Booze and the working class

Southwark Lambeth council are considering introducing a ‘saturation zone’ to Clapham, to limit the number of new bars or clubs — and a similar scheme could be imposed on Camberwell. I would suggest that Camberwell’s problems lie not with the number of bars and clubs, but the number of off-licences, and would welcome a scheme to regulate them. I would also welcome a scheme to stop off-sales outside licensing hours. I would also welcome a scheme to give me millions of pounds.

I’ve changed my route to work now, and cycle past Evelina Mansions on New Church Road. I was always intrigued by the plaque about the “Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd”, and did a quick search to look up their origins; turns out the company is still in existence, now known as IDS Ltd. They manage over 1,300 properties across London, and were:

established as the Four Per Cent Dwellings Company in 1885 by a group of Jewish philanthropists who hoped to relieve the overcrowding in homes in the East End of London.

No doubt they were originally for workers in the factories along the canal, but now they are pretty exclusive homes, from what I can see.

Finally, I’ve decided I want to join the library in Camberwell again, but I remembered that I didn’t return a book I borrowed 10 years or so ago. Do you think they have a record of that? And how much is 10 years of late fees?

Author: Peter

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

125 thoughts on “Booze and the working class”

  1. Ahh JohnnyM got there before me!

    The problem is any saturation Zone imposed on Camberwell is that it would hit the old issue of people in two boroughs so a Southwark imposed Saturation Zone would only cover about 34 of Camberwell.

    I also think Peter is right Camberwell does not suffer form too many on licenses (eg pubs and bars) but too many off liceses and a Saturation Zone could further damage Camberwell by discouraging people from opening good pubs, bars and resturants here as a saturation zone makes it very difficlt to gain new licenses or alterations to existing ones — essentially the burden of proof that the new premises will not contribute to increased anti social behaviour in the area lie with the license applicant in saturation zones whereas normally it lies with the police and local authority.

    Alos, if we accept Camberwell main problems arise form off licenses rather than bars and pubs a Cumulative impact policy would not help as DCMS Guidance on the subject states that it would not normally be acceptable for a Cumulative Impact policy to be adopted on the basis of concentration of shops, stores or supermarkets selling alcohol for consumption off the premises.

  2. Peter — you make several interesting points in your intro. It seems that IDS are primarily a Jewish Housing Association (from their website, at least), but that they can no longer offer housing exclusively to Jewish people. It may be that the original “4%” name was the proportion of Jewish people in Britain when they were set up and that this name was adopted to avoid attracting anti-semitic attention. I’m only guessing on this.
    As to the licensing laws — I’m really confused on what these are now. I’ve seen people buying White Lightning and the like at 1000 on a Sunday morning in newsagents in Waterloo on several occasions. I’m not sure whether that’s legal or not, but I know I don’t like witnessing it.

  3. Mushtimushta — Since the introduction of the Licensing Act 2003 in November 2005 it is possible to apply to sell alcohol at any time — even 24 hours a day if you want to — so it’s highly likely that what you are seeing is perfectly legal (but of course it may not be!!)

    By the way i have to know all this as part of my job — i don’t spend my evenings reading up on licensing law for fun!!!

  4. Did you hear that, everyone? I’ve made several interesting points! I’ll remember this day for a long time to come.

    According to these figures, there are only 910 supermarkets/shops in the whole country which are licensed to sell alcohol 24 hours, so what you saw in Waterloo may be legal, but is by no means certainly so.

  5. I always thought that the 4% figure on Evelina Mansions was the return that investors would get on their investment in the venture — below the market rate that could probably be achieved by investing in property but still better than a savings account.

  6. The housing is pre-welfare state social housing financed by great banker Rothschild.

    The historian Niall Ferguson mentioned Evelina Mansions in his book the House of Rothschild — accessible online through amazon. The housing was developed for poor Jewish people who had arrived as refugees following persecution in Eastern Europe. Interesting it says that by 1911 the Evelina Mansions dwellings had no Jewish tenants

  7. Peter

    I’m afraid the scheme to give you millions of pounds has been used to write off the millions of pounds in library late charges; life stinks don’t it?

    And you are wise to join the library; Camberwell will probably never have a bookshop again.

    Cheery mood today!


  8. I reckon the number of off licences is probably demand driven. Closing them down probably won’t change the number of drunks here and won’t make it that much more difficult to find booze. It might make the remaining off licences more profitable.

