Monday, April 20, 2015

Reptilian terror in Peckham Rye

A reptilian monster is lurking in the depths of the lake on Peckham Rye, terrorizing passing wildfowl... or not. This terrapin seems to be just chilling out on a wooden island floating on the lake. I wonder how did terrapins become established in the park - were they deliberately introduced or did someone just abandon their pets?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Burn the Sea at Deptford Cinema

Tomorrow night at Deptford Cinema - Amakino present Burn the Sea 'an evening of documentaries about migration and the Meditteranean border'. The Cinema is at 39 Deptford Broadway and the films start at 7:30pm.

Very topical - this image was released by Amnesty this week, who say: 'The ongoing negligence by European governments of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has contributed to a more than 50-fold increase in migrant and refugee deaths since the beginning of 2015 compared with last year... As many as 400 migrants are feared to have died off the coast of Libya in recent days'

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Railman: a 1974 film made at Grove Park Station

A rare showing this Friday at the Mayday Rooms (88 Fleet Street EC4Y 1DH)  of an experimental film made in 1974 at Grove Park Station, Lewisham.This from the organisers:

'RAILMAN: A First Attempt at Collective Film Making - FOUR CORNERS FILMS in 1974

Friday 17th April 2015 7-9pm, MDR Screening Room

In 1976 Four Corners Films (Joanna Davis, Mary Pat Leece, Ron Peck and Wilf Thust) released Railman, a film concerned as much with the distribution of roles within the film collective as with getting "as close as possible to the life and routines" of an NUR station master. Filmed at Grove Park Station, Lewisham, in south east London, and set against the backdrop of state divestment in transport infrastructure, Railman might be regarded as a modest and experimental corrective to more technically accomplished and officially sanctioned British Transport Films: Rush Hour, Wires over the Border and Accident.

In the spirit of MayDay Rooms' commitment to opening out historical material onto the present, Wilf Thust, a founder member of the Four Corners collective, will introduce the film and help shape a discussion on the terms and conditions of collective filmmaking as a mode of political or politicising practice, as a form of group process....

In 1974, four London Film School students - Joanna Davis, Mary Pat Leece, Ron Peck and Wilf Thust - agree to work together as part of a course requirement to hand in a film script. They begin by interviewing the PR rep of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR) and then meet with the course director of the London Film School, Ralph Bond, who in turn secures an interview with Ray Buckton, the general secretary of the rail drivers' trade union ASLEF. This preparatory work predictably draws the filmmakers into the labyrinth of British Rail bureaucracy, culminating in a failed negotiation to obtain permission to film on BR property on the grounds that an "irresponsible film" or any form of misrepresentation might damage the company's recruitment drive. This exchange is scripted and then re-staged as the opening sequence of the film. From that point on, the filmmakers move into a more clandestine mode and having identified a location, Grove Park Station in Lewisham, decide to circumvent management and contact workers directly.

As with much Four Corners' work from this period, the 'subject' speaks and Railman is filmed almost entirely in the station master's place of work, the platform office. In this setting, albeit only for a brief moment, the relationship between the film collective and station master permits the unarticulated a voicing and the unrepresented a hearing'.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival 2015

Some great events coming up in this year's New Cross and Deptford Free Film Festival, here's a quick summary from the organisers, for full details check out their website.

New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival 2015.
Fri 24 April - Sun 3 May

'The fourth annual New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival is shaping up to be a cinematic extravaganza. This year there really is something for everyone - from Youtube Cats to radical politics (there’s an election on!).

The festival launches with Friday Night Fever, a screening of Saturday Night Fever followed by a 70s disco. Strut your stuff at Number3, the new warehouse space on Creekside. 
The festival closes with a very special guest. Legendary DJ, musician and filmmaker Don Letts will be talking about his documentary film The Clash: Westway To The World followed by a DJ set at the Job Centre in Deptford.

