Friday 4 March 2011


Daisy's War

When the blitz started when we were living in a terraced house in Greenfield St. in Deptford, and we had to have an Anderson Shelter built in the garden. The workmen brought it and they dug the hole and installed the shelter. Half of it was above the ground, but the floor was about four feet below ground. They fitted some benches, which were most uncomfortable, and water seeped in from the ground making it soaking wet most of the time, but we slept down there nearly every night throughout the blitz in 1940-41. At one time we didn’t even wait for the air raid sirens to go off because the raids were nearly every night.

There were an awful lot of houses damaged, and many of those that were not flattened had to be demolished because they were unsafe. When we went up the high street in the morning after a raid there were plenty of shops that had been hit and the big factory where they made parts for fire engines, was destroyed. The Surrey Docks were not far away, and one night they were badly hit. We could see the sky all red from the fires. My brother, Stan, had a friend who was in the auxiliary fire brigade and he got killed that night on the docks. It was very sad - his mother had already lost her other two sons and her husband to tuberculosis. On Blackheath, outside Greenwich Park gates, there used to be a huge hollow where the fair was set up every bank holiday. During the war they filled it right up with the rubble of the buildings that were destroyed, and now that part of the heath is flat.

Most of the raids were after dark. We didn’t always go down the shelters, but it was so tiring if the air raid warning went in the night. We three girls slept in one room downstairs. I was always on the end and I had to go tearing up the stairs to wake my father up and tell him that the alarm had gone, because he was deaf and didn’t hear the siren. Then we’d all go down the shelter. It was horrible to be woken like that night after night, and really tiring. We had a dog at the time and he soon learned what the sirens meant. For daytime raids, as soon as the back door was opened he ran out to be the first one down, and at night he slept there. Sometimes he took his bone down and woke us up gnawing away at it. Then we’d kick him to make him leave the bone alone.

The worst period was during the blitz, which lasted for 6 or 9 months overall. As the Battle of Britain went on the RAF knocked a lot of the bombers out of the sky, and then things were a bit better. On Blackheath there was a huge anti-aircraft gun called Big Bertha, which used to belt out at night, with batteries of searchlights trying to pick out the bombers. The searchlights all over the sky at night were spectacular to watch, until the sirens went: then we ducked down into the shelter. My father was usually the last one down, as he was deaf and stayed outside looking up at the sky, oblivious to the shrapnel falling all around and hitting the shelter roof. We had to shout at him to come down in case he got a lump of it on his head. I suppose quite a few people must have got killed with shrapnel.

The Air Raid Wardens were very hot on lights, and we dared not have even a streak of light showing through the curtains. Even outside there were no lights: patrolling wardens would shout “Put that fag out” if we so much as struck a match. We were allowed to use torches, but we had to be sure they were directed towards the ground. When we went out it was pitch black at night, all the lights were off and you had to have a torch in the winter.

Despite the bombing and the blackout we still went out in the evening during the war. We went up the West End sometimes on the Underground, where people spent the night if they had no air raid shelter. I first saw “Gone with the Wind" in the West End. If the air raid sirens went off while we were in the cinema the film just carried on -we never left. Strangely enough we weren’t frightened; maybe a bit wary, but not really frightened. Sometimes you could hear the bombs going off outside, but after a while we ignored it, more or less. We had guns from the cowboys going off inside and bombs going off on the outside. A lot of people got killed that way, especially in night clubs, by not leaving during the air raids.

If we were caught in the street during a raid, it was a different matter – we ran for the nearest shelter. We always ran for cover if we were outside. In Deptford High Street there was a bomb shelter under a big shop- Burton’s, a clothing shop. Everyone out in the High Street when the sirens went off ran for that, and stayed down there until the “all clear” sounded. Most of the raids were at night, and in the morning on the way to work we could see what the bombs had done . The did a lot of damage - knocked down buildings, shops and everything, but Burton’s was never knocked down. There were some American troops in the area and they used to help with clearing up the bomb damage. By the time the war ended most streets around Deptford and Lewisham had buildings missing where the bombs had landed. It was amazing really that we came through it all. I’ve heard it said that the people who stayed at home suffered worse that the men who were in the army in some areas. The civilians took the brunt of it all.

Towards the end of the war my Aunt Martha moved to Adolphus Street, and there was an empty house next door and this one had 3 bedrooms. So we packed up our stuff and moved next. Although the war was coming to an end, there were still air raids and the Germans also sent over the “V” weapons, doodlebugs, mostly during the day. There were no warning sirens for those: the buzz would get louder overhead the bombs could be seen going through the air with a flame coming out of the end. The only time we were wary was when the noise stopped . Then we ducked for cover, because when the engine stopped the bomb was going to come down.

Once in Adolphus Street, when I was 19 or 20, I was sitting at home with my father when there was an almighty bang. I got down on the floor and my father got down on top of me to cover me up and we stayed there for a little while. When we got up the windows were all gone and the ceiling was down. There had been a land mine - they used to come down on parachutes - at the bottom of the street and 22 people were killed that night . All the houses round about had lost windows and some had their doors blown off. All our bedroom and living room windows went . We went to see what had happened after the “All Clear” sounded: it was dreadful to see the bodies lined up in the street waiting for the ambulances to take them away. We got off lightly by comparison: we were given dockets to get our sheets and curtains replaced and because the war was still on they came round and boarded over the windows. We had no daylight in the house for a while, until we could get the glass replaced.


I wish I’d kept a ration book. We were rationed to an ounce or two of cheese a week, there was a sweet ration, and a meat ration. It was impossible to buy an egg during the war. I don’t know why- there were plenty of new laid eggs in the shops before the war, and the hens must still have been laying, so I suppose the eggs went to the troops. The rest of us bought egg powder which was mixed with a bit of pepper and salt and milk, and whisked in the frying pan like an omelette.

