Prior to the arrival of the railways, Hither Green and Lee were rural, a mixture of farming – such as Lee Manor Farm to the east and North Park Farm to the west of what is now Hither Green Station and the large country houses of Lee including the Manor House and The Firs. The railways directly and indirectly brought lots of new inhabitants, although the distances travelled and the modes of transport changed considerably in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Running Past has touched on Victorian migration before in numerous posts, notably those around shopping parades – such as 1 to 19 Burnt Ash Road, where the family histories of the shopkeepers have been explored. However, in the first of what will be a series of posts, we look at Victorian migration through several streets starting with what was a working class street then called Robertson Street, now Brightfield Road.
It is a street that we have looked at before in a couple of posts on its history – the period when it was Robertson Street and after it changed its name in the late 1880s. It was one of the earlier developments of smaller houses in the area, built around 1862 by the builder and developer John Pound. Its purpose seems to have been to house workers that Pound needed to build larger homes along what was then Burnt Ash Lane (now Road and Hill) towards Grove Park.
By 1881 it was an established community – as we saw in the earlier post, male employment still focused on the building industry, the women of the street were generally working too – mainly employed in washing, ironing and cleaning for the middle classes of the wealthier streets.
So where had these people come from? Census records for 21 houses, then numbered 30 – 50, have been looked at in terms of birthplaces. There were 33 households in those houses with 72 adults and 54 children. We’ll look at the adults first.
Given that the area had been developing since the early 1850s and the street since 1862, it is slightly surprising how few of the Robertson Street adults had been born in Lee, only 6 (8%), with the same number hailing from either neighbouring Lewisham or Blackheath.
21% came from established communities along the Thames from Chelsea to Woolwich via Deptford. Another half dozen (8%) from the rest of what was then London – so, in total, only just over a third were Londoners by birth.
Much of the migration though was relatively local – almost 1 in 5 (19%) came from the rural communities of Kent and Surrey, including many towns and villages now subsumed into London such as Eltham, Bromley and Chislehurst – all were separate in 1881.
The equal biggest group (21%) came from East Anglia – almost all from rural communities, many from hamlets which have now almost disappeared. They are plotted on the map below.
The rest came from either the Home Counties (4%) or from a variety of other locations around southern England plus one from Wales and one who was off map who was born in an unknown location in Scotland.
Their children were very different though – of the 54, 40 had been born in Lee and, of the rest, all but three were Londoners.
One of the longer distances travelled were by a couple from North Norfolk, the Harpers. Charles Harper was a bricklayer at number 42 who came from Roydon near Kings Lynn around 110 miles from Lee. Born in 1846 he was still in Roydon in 1861, aged 14, working as a bricklayer, probably with his father who was in the same trade. A decade later he was married to Elizabeth, who was from nearby Hunstanton in Norfolk. They had moved to London and were living at 18 Summerfield Street in Lee with Charles still working as a bricklayer, the street is pictured below. Like the houses in Robertson Street, they were built and rented out by John Pound many housing the labour for his building firm.
The family was still in Lee in 1891 – living at 7 Manor Lane, possibly working for WJ Scudamore, whose base was a couple of doors away (pictured below from 2015). Beyond 1891 the trail goes cold on them though. Like most of their neighbours in Robertson Street, all of their six children were born in Lee.
A later post will look at migration to one of the wealthier streets of Victorian Lee, probably Handen Road, to see whether the patterns of migration are different there.
Census and related data comes via Find My Past, subscription required
The maps have been created via Google Maps using 1881 census data
There were serious floods in Lewisham in September 1968 which Running Past covered on their 50th anniversary. Previous floodings of the Ravensbourne, Quaggy and Pool were mentioned in passing at that stage, including a reference to some very serious ones 90 years earlier in 1878. It is to these that we now turn our attention. In syndicated press reports it was reported that in Lewisham the ‘whole of the village (was) 3 or 4 feet deep in water’ (1).
The 19th century had seen several inundations of Lee and Lewisham – Victorian historian FH Hart noted very serious floods in 1814 as the ice melted following one of the last big freezes of the Little Ice Age – the last time there was a frost fair on the Thames. There had also been really bad ones in 1853 and another flooding following a period of heavy rain on Christmas Eve 1876 – but the 1878 ones were described as being ‘the worst in living memory’ (2).
The spring of 1878 seems to have been a very dry warm one with surfaces left hardened. From the early hours of Thursday 11 April 1868, 3¼ inches (83 mm) of rain fell in 12 hours while this was the highest for 64 years, it was substantially less that the rainfall that led to the 1968 floods.
Unlike the floods 90 years later in 1968, where the devastation was similar in the three catchments of the Ravensbourne, Pool and Quaggy; in 1878 it was mainly in the Quaggy and the Ravensbourne below the confluence with the Quaggy near Plough Bridge – named after the pub of the same name (pictured just before its demolition around 2007).
This is not to say the other parts of the catchment escaped – there was flooding higher up the Ravensbourne with Shortlands impassable; the local landowners at Southend, the Forster’s, home was flooded and the nearby bridge on Beckenham Lane (now Hill Road) was washed away – the bridge that replaced is pictured in the background of the postcard below. The cricket pitches by Catford stations were flooded up to sills of pavilion windows. Similarly, Bell Green was impassable on the River Pool (5).
The local press though focussed on the Quaggy and lower Ravensbourne – we’ll follow the trail of destruction and damage downstream from Lee Green.
At Lee Green the basement of the shops at what was then called Eastbourne Terrace on Eltham Road (to the left of the photo, a couple of decades later) were completely flooded out with seemingly some flooding at ground level too.
Further downstream where the Quaggy is bridged by Manor Lane, the road was impassable. The area was in a period of transition from its rural past to suburbia, having been opened up by the railways through (but not stopping at) Hither Green, Lee and Blackheath. There were still some larger houses from the exclusive village past – all situated in the higher ground around Old Road and on the hill between Lee High Road and Belmont Hill. The lower lying fields were under water as was any housing built on the flood plain. The same continued downstream through what is now Manor Park – the course of the Quaggy was a little different at that stage though.
The houses that had been completed on what is now Leahurst Road (then a dog leg of Ennersdale Road) which backed onto the Quaggy were badly flooded. As a result of the 1876 floods, the local Board of Works had built a large concrete wall, an early use of the material, to try to reduce the impact of future floods. It was described as ‘perfectly useless’ as water bypassed it and inundated the houses in Eastdown Park. The wall is still there – extended upwards a little after the 1878 floods.
There was a small dairy on Weardale Road, probably next door to the Rose of Lee. Unsurprisingly it became flooded and the cowherd turned out the 30 cows who were found wandering in the water on Manor Park. The were taken to the higher ground of Lee Manor Farm. Elsewhere in Lee, pigs were drowned.
Beyond the Rose of Lee the relatively newly built Eastdown Park bridge ‘blown up by the force of the water.’ The bridge between Weardale Road and Eastdown Park also seems to have been destroyed.
The food waters became deeper as they went down Lee High Road, up to 1.2 metres (4’) deep in the houses of Elm Place, just before Clarendon Rise (then Road). The Sultan on the other side Clarendon Rise was badly flooded too – the third time that this had happened in a decade as the publican, Robert Janes, explained in the press. The pub is pictured below from the next century.
Beyond the Sultan, flood waters flowed both over and under the road – at one point it was expected that the culvert from the bottom of Belmont Hill to St Stephens church might be destroyed but in the end it was just the road surface that was wrecked – this is the high pavement that now stands in front of the police station.
