Thursday, 11 February 2010

Cellars & Tunnels under Deptford.

In the early part of 1978 a survey was carried out at the request of Nolans Clothes Shop, No 127, by the proprietor Mrs Order. The purpose was to examine alleged tunnels under the shop which ran east to deptford Creek, or a Pub, or the place of Nelson's assignations with Lady Hamilton in Albury Street. A trap door at the front of the shop gives access to a series of cellars under the whole building, some of which were blocked and one which had a barreled roof and could be the begining of a tunnel leading directly under the street.It was described as being about 6ft high, with a stone rubble floor. There was a rectangular manhole leading to sewers beneath which were said to flood. The tunnel terminated in a brick wall at approximately the edge of the outside pavement. The bricks were of mixed stock and red bricks, with no obvious signs of great age, and were probably contempoary with the building which seemed from map and visual evidence to be c. 1844-50, contempoary with the adjacent Catholic church. It was noted  there was nothing on site on the 1844 tithe map but earlier maps 1800-33 may show buildings but were to small a scale to be confirmed with any certainty. There was a similar tunnel which had been blocked more recently and was said to lead from the indentical adjacent shop. It was discovered to have been blocked by the owners of the shops across the street. The tunnel at No 127 seemed to be an extention of the cellars, and without pulling the wall down, there was no evidence of it going any further other than the edge of the pavement. If it did originally cross the street it would presumably join the cellars of the opposite shops. Does anyone know of underground tunnels in Deptford?


Marmoset said...

Not really a tunnel or cellar reference but vaguely connected: where they are building the new Tidemill school on Giffen Street, the digging turned up what I took to be old well-heads (though they could, I suppose, have been chimney bases or kilns) in December 2009. I've no idea how long they had remained hidden but their exposure to the open was very brief - a matter of days. But it points towards how much history is hidden beneath us. There are some photos here:

Anonymous said...

Hi Marmoset< John here. I did study your pictures and being in the construction trade(44yrs bricklayer/mason)i studied them carefully. i tend to agree with you that they are old wells. A chimney base, or footing, would be quite substantial and spread out three or four times the area for stability. they look to me like old Kent hand made red stock bricks (London stocks were generally pale yellow) laid in lime mortar in a header bond which is typical of well construction. sometimes they would lay them dry (with out mortar). why they are grouped together like that is a little confusing. maybe part of an early industrial site. hope this may shed a little light on the subject :) J.

Anonymous said...

'Why they are grouped together'?
silly me!! if you know theres water there you would hardly dig somewhere else! J

Anonymous said...

I was searching for information on St.Nicholas Church,Deptford and found your Blog. My husband has told our kids wonderful stories of walking past the skulls when he was a boy.
I am creating a post for my blog and will be adding a link to yours. Will be in England this year. Plan on visiting St. Nicholas Church, taking our own pictures to share with the family.
I can't wait to show my husband your Blog. He was born at # 3 Watergate Street. What a treasure I have found. Thank You!

andy said...

Hi Anon,

Welcome and thanks for your comments on the site. I have some old photos of Watergate St and will be posting them shortly. I am between homes at the moment so I have restricted access to the internet so updates and input is a bit slow. When are you coming over to the UK to visit?


rgoshawk74 said...

just wanted to say how much i enjoyed this site. esp the old pic of union street, was like steping back in time, fantastic, iam looking for old pictures of deptford in the 50s 60s and 70s as i was born in frankham street in the early 60s and went to tidemill school, as i understand this street was originally called, regent street, would be great to see some pictures of this on the site. also looking forward to the watergate street pictures to be posted. as i understand, watergate street was the first ever street in deptford, and the gate was the only way into the area, at that time. and pictures of it are very rare. keep up the good work andy, this site is fantastic, kind regards, rob74

andy said...

Hi Rob74,

Thanks for your comments. Ive been a bit slow adding things to the site because of moving house and trying to get my storage device to work. It packed up with all my future Deptford stories etc. Hope to start adding again soon.

Best regards


andy said...

Hi Marmoset,

Your comments of wells. Whilst researching Albury St Part1 & 2 I found that Thomas Lucas the builder of Union St leased an area to construct Lime Kilns and Tiling Kilns. Could they be the footing of the kilns. I will do some mor research.


Deano said...

There are absolutely loads of tunnels in Deptford all going to the banks of the thames.

The tunnels are old smugglers tunnels. Most have been filled in or gone now.

There are some old maps of them, but i dont know where u can get them.

Anna G said...

Dose anyone have any old pick's of Strickland street.