Tag Archives: Lee High Road

The Lesters of Lee New Town 

Running Past has often covered the stories of those living in and around Lee and Hither Green, particularly in Edwardian, Victorian times and before.  Because of the nature of the development of the area it has usually been the stories of the wealthy with servants, shopkeepers and publicans living in what was once suburbia and the farmers in the years before.  

The histories of several working class streets have been told –  notably Ardmere Road and Brightfield Road including under its previous name Robertson Street.  However, there have been few family stories – this post, on a family that lived in and around Lee Church Street for four generations, begins to put this right. Some relatively recent photographs of the area are below.

Lee New Town consisted of small terraced houses, many in narrow alleys on and off the current streets of Lee Church Street, Boone Street, Boone’s Road, Fludyer Street and Dacre Park.  It was built from the 1820s after the estate of Lee Place had been sold in lots. It was demolished both by the Luftwaffe and as part of a late 1950s slum clearance programme.  Boone Street is pictured below, probably from the 1950s before the demolition of the houses.

The Lesters were a long standing family who lived in Lee New Town for much of four generations.  It’s not an attempt to write a complete family history but to try and understand something of what life was like for an ordinary working class household in Lee from the 1850s into the 20th century.  We will focus on one member of the family from each generation.

Charlotte Lester, who successive generations have taken their name from was born in Colchester around 1803. It isn’t clear whether Lester is her birth surname or if she married in Colchester – there is no obvious record of either, although a child of that name was baptised in 1810.

Charlotte had two children in Colchester, James John Lester (1834) and Mary born there around 1838.

By the 1841 census, Charlotte was listed as a servant and living in Lewisham; she had hit very hard times as Charlotte and her two young children were in the Lewisham Union Workhouse. 

The Lewisham Poor Law Union was formed in 1836, serving the parishes of Lee, Charlton, Eltham, Kidbrooke, Mottingham, and Plumstead as well as Lewisham. The workhouse was on the site on the Lewisham Hospital. Victorian workhouse buildings remain on the site, complete with an eroded Lewisham Union badge over the entrance – the part to the left of the arch dates from before the Lesters’ stay, the rest was later (1). Charlotte will probably have been put to work picking oakum – unravelling strands of old rope.

There was a children’s section over the road on the edge of what is now Lewisham Park, so Charlotte was probably separated from James and Mary. Conditions were poor for the children – often suffering from rickets and anemia due to poor diet and sleeping four to a bed in what was a badly ventilated, cold building (2).

It isn’t clear how long the family was in the workhouse or where in the Union they had previously been.  As a servant, losing a job could quickly lead to the loss of home, directly if they ‘lived in’ or indirectly if they were unable to find new employment very quickly.  There was no welfare state safety net. 

Towards the end of 1843, Charlotte married John Kiddle in Greenwich – he was a Londoner who worked as a garden labourer.  Along with a new daughter, Eliza, who was born in Greenwich in 1845, they were listed as living at 9 Boone Street in 1851.  James, now around 15, was working as an errand boy. Houses from elsewhere on Boone Street are pictured below.

Whether they were actually living at 9 Boone Street is debatable – many of the houses on the street weren’t numbered in the census record apart from three households who were all given number 9. Either 19 people were sharing one property or some errors made.  If it was 9 it would have been close to where Boone Street now dog-legs around.  What is now the dog-leg was then Dacre Street.  What is probably more likely is that it was an incorrectly transcribed Boone’s Place where Charlotte was living in 1861.

It seems that John died around 1856, aged around 35.

In the 1861 census, Charlotte and Eliza were living in Boone’s Place, Charlotte working as a charwoman and Eliza, now 16, was still at school.  Boone’s Place was a small terrace facing north about 100 metres from the High Road off Boone Street, opposite the Smithy on the map below from 1893.

The census record isn’t completely clear, but it looks as though Charlotte was the head of the household at number 9 and it was a house that she shared with George and Mary Martin and their young son.  George Martin’s parents and seven siblings lived next door at number 8.

In 1871, Charlotte was still living at 9 Boone’s Place – listed as being the head of household, there was no occupation listed in the census. With her daughter Eliza and her husband Charles Robert Hoy, a baker, who she had married in Deptford in 1870. It isn’t immediately obvious what happened to the Hoys after the 1871 census.

Charlotte despite her hard life lived to around 74, a decent age given life expectancy in Victorian England – she died in Lewisham in 1877.

Back to Charlotte’s son James;  by 1861 he was living in George Square, one of the small  ‘courts’ in Lee New Town.  He had married Maria (née Wells) in Bromley in 1858.  They had two children James (1859) and Henry (1861) they were all listed as labourers in the census, but even in tough Victorian times, babies and toddlers weren’t sent out to work.

The small house that the Lesters lived in was almost certainly off Dacre Street and was shared with another family, the Smiths – there were 9 of them living there.

Infant mortality rates were high, and Henry had died before 1861 was out.  Over the next decade the Lesters had several more children – Maria (born 1863), Eliza (1864), George (1866), Emily (1869) and Samuel just before the census enumerators called again in 1871.  They had moved by 1871, by about 100 metres and were living at 10 Union Place – this was a small turning off the western side of Lee Church Street between the ‘Church’ and ‘Street’ on the map.

George, who will focus on in terms of this generation, was 5 and listed as a scholar, probably going to the National Schools over the road on the opposite side of Lee Church Street – pictured above just before demolition in the late 1950s alongside its current version.  A classroom is pictured below from the same era, but it had probably not changed markedly since George’s time there.

James and family were still living at 10 Union Place in 1881, James, now 46, was listed as a labourer. There were 10 children there ranging in age from 21 to 1. 

In 1881 George was 15 and living with his parents, he was working as a ‘cow boy’ – presumably a young assistant in a dairy rather than riding horseback through Lee wearing a Stetson. There were still several farms in the district which George could easily have walked to from Lee –  Burnt Ash, Lee Manor, College, North Park and Horn Park would fit the bill as would dairies, such as the one in Butterfield Street.

A decade later James, Maria and the family that remained ‘at home’ had moved out of Lee and were living in Victoria Terrace, part of Ennersdale Road. The house is still there although it is now 11 Leahurst Road – it is much bigger than the houses in Lee New Town. They were probably able to afford the no doubt higher rent as a lot of the family was now working – James was still a painter, Maria was working as a laundress, Henry (1871) a butcher, Alfred (1873) a servant, Charles (1875) and Ernest (1877) were both shop boys, with Annie (1878) and Alice (1880) both still at school. James died a few weeks after the census aged 57.

Maria stayed in the area – living in Molesworth Street in 1901, still working as a laundress at (63), with Charles (1875), a granddaughter and a couple of lodgers. She was still there a decade later with Alfred (1873) now a bank messenger, along with 2 boarders. What happened to her beyond that isn’t clear.

We return to George (born around 1866).  He married Sarah Elizabeth Reffin from Brighton in the summer of 1887; she seems to have been also known as Elizabeth – that is how she is referred to in later censuses. He was no longer a cow boy, by 1891 he was working as a bricklayers labourer.  In the early years of the marriage, the family moved around a little – they had three children born in 1889 (Catford), 1890 (Lee) and 1891 (Lewisham) and by the time of the census were back in Lee, living at 6 Dacre Square. Dacre Square was a tiny area of 12 houses accessed off the southern side of Dacre Street via an alley – below the ’R’ of street on the map. Dacre Square is just visible between properties on Dacre Street below (probably from the 1930s) as well as above.

George had a run in with the law in 1897 when he was was charged with being ‘riotous whilst drunk’ and assaulting two Police Constables after having to be ejected from the Swan.  He was found guilty and got a hefty fine of £6 or three months imprisonment with 6/- (30p) costs (3). In 2021 terms, the fine would have been around £800.

By the time of his conviction he was a bricklayer and living at 59 Dacre Street.  He and Elizabeth had 7 children living with them. 59 Dacre Street would have been almost opposite the entrance to Dacre Square – it may well be (just) pictured from the 1930s from Dacre Square below.

George and family were still in Lee New Town in 1911, living at 7 Royal Oak Place in 1911 – it isn’t clear exactly where this is, but logic would suggest it was close to the Royal Oak pub – at the top of Lee Church Street. There were eleven of them in the household ranging in age from 20 to 5.  

It isn’t immediately clear what happened to George after 1911.  However, a couple of George and Elizabeth’s children were still living in the area as war broke out in 1939 – the fourth generation of the family in Lee New Town.  Most of the oth ated to Canada in the 1930s.

Sidney (1897) was living at 7 St Margaret’s Passage and was working as a railway labourer – a house that was on the western side of the alleyway, more or less opposite the end of the Dacre Arms’ garden.  It was demolished for the flats which are pictured at the bottom of the first group of photographs.

The youngest son, Fred, born in 1906, was living at 52 Dacre Park – close to the corner of Boone’s Road – he seems to have worked for coal dealer – although this was incorrectly transcribed as ‘coal miner.’  Fred seems to have stayed in Lewisham until his death in 1983.  The home he was lived in was destroyed in the Blitz – there were prefabs there post war.

