18th September 2020

Catford

Damian Peachey, part of Addison Lee’s Marketing and Communications team, tells the tail of Catford, the cream of South-East London, in this week’s ‘London is our LocAL’

Mention that you live in Catford, and you’re usually met with one of two responses. ‘Where’s that?’ is the first, and ‘Isn’t that the place with the giant model of a cat?’ the other. It’s true that this South-East London gem does have an outsized feline sitting atop the entrance to its’ Shopping Centre, but there’s so much more to it than that, and that’s why it’s the subject of this week’s ‘London is our LocAL’

Catford is the SE6 postcode, and covers a big area, running from Lewisham in the north to Bromley in the South. Although people struggle to place it, it’s very well connected to Central London, getting you to London Bridge in 10 minutes by train. If you were looking for a place that represents London, Catford is it – diverse, chaotic at times, rich in history as well as promise for the future and full of places and spaces to lose yourself in. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it.

The town centre won’t win any beauty prizes, but it’s the heart of the area with loads going on. Tucked away under a tower block is one of the area’s best restaurants, Pizzeria Italiana  . Proprietor Franco knocks out the best pizzas this side of his native Bologna as well as delicious rustic Italian cuisine. Try the fegato al vino rosso (Calves liver in red wine), which they serve with saute potatoes – delizioso, as Franco might say. If you’re looking for either an aperitif or somewhere to continue your night after your vin santo, try The Ninth Life pub, which is five minutes’ walk away.

Formerly a fairly non-descript but enormous boozer, The Ninth Life is hard to characterise, which I guess is part of its appeal. It’s a little bit pub, part restaurant, something of the art space and (in pre-COVID times) a lot of a disco. As well as great décor and clever use of all the space – dance floor and back-room disco – there’s a huge outdoor space for Indian Summer drinks and you’ll find Catford’s increasing number of young families in there (the housing is still just about affordable and the schools are good), either having an early dinner with their kids or a late night session when the children are back home with the babysitter.

When thinking about where Catford’s going in the future, the shopping centre offers some pointers. A brutalist ’70s space, one of the units has been taken over and turned into Catford Mews (geddit?) a chichi cinema complex with a bar and food court. As well as demonstrating thinking about what the centre of Catford and its’ people need, it’s a welcome addition to the area – the ability to see the latest movies inexpensively (and in a socially-distanced fashion) in a comfortable space with a glass of wine in your hand.

But what about when you need to walk off your fegato and vin santo, I hear you ask? There are some beautiful green spaces in Catford, with my favourite probably being Mountsfield Park. Sitting atop a hill, it offers views across South-East London and beautiful, undulating space to get away from it all. It’s so big that every two years, Lewisham Council hosts its’ ‘People’s Day’ festival there and way back when, Charlton Athletic (now based in neighbouring Greenwich) used to play their matches there. If you want to combine your walk with more drinking, you can always try Blythe Hill Fields (Great views) followed by the Blythe Hill Tavern (Great Guinness).

Hopefully, this has whetted your appetite to check out the magic of SE6 – formerly home of Ben Elton and where Spike Milligan went to school – and there’s no better way to get there and back safely and in style than with Addison Lee.

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