The new Camberwell Renewal magazine is out, and has an interesting (if brief) article on early immigrants to the area; the 18th Century Huguenot families Minet, Champion and De Crespigny who have lent their names to our streets, and the 19th Century German immigrants who had to Anglicise their names when the First World War started, and as a result have only a limited psycho-geographic impact; The Platanes on Champion Hill was owned by the Kleinwort family, and the Beneckes of Denmark Hill played host to Felix Mendelssohn when he wrote his famous ‘Spring Song’ (nee ‘Camberwell Green’).

I had wondered if the Walworth Road was named after William Walworth, fishmonger turned Mayor, who ended the peasants’ revolt by stabbing Wat Tyler in the neck at Smithfield. Turns out the area pre-dates the man, and has a fascinating history all of its own.

The story of the Wilson roads is equally interesting.  Who else has stories of their area’s history to tell?

Elsewhere in Camberwell Renewal they have a photographic retrospective of the year gone by. The new toilet on Camberwell Green gets mentioned rather prominently, which shows how little real renewal has happened. I think I should start planning my year-end review soon.

Reader sg has suggested a meet-up soon, perhaps around the roaring flame-effect of the Hermit’s Cave; anyone else interested, or is the festive season occupying your time now?

Author: Peter

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

24 thoughts on “Origins”

  1. sorry, nothing to do with the above, but does anyone know why peckham road was closed by police this morning?

  2. So Mary Datchelor School closed because they didn’t want to convert to a Secondary Comprehensive — Given the poor record of ILEA/Southwark Education, I think in retrospect that they were spot on with their suspicions…

    Wilson’s Boys School got out to Sutton before they could be pushed…Ahh! now I’m beginning to see why Camberwell is what it is today…A great shame — I went to a secondary comprehensive in Southwark and I had a nightmare 5 years — I’m pretty sure a grammar school would have served me better — I was certainly bright enough to pass the exam…boo hoo boo hoo!

  3. Eusebiovic — i’ve never understood the antipathy toward grammar schools — i went to a state grammar school and it gave me a lot of academic opportunities that my parents would not have been able to afford not least studying latin and ancient history at a level — by contrast my equally bright but not academic brother went to a comprehensive and did just as well — I don’t think i any way i was more privileged cos i went to a grammar school it was just a different way of learning that suited me rather than my brother.

    What i don’t understand even further is that currently in grammar school free London my other halfs son is having to take 4 exams to get into his local state school — i only did one exam to get into grammar school!

  4. Hannah — Hmmmm…I too think that it was a mistake to get rid of grammar schools in London

    Like you mentioned a “one size fits all” type education doesn’t do many kids justice — I am certain that a grammar school would have suited me better…

    I was always more inclined towards the arts,humanities and languages then the technical side of things and from what I gather grammar schools were much,much better understanding children who responded better to those subjects…

    Which confirms my suspicion that life is not about politics…Whoever is in charge just has to conform to the whims of the anonymous bourgeoise supremacy (as it has always been,always will be) and pretend to us all that they actually have the power to change anything at all…

    A true humanitarian or socialist would never agree to such things — My family were not wealthy but a grammar school would have been a better option for me, I am certain of that…

  5. click 20 mph please, TfL, on all red routes through Camberwell click there is no ‘acceptable loss’ of human life in exchange for greater traffic circulation for the economy click and besides 20mph would actually increase average traffic speed across your network click, whirr

  6. It was outside the Town Hall, I think; on the Heart FM traffic news this morning they said between Shenley and Vestry (I think).

    I had to go to the dentist this morning, and after I took the bus to work. Traffic was completely backed up Denmark Hill, as drivers tried to sneak across from Church Street to New Road, then blocked off the yellow junction boxes as the traffic on New Road didn’t move. Tossers.

  7. I’m in New York right now, but we live in Peckham Road, and my partner — who saw the unfortunate injured soul — passed along the details. Peckham Road really is too much of a drag strip, not helped by police cars wailing at all hours of the day and night. Btw, understand that Walworth Road remains as jammed as ever despite recent roadworks. Any comments?

  8. I’ve noticed a big improvement on Walworth Rd since the bulk of the roadworks finished; today it took 5 minutes to go from Camberwell Green to Elephant & Castle. How it fares in rush hour, I’m not so sure.

