The sound of: Plumstead covered market

This is a short field recording I made whilst wandering around Plumstead covered market on the walk from Woolwich around Crayford Ness for chapter 3 of This Other London

Here’s a snippet from the book:

Moving up along Plumstead Road my momentum is broken by the covered market. There’s been a market on the site since the 1600s – the poor forgotten cousin of the more famous Covent Garden. Thursday is early closing, which probably accounts for the lack of activity. It must be a hard life grinding a living out of the stalls here. The Gurkha Café has a few punters sup- ping tea on its outside tables. I do circuits, soaking in the atmos- phere: the narrow ways between units, the coloured lettering all around, pulsing reggae music bouncing back off the glass ceiling. There are echoes of Grand Central Market in Los Angeles that provided the inspiration for scenes in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner. A mash-up of ethnic influences coming together into a hybrid street culture, a Himalayan- Afro-Caribbean-Indian-Jutish cocktail.”This Other London – adventures in the overlooked city

Brandon Estate Cine Club

Diving into the goldmine of the London Screen Archives Youtube channel the other day turned up this precious nugget – the archives of the Brandon Estate Cine Club.

The Brandon Estate was built in the late 50’s in Kennington, South London. The Club made Super 8 films of events on the estate organised by the social club – using a camera bought by 17-year old Brian Waterman with his first pay-packet from his job on the Underground. There’s more about the Cine Club on the Film London website and how the members of the club were recently reunited for a special screening of the films.

The first thing that struck me when I watched the footage of the estate in 1961 with the concrete still fresh was the opening credits of Sean Lock’s classic sitcom 15 Storeys High which used the Brandon Estate for the exterior locations.

Screen shot 2014-02-07 at 13.06.41

The episode where Vince has to return a plough that he drunkenly stole from a pub is a great example of how the estate was used in the series. The Brandon Estate Cine Club footage and 15 Storeys High complement each other beautifully, positive views of life on a south London estate – summer fetes, kids Christmas parties, day trips to Canvey Island, trying to get a sofa up in the lift. I can imagine Vince going along to the screening that was organised on the estate and getting into some sort of light-hearted bother.

 

Modernism in Lewisham?

First off I’m not entirely sure that ‘modernist’ is the correct term to describe these three buildings in Lewisham High Street that caught my eye when I was down there the other week. But it’s the word that pops into my befuddled brain when I look at them.

Nikolaus Pevsner was fairly dismissive of Lewisham, writing in 1952 that it was, ‘A large borough, but little to see’. Although he knew his modernism from his art-deco, I am compelled to disagree.
The building above however is the only one I’ve found any info on – it was a 1960s department store, but I haven’t yet found out its original name.

The past life and former glories of this branch of Currys eludes me though. It’s a magnficient building worthy of more than being shared between cheap electronics and nail varnish remover.

The detail on the facade was clearly the product of an age that took its retail architecture seriously. This building seems slightly embarrassed by what has become of it, skulking back behind its tacky plastic frontage.
I wonder if it’s a survivor of the V1 attack on Lewisham Market in July 1944 that devastated the town centre

Ok this Primark isn’t quite so grand but still recalls a Grace Brothers age of High Street glamour and civic dignity.
I didn’t glide down to Lewisham on the DLR to study retail behemoths but I can’t seem to get these buildings out of my head. Just need to find out the correct word to describe them now.

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