Doing Good, Getting Involved, and Getting Coffee

Two new cafés are joining the burgeoning Camberwell scene, and both offer a social benefit as well as liquid refreshment.

The first is Brewbird, in the former Sun Pizza premises on Havil St. It’s a lovely venue, bright and airy and plenty of seating. I dropped in this week, and can confirm that the coffee is good. Brewbird is the social enterprise arm of the amazing St Giles Trust, and helps ex-offenders and at-risk young people with skills and a vocation, so is worth your support even if you’re not a coffee-lover.

This Saturday (16th January) we’ll be joined by Lumberjack, opening in the former House premises (70 Church St.). Lumberjack are the trading arm of the London Reclaimed employment charity, and train young people in crafting furniture from reclaimed wood and materials. They also sell cakes, and coffee from the Old Spike roastery in Peckham—itself a social enterprise helping local homeless people.

All in all, coffee’s never done so much good for everyone. We should feel proud to have them.

Further changes coming soon: there’s some work underway in the former Safa (22 Church St.), no idea what’s going in there (update: two commenters say that Oregano Leaf pizza are moving there); across the road, the former library is now two vacant units which I’m sure will be snapped up; and The Bear (on New Road) is under new management, which if I’m not mistaken is the team from The Fox in Haggerston. Look forward to seeing that lovely freehouse back on its feet.

If you’d like to be more involved in broader changes to the area, Southwark have a page on their site dedicated to public consultations (here are the currently open consultations for SE5). One that they’re keen to get opinion on at the moment is updates to the play area in Brunswick Park. If you have children and live in the area, they’d like you and your family to fill out a very brief survey to help them plan the changes.

Author: Peter

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

41 thoughts on “Doing Good, Getting Involved, and Getting Coffee”

  1. No idea if this is true but heard Oregano are moving into the Safa site.
    Bear should be open in March, again this is hearsay.

  2. Hello everyone! Happy 2016. I used to post on the old site regularly a few years ago but faded away for a bit when my children were born (two girls. 7 and 4). How are you all? I’m still occupying the Camberwell/Peckham borders and still in love with all (ok, most) things SE5!

  3. Look forward to trying out these two new coffee shops. From reading another forum, apparently Oregano Leaf pizza is moving into the old Safa place — I presume that means they plan to have a bit more dine in space as their current place is pretty small.

  4. Good about The Bear. I don’t think it’s so far ever met its potential so good to see it under new management.

  5. The Bear was a wonderful pub for a while. As far as I understand it, the problems started when one of the owners, who did all the great cooking, had such bad back problems he couldn’t work any more.

    Very chuffed that it will be opening again soon though. I miss it.

  6. Amanda Fuller! Welcome home. Where have you been? Camberwell, of course. When we had our two girls, my social-media usage doubled and drinking trebled. Cheers!

    I wonder if the New Camberwell Road will ever come up.

    It’s always a big back-down-to-earther, travelling its length from Vauxhall Bridge to Camberwell, with its relentless rhythm of chicken shops, food & wines and betting shops. It’s a sort of long, decompression chamber.

  7. I have found out today that it will be PureGyms occupying the commercial space underneath “The Triangle” new housing development on New Road!

  8. Is that the one opposite butterfly walk ish? — which gym is going in there?
    This is the link to confirm PureGyms…
    I emailed IDM about The Triangle to book in a viewing (just being nosey) and asked at the same time about what commercial properties were going in underneath and they told me — then i googled it!

  9. Popped into Lumberjack at the weekend and enjoyed excellent service, a lovely loose-leaf tea and yummy cake. The space has a good feel and it was buzzing. Sadly they haven’t received the warmest welcome by all, their shopfront window was smashed on day one and they were burgled on day two! I encourage you to pop in and give them some encouragement, well worth a visit.

  10. Does anyone know if there’s any story behind Lumberjack’s window. Saw it as I wandered past on Saturday — appalling welcome to Camberwell. Didn’t realise they’d also been burgled.

  11. That’s a sucky start. Seems like a cool project. Lumberjack is, obviously, a Pythonesque sort of name.

    Old Spike Roastery in Peckham is also a social-enterprise. Good coffee. And a do-the-right-thing sort of place. Not that it matters, but I wonder if there’s an unstated religious motivation in the background to explain why they’re so nice.

    Does the Brewbird mean the Sun Pizza Cafe is no more? An ex-pizza place, so to speak?

    I like Dagmar’s characterization of Vauxhall Bridge to Camberwell as being a sort of long, decompression chamber. It is always the slowest part of the journey. A proper back-down-to-earther, but in a good way, I think… As we roll along Camberwell New Road back from holidays we’re like: “Ahh, home… nice… Rat Records is cool…” A guy walks by and pukes on the pavement, barely breaking stride. “You wouldn’t get that in countryside, eh, kids?” 5 mins later, still sitting in traffic: “Nice isn’t it?”

