Tag Archives: Lee

Beating the Bounds of Lee, Part 5 – Verdant Lane and Manor Lane

During the 2020 Coronavirus lockdown, Running Past has been following the boundary of Victorian Lee before it was subsumed into Lewisham at the end of the Victorian era, aided only by a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map. We have so far wandered, in stages, initially from Lee Green to Winn Road, appropriately passing Corona Road en route; the second stage took us through Grove Park, crossing the never built Ringway;  then through Marvels and Elmstead Woods and a Borough of Deptford Cemetery; and in the previous instalment through Chinbrook Meadows appropriately following Border Ditch. We pick up the 1893 Lee – Lewisham boundary on what is now Downham Way – the most southerly of the red dots on the map below.

The Downham estate was built by the London County Council (LCC) in the late 1920s and early 1930s on compulsorily purchased farm land. On this side of the estate included what was probably the last outpost of the land owned by the Baring family, Shroffold Farm, pictured later in the post.  We will probably return to the farm at some stage in the future. However, the farm was part of the Manor of Lee bought by Sir Francis Baring, later Baron Northbrook, the purchase of which was at least partially funded by both financing of slave owning operations as well as some direct ownership on enslaved people. While the Barings dispensed largesse to the locals in their latter years, their ability to do this was based, in part at least, on the enslavement of African men, women and children in Montego Bay in Jamaica at the end of the 18th century.

We’d split our circuit of Lee at the top of what was described in a 1790 map as ‘Mount Misery’, better known these days as Downham Way (the most southerly dot on the map). There was a lot of ‘misery’ in the area in that era. South Park farm, which was to become North Park – a little further down the hill in our broad direction of travel was a farm that for a while was known as Longmisery.

The reason for the split in the post at Mount Misery was that the boundary in 1893 had changed soon after the brow of the ‘Mount’ from field edge to stream at the boundary.

Before leaving this point, it is worth remembering that at the time the Ordnance Survey cartographers surveyed the area they would have had an undisturbed view almost to the north of the parish and St Margaret’s Church. Certainly this was what the local Victorian historian, FH Hart, noted in the early 1880s when following the boundary from this point.

The stream is Hither Green Ditch; a stream that Running Past followed a while ago which has several sources. The nomenclature ‘Ditch’ is used quite a lot within the Quaggy catchment, it shouldn’t be seen as belittling or derogatory it is just the way smaller streams are described – the 1893 boundary of also followed, Grove Park Ditch and Border Ditch, with Milk Street and Pett’s Wood Ditches further upstream.

This branch of Hither Green Ditch seems to have emerged somewhere around Ivorydown, south and above Downham Way. It merges with the 1893 Lee – Lewisham boundary just north of the street named after the farm, Shroffold. The merged boundary and stream followed the middle of Bedivere Road.

The section that the Lee-Lewisham boundary initially followed, is one of the sections of Hither Green Ditch that is barely perceptible on the ground, although the contours are clear on early 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey maps, if not current ones. Whether this part of the stream was actually flowing in 1893 is, at best, debatable, water tables had declined after the end of the Little Ice Age, the last really cold winter was in 1814 – with extensive flooding around the parish of Lee when there was a thaw.

The boundary and stream followed the edge of a small piece of woodland in 1893 which is now an area bordered by Pendragon, Ballamore and Reigate Roads. There is an attractive U shaped portion of the latter, where council surveyors struggled with dampness from the hidden Ditch.

The post war 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map, notes a flow at around the point of Railway Children Walk, an homage (or a homage) to E Nesbit who lived on the other side of the railway – on of at least a trio of locations within the Parish she resided in. A small detour is worth making for a view of another Lewisham Natureman stag standing proudly above the railway.

Detour made, the boundary follows Hither Green Ditch which was marked as flowing in the 1960s 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey map, so was presumably also flowing in 1893. To the west of the Ditch, and boundary, was Shroffold Farm, the farmhouse (pictured below from the 1920s) was where the mosque is now located – diagonally opposite to where the Northover/Governor General was to be built 40 years later at the junction of Verdant Lane, Northover and and Whitefoot Lane. To the east was almost certainly land belonging to Burnt Ash Farm – both sides of the boundary owned by the Northbrooks.

While fields in 1893, this area is now part of Hither Green Cemetery. It originally opened as Lee Cemetery in 1873 but with a much smaller size at the northern end of the current one. Like the Borough of Deptford cemetery we passed through in Grove Park, it was outside the jurisdiction it served, all on the Lewisham side of Hither Green Ditch. There are two impressive chapels, the Dissenters one (for Methodists and the the Baptists of Lee High Road and what is now Baring Road), was built by William Webster of Blackheath and was damaged during the last war and is slowly decaying.

The southerly end of what is now the cemetery had changed from farm land to allotments in the early part of the 20th century. The exact timing of the expansion of the cemetery into the allotments isn’t clear, it was probably just before or just after the start of World War 2, it was showing as allotments in the 1938 surveyed Ordnance Survey map. But by the time the children who died in the awful attack on Sandhurst Road School in early 1943, were buried the area had expanded. There is a large memorial to those who perished, something covered in a blog post that marked the 75th anniversary of the bombing in 2018. The crematorium in the south east corner was opened in the 1950s.

The 1893 boundary is relatively easy to follow on the ground through the cemetery as Hither Green Ditch has left a small valley close to the Lombardy poplars that border the railway.

Just outside the cemetery in 1893 was a small hospital, Oak Cottage Hospital; it had been built in 1871 by the local Board of Works for dealing with infectious diseases like smallpox and typhoid (1).  It was overtaken by events in that the Metropolitan Board of Works (which covered all of London) decided to open a series of fever hospitals as a response to a major Scarlet Fever epidemic in 1892/93, the health system was unprepared and there was a severe shortage of beds.  One of these was the Park Fever Hospital, later referred to as Hither Green Hospital; Oak Cottage Hospital was briefly considered as a possible alternative location (2).   Oak Cottage Hospital closed soon after Park Fever opened in 1896 (3).  It eventually became housing in the 1960s or 1970s.

Beyond Oak Cottage Hospital in 1893, were again fields, probably part of Shroffold Farm. On the opposite side of Verdant Lane (then Hither Green Lane) was North Park Farm, about to be ploughed under by Cameron Corbett. The Lee Lewisham boundary continued to use Hither Green Ditch which was to remain visible until the development of the Verdant Lane estate in the 1930s. This section is pictured below, probably soon after the Corbett Estate was completed around 1910.

In addition to the Ditch, there were a pair of long gone boundary markers, one was just to the north of the junction of Verdant Lane and Sandhurst Road, perhaps at the point one of the confluence of two of the branches of the Ditch; the other where it crosses St Mildreds Road – again a possible branch of the Ditch that would have been obliterated by the railway.

St Mildreds Road hadn’t existed when the Ordnance Survey cartographers had first visited in the 1860s. While the church of St Mildreds had been built in 1872, even in 1893 only homes at the Burnt Ash Hill end had been build, including another of the homes in the area of E Nesbit in Birch Grove.

The boundary went under the railway close to what was a trio of farm workers cottages for North Park Farm, which are still there at the junction of Springbank Road and Hither Green Lane.

