A Peckham Poem

A Study of Diversity and Transformation in South East London

Peckham is a neighbourhood of South East London, it takes it’s name from The Peck, a stream that runs through the area, mostly culverted underground, to the Thames.
Peckham was once the last stopping place before the London markets for Kent farmers driving their cattle for sale.
In recent years Peckham has been mostly synonymous with poverty, crime and failing housing estates, an impression popularised by the 80’s sit com Only Fools and Horses which revolved around the Trotter families living selling ‘hookie’ goods at Peckham Market. The low point for Peckham in the national psyche came in November 2000 when 10 year old Damilola Taylor was killed near his home on The North Peckham Estate. At the time of his death it was only 3 months since he arrived with his family from Nigeria.

Peckham’s diverse and vibrant community is now going through a huge transformation that is seeing it become a desirable centre for art, culture and cuisine whilst at the same time retaining the gritty and authentic street life of African markets and shops for which it is famous.

With this Street Photography project I have tried to capture the present whilst referencing the past and alluding to the possible future round the corner. This is the perfect time to see Peckham transforming in front of our eyes.

  Construction begins on ‘Wooddene’, a new residential development of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments on Queens Road, Peckham.

  A childrens toy car is abandoned on a housing estate in Peckham.

 The glass facade of Peckham Library, protected by a wall of wire mesh which opened in 2000 winning the Sterling Prize for Architecture in the same year. The Library and it’s public square that now hosts farmers markets, has become a symbol of the promise of things to come in Peckham.
£290 million has been spent on regenerating five ‘sinkhole’ Peckham estates, Sumner, North Peckham, Willowbrook, Gloucester Grove and the Camden Estate.

 A new commercial art gallery has it’s launch on Rye Lane, the space was previously an Employment and Training centre.

 
The window of a Tailor and Dry Cleaners on Rye Lane that has been run by the same family for 60 years

 An Exhibition by Katharina Grosse at The South London Gallery in Peckham

 
← Shiny new shutters catch the winter sun on Rye Lane, the commercial heart of Peckham.

 

 To the west of Rye Lane is the newly desirable Bellenden Road area where restaurants, gastro pubs and architects offices have appeared. The street is lined by bollards designed by the sculptor Anthony Gormley and murals adorn the sides of several buildings. This mural alludes to Peckhams pastoral beginnings.

 Behind Peckham Library a site formerly belonging to a timber yard is being turned into the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts which will become the leading academy in excellence, social access and innovation in training for the creative industries and should open in the autumn of 2018.

↑ A fixed wheel bicycle in the winter sun outside the Nags Head Pub at the bottom of Rye Lane. The Nags Head featured heavily in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ although the whole series was actually filmed in Bristol.