for you to go to one of the victims named in the article, who say:

    “No one can tell me there is nothing wrong with this. It is not true. It has dramatically changed my life.”

    … and tell her she should just shut up and accept it because it’s her culture.

  33. recently moved from caldecot road with the sun and doves on the corner to camberwell new road, and have had a local relocation as a consequence. I can confirm that The Bear is pleasant surprise, the beer is COLD! in that condensationtastic way, and a good selection of lagers. Ate there last saturday and was astonished to find that the food was actually really nice. I say astonished as I’ve eaten in virtually all the pubs round Camberwell and keep being sadly disappointed. Ambience is pretty good too (jaw hits floor)

  34. Oh good — I was sightly afraid that the Bear was just a continuation of Jack Beards by another (shortened) name: I must pay a visit soon

  35. nope, it’s a complete overhaul thank god. Think the guy that runs it used to run the 100 club (now smoke rooms) near clapham, according to a friend who live up that way

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