The roadway in front of St Stephens several feet underwater – with the Roebuck, Plough and other pubs such as the Albion all flooded. Boats used to ferry people through Lewisham. There was a real bottle neck around Plough Bridge, the ‘utter insufficiency’ of the narrow Plough Bridge to carry off ordinary storm water was regarded as one of the causes too. The whole area around Lewisham Bridge (pictured below from a few decades later) badly flooded, particularly Molesworth and Rennell Streets and unsurprisingly Esplanade Cottages in the middle of the Ravensbourne, along with the pub the Maid in Mill and rest of Mill Lane.
An iron girder bridge at Stonebridge Villas was washed down along with a wall by the railway, built to try to reduce flooding a year before was washed away – hundreds of houses on the lower lying parts of what became the Orchard estate to the east of the Ravensbourne were inundated. It was the same with the market gardens on the western side, along with large swathes of Deptford. Virtually all the area around the Ravensbourne on the map below from 15 years later was left underwater.
In addition to the high rainfall there was a clear underlying cause which was summed up well by a local man, Frederick Barff, who had grown up in Lee when it was still rural but was living in Eastdown Park in 1871 and if still there in 1878 would have been flooded out. He observed that prior to the development of Lee from the mid-1850s while there had been flooding, it initially stood in large areas of fields which absorbed the runoff without major consequences. The growth of Victorian suburbia had led to increased run off and more water ending up in rivers and stream and at a quicker pace (6).
In the immediate aftermath a temporary wooden bridge over the Quaggy between Weardale Road and Eastdown Park was approved the following day by the Metropolitan Board of Works (7).
There was a public meeting at the Plough on the Friday (next day) to ‘consider the best means of alleviating the distress amongst the poor of Lewisham, Lee, Blackheath and Catford. Crowded by the clergymen, parish officials and leading tradesmen of the district.’ In days before the state intervened in disasters like this it was left to charity to provide ‘coal and relief to those poor people in the district’ whose homes had been flooded. Over £200 was collected or promised for the Lewisham and Lee Inundation Relief Fund – with £120 going to the parishes of St Mark and St Stephen in central Lewisham that had been worst affected; £50 for Ladywell; with £50 for Lee and Blackheath.
So, what happened afterwards? The approach that was used was one that continued towards the end of the 20th century and the 1968 floods – straightening and deepening rivers to try to move water on more rapidly. This happened on the Quaggy behind what is now Brightfield Road – as the maps from 1863 and 1893 show. The Quaggy was also moved and straightened between Manor Park and Longhurst Roads – this happened a little later once the land was developed for housing.
Several bridges were replaced – the partially destroyed Eastdown Park bridge was rebuilt and replaced with a girder one (see below from the river), the river level is lower there now too, although whether this happened post 1878 or 1968 isn’t immediately clear (8).
Plough Bridge was replaced in 1881 by the Metropolitan Board of Works (9) having been preceded by ‘general dredging and clearing the channels of the river’ (10). Later a new sewer between Lee Bridge and Deptford Creek was constructed to try to take some pressure off the rivers from run off (11).
Another bridge replaced by the Board of Works was the one on Lee Road. Previously this had been a ford and footbridge, but a large single span bridge replaced it following the floods, presumably with a lowering of the river bed (12).
The underlying problems remained though, making flows quicker may alleviate problems in one location but without storage and a whole catchment solution, including the ability to control flows on the Thames it wasn’t much better than a sticker plaster. The fields that had acted as sponges continued to be developed and increased run off. In reality, not much had changed by the 1968 floods and it took the development of flood storage in Sutcliffe Park (pictured below) in the early 2000s to really make much difference. Without it Lewisham would regularly flood – it is pictured from late 2020.
Most of the information for this post comes from the Kentish Mercury of 27 April 1878 which covered the flooding and its aftermath in depth. Readers can assume that contemporary information comes from there unless otherwise referenced.
A while ago Running Past looked at Northbrook Cricket club who had a ground In an area bounded by Manor Lane, the railway from Hither Green, Burnt Ash Hill and Holme Lacey Road. They had cricketing next door neighbours – Granville, whose ground had some illustrious visitors and parts of whose story we will look at now.
Unlike Northbrook, the club wasn’t formed in Lee, it had been in existence in Blackheath for 18 years before it arrived in Lee in 1884, a decade after its neighbours. Like Northbrook, it was a name that related to local landowners. The name Granville appears in several street names including on the northeastern side of Lewisham High Street, Granville Park and the lost Granville Mews – the ‘ghost’ of its name superimposed over the lovely Holdaway ghost sign on Belmont Hill.
Long and Lazy Lewisham blog noted the derivation earlier in the year – it was a family middle name used by the Eliot family who were the Earls of St Germans. It would have been the 3rd Earl of St Germans, Edward Granville Eliot, who the parish would have been referring to when naming the streets.
The club appears to have been set up by Pearse Morrison (1) a commercial stationer and printer, who lived in Blackheath at a house on one of those streets named after the Earls of St Germans – 5 Eliot Park (2).
They played on the Heath (3), the freeholders for which were the Legge family, later the Earls of Dartmouth; there were 18 adult cricket pitches on the Heath in 1890 and no doubt a similar number a few years before (4). However, there was no booking system for pitches with a “first there has the ground” rule (5), so for a club with seemingly wealthy members it may have encouraged them to look elsewhere.
The moved to Lee was for the 1884 season, that campaign was good one – they played 23 won 11, lost 2, drew 10 (6).
A prominent name in the club around the time of the move to Lee was ‘Furze’ who lived at The Laurels, also known as Laurel Cottage, a large house on Hither Green Lane from the mid to late 1860s until the early 1880s. It was initially home to wine merchant Thomas Holloway Furze who died in 1869, and his wife Emma who died in 1882. At least three of their sons played for the club (7).
Frederic, born in 1852, who was the club Vice President in 1878 (8). He moved to Copers Cope Road in Beckenham by 1881, along with his brother Edwin, it seems that they took over his father’s wine business.
Herbert Furze (1856), unlike his brothers, became a stationer and after living at The Laurels in 1881, he had married and moved to Foots Cray by 1891.
Edwin (1858) was also living at the The Laurels in 1881, but moved closer to the ground and in 1891 was at 56 Handen Road. Edwin was still playing at that point and in pictured in the 1893 team photo, which we’ll cover later.
During the 1890s a well known name played in several matches against Granville – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who played for Norwood. Conan Doyle was a decent cricketer and played several First Class matches for the MCC, just down the road from 221B Baker Street. His cricketing claim to fame was getting perhaps the biggest wicket of all, W G Grace.
The game’s afoot …..Conan Doyle’s first match in Lee was in 1891, when C J M Godfrey ripped through the Norwood batting taking five wickets, more on Godfrey later. Doyle fell cheaply, stumped off W Edwards bowling, taking no wickets himself. Like all the other batsmen he struggled on a rain sodden pitch in Norwood in a drawn game in September 1892. In July 1894 a Conan Doyle 38 saved the Norwood from defeat in Second XI match in Lee.
Later the same season, he opened the batting for the 1st XI in a fixture at Norwood’s Pavillon Grounds, getting 20 before Helder bowled him, one of 8 wickets taken by him. Whilst Doyle picked up a wicket it wasn’t enough to prevent a heavy defeat to Granville.
