‘Reed’s Corner’ – The Eltham Road Shops Before the Leegate – Part 3 – From 1905

There were shops on Eltham Road, where the Leegate Centre now stands, which dated from the mid-1860s.  The first post in this group looked at their transition from Lee Green Farm to  a flourishing parade with a variety of shops which, in 1905; the second looked at the frim that dominated the parade for much of its life – the family drapers, furnishing and ironmongery firm  C  H Reed, the domination was so great that this south east quadrant of Lee Green was known as ‘Reed’s Corner.’  In this final part we’ll look at the rest of the parade from 1905 until the bulldozers moved in during the 1960s.

We’ll take the same approach to the narrative as we did in the first post, generally looking at shops eastwards from Lee Green.

2-4 Eltham Road

We had left this pair of shops as a grocer which was part of a south east London chain of around 15 branches – Webb and Ellen.   They remained until around 1906 when number 2 was acquired by London and Provincial Bank – it straddled the corner of Burnt Ash and Eltham Roads and had addresses in both roads at various stages – it was covered in part on the post on Burnt Ash Road shops too.  It seems likely that the building was partially rebuilt on the Burnt Ash Road side but on Eltham Road side, if any building work was undertaken it was done to match existing properties.

The Bank went through through two name changes in quick succession – firstly, in 1918 when it became the snappily titled London, Provincial and South Western Bank. following a merger with the London and South Western Bank.  The latter also had a branch that we’ve already covered at the junction of Lee High and Brightfield Roads which was origianlly a temperance coffee tavern. Probably by the time the sign writers had finished the new title, it had become redundant as it was taken over by Barclays later in 1918.  It seems to have stayed a Barclays branch until the parade was demolished in the 1960s.

Initially, 2 and 4 were let separately, in 1905, number 4 was an off licence run by John Lovibond & Sons. They were the owners of the Greenwich Brewery at 177 Greenwich High Road, almost next to the station, although it was a firm which originated in Somerset.  In 1911 it was being run by Harry Beney who lived over the shop. It seems that they may have done a deal with Barclays in the early 1920s as around they moved from one side of the bank to 1a Burnt Ash Road around 1925, where they remained until that parade was demolished.

In its early days, the bank manager was Harry Kitto who lived over the bank; but from the late 1930s the rooms above the Bank were let out to solicitors Page, Moore and Page who remained there until around 1960, although there was no Moore towards the end.  From around 1950 they were joined by accountants Levett and Co.

6 Eltham Road

We’d left number 6 with Frank Sanders running a bakers and confectioners; it had been in the same trade for at least 30 years and was to continue in that trade until the bulldozers moved in during the 1960s.  Frank Sanders was from Hounslow and had arrived with his large family from Reigate.  Given where his children were born, he may have been commuting from Reigate to start with, but by 1911 Frank, his wife Alice and 9 children were living above the shop. 

The Sanders name continued until around 1935, when Frank presumably retired – he died in Lewisham in 1938.  The new name over the window was Ernest John Hall, it was a surname that continue until the end of the parade.  Little is known about him other than the marriage to Annie who seems to have taken over the busines around 1950.  The Halls didn’t seem to live above the shop, in 1939 it was home to Frederick Dundas who worked as a fitter at RAF Kidbrooke, there with wife and probably 5 children, most were redacted though.

8 Eltham Road

Tanner and Hook had taken over the business in the early 1890s, they had one other shop at 287 Brockley Road.  The ‘Tanner’ was Arthur Tanner was from Banbury in Oxfordshire, it was a family business with a sister and shop assistant living with his over the ‘Fancy Draper’s’ shop in 1911.  Their shop from this era is at the right of the postcard below.

The name stayed on until around Arthur’s death in 1926 and then became a tobacconist which changed hands several times before Alan John Martin took over during World War 2.  He was to stay until the end of the parade in although it wasn’t possible to find any more about him. 

