Monday 30 May 2011

Grove Street. Catch a Cart, Cab, Omnibus or a Train!

The Victoria, Grove Street Deptford.
Great photos of trains coming up Grove Street. Was it going to the Cattle Market? I beleive the pub shown here on the right Is "The Victoria" Matt Martin "The True Londoner" should be able to help out here, and he has with permission to post his later photo of the Victoria. My thanks to him.

1914-18? Any ideas what the building in the left forground was?

East end of Albury Street. 1960's-early 1970's ?

This photo looks east towards Church St and Creek Road. On the right are the original houses, Nos, 34 first on the right, and then 36, 38 and 40. The next block, one with the window open has since been demolished. On the left far end of the street you can see a white building. This was the "Kings Head" public house. Coming towards us we can see a tall building with ornate stone capping. This was the Albany Institute now replaced by Albany House. The houses on the left appear to be missing their door brackets which leaves me to believe this photo was taken late 1960's when the tenants were moved out and rehoused due to the threat of impending demolition of the street. Many of the original ornate door  brackets were stolen or lost.

No. 27, 29 and 31 Albury Street. 1930's ?

This is a charming picture showing the young girl with her hoop staring at the weary labourer taking a rest from work and pulling that hand cart. 
This is a good photo of the original carved door brackets for these 3 properties. No. 27 on the left shows full length cherubs. An earlier posting on this site entitled "Unknown Door in Albury St" is now known ...its number 27. No. 29 did not have any cherubs (center) just intricate scroll and foliage work, but No. 31 did as shown here. When I was a kid I can remember always looking at the cherub faces and the wings on their backs.

The Unknown Door

Sunday 29 May 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 5.

Thomas Lucas had several different ways of raising money open to him. He had a small income from the rents of the plots, whether he had built on them himself or, as in the case of Reyalls and Pearce, assigned them undeveloped. The price of 8 pence per feet frontage charged by Lucas as annual ground rent has already been described as low compared with prices in the metropolis, but while each plot only brought in ten to fifteen shillings annually, the whole street could be expected to yield about £30.00. To increase this income, and it would be at the expense of his capital, he could let off the house as well as the plot rather than sell it.
‘The Swan’ (King of Prussia) for instance was leased in this manner rather than sold, but that was probably because Lucas wished to control its activities, not because he preferred to get an income from the building itself instead of a capital sum. At the time he drew up his will, he had an income from the ground rent of thirty plots, but in addition, he still owned 9 of the houses built on them and consequently may have had an income from their rents as well. The facts are obscured because some of these houses had been mortgaged.

The sale of each house which he himself built provided Thomas Lucas with a capital sum. No.4 Union Street on the south side was demised on the 10th August 1711, for £125. This is the only example of a house sold directly by Lucas of which a record has been found. The low sum of money suggests that Lucas was only selling the carcass, roofed, but still to be fitted out inside. How much the dancing master, Mr Rowbotham, and the other people for whom Lucas built houses paid is not recorded, but it clearly was not enough. Lucas headed more capital still to continue the development of the street. It was not provided even by selling the houses freehold; although Lucas had sold the freehold of seventeen sites by the time he wrote his will. Raising money was a hazardous business both for Thomas Lucas and the other builders of Union Street. The earliest known deeds relating to Union Street, the recited ones of 1704, contain significantly, a mortgage. In 1710, Lucas mortgaged his own house together with its malt-house to Jon Goodwin of Chiswick for £200. Both Lucas and Goodwin were long dead before the mortgage was finally paid off in 1748. Then, the Bricklayer, John Bone, who took a lease of a site on the north side of Union Street, some 36 feet wide, on the 20th February 1707/8 was obliged to mortgage the house he was building to John Frost of Deptford, a waterman, first for £53 on the 12th March 1708/9, to be paid within a year, and then ‘having occasion for further money he borrowed a further sum of £50’ from Frost on the 11th May 1708. By the end of September, Bone was in a position to sell one of the houses and its contents so not only was its carcass complete but it would have been panelled. 

Example of original panelling 29 Albury Street.
Originally No 19 now No. 34 Albury St.
 The other house was then described as complete and it alone had to bear security for the complete mortgage. The two houses have not been exactly identified but it seems from the frontage of the plots that they were No. 11 and 12 Union Street on the North side. Reyalls and Pearce who built No. 19 Union Street, South side now No. 34 did not need to raise money on it after they took a lease of the site on the 25th July 1709. On the 23rd February 1712/13, Pearce disposed of his share in the property to Reyalls for £240 and on the 4th November 1715, Reyalls, doing rather badly out of the deal, sold the entire house to Thomas Leving, senior, for £210. 

Part 5 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.    

Short Film on the Stratton Brothers Murder of the Farrows in Deptford High St 1905

Narrated by Shaw Taylor.
My thanks to the Guilfordghost for posting on Youtube.

