Category Archives: Lewisham History

Lee Manor Farm -‘Old’ Lee’s Last Farm

As regular readers will no doubt recall Running Past has covered many of the former farms of Lee – Lee Green Farm, College Farm, Melrose Farm, Horn Park Park and Burnt Ash Farm.

The land of Burnt Ash Farm had originally been farmed from a large house which was on the site of what is now Lee Manor House.  It was probably not an ideal location for the farm as its land was virtually all to the south – stretching away towards Grove Park.  The move to the junction of what is now St Mildred’s and Baring Roads happened in the mid-1720s (1).  The remains of the original Farm on Old Road were found underneath the library when some building work was undertaken in the early 1980s.

The shift in location to Burnt Ash was by Thomas Butler who came from Dagenham in, what was then, rural Essex (2).  Perhaps as early as 1739, and certainly after Butler’s death in 1751 (3), Burnt Ash Farm was split between two of his sons, Matthew who remained at Burnt Ash and farmed the land south of St Mildred’s Road; and James who was to farm what was to be called Lee Manor Farm.  The land was most of the area bordered by Burnt Ash Road, what is now St Mildred’s Road, the stream Hither Green Ditch until it joins the Quaggy, the river itself and Lee High Road.The initial site of the farmhouse was to the west of Pentland House (at one stage called Foclallt House) on what is now Manor Lane Terrace and included the site of Lochaber Hall (on the 1860s map above it is referred to as Manor Cottage).  It was a large three-storey house with extensive outbuildings (4).  The land was not owned by the Butlers and, as was covered in a post on the Manor House, was bought by William Coleman who sought to recreate the old Manor of Lee for his nephew Thomas Lucas – funded by the proceeds of slavery.  Lucas inherited the farms on his uncle’s death in 1771.

On James Butler’s death in 1762 it seems likely that the Farm was again managed by his brother, Matthew, from Burnt Ash (5). After Matthew’s death in 1784 the tenancy of the two farms were taken on by Baron Dacre of Dacre House, whose estates were relatively small.  (6) We will return to Dacre House at some point in the future.

Following the deaths of Lord Dacre in 1806 and Lady Dacre in 1808, there were some changes to Lee Manor Farm.  Part of the land bounding Lee High Road was sold to the new owner of The Firs, Christopher Godmond, who had bought the House after the death of David Papillon. (7)

The farm house had be let separately since the 1780s; so when Lee Manor Farm was again let and managed in its own right in 1808, a new farmhouse was needed for a new tenant.  The new farmhouse was built on what is now Manor Lane Terrace, between the current Northbrook and Kellerton Roads (it is shown on the map above).  The bend in Manor Lane Terrace is explained by the location of the farm.   The artists impression of the farm is by Lloyd Roberts (see credits below).

The new tenant was the butler of the new Lord of the Manor, Sir Francis Baring – Thomas Postans (8) – Postans was to stay there until 1816, when he moved on to manage the kitchen gardens of the Manor House to supply the officers mess at St James Palace.  Mr R E Brown was the tenant of the farm for this period but Postans returned to the Farm in the mid 1830s.

There is a fascinating map of the farm from towards the end of Thomas Postans tenure drawn with an east – west axis; Lee Green is in the bottom right hand corner with Burnt Ash Road providing the bottom boundary (the other side of Burnt Ash Road was Crown Estate land) and Lee High Road to the right of the map.  There is considerable overlap between the 1843 field pattern and the street pattern that emerged in the decades afterwards.

In 1845 a lease was granted to Mark Cordwell who hailed from Buckinghamshire; oddly he was listed as a seaman in the 1861 census with with his 20 year old son, Charles, born in Greenwich, noted as as the farmer.  Mark died in 1864.

By 1881, Charles had married Mary (née Peasnell) who was from Buckinghamshire, like his father, and had eight children and a servant living on the farm; the farm was listed at 150 acres in the census. They may have had a bailiff or manager running the farm for them for a while in the 1870s as three children were born in Shoreham in Kent.  In the 1871 census they were listed at Prestons Farm House  in Shoreham.

They were back in Lee in 1891; but by the 1901 Census, Charles was listed at 35 Medusa Road in Catford as a ‘retired farmer’ with his son and daughter in law.  He may have emigrated to the USA as the last record for him is sailing to New York on the Philadelphia in 1906.

While he may have moved to America, his name lives on in the 1970s council housing that was developed to replace the southern side of Northbrook Road and land behind Kellerton Road – Cordwell Road.

The end of the farm coincided with the gradual sale of of the Northbrook estate from the 1860s onwards.  One of the main builders from the mid 1890s were the family firm W J Scudamore.  Their developments included what they referred to as the Manor Park Estate (roads such as Kellerton Road, parts of Manor Lane Terrace, Redruth Road (now Manor Lane) and parts of Manor Park.  It seems that the old Manor Farm came as part of the lot; most developers would have probably demolished the buildings and built over it.  However, the Scudamores decided to retain the building as a family home – which it remained as until the 1960s – there is a little more on this in the post on W J Scudamore.

The last of the Scudamores to live in Manor Lane Terrace was Elizabeth (née Drane) who died in 1961 aged 90.  After her death, the house and the land around it were acquired for council housing – although all the homes appear to have been sold under Right to Buy.  The name Wolfram Close is presumably a reference to the last tenant of the Manor House – the slightly differently spelled Henry Wolffram.  

Notes

  1. Josephine Birchenough (1981) Some Farms and Fields in Lee p4
  2. ibid p5
  3. ibid p7
  4. ibid p7
  5. ibid p8
  6. ibid p9
  7. ibid p9
  8. ibid p10

Picture Credits

 

World War Two Food Rationing in Lewisham

Since the the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War in September 2019, Running Past has covered a number of aspects of life on the ‘Home Front’ including the evacuation of Lewisham’s children to safer areas, the shelters built to try to keep the local population safe during air raids and the role of the Air Raid Precautions  (ARP) Service.

We turn now to food rationing which was introduced on 8 January 1940; we’ll cover cover the linked issue of growing food in allotments and gardens through ‘Digging for Victory’ in a later post. Rationing didn’t completely end until 1954 and also covered clothes, petrol and various other goods.

In 1939 Britain was importing large quantities of food – including 70% of cheese, cereals and sugar, 80% of fruit and more than 50% of meat. It was fully expected that the Germans would target food supplies coming in via sea, as they had done with the U-Boat Campaign in World War 1.

The preparations for food rationing had begun soon after war started with the compilation of the 1939 Register which was used to was used to devise a carefully detailed rationing plan and issue Identity Cards. It listed everyone living at properties, although in London there were very few children mentioned due to evacuation that had happened a few weeks earlier; it also excluded any serving locally based adults serving with the armed forces.

Running Past has used the 1939 Register several times to look at specific streets, including Ardmere Road (pictured above), close to Hither Green Station. So, at 1 Ardmere Road, there was Fanny and Frederick Histed, the latter was entitled to extra rations due to his ‘Heavy Work’ as a builders labourer. Next door at No 2 (the numbering is consecutive) Amy and John Ashling lived, John was a general labourer, but not entitled to extra rations. It was the same at No 3 where Albert Tolhurst was also a general labourer. In the street as a whole just under a half of the men had the suffix or prefix to their trade of ‘Heavy Work’ which entitled them to extra rations. The differences were stark when we looked at both the Verdant Lane estate and the Arts and Crafts housing on Old Road – both had only a smattering of people entitled to extra rations for ‘Heavy Work.’