The boundary continued to follow Hither Green Ditch – it wasn’t just a Parish boundary at this point, but a farm boundary too – on the Lewisham side, Hither Green’s North Park Farm, which was mainly on the other side of the railway and was sold at around the time that the land was surveyed and would form the Corbett Estate. On the Lee side was Lee Manor Farm, which is pictured on a 1846 map below (right to left is south to north, rather than west to east) and Hither Green Ditch which had several small bridges is at the top.  There were several boundary stones and markers along what was broadly Milborough Crescent and Manor Lane.  There was then a sharp turn to the east along what is now Longhurst Road.

The confluence of Hither Green Ditch with the Quaggy was in a slightly different place in 1893, then it was more or less where 49 Longhurst Road is now located; it is now around 40 metres away on a sharp corner between between Manor Park and Longhurst Road, as pictured below.

We’ll leave the boundary of Lee and Lewisham here for now following what is now the Quaggy into Lewisham in the next instalment.

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

Notes

  1. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green, The Forgotten Hamlet p54
  2. Woolwich Gazette 02 June 1893
  3. Smith op cit p54

Picture Credits

 

 

 

The First Night of the Blitz in Lee, Hither Green, Catford and Lewisham

The afternoon of 7 September 1940 saw wartime football matches at the Valley, where Charlton lost 4-2 to Millwall, and a few miles away Crystal Palace beat yet to be rivals Brighton 5-2 in the wartime South Regional Competition.  The almost normality was about to come to a shuddering halt with the first raids of the Blitz, when German bombers came ‘en masse’ on a Saturday afternoon, some up the Thames, some from the south – it was to be the start of eight months heavy bombing of London.

A Heinkel He 111 bomber flying over the Thames at the start of the Luftwaffe’s evening raids of 7 September 1940

One of the waves came over the Surrey hills and were recalled by a then young cyclist

It was the most amazing, impressive, riveting sight …Directly above me were literally hundreds of planes … the sky was full of them. Bombers hemmed in with fighters, like bees around their queen…

Running Past has covered many of the V-1 and V-2 attacks of the second half of the war – including ones in Lewisham High Street, Lewisham Hill, Hither Green Station (pictured below) and Blackheath Village.  On the 80th anniversary of the start of the Blitz it seems appropriate to reflect on what happened that afternoon and into the early hours of the Sunday. We’ll look at that the first night of the Blitz from the perspective of the Lee, Catford and Lewisham areas that Running Past generally focuses on.  Hither Green largely escaped that first night with one significant exception a partial collapse of the railway bridge on Ennersdale Road with 20 injured and several trapped at around 20:25 which was noted in the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) Log.

For many of the other attacks on the area, Running Past has used the ARP log for the old Borough of Lewisham.  However, in the early days of the Blitz the records seemed to be only partial, they seemed to be overwhelmed by incidents. There is better documentation for that first night in the records of the London Fire Brigade which are part of the collection of the Metropolitan Archives.  There were typed official green slips record each incident and a separate bound volume listing all the fires attended.  These were all pulled together for the 70th anniversary and a datasheet published in The Guardian, and elsewhere.  As we shall see though, even these aren’t perfect, serious incidents to homes in Limes Grove, Lewisham Road and Ennersdale Road railway bridge were not included.

The data shows the sheer scale of the attacks on the dockland communities on both sides of the Thames from late afternoon onwards, with a second wave of attacks from around 8:30 pm – seemingly the fires from the first attacks helping guide the Luftwaffe for a renewed onslaught as the natural light faded.  The attacks will have seen Londoners scurrying to their shelters – both household ones and communal ones such as those in Manor House Gardens and lots in the streets around Lewisham High Street.

The first bombs in the area – seemed to have been on Lewisham High Street furniture suppliers, Bolsom Brothers which was ‘severely damaged’ at 16:14 and the same with part of Chiesmans department store six minutes later.

There were a series of reports at 17:55, around Blackheath and Lee with damage to three houses in Brandram Road, including number 30, the original house is no longer there.  The ARP log noted another incident in a similar location around 19:09 but this could well have been the same one.  A couple of bombs failed to explode at the almshouses – given the communal shelter there (pictured below) there could have been a large loss of life had they exploded.

Around 20 minutes later 51-57 Lewisham Hill were hit – the damage noted in the Fire Brigade reports was to contents rather than the structure.  However, they were all marked as badly damaged in the LCC Bomb Damage maps – a mixture of repairable at cost, damaged beyond repair and completely destroyed, so either the Fire Brigade reports were incorrect or they were hit again either later in the Blitz or during the sporadic attacks that preceded the V-1 flying bombs – one of which caused enormous damage a little further down the Hill.  53 (the Victorian house and 55-57 are pictured below)

Bombers returned to Brandram Road at 18.31 with damage to 1, 2 and 4 although fortunately not the adjacent church – the worst damage seems to have been to a garage at number 2.

The second wave of attacks started from around 8:30 pm, and for the first few hours Lee, Catford, Hither Green and Lewisham were ignored with the much of the firepower being targeted on Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth areas.  By around 10:30 though dockland areas were re-targeted and half an hour later bombs started falling on Catford and Lee.

At 11:00 pm here was some limited damage to 34 Winn Road, part on an estate built by Wates just before the war; with an incendiary bomb being dropped on a nearby field in Alnwick Road. Around the same time an incendiary bomb fell in the street on Glenton Road, seemingly outside Holy Trinity Church – the extensive damage to the church was to come later in the Blitz. A bit further south ‘slight damage’ was recorded to 31-37 Abernethy Road, part of the late Victorian Firs Estate (top picture below).

The bombers returned to the skies above Abernethy Road around 11:45 pm, possibly ‘guided’ by a fire from the previous attack – the Fire Brigade report suggested that four houses of 41-47 were ‘severely damaged.’ As that numbering didn’t exist – in reality, these were almost certainly houses on Manor Lane Terrace about 30 metres away (lower picture above).  The damage to 31-37 seems much more serious than recorded and both groups of houses had been demolished by 1949. Neither site seemed to have been big enough for prefabs and the Victorian housing was replaced with council homes in the 1950s or 1960s.

In the early hours of Sunday morning the Luftwaffe turned some of their attention to Catford and the streets to the south of Brownhill Road.  The first attacks were at 0:18 and 0:20 on 141 Braidwood and 129 Killearn Roads, both suffered roof damage from an incendiary bomb – any sign of which was hidden behind a replaced roof and rendering.  At around the same time another incendiary hit a shed at Sandhurst Road School – the target of a much worse attack in early 1943 and there was some damage to 54 Laleham Road from another incendiary.

Twenty seven minutes past midnight saw an explosive bomb hit Jutland Road with seventeen houses damaged, several seriously – while some of the houses were repairable others weren’t with three houses being rebuilt (see below) – not in the style of the immediate post-war council housing so, presumably, private sector housing.

There was slight roof damage, now not obvious, from incendiary bombs to 86 Torridon and 91 Ardgowan Roads (the latter may have been hit twice as there was another report for it at 1:10 am) at the same time with some damage to fences to a couple of houses in Fordel Road. A few minutes afterwards saw the front bedroom of 127 Minard Road ‘severely damaged.’  The house was rebuilt well, with no obvious damage visible from the outside.

In between these attacks there had been an explosive bomb dropped on Sportsbank Street, which still had the stand for the former velodrome being used as warehousing, which damaged three houses, and ‘severely damaged’ three others – probably at the Laleham Road end.  The homes were rebuilt as council housing after the war (see below).

