Author Archives: Paul B

The Sunday ‘Constitutional’ in Lee

For many working class men and often their children and sometimes their wives and girlfriends, the ‘Sunday Constitutional’ was a big part of the weekend.  The ‘Constitutional’ that we are about to follow is that of the Noble family from 49 Lampmead Road in Lee (below) in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their life in Lee formed part of the memoirs of their second youngest child, Phyllis, who went on to become Phyllis Willmott, who trained as a Social Worker and later became a lecturer in Social Policy, frequently contributing to journals such as ‘New Society’. Running Past will return to her life and memoirs several times over the next few months.

The house was rented by Phyllis grandparents who had the large front bedroom as well two uncles and a cousin who shared the rear living room. Phyllis mother and father, Harriet and Alec, shared the smaller second floor bedroom – (based on the dimensions of rooms downstairs) it was probably 3.65 metres by  3.02 metres.  Phyllis and her brother and sister were top to tail in a single bed (1)

Sunday morning started with the smells of the night before – the chamber pot (2) containing her father’s urine from the Saturday night at one of the local pubs, often the Duke of Edinburgh (below – eBay Sept 2017). The toilet was downstairs and outside (3).

Phyllis and her her siblings were allowed briefly into her parents bed before going downstairs with her Mum whilst her Dad was allowed to sleep off some of Saturday night’s beer (4).  Whilst her grandmother cooked breakfast, the men folk gradually gathered and planned the route for the ‘Sunday Constitutional’ – there were generally two routes to the Hare and Billet – either via Lee Green and the Old and/or New Tigers Head– left and right respectively below (6).

Source eBay September 2016

While not mentioned, the route up the the penultimate watering-hole, the Hare and Billet, probably involved other stops in ‘the Village’

d0be2f21-0e8c-4820-8402-bfbee3dac1b6

The alternative route to the Heath and the Hare and Billet was via the Swan (currently Elements and before that Rambles Bar) and the Dacre Arms via what was still known then as Love Lane – now St Margaret’s Passage and Heath Lane – pictured as it would have been then (picture via Pub History)

As with the route via Lee Green, other possible stopping places were not mentioned but may well have included one of the pubs in or on the edge of the now gone old housing of Lee New Town, around Lee Church Street – on these only the Swan (top left) remains, the Greyhound (top right), the Woodman (bottom right) and the Royal Oak all having closed.

Whether the children noticed the early 18th century graffiti at their chest height en route is not known.At each of the stops, the children would have ‘liberal supplies of biscuits and lemonade’ (7). While her mother and father disapproved of other parents who left their children outside in the evenings, the Sunday morning ‘walks’ were regarded as an exception (8). However, it seems that the children were allowed to wander off from the Hare and Billet (above) and throw sticks for the the Cocker Spaniel (who also lived at 49) – if water levels are as they are now, this may have been at at Hare and Billet pond (9), rather than the suggested pond at Whitefield’s Mount (below).

The final drinking stop of the ‘Sunday Constitutional’ was described as an ex-servicemen’s club ‘beyond Whitefield’s Mount’ (22) – the most likely location was Point House Club at Point House on West Grove. The house dates from the 18th century and was once home to Grote family, responsible from Grotes Buildings, it became a hotel in Phyllis’ teens and was to become a nursing home for the Miller Hospital on Woolwich Road after World War Two. It is now flats. (11).

The were a couple of other options, both down the escarpment and off Lewisham Road – the probably linked Point House Club and Institute on the wonderfully named Mount Nod Square (roughly where Morden Mount School is). Also there was the nearby Bentley House Club and Institute on Orchard Hill.

Unlike the pubs, the children (and presumably the dog) were allowed in the club and they remained there until closing time but often had to avail themselves of other, closed, pubs toilets on the long walk back to Lampmead Road (12).

The Noble and, no doubt noble, women stayed at home to cook the Sunday roast, oddly this was done separately in the two parts of the household – Phyllis’ immediate family ate upstairs (13). After dinner, the children went to Sunday school at what was referred to as Boone’s chapel on Lee High Road at the far end of Lampmead Road (14), presumably whilst the menfolk slept off their drink and late lunch. Phyllis recalled her Dad having to be woken up with tea before the men again went to the pub when it reopened (15) – the final session of a ‘heavy’ weekend.

Notes

  1. Phyllis Willmott (1979) Growing Up in a London Village p12
  2. ibid p17
  3. ibid p18
  4. ibid p18
  5. ibid p20
  6. ibid p20
  7. ibid p20
  8. ibid p21
  9. ibid p21
  10. ibid p22
  11. Neil Rhind (1987) The Heath p71
  12. Willmott, op cit, p22
  13. ibid p23
  14. ibid p23
  15. ibid p25
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Market Terrace – The History of a 1930s Shopping Parade

Market Terrace is a 1930s shopping parade which seems slightly out of place in an area where Victorian and Edwardian housing still predominates, it is Arts and Crafts in style with its mock Tudor beams.  The reason for this seemingly suburban outlier on the SE12/13 borders was that the land it was built on remained an orchard and kitchen garden for one of the larger houses in the area Pentland House until sold by Goldsmiths College in the early 1930s.

In addition to the black and white painted first floors, one of the other features of the parade is the fancy wrought iron brackets from which signs are displayed at right angles to the pavement.  There are now quite a few ‘ghosts’ of departed shops.

The Terrace has been my local shopping parade for the best part of three decades, in that time there has been a gradual evolution, changes often not noticed, unless it was a business that I used regularly. The ‘bookends’ of the Launderette and Lee Green Glass remained constants but much has changed in between.  This post explores not only the changes that I have seen but over the period since Market Terrace was built in the mid-1930s.

As we’ll see, for much of its life Market Terrace was the home to traditional shop types – butcher, baker (alas, there was no candlestick maker), grocer, greengrocer and hairdressers.  As was found in the post on Staplehurst Road shops it wasn’t really until the 1970s that this changed significantly.

The launderette is at the Old Road end; oddly it isn’t the long term feature that I had envisaged.  It had only been there a few years when we arrived – If it had coincided with the release of ‘My Beautiful Launderette’ around 1985, it was probably co-incidental.  More likely it was a move of an existing launderette from a little further up Lee High Road towards Lee Green which was there from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s – initially called McClary Easy Self Service Laundry, but latterly, more prosaically, Coin Laundry.

For its first 30 years, the current launderette site was a bakers, initially run by the Fyson family – for most of it was named ‘Bertram Fyson’.    While the name was kept on, Lewisham born Bertrand Fyson had died serving in the RAF in 1942, he had received the Distinguished Flying Cross. From the mid-1960s, it was a second hand car showroom, going through different incarnations each time the Kelly’s Directory was checked.  Before the launderette it seems to have briefly been a Motorcycle showroom – Myers.

