W J Scudamore – A Family Builder of Lee

While not quite on the scale of Cameron Corbett on the other side of the railway, the family builders WJ Scudamore and Sons have left a lasting impression on the urban landscape of Lee – many of the Edwardian and later roads were built by them.  The family retained connections in the area until at least the 1970s.  This post looks at both their lasting impact on the built environment, but also in tries to unpick some of their own story which is closely intertwined with their development of homes.

The firm appears to have been founded by William John Scudamore who was born in 1845 in Whitechapel – he married Harriet Stevenson in 1865 and together had eight children, only four of who lived beyond childhood.  The three surviving sons all became Directors of the firm – William John (1867), Cornelius (1871) and George (1873).

William (1845) was living in at 37 Henry Street in St George’s area of Borough in Southwark working as a blind maker in the 1871 census; a decade later, the family had moved to Bermondsey New Road where William (1845) was then listed as a furniture dealer.

William’s (1845) first wife Harriet died in 1896 and he married Elizabeth Drane in 1898, in Southwark. They had two further children – John William (1899) and Henry (1904) who were born in Catford and Lee respectively – as with the other sons, they were to become Directors of the family firm.

While there seems to be no reference to William (1845) in the 1891 census, it would seem likely that the building firm had already been set up – certainly, his son William (1867), who had married Annie Elizabeth Jackson the previous year, was listed as a builder living at 226 Old Kent Road – possibly for his father.

The first definite location in Lewisham that it is known that WJ Scudamore developed was on the site of the former Hope Cottage on Hither Green Lane.  The plot was about 5.5 acres in size and (1) saw the development of the shops fronting Hither Green Lane and the flats above them, along with Woodlands, Benin and Blashford Streets (2).   As can be seen from a newspaper advert further down the post, 1 Benin Street (below) was used for a while as the Estate Office.  It seems that this development predated adding the ‘Sons’ to the business as there were mentions of paying bills of £20 in 1898 and £6 11s 6d in 1899 for connection of sewers.

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By 1901, William (1845) had moved to the then suburbia of Catford and was living at 157 Brownhill Road, with his new wife.  His sons from the first marriage were all close by – William (1867) was living at 144 Laleham Road, Catford, and had a daughter, also Annie, who had been born in Southwark around 1894 and a son, also William John, born around 1897 in Catford.  His brother, Cornelius was living just around the corner at 45 Farley Road, like his brother he was listed as a builder in the census – although the family history notes that he was an ‘administrator and designer of the houses.’  The youngest brother, George, carried the same ‘trade’ in his census listing in 1901 and was a few minutes away from his brothers at 155 Hither Green Lane.

By 1906, the firm, now including the ‘Sons’  were at 13 Manor Lane, now 89/91 after Redruth Road became part of Manor Lane.  They were using it as an estate office for various developments in the area;  William (1867) seems to have lived there and had another son Harold who was born there.  It is on the corner of Manor Lane and Handen Road and is now a convenience store.  Given the similarity of some of the architectural details, it would not be surprising if the property was build by the Scudamores.

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There were advertisements in the London Press for four bedroom homes at rents of £40 a year (1).

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While it isn’t completely clear which houses these referred to, within a year or two they were advertising homes for sale on what they referred to as the Manor Park Estate (2).

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The Manor Park Estate would seem to include roads like Thornwood, Chalcroft (below) and Kellerton Roads along with parts of Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park – the last three were all to become home to family members once the building work was completed.

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In the same editions of the South London Press (3), they were also also letting homes in Benin Street and presumably above the neighbouring shops on Hither Green Lane.

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By 1911 the brothers were all living around Lee – Cornelius had moved  to Southbrook Road, William (1867) was at 89 Manor Park and George a few doors away at 127. Their father, William (1845) was living close by at 79 Micheldever Road.

By 1915, they were operating out of 412-414 Lee High Road – they used it both as an office as well as a store and workshop for making windows.  It is where Sainsbury’s is now – a couple of doors down from the Imperial Picture Palace and next door to the former Police Station, During that year they bought several pieces of land and buildings in Newstead Road although, while the Scudamore interest was noted as a builder this may have been completing transactions on work completed several years before – OS maps show Newstead Road being built around the mid-1890s.  Examples on the link are for 45, 47, 59 and 67 but there were several other similar transactions.

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Given the similarity of houses on the neighbouring Parkcroft Road (below) and St Mildred’s Road to houses they built in Manor Park and Chalcroft Road – it is likely that they are the work of W J Scudamore & Sons too.

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Newstead Road may have been the first development in the area as the history of the family name notes that the early approach to building was to lease plots on which he built houses.

Around this point William (1845) moved into a large house at 38 Manor Lane Terrace, with gardens and tennis court – it was the former Manor Farm – adjacent to homes that the firm had built and perhaps bought with the land for them.  The house was demolished, probably after Elizabeth died in the 1960s (William, 1845, had died in 1824), and is now part of Wolfram Close – probably a misspelled version of the name of last occupant of the Manor House (now library).

