Brightfield Road – the Street with Two Names (Part 1)

Streets having their names changed is nothing unusual – we’ve covered it a couple of times before with Dermody Road (formerly Hocum Pocum Lane), Waite Davies Road (formerly (Butterfield Street). Similarly, on the other side of Lee High Road the bottom of Dacre Park was previously known as Turner Road. Like the second two examples, there is fading evidence of a painted street sign bearing the earlier name. However, it isn’t as easy to decipher the former name, Robertson Street, due to multiple layers of faint paint, re-pointing and a burglar alarm. In a pair of blog posts we’ll tell the history of the street – from its building to the present day.

The builder of the original part was someone we’ve covered several times before, John Pound, mainly in relation to his house building but also shops on Burnt Ash Road, pubs and Lee Public Halls. The street was built by Pound around 1862 (1), with applications made to the Board of Works that March for drainage connections. The land was owned by Lord Northbrook, although it doesn’t seem to have been farmed as part of Lee Manor Farm – it isn’t in the farm map of 1846 – and the estate seems to have retained the freehold post development (2) as permission was sought from Lord Northbrook’s agent for some work.

The homes were unlike most of those in the rest of the area at the time. The arrival of the railway in Blackheath had seen substantial homes with space for servants built to the north of Lee High Road. The function of these smaller houses was similar to those in Lee New Town – providing homes for the servants who didn’t ‘live-in’ and working classes of mid-Victorian Lee. There was another function too, large-scale housing development in what was then suburbia needed somewhere for the building labourers and trades to live in an era without cheap public transport. Pound seems to have done the same around Waite Davies Road and Summerfield Street for his brickworks in South Lee. It was a pattern followed by Cameron Corbett with houses in Sandhurst Road a few decades later.

Pound also seems to have built the neighbouring Hedgely Street – he made an application for sewer connections in 1868 (3).  The street was adopted and paved in 1871 at a cost of 4/6d on the rates for occupiers – not the landlord (4).

So, who were the early occupants?  We’ll look at the first 20 houses in the 1871 census, the first census they appeared in; while the numbers appeared as consecutive in the census reports it isn’t clear whether this was the case on the ground.  The numbering is now odds and evens. The shops have been ignored for now, but may be returned to in a later post.

The majority (52%) of heads of household were working in the building trade, mainly skilled trades with the remainder split between various forms of domestic service and other trades.  Relatively few of the women worked, but those who did, tended to be listed in the census as charwoman or laundress.  While not in in the houses reviewed in detail, elsewhere in the street there were farm labourers housed – presumably still working at either Burnt Ash, Lee Manor or Horn Park which were all still working at that stage.

Almost half of the houses were either home to two households or took in a lodger, there were some very overcrowded homes as a result – 13 lived at no 17 for example. Almost all the households had children.

A decade later the average number in each house was 6.7 (it had been 5.5 in 1871), mainly due to an increase in lodgers and shared houses.  More women were working, although the trades were mainly around washing, ironing and cleaning.  Male employment had changed little too, the majority working in the building trades.

Unsurprisingly, there was some crime relating to the street, a fair amount of it alcohol related. John Mahoney had to be removed by heavies from the Tiger’s Head for being drunk and aggressive. He then went over the road to what is now referred to as the New Tiger’s Head, but press reports called the Little Tiger, where he was arrested after falling asleep drunk. He then violently assaulted the arresting officer for which he spent 6 weeks in prison (5).

Robert Stow was found guilty of assaulting a police officer after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly outside the nearby Duke of Edinburgh – his defence was that he didn’t know it was a policeman and that he’d had too much rum to drink cut no ice with the magistrates.  He was fined 20/- or 2 weeks in prison (6).

Theft wasn’t completely absent though – Thomas Upton (23) a labourer from 19 Robertson Street charged with stealing 25 hens from Blackheath Park and then selling them in Greenwich.  He was sent to prison for 14 days (7).

The western side of the terrace backed not onto the Quaggy, as it does now, but onto a path from that broadly followed what is now Aislibie Road.  After the floods in 1878 and probably also to allow better development of the land that was to form Lampmead Road, the Quaggy was deepened, straightened and took the route of the path. The differences are clear between the 1863 (top map below) and 1893 visits of the Ordnance Survey Cartographers.

The extension of the street to the northern side of the Quaggy seems to have happened around 1885 following the piecemeal sale of the Lee House estate. The builder may well have been George Mitchell; he made the application for connecting the new homes Brightfield Road to the existing sewers in what was still referred to as Robertson Street. John Pound asked for money for the connection (8). It is assumed that these would be the homes that are now numbered 109 to 127 Brightfield Road (some of which are pictured below), but could have been those to the south over the Quaggy.

Three years later a decision was made by the Metropolitan Board of Works in March 1888 to change street names in the area.  It seems that Lampmead Road was created, it had originally been a dog-leg of Lenham Road going towards Lee High Road.  The biggest change was in relation to Brightfield Road – from 1883 it had run from Old Road and then dog-legged around to the new homes built by George Mitchell.  The section from Old Road now became Aislibie Road and Brightfield Road, while shortened to the north took expanded over the river and Robertson Street was no more (9).

The new Brightfield Road had changed a lot by 1891 compared with the last census for Robertson Street. John Pound’s building work had finished in the area and only 8% of the heads of household at the eastern end of the street were working in the building industry, just over a third were servants – mainly jobs relating to horses with the remainder a wide variety of manual jobs. As was the case a decade earlier a lot of the women worked – mainly as dressmakers and laundresses. Most households had children and most of the houses were either shared or homes to lodgers too – overcrowding remained, although it was less bad than in 1881 – the average was 5.8 rather than 6.7 a decade earlier.

There were a few sales of the houses which seemed to be all tenanted over the next few years. In 1892, 111 -125 (odds) were up for sale at auction. These are the larger houses backing on to Manor House Gardens, then let as a military crammer school before the House and Gardens were sold to the London County Council in 1898. The particulars of the sale of the houses in Brightfield Road noted the proximity to Lee and Blackheath stations. Each house was ‘conveniently arranged for two families. Let to very respectable tenants at 12/- a week.’ There were unexpired leases of 92 years (10).

Three years later some more of the later houses, 75-79 which were adjacent to the original houses were sold – they were advertised as being on long leases, having a weekly rent of 12/- and an annual ground rent of £5 (11).

The change in name didn’t stop crime relating to the street in 1897, Emma Agate was arrested for theft of a large number of garments from Lee Public Halls Steam Laundry (in early 2021 home to Travis Perkins off Holme Lacey Road) where she worked as an ironer, she was found with a number of pawn tickets. She denied the charges but was remanded in custody (12).

There were a couple of bigamy cases – William James was charged with bigamously marrying Mary Bator of number 61 in 1889 (13). Four years later, Walter Garland admitted to a bigamous marriage to Alexandra Taylor of 60 Brightfield Road (14).

We’ll leave Brightfield Road at the end of the 19th century, returning in the second part to cover the 20th century and beyond.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 22 March1862
  2. Kentish Independent 01 June 1872
  3. Kentish Independent 10 October 1868
  4. Kentish Independent 16 December 1871
  5. Kentish Mercury 18 June 1870
  6. Kentish Mercury 30 October 1875
  7. Kentish Independent 10 April 1886
  8. Kentish Independent 02 May 1885
  9. Kentish Mercury 9 March 1888
  10. Kentish Mercury 25 July 1892
  11. Kentish Mercury 29 September 1895
  12. Woolwich Gazette 27 August 1897
  13. Kentish Mercury 13 June 1890
  14. Woolwich Gazette 27 April 1894

Credits

  • The maps are on a Non-Commercial Licence via the National Library of Scotland
  • All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)

Leybridge Court – ‘Tudor House’ to Social Housing

Leybridge Court is an attractive social housing estate centring around three 11-storey blocks a few metres away from the boundary of Lewisham with Greenwich.  The site has an interesting history that this post will explore.

The land was once part of the estate of Eltham Palace which we have covered in relation to the farms that cultivated the area – Horn Park and Lee Green Farms, the former lasted up until the 1930s.  The farmhouse of the latter, unsurprisingly, was at Lee Green in the south eastern quadrant where the Leegate Centre is currently situated and is pictured below.

The farmhouse moved to the current site of Leybridge Court in the 1840s, with the then farmer William Morris(s) purchasing land from the Crown presumably on a 99-year lease.  He built a very large new home called Tudor House and seems to have also built some speculative housing on the same site – either side of the current Cambridge Drive (1).

Little changed until the mid-1860s – the Ordnance Survey map of 1867, shows the houses that Morris built but nothing else around the Lee Green toll house.  The feel though would have still been rural.  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 1871, ‘in a short period a town has sprung up in the neighbourhood.’ (2)

As we saw in a post on St Peter’s, the church that in various forms has served the area, around 160 large houses were built along Eltham Road, Cambridge Road (now Drive), on what is now Courtlands Avenue along with Weigall, Osberton and Leyland Roads. The houses were small compared with Tudor House, while no photographs seem to survive of Tudor House, a picture of the neighbouring Rothsay, a few doors closer to Leyland Road, does.

Source e Bay February 2021

By 1871 Tudor House and those to the east had been built for well over 20 years, to the east they had been joined by others following the demise of Lee Green Farm in the 1860s. All were covered in the census and all were single family dwellings generally with several servants – Tudor House was home to shipowner Joseph Pegg, some adult children and a modest two servants. One of the houses was used as the vicarage for St Peter’s, the Vicar was Leonard McDonald James, the others included in ship broker, a silk broker, a ship builder.

By 1911 not that much had changed, the houses were still inhabited by wealthy single households with servants – the Tudor House was home to a Swiss engineer with a couple of servants. Fairfield, next door was home three generations of Watkins who had three live-in servants including a Between Maid. It was the family’s 4th census there – the wealth having come from ship ownership.  Others in the group of houses included company director and a doctor.

Much had changed by the time World War Two broke out, while most of the houses still seemed to be occupied in the 1939 Register, virtually all were subdivided into flats (often with some parts of the house empty). The inhabitants were a mixture of manual, clerical and shops workers and the retired, often there were lodgers too. The exception was Tudor House where there were three people rattling around in it – a retired couple, an engineer and millinery buyer, along with a lodger.

