Beating the Bounds of Lee, Part 3 – through Grove Park

During the COVID-19 lockdown Running Past has been following the boundary of Victorian Lee a few years before it was subsumed into Lewisham, aided only by a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map and a smattering of knowledge of the area. The previous two posts have taken us in stages, from Lee Green to Winn Road, appropriately passing Corona Road en route; the second took us On through Grove Park, crossing the never built Ringway, We’d left the boundary on Grove Park Road, on top of a culverted Grove Park Ditch, with a marker that had been weathered beyond any potential to decipher.  

For the pedants of periphery, the boundary marker is no longer on the boundary, in adjusting it to the rear fences of Marvels Lane it has led to the now Bromley – Lewisham boundary dog legging down the middle of Grove Park Road, the small sign of the former and the larger one of the latter announce the changes.  

The route followed in this section was entirely rural in 1893 as the Ordnance Survey map below shows with the Morse code dot dash line – although the most southerly end of Victorian Lee, the largely John Pound developed ‘new town’ of Grove Park is visible to the north east.

One the opposite side of Grove Park Road is the attractive Chinbrook Estate, built by the Greater London  Council (GLC) in the early 1960s; it is a development that has been covered by the 21st century’s foremost chronicler of council housing, Municipal Dreams, who noted 

“What was exceptional ….is the overall architectural and design quality of the Estate…..Chinbrook is a reminder of the best that might be achieved with proper investment and careful planning.”

Like the much larger Downham estate, which we will encounter further along the Lee boundary, it is an estate that straddles a boundary, Mottingham to the east, Lee to the west in 1893, at least.  The 21st century boundary is slightly different and is a currently  a Lewisham to Bromley one, The divisions aren’t immediately obvious, but as with Upwood Road further back, while there are no boundary stones, the  21st century markers are clear.  Along with the Borough colour coded bins, the Borough street signage indicates the location – white on blue for Lewisham, white on green for Bromley (plus some faded black on white signage, perhaps from the GLC era).

Back in 1893 there was a boundary marker close to where Grove Park Ditch now enters its long culvert on the edge of the estate; if it is still there, it is lost in the dense undergrowth.  Whilst the border probably ought to have followed Grove Park Ditch it doesn’t and seems to have followed field and probably ownership boundaries.  So the border follows what is now a fence between the attractive Lower Marvels Wood and the rear gardens of Grace Close.  The name coming from ‘W G’ who lived both in Mottingham and Sydenham. The estate provides links to other Lewisham sporting greats, Henry Cooper Way and Lions (Millwall’s nickname) Close. 

Over Dunkery Road, the 2020 boundary has been slightly amended compared with its late Victorian counterpart to cope with the slight dog leg of Duddington Close. There has also been a slight adjustment to for the 1930s council housing of Bilsby Grove.

The late Victorian boundary of Lee was at the border between the woodland of Marvels Wood and farmland.  The woodland remains but behind the council housing of Charminster Road the former fields have become Grove Park Cemetery.  It was an out of town burial solution by the Borough of Deptford whose main burial ground, Brockley Cemetery, was almost full by the early 1930s.  Running Past has covered Brockley Cemetery several times in the past, notably in relation to the murder of Jane Clouson who was buried there in the 1870s and has a large memorial.

Grove Park Cemetery was designed by their Borough Surveyor H Morley Lawson and ‘juxtaposed formal and informal elements and the cemetery buildings showed the influence of Moderne and Art Deco style.’  It was used from 1935.

From Bromley side of the boundary, the cemetery is largely hidden, albeit rather attractively by a hundred metre long mural by the seemingly now defunct Onit Design. At the top of the hill, within a metre of the boundary there is some even more impressive artwork, a chainsaw carving by Will Lee, which seems somewhat apt when following the Lee boundary.  There is some more of his work about 100 metres into the woods.

A couple of metres further on there is a very weathered boundary marker which in the Victorian Ordnance Survey map was a three way marker for Lee, Mottingham and Bromley; now the bigger London Boroughs of Bromley and Lewisham.  A metre or two along the path is another, hard to spot boundary marker, just inside the heavy duty palisade fencing ‘protecting’ the cemetery from the Green Chain Walk in what is now Elmstead Woods. It is unusual in the that it marks the direction of the boundary, located as it is on an angle.  The direction is incorrect as it appears that the marker was moved at the time of construction of the cemetery and unintentionally rotated by 90°.

The 1893 boundary darted easterly across the fields  towards Grove Park, the current variant, dating from 1991, is a little more circuitous and reflects the ownership of the cemetery and skirts its border.

There was, and probably still is, another marker at the eastern edge of the cemetery. However, in the very dense undergrowth it proved impossible to find amidst the brambles and nettles (poor companions for a short-clad runner).  All was not lost though, there was a marker of sorts – a Lewisham bollard, marking the  boundary of car park and Green Chain Walk.

Over the car park the Victorian boundary followed the northern edge of what are now allotments – we’ll leave the boundary there for a while before we go through Chinbrook and on to the edge of the Downham Estate.  

Credits and Thanks

The Ordnance Survey map is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial licence.

The series of posts on the Lee boundary that this post is part of, would probably not have happened without Mike Horne, he was the go-to person on London’s boundary markers; he had catalogued almost all of them in a series of documents. He was always helpful, enthusiastic and patient. He died of a heart attack in March but would have loved my ‘find’ of a London County Council marker in some undergrowth on Blackheath during 2020’s lockdown, and would have patiently explained the details of several others he knew to me. A sad loss, there is a lovely series of tributes to him via this link.

The Four Churches of St Peter, Eltham Road

When the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited the area around Eltham Road, to the east of Lee Green, for the first time in 1863, a small number of large houses had been laid out at the edge of suburbia of Victorian London.  The feel though would have been rural, little different to when horse racing had happened in the fields parallel to the main road and Quaggy up until the mid -1840s.

The change in the next four or five years was dramatic with new housing laid out along Eltham Road, almost up to what is now Sutcliffe Park.  As the local MP remarked in 1870, ‘in a short period a town has sprung up in the neighbourhood.’  (1)

As we have seen with new developments elsewhere in the area churches followed soon afterwards – Christ Church in Lee Park (1854), Holy Trinity, Glenton Road (1863), St Mildred’s in 1871, the original Church of the Good Shepherd in 1881 along with the Baptist Chapel at the corner of Eastdown Park in 1854.  This new ‘town’ between Lee Green and Eltham was no different.

From around 1867, possibly slightly before, there was a temporary ‘iron church’ that was built somewhere in the area which was called St Peter, the exact location isn’t clear – a Rev. A Tien being appointed to minister from there from a church in Bedfordshire (2). As we have seen in relation to an iron church on what is now Baring Road (see above), ‘tin tabernacles,’ as they were often referred to, provided quick solutions to the provision of a church whilst funds were raised to build a permanent place of worship.

The foundation stone for the permanent church (pictured above) was laid on 3 December 1870 by Lady Louisa Mills, who was the wife of the local MP for West Kent, Charles Mills. He obviously wasn’t that impressed with his wife laying the foundation stone; his speech ‘regretting very much the absence of a member of the Royal Family’ (3). The Conservative Mills had previously lost his seat in Northallerton, amidst a bribery scandal. Also present at both the foundation stone laying and the service in the iron church that preceded it, were the Vicar Designate, the Rev J L Macdonald, along with the Vicars of Eltham and Greenwich (4).

The church was on the corner of what it now Lyme Farm Close and Courtlands Avenue, although it was just one street then referred to simply as The Avenue.  There were a dozen or so large houses in the development plus perhaps another 150 large houses along Eltham Road, Cambridge Road (now Drive), along with Weigall, Osberton and Leyland Roads.  It was an ambitious project for a small, albeit probably relatively wealthy and pious area.  So, there was a range of fundraising activity to help pay including bazaars and concerts to help pay for the new church (5).

In the end, it all came together quite quickly with the new church consecrated in July 1871, just six months after the foundation stone was laid.  The ceremony was undertaken by the Bishop of Colombo, in the absence of the Bishop of Rochester, most of local clergy in the area being present too.   The church seemed large for the area – holding 750 and cost £4,500 to build (6).

The local paper, the Kentish Mercury, described it as ‘early French’ in style consisting of ‘nave, side aisles and an octagonal chancel…. surmounted by a very characteristic tower and spire…..Both externally and internally the edifice is of red brick, relieved with copious Bath stone dressings’ (7).

