A Walk through Hither Green’s History

Hither Green has a rich and interesting history; this post was written to ‘accompany’ a walk organised as part of the 2018 Hither Green Festival, it can be used to independently to walk the route (its a circuit of around 1.8 miles) or as virtual tour of the area.  The ‘walk’ is divided into sections which relate to the planned stopping points – each of which is full of links to other posts in the blog which will have more detailed information.

Starting Point – Before the Railway

Hither Green station is the perfect place to start the walk as the railway ‘made’ the area.  At the time of the railway arrived in Hither Green in the 1860s, it didn’t stop – it was to be a junction until the mid 1890s.  When the South Eastern Railway navvies constructed the embankment and cutting through the area, Hither Green was largely rural, surrounded by farms as the map below shows – the farms including several covered by Running Past – North Park, Burnt Ash and Lee Green.

Hither Green Lane was there with several large houses but the main population centres were outside the area – the elongated Lewisham stretching all the way along what is now the High Street and Rushey Green, the three parts of Lee – Lee Green, the area around the church and Old Road, the latter with the Manor House and the farm and servants housing of Lee New Town.

While Hither Green remained a junction until the 1890s, the edges that were closer to other stations started to be developed – for example Courthill Road started to be developed from 1867, Ennersdale Road during the 1870s.  Then roads like Brightside, Mallet and Elthruda were developed in the late 1870s and early 1880s.  Everything changed with the opening of Hither Green Station on 1 June 1895 – the area lost its rural feel, most of the remaining large houses were sold and the Victorian and Edwardian houses and ‘villas’ built.

The Prime Meridian is crossed and marked in the pedestrian tunnel at Hither Green station, most of the walk will be in the western hemisphere..

Springbank Road & Nightingale Grove

A V-1 attack on devastated the area on the western side of the station on 29 July 1944 killing five  and destroying a significant number of homes, as the photograph (below) from the now closed ramp up to Platform 1 shows. It was one of 115 V-1 rocket attacks on Lewisham that summer – the most devastating had been the previous day when 51 had died in Lewisham High Street. Soon after the war nine prefab bungalows were put on the site; with the council bungalows probably appearing in the early 1960s.  The Beaver Housing Society homes on the corner of Nightingale Grove and Ardmere Road also replaced some of the homes destroyed – there are glazed tiles naming the landlord which is now part of L & Q Group.

© IWM Imperial War Museum on a Non Commercial Licence

Ardmere Road was built in the 1870s but was considered one of the poorest in the neighbourhood by Charles Booth’s researcher Ernest Alves in 1899 – he described it as one of the ‘fuller streets, shoddy building, two families the rule.’ It was marked blue – one up from the lowest class.

The area was looked unfinished to Alves and there was even a costermonger living in a tiny tin shack with their donkey on the unfinished Brightside Road in 1899, along with a temporary tin tabernacle. This immediate area was very poor and in ‘chronic want’ compared with the comfortable middle class housing of much of the rest of the area.

Hither Green Community Garden

The Community Garden dates from 2010 – cleared and maintained by volunteers from Hither Green Community Association.

North Park Farm

The Community Garden would have been part of the farmyard for North Park Farm.  It was latterly farmed by the Sheppards, although the land was owned by the Earls of St Germans until the sale to Cameron Corbett in 1895 – there are already posts on both the farm itself and in the early days of the development.

There were two Sheppard brothers both of whom had houses – one of the farm houses remains at the junction of Hither Green Lane and  Duncrievie Roads (see above) – along with their long term farm manager William Fry, who lived in the original farm building around the Community Garden..

The shops (see below) were developed by Corbett early in the development – there was no pub as Corbett was a strict teetotaller. There was a beer house (licenced to sell beer bu not wines or spirits) nearer the station in area demolished by the V-1.

There was a small stream which I have called North Park Ditch which ran through the farm – it is visible in the Hither Green Nature Reserve and was a tributary of Hither Green Ditch, which joins the Quaggy between Manor Lane and Longhurst Road.

The Old Station

The original entrance to the station was where Saravia Court , a block of housing association flats built around 2013, is now situated – it is named after the original name for Springbank Road.  The station buildings lasted until around 1974, when the booking hall was moved to its current location at platform 4½.  The site was used by timber merchants for many years.

The only remnants of the former station are the stationmaster’s house, 69 Springbank Road and the gate pillars to the former station entrance

Park Fever Hospital

This was the site of two of Hither Green’s larger houses – Hither Green Lodge and Wilderness House, these were sold to a private developer in the early 1890s and then onto the Metropolitan Board of Works who built the hospital after much local opposition.

Despite the 1896 signs, the hospital opened in 1897, it went through variety of guises including fever, paediatrics, geriatrics in its century of use.  The site was redeveloped for housing after the hospital closed in 1997.  There is a specific post on the the hospital and the housing before and after it in Running Past in early 2018.

Opposite the hospital in Hither Green Lane was the childhood home of Miss Read – she was a popular writer of rural fiction in the mid 20th century, who covered her time there in the first volume of her memoirs.

The Green of Hither Green, the area’s small bit of common land was  at the junction of Hither Green and George Lanes and was enclosed around 1810,

Roughly the same location was the ‘home’ to Rumburgh (other spellings are available) a settlement that seems to have died out as a result of the Black Death in the mid 14th century – this was covered a while ago in the blog.

Park Cinema opened in 1913 with a capacity of 500, it is one of several lost cinemas in the area.  It closed its doors in 1959 and was vacant for  many years  – it has gone through several recent uses including a chandler – Sailsports, a soft play venue Kids’ Korner and latterly another alliteration, Carpet Corner.

Its days seem numbered as a building as after several unsuccessful attempts to demolish and turn into flats – planning permission was granted in September 2017 after an appeal against a refusal by Lewisham Council.

Beacon Road/Hither Green Lane

The Café of Good Hope  is a recent addition to the Hither Green Lane, part of the Jimmy Mizen Foundation –  Jimmy was murdered on Burnt Ash Road on 10 May 2008.  The charity works with schools all over the United Kingdom, where Margaret and Barry Mizen share Jimmy’s story and help young people make their local communities safer, so they can feel safe when walking home.