Note

  1. Lewisham Local History Centre (1992) Looking Back at Lewisham p56
  2. ibid p56
  3. Kentish Mercury 5 March 1897

Credits

  • Census and related data comes via Find My Past, subscription required
  • The pair of photographs of Boone Street and that of Boone’s Place (with children) come from the notice board adjacent to Kingswood Halls
  • The single photograph of Boone Street, the photo of the classroom along with those looking into and out of Boone’s Square are from the collection of Lewisham Archives and remain their copyright, but are used with their permission
  • The earlier photograph of the school is via Collage – Record number 189098 / Catalogue reference: SC_PHL_02_0327_59_2658 – permission given for use here, but no rights to use elsewhere, it remains their copyright
  • The Ordnance Survey map is on a non-commercial licence via the National Library of Scotland

The 1878 Lewisham and Lee Floods

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.

Notes

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.

  1. Dundee Courier 12 April 1878
  2. Kentish Mercury 20 April 1878
  3. ibid
  4. ibid
  5. ibid
  6. ibid
  7. Kentish Independent – 13 April 1878
  8. Woolwich Gazette 31 July 1880
  9. Woolwich Gazette 1 October 1881
  10. Kentish Mercury 16 October 1880
  11. Woolwich Gazette 17 June 1882
  12. Woolwich Gazette 31 July 1880

Credits

  • Census and related data comes via Find My Past, subscription required
  • The Ordnance Survey maps are on a non-commercial licence via the National Library of Scotland
  • Postcards of Lewisham Bridge and what was then Beckenham Lane are via eBay from 2016
  • The photograph of the Sultan is used with the permission of Robert Crawford, the great grandson of the Craddocks, licensees there in the 1920s, it remains his family’s copyright
  • The photograph of the destroyed bridge in Eastdown Park is from the collection of Lewisham Archives and remains their copyright, but is used with their permission

‘Gardening Shopping with Copping’ – a Lee High Road Ghost Sign

On the corner of Marischal Road and Lee High Road a ‘ghost sign’ has recently (July 2021) appeared from behind an advertising hoarding. It is for a family business that traded from the site for around 90 years. 

Ghost signs are painted advertising signs, they are not meant to be permanent – although they lasted much longer than their modern-day counterparts.  The urban landscape used to be full of them but most have been lost – either to modern advertising, being painted over or the buildings themselves being demolished.  They can be

  • National – Bryant & May off New Cross Road; or
  • Local – such as the Holdaway sign on Belmont Hill or Campions in Catford, these were usually on the side of the building that they operated from – this one falls into this category.    

The age of this sign is a little uncertain in that while the front of the building may have been rebuilt either during or after World War Two, it is less clear with the wall  that the ‘ghost sign’ is painted on.   There could have been variants of the same design over the years – the current version certainly predates changes in telephone numbers from 1959 as ’01 852’ is painted over what was presumably ‘LEE’.  The original could be as early as the 1920s as the gardening part of the family business started to be listed in Kelly’s Directories then.

Whatever the exact age of the sign, there is an interesting story of a long-lived family business, whose story we’ll now tell.

The Coppings had first opened a shop on Lee High Road in the late 1880s, at what was then 87 High Road, Lee – unlike further up the road, the numbering remained constant, only the ‘Lee prefix’ being added.  The street it was on the corner of though had a different name, it was then Douglas Road. In the 1888 Kelly’s Directory it was referred to as ‘Copping, T & Sons, Fruiterer etc.’

The ‘T’ was Thomas; in the 1881 census he had been listed as a gardener living in Ravensbourne Street in Deptford – born in 1843 he came from Thornham Parva in Suffolk as did his sons Levi, born in 1867 and Spencer in 1868.  They seem to have moved to Deptford in the 1870s as they were still in Suffolk in 1871 when the census was taken.

While Thomas’ name was over the window, in the 1891 census he is listed as a market gardener living in Kelsey Park in Beckenham.  Living over the shop in 1891 was his son Spencer, who was presumably running the shop.  He and his father seemed to have swapped roles by 1901 – with Thomas running what had been listed as a florist for several years – perhaps selling produce from Beckenham.

The shop, without any painted advertising sign, is on the corner of the second turning on the right of the postcard below – the first was the original end of Marischal Road, although that turning was lost with the construction of the Mercator Estate in the 1960s.

By 1911, though the name over the window of the florist shop was still Thomas, his son son, Levi (1867) was running the business.  Presumably Thomas had died, although there is no obvious record of this.  In the 1911 census he was living over the shop, listed as a ‘fruiterer, greengrocer and florist’ with 6 children including Levi (1890), George (1905) and Thomas (1907).  Levi (1867) had moved around a lot since living in Deptford; they had lived in Ivy Terrace, close to St Stephen’s Church in Lewisham in 1891, although they’d been in Sidcup the year before where Levi (1890) was born.  They had spent much of the next 15 years near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, close to where his wife Susan hailed from.  He was working there as a market gardener.

Soon after Levi (1867) took over the business, it expanded into 85 High Road.  While it continued to be listed as a fruiterer, presumably also a greengrocer and florist, by 1925 there was change as the shop was listed as garden contractors too – presumably taking in the skills of the rest of the family too.

Levi (1867) was still  living at 87 in 1939 with his son Thomas (1905) who was listed as a motor van driver.  Next door at 85 was Levi (1889), with daughter Jessie (1912) and son Leonard (1915). Levi senior died in 1940, he was already widowed, and in his will of £1617 was left to sons Levi (1889), described as a florist, George and Thomas who were both listed as horticulturalists.

It is probably likely that brothers Levi (1889), Thomas and George, who in 1939 was listed as a Garden Contractor living in Morden Road in Blackheath, continued the business.  Levi(1889) had moved to the Isle or Wight by 1960, where he died.  It isn’t clear about George, but he may well have died in Beckenham in 1968.

The business was run by Thomas and his family from the 1960s, 85-87 was listed as a ‘Coppings Garden Centre’ or variants of this from 1965. The shop seems to have survived into the 1990s, while Thomas died in 1981, his sons Peter and Michael, along with the latter’s family took over the reins of running the shop.

By the 1990s 85-87 had become a shop selling aquarium and related supplies, run by Peter Copping.

Michael continued the gardening contracting business based on the Charlton/Woolwich borders, initially as Copping’s Landscapes then through Coppings (Maintenance) Ltd between 1995, and the death of Michael Copping in 2015. There are fond memories of working for the landscaping business in the late 1980s – ‘a rough tough crew.’

More recently the shop has become a Oriental food supermarket.

Notes

  • Kelly’s Directories are via the always helpful Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The postcard of Lee High Road is via eBay, March 2020

Thank you to Richard Sanderson for letting me know that the sign had appeared, without whom this post wouldn’t have happened. Thank you also to Syd Kennedy for making a link to the more recent gardening contracting business – see comments below.

Thank you also to Minnie Copping (see comment below) for helping join some of the strands of the story together.

Probably the First Shopping Parade in Lee – Part 2, the 20th Century & Beyond

In the first part of this post we looked at the early Victorian origins of the parade as it evolved from houses into shops. We’d seen gradual changes in the businesses reflecting Lee’s transformation from village to suburbia in the second half of the century. As we left it, it was a parade that seemed to be doing well – many of the shopkeepers able to afford to live in the suburban houses with servants.

We return to the parade as the new century dawned, again looking at each shop until redevelopment happened in the 1960s.

183 Lee High Road

183 was the shop next door to the Woodman; at the end of Victoria’s reign it was an Oil and Colourman, a paint seller, run by Frank Attfield. Frank Attfield’s name was to remain over the window until the late 1920s. Frank had retired by 1911 and the business was being run by his son, William, born in 1881. Both were living at 247 Lee High Road a house that was close to the corner of Lee Park – they had lived there since 1901. It is visible from Frank’s era in the postcard below.

Frank died in in 1938, he was buried at Hither Green Cemetery. At the time he was living at 14 Southbrook Road and left an estate of £15072 to William and his brother Edwin. It was a house he bought a couple of decades before.

William’s name stayed over the window until around 1950, when he would have been 69. However, other than his marriage to Dorothy in 1919, the trail goes cold on him.

Electrical Contractor Sidney Folkard was briefly there in the early 1960s, but the shop seems to have been empty after that.

185 Lee High Road

We’d left 185 with the name John Henry Churcher over the window of a carving and gilding business – essentially a picture framer. Living above the shop in 1901 though were Frederick Morse from Camberwell (41), his wife Marian and 7 children, the oldest (15) was also Frederick and worked the business too. Presumably Morse was Churcher’s manager as his name was above the window by 1911, with Churcher trading in Lewisham High Street by then.

The shop was empty in 1920. It had become a confectioner by 1925, known as Cox and Son – a trade that it continued in for most of the rest of the life. By 1939 Kathleen Latter lived there with husband Arthur who was a clerk elsewhere. She had gone before the end of the war – like a lot of confectioners seeming to struggle due to rationing. A series of names were over the window post World War Two – James Day in the 1950s, George Moiler by 1960, and J Atkinson in the 1960s. After that only Glenview Driving School got a mention in the depleted Kelly’s Directories.

187 Lee High Road

187 was a shop that stayed in the same trade, a butchers, throughout its history. Thomas Spearing straddled the turning of the centuries. He had been born in Redhill, Surrey in 1875, but he only lasted until few years into the new century before moving to south west London. In 1911 James Plummer (33) from Croydon was there; he had probably moved there by 1907 as all four of his young children were born in Lee.

