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New Cross is an area of south east London, England, 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south-east of Charing Cross in the London Borough of Lewisham and the SE14 postcode district. New Cross is near St Johns, Telegraph Hill, Nunhead, Peckham, Brockley, Deptford and Greenwich, and home to Goldsmiths, University of London, Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College and Addey and Stanhope School.
New Cross Gate, on the west of New Cross, is named after the New Cross tollgate, established in 1718 by the New Cross Turnpike Trust. It is the location of New Cross Gate station. New Cross Gate corresponds to the manor and district formerly known as Hatcham.
The area was originally known as Hatcham (the name persists in the title of the Anglican parishes of St. James, Hatcham along with its school, and All Saints, Hatcham Park). The earliest reference to Hatcham is the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hacheham. It was held by the Bishop of Lisieux from the Bishop of Bayeux. According to the entry in the Domesday Book Hatcham's assets were: 3 hides; 3 ploughs, 6 acres (24,000 m2) of meadow, woodland worth 3 hog and rendered £2.
Hatcham tithes were paid to Bermondsey Abbey from 1173 until the dissolution of the monasteries. A series of individuals then held land locally before the manor was bought in the 17th century by the Haberdashers' Company, a wealthy livery company that was instrumental in the area's development in the 19th century. Telegraph Hill was for many years covered by market gardens also owned by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers. Until the creation of the London County Council in 1889, the area was a part of the counties of Kent and Surrey.
New Cross is believed to have taken its name from a coaching house originally known as the Golden Cross, which stood close to the current New Cross House pub. The diarist John Evelyn, who lived in Deptford, wrote in 1675 that he met a friend at 'New Crosse' in his coach before travelling down through Kent and on to France.
In the later 19th century, the area became known as the New Cross Tangle on account of its numerous railway lines, workshops and two stations — both originally called New Cross (one was later renamed New Cross Gate).
Hatcham Iron Works in Pomeroy Street was an important steam locomotive factory, the scene of a bitter confrontation in 1865 between its manager, George England, and the workers. The Strike Committee met at the Crown and Anchor pub in New Cross Road, now the site of Hong Kong City Chinese restaurant. George England’s house, Hatcham Lodge, is now 56 Kender Street.
New Cross bus garage was formerly the largest tram depot in London, opening in 1906. During the 1926 General Strike in support of the miners, strikebreakers were brought in to drive trams from the depot. On 7 May, police baton charges were launched to clear a crowd of 2-3,000 pickets blockading the entrance (reported as "Rowdyism in New Cross" by the Kentish Mercury).
On 25 November 1944 a V-2 rocket exploded at the Woolworths store in New Cross Road (on the site later occupied by an Iceland supermarket), 168 people were killed, and 121 were seriously injured. It was London's most devastating V-bombing of the entire war. On Wednesday 25 November 2009 a new commemorative plaque was unveiled on the site by the Mayor of Lewisham, marking the 65th anniversary of the explosion.
On 18 January 1981 13 young black people were killed in the New Cross Fire at a party at 439 New Cross Road. Suspicions that the fire was caused by a racist attack, and apparent official indifference to the deaths, led to the largest ever political mobilisation of black people seen in Britain.
During the 1980s, the Goldsmiths Tavern hosted alternative cabaret nights, organised by Nikky Smedley. Playing host to fledgling acts including The Cholmondeleys, Julian Clary and Vic Reeves. Goldsmiths' Students' Union also had a reputation for putting on established and up and coming bands of the era including The B-52's, The Pogues, The Monochrome Set, Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet and Wild Willy Barrett.. The Irish owners of the Harp Club let The Flim Flam run a regular Friday night club there. The Flim Flam, with their wide music interest, recruited two DJs from Goldsmiths (Allison Webster and Mimi Kerns) to put on a punk and indie night on Saturdays A Million Rubber Bands (later "Totally Wired"). This venue later became The Venue.
In the 1990s New Cross club, The Venue was central to the Indie Rock and Brit Pop scenes and played host to gigs by many of their finest purveyors including Oasis, Radiohead, Pulp, Squeeze, Suede, Levellers, Cast, Shed Seven, Sleeper, Cornershop, Bluetones, PJ Harvey, Catherine Wheel, Belly, Ocean Colour Scene, Lush, Chumbawamba, Ash, Mudhoney, and Hole. Urban music magazine, Touch, and The Platform Magazine, an Islamic Hip-Hop journal are based in New Cross.
