Artist and designer John Booth on the “understated cool” of New Cross

I first lived in New Cross when I was studying at Central Saint Martins, then staying with an art teacher and her three cats. It was pretty old school, but I loved it. I moved from rural Cumbria and this town became a town.

I moved back last year to help my boyfriend do up his flat and found that I still have this homesick, nostalgic connection to the area.

It is a little rough and smooth, but it is quite calm and green when you scratch the surface and get off the main strip. This sense of cool is understated. There is a precious lack.

John outside Skehan's (Daniel Lynch)

John outside Skehan’s (Daniel Lynch)

Better to eat and drink

La Placita Mall is a hidden treasure on the main road. It is a Latin American food hall, with many different cuisines from that part of the world. Music is blasting out of each of these mini-foods and you’re in the middle of it. It sounds stressful but it’s really fun – especially if you drink more.

Skehan's Pub, Kitto Road voted best pub in London (Daniel Lynch)Skehan's Pub, Kitto Road voted best pub in London (Daniel Lynch)

Skehan’s Pub, Kitto Road voted best pub in London (Daniel Lynch)

We also have two great Chinese restaurants in New Cross, which is a bit controversial. Hong Kong City has a great atmosphere, it’s a lot of fun, but Uncle Wrinkle is just amazing. I get the pork belly wrapped in lettuce.

I spend a lot of time in the Earl of Derby pub, and Skehan’s towards Nunhead, which does very nice Thai food. I wouldn’t go to Telegraph Hill without going to Skehan’s.

Where I work out

I’m back to running recently, so I’ll run over to Peckham Rye Park through all the nice back streets between New Cross and Nunhead. I’m usually knocked out by the time I get there.

Telegraph Hill Park has views over London (Daniel Lynch)Telegraph Hill Park has views over London (Daniel Lynch)

Telegraph Hill Park has views over London (Daniel Lynch)

To commune with nature

Peckham Rye Park is my “early mid-week morning run” and “leisurely hungover Sunday walk”.

I also love Telegraph Hill Park, with its amazing view across London, and Nunhead Cemetery, which is quite wild and atmospheric. Even Dulwich parks feel walkable from where I live. It’s quite residential, so I don’t have to fight tons of people or traffic to access green space.

Nunhead Air Cemetery, Linden Grove (Daniel Lynch)Nunhead Air Cemetery, Linden Grove (Daniel Lynch)

Nunhead Air Cemetery, Linden Grove (Daniel Lynch)

For culture repair

I can definitely confirm the two exhibitions currently on at Goldsmiths CCA: Matt Connors and Mark Corfield-Moore. It’s a beautiful gallery, and I think they’re getting better at promoting it.

Avalon Cafe is a really cute venue towards Surrey Quays for music and events, which feels completely unpolished or commercial. It’s a bit underground. And I always have a good time at Venue MOT, which is in a nearby warehouse. It feels like going back 20 years — there are about two toilets in the whole place.

Avalon Cafe (Daniel Lynch) is a music venueAvalon Cafe (Daniel Lynch) is a music venue

Avalon Cafe (Daniel Lynch) is a music venue

Another good one is Ormside Projects. On fireworks night last year we saw a one-man light show with robots.

Grocery shopping

Obviously we’ll be going to the big Sainsbury’s all the time, but I tend to go to Nunhead for the butcher and fishmonger.

On Saturdays there’s a dinky farmers market in Telegraph Hill Park that’s good for meat, cheese and other farm produce. It’s the opposite of something like Borough Market, which can be absolute hell – you sit and have a coffee, buy your cheese and go home.

Getting around

It’s so well connected to buses and trains that you don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re not on the Underground. My nearest station is New Cross Gate, but I’ve been going to Peckham Queen’s Road because it’s quieter and the walk is nicer. I still go to my studio in east London every day.

The 172 hero is every bus. As a student I used to get the 172 to Charing Cross Road and even now when I see it, it’s like a comforting presence.

Dream street

Pepys Road is John's dream street (Daniel Lynch)Pepys Road is John's dream street (Daniel Lynch)

Pepys Road is John’s dream street (Daniel Lynch)

Pepys Road, overlooking Telegraph Hill Park. I would love that.

Something you only see in New Cross

There is a real balance between beauty and functionality here. I love walking past the Victorian fire station on Queens Road, which is still in use.

New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)

New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)

What is the catch?

We get pockets of bad traffic, but that’s because it’s a convenient way. It doesn’t bother me.

In three words…

Room to breathe.

John Booth has designed a rug for Floor Story’s 10th anniversary and will present Up in Smoke, by Mat Barnes, to the Now Gallery 2024 Design Commission from 21 June (

John outside New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)John outside New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)

John outside New Cross Fire Station (Daniel Lynch)


Childeric Primary School and St James Hatcham Church of England Primary School, a pair of primary schools in the heart of New Cross, are both rated “Good” by Ofsted. Deptford Green School, Addey and Stanhope School and Haberdashers’ Hatcham College are the main secondary schools.

What does it cost

Buying in New Cross

Average flat price: £369,060

Average house price: £659,630

For rent in New Cross

Average flat rent, pcm: £1,760

Average house rent, pcm: £2,970

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