Bread and potatoes weren’t rationed, but everything else was. Almost everything we bought, including clothing, we had to give up coupons, and there were dockets to allow replacement of bedclothes and other things destroyed in the raids. The only new furniture that was made was ”Utility” furniture, which was well made of good wood, but of a very plain and economical design.

The manufacturers were not allowed to make anything else. Rationing continued for a long time, even after the war was over. In fact rationing of a few things lasted into the 1950’s.

Utility Furniture

This is one of the best singular accounts of the bombing blitz of Deptford and the surrounding areas I have read. Find it here.....

'WW2 People's War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at'

Where was this Off License?

This old photo shows an OFF LICENSE situated somewhere in Church Street, Deptford. Any clues as to where it was located.

Pre 1965 Photo of the Oxford Arms Church Street.

How it looks now. The brick pier is still there! even if the name has changed.
It will and still is known as the Oxford Arms.

A Deptford Firemans Funeral

Saturday 26 February 2011

John Walker..A Deptford Suicide.

The Rev. E. N. Mellish VC, MC

Edward Noel Mellish VC MC (24 December 1880 – 8 July 1962) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Edward Noel Mellish was born on 24 December 1880 at Oakleigh Park, Barnet, North London. He was the son of Edward and Mary Mellish. He went on to be educated at Saffron Walden Grammar School and from there became a member of the Artists Rifles. In 1900 he began serving with Baden-Powell's police against the Boers in South Africa.

Feeling that his work in Africa was over Edward Mellish returned to England to study at Kings College London taking holy orders in 1912 to become curate at St Pauls Church in Deptford. Here he did great work with the Church Lads Brigade taking over an old public house behind the Empire Music Hall and turning it into a boys club. The youngsters insisted on naming it after their curate and it became known as the Noel Club.

On the outbreak of the First World War he offered his services to the chaplaincy and served from May 1915 until February 1919. Just a few months after this his brother Second Lieutenant Richard Coppin Mellish was killed in action whilst serving with the 1st Middlesex Regiment at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. Reverend Edward Noel Mellish was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers in Ypres Salient in 1916 and it was them during the first three days of the "Action of the St Eloi Craters" that he performed the action for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the first member of the army chaplaincy to win the VC.

He was 35 years old, and a Chaplain in the Army Chaplains' Department, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
During the period 27 - 29 March 1916 at St. Eloi, Belgium, Captain The Reverend Noel Mellish went backwards and forwards under continuous and very heavy shell and machine-gun fire between our original trenches and those captured from the enemy, in order to tend and rescue wounded men. He brought in 10 badly wounded men on the first day from ground swept by machine-gun fire. He went back on the second day and brought in 12 more and on the night of the third day he took charge of a party of volunteers and once more returned to the trenches to rescue the remaining wounded.
St. Eloi is located approximately three kilometers east of Ypres, Belgium. The defense of St. Eloi is commemorated by the Hill 62 Memorial.
The Reverend Mellish continued to minister to the troops' needs until the war's end in November of 1918 and just three weeks after this he married Miss Elizabeth Wallace on December 3rd at his home church of St Pauls in Deptford.
His final years were spent in quiet retirement in Somerset where he passed away on July 8th 1962 in the village of South Petherton at the age of 82
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Fusiliers Museum, Tower of London, England.
Replica medals are on display at The Museum of Army Chaplaincy.

New Zealand newspaper cutting
reporting Noel Mellish's VC award.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Newspaper Cutting 6th January 1838

SPRING HEELED JACK. - Few occurrences in this neighbourhood have created so much general excitement as the fooleries said to have been committed by a person who has obtained for himself the above distinguished cognomen. Some of his vagaries were related, as taken from a London paper, in our last week's number. Some old women will have it that he has been seen dashing across Blackheath at 12 o'clock at night, on a milk white steed, covered in blood and dust - others have seen him at all hours in the day and night, at the corner of every lane, street and road, in Greenwich, Woolwich, and Deptford, and the surrounding neighbourhood. Little children can't go to bed by themselves, for the thought of his bouncing down the chimney or in at the window the moment they are asleep. Mothers make quite an "old bogee" of him to compel their sons and daughters to "be good", while there are some sober old gentlemen who positively declare that they don't believe there is any Jack or Gill of the kind. For our own parts we can only observe if there is a man whose mind is so utterly destitute of common-sense, that he can take a delight in making an ass of himself, in the way described - we pity him. We had almost forgotten to mention that rumour has "taken him up" about a score of times.
SpringHeeled Jack. During the 1830's, this 'demon' terrorized England. Described as tall, thin, powerful, wearing a black cloak, the man could jump 20 to 30 feet vertical. It was reported that he had large pointed ears and nose, with red eyes, and capable of spitting a white and blue flame from his mouth. Evidently he was roaming Deptford and surrounding areas?

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Builders at Work, 1933 Albury Street.

Whilst researching the Albany Institute I came across this letter from Dennant & Laver Estate agents who's business premises were located at 239A Lewisham High Road.

Bank Building, Lewisham.

This is the building where Dennant & Laver offices were  located. Must have been a up market business.

Condemed Houses in Watergate Street, late 1890's

The lease holder of the two houses ctr. (not the shop) is Mr C. J. Young, 70 years of age. He had a crippled wife and a 12 year old daughter who where dependent upon him. Mr Young had put the whole of his life's savings into these two houses anticipating some revenue in his old age. Now they were included in an order for demolition by the London County Council who paid £5!! compensation for the loss of his two houses!! It was proposed and carried out to build flats where these houses once stood. 

