There is a postcard that appears from time to time on Lewisham Facebook reminiscence groups and for sale on eBay of a small house set back from the road with the label Burnt Ash Hill. In the former locations, it often causes consternation as there are no obvious current or even recent landmarks. The house was Wood Cottage and this post seeks to tell at least some of its story, and more particularly the nurseries that it was linked to.
The cottage probably dates from the 1870s and was broadly where the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes now stands (pictured below) – midway between Lee Station and what is now the South Circular of St Mildred’s Road and Westhorne Avenue.
The origin of the name is unclear, although the most likley scenario is after one of the Wood family who farmed the neighbouring Horn Park Farm who may have farmed the land for a brief period in the 1860s.
The firm running the nursery for much of its life was Maller and Sons. It was set up by Benjamin Maller, a gardener who hailed from Surrey (Sussex in some censuses). Born in 1823, he was living with wife Mary and daughter Mary at Belmont Lodge in 1851 – which was attached to Belmont a large house on what is now Belmont Hill, where he was the gardener.
In the 1861 census, Maller had moved just down the hill and was listed at 5 Granville Terrace, later it was to have the address 61 Lewisham High Street. It is now part of the Lewisham police station site, but before that, became part of the Chiesmans empire. Maller was listed as a ‘Nurseryman employing two boys’ in the census. Long and Lazy Lewisham which is covering the history of the High Street, notes that he had been there, trading initially with Robert Miller for around 5 years.
The partnership with Miller was short lived as was another with George Fry which ended in 1860. The next decade saw a rapid expansion, the 1871 census suggests he was employing 31 men and 6 boys.
By 1881 they were listed in the census as being in Leyland Road – the numbering isn’t totally clear as the road was being developed and the house is just described as ‘The Nursery.’ This is pictured above (back middle), it was later numbered 72 and puts it now at the corner of Leyland Road and Alanthus Close. The nursery shown on an 1890s Ordnance Survey map. below, along with several other areas cultivated.
This would have been land leased from the Crown, part of the former Lee Green Farm (pictured below) which ceased operating in the1860s. While the exact geography of the farm isn’t completely clear – it seems to have been a narrow farm covering land to the east of what is now Burnt Ash Road and Hill from Lee Green to around Winn Road. Just a few hundred metres wide, it shrank rapidly as homes and shops were developed by John Pound following the arrival of the railway in Lee in 1866. Land was also temporarily lost to clay pits and brickworks just south of Lee Station and north of The Crown.
In 1881 Maller was listed as a nursery man with 30 acres employing 4 men 8 boys. The family included grown-up children Mary, Benjamin and Herbert – in the 1881 census at ‘the Nursery, Leyland Road’.
There had been of significant reduction in labour since 1871 – 31 men to just 4 over 10 years. This probably relates to the land they cultivated being rapidly lost to Victorian suburbanisation as streets like Dorville, Osberton and Leyland Roads were developed.
Benjamin died in 1884 but the business continued as B Maller and Son afterwards, with Benjamin Boden Maller in charge – living variously at 107 and 111 Burnt Ash Road (there was access to the site from Burnt Ash Road too) and 72 Leyland Road. Benjamin Boden Maller died in 1913 although his son, also Benjamin, continued for a while. However, in the 1939 Register he was listed as a Civil Servant living in Reigate.
So what did they grow? In 1879 an advert in the Kentish Mecury suggested the land cultivated from Wood Cottage (Burnt Ash Hill site) was for roses. The site around Leyland Road (listed as Burnt Ash Lane) was used for trees and and shrubs as well as having greenhouse plants and other plants that needed warmth – stove plants. While they cultivated Brockely Nursery they had moved from there as the Billinghursts (see below) were there by 1880 (1),
It seems that before the end of the century there was a change in focus with a lot of plants being grown for seed – they were regualrly advertising their illustrated seed catalogue to the gardeners of south east London and beyond (2).
In the early 20th century, they would also have auctions of surplus stock in September each year. The 1910 sale included 20,000 winter blooming heaths, gorse, winter aconites, ferns and palms (3).
The land that is now part of Alanthus Close seems to have remained with the Mallers until around the mid 1920s. On Burnt Ash Hill they will have added the land of the former brickworks less the frontage onto Burnt Ash Hill and a development next to The Crown centring on Corona Road. This will have been an extension of the land cultivated from Wood Cottage.
It seems that the land was split three n the mid to late 1920s when the Mallers left. There were different names at 107 Burnt Ash Road (May Scotland), 111 Burnt Ash Road (George Friend Billinghurst) and Norris Buttle at Wood Cottage.
May Clark Scotland was appropriately Scottish, born in Perth, she was running a florists at 111 Lewisham High Street by 1911, the name over the door was Alexander Scotland.
George Billinghurst was born around 1871 and seems to have spent his early years in Eliot Place in Blackheath, his father Friend Billinghurst was also a gardener. There is no obvious link to the more well known Blackheath Billinghurst family, which included disabled suffragette (Rosa) May. They seem to have cultivated Brockley Nursery for a while (4), after the Mallers moved out, but family moved on to Croydon. By 1891 George was listed as a gardener, a decade later a florist and by 1911 a nurseryman living in Annerley Road.
Norris Buttle was living at 172 Ennersdale Road in 1901 and at 31 Leahurst Road in 1911 (these were probably the same house as the Ennersdale originally dog-legged around) – he was listed as a gardener then nursery gardener.
With all three of them, details beyond 1911 proved difficult to work out. Certainly none of them were at 72 Leyland Road – it was empty in 1939 as were 8 out of 10 the houses of that end side of the street going southwards. It was a different picture going northwards.
The land sandwiched between Leyland and Burnt Ash gradually was encroached upon with development at the southern end of Leyland Road although there were memories of roses being grown until the early 1960s when many Crown Estate leases ended.
And finally, while no longer cultivated, there is a small piece of undeveloped land where the nursery was – the green space to the south of Alanthus Close. On some satellite images of the area in drought conditions show rectangles, probably the ghosts of greenhouses past – a little less clear than the prefabs around Hilly Fields.
Kentish Mercury 16 August 1879
Kentish Mercury 09 February 1894
Kentish Mercury 02 September 1910
Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette 3 July 1880
Census and related data come from Find My Past (subscription required)
Over the years Running Past has looked at the impact of the Blitz and the V-1 and V-2 attacks at the end of World War Two, as well as looking at the preparations that were made ahead of war being declared. This post takes a slightly different tack, looking at one street and the impact that was felt there – Taunton Road, a street of mainly Victorian terraced houses running from Burnt Ash Road to Manor Lane.
In the main we’ll look at World War Two, but we’ll start with World War One; like virtually every other street there were young men who went to war from Lee but who never returned….
Frank Eugene Gamblin was just 19 when he died on 31 May 1918 in Northern France. He was the son of Thomas and Edith Gamblin of 50 Taunton Road (at the corner of Hedgley Street). He was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment. Frank had been working part time as a ‘Milk Boy’ aged 12 in 1911, still at school and living in Rhyme Road in Lewisham.
Just beyond the school, at 58 Taunton Road, lived William Jupp; he had been born in Lee, although the family have moved to Hove for a while but was in the street by the 1911 census. At that point he was still at school, but just over seven years later, on 24 August 1918, he died near Albert in Northern France, aged just 21, a rifleman in the London Regiment. His parents, Rachael and William, were still living in Taunton Road.
James Woodnott was a Private in the London Regiment who died at Aubers Ridge on 4 October 1918 in Northern France and was buried close by. Born in 1886 he was the oldest of the five who died. He had grown up in Dacre Street; by 1909 he had married Fanny, and in 1911 he was working as a carman living in Neuchatel Road in Catford. They were living at 83 Taunton Road, opposite the park entrance, as war broke out with two children, born in 1913 and 1914.
Another man with links to the street was Alfred Edward (Edwin) Braine. He had a couple of rooms at number 13 before he went to war. Born around 1881, he seems to have lived on the street for much of his life – growing up at 37. He was serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery when he died towards the end of on the war on 20 September 1918 and is buried or commemorated at the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. He may well have joined the Army at 18, someone of a similar name (the middle name is listed as Edwin) and age signed up in October 1899 in the same regiment.
Charles Frederick Broad had grown up in Taunton Road, born around 1896 his parents, Rose and Huntley, were living at 84 Taunton Road by 1901. He was still at school in 1911 but died less than six years later aged just 20 in Belgium on New Year’s Day 1917 where he was buried at Spoilbank Cemetery (pictured below). He was a Lance Corporal in the London Regiment. His parents were Huntley Charles Broad and Rose Matilda Broad still of 84 Taunton Road.
Two doors away at 80, was the mother of Ernest E Jackson; he was a Corporal in the Royal Fusiliers and died at Gallipoli on 13 August 1915, aged 22. He may have no direct contact to Lee other than through her – Mrs Florence Brosinovich, who had married Henry in 1893. Ernest was almost certainly born Brosinovich.
For reasons that will become clear, we will continue with the group of houses to the west of the park entrance where the Brosinovich and Broad households lived. Unlike the bigger houses in the streets to the south, that part of Taunton Road hadn’t changed that much between 1911 and the outbreak of World War Two, it was still predominantly single-family homes, mainly housing skilled working-class households, when the 1939 Register was collected.
Florence Brosinovich and some of her family were still at 80, they shared with another couple. 80 was the only shared house in the group, two households with 5 people and all but Florence worked.
The Broads were still at 84, Charles’ younger brother was working as a local government officer and his father in his 60s was working as a printer. Their neighbours at 86 were the Buttons where Robert worked as a lorry driver and got the ‘heavy work’ supplement which would have entitled him to larger rations. On the other side at 82 were three women sharing, including typist Doreen Tew, who would have turned 19 in the autumn of 1939.
Others in the group of houses to the west of the park included Amos and Elizbeth Howick at 70 who were in their 60s, he was a bricklayer and he too would have been entitled to the ‘Heavy Work’ supplement in the rations. The Wilsons at 74, included paper hanger Henry in his early 50s, his work wouldn’t have got the supplement.
