Living in Deptford: area guide to homes, schools and transport links

·8-min read
 (Daniel Lynch)
(Daniel Lynch)

Deptford is a place where several worlds collide and for many Londoners, this is the city they celebrate.

One of London’s most historic corners, Deptford is the site of Henry VIII’s royal dockyard, founded in 1513, where Queen Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake in 1581 after he circumnavigated the globe aboard the Golden Hind.

But slip under the arch beneath the historic carriageway that once delivered passengers to the station gates, and it is like stepping into a parallel universe, where you’ll understand immediately why The Times picked this as one of the areas supplanting Hackney in hip Londoners’ affections.

There’s a market with a touch of the car boot sale about it where a group of Somali women are spied rummaging for a bargain in a suitcase full of brightly coloured remnants.

 (Daniel Lynch)
(Daniel Lynch)

Nearby, the 17th-century diarist John Evelyn created a famous garden in the grounds of his house, Sayes Court, where the young Peter the Great of Russia, in Deptford to study shipbuilding, wrecked a fine holly hedge in 1696, crashing through it in a wheelbarrow in a drunken episode.

A strong sense of history inspires civic pride in many Deptford residents. When the pavements at the end of Deptford High Street were dug up, the landmark anchor, a reminder of the area’s maritime past, was removed and many feared it would never return.

A campaign was launched and now the anchor is back at the junction of Deptford Broadway.

DeptfordFolk, the park users’ group for Deptford Park and Folkestone Gardens, has planted 200 trees in memory of the 200th anniversary of the publication of John Evelyn’s diaries and helped win funding of £2.9 million from the Mayor of London’s liveable neighbourhoods fund to make north Deptford’s streets safer for walking and cycling.

Estate agent Daniel Thomas from the local branch of Keatons describes Deptford as “up and coming” and one of the most affordable districts in Zone 2. A lot of his buyers are first-timers.

One subject on Thomas’s mind, however, is the giant Thames-side Convoys Wharf development. The Hong-Kong based developer, Hutchison Whampoa, has had planning permission for a mixed-use project with up to 3,500 new homes plus the renovation of the listed Victorian Olympia warehouse since March 2014.

Work finally began on the first homes in November 2021.

The property scene

Deptford has some Georgian houses including a fine terrace with decorative wooden porches in Albury Street off the High Street next to St Paul’s, the fine 18th-century Baroque parish church designed by gentleman architect Thomas Archer.

The St John’s conservation area has small two- and three-bedroom flat-fronted Victorian terrace houses and in the north Deptford area there are roads of slightly larger, bow-fronted Victorian houses in the roads around Deptford Park.

There are also “right-to-buy” flats on the many estates of social housing. and plenty of new flats built over the last five years.

Houses in the St John’s conservation area that are currently for sale range in price from £600,000 to £725,000. Victorian houses in Scawen Road, overlooking Deptford Park, are for sale for £735,000 and £900,000.

What's new?

The Timberyard is a scheme of 1,132 homes plus shops, restaurants and flexible workspace for start-ups in Grove Street, in what the developer Lendlease describes as six thriving neighbourhoods between Pepys Park and Deptford Park.

Deptford Foundry by Anthology in Arklow Road has 316 one-, two- and three-bedroom flats, of which 40 are affordable, with artists’ workspaces in eight buildings of five to eight storeys and a 22-storey tower. All flats have a balcony or terrace.

One-bedroom flats start at £385,000; two-bedroom flats at £510,000 and three-bedroom flats at £732,000. Call 020 7526 9229.

Renting

Summer is traditionally a busy time for Deptford rentals, with university students from Goldsmiths in New Cross and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in Deptford looking for flats for the next academic year.

The area also attracts renters who work in Canary Wharf and the City, both easy to get to on public transport.

Staying power

Keatons estate agent Daniel Thomas says many students end up staying in Deptford and buying a home after they have finished their studies.

Postcode

SE8 is the Deptford postcode and stretches south to include the St John’s conservation area; on its southwestern border it merges with SE14, the New Cross postcode.

Best roads

The Georgian terrace of Albury Street. When it comes to the many recent developments, Daniel Thomas rates Tinderbox House overlooking Deptford Market Yard.

