Deptford is a district of south east London, England, on the south bank of the River Thames. It is named after a ford of the River Ravensbourne, and from the mid 16th to the late 19th century was home to Deptford Dockyard, The first Royal Navy Dockyards.
Although Deptford began as two small communities, one at the ford and the other a fishing village on The Thames, Deptford’s history and population has been mainly associated with docks established by Henry VIII. The two communities grew together and flourished and a few grand houses like Sayers Court, home to diarist John Evelyn , and Stone House on Lewisham way were erected.
In the early 20th the docks closed and Deptford went into economic decline; after the war, a lot of the neglected buildings were pulled down and replaced with concrete social housing worsening the situation. However from the 1970’s onwards, with the rapid gentrification of Surrey Quays , Greenwich and Canary Wharf over the river, followed by the introduction of the Docklands Light Railway at the turn of the century; the area has become artisan place to live with modern apartment blocks springing up around Deptford Bridge and Deptford Creek . The High Street has managed to survive Deptford’s lows and in February 2005, was described as the ‘’the capitals most diverse and vibrant high street’’ by yellow pages. Now-a-day, even the post war concrete flats that do remain, are highly sought after by the increasing numbers of professional occupants who appreciate the close proximity ( and relative affordability) to London’s central business districts.
There have been a lot changes over the years beginning on Valentine's Day 2008 a disused train carriage arrived in Deptford, marking the beginning of the journey from derelict site to a new public space for Deptford, a fully restored Carriage Ramp and a more connected high street, train station and markets.
The 1960’s carriage was transformed into a café and community event space and the railway arches were temporarily opened as artisan workshop units. They were occupied by talented designers and makers who collaborated on many of the events that happened on the site. These included silent cinema screenings, art markets and performances. We waved goodbye to the train carriage so that construction could begin on the site, creating the new space for Deptford you see today.
Part of The Deptford Project was also the restoration of The Grade II listed carriage ramp, the oldest railway structure in London. Completed in 1835, the ramp was first built as a means for carriages to reach the station.
The arches below the ramp were also used, originally to store the passengers' carriages and horses. Later they became locomotive and carriage works, a use that was shortlived, for after 1851 all railway repair work was moved to Ashford. By the Second World War the arches were opened up once more as air raid shelters. Today, with the help of the Railway Heritage Trust, the carriage ramp has finally been restored to allow pedestrians to reach the station.