Saturday 23 June 2012

Anyone for Cocoa

What is a Carman?

The Worshipful Company of Carman website with some historical information Link at A description of the work of carmen is found at Link to The term "carman" is also used on railroads in USA and Nova Scotia and as a streetcar driver in UK. Usually it meant the driver of a covered cart. In colonial America carmen were regulated and had responsibilities for maintaining the streets. In the Dutch-Colonies mailing list Peter Christoph quotes from the Donogan Papers as follows: "The regulations in Albany in the 1680s appear in The Dongan Papers, 1683-1688, Part 1, pages 46-47 (where they are called Carmen). There were to be five and no more, appointed by the mayor and aldermen. They were to repair the streets when required by the mayor without compensation, cart the "dirt" (a euphemism) from all the streets to some convenient place. They were to be paid no more than three pence for hauling a load of goods except that for pantiles and bricks they were to be paid six pence, since they required special handling. The loads should be "reasonable for a horse to draw." The carmen are to unload and transport corn and wheat "with all possible speed." They are to make satisfaction for any goods they damage, and to behave civilly to all persons. No Negro or other slave shall drive a cart under penalty of twenty shillings to be paid by the owner of the slave (brewers' drays and beer carriages the only exceptions)." For all who have searched the surname Carman and found the occupation instead, this is a description of the English use of 'carman' as an occupation. The term was also used in 17c New York where carmen had specified responsibilities for maintaining roads. A carman was a delivery driver usually working for an employer. Could possibly be self-employed doing general haulage with his own horse and covered cart or wagon but these were mostly called 'carriers'. The Worshipful Company of Carmen was formed in 1516, to have the monopoly of plying for hire as carriers in the City. The Company would licence the vehicles, arrange where vehicles could stand awaiting custom and decide the rates to be charged. The livery colours are white and red, and a history of the Company (The Worshipful Company of Carmen by Eric Bennett, 1952) Records surviving at the Guildhall Library run from the 1660s to the late 20th century - the Court Minutes are the longest run, and some of the other records only cover very limited periods - lists of Freemen are only available up to the 18th Century, for example. In later time, a person may describe himself as a Carman, when he means that this is his trade, but if he is an employee within a large firm is most likely not to be a member of the Livery Company. The use of Carman (Master), or Master Carman probably indicates that the person is the proprietor of a firm of carriers, who may, therefore, (but not necessarily) be a member of the Livery Company.

Victualling Yard Entrance at Deptford




Sunday 10 June 2012

Miss Kitty Colyer.

Miss Kitty Colyer played Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre Deptford in December 1920. A music hall singer and comedian of the 1920's Miss Kitty Colyer, was a well-known comedienne and dancer, and started her professional career at eleven years old She continued singing and dancing until she was eighteen, and then married. She left the stage for a few years. But an idle life did not suit her, and she said that during her absence from the stage she suffered from melancholia. She undertook all kinds of dancing, but gave special attention to acrobatic, toe, buck, and national dancing. Some of her most successful numbers were ''Good-bye, Jenny,'' ''My little snow house,'' ''Popping around,'' and ''Oh, Dolly.''

Saturday 9 June 2012

A Tragic News Story from Deptford.

The fatal fire at Deptford was as sad in its consequences as the calamitous conflagration at Bethnal Green. We give a photograph of the fireplace of the room at 35, St Johns Road, Deptford, taken soon after the melancholy disaster on the 5th inst. At the inquest on the bodies of Thomas Aberthell aged 4 years; Amy, 3 years; Lily, 18 months, and Rose, aged four months, the four children who were asphyxiated in the fire, Lillian Aberthell, the mother, deposed that she left them sitting in the kitchen while she went to fetch some fish for her husband’s tea. When she had been away for about a quarter of an hour she returned, and was horrified to find the kitchen in flames. There were several people there, but apparently no one had made an attempt to save the children. She at once rushed in and succeeded in bringing out the two youngest but they were apparently dead. The Coroner commented on the carelessness of the parents having matches about in the way of the children as children were not able to appreciate the danger of fire, and would get matches whenever they had a chance. The Jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Dog Attack at the Royal Oak Public House

A Deptford Suicide!