A little further down the street was Hedgley Street School (now Trinity), which is pictured above; there is a separate post on this but just before the 1939 Register was collated most of the children would have been evacuated to Ashford in Kent. Although given it was another year until the start of the Blitz, many children will have drifted back to Taunton Road and neighbouring streets by the time bombing started.
As the children moved out, the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) service moved in. Their role has been explored in an earlier post but one of the but several of the Noble family from 49 Lampmead Road were to be based there. This included Phyllis (later Willmott) and her brother Joe who was injured when school bombed and seriously damaged with the front part largely destroyed in 1941 – the school never re-assembled.
Oddly the Nobles were to move to the house next door to the school (52) which had a yard (now part of the school playground) for Phyllis father’s building business – a trade that would have been kept very busy with repairing local bomb damage.
One of the earliest bombs to hit the street was on 25 September 1940 when an Anderson shelter in the garden of number 1, a small house on the opposite side to Sainsburys, took a direct hit – Charles (who worked at RAF Kidbrooke) and Claire Rivers both died, along with their 7-year-old daughter Sylvia – orphaning several other children. There were 11 there in October 1939, including five who were redacted presumably children who weren’t evacuated. One of the surviving children, Ruby, ended up in an orphanage but was discovered by a brother were returned to Lewisham on leave and reunited her with other family members.
The deaths at number one weren’t the first from the street during World War Two though. Sylvia Wickens from number 7 had volunteered to be an ARP Warden, she was based in Lewisham Town Centre and was one of 41 who died at Albion Way on 11 September 1940, when a public shelter took a direct hit.
Returning to the Taunton Road, the most damaging raid was just before Christmas in 1940, when the section of the street that we covered above in relation to the 1939 Register was hit by a High Explosive bomb on 15 December. 82 probably took a direct hit as there was most damage there, but several other houses were destroyed beyond repair and replaced after the war with council homes.
At 82 there were two deaths – one was the 23-year-old Monica Tew, who was listed as the daughter of H Tew. It may be remembered that Monica’s sister, Doreen was living there in 1939, the Tews may be have been displaced by earlier raids elsewhere.
82 was a shared house by 1940, also there were the Setons whose 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth also perished. She had probably been originally been evacuated (see above) but had later returned to Lewisham.
Assuming that Florence Brosinovich had remained at 80 in the year since the 1939 Register was collected, she would have been made homeless – it seems that she moved to somewhere in the Reigate, Godstone, Dorking and Epsom area of Surrey where she died before the war was out in 1943.
At the end of the War, on VE Day there were celebrations of the end of the war, no doubt they were tempered by the deaths and injuries to friends and neighbours. There was certainly a party on Taunton Road, possibly two. The photograph above is taken from around the park entrance looking back towards Wantage Road – there is a concrete air raid shelter in the background. The one below is in the section close to Burnt Ash Road that was redeveloped 20 years or so later.
Thank you to David Carter for the information about his family who were orphaned in September 1940 link here
The photographs of VE parties are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with permission but remain their copyright
The photograph of Hedgely Street School is from a booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p15 – it remains their copyright and was accessed via Lewisham Archives and was used with the permission of both
The census and related data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)
In the previous post on this parade we looked at the origins of Eastbourne and Orchard Terraces, which were to become 2-34 Eltham Road, seeing the change from rural Lee Green from Lee Green Farm to a shopping parade for what was then suburban London. We left the parade in 1905 and will return return to those shops, but first we will turn our attention to the dominant name on this south east quadrant of Lee Green – Reeds. It was so dominant that this part of Lee Green was referred to as ‘Reed’s Corner.’
The ‘Reed’ initially referred to C H Reed & Co and the C H Reed was Charles Henry Reed who moved Lee Green in 1866. Their ‘empire’ came to dominate the Eltham Road shops (and some of those around the corner in Burnt Ash Road) often taking over empty shops when they became vacant.
Charles had been born in 1839 in North Cornwall, his wife Maria (probably nee Nichols), also came from Cornwall. Their starting point on the parade seems to have been 20 & 22 Eltham Road, then 2 and 3 Eastbourne Terrace, certainly that was the case in the 1871 census.
Charles was noted as having 10 Assistants and 6 Apprentices in 1871, as was to be the pattern for decades to come most of these lived on site, along with a cook and a housemaid.
A decade later the business had expanded into what is now 18 Eltham Road as the Galloways moved further along the parade and eastwards, Charles had taken over 24 and 26 – a total of 5 shop fronts. While listed as a drapers, it was making and selling furniture and some clothes too. The extended business required a lot more staff and the upper floors of the parade were effectively turned into a hostel – while most of the trades of those listed in the census were drapery related – there were two cabinet makers, two dressmakers, a mantle maker and a furniture sales apprentice, along with several dealing with deliveries. Most were under 30 and the majority men.
No longer there in 1881 though was Charles’ wife, Maria, she was living in Forest Hill with Charles William, born in 1873, sometimes referred to as William, along with a daughter Maria (seemingly later referred to as Beatrice, 1875) and Ernest (1881). Whether they were separated or not it wasn’t clear.
Reeds were regualr advertisers in the local press and as the cutting below from 1887 expanded into supplying carpets and other floor coverings for the wealthy folks in the large houses of Lee.
By 1891 the empire had taken on its sixth shop, when Jemima Dadley moved on from 16 Eltham Road. The shop was opened as an ironmonger’s, a business type that had been absent for 20 years on the parade (and round the corner in Burnt Ash Road). Charles was still listed as living at Eltham Road. The drapery and associated trades hostel over the shop had expanded – there were now 56 people living above the shops. The postcard below is probably from around this era, with Reeds on the far left.
The business extended into Burnt Ash Road by the mid-1890s, moving the furnishing part of the business there. Charles died in 1895 although this son Charles William continued to run the shops for another decade until selling up to Griffiths and Co around 1905 (their name is on the postcard below).
While it may have initially been ‘round the corner’ at some stage around this point there had been a ‘knocking through’ from Eltham Road into Burnt Ash Road – whilst the 1893 surveyed map below, shows them as separate, this was not the case by 1914 (second map) or indeed after World War Two (final map).
The Griffith was John Griffith, born in Aberdaron around 1859 in the far north west tip of Wales. He was married to Rosina and seemed to have arrived via Reigate where their daughter was born in 1902. They continued the Reed approach to housing staff over the shops – in 1911 there were 27 with 6 live-in servants.
The number of shop fronts that Griffith & Co used declined though with 32 reverting to other trades from 1911.
They also seem to have moved out of 18-26 as there is an interesting photograph of the shop from World War 1 with the shutters down, the Griffith name still there, and soldiers billeted in the rooms above the shops. Presumably, the army had requisitioned what was probably an empty building, in the same way as they had for the Ravensbourne Athletic clubhouse (now part of Ravens Way) a few hundred metres further up Eltham Road. Griffith & Co seemed to have focussed the business on the shops on the other side of Carston Mews (the bit that refers to Thomas Tilling at the right of the photograph).
By 1916 though the Reed name was back as Charles’ son William Reed was running the business. Like John Griffith, he was only using 14-16 Eltham Road off the right of the photo (along with the Burnt Ash Road shop fronts). 18 – 26 to the east of Carsten Mews were empty until at least 1920. The building seems to have been converted back into individual shops to be let as single businesses – this is clear from the Ordnance Survey maps above for 1914 and 1948.
There was another name change around 1925. William died in 1924 and the shop was then known as Reeds (Lee).
The new Reed was William’s brother Ernest, who in the 1939 Register, was living just around the corner in Leyland Road. By this time there had been an expansion into 12, next to an existing shop. They may well also have extended the showrooms for the shop upwards as unlike most of the rest of the parade there was no private renting above the shops.
The Reed name was there until the bulldozers moved in – still listed in the 1965 Kelly’s Directory. Ernest died in 1966 in Lewisham. The family name had been there for almost all of the 100 years that the parade was there.
In the next post we’ll return to the rest of the shops in the parade to see how they fared after 1905 until the end of the parade in the 1960s.
Notes & Credits
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using census data from 1871 and Kelly’s Directories, generally looking at every 5th year from the early 1880s
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark and Lewisham Archives
The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
The Ordnance Survey maps are on a non Commerical Licence from the National Library of Scotland (1897, 1914 and 1948)
The press cutting is from the Woolwich Gazette 4 March 1887
Running Past has covered several shopping parades over the years – they form an interesting cross section of life, including changing shopping patterns, migration into south east London, changing shop types. In late 2020 we looked at one of the parades that had been demolished to make way for the Leegate Centre – Crown Terrace that become 1 to 19 Burnt Ash Road. We move just around the corner to Eltham Road to look at what were originally called Orchard and Eastbourne Terraces.
When the first Ordnance Survey map was surveyed in1863 it still it still showed Lee Green Farm (pictured below), its days were numbered though – its last farmer, Richard Morris(s) was about to move on to Blackfen. His father, William, had leased land from the Crown Estate for several decades, before moving on to College Farm at the highest point on Burnt Ash Hill where he died in 1851.
The farmland was owned by the Crown – originally part of the extended estates of Eltham Palace. It was developed by a significant name in the growth of Lee, John Pound. Unlike Crown Terrace around the corner, the buildings seem to have been developed as shops – there were retail businesses there from around 1867.
The shop buildings were bigger than most of the parades that we have covered before around Lee and in the early days, at least, allowed several of the shopkeepers to have live-in staff. For the employer it meant that staff were on site and also encouraged obedience and loyalty to them. For the employee, it meant that their home was tied to the job and falling foul of the employer meant not only loss of job but loss of home too. We saw this with servant of the Lester family from Lee New Town – Charlotte Lester – who ended up in the workhouse, presumably after losing her job as a servant.
