Tag Archives: Holme Lacey Road

Granville – A Victorian Cricket Club

A while ago Running Past looked at Northbrook Cricket club who had a ground In an area bounded by Manor Lane, the railway from Hither Green, Burnt Ash Hill and Holme Lacey Road.  They had cricketing next door neighbours – Granville, whose ground had some illustrious visitors and parts of whose story we will look at now.

Unlike Northbrook, the club wasn’t formed in Lee, it had been in existence in Blackheath for 18 years before it arrived in Lee in 1884, a decade after its neighbours. Like Northbrook, it was a name that related to local landowners.  The name Granville appears in several street names including on the northeastern side of Lewisham High Street, Granville Park and the lost Granville Mews – the ‘ghost’ of its name superimposed over the lovely Holdaway ghost sign on Belmont Hill. 

Long and Lazy Lewisham blog noted the derivation earlier in the year – it was a family middle name used by the Eliot family who were the Earls of St Germans.  It would have been the 3rd Earl of St Germans, Edward Granville Eliot, who the parish would have been referring to when naming the streets.

The club appears to have been set up by Pearse Morrison (1) a commercial stationer and printer, who lived in Blackheath at a house on one of those streets named after the Earls of St Germans – 5 Eliot Park (2).

They played on the Heath (3), the freeholders for which were the Legge family, later the Earls of Dartmouth; there were 18 adult cricket pitches on the Heath in 1890 and no doubt a similar number a few years before (4). However, there was no booking system for pitches with a “first there has the ground” rule (5), so for a club with seemingly wealthy members it may have encouraged them to look elsewhere. 

The moved to Lee was for the 1884 season, that campaign was good one – they played 23 won 11, lost 2, drew  10 (6).

A prominent name in the club around the time of the move to Lee was ‘Furze’ who lived at The Laurels, also known as Laurel Cottage, a large house on Hither Green Lane from the mid to late 1860s until the early 1880s.   It was initially home to wine merchant Thomas Holloway Furze who died in 1869, and his wife Emma who died in 1882.  At least three of their sons played for the club (7).

Frederic, born in  1852, who was the club Vice President in 1878 (8). He moved to Copers Cope Road in Beckenham by 1881, along with his brother Edwin, it seems that they took over his father’s wine business.

Herbert Furze (1856), unlike his brothers, became a stationer and after living at The Laurels in 1881, he had married and moved to Foots Cray by 1891.

Edwin (1858) was also living at the The Laurels in 1881, but moved closer to the ground and in 1891 was at 56 Handen Road.  Edwin was still playing at that point and in pictured in the 1893 team photo, which we’ll cover later. 

During the 1890s a well known name played in several matches against Granville – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who played for Norwood. Conan Doyle was a decent cricketer and played several First Class matches for the MCC, just down the road from 221B Baker Street.  His cricketing claim to fame was getting perhaps the biggest wicket of all, W G Grace.

The game’s afoot …..Conan Doyle’s first match in Lee was in 1891, when C J M Godfrey ripped through the Norwood batting taking five wickets, more on Godfrey later. Doyle fell cheaply, stumped off W Edwards bowling, taking no wickets himself. Like all the other batsmen he struggled on a rain sodden pitch in Norwood in a drawn game in September 1892. In July 1894 a Conan Doyle 38 saved the Norwood from defeat in Second XI match in Lee.

Later the same season, he opened the batting for the 1st XI  in a fixture at Norwood’s Pavillon Grounds, getting 20 before Helder bowled him, one of 8 wickets taken by him.  Whilst Doyle picked up a wicket it wasn’t enough to prevent a heavy defeat to Granville.

A Granville team photograph survives for the 1893 season.  Many of the names are ‘lost’ in terms of who they were but a few are worth mentioning. Charles John Melville (C J M) Godfrey was a professional who the club employed.  He was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm fast bowler who played a handful of first class matches for Sussex between 1885 and 1892 with a career best bowling of 5 for 22 in 1890, and a best of 17 with the bat in his final match against Yorkshire in 1892. Whilst playing for Oxford University his bowling was described as ‘energetic, if erratic’.

Perch (bottom row) was the grounds man (9) – it isn’t clear whether the lack of initial related to this status.  Edwin Furze (next to bottom row) we’ve already covered above. George Helder, who we’d seen above taking the wicket of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was the son of the Vicar of St Mildred’s church, a few hundred metres from the ground – he was 17 in 1893. 

