If you’ve been keeping an eye on the pavement in Deptford recently (and why wouldn’t you?), you may have spotted some nautical imagery around the junction of the High Street and Deptford Broadway. While the markings could be taken for the work of a keen Popeye fan, they’re actually tributes to a London maritime legend – the Deptford Anchor.
The giant relic of the area’s shipbuilding heritage was a fixture on Deptford High Street for 23 years until it was hauled off by Lewisham Council in April. No explanation was given for its removal, though the landmark had become a meeting place for the area’s alfresco drinking community, and was in the path of £2.1 million regeneration scheme for the High Street. Whatever the reason, its loss has clearly left some SE8 residents feeling all at sea.
Memorials to the anchor have sprung up online, and the disappearance of the monument even prompted one artist to urge mourning south Londoners to write their feelings about the anchor on Post-its and stick them to a cardboard replica of the object at the Southbank Centre’s recent My Deptford event.
Sue Lawes, a resident of the area for 33 years, says of the pavement scribbles, ‘There were three when I last checked. We don’t know who’s responsible for them – it could be people who live nearby. It’s a mystery.’
No one knows when or if the anchor is returning. Lewisham Council says that ‘a decision has not been made about the relocation of the anchor’, which they say is currently in storage at nearby Convoys Wharf, site of a controversial redevelopment project.
Rumours about its fate abound on local blogs, including its re-siting in the middle of a roundabout (surely not a good idea if it’s a magnet for street drinkers?). But until the day that the anchor’s fate is revealed, residents are showing their love for their lost landmark by marking the spot where it used to stand. Without it, Deptford seems rather cut adrift from its past. Flo Wales Bonner