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Lewisham borough a vibrant place to live - it's official
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Posts: 388
Joined: May 2004
Post: #21
20-04-2008 01:14 PM

Well fascinating discussion, but this was intended to be promoting something good about the area, or at least some discussion about this (look back to the beginning about how good the community cohesion is in Lewisham). My starter for ten if I was being provocative would be to say all these hippy sociologists would say that but don't have to live here. Actually to put my cards on the table I think this is a good thing, particularly at the kids' level, and would rather live in a multi-cultural society with all the benefits that this brings (not withstanding the down sides). Perhaps I have tilted this thread back in the right direction.

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Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2008
Post: #22
21-04-2008 02:04 PM

Just trying to envisage Lewisham as a vibrant place...................

Nope, especially as my Dad who lived on an estate just off Brockley Park, lived down past an alley affectionately named "s**t Alley" by the locals due to the amount of dog and other excrement and dumped furniture et al. (no matter how much it was cleared up it arrived promptly again the next day).

Lived in Lewisham all my younger life and family still do. ~(Brockley,Forest Hill, Sydenham, Bellingham).

We were moved to Sydenham from Brockley from an overcrowded house in 1971 to a larger house in Kent House Road by the then younger John Gummer. It was supposed to be temporary housing - hence the lack of flooring, heating,etc. Parents were eventually moved out in 1982 as the council decided the house was falling down.

Strangely enough the house was gutted and turned into flats, even the unused cellars were turned into a flat. Sydenham (in the borough of Lewisham) was never vibrant in the 70's and definitely isn't now like the rest of the borough.

Another retail area isn't needed in Bell Green it's housing that's needed, and community and cultural centres. Charity shops have their use yes as well as Estate Agents but get smaller shops back like they used to be.

I've seen so many old shops, especially in Brockley and environs disppear over the years it's criminal.

Change parking restrictions, get rid of red routes, bring back a cinema - anywhere - do something about the bottleneck under catford bridge i.e. a flyover?. Gut Tescos in Catford and start again. Demolish the flats above and start again making it less of a no go area.

I remember when it was a night out to go out to the pictures at Sydenham, Forest Hill or Catford. There was a sense of belonging to where you lived. Not just passing through, or crawling through...having enough time to point out which places have closed down or disappeared.

Instead of selling up Police Stations (Will Kneller Rd be next?) keep the building - as they are sturdily built - and either turn them into some sort of community centre or hall. People have got used to where the buildings and are already a part of their identity. We lived just off the Police Station in Brockley and if you saw a policeman you knew you should show respect and that you could always ask them for help if you were in trouble, and they knew where you lived as you grew up seeing the same faces. The building would then be a focus for people.

I know the poor old small shopkeeper can't keep up with competition from the bigger lot but if we all had a "local" again we would use it -

You used to be able to park in Catford along by the shops, there was an M&S, Woolworth etc. Now all it has become is a polluted route for emergency services and a big bus lane.

You used to also be able to park in Lewisham before it all changed to being one way, before the shopping centre was built, and remember the throngs of people shopping in the market - which was our regular shopping area, and we would walk or bus from Brockley. We had a Matthews Butchers in Brockley Rd, Wavy Line, Greengrocers, bakers, post office etc so didn't need to get too much from elsewhere.

As children we would all walk from Brockley to the "Saturday Morning Pictures" at the cinema - now non-existent - in Lewisham. There were no cars taking children there, hence less traffic and safer for children then, there was a snake line of children all the way back down to where the entrance to the shopping centre is opposite the old Cheismans.

It wasn't ever "vibrant" and there was probably as much poverty then, especially in our case, as there still is today - you only have to take time to look to notice.

I know Lewisham itself suffered badly due to bombing (look on Pathe News website there is a lot of old footage) and it was quite an up and coming area to live in in Victorian and Edwardian times so has seen a lot of change.

I can't remember what was there before the new baths were opened in Lewisham, but remember the opening day - it was all going to be new and vibrant then apparently. But it wasn't. It needs an injection of interest from the people who live there - but like everywhere else it's apathy and "I won't bother as no-one will take any notice anyway".

ahhhhh memories.

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Posts: 235
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #23
23-04-2008 11:28 PM

great post, blueyes, I hope we hear more from you.

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Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2008
Post: #24
24-04-2008 10:17 AM

Im more of a lurker than a poster! Thanks anyway I thought I'd be shot down for my views.

I care passionately about my "roots" and although I'm not in the borough anymore I feel sad to see how things have changed. There is hope though. I'm in the borough of Croydon after moving to Essex many moons ago and to say I was surprised to see how Croydon has changed is an understatement.