The Bomb Sight website, notes that Tudor House was hit during the Blitz, although there is no obvious record of it in the local APR Log. By the time the area was visited by surveyors putting together the LCC Bomb Damage maps the site had been cleared and no significant bomb damage was noted (3). Similarly, when Ordnance Survey visited in 1948, cartographers though noted a gap with some earthworks where the Tudor House once stood. was though.

The reality is that this was a crater that provided a playground for those growing up in neighbouring streets, such as Osberton Road during and after the war. The site wasn’t just a playground during the war, it was part of the dig for victory allotments as the 1948 map above shows.

The old Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham approved the construction of the estate in 1958 and the contract was awarded to Costain, with work completed in 1960, this will have included demolishing the remaining houses on the site.  Costain was a firm with roots in Merseyside who had expanded into the south east in the 1930s.  At the time they  built Leybridge Court, public sector housing was only a small part of their work but they were to become a significant player in the 1960s.  Costain continue today as a civil engineering contractor. 

The estate centres around a trio of 11 storey blocks, each with 44 flats.  At the rear of the estate are much smaller, low rise, maisonette blocks.

The blocks were seemingly quite popular, based on one Facebook thread at least.  Unlike most tower blocks they weren’t given names, just referred to by the numbers within them.  However, they did tend to be known by a distinguishing feature – the colour of the doors and railings on the balconies – green (nearest to Lee Green), blue (close to Cambridge Drive) and red at the back of the estate. 

In 2000 the then Labour Government set the Decent Homes Standard which sought to ensure that public sector homes were in a reasonable state of repair, had effective heating systems and ‘reasonably modern’ facilities and services – in the main this related to kitchens and bathrooms.  There wasn’t sufficient money for local authorities to do this work all themselves. So, in some locations, councils looked to transfer stock to other organisations who weren’t subject to the same borrowing restrictions as they were.  In Lewisham, this led to large areas of stock being transferred to housing associations – Phoenix was set up to improve and manage the homes in Downham and Bellingham.  With Leybridge Court and the Newstead Estate (often referred to as the Redbrick Estate), Lewisham with input from residents, undertook a competitive process and in the end selected Broomleigh (now known as Clarion) to refurbish and manage the estates.

Work was underway to the outside of the estate when the Google Streetview car passed by in 2012, the internal works were probably completed earlier.  The exteriors look much more modern and have changed from brick to what looks like a white render – they have become a landmark, clear from many of the higher points of south east London.  One thing remains though the colour of the  entrances is still red, green and blue – something, no doubt, that residents will have insisted upon. 

The improvements on the estate were at least partially paid for by the use of land on the corner of Cambridge Drive for new homes for sale on a shared ownership basis.

Today, the estate, from the outside at least, seems well maintained and cared for – how social housing should be. 

If you live(d) or work(ed) at Leybridge Court estate, tell us your memories of your time there.  Post them below (you can use your Facebook or Twitter login – or via Facebook (if you found the post via here) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for it to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Try not to post anything libellous about others though.

Notes

  1. Neil Rhind (1987) Blackheath and Its Environs Volume 2, p34
  2. Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
  3. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p116

Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey map is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial licence
  • The picture of the original Lee Green Farm is from information board at Lee Green
  • The black and white photograph of the estate being built is from the collection of Lewisham Archives, it is used with their permission and remains their copyright

The Rose of Lee, latterly the Dirty South, a closed Lee High Road Pub

On a bend in Lee High Road going towards Lewisham from Lee Green an attractive late Victorian pub dominates. Currently badged the Dirty South, it has been empty since March 2020, seemingly a victim of COVID-19.  It has some lovely architectural detail (including the original brass clock) and a fascinating history, most of it when called the Rose of Lee.

It is a pub that seems to have first opened its doors in 1859 with a licence granted to William Baker (1). The area around had started to be developed in earnest from the 1850s after the opening of Lewisham station in 1849, although there was earlier ribbon development along Lee High Road.  The area that is now the Mercator Estate was developed in the 1850s and a Baptist chapel opened on the corner of Eastdown Park in 1854, along with Christ Church in Lee Park the same year.  With the spiritual needs being met it is not surprising that there would be an attempt to meet the drinking requirements of the relatively wealthy locals.    

The early years seemed to be a struggle for licencees and Henry Taunton took over in 1861 (2).  By the autumn of the following year, possibly before, John Maywood Lee was there and had applied unsuccessfully for a music and dancing licence (3).  The same application was repeated a year latter with a sympathetic local press noting a ‘strong case’ and no opposition, but the magistrate was unsympathetic (4).

Lee moved on by July 1864 with the 25 year old William Hart Wildee taking on the licence (5). He had previously had the licence of The Victory in Kingsland Road from 1861, which he seems to have inherited from his father (6).   

Wildee seems to have wanted to make better use of the large space that the Rose of Lee offered – attempting to generate more regular income from the function room above.  It was described in the press as a “ventilated room 75’ by 26’ ft (24 x 9 m) suitable for ‘first rate club or society.’” Its availability for excursion parties and bean feasts was noted too (7). 

The magistrates seemed to take up the offer (8); in an era where few public buildings courts were often held in hotels and larger public houses, as we saw with the Green Man on Blackheath in relation to the Blackheath Pedestrian.  The Rose of Lee was also regularly used for auctions – such as one for a range of building materials in June 1868 (9).

William Wildee attempted unsuccessfully to sell the lease in 1866 – the Rose of Lee was described as ‘a modern structure and replete with every convenience for carrying out a profitable trade’ (10).  The implication seeming to be that while there was potential, money wasn’t being made.

Wildee’s tenure didn’t last much longer as it was cut short by his death in early 1867 at the Rose of Lee.  His assets which included the lease passed to his wife, Harriet.  While she took over the licence she sold up to George Taylor in the autumn of 1867 (11) – he was to be 6th name above the door in 8 years.

George Taylor’s tenure ended with eviction, although this seems to have been something of a formality as he was reported to have abandoned the pub and fled the country – perhaps with large debts and wanting to avoid the debtors’ prison.  The Rose of Lee was left empty for a ‘considerable period’ before a new licensee arrived – the licence was granted to either someone called John Steib (12) or by John Scott, an experienced publican who had run two pubs before for a total of 10 years (13), depending on the newspaper.

A much later sign….

John Steib was certainly a licensee there as he was replaced by James Philip Janes in 1872 (14). Janes would have been 21 when he took over the tenancy, he too struggled and by 1873 James Martin’s name was on the brass plate over the door (15). By early 1874 William Edgington was granted the licence after pub had been ‘closed’ by the late tenant, presumably Martin (16).   Edgington’s tenure was even shorter, Walter Pool was the new landlord by September 1874 (17).

The Rose of Lee was becoming a graveyard for publicans some who had success elsewhere – James Janes did so elsewhere in Woolwich and New Cross and by the 1881 census he was living on Lewisham High Street and described as a ‘Retired Licensed Victualler’ and employing three servants.

Pool seemed to make a little more of go lasting until around 1879 before Edward Slater took over the licence (18).  Slater, from Wednesbury in the Black Country, was there when the 1881 census enumerators called, along with two nieces and a barman. The licensee and owner (19) by 1886 was Frank Wilson though.

While music and dancing licences had been rejected in the 1860s, they had certainly been granted by the 1885. One of the relatively regular users of rooms there were Lewisham Hare and Hounds, a forerunner of Kent AC. The club had a handicapped race from their Hither Green Hall base (listed as Patches Lane, which seems to have been part of Hither Green Lane) with ‘smoking concert’ at the Rose of Lee afterwards (20).  It was used by other sports clubs for similar purposes, including Blackheath and Lee Cricket Club (21).

Frank Wilson had taken over both the licence and the ownership of the Rose of Lee probably from around 1883 when one of his children was born in Lee. The family had spent time in Aden (now Yemen) before that. In the 1891 census Frank was there with his wife, Alice, six children and a barmaid – Ada Sidery.  Ada was a local woman and was one of at least 12 children of the builder William Sidery and had grown up 100 metres down Lee High Road (next door to the Baptist Chapel, later site of Fry’s and Penfolds parts and servicing).

Frank Wilson sold up to Thomas Henry Cook in 1896 (22); Cook seems to have been behind the rebuilding of the Rose of Lee. Several prominent local pubs had been rebuilt in the late 1880s and 1890s – notably The Sultan, close to Lewisham, The Woodman further up Lee High Road, along with the Old and New Tigers Head pubs at Lee Green. Plans were submitted to the Parish surveyor in 1897 (23). However, it wasn’t until 1900 when plans were approved by local magistrates (24).

No photographs seem to exist of the original Rose of Lee, but the changes are obvious from the ‘footprint’ of the pub from 1863 (left) and 1914 (right) Ordnance Survey maps.

The changes seem to have enabled the pub to have a billiards club which saw regular exhibition matches, the were appearances from some of the well-known professional players of the day. In 1906 this included Bert Elphick (25) who was to become the Billiards Professionals’ Association Champion a few years later and Walter Lovejoy (26) who had recently turned professional after winning the amateur championship in 1904.

Other clubs and societies met there too – Lee Rovers Cycle Club (27) had already moved there from the alcohol free Jubilee Coffee Tavern near Lee Green. With the Lee Excelsior Musical Society (28) meeting there as well. The pub was home too to several Masonic Lodges, including the Lee Lodge of Instruction which had links to another lodge at Eltham Palace (29).

Source eBay Dec 2019

Cook was born in 1861 in the City and in the 1901 census was listed as being at the Rose of Lee living with his wife, Maud, four children, some extended family, two servants and four bar staff. Unless Thomas Cook was living way beyond his means, it seemed that the pub was a thriving business and had moved way beyond the trials and tribulations of his predecessors.

Cook was fined in 1903 for selling alcohol to a drunk, despite evidence to the contrary but the magistrates believed the police (30).

Cook must have moved on soon after as the 1905 Kelly’s Directory listed a Hugh William Shannon as being the landlord. Although Adrian Bailey had taken over by the end of 1905 (31) and like Cook, received a fine for selling alcohol to a drunk the following year (32).

