Welcome, thank you for visiting!

Running Past is a South East London local history blog – there are occasional posts on running, but in the main, the ‘running’ element is the means of transporting me to the places mentioned in posts.  I am an adopted Londoner, growing up in a former mining town, but I have lived in what used to be the grounds of Lee Place (below) for over 25 years.


Running is a good means of exploring the city, it enables me to be a slightly faster flâneur (Baudelaire’s stroller and observer of the city streets) – I still notice the things I would see walking, but I cover a bit more distance. My historical interest comes with a geographical overlay – I am fascinated by landscapes, particularly the features that have been lost or hidden by the growth of the city.

I write about a variety of things, although there are several clear strands:

  • The local history of the area I live in – the Lee/Hither Green borders, particularly
    • the large country houses and their links to slavery;
    • the farms that pre-dated urbanisation;
    • the pubs, shops, cinemas and churches where people came together
    • some of the house builders who have contributed to the urban landscape
  • Early athletics – from the ‘pedestrians’ who walked prodigious distances in the early 19th century to some of the professional and amateur athletes of the 20th century;
  • During 2018 I am celebrating the centenary of women getting the vote with a series of posts about Lewisham suffragettes;
  • Some of the other radicals who made south east London their home – such as the anarchist and geographer, Peter Kropotkin, who lived in Bromley; and
  • South east London’s  rivers and streams  – I have followed the Quaggy and its (often buried and diverted) tributaries and have moved on during 2018 to another Ravensbourne tributary, the River Pool.


If you go back a year or two you will find a few posts about running, particularly races I competed in.  Such posts are rare now – I tend to Tweet rather than blog about them – this wasn’t really a deliberate choice (although I realised that few people read them) but probably relates to my times getting slower – a combination of the ageing and the recovery process from having my neck broken in early 2015 by a Fiat Punto whose driver failed to understand the significance of a red traffic light next to a pedestrian crossing.


I hope you find what you are looking for, sorry if you didn’t – I can sometimes tell from the WordPress statistics package that there have been disappointments – doing a Google search looking for ‘Haunted Catford’ and then clicking on a link for a Catford ghost sign was never going to end well.


Do interact!  If you think that I have got something wrong or your own local knowledge is better than mine so that a post can be improved, please do tell me, I like feedback!  Comments are easy to make, you only have to register once (you can use your Facebook, Twitter or Google login), the first comment will be moderated so make take a while to appear.

If you like what you have found, why not sign up so that you don’t miss future posts?  There are ‘buttons’ either at the bottom or side (depending on your viewing platform) to follow via

  • Facebook
  • WordPress Reader, do don’t need to write your own blog to have this;
  • E Mail
  • Twitter – this will ‘entitle’ you to a range of other 280 character ramblings and retweets as well as links to new blog posts, although, unless you end up interacting a lot with me, you may miss things as a result of the changes that Twitter made to timelines in Spring 2016.

Similarly, if you think that there is something I should be covering, that I haven’t – do suggest it to me!

If you think that your friends, family, colleagues or people that you once vaguely knew and haven’t got the heart to unfriend on Facebook as you can tell that they aren’t in a good place right now might be interested in any of the posts you have read, please do feel free to share by your preferred social media platform.  There are sharing ‘buttons’ at the bottom of each post – you might have to click on the post title for them to appear.

Thanks for visiting!


45 thoughts on “About

  1. Jim Brennan

    Very cool that you write about things you see while on the run. I wrote a blog post a couple summers ago about the best way to get to know a city and it’s people is by walking, running or cycling. I’m into it.

    1. runner500 Post author

      It is a brilliant way to get to know the City and you can see things, and get to places that you would miss if travelling by car. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Girl Runs Wild

    What a cool idea for a blog! I love exploring the places I visit on foot (preferably on the run!), and it’s great to combine the exercise with the history of the world around us. I’m lucky to live in rural Scotland, so the majority of my runs take me off road and through the most wonderful scenery, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a city run! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    1. runner500 Post author

      South East London has so much history and the best way to see it is on foot, running makes it a bit quicker, but I am also ‘using’ the blog to better understand how the area developed. Thanks for visiting!

  3. simoniancook

    This is a great great blog. I am a geographer who researches running and have long argued that running I’d a great way to explore the world, that runners build up an incredible bank of place knowledge through running, and that running can be productive beyond the exercise bit of it. You bring that all together in your blog and I love it. Keep up the good stuff!

