Tag Archives: Guibal Road

The Post Christmas Blitz on Lee Part 1 – 27 December 1940

Apologies if you’ve seen this before – the previous incarnation was partially deleted.
In the autumn of 2020, Running Past covered the attacks of the first night of the Blitz around Lee, Lewisham, Catford and Hither Green 80 years on. Over the next few months there were frequent attacks on the area – the worst night in the old Borough of Lewisham was probably the night of 8 to 9 December 1940. The Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Service Logs (an example of the log is shown below for 29 December 1940) noted for the night of 8-9 December

  • 126 high explosive bombs dropped;
  • 206 incendiary bombs – the number of both incendiary and high explosive bombs was almost certainly understated as the locations rather than numbers were often recorded;
  • 176 fires started – no doubt stretching the Fire Brigade to beyond breaking point;
  • 5 deaths; and
  • 175 injured – this was almost certainly a big understatement as at many locations injuries were ticked rather than having numbers.

However, around Lee some of the worst nights were at the end of December 1940 in two posts we’ll look at the nights 27/28 and 29/30 December where there were two nights of very heavy bombing.

There had been two quiet nights on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 1940, it was the lull before the storm with the night of 27/28 December being one of the heaviest nights of the blitz in Lewisham.

While there were attacks earlier in evening in Brockley, the first attacks on Lee was a series of incendiary bombs which hit at 19:51; one was at 33 Burnt Ash Road – a large house demolished after the war in the large scale demolitions of houses at the end of leases by the Crown Estate. There was no note of damage, but in the LCC Bomb Damage map the house ended the war with general, not structural, blast damage (1).

The other was at Reeds of Lee Green, a long standing drapers and furnishers that dominated the south east quadrant of Lee Green, straddling both Burnt Ash Road and Eltham Road – it was around 50 metres from 33 Burnt Ash Road. There was no damage marked there on the LCC Bomb Damage maps (2).

The final one of trio was at 57 Leyland Road (opposite the present day Alanthus Close) which was dealt with by officers from Lee police station.

Soon after at 20:05, another incendiary bomb was dropped close by in Burnt Ash Road between Southbrook and Micheldever Roads – there was a small fire which was quickly put out though.

There were several attacks on just after 9:00 pm on the then new homes on Upwood Road, (above) 34 and 22 were specifically mentioned but a couple of other incendiaries were reported as well. A hundred metres of so away 73 Leyland Road was hit by another incendiary. The was another dropped on Leyland Road between Dorville and Osberton Road – presumably somewhere around the current Carsten Close. With all of these the fires seem to have been put out by ARP fire wardens.

At around 9:12 pm, 41 Dorville Road and 36 Cambridge Drive were hit by incendiaries – as with the others in neighbouring streets they were put out by ARP wardens who had a busy night. The latter is a large surviving Victorian house, the former lost to the large scale redevelopment of Crown Estate land in the 1960s, but will have looked similar to the very different street scene from a few decades before.

At around 9:40 at least five bombs were dropped around Aislibie Road. One was in Manor House Gardens, which was home to three air road shelters. Fortunately the high explosive bomb hit a shrubbery between the shelters with only limited damage. Had there been a direct hit the loss of life could have been considerable as happened at Albion Way in Lewisham town centre on 11 September 1940 where 41 died.

A hundred metres or so away, 14-20 Lampmead Road (between Aislibie and Lenham Roads) were hit. Presumably the impact was in the road as none of the houses was destroyed although the ARP log noted that walls on all of them were cracked. Numbers 18 and 20 have survived but 14 and 16 were destroyed by a V1 flying bomb later in the war – the circle on the map.

More serious damage was around the corner in Aislibie Road with number 50 being hit directly and largely demolished and the houses either side rendered uninhabitable. The shading on the LCC bomb damage maps is incorrect here – the Ordnance Survey map of 1949 notes ‘ruins.’

Another bomb hit a few doors up, damaging 38 Aislibie Road- it wasn’t one of the houses destroyed during the war and was marked as blast damage – minor in nature on the LCC bomb damage maps. (3). If there was any serious damage it may have been made good by the end of the war.

In the same attack there was serious damage to the odd side of the road too, 17 to 23 had their chimney stacks knocked of; but 25 to 29 were left in ruins. The site had been cleared by the time the Ordnanace Survey cartographers mapped the area in 1949, but unlike similar small sites, such as Fernbrook Road, wasn’t used for prefabs. Again there were no reports on casualties here.