    I’ve just had my car broken into for the second time this year. Add this to the theft of my bike and my wife having her handbag stolen and I’m getting pretty tired of Camberwell’s much lauded ‘edginess and vibrancy’.

    Sorry, not in the cheeriest mood myself today.

  9. I have done a quick search with my eyebrow tweezers and this is Peter’s first ever mention of the word “Jewish” on this site, although, as we know, Spring Song by Mendelsohn was organically called Camberwell Green — and he was Jewish.

    On the back, big, double-door of St Giles Church, there are fabulous carvings of Jewish folks — Adam, Eve, etc., with no clothes on and larking about — it is a warm and wonderful sight to see in a Christian church, begod.

    At this time of year, the light floods through Ruskin’s east window — the predominant bright light colour is blue, as besuits SE5 to this day!

    The vicar, a good chap with his eyes on the ball at all times, reminded me and our baby that the churchyard has a real prescence because people have — are there still — been buried there since about 1100 AD.

    The church is open every Wednesday morning — it is like a spaceship — wonderful.

    Hannah, you are more lovely than you will ever, ever know, with your detailed, accurate knowledge and girly exclamation marks!!!

    I would vote myself that the Tigris supermarket in the bosom of the Heygate, selling 6 half-litre cans of fine, Polish, very strong beer for 5 quid, really is the Garden of Eden for booze, Mesopotamia, that fabulous triangle of paradisaical pleasure, that SATURATION ZONE beyond a wise man’s wildest dreams, crazy old Hebrew guy that he is, getting his secretary to write it all down, as he makes it up as he goes along, ah, the Song of Solomon, and so on, she scribbles away in her short skirt, changing a word here and there, to make it even better.

  10. Either ban White Lightning or don’t but it’s gross no matter what time of the day it’s sold. It’s massively judgemental to say it’s ok to buy it at 4pm but not at 10am. Total nonsense. Not everyone takes the morning train and works 9–5. Sheena and Dolly.

    As if the problem is off-licenses. The problem is nutters and alchoholics.

    My all time favourite famous Jew is Onan who invented the withdrawal method and was killed for it then labelled a wanker for all time.

    Either him or Larry David.

  11. @Alan 14
    I concede to your argument and grudgingly accept that my earlier comment was judgemental.
    I’ve quoted Dorothy Parker on this site before, but did you know that she called her pet parrot Onan — because he used to spill his seed on the ground! I am not making this stuff up!

  12. And here is the extract from Niall Ferguson’s book that Mumu mentions above. Thanks for the pointer, Mumu:

    “One criticism sometimes advanced by critics of Rothschild philanthropy was that, far from promoting assimilation, the Industrial Dwellings Company merely encouraged the creation of new ghettos. Thus it has been pointed out that 95 per cent of the tenants in the Charlotte de Rothschild Buildings were Jews. But this is misleading. At the Directors’ meeting of February 18, 1890, it was agreed that “as far as possible, the proportion of Christian tenants to Jewish tenants should be from 33 to 40 per cent” in the company’s Brady Street flats. In 1899 space was reserved in the company’s East Ham property for the construction of non-Jewish places of worship “in order that the estate should in no way form a ‘Ghetto.’ ” Though the Charlotte de Rothschild Buildings were mainly occupied by Jewish families, a third of the tenants in the Navarino Manions in Stoke Newington Buildings were not, according to figures for 1904. The company’s Camberwell estate (Evelina Mansions) had no Jewish tenants at all in 1911.”

  13. Alan is right about the problem being people. It’s about some people’s behaviour. The next problem is how to deal with those people and their behaviour effectively, so they are not a problem to the rest of us.

    I know a few Jews. Onan was so ahead of his time. Perhaps he should have been more discrete about his logical discovery of natural contraception, or did one of his missuses spill the, er, beans?

    Nick George is St Giles’ vicar. He is as Dagmar says. And so he needs to be — being here.

    The saturation policy has been discussed here before. Like all proposals it will not help Camberwell unless implemented pragmatically with an end vision in sight and, as Peter and Hannah describe, could well be counter productive if not applied sensibly.

