Friday 26 March 2010

The Tunnel.

As a child growing up in and around London we used to visit my Grans house in Albury Street Deptford every weekend without fail I might add. We would spend the days playing on the cobbled street outside and also go exploring inside No 29. We would look for our Great Grans 'stash' which was said to be hidden somewhere on the property. We would go around tapping the wooden paneling and looking in the upright piano our Great Gran used to play but alas came up empty handed much to the amusement of the grown ups. One part we avoided was the, 'back cellar'. It had , shall we say, a certain 'feel' about it. My Mother avoided the area like the plague! , even in day light! The most unnerving thing was while everybody was upstairs in the front room/parlor watching Frankie Vaughan on the telly drinking R Whites cream soda one would have to go after holding it some time, trot down stairs to the outside dunny to have a pee. Well you could not switch a gas lamp on so the journey had to be done in pitch blackness after comming from the bright lights of the parlor. Passing the cellar area one almost never made it to the Lav!!. We use to hear talk about a tunnel in that area that my Father and his brother found and once explored, but if we were in earshot of the grown ups talking about this tunnel the conversation abruptly ended. It wasn't until much later in life that my Aunt told us about the escapade of theirs. On entering the said tunnel ,which was situated on the east wall I believe, it headed in the direction of Deptford Creek. So far into the tunnel they came across an old flintlock musket and various items of long ago. Heading further in along the ground started to get wet and eventually they hit a water line and could not go any further. I have always wondered what happened to the musket! The tunnel must still be there to this very day.

PS. Great Gran's Stash, was eventually found by my uncle taking a dump in the outside Lav. Whilst finishing up in pitch blackness he found, much to his dismay , no newspaper! On scanning the area for something to, err.. clean up with, he noticed tucked into the rafters a bundle of something . Casting personal hygiene to the wind he retrieved it and found it to be a bundle of old white fiver's!! Gran's Stash!! This probably went the same way as the musket, Hic!

Monday 8 March 2010

A possible link to 34 Albury St & Lord Nelson?

It has been handed down to successive occupants that Lord Nelson stayed at No. 34 Albury Street. Whilst researching this claim I discovered the following information regarding the connection of Lord Nelson and this property:
In 1913 the Deptford Fund Hospital for Sick Children was founded by Her Royal Highness, Princess Alice, the Countess of Athlone, (The Duchess of Albany's daughter). Two houses were purchased 34-36 Albury Street, (photo No. 36 Albury Atreet) just behind the Albany Institute. The hospital was to provide treatment for babies of Deptford and Greenwich area who were not eligible for treatment at other hospitals. In 1930 the whole building was flooded during a bad storm and the babies were hastily rescued from the building and taken into the institute. When they returned to the hospital, the top storey of the houses had to remain empty due to a lack of money to repair the storm damaged roof. Because of this in 1932 the Albany institute was forced to sell the houses together with, and I quote, "Nelson Relics". It appears that Nelson may have stayed at the house at times during the last 5 years of his life. To raise as much money as they could the Albany Institute sold the relics namely, the rear door of the property which was reported as being the Hatch Door from HMS Victory and a chain from the front door which it was said came from Nelson's own locker on the same ship. The Deptford Fund contemplated building a new hospital not far from the two houses near the institute but the authorities viewed the area as undesirable and said they would be far more readier to give financial help if the new hospital was built on a higher and healthier site within the borough. In 1933 the Deptford Fund Babies Hospital moved from Albury Street to 25 Breakspears Road Brockley.

Princess Alice Countess of Athlone has presented a site to the Deptford Fund for the purpose of extending the Hospital for Sick Babies. The gift is to serve the dual purpose .of commemorating Princess Alice's silver wedding and the foundation of the fund by her mother, the late Duchess of Albany.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives