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What is this website?

This website has been created to correct the highly misleading impression many viewers of the recent BBC TV programme: The Secret History of our Streets: Deptford High Street* seemed to have formed about Deptford and its residents as a result of watching this programme.

Some of these impressions can also be formed by reading the BBC book: The Secret History of our Streets: London that accompanies the TV series.

* This was shown on Wednesday 6th June at 9pm on BBC2 and again on Tuesday 12th June at 11.20pm

This website is intended to:

Correct the false impressions the programme has given about the history of Deptford,
and:
Correct the false impression the programme appeared to give viewers about Deptford as a place, a community and against some individuals within the community.

What did the programme say?

Looking at blogs and TV reviews it unfortunately seems that most viewers of the programme were left with the following false impressions about Deptford:

On Deptford’s history

That during the period after the Second World War Deptford enjoyed booming prosperity of the kind it had never seen before
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That this alleged boom was then brought to an end by a 1960’s council planning policy of demolishing terraced houses and replacing them with high rise estates which had the effect of driving out the existing population and
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That this planning policy also directly resulted in significant immigration into the area by “newcomers” Continue reading →

On Deptford today

The programme gave the impression that as a result of these alleged historical events Deptford is now:

The poorest it has ever been
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Lacks a sense of community
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Is a terrible place to live
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The programme also completely misrepresented the views of Nicholas Taylor, who has lived locally for 50 years and was a local Councillor for 31 years.

The programme appeared to imply that Mr Taylor:

Was a supporter of the policy of demolishing terraced houses and replacing them with high rise council estates
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Was involved in, and approved of, the demolition of houses in Reginald Road
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In our view none of these damaging impressions that the programme left viewers with are true and need to be strongly refuted to restore the good name of Deptford and its community.

1 of 10 On Deptford's history →

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Leave a comment: (87 comments)

  • Mart - 06/22/2012 5:25 AM said: “ Like the site! Good stuff. ”
  • Chris - 06/22/2012 8:37 AM said: “ This site and leaflet have got it right. That programme was an insult to the people of Deptford today and seemed to have an agenda. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story! I was very disappointed in the lack of balance shown by the programme. Deptford is not the depressed place today that the programme suggested, it is a vibrant and diverse community that does not deserve to be talked down to by BBC programmes. I was also sorry to see the treatment of Nicholas Taylor, who has clearly devoted his life to helping people in Lewisham, and as this site says he worked hard to stop demolitions and high rise estates. And he wasn't even on the council for years after the Reginald Rd demolitions. His interviews looked like they were edited in such a way to make him look the villain that the programme needed. I hope as many people as possible read this site and get the true story. ”
  • Kevin H - 06/22/2012 4:31 PM said: “ I don't live in Deptford but occasionally visit my son there. I find it to be a vibrant, diverse place , particularly the High St. It has more than its fair share of creative musicians and producers. Better spikey than bourgeois bland ”
  • Anonymous - 06/22/2012 4:45 PM said: “ I agree totally with the previous comment by Chris.

    The sense of community you see on market day is what I first noticed and made me love the place for the last 28 years. I did enjoy the programme but feel I was definitely misled by the immigration arriving after the tower blocks, felt bemused by the evangelical preacher and drunks and had no choice but to be grateful the good stuff wasn't shown. - I feel lucky and blessed to have stumbled upon SE8 in my youth, it's very much part of my life and friends and don't mind if people in other parts are unaware i like it without them!

    This leaflet does make me think Mr Taylor and his family deserve an apology, appalling treatment after heart surgery. ”
  • Councillor Mike Harris - 06/22/2012 5:08 PM said: “ The misrepresentation of modern Deptford was sheer laziness on behalf of the producers. I also found the characterisation of immigration as a negative influence on the area as factually incorrect, and entirely misleading.

    I'm absolutely amazed that the decline and closure of the docks, a huge source of local employment was not even mentioned - as if housing alone was the catalyst for Deptford's "decline".

    This website is a brilliant counter-balance to the BBC's documentary. A huge thanks for all your hard work. ”
  • @se8rocks - 06/22/2012 5:28 PM said: “ Everywhere has it's good and bad points.
    I have lived in and raised my children in Deptford for the last 16 years. We, as a family are proud of Deptford, It's history, it's diversity and how it has evolved.
    I feel that Deptford is a thoroughly modern community, that, thanks to it's rich history and huge characters has managed to retain many of it's redeeming features.
  • Helen Billington - 06/22/2012 5:38 PM said: “ Very well presented site. Don't know the area but the programme didn't come across as fair to me, especially where Mr Taylor was concerned. You should be proud of yourselves, unlike the BBC who should definitely apologise or respond to the criticism. ”
  • Falling Masonry - 06/22/2012 6:11 PM said: “ Could have been an interesting and valuable programme, but I was appalled by the loaded questions and biased editing endured by poor Mr Taylor. He seemed like a decent sort and was becoming visibly distressed as he realised he was being set up as the Dick Dastardly of Deptford. The LCC-led working class diaspora may have changed the community, but certainly didn't destroy it. ”
  • Sue - 06/22/2012 6:35 PM said: “ Interesting and informative – well done! ”
  • Steve - 06/22/2012 6:49 PM said: “ I lived in Deptford from 1981 to 1985 and I have lived in Greenwich Borough ever since. Deptford had its good points and its bad points. The programme didn't strike me as particularly inaccurate. ”
  • Steve Lee - 06/22/2012 9:07 PM said: “ Thank you for helping to correct the offensive and biased views set out by this poorly researched BBC programme. Deptford is a place to be proud of. ”
  • Jenny Shaw - 06/22/2012 9:38 PM said: “ I am so pleased that this blog has been set up.I too felt that poor Nick Tayor was rather cornered by the interviewer and given us to believe that he was behind all the new build.This is far from the truth as I once worked at The Albany and remember Nick Tayor being very supportive of local people.Also the programme didnt mention all the lovely cafes and art work around.The cockpit arts centre in Creekside is also worth mentioning. ”
  • Marmoset - 06/22/2012 10:01 PM said: “ If I ever cross your father in the High Street - or anywhere else, for that matter - I'd be proud to shake his hand. ”
  • Cllr Nicholas Bennett JP, London Borough of Bromley - 06/23/2012 2:35 AM said: “ I was Nick's Conservative opponant in Ladywell Ward when he was elected in 1971. I was subsequently elected for Honor Oak Park Ward and served on Lewisham Council from 1974-82. I was the Conservative Housing Speokeman and then Leader of the Opposition. Nick as this website makes clear fought to save the last remaining 18th and 19th Century streets in Deptford in the face of bovine opposition from the old guard of Deptford Labour councillors. He is a man of great integrity and decency and I was very angry at the misrepresentation in the programme. ”
  • Anon - 06/23/2012 8:08 AM said: “ I knew Nick Taylor in the early 80s when he was living on the Pepys estate and representing the local ward. He worked hard to improve life on the estate. The thing that done me about the prog was the way the makers clearly seemed to think that cos Nick speaks posh he was an easy target to frame as being a supporter of the demolitions because he speaks just the posh t*ssers who worked for the LCC that hatched all the evil plans for demolition and high rise. The thing they failed to understand tho is that the fact he still speaks how he was born is actually a credit to him ie he hasn't ever 'put on' some bullsh*t fake accent. That's the whole point - he is an honest guy, no airs or graces. This of course makes what the prog did even worse. ”
  • Bertie Brindle - 06/23/2012 10:59 AM said: “ I love Deptford! What a place, Goldsmiths, The Albany, Amazing Church buildings with Norman towers, The Arstist Quarter, Deptford Creek, The allotments, The Market, Brookmill Park, The Laban centre, The cycle paths! Having always worked in the south of the borough my new life in the north is great. I have been amazed by the friendliness of everyone, the brilliant diverse mix of people, cultures, art, food and fun. I watched the 'from our streets programme' but switched off after 15 minutes as I could see where the programme was heading. Thank you for putting this site together, so the community of Deptford can be recognised, praised and encouraged to keep on doing the 'deptford dance' evolving as it goes, taking all with it. ”
  • Dave Crowley - 06/23/2012 3:01 PM said: “ I met Mr Taylor once at a social occasion and he came across as a genuine, honest supporter of the community. Very disappointed that the BBC have apparently taken advantage of his good nature, willingness to contribute to the programme and natural enthusiasm, by misrepresenting him after all his hard work and long service. ”
  • Centurion - 06/23/2012 3:50 PM said: “ I've lived in South East London for the last 30 years and visited Deptford High Street once a week on average over that time. Going to see bands at the Centurion in the old days (remember the landlord with the sheriff's star on his jacket?) shopping in the market and biking back through it from New Cross station these days. It is in far better shape the last five years than it has ever been. Of course there's the louts outside the cluster of betting shops but after years of decline the population is booming again. New flats and cafes are popping up everywhere. Since 2006 the number of people commuting to work through Deptford station has tripled - and then there's the DLR on top of that. They couldn't even get their history right. The street isn't originally Victorian as the film said but Georgian. The original station and the carriage ramp - the first commuter station in the world - was built before Victoria was on the throne. As Martin says where was Archer's masterpiece - St Paul's Deptford? Of course Deptford isn't twee like Marylebone High St - thank gawd - but if they really think Deptford has the worst High St in Britain they haven't been to many High Streets. And then there's the way they treated Nick Taylor - I knew him 30 years ago - I wasn't a close friend of his but the film clearly distorted his views and made him out to be an advocate of bulldozing the past and replacing it with shoddy tower blocks which was not the case. The programme makers actually used the bomb damage map to show that Deptford High St was not heavily bombed but if you freeze the frame you can see that Reginald Rd was heavily hit and much of Reginald Place was obliterated by a V1. Mistakes were made in clearing properties which could have been saved but that wasn't Nick's fault. I know a bit about telly, too, and he was plainly portrayed as the villain of the piece (whatever weasel words they inserted into the track to try to minimise any legal consequences). Trouble is it was compellingly made and if you didn't know better you'd assume it was all true. It wasn't a Secret History of Deptford High St - just an unfair and unjust one. ”
  • bill - 06/23/2012 6:00 PM said: “ Thankfully I think it's fair to say that most people are a bit wary of tv's representation of anything.. I felt whilst watching that Nicholas Taylor was being inaccurately portrayed, and the subsequent depth of criticism makes this abundantly clear..
    Having said that I think it was very much a 'story' from one era of Deptford's history, and didn't directly imply that Deptford isn't a great place to live now, merely that it had changed significantly ?
    The programme has at least prompted me to dig a bit deeper into Deptfords history aided by existing blogs. Every cloud etc ”
  • Emily - 06/23/2012 6:05 PM said: “ I have lived in and near Deptford since the age of 14. My 3 Children have been born and raised here and we love it! There's so much to do from the Market, the library, the art galleries, the churches, the cafes, the toddler groups, the music.... the list could go on. There are no other streets I can walk down and guarantee seeing so many familiar faces. Deptford is a wonderful community
    Thank you for doing this website and 'bigging up' Deptford and thank you Nicholas Taylor for all that you did for Deptford. ”
  • Mike Keogh - 06/23/2012 10:47 PM said: “ Great site to defend Nicholas Taylor and the community of Deptford. The Guardian caught up with the story after the initial review. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/18/sentimentality-two-up-two-downs?newsfeed=true and his book 'The Village In The City' can still be bought!! Since then redevelopments like the nearby Silwood have had their consultations, although sometimes flawed (I was involved with consultations at the time, although some residents were suffering from over-consultation and raised and dashed hopes. Planners have improved and learnt from mistakes. Thankfully the people of Deptford and surrounds see through this programme, although many will not realise that. Does this mean that Deptford will stay a more affordable place to live (albeit Albury St returns a higher council tax for Lewisham Council than most of Lewisham)? Congratulations on this excellent website. I commented on the original producer's blog, which was pulled! http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2012/06/secret-history-of-our-streets.shtml and my entry is no 44. ”
  • kate Young - 06/23/2012 10:56 PM said: “ I watched the programme and was disapointed that it did not show the more recent regeneration and good things happening inthe area.

