Tag Archives: Lee Green

The New Tiger’s Head – A Lee Green Pub

One of the more depressing sites at the Lee Green crossroads is the slowly decaying New Tiger’s Head; it ought to be a focal point but the decline on such an impressive building was sufficient for the Victorian Society to include it on their 2017 list of 10 most endangered Victorian and Edward buildings – previous local listings have included Ladywell Baths.  Oddly, for such an impressive building, it isn’t nationally listed, even locally listed by Greenwich.

The New Tiger‘s Head started life as a beer shop known as the Tiger Tavern in the 1830s – it was a name that, off and on, it retained into the early 20th century. It was at the western end of a group of four cottages known as Prospect Terrace which were built at around the same time and had the same ownership. These cottages remain, housing a post office/newsagent and a hairdresser’s.  To confuse matters, it was partially on the site of its near neighbour the (Old) Tiger’s Head which had moved to its current location in the mid-18th century.

So what was a beer shop or house?  It had its roots in earlier social problems caused by excessive consumption of gin – made famous by Hogarth’s prints on the evils of Gin Lane and the relative merits of Beer Street in the 1750s – see below (1).  In the 1820s and 1830s governments were attempting to deal with widespread drunkenness through gin drinking which had partially arisen through high levels of taxation on beer.  The Beerhouse Act of 1830 abolished the tax on beer and allowed the opening on premises that could only sell beer and apart from an annual 2 guinea licence fee there was only limited control over their opening and limited regulation.  This was very different to the strict regime that existed for public houses which could sell wines and spirits too.  The beer house was the starting point in licencing terms for many Victorian public houses and there were often long campaigns to get turn the beer house licence into a full pub licence.

By 1841 the New Tiger’s Head seems to have been a successful business, it was described as being ‘intended for a licensed house, doing an extensive trade’ it was sold with the four neighbouring cottages – the lease was for 80 years with a ground rent of £17 a year (2).

In the 1840s seem to have seen the first recorded applications for a full licence for the New Tigers Head in 1847; unsurprisingly, it was opposed by Charles Morton, landlord of the Old Tigers Head opposite (3).

By 1849 the landlord was William Charles Pickup, he made the third application for a full licence – it was based on the growth of area and coming of the railway.  It was again opposed by Charles Morton, and was again refused by the bench – who noted that if Pickup ‘ever expected to gain a licence, he must conduct his house in a better manner.’ (4).

Pickup was a relatively young man, just 27 when the census enumerators called in 1851 Census. Pickup sold up in 1853 and there was a sale that year of assorted household possessions and a ‘light gig with excellent springs, patent axels, leather cushion etc.’ (5).

Each September the case for a full licence seems to have been made to the magistrates, and it was refused in 1856 (6) and the following year a petition against the request was presented to the bench ‘ numerously signed by the clergy and resident gentry of the place.’  It was again refused (7). The opposition from the clergy and the gentry shouldn’t be seen as any form of tactic support for the Mortons and their running of the Old Tiger’s Head; rather it was an opposition to drinking and pubs per se.  Much of the same group were behind the setting up of Lee Working Men’s Institution in 1854 in Boone Street.  Despite its name, it was no working men’s club and promoted the expansion of knowledge and abstinence. Running Past will return to this in the future.

James Phillips, described in the 1861 census as a refreshment house keeper, took over the licence in the late 1850s.  He used the petition tactic with his application getting support from several farmers and market gardeners of the area – perhaps including Richard Morris at Lee Green Farm, (pictured below from the information board at Lee Green) William Brown at College Farm, Thomas Adams of Burnt Ash Farm and Thomas Blenkiron at Horn Park Farm.

It was again opposed by the landlord of the Old Tigers Head, now Caroline Morton, mother-in-law of John Pound (soon to be owner of the Northbrook).  She used a different tack in the opposition to that used by her late husband, claiming the name would be too similar. Phillips suggested that it was a requirement of his lease, but he would be happy to call it ‘The Monkey’ or any other animal to get a full licence (8).  Unsurprisingly, the licence was refused, although a licence for selling wine (but not spirits) was granted later that year following new legislation (9).

Phillips, who was married to Martha and employed two live-in bar maids and a waiter in 1861, had another application rejected in 1861(10) but, after an adjournment in 1863, he finally obtained a full licence (11).

Almost as soon as Phillips had obtained the licence he sold his interest to Marchant Bowyer Warner, presumably it was worth much more than it had been as a beer house (12).

Phillips had planned to extend the frontage of the beer house in 1863, but permission had not been granted (13).  However, Warner was quick to extend – adding a billiard room in 1865 (14) along with some other alternations in 1866 (15) and a new sign, which required permission, the same year (16).