All these places are so heartless. All there is is shops, shops blooming shops as the main hub - there are the tiny specks of community spirit going on but you have to find them. There is the clocktower museum and library .............woop woop..........

I just about let my 14 year old daughter go to Croydon with friends but feel very wary sadly. I used to come to Croydon as a young teenager just as the Whitgift had opened mainly to the cinemas here and travelled on a 75 or on the train alone or came to "discos" late at night and often walked back to Sydenham completely without worry in the 70's. There is a dwindling street market here - snuggled and struggling deep in the ever expanding building going on here which has existed since about the 1700's.

Yes we've got the tram - but it takes you THROUGH places.

In the middle 70's as children you could get what was called a Red Bus Rover ticket - can't remember how much it was but you could travel anywhere for the day and we got a 194 all the way out from Forest Hill to CROYDON AIRPORT! woohooooooooo.. we thought we'd gone right out into the countryside. There was an open air pool here - yet again a place for people to GO TO and it was a fantastic day out. The Purley Way isn't far from me now and it's just another traffic jam and the old baths are a garden centre. The old airport building is a TGIF. All that history and culture - gone.

I have lots of memories of living in Sydenham and Brockley especially, including riding round on our biycles on the main road without problems and all of us children going up to Hilly Fields and Blythe Hill without a care in the world and zooming down the hills afterward - no phones to let our parents know when we would be back or if there was anything wrong - if there was anything like a fall or something you dealt with it then went home. A lot of my time was spent playing around in Brockley Cemetary - ghoulish I was then. ~I used to walk home from Gordonbrock Infants on my own to Adelaide Avenue!

When we lived on Adelaide Avenue there were ruins all round the perimeter of old bunglows which had just been demolished and we played in the site - and crossed the road from the park without traffic islands!!!!!!!!

No red routes, no CCTV , no traffic cameras or calming, no multitude of confusing road signs, (was never aware of a traffic warden), not really any traffic jams, no bus lanes (the traffic seemed to move then), visible police on foot all of whom knew you and your families, shopkeepers who knew you also so you did get things on "tick".

We went to school at Brockley Primary alone, knowing you would meet hoardes of other children on the way - no parents in 4x4's neurotically hugging their offspring until the last moment - clogging the roads. If we did get the rare lift it was from our dad taking 1 or 2 of us on his bicycle on the way to work. If it rained on the way to or from school you just got wet! If you were late you were late and it was your own fault - that way you learned responsibility and self awareness.

grrrr bloody grrrrr I'm only talking about the 60's and 70's and it makes me so sad that "a community" seems to have gone from wherever you are now - everywhere is full of people who are just in their own little bubble and s*d the rest of you - if you're not on a mobile phone, connected to an ipod or other device or have some sort of earpiece in or just not aware of what's going on around you then what sense of reality do people have? People used to walk around talking to each other and had eye contact and there was a sense of mass awareness and involvement.

Technology will keep going apace but do we have to follow like sheep for the sake of carrying on traditions and giving our children social skills other than being able to text each other silently - even in the same room as each other:?

Places will be vibrant if people just looked at what was going on around them- maybe by even unplugging themselves for a minute from their laptop (yes I know I'm in a PC but it's rare for me) or ipod or gadget and realise the world they are in and the life they have or will have is up to them and get off their a***s and stop complaining about their lot in life.

We are all so lucky to live in a country that just has running drinkable water- we have no daily struggle or toil- no 10 mile daily walk for dirty water. We have it easy. Now THERE is a community spirit. When you don't have it easy you have to fight to keep what little you do have and are proud of it. We have too much. I heard my Nan say that about 30 years ago and understand now what she meant. Words of the wise. She died a few weeks ago aged 94. Now I'm 50 I empathise with what she meant when she used to talk about how things used to be and how hard it was becoming for her to understand change going on around her. I'm in an ever changing world and it is getting more and more unrecogniseable.

Yes accept and embrace change as that is human nature. BUT agree with it? Is it all for the good. When will the bubble burst and people realise the most important things are the people who live with and around them, not what you have got. We all have freedom of thought and will. Do we have to be lemmings?

I was told I would be useless at school (thank you Mr Kemp) but have always worked and have brought up three children and keep connected - hopefully- to things and am always looking forward. In my mind your family is the most important thing and if you can just be a respectable and thoughtful person you get far in life. I made sure that teacher would be wrong.

I'm involved in the community in the village I live in - yes a village in the borough of Croydon- and enjoy seeing the same people and knowing people in this area and knowing my children's friends and families. How will it change - who knows?

These are only my personal views and thoughts. tata.

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