The Fox and Sons ‘ghost sign’ is next door to the Café.  Ghost signs are painted advertising signs, they are not meant to be permanent – although were to last much longer than their modern day counterparts.  The urban landscape used to be full of them but most have been lost – either to modern advertising, being painted over or the buildings themselves being demolished lost.  There are still quite a few locally – the best local ‘collection’ is around Sandhurst Market at the other end of Corbett estate.  They can be

This was very briefly an off licence, there is a photo of it but it didn’t seem to last long enough to make local directories. There is much more on the brewery behind the ghost sign in a post here.

St. Swithun’s Church

The church building dates from 1904, although the now church hall was used as a church from 1884.  Both were designed by Ernest Newton who also designed the Baring Hall, the original Church of The Good Shepherd and Lochaber Hall.  Gladys Cooper, the actress was baptised here.

Perhaps the biggest surprise with St Swithun’s (pictured above) – is that it is still here.  So many of the local churches were lost in World War Two – the Methodist Church at the junction of Hither Green Lane and Wellmeadow Road, the original church of The Good Shepherd, Christ Church on Lee Park and Holy Trinity on Glenton Road.

Merbury Close

Merbury Close was developed as a sheltered scheme for the elderly in 1986.  Before that it had been a nursery – the last remnant of something that this end of Hither Green had several of  – the best known – run  Lewisham Nursery, run in its later years by Willmott and Chaundy, which finally closed in 1860.

Bullseye or Japes Cottage – (pictured above) was on the corner of Harvard Road and Hither Green Lane – it was the gardener’s cottage for one of the larger houses on Hither Green Lane  – the inappropriately named, in terms of size, Laurel Cottage.

Spotted Cow – one of the older pubs in the area, the name referring to its rural past; it closed around 2007 and was converted into flats by L&Q Housing Trust, the block at the side is the name of one of its former Chairs.

Monument Gardens

From the 1820s to 1940s this was ‘home’ to Camps Hill House, an impressive large house which was built in the 1820s for the brick maker Henry Lee – it is pictured below (source eBay October 2016) .  It was demolished post-war for what initially called the Heather Grove estate.  There is a much fuller history of both the estate and its predecessor in a blog post from 2016.

The monument on the grass is something of a mystery  – it is dated 1721, well before Campshill House was built – it is rumoured to memorial to an animal – it isn’t marked on Victorian Ordnance maps, although seems to have been there from the mid-19th century.

Nightingale Grove

This used to be called Glenview Road and was the location of one of the biggest local losses of life during World War 1 – a large bomb was dropped by a Zeppelin  in the ‘silent’ raid on the night of 19/20 October 1917.   There were 15 deaths, including 10 children, two families were decimated – the Kinsgtons and the Millgates.  The attack was covered in an early post in Running Past, as was its fictional retelling by Henry Williamson, better known for writing ‘Tarka the Otter.’

Hansbury’s (formerly the Sir David Brewster)

One of the more depressing sites (or sights) on the walk is the rapidly decaying former pub, it was once one of half a dozen Hither Green boozers, despite Archibald Cameron Corbett preventing them on the former North Park Farm.  Hither Green now has just one pub, the Station Hotel along with the Park Fever beer and chocolate shop opposite on Staplehurst Road which offers some limited seating.  A 2016 blog post tells the story of the pub.

There was an attempt to build a pub in the late 1870s in Ennersdale Road, however, there were two rival builders and they seemed to expect the magistrates to decide on which one to allow.  In the end neither happened (1).

Dermody Gardens

The path over the railway to here used to be called Hocum Pocum Lane (covered a while ago in Running Past), it can be followed back to St Mary’s and beyond towards Nunhead and continues down the hill over a long established bridge over the Quaggy and then north along Weardale Road to join Lee High Road by Dirty South (formerly the Rose of Lee).  It was renamed Dermody Road after an alcoholic Irish poet in the 1870s – Thomas Dermody (below) is buried at St Mary’s and there is something on his short life here.

Towards Lewisham the street layout evolved in the early 1870, the area was certainly included within the Lewisham Nursery of Wilmott and Chaundy who grew Wisteria amongst other plants, although the name of the road may predate the nursery.  The area beyond this, towards Lewisham, was developed as the College Park Estate in the 1860s.

Manor Park

This was a pig farm before being turned into a park in the 1960s, although it was once of Lewisham’s more neglected parks until a major upgrade in 2007 with Heritage and Environment Agency funding the river was opened up park and the park re-planted to encourage wildlife.   There are Running Past posts on both the Park and the Quaggy at this point.

While going through Manor Park is a pleasant detour – we will only see the backs of the houses of Leaahurst Road.  Large chunks of this end of the street, particularity on the western side were destroyed during World War 2.  The bomb sites were searched extensively during a notorious 1943 child murder investigation – the murderer was Patrick Kingston, a surviving member of the family almost wiped out in the Zeppelin attack.

Leahurst Road was also home to one of Hither Green’s once famous residents – the early Channel swimmer, Hilda ‘Laddie’ Sharp (pictured above).

Staplehurst Road

The Shops were built in the early 20th century, a little later than those in Springbank Road, the dates are marked in several places as one of the original ‘Parades’ – the sign for Station Parade is still there (above the Blue Marlin Fish Bar).  The nature of the shops has changed significantly – although mainly in the period since World War 2.  There is more on this in a blog post, including Hither Green’s Disney store.

The Station Hotel was built by the Dedman family who had previously run both the Old and New Tigers Head pubs at Lee Green and opened around 1907.  It is now Hither Green’s only pub.

The Old Biscuit Factory is a new housing development from around 2013, the site including the building now used by Sainsbury’s was originally a very short-lived cinema, the Globe – which lasted from 1913 until 1915, before being ‘home’ to Chiltonian Biscuits.

The area around Staplehurst Road suffered badly in a World War 1 air raid – two 50 kg and two 100 kg bombs were dropped by German Gotha aircraft and fell close to 187 Leahurst Road, damaging 19 shops and 63 homes, the railway line.  Two soldier lost their lives and six were injured on the evening of 19 May 1918.  Unlike the World War Two attacks, there seems little evidence there now of the bombing.  There was more significant damage and a lot more deaths in Sydenham in the same raid.

World War 2 damage is a little more obvious in Fernhurst Road, there was a small terrace built by the local firm W. J. Scudamore, which was hit by a V-1 rocket in June 1944.  Prefabs were built there immediately after the war, with the present bungalows following in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

If you want to do the walk physically rather than electronically ….

It is about 1.8 miles long and all on footpaths, it seems fine for buggies and wheelchairs apart from one very narrow, steep uneven section on Dermody Road (although it is better on the opposite side of the road).