The architects were Newman and Billing, both called Arthur, who were based in Tooley Street and had an extensive practice mainly concerned with church work from around 1860.  They were also acted as surveyors to Guy’s Hospital and to St Olave’s District Board of Works in Bermondsey.   Other work included the design of the Grade II listed St Luke’s in Hackney and the Grade I listed Parish Church of St Dunstan and All Saints (The Church of the High Seas)

The builders were Dove Brothers who were a long standing Islington based builders operational between 1781 and 1993, well known for late Victorian church construction building around 130 churches between 1858 and 1900, mainly in London.

The church had parish rooms, a some distance away in St Peter’s Court at Lee Green, behind the New Tiger’s Head. The first mention in Kelly’s Directories was in 1894, but given the naming of the alley (which is still there) it probably dates from the 1880s or before. The last mention of the parish rooms was around 1911.

The church seems to have suffered as the wealthy suburban residents moved on and was closed in 1939 in a poor state of repair; several of the houses were empty on Courtlands Avenue when the 1939 Register was collected as war broke out, with others in multiple occupation – a parish probably unable to cope with the high running costs of the building. While no damage was marked on the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps (8) – given there were a couple of V-1s that fell on neighbouring fields it seem seems likely that there was some damage; certainly the church website suggests that. It seems that the remaining parishioners worshiped for a while at the elegantly situated St John’s at the top of Eltham Hill.

The church was declared redundant in 1960, and along with the rest of the housing on Courtlands Avenue was demolished, probably the same year. The much denser housing, seemingly built by Wates. All that remains now is the war memorial, which has a brief note about the church’s history.

Courtlands Avenue wasn’t the only area of large housing demolished in the early post war period – flats appeared on Ravens Way and opposite on Reed Close – maybe 99 year Crown leases were coming to an end.  There was to be much larger scale development redevelopment around Lee Green, again on Crown land.

The new, denser developments with hundreds more homes provided a nascent congregation and the church re-established itself in a wooden hall on the corner of Weigall Road in 1960, joining with the, then recently rebuilt, Church of the Good Shepherd in Handen Road.  

The plot on which the hall that the church took over seems to have been undeveloped until the late 1930s when it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as Pyke Jocelyn School of Dancing, it changed hands during the war to become Saville Hall School of Dancing before a 1960 listing as St Peter’s Church. 

The wooden structure was replaced by a smaller, attractive multi-purpose building in 1983, presumably at least partially paid for by the sale of part of the site for a sheltered housing development next door.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
  2. Bedfordshire Times and Independent 16 July 1867
  3. Kentish Mercury 10 December 1870
  4. ibid
  5. Kentish Mercury 10 June 1871
  6. Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
  7. ibid
  8. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p120

Credits

  • The photographs of the original church are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, remain their copyright and are used with their permission
  • The photograph of the tin tabernacle on what is now Baring Road was from eBay in September 2016
  • The Kelly’s Directory data is from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark Archives

Beating The Bounds of Lee – Winn Road to Grove Park

In the last post, we returned to the old tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ of the civil parish of Lee, ‘armed’ mainly with a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map of the area and a decent amount of local knowledge of the history. The survey for the map had been carried out in 1893, but it seems to have updated to reflect boundary changes relating to Mottingham in 1894.

We had left the Lee boundary on Winn Road, part of a small estate developed by William Winn, which, appropriately for the time this post was written, includes Corona Road.

The route followed is the red line on adjacent Ordnance Survey map. It was broadly the same circuit that had been followed in 1822 by the great and the good of the parish. Included in their number, although not in the ‘good’ part, was the final tenant of Lee Place, the odious Benjamin Aislabie – a slave owner after slavery was abolished in the Empire. At least the parish spelled his name incorrectly as ‘Aislibie’ when naming a street after him.

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We had left the boundary at the final of a trio of 1903 Lewisham boundary markers at the south easterly junction of Winn and Guibal Roads. Lee was merged with Lewisham into the Borough of Lewisham in 1900. The 1893 boundary was about 15 metres to the west and cut across to what is now Burnt Ash Pond, mid way down Melrose Close. The current Lewisham boundary with Greenwich veers off to the east down Winn Road to the Quaggy.

Burnt Ash Pond is usually a delightful little oasis of calm, but seemed to be suffering from lock down, seemingly covered with either duckweed or green algae when passed by on this occasion. The 1893 variant of the boundary passed through the Pond and continued southwards down Melrose Close, attractive late 1970s council housing, diminished by an entrance through largely abandoned garages. In 1893 the boundary passed through back gardens parallel to Burnt Ash Hill, almost opposite College Farm. There is an 1865 Lee Parish marker hidden in the undergrowth next to the pond, although it is not visible from the outside.

The name ‘Melrose’ came from another farm which seems to have evolved out of Horn Park Farm, whose farm yard we crossed in the first post, and was essentially a market garden operation and was also referred to as Woodman’s Farm, after its tenants. The Close was probably part of its land. Its farmhouse in Ashdale Road remains and was used as a site office for the developers of much of the area we are about to pass through, Wates. The farm’s main claim to fame was the unintentional landing of Willows II (pictured below) which was aiming for Crystal Palace and in the process created a record for the longest airship flight.

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The boundary continues parallel to Burnt Ash Hill until a point almost opposite Ashwater Road when it follows what are now the rear fences of houses on the northern side of Senlac Road, presumably named after the likely location of the Battle of Hastings. In the back garden of a group of Wates built interwar semis between Exford and Ashdale Roads, there was once the junction of the parishes of Lee, Eltham and Mottingham. The house with three boundaries, then had two and now has none – the Bromley boundary is now at the bottom of the hill following the Quaggy. The change is a relatively recent one, dating from 1991 proposals, the current resident remembers paying council tax to both Lewisham and Bromley. In 1893 we would have been in fields.

The 1893 boundary broadly followed what is now an access road to the rear of houses in Jevington Road. The end of Jevington Road has a chain link fronted jungle facing it, the boundary pierces through the chain link, on the Mottingham side of the 19th century border is now a Den of a former Dragon, a Bannatyne Health Club. The Lee side is, arguably even healthier – some allotments, along with a community volunteer run library.

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This section would have been very different if the Conservative run Greater London Council (GLC) plans for Ringway 2 had come to fruition in the late 1960s. In South London, it was essentially a motorway replacement for the South Circular.

There was much secrecy about the detail of the route, although the most likely version suggested by Chris Marshall would have seen a five lane motorway driven through the allotments, with a minor interchange for Burnt Ash Hill and a major one on Baring Road. There was much opposition across south London to the scheme, and the absence of a motorway here points to its success. The only tangible remains of Ringway in the area is an eponymous community centre on Baring Road.

Returning to 1893, when the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited, the Grove Park Hospital had yet to be built – that wouldn’t be for another 15 years. We’ve covered the hospital when we followed the Quaggy through these parts.

On the northern wall is a boundary marker – the ‘MP’ is clear in that it relates to Mottingham Parish which from 1894 to 1934 was a ‘detached’ part of the Bromley Rural District. The ‘LP’ is less clear, Lee had disappeared into Lewisham by the time the hospital was built, but it was the Borough of Lewisham rather than the parish.

In 1893 the parish of Lee meandered across the soon to be hospital site, changing direction at a tree that doubled up as a boundary marker. The tree is long gone, presumably felled when the hospital was constructed and the boundary moved to the edge of the hospital site. Oddly, in the housing that replaced most of the hospital buildings, there is a tree at the same point as the former boundary marker.

On the eastern side of the hospital site, Lee’s boundary takes on a new format, the Quaggy. Rivers and streams often form the boundaries between parishes and local authorities, as we have found with several streams and rivers – including the River Wilmore in Penge and Border Ditch that we will encounter later in our perambulation around Lee.

Alas, the conterminous boundary with the Quaggy (shown top left below) only lasts for around 50 metres, about 2 and a half chains of Victorian measurement. However, we swap one watercourse for another as the boundary veers off the the east, following Grove Park Ditch, which depending on rainfall levels either cascades or splutters into the Quaggy (top right, below).

The confluence is a pipe opposite the Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve, named after the farm workers cottages above. The nomenclature ‘Ditch’ is used quite a lot within the Quaggy catchment, it shouldn’t be seen as belittling or derogatory it is just the way smaller streams are described – there also are Milk StreetBorder and Petts Wood further upstream.

About 50 metres inside the Lee side of the boundary, Lewisham Natureman has been recently active – a new stag has been painted, drinking from the Quaggy (or would be in more typical flows) in the shade of an elder bush. We will return to his work at a few other points on our travels around the Lee boundary.

