Author Archives: Paul B

Hurst & Lee Lodges – Wealthy Victorians to Rocking Horses, Record Distribution & 1980s Flats

Before the arrival of the railways Lee was still rural and ome to a series of country houses for the wealthy – Running Past has covered several of these already, Lee Place, the Manor House, Pentland House, Lee House and The Firs that were along Old Road. A little further to the west, along Lee High Road towards Lewisham was a slightly smaller pair of country houses, Hurst Lodge and Lee Lodge – the map below shows them from the 1860s.

It would have been farmland prior to the building of the two large houses which may well have been part of the estate of Dacre House – perhaps fields of the farm on the ‘opposite side of Brandram Road’ to which was managed by James Lawman who died in 1827 (1).

The exact date the houses were built is unclear – with Pevsner suggesting 1819 (2), although the page on Hurst Lodge in Ideal Homes gives the build date as 1837. While the story of their later years is intertwined we’ll look at them separately to start with.

Lee Lodge

Lee Lodge was the house that was slightly closer to Lewisham of the pair and also referred to as 125 Lee High Road, after the current numbering arrangements were introduced in the late 19th century.

The early owners or tenants have been difficult to pin down for Lee Lodge. However, by 1851 it was home to Thomas Drane, a Civil Engineer who seemed to specialise in railway work and the year before had been briefly Professor of Civil Engineering at Queen’s College, Galway.  Along with him was his wife, Alice, and three step children and a complement of 6 servants.  Thomas didn’t make the next census; he died in Lewisham in 1855.

The next obvious census listing was in the 1881 census; unfortunately for posterity is that the owners/tenants were away – the Head of Household was Hannah Gibbons who was described as ‘Servant in Charge.’ However, electoral registers suggest that the owner was Mark Mills who despite not appearing in censuses, appears to have been there from at least 20 years from 1868.

From 1889 Lee Lodge was home to Henry George Smallman, a central London Solicitor, in the 1891 census he was living there his wife Louisa, 6 children and 4 servants. Henry Smallman seems to have put the Lodge up for sale in 1896. He clearly understood the changing nature of Lee – describing it as (3):

A picturesque family detached residence with charming old grounds, offering in its present form a comfortable and retired abode, with a fine billiard room 34’ by 19’, and without basement, but equally adaptable for a place of workshop, social or political club, house or school or other institution. The property is, however, on account of its central position and large extent, of greatest value as a freehold site, available for the erection of extensive premises in connection with the business of a builder, contractor, carrier, jobmaster, laundryman, furniture warehouseman, or other commercial undertaking. Smallman seems to have previously sold the narrow strip of land facing directly onto the High Road for the shops of Manor Park Parade which opened around 1895.

The suggestion of ‘carrier’ or perhaps some targeted marketing of the site to them seems to have led to the next occupants of the site – the removal and haulage company Pickfords who presumably used it as their local base for removals. By 1900 – the house, or at least the outhouses, were being used by for stabling for some for their horses and presumably their base (a photograph of the same era from their Salisbury depot), although the Hammond family were effectively acting as housekeepers in the 1901 census.

By 1911 it was still being used by Pickfords , but the building was being shared with a complementary business – the farriers, Parr, Williams and Son. By 1916 Pickfords had moved their operation to 18 Manor Parade in front of the house.  Their horses had presumably departed, probably replaced by motorised vehicles as had happened with Thomas Tilling’s buses from Old Road. Another firm of ‘carriers’ had moved into Lee Lodge, Carter Paterson who were associated with on-going transport from railway stations; they stayed there until the early 1920s.

Lee Lodge appears to have been demolished by Pickfords, certainly there was no sign of it in the 1914 surveyed Ordnance Survey map which described the site as a ‘Carrier Depot.’

Hurst Lodge

The first tenant is unclear, while Ideal Homes suggests that it was a ‘ship owner’ – this is likely to have been Benjamin Thomas Crichton who was listed at Hurst Lodge in 1851 along with his wife, niece and 4 servants. He was living nearby in Lee Road in 1841 when the census enumerators called though.  Crichton died in 1855.

Relatively long term residents of Hurst Lodge were the Kersey family (the house is pictured above from early in their residence); Robert was a financier and industrialist. They moved in around 1881 staying for most of the 1880s before letting the house out for a while.

They had returned by the time of the 1901 census, Robert was to die early in the 20th century, but the house stayed in the family – initially Robert’s widow Harriett and then son Alexander remained there until the mid-1920s; it was to be a short term move for the latter as he sold up to Patterson Edwards in the mid to late 1920s, enabling them to take over the entire site.

Soon after Patterson Edwards took over the full site, a narrow strip fronting Lee High Road was sold for housing. The flats built are some of the more prominent and elegant Art Deco style flats in Lewisham; they will be the subject of a separate post in the future although seem in want of a little ‘love’ appearing, from the outside at least, a little neglected.

Patterson Edwards were listed in early Kelly’s Directories as ‘toy manufacturers,’ best known for producing rocking horses, with the Leeway brand. However, they made prams, children’s bicycles and tricycles, toy motors cars and wheelbarrows too.

By 1931, they were employing 300 in Lee in an extensive factory. The extent of the factory can be seen in the photograph from the air in 1939. Around 35,000 rocking horses with hand carved faces were made in Lee until production of them stopped in 1966.

Patterson Edwards moved to Orpington in the early 1970s, although didn’t last that much longer – they ceasing trading a decade later.

The site seems to have been empty for a year or two before Selecta moved there from a smaller site in Southwark in 1974. Selecta was the distribution and sales arm of Decca, dealing with telephone sales and orders from record shops up and down the country. Decca was a predominantly classical record label in that era, and also sold lots of popular orchestral music such as James Last; but their catalogue also included Adam and the Ants and various novelty acts such as the Smurfs and Windsor Davies and Don Estelle – who visited the depot.

 

Selecta was on the site until the mid to late 1980s, when Decca sold the site for property development. Halley and Celestial Gardens is a low rise flatted development, which, from the outside at least, has stood the test of time better than many developments of that era. The name presumably comes from the Astronomer Royal who is buried in the Old St Margaret’s churchyard.  The development is somewhere that Running Past, has visited before when following the prime meridian as there is an elegant pergola at zero degrees within the grounds.