A Granville team photograph survives for the 1893 season. Many of the names are ‘lost’ in terms of who they were but a few are worth mentioning. Charles John Melville (C J M) Godfrey was a professional who the club employed. He was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm fast bowler who played a handful of first class matches for Sussex between 1885 and 1892 with a career best bowling of 5 for 22 in 1890, and a best of 17 with the bat in his final match against Yorkshire in 1892. Whilst playing for Oxford University his bowling was described as ‘energetic, if erratic’.
Perch (bottom row) was the grounds man (9) – it isn’t clear whether the lack of initial related to this status. Edwin Furze (next to bottom row) we’ve already covered above. George Helder, who we’d seen above taking the wicket of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was the son of the Vicar of St Mildred’s church, a few hundred metres from the ground – he was 17 in 1893.
Philip P Lincoln lived at a house almost opposite St Mildred’s church and was a Lime and Cement merchant. He seems to have continued his involvement in the club until the outbreak of World War 1. Hope was expressed that he would be able to keep the club going after the loss of the ground (10).
R A (Richard Alfred) Glover, the bearded man in the centre of the picture, was the owner of the Wenlock Brewery in Hoxton, who lived at 143 Burnt Ash Road. He was presumably an officer of the club and will have made sure that the bar was well supplied. He’d moved onto Croydon by the time of his death in 1898.
During the 1893 season their primary matches were against Bickley Park, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Hampstead, Tunbridge Wells, Charlton Park, Streatham, Forest Hill, Hornsey, Blackheath, Bradfield Waifs, and a benefit against MCC and Ground (11) the ‘MCC’ were the amateurs who were members, the ‘Ground’ the professionals. There was no league structure and the games were virtually all friendlies.
1893 saw the tradition of an August tour of Sussex continue with a week of matches in Eastbourne, St Leonards and Willingdon (12).
There was also a home Granville Cricket Week in early August – the 1893 edition included games against Old Chigwellians, Border Regiment, Stoics, Eltham and a defeat to Forest Hill (13).
Fast forward into the new century a name appeared in the Granville scorecards that will be familiar to most people – W G Grace. Running Past covered his later years in south London a while ago. The last club he played for was Eltham and his first match for them was against Granville on 28 May 1910, at Chapel Farm (the current site of Coldharbour Leisure Centre). His impact was limited, while he opened the batting for Eltham he was trapped leg before wicket for 3 (14). An excellent scalp for an unnamed Granville bowler – likely to be either A S Johnson or J A Rutter who seem to have opened the bowling much of that season.
As well as turning out for Eltham, Grace still played for the MCC and captained them in their regular appearance at the Granville Cricket Week in 1912. Granville were made to bat and skittled out for 63; the MCC after an early wobble comfortably surpassed the home team’s score. E L Downey took 5-36 for Granville. In the other fixtures at Lee that week, they lost a thrilling final match to Guys Hospital by 2 runs despite a good opening partnership between J O Anderson and N Cockell. Earlier in the week Anderson had put together a team which Granville had beaten. They had also lost heavily to a Hampstead team that contained Harold Baumgartner who played Test Cricket for South Africa – his slow left-arm spin on a drying pitch had bewildered the Granville batsman – taking 9 wickets very cheaply, eight of them bowled (15).
Grace appeared again in Lee for the MCC in 1913, they heavily defeated the men from Granville scoring well over 300 before dismissing the home team for less than 100, Grace’s contribution is not known. In the Granville Cricket Week that year there were three victories for the home team – against Forest Hill, Hampstead and J Anderson’s XI, with defeats Wanderers, Richmond as well as the MCC. In games against J Anderson’s XI and Hampstead (and possibly others) there was a significant name playing for Granville, Cyril ‘Snuffy’ Brown who scored a century and took 9 wickets in the first of these (16).
Brown was a West Indian Test cricketer described as ‘a devastating bowler and attacking batsman’ who was a pioneer of bowling the ‘googly.’ He had already played for Barbados and the West Indies against the MCC when he came to London to train as a barrister in 1911. He mainly played for Clapham Rovers but in an era where clubs only played friendlies he turned out for several others, including Granville. It wasn’t just his bowling that impressed – he was described as ‘a brilliant field(er), and a splendid batsman; he has an easy style and can pull a ball with remarkable ease’ (17).
He returned to the West Indies in 1914, going on to be the first black captain of an island team, and had it not been for the racism within West Indies cricket may well have gone on to captain the Test team.
An article in the Sporting Life in 1913 noted that the end was nigh for the ground, with development planned for after the 1914 season. World War One brought cricket to a halt there most sport – as we saw with Catford Southend. Cricket doesn’t seem to have restarted in Lee after the war (18).
The housing took a while to arrive – Holme Lacey Road was built by W J Scudamore in the early 1920s. The pavilion whose steps, W G Grace, and Snuffy Browne walked down is now occupied by 53 and 55 (pictured).
The Granville ‘square’ where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will have taken guard was covered by the Chiltonian Biscuit factory which had moved on from Staplehurst Road. Today, it is the home of the Chiltonian Industrial Estate, pictured below, the square would have been at the far end of the photograph.
12 October 1878 – Kentish Mercury
20 July 1877 – Kent & Sussex Courier
19 June 1913 – Sporting Life Re Heath
Neil Rhind (1987) The Heath pp 55-56
26 September 1884 – Kentish Mercury
12 October 1878 – Kentish Mercury
21 September 1893 – Cricket
19 June 1913 – Sporting Life
13 April 1893 – Cricket
19 April 1893 – Sporting Life
10 August 1893 – Sporting Life
02 June 1910 -Cricket
19 June 1912 – The Sportsman
19 June 1913 – Sporting Life
07 September 1912 – Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News
19 June 1913 – Sporting Life
Picture and Other Credits
The drawing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is via the Illustrated London News on 25 May 1901
The photograph of Snuffy Brown is via the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 07 September 1912
The picture of W G Grace is from a year or two before he played for Eltham, as it is in the colours of London County, it is on a Wikimedia Creative Commons
Census and related data comes via Find My Past, subscription required
The 1893 team photograph & the picture of the Chiltonian Biscuit Factory are part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission but remains their copyright
The map showing the location of the ground is on a non-commercial licence via the National Library of Scotland
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.
Norwood News 16 December 1927
Kentish Mercury 22 April 1910
Sheffield Independent 10 March 1936
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
In the first part of this post, we explored the 19th century history of Brightfield Road from its building as Robertson Street to its extension and renaming in the 1880s. We turn now to the 20th century and beyond, looking in particular at how the street fared in the World Wars.
We pick up the story with the 1901 census; the street had changed in the late Victorian period from homes for the building trades employed by John Pound, and other local builders, as well as for servants for the large houses in Lee, to a wider mixture of working class occupations. Looking at the lower numbers at the eastern end of the street, little had changed by 1901 with a mixture of working class jobs such as road mender, carpenter, horse keeper and coachman (this excludes the shops which we will return to in a later post).
The average size of households had reduced to 5.3 (from 5.8 a decade before) mainly as a result of slightly fewer households taking in lodgers and/or houses being split between households. This was much smaller than the numbers in the not dissimilar homes in Ardmere Road in Hither Green which were built at around the same time.
There was little change by 1911, although the average household size dropped again to 4.5. The nature of the jobs was little different though – manual trades and still lots relating to horse based transport.
The street fared badly in World War One, many of the sons, brothers and husbands of the households were either volunteers or conscripts to fight on the battlefields of France and Belgium – eight of them never returned home to Lee all were buried in cemeteries or remembered on memorials close to where they died.
William Upton of number 42 was a Driver in the Royal Engineers and died on 13 March 1918. He was a labourer in civvy street and was around 25 when he died; he was buried at Sailly-Labourse Cemetery in France.