The course of Grove Park Ditch isn’t certain, it is culverted for almost half a mile, but would have crossed the fields below more or less parallel to a very rural looking Marvels Lane from 1914, presumably coterminous with the boundary.

There is a boundary marker outside 94 Grove Park Road. It is weathered and unreadable, but marks the Lee boundary with Mottingham – given the style is similar to those around Winn Road at the beginning of this section it probably dates from 1903, however, the location of the boundary was the same in 1893.

In the next instalment, we will follow the boundary through the rural Grove Park of 1893.

Picture Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey Map is via the National Library of Scotland, it is used here on a non-commercial licence
  • The picture of Willows II is from an original postcard in the authors ‘collection’
  • The Ringway map comes from Chris Marshall’s fascinating website
  • The postcard of Grove Park is from e Bay in November 2016

The series of posts on the Lee boundary that this post is part of, would probably not have happened without Mike Horne, he was the go-to person on London’s boundary markers; he had catalogued almost all of them in a series of documents. He was always helpful, enthusiastic and patient. He died of a heart attack in March but would have loved my ‘find’ of a London County Council marker in some undergrowth on Blackheath during 2020’s lockdown, and would have patiently explained the details of several others he knew to me. A sad loss, there is a lovely series of tributes to him via this link.

Beating The Bounds of Lee – Lee Green to Winn Road

As regular readers of Running Past will be aware, the blog has followed the course of a number of natural features and human constructs – rivers and streams, notably the Quaggy and its tributaries, the Greenwich Park branch railway and the Prime Meridian from the edge of Croydon, back through Lewisham and to the Greenwich Observatory. Such wanders make for interesting cross sections of the city. We turn our attention to another of these constructs – the boundary of the former civil parish of Lee which existed until 1900.

Beating the bounds is an ancient tradition, reminding parishioners of the importance of boundaries which was carried out during Rogationtide—the fifth week after Easter. There would be a walking of the parish boundaries, with children would carrying willow which would be used to beat the boundary markers. The boundary markers might be stones, streams or marks on trees, or roads. Oddly, other than around Lee Green, roads seem to have been neglected in deciding the parish boundaries of Lee.

No willow will be harmed in the perambulation of Lee, the on-ground research for which appropriately started on Rogation Sunday. The variant of Lee that we will be metaphorically beating is the civil parish mapped with the second edition of the Ordnance Survey 6” to the mile series. It was was surveyed in 1893 and published a few years later, just before Lee was merged with Lewisham to form the new Borough of Lewisham in 1900.

Lee in 1893 was a long narrow parish, a width of just over a mile and a quarter at its broadest point between Lee Bridge at the western end of Lee High Road to just beyond Cambridge Drive’s junction with Eltham Road. It’s length was around 5 miles at its longest – Blackheath, just to the north of the railway, in the north, to Marvels Wood on the borders of Mottingham to the south. The boundary was around 14 miles long, although with the diversions made to avoid trespass and Hot Fuzz style demolition of garden fences the actual 21st century trip around the borders of late 19th century Lee is somewhat longer….

We start at Lee Green, one of the three original centres of Lee, along with Old Road and the top of Belmont Hill; it had the green that it’s name implies, along with a windmill and a farm. The boundary with Liberty of Kidbrooke was to the north east, beyond the Quaggy and with the Parish of Eltham in the north eastern quadrant of Lee Green and to the north of Eltham Road. In 1893, that quadrant included a previous incarnation of the New Tigers Head, then called the Tiger Tavern, the photograph below was taken around 1897.

The Old Tigers Head shown above was the 1896 variant; three years before, when the Ordnance Survey visited, it was the earlier building pictured below. It was about to be demolished with the pub briefly migrating a couple of doors down during the rebuilding.

On the Lee side, the farm, called Lee Green Farm, had been there in 1863 when the Ordnance Survey cartographers first mapped the area, but had been demolished soon after. The farm building had been relocated to the current site of Leybridge Court on the already built Leyland Road by 1893.

Opposite, the impressive Fire Station would still be 13 years away, and its predecessor on Lee High Road a couple of years off, it would be the temporary Old Tigers Head first.

The boundary followed the centre of Eltham Road; in 1893 there was a boundary post more or less next to the easternmost leg of Ravens Way, presumably named after the Ravensbourne Athletic, whose buildings were incorporated into the post war development, but had not been developed in 1893. In the first incarnation of the Ordnance Survey map, the Lee Green Toll Gate (pictured below) would have been a few metres behind, a bus stop is located in its place now. Tolls were meant to cover the costs of maintaining the roads, but with the coming of the railways (1849 in Lewisham and Blackheath) income dropped and in 1888 the remaining Turnpike Trusts were wound up with responsibilities going to the local authorities.

The current, and indeed 1893 surveyed boundary, goes to the rear of the houses in Cambridge Drive, following the edge of the Old Colfeans playing fields. Cambridge Drive, originally Road, and the land bordering Eltham Road had been one of the first parcels of land sold from Horn Park Farm for housing by the Crown Estate. The 1890s and current variants of the boundary slightly diverge around Dorville Road, briefly, home to Edith Nesbit. The former border slightly cut across the playing fields, but was presumably revised to ensure that the cricketing boundaries weren’t crossed by administrative ones.

The boundary, now with Greenwich (in 1863 with Eltham), re-emerges on Upwood Road. Former municipal generations needed to make boundary stones or even marks on trees to indicate the edge of their territory. Their modern counterparts have more subtle methods – different shades of tarmac, wheelie bins of changed hues and my favourite here, the humble street light. Lewisham has energy efficient, 21st century LED lights whereas the Royal Borough has a cornucopia of types including some rather attractive Borough of Woolwich concrete ones which probably dates from the 1950s.

The 1893 and current variants again diverge at this point, the former boundary heading south east, the current one turning back westwards behind elegant interwar detached houses of Upwood Road. The divergence seems to have been after the move of Colfe’s, then a Grammar School, in 1963. The original had been in a site between Lewisham Hill and Granville Park in Lewisham.

It had been largely demolished by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944 – the site is pictured above, and until the 1960s used what are now Brindishe Green and Trinity Primary schools in Beacon and Leahurst Roads respectively. The new school would have stood astride the then Woolwich and Lewisham boundary, so the current variant hugs the railway line heading towards Mottingham from Lee.

The boundary crosses the South Circular close to Alnwick Road where a pleasant Green is situated. The 1893 flâneur would have found the last large farm of Lee at the southern edge of the green on what is now Horncastle Road. Running Past has already told the story of Horn Park Farm; but there was a cautionary tale that is worth repeating in relation to boundaries.

Magistrates at the Green Man in Blackheath had to decide on the case of whether Lee or Eltham parishes should pay for the care of a farm worker at the farm. The boundary passed through the centre of the house on the farm he lived in. In fact, his bed was actually on the boundary – the magistrates found in favour of Lee as the farm labourer would have put his feet on the Eltham side first.

The development of Horncastle Road seemed to follow field boundaries, which also marked the administrative border. There were a couple of stones in 1893 that have been replaced by rear garden fences. As we saw in a post on Corona Road, the Crown Estate, had sold off land alongside Burnt Ash Hill, initially used as a brick works used by John Pound and then developed by William Winn. Almost all of Winn’s development has been lost to the Blitz and post war redevelopment.

The 1893 boundary bisected a tennis club within the development, but seems to have been adjusted soon after as there are a trio of very weathered 1903 boundary markers marking the current border between Lewisham and Greenwich on Corona Road at its junction with Guibal Road, on Guibal Road itself and at the junction of Guibal and Winn Roads.

While the derivation of Winn and Corona Road is clear, developer and relating to the Crown, Guibal isn’t immediately obvious. It isn’t a family name of either William Winn or his wife and the only obvious mentions in the press at the time relate to the development of a centrifugal mining fan by a French engineer, Théophile Guibal in 1872. It is not an obvious connection to an area with no mining heritage.

In the next post on ‘beating the bounds’ we will look at the boundary from Winn Road southwards towards Grove Park.

Picture Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey map is on a non-commercial licence from the National Library of Scotland, other maps from the same source have been referred to for the post;
  • The photographs of Lee Green and the Lee Green Toll Gate are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, remain their copyright and are used with their permission;
  • The photograph of the earlier version of the Old Tigers Head is from an information board at Lee Green; and
  • The photograph of Lewisham Hill and Granville Park bomb damage is via the Imperial War Museum on a Creative Commons).

