I’m a south east London girl.

I was born in Lewisham Hospital and my first home was a little flat above a shop in Lee High Road, before my family moved to Mottingham, and then eventually moved back to the Lewisham area in the home where I am now.

I have fond memories of summer picnics in Greenwich Park, going to Christmas Tree Farm in Downe and trips to Chislehurst Caves with my nan who recounted all the times she’d been there in the war.

My family all came from south east London and grew up reading the News Shopper, so it was rather full circle for me when I landed this job as a reporter for my hometown.

I’ve covered a lot of changes that have happened to south east London over the years and today I wanted to share some of the things I remember about how south east London used to be when I grew up in south east London.

These are some of the things I remember about growing up in south east London in the early 2000s.

The Lewisham Playbus

I have very vivid memories of a double-decker Routemaster bus, which used to drive around the streets and estates where I lived in Lewisham and let kids come on board.

Inside, the bus was kitted out to entertain children with tables, chairs, games, books and drawing supplies.

Children would go inside and take part in all manner of activities, although I used to always gravitate to the drawing table.

Sadly, the bus was sold in 2014, but even now I will never forget running down the street with my mum, greeted by the sight of that wonderful red bus.

The cinema in Well Hall

Well Hall once had a cinema, known as Coronet Cinema, which was by Well Hall Roundabout.

As the cinema sadly closed in the early 2000s, I only remember visiting it once when I was five to watch The Lion King with my dad.

This was the cinema where I saw my first film and I can still remember the Minnie Mouse ice cream my dad bought me from there.

Shopping for costumes in Harlequin Party Shop

For fancy dress parties I always used to go to Harlequin Party Shop in Lee High Road to buy my costumes.

Even my mum and her siblings used to use it in the 80s, where they would also buy their stink bombs to prank their friends.

I remember buying an Alice in Wonderland outfit for a fancy dress competition and being served by the friendly people who used to run it.

Very sadly the shop closed late last year and honestly it was like a part of my childhood had gone with it.

The playground in Lewisham Shopping Centre

Growing up I always remember there being a little playground in Lewisham Shopping Centre near where the Costa Coffee is now.

The playground had various animal-shaped slides and swings, and I always used to drag my grandparents there and make them watch me play for hours.

Swimming in the Eltham Swimming Baths

Eltham used to have a swimming baths on Eltham Hill near the end of Eltham High Street, close to where the McDonald’s is.

This was also the swimming pool I used to visit every week, with a swimming club that had its smaller teaching pool and a much larger pool you’d use when swimming your lengths.

I still remember the smell of the chlorine that hit you when walking up the ramp past the reception even now.

Sadly, the pool closed in 2008 and was eventually demolished in 2011.

Although by that time I was in my final of sixth form, and so school swimming clubs had long since ended for me.

Lewisham’s Libraries Summer Reading Programmes

Growing up in Lewisham in the early 2000s, the borough always put on summer reading events in libraries, aimed at encouraging people to read over the six-week holidays.

I remember they used to have charts they would give out to the children, with different themes that would change each year.

There was a “Reading Rollercoaster“, a “Reading Planet” and even a “Reading Funfair.”

You’d mark each book off in your chart, which got you further up, and if you marked off every slot with a new book you would receive a certificate and a medal in school.

As a chronically ill child who never got full attendance to be given a certificate for, I always looked forward to this award, as it was one of the only awards I knew I’d be able to achieve off my own back.

Car boot sales at Flamingo Park

Growing up I remember going to the boot fair at Flamingo Park in the Chislehurst area every Sunday.

You could find most things from second-hand books to big items like furniture, and there was always a stall selling crocs for £4 a pair, long before TikTok ordained them as the “must have” fashion accessory.

I remember always begging for a bag of hot doughnuts and I once bought a skateboard that I almost broke my neck on trying to ride.

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The Disney shop at Bromley

As a child, trips to The Glades in Bromley always signified one thing - going into the Disney shop.

That Disney shop was the thing of dreams, where you could play in a pretend castle and watch endless re-runs of Disney trailers on TV screens dotted around the shop.

However, the Disney store sadly closed in March 2021 and the site has since been taken over by new ownership.