Following James Plummer were Joseph Moore and Ernest Knifton, but they only lasted a few years each. Frederick Roy Nicholls was there by the time war broke out with wife Lilian assisting in the shop. Frederick died in 1962, when he was 66, and was probably running the shop until his death. Nothing obvious replaced the business.

189 Lee High Road

We’d left 189 with the name Harry Willson and Co, tailors, over the window.  The Wilsons had moved on by 1900 and there was a new trade – a boot and shoe dealer run by Louis George Brunning.  This was an expansion from the final shop in the parade at the corner of Lee Church Street, 205, where they ran an outfitters.  We will cover the Brunnings there.  J H Dodd took over the boot and shoe shop by 1911, although they were gone by the time World War 1 broke out and the shop was closed until the early 1920s.

There was a new trade by 1925, Pianoforte maker, which seems to have sold classical records too (1). The business was run by William Salisbury who had been carrying out the same business from 191 for at least a decade. Salisbury was born in 1868 and seems to have stayed at 189 until his death in 1942. Three years before he was there with wife Ethel, born in 1885; also there in 1939 was their son, also William (25); who was listed as ‘student, seeking work’ and Kate Bunyan who assisted in the shop. Kate was Ethel’s sister and later married James Salisbury who was presumably her nephew. The business continued until the end of the war, but the shop was empty in 1950 and remained so, seemingly for the rest of the building’s life.

191 Lee High Road

By the beginning of the century, Robert Oates’ drapers had expanded into the shop, that business is covered at 193, but pictured above, 191 is at the very left of the postcard.

The shop was empty in 1911 as Robert Oates sold up and the incoming draper, A Seymour, went back to two shops, which we’ll cover below. In 1915 a piano maker moved in, William Salisbury, it is a name that have already been covered – William spent most of their time on the parade next door at 189. The musical chairs of shop leases continued, no doubt accompanied by William Salisbury at the piano. Seymour’s took over 191 again when Salisbury moved next door – we’ll cover them at 193.

When Seymour sold up in the 1930s, 191 but not the rest of their mini empire, was taken over by the builder and plumber Benjamin Chapman who has been born in 1895. In 1939 he lived there with his wife Lilian and two others, whose entries were redacted – maybe young children who hadn’t been evacuated. The Chapmans had moved on before the end of the war and the shop was empty in 1945. Model Aircraft dealers, Prendergast and Co, took up residence for the sale of Airfix by 1950 and remained there into the 1970s.

193 & 195 Lee High Road

The drapers of Robert Oates had been a feature of this part of Lee High Road since 1881, like many well to do shopkeepers they had ceased living over the shop and had moved to 239 Lee High Road – a house that was between Lee Park and Dacre Park (then Turner Road).  They had expanded into 191 and in the 1901 census 191-195 was home to Sarah Gilham and Blanche Wallis who worked in the shop, plus three servants – presumably for the family home.

In 1910, Oates seems to have sold the lease up to Edwin Seymour (also referred to by his middle name Augustus); Oates remained in the area until his death in 1921. Oddly, Oates didn’t sell the stock to Seymour – that was bought up by Chiesmans in Lewisham for a very precise 43.875% off list price by tender, presumably Seymour had offered less and was offered for sale in their Lewisham town centre shop in April (2).

Seymour would have been in his last 20s when he took over the business – he initially contracted a little, focussing the business on 193 and 195 with 191 being empty in 1911.

Seymour came from Spalding in Lincolnshire and in 1911 he was living over the shops with his wife Ellen; her parents; a servant, Rose Hardey, Carrie Simmonds who worked in the shop, and the Seymour’s young son Jack, born in Lee in 1908.

The Seymours’ business had expanded back into 191 by 1925. Seymour’s father, also Edwin Augustus, was living over the shop when he died in 1932. Perhaps soon after they moved home although not the business, as by the time the 1939 Register was compiled they were living at 21 Manor Lane, with a draper’s assistant. However, it seems that the shop wasn’t to last much longer when the 1940 Kelly’s Directory was compiled the shop was empty – maybe an early victim of rationing. It remained empty until the late 1940s when Builders Merchants William Ashby and Son moved in, taking on 193-201. They had gone by 1960 and seem to have been the last tenants.

197 & 199 Lee High Road

Charles Hopwood was running a long standing ironmongers at the beginning of the 1900s, although he seems to have extended his business and in the 1901 census was listed as a Sports Good Manufacturer living in Brandram Road. He seems to have moved to 61 Eltham Road – now part of the Ravens Way estate and opposite Leybridge Court – but died just before the census of 1911.

Presumably the new business was why he sold up as by 1905 there was a new name at 197 & 199, but same business – Percy Winkworth’s name was over the window of the iornmongers; it wasn’t a name to last long – the shop was trading as Lee General and Furnishing, still basically an ironmonger a couple of years later but by 1916 it was empty. It is pictured above from the corner of Bankwell Road (built 1907) next to development which included the short lived cinema Lee Picture Palace, which opened in 1910.

By the mid-1920s there was a timber merchant, trading as Woodworkers Supply Company which lasted into World War 2, but empty again by the end of it.

During the 1950s, it was used by the sprawling empire of William Ashby’s Builders Merchants. However, that was closed by 1960 and 197 was home to Vanguard Engineering, although that had gone by 1965. For a while, the business premises were shared with the printers Dickson and Scudamore. The Scudamore was George who was the younger son of Cornelius Scudamore, who was the architect for the large-scale local builder, W J Scudamore. The Dickson was George’s brother in law, Maxwell.

201 Lee High Road

William Button had been selling sweets to the people of Lee since around 1894 though, born in Greenwich around 1853 he was there with his wife Sarah and three daughters when the 1901 census was collected.

Button was replaced by John Moors by 1911, although he was not listing as living over the shop (or seemingly anywhere else for that matter). The name remained over the window until the 1930s – although by the outbreak of the war he seems to have been listed as a Snack Bar Manager living in Forest Hill.  Maybe the parade couldn’t cope with two confectioners after Cox and Son opened at 185 in the mid-1920s.

In the mid 1930s someone called Newson was running the shop as a greengrocers – but was seeking offers in the region of £150 for the business, noting an annual rent of £70 (3).

By 1939 James Moulden was selling fruit– it wasn’t a business that lasted long as by the time the war ended, it was part of Ainslie and Sons based at 199. Like 199 it became part of William Ashby’s Builders Merchants, but when that closed in the 1950s, it seems to have remained empty thereafter.

205 Lee High Road

We had left 205 in 1901 when it was being run as an outfitter by Louis Brunning, he’d been there from the 1880s. By 1911 Louis had retired and was living in Bromley; his name still appeared over the shop window but it was his sons Herbert Welford and Leonard Godfrey Brunning who were running the business. Louis died in 1927, but by 1925 the brothers’ names appeared. Leonard died in 1934 and his name disappeared in subsequent Kelly’s Directories soon after.

The business seems to have remained in the family until Herbert’s death in 1956. The shop was empty in 1960.

Lee Service Station and Costcutter

It was clear that the parade had been on the decline since the end of World War One something probably exacerbated by the shiny new shops of Market Parade opposite which had opened in the 1930s.

Kelly’s Directories listed very few of the shops from around 1965, in a way that wasn’t the case with the parades on the south of Lee High Road, notably Market Parade opposite. This was probably because the shops were not let – perhaps beyond their useful life; requirements to pay to go into Kelly’s didn’t happen until the 1980s. The exceptions were J Atkinson, the confectioners at 185 and Prendergast & Co., Model Aircraft Dealers at 191 that lasted until around 1970.

By this stage the eastern end of the parade had presumably been demolished – it was listed as Carris Service Station from 1965, perhaps trading a year or two earlier. Carris Motors had been around for a while, there were several members of the Pilmore Bedford family who owned and ran the firm listed as running motor trade businesses in the 1939 Register, including a couple in adjacent houses in Bromley Road. The company Carris Motors was first registered in 1946. By 1953 they were based at Lewisham Bridge, where the DLR station is now situated, selling cars and light commercial vehicles as well as servicing and repairs. They seem to have sold Hillman, Humber and Sunbeam at that stage, all part of the Rootes Group.

The operation in Lee High Road is listed in Kelly’s ‘Carris Service Stations Ltd. – Motor Garage & Service Station.’ So it isn’t clear which elements of the business it included, but probably not sales. That moved on to Bromley Road in the 1960s, initially with the same Rootes brands, but by the late 1980s it had becomea Vauxhall dealership, then in competition with Lee Green’s Penfolds. They seem to have made the mistake of switching to the post British Leyland Rover by 1995 and had ceased trading by 1999.

By 1970 it seems that either Carris had sold up or it had been re-badged as Lee Filling Station.  While it is has gone through various incarnations in terms of names it has been a BP garage for most of that time, surviving in a market that the supermarkets have muscled into.  During the 1990s it expanded its range of goods initially selling newspapers and related goods and then becoming a Marks and Spencer food franchise, the current buildings being constructed in the early 2000s. Ironically, as we saw in relation to Market Terrace whose completion had caused problems for the older shops on the north of Lee High Road, itself suffered from the Marks and Spencer franchise.

At the other end of the former parade, 183-185, next to the Woodman is a block that received planning permission in 1993, but completed in 1999.  Since then it has always been a Costcutter Supermarket.  It has three stories of flats above it – significantly higher than the shops that preceded it but similar to the adjacent former Woodman.

