Highs and lows

On Saturday we had the privilege of seeing Camberwell (and the rest of London) from above, as we took advantage of the Open House day at the William Booth Memorial College to climb the pigeon-shit-encrusted spiral stairs of the tower and take a look at the fantastic vista it overlooks. I have some nice pictures, which I’ll post shortly. At the top of the tower I met Merrick, of this blog’s comments fame. Not sure if anyone else was around at the time I was; I was there at about 3pm. I was the one with the scruffy beard and the sun-kissed look.

On the way down to the Chinese supermarket to get some fish, I noticed that Willow has closed down. Restaurants just don’t seem able to hold their own in this area.

I didn’t attend the march to save Camberwell Baths; call me cynical, but I think marches have to be backed up with something a little more substantial. We live in a society where facilities are judged not by their usefulness, but by their ability to turn a profit; in order to show that the Baths are of use to the community, they need to be used more — however, in order to be used more, they need to be cleaned up and reformed. Catch 22. Instead of a march, there should have been a swim-in; everyone pays their money and fills the pool. The sight of all that money crossing the counters would have the owners far more interested.

Finally, here’s possibly my favourite bit of Camberwell history I’ve ever read:

Army and Navy pensioners held a cricket match between one-armed and one-legged veterans in Camberwell, London, in August 1841. The Army lost by 19 runs to 176, allegedly because they had more one-legged players.

Author: Peter

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

128 thoughts on “Highs and lows”

  1. Great idea for next time. Will you put organise it? The point of having the march is that everyone in the community, especially the kids, a) can dress up, join in and shout a bit b) it gets in the local press, which councillors read and take notice of.

  2. To Helen:

    Which councillors will take notice of this and what are they supposed to do once they’ve noted it?

    They can’t do anything about the baths except posture and gripe in a vote raising partisan way against Southwark’s published and ratified plans for the facility.

    Marching is more likely to make the Council think there’s not a lot of point engaging with the community in Camberwell because all they do is either NOTHING or biting the hand that’s prepared to offer a lift up.

  3. Random Kia again guys so bear with me.. anyone know anywhere in Cambers that makes Shawarmas? I mean the real authentic ones with garlic sauce not your usual Donna Kebab.. I can’t keep going up to Edgewere Road to get my fix! Thanks in Advance

  4. Noura in Grovenor Gardens is incredibly cheap for real Lebanese food and is laid back, too, worth a trip on the bus. The reasonably priced and insanely huge Bekaa Valley wines are full of Levantine mystery.

  5. I saw that aswell Stuart but looks like they cut corners when ordering their shop sign as it looks like they fished it out of the local skip. I am slowly working my way down that row of shops as I want to try a bit of eveything. Next on my list is 4‑t-4 lick smacking african cusine(gotta love that name) and the NEW grill place on the same side of the street as KFC.

  6. The new pizzeria is owned by the same chap who runs the Flying Fish. We went for the two for one on Monday and were pleasantly surprised — not too thick and not slathered in bad cheese.

  7. @ Yak

    Tried the new pizza place myself the other week.

    It’s ok I thought.. nothing outstanding and slightly too expensive if you’re not getting the two for one deal.. over ten quid for an 11 inch meat pizza is a bit steep for Camberwell.

  8. @ Caroline — love the bit about Harriet being caught speeding. Thanks for posting it.
    I found out a bit more today about the Kennedy’s Sausages closure — it appears that a couple of their shop leases came up for renewal and the rent hike was so huge, they decided to throw in the towel for the whole chain.
    I was not one of their best customers, but the olde worlde feel of the place appealed to me. I will be sad to see them go and sadder still that the factory on Peckham Rd will close. Another small-scale producer in the Borough bites the dust. I hope that the employees find alternative work and wish the owners the best. Thanks for the service over so many years.

  9. I have lived in Camberwell for almost 30 years and I never went in to Kennedy’s Sausages. Why? Because it was crap. The only surprise is that it lasted as long as it did.

    There seems to be a theme here — lamenting the closure of a store/pub that no one has actually bothered to frequent with their custom. Cf. Wordsworth, The Dispensary, Willow, et al.

    I hope this doesn’t happen to The Bear.

  10. I’m kind of with you on that one Norman, although not quite; I actually did use Wordsworth, a lot, even knowing that I could find cheaper online; so I was gutted when it closed.

