Camberwell and the South East, 1960s.

Quite lovely short film about the modernisation of Camberwell and its surrounds in the early 1960s. Ironic to see the praise for modern housing which is now falling to pieces or knocked down, while the dismissed old housing is now worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

The Changing Face of Camberwell.

So many things that no longer exist. The church on Wren Road, the Rosemary Branch pub, the Camberwell Beauty on the Samuel Jones factory, the last remaining London dairy farm.

“The drama of change is the balance of loss and gain.”

Update: This is a revised post; the original featured a YouTube link, which was later removed after a copyright claim.

Author: Peter

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

33 thoughts on “Camberwell and the South East, 1960s.”

  1. Wow! A fascinating little film, which captures a lot of how Camberwell once looked. I moved here in the late 80’s, so many of the buildings in the film had long gone. Thanks for finding these.

  2. excellent. Its quite depressing to listen to the condescending smugness of the narration. Who on earth decided to knock down all those buildings? I am sure some were derelict streets and flattened bomb sites, but it seems totally reckless now.
    Was wren church bombed?
    At least camberwell council didn’t flatten the whole area, and bought up hundreds of old victorian and georgian buildings and converted them into flats.

    Where exactly was the “doss house”? I cant work it out.

    Also interesting to see how shops evolved from front gardens.
    A lot of the shops on walworth road are clearly built onto the fronts of ordinary houses.

    Did anyone else see their house?

  3. There seem to be no credits with the film — does anyone know anything about the making of this very interesting film?

  4. The comment about the little girl in the first part at 5:14–5:20 is classic stuff:

    “Oh dear. I’ll get it for her again. Keep her running. Keep her weight down”.

    Not creepy at all!

    Having said that, the green looks a lot nicer there than it does now. It used to have a lovely shelter.

    And a witch’s hat in playground. Those were the days! Coming home with a few teeth missing and blood on your shirt having smashed into the central pole. They don’t make ’em like they used to.

  5. On this “in praise of Wren Road” history, there’s reference to Camberwell Green Congregational Church which used to be on Wren Road:

    It wasn’t destroyed by bombs (or, if it was, it was rebuilt) as its own history takes it up to 1966. There a photo of it here:

  6. This is amazing. Mary Datchelor must be turning in her grave particularly as their are no decent secondary schools for miles.
    Is there a way of sending these films to someone else ?

  7. 1960 “The Ballad of Peckham Rye” by Muriel Spark (lived in Camberwell) was featured in Radio 4’s “A Good Read” last week with Janet Street-Porter being totally out-Londoned by the formidable Martina Cole.

    Anyone listening to this will want to read “The Ballad…”. Starts at 19 minutes 40 seconds into the prog.

  8. Don’t forget,

    Spooky happenings at St. Giles tomorrow night.

    The Lodger: A Tale of the London Fog by Alfred Hitchcock.

    Especially spooky as I’ll looking after the bar!

    Film starts at 7, but doors open earlier so you can get a wee drinky.


  9. 70801 spotted today. Funny, ugly things the Class 70s are, with a large protuberance on the front end, for reasons of “crashworthiness”.

    70801 is especially notable because it was made in Turkey, assembled from parts made for General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania. It served as a demonstrator before being shipped here for general use.

    Interesting, eh?

    From America to Turkey to Camberwell.

  10. I saw this on Twitter (don’t ask)…

    Bus poem 136

    Your the 136
    U used to stop at Peckham but extended to elephant
    People say you’re shit but i think you’re elegant
    Your the 136

    by @Phil_wong_buses

  11. Time to march for the right to ride the Tube all the way to Camberwell! On Saturday 29 November at 11.00 am there will be a march to high light the support for the Bakerloo Line extension to come to Camberwell.

    Gather at Camberwell Green and march somewhere (this being Camberwell, the destination has not yet been agreed). It will be a fun, family friendly event.

  12. Do we really think the bells of St Giles Church should be stopped from ringing because of a small number of complaints? Bell ringing has been suspended until further notice after 100+ years. What do we think?

  13. @Maude. I love hearing the bells ringing. Let them ring out their joy

    Their heavenly sound drowns out the hellish noise of police and ambulance sirens

  14. The bells are back. They are peeling right now, as the moon shines through the trees. Either that or it’s the ghost of Quasimodo. And what a sweet sound they are too.

