Sunday 27 November 2011

Albury Street looking East. 1950's.

Here's a rare photo of Albury Street taken in the 1950's looking at the south side of the street from the direction of Deptford High Street. The square plain looking building just left of center use to be lodgings for the Macmillan nurses. The door way at ground level, just a square opening, use to belong to Pickford's removals. Just out of view on the right hand side was where the King of Prussia Public House use to be. As kids we use to stop and look through the boarding of the houses. Use to frighten the life out of us!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Church Street 1940's? House numbers 172 to 180

On the right of this photo is an ornate building which Michael thinks he identifies as the Unitarian Baptist Chapel.

Can anyone help confirm the identity of the building?

Friday 21 October 2011

The Druid.


Loyally and Lovingly Dedicated by Mil. Punch to  
H.RH. Princess Louise.

If there’s a spirit of the tree, as fair Greek fable tells.
And the green blood of the Dryad is the sap of acorn-bells,
Not death, but higher life, befalls the Nymphs of the oak-trees
That are squared and shaped, and set to frame the .ships that rule the
And they were not doleful Dryads, but exulting ones that spread
Their unseen wings for shelter of Louise's gracious head,
As she faced the nipping March wind, like a daughter of the sea,
To christen the last war-ship that from Deptford launched will be.
Lift high the wine, sweet Princess, and with blood-red baptism crown,
The bows, slow creeping streamwards, as the dog-shores are struckdown:
And, fit name for last heart of oak that from Deptford-slips shall glide, Bid " God speed" to The Druid, as she curt'sies to the tide.
"tis the last launch from Deptford: the old yard has had its day;
Times change and war-ships with them: oak yields to iron's sway:
There are wider slips and statelier sheds, and broader quays elsewhere,
And Wisdom says "concentrate," and Thrift says "save and spare."
Deptford is now a frowsy place, ill-smelling, dank and low,
Where muddy banks are eat away by a foul stream's festering flow:
Where low Vice haunts and flaunts, and flares, fed full on sailors' gains,
And threatening them with surer wreck than all lee-shores or mains.
But the Deptford that we look on, to whose yard we bid good bye,
Was once the Deptford, where, in pride. The Great Harry wont to lie;
Whore, lusty King to lordly ship, from his Greenwich palace near,
Bluff King Hal among his shipwrights showed broad breast and face
of cheer.
With delicate Anne Boleyn upon his brawny arm—
Lamb and Lion,—monarch's majesty, enhancing woman's charm—
To mark, well-pleased, how in his yard the work sped swift along,
From fair keel to tall top-side of swift pink and carrack strong.
And rapid ran the Ravensbourne, a cleanly country stream,
Glassing in its bright bosom, brave attire, and banners' gleam,
When, fene'd in tower of jewelled ruff and tun of pearled robe,
Came good Queen Bess to welcome Captain Drake from round the

'Twas in this very Deptford creek was drawn The Golden Hind,
Fragrant with spices of New Spain, rich with heap'd spoils of Ind,
As to bold Queen bold Buccaneer knelt on his own deck-board
Plain Captain Drake, and rose again Sir Francis from her sword.
'Twas in Deptford yard, from reign to reign, the Petts * their credit
won, Handing their craft of ship-builder from famous sire to son; To Deptford smug Sam Pepys took boat, in Charles's thriftless day, To note "how still our debts do grow, and our fleet do decay."
And hither, from the fair-trimmed yews and hollies of Sayes Court,
Came a burly, bull-necked Muscovite, for labour and disport;
Sturdy swinker, lusty drinker; king with king, and tar with tar,
The Northern Demiurgus, Russ Prometheus, Peter Tzar.
Richer in slips and stores and sheds, there be other yards, I trow,
But none more rich in memories. Old Deptford yard, than thou.
It was well done and worthily of a Princess fair and sweet,
To christen the last war-babe, born of thee into our fleet.
And may The Druid ne'er disgrace the parentage she'owns,
Or mar the glorious memories that spring from Deptford stones:
May she bear her worthy England, and the white hand that but now
Has dashed the wine of baptism upon her shapely bow!

• The Petts wore the hereditary ship-builders of the English navy from the days of James The FiRst to those of James The Second.

Thursday 20 October 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 7.

Thomas Lucas, the Deptford Bricklayer, emerges as considerably more than a local craftsman. He was a man of marked architectural sensibility, surprisingly ready to introduce innovations. It is no wonder that writers on architectural history have considered that, on stylistic grounds, Union Street dates from about 1725, a generation after the street was begun. Lucas was an architectural-entrepreneur, and as such, the prototype of the speculative builder who dominated the rest of the century and much of the next. Speculation in Lucas’s day involved more risk, and this makes it the more remarkable that so much of Union Street was completed. His roll was a double one in that he owned the land on which he built his street as well. In his later career, Thomas Lucas reverted to his original trade, being employed as a bricklayer by the Commission for Fifty New Churches.