From 8 January 1940, every individual was issued with a ration book (see below, along with an Identity Card) which was registered at their local shops. Shopkeepers were then supplied with sufficient food for everyone registered. Ration books worked on a coupon based system, so people could purchase their entitlement but no more, although a good relationship with the shopkeeper might lead to more favourable treatment.

So in the terrace of shops 310 to 332 Lee High Road, locals may well have had ration coupons for the butchers RC Hamnett at 324; those close to Manor Park Parade (which will feature in posts in early 2020) would have no doubt queued up for their rations at Arthur Howard’s grocer’s shop at no. 16.

Returning the Ardmere Road, the locals from there and neighbouring streets such as Brightside Road would have taken their ration books to Edith May’s grocers at no 18 (which is pictured above), the shop closed in the 1980s and it is now a house. There are memories of the shop having (in this period and beyond)

Old marble counters, wooden single drawer for a till, flagstone floor, shelves with doilies and a huge brass scales.

So what were the foods that Lewisham residents would have found rationed during World War 2? Initially, it was just bacon, butter and sugar were rationed; but meat was rationed from 11 March 1940; cooking fats and tea in July 1940; while cheese and jam were added to the list in March and May 1941.

The amounts of each item varied a little over time

  • Bacon and ham 113 – 227 g (4 – 8 oz)
  • Sugar 227 – 454 g (8 – 16 oz)
  • Tea 57 – 113 g (2 – 4 oz)
  • Meat 5 – 6p worth (1/- to 1/2d)
  • Cheese 28 – 227 g (1 – 8 oz)
  • Preserves 227 g – 1.36 kg (8 oz – 3 lb)
  • Butter 57 – 227 g (2 – 8 oz)
  • Margarine 113 – 340 g (4 – 12 oz)
  • Lard 57-85 g (2-3 oz)
  • Sweets 227-454 g (8-16 oz) – monthly

Lewisham Market survived during the early part of the war, although fruit such as oranges and bananas which were relatively common before the War became something of a rarity with queues ‘a mile long’ when they became available (1). Tomatoes too were much less common on the market than they had been pre-war; when they were available, traders typically imposed rations of their own, limiting purchases to 8 ounces (227 grams) (2). As a result there were long queues with children often sent to take adult places in the queue, while parents got on with the rest of their shopping (3).

However, it really struggled after V-1 attacks (4) including a direct hit on the market itself in July 1944.

There is a fascinating film in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, which was aimed at American audiences which is at least partially Catford based – the Catford Bridge Tavern is clearly visible in one of the shots. Unlike many of the other propaganda films, including ‘Britain Can Take It’ this wasn’t one made at Blackheath’s GPO Film Unit, made by the smaller World Wide Pictures.

Some with longer memories than mine recognise the shop that ‘Mrs Green’ is coming out of as being Sainsburys at 58 Rushey Green (pictured below, probably just after the War), almost next door to the current Aldi Shop.

 

Credits

 

Notes

  1. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went to War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 – 1945, The People’s Story p23
  2. ibid p24
  3. ibid p23
  4. ibid p23

Harry Hutchens – ‘The Greatest Sprinter The World Has Seen‘

Over the years, Running Past has covered a lot of athletes with links to Lewisham and neighbouring areas, including the late Georgian walking pedestrians, such as George Wilson, to the journeymen runners of the 1840s like Tom Cook, the Edwardian professional marathon runner, Charlie Gardiner, and Philip Kingsford, a pioneering triple jumper. Another of these is Henry Hutchins, who competed as Harry Hutchens and was probably the best sprinter in the world of the Victorian era, setting times that are still impressive now.  He lived in Catford in the latter years that he was competing and remained there for the rest of his life – he was living at 134 Brookdale Road, below,  when he died.

Henry was the youngest of the six children of James and Elizabeth Hutchins; James was a journeyman stonemason who died whilst Elizabeth was pregnant with Harry.  In 1861 Elizabeth and the children aged 16 to 4 were living at 4 Gardners Lane, Alpha Place, Putney.  The census records are unclear but it is quite likely that Elizabeth and her family were sharing the house with another charwoman and her 5 children.  Gardners Lane still exists, renamed at Felsham Road.

The story told in numerous newspaper reports was that he was working as a messenger for WH Smith’s at Putney when he discovered how fast he was able to sprint.  He turned professional when he was 18 in 1876.

The way in which professional sprinting was organised in the late 19th century was very different to now.  Races were generally handicapped, based on recent form, with the aim of all the sprinters finishing together.  So while a race may nominally be over 140 yards, the slowest may have a 30 yard handicap (so start at 110 yards) with the quickest a much smaller handicap and so have further to run.  The logic was close races which would generate more betting interest, but times and distances were usually meaningless.

There was prize money on offer, often substantial amounts for the day, but the sport was driven by gambling with the athletes no doubt receiving a cut from their backers.  There were also instructions from the backers as to the amount of effort to put in during certain races as this would impact on the handicapping in future races.  The athletes were working class men who often made relatively little out of the sport; in this respect not much had changed since the days of the late Georgian walkers like the ‘Blackheath Pedestrian’,Blackheath Pedestrian’, the sprinters, such as William Gazeley, and  the distance running ‘pedestrians’ such as the Greenwich Cowboy who were both active in the 1840s.

While races were held all over the country, there were two big venues relating to professional sprinting – Sheffield, mostly based at a pub that is now part of Sheffield United’s ground, Bramall Lane, and at Powderhall in Edinburgh – a New Year’s meeting that Lewisham’s professional marathon runner Charlie Gardiner competed at.  Harry Hutchens was to make his name in Sheffield in March 1878 as a 20 year old.  He clearly wasn’t unknown to the handicappers as they started him within 5.5 yards of the then Champion, George Wallace, but Harry held on to win by a foot (1).

He was to win again the following year in Sheffield, despite a shortened handicap in the 130 yard race – he had stormed past the rest of the field before the halfway mark to win with ease – afterwards he offered to take on any other sprinter for £500 (presumably not his own money), although he had no takers (2).

While the big money would go to his backers and those who successfully bet on his races, Harry was presumably making some money by 1881 as he had married Harriet in 1880, they’d had a child Hilda in 1880.  Harry was described a ‘pedestrian’ in the census, but the successes in Sheffield didn’t mean that he was living in any grandeur; it seems that the house in Grove Terrace in Fulham was being shared with another household, but it was a step up from the cramped conditions he grew up in.

While not winning in 1882, he ran what he regarded as his finest race in Sheffield starting from scratch, he almost overtook sprinters with 7 yard advantages on him completing the 131.25 yards in 12.2 seconds (3).  This equates to around 10.3 for 100 metres, but it needs to be remembered that this was on a grass track, in conditions that weren’t ideal for sprinting.

