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.