Like most of the local shopping parades, the numbering changed over time – Orchard Terrace was at the Lee Green end – its numbering was 1-8, the latter at Lee Green – it became 2 to 16 Eltham Road. At the other end was 1-9 Eastbourne Terrace, its numbering went the opposite way, it became 18 to 34. We’ll refer to them by their Eltham Road numbering to avoid confusion.
In between the two was Carston Mews, which we won’t cover, although was home for a while to one of the many local stables of Thomas Tilling’s buses.
We’ll cover the parade in three parts – this one covers the period up to around 1905 and third part follows the period until the end of the parade in the 1960s. The second part will cover the name that dominated the parade, the drapers, Reeds, which used several different shop fronts over the years.
2 & 4 Eltham Road
For the first 40 years of the shop’s life it was a grocer and for the first 30 years of that, the name over the window was Henry Frederick Cockle. He was born around 1823 in Deptford. He seems to have moved to Eltham Road as the shops opened or soon after; he was certainly there in 1871 with his wife Eady/Edith. There were two assistants living over the shop with them at No 2 when the census enumerators called – Henry was listed was an ‘Oilman and Grocer.’
He initially only ran the business from No 2 as in 1871 Mary Collins ran a ‘Fancy Repository’; she’d gone by 1881, probably several years before, as 2 & 4 was then being run as one. While the name was still Henry Cockle, he had moved out to a large house at 14 Wickham Road in Brockley. It seems that he had expanded the range of goods sold as in the census he was listed as a wine merchant. There were three sons and two servants there , along with him and Eady. Back to Eltham Road, living over the shop, was the shop manager – George Hinch (27) from Lincolnshire plus six others who worked in the shop ranging in ages of 16 to 53, plus a 15-year-old servant Emily Fox from Deptford.
By 1891 the business name was the same, but the Cockles were in a house built by W J Scudamore in Southbrook Road. The trend of retail staff living over the ‘commodious’ premises continued with – 6 grocers assistants there – all male, all under 30 plus a housekeeper.
There were different names over the window by 1900 – Webb and Ellen – a small chain of grocers with around 15 branches around Greenwich, Woolwich and Lewisham that year. In 1901 George Pedley was the store manager, living over the shop with his wife, a young child and 6 live-in staff, including several who made deliveries to the residents. While the nature of the ordering and the delivery transport may have been different – much grocery shopping has reverted to this model in the 21st century.
6 Eltham Road
No 6 was initially an ironmonger run by Middlesex man John Aldous; in the 1871 census along with his wife Mary; they had probably been on the parade since it was first let, one of their six children had been born in Lee in 1865. Oddly, there was a seemingly unrelated John Aldous, also an ironmonger, also with a wife called Mary, a little further down Lee High Road.
By 1881, probably a few years before, a business type was to take over that would remain in the shop until it was knocked down in the 1960s – a baker and confectioner. The name listed in Kelly’s Directories for years was James Galloway although he was almost certainly William James Galloway who had been plying the same trade at number 18 a decade earlier (we won’t cover him separately there as it was a shop that quickly became part of the Reed empire).
Galloway would have been 57 in 1881 and was born in Marylebone, probably arriving on the parade around 1868. It isn’t clear where the Galloways lived in 1881, but managing the business for them was Hannah Hayman who lived over the shop with two assistants in both 1881 and 1891, the name over the window remained the same despite William’s death in 1889.
Hannah had gone by 1901 and it was one of James’s sons, Archibald, who was baking, along with 3 assistants. By 1905 Frank Sanders name was listed in Kelly’s Directory.
8 Eltham Road
John Cole was probably the first occupant of the shop, born around 1831 in Rochester, he ran a draper’s shop with his wife Jane, who hailed form Stowmarket in Suffolk. Also living over the shop in 1871 were 7 staff, mainly in their teens and early 20s – a mixture of shop assistants and apprentices. Jane’s sister Sarah also lived there and was employed as a housekeeper.
By 1881, John Cole still owned the shop but seemed to be living over the road above another shop – then referred to as St Peters Court, named after the local church. In St Peters Court were John and Jane plus 5 children plus a saleswoman in the shop, a mantle maker, a milliner plus an apprentice plus three servants. The business seemed to be doing well. Back over at No 8 were three Drapers’ Assistants and a dressmaker.
The Coles had gone from by the late 1880s from both sides of the road. By this stage the name over the door was ‘Howes Bros.’, run by Norfolk man Albert Howes. In the 1891 census, there was no evidence of the ‘Bros’ (although it was 100 years too early to ask ‘When Will I Be Famous?’). There with him were two female assistants in their 20s along with a housekeeper.
The business was taken over by Tanner and Hook in the early 1890s, they had one other shop at 287 Brockley Road. The ‘Tanner’ was Arthur Tanner who in 1901 who was from Banbury in Oxfordshire, it was a family business with two sisters running the business with him in 1901. Who the Hook was isn’t clear, s/he certainly wasn’t running the shop in Brockley.
10 Eltham Road
The first business at number 10 was Thomas Green, a Cheesemonger. Born around 1839 in Hackney, he and his wife Priscilla from Stoke Newington had arrived via Sydenham where their 3 children had been born. There were no servants or assistants living above the shop with them in 1871. A decade later little had changed, the census noted that he employed two men and a boy, the boy was probably his son Edward (17).
By 1891 Thomas Green was still selling cheese, no doubt ably assisted by daughters Mabel and Ada who worked in the shop. By 1894 they were gone, and a different business was there – fruiterer and greengrocer, Walter William Wood.
The food miles of much of the produce sold would have been very small indeed. The Woods had been running Horn Park Farm, at what is now the junction of Alnwick and Horncastle Roads, since the 1880s on land owned by the Crown Estate. Under their stewardship, Horn Park Farm became a largely market gardening operation – growing tomatoes, mushrooms and cucumbers as well as a lot of flowers. The shop was run by Walter’s cousin Arthur Russell in 1901 who lived with the family at Horn Park Farm. Around 120 years later, the would have been towards the right of the photograph.
12 Eltham Road
For much of its life, and all of this section of the post, 12 was a stationer’s. In the 1871 census William Martin (46) from Brighton was meeting the writing and reading needs of Lee. He was there with Jane (38) from Eastbourne. Their journey to Lee Green was a circuitous one via Rochester, a daughter of 14 was born there, and Blackheath. He had been the other side of Lee Green in Osborn Place, off Lee Road, trading as a librarian and music seller in 1861. A couple of servants and an assistant in the shop were also there in 1871. William seems to be unrelated to the Martin Martin who was also a stationer and ran the post office around the corner in Burnt Ash Road.
By 1879, possibly a little earlier, the Martins were plying their trade elsewhere and Ebenezer Wilmshurst’s name was over the window of number 12. Ebenezer was born around 1849 in Cranbrook in Kent, he was married to Ellen from Greenwich and had previously lived in Blackheath and Lee since 1879 where a daughter was born. With them were two stationer’s assistants, a domestic help and a ‘mother’s help’ who was just 13 – a cousin of Ebenezer. A decade earlier he was an Assistant Stationer in a shop in Osborn Place (not Willian Martin’s though).
The Wilmshursts were to stay until the late 1890s, although were living in Blackheath rather than over the shop in 1891. The new owner was Alfred Wilson, like his predecessor he lived elsewhere, a couple of hundred metres away at 1 Cambridge Road (now Drive) in 1901. There was the beginning of something different happening above the shop though – it seems to have been the first letting to people not associated with the businesses below. Above the shop was the household of Henry Russell who worked as an ‘Explosives Operator’, presumably plying his trade at Woolwich Arsenal rather than above the shop!
Wilson was still running the business there in the 1905 Kelly’s Directory.
14 Eltham Road
This started life as a butcher run by John Page, he was from Suffolk and in 1871 was 28 and running the shop with his mother, widowed sister-in-law, plus two butchers assistants. Page had moved on by 1881, probably by 1877. The name Randall was over the window, but it is listed as Albert Frank in Kelly’s Directory and Alfred Frederick in the 1881 Census. The latter was from Sussex, and was there with Devonian wife Annie, several children, two servants but no shop staff.
A F Randall had departed by 1888 as Walter William Cook was supplying meat to the neighbourhood, or at least some of it. A decade before he’d been working in his mother’s butcher’s business 50 metres away on the Lee High Road side of Lee Green – it was more or less next door to the Police Station, an early version on the same site as the early 20th century one. That business was still operating at this stage, so whether there had been some family feud or whether it was an expansion isn’t clear. Oddly he and his family were listed in the census as living both other the shop and at 13 Brandram Road in 1891.
Whatever happened, it wasn’t a business that lasted long – the shop had become part of Charles Reed’s expanding empire by 1896.
16 Eltham Road
George Dadley a cabinet maker from Northamptonshire who had been in Eltham Road since around 1868, possibly a little earlier. In the 1871 census he was listed as employing 4 men and 2 boys, none of whom lived over the shop. With him was his wife Jemima from Lincolnshire and two children under 3, both born in Lee along with a teenage servant from Devon. George died in in 1873, but Jemima continued running the business as an upholsterer – the 1881 census listed two children George (17) and Herbert (11) who were working as upholsterers – the latter was probably an error in recording rather than child labour going on at Lee Green.
The Reeds had taken over the shop by 1891, probably earlier, but Jemima stayed in the area, working from 43 Taunton Road until at least 1901, probably later. She had retired by 1911 seems to have lived out the rest of her life in Boone’s Almshouses on Lee High Road (pictured below), until her death in 1922, aged around 85.
24 Eltham Road
John Michael Sears was a stationer and ‘fancy goods’ seller who plied his trade there in the late 1860s and early part of the 1870s. He had competition in the former trade from William Martin at no 12. The shadow of his next-door neighbour, C H Reed, was visible in his trade adverts before Christmas 1869. The shop succumbed to the Reeds in the 1870s.
26 Eltham Road
26 was another short-lived business, in 1871 it was home to William Wheeler (29) a watchmaker from Thame in Oxfordshire, he had a young daughter who had been born in Lee. He was gone before the census enumerators arrived again, with the shop becoming another part of CH Reed’s burgeoning draper’s business, probably before the decade was out.