  9. Grammar schools. Mmmm. Now, there is a subject. Eusebiovic — you will, I suspect, ponder for the rest of your life whether school life would have been better for you, if only you weren’t where you were when you were. Who can either say you’re right or you’re wrong. Imagined futures are always better than reality.
    I went to a Grammar School (in London) and I acknowledge that I did benefit from a broadening of my horizons, but I do not mourne the demise of what they represented. They creamed off the brighter kids from the council estates, mixed them with the children of middle class families the couldn’t afford a private education and left the local comprehensives to get on with what was left. I’m unconvinced that that is either morally justifiable or in the interests of society as a whole. And I also experienced a “one size fits all” type of education, Eusebiovic. You’re not alone there.
    Studying Latin did not do as much for me as it did for you, Hannah. Without going into the truisms (about the roots of language) what did it really bring to your life? Perhaps you can now speak fluent Italian? I’d struggle to identify anything. It did make me feel different from everyone else that I “hung out” with outside school and I can’t say that was a good thing. I’m glad they are gone, to be honest. They were an anachronism (or at least, the one I went to was). I think that there is a lot of room for improvement in the education system in London, but I don’t think that bringing back Latin will do that.

  10. Carpe diem, et cetera. The recent (out yesterday) results for primary schools in the area are excellent. Every crocodile you see in Camberwell is a brilliant sight. But the secondary school story you always hear makes you want to bring back hanging, not just latin.

    Can you hear me, Tony Blair. Can you hear me, Tony Brown? Can you hear me Tony Harman?

  11. I went up to The Grove today for the first time in a while and passed what is now a building site — “Camberwell Grove Developments”. To paraphrase Tom Waits, “What are they buildin’ in there?”

  12. @Norman: That’s the infamous Mary Datchelor redevelopment, 100-odd new apartments built by St George. Long opposed by local pressure groups, the revised plans finally got approval this year. Some people think it’s going to be the saviour of Camberwell, others that it’s going to add traffic to an already congested area. Do a search for ‘Datchelor’ here and you’ll find plenty to read.

  13. Some of the driving along Peckham Road is incredible. I’ve seen people actually undertaking others even though it’s single lane.

    Whilst on the topic of bad driving — I was on my bike yesterday and there was a police car parked in the bike box at the lights by the green.

    Walworth Road has mildly improved. It can still take an hour to get to waterloo in rush hour though. I suspect cutting down on the amount of time it can take to get anywhere on public transport from Camberwell might also help cut down on the numbers who resort to using their car.

  14. @13 Mushti — Well i can probably say Latin didn’t help much with my everyday life — i studied Classics at University and now work for a charity specialising in inner city regeneration!! However i’ve been fascinated by ancient history since a vist to the British museum as a very small child and feel very lucky that i was able to continue that love through school and university.

    Latin is a very good route to not only learning a lot of modern european languages it helps us engage with our past — Latin influences law, medical and scientific terms and the english language — laerning it helps unlock all sorts of “diffcult” words and terminology.

    It’s also not about just learning verbs by rote, Classics involves the study of literature, art, philisophy, architecture, sculpture, anthropology, religion and history. I didn’t need to study latin and classics for my current career but i would say it braodened my horizons, made me love learning and probably helped me get better qualifications as i genuinetly enjoyed what i was learning.

  15. who is responsible for the state of the gas repair works opposite camberwell grn (10 Camberwell Grn). The gas compnay dont wont to know?!!!

  16. I can sing the twelve days of christmas in latin; which is one of the few remaining pieces of evidence of a fine victorian education. i can also strip, clean and re-assemble an enfield rifle blindfolded. i went to a very strange school you see.

    atque perdicem in arbore


  17. I went to Wilson’s Grammar School in the 60s and must say I’m torn on the issue. It was certainly an opportunity to escape from what my fate might have been as a working class boy. But I can’t say that the education at Wilson’s was any more than basic. I left a firm believer in the comprehensive system — most of my friends had gone to secondary moderns, a few to comprehensives. Much later my children went to comprehensives and, though they were happier than I had been, I don’t get the feeling they were particularly stretched. I finished up with a PhD many years after leaving Wilson’s — once I had got the school out of my system.

  18. well I went to St.Thomas the Apostle in Peckham/Nunhead (I could never decide exactly which side of the parish they fell neither could they)

    a so called state of the art comprehensive with all mod cons — except we couldn’t use all those mod cons because it was the mid 80’s and all funding had been cut so all access to the workshops that would have made life interesting were padlocked — because the school couldn’t afford any decent teachers

    and the majority of pupils were a nightmare — the worse group of roughnecks anyone could ever have the misfortune to meet

    So while some comprehensive worked, initially — political in-fighting ensured that the high minded principle of the system would be dismantled

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