Travel

There are quick and convenient connections to the City and Canary Wharf. Trains from Deptford take eight minutes to London Bridge, 14 minutes to Cannon Street or Blackfriars, 19 minutes to Farringdon and 23 minutes to St Pancras.

St John’s station has trains to London Bridge in 10 minutes and Cannon Street in 16 minutes. Deptford Bridge and Elverson Road are on the DLR with direct trains to Canary Wharf.

All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,364. A Zone 2-only travelcard, ie for Canary Wharf on the DLR, is £1,020.

Lifestyle

Shops and restaurants

Deptford’s main shopping street is along the High Street which runs north to south between Evelyn Street and the A2 at Deptford Broadway.

It is a typical mix of cafés, nail bars, phone shops and betting shops with branches of Iceland, Poundland, Asda and Costa Coffee, but interspersed with independent newcomers.

There is also a market selling everything from fresh fish, fruit and vegetables to haberdashery and clothing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Just off the High Street, the Douglas Way market is famous for its bric-a-brac selection of new and second-hand goods.

Buster Mantis is a bar, restaurant and gallery specialising in Caribbean food and drink, both in Resolution Way in the arches off the High Street.

Back in the High Street Kids Love Ink is a tattoo parlour; Rag n’ Bone is the retail outlet of Chris Carey’s Collections, the textile recycling company, selling vintage clothing; The Waiting Room is a coffee shop with a vegan and vegetarian menu; two pie and mash shops Manze’s and Goddard’s; Deli X is a delicatessen and café; Isla Ray is a café and bar serving brunch, lunch and a sharing menu at night; and London Velo is a bike shop and café. Marcella is an Italian restaurant, a sister to highly rated Artusi in Peckham; and there’s popular wine bar and restaurant Winemakers.

Off the High Street in Deptford Market Yard, new businesses constantly start up in the railway arches under the station and the carriageway in the busy public square.

Here find Hop Burns & Black, a beer off-licence; Mouse Tail, one of a small chain of artisan coffee shops; Forest, a florist with a wide range of fashionable indoor plants; Little Nan’s Bar, the award-winning kitsch tea shop and cocktail bar; burger, tapas and jerk restaurants; Dirty Apron, a breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant; and Tap Room, owned by Woolwich-based Hop Stuff Brewery and serving pizza.

Tanner’s Hill is a row of listed cottages on the southern side of Deptford Broadway from the High Street.

Recent new Deptford openings include Stockton, a new bar from the people behind Buster Mantis. Festa sul Prato is an Italian café and restaurant in Folkestone Gardens.

Open space

The Deptford Parks Liveable Neighbourhood project in the area of north Deptford around Deptford Park, Folkestone Gardens and Fordham Park is part of the Mayor of London’s Liveable Neighbourhoods programme and is designed to make the area better for walking and cycling.

It is likely to include a new north-south traffic-free route along the former Grand Surrey Canal.

Leisure and the arts

The Albany in Douglas Way is the local, long-established arts centre offering circus, dance, theatre and family shows.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance runs a young musicians summer school.

Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Griffin Street is the local council-owned swimming pool.

Schools

Primary schools

All but one of the local primary schools are judged to be “good” or better by the government education watchdog, Ofsted.

Those rated “outstanding” are: Tidemill in Giffin Street; Lucas Vale in St Nicholas Street, and Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Temple Grove Free School in Pepys Road in New Cross.

Comprehensive

The local comprehensive school is Addey & Stanhope (co-ed, 11 to 16) in New Cross Road, but a number of nearby schools are judged to be “outstanding”.

They are: St Ursula’s RC (girls, ages 11 to 16) in Crooms Hill in Greenwich ; Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College (co-ed, three to 18) in Pepys Road in New Cross; St Thomas the Apostle RC (boys ages 11 to 18 with girls in the sixth form) in Hollydale Road in Nunhead; Prendergast (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Hilly Fields in Brockley.

Private

There are no private schools in Deptford although nearby Blackheath offers a good choice.

They are: Heath House Preparatory (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Wemyss Road; Blackheath High (girls, ages three to 18) in Vanbrugh Park; Greenwich Steiner (co-ed, ages three to 14) in Mycenae Road and the Pointer School (co-ed, ages three to 11) in Stratheden Road.

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