Thursday, 28 January 2010

Come hither

Call me oversensitive, but after spotting a couple of negative tweets about Hither Green recently I feel compelled to defend the little corner of London that I call home.

When I tell people where I live (to clarify: I don't run up to strangers and tell them where I live, I mean when I'm answering a question), most have never heard of it. Well, for those of you who have never heard of it, Hither Green is a little suburb in south east London which nestles cosily between Blackheath and Lewisham in Zone 3.



I moved here just over a year ago because house prices here are bloody reasonable and the transport links are, for the most part, ace. Despite the lack of tube, there are trains to central London every ten minutes or so; more frequently during rush hour. The trains even run later than a tube would anyway, with the last train from London Bridge departing just before 1am. Sure, during the recent snowy conditions the trains buckled somewhat, but Lewisham DLR station is a only 15 minute walk away, and the DLR is ALWAYS running.

It's by no means the most exciting place in the world to live, but it's got a lot going for it, such as:
  • Crazy golf. Yes, you heard me right. Rumour has it that Hither Green is to become the London's crazy golf hotspot, with an indoor course taking shape as I type. My dream of becoming crazy golf world champion lives on!
  • Manor House Gardens. One of the prettiest little parks I've ever come across in London, and I'm lucky enough to have it on my doorstep. There's a lake with a fountain, a 'beetle loggery', tennis courts, a cute cafe, and there's a farmers' market the first Saturday of every month (pictured above - Flickr photo from basswulf). There are lots of other parks within walking distance too.
  • The best library ever. Ok, maybe not the best, but it's a beautiful building (I've blogged about the library before, here)
  • A fab curry house. I'd very much recommend Bengal Brasserie's banquet deal on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Shops: Hither Green itself isn't exactly brimming with retail outlets, although the lovely independent furniture shop on Hither Green Lane is great (I bought my coffee table and living room mirror there) and an amazing interiors shop on Lee Road called Objet D'Art. For groceries there's a big Sainsbury's. But Blackheath is so close for a bigger selection of boutique-y type places, and don't dismiss Lewisham either - it's even got an H&M!!!!...
  • A creative vibe: The Old Firemaster Building is now rented out room by room to creative types, such as artists, singers and musicians, and a gym may be opening there soon. Witness To The Beard (my band) have practised there a few times, and it's also where I have my guitar lessons.
  • Live music: The Station Pub runs an acoustic music night every Thursday evening called The Icarus Club.
  • Cute cafe: Just outside the train station there's a coffee shop / bakery / florist / gift shop called You Don't Bring Me Flowers. It's a little gem of a place, with kitsch decor, shabby chic charm and a secret room upstairs where you can nibble on cakes and drink tea from fab mis-matched china. 
Ok, and here's some more negative points for the sake of transparency:
  • Hither Green is sadly most famous for a nasty train crash which happened here in the 1967. Lots of people died.
  • Although transport links to central London are great, transport links to anywhere else are pretty poor, and it's often just easier to walk to places like Blackheath or Greenwich. But it is a lovely walk, and the view from the Greenwich Observatory is worth it (about a 40 minute walk from my flat).
  • Lack of watering holes. Hither Green was originally based around the Corbett Estate, which was built by the Scottish Presbyterian Archibald Corbett. Pubs weren't allowed back then, and sadly that theme lives on. There's really only one pub in Hither Green, and that's The Station.
Useful websites about the area:

Message-board based site which is useful if you're new to the area or looking for general information.
Lib Dem candidate for the council election for Lewisham Central, who's got his finger firmly on the Hither Green pulse.
Hasn't been updated for a while, but still gives you a good feel for the place.
Some more historical info, including rumours that Jude Law apparently grew up here.
The Blackheath Bugle
Blackheath's only up the road...
Greenwich.co.uk
And Greenwich is only a bit further...

Here's what Time Out and the Guardian have got to say about Hither Green.

This blog post has taken me a lot longer to write than I thought it would, which is testament to all the great stuff there is here, and proves how much I like living in the area. It's not - and never will be - the most happening spot in London, but after a hard day in the office, it's just so nice to be able to hop on a train to this quiet and safe area where I can relax and get an undisturbed night's sleep, yet only ever be 30 minutes away from the bright lights of the West End.

    20 comments:

    maxink said...

    Hey, really chuffed by the "useful" category.
    Those twitterers, they deserved a firm response. By the way, I can see from my stats that crazy-golfers have spotted it and yes, Hither Green will soon be to Crazy Golf what Twickenham is for rugby. And to be specific our course is a Swedish Felt.

    hayjane said...

    Hi Max! Thanks for reading. Swedish felt, eh? Like the golf enthusiast says, I guess the 'proof will be in the putting'...

    Keep up the good work!

    Rubbadub said...

    Golf is now open btw, and our Deli is reopening too...

    hayjane said...

    Hey Rubbadub - that's great news! Is there a web link for both of these?

    maxink said...