Saturday 2 June 2012

The Gun Tavern


Deptford was also apparently the residence of the Earl of Nottingham, instrumental in helping destroy the Spanish Armada - he was supposed to have resided in the Gun Tavern. At the north end of Deptford Green, the Skinners Place property was leased to Lord Howard of Effingham, Admiral of England, in the late sixteenth century, and this appears to be the origin of the Lord High Admiral's official residence on the Green in the seventeenth century. It had two wharves with yards, several gardens enclosed with a brick wall, a barn and a stable, and a number, of houses held by sub-tenants. The main house was rebuilt shortly before 1568. This building later became the Gun Tavern and in 1807 it was converted into dwellings and warehouses owned by Messrs Gordon, Biddulph and Stanley, anchor-smiths. The property later passed to the General Steam Navigation Company.

Thursday 24 May 2012



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

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

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

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

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

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

Deptford Green

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

Butcher Row

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

King Street (Upper Watergate?)

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

Old King Street

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



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

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

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

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


Saturday 12 May 2012

Wellington Street/Flaggon Row 1886

This old photo shows Wellington Street looking west to Deptford High Street. It was demolished in 1896 to make way for Creek Road to join Evelyn Street.

Wellington Street looking east from the north end of Deptford High Street.

Extract from Booth's diary describing Wellington Street and the surrounding areas.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Albury Street 1970,s

South side of Albury Street after demolition of the group of original houses which stood there.I can remember them from the early to late 1950,s. I don't know what the sheds behind the hoarding were but at one time they were storage for Pickford's removals. I have also seen on a map that there was a vestry building for St Paul's??

Friday 16 March 2012

Watergate Street looking North 1920's

New King Street 1929

This photo shows a north view from Evelyn Street junction with New King Street. In the distance right hand side you can see a gateway. Is this the Victualing Yard entrance?

Saturday 25 February 2012

The London Magazine 1763.

Saturday 12th 1763.
The Blue Anchor a public house near the king's yard Deptford known by the name of the Red house fell entirely to the ground; there were several lodgers in it two of whom were unfortunately killed; divers were dug out of the ruins much bruised and three children who happily received no hurt

Sunday 19 February 2012

Watergate Street 1920's? but viewed from what end?

This is a great old photo. The more you look the more you see. Look at the young lad in the fore ground.... to the left, wondering what the rest of the locals are looking at. There's a street name on the left hand side...... any guesses??

Update 26th Feb. 2012.

This extract from Booths notes of London shows Rowley Street was somewhere close to Barnes Alley and I presume Queen Street.

Extract courtesy of London School of Economics and Political Science.

Friday 17 February 2012

Carrington House, Deptford 1902

I always remember Carrington House and the doss house that use to be there. My mum use to hate walking past it. This photo taken back in 1902 shows the place before Carrington House was built in 1903 .....advertising beds...then! Middle far right you can see Deptford Broadwayin the distance. Seems like this photo was taken in the winter months. Can anyone else remember the doss house?

As it looked in the 1960'-70's

As it is now Mereton Masions.

 Update 25th Feb 2012.

I found these old photos of the interior of Carrington House taken when the building was finished in 1903.  Looks pretty state of the art accommodation.

Ghosts In Deptford 

by Cicely Fox Smith

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very well they may,
A man might find the night there more stirring than the day,
Might meet a Russian Tsar there, or see in Spain's despite
Queen Bess ride down to Deptford to dub Sir Francis knight.

And loitering here and yonder, and jostling to and fro,
In every street and alley the sailor-folk would go,
All colours, creeds, and nations, in fashion old and new,
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as like enough they do.

And there'd be some with pigtails, and some with buckled shoes,
And smocks and caps like pirates that sailors once did use,
And high sea-boots and oilskins and tarry dungaree,
And shoddy suits men sold them when they came fresh from sea.

And there'd be stout old skippers and mates of mighty hand,
And Chinks and swarthy Dagoes, and Yankees lean and tanned,
And many a hairy shellback burned black from Southern skies,
And brassbound young apprentice with boyhood's eager eyes,

And by the river reaches all silver to the moon
You'd hear the shipwrights' hammers beat out a phantom tune,
The caulkers' ghostly mallets rub-dub their faint tattoo —
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very like they do.

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, and ships return once more
To every well-known mooring and old familiar shore,
A sight it were to see there, of all fine sights there be,
The shadowy ships of Deptford come crowding in from sea.

