Caught between Camberwell College of Arts and Goldsmiths, University of London in New Cross, Brockley has a well-deserved arty reputation, and many people who rent in the area as students like it enough to stay on and settle.
A local treasure is the Rivoli, a rare surviving example of an intact Fifties ballroom. Its kitsch red interior brings high-profile acts and their fans to this south-east London neighbourhood. The Rivoli is where English indie rock band Florence + The Machine launched their debut album, Lungs, in 2009, while The White Stripes, Damon Albarn and Noel Gallagher have also played there in recent years.
Brockley Open Studios is an annual summer showcase when local artists open their doors to the public in picturesque mews linking the wide, tree-lined roads of Brockley conservation area.
“Very villagey and community-driven — a secret gem.” This is how estate agent Simon Smith, of the local Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward office, describes Brockley.
The neighbourhood sits six miles south-east of central London, close to the A2 and A20, with New Cross to the north, Lewisham to the east, Catford to the south and Nunhead and East Dulwich to the west.
Smith goes on: “It’s still a bit rough around the edges. We have a lot of newcomers from Clapham, Balham, Earlsfield, Southfields, even north London, and they like it that way. Nobody wants Brockley to become gentrified like East Dulwich.”
Dominating the district are two conservation areas. The Brockley conservation area has Victorian houses. These range from large, detached properties in wide, tree-lined roads including Wickham Road, Breakspears Road and Tressillian Road; to Arts & Crafts-inspired homes around Hilly Fields park, to small terrace cottages.
St John’s conservation area is far more self-contained, with streets of very similar, flat-fronted early Victorian houses.
Opposite Brockley station and close to being ready to move into, 180 Brockley Road is a mixed-use development with 25 apartments, a new Sainsbury’s Local store and two small office units.
A couple of one-bedroom homes and two flats with two bedrooms remain, with prices ranging from £400,000 to £455,000. For more details, contact Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward on 020 3486 2250.
Homes for rent
Lettings manager at KFH, Shelley Matczak, says many student renters stay in Brockley after graduating. “We also get a lot of creative people who work in Shoreditch, as it is an easy commute on the Overground.
"Families often want to rent near popular Prendergast girls’ comprehensive.”
SE4 is the Brockley postcode; it also includes Honor Oak and part of Ladywell.
Avon Road, Drake Road and Darling Road have large four-storey Victorian semi-detached houses.
Estate agent Simon Smith from the local branch of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says the step up from a two-bedroom flat in Brockley to a house could be as much as £200,000 — it’s a lot to pay and forces many families out of the area, even though they increasingly want to stay.
Up and coming
There are a number of infill council blocks in the Brockley conservation area where right-to-buy flats attract rental investors and first-time buyers.
Brockley station on the Overground has trains to Shoreditch High St and Highbury & Islington, and to London Bridge in 12-16 minutes.
Crofton Park station has Thameslink services to Blackfriars (22 mins) and St Pancras (32 mins). St John’s station trains take 11-13 minutes to London Bridge and 12-19 minutes to Cannon St. Elverson Road on the DLR has direct trains to Canary Wharf.
Brockley, St John’s and Elverson Road are in Zone 2 — annual travelcard £1,296.
Crofton Park is in Zone 3 — annual travelcard £1,520.
Lewisham council is Labour controlled, and Band D council tax for the 2015/2016 year is £1,378.66.
Shops and restaurants
Brockley has three distinct runs of shops, all of which are along, or just off, Brockley Road. These are near Crofton Park station, Adelaide Avenue and Brockley station. Saturday is a particularly sociable time, with locals making for Brockley Market in Lewisham Way for the weekend food shopping, with many stopping for breakfast or lunch at one of the food vans.
Brockley Road itself has numerous independent coffee shops that are always busy, and the Brockley station area has Browns of Brockley café, The Broca Food Market and coffee shop, and delis Dégustation and The Brockley Deli.
In the Adelaide Avenue section there is Brockley Mess, which describes itself as a café, bar and gallery; Pistachio café and two restaurants — The Gantry and The Orchard. Close to Crofton Park station, Benedict’s Coffee is new, while Arlo & Moe is a well established café. Jam Circus and The Brockley Jack are local bars that serve food, and Jones of Brockley is a new family-run gourmet grocers.
Hilly Fields park, at the heart of Brockley, has has a café, a bowling green, tennis courts, children’s playground, a monthly farmers’ market and a standing stone circle erected to celebrate the Millennium.
Ladywell Fields and Brookmill Park have the river Ravensbourne running through them and are connected to the Waterlink Way, an eight-mile pedestrian and cycle route from Sydenham to the Thames.
Leisure and the arts
The Jack Studio Theatre in The Brockley Jack pub is a leading fringe theatre which runs an annual festival of new writing. A new cinema opened in New Cross in January, a joint venture between Goldsmiths, University of London and Curzon Cinemas.
The Brockley Max is the annual community arts festival celebrating local talent, and this year it is scheduled to run from May 27 to June 4. Last year it ran in conjunction with a street art campaign to “bring back Bob” — recreating a much-loved mural of the late reggae star Bob Marley that had been destroyed to make way for new housing.
Brockley Open Studios, an annual event showcasing the work of local artists, kicks off this year with a private view on June 29 at St Peter’s Church, followed by open studio events from July 2-4.
Brockley’s state primary schools are all judged “good” or better by Ofsted. According to KFH’s Simon Smith, parents are particularly keen on Beecroft Garden Primary School in Beecroft Road, which has an “outstanding” rating, and also Gordonbrock Primary in Amyruth Road, judged “good”.
The other “outstanding” local primary schools are: John Stainer in Mantle Road; Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Temple Grove Free School in New Cross, and Stillness Infant School (ages, three to 11) in Brockley Rise.
There are three “outstanding” local comprehensive schools: Prendergast Hilly Fields (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Adelaide Avenue; Harris Girls’ Academy (ages 11 to 18) in East Dulwich, and Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College (co-ed, ages three to 18), which is now an all-through school, in New Cross. The Dulwich private schools are close by.