There have been several posts on Running Past about the evolution of public buildings around Lee – the two telephone exchanges, the trio of fire stations and most recently the municipal offices off what is now Woodyates Road. Next door to the latter, albeit constructed a little later was the Lee Sorting Office.
From around 1888, perhaps a little earlier, the Sorting Office was based on Lee High Road on the corner of what is now Lampmead Road (originally it was a dog leg of Lenham Road) – it is now home to a firm of solicitors, after being the offices of a realtively long standing business, Homesales, who were also in Market Terrace.
In the 1881 census, what was then 1 Sussex Terrace, was a grocer’s run by Nathaniel Short – he was from Greenwich and had four young children, with wife Elizabeth from Gravesend. They can have been there no more than a year as their youngest daughter was born in Lewisham, rather than Lee and the older children all were born in Bexleyheath.
Little had changed by the 1884 Kelly’s Directory, but by1888 the address was now 226 High Road, and Short had added a Post Office to the Grocery business. Out at the back there were some buildings used as a sorting office.
Where sorting had been done before isn’t immediately clear – there were several other local post offices, including one already covered at 10 Burnt Ash Road (now part of the Sainsbury’s site) run by Martin Martin. There was another in the row of shops between Brandram Road and Boone Street.
There was a high turnover of grocers and Postmasters, the Shorts moved on to Enfield by around 1888 – they were in Enfield in the 1891 census, making a circuitous trip via Australia to get there. William James Francis took over from the Shorts; Abraham Culverhouse was in charge when the census enumerators called again in 1891 and Roberts & Co were running the Post Office and grocers by 1896. There was no mention of a post office by 1900 when A M Curtis was there and it was not listed in the 1901 census and just being a grocer in 1904 when George Iliffe was there.
With a burgeoning population, continuing to run a sorting office from some small outbuildings behind a grocery shop was not really sustainable. Lewisham already had one – located in what is now the shopping centre and had gone out to tender in 1895 (1). Lee’s sorting office was put out to tender three years later. It was a site next to what were originally Lee Parish Offices, on what was then Woodstock Road. It became Woodyates Road after the development of the Woodstock Estate.
The Architect was Jasper Wager; a man from Bridgnorth in Shropshire, he had been working for Her Majesty’s Office of Works since 1877, they were responsible for a lot of public building work at this stage. The sorting office at Lee seems to have been one of the earliest projects that he was specifically responsible for. He was probably living locally at the time it was built – in the 1901 he is listed as living next to Greenwich Park in Vanbrugh Hill.
It is a striking building; the Local Listing describes it as ‘(a) single storey red brick Queen Anne Revival building (with) near symmetrical elevation onto Woodyates Road with stone mullioned and transomed window. Stone surround to centrally placed entrance door with stylised gablet with casement windows above.’
There is some lovely detail on it – particularly the stone sign Postmen’s Office over the main door (the newer brickwork to the side was the site of the postbox).
Looking at the 1911 census, around 35 men were listed as ‘postmen’ (no women) in Lee. Some obviously may have been based at other Sorting Offices. Unsurprisingly, they were concentrated in the smaller houses of the area, but in relative terms they were well paid, as shared households were rare, other than around half a dozen in their teens. The road with the most was Taunton Road – which was home to Edward Greenwood (131), Philip Cox (56), Arthur Fincham (47), Arthur Goodwin (69), Charles Wood and lodger William Hedge (99), plus two other lodgers William Pescott (72) and Bertie Ridgewell (64). Roads like Lenham, Lochaber and the small houses of Lee New Town also had significant numbers.
While this wasn’t the case in either the 1901 or 1911 Censuses, some staff lived on site by the time World War Two broke out – in the 1939 Register there was postman Edward Wood and Ernest Rawlings who worked as a Post Office cleaner.
Like much of the post war development of the eastern side of Burnt Ash Road, the partial redevelopment of the site for housing in the mid-1990s related to the ending of Crown Estate leases. It had been the same with shops on Burnt Ash and Eltham Roads that made way for the Leegate Centre and the housing that was demolished for Leybridge Court and most of the nurseries. The Sorting Office closed in 1993 with sorting and deliveries on the Lewisham side of Lee being transferred to Endgate Street and, presumably, on the Greenwich side to Court Yard in Eltham.
The site for both the Municipal Depot and the Sorting Office was bought by Developer Gengis Kemal. The main depot building fronting onto Woodyates Road along with its stables in the north west corner along with the Sorting Office were all retained and converted. There was sympathetic infill to the rest of the site. The site is now known as Jasmin Court – it was originally to be called Jasmine after the daughter of the developer – the sign at the entrance to the former yard refers to it as this. However, it appears to have been incorrectly had an ‘e’ removed by Lewisham so Jasmin is what it is officially known as. It follows in the footsteps of a trio of misspelled Lee street names going back over a century – Holme Lacey Road, Aislibie Road and Wolfram Close (3).
London Evening Standard 5 July 1895
Kentish Mercury 12 August 1898
Before someone else notes this, the irony of this is not lost on a writer with poor proof reading skills
Census and related information is via Find My Past (subscription required)
Kelly’s Directory data comes from Southwark Archives
The Ordnance Survey map is part of the collection of the National Library of Scotland and is used on a non-commercial licence
I am indebted to George Willis who lives in Jasmin Court (the 1990s development that the offices and stables are now part of) who has researched the site – although most of the research for this post was in parallel so any errors are obviously mine. Thank you also to Darryl from the excellent 853 news blog for putting us in touch – if you don’t follow 853 you are missing out!
There is an interesting group of buildings that are locally listed at the Burnt Ash Road end of Woodyates Road, it comprises of some former council offices and a former Royal Mail sorting office. The group was covered in passing on a post on the development of Woodyates and Pitfold Roads in the 1930s. This post looks in a bit more detail at the Parish Offices which are pictured below.
Lee was a Civil Parish whose bounds were ‘beaten’ in Running Past in 2020 – following an Ordnance Survey map from the 1890s. It was a small parish and so for a lot of the limited range of public services offered they were undertaken jointly with other parishes – the workhouse as we saw in the post on the Lesters of Lee New Town was a joint one with Lewisham and several other parishes. The Board of Works was a joint one with Plumstead, Kidbrooke, Eltham and Charlton who had their own office in Charlton Village. The parish does not seem to have had any offices before the one in what is now Woodyates Road. For example, requests to inspect tenders relating to Lee were directed to the home office of the Sureyor to the Board – Francis Freeman Thorne who lived at the large house, Rosebank, Lee Road (1). The house was demolished post war.
Plans started to be drawn up in 1882 for offices and various associated buildings, including stables, with the tenders going out in early 1883. Lee was a long narrow parish and the site chosen was close to the station which opened in 1866. The land had originally been part of Lee Green Farm, but the Crown was putting it to other uses – a mixture of substantial homes and market gardening – the latter run as part of Maller’s Nurseries. However, this was not some rural idyll as it had been part of John Pound’s brickworks and there was a clay crushing machine on or close to the site. At around the time of the building, the land opposite, where Woodstock Court now is, was being used by the Parish as a ‘mud shoot’ – effectively as dumping ground for mud, manure and the like from Lee’s roads – presumably filling up the hole from the brickworks
So, who were the people behind the plans? The Lee members of the Board of Works were a mixture of wealthy business people who had moved to what was then suburbia and some of the more established trades and shop keepers:
The Board of Works had asked eight firms for prices, they were mostly local, but names included firms that would become well known, including Mowlem and Co. The successful tender accepted from S J Jerrard builders of Lewisham, their price of £3973, was almost £300 cheaper than the next lowest (2).
Samuel Jerrard was based at 40 Loampit Vale (on the eastern corner of Thurston Road, where a large sudent accomodation block is now situated), the firm’s main area of operation was in Ladywell – building much of Vicars Hill, Embleton, Algernon, Algiers and Ermine Roads in the 1880s and 1890s. His best-known construction in Lewisham is the Clocktower built for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
Returning to the offices, the building and associated costs including stabling for a dozen horses, sheds for carts and so on were to be paid for by loans, mainly over 34 months from the Metropolitan Board of Works (who oversaw major capital works across London), in total, £6705 was borrowed (4). In terms of 21st century loans for capital works this seems like a very short period. In addition to the building costs, another £227 was borrowed (5) presumably for the costs of Clerk of Works, James Robinson. Another £1500 was borrowed for purchasing horses, carts, and associated harnesses (6) repayable over 12 months (7).