This, and the series of posts on the Lee boundary that will follow, would probably not have happened without Mike Horne, he was the go-to person on London’s boundary markers; he had catalogued almost all of them in a series of documents. He was always helpful, enthusiastic and patient. He died of a heart attack in March but would have loved my ‘find’ of a London County Council marker in some undergrowth on Blackheath during 2020’s lockdown, and would have patiently explained the details of several others he knew to me. A sad loss, there is a lovely series of tributes to him via this link.

The World War Two Home Front – Digging For Victory, Allotments and Women’s Land Army

Since the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in September 2019, Running Past has been looking at a number of aspects of life on the ‘Home Front’ during the War.  This has included the evacuation of Lewisham’s children to safer areas, the shelters built to try to keep the local population safe during air raids, the role of the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service and the rationing of food.  On a similar vein we’ll look now at what is referred to a Digging for Victory, the growing of food in gardens and allotments along with briefly looking at the Women’s Land Army.

In 1939 Britain was importing large quantities of food – including 70% of cheese, cereals and sugar, 80% of fruit and more than 50% of meat. It was fully expected that the Germans would target food supplies coming in via sea, as they had done with the U-Boat Campaign in World War 1.  At the national level merchant shipping was put under Admiralty control in August 1939 – with food coming via convoy.

While they have links back to the 17th century, allotments, as we know them, have their roots in the Victorian period, demand for them in areas such as the then suburban Lewisham seems to have come from middle classes who wanted space to grow their own.  As we have seen with Lee Working Men’s Institution and Lee Public Halls there were several gardening clubs locally. Allotment numbers were not that large though with 244,268 plots in 1873 across the   country.

Numbers grew steadily in the Edwardian era and by the time World War One broke out, there were somewhere between 450,000 and 600,000 allotments. Those pictured above, bounded by Hafton, Hazelbank and Wellmeadow Roads, probably date from early in this period.  There was a large expansion during World War 1 with just over 1.5 million allotments in England by 1918.

Numbers of plots declined in the interwar period such that by the outbreak of World War Two just 819,000 allotment plots were cultivated. Many around Lee and Hither Green were lost to development in this period – two of the larger interwar private housing developments in the area – the Woodstock (the area around Woodyates Road) and Verdant Lane estates were both built on allotment sites in the 1930s, as was part of Reigate Road on the Downham Estate and a plot to the north east of bend in Meadowcourt Road near Lee Green.

The Ministry of Agriculture launched the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign soon after the outbreak of war in 1939. There was propaganda throughout the war encouraging people to use their gardens, parks and unused land for cultivation, stressing that ‘food just as important a weapon of war as guns’– several hundred thousand leaflets were distributed, with posters such as the one above displayed and it was a regular feature in propaganda films such as this one…

Around a million new allotments were created and many parks and open spaces were converted into allotments.  In the old Borough of Lewisham about 3000 were created (1)  – this included large swathes of Mountsfield Park as the 1940s Ordnance Survey map shows.

Parts of Beckenham Place Park were turned over to the growing of potatoes, with sheep grazing on the now former fairways (2).  Parts of Ladywell Fields were turned into allotments and on Blackheath around half of the triangular green bounded by Hare and Billet Road, Orchard Road and Eliot Place was turned into allotments.

One of the most iconic views in south London changed during the war with the field below the Observatory in Greenwich Park being dug up for allotments, the same had happened during World War One there.

It wasn’t just parks that saw food grown, other bits of land were brought into use too – a narrow strip of, presumably, railway company owned land between Milborough Crescent and the embankment was cultivated.  This was the same with the land on the other side of St Mildred’s Road where a narrow strip all the way down to Grove Park Nature Reserve was turned into allotments.

Other land too seems to have been taken over –  the land in a triangle bounded by Dacre Park (then Turner Road), Boone’s Road and Lee Park was a nursery and had been since the 1860s, probably before, emerged out of the war as allotments.  They continue to remain in that usage and are pictured below.

Another aspect of maintaining food availability was increasing the amount of help on farms – this was done through the Women’s Land Army which was launched ahead of the War in June 1939.   This was initially based on volunteering but a degree of conscription was added. By 1944 it had over 80,000 members; while most were already rural based around a third came from London and other cities.

Several women from Bellingham, including Olive Boyes who had previously worked at Chiltonian Biscuit Factory, Rene Powell and Joan Hicks joined the Women’s Land Army in the spring of 1942. They took a train from Catford to Ashford with Olive and Rene ending up in a small village called Hamstreet, with Joan and her friend Ivy being sent to Faversham.

Betty Hilda Baker lived at 41 Nightingale Grove had started the war as a ‘confectionary hand’ – perhaps working for Whitehouse and Co. at 36 Old Road.  Born in 1918 she was living with her parents, Charles and Julia, along with what are probably two younger siblings, Stanley who was a 23 year old butcher’s assistant and one that was redacted. It is known that she joined the Land Army but not known where she was stationed.

Joan Pearson lived at 73 Bramdean Crescent in Lee, at the outbreak of war she was an invoice clerk for Fords, aged 17.  When she joined up in 1942, she was working for Crosse and Blackwell near Charing Cross station – she wanted to ‘do something useful’ and to ‘get away from London.’ She ended up driving tractors in the New Forest.

Notes

  1. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went To War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 -1945 p24
  2. ibid

Where not specifically referenced, examples of locations of allotments come via Ordnance Survey maps.

Credits

 

 

Lee High Road’s Lost Baptist Chapel

Over the years Running Past has covered many of the places of worship around Lee, Hither Green and Blackheath that have been lost, mostly due to World War Two damage.  These include Christ Church on Lee Park, Holy Trinity on Glenton Road, the Methodist Chapel on Hither Green Lane, the original Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road, as well as the Methodist Chapel in Blackheath Village and St Andrew’s in Vanburgh Park. We turn our attention to another of these, a Baptist Chapel that stood on the corner of Lee High Road and Eastdown Park

It was probably the first building on the site, while the Chapel predated the first Ordnance Survey maps by a decade, it was fields when John Rocque surveyed the 10 miles around London for his 1746 published map.

The area was rapidly developing following the arrival of the railway in Lewisham in 1849, large houses had already been developed in the narrow band between the Quaggy and Lee High Road from the second decade of the century; roads such as Marlborough (now Mercator) and Blessington were developed in the 1850s with other developments to the north of Lee High Road closer to Blackheath station.

The burgeoning population needed places of worship, St Margaret’s at the Belmont Hill/Brandram Road junction had been rebuilt in the 1840s and Christ Church on Lee Park had been carved out of the St Margaret’s in 1854.  It is not surprising then that other denominations wanted to ensure that those who had moved to the new suburbia had churches and chapels that met their spiritual needs.

The Baptist chapel at the corner of Lee High Road and Eastdown Park was probably the first in the area, predating the one built on the College Park Estate on Clarendon Rise by over a decade and the ‘tin’ tabernacle on what is now Baring Road by over 20 years.  It was completed in November 1854 (1).

The most important name in its early history was Robert Humphrey Marten who was the Minister there for almost 30 years – not quite as long as the 44 years of James Waite Davies at Baring Road, but an impressive tenure nonetheless.  Marten was born in London but prior to his arrival in Lee had been a Minister in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, where he was in 1851.

Despite being based in Abingdon, it appears that Marten seems to have been involved in the initial setting up of the chapel, including the provision of a pulpit before being persuaded to become Minister, starting his ministry there in November 1855 (2).

For most of his time in what was then referred to as Lee, he lived with his family at 53 Blessington Road.  He is listed on the Electoral Register there from 1859.  In the 1881 census he was there with his wife Rachel, two adult daughters who were both described as being a ‘gentlewoman’, plus two servants.   The house was destroyed in one of the V-1 attacks on what is now the Mercator Estate.  He was to die there in October 1885, aged 65 (3), leaving an estate of £6055, which was substantial for the time.

His successor was probably Tom Foston, who was appointed minister by 1885 and lived at 41 Blessington Road when the census enumerators called in 1891; he didn’t stay as long as he predecessor, he resigned in August 1893 (4) and was conducting his ministry in Derbyshire by the 1901 census.  The chapel is pictured from this era from slightly higher up Lee High Road with the Rose of Lee (now Dirty South) on the left and Manor Park Parade on the right, from around that time.