This photo also shows the west side of Watergate street which was pulled down to build flats. The shop was owned by a long standing resident of the area, a Mr Henry Wells, who ran a thriving Bakery business from the premises

Friday 14 January 2011

New Zealand Evening Post 1940's

I came across this press cutting whilst serching newspaper archives. Does anyone know Ms Aucutt?

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Remarkable Misers and one from Deptford Broadway.

Mary Luhorne died in 1676 in a lodging house on the Broadway. She was 96 years of age and amassed a small fortune. To whom it went to on her death nobody knows.

Daily Mirror Report 1905 - Murder of the Farrows- Deptford High Street.

Murder of the Farrows, Daily Mirror Report 1905

March 28th (first article)


Aged manager brutally slain by trio of ruffians

Under circumstances dramatic enough to be conceived by Poe or De Quincey, three masked men callously murdered an old man and inflicted terrible injuries upon his wife in Deptford High Street early yesterday morning. The victims are Mr and Mrs Farrow, the guardians of a prosperous little oilshop, and the motive which led the criminals to murder was the little hoard of a few pounds which represented a week’s takings.

It was at eight o’clock that the crime was discovered, and quickly upon the discovery came evidences of how it had been committed. The errand-boy coming to his work as usual at eight o’clock found the red shutters still up and the house in quietness. He could not understand it, shook the door, peered through the keyhole, and finally, frightened at the silence, sought a neighbour.


Together they forced a way in at the back. They came into the little sitting-room. Upon the floor lay the aged manager. He had been pitiably used, and lay there unconscious, and as they bent over him the last fluttering breath came and the old man was dead. Upstairs was his wife. She also had suffered at the hands of the murderers, but fortunately, although unconscious, there was still hope.

Before Scotland Yard had sent commissioner McNaughton and Inspector Fox with an expert photographer, the keen eyes of the police had discovered a remarkable trace of the criminals. Carelessly thrown aside were three black masks made out of a woman’s stocking. In addition, in various places there were finger-prints, proving beyond doubt that three men were concerned in the crime. From some incoherent sentences whispered by Mrs Farrows at the Seamen’s Hospital last night the whole story of the crime was put together.
Just as the narrow high street began to show signs of life about six o’clock three men walked to the little oil shop. They stopped a moment and once advanced alone. He rapped sharply on the closed door with his knuckles. Presently the old man came down, partially dressed, thinking it was an early customer. He opened the door, and the stranger, apologising, asked if he could be supplied with some painter’s materials, size, and whitelead.


Mr. Farrow opened the door wider for the man to pass in. Inside, in the dark little shop, there was a quick moment and a horrible blow given. The old man, infirm and worn out, sunk unconscious immediately. The other two men came into the shop, and all three men put on masks. Quickly they ransacked the shop and the till, and passed into the sitting room beyond. but the old man had recovered slightly, and staggered after them, faithful to protect his master’s goods. There was a scuffle, and he fell again. But his wife had heard the sounds of movement and called. One of the three rushed upstairs and struck Mrs. Farrow as she sat up wonderingly in her bed. Then there was another hasty search. The men discarded their masks and two of the criminals emerged from the shop. The third waited a minute or two and then followed, closing the door on its spring lock. Here is the best description available of the two men: -

1) Age between twenty-five and thirty, 5ft. 6in. to 5ft. 7in. in height. Had round face, dark moustache, and wore a hard felt hat and a blue serge jacket, the collar of which was turned up. He had on a white collar, suggesting he was not a member of the “muffler brigade.”

2) Age about twenty-four. 5ft. 5in. to 5ft. 6in. in height. Light brown hair. Dressed in rather shabby brown jacket suit, grey cap, and brown boots.

April 21st (second article)


Scornful laughter at verdict of coroner’s jury


Without a sign of apprehension or remorse, Alfred and Albert Stratton, the brothers accused of the foul and brutal murder of old Mr and Mrs Farrow in a shop in High-street, Deptford, yesterday heard a verdict of “wilful murder’ returned against them by a coroner’s jury. Callous and defiant, they burst into scornful laughter when the foreman announced the result of the jury’s brief deliberation- only fifteen minutes. They walked out of court with as much bravado as they had shown on entering, about half-an-hour before the coroner’s arrival. While waiting, seated between two warders, they had whistled snatches of popular tunes, stamping their feet on the floor as though they were in the gallery of some cheap place of amusement. There were low murmurs of applause in court- quickly suppressed, of course- when the verdict was announced. But to these the accused seemed utterly indifferent. The replies of Chief Inspector Fox to a few questions from the coroner, Dr. Oswald, had concluded the evidence. He said it would be possible to study from the street the internal part of the shop and the habits of the occupants.


The Coroner: You have heard that Alfred Stratton had his hands injured. Have you found if those injuries were caused at any time before Monday, March 27? (the day of the crime). – Yes, I have it on reliable authority that his hands were injured before March 27. Alfred Stratton (standing up): I offered to have my hands examined when I was arrested. ..Inspector Fox: Stratton did not make the request. The injuries consisted only of a number of abrasions, and did not render him helpless. He said that the abrasions were caused by a fight with another man, but I have ascertained that they were caused by knocking a woman about. Dr. Oswald had the evidence taken at the opening of the inquest, before the Strattons were arrested, read to the prisoners, and then summed up.

“This tragedy,” he said, “will probably impress upon London tradesmen the advisability of iron rails before their windows instead of shutters. These rails would allow people passing to look through, and thus would further the detection of nefarious acts.”

Undoubtedly robbery was the only motive for this crime. The presence of the masks made it possible that there were three persons engaged in the robbery, but that opinion was not borne out by the evidence. Though a vast crowd assembled in Deptford High-street to see the two young fellows led hand-cuffed to the prison van on their return to Brixton Gaol, there was no demonstration.