  • Judy - 06/24/2012 8:45 AM said: “ Just wondering who you are? I agree that transparency and honesty are important so who has produced this leaflet and website? It would be easy to think that it's a fantastic pr stunt for Nicholas Taylor especially as there doesn't seem to be anyone taking the credit for all this! ”
  • Anonymous - 06/24/2012 8:56 AM said: “ I think it's clear than Mr Taylor has suffered an injustice, and I think this website will help right that wrong.
    But I find it odd that it is unclear who put the site and the leaflet campaign together. Is this his website, are these his words? It seems so. So I think Mr Taylor should step out of the shadows and speak with his own voice. He would get just as much support I'm sure. I just find it hard to trust the anonymity of this site.
    I'm glad people are setting the record straight on Deptford. I'm also glad that Mr Taylor's legacy is now being recognised, despite the shows efforts to show him in a bad light. ”
  • Martin Taylor - 06/24/2012 9:56 AM said: “ This was put together by me and some friends. I am one of Nick Taylor's sons. I lived just off Lewisham Way for the first 18 years of my life, went to Ashmead school etc & now live in Greenwich. This is not a 'publicity stunt' as that implies we have something to sell or are sensationalising something/making stuff up when all we have in fact done is produce a purely factual (and perhaps boring for some......) historical/current affairs booklet/website ie the opposite of what most people wd call a publicity stunt. The reason I put this together rather than my dad is cos he is 71 and has a serious heart condition. And with respect to him I think it's fair to say he ain't exactly internet savvy.......

    Nowadays people often think there is a conspiracy behind everything in life, but there ain't no conspiracy here, just a family & friends trying to right a wrong against both Deptford and my dad. I didn't put our name on it cos I am not interested in publicity & as I say I think the leaflet is non controversial as it is 100% factual, unlike the programme, but given you ask who produced it - and I accept with hindsight I should have put my name on it - I hope this 'puts the record straight' on this as well. Cheers Martin. ”
  • Andrew - 06/24/2012 10:12 AM said: “ I've lived in Deptford since 1985. The TV programme gave a seriously false impression of its recent history and of its current state. It was the famous 'Deptford effect'--the sense of being at home in a vibrant community--that persuaded me to move here. As far as I can see, that effect is still alive and growing. The programme gave the impression that Deptford is a disaster area. Thanks for setting the record straight! ”
  • Jess - 06/24/2012 10:56 AM said: “ I love Deptford. It's rich in culture, dynamic, welcoming and trendy. I have lived in other parts of London before - north and east - but Deptford is by far my favourite and the place I call home. The programme was full of nonsense! Good work on setting the record straight! ”
  • Sascha - 06/24/2012 11:08 AM said: “ I too love Deptford, It's a melting pot of cultures and races, living for the most quite harmoniously with each other, just look at Deptford High Street, where else could you have a Jewish Jeweler (I presume he is), a Pork Butchers and a Halal Butchers next to each other!
  • Adam - 06/24/2012 11:38 AM said: “ Yes, the programme was misleading on some points, mainly on the contribution of immigration on the economic and social problems and the unfavourable characterisation of Mr Taylor however It is also difficult to not acknowledge the influence of alcohol, poverty, gambling that does continue to blight Deptford High St and some of it's surrounding areas.

    It is good to see much regeneration of the area taking place, new apartments, station, library and being positioned as an artistic corner of South London which has welcomed small, independent galleries & "bo-ho" cafes but the market on the high street does need major revamping by the council and local community. I have lived on and visited the street for the last 20yrs and there is no doubt in my mind that the history has been lost, footfall has dropped, the number of drunks, beggars and drug addicts has grown. It is changing; very slowly and many good things exist but so do just as many bad things.
  • Samantha Hunt - 06/24/2012 11:43 AM said: “ I live in Deptford and love it here. I watched the programme with my parents who also love visiting us here. I was shouting at the tv at times through sheer frustration at the negative portrayal of this vibrant place, which even went as far as implying there is some kind of demonic presence on the high street! I also felt that there was a racist undercurrent to the programme's narrative which seemed to be saying that once all the hard working white families moved out, the immigrants arrived and the whole place went to the dogs. Thankyou for going to the time and trouble of producing the leaflet, which we received today, and this website. We have only lived here for a few years but from the leaflet and the other comments, I gather your dad dedicated a great deal of his life to improving the lives and homes of local people and I am sorry he has been so appallingly treated by the BBC. Weldone for putting the record straight. ”
  • jaques - 06/24/2012 11:47 AM said: “ Can I ask if anyone knows who is responsible for this website and leaflet? an individual or group?

  • Martin Taylor - 06/24/2012 12:11 PM said: “ Hi Jaques, see my comment about 5 before your one which answers your question. Cheers Martin ”
  • regbooboo - 06/24/2012 12:37 PM said: “ I have lived in Deptford all my life and cannot comment on the strategies of Council policy for pulling down houses and building high rise flats - all I can say is that I remember the tenants of the flats all kept their "fronts" clean, ie. cleaning windows and sweeping the landings and now no-one seems to have any pride where they live. The High Street is a vibrant community but you cannot buy anything "English" - we once had a Woolworths, Marks & Spencers, Fantos, Pecrys, toy shops etc etc. The market sold good quality clothes, fruit and vegetables - these are all gone. I would say the High Street is dominated by the ethnic community. ”
  • Nemo - 06/24/2012 12:48 PM said: “ Good to see the record set straight, I arrived on the Deptford Creek foreshore in 1985 intending to fix my boat and leave for warmer climes. I'm still here, because of Deptford not Greenwich. You make many wonderfully positive points, most of which I agree with, but there are issues that still need attention. Not least, Convoys Wharf where we have swapped remote LCC misguided idealists for even more remote Chinese speculators but hopefully Deptford will educate them, after all, we held Murdoch at bay.
    Then there is the proliferation of betting-shops in the High St (interestingly about the same number as there were pubs) here again Deptford,unlike other London high streets, has managed to kick the latest parasite out, thanks in no small part to a restriction set by planning in your father's day, was it him I wonder ? ”
  • Mark - 06/24/2012 12:50 PM said: “ I too am one of those 'newcomers' who came as a student to Goldsmiths and the Laban (in 1976 in my case) and I fell in love with the place and have lived here ever since - and fully expect to retire here.

    I agree the programme was deeply flawed in it's biased, selective editing and complete disregard for timing.

    Most particularly the opportunity was missed to explore the many, many current positive developments that are renewing and reinforcing a sense of a new, vibrant, multi-cultural community.