There is nothing obvious on-line about the history of the chapel in the early part of the 20th century.  The chapel was hit in 1941 during the Blitz and while not completely destroyed, the London County Council bomb damage maps coloured it purple – ‘damaged beyond repair’ (5).  The Sunday School building behind, previously referred to as a lecture room, seems to have been left intact.

Brick shortages after World War Two meant that, in terms of priorities, the secular needs of housing came before religious buildings. The only one of the churches destroyed locally that was rebuilt was the Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road, but work there wasn’t completed until 1957, when the church was re-consecrated.

It isn’t clear what happened to the congregation, there was still the Sunday School at the rear that they could have used, but in all likelihood the congregation probably dissipated, perhaps some joined the Baptist Church on Clarendon Rise with others heading to the South Lee Tabernacle. In any case, non-conformist groups, such as Baptists, were suffering a steady decline in numbers nationally in the 20th century from 2 million to 1.7 million in 1949, so maybe some contraction in the number of chapels was inevitable anyway.

As for the site, it seems to have remained empty until the early 1960s when it was taken over (and numbered 152a) by Fry’s presumably as the garage and ‘shop front’ for servicing and parts.  Fry’s main showrooms were a little further down Lee High Road into Lewisham – we’ll cover Fry’s at some stage in the future.

Fry’s were to remain there until around 1985 when the site was bought by Penfold’s Vauxhall dealership for their servicing and parts operation.  They had been previously been based at what is now the Sainsbury’s site on Burnt Ash Road.

Penfold’s continued to trade there until around 2015 when the business closed and was wound up, it is pictured above from 2008 via Google Streetview.  A planning application was approved in 2018 for a 5 storey building with 17 flats and commercial space below.  However, the site currently remains boarded up with no progress having been made, and For Sale boards are up.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 24 November 1855
  2. ibid
  3. Kentish Mercury 30 October 1885
  4. Kentish Mercury 25 August 1893
  5. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p119

Credits

  • The postcard of the chapel is via eBay from April 2016 and the one including Manor Park Parade from the same source in October 2019;
  • The 2008 photograph is via Google Streetview;
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham Archives; and
  • Census, electoral register and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required).

VE Day in Lee and Hither Green

Friday 8 May 2020 sees the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, VE, Day and would have been celebrated both locally and nationally if these were normal times – it was to be one of the themes of the 2020 Hither Green Festival – maybe this will be re-visited later in the year.  We’ll look at what happened that day in 1945 with a local perspective.

After Berlin was surrounded by Allied forces and Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, the end of the war was quite rapid.  A week later, on 7 May 1945 Germany accepted an unconditional surrender of German Forces in most of the areas that they still occupied in the Netherlands and northwest Germany and the surrender came into effect the following day.  A further surrender document was signed with the Russians on 8 May.

Running Past has covered many of the areas of the Home Front in recent months (for the 70th anniversary of war breaking out); the winding down of the Home Front was rapid in early May – public air raid shelters were closed down, as was the air raid warning system and plans were made for the return of evacuee children and mothers by the end of May (1).

Over a million people took to the streets on 8 May in celebration throughout Great Britain to mark the end of the European part of the war.  Many massed in central London, particularly in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace as featured in the video footage (the sound levels are a bit variable, so beware!)

Many celebrated locally though; South Park Crescent (above and below) had been built as part of the Verdant Lane estate in the early 1930s and was the scene of a large party.  No doubt the celebrations were tempered there though by memories of 5 children from there and neighbouring streets who were amongst 38 children and 5 teachers who died at Sandhurst Road School.  There had also been a V-1 flying bomb that hit the junction of South Park and Further Green Road less than a year before at 16:48 on 12 July 1944 which injured 15 (3) –  several houses were destroyed and lots damaged – perhaps including the roofs of those pictured below).

In and around Hither Green, there were several other street parties including ones in The Woodlands and neighbouring Blashford Street.

Lee too saw several street parties, mainly in the working class streets.  Taunton Road had seen a lot of damage in the Blitz with several lives lost.  There was a posed picture probably taken close to the park entrance, the road in the background is Wantage Road.

Just around the corner in Brightfield Road (below) there was another street party in the part of the street that was built by John Pound and had originally been called Robertson Street.  As can be seen from the photograph, the party wasn’t  held there until early June 1945. 

Brightfield Road had seen some damage from the V-1 flying bomb that hit the junction of Lenham and Lampmead Roads.  In addition, there was Blitz damage to houses close to the bridge over the Quaggy, with several destroyed and several seriously damaged; along with three houses on the southern side of the bend which were damaged beyond repair (3).  The houses destroyed in Brightfield Road were never rebuilt, a new entrance to Manor House Gardens was created in their stead and those damaged beyond repair suffered a similar fate – they were to become an entrance to, what became after the war, Northbrook School and is now Holy Trinity

The street scene is now markedly different – the attractive bank buildings at the end of the street were lost after the war either to Penfold’s or Sainsbury’s expansion – more on the building another day, as there is an interesting story behind it.

While there were dozens of parties, as Lewis Blake noted, ‘for all the public display, it may be assumed that a majority of people stayed quietly at home.’ (4)

In addition to the celebration of the end of hostilities, there will have been a relief that bombing and rocket attacks were over – roads like Springbank, Taunton and Aislibie Roads had been badly affected by the Blitz, with V-1s hitting lots of local streets – including Nightingale Grove, (pictured below) Fernbrook Road, between Springbank and Wellmeadow Roads along with Leahurst Road, and as we’ve mentioned the Lenham/Lampmead junction.

A couple of days after VE Day, Lewisham was visited by the King and Queen who stopped in a packed town centre to survey the damage caused by the V-1 flying bomb from 10 months before (it’s at about 4:10 into the film, which is sadly silent).

Other than the rebuilding which was to continue for the best part of 20 years, the other element of wartime privations that was to linger on for almost another decade was rationing, which didn’t officially end for meat until 1954.

If you have personal or family local VE Day memories, please do post them either in the Facebook thread you reached this post from or in the comments below, if you haven’t commented here before, it may take a few hours for your comment to be approved.  I will hopefully add some of the comments into the main post.

In early May 2020 we don’t have the potential for street parties, but oddly, despite the lock down, we are probably contacting and seeing more of our neighbours than any of the generations since the end of World War Two. Every Thursday evening with the #ClapforCareWorkers most of our small street come out to clap and bang pots and pans; if we are typical, people often stay out in the street to chat, keeping social distancing, of course.  Neighbours are checking in with each other by phone with shopping bought for those having to stay at home.  Perhaps, for now at least, this is the World War Two type spirit we should embrace and celebrate, the parties will have to wait.

Notes

  1. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went To War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 -1945 p62
  2. From ARP Logs held at Lewisham Archives
  3. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p119
  4. Blake, op cit p66

Credits and Thanks

  • Thank you to Andy Wakeman and Clive Andrews for allowing the use of their family photographs of the South Park Road party – the photographs remain their families’ copyright;
  • The photgrpahs of Brightfield Road and Taunton Road are part of the collection of the Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright;
  • The photograph of the destruction on Nightingale Grove is from the collection of the Imperial War Museum – it is used here on a Non-Commercial Licence

2 – 30 Burnt Ash Road – the Story of a Shopping Parade Part 2

Last week’s post looked at the evolution of the shopping parade, which now forms Sainsbury’s frontage onto Burnt Ash Road, from fields to upmarket housing and what seemed to be a thriving shopping parade at the outbreak of World Ward 1.

We turn now to the time after World War 1, looking how the parade changed. While some of the businesses had expanded, there appear to have been some ‘footprint changes’ indicating rebuilding – this was most noticeable with George Gooding’s large drapery. This was probably post 1919 but the timing of Ordnance Survey map releases (1863, 1895 and 1948)  makes it difficult to be absolutely certain.

We’ll look at the individual shops before turning to Penfold’s and then Sainsbury’s who have dominated this part of Burnt Ash Road for 60 years. The numbering used will be that that applied until the 1970s, what was a hall on the corner with Lee High Road was redeveloped around 1940 as Burnt Ash Parade, became 2 to 10 in 1975.

2-4 Burnt Ash Road

Before World War 1, 2-6 had been the home to William Brown’s coal and corn selling business. 2 and 4 seem to have been down the still remaining alley and 6, the first of the parade proper. The corn element disappeared with the rise of the internal combustion engine. The new occupants were G & F Burton, mineral water manufacturers – presumably some sort of carbonated drinks. They were to remain until the mid-1930s when Groom and Fyson took over the business. The shop was empty in 1950 and had been taken over by Penfold’s by 1960.

