Tuesday 23 November 2010

The History of Albury Street, Deptford.

During my research of Deptford and in particular Albury Street I discovered a document in the Lewisham Local History archives. This document was the most in-depth paper of Albury Street I have ever come across. It’s a fascinating piece of painstaking research of the area carried out in meticulous detail. I was so intrigued by the information contained therein I decided to contact the author and seek his permission to reproduce it in its entirety.

Anthony Prosper Quiney is an architectural historian, writer and photographer who has lived in Blackheath for many years. Dr. Quiney is Professor Emeritus of Architectural History at the University of Greenwich, and a fellow (and former president) of the Society of Antiquaries of London. He has written many books and articles in his chosen subjects some of which are listed here.

Article in the Archaeological Journal, Vol. 136 (1979).
John Loughborough Pearson, 1979. ISBN 0300022530.
House and Home: History of the Small English House, 1986. ISBN 0563211334.
The English Country Town, 1987. ISBN 0500014051.
Period Houses, a guide to authentic architectural features, 1989. ISBN 0540011738.
Kent Houses: English Domestic Architecture, 1993. ISBN 1851491538.
Wall to Wall, An exploration of building materials and domestic architecture, 1994. ISBN 1860000134.
The Traditional Buildings of England, 1995. ISBN 0500276617
Panoramas of English Villages, with Nick Meers. 2000. ISBN 9781857999464.
England's Architectural Heritage, 2002. ISBN 1903807239.
Town Houses of Medieval Britain, 2004. ISBN 0300093853.
A Year in the Life of Greenwich Park, 2009. ISBN 071122871X.

I would like to thank Professor Anthony Quiney for allowing me to serialise his paper on Albury Street over the coming weeks. Part 1 will be posted soon..

Thursday 18 November 2010

Deptford Fairground/Boxing Booth.

As a child I can remember the fairground just up past the station. I know it had been there for years with thousands of people visiting the fair over the years. My grandfather, Jimmy White, was a regular at the boxing booth fighting at straw weight, a little heard of fighting weight nowadays. My uncles told me he was a devastating  little boxer who went on to become Southern Area Champion whilst serving in the army. One year he had ,so I'm told, 113 fights! The Mosleyites knew of him leading up to the war years and use to pitch many a fighter against him only to have seven barrels knock out them. This was verified not only by family members but also in another way. I and my brothers were attending a family funeral at Lewisham Way and after the service went to the pub on the junction of South St and Lewisham Way. I cant recall the name. There was an old gentleman sitting in there with his collie dog and he enquired who's funeral we had attended. We told him it was family. He asked if we were the White family from Albury Street, Deptford . We said yes and he to recounted the same boxing stories about our grandfather.

Joe Bowker

All for Two Shillings!..Went on then....Goes on now.

GODSELL George (61, horsekeeper), and STEVENS, Alfred (41, hawker), both unlawfully uttering counterfeit coin twice on the same day; both feloniously uttering counterfeit coin.

Mr. Holford Knight prosecuted.

Prisoners were tried on the second indictment.

HARRY NAPPER , barman, "Oxford Arms," Church Street, Deptford. On January 23 at 11 a.m. Stevens entered the saloon bar, Godsell entering the public bar. Stevens called for a drink, handed me bad florin (produced); I gave him in change one shilling, a sixpence, and four pence. Godsell paid 1d. for a drink. Prisoners remained four or five minutes. I tested the florin, found it bad, and spoke to my father, who is the licensee. Prisoners had then left.

WILLIAM GEORGE NAPPER , licensee, "Oxford Arms," corroborated. When prisoners left I went to the door and saw them talking together about 20 yards off. I spoke to the constable, we followed them and saw them enter another public-house, where I spoke to the landlady. They were then given into custody.

MARIA HARROLD , wife of George Harrold, licensee, "Plume of Feathers," Deptford Green. On January 23 Godsell came into my public bar, Stevens entering the saloon bar, called for a burton and bitter (2d.), tendering florin (produced); I gave him one shilling, sixpence, and four pennies in change, and put the florin on the shelf of the till. Shortly afterwards last witness came in and made a communication to me. I then tested the coin and found it bad. I handed it to a detective.

Police-constable WILLIAM BALL , 254 R. On January 23 at 11.20 W. G. Napper pointed out prisoners to me in Church Street, Deptford. We followed them. They entered a urinal; then Godsell entered the public bar of the "Plume of Feathers," followed by Napper: Stevens went into the saloon bar. Mrs. Harrold showed me bad florin (produced). I took the prisoners into custody. Godsell said, "I shall go quiet." Stevens said, "All right, I won't give you any trouble." They were searched. Ten shillings, 11 sixpences, and 3s. 4d. in bronze were found on them.

Detective ANGUS ROMFORD , R Division. On January 23 at 12.30 p.m. I went to the "Plume of Feathers," where Mrs. Harrold handed me coin (produced).

SIDNEY WILLIAM SMITH , Assistant Assayer, H.M. Mint. Two florins (produced) are counterfeit, both made from the same mould.

Verdict (both), Guilty. The other indictment was not proceeded with.