The parish decided soon after works started that the horse keeper should be based on site (8).
The structure of the offices was completed by the end of November 1883, as the Parish met there on 30 November; but there was still a fair amount to do though in terms of furniture, gas supply and so on. The Sanitary Inspector, Walter Bridgen, was to be invited to be caretaker – living on site, rent free but contributing to bills (9). A successor role as inspector of roads was advertised at £2 2s in 1893 and ‘reasonable use of coals and gas.’ (10). The location and layout of the completed offices is visible from the 1890s Ordnance Survey map below, behind shops fronting onto Burnt Ash Hill – the former Lee Public Halls is visible opposite as the laundry (currently part of Travis Perkins site, but in early 2023 about to be demolished.
Lee was to become an authority in its own right in 1894 and in 1900 it became part of the Borough of Lewisham into whose ownership the offices passed. In the census the following year, Henry Butcher was listed as ‘Horse Keeper (Borough Council)’ – he was 40 and from Storrington in Sussex – he was there with his wife Ellen and nephew William Knowles, a harness maker, aged 22 from Sussex.
Also living on site in 1901 was Thomas Whebby, he was a Sanitary Inspector for the Council from Dorset, aged 51, he was there with his wife Alice and 5 children aged between 10 and 24, all born in Yeovil. Thomas Whebby remained there in 1911 and there were still people living on site in the 1939 Register -John Bain 35 was listed as a ‘Municipal Officer – Inspector if Works’ – marked as 1-7 Woodyates Road, rather that the Woodstock Road it was built on.
Perhaps, surprisingly, horses were still being used by the Borough Council in 1939 and at what was described as 9 Woodyates was the person looking after them, horse keeper, Richard Short, who got the ‘heavy work’ supplement entitling them to more rations during World War Two.
During the war the buildings were used as a base for the Air Raid Precautions unit – the horse carts are visible at the back of the photograph below.
Much had changed in the area around the Depot by the time war broke out in 1939 – the fields, later allotments and nurseries had been sold for housing by the Crown Estate – Woodstock Road had become Woodyates Road as part of the Woodstock Estate. Opposite the Council yard the former ‘mud chute’ was to become the rather elegant art deco Woodstock Court.
The building remained in council use until the 1980s when the lease to the Crown Estate expired. We’ll cover the late 20th century redevelopment as Jasmin Court in a subsequent post on the Sorting Office next door.
Kentish Mercury 10 May 1879
Woolwich Gazette 3 March 1883
Kentish Independent 22 January 1887
Kentish Independent 17 March 1883
Woolwich Gazette 27 April 1883
Kentish Independent 17 March 1883
Kentish Independent 26 May 1883
Kentish Independent 15 December 1883
Woolwich Gazette 18 August 1893
Credits and acknowledgements
Census and related information is via Find My Past (subscription required)
I am indebted to George Willis who lives in Jasmin Court (the 1990s development that the offices and stables are now part of) who has researched the site – although most of the research for this was in parallel so any errors are obviously mine. Thank you also to Darryl from the excellent 853 news blog for putting us in touch – if you don’t follow 853 you are missing out!
We turn our attention to a street that was built somewhat later than all but the last two – Bankwell Road whose homes were completed in early 1909. It is a small road running from Lee High Road to the northern entrance to Manor House Gardens. The street is in what was the grounds of Lee Place.
The section in middle now has Bankwell Road at its centre. It was a field until the beginning of the 20th century. The eastern frontage onto Lee High was developed as shops next to those developed in the 1870s around 1910, on the opposite side of Bankwell Road was a cinema, Lee Picture Palace, run and almost certainly built by James Watt.
While Watt was a prolific builder, both in his own right and as a contractor on the Corbett Estate, he didn’t build the houses on Bankwell Road. That was a firm called Hatch and Hatch who were based at 62 Rushey Green, in the main they were auctioneers but did some speculative building work. They were owned by Robert Frarey who also had a builders’ merchants called Catford Building Supply Association who were based at 161 Rushey Green – a site still in the same business trading as Catford Timber (1).
The houses seem to have been completed in early 1909 with number 3 being used as a show house as there was a sale at auction of furniture from there (2). Number 3 was one of four houses on that side of the road that were to be sold by auction in March 1909 on 99-year leases (3). The houses on the western side, pictured below, were completed a few months later (4).
There were a lot of problems for the tenants of the houses in the months after – the owner was still Robert Frarey who had presumably failed to sell the homes in March 1909 (5). Frarey was summoned for failing to supply water to numbers 6 and 8 (6).
There were issues too with delays in sorting out pavements, the road surface and street lighting which prompted a letter from one of the residents of the street to the local press in May 1909 when the street still had builders materials scattered about and to reach the front door in wet weather almost required ‘top boots or a raft’ (7). While the Borough of Lewisham stepped in and adopted the road, they found it difficult to get the money out of the owners (8).
The reason for this was that Hatch and Hatch were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy – there was a creditors’ meeting in July 1909 where it became clear that one of the reasons for his debts was his inability to ‘realise property’ – presumably not selling on the homes in Bankwell Road and land owned in Wimbledon (9). It seems that by August 1909 the houses had been sold on, probably at a loss, by the Receivers (10).
One of the houses, probably number 12, described as a ‘pre-war villa’, was for sale for just £895 in 1927 (11).
The eastern side of the street with a then dairy at the corner is pictured below from early in their life.
So, who were the initial tenants many of whom had to live on a building site to start with? The 1911 Census was taken a couple of years after the houses were completed. A surprisingly high number of the 13 houses were empty (5, 6 & 11) when the enumerators called.
They were in the main young professionals with young children, the average age of the adults was 33. There were a couple of house shares – one three siblings (the Stevens at number 3) and the other two sisters and one of their husbands (the Trivett/Venner household at 7)..
Several were probably employed in local businesses – Edwin Linden at number 2 was a Clerk at a Cat and Dog Food Manufacturers. This may well have been Perfecta Foods which had been bought by Arthur Chilton King and was to become Chiltonian biscuits soon after. (There is a short post, which needs some updating from the early days of Running Past). The Linden family was to stay at number 2 until the late 1990s.
Also probably working at Chiltonian was Percy Jarrett from number 9 – he was listed as manager in a biscuit factory. Other trades included a provisions merchant, an electrical engineer, a couple of assistant teachers, a postal sorter, perhaps at Lee Sorting Office in what is now Woodyates Road, a Drapers’ Manager a Clerk for a Tent and Sail Maker – perhaps for John Edgington & Co who were to move in 36 Old Road after the war.
None of the married women worked but the Stevens sisters were both employed at a Telephone Exchange, perhaps the Lee Green one, then in Gilmore Road; the only other working woman was one of the Assistant Teachers, Grace Venner, who lived at number 7.
Before looking at the census records, the assumption had been that most of the adults would probably have been second generation migrants with parents having moved from elsewhere in the country to London. That was true of a few such as Draper’s Manager, Alexander Miller who hailed from Sydenham with a father from Poole in Dorset.
Madeline Trivett at number 7 was from Bermondsey and her teacher sister from Canning Town, three doors away Edith Howland seems to have come from Wandsworth – a lodger there was from what is now Tower Hamlets. So, only five out of twenty-six were born in London.
As the map shows, there was quite a spread across the country (there are three outliers all from Aberdeen, the Stevens siblings at number 3, which aren’t shown). Compared with the working class street of Robertson Street here are fewer Londoners and fewer from East Anglia and areas close to London. Compared with the wealthier early occupants of Southbrook Road, where 14% have been born in parts of the Empire, none fell into this category in Bankwell Road. As has already been alluded to there were considerably fewer Londoners too.
Of the children, unsurprisingly given the age of their parents most were local 10/14 were from what is the current Borough of Lewisham and three of the others within 5 miles.
It is only 10 houses so not too much can be inferred from it, but it is interesting that in one new street most came from outside the capital – migration to the city was still a significant feature.