Other highlights include:

Tuesday 28 April: Westmonster / Spirit Level - Two politically charged films with Q & A and discussion at New Cross Learning

Wednesday 29 April: Carrie – the original teen horror at Deptford Lounge

Thursday 30 May: Global Shorts - 16 films from 16 countries at Deptford Lounge

Friday 1 May: Old Kent Road -Everybody’s heard of the Champs-Élysées. The Old Kent Road’s the same. It must be one of the best known names in Europe.” - at The Hill Station Cafe

Saturday 2 May: Wizard of Oz - Follow the yellow brick road to this bike powered, open air event in Telegraph Hill upper Park

Throughout the festival Sanford Housing Co-op are presenting Ways Out: Unfolding the topography of the possible. Six films investigating alternatives to generic Capitalism. Join filmmakers, activists and guest-panellists for discussions'

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

US Chicken Chain set to Open in Greenwich

A leading US chicken chain is set to open its first UK restaurant in SE London. In a further sign of  the attractiveness of the area to cash-rich international investors, Albuquerque-based 'Los Pollos Hermanos' expects to open for business in Greenwich within the next few weeks.

In a joint statement with the company released yesterday, Greenwich Council welcomed the news, saying: 'The Royal Borough has been a centre of global trade for hundreds of years. From the tea brought back to England on the Cutty Sark to the modern consumer products so expertly marketed by Los Pollos, we have always welcomed the best that the world has to offer'. Speaking for the company, Mr Gustavo Fring said: 'Our motto at Los Pollos is "The finest ingredients are brought together with love and care, then slow cooked to perfection". We can't wait to get cooking in Greenwich'. Customers who bring a copy of the Council newspaper 'Greenwich Time' to the restaurant will be eligible for a free sample of the Los Pollos' specially-tailored new range - the Greenwich Meridian Line.

Mr Gustavo Fring
Notes for editors:

- Los Pollos Hermanos has 14 restaurants in the South Western United States between Albuquerque (New Mexico) and Nevada. In Greenwich it is planning to operate from the premises on Church Street recently vacated by Desparadoes, for further details see here.

- the Cutty Sark played an important role in international trade between India, China and Britain: 'clippers, such as the beautifully dry-docked Cutty Sark in Greenwich, often did double duty: serving as tea
clippers between Guangzhou (Canton) and London, and opium clippers between Calcutta and Guangzhou. By 1840 the British were shipping 40,000 opium chests to China each year' (source).

yes, this was an April Fool's joke - Los Pollos is the chicken chain that is a front for a drugs empire in the series Breaking Bad. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

'Violence in Brixton follows poll tax protest' (March 1990)

Twenty five years ago today, on 31 March 1990, one of the largest demonstrations of the 20th century set off from Kennington Park to protest against the Conservative government's planned new poll tax (officially known as the 'community charge'). The demonstration ended up in Trafalgar Square and was followed by rioting throughout the West End. By the end of the year, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been ditched by her own party, worried at its seeping popularity.

A few weeks before the March 31st demonstration there had been lively protests at Town Halls throughout the country where Councils were setting their local poll tax rates. One of the biggest was outside Lambeth town hall in Brixton on Friday 9 March 1990.  I was on the demonstration, I remember people heading from the Town Hall, down Coldharbour Lane and along Electric Lane (which then ran down the back of Woolworths) in an attempt to get around the police. I stopped off for a drink in the Railway Tavern, others went on to Stockwell Road which I think is where a police car got turned over (pictured below).

Pat G.S. commented at a previous post here: 'After the gathering at the town hall... everyone turned and walked down Brixton Road, through the traffic. It was a happy, positive, almost celebratory event. No trouble, or even any sense that there would be trouble ... until the walkers were directed down Stockwell Road, round the back of the Academy - and straight into a wall of riot police. Immediately, all hell let loose - I had no idea that people could actually just pull up paving stones with their bare hands.  My boyfriend (now husband) and I legged it away from the trouble and towards home back up Brixton Road, which had now been closed to traffic by the police. Unbelievable how quickly they'd done that. And then, while we were walking as quickly as possible up the road, we heard this deafening - terrifying - sound behind us and, looking back, saw a line of police on horses who were stamping their hooves on the ground to make as much noise as possible. Oh yes, we felt threatened. That was a heavy day - and an exhilarating one, too. And Maggie didn't get her way'.

photo © Adrian Lord on flickr

Here's a newspaper report from the next day:

'Violence in Brixton follows poll tax protest (Independent, Saturday 10 March 1990)

Violence erupted in Brixton, south London, last night after a peaceful and good-humoured mass demonstration against the poll tax outside a Lambeth borough council budget meeting.

As the meeting began to break up, paint bombs and bottles were thrown towards speakers and police guarding the town hall. A festive atmosphere, with a band playing Caribbean music and protestors dancing and singing anti-poll tax songs, quickly evaporated.