During the 1930s and during the war, it was a building that was home to several other businesses – a house agent run by Thomas Jones and a series of hairdressers.  Part of the upper floors were also let as a flat in 1939.  In the early 1960s Perry’s Restaurant was also there but it sems like a short-lived enterprise.

10 Eltham Road

The greengrocer and fruiterer which had been run by Walter William Wood of Horn Park Farm, since the 1890s continued into the 1930s, although run by Sydney after Walter’s death in 1924.  They moved to 34 Eltham Road around 1935. The shop in Walter’s time is towards the right of the postcard above.

The shop became a butcher; initially the name over the window was Herbert J Jackman, but it may well have actually been run by John Dennis.  Dennis had been living in Cambridge Drive since 1901 and seems to have come from the same part of Cornwall as the draper Charles Reed.  Certainly, Dennis’ name was over the window in the early 1940s, presumably until his death in 1946.  It remained a butcher until the end with the last name that of John Manson.

Like much of the rest of the parade, by 1939, the rooms above the shop were being let out – to a ship and house painter.

12 Eltham Road

We’d left number 12 in 1905 as a stationers and bookseller under the stewardship of Alfred Wilson.  Wilson lived two doors away in Cambridge Drive from his parade next door neighbour, John Dennis.  By 1911 though there were new names over the window, cousins (Percy) Jennings and (Stewart) Hill, they were aged 25 and 32 respectively – they lived above the shop.  Also above the shop in 1911, but not for long, was solicitor Charles Henry Dodd, a firm that still exists in Blackheath – he was later to become Major of Lewisham on three occasions.    

It was just Percy listed in Kelly’s in 1916, but he had left by the time the Directory was published. He had signed up with the London Regiment in November 1915. He never returned to Eltham Road – as he was killed in action in West Flanders on 23 January 1917.  Percy’s sister, Lillian Jennings, seems to have run the the business after he enlisted in the army and it was her name over the window in 1920. Harold Tibbles took over the business which continued until the early 1930s when Reed’s expanded again.

18 Eltham Road

In 1905 18 Eltham Road was part of the Reed, soon to become Griffith, empire. John Grffith soon expanded into the shop fronts at the other side of Carston Mews and knocked through into the shops on Burnt Ash Road. They seem to have moved out of 18-26 Eltham Road around the beginning of the war and the empty shop, along with its neighbours, was requisitioned by the army.

The shop front seems to have remained empty until 1925 South East  Premier Garage, Motor Engineers moved in, they may well have been using some of Carston Mews behind too. They’d gone by 1935 though, when Show Card Makers, Cut Out Press were there but they had gone by the time war broke out again when both shop and the floors above were empty.

The shop remained empty until around 1950 when Crystal Chemical Co (Lee Green) were there and the final years saw the shop front split between two odd bedfellows – Juno Fashionwear and coopers Robert Tyson.

20 Eltham Road

Like 18, 20 went from being part of the Reed ‘empire’ in 1905 to Griffith & Co., to empty, to being requisitioned by the army.  It was to remain empty until around 1930 when it became home to a small manufacturing unit run by John Barber who was listed in Kelly’s as a Leather Goods Manufacturer.  Like the garage at 18, this was a move away from the retail uses. As we’ll return to in a future post, history is repeating itself with some of the non-retail uses of the declining Leegate Centre. 

John Barber would have been in his late 30s when he moved to the parade – he didn’t live over the shop – he was at 50 Effingham Road in 1939, with his wife Lilian.  He seems to have come from a family who worked in the leather trade; born in Camberwell, his father was listed in various censuses as a leather cutter (1901) and harness maker (1911). It is a business that remained until the end of the parade in the early 1960s.

The floors above the shop seem to have been let briefly to a Wireless Supplies dealer around 1935, but had been turned over to unlinked flats in 1939 and presumably was the same in the years after.