Godsell confessed to having been convicted at this Court on March 19, 1912, of uttering. Five other convictions, commencing January 13, 1896, for coining offences, including four years' penal servitude, were proved. Stevens confessed to having been convicted at this Court on January 7, 1908, of possession of a mould. Four other convictions of coining, commencing December 12, 1896, were proved.

Sentences (each): Five years' penal servitude.

Extracts from the records of the Old Bailey. February 1913.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Pie & Mash, Eels and Fruit Pies!

203 Deptford High St.

The Goddard’s Pie and Mash business was founded in 1890 by Alfred Goddard in Evelyn Street, Deptford, London. Alfred passed the business to his two sons in 1936. In 1952, another shop was opened in Greenwich at the same time as the Cutty Sark was placed in dry dock. For a time, pies were cooked in the Deptford shop and transported by van to Greenwich. After a couple of years the two brothers decided to take one shop each and our grandfather took the Greenwich shop while his brother remained in Deptford. In 1972, Bob and his wife decided to retire and passed the Pie House to his eldest son, Dave Goddard and his wife Pam. Dave and Pam worked hard to build up the business and extended the opening days to include Sundays. Dave and Pam introduced their sons Jeff and Kane to the business at a very early age. Both boys were working in the shop at the weekends from 10 years old. Sadly, in 1990, Dave Goddard suddenly passed away and the pie and mash shop was then managed by Jeff, Kane and Pam. The Pieshop in Greenwich was closed in November 2006 enabling Jeff and Kane to concentrate on providing pie and mash on a wholesale basis and for delivery.

338 Evelyn Street.

Thursday 11 November 2010

A Victorian London Diary.


Venue: Hale Street, Deptford, 30th January 1873.

SUPPER follows naturally on tea, and I may here relate my experiences of strange company, derived from my having on one occasion fallen among thieves.T The invitation ticket was neither elaborate nor imposing. It merely set forth, on three inches by one and a half of modest pasteboard, that on Monday, the 30th of January, at six o'clock in the evening, "Ned Wright" would give a supper to boys who had been convicted of felony.

Honest boys were ineligible. A sort of committee of investigation was instituted some days before, and each case was inquired into, so as to make quite sure that the applicant for a ticket was a genuine black sheep, and not a lamb in wolf's clothing. How necessary it was to take this precaution was proved by more than one barefaced fraud that was attempted. Hale's Street, Deptford, was to be the scene of the banquet, and that neighbourhood abounds with squalor and poverty, which may account for the many ingenious devices resorted to by really honest lads to pass themselves for the sake of a meal of soup and bread, as convicted thieves. One lad had been at the pains to get himself "coached" in the most elaborate manner. He laid claim to have "served" both in Maidstone gaol and the prison at Wandsworth, knew the names of the governors and of the chief warders, the peculiarities of the work, and the food, and all the rest of it. Even Mr. Edward Wright, despite his practical experience, was nearly taken in by the honest little villain, but on cross-examination a slip of the tongue betrayed him, and he slunk away shamefaced, and let us hope not with a stern determination to make his claims beyond dispute by the time the next felon's supper was announced.

Having been assured that the guests invited to the supper were to be bona fide thieves, I must confess that I went prepared to face some sort of danger. Just imagine, a hundred of the professed "dangerous class," the young of the tribe, to be sure, but none the less to be dreaded on that account. Five score of budding burglars! A hundred robbers in training, and with not even that care for their own safety that might be naturally expected in ruffians of experience. In the midst of them, with a decent hat on one's head, a coat worth a pound on one's back, and possible shillings in one's .pocket, and no police to protect you! Terrible, indeed, was the picture the excited imagination conjured up - marvellously flat, and poor, and commonplace was the reality.

Let the reader imagine a barn-like building with whitened walls, and rows of forms-schoolboys' desks - with nothing as yet more promising in view in the way of supper than several pyramids of enormous white basins at the further end, and a heap of tin spoons piled on a table. A few ladies and gentlemen - a dozen, may be - are talking here and there, quite free and fearlessly, while by twos and threes some small boys make their appearance and take their seats in front.

They make their appearance to the number of thirty, perhaps, and there is nothing either striking or picturesque about them; they are merely poor half-starved little wretches of the gutter, ranging in age from nine to thirteen. They are not in the least abashed. They talk and laugh, and criticise the ladies and gentlemen, and make jocular remarks concerning the spoons and basins.

"When do you expect the thieves?" I venture to enquire.

"These are thieves," is the answer. "You see the little ones are bolder than the big ones, and come earlier so as to get front seats and the first of the soup."

It was so hard to believe that I got into conversation with the children, and sure enough my informant was right. There was not one of them that had not "done his bit," as they said, and more than one had tasted prison fare and picked prison oakum on three distinct occasions. They did not evince the least shame in making confession - they seemed proud of it, rather; and one young gentleman, aged eleven, who, with a haughty twist of his side locks, announced that he had been "in" five times, was at once set down by a friend, who told him that he needn't make such a jaw about it, and to bear in mind that they wasn't all convictions, but two was "marnders" (remands), and that he was both times discharged at the second hearing. One little boy told me how that he had "done three months at Maidstone" for nailin' two glasses of sweetstuff out of a shop, and had treated his companions to a peep-show with the proceeds, and was vilely betrayed by one whom he had declined to treat, and was arrested with his eye at the peep-hole, and in the midst of his enjoyment of the thrilling spectacle of the murder of Mr. O'Conner by the Mannings.