  12. Hi All. I can happily confirm that Brewbird has kicked off to a great start!
    If you did not already know the manager there is David from House Gallery so the place is in very safe hands!
    I have been in there a few times now: good coffee and the lunch was great (Thai Chicken soup with a thick granary toastie £4.80).
    Being a social enterprise and training up the staff from scratch, means the service is not yet polished but what does that matter when you see how much confidence the staff are gaining on every visit.…and it’s only been a couple of weeks!
    Great to have a good cafe back in that part of town. That wonderful space has been missed.

    I have yet to pop to Lumberjack — but will do very soon to show support.

    In other news, this weekend is the first 2‑day weekend workshop at Flux Jewellery School, Vanguard Court.
    “Etching Techniques for Jewellery” suitable for beginners and intermediates. There are still spaces left and, if you are a Borough of Southwark resident you get a massive discount: £80 instead of £220.
    Please do pass onto anyone who would be interested.


  13. @AR It’s a pretty old petition and Boris has made it pretty clear in the past that that getting the bikes to Camberwell is very very low down on his list of priorities.

  14. Who doesn’t like a pub quiz? What are you up to this Sunday evening?

    This in from the lovely chaps at Crooked Well:

    PubAids’ “World’s Biggest Quiz!”

    All entry fees to go to Southwark Foodbank

    Minimum donation of £1.50/head

    Sun 7th Feb 7.30pm
    All food orders to be in by 7.15pm

    Prizes: £100 bar tab
    1st runner up: Bottle of Prosecco for the team
    3rd place: Bottle of house wine for the team
    email jen@​thecrookedwell.​com to register interest

    We’ll be running a reduced pubby menu to be ordered beforehand and will be quietly put down at each table during the quiz as it is ready. Very casual food wise. The quiz is provided by PubAid so should be good, and like I said above all money raised will go to the Food Bank. And of course there#s a £100 bar tab to win!

  15. Kind of a weird year so far. The daffodils are out in Burgess Park and some Magnolias flowered way early.

    I dropped into the Camberwell Community Council meeting at Kings Hospital last weekend. I wanted to find out about the plan for the rumored cycle lanes through Cambwerwell junction. I missed the relevant part, but apparently it has been delayed, pending further consultation with TFL. So that’s that.

    It was my first time ever at something like that. Mostly it was older folk working to make things better locally, and what appear to be well-meaning council people. I applaud them in that. But it quickly became clear that getting anything changed or improved is, in practice, a very slow, inefficient, process. You probably knew that already.

    We went to the SLG the other weekend. It was fun. The gallery attendant (faded T‑shirt, vans slippers) was pretty relaxed. You can walk among the million black business cards and throw them around a bit. A lot of people were taking there kids down for a play, which is as it should be.

  16. Hello you lot. Been a while. I live in Brockley now, since three years’ homelessness following my eviction from the Sun and Doves. Anyway. I still keep my ear to the ground — my family still live in Camberwell.

    News of MORE Cafe coming to Camberwell

    Anyone heard about Starbucks coming to the old Camberwell Library site? If it’s accurate that’ll be thanks be to Southwark Council for their brilliant grip on Local Economics.

    Safa is going to be a Chinese or Viet restaurant is what I hear.

    The Free Market is such a wondrous thing.

    Ate at Silk Road a week past Thursday. Excellent as always.

  17. I did hear rumours about Starbucks a little while back, but as far as I can ascertain, they are just that rumours. I am not sure there is much substance to them.

    As for Safa, Oregano Leaf did have a sign over the door for a few days so I thought they were going in.

  18. On another note why don’t Camberwell Library and Camberwell Leisure Centre have a dedicated Facebook/Twitter page? I can’t seem to find any whatsoever. It’s not as if it’s down to expense — it costs nothing to maintain a presence.

    Is it Southwark Council policy not to allow their Libraries and Leisure Centres the autonomy and independence of sharing info in their respective areas? The generic Southwark Libraries email on the council website just doesn’t cut it.

    May I be the first to say that is completely rubbish and somebody needs to have a word…

    I was pleased about the Nag’s Head Asset of Community Value…The Cambria behind Ruskin Park has one too. People might be a bit sniffy about both but an ACV gives a pub time to improve — Both should be fine — long term

    People should realise that time and patience is required to turn a pub around…The Cambria is in an enviable location — if I had the funds to take it on…it would be one of the best places to visit in the area. Alas, I don’t so I’m only able to do what I can to help in a small modest way until the situation changes.

    Pubs are great…we’ve lost far too many.

  19. I didn’t know the Nag’s had a staying order, that’s good. The whole issue of why pubs have gone is a mystery. On the other hand, it is well documented and the documents would stretch from here to Camberwell in New South Wales. I wonder if pubs and bars have disappeared from there, too? Maybe soon, people will only exist online like in a science fiction story.

