Tag Archives: Lee

Remembering the WW2 Dead in Lewisham, Lee & Blackheath

As Remembrance Sunday 70 years on from the end of the Second World War approaches this week, it is perhaps worth reflecting on some of the local people who lost their lives during the conflict.  I did a similar piece last year in relation to WW1 combatant deaths, but for WW2, I wanted to focus more on those who lost their lives on the ‘Home Front.’

One of the main differences compared with the WW1 is the number of women who died in the conflict.  While there were deaths in WW1 – such as those I have covered in the blog in relation to the Gotha bombing of Sydenham Road and the Zeppelin attack on Hither Green – they were a very small minority. The extent of aerial attacks by both German and Allied sides in WW2 changed this, as did the changing role of women in the armed forces.  A memorial in Whitehall commemorates both the changes in roles of women during the War and their deaths.

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Albion Way Shelter

At about 4 pm on 11 September 1940, a brick street shelter suffered a direct hit, as a German bomber discharged his remaining bombs as he returned to Germany.  Unsurprisingly there were a large number of casualties, with 41 dying inside the shelter and nearby.  Those who died included

  • William Abbott (56) a shop assistant of 8 Murillo Road;
  • Marjorie Wickens of 7 Taunton Road (19), who was an air raid warden; and
  • Elizabeth Grant of 19 Brightfield Road (19)

All three were buried and commemorated at Hither Green Cemetery.

Deptford Central Methodist Hall

The Central Hall was also hit on 11 September 1940, probably in the same raid as Albion Way, 50 were buried in the rubble whilst sheltering in the basement.  There were 26 deaths – including

  • Phoebe Turner of 60 Harvard Road (45); and
  • Lillian Allum of 47 Effingham Road (40).

Lee Park

There were at least seven who died in the bombing on Lee Park on 17 September in 1940 –  which would have been roughly to the left of the picture below, towards the Lee High Road end of the street.  The church was Christ Church which was bombed at around the same time and has been covered in the blog before.  Those who died were:

  • Emily Collins (62) of 35;
  • Ethel (66) & George Crawford (70) of 31a;
  • Ethel Pollard (39), daughter of the Crawfords also of 31a;
  • Emma Green (90) from 40 Dacre Park who was visiting 35 Lee Park and died of her injuries later in the year; along with
  • Maud (30) & Samuel (32) Nuttal at 31 Lee Park

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Boone Street

George Loader of 34 Boone Street died aged 85 in the Blitz on 21 September 1940. This probably became one of the sites for prefab bungalows after the war.

Sandhurst Road School

A large bomb was dropped during the day of 20 January 1943 killing 45 children and teachers, the casualties included:

  • Anne & Judith Biddle, 5 year old twins from 22 Muirkirk Road;
  • Pauline and Eunice Davies – Sisters of 9 and 7 from 57 Killearn Road;
  • Dennis and Ronald Barnard 10 and 9 from 120 Further Green Road;
  • Mary Jukes (38) from 3a Newstead Road; and
  • Harriet Langdon (40) from 65 Manor Park

There is a poignant memorial to those who died in Hither Green Cemetery.

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Hither Green Railway Station

There was a V-1 attack on the station on 29 July 1944 – the day after the Lewisham High Street V-1 explosion, which was covered on the blog a year or so ago.  There were four deaths including a mother and daughter from Walworth, Emily (25) and Jean (1) Champion, Violet Kyle of 11 Morley Road, who died in the Miller Hospital in Greenwich, and William Pontin (38) of Weybridge.

Blackheath Village

There was considerable damage to Blackheath Village on 8 March following a V-2 rocket hitting the Methodist chapel in what is now called Blackheath Grove –  there will be a specific post on this in a few weeks, 134 were injured and there were five deaths including Daisy Denny, Alice Drain and Eve Taylor who all lived in and around Blackheath, and Eve Leibe lived a little further away in St Mildred’s Road.

Note

Unless linked otherwise, the source for all the casualty information is the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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W J Scudamore – A Family Builder of Lee

While not quite on the scale of Cameron Corbett on the other side of the railway, the family builders WJ Scudamore and Sons have left a lasting impression on the urban landscape of Lee – many of the Edwardian and later roads were built by them.  The family retained connections in the area until at least the 1970s.  This post looks at both their lasting impact on the built environment, but also in tries to unpick some of their own story which is closely intertwined with their development of homes.

The firm appears to have been founded by William John Scudamore who was born in 1845 in Whitechapel – he married Harriet Stevenson in 1865 and together had eight children, only four of who lived beyond childhood.  The three surviving sons all became Directors of the firm – William John (1867), Cornelius (1871) and George (1873).