After a little while other thieves arrived, and the room began to fill - older lads these last arrivals - some of them seventeen and eighteen, I dare say, but all of precisely the same type. Downcast, hungry-looking, woefully seedy-looking, poor fellows, lively only for a feeble attempt at devil-may-care, evidently got up for the occasion. All thieves, Mr. Wright himself assured me-lads who were in and out of prison constantly, and who yet were so "hard up" as to be glad to march in there, avowing their trade, and with their faces fully revealed in the gaslight, for the sake of securing a quart of soup! We are told that periodicals of the "Jack Sheppard" and "Boy Highwayman" school sell in hundreds of thousands weekly to the youth of the nation who unhesitatingly believe in the splendour and gallantry of the heroes therein described. What a memorable lesson for the money-wasting young stupid-heads, could they for half- an-hour have contemplated that poor ramshackle starveling crew who sat so patiently waiting for the white basins to be filled!

As I gazed on the ragged rows, one behind the other - on the heads that as yet were fiercely bristling in telltale token of the recently-applied gaol scissors, on heads to which oil had been bountifully applied, in the desperate endeavour to make the growing crop "lie down," like that of honest people, and on still other heads - these the vast majority - that were thatched with a towzled mat of what was hair, but which looked like tangled wisps of dirty felt - as I contemplated the array of pinched and poverty-stricken and pale and haggard faces so eloquent of intimate acquaintance with vice and misery in their worst forms - I could not but think how very much better off the entire company would be if one and all were arrested on the spot, and carried off to prison.

No wonder that the law's worst scourge for evil-doers has no terrors for such as these! I recollect some time since inspecting a great prison; it was evening time, and in the autumn. Along with others, the van had brought with that day's batch of convicted prisoners two lads of about thirteen and fifteen years old. Outside the cell door of each were the rags they wore at the time of their capture - their dirty, tattered jackets, their trousers of many patches, and their gaping, down-trodden old shoes - each lot in a sort of cabbage-net, all ready for depositing in the steam-purifying apparatus down below. Then the cell-doors were opened, and the legitimate owners of the woefully dilapidated suits were revealed no longer dirty. Each one had had his sousing and scrubbing in a plentiful bath of warm water; their faces yet glowed, and their ears were crimson and clean. The hammocks on which they reposed were scrupulously white, the rugs that covered them warm and comfortable, and the walls and ceiling and floor of their dungeon spotless and wholesome. The lads had partaken of supper, and knew for a certainty that a warm breakfast would be got ready for them next morning. It did not in their case - which was doubtless the case of at least fifty of the young thieves now before me - seem a bit like punishment and prison. It was more like coming "home" after a season of disheartening struggling and striving. As one turned from them, cuddled comfortable and clean under their rugs, and once more glanced at the poor rags and the old boots bundled up in the cabbage-net, one could not help reflecting, "Poor wretches ! it must be a desperately hard life while you are at liberty to pursue it; but, thank Heaven! you are here well provided for for a few months, at all events."

The thieves' supper itself was a decided success. When the three enormous tin holders, of the sort that milk is brought from the country in, made their appearance, one hungry roar made the roof ring, and there was no such things as pacifying the lads until their kindhearted, black-coated friends on the platform turned back their cuffs and applied themselves to filling the quart basins. The understood terms were a "tuck out," which in Hale's Street is short and simple language for as much as can be eaten. Enough was provided - thirty-five gallons - with bread enough to allow a full pound to each guest. Little thieves and big thieves ate with a ravenous relish that was at once gratifying and painful to behold. Two quart basinfuls were a common allowance - and at least half-a-dozen exceptionally long and narrow lads were pointed out to me as having emptied four basins. One quite forgot that they were thieves-they looked so thankful.

The supper, of course, was but a preliminary to the discourse that afterwards followed. To say the least, the strange audience received it in perfect good-humour and seriousness; and, when the question was put, Would they be willing to abandon their evil courses if they found the chance? up shot their assenting hands as though let loose by the pulling of a single string. And truly, when one saw what a poor miserable lot they were, is was not at all difficult to believe them sincere.

Extract from:





Sunday 24 October 2010

Deptford Station

File:London & Greenwich Railway Panel.JPG
File:Deptford station south entrance.JPG

Deptford is the oldest railway station in London. It is located in Deptford, London Borough of Lewisham, on the North Kent Line, about three miles from London Bridge station. The staggered platforms are on a high brick viaduct on which this line runs at this point, above High Street, Deptford.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Tuesday 19 October 2010

An Unknown Door In Albury Street

Another Drawing of Albury Street looking west by Geoffrey Fletcher 1975

First Door on the right No 29 Nan's House! At the end you can just make out the Electric Palace Theatre. When we were kids we use to get out of the dormer windows in the upper right side of the picture. Always in trouble we were. What this picture doesn't show is the lamp post which was outside the front door.

View of Evelyn Street 1890's

Building Layout Change from Union St to Albury Street



These two plan drawings show the different building/street layout from Union St. in the late 1890's to Albury St thereafter. In plan A the location of the Albany Institute can be seen at the East end next door the the Kings Head Public House situated on the corner of Church St. At the West end you can also see the Public House which was the King of Prussia pub once owned and run by John Gast. (See below) In plan B center bottom, you can see a building with a cross on it. Anyone who knows what this building was I would like to hear from you. I can remember the gap in this area as shown in plan A. Opposite the Albany Institute was a Hall. Can any one shed any light on this building?

