‘Reed’s Corner’ – The Eltham Road Shops Before the Leegate – Part 2 – Reeds Drapers

In the previous post on this parade we looked at the origins of Eastbourne and Orchard Terraces, which were to become 2-34 Eltham Road, seeing the change from rural Lee Green from Lee Green Farm to a shopping parade for what was then suburban London.  We left the parade in 1905 and will return return to those shops, but first we will turn our attention to the dominant name on this south east quadrant of Lee Green – Reeds.  It was so dominant that this part of Lee Green was referred to as ‘Reed’s Corner.’

The ‘Reed’ initially referred to C H Reed & Co and the C H Reed was Charles Henry Reed who moved Lee Green in 1866. Their ‘empire’ came to dominate the Eltham Road shops (and some of those around the corner in Burnt Ash Road) often taking over empty shops when they became vacant. 

Charles had been born in 1839 in North Cornwall, his wife Maria (probably nee Nichols), also came from Cornwall. Their starting point on the parade seems to have been 20 & 22 Eltham Road, then 2 and 3 Eastbourne Terrace, certainly that was the case in the 1871 census. 

Charles was noted as having 10 Assistants and 6 Apprentices in 1871, as was to be the pattern for decades to come most of these lived on site, along with a cook and a housemaid.

A decade later the business had expanded into what is now 18 Eltham Road as the Galloways moved further along the parade and eastwards, Charles had taken over 24 and 26 – a total of 5 shop fronts.  While listed as a drapers, it was making and selling furniture and some clothes too.  The extended business required a lot more staff and the upper floors of the parade were effectively turned into a hostel – while most of the trades of those listed in the census were drapery related – there were two cabinet makers, two dressmakers, a mantle maker and a furniture sales apprentice, along with several dealing with deliveries.  Most were under 30 and the majority men.

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

Reeds were regualr advertisers in the local press and as the cutting below from 1887 expanded into supplying carpets and other floor coverings for the wealthy folks in the large houses of Lee.

By 1891 the empire had taken on its sixth shop, when Jemima Dadley moved on from 16 Eltham Road.  The shop was opened as an ironmonger’s, a business type that had been absent for 20 years on the parade (and round the corner in Burnt Ash Road). Charles was still listed as living at Eltham Road. The drapery and associated trades hostel over the shop had expanded – there were now 56 people living above the shops. The postcard below is probably from around this era, with Reeds on the far left.

The business extended into Burnt Ash Road by the mid-1890s, moving the furnishing part of the business there.  Charles died in 1895 although this son Charles William continued to run the shops for another decade until selling up to Griffiths and Co around 1905 (their name is on the postcard below). 

While it may have initially been ‘round the corner’  at some stage around this point there had been a ‘knocking through’ from Eltham Road into Burnt Ash Road – whilst the 1893 surveyed map below, shows them as separate, this was not the case by 1914 (second map) or indeed after World War Two (final map).

The Griffith was John Griffith, born in Aberdaron around 1859 in the far north west tip of Wales. He was married to Rosina and seemed to have arrived via Reigate where their daughter was born in 1902. They continued the Reed approach to housing staff over the shops – in 1911 there were 27 with 6 live-in servants.

The number of shop fronts that Griffith & Co used declined though with 32 reverting to other trades from 1911.

They also seem to have moved out of 18-26 as there is an interesting photograph of the shop from World War 1 with the shutters down, the Griffith name still there, and soldiers billeted in the rooms above the shops.  Presumably, the army had requisitioned what was probably an empty building, in the same way as they had for the Ravensbourne Athletic clubhouse (now part of Ravens Way) a few hundred metres further up Eltham Road. Griffith & Co seemed to have focussed the business on the shops on the other side of Carston Mews (the bit that refers to Thomas Tilling at the right of the photograph).

By 1916 though the Reed name was back as Charles’ son William Reed was running the business. Like John Griffith, he was only using 14-16 Eltham Road off the right of the photo (along with the Burnt Ash Road shop fronts).  18 – 26 to the east of Carsten Mews were empty until at least 1920.  The building seems to have been converted back into individual shops to be let as single businesses – this is clear from the Ordnance Survey maps above for 1914 and 1948.

There was another name change around 1925.  William died in 1924 and the shop was then known as Reeds (Lee). 

The new Reed was William’s brother Ernest, who in the 1939 Register, was living just around the corner in Leyland Road.  By this time there had been an expansion into 12, next to an existing shop.  They may well also have extended the showrooms for the shop upwards as unlike most of the rest of the parade there was no private renting above the shops.

The Reed name was there until the bulldozers moved in – still listed in the 1965 Kelly’s Directory.  Ernest died in 1966 in Lewisham.  The family name had been there for almost all of the 100 years that the parade was there.  

In the next post we’ll return to the rest of the shops in the parade to see how they fared after 1905 until the end of the parade in the 1960s.

Notes & Credits

  • The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using census data from 1871 and Kelly’s Directories, generally looking at every 5th year from the early 1880s
  • All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark and Lewisham Archives
  • The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
  • The Ordnance Survey maps are on a non Commerical Licence from the National Library of Scotland (1897, 1914 and 1948)
  • The press cutting is from the Woolwich Gazette 4 March 1887

3 thoughts on “‘Reed’s Corner’ – The Eltham Road Shops Before the Leegate – Part 2 – Reeds Drapers

  1. Hilary Barber

    Hi. Just read your blog. Good local research, thanks!

    You might be interested- I just looked up the Griffith’s on Ancestry. There, John’s wife is transcribed as ’Rosina’ and looking at the handwriting I think that’s right

    Hilary Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  2. Pingback: ‘Reed’s Corner’ – The Eltham Road Shops Before the Leegate – Part 3 – From 1905 | Running Past

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