The new Camberwell Library has landed…

…and what a lovely space it is too!

Whatever you thought about the demolition of the old orchard and the total lack of real consultation about the library (Bad. There wasn’t one.) now that it is here, I think it’s well worth enjoying it.

Camberwell Library

Something that surprised me somewhat was that all the books in there are new. Apparently this is not unusual, and eventually a few of the books will be brought over from old library, but the rest will be distributed to other libraries, or sold. [Update (12th Nov): I’ve now been told this may not be the case. Will check and get to the bottom of this on Friday.]

The selection books is much wider than before, I got rather excited by the selection of art books that I otherwise could not afford.

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There are a lot of events on both during the day, and in the evening, including some talks from well known authors at one end like Lionel Shriver this evening and Stella Duffy in a few weeks time, and (ahem) me somewhere beneath that!

I went to the talk by Dorothy Koomson which was well attended and very interesting but you must email southwark.​libraries@​southwark.​gov.​uk to book most of the talks. Having said that, the Dorothy Koomson one was theoretically fully booked but not everyone turned up, so you may be able to wing it!

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Dorothy Koomson Talk

Talks and events over the next month or so. Click on the photos to get full size images.

A full list of events is on the library website here: Camberwell Library Website.

The Children’s section of the library seems to be very, very popular. There were about 50 kids and parents there the other day for a storytelling session.

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A very well attended storytelling club for toddlers.

The library itself is mostly on one floor, but upstairs there is a long bench where you can work and study, with sockets for laptops.

Upstairs Study area

There librarians have also brought in exhibits from the Cuming Museum relating to Camberwell, and also pictures of Camberwell are being put up from the Southwark Art Collection.

A real (not live) Camberwell Beauty, A Samuel Jones jigsaw and old map of Camberwell.
The Camberwell Palace, which used to be on Denmark Hill where Butterfly Walk is now.
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Who knew Camberwell had a toll gate once?
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A tablet to commemorate men signing up to fight in WW1 in Camberwell.

Some thought has also gone into the outside areas. The trees in front of the Magistrates Court now sport some really nice little bird boxes!

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I also love the welcome to Camberwell vinyl at the entrance to the library. If you look carefully, you’ll find a lot of Camberwell institutions, including the Art School, St Giles, and even Sophocles and Crusons!

The Camberwell Cartoon.

Which brings me nicely to a plug for a talk I’m doing this Friday 13th November at 7.30pm. [Updated 1311 to correct the time)].

I was rather chuffed to be invited to do a talk on my photography series 36 Reasons To Love Camberwell. Unlike the other talks you don’t need to book, just turn up.

There will be a short question and answer session about the original project by the Head Librarian, Mark, and me. Then we’ll be opening up the floor to everyone and discussing the changes around Camberwell in the last few years, and those changes coming.

I’m going to update the series, and the discussion will form the basis for new photos and eventually a new book some time next year.

So please come along. It would be lovely to see you all, and while you are at it, you can have a look around this fantastic new edition to Camberwell.

36 Reasons

Halloween Silent Film Night

Piccadilly (1)

On Halloween night, Saturday 31 October, at 7 pm, St Giles’ Church will be showing 1929 silent film Piccadilly with a live band and Camberwell Community Choir.

Directed by E.A. Dupont, Piccadilly is a story of ambition, desire and jealousy. Nightclub and restaurant owner Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas) is enjoying tremendous success, largely due to his dancing stars Vic (Charles Laughton) and Mabel (Gilda Gray). That success begins to waver when Vic leaves for Hollywood after a heated argument and Valentine is forced to try out a new act, a scullery maid from his own kitchens, Shosho (Anna May Wong). Set in roaring 1920’s London, Piccadilly is notable for qualities not typically associated with British silent films: opulence, passion and a surprisingly direct approach to tackling the issues of the day.

It’s the third time St Giles’ has put on a silent film with live music — and this year’s screening hopes to build on the success of last year’s film, Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A tale of the London Fog. The film will be accompanied with jazz played by a live band and a solo pianist together with Camberwell Community Choir. Some of the songs which are due to be performed were original hits for the band featured in the film itself — The Savoy Orpheans led by Debroy Somers.

Tickets for the film will be available at the door (£8, or £5 concessions). Or you might want to buy combined tickets online at http://www.wegottickets.com/event/334999 where for £12 you can buy film tickets and tickets for a speakeasy‐themed night in St Giles’ crypt, featuring the band after the film screening till late.

Halloween / period outfits welcome! 

On the buses

For the last few months, like many people, my commute to work has been affected severely by the road works at Elephant and Castle. The removal of the northern roundabout and the new north‐south cycle superhighway have often created tailbacks all the way back to Camberwell Road. The option of traveling west up Camberwell New Road has also been affected by the road works for cycle superhighway 5 over Vauxhall Bridge. Personally I welcome these developments, but I will be very glad when their construction is finished.