John Gast (1772-1837) was a shipwright by trade who worked in the Deptford shipyards in south-east London (though he was also associated with neighbouring Rotherhithe, where he lived for a time at 14 Lucas Street), and an early trade unionist.Having unsuccessfully tried to found a labour organisation during the 1790s, he helped organise the 'Hearts of Oak Benefit Society' during a shipwrights' strike in 1802 and was advocating workers' rights in radical pamphlets such as Calumny Defeated, or A Complete Vindication of the Conduct of the Working Shipwrights, during the late Disputes with their Employers (1802). Having been involved with regional efforts to build trade unions (notably the Metropolitan Trades Committee), in 1822 Gast formed a 'Committee of the Useful Classes', sometimes described as an early national trades council, and in 1824 he was the first secretary of the 'Thames Shipwrights Provident Union'. Gast also promoted an inter-union organisation: 'The Philanthropic Hercules'. In 1825, the Combination Acts were repealed. Employers were furious and lobbied for the Acts’ restoration, prompting the emergence of workers' movements to resist such steps; Gast founded the first Trades Newspaper as part of this resistance. In 1836, Gast was a member of the London Working Men's Association, some of whose members drafted the core six points of the People's Charter (the principles at the heart of the Chartist movement).
He was also a dissenting preacher and ran the King of Prussia public house at 6 Union Street (now Albury Street), Deptford.

Thursday 30 September 2010

Ink Drawing By Geoffrey Fletcher of Albury Street 1950.

Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher was born in Bolton, Lancashire. He studied at Bolton School of Art before moving to London to study at the Slade under Randolph Schwabe and from this time London was to become one of Fletcher’s enduring interests and passions. In the 1950s his drawings began to appear in The Manchester Guardian and he contributed to the Sphere, recording old and changing London. In 1958 he was taken on by The Daily Telegraph and during the next 30 years hundreds of his drawings accompanied its diary column. In 1962 he published the first of 18 London oriented books:

Fletcher then produced a book called "The London Nobody Knows", which was accompanied by a documentary film and narrated by the famous actor James Mason. Fletcher was a great campaigner for the preservation of historic London. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists and New English Art Club. The Guildhall Art Gallery, who hold many of his works, held an exhibition of Geoffrey Fletcher’s City Sights in 2005. Geoffrey Fletcher died in 2004.

Friday 17 September 2010

Deptford High Street, North End Circa 1865.

This old photo shows the area where Evelyn Street on the left (out of view) crossed the end of Deptford High St to meet Wellington St (Flagons Row) on the right. Center, slightly right shows the entrance into Old King St which went into Watergate St at the far end. To the left we can see New King St. All this area was demolished to make way for Evelyn St to join up with Creek Road. I suppose around the right hand corner into Wellington St one would now find the Old Post Office which is still there, and across from that corner to the right of Old King St now standsDeptford Central Hall. The Harp of Erin must be in there somewhere as well?

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

Friday 27 August 2010

Historic Medal found after blaze in Albury Street, Deptford

Photo of the Queen Victoria Medal

This Deptford newspaper cutting tells of an historic medal that was found after a blaze at 40 Albury Street in the mid 60's. There is an error which states it was the reputed place where Lady Hamilton and Lord Neson stayed. This is incorrect, the actual place reputed was 34 Albury Street.


Deptford's Robinsons Flour Mill viewed from Church Street circa 1960's

This 60's photo shows the Oxford Arms viewed from Church Street heading South to Deptford Broadway. The old Robinson Flour Mill can be seen in the background.The old Tide mills were replaced by Robinson’s steam powered flour mill in the 1820s which was finally demolished after a fire in the 1970s.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

The North End of Church Street

This old Deptford photo taken by Thankful Sturdey shows the west end of Creek Road at the junction of Church Street and to the left you can just see the starting of Union Street (now Albury Street). This is the junction where Evelyn Street joined Creek Road after redevelopement of the area. At the far end of the photo is the Feathers Pub located at the junction of Wellington Street, Deptford Green and Hughes Fields. On the left half way up Church Street was Queens Street. On the left of the photo you can see a wall mounted gas light. I believe this is where the Kings Head Pub once stood. The 3rd house to the right of the corner was where the Three Compasses Pub stood.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

Saturday 7 August 2010

Ghost Story from Lower Deptford, at the Three Mariners

I was passed this old ghost story which was reported in 1673 about a haunting at the Three Mariners, located in Lower Depthford by the Kings Yard. Does anyone know where the Three Mariners was? 

A True Relation of a Ghost at Deptford.

It is a most strange and terrible, yet true relation of the apparition of a ghost of a woman that appeared in the place and time and manner as is herein most exactly described according to the report of the inhabitants and other persons belonging to the house wherein this strange and dreadful spirit hath been seen after this manner.