New Cross was noted as the birthplace of New Rave, and is fast gaining ground with London's fashion and music journalists, some even coming to regard it as South London's answer to Shoreditch in the wake of its commercialisation. The New Rave scene began with a tightly connected movement of artists, DJ’s, bands and squatters called !WOWOW! who have staged parties since 2003 in New Cross. New Rave champions Klaxons spent their formative years in New Cross and released their début single, Gravity's Rainbow, in April 2006 on Angular Recording Corporation, a label set up by two ex-Goldsmiths students. The area supports a fledgling student opera company, Opera Gold, run by Goldsmiths, University of London.
Millwall Football Club, founded by mainly Scottish workers at J.T. Morton, a cannery and food processing plant in Millwall on the Isle of Dogs in 1885, was based at The Den in Cold Blow Lane from 1910 to 1993. The ground attracted crowds of more than 45,000 at its peak, but by the 1980s was notorious for the club's repeated incidents of football hooliganism. Millwall moved a short distance to a new stadium, The New Den, situated off Ilderton Road and just within Bermondsey, at the start of the 1993–94 season. The club remains within the New Cross electoral ward.
Speedway racing was staged at the New Cross Speedway and Greyhound Stadium, situated at the end of Hornshay Street, off Ilderton Road. The venue became home to the New Cross Rangers in 1934 when the Crystal Palace promotion moved en bloc. The track, reputed to be one of the shortest and known as "The Frying Pan Bowl", operated until 1939 and re-opened in 1946 running until the early 1950s. The track re-opened for a short spell 1959 - 1961 and closed its doors to the sport for the last time mid season 1963. The stadium was also the scene of the UK's first stock car race at Easter 1954, with 26,000 in the crowd and thousands more locked outside. The site of the Stadium is now an open space, Bridge House Meadows. The 1949 speedway film Once a Jolly Swagman, starring Dirk Bogarde, was filmed at New Cross.
For many years New Cross was home to the Laban Centre, now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance which was based at Laurie Grove producing choreographers such as Matthew Bourne and Lea Anderson. In 2002 Laban moved to new studios in Deptford. However, it still uses its New Cross campus, where studios have since been refurbished.
Its library, New Cross Learning, which was formerly known as the New Cross People’s Library, was saved from permanent closure after government cuts. A series of protests in 2011, namely from the ‘Save New Cross Library Campaign’ and the subsequent media coverage, garnered enough support to see it re-open in 2013 as a community led library. It now offers learning activities and workshops, and has a lending catalogue of over 5,000 books.
The proximity of New Cross to Deptford and Greenwich, both of which have strong maritime connections, led to the establishment of the Royal Naval School in New Cross in 1843 (designed by architect John Shaw Jr, 1803–1870) to house "the sons of impecunious naval officers". The school relocated further south-east to Mottingham in 1889, and the former school building was bought by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who opened the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891. This was in turn handed over to the University of London in 1904 and is now Goldsmiths, University of London.
The former Deptford Town Hall building in New Cross Road, now also used by Goldsmiths, was built in the Edwardian Baroque style by Lanchester and Rickards, 1903-5. Nautical references include carvings of Tritons, statues of admirals and a sailing ship weathervane on the clock turret.
The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses was the South East London Synagogue until it closed in 1985. The present building, which dates from the 1950s, replaced another destroyed in a German air raid in 1940.
The Venue nightclub in New Cross Road has a long history as a place of entertainment. It opened as the New Cross Super Kinema in 1925, with a cinema on the ground floor and the New Cross Palais de Danse above, as well as a cafe. The name was shortened to New Cross Kinema from 1927, the plain Kinema in 1948, and finally Gaumont in 1950. It closed in August 1960, and remained derelict for some time. Part of the building was demolished before the old dancehall became The Harp Club and then The Venue in the late 1980s.
Both stations are served by London Overground. From New Cross Gate passengers can travel to Crystal Palace and West Croydon to the south and Highbury & Islington to the north. New Cross acts as the terminus for the service from Dalston Junction. Trains sometimes continue to Highbury & Islington but this is more common during engineering works. Passengers can easily make a brief interchange at Dalston Junction for trains to Highbury and Islington
New Cross also has mainline suburban services operated by Southeastern. Trains generally run north to Cannon Street or Charing Cross to the north and south-east to Lewisham, Bexleyheath, Hayes and Dartford in Kent.
