Tag Archives: Manor Park

Following the Quaggy – Manor Park to the Ravensbourne

We left the Quaggy just outside Manor Park having seen the park’s rejuvenation  from one of Lewisham’s worst bits of open space to one of its best, before that Running Past had followed the Quaggy from its sources around Locksbottom; then on through Petts Wood, the Hawkwood Estate, Chislehurst and Bickley, through the golf courses of Sundridge Park and on to Chinbrook Meadows; through the concrete and countryside of Mottingham; and then on through the playing fields and parkland of Sutcliffe Park and the Lee/Blackheath borders.
We left the river at an old crossing, although relatively new bridge that formed part of Hocum Pocum Lane; we continue along the Lane although it is now referred to as Weardale Road.  Unusually, it is visible for a short stretch as the western side of Weardale Road remains undeveloped, in spring it is a riot of colour from the plants that have colonised the banks.  The bridge is a great place for seeing the iridescent blue blur of the kingfisher – often sighted almost skimming the surface of the water, with occasional sightings of egrets and herons fishing in the shallows.
After 100 metres or so It bends sharply to the left, on the bend, in a tight triangular site, is almost certainly the finest modern building on the Quaggy – 22 Weardale Road – designed by and Anglo-Dutch architectural practice 31/44.
A little further on is the Rose of Lee pub, latterly called the Dirty South although it has gone through several names in the last 25 years.  It opened around 1900 and, perhaps, it’s greatest claim to fame was that it was the first venue that Kate Bush played.  It suffered damage and looting during the 2011 riots that spread across numerous locations in London in early August, it looked as though it was to become another lost Lewisham pub.  There were occasional signs of life and a few drinkers during 2016, but it took until 2017 to have a major revamp and re-open as the Dirty South in late October 2017.
Around here the Quaggy was once joined by Mid Kid Brook which used to flow  more or less alongside Lee High Road from close to Lee Green, its former valley is clear in places.  However, it was diverted to follow Lee Road to Lee Green, probably around the early 18th century.
The river is bridged by Eastdown Park, a bridge that was partially destroyed in a flooding in 1878 in an era when flooding seemed more common.
On the west side of f the Eastdown Park bridge (to the left of the photograph) is currently Penfolds garage – the remaining part of a company that used to have three bases locally, including taking over Lee Picture Palace as a car showroom in the 1970s. The usage of the site, which used to be home to a Baptist Chapel (below – source eBay April 2016), is about to change again – this time to flats.
The river follows a tight channel, built on both sides, occasionally over it – such as by KwikFit. The banks had been almost rural on the south-eastern side of until the College Park Estate in the late 1860s as the map below shows (on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland).
By the next bridge, over Clarendon Rise, is without a doubt the most attractive riverside building on The Quaggy, a Hindu Temple, the London Sivan Kovil.  In September each year it is the venue for probably the most stunningly beautiful site in Lewisham – the Chariot Festival.
Attempts continue to be made either side of the Clarendon Road bridge to slow down flows through artificial meanders, while this allows some of the normal fluvial erosion and depositions on rivers in their natural state and thus will help a little with plant growth, it will be of little use in high flows though.
Soon after Clarendon Rise, just behind Lewis Grove, the Quaggy is covered at what used to be known as Lee Bridge.  Like much of the area upstream this too was liable to flooding – on an earlier Facebook thread on the river further upstream there were stories of what was then the Midland Bank (postcard from eBay September 2016) flooding in and notes floating around the flooded basement of the bank.
Historically, flooding was very common around Lee Bridge, this 1968 photograph, outside the Odeon (formerly Gaumont) Cinema commonly shown in relation to Lewisham flooding will probably relate to both the Quaggy and  Ravensbourne though – see comments below.
The extent of the covering of the Quaggy has varied over time, the recent development of the police station offered an opportunity to extend its visibility but it wasn’t taken and there is less of the Quaggy open now than there was a century ago as the postcard below shows (source – eBay February 2016).
The river currently re-emerges in front of St Stephen’s church, having first been joined by Upper Kid Brook. There used to be two arms to the Quaggy at this point – one by the former Roebuck pub, the second by the former Plough as the map below shows ( (Image on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland). Both pubs disappeared in the early 2000s, as part of the redevelopment of Lewisham town centre.
The river broadly follows the course by the former Plough Bridge (left photo above) but at the time of writing, the confluence with the Ravensbourne is hidden in the middle of the Lewisham Gateway development which has rendered the area around the station almost unrecognisable.  Eventually, the confluence with the Ravensbourne will be in a small park, Confluence Place, but it may be a wait until the reality is anywhere near the architect’s impression.
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Following the Quaggy – Lee Green to Hocum Pocum Lane