272 next door saw only limited variety in its shop types until the early 21st century. It seems to have opened as a confectioner run by a Mrs Wilson until the early 1940s. It became a newsagent just after World War 2 but was listed then listed as a tobacconist until 1980 run by a steady flow of proprietors, none seeming to stay for more than a few years.  This changed in the late 1970s when the shop was taken over by J C Amin, who almost certainly renamed it ‘Jit’s News’ by 1985.  It was probably the first of several Asian-run businesses on the parade, predating the various take-away food shops by perhaps a decade.

It is where we bought our papers (other than an interlude with a shop in Brandram Road which promised to deliver, but frequently didn’t). They were a pleasant couple that ran the shop expanding the sweets, cigarettes and newspapers to the standard local convenience shop fayre. They sold up early in the new millennium, maybe they felt the days of the paper shop were limited; certainly by that stage our reading habits had changed – cutting out local and mid-week papers and a little later moving on line.  Our change in habits was no doubt mirrored by many others, pressure too came from the revamped petrol station over the road which started to sell newspapers and Marks & Spencer branded convenience food.

272 then was home to Gibneys, who stocked similar lines to their predecessors, but they seem to have moved on and by 2012, probably a few years earlier, it was a Polski Sklep – Polish Shop. As it had been over 30 years before, the shop was something of a bellwether, reflecting changes in Lewisham. Since the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 lots of Poles had moved to the Borough, by 2011 there were 4347 Poles here, with Polish the second most frequently spoken language in Lewisham.  While Lee wasn’t one of the major concentrations of Poles, it is not surprising that shops started to open catering to a significant group. During 2018, what appears to be the same shop has been re-branded.

Next door at 274, the shop was a butcher for much of its life – Stendt and Linton, pre-World War 2, R C Hamnett after the end of hostilities – the latter had moved from the next parade of shops up the road at 324 (nearer Lee Green)  where they had been selling meat since 1930.  Hamnetts were part of the Dewhurst Group and remained at 274 until the late 1960s, when it became another butcher, ‘Good Enuf.’  By 1985, possibly a year or two before, the shop front had been split,one side was to become Canton Kitchen – a business that still remains.  The other ‘side’ was a minicab office, Cars of Lee, for many years.  In recent years, though, it has gone through several incarnations – a barber (2012), an international food shop (2014/16) and a beauty salon since then.

No out of town centre shopping parade in South London is now complete without a Southern-US-State Fried Chicken shop of some variety, Market Terrace doesn’t buck this trend.  The first seems to have been one of the south London pioneers of this, Morley’s, set up by a Sri Lankan ‘ex pat’ who lived in Brockley. It may well have been a franchise as it was quickly re-branded as Taste of Tennessee, which it has been there for around a decade.

The shop had started life as a grocer – run initially by the inappropriately named Stanley Butcher, then presumably his son Edgar after World War 2; it changed hands several times after Edgar’s death in the early 1950s.

One of the longstanding shops in the parade was Homesales at 278, the shop had not had tenants for much of its early years but Homesales moved in around 1951, initially trading as furniture dealers, before moving into domestic appliance sales by the mid-1960s and then heating and plumbing. They moved out around the end of the 2000s, their linked building business continued a little further up Lee High Road, on the corner of Lampmead Road until around 2017.

By 2012, probably a little earlier, and the shop front was taken over by Ikinci Adres, a private Turkish club. Behind its black facade it is difficult to know whether the club is still operational.

Next door on the Terrace, 280, started life as what seems to have been a fish and chip shop, in 1936 it had the wonderful name Crusoe’s Modern Fish Buffets, run by the Allaways in 1939, after the war while the fish theme continued it was just as a fishmonger. The trend of supplying cold-blooded animals that live in water, breathe with gills and usually have fins and scales continued into the late 1960s as the shop became Lee Corn Stores. While it isn’t totally clear from the name, it was a pet shop which according to a neighbour who lived above; they described it as ‘very smelly’. While the name continued, Kelly’s Directories from the mid-1970s referred to it as hardware stores.

280 was an off-licence for a while in the 1980s but had become a café by the early 1990s.  It initially traded as Sonny’s Burger hut – from the outside, at least, this seemed to be a bright traditional café – when a café was a caff rather than a purveyor of skinny lattes. It had changed hands by 2012 and had become the ‘Greedy Pig’ although the current signage of ‘Awesome Café’ was there by 2014.

It its early days, 282 was a greengrocer, run by Alice Flanagan who was a 64 year old widow when the 1939 Register was complied. After the war, and probably Alice’s death in 1950, the shop front became a cleaners trading for a while as Kwik Lee Kleaners.  After a short period as car accessories shop, it was taken over by the next door neighbours, Lee Corn Stores.

It was probably separated when 280 became a café and for a while was home to a small supermarkets or convenience store, similar to Jits News lower down, but replacing newspapers for vegetables which were displayed outside the shop – it traded as Grants for much of that time. After being empty for several years it became a seemingly only patchily used gym – Evolve.

Gambling had been illegal on the ‘High Street’ until 1961, and while the change in legislation sounded the death knell for local greyhound tracks such as Charlton and New Cross, betting shops  started to appeared on shopping parades quite quickly.  A firm called Billy White moved into Market Terrace at 284 but the shop was soon taken over by E Coombes, who remained there until around 2011, when they sold some of their more profitable shops to Jennings, who still run the shop.

When 286 first opened, it was a tailor, Reg Collins.  After the Second World War and a brief period as a private lending library, Lee Surplus Stores, an army surplus and camping supplies shop opened in the early to mid-1950s.  It was briefly a foam shop and then a showroom for Young’s Cycles (see below) for a few years.  By the early 1990s, it had become an angling supplies shop which has traded under several names including Lee Angling, Mat’s Angling and currently South London Angling – all have also sold fireworks in the autumn both for those celebrating Bonfire Night and, more recently, Diwali and around the New Year.

One of the longest lasting shops on the parade was the cycle shop opened by Ernie (E. H.)Young in the early 1950s.  Ernie, a keen cyclist, had been operating out of split shopfront at 248 Lee High Road (now Billy Vee) since 1946, when  he was 16,; the shop had been funded by a £20 loan from his father. The shop that he moved into, 290, seems to have been empty for much of its life before – although a greengrocer, Charles Hayden, was there in 1951.

Ernie’s brothers George and Ray became involved in the business and shops were soon opened in Southend Lane, Lower Sydenham, and two locations in Trafalgar Road in Greenwich.  All the shops specialised in lightweight racing bike frames, some built by the brothers.

