Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Vivienne Bartholomew describes Church Road as the "anti shopping mall experience". Ever since those anonymous temples to consumerism took over the world with their identikit stores and sterile environments, sucking the life out of our towns, there has been a growing desire to get back to the idea of shops serving a community as they did in the past, rather than remote corporate giants driven solely by profit and serving only their share-holders. Places like Church Road are firmly rooted in their community, while also being places where people expect something a little different, more stimulating.
We seem to have reached a turning point lately, with high profile efforts by the likes of Mary Portas and other campaigners to rescue our high streets before it's too late. On the ground, this gradual renaissance is driven by people like Vivienne. Like many other shopkeepers on the Triangle, she started in Haynes Lane Market, which seems to act as a kind of nursery for local entrepreneurs. With a keen eye for mixing beautiful vintage printed dresses with elegant homewares, she soon needed a larger space that she could mould in her own way.
Elaborating on her earlier comment, Vivienne argues that shopping should be as much a social interaction as a commercial one. To that end, she has recently added a delightful teashop at the back of her vintage store. Called Samadhi, meaning bliss, it encourages customers to relax and stay awhile, and seems to enhance and complete the whole shop. She adds that the intent is simply to create a pleasant environment, rather than being a hard headed business decision, but it's proving popular, and the shop is thriving as a result. 
Many of Vivienne's attitudes about life and business stem from her interest in meditation. She and her husband Paul have spent time in India learning philosophy and meditation from a guru, Swami Shyam, and they plan to hold regular meditation classes in the teashop. So next time you find yourself getting stressed out in a shopping mall, head up to the Triangle for a higher plane of existence.

The Shop

Vivienne and her tailor create garments from recycled tablecloths.

The Teashop


87 Church Road
020 8653 6943

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Crystal Palace Station

I've never counted the steps at the station, but I know there are enough for weary travellers to be driven to distraction. I've heard tales of mothers with prams, and people on crutches going out of their way to use other more distant stations. You may well ask why the puny outdoor staircase and the feeble ersatz Crystal Palace ticket hall exist at all, when there is an imposing Victorian structure next door, built for that purpose. Poor Mr. Paxton must have turned in his grave.
In true 'Norwoodian' spirit, the last couple of years has seen a campaign by locals on Facebook and elsewhere to re-open the old building and install the long promised lifts. The good news is that this is now happening. I was very fortunate to be allowed access to photograph the interior of the Victorian building prior to the refurbishment. While my day job entails photographing sleek and polished interiors for their creators, I've always seen great beauty in decaying or derelict structures such as this.
I would like to thank local campaigner, Gill Wing for organising the tour of the building, and Julian Moosai from London Overground for allowing us access.

Ticket hall with doors leading directly to stairs and soon to the lifts as well.

Ornate shadows cast by the Victorian ironwork.

The ghostly outline of the former ticket booth can be seen against the wall.
And the tour doesn't end there. Much to my surprise and delight, I was allowed upstairs, and onto both the roof of the tower, and the station roof itself...

Inside the tower

What a view!

The soon-to-be-redundant 80s annexe, over the parapet. Paxton can once again rest peacefully.