Thursday 24 May 2012



Historical Deptford was divided into Upper Deptford (based around Deptford Broadway) and Lower Deptford based around St Nicholas' Church, Deptford Green (formerly Common land?) and Deptford Strand as seen on the 1623 map. Deptford was primarily a fishing village before King Henry VIII founded the Dockyard in 1513.

Church Street acted as a buffer between Lower Deptford and Upper Deptford, and was lined fairly well with properties when Butt Lane (later the High Street) was all but a bare trackway. The Green/Depford Green/Common (not to be confused with the area around St Johns also referred to as Deptford Common) had several alleys leading eastwards to Barnard's Dockyard (later used by the General Steam Navigation Company for ship repair).

Butcher Row (now Borthwick Street) led to Lower Watergate, Middle Watergate (known as Great Thames Street), and Upper Watergate. Straddling Lower and Middle Watergate was Little Thames Street AKA Lower Road. The circulation of these four streets appear to have formed the village nucleus. Unfortunately, just prior to the survey of the 1844 tithe map, most of these streets and buildings were suddenly swept away before they even had a chance to be recorded photographically. What happened was: in 1836 the Deptford Pier and Improvement Company proposed to have a railway connection from the nearly completed line to Greenwich as well as a scheme to develop the river front for passenger and commercial purposes. In the following year the Pier company had already begun purchasing premises in Thames Street, Deptford Green and Butcher Row. By 1841 they seemed to own all the area between Butcher Row and the Thames. In 1843, a legal case was lodged against the company, and the Deptford Pier junction was abandoned. The pier company were replaced by Timothy Tyrrell as owner of the Pier land, occupying a wharf and warehouse, and leasing out many other properties. Unless there's a mistake on the Tithe map it would seem almost all buildings north of Butcher Row were demolished in 1843/44. Certainly they were gone by the 1860s.

Coming from the direction of the Deptford manor house known as Sayes Court (formerly a castle?), Dog Street (known later as New Row then Dock Street/Prince Street) and the top end of Watergate Street (formerly known as Old King Street) also had properties. At the junction between them stood a gateway in Watergate Street, hence the name, which was captioned on the 1833 Cruchley map. The gate can be glimpsed to the extreme right in a photograph taken of the street.

In-between Watergate Street and Deptford Green was an empty field except for maybe the church burial ground until several north-south streets--laid sometime between the late 17th and early 18th centuries--filled the gap. The burial ground, if it even existed before, was maintained as a strip of land parallel to the new streets; from west to east they were named Rope Walk, New Street (extended before 1755), Frenches Field leading to Rumbolols Rope Walk (known as Black Field near the burial ground), and Hughes Field.

 To give you an idea of the many buildings lost in the former center of Lower Deptford during the early part of the Victorian era, here is a directory of trades and industries (not including the many wharves) taken from the 1834 Pigot directory unless otherwise stated; I think its safe to say that the taverns and public houses, here in the heart of historical Deptford closest to the Thames, would have been frequented more by the many sailors, mariners and seamen than in any other part of the village:

Deptford Green

The George (before 1804)
Earl of Romney (John Dickenson 1839)
White Hart (John Hawkins 1839)
Plume of Feathers (Jo Topliffe Knnipple 1839)
Lion & Lamb (John Grix)
School/Academy (Adams, John Williams)
Baker (Lancaster, Joseph)
Engineer (Gordons and Co. and shipsmiths & ironfounders)
Marine Stores-Dealer (Johnson, John)
Plumbers/Painter/Glazier (Harrison and Son)
Shipbuilder (Barnard, Francis and Son)
Lower Watergate
Sir John Falstaff Public House (John Beswell)
Coal Merchant (Wells, Hesketh Davis)
Junk Merchant (Wells, Hesketh Davis)
Timber Merchant (W H Davis)

Butcher Row

Gun Tavern (possibly Henry Mears 1804)
Blue Bell (William Collier 1834, Christopher William Collier 1839)
Ship Chester (James West)
Three Tuns (William Shirley 1834, Elizabeth Shirley 1839)
Carpenter (Deane, Anthony F)
Marine Stores-Dealer (Townsend, John)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Fowles, John)
Thames Street (Little and Great?)
Earl of Romney (John Dickenson 1834)
Marquis of Granby (Ann H, J Bear 1834 Rate)
Royal Ann (no occupier 1834)
Star & Garter (William Francis 1834, William Francis 1839)
Chemist Manufacturing (Leesom, Henry Beaumont)
Coal Merchant (Mussett, Robert and Co.)
Junk Merchant (Mussett, James & Robert)
Marine Stores-Dealer (Godwin, John)
Marine Stores-Dealer (Morris, William)
Steam Miller (Powell, Francis)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Beiderbeck, Betsey)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Doyle, Peter)
Smith (Hughesdon, William)
Ship Chandler (Thomas G)

King Street (Upper Watergate?)