Notes

  1. Norwood News 16 December 1927
  2. Kentish Mercury 22 April 1910
  3. Sheffield Independent 10 March 1936

Credits

  • The postcard of the parade showing Oates drapers is from the authors own ‘collection’
  • Kelly’s Directories are via the always helpful Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The postcard of the Woodman is via eBay in October 2016
  • The postcard from the corner of Bankwell Road is courtesy of Luke Anthony Briscoe on Facebook

Probably the First Shopping Parade in Lee – Part 1, the 19th Century

About a third of the way from Lewisham to Lee Green is a petrol station which sits between two pubs – The Woodman, which closed a while ago and The Swan, re-badged a few years ago as Elements Bar.  It was the location of one of the earliest shopping parades in Lee certainly dating back to at least the 1840s, probably slightly earlier.  This first part will covered the 19th century, with the second bringing the story up to the 2020s.

Prior to its building, the land had been part of the Lee Place estate which was broken up and sold in lots in the mid-1820s. The most obvious change that this brought with it was the main road bypassing what is now known as Old Road.  The area to the north of the shops was developed for servants housing and known as Lee New Town.

The road the shops were on was not called the High Road yet; in 1841 it was still referred to as ‘New Road’, presumably to distinguish it from Old Road – the numbering was east to west 1 to 14 which was the The Woodman.

By the 1851 census, the parade next to the pub was referred to as Durham Place.  This was after the first publican of the pub next door, The Woodman, Alexander Durham.  The Durham family owned the pub until the mid-1860s.

The easterly part of the parade was later referred to as Manks Place, the derivation for this isn’t clear; the numbering went in the opposite direction to Durham Place.  It was known as 183 to 205 High Road from the late 1880s  (the prefix Lee was added in the 20th century).  To prevent confusion, we will refer to it by the 20th century numbering!

The layout on the properties is shown in the 1860s Ordnance Survey map above, which predated the redevelopment of the Woodman which is helpfully dated on the side. It seems likely that the properties were built as houses and became shops as was the case at 1-19 and 2-30 Burnt Ash Road around 40 years later.

183 Lee High Road

In 1841, the business next to the Woodman was run by George Baker, who was subject to nominative determinism and was a baker aged 45.  The bakery was still there in 1851 but, alas, Charles Watson who hailed from Stanstead in Essex was now running it, he seems to have moved to Lee the previous year based on the ages and birthplaces of his children; he was 35.

A decade later, 183 was still a baker but the proprietor had changed to Elizabeth Clarke, who was 52 and came from Surrey and was there with here three children. In was still a bakery in 1871, now run by James Case (although the handwriting was terrible) who was running the business with his son, also James, who hailed from Eltham.

During the 1870s the business changed – it was ‘home’ to Frank Attfield, an oil and colourman – a paint seller.  It was to be a business that stayed at 183 for several decades.  Frank was born in Camberwell in 1855, but his family moved to Lee by 1858 and in 1871 was living in Brandram Road with his parents. In 1881 also there was his wife Emma plus 3 children including William Cator Attfield who was to later take over the business, he was just 8 months old in 1881.  Frank and Emma married in Sudbury in Suffolk in 1876. The business was good enough to be able to afford to move out to the then newly built 9 Aislibie Road by 1891.

185 Lee High Road

In 1841 John Hearns, 51, was selling shoes to the people of Lee – it isn’t clear whether he made and repaired them too.  Hearns, who hailed from Greenwich was still there in 1851 with his wife, Hannah from Deptford.  The 1861 census was a little unclear, but it is likely that the shop was empty.

By 1871, it may have reverted to a house and was home to William Joyce, a plumber.  A decade later, John Churcher, born in 1846, was trading there as an upholsterer.   He came from Hampshire and lived there with his wife, Martha, plus two young children

Churcher was there until the first decade of the 20th century although changed his trade to cabinet maker (1884), picture frame maker (1888) and carver and gilder by 1894.  In practical terms this was the same thing as we saw with the Stimpsons in Lee Road

Like his next door neighbour, business was good enough to be able to move from above the shop, he was living at 23 Ennersdale Road in 1891 and 20 Eastdown Park in 1901.

187 Lee High Road

187 was a shop that seems to have stayed in the same trade throughout its life – in 1841 the butchers in rural Lee was run by Richard Howarth (the handwriting isn’t completely clear though) with a live-in assistant and his wife Mary.  By 1851 the trade was being carried out by Richard Hancock (born 1815) from Somerset, with a couple of shop assistants; he was still there in 1861 and doing well – he had married local woman Hannah – they had four children and four servants.

Richard died in 1867, and the lease was transferred to his widow Hannah Hancock was still running the shop in the 1871 census with two sons who assisted with the business.  Her sister in law plus a servant completed the household.

William Hardstone (30) wore the butcher’s apron in 1881.  He was from farming stock in the then rural St Mary Cray where he was working as a farm labourer a decade before.   Brother George and sister Sarah were working at 187 as butcher and bookkeeper respectively.  Two other butchers were living over the shop along with a servant.

By 1888 Chandler and Sons were there or at least Henry Fuller Chandler (31) from Surrey was running the butchers.  Who the sons were isn’t clear, Henry only had young children – maybe he was the ‘Son’ in a bigger business. A couple of young butchers and a domestic servant also lived there.

As the century drew to a close Thomas Spearing from Redhill in Surrey was wearing the butcher’s apron. The shop, from a little later, is where the height of the buildings in the postcard below slightly increases.

189 Lee High Road

In 1841 Thomas Chipperfield was trading as a linen draper; it wasn’t a business with any degree of longevity though as the next time the census enumerators called John Genery, 46, (the writing isn’t clear) was working as a corn dealer.  This would have been largely horse related supplies rather than seeds for local farms, such as the one at Lee Green and Lee Manor Farm on what is now Manor Lane Terrace.  Genery was from Deptford, and his wife {Phoebe (45) hailed from Cambridgeshire.  In 1861 someone called Harries seemed to there, but the rest of the entry is illegible.

In 1867 the trade changed and Henry Bullesback (56) took over the shop as a tailor and outfitter.   He came from Prussia, now Germany.  He had been in the area since at least 1860 he was listed in the 1861 census as being at Lee Green, along with his Derbyshire born wife, Emma and a young son.  

Henry was made bankrupt in 1868, when he had been living at 1 Lee Park.  This probably led to the family all living over the shop by 1871 where they seem to have remained until around 1895 when the name Harry Wilson and Co was over the window. They described themselves as ‘Scientific Tailors’ seemingly referring to the use of geometry in their trade (1).

191 Lee High Road

In 1841 the shop was a grocer, run by George Gates and his wife Hannah.  By 1851 the shop was still a grocer but now being run by Richard Marsh (36) was there wife Ruth, 4 of their own children and two step children. They had been at 195 in 1841 carrying out the same trade.  Richard had added ‘cheese monger’ to grocer by 1861, his daughters Emma (1842) and Sarah Jane (1846) had moved back into the flat above the shop by 1891, assisting with the business.  

Richard died in 1892 and while Emma and Sarah Jane continued the business for a few more years, they had gone by the turn of the century. The new proprietor was Robert Oates who had enlarged his drapery business from 193-195 to which we will now turn.

193 & 195 Lee High Road

We’ll cover these two shops as one, as for most of their life they were used as a single shop. In 1841 it appears that 193 was yet to be a shop and was home to the Thomas Sidery, a bricklayer born in Lee in 1820.  While we can’t be sure, it assumed that he was part of the extensive multi-generational building family, covered in relation to the Firs Estate.

A decade later it seems to have become a shop run by Thomas Freer (48) who was a stationer from Bridport, he lived there his wife, Eliza, 50, from Poole. The 1861 census was somewhat confused in terms of numbering but seems to have been the first time that Thomas Hoys fishmongers appeared on the parade – they are more associated with 203, so we’ll cover them there.

Next door, as we’ve already seen, Richard Marsh was at 195, in 1841.  A decade later it was ‘home’ to James Mouton’s business as a cordwainer, a shoemaker; he came from just up the road in Eltham.

By 1871 both 193 and 195 were let as one by James Turner who was a draper.  Turner hailed from Andover and was a widow; at the time of the census he was there with three children under 10, three assistants, presumably the ‘three hands’ mentioned in the census. There were two servants too.

The shops were still a drapery in 1881, but there was a new name on the awnings over the window – Robert Oates, from Andover; he was listed in the census as being a ‘draper employing 16.’  He was 36 (born in 1845) and there with wife Sarah, 2 children, 2 servants plus Louisa who worked in the shop. Oates was still trading there a decade later but no longer living over the shop; he had moved to 239 Lee High Road – a large house that was between Lee Park and Dacre Park (then Turner Road). Some of Oates’ employees, three dressmakers, were living at 193/195 in 18910

Oates was a regular user of the local press to advertise new goods and sales – such as the summer sale of 1899 (2). 

By the turn of the century the shop had expanded into 191, which as we have seen had previously been a grocery run by the Marsh family. The Oates ’empire’ is pictured below, probably from around 1908.

197 & 199 Lee High Road

As with 193 & 195, this pair of shops spent much of their lives being operated as single businesses, so they’ll be treated as one here.

The writing and subsequent scanning was poor with both the 1841 and 1851 censuses – the 1841 entries appear to suggest that a shoemaker, James Feltham, and Matthew Simcock with an indecipherable business were plying their trade there in 1841.  By 1851, 197 appears to have been home to a draper’s shop run by George Cannon, although 199 seems to have been empty.