Philip P Lincoln lived at a house almost opposite St Mildred’s church and was a Lime and Cement merchant. He seems to have continued his involvement in the club until the outbreak of World War 1.  Hope was expressed that he would be able to keep the club going after the loss of the ground (10).

R A (Richard Alfred) Glover, the bearded man in the centre of the picture, was the owner of the Wenlock Brewery in Hoxton, who lived at 143 Burnt Ash Road. He was presumably an officer of the club and will have made sure that the bar was well supplied. He’d moved onto Croydon by the time of his death in 1898.

During the 1893 season their primary matches were against Bickley Park, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Hampstead, Tunbridge Wells, Charlton Park, Streatham, Forest Hill, Hornsey, Blackheath, Bradfield Waifs, and a benefit against MCC and Ground (11) the ‘MCC’ were the amateurs who were members, the ‘Ground’ the professionals.  There was no league structure and the games were virtually all friendlies. 

1893 saw the tradition of an August tour of Sussex continue with a week of matches in Eastbourne, St Leonards and Willingdon (12).

There was also a home Granville Cricket Week in early August – the 1893 edition included games against Old Chigwellians, Border Regiment, Stoics, Eltham and a defeat to Forest Hill (13).

Fast forward into the new century a name appeared in the Granville scorecards that will be familiar to most people – W G Grace.  Running Past covered his later years in south London a while ago.  The last club he played for was Eltham and his first match for them was against Granville on 28 May 1910, at Chapel Farm (the current site of Coldharbour Leisure Centre). His impact was limited, while he opened the batting for Eltham he was trapped leg before wicket for 3 (14). An excellent scalp for an unnamed Granville bowler – likely to be either A S Johnson or J A Rutter who seem to have opened the bowling much of that season.

As well as turning out for Eltham, Grace still played for the MCC and captained them in their regular appearance at the Granville Cricket Week in 1912. Granville were made to bat and skittled out for 63; the MCC after an early wobble comfortably surpassed the home team’s score.  E L Downey took 5-36 for Granville.  In the other fixtures at Lee that week, they lost a thrilling final match to Guys Hospital by 2 runs despite a good opening partnership between J O Anderson and N Cockell.  Earlier in the week Anderson had put together a team which Granville had beaten.  They had also lost heavily to a Hampstead team that contained Harold Baumgartner who played Test Cricket for South Africa – his slow left-arm spin on a drying pitch had bewildered the Granville batsman – taking 9 wickets very cheaply, eight of them bowled (15). 

Grace appeared again in Lee for the MCC in 1913, they heavily defeated the men from Granville scoring well over 300 before dismissing the home team for less than 100, Grace’s contribution is not known.  In the Granville Cricket Week that year there were three victories for the home team – against Forest Hill, Hampstead and J Anderson’s XI, with defeats Wanderers, Richmond as well as the MCC. In games against J Anderson’s XI and Hampstead (and possibly others) there was a significant name playing for Granville, Cyril ‘Snuffy’ Brown who scored a century and took 9 wickets in the first of these (16).

Brown was a West Indian Test cricketer described as ‘a devastating bowler and attacking batsman’ who was a pioneer of bowling the ‘googly.’  He had already played for Barbados and the West Indies against the MCC when he came to London to train as a barrister in 1911. He mainly played for Clapham Rovers but in an era where clubs only played friendlies he turned out for several others, including Granville. It wasn’t just his bowling that impressed – he was described as ‘a brilliant field(er), and a splendid batsman; he has an easy style and can pull a ball with remarkable ease’ (17).

He returned to the West Indies in 1914, going on to be the first black captain of an island team, and had it not been for the racism within West Indies cricket may well have gone on to captain the Test team.

An article in the Sporting Life in 1913 noted that the end was nigh for the ground, with development planned for after the 1914 season.  World War One brought cricket to a halt there most sport – as we saw with Catford Southend.  Cricket doesn’t seem to have restarted in Lee after the war (18).

The housing took a while to arrive – Holme Lacey Road was built by W J Scudamore in the early 1920s.  The pavilion whose steps, W G Grace, and Snuffy Browne walked down is now occupied by 53 and 55 (pictured).

The Granville ‘square’ where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will have taken guard was covered by the Chiltonian Biscuit factory which had moved on from Staplehurst Road.  Today, it is the home of the Chiltonian Industrial Estate, pictured below, the square would have been at the far end of the photograph.

