When we looked at Lee Manor Farm a few months ago, there was a pattern of small fields edging Burnt Ash Road – pictured below (Lee Green is in the bottom right hand corner). The northern most of these is now occupied by Sainsbury’s, which is the latest in a series of retail establishments. A two part blog post explores the changes, the first one takes us from the farm that Thomas Postans knew in 1843 to the end of World War 1.
The first non-rural occupants of the site was housing known as Thornhill Grove which was probably built in the late 1850s or very early 1860s. They were sat back from the main road ( as the left map below shows), with a gap for the Taunton Road that was to come. In 1861 the occupants of the first five houses were a senior Court Clerk, a bookseller, a household of siblings between 17 and 27, perhaps parents had recently died, along with two builders, one of which was retired. Perhaps it was one of them, either George Gates or William Bond, who had built the houses.
The houses seem to have been very short-lived in their original form, as they seem to have been altered and extended into shops between the late 1870s and early 1880s. It is clear that some of the new shops were occupied when the census enumerators called in 1881, but there was no numbering and the shops were referred to by their trades. Several shops were referred to by there previous house names in 1881.
1-14 Thornhill Grove on what was then called Burnt Ash Lane was almost entirely occupied when the 1884 Kelly’s Directory was compiled, presumably during 1883. The change to 2- 30 Burnt Ash Road came a few years later and to avoid confusion I’ll refer to the shops by this variant.
2 – 6 Burnt Ash Road
William Brown from Rotherhithe was listed at the first shop, merely referred to as ‘Fruiterer’ in 1881, with his wife Anne who hailed from Montgomeryshire, two of his adult children helped in the shop. It is not clear how many of the shop units that Brown had in 1881, but by the 1884 Kelly’s Directory he was running a business that included the strange bedfellows of selling coal, corn (and presumably oats for horses) as well as fruit. 2 and 4 seem to have been down the still remaining alley and 6, the first of the parade proper.
By 1891 the family was living over the road at 23 Burnt Ash Road, now with a servant; the accommodation attached to the shop was home to Charles Barlow and Alfred Lock – car men, drivers of horse and carts for the corn business – living at 2 and 4 respectively, with 6 empty when the census enumerators called.
William had retired by 1901, but his name was still above the door and his son Arthur (1867) was managing the business, although they had dropped the fruit selling. The name continued at the business and address until around the outbreak of World War One. It isn’t clear what happened to the family after 1901 but any business based around selling oats was going to go into decline with the rise of motorised transport. Lots of local supply outlets such as Thomas Tilling stables has all but disappeared by the end of the war.
8 Burnt Ash Road
In the 1881 census, there was a grocers shop, probably based at what was to become number 8. It was run by Albert Care who was a local lad. It didn’t seem to last long as it appeared to be vacant in 1884.
It seems to have been briefly taken on as an extension to William Brown’s empire by 1888, but by 1894 it had switched to being an extension to the smaller Martin empire based at the Post Office at number 10. The shop type that it was used for was the original trade of William Brown – a fruiterer, something that Brown had given up on by this stage.
More on Martin Martin when we turn to the Post Office, but the fruiterer was to stay in his name until around 1900. It was taken over by then by John Devenish, who appropriately came from Devon, and was to run the business into the 1920s. Like many on the parade he didn’t use the accommodation behind the shop, and like several of the others lived in large houses over the road, Devenish was at 21 in 1911 with wife, Elizabeth, a young son and a servant.
Devenish had a run in with the law in 1903 after being seen mistreating his delivery horse by kicking it Effingham Road. He was fined £1 with 7/- costs, or 14 days hard labour (1).
10 Burnt Ash Road
A Post Office was one the first retail outlets on the parade – run by Martin James Martin, who hailed from Woolwich, although he was away on census night in 1881 at what was to become number 10 was his wife, daughter, a visitor and a servant. The Martins were still living behind the shop in 1891. The role was a varied one, as well as the Post Office, it was a stationers and Registrar of Births and Deaths.
It seems that Martin Martin focussed on the later role, perhaps taking it on for the Borough of Lewisham and was listed at 2 Effingham Road in 1901 and 1911 as Registrar Of Births And Deaths, with seven children and a servant, along with his wife, Emily.