A few minutes earlier, at 138 Engleheart Road had been hit by an explosive bomb leaving two houses destroyed and two damaged beyond repair.  At 140 Ellen Moseley (37) was injured and died later in Lewisham Hospital – she was living in Hythe in Kent in 1939.  Again the homes were rebuilt post war.

Not every incident was recorded, and this was the case with the two in Lewisham where there was the biggest loss of life in the first night of the Blitz. The first of these was the bombing of 159 Lewisham Road (opposite Connington Road) where five died. Neville (20), Gwendoline (19) and Hilda Osborne (16) along with Charles Smith (23) and Christine Smith (nee Osborne – 24) who had married a few weeks before the bombing. They were all living at 213 Algernon Road in 1939 – Gwendoline  was a Photographic Clerk and Hilda an accounts assistant. Charles Smith was a Mechanical Engineering Draughtsman at the War Office as well as being in the Home Guard.

Despite the deaths and probable large amount of damage, the house (pictured above) was probably repaired during the war – it was marked on the LCC Bomb Damage Maps as orange – ‘general blast damage, not structural.’

The second unrecorded incident leading to significant loss of life was about half a mile further south; it seems that at some point during the night that 43 and 45 Limes Grove was hit. At 43 (the left of the houses below), Mayhew Edith Spedding died aged 56; she was the wife of George Spedding who was First Mate on a ship. In the 1939 Register she was listed there with George and what seem to have either been a couple of lodgers or it was a shared flat. It was a house that was split into two flats. Edith was badly injured in the bombing and later died at Lewisham Hospital.

Next door at 45, which was also two flats, lived the Bennions; both Edith Bennion (53) and her son William Arthur Bennion (18) were badly injured in the explosion, and like Mayhew next door, died later in hospital. They were survived by William Henry Bennion a mail porter and a school age daughter, also called Edith.

Lewisham had got off lightly compared with other areas, 11 deaths from the 430 who perished on that first night.  The all clear was sounded at around 5:00 am on the Sunday morning.  The respite was short though bombers arrived again over London the following night and did so every day/night for about two months and off and on for eight months.  Catford, Lee and Hither Green weren’t attacked every night but there will be more posts on the Blitz over the next few months.

The bombings changed the urban landscape, not as dramatically as they did in areas around the Thames, but most streets in the area have bits of post-war council housing amidst the Victorian terraces.  Most will tell a story of a family displaced and possibly injuries and deaths as a result.

Credits

Most of the information for this post comes from four sources:

The football results are from The Times of 9 September 1940.

Picture Credits

  • The Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses air raid shelter is from the collection of Lewisham Archives, it is used with their permission and remains their copyright;
  • The Heinkel He 111 bomber flying over the Thames is from Wikipedia and is on a Creative Commons
  • The Hither Green Station V-1 photograph part of the Imperial War Museum collection (produced here on a Creative Commons)
  • The rest are copyright of the author and are usable elsewhere, attributed, on a non-commercial basis.

 

Beating the Bounds of Lee, Part 3 – through Grove Park

During the COVID-19 lockdown Running Past has been following the boundary of Victorian Lee a few years before it was subsumed into Lewisham, aided only by a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map and a smattering of knowledge of the area. The previous two posts have taken us in stages, from Lee Green to Winn Road, appropriately passing Corona Road en route; the second took us On through Grove Park, crossing the never built Ringway, We’d left the boundary on Grove Park Road, on top of a culverted Grove Park Ditch, with a marker that had been weathered beyond any potential to decipher.  

For the pedants of periphery, the boundary marker is no longer on the boundary, in adjusting it to the rear fences of Marvels Lane it has led to the now Bromley – Lewisham boundary dog legging down the middle of Grove Park Road, the small sign of the former and the larger one of the latter announce the changes.  

The route followed in this section was entirely rural in 1893 as the Ordnance Survey map below shows with the Morse code dot dash line – although the most southerly end of Victorian Lee, the largely John Pound developed ‘new town’ of Grove Park is visible to the north east.

One the opposite side of Grove Park Road is the attractive Chinbrook Estate, built by the Greater London  Council (GLC) in the early 1960s; it is a development that has been covered by the 21st century’s foremost chronicler of council housing, Municipal Dreams, who noted 

“What was exceptional ….is the overall architectural and design quality of the Estate…..Chinbrook is a reminder of the best that might be achieved with proper investment and careful planning.”

Like the much larger Downham estate, which we will encounter further along the Lee boundary, it is an estate that straddles a boundary, Mottingham to the east, Lee to the west in 1893, at least.  The 21st century boundary is slightly different and is a currently  a Lewisham to Bromley one, The divisions aren’t immediately obvious, but as with Upwood Road further back, while there are no boundary stones, the  21st century markers are clear.  Along with the Borough colour coded bins, the Borough street signage indicates the location – white on blue for Lewisham, white on green for Bromley (plus some faded black on white signage, perhaps from the GLC era).

Back in 1893 there was a boundary marker close to where Grove Park Ditch now enters its long culvert on the edge of the estate; if it is still there, it is lost in the dense undergrowth.  Whilst the border probably ought to have followed Grove Park Ditch it doesn’t and seems to have followed field and probably ownership boundaries.  So the border follows what is now a fence between the attractive Lower Marvels Wood and the rear gardens of Grace Close.  The name coming from ‘W G’ who lived both in Mottingham and Sydenham. The estate provides links to other Lewisham sporting greats, Henry Cooper Way and Lions (Millwall’s nickname) Close. 

Over Dunkery Road, the 2020 boundary has been slightly amended compared with its late Victorian counterpart to cope with the slight dog leg of Duddington Close. There has also been a slight adjustment to for the 1930s council housing of Bilsby Grove.

The late Victorian boundary of Lee was at the border between the woodland of Marvels Wood and farmland.  The woodland remains but behind the council housing of Charminster Road the former fields have become Grove Park Cemetery.  It was an out of town burial solution by the Borough of Deptford whose main burial ground, Brockley Cemetery, was almost full by the early 1930s.  Running Past has covered Brockley Cemetery several times in the past, notably in relation to the murder of Jane Clouson who was buried there in the 1870s and has a large memorial.

Grove Park Cemetery was designed by their Borough Surveyor H Morley Lawson and ‘juxtaposed formal and informal elements and the cemetery buildings showed the influence of Moderne and Art Deco style.’  It was used from 1935.

From Bromley side of the boundary, the cemetery is largely hidden, albeit rather attractively by a hundred metre long mural by the seemingly now defunct Onit Design. At the top of the hill, within a metre of the boundary there is some even more impressive artwork, a chainsaw carving by Will Lee, which seems somewhat apt when following the Lee boundary.  There is some more of his work about 100 metres into the woods.

A couple of metres further on there is a very weathered boundary marker which in the Victorian Ordnance Survey map was a three way marker for Lee, Mottingham and Bromley; now the bigger London Boroughs of Bromley and Lewisham.  A metre or two along the path is another, hard to spot boundary marker, just inside the heavy duty palisade fencing ‘protecting’ the cemetery from the Green Chain Walk in what is now Elmstead Woods. It is unusual in the that it marks the direction of the boundary, located as it is on an angle.  The direction is incorrect as it appears that the marker was moved at the time of construction of the cemetery and unintentionally rotated by 90°.