We left the Quaggy close to Lee Green with a Lewisham Natureman stag ‘grazing’ by the outflow of Mid Kid Brook, before that Running Past has followed the Quaggy from its sources around Locksbottom; then on through Petts Wood, the Hawkwood Estate, Chislehurst and Bickley, through the golf courses of Sundridge Park and on to Chinbrook Meadows; through the concrete and countryside of Mottingham; and latterly through the playing fields and parkland of Sutcliffe Park and the Lee/Blackheath borders.

The river changes here; gone now are the almost bucolic feel of the river through the playing fields and parkland in the section of the river from Sutcliffe Park to Lee Green. The Quaggy is now very much an urban river, with building up to the banks and the route downstream for the fluvial flâneur often parallel with the river only visible on bridges.

Riverside pubs have been conspicuous by their absence so far, but are a much more regular feature as we follow the last mile or so of the course.  The Old Tiger’s Head, 50 metres or so away from the river, was the base for the mid 1840s horse racing of the Lee Races. Lee Green was still rural then, complete with a green, a windmill and a farm – Lee Green Farm. The pub was very different then, being rebuilt in the 1890s, as the picture above from an information board at Lee Green shows.
The Quaggy squeezes between some 1990s flats and a plot of land that was Victorian housing and will presumably be returned to housing again; it was latterly the showroom of Penfolds Vauxhall dealers, after they moved from the former Lee Picture Palace on the corner of Bankwell Road.  The river, for a short period, is again banked and bedded in concrete – little is able to grow but that didn’t stop a few optimistic sticklebacks from attempting to eke out an existence in a hostile environment (below, top left) when I did the research for the post.

The Quaggy emerges out into the open at what used to be called Lee Green Bridge and the first proper riverside pub, the Duke of Edinburgh, still serving and with a pleasant garden at the rear.  The pub dates from around 1871 when the landlord, a Mr W Baker, took over licence of the Black Horse, which was a short-lived ‘beer house’ that may have been on the same site (1)

The river forms the rear boundary between homes in Lampmead and Brightfield Roads – the former named after a field. The course wasn’t always thus, the Quaggy originally took a course further to the north touching the southern end of what is now Lenham Road.  The differences are clear between the 1863 (top map below) and 1893 visits of the Ordnance Survey Cartographers (maps on a Creative Commons via National Library of Scotland). The effective development of Lampmead required the straightening of the river, following what was previously a path behind the houses of Robertson Street, which was to become Brightfield Road at around the same time.  The curved building (above, top right and bottom) hugs the banks of the river.
The Quaggy is bridged by the dog-leg of Brightfield Road before tumbling down into Manor House Gardens.  The Gardens are one of Lewisham’s flagship parks and were the grounds to a large house built and maintained from the proceeds of slavery until bought by the London County Council as a library and park in 1902.