The effect on traffic made me think about the extent to which Camberwell commuters rely on the bus to get to work. Census data from 2011 shows just how dependent we are – out of more than 8,500 wards in England and Wales, the six with the highest percentage of residents in employment who use the bus to get to work is:

Camberwell Green 44.3%
Peckham 44.2%
Faraday 43.9%
Livesey 41.1%
East Walworth 38.9%
Brunswick Park 38.6%

Source: Office for National Statistics, Neighbourhood Statistics, Method of Travel to Work (QS701EW), 2011

In other words, our little area of London is unique in the whole of England and Wales in terms of its reliance on the bus. The reasons for this are interlinked. With the exception of South Bermondsey and Denmark Hill stations, there are no other rail or tube links across the six wards. As with much of inner London, car ownership is low – between 60% (Brunswick Park) and 69% (Camberwell Green) of households do not own a car. Only 7% of commuters across the six wards cycle to work, which compares to upwards of 20% in areas of Hackney (although hopefully this will change once the new cycling infrastructure is in place). By contrast, the bus network is very comprehensive. 15 different bus routes pass through Camberwell Green, which is one more than Piccadilly Circus. During rush hour on Camberwell Road, the interval between northbound buses is usually less than a minute.

Just another reason, if one were needed, why Camberwell is special.

Camberwell’s view of St Paul’s Cathedral Update

In 2014 and earlier this year I wrote about the proposal for residential towers on Park Street near Tate Modern that threatened the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from the northwest corner of Camberwell Green. In response to the concerns raised by local residents, the developer reduced the height of the tallest tower by two storeys, and in the summer Southwark Council gave the go‐ahead for the project. The new building will still have an adverse effect on the view of the drum of the Cathedral, but the view of the dome should be preserved. It is probably the best outcome we could have expected, so thank you to all those who wrote to the Council to object to the original proposal.

Nevertheless, it will still stick in the craw when the towers are completed, and their top floor penthouses are marketed for their unparalleled views of the Cathedral!

Camberwell Arts 2015: Exhibit your art at Camberwell Open.

Arts-Festival

It’s 25 days until the 21st Camberwell Arts Festival!

Did you know we are the longest running visual arts festival in the UK?
It is organised by a group of hard‐working volunteers who work to seek to promote the arts in this unique area of South‐East London, through unveiling emerging talent and collaborating with internationally acclaimed artists, designers and creatives.

We want this year’s Festival to be a feast for the eyes…a feast for the soul…a feast for the stomach!

Running from the 20th‐28th June, this year’s festival is FEAST — but it’s not just food — it’s also about celebrating the cultural feast that exists in Camberwell in the form of art, performance and creativity.

The programme is fit to bursting, and has been sent to the printers. We launch on the 1st June, and will be keeping you updated with all of the very latest news, such as…

The Camberwell Open

thecamberwellopen.org
thecamberwellopen.org

Last autumn, we gained a whole host of new trustees keen to share their talents. Amongst them was Gita Joshi: a Camberwell resident and art gallery owner (orsomajor.com) who felt passionate about the manifesto to celebrate the arts in Camberwell and Camberwell through the arts.

Which why this year, she will be curating an inaugural Open Exhibition for all Camberwell artists whether they are leisure painters, semi‐professionals or full time artists. The exhibition will present a snapshot of creative practice from artists based in, or associated with Camberwell.

Artists including students and those who paint or produce art for leisure are encouraged to submit to see their work hung, and on sale, alongside some known names from the art scene. It is set to be a great event, and there will be three prize winners selected by a jury.

Camberwell has several life drawing groups as well as artists’ studios used by full time artists. The exhibition aims to present all of their offerings under one roof so we really can celebrate the gamut of art across Camberwell / SE5.

The exhibition will take place in Camberwell Leisure Centre, Artichoke Place from 5th to 28th June 2015 as part of the Camberwell Arts Festival.

To apply…
Artists need to fill out a simple online form.
A submission fee of £10 per artwork, with up to three submissions from a single artist.
Only 2‐D submissions will be accepted. In the future, we hope to accommodate 3‐D submissions.

We hope you will all dig out your paints, camera, pastels, and pencils and take part.

For more information: www.camberwellarts.org.uk  |  @CamberwellArts #CamberwellFeast  |  www.facebook.com/camberwellartsfestival |  CamberwellArtsFestival@​gmail.​com

(Many Thanks to Peter for inviting us to post!)

All Change On Camberwell Green

After what feels like years of discussions and focus groups, planning permission has finally been presented for Camberwell Green. More on this in a bit, but other plans are afoot too.