May 3rd (third article)


Dramatic incidents mark the close of the trial

Judge solemnly warns the prisoners not to expect mercy. The inexorable Law has once more avenged the crime of murder. The two brothers, Alfred Stratton and Albert Ernest Stratton, both on the threshold of manhood, have forfeited their lives for killing old Thomas Farrow and his wife, Anne Farrow, in their oilshop at Deptford High-street. At the Old Bailey on Saturday the two days’ trial ended in the Jury returning a verdict of guilty against both men, and Judge Channell, assuming the black cap of doom, pronounced the capital sentence. In fulfilling his direful duty the Judge’s voice quavered, and there was a note of pathos in his words: -

“But one sentence is known to the law. It is not my sentence.” In that remark one heard an echo of the Scriptures: - “Vengeance is mine. I will repay.” The Judge concluded with the solemn formula: -
The sentence of the Court upon each of you is that you be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and that there you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and- may the Lord have mercy on your souls.

“Amen,” said the chaplain in a low voice, bowing his head.


The brothers stood to hear their fate, looking blankly in front of them, evidently prepared for the worst, with consciences so seared that they could not feel their position acutely.
Without scanning the gallery, where many who knew the Strattons were seated, the unhappy brothers were quickly removed from the dock, to be taken to Wandsworth, where three clear Sundays will be allowed them, in the humane words of the Judge, to make the best use of that time remains to them in the world.
In awed silence the audience, including many well-dressed women, had followed every syllable of the closing stages of the trial, scanning the faces of the accused with the curiosity customary in such cases. If they twitched their hands the circumstance was noted. But visible signs of emotion were few and slight. What impressed observers most was the indifference of the brothers on to the other; associates in crime they were now for ever estranged, since the law had found them out.


Alfred Stratton, the elder-brother, fought hard for his life in the witness-box. So far from committing the murders, he said, he was never in Thomas Farrow’s shop; he and his brother were at home at the time; and he never uttered the suggestive words to Albert: “Shall we go out tonight or leave it till another night?”
When he read an account of the murder it simply interested him as a local affair. In a despairing argument he told Mr. Muir, the prosecuting counsel, that he did not believe the “masks” supposed to have been worn by the murderers- were found under the mattress of Albert’s bed.  “It was a put-up job.” He surmised a woman’s spite at the bottom of it.

An attempt was made to discredit the police evidence based on the thumb-marks on the cashbox. Professor Garston said he had been employed by the Home Office as an instructor in identification by finger-print, but the Judge dismissed his evidence as “untrustworthy”.  Defending the elder brother, Alfred Stratton, in a speech of two hours, it was argued by Mr. Rooth that the case rested on theory and surmise. No living human being saw the murderous deed done.

For Albert, the younger brother, Mr. Morris mentioned suggestively that the verdict of “Not Proven” in Scots Law did not operate in England. The rest remained with the jury, who returned to a hushed court with their verdict of “Guilty” after two hours’ deliberation.

The Judge then, after a painful pause, put on the black cap and, warning the prisoners not to hope for mercy in this world, pronounced the death sentence.

Manchester Guardian, May 8 1905, p3

The Deptford Murders

Prisoners Sentenced to Death
The trial at the Old Bailey, London of the brothers Alfred Stratton (23) and Albert Stratton (21), labourer and seaman respectively on the charge of murdering Thomas Farrow and his wife at an oil shop in High Street Deptford, was concluded on Saturday before Mr Justice Channell.The murders were apparently committed about seven o’clock in the morning by men by men wearing masks, made from stockings which they left behind. It was stated on the first day of the trial that the prisoners had been known to have masks of that kind, and that they were away from home a the time of the murder having gone out late at night. The prosecution also sought to prove that a finger-print found on Farrow’s cashbox must have been caused by Alfred Stratton, that the prisoners were seen hurrying away from the oil shop soon after the murder must have been committed, and that a sum of £2. 2s 6d. which had been dug up since, and which admittedly belonged to Alfred Stratton, was part of the money stolen by the murderers. It also appeared that he gave away a brown jacket after it was announced that one of the murderers wore a jacket of that colour. Mr R D Muir and Mr Bodkin conducted the case for the prosecution; Mr Harold Morris appeared for Albert Stratton, and Mr HG Rooth and Mr Curtis Bennett for his brother. Edward Russell a milk boy and Henry A Jennings, a milkman, gave evidence as to seeing two men run away from the shop, but they could not say whether the prisoners were the men or not.
Ellen Stanton said that about twenty minutes past seven on the morning of the murder she saw two men running up High Street, Deptford. One of the men she recognised as the prisoner Alfred, by reason of his being a man to whom her ‘”soldier lover” used to nod. Later she gave information to the police and identified Alfred as one of the men she saw running away.

Mr Bodkin: ......looking at the prisoner Albert can you say whether he is or is not the man who was with Alfred?
.....I could not tell you.

Finger-prints evidence

Inspector Collins, chief of the finger-print department at Scotland Yard, explained the method of comparing finger-prints, and said with regard to his general experience he found that finger-prints did not alter during many years. In the present case the inner part of a cash box found at the house where the murder took place was handed to him and he took a photograph of a fingerprint found upon it. The fingers of the murdered man and woman and Sergeant Deacon, to whom the box was handed, were examined, but they did not agree with the impression on the box. Subsequently he took an impression of the fingers of the prisoners, when they were arrested, and found that the impression of the right thumb of the prisoner Alfred Stratton compared with that on the cash box. Mr Rooth asked questions with regard to the impression on the cash box with a view to showing that it differed from that taken of the prisoner’s thumb in material points. The witness conceded that in one case there was a very slight difference. The difference could be caused with the pressure of the finger.

