Tag Archives: Ardmere Road

World War Two Damage on Springbank Road

There have been several posts in Running Past on World War 2 bombings and post-war reconstruction, many of these have been around V-1 and V-2 attacks such as those on Lenham Road, Lewisham Hill, along with a pair of Hither Green ones – Nightingale Grove and  Fernbrook Road.  More recently Running Past has covered the attacks that happened on three nights on their 80th anniversaries – the First Night of the Blitz of the as well as the post Christmas raids on the nights of 27/28 and 29/30 December 1940.  We turn our attention now to the more widespread damage on Springbank Road caused through a variety of attacks. 

Key: black=total destruction, purple=damaged beyond repair, dark red=seriously damaged (doubt if repairable), light red=seriously damaged (repairable at cost), orange=general blast damage (non-structural), yellow=blast damage (minor), green=clearance area

The level and scale of damage becomes clear when looking at the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps pictured above (1) which shows that most of the houses in the street had some form of damage.  Rather than Springbank Road itself, Hither Green marshaling yards, behind the eastern side of the street, were one of the two main Luftwaffe targets in Hither Green during the Blitz, the other being the hospital (2). The damage was much greater to Springbank Road though than to the west of the railway. 

Large swathes of the street were mapped as red by the London County Council surveyors – ‘seriously damaged (doubt if repairable)’ or worse.  In reality, a lot more end up surviving the war than the map suggests.

The Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service logs make for fascinating reading in terms of trying to work out what damage happened when in Hither Green and the extent of the damage.  However, as we’ve seen in relation the First Night of the Blitz as well as the post-Christmas raids, recording in the log was patchy at best with some high explosive and incendiary bombs only being recorded by the Fire Brigade and others, which were dealt with by local ARP Fire Wardens, were never recorded.

On the third night of the Blitz, on 9 September 1940, it is clear that 136 Springbank Road was hit.  What is less clear is whether this was a direct hit or the fallout from the bombing of the house behind at 51 Wellmeadow Road. This was the house was on the corner with Torridon Road and marked in black on the map above and was completely destroyed. This part of Wellmeadow Road was rebuilt after the War.  William Brown (83) and Alice Budd (56) died at 51 Wellmeadow Road that night. 

136 Springbank was less badly damaged, although it seems to have undergone some wartime or post-war rebuilding work as from the front from the variety of slightly different bricks were used.  One of the inhabitants was Mary Hutcheson – it was a large house that she shared with a couple – the Gallotts.   Mary was seriously injured in the bombing, although she lived for another 6 months before dying at St Alfege’s Hospital (later Greenwich) on 10 March 1941, aged 82. 

Elsewhere on Springbank Road, there was some serious damage further down the street with 213 to 225 completely destroyed. The date of this bombing isn’t clear as the attacks appear not to have been recorded in the ARP log (3).  Unlike 136 Springbank, no one was killed in the attack, although given the scale of the damage it would be surprising if there were no injuries.  213 to 225 (pictured above) were rebuilt as a mixture of Borough of Lewisham houses and flats after the war.  On the other side of the street, there was destruction and rebuilding too, but you have to look closely to see the differences compared with the original Corbett estate homes – the brickwork around the doors and windows is different and the homes are similar to replacement houses in Wellmeadow Rod, which we’ll cover below.

Elsewhere on the eastern side, homes got away with some more limited damage; there had to be re-building work at 211; while its next-door neighbour didn’t survive, the roof, chimneys and bay wall had to be re-built at 211.

There had were several nights during December 1940, notably that of 29/30, when the area on the other side of the railway had seen 1 kg incendiary bombs raining down.  Springbank Road escaped on those nights. However, three weeks earlier on the night of 8/9 December, there had been a similar attack over a slightly wider area – there were a trio of hits at just before 11:00 pm at the southerly end of Springbank Road – none of the repots had any indication of the extent of any damage or casualties.  It could have been the attack that destroyed 213 to 225, as the fire services will have been overstretched that night, although incendiary damage tended to be of a much smaller scale and often put out by wardens.

