New Camberwell Road? Plus lots more!

It must be very hard indeed to do business in Camberwell if even Cash Converters has closed down. To be honest I don’t know if the whole chain went under, or if it was just this branch. That whole row of shops at the top of Camberwell Road looks closed (or maybe it was just when I passed); they are all owned by a firm of property speculators, so I wonder if the owners are getting ready to knock it down and build new houses there, to capitalise on the new Mary Datchelor development. This could be absolute rubbish, of course; the invention of my fertile imagination.

Across the road, Redstar is getting ready to open again. It will have two bars and is requesting shows for its first‐floor art gallery. According to its Myspace page:

Redstar is about to provide a major jolt to wake the South London club scene with a shudder.

Which is nice. They have a website too, but I won’t link to it as the code offends my web developer elitist tendencies (and there’s nothing on it anyway).

The former Cube bar is reopening as a bar/diner called NIA (I think; I should have written it down), with the downstairs area Club Couture. Quite the clubbing mecca we are becoming.

As you may be aware due to Mark Dodds’ spamming enthusiastic promotion, a 30‐day season of live arts performances begin at the Sun and Doves tonight. I might go along to see what kind of people have formed a Lloyd Cole tribute act.

I had a bit of an existential crisis as I got on the 436 bus yesterday; it was like one of local boy William Blake’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno. The 436 outside of commuter hours is the unfortunates shuttle. My misery ended when I arrived in Lewisham, as a drunken teenage girl vomiting on the pavement outside McDonalds at lunchtime reminded me that Camberwell’s not so bad.

Although having said that… a story in the SLP says that junkies’ discarded needles have been found in Lucas Gardens. I confess to being surprised by that; I’ve seen one or two drunks in there, but never any smackheads. Dagmar probably knows better than I (due to the amount of time spent in the park; I’m not making any implications of drug use).

But it’s not all bad news, as I found out this week that Camberwell has its own Cockney royalty, in the form of East Street‐born Pearly King Jim. God bless ya, and all the best of Cockney luck.

After writing all this, I realise I’ve forgotten to mention the results of the local shopping poll have been released. In a nutshell: people want more varied shops, and shop owners have an unrealistic idea of how many customers travel by car. This deserves a post of its own, but I’m not going to write it now.

Author: Peter

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

48 thoughts on “New Camberwell Road? Plus lots more!”

  1. There are continually needles in Lucas Gardens, also in the churchyard. Recently the style has been to leave the needle in the plastic stick thing, which is a bit mean.

    There is an incredibly bright full moon over Camberwell tonight. The keen photographer could profitably go to Camberwell Grove to the junction of McNeil Road, where the Conway boys are erecting the new traffic lights, and see something really loony — a Mercedes‐Benz jammed in the iron railings and steel barriers on the path through the flats to Grove Lane.

    The lollipop lady will have a fit when she sees her patch has been totally discomknockerated.

    Tonight I saw the car accompanied by two rather confused African people with a brace of coppers recording the situation with an air of disbelief. It looks like the Merc had tried to gain entry to Grove Lane by turning right at some speed and taking on the steel barriers across the footpath.

    But there IS no right turn. “There IS no road through the woods!”

    There is just a much used footpath with steel barriers deterring vehicles from attempting to use it. There is a vast barrier, of course, blocking the Grove where the bridge is, now with a hand‐painted sign saying cyclists please dismount.

    The car must have been going at full pelt to get stuck in the railings.

    Otherwise under the moon in Camberwell, Somerfield are selling Cadbury’s Trilobites in tins, I thought I saw, and there are two buckets catching drips from a leaking ceiling after the hailstorm this afternoon. The building seems to be made from ticky‐tacky.

    Peter, many people now believe that what William Blake saw in the trees on Peckham Rye were not angels but aeroplanes. They look like angels, with silver wings, and are very phallic.

  2. YEA verily for the spamming I am in disgrace and you have my sincerest apologies. But I don’t want people to miss it and I want it to be a success. And I was trying different ways of making it accessible to a broader range.

    THere is a fantastic picture of a car reversed onto (half way up) a lamp post in Berwick Advertisor this week. HOw that car got there is a mystery — and lost on of its back wheels in the process. A Volvo was involvoed for sure.

    THe weather is bitterly cold heavy winds and SLEET. And lots of it, Ah! SPRING. AT last.

  3. The Mercedes is now parked, or “parked up” as people say. I went to have a nose again. The damage is amazing. It looks like a murder scene. By the way, if you are thinking of liberating the three‐pointed star Mercedes emblem from the bonnet, think again. They are designed to fold down flat, but resist plucking. Camberwell, honestly!

