W J Scudamore seem to have been a medium-sized building firm working, initially, in and around Lee, Hither Green and later in more ‘suburban’ locations including Baring Road and later into Bexley. My interest in them is both in terms of their lasting impact on the urban environment, but also in trying to unpick some of their own story.
William John Scudamore the son of William and Harriet Scudamore, was born around 1867 and at the age of three was living at 37 Henry Street in St George’s area of Borough in Southwark – where his father was a blind maker. The family had moved to Bermondsey New Road by 1881 where his father was then listed as a furniture dealer.
By the 1891 census he was a builder living at 226 Old Kent Road and had married Annie Elizabeth Jackson the previous year, Annie hailed from Leeds. It isn’t clear whether he was working in his own right or for someone else at this stage. By 1901 he was in the, then, suburbia of 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.
By 1906 they were at 89/91 Manor Lane which they were using as estate office for various developments in the area; they 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.
By 1915 they were operating out of 412-414 Lee High Road, 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 his 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.
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. How long William (1867) lived after handing over the reins isn’t known. 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 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.
William John (1897) was also extending their area of operation – particularly into Bexley, during the mid to late 1930s they developed sites at
- Bladindon Road Bexley (1935);
- 10 houses in Bexley, Penhill Road (1935);
- Four houses, 128-134 The Drive, Bexley (1937)
- Plots 3 and 4, Buxton- Road, Erith, Kent (1938)
- 71 Park Crescent Erith 1938
William John (1897) married Dora and had at least one child, also William John who was born around 1923, he died training as a member of the Glider Pilot Regiment in 1942.
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 – possibly where Travis Perkins are now (2015) 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.
The fantastic 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.
All the census, shipping, marriage and related data came via Find My Past