Bailey there until December 1909 – the date was mentioned in case where his wife, Emily, was seeking divorce, citing cruelty.  These were allegations that he denied, and the petition was dismissed (33). By the end of the war they were divorced though, Emily had moved in with a former regular at the Rose of Lee and Bailey, then an army Lieutenant, hired a private detective to get the evidence (34).

Thomas Robinson there in 1911 and is listed in the census with his wife, Edith, two young children, two servants, three bar staff and a boarder. The Robinsons had moved on by 1916 and Kelly’s listed George Poole as the man pulling pints.

Source eBay Oct 2019

George Poole and was to have his name in brass over the door until around the end of World War 2. Other than his 1939 Register entry, anything more of George’s life has proved difficult to track down – he was listed there as being born in 1872 and in 1939 was living there with his wife, Frances, a couple of bar staff and a cook.

By the 1945 Kelly’s Directory, the pub was listed as being run by Norriss Brothers, Caterers – who are listed until the early 1950s, after which the Directory doesn’t name who was there.

By the 1970s it was at least in part a music venue with bands playing regularly, its greatest claim to fame from this era was the first gig of Kate Bush in March 1977. The set list included a lot of covers including ‘Come Together’, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘Tracks Of My Tears’, but some of her own songs including ‘James And The Cold Gun’, ‘Saxophone Song’ and ‘Them Heavy People’ which all appeared on her debut album.

Source eBay Jan 2021

There were lots of fond memories of the pub in the 1970s and 1980s from a Facebook thread – the upstairs room used for wedding receptions, a landlord called Austin from the early 1980s who continued the tradition of live music, a short-lived gym in the function room, soul and R&B nights on Sundays, and, of course, the odd lock in – although how on earth that would have been hidden with the frontage, goodness knows….

In the 1980s it became a sports bar known variously as the Sports, Hobgoblin and Dirty South.  It never seemed terribly inviting, a bar dominated by TV screens with a sparse number of drinkers looking out through the large windows. The landlords from the 1980s and beyond included Vickie & Steven Hill, Tony Coffey and Colin Taylor who ran the pub between 2001 and 2004 (there are several comments from Colin below, some of which has been included in the post).

From around 2004, the Rose of Lee re-invented itself as a rock and indie music venue, again badged as the Dirty South.   It was a venue which attracted a younger audience, it always seemed busy around the weekend with DJ sets, which included the likes of Tim Burgess from the Charlatans and Terry Hall of the Specials.

There were lots of live acts too – this included some significant names from the era as two snapshots in time from Google StreetView in 2008 and 2009 note – posters outside included gigs for Bloc Party, Bombay Bicycle Club, the Levellers, The Yards (a band that evolved from The Seahorses), Domino Bones (a band that featured Bez from the Happy Mondays) and Babyshambles, filmed below – warning the music is loud and of not great sound quality.  Alabama 3 also played there in 2010.

From around this time the upper floors started to be used for temporary housing hostel of various types – known as Rose House.

The pub was ransacked during the summer riots of 2011; while there main damage was to the windows at the front, it was enough to see the pub remained shut for around 5 years, with a full re-launch in 2017. It was a different clientele and age group it was aiming at – no longer primarily a music venue rather it seemed to have modelled itself on the same demographic as the seemingly successful Station Hotel on Staplehurst Road. 

From Facebook page

They offered a variety of fayre with an emphasis on food but music continued with jazz evenings and DJ sets, along with quiz nights and football on the TV.  The shutters went up at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown and never seemed to come off.  Its website is no more, and the Facebook page has been silent since 7 March 2020.

At the time of writing in early 2021, the building is squatted and with metal grilles over the windows at the front It is a forlorn looking sight – it is owned by Wellington, a company controlled by the ultra-rich Reuben Brothers, its future, like much of the pub sector, appears very uncertain in the current environment.

If you worked there or drank there, tell your story, who were the characters who propped up the bar, the landlord, the staff,  the atmosphere, the memorable nights, the particular celebrations that were held there, memories of the friends, the beers.  Post them below (you can use your Facebook or Twitter login – or via Facebook (if you found the post via here) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for ti to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Anything libellous will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.

Notes

  1. The Era 2 October 1859
  2. The Era 17 February 1861
  3. Kentish Mercury 04 October 1862
  4. Kentish Mercury 24 October 1863
  5. Morning Advertiser 11 July 1864
  6. Morning Advertiser 13 March 1861
  7. Morning Advertiser 3 August 1864
  8. Kentish Gazette 22 September 1868
  9. Morning Advertiser 27 June 1868
  10. Morning Advertiser 26 November 1866
  11. The Era  – 17 November 1867
  12. Kentish Independent 19 August 1871
  13. Kentish Mercury 19 August 1871
  14. Morning Advertiser 12 February 1872
  15. Ken White (1992) The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham p236
  16. Kentish Mercury 16 May 1874
  17. White op cit p236
  18. ibid p236
  19. ibid p236
  20. The Sportsman 18 December 1885
  21. Kentish Mercury 14 January 1887
  22. Kentish Mercury 28 August 1896
  23. Kentish Independent 10 July 1897
  24. Kentish Mercury 11 May 1900
  25. Sporting Life 31 March 1906
  26. Sporting Life 5 May 1906
  27. Kentish Mercury 12 February 1897
  28. Kentish Mercury 08 November 1907
  29. Kentish Mercury 09 July 1909
  30. Kentish Mercury 27 February 1903
  31. Woolwich Gazette 15 December 1905
  32. Woolwich Gazette 30 March 1906
  33. Globe 9 November 1910
  34. Globe 23 July 1918

Credits

  • All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • The modern photograph of the pub is via StreetView from 2019
  • The Ordnance Survey maps are via the National Library of Scotland and are on a non-commercial licence
  • I have no idea where the photo of the pub sign came from, if it is your’s do let me know so I can credit your photography (or take it down if you’d prefer).

A massive thank you to Colin Taylor, landlord at the pub in the early 2000s and with much longer connections to the pub for his input – filling in some details and correcting me on a few things.

World War Two Damage on Springbank Road

There have been several posts in Running Past on World War 2 bombings and post-war reconstruction, many of these have been around V-1 and V-2 attacks such as those on Lenham Road, Lewisham Hill, along with a pair of Hither Green ones – Nightingale Grove and  Fernbrook Road.  More recently Running Past has covered the attacks that happened on three nights on their 80th anniversaries – the First Night of the Blitz of the as well as the post Christmas raids on the nights of 27/28 and 29/30 December 1940.  We turn our attention now to the more widespread damage on Springbank Road caused through a variety of attacks. 

Key: black=total destruction, purple=damaged beyond repair, dark red=seriously damaged (doubt if repairable), light red=seriously damaged (repairable at cost), orange=general blast damage (non-structural), yellow=blast damage (minor), green=clearance area

The level and scale of damage becomes clear when looking at the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps pictured above (1) which shows that most of the houses in the street had some form of damage.  Rather than Springbank Road itself, Hither Green marshaling yards, behind the eastern side of the street, were one of the two main Luftwaffe targets in Hither Green during the Blitz, the other being the hospital (2). The damage was much greater to Springbank Road though than to the west of the railway. 

Large swathes of the street were mapped as red by the London County Council surveyors – ‘seriously damaged (doubt if repairable)’ or worse.  In reality, a lot more end up surviving the war than the map suggests.

The Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service logs make for fascinating reading in terms of trying to work out what damage happened when in Hither Green and the extent of the damage.  However, as we’ve seen in relation the First Night of the Blitz as well as the post-Christmas raids, recording in the log was patchy at best with some high explosive and incendiary bombs only being recorded by the Fire Brigade and others, which were dealt with by local ARP Fire Wardens, were never recorded.

On the third night of the Blitz, on 9 September 1940, it is clear that 136 Springbank Road was hit.  What is less clear is whether this was a direct hit or the fallout from the bombing of the house behind at 51 Wellmeadow Road. This was the house was on the corner with Torridon Road and marked in black on the map above and was completely destroyed. This part of Wellmeadow Road was rebuilt after the War.  William Brown (83) and Alice Budd (56) died at 51 Wellmeadow Road that night. 

136 Springbank was less badly damaged, although it seems to have undergone some wartime or post-war rebuilding work as from the front from the variety of slightly different bricks were used.  One of the inhabitants was Mary Hutcheson – it was a large house that she shared with a couple – the Gallotts.   Mary was seriously injured in the bombing, although she lived for another 6 months before dying at St Alfege’s Hospital (later Greenwich) on 10 March 1941, aged 82. 

Elsewhere on Springbank Road, there was some serious damage further down the street with 213 to 225 completely destroyed. The date of this bombing isn’t clear as the attacks appear not to have been recorded in the ARP log (3).  Unlike 136 Springbank, no one was killed in the attack, although given the scale of the damage it would be surprising if there were no injuries.  213 to 225 (pictured above) were rebuilt as a mixture of Borough of Lewisham houses and flats after the war.  On the other side of the street, there was destruction and rebuilding too, but you have to look closely to see the differences compared with the original Corbett estate homes – the brickwork around the doors and windows is different and the homes are similar to replacement houses in Wellmeadow Rod, which we’ll cover below.

Elsewhere on the eastern side, homes got away with some more limited damage; there had to be re-building work at 211; while its next-door neighbour didn’t survive, the roof, chimneys and bay wall had to be re-built at 211.

There had were several nights during December 1940, notably that of 29/30, when the area on the other side of the railway had seen 1 kg incendiary bombs raining down.  Springbank Road escaped on those nights. However, three weeks earlier on the night of 8/9 December, there had been a similar attack over a slightly wider area – there were a trio of hits at just before 11:00 pm at the southerly end of Springbank Road – none of the repots had any indication of the extent of any damage or casualties.  It could have been the attack that destroyed 213 to 225, as the fire services will have been overstretched that night, although incendiary damage tended to be of a much smaller scale and often put out by wardens.

V-1 doodlebug attacks started to pepper the area from 16 June 1944 – in Hither Green and neighbouring areas, during the first week there had been attacks between George Lane and Davenport Road on 16 June; Lewisham Park the same day; Lewisham Hill and Leahurst Road on 17 June and the junction of Lenham and Lampmead Roads on 22 June. 