    1. runner500 Post author

      Thanks – running is a perfect way to explore the urban environment, it is slow enough to enable you to see things but fast enough to cover reasonable distances. It is probably the geographer and researcher in me too – historical geography and rivers always fascinated me. It isn’t perfect though – you do miss things, I have been injured for a couple of months following a non running related accident and have been walking a lot and noticed some C18 graffiti in an alley I have run down well over a hundred times before and failed to spot. https://runner500.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/graffiti-ancient-and-modern/

  4. marymills

    Thanks for the nice comments on Greenwich Peninsula History. – er – we are always looking for speakers for Greenwich Industrial History meetings, and I did wonder if historical running and blackheath or whatever might be a useful topic

    1. runner500 Post author

      You are more than welcome in relation to the comments on the Greenwich Peninsula History site, https://greenwichpeninsulahistory.wordpress.com/, it is a site I really like and helps make sense of the history of a fascinating area, it is so important that it is recorded. I would be more than happy to speak on running/pedestrianism on Blackheath at a GIH meeting – I’m guessing it wouldn’t be for a while, let me know if/when you have a date in mind. Hopefully I will have done a bit more by that stage as I have a couple of pieces on the backburner – on some races on Shooters Hill Road, starting at the Earl of Moira (later the Brook) and one on a Blackheath runner called William Gazeley.

  5. Sophie Austin

    Dear Runner500,

    I love your blog and wondered if you might be interested in sharing some of your Hither Green findings with Teatro Vivo. We are a local theatre company and will be staging a new play in a house in Hither Green on Manor Lane this November.

    As part of the show we are creating a soundtrack that captures local voices revealing some local history and stories.

    I was wondering if you might be interested in allowing us to record some of your stories about the area that we can weave into a local soundtrack?

    We are looking for people to join us for a glass of wine next Thursday (3rd November) ( in Hither Green where we will explain a bit more about the project.

    Do let me know if this might be of interest.
    Many thanks
    Teatro Vivo

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Sophie
      Thank you for your kind words.

      You are more than welcome to use material from the blog, it is in the public domain – obviously with proper credits.

      I am not sure whether I will be around next Thursday, but if you send me a DM via Twitter (I will follow) with details I will come if I am free.

      Many thanks


  6. vwalker23

    Hi there! I grew up on Brandram Road and have lots of thoughts about your wonderfully detailed posts. I am hoping you can help with researching the history of Decca Selecta, which was behind the big gates at 125-127 Lee High Road. Transpontine mentioned it briefly: http://transpont.blogspot.com/2015/02/selectadecca-depot-in-lewisham-1974.html

    My mother worked at the Selecta warehouse in the early 1980s but I’ve found out almost nothing about the building or the business or why it was there. One for you to run past, perhaps?

    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you. I was aware of it from Transpontine’s post and it on my list of things to cover eventually. It may need to to wait until I have a bit more time to sift through newspapers and other things that may not be on line.

  7. Lee Manor Society

    It probably hasn’t escaped you to know that there is a move to set up Lee Forum under the Localities legislation. I’ve offered to contribute to the historical appraisal and, with full credit to yourself, there are many useful and informative pieces that you have already covered – we’d like to refer to them. Might you also be interested to look at any draft materials we put together? Thank you, Ralph White, Chairman – Lee Manor Society news@leemanorsociety.org

  8. Kate Sidwell

    Hello there, appreciate this is an old thread but really interested to know more about the anti german riots in deptford in 1914. My german born naturalised great x 3 grandfather ran a bakery on deptford high street called R.Graf. Anyone got any more info please?

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Kate
      It is a post that I plan to go back to as I have access now to a lot more in the way of on-line newspaper archives. It probably won’t be for a few months though, maybe not until the anniversary next autumn. I recall the name though. You could perhaps follow some of the linkages within the post. Will try to remember to let you know when I update.

      Thanks for visiting.


  9. Janet Bounds

    Hi Paul, my mum was born in Plumstead and lived in Lee Green from 1929 until 1955; my grandma was there until 1970. Mum’s memory isn’t what it was these days, but she can still recall in vivid detail her life in Lee Green – playing in the Quaggy, the shops etc. Would you have any objection to me printing out a few of your articles and putting them together as a sort of memory book for her (with your blog reference on the pages)? Many thanks, Janet

  10. S Stephen

    Hi – I just found this website and it’s amazing!

    I was wondering if anyone knows the history of the 3 grand houses on Burnt Ash Hill, near the Crown Tavern. They are 3 storied and pillared. One is a vets, one is under susbstantial renovation having been derelict for some time and the other has been converted into flats.

    I have a personal connection to them and would love to know anything that anyone knows!

    Thank you!

    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you – that’s most kind!

      I’m not sure if you found them but there are a couple of posts that I did on John Pound who build a lot of homes in that area – one on the houses and one on the pubs If it is the houses I think you mean (next to the Crown) there is a photo of one of them in the first of them. While I did wonder then as to whether they were built by Pound, I now suspect that they aren’t. A really helpful comment on the post on the pubs, noted that William Winn built a fair number of homes in the area just south of the Crown including Winn Road, Guibal Road and Corona Road. Only one or two of those survive now. However, as the style of the houses I think that you refer to is not dissimilar to the Crown, I do wonder whether they also might be the work of William Winn – certainly that seem to be land that was a brick field that ended up with a lease bought by Winn.