Notes

  1. Edwyn and Josephine Birchenough (1968) Two Lee Houses – Dacre House and Lee House pp39-40
  2. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner (1983) The Buildings of England – London 2: South p423
  3. The Times (London), May 23, 1896

Credits

  • The black and white photos of Hurst Lodge and the Decca entrance are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright.
  • The photgraph of the Pickford horse-drawn vehicle is from Pickford’s website
  • The rocking horse photograph comes from eBay, August 2019
  • Census, electoral register and related data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Kelly’s Directory information comes from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark archives.
  • The Ordnance Survey map is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-Commercial Licence
  • The 1939 aerial photograph is via the fantastic Britain from Above, its use is allowed in non-commercial blogs such as Running Past, it remains their copyright
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Elmwood & the Catford Constitutional Club

Elmwood is a former farm house in the centre of Catford, only really visible from the side in Thomas’ Lane, although it is better known from the sign at the front on Catford Road which beckons the passer-by down an alley between shops.  The legend on the sign is now (September 2019) ‘Catford Constitutional Club.’

It is a building that dates from 1736, Cherry and Pesvner briefly describe it (1) as

a three bay house that was added to over the years. It is hidden by a mid-19th century extension with ironwork. The core of the old building can be seen, but is partly hidden by 20th century extensions.

Elmwood from the 1950s

Elmwood was built by Nelgarde Doggett who gave his name to the neighbouring Nelgarde and Doggett Roads. It was marked  on John Rocque’s 1746 map of the ‘Country Near Ten Miles Round’ London.

It is clearly shown on the Ordnance Survey map from 1863, below, there were a series of water features  (some relating to the former adjacent Manor House)- these were fed by a stream seemingly called Springfield which looks as though it flowed alongside Bromley Road.  The diverted flow into the Ravensbourne would have been around where the slight dog-leg in Doggett Road now is, with a confluence with the Ravensbourne opposite Bournville Road. The stream seems to have been completely culverted when roads like Doggett and Nelgarde Roads were built.

By the time the map was drawn Elmwood was no longer a farm.  When the census enumerators had called in 1861 it was home to George Deane, a publisher and printer, along with his family and three servants.  Deane was possibly attacted by  the railway that had come to Catford Bridge in 1857; Catford Station was not marked as it didn’t open until 1892.  Census records for Elmwood for 1841 and 1851 proved difficult to find it was not listed in any obvious form, despite trawling through every farm related census record in the area.

By 1871 it was home to West Indies Merchant, William Houston and his wife Mary, their young family, Mary’s mother and four servants.  Two generations earlier and this was a trade that would have had clear links with slavery as we found with Lee’s Manor House, but while emancipated and free in name, local plantation owners still wielded vast amounts of power and with shifts in the markets led to massive unemployment, low wages and high levels of poverty in the islands.

It was still a private residence in 1881 – home to the Harris family – William a timber merchant, Constance, their two adult children and 4 servants – including a butler. According to electoral registers they were there from around 1879 to 1883 when William Jenkins moved in.

The timing as to when it became the Conservative and Unionist Club isn’t entirely clear and information slightly contradictory. The 1891 census showed it as home to the widowed Mary/Annie Howcroft and her family. However, two years earlier there was a press notice saying that the Conservative club which was already in residence was looking to buy the lease (2).  Maybe, at that point the rambling house was being shared.

Whatever the arrangement was at that point, it was certainly the Conservative and (sometimes) Constitutional Club throughout the 20th century – the Pusey/Puzeys were there from at least 1897 and in the 1901 census were listed as Club Steward and Stewardess – their live-in household oddly included a 15 year old William Hales who was listed in the census as a ‘page.’

The need for a ‘page’ continued in 1911 when the Beresfords were running the club – it was then Herbert Booker. As World War 2 broke out 1939, the Club Steward was William Adams, born in 1907, his wife Ivy born in 1911 one person redacted (probably a daughter Beryl who was born in the summer of 1939) and Henry Webb a Post Office Stores keeper – Ivy’s brother.  The picture of the interior of the club above is from the early 1950s.

The last licensees of the Conservative Club moved out towards the end of the 20th century – perhaps SE6 ran out of drinking Tories – and by 2008 paint was peeling, Elmwood was fenced off, and the alley was used for in-the-know parking.

Pub Company Antic London took over the building in 2013, having previously run the Catford Bridge Tavern and have breathed some fresh life into the decaying building in their inimitable, slightly quirky way – renaming it the Catford Constitutional Club .   While it appeared for a while that Elmwood may be under threat from redevelopment, Lewisham Council have made it clear that they want to see the core retained in future development.

 

However, in mid-August 2019 further structural surveys were undertaken which found

  • The roof in the Georgian section of the building (presumably that with a worsening kink visible from Thomas’ Lane) was in a ‘very dangerous condition and sections of it are at risk of falling down;’
  • Parts of the inside of the building were identified as ‘an immediate fire safety risk;’
  • There were risks of falling tiles from other parts of the building.

On the basis of these quite serious risks to public safety Lewisham Council decided to ‘close the building’ to enable works to be carried out to make it safe.  Antic’s tenancy was ended as part of the same process, it is the end of an era and the building enters another period of uncertainty.

Notes

  1. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner (1983) The Buildings of England – London 2: South p427
  2. Kentish Mercury 10 May 1889

Credits

  • The black and white photos of Elmwood are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright.
  • Census, shipping and related data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Ordnance Survey map is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-Commercial Licence
  • John Rocque’s 1746 map is on a Creative Commons via Wikipedia

Evacuation – From Catford to the Surrey Countryside

Large numbers of children were evacuated from London and other major towns and cities just before the declaration of war in September 1939. This post tells the story of one group from some schools on the Catford/Hither Green borders.

The bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in Spain by planes of the German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 made British politicians expect an aerial onslaught on London within days of any war breaking out with Germany with likely large scale damage. In trying to mitigate the impact of this, a lot of the focus went on air defences,  but a big chunk involved  planning for the evacuation children and some mothers with infants from London and  other British cities and towns felt to be at risk.

The massive logistical plans for evacuation were put into practice on 1 September 1939 – the day Poland was invaded by Germany and a couple of days before war with Germany was declared. Thousands of people were involved and included teachers, local authority officials, railway staff, and 17,000 members of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS). One of these seems to have been Olive Llewhellin, twenty five years before she was a militant suffragette living in Lee.

Over the course of three days, 1.5 million people were evacuated. Evacuation was initially voluntary, but a combination of the closure of many urban schools and a fear that bombing would start almost as soon as war was declared persuaded large numbers to allow their children to live with and be cared for by strangers. The taking in of evacuees was compulsory if the household had room.