V-1 doodlebug attacks started to pepper the area from 16 June 1944 – in Hither Green and neighbouring areas, during the first week there had been attacks between George Lane and Davenport Road on 16 June; Lewisham Park the same day; Lewisham Hill and Leahurst Road on 17 June and the junction of Lenham and Lampmead Roads on 22 June. 

Research on the accuracy of V-1s has noted that they had ‘relatively low accuracy… compared to modern missile systems’ but that the aim of the attacks was ‘to achieve its terror and urban damage objectives’ rather than hit specific targets.  So, V1 flying bomb hits on Hither Green and surrounding areas weren’t specifically targeted here.  Indeed, as we have mentioned in other posts on V-1 attacks there is some evidence to suggest that false intelligence was spread back to Germany which indicated that the early V-1 flying bombs were overshooting the north west of London and latter ones were re-calibrated slightly leading to south London boroughs such as Lewisham, Woolwich and Croydon being disproportionately affected.

At around 7:15 in the morning of Friday 23 June 1944 Hither Green had a double hit either site of the railway – Fernbrook Road, which Running Past covered a while ago and Springbank Road; where the block of Corbett Estate housing of 104 to 116 Springbank Road was either destroyed or had to be demolished along with the similar houses behind in 27-37 Wellmeadow Road – the scale of debris blocked Springbank Road for a while.

It was perhaps surprising that only one person died, Annie Taylor (57) who was visiting 110 Springbank from her home at 121 Brightfield Road – Annie was a widow and had lived with her son and daughter in law.  There were several reports of the level of injuries in the ARP log – which were thought at one point to be as high as 25, although final tally seemed to be 14. 

We don’t know the identity of those injured but from the 1939 Register we can work out something about the people who were living in 104 to 116 Springbank Road and the houses behind in 27-37 Wellmeadow Road.  Before doing that, it is worth remembering that the houses had been built as suburbia for the middle classes of Victorian and Edwardian London.  The houses in Springbank Road were some of the later ones built on the Corbett Estate and didn’t appear in the 1901 census, but were in the 1911 edition. The difference between Springbank Road and nearby streets such as Ardmere Road in 1911 is dramatic.  The latter had been built as working class housing with the small houses generally shared between two households with income coming from manual work.  In Wellmeadow and Springbank they were office and sales jobs – with several commercial salesmen and clerks along with a cashier and an accountant.  There were no manual jobs apart from servants in 3 of the 11 houses.  Despite the large houses, large households were rare – it was a very different life to that in Ardmere Road.

By the time the 1939 Register was taken, both streets had changed a lot – the middle class had moved out and both Wellmeadow and Springbank Roads were homes to manual workers, the only exceptions being the adult Spurrell sisters at 112 Springbank – which included Edith who was a Ledger Clerk at a bookshop but also worked as an ARP First Aider.  They were more well-to-do than their counterparts in Ardmere Road and Woodlands Street, the households were smaller and there was less sharing.  Only 108 Springbank and 31 Wellmeadow were split between more than one household.  None of the men (or women) were able to claim the ‘Heavy Work’ supplement which entitled larger rations

The housing built after the war on both Springbank and Wellmeadow sides of the site seems to have been private sector; this is unlike many of the other V-1 attacks that Running Past has covered – Hither Green Station, Lenham/Lampmead Road, Lewisham Hill and Fernbrook Road where it was homes built for the local authority.  On Springbank Road 104 to 116 (pictured above) were re-built, initially as houses although most have been converted into flats. Based on Land Registry data, most remain in the private sector although one has been subsequently acquired a housing association. It was very different in Wellmeadow where the houses seem to have been built almost as 1950s versions of their predecessors – again all but one are privately owned, with one has been bought and converted into flats by a housing association.


  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the copyright owners of the map, the London Metropolitan Archives to use the image here
  2. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green, The Forgotten Hamlet p63
  3. It is possible that some mentions were missed when scanning through the very fragile records

Data Sources

  • The ARP records are via Lewisham Archives
  • 1939 Register data is via Find My Past – subscription required
  • Land Registry data is via Nimbus Maps – registration required.
  • The photograph of 136 Springbank Road is via Streeview


World War Two Food Rationing in Lewisham

Since the 80th 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.





