Lampmead and Lenham Roads are quiet residential streets coming off Lee High Road, they are mainly Victorian terraces. There are also several infill homes built by the London Borough of Lewisham,or its forerunner. There is a story behind their presence in the early 21st century streetscape – they are the indirect result of a V-1 rocket attacks which hit the junction of Lampmead and Lenham Roads on just before 5 am on the morning of 22 June 1944.
Running Past has covered several of the almost two hundred V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks on Lewisham, including the ones on Lewisham High Street, Lewisham Hill and Hither Green’s Fernbrook Road. They are important to remember both in terms of the death and injuries caused to ordinary Londoners whose stories often get forgotten, but also in terms of their impact on the urban landscape – both in the short-term and longer term.
Six died as a result of the attack on Lenham and Lampmead Roads and no doubt many more were injured. Those who lost their lives were James Joseph Carroll (20) and Patrick Leonard (26) who died at 34 Lenham Road; Hugh William George Harvey (59) who died at 6 Lampmead, Joseph Daniel Barry (55) died next door at number 8, his neighbour Alfred William Roedear (64) died at no 10 – his wife Annie appears to have survived, and Flora Borthwick (37) perished at 12 Lampmead.
What is perhaps surprising is that of those who died only one, Hugh Harvey, who was a groundsman and coach at the outbreak of the war living at 6 Lampmead Road, had lived there when the war broke out (1). It is worth remembering that the private rented sector was still dominant at that time – accounting for almost 60% of homes – security of tenure, while perhaps slightly greater than it is now, was still limited. In Lewisham these landlords included some of the bigger builders in the area – WJ Scudamore and James Watt.
During World War 1 there had been profiteering by some residential landlords which had led to rent strikes and unrest which threatened to undermine the war effort. These had been repeated in the East End of London in 1938 and 1939. In this context, full rent control was introduced early in World War 2. However, this seems not to have led to a stable community in this part of Lee – similar issues were found with the Lewisham Hill V-1.
The V-1 would have exploded on impact and a blast wave rippled out from the impact point, effectively creating a vacuum in the centre – the combined impact was to both push and pull buildings leading to large numbers of collapses. The impact was often spread over quite a wide area with total destruction in the centre with much less damage on the outside. The map below produced by the London County Council during the war (2) shows this well – the darker the hand-colouring, the greater the damage.
By the time the Ordnance Survey cartographers surveyed the area in 1949 (see below & note 3), the debris had been cleared and the site filled with 14 prefabs – a small part of attempting to deal with post-war housing needs.