The World Cup of London Boroughs Final: Lewisham vs Lambeth

Going in one more round when you don't think you can - that's what makes all the difference in your life. This is it, one last push and bragging rights over all of London are ours for the next four years.

Lewisham was written off from the start. They said we were underdogs, has-beens, suburban no-hopers. Lambeth, pumped up on steroids and Russian money, promised to break us. But the moment of truth is here. No pain.

Please vote now.

Rebel Base


Mothers is a new album from 'in analysis', a music project created by Brockley songwriter David Schweitzer. He explains:

We create songs based on stories contributed anonymously by members of the public.

In February 2017, we invited people to write about their mothers via an anonymous form on their website. We received a number of interesting, frank and heartfelt stories.

Using these contributions as raw material, in analysis wrote the eleven songs on this record, which are performed by the band and a number of guest vocalists.

The fact that you have no idea who wrote the stories – and know nothing about their age, gender or background – means you really have to focus on the key emotional ideas they communicate.

While the words have nearly always been changed to create the lyrics for the songs, we’ve tried to make sure the songs stay true to those central ideas.

We think that this has resulted in is a warm, honest, emotional and sometimes humorous set of songs. And while many of the stories are quite specific, we hope that the songs will resonate with a wide range of listeners.

You can listen to the record on Spotify, but we’ve also released a limited edition yellow vinyl record edition with lyrics and also lovely illustrations by Mary Richards (another local resident). These are £12 from our website or can be bought from the Gently or Gently Elephant shops in Brockley. Any money from sales goes to Mind and the Samaritans.

The World Cup of London Boroughs: Lewisham vs Islington

Twitter polls, bloody hell.

Lewisham is now through to the semi-finals of the World Cup of London Boroughs, having had the toughest route to the last four. In the first round, we squeaked past Southwark, then we trounced Camden (the borough I would most like to live in, if I couldn't live in Lewisham) and won comfortably against Hackney in the quarters.

Now, we face the fight of our lives against imperious Islington. With 19 hours to go and over 3,000 votes cast, Islington is edging it 51% vs 49%.

Victory for Lewisham would guarantee an all-South final, as Lambeth face Greenwich next.

Please cast your vote. After missing out on the Borough of Culture we need this.

The New Battle of Lewisham

This weekend, the Observer has been documenting the growing power of Momentum within the Labour Party, casting the spotlight on Lewisham, which has been a key battleground between traditional Labour activists and Momentum members.

The paper's political editor Heather Stewart follows Heidi Alexander MP on the campaign trail and examines attitudes towards Corbynism among local voters and members:

Alexander says Corbyn is “Marmite” in Lewisham East. “Even amongst Labour voters, the range of views in this constituency at the last election was [like] nothing I’ve ever experienced,” she says. “You had people who loved Jeremy, people voting for Labour despite Jeremy – and a whole load in the middle who just wanted to kick the Tories out.”

But there could hardly be a better illustration of the power shift under way than a public meeting later the same day in nearby New Cross, in the neighbouring constituency of Lewisham Deptford, where Vicky Foxcroft is the MP.

Labour’s candidate for the directly elected post of executive mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, has come along to be grilled by members of the local Momentum group. Many of them backed an alternative candidate, Paul Bell – and are calling for the post to be abolished – but Egan is keen to win them over.

More than 40 people of a range of ages are perched on chairs in New Cross Learning, a former council library, now staffed largely by volunteers. Sharing the platform, and kicking off the discussion, is Jill Mountford – a combative and controversial local figure. As a prime mover in a group called the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), she has been suspended from Labour, and remains outside the party...

For Alexander, in Lewisham East, the influx of new members has sometimes represented a direct challenge. She was the first member of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to tender her resignation in the “coup” against him in 2016.

Afterwards, she endured a stormy CLP meeting in a hot and overcrowded hall followed by months of wrangling with local members who objected to her decision.

“There was a hardcore of Momentum who thought, we’ll take over the constituency and we’ll get rid of Heidi,” says the then chair of the CLP, who does not want her name to be published for professional reasons...

For the full article, click here

Brockley home worth two in Southern Hemisphere

Hahei Beach
New Zealand is the Brockley of the Southern Hemisphere. Slightly overshadowed by brash cousins across the water to the north, but full of people making wearable art, building their own homes and perfecting the art of coffee making. Like Brockley, New Zealand has a surprisingly rubbish pub scene, but makes up for it with a disarmingly good food scene.

Now you, can experience Brockley living upside down, by trading your house for one of two in New Zealand in a house swap that sounds too good to be true. Lynne writes:

We are visiting family and grandchildren who live close to Hilly Fields during July and August this year. We have a lovely family home close to two harbour beaches in Devonport, Auckland and a holiday home in beautiful Hahei Beach in the Coromandel . In exchange for 2 weeks accomodation in Brockley we could offer the use of our houses in New Zealand at a non simultaneous time to suit.

If you are interested to discuss further, drop me a line at

Barclays Crofton Park to close

The last bank branch in SE4 will close on July 6th.

Dent & McKenzie launch a new weekly market in Deptford

Grace Dent, critic, author and broadcaster, has joined forces with food-event guru Kate McKenzie to present Deptford Bites Live on Saturday 7th April 2018. This one-day festival of eating & drinking runs from 10pm to 4pm at Deptford Market Yard.

The event will mark the start of a new weekly market in the Yard.
On the 7th, Grace Dent will curate and host a series of talks which picks apart Deptford’s new status as ‘up and coming’ - including debates about gentrification, veganism and diversity in the restaurant industry. Still, the food should be good.

Free to attend.

Microbrewery plan for empty New Cross bank

Plans have been submitted to redevelop the old bank next door to the Venue in New Cross. The developers envisage:

"The construction of extensions at lower ground, upper ground and first floor levels to the side and rear of 329-331 New Cross Road, SE14 in order to facilitate its use as a restaurant (Use Class A3), a bar (Use Class A4), including micro-brewery and cellarage, and flexible space (Use Class D1), together with the provision of a landscaped courtyard at upper ground floor level bounded by absorbent acoustic panels, changes to door and window openings and an acoustic enclosure to the condenser unit."