  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

The Hither Green Station V-1 Attack

Running Past has covered several of the almost two hundred V-1 and V-2 rocket attacks on Lewisham, including the ones on Lewisham High Street, Lewisham Hill, Lenham Road, Mercator Road and Hither Green’s Fernbrook Road.  They are important to remember both in terms of the death and injuries caused to ordinary Londoners whose stories often get forgotten, but also in terms of their impact on the urban landscape – both in the short-term and longer term.

Another was on the opposite site of the railway to Fernbrook Road around the junction of Springbank Road and Nightingale Grove, very close to the station at 6:18 on the evening of 29 July 1944. The photograph that is part of the Imperial War Museum collection (produced here on a Creative Commons) shows the devastation all too clearly.

The V-1 would have exploded on impact and a blast wave rippled out from the impact point, effectively creating a vacuum in the centre – the combined impact was to both push and pull buildings leading to large numbers of collapses.  The impact was often spread over quite a wide area with total destruction in the centre with much less damage on the outside.  There were memories from someone living at the edge of this attack of gardens ‘full of bits of shattered china and pottery from the houses affected by the bomb blast’ many years later.  The map below  produced by the London County Council during the war (1) shows this well – the darker the hand-colouring, the greater the damage.

Key: black=total destruction, purple=damaged beyond repair, dark red=seriously damaged (doubt if repairable), light red=seriously damaged (repairable at cost), orange=general blast damage (non-structural), yellow=blast damage (minor), green=clearance area

The worst destruction was in Maythorne Cottages and northern end of Springbank Road along with the adjacent ends of Ardmere and Beacon Roads, where, as the photograph shows, there was almost complete destruction.   Although a degree of caution needs to be used with the maps as a few properties that show as destroyed were able to be repaired – notably the former off licence on the corner of Ardmere Road – covered in an earlier post on the street.

There was damage too along  Nightingale Grove from opposite Maythorne to Brightside Road at the southern end. At this end were purpose-built maisonettes and, which seemed to have been built as ‘railway workers cottages’.  There was considerable damage, with the upstairs maisonettes having to be largely rebuilt.

Many of the houses destroyed were homes to some of the poorer residents of Hither Green, as was covered in the post on Ardmere Road.  Given the scale of destruction it is unsurprising that there were deaths in the attack, the casualties seem to have all been at Hither Green Station:

  • Emily (25) and Jean (1) Chapman – a mother and daughter from Walworth;
  • Violet Kyle (25) of 11 Morley Road, who died in the Miller Hospital in Greenwich;
  • Gerald Hill (17) of 278 Brownhill Road, who was in the Home Guard; and
  • William Pontin (38) of Weybridge.

Emily (nee Keleher) was living in Huntsman Street in Walworth when war broke out, and at the time was listed as a Solder Machine Hand.  The Bermondsey born Emily married James Chapman in 1940, although they were probably living together in 1939 with James’ parents.  Jean was just 22 months old when she died.

Violet was from Lewisham although when the 1939 Register was drawn up was living in a shared house in Circus Street in Greenwich.

Gerald had been born in Lewisham in 1927; at the time the 1939 Register was drawn up he would have been around 12 and was not listed locally as he had presumably been evacuated in September 1939.  Assuming that he was still living at home, his parents will have moved during the war as 278 Brownhill Road was vacant when the Register was compiled.  William Pontin appears to have been working as a brewer’s clerk at the outbreak of war in 1939 and was a lodger in a cottage in Weybridge.  The reason for his visit to Lewisham was probably to visit family – a William Pontin of the right age was born in Lewisham and in 1911 was living in Hedgley Street – where his younger brother Ernest still lived in 1939.

A further 17 people were reported as injured as a result of the attack (2).

There were initial reports of the tracks being blocked by debris at the station, although by the following day local lines were running and by 31 July the track was back to full operations.

The post-war rebuilding was a little more piecemeal than in some of the other sites with V-1 damage locally.  One of the early responses was to clear the site and erect prefab bungalows; what is perhaps surprising is that only 9 were built given the area covered and level of destruction.  Those at the southern end of Springbank Road were replaced in the late 1950s or early 1960s by permanent bungalows built by the Borough of Lewisham.

