Tag Archives: College Park Estate

(Probably) Lewisham’s Most Beautiful Building and its Past

4a Clarendon Rise is currently home to London Sivan Kovil, a Hindu Temple – it is arguably Lewisham’s most beautiful building and the starting point for the almost certainly most stunning parade in the borough – the Chariot Festival, held each September for the last few years. The site has an interesting past and wasn’t always this attractive.

Clarendon Rise used to be known as Clarendon Road and is one of the main roads that go through what used to be referred to as the College Park Estate, based on the land that once belonged to College Farm. Clarendon Road/Rise bridged the Quaggy, which was one boundary of the farm, to Lee High Road, with The Sultan (now Nando’s) sitting on the far bank.

What is now 4a stood opposite to the Sultan. The site was showing as empty when the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited in the mid 1890s as the top map shows. However, the reality is a little more confused than this and it seems likely that the site was in least partly occupied by a firm of boot makers, E Cooney and Sons from at least the 1891 census. Edward Cooney, was the ‘E Cooney’ a boot maker – the only son listed in 1891 and 1901 was William, listed as a shoe seller in 1901. The business and family was still there until around 1910, but there was no sign of them afterwards, in Lewisham, or anywhere else for that matter.

The next occupant of the site seems to have been a furniture dealer, Arthur Vincent Humm. Arthur was a Lewisham man, born in 1883 he’d spent some time in the Hussars, in 1911 he was listed as a cabinet maker working in his father’s furniture business at 89 Lee High Road, the family home where he had grown up. Arthur was at what was then 2 from around 1919 to at least 1928, possibly longer – there are no Kelly’s Directories for this area between 1928 and 1941 available at Lewisham Archives.

By 1941, the Road had become a Rise and the occupants of the site were a well known Lee name – Penfolds Motor Engineers. Presumably, this was before they moved to Lee Green. They were to stay at Clarendon Rise for another decade, at some stage in the not too distant future Running Past will cover Penfolds.  The site buildings at that stage are shown in the bottom map (above).

A trio of firms were there in the 1950s – Falcon Painting Works, the motor engineers, Premier Diesel Engineering Works, and Falconers Transport motor haulage contractors. Sadly, nothing more is sadly known about any of these firms, the same can be said about their successors Bylay Heliot Equipment Co, who were Machine Tool makers who occupied 4a until 1967.  There was an unsuccessful plan to build a service station, restaurant and multi-storey garage prior to Bylay Heliot moving out.

No one was listed in Kelly’s for a decade, then it was briefly home to the heating engineers Fry Pollard, who moved on at around the time that they were acquired by Norden Heating.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s 4a was the home to Glass Structural Services and Structural Roof Services. The site was bought in 1994 as a Hindu temple and remained in what were the existing warehouse structures which were still there in 2008 when StreetView (above) first passed by.  By the next time the Streetview car passed demolition of the main building was in progress in 2009 when the foundation stone was laid. At the centre of the front is a gopuram – an ornate, tapering oblong tower (see top picture) with richly decorated doors at its base – this a smaller version of a traditional Hindu design. Of the previous building, only the wall facing the Quaggy was retained, although that was much altered.

Clarendon Rise and the temple are well worth a visit in mid September each year when the annual chariot festival takes place – pictured below.

The arrival of the temple has seen a significant change in shopping on a Lee High Road with an influx of shops serving the worshipers at the Hindu Temple – including those selling saris and jewelry.

Notes and Credits

The Ordnance Survey maps published in 1897, 1916 and 1950 are on a creative from the National Library of Scotland

Census and related data is via Find My Past

Kelly’s Directory information is via Lewisham Archives

James Elroy Flecker & the College Park Estate

There are several poets with a link to Lewisham – Running Past has already covered Thomas Dermody and Robert Browning, and will no doubt return to Ernest Dowson and, perhaps David Jones and Spike Milligan.  Another on that illustrious list is James Elroy Flecker, like Dermody, his link with the Borough was a fleeting one, although unlike Dermody it was at the beginning rather than end of his life.