At around 9:45 there were at least four high explosive bombs dropped in the area around Winn Road area between Guibal Road and Senlac Raod.  The one at 87 Guibal Road failed to explode and the houshold had to be evacuated temporarily while it was made safe. The one at 105 Guibal damaged water, gas and electricity services, with the others not seeming to do much damage other than to gardens.

At 9:55 another high explosive bomb was reported as hitting Manor Lane – 50 was described as being ‘demolished’ and 48 and 52 rendered uninhabitable. Unless these were rebuilt in in exactly the same style as the W J Scudamore originals, it may be that the report was overstated. While there has clearly been some patching of walls, original features seem to remain.

Around 10:00 pm a small explosive bomb hit the old St Margaret’s Churchyard (pictured above) leaving a small crater and several damaged tombstones. A few minutes later there were a couple of incendiary bombs dropped on Lee High Road close to the current Mercator estate – an area that was to be devastated later in the war.

Overall, that night in the old Borough of Lewisham 

  • 97 high explosive were dropped;
  • 112 incendiary bombs fell;
  • 91 fires were started;
  • 3 died;
  • 12 were injured, this is almost certainly an understatement as some just ticked the box rather than entering a number; and
  • 12 were trapped by debris having to be rescued by emergency services.

It wasn’t just Lewisham that was attacked that night, The Times for the following day noted that ‘the raid equaled in intensity, but not duration, some of the heaviest attacks on the capital….from widespread areas came the same report of enemy aircraft flying over almost continuously dropping incendiaries followed by high explosive bombs.’ (4)

Whilst the following night seems to have seen another lull with defence guns silent (5), the Sunday evening of 29/30 saw the bombers return with in what was described in central London as the Second Great Fire of London but also saw numerous bombs dropped on Lee; we’ll return to this is the second part of the post.

Notes

  1. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p116
  2. ibid p116
  3. ibid p185
  4. The Times Saturday December 28 1940
  5. The Times Monday December 30 1940

Credits

  • Most of the information for this post comes from the Lewisham ARP Log – it is a fascinating document, which is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives. It isn’t a complete record – some incidents were reported to the Fire Brigade rather than the APR and some incendiaries were dealt with by residents or Fire Wardens without ever reaching the ARP service – this is particularly the case on busy nights such as this.
  • The map is from the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, 1939-1945 – permission has been given by the London Metropolitan Archives, the copyright owners of the map, the to use the image here.
  • The photograph of Lee Green and the page of the ARP Log are both from the collection of Lewisham Archives, both are used with permission and remain their copyright.
  • The postcard of Dorville Road is via eBay in December 2019

Beating The Bounds of Lee, Part 1- Lee Green to Winn Road

As regular readers of Running Past will be aware, the blog has followed the course of a number of natural features and human constructs – rivers and streams, notably the Quaggy and its tributaries, the Greenwich Park branch railway and the Prime Meridian from the edge of Croydon, back through Lewisham and to the Greenwich Observatory. Such wanders make for interesting cross sections of the city. We turn our attention to another of these constructs – the boundary of the former civil parish of Lee which existed until 1900.

Beating the bounds is an ancient tradition, reminding parishioners of the importance of boundaries which was carried out during Rogationtide—the fifth week after Easter. There would be a walking of the parish boundaries, with children would carrying willow which would be used to beat the boundary markers. The boundary markers might be stones, streams or marks on trees, or roads. Oddly, other than around Lee Green, roads seem to have been neglected in deciding the parish boundaries of Lee.

No willow will be harmed in the perambulation of Lee, the on-ground research for which appropriately started on Rogation Sunday. The variant of Lee that we will be metaphorically beating is the civil parish mapped with the second edition of the Ordnance Survey 6” to the mile series. It was was surveyed in 1893 and published a few years later, just before Lee was merged with Lewisham to form the new Borough of Lewisham in 1900.

Lee in 1893 was a long narrow parish, a width of just over a mile and a quarter at its broadest point between Lee Bridge at the western end of Lee High Road to just beyond Cambridge Drive’s junction with Eltham Road. It’s length was around 5 miles at its longest – Blackheath, just to the north of the railway, in the north, to Marvels Wood on the borders of Mottingham to the south. The boundary was around 14 miles long, although with the diversions made to avoid trespass and Hot Fuzz style demolition of garden fences the actual 21st century trip around the borders of late 19th century Lee is somewhat longer….

