Top of the World: Photos of Nunhead Allotments, and the View from the Hill-Top Reservoir


Stuart Road AllotmentsA social at the allotmentsHill-top paradiseLooking eastLooking south towards One Tree Hill and Forest HillOne Tree Hill and the Aquarius Golf Club
Forest Hill from NunheadLooking up to Nunhead ReservoirLooking west to Rye Hill ParkFlowers in Stuart Road AllotmentsFlowers close-upA single flower
Looking north west to the reservoirSunflowersBrockley FootpathShadows on the footpathTop of the worldThe Shard and the City from Nunhead Reservoir
London from Nunhead ReservoirThe view south from Nunhead ReservoirGraffiti on Nunhead Reservoir 1Graffiti on Nunhead Reservoir 2Graffiti on Nunhead Reservoir 3Graffiti on Nunhead Reservoir 4

Top of the World: Nunhead Allotments, and the View from the Hill-Top Reservoir, a set on Flickr.

The photos in this set — the 67th in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike — were taken on September 8, 2012, a lovely Sunny Saturday, and are the second of five sets from September, drawn from the huge archive I’ve been building up of my photographic journeys over the last five months (see the first set here). They also provide a contrast to the photos from November that I published previously, of autumn in south east London (see here, here, here, here and here), although I will soon return to more contemporary photos, as winter is now in full swing and Christmas is just around the corner.

On the day in question, I had set off on a bike ride, and had found myself drawn to the heights of Nunhead, one of the areas next to my home in Brockley, in south east London, where I had lived briefly in 1999, before the birth of my son. Completely unexpectedly, I stumbled on the allotments below Nunhead Reservoir, at the highest point in Nunhead, formerly known as Nunhead Hill, just as people were being let in, and, impulsively, I asked if I could come in and take some photos. For more information, see the Stuart Road Allotment Society’s website, and, for a history of allotments, see the National Allotment Society website, and the article, “A Brief History of Allotments in England.”

I was not only allowed in, as a lovely little social gathering was taking place, and given a drink, but I also became captivated by Nunhead Reservoir, built in 1855, which is the covered reservoir above the allotments, and found out that it can be accessed via Brockley Footpath, the footpath beside the allotments. This runs up to the hill-top beside the allotments and next to Nunhead Cemetery, another of south east London’s little-known treasures, which is one of seven suburban cemeteries built between 1839 and 1841, and it provides those who can locate it — those specifically drawn to the high places — with the most extraordinary views over London, as well as being a magnet for graffiti artists.

This was a fascinating journey — one of many that have occurred since I began my photographic project in May. I was surprised to make such great discoveries near my home, although it was not the first time I have been surprised by parts of London that are almost on my doorstep, to add to the pleasure of discovering completely unknown parts of London further afield.

The next photo set captures aspects of life on the South Bank during the Thames Festival, on the day after this set, and is followed by two sets in the West End, which I undertook after I had been interviewed on the BBC World Service, the day before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, when the prison at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan was in the news.

I hope to see you for those journeys, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy seeing some of the wonders of south east London.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

10 Responses

  1. John says...

    Very nice photos. Strictly, trespassing (Thames Water property, shhh)…. but I’m not complaining.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, John. Yes, I’m sure you’re right, technically, although I think I’m a graduate of the School of Trespassing. I always liked the words of Chief Seattle, the Native American chief:

    “The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.”

    More here:

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Lilia Patterson wrote:

    Nice set, showing the green spaces and blue sky in defiance of the urban sprawl. Lovely.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lilia. Glad to oblige!

  5. Tom says...

    Nice shots. Reminds me of when I got past 10 Downing St. security at the gate. Nobody stopped me or did anything. On the other hand, when I lived in Japan and went to national monuments, sometimes you’d miss the “no pictures” sign. Then, the security guy at the gate would say YOU WITH THE CAMERA. CAN’T YOU READ? NO PICTURES! :). In a very polite way, of course.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    I can imagine that in Japan, Tom. In general, though, I think the more “security” people there are, the less pleasant civic society is. When I was young, you just had to look out for the police, and that was appropriate, I think. Now there people in uniforms everywhere, generally looking for trouble …

  7. Tom says...

    Speaking of security, you should post about comparisons between gun laws in the UK and the States.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Everyone should read this, Tom:
    The gun-lovers in the US are deranged. I see the National Review is blaming the dead children for their own killing, because there weren’t any men at the school.

  9. Tom says...

    Another aspect of this that nobody’s talking about. I got an email in a blast from Obama’s campaign manager. It starts as what seems like a concerned message about the Sandy Hill shootings, how Obama cares and is trying to do something about gun violence. You click on the link and it takes you to a clip of Obama speaking. Then, on the same page you see at least three prominent Donate buttons.

    Obama and the Democrats are deliberately using something horrible to raise campaign funds. NOBODY will talk about this.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    No one except you, Tom! The underlying problem is that money permeates everything in American politics. If lawmakers and administration officials aren’t in the grip of some corporate lobby or other, they’re hustling their supporters. It’s only ever so slightly better here, of course – the corporate power is the same, but we don’t have such eye-wateringly huge amounts of money spent on campaigning.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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