Fox (Thomas Hunt 1834, Joseph Hunt 1839)
Brazier/Tin-Plate Worker (Seager, Thomas)
Bricklayer (Smith, James)
Grocers/Tea Dealer (Bensted, Elizabeth)
Snack? Proprieter (M., John)

Old King Street

Red Lion Inn (Samuel Edwards 1834, Samuel Edwards 1839)
Bull and Butcher (William ? 1834, William Williams 1839)
Fishing Smack (Jason Moreland 1834, Tim Riordan 1839)
Freemasons' Arms (James William ? 1834, William Batch 1839)
Red Cow (John Fester 1834, Kenneth Philpott 1839)
Rose & Crown (Samuel M)
School/Academy (Kemp, William)
Baker (Bradbrook, Harriet)
Brazier/Tin-Plate Worker (Matthews, Richard)
Butcher (Scott, William)
Butcher (S*lmes, Jeremiah)
Cooper (Jacob Powling)
Furniture Broker (Scruton, John)
Grocers/Tea Dealer (Prudence, Thomas)
Hat Manufacturer/Hatter (Hyman, William)
Lighterman (Riddall, William)
Plumbers/Painter/Glazier (Berry, Arthur)
Mathmematics Teacher (Stoole, Jason)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Anderson, William)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Slone, Thomas David)
Shopkeeper/Groceries and Sundries Dealer (Waikman, Mary)
Slopseller (Barnard, Esther)
Slopseller (Chapman, Edmund)
Slopseller (Gibeon, Robert)
Timber Dealer (Poole, James)
Tobacco Pipe Maker (Gosling, William)



1623 Deptford map
18th Century Deptford Strand map "Controller Bridge House Plan 57A"
1745 Rocque map
1755 Milne map
1833 Cruchley map
1834 Pigot directory
1839 Pigot directory
1844 Tithe map
1868 Os map
White, Ken (1997). The Deptford Pier and Riverside.

Other rate books (at Lewisham Local Studies) and directories may shed further light on the above:

1784 Bailey
1793-1798 Universal British Directory
1799 Holden
1801 Holden (supplement to 1799 or 1800 reprint)
1802 Holden
1803 Finch (Kent; main towns only)
1803 Holden
1804 Holden (supplement to 1803)
1805 Holden
1805 Holden (supplement to previous edition)
1808 Finch (Kent; main towns only)
1808 Holden
1809 Holden
1810 Holden
1811 Holden
1812 Holden
1813 Holden
1814-1815 Holden
1816 Underhill / Holden (London and 480 towns) at Guildhall Library
1817 Underhill / Holden
1822 Pigot London and Provincial
1822 Underhill / Holden
1823 Pigot London and Provincial (revised in 1824 and then in 1825)
1826 Pigot London and Provincial (re-printed in 1827 and then in 1828)
1827 Pigot Metropolitan (re-printed in 1828)
1830 Clayton
1832 Pigot London and Provincial (revised twice in 1833 for 1834)
1836 Pigot London Alphabetical… (revised with a supplement in 1837 and 1838)
1838 Robson Home Counties (19th edition in strong room at Guildhall Library)
1839/1840 Pigot
1845 Post Office Home Counties (Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex)
1846 Kelly (Kent) at Bexley Library
184 Post Office London and Nine Counties at British Library
1847 Bagshaw
1847 Post Office Hampshire with Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex
1850 Williams (Kent and Surrey; main towns only)
1851 Mason (Greenwich and Blackheath)
1851 Post Office Home Counties (Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex)
1852 Archdeacon (Greenwich, Woolwich incl. Deptford, Blackheath, Lewisham…)
1852 Bass (Deptford incl. Blackheath, Lee, Lewisham and Sydenham)
1855 Post Office Home Counties (Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex)
1857/1858 Meville (Kent)
1859 Post Office (Kent)
1859 Post Office Home Counties (Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex)
1860 Post Office London Suburban
1862 Post Office Home Counties (Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex)
1863 Post Office London Suburban

A great piece of research by Giles Gaffney. Hopefully more to come



The Grim Reaper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Grim Reaper said...

"Dog Street (known later as New Row then Dock Street/Prince Street) and the top end of Watergate Street (formerly known as Old King Street) also had properties."