    Well done on the publication and distribution of the pamphlet which is excellent. ”
  • Bernadette Russell #366daysofkindness - 06/24/2012 1:27 PM said: “ Congratulations on this website and your leaflet- it was great to have some of the info on the programme challenged- the portrayal of what Deptford is like now is the opposite of my experience. I think it was lazy and cynical on their part- wrapped up the story and made it simpler than it actually is/was. I have lived in Deptford since 1997 and my company is based here. I love Deptford, the community, the market, all of it. Thankyou so much for producing this. ”
  • tony - 06/24/2012 1:34 PM said: “ Compare to their neighbours, such as Surrey Quays an Greenwich, I can say Deptford , is not good area to live. I know Deptford build a new building ( is it library? ), new flats, and restoring old train station?, but the atmosphere of ' poor ' it's still there that can not be changed. Very different atmosphere when you go to the neighbours (Greenwich and Surrey Quays).
    I am poor too, still struggling with daily life, that's the reason why I can feel the 'poor' in Deptford. But I agree, Deptford is not the poorest or worst to live in London. Try to live in North London, such as Edmonton, Seven Sisters..we still very lucky to live in Deptford.. ”
  • Anastasia - 06/24/2012 1:46 PM said: “ Judy: if the blog works, it doesn't matter who the site is by as any can presumably post: for or against. (Trolls never welcome).

    My views:
    In the Eighties when I moved in , the last ATM shut down and no bank seemed to to trust the locals for nearly a decade. Now it is better.

    What high street, what market street has not suffered loss of footfall and decline? Has Deptford suffered worse? I suspect it has actually fared better than many. That question is susceptible to objective research, which should not have been omitted by a programme claiming links to the OU.
    Perhaps if the population had remained completely indigenous, there would have been a greater use of out-of-town shopping and consequent greater decline in the high street shops.

    Why no mention in the programme of the betting shops and pawn shops? (see Nemo comment above). ”
  • Julie - 06/24/2012 2:03 PM said: “ I lived in Deptford for 7 years and was at Goldsmiths too. Yes, the area has lots of good stuff going on, I was even involved in some of it, but the programme wasn't meant to be about people like me. If I'm honest one thing that was abundantly clear when I lived there was that the galleries, cafes and all the other great projects that were going on were by a certain section of the Deptford population and they didn't really touch the people that this programme was about. I was really moved hearing what happened to those people and the fact that they had a voice at last. It's a rare thing in television to hear those stories. It was a also a history programme, not a celebration of the "current positive developments" taking place in Deptford. I understand that you want to defend your dad but some of the claims in this website are absurd. If the shopkeepers in the programme claim that business has taken a turn for the worse, that's how they must be experiencing it. If they remember the area improving post war, then that's their experience of it. The programme didn't say that immigration made the area poor, it said that the demolition of houses and building of blocks of flats ensured a social ceiling - after all these types of places are hard to gentrify. Of course the poorest and most in need filled these blocks. Why is mentioning immigration equated with racism? Of all your comments on this site I think this section is the most unfounded and unfair. ”
  • Anonymous - 06/24/2012 2:09 PM said: “ can you please say who you are the producer of the leaflet and web-sight? it is very interesting to have a come back fro the depressing program, I live hear I love it, I feel it would be good to know who has funded this. Thanks Katharine ”
  • Martin Taylor - 06/24/2012 2:21 PM said: “ See my comment (no. 26 I think - sorry We shd have had them numbered). Re funding I shelved for it. Costs were low as friends helped put the site and leaflet together. Costs were also a tiny fraction of the costs that we wd have incurred if we had taken the legal route of clearing my dads name by trying to get an apology out of the programme makers.......which is why of course that the UK libel courts are the preserve of pop stars and Russian oligarchs. Basically the Internet and improvements in I.T/printing technology have allowed us to be able to take this alternative approach of 'direct name clearing'. ”
  • Paul - 06/24/2012 2:32 PM said: “ I'm interested in why this was put together as a reaction to the program, which indeed have a bias and an agenda. Good on the makers of the site and booklet to try and address the balance. I hope you get some attention.

    Julie's previous comment about racism is very much spot on - if talking about immigration means racism, then it is not a discussion, but an opinion being raised.

    It seems that the elephant in the room is the fact that the number of alcoholics and homeless are caused by the services offered by local churches and other charities which outstrips other local boroughs. Other areas actually refer people here. ”
  • LouLou - 06/24/2012 3:31 PM said: “ I am a current resident of Deptford. I am very nuch involved in the community, volunteering around the area. The Deptford I know has a huge and strong sense of community, which crosses all sections of the community. The shop the film focussed upon is one of my favourites in the high street. They had no hidden agenda to tell the story in any other way than how they felt/experienced in regard to Deptford's regeneration during this time. I also felt from watching the film that there was no element of racism? I find the leaflet and this website a little reactionary. Perhaps the councillor should have spent more time in the community during this time - was he living in the lovely house that features in the film at the time of the demolition of other people's houses? I have discussed the programme with many people, all of whom very much enjoyed the content and history. The only downside for me was not to mention the many many Betting shops that have sprung up, which should be monitored by the council. Just out of interest, how much did the booklet cost to produce? As I'm sure the money would have been appreciated in helping towards a kids project at a local school... which might have promoted a more positive edge towards Mr.Taylor. ”
  • Rod - 06/24/2012 3:46 PM said: “ Congratulations on the leaflet and the website. Will the BBC or the OU take any notice at all? No sign of it on any of the BBC sites mentioning this programme. After the show was first transmitted I wrote in the comments section of the producer's blog as follows:

    I am more than disappointed with this film. It completely omits the regeneration dimension of the Deptford story, physically represented by the new school and library, the Albany Centre, the rebuilt railway station, and the very exciting Deptford Project. Of course the story of Lewisham's incompetence and (perhaps) skullduggery in the 60s and 70s needed to be told, but the conclusion that Deptford High Street is one of the poorest in the country is neither fair nor accurate: Time Out, for instance, has called it London's most lively high street. You completely failed to notice that the most prevalent religious group here in Deptford is not the jolly African gospel church you showed, but in fact is the Buddhist community. We have at least as many southeast Asians as Afro-Caribbean people in the High Street, but your only reference to this was showing a lady getting her finger bitten by a crab. I'm doubly disappointed because a couple of years ago we gave your researcher much information and practical assistance as well as historical and archaeological maps of the area (we live in Albury Street). With the exception of a couple of minutes in Albury Street, the show concentrated on one side street -- Reginald Road -- which doesn't necessarily serve as a paradigm for the rest of Deptford. And you showed only the southern portion of the High Street; but this was not made at all clear. I was a professional television producer (LWT, 1978-89) and a journalism teacher (City University, 1996-2006), so my criticism is not amateur. Actually, we think Deptford High Street is an exciting, vibrant, colourful place to live, and given half the budget the BBC gave you to make this film, I'd be happy to make another one to prove it. ”
  • Phil G - 06/24/2012 4:26 PM said: “ I agree with the ladies comments earlier it was a program historically based i did feel the pentecostal pastors were not helpful in the program and as someone who lives opposite from where drinkers and and those with drug issues gather a lot more needs to be done. So lets not have either too Jaundiced a view or a rose tinted glasses view but a balanced view of Deptford which i love but the real Deptford with all its greatness and its issues gather. ”
  • Keith Ison - 06/24/2012 4:33 PM said: “ Great to read ALL the comments on this site. If there's one thing 30 years living in Deptford has taught me, it is that we all benefit from being part of an accepting community. Deptford's sense of community, and some of its people, took a battering in the 1960s through the power of a bureacracy people felt they couldn't change or influence. It has been remade and reworked in many positive ways since and now faces a different threat, from the power of money. Our greatest enemy is indifference. ”
  • neil - 06/24/2012 4:44 PM said: “ I've lived in Deptford for 56 years. I have seen the physical environment change but not all for the better. I did not think that the programme had a racist agenda and I write as a non-white Deptford boy. It is understandable that you feel your father was misrepresented, and he was, but that's because whether you like it or not, he has to share the blame for the vandalism of the local council that he was a member of. I actually thought that they gave him credit too, but this is not just about slights against him. The area is not the rosy vibrant happy dippy place some here want to portray. The High street is a mess; it is now full of shoddy pound shops and betting shops and tat, with very few diverse shopping outlets. The Saturday market had all sorts of stalls ut ehat is the range now? Why is it wrong to point this out? Time Out might want to eulogise the high street but I don't think any of their journalists live in Deptford. How many Goldsmith’s lecturers live here for that matter? When Hales Gallery upped sticks and moved east, the glory seekers went with them. The new Wavelengths is a mess and what is in the library that welcomes the older residents? You disparage the Spike in Brookmill street but it provided a roof over my head and I don’t see the Anchor as a family friendly drinker free oasis. There are loads of good things about Deptford but that does not mean that the displacement of my family and many like them can be dismissed as an inevitable consequence of the Second World War. Hampstead was bombed in the war but none of its lovely houses were demolished as a consequence. Why is north London largely intact and east and south London a mess? The programme made an attempt to answer that but not through the usual talking heads but through the experiences of people who personally experienced the demolitions and the relocations. If you think the Waldron Health centre is a community resource try getting an appointment with a GP there and you will soon tire of the brand spanking building. Buildings are nothing without people and that is what has blighted Deptford for decades. There have been improvements but a few art students and galleries do not make a community, jobs and opportunities make a community. Neither is in abundance in Deptford. ”
  • Sandra - 06/24/2012 6:03 PM said: “ I am pleased that someone challenged this programme, I was born in Deptford in the mid 60's and to find out that BBC was giving the impression that intergration did not start in Deptford until 1971 was so incorrect. I am familiar with one of the individuals involved in putting this programme together and I am shocked that she allowed Deptford to be shown in this light considering after completing her degree at Goldsmiths we used Deptford community as a basis to make her name and money. This programme has had a devastating effect on Deptford and local business owners that have added to the economy of Deptford and the revamp of it's many diverse businesses. As I said in the beginning I was born in Deptford, lived in Deptford went to school in Deptford and now run a educational business in Deptford and to not be included in the making of this programme upsets me to the core. In 1992 myself and business collegue was commissioned by Lewisham Council via HomeOffice to provide and develop community businesses to benefit the local people of Deptford, which we did out of the Old Bath Site on Clyde Street. When we first came together to change the face of Deptford, at the time there was high racial tension, high unemployment, no provision for young people much less the community in general. Via Old Town community Association based on Clyde Street next to Grinling Gibbons school (now an Indo-chinesse centre) we provided a holistice recreational and educational service for the communities young people/adults from various ethnic backgrounds and they use to come from borough wide to access our services, Lewisham Council, Deptford City Challenge, Hyde Housing Plus, and Urban regeneration use to access the facilities to deliver community as well as business meetings there. Mayor Steve Bullock (when he was councillor), visited us regularly commending our services also seeking votes for Mayorship. Under the regeneration banner Lewisham Council mis-spent millions of pounds (unaccounted for) that was meant to re-build Deptford and when the we as an organisation started to ask questions, they were tried to use us as scape goats (unjust), our provision was closed down and replaced with an Indo-chinese facility that the community could not access because they were not Indo-chinese (indefenceable). Old Town Community Association raised and spent thousands on Deptford's community unrecognised by the Local Authority. We were then relocated under the premise that we would be rehoused in a community facility to continue our services, to a small shop front on Deptford High Street (Positive Mental Attitude). We fought the council for years to rectify their wrong doings and support our services since they commissioned us to do so - but to date they still blackwall us and stop our information being made public, but we continue to stay strong and provide our innovative educational services to the community as PMA Community College - still alive and kicking in Deptford (1992 - the future).