There were a trio of schools be located by the Brownhill Road entrance to Mountsfield ParkCatford Central Boys School, Brownhill Road Boys School which was split into infants and juniors. The site is now a mixture of housing and a petrol station, the schools having been demolished in the early 1990s.

The parents will have been given a list of things that the children should take with them when evacuated. These items included a ‘gas mask in case (which had already been issued), a change of underclothes, night clothes, plimsolls (or slippers), spare stockings or socks, toothbrush, comb, towel, soap, face cloth, handkerchiefs and a warm coat.’   These were things that in the poor areas of London, such as Hither Green that many families struggled to provide.

The Senior Boys snaked down Brownhill Road to Catford Station on Saturday 2 September with the Juniors making the same journey on the Monday. Their the initial destination was Ashford in Kent where they were taken to a school or theatre to await being billeted.  The quality of the accommodation and how well the children were looked after was understandably hit and miss.

Schooling in Ashford was limited, with teaching resources in short supply – it included the use of a Salvation Army Hall, heated with a stove that belched out fumes requiring the building to be periodically evacuated to allow the smoke to disperse.

The expected air attacks on London didn’t materialise as soon as expected and there was a drift of children back to their parents, the return journeys were against the advice of the Government as the poster shows. The children from Catford Central and Brownhill Road were no different in this respect with around a half of the children having returned to south east London- a temporary school was set up for them.

Germany invaded Holland and Belgium in May 1940 and it was no longer felt that Ashford was safe so the children from the Catford/Hither Green border were moved to Sayers Croft near Ewhurst in Surrey later that month.

In April 1939 the National Camps Corporation was set up through the Camps Act to fund and construct camps that in peace-time would be used as educational holiday centres for children during but in war-time for evacuees. Eight of these were built, including Sayers Croft – it cost £25,968 and was designed to accommodate

348 children in six dormitories, together with a hall, a very large dining room with kitchens attached, 4 classrooms, a hospital block for 7 patients and quarters for camp staff, the camp superintendent, and the Headmaster

Things were difficult for teachers too – there were no school holidays and children had to be looked after at the weekends. While there was some help from locals in Ewhurst, the teachers worked 11 days a fortnight with no holidays.  Lessons were fairly standard fayre for the era but in craft the lessons included boot repairs – important in a period when clothing was rationed and a being able to make do and mend was vital.  When the weather allowed it, lessons were taught outside – reminiscent of the McMillan sisters’ theories on early years teaching, Rachel and Margaret lived at the opposite end of Mountsfield Park for a while.

As was the case in the park next to the school, Mountsfield Park, some of the land belonging to the camp was turned into allotments as the children from Catford were encouraged to ‘dig for victory’.

There were a couple of murals (155 cm²) painted in 1942 of activities at the camp – one showing summer lessons and pursuits and the one pictured for the winter.

The children went to the pictures in nearby Cranleigh and some films were shown in the hall, the staff did pantamines at Christmas. Unlike those chidlren who were evacuated well away from London, the children from Catford, still being relatively close to home, had monthly visits from their parents on the last Sunday of the month.

As we saw with the post on the bombing of Sandhurst Road School many of the children who had been initially evacuated from London during the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, returned to the capital after the end of the bombing in May 1941. Some of the children then back at Brownhill Road were shot at during the same raid in which Sandhurst Road was bombed .

There was a further wave of evacuations from Lewisham and elsewhere when the V-1 rockets started hitting the area in June 1944 – including on the second day of attacks a hit on Lewisham Hill and included in the following days attacks on Lenham Road, Lewisham High Street, Fernbrook Road and the area around Hither Green Station.   Some children remained away from their homes throughout the war.

After the end of the War, Sayers Croft was intitally used to rehabilitate a group of Dutch children following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, but then went back tot its secondary purpose as an educational holiday centres. It was transferred to the Greater London Council and eventually to the Sayers Croft Trust, an educational and environmental charity.

As for the School, maybe more on that another day but it continued until the late 1980s, when it was demolished for housing and a petrol station.

Notes and Thanks

  • The postcard of the camp is undated and comes from eBay in November 2016
  • The two posters come from the Imperial War Museum archives and are used here on a non-commercial licence, they remain the copyright of the IWM.
  • The photograph of the evacuees comes from the collection of Olive Llewhellin, a suffragette who had lived in Lee, but in 1939 was living in Poole – the picture is owned by Ruth Knapton – Olive’s adopted niece and is used with her permission but remains her copyright.
  • The school photograph is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it is used with their permission but remains their copyright.
  • The external teaching photograph is from the Sayers Croft Trust website, and the mural from their Twitter feed.
  • There is a lot more on Sayers Croft in a booklet produced, probably in the early 1990s but is available on line – via the University of Greenwich Memories of War site – the photograph of the children outside the block come from this booklet.

 

St James’ Stream – A River Pool Tributary

Running Past has been following the courses of the small tributaries of the River Pool, initially those that emanated from the higher ground of the Great North Wood from Sydenham to South Norwood Hill – Adams’ Rill, Wells Park Stream, Pissarro’s Stream, Porcupine Stream, Penge Stream, the River Wilmore and South Northwood Stream. Sandwiched between the main constituent flows of the Pool, the Beck and Chaffinch Brook, is the smaller St James’ Stream.

It is named after a church close to its confluence with Chaffinch Brook, unsurprisingly called St James, we will return to that when we get that far downstream as a stream needs to be followed from its source. Like its near neighbour, South Norwood Stream, there are two branches of the Stream.  It is shown to the eastern side of the Environment Agency flood risk map.

The Eastern Branch

The source is in high ground of Spring Park, an area that seems to be so called due to water sources rather than having any seasonal references. It wasn’t always referred to as this – up until the early 19th century it was referred to as Cold Harbour, presumably this had a similar derivation to the similarly named area of Mottingham  – col d’arbre (gap between wooded hills or pass).

As streams flow they create small valleys, which translate into notched contour lines on maps; the highest of these notches is in a pleasant grassed area bordered by Temple Avenue, Lime Tree Grove, Greenway Gardens and South Way. In reality, the source was possibly a little further south, probably in the woodland behind the houses on Greenway Gardens – more on that when we turn to the Western Branch, although no evidence of present day fluvial activity from the eastern Branch was found there.

The course would have taken the nascent stream in a north-easterly direction, probably through the small piece of woodland, Temple Copse, which seems well maintained by the Spring Park Residents Association. A circuit of the wood offered no clues to the course of the stream. There were hints of, presumably, past fluvial activity around the junction of Pleasant Grove and Shirley Way with a small valley, smoothed a little by the inter-war suburban roads.