28 Eltham Road
Charles Henry Lenn may well have been the first trader at 28 but was certainly there by 1870 selling china and glass ware to the locals of Lee. He was from Okehampton in Devon, he and Stepney born wife Caroline had moved around London a lot over the previous 2 decades. What retail experience he had before arriving at Lee Green isn’t clear, he’d been a carpenter and builder a decade before.
It was a name that was to last at least 40 years on the parade though. Caroline died in 1893 and Charles 5 years later, both were buried at what is now Hither Green Cemetery. The business carried on in Charles’ name run by daughters Susannah, Emma and Caroline . The shop was to the left of the photograph below.
30 Eltham Road
The first occupant of 30 Eltham Road seems to have been hairdresser, George Lambley from Bristol; he’d gone by the time census enumerators called in 1881 though as Lincolnshire born, Robert Johnson was trading as a shoe and bootmaker. Johnson and his wife Ellen from Gosport were to remain there until around 1895, in the middle of their time at 30, the name Stubbs & Co was over the window, but the Johnsons were always living there. Robert seems to have turned his hand to sales after leaving – he was living in Hither Green in 1901 and listed as a ‘boot traveller.’
Frederick Miller took over boot and shoe making duties on the parade, but was living in Clarendon Road (now Rise) in 1901. Miller was to stay until around the outbreak of World War 1.
32 Eltham Road
While empty in 1871, by 1881 32 was home to a trade no longer seen on shopping parades – a brush maker. Brixton born George James White was the man behind the brooms. Along with his wife, Margaret there were four children, the eldest who worked in the shop. They were there in the 1891 census but moved on by 1894 as the Reed empire closed in. The Whites presumably plied their trade elsewhere and presumably successfully, in 1901 George was still making brushes but living in Micheldever Road. He died a few years later though. The shop, pictured a few years later, is towards the left of the photograph below.
34 Eltham Road
This was a corner plot that seems to have been let with a market garden – this covered what elsewhere would be described as the ‘Piazza’ of the current Leegate Centre at the corner of Leyland Road (pictured below). The first occupant was James Walton who in the 1871 census was described a nurseryman who came from Jersey with his wife Jenny. They had been in Lee since at least 1863, when their daughter Annie was born – this was before the parade was built. Annie died in the 1880s and it was just James and daughter Annie there in 1891.
James married Harriet and in 1901 was still living above the shop at 34 with four children, the eldest were children from Harriet’s previous relationship. There were also two of their own, along with a shop assistant and a servant. By this stage Kelly’s Directory had a suffix of FRHS after the name – James was now a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. They were to stay on there until at least 1905.
We will pick up the story of most of these shops in a couple of posts time; the next one though will look at the drapery empire of Charles Henry Reed which dominated the parade.
Picture & Other Credits
The press cutting is from the Woolwich Gazette 11 December 1869
The picture of Lee Green Farm is from the infomration board at Lee Green
The three pictures of the parade, along with that of the almshouses are from the collection of Lewisham Archives – they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
Kelly’s Directory data comes from both Lewisham and Southwark Archives
Census and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required)
There were serious floods in Lewisham in September 1968 which Running Past covered on their 50th anniversary. Previous floodings of the Ravensbourne, Quaggy and Pool were mentioned in passing at that stage, including a reference to some very serious ones 90 years earlier in 1878. It is to these that we now turn our attention. In syndicated press reports it was reported that in Lewisham the ‘whole of the village (was) 3 or 4 feet deep in water’ (1).
The 19th century had seen several inundations of Lee and Lewisham – Victorian historian FH Hart noted very serious floods in 1814 as the ice melted following one of the last big freezes of the Little Ice Age – the last time there was a frost fair on the Thames. There had also been really bad ones in 1853 and another flooding following a period of heavy rain on Christmas Eve 1876 – but the 1878 ones were described as being ‘the worst in living memory’ (2).
The spring of 1878 seems to have been a very dry warm one with surfaces left hardened. From the early hours of Thursday 11 April 1868, 3¼ inches (83 mm) of rain fell in 12 hours while this was the highest for 64 years, it was substantially less that the rainfall that led to the 1968 floods.
Unlike the floods 90 years later in 1968, where the devastation was similar in the three catchments of the Ravensbourne, Pool and Quaggy; in 1878 it was mainly in the Quaggy and the Ravensbourne below the confluence with the Quaggy near Plough Bridge – named after the pub of the same name (pictured just before its demolition around 2007).
This is not to say the other parts of the catchment escaped – there was flooding higher up the Ravensbourne with Shortlands impassable; the local landowners at Southend, the Forster’s, home was flooded and the nearby bridge on Beckenham Lane (now Hill Road) was washed away – the bridge that replaced is pictured in the background of the postcard below. The cricket pitches by Catford stations were flooded up to sills of pavilion windows. Similarly, Bell Green was impassable on the River Pool (5).
The local press though focussed on the Quaggy and lower Ravensbourne – we’ll follow the trail of destruction and damage downstream from Lee Green.
At Lee Green the basement of the shops at what was then called Eastbourne Terrace on Eltham Road (to the left of the photo, a couple of decades later) were completely flooded out with seemingly some flooding at ground level too.
Further downstream where the Quaggy is bridged by Manor Lane, the road was impassable. The area was in a period of transition from its rural past to suburbia, having been opened up by the railways through (but not stopping at) Hither Green, Lee and Blackheath. There were still some larger houses from the exclusive village past – all situated in the higher ground around Old Road and on the hill between Lee High Road and Belmont Hill. The lower lying fields were under water as was any housing built on the flood plain. The same continued downstream through what is now Manor Park – the course of the Quaggy was a little different at that stage though.
The houses that had been completed on what is now Leahurst Road (then a dog leg of Ennersdale Road) which backed onto the Quaggy were badly flooded. As a result of the 1876 floods, the local Board of Works had built a large concrete wall, an early use of the material, to try to reduce the impact of future floods. It was described as ‘perfectly useless’ as water bypassed it and inundated the houses in Eastdown Park. The wall is still there – extended upwards a little after the 1878 floods.
There was a small dairy on Weardale Road, probably next door to the Rose of Lee. Unsurprisingly it became flooded and the cowherd turned out the 30 cows who were found wandering in the water on Manor Park. The were taken to the higher ground of Lee Manor Farm. Elsewhere in Lee, pigs were drowned.
Beyond the Rose of Lee the relatively newly built Eastdown Park bridge ‘blown up by the force of the water.’ The bridge between Weardale Road and Eastdown Park also seems to have been destroyed.
The food waters became deeper as they went down Lee High Road, up to 1.2 metres (4’) deep in the houses of Elm Place, just before Clarendon Rise (then Road). The Sultan on the other side Clarendon Rise was badly flooded too – the third time that this had happened in a decade as the publican, Robert Janes, explained in the press. The pub is pictured below from the next century.
Beyond the Sultan, flood waters flowed both over and under the road – at one point it was expected that the culvert from the bottom of Belmont Hill to St Stephens church might be destroyed but in the end it was just the road surface that was wrecked – this is the high pavement that now stands in front of the police station.
The roadway in front of St Stephens several feet underwater – with the Roebuck, Plough and other pubs such as the Albion all flooded. Boats used to ferry people through Lewisham. There was a real bottle neck around Plough Bridge, the ‘utter insufficiency’ of the narrow Plough Bridge to carry off ordinary storm water was regarded as one of the causes too. The whole area around Lewisham Bridge (pictured below from a few decades later) badly flooded, particularly Molesworth and Rennell Streets and unsurprisingly Esplanade Cottages in the middle of the Ravensbourne, along with the pub the Maid in Mill and rest of Mill Lane.
An iron girder bridge at Stonebridge Villas was washed down along with a wall by the railway, built to try to reduce flooding a year before was washed away – hundreds of houses on the lower lying parts of what became the Orchard estate to the east of the Ravensbourne were inundated. It was the same with the market gardens on the western side, along with large swathes of Deptford. Virtually all the area around the Ravensbourne on the map below from 15 years later was left underwater.
In addition to the high rainfall there was a clear underlying cause which was summed up well by a local man, Frederick Barff, who had grown up in Lee when it was still rural but was living in Eastdown Park in 1871 and if still there in 1878 would have been flooded out. He observed that prior to the development of Lee from the mid-1850s while there had been flooding, it initially stood in large areas of fields which absorbed the runoff without major consequences. The growth of Victorian suburbia had led to increased run off and more water ending up in rivers and stream and at a quicker pace (6).
In the immediate aftermath a temporary wooden bridge over the Quaggy between Weardale Road and Eastdown Park was approved the following day by the Metropolitan Board of Works (7).
There was a public meeting at the Plough on the Friday (next day) to ‘consider the best means of alleviating the distress amongst the poor of Lewisham, Lee, Blackheath and Catford. Crowded by the clergymen, parish officials and leading tradesmen of the district.’ In days before the state intervened in disasters like this it was left to charity to provide ‘coal and relief to those poor people in the district’ whose homes had been flooded. Over £200 was collected or promised for the Lewisham and Lee Inundation Relief Fund – with £120 going to the parishes of St Mark and St Stephen in central Lewisham that had been worst affected; £50 for Ladywell; with £50 for Lee and Blackheath.
So, what happened afterwards? The approach that was used was one that continued towards the end of the 20th century and the 1968 floods – straightening and deepening rivers to try to move water on more rapidly. This happened on the Quaggy behind what is now Brightfield Road – as the maps from 1863 and 1893 show. The Quaggy was also moved and straightened between Manor Park and Longhurst Roads – this happened a little later once the land was developed for housing.
Several bridges were replaced – the partially destroyed Eastdown Park bridge was rebuilt and replaced with a girder one (see below from the river), the river level is lower there now too, although whether this happened post 1878 or 1968 isn’t immediately clear (8).