Toilets – the only ones on the route are in Manor Park, although they are only open when the café is.

Refreshments – several places either side of the station, along with the Café of Good Hope on Hither Green Lane and the Lewisham Arts Café in Manor Park

Public transport (as of May 2018) – there is a bus map here, and rail journey can be planned from here.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 04 October 1879

Picture Credits

  • The postcards and drawing of Campshill House are all from e Bay between January 2015 and January 2018
  • The painting of Japes Cottage is  ©Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, on a non-commercial licence through Art UK
  • The Ordnance Survey map is on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland
  • The photograph of the destruction of Glenview Road in the ‘silent’ Zeppelin raid is on a Creative Commons via Wikipedia
  • The photograph of the Sir David Brewster (Hansbury’s) is from the information boards at Hither Green Station.
  • The picture of Thomas Dermody comes from an information board at St Mary’s church
  • The photographs of Hilda Sharp – left photo source, right photo Times [London, England] 25 Aug. 1928: 14. The Times Digital Archive
Advertisements

Pissarro’s Stream – A Lost Sydenham Watercourse

There is evidence of at least a dozen streams having flowed from the high ground of Sydenham Hill to the River Pool.  Many no longer flow – some victims of changing water tables and spring lines, others lost to Victorian drainage.   Running Past has already covered a couple of these – Adams’ Rill and Wells Park Stream, and over the next few months will cover most of the others.  This post covers a stream to the south of the other two which, as far as I can see, is currently nameless, but will be referred to as Pissarro’s Stream, for reasons that will become obvious as we proceed downhill.

The stream seems to have emerged around the location of what was originally called Horner Grange (above), just east of Charleville Circus. The upward pointing contour lines (streams erode, so notches appear on contours) peter out around the Grange.  Horner Grange was built as home to William Knight who made a fortune diamond mining in South Africa in 1884, and he lived there until his death in 1900 – he was buried at West Norwood Cemetery. After Knight’s death, the house became a hotel and then the freehold was bought by Sydenham High School in 1934.  The Grange remains but its grounds have been heavily built upon by the School and there are no publically visible hints of fluvial activity.

A contour  line notch below the school suggests a route across a small cul-de-sac, The Martins, off Laurie Park Gardens. There is a small depression in the road which is clearly visible.

Just below it, on the stream’s course was the large Westwood House, once home to Henry Littleton – who had made his fortune from Novello’s, the music publisher.  Littleton invited many of the leading lights of classical music of the era to stay and the music room saw performances by both Dvorak and Liszt.

The house had started more modestly around 1720, but there were several ‘water features’ including a small lake, perhaps fed by the Stream – this is visible on the Ordnance Survey map below (on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland) from the 1860s.  The scale had reduced by the time the map was redrawn in 1897 . Westwood House later became the Passmore Edwards Teacher’s Orphanage and was demolished in 1952 to make way for the Lewisham’s Sheenwood council estate.

Just below Sheenwood, the stream comes to one of the more famous artistic views in South London – Pissarro’s painting of The Avenue, Sydenham dating from 1871 (Via Wikipedia on a Creative Commons).  Pissarro was to later note to his son ‘I recall perfectly those multicoloured houses, and the desire that I had at the time to interrupt my journey and make some interesting studies.’ (1)

Pissarro was one of a number of artists who fled France at the beginning of the Franco Prussian War in 1870.  While unlike some of his fellow artists, Pissarro wasn’t at risk of conscription – he carried a Danish passport but left to escape the Prussians in his village of Louveciennes.  He settled in Norwood, close to his mother who had already fled France with other members of her family.

The stream would have flowed around where  Pissarro set up his easel on what was then Sydenham Avenue, now Lawrie Park Avenue, although the stream was almost certainly not visible on the ground at that point in time – it wasn’t marked on the map surveyed in 1863 (see above).

It is often said how little the view has changed, certainly the backdrop of St Bartholomew is still there and the road remains. While the view would have been similar until the 1960s, Dunedin House to the left is still there, but less visible.   The street is now dominated by 1960s or 1970s housing, the mode of transport is much changed and the trees are much bigger even at a similar time of year to the original (see below).

Beyond Pissarro’s view, the stream would have crossed Hall Drive, where there is a perceptible dip, and then dropping a little further to Lawrie Park Road – the hollow is more  distinct there.  The Stream would have flowed close to the site of the home of one of Sydenham’s more famous former residents, the cricketer WG Grace – whose time in South London was celebrated in Running Past around the centenary of his death.

The short-lived Croydon Canal (opened in 1809) and then its successor the London and Croydon Railway will have blocked the passage of the stream.  Whether the stream  was flowing when the former was built at this point is debatable, and if it was, it is unclear as to  whether it was culverted underneath or allowed to drain into the Canal.

Over the railway, Venner Road is crossed by the stream at Tredown Road, the course is clearer from contours than it is on the ground.  Beyond another faint dip on Newlands Park, the ground flattens out into lower Sydenham.  The route, becomes much less clear to follow.  Even the Environment Agency Flood Risk maps which show 100 year surface flow peaks and often indirectly indicate former streams don’t help much here.

However, they show clearly the two possible routes for the stream, either side of a small hill that is obvious from Kent House Road to Kangley Bridge Road.  There are possible routes either side of the knoll.

595134BA-ED3D-4F34-B9CC-41399EA736DB

The northern option around the less than grassy knoll would necessitate crossing Trewsbury Road (picture above – source eBay November 2016) and then passing close to the Kilmore Grove former ghost sign and the home of the author Graham Swift’s father in Fairlawn Park before a confluence with Wells Park Stream around Home Park.

The southerly option would have seen a flow through Alexandra Recreation Ground where there is a very slight dip, through another on the elegant Cator Road Beyond Woodbastwick Road the boundary would have bifurcated from the Indeed, the Environment Agency surface water flood maps, which show 100 year  extremes, and often highlight to course of former or hidden streams suggest potential flows either side of the hillock.

image

There are a couple of southerly options  – Bing maps has a bit of blue indicating a stream through some allotments off Kent House Road – it wasn’t visible either on aerial photographs or marked on Ordnance Survey maps  and despite the warm sun of the late afternoon when I was doing the ‘fieldwork’ no one was visibly tending their vegetables.  Notched contours on Ordnance Survey maps would support this route though, as do some ‘puddle’s on Environment agency map above.  However, as the flows onwards from here would have seen the pre-development contours obliterated by the Beckenham and Penge Brick Works, so any certainty is hard to come by.