Dog or Dogg Street was a small turning or Alley off of King Street. The name was corrupted to Dock Street. New Row was a new road from what is now Evelyn triangle to the western end of Dock Street. When London Postal Areas were created names were changed so that there were not two roads in the same area with the same name. Both roads became Prince Street.

What is the basis for you asserting the existence of 'Upper' and 'Lower' Deptford?

Since when is a road leading between two points a 'buffer'?

The reason why the area around the three watergates ceased to be a commercial centre is simply because it was quicker and easier to travel between Deptford and London by train. The changes you refer to were the result of change, not the cause.

Andy said...

Hi Bill,

The only reference I can find which may assert the existance of Lower Deptford is and extract from "The general gazetteer or compendious geographical dictionary"
By Richard Brookes. 1812.

He says
Deptford, a town in Kent,considerable for its fine docks and Kings storehouses. It was anciently called Deptford Strond, or West Greenwich. It is now divided into Upper and Lower Deptford and has two parish churches but no market.

Unknown said...

Thanks to Bill for the additional info about the name changes for those streets.

Thanks to Andy for his source on Upper and Lower Deptford. I had only heard it second hand through Jess Steele and John Coulter's publications.

Apologies if you don't like my choice of words, but coming from an IT background, "buffer" to me emphasises the link and separation of the two districts all the more better.

The buildings between Butcher Row and Thames Street did disappear just after the arrival of the railway, true, though I personally don't believe there's a connection between these events for the following reasons:
1) The railway was built further south outside the Deptford Strand area and did not demand the demolition of any Thames side buildings due to it's own construction.
2) An additional railway line was proposed to link the Thames with the new Deptford station, but it did not materialise, so again there was no reason to demolish the buildings.
3) No new housing/commercial shop developments replaced the buildings; there was no such regeneration of the Deptford Strand area to attract people there by way of the new railway, etc.
4) I believe the buildings were demolished because of the Pier company and their scheme, only to end up being replaced by large buildings of an industrial nature.

Incidentally, Jess Steele's book makes no mention of Buther Row/Thames Street and there are no illustrations of their many establishments, so the emphasis of my short article is simply to bring these lost buildings/streets to the attention of locals/enthusiasts. Similarly, the Medieval/Tudor streets of Greenwich closest to the Thames are not mentioned by name or building in Greenwich and Blackheath Past by Felix Barker (The Victorian public house known as The Ship is the oldest mentioned in that area). Looking at the Deptford estate map of 1623 (not published in Jess Steele's book), those streets stand out like a sore thumb and should not be ignored as they would have no doubt formed an integral part of Deptford's long history. Further research is needed...

The Grim Reaper said...


Richard Brookes's 1812 gazetteer purports to encompass the "known world" and as such was somewhat over ambitious and in the case of Deptford mistaken.

"The buildings between Butcher Row and Thames Street did disappear just after the arrival of the railway, true, though I personally don't believe there's a connection between these events"

The area around the Watergates had been such a busy commercial centre for centuries because of the footfall of people travelling between Deptford and London by boat. With the coming of the railway the riverside would have suffered a drastic reduction in footfall so it was simply no longer a good business location.

shipwright's palace said...

A few thoughts....
A wonderful piece of work!
The railway spur project from the Butt Lane/High Street station to the Thames at Deptford Pier IS the work of the Deptford Pier Company. See
This plan demonstrates precisely the intention, and perhaps the occurrence of the demolition of riverside buildings and the erasure of the streets. Work was begun on the Pier project (see my article on John Penn's/Payne's Wharf where the 1838 wharf wall is constructed and as I claim in the blog, the facade of Payne's wharf is likely to be proved to be the work of George Landmann.
From John Herapath November 28th 1836,
"In consequence of the number of persons going to the Steam vessels and back again we have a little railway of 750 yards at our terminus in Deptford to the Deptford Pier which is now in execution..." (Herapath 1836:271) The same magazine reports the passing of a bill in the Lords for the railway to convey passengers from London Bridge to Deptford Pier in fifteen minutes "and the pool and its dangers and delays avoided." (Herapath 1836:192) "The first iron pile was driven in the presence of all the directors and it was hoped the whole would be complete in eight months.(Herapath 1836:238)
Therefore, rather than be in decline the area was set to become even busier than prior to the Pier project with the arrival of steamboat passengers disembarking at Deptford.
Also, Com.s Kildare shown on the re-draft of the 1623 map, could this be the former residence of Lord Howard of Effingham, the house that reputedly (Dews?) became Gun House? there is a family connection with the Howard name and Kildare through a daughter's marriage. The house was also hard by the lower watergate.

Deptford Pudding said...

