With a neighbour like Greenwich, it’s not hard to understand why the once-scruffy Deptford in South East London has hidden in the shadows for so long. Greenwich boasts a huge park, direct access to Canary Wharf, and even a Royal Observatory, making it hugely popular with affluent families and professionals. Deptford, on the other hand, was largely occupied by students from Goldsmiths and local families who stayed for generations.
But as is always the case with London, these areas never stay secret for long. A buzz has grown around Deptford in recent years, with the term ‘the new Peckham’ being thrown around frequently in reference to the relatively low rents, lively, creative community and urban cool atmosphere that can be found here. As always, the creatives have brought a series of hip restaurants, independent shops and cool coffee cafes with them, and as Peckham’s star rapidly begins to rise the developers are now coming in droves.
The gentrification of Deptford is still a rather thorny issue, with fears that it will eradicate local businesses, traditional markets and much of the historic housing, but so far most of the changes have been for the positive. The area has a diverse mix of residents, from students to retirees who’ve spent their lives in SE8, and while there’s no underground station nearby the speedy direct train to London Bridge and DLR to Canary Wharf have made it increasingly popular with young professionals working in commuter areas.
Plans to develop thousands of sleek new modern homes in Deptford are currently in motion, and with further ambitions to clean up the area and modernise the station, it seems that the days of rough-around-the-edges Deptford are nearly over.
On a map
Deptford is located in the Boroughs of Lewisham and Greenwich in South East London. It sits to the west of Greenwich and north of New Cross, and covers the postcode SE8.
History of Deptford London
Deptford has a rich and varied history, with evidence of a settlement here since the Celts occupied the land which later became Greater London. The Romans followed the Celts in Deptford and formalised some of the roads, while during the Medieval period it was part of the pilgrimage route from London to Canterbury – a route immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Over time Deptford developed into a small fishing village due to it’s proximity to the Thames, until Henry VIII decided to build royal docks here in the 1500s, transforming the fortunes of this once modest area.
The 1500s were particularly key for Deptford historically, as Elizabeth I knighted Sir Francis Drake here and Shakespeare’s contemporary, playwright Kit Marlow, was murdered in a Deptford pub. The importance of the docks continued to grow right up until the 1800s, by which time Deptford was a busy, sprawling area with slums and lots of workers housing. The docks were closed in the 1900s after years of decline and bombing damage during the Second World War, and it wasn’t until recently that interest began to turn back to Deptford, and council regeneration plans began.
Transport from Deptford London
Like many spots in South East London, Deptford doesn’t have an underground connection. However, with two National Rail stations at Deptford and Deptford Bridge, as well as the DLR at Deptford Bridge, it’s still well connected for commuting.
A journey from Deptford to London Bridge on the train takes just 8 minutes, while a journey to Canary Wharf on the DLR takes around 12 minutes. The area is also served by a number of buses.
Cost of living in Deptford London
Although still cheaper than Greenwich, prices in Deptford have risen swiftly in the last five years and it’s now on average more expensive to rent here than neighbouring New Cross and Peckham. As of May 2015, the average rental cost of a two bedroom property in Deptford is around £1900 per month, although similar properties can be found starting at £1250.
Restaurants in Deptford London
Mention dinner on a bus and most conjure an image of a drunken McDonalds on the N19, but despite being a genuine red double-decker, Big Red couldn’t be further from your average bus journey. Currently occupied by pop-up Austrian street food outfit Wanderlust, settle into a table on the upper deck and feast on gourmet BBQ foods and Bloody Marys.
Address: 30 Deptford Church St, London SE8 4RZ
Phone:020 3490 8346
Despite the buzz of controversy surrounding a quirky restaurant opening in a former Job Centre whilst keeping the name, this expansive eatery has managed to weather the storm to become a busy local spot serving craft beers, street food from a roving series of traders and hosing raucous parties every weekend.
Address: 120 Deptford High St, London SE8 4NP
Phone:020 8692 6859
This relaxed pub by Deptford Bridge may not look like much, but in a former incarnation as the Oxford Arms it once saw Dire Straits and other contemporaries take to the stage. These days they’ve got an excellent daily food menu filled with international dishes, but live music is still a huge part of the venue with weekly gigs and open mic nights.
Address: 32 Deptford Church St, London SE8 4RZ
Phone:020 8692 1928
Shops in Deptford London
Calling a shop Aladdin’s Cave is usually a huge exaggeration, but in this case it seems to fit – this vast space o Loampit Hill seems to stock most items which have ever existed in the last century, from tiled fireplaces, fine china, chandeliers and even a gymnast’s horse. It’s the ideal spot for kitting out your new place with eclectic pieces.
Address: 72 Loampit Hill, London SE13 7SX
Phone:020 8320 2553
Looking for an old-school market to live out all those Eastenders fantasies you grew up with? Give Deptford Market a try, which has so far managed to resisted turning into a gentrified parade of organic apple juice stalls and is still packed with everything you could ever need, from DVDs and batteries to slabs of fresh fish ready to take home for dinner.
Address: Deptford High St SE8 3PR
Phone:020 8314 2050
Before you drag the little ones along thinking this is a family-friendly art shop, it’s probably best to know that Kids Love Ink is actually an acclaimed tattoo and piercing salon – without a crayon or craft book in sight. Those who take the plunge can expect to be inked expertly by some of London’s finest tattoo artists here.
Address: 138 Deptford High St, London SE8 3PQ
Phone:020 8691 1124
Things to do in Deptford London
It may only take up nine acres, but this compact park and nature reserve in Deptford makes up for it’s size with a lovely little lake, plenty of mature trees and a selection of perfect picnic spots. What’s more, there’s even a faded Banksy mural to be found somewhere in the park if you know where to look.
Address: Brookmill Road, Lewisham, London SE8 4JD
Part of the renewed Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (where alumni include Cressida Bonas and Anjali Jay), the Laban Theatre is where students and industry professioanls regularly perform in award-winning operas, concerts, and festivals. It’s one of the best places in the capital to spot up-and-coming musical and dance talents.
Address: King Charles Court, Royal Naval College, London SE10 9JF
Phone:020 8305 4444
A short walk from Goldsmiths University, this trendy pub is hugely popular with students and locals looking for a cheap, fun night out. As well as serving pub grub and a choice selection of beers, the Amersham Arms has a regular schedule of DJ sets, quiz nights, comedy performances and club nights to keep you entertained.
Address: 388 New Cross Rd, London SE14 6TY
Phone:020 8469 1499