We start at Lee Green, one of the three original centres of Lee, along with Old Road and the top of Belmont Hill; it had the green that it’s name implies, along with a windmill and a farm. The boundary with Liberty of Kidbrooke was to the north east, beyond the Quaggy and with the Parish of Eltham in the north eastern quadrant of Lee Green and to the north of Eltham Road. In 1893, that quadrant included a previous incarnation of the New Tigers Head, then called the Tiger Tavern, the photograph below was taken around 1897.

The Old Tigers Head shown above was the 1896 variant; three years before, when the Ordnance Survey visited, it was the earlier building pictured below. It was about to be demolished with the pub briefly migrating a couple of doors down during the rebuilding.

On the Lee side, the farm, called Lee Green Farm, had been there in 1863 when the Ordnance Survey cartographers first mapped the area, but had been demolished soon after. The farm building had been relocated to the current site of Leybridge Court on the already built Leyland Road by 1893.

Opposite, the impressive Fire Station would still be 13 years away, and its predecessor on Lee High Road a couple of years off, it would be the temporary Old Tigers Head first.

The boundary followed the centre of Eltham Road; in 1893 there was a boundary post more or less next to the easternmost leg of Ravens Way, presumably named after the Ravensbourne Athletic, whose buildings were incorporated into the post war development, but had not been developed in 1893. In the first incarnation of the Ordnance Survey map, the Lee Green Toll Gate (pictured below) would have been a few metres behind, a bus stop is located in its place now. Tolls were meant to cover the costs of maintaining the roads, but with the coming of the railways (1849 in Lewisham and Blackheath) income dropped and in 1888 the remaining Turnpike Trusts were wound up with responsibilities going to the local authorities.

The current, and indeed 1893 surveyed boundary, goes to the rear of the houses in Cambridge Drive, following the edge of the Old Colfeans playing fields. Cambridge Drive, originally Road, and the land bordering Eltham Road had been one of the first parcels of land sold from Horn Park Farm for housing by the Crown Estate. The 1890s and current variants of the boundary slightly diverge around Dorville Road, briefly, home to Edith Nesbit. The former border slightly cut across the playing fields, but was presumably revised to ensure that the cricketing boundaries weren’t crossed by administrative ones.

The boundary, now with Greenwich (in 1863 with Eltham), re-emerges on Upwood Road. Former municipal generations needed to make boundary stones or even marks on trees to indicate the edge of their territory. Their modern counterparts have more subtle methods – different shades of tarmac, wheelie bins of changed hues and my favourite here, the humble street light. Lewisham has energy efficient, 21st century LED lights whereas the Royal Borough has a cornucopia of types including some rather attractive Borough of Woolwich concrete ones which probably dates from the 1950s.

The 1893 and current variants again diverge at this point, the former boundary heading south east, the current one turning back westwards behind elegant interwar detached houses of Upwood Road. The divergence seems to have been after the move of Colfe’s, then a Grammar School, in 1963. The original had been in a site between Lewisham Hill and Granville Park in Lewisham.

It had been largely demolished by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944 – the site is pictured above, and until the 1960s used what are now Brindishe Green and Trinity Primary schools in Beacon and Leahurst Roads respectively. The new school would have stood astride the then Woolwich and Lewisham boundary, so the current variant hugs the railway line heading towards Mottingham from Lee.

The boundary crosses the South Circular close to Alnwick Road where a pleasant Green is situated. The 1893 flâneur would have found the last large farm of Lee at the southern edge of the green on what is now Horncastle Road. Running Past has already told the story of Horn Park Farm; but there was a cautionary tale that is worth repeating in relation to boundaries.

Magistrates at the Green Man in Blackheath had to decide on the case of whether Lee or Eltham parishes should pay for the care of a farm worker at the farm. The boundary passed through the centre of the house on the farm he lived in. In fact, his bed was actually on the boundary – the magistrates found in favour of Lee as the farm labourer would have put his feet on the Eltham side first.

The development of Horncastle Road seemed to follow field boundaries, which also marked the administrative border. There were a couple of stones in 1893 that have been replaced by rear garden fences. As we saw in a post on Corona Road, the Crown Estate, had sold off land alongside Burnt Ash Hill, initially used as a brick works used by John Pound and then developed by William Winn. Almost all of Winn’s development has been lost to the Blitz and post war redevelopment.

The 1893 boundary bisected a tennis club within the development, but seems to have been adjusted soon after as there are a trio of very weathered 1903 boundary markers marking the current border between Lewisham and Greenwich on Corona Road at its junction with Guibal Road, on Guibal Road itself and at the junction of Guibal and Winn Roads.