Kentish Mercury 16 July 1909
Kentish Mercury 26 February 1909
Kentish Mercury 05 March 1909
Kentish Mercury 14 May 1909
Kentish Mercury 05 March 1909
Woolwich Gazette 11 June 1909
Kentish Mercury 14 May 1909
West Kent Argus and Borough of Lewisham News 19 October 1909
Kentish Mercury 16 July 1909
Kentish Mercury 13 August 1909
Sydenham, Forest Hill and Penge Gazette 8 July 1927
The photograph of the dairy and the eastern side of the street is used here with the kind permission of Bill Bowyer, it remains his copyright
Census and newspaper data is via Find my Past (subscription required)
The Ordnance Survey map is part of the collection of the National Library of Scotland, and is used here on a non-commercial licence
The migration map has been created with Google Maps
A while ago Running Past covered one of the more significant music venues in Lee, the still closed (mid 2022) Dirty South, the last incarnation of the Rose of Lee. A bit further down Lee High Road was El Partido, a short-lived club from early 1964 until some point towards the end of 1967. For a small venue above some shops away from central London it was able to attract a number of bands and artists who went onto have very successful careers including Elton John, Status Quo, influential prog rock band Gentle Giant., along with Jimmy Cliff early in his career and Bo Diddley a little past his peak.
El Partido was above numbers 8-12 Lee High Road, on the other side of the entrance to Clarendon Yard to the Sultan – a drinking haunt of Siouxsie Sioux amongst others. The buildings for both have gone, 8-12 is pictured on the right of the photograph below – mid-way between signs for Bonds Hats and the Coal Office from around 6 decades before.
When it opened it was probably above Jay’s Furnishing, hire purchase furnishers, whose ghost sign remains around the corner in Clarendon Rise, they had been there since the 1930s although they seem to have gone by 1965 and shop fronts below were empty. Whether their departure is linked to El Partido’s arrival isn’t clear.
El Partido was described as ‘a hangout for Mods and Jamaicans ….2 floors of live R&B, blues, ska and reggae, open all night and very noisy.’ In playing this mixture of music, particularly the reggae, it was unusual in the Lewisham of the mid 1960s. The club was described in a post on Transpontine blog as having
‘…. a small stage and very low ceilings just the place for live acts. Usually with two sound systems, one on each floor…..The smell of hash in the air people dancing everywhere.’
One of the best known (when he played) names to appear at El Partido was Bo Diddley in October 1965, although he was past his peak in terms of success. Nonetheless a set from Bo Diddley would have been something of a coup for the club. He had played numerous styles and influenced artists from Buddy Holly to the Beatles and the Clash. A couple of years before he had toured the UK with Little Richard, the Rolling Stones and the Everly Brothers.
Elton John (pictured a few years later), at that stage known as Reg Dwight, played with his then band, Bluesology, a couple of times in late 1965 and early 1966. Dwight’s alter ego, Elton John, wasn’t to emerge for another year or so. Bluesology also acted as the backing band for Major Lance a significant R&B and later Northern Soul artist who also appeared at El Partido in late 1965. Similarly Bluesology also provided the backing for the influential R&B singer Doris Troy in early 1966. She was later well known for being one of the backing singers on Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’
Simon Dupree and the Big Sound played there in early 1966, a psychedelic band, they neither included anyone called ‘Simon’, ‘Dupree’ and despite a hit with ‘Kite’, didn’t become ‘Big’; they nearly recruited the aforementioned keyboard player Reg Dwight who toured with them for a while in 1967. However, the Shulman brothers who made up most of the band, had some success and much more influence with the slightly odd prog rock band Gentle Giant in the 1970s.
The Drifters appeared there in early 1966; whether it was THE Drifters or a British group using the same name isn’t clear, if it was THE Drifters it isn’t clear which of the numerous variants it was.
In April 1966 Jimmy Cliff played, it would have been one of his earlier UK gigs soon after he signed to Island Records. On the same bill was Duke Reid who ‘dominated the Jamaican music scene of the 1960s, specialising in ska and rocksteady’ probably doing a DJ set at El Partido. A few weeks earlier Wilson Pickett was meant to have played but there seems to have been a double booking. Cliff was to return to El Partido in August 1966. (The album cover is from a couple of years later)
Carl Douglas was to appear a couple of times in the summer of 1966, eight years before his big hit – Kung Fu Fighting
The ‘Unbreakable’ Tea Set alas seem not to have been an early incarnation of Pink Floyd; the July date was in the summer of 1966 – they’d been known as Pink Floyd since late 1965, although the name change may have been prompted by, appearing on the same bill as the ‘unbreakable’ version.
The building was redeveloped into a fairly nondescript shop and office mix, probably in the mid 1990s, certainly it predates StreetView and the current Lewisham Planning Portal – a dental practice now occupies the cavity that Elton John performed in four times.
And finally …..there is a rumour of an appearance (although not performance) of Jimi Hendrix at El Partido. There are a fair number of rumours like this in the area, including a stay at the Station Hotel at Hither Green. There isn’t any clear evidence for any of them, but it is part of the musical folklore of the area, which is depicted in a mural in Manor Park close by.
The Kelly’s Directory information comes via Lewisham and Southwark Archives
The photograph of the lower end of Lee High Road is via Lewisham Archives, it is used with their permission but remains their copyright
The advert for El Partido was a screen shot from Facebook a few years ago, it almost certainly originated in the music press, probably Melody Maker where the club regularly advertised. If its your image and you want me to take it down do let me know.
Over the years Running Past has looked at the impact of the Blitz and the V-1 and V-2 attacks at the end of World War Two, as well as looking at the preparations that were made ahead of war being declared. This post takes a slightly different tack, looking at one street and the impact that was felt there – Taunton Road, a street of mainly Victorian terraced houses running from Burnt Ash Road to Manor Lane.
In the main we’ll look at World War Two, but we’ll start with World War One; like virtually every other street there were young men who went to war from Lee but who never returned….
Frank Eugene Gamblin was just 19 when he died on 31 May 1918 in Northern France. He was the son of Thomas and Edith Gamblin of 50 Taunton Road (at the corner of Hedgley Street). He was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment. Frank had been working part time as a ‘Milk Boy’ aged 12 in 1911, still at school and living in Rhyme Road in Lewisham.
Just beyond the school, at 58 Taunton Road, lived William Jupp; he had been born in Lee, although the family have moved to Hove for a while but was in the street by the 1911 census. At that point he was still at school, but just over seven years later, on 24 August 1918, he died near Albert in Northern France, aged just 21, a rifleman in the London Regiment. His parents, Rachael and William, were still living in Taunton Road.
James Woodnott was a Private in the London Regiment who died at Aubers Ridge on 4 October 1918 in Northern France and was buried close by. Born in 1886 he was the oldest of the five who died. He had grown up in Dacre Street; by 1909 he had married Fanny, and in 1911 he was working as a carman living in Neuchatel Road in Catford. They were living at 83 Taunton Road, opposite the park entrance, as war broke out with two children, born in 1913 and 1914.
Another man with links to the street was Alfred Edward (Edwin) Braine. He had a couple of rooms at number 13 before he went to war. Born around 1881, he seems to have lived on the street for much of his life – growing up at 37. He was serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery when he died towards the end of on the war on 20 September 1918 and is buried or commemorated at the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. He may well have joined the Army at 18, someone of a similar name (the middle name is listed as Edwin) and age signed up in October 1899 in the same regiment.
Charles Frederick Broad had grown up in Taunton Road, born around 1896 his parents, Rose and Huntley, were living at 84 Taunton Road by 1901. He was still at school in 1911 but died less than six years later aged just 20 in Belgium on New Year’s Day 1917 where he was buried at Spoilbank Cemetery (pictured below). He was a Lance Corporal in the London Regiment. His parents were Huntley Charles Broad and Rose Matilda Broad still of 84 Taunton Road.
Two doors away at 80, was the mother of Ernest E Jackson; he was a Corporal in the Royal Fusiliers and died at Gallipoli on 13 August 1915, aged 22. He may have no direct contact to Lee other than through her – Mrs Florence Brosinovich, who had married Henry in 1893. Ernest was almost certainly born Brosinovich.
For reasons that will become clear, we will continue with the group of houses to the west of the park entrance where the Brosinovich and Broad households lived. Unlike the bigger houses in the streets to the south, that part of Taunton Road hadn’t changed that much between 1911 and the outbreak of World War Two, it was still predominantly single-family homes, mainly housing skilled working-class households, when the 1939 Register was collected.