At the Three Mariners in Lower Depthford near the Kings Yard, at the house of Nicholas Broadway, on Tuesday the 3rd of April 1673, there appeared the ghost of a woman, of handsome comely stature. The first time it came to the three lodgers who were quartered in the house, persons belonging to the good ship called

the “Monck” the name of the first Peter Griffith, who asked the others when they were in bed together, if they saw anything? The Coxswain, Robert Predam, said “No”. The Cooks Mate, Stolliard, said I did see the strange ghost of a woman: Says Predam I wish I could see her too, and so he did to his great sorrow; for the next night he was taken in such a condition, that he frightened the whole family, falling into such a distraction, that five or six men were not able to hold him down: Upon that they did watch with him, causing Anne Lenaway a servant in the house to sit up with him, which she did accordingly and about the midtime of night , this John Stolliard got upon the bed, and lean’d upon him that was distracted, to hold him down, when suddenly appeared this ghost, and touched Stolliards face with her finger, which seemed to be very cold, and he was flung off the bed heels over head the length of two yards to the amazement of the spectators; upon which a Chyrurgeon (Surgeon) was sent for, one Mr Creamer, and he let him blood but he remains very ill distempered and looks very ghastly.

The fourth of April the woman of the house, Katherine Broaday, being in the lower room that was haunted, ironing of cloths at the long table, she passed from a chimney which was behind the woman and walked a gentle pace through the room, some 4 yards from her and then turned about and leaned herself against a post in the room, and looked very grimly upon her, which did so much affright her that she threw down her smoothing iron, and called to her husband for help; but he being as much affrighted with the apparition as she was, could no way contribute to he assistance.

Another time being the sixth April, she appeared twice to Katherine Broaday, once in a black hood, then in a white sheet; One of these times she appeared to Katherine a Mastiff dog of theirs in the house, came and crept at her feet, and lay there wining and crying as it were for shelter; upon which she called her husband, who came in with his hair standing upright, being so much amazed at the former apparition.

Another time this Anne Lenaway was washing of a room, she coming by as it were in a mist, caused the lights of two candles that were burning, to be almost extinguished, and burn blue, so that she could not find her way out of that room, till the candles burnt clear again of themselves.

She hath not as yet been seen but in two rooms, which are seated one over another; It is not known by any person she represents not the cause of it, neither hath she as yet made any further progress than that what I have here informed you withal; but as soon as I receive a further information, being encouraged in this with your kind acceptance, shall endeavour to oblige you further, by presenting to your view a full account of her future actions.

Therefore let this fearful president, as it hath been an unfeigned spectacle, so let it be your real example, and hereby so moderate your deeds and actions in this life, that hereafter, in the world to come, we may enjoy peace and rest to eternity, which God grant and I heartily wish to you all.


Tuesday 20 July 2010

A Haunting in Watergate Street.

Original report from The Woolich & Charlton Mercury - 3rd March 1994.
This report appeared in the Fortean Times. Thanks to Darren from the Paranormal Database website for sending it to me.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Watergate Street

King Street now Watergate Street was an ancient Deptford thoroughfare giving main access to the river. In the 17th and 18th centuries many of those inhabitants connected with its maritime industries, lived here in good houses such as this one No.17.(watercolour illustration by J.R. Llwyd Roberts.) It is similar to the surviving houses built in Albury Street by Thomas Lucas who also carried out building works in the adjacent Royal Dockyard from 1707. It was originally a part of a nearly continuous terrace of dwelling houses from the High Street (Deptford High St) to the Thames. In the mid 1920's the street had become a slum, and many of the houses had decaded and been demolished. Regeneration and new housing have now replaced those of the old street.

Watergate Steps leading down to the Thames.

Butchers Row at the river end of Watergate Street as it was named in the 1900's. It has now been renamed as Borthwick Street. The dark black gates at the bottom lefthand side is the location and entrance of the Shipwrights Palace. http://shipwrightspalace.blogspot.com/

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

Thursday 11 February 2010

Cellars & Tunnels under Deptford.

In the early part of 1978 a survey was carried out at the request of Nolans Clothes Shop, No 127, by the proprietor Mrs Order. The purpose was to examine alleged tunnels under the shop which ran east to deptford Creek, or a Pub, or the place of Nelson's assignations with Lady Hamilton in Albury Street. A trap door at the front of the shop gives access to a series of cellars under the whole building, some of which were blocked and one which had a barreled roof and could be the begining of a tunnel leading directly under the street.It was described as being about 6ft high, with a stone rubble floor. There was a rectangular manhole leading to sewers beneath which were said to flood. The tunnel terminated in a brick wall at approximately the edge of the outside pavement. The bricks were of mixed stock and red bricks, with no obvious signs of great age, and were probably contempoary with the building which seemed from map and visual evidence to be c. 1844-50, contempoary with the adjacent Catholic church. It was noted  there was nothing on site on the 1844 tithe map but earlier maps 1800-33 may show buildings but were to small a scale to be confirmed with any certainty. There was a similar tunnel which had been blocked more recently and was said to lead from the indentical adjacent shop. It was discovered to have been blocked by the owners of the shops across the street. The tunnel at No 127 seemed to be an extention of the cellars, and without pulling the wall down, there was no evidence of it going any further other than the edge of the pavement. If it did originally cross the street it would presumably join the cellars of the opposite shops. Does anyone know of underground tunnels in Deptford?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Photo taken soon after the Chapman Murders 34 Deptford High St.