22 Eltham Road

Prior to World War 1, this had always been part of the Reed empire, it had been one of the shops where they started.  After the drapers moved along the road the shop was then requisitioned. The first retail use after World War One was around 1930 when Stanley Pooles opened a Grocer’s.  He was gone by 1935 as Victor Webling was plying the same trade – he’d been around the area since around 1925 when he married Kathleen in Lewisham, they were living in Grove Park in 1939.  Victor stayed until the end of the parade and remained in Lewisham until his death in 1978.

24 Eltham Road

Like the near neighbours, 24 remained empty after Griffith & Co moved out and the army moved in and then on – it was to stay this way until 1930.  It was probably symptomatic of the decline of the area – which had gone from very large houses which were homes to single families with several servants to the houses becoming subdivided into flats – we saw this in the post on the houses that were on the Eltham Road frontage of what is now Leybridge Court, along with one the nearby St Peter’s Church. The wealth disappeared as the houses were subdivided.

Around 1930 Davis and Carter, who were wholesale stationers, moved into 24 – they were to be a feature on the parade until its demise.  The rooms that once acted as a workers’ hostel for Reed’s were subdivided into four flats by 1939.

26 Eltham Road

This had been the last of the Reed/Griffith shops before they shuffled along the parade around the outbreak of World War 1.  Like the others, it was requisitioned by the Army but emerged as another non-retail use by 1925 – Lee Green Temperance Billiard Hall.  There were several such premises in south east London at this stage – the best known at the junction of Courthill Road and Lewisham High Street (which was later Riley’s).

The Billiard Hall was to last much longer than the decade of the temperance Jubilee Coffee Tavern a couple of hundred metre away at the corner of Lee High and Brightfield Roads.  At the outbreak of World War 2, it was managed by Edward Fuller who lived above the green baize tables with his daughter, May.  He survived World War 2 by a few days.  It may have been a one-man operation as it was soon taken over by the British Legion (Lee Green) Club in whose stewardship the premises remained until the bulldozers moved in.

28 Eltham Road

We’d left 28 with the name of Charles Henry Lenn over the window of a shop selling china and glass.  It had probably been there since the parade opened; Charles had died in 1898 but the business carried on in his name, in 1911 run by daughters Susannah, Emma and Caroline who were still living over the shop along with their sister in law Lilian.    They moved on within a few years and the sisters were living in Somerset by 1921. The shop is on the left of the postcard below.

By 1916 there was a new name to the parade, although not to Lee Green.  Frederick Lear had moved from 118 Lee Road where he’d been trading as an antique furniture dealer in 1911.  He was born in 1859 and was from Cheltenham, his wife Laura from Jersey helped with the business.  It was a business that they’d moved several times before it had been in Deptford in 1891 and Lewisham High Street in 1901.  Frederick died soon after they moved in and the shop was empty in 1920.

Herbert Lindley was running a confectioner in 1925, one of a series of different trades he’d tried – it was different in every census.  This one didn’t seem to last either as Walter J Mercer was running a café, referred to as ‘refreshment rooms’ in the 1930 Kelly’s.  Mercer didn’t stay that long as by 1935 Robert Flett was there running what was still a café.  His wife Alexandra was a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force  driver, presumably based at Kidbrooke.  Robert also was an agent for coach bookings. In a separate household above the shop were the retired Smiths.

By 1950 G  W Langham was operating a tobacconist – he added a Post Office counter to the business later in the decade – presumably replacing the one at 6 Burnt Ash Road when Penfolds took over. It remained until the demise of the parade.

30 Eltham Road

We’d left Frederick Miller undertaking boot and shoe making duties on the parade in 1905, but he was living elsewhere – in Clarendon Road (now Rise) in the 1901 census.  The name over the window stayed until around the outbreak of World War 1 when it had changed to Samuel Gilbert who continued with the same trade.

It may well be that like neighbouring properties it was requisitioned by the military – there was no business there in 1920.  By the mid-1920s Rosie Coombs was running a milliner’s shop  which remained the case for a decade, it was a property shared initially with auctioneer Thomas Jones (who moved to number 8) and then the hairdressers Miss A P Measures.