    Nothing in this SE5 area is applied with a grand vision in mind. Everything is piecemeal. Public money is spent in Camberwell as a palliative. It’s done in a despairing way by Council Officers because there’s no other way of doing it. There are no really effective lines of communication with the local population or traders, there’s no way of finding out what people want for their area. When they are reached out to the information that comes back is fragmented and not joined up – a reflection of the pressures of the area. There’s no one to put these fragments together and develop a long term plan. There’s no guide as to how money needs to be spent, no vision, no development plan, no planning outline that means anything at all for the long term shape of the area… for what Camberwell could be.

    The improvements money spent this way have negligible long term environmental impact. Whenever money is spent this way a little local improvement is tangible for a while, part of an area feels brighter, cleaner, less oppressive than it did, for a while, but soon gets buried and lost layered beneath the piles of rubbish, dirt, grime, human detritus that accumulate through a perennial continuing general lack of care for the streets. The populace bumbles along feeling like maybe things are getting better when they are not. And as time goes by and the memory of that incremental step forward fades, people grumble again that the area felt like it was moving on but when you think about it, it hasn’t really has it?

    Huge amounts of public money is wasted across Camberwell like this, just have a look around. As no one in ‘authority’ has the wherewithal, or remit to pull it together, it just goes on and on and on, it should be our job to make sure that future money spent on Camberwell is used to join the gaps instead of peppering the area with a brighter corner here or an improved bit of signage there that has no relation or bearing to anything else around it.

    What if the whole of Denmark Hill were to be repaved? It’s going to happen, it’s a lot of money being spent in Camberwell (it won’t be paved by contractors who actually know how to lay paving of course. Oh, no no, that went out about thirty years ago). Will spending a lot of cash on the pavement in Denmark Hill actually improve the area? What kind of paving will make things better here? Think about it.

    What else needs to happen to make it worth while even bothering to repave Denmark Hill?

    The November issue of Southwark Life landed on the doormat recently:

    ‘Your ideas wanted’

    How would you make the borough a better place or improve a council service? If you live or work in Southwark, the council’s ideas factory wants to hear from you. It’s your opportunity to share your ideas with decision-makers. How would you improve services and places, make better use of existing resources or bring in outside ones?

    The deadline for suggestions is November 19. Those whose isead are selected will be invited to the town happ to explorte them with executive members and service directors. For information, call 020 7525 7518, email ideasfactory@​southwark.​gov.​uk or go to /ideasfactory to submit your idea online.’

    So there’s a few days left – flood them with ideas and see what happens.

    Camberwell needs a Community Development Trust. Like Coin Street but obviously tuned to this area. That’s my idea.

  14. Agreed, Peter.

    But then you will get c***s parking on it every day, as on Camberwell New Road, Denmark Road, Wyndham Road and even the redeveloped section of Walworth Road. Did you see that one coming, Living Streets?

    So in an era when uncourageous local authorities are still psychologically unable to accept that motorists can behave in an anti-social manner, the solution is a difficult one.

  15. They’ve repaved lots of areas around here recently. Grove lane for example between the Hermit’s and The Canning.

    They have used flag stones rather than tarmac which is great because it can be maintained easily each time they put in new pipes and cables wihtout becoming shabby looking.

    It looks smarter and improves the all round feel. It’s a step towards enstilling a sense of civic pride.

    It’s safer too and it’s got those bobbly bits so blind people know where they are..

    More of the same would be good.

    I don’t think you cna say it’s not worth sorting out the pavements because there is no grand scheme for sacing Camberwell froom the bands of cock waving drunkken vagabonds.

    It’s all about achievable goals.

  16. @Alan — if they’re so unabashed, the Council should put their cocks in the stocks.

    Those of you living on red routes Church Street and New Road, the best remake you can hope for from TfL (who govern your pavements) is tarmac. So don’t even ask and pray it never comes up in committee at TfL. Keep your old broken flagstones — much better, and more civic. Less Honda Civic.

  17. Yes Alan. Perhaps that would be tricky. I mean what if a nutter jumped in a giant bull dozer and started heading right into Butterfly Walk.


    *no offence to the nutters who can’t help their condition, which is the direct result of cars

  18. @24 however in Shoreditch TfL have wonderrfully repaved a red route with York Stone and very fine it looks too! — and they do have a lot of money for refurbishemnt of public spaces and squares — maybe we could get them to do some camberwell areas?

  19. On another note does anyone know what is happening to the Red Star?

    I went past the other day and it seems to be being done up — to what it wasnt clear. Anyone have any further info?