I came across this old photo Of Chapmans Oil & Colour store located at 34 Deptford High St. This was the location of the murder committed by The Stratton Brothers who lived not far away in Deptford Broadway. The full story of the crime is listed below. This was the first case in history where the murderers were found guilty by fingerprints. The shop front hasn't changed much since.

Friday 5 February 2010

Old Deptford

Grinling Gibbons

The most famous English woodcarver of all time was born, oddly enough, not in England at all but in Rotterdam, in what is now Holland, in 1648. Grinling Gibbons did not set foot in the British Isles until sometime around 1670 or 1671.In those days a craftsman needed to be recognized and promoted by patrons to make his work widely known.
Gibbons was fortunate in that he was blessed with extraordinary talent in woodworking, and that his talent was recognized and promoted by a succession of patrons until he eventually came to the notice of Charles II.
Charles gave Gibbons commissions, as did William III and George I. Gibbons was also a favourite of the premier architect of the age, Christopher Wren. Wren called upon Gibbon to supply decorative carving for many of his country house commissions. The genius of Gibbons is not simply that he had a remarkable ability to mold and shape wood, but that he evolved a distinct style that was all his own. Working mostly in limewood, Gibbons' trademark was the cascade of fruit, leaves, flowers, foliage, fish, and birds. Such cascades could be applied to paneling, furniture, walls, or even chimneys. Perhaps to prove that he was not limited in his ability to the cascades, Gibbons produced a cravat made of limewood in a perfect imitation of Venetian needlepoint. The "cravat" was so lifelike that a foreign visitor was fooled into thinking it the standard dress of the English country gentleman! Horace Walpole, who is known to have later worn the cravat on at least one occasion, remarked in 1763, "There is no instance of man before Gibbons who gave to wood the loose and airy lightness of flowers". The cravat is now on display in the Chapel at Chatsworth, Derbyshire. Much of Gibbons work survives in isolated country houses, but Hampton Court Palace near London is blessed with an abundance of fine carvings by the Dutch-born master.
William III commissioned Gibbons to redecorate his State Apartments, and was so impressed by the result that in 1693 he gave Gibbons permission to use the title "Master Carver". Such carvings as the ones at Hampton Court are filled with symbolism which would have been apparent to an educated observer of the day, but which would escape most modern observers. Very often each object in the carving would have a particular meaning or reference to a classical Greek or Roman ideal or story. Some of Gibbons best work outside Hampton Court survives at Petworth House in Sussex, in particular a ceiling he designed for the Duke of Devonshire, and at Lyme Park and Dunham Massey in Cheshire, Belton House in Lincolnshire and Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire. Other fine examples of his work can be seen at Windsor, St Paul's, London. Also in London,, the font at All Hallows by the Tower church has a wooden cover carved by Gibbons in 1682. Grinling Gibbons work had an enormous influence of interior design and decor during the Golden Age of the English country house. Later craftsmen such as Thomas Chippendale are known to have been heavily influenced by his work. Grinling Gibbons died in 1720.

Information from Britain Express

St Nicholas Church, Deptford and a Ghost Story.

I recently visited the church of St Nicholas in Deptford. The first time I visited was somewhat unnerving as it was late, dark and a feeling of foreboding. This time, in daylight I was warmly greeted by the assistant curate who was very helpful to my request to take photos and learn a little more unknown history of this ancient monument. I was surprised to learn the church was completely destroyed by an incendiary bomb during World War 2 and remained derelict for some years becoming a dump and play area for children until it’s rebuilding in the late 1950’s. Many of its grave stones , plots, plaques and artefacts were destroyed or taken during those years with only fragments of architecture being recovered from the ruin. It also became a target of the V1 rockets one of which landed very close in the Royal Dock area. I believe this may be the one mentioned in  The Shipwrights Palace.blog.
Whilst taking pictures and talking to various people I approached a lady, who wishes to remain anonymous, and asked her about church’s history. It was then she told me a story which was quite unexpected. She told me of a witch who was homeless and was granted permission by the church to stay in a room in the tower, the oldest part of the church still standing. She then started to relate a very unnerving ghost story which she experienced and had never disclosed to anybody other than her partner and now me. Whilst carrying out her duties it was her responsibility to secure the church when her work was finished. This invariably took place when she was alone to lock up the church. She recounts that one evening she distinctly heard rapping’s coming from the tower area. This happened several times dispelling thoughts that it could be floorboards, doors creeking or some other rational explanation.. She experienced an  intense feeling of being watched. So intense was the feeling she stopped working and fled the building. It affected her so badly over the coming weeks that she did not want to return. When she did return she made sure it was always during daylight hours and since that date she always paces her work so she can leave when everyone else departs.the building. I could see that the experience unnerved her and still to this day stays with her .
Can anyone shed light on the witch in the tower story??  
Grinling Gibbons the master carver and his renowned  work "The Valley of Dry Bones" God breaths air into the bones of the departed to give them everlasting life.


Stone carving fragment fron the church interior.                                                                                                 

Balcony leading to the room in the tower.

Carving representing St Peter.

St Luke

Bell Tower.

A facinating place to visit.                                     

Wednesday 3 February 2010

A Front Room in Albury Street.

