About New Cross

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.

About Deptford

Where we sing

Deptford and Deptford Community Choir

Deptford Community Choir sings in Deptford, a former London Borough that was subsumed into Lewisham in 1965. The Deptford Area has maintained its unique character and tradition, with the historical Deptford High street at its heart. Deptford Market is a tri-weekly event where you can buy clothes, household goods and second hand items in its junk section. People from all over London and the world come here to experience Deptford’s unique culture. Deptford Community Choir brings people together from everywhere in the area, and the members represent Deptford’s diverse history and background, which has a large population of people African and Caribbean descent.

Deptford History

The name Deptford first appeared in 1293 – when it was known as Depeford. The name refers to the crossing at Deptford Creek at the mouth of the River Ravensbourne, and simply means ‘deep ford’. In 1513, Henry VIII founded a naval dockyard in 1513, and after a hundred years, Deptford was rapidly becoming one of the country’s leading ports and a major industrial and seafaring area. Deptford was the launch site of In 1577 of Sir Francis Drake’s voyage where he sailed, via Plymouth, for a three-year circumnavigation of the globe. On this journey he claimed a portion of present-day California for Elizabeth I. Sir Francis Drake invited Queen Elizabeth the First to dine as a guest on his ship the Golden Hind, where she knighted him. The dramatist and contemporary of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe was killed in Deptford, reportedly in a bar brawl on Deptford High Street. John Evelyn a famous 17th Century Diarist came to Deptford in 1652 to live at Sayes Court, and the modern Road, Evelyn Street was named in rememberance. Evelyn rented Sayes Court to Peter the Great of Russia who he famously visited London in 1698 to study shipbuilding. A statue of Peter the Great and a dwarf of the court was erected in 1999 outside a new housing development on the site of the former Deptford Power Station. Evelyn was not the only diarist to inhabit Deptford. Samuel Pepys, best-known for his accounts of the fire of London worked in Deptford as an admiralty official.

St John’s

St John’s was the Southernmost part of the Deptford District. The area was originally known as Deptford New Town, but the church dedicated to St John, that was constructed in 1855, gave the area its contemporary name.

Maritime Decline

The Historic Deptford dockyard closed in 1869, and was replaced with a cattle market which lasted just over half a century, and closed in 1913. Deptford was extensively damaged by bombing during the Second World War and with the postwar industrial decline, Deptford underwent a long and harmful era of deterioration. The area finally saw a turn in fortunes in the final quarter of the 20th century, with a lot of new developments and extensive regenerative building, bringing new housing and business to the area, especially along the Thames where the dockyard and industrial buildings and wharfs used to stand.

About Lewisham

Where we sing

Lewisham and Deptford Community Choir

Deptford Community Choir sings in the London Borough of Lewisham. Although Deptford used to be its own district, it was amalgamated into the Borough of Lewisham in 1965. We have members from across the borough, including New Cross, St John’s, Brockley, Catford, Sydenham, and more. The borough of Lewisham is very diverse and its citizens come from all over the world. Deptford community choir brings together the residents of the Borough and creates a community and space for friendship and singing.

Lewisham History

The first records of Lewisham show that a manor existed there, the homestead of a man called Leof of Leofsa. It was granted to the Abbey of St Peter of Ghent by Elfrida, Alfred the Great’s daughter. The Domesday Book shows that there were about half a dozen mills were operating on the river in the Lewisham area. Over time, these mills performed a variety of industrial functions, including  grinding corn, steel, and for tanning leather and weaving silk. A village began to stretch along an elm-lined central road, which is now known as Lewisham High Street, and the construction of St Mary’s church began at the end of the 15the Century. King James the First was so impressed by the beauty and expanse of the settlement that he declared “On my soul, I will be king of Lusen.” (The spelling of ‘Lusen’ is not found anywhere else but the ‘s’ sound was used for centuries, and the ‘sh’ in Lewisham is much more recent development). Lewisham was well-known for its ‘healthy air’ and in the 18th century merchants began to move to the area and build their residences, but it was the arrival of the railway that saw the beginning of the borough’s development.

Victorian Era

The first lines to run were South Eastern Railway’s North Kent line that came to Lewisham in 1849, and the site of the present station is where the Mid Kent line branch was built in 1857. The Upper Middle Classes built large residences in the area with a number of cheaper housing developments for their servants and workers up until the 1870s. As the area became more crowded, the wealthy classes started to move away from busy the streets, and clerks and artisans began to move into smaller and more tightly built together housing. Nearby Ladywell began to merge with the village of Lewisham as public services and civic amenities expanded across the river Ravensbourne. Towards the end of the 19th century, many of the more historical buildings had been demolished and replaced. Lewisham had become an important transport hub with its two railway lines, and a tram and bus system. It was rapidly becoming a destination for shopping and trade.

A view of a street in Lewisham with new housing developments

20th Century and Post War

The High Street’s clock tower was built in honour of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee and a street market began in 1906, which still continues to this day selling groceries and other items. The High Street saw continued development in the early 20th century, and St Saviour’s Catholic church was completed in 1909, its iconic tower and campanile was completed two decades later.

Like Deptford and New Cross, Lewisham was bombed heavily during the Second World War, and municipal and council estates were built along the edges of the Borough. Work began in 1963 on one of the largest was the London County Council’s Orchard estate (which now falls under the jurisdiction of the Royal Borough of Greenwich). Another of Lewisham’s most iconic buildings is the Riverdale shopping centre which was built in 1977. Nowadays it is known as the Lewisham shopping centre, and new developments are nearing completion around the historic high street.