Tag Archives: Lee

VE Day in Lee and Hither Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

Credits and Thanks

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

Corona Road – The History of a Lee Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

 

Credits

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

The Three Fire Stations of Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The materials used at the fire station are described as

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

Picture & Other Credits

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

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

Manor Park Parade – Late Victorian Shopping – Part 1

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

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

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

Source eBay Dec 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Manor Park Parade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes 

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

Picture & Other Credits

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

 

 

The Two Boone’s Chapels

Boone’s Chapel on Lee High Road is a impressive former church building on Lee High Road; it is one of only two Grade I listed buildings in Lewisham, the other being St Paul’s in Deptford. Less well known is that there is another Boone’s Chapel – about 500 metres up Lee High Road. This post looks at both of them starting with the listed variant.

‘…..a delightful little brick rectangle with stone trimming, two heavy round-headed windows on the front, equally heavy oval windows higher on the east, west and south, and heavy pediments on the same sides; octagonal cupola on the centre of the roof.’ (1)

Originally, there seems to have been a carved stone angel above the door but supports rusted away it was lost in a storm, probably in the early 19th century.

Christopher Boone had bought Lee Place around 1670 following the death of George Thomson. The Chapel was built for the Boones; it has been attributed to Wren, but was probably designed by Robert Hooke and construction finished around 1683, along with some almshouses built next door on the High Road. We will return to these almshouses, along with the Merchant Taylor’s almshouses, behind, at some point.

Between 1683 and 1877 the Chapel was used as a place of worship for the Boone family, the almshouse residents and as a chapel-of-ease for St Margaret’s Parish. After Christopher Boone died in 1686, the Chapel was also used as a mausoleum for him and his wife. The burial place in a chamber beneath the floor was discovered during restoration works on the Chapel in 2006.

When the Chapel was built, it was close to the gate to the estate; at this stage the main road broadly followed the course of Old Road. There were regular accidents on the sharp bend with carts going to and from London markets. During a service in 1813, when St Margaret’s was being rebuilt, a horse and cart failed to navigate the corner and the horse ended up inside the Chapel!

While it was one of the first London buildings scheduled for preservation, it had largely fallen into disuse by the end of World War Two. In 1999 Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust was set up to try to restore the Chapel. The initial plan involved some cross subsidisation with a block of new almshouses at the back. However, alternative funding streams through the National Lottery Heritage Fund were found that meant that this wasn’t needed and the Chapel was restored, with work being completed in 2008. The Chapel is now home to an architectural practice although is regularly open to the public including during Open House weekend.

Before moving up Lee High Road, it is worth pausing briefly by the adjacent wall, which is part of the Grade I listing, while the listing mentions ‘3 brick and stone piers and ball caps’ what is probably more interesting is a very weathered coat of arms, that of the Merchant Taylors Company (2).

The ‘other’ Boone’s Chapel was described by Pevsner as ‘a neat new Gothic chapel ….. red brick, apsed, lancet style.’ (3) It was designed by Edward Blakeway I’Anson, who was the third generation of the family practicing in a City of London architectural firm.  The replacement almshouses were built either side of it – as the photograph below shows.

This second Boone’s Chapel dates from around 1875. The land will have been the first part of the estate of Lee House to have been sold off; there had been attempts to sell the whole estate in the early 1870s, but in the end only a narrow strip alongside Lee High Road was sold; 344 to 368 were built in the late 1870s and Blenheim Villas, 334 -342 a few years earlier (4).

While it was generally referred to locally as Boone’s Chapel, it was consecrated as St John the Baptist. It was later referred to as ‘a missionary outpost of the parish (of St Margaret’s) where the rector’s volunteer workers came to do good with the Lee villagers on whom curates also learnt their craft.’ (5)

It was slightly odd that this part of Lee had continued to be ministered to by St Margaret’s parish even when the ‘new’ parishes of Christ Church (1854) on Lee Park, Holy Trinity on Glenton Road (1863), St Mildred’s on the South Circular (1872) and the Church of the Good Shepherd on Handen Road (1881) were carved out of it. It was connected by a small isthmus of land between Old Road and Boone Street.

The parishioners included some of the Noble family from Lampmead Road. We have covered the 1920s and 1930s childhood reminiscences of Phyllis Willmott (née Noble) a few times in relation to the Sunday Constitutional, trips to Lee Working Men’s Club on Lee Road and in interwar play.