Plough Bridge was replaced in 1881 by the Metropolitan Board of Works (9) having been preceded by ‘general dredging and clearing the channels of the river’ (10). Later a new sewer between Lee Bridge and Deptford Creek was constructed to try to take some pressure off the rivers from run off (11).
Another bridge replaced by the Board of Works was the one on Lee Road. Previously this had been a ford and footbridge, but a large single span bridge replaced it following the floods, presumably with a lowering of the river bed (12).
The underlying problems remained though, making flows quicker may alleviate problems in one location but without storage and a whole catchment solution, including the ability to control flows on the Thames it wasn’t much better than a sticker plaster. The fields that had acted as sponges continued to be developed and increased run off. In reality, not much had changed by the 1968 floods and it took the development of flood storage in Sutcliffe Park (pictured below) in the early 2000s to really make much difference. Without it Lewisham would regularly flood – it is pictured from late 2020.
Most of the information for this post comes from the Kentish Mercury of 27 April 1878 which covered the flooding and its aftermath in depth. Readers can assume that contemporary information comes from there unless otherwise referenced.
Leybridge Court is an attractive social housing estate centring around three 11-storey blocks a few metres away from the boundary of Lewisham with Greenwich. The site has an interesting history that this post will explore.
The land was once part of the estate of Eltham Palace which we have covered in relation to the farms that cultivated the area – Horn Park and Lee Green Farms, the former lasted up until the 1930s. The farmhouse of the latter, unsurprisingly, was at Lee Green in the south eastern quadrant where the Leegate Centre is currently situated and is pictured below.
The farmhouse moved to the current site of Leybridge Court in the 1840s, with the then farmer William Morris(s) purchasing land from the Crown presumably on a 99-year lease. He built a very large new home called Tudor House and seems to have also built some speculative housing on the same site – either side of the current Cambridge Drive (1).
Little changed until the mid-1860s – the Ordnance Survey map of 1867, shows the houses that Morris built but nothing else around the Lee Green toll house. The feel though would have still been rural. The change in the next four or five years was dramatic with new housing laid out along Eltham Road, almost up to what is now Sutcliffe Park. As the local MP remarked in 1871, ‘in a short period a town has sprung up in the neighbourhood.’ (2)
As we saw in a post on St Peter’s, the church that in various forms has served the area, around 160 large houses were built along Eltham Road, Cambridge Road (now Drive), on what is now Courtlands Avenue along with Weigall, Osberton and Leyland Roads. The houses were small compared with Tudor House, while no photographs seem to survive of Tudor House, a picture of the neighbouring Rothsay, a few doors closer to Leyland Road, does.
By 1871 Tudor House and those to the east had been built for well over 20 years, to the east they had been joined by others following the demise of Lee Green Farm in the 1860s. All were covered in the census and all were single family dwellings generally with several servants – Tudor House was home to shipowner Joseph Pegg, some adult children and a modest two servants. One of the houses was used as the vicarage for St Peter’s, the Vicar was Leonard McDonald James, the others included in ship broker, a silk broker, a ship builder.
By 1911 not that much had changed, the houses were still inhabited by wealthy single households with servants – the Tudor House was home to a Swiss engineer with a couple of servants. Fairfield, next door was home three generations of Watkins who had three live-in servants including a Between Maid. It was the family’s 4th census there – the wealth having come from ship ownership. Others in the group of houses included company director and a doctor.
Much had changed by the time World War Two broke out, while most of the houses still seemed to be occupied in the 1939 Register, virtually all were subdivided into flats (often with some parts of the house empty). The inhabitants were a mixture of manual, clerical and shops workers and the retired, often there were lodgers too. The exception was Tudor House where there were three people rattling around in it – a retired couple, an engineer and millinery buyer, along with a lodger.
The Bomb Sight website, notes that Tudor House was hit during the Blitz, although there is no obvious record of it in the local APR Log. By the time the area was visited by surveyors putting together the LCC Bomb Damage maps the site had been cleared and no significant bomb damage was noted (3). Similarly, when Ordnance Survey visited in 1948, cartographers though noted a gap with some earthworks where the Tudor House once stood. was though.
The estate centres around a trio of 11 storey blocks, each with 44 flats. At the rear of the estate are much smaller, low rise, maisonette blocks.
The blocks were seemingly quite popular, based on one Facebook thread at least. Unlike most tower blocks they weren’t given names, just referred to by the numbers within them. However, they did tend to be known by a distinguishing feature – the colour of the doors and railings on the balconies – green (nearest to Lee Green), blue (close to Cambridge Drive) and red at the back of the estate.
In 2000 the then Labour Government set the Decent Homes Standard which sought to ensure that public sector homes were in a reasonable state of repair, had effective heating systems and ‘reasonably modern’ facilities and services – in the main this related to kitchens and bathrooms. There wasn’t sufficient money for local authorities to do this work all themselves. So, in some locations, councils looked to transfer stock to other organisations who weren’t subject to the same borrowing restrictions as they were. In Lewisham, this led to large areas of stock being transferred to housing associations – Phoenix was set up to improve and manage the homes in Downham and Bellingham. With Leybridge Court and the Newstead Estate (often referred to as the Redbrick Estate), Lewisham with input from residents, undertook a competitive process and in the end selected Broomleigh (now known as Clarion) to refurbish and manage the estates.
Work was underway to the outside of the estate when the Google Streetview car passed by in 2012, the internal works were probably completed earlier. The exteriors look much more modern and have changed from brick to what looks like a white render – they have become a landmark, clear from many of the higher points of south east London. One thing remains though the colour of the entrances is still red, green and blue – something, no doubt, that residents will have insisted upon.
Today, the estate, from the outside at least, seems well maintained and cared for – how social housing should be.
If you live(d) or work(ed) at Leybridge Court estate, tell us your memories of your time there. 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. Try not to post anything libellous about others though.
Neil Rhind (1987) Blackheath and Its Environs Volume 2, p34
Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p116
In the first part of this post we looked at the shopping parade of 1-19 Burnt Ash Road, following its evolution from housing built on the site of Lee Green Farm until the outbreak of World War One. As had been the case with the shops opposite, it seemed to be a thriving parade at this stage – empty shops something of a rarity, certainly when compared with Manor Park Parade, closer to Lewisham. We continue the story, taking it to the the end of the parade when the bulldozers arrived, ahead of the building of the Leegate Centre.
The Bank had opened around 1906 as a branch of the London and Provincial Bank; there was a name change in 1918 following a merger with the London and South Western Bank, who had a branch that we’ve already covered at the junction of Lee High and Brightfield Roads. The combined name was the snappily titled London, Provincial and South Western Bank. Probably by the time the sign writers had finished the new title, it had become redundant as it was taken over by Barclays later in 1918. It seems to have stayed a bank until the parade was demolished, although the address changed to Eltham Road in the mid-1930s.
The watchmaker and jeweller Robert Fielding who had been at the Clock House from around 1906, remained there until the late 1920s. Fielding would have been 80 in 1930 and presumably retired to Bromley where he died that year.
There was a new business, a chemist that was there until at least the beginning of World War 2, run by W George, latterly trading as George’s Chemist. It was bought out by the national chain Bannister and Thatcher, who eventually became part of Lloyds Chemists. Oddly, at around the same time they opened another shop on the opposite side of the road in what was originally called Burnt Ash Parade – the late 1930s development in the southwestern quadrant of Lee Green. They remained at the Clock House, latterly referred to as no 1, until the end of the parade.
1a Burnt Ash Road
1a was referred to before and after World War 1, but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers. They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.
However, by 1925 there was some clarity and the firm John Lovibond was trading out of 1a. Their managers seemed to live on site; in 1939, it was Harold McLuskie who lived there with wife Constance, a lodger and three others, probably children.
John Lovibond & Sons were the owners of the Greenwich Brewery at 177 Greenwich High Road, almost next to the station, although it was a firm which originated in Somerset. They stopped brewing in 1959 to concentrated on selling wines and spirits through a chain of shops, including the one in Burnt Ash Road. They continued there until the demolition of the shops in the mid-1960s; the remaining shops were sold to Wine Ways in 1968, and many subsequently on to Victoria Wines.
1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road
We’d left 1 and 3, along with a big chunk of the shops around the corner in Eltham Road under the stewardship of Griffiths & Co. They had bought out the drapery, furnishing and ironmongery empire of C H Reed from Charles Reed’s son William around 1905.
By 1920 the shops had been sold back to the Reeds – initially trading as William Reed and then known as Reeds (Lee) by 1925. The second name change reflected the death of William in 1924. He was succeeded by his brother Ernest, who seems to have run the business until the 1950s. It appears likely that the site was redeveloped at around the time of the re-acquisition to allow for a single premises straddling the corner of Burnt Ash and Eltham Roads, although the Bank remained.
By 1960, the shop front was home to Barker Clark Estate Development Company, perhaps a firm related to the creation of the Leegate Centre
5 Burnt Ash Road
We’d left the shop front being run by a firm of builders’ merchants called Barnes Brothers as World War 1 approached. By 1916 though the premises were being used by a firm of ironmongers – a trade that was to continue until the bulldozers demolished the parade in the early 1960s.
Initially, it was run by Holeman and Hyland. The Holeman was Charles Herbert Holeman. Charles was born in Peckham in 1878 and had been living in East Dulwich, working as an electrical engineer in 1911. In 1939 he was living ‘over-the-shop’ with wife Janet plus two adult daughters, one of whom was a clerk at a draper’s shop, perhaps for Reeds next door – it was just Charles name over the door by the outbreak of World War 2 and it probably remained there until his death in 1957.
The business continued as Godfreys until the parade’s demise.
7 Burnt Ash Road
Before the outbreak of World War 1, number 7 was a florist – Harriet Walton had taken over the shop after the death of her husband James in 1913. It was a well-established business that had previously traded round the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace. By 1930 their son Walter was running the business.