Beaver Housing Society, which seems to have been formed in the 1920s, appear to have owned the houses at the eastern end of Ardmere Road – they rebuilt some of them in the mid-1950s and added a terrace of red-brick houses on the corner of Nightingale Grove.

Both are resplendent with the blue glazed ‘Beaver’ panel, sadly, this is all that remains of Beaver – they were taken over by L&Q in the early 2000s.

The block surrounded by Maythorne, Springbank and the railway was used for offices and related yards. The one on the corner of Maythorne – still survives, home to the building contractors P J Harte.  The opposite corner went through a greater variety of uses – it was last a nursery which closed in the mid-2000s.  It was boarded up by 2012 (see below from StreetView) and new houses completed by the summer of 2017.

The remaining houses were repaired – the differences in the brickwork are obvious in several locations on Nightingale Grove.


  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the copyright owners of the map, the London Metropolitan Archives to use the image here
  2. Godfrey Smith (1997) ‘Hither Green: the Forgotten Hamlet : Including the Corbett Estate’ p64

The Ordnance Survey map is on a Creative commons via the National Library of Scotland.

The marriage and 1939 Register data comes via Find My Past, the details of the deaths are via the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.




Ardmere Road – A Portrait of What Was Once Hither Green’s Poorest Street (Part 2)

Last week’s post left explored the early years of Ardmere Road, looking at who lived there, the poverty and low-level crime.  We return to the street just before World War Two when the 1939 Register, a mini census for rationing and related purposes, was collected in September of that year.

When we had ‘visited’ for the 1901 Census, a small majority of the small three bedroom houses were home to two households sharing with an average of almost 8 people per home in the street.   By 1939, the number of households sharing  was down to 1 in 5 and the average number of people living in each house had almost halved to 4.3 – the reason for this lies almost certainly lies with the evacuation of children from London which had happened a month earlier.  In 1901 there were 108 children, in 1939 just 7.

Employment on the street although it was less dominated by the building trade than it had been at the beginning of the 20th century, it was still dominated by largely unskilled manual work with lots of general labourers, several dustmen.  There was some semi-skilled and skilled manual work – such as the husband of one of the shopkeepers who was a telephone engineer and a couple of bricklayers; however, these were real exceptions.

A much more obvious change was the role of women – nearly 40 years before a majority of Ardmere Road’s women worked.   Now they were the exception, most were listed as carrying out ‘unpaid domestic duties’ (something that wasn’t recorded in 1901). Of those women who worked, if was like the men, entirely manual, and almost entirely adult children.  There was only one exception to this where another adult woman carried out the ‘unpaid domestic duties.’

Because the 1939 Register was done for rationing purposes – a significant number of the men had the suffix or prefix to their trade of ‘Heavy Work’ which entitled them to extra rations. Such as ‘Builder’s Labourer – Heavy Work,’ slightly under half of the workers fell into this category.

World War 2 saw changes to the physical structure of the street – much of this damage was caused by a V1 attack on 29 June 1944 (which will be returned to at some point in Running Past), as well as a high explosive bomb that was dropped during the Blitz.  The map below (1)  shows the combined extent of the damage – as the key shows the darker the colour, the worse the damage.

Key: black=total destruction, purple=damaged beyond repair, dark red=seriously damaged (doubt if repairable), light red=seriously damaged (repairable at cost), orange=general blast damage (non-structural), yellow=blast damage (minor), green=clearance area

The position was slightly worse than the LCC map showed as when the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited around 1950 numbers 20 and 21 were showing as ‘ruins’ (2).

This site was redeveloped by the old Borough of Lewisham after the war as Council housing.

In the end, while 10 to 14 were left standing, they too ended up being demolished.  In this case it was Beaver Housing Society rather than council that built the new homes which were of a style that was closer to the original homes that those built by the Council.   They had certainly been built by the early 1950s.