The 1893 boundary darted easterly across the fields  towards Grove Park, the current variant, dating from 1991, is a little more circuitous and reflects the ownership of the cemetery and skirts its border.

There was, and probably still is, another marker at the eastern edge of the cemetery. However, in the very dense undergrowth it proved impossible to find amidst the brambles and nettles (poor companions for a short-clad runner).  All was not lost though, there was a marker of sorts – a Lewisham bollard, marking the  boundary of car park and Green Chain Walk.

Over the car park the Victorian boundary followed the northern edge of what are now allotments – we’ll leave the boundary there for a while before we go through Chinbrook and on to the edge of the Downham Estate.  

Credits and Thanks

The Ordnance Survey map is via the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial licence.

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

The Four Churches of St Peter, Eltham Road

When the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited the area around Eltham Road, to the east of Lee Green, for the first time in 1863, a small number of large houses had been laid out at the edge of suburbia of Victorian London.  The feel though would have been rural, little different to when horse racing had happened in the fields parallel to the main road and Quaggy up until the mid -1840s.

The change in the next four or five years was dramatic with new housing laid out along Eltham Road, almost up to what is now Sutcliffe Park.  As the local MP remarked in 1870, ‘in a short period a town has sprung up in the neighbourhood.’  (1)

As we have seen with new developments elsewhere in the area churches followed soon afterwards – Christ Church in Lee Park (1854), Holy Trinity, Glenton Road (1863), St Mildred’s in 1871, the original Church of the Good Shepherd in 1881 along with the Baptist Chapel at the corner of Eastdown Park in 1854.  This new ‘town’ between Lee Green and Eltham was no different.

From around 1867, possibly slightly before, there was a temporary ‘iron church’ that was built somewhere in the area which was called St Peter, the exact location isn’t clear – a Rev. A Tien being appointed to minister from there from a church in Bedfordshire (2). As we have seen in relation to an iron church on what is now Baring Road (see above), ‘tin tabernacles,’ as they were often referred to, provided quick solutions to the provision of a church whilst funds were raised to build a permanent place of worship.

The foundation stone for the permanent church (pictured above) was laid on 3 December 1870 by Lady Louisa Mills, who was the wife of the local MP for West Kent, Charles Mills. He obviously wasn’t that impressed with his wife laying the foundation stone; his speech ‘regretting very much the absence of a member of the Royal Family’ (3). The Conservative Mills had previously lost his seat in Northallerton, amidst a bribery scandal. Also present at both the foundation stone laying and the service in the iron church that preceded it, were the Vicar Designate, the Rev J L Macdonald, along with the Vicars of Eltham and Greenwich (4).

The church was on the corner of what it now Lyme Farm Close and Courtlands Avenue, although it was just one street then referred to simply as The Avenue.  There were a dozen or so large houses in the development plus perhaps another 150 large houses along Eltham Road, Cambridge Road (now Drive), along with Weigall, Osberton and Leyland Roads.  It was an ambitious project for a small, albeit probably relatively wealthy and pious area.  So, there was a range of fundraising activity to help pay including bazaars and concerts to help pay for the new church (5).

In the end, it all came together quite quickly with the new church consecrated in July 1871, just six months after the foundation stone was laid.  The ceremony was undertaken by the Bishop of Colombo, in the absence of the Bishop of Rochester, most of local clergy in the area being present too.   The church seemed large for the area – holding 750 and cost £4,500 to build (6).

The local paper, the Kentish Mercury, described it as ‘early French’ in style consisting of ‘nave, side aisles and an octagonal chancel…. surmounted by a very characteristic tower and spire…..Both externally and internally the edifice is of red brick, relieved with copious Bath stone dressings’ (7).

The architects were Newman and Billing, both called Arthur, who were based in Tooley Street and had an extensive practice mainly concerned with church work from around 1860.  They were also acted as surveyors to Guy’s Hospital and to St Olave’s District Board of Works in Bermondsey.   Other work included the design of the Grade II listed St Luke’s in Hackney and the Grade I listed Parish Church of St Dunstan and All Saints (The Church of the High Seas)

The builders were Dove Brothers who were a long standing Islington based builders operational between 1781 and 1993, well known for late Victorian church construction building around 130 churches between 1858 and 1900, mainly in London.

The church had parish rooms, a some distance away in St Peter’s Court at Lee Green, behind the New Tiger’s Head. The first mention in Kelly’s Directories was in 1894, but given the naming of the alley (which is still there) it probably dates from the 1880s or before. The last mention of the parish rooms was around 1911.

The church seems to have suffered as the wealthy suburban residents moved on and was closed in 1939 in a poor state of repair; several of the houses were empty on Courtlands Avenue when the 1939 Register was collected as war broke out, with others in multiple occupation – a parish probably unable to cope with the high running costs of the building. While no damage was marked on the London County Council Bomb Damage Maps (8) – given there were a couple of V-1s that fell on neighbouring fields it seem seems likely that there was some damage; certainly the church website suggests that. It seems that the remaining parishioners worshiped for a while at the elegantly situated St John’s at the top of Eltham Hill.

The church was declared redundant in 1960, and along with the rest of the housing on Courtlands Avenue was demolished, probably the same year. The much denser housing, seemingly built by Wates. All that remains now is the war memorial, which has a brief note about the church’s history.

Courtlands Avenue wasn’t the only area of large housing demolished in the early post war period – flats appeared on Ravens Way and opposite on Reed Close – maybe 99 year Crown leases were coming to an end.  There was to be much larger scale development redevelopment around Lee Green, again on Crown land.

The new, denser developments with hundreds more homes provided a nascent congregation and the church re-established itself in a wooden hall on the corner of Weigall Road in 1960, joining with the, then recently rebuilt, Church of the Good Shepherd in Handen Road.  

The plot on which the hall that the church took over seems to have been undeveloped until the late 1930s when it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as Pyke Jocelyn School of Dancing, it changed hands during the war to become Saville Hall School of Dancing before a 1960 listing as St Peter’s Church. 

The wooden structure was replaced by a smaller, attractive multi-purpose building in 1983, presumably at least partially paid for by the sale of part of the site for a sheltered housing development next door.

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
  2. Bedfordshire Times and Independent 16 July 1867
  3. Kentish Mercury 10 December 1870
  4. ibid
  5. Kentish Mercury 10 June 1871
  6. Kentish Mercury 15 July 1871
  7. ibid
  8. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p120

Credits

  • The photographs of the original church are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, remain their copyright and are used with their permission
  • The photograph of the tin tabernacle on what is now Baring Road was from eBay in September 2016
  • The Kelly’s Directory data is from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark Archives

Beating The Bounds of Lee Part 2 – Winn Road to Grove Park

In the last post, we returned to the old tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ of the civil parish of Lee, ‘armed’ mainly with a Second Edition Ordnance Survey map of the area and a decent amount of local knowledge of the history. The survey for the map had been carried out in 1893, but it seems to have updated to reflect boundary changes relating to Mottingham in 1894.

We had left the Lee boundary on Winn Road, part of a small estate developed by William Winn, which, appropriately for the time this post was written, includes Corona Road.

The route followed is the red line on adjacent Ordnance Survey map. It was broadly the same circuit that had been followed in 1822 by the great and the good of the parish. Included in their number, although not in the ‘good’ part, was the final tenant of Lee Place, the odious Benjamin Aislabie – a slave owner after slavery was abolished in the Empire. At least the parish spelled his name incorrectly as ‘Aislibie’ when naming a street after him.