His most impressive time came at the start of 1884 at the New Year’s Powderhall meeting in Edinburgh; it had snowed overnight and the track for the 300 yard race was ‘sloppy’ (4).  His dietary preparation for the races was roast beef and potatoes (5).  He won his heat in 30.4 seconds and had to run the final with no one within 18 yards of him.  Yet he ‘ran through the field like a deer through a frightened flock of sheep’ – winning comfortably in 30 seconds exactly (6).  It is now not an often run distance and there is some dispute as to whether the record still stands – but the then European 200 metres Champion, Doug Walker, tried, and failed, to beat it 1999 describing Hutchens sprint as

It was an amazing run, absolutely amazing. Apparently he had his hands in the air, celebrating, from 30 yards out. Some runner.

Later in the year he headed to the United States – although it wasn’t a particularly successful visit, results wise – although he no doubt had appearance money and expenses. He was beaten over 135 yards in Pastime Park, Philadelphia, on November 1 – the winner had a 21 yard start over Hutchens who lost by half a yard.  The third placed runner ‘could have won, but did not try’ the reporter noted – presumably on instructions from those funding him who no doubt had money on the other two sprinters.  An attempt to run 200 yards in 20 seconds for an ‘imaginary $300’ failed to properly materialise two days later (7).  He was sketched wearing somewhat strange sporting attire for the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic Journal whilst he was in the States (8).

Earlier in 1884, he lost in both February and Whitsun races in Sheffield in front of crowds of over 20,000 – in both outings he struggled against hard handicapping (9).

In 1886 he undertook at provincial tour in the Spring, including 140 yard races over 2 nights in Northampton for prizes of over £8 (10).  In the autumn he headed for Australia, hoping that it would improve his rheumatism (11); it was a long voyage during which he was seasick for large amounts of the trip (12).

The hors d’oeuvre was a series of races in just outside Sydney in Parramatta where Hutchens broke the 50 yard record with a time of at 5.6 seconds (13).  The main course was a series of races Carrington Grounds in Sydney against Charlie Samuels, an Aboriginal Australian, over 136 yards for £200 and the Championship of the World (14).  The first meeting was won by Samuels in 14.9. (15), a race that Hutchens later claimed he ran slow ‘to orders’ – presumably to improve odds in future races.

Samuels again won the second meeting in 15.1 (16), with Hutchens seemingly struggling with sciatica, but as in the previous race may well have been ‘running to contract’ 17).  In the final race, Hutchens romped away, finishing in 14.5 seconds, a much quicker time than Samuels had previously managed (18).  Also on the trip he beat the Irish sprinter, Tom Malone, who seemed to be struggling with hamstring issues (19).

While Hutchens was travelling back to Britain a new kid on the block emerged, winning impressively in Sheffield – Harry Gent from Darlington.  The gamblers that effectively ran the sport set up a high profile match between the Harrys – which was to be held at Lillie Bridge Grounds in September 1887.  It was a small arena, close to the current Stamford Bridge, that hosted many sports including boxing, cricket, cycling, football and athletics – Hutchens had already appeared and trained there (20). It is pictured below via Wikimedia Commons

Hutchens decamped to Leicester whilst preparing for the race – believing he would be less likely to be recognised, although was seen training with his coach, Joe Courtney at athletics grounds at Belgrave Road and Aylestone Road (21). Rumours abounded that Hutchens was out of shape and the race would be an easy victory for Gent, there was heavy betting on this basis. The crowd was estimated at between 6,000 (22) and 15,000 (23) paying a shilling to watch the race – the crowd was already there when Hutchens appeared looking very fit.  Bookmakers who backed Gent used ‘heavies’ threatened both sprinters effectively preventing them running (24).

What The Times described as ‘The Riot at Lillie Bridge’ ensued with disgruntled spectators feeling that they had been tricked, went on the rampage burning much of the stadium down, with the police and fire brigade seemingly powerless to do anything about it (25).  The race was eventually run in at Eslington Grounds in Gateshead, with Gent the victor by a couple of feet (26).

Hutchens (pictured below via Wikimedia Commons) competed infrequently during 1888, one of his few outings was at the Sportsman Running Grounds in Plumstead, under the auspices of Kent Professional Pedestrian Association, his handicap of 20 yards in a 125 yard race seemed to fail to recognise his actual form and he struggled (27).  The Grounds, in what are now part of HMP Belmarsh had some other tenants, a football club named after one of the local employers who became much better known – Woolwich Arsenal.

The only significant race he competed in during 1888 was notable only for its strangeness, a man v horse v horse and chariot race in London; Harry was the man and won comfortably over the 2 laps of a tight 150 yard course (28).

1889 seems to have been a year when he struggled with injuries – press reports of his races are few and far between, although the Sporting Life noted that he had ‘ricked’ his leg during May and would be unable to run for ‘some time’ (29). Earlier in the year he had lost in Northampton to W Roseblade, who had a 14.5 yard advantage, over 150 yards, losing out on a prize of £50 and no doubt a cut of betting profits (30).  1890 seems to have been even worse for the now 33 year old with no mentions of races in the press.

Such was his decline that he was described as ‘once famous’ in early 1891 (31).  In the short term this perhaps proved favourable to Harry as he was able to win his fourth and final Sheaf House handicap championship in Sheffield in February (32).

In 1892 there were reports of him competing much more than in the previous three years, including several at athletics grounds in Bow on an 800 yard track (33) and a second place in Battersea (34).

As was noted in one of the press reports of a race in 1893, the sport was a decline – ‘professional pedestrian matches are not so frequent these days that a contest between Harry Hutchens….and George Revell, of Newcastle, will pass unnoticed (35).’

It certainly seemed to that way  there appear to be no reports of the race which in previous years would have been newsworthy as both were former victors in Sheffield. Hutchens had a rare south east London outing during the year racing  at Browns Grounds in Nunhead (now part of Haberdashers‘ Aske’s playing fields), winning his heat but losing in the final (36).

Early in 1894 it was announced that it was to be his farewell season and that he would retire at the end of it.  A testimonial was arranged, subscribers included. venues he’d raced at and the Sporting Life. Harry was described as being ‘for sixteen years the champion sprinter of the world’ (37). He made various unsuccessful attempts during the year to beat his own records, often with pacers including ones in Paisley (38) and Stamford Bridge where ‘few were present’ (39).

The testimonial seems to have been a shambles, it’s main backer, the gambler, Sir John Astley, being left out of pocket and Hutchens getting nothing from it (40).

Probably as a result of the lack of income from the testimonial, reports of Harry Hutchens retirement ended up being premature, he was reported as having entered several races during 1895, although there were few results in the press – although he comfortably got through to the final of a race in West Bromwich in February (41), the result of the final didn’t seem to get a mention in the press though.

As we have seen, before his ‘retirement’ Hutchens had taken part in some odd races.  This continued into 1896 when Hutchens featured in several runner v cyclist sprints; track cycling was in the midst of a major boom with ‘cycling grounds’ and velodromes springing in numerous locations.  One of the these was at the newly built Catford Velodrome (pictured below, via eBay in February 2016), a long sprint from what was to be his home – where, in front of a 10,000 crowd (no doubt there in the main to see the cycling) he comfortably beat the professional cyclist Tom Osborn (42). In a similar race in Walsall he raced a cyclist over 100 yards, being only overhauled by the cyclist, Sam Vale, in the last few yards in front of 2,000 (43).