Sidney George Munday lived five doors up from William Upton at 52, he was a Private with The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). He was 21 when he died on 14 April 1918 and is remembered at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.
William Henry Church had lived just over the road at 33, he was just 20 when he died serving as a Private in the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) on 18 September 1916. He was buried at Etaples Military Cemetery in northern France.
Willie J Church was just 18 when he died on 6 June 1918, serving as a Private in the London Regiment. He is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery in France. He lived at number 85, it isn’t clear whether he was related to William Henry Church.
Arthur John Cobb will have known Willie, as he lived two doors away at 89 with his wife Gertie. They served in the same Regiment too. Arthur died on 18 February 1917 and was buried in France at Merville Communal Cemetery Extension.
Alfred William Meggs lived seven doors down at 75, he was 20 and serving as a Corporal with the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) when he died on 3 October 1916. He is remembered at the Thiepval Memorial, pictured above.
William George Bickle had lived five doors away at 65, he died two days after Christmas in 1915 aged just 16, the youngest on the street to perish. He shouldn’t have been there but, probably like Willie Church he will have lied about his age – soldiers needed to be 18 to sign up and 19 to be sent abroad as we saw with Herbert Burden from Catford who was shot for desertion aged just 17.
As World War Two broke out, the numbers living in the smaller houses at the eastern end of Brightfield Road were probably the lowest that there had ever been in the street’s existence – an average of just 2.9 people per home. A large chunk of this related to the evacuation of children in September 1939, just before the ‘census’ for rationing purposes was taken, the 1939 Register. However, even taking this into account household size had reduced with very few lodgers and a lot more houses just inhabited by couples and single people. This will probably be at least in part as a result of limited non-contributory pensions being paid from 1909.
Since 1911 all the horse related trades had disappeared and the eastern end of the street was home to several involved in train, lorry and tram related transport. There were several working at the Royal Arsenal making armaments. Very few had the ‘Heavy Work’ suffix to their role which would have allowed them to have larger rations though. The difference with Ardmere Road here is significant. A slightly smaller proportion of women worked to 28 years before in 1911, but the trades were little more diverse – still mainly shop, laundry and work and dressmaking though.
There were a couple of nights heavy bombing in early December 1940, on the nights of the 8th and 9th of December. Given the significance of these nights in the area we’ll return at some point but several houses had incendiary bombs hit them – 19, 20, 22, 43, 46, 52, 60, 113 and 123. All seemed to have been put out and the houses remain. There was a high explosive bomb that seems to have landed in the rear garden of 95 without causing too much damage.
Just after Christmas incendiary bombs rained down on 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.
Early in 1941 there was a high explosive bomb that hit the roadway close to the bridge over the Quaggy, several houses were destroyed or had to be demolished due to the resulting major gas explosion (1). The damage is the darker colours is shown on the bottom left hand corner of the map below (2). No one died with only two requiring optional treatment but there was widespread damage in terms of broken windows and major structural damage to houses up to 100 metres away (3).
On the odd side, 103 – 107 were never replaced and the gap was used to form an entrance to Manor House Gardens. Over the road, whilst the last house, 92 (at the left of the photograph) survived, 84 to 90 didn’t and they were replaced by private sector housing after the war.
So who lives there now? While it isn’t possible to use census data from 2011 just for the street there is a Output Area that relates to most of the street, along with Lampmead Road. The employment categories are very different to the census data that we have looked at before. The main employment types of the 196 residents in employment were shops (7%), finance, insurance and banking (10%), professional and scientific (13%), education (19%) and health (7%). It will be interesting to see what changes there are when the 2021 Census results are collated.
Most of the homes seem to be owner occupied homes – although there are eight or nine owned by property companies letting the homes and three are let by social landlords. The change is massive compared with when the homes were built as Robertson Street when virtually all will have been privately rented.
Certainly rising house prices will make affordability nigh on impossible for the sort of people that lived there before World War Two. One of the bigger houses was sold for £842,500 in 2020 – now single-family dwellings, when built they had been ‘conveniently arranged for two families. Let to very respectable tenants at 12/- a week’ in 1892 (4).
One of the smaller houses sold for just under £500,000 just before the first lockdown.
We will return to Brightfield Road at some point in the future to look at the shops that used to be on the street.
Phyllis Willmott (1988) Coming of Age in Wartime London, Peter Owen p51
Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 p116
Willmott op cit p51
Kentish Mercury 25 July 1892
Permission has been given by the copyright owners of the Bomb Damage Maps, the London Metropolitan Archives to use the image here, it reamins their copyright
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The photographs of the VE Day party is part of the collection of the Lewisham Archives, it is used with their permission and remains their copyright;
Streets having their names changed is nothing unusual – we’ve covered it a couple of times before with Dermody Road (formerly Hocum Pocum Lane), Waite Davies Road (formerly (Butterfield Street). Similarly, on the other side of Lee High Road the bottom of Dacre Park was previously known as Turner Road. Like the second two examples, there is fading evidence of a painted street sign bearing the earlier name. However, it isn’t as easy to decipher the former name, Robertson Street, due to multiple layers of faint paint, re-pointing and a burglar alarm. In a pair of blog posts we’ll tell the history of the street – from its building to the present day.
The builder of the original part was someone we’ve covered several times before, John Pound, mainly in relation to his house building but also shops on Burnt Ash Road, pubs and Lee Public Halls. The street was built by Pound around 1862 (1), with applications made to the Board of Works that March for drainage connections. The land was owned by Lord Northbrook, although it doesn’t seem to have been farmed as part of Lee Manor Farm – it isn’t in the farm map of 1846 – and the estate seems to have retained the freehold post development (2) as permission was sought from Lord Northbrook’s agent for some work.
The homes were unlike most of those in the rest of the area at the time. The arrival of the railway in Blackheath had seen substantial homes with space for servants built to the north of Lee High Road. The function of these smaller houses was similar to those in Lee New Town – providing homes for the servants who didn’t ‘live-in’ and working classes of mid-Victorian Lee. There was another function too, large-scale housing development in what was then suburbia needed somewhere for the building labourers and trades to live in an era without cheap public transport. Pound seems to have done the same around Waite Davies Road and Summerfield Street for his brickworks in South Lee. It was a pattern followed by Cameron Corbett with houses in Sandhurst Road a few decades later.
Pound also seems to have built the neighbouring Hedgely Street – he made an application for sewer connections in 1868 (3). The street was adopted and paved in 1871 at a cost of 4/6d on the rates for occupiers – not the landlord (4).
So, who were the early occupants? We’ll look at the first 20 houses in the 1871 census, the first census they appeared in; while the numbers appeared as consecutive in the census reports it isn’t clear whether this was the case on the ground. The numbering is now odds and evens. The shops have been ignored for now, but may be returned to in a later post.
The majority (52%) of heads of household were working in the building trade, mainly skilled trades with the remainder split between various forms of domestic service and other trades. Relatively few of the women worked, but those who did, tended to be listed in the census as charwoman or laundress. While not in in the houses reviewed in detail, elsewhere in the street there were farm labourers housed – presumably still working at either Burnt Ash, Lee Manor or Horn Park which were all still working at that stage.
Almost half of the houses were either home to two households or took in a lodger, there were some very overcrowded homes as a result – 13 lived at no 17 for example. Almost all the households had children.
A decade later the average number in each house was 6.7 (it had been 5.5 in 1871), mainly due to an increase in lodgers and shared houses. More women were working, although the trades were mainly around washing, ironing and cleaning. Male employment had changed little too, the majority working in the building trades.