The second option would take the stream close to the junction with Kent House Lane and Kent House Road, alongside some other allotments, there is flowing water for around 50 metres to a confluence with the Pool, including a small bridge that carries National Cycle Route 21.  As there is water flowing and any post on a stream is better with an actual fluvial flow this would be my preferred option for the final metres of Pissarro’s Stream.

Notes

  1. Quoted in notes adjacent to painting in Tate Britain’s ‘Impressionists in London, French Artists in Exile (1870-1904)’

Belmont – The House That Named The Hill

Belmont Hill used to be known by a variety of names including Lewisham Lane and Butt Lane (see map below (1)). The present name is taken from a large house that used to be where the elegant Edwardian housing of Caterham and Boyne Roads are now situated.

The house was built for George Ledwell Taylor around 1830. When it was built, ‘Belmont,’ which was on a distinct rise, will have offered fine, uninterrupted views towards London and, a little nearer, in the direction of the Royal Dockyards at Deptford. This was, perhaps, deliberate – he had been appointed Surveyor of Buildings to the Naval Department in 1827; his work estate included Deptford.  It was one of the larger houses in the district – with only the Cedars surpassing it as the 1863, surveyed map below shows (2). One of the Quaggy’s tributaries, Upper Kid Brook was at the foot of the slope, and, not to be undone the neighbours, like the Brandrams at the Cedars almost next door, he too interrupted the flow to create a small lake – at the top of what is now Cressingham Road – marked below (3).

It wasn’t Taylor’s first home in Blackheath – he had designed a quartet of villas on what is now Lee Terrace, almost opposite the church. He lived in one of them for a while – two of the houses were later demolished to make way for William Webster’s massive Wyberton House – indirectly the proceeds of being one of Joseph Bazalgette’s main contractors.

Taylor was made redundant in a series of public expenditure cuts by the Admiralty in 1837. He went into private architectural practice and may well have moved on from Lee soon after. Certainly, he doesn’t seem to have appeared in censuses at Belmont.

When the census enumerators called in both 1851 and 1861 Belmont was home to the Soames family. Frederic was listed as head of household and referred to as a ship owner, he was away from home in the New Forest in 1861.  While listed as a ‘ship owner’ he seems to have been linked to Gilstrap Soames, who were a family of brewers and maltsters.  They had moved from Lee before the 1871 census and were to take over the Wrexham Brewery in 1879; the family were major creditors when it went into liquidation and renamed it as Soames Brewery.  The new company also got into financial difficulties in the 1930s and merged to form the Border Brewery.

The long term occupants of Belmont were the Wainewright family, John (Senior) was referred to as Taxing Master of the High Court of Chancery – a role which seems to have been effectively a High Court judge specialising in costs; it is a role that they seem to be now referred to as Senior Cost Judge.

Each census they seemed to add more servants – by 1891 there were 12, albeit several looking after the elderly John (Senior) who was then 85.  He died in 1893, with his wife, Anne, passing on in 1897. The house didn’t last long after their deaths; the view that no doubt attracted Taylor had been broken by the railway and on the opposite side of the Upper Kid Brook was overlooked by Granville Park (home to the Billinghursts and Smiles households).

The city was expanding, Lewisham (Lee had been lost to local government reorganisation in 1899) and Belmont Hill, close to the station would have been a desirable location. The builders were H & J Taylor, who were the main developer of the larger, both in terms of numbers and size, development of Park Langley estate in Beckenham.  H & J Taylor seem to have been brothers Henry Thomas and John.  The latter had a son who was named John Belmont Taylor, presumably after the estate.  John Belmont and Henry Thomas Taylor were to move into partnership in the late 1920s and lived at Campshill House on Hither Green Lane.

The architect both at Belmont Hill and Park Langley was Reginald C Fry who won the Ideal House Competition, part of the Ideal Home Show for one of the homes in Beckenham in 1911. He appears to have used the Belmont Hill in his entry for the following year’s competition, but without the same success.  Fry lived for a while with his parents in a large house on Belmont Hill, The Elms, which seems to have been between The Cedars and Belmont; he was listed there in the 1901 census.

The area is rightly a conservation area – Lewisham’s Area Appraisal describes the homes as ‘eclectic, exuberant, typically Edwardian houses,’ although the next sentence suggests streets that are ‘characterised by modest terraced and semi-detached two storey villas of largely similar plan and size.’ There are hints of a myriad of architectural styles in the houses – the tiles in the porches are certainly worth pausing to look at.

The entrance into the estate from Belmont Hill is marked by impressive polygonal corner ‘towers’ with weather vanes on the houses on either side of this top end of Boyne Road, the one on the westerly side is particularly well preserved and detailed – the DKF initial remains a mystery though. The house at the junction of Belmont Hill and Lockmead Road, has an “angled, double, two storey bow window surmounted by a ‘bell turret’.”

 

The remnants of the views westwards that no doubt had attracted George Ledwell Taylor still existed in part until early into the current millennium, the once impressive vista is no more though, blocked by the ugly bulk of the police station and the new high rise developments of Lewisham Gateway.

Notes

  1. Source – Wikipedia on a Creative Commons
  2. National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons
  3. National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons

Census & related information come via Find My Past

The Park Fever Hospital – Hither Green’s Former Infirmary

The water tower is one of the more dominant features of Hither Green – it is included in the festival’s logo and a reference point for photos from the air or higher vantage points.  It is one of the remaining parts of one of the bigger Victorian hospitals – which has gone by various names – although was  the Park Fever Hospital for just over half of its existence.  The hospital closed in its centenary year of 1997.

The known history of the site goes back to the Middle Ages – as was covered in one of the early posts in Running Past, part of the site seems to have been covered by a medieval village that was probably wiped out by the Black Death.

The site was home to a pair of large houses, Hither Green Lodge and Wilderness House owned by the Desvignes family (as of the road name) for many years.  The map from the mid 1860s shows (1) that the area had lots of big houses – some of which have already been covered by Running Past such as the inappropriately named Laurel Cottage.  The houses were sold in 1892 to a barrister who seemingly also speculated on land values.