Warner was only 28 when he took over the tenancy in 1864; it wasn’t his first licence though – he’d been the publican at the Duke of Wellington in Shacklewell for just over a year before that.  Whether he had inherited wealth or the now fully licensed New Tiger’s Head was very profitable indeed, he was listed as a retired Licensed Victualler living in nearby Cambridge Drive by 1881.  He stayed in Cambridge Drive for the next three censuses and died in Lewisham in 1921.

There was a series of landlords in the 1880 and 1890s, with Edward Dicker (1881), John Stevens (1883) and Emma Porter all being licensees (17).  There were then brief interludes of Frederick Morgan (18) behind the pumps, followed by George Rose (19). Arthur Strutt Lindus took over soon after and was fined £8 12s for watering down beer in late 1894 (20). Lindus had been a licenced victualler before at the Heaton Arms in Peckham in the 1871 and 1881 censuses.

Source eBay September 2016

The pub seems to have been re-built in its present form in the late 1890s, a year or two after the Old Tiger’s Head on the opposite corner of Lee Road.  The landlord when it re-opened was probably Neville Dedman, part of a family with a strong tradition of running pubs.  Most recently, his father William had been publican at the Old Tiger’s Head before it was rebuilt in 1896.  Despite all press reports noting it as the New Tiger’s Head, it was listed as the Tiger Tavern again in the census.

For reasons that aren’t clear William, who lived a short way up Eltham Road, took over the tenancy in 1902 (21). He was eyeing up other options though and got permission to build the Station Hotel in Hither Green in 1905 (22).  Sadly, he died in 1906, the year before the Station Hotel opened and his widow, Jane, was to become the licensee. Neville was in control though by the time the census enumerators called in 1911. Neville saw out his days in an appropriate location for the pub keeping traditions of his family, at the beautiful, on the outside, at least, Licensed Victuallers Benevolent Institution Asylum Road in Peckham (See below – on a Creative Commons via Geograph) in 1939 Register.

John Reynolds from Cambridgeshire took over the tenancy in 1904, with his wife Elizabeth who hailed from Hitchin, and remained there until his death in 1914.

Albert James Bromley succeeded the Reynolds for 5 years but the long term licensee was Robert Prichard who took over in 1921 and was certainly there in the 1939 Register, then aged 71 with Agnes who he had married in 1925.  They had 5 live-in staff to help them run the business.  Robert probably remained there until his death in 1945.  It probably wasn’t his first licence as a Robert Pritchard of right age was running Red Lion, 1 Eldon Street, Shoreditch in 1901.

The pub ceased trading in 2005; it was no doubt the victim of a number of factors  – cheap supermarket drinks and some of the local factors that led to the demise of the nearby Prince Arthur – the closure of the police station and the slow haemorrhage of offices from Leegate House and Cantilever House (above the Leegate Centre).  There are suggestions too that the owners, Enterprise Inns ‘ran this place into the ground’, although the arrival of Wetherspoons’ Edmund Halley about 50 metres away with its cheaper beer and more welcoming feel at around the same time was probably more pivotal in its demise.

The building isn’t completely empty, the upper floors have been turned into 6 flats – with an annual rental income of over £70,000 – the interior has been recently had some emergency works undertaken to secure the interiors from further damage following discussions with both Lewisham and Greenwich Councils.   As Joe O’Donnell has noted (see comments below) – there was an unsuccessful application to Greenwich to turn the ground floor into flats in 2016.

At the time of writing (March 2018), the freehold is on sale with offers of £2.5 million sought. Ironically, when the plans for St Modwens redevelopment of the Leegate were first mooted there were suggestions that Wetherspoons might move to the New Tiger’s Head, although there has been nothing recent in the local media on this.

Unlike many other closed local pubs, there haven’t been pages of memories posted on Facebook – maybe there hasn’t been a trigger to do it… So, if you worked there or drank there, tell your story, who were the characters who propped up the bar, the landlord, the staff,  the atmosphere, the memorable nights, the particular celebrations that were held there, memories of the friends, the beers.  Post them below (you can use your Facebook or Twitter login – or via Facebook (if you found the post via here) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for it to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Anything libellous though will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.