Source – eBay Feb 2016

The Quaggy seems to have originally fed the small lake although is now at a much lower level.  It is bridged a couple of times within the park, both having been the venues for generations of Pooh Sticks, no doubt played before the game was named in the 1920s by A A Milne.
The river has natural earth banks topped with a dense tree canopy throughout its 400 metres or so through the park, during the summer the river is heavily shaded.  The steep banks make the river relatively inaccessible through the park.
Flowing out of Manor House Gardens, the river crosses Manor Lane, an old farm track and again forms a boundary – between the WJ Scudamore homes of Thornwood Road, a Lewisham Council sheltered scheme off Manor Lane and later more Scudamore homes on Manor Park.  This was a largely rural area until Hither Green station was build in the 1890s, there was a junction there from the 1860s, as the 1870 map below  on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland) shows. This part of Lee was still used for market gardening, mainly run from Manor Farm, until the Scudamores built homes of what was marketed as the Manor Park Estate..
Over the other side of Manor Park the river turns almost 90 degrees, to flow between more gardens, between Manor Park and Longhurst Road, briefly visible by peering around a bridge on one side of Staplehurst Road – close to the shops posted about earlier in 2017.  Just before the bridge the river is joined by one of its tributaries, Hither Green Ditch (Quaggy Hither Green).
The river continues northwards, squeezing between the gardens of Manor Park (the street) and the northern end of Longhurst Road before opening out into Manor Park (the park rather than the street).  The park’s rejuvenation has been covered before in Running Past, the former small pig farm has gone from one of Lewisham’s worst bits of open space to one of its best.  The Park has become a community hub – centred around the Arts Cafe.  The river itself is used much more – including the annual Quaggy Duck Race and the Float Your Boats event in June 2017, pictured below.
The Quaggy itself while having a ‘natural’ feel at the end of the back gardens of Leahurst Road, was concrete encased and hidden from the park on  the opposite bank.   Flooding used to be common in this area – in the mid-1960s, the then MP for the area Chris Chataway described residents as living ‘in fear of this wretched stream.
At the edge of the Park, there is a bridge – while the structure is a new one, the crossing an old one – it was the final section of Hocum Pocum Lane – an ancient path from Lee High Road to St Mary’s Church, and possibly beyond.
We’ll leave the Quaggy here for its final section to its confluence with the Ravensbourne in Lewisham.
Notes
  1. Ken White (1992) ‘The Public Houses of Lee and Lewisham’ Part 6a, p134

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.

Parklife – Manor Park

Parks of various shapes and sizes are so important to the urban runner, they allow us to get us away from the roads and run without fumes and without the disruption of rhythm and pace from crossing roads. Virtually all my day time runs involve plenty of parkland; so for a blog on running and local history, it seems like an obvious subject matter.

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Manor Park is not the obvious place to start though; it is a narrow strip, around 400 metres long and 50 wide flanked by The Quaggy and the large Victorian houses of the eponymous Manor Park. It isn’t even a park with a long history its usage as a public open space only going back to the mid 1960s on the site of a former pig-farm and bomb damaged house.

It is a pleasant calm, green space which is well used, although not overused, with colour coordinated planting and a path alongside the river which I use 2 or 3 times a week.

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It used to be so very different – it fitted much of Will Self’s antithesis of what a park should be like

In the playground the swings stand like gibbets, a few lengths of chain dangling from their rusty crossbars. The rubberised flooring – beloved of some safety-conscious bureaucrat – has long since been eroded by the scuffing of many thousands of feet, exposing the concrete and clay of the urban bedrock…

It was a park that oozed neglect, the paths were rutted and required care when running across, poor grounds maintenance had allowed Japanese knotweed to take over in places and The Quaggy was encased in a concrete channel which was a barrier rather a natural resource and seemed largely devoid of birdlife. There had been an aviary in Manor Park in a building that pre-dated the park as late as the early 1990s, but it was abandoned following a fire and the corners of its brick building, to which the path hugged, provided uncertainty for the unwary runner.

From mid-morning the main park users seemed to be the ne’er-do-wells who used to congregate in the remains of the playground. I have been threatened when running in the pre-restoration Manor Park almost as many times as every other location combined. All this, along with unpredictable opening times and haphazard decisions as to whether to open a gate at both ends of the park or just one meant that I gave up on Manor Park for years.

It was also a park that lived under the shadow of another older, bigger local park – Manor House Gardens, with which it is sometimes confused. The size of the shadow increased in 2000 when the Heritage Lottery Funded restoration of Manor House Gardens was completed.

Manor Park had to wait for its upgrade until 2007 with funding from the same source as well from the Environment Agency as part of a major scheme to reduce the flood risk posed by the Quaggy. The banks of the river have been opened up, wildflower meadows created, the ‘gibbets’ have been replaced with a larger and improved play area, and a third entrance with a new bridge over the Quaggy has been created. Birdlife has returned to the river and I have seen the iridescent blur of blue and orange of the kingfisher flashing above the surface of the Quaggy.

With CCTV and a much greater park-keeper presence, it has become a much safer environment for the runner, and everyone else for that matter.

2015 has seen park usage increase considerably with opening in the spring of  the Lewisham Arts Cafe, run by by local artists Banu and Fred Schmid, the park has become a focus for a wonderful array of arts based activities.

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