Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Within walking distance

Is New Cross the new Camden? The Evening Standard asked the (rather lame) question at the end of last year when New Cross's Amersham Arms was relaunched by the same people as run Camden's The Lock Tavern.

I went there on Saturday night to see whether such claims might have a whiff of truth. The last time I went along it was to see the band Man Like Me literally bring the roof down on the old place as part of a rather shambolic but fun festival.

Anyway, the front bit of the Amersham Arms is now indeed rather like a pub you would find in Camden. Full of quite cool semi-scenesters winding themselves up for the night ahead.

Good place. Works well for a Saturday night. I'll check the back room one day soon, when I see a good gig to go to.

We stayed for a few in the Amersham Arms then moved on to another local pub, the Royal Albert, which has also been on the receiving end of a recent refurb.

It used to be known as the Paradise Bar for those with a longer memory. And the Six String Bar for those with an even longer one.

Now it is a nice place. A little bland but not in a bad way. It had a good range of beers, stayed open until after 12 and it is a 10 minute walk to my home.

The Amersham was more fun and did make me realise how New Cross does maintain a good number of quirky and interesting venues.

There are those that shudder at the memory of the Paradise Bar, while others remember it with fondness for its unusual and experimental nights.

Meanwhile, the Goldsmiths Tavern of old was a fairly crazy place if my addled memory serves me right. (It is the only place where I have seen a man thrown horizontally through a door onto the street, and by a much-pierced barman wearing a suit!)

There's a history to this: a glance at the culture section of the New Cross's Wikipedia entry shows how many alternative scenes have connections to the town, including some of the first house nights, Britpop and new rave. It was also where Vic Reeves first did a show with Bob Mortimer, which almost in itself makes it my spiritual home!

Getting people from outside the area to come for the evening remains a chore but maybe that is part of New Cross's charm. An evening there remains one for either the brave or the local, and that doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

Edited to add:

Coincidentally, fellow (and much more established) blogger Transpontine has written up a similar piece on New Cross on the back of a NME article, "New Cross is Reborn".

Hats off to the chap. And am particularly liking his Walking New Cross series.

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