The roots of a hospital were in a Scarlet Fever epidemic in 1892/93, the health system was unprepared and there was a severe shortage of beds.  It was an area overseen by the Metropolitan Asylums Board and five new fever hospitals were planned on the edge of London, including one in Hither Green and the relatively nearby Brook Hospital – covered a while ago in Running Past. Hither Green was still largely rural at the time – the station was not yet open and the neighbouring North Park Farm was still being farmed by the Sheppards.  Cameron Corbett was hovering though and before the new hospital was finished, the farm was sold and early development started.

The site of Hither Green Lodge and Wilderness House, along with some adjoining land, had been bought in 1892 by the barrister Edward Boyle – he sold on to the Metropolitan Board of Works little more than a year later at a £10,000 profit (2).  He also owned the site for the equivalent hospital in Tottenham, St Ann’s.  Questions were later asked by a Board member about the level of profit involved and asked about whether there had been insider knowledge or corruption (3).  It doesn’t seem to have led to any investigation by the Board though.   However, it is just possible that’ given the site’s position on the edge of a developing city, Boyle was just a land speculator.

There was much local opposition to the development of the hospital site at an Enquiry Board (4) – effectively the equivalent of the hearing by Planning Inspectors.  The opposition fell into two main camps with concerns over

  • Spread of disease –one witness who was a doctor noted ‘the erection of a fever hospital may theoretically involve no risk of infection, but practically it does, in my opinion.’ He and none of the other similar witnesses presented no evidence of contamination or disease spreading even from locations where there were existing fever hospitals amidst housing; and
  • Property values falling – there was a lot of speculation about value falling by 25 to 30% if the hospital was built – although there seems to have been no independent advice presented (or at least reported) – there were linked concerns from schools about falling rolls.

The Local Board of Works grudgingly accepted the need in the area, although appears to have suggested a site that is now Oak Cottages adjacent to the cemetery, where there was an existing small hospital (5).

Interestingly they were issues raised by Ernest Alves, Charles Booth’s researcher when putting together the poverty map for the area in 1899.  The ‘walk’ was covered in relation to the Corbett Estate a while ago.  Alves had assumed that the hospital would have had ‘a bad effect on the district.’  The local policeman that he conducted the walk with felt that it hadn’t.

There was a competition for the design of the hospital (pictured above (6)) which was won by Edwin T. Hall, who was design several late 19th and early 20th century hospitals, including Manchester Royal Infirmary; although perhaps the best known surviving building he designed is Liberty & Co. store in London’s West End.   The contractors were Leslie and Co of Kensington – while the tender was for £210,000 it seems that costs escalated during the project and the final bill was £280,000.

It was officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on the afternoon of 12 July 1897 (7).  It was a large hospital with 548 beds and employed 3000 when it was built; quite a lot of the staff lived on site in the early days. (Source for postcard below (8))

As the number of fever cases declined, the hospital was briefly a children’s hospital in the early 20th century before housing war refugees during the First World War.  By the beginning of World War 2 the hospital was controlled by the London County Council before joining the NHS in 1948 under the Lewisham Group Hospital Management Committee, ‘Fever’ was dropped from the name at this point and it was renamed Hither Green Hospital in 1957.

The number of beds reduced during the 1950s to around 500 from a peak of over 600 pre-war.  It was again used as a fever hospital but also for those with skin disorders, tonsil and adenoids operations as well as some strange treatments for whooping cough already covered in Running Past. (Picture source (9))

There was a polio epidemic in the early 1950s and a vaccine did not became available until the mid-1950s and widespread through sugar cubes until the early 1960s.  Hither Green was to specialise in the treatment of the disease and built a hydrotherapy pool.

It evolved into a more general hospital, treating many of the survivors of the 1967 Hither Green rail crash, including a young Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.  From the 1970s it became a largely geriatric and psychiatric hospital but changes in the way in which both groups of patients were dealt with as Care in the Community evolved in the late 1980s.  Part of the hospital was effectively mothballed in the early 1990s and in the centenary year of 1997 the last patients were transferred to Lewisham Hospital.

 

The site was surplus to requirements for the then Lewisham NHS Hospital Trust who saw the development opportunity of the large urban site and secured a series of outline planning permissions from 1996 for housing development of the site before selling on to developers.  Much of it was bought by Bellway, a large developer based in the north-east and contains over 500 homes – now ‘badged’ as Meridian South, so named as the Prime Meridian passes the very southern edge of the site and is marked in a pavement on Woodlands Street – covered a while ago in Running Past.

The housing is generally low rise, particular the earlier development around the edge of the site facing onto George Lane and Stainton Road, with some higher densities and higher buildings in later phases.

 

A few of the buildings close to the George Lane entrance remain – these include  a porter’s lodge, the medical superintendent’s house, an office and discharge and waiting rooms – the latter names still visible.

Notes

  1. Map on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland. http://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453
  2. Woolwich Gazette 02 June 1893
  3. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper 08 December 1895
  4. Woolwich Gazette 02 June 1893
  5. ibid
  6. source e Bay June 2016
  7. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Jul 13, 1897
  8. Source e Bay May 2016
  9. Source e Bay Sept 2016

The Three Schools of the Trinity

The new Trinity School on Taunton Road in Lee has an imposing presence, some suggest it is somewhat overbearing for the location within an area where Victorian terraces predominate.  Whatever, the current architectural merit of the school, the site has an interesting history – it is the third generation of schools to have been on the site – this post explores some of the history of its predecessors which were known as Hedgley Street and Northbrook.

When the Ordnance Survey cartographers surveyed the area in 1863, the site was part of the then extended grounds of the Manor House (1).  The beginnings of the first school were only a few years later – the first on-line mention of it seems to have been granting permission to the local builder John Pound, to ‘erect an infant school in Hedgley Street’ at Lee and Kidbrooke Board of Works meeting in July 1870 (1). John Pound has been covered a couple of times before in Running Past – both in relation to the large number of houses he built around Lee as well as a quartet of pubs.

The land appears to have been given by Lord Northbrook in 1871 (2) and was described as a

Piece of land situate in Hedgley Street, Lee, containing on the south 100 feet, on the north 129 feet, on the west 213 feet and on the east 255 feet or thereabouts ….to be used as a school for the education of the children of labouring and other poor persons of the parish of Lee.

