Graphic design, parks, pubs, post office

Hello everyone. Quite a mixed bag of stuff to get through with this one, so I’ll crack on.

How would you visually represent SE5? One of the students at the College of Arts has had a go.

Visual representation of SE5

As reported in comments on the previous post, part of Lucas Gardens has been saved from being sold off to developers, as the College is said to have bought South House. I went to a Halloween party in East House on Saturday night; apologies to the neighbours.

Here’s something topical: Camberwell post office (“grungey and dispiriting”) used as an illustration of why bonuses are not always deserved.

Also topical: the murderer of a man who was stabbed to death near his home, on Coldharbour Lane, was sentenced to a minimum 30 years in prison last week. He sounds like a proper nasty bastard, so: good.

Has everyone taken a look at NickW’s proposal to split traffic around Camberwell Green and pedestrianise the end of Church Street? There doesn’t seem to be much there to argue about, IMHO, and it’s good enough to at least serve as the start of a conversation.

Finally, I have a special offer for everyone; my first ever, I believe. The Grand Union are set to open in the former Grove this week, and are having a launch party on Thursday 5th (there will be some free drinks, I believe).

They’re keen to get the hyper-critical readers of this blog on their side, so have offered me the following deal: anyone who presents a print-out of this blog post to the manager gets 2‑for‑1 on main meals — and this deal is valid for the whole of November. That’s pretty good, right? I’m sure there should be some terms and conditions to this deal, but there don’t seem to be, so knock yourselves out.

I wish they’d kept the Grove name, though; a pub’s name is its heritage.

Author: Peter

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

65 thoughts on “Graphic design, parks, pubs, post office”

  1. I have been reading this blog for a while now, but never posted. Thought I’d comment on the food at the Grand Union. Went there for dinner, with the 2 for 1 offer it was a pretty good deal. We had a burger each and some chips. Pretty tasty, but the chips were unecessary as the burgers were huge!
    Nice atmosphere too, quite cosy, with its mock vintage lamp shades, and mish matched furniture, it’s a shame to think it’s a chain though, and that all this “atmosphere” is preconceived somewhere in an office in clerkenwell…or somewhere like that.

  2. Tomorrow Quiz at The Sun and Doves and on Thursday FREE Live music and visuals FOCUS 23 for OXJAM:

    and for a quieter version:

    Then Christmas menus are ready now from our totally new CHEF Robin Jackson:

    Robin wears purple crocs when he’s working, all the staff, front and kitchen, like him. He’s a bit of a dream really.

    OK it’s November and self promotion is getting VERY important, by the way ten years ago Camberwell was very busy with pub goers doing a circuit at weekends — but that was before East Dulwich and the others taking off faster than Camberwell ever managed. There IS a chance that Camberwell can catch up — Antic and GU willing but then Le PP needs to sharpen up to build the circuit — and people have to cross the great divide of Denmark Hill and try THE OTHER SIDE…


    Oh. And FOUR people have used for parcel deliveries to the pub.

    So far so good.

    Shame about the Nag’s Head in a way…

  3. Are Grand Union the same paltroons who were behind Bar Room Bar (sic)?

    They seem to have set up site in all the old branches of BRB…which initially showed promise but then when tits up when they started cutting corners and going cheap on the pizza dough and ingredients…How tight can an accountant be?

  4. The BRB chain was originally set-up and owned by the Spirit Group. Most of the BRB’s did very well. The company deliberately drove up the net turnover with 2 for 1 offers on pizza, cocktails and lunchtime offers and this attracted a lot of custom, however the profit margins were low. The Spirit Group sold the chain for a large amount of money based on the turnover of its bars. This had been the intention since BRB’s creation. Some of the BRB’s continued some were sold off. However the new company tried to increase profit so they took out and sold off a lot of the equipment and used cheaper ingredients and fewer staff, generally stripping everywhere they could. People went to them less so they were forced to sell more units hence our BRB going to Young’s. I don’t believe that Grand Union are part of the Spirit Group, I think from their website they are a small independent company however I am not sure where they have got all the money from to expand so quickly so they may have larger backing.

  5. Mark — am interested to hear about what SE5 was like 10 years back and thus at the start of the strongest gentrification in places like East Dulwich. What was the circuit like back then?

  6. @Peter and Camberwell Post Office. Worth pointing out that the specific point the journalist is making is the unnecessary strain placed on that PO due to sub-PO closures in outer Camberwell, and the subsequent reduction in quality of service over time at Camberwell Green. Cause and effect, in her opinion.

    This is different from the analysis of some locals that it is simply a junior management issue within Camberwell Green PO.