There were a few outings in 1897 including another unsuccessful race against the cyclist C F Barden in Wood Green (44) along with a heat win in a Christmas race in Leeds, although how he fared in the later rounds is not clear (45).

There were a few more traditional sprint races in 1898 – including revisiting West Bromwich where he had an easy win in the first heat, but the match being abandoned after disturbances concerning Hutchens opponent in the second round Hammond Jump (46).  Later in the year he lost to the Scot A R Downer in  Rochdale for a relatively large wager (47)

While well into his 40s Harry continued to occasionally race in 1899, he just lost to the much younger Charles Harper in Hanley over 200 metres despite having a handicap of 7 yards for a £50 prize (48). Hutchens did win one race that year when he competed in a strange 120 yard race against a woman cyclist at Putney Velodrome – he was described as ‘ungallant enough to beat’ Rosa Blackburn (49).

His last race, other than a strange race in his 50s (50), was one of his regular appearances in the West Midlands – it drew in the crowds in Bilston, but handicappers on the 120 yard race were harsh – with Hutchens on ‘scratch’ he was beaten by a lad (junior) with a 40 yard start in a ‘magnificent race.’  (51)

During most of his professional career he lived in Fulham with wife Harriet (born in 1859) and daughter, Hilda (1881) he seems to have moved to Catford and started working for the Woolwich Arsenal around 1899. How this happened isn’t clear, but certainly the Woolwich Arsenal appeared sympathetic to the career of another local professional athlete – the marathon runner,  Charlie Gardiner, who worked there in the early 1900s. By 1901 he was listed as a ‘Foreman In Royal Naval Ordnance Depot’ living with his wife Harriet, daughter Hilda (listed as a ‘Fancy Knitter’) and a lodger at 12 Bradgate Street (now Road).

While he’d had a successful career, it was no doubt others that had earned far more than Harry had through the gambling that pervaded the sport.  The failure of his benefit probably meant that he had little to show from his lengthy career.  It isn’t clear whether this contributed to Harry being arrested and found guilty of the theft of a charity box from a Northampton pub, he was sentenced to 14 days hard labour in 1903 (52).

He was still working at Woolwich Arsenal in 1911, listed as a ‘Leading Hand’ there – he’d moved down the street to locally and was now at 38 Bradgate Street– a relatively near neighbour of probably the oldest World War 1 soldier, Alfred Figes, at 79.  The household and trades were still the same though and there was a different lodger there.

Harriet died in 1930, but at the time of his death in 1939 when Harry died he was still living in the same bit of Catford, now at 134 Brookdale Road with Hilda and a different lodger.  Hilda died in Lewisham in 1952.

His death on 2 January 1939 was fifty-five years to the day after he had covered 300 yards in 30 seconds on a cold winter’s day in Edinburgh, a performance that still impresses historians of athletics.  It was to be the defining moment of his career – a time that is still impressive given the conditions, the nature of the track and the lack of modern training techniques and diet.

Notes

  1. Edward S Sears (2015) Running Through The Ages (Second Edition), McFarlane & Co, Jefferson North Carolina p76
  2. ibid p76
  3. ibid p76
  4. Edward S Sears (2008)George Seward: America’s First Great Runner, Lanham, Scarecrow Press p179
  5. 06 January 1939 – The Scotsman
  6. Sears (2008) op cit, p179
  7. 19 November 1884 – Sporting Life
  8. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic Journal, November 22 1884
  9. 22 January 1885 – Sporting Life – London
  10. Sporting Life 2 April 1886
  11. Sears (2015) p77
  12. The Sportsman 28 October 1886
  13. 02 March 1887 – Sporting Life
  14. Sears (2015) p77
  15. ibid
  16. ibid
  17. ibid
  18. 02 March 1887 – Sporting Life
  19. Sears (2015) p78
  20. 06 January 1939 – The Scotsman
  21. 10 September 1887 – Sporting Life
  22. The Times, 21 September 1887
  23. Sears (2015) p78
  24. ibid
  25. The Times, 21 September 1887
  26. 31 October 1887 – Lancashire Evening Post
  27. 27 April 1888 – Kentish Mercury
  28. Rugby Advertiser 6 October 1888
  29. 14 May 1889 – Sporting Life – London, London, England
  30. Sporting Life 30 January 1889
  31. 03 January 1891 – The Graphic
  32. 11 February 1891 – Yorkshire Evening Post
  33. 26 December 1892 – Sporting Life – London,
  34. 30 March 1892 – Sporting Life
  35. Pall Mall Gazette 30 December 1893
  36. 23 May 1893 – The Sportsman
  37. 12 January 1894 – Sporting Life
  38. 09 January 1894 – Sporting Life
  39. Penny Illustrated Paper 31 March 1894
  40. 12 December 1927 – Athletic News – Manchester, Lancashire, England
  41. 09 February 1895 – Sporting Life – London, London, England
  42. 04 May 1896 – St James’s Gazette – London, London, England
  43. 08 August 1896 – Sporting Life – London, London, England
  44. 31 July 1897 – Rugby Advertiser
  45. 22 December 1897 – Sporting Life – London, London, England
  46. 02 March 1898 – Sporting Life
  47. 16 September 1898 – The Salisbury Times
  48. Manchester Evening News 8 August 1899
  49. Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 13 May 1899
  50. Hawick News and Birder Chronicle 9 August 1912
  51. Sporting Life 18 October 1899
  52. Bolton Evening News 1 August 1903

Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)

Thank you to Mike Guilfoyle for jogging my memory about Harry

The Two Boone’s Chapels

Boone’s Chapel on Lee High Road is a impressive former church building on Lee High Road; it is one of only two Grade I listed buildings in Lewisham, the other being St Paul’s in Deptford. Less well known is that there is another Boone’s Chapel – about 500 metres up Lee High Road. This post looks at both of them starting with the listed variant.

‘…..a delightful little brick rectangle with stone trimming, two heavy round-headed windows on the front, equally heavy oval windows higher on the east, west and south, and heavy pediments on the same sides; octagonal cupola on the centre of the roof.’ (1)

Originally, there seems to have been a carved stone angel above the door but supports rusted away it was lost in a storm, probably in the early 19th century.

Christopher Boone had bought Lee Place around 1670 following the death of George Thomson. The Chapel was built for the Boones; it has been attributed to Wren, but was probably designed by Robert Hooke and construction finished around 1683, along with some almshouses built next door on the High Road. We will return to these almshouses, along with the Merchant Taylor’s almshouses, behind, at some point.

Between 1683 and 1877 the Chapel was used as a place of worship for the Boone family, the almshouse residents and as a chapel-of-ease for St Margaret’s Parish. After Christopher Boone died in 1686, the Chapel was also used as a mausoleum for him and his wife. The burial place in a chamber beneath the floor was discovered during restoration works on the Chapel in 2006.

When the Chapel was built, it was close to the gate to the estate; at this stage the main road broadly followed the course of Old Road. There were regular accidents on the sharp bend with carts going to and from London markets. During a service in 1813, when St Margaret’s was being rebuilt, a horse and cart failed to navigate the corner and the horse ended up inside the Chapel!