6 Burnt Ash Road

As noted in relation to 2-4, William Brown had run a coal business at 2-6; he’d been one of the first tenants of the Parade. The coal element was taken over by Paul Edward during World War 1.

Around 1930, the Post Office that had been based at 10 since the 1880s, moved to number 6. It was run by Ernest Russell who combined it with being a confectioner. It remained a Post Office into the 1950s before becoming the second phase of Penfold’s takeover of the parade.

8 Burnt Ash Road

Before World War 1, John Devenish was running a fruit shop, he seems to have gone into partnership with Charles Highgate by 1920. Highgate may well have had no experience in the business, there was a man of the same name listed in the 1911 census as a general labourer over the road. However, he was on his own by 1925 as Devenish moved on; he was living in Croydon carrying out the same trade in the 1939 Register.

Highgate didn’t last long on his own, with Thomas McLean running the business by 1930. The descendants of George Gooding, the drapers centred at 16, tried their hand at being a fruiterer by 1935, although the name had disappeared by 1940 with Burnt Ash Fruit Stores taking over. It remained until around 1950 before becoming part of the Penfold’s plot.

10 Burnt Ash Road

The name Teesdale (sometimes Teasdale) Walbank had been over the Sub-Post Office since around 1905 and despite his death in 1913, it remained until the late 1920s. With the demise of the name came to move of the Post Office to 6 Burnt Ash Road.

The new occupants were stationers and newsagents, the Cuttings,Nellie and William. Initially it was in William’s name, but it continued in Nellie’s after he died, she was living in Middle Park Avenue in Eltham in 1939. Daisy May Byles had taken over by the end of the War followed by John Crawthorn in 1950. It was then empty before being taken over in the first expansion of Penfolds by 1960.

12-18 Burnt Ash Road

By the time World War 1 broke out, the drapery empire of George Gooding had straddled four shops along with a hosier at 28 (it is pictured above, probably from around 1905). George died in 1917 but the business continued in his name, probably run by his brother William and his widow Jessie who married in 1924.

At some point it seems that the units may have been rebuilt, the footprint was very different in 1948 to what it had been at the beginning of the century.

While Jessie lived on until 1958, William died in 1933 and it seems that this may have triggered the winding up of the business. There was a ladies’ outfitter, Jancy, using part of the premises, a contractor using another part of it in 1940 and it was referred to as Burnt Ash Hall in 1945. By 1950 Penfold’s had moved in.

20 Burnt Ash Road

As the Parade came out of World War 1, 20 was a bakers run by Frederick Andrew, who hailed from St Neot’s and his wife, Georgina. Frederick seems to have retired by the late 1920s with his wife taking over the bakery.

Frederick died in 1937, and in 1939 sons Osborne (45), Frederick (41) and Stanley (39) were all there assisting Georgina in 1939, all listed as ‘Baker and Pastry Cook.’ The family were unusual in that they remained living behind the shop. Georgina died in 1955, after which the shop became part of the empire of Penfold’s. The Andrew name had been above the window of number 20 for well over 50 years.

22 Burnt Ash Road

William Whittle who had been running the shop as a boot makers at the end of World War 1 and was to remain until around 1925.  A. Head & Co took over the business which was still going when war broke out again. While the rest of the parade just appears to have suffered from general blast damage which didn’t prevent trading for any lengthy period, 22 seems to have fared worse and was empty in 1945.

When it reopened around 1950, it was as Carpenters a furniture dealer. The shop was lost to the expansion of Penfolds around 1960.

The shop front seems to have been split in 1925 by William Whittle, with George Galloway taking over 22a as a tobacconist. It continued as the same type of business until it was damaged in the Blitz, under the names of Arthur Harwood and then the appropriately named for the location, Burnt Ash Cigar Stores.

24-26 Burnt Ash Road

The former butcher’s shop at 26 was empty in 1920 but the grocers, Frederick Roberts, whose name had been over the door at 24 since the mid-1890s expanded into the empty shop. As noted in the first post on the parade, Frederick Roberts proved difficult to track down through census and related information. The name was to remain until the 1950s when it became an off licence, initially trading as Theydon & Tresanton and then Bentfield Stores until around 1965. The shop was either empty or got subsumed into the expanding Penfold’s after that.

28 Burnt Ash Road

The shop came out of World War 1 still an outpost of George Gooding – a hosier linked to the drapers centred around number 16. This part of the business was sold as a going concern around 1925 to Mann and Dodwell.

By the outbreak of World War 2 it was a men’s outfitter William Morley Cheesewright, like many clothes shops it probably struggled with rationing and had closed by 1945, with the shop empty. The new business from 1950 was a women’s clothing shop, Phyllis which was to become Elizabeth Manion a few years later. It was a business that continued until the mid-1970s, presumably lost to the final expansion of Penfold’s.

30 Burnt Ash Road

Edwards and Co., a chain of dairy shops with a base at Burnt Ash Farm had been running the business on the corner of Taunton Road since before World War 1 broke out (it is pictured above, from a decade or so earlier) they were to continue until around 1927 when United Dairies bought the farm. They were to remain there into World War 2, although the shop was empty in 1945.

A new business arrived by 1950 – the cycle dealer F A Lycett and Co.  A cycle shop run by Francis Lycett had been operating for several decades on Lee Road; Francis had died in 1950, but the business continued in his name, perhaps run by his son Albert or one of his nephews. It was last mentioned in Kelly’s Directories in the mid-1970s, presumably pedal power was lost to the expansion of the empire of internal combustion. It is to Penfolds that we now turn.

Penfold’s Showrooms

Penfold’s is a name that has cropped up a few times over the years, in relation to sites at 36 Old Road, the current site of the stunning Hindu Temple and the former cinema on Lee High Road that they used for showrooms. At some stage we’ll do a post on Penfold’s, but for now we’ll look at their showrooms.

Around 1950 they took over 12-18 Burnt Ash Road from George Gooding, presumably as a showroom. At around the same time they acquired the site behind at 406-14 Lee High Road, presumably for servicing and repairs. It had been used by a number of garages and haulage companies, latterly Falconers Transport from the end of World War 2; but regular readers of Running Past May recall that it was a base for the builders W J Scudamore earlier in the century.

By 1960 most of the rest of the parade had been acquired up to and including 22 Burnt Ash Road and the site was redeveloped.  The remaining shops were acquired but seem not to have been demolished – the former dairy and cycle shop at 30 was used as storage.  Latterly, at least, they sold Vauxhall and Bedford vehicles – the site is pictured above, probably from the late 1970s or early 1980s (the variant of the VW Polo driving past was on sale from 1979).

Sainsbury’s

The site was sold to Sainsburys in 1985, closing to the public in February and Penfold’s business was dispersed around the neighbourhood (more on that another day) with separate sites for servicing, sales and crash repairs .  It wasn’t the first Sainsbury’s shop at Lee Green, there had been a grocery at 145 Lee Road (between the two current entrance to Osborn Terrace) from around the outbreak of World War 1 until the early 1960s.  Sainsbury’s acquired a lot of neighbouring buildings – including some very attractive bank buildings on the corner of Brightfield Road and Lee High Road, along with the Pullman Cinema.  Planning permission was for the redevelopment was granted in July 1985, where the attractive shopping parade of the Victorian period had been a brick wall topped with railings was built.

The new shop opened in 1987 (pictured above soon after), it had been expected that additional shopping footfall from Sainsbury’s would have a positive knock on effect on the Leegate Centre.  Alas, this has not been the case and Leegate has been badged the ‘worst in the country’ as footfall fell and shops closed – we’ll return to Leegate at some point.

The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark & Lewisham Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1884.

Credits

  • The black and white pictures of the parade and the 1970s car showrooms are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via a combination of Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • The picture from the Leegate Centre looking over Sainsburys is from the fascinating Sainsburys Archive, and remains their copyright.
  • Census and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Ordnance Survey maps come from the collection of the National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons and are from 1863, 1895 and 1948

2 – 30 Burnt Ash Road – the Story of a Shopping Parade Part 1

When we looked at Lee Manor Farm a few months ago, there was a pattern of small fields edging Burnt Ash Road – pictured below (Lee Green is in the bottom right hand corner).  The northern most of these is now occupied by Sainsbury’s, which is the latest in a series of retail establishments.  A two part blog post explores the changes, the first one takes us from the farm that Thomas Postans knew in 1843 to the end of World War 1.

