Deptford: A Cultural Guide

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Image © David Harvey via Flickr

The best things to do in Deptford, from dinner inside a big red bus to dancing in The Job Centre.

The New York Times may have once labelled Deptford an ‘inglorious corner of the South East’ but we couldn’t agree less. Our latest cultural guide is dedicated to all things SE8, and trust us, there’s plenty of glorious things to find creek side…

Where to drink

Of course, like any part of London, Deptford has its fair share of pubs. But unlike one of the many traditional local haunts in town, one of Deptford’s favourite boozers The Birds Nest is also home to a hostel and an art gallery, as well as holding regular gigs and busking nights. The Birds Nest is well known for its musical connections and has played host to gigs from famous Deptford natives Dire Straits and Squeeze.

Halfway up Deptford high street in an ex-employment agency office is the aptly named The Job Centre. With a bar and dining area at street level and an events space upstairs, it’s great for meeting for a drink with friends as well as a lively night out. They run monthly jazz nights, blues nights and northern soul nights and even a vinyl only 80s night on the second Saturday of the month.

What to eat

Deptford is home to perhaps the most unusual restaurant in south east London, The Big Red. It’s literally a big red London double decker bus that has been converted into a one of a kind restaurant. It used to be famous for its pizzas, but is now home to Austrian-influenced pop up eatery Wünderlust, who are in residency until the end of 2016. The menu is full of delicious comfort food, including wood-baked Camembert, a Kent charcuterie and also yummy German street food such as bratwurst and sauerkraut.

If you’re after something a little more traditional then Little Nan’s afternoon tea offering might be the perfect cosy option. Currently in a recent Deptford hiatus (with bars in Nunhead and Shoreditch), Little Nan’s will be returning to its permanent home in SE8 from May and with the traditional high tea menu, including vintage inspired cakes and afternoon tea cocktails.

Nights out

Walk down Deptford Broadway and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the doorway to the Bunker Club. Having served Deptford’s nightlife for over twenty years, this no-fuss club plays good music and serves reasonably priced drinks to locals and students of nearby Goldsmith’s.

Things to do

According to their website, Lewisham borough was one of only two London boroughs with no dedicated cinema, so the guys behind the Deptford Cinema decided to change this. The cinema, located on Deptford Broadway, is a non-profit venue and has a 40-seat screen dedicated to programming what the local people want to see. Ticket prices range between £3.50 to £5.00 and upcoming showings include a J. G. Ballard season to celebrate the release of the upcoming film adaptation of the author’s novel High-Rise.

Cultural highlights

Just off Deptford high street is multipurpose arts centre The Albany. Arguably the heart of the community in Deptford, The Albany is home to two studio theatres, a bar, a café and numerous rehearsal spaces. Their regular programme is full of great quality music performances and theatre shows for adults as well as children, which take place in their 600 standing performance space.

Another arts organisation, this time located on the fringes of Deptford, is the Laban Building, part of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and home to the Laban Theatre. The theatre’s Bonnie Bird auditorium plays host to a variety of performances from local groups and Trinity Laban students, as well as having hosted prestigious touring contemporary dance companies such as Candoco Dance Company and the Akram Khan Company.