This photo dates from about 1911 and could be the interior of 29 Albury Street. This gentleman who ever he was looks in deep contemplation. How will I pay my rent this week?...... still ....got plenty of coal.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

More Goings On at 34 Albury Street

In September 1950 a Mrs Emily Wilcox rented No. 34 for 23s 9p per week and looked after 6 children in this 7 roomed house. She also encountered terrifying events for a number of years whilst at the property. My mother and Aunt Jeanie knew her well and were told on a number of occasions by her that the place was haunted. Mrs Wilcox use to hear quite distinctly footsteps going up and down the stairs when the place was empty, and once saw a shimmering white light on the first floor landing. Sash windows were constantly being flung open by themselves and more disturbing an apparition of a lady would appear quite unexpectedly. I quote, "she always wore a cloak and a wide brimmed hat" This apparition also appeared in other properties close by. The further you investigate and go back in time researching archives you discover many references to the fact that Lord Nelson stayed briefly at this property and would meet Lady Hamilton there. I believe this story was not invented to elevate the selling price of the property but I know was handed down word to mouth over the years to successive occupants. Could it be that the lady in the cloak and wide brimmed hat may of been this lady in the photograph....Emma Hart...later to become...Lady Hamilton?

Newspaper cutting "Ghost in a Cloak" September 1950

Friday 29 January 2010

Entrance hall of 29 Albury Street c.1911.

I can only remember this hallway with the woodwork painted in a light green/blue with the panel being wallpapered. To see it in the wood so to speak is amazing. The interiors were made of oak panelling with the bannister and rails expertly hand crafted. I can remember back in the late 1950's an american gentlemen visiting my grandmother and asking if he could purchase the whole staircase!! The door on the right was the entrance to the Front Room and was only used Saturday nights and all day Sunday's. Most of the living was done down the stairs and into the scullery/kitchen. The door on the left was the entrance to my grandmothers bedroom which also led to another bedroom annex to it. Gas mantles were still being used in the 50's. You can still see the mantle on the left upper of the front room door and the gas pipe connecting it.

Source: My thanks to the Lewisham Local Studies and Archives

Sunday 24 January 2010

A haunting at 34 Albury Street ...........Aunt Jeanies House.

Then (1935) and now (2010), end house, middle right

It wasn't until we left London in 1960 that my Mother told me of some unnerving events that took place during her courting days with my Father to be. My Mum would stay at our aunt Jeanies house, No. 34 Albury Street, on the condition, She slept with Jeanie in the attic bedroom. My Mum being from a very large family in Kent at the time thought nothing of it. That is until some strange events took place that truly terrified her! On her first night as she lay there half awake she heard a gentle but very solid "click" as she looked in the direction of the attic door that connected the two terraced houses, she saw it slowly start to open!  Terrified she nudged Jeanie who said " I know I see it as well...... it happens frequently" This would happen on a number of occasions to the point that my Mum avoided staying there when ever she could. The unwritten history of the house is that Lord Nelson stayed there on a number of occasions whilst waiting for a ship and also, I presume, for his assignations with Lady Emma Hamilton who it is said, stayed next door.  Whether this is who still haunts the place I cant say. I can also vaguely remember something else quite strange about the house and that was a grave stone embedded in the wall in the garden. Even back in the fifties the stone was illegible then. My brother carrying out more research on the house has found it was not just my Mum and Jeanie who have been terrified by the goings but also from subsequent people who have occupied the premises since.

Ghostly Goings On in Albury Street. Report in the Deptford Mercury dated March 1977

Incidentally the secret connecting doorways in the house, were  originally found by my father and uncle who, back in the late 1940's, were decorating the bedroom. My uncle said "Jim, can you hear voices". They removed layers of old wallpaper and found a door in the party wall. They opened it and found another door and a walkway which led to the house next door only a few feet in. On pushing it quite hard I might add, they found themselves in next doors bedroom/living room where two ladies, were drinking tea, looked at the pair of them .....totally aghast!!! 

Watch this space more stories to come.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Signed Indenture by William John Evelyn

Whilst researching Deptford I purchased an old indeture relating to the lease of numbers 26 & 27 Edwards Street, Deptford. It was only on closer examination that the owner of the properties was none other than William John Evelyn of Wotton, Surrey, a direct decendant of the famous diarist John Evelyn! The Lessee was Henry Wilson, Publican of the Prince of Wales Public House, 31 Blackfriars Road, Southwark. The lease was set to run for a term of 80 years from the 9th July 1864. Wonderful.

William John Evelyn

William John Evelyn from a portrait by Havell (1884)

