Forty years of The Peckham Society

A brief history of Peckham Society activities since its foundation in 1975 plus significant events in Peckham and Nunhead during that time.

1975 The Peckham Society was launched with Bob Smyth as the first chairman.
1977 Peckham Action Group (PAG) set up by Eileen Conn, then Secretary of the Peckham Society, to campaign (1978-1982) against Southwark Council’s plan to demolish the north side of Peckham High Street, from Peckham Road to the Post Office and build a huge town hall and four-lane road. Campaign was successful and PAG was called the ‘fighting’ wing of the Peckham Society!
1977 Clifton Crescent; architectural award
1977 Campaign for restoration of chapel in Licensed Victuallers’ Asylum.
1978 May. Ron Woollacott elected chairman and served until November 1982.
1980 Jones & Higgins and Co-operative House closed – largest shops in Peckham. Jones & Higgins reopened as The Houndsditch.
1981 Campaign against proposal for a Recreation Centre on Lido site – this was eventually built near Clayton Road.
1981 Friends of Nunhead Cemetery (FONC) formed.
1982 Unsuccessful campaign to list 1930s Sainsbury’s at 61-63 Rye Lane.
Multi-storey car park built after years of opposition from local residents in Moncrieff St whose houses were demolished to make way for it, and from the Peckham Action Group (PAG).
1982 Camberwell Beauty – large tile mosaic butterfly (trademark of Samuel Jones) under threat of being broken up. Saved and moved to former public baths in Wells Way.
1985 April. Peckham Society relaunched with Nicholas Reed as Chairman.
1985 Rioting. Shop at 103 Peckham High Street burnt out. Former Jones and Higgins building demolished apart from clock tower.
1986 Peckham Leisure Centre opened.
1987 Peckham Rye Lido closed.
1988 July 21. Aylesham Centre opened by Princess Margaret on site of demolished Jones & Higgins department store.
1989 May. Vivien Gibson elected Chairman.
1989 Wildlife Garden Centre opened in Marsden Road. Plaque unveiled on Christ Church, McDermott Road, commemorating first sermon broadcast by radio in Britain.
1989 February. The King’s Cross Bill proposed to back BR’s plan to build a substation under Warwick Gardens, Peckham as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, blighting the area for years to come. 7 February PEARL (Peckham against the Rail Link) and NARRL (Nunhead Action for Road and Rail) were set up. Vivien Gibson joined PEARL as the PS rep and Gill Frost joined NARRL. They attended the monthly committee meetings and reported back to the PS Committee.
1990 Opposition to Flaxyard’s ‘Peckham Pomp’ scheme on the north side of Peckham High Street. This was to include a 6-storey building resembling the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
1990 April. Peter Frost, the current Chairman, elected.
1990 April 20. The Peckham Society formally petitioned Parliament against the Rail Link. As the amenity society for SE15 it was the only organisation entitled to do this. Three representatives went before a parliamentary select committee to state Peckham’s case. In October 1991 the route was changed to go through Stratford and plans for Peckham were abandoned.
1994 Peckham Rye Park Centenary celebrated by the Peckham Society.
1994 Austin’s, one of Europe’s largest antique dealers, closed. Peckham Square and Peckham Premier Cinema opened.
1995 Seven-year £260 million programme to transform north Peckham began.
1996 June 20. Organised public meeting against the use of Lido site as a go-kart track.
1997 Peckham Pulse opened.
1997 Ten-year Bellenden Renewal Area programme began. Bellenden Road Regeneration led to gentrification of Peckham south of the railway.
1999 Entrance to former Tower Cinema renovated. Former steam bus garage in Nunhead demolished but campaign to retain a clock tower successful.
2000 Saturday 7 October. Peckham Society Silver Jubilee celebrated.
2000 Peckham Library opened and won the Stirling Prize for Architecture.
2001 North Peckham Estate demolished and development to replace with low level housing started.
2005 January 12. Organised public meeting on the use of Lido site as City Farm.
2005 Royal Co-Op demolished. Society involved in consultation over replacement building.
2008 Frank’s Café opened on top of the multi-storey car park.
2008 Livesey Museum in Old Kent Road closed by Southwark Council.
2010 16 July. Following campaigns by Peckham Vision with Rye Lane & Station Action Group and the Peckham Society the Old Waiting Room/ Old Billiard Hall in Peckham Rye Station restored to useable condition.
2011 October. Southwark Council finally designated all of the town centre as the Rye Lane Conservation Area. The Peckham Society had campaigned for this since 2004.
2012 December. The Overground reached Peckham.
2013 April 19. First Peckham Society blue plaque unveiled to commemorate William Harnett Blanch, author of Ye Parish of Camerwell.
2014 May 17. Second Peckham Society blue plaque unveiled in Elm Grove to commemorate William Griggs, the lithographer.
2015 October 7. 40th Anniversary Celebration.

(Reprinted from: The Peckham Society News, the quarterly magazine of The Peckham Society. This is sent to members every spring, summer, autumn and winter. Back issues, where available, are available for £2.00 inc. p&p or 6 for £10.00.)