The bank occupies a key spot in New Cross and has been closed for decades.

Thanks to Gill for the spot.

Seb Dance MEP - Lewisham for Britain in the EU, March 23

Do you refer to the Brexit referendum as 'only advisory', believe that people who voted leave are racist idiots who got fooled by a toxic combination of some numbers on a bus and the Russians - and that we should vote again because a good chunk of those dumbos have now died of old age? Then this is the event for you.

Fri 23 March 2018
19:00 – 22:00
The Talbot, Tyrwhitt Road

Lewisham for Britain is a campaign group that makes the case for remaining within the EU. They say: 

Join us for an evening of EU and Brexit discussion with the MEP Seb Dance.

Seb is one of London's MEPs, a proud Londoner and a passionate defender of Britain's place in the EU. A member of the Labour Party, he sits on a number of EU Parliamentary Committees and still believes the challenges Britain faces are better served by remaining in the EU.

Come and hear more from Seb on his views about Brexit as we discuss the twists and turns of the complex, febrile time we find ourselves in.

We are proudly unaffiliated to any political party, open to anyone who, like us, believes Britain needs to find a way to stay in the EU.

For more details, click here

Grandad's Shed, Deptford Market Yard

Grandad's Shed is the new private hire venue from Little Nan's bar in Deptford. Founder Tristan writes:

Our new arch in Deptford! Grandad's Shed is large and has the indoors / outdoors vibes, it's suitable for groups of up to 90.

Decked out with a tropical theme, this private party hire space is suitable for groups of 30 - 90 guests, and includes a sectioned off private Victorian cobbled courtyard to the front of the arch.

Little Nan’s is offering this space out for Free Private party hire to all South East London residents for groups larger than 40 guests. If your group is smaller than this number, then there is the option to reserve an area within our main bar arches next door.

Click here for details.

Catford Food Market opens March 25

A new monthly Council-backed street food market starts in Catford on March 25. The Catford Food Market team writes:

The Market, which kicks off on Sunday 25 March from 10am–4pm, will take place on the last Sunday of every month.

By implementing recommendations submitted at – the online engagement platform collecting people’s aspirations for the town centre – Catford Food Market aims to create real opportunities to develop and sustain new businesses, that complements the existing offer and meets local people needs.

International flavours offered by local traders include Caribbean fayre from Jerk Off BBQ, north east Indian delights from Raastawala, Japanese delicacies from Fuse Love and Italian inspired sourdough pizza from Van Dough.  There’ll also be cakes from Brett & Bailey and Miss Flits Vegan Bakes, and bread and pastries from Claude’s Boulangerie. Non-food treats include multicultural children’s books from This is Book Love and work by local Catford artists and designers including Hazel Nicholls.

You can also get your hands on Catford’s newest custom beverages including: Catford Cream Soda and Catford Cola as well as Tom Cat Six gin and Catford Pride pale ale, both of which launched popular drinks festivals last year.

For further information visit or email

Mama Dough, 40 Ladywell Road

Mama Dough, the sourdough pizza specialists from Honor Oak, have opened their Ladywell restaurant.

If you've had a chance to visit, please tell us what it's like.

Lewisham v Camden in the World Cup of London Boroughs

Alright Lewisham, let's roll.

We saw off the favourites Southwark in round one of the World Cup of London Boroughs, when no-one gave us a chance. Now we're up against the fancy-dans of Camden. You have 20 hours to vote on the Twitter feed, so please get on it.

Friendly Gardening

Friendly Gardens needs some love and affection

You shall go to the ball, four times an hour

The Cinderella Line campaign to improve train services through Crofton Park station will be celebrating a major victory from May, as frequency of service will be increased to four trains per hour during off-peak periods. They explain:

Despite a week of snow, nearly 100 local residents braved the weather and made it to the Rivoli Ballroom on Saturday to hear about the future of rail services at Crofton Park. For those who couldn't face the cold, or who made it but want to hear about it all over again, here are the highlights:

Local MP Vicky Foxcroft made the introductions and Michael from the Cinderella Line campaign talked about the achievements of the last few months and future plans.

Brilliantly, for the second and third rounds of the consultation, Crofton Park provided the highest number of responses across the whole network of 140 stations - beating Brighton, London Bridge and London Victoria in the 'having our say' stakes - a real tribute to Crofton Park power.

As a direct result: from May this year, we are getting FOUR TRAINS AN HOUR! This will effectively double our off peak services. In addition, we will also get two extra peak time services in the morning and two more in the evening, with scope for this to be increased in line with passenger needs in the future.

This is the culmination of years of work from the campaign, but as Michael mentioned, although we have achieved what the campaign set out to do, there are still a lot of hills to climb and we are willing to keep pushing for further improvements to the services and the station, as always, with your support.

Lewisham Council unveils new rail strategy

Lewisham Station in the 25th Century
Lewisham's leading technocrat, Cllr Alan Hall, has published Lewisham's new rail strategy on his blog. He explains:

“Railways are incredibly important to Lewisham and have shaped our local communities. I have said we must be ambitious for Lewisham but local residents need to be involved in our decisions. I have asked that this important report be discussed at the next Sustainable Development Committee but I would welcome public comments on these new and exciting plans.”

“These include increasing frequencies on existing routes, adding new stations and supporting the Bakerloo Line extension – dubbed Bakerlooisham”

The report highlights the dramatic differences in connectivity between the well-connected northwest of the borough (Greater Brockley) and the desultory southeast, where, for example, Whitefoot has no stations at all.