Notes

  1. 12 October 1878 – Kentish Mercury
  2. 20 July 1877 – Kent & Sussex Courier
  3. 19 June 1913 – Sporting Life Re Heath 
  4. Neil Rhind (1987) The Heath pp 55-56
  5. ibid
  6. 26 September 1884 – Kentish Mercury
  7. 12 October 1878 – Kentish Mercury
  8. ibid 
  9. 21 September 1893 – Cricket 
  10. 19 June 1913 – Sporting Life 
  11. 13 April 1893 – Cricket 
  12. 19 April 1893 – Sporting Life 
  13. 10 August 1893 – Sporting Life 
  14. 02 June 1910 -Cricket 
  15. 19 June 1912 – The Sportsman
  16. 19 June 1913 – Sporting Life 
  17. 07 September 1912 – Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 
  18. 19 June 1913 – Sporting Life 

Picture and Other Credits

  • The drawing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is via the Illustrated London News on 25 May 1901
  • The photograph of Snuffy Brown is via the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 07 September 1912 
  • The picture of W G Grace is from a year or two before he played for Eltham, as it is in the colours of London County, it is on a Wikimedia Creative Commons
  • Census and related data comes via Find My Past, subscription required
  • The 1893 team photograph & the picture of the Chiltonian Biscuit Factory are part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission but remains their copyright
  • The map showing the location of the ground is on a non-commercial licence via the National Library of Scotland

Victorian Cricket and a Suffragette attack in Lee

In an area bounded by Manor Lane, the railway between Hither Green and Holme Lacey Road there was once a pair of cricket grounds, Granville at the Manor Lane end and Northbrook at the western end abutting Lee Public Halls.  We’ll look at Northbrook now and Granville in a later post.

The land appears to have previously been on the southern (left) edge of Lee Manor Farm – the farm map below from the 1840s probably marks it as ‘C K 12.1.10’.  Further to the south was Burnt Ash Farm (at the current junction of Baring and St Mildred Roads).  

In the mid 1860s the railway embankments had cut through the southern end of the farm cutting off the fields and seeing several other parcels of land sold for development.  

Both farms were owned by the Baring Family, at that stage headed by Thomas Baring, Baron Northbrook from 1866 and Earl of Northbrook from 1876.  The title was named after a village close to their Stratton Park estate in Hampshire.  As was covered a while ago, some of the family money came directly from slavery, including some slave ownership.

The Northbrook Cricket club seems to have been founded in 1871 by two relatively wealthy locals of mid Victorian suburbia – William Willis and  William Marks (1).  The latter was born in 1822 and was a Silk Merchant who lived at 30 Southbrook Road (also referred to as The Cottage) in the 1881 and 1891 censuses but had probably moved there in 1871.

The other founder was William Willis QC (pictured), who was a barrister from Bedfordshire living at 4 Handen Road in 1871, 12 Northbrook Road in 1881 and 1891, he moved to the Elms at the corner of Belmont Grove and Belmont Hill during the 1890s (2) and in Belmont Park by 1911.  Willis was also a Liberal politician and MP for Colchester from 1885 until his death in 1911.

Unsurprisingly, given the name of the club, its President was Lord Northbrook (3) and the ground was imaginatively  named Lord Northbrook’s Ground (4).

It was a club with a vision of success who employed a professional in its early years – the Kent player Henry Palser (5).  He seems to have been a local man who was born in 1841, his father had been ‘Beadle of Lee Church’ in 1851.   Palser had an intermittent career as a professional around the country over the next couple of decades; out of season, he worked as a bricklayer – he was living in Court Hill Road in Hither Green in 1881.  

In the local press there wasn’t that much coverage of the club, mentions only seeming to mention fundraisers often at Lee Public Halls, next door, at least until it became a laundry. The Royal Hand Bell Ringers and Glee Singers featured in early 1880 (6).  They also covered annual dinners and the speeches at them – 1878’s noted a good season winning 16/28 matches drawing 8 and losing 4; the batting averages were topped by a Mr Cole at 41 which he won a bat for at the annual dinner (7).

From the early 1880s there began to be extensive coverage of their games, or at least the scorecards in a Victorian newspaper called ‘Cricket.’  Oddly while batting averages were published, bowling ones weren’t. The matches seemed to be friendlies, or at least no league tables were produced.   There is no intention here to do a complete season by season history of the club, it would be repetitive and probably not that interesting; instead we will look at a season every few years.