    Fundamentally, I suppose, shareholder value says that we can’t afford pubs in the same way we can’t afford the health service. Global commodity markets and shareholder value will even out the economy worldwide, which is only fair. It’s not right that Britain should be filled with little corner pubs, each with its own character and characters, and distant lands have none.

    Who do we think we are?

  20. Hello, newbie here, long time lurker..! So I’ve heard that there’s a Sainsburys local opening under the new flats next to the University.. Thoughts?

  21. The students shall eat well. It will be just like being at home, except for those whose parents use a Waitrose.

  22. @Lola—I believe this is the case, yes. I probably won’t use it, get most of my meat & fish from markets, daily shopping from shops near work, and the rest from Nisa on Vestry Road.

  23. I would like to think I wont use it, but its going to be my nearest shop when it opens.… I will promise to keep to what I’m used to, shopping wise… Two bed flat above it for £600k though.. What the heck!

    lol @ Dagmar — True!

  24. Lola, a yellow train went through two days ago pulled by the old beast 37603. These Class 37s are known as “Tractors” in the trainspotting community because of the noise they make, a real diesel clatter. They do not depend on electricity, which is why they’re used to pull the test trains, for that is what the mysterious yellow trains are. The locomotives are technically diesel-electric, meaning their diesel engines drive a generator.

    Anyway, I mention the mysterious yellow train — with its scenes painted on the carriage windows of 1970s passengers enjoying chicken in the basket, Babycham, Watneys Red Barrel and cigarettes — because the test trains are used by Network Rail to test the track.

    After the Hatfield rail crash of 2000, as a result of which the negligent Railtrack went bust — though its private investors successfully sued the government for compensation — the newly nationalised Network Rail set about monitoring the track properly with the mysterious yellow trains.

    This is a parable about the private and public sectors for our times. The yellow trains are good news for today’s rail travellers. The yellow trains’ passengers are the grateful undead.

  25. I saw the British Queen has closed. I never set foot within, but it had one of the best pub signs (removed) in the land. One with Boadecia in her chariot.

  26. All them estate pubs with patriotic names have shut, Gabe. Not so much everyone’s gone to the moon as everyone’s gone to Spain.

  27. @Dagmar

    Indeed…and those who have gone to Spain are now witnessing the very same white collar criminals masquerading as respectable are in the process of asset-stripping all the optimism, charming social value and verve out of the Iberian Peninsula at breakneck speed…but they are only obeying orders to pay the mortgage and all that…

    Same plan for everybody…Politics won’t save us now…Well at least not the same old, same old

  28. Heroic! We should have a blog expedition there, last estate pub standing. I’d forgotten about the Hero — in some ways am amazed it’s still there. Excellent news.

    Popped by the new Camberwell Green Library, today. The bogs there are closed and the library’s only been open a few weeks. Librarian rightly said try McDonald’s. You can use their bogs to do all kinds of things, people do. McDonald’s offers a real public service, in many ways.

    Lyndhurst Primary has had insane problems with Balfour Beatty over their new building. Southwark and its contractors clearly do not get on. Balfour Beatty do not like to pay their lateness and cock-up fines. They constantly refuse to complete the job. Public libraries and primary schools are not the problem of shareholder value, Zac.

    Zac Goldsmith, take note. You are full of charisma, just like big business. You are clearly equally marvellous. That is why we do not want you smarming around as our Mayor of London after that puffed-up pink piggy currently swanking around in the role.

    The bus driver’s son from Tooting may not be gushing with charisma, but he is our own.

  29. Popped into Camberwell Library today — hurrah for Sunday opening — but somewhat nonplussed by the presence of a security guard!

    Also puzzled by the placement of Richard Dawkins books under gardening and the complete absence of Christopher Brookmyre and small vilume of history books. Otherwise, a nice, well used space — even a sing along for little people which looked to be great fun!

    Angered by the gym plans for Carnegie and Minet [sic] libraries and will defo attend the meetingon 25th. Caitlyn Moran — annoying as she is sometimes — in “Morantholgy’ argues well for the case for how can we bring back what we lose through short term fiscal solutions by closing libraries — Ray Bradburys essay at the end of Farenheit 451 makes the best case of all — introduce children to libraries, you open up thier imagination.. closing libraries steals that chance away for all those children anf adults who cant afford an Amazon or Daunt book habit. I despair at times I really do.

    I saw the ominous messages re: Startbucks — for the love of all that is good NO! In other news, the Bear is looks to have been completely gutted — intriqued by seeing what looked like dead trees inside ‑will there be a beer garden/courtyard i wonder?

    1. Been closed for a little while. Don’t know what’s going on there, was a rumour that the Oregano Leaf pizza would move in there, but no confirmation of that.

  30. Regarding Oregano Leaf taking over Safa, that rumour was incorrect as it’s now got a sign up saying ‘Shanghai Taste’. It is apparently a Chinese/Thai restaurant and bar.

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