    Word on the street is that this may have been a one-off complaint, done in a moment of frustration at something else.

    The bells have been here a lot longer than any of us. I think they have a right to peel.

    On the subject of bells, one of my favourite “it could only happen in Britain” subjects, is this programme: Bells on Sunday.

    In this episode you can hear the bells of St Leonard’s Streatham playing a Horton’s Four-Spliced Surprise Major. The name itself is a work of genius.

    Long live the bells!

  15. Talking of St Giles.

    The showing of The Lodger last Friday at St. Giles was a great success. About 200 people came along, and the church was packed.

    There are plans being mooted to make cinema screenings a more regular occurrence, with the next screening at Christmas. One of the ideas being bandied about is a few shorts, followed by the original 101 Dalmatians.

    What do you lovely people think? Would anyone be interested? Any other suggestions for films? Answers below please.


    1. An open submission short film section would be great for local film makers. I’ll happily help select

  16. WEATHER WARNING Air pressure is 999 millibars and showers are on the way which may produce surface water from drains blocked by elves.

    LETTSOM GARDEN bonfire night starts at 5pm. The showers should produce a diabolic hiss from the flames. The winter festival begins.

    THIS POPULAR EVENT DEMANDS THE PRESENCE of those who wish to have fire and mulled wine in their bellies on top of this ancient hill.

  17. Yes, Long Live the Bells!
    As you say Monkeycat I think the problem may have been resolved…thankfully. They are a delight, make us feel happy and connect past and present Camberwell in our hearts and minds.

    More films at St Giles please.…

  18. I wonder if the curtain-twitcher who complained about the bells of the church is related to the curtain-twicther who complained about The Fox On The Hill pub?

    They into a house next door to a church or pub and quelle surprise! on the odd occasion it can be a little nosier than usual!

    A fine society we are creating…don’t let the idiots win

    What next? A lone bellend (literally) who moves in next door to Dulwich Hamlet Football Club complains that they don’t like people chanting for 3 hours every 10 days…even though the club has been there 121 years?


    p.s — Happy for more films at St.Giles but we should keep it a special treat…far too often and it loses the magic 🙂

  19. I live on the estate next to the Fox on the Hill. The complaints from various residents here are about noise late at night, i.e. after traditional pub closing at 11pm, so the argument about not buying a flat next to a pub doesn’t really apply in this case.

    As I understand it no one has asked for the licence to be revoked, only for noise to either be better managed (e.g. through staff being present in the car park as people leave) or otherwise for the pub to close at 11pm. The discussions have been ongoing for some time and there have been some improvements such as people not being able to take drinks outside after a certain time. I think the formal review will just lead to these changes becoming conditions of the licence.

    I should say I drink in the pub regularly and don’t want it to close, but I don’t think there’s much of a risk that it will.

  20. Here’s a tip. The little 18.7 cl bottles of wine at Tesco’s express metro on the New Camberwell Road are 4 for £3 making it the cheapest wine in the shop. You can then street-drink with people thinking that you’re suppin’ from a little bottle of organic pomegranate juice from the cycle shop. Who said that Tesco’s is finished?

    — Dagmar Road, Camberwell

  21. @RPHer

    Pleased to hear it…I would think that Wetherspoons would be highly co-operative — they are that sort of organization.

    Not having a go at anybody in Ruskin Park House in particular — it’s just that I get really annoyed at the habit of complaining to the council for minor inconveniences because those who do lack any kind of tolerance or foresight to see a poorer future if we gradually lose most of our places of social interaction.

    That is all

    I drink my tea 🙂

  22. Very wise, RPHer. The Fox is not and should not be a late-night boozer. It’s our country local and most people treat it as that. The wide range of people who go there is now a special feature of the whole area. Long live the Fox. Well done the ‘Spoons.

    Euse, mate — Margate are doing well, eh? This is the season of the Margate — the film, the show, the team…

  23. Does anyone know if the tabby cat lost around Gairloch Road has been found? The owner put a £1,000 reward up.

  24. I saw a tabby cat mewling pitifully outside Bushey Hall on Bushey Hill Road this evening. I thought, that’s a grand’s worth of pathetic cat.

    IS this your cat?

  25. I saw a worried looking tabby cat on my walk along Maude Road this morning. My dog tried to eat it.

    Also, what is it with the bins on Maude Road? Why are they all on the pavement?

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