Crofton Park

CROFTON COLUMN #57

NEWS/HAPPENINGS IN OUR AREA-SEPTEMBER & BEYOND  #57

I’m writing this in the last few days of August and therefore the end of the school holidays are upon us. For some parents this will be good news as I know the cost and logistics of sorting out childcare can be a nightmare if work and their children are of school age. For many local businesses it is also a very quiet time as so many people are away and so not around to shop/use. Some take the opportunity to close, having well-earned breaks themselves.

September is therefore a big month as everyone returns –sadly the roads and public transport suddenly become busier again but businesses particularly see their customers return and the area begins to thrive again. I personally really like September as lots of local events/festivals start happening again, it is also often a lovely weather month and lastly but not least it is my birthday!!

I will try and list the things I know that are taking place over the next few months and also talk about local business information I’m aware of with a final paragraph ‘Snippets of News’ . If you are a first time reader of my articles/blogs good luck! – they certainly have an informal rambling style of their own but I hope you will bear with me as I think/hope they will provide some useful information on our wonderful, vibrant pocket of SE London.

I will try and follow some kind of logical date order so here goes…………….

LADYWELL 10000M This is the first event of what Kent Athletic club hope will be an annual occasion and it is happening on Sunday 3rd September at the Ladywell Arena. I’ve got to admit I had often seen that lots of local Hillyfield parkrunners were members of the Kent Athletic club and without investigating it further I just assumed they went and ran in the depths of Kent and had no idea they were based only half a mile down the road at the lovely Ladywell arena! I digress. From 3pm to 7.30pm on Sunday there will be six 10km races as part of a racing festival, around the track, with a wide range of speeds and abilities. Spectators will be able to witness some top athletes at very close quarters and so really feel part of the action. It should be an exciting day and inspire all generations but particularly the young. There is also food, drink and music so it promises to be a great family day out.

CATFORD FREE FILM FESTIVAL Following on from the inaugural success of the film festival last September SE6 is being treated to another 10 days of films/events/courses & workshops from Friday 8th September to Sunday 17th September. There is something for everyone with live music and comedy to add to the performances and it is all FREE! (a donation bucket will be rattled at each show to help cover costs). Why not download the easy to follow app and get sorting out what you are going to see/do during the festival. See you there.

BROCKLEY AND LADYWELL FRONT GARDEN SALE The fifth co-ordinated sale is happening this year on the weekend of the 9th and 10th September and is expanding to include Ladywell. It is organised by the Brockley Society and involves lots of people opening up their front gardens to sell their wares (last year there was over 70 participants) It is a great opportunity to grab a bargain as a buyer or become a seller by emailing gardensale@brockleysociety.org.uk My advice would be to gather a few neighbours on your street and join together regarding publicity as it is good to have clusters of sellers. The list of participating addresses will be posted on the Brockley society website nearer the time.

ON BLACKHEATH This is a local festival on the Heath that has been a great success and now in its 4th year. It is taking place on the 9th & 10th September and you can buy a day pass or weekend ticket. I went in the first year and was very impressed-Grace Jones was amazing! This year the headliners are ‘Travis’ (and local born singer Kate Tempest plus the fab Lewisham NHS choir) on the Saturday with the Libertines on the Sunday. There are lots of other things happening at the festival besides music-children under 5 are free with ages 5-12 years only £10. I would certainly recommend it-where else can you see top class bands in a festival setting and walk home! See their website for further details. http://bit.ly/2wnpQDZ

THE PLACE/LADYWELL Hopefully most people will have now visited the bight coloured striking building on Lewisham High street, where the Ladywell baths used to be. It is fast becoming a vibrant destination with the welcoming Good Hope cafe and lots of small independent retail units plus the larger shop ‘Ferba Haberdashery. Regular activities are now taking place and on Saturday 16th September there is a big ‘Music & Spoken word event’ for both children and adults. It looks really interesting and is ticketed but for £10 adults this is a bargain for hours of entertainment! See http://bit.ly/2whwUU8  for details

OPEN HOUSE This is now a worldwide annual architectural event where buildings and places that are often not normally open to the general public on a regular basis are opened up for us to explore in September, all for FREE. There are lots of exciting places in London that are participating but also each borough has their own ‘Open House’ and Lewisham is no exception. See https://openhouselondon.org.uk for details of what is open over the weekend of the 16th and 17th. Many of the popular locations need to be booked so check out as soon as possible if you don’t want to miss out.