  20. I mentioned Red Star a while back. It is being cleaned and done up to try to get someone to let it from the owners of the original lease as far as I can see…

    IF anyone’s interested in getting more info call Ian on 07973 370 498. He’s the contact number I was given when I asked. I just tried but the phone was switched off.

    It used to be a gay bar. In my view it still should be.

    But what the hell do I know?

  21. @18 CDT a very good idea. Not sure coin st is the model (it is blessed because of its location and car park). But there are other examples. perhaps lb southwark could gift the town hall if/when they clear out. is anyone pursuing the cdt idea?

  22. Anyone else not thrilled about being charged £91/yr to park outside your own flat in Camberwell’s new Controlled Parking Zones? The council say the fee is to make the scheme self-financing but adds, rather ambiguously, that any excess will be used for other traffic related projects.

    I take public transport to work and tend to use the car at the weekends, visiting friends and family who live outside London. I have no problem finding a parking space and £91 seems a lot in addition to the £1200 insurance I pay because I live in SE5. Surely parking fines alone will generate a surplus of revenue?

    The council claim that the aim of the CPZ is to ease congestion and help shops by freeing up parking spaces. But I can’t imagine a convoy of cars suddenly roaring over here, loading a meter and buying lots of items for a pound, thus saving our local economy. They do say the majority responded in favour of the scheme. If that’s you, please explain how the CPZ scheme benefits Camberwell and how it eases congestion. I can think of a more effective way to ease congestion — it involves Network Rail and a certain bridge — but we’ve already covered that one, right?!

  23. Depends how its used but if it discourages people from using cars, reduces the number of cars that sit dormant in the same place for weeks on end and raises cash for public transport, cycle tracks and pedestrianisation then I’m all for it.

  24. forgive my ignorance as a non car owner but don’t you have to pay for residents permits anyway?

    Sounds cheap compared to the £10,000 plus £100 per annum fee charged for the car park by my block of flats!!

    I think i’ll stick to the modest £50 per month to use Ken’s fine red buses and not a parking problem to be had!!

  25. The controlled parking in Camberwell has never been ‘controlled’, it’s just happened in a fairly haphazard way across the area. It’s particularly silly on the Lambeth / Southwark borders where, in some places, there’s control on one side of the road and no restrictions on the other.

    CDT transfer of ownership

    Agree Coin Street has amazing land values and it’s not SE5 but it’s a great start for us because they have 25 years experience, they work with Lambeth and Southwark and are keen to support new Development Trusts through start up and growth.

    There’s quite a lot to do but really. It’s not complicated. Really it’s not.

    1) Leisure Centre (baths) granted to CDT plus cash injection to the Trust of £1.5 million currently set aside for maintenance & repairs to pump prime the Trust. CDT establishes long term redevelopment plan based on proven need and aspirations for the site. Keep swimming as core part of future use. Previous schemes have been nowhere near ambitious enough for the site and have revolved around simple renovation of existing facilities. Completely useless for the way we live now. Loads of space is wasted. This major asset being owned by the CDT allows leverage for borrowing against further bricks & mortar. Site developed to include long term rental income as well as core provision of health & fitness ‘obligations’. E.g. a new doctors’ surgery could net a rent of 50K a year; dentists, the library moved to an upper floor, and so on. All possibilities for income should be looked at before discarding.

    2) Camberwell Police station bought as a commercial expansion by CDT and redeveloped looking at local need and aspirations for retail and housing. A police station shop front included in the future use. Community wardens, local Forum, Traders, and voluntary organisations would use a facility here as their window on Camberwell… shared space, hot desking whatever.

    3) Leases owned by Southwark locally — the library and shops at bottom of Grove Lane for example, are managed by CDT to correct free market trash that’s happening all around us and sustain the sort of retail that’s needed to encourage more quality and better footfall.

    All this has to be done while looking at what happens to the local parks, paving, general amenities and services for SE5. Establishing Camberwell walks, more facilities for recreation that don’t involve booze, perhaps more exhibition space, live performance space, theatre, film stuff.

    It would take ten years. Or a little less.

  26. You know what I think would make for a better centre? Shops & cafes around the green. Although I love those Peabody Trust brick apartments, I wish they could be moved back to make space. Either that or close the top of Camberwell Rd and allow them to open there. It could make a really nice municipal space.

    It’ll never happen.

