My London Secret: No. 50 Friendly Street
Something about London’s rows of near-identikit townhouses, only distinguishable by the colours coating their solid wooden front doors, completely enchants me. Not the white stucco covered, colonnade-embellished ones lining the streets of Mayfair. Nor the sweet pastel hues of Notting Hill, though I’ll admit to spending way too long photographing them when I happen upon the area. It’s the light-brick, low-key Georgian terraces found in Greenwich, St John and the film-set enclave of SE1’s Roupell Street that elicit a strange nostalgia for an era I was never even a part of.
Considerate developments and preserved enclaves like these rebel against the sleek and impersonal buildings springing up in cities all over the world. Once home to the city’s artisans, craftspeople and labourers, they stand defiant while years whir by and the spaces around them morph to the ebb and flow of the zeitgeist. Their front doors open straight onto the narrow pavements, one of the few external signifiers of humble beginnings, long before gentrification whipped them into a subtle Farrow & Ball-tinted frenzy.
50 Friendly St, Deptford, London SE8 4DR
With their old-world charm lovingly and carefully preserved, these abodes take on a character beyond that of bricks and mortar alone. Centuries of chatter fleck and bounce off their history-steeped walls. They instil peace, community and wrap you in layers of narrative from bygone years. No50 Friendly Street in St Johns inhabits one such building, and it’s without a doubt my favourite space to while away the hours with a perfectly poured coffee in hand.
Most likely to be discovered accidentally or by word of mouth, this place conjures a community spirit quite unlike its fellow Ozone-serving, acme cup-using London coffee shops. Nestled on a corner between rows of quaint Georgian terraces, it’s minutes from St John’s and Deptford stations but couldn’t feel further removed from the buzz of South East London.
No50 serves up a delectable array of baked treats, including vegan and gluten-free options, each meticulously sourced by co-owner Renata from her favourite London bakeries. Brunch lovers can also expect staples like avocado and feta on toast and smoothies aplenty.
Those after a space to work in peace can revel in the coffee shop’s backroom, complete with a moss-hued mid-century velvet sofa and a couple of tables for two, tucked away in corners. The small but perfectly formed main space is light-filled and cosy, particularly on a nippy day when the floor-to-ceiling windows mist up and you feel almost transported back in time to the building’s mid-19th century beginnings.
Photographs and Words by: Jade Hammond.