Beaver was a Lewisham-based housing association that managed about 3000 homes, mainly in Lewisham and Greenwich. It ran its operations from Lewisham High Street – next to the former location of Kings Hall cinema – before moving to behind to Kings Hall Mews during the 1990s.  They ran into serious problems with their governance in the early 2000s and merged with London & Quadrant Housing Trust, generally known as L&Q, in 2004.  Their name disappeared soon after.

They inserted the small glazed tile into many of their developments, there is another just around the corner in Nightingale Grove which was developed at the same time – along with one on an impressive Grade II listed building on Croom’s Hill in Greenwich.

In the first part of the story we noted that there had been an attempt by William Barrett to turn 17 from an off licence to a pub.  The plans for creating up pub seem to have dried up, but William Barrett was certainly running the off-licence well into the 1920s based on Kelly’s Directories (3).  William died in 1929 and his wife, Fanny, in 1933.

By this stage, the licence was taken over by one of their daughters Winifred (“Winnie”) Amy Agnes Barrett.  Winnie was born in 1903 when the family had already been running the off licence at 17 for 6 years.  She was born into the trade and in all likelihood working in it from the age of 16 – certainly that was the legal age for consumption of alcohol in 1919.  She was listed in the 1939 Register as a Licensed Victualler, which she ran with her cousin, Grace Baker, and later Kelly’s Post Office Directories have her running the off licence until 1979 – with some input from another cousin, Jack Brown.  She was described as (see comment from Christine below)

a sweet woman with refined manners and a rather ‘posh’ voice, always well-dressed, who would have seemed completely out of place to anyone who did not know about the family’s long connection to the licenced victualling trade.

The business seems to have been taken over by W Inkin in 1982, but didn’t last more than a couple of years longer (4).   It is difficult to imagine now a small corner shop off-licence remaining in the hands of the same family for 82 years. There were memories of Winnie and being sent to the off licence to buy rolling tobacco and cigarette papers on a Facebook thread on the first post.

17 has now been converted into a pair of flats.

Next door at number 18, the numbering on Ardmere Road is consecutive, was another shop that lasted a long time in the same family – Edith May’s grocers.  She seems to have started as an assistant to & servant for Mary Law who was running the shop by 1911, taking over from Thomas Dixon who had been there since around 1905.  Edith, then Coles, was 18 then having been born in late 1892.  Edith married William May in Whitechapel in 1920.

Mary Law ran the grocers until around 1924 when the Mays took over (5).  In the Kelly’s Directories Edward May is listed as the proprietor from the mid-1920s until around 1941 (6).  Given that he was listed as a Telephone Engineer in the 1939 Register the reality was that it was probably Edith’s business.  During the war the grocers was where lots of local homes were registered to for their rations.

It was an old fashioned shop, unlike the off-licence which seems to have had a refit after World War 2, Edith’s grocery was

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

Edith May ran the shop until about 1980, having been involved with the shop for around 70 years.  The shop was taken over by Bob and Linda Martin, who called the shop Boblins around 1982, but like Winnie Barrett’s off-licence, it didn’t last long as a shop in new ownership (7).  The shop front has gone and converted into a house by the Martins, and unlike next door there is little evidence from the outside of retail past (see below).

So what about the street now?  Census data remains confidential for about a century although some anonymised data is made available to researchers much sooner. However, it is possible to look at summary data on a variety of questions for quite small areas known as Output Areas.  Data for Ardmere Road is available together with the neighbouring Brightside and Elthruda Roads.  As would be expected, employment patterns have changed a lot since 1939.  The big areas of employment in Ardmere Road’s Output Area are retail and wholesale (18%); education (11%); health and social work (10%), information and communication (10%) and construction (8%).   These are relatively similar to Lewisham as a whole although more work in retail, manufacturing, construction and information, with slightly less in most other areas.

As for housing, of the 274 homes in the Output Area, 123 are owner occupied with 151 rented or shared ownership.  The average number of people per home were 2.55 – while lower than in 1939, this reflects as much that houses have been subdivided into flats.

Rent levels will vary depending on the type of landlord – with the suggested private rents in the region of £1250 a month, but the social housing owned by Lewisham Council and L&Q considerably cheaper but still a lot more expensive.  This is somewhat more that the 45p a week charged in 1907, even taking account of inflation.