By 1861 though trade and joining of the two premises was clear – John Aldous was running a smithy and iron monger, the former part no doubt shoeing the horses of the district. Aldous came from Suffolk lived there with his wife, Mary from Shropshire – they’d married in Lewisham in 1840. They were still listed in 1871 as an ‘iron monger employing 9 men and 4 boys.’

There was a new man in the shops by 1881, Charles Hopwood, also an ironmonger ‘employing 6 men and 2 boys’ – he was 25 and from Colchester in Essex, and lived there with his sister. He’d moved his home to 46 Brandram Road by 1887, where he was still living in 1901. 

The shop is pictured above, to the right of Oates drapery – its from a year or two after Hopwood moved on in the early 1900s.

201 Lee High Road

The 1841 census isn’t particularly clear at this end of what was then New Road with seemingly four numbers for what were later three properties, the writing was impossible to decipher anyway.  However, it was to be some time before the property became a shop, it was residential in 1851 and an overcrowded lodging house in 1861.

By 1871, it seemed gone the way of the rest of the terrace and was being used as a drapers, run by Welshman  Charles Edwards (35) – he was living there with wife Elizabeth (40), she from Cranbrook in Kent.  The Edwards had gone by 1881 and it was still empty when the 1884 Kelly’s Directory was produced.

Arthur Herringway had opened a confectioners there by 1888, although seems to have sold up to a German national, Christian Beckhauser (the handwriting was poor so the spelling may be incorrect) by 1891, his stay was a short one as Greenwich man  William Button was there by 1894 still selling sweets and chocolates – probably not chocolate buttons though – they were much later.

203 Lee High Road

Like 201, most of the earlier years of its existence saw 203 being used as a house rather than a shop.  In 1841, it was the home to Benjamin Wainwright who was a shoemaker.  A decade later Esther Ward (24) was there, described as a ‘builder’s wife’ – she was probably widowed as her brother William Brown (19) marked as builder employing 11 men and 3 boys.  There were also a lot of other family members there.  By 1861 there were two households – both headed by servants for the larger houses of the district- a gardener and a coachman.

By 1871 though the Thomas Gray Hoys was there selling fish and poultry – he had been further up the parade in 1861; he was there with his wife Mary Ann along with a servant and an assistant in the shop.  The family is listed as living in Eltham by 1881, although the census is unclear and a neighbouring census reference to St Peter’s probably means that they were on Eltham Road.   The business was probably passed to Hoys son, also Thomas Gray Hoys, who in 1901 was living at 34 Effingham Road.  However, Thomas Senior died in 1903, and the name continued over the shops for another few years.

205 Lee High Road

This was a property on the corner of Lee Church Street.  In 1841 and 1851 it seemed to be still residential, home to Richard Page, a plumber and glazier.  By 1861, it was a grocer run by Charles Hudson, he also sold oil for lamps.  He was 21 and hailed from Deptford and lived there with his wife Mathilda who was from Lee.

By 1871 the trades were similar. grocer and cheesemonger, although the proprietor had changed – it was now  John Green and his wife, Elizabeth who came from East Farleigh in Kent. A decade later the grocer’s apron was worn by David Kennard from Maidstone Kent, there with wife young son and his father.

Before the end of the 1880s a surname and trade was to appear that was to remain until the 1950s – Brunning an outfitter; initially it was Louis George Brunning.  While not moving to Lee High Road until around 1888, they had been trading as a bootmaker at 99 Lewisham High Street since at least 1881.   They are listed in the census in 1901 when he was there with his wife Annie, from Holloway plus 6 children, including Herbert (1879) who was working as a tailors cutter and a 7 year old Leonard Geoffrey. 

We’ll return to the Parade next time to look at the 20th century and beyond. As the century changed, it seemed to be in a relatively healthy position – empty shops were rare and many of the shopkeepers able to afford to live in some of the larger homes of Lee and employ servants. The birth places, particularly in the years after the railway arrived, showed the levels of migration into Lee from places all over the country.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 27 December 1895
  2. Kentish Mercury 14 July 1899

Credits

  • The postcard of the parade showing Oates drapers is from the authors own ‘collection’
  • Kelly’s Directories are via the always helpful Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • Census and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)
  • The postcard of the Woodman is via eBay in October 2016

Lee Court – Art Deco Housing for Young Professionals

There are a small number of very attractive 1930s Art Deco buildings in and around Lee; Running Past has covered a couple of them in passing – Dowson Court on Belmont Grove and Woodstock Court on the corner of Burnt Ash Hill and Woodyates Road. We turn our attention to, perhaps the most impressive of them, Lee Court on Lee High Road.

Lee Court occupies a prominent location on the north side Lee High Road, just to the east of the currently closed Rose of Lee/Dirty South, its lines follow the gentle curve of the main road.  It is next door to Lee Green Telephone Exchange.

After being farmland, it became part of the grounds of Hurst Lodge (pictured above) one of a pair of mansions, the other being Lee Lodge.  There was a specific post on these houses and what came after them a while ago.  Hurst Lodge was inhabited until the mid-1920s, but was then bought by Patterson Edwards who made toys, including rocking horses

It seems that Patterson Edwards saw the housing development potential of the edge of the site and sold off a narrow sliver of land, in the same way that previous owners of Lee Lodge had cashed in on land for Manor Park Parade (to the right of the postcard below) a couple of decades earlier.

Source eBay Dec 2019

It is not clear who built or designed the flats, but by the early 1930s there was an elegant four storey Art Deco mansion block of 48 flats with a small estate office at the western end. There are six sections, each with its own stairwell and originally all the flats had Crittall steel framed windows – a small number of which seem to remain.  Buildings of this type and age are a rarity in Lewisham, and while the current freeholders have neglected the exterior a little, it should have been locally listed years ago; this finally happened in 2020, although as we will see later this tardiness will have a long term impact. 

The 1939 Register was collected a few years after building was finished and gives some idea as to who was living there. Looking at flats 1-24 it is striking that there were no children; while with evacuation a month before the Register was collected, few were to be expected, in most of the other locations that Running Past has used the 1939 Register for, a few remained. This was certainly the case at Verdant Lane estate, which was built at around the same time.

The reason is probably that relatively young professionals predominated – there were few manual workers with caretaker George Lester at Flat 1 and the lodgers with the Harlands at 22 – a driver and a packer for a chemist being the exceptions. Unlike a lot of the other locations a lot of the women worked – Ethel Harland was a model, there were a trio of typists at Flat 5 and a couple of clerks. The jobs of the men included draughtsman, pub landlord, research physicist and several clerks. There were no ‘Heavy work’ suffixes which would have offered extra rations.

Households were small, the Harlands with 4 was the biggest, most though were single people and couples though.  There were a surprising number of single person redacted households.  It is not clear why, all were probably relatively young though.

In the recent past there have been relatively few sales – only two in last couple of years (to end of April 2021), most are owned by individuals, many as buy to let, although there are a handful of company let’s and one leased by Lewisham Homes.

The visual impact of the building is about to be significantly lessened as planning permission was granted for an additional storey on the roof in September 2020 after a more modest approval to extend the Estate Office upwards was allowed to lapse.  The Estate Office will be demolished in the proposals.

While it is now locally listed, as the application was made before that local listing came into force it might as well not be.  Although as was the case with the now demolished gas holders at Bell Green, local listing often counts for very little.

The financial benefits of the development will pass to the freeholders of the block, Grandpex Company Ltd. They seem to have bought, through mortgages, the freeholds of around 21 blocks bought at various stages since the early 1950s. The charge on Lee Court dates from late 1998.

Lewisham needs extra homes and building additional storeys on existing blocks is often a good way of doing this – the rather unattractive block of shops in the south western quadrant of Lee Green was probably enhanced by this. It is not that different to the hundreds of loft conversions in the area. However, this is probably not the block to do it to. However, in the context of there being no local listing at the time the application was made there was probably little that either Planning Officers or the Planning Committee could do other than approve the application.

Picture and Other Credits

  • The postcard of Manor Park Parade is via eBay in December 2019
  • The photograph of Hurst Lodge, is from the collection of Lewisham Achives it is used with their permission and remains their copyright
  • The architects drawing of the additional storey to the block are via Lewisham Planning Portal
  • 1939 Register Data is via Find My Past (Subscription required)
  • The photo of the Estate Office is via StreetView as is is currently so overgrown
  • The details of ownership is via Nimbus Maps, registration required

The Rose of Lee, latterly the Dirty South, a closed Lee High Road Pub

On a bend in Lee High Road going towards Lewisham from Lee Green an attractive late Victorian pub dominates. Currently badged the Dirty South, it has been empty since March 2020, seemingly a victim of COVID-19.  It has some lovely architectural detail (including the original brass clock) and a fascinating history, most of it when called the Rose of Lee.

It is a pub that seems to have first opened its doors in 1859 with a licence granted to William Baker (1). The area around had started to be developed in earnest from the 1850s after the opening of Lewisham station in 1849, although there was earlier ribbon development along Lee High Road.  The area that is now the Mercator Estate was developed in the 1850s and a Baptist chapel opened on the corner of Eastdown Park in 1854, along with Christ Church in Lee Park the same year.  With the spiritual needs being met it is not surprising that there would be an attempt to meet the drinking requirements of the relatively wealthy locals.    