While it was one of the first London buildings scheduled for preservation, it had largely fallen into disuse by the end of World War Two. In 1999 Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust was set up to try to restore the Chapel. The initial plan involved some cross subsidisation with a block of new almshouses at the back. However, alternative funding streams through the National Lottery Heritage Fund were found that meant that this wasn’t needed and the Chapel was restored, with work being completed in 2008. The Chapel is now home to an architectural practice although is regularly open to the public including during Open House weekend.

Before moving up Lee High Road, it is worth pausing briefly by the adjacent wall, which is part of the Grade I listing, while the listing mentions ‘3 brick and stone piers and ball caps’ what is probably more interesting is a very weathered coat of arms, that of the Merchant Taylors Company (2).

The ‘other’ Boone’s Chapel was described by Pevsner as ‘a neat new Gothic chapel ….. red brick, apsed, lancet style.’ (3) It was designed by Edward Blakeway I’Anson, who was the third generation of the family practicing in a City of London architectural firm.  The replacement almshouses were built either side of it – as the photograph below shows.

This second Boone’s Chapel dates from around 1875. The land will have been the first part of the estate of Lee House to have been sold off; there had been attempts to sell the whole estate in the early 1870s, but in the end only a narrow strip alongside Lee High Road was sold; 344 to 368 were built in the late 1870s and Blenheim Villas, 334 -342 a few years earlier (4).

While it was generally referred to locally as Boone’s Chapel, it was consecrated as St John the Baptist. It was later referred to as ‘a missionary outpost of the parish (of St Margaret’s) where the rector’s volunteer workers came to do good with the Lee villagers on whom curates also learnt their craft.’ (5)

It was slightly odd that this part of Lee had continued to be ministered to by St Margaret’s parish even when the ‘new’ parishes of Christ Church (1854) on Lee Park, Holy Trinity on Glenton Road (1863), St Mildred’s on the South Circular (1872) and the Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road (1881) were carved out of it. It was connected by a small isthmus of land between Old Road and Boone Street.

The parishioners included some of the Noble family from Lampmead Road. We have covered the 1920s and 1930s childhood reminiscences of Phyllis Willmott (née Noble) a few times in relation to the Sunday Constitutional, trips to Lee Working Men’s Club on Lee Road and in interwar play.

She notes that the Nobles weren’t a chapel or church going family; her mother had a Methodist upbringing but went to the chapel a couple of hundred metres from their home as ‘social pleasures drew her, a chance for a word or two with friends and neighbours; the chance to sit back and remember the Sundays of her own childhood.’ (6)

Part of the joy of going seemed to be the dressing up in the ‘Sunday Best’ even if the clothes were from a jumble sale. Her mother put on ‘a slick of powder and lipstick and perhaps a new feather in an old hat or, for me, putting the latest find from a jumble which we persuaded ourselves we had succeeded in making “as good as new.”’ (7)

Phyllis’ brothers were choristers in the small choir, girls seem not to have been allowed to join. They occasionally sang solos, which guaranteed her mother’s presence (8). The social aspect of going to church was important – her Mother would chat to friends and neighbours outside and shake hands with the curate who would take the service (9).

Her parents seemed to have assumed that religion was ‘a good thing for young children but something they naturally grew out of;’ it seemed particularly helpful as it allowed supervised childcare on Sundays. Most of the other children in the Bible Class seemed be from the ‘posh’ side of Lee High Road, the Blackheath side, rather than the poorer streets to the south (10). This changed when the evangelical Harold Plumstead became curate and organised lots of activities using them as an opportunity to persuade the children to ‘see the light’ and ‘stand up for Jesus.’ (11). Despite the lack of church origin tradition within the family, Phyllis was confirmed when she was 13 (12).

It seems that the church was at least partially rebuilt in the 1920s suffering some limited damage during World War 2, although it reopened in 1947 (13). However, it’s temporary closure probably sounded the Chapel’s death knell as its congregation dispersed in 1952 (14). Its listing in Kelly’s didn’t change though, so while not used, it seems to have remained in the ownership of St Margaret’s. During the 1960s the church unsuccessfully sought to turn part of the site into a petrol station.

By 1975, Kelly’s Directory was describing it as a ‘Pentecostal Church’ although by 1980 the entry had changed to ‘Assemblies of God Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.’ They added the single story modern frontage completed in 1984. More recently there were unsuccessful attempts to demolish the entire site and rebuild the church with some flats (the unsanctioned demolition of most of the almshouses will be covered in a later post.)

Behind the single-storey frontage are the red brick remnants of the original church.

Along with the New Testament Church of God next door, the church seems popular with dense parking in neighbouring streets at the time of Sunday services.

Notes

  1. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner (1983) The Buildings of England – London 2: South p426
  2. Lewisham Leisure (1990) From The Tiger to The Clocktower
  3. Cherry and Pevsner op cit p426
  4. Lewisham Lesiure, op cit
  5. Phyllis Willmott (1979) Growing Up in a London Village p119
  6. ibid p119
  7. ibid p119
  8. ibid p121
  9. ibid p122
  10. Phyllis Willmott (1983) A Green Girl p40
  11. ibid p42
  12. ibid p43
  13. Lewisham Leisure, op cit
  14. ibid

Credits

  1. The Kelly’s Directory information comes from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark archives.
  2. The black and white photograph of the 1875 variant of the church is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  3. The photograph of the original Boone’s Chapel and almshouses is from The Proceedings of the Lewisham Antiquarian Society 1908 on a Creative Commons

Preparations for World War Two – ARP Wardens, Sirens and Black Outs

As part of the 80th anniversary of World War 2 breaking out, Running Past has been looking at some of the preparations for war on the ‘Home Front.’ So far, this has included Lewisham children being evacuated to Kent then Surrey and the variety of shelters used to one of the key elements try to keep the civilian population safe during air raids. We return now to the Civil Defence services set up to try to keep the civilian population that remained in London and other urban centres as safe as possible from the air attacks that were expected soon after war broke out.  This post looks in particular the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) service.

Like the building of shelters, the roots go back to the interwar period. The ARP Department of the Home Office was set up in 1935 (1),  although appeals for volunteers were not made until 1937 – the approach was based on studying the impact of fascist bombing of Republican areas of Spain and the measures that were employed on the ground there (2). A second appeal for volunteers was made in March 1938 (3).

In the months before war broke out, it was agreed to pay full time ARP personnel £3 per week, although only £2 for women, with recruitment posters stressing the desire for ‘responsible men.’ Later in the year payments for some part time personnel were agreed (4).

Some of the early work that ARP wardens had to contend with was enforcing the blackout that was introduced on 1 September 1939 and lasted until April 1945 (5). Shop windows were darkened from 6:00 pm as were houses – requiring heavy curtains or blankets to ensure that no light escaped. Streets in almost darkness were dangerous with a large increase in injuries – 20% of the population reported as having suffered blackout related injuries in the first 4 months that they were in operation.

Road deaths increased around 40% when compared with pre-war fatalities. Regular readers will recall that a few years earlier Lewisham streets were noted as being some of the most dangerous in London.