    The concrete bollock, what do you call it in English? — bollard — that big concrete knob thing in front of the steel stanchions which form the chicane onto the pathway — was completely uprooted. I was tempted to ask the officers yesterday what on earth happened, since little children walk to school that way, etc. etc., all that local nosey parker stuff, but minded my own business — as far as I can!

  4. Durslton Manor — Grove Park — the modest Georgian stately home masterpiece which is tucked away at the top of the hill behind Fox on the Hill saw action yesterday as a bolt of lightning struck a mature tree in the grounds which uplifted it entirely from the ground and felled it against a wall.

  5. This is Old Testament weekend in Camberwell. The planes look like they’re going to fall out of the sky like frozen birds. The sun is dying. Still, Charles Babbage passed through yesterday, pulling tankers of some sort. I thought he was a Shakespearian actor, but apparently was in computers.

  6. I am so irritated — only last weekend I did not take a photograph of Babbage’s Analytical Engine at the Science Museum.

    I wanted to but was lagging behind the family and concerned that I would be accused of never being with the group. Again.

  7. mark@6 — crikey — were they running it? i’ve heard that they tell the staff when they do run it and it’s like a stampede. likewise with the steam engine on the ground floor.try the new expanded launchpad on third floor? now twice as fantastic!

  8. Drew, the Babbage wasn’t running but I was — running — past it and wanted a pic because it’s such an intricate thing…

    The massive ground floor steam engine was smoothly churning away, I had an interesting chat with the two engineers who were in attendance. It still needs some attention — it has been being fixed for over a year now. Worn grommets and vacuum chamber leaking. Wear and tear.

    They said it would not be working for the bank holiday, presumably no staff available to attend.

    Have not got to the third floor yet, must try next time!

  9. Peter thanks for reminding us about the shoppers survey.

    The population of Camberwell seems to be around 48,000.

    I was brought up in Morpeth population of 15,000. I spend a lot of time in Deal population 30,000.

    They each have a huge range of things Camberwell doesn’t have.

  10. From the Camberwell Renewal Shoppers Survey — they have concluded that people want more well known shops — or perhaps that’s what the landlords and council want to do anyway and it all looks rather democratic if everybody is allowed to fill out an online survey (nurse, bring me my anti‐paranoia pills!)

    On my way past Elephant and Castle I see that they have totally re‐landscaped St.Marys Churchyard — it would be rather dissapointing if they have removed a marble gravestone which was embedded in the park…

    If my memory serves me correctly it was a grave for Mary Shelley (of Frankenstein fame) or a sibling who also happened to be a famous writer

    It looks like it has been totally removed

    But then again Charles Babbage,Charlie Chaplin and Michael Faraday are all famous sons from this area and all they seem to merit between them is meagre plaque each and a strange aluminium structure in the middle of a nightmare traffic roundabout…

  11. There’s a Michael Faraday primary school

    Didn’t realize Charles Babbage was from Walworth – what a great legacy, worth more than a blue plaque.

  12. Went visiting in Loughborough Junction this weekend.

    Anyone seen the ‘Coolharbour Lane’ frosting in the window above the Indian takeaway. Took a double‐take to register.

    Think I’ve seen this before somewhere.

    Cool — harbour rather than Cold‐ harbour. I certainly agree with the sentiment.. Great road. Really developed in the time I’ve lived SE.

  13. d‐man, iirc the babbage machine in the science museum is called a difference engine because it multiplies by continuously adding others, ie it calculates 4x3 by adding 4+4+4. later computers multiplied by some other comutative method.which makes it none the less impressive that such people built these devices in their spare time, and still took the care to make them beautiful. just beautiful.

  14. so dagmar, was babbage the actor and theatre manager related to babbage the computer engineer? crikey!

  15. Gotta laugh about this place. Some silly survey points out folks would like some better shops. Eusebiovic suddenly claims the council is in a giant conspiracy to push it through! Yeah right. Pret, Nero, Oddbins, they’re all DYING to open up here but the law forbids it! And now some anorak reading obscure parlimentary papers decides we can still fight St George!!! I’m sure they’ve been devious in pushing this through under the radar. Took ‘em five years but yeah, it’s all a scam!

    Problem with Camberwell is the folks who live here fight so much about creating the perfect utopia (and what that means) that nothing ever happens and it remains a trashy intersection. If only we could get more parking and rid ourselves of TfL they’d surely stop and shop!! Ha!

  16. Good Old Boy passed through today, previously called just 66717, but renamed after GB Railfreight Ops Manager, Steve Drew, 1959–2006.