Around the time World War 2 broke out Vera Boore had taken over the milliner’s shop, she lived around the corner in Leyland Road.  There was no obvious sign of bomb damage on the property, but it wasn’t a business that survived the war, maybe it was the rationing of clothes that saw the business close. 

Another non-retail activity started in 1950 – a Christian Science Reading Room which remained until the demolition company moved in.

32 Eltham Road

In 1905 number 32 was an outpost of Griffith and Co.  This had changed by1911 when it became a tobacconist turn by George Harry Buttler, he was there wife Sarah and daughter Ruby who was a shop assistant in the shop along with a young servant. Like 18 to 28, the shop is not listed as having a business in 1920 – it may well have been with the Army in those years. 

For around a decade it was an extended part of Howard Perceval’s Outfitters (see 34) but by 1935 was a stationer run by Constance Tibbles – she’d given up by the time war broke out again though and was listed as a typist living in Blackheath in 1939.  The supply of stationery had been taken over by David Evans who lived in the newly built Woodyates Road.  It didn’t survive the war though.

The shop was empty for most of the rest of its history apart from a period when the Woods extended from 34.

34 Eltham Road

We’d left the shop and the nursery on the land next door in 1905 with both managed by James Walton. James had been there since at least 1871, probably a few years before.  By this stage James was in his early 70s – whether the land became too much for hm isn’t clear but by 1911 the family business was trading around the corner at 7 Burnt Ash Road.

From 1911, the land and shop were split.  The nursery was cultivated by Walter Wood from Horn Park Farm (immediately above) who also traded at 10 Eltham Road (see earlier in the post). The shop was an outfitter’s run by Howard Percival, little was able to be found out about him – although he is also listed as having a similar business from around 1915 close to Blackheath Station at 3 Lee Road and his wife (Mrs H) having a confectioner close to Lee Green at 129 Lee Road.  He expanded into 32 by 1925 but had gone from the parade within the decade.

By 1935 the Woods had taken over 34 (having moved from number 10) – it isn’t clear whether the was still farming, the land for Horn Park Farm was rapidly being sold for housing development by the Crown – notably the Horn Park Lane area for private sector houses and the area around the original farm for council homes.  Sydney was made bankrupt in 1935/36 but was still listed as a ‘farmer etc.’ in the 1939 Register, living at 3 Guibal Road. The farming may just have been the small holding at 34 – by 1948 it had lost the greenhouses that had been there in the Victorian period. The current location is the paved area of Leegate and the units behind.

There was expansion into 32 by 1950 and the shop and presumably the land seem to have been run by Sydney until around 1960, when he would have been 67.  Walter Burvill took on the shop for is last few years.

It is clear that the parade struggled towards the end.  Certainly, elsewhere in neighbouring streets such as Osberton and Leyland Roads, along with along Eltham Road itself, the Crown Estate was letting the 99 year leases granted in in the mid-1860s run down and the area seems to have become quite neglected. 

Road traffic was increasing too and the shops only allowed for one row of traffic in each direction with a bus stop in front of Reeds – the current road layout with 3 lanes westwards barely copes with traffic volumes at times.  Had they survived longer no doubt the parade would later have come under pressure from transport planners.

At some point in the not too distant future we will turn our attention to what came after – the development (and demise) of the Leegate Centre.

Notes & Credits

  • The ‘story’ of the parade in this and other posts 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 along with the painting of Horn PArk Farm are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright

12 thoughts on “‘Reed’s Corner’ – The Eltham Road Shops Before the Leegate – Part 3 – From 1905

  1. Christine Roseman/Housden

    Absolutely fascinating! My father when he was a boy had a job at Lovibonds off licence and always demonized about working there, I believe he really enjoyed the experience.