    I know of a few people that has to be held accountable for what we are facing today in Deptford who were contracted by Lewisham council to used, abused and destroy Deptford's sense of community on behalf of Lewisham Council, and they should be held accountable for their actions - Take Deptford identity back and do away with joint owership with Lewisham. Sir Mayor Steve Bullock is gentrifying our community under the name of regeneration. ”
  • Anita Strasser - 06/24/2012 6:34 PM said: “ Dear Martin,
    your dad's name definitely had to be cleared - well done! I actually think that the BBC should officially apologise for humiliating him and deliberately showing him in the wrong light. From the above comments it seems very clear that your father actually supported the community, but may I assure you that this also came across in the documentary. Although, or because of, your father was viciously cornered at the end, it was very clear the BBC needed a scapegoat, and most people who I know, many of whom have a close connection to Deptford, did not fall for the BBC's trick. On the contrary, I have discussed the documentary with many and have found that people are aware of your dad's words, ie that he was actually supporting the community. May that assure you a little in your quest to restore your dad's reputation. Regarding the accuracy of the other things I cannot comment. I believe the truth is always a bit of everything - depending on what one has experienced. I moved to Deptford 3 years ago and wanted to be part of what I feel is a vibrant community. As a photographer, I did this by photographing and interviewing people about their lives in order to find out what makes Deptford special. I use photography to integrate myself, to make contact with my new community and to try and understand a place. I spent almost every day for 2 years on the High Street and I put a selection of my work together in a little self-published book called 'Deptford High Street'. I hope my documentary gives a better picture of the street as I interviewed and photographed old and young, local and foreign, poor and rich, black and white, students and families, artists and workers, shopkeepers and customers, and everyone in the middle. Whilst the stories might be slightly embellished or exaggerated, I wanted my readers to read what people would tell them if they met. I have received very favourable comments and I hope I've done the High Street justice. A few sample pages (as well as a slideshow) can be viewed on my website: http://www.anitastrasser.com/Deptford/DeptfordHighStreet.html ”
  • Brockers - 06/24/2012 6:47 PM said: “ The programme needed an easy target and Nick Taylor was undoubtedly set up. Congratulations on the website whose points I agree with. However, it is also clear that Deptford did badly from the LCC planners (the real guilty men). Damaged houses could have been rebuilt (and were, elsewhere) but the cosy relationship between the construction industry and local government in the 1950s and 1960s was a national scandal that was never properly investigated. ”
  • Outraged of South London - 06/24/2012 7:00 PM said: “ Thanks for putting this together. Having attended St Pauls Deptford for 20 years and knowing the area well, I felt I had to comment. I thought the treatment of Nicholas Taylor was outrageous and the BBC ought to apologise. As all who know him already know, he has devoted decades to working for the people of Deptford and used to live on the Pepys Estate and on Tanners Hill so he does know what he is talking about. Its ironically stupid that they picked on a councillor whose professional work (as well as his work as a councillor) was dedicated to promoting the sort of terraced housing he was wrongly portrayed as trying to demolish! Shame on the programme makers. ”
  • Aaran - 06/24/2012 8:46 PM said: “ Firstly, I suggest we make formal complaints to the IPCC regarding the depiction of Deptford in the programme. To get the programme makers and indeed the channel to eat their words would not only clear Nicholas Taylor's name, it could gain a publicized apology and perhaps draw outsiders' attention to the good that is going on in this community to help it to grow. As impressive as the website and booklet is, we must make sure that we are not merely preaching to the converted. Can we get the appropriate links on this webpage, webmaster?

    I moved here under a year ago. I was nervous. I saw run-down looking streets and had concerns about crime. Not a bit of it! I love it here! In the last few months alone, visible regeneration has taken place, from council buildings and the station to independent shops springing up. Deptford has all the hustle and bustle of London whilst also being amazingly close to beautiful parks. As to the community, everyone living near us is a young professional and it's the first place we've ever been given a Christmas present by a neighbor, let alone known anyone's name.
    All of my experiences are that people here are friendly and I have never personally had any trouble at all - I'm a trans guy and had been warned by the police that I might be targeted, but nobody has batted an eyelid apart from to compliment me on my clothing once or twice. The place is great!

    Let's co-ordinate a method to spread word of this amazing place to the outside world! Here's to Deptford! ”
  • Anonymous - 06/24/2012 9:13 PM said: “ I want to complain that this leaflet was left sticking out of my letter box giving an obvious signal that I was away from my flat. It is your right to put leaflets through doors but it is not acceptable to make people a target for burglary as a result. ”
  • Diane Collett - 06/24/2012 9:50 PM said: “ I have lived in Deptford since 1954 and hate everything about it. The High Street is filthy with many grubby shops, the "Deptford people", were mostly moved out of the area when whole communities were demolished. If there is still a "community" spirit, then it doesn't extend to where unfortuately I am living in Deptford. And I certainly wouldn't go out in the dark . Which is nothing like the way I grew up in Deptford when I was young. We always played out in the street, and had no worries, every neighbour would keep an eye out and we knew we could knock on any door because we all knew each other. So how people can say Deptford is a better area now, obviously wasn't here in the 50's and 60's. The Deptford High Street that I knew had Marks & Spencer, Fantos, Pecry's, Kennedy's sausages, Johnsons the bakers, to name just a few. There was also a permanent mini fair ground that my mum and nan used to take me to after we finished shopping on a Saturday, and not forgetting Douglas Street that only sold second hand stuff which was always great for a rummage. Oh and yes my nan used to take me with her to buy wet fish every week from the man in the documentary. Sorry Deptford but you can't make a silk purse from a pigs ear!!!!! And another thing, yes they got rid of Charrington House but nobody has mentioned the small block of flats that have been built in Evelyn Street for the drunks, where they have the luxury of a large garden which is ideal for them to get drunk in, and the convenience of an ornate wall to throw their old unwanted furniture over for someone else to clear up!!! And in case any of you are thinking, if I hate it so much, why am I still living here, it is because although I am still living in Deptford, I am now on the border of Surrey Quays and apart from going to my mum, don't have to go anywhere near the heart of Deptford i.e. the High Street and surrounding areas. And finally, if ever I was in a position to leave Deptford, I would wave it goodbye quite happily. ”
  • David - 06/25/2012 12:01 AM said: “ It is inexcusable that the producers had not informed Mr Taylor him of the questions they wanted to ask prior to filming him in Deptford - especially if they knew he had been seriously ill. But I think this website and the leaflet are a great response.

    It also helps open up an important debate about the degree of control that we, as Londoners, have on the planning decisions taken within our communities by council planning departments, or well resourced corporate developers. If we contribute to consultations will our voices really be heard?

    I think a lot of people around the country resent what happened to the UK in the 1960s -70s with the growth in high rise council blocks; but even more were still built and are still being built now. I wonder how future generations will judge the Renaissance development in Lewisham or the Distillery Tower at Deptford Bridge?

    Whenever I drive through Croydon and see the succession of 1980's high rise office blocks and flats I am left thinking 'how can the town planners have got this so badly wrong'. The town feels completely impersonal - as though it has lost its soul. Also, in Camden borough - I saw some lovely old Victorian shops at the back of Old Street being pulled down to make way for a sterile looking new block of flats.