William John Evelyn (27 July 1822 - 1908), a descendant of the diarist John Evelyn eldest son of George Evelyn and Mary Jane Massy Dawson. He had inherited the large Wotton estate in Surrey, and was often referred to locally as "the Squire" Went to Cheam School from 1835 until 1837 when he went to Rugby, and from there to Balliol College, Oxford where he obtained his Masters degree in 1844. He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Western Surrey at a by-election in 1849, and re-elected in 1852. He stood down at the next (1857) general election. He later returned to the House of Commons as Member for Deptford in 1885, resigning in 1888 by becoming Steward of the Manor of Northstead after falling out with his party as a result of events in Mitchelstown, Ireland where police shot on protestors and killed three people. Subsequently Lord Salisbury's government accepted the police version of events and refused to condemn their actions; Evelyn was horrified by this and resigned from parliament.[1] The by-election which followed would be contested by his good friend Wilfred Scawen Blunt from an Irish prison. Evelyn thoroughly disapproved of the Boer War, he considered it had been made in the interest of capitalists and that it was unjust and cruel. At the time this could have been thought unpatriotic of him. In 1869, on the closing of the Deptford Dockyard, he purchased back from the Government as much of the site of Sayes Court as was available and by 1876 was turning some of this into a recreation ground for his Deptford tenants In 1886 he dedicated an acre and a half of the Sayes Court recreation ground that he had created, in perpetuity to the public and a permanent provision was made for the Evelyn estate to cover the expense of maintenance and caretaking. In 1884 he sold land then being used as market gardens in Deptford, to the London County Council for less than it's market value, as well as paying £2000 towards the cost of its purchase. This was officially opened to the public as Deptford Park on 7th June 1897.

John Evelyn (31 October 162027 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist. Evelyn's diaries or memoirs are largely contemporaneous with those of the other noted diarist of the time, Samuel Pepys, and cast considerable light on the art, culture and politics of the time (he witnessed the deaths of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the last Great Plague of London, and the Great Fire of London in 1666). Over the years, Evelyn’s Diary has been over-shadowed by Pepys's chronicles of 17th-century life.Evelyn and Pepys corresponded frequently and much of this correspondence has been preserved.

Details from Wikipedia

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Peter Hahn,.... WW1 Spy caught at 201 Deptford High Streeet.

Quite early in the year it was discovered that some foreigner who could write fluent English was sending regular communications to one of these ad- dresses in a simple secret ink, and it was evident that he was the sort of person who would find out something which might at any time be of great use to the enemy. The letters were posted at various places in London, and there was no clue at all to the sender's address. Like all spies, he was continually demanding money, and it was hoped for some time that a remittance from Holland would disclose his identity, but in the end the denouement came about in quite another way. A letter was intercepted in the Censorship which disclosed secret writing. It was not in the usual hand, and the incriminatory words said that * C ' had gone to Newcastle, and that the writer was sending the communication ' from 20 1 ' instead. I remember very well the morning when this sentence was shown to me. The postmark was Deptford. ‘201 ' might or might not be the number of a house. We rang up Deptford Police Station and asked for a list of the streets in their area which ran to 201 houses. There was only one Deptford High Street and the occupant of that house had a German name, ' Peter Hahn, Baker and Confectioner No one was more surprised than the stout little baker when a taxi deposited a number of police officers at his door. He proved to be a British subject, and to have been resident in Deptford for some years. While he was being put into the cab a search was made of his premises, and in a back room the police found a complete outfit for secret writing neatly stowed away in a cardboard box. When seated in my armchair Hahn was not at all communicative. He professed to know nothing of * C,' and when further pressed he refused to answer any questions, but patient inquiry among his neighbours produced a witness who remembered that a tall Russian gentleman had been visiting Hahn at frequent intervals. His name was believed to be Muller, and his address a boarding-house in Bloomsbury. This limited the field of search. The register of every boarding-house was scrutinised, and within a few hours the police found the name of Muller; the landlady of the boarding-house confirmed the suggestion that he was a Russian, and said that he had lately gone to New-castle to see some friends. The search was then transferred to Newcastle, and within a few hours Muller was found, arrested, and brought to London. He was a tall, spare, worried-looking person, anxious only to have an opportunity of clearing himself. He had never seen Hahn; had never been in Germany, and could not even speak the language. For some time he adhered to the story that he was a Russian. An inquiry into his past showed that he was one of those cosmopolitan, roving Germans who are hotel-keepers in one place, commercial travellers in another. At some time they have all been motor-car agents and touts. He spoke English with scarcely any trace of a foreign accent. With his glib tongue he had gone through the usual spy routine of making love to impressionable young women, and winning acquaintance by the promise of partnership in profitable speculations. He had some claim for registering himself as a Russian, for he had been born in Libau and spoke Russian as well as Flemish, Dutch, French, German, and English. Hahn, on the other hand, was merely a tool. He had been born in Battersea, and was therefore a British subject. In 1913 he was a bankrupt with assets of 3 to meet liabilities of 1800. His object, no doubt, was purely mercenary. As a British subject he had the right to be tried by civil court, and therefore, as it was not desirable to have two trials, both he and Muller were indicted at the Old Bailey in May 1915. Both were found guilty of espionage. Muller was sentenced to death and Hahn to seven years' penal servitude on the ground that he had been acting under Miiller's influence. Muller appealed unsuccessfully against his sentence. On 22nd June 1915 in Upper Thames Street it was the luncheon hour, and a crowd formed immediately. A foreigner seated between two military policemen and going up the street towards the Tower was not lost on the crowd, which raised a cry of ' German spy! The cab broke down and ‘another taxi was quickly found, and the journey was resumed without further accident. The condemned man was highly strung, and he broke down on the night before his execution. On the following morning he pulled himself together, and insisted on passing gravely down the firing-party and shaking hands with each man. He was executed on June 23, 1915. The Germans did not hear of his death for some time, for letters containing remittances continued to be received.

Extract from the book "Queer People" by BASIL THOMSON