Research on the accuracy of V-1s has noted that they had ‘relatively low accuracy… compared to modern missile systems’ but that the aim of the attacks was ‘to achieve its terror and urban damage objectives’ rather than hit specific targets.  So, V1 flying bomb hits on Hither Green and surrounding areas weren’t specifically targeted here.  Indeed, as we have mentioned in other posts on V-1 attacks there is some evidence to suggest that false intelligence was spread back to Germany which indicated that the early V-1 flying bombs were overshooting the north west of London and latter ones were re-calibrated slightly leading to south London boroughs such as Lewisham, Woolwich and Croydon being disproportionately affected.

At around 7:15 in the morning of Friday 23 June 1944 Hither Green had a double hit either site of the railway – Fernbrook Road, which Running Past covered a while ago and Springbank Road; where the block of Corbett Estate housing of 104 to 116 Springbank Road was either destroyed or had to be demolished along with the similar houses behind in 27-37 Wellmeadow Road – the scale of debris blocked Springbank Road for a while.

It was perhaps surprising that only one person died, Annie Taylor (57) who was visiting 110 Springbank from her home at 121 Brightfield Road – Annie was a widow and had lived with her son and daughter in law.  There were several reports of the level of injuries in the ARP log – which were thought at one point to be as high as 25, although final tally seemed to be 14. 

We don’t know the identity of those injured but from the 1939 Register we can work out something about the people who were living in 104 to 116 Springbank Road and the houses behind in 27-37 Wellmeadow Road.  Before doing that, it is worth remembering that the houses had been built as suburbia for the middle classes of Victorian and Edwardian London.  The houses in Springbank Road were some of the later ones built on the Corbett Estate and didn’t appear in the 1901 census, but were in the 1911 edition. The difference between Springbank Road and nearby streets such as Ardmere Road in 1911 is dramatic.  The latter had been built as working class housing with the small houses generally shared between two households with income coming from manual work.  In Wellmeadow and Springbank they were office and sales jobs – with several commercial salesmen and clerks along with a cashier and an accountant.  There were no manual jobs apart from servants in 3 of the 11 houses.  Despite the large houses, large households were rare – it was a very different life to that in Ardmere Road.

By the time the 1939 Register was taken, both streets had changed a lot – the middle class had moved out and both Wellmeadow and Springbank Roads were homes to manual workers, the only exceptions being the adult Spurrell sisters at 112 Springbank – which included Edith who was a Ledger Clerk at a bookshop but also worked as an ARP First Aider.  They were more well-to-do than their counterparts in Ardmere Road and Woodlands Street, the households were smaller and there was less sharing.  Only 108 Springbank and 31 Wellmeadow were split between more than one household.  None of the men (or women) were able to claim the ‘Heavy Work’ supplement which entitled larger rations

The housing built after the war on both Springbank and Wellmeadow sides of the site seems to have been private sector; this is unlike many of the other V-1 attacks that Running Past has covered – Hither Green Station, Lenham/Lampmead Road, Lewisham Hill and Fernbrook Road where it was homes built for the local authority.  On Springbank Road 104 to 116 (pictured above) were re-built as flats. Based on Land Registry data, most remain in the private sector although one has been subsequently acquired a housing association. It was very different in Wellmeadow where the houses seem to have been built almost as 1950s versions of their predecessors – again all but one are privately owned, with one has been bought and converted into flats by a housing association.

Notes

  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the copyright owners of the map, the London Metropolitan Archives to use the image here
  2. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green, The Forgotten Hamlet p63
  3. It is possible that some mentions were missed when scanning through the very fragile records

Data Sources

  • The ARP records are via Lewisham Archives
  • 1939 Register data is via Find My Past – subscription required
  • Land Registry data is via Nimbus Maps – registration required.
  • The photograph of 136 Springbank Road is via Streeview

The Post Christmas Blitz on Lee Part 1 – 27 December 1940

Apologies if you’ve seen this before – the previous incarnation was partially deleted.
In the autumn of 2020, Running Past covered the attacks of the first night of the Blitz around Lee, Lewisham, Catford and Hither Green 80 years on. Over the next few months there were frequent attacks on the area – the worst night in the old Borough of Lewisham was probably the night of 8 to 9 December 1940. The Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service Logs (an example of the log is shown below for 29 December 1940) noted for the night of 8-9 December

  • 126 high explosive bombs dropped;
  • 206 incendiary bombs – the number of both incendiary and high explosive bombs was almost certainly understated as the locations rather than numbers were often recorded;
  • 176 fires started – no doubt stretching the Fire Brigade to beyond breaking point;
  • 5 deaths; and
  • 175 injured – this was almost certainly a big understatement as at many locations injuries were ticked rather than having numbers.

However, around Lee some of the worst nights were at the end of December 1940 in two posts we’ll look at the nights 27/28 and 29/30 December where there were two nights of very heavy bombing.

There had been two quiet nights on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 1940, it was the lull before the storm with the night of 27/28 December being one of the heaviest nights of the blitz in Lewisham.

While there were attacks earlier in evening in Brockley, the first attacks on Lee was a series of incendiary bombs which hit at 19:51; one was at 33 Burnt Ash Road – a large house demolished after the war in the large scale demolitions of houses at the end of leases by the Crown Estate. There was no note of damage, but in the LCC Bomb Damage map the house ended the war with general, not structural, blast damage (1).

The other was at Reeds of Lee Green, a long standing drapers and furnishers that dominated the south east quadrant of Lee Green, straddling both Burnt Ash Road and Eltham Road – it was around 50 metres from 33 Burnt Ash Road. There was no damage marked there on the LCC Bomb Damage maps (2).

The final one of trio was at 57 Leyland Road (opposite the present day Alanthus Close) which was dealt with by officers from Lee police station.

Soon after at 20:05, another incendiary bomb was dropped close by in Burnt Ash Road between Southbrook and Micheldever Roads – there was a small fire which was quickly put out though.

There were several attacks on just after 9:00 pm on the then new homes on Upwood Road, (above) 34 and 22 were specifically mentioned but a couple of other incendiaries were reported as well. A hundred metres of so away 73 Leyland Road was hit by another incendiary. The was another dropped on Leyland Road between Dorville and Osberton Road – presumably somewhere around the current Carsten Close. With all of these the fires seem to have been put out by ARP fire wardens.

At around 9:12 pm, 41 Dorville Road and 36 Cambridge Drive were hit by incendiaries – as with the others in neighbouring streets they were put out by ARP wardens who had a busy night. The latter is a large surviving Victorian house, the former lost to the large scale redevelopment of Crown Estate land in the 1960s, but will have looked similar to the very different street scene from a few decades before.

At around 9:40 at least five bombs were dropped around Aislibie Road. One was in Manor House Gardens, which was home to three air road shelters. Fortunately the high explosive bomb hit a shrubbery between the shelters with only limited damage. Had there been a direct hit the loss of life could have been considerable as happened at Albion Way in Lewisham town centre on 11 September 1940 where 41 died.

A hundred metres or so away, 14-20 Lampmead Road (between Aislibie and Lenham Roads) were hit. Presumably the impact was in the road as none of the houses was destroyed although the ARP log noted that walls on all of them were cracked. Numbers 18 and 20 have survived but 14 and 16 were destroyed by a V1 flying bomb later in the war – the circle on the map.

More serious damage was around the corner in Aislibie Road with number 50 being hit directly and largely demolished and the houses either side rendered uninhabitable. The shading on the LCC bomb damage maps is incorrect here – the Ordnance Survey map of 1949 notes ‘ruins.’

Another bomb hit a few doors up, damaging 38 Aislibie Road- it wasn’t one of the houses destroyed during the war and was marked as blast damage – minor in nature on the LCC bomb damage maps. (3). If there was any serious damage it may have been made good by the end of the war.

In the same attack there was serious damage to the odd side of the road too, 17 to 23 had their chimney stacks knocked of; but 25 to 29 were left in ruins. The site had been cleared by the time the Ordnanace Survey cartographers mapped the area in 1949, but unlike similar small sites, such as Fernbrook Road, wasn’t used for prefabs. Again there were no reports on casualties here.

At around 9:45 there were at least four high explosive bombs dropped in the area around Winn Road area between Guibal Road and Senlac Raod.  The one at 87 Guibal Road failed to explode and the houshold had to be evacuated temporarily while it was made safe. The one at 105 Guibal damaged water, gas and electricity services, with the others not seeming to do much damage other than to gardens.

At 9:55 another high explosive bomb was reported as hitting Manor Lane – 50 was described as being ‘demolished’ and 48 and 52 rendered uninhabitable. Unless these were rebuilt in in exactly the same style as the W J Scudamore originals, it may be that the report was overstated. While there has clearly been some patching of walls, original features seem to remain.

Around 10:00 pm a small explosive bomb hit the old St Margaret’s Churchyard (pictured above) leaving a small crater and several damaged tombstones. A few minutes later there were a couple of incendiary bombs dropped on Lee High Road close to the current Mercator estate – an area that was to be devastated later in the war.

Overall, that night in the old Borough of Lewisham 

  • 97 high explosive were dropped;
  • 112 incendiary bombs fell;
  • 91 fires were started;
  • 3 died;
  • 12 were injured, this is almost certainly an understatement as some just ticked the box rather than entering a number; and
  • 12 were trapped by debris having to be rescued by emergency services.

It wasn’t just Lewisham that was attacked that night, The Times for the following day noted that ‘the raid equaled in intensity, but not duration, some of the heaviest attacks on the capital….from widespread areas came the same report of enemy aircraft flying over almost continuously dropping incendiaries followed by high explosive bombs.’ (4)

Whilst the following night seems to have seen another lull with defence guns silent (5), the Sunday evening of 29/30 saw the bombers return with in what was described in central London as the Second Great Fire of London but also saw numerous bombs dropped on Lee; we’ll return to this is the second part of the post.

Notes

  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p116
  2. ibid p116
  3. ibid p185
  4. The Times Saturday December 28 1940
  5. The Times Monday December 30 1940

Credits

  • Most of the information for this post comes from the Lewisham ARP Log – it is a fascinating document, which is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives. It isn’t a complete record – some incidents were reported to the Fire Brigade rather than the APR and some incendiaries were dealt with by residents or Fire Wardens without ever reaching the ARP service – this is particularly the case on busy nights such as this.
  • The map is from the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the London Metropolitan Archives, the copyright owners of the map, the to use the image here.
  • The photograph of Lee Green and the page of the ARP Log are both from the collection of Lewisham Archives, both are used with permission and remain their copyright.
  • The postcard of Dorville Road is via eBay in December 2019

The Post Christmas Blitz on Lee Part 2 – 29 December 1940

In the first part of this post we looked at the post-Christmas Luftwaffe attacks on 27 December 1940 on Lee which saw numerous bombs dropped and homes destroyed on Aislibie Road, the misspelled road, named after Benjamin Aislabie – slave owner, awful cricketer and tenant of Lee Place.