The Waltons sold up by 1935 – they remained in Lewisham for the rest of their lives, Walter was a typist living in Heather Road off Baring Road with his mother in 1939. The new name over the door was that of Francis Blake a fruiterer; there was little longevity in the ownership though as by 1939 there was a new name– Lee Green Fruit Stores. The proprietor was Thomas Jamison, or Jameson, (aged 58 in 1939) along with his wife Beatrice (38) and 6 children, 4 of school age and a son who worked in the shop, Alfred. Thomas died in 1944 but the business carried on until the parade was demolished – if it stayed in the family, it may well have been Alfred running it until the early 1960s.
9 Burnt Ash Road
In the first part of the story of the parade it was noted that number 9 was one of those retail rarities, a shop that stayed in the same trade throughout its life – that of a butcher. Frederick Head from Christchurch in Surrey had been there since around 1900, he remained there throughout the First World War and beyond.
By around 1925, Frederick sold up to Grace Mary Plummer. Grace Mary Plummer probably lived in Beckenham as there was someone there of that name in 1939, although listed as carrying out unpaid domestic duties rather than being in the meat trade. She died in 1976 with an estate of around £70k. This may not even be the same person, but nothing else is obvious from online searches. However, it was her name above the window until the wrecking ball destroyed the terrace.
11 Burnt Ash Road
Like its next-door neighbour at number 9, 11 remained in the same trade for the entire period after World War 1, a fishmonger.
While Sparks Bros. had been running the business before World War 1, by 1920 Thomas Butler was selling fish, replaced by James Delliston in the early 1930s. Delliston seems to have sold up to Mac Fisheries before the war and was still a fishmonger living in Tressillian Road in the 1939 Register.
Mac Fisheries started as a vanity project of Lord Leverhulme of detergents fame, who bought initially the Scottish Isle of Lewis and then part of Harris after a boat trip in the Western Islands. His plan was to develop a fish-based industry and as part of this he started buying up independent fishmongers throughout Britain, rebranding them Mac Fisheries from just before World War 1. Lever Brothers got rid of the fish processing elements of the business after Lord Leverhulme’s death in the 1920s. The chain, and no doubt the shop on Burnt Ash Road, benefited during the World War 2 when fish, unlike meat, wasn’t rationed. Elsewhere Mac Fisheries expanded into other aspects of food sales but the small footprint of the shop at Lee Green probably prevented this. They were to remain at No 11 until the parade was demolished though.
13 Burnt Ash Road
Before World War 1, the chain Hudson Brothers was running a grocery and provisions business. They remained there until the early 1920s when name over the grocery changed to William Cullen, who also had a shop close to the railway bridge near Lee Station where he combined a grocers with a Post Office.
The expansion by William Cullen was a short term one as he’d retreated back to the Post Office by 1935 and the shop appears to have been empty during much of the 1930s, something of a rarity on the parade, as was the case over the road.
No one was living there when the 1939 Register was collected as World War 2 started, although a draper Mrs Fenn had opened a shop by 1940. It was a business didn’t last the war out, as Morgan Brushes, a brush manufacturer had their name painted over the window by VE Day – hopefully using one of their brushes, they lasted into the 1950s. Robert Lyas, a fruiterer, seems to have been the last business to operate before the parade was lost to the Leegate Centre development.
15 Burnt Ash Road
At the outbreak of World War 1, we’d left number 15 split – 15 was a confectioner’s and 15a was a dyers and cleaners trading as Chambers and Co. – that was still the case in 1920. The confectioner’s remained too but it was now Amelia Fairburn in charge.
By 1930 Amelia Fairburn had moved on replaced by a Mrs Monk at the confectioners; by 1935 Alice Watkins was there, but her tenure was a short one as Daisy Gadd was running the shop by the outbreak of World War 2. She lived there with her Lighterman husband George (42) and a couple of lodgers.
Despite the difficulties that wartime rationing will have caused her business, she continued until the 1950s when John Cawthorne took over the business until the end of the parade.
In the mid-1920s and early 1930s, 15a was briefly home to a blouse maker, Madame Iris. It then saw an extension from 17 of Walter Taylor’s photographic business. After this it returned to being a dyers and cleaners – initially named after the Georgian dandy and socialite, Beau Brummell, who had no obvious links to Lee. By the end of the war it had taken the name Zip French Cleaners, which it retained until the demolition of the parade.
17 Burnt Ash Road
Like several shops at this end of the parade, 17 was split into two. By the middle of World War 1 and into the interwar years John Allibone, a boot repairer from Northampton was trading at 17a, he’d been based on the Old Kent Road in the 1911 census. It was a business that lasted there until the late 1920s.
The partial shop front at 17a was taken over by a Corn Merchant’s business trading as William George Sweet, which was to stay at 17a until the wrecking ball arrived. It seems William George Sweet grew up in Prospect Terrace in the north eastern quadrant of Lee Green and had a long standing Corn Merchant’s shop in Brightfield Road from around 1881. He died in 1915 so it can be assumed that the family business was continued in his name from around 1930 at 17a. What is slightly odd about this business is that Corn Dealers were a business type that had generally died out during the inter-war period with the switch from horse to the increased horse-power of the internal combustion engine.
After being empty during World War One, the other half of the shop, 17, was taken over by Photographic dealer Walter Taylor by 1925, who expanded into 15a by 1930. He’d gone by 1935, with the tenure on the shop front taken over by a hairdresser trading as ‘Lydia’ which was to remain on the parade until its end. The person behind the name in 1939, at least, was Gladys Hardine, later Horton. She lived until 2004, so may well have had the business for 40 years.
19 Burnt Ash Road
At the beginning of World War 1, George Neal had been running a saddler’s at 19, the business seems to have continued until around his death in 1921. After that, the business carried on at 19 reverted to a previous one, cycle sales and repairs run by Reginald George Littlewood However, there was competition from F A Lycett in Lee Road, who eventually moved to 30 Burnt Ash Road, this may have caused Reginald to change business to wireless supplies by 1935 (pictured on the sign in the photograph above). By 1940 the shop was empty through.
Post-World War Two, the name over the window was Sentinel Products, what the products sold were isn’t clear though, possibly it was a locksmith. They had been replaced by Frank Sutherland by 1950, but it isn’t clear what he was a purveyor of though – it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as a ‘Miscellaneous Dealer.’ Frank was there when the parade closed in the early 1960s.
We’ll cover the Leegate Centre (pictured above in 2016) at some stage in the future – although we’ll look at the shops on Eltham Road before we do that. However, what is interesting at 1-19 Burnt Ash Road is that after World War 1, while there were significant changes going on over the road there was much more stability here – while some names changed, the traditional shops remained – the fishmonger, butcher, fruiterer, wine and spirit merchant, confectioner and women’s hairdresser.
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark and Lewisham Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1896.
Pictures and Other Credits
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham and Southwark Archives
The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
A while ago we looked at the shopping parade of 2-30 Burnt Ash Road, from its development in the late 19th century, to its loss to Penfolds and later Sainsburys. We now cross over the road to look at the shops on the other side of the road, that were eventually lost to Leegate Centre (pictured from 2016).
While the 1863 surveyed Ordnance Survey map still showed Lee Green Farm (pictured below), its days were numbered – its last farmer, Richard Morris, had, or was about to move, on to Blackfen. His father, William, had leased land from the Crown Estate for several decades, before moving on to College Farm at the highest point on Burnt Ash Hill where he died in 1851.
The developer of the south eastern quadrant of Lee Green, where the farm buildings still sat in 1863, was a name that will be familiar – John Pound, who developed much of Grove Park and south Lee. Work seems to have been completed around 1866 – there were shops at Orchard Terrace on Eltham Road and houses in Crown Terrace on Burnt Ash Road (then called Lane). The Orchard relating to the previous land use and the Crown, the landowner. Burnt Ash Lane/Road was the boundary between the lands of the Crown to the east, which had been part of the estates of Eltham Palace, and the Northbrook estate to the west.
The houses were terraced and much smaller than those opposite which were built a few years earlier and were also to become shops. In the 1871 census, the lower numbers near Lee Green tended to be working class and manual occupations, slightly wealthier further south included articled clerk, solicitor’s clerk but nothing that grand – certainly compared with original occupants over the road. Little had changed a decade later although there had been a gradual shift to multiple households living in the houses – for example there were four households at 2 Crown Terrace.
The conversion from houses to shops started to happen in the 1890s. In the 1891 census all the buildings seem to have been residential but by 1894 well over half the group now had shop fronts and a couple of years later all of them were retail outlets. We’ll look at them in turn – focussing on, in this first part of the story, on the period up to World War One.
The numbering changed a little in that the building on the corner was originally part of Eltham Road, but that changed with the building of a bank around 1911. To avoid confusion, as far as possible the numbering referred to will be that from the Edwardian era onwards.
While the rest of the Parade dated from the 1860s the Bank was much later – probably built around 1906. It seems that what was once 2 and 4 Eltham Road was redeveloped at that point, it was a building listed in both Eltham Road and Burnt Ash Roads in Kelly’s Directories, its manager in 1911 was Harry Kitto.
Like Bank Buildings, the part of the parade known as the Clock House dates from around 1906, presumably part of a redevelopment of that south eastern corner of Lee Green. It was so called because of the clock that its first occupant advertising his trade – Robert Fielding, a watchmaker. Fielding was 61 and in 1911 was living in one of the larger houses on Lee High Road with his wife, Georgina, a servant and two adult daughters, one of whom assisted in the shop. Before his move to Clock House, he had been at 141 Lee Road, next but one to Osborn Terrace for around a decade before.
It was a business that had run in the family – his father had been a jeweller and watchmaker but had died young and the business was taken over by his mother in Montpelier Vale in Blackheath, probably from the late 1850s.
The Clock House seems to have been shared with Horace L Murray Shirreff’s Electron Cycle Co (see 7 below) until around 1916 but no one else is mentioned after then so presumably Robert Fielding used the whole shopfront.