1883 was their 13th season and it was noted as being ‘successful and satisfactory.’ Matches played that season included their next door neighbours Granville, Sidcup, Burlington, Addiscombe, Old Charlton who played in Charlton Park, Lausanne, Islington Albion, Eltham (at Chapel Farm – now Coldharbour  Leisure Centre), Orpington, Hampton Wick, Pallingswick (close to Hammersmith) and Croydon.

Thirty six matches were played that summer of which 15 were won, 8 lost – of the 13 drawn games, 8 were in the favour of the men from Lee. The batting averages were headed by a W J Smith on 22.13 (8).

By 1889 the opponents were similar although matches had extended down into Kent, with matches against Gravesend and Greenhithe added.  There were 46 matches played 15 won, 12 lost, 12 drawn and 7 abandoned in the wetter summer.  The batting averages were headed by P W G Stuart  on 52.7 (9) – he was probably army Lieutenant, Pascoe Stuart who had been born in Woolwich but had moved away from the area by 1891. Heading the bowling averages was E D J Mitchell who lived just around the corner in Birch Grove, just over the road from E Nesbit of Railway Children fame.

In the late 19th century, Lee was a prosperous area on the edge of the city and those who played for the team in that era reflected that.  They included that season Thomas Blenkiron (10) a silk merchant who live on Burnt Ash Hill who had family links to Horn Park Farm – the house they lived in was called Horn Park. 

1893 started badly for the club with the pavilion being destroyed by fire in January the cause was not  clear (11). The rebuilding was incredibly rapid, with a new ‘half timbered structure with three gables’ built by Kennard Brothers of Lewisham Bridge and opened in late April ahead of the new season (12). The location was mid-way along what is now Holme Lacey Road (below).

Reporting became a lot more reduced during the 1890s, the reasons for this aren’t that clear although it may be because the nature of the Cricket newspaper may well have changed.  In the 1880s smaller clubs like Northbrook were able to pay to have their scorecards covered, this didn’t happen any more in the final decade of the century with mentions reducing to, at best, a couple of sentences.  1899 was a poor season for the club, matches includes matches against Goldsmiths’ Institute – the home away away games involved heavy defeats; a winning draw against Dulwich and a draw in the return fixture at Burbage Road, a losing draw against the London and Westminster Bank, defeats to Panther, Charlton Park and Forest Hill (13).

The number of mentions  got further and further between in the 20th century, with only a handful of reports each year.  There were a few more mentions in 1912 which seems to have been a relatively successful one for the club. There was a winning draw against Albemarle and Friern Barnet in and victories against Addiscombe and  Crofton Park in May and June respectively – A W Fish scored 50s in both games and probably his brother, HD was a centurion in June against Hertford, with Mansel-Smith a centurion against Bromley Town a few days earlier.

There was a comfortable victory against Derrick Wanderers in Manor Way in Blackheath (pictured above in 2020); the ground is still open space but is now abandoned and fenced off, owned by a development company hoping no doubt for a planning law changes that will allow them to develop the site.

In January 1914 the Northbrook Cricket Club pavilion was burned down again. While the Lewisham WSPU branch never claimed responsibility, that week’s ‘The Suffragette’ implied it was the their work the headline noting. ‘Fires and Bombs as Answer to Forcible Feeding’ and having a report on the fire below (bottom right hand corner). The national press was a little more circumspect about naming the culprit though and no one was ever charged with the arson.

It isn’t clear what happened to the club after their 15 minutes of infamy in 1914.  While it is possible that it continued for the rest of the 1914 season, it is likely that World War One brought cricket to a halt there most sport – as we saw with Catford Southend football club.   

By 1924, the landowners, presumably still the Northbrooks, had cashed in on the value of the land and sold it.  The Northbrook ‘square’ was covered by the Chiltonian Biscuit factory which had moved on from Staplehurst Road.  Today, it is the home of the Chiltonian Industrial Estate, pictured below.  The pavilion and southern edge of the outfield was covered at around the same time by the houses of Holme Lacey Road, built by W J Scudamore – pictured earlier in the post.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 28 April 1893
  2. Neil Rhind (2020) Blackheath and its Environs, Volume 3 p518
  3. Kentish Mercury 11 January 1873 
  4. Sporting Life  23 September 1871 
  5. Kentish Mercury 27 May 1871 
  6. Kentish Mercury 24 January 1880 
  7. Kentish Mercury 23 November 1878 
  8. Cricket 20 September 1883 
  9. Cricket 26 September 1889 
  10. Cricket 26 September 1889 
  11. Reynolds’s Newspaper 8 January 1893
  12. Kentish Mercury 28 April 1893
  13. Cricket 1899 various dates 