While there was a lull the following evening, it seems that the Luftwaffe were just gearing up for an even bigger raid on 29 December, the aim of which seems to have been to put the fire services under a level of pressure that they would be unable to cope with and see London burning.

The attacks were much more concentrated in a small number of streets between Lee High Road and and Manor House Gardens. Most were incendiaries, and along with a few high explosive bombs, were dropped in a few minutes around 8:15 pm.

As we found with the post on the first night of the Blitz, it is worth remembering that not every incident was reported to the Air Raid Precautions (ARP), some being just reported to the Fire Brigade but others never going through official channels. One of the pages of incidents for the night of 29/30 December 1940 is show below.

The first attacks of the night in Lee started at around 7:25 pm in Blessingham Road, when a high explosive bomb hit the back garden of number 38. Elsewhere on the street another high explosive bomb injured two people. The street was to be decimated by a series of V-1 flying bombs later in the war and was developed, initially as prefabs, and in the early 1960s, as the Mercator Estate.

Fifty minutes later, Lee was on fire, the ARP logs note several dozen incendiaries being dropped at the same time, so we’ll look at the attack on a street by street basis. Aislibie Road (pictured below) which had suffered badly two nights before, was again hit. It was different houses this evening with 5, 13, 26, 30 and 39 all being bombed with roofs and upper floors damaged by the incendiary bombs, none were destroyed though.

Parallel to Aislibie Road, and the location of a devastating V-1 flying bomb three and a half years later, is Lenham Road which saw 5, 7, 10 and 28 all hit by incendiaries. The fires were successfully dealt with by local ARP and Fire Wardens.

Incendiary bombs rained down on neighbouring Brightfield Road with 32, 34, 42, 43, 49, 63 and 83 all hit by them (some are pictured below) – the fires were put out by wardens and the inhabitants, but many of the roofs were damaged.

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, the roof and upper floors of 24 Lampmead Road were damaged, as was 4 Hedgley Street. Taunton Road saw at least two attacks – number 60 was slightly damaged and 2 Thornhill Cottages saw its roof damamged. Thornhill Cottages was a terrace at the eastern end of Taunton Road between Burnt Ash Road and Hedgley Street seemingly on the present Sainsbury’s site.

At the opposite end of Manor House Gardens, 2, 44 and 61 Old Road plus Pentland House (pictured below) were all hit but Fire Wardens managed to deal with all four fires.

A little further along Lee High Road, number 345 was hit by another incendiary; ironically it had been a fire station up until 1906 when the one on Eltham Road opened, it is now a solicitors. The roof seems to have been damaged, and assuming that there was no damage on other occasions during the war, a central turret there was destroyed (there is a pre-damage photograph in the post on the fire station).

There was an explosive and incendiary combination dropped on Dacre Park at the same time and there were ‘several .. casualties in the road’ as a result.

Around fifteen minutes later at 8:30, a high explosive bomb hit Lee High Road between Old Road and Lochaber Road – there 5 casualties, including an ARP warden, with shrapnel damage to almshouses’ boundary wall that is still visible (along with a fading direction sign to an air raid shelter). The ARP warden was Henry Cottell of 41 Manor Lane Terrace who was to die later that evening in Lewisham Hospital – it was a house that seems to have been lost to the construction of Wolfram Close. Henry left behind two adult daughters and his wife Ann, who were there when the 1939 Register was collected.

Also at 8:30, Chiesman’s store repository at 87 Old Road was hit by a high explosive and incendiary combination – the ARP log noted that the repository was on fire. We’ll return to this incident later in the post.

One of the ARP Fire wardens for that part of Lee that night was Phyllis Noble (later Willmott), who lived at 49 Lampmead Road with her parents and grandparents. In the aftermath of the incendiaries being dropped, she and her brothers, who were also ARP Wardens, grabbed stirrup pumps, buckets and sandbags. ‘Incendiaries seemed to be everywhere, but so too were numerous fire watchers like ourselves.’ (1)

The first fire they dealt with was at the almshouses that stood at the corner Lampmead and Lee High Roads (pictured above) where a room had caught fire. They put out that and another in the neighbouring Methodist church, now the New Testament Church of God. Phyllis and her brothers spent the next few hours putting out fires in locations that didn’t even get a mention in the ARP log chasing ‘up and down stairs in the tall Victorian houses in the High Road.’ They reached Old Road and Chiesman’s Store depository by around midnight (2)

“As the red glow in the sky told us, there were still plenty of fires raging, including one in the furniture depository nearby. We went along to see if there was anything we could do there; giant tongues of red and gold flames were shooting skywards from the glowing building and clearly this was not work for us, in any case the firemen had already arrived.”

Had the Fire Brigade arrived earlier they may have been able to save 87 Old Road but it was largely destroyed.

Lee was probably only a stopping off place for the Luftwaffe as they headed towards the centre of the city. Later in the evening incendiaries rained down on central London in what was described as the Second Great Fire of London, the iconic picture of St Paul’s Cathedral amidst the smoke was from that night as 160 died and hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the capital.

Notes

  1. Phyllis Willmott (1988) Coming of Age in Wartime p50
  2. ibid

Credits

  • Most of the information for this post comes from the Lewisham ARP Log – it is a fascinating document, which is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives. It isn’t a complete record – some incidents were reported to the Fire Brigade rather than the APR and some incendiaries were dealt with by residents or Fire Wardens without ever reaching the ARP service – this is particularly the case on busy nights such as this.
  • The photograph of St Paul’s is via a Wikipedia Commons
  • The photograph of the Boone’s Almshouses and the page of the ARP Log are both from the collection of Lewisham Archives, both are used with permission and remain their copyright.

1-19 Burnt Ash Road – Shopping Before the Leegate Centre, Part 2

In the first part of this post we looked at the shopping parade of 1-19 Burnt Ash Road, following its evolution from housing built on the site of Lee Green Farm until the outbreak of World War One. As had been the case with the shops opposite, it seemed to be a thriving parade at this stage – empty shops something of a rarity, certainly when compared with Manor Park Parade, closer to Lewisham. We continue the story, taking it to the the end of the parade when the bulldozers arrived, ahead of the building of the Leegate Centre.

Bank House

The Bank had opened around 1906 as a branch of the London and Provincial Bank; there was a name change in 1918 following a merger with the London and South Western Bank, who had a branch that we’ve already covered at the junction of Lee High and Brightfield Roads. The combined name was the snappily titled London, Provincial and South Western Bank.  Probably by the time the sign writers had finished the new title, it had become redundant as it was taken over by Barclays later in 1918.  It seems to have stayed a bank until the parade was demolished, although the address changed to Eltham Road in the mid-1930s.

Clock House

The watchmaker and jeweller Robert Fielding who had been at the Clock House from around 1906, remained there until the late 1920s.  Fielding would have been 80 in 1930 and presumably retired to Bromley where he died that year. 

There was a new business, a chemist that was there until at least the beginning of World War 2, run by W George, latterly trading as George’s Chemist.   It was bought out by the national chain Bannister and Thatcher, who eventually became part of Lloyds Chemists.  Oddly, at around the same time they opened another shop on the opposite side of the road in what was originally called Burnt Ash Parade – the late 1930s development in the southwestern quadrant of Lee Green.  They remained at the Clock House, latterly referred to as no 1, until the end of the parade.

1a Burnt Ash Road

1a was referred to before and after World War 1, but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of  CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers.  They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.

However, by 1925 there was some clarity and the firm John Lovibond was trading out of 1a. Their managers seemed to live on site; in 1939, it was Harold McLuskie who lived there with wife Constance, a lodger and three others, probably children.

John Lovibond & Sons were the owners of the Greenwich Brewery at 177 Greenwich High Road, almost next to the station, although it was a firm which originated in Somerset.  They stopped brewing in 1959 to concentrated on selling wines and spirits through a chain of shops, including the one in Burnt Ash Road.  They continued there until the demolition of the shops in the mid-1960s; the remaining shops were sold to Wine Ways in 1968, and many subsequently on to Victoria Wines. 

1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road

We’d left 1 and 3, along with a big chunk of the shops around the corner in Eltham Road under the stewardship of Griffiths & Co.  They had bought out the drapery, furnishing and ironmongery empire of C H Reed from Charles Reed’s son William around 1905.

By 1920 the shops had been sold back to the Reeds – initially  trading as William Reed and then known as Reeds (Lee) by 1925.  The second name change reflected the death of William in 1924.  He was succeeded by his brother Ernest, who seems to have run the business until the 1950s.  It appears likely that the site was redeveloped at around the time of the re-acquisition to allow for a single premises straddling the corner of Burnt Ash and Eltham Roads, although the Bank remained.

By 1960, the shop front was home to Barker Clark Estate Development Company, perhaps a firm related to the creation of the Leegate Centre

5 Burnt Ash Road

We’d left the shop front being run by a firm of builders’ merchants called Barnes Brothers as World War 1 approached.  By 1916 though the premises were being used by a firm of ironmongers – a trade that was to continue until the bulldozers demolished the parade in the early 1960s. 

Initially, it was run by Holeman and Hyland. The Holeman was Charles Herbert Holeman.  Charles was born in Peckham in 1878 and had been living in East Dulwich, working as an electrical engineer in 1911.   In 1939 he was living ‘over-the-shop’ with wife Janet plus two adult daughters, one of whom was a clerk at a draper’s shop, perhaps for Reeds next door – it was just Charles name over the door by the outbreak of World War 2 and it probably remained there until his death in 1957. 

The business continued as Godfreys until the parade’s demise.

7 Burnt Ash Road

Before the outbreak of World War 1, number 7 was a florist – Harriet Walton had taken over the shop after the death of her husband James in 1913.  It was a well-established business that had previously traded round the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace.  By 1930 their son Walter was running the business.