She notes that the Nobles weren’t a chapel or church going family; her mother had a Methodist upbringing but went to the chapel a couple of hundred metres from their home as ‘social pleasures drew her, a chance for a word or two with friends and neighbours; the chance to sit back and remember the Sundays of her own childhood.’ (6)

Part of the joy of going seemed to be the dressing up in the ‘Sunday Best’ even if the clothes were from a jumble sale. Her mother put on ‘a slick of powder and lipstick and perhaps a new feather in an old hat or, for me, putting the latest find from a jumble which we persuaded ourselves we had succeeded in making “as good as new.”’ (7)

Phyllis’ brothers were choristers in the small choir, girls seem not to have been allowed to join. They occasionally sang solos, which guaranteed her mother’s presence (8). The social aspect of going to church was important – her Mother would chat to friends and neighbours outside and shake hands with the curate who would take the service (9).

Her parents seemed to have assumed that religion was ‘a good thing for young children but something they naturally grew out of;’ it seemed particularly helpful as it allowed supervised childcare on Sundays. Most of the other children in the Bible Class seemed be from the ‘posh’ side of Lee High Road, the Blackheath side, rather than the poorer streets to the south (10). This changed when the evangelical Harold Plumstead became curate and organised lots of activities using them as an opportunity to persuade the children to ‘see the light’ and ‘stand up for Jesus.’ (11). Despite the lack of church origin tradition within the family, Phyllis was confirmed when she was 13 (12).

It seems that the church was at least partially rebuilt in the 1920s suffering some limited damage during World War 2, although it reopened in 1947 (13). However, it’s temporary closure probably sounded the Chapel’s death knell as its congregation dispersed in 1952 (14). Its listing in Kelly’s didn’t change though, so while not used, it seems to have remained in the ownership of St Margaret’s. During the 1960s the church unsuccessfully sought to turn part of the site into a petrol station.

By 1975, Kelly’s Directory was describing it as a ‘Pentecostal Church’ although by 1980 the entry had changed to ‘Assemblies of God Emmanuel Pentecostal Church.’ They added the single story modern frontage completed in 1984. More recently there were unsuccessful attempts to demolish the entire site and rebuild the church with some flats (the unsanctioned demolition of most of the almshouses will be covered in a later post.)

Behind the single-storey frontage are the red brick remnants of the original church.

Along with the New Testament Church of God next door, the church seems popular with dense parking in neighbouring streets at the time of Sunday services.

Notes

  1. Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner (1983) The Buildings of England – London 2: South p426
  2. Lewisham Leisure (1990) From The Tiger to The Clocktower
  3. Cherry and Pevsner op cit p426
  4. Lewisham Lesiure, op cit
  5. Phyllis Willmott (1979) Growing Up in a London Village p119
  6. ibid p119
  7. ibid p119
  8. ibid p121
  9. ibid p122
  10. Phyllis Willmott (1983) A Green Girl p40
  11. ibid p42
  12. ibid p43
  13. Lewisham Leisure, op cit
  14. ibid

Credits

  1. The Kelly’s Directory information comes from a mixture of Lewisham and Southwark archives.
  2. The black and white photograph of the 1875 variant of the church is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  3. The photograph of the original Boone’s Chapel and almshouses is from The Proceedings of the Lewisham Antiquarian Society 1908 on a Creative Commons

Old Road & Beyond – A Walk Through Some of Lee’s Past

The area bordering Manor House Gardens has a rich and interesting history which Running Past has written numerous posts about.  This post was written to ‘accompany’ a walk organised as part of the 2019 Manor House Gardens Festival, it can be used to independently to walk the route (it’s a circuit of around a mile, which can be found here) or as virtual tour of the area.  The ‘walk’ is divided into sections which relate to the planned stopping points – each of which is full of links to other posts in the blog which will have more detailed information.

Some Background

Before it was enveloped by the city Lee was a village, a village with three centres – Lee Green, the area around St Margaret’s Church and Old Road, as John Rocque’s map from 1746 shows.

Lee remained largely rural until mid-19th century until the coming of the railways – Blackheath & Lewisham stations opened in 1849, Lee in 1866 and Hither Green not until mid-1890s (it was just a junction before that).

The mid-1860s Ordnance Survey map above shows how little development there was beyond Lee Green and to the south of Old Road; farms remained until the 1920s and 1930s, such as Burnt Ash and Horn Park.

