I went for a walk along the Thames to central London yesterday – the first time I’ve done that in about 14 years, I reckon. (For the record, it took about five hours to stroll from Charlton to Soho via Greenwich Park, Deptford High Street, the Rotherhithe peninsula and the Millennium Bridge, not including a short stop to watch the end of Newcastle’s Premier League career in the only Bermondsey pub not containing punch-drunk Millwall fans.) Not something I’d planned to do, but I was due to meet some pals in the West End, had walked to the Last Orders exhibition at the Gallop gallery (ta Deptford Dame), and it was such a nice day I decided to extend my stroll.
The last time I walked into town, it was out of neccessity – I had 90p to my name and used that to take a bus home. But, by chance, I popped into a pub on the route to enquire about a job behind the bar – and ended up working there for a year. This stroll was less life-changing, but it was intriguing to see how much had changed on the route – the destruction of Chambers Wharf came as a surprise to me.
But another hardy icon of SE16 has also bitten the dust – no, not Downtown restaurant!
I remember, for some reason, this being a big deal when it opened – early 1980s? In fact, before the arrival of Surrey Quays shopping centre, wasn’t there an attempt to rebrand the Surrey Docks area as “Downtown”? I was always surprised to see it still open; I’ve no idea how long it’s been shut for, but a it looks like a relic of early Docklands optimism has gone forever. If anyone knows any more about this place, I’d love to hear it.