While the derivation of Winn and Corona Road is clear, developer and relating to the Crown, Guibal isn’t immediately obvious. It isn’t a family name of either William Winn or his wife and the only obvious mentions in the press at the time relate to the development of a centrifugal mining fan by a French engineer, Théophile Guibal in 1872. It is not an obvious connection to an area with no mining heritage.

In the next post on ‘beating the bounds’ we will look at the boundary from Winn Road southwards towards Grove Park.

Picture Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey map is on a non-commercial licence from the National Library of Scotland, other maps from the same source have been referred to for the post;
  • The photographs of Lee Green and the Lee Green Toll Gate are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, remain their copyright and are used with their permission;
  • The photograph of the earlier version of the Old Tigers Head is from an information board at Lee Green; and
  • The photograph of Lewisham Hill and Granville Park bomb damage is via the Imperial War Museum on a Creative Commons).

This, and the series of posts on the Lee boundary that will follow, would probably not have happened without Mike Horne, he was the go-to person on London’s boundary markers; he had catalogued almost all of them in a series of documents. He was always helpful, enthusiastic and patient. He died of a heart attack in March but would have loved my ‘find’ of a London County Council marker in some undergrowth on Blackheath during 2020’s lockdown, and would have patiently explained the details of several others he knew to me. A sad loss, there is a lovely series of tributes to him via this link.

Corona Road – The History of a Lee Street

The word ‘Corona’ with the suffix of ‘virus’ is currently striking fear into the population of much of the world.  In a leafier part of Lee, just off Burnt Ash Hill, there is a street with the name which pre-dates the virus by 140 years and has a much more benign meaning – ‘something suggesting a crown.’  This post looks at some of the history of the street and the neighbouring area.

The land to the east of Burnt Ash Hill in Lee had been probably been in the ownership of the Crown since 1305 as part of the estate of the Eltham Palace which was originally used for hunting.  The area has been covered several times by Running Past in relation to two of the farms on the land, Horn Park and Melrose Farms, as well is in passing in relation to pubs linked to John Pound – including The Crown.

As the city expanded with coming of the railways, they arrived in Lee 1866, the Crown began to sell off fields for housing and related activities.  One of these sales was land for a brick works on the corner of Burnt Ash Hill and what would become Winn Road – a hundred metres or so down the road from another of Lee’s farms, College Farm.  By the 1850s these were, at least partially, owned by John Pound – one of the more significant builders of the Northbrook estate (generally to the west of Burnt Ash Road and Hill) who, as mentioned, also built a quartet of pubs plus a public hall for popular entertainment.

It appears that the brick works was bought by William Winn by 1874 as he had made an application soon after to build what was to become The Crown pub (above) on land which was formerly part of the brick works; in the application he was described as a lighterman and barge owner living at 16 St Stephen’s Road in Bow (1).  Despite being married to Elizabeth, he was living there separately as a lodger, something that was still the case in 1881.   There was another William Winn who was the bailiff at Burnt Ash Farm in the 1850s and early 1860s of a similar age both from East London; however, unless William Winn had two families, it wasn’t him.

In addition to Corona Road, the roads developed by Winn were the eponymous Winn Road and Guibal Road, along with some houses on the eastern side of Burnt Ash Hill.  The early press reports for what was initially called the Burnt Ash Hill Estate are silent on the builder.  However, William Baker who was based at 43 Ronver Road in the 1881 census and employing 12 men, was mentioned in the second phase of the development of the street applying for permission to build 5 homes on the north (2) and 5 on the south side of Corona Road.  So it is quite possible that he built the entire estate.  The houses were substantial ones at the edge of Victorian suburbia – beyond and to the back was rural Kent – as the Ordnance Survey map from 1897 shows.

While the Board of works provided four gas street lights in 1881 (3), it wasn’t until 1889 that they adopted the street and planted lime trees (4); the Board had previously refused to do this, despite complaints from residents, until the builder brought it up to an acceptable standard (5).

It isn’t known how much the houses were sold for but the annual rent was 55 Guineas (£55.25) in 1882, applications could be made at 15 Corona Road which was perhaps being used as a show house for the second phase of houses (6).  This house, now numbered 61, is the only remaining one from the 1880s – it is the left of the two above..