Ernie expanded into 288 in the early 1960s, that shop had been a ladies hairdresser for virtually all of its previous existence – run in the 1930s by ‘Lynn’ and then Charles Forte and latterly Charles and Lenore.  In the 1980s they also used 286, mainly as a showroom, but I don’t recall it being still there in the early 1990s. The other shops seem to have closed down by the 1980s although they took over a shop in Coney Hall on the Croydon/Bromley borders.

The shop became a well-known part of the community, offering a wide range of cycles, not just the lightweight racing bikes that they started with but children’s bikes (my first contact with Ernie), second-hand bikes, servicing and accessories.  On days that I didn’t run to work, I would often see Ernie cycling in the opposite direction down Verdant Lane, heading towards the shop.  The business was passed onto his son who sold it on in the late 1990s to Bob Donnington who had worked for another well-known local cycling name, Holdsworth.  The Young’s name lived on until the early 2000s, when it was renamed The Bike Shop. It is still a cycle shop, Pedal It, who still tries to emulate the business ethos that Ernie created, although has retreated back into a single shop front – 288 was used briefly as a printers but opened at the end of 2018 as a hair and beauty salon.

Ernie died in 2015 but the ‘ghost’ of the original shop lived on until late 2018, until then, there was the small sign of a departed shopkeeper hanging from a wrought iron bracket .  The name lives on too in Coney Hall, although the business is no longer in the family,

The last shop on the parade is currently Lee Green Glass which has been there since the early 1980s, along with workshops behind.  It had started life as a wallpaper retailer, Lilias, that had evolved into an ironmonger then a builder’s merchant by the mid-1950s.  It was then Crawford’s Domestic Stores for two decades before Lee Green Glass took over.  While not picked up during the trawls through the Kelly’s Directories, it appears that latterly Crawfords was a skateboard shop.

The ‘story’ of the Market Terrace has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by the Lewisham Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the Parade opened for business around 1936.  These Directories go up to the mid-1980s.  More recent jogging of memories has been via the ‘back catalogue’ of Google’s StreetView which has passed Market Terrace several times since 2008.

If you think that I have got anything wrong or have memories of any of the shops please use the comments field below or in Facebook thread or Twitter post you reached here from. I’ll include some of them when I update the post.

Thanks and Credits

Thank you to Peter Underwood from the Classic Lightweights cycling website for the use of the early photograph of Ernie Young’s shop– if you want to know more about Ernie Young, and more particularly the bikes he built- it is a fascinating read. But more generally is an interesting site about racing cycling brands and shops from that era.

Thank you to the always helpful Lewisham Archives, particularly Julie Robinson, for access to the Kelly’s Directories.

Census, 1939 Register  and related data comes via Find my Past

Suffragette City – Getting the Vote

During 2018 (and just before) Running Past has looked at the activities of the Lewisham Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) branch and many of its activists. In this last post on the Lewisham’s militant suffragettes, which coincides with the centenary of the first General Election that women were able to vote in on 14 December 1918,  we look at the first electoral registers that they appeared in and those early elections that women were able to vote in.

The Electoral Registers

Sadly, Lewisham’s electoral registers for 1918 and 1919 seem to not have been retained – annual electoral registers were introduced in the Representation of the People Act of 1918); the earliest post-women’s suffrage records that Lewisham’s Archives possess are an addendum to the 1919 Electoral Register and the full Register of 1920. The previous Lewisham Register had been collected in 1915.  As part of the research for this post, the Electoral Registers of the addresses of all the key activists were reviewed to see who was there, and who was entitled to vote in 1920.

In virtually all of the properties where the suffragette activists had lived before the war the WSPU member and their household have moved on.  It had been thirteen years since Eugenia ‘Jeannie’ Bouvier had set up the Lewisham WSPU branch, and at least 6 years since most of the women had been actively involved in the WSPU.   The exodus was not surprising, as around three quarters of housing nationally was privately rented in 1918, and it was a sector with relatively little security of tenure, so moving home was relatively common.

7 Oakfield Road (above) had been the home of May Billinghurst – it was the address given at her various arrests and that used when May was secretary of the Greenwich WSPU branch.  Her father had died in 1912 (the top Register in the group above was for that year) and the family had moved on by the end of World War 1.  The Marsdens were living there with Henrietta’s name appearing on the 1920 Electoral Register, in part, at least due to a previous occupant’s sacrifices.

At 62 Manor Park (above), the Leighs had been replaced by the Coates.  Even had the Leigh’s still be there the Miss Leigh in charge of selling ‘Votes for Women’ (it was never clear which of the sisters it was) would not have appeared in 1920 as Cornelia would have been 29 and Gladys 27 – both younger than the 30 year old qualifying age for women voting.    The differences in the two registers is clear though with the large number of women appearing in the 1920 variant.

Perhaps the most militant of Lewisham’s suffragettes, or at least the one with the most brushes with the law, was Clara Lambert.  The Lamberts had moved on from the family home at 174 Glenfarg Road by 1916 (they weren’t there in the 1916 Kelly’s Directory) where they have moved in around 1906.  The beneficiary of suffragette activities there in 1920 was Kathleen Tidy.

The Berlin Road that Christina Campbell had lived in was no more, it had been renamed Canadian Avenue after the War.  The occupants in 1920 were the Cowells; Alice Cowell was to appear on the Electoral Register there in 1920, along with several male household members.

114 Burnt Ash Hill (below) had been home to the Llewhellin’s, they had moved on although what was, perhaps, more interesting in terms of social history was that the extent to which houses had been subdivided since 1911 into flats.  In 1911 the Llewhellins had been the only house split, this seems to have happened after Arthur’s early death in 1906.  By 1920, virtually all the houses in that part of Burnt Ash Hill had been divided into flats.

32 Mount Pleasant Road, had been home to the founder and stalwart of the Lewisham branch, Eugenia (Jeannie) Bouvier.  Jeannie was still just at Mount Pleasant Road in 1920, there were adverts offering Russian tuition there in the Workers’ Dreadnought in early 1921.  However, the only name on the Electoral Register for 32 in 1920 was George Lapman; it is quite possible that despite her years devoted to the struggle she never became a British Citizen.  In any case, she returned to Russia late in 1921, and, as we will cover later, she would never have had the opportunity to vote in a Parliamentary election anyway.

The only active Lewisham WSPU member that remained in the home she was active from was Caroline Townsend.  Caroline and her sisters, Annie and Hannah, had been living at 188 Malpass Road, but had moved to 27 Murillo Road (pictured below) ahead of the 1911 census.  They had presumably bought the house as Annie and Hannah were on the elector register for County and Local Council elections in 1915 – the 1894 Local Government Act had given the small number of women who were homeowners non-Parliamentary voting rights. But the 1920 Register saw the former Branch Secretary on the Elector Register too.