The early years seemed to be a struggle for licencees and Henry Taunton took over in 1861 (2).  By the autumn of the following year, possibly before, John Maywood Lee was there and had applied unsuccessfully for a music and dancing licence (3).  The same application was repeated a year latter with a sympathetic local press noting a ‘strong case’ and no opposition, but the magistrate was unsympathetic (4).

Lee moved on by July 1864 with the 25 year old William Hart Wildee taking on the licence (5). He had previously had the licence of The Victory in Kingsland Road from 1861, which he seems to have inherited from his father (6).   

Wildee seems to have wanted to make better use of the large space that the Rose of Lee offered – attempting to generate more regular income from the function room above.  It was described in the press as a “ventilated room 75’ by 26’ ft (24 x 9 m) suitable for ‘first rate club or society.’” Its availability for excursion parties and bean feasts was noted too (7). 

The magistrates seemed to take up the offer (8); in an era where few public buildings courts were often held in hotels and larger public houses, as we saw with the Green Man on Blackheath in relation to the Blackheath Pedestrian.  The Rose of Lee was also regularly used for auctions – such as one for a range of building materials in June 1868 (9).

William Wildee attempted unsuccessfully to sell the lease in 1866 – the Rose of Lee was described as ‘a modern structure and replete with every convenience for carrying out a profitable trade’ (10).  The implication seeming to be that while there was potential, money wasn’t being made.

Wildee’s tenure didn’t last much longer as it was cut short by his death in early 1867 at the Rose of Lee.  His assets which included the lease passed to his wife, Harriet.  While she took over the licence she sold up to George Taylor in the autumn of 1867 (11) – he was to be 6th name above the door in 8 years.

George Taylor’s tenure ended with eviction, although this seems to have been something of a formality as he was reported to have abandoned the pub and fled the country – perhaps with large debts and wanting to avoid the debtors’ prison.  The Rose of Lee was left empty for a ‘considerable period’ before a new licensee arrived – the licence was granted to either someone called John Steib (12) or by John Scott, an experienced publican who had run two pubs before for a total of 10 years (13), depending on the newspaper.

A much later sign….

John Steib was certainly a licensee there as he was replaced by James Philip Janes in 1872 (14). Janes would have been 21 when he took over the tenancy, he too struggled and by 1873 James Martin’s name was on the brass plate over the door (15). By early 1874 William Edgington was granted the licence after pub had been ‘closed’ by the late tenant, presumably Martin (16).   Edgington’s tenure was even shorter, Walter Pool was the new landlord by September 1874 (17).

The Rose of Lee was becoming a graveyard for publicans some who had success elsewhere – James Janes did so elsewhere in Woolwich and New Cross and by the 1881 census he was living on Lewisham High Street and described as a ‘Retired Licensed Victualler’ and employing three servants.

Pool seemed to make a little more of go lasting until around 1879 before Edward Slater took over the licence (18).  Slater, from Wednesbury in the Black Country, was there when the 1881 census enumerators called, along with two nieces and a barman. The licensee and owner (19) by 1886 was Frank Wilson though.

While music and dancing licences had been rejected in the 1860s, they had certainly been granted by the 1885. One of the relatively regular users of rooms there were Lewisham Hare and Hounds, a forerunner of Kent AC. The club had a handicapped race from their Hither Green Hall base (listed as Patches Lane, which seems to have been part of Hither Green Lane) with ‘smoking concert’ at the Rose of Lee afterwards (20).  It was used by other sports clubs for similar purposes, including Blackheath and Lee Cricket Club (21).

Frank Wilson had taken over both the licence and the ownership of the Rose of Lee probably from around 1883 when one of his children was born in Lee. The family had spent time in Aden (now Yemen) before that. In the 1891 census Frank was there with his wife, Alice, six children and a barmaid – Ada Sidery.  Ada was a local woman and was one of at least 12 children of the builder William Sidery and had grown up 100 metres down Lee High Road (next door to the Baptist Chapel, later site of Fry’s and Penfolds parts and servicing).

Frank Wilson sold up to Thomas Henry Cook in 1896 (22); Cook seems to have been behind the rebuilding of the Rose of Lee. Several prominent local pubs had been rebuilt in the late 1880s and 1890s – notably The Sultan, close to Lewisham, The Woodman further up Lee High Road, along with the Old and New Tigers Head pubs at Lee Green. Plans were submitted to the Parish surveyor in 1897 (23). However, it wasn’t until 1900 when plans were approved by local magistrates (24).

No photographs seem to exist of the original Rose of Lee, but the changes are obvious from the ‘footprint’ of the pub from 1863 (left) and 1914 (right) Ordnance Survey maps.

The changes seem to have enabled the pub to have a billiards club which saw regular exhibition matches, the were appearances from some of the well-known professional players of the day. In 1906 this included Bert Elphick (25) who was to become the Billiards Professionals’ Association Champion a few years later and Walter Lovejoy (26) who had recently turned professional after winning the amateur championship in 1904.

Other clubs and societies met there too – Lee Rovers Cycle Club (27) had already moved there from the alcohol free Jubilee Coffee Tavern near Lee Green. With the Lee Excelsior Musical Society (28) meeting there as well. The pub was home too to several Masonic Lodges, including the Lee Lodge of Instruction which had links to another lodge at Eltham Palace (29).

Source eBay Dec 2019

Cook was born in 1861 in the City and in the 1901 census was listed as being at the Rose of Lee living with his wife, Maud, four children, some extended family, two servants and four bar staff. Unless Thomas Cook was living way beyond his means, it seemed that the pub was a thriving business and had moved way beyond the trials and tribulations of his predecessors.

Cook was fined in 1903 for selling alcohol to a drunk, despite evidence to the contrary but the magistrates believed the police (30).

Cook must have moved on soon after as the 1905 Kelly’s Directory listed a Hugh William Shannon as being the landlord. Although Adrian Bailey had taken over by the end of 1905 (31) and like Cook, received a fine for selling alcohol to a drunk the following year (32).

Bailey there until December 1909 – the date was mentioned in case where his wife, Emily, was seeking divorce, citing cruelty.  These were allegations that he denied, and the petition was dismissed (33). By the end of the war they were divorced though, Emily had moved in with a former regular at the Rose of Lee and Bailey, then an army Lieutenant, hired a private detective to get the evidence (34).

Thomas Robinson there in 1911 and is listed in the census with his wife, Edith, two young children, two servants, three bar staff and a boarder. The Robinsons had moved on by 1916 and Kelly’s listed George Poole as the man pulling pints.

Source eBay Oct 2019

George Poole and was to have his name in brass over the door until around the end of World War 2. Other than his 1939 Register entry, anything more of George’s life has proved difficult to track down – he was listed there as being born in 1872 and in 1939 was living there with his wife, Frances, a couple of bar staff and a cook.

By the 1945 Kelly’s Directory, the pub was listed as being run by Norriss Brothers, Caterers – who are listed until the early 1950s, after which the Directory doesn’t name who was there.

By the 1970s it was at least in part a music venue with bands playing regularly, its greatest claim to fame from this era was the first gig of Kate Bush in March 1977. The set list included a lot of covers including ‘Come Together’, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, ‘Tracks Of My Tears’, but some of her own songs including ‘James And The Cold Gun’, ‘Saxophone Song’ and ‘Them Heavy People’ which all appeared on her debut album.

Source eBay Jan 2021

There were lots of fond memories of the pub in the 1970s and 1980s from a Facebook thread – the upstairs room used for wedding receptions, a landlord called Austin from the early 1980s who continued the tradition of live music, a short-lived gym in the function room, soul and R&B nights on Sundays, and, of course, the odd lock in – although how on earth that would have been hidden with the frontage, goodness knows….

In the 1980s it became a sports bar known variously as the Sports, Hobgoblin and Dirty South.  It never seemed terribly inviting, a bar dominated by TV screens with a sparse number of drinkers looking out through the large windows. The landlords from the 1980s and beyond included Vickie & Steven Hill, Tony Coffey and Colin Taylor who ran the pub between 2001 and 2004 (there are several comments from Colin below, some of which has been included in the post).

From around 2004, the Rose of Lee re-invented itself as a rock and indie music venue, again badged as the Dirty South.   It was a venue which attracted a younger audience, it always seemed busy around the weekend with DJ sets, which included the likes of Tim Burgess from the Charlatans and Terry Hall of the Specials.

There were lots of live acts too – this included some significant names from the era as two snapshots in time from Google StreetView in 2008 and 2009 note – posters outside included gigs for Bloc Party, Bombay Bicycle Club, the Levellers, The Yards (a band that evolved from The Seahorses), Domino Bones (a band that featured Bez from the Happy Mondays) and Babyshambles, filmed below – warning the music is loud and of not great sound quality.  Alabama 3 also played there in 2010.

From around this time the upper floors started to be used for temporary housing hostel of various types – known as Rose House.

The pub was ransacked during the summer riots of 2011; while there main damage was to the windows at the front, it was enough to see the pub remained shut for around 5 years, with a full re-launch in 2017. It was a different clientele and age group it was aiming at – no longer primarily a music venue rather it seemed to have modelled itself on the same demographic as the seemingly successful Station Hotel on Staplehurst Road. 

From Facebook page

They offered a variety of fayre with an emphasis on food but music continued with jazz evenings and DJ sets, along with quiz nights and football on the TV.  The shutters went up at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown and never seemed to come off.  Its website is no more, and the Facebook page has been silent since 7 March 2020.