Notes

  1. On a Creative Commons via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Street_and_Gin_Lane
  2. 12 October 1841 – Morning Advertiser – London, London, England
  3. 28 September 1847 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  4. 06 October 1849 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  5. 10 September 1853 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  6. 27 September 1856 – Kentish Independent – London, London
  7. 25 September 1857 – Morning Advertiser – London, London
  8. 29 September 1860 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  9. 10 December 1860 – Morning Advertiser – London, London, England
  10. 28 September 1861 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  11. 26 September 1863 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  12. 21 May 1864 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  13. 21 March 1863 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  14. 11 November 1865 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  15. 14 April 1866 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  16. 25 August 1866 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  17. 17 February 1883 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  18. 29 August 1890 – Woolwich Gazette
  19. Kentish Mercury 13 February 1891
  20. London Evening Standard 10 December 1894
  21. 29 August 1902 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  22. 10 March 1905 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England

Census & related information come via Find My Past

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The Prince Arthur – A Lost Lee Green Pub

From the outside, some pubs lure you in with warmth, light or laughter exuding from the windows or doors.  A couple of hundred metres down Lee High Road from Lee Green,  the Duke of Edinburgh always has a welcoming feel, as did, The Woodman, a little further towards Lewisham – they are pubs that want to ‘pull’ in the wavering would–be drinker inside. Sadly, in its latter years, at least, the Prince Arthur, close to Lee Green, never seemed to be one of those pubs – it didn’t seem to offer even the slightest of enticements to the passing casual drinker to step inside.

The building was originally one of a row of early 19th century ‘cottages’ – several of which still survive on Lee high Road, and, from 1904 next door to the police station.  The latter closed around 2003 and was converted into flats and the pub only lasted another couple of years.  It is, however,pure conjecture as to whether the two events were in anyway linked…. The picture above from the London Metropolitan Archives – shows the pub – a quarter of the way in from the right in happier days.

The pub opened around 1870.  The name, Prince Arthur, was presumably after the  the 3rd son, 7th child, of Queen Victoria who had a local connection in that he attended the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1865, when aged 16.

The first landlord seems to have been William Scudds; the 1871 census wasn’t that helpful in terms of detail, but 10 years earlier he was living on Eltham High Street, where he’d been born. The new pub was run with his wife Elizabeth, his sister in law, Charlotte, and help from two servants. Ten years later saw Elizabeth still there – listed as a beer seller, but William had died in 1876 – aged just 36.  Elizabeth was helped by two sisters and her sister-in-law when the census enumerators called in 1881.

Elizabeth married Alfred Thurston later in 1881; the only man of that name in the area was 70 in 1881, while they had a daughter around 1883, Alfred is not mentioned again in on-line records and Elizabeth is again listed as a widow in 1891.  It remained a business run by the family Elizabeth was still listed as a ‘beer retailer’ in 1901.  She died in 1910 at the age of 64 – a death registered in Greenwich.

Charles Gosling, born in 1872, seems to have taken on the pub soon after Elizabeth died, and like her, his tenure was a long one – he was still there when the 1939 Register was drawn up – the only other occupant then was Vera Brighty who undertook unpaid domestic duties.  Vera was from near Wisbech and seems to have remained in Lewisham until her death in 1998. It hasn’t been possible to find anything definitive about Charles on-line, other than he was probably born in Lambeth.

From the 1980s there seems to have been a steady trickle of licensees – Brian Levett from 1988, Roger Bristow from 1989, Carol Bristow from 1995 and probably the final landlord Gerald St Ange from 1999.  The photo to the left is from this era and via the Dover, Kent Archives of Lost Pubs.

There are fond memories of the pub in the late 1980s and 1990s in the era when Roger and Carol Bristow ran the pub (see comment from Tony below)  – ‘relaxed atmosphere, looked how a pub should be, darts, good jukebox and the odd after hour sessions.’  Roger knew the regulars by name and the after driking refuelling was at the also departed Starburger.

The turning point for the pub seems to have been Roger and Carol splitting up, Carol remained and turned the Prince Arthur into much more of a ‘party pub.’  The regulars seem to have drifted away soon after.

Other memories of the pub from that era seem few and far between – it doesn’t seem to warrant any mentions in Facebook public pages at least, while there are a few comments on other sites – notably  Beer in the Evening,  they were universally negative.  The repeatable ones include it being a ‘horrifically bad boozer.’

The pub pulled its last pint in 2005; this was well before the spate of closures after the change in smoking laws, along with changing drinking patterns and supermarkets discounting alcohol contributed to a 12% reduction in the number of pubs between 2007 and 2015. It was taken over after its closure in 2005 by the painting and decorating merchants – Driscolls – who moved from the shop front next door into the building.

Unlike many other closed local pubs, there haven’t been pages of memories posted on Facebook – maybe there hasn’t been a trigger to do it… So, if you worked there or drank there, tell your story, who were the characters who propped up the bar, the landlord, the staff,  the atmosphere, the memorable nights, the particular celebrations that were held there, memories of the friends, the beers.  Post them below (you can use your Facebook or Twitter login – or on Facebook (if you found the post via here) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for it to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Anything libellous will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.