Lewisham Council's 'vision goals' are as follows:

1.To provide better links and sufficient rail capacity between all areas of Lewisham Borough and central London employment areas.
2. To provide sufficient rail capacity between all areas of Lewisham Borough and East London employment areas.
3. To increase rail access to and from Lewisham’s growth areas.
4. To improve rail connectivity across the Borough, especially east-west links and services to the south of the Borough.
5. To enhance the quality of stations and provide step-free access at all station in the Borough.
6. To improve the connectivity between stations and their local areas.

Which is a nice wish list but doesn't provide a great deal of focus. Loads of trains everywhere is not really a strategy. But there are some nice ideas, including:

- Providing 'Night Tube' style services on the DLR to Lewisham
- Extending the Croydon tram system in to the south of Lewisham
- The reopening of the high level platforms at Brockley for trains from Lewisham to Victoria, natch
- The Bakerloo extension to Lewisham to be extended as far as Hayes at the outset (rather than at some unspecified point in the future)
- An extension of the London Overground from New Cross to Lewisham Station
- A new southern entrance to Ladywell Station

The document also sets out the Council's position about the future of Lewisham Station, which will require a major redevelopment to accommodate the Bakerloo and rising passenger numbers:

Through the study [“Lewisham Feasibility Assessment: Station, Platforms and Subways”], the Council has advocated for improvements to Lewisham station to enable local housing development and provide access to Lewisham town centre. These upgrades should be a requirement on the new Southeastern franchisee in order to secure any possible increases in capacity before major schemes can be delivered. Better access to National Rail services and DLR could be secured through minor projects in the interim. 

The option to extend the Overground should be secured through any station upgrade project. With development sites coming forward at a rapid pace around the station, the opportunity exists now to start safeguarding a future vision for the station. This will ensure that the station in the future can engage with the surrounding area rather than be an inward-focused transit interchange.

To read the full document, click here.

Much of this stuff may be wishful thinking, but I am glad this thinking is going on.

Lewisham commuter rebellion as passengers abandon train during Storm Emma

Passengers held outside Lewisham Station on a Southeastern train rebelled and fled the train during Storm Emma tonight. The Telegraph reports:

"In south-east London commuters took matters into their own hands, pressing the emergency door release and getting out onto the tracks when their train was held outside the station. As a result, all lines through Lewisham station were blocked.

"Southeastern Railway said the situation was getting worse "because several people are jumping off trains onto the tracks", warning that it would only cause further delays.

"Power was switched off on trains because of the incident and the police and fire service were brought in to help get people off trains."

Ian Thomas recommended as new Lewisham Council CEO

Ian Thomas, the man who led the response to Britain's worst-ever child sexual abuse scandal, has been recommended as the new CEO of Lewisham Council. The Council says:

The recommendation was made following a rigorous selection process by an appointments panel consisting of Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham and a cross-party group of eight councillors.

The recommendation will go to Full Council on 14 March 2018. Organisations from across the Lewisham borough also took part in the selection process, including:
  • Lewisham Hospital
  • The police
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Phoenix Community Housing
  • SE London Chamber of Commerce
Ian’s work at Rotherham Council Ian is currently the Strategic Director for Children and Young People at Rotherham Council. Since becoming the statutory children’s officer for Rotherham in January 2015, he has been busy responding to the reports of Professor Jay, Louise Casey CB and Ofsted, in what has been the most challenging time for any council.

Under Ian’s leadership, children’s services in Rotherham have been transformed, improving from a rating of ‘inadequate’ to ‘good with outstanding features’ within three years. Ofsted report that there is now ‘a positive organisational culture’ in Rotherham.

At the same time, education standards have improved and, as lead commissioner for victims and survivors of child sexual exploitation (CSE), Ian has mobilised a response with partners which has resulted in 30 sex criminals being convicted, now serving around 400 years in jail between them. A range of community-based services are now in place to support around 1,100 survivors of CSE.

Ian was formerly Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director for Children and Younger Adults at Derbyshire County Council and Assistant Director (Social Care and Housing Strategy) at Trafford MBC.

Ian Thomas said, ‘I feel both humbled and privileged to be offered the role of Chief Executive of Lewisham Council. This is an exciting time for the borough, which has been well led by Dr Barry Quirk and Sir Steve Bullock over many years. I look forward to working with the new mayor, ward councillors, staff, partners and residents, to build on what has been achieved in the borough, address the challenges ahead, as well as seize the opportunities to improve the lives of all Lewisham citizens.’

In 2014, Ian was named by innovation charity NESTA and The Observer as of one of ‘Britain’s New Radicals’ for his creative ideas in raising aspirations for children in care. He holds a master’s degree in Developing Professional Practice (incorporating change management) and is a master’s-level qualified executive coach and mentor.

Lewisham parks top London ranking

Lewisham may lack a spectacular showpiece park, but its greenspaces have nonetheless finished joint-first in the inaugural Good Parks for London report, produced by independent charity Parks for London.

The ranking compares the London boroughs' parks, based on ten different criteria, ranging from public satisfaction to their role in hosting public events. Lewisham came top with Southwark and Lambeth.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone whose work helps to keep our parks special. Thanks too to Chris, for sharing the study.

Vulcan Death Slip

Lewisham's preparations for the Beast from the East leave a little to be desired:

Official: Lewisham better than Southwark

Tim Roth, Siouxsie Sioux, Charles Babbage, Robert Recorde, Mary Wollstonecraft, Rio Ferdinand, John Boyega... Your boys took a hell of a beating.

The esteemed World Cup of London Boroughs competition is taking place on Twitter at the moment, with each of the 32 boroughs involved in a knock out tournament that pits them head-to-head in a public vote.

Lewisham's first round opponent was the much-fancied Southwark but after a slow start by our borough, we beat them by the narrowest of margins during a bout that drew 14 times as many votes as Croydon vs Havering:
Both boroughs would have been deserving finalists, but we're now through to face the mighty Camden in the Round of 16.