Florence Brosinovich and some of her family were still at 80, they shared with another couple. 80 was the only shared house in the group, two households with 5 people and all but Florence worked.
The Broads were still at 84, Charles’ younger brother was working as a local government officer and his father in his 60s was working as a printer. Their neighbours at 86 were the Buttons where Robert worked as a lorry driver and got the ‘heavy work’ supplement which would have entitled him to larger rations. On the other side at 82 were three women sharing, including typist Doreen Tew, who would have turned 19 in the autumn of 1939.
Others in the group of houses to the west of the park included Amos and Elizbeth Howick at 70 who were in their 60s, he was a bricklayer and he too would have been entitled to the ‘Heavy Work’ supplement in the rations. The Wilsons at 74, included paper hanger Henry in his early 50s, his work wouldn’t have got the supplement.
A little further down the street was Hedgley Street School (now Trinity), which is pictured above; there is a separate post on this but just before the 1939 Register was collated most of the children would have been evacuated to Ashford in Kent. Although given it was another year until the start of the Blitz, many children will have drifted back to Taunton Road and neighbouring streets by the time bombing started.
As the children moved out, the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) service moved in. Their role has been explored in an earlier post but one of the but several of the Noble family from 49 Lampmead Road were to be based there. This included Phyllis (later Willmott) and her brother Joe who was injured when school bombed and seriously damaged with the front part largely destroyed in 1941 – the school never re-assembled.
Oddly the Nobles were to move to the house next door to the school (52) which had a yard (now part of the school playground) for Phyllis father’s building business – a trade that would have been kept very busy with repairing local bomb damage.
One of the earliest bombs to hit the street was on 25 September 1940 when an Anderson shelter in the garden of number 1, a small house on the opposite side to Sainsburys, took a direct hit – Charles (who worked at RAF Kidbrooke) and Claire Rivers both died, along with their 7-year-old daughter Sylvia – orphaning several other children. There were 11 there in October 1939, including five who were redacted presumably children who weren’t evacuated. One of the surviving children, Ruby, ended up in an orphanage but was discovered by a brother were returned to Lewisham on leave and reunited her with other family members.
The deaths at number one weren’t the first from the street during World War Two though. Sylvia Wickens from number 7 had volunteered to be an ARP Warden, she was based in Lewisham Town Centre and was one of 41 who died at Albion Way on 11 September 1940, when a public shelter took a direct hit.
Returning to the Taunton Road, the most damaging raid was just before Christmas in 1940, when the section of the street that we covered above in relation to the 1939 Register was hit by a High Explosive bomb on 15 December. 82 probably took a direct hit as there was most damage there, but several other houses were destroyed beyond repair and replaced after the war with council homes.
At 82 there were two deaths – one was the 23-year-old Monica Tew, who was listed as the daughter of H Tew. It may be remembered that Monica’s sister, Doreen was living there in 1939, the Tews may be have been displaced by earlier raids elsewhere.
82 was a shared house by 1940, also there were the Setons whose 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth also perished. She had probably been originally been evacuated (see above) but had later returned to Lewisham.
Assuming that Florence Brosinovich had remained at 80 in the year since the 1939 Register was collected, she would have been made homeless – it seems that she moved to somewhere in the Reigate, Godstone, Dorking and Epsom area of Surrey where she died before the war was out in 1943.
At the end of the War, on VE Day there were celebrations of the end of the war, no doubt they were tempered by the deaths and injuries to friends and neighbours. There was certainly a party on Taunton Road, possibly two. The photograph above is taken from around the park entrance looking back towards Wantage Road – there is a concrete air raid shelter in the background. The one below is in the section close to Burnt Ash Road that was redeveloped 20 years or so later.
Thank you to David Carter for the information about his family who were orphaned in September 1940 link here
The photographs of VE parties are from the collection of Lewisham Archives, they are used with permission but remain their copyright
The photograph of Hedgely Street School is from a booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p15 – it remains their copyright and was accessed via Lewisham Archives and was used with the permission of both
The census and related data comes via Find My Past (subscription required)
Running Past has covered several shopping parades over the years – they form an interesting cross section of life, including changing shopping patterns, migration into south east London, changing shop types. In late 2020 we looked at one of the parades that had been demolished to make way for the Leegate Centre – Crown Terrace that become 1 to 19 Burnt Ash Road. We move just around the corner to Eltham Road to look at what were originally called Orchard and Eastbourne Terraces.
When the first Ordnance Survey map was surveyed in1863 it still it still showed Lee Green Farm (pictured below), its days were numbered though – its last farmer, Richard Morris(s) was about to move on to Blackfen. His father, William, had leased land from the Crown Estate for several decades, before moving on to College Farm at the highest point on Burnt Ash Hill where he died in 1851.
The farmland was owned by the Crown – originally part of the extended estates of Eltham Palace. It was developed by a significant name in the growth of Lee, John Pound. Unlike Crown Terrace around the corner, the buildings seem to have been developed as shops – there were retail businesses there from around 1867.
The shop buildings were bigger than most of the parades that we have covered before around Lee and in the early days, at least, allowed several of the shopkeepers to have live-in staff. For the employer it meant that staff were on site and also encouraged obedience and loyalty to them. For the employee, it meant that their home was tied to the job and falling foul of the employer meant not only loss of job but loss of home too. We saw this with servant of the Lester family from Lee New Town – Charlotte Lester – who ended up in the workhouse, presumably after losing her job as a servant.
Like most of the local shopping parades, the numbering changed over time – Orchard Terrace was at the Lee Green end – its numbering was 1-8, the latter at Lee Green – it became 2 to 16 Eltham Road. At the other end was 1-9 Eastbourne Terrace, its numbering went the opposite way, it became 18 to 34. We’ll refer to them by their Eltham Road numbering to avoid confusion.
In between the two was Carston Mews, which we won’t cover, although was home for a while to one of the many local stables of Thomas Tilling’s buses.
We’ll cover the parade in three parts – this one covers the period up to around 1905 and third part follows the period until the end of the parade in the 1960s. The second part will cover the name that dominated the parade, the drapers, Reeds, which used several different shop fronts over the years.
2 & 4 Eltham Road
For the first 40 years of the shop’s life it was a grocer and for the first 30 years of that, the name over the window was Henry Frederick Cockle. He was born around 1823 in Deptford. He seems to have moved to Eltham Road as the shops opened or soon after; he was certainly there in 1871 with his wife Eady/Edith. There were two assistants living over the shop with them at No 2 when the census enumerators called – Henry was listed was an ‘Oilman and Grocer.’
He initially only ran the business from No 2 as in 1871 Mary Collins ran a ‘Fancy Repository’; she’d gone by 1881, probably several years before, as 2 & 4 was then being run as one. While the name was still Henry Cockle, he had moved out to a large house at 14 Wickham Road in Brockley. It seems that he had expanded the range of goods sold as in the census he was listed as a wine merchant. There were three sons and two servants there , along with him and Eady. Back to Eltham Road, living over the shop, was the shop manager – George Hinch (27) from Lincolnshire plus six others who worked in the shop ranging in ages of 16 to 53, plus a 15-year-old servant Emily Fox from Deptford.
By 1891 the business name was the same, but the Cockles were in a house built by W J Scudamore in Southbrook Road. The trend of retail staff living over the ‘commodious’ premises continued with – 6 grocers assistants there – all male, all under 30 plus a housekeeper.
There were different names over the window by 1900 – Webb and Ellen – a small chain of grocers with around 15 branches around Greenwich, Woolwich and Lewisham that year. In 1901 George Pedley was the store manager, living over the shop with his wife, a young child and 6 live-in staff, including several who made deliveries to the residents. While the nature of the ordering and the delivery transport may have been different – much grocery shopping has reverted to this model in the 21st century.
6 Eltham Road
No 6 was initially an ironmonger run by Middlesex man John Aldous; in the 1871 census along with his wife Mary; they had probably been on the parade since it was first let, one of their six children had been born in Lee in 1865. Oddly, there was a seemingly unrelated John Aldous, also an ironmonger, also with a wife called Mary, a little further down Lee High Road.