Credits

  • The 1843 map of Lee Manor Farm and the picture of the Chiltonian Biscuit Factory are part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright;
  • The picture of William Willis is via WikiTree on a Creative Commons
  • The map showing the location of the ground is on a non-commercial licence via the National Library of Scotland
  • Census and related data comes from Find My Past

Variety, Soap Suds and Building Supplies – The Story of Lee Public Halls

At the Burnt Ash Road end of Holme Lacey Road, set back from the road, is a London Stock brick building which has been largely covered by the signage of its current owners – Travis Perkins. While the building itself has been much extended and altered, at its core is a 1870s building that started as Lee Public Halls – briefly home to variety, light entertainment and numerous Victorian Societies and later, as the title suggests, put to a variety of other uses.

The ‘proprietor’ and no doubt builder of the Lee Public Halls was John Pound – builder of much of Burnt Ash, Grove Park and bits of Blackheath along with a quartet of the area’s pubs. There were two linked brick buildings one holding up to 1000 the other 400 which were ‘suitable for concerts and public meetings’, they were probably built around 1876. The original site included a frontage onto Burnt Ash Hill, now largely occupied by Bellamy’s Citroën dealership.

The Victorians liked their Societies and needed venues for them – Blackheath had the Concert Halls, built by William Webster’s firm of builders, and the Arts Club; the northern part of Lee had the Lee Working Men’s Institution on Old Road (which was nothing of the sort and will be covered in a later post), but South Lee had nothing equivalent in the way of halls for Societies and entertainment. Lee Public Halls, along with the Station, the shops and the pubs was probably part of the package that Pound was using to sell the homes he was building.

The earliest references to the Halls are at the beginning of 1878 where Professor Era ‘the Popular Illusionist’ performed giving his ‘marvellous and amusing entertainment.’ Like many of the evening entertainments, it was effectively a benefit, with proceeds going to the ‘Burnt Ash Mothers Meeting.’ (1)

Another early benefit was by the Lee Literary and Musical Society who gave a musical recital in aid of Lee Crèche, an organisation which provided for ‘poor children’ in the absence of their mothers during working hours (8 am to 9 pm). The Hall was filled and the ‘audience good’ (2).

During the day the Halls were regularly used as an auction hall for furniture (3). There was an attempt to set up a school there in 1879, although this doesn’t appear to have come to fruition (4).

Political meetings were held there from early in its life, the first recorded one being a large one concerning flooding in the Quaggy and Ravensbourne catchments in May 1878 – an early incarnation of the Quaggy Waterways Action Group, perhaps (5).  It noted that 2000 homes had been flooded in the area in April 1878 and asked the Metropolitan Board of Works to do something about it.

Penny Readings were regular fayre; they seemed to follow the standard, well established form that had been in place for 20 years consisting of readings and other performances, usually by local people. While when they were introduced the charge was as the name implied, by the time they reached Lee, the charges were 2/- (10p) for the reserved seats and 6d (2.5p) for unreserved seats (6). The Penny Readings were popular entertainment with, in the early years, 800 often present (7).

The next door neighbour to Lee Public Halls when they opened was Northbrook Cricket Club, which we have covered before in relation to a suffragette arson attack on their pavilion in early 1914. The Halls were the venue for an annual fundraising concert for the club, the 1878 edition saw the Hall was ‘tastefully arranged and adorned with evergreens and flower, (and) was comfortably filled with a select and appreciative audience.’  (8)

The 1880 version saw apparent favourites of Queen Victoria, the Royal Hand-Bell Ringers and Glee Singers perform. The tickets were only slightly more expensive than the Penny Readings (9).

One of the regular variety acts at Lee Public Hall was the Royal Black Diamond Minstrels (see below, 10)  – they were described as ‘popular exponents of negro minstreley.’ While such entertainment is racist and very dated, it remained popular up until the late 1970s when one of their successor groups, the Black and White Minstrels, still regularly appeared on prime time television on Saturday evenings – oddly for a while featuring Lenny Henry. In the 1880s it was considered family entertainment with generally white performers using burnt cork as make up and ‘enacting comic songs and dances with often grotesquely stereotyped caricatures of black behaviour.’  The Black Diamond Minstrels appeared several times to packed houses, ‘crowded to excess.’ (11)

The local Societies regularly used the Halls as a venue – a regular was South Lee and Burnt Ash Dahlia Society which held annual competitions there (12).