    Yet, all of those collective new buildings must have been approved through some sort of democratic process. Presumably creeping development can unintentionally erode the character of a local community? Should we just resign ourselves to the fact we are too insignificant as individuals to have any significant voice at all in the planning decisions around us? ”
  • Emma Brown - 06/25/2012 9:34 AM said: “ My Nan (nearly 92) was born, raised & still lives in Deptford. She's old school & refuses to move. My Mother (60) was raised in Deptford. She moved into the borough of Greenwich when she married my Dad in 1972. I (36) as a child spent all the summer holidays withy Nan & Grandad in Deptford. So we are ALL qualified to say that SE8 is a most undesirable place to visit nowadays. None of us feel safe in Deptford High St. Nearly all of the dirty shops smell as you walk past & the pleasantness of local people has ceased. Your leaflet is fantasy. ”
  • Debbie - 06/25/2012 10:43 AM said: “ Well done on the brochure to set the record straight which I was delighted to receive and read with interest. I moved to London 18 years ago and have lived in various areas but when it came to buying a property we chose Deptford. It is the only area in London where I have very quickly established good friendships with my neighbours. I am sure there are still issues with housing, poverty, etc however it seems to me that Deptford is challenging these issues head on and is certainly on the up! Mr Taylor, I am pleased you had chance to put things straight and I hope the experience hasnt been too distressing for you. You certainly have lots of support! ”
  • Peter - 06/25/2012 12:06 PM said: “ I appreciate and understand why you feel it necessary to try and what you believe to me a wrong. Not knowing the background I cannot comment on e.g. those points about Councillor Nicholas Taylor, but councils - and communities - are collective, and not individual, endeavours.

    It would, as others have pointed out, have been helpful to have explained a little about who printed and distributed the leaflet, especially in these times where public expenditure is an issue (my first thought was whether this was a local council-funded PR effort).

    I am reasonably well-acquainted with the south London areas of Lewisham, Deptford and New Cross, having lived here in various locations for a number of years. Moving back, to the area after being outside of London for about 8 years, I was happy to move to my current property in Deptford.

    That said, a balanced view must be taken of Deptford - which, to be fair, does come across from these comments. Things do seem to be improving in certain areas, including the redevelopment of housing and the influx of new, more affluent and educated, people which will also hopefully help to regenerate the area with demand for facilities, including social. Done properly, this should also act to help increase and improve opportunities for those in need of jobs, who themselves may also benefit from better local services and a more vibrant local economy.

    The market is good and bad. Friends of mine who live in Surrey Quays have always spoken highly of the market on a Saturday morning, for quality, well-priced, fruit and veg, to the local butchers on Tanner's Hill and railway-car cafe in the High Street. I've happily bought some good quality stuff from there too.

    BUT, there is still lots to do. I've been woken up to find white youths (presumably students) kicking my windows as they try to clamber up balconies on my block of flats. In the same day - never mind the same week - I witnessed a gang-fight kick off by the anchor (Neil's comments above come to mind here!) then walked into the Tesco Metro only to be abused (including racially abused for being English) by some black African guy while the black guy behind the counter said nothing and the security guard (also black) had conveniently disappeared (and, to be clear, I mention race in this example simply to demonstrate what seems like a massive hypocrisy - if it had been the other way around I have no doubt I would have been reported for racism). This guy then even hurled abuse up the street after me as I left the store and walked away. A week later I went the OTHER way, towards New Cross Gate, and it was a far more varied mix of people and races and everyone couldn't have been more polite, standing back to let people past in stores, apologising for getting in the way, accidentally bumping people etc. Funnily enough, when I was in Vodafone in Lewisham the guy behind the counter there (black, so he was hardly being racist!) said he lived in New Cross and, to quote his exact words, "Deptford is the WORST!", and went on to say that when he goes shopping he goes either to Surrey Quays or Lewisham, even to Sainsbury's in New Cross Gate.

    There ARE problems with Deptford and which do seem to be very specific to the area. Perhaps the best legacy, including to Councillor Taylor - using this leaflet and website, and responses / reactions to this tv programme as a springboard - is to see how this situation can be used to focus efforts on doing more to help build and develop the community, from community groups to work with / pressure the local councils more, or working with e.g. local churches and other local organisations to foster and grow the community generally?

    We can sit here all day, throwing up the good and picking at the bad, but at the end of the day the best, most visible, results come out of what you actually do in the world.

    Is this all about just "Setting the Record Straight", or seeing Deptford as it is, what needs to be down and where, and then Putting Things Right in a way which genuinely impacts on people's real lives, and now? The best way to silence the nay-sayers and prove them wrong is action. You would seem to have an opportunity here... ”
  • Anonymous - 06/25/2012 1:37 PM said: “ if there is/was nothing to hide, why were the inspectors findings and recommendations hidden from the public back in 1957 when Reginald Road was inspected and then three years later, despite their findings, demolished? ”
  • Ray woolford - 06/25/2012 2:53 PM said: “ Whilst i have always held the view that most TV, has its own agenda, it does concern me that you have not disclosed on the lavish booklet delivered over the weekend, as to who is paying for this, or promoting it and what is your agenda?
    Deptford clearly is a place in which Housing has always been a subject of great debate, the Front pages of both this weeks South London Press and the Mercury highlighting the Labour Council U-turn on the sell of planned and Stopped by Lewisham People before activists, a group of which i play a part. But it is one think to attack a programme based on its failure to be straight with the viewer, when you are clearly by not disclosing who is behind this campaign raising concerns about your own agenda. Is it really so hard to state in a Document and on a website.. We are Local Residents.. We are the Labour Party.. This is Councillor.. and we feel the programme was wrong?. ”
  • Martin Taylor - 06/25/2012 2:59 PM said: “ Hi yep your points are v fair. I replied to them in earlier comments on both who wrote the leaflet and who paid for it (no 25 and 41 - sorry they aren't numbered so they are a bit of mare to find) & yep we shd have put our names on it. It was a mistake not to. ”
  • Ray woolford - 06/25/2012 3:54 PM said: “ Dear Martin,
    Thank you for this, you have a very real concern that most of us share, wish you every success with this.. ”
  • Malcolm - 06/25/2012 4:15 PM said: “ Ray is right! Thanks Martin and I also wish you all the best! ”
  • Otto Saumarez Smith - 06/25/2012 5:45 PM said: “ I too felt that the presentation of Nicholas Taylor in the program was badly bungled, as I am sure anyone who has read Taylor's seminal Village in the City would agree. The book was one of the key moments in the switch from comprehensive redevelopment towards the cheaper and less radical process of rehabilitation.

    I have a couple of historical points though...

    House improvement was a significant part of Government policy at least from the Housing Act of 1969, inspired by the pioneering efforts in Salford during the mid-sixties. Taylor's achievements in favour of rehabilitation in Deptford were made possible by this earlier change in ideological approach.

    What the program did manage to convey vividly was that gentrification has been the unintended consequence of a Jane Jacobs approach towards conservation, when housing gain is not provided for elsewhere. Although the comprehensive redevelopment schemes of the sixties were unjustifiable, as well as unduly expensive and socially disruptive, our failure since to think and build big has been leading to a socially cleansed city of houses far outside the financial resources of any but the extremely rich. ”
  • Joseph - 06/25/2012 6:01 PM said: “ Many thanks to correct the false impressions the programme has given about the history of Deptford! ”
  • Paul - 06/25/2012 6:40 PM said: “ Test ”
  • Steve, Deptford resident - 06/25/2012 6:43 PM said: “ First off, I find the expensive, glossy brochure truly offensive - who EXACTLY paid for this - me?
    Next, I feel the program was not entirely prejudiced against Deptford, as some suggest.
    This seems very much like a whitewashing campaign to restore honour, a 'big boy did it then ran away'.
    How else can you account for the appalling council housing that has been built since the 60's? I think the film was quite right when they said it was too cheap and nasty to gentrify and so the area has never really regenerated.
    And then, who EXACTLY has been responsible for allowing the ever-increasing rash of betting shops that are a blight on the high street, always by surrounded by a crowd of unemployed drunks and the stench of weed. How EXACTLY is this befitting the community? And, again, what EXACTLY is the Council doing to help support the local shopkeepers, some of whom have been there for over a century, when faced with the other blight on the community - Tescos.

    I have lived in Council Housing in Deptford for over thirty years, and whilst there are no more bomb sites cordoned off by corrugated iron, and fewer winos on the street, the social services and amenities in the area have deteriorated greatly. The various councils did nit fight hard enough to oppose cuts, and clearly did not fight hard enough to fight cheap and nasty housing. ”
  • Dave - 06/25/2012 6:50 PM said: “ As stated a few times in prev comments this leaflet was paid for by the friends and family of Nick Taylor so it ain't cost u a penny. ”
  • Dave - 06/25/2012 7:29 PM said: “ ........And given the leaflet says Mr Taylor was a local councillor for er about 31 years I would hardly call that 'doing a runner'. You are right about all the scummy bookies tho....... ”
  • Kate - 06/25/2012 7:38 PM said: “ A very impressive refutation of what is turning out to be a series that has a very particular agenda. I noticed many selective pieces of journalism that were skewed to support a very narrow and predictable argument. The following programme on Camberwell Grove was equally slanted and gave a totally false impression. I was born and bought up there in 1962 and the whole programme was made to reinforce the makers view of a middle class haven with very sloppy research and too few balanced interviews of a cross section of residents. Deptford is a wonderful and vibrant place with a fabulous community. Well done for speaking out and protecting the reputation of Nicholas Taylor. ”
  • Robert - 06/25/2012 7:56 PM said: “ I agree with Steve from Deptford! ”
  • Ray Pennell - 06/25/2012 8:53 PM said: “ Enjoyed the programme - but was amazed as it totally challenged my view that Deptford was the result of local planners rathet than German bombs. Deptford is an incredible place with a rich history - Deptford High Street a delight - and having lived in Catford - I am amazed that people speak and interact so easily.