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We had left the boundary at the final of a trio of 1903 Lewisham boundary markers at the south easterly junction of Winn and Guibal Roads. Lee was merged with Lewisham into the Borough of Lewisham in 1900. The 1893 boundary was about 15 metres to the west and cut across to what is now Burnt Ash Pond, mid way down Melrose Close. The current Lewisham boundary with Greenwich veers off to the east down Winn Road to the Quaggy.

Burnt Ash Pond is usually a delightful little oasis of calm, but seemed to be suffering from lock down, seemingly covered with either duckweed or green algae when passed by on this occasion. The 1893 variant of the boundary passed through the Pond and continued southwards down Melrose Close, attractive late 1970s council housing, diminished by an entrance through largely abandoned garages. In 1893 the boundary passed through back gardens parallel to Burnt Ash Hill, almost opposite College Farm. There is an 1865 Lee Parish marker hidden in the undergrowth next to the pond, although it is not visible from the outside.

The name ‘Melrose’ came from another farm which seems to have evolved out of Horn Park Farm, whose farm yard we crossed in the first post, and was essentially a market garden operation and was also referred to as Woodman’s Farm, after its tenants. The Close was probably part of its land. Its farmhouse in Ashdale Road remains and was used as a site office for the developers of much of the area we are about to pass through, Wates. The farm’s main claim to fame was the unintentional landing of Willows II (pictured below) which was aiming for Crystal Palace and in the process created a record for the longest airship flight.

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The boundary continues parallel to Burnt Ash Hill until a point almost opposite Ashwater Road when it follows what are now the rear fences of houses on the northern side of Senlac Road, presumably named after the likely location of the Battle of Hastings. In the back garden of a group of Wates built interwar semis between Exford and Ashdale Roads, there was once the junction of the parishes of Lee, Eltham and Mottingham. The house with three boundaries, then had two and now has none – the Bromley boundary is now at the bottom of the hill following the Quaggy. The change is a relatively recent one, dating from 1991 proposals, the current resident remembers paying council tax to both Lewisham and Bromley. In 1893 we would have been in fields.

The 1893 boundary broadly followed what is now an access road to the rear of houses in Jevington Road. The end of Jevington Road has a chain link fronted jungle facing it, the boundary pierces through the chain link, on the Mottingham side of the 19th century border is now a Den of a former Dragon, a Bannatyne Health Club. The Lee side is, arguably even healthier – some allotments, along with a community volunteer run library.

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This section would have been very different if the Conservative run Greater London Council (GLC) plans for Ringway 2 had come to fruition in the late 1960s. In South London, it was essentially a motorway replacement for the South Circular.

There was much secrecy about the detail of the route, although the most likely version suggested by Chris Marshall would have seen a five lane motorway driven through the allotments, with a minor interchange for Burnt Ash Hill and a major one on Baring Road. There was much opposition across south London to the scheme, and the absence of a motorway here points to its success. The only tangible remains of Ringway in the area is an eponymous community centre on Baring Road.

Returning to 1893, when the Ordnance Survey cartographers visited, the Grove Park Hospital had yet to be built – that wouldn’t be for another 15 years. We’ve covered the hospital when we followed the Quaggy through these parts.

On the northern wall is a boundary marker – the ‘MP’ is clear in that it relates to Mottingham Parish which from 1894 to 1934 was a ‘detached’ part of the Bromley Rural District. The ‘LP’ is less clear, Lee had disappeared into Lewisham by the time the hospital was built, but it was the Borough of Lewisham rather than the parish.

In 1893 the parish of Lee meandered across the soon to be hospital site, changing direction at a tree that doubled up as a boundary marker. The tree is long gone, presumably felled when the hospital was constructed and the boundary moved to the edge of the hospital site. Oddly, in the housing that replaced most of the hospital buildings, there is a tree at the same point as the former boundary marker.

On the eastern side of the hospital site, Lee’s boundary takes on a new format, the Quaggy. Rivers and streams often form the boundaries between parishes and local authorities, as we have found with several streams and rivers – including the River Wilmore in Penge and Border Ditch that we will encounter later in our perambulation around Lee.

Alas, the conterminous boundary with the Quaggy (shown top left below) only lasts for around 50 metres, about 2 and a half chains of Victorian measurement. However, we swap one watercourse for another as the boundary veers off the the east, following Grove Park Ditch, which depending on rainfall levels either cascades or splutters into the Quaggy (top right, below).

The confluence is a pipe opposite the Sydenham Cottages Nature Reserve, named after the farm workers cottages above. The nomenclature ‘Ditch’ is used quite a lot within the Quaggy catchment, it shouldn’t be seen as belittling or derogatory it is just the way smaller streams are described – there also are Milk StreetBorder and Petts Wood further upstream.

About 50 metres inside the Lee side of the boundary, Lewisham Natureman has been recently active – a new stag has been painted, drinking from the Quaggy (or would be in more typical flows) in the shade of an elder bush. We will return to his work at a few other points on our travels around the Lee boundary.

The course of Grove Park Ditch isn’t certain, it is culverted for almost half a mile, but would have crossed the fields below more or less parallel to a very rural looking Marvels Lane from 1914, presumably coterminous with the boundary.

There is a boundary marker outside 94 Grove Park Road. It is weathered and unreadable, but marks the Lee boundary with Mottingham – given the style is similar to those around Winn Road at the beginning of this section it probably dates from 1903, however, the location of the boundary was the same in 1893.

In the next instalment, we will follow the boundary through the rural Grove Park of 1893.

Picture Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey Map is via the National Library of Scotland, it is used here on a non-commercial licence
  • The picture of Willows II is from an original postcard in the authors ‘collection’
  • The Ringway map comes from Chris Marshall’s fascinating website
  • The postcard of Grove Park is from e Bay in November 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Credits

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

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

VE Day in Lee and Hither Green

Friday 8 May 2020 sees the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, VE, Day and would have been celebrated both locally and nationally if these were normal times – it was to be one of the themes of the 2020 Hither Green Festival – maybe this will be re-visited later in the year.  We’ll look at what happened that day in 1945 with a local perspective.

After Berlin was surrounded by Allied forces and Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, the end of the war was quite rapid.  A week later, on 7 May 1945 Germany accepted an unconditional surrender of German Forces in most of the areas that they still occupied in the Netherlands and northwest Germany and the surrender came into effect the following day.  A further surrender document was signed with the Russians on 8 May.

Running Past has covered many of the areas of the Home Front in recent months (for the 70th anniversary of war breaking out); the winding down of the Home Front was rapid in early May – public air raid shelters were closed down, as was the air raid warning system and plans were made for the return of evacuee children and mothers by the end of May (1).

Over a million people took to the streets on 8 May in celebration throughout Great Britain to mark the end of the European part of the war.  Many massed in central London, particularly in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace as featured in the video footage (the sound levels are a bit variable, so beware!)

Many celebrated locally though; South Park Crescent (above and below) had been built as part of the Verdant Lane estate in the early 1930s and was the scene of a large party.  No doubt the celebrations were tempered there though by memories of 5 children from there and neighbouring streets who were amongst 38 children and 5 teachers who died at Sandhurst Road School.  There had also been a V-1 flying bomb that hit the junction of South Park and Further Green Road less than a year before at 16:48 on 12 July 1944 which injured 15 (3) –  several houses were destroyed and lots damaged – perhaps including the roofs of those pictured below).