Organisers made appeals to the 2,000 people to leave quietly, but hundreds tried to get to the centre of Brixton, and the police callled in reinforcements and repeatedly charged to clear the scene amid a hail of missiles. Two police were taken to hospital, a Panda car with a WPC inside was overturned, and six of the crowd arrested, as the skirmishing continued for half an hour or so'

'protestors in the south London borough of Lambeth hang an effigy of Margaret Thatcher from a bus shelter,
 before burning it and celebrating over the ashes'
(click to enlarge)

See also:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Music Monday: Live at the Montague Arms

When the Montague Arms  (289 Queens Road SE15) closed in late 2011, many people feared it was gone for good.  Stan and Bet, who had been working there for many years, had passed away, and the famous contents of the pub had been put up for sale  Today though the pub is going strong having been 'resteamed, rebooted, repunked' as it says outside -  it remains a good music venue with a different but equally idiosyncratic style.

Meanwhile the memories of its previous incarnation live on, not least in a series of remarkable albums put out in the 1970s. Thanks to my friend David W. who has found copies of them in various SE London charity shops.

Live at the Montague (1971)

A sleevenote on the back of this first album by Peter Latham, BBC presenter, says 'New Cross may not be within the sound of Bow Bells, but you can certainly find more than a touch of Cockney in its pubs. The Montague Arms, featured on this record, is not only in New Cross, its also vibrantly alive... the 'Mont' has the secret of making you forget the drab day's grind, the dismal weather and the disastrous news'.

The sleevenotes also instoduce the two musicians who were in effect the house band at the pub.  Peter Hoyle, the Mony's landlord and drummer, is described as looking 'like a wilder edition of Peter Ustinov and plays the drum like a demon'. Peter London on organ and piano and vocals is said to be 'blind and works with music in Braille', his musical career including recording with his wife Marilyn as 'Man and Wife' (including the single Who Shot the Piper Man?), and being Musical DIrector for the BBC TV series STRAMASH featuring Lulu

On this and the next three albums the two Petes are also joined by comedian/compere/singer Jimmy Jones.

Live at the Montague Arms - Volume Two (1972)

More great cover versions, with Peter London now adding a moog to his keyboards. Songs include The Beatles 'A Day in the Life' and Gilbert O'Sullivan's Alone Again Naturally.

The crowd photo on the back is great, very evocative of early 1970s pub life:

Live at the Montague Arms - Volume Three (1972)

I haven't got the sleeve of Volume Three, only the vinyl (anyone help me?).  Another diverse offering - Eleanor Rigby rubs up against Elgar's Nimrod and Jimmy Jones' comedy routines. Note that the recording engineers are listed as John Hassell Recordings. The Barnes-based Hassell assisted many people to self-release records and is now justly celebrated for his role in pressing dub-plates for the UK reggae scene.

Live at the Montague Arms - Volume Four (1973)

The semi-psychedelic cover art stands out on this one.

Recording engineer this time is Bob Auger, who worked as sound engineer with The Kinks, The Animals and many more.

The two Petes pretty much invented the look for the guys from Abba didn't they?:

Once again the crowd picture is a 70s fashion classic:

This album also has a gatefold sleeve, with the inside promoting the King and Queen, Kimmeridge Road, SE9 - described as the 'The Biggest Live Strip Comedy Scene in London' (the Montague Arms also featured strippers at this time). I think this pub/disco in Mottingham was run by the same people.

Live at the New Montague Arms (1977)

Note the address is given on the back as Queens Road, Peckham on the back - the confusion about whether the pub is in Peckham or in New Cross continues to this day. I guess as it's on the border it can be said to be either.

The picture in the top left of the cover shows, I believe, Bromley's Christopher Greener (1973-2015) - at the time Britain's tallest man - standing next to the pub's Stan Pownall.

The duo continued to perform in the Montague Arms, as the Two Petes, into the 21st century. I saw them many times on Sunday lunchtimes - who can forget their version of Wonderwall!

Are there any more albums?!