The new Sub-Postmaster was 1901 another man whose name suggested a geographical connection – Teesdale (sometimes referred to as Teasdale) Walbank – from Bingley in Yorkshire who was 61 in 1901; with him were his family which included his wife, Maria and 4 grown up daughters who assisted at the post office. He was from a family of weavers but unlike the rest of his siblings had not followed that line of work and had become a teacher in Bingley (1861), spending time and increasing the size of his family in Sedgefield (1871), Nenthead in Cumbria (1878) and near Southport (1881). It is not clear why he changed profession or moved to Lee around 1899, the first time he appeared on the electoral register).
Walbank died in May 1913 and was buried at Hither Green cemetery although his name lived on above shop until 1920s.
12 Burnt Ash Road
Samuel Brunning, a boot maker from Suffolk, seems to have lived in one the houses of Thornhill Grove before the shops were built, he and wife wife Mahala were listed in the censuses of 1871 and 1881 at a property described as Eagle Cottage. He is listed at 12 in the 1884 Kelly’s, where he was to remain until the late 1890s, although by that stage Samuel had been widowed and remarried.
Samuel had gone by the turn of the century and the new occupant was the draper, George Gooding who was expanding his business from number 16. We’ll cover him there, and it was a business that was present until around 1935.
14 Burnt Ash Road
Number 14’s history is a relatively short one as it was to become part of the Gooding ‘empire’ at 16; the first tenant in 1884 seems to have been George Lambley, a hairdresser from Gloucestershire. He’d been living in Lee since at least the 1870s, carrying out his trade in Lee High Road in 1881. The business had changed by the early 1890s and was a chemist, Frost and Harrison before being taken over by the Goodings around 1905.
16 Burnt Ash Road
There had been a milliner, Alfred Tyler, at 5 Thornhill Grove in 1881; he is not listed at any of the shops on the parade in 1884, so it may have been a business that was lost in the redevelopment for houses to shops. By 1884, 16 Burnt Ash Road was run by George Gooding who hailed from Debenham, near Stowmarket in Suffolk and was a Draper and was around 22. It was a business that seemed to thrive and George and his wife Jessie (32) George were doing well enough to be able to employ a couple of servants.
By 1894 the business had expanded into 18, the first of what were to be three expansions into adjacent properties. By 1901, they were living over the road at 21 in 1901, with the housing above/behind the shop empty or more likely being used for stock and by 1911 had moved to the still suburban Grove Park. George died in 1917 but the business continued in his name, probably run by his brother, William. The latter had been living with the family in Grove Park in 1911, he was to marry George’s widow, Jessie, in 1924.
18 Burnt Ash Road
Like number 14, its independent history is a short one, empty in 1884, by 1888 it was a fishmongers run by John Woodward – his 1891 census record describes his trade as ‘Master Mariner, Fishmonger at Present Time’ and he was living over the road at 11. He didn’t last long, perhaps returning to his former trade as George Gooding had expanded into 18 by 1894. The accommodation behind it featured in the 1901 and 1911 censuses as it seemed be being used as a boarding houses for Drapery Assistants, with 6 listed as living there along with a housekeeper.
20 Burnt Ash
From early in this existence, 20 Burnt Ash Road was a bakers, initially called Home Made Bread; it was then taken over by the Yorkshire Bread Company who regularly advertised their produce in the local press (2). The ownership changed a couple of times – latterly a Mr Woods who expanded into number 22.
Woods, seems to have had to sell at auction in May 1899, it was a 21 year lease, with 10 years remaining and an annual rent of £135 (3).
The purchaser was almost certainly Frederick Andrew, who hailed from St Neots, he and his wife, Georgina, had been running a smaller bakery in Brightfield Road from at least 1891. They were able to afford a servant in the 1901 census to help with the four young children. It was to become one of the longest lasting businesses on the parade, retaining Frederick’s name over the window until the late-1920s,
22 Burnt Ash Road
In its early days, the shop went through a number of businesses – in 1884, it was ‘home’ to builders, Kennard Bros., before being briefly a sales outlet for Singer Sewing Machines. By 1893, it was home to Charles Hopper who offered everything for the pianoforte enthusiast, from tuning to sales to lessons (4).