The first non-rural occupants of the site was housing known as Thornhill Grove which was probably built in the late 1850s or very early 1860s. They were sat back from the main road ( as the left map below shows), with a gap for the Taunton Road that was to come.   In 1861 the occupants of the first five houses were a senior Court Clerk, a bookseller, a household of siblings between 17 and 27, perhaps parents had recently died, along with two builders, one of which was retired.  Perhaps it was one of them, either George Gates or William Bond, who had built the houses.

The houses seem to have been very short-lived in their original form, as they seem to have been altered and extended into shops between the late 1870s and early 1880s. It is clear that some of the new shops were occupied when the census enumerators called in 1881, but there was no numbering and the shops were referred to by their trades. Several shops were referred to by there previous house names in 1881.

1-14 Thornhill Grove on what was then called Burnt Ash Lane was almost entirely occupied when the 1884 Kelly’s Directory was compiled, presumably during 1883. The change to 2- 30 Burnt Ash Road came a few years later and to avoid confusion I’ll refer to the shops by this variant.

 

2 – 6 Burnt Ash Road

William Brown from Rotherhithe was listed at the first shop, merely referred to as ‘Fruiterer’ in 1881, with his wife Anne who hailed from Montgomeryshire, two of his adult children helped in the shop. It is not clear how many of the shop units that Brown had in 1881, but by the 1884 Kelly’s Directory he was running a business that included the strange bedfellows of selling coal, corn (and presumably oats for horses) as well as fruit. 2 and 4 seem to have been down the still remaining alley and 6, the first of the parade proper.

By 1891 the family was living over the road at 23 Burnt Ash Road, now with a servant; the accommodation attached to the shop was home to Charles Barlow and Alfred Lock – car men, drivers of horse and carts for the corn business – living at 2 and 4 respectively, with 6 empty when the census enumerators called.

William had retired by 1901, but his name was still above the door and his son Arthur (1867) was managing the business, although they had dropped the fruit selling. The name continued at the business and address until around the outbreak of World War One. It isn’t clear what happened to the family after 1901 but any business based around selling oats was going to go into decline with the rise of motorised transport. Lots of local supply outlets such as Thomas Tilling stables has all but disappeared by the end of the war.

8 Burnt Ash Road

In the 1881 census, there was a grocers shop, probably based at what was to become number 8. It was run by Albert Care who was a local lad. It didn’t seem to last long as it appeared to be vacant in 1884.

It seems to have been briefly taken on as an extension to William Brown’s empire by 1888, but by 1894 it had switched to being an extension to the smaller Martin empire based at the Post Office at number 10. The shop type that it was used for was the original trade of William Brown – a fruiterer, something that Brown had given up on by this stage.

More on Martin Martin when we turn to the Post Office, but the fruiterer was to stay in his name until around 1900. It was taken over by then by John Devenish, who appropriately came from Devon, and was to run the business into the 1920s. Like many on the parade he didn’t use the accommodation behind the shop, and like several of the others lived in large houses over the road, Devenish was at 21 in 1911 with wife, Elizabeth, a young son and a servant.

Devenish had a run in with the law in 1903 after being seen mistreating his delivery horse by kicking it Effingham Road. He was fined £1 with 7/- costs, or 14 days hard labour (1).

10 Burnt Ash Road

A Post Office was one the first retail outlets on the parade – run by Martin James Martin, who hailed from Woolwich, although he was away on census night in 1881 at what was to become number 10 was his wife, daughter, a visitor and a servant. The Martins were still living behind the shop in 1891. The role was a varied one, as well as the Post Office, it was a stationers and Registrar of Births and Deaths.

It seems that Martin Martin focussed on the later role, perhaps taking it on for the Borough of Lewisham and was listed at 2 Effingham Road in 1901 and 1911 as Registrar Of Births And Deaths, with seven children and a servant, along with his wife, Emily.

The new Sub-Postmaster was 1901 another man whose name suggested a geographical connection – Teesdale (sometimes referred to as Teasdale) Walbank – from Bingley in Yorkshire who was 61 in 1901; with him were his family which included his wife, Maria and 4 grown up daughters who assisted at the post office. He was from a family of weavers but unlike the rest of his siblings had not followed that line of work and had become a teacher in Bingley (1861), spending time and increasing the size of his family in Sedgefield (1871), Nenthead in Cumbria (1878) and near Southport (1881). It is not clear why he changed profession or moved to Lee around 1899, the first time he appeared on the electoral register).

Walbank died in May 1913 and was buried at Hither Green cemetery although his name lived on above shop until 1920s.

12 Burnt Ash Road

Samuel Brunning, a boot maker from Suffolk, seems to have lived in one the houses of Thornhill Grove before the shops were built, he and wife wife Mahala were listed in the censuses of 1871 and 1881 at a property described as Eagle Cottage. He is listed at 12 in the 1884 Kelly’s, where he was to remain until the late 1890s, although by that stage Samuel had been widowed and remarried.

Samuel had gone by the turn of the century and the new occupant was the draper, George Gooding who was expanding his business from number 16. We’ll cover him there, and it was a business that was present until around 1935.

14 Burnt Ash Road

Number 14’s history is a relatively short one as it was to become part of the Gooding ‘empire’ at 16; the first tenant in 1884 seems to have been George Lambley, a hairdresser from Gloucestershire. He’d been living in Lee since at least the 1870s, carrying out his trade in Lee High Road in 1881. The business had changed by the early 1890s and was a chemist, Frost and Harrison before being taken over by the Goodings around 1905.

16 Burnt Ash Road

There had been a milliner, Alfred Tyler, at 5 Thornhill Grove in 1881; he is not listed at any of the shops on the parade in 1884, so it may have been a business that was lost in the redevelopment for houses to shops. By 1884, 16 Burnt Ash Road was run by George Gooding who hailed from Debenham, near Stowmarket in Suffolk and was a Draper and was around 22. It was a business that seemed to thrive and George and his wife Jessie (32) George were doing well enough to be able to employ a couple of servants.

By 1894 the business had expanded into 18, the first of what were to be three expansions into adjacent properties. By 1901, they were living over the road at 21 in 1901, with the housing above/behind the shop empty or more likely being used for stock and by 1911 had moved to the still suburban Grove Park. George died in 1917 but the business continued in his name, probably run by his brother, William.  The latter had been living with the family in Grove Park in 1911, he was to marry George’s widow, Jessie, in 1924.

18 Burnt Ash Road

Like number 14, its independent history is a short one, empty in 1884, by 1888 it was a fishmongers run by John Woodward – his 1891 census record describes his trade as ‘Master Mariner, Fishmonger at Present Time’ and he was living over the road at 11. He didn’t last long, perhaps returning to his former trade as George Gooding had expanded into 18 by 1894. The accommodation behind it featured in the 1901 and 1911 censuses as it seemed be being used as a boarding houses for Drapery Assistants, with 6 listed as living there along with a housekeeper.

20 Burnt Ash

From early in this existence, 20 Burnt Ash Road was a bakers, initially called Home Made Bread; it was then taken over by the Yorkshire Bread Company who regularly advertised their produce in the local press (2). The ownership changed a couple of times  – latterly a Mr Woods who expanded into number 22.

Woods, seems to have had to sell at auction in May 1899, it was a 21 year lease, with 10 years remaining and an annual rent of £135 (3).

The purchaser was almost certainly Frederick Andrew, who hailed from St Neots, he and his wife, Georgina, had been running a smaller bakery in Brightfield Road from at least 1891. They were able to afford a servant in the 1901 census to help with the four young children. It was to become one of the longest lasting businesses on the parade, retaining Frederick’s name over the window until the late-1920s,

22 Burnt Ash Road

In its early days, the shop went through a number of businesses – in 1884, it was ‘home’ to builders, Kennard Bros., before being briefly a sales outlet for Singer Sewing Machines. By 1893, it was home to Charles Hopper who offered everything for the pianoforte enthusiast, from tuning to sales to lessons (4).

Hopper had departed by 1900, probably carrying out his business from 38 Burnt Ash Road, one of the large houses further up the street. The new occupant was a dyer/laundry although the occupant wasn’t new to the parade – Samuel Brunning, previously a boot maker at number 12 with the firm to stay there until the end of the first decade of the century.

A boot maker, William Whittle was the next occupant who stayed there until the mid-1920s, he lived just around the corner at 4 Taunton Road. He was a widower who lived with 2 children, an assistant at the shop and a live-in housekeeper. He’d moved from a shop just around the corner on Lee High Road, next to the Prince Arthur, where he’d been in 1901.