By 1881, probably a few years before, a business type was to take over that would remain in the shop until it was knocked down in the 1960s – a baker and confectioner. The name listed in Kelly’s Directories for years was James Galloway although he was almost certainly William James Galloway who had been plying the same trade at number 18 a decade earlier (we won’t cover him separately there as it was a shop that quickly became part of the Reed empire).
Galloway would have been 57 in 1881 and was born in Marylebone, probably arriving on the parade around 1868. It isn’t clear where the Galloways lived in 1881, but managing the business for them was Hannah Hayman who lived over the shop with two assistants in both 1881 and 1891, the name over the window remained the same despite William’s death in 1889.
Hannah had gone by 1901 and it was one of James’s sons, Archibald, who was baking, along with 3 assistants. By 1905 Frank Sanders name was listed in Kelly’s Directory.
8 Eltham Road
John Cole was probably the first occupant of the shop, born around 1831 in Rochester, he ran a draper’s shop with his wife Jane, who hailed form Stowmarket in Suffolk. Also living over the shop in 1871 were 7 staff, mainly in their teens and early 20s – a mixture of shop assistants and apprentices. Jane’s sister Sarah also lived there and was employed as a housekeeper.
By 1881, John Cole still owned the shop but seemed to be living over the road above another shop – then referred to as St Peters Court, named after the local church. In St Peters Court were John and Jane plus 5 children plus a saleswoman in the shop, a mantle maker, a milliner plus an apprentice plus three servants. The business seemed to be doing well. Back over at No 8 were three Drapers’ Assistants and a dressmaker.
The Coles had gone from by the late 1880s from both sides of the road. By this stage the name over the door was ‘Howes Bros.’, run by Norfolk man Albert Howes. In the 1891 census, there was no evidence of the ‘Bros’ (although it was 100 years too early to ask ‘When Will I Be Famous?’). There with him were two female assistants in their 20s along with a housekeeper.
The business was taken over by Tanner and Hook in the early 1890s, they had one other shop at 287 Brockley Road. The ‘Tanner’ was Arthur Tanner who in 1901 who was from Banbury in Oxfordshire, it was a family business with two sisters running the business with him in 1901. Who the Hook was isn’t clear, s/he certainly wasn’t running the shop in Brockley.
10 Eltham Road
The first business at number 10 was Thomas Green, a Cheesemonger. Born around 1839 in Hackney, he and his wife Priscilla from Stoke Newington had arrived via Sydenham where their 3 children had been born. There were no servants or assistants living above the shop with them in 1871. A decade later little had changed, the census noted that he employed two men and a boy, the boy was probably his son Edward (17).
By 1891 Thomas Green was still selling cheese, no doubt ably assisted by daughters Mabel and Ada who worked in the shop. By 1894 they were gone, and a different business was there – fruiterer and greengrocer, Walter William Wood.
The food miles of much of the produce sold would have been very small indeed. The Woods had been running Horn Park Farm, at what is now the junction of Alnwick and Horncastle Roads, since the 1880s on land owned by the Crown Estate. Under their stewardship, Horn Park Farm became a largely market gardening operation – growing tomatoes, mushrooms and cucumbers as well as a lot of flowers. The shop was run by Walter’s cousin Arthur Russell in 1901 who lived with the family at Horn Park Farm. Around 120 years later, the would have been towards the right of the photograph.
12 Eltham Road
For much of its life, and all of this section of the post, 12 was a stationer’s. In the 1871 census William Martin (46) from Brighton was meeting the writing and reading needs of Lee. He was there with Jane (38) from Eastbourne. Their journey to Lee Green was a circuitous one via Rochester, a daughter of 14 was born there, and Blackheath. He had been the other side of Lee Green in Osborn Place, off Lee Road, trading as a librarian and music seller in 1861. A couple of servants and an assistant in the shop were also there in 1871. William seems to be unrelated to the Martin Martin who was also a stationer and ran the post office around the corner in Burnt Ash Road.
By 1879, possibly a little earlier, the Martins were plying their trade elsewhere and Ebenezer Wilmshurst’s name was over the window of number 12. Ebenezer was born around 1849 in Cranbrook in Kent, he was married to Ellen from Greenwich and had previously lived in Blackheath and Lee since 1879 where a daughter was born. With them were two stationer’s assistants, a domestic help and a ‘mother’s help’ who was just 13 – a cousin of Ebenezer. A decade earlier he was an Assistant Stationer in a shop in Osborn Place (not Willian Martin’s though).
The Wilmshursts were to stay until the late 1890s, although were living in Blackheath rather than over the shop in 1891. The new owner was Alfred Wilson, like his predecessor he lived elsewhere, a couple of hundred metres away at 1 Cambridge Road (now Drive) in 1901. There was the beginning of something different happening above the shop though – it seems to have been the first letting to people not associated with the businesses below. Above the shop was the household of Henry Russell who worked as an ‘Explosives Operator’, presumably plying his trade at Woolwich Arsenal rather than above the shop!
Wilson was still running the business there in the 1905 Kelly’s Directory.
14 Eltham Road
This started life as a butcher run by John Page, he was from Suffolk and in 1871 was 28 and running the shop with his mother, widowed sister-in-law, plus two butchers assistants. Page had moved on by 1881, probably by 1877. The name Randall was over the window, but it is listed as Albert Frank in Kelly’s Directory and Alfred Frederick in the 1881 Census. The latter was from Sussex, and was there with Devonian wife Annie, several children, two servants but no shop staff.
A F Randall had departed by 1888 as Walter William Cook was supplying meat to the neighbourhood, or at least some of it. A decade before he’d been working in his mother’s butcher’s business 50 metres away on the Lee High Road side of Lee Green – it was more or less next door to the Police Station, an early version on the same site as the early 20th century one. That business was still operating at this stage, so whether there had been some family feud or whether it was an expansion isn’t clear. Oddly he and his family were listed in the census as living both other the shop and at 13 Brandram Road in 1891.
Whatever happened, it wasn’t a business that lasted long – the shop had become part of Charles Reed’s expanding empire by 1896.
16 Eltham Road
George Dadley a cabinet maker from Northamptonshire who had been in Eltham Road since around 1868, possibly a little earlier. In the 1871 census he was listed as employing 4 men and 2 boys, none of whom lived over the shop. With him was his wife Jemima from Lincolnshire and two children under 3, both born in Lee along with a teenage servant from Devon. George died in in 1873, but Jemima continued running the business as an upholsterer – the 1881 census listed two children George (17) and Herbert (11) who were working as upholsterers – the latter was probably an error in recording rather than child labour going on at Lee Green.
The Reeds had taken over the shop by 1891, probably earlier, but Jemima stayed in the area, working from 43 Taunton Road until at least 1901, probably later. She had retired by 1911 seems to have lived out the rest of her life in Boone’s Almshouses on Lee High Road (pictured below), until her death in 1922, aged around 85.
24 Eltham Road
John Michael Sears was a stationer and ‘fancy goods’ seller who plied his trade there in the late 1860s and early part of the 1870s. He had competition in the former trade from William Martin at no 12. The shadow of his next-door neighbour, C H Reed, was visible in his trade adverts before Christmas 1869. The shop succumbed to the Reeds in the 1870s.
26 Eltham Road
26 was another short-lived business, in 1871 it was home to William Wheeler (29) a watchmaker from Thame in Oxfordshire, he had a young daughter who had been born in Lee. He was gone before the census enumerators arrived again, with the shop becoming another part of CH Reed’s burgeoning draper’s business, probably before the decade was out.
28 Eltham Road
Charles Henry Lenn may well have been the first trader at 28 but was certainly there by 1870 selling china and glass ware to the locals of Lee. He was from Okehampton in Devon, he and Stepney born wife Caroline had moved around London a lot over the previous 2 decades. What retail experience he had before arriving at Lee Green isn’t clear, he’d been a carpenter and builder a decade before.
It was a name that was to last at least 40 years on the parade though. Caroline died in 1893 and Charles 5 years later, both were buried at what is now Hither Green Cemetery. The business carried on in Charles’ name run by daughters Susannah, Emma and Caroline . The shop was to the left of the photograph below.