The school itself didn’t open until 1884 (4) and was called Hedgley Street; whether the builder was Pound is unclear, by that stage he had scaled back his operations and was living in Dickens former home in Kent, then home to his daughter and her husband. The Head Teachers of the Junior Schools, either from their opening or certainly very soon after, were a George Bazeley and a Miss Young, with Miss Cripps being Head of the Infant School (5). The Junior School heads were to stay well into the new century. What is presumably the frontage onto Taunton Road is pictured below (6)

Like all the local schools children from Lee, the children from Hedgley Street will have celebrated Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 at The Cedars on Belmont Hill (7).  There was a similar celebration a decade later for the Diamond Jubilee – this time, it acted partially as a fundraiser for a new classroom at the school (8).

Press reports noted a successful inspection visit by Her Majesty’s Inspectors – an early Ofsted – it was noted that at the boys’ school, still under the stewardship of George Bazeley ‘scholars were well behaved and made good progress.’ The girls school the press report noted ‘fully maintained its reputation.’ (9)

The school started to receive London County Council (LCC) funding in 1903 and seems to have changed its name to Northbrook at around this point (10). Coming under the auspices of the LCC, higher standards of accommodation and facilities seem to have been expected. After a surveyors report in early1905, significant works were agreed by LCC Education Committee – including tarmacking the playground, provision of cloakrooms, a new hall, rebuilding offices (11).

However, the school clearly struggled to fund works required of them by the LCC – it had spent over £800 by the spring of the following year but hadn’t done work to heating and other works that would cost in total another £1200 (12).  In the end the governors had to take out a mortgage of £1000 to undertake work required by LCC (13).

During the Blitz the children were evacuated to Ashford in Kent. The boys (Junior) school was completely destroyed in a daytime raid in 1941 (14), while, as the maps  from pre-war and 1950 (15) show, the girls and infants schools survived, they were seriously damaged – marked beyond repair in the case of the Infants School at the rear in the LCC Bomb Damage Maps (16).

The school never re-assembled as a primary school. It was rebuilt as a secondary school, still named Northbrook. It was designed by Covell and Matthews and built by Unit Construction, as the photograph below shows (17).

It was officially opened by Princess Margaret in December 1957, although children had returned in the summer term of 1957 in ‘small numbers’ – a roll of just 151 with 7 teachers and 6 ‘clergy assistants’ when it first re-opened. It was planned to gradually increase numbers to full complement within 2 years. The funding was a mixture of LCC, local funding from churches and from the Diocese (18). The new school, just after completion is pictured below (19); a 6th form block was added in the following decades at the side of the building.

By the mid-1990s, the school was struggling; in 1995 only 5% of students achieved 5 A-C GCSEs – putting inside the bottom 30 schools in the country (20).  Later Ofsted reports  though, suggested some gradual improvement in the years afterwards.

The current school opened in January 2011, one of the many Building Schools for the Future funded programmes of the 1997 – 2010 Labour Government – it was officially opened in June 2011 by the then Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu along with Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander and the Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark.

There had been opposition about the scale of the development, which was much bigger than its predecessor and went up closer to the boundaries, the new building has a 77 per cent increase in building area and a 50 per cent building.  There were also concerns about the effective encroachment of the playground into Manor House Gardens.

 

Notes

  1. http://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453#
  2. 30 July 1870 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  3. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p15
  4. ibid
  5. 01 July 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London
  6. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd op cit, p16
  7. 01 July 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London
  8. 02 July 1897 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  9. 15 March 1901 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  10. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p15
  11. 24 March 1905 Kentish Mercury
  12. 4 May 1906 Kentish Mercury
  13. 18 October 1907 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  14. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p15
  15. The map images are on a Creative Commons Via National Library of Scotland, surveyed in 1914 and 1949 respectively http://maps.nls.uk/view/103313456 http://maps.nls.uk/view/102909226
  16. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, 1939-1945
  17. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p16
  18. ibid, p15
  19. ibid, p17
  20. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, November 21, 1995; pg. 2[S]; Issue 65430.

Thank you to the Reverend Shepherd of the Church of the Good Shepherd and Lewisham Archives for allowing me use the photographs of the bomb damage and temporary church (the three black and white photographs in the middle of the post) – they were part of the booklet noted above.

The New Tiger’s Head – A Lee Green Pub

One of the more depressing sites at the Lee Green crossroads is the slowly decaying New Tiger’s Head; it ought to be a focal point but the decline on such an impressive building was sufficient for the Victorian Society to include it on their 2017 list of 10 most endangered Victorian and Edward buildings – previous local listings have included Ladywell Baths.  Oddly, for such an impressive building, it isn’t nationally listed, even locally listed by Greenwich.

The New Tiger‘s Head started life as a beer shop known as the Tiger Tavern in the 1830s – it was a name that, off and on, it retained into the early 20th century. It was at the western end of a group of four cottages known as Prospect Terrace which were built at around the same time and had the same ownership. These cottages remain, housing a post office/newsagent and a hairdresser’s.  To confuse matters, it was partially on the site of its near neighbour the (Old) Tiger’s Head which had moved to its current location in the mid-18th century.

So what was a beer shop or house?  It had its roots in earlier social problems caused by excessive consumption of gin – made famous by Hogarth’s prints on the evils of Gin Lane and the relative merits of Beer Street in the 1750s – see below (1).  In the 1820s and 1830s governments were attempting to deal with widespread drunkenness through gin drinking which had partially arisen through high levels of taxation on beer.  The Beerhouse Act of 1830 abolished the tax on beer and allowed the opening on premises that could only sell beer and apart from an annual 2 guinea licence fee there was only limited control over their opening and limited regulation.  This was very different to the strict regime that existed for public houses which could sell wines and spirits too.  The beer house was the starting point in licencing terms for many Victorian public houses and there were often long campaigns to get turn the beer house licence into a full pub licence.

By 1841 the New Tiger’s Head seems to have been a successful business, it was described as being ‘intended for a licensed house, doing an extensive trade’ it was sold with the four neighbouring cottages – the lease was for 80 years with a ground rent of £17 a year (2).

In the 1840s seem to have seen the first recorded applications for a full licence for the New Tigers Head in 1847; unsurprisingly, it was opposed by Charles Morton, landlord of the Old Tigers Head opposite (3).

By 1849 the landlord was William Charles Pickup, he made the third application for a full licence – it was based on the growth of area and coming of the railway.  It was again opposed by Charles Morton, and was again refused by the bench – who noted that if Pickup ‘ever expected to gain a licence, he must conduct his house in a better manner.’ (4).

Pickup was a relatively young man, just 27 when the census enumerators called in 1851 Census. Pickup sold up in 1853 and there was a sale that year of assorted household possessions and a ‘light gig with excellent springs, patent axels, leather cushion etc.’ (5).