The Waltons sold up by 1935 – they remained in Lewisham for the rest of their lives, Walter was a typist living in Heather Road off Baring Road with his mother in 1939.  The new name over the door was that of Francis Blake a fruiterer; there was little longevity in the ownership though as by 1939 there was a new name– Lee Green Fruit Stores.  The proprietor was Thomas Jamison, or Jameson, (aged 58 in 1939) along with his wife Beatrice (38) and 6 children, 4 of school age and a son who worked in the shop, Alfred.  Thomas died in 1944 but the business carried on until the parade was demolished – if it stayed in the family, it may well have been Alfred running it until the early 1960s.

9 Burnt Ash Road

In the first part of the story of the parade it was noted that number 9 was one of those retail rarities, a shop that stayed in the same trade throughout its life – that of a butcher.  Frederick Head from Christchurch in Surrey had been there since around 1900, he remained there throughout the First World War and beyond.

By around 1925, Frederick sold up to Grace Mary Plummer. Grace Mary Plummer probably lived in Beckenham as there was someone there of that name in 1939, although listed as carrying out unpaid domestic duties rather than being in the meat trade.  She died in 1976 with an estate of around £70k.  This may not even be the same person, but nothing else is obvious from online searches.  However, it was her name above the window until the wrecking ball destroyed the terrace.

11 Burnt Ash Road

Like its next-door neighbour at number 9, 11 remained in the same trade for the entire period after World War 1, a fishmonger.

While Sparks Bros. had been running the business before World War 1, by 1920 Thomas Butler was selling fish, replaced by James Delliston in the early 1930s.  Delliston seems to have sold up to Mac Fisheries before the war and was still a fishmonger living in Tressillian Road in the 1939 Register.

Mac Fisheries started as a vanity project of Lord Leverhulme of detergents fame, who bought initially the Scottish Isle of Lewis and then part of Harris after a boat trip in the Western Islands.  His plan was to develop a fish-based industry and as part of this he started buying up independent fishmongers throughout Britain, rebranding them Mac Fisheries from just before World War 1. Lever Brothers got rid of the fish processing elements of the business after Lord Leverhulme’s death in the 1920s.  The chain, and no doubt the shop on Burnt Ash Road, benefited during the World War 2 when fish, unlike meat, wasn’t rationed.  Elsewhere Mac Fisheries expanded into other aspects of food sales but the small footprint of the shop at Lee Green probably prevented this.  They were to remain at No 11 until the parade was demolished though.

13 Burnt Ash Road

Before World War 1, the chain Hudson Brothers was running a grocery and provisions business.  They remained there until the early 1920s when name over the grocery changed to William Cullen, who also had a shop close to the railway bridge near Lee Station where he combined a grocers with a Post Office.

The expansion by William Cullen was a short term one as he’d retreated back to the Post Office by 1935 and the shop appears to have been empty during much of the 1930s, something of a rarity on the parade, as was the case over the road.

No one was living there when the 1939 Register was collected as World War 2 started, although a draper Mrs Fenn had opened a shop by 1940.  It was a business didn’t last the war out, as Morgan Brushes, a brush manufacturer had their name painted over the window by VE Day – hopefully using one of their brushes, they lasted into the 1950s.  Robert Lyas, a fruiterer, seems to have been the last business to operate before the parade was lost to the Leegate Centre development.

15 Burnt Ash Road

At the outbreak of World War 1, we’d left number 15 split – 15 was a confectioner’s and 15a was a dyers and cleaners trading as Chambers and Co. – that was still the case in 1920.  The confectioner’s remained too but it was now Amelia Fairburn in charge.

By 1930 Amelia Fairburn had moved on replaced by a Mrs Monk at the confectioners; by 1935 Alice Watkins was there, but her tenure was a short one as Daisy Gadd was running the shop by the outbreak of World War 2. She lived there with her Lighterman husband George (42) and a couple of lodgers.  

Despite the difficulties that wartime rationing will have caused her business, she continued until the 1950s when John Cawthorne took over the business until the end of the parade.

In the mid-1920s and early 1930s, 15a was briefly home to a blouse maker, Madame Iris. It then saw an extension from 17 of Walter Taylor’s photographic business.  After this it returned to being a dyers and cleaners – initially named after the Georgian dandy and socialite, Beau Brummell, who had no obvious links to Lee.  By the end of the war it had taken the name Zip French Cleaners, which it retained until the demolition of the parade.

17 Burnt Ash Road

Like several shops at this end of the parade, 17 was split into two. By the middle of World War 1 and into the interwar years John Allibone, a boot repairer from Northampton was trading at 17a, he’d been based on the Old Kent Road in the 1911 census.  It was a business that lasted there until the late 1920s. 

The partial shop front at 17a was taken over by a Corn Merchant’s business trading as William George Sweet, which was to stay at 17a until the wrecking ball arrived. It seems William George Sweet grew up in Prospect Terrace in the north eastern quadrant of Lee Green and had a long standing Corn Merchant’s shop in Brightfield Road from around 1881.  He died in 1915 so it can be assumed that the family business was continued in his name from around 1930 at 17a. What is slightly odd about this business is that Corn Dealers were a business type that had generally died out during the inter-war period with the switch from horse to the increased horse-power of the internal combustion engine.

After being empty during World War One, the other half of the shop, 17, was taken over by Photographic dealer Walter Taylor by 1925, who expanded into 15a by 1930.  He’d gone by 1935, with the tenure on the shop front taken over by a hairdresser trading as ‘Lydia’ which was to remain on the parade until its end. The person behind the name in 1939, at least, was Gladys Hardine, later Horton.  She lived until 2004, so may well have had the business for 40 years.  

19 Burnt Ash Road

At the beginning of World War 1, George Neal had been running a saddler’s at 19, the business seems to have continued until around his death in 1921. After that, the business carried on at 19 reverted to a previous one, cycle sales and repairs run by Reginald George Littlewood  However, there was competition from F A Lycett in Lee Road, who eventually moved to 30 Burnt Ash Road, this may have caused Reginald to change business to wireless supplies by 1935 (pictured on the sign in the photograph above). By 1940 the shop was empty through.

Post-World War Two, the name over the window was Sentinel Products, what the products sold were isn’t clear though, possibly it was a locksmith.  They had been replaced by Frank Sutherland by 1950, but it isn’t clear what he was a purveyor of though – it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as a ‘Miscellaneous Dealer.’ Frank was there when the parade closed in the early 1960s.

_

We’ll cover the Leegate Centre (pictured above in 2016) at some stage in the future – although we’ll look at the shops on Eltham Road before we do that. However, what is interesting at 1-19 Burnt Ash Road is that after World War 1, while there were significant changes going on over the road there was much more stability here – while some names changed, the traditional shops remained – the fishmonger, butcher, fruiterer, wine and spirit merchant, confectioner and women’s hairdresser. 

The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark and Lewisham Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1896.

Pictures and Other Credits

  • All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright

1-19 Burnt Ash Road – Shopping Before the Leegate Centre, Part 1

A while ago we looked at the shopping parade of 2-30 Burnt Ash Road, from its development in the late 19th century, to its loss to Penfolds and later Sainsburys.  We now cross over the road to look at the shops on the other side of the road, that were eventually lost to Leegate Centre (pictured from 2016).

While the 1863 surveyed Ordnance Survey map still showed Lee Green Farm (pictured below), its days were numbered – its last farmer, Richard Morris, had, or was about to move, on to Blackfen. His father, William, had leased land from the Crown Estate for several decades, before moving on to College Farm at the highest point on Burnt Ash Hill where he died in 1851.

The developer of the south eastern quadrant of Lee Green, where the farm buildings still sat in 1863, was a name that will be familiar – John Pound, who developed much of Grove Park and south Lee. Work seems to have been completed around 1866 – there were shops at Orchard Terrace on Eltham Road and houses in Crown Terrace on Burnt Ash Road (then called Lane). The Orchard relating to the previous land use and the Crown, the landowner. Burnt Ash Lane/Road was the boundary between the lands of the Crown to the east, which had been part of the estates of Eltham Palace, and the Northbrook estate to the west

The houses were terraced and much smaller than those opposite which were built a few years earlier and were also to become shops.  In the 1871 census, the lower numbers near Lee Green tended to be working class and manual occupations, slightly wealthier further south included articled clerk, solicitor’s clerk but nothing that grand – certainly compared with original occupants over the road.  Little had changed a decade later although there had been a gradual shift to multiple households living in the houses – for example there were four households at 2 Crown Terrace. 

The conversion from houses to shops started to happen in the 1890s.  In the 1891 census all the buildings seem to have been residential but by 1894 well over half the group now had shop fronts and a couple of years later all of them were retail outlets.  We’ll look at them in turn – focussing on, in this first part of the story, on the period up to World War One.

The numbering changed a little in that the building on the corner was originally part of Eltham Road, but that changed with the building of a bank around 1911.  To avoid confusion, as far as possible the numbering referred to will be that from the Edwardian era onwards.

Bank House

While the rest of the Parade dated from the 1860s the Bank was much later – probably built around 1906. It seems that what was once 2 and 4 Eltham Road was redeveloped at that point, it was a building  listed in both Eltham Road and Burnt Ash Roads in Kelly’s Directories, its manager in 1911 was Harry Kitto.

Clock House

Like Bank Buildings, the part of the parade known as the Clock House dates from around 1906, presumably part of a redevelopment of that south eastern corner of Lee Green.  It was so called because of the clock that its first occupant advertising his trade – Robert Fielding, a watchmaker. Fielding was 61 and in 1911 was living in one of the larger houses on Lee High Road with his wife, Georgina, a servant and two adult daughters, one of whom assisted in the shop.  Before his move to Clock House, he had been at 141 Lee Road, next but one to Osborn Terrace for around a decade before.

It was a business that had run in the family – his father had been a jeweller and watchmaker but had died young and the business was taken over by his mother in Montpelier Vale in Blackheath, probably from the late 1850s.  

The Clock House seems to have been shared with Horace L Murray Shirreff’s Electron Cycle Co (see 7 below) until around 1916 but no one else is mentioned after then so presumably Robert Fielding used the whole shopfront.

