Industrial Cool in South London: Lyvly's Guide to Deptford
Tucked between Bermondsey and Greenwich, Deptford’s industrial charms tend to fly under the radar. But while everyone was looking the other way, this historic neighbourhood has been building its own unique community and vibe.
It’s worth mentioning up front that Deptford hasn’t always had the best of luck – when Henry VIII built a Royal Palace in Greenwich, Deptford got the docks and warehouses – but its unpretentious charms have brought in a wide range of people. Veteran residents now rub shoulders with students from local universities and families buying their first home.
In a pleasant twist on the usual formula, regeneration has built on the area’s existing strengths, such as theatre and global cuisine, instead of replacing it with the same aesthetic you find everywhere else.
Homes come in all shapes and sizes here. Plush Georgian houses and elegant Victorian terraces make up the majority of older properties. Meanwhile, smart new developments like The Timberyard and Deptford Foundry combine business space, homes and leisure facilities all in one.
Phrases like ‘the new Peckham’ get thrown around a lot when an area regenerates. But honestly, one of the best things about Deptford is that it’s not ‘the new’ anything. It’s retaining its own character even as more people discover it. And that’s something you don’t want to miss out on.
What’s the story?
Like most areas that sit alongside the Thames, Deptford has been shaped by the river, in both geography and destiny. Once a small fishing village, Henry VIII put it on the map when he chose it as the location for the Royal Docks.
Its story has also been closely entwined with that of neighbouring Greenwich, but whereas Greenwich was home to the Naval College, Royal Observatory and Royal Hunting Grounds, Deptford became the home for those who actually worked in the docks.
The population grew until the late 1800s, with warehouses, workers housing and businesses sprawling out. But eventually the docks fell into decline as shipping became more concentrated elsewhere. Heavy bomb damage during World War II brought new housing developments to replace the lost structures. But the Zone 2 location was still attractive for new communities, planting the roots for today’s South Asian and Caribbean Communities.
It’s also seen a big influx of students from a range of arty institutions who have set up in the area, such as Goldsmiths College, the University of Greenwich, Bellerby’s College and Trinity Laban, which also provide a thriving cultural scene.
There’s no underground station, but that doesn’t mean you’re struggling to get into the city. There are two National Rail stations at Deptford and Deptford Bridge, as well as the DLR at Deptford Bridge.
You can get to London Bridge on the train in just 8 minutes, or to Canary Wharf on the DLR in around 12 minutes. Southwark is just 20 minutes away and even Shoreditch or Soho will only set you back 30 minutes.
What’s it going to cost me?
Deptford has so far escaped the lofty prices of neighbouring Greenwich, but expect this to change as more developers turn their attention this way.
Rent on a one-bedroom flat will set you back around £1300/ month, making it a little more pricey than similar areas like New Cross. And like most parts of London, council tax has been rising steadily. Technically part of the London Borough of Lewisham, Deptford has seen rates rise consistently for the last 4 years, going up 5% in the last year alone.
If you want a great way to make your money go further in Deptford, Lyvly brings all your bills into one monthly payment - that’s rent, council tax and utilities all in one.
Best of all, that bill stays the same for the length of your tenancy, so you’re always in control. Add to that the gorgeous properties and built-in community and it’s the best way to find somewhere to live in Deptford.
What is there to do in Deptford?
Culture has always been, and still is, a big deal in Deptford. The Albany Theatre goes back over 100 years. It now hosts a bit of everything including theatre, music, performance poetry and comedy, alongside community activities. It’s also been joined by newcomers like the Laban Theatre which is part of the music and dance school of the same name.
You’ll also find one of London’s more eclectic libraries: the relaxingly-named Deptford Lounge. Expect film screenings, community events, exercise classes and check out the ball-court on the roof while you’re there.
The food and drink scene has developed rapidly, but still retains a lot of its old charms. Look out for classic pubs like the Birds Nest, The Royal Albert and The Full Nelson alongside quirkier new offerings like The Big Red, which is a parked bus, and The Job Centre, which serves food and drink in a former...you get it.
You’ll also find the classic coffee and avocado with a side order of bike repairs at places like London Velo. If you prefer to eat on your feet, check out Deptford Market Yard, which brings together plenty of eating and drinking options under one, as well as a bunch of independent shops.
The local performing arts universities also power a buzzing live music scene, with great haunts like The Amersham Arms showing off fresh new talent.
The Lvvly Insider’s Guide
Where insiders eat
The dining scene has exploded recently, but we recommend looking out for the classics with community roots. Start with Mama Pho and Eat Vietnam, which offer delicious, authentic Vietnamese dishes at very reasonable prices. There’s also Sanxia Renjia, which focuses on food from the under-represented Sichuan region of China. Look for something you don’t recognise and go for it. It will be worth it, I promise!
Where insiders go to unwind on the weekend
If you want to wander around some green space, you’re only 5 minutes from Greenwich. But if you want something authentically Deptford, maybe try something a bit different.
For the authentic London market experience, don’t miss Deptford Market, which makes up for its lack of glamour with the feeling that you might find literally anything in the next box full of knick-knacks. You might walk away with an old radio, some fresh fish, or a great deal on some old clothes.
There’s also Aladdin’s Cave - a browsers paradise. This former railway station is full to the rafters with old furniture, pictures, fireplaces and statues. If you want to make sure your home doesn’t look like anyone else’s, this is the place to go.
Where insiders cut loose
In a city where new venues often just come from the same few brands grabbing the nearest empty space, we need more spaces like Buster Mantis.
Tucked away in a railway arch beneath Deptford station, this locally-owned bar and event space has completely blown up. Originally kitted out with spare scaffolding and salvaged furniture, the smart move was offering the space for any event that wanted it. You’ll now find everything from jazz nights to comedy to exhibitions. There’s live music every Wednesday and dancing all night on the weekends.
Another underground spot for music is Vinyl - a record shop/ gig venue. Come for the records, stay for the DJs and film nights.
Don’t miss out on Deptford
Nothing this good stays under the radar for long, so now is the time to find your home in Deptford. With culture, food and fun with its own flavour, you can find something that feels unique, and also uniquely-you.
Lyvly puts you in control, with great properties and simple bills, so you can focus on making the most of your new neighbourhood. Find out what’s available and start making the most of Deptford’s potential here.