Monday 2 October 2023

Help for Tony



I read this morning, with great interest, your Old Deptford History, very good, so much information. My reason for looking on your site was because I am starting a novel which begins in Deptford High Street in the summer of 1914.

Why I am sure you ask am I starting my novel there. My mother and her family, of two sisters and four brothers, were born there, although I'm not sure if they were all born there certainly some of them where. 1921 was the year my mother was born there and many years before she passed in 1999 I took her back there. I still have relatives, a sister and now a son that lives in London so I have been a regular visitor over all of my life, indeed I worked there myself for several years.

On my visit back, and in previous family recollections, I learnt about Carrington House, the 'Doss house' it was called, and I learnt about the area and a specific part which I want to check my memory on. My mother said their two up two down terrace was in Speedwell Street.  I remember her taking me along the high street, through a passageway to an area behind the high street that was the terrace that they lived in. My grandparents only rented the top two rooms, there was a second family on the ground floor. I clearly remember being told by my mothers two older brothers that conditions where so cramped that they went next door to sleep.

The other memory I have, as I said if it is true, is that these terraces where opposite a high wall that had behind it an abattoir. I can , I am sure, remember my mother talking about hearing the cattle and the noise and smell. As the family grew they moved to a property in New Cross which was eventually bombed and a final move for the family to Woolwich road in Charlton. 

Could you, or your many subscribers, confirm if my memory is correct before I commit this to paper.

Kindest regards,


Last 4 houses left standing in Speedwell Street. 

Photo curtesy of Tony.
His facebook page is here

Memories all the way from Australia

 G'day from sunny Queensland.

I have just discovered your articles about old Deptford in SE London - fascinating.   I was actually searching for a 'doss house' there called Carrington House - now an unlikely upmarket  apartment building I understand - my interest being piqued by a recent TV programme..  

In the early '60s I was Public Health Inspector with Deptford Borough Council - as was - and was required to make occasional late-night inspections of Carrington House.   It was pretty eerie, walking - accompanied by a staff member, I recall - through dormitories with their serried ranks of beds each occupied by a sleeping male, but the odd thing was that it was pretty quiet and clean, and there were no nasty odours, as one may have expected.  

I also remember some of the nearby places and shops mentioned by other correspondents, such as the Noble's/ Nobels toy shop - bliss for youngsters - and a nearby cinema..

Prior to this time my family had moved into the brand-new Deloraine House council flats in Tanners Hill, and I went to the nearby primary school, Lucas St Primary.   After 12-plus exams I then went on to St Olave's Grammar School in nearby Rotherhithe (strangely, the sadistic Headmaster there was one Dr RC Carrington)..    

In time the family moved to the slightly greener pastures of Eltham, but I returned to Deptford in my early 20s to work as a PHI for the Council.  This job took me all over Deptford and New Cross - on foot of course - so I saw much of the place in those days.   It was very, very much lower working class, still with slums or near-slums commonplace, and not much of Merry England or 'homes fit for heroes' about it.   

Thank you for your very interesting Deptford posts, which I shall explore more closely now that I have found it.

Best regards..

Lawrence Watson  

Brisbane, Australia

Whitcher Street.

 Hi there,

I came across your blog whilst looking for information on Whitcher Street, which appears to have existed between the late 1940s to 1970 or thereabouts.

My father, Albert Eric Whitcher (8/7/1927-28/7/2023, native of Epsom, Surrey) had learned in the early 70s that the street was being redeveloped, and purchased the street sign from the council.

It was on display in my childhood home in Battle, East Sussex, and later my father's home in Bury, Lancashire, to which he retired (that's another story of it's own).  I also live in Bury.

I attach a few photographs.  You can see me, aged perhaps 4 or 5, standing next to the sign in the little photo.

My Father was cremated and his ashes interred at the family grave in Epsom on 22/9/23, and there was a family memorial meal.  One of the relatives present was my cousin, the son of Dad's youngest sister.  He and his Mum are Australian - they emigrated there some 55-60 years ago.

We had a family photo taken at Dad's memorial meal with the Whitcher St sign, and my cousin asked that if I was going to sell it, please could he have it for his Mum as a birthday gift.  I agreed, and today he's sent me a picture of his Mum and their family at her birthday, with the street sign.

We're curious to know anything we can about Whitcher St.  I did several searches and found that it had had prefabs after WW2, now demolished, and that it appears on an Ordnance Survey TQ map (1947-1964) held at the National Library of Scotland.

Geographically, it sat above Knoyle St, running between Sanford St and towards Woodpecker St, following the railway line.  Nowadays, the only allusion is to Whitcher Place, 0.2m further down on the end of Chubworthy St, and not actually located on the original Whitcher St at all.  The NLS website has a transparency feature overlaying the OS TQ map with a modern satellite view.

We would be very interested in anything you or your readers can tell us about how the street was named, built or designated.

Thank you very much, and my Lord Jesus bless you and yours,