DEPTFORD X FESTIVAL September is the exciting annual arts festival in SE8, now in its 18th year and runs from 22nd Sept until 1st October.  The website says it will “consolidate and build on the ambitious new curatorial framework that we successfully piloted in 2016. At its heart are 2 programmes which together give the festival its unique character: Platform 2017, a set of 5 commissions for emerging artists in public space and Fringe 2017, our open programme of independent projects.” For details and updates check out their website. http://deptfordx.org 

SOUTH EAST MAKERS WEEKEND (PART OF THE LONDON DESIGN FESTIVAL) Following on from the success of last year the South East Makers club are presenting a series of events running through Deptford, Brockley, New Cross, Nunhead and Peckham over the weekend of the 23rd & 24th September. Lots of venues will be showcasing the amazing talent of local designers and craftspeople with workshops/talks/exhibitions and screenings. For details see http://bit.ly/2vEtjN8

CATFORD ARTS TRAIL This September also sees the return of the Catford Arts Open Houses which started last year and was such a triumph with so many talented artists/creatives/makers opening their doors to the general public. It takes place over 2 weekends (Sept 23/24 and 30 Sept/1 Oct) covering 100 artists in 50 plus venues-there should also be the addition of a gallery space in Catford – check out their website for details and updates. http://bit.ly/2vrtSOp I will certainly be visiting lots of homes/venues again as it was such fun and the quality of the works was fantastic!

CROFTFEST The major event taking place on our doorstep in September is Croftfest. This will be the 5th year that Crofton Park has ran a festival along the High Street/Ewhurst road and it has proved very successful at bringing together local businesses and other key venues such as St Hilda’s and the library. Details are still being finalised but it will take place on Saturday 30th September from midday to 5pm. I believe Courtrai road (by the church) will be closed with activities, stalls, music, food and drink to entertain all the family. Also the library should be having stalls on the forecourt. The usual activities will take place at many of the local businesses with a wide range of discounts/offers etc. Follow social media covering Croftfest for updates but put the date in the diary as it is a great day of celebration in our wonderful community.

CATFORD GIN FESTIVAL Following on from the huge success of the Catford beer festival in June the same people are collaborating with local experts at the ‘Forest Hill Gin club’ to bring a gin festival to SE6 over 2 days on the 7th and 8th October. This is another exciting Catford development and many top gin distillers have signed up to the event. For the bargain price of £15 you get entry to the festival and three tokens to exchange with distillers for a taste of their gin. More tokens can be purchased for a cost of £3 each. There will also be a gin cocktail bar/gin masterclasses/a gin shop and streetfood. It sounds great fun and I’ve already signed up! For further details and to buy tickets see http://bit.ly/2vdjKJ4

SO LAST CENTURY AND RETRO FAIR This fabulous vintage fair is returning in October to St. Dunstan’s College, Catford after the success of the two events held at this beautiful venue earlier this year in February and May. On Sunday 22nd October from 11am to 4pm there will be over 45 stalls selling homeware/décor & furniture/fashion/jewellery & records with a tea room and street food. I will certainly be popping in again as really enjoyed both occasions. There is a small entry charge of £4 (reduced if follow them on social media)

RIVOLI BALLROOM The stunning ballroom in Crofton Park has been showing classic films over the last year which have proved highly popular. There are 3 new screenings in September and to coincide with Halloween there is a 5 night run of classic horror/thriller films. I went last week to see Moulin Rouge which was the perfect setting for the 2001 classic. I was very impressed with the whole experience-from comfy seats to big screen & good sound. The bar is also open & popcorn/hot dogs & ice-cream is served. This is beside the regular dancing nights ‘Rouges at the Rivoli, Jacky’s Jukebox and Jive party. If you haven’t been to this beautiful venue you are missing a treat and it is on our doorstep! For details of all the events in the next few months see https://www.rivoliballroom.com/events