William (1845) was living in at 37 Henry Street in St George’s area of Borough in Southwark working as a blind maker in the 1871 census; a decade later, the family had moved to Bermondsey New Road where William (1845) was then listed as a furniture dealer.

William’s (1845) first wife Harriet died in 1896 and he married Elizabeth Drane in 1898, in Southwark. They had two further children – John William (1899) and Henry (1904) who were born in Catford and Lee respectively – as with the other sons, they were to become Directors of the family firm.

While there seems to be no reference to William (1845) in the 1891 census, it would seem likely that the building firm had already been set up – certainly, his son William (1867), who had married Annie Elizabeth Jackson the previous year, was listed as a builder living at 226 Old Kent Road – possibly for his father.

The first definite location in Lewisham that it is known that WJ Scudamore developed was on the site of the former Hope Cottage on Hither Green Lane.  The plot was about 5.5 acres in size and (1) saw the development of the shops fronting Hither Green Lane and the flats above them, along with Woodlands, Benin and Blashford Streets (2).   As can be seen from a newspaper advert further down the post, 1 Benin Street (below) was used for a while as the Estate Office.  It seems that this development predated adding the ‘Sons’ to the business as there were mentions of paying bills of £20 in 1898 and £6 11s 6d in 1899 for connection of sewers.

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By 1901, William (1845) had moved to the then suburbia of Catford and was living at 157 Brownhill Road, with his new wife.  His sons from the first marriage were all close by – William (1867) was living at 144 Laleham Road, Catford, and had a daughter, also Annie, who had been born in Southwark around 1894 and a son, also William John, born around 1897 in Catford.  His brother, Cornelius was living just around the corner at 45 Farley Road, like his brother he was listed as a builder in the census – although the family history notes that he was an ‘administrator and designer of the houses.’  The youngest brother, George, carried the same ‘trade’ in his census listing in 1901 and was a few minutes away from his brothers at 155 Hither Green Lane.

By 1906, the firm, now including the ‘Sons’  were at 13 Manor Lane, now 89/91 after Redruth Road became part of Manor Lane.  They were using it as an estate office for various developments in the area;  William (1867) seems to have lived there and had another son Harold who was born there.  It is on the corner of Manor Lane and Handen Road and is now a convenience store.  Given the similarity of some of the architectural details, it would not be surprising if the property was build by the Scudamores.

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There were advertisements in the London Press for four bedroom homes at rents of £40 a year (1).

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While it isn’t completely clear which houses these referred to, within a year or two they were advertising homes for sale on what they referred to as the Manor Park Estate (2).

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The Manor Park Estate would seem to include roads like Thornwood, Chalcroft (below) and Kellerton Roads along with parts of Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park – the last three were all to become home to family members once the building work was completed.

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In the same editions of the South London Press (3), they were also also letting homes in Benin Street and presumably above the neighbouring shops on Hither Green Lane.

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By 1911 the brothers were all living around Lee – Cornelius had moved  to Southbrook Road, William (1867) was at 89 Manor Park and George a few doors away at 127. Their father, William (1845) was living close by at 79 Micheldever Road.

By 1915, they were operating out of 412-414 Lee High Road – they used it both as an office as well as a store and workshop for making windows.  It is where Sainsbury’s is now – a couple of doors down from the Imperial Picture Palace and next door to the former Police Station, During that year they bought several pieces of land and buildings in Newstead Road although, while the Scudamore interest was noted as a builder this may have been completing transactions on work completed several years before – OS maps show Newstead Road being built around the mid-1890s.  Examples on the link are for 45, 47, 59 and 67 but there were several other similar transactions.

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Given the similarity of houses on the neighbouring Parkcroft Road (below) and St Mildred’s Road to houses they built in Manor Park and Chalcroft Road – it is likely that they are the work of W J Scudamore & Sons too.

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Newstead Road may have been the first development in the area as the history of the family name notes that the early approach to building was to lease plots on which he built houses.

Around this point William (1845) moved into a large house at 38 Manor Lane Terrace, with gardens and tennis court – it was the former Manor Farm – adjacent to homes that the firm had built and perhaps bought with the land for them.  The house was demolished, probably after Elizabeth died in the 1960s (William, 1845, had died in 1824), and is now part of Wolfram Close – probably a misspelled version of the name of last occupant of the Manor House (now library).

William (1867) and Annie moved to Baring Road (presumably built by the firm), and by 1928 had retired – they are recorded on a couple of passenger lists going to North Africa and listed as having  had no occupation.

