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Peckham Peculiar – Feb 21, 2024

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A New Chapter For Peckham

A lavishly-illustrated and lovingly-written book that examines Peckham’s rich and varied townscape, highlighting the history of its people, places and buildings, will be launched at a special event on 1 March – and everyone is invited.

Peckham’s Heritage – Past, Present and Future is a book that “digs deep” into the fascinating history of Peckham and its architecture, showing the area’s evolution over time.

It has been produced by the Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership as part of the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative, a project that ran from 2016 until 2023. It was supported by Southwark Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of the latter organisation’s grant-giving programme that ensured the repair and regeneration of various historic buildings in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Claire Hegarty, chair of the Peckham Heritage Regeneration Partnership, said: “The partnership was a group made up of local people, local businesses, community activists, historians, conservation specialists, architects, artists, council officers and so on – a horizontal cross-section of people interested in supporting Peckham who were supported by funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The group have been involved in various projects, both on a small and large scale over the years, and this book is our final community project.

The book came about because we realised we had so much local knowledge and amazing expertise at our disposal that we could bring together – from Derek Kinrade, a local activist and brilliant historian, to Benedict O’Looney, who’s a fantastic local architect, to Eileen Conn of Peckham Vision who knows so much about the area. We thought we’d try to pull all of that together into a book.”

The volume begins with an overview of Peckham’s history, charting its development from a rural village to its eventual absorption into the sprawling metropolis of London.

The next section outlines Peckham’s lost heritage, featuring buildings from the 13th to the 20th century that have been lost or demolished, followed by an examination of buildings within Peckham that are in need of restoration and care in order to secure their future.

The next part examines buildings that have already been restored to their former glory, or remain in a “healthy” condition, often with new or evolving uses that contrast with their original purpose.

The final section collates extracts of oral histories from eight Peckham residents, collected from interviews produced through the Grow Our Histories project that was run in partnership with the South London Gallery. The full oral histories will be stored at Southwark Archives.

“Through the book we are trying to challenge and expand the meaning of ‘heritage’ by looking at Peckham’s past, present and future from different points of view,” Claire said.

“We think that there are things happening today that will have an impact on the future. We also wanted to dig deep by telling the stories of people and places in Peckham that have built up over many centuries and contributed to the Peckham we have today.

“The book tries to demonstrate all the different layers of history that exist in Peckham. We’ve always liked to emphasise the idea that when you look around Peckham, you can see all sorts of subtle, beautiful, dramatic things. Wherever you look, there are so many beautiful landmarks.

“There are loads of illustrations and maps in the book, which show snapshots of Peckham at different times.”

The book, £15, will be on sale at local shops, including Review and Khan’s Bargain, and via Free copies will also be given out to schools, libraries and community groups.

The official launch of Peckham’s Heritage – Past, Present and Future will take place on 1 March from 6-8:30pm at Staffordshire Street, a project space that occupies the former Stafford Street Chapel, which was built in 1834 and the history of which is featured, appropriately enough, in the book. To attend, please register in advance via