Flecker was born at 9 Gilmore Road (above) on 5 November 1884.  His family’s time in Lewisham was limited though, in the spring of 1881 when the census enumerators called, his father, William Herman Flecker, was teaching at New College in Eastbourne.  However by the summer of the same year he married Sarah Ducat, a musician who was daughter of Polish emigres and lived in New Cross.  By 1888, at the latest, the Fleckers had moved on – James’ sister was born in Cheltenham in 1888 – William was teaching at Dean’s Close School.

His father may have continued teaching whilst in Lewisham; although there seems to be no record of where he taught.  It is certain though that he entered the church by the time James was born.  William was a curate, not at the church that they would have been able to see from the front of the house, St Mark’s on Clarendon Road, but at Holy Trinity on Glenton Road, where James was baptised.  It was a church was lost in World War Two and was covered a while ago in Running Past – see below (source Wikipedia Commons – originally from Illustrated London News)

Before looking at the life and career of James Elroy Flecker, it is worth pausing in Gilmore Road. The house had been developed in the late 1860s or early 1870s as part of the College Park estate on the land of a farm, College Farm, owned by the Mercer’s Company.  This should not be confused with the eponymous farm in Lee, although the land for that was also owned by the Mercers Company, which was covered by Running Past earlier in 2017.

 

The College Farm house, above (on a creative commons), was roughly at the corner of Lewisham High Street and Albion Way – it is probably one of the buildings set back from the road marked on the map on the opposite side of the road to Avenue Road (lost to the Shopping Centre).  The fields (all numbered on the map – on a creative commons via the National Library of Scotland) are now covered by Clarendon Rise (formerly Road), Bonfield Road, Albion Way (formerly Road) and, of course, the road with the elegant villa that was briefly home to the Fleckers – Gilmore Road. The development was ‘one of the most significant additions to the number of middle class houses in Lewisham during that building boom.’

Returning to James Elroy Flecker ….While he was born Herman Elroy, he became known as James Elroy; he was the eldest of four children born to William and Sarah Flecker, he had a well to do education, initially attending his father’s school before moving to Uppingham and then Trinity College, Oxford. After teaching for a while he entered the Consular service – being sent to Constantinople in 1910.  He became ill there from consumption which was to blight the rest of his life.  He had met Helle Skiadaressi on his first posting and they married in what is now Izmir in Turkey.  He had a series of postings around the Middle East interspersed by illness before moving to Switzerland for the final 18 months of his life on the advice of doctors. He died there in January 1915.

220px-james_elroy_flecker_at_cambridgeFlecker (left, via Creative Commons) He had begun to write poetry whilst at Uppingham , the rhythm and language have been described as ‘Tennysonian’ although much of his early work was adaptions of Greek and Roman poets.  His first book of poems, ‘Bridge of Fire’, was published around the time he left Oxford in 1907.  He continued to adapt the work of Parnassian School – including work by Goethe and Baudelaire – it was a reaction to the sentimentality of their Romantic predecessors. His death was described in the 1920s as “unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats”.

Any post on a poet, needs some poetry – while most of his work to a 21st century audience is, perhaps, not that accessible, there are a several poems with a London theme that still seem to resonate, even if the trams he wrote about are long gone.  The first a tale of cross river love, the second the first few stanzas of a poem seemingly about nights out in the city:

Ballad Of The Londoner

Evening falls on the smoky walls,

And the railings drip with rain,

And I will cross the old river

To see my girl again.

 

The great and solemn-gliding tram,

Love’s still-mysterious car,

Has many a light of gold and white,

And a single dark red star.

 

I know a garden in a street

Which no one ever knew;

I know a rose beyond the Thames,

Where flowers are pale and few.

 

The Ballad of Hampstead Heath

From Heaven’s Gate to Hampstead Heath

Young Bacchus and his crew

Came tumbling down, and o’er the town

Their bursting trumpets blew.

 

The silver night was wildly bright,

And madly shone the Moon

To hear a song so clear and strong,

With such a lovely tune

 

From London’s houses, huts and flats,

Came busmen, snobs, and Earls,

And ugly men in bowler hats

With charming little girls…..

Beyond the poetry, Flecker had, from his Oxford days, the reputation of the being a good speaker, a raconteur and was capable of what might now be referred to as ‘sound bites’ – two of which include

“What is life without jam?”

“The poet’s business is not to save the soul of man but to make it worth saving.”

Note

Census and related data comes via Find My Past