My photos this month are of Dulwich Village and the Thamesmead Estate – which is where the film Clockwork Orange was shot.
Dulwich is one of the nicest and poshest suburbs in London, looking as if it were almost a completely separate town – a jewel in the crown of the London Borough of Southwark. It is almost completely white middle class – the only non-white people that I saw were two young very middle-class black ladies emerging from Pizza Express discussing what cakes they had been asked to bake for their school-fete.
Thamesmead Estate – which straddles the Boroughs of Greenwich and Bexley is really quite gruesome and one of the worst example of poor quality Town and Country Planning that I have seen. My photographs of it are some in colour and some in black and white – reflecting the gloomy mood it put me in.
Thamesmead is going to be completely re-built by the Peabody Estate over an extended period. The nearest station which is at Abbey Wood is being completely re-built as it is to become a station at the end of one of the Eastern branches of Crossrail. The station will become a double decker station so that it will achieve the height of the motorway style overpass of the A2401 – the Harrow Manor Way – which forms the main means of egress to and from the Thamesmead Estate.
At the moment, you either have to use a car or a bus or walk along the narrow pavements of the A2041 to get to the Estate. Many of the residents are poor West African immigrants and either they have to spend money on bus fares or walk with – it seemed to me – usually a kiddie push-chair along the narrow pavements of the A2041 with fast traffic zooming past.
The present residential blocks on the estate look about as welcoming as you might expect from Clockwork Orange. Indeed when they were first built all manner of problems came up – including leaking rain. Because the area was liable to flooding most of the walkways on the Estate are built at first floor level.
The Town Centre of Abbey Wood is very poor with few shops and facilities and apart from a large Sainsburys along the A2041 there is little in the way of shopping facilities. There is no sign of the gentrification or middle-class-isation (if there were such a phrase), despite Crossrail, in Abbey Wood and so even with the re-building of Thamesmead it will be a long time before this part of London becomes a “desirable” area.
I did not enjoy Abbey Wood and the Thamesmead Estate and was glad to leave it, not because I felt in any way threatened, but because it was so very depressing.