30 Eltham Road
The first occupant of 30 Eltham Road seems to have been hairdresser, George Lambley from Bristol; he’d gone by the time census enumerators called in 1881 though as Lincolnshire born, Robert Johnson was trading as a shoe and bootmaker. Johnson and his wife Ellen from Gosport were to remain there until around 1895, in the middle of their time at 30, the name Stubbs & Co was over the window, but the Johnsons were always living there. Robert seems to have turned his hand to sales after leaving – he was living in Hither Green in 1901 and listed as a ‘boot traveller.’
Frederick Miller took over boot and shoe making duties on the parade, but was living in Clarendon Road (now Rise) in 1901. Miller was to stay until around the outbreak of World War 1.
32 Eltham Road
While empty in 1871, by 1881 32 was home to a trade no longer seen on shopping parades – a brush maker. Brixton born George James White was the man behind the brooms. Along with his wife, Margaret there were four children, the eldest who worked in the shop. They were there in the 1891 census but moved on by 1894 as the Reed empire closed in. The Whites presumably plied their trade elsewhere and presumably successfully, in 1901 George was still making brushes but living in Micheldever Road. He died a few years later though. The shop, pictured a few years later, is towards the left of the photograph below.
34 Eltham Road
This was a corner plot that seems to have been let with a market garden – this covered what elsewhere would be described as the ‘Piazza’ of the current Leegate Centre at the corner of Leyland Road (pictured below). The first occupant was James Walton who in the 1871 census was described a nurseryman who came from Jersey with his wife Jenny. They had been in Lee since at least 1863, when their daughter Annie was born – this was before the parade was built. Annie died in the 1880s and it was just James and daughter Annie there in 1891.
James married Harriet and in 1901 was still living above the shop at 34 with four children, the eldest were children from Harriet’s previous relationship. There were also two of their own, along with a shop assistant and a servant. By this stage Kelly’s Directory had a suffix of FRHS after the name – James was now a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society. They were to stay on there until at least 1905.
We will pick up the story of most of these shops in a couple of posts time; the next one though will look at the drapery empire of Charles Henry Reed which dominated the parade.
Picture & Other Credits
The press cutting is from the Woolwich Gazette 11 December 1869
The picture of Lee Green Farm is from the infomration board at Lee Green
The three pictures of the parade, along with that of the almshouses are from the collection of Lewisham Archives – they are used with their permission and remain their copyright
Kelly’s Directory data comes from both Lewisham and Southwark Archives
Census and related data comes from Find My Past (subscription required)
A few months ago, Running Past covered migration to one of the working-class streets in Lee, Robertson Street, which was renamed in the 1880s and is now Brightfield Road. It was always the intention to look at look at some of the wealthier streets of Lee to see what the differences were. The homes we’ll look at this time are in Southbrook Road which were featured in an Edwardian postcard and, in 1881, would have been London suburbia.
The development of Southbrook Road had started at around the same time as the railway came to Lee – the station opened on 1 September 1866. The houses at the Burnt Ash Road end of the street seem to have been built just ahead of this. 8 Southbrook Road was sold at auction with a lease of 74 years in 1889 – on the assumption that it was on a 99-year lease, it presumably had been built around 1864. As an aside, the rent was just £35 a year (1).
Like many Lee street names, the naming relates to the Baring family, who were Lords of the Manor; in 1866 the ‘Lord’ would just have been Francis Baring, the 1st Baron Northbrook. Southbrook, like Northbrook and Micheldever, they were parts of the family estate in Hampshire (2).
The houses in the postcard seem to be on the ‘even’ side to the west of Wantage Road, with Manor Lane in the background. If this assumption is correct, in the 1881 census, the houses pictured had relatively recently been sold and/or let, those at the Manor Lane end were still under construction. In the 1881 census on the ‘even’ side while 32 to 48 had been let, 50 to 52 were noted as being ‘unoccupied.’ On the opposite side of the road 33 – 45 had been completed and, apart from 41 which was unoccupied all let or bought. One of the houses in this group was sold for £710 in 1879.
The houses had been built by John Pound, who we’ve covered several times before. It seems that they were finished off by John Urquhart Allan, an Aberdonian builder who was living at 26 Taunton Road In 1881. He’d arrived via Croydon, where he’d married Harriet from Dorset. However, Allen wasn’t to emulate John Pound in terms of creating a large building empire, although the reason for his professional demise was the same – bankruptcy (3). Allan moved to north west London and restarted in his original trade, a carpenter; he stayed there until his death in 1915.
In the main, these were homes for young professionals – only two homes were ‘headed’ by someone over 37. Interestingly, two thirds of this group of households had extended families living with them. This is not a pattern noticed to any significant extent when looking at Victorian census data in the larger houses of Lee for other posts. Indeed, a decade later in the same houses it was quite uncommon.
The same style of houses had already been built to the east of Wantage Road – from electoral registers that are available on-line, it appears that there may have been sold and/or let let from around 1875. In these earlier houses there were fewer extended households and heads of household slightly older. One of those residents of the slightly older houses was someone we have come across before, William Marks, one of the founders of Northbrook Cricket Club.
This post will look at numbers 24-48 evens and 23-45 odds. For the purposes of tracking the ‘immigration’ to Lee we’ll look at the Head of household and their partner as one group (44 people), their children (32) as another group and their servants (26) as a third group. Disappointingly, some of the detail is absent with a small number of birthplaces – for example, details on the Swifts at 36 were reduced to England and a couple of others just London, such as the Mathams at 33 – although other data for them suggests they came from the City of London.
Looking first at the household heads and their partners; there are some significant differences to the working-class households of Robertson Street, later Brightfield Road. As can be seen from the map above, none of the Southbrook Road residents had been born in Lee or Lewisham (it had been 16% in Robertson Street), while there were a fair number from the rest of London – in total 40% were Londoners, this was around 9% less than in the nearby working-class housing. A slightly smaller proportion came from the neighbouring counties of Kent and Surrey than in Robertson Street.
Here the similarities end. With Robertson Street many had come from rural communities in East Anglia; in Southbrook Road the none came from those areas. Instead, the roots of 14% were in the south west of England, particularly Devon. Another major different was the number with birthplaces in the Empire (14%); these included County Down and Dublin in Ireland, one from what is now Cape Town and two who were born in Jamaica (these are excluded from the map). It is, of course, possible that the latter group may have been Black Caribbean, rather than there with trade or the colonial service, but this is much less likely but difficult to be certain about as ethnicity wasn’t recorded until the 1991 census.
There were 32 children in the homes, this excludes three boarders and another child that was being looked after for a relative. The data is somewhat skewed by one large household that had seven children all born in what is now Cape Town. Of the other 25, 10 were born in Lee and 12 elsewhere in London – mainly in neighbouring areas such as Eltham, Camberwell and New Cross – indicating the stopping off points in the journey to Lee.
William Marks was a silk merchant and his journey to 1881 Lee was shorter than many of the household heads – born in 1822 in Sheerness, his wife Jane came from Gravesend. Their children had all ‘flown the nest’ by 1881 but they’d been in Stepney in 1852 and Charlton by 1859 where they remained until a move to Lee around 1875 – he was on the electoral register in Lee then.
Martha Pollard was 34 in 1881 and was one of the more locally born residents, hailing from Woolwich. She was married to John Pollard who was 52 in 1881 and came from Devonport, now part of Plymouth. There is nothing obvious between his birth and the 1871 Census when the couple were living in Camberwell, he was working as a clerk at Somerset House. They seem to have had several children when living in Camberwell, at least two of which weren’t on the census in 1881 (they could have been away from the property on census night). They’d moved to Lee around 1876 as a daughter was born there.
As was common in the larger houses of the area, most of the houses had servants – the patterns of migration were much more similar to the working-class housing of Robertson Street, most were from London and the southeast, with a handful from the south west and Wales.
While not that much can be drawn into a small number of households in a couple of Lee streets, it certainly appears that the wealthier in Lee typically came from further away than their working-class counterparts.
And finally …. the view from about the same location as the postcard is not that different in early 2022 to that of over a hundred years before – the horse and cart has been replaced by a car but much else is similar due to the availability of off-street parking in the large front gardens.
Kentish Mercury 19 July 1889
Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names and their Origins p50
Kentish Mercury 11 December 1885
The postcard is from eBay in May 2020
The census and related data come via Find My Past (subscription required)
The maps are created using census data over Google Maps
The confirmation of the builders and the 1879 purchase price comes from the deeds of one of the houses.