As noted above, benefit concerts and amateur dramatics were a staple fayre at the Halls – an early one in May 1878 was a fundraiser for the building of St Mildred’s – there was a poor turnout due to the ‘inclement weather’ (13).  By the autumn of the following year there were fortnightly concerts and entertainments raising funds to build the church (14) and pay for the organ – there was a concert with piano, several violins and vocalists in November 1879 (15).

Indirectly, the funding of benefit concerts for St Mildred’s was probably one of the things that contributed to the Halls demise as a venue. The building of churches and other halls locally will have reduced the revenue stream and it is noticeable from the early 1880s that local press coverage of events there diminished considerably.

By mid-1885 the building had been put to a new use – an advertisement in the Kentish Mercury in July announced that ‘The Public Hall Sanitary Steam Laundry’ was now in operation. A smaller advert in the same edition ‘Ladies desiring the van to call may send post card to the Manageress’ and could also come and have a look at the new machinery (16).

These were days before washing machines and, in middle class Lee, it would not be expected that the women (and certainly not the men….) of the households would be undertaking domestic drudgery of this type. As we saw in the first of the posts on Ardmere Road, taking in laundry for wealthier neighbours was commonplace. A step up from this were laundries – a little later local suffragette Clara Lambert came from a family that had set up a laundry and worked in it herself for many years.

There were adverts most weeks for staff in the ‘Kentish Mercury’, a few examples included:

  • Woman & boy for wash house (17)
  • Experienced preparer ‘none but good hands need apply’ (18);
  • Best ironers, tall drier also good washer (19);
  • Experienced folder wanted (tall preferred) (20).

It is possible that John Pound still had an interest in the building into the 1890s; there were attempts to sells it, along with Pound’s Estate Office (2 Burnt Ash Hill) opposite in the months after his bankruptcy. The laundry was let at £150 pa, and was noted as having a frontage of 81′ onto Burnt Ash Hill ‘thoroughly ripe for the erection of business premises.’ (21)

There were several similar adverts over the next few months, so perhaps surprisingly, the laundry remained and the frontage onto Burnt Ash remained undeveloped (22).

By 1905, it appears that a small portion of the frontage was let to decorators – Edmund James Tagg, but the Public Halls Steam Laundry, then under the control of W P Cowan remained as having an address with a frontage onto Burnt Ash Hill.

Little changed until the 1920 when two motor trade businesses were to take over the front – in the 1927 Kelly’s Directory Albert Tooley’s Station Garage and Lee Auto Services were on the Burnt Ash Hill frontage, with the shortened Public Hall Laundry now accessed from the W J Scudamore developed Holme Lacey Road (the map below shows the site from 1950 (23))

By 1941 Scudamore’s were using part of the site of the laundry, whether this marked a slight scaling back of operations isn’t clear. By 1953 the ‘Public Halls’ had been dropped from the name – it was now known as ‘Supreme Laundry.’ The last mention of the laundry was in 1962, when Lee Public Halls name had been restored. In 1963, the Halls were home to South London Engineering and Sheet Metal – they seem to have diversified into electrical equipment and air conditioning and were still there in the late 1980s when the last local Kelly’s Directories seem to have been published – replaced over time by Yellow Pages, Thompsons and the Internet.

View of rear of building from the Chiltonian Industrial Estate

As for Scudamores, they remained on the site until they went bankrupt in 1966; for a few years another building contractor – M E Lee seem to have used part of the site but they had gone by the mid-1970s. The current occupants are Travis Perkins and while the overall impression is of a builders supply yard, bits of the original building can still be glimpsed and it is still just about possible to imagine the carriages drawing up at 9:45 for the wealthy suburban citizens of Lee having seen the Royal Handbell Ringers and Glee Singers in February 1880 (24).

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 05 January 1878
  2. Kentish Mercury 16 February 1878
  3. Kentish Mercury 07 December 1878, but lots of other examples
  4. Kentish Mercury 05 July 1879
  5. Kentish Mercury 04 May 1878
  6. Kentish Mercury 19 April 1879
  7. Kentish Mercury 26 October 1878
  8. Kentish Mercury 02 February 1878
  9. Kentish Mercury 24 January 1880
  10. Kentish Mercury 01 November 1879
  11. Kentish Mercury 08 November 1879
  12. Kentish Mercury 20 September 1879
  13. Kentish Mercury 25 May 1878
  14. Kentish Mercury 15 November 1879
  15. Kentish Mercury 01 November 1879
  16. Kentish Mercury 31 July 1885
  17. Kentish Mercury 27 February 1891
  18. Kentish Mercury 03 February 1893
  19. Kentish Mercury 14 May 1897
  20. Kentish Mercury 12 August 1910
  21. Kentish Mercury 29 May 1896
  22. Kentish Mercury 04 December 1896
  23. On a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/view/103032888
  24. Kentish Mercury 24 January 1880

The non-hyperlinked references to Directories are from the Blackheath, Greenwich and Lee Kelly’s Directories (pre-World War 2), the later ones are from the Kelly’s London Directories. Both were accessed via the always helpful, and under resourced, Lewisham Archives.