The Elections

The first election under the new rules brought in by the Representation of the Peoples Act that meant women over 30 (and all men over the age of 21, plus all soldiers of 19 or over) could vote was held on Saturday 14 December 1918. The election had been due in 1916 but had been postponed due to the war. There was subsequent legislation, which received Royal Assent in November 1918, which allowed women to stand for election – the age limit was to make little sense in that women over 21 were able to stand for Parliament but couldn’t vote until they were 30.

While many women up and down the country exercised their right to vote – a few stood for election including Christabel Pankhurst standing for the short-lived Women’s Party in Smethwick and one, Constance Markievicz, of Sinn Fein won a Dublin seat although like other members of the party she didn’t take her seat.

In Lewisham though, there were no elections, and women had to wait to exercise their vote for the first time in Parliamentary terms at least.  In both Lewisham East and Lewisham West there were Conservative Coalition Candidates who were elected unopposed Assheton Pownall and Sir Edward Feetham Coates respectively.

The reason for the unopposed election lay within the Coalition of Conservatives and part of the Liberal Party that had emerged from World War One.  Most Conservatives, some Liberals and a couple of Labour candidates were given what were referred to as ‘Coalition Coupons’ which meant that they were not opposed by other parts of the coalition.  The Conservative candidates in both the Lewisham constituencies had Coalition Coupons.

The constituencies of Lewisham East and Lewisham West were not wildly different to their current counterparts; Lewisham East consisted the following wards – Blackheath (Blackheath north of the railway), Church (centred around St Margaret, Lee), Manor (much of the present Lee Green ward), South (Grove Park and south Lee), along with parts of Lewisham Park (Hither Green), and some of Catford (the largely rural area to the south of Brownhill Road).  Lewisham West consisted of Brockley, Forest Hill, Sydenham, and the remaining parts of the wards of Catford and Lewisham Village.

The first election then that Lewisham’s women and poorer men would have been able to vote in were the London County Council (LCC) elections on 6 March 1919.  The LCC was a forerunner of the current Great London Authority, albeit over a smaller area and having very different responsibilities. The Conservatives and Liberals didn’t stand in the LCC elections using what were effectively proxy parties, Municipal Reform and Progressive Party  as surrogates.  In Lewisham West the two Municipal Reform candidates narrowly defeated those put up by the Progressives.  In Lewisham East, as in several other constituencies, Municipal Reform candidates were elected unopposed.

So, for the women of Lewisham East, there was an even longer wait, until the Borough Elections in November 1919 to be able to put their marked voting slips into a ballot box.

In Parliamentary terms, the first time that Lewisham women had a vote was in a by election in Lewisham West in September 1921, following the death of Sir Edward Coates.  This was a slightly odd affair – with the Conservative, Phillip Dawson, then known as Unionist, candidate just holding off the Anti-Waste League, backed by the Daily Mail owner in protest against what it saw as high levels of Government spending; a Liberal candidate also stood.   The National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship, the successor of the non-militant National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, had held a public meeting during the campaign with all three candidates speaking.  In the end the NUSEC decided not to back any candidate.

In Lewisham East, the first Parliamentary vote in the constituency was not until the General Election of 1922,  but like buses, three came along quite quickly with further elections in 1923 and 1924. The Conservative/Unionist Sir Assheton Pownall was returned on each occasion, he was finally defeated by Labour’s Herbert Morrison in 1945.

Credits

  • The press cutting is  from The Times of Thursday, Sep 08, 1921
  • Access to the Electoral Registers was via the always helpful Lewisham Archives, the help was particularly beneficial on this occasion, as I had failed to notice the early registers in a separate cupboard.

36 Old Road – A Story of Buses, Toffee, Crash Repairs and the Lord Mayors Show

Next to the Old Road entrance to Manor House Gardens, more or less opposite Bankwell Road, is a nondescript gateway; currently it is to a building site where work has been paused for a couple of years. Before that, for 25 years or so, it had been home to the crash repair workshop of Penfolds Vauxhall dealership. It is a site with a varied history which will be explored here.

The site had been part of the estate of one of the large country houses of Lee, Cedar House, which was on what is now the north western corner of Aislibie Road. It originally had an estate that the covered the western side of Aislibie Road, down to the Quaggy. James Halliburton Young, had lived there from 1841, perhaps a few years earlier, probably until his death in Ceylon in 1883; he had largely merged the estate with that of the neighbouring Lee House. Apart from the area around the Cedar House itself, the rest of the combined estate was sold for development in the 1880s.

The rump of the estate of Cedar House was itself sold for development in the early 1890s, while the House was still standing in the 1891 census, but marked as unoccupied. The houses on the eastern side of northern end of Aislibie Road and the southern side of the eastern end of Old Road were built by a Surbiton based builder. There remained a small area behind it which was used by a variety of industrial uses – it is shown below as the grey area to the south of Old Road (on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland)

The first occupants appear to have been Thomas Tilling’s bus company, they seem to have moved into 36 Old Road soon after Cedar House had been sold. This was around 1901, or perhaps slightly before, when the use was listed as omnibus stables in Kelly’s Directory.

Thomas Tilling was a large pre-nationalisation bus company which had its roots in horse drawn carriages in the 1850s.  Within a few years of moving to Old Road they had 7000 horses in around 500 stables, of which Old Road was just one. In the Lewisham, Lee and Blackheath area they had bases in

  • Grotes Place, Shooters Hill Road and Tranquil Vale in Blackheath;
  • The Salisbury Yard in Lewisham; and
  • Brandram Road, Carsten Mews, Lee Road, Lee Green as well as Old Road in Lee.

Source – eBay November 2018

They expanded into motor buses from 1904, which rapidly replaced horse drawn transport; horses only lasted another 10 years, when the remaining ones on a route from Honor Oak to Peckham were conscripted. Many of sites used by the firm were sold or relinquished as the need for stables disappeared. The Shooters Hill Road site has been given up by 1914 (1).

Old Road was retained though, changing from a stables to a small coach works. The other main local site at the time was Salisbury Yard, behind the Sailsbury pub on the High Street which was the main local garage until Tillings took over Catford Bus Garage in 1920. Salisbury Yard, became a bus factory, known as Obelisk Works. Tillings stayed in Old Road until the late 1920s. The remains of the stables though were visible until the housing started to be developed around 2015, they are pictured to the right in the Planning Application for the site.

After Tillings moved out the new occupants from 1929 were J Whitehouse and Co, who were Confectionery Contractors. Sadly, little is known about the company, they certainly weren’t a well known brand and presumably made either for others or loose, unbranded chocolates and sweets.

One local memory of the factory was of a neighbour in Aislibie Road, when the former neighbour was a child they recalled being given free toffee through a now bricked up doorway.