The stream first appears on the ground in a small, pleasant park centred around a pond, which it takes its names from – Miller’s Pond which was a water feature for the large house and sometime farm – Spring Park House. It was bought in the mid-1830s by wealthy MP, Sir John Temple Leader, who brought in an innovative tenant farmer, Hewitt Davis who converted the land into a ‘model farm.’ Census records suggest that Davis had moved and the 275 acres were being farmed by John Callis by 1851.

By 1861 the house was a residence for a stockbroker, Horace Wilkinson, his wife Anne, two toddlers and seven servants. The farm seems to have been being run from elsewhere. This was the pattern with successive censuses. By the 1950s the notice board at the Pond suggests that the House was being used as a nurses home for the nearby Bethlem Hospital.

The pond was named after the last tenant, Thomas Alfred Miller, who was certainly there in 1911 and hailed from Essex. The second pond remains but seems not to be publicly accessible.

Over Wickham Road, and into the grounds of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital, there is a pond marked on modern road maps, but on the ground it proved hard to find – there was a jumble of brambles, nettles and other dense undergrowth whet GPS suggested it should be. There were though a series of manhole covers broadly in the directions of flow dotted between the newer buildings of the Hospital, but alas after several weeks of little rain even hints of the sound of subterranean water proved elusive.

The Western Branch

The original source would probably have been in pleasant triangle of woodland flanked by Shirley Church Road, South Way and Greenway Gardens. At the first reconnoitre, the copse seemed to contain several valleys, but it became clear that they were pits, an early Ordnance Survey map suggesting that there had been gravel extraction there. The quarrying expunged any evidence of fluvial activity.

The course of the western branch is broadly northern while the notched Ordnance Survey contour lines are clear, the evidence on the ground is much less so; although the fluvially eroded dip on Midholm Road is very clear indeed. There is also a slight depression on Bennett Park before, unseen and unheard, the Stream follows for a while one of many paths behind homes in the area – a continuation of Farm Drive. The contour suggested route would take the Branch across Devonshire Way, Lake Road and finally Wickham Road. Evidence of erosion and fluvial flows was conspicuous by its absence though on the ground.

Over the road and into the grounds of the Royal Bethlem Hospital, a stream eroded dip becomes obvious. Before the Hospital was there, the land was home to Park Farm, the confluence with the western stream was made towards the south western corner of the estate. The newly joined Stream was dammed several times to form a series of ponds for breeding fish. The area is obvious but has incredibly dense trees and undergrowth, with the former ponds completely silted up with no current sign of water, there are suggestions that they may have been filled in during the 1940s to prevent patients harming themselves.  There are semi paths to a small depression which would have been the course, but while modern road maps suggest flowing water, on the ground it appeared that the stream had been culverted, the nearest to water was an oddly abandoned empty fish bowl.

The hospital was on the site on Monk’s Orchard House which was pulled down to make way for the Hospital.  The name is not directly monastic but refers to a family called Munke from the Addington area whose named lived on in some nearby woodland.  The name was appropriated by Lewis Loyd when he built the House and it has in turn given its name to the suburb and adjacent road.  The remains of terraces of Monks Orchard House remain in the Maudsley grounds.

When the Stream finally emerged from its culverting, the water seemed to be barely moving, almost stagnant. The small valley remained visible from the adjacent meadows – resplendent in late spring wild flowers when visited. By the next time the Stream was visible, it seemed to have been joined by several other flows from elsewhere on the Hospital estate.

The dense undergrowth and volume of nettles and brambles made much further exploration for the be-shorted runner tricky (the wounds from the same combination of plants from the exploration of South Norwood Stream had barely healed.)

The Bethlem Royal Hospital, now part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, is a psychiatric hospital whose roots were in the 13th century in Bishopsgate, close to the current location of Liverpool Street Station, from the 14th century it was sometimes referred to as ‘Bedlam.’ It was based at what is now the Imperial War Museum from 1815 until moving to Monks Orchard in the 1930s. Bronze Age relics were found during the construction.  In July 1948, following the setting up of the National Health Service, Bethlem was united administratively with the Maudsley Hospital to form a single postgraduate psychiatric teaching hospital.

The next sighting of the stream was just 400 metres away as the Stream flowed, but the hospital site has no non-fluvial exit to anywhere other than Monks Orchard Road. A detour of around a mile and a half is needed for the fluvial flâneur, the follower of streams.

It is easy to miss St James’ Stream’s next brief public appearance – a fleeting glimpse on the southern side of Upper Elmers End Road, a small screen with a river level gauge. Beyond the screen, the land is flat and notched contour lines which would indicate fluvial erosion few and far between. The stream presumably takes a culverted course under a David Lloyd Leisure Centre, Beckenham Rugby Club and Eden Park High School. The signs and sounds of water around the likely course behind gardens of Dunbar Avenue were absent though.

The next and penultimate appearance is beyond the Elmer’s End one-way system around the green where one of the suggested derivations of the name is that this was the place where local Anglo Saxon miscreants were executed. The re-emergence of the stream is close to the church it takes its name from – St James, Beckenham.

The church is slightly odd looking from the outside with what seems to be a double nave Cherry and Pevsner (1) explain why

The original church, of 1879-88 by A R Stenning, is hidden by the pretty Perpendicular building of 1934 by G Sworder Powell which doubled its size. Symmetrical south elevation to the road, with two wide gables and low flanking porches on the slant. Arcade of exceeding wide four-centred arches.

The St James Stream appears 50 metres to the north east of the eponymous Church on the eponymous Avenue in a concrete channel, seemingly devoid of any life, other than that forcing its way betwixt fencing panel and concrete banks (the photograph to the left below).

The Stream’s last few metres continue in the broadly north western course it has been following for a while, bisecting Forster Road (above right) before a confluence of the stream with Chaffinch Brook which is flowing between Forster and Clock House Roads, around 250 metres before the waters of another tributary, South Norwood Stream join.   The confluence is hidden from the public eye as it remains covered until reaching the rear gardens of the eastern side of Forster Road.