William (1867) and Annie moved to Baring Road (presumably built by the firm), and by 1928 had retired – they are recorded on a couple of passenger lists going to North Africa and listed as having  had no occupation.

The business seems to have been taken over by William John (1897) – the business, at least, was based at 1 Burnt Ash Hill, next to the station – convenient for sales to commuters.

In the  1920s and 1930s they were building some of the newer homes of Lee – including homes on what was then referred to as the Northbrook Estate, opposite the Northbrook Park on Baring Road (see picture below).  An advert offered the 3 bedroom homes at £725 for leasehold at £875 freehold – stressing the relative proximity of both Grove Park and Lee Stations.  It was almost certainly part of the land of College Farm, which Running Past will return to in the future.

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William John (1897) was also extending their area of operation – particularly into Bexley, during the mid to late 1930s they developed sites at

William John (1897) married Dora and had two sons and a daughter, William John who was born around 1923, he died training as a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment in 1942. Like many of the rest of the family they lived in a Scudamore house – they were listed in the 1939 Register as living at 2 Dallinger Road (below), development of that road had started in 1914 (6). The street was named after a scientist and Methodist minister, William Dallinger, who lived locally towards the end of his life.  It is on the corner of another street the firm built – Holme Lacey Road – which is a misspelled reference to the historic home of the Scudamores – Holme Lacy in Herefordshire – the development of that street was a lot later – around 1928 (7).

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Cornelius was listed as living at 156 Halfway Street in Sidcup on a passenger list to Brisbane in 1938, presumably to visits his son, also Cornelius, who emigrated to Australia.  He was listed as a Master Builder (Retired) at the same address in the 1939 Register.  He died in 1958 in Greenwich.   William (1867) seems to have come out of retirement as he was involved with the firm in 1939, living in a large house close to Sevenoaks – one of the other occupants was his son Harold, who was listed as a Scudamore Director.  William (1867) was to live until 1955.   George had retired by 1939 and was living in Footscray Road – he died in Bromley in 1950.

Nothing is known of what happened to the firm after World War 2 although they continued in business until 1966, when they were based in Holme Lacey Road – probably where Travis Perkins are now (2017) trading from.  The firm was voluntarily wound up on 18 July 1966 and a liquidator appointed – when William John (1897) would have been around 69 and was still Chairman of the business at the time of the winding up.  William John (1897) was to live until he was 90.

The excellent Edith’s Streets suggested that the name of and address  of W J Scudamore ‘appears on various drain inspection covers in the roads on the estate’  so obviously I went on a ferrous foray around the streets of Hither Green and Lee looking for evidence.  Alas, dear reader, I found no evidence of this in my traipsing of the tarmac – my time was not wasted though, I am now something of an expert on the work of C H Laud and Son and can correctly identify the ironwork of Mather and Smith Ltd. of Ashford at 20 paces.

Obviously, if your eagle eyes are more finely attuned to early 20th century drain metalwork and spot a “W J Scudamore”, please do let me know.

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Finally, a massive thank you to the various members of the Scudamore family (see comments below) who have helped with this post and enabled me to piece together strands that I had originally not been able to link together.

Notes

  1. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green – The Forgotten Hamlet p35
  2. ibid p39
  3. London Daily News 28 June 1906 – there were several of the same adverts around then.
  4. South London Press South London Press 29 January 1909 – the same advertisement was used for several months.
  5. ibid
  6. Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names and Their Origins p17
  7. ibid p29

The elements of the family history have been gleaned from two sources – the census, shipping, marriage and related data came via Find My Past  with a lot also from the fascinating Scudamore Family history.

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20 thoughts on “W J Scudamore – A Family Builder of Lee

  1. Candy Blackham

    Amazing amount of research, and interesting. Interesting to read of the family member killed while training as a glider pilot; I am going to post on a brief visit to the D-Day beaches and cemeteries in northern France, and have read about the gliders. Thank you again for your interest and support.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Oddly, it was a post where the research all very quickly fell into place and was very straightforward, I probably only spent a couple of lunch hours on it. I must have spent longer last Sunday taking photos and running up and down streets looking for drain covers …..

      I look forward to your Normandy piece it is an important time to remember; I have one written on the local WW2 Home Front deaths which I will post in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.

      I have really enjoyed your series of Brittany posts, by the way.

      Reply
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  3. solveig bodley (nee Scudamore)

    Hallo I live in New Zealand and am the Granddaugher of W.J. Scudamore Jnr. My youngest daughter spotted the information of my Grandfather and immediately connected me. My cousin Jim died on the home front when his parachute let him down or should I say didnt let him down.
    It was really interesting to read the information about my grandfather.Thank you. I remember him very well when he was in retirement in Kemsing (Sevenoaks) In a lovely house with lovely grounds, remembering summer and Christmas Holidays with affection although war-time we were away from the bombing in the South Counties.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Thanks for visiting, I am glad you found it interesting; I hope that I have done your family history justice. If there is anything else that you or other family members know about the building firm, and are able to share, please do let me know, I would be delighted to update the post.

