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The Ragged School Blog Deptford

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Deptford is all around you

This is the approach down Hales Street I would have originally taken when walking a new route from Deptford High Street towards Deptford Church Street to catch a 47 bus (opposite Wavelengths Leisure centre). At that time the building was not covered in 'permission based graffiti', but was still orangey red brick. I remember thinking, what is this place, an old wash house ? When I read the plaque which said Ragged School, I immediately thought about Jerwood Space in Union Street SE1, a Victorian school converted to a very successful mixed arts facility opened in 1998. Its something which has inspired my investigations into urban regeneration working with heritage, not against it. Naturally I imagined the Ragged School to have similar potential for Deptford. I didnt then know anything about the building until I returned another day when the door was open and to my amazement there was a gallery showing. The place was alive with artists and visitors coming and going and reminded me more of the atmosphere of The Foundry at Great Eastern Street EC2. Just as I was getting excited about a vibrant new creative zone, I learned that the fate of the building was uncertain. Within that I realised that so many minor historical buildings around Britain are being used as 'regeneration firewood'. I am using this blog to make associations with groups and individuals to explore how digital technologies are letting citizens reclaim 'regeneration' from the glossy brochures and sales rhetoric, and back into the hands of local people. Creativity is more important than funding, grants, investment etc, as money will always go towards a vision that works, but just a shiny new building will not neccessarily attract visionary activity.


At 1:21 am, Blogger gnome-one said...

i feel tha its a shame that the potentail of that space has been (so far) missed.
i have seen the building and remember the community arts initiative you were detailing and it was quite a spectacle. the area is in desperate need of a foundry type alternative arts centre.
i also understand that the owners have removed the roof and sold off the parque flooring in a poor attempt to prevent any regeneration of this site.
the building could easily and relatively cheaply be restored with energy efficient measures.
for example- a solar roof, insulated walls and floors. water catchment and waste recycling could excel the mayors' sustainabiliy vision for london.
this combined with perhaps an organic cafe, and a multi media arts centre would make this historic building fullfill ALL of the aspirations the local 'planners' purport to be in favour of for this area.

however, it would appear (looking around) that the grand plan is directed more towards the construction of plasicated cardboard rabbit hutches for the suited consumers to infiltrate, followed by the removal of any bright eyed pirate types of ye olde deptford.

so, what is the situation at the present with regard to the ragged schools' future?
are there any other buildings available for this sort of development? now everything seems to be bought, controlled and awaiting development by the same few plastic-people!

At 11:38 am, Blogger mickm said...

Hi. I was a Deptford resident a couple of years ago but now live in Brockley. It seems to me that the best purpose for the ragged school, besides local workshops etc, would be a local history museum. Has anyone thought of that? I'm sure a decent petition could be got together, with support from local notaries like Bill Kennedy from Kennedy's around the corner. He's always talking about the good old days and practically is the local museum. Is there any campaign to save it and if so can we join?

Michael Madden. MA ARBS (local artist and restorer) 0208 314 0625

At 2:04 am, Blogger andreworford ªº said...

Sadly the ragged school was sold by its previous owner The Shaftesbury Society as 'scrap' in an auction and the current owners MacDonald Egan have planning permission to demolish it. At this time they are just letting it rot. It is not now practically possible to save it. But it is a wake up call to Britain that everyday minor historical buildings are being used as fodder to provide the sites for new buildings. Do not despair, the fact that you have found this blog and left a comment is testimony to a sea change in the way people discover and interact with 'heritage'. Ultimately we must start to update the appraisal and safeguards of minor historical (unlisted) buildings before their continuous erosion leads to an urban wasteland - devoid of a sense of place. Encourage your friends to blog about any local matter and help that sea change gather steam so that we can create an early warning system for campaigners to act much sooner.


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