Whitehouse and Co remained in Old Road for almost 30 years, they were still listed in the 1948 Kelly’s Directory, but had gone the following year.  The reasons for their departure aren’t certain. However, like all sweet manufacturers they are likely to have struggled during and after World War 2. Sweets and chocolates were rationed, with allowances varying between 16oz (454g) and 8oz (227g) per month from 1942 during the war, and 12oz (340g) after 1945.

The site seems to have been empty for several years but was then taken over by John Edgington and Co Marquee Manufacturers. Unlike their predecessor, it is a company that has a well documented history. The roots of the company go back to the early 19th century – there were three linked companies all carrying out a similar business in relation to marquees, tents, flags and related products. It started with two brothers Benjamin and Thomas who set up a partnership around 1805; the partnership was dissolved in 1823 but the trade continued in two separate companies.

John Farncombe Edgington was the second son of Thomas, his older brother, also Thomas started his own, business which John assisted with.  John was born in February 1817, his father had been working in Tooley Street in the canvas trade since 1805. By 1832 Thomas’ business was operating from 108 Old Kent Road – a location where the firm traded from until the Bricklayers Arms flyover was built in the late 1960s.

Business grew rapidly with the opening of railways and the use of tarpaulins on trucks. They had high profile clients for their tents in the the shape of Dr. David Livingstone’s first expedition.

Thomas (Jnr) died of an unintentional poisoning in 1852 and his father five years later. This led to John taking control of and merging both the businesses by 1862. John Edgington only lived for another 8 years, he died of pneumonia and exhaustion in 1870. The name though was to live on for another century. The firm was run subsequently by the Hilton family, who were business partners of John Edgington – they supplied Scott’s ill fated expedition to the Antarctic.

From the late 19th century there was a rather macabre part to their business – suppliers of the rope used hangmen. Adverts for their camping equipment appeared in the trade press, including this one in the 1929 British Industries Fair catalogue (via Grace’s Guide on a Creative Commons).

In October 1976 the firm indirectly reformed the single company set up by Thomas and Benjamin in 1805. Benjamin’s firm had been bought out by the camping firm Black’s to form Black and Edgington in 1967. The successor of Thomas, John Edgington and Co merged with Black and Edgington in 1976.

The partial move to Old Road was around 1955; the site seems to have been empty since 1949 (there are no entries in the Kelly’s Directories for the intervening years. ) In the early years it was listed as “John Edgington and Co Marquee Manufacturers”, presumably carrying out some part of the core business. Oddly, they weren’t mentioned in 1960 and when the listing reappeared in 1965 it was listed as a workshop for John Edgington (Exhibitions) Ltd. Their work included making floats for the Lord Mayors Shows. The footage from 1980 may well include floats constructed in Old Road.

The exhibitions section had been set up in 1851, a centenary was celebrated in 1951, oddly with a horse brass (source eBay September 2018).

Edgington’s remained in Old Road until the late 1980s when, Penfolds Motors who had sold their site at Lee Green to Sainsburys, bought a series of sites in the area – including this one for crash repairs, and, 100 metres away a showroom on the corner of Bankwell Road and Lee High Road.  Running Past will return to Penfolds at some point in the future, but if the pause button is ever taken off the housing development, this is what it will look like (Source – Planning Application).

Note

  1. Neil Rhind (1983) Blackheath Village and its Environs , Volume 2 p 401

Census and related data come via Find My Past

Kelly’s Directorys were accessed via the always helpful Lewisham Archives

Suffragette City – Blackheath

Running Past has been celebrating the centenary of (some) women ‘getting the vote’, looking at some of the awe inspiring women that were involved in the struggle in Lewisham as well as a number of posts about the branch itself and area based actions within Lewisham, Hither Green and Lee.

Blackheath, as has already been covered, was active during the late 19th century attempts to advance women’s suffrage including bills by local resident  John Stuart Mill and various petitions including one in 1866. Blackheath also had a moderately active branch of the non-militant National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, which was looked at a few weeks ago. Also covered have been one of Blackheath’s most famous suffragette daughters, Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being trampled over by the King’s horse at the Derby in 1913; as well as May Billinghurst. May was a well-known, and visible, figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) through her invalid tricycle who was imprisoned for a pillar box outrage on Aberdeen Terrace. This post looks at other WSPU activity within Blackheath.

Perhaps the most important element of Blackheath for WSPU activity was the Heath itself and notably, Whitefield’s Mount. It offered the opportunity for large meetings in a location that was free.  The Lewisham WPSU branch was able to attract many of the leading lights nationally to speak on the Heath.

One of the early meetings there was in May 1908 (1). when Jeannie Bouvier, Caroline Townsend and Nancy Lightman (who spoke several times around Lewisham – including at Lee a couple of months later) (2). They should have spoken at Whitefield’s Mount but were attempts to take over crowd by a group of male Young Socialists – so the WSPU moved to a different ‘mound’ – it should be remembered that before World War 2 the surface of the Heath was much more serrated.

Greenwich resident, Edith New (left – on a Creative Commons) spoke on 17 May 1908 and kept ‘unruly elements’ in check by ‘her ready wit and cleverness of repartee’ in a meeting designed to help publicise a demonstration in Hyde Park that summer (3).  She was to smash windows at 10 Downing Street a couple of weeks later and, along with Mary Leigh (see below) was one of the first suffragettes imprisoned for damage like this.  By August 1908 ‘Votes for Women’ noted that attendances were growing for the meetings and that women of all walks of life were attending the Sunday afternoon meetings on the Heath. Winifred Auld was ‘quite a favourite’ as a speaker (5).

The first reports of organised disruption were reported in November where ‘rowdy elements’ tried to disrupt a meeting where Evelyn Sharp was the speaker on child labour to a crowd of 2,000 (7).

Helen Ogston, who used a whip to try to prevent her removal from the Albert Hall following heckling when Lloyd George refused to make a pledge on votes for women in early December 1908. She spoke about events at Albert Hall and gave a passionate defence of militant action a couple of weeks later at Whitefield’s Mount (8).

Mrs Tanner (pictured, centre above – (9)) spoke at a rally at Whitefield’s Mount on Sunday 20 June 1909 as a part of the building for the mass deputation to attempt to present a petition and speak to Asquith on 29 June 1909 (10).  She had been arrested the previous year during a suffragette ‘raid’ of the House of Commons. There were also meetings at Lee Green, which Eugenia Bouvier and Grove Park resident, Lizzie McKenzie, spoke at, as well as in Lewisham Market where a Miss Smith provided the encouragement which was to mark the start of more militant activity around Westminster. Over 100 were arrested including Emmeline Pankhurst.

Mrs Tanner, who was secretary of the Brixton WSPU, was the speaker again at the last Sunday afternoon meeting of 1909 on 21 November 1909. ‘Several thousand’ came to hear her and Eugenia Bouvier, although there were again attempts as disruption by ‘rowdy youths.’ (11)

The biggest meeting on the Heath, again at Whitefield’s Mount, was in the summer of 1912 when around 30,000 attended a rally attended by Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst, Flora Drummond and Georgina Brackenbury.