  17. mark as i’m sure you know the most famous thing about morpeth is the bend in the railway track. many years ago i spent a few hours on a train in the accidental company of an elderly man who had been a steward on the flying scotsman. he told me that as the express approached morpeth bend the driver would ring an alarm in the galley and the cooks would all spreadeagle over the crockery and silverware, to stop it flying around. now spot the number of elements in the above anecdote that no longer exist…

  18. I find myself agreeeing with JohhnyM. Dagmar your recent tangent is amazing. Drew, I remember the warning bells from my youth and The Bend in the line at Morpeth once caused a sensational, nationally reported, derailment.

  19. The difference with Camberwell shopping and the other areas mentioned is the competition elsewhere — why would you go shopping in Camberwell when you could be somewhere with better choice — Covent Garden, Oxford street etc.. fairly quickly.

    All i want form Camberwell really is functional shops — hardware, chemists, food shops etc.. I think we have all we need but many of them — Somerfield and Woolworths i’m loking at you — are very very badly run and poorly stocked.

    I think the car and parking arguement is a little bit of a red herring — you live in inner london people — most of you must be within walking distance of Camberwells shops?? If not there is a multitude of buses that will take you to local shopping areas, Why on earth would you want to drive there?

  20. Obviously, Camberwell Green and outerlying Camberwell (or NEW Camberwell) have very different issues and needs, amongst which is parking. It’s not a big issue for the Green.

    The reluctance of permanent council officers to offer local residents in NEW Camberwell a democratic choice between less cars and residents’ cars on‐street is noted, and unfortunately the issue was not identified as a priority by any community group, despite the obvious link to the Post Office closures which will now take place.

    The fact that nothing north of the southern tip of Medlar Street can be zoomed into on on the Camberwell Map is some clue to the geographical focus of both local government and the third sector in Camberwell…

  21. @23 Indeed — if you want to travel to the supermarkets by car go and live in Bromley or Croydon!

    We have one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the whole country in Lambeth and Southwark (something like 45–50% of people own cars compared with an average of over 60% of households across London and over 70% of households across England)

    I think the authorities should recognise this and play to the strengths of everything being available within the town centre in walking distance.

  22. Too right — i grew up in teh country and HATE driving everywhre so love the fact i now live soemwhere where it is easy to walk or get almost everywhere by bus.

    I admit sometimes getting from Denmark Hill Sainsburys with five heavy bags of shopping is a pin but it’s good exercise and helps to banish the bingo wings!!

    For bigger items i’m a firm believer in home delivery!!

  23. Er sarcasm alert. I don’t think parking (or lack of) or CPZ’s or TfL routes or blah blah blah have anything to do with Camberwell being a trash heap. Survey shows nearly 100 percent walk or would walk. It has nothing to do with car issues. I’d say 40K of the 45,000 get what they want. Then again, I agreed with sterilisation comment re: woman with 7 kids by 5 men so I’m out there.

  24. Hannah and Mumu, obviously walking is best, although planners need to make realistic assumptions about people’s instincts to make use of cars they already own, and whether people will really walk to Crusons from Wyndham Road, rather than jump in their car to Sainsbury’s if it takes the same time and is more convenient. The choice is simple — either decrease local on‐street residential car parking to help NEW Camberwell shops to compete on level terms, or see a rise in commuter shopping and local obesity levels. At least give time‐poor London residents the choice in the next CPZ consultaton to have reasonable quality shops just minutes away by foot.

    Mumu — in Camberwell, ownership is more like 20–30%, according to Census 2000 figures, the only ones publicly available, when it was even easier to own and maintain a car in London, pre‐C Charge, than now.

    The request, in June 2007, by the elected officer for the Environment to the permanent officer for Parking in Southwark to obtain accurate DVLA figures for car ownership in Camberwell is extant. Meanwhile CPZs continue to be rolled out on the basis of complete ignorance of current local car ownership levels, and offer no choice to resident consultees of reduced levels of on‐street car parking.

    However, the idea that a civil servant conspiracy in local government is obstructing the development of a sustainable parking policy is, as JohnnyM points out, ridiculous. Perhaps almost as much as the idea that the nuclear and oil industries have ever successfully lobbied government to reduce investment in renewable energy.

    Johnny, on parking and red routes you’re with the majority of the readership of this Board here — in fact you have more fellow supporters here for your sterilisation programme than I for my localist programme. This should make you feel at ease enough to turn up to the next community meeting and contribute productively to the debate, whether at the Forum or community council.

    Welcome to the fold.