    Thought the leaflet was excellent and hope the BBC will be paying for it - only issue I had was who paid for leaflet who was it issued by etc.... ”
  • Diane - 06/25/2012 11:47 PM said: “ I was speaking to my mum this morning about this leaflet and the comments I had left earlier about how I hate living in Deptford because the High Street is a grubby waste of space with no comminity spirit etc. My mum will be 80 in a few weeks and has lived in Deptford all her life and she would definitely say that Deptford has totally gone down the pan. But my biggest concern is that she hasn't even had your leaflet put through her door. This is someone with 80 years of knowledge and experience living in Deptford, who watched the programme and isn't even given the choice of knowing that the leaflet exists. Surely, if some Deptford residents are given a copy, then every resident should get one. I would appreciate a reply Martin. ”
  • Steve Deptford resident - 06/26/2012 12:46 AM said: “ Just watched the program again, and I feel many of the comments here are ridiculously oversensitive, The BBC does not owe anybody an apology. It does not present Deptford as a hell-hole, nor Cllr Taylor as a devil.
    It did show a borough that had an exceptionally high proportion of ugly, cheap, nasty council housing, making it one of the most unattractive parts of London. I won't name any of the estates or blocks, but there are large parts of Deptford where NOBODY has taken up the right to buy their property. Why is that? Hmmm.
    Looking at the wonderful archive material, I saw rows of houses with character, that may have needed renovation but were infinitely preferable to the flimsy, ugly monstrosities that replaced them.
    Most of these proved 'hard to let' estates. I worked on Census collection on the pepys estate, and the vast majority of people living there hated it. And there were many empty flats, despite the housing shortage.
    It's nonsense to suggest everybody was happy to be decanted, and nonsense to suggest families and entire communities were not permanently disrupted by the mass destruction of attractive (or potentially attractive) housing for cheap, nasty alienating estates.

    The point of the program was not pr for Deptford or Cllr Taylor - it was historical. The wonderful diversity and local initiatives were not needed to be shown in this program. The program asked a simple question: how come there is so much hideous council housing in Deptford?
    And it did a very good job in answering that. ”
  • Martin Taylor - 06/26/2012 8:09 AM said: “ Diane - I am sorry your mum didn't get a leaflet, we did try and deliver them to every resident of Deptford and I am sorry your mum got accidentally missed off.

    Steve - I have completely stayed out of the debate on the comments section as I had more than my fair say in helping to put together the leaflet, however, I think it is fair that I get to reply to your last post (and indeed your previous one) which raises many important issues:

    1. Firstly I agree that Deptford has a lot of poor quality council housing stock. My dad would agree as well, that's why he stood to be a councillor and that was what he spent 30 years trying to improve by replacing the tower blocks with new houses where he could. Could it & should it have been improved further? Yes of course, but we don't live in an ideal world, what he was able to do was hit by the reality of the constraints of what the council is allowed to spend by the law (vis your comments on not fighting cuts hard enough). In the early 80's he & his colleagues fought the Thatcher cuts hard, but at the end of the day the law won and she got to deprive already deprived inner city areas's all across the UK of much needed funding. This hurt then and still hurts today as we face up to the horrible impact of a new cycle of recession and swinging cuts coming together, which will again hurt inner city area's harder than anywhere else.

    2. If my dad, and some of his colleagues at the time, such as Ron Pepper and Eric Richards, hadn't fought hard to stop the street demolitions of terraces of houses ('houses of character'as you rightly put it) and there replacement by tower blocks, after he got elected in 1971, the housing stock in Deptford would be a lot worse than it is now. That's the whole point - the programme seemed to leave an awful lot of viewers with the impression that the demolitions and the tower blocks were my dads fault (you only have to look at the TV reviews and all the blog comments written after it was shown), when the opposite is true. That is one of the reasons why we wrote the leaflet. If you had campaigned against Thatcher for instance and then some programme painted you as a Thatcher supporter, how would you feel? You would be outraged and want to clear your name, right?

    3. You say the programme is 'historical' and not about the present day. I respectfully disagree on two counts:

    i) For a programme to be 'history' it needs to be based on fact, instead the programme played fast and loose with the facts, as the leaflet points out. Large area's of Deptford were bombed flat, Deptford was devastated by the population nearly halving between 1939-1965, most of the area's major employers closed down in the 20 years after the war, new towns were put up by Westminster to tempt people away from inner cities. Supermarkets came into being. The Lewisham Precinct opened. All of these massively crucial factors in the decline of Deptford high St from its 'golden age' in the 1920's/30's were either glossed over or not even mentioned by the programme. The programme was dead right about the demolitions and tower blocks being appalling misconceived and wrong, but missed everything else out. And it also didn’t even get that right as it seemed to give viewers the impression that these were my dads fault when in fact the opposite was true. I didn’t want the programme to be PR for Deptford or my dad as you suggest. I just wanted it to leave viwers with an accurate and balanced impression of the area and its history.

    ii) The BBC state that the aims of the series 'Secret History of our Streets' is to tell the history of an area from its start right up to the present day. Look at episodes 2 & 3, taking Camberwell Grove and the Caledonian Rd all the way through from their foundations and subsequent slumps (yep the war, depopulation, new towns and supermarkets have hurt all of Inner London) through to their rebirth/regeneration/improvement over the past 30 years. With the Deptford programme, on the otherhand, we only got foundation and slump. That is the other reason I wrote the leaflet. Everything the programme showed of Deptford today was unremittingly negative and yet the Deptford of today, (although obviously still having massive problems, such as poor quality housing stock, high unemployment and social deprivation, again along with much of Inner London) has been tranformed for the better compared to the Deptford of the 1970's and 1980's I grew up in. That is why this website and this leaflet has attracted so many positive comments. People who grew up at the same time as me or who have moved into the area since, have noticed the improvements and like what they see. There is a strong fight-back/regeneration story to tell that the programme didn’t even hint at. As someone pointed out in the comments (above) the number of users of trains from Deptofrd station has exploded over the last 20 years because the area is re-populating. Economic activity is also increasing (notwithstanding the impact of the current recession). If any of the new things that have happened over this period (which you rightly describe as 'wonderful diversity and local initiatives') such as community groups, new employers, the Laban, the Albany, the Lounge, churches etc had happened on Camberwell Grove or the Caledonian Rd you can be sure they would have been shown on the episodes made about them. In Deptford on the otherhand all positive developments over the past 40 years were seemingly willfully ignored (apart from the ludicrous yuppies from Central Casting shown in Albury St, which gave the impression that infact the only 'improvements' that have taken place are in fact bad). Instead it showed us street drinkers and public exorcisms as the image of Deptford today. So what we got was a highly selective history of Deptford 1920-1970 and then radio silence or worse. This leaflet aimed to redress that balance and judging by the overwhelmingly positive response we have got it seems to have done this. The site has now had 2,000 hits and I am glad we have at least started a debate.

    4. I agree with you on the bookies. It was a mistake not to mention them in the leaflet. They are a disgrace and I apologise.

    Cheers

    Martin

  • Claire Vezey - 06/26/2012 9:04 AM said: “ I lived in and around Deptford from 1978 to 1987 - it always has had a vibrancy and a good deal of poverty. The programme's portrayal of Nicholas Taylor did look to be edited and slanted however lets not get carried away with dismissing the whole thing - the programme did have a clear central point which was that council went ahead with a number of street demolitions that were not necessary, building flats which the then local residents did not want to live in and thereby doing much to displace and destroy an established working class community. This helped turn Deptford into a transitional place through which different communities have tended to move rather than stay. This transitional nature has in part helped to create the ongoing vibrancy but has also been responsible for the poverty as transitional communities tend to be less wealthy. This has led to Deptford being the subject of repeated attempts at regeneration, most of which have failed to make much impact or have needed re-regenerating a short time later (se the Albany). The potential for the future comes from artistic initiatives that have little to do with the local council. ”
  • Resident - 06/26/2012 9:41 AM said: “ I was really looking forward to this programme, I've lived in Deptford for over 20 years now and seen many changes over the years certain things about the history has been bugging me (e.g why ffinch street is spelt this way, where name new butt lane came from) and was also hoping to see some old views of 'queen street' (now lamerton street) and other views of what Deptford was like in---maybe victorian times.
    BUT according to 'that' programme Deptford high street consists of Reginald Road and Bob Walkers shop!!!
    I love living in Deptford, I love it's multi culture and friendly atmosphere we have such interesting places that cater for everyone, as for cuisine, we have african, caribbean, thai, chinese, indian, and british-how many other places can boast this?
    These things of course are in the current timeline, I don't know as much as I'd like to know about the history but I do know snippets of things Czar Peter, the 'Morley' bloke that was murdered and buried in st Nicholas church (with the skulls on the gates), I'm sure I read somewhere that the train station (currently being modenised) was one of the first built.
    This programme was a disappointing insult with very little history, I hope whoever created this web page sends it to the BBC and demands a slot to show Deptford High Streets REAL history ”
  • Deptford Statto - 06/26/2012 10:53 AM said: “ Being a bit of a saddo I just looked up the train passenger stats to see whether M Taylor was bullsh*tting about them. They are pretty mad. I could get them from 2002/3 to 2010/11 off the Rail Regulator. This shows over this period UK wide rail usage rose 38%. In Woolwich, which has similar demographics to Deptford, it was almost the same at +40%. However in Deptford it was a mental +119% and next door in Greenwich it was also a pretty stunning +86%. In otherwords there is def somth pretty dramatic happening economically in Deptford/Greenwich that isnt happening either in the rest of the UK or in similar area's of London. Dramatic re-population/regeneration? Anyhow whatever the cause it certainly isnt the impression that programme left.........nuff said. ”
  • Steve Deptford resident - 06/26/2012 11:46 AM said: “ Martin, thanks for your reply.
    I still feel the leaflet and 'campaign' are overly defensive and oversensitive, and as a result misunderstood the purpose of the program. It was not intended as a comprehensive overview of Deptford, nor as I said before was it PR.
    As I watched the program, I did not feel Cllr Taylor was vilified or held personally responsible.
    He was asked some sticky questions - on what grounds were apparently salvageable housing stock demolished to make way for hideous new-built slums for the very poorest sections of the community? And why were the surveyor's reports ignored?
    These questions were not answered, neither by Cllr Taylor nor the film makers.
    I am fully aware of the improvements made since the 70's, and the extent of bomb damage. I ran market stalls on Douglas Way when it was all corrugated iron, and remember the traveller's sites, the stinking garbage dump outside my windows built in the 80's, the enormous doss-house that spilled winos out onto the streets every day... Deptford was a dumping ground!
    True, these features have gone, but the legacy of massive swathes of cheap, nasty housing remains, and down the line various people have signed documents agreeing to this.
    Think how different Deptford would have been had more of the older properties been saved from the bulldozers! Having so much cheap council housing has had a very detrimental effect on the area. As well as established communities being involuntarily dispersed, there is a widespread feeling that the area was a dumping ground.
    I did not, and do not, see any racism in this. Both the stall holders and shopkeepers interviewed positively welcome the diversity and regard it as an asset. It is possible to feel this AND bemoan the loss of the communities they grew up in. When I was doing my Census surveys, I was shocked to find people didn't even know if they had neighbours, let alone who they were.
    And since the 70's, the High Street HAS declined. It has picked up relatively recently, but the local shopkeepers complain that the council has not done enough to support them, especially when facing erosion from giants such as Tescos.
    And somebody has to grant permission for yet another betting shop to be installed?