  2. leepark4

    Good Evening Paul B.,

    I have much enjoyed your Running Past posts as I was born and bred in the area and much of what you write is either within memory or at least easily imagined from my time there.

    I was born at 4 Lee Park, a large house which had been split into four flats and we occupied the top floor and attic which provided a spacious six rooms plus kitchen. We had to share the WC with the two spinster school teachers who lived in the flat beneath us. We did however have a bath situated in one of the attic bedrooms, I suppose this would have been quite acceptable in the early 1950s and in any case we knew no other!

    The house, of which I have many pleasant memories, was demolished in the very early 1960s. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of the house and very few of the immediate area. I wonder whether you have covered Lee Park in any of your posts which I may have missed.

    Once again many thanks for your interesting articles.

    Duncan Wilson

  3. Susan McCarthy

    Hello Paul

    I always enjoy reading your posts and have, on a couple of occasions, left a comment. Both of these were about the school I attended in Osberton Road, owned by Laura Lindfield. Whenever Miss Lindfield needed to have the accumulator of her Roberts radio charged, my friend Suzanne and I would take it to a shop in Burnt Ash Road. On the way we passed the shops in Eltham Road. One of the first was Wood’s greengrocers, close by was the Christian Science reading room and also a grocers which opened directly onto the pavement, with a roll down metal shutter. Whenever I passed the greengrocers I always had an uneasy feeling as I had encountered Mr Wood while playing in his apple orchard.

    In 1948 my parents had moved into a newly built flat in what, at the time, was called Alnwick Road, a short stretch of road which, several years later, became Gavestone Road. At the time my home was adjacent to a crescent of prefabs called Gavestone Crescent. Just a few prefabs along was an entrance to a large open field that went down to Mottingham Lane. Another section was an apple orchard that went up to the houses in Horncastle Road and was immediately behind my home. This whole area was a wonderful playground for the local children, and the orchard was perfect for making camps and climbing trees. We probably ate a few of the apples but I think they were cookers, as I don’t remember eating many. From time to time the cry, “Mr Wood is coming!” went up, and we all ran for fear of being caught. I have a vague memory of seeing Mr Wood run into the orchard.

    We also had close family friends who, like us, had moved into a newly built home. Theirs was a house in Sibthorpe Road that faced an open stretch of ground and the South Circular. As you enter Sibthorpe Road from Alnwick Road their house was the last in this short first stretch of houses. Whenever we visited I remember them saying that their back garden was always damp because it was on the site of the farm’s duck pond.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Susan
      At some stage I’ll do a post on the small private schools in that area – I was waiting for Lewisham Archives to re-open, but they’ve been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, so may need to think about a plan b.

      I hadn’t realised that bits of the orchards had remained that long, had assumed they had disappeared with the farm house, but obviously not. In 1939 Wood was living in Guibal Road and still listed as a farmer – so presumably there were some bits of orchard still there. Oddly I did something of an update on the post on Horn Park Farm a few weeks ago – a precursor to the posts on Eltham Road. I’ll add some of your memories into it.

      I assume that it was Littlewoods radio at the end of the parade on the eastern side that you went to. It gets a mention in the post I did of that part of the terrace.

      I hadn’t realised that there were so many prefabs around Alnwick Road – the map attached shows them – https://maps.nls.uk/view/102909712

      Thanks for getting in touch – it’s really appreciated.


  4. Pingback: Horn Park Farm – Lee’s Last Big Farm | Running Past

  5. hubertpragnell

    I was born above the shop at 17 Burnt Ash Hill so I wonder if you are likely to feature the parade of shops in Burt Ash Road and Burnt Ash Hill adjacent to Lee Station, just as you have done at lee green and in Lee High Road? I really do appreciate the photographs and more so if the topic featured is unrecognisable toady, as is much of Lee Green.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Probably at some stage although at the moment I am concentrating on Lee Green – Leegate will be the next one. I love doing the shop parade posts but they are very time consuming and I have to ration myself!!

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