Last year Running Past looked at two of the most intense nights of World War Two bombing in Lee on the 27 and 29 December 1940. We turn our attention to a night earlier in December 1940 when Lee, Hither Green and parts of the Corbett Estate were again hit – the night of 8-9 December 1940 – most of the bombs fell in a short period around 11:00 pm on the Sunday evening.
As was the case with the raids almost three weeks later, Lee wasn’t the real target and was a stopping off point on a major raid on London during which German bombers dropped over 380 tons of high explosive bombs and at least 115,000 incendiaries. 250 Londoners were killed on 8 December and 600 more seriously injured. Several streets in Lee, such as Brightfield Road (below), were hit in both raids.
As we have found with other posts on the Blitz, including the first night and the raids on 27 December and 29 December 1940, it is worth remembering that not every incident was reported to the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) HQ at Lewisham Town Hall, some being just reported to the Fire Brigade but others never going through official channels. This is particularly the case with incendiary bombs which residents were often able to put out themselves.
This particular night was clearly chaotic at the ARP HQ with some incidents clearly being reported and/or written up several times – as far as possible the narrative and maps have attempted to strip out the duplicates. There were around 70 incidents reported in just Lee, Hither Green and the Corbett Estate with no doubt lots not reported and large numbers elsewhere in the old Borough of Lewisham.
There appear to have been at least three ‘breadbaskets’ dropped on Lee at around 10:50 pm– one around Wantage Road, another on Burnt Ash Road, although the numbers were smaller there and a third around Brightfield Road. There were around 70 incendiaries that the ARP logged – with most, the note on the log was ‘fire put out without significant damage to property.’ The fires in Brightfield Road were of a different class to those elsewhere though– the ARP log noted that they were ‘distinguished’ – presumably a typo. Several of the houses in the postcard above were hit, whilst the photograph was taken over 30 years before, the street scene, that much will not have changed by 1940. The locations recorded from the raid in Lee are mapped below.
There were relatively few injuries – those that there were tended to be from the aftermath and/or trying to put out fires – four were injured in Burnt Ash Road, including a child who was blinded at 90 Burnt Ash Road and an ARP warden was injured in Micheldever Road.
At around the same time as incendiaries rained down on Lee several were dropped around what was then Campshill House in Hither Green Lane, Ryecroft and Campshill Roads (at the top of the map below). A few minutes later there were a couple in the streets to the north of Brownhill Road – Ardgowan and Springbank Roads (there is a separate post on attacks on Springbank Road.) There were also incendiaries dropped in Fernbrook Road – 67 and 101 were both damaged along with another two at 127 Manor Park and Leahurst Road area (see Lee map above). No doubt a few more fell but weren’t recorded.
At about 11:05 it seems that a ‘breadbasket’ was dropped on the eastern side of the Corbett estate with several hits on Verdant Lane and a lot falling in Minard Road (pictured below) – although they mainly landed in the street. Whilst this would have destroyed cars in 2021, this presumably wasn’t much of an issue in 1940.
While in the main, it was incendiary bombs that hit Hither Green, Lee and the Corbett Estate that night, there were a few high explosive bombs dropped too. The earliest was in Nightingale Grove at the junction with Maythorne Cottages (the eastern side of the ‘tunnel’ and current main entrance to Hither Green station.) It failed to explode, but the road was closed and, presumably, residents evacuated at around 10:00 pm. Three and a half years later, more or less the same location was hit by a V-1, causing several deaths and the destruction of a lot of homes.
Around 45 minutes later another one exploded at the junction of Mount Pleasant and Fordyce Roads causing a crater in the road and damaging the water supply. Another unexploded high explosive bomb was reported at 59 St Mildred’s Road around 1:00 am, it was probably dropped earlier in the evening and the residents were evacuated.
The most destructive high explosive bomb was reported at 11:30 pm – at the junction of Dacre Park and Eton Grove, close to Lee Terrace. Two houses were demolished and several others were damaged beyond repair. Dacre Park was blocked for a while and four were reported as being injured.
One of those injured was William John Sherriff, a 21-year-old merchant seaman from Port Talbot in South Wales; William was taken to Lewisham Hospital but died there the following day.
While of a similar size to the site from the Fernbrook Road V1 and several around Boone Street, the old Brough of Lewisham did not prefabs built on it; the site was cleared and flats built on it soon after the war, pictured below.
In several locations the term ’many’ was used in the ARP log – this includes the both the eastern and western sides of Burnt Ash Road, Effingham Road (around the current Brindishe School), the eastern end of Burnt Ash. In these cases, I have assumed at least four incendiaries fell. Some also aren’t exact – one group of four were noted as being on Micheldever between Wantage and Burnt Ash Roads.
The numbers are undoubtedly an underestimate – incendiary bombs that harmlessly fell in gardens or roads probably wouldn’t have been reported.
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.
The postcard of Effingham Road is via eBay in February 2018
On the corner of Lee High Road and Lee Church Street there is a small Victorian pub that seems to be clinging onto life, it has gone through a pair of reincarnations in the recent past. For the first 160 or so years of its life it was known as the Swan, in the last decade Rambles Bar and then Elements Bar.
The pub had opened around 1837, with the licence going to a James Couchman. It transferred to Thomas Couchman, presumably James’ son, on the condition that he ran the pub (1), Thomas was previously the parish constable. He had been born around 1796 somewhere in Kent (the 1841 census only listed the county), this may well have been in Lee.
As we saw in a post on one of the Quaggy tributaries, Mid Kid Brook, the original name came from swans that lived on a small lake or moat which had been created by damming the Brook in what are currently the grounds of Merchant Taylor’s Almshouses. The lake, sometimes referred to as the Looking Glass of Lee, went back to around the bottom of Dacre Park. Initially, it was for a farm run by the Lord of the Manor, Brian Annesley, whose later years seems to have at least influenced Shakespeare’s King Lear. Later it was an ornamental lake for Lee Place, home initially to a man who profited from the slave trade, George Thomson, and later to the Boone family.
In its early days, in the absence of of public buildings, The Swan was home to jury led inquests into deaths. This seems to have been common practice as we saw with the unfortunate Robert Cocking who died in an early parachute accident. His inquest was held at the Old Tigers Head.
Of the inquests held, the most notable was that following the death of police constable, William Aldridge, from a fractured skull in Deptford. He was hit by a rock thrown by a mob who tried to resist the arrest of John Pine outside the Navy Arms in Deptford (a pub building that is still there but looks forlorn and has seemingly been converted into flats). The death wasn’t instant and Aldridge returned to his home in Lee where he declined rapidly and died – the Metropolitan Police had been formed a decade before and he was the eighth officer to die on duty.
The inquest jury recorded ‘wilful murder’ against William Calvert, John Pine, his brother William, and John Burke (2). In the end charges were reduced to manslaughter and at the end of the trial at the Old Bailey, John Pine was transported for life as was William Calvert, albeit for 15 years (3). Perhaps they ended up in the antipodean Lewisham.
Like the Old Tiger’s Head at Lee Green there were sporting events along with associated gambling at the Swan. In 1843 there was a pedestrian race between ‘Two Unknowns’ one from Greenwich, one from Lee for a £10 stake over 200 yards (4). There also seems to have been live pigeon shooting (5) possibly over the road around what is now Bankwell Road, it was a sport that was only mentioned once in the press in relation to The Swan, but was later to happen regularly at the Old Tigers Head.
Thomas Couchman had moved on by early 1846 with George Chapman’s name was on brass over the door (6). Chapman died the same year, aged just 29 (7). James Charles Tiley was landlord by 1847; he would have been about 34 at that time, he was born in Middlesex. In 1851 he was a widower and was there with Charlotte Goddard, who was listed as his daughter in law (but almost certainly wasn’t), she worked as a barmaid; also there was a lodger. By 1861 James and Charlotte were married with two young children and a couple of servants – Sarah Larking and Mathilda Newmann.
As with every pub in the area, there were fights, drunkenness and arrests – one included the drunken assault of a police officer by George Mahoney of Robertson Street (now the Lee High Road end of Brightfield Road) who was fighting with someone else outside the pub and when arrested hit the PC. He was fined 10/- or two weeks in prison (9).