Cog, carrack, buss and dromond — pink, pinnace, snake and snow —
Queer rigs of antique fashion that vanished long ago,
With tall and towering fo'c'sles and curving carven prows,
And gilded great poop lanterns, and scrolled and swelling bows.

The Baltic barque that foundered in last month’s North Sea gales,
And last year's lost Cape Horner on her sails,
Black tramp and stately liner should lie there side by side
Ay, all should berth together upon that silent tide.

In dock and pond and basin so close the keels should lie
Their hulls should hide the water, their masts make dark the sky,
And through their tangled rigging the netted stars should gleam
Like gold and silver fishes from some celestial stream.

And all their quivering royals and all their singing spars
Should send a ghostly music a-shivering to the stars —
A sound like Norway forests when wintry winds are high,
Or old dead seamen's shanties from great old days gone by, —

Till eastward over Limehouse, on river, dock and slum,
All shot with pearl and crimson the London dawn should come,
And fast at flash of sunrise, and swift at break of day,
The shadowy ships of Deptford should melt like mist away.

Cicely Fox Smith (1 February 1882—8 April 1954) was an English poet and writer. Born in Lymm, Cheshire and educated at Manchester High School for Girls she briefly lived in Canada, before returning to the United Kingdom shortly before the outbreak of World War 1. She settled in Hampshire and began writing poetry, often with a nautical theme. Smith wrote over 600 poems in her life, for a wide range of publications. In later life, she expanded her writing to a number of subjects, fiction and non-fiction. For her services to literature, the British Government awarded her a small pension. (Courtesy of Wikepedia)

Friday 3 February 2012

West side of Watergate Street, Deptford 1903

I think the pub at right center is the Bull & Butcher, 97 Watergate Street, Deptford ?

No. 17 Watergate Street, Deptford.

I found this old photo of No. 17 Watergate Street. Taking a closer look at the door bracket carvings, scroll work and cherubs, one cant help but notice the similarity to the surviving original door brackets in Albury Street.

Monday 2 January 2012

History of Albury Street. Final Part.

History of Albury Street. Part 8

No. 37.
Old buildings in the neighbourhood with a romantic past such as Deptford’s are invariably associated with well known historical figures. It is reputed that Admiral Benbow lived at No. 20 Union Street, north side (Now number 37) and that Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton spent some time at No. 19 (now number 34) the house built by Reyalls and Pearce.

No. 34.

It is unlikely that Admiral John Benbow who died in 1702 ever lived in Union Street. He leased Sayes Court in 1696 for 3 years from John Evelyn, but does not appear to have been there much. His son, John Benbow the Traveller, who died in Deptford in 1708 and in great poverty, might possibly have lived in Union Street. No evidence has been seen to prove or disprove that Lord Nelson stayed there. It is of greater significance that from the first, Union Street was inhabited by men connected with the Royal Navel Dockyard. Lucas’s will mentions houses occupied or in the possession of five sea captains and three shipwrights. Union Street must have been with these people, the most affluent in the parish, in mind. As the mortgage made with John Loving, the block maker, suggests, it was these people who provided some of the capital needed by Lucas. The rate books which go back to 1730 on the south side, and to 1750 on the north side of the street, show that this link with the dockyard was maintained until it closed in 1869. By the middle of the nineteenth century, there are signs that the occupants of some of the houses were of a lower social order. For instances No. 24 Union Street on the north side in 1851, was in multiple occupation, the heads of the three families being a labourer and two sawyers. But even then fourteen occupiers of thirty-two houses were craftsmen employed in the Royal Naval Dock Yard or were master mariners. Perhaps the most striking thing at that time was the number of private schools or academies flourishing in the street, which seem to have occupied no less than four houses.

Albury St, North side still mostly intact.
The last vacant site in Union Street was filled in 1838 when No.7 on the north side was built. Already, No. 21 on the same side had been pulled down and replaced by a pair of houses first rated in 1829, but by-and-large, Union Street remained intact until the end of the nineteenth century. In the last quarter of the century Lucas’s own house on the south east corner and No.2 on the south side were demolished and replaced by a single building facing the High Street, and the public house (King of Prussia) was rebuilt. In 1882, Union Street was renamed as a part of Creek Road and in 1898, became Albury Street loosing its anomalous numbering. The final re-naming of the street was necessitated by the re-aligning of Creek Road to join, at its west end, Evelyn Street, thereby at last obscuring the field pattern shown in the map of 1623, cutting off the north east corner of James Browne’s land. But even up the time of the Great War, Albury Street remained very much as Lucas left it. But by 1921, the south side had been broken and two large gaps appeared in the terrace in the middle and at the west end.