The business seems to have been taken over by William John (1897) – the business, at least, was based at 1 Burnt Ash Hill, next to the station – convenient for sales to commuters.

In the  1920s and 1930s they were building some of the newer homes of Lee – including homes on what was then referred to as the Northbrook Estate, opposite the Northbrook Park on Baring Road (see picture below).  An advert offered the 3 bedroom homes at £725 for leasehold at £875 freehold – stressing the relative proximity of both Grove Park and Lee Stations.  It was almost certainly part of the land of College Farm, which Running Past will return to in the future.

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William John (1897) was also extending their area of operation – particularly into Bexley, during the mid to late 1930s they developed sites at

William John (1897) married Dora and had two sons and a daughter, William John who was born around 1923, he died training as a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment in 1942. Like many of the rest of the family they lived in a Scudamore house – they were listed in the 1939 Register as living at 2 Dallinger Road (below), development of that road had started in 1914 (6). The street was named after a scientist and Methodist minister, William Dallinger, who lived locally towards the end of his life.  It is on the corner of another street the firm built – Holme Lacey Road – which is a misspelled reference to the historic home of the Scudamores – Holme Lacy in Herefordshire – the development of that street was a lot later – around 1928 (7).

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Cornelius was listed as living at 156 Halfway Street in Sidcup on a passenger list to Brisbane in 1938, presumably to visits his son, also Cornelius, who emigrated to Australia.  He was listed as a Master Builder (Retired) at the same address in the 1939 Register.  He died in 1958 in Greenwich.   William (1867) seems to have come out of retirement as he was involved with the firm in 1939, living in a large house close to Sevenoaks – one of the other occupants was his son Harold, who was listed as a Scudamore Director.  William (1867) was to live until 1955.   George had retired by 1939 and was living in Footscray Road – he died in Bromley in 1950.

Nothing is known of what happened to the firm after World War 2 although they continued in business until 1966, when they were based in Holme Lacey Road – probably where Travis Perkins are now (2017) trading from.  The firm was voluntarily wound up on 18 July 1966 and a liquidator appointed – when William John (1897) would have been around 69 and was still Chairman of the business at the time of the winding up.  William John (1897) was to live until he was 90.

The excellent Edith’s Streets suggested that the name of and address  of W J Scudamore ‘appears on various drain inspection covers in the roads on the estate’  so obviously I went on a ferrous foray around the streets of Hither Green and Lee looking for evidence.  Alas, dear reader, I found no evidence of this in my traipsing of the tarmac – my time was not wasted though, I am now something of an expert on the work of C H Laud and Son and can correctly identify the ironwork of Mather and Smith Ltd. of Ashford at 20 paces.

Obviously, if your eagle eyes are more finely attuned to early 20th century drain metalwork and spot a “W J Scudamore”, please do let me know.

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Finally, a massive thank you to the various members of the Scudamore family (see comments below) who have helped with this post and enabled me to piece together strands that I had originally not been able to link together.

Notes

  1. Godfrey Smith (1997) Hither Green – The Forgotten Hamlet p35
  2. ibid p39
  3. London Daily News 28 June 1906 – there were several of the same adverts around then.
  4. South London Press South London Press 29 January 1909 – the same advertisement was used for several months.
  5. ibid
  6. Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names and Their Origins p17
  7. ibid p29

The elements of the family history have been gleaned from two sources – the census, shipping, marriage and related data came via Find My Past  with a lot also from the fascinating Scudamore Family history.

Graffiti Ancient and Modern

It may seem rather obvious, but not being able to run for a while has slowed my wanderings down a bit.  As a result, I noticed, for the first time, something on a footpath I have run along probably hundreds of times – some 18th century graffiti on a wall along St Margaret’s Passage.



St Margaret’s Passage was part of an old route from St Margaret’s Church and almost certainly northwards to Blackheath (the open space, not the ‘village’) via Love Lane, now Heath Lane, and Lee High Road.


The alley has gone through a variety of names – I have a series of Ordnance Survey maps referring to it over time by different names ‘The Arches’ (1863), ‘Church Passage’ (1894) and ‘Royal Oak Place’ (1914).  The change to ‘St Margaret’s Passage’ seems to have come around 1920.  

South of what is now Kingswood Place, the alley more or less followed the course of a field stream, which I called Annesley’s Stream, and still seems to be audible, if not visible, which flowed into the Looking Glass of Lee.  
Beyond the former Royal Oak, which was at the boundary of the Boone and Fludyer estates, the path presumably joined what is now Dacre Park to join Lee High Road – Lee Church Street wasn’t developed until the 1820s.