The next landlord was John Fitzgerald who started pulling pints after James Tiley’s death. He had moved on before the 1881 census enumerators called as the landlord was then John Green who was then 38 and hailed from Dartford. There with him was his wife, Mary from Devon, two children, two bar staff who lived above the pub, along with a domestic servant.
The Greens had moved on by September 1884 as Walter William Scott took over the licence. One of the first things that Scott changed was to try to let stabling attached to the pub, noting that it could also be used for for manufacturing or business (10). Scott moved on by 1889 as the licence was briefly held in 1889/90 by Devonian, John Byerlee Beadle (11) who had previous been landlord at the Coopers’ Arms in Shoreditch. While listed there in the 1891 Kelly’s, he had moved on by the 1891 census as he was recorded as a retired publican living in Woolwich.
At The Swan in 1891 was Walter Haywood Cooper, born in Portsmouth in 1862, who was there with his wife Emma and two live-in staff, a potman, Thomas Mears and a barmaid, Bertha Crew.
The Coopers stay was a relatively short one, but those that followed had very brief tenures as the licence transferred to Frank Minty in August 1896 (12) soon after the death of Emma in May 1896 (13).
As we saw in the post on the Lesters of Lee New Town, there was a serious distubance in early 1897, when George Lester was charged with being ‘riotous whilst drunk’ and assaulting two Police Constables after having to be ejected from the Swan. He was found guilty and got a hefty fine of £6 or three months imprisonment with 6/- (30p) costs.
Frank Minty was gone by May 1897, as J Ellesmere asserted that the pub was under new management stressing the quality of the whiskies on offer to the discerning drinker (14). Ellesmere’s stay was even shorter, little more than 4 months, as there was new ‘new management’ by September 1897 as the adverts were in the name of John McPherson (15). He was a Scot from Argyllshire, but had moved from the Red Cross pub in North Cray, the pub is has been known as the White Cross since 1935 to avoid confusion with the British Red Cross.
McPherson was there with his wife, Maud, a young child and a couple of live-in staff, barmaid Rosina Jones and a domestic servant Helen Gander in 1901. The pub is pictured at the back of the photograph below from around this era.
Around 1907 Bertie William Richard Perou took over the licence, he’d have been around 24, he’d been working as a barman at his Father’s pub, the Red Lion at 17 Greenwich High Road (the building, although not the pub is still there). His father had probably retired by 1907 and lived in Longhurst Road (16). Perou started to use the rooms for concerts – including a ‘Bohemian Concert’ in late 1907 one of several by the Lee and Lewisham Musical Society (17). Perou’s was another who had a short stay as by 1911 he was running the Hutchinson Arms in Stepney. The pub is pictured below, its sign visible at the rear of the photograph from this era.
The next name on the brass plaque over the door seems to have been Henry Bernard Drew who was certainly there by the time the 1911 Kelly’s Directory was compiled. Born in the City of London in 1869, Drew came from a family who worked on the Thames, his father was a master lighter man and in 1901 he was listed as a Barge Owner living in the then suburbia of the Corbett Estate on Arngask Road with his wife Ada, daughter Ada and a servant not called Ada. It’s not clear why he gave up life on the water but was there by 1911, probably a year or two before, perhaps living in Catford he’d already given up interest other than ownership. They still had a live in servant and no doubt employed people in the bar.
He stayed at the Swan until the mid 1930s, possibly running the pub until his death in 1937 at the Miller Hospital in Greenwich. At the time he was living in the WJ Scudamore built Thornwood Road. He was survived by Ada.
The next landlord was probably Walter Edward Mitchell, he was certainly there in the 1939 Register, when he was living at The Swan on his own; he probably took over the tenancy at around the time of Henry Drew’s death. He was born in 1895 probably in Westminster, although the family always seems to have lived around Lambeth, and living in Kennington in 1911 when he was working as a Porter. He died in 1962.
On Facebook threads there were a few memories of a DJ called Graham Edwards in the 1960s and 1970s and the regular playing of T Rex’s Ride a White Swan (released in 1970). There was a darts team and that odd fixture of many pub Sunday lunchtimes – the stripper. It seems that in that era Jim and Kath ran the pub.
Fast forward to the 1980s and 1990s the landlord was William (Bill) Whipps born in Bermondsey in 1950, and wife Mary, they’d married in Lewisham in 1969. They may have divorced then remarried as a couple of the same uncommon names married in Bexley in 2002 – both with the surname Whipps.
Around this time the name seemed to have subtly changed with both a prefix and suffix to the ‘Famous Swan of Lee.’ The source of the fame is unclear. It was very much a ‘Millwall pub’, something particularly noticeable around the Lions trips to Cardiff for the FA Cup Final (whilst Wembley was being rebuilt) in 2004 and the subsequent brief foray into Europe, along with visits to Wembley later in the decade for play-off Finals. On such occasions the pub was covered with flags of St George. The pub was probably run by a couple called Mark and Faye in this era. It is pictured below from 2009.
There are several reviews in Beer in the Evening for The Swan which deteriorated during the first decade of the 21st century. In 2003 it was described as “Cheap, honest, good jukebox, good beer. It’s doing the simple things well that makes this pub a cut above the rest nearby.”
A review four years later was equally positive, almost too good to be true “a fantastic pub, wonderful bar staff and super landlady, the entertainment is first class with Campbell’s disco every two weeks and the karaoke and bands they have on there, never any trouble!!!!”
It struggled over the next few years with several short periods closed for a variety of reasons, with reviews less gushing – ‘a very basic boozer’ was one less than enthusiastic description. It had a couple of prolonged periods of over six months closed during 2012 and 2013 before reopening with a new name, Rambles Bar, pictured below from 2014.
From the outside, at least, it was a business that seemed to struggle, while more inviting than the latter days of its previous incarnation, when passing it lacked a key element of a successful pub or bar, drinkers. There were a few party nights when the pub was rammed but these seemed to be rarities.
The current incarnation, which has straddled COVID-19 and the lockdowns that killed off the Dirty South (Rose of Lee), is known as Elements Bar. It offers food and cocktails, but much reduced hours to the traditional pub that was previously there. There seem to be similar issues of large parties but few drinkers on other nights. An almost empty bar from a November 2021 mid Saturday evening is pictured above.
The struggles of the Swan (and it’s successors) are almost certainly related to changes in the area – much of the social housing in what was once Lee New Town (the area bounded by Lee High Road, Dacre Park and Boone Street) has been sold under right to buy. The neighbouring streets on the south side of Lee High Road had been home to skilled manual workers and public sector workers before and after World War Two. However, wealthier professionals have moved in, house prices have risen and drinking patterns changed. There are lots of external factors too such as the smoking ban and cheaper supermarket booze too.
Combined, this has an impact on traditional pubs – the last 25 years have seen the demise of the Royal Oak, the Greyhound and most recently the Woodman. The former Swan is bucking the trend and hanging on in there. All four are pictured above from a few years ago.
Unlike many other closed local pubs, there haven’t been pages of memories posted on Facebook – maybe there hasn’t been a trigger to do it… So, if you worked there or drank there, tell your story, who were the characters who propped up the bar, the publicans, 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 there) – if it is you first comment ‘here’, you will have to wait for it to be ‘moderated’. I will update the post with comments. Anything libellous will get deleted here & no doubt on the Facebook Group pages.
Ken White (1992) The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham p241
5 October 1839 – Kentish Mercury
9 October 1839 – London Evening Standard
28 May 1843 – Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle
3 April 1842 – Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle
23 November 1846 – Morning Advertiser
9 January 1847 – West Kent Guardian
23 September 1871 – Kentish Mercury
25 May 1872 – Kentish Mercury
12 September 1884 – Kentish Mercury
White op cit p241
28 August 1896 – Kentish Mercury
24 April 1896 – Kentish Mercury
14 May 1897 – Woolwich Gazette
17 September 1897 Woolwich Gazette
17 May 1907 – Kentish Mercury
15 November 1907 – Kentish Mercury
Picture and Other Credits
The postcard with the pub in the background showing Oates drapers is from the author’s own ‘collection’
The postcard with the tram in from of the Woodman, is via eBay in 2017
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 under a half 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