The Manor House

Old Road was once home to a series of large houses, starting from the eastern end these were Lee House, The Cedars, Lee Place, the Manor House, Pentland House and The Firs – geography played an important part, it is on a small hill which would have offered impressive views to the east and south but were high enough to protect from flooding from the Quaggy and the now diverted Mid Kid Brook, which used to flow down Lee High Road.

Lee Place

The first of the country houses was Lee Place; Its building was the result of the death of Lord of the Manor, Brian Annesley who had a moated farm probably where St Margaret’s Lee School is now situated.  His later years are believed to at least partially inspired Shakespeare to write King Lear – there was happier ending than in the play though.  The estate split up on his death.

Lee Place (above) probably built by/for George Thompson – had links to the slave trade but is better known as a soldier and MP during the Commonwealth brother of Maurice who lived at Lee Farm. It was the home to the Boone family (it was their family chapel) for several generations but was let out from the mid-18th century.  Its last tenant was Benjamin Aislabie.

The estate was sold in 1824 as still has an impact on the current landscape as it was broken up into relatively small lots which were developed at different times.  It allowed too the straightening of Lee High Road – the straightened bit was known as New Road for several decades

The Manor House

Lee Farm was previously on the site, which moved to what is now the junction of Baring and St Mildred’s Roads in 1727 and became Burnt Ash Farm. The former farm was bought initially by the slave trading brother of George Thomson, Maurice and then by William Coleman who sought to re-create the lands of the old Manor for his nephew,Thomas Lucas, both were ‘merchants’ with strong links to the slave trade.

The Grade II listed Manor House was built on the site of the farm in 1770 by Richard Jupp for Lucas.  It was bought by Sir Francis Baring in early 19th century, whose family wealth also had its origins in the slave trade – used it as their near London base – the merchant on the maroon plaque is depressingly vague. The Northbrooks let in out during much of the 19th century

They sold the house as a library and grounds to the London County Council in 1898 opening to the public in 1902.  The Northbrooks owned much of Lee and their gradual selling off of their ‘estate’ in the latter part of the 19th century which shaped the current urban landscape.

Pentland House

Pentland House was built in early 1790s and is probably the oldest residential building in Lewisham – it is a close run thing with St Mary’s Vicarage though!  It has been added to considerably and rendered in the early 19th century when extended.

It was home to the rich, but not that significant Smith family, who sold to some more Smiths, who sold to some more Smiths (albeit with a prefix) – it became a Goldsmiths’ College hall in 1913 which stayed until the early 2000s.  It is currently a largely backpackers hostel.

Flats & Houses Opposite

The houses and flats opposite are a bit less grand – Bankwell Road & adjoining bits of Old Road – completed in 1908, possibly by James Watt – it was the central of three plots of land bounded by Lee High Road and Old Road – as the 1890s Ordnance Survey maps below shows.

The eastern of the plots are Arts & Crafts style flats which are a bit out of kilter with rest of area.  The land they were built on had been part of Lee Place – the house itself was on this part.  The land was bought as an orchard and kitchen garden for Pentland House with the flats & Market Terrace on Lee High Road built in the mid-1930s.

Before moving on worth reflecting on the library, the park and indirectly the rest of the current urban landscape was paid for by the slave labour in the plantations of the Caribbean owned or traded by those that lived here and over the road.

On the way to Lochaber Hall at the first house on Manor Lane Terrace look at the wall – the remains of a sign pointing towards air raid shelters in Manor House Gardens (more on that later).

Lochaber Hall, the Firs, Holy Trinity

Lochaber Hall

If think Lochaber Hall looks like a church hall you’d be right, it was originally church hall for Holy Trinity in Glenton Road (pictured below).  The church was destroyed in the Blitz and is now Callaghan Close (almost opposite the Telephone Exchange) and named after the 1970s Prime Minister who lived in Blackheath.

The Hall was designed by Ernest Newton, a locally renowned architect and President of RIBA, he also designed St Swithuns, the original Church of Good Shepherd and Baring Hall at Grove Park. Slightly surprisingly it is Grade II listed. Immediately after World War Two it was used as a hall for the Church of the Good Shepherd as that church was largely destroyed in a fire & the congregation was using the adjacent hall as the church.