Note

Census and 1939 Register data is via Find My Past

 

Following the Quaggy – Lee Green to Hocum Pocum Lane

We left the Quaggy close to Lee Green with a Lewisham Natureman stag ‘grazing’ by the outflow of Mid Kid Brook, before that Running Past has followed the Quaggy from its sources around Locksbottom; then on through Petts Wood, the Hawkwood Estate, Chislehurst and Bickley, through the golf courses of Sundridge Park and on to Chinbrook Meadows; through the concrete and countryside of Mottingham; and latterly through the playing fields and parkland of Sutcliffe Park and the Lee/Blackheath borders.

The river changes here; gone now are the almost bucolic feel of the river through the playing fields and parkland in the section of the river from Sutcliffe Park to Lee Green. The Quaggy is now very much an urban river, with building up to the banks and the route downstream for the fluvial flâneur often parallel with the river only visible on bridges.

Riverside pubs have been conspicuous by their absence so far, but are a much more regular feature as we follow the last mile or so of the course.  The Old Tiger’s Head, 50 metres or so away from the river, was the base for the mid 1840s horse racing of the Lee Races. Lee Green was still rural then, complete with a green, a windmill and a farm – Lee Green Farm. The pub was very different then, being rebuilt in the 1890s, as the picture above from an information board at Lee Green shows.
The Quaggy squeezes between some 1990s flats and a plot of land that was Victorian housing and will presumably be returned to housing again; it was latterly the showroom of Penfolds Vauxhall dealers, after they moved from the former Lee Picture Palace on the corner of Bankwell Road.  The river, for a short period, is again banked and bedded in concrete – little is able to grow but that didn’t stop a few optimistic sticklebacks from attempting to eke out an existence in a hostile environment (below, top left) when I did the research for the post.

The Quaggy emerges out into the open at what used to be called Lee Green Bridge and the first proper riverside pub, the Duke of Edinburgh, still serving and with a pleasant garden at the rear.  The pub dates from around 1871 when the landlord, a Mr W Baker, took over licence of the Black Horse, which was a short-lived ‘beer house’ that may have been on the same site (1)

The river forms the rear boundary between homes in Lampmead and Brightfield Roads – the former named after a field. The course wasn’t always thus, the Quaggy originally took a course further to the north touching the southern end of what is now Lenham Road.  The differences are clear between the 1863 (top map below) and 1893 visits of the Ordnance Survey Cartographers (maps on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland). The effective development of Lampmead required the straightening of the river, following what was previously a path behind the houses of Robertson Street, which was to become Brightfield Road at around the same time.  The curved building (above, top right and bottom) hugs the banks of the river.
The Quaggy is bridged by the dog-leg of Brightfield Road before tumbling down into Manor House Gardens.  The Gardens are one of Lewisham’s flagship parks and were the grounds to a large house built and maintained from the proceeds of slavery until bought by the London County Council as a library and park in 1902.

Source – eBay Feb 2016

The Quaggy seems to have originally fed the small lake although is now at a much lower level.  It is bridged a couple of times within the park, both having been the venues for generations of Pooh Sticks, no doubt played before the game was named in the 1920s by A A Milne.
The river has natural earth banks topped with a dense tree canopy throughout its 400 metres or so through the park, during the summer the river is heavily shaded.  The steep banks make the river relatively inaccessible through the park.
Flowing out of Manor House Gardens, the river crosses Manor Lane, an old farm track and again forms a boundary – between the WJ Scudamore homes of Thornwood Road, a Lewisham Council sheltered scheme off Manor Lane and later more Scudamore homes on Manor Park.  This was a largely rural area until Hither Green station was build in the 1890s, there was a junction there from the 1860s, as the 1870 map below  on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland) shows. This part of Lee was still used for market gardening, mainly run from Manor Farm, until the Scudamores built homes of what was marketed as the Manor Park Estate..
Over the other side of Manor Park the river turns almost 90 degrees, to flow between more gardens, between Manor Park and Longhurst Road, briefly visible by peering around a bridge on one side of Staplehurst Road – close to the shops posted about earlier in 2017.  Just before the bridge the river is joined by one of its tributaries, Hither Green Ditch (Quaggy Hither Green).
The river continues northwards, squeezing between the gardens of Manor Park (the street) and the northern end of Longhurst Road before opening out into Manor Park (the park rather than the street).  The park’s rejuvenation has been covered before in Running Past, the former small pig farm has gone from one of Lewisham’s worst bits of open space to one of its best.  The Park has become a community hub – centred around the Arts Cafe.  The river itself is used much more – including the annual Quaggy Duck Race and the Float Your Boats event in June 2017, pictured below.
The Quaggy itself while having a ‘natural’ feel at the end of the back gardens of Leahurst Road, was concrete encased and hidden from the park on  the opposite bank.   Flooding used to be common in this area – in the mid-1960s, the then MP for the area Chris Chataway described residents as living ‘in fear of this wretched stream.
At the edge of the Park, there is a bridge – while the structure is a new one, the crossing an old one – it was the final section of Hocum Pocum Lane – an ancient path from Lee High Road to St Mary’s Church, and possibly beyond.
We’ll leave the Quaggy here for its final section to its confluence with the Ravensbourne in Lewisham.
Notes
  1. Ken White (1992) ‘The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham’ Part 6a, p134