Here again is their version of MacArthur Park/Popcorn, which I put together with some pictures of the pub (see also their version of America):

Peter London

Before his Montague Arms days Peter London released the single 'Bless You' on Pye records in 1965, produced by the legendary Joe Meek

Who shot the Piper man? by Man and Wife (Peter London and  his wife) was released on CBS in 1970

Update (2 April 2015): Jimmy Jones's account

In his autobiography, 'Now this is a very true story' (2011), the comedian Jimmy Jones mentions working with Peter Hoyle (pub owner) and his brother-in-law Stan (the bar manager) to get the Montague Arms going as a venue, and describes how the records came about:

'We would have strippers on Monday and Wednesday nights, and Sunday nights we'd put on drag acts... Peter Hoyle noticed that there were more and more punters coming in just for my comedy routines. And he had a very bright idea. 'Wouldn't it be nice', he siad, 'if we had something to sell all these lorry drivers who are spreading the word about you'... No stand-up comedian had ever released a vinyl long-player of adult material before. So we recorded 'Live at the Montague Arms' relased on the Montague Arms label. It was very popular, we sold thousands of copies of them in the pub. Bill Wyman certainly bought a copy. We finished recording five stand-up LPs from the Montague Arms. '

Jones mentions that all of the Rolling Stones with the exception of Mick Jagger came down to see him at the Mont, as did other other comedians including Mike Reid, Roy 'Chubby' Brown and one Cameron Davidson from Blackheath - soon to launch a successful career not uninfluenced by Jones' 'adult' comedy routines as Jim Davidson (he also performed at the Montague Arms).

By Jones' account he fell out with Hoyle after he started getting success and offered gigs elsewhere. A dispute about royalties from the records led to a court case, with Jones claiming that 'No one was buying those records to listen to the drums and keyboards'. As is often the way it became 'a very nasty and expensive court case which - to be honest with you - neither of us won'.

Jones also says that when Hoyle 'opened a second pub, the King & Queen at Mottingham' he [Jones] opened it for him with my dear friend Dave Lee Travis, the DJ, and an act who became very close mates of mine, a dwarf cabaret act known as the Mini Tones - Kenny Baker and Jack Purvis who went on to be in Star Wars as R2D2 and a Jawa'.

Update (8 April 2015)

Just came across this article from The Independent (29 June 2008): The Entertainers: 'The Two Petes' are the house band at The Montague Arms. Peter Hoyle says: ''I've been the proprietor for 40 years. My brother-in-law and sister run it now. It's changed a lot over the years. In 1978 we refurbished and now there are moose heads on the walls, a zebra head, skeletons, a penny farthing". Peter London is quoted: 'We go for stuff people know: the Stones, Beatles, some Ray Charles. We've also dabbled with Oasis, a bit of Ronan Keating. You’ve got to give people what they want. One song that has always gone down well is "Whiter Shade of Pale"... You can't buy atmosphere. In modern pubs, you don't feel welcome. Customers here know they're going to get called "love" when they come in. It's just like home.'

The Two Petes in 2008

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Goldsmiths Occupation

Goldsmiths students are occupying the college's Deptford Town Hall building in New Cross Road, part of a wave of occupations that has also seen similar protests at Central St Martins (University of the Arts London) and the LSE, among others.

The full list of demands is as follows:

Goldsmiths occupation demands

Counselling services:
-          Recruit more counsellors to meet demand.
-          We want to see a tangible reduction in the waiting list for the service
-          Resist the planned restructure
-          Secure jobs within the service, and stop any redundancy

-          Resist any cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance
-          Demand more investment in making the university accessible to students with disabilities
-          Bring all services in-house and put an end to all outsourcing

Sustaining Goldsmiths:
-          Establish an all union (UCU, Unison, Unite, GSU) committee to oversee the implementation of the sustaining goldsmiths plan.
-          Resist any increase in student numbers without matching it with an increase in resources.
-          Freeze Senior Management pay for five years and reduce their pay before anyone elses is.
Lack of space
-          Move the Senior Management Team to Warmington Tower to free up their spacious offices for teaching space. 

-          Curriculum should be organised by students alongside academics, and not from the top-down. Open forums should be held to consider what the students want to learn
-          Transparency in the department- including better communication with students
-          The DSC system is a broken mechanism for communicating between students. The DSCs are overloaded with work, not respected by management and this leads to students to feeling alienated and disempowered from their departments 

Wider Aims:
-          A commitment to working towards a Free University of London
-          Full financial transparency
-          A radical reduction in the pay disparity of University staff, at the maximum of 6:1
-          Cut ties with unethical companies in regards to funding including those complicit in fossil fuel 
-          Liberation: zero tolerance policies on all forms of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. One way we think this can be achieved is for annual funding to be provided for a full-time Women’s Officer who would be tasked with campaigning on Women and Liberation issues
-          Police not welcome on campus
-          Free Education
-          Fight marketisation and privatisation of higher education
-          Workers’ rights for everyone who works at Goldsmiths
-          All on-campus staff including security to be brought in house, receive a living wage as minimum and solidified union recognition.
-          Solidarity with LSE, UAL, University of Amsterdam  and King’s College London who are all in occupation

There's lots of talks and other events happening, check their twitter account for further details

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Creating Commons in New Cross

As reported here before, The Field opened last year in Queens Road, New Cross, as an 'experiment in collective local research, education and action' based around doing up a semi-derelict building.