Friday 18 March 2011

Visit to 127 Deptford High Street, Formerly Nolans Clothes Shop.

I had the pleasure to meet Terry the proprieter of the shop which was once called Nolans's. Terry has been present in Deptford for many years and it was great to talk to him about the people and places he remembers on the High St. We started discussing the story, listed below, regarding the tunnel beneath his shop. He kindly agreed to let me go down into the cellar and view the tunnel entrance. I was surprised when Terry lifted a hatch by the till in the shop, which was the cellar entrance! It was a bit of a squeeze but we both got down there and I took the following photos.

The cellar entrance
Entrance to the tunnel now bricked up

Any ideas what these curious hinge type fixings were for??

Shop Owner  "Terry" My thanks to him for allowing me to disturb his business and go exploring.
Reproduced original posting for infomation.
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 in 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?

Tuesday 15 March 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 4.

The original leases and recited leases show that eleven houses or sites mentioned, seven were probably built or developed by Thomas Lucas, and his will implies that he built another thirteen. Four were definitely by other craftsmen, two by the bricklayer, John Bone of Deptford, one by the masons Reyalls and Pearce, and one more apparently by Pearce alone. Lucas was building on his own account from first to last. Although described as a bricklayer, it is not quite clear where he physically built any of the houses himself. It is clear from the quantity of work on which he was engaged, especially after 1713 when his contract on the new church began, that he would have been forced to employ craftsmen to work under him.

St Pauls 1750.
In fact his time would have largely been engaged managing the development rather than physically building it. The craftsmen whom he employed, bricklayers, carpenters, and joiners remain anonymous, as so does the carver of the brackets supporting the hoods to the doorways. The three craftsmen known to have taken building-leases are known only by name and have not been found elsewhere. One or two other contemporary craftsmen are connected with Union Street if only tenuously. First is Matthew Spray who died in 1742 bequeathing his house in Union Street to his wife, Martha, who occupied it until 1755. Spray, a bricklayer, built the church of St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich, between 1727 and 1739.
St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich
One could speculate that his house, No. 4 Union Street on the North side and one of the smallest in the street was given to him by Thomas Lucas in lieu of wages for his work in Lucas’s employment on Union Street and the church of St Paul. At all events, Lucas had disposed of his house and the freehold of the land on which it stood presumably to Spray, by the time he wrote his last will in 1734/5. Another Deptford bricklayer, Nathaniel Carter, appointed Thomas Lucas and his wife as the executors of his will, but the will has not been found and nothing more has been discovered about Carter. For other craftsmen employed working on Union Street, one may speculate amongst those who, like Lucas, worked under Thomas Archer on the new church. James Grove, a carpenter, and John Gilliam, a joiner, both of Greenwich might have assisted Lucas. Grove was appointed carpenter only three weeks after Lucas was appointed bricklayer, and worked closely with him providing for instance centering (Turning Pieces) for the brick arches of the crypt. Gilliam, who made the alter piece, pulpit, reader’s desk and clerks desk for St Paul’s Deptford, should be considered as the maker of the carved brackets on the Union Street doors, but there is no evidence to support the theory. Tradition has it the brackets were carved by ships’ carpenters but there is nothing specifically nautical about them. The carving is of high quality and of a type which appears in churches of that date. Financing the building of Union Street must have been a complicated proceeding for Thomas Lucas. Having satisfactorily mortgaged his land, his most expensive items were materials and labour. In 1706, he is recorded as having a tile kiln and in 1713, as bricklayer for the new church he was, initially at least, responsible for the supply of bricks. The bricks probably came from a local field but it is not known who may have owned it. Even if Lucas acted as his own supplier, he still had to pay for labour, both for brick makers and for bricklayers, and although he must have at least partly paid for them in money, he probably paid them partly in kind. He had adjacent to his own house at the south west corner of Union Street, and lying behind the street, a Malt House. It abutted the rear of the public house known first by the sign of the Swann’ and later as “The King of Prussia” a building that Lucas never sold. Beer must have appeared large among his payments in kind to his labourers. But its is also significant that Lucas’s daughter, Sarah was married to one Thomas Cells of St Paul Deptford, a shipwright but more often described as a distiller, and he inherited from Lucas an interest in the malt house, so one may surmise that gin as well as beer may have helped pay for the labour. It ahs already been suggested that Lucas may have given Matthew Spray, the bricklayer, a house in Union Street in return for work done by Spray for him. The possibility of Lucas building a house and exchanging it for materials arises since as early as 1706 the lease hold of two houses on the north side of Union Street was owned by Elias Wood a lime burner. Wood paid Lucas twenty four shillings per annum ground rent and while this small sum of money was probably paid in cash it is likely that the purchase price of the house may well have been paid in supplies of lime for making mortar.

Part 4 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.

Ann Arthur's Discourse with the Devil in Flaggons Row. 1685

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.