This work began in 1713, when he was commanded to build a wall round the newly purchased site for St Paul’s, Deptford. The same month he was appointed ‘to do the bricklayer’s work’ for the church and prices and specifications were drawn up with Lucas providing the bricks. He immediately began by digging out the foundations for the church. In October the Commissioners ordered that ‘Mr Hawksmoor view and measure Mr Lucas’s brickwork at Deptford and report the value thereof’. The bricks do not appear to have met the Commissioners standards and a new contract was drawn up in 1714 with bricks now supplied by them.
St Georges in the Field
St Anne
Payments to Lucas exceeding £3000 were made by the Commissioners from 1713 until 1718 when, the brickwork of the church being completed, Lucas built a wall about the burial ground and built the Minister’s house, again to Archers design. He was paid £658 for the latter work. Lucas never worked on Thomas Archer’s other church, St John, Westminster, but he was employed by the Commissioners for part of the brickwork on St Anne, Limehouse,  St Georges-in-the-East, Wapping and Christchurch, Spitalfields, all of which were designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. At Spitalfields, not only was he employed in 1725-6 on Christ Church, but he also built the carcass of the Rectory, for which he was paid £298. The Thomas Lucas, bricklayer, described as of St Giles-in-the-Fields, and later as of St Andrew, Holborn, who built a few houses in Soho in the 1720’s and who became bankrupt in 1727 was someone else and conceivably his eldest son of the same name and who predeceased him. No other work by Lucas is known for certain and it is likely that he retired in 1726 to live his last ten years in Deptford in the house on the south-west corner of Union Street. Being ‘ancient and infirm in body’ he wrote his last will in February, 1734/5 and died in January 1735/6.

Part 7 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.    

Sunday 25 September 2011

Street Entrance to Landing 29 Albury Street 1956-7

Another photo discovered showing the entrance to No. 29 Albury Street taken around 1956-7. This must have been taken when we were growing up here but for the love of me I can't remember who took this photo. The original stairway shows the exceptional craftsmanship especially the "Barley Twist" Bannister rails. Top left hand doorway was to my Uncle France's room. France, as we knew him, was an incredible man. His life was filled with trauma yet he always managed to conceal his past. It was only in his later life that he would open up and mention his past experiences. In 1938-9 he was fighting for the Royalists in the Spanish Civil War. During this conflict close members of his family were shot but he managed to escape from Spain by swimming from the Spanish coast to Gibraltar, an extraordinary feat in its self. He came to England on a cargo boat which docked at Deptford. After walking the streets looking for shelter on a very wet and stormy night he knocked the door of No. 29. My Gran took pity on him a took him in. From that day forward he was always known as Uncle France to us. He was a very kind and gentle man. His eyes were always full of warmth and love. He had a way with songbirds, especially canaries. They would have no fear of him when he was in the aviary. They would all settle on him quite content to feed from his hand and lips. With hindsight he was just like Frances of Assisi I suppose. A wonderful man. I will never forget him.

Monday 5 September 2011

Sunday 4 September 2011

29 & 31 Albury Street. Taken Mid 1950's

Here's a picture of Albury Street that was sent to me last week. It's just as I remember it and indeed my nan must have been in residence then. We use to use the lamp post on the left of the photo as a wicket for our games of street cricket. The roof window is shown open and as kids we use to access the roof area without Nan, Grandad knowing.
Another observation...look closely at the original "Lions" head door-knocker on No. 29 (Left). This type of knocker has been reproduced many times but the original one as shown here weighed a ton and when struck sounded like thunder through the house!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 6.

At the time of his death, Thomas Lucas still owned the land although mortgaged on which thirty-one houses had been built. His requirements for capital had been so great that he commanded his executors to sell three houses on the North-side of the Union Street at its east end in order to repay mortgages on them and on his other property ‘as far as that is possible’. In the event, they were not able to repay all the mortgages immediately, and one, as has been said, was not paid until 1748.

With all the means at his disposal for raising capital, Thomas Lucas still did not complete Union Street with an unbroken terrace running down both sides of the street from end to end. Apart from at least one gap on the north side, the east end was taken up by back yards of houses fronting Church Street. Whether this failure to complete the two terraces was through lack of capital or because of the demand for houses of this type in Deptford had been satisfied by what Lucas had already built is not known.

How Thomas Lucas financed the development of Union Street is interesting in a wider context. It appears that prices fluctuated considerably as the example of the house built by Ryalls and Pearce and other later transactions show. These transaction affecting Union Street, and the way its builders were paid in materials purchased, provide examples of the results of an only partly accepted money economy. Capital had its value but commodities were as equally acceptable as cash for payment. Bricks had a more consistent value than money, which was often in short supply.

