• Opinion-lead
Opinion

Opinion: Peckham isn't the next Shoreditch – it's not even easy to get a drink

Posted by James Cartwright,

This week assistant editor James Cartwright attempts to add a reality check to all the hype surrounding Peckham. As ever your comments are encouraged below…

“Pekhamania” the Evening Standard cries, “out on the town in London’s newest hotspot” – before trotting out the usual spiel about Del Boy, gun crime and how all that’s changed because of a little warehouse opposite the station that may or may not be the next Shoreditch, Hacienda and heck, why not, real-world realisation of J.G Ballard’s Cocaine Nights all rolled into one.

“Holy hell,” you’re thinking, “this sounds like the place for me!” And yes, by all accounts, this version of Peckham does sound like a magnificent sensory overload, the kind of place you’d like to end up on all your nights out for the rest of your partying days; with well-dressed twenty somethings gyrating to up-and-coming local acts, the waft of freshly-prepared street food permeating the air. “In Peckham,” they say, “there’s a whole way of life to buy into. Rather than a drink and drugs-fuelled scene, it’s a kind of anti-retirement home: a place designed to spur you back into life.”

Two years before the Evening Standard and Dazed Digital (they’re running Peckham Week this week) started going crazy for the innocuous suburb of South London I’ve called home for the past six years The Guardian was telling its readers to up sticks and move there for its “adorable streets, pop-up bars and dinky delis” clearly aiming to appeal to the Clapham crowd rather than Hoxton’s hipsters. They took the bait and rent has been on a steady rise ever since.

I’m loathe to be one of those bitter nay-sayers, griping over the popularity of an area because I might not be able to afford the rent in the next year or so, but London’s journalists really need to take a reality check before writing any more gushing endorsements of Peckham’s creative and night-time offerings: except Jay Rayner – he can wax lyrical about the two good restaurants all he wants. You can still get tables at those.

The truth is Peckham probably isn’t the utopic final destination of club culture, the hothouse of creative talent destined to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of Arts Council budget cuts, nor is it even a good place to eat a decent breakfast. There’s some great stuff going on in the evenings for sure, and there’s definitely a small creative community thriving there, but Monday to Thursday you’ll mostly find it quiet and empty, with all but one or two watering holes closed by ten – they’ve been working on extending their licences for a good few years.

You’ll have to queue for ages to drink Aperol (the new Campari) on the roof of a car park (the view IS exceptional) on the weekends, the now legendary Bussey Building often hosts nights attended by fewer than a dozen people and Canavan’s, the pool bar turned trendy club serves some of the warmest, weakest beer that’s ever passed my lips. And no cultural revolution has ever been fuelled by weak beer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Peckham, I can’t think of anywhere else in London I’d rather live. But part of its appeal is that it’s not just another night-time destination for London’s fashion conscious, it’s the perfect place to return to after you’ve done all the cool shit you had planned for the night, safe in the knowledge there’ll be any number of Morley’s and Chicken Cottage outlets still open to mitigate the next day’s hangover for the price of whatever shrapnel you’ve got left in your wallet.

comments powered by Disqus
Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    In light of our recent changes and the launch of the new-look Design Observer, Rob Alderson reflects on design websites’ redesigns. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, and we’re particularly keen to hear what you’re making of our new look!

  2. List

    This week James Cartwright wonders what the V&A is up to with its policy of “Rapid Response Collecting” and whether it really marks a shift in their curation policy. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  3. List

    This week Rob Alderson considers the aftermath of the disastrous Robin Thicke Twitter Q&A and wonders how it was ever signed off when what was going to happen seemed entirely predictable. As ever you can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below.

  4. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what makes a good group show. Are they really all they’re cracked up to be, or are they poised for failure? Tell us what you think of them and which you’ve been to that were especially brilliant or terrible in the comments section below.

  5. Main

    This week online editor Liv Siddall wonders if anyone actually enjoys the huge amount of wacky summertime events that are on offer in London. As always your comments and opinions are welcome below.

  6. Main

    This week, editor Liv Siddall gets excited about the upcoming ELCAF festival in London, and tells you all sternly why YES it is very important that we keep going to live events surrounding graphic arts and comics.

  7. Top

    This week Nat Hunter, director of design at The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) and a trustee of D&AD, welcomes awards being given to projects that make a real difference. It might mark, she believes, a fundamental shift in the design world. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  8. Main

    This week our Editorial Assistant Madeleine Morley reflects on her four weeks at It’s Nice That but wonders if the fast turnover of creative content online is really a good thing. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to join in the conversation below.

  9. Main1

    This week Apple turned down an application for an app that promotes female masturbation on the grounds that it’s inappropriate. Liv Siddall wonders whether, despite the criticism over the design of the app, that was really the issue here. As always, get involved with your own comments below.

  10. Opinion

    This week Rob Alderson looks at actors who were too good-looking for the roles they played and asks Hollywood to give viewers a bit more credit. As ever you can join the discussion below.

  11. Main

    Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.

  12. List

    We really enjoyed this year’s Pick Me Up festival (as you can see from our glowing review) but others were not so convinced. Here Lawrence Zeegen, dean of design at the London College of Communications, argues that the graphic art world needs a wake-up call.

  13. Main

    This week we are privileged to reprint some of the thoughts of branding legend Wally Olins, who died recently aged 83. Tributes poured in from across the creative industries after his death, made all the more poignant by the introduction to his book Brand New : The Shape of Brands To Come which was published only last month. He rounds off the book’s foreword saying: “I am writing about it all now, because I won’t be here to see it and listen to people telling me how wrong I was.”