Each September the case for a full licence seems to have been made to the magistrates, and it was refused in 1856 (6) and the following year a petition against the request was presented to the bench ‘ numerously signed by the clergy and resident gentry of the place.’  It was again refused (7). The opposition from the clergy and the gentry shouldn’t be seen as any form of tactic support for the Mortons and their running of the Old Tiger’s Head; rather it was an opposition to drinking and pubs per se.  Much of the same group were behind the setting up of Lee Working Men’s Institution in 1854 in Boone Street.  Despite its name, it was no working men’s club and promoted the expansion of knowledge and abstinence. Running Past will return to this in the future.

James Phillips, described in the 1861 census as a refreshment house keeper, took over the licence in the late 1850s.  He used the petition tactic with his application getting support from several farmers and market gardeners of the area – perhaps including Richard Morris at Lee Green Farm, (pictured below from the information board at Lee Green) William Brown at College Farm, Thomas Adams of Burnt Ash Farm and Thomas Blenkiron at Horn Park Farm.

It was again opposed by the landlord of the Old Tigers Head, now Caroline Morton, mother-in-law of John Pound (soon to be owner of the Northbrook).  She used a different tack in the opposition to that used by her late husband, claiming the name would be too similar. Phillips suggested that it was a requirement of his lease, but he would be happy to call it ‘The Monkey’ or any other animal to get a full licence (8).  Unsurprisingly, the licence was refused, although a licence for selling wine (but not spirits) was granted later that year following new legislation (9).

Phillips, who was married to Martha and employed two live-in bar maids and a waiter in 1861, had another application rejected in 1861(10) but, after an adjournment in 1863, he finally obtained a full licence (11).

Almost as soon as Phillips had obtained the licence he sold his interest to Marchant Bowyer Warner, presumably it was worth much more than it had been as a beer house (12).

Phillips had planned to extend the frontage of the beer house in 1863, but permission had not been granted (13).  However, Warner was quick to extend – adding a billiard room in 1865 (14) along with some other alternations in 1866 (15) and a new sign, which required permission, the same year (16).

Warner was only 28 when he took over the tenancy in 1864; it wasn’t his first licence though – he’d been the publican at the Duke of Wellington in Shacklewell for just over a year before that.  Whether he had inherited wealth or the now fully licensed New Tiger’s Head was very profitable indeed, he was listed as a retired Licensed Victualler living in nearby Cambridge Drive by 1881.  He stayed in Cambridge Drive for the next three censuses and died in Lewisham in 1921.

There was a series of landlords in the 1880 and 1890s, with Edward Dicker (1881), John Stevens (1883) and Emma Porter all being licensees (17).  There were then brief interludes of Frederick Morgan (18) behind the pumps, followed by George Rose (19). Arthur Strutt Lindus took over soon after and was fined £8 12s for watering down beer in late 1894 (20). Lindus had been a licenced victualler before at the Heaton Arms in Peckham in the 1871 and 1881 censuses.

Source eBay September 2016

The pub seems to have been re-built in its present form in the late 1890s, a year or two after the Old Tiger’s Head on the opposite corner of Lee Road.  The landlord when it re-opened was probably Neville Dedman, part of a family with a strong tradition of running pubs.  Most recently, his father William had been publican at the Old Tiger’s Head before it was rebuilt in 1896.  Despite all press reports noting it as the New Tiger’s Head, it was listed as the Tiger Tavern again in the census.

For reasons that aren’t clear William, who lived a short way up Eltham Road, took over the tenancy in 1902 (21). He was eyeing up other options though and got permission to build the Station Hotel in Hither Green in 1905 (22).  Sadly, he died in 1906, the year before the Station Hotel opened and his widow, Jane, was to become the licensee. Neville was in control though by the time the census enumerators called in 1911. Neville saw out his days in an appropriate location for the pub keeping traditions of his family, at the beautiful, on the outside, at least, Licensed Victuallers Benevolent Institution Asylum Road in Peckham (See below – on a Creative Commons via Geograph) in 1939 Register.

John Reynolds from Cambridgeshire took over the tenancy in 1904, with his wife Elizabeth who hailed from Hitchin, and remained there until his death in 1914.

Albert James Bromley succeeded the Reynolds for 5 years but the long term licensee was Robert Prichard who took over in 1921 and was certainly there in the 1939 Register, then aged 71 with Agnes who he had married in 1925.  They had 5 live-in staff to help them run the business.  Robert probably remained there until his death in 1945.  It probably wasn’t his first licence as a Robert Pritchard of right age was running Red Lion, 1 Eldon Street, Shoreditch in 1901.

The pub ceased trading in 2005; it was no doubt the victim of a number of factors  – cheap supermarket drinks and some of the local factors that led to the demise of the nearby Prince Arthur – the closure of the police station and the slow haemorrhage of offices from Leegate House and Cantilever House (above the Leegate Centre).  There are suggestions too that the owners, Enterprise Inns ‘ran this place into the ground’, although the arrival of Wetherspoons’ Edmund Halley about 50 metres away with its cheaper beer and more welcoming feel at around the same time was probably more pivotal in its demise.

The building isn’t completely empty, the upper floors have been turned into 6 flats – with an annual rental income of over £70,000 – the interior has been recently had some emergency works undertaken to secure the interiors from further damage following discussions with both Lewisham and Greenwich Councils.   As Joe O’Donnell has noted (see comments below) – there was an unsuccessful application to Greenwich to turn the ground floor into flats in 2016.

At the time of writing (March 2018), the freehold is on sale with offers of £2.5 million sought. Ironically, when the plans for St Modwens redevelopment of the Leegate were first mooted there were suggestions that Wetherspoons might move to the New Tiger’s Head, although there has been nothing recent in the local media on this.

Unlike many other closed local pubs, there haven’t been pages of memories posted on Facebook – maybe there hasn’t been a trigger to do it… So, 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 it to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Anything libellous though will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.