As for sold house prices , two houses albeit tenanted were sold for just £140 in 1908 (8).  The most recent house sold was for £480,000 in September 2015, and a valuation now would probably be around £517,000.  The two bedroom houses (where the third bedroom is turned into a bathroom) are a bit cheaper.

As for the ‘shoddy building’ described by Charles Booth’s researcher,  other than the World War 2 damage, the houses (from the outside at least) seem to have stood the test of time better than many in the area.


  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the copyright owners of the map, the London Metropolitan Archives to use the image here
  2. On a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland
  3. 1925 Lewisham Brockley and Catford Kelly’s Directory (via Lewisham Archives)
  4. Various London Kelly’s Post Office Directories from 1965 to 1983 (via Lewisham Archives)
  5. 1925 Lewisham Brockley and Catford Kelly’s Directory (via Lewisham Archives)
  6. London Kelly’s Post Office Directories various years to rom 1965 to 1983 (via Lewisham Archives)
  7. ibid
  8. 20 November 1908 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England

Data from the 1939 Register comes via Find My Past

The 2011 Census Data comes via the Office for National Statistics

Thank you to Julie Robinson at Lewisham Archives help on the later Directories, to Helen Holland for her memories of Mrs May’s grocers shop and Lewis Martin (see comments below) about his parents’ shop at no 189.

Ardmere Road – A Portrait of What Was Once Hither Green’s Poorest Street (Part 1)

Ardmere Road in Hither Green is a quiet residential street of smaller Victorian terraced houses with some post Second World War bomb damage replacement homes; it is older than the homes to the south and predates the arrival of the station by around 15 years.

It was unusual in the area in that when Charles Booth’s researcher Ernest Aves included it on his 1899 walk which was mapping poverty in late Victorian London it was coloured ‘dark blue’, one up from the lowest class.  He described Ardmere Road as

 One of the fuller streets, shoddy building, two families the rule.

Charles Booth conducted an ‘Inquiry into Life and Labour in London’ between 1886 and 1903 – for much of the city he produced wonderfully detailed maps coloured on the basis of income and the social class of its inhabitants.  His assessment was based on walks carried out either himself or through a team of social investigators, like Aves, often with clergymen or the police, listening, observing what he saw and talking to people he met on the road.  The observations were part of a longer walk by Ernest Aves that took in much of the Corbett estate which was being built.  The extract of the map below is  available from London School of Economics as a Creative Commons.

Hither Green had been just a series of large houses along what is now Hither Green Lane and North Park Farm when the railway navvies carved the route through the area in the 1860s. There were little bits of development around the edges of the area in the next decade – with roads like Courthill Road emerging. The houses in Ardmere Road, along with the those in the neighbouring Maythorne Cottages were much smaller though and were built before the school in Beacon Road – the site for which was bought in 1881 (1)

So was Aves right about the street? The 1901 census was carried out a couple of years after Aves visited Hither Green, so the street was unlikely to have changed that much.  The census showed two households in each house were the just the majority, in 16/30 houses – with an average of 7.8 people living in the small three bedroom houses – the highest being 12.  There were a couple of shops – a grocer at 18 and an off-licence beer shop at 17.

All were manual labourers except for the Police Constable at 9, and you could probably make the case for PC Davies being a manual worker too.  A disproportionate number of the men worked in the building trade – some of these will have worked for Cameron Corbett’s contractors in the development of the Corbett Estate.  While Corbett initially rented out some of the smaller houses on his estate to building workers – notably in Sandhurst Road – this probably wasn’t sufficient.

A lot of the women worked – 8 were laundresses taking in washing for the wealthier households in the streets around – although some may have worked at laundries; there were a trio of charwomen and a couple of dressmakers.

In the early years of the street rent levels were low – around five years after they were built they were being offered for rent as ‘seven roomed houses, in good locality, bay windows, forecourt, rent 7s per week’ – that’s 35p for those without pre-decimal knowledge (2).