  27. Went to Caravaggios for the 3rd time in 7 days and have been very impressed each time. It has a very nice atmosphere and is very reasonably priced. It was packed this lunchtime — proving there is a good market in Camberwell so long as you give a bit of good service and don’t try and rip everyone off.

  28. Butterball — what gives you the right to leave your car stored on the street, taking up valuable local space, at all? Anti-social, I call it.

    You’re in the minority, as a car-owning household. Don’t try and pretend you’re speaking for the common man. A 98% subsidy on market rate — and you’re moaning.

  29. Hilarious isn’t it? Good people who wanna improve Camberwell are the bad guys for having an opinion on CPZ’s?

    Sorry Guru, you could ban all cars or tax them beyond believe and you’ve still got the same problems in Camberwell. Besides, it won’t happen and even if it does, it would happen across London or the whole country the same and we’re still stuck on the same rung.

    There are too many places withing spitting distance where cars are every bit (or more) prevelant and they manage a nice community with clean streets, good shops, and little anti-social behaviour. It’s about time you schemers let down your loony left walls and start holding people accountable for their bad behaviour instead of blaming those who contribute positvely to the area.

    Funny. I went back months even years on this blog and guess what? We’re still holding a talking shop about the same ol same ol.

  30. Wtf do you do about anything societal, JohnnyM, except carp and boast to your friends over drinks about “winding up champagne socialists”?

    Nothing, I suspect, as you cross the road to avoid the next anti-social incident, head cowed, on your way to the internet to chide others for not standing up to the criminal element.

  31. “champagne socialists”, “loony left”… what next, JohnnyM? “Yuppies”? “Red Ken”? I know there’s an 80s revival in fashion, but I didn’t realise it had extended to language as well.

  32. Yes the left isn’t guilty of similar hyperbole. Though I did see some interesting exagerated characterisations on a highly charged leftwing political website. You can read them here:

    Anyway, perhaps a vote of confidence? Are you the whole of Camberwell backing Guru in saying the key to improving the area is to elminate cars? That’s what he wants. He thinks with that sorted the ills of Camberwell will fall away. So let’s have it folks, are any of the rest of you tired of hearing his diatribes or do you support his way as the promised land?

  33. JohnnyM the weakness of your debate is betrayed by your need to distort my position, which is to regulate properly, but not eliminate, cars.

    We’ve got a full programme for Camberwell. But as you doubtless have not attended a single Forum meeting, nor a Southwark Council meeting of any kind, you won’t be aware of that.

    And yes, the Forum does intend to give people the right to vote on single issues of all kinds in Camberwell. It will be a historical first in SE5, and you will see it after the forthcoming site upgrade, perhaps in January-February.

  34. From Wikipedia: “A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “set up a straw man” or “set up a straw man argument” is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent.”


  35. You might disagree with the detail, but Mr Guru’s general point that cars have too dominant a position in SE5 is right. Take a walk around the Camberwell Green junction. The traffic around there is truly enervating. And as part of any regeneration, it needs rethinking. I think too he has a point about the standard of driving and parking. Jaw droppingly bad at times and dangerous; and often behind the heightened sense of aggression one feels in the area I’m no white wine leftie, but politics at the local level doesn’t really lend itself to dogma from either wing. It’s about action. And I think Mark’s ideas around what a CDT trust might do are really rather exciting, in contrast to arid debates about cars, cycling, CPZs, offies and pate.

  36. Cars are tricky, though. It’s proven that no though roads and no traffic across housing estates make them feel less safe and leave more opportunity for vandals, etc. In some areas around Walworth/Camberwell/Peckham it’s advisable to stay near roads with traffic at night (evening now it’s Winter) if you’re on foot.

    But large parts of the area are ruined by commuters driving in from Kent and Sussex. Locals aren’t the problem.

  37. Yeah, Mark Dodds’ ideas are good.

    The leisure center is really run down. It gives it a kind of charm, but would you swim there?

  38. To maybe contradict some other posts…

    There’s a lot of community around here, especially for people with young families. It’s really enjoyable.

    But most of these people are mostly focused on getting by and raising their kids, so don’t have much time or energy for big picture stuff.

  39. Btw, thanks to Peter and others who post about the new places to shop, eat, drink, and be entertained.

    What I’d really like is a place where you can buy vegetables (fresh, not fozen).

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