Counsel: Then if that is the case, what is the use of this so-called system? – You must remember that in one case the impression was produced by a “sweaty” finger and in the other by ink. The jury intimated that they wished to put the apparatus to a practical test. Several took impressions of the fingers and at the finish the judge said he thought they should tell the court what they had found. The jury said that they found that pressure made a difference.
The Defence
Mr Rooth called Alfred Stratton, who said that after he had gone to bed on the Sunday night after the tragedy a tap came to the window. He got up, and found his bother, who asked him for some money for his lodging. Witness replied that he had none, and asked him to wait a while till he came out. He dressed, but when he went out he found that his brother had gone. He found him eventually at the top of Regent Street. He and his brother went home about three o’clock. Cross examined by Mr Muir he denied all knowledge of or connection with the crime... how do you account for the masks which were found under the bed at Mrs Tedman’s? I don’t believe they were found. It was a put up job. Dr John George Garson, an expert in the system of finger-print identification was called by the defence to rebut certain points in the evidence of police officials... he said there were points of difference in the impressions... he had read the evidence of Inspector Collins at the police court, portions of which he considered nonsense.

Mr Muir: And did you on the same day write to the Director of Public Prosecutions offering your services – Yes.

How do you justify writing two such letters? I am an independent witness.

The Judge: I should say after having written such letters, an absolutely untrustworthy one. You write offering to give evidence when you had never seen either of the impressions. Had you asked to be allowed to see the impressions before offering to give evidence upon them the letters would have been all right? Dr Garson: that is what I meant.

Mr Morris spoke on behalf of Albert Stratton. He point out that the gaoler Gittens said he had heard a statement said to have been made by Albert – in which Albert was alleged to have stated, “I reckon he (his brother) will get strung up and I shall get ten years. He led me into this” – on April 4, and did not write that down until the 18th. On that date he said that he read it to two persons, yet those two persons did not remember it. Was it a likely thing that they would forget such a matter?

The Judge in summing up, referring to the photos of the prisoner Alfred’s fingers, remarked that if it was true that there were such differences as had been stated between people’s finger-marks, then there was an extraordinary resemblance between the two photos. Yet he was of opinion that the jury would not like to act on that evidence alone. The jury returned at 10.10 with a verdict of guilty against both prisoners. They had nothing to say, and sentence of death was passed. The judge imported them to make good news of the time remaining to them, as he could hold out no hope that the sentence would not be carried out.

The Deptford Murders, April 21, 1905, p5
Verdict Against the Stratton’s

The inquest in connection with the deaths of Thomas Farrow (71) and Anne Farrow (65), who were murdered at 34 High Street, Deptford, was concluded yesterday. Albert and Alfred Stratton, the two men under arrest in connection with the tragedy, when brought into court about half an hour before the opening of the proceedings, assumed an air of bravado. They whistled snatches of popular tunes, keeping time by stamping their feet on the floor. Inspector Fox, replying to the Coroner, said that anyone standing outside the shop, 34 High Street, could get a view of the inside and study the habits of those living there. The inspector added that he had it on reliable authority that Alfred Stratton’s hands were injured before the day of the murder. Alfred Stratton here stood up and said that he was offered to have his hands examined when he was arrested. Inspector Fox said that Stratton did not make the request. The injury consisted of only a number of abrasions, and did not render him helpless. He had said that the abrasions were caused by a fight with another man, but witness had ascertained that they were caused by assaulting a woman.

The Coroner said that one of the practical lessons to be drawn from the tragedy was the advisability of tradesmen having iron rails before their windows instead of shutters. These rails would allow people passing to look through and would allow the detection of anyone inside engaged in nefarious acts. Dealing with the circumstances of the crime, he said he thought it was clear that there were two persons engaged in it, although the evidence did not preclude the possibility of a third. If only one person was engaged, then he must have been a glutton for masks. He did not think it was probably that the murder was committed by any of the alien criminals which the country freely admitted.
The jury, after an absence of fifteen minutes, returned a verdict of wilful murder against both the Stratton’s.

On hearing the verdict the accused laughed.

Saturday 8 January 2011

A Street in Deptford

I found this photo entitled a Deptford Slum Street? Can anyone tell me where it could be? The tower in the background could be a good eye catcher to identify it.

Was it Queen Street Lamerton Street?


I took this picture last January/Feb 09. On the right is Manze's and on the left, out of view, William Hill Betting Shop. The two photos match quite well and have similarities from a building outline perspective. Manze's building outline does look similar albeit some windows and door placements may have been altered? Looking at the old map below published 1874, it shows Queen Street as it was then. Notice the PH, Public House mark on the left which could relate to the R Whites Ginger Beer and lemonade notice in the original photo above. Another thing I notice was the 45 degree angled /beveled brickwork on the right hand side in the original photo. In the recent photo I took last year of Manze's it doesn't show an angled corner so I thought it couldn't be the same location. It wasn't until I scrutinised the map further that I noticed it originaly did! I've enlarged the area I am referring to. The only thing that doen't seem the same are the dimensions of the road and pavement surfaces...seems to small and of course there's that Chimney......... Any comments please....?

The good suggestion by Shipwrights that it could be the Queen St off of Old King St. seems possible, but shown here on the map... Queen St...... is open at both ends. In the originalphoto it appears blocked off. Now ...If you look North there is a Queen's Court? which looks small enough in width and length and has a blocked, dead end to the east, but obviously looks away from the foundry area (I think) where a chimney tower could have been? Looking east on the map I could find no "works etc" the would have employed a tower chimney.


Tuesday 4 January 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 3.

Only three contemporary leases for Union Street have been discovered. Two are leases for empty plots and one is a lease of a plot with a house already built on it. A further three deeds recite original leases and altogether they provided dates and modes of construction of ten houses in Union Street and for a further eight adjacent sites or completed houses. It has not unfortunately been possible to identify all the houses or sites mentioned in these leases; nonetheless they do give an admirably clear picture of how Lucas’s building speculation developed and what was his part in it, and of his relations with the builders and tenants. This information is supplemented by Lucas’s will written in 1734/35, the greater part of which is taken up with bequests to his wife, Thamer Lucas, and to his surviving children of property in Union Street in which he has retained an interest.