Notes

  1. On a Creative Commons via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Street_and_Gin_Lane
  2. 12 October 1841 – Morning Advertiser – London, London, England
  3. 28 September 1847 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  4. 06 October 1849 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  5. 10 September 1853 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  6. 27 September 1856 – Kentish Independent – London, London
  7. 25 September 1857 – Morning Advertiser – London, London
  8. 29 September 1860 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  9. 10 December 1860 – Morning Advertiser – London, London, England
  10. 28 September 1861 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  11. 26 September 1863 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  12. 21 May 1864 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  13. 21 March 1863 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  14. 11 November 1865 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  15. 14 April 1866 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  16. 25 August 1866 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  17. 17 February 1883 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  18. 29 August 1890 – Woolwich Gazette
  19. Kentish Mercury 13 February 1891
  20. London Evening Standard 10 December 1894
  21. 29 August 1902 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  22. 10 March 1905 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England

Census & related information come via Find My Past

Caroline Townsend – A Lewisham Suffragette Activist

During the centenary year of (some) women obtaining the vote, it is important to remember those who were active in the campaign for women’s suffrage in South East London.  Running Past has already covered the two of the more prominent women – May Billinghurst and Emily Wilding Davison who both had a national impact; however, it is important to celebrate the work and lives of some of the other women activists who were involved in the struggle locally.  A few weeks ago, the role of Eugenia Bouvier was covered, and now it is the turn to look contribution of Caroline Townsend.

Caroline was born in Cork in Ireland on 13 August 1870; she was the youngest of three sisters in a family that travelled a lot – her eldest sister, Annie, was born in Gibraltar in 1864; Hannah in 1868 in Woolwich.

Little is known of her upbringing, and she doesn’t obviously appear in any censuses until 1901 when the three sisters were living at 188 Malpass Road in Brockley, the two elder sisters who were both listed as teachers, Caroline listed as a ‘housekeeper’ in the census return.

Caroline was one of the joint secretaries of the Lewisham WSPU, which was set up in 1907 (1).

She was arrested as part of a deputation to see Herbert Asquith, the then Prime Minister, on February 24 1909.  The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) had attempted to set up a meeting with Asquith – Emmeline Pethwick Lawrence informed him on February 23 1909 that a delegation would be visiting him at the House of Commons the following evening to ask for votes for women to be included in the legislative programme for that session.  A terse reply noted that Asquith had nothing to add to previous statements and that, in any case, he would not be at The Commons that evening (2).

There was a large meeting at Caxton Hall in Westminster on February 24 addressed by Emmeline Pankhurst to protest against the Liberal Government’s failure to include women’s suffrage in the King’s Speech.  A resolution was passed calling for votes for women on the same basis as men. It was agreed to send a deputation, led by Emmeline Pethwick Lawrence to convey the resolution to Asquith. The 40 women in the deputation seem to have included Caroline Townsend (3).

The police would allow anything resembling a march so the women walked in pairs to Parliament.  The women walked to the ‘strangers’ entrance to the House of Commons.  They were followed by a fairly hostile crowd, their way was barred by around 40 police – the women went through the ‘futile formality’ (4) of asking to see their MPs before attempting to break through the police lines ‘threw themselves at solid lines of constables which not thrice the number of fighting men could have hoped to dislodge from their vantage point.’  (5)

Pethwick Lawrence and ‘the leaders’ were arrested, a total of 27 women and one man, and charged with obstruction.  This included Caroline Townsend whose address was reported as 188 Malpass Road. All were bailed upon a surety from the wealthy Pethwick Lawrence (6)

The following day all 28 appeared at Bow Street Magistrates Court, in front of the same magistrate that had heard cases involving Eugenia Bouvier, Sir Albert de Rutzen.  Pethwick Lawrence addressed the magistrate at length, but there was little sympathy from him ‘it is regretted that educated ladies should disgrace themselves in this way by contravening law and order.’ (7)

All of the defendants refused to be bound over and most were required to find sureties of £10 or a month in prison.  All the women were sent to Holloway Prison (8).

Caroline received frequent mentions in ‘Suffragette’ newspaper in 1910s, mainly in role as secretary but there were mentions of speeches too (9). It was noted in an interview with her in a ‘Suffrage Annual’ that she “particularly enjoyed ‘out-door work’ – speaking, paper selling, poster parading.”  (10) Whilst these may not be the most glamourous roles they are the things that all political groups need at the local level – making the cause visible and raising its profile with local people.

The photo of the banner shows Caroline on the front row Olive Llewhellin, who lived at 114 Burnt Ash Hill, behind her is Clara Lambert (who briefly lived in Glenfarg Road in Catford) – Running Past will no doubt cover both of these women over the next few months.  The fourth woman in the photograph which is part of the collection of the Museum of London (on a creative commons) is a Miss Warwick.

By the time that the 1911 census enumerators called the sisters were living at 27 Murillo Road in Lee.  The house had been built in the last few years of the 19th century after the demolition of a large house, The Firs, in 1893 following the death of its last owner John Wingfield Larking.  Many suffragettes used the census to protest against the lack of women’s suffrage; this included Caroline and her sister, Hannah, who was also an active suffragette – only Annie was listed in the census at 27 in 1911.

Hannah was a teacher and a founder and member of the Women Teachers Franchise Union (11) who campaigned for equal pay as well as suffrage. Both sisters were members of the Women’s Suffrage Club which was based at 1 Lewis Grove in Lewisham and served as the headquarters for the local WSPU branch (12)

The Pankhursts set up the Women’s Party in October 1917 and Caroline Townsend  became the ‘Election Organiser’ in Lewisham (13). The party advocated numerous policies that promoted equality for women including equal pay for equal work, equal marriage and divorce laws, equality of parental rights and raising the age of consent. The Party also campaigned for maternity and infant care, which would be subsidised by parents according to their income, beyond this their views were relatively conservative – pro Empire, pro-Union and anti-Bolshevik.

They held regular public meetings in the market – with Caroline speaking at several (14). There was no active input into the December 1918 election though as effectively there wasn’t a contest in either of the Lewisham constituencies, with both seats seeing Conservative & Unionist candidates elected unopposed with ‘Coalition Coupons’.

It seems that the sisters moved to Surrey Hannah and Caroline were living at  Gravel Pits Farm, in Gomshall, near Guildford by the time the 1939 Register was compiled.  Caroline died in the same district two years later.

Notes

  1. Elizabeth Crawford (1998) The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 p689
  2. The Times, Wednesday February 24 1909
  3. The Times, Thursday February 25, 1909
  4. ibid
  5. ibid
  6. ibid
  7. The Times, Friday February 26, 1909
  8. ibid
  9. The Suffragette (London) 21 November 1913
  10. Crawford, op cit p 689
  11. ibid
  12. ibid
  13. Britannia (Official Organ of the Women’s Party) 18 October 1918
  14. ibid

Census & related information come via Find My Past