The Firs Estate

The Firs was another of the large country houses of Lee, it was a large red-brick house which was a built around 1700 as the ‘town’ residence for the Papillion’s, a prominent Huguenot banking family – it stayed in the family’s ownership for a century.  The last owner from the mid-1860s was John Wingfield Larkin, a member of a wealthy Kent family who had been a merchant in Egypt and British consul in Alexandria between 1838 and 1841.  The family sold up on his death as the city encroached in 1893.

It was developed as Murillo, Old, Rembrandt & Lochaber Roads by the end of 19th century.  It is not certain who the builder/developer was – although is a stained glass for Siderys on Murillo Road – who were prominent builders in the area.

The houses on the corner of Manor Lane Terrace and Abernethy were largely destroyed on the 1st night of the blitz.  27 Murillo Road was home to one of the more prominent Lewisham suffragettes – Caroline Townsend.

Lee Manor Farm

This was originally at the Manor House, moved to what is now the junction of St Mildred’s Road and was renamed Burnt Ash Farm in 1727; that farm was split in the early 19th century and new farm buildings constructed opposite The Firs (close to the current junction of Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Lane).  It didn’t stay the farm house that long and we’ll return to it at our next stop.

Junction of Manor Lane Terrace & Kellerton Road

Manor Park Estate

We are in the land of W J Scudamore here and along with John Pound are probably the two firms of builders that most influenced the area – buying land from the Northbrooks. W J Scudamore were based on Manor Lane (corner of Handen Road) then Lee High Road (part of Sainsbury’s site) and latterly on Holme Lacey Road in Lee and active in Lee, Hither Green and later elsewhere from the 1890s until the 1930s.

The Manor Park Estate (as the roads around here were originally referred to as) was built for a mixture of rent and sale – sale prices were £265 or£275 for the bigger ones – it was 1906…!

They definitely also built

  • Shops on Manor Lane (eastern side)
  • Newstead Road
  • Some of St Mildred’s Road
  • Holme Lacey & Dalinger Roads
  • Several small sections of Leahurst, Longhurst and Fernbrook Roads
  • Probably lots of others too

Wolfram Close

On the site of the last location of the Lee Manor Farm (pictured below) – the land farmed was to the south of here.  The farmhouse seems to have been sold with the land for the Manor Park Estate and became a home for the Scudamore family who remained there until 1961.

The site was redeveloped in the 1960s or early 1970s, it isn’t clear whether this was by Scudamores, as they went into liquidation in 1966. It is presumably named after the last occupant of the Manor House – Henry Wolffram from Stuttgart who ran a ‘crammer’ school for would-be army officers – the spelling of his name is incorrect though – the cul de sac as one ‘F’ the name two ‘Fs’.

The council estate behind Cordwell Road – is named after one of the last farmers of the farm.

 

Manor House Gardens

The park was created in the early 1770s as gardens for the Manor House until 1898 when the Northbrooks sold up to the London County Council (LCC), which as with Mountsfield Park on the Hither Green and Catford borders wanted to ensure that the newly developing suburbia had parks and libraries provided. The Gardens had been left in a poor state by last occupant (Henry Wolffram) and didn’t open to the public until 1902.

Source –  eBay Feb 2016

It contains a rather impressive Ice House which was used as an air raid shelter in World War Two; there were a couple of other ones too, the outline of one of them was visible in the parched grass in the hot weather of 2018.

The Gardens have been ‘listed’ since 1987 and underwent a major refurbishment in 2000.  The small lake has been part of grounds for most of its post agricultural life.  The River Quaggy flows through the Gardens, it used to be at a higher level but the bed was  excavated partially to reduce flooding – probably in the 1880s.

Behind the library, there are two little bits of Catford – foundation stones for the now demolished St Laurence Church and the original Town Hall.

Lenham Road/Lammead Road Corner

If we were standing here in the 1870s we would be in or next to the River Quaggy as there was a meander that originally came up to this point. It was straightened in 1880s both to allow development but possibly too as flood prevention measure – there were really bad floods in 1878.

Most of housing on Lenham, Lampmead (and Aislibie that will walk up) Roads dates from late 1880s when Lee House (more on that later) was demolished and the land sold for development. It was slightly different on the other side of the river – Robertson Street, now Brightfield Road probably dates from the late 1850s or early 1860s.