Theoretically, work on pocket spaces and specifically Datchelor Place (home to Flying Fish and Pigeon Hole) will be pedestrianised before the end of this financial year (Take heed Southwark Council: April 5th. Get a move on). After this one is done, there’s still a quite a few other pocket spaces to do too. The very successful Camberwell Arts Christmas Market showed what can be done there if given the space and the resources.

The New Camberwell Library
The New Camberwell Library

The new library is taking shape nicely too. Whilst I have been quite vocal in my disgust at a (Labour run) Southwark Council sham of a “consultation” and the destruction of the orchard, the library itself looks good from the outside and I hope that we get something that we can be proud of. I love the type font for the front of the building. The new library sits on the edge of Camberwell Green, between the green and the Magistrates’ Court.

Which brings me neatly onto the plans for Camberwell Green.

On the whole I think the plans sympathetically take into account the history of the Green whilst giving it a much needed and welcome upgrade. Thought has been given to allow people clear paths to the library and beyond, to the court and even Burgess Park. However, there are some aspects that I am not so keen on. Below is a screen grab from one of the many planning permission documents. You can see all of the documents here: Southwark Planning Website

Camberwell Green Overview of plans
Camberwell Green Overview of proposed plans

 

In the plus column:

  • The green will retain some of the historical features such as the original gateposts, the ancient pathways, the war memorial and the Sidney Bates memorial bench. I hadn’t really noticed the gateposts before, but I am glad they are being restored.
    Camberwell Green
    Original pathways and most of the mature trees to be retained.
    Camberwell Green Gatepost
    Original Gateposts to be restored and retained.
  • Most of the trees are to be kept, including the lovely massive one that overhangs the pathway by the loo (see below for more about the loo). At the same time, more trees will be planted, including disease resistant elm trees to replace some of the trees in the future.
  • The railings will now be kept around most of the Green. (The original designs took these away to make it less pleasant to stop people hanging around there being “anti‐social” i.e. street drinkers, but without thinking it might make it less pleasant for everyone else as well!)
  • The playground has been moved to the north end of the green. I think this makes for a better, larger connected open space rather than two spaces divided by the playground.
  • The south east side of the green will be extended to take in part of the road in front of the Peabody Estate. This will be used for the farmer’s market and other events. I think it makes sense to bring the market to a more obvious position. Hopefully this will help the market traders and customers.

    Future Location of the Farmer's Market.
    Future Location of the Farmer’s Market.
  • The borders of the green on Camberwell Church St and Camberwell Road will be filled with flowers and wild meadows to create a buffer zone between the green and the traffic.
  • There are also several “feature walls”, near the borders, some of which will also contain seating.
  • And finally, there will be a pedestrian crossing from the green to Camberwell Passage. As someone who crosses the road here all the time to catch the bus, I know this is a really helpful thing. (I hope they don’t make it too frustrating for traffic though. If it’s a pelican crossing that takes for ever for the green man, often people have crossed already meaning drivers have to pointlessly wait while nobody crosses!)

On the down side:

  • The toilet. Yes, THE TOILET! It screams: “Welcome to Camberwell, it’s full of s**t!”. Apparently this toilet, that sits at the crossroads to the green (where a beautiful water feature of another type used to sit, see pics below) has to stay because the bus drivers need it. I’m sorry, but I have never once seen a bus driver, or anyone else use this toilet, except on the rare occasions when there are big events on the green. If it has to be kept (and I do not think it’s worth it personally) a much better solution would be to have it near the farmer’s market area, in a more discreet position. Not with the door opening onto a busy crossroads where everyone can see you! (Apparently cost is preventing this. See below for my solution).
Welcome to Camberwell Green. It's a bit shit.
Welcome to Camberwell Green. It’s a bit s**t.
Note the old water fountain that pre-dates the current water feature!
Note the old water fountain at the entrance to the Green that pre‐dates the current water feature!
  • I don’t like the new street lights that are proposed. I think they will date very quickly and the ones we have currently are a much better design for the green. Maybe the money saved by not buying new street lights could be used to pay for moving the turdis (a.k.a. the toilet).
Existing Lamp Posts
Existing Lamp Posts. Pigeon Optional.

 

Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green.
Proposed Lamp Posts for Camberwell Green. Man with briefcase optional.

 

So what now?

What do you think? Do you like the plans? What do you want to see changed, even at this late stage?

As well as adding your comments below, if you want to show your support or opposition to the plans (see full details of all the documents and plan here) you should email Southwark’s Planning department quoting planning reference 14/AP/4537. Send your emails to: planning.​consultation@​southwark.​gov.​uk.

A note on the Southwark website says: “Please make sure that you state the application number and your postal address. Comments that you submit will be published on this website for others to see”, so make sure you do this.

And if you want to make a fuss (dare I say a “Sh*tstorm”?) about the toilet plans, get in touch. Let’s march!