Now the plans for its large garden are taking shape, and people are being invited to contribute to a 'a project to collectively design, fund, build and maintain a new common resource – a public garden in New Cross with facilities to support local self-organised activities, events and projects. This isn't just a community garden! This is an experiment in the act of collectively creating new common space, in negotiating its use, how its run and maintained so it can to meet the diverse needs and interests of everyone who uses it.

After a year of research: consultations, surveys, design workshops and public meetings, we have developed a picture of how the garden of 385 Queens Road can be best put to use. We found, from those conversations, that people in the area want:

- A place for different people in the neighbourhood to come together and meet each other.
- A public place we feel a sense of ownership over.
- A productive garden, where skills relating to food growing, health, environment, resilience and self-sufficiency can be learned and shared.
- A place with the resources to facilitate diverse public events, activities and projects.
- A relaxing outdoor space away from the main road running through New Cross'

Plans include buiding a workshop, glasshouse, outdoor kitchen and covered social area, as well as growing spaces.

For further information and/or to pledge a contribution see:

Monday, March 09, 2015

Music Monday:Jude Woodhead

Forest Hill based Jude Woodhead has a new EP out (available here on bandcamp and on soundcloud). 'Deep Transport' includes five of Jude's own tracks plus a remix of a King Krule track. 17-year-old Jude, who plays keyboards and trumpet as well as producing, is also one of the contributors to the new photography/art/music blog Essy (SE, gettit?). There's a bit of a Burial influence on some tracks, but the soundscape is more diverse than that might suggest. 'Ambient', 'Electronic', 'Hip Hop' are some of the tags that Jude uses to describe his music, I would add 'Cinematic', with samples including a speech from US radical black activist Angela Davis.

Jude's previous EP, last year's Nights in the City, included a couple of SE-referencing tracks - 'New Cross, LEWI' and 'Night Bus. N171'. Another track on that EP, Finger to the Moon, has recently been used as the basis for a track by 'influential in Brockley' grime artist Koder. The track Hand of Gold, which also includes singing from Pia Morris, has been getting played on BBC1Xtra and is included on Koder's new Naked EP. The start of this collaboration was when Koder introduced himself to Jude when the latter was playing the piano outside Forest Hill station!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Rebel Girl - A Kathleen Hanna Disco

The Canterbury Arms in Brixton remains open despite planning permission having been granted to demolish it and replace it with flats. Ian from legendary indie-pop night How Does it Feel? is putting on a series of one-off club nights there until the bulldozers steam in. The next one is tomorrow night (Friday 6th March) and it sounds like a good one: 'Rebel Girl - A Kathleen Hanna Disco':

'That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood

- I got news for you, she is!

'Inspired by the incredible documentary, "The Punk Singer", we'll be playing lots and lots of songs by Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin, plus associated bands, and our usual mixture of indiepop and northern soul. Our guest DJs for the night are Sandy and Karren of Stolen Wine Social. Hurrah! As always, there's a guest list competition. To stand a chance of getting in for free, simply complete this phrase: "I love Kathleen Hanna because..." Best ten win! 

We will play: Bikini Kill * Le Tigre * The Julie Ruin * Sleater-Kinney * X Ray Spex * The Slits * Delta 5 * The Raincoats * Trash Kit * Huggy Bear * Sonic Youth * The Runaways * The Go-Gos * The Shangri Las * The Smiths * The Supremes * Belle & Sebastian * Camera Obscura * Orange Juice * The Ronettes * Allo Darlin' * Dusty Springfield * and loads more'.