Source ebay March 2016

Their control centre was in the basement of the old Town Hall in Catford (above) and, after January 1940, was funded through the rates, a predecessor of Council Tax (6). Every bombing, incendiary and related incident was phoned through to the ARP control centre who effectively acted as an emergency call centre.  They would find out about injuries, deaths, those trapped or missing, any fires that couldn’t be controlled locally (7) and look to send emergency services to assist.  On nights where there was heavy bombardment or large numbers of incendiary devices dropped these were not always available, as we saw with the fire that destroyed the original Church of the Good Shepherd in Lee, below.

Below is one small part of the Lewisham ARP log for the period between Christmas and New Year in 1940, while there had been a lull on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, hundreds of high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped over the next few days, many around Lee. We’ll explore these attacks in much more detail in later posts.

At the level below the control centre, Individual wardens were based at schools and some purpose built concrete ‘pillboxes’ (8) around the community. They each served a population of 2 to 3,000, typically with a complement of six wardens, mainly part time (9).

One of the ARP posts in Lee was at what was then Hedgley Street School, pictured above (it was later Northbrook and currently Trinity Lewisham School) on the corner of Taunton Road. Running Past has covered the Noble family, who started the war at 49 Lampmead Road, a number of times before, including in relation to 1920’s play and the ‘Sunday Constitutional.’ Several of the family members worked for the ARP – Phyllis was briefly a warden with a navy battledress and steel helmet with a large white ‘W’ on the front (10). Her brother Joe and a cousin, who also lived at 49 Lampmead Road, worked as messengers based at the School – while in theory there were telephone links to Catford, cycle and motor cycle based messengers were used too in case lines came down.

The school was hit while Phyllis’ younger brother, Joe, was working there and partially destroyed. He was to be the only one injured – a bruised ankle from a falling fireplace (11). The ARP post presumably moved to an undamaged part of the evacuated school.

On the ground, the local ARP wardens would deal with whatever was needed, this ranged from providing first aid to those injured in incidents, directing people to shelters and help in getting the dead and injured out of bombed premises, this was both for hits on houses as well as the larger scale destruction of incidents like the attack on Sandhurst Road School in early 1943.

In front of St Stephens Church in Lewisham is a tall metal post with what looks like a pair of speakers attached to the top. It is easy to miss, particularly when the adjacent trees alongside the Quaggy are in leaf. It seems to be Lewisham’s last remaining air raid warning siren – one of around 25 around the then Boroughs of Deptford and Lewisham (12).

Once the warning sounded ARP wardens ensured that residents took cover in one of the air raid shelters; they sounded on over 1200 occasions during the war. Other locations seem to have included a former police station on Catford Hill, Catford Police Station on Bromley Road and Sandhurst Road School. The survival of the Lewisham one probably relates to its location next to the Quaggy and has a residual use as a flood warning siren.

The chilling sound of the air raid warning siren and, at the end, the all clear sound is on the YouTube video.

Finally, it is worth remembering that many ARP wardens lost their lives during the war; across London around 300 perished (13).  Those that died serving their community in Lewisham included (14):

  • Albert Brown (64) of 1 Eliot Hill was Injured at 14 Montpelier Vale on 8 March 1945 in the aftermath of the V-2 attack on Blackheath and died later the same day at Lewisham Hospital (pictured below);
  • Henry Cottell (52) was a Senior Air Raid Warden of 41 Manor Lane Terrace was injured at Lee High Road on 29/12/1940 and died same day at Lewisham Hospital;
  • Barbara Fleming (16) of 20 Farmfield Road in Bellingham was injured on 16/04/1941 at Warden’s Post, Ashgrove Road; died same day at Lewisham Hospital;
  •  Douglas Hardisty (44) ; of 70 Vancouver Road in Forest Hill who was a Captain in the  Home Guard as well as being an ARP Warden was Injured 21 March 1944, at corner of Vancouver Road and Kilmorie Road; he died at Lewisham Hospital;
  • Kenneth Smith (33) of 251 Burnt Ash Hill was injured at Methodist Chapel, Burnt Ash Hill on 13/10/1940 and died same day at Lewisham Hospital; and
  • Marjorie Wickens (19) of 7 Taunton Road died at the Albion Way Shelter on 11 September 1940.


Running Past will return to the fire watchers, the expanded fire service and other elements of the in later posts on World War Two.

Notes

  1. Mike Brown (1999) Put That Light Out! Britain’s Civil Defence Services at War 1939-45 -Stroud, Sutton Publishing p2
  2. ibid p3
  3. ibid p5
  4. ibid p7
  5. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went To War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 – 1945 p12
  6. ibid p28
  7. ibid p28
  8. ibid p27
  9. ibid p27
  10. Phyllis Willmott (1988) Coming Of Age in Wartime – London, Peter Owen, p42
  11. ibid p45
  12. Blake, op cit, p41
  13. ibid p29
  14. These are based on records from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website

Picture Credits

  • The recruitment poster comes from the collection of the Imperial War Museum and is used on a Non-Commercial Licence.;
  • The photograph of Hedgley Street School & the ruins of the Good Shepherd come from a booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p16 and it used with the church’s permission;
  • The picture of Sandhurst Road School is via The Newsshopper;
  • The postcard of the Town Hall is from eBay in March 2016;
  • The ARP Log is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it is used with their consent and remains their copyright;
  • The photograph of Blackheath is of an unknown source, although given its age is probably a government one and would thus be out of copyright; and
  • The ARP helmet is via Wikipedia and is on a Creative Commons.

 

Preparation for World War Two – Going Underground

At the time of the anniversary of evacuation Running Past, started to look at some of the preparations for war on the ‘Home Front’ with Lewisham children being evacuated to Kent then Surrey.  We return now to some of the preparations that were made to try to keep the civilian population that remained in Lewisham as safe as possible from the air attacks that were expected soon after war broke out – looking here at air raid shelters.

In theory, planning had started just after World War 1 with the setting up of the Air Raid Precautions Committee in 1924.  As regular readers of Running Past will recall, there had been devastating air raids during World War 1 on both Glenview Road in Hither Green with a Zeppelin attack (above), and with a Gotha airplane attack on Sydenham Road which also bombed the area around Staplehurst Road and Hither Green Station. However, little progress had been made because of the apparently irreconcilable conflict between the need to send the public underground for shelter from air attack but the need to keep them above ground for in the event of gas attacks.  The latter had been expected as a result of gas attacks during World War 1.

During the Munich Crisis of September 1938 the Government instructed local authorities to start building trench air raid shelters with precast concrete walls which were then covered.  They became a permanent feature in the lead up to war.

There were a series of public shelters in Lewisham High Street under the planted area that ran down most of the market (see above from a couple of decades before World War 2) – they had to cope with day time raids when the town centre would be busy (1). One of these was to be hit by a V-1 flying bomb in July 1944. There were also large public shelters opposite Lewisham Hospital and in the grounds of Robertson’s Golden Shred works on Bromley Road (2).

Running Past covered a couple of the Lee shelters that were located in Manor House Gardens – one in the Ice House, and the other seemingly under the grass almost next to it – the likely outline appeared in the drought of 2018.  A third was under the lawn in front of Manor House Library was mentioned in passing in the Lewisham ARP log (3).

