Tuesday, April 24, 2012

London through its charity shops #23: Walworth

Nestled in between the Elephant & Castle and Camberwell is a district of Southwark, SE17, called Walworth. Its main thoroughfare is Walworth Road, a bustling and vibrant (read: poor) high street with a diverse range of shops including four charity shops.

Coming from the Elephant & Castle, the first thing one notices walking along Walworth Road is the eerily empty, boarded up Heygate Estate, currently in the process of being demolished. This massive estate, featured in films including Harry Brown (starring Michael Caine who was actually born in Walworth) and Attack the Block, was only built in the 1970s but by the early 2000s had become a symbol of urban decay. The block is to be replaced with new flats as part of the Elephant & Castle regeneration plan. The flats will no doubt be called luxury flats and cost a lot of money. Old residents of the Heygate will presumably have to move out of London.

Past the Heygate estate, the next point of interest is the Cuming Museum, containing a diverse range of objects from the Cuming family as well as a history of Southwark. On the corner of the nearby sexual health clinic is a blue plaque for Charles Babbage (1791-1871), mathematician and originator of the programmable computer. East Street market (where Charles Chaplin was apparently born), just off Walworth Road, is a busy market selling fruit and veg and household products.

Soon we come across our first charity shop, Sense. It's a lively shop with a great – if overpriced (£2.50!) – selection of CDs (and records, but not so good) dotted around the shop. It has the feel of a bustling jumble sale. Plenty of clothes, books and bric-a-brac too. A little further along, the Salvation Army is spacious and clean with a large selection of clothes and shoes. Dotted around are various bargain bins selling cheap clothes and 10p paperbacks. Geranium for the Blind has stacks of books and records (including a few jazz ones). Finally, the Trinity Hospice is a bit tatty but very cheap, with CDs 50p. Lots of crockery and a big box of records.

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