Notes

  1. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner The Buildings of England – London 2 : South (1983) p159

Census and related data come via Find My Past

The Ordnance Survey maps are on a non-commercial licence from the National Library of Scotland, Spring Park House  and Monks Orchard (both 1897)

Mountsfield – the Park, the House & the Butterflies

Hither Green Lane largely follows a ridge that is the watershed between the Ravensbourne and the Quaggy, it once offered fine views to the east towards Shooters Hill and to the west along the Ravensbourne and Pool valleys and Forest Hill, once part of the Great North Wood. These vistas were no doubt the reason behind the location of several large houses, that were homes to the wealthy – including Campshill House, Laurel Cottage, Oak Cottage, Wilderness House, Hither Green Lodge, and Mount Pleasant. Perched around the highest point on the ridge was Mountsfield – this post tells the story of the house, its occupants and the Park that came after.
The land for Mountsfield seems to have been bought around 1845 by Henry Stainton of Springfield House (1). Springfield was at what is now the junction of Rushey Green and Hawstead Road, next to the almshouses, it was named after a stream that ran alongside the main road (2).Henry Stainton was a wealthy iron merchant and the land and house that was built on it seem to have been bought for his son, Henry Tibbats Stainton as a wedding present when he married Jane Isabel Dunn (also from an iron and steel family) at Sheffield Cathedral in 1846. Henry Tibbats Stainton was born in August 1822 and baptised in the City of London church  St Benet, Paul’s Wharf.  But the family seem to have moved to Lewisham soon after. He was educated at home before going to King’s College, London before working for his father as an iron merchant.
The house seems to have been finished in 1847 (3), with the wide main drive sweeping slightly round from the current entrance in George Lane (above). The footprint and size suggest something rather grand, sadly though, no pictures seem to survive of it other than photos of bits of walls. The house was badly built, and had to be demolished in 1905 (4) – we’ll return to that later. A stable block remained until 1969, when it was largely destroyed by fire and that, along with some other outbuildings, were demolished in 1981 (5).

The outbuildings (partly shown above), latterly used as a cafe, were home to Henry Tibbats Stainton’s museum relating to his interest in entomology. Henry Tibbats Stainton had developed an interest in moths and butterflies around 1840 and by the time he moved to Mountsfield was a recognised authority on them.

The preface to ‘Stainton’s Handbook of Butterflies and Moths’ was penned at Mountsfield in February 1857. However, his references to Lewisham, Hither Green and Catford are disappointingly few and far between in the first volume.

He spotted Cosmidæ Euperia Fulvago, a moth that is ‘pale ocherous, faintly tinged with grey with darker centre’ spotted in Lewisham in 1846 (6). I have a mental ‘picture’ of Stainton wandering through the fields of North Park Farm or a little further afield to the meadows of Burnt Ash Farm. I hope that when he noted that ‘In lanes we find in addition to these, several species of Hipparchia, and perhaps the Fritlillaries, Hair Streaks and Skippers,’ (7) that this included the still rural Hither Green Lane and the farm track that became Verdant Lane. If there were sightings here they would have been included in ‘common everywhere’ category, frequently used by Stainton.
There seem to have been relatively local wanderings with mentions of Trochillium Incheumoniforme – a tiny moth was once observed at Charlton sand-pit, probably Gilbert’s Pit (8). He spotted several rare species in West Wickham Woods including Lophopteryx Carmelita (picutred), a reddish brown moth (9) and another moth Limacodes Testudo (10).

Stainton died from stomach cancer in December 1892 at Mountsfield, and was buried in the family vault at St Mary’s, Lewisham. An obituary described him as ‘a genial and generous friend and a painstaking industrious worker….(who took a) truly biological approach to taxonomy’.

By the time Henry Tibbats Stainton died, the city was encroaching on Mountsfield; the streets below to the west built on the former Mount Pleasant had been laid out and much of the housing built.

It would appear that Jane Stainton at least contemplated selling up soon after her husband’s death. She appointed a surveyor to act for her, as was noted in the enquiry in relation to building a Fever Hospital next door on the land belonging to Wilderness House and Hither Green Lodge. The surveyor suggested that the building of the Fever Hospital would lead to land of the Mountsfield estate, then valued at £500 – £600 an acre, being reduced to as little as £150 an acre (11).

In reality, Jane Stainton didn’t sell up and remained at Mountsfield until her death in 1898. There appear to have been some legal complexities in relation to what happened following Jane Stainton’s death without a will, which appear to have related to interests in both Scotland and England. The estate was put up for auction in 1900 as a result of a legal case McLaren v Stainton, although presumably wasn’t sold (12).

The following year, the London County Council (LCC) Schools Board purchased 14 acres for a school on Brownhill Road. It was noted at the same time that the LCC was looking to buy the rest of the estate for a park given the lack of one in the area (13).

The purchase of six acres for the park wasn’t completed by the LCC until 1904 though, with half funding coming the old Borough of Lewisham (14). The Park was opened in August 1905, and was soon extended as the LCC decided that they only needed half of the land that they had set aside for the school and the remaining 7 acres was returned to parkland – presumably land close to Brownhill Road (15). This would have addressed concerns expressed by the Hither Green and Catford Ratepyers Association about the lack of an entrance from Brownhill Road in the original plans (16).

As was the pattern with Lee Manor House and Manor House Gardens, the intention was to create a library as well as a Park. Sadly, the quality of the building of Mountsfield was so poor that when the LCC surveyors inspected the house a decision was made to demolish it (17).

The original Park, did not include the south western quadrant which was used initially by Lewisham Montrose and then by Catford Southend, affectionately known as ‘The Kittens’ from 1909  who played to a good non-league standard. In the early 1920s there were plans to merge The Kittens with Charlton Athletic who played part of the 1922/23 season at The Mount, which probably had a 25,000 capacity. The merger didn’t happen, Charlton returned to The Valley, and Catford Southend went into a rapid downward spiral – with their records for the 1926/27 season being expunged and seemingly ending in liquidation. The embankment for the terracing in the south west corner of the ground still remains (see below). Some parts of the physical structure of the ground seem to have remained until the 1950s, but the pitch was subsumed back into the Park.


At around the same time some former allotment land was purchased from Trinity College in Greenwich bringing the total size of the park to around 28 acres (18). It seems that around the time that the Park was created seven houses were built along the George Lane side of the Park to the corner of Stainton Road. These were short lived as they were destroyed, beyond the level of repair in the Blitz (19), and by 1949 the land had been subsumed back into the Park.

After the closure of the school on Brownhill Road, latterly Catford Boys, in the early 1990s, the playing fields were reunited with the rest of the Park.