Unsurprisingly, there was some crime relating to the street, a fair amount of it alcohol related. John Mahoney had to be removed by heavies from the Tiger’s Head for being drunk and aggressive. He then went over the road to what is now referred to as the New Tiger’s Head, but press reports called the Little Tiger, where he was arrested after falling asleep drunk. He then violently assaulted the arresting officer for which he spent 6 weeks in prison (5).
Robert Stow was found guilty of assaulting a police officer after being arrested for being drunk and disorderly outside the nearby Duke of Edinburgh – his defence was that he didn’t know it was a policeman and that he’d had too much rum to drink cut no ice with the magistrates. He was fined 20/- or 2 weeks in prison (6).
Theft wasn’t completely absent though – Thomas Upton (23) a labourer from 19 Robertson Street charged with stealing 25 hens from Blackheath Park and then selling them in Greenwich. He was sent to prison for 14 days (7).
The western side of the terrace backed not onto the Quaggy, as it does now, but onto a path from that broadly followed what is now Aislibie Road. After the floods in 1878 and probably also to allow better development of the land that was to form Lampmead Road, the Quaggy was deepened, straightened and took the route of the path. The differences are clear between the 1863 (top map below) and 1893 visits of the Ordnance Survey Cartographers.
The extension of the street to the northern side of the Quaggy seems to have happened around 1885 following the piecemeal sale of the Lee House estate. The builder may well have been George Mitchell; he made the application for connecting the new homes Brightfield Road to the existing sewers in what was still referred to as Robertson Street. John Pound asked for money for the connection (8). It is assumed that these would be the homes that are now numbered 109 to 127 Brightfield Road (some of which are pictured below), but could have been those to the south over the Quaggy.
Three years later a decision was made by the Metropolitan Board of Works in March 1888 to change street names in the area. It seems that Lampmead Road was created, it had originally been a dog-leg of Lenham Road going towards Lee High Road. The biggest change was in relation to Brightfield Road – from 1883 it had run from Old Road and then dog-legged around to the new homes built by George Mitchell. The section from Old Road now became Aislibie Road and Brightfield Road, while shortened to the north took expanded over the river and Robertson Street was no more (9). In addition to the remains of the painted sign, a stone one remains and is now part of a garden wall.
The new Brightfield Road had changed a lot by 1891 compared with the last census for Robertson Street. John Pound’s building work had finished in the area and only 8% of the heads of household at the eastern end of the street were working in the building industry, just over a third were servants – mainly jobs relating to horses with the remainder a wide variety of manual jobs. As was the case a decade earlier a lot of the women worked – mainly as dressmakers and laundresses. Most households had children and most of the houses were either shared or homes to lodgers too – overcrowding remained, although it was less bad than in 1881 – the average was 5.8 rather than 6.7 a decade earlier.
There were a few sales of the houses which seemed to be all tenanted over the next few years. In 1892, 111 -125 (odds) were up for sale at auction. These are the larger houses backing on to Manor House Gardens, then let as a military crammer school before the House and Gardens were sold to the London County Council in 1898. The particulars of the sale of the houses in Brightfield Road noted the proximity to Lee and Blackheath stations. Each house was ‘conveniently arranged for two families. Let to very respectable tenants at 12/- a week.’ There were unexpired leases of 92 years (10).
Three years later some more of the later houses, 75-79 which were adjacent to the original houses were sold – they were advertised as being on long leases, having a weekly rent of 12/- and an annual ground rent of £5 (11).
The change in name didn’t stop crime relating to the street in 1897, Emma Agate was arrested for theft of a large number of garments from Lee Public Halls Steam Laundry (in early 2021 home to Travis Perkins off Holme Lacey Road) where she worked as an ironer, she was found with a number of pawn tickets. She denied the charges but was remanded in custody (12).
There were a couple of bigamy cases – William James was charged with bigamously marrying Mary Bator of number 61 in 1889 (13). Four years later, Walter Garland admitted to a bigamous marriage to Alexandra Taylor of 60 Brightfield Road (14).
We’ll leave Brightfield Road at the end of the 19th century, returning in the second part to cover the 20th century and beyond.
Kentish Mercury 22 March1862
Kentish Independent 01 June 1872
Kentish Independent 10 October 1868
Kentish Independent 16 December 1871
Kentish Mercury 18 June 1870
Kentish Mercury 30 October 1875
Kentish Independent 10 April 1886
Kentish Independent 02 May 1885
Kentish Mercury 9 March 1888
Kentish Mercury 25 July 1892
Kentish Mercury 29 September 1895
Woolwich Gazette 27 August 1897
Kentish Mercury 13 June 1890
Woolwich Gazette 27 April 1894
The maps are on a Non-Commercial Licence via the National Library of Scotland
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The photo of the stone sign is courtesy of Frederic Heffer
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Era 2 October 1859
The Era 17 February 1861
Kentish Mercury 04 October 1862
Kentish Mercury 24 October 1863
Morning Advertiser 11 July 1864
Morning Advertiser 13 March 1861
Morning Advertiser 3 August 1864
Kentish Gazette 22 September 1868
Morning Advertiser 27 June 1868
Morning Advertiser 26 November 1866
The Era – 17 November 1867
Kentish Independent 19 August 1871
Kentish Mercury 19 August 1871
Morning Advertiser 12 February 1872
Ken White (1992) The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham p236
Kentish Mercury 16 May 1874
White op cit p236
The Sportsman 18 December 1885
Kentish Mercury 14 January 1887
Kentish Mercury 28 August 1896
Kentish Independent 10 July 1897
Kentish Mercury 11 May 1900
Sporting Life 31 March 1906
Sporting Life 5 May 1906
Kentish Mercury 12 February 1897
Kentish Mercury 08 November 1907
Kentish Mercury 09 July 1909
Kentish Mercury 27 February 1903
Woolwich Gazette 15 December 1905
Woolwich Gazette 30 March 1906
Globe 9 November 1910
Globe 23 July 1918
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
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.
Phyllis Willmott (1988) Coming of Age in Wartime p50
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.
In the first part of this post we looked at the shopping parade of 1-19 Burnt Ash Road, following its evolution from housing built on the site of Lee Green Farm until the outbreak of World War One. As had been the case with the shops opposite, it seemed to be a thriving parade at this stage – empty shops something of a rarity, certainly when compared with Manor Park Parade, closer to Lewisham. We continue the story, taking it to the the end of the parade when the bulldozers arrived, ahead of the building of the Leegate Centre.
The Bank had opened around 1906 as a branch of the London and Provincial Bank; there was a name change in 1918 following a merger with the London and South Western Bank, who had a branch that we’ve already covered at the junction of Lee High and Brightfield Roads. The combined name was the snappily titled London, Provincial and South Western Bank. Probably by the time the sign writers had finished the new title, it had become redundant as it was taken over by Barclays later in 1918. It seems to have stayed a bank until the parade was demolished, although the address changed to Eltham Road in the mid-1930s.
The watchmaker and jeweller Robert Fielding who had been at the Clock House from around 1906, remained there until the late 1920s. Fielding would have been 80 in 1930 and presumably retired to Bromley where he died that year.
There was a new business, a chemist that was there until at least the beginning of World War 2, run by W George, latterly trading as George’s Chemist. It was bought out by the national chain Bannister and Thatcher, who eventually became part of Lloyds Chemists. Oddly, at around the same time they opened another shop on the opposite side of the road in what was originally called Burnt Ash Parade – the late 1930s development in the southwestern quadrant of Lee Green. They remained at the Clock House, latterly referred to as no 1, until the end of the parade.