The South East London solar buyers club

Our local renewable energy collective says:

Brockley households are being given the chance to cash in on cheap solar power, thanks to a new community ‘buyers’ club’.  The not-for-profit project aims to bring households together so that they can use their collective purchasing power to knock down the costs of buying and installing solar panels on their homes.

The project is being launched by South East London Community Energy (Selce) at an evening event on Friday 2nd March in Greenwich. The local co-operative has already raised almost £400,000 to install solar arrays on seven local primary schools. Now it wants to help Lewisham's residents to ‘go solar’ as well. Residents living in conservation areas will also be eligible.

“Many people like the idea of installing solar panels on their roof but the costs and complexity can be off-putting,” says Selce’s chair, Camilla Berens. “Our new Solar Buyers’ Club will not only bring down the costs of the whole process but it’s also supported by quality installers.”

Selce is working with Community Renewable Energy Wandsworth (Crew) to launch the club. It is hoped that by teaming up with households in other parts of London, even bigger savings can be made. “The more people who club together, the lower the cost,” Camilla explains. “Participants will also benefit from government subsidies that are provided for small-scale solar generators. These subsidies are being withdrawn completely next year, so it’s a case of use it or lose it.”

The project has a feel-good factor as well. “The more solar energy we can generate as a community, the less we depend on climate-changing fossil fuels,” Camilla adds. “What’s more, £100 from each installation will go towards supporting Selce’s not-for-profit project to help low-income households who are being forced to make the choice between heating and eating.” So far, Selce’s pop-up energy advice cafes have provided advice and support to over 1,200 local people.

Selce’s Buyer’s Club event is taking place on Friday 2nd March 2018 from 7pm – 9pm at Mycenae House, 90 Mycenae Road, London, SE3 7SE. To book a site survey to assess the suitability of your roof for solar power, please email the project manager at  before March 2nd.

Judge: 'Irrational' Lewisham Council should not have allowed phone masts

Local Government Lawyer reports:

A London borough wrongly interpreted the General Permitted Development Order on the siting of radio masts, the High Court has said. Granting an application for judicial review brought by local resident Nigel Mawbey, Lang J said the London Borough of Lewisham had been wrong when it gave permission to Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure to erect the masts.

Mr Mawbey sought judicial review of Lewisham’s decision that the installation of mobile telephone apparatus on the roof of Forsythia House, which is owned by Lewisham Homes, was permitted development... He objected to the installation due to lack of consultation and that the masts were unsightly in a conservation area and posed a radiation health risk [BC's note: They're ugly, but they're no health risk]...

The judge said Lewisham and Cornerstone “have not been able to identify any reason why that balance of competing interests should not be given effect in building-based developments using pole mounts. “I have come to the conclusion that the claimant's interpretation, as supported by the Secretary of State, is correct. In summary, each central support pole comes within the definition of ‘electronic communications apparatus”.

Lewisham had reached an irrational decision by concluding that the support poles were not masts because they were not ground-based, and the scale and design of the support poles was not characteristic of a roof mast.

TfL rules out Lewisham Way Bakerloo station

According to 853, TfL has ruled out the idea of incorporating a St John's or Lewisham Way station into the Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham, which will open next decade.

I had no idea this was even thought a possibility, but now it isn't. Which makes more sense. However, 853 notes:

[TfL says] that existing plans to build stations at New Cross Gate and Lewisham will provide sufficient coverage for nearby areas of Deptford and Brockley.

But, according to its latest consultation documents, TfL is now considering building a station at Bricklayers Arms on the Tube extension, which would run from Elephant and Castle to Lewisham with two stops on the Old Kent Road and one at New Cross Gate. This follows two local petitions in the area.

TfL also says it is confident the existing bus interchange at Lewisham will be able to cope with the new route. TfL has been responding to issues raised in a consultation carried last year into the extension, which looked at station locations, sites where tunnelling shafts will be located, and plans to have the tracks run as far as the current Lewisham Council depot at Wearside Road.

Bricklayers Arms needs all the help it can get.

For the full details of what isn't happening, click here.

Thanks to JPM for the heads-up.

The Telegraph Hill Festival 2018

Sanjit writes:

The 2018 Telegraph Hill Festival is here, and takes place from 10 - 25 March 2018.  Telegraph Hill Festival is London's largest and best independent, self-funding, and volunteer driven festival, and one of the capital's best-kept secrets.

Athena Kugblenu at the 2017 Telegraph Hill Festival Comedy Night
The 24th Telegraph Hill Festival has more than 120 events, with 74 free of charge.  Events take place across Telegraph Hill, from St Catherine's Church to the Five Bells and Goldsmiths to The Telegraph pub.  There are lots of highlights, here are just a few...

  • West Side Story - a cast of 260 delivers one of musical theatre's most compelling story's across fours shows on 10/11 March 2018 at St Catherine's Church
  • On Sunday 11th March too, best-selling author and reluctant futurist Mark Stevenson puts our turbulent times into perspective with an accessible, funny and challenging talk and Q&A about the future of society and technology
  • Monday 12th March has - for the first time - a Comedy Impro Night featuring the Stephen Frost Impro All Stars in dazzling feats of inventive and surreal comedy, literally, making it up as they go along...
  • Moving Hearts: A Clay Workshop is on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th March and invites you to take part in an exploration of the issues of belonging and migration and help make some of the 1000 hearts needed for an installation piece in the Migration Museum in Spitalfields (free)... meanwhile in the evening we explore the Lost Island of New Cross, an illustrated talk exploring the history and mythology of the White Hart junction in New Cross Gate and its lost traffic island.
Open Mics, Poetry Slams, Caribbean Folksong, Quizzes, Music Jams, Disco Bingo, the welcome return of an uplifting evening of choirs at Telegraph Hill Sings, Exploring the Radical History of New Cross, Classics on the Hill (with the added pizzazz of an amazing light spectacular), experimental journeys in sound with Sonic Imperfections, Open Studios, a Woodland Folk Festival, A night of Jazz featuring world-class musicians... ever get the idea there might be something interesting here?