Following the Quaggy – Sutcliffe Park to Lee Green

In previous posts, Running Past has followed the Quaggy from its sources around Locksbottom and then on through Petts Wood, the Hawkwood Estate, Chislehurst and Bickley, through the golf courses of Sundridge Park and on to Chinbrook Meadows.  Most recently, we left he river at on the south side of Eltham Green Bridge, by an old London County Council sign, wondering about how to moor a boat there.

North of the bridge, over Eltham Road, is Sucliffe Park; until the early 20th century the area was farmland, The Quaggy meandered through the fields as the map below shows (on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland).  Woolwich Borough Council acquired the land just after World War 1.  It was named after the then Borough Engineer (1).

The meanders had been removed by the time that the Ordnance Surveyors cartographers visited again in 1938 and encased in concrete – as the map below shows (on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland). The river was completely enclosed at some stage during the post war period, Ken White believed it to be around 1970 (2) although several on Facebook threads thought it was much earlier than this.

The look that remained until the current Millennium was of a flat, featureless park (apart from the athletics track that is home to Cambridge Harriers, whose early history was covered a while ago.  It was reminiscent of a miniature Hackney Marshes (Photo below on a Creative Commons via Restoring Europe’s Rivers wiki)

In Facebook threads on upstream posts, there were lots of memories of playing in the Quaggy and culverts around the Park, seemingly including some of the streams that join the Quaggy – notably Well Hall Stream.

This all changed in 2002. A new meandering channel was created for the Quaggy, close to its pre-1930s course, albeit at a slightly lower level, with the park itself being remodelled to create a flood plain able to store 85,000 m³  with a series of boardwalks, viewing points and a large pond. The old channel was retained for extreme flood situations and flow can be switched to it when the storage in the park is full (above, right photograph).

The park which used to be rarely visited other than for weekend football is now a well-used focal point and reconnecting the community with the river and its natural environment – it is often held up as an excellent example of urban river management. Unlike other parts of the Quaggy’s catchment, it is beginning to be used as a place of play and discovery – children can sometimes be seen jumping across the river, there were reminiscences about doing this in Mottingham, feeding ducks on the pond along with the occasional sightings of fishing nets and buckets.

The Quaggy was originally joined by Well Hall Stream in the park, although when followed a while ago, there was little evidence of any current flow.

The river goes through some complex engineering that can shut off the flows in periods of high water, and re-emerges the other side of Kidbrooke Park Road in the playing fields of John Roan School.  Here too the river has changed, the concrete encasement had continued west of the road, I remember having to scramble down angled concrete to fish out footballs from the river during my sons’ Saturday morning football practice there. 

The Quaggy is theoretically joined by Lower Kid Brook (above) opposite a rather impressive Woolwich Borough marker (below left), or rather it isn’t any more – the flow was probably diverted into the Quaggy three hundred metres to the east in Sutcliffe Park.

Beyond John Roan playing fields, the river is sandwiched between Lyme Farm Road estate, which replaced Victorian housing, and Crofton Albion FC.  It emerges out into the public gaze again at Weigall Road where the 1903 boundary markers from Woolwich had again been busy (above right).

Over the road, to the south, there is another series of playing fields – the first is a public one, Weigall Sports Field which was once home to Ravensbourne Athletic Club’s grass running track.  It was part of a residential club and sports centre for employees of Cook, Son and Co (St Pauls) Ltd. which was a clothing wholesale company – the building faces on to Eltham Road (see above) and was completed in 1912.  Prior to then there were newspaper reports of them being based in Ladywell Fields, hence the name from a different catchment.  The building on Eltham Road was requisitioned for World War 1 billeting but returned to its former use after the War.  It continued as this until after World War Two when it was converted into flats – it is now part of Ravens Way (perhaps a shortening of the club’s name) (3).

Its next door neighbour is the Bowring Group Sports Ground (below), although its days in recreational use are probably numbered as it seems to have been acquired for  a ‘Free’ School.

The northern banks of the Quaggy also used to have playing fields, the just post war Ordnance Survey map shows cricket grounds (on a Creative Commons from National Library of Scotland.) The outlines of the fields are still there and indeed the derelict remains of one the pavilions remains.  The formerly manicured grounds have been largely abandoned and now form part of the Weigall Road flood defence and storage, although the intention has always been dual use.

