18 December, 2012
Nell Dunn slummed it in Battersea. She crossed the river and made it the subject of her 1963 book 'Up the Junction' which documents the working class lives she shared at least in her fiction. And who can forget Dennis Waterman in the film version? Not me that's for sure. Nell Dunn seems to have brought the whole of Chelsea over with her in the fifty years since her book was published. Battersea has gone posh! Now it's full of shops, some of them with an extraordinary degree of specialisation: I went into one called 'the honey shop' that just sells products made by bees, and derived from them. Not sure many bees produce flower pots with beeswax candles in though. The main merit of Battersea is a shopping centre, with some strange specialist shops selling at premium prices. I couldn't find a pound shop here. There are also lots of restaurants, although not the restaurants that, together with barber shops makes one think that a neighbourhood has been colonised by unskilled workers from overseas. These are the type of restaurants found in posh shopping centres. This pub used to be the Temperance Billiard Hall - with 17 tables no less. To be truthfull Battersea has its cultural side too. There is the Battersea Arts Centre in the former Battersea Hown Hall. The building has some original features like a bee mosaic on the floor and the Ayes and Noes lobbies in the former Council Chamber. I once spent a never to be forgotten night there watching an opera about Dennis Neilsen and his murderous ways. There was no interval because nobody would have come back. The library is also rather splendid, at least the 1924 extension in the Arts and Crafts style. It's also worth going into to see the woodwork around the reference library, although this is not well cared for. So Battersea is posh, but you'll still find an Asda. Maybe not quite as posh as we thought.