The Park has been public open space for the citizens of Catford, Hither Green and elsewhere for over a century, although during World War Two much of the Park was turned over the allotments. It has an active Friends Group, a lovely community garden, a cafe, a parkrun and it is home to the now biennial Lewisham Peoples Day – 2020 will be the 35th edition. While the Victorian views towards Shooters Hill have been lost, the urban views up and down the Ravensbourne Valley and towards Forest Hill while now urban, remain almost as impressive as when Henry Tibbats Stainton moved in during the 1840s.

Notes

  1. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green – The Forgotten Hamlet p34
  2. Leland Duncan (1908) History of the Borough of Lewisham p157
  3. Smith op cit p 34
  4. ibid p34
  5. ibid p34
  6. Henry Tibbats Stainton (1857) Stainton’s Handbook of Butterflies and Moths’ p257
  7. ibid p11
  8. ibid p104
  9. ibid p124
  10. ibid p124
  11. Kentish Mercury, 2 June 1893
  12. Kentish Mercury, 6 July 1900
  13. Kentish Mercury, 29 November 1901
  14. Kentish Mercury, 4 March 1904
  15. Smith, op cit, p59
  16. Kentish Mercury, 1 July 1904
  17. Smith, op cit, p34
  18. ibid p 59
  19. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps p129
Census, marriage and related information comes via Find My Past
Picture Credits
  • The drawing of Lophopteryx Carmelita is a part of a picture via Wikipedia and is on a Creative Commons
  • The Ordnance Survey map from 1867 is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial licence
  • The black and white photograph of the gardens and outhouses and that of Catford Southend are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission.

Old Road & Beyond – A Walk Through Some of Lee’s Past

The area bordering Manor House Gardens has a rich and interesting history which Running Past has written numerous posts about.  This post was written to ‘accompany’ a walk organised as part of the 2019 Manor House Gardens Festival, it can be used to independently to walk the route (it’s a circuit of around a mile, which can be found here) or as virtual tour of the area.  The ‘walk’ is divided into sections which relate to the planned stopping points – each of which is full of links to other posts in the blog which will have more detailed information.

Some Background

Before it was enveloped by the city Lee was a village, a village with three centres – Lee Green, the area around St Margaret’s Church and Old Road, as John Rocque’s map from 1746 shows.

Lee remained largely rural until mid-19th century until the coming of the railways – Blackheath & Lewisham stations opened in 1849, Lee in 1866 and Hither Green not until mid-1890s (it was just a junction before that).

The mid-1860s Ordnance Survey map above shows how little development there was beyond Lee Green and to the south of Old Road; farms remained until the 1920s and 1930s, such as Burnt Ash and Horn Park.

The Manor House

Old Road was once home to a series of large houses, starting from the eastern end these were Lee House, The Cedars, Lee Place, the Manor House, Pentland House and The Firs – geography played an important part, it is on a small hill which would have offered impressive views to the east and south but were high enough to protect from flooding from the Quaggy and the now diverted Mid Kid Brook, which used to flow down Lee High Road.

Lee Place

The first of the country houses was Lee Place; Its building was the result of the death of Lord of the Manor, Brian Annesley who had a moated farm probably where St Margaret’s Lee School is now situated.  His later years are believed to at least partially inspired Shakespeare to write King Lear – there was happier ending than in the play though.  The estate split up on his death.

Lee Place (above) probably built by/for George Thompson – had links to the slave trade but is better known as a soldier and MP during the Commonwealth brother of Maurice who lived at Lee Farm. It was the home to the Boone family (it was their family chapel) for several generations but was let out from the mid-18th century.  Its last tenant was Benjamin Aislabie.

The estate was sold in 1824 as still has an impact on the current landscape as it was broken up into relatively small lots which were developed at different times.  It allowed too the straightening of Lee High Road – the straightened bit was known as New Road for several decades

The Manor House

Lee Farm was previously on the site, which moved to what is now the junction of Baring and St Mildred’s Roads in 1727 and became Burnt Ash Farm. The former farm was bought initially by the slave trading brother of George Thomson, Maurice and then by William Coleman who sought to re-create the lands of the old Manor for his nephew,Thomas Lucas, both were ‘merchants’ with strong links to the slave trade.

The Grade II listed Manor House was built on the site of the farm in 1770 by Richard Jupp for Lucas.  It was bought by Sir Francis Baring in early 19th century, whose family wealth also had its origins in the slave trade – used it as their near London base – the merchant on the maroon plaque is depressingly vague. The Northbrooks let in out during much of the 19th century

They sold the house as a library and grounds to the London County Council in 1898 opening to the public in 1902.  The Northbrooks owned much of Lee and their gradual selling off of their ‘estate’ in the latter part of the 19th century which shaped the current urban landscape.

Pentland House

Pentland House was built in early 1790s and is probably the oldest residential building in Lewisham – it is a close run thing with St Mary’s Vicarage though!  It has been added to considerably and rendered in the early 19th century when extended.

It was home to the rich, but not that significant Smith family, who sold to some more Smiths, who sold to some more Smiths (albeit with a prefix) – it became a Goldsmiths’ College hall in 1913 which stayed until the early 2000s.  It is currently a largely backpackers hostel.

Flats & Houses Opposite

The houses and flats opposite are a bit less grand – Bankwell Road & adjoining bits of Old Road – completed in 1908, possibly by James Watt – it was the central of three plots of land bounded by Lee High Road and Old Road – as the 1890s Ordnance Survey maps below shows.

The eastern of the plots are Arts & Crafts style flats which are a bit out of kilter with rest of area.  The land they were built on had been part of Lee Place – the house itself was on this part.  The land was bought as an orchard and kitchen garden for Pentland House with the flats & Market Terrace on Lee High Road built in the mid-1930s.

Before moving on worth reflecting on the library, the park and indirectly the rest of the current urban landscape was paid for by the slave labour in the plantations of the Caribbean owned or traded by those that lived here and over the road.

On the way to Lochaber Hall at the first house on Manor Lane Terrace look at the wall – the remains of a sign pointing towards air raid shelters in Manor House Gardens (more on that later).

Lochaber Hall, the Firs, Holy Trinity

Lochaber Hall

If think Lochaber Hall looks like a church hall you’d be right, it was originally church hall for Holy Trinity in Glenton Road (pictured below).  The church was destroyed in the Blitz and is now Callaghan Close (almost opposite the Telephone Exchange) and named after the 1970s Prime Minister who lived in Blackheath.