For tickets and full details, click here.

The Gape of Water

One Brockley man has been fighting an epic battle with the machine, trying to persuade Thames Water to properly fix the leaky water main near his house by Hilly Fields.

BCer Chris first reported the problem on January 4th and despite repeated visits and building works that have caused traffic disruption, the utility has merely been able to paper over the cracks.

To experience Chris' Kafkaesque nightmare in full, click here to read the month-long exchange.

Leatherwork at the Taproom

Ben writes:

I am doing a series of leather workshops, which are also an opportunity to check out the new Taproom in Deptford Market Yard.

I'll be teaching people how to make a simple leather glasses case or belt which you can take home. It's a beginner class - a good way to find out some basic techniques that may be the gateway to get you into a passion for making beautiful leather items.

The next class is 'how to make a belt' on Wednesday 28th February. The classes will alternate every two weeks from the 28th.

There are more details here.

Suffed at the Brockley Jack

by Lucy Joy Russell & Holly McFarlane
Tuesday 6 to Saturday 17 March 2018

A friend of mine has written a play running at the Brockley Jack in March, which aims to provoke a debate about infertility and IVF. The Stuffed team explains:

"There is a growing fertility crisis in the UK. Around 1 in 7 heterosexual couples, or 3.5 million people will have difficulty conceiving.  Since the 1970s male sperm counts are down nearly 60% across the western world and 20% of women born in the same decade reached 45 without having children.

"It’s not clear exactly what’s to blame. 20-30% of infertility cases are due to male factors, 20-35% are due to female, and 25-40% are due to combined problems in both parts. Up to 20% of cases remain 'unexplained'. But to try and cope, couples are increasingly looking for professional help to conceive and today 1 in 50 children born in the UK are the result of IVF, with many more receiving other fertility treatments.

"NICE guidelines suggest three IVF cycles for couples struggling with infertility. Yet few NHS trusts can afford to offer it and so people increasingly turn to the private sector – often with little understanding that expensive doesn’t mean effective. According to NICE, across the age range, 65-80% of IVF cycles will fail. These can cost anywhere from £3,000 to £15,000 and more.

"Yet discussion on the topic, while no longer taboo, is fraught with anxiety and superstition. People on both sides still don’t know how to talk about it openly. Those with children to those without, Doctors to patients, and people on the journey to each other. In a first for the topic in UK theatre, ‘STUFFED’ is a new comedy about IVF. It aims to demystify some of the challenges and offer a new perspective on an issue that is only growing.

"Playwright Lucy Russell said, “With Mother’s Day just around the corner, the world can often feel very much focussed on people having children. But the new reality is that most people will know someone who has difficulty conceiving - even if they haven't told them yet. Unfortunately, they may know nothing of the experience itself or be unsure how to ask. By showing there is a funny side to IVF we want to open up a conversation, not just about the trials and tribulations of IVF itself, but also of futures that don’t have children at their centre”

"Based on a true story, STUFFED the play opens at the Jack Studio theatre on Tuesday 6 March and there will be a post-show discussion involving the Fertility Network on Tuesday 13 March."

To buy tickets, click here.

Night tube ELL to run to Highbury & Islington from February 23

The East London Line night time service from New Cross Gate to Dalston is being extended two more stops. City AM reports:

The Night Overground service is set to be extended to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington from Friday 23 February after coming to the London Overground in December.

Since 15 December, there have been 24-hour services every Friday and Saturday between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate. Whitechapel is still to be included as it waits until Crossrail works are completed.

Over 30,000 journeys have been made on the Night Overground since the service began in December [which is surprisingly few].

A Star Barbershop, 225 Lewisham Way

A post shared by A Star Barber Shop (@astarbarbershop) on
This new barbershop has just opened and is currently recruiting. Contact them here if you're interested in applying.

The Brockley Experiment

Barry Norris: Hey, listen up everybody, whoever's doing this, they're having a little fun at our expense.
- The Belko Experiment

The crazy cats at TfL have been freestyling around, throwing some stuff at the wall to see what sticks, and came up with the idea of making Brockley Station into a one-way access system, so that  people had longer journeys to reach their trains and fewer gates to pass through at rush hour.

Photo: Ruby Heera
Why this was thought to be an idea worth trying is known only to the imps at TfL but, one week in, the evidence is conclusive. It does not work.

As The News Shopper noted:

A “disastrous” new trial crowd management system at Brockley Station has left queues with hundreds of people outside the station. Introduced yesterday (February 5), the scheme means people can only enter the station via one of the entrances, with the exit being through the ticket hall. It has left queues snaking down the street at rush hours both mornings and has left commuters frustrated at a system many felt did not need fixing.

Out of interest, did anyone ever experience a peak time crowding problem at Brockley Station that they thought needed fixing (other than through the addition of more trains)?

The trial ends on February 16th.

Lewisham Council to decide fate of two towers this week

On Thursday, Lewisham Council will consider plans to redevelop the Carpetright site on Loampit Vale. The application, which has been recommended by officers for approval, is for:

"The demolition of the existing Carpetright building and the construction of two buildings of 16 storeys and 30 storeys in height comprising 899sqm non-residential floorspace comprising (A1) Shops, (A2) Financial & Professional Services, (A3) Restaurants & Cafes, (B1) Business, (D1) Non-residential Institutions and (D2) Assembly & Leisure uses and 242 residential units with private and communal open space, on-site energy centre, cycle parking and associated landscaping and public realm works."

Close the gap in Crofton Park

Reader Emily wants to do something about the large gap between the trains and the northbound platform. She writes:

"I am always a bit nervous of the gap - it’s huge - when I get on or off trains on the northbound platform at Crofton Park station.  I’m tall, wear sensible shoes with low heels, travel light, know the station well, but still get nervous. The platform at Crofton Park is curved and some of the doors on carriages further back from the driving engine are not visible to the driver, at least just by him just looking behind him.