At the time of writing in early 2021, the building is squatted and with metal grilles over the windows at the front It is a forlorn looking sight – it is owned by Wellington, a company controlled by the ultra-rich Reuben Brothers, its future, like much of the pub sector, appears very uncertain in the current environment.

If you worked there or drank there, tell your story, who were the characters who propped up the bar, the landlord, the staff,  the atmosphere, the memorable nights, the particular celebrations that were held there, memories of the friends, the beers.  Post them below (you can use your Facebook or Twitter login – or via Facebook (if you found the post via here) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for ti to be ‘moderated’.  I will update the post with comments.  Anything libellous will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.

Notes

  1. The Era 2 October 1859
  2. The Era 17 February 1861
  3. Kentish Mercury 04 October 1862
  4. Kentish Mercury 24 October 1863
  5. Morning Advertiser 11 July 1864
  6. Morning Advertiser 13 March 1861
  7. Morning Advertiser 3 August 1864
  8. Kentish Gazette 22 September 1868
  9. Morning Advertiser 27 June 1868
  10. Morning Advertiser 26 November 1866
  11. The Era  – 17 November 1867
  12. Kentish Independent 19 August 1871
  13. Kentish Mercury 19 August 1871
  14. Morning Advertiser 12 February 1872
  15. Ken White (1992) The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham p236
  16. Kentish Mercury 16 May 1874
  17. White op cit p236
  18. ibid p236
  19. ibid p236
  20. The Sportsman 18 December 1885
  21. Kentish Mercury 14 January 1887
  22. Kentish Mercury 28 August 1896
  23. Kentish Independent 10 July 1897
  24. Kentish Mercury 11 May 1900
  25. Sporting Life 31 March 1906
  26. Sporting Life 5 May 1906
  27. Kentish Mercury 12 February 1897
  28. Kentish Mercury 08 November 1907
  29. Kentish Mercury 09 July 1909
  30. Kentish Mercury 27 February 1903
  31. Woolwich Gazette 15 December 1905
  32. Woolwich Gazette 30 March 1906
  33. Globe 9 November 1910
  34. Globe 23 July 1918

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 modern photograph of the pub is via StreetView from 2019
  • The Ordnance Survey maps are via the National Library of Scotland and are on a non-commercial licence
  • I have no idea where the photo of the pub sign came from, if it is your’s do let me know so I can credit your photography (or take it down if you’d prefer).

A massive thank you to Colin Taylor, landlord at the pub in the early 2000s and with much longer connections to the pub for his input – filling in some details and correcting me on a few things.

The Post Christmas Blitz on Lee Part 2 – 29 December 1940

In the first part of this post we looked at the post-Christmas Luftwaffe attacks on 27 December 1940 on Lee which saw numerous bombs dropped and homes destroyed on Aislibie Road, the misspelled road, named after Benjamin Aislabie – slave owner, awful cricketer and tenant of Lee Place.

While there was a lull the following evening, it seems that the Luftwaffe were just gearing up for an even bigger raid on 29 December, the aim of which seems to have been to put the fire services under a level of pressure that they would be unable to cope with and see London burning.

The attacks were much more concentrated in a small number of streets between Lee High Road and and Manor House Gardens. Most were incendiaries, and along with a few high explosive bombs, were dropped in a few minutes around 8:15 pm.

As we found with the post on the first night of the Blitz, it is worth remembering that not every incident was reported to the Air Raid Precautions (ARP), some being just reported to the Fire Brigade but others never going through official channels. One of the pages of incidents for the night of 29/30 December 1940 is show below.

The first attacks of the night in Lee started at around 7:25 pm in Blessingham Road, when a high explosive bomb hit the back garden of number 38. Elsewhere on the street another high explosive bomb injured two people. The street was to be decimated by a series of V-1 flying bombs later in the war and was developed, initially as prefabs, and in the early 1960s, as the Mercator Estate.

Fifty minutes later, Lee was on fire, the ARP logs note several dozen incendiaries being dropped at the same time, so we’ll look at the attack on a street by street basis. Aislibie Road (pictured below) which had suffered badly two nights before, was again hit. It was different houses this evening with 5, 13, 26, 30 and 39 all being bombed with roofs and upper floors damaged by the incendiary bombs, none were destroyed though.

Parallel to Aislibie Road, and the location of a devastating V-1 flying bomb three and a half years later, is Lenham Road which saw 5, 7, 10 and 28 all hit by incendiaries. The fires were successfully dealt with by local ARP and Fire Wardens.

Incendiary bombs rained down on neighbouring Brightfield Road with 32, 34, 42, 43, 49, 63 and 83 all hit by them (some are pictured below) – the fires were put out by wardens and the inhabitants, but many of the roofs were damaged.

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, the roof and upper floors of 24 Lampmead Road were damaged, as was 4 Hedgley Street. Taunton Road saw at least two attacks – number 60 was slightly damaged and 2 Thornhill Cottages saw its roof damamged. Thornhill Cottages was a terrace at the eastern end of Taunton Road between Burnt Ash Road and Hedgley Street seemingly on the present Sainsbury’s site.

At the opposite end of Manor House Gardens, 2, 44 and 61 Old Road plus Pentland House (pictured below) were all hit but Fire Wardens managed to deal with all four fires.

A little further along Lee High Road, number 345 was hit by another incendiary; ironically it had been a fire station up until 1906 when the one on Eltham Road opened, it is now a solicitors. The roof seems to have been damaged, and assuming that there was no damage on other occasions during the war, a central turret there was destroyed (there is a pre-damage photograph in the post on the fire station).

There was an explosive and incendiary combination dropped on Dacre Park at the same time and there were ‘several .. casualties in the road’ as a result.

Around fifteen minutes later at 8:30, a high explosive bomb hit Lee High Road between Old Road and Lochaber Road – there 5 casualties, including an ARP warden, with shrapnel damage to almshouses’ boundary wall that is still visible (along with a fading direction sign to an air raid shelter). The ARP warden was Henry Cottell of 41 Manor Lane Terrace who was to die later that evening in Lewisham Hospital – it was a house that seems to have been lost to the construction of Wolfram Close. Henry left behind two adult daughters and his wife Ann, who were there when the 1939 Register was collected.

Also at 8:30, Chiesman’s store repository at 87 Old Road was hit by a high explosive and incendiary combination – the ARP log noted that the repository was on fire. We’ll return to this incident later in the post.

One of the ARP Fire wardens for that part of Lee that night was Phyllis Noble (later Willmott), who lived at 49 Lampmead Road with her parents and grandparents. In the aftermath of the incendiaries being dropped, she and her brothers, who were also ARP Wardens, grabbed stirrup pumps, buckets and sandbags. ‘Incendiaries seemed to be everywhere, but so too were numerous fire watchers like ourselves.’ (1)

The first fire they dealt with was at the almshouses that stood at the corner Lampmead and Lee High Roads (pictured above) where a room had caught fire. They put out that and another in the neighbouring Methodist church, now the New Testament Church of God. Phyllis and her brothers spent the next few hours putting out fires in locations that didn’t even get a mention in the ARP log chasing ‘up and down stairs in the tall Victorian houses in the High Road.’ They reached Old Road and Chiesman’s Store depository by around midnight (2)

“As the red glow in the sky told us, there were still plenty of fires raging, including one in the furniture depository nearby. We went along to see if there was anything we could do there; giant tongues of red and gold flames were shooting skywards from the glowing building and clearly this was not work for us, in any case the firemen had already arrived.”

Had the Fire Brigade arrived earlier they may have been able to save 87 Old Road but it was largely destroyed.

Lee was probably only a stopping off place for the Luftwaffe as they headed towards the centre of the city. Later in the evening incendiaries rained down on central London in what was described as the Second Great Fire of London, the iconic picture of St Paul’s Cathedral amidst the smoke was from that night as 160 died and hundreds of buildings were destroyed in the capital.

Notes

  1. Phyllis Willmott (1988) Coming of Age in Wartime p50
  2. ibid

Credits

  • Most of the information for this post comes from the Lewisham ARP Log – it is a fascinating document, which is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives. It isn’t a complete record – some incidents were reported to the Fire Brigade rather than the APR and some incendiaries were dealt with by residents or Fire Wardens without ever reaching the ARP service – this is particularly the case on busy nights such as this.
  • The photograph of St Paul’s is via a Wikipedia Commons
  • The photograph of the Boone’s Almshouses and the page of the ARP Log are both from the collection of Lewisham Archives, both are used with permission and remain their copyright.

Lee’s Jubilee Coffee Tavern – The Pub Without Beer

Until around 1960, or perhaps a bit later, there was an attractive building on the corner of Lee High Road and Brightfield Road, which looked like a suburban bank building. Indeed, for most of its life that is exactly what it was, although it was built for an entirely different purpose – a temperance coffee house.

The Victorian temperance movement was quite active locally and had a base in the Lee Working Men’s Institution, initially in Boone Street and then in Old Road. There was a hall, a lending and reference library and reading room with books and newspapers. By the 1880s if offered concerts and entertainments, although nothing like the music hall operation of the Lee Public Halls near Lee Station.

A number of temperance groups attempted to recreate the Georgian coffee house scene, often near or adjacent to an existing public house. They were an attempt to

lure the working men from their pubs and the perils of demon drink …. (and attempted to show) there are beverages as comforting (and cheap) as beer.