    So I didn't come away with the impression that Cllr Taylor was the bad guy. But somewhere down the line, committees have made very cynical decisions, based upon policies that were current at the time but now just wrong. ”
  • Peter Tingey - 06/26/2012 11:49 AM said: “ Working as a surveyor in South London in the early sixties I can remember conversations about the new high rise housing. It was well known that people became isolated in their flats rather than the easy interaction of terraced streets. Architects were driven by Le Corbusian ideas (The Corb they called him) of urban development and the creation of grandiose schemes in which they had no intention of living and would pay for the Victorian villas to which they aspired. There was no professional glory in putting in bathrooms and central heating unless you were going to live there. Their large scale ambitions chimed well with the Councillors. It does today, look around you. ”
  • Ray woolford - 06/26/2012 11:51 AM said: “ Whilst much of this debate, is going back to housing, residents should be reminded that the fight to retain period houses and green spaces continues, People before profit, continue to keep presure on the Labour Council, to end the scandle of Empty homes.
    In Deptford, this weekend, i noticed in almost every street in St Johns area, empty homes, in some streets, up to 4 perfectly decent family homes just in need of TLC.
    Empty homes cost us all, Lack of surply pushes up rents in private sector, Labour Admit they have 200 empty homes, if you think about the rent and Council tax these tenants could be paying, and the £44.000 plus it costs to keep, one family in B&B, you can see that this money could be used to improve front line services, not cut them as an easy option, which our Labour party seems to do.
    Deptford has also come a long way, who ever would have thought that Deptford would have a Labour MP, and a Labour Mayor, who for years fought for equility, but had no Hesitation in excepting the Title of Sir..Steve Bullock, and Dame Joan ruddock...What a Contrast to life time Deptford Community Activist Barbara raymond, Who for 10 years Fought Lewisham Council who wanted to pull down every period family home in her street in Batavia Road Deptford.
    Barbara today lives in the only house left in the road, all homes were replaced by dated Industrial Units, which blight what was once a very pretty street adjoing a park.
    Barbara Secured 7000 votes in May standing us our Local Lewisham People before Profit Candidate, votes that has put Barbara Second to Labour in New Cross and Deptford and which forced Labour lewisham to stop selling our homes on the cheap as well as insuring the homes that lay empty are given over to not for profit housing groups, who will also be charged with giving real jobs and skills to local people without jobs. Your votes made this happen.
    We Can only learn from the past, but Deptford has a fantastic population who at last are getting Angry, are Organising and are forcing our MP, and Council to listern to our consserns or face being kicked out by People before Profit candidates in the next round of Elections. Deptford is.. Malcolm and the Pepys resource centre have all done us pround, and the great Work by Harry and the Dage team for our Elderly residents..
    We all need to keep up the presure, when ever possible challenge what you are told, and act, who would haver thought that we would after 12 year fight, Stop the Convoy wharf development,? and Stop betting shop number 13.?
    This Programme did Show Deptford has a long and proud History of struggle. We have truly terrible times ahead for the poor the young and the elderly, although the savagesness of what is ahead will effect every resident.
    Deptford Is Awake its residents are united on so many levels.
    I hope this helps more readers realize that the Media has its own Agenda, and that clearly it is not about the empowerment of the poor.
    BBC, is just Goverment and Establishment propaganda in which any one that dares challenge, is Mad or of the so called loony lefty.

  • Malik - 06/26/2012 10:20 PM said: “ My family came to live just off the Pepys Estate in the 90s. The kids went to the nursery school on Evelyn Street, next to the fire station and then to Tidemill just off the High Street. The recent regeneration ( a new site for Tidemill, upgraded library, throughway from the Albany unto the NC station,a new school for Deptford Green....) has added a modernist and trendy sheen to an existing divere and vibrant community. The history of Deptford is rich from when the Tzar of Russia ( Peter I think) served as an apprentice in the old docks to the 'pirates' church that is still standing. I could say much more......suffice to say that the villain of the piece are the planners at the former LCC and Deptford today is a unique and special part of London which I am proud to have a small stake in. ”
  • Ali - 06/27/2012 3:53 PM said: “ I have lived in Deptford since 1984 and have brought my family up here (my kids went to Ashmead as well Martin!). I found the programme both informative and depressing. I knew from local history reading that Bronze St and several others were badly bombed and flattened as a result. I hadn't realised the extent of the bombing around the High Street. I wasn't clear, from the programme, how many streets apart from Reginald Rd were damaged. It really made me wonder what Deptford would be like now if all those houses hadn't been pulled down. it wasn't really made clear how many were unsafe and how many were the victims of Corbusian-crazed planners. There is no doubt that one of Deptford's biggest problems is its stock of crap, shoddy housing which deters people from living in Deptford permanently. It was an outrage that the portrait of your dad was so misrepresented. My friend used to work with him at Lewisham Council and said he was a really good guy. I don't think the programme depicted Deptford's problems to have come from immigrants; there have always been immigrants in Deptford and surrounding areas. Any place that has such proximity to International waters will attract people from other places. I really enjoyed reading the leaflet, thought it very well produced and congratulate you on it. One small gripe though: I was down at the Bird's Nest pub on Sunday and I was one of only three people there who had had it through their door. Was it just delivered to 'Upper' Deptford? Apart from that a brilliant effort and a good debate to start. We love Deptford, loads of good stuff is happening, let's deal with more of the crap and make more of the good stuff happen. ”
  • Anonymous - 06/27/2012 5:54 PM said: “ The demolished properties - who was responsible?

    If Mr Taylor had no part in the removal of Victorian properties and the families then who was responsible?

    My concern after watching the recent BBC TV programme was that information came to light that showed the inspectors of that time could find no reason as to why those terraced homes had to be demolished...it was the reaction of Mr Taylor hearing that he was only managing what was already in place.

    I think it would of been more appropriate to allow for Mr Taylor to provide a better response rather than the off the cuff whilst he is showing what changes had been done.
    It was great to see Mr Taylor talk with such passion but decisions that affect families and ''this will be better for you'' approach...I do not agree.

    I think the crux of the programme did highlight something I have seen elsewhere in the UK. Beautiful Georgian properties being torn down and replaced with small council block flats - not a positive direction for a community.

    To claim that some of these properties were unsafe...from what? Structurally those buildings were engineered extremely well.

    Just a thought - had the properties not been demolished and the same families living in those houses then would not Deptford be the better off compared to what it has now?

