What’s it all about?
Once best known as the down at heel home of sitcom legends Del Boy and Rodney Trotter, Peckham has undergone significant regeneration in the past 20 years. Galleries, restaurants and trendy bars have popped up alongside multicultural grocery stores, market traders and high street offerings. A £290 million regeneration plan during the late 1990s, coupled with an influx of artists and improvements to transport links have had a profoundly positive impact in the area. Only a few steps away from the bustle of Peckham’s main shopping street, Rye Lane, there are quiet streets of charming Victorian houses offering easy access to local trains and buses, and there is plenty of green space, too, with Peckham Rye and Burgess Park both close by. A mix of property types attracts a wide variety of residents, from City workers taking advantage of the reasonable journey times, to families looking to buy a larger property in an area that gives good value for money and younger couples keen to benefit from the always evolving range of eating, drinking and nightlife options.
- During the 18th century Peckham was known as a market garden town and produced figs, melons and grapes.
- In 1851 Thomas Tilling set up an innovative omnibus service from Peckham to London. Tilling’s buses were the first to use pre-arranged bus stops, which helped them to run to a reliable timetable.
- Famous natives of Peckham include Frankenstein actor Boris Karloff and footballer Rio Ferdinand.
Architecture and property
Peckham’s development up to the 1860s took place in two areas: to the north, impressive villas and terraces in the area near the Old Kent Road, and to the south large houses built in prime locations near Peckham Rye. A new district called Peckham New Town was built on land owned by the Hill family, centred on Peckham Hill Street. The second phase was sparked by the coming of public transport - railways and, more importantly, horse trams in the 1870s. This stimulated building of a more modest scale in almost any open space.There are still Victorian and Edwardian banks, pubs and public buildings, adapted Georgian houses with substantial Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century retail development. The west side of Peckham Hill Street is an almost unspoilt late Georgian development and there is a small pocket of quaint cottages in Choumert Square, just off Rye Lane.
Peckham North, between Peckham High Street and the Old Kent Road, has benefited from regeneration and is a bustling melting pot of a neighbourhood with lots of flats, colourful shops and houses. Peckham Conservation Area, around Bellenden Road, lures house hunters with attractive Victorian architecture. Further south, Nunhead is a family orientated area with several good primary schools and good sized family houses.
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Eating: Over the past decade new eateries have opened at a rate of knots, with dining options ranging from the Peckham Bazaar, with its pan Balkan menu, via south Indian specialists Ganapati, to Thai at the Begging Bowl in Bellenden Road. Pedler on Peckham Rye with its gut-busting brunch options, changing seasonal dinner menu and excellent cocktails has fast become a local favourite.
Drinking: Frank’s Bar on the top floor of a multi-storey car park has become well known for its cocktails and extraordinary views over London in the spring and summer months. Bar Story, behind Peckham Rye station, is popular with locals and can get very busy at the weekends. If you’re looking for something more traditional, head for the Montpelier which is tucked away on a quiet street, and has a broad range of beers and a 30-seat cinema tucked into a back room. The Rye and The Victoria, area also local favourites for its delicious and traditional pub grub.
Film: One of the best kept secrets in London is the Peckham Plex, which shows the latest blockbusters as well as lesser known films, and prices all its tickets at a very reasonable £4.99 per person.
Nightlife: The hub of nightlife in the area is the CLF Art Cafe at the Bussey Building, with a cafe and bar, record store, regular club nights, a full programme of theatrical events and film screenings on the roof.
Culture: The South London Gallery offers a wide range of exhibition, events and talks, as well as activities for kids to enjoy while their parents take stock in the light and airy No 67, the gallery’s cafe and bar.
- The imposing Peckham Library won the 2000 Stirling Award for architectural innovation, and offers baby and toddler reading sessions, as well as a knitting club.
- Review is a bookshop with a difference, offering greetings cards, gifts and a dog-friendly space to browse. It has also been the driving force behind the Peckham Literary Festival.
- For an old-fashioned feel but with all the latest food trends, head to The General Store, with its range of artisan breads, cheeses, beers and wine. Or if your tastes run to the more exotic, try Persepolis for all things Persian.
- There is a chance to pick up something delicious at the Peckham Farmers Market every Sunday, before stocking up on the staples at the large Asda store on Rye Lane. There are also branches of Morrisons and Lidl close by.
- If vintage clothing is more your thing, pop into JH Beulah in Bellenden Road, where Jemima Beulah’s bespoke designs sit alongside her creations from recycled materials.
- The Peckham Pulse offers a state of the art gym, swimming pool, indoor cycle studio, as well as providing creche facilities.
Peckham Rye is central to the area and comprises two large green spaces: the wilder common to the north and the park to the south. The newly refurbished Victorian park features ornamental gardens, streams and woodland, as well as a cafe and adventure playground. Peckham also borders Burgess Park, which at 56 hectares is Southwark’s largest green space and provides football pitches, cricket pitches and a large playground, as well as a BMX track. Also well worth a visit is Nunhead Cemetery, with its magnificent Victorian monuments and war graves. The Friends of Nunhead Cemetery offer guided tours.
Local community action group Peckham Vision has been working with Southwark Council on projects to enhance the local area, including plans to recreate the public square in front of the railway station.
Rail: Queens Road Peckham and Peckham Rye stations have regular services to London Bridge (10 and 12 minutes respectively), as well as being on the London Overground network. Peckham Rye also offers regular services to Victoria in 12 minutes.
Bus: There are a plethora of buses that go through Rye Lane, including 37 (to Putney), 343 (to City Hall), 63 (King’s Cross), 484 (to Lewisham) and 12 (to Oxford Circus).
Road: The roads tend to be busy in this area and most locals prefer to use public transport. The M25 is about 45 minutes away for those travelling further afield.
Cycle: There are dedicated covered cycle stands at Peckham Rye station, monitored by CCTV. Peckham Cycle Club is a local group that offers group ride outs for all standards, from beginners to experienced riders.
Getting away: Gatwick is about an hour away by car, or easily accessible by train via Clapham Junction.
Peckham offers the full range of education options, and there is a variety of specialist schools both here and in the surrounding areas. John Donne Primary (an academy converter), Harris Primary Academy Peckham Park and St Mary Magdalene are all popular choices. For education from primary to sixth form, there is Haberdashers Aske’s Hatcham College, a specialist music and ICT school in New Cross, while local secondary schools Harris Academy Peckham and Highshore School in nearby Camberwell are also local favourites. For faith school options, the Catholic boys’ secondary school St Thomas the Apostle College has a good reputation. There is also easy access to the well established independent schools in Dulwich such as James Allen’s Girls’ School and Dulwich College. There are also several special schools such as Tuke School, which specialises in teaching children with physical disabilities.
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