In owning the freehold, albeit mortgaged to Loving, of the strip of land, James Brown’s land on Evelyn’s map of 1623, Thomas Lucas differed from builders in the centre of London. There, it was usual for builders to take lease of a site for development, and once they had completed their building operations, to give up their interest in the site. Being his own landlord, Lucas retained an interest in the land on which houses had been built after they had been assigned to purchaser or otherwise leased. Forgetting the small scale of the operation, Lucas foreshadows the big developers of the nineteenth century. He laid out a road running down the middle of the land from Butt Lane (Deptford High St.) to Church Street leaving a strip about fifty two feet in depth either side on which the houses were to be built. The plots were let off in most cases at eight pence per foot frontage per annum for a lease of 99 years. This was a very low price in comparison with those in London notwithstanding the shallow depth of the plots, and must reflect the differences between metropolitan land values of those in Deptford. The houses were built one or two together, occasionally more, either by Lucas or by other craftsman who took a 99 year lease from him at a peppercorn rent for the first year. The width of the plots varied depending on the amount of money available to the builder or on the supposed requirements of their clients. The narrowest plot was thirteen feet wide and at the other end of the scale five single plots were over thirty feet wide. The builder of each house was responsible for the paving of the roadside but the roadway itself was built-up by Lucas apparently as late as 1709. The construction of the road was rather primitive being made of gravel and dentre stone, or drainage channel running done the middle of the street. The roadside was paved with Purbeck Stone and posts were set up to keep off the carts. There was no continuity of building in Union Street. The houses which Lucas built were spread up and down both sides of the street and those know to have been built by other builders were, at least on the south side of the street, intermingled with Lucas’s. In the same way the order in which plots were leased was haphazard. Building started at several points in the street and although houses tended to be erected on the east side of completed structures, it was not a continuous process.

In spite of these irregularities, Thomas Lucas was able to enforce a striking regularity of appearance on the houses whether they were built by himself or by other craftsman. Lucas made this conformity a condition of the leases which he granted to other builders.

No.19 Union Street, south side (Now renumbered to 34 shown here) was built by two masons, John Royalls or Ryalls and Robert Pearce or Pears under a lease of the 25th July 1709. They were to build or cause to be built at their own cost ‘one good brick tenement the front storey to be ten feet clear and lay the front with good grey stocks in such manner as the said Thomas Lucas hath to lay six feet in depth and the whole front of the said house with good purbeck stone and sett posts to keep the carts off at such distance as the rest of the posts are and to pave before the front of the said house as far as the said Thomas Lucas doth’. Royalls and Pearce were to have the benefit of the house on the west, one of a pair then being built by Lucas for Mr. Thomas Rowbotham, a dancing- master, for a party wall on condition that they should provide the same benefit to Lucas should he build next on the east side where a plot was already staked and marked out for building. In this way, Lucas controlled the depth of the cellar and the height of the ground storey. He ensured that the front elevation should conform to those of the houses he had already built himself and that it should be constructed of bricks of his own specification. Nowadays ‘good grey stocks’ would be described as brown but were then so named in distinction to the bright red bricks used for arches and decorative dressings.. The house built by Royalls and Pearce survives and the adjacent house built by Lucas for Rowbotham survived until recently. A photograph of them shows that Lucas’s intention that Royalls and Pearce should conform to his elevation was completely fulfilled. To the front elevation of the two houses is nearly identical and the only clue to there having been built separately is the straight joint between them.

Of the total of forty original houses built by 1717 in Union Street, the surviving deeds indicate how building advanced for sixteen of them. Of these sixteen houses, one was probably built in 1705. Three more houses were built in 1708 with a further plot staked out for building, and in 1709 three more still were built with another plot staked out. So, by the end of the first decade of the eighteenth century, ten of the sixteen houses had been completed. Three more houses followed by 1711, one more by 1713, and the last three were completed by or in 1715.

The latest assignment discovered is recited in a marriage settlement of 1759. It refers to No.7 Union Street, south side, the leasehold of which was assigned by Thomas Lucas to Valentine Goodman for 99 years on the 20th October 1715, when the house was described as ‘all that new brick messuage or tenement premises …..Containing two cellars..... two lower rooms…. two chambers and two garrets (Room within the roof of a house, an attic)…..’ The house filled the gap between two others already complete and occupied towards the west end of the street. There is no strong reason to suggest that this was the last house built, although by 1717, with forty houses built and occupied, Lucas had nearly finished his development. These houses include seventeen on the north side of the street, running from the corner of Butt Lane to No.23 (No.43) with a gap between numbers 6 and 8 and others not yet discovered, and with Nos. 21 and 22 later to be built from one house.

On the south side, there were twenty three houses running without a break from the corner with Butt Lane, No.1 to No.23 (No.42). The remainder of the street ran between the back gardens of houses facing onto Church Street. They were no part of Lucas’s development, but came to him with the parcel of land in 1704/05. What ever intention Lucas may have had to continue building in Union Street to the east, was probably frustrated by difficulty in raising money, and by lack of time since, from 1713, he was employed by the Commission for Fifty New Churches, first in Deptford but after 1718 in Stepney.

South Side of Albury St on the right looking east to Church Street. 1910?

Part 3 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.


You may be aware a major BBC2 series charting the history of the secret streets of London is in the making and is planned to be screened sometime in 2012. One of those streets will be Deptford High Street. Century/Halcyon Heart Films  have contacted me and asked if I could post the following information.