"To make things worse, the platform is often really poorly-lit after dark and I’ve heard people gasp - and not in a good way - as they step out into the void as they disembark on winter evenings."

"Crofton Park station is not unique in this regard.  I’ve long worried about gaps between platforms and the floors of certain models of newer trains at a number of stations.  Nunhead, Catford, Beckenham Hill - the only ones on that line that I use regularly and am au fait with - all bigger than I find comfortable, all with vertical gaps way bigger than I would like to lift a baby buggy or bicycle up or down from."

"These gaps can be fixed. The gap on Platform 4 at Elephant & Castle station used to be huge and I thought it was really dangerous as the platforms and trains were often more crowded than at the stations I’ve mentioned.  I was very pleased when I noticed that this gap was hugely reduced a few years ago - by adding a gently sloping platform on top of the existing platform to raise it and - possibly - extend it out towards the track.

"I would love it if there could be a discussion leading to change on this front. I think the recent tragedy could be a catalyst for a debate.

"It seems to me like it would be quite a cheap and easy matter to raise train platform heights.  It seems curious that so much effort goes into installing lifts and incorporating step-free access at new tube stations but nothing is done to just make access ‘step-not-too-huge’ at train stations."

"I would like to hear from other Brockley Central readers, to know if they share my concerns and would support a campaign to get something done?"

Campaigners fight closure of New Cross Gate post office

Councillor Brenda Dacres has launched a petition to fight the proposed closure of New Cross Gate Crown Post Office. She writes:

"On the 10th January 2017 the Post Office Limited proposed to close 93 Post Offices. Among those they wish to close is New Cross Gate Crown Post Office located at 199/205 New Cross Road, SE14 5DH.

"New Cross Gate Crown Post Office provides a vital service to the local community and beyond, and to loose such services will gravely impact those who need this local post office most. Among those will be pensioners and vulnerable people. This is a high demand, busy and heavily utilised Crown Post Office.

"New Cross Gate Crown Post Office is located in a central location in New Cross, at a major public bus interchange, where for local savers there is no alternative banking facilities.  It is used by a wide demographic of ages for postal services, saving, making payments, currency, passports service, as well as many other key services. In this part of New Cross there is no other banking or saving institutions, which adds to reason why the Crown Post Office at New Cross Gate would be a severe loss."

To sign the petition, click here.

Soc seeks ten to tend St John's strip

Chairman of the St John's Society, Roger Lewis writes:

One of our Society's planned projects is to turn the unkept section of land on St. John’s vale, adjacent to the station car park and below Cliff Terrace, into a landscaped green area. 

We are now in a position to apply for a licence from Network Rail to care for the land, but before we can do this we need to be clear that we have a large working group of volunteers to sub-manage this on behalf of St. John’s Society. 

This may include residents in St John’s or in Brockley generally, and will include a small time commitment of a half-yearly meeting, working days to work away on the site and also planning, design and health and safety matters. 

If you have green fingers or organisational skills and wish to be involved, please reply to this email or email me directly ( 

We can only move forward if can find ten volunteers to steward it through to completion, so please if you wish and have the time and resources to make a contribution, get in touch!

Brockley Brew School

The Brockley Brewing Company is running a one-day brewing class. They explain:

Head Brewer Jon Travis, will be leading the day, using the all-grain method of brewing, the Grand Master of brewing techniques! You’ll have a great brewing experience, whether you’re an absolute beginner, or have dabbled at home brew but need to pick up some expert methods and tips. All the ingredients you’ll use will be the highest quality Malt, yeast, hops and water. What’s more you’ll get to take home 10 Litres of your own hand-crafted ale for quaffing!

For details, click here.

Four Lewisham schools on England's 'under-performing' list

The Department of Education has published a list of London's under-performing schools. Four Lewisham schools feature on the list, making our borough's total second only to Lambeth's. The Mirror reports:

England's worst school have been revealed as official figures show 365 education centres have failed to meet the government's minimum standards. One in eight of England's mainstream secondaries were under-performing in 2017, according to new statistics. This is up from 282 schools , just under one in 10 - the year before. 

According to analysis of the data, it means 260,783 schoolchildren are now being taught at under-performing secondaries - about one in 12 (8.6%), compared to 206,991 (6.8%) in 2016.  Schools fall below the government's performance threshold if pupils fail to make enough progress across eight subjects, with particular weight given to English and maths.

The Department for Education said the rise in under-performing schools is because of technical changes to the points system used by government statisticians to calculate a school's performance.

The rise comes amid major changes to England's exams system, including the introduction of a new grading system, which has meant the data includes English and maths GCSE results awarded new 9-1 grades while other subjects received traditional A*-G grades.

School leaders said the new grading system affecting English and maths has complicated the way school performance is calculated, as it has to be worked out using a combination of old and new grading systems.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: "As the DfE itself says in today's statistics, these changes are the main reason why there has been an increase in the number of schools which are deemed to be below the 'floor standard' for Progress 8.

Lewisham's entries include two schools serving the Brockley area:

  • Sedgehill School
  • Forest Hill School
  • Prendergast Ladywell School
  • Addey and Stanhope School
With thanks to Daniel for the tip-off.

Brockley Station will go one-way from Feb 5-16

Kenny works for the London Overground and writes:

Aladdin's Cave could be lost to flats

A proposal has been submitted to Lewisham Council to replace Aladdin's Cave, the Lewisham Way treasure trove, with flats.

The proposed new development
The application is for:

The demolition of the existing structures and the construction of a part 3, part 4 storey building at 72 Loampit Hill, SE13 to provide a commercial unit (Use Class B1a) on the ground floor and eight self-contained residential units (Use Class C3), together with 20 cycle spaces, a refuse store, a communal garden and a wildlife ecology garden to the rear of the site.