BROCKLEY JACK THEATRE If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will realise our local fringe theatre is one of my favourite places in the area and I count myself very lucky that it is only 5 minutes walk from my house! The standard and quality of the performances are outstanding and at only £15 for an adult it is a bargain. Air conditioning has recently been installed which is a very welcome addition. If you haven’t yet been you really should and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

The main production during September is a musical ‘State of Things’ which runs from Thursday 7th September to Saturday 23rd September and looks great so I need to get booking my ticket. Following on from that there is a brand new adaption of the classic gothic tale ‘Frankenstein’ which is presented by Arrows & Traps theatre and this runs for nearly 4 weeks until Saturday 21st October. A comedy by acclaimed British playwright John Godber ‘On the Piste’ finishes the Autumn season, taking it into November and looks hilarious. Certainly a wide variety of productions over the next few months to suit all tastes. For details see http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/

LADYWELL PLAYTOWER Hopefully most people will know where the abandoned playtower building is in Ladywell. I used to take my son to the Ladywell gymnastics club there, approx. 15 years ago which I think was the last major user of the building. It has now laid empty for well over a decade and is sadly deteriorating. It is now a Grade ll listed building and Lewisham Council have finally become committed to it back into use and so created a tender package to go out to interested parties earlier this year. There was a huge amount of interest and after putting forward proposals 4 bidders were shortlisted to move forward with. Their detailed proposals are outlined here http://bit.ly/2vny6lS and Lewisham are inviting the general public to submit their comments/views. The major players are Picturehouse, Goldsmiths University, Curzon & Guildmore and RJK/Copeland and Hillman. All have really exciting visions for the building and so I would urge everyone to read the details for each project and complete the questionnaire. The closing date for the public consultation is Sunday 17th September.

CROFTON PARK/BROCKLEY ROAD IMPROVEMENT WORKS Consultation is also taking place on works proposed along the main highway in Crofton Park – these are all supposed to improve the experience/safety for cyclists and pedestrians whilst also looking to enhance the general environment of the area with planting of street trees/better signage etc. You can click on the details here and bring up the drawings to see what changes are proposed. It is really important as many people as possible give feedback to the council as this is our main chance to give both negative and positive comments. Believe me there are lots of changes –some appear small such as moving the bus stops but together could have a cumulative effect on how traffic/people and businesses flow in Crofton Park. The closing date is Thursday 21st September to have your say. Information here http://bit.ly/2xj82dm

There now follows a section on each of the 4 main areas I cover in this blog with business news.

BROCKLEY

Perhaps the most significant business news in Brockley is the opening of Parlez in mid July. This cafe/bar/restaurant had been long anticipated and it has not disappointed! It’s in a prime location – practically spitting distance from the barriers as you leave Brockley station and it has enhanced the existing cafe society of Coulgate Street with the Broca and Browns of Brockley. It is very large inside with a cool décor & mixed seating & tables for both diners & those just wanting a relaxing drink. The food menu is already changing as a new chef has joined & they are beginning to learn what ‘Brockley’ wants! After only 6 weeks on the block I can say that the co-owners Matt & Louis have done a great job and Parlez is a fantastic addition to the already burgeoning food/drink scene in this part of SE4.

In other news WaterintoBeer celebrated its first birthday last weekend with cake/beer & football tickets. Whilst I’m not a frequent shopper as craft beer is not really my thing the friendly owners Tim & Helen have thrown themselves into the community & it’s a great addition to the Westside. Next door Noak is now open 7 days a week, baking their own bread, pastries & cakes that are proving very popular. A fab kids menu has been rolled out and fresh homemade pizza is being served on Fridays/Saturday & Sundays from 12pm.

Brockley Cross is still buzzing with The Brockley Deli on the north side going strong after opening in June 2014 and Bite Me, street Vietnamese food being the latest addition to the area. Award winning Masawala cafe has seen the benefit of their minor refurbishment works this summer to provide outside seating with a very clever window design, opening to double as a long sharing table. They also now serve alcohol and are hosting another charity evening in the autumn.