One of the reasons I have never noticed the graffiti is that they are around knee height – the ground level has presumably changed in the intervening 240 years.  When trying to find out a bit more about the graffiti I discovered that another blogger had noticed them too, the fantastic and inimitable Edith’s Streets blog – which is painstakingly documenting the history of London streets and buildings in Ordnance Survey grid square by grid square.  ‘Edith’ visited in 2010 and suggests that there was probably a stile into the field with which contains the present St Margaret’s church – the old was on the opposite side of the field in Belmont Hill. 

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Edith suggests that the ne’er-do-wells seemed to congregate around the likely stile and scratched dates and initials in to the wall belonging to the Fludyer estate.  The front of the house (generally now known as Dacre House) was around 100 metres away to the south-east and the wall would have offered some privacy.  

The requirement for privacy probably pre-dated the graffiti though.  By the 1770 the House was home to Lady Mary Jane Dacre (formerly Fludyer) and Lord Dacre, who died before his wife.  The following is a description of the area relating to that time (albeit written sometime later)

The whole of these beautiful views of Lady Dacre’s park and the Boone estate were open to the public gaze on all sides, either by low hawhaw fences or dwarf thorn hedges. 

However, the high walls and secluded environment for the graffiti artist remain and a metre above the 18th century graffiti is a late 20th or early 21st counterpart. 


‘Death by Falling from the Clouds’ in Lee

Burnt Ash Farm, which was around what is now the junction of St Mildred’s Road and Baring Road, has a somewhat odd historical claim in that it was the scene of the first fatal parachute jump.

Robert Cocking was a watercolour artist by trade, but had spent years attempting to develop a parachute and on 24 July 1837 its maiden flight was planned from Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, which by that stage had been re-badged the The Royal Vauxhall Gardens.

A lot was made of the launch – the public were allowed to inspect the 107 foot perimeter parachute, there were bands and an orchestra, and the parachute was to be launched from the Great Nassau balloon which was piloted by, perhaps, the best known balloonist of his generation – Charles Green.

It was planned to get the parachute to around 8,000 feet (about 2,400 metres), but the weight of the parachute with the basket below prevented this and at less than half this height Cocking was released from the balloon over Greenwich. The balloon, without the weight of Cocking’s contraption, rapidly ascended, however the parachute plummeted turning inside out and breaking apart before crash landing in Lee.

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John Chamberlain, a shepherd at Burnt Ash Farm was a witness to the crash and the events leading up to it with the rapidly falling parachute making a sound like ‘thunder’ and the sight of the the crash ‘quite turned him’. Others appeared on the scene quite quickly, including Richard Norman. the proprietor of Burnt Ash Farm, and the battered Cocking was taken to the previous incarnation of the (Old) Tiger’s Head, where he died soon after.  There have been suggestions that while those finding him were from Burnt Ash Farm, that he may have actually landed in a field of a neighbouring farm – Lee Green Farm (the story of the farm was covered in the blog in 2016).

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The original (Old) Tigers Head, built in the 1730s (1) and demolished in the early 1890s – from information board at Lee Green.

The detail of the post-mortem was published in The Lancet, which covered the horrendous extent of Cocking’s injuries in some detail. The Lancet though was damning of the enterprise, describing the parachute as a ‘suicidal machine’

The instrument of death was simply a canvas toy, constructed in ignorance, and used with the hardihood which might distinguish an unfortunate being who contemplated his own destruction by extraordinary and wonder exciting means ….

The inquest was held at the (Old) Tiger’s Head at Lee Green, the report in The Times noted that (2)

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These conclusions seems somewhat harsh, the paths trodden by pioneers of most means of transport were, and still are, fraught with danger. Cocking in trying and failing with an unusual design made it easier for those who came after to learn from his mistakes and was probably fully aware of the risks of failure.

It is worth noting a comment from the coroner about the innkeeper, Thomas Sears, who had charged sixpence to see the badly injured corpse of Robert Cocking’s body; the coroner found the scheme “deserving of peculiar censure and deprecation.” Some of Cocking’s clothing and pieces of the parachute also disappeared whilst in Sear’s charge (3).

Cocking was buried in the old St Margaret’s Lee Churchyard on Belmont Hill, close to the Astronomer Royal, Sir Edmund Halley – whose grave the blog visited a while ago, whilst following the Prime Meridian.

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The crash left Cocking’s family almost destitute as a ‘begging’ letter in The Times noted just after the inquest (4).