Aladdin's Cave is one of a handful of genuinely unique local businesses and occupies a building that represents an important piece of local history. Its demolition would be a real loss to Brockley. As From The Murky Depths writes:

"The site was formerly Lewisham Road station on the little known Greenwich Park line which closed 100 years ago, though the station building is still in use by Aladdin’s Cave. It will be demolished under these plans despite being locally listed.

"The application states the building is beyond repair."

Thanks to Monkeyboy for the news.

Campaign group wants to create new Brockley nature reserve

Campaign group The Fourth Reserve Trust exists to create a nature reserve along the Brockley railway cutting. They are campaigning to protect the ancient woodland next to the Crofton Park scout hut, which has been granted 'Asset of Community Value' status. They write:

The scout hut, situated on Courtrai Road, is on a strip of land bordering the railway line, the ‘middle part’ of the New Cross to Forest Hill Cutting that runs between Courtrai Road and Dalrymple Road.

The whole stretch is already recognised by planning policy for its wildlife significance, designated as a Metropolitan Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in the Lewisham Local Plan, dating back to the 1990s. A Tree Preservation Order has been in place for the site since 1997.

This woodland is home to a variety of protected species including bats and hedgehogs and many mature trees; it is the oldest section along the green corridor, with winding paths through a dense cover of mature woodland.

In order to protect the wildlife and their habitats local group the Fourth Reserve Trust is actively campaigning to preserve the neighbourhood’s fragile nature corridor and get the cutting recognised for its ecological significance as a statutory Local Nature Reserve. This would be of great benefit to the neighbourhood, in particular local schools.

Follow and support their campaign on Twitter here:

Current Eternal: Why Seven?

Hilly Fields has inspired another musician. Nikky French writes:

I'm a Brockley resident and just released a single and the video is based entirely on the fallen tree remains in Hilly Fields.

Lewisham legends legitimate?

Subterranean shopping centres in Lewisham and Ladywell Village skyscrapers? Judy's heard some rumours and wants to know if anyone else can corroborate. I can't - can you? Please, help a sister out in the comments below:

"I’ve heard from two reasonably sensible people about two bits of info which seem to have no evidence anywhere else to back them up.

"The first is that that Lewisham shopping centre is due to be demolished and an underground shopping centre built under the road/former roundabout with a – gasp! – Waitrose. Just the market retained but a spirited local campaign already going to ‘save’ the (?) empty Citibank tower.

"Secondly that in Ladywell a block of flats is due to be built in the space occupied by the carwash with a mini supermarket underneath, presumably of a Tesco/Sainsbury kind. Have you heard anything? Lewisham gov website hints at possibilities for further developments but nothing concrete."

Finite & Infinite Sound.Intuition

Take Courage Gallery, 388 New Cross Road
Monday 29th of January 2018, 7pm

Harpist +TATYANA+ brings her unique program to an acoustic setting at the Take Courage Gallery with a selection of original songs.

The evening will culminate with a Sound Bath which is a simultaneously inclusive, interactive, and subversive music-led meditation exploring the therapeutic vibrations of the harp, blurring the boundaries between pop, jazz, Celtic and folk traditions and combines this new style with warm, lush vocals and electronic drums.

Noak reopening with new team

After a period of closure, westside diner Noak is reopening soon with a new team. New manager Gian Luca writes:

Initially, Noak will be open only during the day from 8am till 5pm and during those times I am aiming to keep our offering similar to Noak's old menu.  We will offer a cosy and friendly atmosphere with lots of baked goods, brunch and possibly homemade bread.

I am postponing opening evening times as I want to properly introduce myself and the team to Brockley inhabitants beforehand. Meanwhile I will decide on the best possible offering for the area based also on our guests suggestions.

We are on the lookout for professional and passionate chefs of all levels (preferably with bakery or pastry experience), kitchen porters and front of house team members.

Apply by person at Noak or at

Masala Wala moped muppets

Masala Wala is the second Brockley Cross business to suffer a smashed front window in recent weeks after The Brockley Deli was on the receiving end of a similarly gratuitous act of vandalism before Christmas.

Nothing was stolen, but this is a cost that would hurt any small business.

Sanxia Renjia, 36 Deptford Broadway

Given the fairly abject state of Chinese food options locally, I thought this review of Deptford's Sichuan and Hubei cuisine specialist, Sanxia Renjia, worth sharing with you, just as Monkeyboy shared it with me.

The Observer's Jay Rayner describes it as "an arse-kicking, cheek-slapping, thigh-spanking, gloriously ring-burning Sichuan restaurant." He continues:

Sanxia is on a different mission. Yes, they do have a list of Cantonese standards. The unadventurous of Blackheath must have their hit of sweet and sour pork. But the staff, like the rest of the menu, are eager. They want you to march across unexplored territory.

It appears they even managed to convince Mr Crispy Duck. As he was paying, we heard him complaining that the chicken with red chillies had a greater volume of chillies than chicken. Which is exactly as it’s meant to be. The drifts of crisp-fried red chillies are there for the aromatics, to be dug through in search of the treasure. They are not there for eating.

They are, however, very pretty, which is great because the room isn’t much of a looker. The big light is on. The floor is a white marble slab, as if it’s an airport baggage reclaim hall. Outside the traffic thunders by, on its way to places too manicured to inspire a song by Squeeze. Pay attention instead to what is in your bowl. What’s most striking about the food here is the commitment to light and shade. Dinner in a Sichuan restaurant is usually food as action movie. It’s all bash and crack.

For the full review, click here.

Campaign opposes cuts to children's mental health services in Lewisham

A petition has been launched to protect Lewisham's mental health services from Council cuts. The campaigners say:

Lewisham Council is planning to cut children’s mental health (CAMHS) funding by £150,000 over the next 2 years.  This follows a £94,000 cut last year and is on top of NHS efficiency savings demanded by the government.