Along the main parade in Brockley the Indian cafe Saka Maka is proving a very popular addition whilst Villa Toscana is up for sale. This Italian restaurant hasn’t really captured the necessary customers to fill the large space so it could be really interesting as to who buys it and what it becomes! Magi Gifts are developing their backyard area so watch this space! Stalwarts The Orchard and Gantry are still producing excellent quality food and atmosphere so continue to support them. Salthouse Bottles, just off the high street, is celebrating a year on the block next week. Brockley Brewery, on Harcourt Road is continuing to produce delicious beer and being amazing community supporters.

MIDTOWN BROCKLEY

Many people will hate me using this term but I personally think of SE4 split into 3 distinct areas for business purposes– Brockley -Coulgate St, Mantle Road, Brockley Cross and the main Brockley road. Midtown Brockley – from the Esso garage along the parade to the barbers (KR’s traditional) on the corner of Comerford road, and finally Crofton Park -the parade from Ziman’s the dentists to the Brockley Jack pub and then the Ewhurst road shops. There are a few exceptions to this (such as the wonderful Talbot and L’Oculto on Loampit Hill (though JUST SE13)

Anyway, I digress. Midtown Brockley is experiencing quite significant changes! This area of SE4 has been in desperate need of a night time economy as there have been few places to eat/drink. I must add here that the wonderful award winning Brockley’s Rock has been the exception. Eight years on  Kyri and his staff continue to serve excellent fish & chips and in the past month they have proudly had their first delivery of fresh MSC cod from the newly certified North Sea area. They have been shortlisted in the top 6 for the London/SE best fish & chip shop.

Brickfields Bar has been a great addition to this part of Brockley and I can admit to being rather partial to their ‘Chilli Martini’. The upper backroom area is available to hire for 8-20 people for all occasions. However beyond these 2 businesses there is not any other quality business open in the evenings. The new kid on the block since May, Bella Nova, is a good day time addition and the owner is very friendly and keen to be part of the community and says his long term plans are to provide food/drink some evenings.

Sadly Brockley Mess have not really produced sustainable night openings even though since March Spanish Particular have been using the space to provide delicious Spanish food at the weekends. However the big news is that Brockley Mess is up for sale! I personally will miss the fresh quality food at very reasonable prices and the art gallery at the back, always showing really interesting artwork. However it has been rather neglected of late and so this is a great opportunity for someone to come in and inject new energy/life into the business. It is a very large space and certainly I would love it to work as a day AND night time outlet – it really is in a prime location and I believe could do so well. All very exciting – watch this space!

There are also a number of empty units along this parade and if they all became occupied this would be great for the area. The unit where Turners stores (SO missed-the shop that had everything!) used to be is currently being refurbished so it should be revealed soon what it is going to be and I understand that Pistachio’s cafe is also up for sale so in the next few months there could be lots of changes along this strip. Lets hope all for the better and that new businesses open in this part of SE4.

CROFTON PARK

The newest addition to the High street in Crofton Park is Gently Home which opened on Saturday 22nd July. If you haven’t yet visited then pop in as they sell gorgeous gifts/books/cards and homeware and are open 7 days a week. This is the grown up sister shop of the ever popular Gently Elephant, the childrens shop a mile away in Brockley owned by local resident Helen. It is a great addition and I hope will join us in our Croftfest celebrations.

We are very lucky in Crofton Park as most units are occupied with only a couple of small shops empty on the strip running from Krizz Kutz to Jerk Garden and so it is unlikely that we will have many new businesses opening in the next 6 months unless something sadly closes. Actually I lie! I’ve just remembered that the new development of flats being built on the corner of Sevenoaks Road have space for 2/3 shop units on the ground floor. I have heard nothing about what is proposed yet but hopefully it will be something that compliments our existing offerings.