1a Burnt Ash Road
1a was referred to before and after World War 1, but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers. They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.
However, by 1925 there was some clarity and the firm John Lovibond was trading out of 1a. Their managers seemed to live on site; in 1939, it was Harold McLuskie who lived there with wife Constance, a lodger and three others, probably children.
John Lovibond & Sons were the owners of the Greenwich Brewery at 177 Greenwich High Road, almost next to the station, although it was a firm which originated in Somerset. They stopped brewing in 1959 to concentrated on selling wines and spirits through a chain of shops, including the one in Burnt Ash Road. They continued there until the demolition of the shops in the mid-1960s; the remaining shops were sold to Wine Ways in 1968, and many subsequently on to Victoria Wines.
1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road
We’d left 1 and 3, along with a big chunk of the shops around the corner in Eltham Road under the stewardship of Griffiths & Co. They had bought out the drapery, furnishing and ironmongery empire of C H Reed from Charles Reed’s son William around 1905.
By 1920 the shops had been sold back to the Reeds – initially trading as William Reed and then known as Reeds (Lee) by 1925. The second name change reflected the death of William in 1924. He was succeeded by his brother Ernest, who seems to have run the business until the 1950s. It appears likely that the site was redeveloped at around the time of the re-acquisition to allow for a single premises straddling the corner of Burnt Ash and Eltham Roads, although the Bank remained.
By 1960, the shop front was home to Barker Clark Estate Development Company, perhaps a firm related to the creation of the Leegate Centre
5 Burnt Ash Road
We’d left the shop front being run by a firm of builders’ merchants called Barnes Brothers as World War 1 approached. By 1916 though the premises were being used by a firm of ironmongers – a trade that was to continue until the bulldozers demolished the parade in the early 1960s.
Initially, it was run by Holeman and Hyland. The Holeman was Charles Herbert Holeman. Charles was born in Peckham in 1878 and had been living in East Dulwich, working as an electrical engineer in 1911. In 1939 he was living ‘over-the-shop’ with wife Janet plus two adult daughters, one of whom was a clerk at a draper’s shop, perhaps for Reeds next door – it was just Charles name over the door by the outbreak of World War 2 and it probably remained there until his death in 1957.
The business continued as Godfreys until the parade’s demise.
7 Burnt Ash Road
Before the outbreak of World War 1, number 7 was a florist – Harriet Walton had taken over the shop after the death of her husband James in 1913. It was a well-established business that had previously traded round the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace. By 1930 their son Walter was running the business.
The Waltons sold up by 1935 – they remained in Lewisham for the rest of their lives, Walter was a typist living in Heather Road off Baring Road with his mother in 1939. The new name over the door was that of Francis Blake a fruiterer; there was little longevity in the ownership though as by 1939 there was a new name– Lee Green Fruit Stores. The proprietor was Thomas Jamison, or Jameson, (aged 58 in 1939) along with his wife Beatrice (38) and 6 children, 4 of school age and a son who worked in the shop, Alfred. Thomas died in 1944 but the business carried on until the parade was demolished – if it stayed in the family, it may well have been Alfred running it until the early 1960s.
9 Burnt Ash Road
In the first part of the story of the parade it was noted that number 9 was one of those retail rarities, a shop that stayed in the same trade throughout its life – that of a butcher. Frederick Head from Christchurch in Surrey had been there since around 1900, he remained there throughout the First World War and beyond.
By around 1925, Frederick sold up to Grace Mary Plummer. Grace Mary Plummer probably lived in Beckenham as there was someone there of that name in 1939, although listed as carrying out unpaid domestic duties rather than being in the meat trade. She died in 1976 with an estate of around £70k. This may not even be the same person, but nothing else is obvious from online searches. However, it was her name above the window until the wrecking ball destroyed the terrace.
11 Burnt Ash Road
Like its next-door neighbour at number 9, 11 remained in the same trade for the entire period after World War 1, a fishmonger.
While Sparks Bros. had been running the business before World War 1, by 1920 Thomas Butler was selling fish, replaced by James Delliston in the early 1930s. Delliston seems to have sold up to Mac Fisheries before the war and was still a fishmonger living in Tressillian Road in the 1939 Register.
Mac Fisheries started as a vanity project of Lord Leverhulme of detergents fame, who bought initially the Scottish Isle of Lewis and then part of Harris after a boat trip in the Western Islands. His plan was to develop a fish-based industry and as part of this he started buying up independent fishmongers throughout Britain, rebranding them Mac Fisheries from just before World War 1. Lever Brothers got rid of the fish processing elements of the business after Lord Leverhulme’s death in the 1920s. The chain, and no doubt the shop on Burnt Ash Road, benefited during the World War 2 when fish, unlike meat, wasn’t rationed. Elsewhere Mac Fisheries expanded into other aspects of food sales but the small footprint of the shop at Lee Green probably prevented this. They were to remain at No 11 until the parade was demolished though.
13 Burnt Ash Road
Before World War 1, the chain Hudson Brothers was running a grocery and provisions business. They remained there until the early 1920s when name over the grocery changed to William Cullen, who also had a shop close to the railway bridge near Lee Station where he combined a grocers with a Post Office.
The expansion by William Cullen was a short term one as he’d retreated back to the Post Office by 1935 and the shop appears to have been empty during much of the 1930s, something of a rarity on the parade, as was the case over the road.
No one was living there when the 1939 Register was collected as World War 2 started, although a draper Mrs Fenn had opened a shop by 1940. It was a business didn’t last the war out, as Morgan Brushes, a brush manufacturer had their name painted over the window by VE Day – hopefully using one of their brushes, they lasted into the 1950s. Robert Lyas, a fruiterer, seems to have been the last business to operate before the parade was lost to the Leegate Centre development.
15 Burnt Ash Road
At the outbreak of World War 1, we’d left number 15 split – 15 was a confectioner’s and 15a was a dyers and cleaners trading as Chambers and Co. – that was still the case in 1920. The confectioner’s remained too but it was now Amelia Fairburn in charge.
By 1930 Amelia Fairburn had moved on replaced by a Mrs Monk at the confectioners; by 1935 Alice Watkins was there, but her tenure was a short one as Daisy Gadd was running the shop by the outbreak of World War 2. She lived there with her Lighterman husband George (42) and a couple of lodgers.
Despite the difficulties that wartime rationing will have caused her business, she continued until the 1950s when John Cawthorne took over the business until the end of the parade.
In the mid-1920s and early 1930s, 15a was briefly home to a blouse maker, Madame Iris. It then saw an extension from 17 of Walter Taylor’s photographic business. After this it returned to being a dyers and cleaners – initially named after the Georgian dandy and socialite, Beau Brummell, who had no obvious links to Lee. By the end of the war it had taken the name Zip French Cleaners, which it retained until the demolition of the parade.
17 Burnt Ash Road
Like several shops at this end of the parade, 17 was split into two. By the middle of World War 1 and into the interwar years John Allibone, a boot repairer from Northampton was trading at 17a, he’d been based on the Old Kent Road in the 1911 census. It was a business that lasted there until the late 1920s.
The partial shop front at 17a was taken over by a Corn Merchant’s business trading as William George Sweet, which was to stay at 17a until the wrecking ball arrived. It seems William George Sweet grew up in Prospect Terrace in the north eastern quadrant of Lee Green and had a long standing Corn Merchant’s shop in Brightfield Road from around 1881. He died in 1915 so it can be assumed that the family business was continued in his name from around 1930 at 17a. What is slightly odd about this business is that Corn Dealers were a business type that had generally died out during the inter-war period with the switch from horse to the increased horse-power of the internal combustion engine.