1a Burnt Ash Road
This seems to have remained a house much longer than the rest, possibly also acting as a base for a business. From 1871 it is listed at the home of G Bush and Sons Builders, run by George Bush – it may have been the case that he had been the builder of Crown Terrace for John Pound. There were 6 children there with George in 1871, and a decade later he is noted as ‘employing about 35 men.’ His daughter was a drapers’ assistant, perhaps from George Gooding over the road. George Bush died in 1902 and the business was continued by his son who lived in Elswick Road in 1891, listed as a stone mason. The business continued during the decade of George’s (Senior) death, but the shop front was empty by 1911.
1a was referred to before and after World War 1 but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers. They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.
1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road
Number one was first mentioned in 1896 with a name that this corner of Burnt Ash Road and Eltham Road became synonymous with – Reeds, for years it was often referred to as ‘Reed’s Corner.’ The ‘Reed’ initially referred to C H Reed & Co and the C H Reed was Charles Henry Reed. He has been born in 1839 in North Cornwall, having moved to Lee Green in 1866.
By 1871 Charles Henry, was living at the next parade along, Eastbourne Terrace, with his wife Maria (probably nee Nichols), also from Cornwall; there was also a niece and 12 employees. Whether all employees these actually lived on the premises was debatable, a decade later, there were two different nieces and 49 staff. By 1881 he had a trio of shops on trading as a draper, furnisher and ironmonger.
No longer there in 1881 though was Charles wife, Maria, she was living in Forest Hill with Charles William, born in 1873, sometimes referred to as William, along with a daughter Maria (seemingly later referred to as Beatrice, 1875) and Ernest (1881). Whether they were separated or not it wasn’t clear, but the position was the same in 1891, with 63 listed as living at Eastbourne Terrace, and Maria in Brockley.
The inclusion of 1 and 3 Burnt Ash Road into Charles Reed’s empire came in the mid-1890s – it was the furnishing element of the business that was moved around the corner from Eltham Road. Charles died in July 1895 shortly after the expansion. The net effects of his will were £28,117 – a very significant amount of money in 1895, both his son Charles William Reed and an Alfred John Reed (given other recording errors this may well be Ernest) seem to have been the main beneficiaries. There was no mention of Maria, although a two-year-old Thomas Battyll Hodson, a two-year-old with no obvious connection to the Reeds was though.
(Charles) William continued to run the shops for a decade after his father’s death but sold them to Griffiths & Co. around 1905, it was a name that dominated the south east quadrant of Lee Green for the next 20 years or so.
5 Burnt Ash Road
The first shop-front type of business operating out of 5 was the boot and shoemaker Josiah Tylor who was there from the mid-1890s. The shop was doing well enough by 1901 to have a manager Thomas Wisdom, who was there with his wife Maude and a young son and sister in law. Nothing is known of the owner whose name stayed over the door until around 1905.
It seems to have been very briefly an auctioneer around 1907 (1), a firm called Bell and Rainer trading as Lee Green Auction Rooms. However, other than a few press reports that year they didn’t leave much of a trace. It was the base of Barnes Brothers who were builders’ merchants by 1911 although it no one was living there when the census enumerators called that year.
7 Burnt Ash Road
In its early years it went through several names on the shop front – in 1894 it was W J Tournour, a house furnisher, followed in 1896 by George Lewis, a draper, and then Walter Woolverton, another draper in 1900. All will have had competition from shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further down the parade which may explain their lack of longevity. George Lewis seems to have suffered the ignominy of having his stock sold at ‘prices considerably below cost’ by Reed’s, still in Eltham Road at that point, in September 1897 (2).
By 1898 the name above the door was the Electron Cycle company who manufactured bicycles. The name behind the branding was Horace L Murray-Shirreff. Along with his wife Mahala, the family came from Uxbridge where their son was born in 1896. They had moved to Lee Green by the spring of 1898 as his machines were twice ridden to victory at the Sportsbank Street Velodrome in Catford (pictured below) over the Easter Bank Holiday, once by Horace himself (3). Electron had moved on within the parade by 1911 as they were listed within the Clock House (see above) in the Kelly’s Directory. The sojourn at the Clock House was probably a short one as in the 1911 he’d moved to Staines and was listed as an inn keeper in the 1911 census.
By 1911 James Walton was trading at number 7 as a florist; he had had a business just around the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace in previous censuses, listed variously as a florist and nurseryman. In 1911 he was there with his second wife, Harriet and three children, two of whom helped in the shop. James died in 1913 aged around 79, but the business stayed in the family initially in the name of Harriet running it as war broke out.
9 Burnt Ash Road
Number nine was a rarity in that throughout its life as a shop it was to stay in the same trade – a butchers, there were also only three different names over the window in its 65-year life. The first of these was the shortest lived, Colonial Meat Stores, who operated there in the mid-1890s, which seemed to be a single shop rather than any form of chain.
Frederick Head was there by the turn of the century and in 1901 was 47, he hailed from Christchurch in Surrey, and was there with his wife, Martha 47 and 5 children of mixture of ages who were all born in Kings Lynn there as was a servant employed by them. The two eldest sons were both helping in the shop. By 1911 the rest of the family had moved on, but Frederick and Martha were still running the business.
11 Burnt Ash Road
Like its next door neighbour at number 9, 11 was almost a single trade, a fishmonger, although there were a few more names over the window. The ‘almost’ is because the initial traders, Green and Co, started life as a fruiterer around 1896 but by 1900 was trading as a fishmonger. Perhaps they couldn’t cope with the competition from the already established M J Martin over the road who was a fruiterer and florist. There was though a lack of fishmonger though, on both sides of Burnt Ash Road, so Green and Co adapted to meet a gap in the market.
Who Green & Co were isn’t clear, certainly in 1901 the shop was managed by Surrey man E M Mankleton along his wife, mother, four children and a lodger who worked in the shop.
There was a new name over the window by 1911, Sparks Bros. In the census that year Frank Sparks was the fishmonger, the fishmonger’s wife was Sarah and Henry, the brother in the ‘Bros.’ were also there.
13 Burnt Ash Road
Hudson Brothers were a chain of provisions dealers, that existed from the 1870s, they were based in Ludgate Hill and had a dozen or so stores in and around central London, many close to stations. They also had a few in the then suburbs like Lee Green by the mid-1890s, where the shop opened around 1894. They were to remain on the parade until the early 1920s. They refurbished the shop in 1908 as the advert to the left shows (4).
This was another shop that started life as a draper’s shop, initially Thomas & Co from around 1896, but by the turn of the century W Sanders Pepper (40), along with his wife Ella (37) who both hailed from Northamptonshire, they had arrived via Battersea where two of their children born. A shop assistant and a servant were also part of the household in 1901.
Around the end of the first decade of the century the Peppers moved on, possibly struggling with competition from drapers shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further up the parade.
The new name at the front by 1911 was Ethel Higgins who was a confectioner; there had been one next door, but it had closed a year or two before. Ethel was a widow from Greenwich and lived there with her daughter. Whilst names changed periodically it was a business type that remained until the end of the parade, by 1916 Elizbeth Stevens was running the confectioner’s shop.
Around 1911 the shop front seems to have been ‘split’ and 15a appeared – the dyers and cleaners, Chambers and Co.
17 Burnt Ash Road
17 started its life as a shop around 1896 as a stationer’s run by Thomas James Watts; it wasn’t a business to last long though. By 1900 Annie Palmer had taken over the shop but changed the business to a confectioner, she was a widow who a decade before had been living in nearby Wantage Road. By 1905 her husband Samuel Evans Palmer was running the business, she died in 1908, and Samuel had gone by 1911 and was a Peckham based ‘Coffee House Keeper’ by then – whether this was a temperance one like one in Lee High Road isn’t clear.
By the census in 1911 Flora May Phillips, a tailoress from Bromley was there on her own, although the name over the window was Frederick May.
Like number 15, the arrival of a confectioner saw the shop split into two – dressmakers Mabel and Eleanor Harkness, there in 1900. Empty in 1905, Florence Wood, a milliner, was trading from there in 1911.
The first shop at 19 opened around 1896, a Wine and Spirit merchants run by Cockle & Sons. It didn’t last long and neither did the next tenant the Electron Cycle Co.; as we’ve seen Horace L Murray Shirreff’s business popped up in three locations on the parade in little more than a decade.
The next name over the window was that of Neal and Son, who were there by 1905. It was a trade that reflected the era, saddlers, and will have complemented William Brown’s corn dealers over the road who sold the feed for the horses. George Neal had been born in 1871 to a family in the same business and operated in Prospect Terrace next to the New Tiger’s Head, like William Sweet at 17a. George was in ‘Son’ in Sons. George was operating in Turner Road (now Dacre Park) in 1901 and moved back to Lee Green by 1911 where he was to continue at the southern end of the parade until around his death in 1921.
The parade will be returned to after World War One, when the second part of the story will take it to the stage that the bulldozers moved in ahead of the construction of the Leegate Centre.
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1896 along with census records before that.
Kentish Mercury 29 November 1907
Kentish Mercury 24 September 1897
West Middlesex Gazette 16 April 1898
Kentish Mercury 2 October 1908
Pictures and Other Credits
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark Archives
The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
The photograph of the Velodrome is via eBay in February 2016
The picture of the farm is from the information board at Lee Green
We’d started our circuit of Lee at Lee Green during the first 2020 Coronavirus lockdown and the last leg from Blackheath to Lee Green was under the not dissimilar conditions of lockdown 2.0 in the late autumn of 2020. In the intervening months, Running Past followed the long thin boundary of Victorian Lee just before it was subsumed into Lewisham in 1900. The navigation was aided by an 1893 surveyed Ordnance Survey map.
We’d left the boundary at a T junction of borders, Lee – Lewisham – Charlton with a replacement of a 1903 boundary marker of a similar style to those seen in several places around the border.
The stone is next to the railway bridge and it is worth a quick turnaround by the first turning on the left, or would have been in 1893. A large Methodist chapel had been built in the mid-1860s and dominated the Blackheath Village skyline and was to do so for another 52 years until a V-2 rocket attack hit it in March 1945.