Thanks to Giles and Andy for publishing this, can we have more please?!

shipwright's palace said...

a little more....

It was the temporary closure of the Royal Dockyard that caused the desolation of the are rather than the coming of the railway. An account at the time "Observations on the Pier and Improvements now executing at Deptford" states "rows of houses are untenanted", there is "decay and abandonment". Deptford Pier proposes wholesale clearance of these uninhabited dwellings to build warehousing and hotels for their prospective steam passengers as well as "handsome and convenient avenues to the Pier. An extensive promenade will make it the healthful resort of Deptford and its neighbourhood" and "a line of good family houses will be built facing the Pier and by removal of properties to form approaches extensive frontages will be procured calculated to yield most productive returns to the company."

By November 1835 Deptford Pier Junction Railway occupied the land between Lower and Middle Watergate and was bordered by the limit of Thames Street (Lower Thames Street). At this time all properties on this parcel of land appear to have been demolished. By 1839 Deptford Pier has extended its occupation as far as Upper Watergate, though may not have possession of Bridge House Estates land employed for the ferry crossing at Upper Watergate, nor small plots facing Butcher Row including the Three Tuns Public House. It appears that Middle Watergate disappeared at this time (1839).

Bevo123 said...

Can anyone fill in the gaps where i have put (something) in this enumerator's description of an 1841 census for Deptford? This area looks like pat of Upper Deptford.

Sounder (or something similar) Hill South Side from and including Marshalls Pottery to (something something) and including New Cross Inn, south side of Upper road from and including the Marquis of Granby to the Broadway. North side of Upper road from and including the Chemists Shop at the corner of High Street to and including Simpsons at New Cross, Waterloo Place and (something) Row.

The Grim Reaper said...


Superindent Registrar's District - Greenwich
Registrar's District - St Paul's Deptford
No. of Enumeration District - 16

Counter Hill South Side from & including Marshalls Pottery to, but not including New Cross Inn, south side of Upper road from & including the 'Marquis of Granby' to the Broadway. North side of Upper road from & including the Chemists Shop at the Corner of High Street to & including Simpson's at New Cross, Waterloo Place & Well's Row.

Bevo123 said...

Thanks so much Bill. Your website is wonderful. My ancestors were in that census. He was John Ware who was publican of the Fountain in Amwell street in the 1830s and apparently also for the Lord Duncan 1841 according to other details we have. This census doesn't mention the Lord Duncan but it does mention the New Cross Inn. Do you know anything about these two inns/taverns?

Mary said...

I picked up - and commented -- on a different web site about the connections being made with George Landmann and Payne's Wharf. I wondered if there were any more thoughts on that. I did a lot of work on Landmann years ago but rather gave up through lack of material. His antecedents and work were entirely military and I tried to draw some parallels between his work on the Greenwich Railway and his father's work - his father trained under Vauban and taught fortification at the RMA (he is probably very interesting, but French, or something). A couple of years ago I walked the length of George Landmann's other railway - to Fleetwood on the Fylde Peninsula. It is entirely flat - no arches at all that I could see. I did however toy with the idea that he might have worked with Decimus Burton - again no evidence! Would be interested though if anyone thinks that there might be some links here that I have missed. Landmann was an interesting man and I have a lot of material which it would be a pity not to write up.

MARY said...

And - if anyone sees this - I am totally confused by the older history of Borthwick Street and Deptford Green. I made what I could of it in two articles for Greenwich Weekender and fudged over the bits I didn't understand. I am now writing it up as an academiky article - or series of articles - for IA Journal . I am keeping it to bare minimum text and lots of references to authorities - but Skinners Place? .... Effingham? .... Hasted?? Help! this needs to be correct.

Gosterwood said...


Does anyone know the location of the bar/house in which Christopher Marlowe was killed?

The coroners report says Deptford Strand, although it in not clear whether this is a road or a general area.


Unknown said...

I am looking for 16 Friendly Street (home to my Bracegirdle ancestors until the 1860's)and how to define it using the early maps. Although there is currently a house numbered 16 it would appear to have been renumbered perhaps after George Street was renamed and became part of the original Friendly Street. What was the numbering system previously was it odds one side evens the other?

Ted Hughes said...

Hi, I can remember reading tat King Alfred built boats at Deptford. Can anyone confirm. I know more than 1200 boats were built later in Deptford and I am very disturb we here nothing of this in history lessons today and that it is now run by Lewisham, should have retained the name Deptfordit has a "golden history" but a "dirty reputation" but loved by many.Ted Hughes.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever heard, "matilda cottages"? Trying to locate, and believed to be close to Deptford Green. Thanjs
Mid 1800's