In and around Hither Green, there were several other street parties including ones in The Woodlands and neighbouring Blashford Street.

Lee too saw several street parties, mainly in the working class streets.  Taunton Road had seen a lot of damage in the Blitz with several lives lost.  There was a posed picture probably taken close to the park entrance, the road in the background is Wantage Road.

Just around the corner in Brightfield Road (below) there was another street party in the part of the street that was built by John Pound and had originally been called Robertson Street.  As can be seen from the photograph, the party wasn’t  held there until early June 1945. 

Brightfield Road had seen some damage from the V-1 flying bomb that hit the junction of Lenham and Lampmead Roads.  In addition, there was Blitz damage to houses close to the bridge over the Quaggy, with several destroyed and several seriously damaged; along with three houses on the southern side of the bend which were damaged beyond repair (3).  The houses destroyed in Brightfield Road were never rebuilt, a new entrance to Manor House Gardens was created in their stead and those damaged beyond repair suffered a similar fate – they were to become an entrance to, what became after the war, Northbrook School and is now Holy Trinity

The street scene is now markedly different – the attractive bank buildings at the end of the street were lost after the war either to Penfold’s or Sainsbury’s expansion – more on the building another day, as there is an interesting story behind it.

While there were dozens of parties, as Lewis Blake noted, ‘for all the public display, it may be assumed that a majority of people stayed quietly at home.’ (4)

In addition to the celebration of the end of hostilities, there will have been a relief that bombing and rocket attacks were over – roads like Springbank, Taunton and Aislibie Roads had been badly affected by the Blitz, with V-1s hitting lots of local streets – including Nightingale Grove, (pictured below) Fernbrook Road, between Springbank and Wellmeadow Roads along with Leahurst Road, and as we’ve mentioned the Lenham/Lampmead junction.

A couple of days after VE Day, Lewisham was visited by the King and Queen who stopped in a packed town centre to survey the damage caused by the V-1 flying bomb from 10 months before (it’s at about 4:10 into the film, which is sadly silent).

Other than the rebuilding which was to continue for the best part of 20 years, the other element of wartime privations that was to linger on for almost another decade was rationing, which didn’t officially end for meat until 1954.

If you have personal or family local VE Day memories, please do post them either in the Facebook thread you reached this post from or in the comments below, if you haven’t commented here before, it may take a few hours for your comment to be approved.  I will hopefully add some of the comments into the main post.

In early May 2020 we don’t have the potential for street parties, but oddly, despite the lock down, we are probably contacting and seeing more of our neighbours than any of the generations since the end of World War Two. Every Thursday evening with the #ClapforCareWorkers most of our small street come out to clap and bang pots and pans; if we are typical, people often stay out in the street to chat, keeping social distancing, of course.  Neighbours are checking in with each other by phone with shopping bought for those having to stay at home.  Perhaps, for now at least, this is the World War Two type spirit we should embrace and celebrate, the parties will have to wait.

Notes

  1. Lewis Blake (1995) How We Went To War – Deptford & Lewisham 1939 -1945 p62
  2. From ARP Logs held at Lewisham Archives
  3. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p119
  4. Blake, op cit p66

Credits and Thanks

  • Thank you to Andy Wakeman and Clive Andrews for allowing the use of their family photographs of the South Park Road party – the photographs remain their families’ copyright;
  • The photgrpahs of Brightfield Road and Taunton Road are part of the collection of the Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright;
  • The photograph of the destruction on Nightingale Grove is from the collection of the Imperial War Museum – it is used here on a Non-Commercial Licence

Corona Road – The History of a Lee Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

 

Credits

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

The Three Fire Stations of Lee

Running Past has covered several of the current and past buildings around Lee Green, notably Lee Green Farm and the closed pubs, the Prince Arthur and the New Tigers Head as well as a little on its more ancient version, the Old Tiger’s Head, in connection with the Lee Races of the first half of the 19th century.

In the north eastern quadrant is one of the most impressive bits of municipal architecture in the area, the Grade II listed fire station. We will return to that building later; however, it seems to have been at least the third Fire Station in the area. There had been one in Weardale Road by the late 1870s (1), presumably close to the Rose of Lee based on what else had been built at that stage in the road.  Weardale Road had still been known as Hocum Pocum Lane little more than a decade before.

The next one opened by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in 1895 was on the Lewisham side of Lee Green in the same group of buildings as the Old Tigers Head (see above). It was in an attractive group of four storey properties which have very distinctive Dutch gables. There used to be a tower in the middle of them but this appears to have been damaged in World War 2.

The site had originally been the stables for the ‘old’ Old Tiger’s Head and these seem to have been used for a while by Thomas Tilling for stabling the horses for their buses (like at 36 Old Road) – that was certainly the case in the 1888 edition of Kelly’s Directory. The courtyard entrance to the pub and stables remain with an alley with a ‘garage’ ghost sign above it.

The terrace  predates the ‘new’ Old Tiger’s Head pub by a few years – whose rebuilding was completed around 1896 (the façade is dated). The earlier building of the terrace allowed the pub to temporarily move to what became the fire station. The pub had previously had an address of 345 Lee High Road, but while it kept its number after the temporary move; by 1895 it was flanked at 343 by a hosier Alfred Trusson and at 347 to 349, a long lost type of retail outlet – a mantle warehouse, run by Alexander Aitken.

The fire station opened by 1896 once the pub had moved back to its newly rebuilt old home. In the 1900 Kelly’s Directory its neighbours were the grocers and related shop, the London and Counties Stores (see photograph above). Alexander Aitken was still selling mantles and the pub was numbered 351. By 1905 the mantle trade had moved on, 347 was empty and 349 was a chemist. After the Fire Station’s move to what would have been described at the time as ‘more commodious premises’ 345 seems to have remained empty until the late 1920s (see note below). The former fire station (and pub) is now home to Mandy Peters Solicitors.

The new fire station was designed by the Fire Brigade Branch of the London County Council Architects Department and opened in 1906 and was Grade II listed in 1973. The architectural team within the LCC had originally worked in housing and included Owen Fleming, who was better known for his work on the Boundary Estate in Shoreditch.

The listing notes for Lee Green Fire Station remark that it is ‘notable for having two elevations of architectural quality in the Arts and Crafts-style to the south, with a cross-gable, and to the east.’

The Arts and Crafts style probably reflected that it was a Fire Station built in then suburbia and while Lee Green Farm had been lost as the Crown Estate sold off parcels of land for development from the 1860s, the neighbouring Horn Park Farm was to survive until the 1930s.

The materials used at the fire station are described as

Red brick with lower courses of russet glazed brick, steeply pitched slate roof and tall brick chimneys. Rendering to twin gables and glazed brick at ground floor on side elevation. Stone canted bay to front.

There was accommodation for firefighters included within the station itself, as was common at the time of building, and in a couple of houses behind the Fire Station in Meadowcourt Road (pictured above) as well as in an early to mid 19th century detached, yellow brick house, 7 Eltham Road (see main photograph of Fire Station). Royal Greenwich locally listed 7 Eltham Road in 2019, describing it as

Good quality and rare surviving domestic building of its date with a frontage which has largely remained in its original form

I& Eltham Road may have been acquired by the Fire Brigade after the station was built and it was noted in Kelly’s Directories of 1905 and 1911 as being home to a William Issott. Any earlier detail has proved difficult to unpick due to changes in names and numbering of the houses in the late 19th century.