The turning is Bennett Park, which has one of biggest concentrations of blue plaques in south east London – the Physicist, Sir Arthur Eddington lived at number 4 – he was listed as a boarder there in the 1911 census, whilst working at the Royal Observatory. The cartoonist Donald McGill, lived at 5 Bennett Park – he was there when the 1939 Register was compiled. But, perhaps, the most significant is one at the far end for the GPO Film Unit, whose output included the wonderful film adaptation of W H Auden’s Night Mail, which featured a score by Benjamin Britten. The Film Unit also produced some World War Two propaganda films. The building had been partially funded by one the main benefactors of late Victorian Blackheath, William Webster, son of the eponymous main contractor of Joseph Bazlegette, as Blackheath Art Club.
Onwards and southwards, the boundary goes upwards and out of the valley of Upper Kid Brook towards the watershed with the adjacent Brook in the trio of Kid Brooks, Mid Kid Brook. Straddling the catchments is a pair of elegant buildings at the top of the hill – the Conservatoire of Music and Blackheath Concert Halls, again in part the paid for built by William Webster. Both were a few years away in 1893 though, there was a terrace of houses there at that stage. The Concert Halls, resplendent with some lovely pargeting, were to be the location of a badly disrupted suffragette meeting in 1909.
Lee Road, which we follow to Lee Green and the end of our circuit, had been farmland on the western side until 1835 (1) – this was a little later at the Lee Green end which in some years was the home to the annual horse racing of Lee Races. The eastern side, part of the Cator Estate, had seen some development from a couple of decades earlier. We won’t look at much of the housing here in any detail as Neil Rhind’s meticulously researched Blackheath Village and Environs Volumes 2 &3 cover this.
By 1893 though, this was wealthy suburbia and there was still farmland to the west. In the period since, the mix of housing has changed considerably – the area around corner of the Lee Road and Blackheath Park (pictured above from early in the 20th century) is perhaps, typical of them – with Victorian housing replaced by Span housing of which there are lots examples dotted around the Cator Estate (pictured from a similar location in 2020).
The Charlton – Lee boundary continued, unmarked, along the centre of Lee Road in 1893; on the western side the view would probably have been dominated by the Christ Church on Lee Park. The area had once been part of the parish of St Margaret’s but the burgeoning population saw the parish split several ways, Christ Church (pictured below from Lee Park) being the first to be carved out in the 1850s. It lasted until ten days into the Blitz when Luftwaffe bombs destroyed most of it with the remaining parts demolished before the end of the war.
The church wasn’t the only part of the urban landscape to suffer during the war. There was damage of sufficient volume for there to be two small estates of prefab bungalows – Lee Road Bungalows just to the north of what is now Heathlee Road and River Close, which was opposite Manor Way. The section between them and onwards to the south was re-developed in the 1960s. The postcard below shows the street scene in that part of Lee Road in the early 20th century looking towards Blackheath – the boundary going down the middle of the road.
Just to the north of Manor Way, there was another T junction of boundaries – Lee remained constant but on the eastern side Charlton became Kidbrooke. The 1893 Ordnance Survey map noted a boundary stone, but this alas is no longer there. The Charlton – Kidbrooke boundary had followed Mid Kid Brook through the Cator Estate. The Brook’s original course would have been across Lee Road but during the 18th century it was diverted down Lee Road, it is currently culverted.
The was very little bomb damage on the eastern side of the boundary beyond Manor Way, with most of the houses that would have been there in 1893 remaining. One of the original houses was taken over as Lee Workingmen’s Club at 113 -115 Lee Road in the 1920s, the Club (pictured above) closed this century and is now a nursery . The Lee Constitutional Club was two doors down but arrived just too late to quench the thirst of the Ordnance Survey cartographers.
The 1863 and 2020 boundary continues down the middle of the road, now with Greenwich rather than Kidbrooke. Like the streetlights, bins, paving, white lines and tarmac colours that have become informal boundary markers, Lee Road has another variant – a small island in the road.
About a hundred metres on, we reach the Quaggy – another three way boundary in 1893 with Eltham replacing Kidbrooke. There is another boundary marker by the bridge over the Quaggy, its a defaced one of a similar style to that at the beginning of this section – rumour has it that the places were hacked out so as not to offer any help to German troops in the event of an invasion. There is though a better boundary marker almost below it though; by the outflow of the culverted Mid Kid Brook which as it joins the Quaggy is another Lewisham Natureman stag. This is the final one in the quartet of stags we have spotted on or close to the Lee boundary, so it seems an appropriate place to finish the circuit.
Neil Rhind (forthcoming) Blackheath and Its Environs Volume 3
The Postcards are via eBay from 2016, apart from the one of Christ Church which is from a couple of years before.
Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)
This, and the rest of the series of posts on the Lee boundary, 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.
When the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited the area around Eltham Road, to the east of Lee Green, for the first time in 1863, a small number of large houses had been laid out at the edge of suburbia of Victorian London. The feel though would have been rural, little different to when horse racing had happened in the fields parallel to the main road and Quaggy up until the mid -1840s.
The change in the next four or five years was dramatic with new housing laid out along Eltham Road, almost up to what is now Sutcliffe Park. As the local MP remarked in 1870, ‘in a short period a town has sprung up in the neighbourhood.’ (1)
From around 1867, possibly slightly before, there was a temporary ‘iron church’ that was built somewhere in the area which was called St Peter, the exact location isn’t clear – a Rev. A Tien being appointed to minister from there from a church in Bedfordshire (2). As we have seen in relation to an iron church on what is now Baring Road (see above), ‘tin tabernacles,’ as they were often referred to, provided quick solutions to the provision of a church whilst funds were raised to build a permanent place of worship.
The foundation stone for the permanent church (pictured above) was laid on 3 December 1870 by Lady Louisa Mills, who was the wife of the local MP for West Kent, Charles Mills. He obviously wasn’t that impressed with his wife laying the foundation stone; his speech ‘regretting very much the absence of a member of the Royal Family’ (3). The Conservative Mills had previously lost his seat in Northallerton, amidst a bribery scandal. Also present at both the foundation stone laying and the service in the iron church that preceded it, were the Vicar Designate, the Rev J L Macdonald, along with the Vicars of Eltham and Greenwich (4).
The church was on the corner of what it now Lyme Farm Close and Courtlands Avenue, although it was just one street then referred to simply as The Avenue. There were a dozen or so large houses in the development plus perhaps another 150 large houses along Eltham Road, Cambridge Road (now Drive), along with Weigall, Osberton and Leyland Roads. It was an ambitious project for a small, albeit probably relatively wealthy and pious area. So, there was a range of fundraising activity to help pay including bazaars and concerts to help pay for the new church (5).
In the end, it all came together quite quickly with the new church consecrated in July 1871, just six months after the foundation stone was laid. The ceremony was undertaken by the Bishop of Colombo, in the absence of the Bishop of Rochester, most of local clergy in the area being present too. The church seemed large for the area – holding 750 and cost £4,500 to build (6).
The local paper, the Kentish Mercury, described it as ‘early French’ in style consisting of ‘nave, side aisles and an octagonal chancel…. surmounted by a very characteristic tower and spire…..Both externally and internally the edifice is of red brick, relieved with copious Bath stone dressings’ (7).
The architects were Newman and Billing, both called Arthur, who were based in Tooley Street and had an extensive practice mainly concerned with church work from around 1860. They were also acted as surveyors to Guy’s Hospital and to St Olave’s District Board of Works in Bermondsey. Other work included the design of the Grade II listed St Luke’s in Hackney and the Grade I listed Parish Church of St Dunstan and All Saints (The Church of the High Seas)
The builders were Dove Brothers who were a long standing Islington based builders operational between 1781 and 1993, well known for late Victorian church construction building around 130 churches between 1858 and 1900, mainly in London.
The church had parish rooms, a some distance away in St Peter’s Court at Lee Green, behind the New Tiger’s Head. The first mention in Kelly’s Directories was in 1894, but given the naming of the alley (which is still there) it probably dates from the 1880s or before. The last mention of the parish rooms was around 1911.
The church seems to have suffered as the wealthy suburban residents moved on and was closed in 1939 in a poor state of repair; several of the houses were empty on Courtlands Avenue when the 1939 Register was collected as war broke out, with others in multiple occupation – a parish probably unable to cope with the high running costs of the building. While no damage was marked on the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps (8) – given there were a couple of V-1s that fell on neighbouring fields it seem seems likely that there was some damage; certainly the church website suggests that. It seems that the remaining parishioners worshiped for a while at the elegantly situated St John’s at the top of Eltham Hill.
The church was declared redundant in 1960, and along with the rest of the housing on Courtlands Avenue was demolished, probably the same year. The much denser housing, seemingly built by Wates. All that remains now is the war memorial, which has a brief note about the church’s history.
Courtlands Avenue wasn’t the only area of large housing demolished in the early post war period – flats appeared on Ravens Way and opposite on Reed Close – maybe 99 year Crown leases were coming to an end. There was to be much larger scale development redevelopment around Lee Green, again on Crown land.
The new, denser developments with hundreds more homes provided a nascent congregation and the church re-established itself in a wooden hall on the corner of Weigall Road in 1960, joining with the, then recently rebuilt, Church of the Good Shepherd in Handen Road.
The plot on which the hall that the church took over seems to have been undeveloped until the late 1930s when it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as Pyke Jocelyn School of Dancing, it changed hands during the war to become Saville Hall School of Dancing before a 1960 listing as St Peter’s Church.
The wooden structure was replaced by a smaller, attractive multi-purpose building in 1983, presumably at least partially paid for by the sale of part of the site for a sheltered housing development next door.
Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
Bedfordshire Times and Independent 16 July 1867
Kentish Mercury 10 December 1870
Kentish Mercury 10 June 1871
Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p120
The photographs of the original church are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, remain their copyright and are used with their permission
The photograph of the tin tabernacle on what is now Baring Road was from eBay in September 2016
The Kelly’s Directory data is from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark Archives