In other news many of the businesses are celebrating birthdays in the coming months. Mr Lawrence’s wine bar will be 25 years on the block in October! I reminisced recently on it first opening and how it was SO EXCITING. There really was nowhere to go to get a decent drink in the area and the place was heaving, every night. It was smoked filled and served very popular sharing baskets of finger food. Lots have changed over the years with perhaps the main one being that they moved next door over 3 years ago and the existing wine bar became the London Beer Dispensary (the bar without a bar) Both are owned by Graham Lawrence and together compliment each other really well to offer craft beer/cider and fine wines and spirits over the 2 businesses with excellent food from the beer bar that can be served in both outlets.

Paraphernalia, the designer and vintage clothes shop are also celebrating two decades on the High Street in September. They sell fabulous clothes at very affordable prices and are great community supporters, always throwing themselves into Croftfest. Together with the great hairdressers, First Glance, opposite they fund a DJ that always produces a buzz that end of town.

Arlo and Moe have been open five years in September and have been a fantastic addition to our area. I can’t remember times when it wasn’t there! They produce delicious, fresh food and I am always delighted with my weekly bowl of homemade soup. Jules and Jamie expanded their unique cafes into Hither Green nearly 2 years and then opened a 3rd cafe in Lee Green a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations and best of luck.

Crofton Books, the bookshop in the library, are going from strength to strength and have a very large collection of second hand, vintage and new books. Pop into the library, grab a cup of coffee from the cafe and check out the all the books in the building, to either borrow or buy!

I love the run of shops/businesses along the parade opposite the station. From Bryan & Keegan at the corner to Fred’s cafe, Chaplin’s the barbers, Jones of Brockley, Puccini Kitchens and then the beautiful Rivoli Ballroom to book end all 6 quality businesses on that stretch.

Finally the wonderful Crofton Park community garden in Marnock Road is really coming to life. Over the last few years so much work has gone into creating this community green space but help is always needed to develop it even further. There are open days on the 16th and 30th September where you are welcome to visit and see the garden but also volunteers can sign up on these days. Pop down and get involved in this great project!

LADYWELL

A few changes have taken place in the village over the last 6 months. Sadly as I think I reported in an earlier blog Zenubian closed at the end of April but I can happily report Michelle has re-located to beautiful larger premises in Hither Green Lane. Go along and visit as she has much more stock and it is very spacious with rooms downstairs for practitioners to use for various therapies/healing sessions etc.

Back in Ladywell the large corner shop has closed down and this really is a blight on the area. Hopefully some-one will take it over very soon. The friendly Le Delice has been shut for the past few weeks for a minor refurbishment and will re-open on the 4th September. I understand the majority of the work is downstairs enlarging the kitchen area and so making it a better working environment. The exterior is definitely being re-painted with new canopies and I think the whole cafe having a paint refresh.

Next door to Le Delice is STILL EMPTY! A year ago it looked like something was finally happening at this long standing unoccupied unit. It has been fitted out as a restaurant and there have been so many rumours on what it was to become. However I understand it is very close to being finalised so watch this space! It really needs to open and I am convinced if it is good quality and reasonably priced food it will do really well. Besides the Ladywell Tavern and the Indian restaurant there is nowhere to sit down and eat in the village in the evenings and the area so badly needs a thriving night time economy.

There are many excellent shops in the village with the Larder, Honeybournes, Geddes and Oscars cafe at the heart with Heckstall & Smith, the butchers, and many of the other shop outlets all contributing  to the village feel of the area. Certainly the tattoo parlour is still going strong!

HONOR OAK

The businesses along the Honor Oak parade have not really undergone major change over the last few months. We have all been waiting for over a year now for the supposed ‘Grounds & Grapes’ to open. Works totally halted but things appear to have been happening recently and when I peer through the cracks of the paper covering the windows it looks lovely and seems to be developed to a high standard. Lets hope for some good news soon! DONDE is still providing tasty tapas whilst doing very well down in Boxpark, by East Croydon station.

Hattush, the busy Mediterranean restaurant celebrated their first birthday in May and Saturday nights are still proving very popular-when you can pop along and hear the Turkish owner Sezar sing. Mamma Dough has finally got a sign outside (Hurrah) and there are some lovely new planters on that corner as you turn into Grierson road, kindly provided by the Crofton Park ward assembly.