1a Burnt Ash Road

This seems to have remained a house much longer than the rest, possibly also acting as a base for a business.  From 1871 it is listed at the home of G Bush and Sons Builders, run by George Bush – it may have been the case that he had been the builder of Crown Terrace for John Pound.  There were 6 children there with George in 1871, and a decade later he is noted as ‘employing about 35 men.’ His daughter was a drapers’ assistant, perhaps from George Gooding over the road. George Bush died in 1902 and the business was continued by his son who lived in Elswick Road in 1891, listed as a stone mason.  The business continued during the decade of George’s (Senior) death, but the shop front was empty by 1911.

1a was referred to before and after World War 1 but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of  CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers.  They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.

1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road

Number one was first mentioned in 1896 with a name that this corner of Burnt Ash Road and Eltham Road became synonymous with – Reeds, for years it was often referred to as ‘Reed’s Corner.’  The ‘Reed’ initially referred to C H Reed & Co and the C H Reed was Charles Henry Reed.  He has been born in 1839 in North Cornwall, having moved to Lee Green in 1866

By 1871 Charles Henry, was living at the next parade along, Eastbourne Terrace, with his wife Maria (probably nee Nichols), also from Cornwall; there was also a niece and 12 employees. Whether all employees these actually lived on the premises was debatable, a decade later, there were two different nieces and 49 staff. By 1881 he had a trio of shops on trading as a draper, furnisher and ironmonger. 

No longer there in 1881 though was Charles wife, Maria, she was living in Forest Hill with Charles William, born in 1873, sometimes referred to as William, along with a daughter Maria (seemingly later referred to as Beatrice, 1875) and Ernest (1881). Whether they were separated or not it wasn’t clear, but the position was the same in 1891, with 63 listed as living at Eastbourne Terrace, and Maria in Brockley.

The inclusion of 1 and 3 Burnt Ash Road into Charles Reed’s empire came in the mid-1890s – it was the furnishing element of the business that was moved around the corner from Eltham Road.  Charles died in July 1895 shortly after the expansion.  The net effects of his will were £28,117 – a very significant amount of money in 1895, both his son Charles William Reed and an Alfred John Reed (given other recording errors this may well be Ernest) seem to have been the main beneficiaries.  There was no mention of Maria, although a two-year-old Thomas Battyll Hodson, a two-year-old with no obvious connection to the Reeds was though.

(Charles) William continued to run the shops for a decade after his father’s death but sold them to Griffiths & Co.  around 1905, it was a name that dominated the south east quadrant of Lee Green for the next 20 years or so.

5 Burnt Ash Road

The first shop-front type of business operating out of 5 was the boot and shoemaker Josiah Tylor who was there from the mid-1890s.  The shop was doing well enough by 1901 to have a manager Thomas Wisdom, who was there with his wife Maude and a young son and sister in law.  Nothing is known of the owner whose name stayed over the door until around 1905.

It seems to have been very briefly an auctioneer around 1907 (1), a firm called Bell and Rainer trading as Lee Green Auction Rooms.  However, other than a few press reports that year they didn’t leave much of a trace.   It was the base of Barnes Brothers who were builders’ merchants by 1911 although it no one was living there when the census enumerators called that year.

7 Burnt Ash Road

In its early years it went through several names on the shop front – in 1894 it was W J Tournour, a house furnisher, followed in 1896 by George Lewis, a draper, and then Walter Woolverton, another draper in 1900.  All will have had competition from shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further down the parade which may explain their lack of longevity.   George Lewis seems to have suffered the ignominy of having his stock sold at ‘prices considerably below cost’ by Reed’s, still in Eltham Road at that point, in September 1897 (2). 

By 1898 the name above the door was the Electron Cycle company who manufactured bicycles.  The name behind the branding was Horace L Murray-Shirreff. Along with his wife Mahala, the family came from Uxbridge where their son was born in 1896.   They had moved to Lee Green by the spring of 1898 as his machines were twice ridden to victory at the Sportsbank Street Velodrome in Catford  (pictured below) over the Easter Bank Holiday, once by Horace himself (3). Electron had moved on within the parade by 1911 as they were listed within the Clock House (see above) in the Kelly’s Directory.  The sojourn at the Clock House was probably a short one as in the 1911 he’d moved to Staines and was listed as an inn keeper in the 1911 census.

By 1911 James Walton was trading at number 7 as a florist; he had had a business just around the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace in previous censuses, listed variously as a florist and nurseryman.  In 1911 he was there with his second wife, Harriet and three children, two of whom helped in the shop.  James died in 1913 aged around 79, but the business stayed in the family initially in the name of Harriet running it as war broke out. 

9 Burnt Ash Road

Number nine was a rarity in that throughout its life as a shop it was to stay in the same trade – a butchers, there were also only three different names over the window in its 65-year life.  The first of these was the shortest lived, Colonial Meat Stores, who operated there in the mid-1890s, which seemed to be a single shop rather than any form of chain. 

Frederick Head was there by the turn of the century and in 1901 was 47, he hailed from Christchurch in Surrey, and was there with his wife, Martha 47 and 5 children of mixture of ages who were all born in Kings Lynn there as was a servant employed by them. The two eldest sons were both helping in the shop.  By 1911 the rest of the family had moved on, but Frederick and Martha were still running the business.

11 Burnt Ash Road

Like its next door neighbour at number 9, 11 was almost a single trade, a fishmonger, although there were a few more names over the window.  The ‘almost’ is because the initial traders, Green and Co, started life as a fruiterer around 1896 but by 1900 was trading as a fishmonger.  Perhaps they couldn’t cope with the competition from the already established M J Martin over the road who was a fruiterer and florist. There was though a lack of fishmonger though, on both sides of Burnt Ash Road, so Green and Co adapted to meet a gap in the market.

Who Green & Co were isn’t clear, certainly in 1901 the shop was managed by Surrey man E M Mankleton along his wife, mother, four children and a lodger who worked in the shop.

There was a new name over the window by 1911, Sparks Bros. In the census that year Frank Sparks was the fishmonger, the fishmonger’s wife was Sarah and Henry, the brother in the ‘Bros.’ were also there. 

13 Burnt Ash Road

Hudson Brothers were a chain of provisions dealers, that existed from the 1870s, they were based in Ludgate Hill and had a dozen or so stores in and around central London, many close to stations.  They also had a few in the then suburbs like Lee Green by the mid-1890s, where the shop opened around 1894.  They were to remain on the parade until the early 1920s. They refurbished the shop in 1908 as the advert to the left shows (4).

15 Burnt Ash Road

This was another shop that started life as a draper’s shop, initially Thomas & Co from around 1896, but by the turn of the century W Sanders Pepper (40), along with his wife Ella (37) who both hailed from Northamptonshire, they had arrived via Battersea where two of their children born.  A shop assistant and a servant were also part of the household in 1901.

Around the end of the first decade of the century the Peppers moved on, possibly struggling with competition from drapers shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further up the parade.  

The new name at the front by 1911 was Ethel Higgins who was a confectioner; there had been one next door, but it had closed a year or two before.  Ethel was a widow from Greenwich and lived there with her daughter.  Whilst names changed periodically it was a business type that remained until the end of the parade, by 1916 Elizbeth Stevens was running the confectioner’s shop.

Around 1911 the shop front seems to have been ‘split’ and 15a appeared – the dyers and cleaners, Chambers and Co.

17 Burnt Ash Road

17 started its life as a shop around 1896 as a stationer’s run by Thomas James Watts; it wasn’t a business to last long though.  By 1900 Annie Palmer had taken over the shop but changed the business to a confectioner, she was a widow who a decade before had been living in nearby Wantage Road. By 1905 her husband Samuel Evans Palmer was running the business, she died in 1908, and Samuel had gone by 1911 and was a Peckham based ‘Coffee House Keeper’ by then – whether this was a temperance one like one in Lee High Road isn’t clear.

By the census in 1911 Flora May Phillips, a tailoress from Bromley was there on her own, although the name over the window was Frederick May. 

Like number 15, the arrival of a confectioner saw the shop split into two – dressmakers Mabel and Eleanor Harkness, there in 1900.  Empty in 1905, Florence Wood, a milliner, was trading from there in 1911. 

19 Burnt Ash Road

The first shop at 19 opened around 1896, a Wine and Spirit merchants run by Cockle & Sons.  It didn’t last long and neither did the next tenant the Electron Cycle Co.; as we’ve seen Horace L Murray Shirreff’s business popped up in three locations on the parade in little more than a decade.

The next name over the window was that of Neal and Son, who were there by 1905.  It was a trade that reflected the era, saddlers, and will have complemented William Brown’s corn dealers over the road who sold the feed for the horses.  George Neal had been born in 1871 to a family in the same business and operated in Prospect Terrace next to the New Tiger’s Head, like William Sweet at 17a.  George was in ‘Son’ in Sons.  George was operating in Turner Road (now Dacre Park) in 1901 and moved back to Lee Green by 1911 where he was to continue at the southern end of the parade until around his death in 1921.

The parade will be returned to after World War One, when the second part of the story will take it to the stage that the bulldozers moved in ahead of the construction of the Leegate Centre. 

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 1896 along with census records before that.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 29 November 1907
  2. Kentish Mercury 24 September 1897
  3. West Middlesex Gazette 16 April 1898
  4. Kentish Mercury 2 October 1908

Pictures and Other Credits

  • All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark Archives
  • The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
  • The photograph of the Velodrome is via eBay in February 2016
  • The picture of the farm is from the information board at Lee Green

Beating the Bounds of Lee, Part 8 – Blackheath to Lee Green

We’d started our circuit of Lee at Lee Green during the first 2020 Coronavirus lockdown and the last leg from Blackheath to Lee Green was under the not dissimilar conditions of lockdown 2.0 in the late autumn of 2020. In the intervening months, Running Past followed the long thin boundary of Victorian Lee just before it was subsumed into Lewisham in 1900. The navigation was aided by an 1893 surveyed Ordnance Survey map.

This circuit has been in seven stages up to this point, from Lee Green to Winn Road, passing a street whose residents probably now wish it had a different name – Corona Road; the next stage was through Grove Park; then on through Marvels and Elmstead Woods; the circuit skirted Chinbrook Meadows and followed the appropriately named stream Border Ditch; then another Ditch, Hither Green Ditch, more or less parallel to Verdant Lane and Manor Lane before following the Quaggy from Longhurst Road into Lewisham, then in the penultimate part following a Quaggy tributary, Upper Kid Brook to Blackheath.