W J Scudamore – A Family Builder of Lee

While not quite on the scale of Cameron Corbett on the other side of the railway, the family builders WJ Scudamore and Sons have left a lasting impression on the urban landscape of Lee – many of the Edwardian and later roads were built by them.  The family retained connections in the area until at least the 1970s.  This post looks at both their lasting impact on the built environment, but also in tries to unpick some of their own story which is closely intertwined with their development of homes.

The firm appears to have been founded by William John Scudamore who was born in 1845 in Whitechapel – he married Harriet Stevenson in 1865 and together had eight children, only four of who lived beyond childhood.  The three surviving sons all became Directors of the firm – William John (1867), Cornelius (1871) and George (1873).

William (1845) was living in at 37 Henry Street in St George’s area of Borough in Southwark working as a blind maker in the 1871 census; a decade later, the family had moved to Bermondsey New Road where William (1845) was then listed as a furniture dealer.

William’s (1845) first wife Harriet died in 1896 and he married Elizabeth Drane in 1898, in Southwark. They had two further children – John William (1899) and Henry (1904) who were born in Catford and Lee respectively – as with the other sons, they were to become Directors of the family firm.

While there seems to be no reference to William (1845) in the 1891 census, it would seem likely that the building firm had already been set up – certainly, his son William (1867), who had married Annie Elizabeth Jackson the previous year, was listed as a builder living at 226 Old Kent Road – possibly for his father.

The first definite location in Lewisham that it is known that WJ Scudamore developed was on the site of the former Hope Cottage on Hither Green Lane.  The plot was about 5.5 acres in size and (1) saw the development of the shops fronting Hither Green Lane and the flats above them, along with Woodlands, Benin and Blashford Streets (2).   As can be seen from a newspaper advert further down the post, 1 Benin Street (below) was used for a while as the Estate Office.  It seems that this development predated adding the ‘Sons’ to the business as there were mentions of paying bills of £20 in 1898 and £6 11s 6d in 1899 for connection of sewers.

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By 1901, William (1845) had moved to the then suburbia of Catford and was living at 157 Brownhill Road, with his new wife.  His sons from the first marriage were all close by – William (1867) was living at 144 Laleham Road, Catford, and had a daughter, also Annie, who had been born in Southwark around 1894 and a son, also William John, born around 1897 in Catford.  His brother, Cornelius was living just around the corner at 45 Farley Road, like his brother he was listed as a builder in the census – although the family history notes that he was an ‘administrator and designer of the houses.’  The youngest brother, George, carried the same ‘trade’ in his census listing in 1901 and was a few minutes away from his brothers at 155 Hither Green Lane.

By 1906, the firm, now including the ‘Sons’  were at 13 Manor Lane, now 89/91 after Redruth Road became part of Manor Lane.  They were using it as an estate office for various developments in the area;  William (1867) seems to have lived there and had another son Harold who was born there.  It is on the corner of Manor Lane and Handen Road and is now a convenience store.  Given the similarity of some of the architectural details, it would not be surprising if the property was build by the Scudamores.

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There were advertisements in the London Press for four bedroom homes at rents of £40 a year (1).

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While it isn’t completely clear which houses these referred to, within a year or two they were advertising homes for sale on what they referred to as the Manor Park Estate (2).

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The Manor Park Estate would seem to include roads like Thornwood, Chalcroft (below) and Kellerton Roads along with parts of Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park – the last three were all to become home to family members once the building work was completed.

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In the same editions of the South London Press (3), they were also also letting homes in Benin Street and presumably above the neighbouring shops on Hither Green Lane.

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By 1911 the brothers were all living around Lee – Cornelius had moved  to Southbrook Road, William (1867) was at 89 Manor Park and George a few doors away at 127. Their father, William (1845) was living close by at 79 Micheldever Road.