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Notes

  1. Kincaid, D (2001) ‘Lee Races’ Lewisham History Journal No 9
  2. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Jul 29, 1837; pg. 6; Issue 16481
  3. Kincaid op cit
  4.   The Times (London, England), Monday, Jul 31, 1837; pg. 4; Issue 16482

Lee Place – A Stately Home of Lee

Lee is now was very different to how it was in the past, that doesn’t make it that dissimilar to any other place in the country. What is really different is that it has moved. What is now regarded as Lee, the area around the station, and Burnt Ash Road/Hill is a mile away from its historic centres – Lee was previously three small settlements – on Belmont Hill, around Old Road and around Lee Green. Old Lee was a place for the rich, with some of the wealth having its origins in the slave trade and Deptford. There were several very large houses stretching from The Cedars on Belmont Hill in the north to the Manor House in the south – over time I will probably touch on all of them, but I will start with one that is no longer there – Lee Place.

There is a logic to this in that its disappearance helped shape the current development of the area in that it allowed the straightening of Lee High Road. There had been a large medieval moated farm, latterly known as Annesley’s House, located some distance away, to the north of the High Road – roughly where St Margaret’s Lee CoE School is now. This estate was fragmented in the early 17th century following the death of Brian Annesley. The end of his life, and his at least partial inspiration for King Lear, was covered a few months ago in the blog.

This fragmentation of the old estate seemed to allow the development of a series of slightly smaller merchant’s houses in the area. Lee Place was one of the first of this new generation of houses and was built in the early 17th century. It was located just to the rear of the western side of the current Bankwell Road (named after Lords of the Manor of Lee in 13th and 14th Centuries). Its grounds included an area largely bounded by the current Old Road, which then formed the main road from Eltham westwards towards London but included an area to the north of it as well. There was a partial moat, probably originally Annersley’s, and small lake just north of the current Lee High Road, behind the petrol station and Rambles bar. There will be another post on this in the New Year.

IMG_0323.JPG (Picture from information board opposite St Margaret’s Lee)

Relatively early in its history it was home to Christopher Boone, a wool merchant in London. His name lives on with the estate chapel that bears his name and was a mausoleum which was built in 1683 – more that sometime in the future. The main entrance to the estate was adjacent to the recently refurbished Boone’s chapel.

P1040595.JPG Other than Boone’s Chapel, the remaining sign of Lee Place is part of its boundary wall facing onto Old Road, it was the external wall for a now unused council depot, while old, it isn’t brickwork of any great beauty.

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Lee Place almost certainly not built by the Boones, the 1664 Hearth Tax listed it as being owned by George Thomson and having the most chimneys in the parish – 21.  He seems likely to have been the brother of Maurice Thomson – who lived nearby and was heavily involved in slavery, Running Past will return to him in the future.  Assuming it is the same family, George Thomson had been a member of the Long Parliament and was also heavily involved with slavery.

The Boone family lived in the Place for most of its life, after Christopher’s death the house was inherited by his son Thomas. It then passed to Thomas’ daughter in 1749 to live in until her death when it passed to Thomas’ nephew, Charles Boone. Around this period, the house was let to Thomas Lucas who went on to build The Manor House – which was completed in 1772. Charles moved into Lee Place in 1777, although by 1797, possibly earlier, he was letting it out to Benjamin Harrison, and then to Benjamin Aislabie (the Victorian street at the south east corner of the estate is named after him, albeit spelled ‘Aislibie’) for 14 years from 1809.

Charles died in 1819 and the end of the lease to Aislabie the estate was sold. The site seems to have been sub-divided, which led to its piecemeal development. The area to the north of what is now Lee High Road seem to have been the first to have been re-developed with Lee New Town – small terraced houses mainly for the ‘staff’ for the large houses. By the end of the century Booth described in the notes books for his poverty maps purple – ‘Mixed – Some comfortable others poor’

IMG_0569.JPG Turner Road (now Dacre Park) on the edge of the ‘New Town’ – from information board by Kingswood Hall Lee High Road was straightened soon after the sub-division of the estate, but the immediate grounds of Lee Place remained as small fields. There were some Victorian shops built along the straightened Lee High Road with a depot for the Cheisman’s store in Lewisham behind them on Old Road. The terraces of Bankwell Road and part of Old Road were built around 1907, and the long gone cinema Lee Picture House, on the corner of Lee High Road and Bankwell Road first opened its doors in 1910. The remainder of the northern side of Old Road and Lee High Road (Market Terrace) to the west of the cinema weren’t developed until the mid to late 1930s.