Humans of Catford IV

As ever, we are excited to share more stories from the Humans of Catford series with you all! Today we’re celebrating Sandra and Cleo Thompson; an amazing mother-daughter duo. As well as, Wendy Arnold-Dean who is the chair of the Catford Arts Collective. Photography is by Bernice Mulenga.


Cleo Thompson, 20.

Let’s start by introducing yourself…

I’m Cleo, I’ve lived in Catford since I was born. So, twenty years now. I’m a fashion student in Kingston.


Why did you choose this location for your portrait? 

I feel like its symbolic of my upbringing. I have a lot of memories of going to and from school, and visiting family. This whole collection of streets mean a lot to me.


What do you like about living in Catford?

I love the community, it’s such a diverse and intergenerational community. There are many older people who have lived here for a long time and young people who I have grown up with. I just love the feel of it. There are lots of hidden green spaces as well.


Do you know that it’s going to be regenerated?

Yes, I’ve heard bits and bobs about it. I know there is a regeneration team who are talking about the future of Catford (Team Catford). I find it interesting.

I know there is some talk about how gentrification is also a part of regeneration, that’s the more negative side of the conversation. I do know that it comes with a lot of good things like making the area better and more environmentally friendly.

If you could improve anything what would it be?

I’d like to see more community spaces, spaces that aren’t focused on profit. Youth clubs, for example.


Did you go to any youth clubs growing up?

Not Catford but in Lewisham, yes. There has been a decrease in those activities. We need spaces that don’t charge people to enter.


Back on the topic of regeneration, how do you feel about it?

It does make me feel more anxious than optimistic to think about what the future will be, especially because I’ve grown up here.


What is one of the most unique things you’ve seen in Catford?

Do you know Foster Memorial Park? It’s where Catford Girl’s School used to be. It’s near Conisborough College now and they have a woods section, it’s a massive hidden field. It’s nice to discover those hidden gems.


Sandra Thompson, 56.

Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Sandra Thompson and I work as a teacher in a local school.


How long have you lived in Catford?

Around 30 years. I lived in SE13 before that, so I’ve always been in the area.


What do you like about the area?

I feel really safe here. There has been a real change in the shopping centre, the high-street used to be buzzing. There was so much to do here and it was very welcoming, it was nice.


How do you feel about Catford being regenerated?

It depends on what regeneration means. What I’ve seen in other areas, I don’t particularly like. I was present when the changes in Peckham and Brockley were happening. I feel like they’re losing the ‘humanness’ and the inclusivity of the areas.


If you could improve anything about Catford, what would it be?

I would like to see more regeneration of the shops. We need more inclusive spaces where people can sit down, meet and socialise. I think that’s missing.


Do you have any unique stories of your years in Catford? 

In Catford, on the one-way system, there was a club called the ‘one-oh.’ It was number ten on Branbury road. Me and my sisters used to go there all the time, we’d go there at 10pm and come out in the morning. Now when you look at it it’s just a parade of shops. It doesn’t actually look like something that every one of our colour and of our age went to. It was buzzing! 

Wow that sounds fun, what kind of music was it?

Reggae, soul… I’m talking back in the 90s. It was brilliant!


Wendy Arnold-Dean, 56.

My name is Wendy Arnold-Dean, I’m Chair of the Catford Arts team. We started it four years ago; just five of us. I used to have my own artists open house in Catford every year for about 10 years, before we decided to start Catford Arts.

Why did you choose the plant stall as your location today?

I love plants, I spend a lot of my time at that plant stall. I know Jean fairly well, she’s been here longer than me.

How long have you lived in Catford?

26 years and I’m now on my third Catford house.

What do you like about living in Catford?

When I first came to Catford I didn’t know it that well, but a friend came and showed me how wonderful the houses were. It was a bit undiscovered. I really like that fact. It wasn’t a trendy showy place, I liked that it was quite normal and friendly.

Do you know that Catford is going to be regenerated?

Yes. I think it’s great, anything where you can do something up, make it look better and bring in more things for people to do, bring life back into the place, it’s nice.

If you could improve anything what would it be?

I’m hoping that all the intentions come to reality. I think there is so much that is planned but I hope it doesn’t just become another Peckham.

Do have any fun facts or unique stories about Catford?

I’ve met the woman whose father made the Cat, that was quite fun. I think its quite funny how there are different stories about how Catford got its name and I don’t know if anyone knows the actual truth.  

This is the beginning of an exciting time for Catford Town Centre. The more people involved, the better the needs of the whole community will be reflected.

To make general comments on the Town Centre click here.

To comment on the ideas that the architects have begun to develop click here.

Have your say and please share the project with people you know locally.