A large one was also constructed in the grounds of Merchant Taylors’ almshouses (above), although it isn’t clear whether this was just for the inhabitants of the almshouses or for wider use.  There is a ‘ghost sign’ on the external wall to the almshouses on the corner of Brandram and Lee High Roads – although it has faded and it isn’t certain whether it is pointing to Manor House Gardens or the almshouses.

Some local streets also had communal shelters too – one is shown at the back of a photograph of a VE Day street party in Taunton Road in Lee.

The public shelters were not bomb-proof and many people were killed in direct hits – this included one on the Albion Way shelter in Lewisham where 41 people died on 11 September 1940.  There was another street air raid shelter in the next road – Mercia Grove.  Memories of which were included on the BBC website around the 50th anniversary of VE Day – which was described

At the bottom of the stairs there were four bays. Each bay had a wooden slatted seat at either side, along its length. …We soon made the shelter comfortable, with rugs for the floor and a paraffin stove for warmth and to boil a kettle. We slept on the floor and on the benches. After a while, bunks were installed. These served as seats during the day when it was a public shelter and at night we were issued shelter tickets and a designated bunk number. .. Soon there was a sink installed and a small portable oven, for which we paid a small rental fee. When the blitz was at its height we went down at 6.30 after the evening meal, until the all clear, or until it was time to get ready to go to work the next day. On the long summer evenings (double British summertime) we played gramophone records in the street and danced to the music, when all was quiet, no Jerry’s above.

Other locations too were used as air raid shelters, including underneath railway arches, such as those in Ladywell which, like its Lee counterparts, had a painted sign showing the way to it which still survives above it.

Below, a probably more permanent one than was possible under the arches in Ladywell is pictured from elsewhere in SE London. There were also railway arch shelters at Plough Bridge (sheltering 40, close to Lewisham Station); Morley Road (95) and Catford Hill (105) (4).

 

Elsewhere in London tube stations were used, but this clearly wasn’t an option in south east London. Initially cellars and basements of larger houses, churches and factories were also used but their use brought with it dangers of collapse of the building above with heavy masonry or machinery coming through from higher floors.   A few buildings built just ahead of World War Two were built with air raid shelters, such as one in East Sheen, covered in the excellent Flickering Lamps blog.

One of the stranger public shelters used by Lee and Hither Green residents involved catching a train to Chislehurst to shelter in the caves; even when London had been free of attacks for a couple of months in July 1941, 2,000 still sheltered there every night (5).

Not all air raid shelters were communal ones, it wasn’t always feasible for people to quickly get to the public ones, so individual household ones were developed – Anderson shelters (below) which were external and the internal Morrison ones.

Anderson shelters were named after Sir John Anderson, who was the Government Minister responsible for air-raid precautions prior to the outbreak of World War II.  They were made from 14 galvanised steel panels bolted together and were 1.8 m high, 2 metres long and 1.4 metres wide, and were buried 1.2 metres deep and then covered with 40 centimetres of soil.  They ‘housed’ six and were issued free to all householders who earned less than £5 a week, which was most people in areas such as Lewisham; those with a higher income were charged £7 for them.  In Lewisham around 23,000 were issued – so about 192,000 could be accommodated (6).

Running Past visited a partially fictional Anderson shelter on the Brockley/New Cross borders when looking at one of the early works of one of Lewisham’s best known authors – David Lodge’s Out of The Shelter.

While they performed well apart from dealing with direct hits, as they were buried in the ground they tended to be cold and damp, not the place to spend lots of consecutive nights – something common at the height of the German Bombing campaign.  The level of waterlogging led some Lewisham families to go back to the original advice and hide under the stairs.

My former next door neighbours  Jack (actually George) and Doris had an Anderson Shelter in their garden which was still dug into its original place by his first wife’s parents; while the soil covering of the roof was removed, they used it as a shed until they died in the late 1990s.  This was not uncommon – while local authorities collected the shelters as scrap many hung on to them, with several memories of playing in them in and around Lewisham into the 1960s.

Morrison Shelters were indoor shelters which, in theory at least, could be used as tables between air raids.  They were named after the Minister of Home Security at the time that they were first issued – Herbert Morrison, who was to become Labour MP for Lewisham South in the 1945 General Election.

Pictured below, they were effectively a cage 2 metres, by 1.2 metres and 0.75 metres high with a steel plate top and mesh sides. They had to be assembled IKEA-like by the household, with tools supplied.  Like the Anderson Shelters, they were provided free to low income households.  Around 500,000 were distributed during the Blitz with a further 100,000 ahead of V-1 attacks.  They were much more effective than the Anderson Shelters in preventing protecting households even withstanding some direct hits.

In posts in the not too distant future we will look at other World War 2 preparations on the Home Front – gas masks, warning sirens, the Women’s Voluntary Services and the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) wardens.

Notes

  1. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went To War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 – 1945 p41
  2. ibid p42
  3. The ARP log for Lewisham is a fragile document that lists (virtually) all the attacks, property by property, raid by raid – we will come back to this in future posts.
  4. Blake op cit p43
  5. ibid p43
  6. ibid p41

 

Picture credits

 

 

The Sultan – A Lost Lee High Road Pub

The Sultan was a Lee High Road pub on the corner of Clarendon Rise which was demolished in the early 2000s and is now (2019) a Nandos with four floors of flats above. This post attempts to tell the story of the pub whose drinkers included on occasion John Cooper Clarke and Siouxsie & the Banshees.

There have been two pubs on the site; the first seems to date back to around 1825 (1) and predated the development of the College Park estate on the opposite side of the Quaggy. When built, there was no bridge over the river at that point – this seems to have come as the estate behind was developed. Little is known of the first incarnation until its latter years other than the Lord of the Manor omitting to collect the rent so the tenant obtaining the title (2).

While the unknown tenant may have taken ownership, the beer house seems to have been bought by Courage at some time in the 1860s and 1870s; it was reported in 1870 that they had given a 17 year lease to Ambrose Paine who had gone bankrupt.  His mother, Elizabeth had asked to take over the tenancy but was refused and Courage took them to court to gain vacant possession (3).

Robert Janes, born around 1825, was the landlord during the 1870s – in 1871, he and his wife, Martha and five children were living over the pub, and unlike many other local pubs of the era there were no live-in staff. A decade earlier and he’d been a butcher living on Lewisham Road, close to Blackheath Hill.  It was a trade that he’d carried on in Lewisham in 1851.

The Quaggy which runs behind the site flooded badly in 1878 – the picture above shows the damage a few hundred metres upstream at Eastdown Park.  The flood  seems to have seriously financially damaged Janes – it was the third time in his stewardship that it had flooded and unlike neighbours, who had some financial relief from the parish, Janes got nothing – he posed the question in the local press as to whether it was ‘on account of my being a beer house keeper?’ (4).

The letter may have had an impact though as a new gully was constructed to try to protect the cellars and they escaped flooding in August 1879 (5).

The next name above the door was that of Frederick Waghorn from the spring of 1880 – Frederick put out adverts in the local press advertising ‘wines and spirits of the finest quality’ at The Sultan in (5).   Frederick was noted as being a plasterer in the 1881 census, so it was presumably Sarah who was running the pub its early years.  Frederick died in 1889.