    Hi Rubbadub, what Deli is that? Is it the one next to You Don't Bring Me Flowers?
    Exciting news about the Minigolf. I was around there last week and took a few photos, it looked as if only the finishing touches were needed. I'll have to have a go.

    Anonymous said...

    Crazy golf? How have I missed that? I live just off Manor Park, but have never heard of this. Am very excited! Can someone enlighten me?
    The deli next to the flower shop? I saw that it's under new management. Will it still try to compete with the lovely flower shop or will you now be working in harmony with them? I really hope so!

    hayjane said...

    I am also crazily excited about crazy golf. I think they should do a maildrop in the local area to spread the word, and perhaps offer local people a discount / free round for their first visit.

    becksldrt said...

    LOVE the sound of the crazy golf - must give that a go. And I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph. People who ignore south east London are fools. But shhhhh! Don't tell everyone!

    Rubbadub said...

    Nope, couldn't find a URL for crazy golf nor the deli (but yes, it's the same deli, next to the florist).

    Brockley Nick said...

    Nice article - and thanks for the updates about crazy golf - this could be the biggest thing to happen to Lewisham since the Catford Cat.

    You might like to know that two other Hither Green bloggers spoke up for the pleasures of Hither Green on Brockley Central here: http://ow.ly/12eJf

    Uxbridge Plumber said...

    Sounds like a reallyu nice place. Is there any b&b's down there that I could book into for a night or 2?

    mark hg83 said...

    Just looking at all this good stuff on Hither Green thanks Hayley.
    You mention the old firemaster building having rehearsal rooms how would I find out about them ?

    hayjane said...

    Hi Mark,

    The Old Firemaster place doesn't have a great web presence unfortunately. Rooms seem to be rented out to individuals / small businesses one by one. I have my guitar lessons here: http://www.tripletmusictuition.com/tripletmusictuition.com/Home.html and Dave might be able to provide more info.

    Unfortunately I think the music practice room I used to use has now been sold (the link that used to work is now inactive). Sorry not to be more help!

    patrick said...

    Hello Hayjane. As you know a lot of Hither green, maybe you can help me... I live in Hither green, near Manor park. I'm here since one month only. I've heard it was really quiet, and that's why I decided to go for it. But since 2 weeks, there are noisy aircrafts flying every 30seconds the whole day long between 4AM To 11PM. This beautiful place become to be awfull for me. Do you know what's happening ? is it a temporary problem, or is it usually like that here. People around seems to say it's normal. I can't believe it is. I really hope it's gonna stop. My wife and my kids are arriving from France to live here in 3days. Maybe you can tell me if the aircraft noise is usual here...
    Cheers

    hayjane said...

    Hi Patrick,

    It was only when I was flying back from the USA recently that I realised that Hither Green must be on the flight path to Heathrow airport, since it was a clear morning and I could see that we must have been flying directly over my flat! Yes, there is aircraft noise here, but I would argue that it's not any worse here than it is in most areas of London, and indeed a million times better than West London where you get planes coming in to land every 15 seconds or so, and much closer to the ground.

    I've got used to the planes, and can barely hear them through my double glazing.

    What does everyone else think? Has there been an increase in the volume of aeroplanes flying over recently?

    patrick said...

    Hello Hayjane, thanks for your comment. People around here find the noise normal. I didn't complain between the 1st and 15 septembre. the noise aircraft wasn't really present. After 15 septembre the aircrafts began to fly just over my flat without stopping.
    I've found on Heathrow website that they are making maintenance that could change the normal pattern of the flights from 13 septembre until 6 weeks. I just hope we are in the new pattern and it's gonna stop in a few weeks. But as people don't feel these flights unusual, I don't have much hope. My double glazing seems to be unefficient against noise... I'm gonna wait, to see what happens...

    Tom said...

    Hi Patrick

    I'm also in the Manor Park area, and although I can't say the noise bothers me - I lived in West London, near Heathrow, for a bit, so maybe I'm immune - I've also thought that there seem to be more planes than usual at the moment.

    So, hopefully it's just that maintenance at Heathrow that you mentioned. Anyhow, welcome to the neighbourhood.

    Tom

    patrick said...

    Thank you Tom!!! Happy to hear there is something unusual!!! You're saving my mood for the removal. I'm so stressed about it. I live in Chalcroft road, and when I come at night, I have the feeling there are aircrafts non stop. But if you feel there are more often than usual... It's maybe we will be safe after the maintenance which end on 25th October.
    My next big challenge will be to get one of the good schools around for my daughters. It seems that in London you don't really have the choice of your school and they can send your kids 2 miles away... We'll see.

    hayjane said...

    Great deal on the mini golf here: https://livingsocial.com/deals/39816?ref=conf-jp&rpi=12231609

    Anonymous said...

    My husband and I have recently moved to Hither Green because of the great commute to London. He works in a bank in the city and I work in central London, and we used to spend a minimum of and hour every day getting to work from Fulham. Now from Hither Green its only 30 minutes door to door, priceless!
    We got an amazing Victorian house on the western side and have loved the area since! We found it very safe, and have great neighbours!