  25. Johnny you are right to point out the issue — there is no point improving transport to an area if the area does not provide what people want.

    for me it is slightly more complicated — i would use local Camberwell shops more but for most of the time i am at work in an area that isn’t Camberwell so it is easier say to go to Superdrug on the Strand on my way home rather than the one in Camberwell, same with the swimming pool. but the added reason is that both these facilties in Camberwell are not really very good so i prefer the use the nicer ones near work.

    Now you could say the reason why many Camberwell facilties aren’t good is that opinionated middle class types like me with high mobility and disposable income don’t use them!

    Finally i’m going to rise to you provocative point — by your thinking why stop at just the mothers shouldn’t men with 7 kids by 5 women also be sterilised? — or is fertility and its control exclusively a female issue in your world?

  26. Tulse Hill is a miniature Camberwell. There is a train station, a small Somerfield, a Geranium charity shop for the blind, a pub called the White Hart full of daytime people and several quick Chinese and other fast food outlets — all of these features within staggering distance of each other, which seems to be the locals’ preferred method of transport!

  27. thanks @copey and joe

    must wander around it one day, I bet its got some wonderful architecture in it, good photo shots and stuff

  28. There’s a rather fetching Terry Frost print entitled ‘Camberwell Green’ available to purchase in this weeks Big Issue.. a snip at £550.

    Can’t say I can quite run to that but I’m sure it’s in a good cause..

  29. Is there a picture of it you can blow up and retouch?

    The dark blue, crashed C Class Mercedes has gone from the Grove, not before its rear end was splattered with caramel‐custard‐coloured bird droppings from the tree above. The C Class “Classic” had velour trim, an automatic gearbox and alloys at the front only, strange. The lollipop lady was told there was a collision, but the impact was so violent, I wonder if the car was stolen. It really looks like it tried to drive up the path.

    I got from the Scope shop, “Walkscapes: walking as an aesthetic practice”” for 99p down from 22 quid, published in Barcelona. I am trying to read in it prior to Will Self’s appearance on Fool’s Day at the Sun & Doves. I will advocate drinking and sleeping as aesthetic practices.

  30. So it was you Mark who put the Cool in Coolharbour Lane.

    From the Doves to the Dogstar‐ Coolharbour Lane.

    Now there’s the Coolharbour Curry House. Flickr anyone?

  31. Yes Alan, it was me. The original idea came from a conversation with Frank Xerox who used to curate art shows at The Sun and Doves. I found Mark Gill in the Guardian one weekend and asked him to do the Coolharbour painting in fairground tradition. Dogstar, S&D and Bug Bar all opened within a fortnight of each other in December 1995. The others have long gone. Dogstar got a Brixton Challenge grant for starting up which was more money than I had to invest.

    I will try to find the Coolharbour Curry House.

    Canterbury’s population is about 44,000. A little less than SE5’s.

  32. I’m pretty sure that mid 90’s brit‐hop group STEREO MC’s lived on the Camberwell end of Coldharbour Lane too…

    Maybe they still do

    Alabama 3 even named their debut album “Exile on Coldharbour Lane” — perhaps displaying the fine Beckettian humour of your average Camberwelian resident

    And of course House of Love — one of those groups who would have been huge with the right management and producer

    Not that stopped them writing half a dozen absolute gems and another half dozen that were pretty good too…

  33. Alabama 3 are on at the Carlsberg Academy 30th at the end of a week’s tour on the same bill as Misty in Roots, Tony Benn and Tom Robinson.

  34. Cash converters the chain is still going, they are franchises anyway.

    It seems to have turned into one of those strange churches, like the latin american shopping centre next door.

  35. “WE HAVE NO STAMPS FOR SALE. Buy your stamps here.” Some people think the old Camberwell and Peckham have gone, but you can see these two signs one above the other at the Highshore Road Royal Mail delivery centre, just to the left of the counter. You would think that all they had to do was take down the “Buy your stamps here” official sign, then there would be no need to display the hand‐drawn “WE HAVE NO STAMPS FOR SALE” just above it.

    “With us, it’s personal TM” is their new slogan, specially crafted by committee for Adam Crozier’s crisp new Royal Mail. Not “To us,” one notices, but “with us”, so the vestigial stroppiness of the nationalised industry has been retained. “Royal Mail? British Rail” could be their boast. “Your parcel is safe with us, don’t worry about that, mate.”

    Talking of the railway, the Japanese knotweed is bursting through the rubbish by the railway. It is full of reservatrol, which is also found in grapeskins and red wine, and is known to help prolong one’s stay in this world.

  36. re dante etc.
    do you know that joke about what is the difference between camberwell and hell? (serious question — I am trying to remember it)
    something about one takes an eternity to get there.…

    If anyone knows it please post. I might need a reminder to come back tho, as it is my first time here…

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