Camberwell: The heart and soul of South London

SE5 all the way


Camberwell is, simply put, a nice place to live. If you want to live in South London, you could do a lot worse. You could be shunted further south in Penge, or you could be insufferably middle class and be from Dulwich (next time I get a haircut and am offered a glass of water, I want it to be water flavoured, not cucumber flavoured).

But Camberwell is just right. Straddling Dog Kennel Hill, it allows for access to many of South London’s best spots, as well as acquitting itself well on its own terms. It’s cosy, comfortable and clean. But if you grow tired of it, you can go on an adventure quite easily.


If you should find yourself wanting to escape the cosiness of Camberwell, then your options are myriad. A quick walk to Peckham for a £5 film at the Plex (only £1 extra for 3D!), or perhaps an evening’s entertainment at the Bussey Building (which in summer does its own rooftop cinema events) or Frank’s?

A mere ten minutes away from Camberwell (ignore these hashtags please)

Alternatively, if you want to head in the other direction, Brixton is just a P4 away, but why would you want to ever go there? Even further afield are transport options with numerous buses to Waterloo, Victoria and beyond and trains from Denmark Hill.

Gateway to the City

In short, if you need a southern-based staging post for a potential expedition into the rest of this nation’s great capital, few places are better suited to filling such a niche.

The 176 is everything

The 176 bus is magical. Living so far away from the centre means that people in Camberwell and its surrounds know how to make their own fun: house parties abound and to us the strongest definition of going “out” is going to the Prince of Wales in Brixton or the aforementioned Peckham venues.

A noble steed

However, every so often there will come a time when an adventurous group of young people elects to brave the harsh Central London environment and make a go of a night at the Roxy. In this case, the 176 bus is the Camberwell clubber’s knight in shining armour, delivering him or her all the way up the Walworth Road, up past the Elephant and Castle, over Waterloo Bridge, and into the polluted embrace of Tottenham Court Road’s nightlife, giving you plenty of time to see off those road beers you snuck on the bus. Did I mention it’s 24-hour?

Camberwell’s Wetherspoons is the best Wetherspoons

You big, beautiful bastard

The Fox on the Hill is THE Wetherspoons pub. All others are mere imitators. It sits resplendently (nearly) on top of Champion Hill, master of all it surveys, and is a beacon of hope to cantankerous old housing estate codgers, sixth formers hoping they’ve got enough facial hair to probably not get ID’d, and university students home for the holidays, teary-eyed at the prospect of a £2.49 Tuborg in the middle of an expensive city. Obligatory shout out to pitchers which I definitely have not grown out of.

Intelligent people everywhere

Not only is Camberwell home to UAL’s Camberwell College of Arts, it’s also the site of various King’s College sites, including a hall of residence as well as King’s College Hospital, the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute for Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences. Camberwell is thus a place of congregation for some of the finest young artistic and scientific minds in the country, raising the average IQ of the area by couple of points.


Ruskin Park and Camberwell Green are well kept, nicely maintained open spaces where you can walk your dog with impunity and breathe in that fresh South London air. Also, the fact that the former is on a hill means you actually get a view of the skyline from SE5, pretty nifty if you ask me.

This is not to mention the nearby presences of the much larger Dulwich Park (whose sit-down tricycles for hire were the staple of many a fifth birthday party) and the mammoth Brockwell Park, whose lido is famed in the summer for its events. All this grass means that you can at least tell yourself that in this corner of London, the air might actually be clean.

This is South London, I promise you

Best of both worlds

All in all, Camberwell is diverse, providing living space for all sorts of people. It caters nicely to a low-key suburban feel, but if that’s not your cup of tea you can get out of there and head for the big city in a pinch, and in a number of ways.

It is emblematic of the great cultural melting pot that is London, where upper middle class enclaves rub shoulders with the city’s prime exporter of jerk chicken, where from a relaxed suburb perched upon an ancient hill the capital’s tallest skyscrapers can be seen, and where, of course, there is a Wetherspoons pub, one of the few true indicators of a region’s attractiveness.

The Camberwell Carrot

We bloody invented it.