Details: Canterbury Arms, Canterbury Crescent, Brixton SW9,  9pm-2.30am. £6 non-members. £4 members, £6 advance ticket. Membership is free from Advance tickets -

I love Kathleen Hanna because... she once crashed at my friend Katy Watson's squat in Brixton (no. 2 Saltoun Road - Katy had interviewed her for feminist paper Bad Attitude). Also because she made a couple of my favourite tracks of all time (Deceptacon and Rebel Girl).

Monday, March 02, 2015

Cat Video Film Festival

A Cat Video Film Fesitval on the Big Red Pizzeria, Deptford, on 25 April 2005. Book free tickets here. That is all. 

Yes I know, what has happened to Transpontine? More cats and old photos than radical critique and breaking news! Other activities and projects currently exhausting energy but stay tuned... for more cats and old photos.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Cross Road c.1970

A remarkable picture of New Cross Road in around 1970 by Tony Sullivan.  Much of it hasn't changed, but note on the right on the corner of St James the building with 'A sign is a fine investment'. That is the Pearce Signs factory (featured here before with some photos of the inside of the factory).  Loring House -Goldsmiths student accommodation- now stands on that site.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Music Monday: RIP Paco (Conflict and Inner Terrestials drummer)

Punk drummer Francisco 'Paco' Carreno died last week, at the age of 49. Paco was a key figure in the 1980s anarcho-punk scene as drummer with Conflict, and later in the New Cross music scene.

Picture of Paco from Conflict facebook page
Conflict hailed from Eltham, specifically the Coldharbour Estate. Paco started drumming at the age of 12 with a band called Strontium Dog, and was still only 15 when he joined Conflict in 1981, playing his first gig with them at the Red Lion in Gravesend and shortly after going into Crass's Southern Studios to record the band's first 'House that Man Built' EP (see 'The Day the Country Died' by Ian Glasper).

I saw Conflict many times at their mid-1980s peak, including gigs at the Ambulance Station (Old Kent Road), Thames Poly in Woolwich and the Clarendon Ballroom in Hammersmith. After Crass split up they were the biggest band in the anarcho-punk scene - not many other bands were able to translate the sense of urgency/righteous anger in that scene into a convincingly urgent/angry sound. A key part of that was Paco's skilled and powerful drumming. Of course much of this righteous anger was in the service of animal liberation and hunt sabbing, even though Paco himself wasn't vegetarian!

In the 1990s, Paco was very involved with the Goldsmiths Tavern in New Cross (now the New Cross House) in its wild GMT Lager Daleks phase. He helped put on numerous gigs there, and Inner Terrestials (who Paco joined as drummer in 1996), recorded their 'Escape from New Cross' album in the pub.

Colin Jerwood from Conflict is planning to put on a memorial/benefit gig for Paco's family. Get in touch with him via Conflict on facebook.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Selecta/Decca Depot in Lewisham - 1974

Following on from the recent post about lost Lewisham record shops, here's another local music industry connection. From the US Billboard magazine (26 October 1974), news of a new depot opening at Lewisham for Selecta, the distribution arm of Decca records. Seemingly the depot had recently moved from Southwark. Selecta's address was 125-127 Lee High Road SE13.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Poseurs record shop in Lewisham: 'spinners equivalent of Mecca' (1980s)

The British Record Shop Archive, who put on an excellent exhibition recently about the history of Peckham record shops, mentions a few Lewisham shops on its website:

- Chequers, Lee High Road - 1970s/80s.

- Nicholls Hi Fi, 432-434 Lee High Road, SE12 -1960s?

- Muzik City and Raw Power (1980s) - both in Lewisham model market, reggae singer Winston Groovy worked at the former.

- Diamond Records (1960s) - 199 Rushey Green - it had booths in to listen to the records.

One not mentioned there is Poseurs:

'Desparate disc jockeys have been converging on a shocking pink building in Lewisham... they've discovered the record spinners' equivalent of Mecca - a shop dealing solely in 12 inch dance singles dating back to 1970. Tiffany Lee, a former pirate radio DJ, set up Poseurs three months ago' (South London Press, 17 August 1984).

Anyone remember any more about it, or other local record shops?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The transpontine people in Exile (1846)

Here's some more 19th century uses of the word 'transpontine' in a South London context. Interestingly two of them feature Westminster Bridge. If the word literally means something like 'over the bridge', we should remember that Westminster Bridge was the only the third bridge to be built over the Thames in London, after London Bridge and Putney Bridge. The original Westminster Bridge, built in the 18th century, was in poor condition by the time of these articles and in fact a new bridge was built in 1862.