Three major roads meet in New Cross: the A202 (Queen's Road) which runs from New Cross to Victoria, the A2 (New Cross Road) which runs from London to Canterbury and Dover, and the A20 (Lewisham Way) which runs from New Cross to Folkestone and Dover.
- Bands such as Art Brut, Bloc Party, Blur, The Rocks, The Hancocks, Luxembourg, Indigo Moss and Athlete have all originated and been associated with the 'New Cross scene'.
- British hip hop artist Blade did most of his recording in the area, selling his records personally on the streets there and often name checking it in his songs.
- 1970s glam rocker Steve Harley grew up in Fairlawn Mansions, New Cross, going to Edmund Waller and Haberdashers' Aske's schools.
- Music hall star Marie Lloyd lived in Lewisham Way from 1887 to 1893
- Nathan Cooper and Chi-Tudor Hart, out of the electro group Matinée Club grew up in New Cross.
- RnB group Damage. Front man Jade Jones who is from the area is the father of Emma Bunton's baby and is engaged to marry her. Two members of the group attended St James Hatcham C of E Primary School situated on St James in New Cross Gate.
- The folk noir band Songdog lived in New Cross for a year or so after first moving to London from Wales. The transition period was difficult for the band members as they suffered from acute homesickness and for a time had rats, no hot water and no money, but frontman Lyndon Morgans says they took heart from the motto "Take Courage" (Courage being a brewery), which was emblazoned across the front of the Amersham Arms, a pub overlooking New Cross Station
- Dire Straits lived in Deptford and performed some of their earliest gigs in New Cross pubs
- Jools Holland performed and practiced in pubs in New Cross at the beginning of his career
- The Band of Holy Joy was formed in New Cross in 1984.
- Poet Robert Browning lived in Telegraph Cottage near New Cross Road during the 1840s
- Playwright and author Terence Frisby of the 1960s play and movie There's a Girl in My Soup was born in New Cross in 1932 but spent the majority of his childhood in Welling.
- Politician Sir Isaac Hayward, leader of the London County Council, represented the Deptford division
- Harry Mullan, boxing writer, lived in New Cross from the late 1960s to 1990s.
- Wrestler Mick McManus was born in New Cross.
- Actress Laila Morse (and Gary Oldman's sister) who plays 'Mo Harris' in EastEnders lives in New Cross.
- Actor Gary Oldman was born and raised in New Cross, attending Monson Primary School. His film Nil By Mouth is loosely based on his life growing up in South East London and was largely filmed in the area.
- Footballer Kieran Richardson who currently plays for Fulham FC spent some of his childhood in New Cross Gate
- Fr. Arthur Tooth SSC, an Anglican priest, was the Vicar of St. James', Hatcham in the 1870s and, whilst he was there, was prosecuted for ritualist practices — an event that became nationally famous at the time.
- Sir Barnes Wallis lived at 241 New Cross Road (on the corner of Nettleton Road) from 1892 to 1909.
- Artist Edward Henry Windred (1875-1953) lived at 352 New Cross Road during the 1930s
- Steve Wright (radio presenter)
- Former Goldsmiths students include Graham Sutherland, John Cale, Mary Quant, Malcolm McLaren, Damien Hirst, Sam Taylor-Wood, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Julian Opie, Hisham Matar, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Neil Innes, Brian Molko, Alex James, and Graham Coxon.
- Princess Beatrice of York attended Goldsmiths, University of London as a B.A. (History) student, although she did not actually reside in New Cross.
- Carter USM wrote a song called "The Only Living Boy in New Cross" (1992). The song lists the diverse youth tribes that bought their records whilst the title is a play on a Simon & Garfunkel song "The Only Living Boy in New York".
- The tragic New Cross Fire was commemorated in a number of reggae songs and poems at the time, including Johnny Osbourne’s "13 dead and nothing said", Benjamin Zephaniah’s "13 dead", UB40's "Don't Let It Pass You By" and Linton Kwesi Johnson’s "New Crass Massakkah".
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