Christabel Pankhurst in her report of the rally made parallels with previous rallies of rebels on the Heath – particularly with the speech of John Ball delivered at Whitefield’s Mount.

Wat Tyler and his men were defeated by fraud. They went home too soon. We women must continue to demonstrate until the charter of our freedom is on the statute book. (12)

Hundreds of young men from Guy’s in white boaters came to disrupt the rally, they congregated in front of the lorry stage that Christabel Pankhurst was due to speak from. Jeannie Bouvier, and other Lewisham WSPU members held the fort there, whilst Pankhurst spoke from a different lorry, much to the annoyance of the students. Georgina Brackenbury, Miss Tyson and Flora Naylor spoke at the other three lorries (13).

Whitefield’s Mount wasn’t the only open air local location on the Heath used by the WSPU, Mary Leigh (arrested and imprisoned with Edith New, see above) and Emily Davison held a ‘successful’ open meeting on Blackheath Hill, presumably either at The Point or in front of the Green Man (pictured (15)).

The most badly disrupted meeting was at Blackheath Concert Halls (below) in October 1909 where the speakers were Emmeline Pethwick Lawrence, editor of Votes for Women, and Constance Lytton, one of the more aristocratic members of the WSPU. It was an important meeting for the Lewisham WSPU and the branch had been selling tickets for a couple of months (16).

The meeting was chaired by Jeannie Bouvier but the police had to be called when medical students broke up seating and let of stink bombs and fireworks (17). While the branch had to pay £12 for damage to furniture and fittings caused by ‘rowdies’ at the meeting, they still made £15 for the group’s funds from the meeting (18).

There was a physical presence in the Village – the WPSU branch had a shop for a while  at 72 Tranquil Vale which served a useful purpose in terms of propaganda however seemed rather ill equipped, lacking table and enough chairs (19).

Source – eBay (Sept 2016)

The branch was later to use a shop at 5 Blackheath Village, previously used by the NUWSS (pictured above) opposite the station – in 2018 the ‘home’ of Winckworths.

Notes

  1. Votes for Women 30 July 1908
  2. Votes for Women 28 May 1908
  3. Votes for Women 21 May 1908
  4. On a Wikipedia Creative Commons
  5. Votes for Women 20 August 1908
  6. On a Wikipedia Creative Commons
  7. Votes for Women 5 November 1908
  8. Votes for Women 17 December 1908
  9. Photograph via Museum of London who own the copyright, but usage in non-commercial research such as this is permitted.
  10. Votes for Women 18 June 1909
  11. Votes for Women 26 November 1909
  12. Votes for Women 21 June 1912
  13. ibid
  14. Votes for Women 21 October 1910
  15. From Greenwich Photo History Wiki
  16. Votes for Women 10 September 1909
  17. Kentish Mercury 15 October 1909
  18. Votes for Women 5 November 1909
  19. Votes for Women 11 June 1909

Lee House to Lee Centre – the Story of a Small Part of Lee

The Lee Centre is an elegant late Victorian building at the junction of Aislibie and Old Roads in Lee. It is currently used by a couple of voluntary sector organisations. Both the building, and its predecessors on the site, have interesting stories – this blog post outlines the history. 

The site was for centuries ‘home’ to Lee House, a medieval mansion that was probably the last building showing on the bend of the main road on the southern side of John Rocque’s map from the 1740s (see below (1)). This was, of course, before Lee High Road was straightened following the breakup of the estate of Lee Place in 1824. At that point Old Road was given its current layout.

The original Lee House was probably a Tudor mansion and was known to have rush and clay partition walls (2).   Relatively little is known about the early history of the House although it was to become one with Republican links – it was home to the family of one of the Regicides of Charles I (3) and then owned by the slave owner and trader, Maurice Thomson.  Running Past has already covered Thomson and his brother George who may have built Lee Place and who also had clear links to slavery.

In the early 18th century the House was owned by the Lewin family (4), then home to the Huguenot Jamineau family (5) and later to City merchant and Alderman Sir George Champion (6). Champion’s daughter Mary was to marry Sir Thomas Fludyer in 1742 who inherited the house (7), presumably on George Champion’s death in 1754.

Sir Thomas Fludyer was brother of Samuel who lived at Dacre House, more on him at some stage in the future. Thomas was elected as MP for Great Bedwin in 1767, a seat that he swapped for his brother’s Chippenham seat on the latter’s death in 1768 (8). He died the following year in Hackney although his body was buried in Lee (9). Lee House was left to his daughter, Mary, better known by her married title, Lady Dacre.  She was to live at the eponymous House, further up the hill towards St Margaret’s Church. Her time in Lee will be considered in more details in a future post on Dacre House.  The House was sold on by the early 1770s to Henry Pelham (10).

Pelham was the nephew of two Prime Ministers – his namesake who died in office in 1754, as well as the Duke of Newcastle.  Lee’s Henry Pelham had been briefly an MP, but by the time he moved to Lee was Commissioner of Customs in 1758, a role he continued in until the 1788 retiring on a pension of £761 (worth around £1.4m at 2018 values). Henry Pelham died in 1803.

Around 1807 (11) the House was bought by the banker and MP for Taunton, William Morland; he died in 1815 with his wife remained at the house until her own death in 1826. The House was then inherited by their grandson Sir Francis Bernard Morland.

Sir Francis demolished the old house within a year or two, along with a neighbouring house on Lee High Road which had previously been home to Alexander Rowland, the barber who popularised the use of Macassar Oil, who had died there in 1823. As F W Hart noted, many of the older houses in Lee had been considerably extended over the years (as we have seen with Pentland House) but done in a way that didn’t meet the aspirations of the wealthy early Victorian Kent country gentleman. The realignment of the road provided the ability to design a home with a sweeping drive and gatehouse so gave added impetus for change.

Like its predecessor, no images of the House seem to exist, but from late 19th century Ordnance Survey maps at least, it appeared quite grand with a gatehouse (12) – Lee House is the unnamed large house below the right ‘E.’

While Sir Francis Morland lived on to the ripe old age of 86,  he moved on relatively quickly, as the occupant of the eight acre estate for much of the 1830s and 1840s were the Stuarts – William Forbes Stuart, a Scottish  ‘merchant,’ and his wife Hannah.  In 1841 they were living there with two grown up daughters a relative and eight live-in servants.  The Stuarts (incorrectly spelled Stewart) were still there in the 1851 census; while their children had moved on, they had a retinue of 14 servants, including a pair of lodge keepers.

