Monday, 26 October 2015

In search of a chip shop

I suppose I had better explain. The V&A has an exhibition called The Tower of Babel, by an artist called Barnaby Barford. In short, he has cycled around London photographing clocks, getting the photos made into china models, and then creating a tower (see below).

If we want to see it you need to get a wiggle on as it closes on 1 November.

 Each of the model shops in the tower are available for sale, so I thought I would buy one. And as I also photograph fish and chip shop signs, I decided to buy the one below.

So I thought it only right and proper to visit the actual shop, which according to the V&A website is at 316 Lee High Road. Which meant a trip down to Lewisham.

The first task on arriving at Lewisham station was to find the right road to head down. Probably no easy task at the best of times as this part of town is dominated by a traffic gyratory system, but made worst by said gyratory being dug up, making pedestrian routes tortuous and confused, and with visibility reduced by the onset of rain.
So a quick visit to the Lewisham Shopping Centre was called for, which was rewarded by the sight of this clock.

I like this clock because of its simple honesty, a design that fits well with the shopping centre. Too many of these modern mall have retro clocks (usually Victorian) rather than being brave and going with the contemporary. So well done Lewisham Shopping Centre, and well done to the security guards who happily gave me permission to take photos.

A bit of internet research reveals there was once a clock which was linked to a series of models of local characters who came out from behind doors on the hour. From the comments on the Transpontine blog ( it seems that was in equal measure fascinating and scary to young children. the current clock is probably neither.
Outside it was still raining, but I needed to press on. Amongst the jumble of market stalls, shops, people and rain, you can see the Lewisham clock tower which stands on the junction with Lewisham High Street and Lee High Road.

The tower is one of many similar ones erected around the country to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. The tower, constructed of Portland stone, was listed in 1973.

And the good old internet research shows that the excellent Caroline's Miscellany blog ( got here first in November 2009.

After the tower, the clock hunting took a turn for the worst. The Dirty South building along Lee High Road does indeed have a clock, but it was largely obscured by scaffolding.

But this disappointment is made up by crossing the Greenwich Meridian, as this plaque in the pavement testifies.

A bit further along you can glimpse a clock on a building set back a long way from the road. This provided a lesson in how not to take photographs at distant buildings through a chain link fence in the pouring rain, as illustrated by these blurred pictures.

The building turns out to be the Merchant Taylor's alms houses.

And so on to the chip shop. The shop frontage on the model is clearly an as - is photograph, but a great deal of liberties have been taken with the rest of the building.

But hey, get on down there (316 Lee High Road) and buy some fish and chips.

And finally, a bit further on and left at the junction with The Old Tigers Head and The New Tigers Head pubs, Lee Road leads you to  what is now blackheath interiors, but was once Ron Pemberton insurance brokers.

I love this clock and its old fashion sign.