Classy Deptford BBC

The Secret History of  Our Streets BBC2

This was a partial documentary completely from the viewpoint of the better-off shopkeepers on the High Street.
It completely ignored the council estates such as Crossfields, which already existed all around. Judging by this documentary, Deptford was a battle between brutal concrete and cosy Mews Cottages. And, by the way, all immigrants are mad old men perpetually on the arsehole.
The reality of Deptford in the 70’s was very different. And whatever the reason for the slum clearances, it had nothing to do with providing housing, and still less communities, and everything to do with money. But the film never bothered to follow the money trail or mention who profited most from the contracts. It certainly wasn’t Lewisham council.
And on the class issue, clearly a businessman with a range of shops and owning half the street is not working class anymore, no matter how flat his cap. And in this case, the community in point was not as spotless and pure as implied, by a long shot. And the area was not as pristine. The combined mercies of the Luftwaffe and the Glorious Free Market had left it in a terrible state. And the community had been corrupted by the organised crime network born out of the war. Good Old Spud Murphy and the boys of the Glass Factory.
The documentary totally ignored these factors, and the role of popular community action in Deptford to revitalise the area, as embodied in projects like the Albany and the Moonshot and the vast network of adventure playgrounds which exploited the many derelict sites on the area during the early to late 70s. All of which were either destroyed in the rash of suspicious fires after the NF march through Lewisham, or bulldozed in the name of building contracts. Probably the same contractors who demolished desirab le Reginald Street. But we were never told. And no attempt made to discover who would benefit most from the alleged Plot to ethnically cleanse Deptford. So was the film implying that there was corruption? It was a shame we never got to see the details because that would begin to offer a serious examination of how the property market operates. Mere Bauhaus-Bashing isn’t enough.

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1 Comment

  1. We never got to see the details because the programme makers could not be bothered to do any proper research. The documents they ‘discovered’ were written about by Jess Steele nearly 20 years ago.

    It was not the shopkeeper who owned half the street, but his family. The programme led people to believe that it was possible to buy half a street on the proceeds of 2 or 3 market stalls. If the programme makers had invested in a researcher then he / she would have quickly found a more plausible source of the family’s wealth. See Deptford – Secret History or A Fisherman’s Tale –


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