The Stuarts seem to have sold up in the 1850s and moved to Brighton.  The purchaser was James Halliburton Young, a Justice of the Peace. he probably never lived there but he certainly added some of the land of Lee House to his estate at Cedar House which was situated on what is now the opposite side of Aislibie Road, and no doubt will be covered at some stage in Running Past.  It is the collection of buildings between Lee House and Manor House on the Ordnance Survey map above.

It isn’t clear who was at Lee House in 1861; it may well have been empty when the census enumerators called. In the 1871 Lee House was home to James and Anne Dale – it was clearly a time before contraception – there were 13 surviving children between 18 and just born living at the House along with 3 live-in servants.

By 1881, while the Youngs were still next door, there was no mention of the House in the census, part of the site had already been sold off – the census lists St Margaret’s Home whose inhabitants included a curate.  By the late 1880s, the house had been demolished and what is now Lee Centre at least had its foundation stone, with the grounds sold for the housing of Aislibie and Lenham Roads.

Part of the land was bought by the widow of George Barnes Williams, Helen, ‘For the use and benefit of the men and lads of Lee.’  The building is now known as the Lee Centre.

George Barnes Williams is a name that has already had a passing reference in Running Past in that he was living at ‘Belmont’ (The House that Named the Hill) when the census enumerators called in 1871. He was an architect and surveyor, with a business based in Westminster.  He was best known for his input into the refurbishment of the Mercers Hall between 1877 and 1881.

In 1881 he and his wife Helen were living at 14 Brandram Road. George died in 1887.  In addition to what is now the Lee Centre, it appears that Helen paid for a window at St Margaret’s Lee in his memory.  Helen seems to have lived on at Brandram Road until her own death in 1894.

From the outset there was a chess club based there, which was to be a feature at the Institute for at least 30 years, meeting initially on Monday and Thursday evenings (13).   In addition to chess, there seems to have been a football team based there for a while (14), and an athletic club was based there in 1892 which met on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (15).  How long the football and athletics clubs lasted is not clear, as there was only one mention for each in the local press. In its early days of operation the building was also used by Lee Dispensary – it was listed in the Kelly’s Directories there between 1895 and 1900.  Certainly, when it was first considered by planners in 1888, the application from Helen Williams, was in relation to setting up a Cottage Hospital (16) so this may have been a relic of the original application.

While initially it seems that the Institute was an independent one, by 1927 it had come under the wing of St Margaret’s Church whose parish rooms were then next door.  The building was still home to the Chess Club which lasted there until 1930; the 1937 Kelly’s saw a solitary mention of St Margaret’s 1st Lee Scouts being based there.

While the Scout group only appeared once in Kelly’s Directory, it seems to have been a feature there until the early 1960s, before the group moved to the then newly acquired Kingswood Halls. The building continued to be used to store camping and other equipment for Scout and Guides until at least 1960.

The building was also used for storage by a father and son painting firm, Charles and Gordon Payne, in the late 1950s and 1960s, perhaps earlier. They lived in Dacre Park as war broke out in 1939 and continued to use a hand cart to transport materials around Lee into the 1960s when motorised transport had become the norm.

The Working Men and Lads suffix lasted until 1953, by which time the building was just known as St Margaret’s Lee, Church Institute – a name which lasted in Kelly’s until 1980 by which time it was referred to as the Lee Centre.  The mosaic above the door probably dates from around then – it certainly wasn’t there in 1979 when photographed.

By this stage, the building was being used Goldsmiths College as a Community Education Centre, as part of their Department of Adult Studies. This had started in 1973 and continued until around 1991, the activities run from there included several reminiscence projects during the 1980s.  The building was also used for some Lewisham Council run Adult Education courses up until around the mid-1990s.

In the more recent past it has been home to several voluntary sector groups – notably the Arts Network whose work was aimed at people with enduring mental health support needs and sought to provide ‘a supportive welcoming space for participants to explore their creativity.’ It often opened its doors to the public as part of Lee Green Open Studios, with the upper floor providing a pleasant airy space for displaying art. The project has now moved on to the Leegate Centre.

At the time of writing (late 2018) the building was being used by Ubuntu, a Black social history project and Family Health Isis, a mental health project.

It is a lovely building, although, oddly, neither Listed nationally by English Heritage or locally by Lewisham – it is certainly at least as worthy as the Grade II listed Lochaber Hall a couple of hundred metres away.

Notes

  1. Map from information board at Lee Green
  2. Edwin and Josephine Birchenough (1968) Two Old Houses of Lee – Dacre House and Lee House p68
  3. ibid p68
  4. ibid p71
  5. ibid p72
  6. ibid p73
  7. ibid p78
  8. ibid p78
  9. ibid p79
  10. ibid p94
  11. ibid p97
  12. The map is on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland
  13. Kentish Mercury 18 October 1895
  14. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper 15 January 1899
  15. Kentish Mercury 25 March 1892
  16. Kentish Mercury 17 August 1888

Census and related data comes via Find My Past

Kelly’s Directorys were accessed via the always helpful Lewisham Archives

Blackheath’s Suffragists – From John Stuart Mill to a ‘Pilgrimage’

During 2018, Running Past has been celebrating some women getting the vote in 1918.  The focus so far has largely been on the Lewisham Branch of the Women’s’ Social and Political Union (WSPU).  This post looks at both those who came before the WSPU and some of those who disagreed with the approach of the WSPU in terms of direct action including damage to property –the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) – they were the suffragists rather than suffragettes.  As there was a clear Blackheath link to the early campaigning for votes for women, we’ll look at the Blackheath branch of the NUWSS too.

One of the earliest proponents of women’s suffrage in Blackheath was John Stuart Mill.  He seems to have moved to 113 Blackheath Park soon after his marriage to Harriet Taylor in 1849.  He was to live there for around 20 years – including much of the time that he active in work on women’s suffrage and other issues around the emancipation of women.  Although after Harriet’s death in 1858 her daughter, Helen Taylor acted both as his housekeeper and secretary, living at 113 Blackheath Park – she worked with his on his treatise The Subjection of Women.

The house is still there, a Grade II listed building, although very secluded by trees

Mill stood in the 1865 General Election as the Radical candidate for the Westminster seat in Parliament and was elected. Once in the Commons Mill campaigned with others  for parliamentary reform and in 1866 presented the petition organised by Barbara Bodichon, Emily Davies, Elizabeth Garrett and Dorothea Beale in favour of women’s suffrage.  The petition was the first mass petition for Votes for Women presented to Parliament – it contained just over 1500 signatures – including around 10 from Blackheath and neighbouring parts of Lewisham.