The new station seems to have been one of the first to have been entirely motorised with two petrol engines and a steam powered one – the fire engines pictured outside at the time of the opening in December 1906.

While many of the local fire stations of the era have closed, such as Forest Hill in Perry Vale, and Lewisham’s, towards the southern end of the High Street, which was replaced 150 metres away, Lee Green has survived both rebuilding and closure programmes over the years; long may that continue!

Notes

  1. Kentish Mercury 17 January 1880
  2. The Graphic 15 December 1906

Picture & Other Credits

The photograph of the original fire station is from the collection of the Mary Evans Picture Library in Blackheath, it is used with their permission.

The Kelly’s Directory information comes from Southwark Archives, I have copied data from every 5th year – so a few short term stays may be missed.

Manor Park Parade – Late Victorian Shopping – Part 1

Lee High Road has shops and businesses around half the way from the town centre towards Lee Green.  Manor Park Parade is the last of these, and, as its name suggests, a shopping parade named after the road opposite at its eastern end.

It was built later than the shops closer to Lewisham; it is on a narrow strip of land that had previously been the frontage onto the main road of Lee Lodge – one of a pair of large Victorian houses that stood back from Lee High Road.  The first mentions of the shops were in the 1896 Kelly’s Directory –Lee Lodge behind was to stay for another 20 years when it was demolished by Pickford’s.  More on them in Part 2.

Like the other posts on shopping in Lee and Hither Green – 1930s Market Terrace, 310 to 332 Lee High Road, and the Edwardian Staplehurst Road, the shops are something of a microcosm of changing patterns of shopping – the traditional, single product type of shop such as the draper, the tobacconist and fruiter remaining beyond World War Two, eventually making way for more modern and specialist uses.  Some shopkeepers, as we’ll see, stayed for decades but others clearly found it a struggle – some shops changed hands frequently.

Source eBay Dec 2019

Unlike other groups of shops and houses, its original name of Manor Park Parade has been retained – 318 to 332 Lee High Road was originally 1-8 Ainsley Terrace, but despite some numbering changes around 1907 the Parade’s name was kept.

1 Manor Park Parade  – Like all of the shops, there is a three storey building at the rear, with a separate entrance and a single storey shop front which declined in depth further up the parade.  In the first Kelly’s Directory that the Parade was mentioned, 1896, number 1 was vacant; but by 1901 it was a dairy being run by Mary Walker, the cobbled lane to the back, presumably to allow loading, is still there.

Mary oddly described herself as ‘he’ when offering to wait on families of Lee three times a day (1). The dairy was taken over around 1905 by Joseph and Laura Gatcombe who hailed from Berkshire; they were assisted by a bookkeeper Ada Fairman who also lived over the shop.  They seem to have shared stables with Pickfords behind at what remained of Lee Lodge – a horse and cart were stolen in 1905 (2).

The Gatcombes were to remain at No 1 until the early to mid-1920s they sold out to Edwards and Sons.  Edwards and Sons were a relatively large scale dairy enterprise with 60 shops around south east London, including  another on the current Sainsbury’s site on Burnt Ash Road.  By this stage, the family owned business ran Burnt Ash Farm which was on the corner of St Mildred’s and Baring Roads. Edwards sold out to United Dairies in 1927 and the latter were running the shop well into the 1930s.

The shop front was home to the hairdresser Albert Elliott during World War Two, but was empty in 1945.   By 1950 the name over the window was Grant & Partners, who were a building firm; they remained there until the early to mid-1980s when the shop front was used for a few years by a firm of estate agents – The House Shop.

Like the other businesses and shop fronts, there is a gap in knowledge as to who was there into the early 2000s. It was vacant when the Streetview cars passed in 2008 and 2012, but has been Wood Fires, a Caribbean takeaway for most of the period since.

2 Manor Park Parade started its life as a butcher’s shop although it was a business that clearly struggled as in the early years there were regular changes in proprietor – the first name over the window in 1896 was Henry Drew, but by 1900 it was being run by Joseph Grozzett, although when the census enumerators called in 1901 it was run by Samuel Grant who hailed from Essex.  The shop was empty by 1905 and seems to have been until just after World War 1, even the maisonette above wasn’t used when the census was conducted in 1911.

While struggling as a butcher, in the inter-war years, No. 2 seems to have thrived under the stewardship of Frank Feltham who was listed variously as a florist, fruiterer and greengrocer, first appearing in Kelly’s around 1920. Oddly, Frank seems to have largely passed under the radar in terms of official records of his life and death – he was certainly in Lewisham in 1910 when his son Douglas was born, and his was at No. 10 in 1939 (his name incorrectly recorded) – a widower aged 70.  Douglas may have been running the business as war broke out in 1939 – but more on him later when we get to No 9.

After the Felthams moved out the shop was empty for a while, but after the war it was home to some French Polishers and Furniture shop run by Ted Eden who stayed there until 1958.  During the 1960s the shopfront was used by hardware dealers, initially A & L James and then J R Dawson until around 1970.  It then became a ‘Gift Shop’ – presumably trinkets for presents, rather than souvenirs of Lewisham, for around 15 years.  In the 2000s and beyond it was the home to Mayfair (and then Tom’s) barbers. The current usage is as an ‘Asian Massage & Beauty Salon.’

3 Manor Park Parade – As was the case at No 2, No 3 went through a steady flow of traders – empty in 1896, the fruitier was being run by A E Walter & Co, William King and G F Bull in 1900, 1901 and 1905 respectively.  By 1911 Janet Wood’s name was over the window – Kelly’s lists her as a tobacconist; however, that year’s census suggests that she was a ‘Stationer and Newsagent’ – Kelly’s had caught up with this by 1925.  She was helped, in 1911 at least, by her brother and sister. While there was a new name over the window by 1930, Albert Fennell, the business was the same; Albert was there with his wife Ethel when the 1939 Register was conducted.  The business continued in his name until the 1950s.

There was a steady flow of people trying their hand at being a newsagent, no one staying more than a few years Eric Doyle (1960), TC Brush (1965), J & F Rogers (1970) and Mrs TW Grindlay (1975).  R K Patel bucked this trend and was there for some time from around 1980.  As we will see, they also had a convenience store at the other end of the Parade at 16-17.

After a brief interlude as a tattoo parlour, it became a small convenience store for about decade, Aliyah, and has been run as an off licence for the last few years – currently High Road Bottles, a purveyor of bottled craft beer.

4 Manor Park Parade – Arthur Ash was the first shopkeeper in 1900; alas, he was not a tobacconist (or tennis player for that matter) but a confectioner.  He had died by the time the census enumerators called in 1901, and the business was being run by his widow Catherine who was living above the shop with 10 mainly grown up children.  By 1905, Jane Pierce had taken over the reins of the business although her reign had ended by 1911 as James Eddows was the name over the window.  It may have been a posthumous mention as in the census listed over the shop were the Hoddinotts  – their Daughter Ella was listed as a shop assistant in a confectioners, as was Edith Eddows who was listed as a step daughter.