After being empty during World War One, the other half of the shop, 17, was taken over by Photographic dealer Walter Taylor by 1925, who expanded into 15a by 1930. He’d gone by 1935, with the tenure on the shop front taken over by a hairdresser trading as ‘Lydia’ which was to remain on the parade until its end. The person behind the name in 1939, at least, was Gladys Hardine, later Horton. She lived until 2004, so may well have had the business for 40 years.
19 Burnt Ash Road
At the beginning of World War 1, George Neal had been running a saddler’s at 19, the business seems to have continued until around his death in 1921. After that, the business carried on at 19 reverted to a previous one, cycle sales and repairs run by Reginald George Littlewood However, there was competition from F A Lycett in Lee Road, who eventually moved to 30 Burnt Ash Road, this may have caused Reginald to change business to wireless supplies by 1935 (pictured on the sign in the photograph above). By 1940 the shop was empty through.
Post-World War Two, the name over the window was Sentinel Products, what the products sold were isn’t clear though, possibly it was a locksmith. They had been replaced by Frank Sutherland by 1950, but it isn’t clear what he was a purveyor of though – it was listed in Kelly’s Directory as a ‘Miscellaneous Dealer.’ Frank was there when the parade closed in the early 1960s.
We’ll cover the Leegate Centre (pictured above in 2016) at some stage in the future – although we’ll look at the shops on Eltham Road before we do that. However, what is interesting at 1-19 Burnt Ash Road is that after World War 1, while there were significant changes going on over the road there was much more stability here – while some names changed, the traditional shops remained – the fishmonger, butcher, fruiterer, wine and spirit merchant, confectioner and women’s hairdresser.
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark and Lewisham Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1896.
Pictures and Other Credits
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Lewisham and Southwark Archives
The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
A while ago we looked at the shopping parade of 2-30 Burnt Ash Road, from its development in the late 19th century, to its loss to Penfolds and later Sainsburys. We now cross over the road to look at the shops on the other side of the road, that were eventually lost to Leegate Centre (pictured from 2016).
While the 1863 surveyed Ordnance Survey map still showed Lee Green Farm (pictured below), its days were numbered – its last farmer, Richard Morris, had, or was about to move, on to Blackfen. His father, William, had leased land from the Crown Estate for several decades, before moving on to College Farm at the highest point on Burnt Ash Hill where he died in 1851.
The developer of the south eastern quadrant of Lee Green, where the farm buildings still sat in 1863, was a name that will be familiar – John Pound, who developed much of Grove Park and south Lee. Work seems to have been completed around 1866 – there were shops at Orchard Terrace on Eltham Road and houses in Crown Terrace on Burnt Ash Road (then called Lane). The Orchard relating to the previous land use and the Crown, the landowner. Burnt Ash Lane/Road was the boundary between the lands of the Crown to the east, which had been part of the estates of Eltham Palace, and the Northbrook estate to the west.
The houses were terraced and much smaller than those opposite which were built a few years earlier and were also to become shops. In the 1871 census, the lower numbers near Lee Green tended to be working class and manual occupations, slightly wealthier further south included articled clerk, solicitor’s clerk but nothing that grand – certainly compared with original occupants over the road. Little had changed a decade later although there had been a gradual shift to multiple households living in the houses – for example there were four households at 2 Crown Terrace.
The conversion from houses to shops started to happen in the 1890s. In the 1891 census all the buildings seem to have been residential but by 1894 well over half the group now had shop fronts and a couple of years later all of them were retail outlets. We’ll look at them in turn – focussing on, in this first part of the story, on the period up to World War One.
The numbering changed a little in that the building on the corner was originally part of Eltham Road, but that changed with the building of a bank around 1911. To avoid confusion, as far as possible the numbering referred to will be that from the Edwardian era onwards.
While the rest of the Parade dated from the 1860s the Bank was much later – probably built around 1906. It seems that what was once 2 and 4 Eltham Road was redeveloped at that point, it was a building listed in both Eltham Road and Burnt Ash Roads in Kelly’s Directories, its manager in 1911 was Harry Kitto.
Like Bank Buildings, the part of the parade known as the Clock House dates from around 1906, presumably part of a redevelopment of that south eastern corner of Lee Green. It was so called because of the clock that its first occupant advertising his trade – Robert Fielding, a watchmaker. Fielding was 61 and in 1911 was living in one of the larger houses on Lee High Road with his wife, Georgina, a servant and two adult daughters, one of whom assisted in the shop. Before his move to Clock House, he had been at 141 Lee Road, next but one to Osborn Terrace for around a decade before.
It was a business that had run in the family – his father had been a jeweller and watchmaker but had died young and the business was taken over by his mother in Montpelier Vale in Blackheath, probably from the late 1850s.
The Clock House seems to have been shared with Horace L Murray Shirreff’s Electron Cycle Co (see 7 below) until around 1916 but no one else is mentioned after then so presumably Robert Fielding used the whole shopfront.
1a Burnt Ash Road
This seems to have remained a house much longer than the rest, possibly also acting as a base for a business. From 1871 it is listed at the home of G Bush and Sons Builders, run by George Bush – it may have been the case that he had been the builder of Crown Terrace for John Pound. There were 6 children there with George in 1871, and a decade later he is noted as ‘employing about 35 men.’ His daughter was a drapers’ assistant, perhaps from George Gooding over the road. George Bush died in 1902 and the business was continued by his son who lived in Elswick Road in 1891, listed as a stone mason. The business continued during the decade of George’s (Senior) death, but the shop front was empty by 1911.
1a was referred to before and after World War 1 but it seems likely that either the numbering changed or there were errors in the recording as it was referred to as being the premises of CH Reed & Co and then Griffiths & Co House Furnishers. They generally seem to have been at No 1 so we’ll refer to them there.
1 & 3 Burnt Ash Road
Number one was first mentioned in 1896 with a name that this corner of Burnt Ash Road and Eltham Road became synonymous with – Reeds, for years it was often referred to as ‘Reed’s Corner.’ The ‘Reed’ initially referred to C H Reed & Co and the C H Reed was Charles Henry Reed. He has been born in 1839 in North Cornwall, having moved to Lee Green in 1866.
By 1871 Charles Henry, was living at the next parade along, Eastbourne Terrace, with his wife Maria (probably nee Nichols), also from Cornwall; there was also a niece and 12 employees. Whether all employees these actually lived on the premises was debatable, a decade later, there were two different nieces and 49 staff. By 1881 he had a trio of shops on trading as a draper, furnisher and ironmonger.
No longer there in 1881 though was Charles wife, Maria, she was living in Forest Hill with Charles William, born in 1873, sometimes referred to as William, along with a daughter Maria (seemingly later referred to as Beatrice, 1875) and Ernest (1881). Whether they were separated or not it wasn’t clear, but the position was the same in 1891, with 63 listed as living at Eastbourne Terrace, and Maria in Brockley.
The inclusion of 1 and 3 Burnt Ash Road into Charles Reed’s empire came in the mid-1890s – it was the furnishing element of the business that was moved around the corner from Eltham Road. Charles died in July 1895 shortly after the expansion. The net effects of his will were £28,117 – a very significant amount of money in 1895, both his son Charles William Reed and an Alfred John Reed (given other recording errors this may well be Ernest) seem to have been the main beneficiaries. There was no mention of Maria, although a two-year-old Thomas Battyll Hodson, a two-year-old with no obvious connection to the Reeds was though.