Hopper had departed by 1900, probably carrying out his business from 38 Burnt Ash Road, one of the large houses further up the street. The new occupant was a dyer/laundry although the occupant wasn’t new to the parade – Samuel Brunning, previously a boot maker at number 12 with the firm to stay there until the end of the first decade of the century.
A boot maker, William Whittle was the next occupant who stayed there until the mid-1920s, he lived just around the corner at 4 Taunton Road. He was a widower who lived with 2 children, an assistant at the shop and a live-in housekeeper. He’d moved from a shop just around the corner on Lee High Road, next to the Prince Arthur, where he’d been in 1901.
24 Burnt Ash Road
Frederick Roberts name was above the door at 24 Burnt Ash Road from around 1894, probably taking over the lease from William May Smith who had been there from early in the Parade’s life. He name was to remain until the early 1950s, expanding into 26 during the 1920s. He had taken on an additional shop at 69 Old Dover Road near Blackheath Standard by the outbreak of World War 1. Sadly, this is all that is known about him – as he never seems to have lived behind the shop nothing has been gleaned about where he came from, his family and the ownership of the shop – he could have been there for the entire 60 years his name was over the window, but it is perhaps unlikely.
26 Burnt Ash Road
There was a butchers shop in the parade in 1881, the exact location wasn’t clear but given what was to come in this shop front in this location it may have been here. The proprietor was Caroline Cook, from St George in the East in East London, who ran the business with her son. Some of her staff also lived ‘over the shop.’
Caroline Cook’s business didn’t last that long, her name was replaced with one that did had considerable longevity, another butcher John B Rolfe who was there from 1884. Unlike some of the neighbouring businesses there is no evidence that he ever lived above/behind the shop – in 1891 it was occupied by an accounts clerk, Annie Firkins, and it 1901 by four staff employed in the shop, along with the family of one of them.
Based on electoral registers, John Rolfe and his wife, Emily, were living at 12 Cambridge Drive from 1897, probably earlier. They were both from Northamptonshire and in 1901 were living at 3 Handen Road with 7 children under 10; plus three servants. The name remained until around the end of World War 1, but the shop was empty in 1920 and John died in Lewisham in 1922.
28 Burnt Ash Road
The shop front started as a carver and guilder, initially in the name of Louis Holcombe in 1884, but by 1900 the same business was being run by Wilhelm (listed in Kelly’s as William) Fellger, a German who lived around the corner at 88 Taunton Road. Carving and gilding is not a business type that really exists now – much of it seemed to relate to picture frames. He advertised this extensively in the local press (5) – noting his links to the Arts Club in Blackheath. However, he’d gone by 1905 possibly the result of local competition in a small market – there was another guilder and carver on Lee Road, Frederick Stimpson.
By 1905 the shop front was being used by watch maker Henry Ward from Cheltenham lived at 100 Taunton Road; who had moved his business from Lee High Road, close to the Duke of Edinburgh. He had gone by 1911 and was living on the last bits of the Corbett Estate to be completed, Duncrievie Road and no doubt carrying his business out somewhere else.
30 Burnt Ash Road
Throughout all of its early life 30 was a dairy; from 1888 to 1905 it was called Clay Farm Dairy in Kelly’s Directories, it is pictured in one of the early photographs of the parade.. There doesn’t seem to have been a local farm of this name, however, it may well have been a shortened version of Clay Pit Farm which was roughly on what is now Marvels Lane in Grove Park. By the time World War 1 broke out the name on the door was Edwards and Co, they were a large dairy firm based at Burnt Ash Farm.
At the outbreak of World War 1, it seemed a thriving parade, empty shops seemed a rarity, much more so than those local ones we have covered before – notably in Manor Park Parade and 310- 332 Lee High Road. There was probably a good reason for this, in that along with the shops opposite, on Eltham Road and on Lee Road, they would be able to supply all food shopping needs of local households. We will return to the parade in 1919 next week, there were to be a lot of changes in the decades that followed.
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1884.
- The 1843 map and the black and white postcards of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
- The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark Archives
- Census and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required)
- The Ordnance Survey maps come from the collection of the National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons and are from 1863, 1895 and 1948
- Woolwich Gazette 17 April 1903
- Kentish Mercury 3 May 1889
- Kentish Mercury 23 May 1899
- Kentish Mercury 17 November 1893
- Kentish Mercury 27 January 1893