It isn’t meant to be an accessible area, but fences on Weigall Road and Blackheath Park are always porous enough for the runner of a smaller stature to enter without having to resort to contortions or scaling boundaries.  It the last long section of the river where the Quaggy has a bucolic feel – it probably hasn’t changed much since the fields by the river were used as the venue for the horse racing of the Lee Races in the first half of the 19th century.

The flood defences have a second fence to prevent the fluvial flâneur but in a period of low flow they proved to be of limited deterrent.  Apparently the Weigall Road storage will hold 65,000 m³ of water.

There is/was probably a small tributary joining around here.  There is very boggy ground just south of the derelict pavilion, more standing water in wetter seasons but still pooling in a very dry Spring.  There is an occasionally running stream which forms the boundary between the fields, in recent years I have only seen water there in the very wet winter of 2013/14.

On Facebook pages relating to upstream posts, there are fond memories of playing in and on the banks of the Quaggy in these parts – there still sometime cross river swings with a ducking for those with poor grips, although none have been noticed for a year or two.

Beyond the Weigall Road flood storage area, the Quaggy briefly disappears before being bridged by Meadowcourt Road and then flowing onwards towards Osborne Terrace.  The river is then bridged by Lee Road, there was only a footbridge until as late as the 1860s, as the 1863 published 25″ Ordnance Survey shows (on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland). The road bridge was certainly there by the time the cartographers returned in 1893.

 

This was an area of flooding – Hastead reported depths of 10′ (3 metres) in the 18th century and FW Hart reporting similar depths after the rapid thaw following the bitterly cold 1813/14 winter, there was flooding over a wide area including a lot of Lee Park.  Hart reported flooding being a regular occurrence in the early 19th century with a Bromley farmer drowning in 1830.

 

There is another Woolwich marker from 1903 by the bridge, only someone has chiselled out – the borough name, perhaps they were going to return and add Greenwich, but they never did.  Next to the bridge there is a pipe with water entering the Quaggy, with a Lewisham Natureman stag ‘grazing’ next to it, this is the diverted Mid Kid Brook.  On the opposite bank, there is a ghost sign for a ‘carver and gilder’ (more here), oddly hidden by the current cafe owners.  We’ll leave the river here for another day.

Notes

  1. Ken White (1999) The Quaggy & Its Tributaries p25
  2. ibid p25
  3. John Coulter (1997) Lewisham and Deptford in Old Photographs: A Third Selection

 

Imperial Picture Palace – A Lee Green Cinema

Running Past has already covered a couple of Lee and Hither Green cinemas – the Globe in Staplehurst Road and the Lee Picture Palace which was on the corner of Bankwell and Lee High Roads.  Both were short lived – part of the reason for this was almost certainly the more successful Imperial Picture Theatre (sometimes referred to as Palace) which was at 404 to 408 High Road, close to Lee Green. (Map surveyed in 1915 – on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland).

ippmap

It opened on 6 December 1913 (1), a week after The Globe (2) but a good three years after its nearest neighbour 400 metres down Lee High Road. The picture below is from its latter years and is on a Creative Commons, courtesy of Ken Roe.

imperial-pic-theatre-lhr

It was designed by H. Wakefield & Sons, and the Cinema Treasures website describes it as having had a ‘stone and brick facade, with columns and an elaborate pediment.’  As the map shows, it was quite a deep building which seated 750.  It tried to encourage the wealthy of Edwardian Lee to come by separating them from the masses – offering boxes at 5/- and 7/6d – with those with less disposable income being able to get in for thruppence (3).

ipp-dtThe opening afternoon was an invitation only event which saw a series of ‘shorts’ including the French film ‘The Duke’s Talisman’ (4) – described as ‘full of action and intensely exciting situations’ (picture via eBay November 2016).

The cinema seems to have changed hands early in its life and by its second winter it was offering special shows for children – with a Christmas morning show for 400 and a gift for each child supplied by Chiesmans department store (5).

broadway_melody_posterThe cinema had a small orchestra to accompany the silent films, with frequent adverts in the press for musicians – ‘relief’ pianists seemed particularly hard to come by (6).  By the end of the war it had seen off its local competitor, Lee Picture Palace, which had been requisitioned as a munitions factory and never re-opened.  It changed with the times too, both in terms of name – it was to become the Savoy under new management in 1928 (it had been known just as the Imperial since 1916 (7)) – but also in terms of the pictures it showed – sound equipment for ‘talkies’ was installed in 1929.  The first  talking picture was ‘The Broadway Melody’ (8) (Picture on a Creative Commons), the first sound film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.  Whether the owners showed the version with one of the first Technicolor sequences is not clear though.

imperial-pic-theatre-lhr-tarzan

The cinema survived World War Two unscathed and was sold again in the early 1950s (9) with the new owners changing it to its final name – The Pullman.   It only lasted another four years with the final closure on 27 June 1959 with a performance of “Tarzan and the Lost Safari”.