Four years later number 5 was for rent and was described as (7) being in a

Rural situation, on high ground with bracing air.  Near station, shops and tennis ground. Kent £60

The tennis ground was in the apex of Corona Road and Guibal Road and was probably lost in the 1930s as the southern section of Woodyates Road was developed – it isn’t clear whether this was part of the same development as the northern part of the road which was covered a while ago in Running Past.

So who lived there?  A few of the houses were occupied and sold or rented out by the time the census enumerators called in 1881 – in Corona Road itself, only 9 was let or sold, it was home to the Powells – Harry was a senior Civil Servant.  Several on the wider Burnt Ash Hill Estate were the temporary homes to those working for the builders.  Archibald Harrison who was living in one of the houses on Corona Road ‘Burgoyne Cottage;’ he was described as ‘Builder and Decorator, Master’ in the census – it is possible that he may have built some of the estate, or have been a subcontractor for William Baker.

Next to The Crown, on the corner of Corona Road, at Corona Villa, was Elizabeth Winn the seemingly estranged wife of William, their two adult children including William (born 1859) and three servants.  It is worth pausing on the middle one of these, which given the issues that have brought the street name to the fore in 2020, her name seems depressingly apt – Mary Le Fever (see above).  This is almost certainly an enumerator mangling the relatively common French name for an ironworker or smith – Lefèvre.

By the time the census enumerators called again in 1891 Corona Road was an established community. Archibald Harrison, the builder and decorator was still there. The rest of the street clearly oozed wealth an included several were living on their own means, with inherited wealth or had retired with a sizeable income; there was an East India Merchant, a Shipowner and broker, an Accountant, a Civil Engineer and a Chemical Manufacturer. Virtually all had servants, most had more than one.  Elizabeth Winn was still thereon the corner of the street but marked as a widow, with her daughter Maria who was also a widow.

A decade later Archibald Harrison remained and the ‘class’ of occupant was much the same and included a grain merchant, a confectioner, a hardware merchant, a wholesale bookseller, a couple of living on their own means, a shopkeeper, a retired engineer, a solicitor and an accountant. There was also a Mantle manufacturer, George Smith, perhaps the supplier for Alexander Aitken’s shop next to the Lee Green fire station. Again virtually all had servants.

By 1911, not that much had changed, the households were still relatively small in the large houses, almost all with a servant – amongst the occupants was still George Smith, his neighbours included a retired builder, an artist (living on her own means), another living on own means, a ship broker, a company secretary, a bookseller, and a bank cashier.

The 1939 Register was compiled soon after war broke out. A lot had changed since the 1911 census, only one, quite old household had a servant and the household incomes sources and occupations had changed dramatically – jobs now included a teacher, a municipal accountant, office maintenance worker

Corona Road, more particularly the northern side of it fared badly in World War 2, the London County Council maps show much of that side destroyed or damaged beyond repair (8). By 1948 when the Ordnance Survey surveyors mapped the post war urban landscape, that side of the road was full prefab bungalows, no doubt not dissimilar to those that are still present (spring 2020) on the Excalibur Estate a mile to the west.

From the exterior of the current blocks and houses the prefabs were probably replaced in the late 1950s or early 1960s by Lewisham Council.

On the opposite side of the road while the bomb damage maps had marked the land as less badly damaged, the site seems to have been cleared by 1948.  This was presumably for the blocks of Elwyn Gardens, which look as though they may have been built soon after the war.

The housing at the western end of Corona Road is newer, perhaps from the early 1980s, following the demolition on the houses facing Burnt Ash Hill.  Like the rest of the estate, where homes have not been sold under right to buy, it is now owned and managed by a housing association L&Q.

Either side of the only house from the 1880s (pictured above), there are a few what look like 1930s houses, but almost certainly date from the 1950s given the wartime destruction.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury – 29 August 1874
  2. Woolwich Gazette – 02 October 1880
  3. Kentish Independent – 10 December 1881
  4. Woolwich Gazette -27 September 1889
  5. Kentish Independent -13 November 1886
  6. 22 September 1882 – Kentish Mercury
  7. 26 February 1886 – London Daily News
  8. Laurence Ward(2015) ‘The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945’

 

Credits

  • A massive thank you to Pat Chappelle who made the link of Corona Road to the correct William Winn – any subsequent errors are, of course, mine.
  • The 1881 census image is via Find My Past as are all the other census, 1939 Register and related references – subscription required
  • The Ordnance Survey maps from 1897 and 1948 are via the National Library of Scotland on a Non-Commercial Licence