Century and Halcyon Heart Films are an independent production company who are currently making a major new documentary series for BBC2 which will chart the history of six London streets. One of the programes will focus on the history of Deptford High Street. We are currently collaborating with several businesses on the street to build up a picture of the past 120 years. Having been a shopping street for almost two centuries we're sure every shop and building will have a fascinating story, so we're keen to speak to people who have lived or worked in the area about their memories. The questions we want to ask are quite straightforward: How long have / did you live in Deptford? Do you know anything about the history of the high street? What are your memories of the pubs and shops there? And if you lived close to the street, or knew the residential streets nearby, do you remember them before they were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s? Even if you no longer live in Deptford, if you used to know it well we'd really like to hear from you. At this stage, it’s purely for our research and there’s no obligation to appear on television. However, in the coming months we would like to interview people for the documentary. We think it’s going to be a fascinating project – and even if you don’t think you’re going to be interested in appearing on television, it would be great to have a chat with you.  If you can contact us at your earliest convenience, we’ll be sure to get back to you. It goes without saying that everything we talk about will be treated in the strictest confidence, and will not be passed on to anyone outside our team. We so hope that you’ll consider taking part in what is going to be a very exciting project. You can email me at or give us a call on 020 7378 6106. We'd love to have a chat and answer any questions you might have. For more information you can also see our website …

Best Regards,

Jaime Taylor
Century Films/ Halcyons Heart Films

Your local Deptford bloggers would also love to hear your stories as well, and invite readers/ followers to post their comments and stories on the Deptford blogs, or alternatively email them so that we can post them up. In this way we can ensure that stories which never get further than the cutting room floor are recorded, posted for all the community to enjoy. I think its only right that we offer everyone the chance to have their voices heard as well as helping Jaime out with research for the programme.

Marmoset and the Deptford Dame at http://deptforddame.blogspot/ have already made a start. I would also like to invite people to do the same here. You can post directly in the comments (with an email address if possible) or email me at

Sunday 5 December 2010

The Centurion Pub, Deptford High St.

Old photo of the Old Centurion Pub at the top of Deptford High St. Below ground toilets can be seen on the left and Deptford Broadway running away on the right. 1910?

Friday 3 December 2010

The Knighting of Admiral Francis Drake, Deptford Creek - April 1581.

I have read many accounts of the knighting of Francis Drake at Deptford Reach by Queen Elizabeth 1 but have always known this was partly untrue. In April 1581 a great ceremony took place in Deptford Creek, the knighting of Admiral Drake. Many thousands attended this occasion and it was recorded that a makeshift walkway was erected for spectators to observe the occasion. Halfway through ceremony the walkway collapsed spilling nearly a hundred spectators into the Creek much to the amusement of the crowd. There was no loss of life. When researching articles of history referring to the actual knighting it always shows Queen Elizabeth 1 carrying out the dubbing. Evidently this is wrong!
Drake was awarded a knighthood by commonly thought to be Queen Elizabeth aboard Golden Hind at Deptford Reach (Creek). In reality though he was actually Knighted by a French nobleman called Monsieur de Marchaumont. on 4 April 1581, and, in September 1581, became the Mayor of Plymouth. He was also a Member of Parliament in 1581, for an unknown constituency, and again in 1584 for Bossiney. In 1580 Drake purchased Buckland Abbey, a large manor near Yelverton in Devon. He lived there for fifteen years, until his final voyage, and it remained in his family for several generations. Buckland Abbey is now in the care of the National Trust and a number of mementos of his life are displayed there. The Queen ordered all written accounts of Drake's voyage to be considered classified information, and its participants sworn to silence on pain of death; her aim was to keep Drake's activities away from the eyes of rival Spain. Also considering the friction with Spain, on the occasion of the knighting, Elizabeth 1 handed the sword to the Marquis de Marchaumont, ambassador from France, and asked him to dub Drake as the knight. During the Victorian era, in a spirit of nationalism, the story was promoted that Elizabeth 1 had done the actual knighting.

Friday 26 November 2010

History of Albury Street Part 2.

Until 1882, Albury Street was called Union Street, a name which commemorated the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Union Street was already in existence in 1707 although only a few houses may have been built by then. The parcel of land on which the street was laid out is clearly shown on Evelyn's map of 1623 where it is marked as 'James Browns land'.
Its area is about 2 acres. Its boundaries no doubt were medieval, showing the original field pattern although no documentary evidence of this has been found. There is some possibility that the parcel of land may have belonged to the manor which the lord was then Sir Richard Browne. The manor was purchased by John Evelyn but James Brown's land does not seem to have been included in the Evelyn Estate. In 1623, it is shown lying between Church Lane (Church St?) to the East and Butt Lane, later Deptford High Street, to the West. Its southern boundary is shown marked by a hedge and its northern boundary by a few trees. There is a house in the center and two more at the eastern end. No record of the tenure of the adjacent land, nearly two acres of Bridgehouse land to the north leased to Will. Sale has been found for the seventeenth century.