  • Dean, Ellen – Blackheath
  • Laird, Ellen – 22 Woodlands Terrace Blackheath S.E.
  • Laird, E. B. – 22 Woodlands Terrace Blackheath S.E
  • Lindley, Caroline – Kidbrooke Terrace Blackheath
  • Strahan, Elspet – Eliot Lodge Blackheath S.E.
  • Taylor, Helen – Blackheath Park S.E.(Mill’s Stepdaughter)
  • Drayson, A – 17 Essex Terrace Lee S.E.
  • Ellis, L – 17 Essex Terrace Lee S.E.
  • Lewin, E. – 12 Blessington Road Lee Kent
  • Harman, Emmeline L. – 2 Limes Grove North Lewisham

The petition, pictured below, was defeated but Mill added an amendment to the 1867 Reform Act that would give women the same political rights as men, this too was defeated.

There is a slightly tenuous women’s suffrage and Blackheath in a link to Millicent Garrett Fawcett (pictured below); along with her sister Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was educated at an odd little school in Dartmouth Row run by the Browning sisters who were aunts of Robert Browning who lived from 1841 in New Cross.  It was known as the  College for the Daughters of Gentlemen; Millicent Garrett Fawcett attended from about 1845 to 1854.

Millicent’s  mother, Louise, seems to have taken the sisters to hear John Stuart Mill speak on the issue of Women’s Suffrage in 1865, probably in relation to his Parliamentary campaign.  Millicent was clearly impressed by Mill – “This meeting kindled tenfold my enthusiasms for women’s suffrage.”   Millicent Garrett Fawcett remained active in the struggle for votes for women throughout her life with involvement in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, disagreeing fundamentally with the approach taken by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

A statue of her was unveiled in Parliament Square in April 2018.  She remains one of the tiny number of suffragists and suffragettes with a blue plaque (in Gower Street in Bloomsbury).  English Heritage although at the time of writing (November 2018) English Heritage were considering an application for the Blackheath born May Billinghurst.

The Blackheath and Greenwich Branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) informally formed in mid-1909 with several meetings published in the NUWSS newspaper, ‘The Common Cause.’  It wasn’t formally constituted until October 1909 (1).  By its first Annual General Meeting in December, held in Jobbins Tea Rooms at 21 Montpelier Vale, it had 115 members (2), it had already held several   drawing room’ meetings mainly at the home of Constance Duckham at Red House, Dartmouth Grove (3).

The activities of the Blackheath NUWSS branch in many ways were similar to their more militant counterparts in Lewisham WSPU who had public meetings in Lewisham town centre most weekends, a series of shops and offices and well as some bigger public meetings in halls.  Despite the level of membership probably being higher than the WSPU branch, the number and scale of activities was always much lower.

The Blackheath NUWSS meetings were much in the form of ‘At Home’ events – these continued throughout the period that the branch was active – Red House was used frequently, such as ones in 1910 (4) and (1913 (5), Jobbins Tea room often used to during 1910 (6), with St German’s Lodge, Shooters Hill Road, home of Helen Ward, being added as a venue in 1911 (7).

There were a couple of meetings in Blackheath Concert Halls (above) – in late 1910 Millicent Garrett Fawcett returned to Blackheath and saw the Halls ‘quite filled… and the audience most enthusiastic.’  She and a Mr Cholmley gave ‘witty and convincing speeches.’ (8).   Maud Pember- Reeves and Rev Llewyllin Smith were due to speak there on 29 February 1912 (9).

There were a small number of open-air meetings in open meetings, although nothing like the volume of those undertaken by the WSPU.  Maude Royden (pictured, on a Creative Commons) spoke at Whitfield’s Mount in July 1913 (10).  There were also a couple of open air meetings at unspecified locations on the Heath in June 1910 (11).

 

Source – eBay (Sept 2016)

There was briefly a shop at what was then 5 Blackheath Village, now occupied by Winckworths Estate Agents, opposite the station (pictured above from a postcard of a similar era).  It opened in February 1910 and the branch sold The Common Cause from outside there (12).  An edition from soon after the shop opened is pictured (13).

The branch seemed to go through a steady stream of branch secretaries – it was initially Miss Duckham from Red House (see above) (14); by 1911 the incumbent was a Miss Theobald from 49 Micheldever Road; she had been replaced by a Miss Bowers from 38 Boyne Road by March 1912 (16) closely followed by a Miss Peppercorn from 97 Blackheath Park by July 1912 (17); a Miss Frood from 14 Royal Parade had taken over the reins by October 1913 (18) and finally handing over to a Mrs Shuttleworth from Crooms House, Crooms Hill – her tenure lasted through much of the Great War (19).

One of the best known names in the Branch was Florence Gadesden (Gadsden) She was born in Paris in 1853, her mother Ester (nee Atlee) was from Lewisham, her father was a Professor of Music.  After attending Girton College she taught at several fee paying schools before becoming Headmistress of Blackheath High School in 1886. She became president of the Association of Head Mistresses (AHM) for 2 years from 1905 to 1907 and backed a resolution demanding women’s suffrage in terms which avoided support for militancy.

Her support for women’s suffrage was always non-violent – she was one of the signatories of the Clementina Black’s Women’s Franchise Declaration Committee’s petition demanding the vote (20), which was signed by 257,000 women.

She retired to Norfolk from the school in 1917.

The most significant activity that the Blackheath NUWSS branch were involved with is the Pilgrimage in July 1913 which was organised in order to show Parliament how many women wanted the vote but also in reaction to the increasingly militant activities being carried out by the WSPU both nationally, and as we have seen in various posts, locally as well.  There were pilgrimages from several parts of the country.

The Kentish Pilgrims had congregated at Lee Green, something covered in the post on Lee and Hither suffrage activities.  They were met by the Blackheath NUWSS and marched to Whitefield’s Mount (pictured above) where speakers included Maud Royden (see above) and Ruth Young (21).

The following day the Pilgrims marched down the A2 to another meeting in Pepys Road, New Cross before heading to the Kings Hall at Elephant and Castle (22).  On July 25 the various pilgrimages walked from various locations around central London, the Kentish Pilgrims from Trafalgar Square (23) with around 50,000 converging on Hyde Park.

Notes

  1. Common Cause – 30 December 1909
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. Common Cause – 5 May 1910
  5. Common Cause 04 July 1913
  6. Common Cause – 5 May 1910
  7. Common Cause – 25 May 1911
  8. Common Cause 17 November 1910
  9. Common Cause 22 February 1912
  10. Common Cause 18July 1913
  11. Common Cause 30 June 1910
  12. Common Cause 10 March 1910
  13. ibid
  14. Common Cause 30 December 1909
  15. Common Cause 05 October 1911
  16. Common Cause 28 March 1912
  17. Common Cause 4 July 1912
  18. Common Cause 03 October 1913
  19. Common Cause 29 May 1914
  20. From information board outside Lewisham Archives March 2018
  21. Common Cause 08 August 1913
  22. Ibid
  23. Common Cause 18 July 1913

Picture Credits