It has been revealed that Luca at Two Spoons is a highly accomplished mixologist and has worked in many top London bars. This certainly shows through with the delicious cocktails they serve and his gin knowledge with one of the most extensive collection of gins in the area. Together with Rosie, his business partner they have produced a very friendly local cafe/bar. I understand that in September we are being treated to Peruvian food on Fridays & Saturdays.

Meanwhile to the west of the station going up the Hill there are various happenings. The owners, Southwark council, despite massive local opposition have granted themselves approval to develop the old nursery area as yet more burial space and this will be a loss of meadow area.  Also ancient mature trees were felled on One Tree Hill, again despite major opposition.  Within the recreation ground there appears to be a serial arsonist at work as two of the wooden benches have been torched in the last few months. However there is some good news in this area as the HopCroft neighbourhood forum have dropped plans to show the land by HOP station for possible housing development and so meadow is preserved there.

Businesses along Brockley Rise appear to all be thriving. The excellent award winning Babur restaurant is celebrating 32 years in the area and so for their birthday they are featuring the street food of India-this special menu is continuing until the 17th September. Finally the annual Gabriel street party is taking place on Saturday 2nd September with the usual bouncy castle/DJ and cake competitions plus lots more. The Chandos are this year providing a bar and it looks to be the best one yet. They raise lots of money for local charities and so why not pop along and join in the fun.

SNIPPETS OF NEWS

DJ Doo-Lang is playing 60’s tunes TONIGHT at Little Nan’s Catford/ Little Nan’s are popping up in Forest Hill from October to December-exciting-watch this space/Devonshire road Nature Reserve are having an Open Day Sunday 10th September 11-6pm/Catch ‘Adam & Eve’ for the next 4 nights at the Brockley Jack theatre/Catford Wanderers tennis club welcome new members of all standards-now have floodlights for the winter months/#OntheRise netball team are always looking for new members-play on Wednesdays at Forest Hill/BrocSoc Trees of the Brockley society hosted a fantastic eve at Prendergast school of  a recording for BBC Gardeners Question time last night/Bianca, owner of Benedict’s Coffee married Adrian out in Hungary a few weeks ago-congratulations!/The Honor Oak pub is hosting Bingo bottomless brunches on Saturdays-£25 (alcohol is involved!)/L’Oculto are continuing to serve delicious Spanish tapas and wines from Wed-Saturdays/The fab family owned Shannons garden centre in SE23 have an incredible selection of plants/Art Exhibition by Ikra Arshad 6-10pm at Masala Wala cafe on Monday 18th September/Community planting day Saturday 2nd September 11-1pm at the Place Ladywell-all welcome/Sparrow restaurant in Lewisham getting rave reviews/Model market in Lewisham shutting for the winter at the end of September/Peckham Rye Fete Saturday 2nd September 2-5, includes dog show and punch & Judy/Check out Rivoli meeting room, SE13, for courses on social media, first aid plus more/RUSS –self builders in Ladywell-crowd funding for community space & need more money-check out/SE8 has a few new restaurants over the last few months to add to the already thriving Deptford Market Yard-check out Winemakers and the new Italian Marcella both getting top reviews/The Broca are doing vegan pop ups on Thursday eves/London Beer Dispensary is having a ‘Hot wing’ challenge on Saturday 16th September.

Okay it is time to finish this! I’m at the point I always get to on doing a blog where I’ve really had enough and question why I’m putting myself through this so I really hope there are still a few people reading to the end. As always I know I will have left things out/forgotten things and so I apologise in advance but there really is a limit to my knowledge and blog length! 

As it is the last week of the summer holidays please SUPPORT our wonderful businesses if you are around as many have had very quiet times in August and we really don’t want to lose them! USE/SHOP/EAT/DRINK LOCALLY

Hope to see you around the area over the next few months-remember we are very lucky to live in such a vibrant, diverse and friendly community!

Bye for now

Jane x

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