The houses at the corner are very different – early 1960s council housing as opposed to late Victorian.  This was because early in the morning of 22 June 1944 a V-1 flying bomb hit the corner, killing 6.  There was a lot of Blitz damage on Lenham Road as well as on Aislibie Road where there are several bits of infill council housing from the late 1950s or early 1960s.

49 Lampmead (above) was home to Phyllis Noble who was to become Phyllis Willmott and wrote a 3 part autobiography about growing up in Lee in the 1920s and 30s – this has been covered a few times – including in relation to the Sunday Constitutional and children’s play.

Almsot opposite, at the junction with Aislibie Road in 2016 a house had Blitz type damage as a result of badly executed building work.

Lee Centre

Lee House & Centre

This was originally the site of Lee House, a medieval mansion that was rebuilt in the 1820s probably partially as a result of the re-alignment of Old Road, it is pictured below. However, by the 1880s it no longer met the needs of the wealthy Victorian gent as city encroached with the railways.

Lee Centre was built on the site in the 1880s – initially it was home to a few clubs, including a chess club. But it was never developed uses that befitted its impressive architecture by World War 2 it had effectively become used for storage and nurse appointments; it was used for education from 1970s and more recently by various charities.

Next door was built as St Margaret’s Parish Rooms, long before Kingswood Halls were built; it was also home to school for many years before becoming offices and warehouses for stationery supplier and then a toy merchant.  It has been a nursery for the last decade or so.

Chiesmans’ Warehouse

In a former incarnation this was home to the teetotal Lee Working Men’s Institution, it was taken over as a depot for the Lewisham Department Store, Chiesmans who rebuilt it around 1914 – it was almost completely destroyed in during the Blitz before being rebuilt on same footprint for Chiesmans in mid 1950s.  After some slightly less than legitimate activities it is slowly being converted into flats.

The Cedars

Was situated on what is now the opposite corner of Aislbie Road, it was another large house – the estate was broken up and mostly sold at the same time as Lee House.  The house itself remained until the 1890s before being sold for development – hence the housing at the north-western corner of Aislibie Road is different to the rest of the street.  The street itself was named after, although spelled incorrectly, the slave owner and terrible cricketer Benjamin Aislabie – the last tenant of Lee Place.

 

Manor House Gardens (Old Road entrance)

This is next door to 36 Old Road, this was part of the estate of The Cedars.  Post development the site was used for many years as stables for Thomas Tilling’s horse drawn buses and then as a workshop by the firm afterwards.  It went through several uses afterwards – the sweet makers Whitehouse and Co from 1929; John Edgington and Co Marquee Manufacturers who latterly made floats for the Lord Mayors Show were there from 1949 (including some of those below) and then Penfolds used it as a crash repair workshop from the late 1980s until around 2010.  Development into flats started a few years later but has been paused for a couple of years.

 

Picture Credits

  • John Rocque’s 18th century map is from the information board at Lee Green
  • The Ordnance Survey map from the 1860s is on a Creative Commons via the National Library of Scotland
  • The picture of Lee Place comes from the information board opposite St Margaret’s Church
  • The picture of Holy Trinity Glenton Road is via Wikipedia Commons – originally from Illustrated London News
  • The photograph of The Firs is from the information board on Brandram Road, opposite St Margaret’s church.
  • The drawing of Lee Manor Farm is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  • The 1890s Ordnance Survey map is courtesy of the National Library of Scotland on a Creative Commons.
  • The pair of Ordnance Survey maps from  1863 (top) and 1893 are on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland
  • The sale plan of Lee House is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, it remains their copyright and is used with their permission
  • The picture of Benjamin Aislabie is on a Creative Commons via one of Lewisham Archives sites 

Arts & Crafts Housing on Old Road

Old Road in Lee is veritable cornucopia of housing types – two of the large houses of Lee remain – the Manor House, now a volunteer run library, and Pentland House, now a hostel. There is the 1890s housing at the western end which was built on the site of The Firs. At the other end is the Edwardian housing centred on Bankwell Road – possibly built by James Watt, he certainly built the cinema that was part of the same plot.

In between are 1930s flats built with more than a nod to the Arts and Crafts style of housing, more often seen in suburbia of the era with mock exposed beams against white rendered eaves. The reason for two terraces of 1930s housing  and the row of shops of a similar style and era on Lee High Road, Market Terrace, goes back to 1824 and the break-up of the estate of Lee Place, the original country home of Lee.