  11. Sam Cox

    Dear Sir

    Can you confirm where you found the connection between William Coleman/Thomas Lucas and Roundhill? This does not appear elsewhere, even in ‘ Caribbeana’.

    Many thanks

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Sam
      Follow the link below (which was from included in the post on the Manor House) and go to p92, details are there about transfer in 1757 of Roundhill to a group of ‘merchants,’ including Lucas. This isn’t an area of expertise of mine so do let me know if you think that I have misinterpreted something – my interest is in relation to the wealth that slavery brought to Lee, rather than having any detailed knowledge of plantation ownership. https://archive.org/stream/historyofislando03oliv/historyofislando03oliv_djvu.txt

  12. michael Traynor

    I am researching the life of Lady Heath. She was previously Sophie Eliott-Lynn, an athlete of the 1920s. I’m delighted to see she features in a photograph of the 1923 Polytechnic Ladies Athletic Club that is included in the article you detail “The Inaugural Women’s Amateur Athletic Association Championships” . I would be grateful if I could have permission to use it in a book I will be completing next year. Where would I get a high resolution copy of the photograph please?. Do you know who has the original ?. Kind regards and congratulations on such an amazing website. Thank you,
    Michael Traynor.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Michael
      My version came from Rosie Sargent, whose website I linked to. Sadly, in the 4 years since I wrote the post it appears that the site has not been maintained and an error message comes up. It is probably questionable as to whether she owned the copyright anyway – I would try the successor of Polytechnic Harriers who probably won’t mind you using.

      I will e mail you a slightly higher definition of the photo than is on the blog.

      Good luck with the book


  13. Gwen Haberman

    Hi Paul,
    My husband and I are new members of the Blackheath community. We’ve purchased a home along the Kid Brook. We’ve been reading through your blogs about it but can’t ascertain which one it is! I was wondering if I could email you a screenshot of google maps so that you can tell us which part of your blog talks specifically about it.

    Kind regards,

  14. Alex Hancock

    Hi Paul

    I’m a researcher from the University of Westminster searching for more information about the 1921/1922 Olympiads in Monte Carlo. The British teams were formed by students from Regent Street (now Uni of Westminster) and Woolwich (now Uni of Greenwich) Polytechnics. You mention the Poly in your excellent blog post about the WAAA in Downham as well as a student, Florence Ethel Birchenough, who also competed in the Olympiads.

    I note you were fortunate enough to make contact with her great-niece Rosie Sargent, yet it appears that her website is no longer active. It would be great if you could get in touch with us at archive@westminster.ac.uk if you have any further knowledge or contact info.

    PS I live near Catford and have enjoyed these posts – you have a new reader!

    Best regards

    Alex H.

  15. Ana Sutherland

    Hi Paul, I’m venturing into applying for the New Tigers Head national listing. Can I please refer to your relevant blog post, credited of course? Should I use Paul B or could you please let me know a full name to author it?
    Many thanks,

  16. Lee

    Hello. We are trying to find any history on the remnants of the orchard that now is to be found in the gardens of Manor Lane as you come down from Lochaber Hall. Can you point us to anything you may have found?

    1. Paul B Post author

      I will probably do a post on the Lee Manor Farm which the land was part of later this year, or more likely, next year. I’ve got quite a lot on the farm, although not that much specifically on that patch of land. You can see how it was from various Victorian Ordnance Survey maps -via the National Library of Scotland, this is one of several there.

  17. Justin Hannemann

    I live in College Park Close, formerly Clarendon Rise in Hither Green in a very old house that I’m trying to find out more about. Can anyone here point me in the right direction to understand who belonged to the houses and their purpose over the years? My street address is 50 College Park Close, SE13 5HA if that’s helpful

  18. Jon Aldous

    In one of your comments you mention not having proof of the Scudamores having built Parkcroft Rd, among others.
    I live in Parkcroft Road and among the papers I received when I bought the house, there’s a lease for the land between W.J. Scudamore and the Lord Northbrook Estate. It’s from 1913, the year when the road was being built.
    Very pleased to have come across your fascinating site.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you that’s brilliant Jon! Need to update that post at some stage, also got some proof now on Effingham Road. Thank you for dating it too!