The Hall was designed by Ernest Newton, a locally renowned architect and President of RIBA, he also designed St Swithuns, the original Church of Good Shepherd and Baring Hall at Grove Park. Slightly surprisingly it is Grade II listed. Immediately after World War Two it was used as a hall for the Church of the Good Shepherd as that church was largely destroyed in a fire & the congregation was using the adjacent hall as the church.

The Firs Estate

The Firs was another of the large country houses of Lee, it was a large red-brick house which was a built around 1700 as the ‘town’ residence for the Papillion’s, a prominent Huguenot banking family – it stayed in the family’s ownership for a century.  The last owner from the mid-1860s was John Wingfield Larkin, a member of a wealthy Kent family who had been a merchant in Egypt and British consul in Alexandria between 1838 and 1841.  The family sold up on his death as the city encroached in 1893.

It was developed as Murillo, Old, Rembrandt & Lochaber Roads by the end of 19th century.  It is not certain who the builder/developer was – although is a stained glass for Siderys on Murillo Road – who were prominent builders in the area.

The houses on the corner of Manor Lane Terrace and Abernethy were largely destroyed on the 1st night of the blitz.  27 Murillo Road was home to one of the more prominent Lewisham suffragettes – Caroline Townsend.

Lee Manor Farm

This was originally at the Manor House, moved to what is now the junction of St Mildred’s Road and was renamed Burnt Ash Farm in 1727; that farm was split in the early 19th century and new farm buildings constructed opposite The Firs (close to the current junction of Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Lane).  It didn’t stay the farm house that long and we’ll return to it at our next stop.

Junction of Manor Lane Terrace & Kellerton Road

Manor Park Estate

We are in the land of W J Scudamore here and along with John Pound are probably the two firms of builders that most influenced the area – buying land from the Northbrooks. W J Scudamore were based on Manor Lane (corner of Handen Road) then Lee High Road (part of Sainsbury’s site) and latterly on Holme Lacey Road in Lee and active in Lee, Hither Green and later elsewhere from the 1890s until the 1930s.

The Manor Park Estate (as the roads around here were originally referred to as) was built for a mixture of rent and sale – sale prices were £265 or£275 for the bigger ones – it was 1906…!

They definitely also built

  • Shops on Manor Lane (eastern side)
  • Newstead Road
  • Some of St Mildred’s Road
  • Holme Lacey & Dalinger Roads
  • Several small sections of Leahurst, Longhurst and Fernbrook Roads
  • Probably lots of others too

Wolfram Close

On the site of the last location of the Lee Manor Farm (pictured below) – the land farmed was to the south of here.  The farmhouse seems to have been sold with the land for the Manor Park Estate and became a home for the Scudamore family who remained there until 1961.

The site was redeveloped in the 1960s or early 1970s, it isn’t clear whether this was by Scudamores, as they went into liquidation in 1966. It is presumably named after the last occupant of the Manor House – Henry Wolffram from Stuttgart who ran a ‘crammer’ school for would-be army officers – the spelling of his name is incorrect though – the cul de sac as one ‘F’ the name two ‘Fs’.

The council estate behind Cordwell Road – is named after one of the last farmers of the farm.

 

Manor House Gardens

The park was created in the early 1770s as gardens for the Manor House until 1898 when the Northbrooks sold up to the London County Council (LCC), which as with Mountsfield Park on the Hither Green and Catford borders wanted to ensure that the newly developing suburbia had parks and libraries provided. The Gardens had been left in a poor state by last occupant (Henry Wolffram) and didn’t open to the public until 1902.

Source –  eBay Feb 2016

It contains a rather impressive Ice House which was used as an air raid shelter in World War Two; there were a couple of other ones too, the outline of one of them was visible in the parched grass in the hot weather of 2018.

The Gardens have been ‘listed’ since 1987 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2000.  The small lake has been part of grounds for most of its post agricultural life.  The River Quaggy flows through the Gardens, it used to be at a higher level but the bed was  excavated partially to reduce flooding – probably in the 1880s.

Behind the library, there are two little bits of Catford – foundation stones for the now demolished St Laurence Church and the original Town Hall.

Lenham Road/Lammead Road Corner

If we were standing here in the 1870s we would be in or next to the River Quaggy as there was a meander that originally came up to this point. It was straightened in 1880s both to allow development but possibly too as flood prevention measure – there were really bad floods in 1878.

Most of housing on Lenham, Lampmead (and Aislibie that will walk up) Roads dates from late 1880s when Lee House (more on that later) was demolished and the land sold for development. It was slightly different on the other side of the river – Robertson Street, now Brightfield Road probably dates from the late 1850s or early 1860s.

The houses at the corner are very different – early 1960s council housing as opposed to late Victorian.  This was because early in the morning of 22 June 1944 a V-1 rocket hit the corner, killing 6.  There was a lot of Blitz damage on Lenham Road as well as on Aislibie Road where there are several bits of infill council housing from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

49 Lampmead (above) was home to Phyllis Noble who was to become Phyllis Willmott and wrote a 3 part autobiography about growing up in Lee in the 1920s and 30s – this has been covered a few times – including in relation to the Sunday Constitutional and children’s play.

Almsot opposite, at the junction with Aislibie Road in 2016 a house had Blitz type damage as a result of badly executed building work.

Lee Centre

Lee House & Centre

This was originally the site of Lee House, a medieval mansion that was rebuilt in the 1820s probably partially as a result of the re-alignment of Old Road, it is pictured below. However, by the 1880s it no longer met the needs of the wealthy Victorian gent as city encroached with the railways.

Lee Centre was built on the site in the 1880s – initially it was home to a few clubs, including a chess club. But it was never developed uses that befitted its impressive architecture by World War 2 it had effectively become used for storage and nurse appointments; it was used for education from 1970s and more recently by various charities.

Next door was built as St Margaret’s Parish Rooms, long before Kingswood Halls were built; it was also home to school for many years before becoming offices and warehouses for stationery supplier and then a toy merchant.  It has been a nursery for the last decade or so.

Chiesmans’ Warehouse

In a former incarnation this was home to the teetotal Lee Working Men’s Institution, it was taken over as a depot for the Lewisham Department Store, Chiesmans who rebuilt it around 1914 – it was almost completely destroyed in during the Blitz before being rebuilt on same footprint for Chiesmans in mid 1950s.  After some slightly less than legitimate activities it is slowly being converted into flats.