  7. Airelle, that’s a nice point about the Grand Junction’s decor, which is thoroughly, totally professional and is sure to work, designed to keep customers there for “just one more”. It has, indeed, the air of Clerkenwell. retail-design computerage. “Put in Singapore, Raffles, Limehouse, opium, tobacco, silk, fog, the Ripper.” Still, the place is a great addition to our repertoire. Other pubs’ styles like that of the Sun & Doves, Joiners Arms and Hermits Cave have been assembled like stones on a mountain cairn over the years — exactly like the faces of the regulars.

  8. Hi Guys, I work for The Grand Union Group. I’ve read all your comments over the last few days and generally it seems like the overall opinion is that GU Camberwell has been relatively well received and at least many believe it to be a better alternative to what was there previously, which is great news.

    I just wanted to clarify a few of the facts about the company — straight from the horses mouth — so to speak… The Grand Union Group is an independent group of 9 pubs in London — although they all have the same name, and by definition we are therefore a chain, we very much think of ourselves as an independent pub group and each venue is very slightly different. Yes, we have similar decor, menus etc, yet the features & people are what makes each site different. We’re not trying to be pretentious or corporate, just a decent, simple place for everyone to go to undind and feel comfortable — we like to think of ourselves as an extension to your living room with a larger alcohol selection.

    The two guys that own the company, Adam and Adam have been lifelong friends and they are extremely dedicated, experienced and hard working — that’s the reason we’ve grown so much this year. We have no corporate backing, no investment bankers malarkey; simply the leases to several decent pubs with 4 different Pub Companies — although we lease off Young’s, Camberwell is definitely not a “Young’s” pub, or Young’s-owned brand. We made a success of Brixton GU and Young’s hope we can do the same with Camberwell. Pretty simple really. It is purely a coincidence that a few of our sites are ex-BRB — we are nothing to do with Spirit Group, and the concept was most definitely not dreamt up in posh offices in Clerkenwell — if only you could see my office!!

    Our ‘Brand’ is constantly evolving, and one of our main positive aspects is that we truely value everyone’s opinion about how we run our sites. If you book an area you’ll notice you receive a feedback email to find out how your evening went. If you ever want to send feedback, just email me direct rr@​gugroup.​co.​uk There are bound to be teething problems over the coming months as setting up a new pub in any area is not easy… Rose, the Manager at Camberwell is very experienced and extremely dedicated — doing up to 75-hour weeks ain’t easy, but she loves it really!

    Sorry to blabble on, but just thought it’s much easier to clearly state what GU is and where it’s come from… and hopefully where it is going!



  9. I can imagine the new Silver Buckle as a down-market, but livelier, version of the EDT.

    They’re both on a busy corner, right?

    I’d guess the Camberwell version will have fewer laptop users and aspirational 30-somethings.

    Many occasions I’ve drank in EDT. It’s OK. Fine. Not so much actual character.

  10. Maybe they could do an exchange of customers of the Silver Buckle and the EDT for an evening, think of it as a social experiment.

    I still miss the BRB pizzas and, layout aside, don’t see the Grand Union as an improvement on BRB. However, I do think it’s an improvement on the Grove and wish it success.

    Any more on Angels and Gypsies, the previous incarnation served really good Tapas.

  11. Well done, Richard, the interior of Grand Union Camberwell Grove is incredibly seductive. When I went there on opening night, I was tempted to try and live there under another name. Good luck to Rose & co.

  12. @PhilG ten years ago Camberwell was not THAT different — it felt a bit younger and fresher — but of course that’s maybe me projecting — but it certainly felt like something was about to happen — as if Camberwell was going to ‘take off’. The Castle was called Bar Pacific then and I owned it. LePP was the Kerfield, Hermits was as it is now, Funky Munky had just about opened, I think, and bars were busier than now and there was social movement around the area in the evening. That died out over the next few years as nothing much else happened to stir up the centre.

    Silver Buckle was as was and Father RedCap became Red Star for a brief flurry of cattle market trading. Shopping was not much different to now although of course Morrisons has made an impact.

    There were more small independent shops selling clothes and bric a brac but they were doomed through lack of footfall for the typr of stuff they were selling. One or two upped sticks and went to East Dullwich where they could properly thrive. Camberwell was already struggling to rise above the mire of local authority neglect and absent landlords in the centre which has over the decade not changed significantly. From 2000 to about 2005 Camberwell, as far as my experience goes, certainly slid backwards, fewer people came out at night and business got quieter — I think due to competition from further afield.

    It seems like there is a real chance that Camberwell can change a lot for the better now — with new development and interest in retail and bars happening at the same time.

    Coordination and communication between all the different things that are going on now would be invaluable. A switched on town centre manager would be rather useful.

    Oberon. Interesting. King of the fairies. It used to be the Tiger.

    Here’s a link to Camberwell as could have been from a perspective of looking at it from November 1988:

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