We’d left the boundary at a T junction of borders, Lee – Lewisham – Charlton with a replacement of a 1903 boundary marker of a similar style to those seen in several places around the border.

Source – eBay (Sept 2016)

The stone is next to the railway bridge and it is worth a quick turnaround by the first turning on the left, or would have been in 1893. A large Methodist chapel had been built in the mid-1860s and dominated the Blackheath Village skyline and was to do so for another 52 years until a V-2 rocket attack hit it in March 1945.

The turning is Bennett Park, which has one of biggest concentrations of blue plaques in south east London – the Physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington lived at number 4 – he was listed as a boarder there in the 1911 census, whilst working at the Royal Observatory. The cartoonist Donald McGill, lived at 5 Bennett Park – he was there when the 1939 Register was compiled. But, perhaps, the most significant is one at the far end for the GPO Film Unit, whose output included the wonderful film adaptation of W H Auden’s Night Mail, which featured a score by Benjamin Britten. The Film Unit also produced some World War Two propaganda films. The building had been partially funded by one the main benefactors of late Victorian Blackheath, William Webster, son of the eponymous main contractor of Joseph Bazlegette, as Blackheath Art Club.

Onwards and southwards, the boundary goes upwards and out of the valley of Upper Kid Brook towards the watershed with the adjacent Brook in the trio of Kid Brooks, Mid Kid Brook. Straddling the catchments is a pair of elegant buildings at the top of the hill – the Conservatoire of Music and Blackheath Concert Halls, again in part the paid for built by William Webster. Both were a few years away in 1893 though, there was a terrace of houses there at that stage. The Concert Halls, resplendent with some lovely pargeting, were to be the location of a badly disrupted suffragette meeting in 1909.

Lee Road, which we follow to Lee Green and the end of our circuit, had been farmland on the western side until 1835 (1) – this was a little later at the Lee Green end which in some years was the home to the annual horse racing of Lee Races. The eastern side, part of the Cator Estate, had seen some development from a couple of decades earlier. We won’t look at much of the housing here in any detail as Neil Rhind’s meticulously researched Blackheath Village and Environs Volumes 2 &3 cover this.

By 1893 though, this was wealthy suburbia and there was still farmland to the west. In the period since, the mix of housing has changed considerably – the area around corner of the Lee Road and Blackheath Park (pictured above from early in the 20th century) is perhaps, typical of them – with Victorian housing replaced by Span housing of which there are lots examples dotted around the Cator Estate (pictured from a similar location in 2020).

The Charlton – Lee boundary continued, unmarked, along the centre of Lee Road in 1893; on the western side the view would probably have been dominated by the Christ Church on Lee Park. The area had once been part of the parish of St Margaret’s but the burgeoning population saw the parish split several ways, Christ Church (pictured below from Lee Park) being the first to be carved out in the 1850s. It lasted until ten days into the Blitz when Luftwaffe bombs destroyed most of it with the remaining parts demolished before the end of the war.

The church wasn’t the only part of the urban landscape to suffer during the war. There was damage of sufficient volume for there to be two small estates of prefab bungalows – Lee Road Bungalows just to the north of what is now Heathlee Road and River Close, which was opposite Manor Way. The section between them and onwards to the south was re-developed in the 1960s. The postcard below shows the street scene in that part of Lee Road in the early 20th century looking towards Blackheath – the boundary going down the middle of the road.

Just to the north of Manor Way, there was another T junction of boundaries – Lee remained constant but on the eastern side Charlton became Kidbrooke. The 1893 Ordnance Survey map noted a boundary stone, but this alas is no longer there. The Charlton – Kidbrooke boundary had followed Mid Kid Brook through the Cator Estate. The Brook’s original course would have been across Lee Road but during the 18th century it was diverted down Lee Road, it is currently culverted.

The was very little bomb damage on the eastern side of the boundary beyond Manor Way, with most of the houses that would have been there in 1893 remaining. One of the original houses was taken over as Lee Workingmen’s Club at 113 -115 Lee Road in the 1920s, the Club (pictured above) closed this century and is now a nursery . The Lee Constitutional Club was two doors down but arrived just too late to quench the thirst of the Ordnance Survey cartographers.

The 1863 and 2020 boundary continues down the middle of the road, now with Greenwich rather than Kidbrooke. Like the streetlights, bins, paving, white lines and tarmac colours that have become informal boundary markers, Lee Road has another variant – a small island in the road.

About a hundred metres on, we reach the Quaggy – another three way boundary in 1893 with Eltham replacing Kidbrooke. There is another boundary marker by the bridge over the Quaggy, its a defaced one of a similar style to that at the beginning of this section – rumour has it that the places were hacked out so as not to offer any help to German troops in the event of an invasion. There is though a better boundary marker almost below it though; by the outflow of the culverted Mid Kid Brook which as it joins the Quaggy is another Lewisham Natureman stag. This is the final one in the quartet of stags we have spotted on or close to the Lee boundary, so it seems an appropriate place to finish the circuit.

Notes

  1. Neil Rhind (forthcoming) Blackheath and Its Environs Volume 3

The Postcards are via eBay from 2016, apart from the one of Christ Church which is from a couple of years before.

Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)

This, and the rest of the series of posts on the Lee boundary, 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, Part 7- Lewisham to Blackheath

During the first 2020 Coronavirus lockdown Running Past followed the long thin boundary of Victorian Lee before it was subsumed into Lewisham, aided only by a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map. This was in stages, from Lee Green to Winn Road, appropriately passing Corona Road en route; the next through Grove Park; then on through Marvels and Elmstead Woods and a Borough of Deptford Cemetery; the circuit skirted Chinbrook Meadows and followed the appropriately named stream Border Ditch; then another Ditch, Hither Green Ditch, more or less parallel to Verdant Lane and Manor Lane before following the Quaggy from Longhurst Road into Lewisham.

We’d left the 1893 boundary by St Stephens Church in Lewisham where the Quaggy is, or more likely was joined by Upper Kid Brook. When the stream was followed a few years back from its source around Hervey Road, on the lower slopes of Shooters Hill, there seemed no obvious evidence of flows coming into the Quaggy. The position was different in 1893 though, as we shall see.

The view looking towards St Stephens from what was captured in a postcard from slightly, although not much later; at the stage there were two confluences of the Quaggy and the Ravensbourne, the pictured Lewisham Bridge (an area a little later known as the Obelisk) and Plough Bridge by the former eponymous pub.

Even though Upper Kid Brook has disappeared from view, the course of the boundary and river is obvious from the valley. The valley though is not the shape that it had been until the 1840s as the North Kent Line, which opened in 1849 effectively stole the valley, deepening it in places.

There used to be a boundary marker on the curb on the northern side of St Stephen’s Grove, but it seems to have been lost at some stage. There is a slight dip in Lockmead Road, the remains of the fluvial erosion from the Brook, before the boundary hugs the rear fences of Cressingham Road, a boundary in terms of land ownership too. The Lee-Lewisham border comes out into 2020 public space in a relatively new development at the top of Cressingham Road. Looking towards the Brook and boundary from the railway underpass is a variation on a recurring theme from the circuit of Lee – a Lewisham Natureman stag.

In 1893, on the site of the new housing, was a small lake, the Brook was dammed to create it. The lake was at the end of the grounds of one of the large houses of Lee, Belmont, which gave its name to the Hill. it is mapped below. The house was built for the architect George Ledwell Taylor around 1830, when there would have been clear views to the dockyards of Deptford, where he worked for the Navy.

With the city encroaching and the railway passing, the large house ceased to be as desirable and was sold for the development of what turned out to be some of the most elegant Edwardian housing in Lewisham.

The Brook, and the Lewisham – Lee boundary drifted slightly to the north after he grounds of Belmont. By 1893 this was on the northern side of the railway around the end of what is now Belmont Grove. The railway is in a cutting within the valley, the pre-1849 level Brook and boundary would have been roughly at current road levels.

The railway had split the grounds of another of the large mansions of Lee, the Cedars – home in 1893 at to Ellen Penn, the widow of John Penn the eminent marine engineer. The northern portion of grounds had been laid out in the late 18th century for the then owner, Samuel Brandram, by the architect George Gwilt (1), who dammed Upper Kid Brook to form a pair of ornamental lakes, big enough for boating. Brandram was a paint and chemicals manufacturer and merchant whose large business was based in Rotherhithe.

The lakes were filled in by the next owners, Penfold’s whose carting business was to fill them with rubbish before selling the site on for housing development in the 1980s, now known as St Joseph’s Vale.

The boundary and Brook crossed Love Lane, now Heath Lane – part of an ancient path from Lee High Road to the Heath. In 1893, this area was still fields, with several boundary markers indicating on the ground the now hidden Brook. It wasn’t fields for long – within around 200 metres the fields turned to railway sidings, which extended another 600 metres up to the station, including the current car park.

The hidden street and boundary largely skirted the sidings – cutting across the late 1970s council housing of Nesbit Close and around the top of the current Perks Close. The Nesbit is E Nesbit who lived in various Lewisham locations, including a Blackheath home around half a mile away. Perks, of course, is a reference to Stationmaster of the Railway Children, played by Bernard Cribbins.

The boundary followed the edge of what is now Baizdon Road and then what is and was Collins Street. The former was named after a Blackheath miller, the latter after two mid 19th century Lee residents – Ann and Julia Collins (2). At the far end of Collins Street a boundary marker remains on a wall – the fence next to it seems to be the actual location of the Lee – Lewisham boundary.

The boundary continues following the building line to Blackheath Village; there was a three way boundary here Lee – Lewisham – Charlton. We’ll stop the circuit for now at a boundary marker, a replacement for one from 1903, when it would have been a Greenwich – Lewisham one.

Notes

  1. Neil Rhind (forthcoming) Blackheath and Its Environs Volume 3
  2. Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names and Their Origins In the corner of the latter into the centre of Blackheath. – the area

The 1893 map which is used twice is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial licence.

The Postcards are via eBay from 2016

This, and the rest of the series of posts on the Lee boundary, 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.