The proposed cut will happen at a time when we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis in the NHS- caused by seven years of inadequate health and social care funding by the Conservative and coalition governments.  Lewisham council have been forced to cut £153 million from their total budget, with more cuts to come.

The Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, together with staff, patients and their parents, believe the current situation cannot continue - more money is desperately needed, not less!

At least 3 jobs will be lost, on top of 2 jobs that were lost last year. This equates to hundreds of appointments a year disappearing.

- Waiting lists, already too long, will get longer.
- Clinicians will be forced to make impossible decisions about which cases are less serious, which children will have to wait longest and who will not get the best care.
- More children will go to A&E if these cuts happen.  When young people are in crisis, they often attend A&E because community services are overstretched.  This is distressing for them, it is not the suitable environment and it adds pressure to the hospitals.

We believe that every mental health problem has the potential to become critical if untreated - especially for children and young people.  Lewisham has a number of risk factors that mean our young people’s mental health is worse than average. We cannot afford to increase this risk by increasing the number of children not receiving adequate help in the community.

As well as signing and sharing this petition you can help by:

Joining us to lobby the council -  Wednesday, 17th January at 6.45pm
Coming to our public meeting on Tuesday, 6th February @ 7.30pm @ New Cross Learning
Attending a protest outside the council meeting on 21st February which will have the final power to ratify the proposed cuts.

East London Line closure due to safety fears

The lack of ELL service this morning is due to problems with the trains. The BBC reports:

"Services on the London Overground network have been disrupted after engineers were forced to take trains off the tracks amid "safety" fears.

"Part of the braking system is understood to have fallen off from one of its trains "within the last week".

"As a result the network's branches to Croydon, Crystal Palace, New Cross Gate and Highbury and Islington have all been forced to close.

"TfL say the "extra safety checks" has resulted in a "shortage of trains".

"The problems have caused severe delays on other parts of the network at Richmond, Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction."

The London Overground twitter feed says:

"Customers for the North & East London Lines are strongly advised to use alternatives routes. There is no estimated time when this issue will be resolved. Updates will be posted on the feed."

Mamma Dough Ladywell Begins

Hey Prezzo! Work has started on the new Mamma Dough restaurant in Ladywell Village.

Ladywell's pizza Pilgrims teased us with a glimpse of their new oven before Christmas, which arrived Express delivery.

Ladywell residents must be hoping for a Domino effect, as a new restaurant will add critical mass to the high street. Let's be Franco, there are still too few places to eat to serve the hungry denizens of SE13 - there is no chance this Hut will Fold.

Bite Mi - Best Newcomer 2017

Congratulations to Vietnamese cafe Bite Mi, winner of Brockley Central's Best Newcomer Award for the best new local high street business of 2017.

In the first re-ballot in the award's history, the top three were:

Bite Mi - 34%
Saka Maka - 27%
Parlez - 18%

Bite Mi is a fast, friendly cafe with a simple and authentic menu that has consistently drawn the crowds since it opened in February. With the recent departure of Coulgate Street's Mo Pho, it filled a hole in Brockley's culinary landscape and its stomachs.

This is the third time in four years that a Brockley Cross business has collected the Award, a remarkable turnaround for an undeniably ugly patch of SE4, which was once best known for gang violence and bad parking.

It's also worth noting that this is yet another independent winner, drawn from an all-independent field. The closest we came in 2017 to seeing a chain open in Brockley was the arrival of Gently, the sister store of previous winner Gently Elephant.

When Tesco opened on Lewisham Way a decade ago, many predicted it would herald the end of independent Brockley. Instead, the last ten years have been a golden age for local startups. While the supermarkets have moved in with a vengeance, they are surrounded by high-quality, adventurous and successful local businesses.

With the exception of Ladywell's El's Kitchen, which changed ownership but continues to flourish as The Larder, all of the previous eight winners continue to thrive to this day, while The Orchard, Brockley Market, Gently Elephant, The Brockley Deli and Masala Wala have all gone on to open more businesses in Brockley and beyond. That is an extraordinary record, of which they and we can be proud.

The Brockley Central Hall of Fame now looks like this:

Best Newcomer 2017 - Bite Mi
Best Newcomer 2016 - Cat Food
Best Newcomer 2015 - Masala Wala Cafe
Best Newcomer 2014 - The Brockley Deli
Best Newcomer 2013 - The Malaysian Deli
Best Newcomer 2012 - Gently Elephant
Best Newcomer 2011 - Brockley Market
Best Newcomer 2010 - El's Kitchen
Best Newcomer 2009 - The Orchard

Re-vote - Newcomer of the Year

Due to some extremely unusual voting behaviour and web traffic patterns during the recent poll for the Newcomer of the Year Award, I am re-running the vote to ensure the integrity of the result.

I prefer to keep everything on an open platform like this website, but in order to ensure that the result is not manipulated, I am instead going to run the vote on Facebook.

Sorry for the delay. Those of you who want to show your support for a local business, please head over to the Brockley Central Facebook Group to vote now. Voting will close on Friday night.

The 2018 Telegraph Hill Book Sale for Crisis

Fewer 484s

Due to unpopular demand, from January 6th, the 484 bus from Camberwell Green to Lewisham Station will run less frequently. TfL has announced a raft of cuts, and notes:

To match demand, we’re changing the frequency: Monday to Saturday day times buses will run  every 12 minutes (previously every 10 minutes).

Thanks to 853 for the heads up.

New London Bridge reopens on schedule

The new concourse (Photo: Network Rail)
The huge new London Bridge Station concourse opened as planned this morning, enabling passengers to switch platforms with ease.

It won't stop Southern arbitrarily cancelling evening trains to Brockley on a nightly basis, but you'll have somewhere epic to wait for the next one, with 70 new shops and restaurants due to open this year.
The new Tooley Street entrance (Photo: Team London Bridge)
The new concourse will also allow Cannon Street services to resume calling at London Bridge and provide much quicker access to Tooley Street.

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