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  • Congested
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      12.03.2002 21:46
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      • Congested

      As no-one else has claimed New Cross for their own yet, I thought I would stamp my grubby little feet all over it. Apologies if I'm trampling over someone's patch! New Cross was the first place I lived in London, and it was certainly an interesting introduction to city life. It is in South East London, in the borough of Lewisham, and can be easily reached via Connex trains from London Bridge/Waterloo/Charing Cross/Cannon St, or from the East London Line - both trains and tubes run to the 2 stations, New Cross & New Cross Gate, which are about 10 mins walk apart. The arrival of the Jubilee Line at Canada Water (also on the EL line) has helped to improve transport in this part of town, and if the proposed extension to the EL line comes off, things will be even better, if you happen to want to travel from New Cross to Hackney/Finsbury Park in the north or Croydon/Wimbledon in the south. Bus services also serve the area well, but it is this overabundance of transport (rare for South London!) which also make New Cross a bit of a nightmare. The main drag, New Cross Road, is also the A2 which comes into London from Kent. The road is incredibly busy and always full of lorries and coaches which have presumably come off the ferry from Dover. I reckon this must make New Cross one of the most polluted and noisy parts of South London. The train line used to go right by my bedroom window, and the A2 was also on the doorstep, so I have some grounds for saying it was a thoroughly unpleasant place to live. So after all that, what's good about living in New Cross, apart from the fact that it's easy to get out of? Firstly, there is a huge Sainsbury's right next to New Cross Gate tube, and an Iceland on the main road, which at least means if you live in central New Cross you only have a little way to stagger with all those bags. Other shops in the area include a second hand furniture store, loads of takeaways and mi
      ni cab firms, a laundrette, a nice Italian deli, and a Waterstones inside Goldsmiths College. For clothes shops, Boots, cinema etc go to Surrey Quays which is 1 tube stop away. The pub I used to go to was the Goldsmith's Tavern, which looks like a scary boarded-up biker pub (probably because it is one) but it's actually OK inside, and is rumoured to be the place where Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer met, trivia fans. Other pubs include the Rosemary Branch and Hobgoblins (used to be Rose & Crown, I think) Restaurants? Err....there's a Turkish restaurant called That Turkish Place but I confess I never tried it. There are a couple of nice cafes though. If you're looking for a place with a bit more atmosphere, Deptford is just down the road - there is a fantastic market, decent Chinese restaurant, lots of 'everything a pound' shops, a swimming pool and The Albany, which is an excellent theatre/community centre. For green space, Greenwich and Blackheath are a short bus ride or long walk away, and are well-equipped with the things New Cross lacks - nice pubs, restaurants, fresh air. But, New Cross has a few secrets. Cross the road outside New Cross Gate station, turn right, then take the first left up Jerningham Road, keep walking all the way to the top and you get to Telegraph Hill. This is one of the most exclusive residential areas of New Cross, with beautiful Victorian houses, and amazing views across London from the small park. I spent many romantic evenings up there and watched the 1999 solar eclipse from the hillside - magic. New Cross is most famous for being home to Goldsmiths College, the place which thrust Damien Hirst and his Britart chums, not to mention Blur, on an unsuspecting world. I spent a year there as a postgraduate, hoping to meet lots of arty types, but Goldsmiths was far more radical than creative when I was there, with lots of protests and occupations going on - all good clean fun. The presence of Goldsmiths certainly adds a lot to New Cross - without it, I suspect the area would just be another anonymous part of surburban London. It is certainly a cheaper place to live than other studentsville parts of London (Bloomsbury for UCL, South Ken for Imperial) but suffers from being more out-of-the-way than those places. I never really felt like I was part of a student community when I lived in New Cross, but maybe undergraduates have different experiences. Would I live in New Cross again? Probably not, unless I could live in a big house overlooking Telegraph Hill. But it's cheap and cheerful if you're a student, not particularly crime-ridden or rough in my experience, and like most parts of South London, if people keep saying it's up & coming, it might happen eventually.

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