Lee Place had probably been built for George Thomson, but was for most of its life home to the Boones, they latterly let the house to Benjamin Aislabie – when his lease expired the estate was broken up into small lots with the house being demolished. Two of the lots were used to build Lee New Town (the area around Lee Church Street) and the Merchant Taylors Almshouses. The lot built on in the 1930s was bought by the owners of Pentland House and used as an orchard – it is to the right on the Old Road snow scene, probably from the 1890s.

When Pentland House was bought as halls of residence for Goldsmiths College around 1913, the orchard was bought with it.  The Ordnance Survey map below from the 1890s shows the plots the the north of Old Road clearly.

The land was sold in the early 1930s for housing – the first mention of homes being lived in was in the 1933/34 Kelly’s Directory for Blackheath, Greenwich and Lee – one of the last local editions.

So who lived in the homes? Less than six years after residents moved in World War Two broke out and the 1939 Register was collected – so while there will have been some movement since the initial letting and sales, it gives an interesting insight into some of the early households who made this part of Old Road their home.  A surprising number of the flats did not have entries, whether they were empty or missed by those compiling the Register isn’t clear.

Occupations were mainly manual, although there were a few clerical grade civil servants and similar jobs in selling advertising, insurance and the like. It was quite similar to the Verdant Lane estate which was developed at around the same time.  Unlike Ardmere Road (where Running Past has done a similar analysis of the 1939 Register), where around a third of the male household members had the  ‘Heavy’ suffix to their trade entitling them to more rations, there were only a couple in Old Road.

As was generally the pattern at both Ardmere Road and Verdant Lane (where a 1939 Register analysis was also done) relatively few women worked with most listed either as ‘Housewife’ or  ‘Unpaid Domestic Duties.’  The exceptions were a couple of shop assistants, maybe working in local shopping parades on Lee High Road or Market Terrace plus a laundress, a couple of typists and an embroidery machinist. In all but one of these the woman was the head of household – something that wasn’t seen in either Ardmere Road or Verdant Lane.

The ages were younger though than Verdant Lane – the average age there was almost 42; in the Old Road flats there were mainly relatively young couples living there – the average age was 36, although this was pushed up a couple of years by the single retired couple who had a working son.

This is perhaps not surprising; the homes were smaller, mainly one bedroom flats, compared with the three bedroom houses at Verdant Lane, although any children of school age would have been evacuated in early September 1939.  However, given how few redactions (generally for those who would be still alive) it would indicate almost no pre-school children who would have remained in Lee.  Had the Register been taken a month earlier there would have no doubt be several children in the flats – Winifred and William Kinsey’s son Anthony at 19 would have been 11 in 1939 and was no doubt evacuated with friends from the street.

The tenure of the flats after they were built in the 1930s isn’t clear – although nationally over half of housing was private rented in 1939.  Based on Land Registry data, just over half the flats have been sold since 1999 – 2 bedrooms flat sold for £405k in late £2018, although the last 1 bedroom flat sold seems to have been in 2015 which changed hands for £270k. However, this probably implies that a lot remain in private renting  or have returned to the private rented sector in the recent past. Two of the blocks, four flats, seem to have been acquired by Lewisham Council at some stage, although one of the flats has been subsequently sold under Right to Buy.

So how has the area changed since 1939?  For the slightly wider 2011 Census Output Area which covers a slightly wider area of 134 homes including most of the rest of Old Road, Bankwell Road, the adjoining part of Lee high Road and Hamlet Close.  51% were owner occupied and 42% privately rented with  the remainder socially rented.

Employment patterns  have probably changed more – the biggest employment sector was education (15%)Heath and Social Work (13%), IT (9%), Finance and insurance (8%) and the motor trade (8%).  This was not dissimilar to the rest of Lewisham  – although there were fewer working in admin activities and accommodation and food services, with more in manufacturing and education

Credits

  • The Ordnance Survey map is courtesy of the National Library of Scotland on a non-commercial license;
  • The Picture of Lee Place is from the information board opposite to St Margaret’s Church;
  • The snow scene is part of the collection of Lewisham Archives, who hold the copyright, it is used with their permission;
  • Kelly’s Directories records were accessed at Lewisham Archives;
  • Land Registry data on tenure is through Nimbus Maps (Registration required)
  • The 1939 Register data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)