By 1915, they were operating out of 412-414 Lee High Road – they used it both as an office as well as a store and workshop for making windows.  It is where Sainsbury’s is now – a couple of doors down from the Imperial Picture Palace and next door to the former Police Station, During that year they bought several pieces of land and buildings in Newstead Road although, while the Scudamore interest was noted as a builder this may have been completing transactions on work completed several years before – OS maps show Newstead Road being built around the mid-1890s.  Examples on the link are for 45, 47, 59 and 67 but there were several other similar transactions.

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Given the similarity of houses on the neighbouring Parkcroft Road (below) and St Mildred’s Road to houses they built in Manor Park and Chalcroft Road – it is likely that they are the work of W J Scudamore & Sons too.

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Newstead Road may have been the first development in the area as the history of the family name notes that the early approach to building was to lease plots on which he built houses.

Around this point William (1845) moved into a large house at 38 Manor Lane Terrace, with gardens and tennis court – it was the former Manor Farm – adjacent to homes that the firm had built and perhaps bought with the land for them.  The house was demolished, probably after Elizabeth died in the 1960s (William, 1845, had died in 1824), and is now part of Wolfram Close – probably a misspelled version of the name of last occupant of the Manor House (now library).

William (1867) and Annie moved to Baring Road (presumably built by the firm), and by 1928 had retired – they are recorded on a couple of passenger lists going to North Africa and listed as having  had no occupation.

The business seems to have been taken over by William John (1897) – the business, at least, was based at 1 Burnt Ash Hill, next to the station – convenient for sales to commuters.

In the  1920s and 1930s they were building some of the newer homes of Lee – including homes on what was then referred to as the Northbrook Estate, opposite the Northbrook Park on Baring Road (see picture below).  An advert offered the 3 bedroom homes at £725 for leasehold at £875 freehold – stressing the relative proximity of both Grove Park and Lee Stations.  It was almost certainly part of the land of College Farm, which Running Past will return to in the future.

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William John (1897) was also extending their area of operation – particularly into Bexley, during the mid to late 1930s they developed sites at

William John (1897) married Dora and had two sons and a daughter, William John who was born around 1923, he died training as a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment in 1942. Like many of the rest of the family they lived in a Scudamore house – they were listed in the 1939 Register as living at 2 Dallinger Road (below), development of that road had started in 1914 (6). The street was named after a scientist and Methodist minister, William Dallinger, who lived locally towards the end of his life.  It is on the corner of another street the firm built – Holme Lacey Road – which is a misspelled reference to the historic home of the Scudamores – Holme Lacy in Herefordshire – the development of that street was a lot later – around 1928 (7).

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Cornelius was listed as living at 156 Halfway Street in Sidcup on a passenger list to Brisbane in 1938, presumably to visits his son, also Cornelius, who emigrated to Australia.  He was listed as a Master Builder (Retired) at the same address in the 1939 Register.  He died in 1958 in Greenwich.   William (1867) seems to have come out of retirement as he was involved with the firm in 1939, living in a large house close to Sevenoaks – one of the other occupants was his son Harold, who was listed as a Scudamore Director.  William (1867) was to live until 1955.   George had retired by 1939 and was living in Footscray Road – he died in Bromley in 1950.

Nothing is known of what happened to the firm after World War 2 although they continued in business until 1966, when they were based in Holme Lacey Road – probably where Travis Perkins are now (2017) trading from.  The firm was voluntarily wound up on 18 July 1966 and a liquidator appointed – when William John (1897) would have been around 69 and was still Chairman of the business at the time of the winding up.  William John (1897) was to live until he was 90.

The Scudamores left their mark in other ways than the homes – they had bespoke manhole covers at the rear of the homes they developed, and excellent Edith’s Streets suggested that they also had them on the roads of the estate.  Sadly, despite a ferrous foray around the streets of Hither Green and Lee looking for evidence.  Alas, dear reader, I found no evidence of the latter.  However, in the back gardens the former still exist with the Manor Lane address.

 

Notes

  1. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green – The Forgotten Hamlet p35
  2. ibid p39
  3. London Daily News 28 June 1906 – there were several of the same adverts around then.
  4. South London Press South London Press 29 January 1909 – the same advertisement was used for several months.
  5. ibid
  6. Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names and Their Origins p17
  7. ibid p29

The elements of the family history have been gleaned from two sources – the census, shipping, marriage and related data came via Find My Past 

The most important sources have been the fascinating Scudamore Family history along with various members of the Scudamore family who have  enabled me to piece together strands that I had originally not been able to link together.

Thank you also to Nick Noel for the photograph of the drain cover.