Forest Unfiltered






40 Years of Hurt

Prejudice and Prohibition

Road To Ruin?

Search This Site
The Pleasure of Smoking

Forest Polling Report

Outdoor Smoking Bans

Plain Packaging

Share This Page
Powered by Squarespace
« Tonight’s the night | Main | Velvet Glove Iron Fist - tenth anniversary »

Memories of Camberwell (and Chiswick)

Thanks to Boris Johnson’s neighbours Camberwell is suddenly in the spotlight.

I know the area because I lived there for five years from 1987 when I bought a house in Camberwell Grove with a friend.

Peter had previously lived up the road in Kennington and in four years had made £40,000 on a two-bedroom flat overlooking the Oval cricket ground.

He still couldn’t afford the four-storey Camberwell town house he wanted to buy so he suggested I make up the difference, which gave me a 25 per cent share of the house.

I was 28 and this was my first step on the property ladder. The house was in need of a little care and attention but it was far beyond what I could have hoped to buy on my own.

Two years earlier I had considered buying a one-bedroom flat in Chiswick for £48,000. Now, here I was, part-owner of four-bedroom Georgian townhouse valued at £150,000 for which we paid £175,000!

Camberwell Grove, as its name suggests, was a tree-lined avenue and one of the nicest roads in the area. As we discovered, this made it a target for burglars.

On one occasion I arrived home late at night - Peter was away on business - to find the house surrounded by policemen.

They had been tipped off that intruders had broken in and I wasn’t allowed in until they were sure no-one was in the house.

I think we lost a television and a VHS recorder but it could have been worse.

Another time I arrived home, I heard someone moving around upstairs and called up, assuming it was Peter.

Seconds later a man rushed down the stairs, pushed past me and ran out on to the street. I don’t know how long he had been there but nothing appeared to have been stolen.

Later, however, I lost my prized Fiesta XR2 to another thief. One minute it was sitting outside our front door. A few days later, when I returned from a short break, it had disappeared, never to be seen again.

It’s replacement, another XR2 (albeit a different model), very nearly went the same way. Fortunately, having broken in to it by smashing the rear window, the would-be thieves couldn’t get the car started - a recurring problem with that vehicle that ultimately worked to my advantage.

They did however take the spare wheel. I hope they got a good price for it.

Despite that, I was happy in Camberwell. The area wasn’t great but the size and character of the house made up for it. It even had a roof terrace although when the sun came out it was usually too hot to spend much time up there.

Unfortunately, soon after we bought it - at the height of the housing boom - the market collapsed and when I moved out, after getting married in 1992, the house was worth less than we (over)paid for it and instead of making money on my share I had to buy myself out.

Oh well.

Update: I was in Chiswick only last weekend and passed the road, just off the High Street, where I nearly bought that flat in 1985.

One-bedroom apartments in that same road are currently on the market for £500,000, which is far more than my current four-bedroom house in Cambridgeshire is worth!

I also walked past the Barley Mow Centre, formerly the Barley Mow Workspace, where I worked as a freelance journalist/researcher from 1986 to 1990.

It was a great place to work because it brought together in one building an incredibly eclectic group of people, some working for themselves, others running small businesses.

One of the latter was a catering company that ran the canteen where we could meet and chat over lunch.

I loved working there although the ‘commute’ from Camberwell to Chiswick became a bit of a pain. (When I started at the Barley Mow I lived a mile away, in Ravenscourt Park.)

Eventually it was easier to work from home in Camberwell. It also deterred burglars because we had no more break-ins after that.

Below, top to bottom: (1) The Barley Mow Centre in Chiswick where I worked from 1986-1990; (2) The road in Chiswick where I could have bought a one-bedroomed flat for £48,000 in 1985; (3) Ravenscourt Park Road where I rented a studio flat from 1985-1986. I had to move out after an incident involving a Christmas pudding that went up in smoke.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>