The building survived in a number other guises for another 27 years, initially as a motor spare-parts shop and then a shopfitters  – there is a photograph of it from this era, sadly without any usage rights.  It was demolished  before in October 1986 to make way for the Lee Green Sainsbury’s.

image

Notes

  1. Ken George (1986) ‘Two Sixpennies Please’ – Lewisham’s Early Cinemas p41
  2. ibid p40
  3. ibid p41
  4. ibid p41
  5. ibid p41
  6. one example – The Era 7 May 1919
  7. George op cit p81
  8. ibid p42
  9. The Stage 3 June 1954

William Morris – A Farmer from Lee Green Farm

It is easy to forget that Lee Green was once a village green – large enough for cricket matches – with a windmill and a village pub.  Unsurprisingly, there were farms too – over time, the blog will probably cover most of the former farms in the area. The starting point though will be a farm next to the green – the imaginatively named Lee Green Farm.

The location of the farmhouse was roughly where the decaying remains of the Leegate Centre are now located.  Its age is uncertain, oddly it wasn’t covered in Josephine Birchenough’s fascinating booklet ‘Some Lee Farms and Fields’. However, the information board at Lee Green suggest dates it around the mid to late 17th century, there were certainly buildings there in John Roque’s 1740s map (1).

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The land was owned by the Crown, probably as part of the extensive lands held through Eltham Palace, and the first on-line reference to the farm was a lease granted to William Morris in 1838 of both Lee Green Farm and the neighbouring Horn Park Farm.

Lee Green Farm (see picture below (2)) was 131 acres in size, according to tithe records, and was a mixture of arable and pasture but it was just a small part of the land that William Morris (sometimes spelled Morriss) farmed.  As early as 1815 he was leasing much of the current Cator Estate (3) and his 9th (ninth) child was born in Kidbrooke.   The land was largely rich pasture that he used for dairy cattle – important in terms of proximity to London, prior to the development of the railways.

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By the 1830s he had relinquished much of this Cator estate interest, Kidbrooke tithe records for 1850 had his interest at just 7 acres.   Some of this was to allow development – such as a field where 97-115 Lee Road now stands (4).

The 1838 lease of Lee Green Farm was presumably a continuation of a previous one, certainly he was farming in Lee in 1820 as there was a case as the Old Bailey involving the theft of two cows and an attempt to sell them to a farmer in Mile End – William Smith was found guilty and hanged. The timings of his move to Lee are confirmed with the birth of his 11th child there the same year.

What is clear though is that William Morris had interest in a lot of land around Lee Green other than the Farm, F W Hart noted that at this time he and ‘Farmer Giles’ from Burnt Ash Farm leased most of the land in the area.  Morris’ land included

William Morris(or Morriss, the spelling of the surname varies) was from Banstead, Surrey was the son of Samuel and Sophia Morriss, and was baptised on May 29 1780. By 1804 he had married Elizabeth Walker and they had their first child Sophia and they were living on Blackheath Hill – presumably close to the Green Man Hotel.  At that stage he was described as a ‘milkman’ or ‘cowkeeper’ – possibly having a small amount of land (as was the case with Clark’s of Summerfield Street).

MorrisGrave

Elizabeth died in 1829 and was buried in the old St Margaret Lee Churchyard (see middle vault above).  William Morris remarried in early 1832, Susannah gave birth to the first of six children for the new family at Horn Park and seem to have made that their home rather than Lee Green – their youngest child was baptised in Eltham, rather than St Margaret’s Lee.

The farm buildings moved slightly to the east in the 1840s to what was to become known as Tudor House (roughly where the Leybridge Court estate is now).  This was presumably under the stewardship of Morris, who also built a few speculative homes adjacent to it (6).

One of the frustrating elements of writing this and other posts about the history of the area is that written history tends to focus on the rich and influential in society.  Nothing is known about the farm labourers on Morris’ land, other than there were a number of tied cottages, whether Morris was a good employer, his rates of pay and so on.  The only references to the rural working classes in Lee tend to relate to crime, and as we have seen with the case of the theft of cattle in 1820 and its draconian punishment, and when there were calls on poor law relief – such as in the bitterly cold winter of 1814 – referred to in the post on Benjamin Aislabie.

There were some attempts to redress this by William Cobbett in the 1820s.  Cobbett was a late Georgian and early Victorian radical, the son of an agricultural labourer from Surrey, he opposed to the Corn Laws who undertook a series of ‘Rural Rides’ to look at the condition of farming in the 1820s.  In addition to the Corn Laws, his ‘rides’ were against a backdrop of the Enclosure Acts of the early part of the century, where the rich landowners took ownership of what hitherto had been common land.  While there seems to have been little common land in Lee, the Acts had a major impact elsewhere in Lewisham – particularly in Sydenham.