      Reply
    2. Salli Scudamore

      Hi Solveig! It was Bill that so tragically died, Jim is my my father. There was about 10years age difference between them. Be lovely to get in contact with you (e mail address deleted by Paul B but contact details swapped with consent)

      Reply
  4. Salli Scudamore

    This is a very interesting article, thank you for your research. I am the grand daughter of WJ Scudamore and Dora, although sadly I never met her as she died just before I was born. I have wonderful memories of the house he built and where they lived in Lee, especially at Christmas as we stayed there most years. It was such a beautiful house, I would love to visit it again!

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you, I am glad it was of interest – I hope that I have done the family justice – if there is anything you can add to the story of the latter years of the bundling firm I would be fascinated to hear from you.

      Reply
  5. Barry Lee

    I am also a descendant of WJ Scudamore and Harriet . My great grandfather was George Scudamore ( their 2nd son). He was also a builder in Lee/ Hither Green during the 1920s in partnership with my other great grandfather to form Lee and Scudamore builders. My family name is Lee ( coincidently!) . Amazingly & unknowingly I bought a house during the 1990’s in Manor Lane Terrace only to find the name of both of my great grandparents on the deeds! As far as I know one branch of the Scudamore building firm continued until the 1970s run by great uncle George Scudamore from Orpington.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      That is fascinating, really fascinating. It is a post that I always wanted to go back as I felt there was a bit more in it. If nothing else, I want to find out which streets they built. Had assumed it was roads like Manor Lane Terrace – at Kellerton end, Chalcroft and Parkcroft (off Newstead) but could never find any proof (on line at least). What number Manor Lane Terrace did you live at?

      Reply
  6. Barry Lee

    I lived at 31 Manor Lane Terrace. And now looking at the family information I see that William John Scudamore (Senior) also live in Manor Lane Terrace. Towards the end of his life he and his wife lived in a large house in Manor Lane Terrace, with gardens and tennis court. The property, with other houses around, has been demolished. I know they held the freehold to properties in Dallinger Road and Manor Lane which they had built.

    Reply
  7. Jon Scudamore

    You say fascinating Paul, and I agree. As my sister mentioned, Christmas time staying at 2, Dallinger Road as youngsters in the mid to late 1960s was very memorable. The house seemed large and grandly old fashioned with a grandfather clock and I am sure I heard sleigh-bells whilst I lay in bed. The last time I was in the house was in 1986 on the day of Grandpa’s funeral. I have lived in Milton Keynes for 30 years now and I didn’t think much about it again ‘till 2013 when my job in IT took me down to Dartford. As the train pulled into Lee station I realised I was looking straight down Holme Lacey Road into the front window of 2, Dallinger. The next time I spoke to Dad I mentioned this and he explained to me that this was not a matter of chance. When his men were placing the stakes in the ground during the building, Grandpa instructed the orientation to be changed so that he could look out of that window straight down Holme Lacey road to the station. The information you have gathered has been of great interest to Dad. The building company would probably have remained active after the war had Dad’s brother Billy not been killed in a training accident with the Glider Regiment. Dad, who is now 84, spent his career with the Civil Service and has been thinking about his father’s company lately so your research has been very well timed in that respect, thank you. One other point to mention is that in Barry Lee’s post, he has spoken of another building company which must have been running at the same time. Dad told me that he remembers his father having a friend called George Scudamore. I will take a look at the family tree that is readily available on line to see if I can see the connection, but on first thought I wonder if both companies originate from W.J. Scudamore born 1845 who set up a building company, his sons all becoming directors.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you! I am in the process of doing an update to the post at the moment – which will probably include a photo of 2 Dallinger Road which I took a couple of days ago. The comments from the last few days have been really helpful about trying to work out the streets that the form built. I will let you and the other family members know when I have updated the post which will include some of your comments. Thank you again for your comments- they are fascinating.

      Reply
  8. mike Conway

    This is a really interesting article – especially as I live in Dallinger Road although right down the far end. Dallinger in itself is interesting in that the Manor Lane end starts with a row of terrace houses in the same design as the ones in Manor Lane. We own the first houses after the terrace where the buildings change to semi-detached. Our pair of semis are 85:and 87:whereas the next door neighbour in the first terraced house is 109. 5 house numbers missing. We have always understood that the builder who originally started Dallinger at the Manor Lane end went out of business and it was only 10 years or more later that reconstruction of the rest of the road was completed – as I now know, by Scudamoren- as semis.

    Reply
    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you – it was a fascinating post to put together. You may well be right about parts being different builders – I know they did the Burnt Ash Hill end (there is a comment about the orientation of 2 & 4 above yours) but it may have been someone else at the Manor Lane end. Certainly I suspect that there were some gaps due to WW1 in the phases of building . You can certainly see some of the similarities of the detail, such as on the original porches, on Holme Lacey are very similar to the likes of Chalcroft. I must admit I didn’t look in detail at the styles of the houses either end of Dallinger Road though – I’ll go back and have a look!

      Reply
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