At some stage in their period at The Sultan, the beer house was rebuilt (7).  Throughout the period that the Waghorns were there, the new building was split with a shop front on the corner of Clarendon Rise – as the mid-1890s Ordnance Survey map below shows. Between 1886, and probably earlier, the occupants of 16 on the corner were fruitiers, initially Thomas Longhurst but from 1888 to the end of the first decade of the 20th century Walklings, although  variety of others used the site too.

In the early days the of the Waghorn tenancy the Sultan was also home to the Lee and Lewisham Harmonic Brotherhood, who held a quarterly supper there (8).

After Frederick’s death, the licence passed several times between family members – initially it was Sarah’s name on the brass plate (9), but it was transferred to her son Walter in 1896 (10).

However, it was back in Sarah’s name by 1904 as she was found guilty of ‘selling intoxicating liquor to a drunken person’ (11). She was back in court for the same offence the following year but with a much larger fine of £2 with costs (12).  The pub is on the right hand side of the photograph below from Lee Bridge from around this era, although its ‘sign’ isn’t that clear.

By 1911 George Craddock was pulling the pints at The Sultan, he was a Bermondsey boy, helped by his wife Alice – they’d probably been there a couple of years as their young children were born in Lee. George came from a family of pub landlords – his father was running Blackheath’s Royal Standard in 1901, and a decade before the City Arms in West Square, Bermondsey. His older brother, Thomas, ran the Woodman further up Lee High Road.  George stayed at The Sultan until the late 1920s.  It seems that it was under his stewardship that The Sultan took over the shop front next door, around 1925. It seems that he moved onto a different pub – in the 1939 Register he was listed as a Licensed Victualler, living in Upwood Road although it isn’t clear which pub he was running.  He died in Lewisham in 1967.

By the 1930 Kelly’s Directory it was listed as being run by Richards and Sons. Nine years later, when World War 2 broke out the landlord was, Leonard Orves who lived some distance away in Ronver Road.   W J High was the landlord in 1945; succeed by his wife or daughter Ellen in 1950.  Beyond the 1950s while the pub is listed in Kelly’s Directories, the name of the landlord is absent,

Roll forward 50 years, the pub had a mixed, but overall positive, review in the News Shopper in 2000; their Pub Spy described as a ‘curious little gaff’ which ‘doesn’t exactly look welcoming from the outside.’ It had an ‘Under New Management’ sign – usually subtext for past problems which may or may not have been dealt with.

The décor was mainly dark wooden panelling, the public bar complete with pool table was empty although the lounge at the rear was busier and noisier with rock ‘n’ roll and reggae from the jukebox.  The review summed the pub up as

The Sultan is not a good bet for young groups on the razzle, or even an ideal family boozer. But it is a pub for friendly, real people who enjoy their drink.

The new management didn’t last long though, as in October 2002 planning permission was granted to demolish and replace The Sultan with a 4 storey block of flats and a restaurant – presumably the well-known purveyor of peri peri chicken, Nando’s, had been lined up by the developers before their submission.  Its neighbour is the stunning London Sivan Kovil Hindu Temple, just visible behind.

With most of the Lewis ham and Lee pubs that have disappeared there seem to be fond memories on-line, these were included for posts on pubs such as the Woodman and New Tiger’s Head further up Lee High Road and the town centre pubs The Plough and The Roebuck.  Sadly, with The Sultan there are few memories, even fewer than for the largely unlamented loss of the Prince Arthur at Lee Green.  Even a photograph proved tricky to find – it wasn’t clearly photographed in any of the boxes of photographs of Lee or Lewisham at Lewisham Archives.  The nearest was a photograph taken from the Lee Bridge (see above) the junction of Lewis Grove, Belmont Hill and Lee High Road. 

I have no fond memories of the Sultan either – I can only remember going in once, and that wasn’t planned.  Sometime during 1993, I had been into Lewisham with my toddler son in a buggy and was confronted by a low-speed car chase – the pursued car had come out of Clarendon Rise, had mounted the pavement in a vain attempt to evade the traffic backing up at the junction of Belmont Hill and Lewis Grove.  The narrow pavement was busy so the driver slowly inched towards the Clock Tower.

I took evasive action and pushed the buggy into the Sultan’s lounge; I was met by a small, slightly unsteady stampede coming the other way of drinkers, glasses in hand, eager to find out the reason for the siren and flashing lights.  The Sultan wasn’t the most inviting pub lounge I’ve ever been in – dark and a fug of smoke so thick that the bar was a little indeterminate in outline.  Outside the excitement swiftly abated; the police pursuers had quickly arrested the driver who had come to a halt when a lamppost blocked his path.  The drinkers retreated back into the boozer and we returned to the healthier atmosphere of the heavily polluted Lee High Road with the young driver being led away by the constabulary.

While I have no fond memories, David (see comments below) most certainly did from the late 1970s and early 1980s

I drank here from 1977 to 81. I lived up the road in 35 Gilmore road. It was run by Dougie an ex boxer, who everyone called Dougie Sultan. He would punch any drinkers who misbehaved. He was short but shaped like a barrel. It was a real dive but tolerated any drinker who behaved. We were punks and art school kids and unwelcome in most pubs, but not the Sultan. As a consequence at some point it hosted for a drink Siouxie and the Banshees, Swellsie the pink poet, John Cooper Clark and many others.

A featured drinker was a council worker called Sid who resurrected knocked over lampposts. He used to sing a song at the to of his voice – “I am pissy Sid from Sydenham Hill, never worked and never will”.

The Sultan- to its credit, was significant in the “Battle of Lewisham High Street”, when the National Front marched through Lewisham – by joining forces with the Kebab shop opposite (the Bogaz Icci) to drive the fascists out.

As with other ‘lost pub posts’ on Running Past, it would be good to be able to add in some other memories into the post. If you worked there or drank there tell your story – who were the characters that were regulars at The Sultan? What about the landlord, the staff, the atmosphere, recollections of the friends and the memorable nights.  You can use your Facebook or Twitter login to comment here, first comments here get moderated before they appear though.  If you found the post via Facebook, you can write your recollections there.  I will update the post with the memories.  Please don’t put anything libelous or that might offend others though…..

Notes

  1. Ken White (1992) The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham, Part 6C p240
  2. ibid p240
  3. Kentish Mercury 12 March 1870
  4. Kentish Mercury 03 August 1878
  5. Kentish Mercury 30 August 1879
  6. Woolwich Gazette 17 April 1880 and several others
  7. White, op cit, p240
  8. Kentish Mercury 17 December 1886
  9. Kentish Mercury 14 February 1890
  10. Kentish Mercury 28 August 1896
  11. Kentish Independent 24 June 1904
  12. Kentish Mercury 02 June 1905

Picture & Other Credits

  • The photographs from Lee Bridge and of the bridge on Eastdown Park are part of the collection of Lewisham Archives and is their copyright and used with their permission.
  • The Kelly’s Directory information comes from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark archives.
  • Census and related data come via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The Ordnance Survey map is part of the National Library of Scotland’s collection and is used on a non-commercial licence.