Tag Archives: Northbrook School

VE Day in Lee and Hither Green

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

Credits and Thanks

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

The Three Schools of the Trinity

The new Trinity School on Taunton Road in Lee has an imposing presence, some suggest it is somewhat overbearing for the location within an area where Victorian terraces predominate.  Whatever, the current architectural merit of the school, the site has an interesting history – it is the third generation of schools to have been on the site – this post explores some of the history of its predecessors which were known as Hedgley Street and Northbrook.

When the Ordnance Survey cartographers surveyed the area in 1863, the site was part of the then extended grounds of the Manor House (1).  The beginnings of the first school were only a few years later – the first on-line mention of it seems to have been granting permission to the local builder John Pound, to ‘erect an infant school in Hedgley Street’ at Lee and Kidbrooke Board of Works meeting in July 1870 (1). John Pound has been covered a couple of times before in Running Past – both in relation to the large number of houses he built around Lee as well as a quartet of pubs.

The land appears to have been given by Lord Northbrook in 1871 (2) and was described as a

Piece of land situate in Hedgley Street, Lee, containing on the south 100 feet, on the north 129 feet, on the west 213 feet and on the east 255 feet or thereabouts ….to be used as a school for the education of the children of labouring and other poor persons of the parish of Lee.

The school itself didn’t open until 1884 (4) and was called Hedgley Street; whether the builder was Pound is unclear, by that stage he had scaled back his operations and was living in Dickens former home in Kent, then home to his daughter and her husband. The Head Teachers of the Junior Schools, either from their opening or certainly very soon after, were a George Bazeley and a Miss Young, with Miss Cripps being Head of the Infant School (5). The Junior School heads were to stay well into the new century. What is presumably the frontage onto Taunton Road is pictured below (6)

Like all the local schools children from Lee, the children from Hedgley Street will have celebrated Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 at The Cedars on Belmont Hill (7).  There was a similar celebration a decade later for the Diamond Jubilee – this time, it acted partially as a fundraiser for a new classroom at the school (8).

Press reports noted a successful inspection visit by Her Majesty’s Inspectors – an early Ofsted – it was noted that at the boys’ school, still under the stewardship of George Bazeley ‘scholars were well behaved and made good progress.’ The girls school the press report noted ‘fully maintained its reputation.’ (9)

The school started to receive London County Council (LCC) funding in 1903 and seems to have changed its name to Northbrook at around this point (10). Coming under the auspices of the LCC, higher standards of accommodation and facilities seem to have been expected. After a surveyors report in early1905, significant works were agreed by LCC Education Committee – including tarmacking the playground, provision of cloakrooms, a new hall, rebuilding offices (11).

However, the school clearly struggled to fund works required of them by the LCC – it had spent over £800 by the spring of the following year but hadn’t done work to heating and other works that would cost in total another £1200 (12).  In the end the governors had to take out a mortgage of £1000 to undertake work required by LCC (13).

During the Blitz the children were evacuated to Ashford in Kent. The boys (Junior) school was completely destroyed in a daytime raid in 1941 (14), while, as the maps  from pre-war and 1950 (15) show, the girls and infants schools survived, they were seriously damaged – marked beyond repair in the case of the Infants School at the rear in the LCC Bomb Damage Maps (16).

The school never re-assembled as a primary school. It was rebuilt as a secondary school, still named Northbrook. It was designed by Covell and Matthews and built by Unit Construction, as the photograph below shows (17).

It was officially opened by Princess Margaret in December 1957, although children had returned in the summer term of 1957 in ‘small numbers’ – a roll of just 151 with 7 teachers and 6 ‘clergy assistants’ when it first re-opened. It was planned to gradually increase numbers to full complement within 2 years. The funding was a mixture of LCC, local funding from churches and from the Diocese (18). The new school, just after completion is pictured below (19); a 6th form block was added in the following decades at the side of the building.

By the mid-1990s, the school was struggling; in 1995 only 5% of students achieved 5 A-C GCSEs – putting inside the bottom 30 schools in the country (20).  Later Ofsted reports  though, suggested some gradual improvement in the years afterwards.

The current school opened in January 2011, one of the many Building Schools for the Future funded programmes of the 1997 – 2010 Labour Government – it was officially opened in June 2011 by the then Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu along with Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander and the Right Reverend Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark.

There had been opposition about the scale of the development, which was much bigger than its predecessor and went up closer to the boundaries, the new building has a 77 per cent increase in building area and a 50 per cent building.  There were also concerns about the effective encroachment of the playground into Manor House Gardens.

 

Notes

  1. http://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453#
  2. 30 July 1870 – Kentish Independent – London, London, England
  3. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, Lee in 1956, p15
  4. ibid
  5. 01 July 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London
  6. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd op cit, p16
  7. 01 July 1887 – Kentish Mercury – London
  8. 02 July 1897 – Woolwich Gazette – London, London, England
  9. 15 March 1901 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  10. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p15
  11. 24 March 1905 Kentish Mercury
  12. 4 May 1906 Kentish Mercury
  13. 18 October 1907 – Kentish Mercury – London, London, England
  14. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p15
  15. The map images are on a Creative Commons Via National Library of Scotland, surveyed in 1914 and 1949 respectively http://maps.nls.uk/view/103313456 http://maps.nls.uk/view/102909226
  16. Laurence Ward (2015) The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, 1939-1945
  17. Booklet produced by Church of the Good Shepherd, op cit, p16
  18. ibid, p15
  19. ibid, p17
  20. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, November 21, 1995; pg. 2[S]; Issue 65430.

Thank you to the Reverend Shepherd of the Church of the Good Shepherd and Lewisham Archives for allowing me use the photographs of the bomb damage and temporary church (the three black and white photographs in the middle of the post) – they were part of the booklet noted above.