View Full Version : Some advice about things Southwarkish/Londonish

11-12-2009, 04:38 AM
My WP is about two "council brats" from an imaginary council estate in the borough of Southwark called just Gardens.

It is not as bad as Aylesbury estates, but it's not a happy place anyway.

Writing this, I've made many assumptions that may not check out, and I thought I'd turn to any experts you to see if I could get some advice about these matters.

Here's a number of questions:

1) My MC Michael's mother works in the London underground as a ticketeer. What would be the salary levels of one that had worked in that same position for 10 years?

2) Michael's mother has also put him in a posh secondary school called St Joseph's. A non-denominational catholicish private school in the upper results range. What would the typical tuition fees yearly be for a school of this type?

3) Are there any government or municipal grants that would be awarded to either accomplished students, or to low paid workers, to put their children in schools like this?

4) I know a lot of council estates in Britain are getting either refurbished, and/or completely torn down - like Aylesbury estates - but I sort of work on the premise that urban blight is still prevelant in many of them, and Gardens har a 40% unemployment rate, many single families, many children, and very transient "parenting". Is this stil the case?

5) The borough of Southwark, is it sort of splintered up in many different communities, so that you have affluent ones right next to poor ones? What I'm after is... is there a geographic correlation between levels of poverty and location? For instance, if I walked through Southwark from London Bridge to the south border, would it get progressively worse the further south I get, or would my walk be very diverse?

6) Having been a lot in South Ealing, I've sort of made assumptions on the time it takes to travel from Kensington to Gardens, and that assumption is 40 minutes. Is this a fair assumption?

As you can see, I've not been in Southwark, and know little about it, but since when have I ever followed the advice "write about what you know" anyway?

I hope you have some answers, and advice, for me.


11-12-2009, 12:13 PM
I can't give you precise figures but here goes:

1 - fuck all
2 - about 2-3 times the figure in 1, private schools are EXPENSIVE
3 - not as far as I know
4 - pretty much
5 - diverse, although not as much as you might think
6 - fair enough, London is very dense so travel times are highly dependent on precise locations and means of travel

Google Maps Streetview will let you have a walkthrough of Southwark

I've never heard of anyone but doctors, lawyers, and the wealthy putting their kids into a private school in London, the fees are astronomical. There's absolutely no way that a ticket clerk could pay for a child in private education.

11-12-2009, 02:07 PM
1. Guessing 15-18k for a full-time worker
2. 7-10k a year for a day school
3. May well be bursaries/scholarships offered by the school or some private foundation. Private schools which have charitable status are under a lot of pressure to increase their accessibility
4 - Pretty much - big problem with gangs on some of these estates.
5- Diverse
6 - try using the Transport for London journey planner at www.tfl.gov.uk

11-12-2009, 03:21 PM
Thanks! Appreciated.

I had figured tuition was about 1-2k cheaper. I guess Karen O'Malley isn't as honest as I have thought. Damn when bi-characters go and become a bit more shady just like that...

And thanks for the link to the tfl-site. I feel a bit silly. I'm regularly at that site, but hadn't actually consulted it this time... :/

11-12-2009, 03:59 PM
Last time I was down there, I was surprised how near the Thames some of the grim estates were. You'd cut down a couple of streets and find yourself in knife city.

11-12-2009, 04:49 PM
When is the book set? There used to be a government-sponsored Assisted Places scheme that helped bright kids get into independent schools, but it was abolished by Blair in 1997.

11-12-2009, 05:33 PM
Oh, it's unmentioned present time, thought it would have been interesting to set it in Thatchers time with Section 28 and the poll tax troubles...

11-13-2009, 01:01 PM
You might want to check rent prices in London. A single bed flat is about a minimum of 8K per annum (700 per month), there are cheaper places but they're few and far between.

If your MC's mother is living with someone else and not paying rent she could maybe afford the fees, assuming that they are only 7-10K. Although I think Waylander's numbers are too low but can't verify, it's strange how private schools aren't upfront about their fees.

As a 'poor' person your MC would face difficulties at a private school from other children and parents. Although a lot of children get taken to and from school by their nannies (this is what my wife used to do) who would not be judgmental. At the same time they will also be treated badly by the other council brats on the estate. Private schools usually require a unifrom to be worn as well, although that may be changing for some institutions.

Some schools require the pupils to pass entrance exams and 'keep up their grades' regardless of how much you pay. There are a lot of wealthy people living in London and competition is fierce.

Also going to a private school will have a strong effect on your MC's character.

11-13-2009, 01:25 PM
I've figured about 1000 per month for a two bedroom flat, which is some sort of half-guesstimate of Peckham prices. I think that's a reasonable assumption.

I just need to figure out how to bridge the gap, because my MCs mother is a formidable woman that does not intend for her boy to be unemployed, a father, and with no hope at 20.

And yes, Michael does not have an easy time. He's "that posh fag" in Gardens, and he's not liked in his school.

11-13-2009, 02:02 PM
That's prices for privately rented accommodation. Council/housing association rents are lower

11-13-2009, 04:58 PM
Oddly enough Gumtree will give you a good idea of flats to rent in Peckham:


Council housing availability is variable, and cna be difficult to get, once you've got it you're goood though.

11-13-2009, 05:29 PM
Digging around is actually quite interesting. Informative even. There is so many levels at work here - from the national taxman to the council. There's many benefits open to an employed single mother.

But the easiest will be to resurrect Michael's father from the dead, move him sufficiently far away, and just have him pay child maintenance that will cover the difference, and have him not return Michael's calls.

But, thanks for persisting with me and my maybe naive questions about this. :)

11-13-2009, 06:00 PM
Single mothers get priority on housing lists so it is fairly possible that she would get a council flat.