At the time of the first article in 1846 the Bridge was evidently closed leading Punch magazine to joke about 'the transpontine people' on the southern shore descending into 'barbarism'

'The Exiles of Lambeth

Lambeth has become a sort of Siberia since the stopping up of Westminster Bridge, for there is now literally no communication between the inhabitants of the northern shore and the transpontine people. All means of social intercourse are completely cut off, and Astley’s Amphitheatre might as well be on Salisbury Plain, as far as there is any possibility of getting to it from any part of Westminster. We have heard of vessels wrecked in sight of port, but here is a place of amusement remaining comparatively empty, with crowds walking within a stone’s throw and unable to get to it.

Lambeth is in a state of utter desolation, and the principal street reminds one of a strada in Pompeii. A civil war might break out and all be over before any one on this side of the Thames could know anything about it. The people are becoming quite isolated from the rest of their fellow subjects, and the interests of civilisation are severely suffering. Already Lambeth is a week behind us in the polite arts, and every day that the blockade continues will send them backward four-and-twenty hours towards the barbarism which it has taken centuries to get out of. We should not be at all surprised at hearing through some circuitous channel that provisional government has been established in the New-cut, and that the whole of the Marsh has thrown off its allegiance. During the stoppage of Westminster Bridge the Lambethites are aliens in geography, not in blood, and we can scarcely expect submission when protection is not afforded (Punch, reprinted in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle - 6 September 1846)

Chartists on the bridge

The second example is from a report of the great Chartist demonstration of April 1848:

'It would be perhaps difficult to define the precise nature of the political opinions of the Jack Cades and Wat Tylers who swarmed about Trafalgar-square, Parliament-street, and Westminster Bridge, as the expression of their opinions was confined to most discordant yells and sarcastic shouts whenever a band of special constables appeared. And, as these motley groups were marshalled, they presented a somewhat quaint appearance, from the odd jumble of aristocrats and mechanics, making a sort of "Constable's Miscellany." But they, as well as the more practised policeman, did their duty manfully, and promptly silenced the lively vociferations of the rebellious rabble. Soon after one o'clock there was a slight collision, but the multitude at once discovered that they were not to be the master, and the Plebs made a retreat more precipitate than Parthian. The softer sex seemed to predominate, and it really was a marvel where all these women could have come from. They halloed and shouted and jumped about, running to and fro with the most surprising activity; and these chaste Chartists were the most resolute foes with whom the police had to deal.

Lord Frank Gordon, with Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, and some listless Life Guardsmen, were leaning out of a window, but their uniform did not appear to excite what Horace calls the pus of the people half so much as the sight of the more sombre trappings of the police. The decrepid piles of poor old Westminster Bridge could hardly bear at one time the crowds who thronged over its crazy arches. We expected here to have found it rivalling the glories of the Pont d'Arcole; but it more resembled the Pons Asinorum, and was cleared in a most summary manner by the indefatigable heroes of Scotland-yard, who allowed none but respectable and peaceably-disposed persons to pass over; and thus the transpontine passengers soon became as select a field as after a sharp burst with the Quorn or Pytchley'  (Morning Post - Tuesday 11 April 1848)

Some other examples...

'a musical mania seems to have taken possession of the transpontine population'
(Sunday 24 August 1851,  Reynolds's Newspaper)

'The piece is wholly destitute of literary merit, and the acting is of that school which excites the enthusiasm of our transpontine public'
(Tuesday 4 November 1851,  Morning Post)

'The whole action and tone were, in the highest degree, melodramatic, and would have drawn immense applause from a transpontine pit and gallery'
(Friday 21 March 1856 , Elgin Courant and Morayshire Advertiser)

'They came in groups across Westminster-bridge, from the transpontine districts of Southwark and Lambeth” (20 April 1855,  Morning Chronicle  - describing crowds during French Emperor's visit)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An anti-Jewish/pro-Nazi doctor from New Cross: 1943

On Holocaust Memorial Day 2015, the presence of elderly survivors at events at the Imperial War Museum and elsewhere is a reminder that the terrible time of the Shoah is still within living memory for some. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, others would like us to forget it, or to relativise away the systematic mass murder of millions by reducing it to the status of just another atrocity amongst many.