    Mr Taylor should stand up and voice his side of the story and perhaps the programme makers should do some more research to find out who was responsible for the removal of families and the demolition of their homes? ”
  • Nicholas Taylor - 06/27/2012 6:18 PM said: “ I have not commented until now, on my family's strict instructions, but I need to show respect to you all by saying something. I am deeply grateful, not primarily for myself but for Deptford, for all the contributions to this debate, which has helped us all to respond to the false impressions given by that TV programme. No outsiders reading all these blogs can switch off without appreciating that most people feel good about Deptford and cherish its revival in recent years, despite all the ongoing problems common to most of inner London, which we all know still need to be fought against and solved. We are sadly having to draw the debate to a close on this site (we are running out of space), but I am obviously happy to make myself available to take part in discussions about the history of planning in Deptford, and what went wrong and what went right, with any community organisation that cares to invite me. I can be contacted via my elder son on taylormarti3@gmail.com. -

    Thanks to the all the supportive blogs, there is no need for me to repeat here all that we did in the Seventies to try to correct what went wrong in the Sixties: saving the older houses at Gosterwood and New Cross Gate, building new houses-with-gardens, getting the market back into the High Street, pulling down the multi-storey car parks at Milton Court and Evelyn, etc, etc, etc. There is also no need because there is now excellent independent contemporary proof of all of this, in a detailed 1977 article by Tony Aldous in the magazine Building Design about Deptford, for which a link and a scanned copy have now been added to the home page of this website (above). I give special thanks to the blogger who found and sent me this article. -

    Here I just want to make four points : -

    (i) Neither this website nor the leaflet has had any connection whatever with the Council (which I left in 2002, although I am still active in the Labour Party - which also had nothing to do with either site or leaflet). The website and leaflet, and its distribution, were financed, organised and written entirely by Martin and various friends/family, although I proof-read the text and made some small amendments to it. If a community or individual feels they have been wronged by the BBC, it is far cheaper and quicker to get redress if you set up a website and deliver a leaflet, rather than wasting money on lawyers. And, as I am sure the BBC well know, Deptford as a community would not be able to sue them anyway. I was insistent, and Martin obviously agreed, that the site and leaflet were devoted primarily to defending the reputation of Deptford (only 2 out of the 8 misrepresentations listed in the leaflet refer to me). -

    (ii) On a personal note, I’d like to briefly describe my involvement with Deptford over the years. My very first job in 1971 as an elected councillor was to be the Council's rep on the Deptford High Street Improvement Committee, which met in Roberts's shoe shop near the Centurion - that's where I first met my dear friend Father David Diamond and Bill Gallagher of the Market Traders Association, who also became a true friend. From 1971 to 1979 I lived a few doors up from the Talbot pub off Lewisham Way and represented Ladywell Ward 1971-78 - but, as Chair of the Planning Committee, I got hugely involved with Deptford - switching the Council's policies from demolition to the renovation of houses instead, building houses with gardens on the cleared sites and getting the market back in the High Street. It's all spelt out very clearly in the ‘Building Design’ article mentioned above. I represented Evelyn Ward 1978-1990 and lived on the 22nd floor of Daubeney Tower, Pepys Estate (in my Ward) 1980-83 and at the bottom of Tanners Hill 1983-85. Then I met my wife, a fellow-governor at John Evelyn Primary School, and moved to her house in Brockley. I represented other nearby wards 1990-2002 (Blackheath, Crofton Park, Telegraph Hill - then called Pepys Ward). We now live in Crofton Park. However, I have continued to be closely involved in Deptford, particularly at St Paul's Church, where I have attended for 40 years, got married and had my children christened there, and have recently been churchwarden and treasurer. I know I have always been a bit of an oddity in Deptford with my public school accent; I was pleased that Anon from the Pepys Estate (post No 14) perceptively recognised that it was a personal decision of mine never to hide my posh background by changing my accent. I have always believed that everyone should be true to their background, whatever it is. -

    (iii) All of the good things that happened politically in the 1970’s, trying to restore and revive Deptford after the horrible planning errors of the 1960’s, came about from teamwork that I was fortunate to be involved in. There was a group of us within the Labour Group on Lewisham Council who wanted to do things differently and preserve and enhance what was left, and on almost every crucial vote in the Labour Group of 61 councillors and aldermen we had a narrow majority of around five. Andy Hawkins (Leader of the Council) was very supportive, as was Ron Pepper, Chair of Housing; others included Eric Richards, Alan Pegg, Terry Scott, Michael Ellison, Ron Stockbridge, Nick Gregory. Nick G for instance was a young local lawyer (later a judge) who worked with Ron Pepper and myself to get all the families re-housed from Crossfields - cut off by the new dual carriageway of Deptford Church Street - and to re-let the flats to singles and couples who brought a new vitality to the area. The interesting thing is that most of the councillors who supported us (and, through us, the people of Deptford) were, like Andy and Alan and the two Rons, from other parts of Lewisham. Ironically our efforts were consistently opposed by most of the long-standing Deptford councillors, who wanted all the old houses swept away. This was because they had lived through the horrific damage caused by the blitz, had grown up, prewar, in overcrowded conditions with poor plumbing, damp walls and leaky roofs, and understandably were happy to follow the LCC's lead and replace the houses with the promised brightness of the 'modern' estate. The trouble was that neither the LCC or these councillors could see the difference between the structural soundness of a house and the conditions inside it. Some houses certainly combined poor conditions inside with a poor structure, and these are the ones that were rightly designated 'slums', whereas the majority of houses, as I urged in the debate about the proposed clearance of the Gosterwood area, had a good structure and could and could be successfully refurbished to provide excellent homes (and at a much lower cost). The problem for us lay in proving the rightness of something that hardly any councils had yet done - but prove it we did. I was very touched at the recent funeral of a leading 'demolitionist' councillor, with whom I had a huge row over the preservation of 18-26 Friendly Street, to be told by his son-in-law that a few months earlier the former councillor had been driven down Friendly Street and said 'You know, Nick Taylor was right about saving those houses'. Incidentally, Otto Saumarez Smith (who commented in the blog above) is right that GIA’s (General Improvement Areas) had already become Government policy in the 1969 Act, after the pilot project at Rochdale; the 'pioneering' aspect in Deptford was to 'mainstream' it, make it normal best practice; and, Otto, we weren't gentrifying because we made sure that the Council owned virtually all the houses. Both in implementing the Gosterwood GIA and in reducing the densities in new projects so as to build houses-with-gardens, we were defying the mighty 1952 LCC Development Plan, which we were still supposed to follow. -

    (iv) My final point concerns the need not to be afraid of democracy and of getting involved in the hard grind of decision-making. Prior to being elected to the Council I was simply a pundit; Environmental Correspondent of The Sunday Times, lecturing at schools of architecture and busy writing 'The Village in the City'. But right from the start, I could see that punditry was largely pointless, as very few of those making the actual decisions, the local councillors, paid any attention to pundits, and often rightly mocked them. I realised that to have any real effect on the environment, and on improving the living conditions of those in need, I would have to become a councillor; to ‘do’ rather than just ‘say’ and be prepared to expose myself to public anger. It's saddening for me to see on some of the other blogsites that commented on the programme, that so many people still don't understand the difference between paid officials and largely unpaid councillors, who are still nowadays only paid small amounts, with a very modest salary if they are in the 'cabinet' (when I first became a councillor, all I got was my bus fares). Sadder still it is to see that so many bloggers are clearly much happier to be pundits than to get involved in the places where decisions are made. It's no use blaming some remote group called 'the politicians’: in a democracy we are ALL politicians (to contract out completely is itself a political decision) and can all get things done either through the Council or through community organisations, of which there are many outstanding examples in Deptford. When I became a councillor, I had all sorts of ideas about preserving houses and dismantling the high rise estates - but I had to, first, LISTEN to individuals and families in the community (starting from where they were and not from where I was), and then learn how to PERSUADE my colleagues and the Council's officers to change their minds to preserve and renovate the houses. It was difficult, but in the end I gained the confidence of many of the older councillors, not so much by convincing them of my arguments but by impressing them with my huge load of family casework with people in need. The great thing about being Chairman of the Planning Committee was that I was able to intervene and help across a wide range of the Council's services; but I got extended in so many directions in so many parts of the borough (not just Deptford) that I could not do everything I wanted to do (that's what I meant on the TV programme when I said 'I had to choose my battles' - not some kind of Machiavellian comment, but a statement of sheer necessity). -

    Thank you for all your patience in reading this. Don't hesitate to email me (at my son's address above). And someday I'll tell you all about what happened to me in the making of that TV programme, but we are having some interesting correspondence with the BBC about that........
  • Jean Bridges - 06/27/2012 4:19 PM said: “ Hi Nick,

    I do not know if you will remember me, but I was the Chair of the TrundleysI Road Tenants Association in late 1970's - early 1980's and you came onto our committee as the Council representative. You worked with our tenants for almost 5 years, helping us to fight a bad landlord and to get our 17 terraced houses refurbished.I can remember you helping to put tarpaulin over a roof one Saturday after the workmen had gone away leaving the badly damaged roof uncovered. We did win our fight, and we took the landlord to court, Hyde Housing then took over the properties and refurbished them. I then went on to form The Lewisham Organisation Of Private Tenants (LOPT) and worked on the Private Sector Sub Committee, of which you were also a member if I remember correctly. I thank you now Nick for all your support at that time.

    I did try to write on your web site but found it was full, I was so sorry I was too late. I wanted to say that I had lived in Deptford all my life, I was born at St James Road, New Cross in October 1939, and my family moved to Trundleys Road in April 1940, and I still live in Trundleys Road. I love Deptford and would not want to move away. I was appalled at the BBC TV Programme and wanted to add my comments, and how I was so pleased to receive the leaflet. Well done to your Son Martin, you have my full support, and you do deserve a public apology.

    Once again thank you for all your support in the past, and keep up the fight Martin. ”
  • Martin Taylor - 06/27/2012 6:38 PM said: “ I am really sorry, but we have now run out of capacity on the site for more comments. The response has been way larger than we anticipated and we are very grateful for all your comments. We are glad we have added to the debate caused by the programme and that we have all shown in the comments above that whilst Deptford & the High St still has serious problems (particularly the bleedin betting shops....) there is a strong story of recovery and renewal over the last 30 years that needed to be told. It has now....... Thanks again. Martin ”