The shop remained a confectioner  after Edward Gilbey took over in the early 1920s and remained a sweet shop under the stewardship of the Bristows from around 1930; initially James, then briefly John and for many years Alice.  It wasn’t listed in 1945 along with most of premises at the western end of the Parade – this may have related to the rationing of sugar during the war.

Alice seems to have kept the business going until close to her death in 1967; No 4 was then home to short-lived occupants – a builders merchants and an osteopath, before becoming the base for South Eastern School of Motoring.  For at least a decade, it has been home to the gentlemen’s hairdresser Barber DJ – undergoing a refurbishment when pictured.

5 Manor Park Parade

Thomas Harris moved into the parade around 1896 and was originally an ‘oilman’ a seller of lamp oil, it was a trade  that was already on the wane at that point, and by the time the 1901 census was taken he was listed as selling china and glass.  He has gone by 1905 and the shop was empty for much of the next two decades.

It had short-lived milliners, drapers and cycle shops before becoming home to W Goddard, Rubber Stamp manufacturers after World War 2. They were a fixture on the Parade until around the late 1980s. Like many businesses they suffered as a result of the 1968 Lewisham floods, when their basement was flooded.  They moved to Bromley and survived until around 2006 when the company was dissolved – no doubt a victim of changing working practices and digitisation.

More recently, the shop has been home to a series of tattoo studios – the current variant notable for the zebra being stalked by a tiger on its roof.

6 Manor Park Parade – Like Arthur Ash at No 4, Richard Macintosh at 6 Manor Park Parade was another who failed to live up to his name; in 1901 the man from Warwickshire he was running a toy shop.  It appears to have been a short-lived business though as he was working as a postman in Lambeth in 1911. The shop was empty in 1911 too; it had been since at least 1905. The toy shop wasn’t the first business as, while empty in 1896, there was a short-lived electric platers business at No 6 from around 1897, S R Bonner.

By 1916 the shop was in competition with No 4 as George McStocker was running a confectioners; the sweet shop changed hands several times with Evelyn Green running the shop by 1920 and Arthur Wheeler in 1925.  By the mid-1930s, the Jacobs, Frederick and Doris, were proprietors, they were there when the 1939 Register was compiled.

Like many of the shops on the parade the shop was empty by the end of the war, there had been no serious bomb damage to the Parade but rationing of sugar will no doubt have led to closures of confectioners.  It remained empty until the mid-1950s when the Royal Arsenal Co-operative butchers arrived – they were to be a feature on the Parade for two decades.

During the 1980s the shop front was home to initially a carpet shop, Plan Flooring, and then a walkie-talkie supplier.  Since 2000 it has been a money transfer bureau and food and a cosmetic shop, and is currently a shoe repairer.

7 Manor Park Parade – like several other shops on the Parade No 7 was empty when first listed in Kelly’s Directory.  The first name over the window seems to have been the draper, Grace Lambert, who was there by 1900; her tenure was a short one as the shop was empty when the census was carried out in 1901.  By 1905 the furniture dealer William Allen was trading from No 7, but like his predecessor he didn’t last long as the shop and maisonette behind were missing from the 1911 census and Kelly’s of the same year.

By 1916 though the cycle makers Brown and Son were there; their business evolved with changing transport and by 1925 they had become motor engineers.  It was a business taken over by Stanley Grey around 1930 – no doubt taking advantage of Lee High Road being based on one of the more accident prone streets in London.

By 1939 though boot repairer Arthur Ackerman there along with his wife, brother and sister in law.  Despite clothing, including shoes and boots being rationed, it wasn’t a business that lasted until the end of the War – the shop was empty in 1945. After a brief interlude as a builder’s merchants, W & H Supplies, in the 1950s; number 7 became home a series of purveyors of car batteries – the name over the window changing several times although was ‘Speed Batteries’ from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s and beyond. In the 2000s it has been home to hair salons – latterly called Porters.

8 Manor Park Parade – while empty when Kelly’s Directory was produced in 1896, by 1898 (see advert above (3))  John Davidson (then 58), a tailor born in Ireland was there – he was to remain there until his death, probably in 1916.  A couple of different costumiers were there in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but other than that the shop seems to have been empty for much of the time until 1960.  The maisonette behind was home to mechanic George Clark in 1939.

Around 1960 George Green opened a fishmongers shop, although he didn’t stay long as M Salih was carrying out the same trade 5 years later.  Fresh fish was turned into fried fish by D Ahmed by 1970, although the ‘churn’ rate continued and ‘George’ was running the shop in 1975.

Presumably after a deep clean to remove the smell and a refit, No 8 became Ann’s Hair Creations for at least a decade from 1980.  By the new century it was a Money Transfer bureau for a while although most recently it is a shop specialising in computer repairs.

9 Manor Park Parade started life as grocers – initially it seems to have been a partnership between Messrs Lewis and Orr, then William Lewis on his own; William died in 1907 and was succeeded by his widow, Susanna.  It was a shop that may well have been not too dissimilar to more recent convenience stores as they had a wine and spirits licence, although were refused a beer licence (4).

The shop was empty during World War 1 but by the mid-1920s James Walker, a cabinet maker was there, he was still there, living over the shop. when war broke out in 1939, married to Ethel.  He was to stay there until the late 1940s.

Douglas Feltham was mentioned earlier as possibly taking over Frank Feltham’s business at No 2 by the time war broke out; presumably Frank was Douglas’ father but could have been a different relative.  In the 1939 Register, Douglas was listed as a ‘Greengrocer, Fruiterer and Florists Shop Keeper’ – he was living in the then suburbia of Brockman Rise (behind the Green Man in Southend) with his wife Dorothy, a hairdresser – perhaps she worked for Albert Elliott who briefly ran the salon at No 1, next door to Frank’s business?  Also in the house were Dorothy’s mother and her sister, the latter who was a shop assistant for a newsagent and stationer – perhaps working for Albert Fennell at No 3?  Douglas had moved to number 10 by 1945 but before the decade was out he had moved the business next door to No 9 initially listed as a florist but from the early 1950s listed as a ‘fruiterer.’

The business was to stay there until the late 1970s as Douglas had moved on by 1980, probably retiring – he lived until 1994 and is buried at Eltham Cemetery.  The family had run businesses in three shops on the Parade for around 60 years.

After a period empty, it became No 9 became the shop front for a printing firm, Realprint before becoming a Mini Cab office in the new millennium, latterly Delta Cars.  It seems to have been empty for the last 6 or 7 years.

The ‘story’ of the Manor Park Parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by the Lewisham and Southwark Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the Parade opened for business around 1896.  These Directories go up to the mid-1980s.  More recent jogging of memories has been via the ‘back catalogue’ of Google’s StreetView which has passed Market Terrace several times since 2008.

If you think that I have got anything wrong or have memories of any of the shops please use the comments field below or in Facebook thread or Twitter post you reached here from. I’ll include some of them when I update the post.

Next week’s post will cover the rest of the Parade.

Notes 

  1. Kentish Mercury 16 September 1898
  2. Kentish Independent 08 September 1905
  3. Kentish Mercury 07 January 1898
  4. Woolwich Gazette 01 October 1897

Picture & Other Credits

  • The photograph of the flooded Eastdown Park and Goddards Rubber Stamps is from the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and it use with their consent;
  • The Kelly’s Directory data is courtesy of a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark Archives
  • Census, 1939 Register and related data is via Find My Past (subscription required)