Part of the parcel to the south was occupied by Thomas Lucas as early as 1692/3, and the remainder was in the possession of Elizabeth Clapp, but how and when they obtained their interest in the land, formerly the King's Land, has not been discovered. Further to the south lay Mr Paget's land and half an acre of Bridgehouse land leased to him. The tenure of this strip of Bridgehouse land has been traced from 1603 to 1737, being occupied by Eusebius Paget, his son Ephrain Paget, a clerk, and then by Peter Pett. The land is described in 1647 as pasture and there is no reason to doubt that all the land around here was pasture including James Brown's. By the time Thomas Lucas began his building separations, the lanes surrounding these parcels of land, Butt Lane to the west, Church Street to the east, Flagons Row to the north, and Crossfield Lane to the south were all lined with buildings, traditionally rural in type, some of brick and some of wood, built irregularly with no attempt at an overall plan. By deed of lease and release dated 5th and 6th January 1692/3, the land which was developed as Union |street, was assigned to William Allen of Deptford, Mariner, and others to Isaac Leader, also of Deptford, an anchorsmith. The land was described as containing an orchard and a messuage of tenement. The purchase price was not disclosed. Thomas Lucas obtained the land from Leader again by a deed of lease and release dated 23rd and 24th January 1704/5. Once more the purchase price was not disclosed. Lucas immediately mortgaged the land to Thomas Loving (or Leving ) of Deptford, blockmaker, for £350 by a deed dated 25th January 1704/5. This mortgaged was to run for 1000 years but could be redeemed after one year on  payment of £367.10s. In spite of various payments to Loving and his successor, Ralph Crew, the mortgaged was not fully paid off by the time of Lucas's death. So, by the beginning of 1705, Lucas was in possession of the land on which he was to develop Union Street, and had obtain the capital, on paper rather than in actual cash, to enable him to start building. Apart from his possession of land in Deptford, and that he was described as a bricklayer in the lease and release of 1704/5, and so must have learnt his trade by then, little is known of Thomas Lucas before he began work on what was to become Union Street. On the 22nd December 1703, he succeeded his associate Thomas Leving as foreman of the Deptford jury to the Kent Commission of Sewers. It would be interesting to speculate that Lucas obtained the post to facilitate laying a sewer for Union street, but no evidence of a sewer having been laid has been found. On the 3rd of December 1706, Lucas was rated for his tile kiln  which stood on land owned by Mrs Bridgete Ann Kingswill in Church Marsh Level. By 1706, the kiln was probably already producing tiles for new houses in Union Street. Although the earliest lease discovered of a plot in Union Street is dated 20th February 1707, it is unlikely that Lucas waited until then before starting building. He must of begun the first houses soon after negotiating the purchase of the ground and its mortgage in 1704/5. Some confirmation of this is given by a lease and release of the 18th and 19th October 1805. by which Lucas Freeman of Church Street, Deptford  and the descendant of Thomas Lucas's son-in -law Jon Freeman, assigned No. 8 on the north side (No. 13 now) to Robert Bowring its occupant at that time. Since all the original leases discovered were granted for 99 years it suggests that this house having reverted by October 1805 to Lucas's descendant, probably at the previous Michaelmas, was originally leased in 1706. The original lease has not been found but it could either have been an assignment for 99 years of a house already completed by Lucas, or it could have been a lease by which Lucas assigned a plot of land for 99 years on the express condition that a house be erected on the site within a year. Both types of lease for dates later than 1706 have been found.

Part 2 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

History of Albury Street. Part 1

Albury Street was laid out and developed between 1705 and 1717 or soon after, by a local bricklayer, Thomas Lucas. The method of development which he employed and the two homogeneous rows of terrace-houses which were built each side of the street are typical of speculative building as it developed in London after the Great Fire. It is of unusual interest that a local craftsman should build in a manner typical of the Metropolis in an outlying village, as early as this, and that so much still survives. In the middle ages, Deptford was one of several riverside villages lying below the City of London on the south bank of the Thames. Originally known as West Greenwich, its present name derives from the crossing by a deep ford of the river Ravensbourne nearly a mile from its outlet into the Thames. The village called Deepforde Straund or Deptford Strand grew up along side the Thames rather than by the Ravensbourne. 
The settlement by the ford and then the bridge which led to Greenwich, which was later called the Upper Town, was much smaller than that by the Thames until the nineteenth century when it expanded to become the centre of the suburb.
Looking towards Deptford Strand 1620 to 1630

Royal Dockyard 1513
In the reign of Henry VIII, a royal shipyard was founded at Deptford to provide for the developing navy, and for over three hundred years it brought growth and prosperity to the “Navy Building Town”. A map of the village in 1923 shows the docks and the Kings Shipyard and another belonging to the East India Company with a mass of houses close to the river surrounded by fields.

Christopher Marlowe
Here, Christopher Marlowe was killed in a fight at a tavern and here that Gindling Gibbons was discovered. During the seventeenth century John Evelyn, the diarist took a lease of Sayes Court, the manor house of West Greenwich alias Deptford Strand. His diaries recount much of Deptford life and the sojourn there of its most illustrious visitor, Peter the Great of Russia, in his own house. Evelyn records that at the end of the century “by increase of Building may be seene that the Towne is in eighty years become neere as big as Bristoll”. The most notable buildings to be erected there in these eighty years, Trinity Almshouses, were built in 1664-5 in Church Street, considerably away from the Thames.

Grindling Gibbons
John Evelyn

Throughout the eighteenth century, starting with Albury Street, or rather Union Street as it was formerly called, this increase of building continued as houses were built farther and farther south away from the river. As a result Deptford became eligible for one of the fifty new churches planned by the Act of Parliament of 1711, St Paul’s, built to the design of Thomas Archer between 1713 and about 1724. It was Thomas Lucas who obtained the contract as a bricklayer for the church and as such was responsible for building the core of the building before it was faced in stone.

St Paul's Church, Deptford
By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Deptford, New Cross, Lewisham, and Greenwich had become one continuous built up area, but although the riverside had an unbroken series of docks, wharves and houses right to London, there were still open fields stretching to the west as far as Bermondsey. It was across these fields that London’s first railway was built between Spa Road and Deptford in 1836, ultimately to connect Greenwich with London Bridge. With the closure of the Royal Dockyard on the 30th March 1869, and its reuse as the Metropolitan Foreign Cattle Market, Deptford’s former individuality and prosperity were doomed. Enveloped at last by the expanding metropolis, it became the poor industrialised suburb which it has remained ever since.  

Foreign Cattle Market, Deptford

Part 1 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.