(Charles) William continued to run the shops for a decade after his father’s death but sold them to Griffiths & Co. around 1905, it was a name that dominated the south east quadrant of Lee Green for the next 20 years or so.
5 Burnt Ash Road
The first shop-front type of business operating out of 5 was the boot and shoemaker Josiah Tylor who was there from the mid-1890s. The shop was doing well enough by 1901 to have a manager Thomas Wisdom, who was there with his wife Maude and a young son and sister in law. Nothing is known of the owner whose name stayed over the door until around 1905.
It seems to have been very briefly an auctioneer around 1907 (1), a firm called Bell and Rainer trading as Lee Green Auction Rooms. However, other than a few press reports that year they didn’t leave much of a trace. It was the base of Barnes Brothers who were builders’ merchants by 1911 although it no one was living there when the census enumerators called that year.
7 Burnt Ash Road
In its early years it went through several names on the shop front – in 1894 it was W J Tournour, a house furnisher, followed in 1896 by George Lewis, a draper, and then Walter Woolverton, another draper in 1900. All will have had competition from shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further down the parade which may explain their lack of longevity. George Lewis seems to have suffered the ignominy of having his stock sold at ‘prices considerably below cost’ by Reed’s, still in Eltham Road at that point, in September 1897 (2).
By 1898 the name above the door was the Electron Cycle company who manufactured bicycles. The name behind the branding was Horace L Murray-Shirreff. Along with his wife Mahala, the family came from Uxbridge where their son was born in 1896. They had moved to Lee Green by the spring of 1898 as his machines were twice ridden to victory at the Sportsbank Street Velodrome in Catford (pictured below) over the Easter Bank Holiday, once by Horace himself (3). Electron had moved on within the parade by 1911 as they were listed within the Clock House (see above) in the Kelly’s Directory. The sojourn at the Clock House was probably a short one as in the 1911 he’d moved to Staines and was listed as an inn keeper in the 1911 census.
By 1911 James Walton was trading at number 7 as a florist; he had had a business just around the corner in Eltham Road’s Eastbourne Terrace in previous censuses, listed variously as a florist and nurseryman. In 1911 he was there with his second wife, Harriet and three children, two of whom helped in the shop. James died in 1913 aged around 79, but the business stayed in the family initially in the name of Harriet running it as war broke out.
9 Burnt Ash Road
Number nine was a rarity in that throughout its life as a shop it was to stay in the same trade – a butchers, there were also only three different names over the window in its 65-year life. The first of these was the shortest lived, Colonial Meat Stores, who operated there in the mid-1890s, which seemed to be a single shop rather than any form of chain.
Frederick Head was there by the turn of the century and in 1901 was 47, he hailed from Christchurch in Surrey, and was there with his wife, Martha 47 and 5 children of mixture of ages who were all born in Kings Lynn there as was a servant employed by them. The two eldest sons were both helping in the shop. By 1911 the rest of the family had moved on, but Frederick and Martha were still running the business.
11 Burnt Ash Road
Like its next door neighbour at number 9, 11 was almost a single trade, a fishmonger, although there were a few more names over the window. The ‘almost’ is because the initial traders, Green and Co, started life as a fruiterer around 1896 but by 1900 was trading as a fishmonger. Perhaps they couldn’t cope with the competition from the already established M J Martin over the road who was a fruiterer and florist. There was though a lack of fishmonger though, on both sides of Burnt Ash Road, so Green and Co adapted to meet a gap in the market.
Who Green & Co were isn’t clear, certainly in 1901 the shop was managed by Surrey man E M Mankleton along his wife, mother, four children and a lodger who worked in the shop.
There was a new name over the window by 1911, Sparks Bros. In the census that year Frank Sparks was the fishmonger, the fishmonger’s wife was Sarah and Henry, the brother in the ‘Bros.’ were also there.
13 Burnt Ash Road
Hudson Brothers were a chain of provisions dealers, that existed from the 1870s, they were based in Ludgate Hill and had a dozen or so stores in and around central London, many close to stations. They also had a few in the then suburbs like Lee Green by the mid-1890s, where the shop opened around 1894. They were to remain on the parade until the early 1920s. They refurbished the shop in 1908 as the advert to the left shows (4).
This was another shop that started life as a draper’s shop, initially Thomas & Co from around 1896, but by the turn of the century W Sanders Pepper (40), along with his wife Ella (37) who both hailed from Northamptonshire, they had arrived via Battersea where two of their children born. A shop assistant and a servant were also part of the household in 1901.
Around the end of the first decade of the century the Peppers moved on, possibly struggling with competition from drapers shops opposite, in Eltham Road and further up the parade.
The new name at the front by 1911 was Ethel Higgins who was a confectioner; there had been one next door, but it had closed a year or two before. Ethel was a widow from Greenwich and lived there with her daughter. Whilst names changed periodically it was a business type that remained until the end of the parade, by 1916 Elizbeth Stevens was running the confectioner’s shop.
Around 1911 the shop front seems to have been ‘split’ and 15a appeared – the dyers and cleaners, Chambers and Co.
17 Burnt Ash Road
17 started its life as a shop around 1896 as a stationer’s run by Thomas James Watts; it wasn’t a business to last long though. By 1900 Annie Palmer had taken over the shop but changed the business to a confectioner, she was a widow who a decade before had been living in nearby Wantage Road. By 1905 her husband Samuel Evans Palmer was running the business, she died in 1908, and Samuel had gone by 1911 and was a Peckham based ‘Coffee House Keeper’ by then – whether this was a temperance one like one in Lee High Road isn’t clear.
By the census in 1911 Flora May Phillips, a tailoress from Bromley was there on her own, although the name over the window was Frederick May.
Like number 15, the arrival of a confectioner saw the shop split into two – dressmakers Mabel and Eleanor Harkness, there in 1900. Empty in 1905, Florence Wood, a milliner, was trading from there in 1911.
The first shop at 19 opened around 1896, a Wine and Spirit merchants run by Cockle & Sons. It didn’t last long and neither did the next tenant the Electron Cycle Co.; as we’ve seen Horace L Murray Shirreff’s business popped up in three locations on the parade in little more than a decade.
The next name over the window was that of Neal and Son, who were there by 1905. It was a trade that reflected the era, saddlers, and will have complemented William Brown’s corn dealers over the road who sold the feed for the horses. George Neal had been born in 1871 to a family in the same business and operated in Prospect Terrace next to the New Tiger’s Head, like William Sweet at 17a. George was in ‘Son’ in Sons. George was operating in Turner Road (now Dacre Park) in 1901 and moved back to Lee Green by 1911 where he was to continue at the southern end of the parade until around his death in 1921.
The parade will be returned to after World War One, when the second part of the story will take it to the stage that the bulldozers moved in ahead of the construction of the Leegate Centre.
The ‘story’ of the parade has been pieced together using Kelly’s Directories held by Southwark Archives – generally looking at every 5th year since the parade opened for business from 1896 along with census records before that.
Kentish Mercury 29 November 1907
Kentish Mercury 24 September 1897
West Middlesex Gazette 16 April 1898
Kentish Mercury 2 October 1908
Pictures and Other Credits
All the census and related data came via Find My Past (subscription required)
The Kelly’s Directory data was accessed via Southwark Archives
The black and white postcards and photographs of the parade are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
The photograph of the Velodrome is via eBay in February 2016
The picture of the farm is from the information board at Lee Green