Where we sing

New Cross and Deptford Community Choir

The New Cross area has a rich musical history and tradition and the choirs songs and music reflects the different musical and cultural influences of the area. New Cross is categorised by the Office of National Statistics as Multicultural Metropolitan: Inner City. It has a very diverse population and the choir reflects, with people coming from a huge variety of different backgrounds. Singers in Deptford Community Choir are lawyers, students, artists, City Professionals, musicians, to name a few professions. Many black people settled in New Cross in the first half of the 20th century. The first migrants came from the Caribbean but over time, many people moved there from Africa. Deptford Community Choir’s members represent these demographics and we sing songs that these traditions have brought to the music scene in New Cross. Our members can trace their heritage to Ghana, Italy, Germany, wales, Holland, the USA, China, and many other countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Asia. The New Cross scene (or NXS) was a rock music vogue that flourished briefly here in the early 21st-century, primarily because several pubs in the area regularly hosted live music performances by unsigned artists, which in turn related to the local presence of Goldsmiths. Bloc Party and Art Brut were among the bands described as having emerged from the New Cross scene.

A night shot of Hatcham House

New Cross History

New Cross was at the cross­roads of the Kent and Surrey border. A New Cross Heath was recorded in the 15th century, when the surrounding area was still heavily wooded. The New Cross area itself was once known as Hatcham. An ancient and important road from London to Dover and Canterbury, runs through the area and in the 18th century travellers using the road paid tolls at the junction of Queens Road and New Cross Road. The road is now called the A2. Two City guilds have had a defining influence on New Cross. The Worshipful Company of Haber­dashers bought a lot of the land in 1614 as a way to support its charity worked. In the seventeen hundreds, the company allowed its members and other gentlemen to rent and lease large houses. In the middle of the 19th Century, the land was built on more heavily after the railway arrived. The Royal Naval School which opened in 1843 was subsequently taken over by the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891. The institute has now become the well-known arts college, Goldsmiths, University of London. Deptford Town Hall, dating back to 1907, has maritime sculptures and carvings that celebrate the former borough’s seafaring history. Another New Cross landmark, the Super Kinema, opened in 1925 and is now The Venue nightclub.

Twentieth Century and Music

During the Second World War, New Cross was bombed heavily, and a lot of 19th century housing was destroyed. The remaining Victorian housing has been subdivided into flats. The 1970s saw a new building boom with many council houses and new houses being built in the area and around the 15-acre Fordham Park. Former New Cross residents have included Sir Barnes Wallis, who designed the bouncing bomb used in the ‘Dambusters’ raid in the Second World War, and the actor Gary Oldman, who was born here in 1958. Carter USM’s ‘The Only Living Boy in New Cross’ was a top ten hit in 1992.

New Cross Fire Aftermath

New Cross Fire

A dark chapter in New Cross’ history was the New Cross Fire that took place in 1981. Fourteen black young people died in a fire during a house party in New Cross Road. The police repeatedly disregarded the possibility of a racist arson attack which resulted in 15,000 people march through London to protest. In 2006 the families held a private remembrance and memorial service to commemorate the fire’s 25th anniversary. Goldsmith’s University and The mayor of Lewisham created a commemorative bursary scheme for students.