Rent levels seem to have slightly reduced in the next decade – 21-32 were sold in 1894 as the owner was bankrupt – a couple of hundred properties across London were sold at the same time. The advertised rent level at Ardmere Road would have averaged 31p a week (3).

A decade later, when there were further sales, rents had gone up significantly – at 21, 22 and 23 they were 9/- (45p), 8/6d and 9/- respectively.  Whereas at 4 and 5 they were more expensive at 10/-. A few hundred metres away on similar sized houses on Ennersdale Road houses were offered at 13/- a week (4). The rent increases  probably related to the opening of the station at Hither Green.  21 – 23 were sold again in 1907 – rents hadn’t changed though (5).

The tenanted value of the houses was around £140 – based on the sale of an unspecified pair of properties in 1908 (6).   The trio of 21-23 Ardmere Road homes was again sold just before the outbreak of World War 1 – rent levels had declined slightly to 8/6d. The freeholds of most of the street were sold at the same time (7).

Perhaps part of the reason for the frequent changing of hands were difficulties in collecting the rent. There was a case of claim and counterclaim at the Police Court in 1897. One of the tenants was alleged to have assaulted the rent collector by hitting him with a chair. The rent collector, who described himself a clergyman of the Church of England, was witnessed to having used language and behaviour that would not been heard coming from the pulpit – calling the tenant a ‘dirty cow’ and then attempting to strangle her after she only offered him 10/- towards rent (and presumably arrears). Both cases thrown out by the Police Court (8).

There was lots of low level crime relating to the street – the O’Connor brothers at 30 appeared several times in court. Hugh was described as a ‘bad lad’ after stealing a ‘whip from a trap’ in Ardmere Road in 1890 (9). He was again in court in 1894 after stealing tinned fruit from a shop on Ennersdale Road (10); younger brother Michael was convicted of stealing from orchard in Nightingale Grove and was remanded for a week the following year (11).

There were a couple of dozen similar reports of theft in the local press between the early 1880s and the outbreak of the Great War. While not attempting to excuse them, most seem to have been born out of the grinding poverty that seems to have existed on the street. A laundress at 23 was remanded for pawning various clothes which belonged to a resident of the nearby, wealthy College Park estate (12).

There were thefts of a marrow in 1886 (13) and milk in 1887 (14), and several occasions of stealing lead piping including from empty houses on the street which belonged to the Finsbury Building Society the same year (15).

There were, of course, alcohol related convictions too, the father and son Lustys, from 21 were together charged with being drunk and disorderly in 1887 (16).


There was an off-licence at 17 run initially by Lewis White, who held the licence from 1879 to 1897. He was also a ‘General Dealer’ and had several brushes with the law, including allowing purchasers to drink outside the off-licence in 1884 (17). He was charged with selling alcohol outside permitted hours in early 1887 (18).

The last event seems have led to the bench refusing to grant him a new licence, so in the end it was transferred to William Barrett (19).  Barrett seems to have tried to extend to 18 in 1898 and obtain a full beer house licence, unsuccessfully on this occasion (20).  Oddly the Ordnance Survey, incorrectly  showed the 17 as a public house when surveyed in the 1890s.  Perhaps that’s how William Barrett’s tenure there appeared to the cartographers, it wasn’t though what the magistrates had approved though! (21)

We will leave Ardmere Road early in the 20th century, the second part of the post returns to the street in 1939 and looks at the changes to the street since then.


  1. 29 October 1881 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  2. 26 September 1884 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  3. 27 October 1894 – South London Press – London, London, England
  4. 13 May 1904 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  5. 17 May 1907 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  6. 20 November 1908 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  7. 07 March 1914 – Middlesex Chronicle – London, London, England
  8. 28 August 1897 – South London Press – London, London, England
  9. 26 September 1890 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  10. 20 April 1894 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  11. 30 August 1895 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  12. 6 October 1880 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  13. 08 October 1886 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  14. 16 December 1887 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  15. 18 February 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  16. 25 March 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London
  17. 06 September 1884 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  18. 14 January 1887 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  19. 01 October 1897 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  20. 09 September 1898 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  21. On a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland

Charles Booth’s map is  available from London School of Economics as a Creative Commons.

Notes re FMD