The coffee taverns provided a range of games including billiards and pool along with newspapers in the hope that men would seek their entertainment (soberly) there.

The foundation for the Lee one was laid on 25 February 1888, although planning for it had started during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee the year before, hence the name given to it. Those involved included the local vicar and a Congregational Church minister from Blackheath (1).

At their peak around the mid-1890s, there were over sixty coffee taverns listed in Kelly’s across south London.

The building was designed by a William Rickwood and was erected ‘regardless of cost’ (2); Rickwood had designed many shops, other properties and another Coffee Tavern in Woolwich.

Like the other halls around it became a venue for various clubs and societies, including Lee Chess Club (3), but they needed somewhere more ‘commodious’ and moved to what became the Lee Centre in 1891. Lee Rovers Cycling Club occasionally met there for social events (4) – although they too later moved on, perhaps the draw of alcohol at the Rose of Lee (picured below from around this era) was too great (5).

Source eBay Dec 2019

There were, of course, several temperance societies that met there including the very long winded Invicta Lodge of the United Order of the Total Abstinent Sons of the Phoenix (6); this one sounds as though it was linked to a Masonic lodge – certainly other Masonic lodges, such as The Champion Lodge (No 318) met there (7).

Initially it seems to have been managed by Thomas and Alice Plumb (that’s the transcription of the census, but it is probably something else) who came from Norfolk. They had gone by around 1894 and the ‘Tavern’ was being managed was Henry Bailey, who hailed from Portsmouth. In 1891 he managed the Coffee Tavern in Beresford Square in Woolwich. He can only have been there a few years as his son was born in 1886 in Hampshire.

By 1901 the working class area of Lee had not forsaken the local hostelries in any number and while the two Tigers Heads, the Prince Arthur and the Duke of Edinburgh thrived, the company behind the Jubilee Coffee Tavern had gone into voluntary liquidation. The lease was up for the ‘expensively appointed’ building, noting that it could be used for a public office or converted into shops. The 30 year lease was put up for sale in September 1901 (8).

The new owners were the London and South Western Bank, which had been set up in the 1860s to ‘link London with modest account holders in the main towns of the South West.’ It was a strategy that failed and the bank turned its attention to the expanding London suburbs, like Lee. It merged with the London and Provincial Bank in 1918, to become the snappily titled London, Provincial and South Western Bank in 1918. It didn’t last long, becoming part of Barclays the same year.

The Bank was trading as Barclays in 1920; but by 1925 Barclays had presumably decided to rationalise their branches and didn’t need two within a hundred metres or so of each other – the other was at Lee Green and had been a London and Provincial Bank branch (pictured above). The new occupant of 398 Lee High Road was another bank, Midland – a forerunner of the current HSBC. It continued to operate there until around 1960. It is pictured at the back left of the VE Day street party below.

It isn’t clear what happened to it after that, but 398 Lee High Road never again appeared in Kelly’s Directories, although the terrace with shops on it that was adjacent to is listed for another decade or so, and the Co–op next door until around 1975 (pictured in the first picture as Campions, clothiers who were featured a while ago) . The site is now part of Sainsburys – to the right of the photograph below.

Returning to the original use, perhaps it was the wrong time period. The last couple of decades have seen a return to coffee shops with several in Blackheath and Lewisham along with a couple of local parks such as Manor House Gardens and Manor Park (although there is currently a vacancy there after the Arts Cafe departed). About 50 metres away at 386 Lee High Road there was a coffee shop for around 15 years, initially trading as With Jam and Bread (linked to art studios that also used the building) and latterly as Arlo and Moe, although that ceased trading around 2018.

Notes

  1. 2 March 1888 – Kentish Mercury
  2. 6 September 1901 – Kentish Mercury
  3. 25 September 1891 – Kentish Mercury
  4. 16 February 1894 – Kentish Mercury
  5. 12 February 1897 – Kentish Mercury
  6. 13 June 1890 – Kentish Mercury
  7. 21 February 1890 – Kentish Mercury
  8. 6 September 1901 – Kentish Mercury

Credits

  • The black and white photographs are via Lewisham Archives, they remain their copyright and are used with their permission, the only exception to this is the postcard of the Rose of Lee, which is credited in the post.
  • The Kelly’s Directories were accessed via Lewisham and Southwark Archives

Lee High Road’s Lost Baptist Chapel

Over the years Running Past has covered many of the places of worship around Lee, Hither Green and Blackheath that have been lost, mostly due to World War Two damage.  These include Christ Church on Lee Park, Holy Trinity on Glenton Road, the Methodist Chapel on Hither Green Lane, the original Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road, as well as the Methodist Chapel in Blackheath Village and St Andrew’s in Vanburgh Park. We turn our attention to another of these, a Baptist Chapel that stood on the corner of Lee High Road and Eastdown Park

It was probably the first building on the site, while the Chapel predated the first Ordnance Survey maps by a decade, it was fields when John Rocque surveyed the 10 miles around London for his 1746 published map.

The area was rapidly developing following the arrival of the railway in Lewisham in 1849, large houses had already been developed in the narrow band between the Quaggy and Lee High Road from the second decade of the century; roads such as Marlborough (now Mercator) and Blessington were developed in the 1850s with other developments to the north of Lee High Road closer to Blackheath station.

The burgeoning population needed places of worship, St Margaret’s at the Belmont Hill/Brandram Road junction had been rebuilt in the 1840s and Christ Church on Lee Park had been carved out of the St Margaret’s in 1854.  It is not surprising then that other denominations wanted to ensure that those who had moved to the new suburbia had churches and chapels that met their spiritual needs.

The Baptist chapel at the corner of Lee High Road and Eastdown Park was probably the first in the area, predating the one built on the College Park Estate on Clarendon Rise by over a decade and the ‘tin’ tabernacle on what is now Baring Road by over 20 years.  It was completed in November 1854 (1).

The most important name in its early history was Robert Humphrey Marten who was the Minister there for almost 30 years – not quite as long as the 44 years of James Waite Davies at Baring Road, but an impressive tenure nonetheless.  Marten was born in London but prior to his arrival in Lee had been a Minister in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, where he was in 1851.

Despite being based in Abingdon, it appears that Marten seems to have been involved in the initial setting up of the chapel, including the provision of a pulpit before being persuaded to become Minister, starting his ministry there in November 1855 (2).

For most of his time in what was then referred to as Lee, he lived with his family at 53 Blessington Road.  He is listed on the Electoral Register there from 1859.  In the 1881 census he was there with his wife Rachel, two adult daughters who were both described as being a ‘gentlewoman’, plus two servants.   The house was destroyed in one of the V-1 attacks on what is now the Mercator Estate.  He was to die there in October 1885, aged 65 (3), leaving an estate of £6055, which was substantial for the time.

His successor was probably Tom Foston, who was appointed minister by 1885 and lived at 41 Blessington Road when the census enumerators called in 1891; he didn’t stay as long as he predecessor, he resigned in August 1893 (4) and was conducting his ministry in Derbyshire by the 1901 census.  The chapel is pictured from this era from slightly higher up Lee High Road with the Rose of Lee (now Dirty South) on the left and Manor Park Parade on the right, from around that time.

There is nothing obvious on-line about the history of the chapel in the early part of the 20th century.  The chapel was hit in 1941 during the Blitz and while not completely destroyed, the London County Council bomb damage maps coloured it purple – ‘damaged beyond repair’ (5).  The Sunday School building behind, previously referred to as a lecture room, seems to have been left intact.

Brick shortages after World War Two meant that, in terms of priorities, the secular needs of housing came before religious buildings. The only one of the churches destroyed locally that was rebuilt was the Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road, but work there wasn’t completed until 1957, when the church was re-consecrated.

It isn’t clear what happened to the congregation, there was still the Sunday School at the rear that they could have used, but in all likelihood the congregation probably dissipated, perhaps some joined the Baptist Church on Clarendon Rise with others heading to the South Lee Tabernacle. In any case, non-conformist groups, such as Baptists, were suffering a steady decline in numbers nationally in the 20th century from 2 million to 1.7 million in 1949, so maybe some contraction in the number of chapels was inevitable anyway.

As for the site, it seems to have remained empty until the early 1960s when it was taken over (and numbered 152a) by Fry’s presumably as the garage and ‘shop front’ for servicing and parts.  Fry’s main showrooms were a little further down Lee High Road into Lewisham – we’ll cover Fry’s at some stage in the future.

Fry’s were to remain there until around 1985 when the site was bought by Penfold’s Vauxhall dealership for their servicing and parts operation.  They had been previously been based at what is now the Sainsbury’s site on Burnt Ash Road.

Penfold’s continued to trade there until around 2015 when the business closed and was wound up, it is pictured above from 2008 via Google Streetview.  A planning application was approved in 2018 for a 5 storey building with 17 flats and commercial space below.  However, the site currently remains boarded up with no progress having been made, and For Sale boards are up.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 24 November 1855
  2. ibid
  3. Kentish Mercury 30 October 1885
  4. Kentish Mercury 25 August 1893
  5. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p119

Credits

  • The postcard of the chapel is via eBay from April 2016 and the one including Manor Park Parade from the same source in October 2019;
  • The 2008 photograph is via Google Streetview;
  • The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham Archives; and
  • Census, electoral register and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required).