24 Burnt Ash Road

Frederick Roberts name was above the door at 24 Burnt Ash Road from around 1894, probably taking over the lease from William May Smith who had been there from early in the Parade’s life. He name was to remain until the early 1950s, expanding into 26 during the 1920s. He had taken on an additional shop at 69 Old Dover Road near Blackheath Standard by the outbreak of World War 1. Sadly, this is all that is known about him – as he never seems to have lived behind the shop nothing has been gleaned about where he came from, his family and the ownership of the shop – he could have been there for the entire 60 years his name was over the window, but it is perhaps unlikely.

26 Burnt Ash Road

There was a butchers shop in the parade in 1881, the exact location wasn’t clear but given what was to come in this shop front in this location it may have been here. The proprietor was Caroline Cook, from St George in the East in East London, who ran the business with her son. Some of her staff also lived ‘over the shop.’

Caroline Cook’s business didn’t last that long, her name was replaced with one that did had considerable longevity, another butcher John B Rolfe who was there from 1884. Unlike some of the neighbouring businesses there is no evidence that he ever lived above/behind the shop – in 1891 it was occupied by an accounts clerk, Annie Firkins, and it 1901 by four staff employed in the shop, along with the family of one of them.

Based on electoral registers, John Rolfe and his wife, Emily, were living at 12 Cambridge Drive from 1897, probably earlier. They were both from Northamptonshire and in 1901 were living at 3 Handen Road with 7 children under 10; plus three servants. The name remained until around the end of World War 1, but the shop was empty in 1920 and John died in Lewisham in 1922.

28 Burnt Ash Road

The shop front started as a carver and guilder, initially in the name of Louis Holcombe in 1884, but by 1900 the same business was being run by Wilhelm (listed in Kelly’s as William) Fellger, a German who lived around the corner at 88 Taunton Road. Carving and gilding is not a business type that really exists now – much of it seemed to relate to picture frames. He advertised this extensively in the local press (5) – noting his links to the Arts Club in Blackheath. However, he’d gone by 1905 possibly the result of local competition in a small market – there was another guilder and carver on Lee Road, Frederick Stimpson.

By 1905 the shop front was being used by watch maker Henry Ward from Cheltenham lived at 100 Taunton Road; who had moved his business from Lee High Road, close to the Duke of Edinburgh. He had gone by 1911 and was living on the last bits of the Corbett Estate to be completed, Duncrievie Road and no doubt carrying his business out somewhere else.

30 Burnt Ash Road

Throughout all of its early life 30 was a dairy; from 1888 to 1905 it was called Clay Farm Dairy in Kelly’s Directories, it is pictured in one of the early photographs of the parade.. There doesn’t seem to have been a local farm of this name, however, it may well have been a shortened version of Clay Pit Farm which was roughly on what is now Marvels Lane in Grove Park. By the time World War 1 broke out the name on the door was Edwards and Co, they were a large dairy firm based at Burnt Ash Farm.

At the outbreak of World War 1, it seemed a thriving parade, empty shops seemed a rarity, much more so than those local ones we have covered before – notably in Manor Park Parade and 310- 332 Lee High Road.  There was probably a good reason for this, in that along with the shops opposite, on Eltham Road and on Lee Road,  they would be able to supply all food shopping needs of local households.  We will return to the parade in 1919 next week, there were to be a lot of changes in the decades that followed.

The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1884.

Credits

  • The 1843 map and the black and white postcards of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark Archives
  • Census and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Ordnance Survey maps come from the collection of the National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons and are from 1863, 1895 and 1948

Notes

  1. Woolwich Gazette 17 April 1903
  2. Kentish Mercury 3 May 1889
  3. Kentish Mercury 23 May 1899
  4. Kentish Mercury 17 November 1893
  5. Kentish Mercury 27 January 1893

The Almshouses of Lee Part 2

A few months ago Running Past covered the two Boone’s Chapels on Lee High Road, both chapels had almshouses attached to them and in a recent post last week we looked at the almshouses themselves. Behind the Grade I listed Boone’s Chapel, set back from Lee High Road, are the best known some of the best known almshouses in South East London, Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses.

Like much of the area around Old Road, the land currently used by the Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses on Brandram Road, has its roots in the piecemeal sell off of the land that was once belonged to Lee Place in 1824. Several of the plots were bought by the Worshipful Company of the Merchant Taylors’ for almshouses.

The Company was one of the livery companies of the City of London; as the name implies it was first an association of tailors, but this connection had virtually ended by the close of the 17th century and it had become a philanthropic and social association.

The almshouses built in 1826 were the third generation of almshouses – the first had been built next door to Merchant Taylors’ Hall in Threadneedle Street, and dated from the mid 14th century. The second edition was close to Tower Hill on land occupied by the railway into Fenchurch Street and DLR into Tower Hill.

The 1826 almshouses were designed by William Jupp, the Younger, who was the architect and surveyor to the Merchant Taylors’ Company. His uncle was Richard Jupp, who designed Lee Manor House.

The 34 almshouses, two behind each door, are Grade II listed and described by Cherry and Pevsner (1) as:

Large, on three sides of an open quadrangle, stock brick, sparsely classical, with a central feature emphasised by a pediment and cupola.

The almshouses have a walled garden with a lawn sloping down to a small dip which once contained the original course of Mid Kid Brook which was dammed around the border with Brandram Road to form a boating lake – latterly known as the Mirror of Lee. It is surrounded by mature trees and shrubs which make photography difficult.  The impressive gatehouse (pictured below) was added in the 1850s.

Having looked at the Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses, we return to the Boone’s almshouses, as was noted in the previous post, the second version of them was replaced in 1963 in Belmont Park and known as Christopher Boone’s Almshouses. The area around there had been devastated by a pair of V-1 flying bombs, and the land to the north and east was covered with a large concentration of prefab bungalows. A slightly larger area was cleared for what became the Mercator Estate, which included an old people’s home. The almshouses site saw demolition of Victorian houses, which had suffered some damage in the Blitz. They are pictured in the bottom right hand corner of the aerial photograph from 1939 (just above the Patterson Edwards factory).

The number of almshouses increased from the 12 on Lee High Road to 29 one-bedroom houses and bungalows along with two staff units, originally for a matron and a gardener. The selection criteria for residents were less onerous than those of Trinity Hospital in Greenwich, requiring applicants to have lived for at least five years in the Borough of Lewisham or Greenwich; preference was given though to applicants from the former parish of Lee.  

The high walled development had an attractive gatehouse and, from the outside at least, looked a pleasant development. However, unlike the other variants of the Merchant Taylors’ managed almshouses in Lee, their life was a relatively short one – the relatively steeply sloping site proved to be a struggle for an ageing population with increasing mobility issues and letting the almshouses became problematic.

Plans were submitted in 2010 for the demolition of the 1963 site to be replaced by a much denser development – the 29 homes have become 62, with 32 being returned to The Merchant Taylors’ Boone’s Charity (the two charities merged in 2010). The remainder were sold to cross subsidise the re-provision of ‘state-of-the-art, fully-accessible and fully-adaptable almshouses;’ since 2010 there has been little grant funding for social housing and sales were, at the time, the only way to make this type of development ‘work’ financially.

To qualify for a home there the allocations criteria you would need to be …

• a peaceful, considerate person committted to getting on well with your neighbours
• in need of high quality housing in Lewisham
• aged at least 57
• capable of independent living; and
• can’t afford to buy

So what of the 1826 version? The residents were relocated to the new Blessington Road site with the Grade II listed buildings struggling to cope with those with reduced mobility who may require wheelchairs or motorised buggies. They currently stand empty and from the Brandram Road side look rather dilapidated; they are occupied by property guardians – with a notice on the listed entrance. Planning permission was granted in 2010 to build 5 houses, either side of the the southern most block, immediately behind Boone’s Chapel. In 2015 further permission was granted to reduce the number of almshouses – largely by knocking the ‘pairs’ behind each front door together. Both of these Planning Permissions will have lapsed at the time of writing in spring 2020, with no new permissions having been sought. The intention though presumably remains the refurbishment and sale of the Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses on a long leasehold basis – part of the cross subsidisation of the ‘state of the art’ version.

Notes

  1. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner (1983) The Buildings of England – London 2: South p426

 

Credits

  • The 1939 aerial photograph is via the fantastic Britain from Above, its use is allowed in non-commercial blogs such as Running Past, it remains their copyright
  • The photograph of the 1963 scheme is via Google Streetview