Cobbett visited farms, talked to farmers and labourers on his horseback rides; he did not visit Lee, so it is difficult to judge on conditions locally but he did note in terms of land close to Dartford “Here dwell vanity and poverty.”

It is certainly difficult to generalise based on Cobbett’s observations and whether there was this “poverty” in Lee is unclear but elsewhere in the south-east when describing farming poverty he noted that

The labourers seem miserably poor. Their dwellings are little better than pig-beds, and their looks indicate that their food is not nearly equal to that of a pig. Their wretched hovels are stuck upon little bits of ground on the road side, where the space has been wider than the road demanded.

We will return to William Morris in his final days at College Farm where he was to pass away in 1851, by then Lee Green Farm was being run by his son Richard, three of his sisters Eleanor, Rebecca and Mary were living there too – the farm was listed as 302 acres and employed 20. Richard was still at the farm in 1861 although the acreage was much reduced, just 114 acres were being farmed.  He moved to Days Lane Farm in Blackfen around 1868 (see comment below), he clearly had some interest in land in Lee after he left as he was on Electoral REgisters into the 1870s. Beyond 1861 there seem to be no mentions of the farm, through on-line sources at least, – maybe it became unviable as land was lost to development.

The original site of the farm was redeveloped in the 1860s as housing called Carston Mews, although the name lived on it Carston Close, just to the south.  Carston Mews itself was demolished to make way for Leegate shopping centre in the 1960s. The centre has been in decline since Sainsbury’s opened to the west of Burnt Ash Road, something compounded by an increasing amount of empty office space above the centre.  There are plans to redevelop the centre going through the planning process at the time of writing (January 2016).

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Notes

  1. Map from information board at Lee Green
  2. ibid
  3. Neil Rhind p34
  4. ibid p162
  5. Josephine Birchenough with John King (1981) Some Farms and Fields in Lee p28
  6. Rhind op cit p34

All the census and related data came via Find My Past 

I am indebted to Mike for providing most of the family information via a fascinating comment (see below, you may need to click on the title first if you can see another post below this one) – the post was substantially updated in June 2016 as a result of this.

 

Victorian Shooting at Lee Green

Charles Morton, the landlord of the Tiger’s Head always seemed to be on the look-out for sporting events, particularly those that involved gambling, that might bring in customers.  The blog has covered distance runningsprinting and hurdling and horse racing before.  So it is of no great surprise that live pigeon shooting, common in Victorian Britain, was tried out at the Tiger’s Head over the winters of 1843 and 1844.

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It was a sport that had a ‘not quite respectable’ reputation – there were sometimes reports of those operating the traps being bribed to pull out the tail feathers from an opponent’s bird to make it fly erratically and hence be much harder to shoot.

The picture below is of the sort of ‘trap’ that was probably used – this one is in the Ryedale Folk Museum – several would be lined up in a row.  They would have a lever connected to a rope at the side – once ready the shooter would shout ‘pull’, the rope was pulled and the pigeons escaped into a hail of shot.

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In February 1843, ‘The Era’ noted ‘A goodly muster of shooters attended at Morton’s, the Tiger’s Head, Lee Green, where several sweepstakes and matches were excellently contested’ (1).  The second reported shoot was the following year, although sadly for Moreton, poor weather seems to have restricted the turnout for the meeting during the second week in January 1844 (2).

Two weeks later another shooting match was advertised for up to 10 people with 10 shilling entrance fee, 7 pigeons each, for a silver cup prize (3).   In the end only 6 participated, including an appropriately named Mr Bang – the cup being won by a Mr Luffman (4).

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There were no reports in subsequent years of pigeon shooting at the Tiger’s Head, while the poor turnout amongst the competitors may have had a bearing on this, the changing neighbourhood with the area around Lee Green with new housing being developed on Lee Road and Lee Park was probably as significant a factor though. Horse racing, the Lee Races which the blog covered a while ago, met a similar fate during 1844 too.

Moreton though had troubles of his own which may have distracted him from his business – his father, also a publican working then in Blackfriars, had got into serious debt after an employee stole from him and he took his life in 1844.  The inquest was at the Tiger’s Head.

Notes

  1. The Era (London, England), Sunday, February 19, 1843; Issue 230.
  2. The Era (London, England), Sunday, 14 January, 1844; Issue 277.
  3. The Era (London, England), Sunday, 31 December, 1843; Issue 275
  4. The Era (London, England), Sunday, 21 January, 1844; Issue 278 (including press cutting)

Picture Notes

Photo of the (Old) Tiger’s Head in its original incarnation is from the information board by the Leegate Centre at Lee Green.