Although it seems that Union Street was not finished at its east end, it is of great significance both locally and more generally in the context of the whole of London. Almost certainly Union Street was the first newly-planned street of brick terrace houses built to an overall pattern and laid out as a speculative development in Deptford. Beforehand, only the larger individual houses there were brick built and most streets were lined with fairly haphazard rows of timber structures. Again, it is almost certain that there were no other developments similar to Union Street in Deptford during the first half of the eighteenth century, or ever again on a comparatively grand scale.

What Thomas Lucas built before Union Street is not known but he must have learnt his skills in the metropolis, not in Deptford. Terraced house planning had become standardised by the eighteenth century with two rooms to a floor, one at the back and one at the front with a staircase at one side. In Union Street all but the wider houses and a single smaller house had this plan. The front walls of the houses were built of ‘grey’ stocks enriched with bright red brick surrounds to the openings and this again was a feature of the metropolis.

The fronts were terminated by parapets capped in stone, not with wooden eaves cornices which survived well into the eighteenth century. They were prescribed by the Building Act of 1707, and though the act did not apply as far from the centre of London as Deptford, it is clear that whether Lucas began building in 1705 or 1707, by employing parapets, he brought to Deptford the newest building style. 

Building Act 1707. It was this pattern that fueled the Great Fire of London in 1666, which wiped out 80% of the city. That disaster led to the London Building Act of 1667, the first to provide for surveyors to enforce its regulations. It laid down that all houses were to be built in brick or stone. The number of storeys and width of walls were carefully specified. Streets should be wide enough to act as a fire break. This first Act applied to the walled City of London. The Building Acts of 1707 and 1709 extended that control to Westminster. They added a prohibition on timber cornices and required brick parapets to rise two and half feet above the garret floor. A comprehensive Act in 1774 covered the whole built-up area. Its detailed set of regulations included the stipulation that doors and windows should be recessed at least four inches from the front of the building.

Similarly with the windows: in Union Street, although some of the rear windows have original casements, the front windows seem always to have had sashes and these to were then a new fashion. The Heads to the basement and first floor windows are cambered. There are sound structural reasons for this where the basement is concerned but the reasons for using cambered heads to the upper storey is aesthetic: to provide variety from the ground storey windows which have straight heads. Cambered heads are a feature which became popular in the second decade of the eighteenth century, and as in his choice of sashes which again only became popular during the reign of Queen Anne, it is clear Thomas Lucas was fully conversant with the latest architectural style and was willing to apply in Deptford what one might have expected to see only in the City, Holborn and Westminster. Another building act, again only applying to the centre of London, was passed in 1709. It attacked flush frames and ruled that frames should be set back 4 inches behind the face of the brickwork. 

Pre 1709                Post 1709
 These regulations seem to have been less effective than the earlier one regulating cornices. It is not clear that the changes in style which took place in Queen Anne’s reign were so much the result of these acts as a result of a desire for aesthetic change. Lucas employed flush frames, which, on a flat wall, do not give so great an appearance of solidity as recessed frames. That aesthetic quality he achieved in a different way by providing recessed panels some six courses deep immediately below the sills of the windows on both storeys and again above heads of the windows of the upper storey extending ten courses right to the parapet, and he gave each house a blank window panel on the upper storey above the door opening.

So its front elevation was clearly divided by well articulated verticals and horizontals. The verticals edge in red brick marked the solid wall between the openings, and the horizontals marked the storey divisions. The fronts of the houses in Union Street are, in their modest way, Baroque in style rather than the Palladian of a later generation, where the brickwork is flat and the articulation achieved by recessed window openings of carefully graded heights to each storey.  This Baroque sensibility distinguishes the Union Street facades from these developed after the Great Fire which have flat walls of red brick, with squarer, casement windows, all dominated by heavy, and often luxuriously carved eaves cornices. In Union Street luxurious carving was reserved for the brackets of the door-hoods, which seem earlier in style than the houses to which they are attached.     

Part 6 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.   

Monday 22 August 2011

Queen Elizabeth 1 takes a fall on Drakes Ship

Extract taken from "The Secret History of His Majesty's Ship -Yard at Deptford" written 1717.

"And it is reported, that Queen Elizabeth much frequented Greenwich, and coming on Shore at Deptford to see a small Ship which was then siting for her Admiral Drake and in going on Board, the Provision which the Shipwright made for her Passage gave way, and had almost let the Queen fall at which she being more Angry than Surpriz'd, went away immediately to Greenwich"

Sunday 12 June 2011

A Deptford Volunteer 1798.

Painted by John Ashton 1798.
The Roman Eagle, Church Street. St Pauls can be seen in the background through the arch.

Friday 3 June 2011

Albury Street???

Does anyone recognise the location of this photo? I've been told that its location is at the junction of Deptford High Street and Albury Street and that the street sign does say Albury Street SE8 albeit this copy renders it indecipherable. I don't think it is but it could be the east end-joining Church Street and Creek Road. The Pub on the right could be the "Kings Head". The photo was described as pre-1918 but the car boot just showing at the right seems a later model than 1918. I was thinking about 1935 to 1940s Any suggestions would be welcome.