    But yes, if we don’t support local business, we can’t be too cross when it closes down. Having said that, there are too many businesses that just don’t move with the times; Kennedy’s was a prime example, and Sophocles similarly — they’re still selling the same range of bread they must have sold 25 years ago when their clientele was predominantly Greek/Cypriot.

    I want to have a broad range of independents providing variety to the area, but they have to at least pay attention to the changing face of the community.

  11. Hello,
    I’ve lurked on the edges of this blog for a while now — so time to stop lurking and join the conversation.

    I’m relatively new to Camberwell, but agree with Norman and Peter above, it’s great to have the independent businesses that there are, but compared to some of their newer contemporaries elsewhere, these more established ones are just a bit tired; like Sophocles bread (chocolate cake’s still all too tempting after swim however), or Cruzon’s veg at the end of the day. Having lived towards Dalston where the number of Turkish shops kept the competition up, or in Brighton, where the Open Market was forced to raise its game in quality and more competative prices when a Turkish (possibly Albanian??) shop opened on London Road as well, don’t these businesses just need shaking up a bit?

    Did other people see this by the way? An ‘Audio slideshow: the disappearing Walworth Road’:

  12. See London Lite last night? 42% rise in house prices in Camberwell in the last 12 months apparently.

    Whilst I’m not sure how accurate the figures are I do think they make an interesting relative measure.

    It said that Kensington was the only area to outperform Camberwell.

  13. Harvest It! in Myatts Field Park looks good this Sunday.

    Another event that may interest you on Sunday is the London Freewheel — a mass London cycle ride. Around 10 miles of central London roads will be closed to all motor traffic, the aim is to encourage cycling in London and follows on from events in places like Berlin.

    There are two ‘hubs’ nearby from where people will be leaving for central London — Peckham Rye Park and Clapham Common.

    Further information is available at http://www.londonfreewheel.com/ (although website is not particularly good) — dont worry when it says that registration is closed: just turn up on the day, pick up your pack at the starting point and (as the late great Freddie Mercury once said) get on your bikes and ride!

  14. No sense in debating the merits of an extinct sausage shop.

    42%! That’s loads- don’t feel you have to thank me.

  15. What is the BIG deal about their sausages anyhow? Are they THAT good? Can a regular customer please tell me what the rave is?

  16. Sophocles haven’t been selling the same bread for 25 yrs. The shop opened on March 30, 1990 which I know because it’s the same day I moved [back] to Camberwell. And they ran a promotion where the first xx customers that day got a free ticket to the pool… and what’s wrong with conmniuing to bake classics like halloumi bread?

  17. Pardon my brassy question Peter. You and your wife appear to have no children and appear to work professional jobs. You often speak of going to some very nice places, dinners, etc and to my mind have been on many a long, expensive holiday.

    Surely getting on the property ladder isn’t such a struggle? We’d hate to lose you in Camberwell. And no doubt the rent you’ve paid has been enormous when added up. Surely there is a way to get that first place? Am I totally missing something?

  18. I go to Sophocles every week.

    I am afraid Peter that you are the architect of your own downfall. I am not only refering to your inactivity in purchasing in the area but the fact that you have done more for local house price inflation than I ever could.

    Next time you set up an internet forum to harness the middleclasses in an up and coming area try to make sure that you have bought a house there first.

  19. 42%…
    I wonder where these figures came from? I certainly wouldn’t get too excited, Alan, or indeed downhearted, Peter G. The London Shite describes the average price of a 2 bed flat in Camberwell as £365K. So I’d be surprised if they looked any further than the top of Camberwell Grove.

  20. I was rather surprised at the figures quoted — go to websites like rightmove, findaproperty etc and the two bed flats start at about £200,000

  21. It is a shame to see independent retailers closing and the rent hike issue seems to have hit a few on the Walworth road and in SE5. It would be interesting to to know who the Freeholders of these places are. I think communities need a balance of independent shops as well as useful chains. What this area doesn’t need is more cheque cashing shops, nail and beauty parlours, betting shops, mobile phone purveyors and pound shops. There’s a place for them but we have lots to chose from already. They seem to appear all the time and don’t seem affected by property rents.

  22. Whilst I’m not sure how accurate the figures are I do think they make an interesting relative measure.

    It said that Kensington was the only area to outperform Camberwell.

  23. the data is junk. reflects the types of property coming on the market as much as anything. so if a couple more people on camberwell grove than is the norm decide to flog their flats, se5’s average flat price goes up. prices have risen abt 50% in this area in the last two years I reckon.

  24. That’s good news for me, what with a murder on my road and another one just round the corner i was worrying that my home’s value was disappearing down the plughole.
    The figures might be rubbish but they put a smile on my face!

  25. I think that Sophocles, Cruson & Pauls particularly are great shops — they have a good loyal customer base, sell things that people actually want ‑decent quality at a decent cost, & most importantly make money…they are in no danger of going the way of Kennedys- still stuck in the 1950s with very little product diversification or imagination to meet modern needs.
    If people want to buy overpriced poncey deligoods or bread — fuck off to East Dulwich for your foccaia goatcheese etc..

  26. For the record, I like Sophocles & Cruson (and others), and use them regularly; they could still do with updating their product list a little, however, before they go the way of Kennedys.

    For the other record, I was being a little tongue-in-cheek with Alan; I could afford to buy here still, but need to make my move quickly before the type of property I want moves out of my price range.

    If that happens, I will change this blog to start focussing purely on the negative stories, and not allow comments to contradict me, until the speculators are put off and the prices drop again.

  27. How about arranging a few more shootings and stabbings as well?!

    But try and tie them in with the roads that have houses for sale on them — potential buyers love to see yellow Metropolitan Police murder boards outside housing

  28. On a serious note, I think a new law is needed to prevent buy-to-let in slum areas, and prevent non-occupancy there.

    This would force regeneration of those areas, with far more owner occupiers, while at the same time stopping prices going silly. There would be less life lost.

    On the flip side, the property pension funds which apparently occupies some of the moral high ground in these parts wouldn’t be overjoyed…

    However, recent events may yet force the corks back into their champagne bottles…

  29. The house price data sucks. I have a beutiful 2‑bed, two-storey house for sale on Grace’s Road at £315,000. Who wants it?

  30. Kennedy’s..

    Kennedy’s didn’t have an amazing array of goods on offer, and the service rarely came with a smile even after shopping there over two years, but I went in soley for the bacon, which was the best in Camberwell. Buy it from Somerfield and it generally shrinks to the size of a postage stamp upon application of heat.

    It’s hard to say what’s going to replace it either.. Ideally another butcher but nothing probably. Sounds like the rent is quite high round here, but no-one wants to open a decent shop because no-one shops that much round here.

    And actually, if someone did have the balls to set up an independant shop selling focaccia and goats cheese round here I’d quite happily spend at least some of my money there rather than shovelling it in the coffers of Scummerfield, which is just an institutional insult to its customers.

  31. Yes, this is Camberwell, not East Dulwich, and Kennedy’s is a Camberwell feature — if we want focaccia squashages, we get in our Nissan Figaros and wend thence through Bellenden waving at our friends like in Noddy on the telly.

  32. I believe — my well-documented views on Council planning and parking policies aside — that one reason for the Kennedy’s chute is that the typical Camberwell consumer is now more overtly metrosexual than ever, resulting in lower demand for real meat.

    At least, so it seems, they owned their properties; in case anyone didn’t realise, it is all the Kennedy’s’ including Walworth which are closing down.

  33. If the Kennedy’s sausages contain balls, maybe that’s why Camberwell people have such poke, edge, vim and crunch.

    Reg is right. The Metro-Sexual-Lites don’t want real sausages, real black pudding, real bombs, real Zeppelins or probably real er, er…

    When all the flats — Datchelor, etc. — are filled with such london-paper-people, the streets will be clogged with Ocado vans with organic avocados on board.

    I advocate a march, complete with small children with their innate interest in sausages, from Kennedy’s Peckham Road manufactory to the outlet on Denmark Hill.

    March? Or mush? What is it to be?

    Real women, real men, real meat! Arise!

    Full-on or Fulham? Camberwell or Clapham?

    Easily led? Or SE5?

  34. The Council have recently set up a slush fund to assist the needs of the gray (sic) squirrel. It was decided that the gray squirrel, as a comparatively recent immigrant, needed more funds to integrate better, whereas the red squirrel had no need of such assistance, being native. The gray squirrel will be one of the headline targets for grant assistance in the new Southwark Plan.

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