The Cedars

Was situated on what is now the opposite corner of Aislbie Road, it was another large house – the estate was broken up and mostly sold at the same time as Lee House.  The house itself remained until the 1890s before being sold for development – hence the housing at the north-western corner of Aislibie Road is different to the rest of the street.  The street itself was named after, although spelled incorrectly, the slave owner and terrible cricketer Benjamin Aislabie – the last tenant of Lee Place.

 

Manor House Gardens (Old Road entrance)

This is next door to 36 Old Road, this was part of the estate of The Cedars.  Post development the site was used for many years as stables for Thomas Tilling’s horse drawn buses and then as a workshop by the firm afterwards.  It went through several uses afterwards – the sweet makers Whitehouse and Co from 1929; John Edgington and Co Marquee Manufacturers who latterly made floats for the Lord Mayors Show were there from 1949 (including some of those below) and then Penfolds used it as a crash repair workshop from the late 1980s until around 2010.  Development into flats started a few years later but has been paused for a couple of years.

 

Picture Credits

  • John Rocque’s 18th century map is from the information board at Lee Green
  • The Ordnance Survey map from the 1860s is on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland
  • The picture of Lee Place comes from the information board opposite St Margaret’s Church
  • The picture of Holy Trinity Glenton Road is via Wikipedia Commons – originally from Illustrated London News
  • The photograph of The Firs is from the information board on Brandram Road, opposite St Margaret’s church.
  • The drawing of Lee Manor Farm is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  • The 1890s Ordnance Survey map is courtesy of the National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons.
  • The pair of Ordnance Survey maps from  1863 (top) and 1893 are on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland
  • The sale plan of Lee House is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  • The picture of Benjamin Aislabie is on a Creative Commons via one of Lewisham Archives sites 

Arts & Crafts Housing on Old Road

Old Road in Lee is veritable cornucopia of housing types – two of the large houses of Lee remain – the Manor House, now a volunteer run library, and Pentland House, now a hostel. There is the 1890s housing at the western end which was built on the site of The Firs. At the other end is the Edwardian housing centred on Bankwell Road – possibly built by James Watt, he certainly built the cinema that was part of the same plot.

In between are 1930s flats built with more than a nod to the Arts and Crafts style of housing, more often seen in suburbia of the era with mock exposed beams against white rendered eaves. The reason for two terraces of 1930s housing  and the row of shops of a similar style and era on Lee High Road, Market Terrace, goes back to 1824 and the break-up of the estate of Lee Place, the original country home of Lee.

Lee Place had probably been built for George Thomson, but was for most of its life home to the Boones, they latterly let the house to Benjamin Aislabie – when his lease expired the estate was broken up into small lots with the house being demolished. Two of the lots were used to build Lee New Town (the area around Lee Church Street) and the Merchant Taylors Almshouses. The lot built on in the 1930s was bought by the owners of Pentland House and used as an orchard – it is to the right on the Old Road snow scene, probably from the 1890s.

When Pentland House was bought as halls of residence for Goldsmiths College around 1913, the orchard was bought with it.  The Ordnance Survey map below from the 1890s shows the plots the the north of Old Road clearly.

The land was sold in the early 1930s for housing – the first mention of homes being lived in was in the 1933/34 Kelly’s Directory for Blackheath, Greenwich and Lee – one of the last local editions.

So who lived in the homes? Less than six years after residents moved in World War Two broke out and the 1939 Register was collected – so while there will have been some movement since the initial letting and sales, it gives an interesting insight into some of the early households who made this part of Old Road their home.  A surprising number of the flats did not have entries, whether they were empty or missed by those compiling the Register isn’t clear.

Occupations were mainly manual, although there were a few clerical grade civil servants and similar jobs in selling advertising, insurance and the like. It was quite similar to the Verdant Lane estate which was developed at around the same time.  Unlike Ardmere Road (where Running Past has done a similar analysis of the 1939 Register), where around a third of the male household members had the  ‘Heavy’ suffix to their trade entitling them to more rations, there were only a couple in Old Road.

As was generally the pattern at both Ardmere Road and Verdant Lane (where a 1939 Register analysis was also done) relatively few women worked with most listed either as ‘Housewife’ or  ‘Unpaid Domestic Duties.’  The exceptions were a couple of shop assistants, maybe working in local shopping parades on Lee High Road or Market Terrace plus a laundress, a couple of typists and an embroidery machinist. In all but one of these the woman was the head of household – something that wasn’t seen in either Ardmere Road or Verdant Lane.

The ages were younger though than Verdant Lane – the average age there was almost 42; in the Old Road flats there were mainly relatively young couples living there – the average age was 36, although this was pushed up a couple of years by the single retired couple who had a working son.

This is perhaps not surprising; the homes were smaller, mainly one bedroom flats, compared with the three bedroom houses at Verdant Lane, although any children of school age would have been evacuated in early September 1939.  However, given how few redactions (generally for those who would be still alive) it would indicate almost no pre-school children who would have remained in Lee.  Had the Register been taken a month earlier there would have no doubt be several children in the flats – Winifred and William Kinsey’s son Anthony at 19 would have been 11 in 1939 and was no doubt evacuated with friends from the street.

The tenure of the flats after they were built in the 1930s isn’t clear – although nationally over half of housing was private rented in 1939.  Based on Land Registry data, just over half the flats have been sold since 1999 – 2 bedrooms flat sold for £405k in late £2018, although the last 1 bedroom flat sold seems to have been in 2015 which changed hands for £270k. However, this probably implies that a lot remain in private renting  or have returned to the private rented sector in the recent past. Two of the blocks, four flats, seem to have been acquired by Lewisham Council at some stage, although one of the flats has been subsequently sold under Right to Buy.

So how has the area changed since 1939?  For the slightly wider 2011 Census Output Area which covers a slightly wider area of 134 homes including most of the rest of Old Road, Bankwell Road, the adjoining part of Lee high Road and Hamlet Close.  51% were owner occupied and 42% privately rented with  the remainder socially rented.

Employment patterns  have probably changed more – the biggest employment sector was education (15%)Heath and Social Work (13%), IT (9%), Finance and insurance (8%) and the motor trade (8%).  This was not dissimilar to the rest of Lewisham  – although there were fewer working in admin activities and accommodation and food services, with more in manufacturing and education

Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey map is courtesy of the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial license;
  • The Picture of Lee Place is from the information board opposite to St Margaret’s Church;
  • The snow scene is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, who hold the copyright, it is used with their permission;
  • Kelly’s Directories records were accessed at Lewisham Archives;
  • Land Registry data on tenure is through Nimbus Maps (Registration required)
  • The 1939 Register data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)