Holocaust Memorial Day at Imperial War Museum SE1 today
(photo by Barbara Miller on twitter )
Meanwhile anti-semitism certainly hasn't gone away. Only two weeks ago, four people were killed in an attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris, and this week the neo-nazi Golden Dawn won more seats in the Greek general election. At the 'softer' end, old anti-Jewish conspiracy theories get recycled all over the place and tolerated on the left as well as the right. Last summer in Lewisham, a supposed radical community activist took to twitter to denounce the 'Jewish Lobby' that 'controls [the] media' and 'UK government'. Was he disowned by his political party? Nope.

The role of Britain, along with Russia, USA and other allies, in helping to defeat the Nazi regime in the Second World War shouldn't obscure the fact that there has been a strong current of anti-semitism in Britain for the best part of a thousand years (witness the infamous pogrom in York in the 12th century).

I recently came across a story from the Second World War of a doctor from New Cross being court martialled for pro-Nazi outbursts:

 Yorkshire Evening Post - Friday 02 April 1943

'Captain William John Mitchell, R.A.M.C. (29), formerly in practice as a doctor in the New Cross area, London, appeared at a court martial at Broadstairs, Kent, to-day, on three charges alleging conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline. It was alleged that in a public house the man said. "I give you a toast. We will drink to the health of Sir Oswald Mosley." When the licensee's wife declined, it was alleged he said, "Why not? He's a wonderful man. If you have cancer, a doctor would cut it out. That is what the Germans are doing to the Jews in Germany. Germany is a most cultured nation." 

The second charge alleged that in another public house, accused said, "Hitler is doing the right thing having the Jews put out of the way. Churchill is hand in glove with the Jews, and not fit to be Prime Minister. Mosley is the man for that job." 

In court, Mitchell said, "I am convinced I am the victim of Jewish persecution. No punishment in the world can erase those views from my mind".

Mitchell also claimed that the Beveridge health proposals - that became the National Health Service - were a Jewish plot: "I know in this country the Jews are trying to get control of the medical profession. The system outlined in the Beveridge Report is merely a system to make the medical profession this country safe for Jewry."

The court martial dismissed Mitchell from the service (Hartlepool Mail - Friday 07 May 1943) and I am not sure what became of him,  other than a press report I found from 1949 of Dr. William John Mitchell of Queens Road, New Cross being charged with a motoring offence (Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 09 September 1949).

Intriguingly another New Cross doctor of a similar name stood for election for the National Front in 1979, as discussed at Transpontine previously: 'Dr Robert Mitchell, who has a surgery in Queens Road, said yesterday he would advise his patients against mixed marriages only if asked for advice. He also believed in repatriating black people. Dr Mitchell polled 1,490 votes when he stood as National Front's Parliamentary candidate in Deptford last year'. Lewisham Labour Councillor David Townsend said 'We must take an urgent look at how a doctor with such appalling views can be allowed to practice in such a racially sensitive area as New Cross' (South London Press 22 April 1980).  Captain Mitchell referred to above would have been 65 years old by 1979, so could have still been around. He has a different first name, but could these two Mitchell nazi doctors from Queens Road be related?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Isle of Sheppey talk at Goldsmiths

I know there's a few Isle of Sheppey enthusiasts out there, so thought I would share this poster I spotted at Goldsmiths in New Cross for a talk by Professor Len Platt on 'The Isle of Sheppey: culture, identity and the representation of place'.

The free event on Tuesday 10th February, 4:30 to 6:00pm will feature Len Platt reading from his new work 'drawing on literary, historical and sociological cultures' with a focus on 'the cultural representation of the Isle of Sheppey from the late sixteenth-century to the present'. It takes place on the top floor of the Education Building, which is just up from the library on Dixon Road SE14. Members of the public are welcome - contact

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hobgoblin to re-open as Rose Inn

The Hobgoblin pub opposite New Cross Gate station has been closed for refurbishment, and it looks like it will be reverting back to its former name of The Rose Inn. I believe the pub owners had to pay an annual fee to the owners of the Hobgoblin brand, Marston's, for the use of the name - and let's face it the Hobgoblin name is a bit 1990s isn't it?

Update 26 January 2015:

The Rose Pub & Kitchen (to give it its full name) opens on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 6 pm, complete with 'pizza from the wood burning oven'. They're also advertising for kitchen porters. It's under the new management of Urban Pubs and Bars, a company set up in 2013 by the founders of Realpubs, Malcolm Heap and Nick Pring.  They also run the Whippet Inn in Kensal Rise and the Old Ship Inn in Hackney.