  19. Stuart

    Hello. I’m planning on starting a blog on Lewisham history – having wound down my old blog on London in WW1 (greatwarlondon.wordpress.com), I’m looking more locally. I’m mainly aiming to focus on central Lewisham, particularly tracing the evolution of the High Street, so hopefully not too much overlap with you. Just wanted to say hello and let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading your excellent local history blog posts.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Thanks for the kind words Stuart – it’s really appreciated. You are right I generally don’t venture into central Lewisham apart from lost pubs and the Quaggy. It’s quite hard at the moment given lockdown and lack of access to the archives. I spent a couple of days copying photos, Kelly’s Directories and ARP Log last year so have still got quite a lot to use. Let me know when you start posting as it should be interesting – hope it goes well.

  20. mardilouise

    Hello, I have moved to Hither Green from South Africa and am thus completely enthralled by the amazing history around us – most everything is older than South Africa itself! Your blog is wonderful and has enriched my experience of living here immensely. Moreover, I have been able to share this with a most unlikely generation of people: gamers! By way of submitting many of your noted places as “Waypoints of interest” to Niantic games (Pokemon Go, Harry Potter & Ingress) I can use the information you provide to add historic context to places which are visited by gamers around our streets. I would like to suggest an article on historic street furniture – in the hope that we can avoid original pieces disappearing completely. For example: there are still a few cast iron street name signs dotted around. Also, I would be curious to know if there are any old street lamps remaining anywhere?

    1. Paul B Post author

      So glad you are enjoying Running Past! I’ve covered some of these things in passing in posts such as the WW2 air raid siren that it is still there outside St Stephen’s in Lewisham. Along with a few references to boundary markers. I don’t think I’ll be doing any specific posts but cover things like that more on walks – hopefully I’ll be able to do some next year. One great bit of street furniture is the sewer vent, usually referred to as a stink pipe on Springbank Road.

  21. Paul Holmes

    I really appreciate your sight and the amount of time and effort you put into research.
    I grew up in Fernbrook Road from early childhood to late teen from around 1963- 1980 so have many memories of the area from then. Unfortunately I have no photos, as an amateur snapper I know how terrible that statement is!
    All the best.

  22. Carrie

    Hi there, I’ve been trying to find a list of the buildings/streets demolished in Lewisham town centre during the late 1960s.

    My mother’s family lived in what I believe was a terraced house that they had to vacate in 1967 or possibly 1968 – presumably to make way for the shopping centre – however she has forgotten the exact address. Unfortunately there are no other surviving relatives who can help me. Finding that address is key to unearthing my family history, since multiple generations lived there from in the 1920s and it’s likely there would be useful information recorded on the 1921 and/or 1951 census. Since I don’t know the full names of my great or great-great grandparents, I would need to begin my search with that address.

    Do you happen to know where I might find such a list?

    Many thanks, Carrie

    1. Paul B Post author

      Hi Carrie
      First the bad new, there isn’t a list of streets, the 1921 census isn’t due for release until early next year – the digitisation has been held up by COVID. The 1951 census won’t be released for another 30 years.

      The good news is that area is shown on old Ordnance Survey maps –


      The other bit of good news is that it is possible to access the 1939 Register which was collected for rationing – it has a bit less information than a census but should give an address. Let me know her name and I will see what I can find.

      Best wishes


      1. Carrie

        Hi Paul, your prompt and helpful reply is much appreciated.

        Yes I’ve been patiently awaiting the 1921 census in the hope it’ll feature known relatives – however it is possible they weren’t living there yet and then I’m scuppered until 2051. I’ll study those maps, thank you.

        My mother was only born in 1956 and didn’t live in this house until 1957 or ‘58. She has told me the address but it can’t be right because it still exists! Her memory is poor. Unfortunately are no longer on good terms and I can’t ask again.

        I really do appreciate your offer to look on the 1939 Register – you would want to find anyone with the surname Darmanin. Realistically there could be a dozen Darmanin hits at various addresses in Lewisham and neighbouring boroughs, however given the rarity of that name I believe they’d all be relations of mine and hopefully some would be found at the family house that was later demolished.

        The only first names I know for sure are Roland, Victor, Oscar and Leontine. I would be particularly interested in a Margarita (unsure of the spelling) Darmanin because that would be my great and/or great-great grandmother (they may have had the same name) but again, this detail is reliant on my mother’s memory. I’ve found references to the other four in public records, but not her.

        I believe my great-grandmother and grandfather (Walter Salvatore Ethelbert Hill) would have been living elsewhere in Lewisham borough at that time, but their household information would still prove useful in order to confirm my great-great grandmother’s full name.

        Due to mass family estrangement going back generations, I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got. I realise this is complicated and I understand if it’s too much effort!

        Many thanks, Carrie

      2. Paul B Post author

        Hi Carrie
        I’ve drawn a blank I am afraid, I can’t find anyone with the Darmanin surname in Lewisham in 1939 and having had a quick scan over the 1939 Register for those streets can’t see anything close – soemtimes there is some poor transcribing.

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