Since the Second World War these gaps have been made wider and recently they coalesced leaving just four houses of the original twenty-three. The north side has been luckier. A few houses at each end of the terrace on this side have be altered or rebuilt and since demolished, but a sizable number of the houses remain These houses are among the few survivors in the whole of London from the first two decades of the eighteenth century and although the gaps in their ranks are to be regretted, the four houses on the south side of the street and the longer series on the north must be seen as one of the most important treasures architecturally and historically among domestic buildings in London.

My thanks A Quiney for allowing me to reproduce his thesis on Union/Albury Street.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Albury Street looking East. 1950's.

Here's a rare photo of Albury Street taken in the 1950's looking at the south side of the street from the direction of Deptford High Street. The square plain looking building just left of center use to be lodgings for the Macmillan nurses. The door way at ground level, just a square opening, use to belong to Pickford's removals. Just out of view on the right hand side was where the King of Prussia Public House use to be. As kids we use to stop and look through the boarding of the houses. Use to frighten the life out of us!

Sunday 30 October 2011

Church Street 1940's? House numbers 172 to 180

On the right of this photo is an ornate building which Michael thinks he identifies as the Unitarian Baptist Chapel.

Can anyone help confirm the identity of the building?

Friday 21 October 2011

The Druid.


Loyally and Lovingly Dedicated by Mil. Punch to  
H.RH. Princess Louise.

If there’s a spirit of the tree, as fair Greek fable tells.
And the green blood of the Dryad is the sap of acorn-bells,
Not death, but higher life, befalls the Nymphs of the oak-trees
That are squared and shaped, and set to frame the .ships that rule the
And they were not doleful Dryads, but exulting ones that spread
Their unseen wings for shelter of Louise's gracious head,
As she faced the nipping March wind, like a daughter of the sea,
To christen the last war-ship that from Deptford launched will be.
Lift high the wine, sweet Princess, and with blood-red baptism crown,
The bows, slow creeping streamwards, as the dog-shores are struckdown:
And, fit name for last heart of oak that from Deptford-slips shall glide, Bid " God speed" to The Druid, as she curt'sies to the tide.
"tis the last launch from Deptford: the old yard has had its day;
Times change and war-ships with them: oak yields to iron's sway:
There are wider slips and statelier sheds, and broader quays elsewhere,
And Wisdom says "concentrate," and Thrift says "save and spare."
Deptford is now a frowsy place, ill-smelling, dank and low,
Where muddy banks are eat away by a foul stream's festering flow:
Where low Vice haunts and flaunts, and flares, fed full on sailors' gains,
And threatening them with surer wreck than all lee-shores or mains.
But the Deptford that we look on, to whose yard we bid good bye,
Was once the Deptford, where, in pride. The Great Harry wont to lie;
Whore, lusty King to lordly ship, from his Greenwich palace near,
Bluff King Hal among his shipwrights showed broad breast and face
of cheer.
With delicate Anne Boleyn upon his brawny arm—
Lamb and Lion,—monarch's majesty, enhancing woman's charm—
To mark, well-pleased, how in his yard the work sped swift along,
From fair keel to tall top-side of swift pink and carrack strong.
And rapid ran the Ravensbourne, a cleanly country stream,
Glassing in its bright bosom, brave attire, and banners' gleam,
When, fene'd in tower of jewelled ruff and tun of pearled robe,
Came good Queen Bess to welcome Captain Drake from round the

'Twas in this very Deptford creek was drawn The Golden Hind,
Fragrant with spices of New Spain, rich with heap'd spoils of Ind,
As to bold Queen bold Buccaneer knelt on his own deck-board
Plain Captain Drake, and rose again Sir Francis from her sword.
'Twas in Deptford yard, from reign to reign, the Petts * their credit
won, Handing their craft of ship-builder from famous sire to son; To Deptford smug Sam Pepys took boat, in Charles's thriftless day, To note "how still our debts do grow, and our fleet do decay."
And hither, from the fair-trimmed yews and hollies of Sayes Court,
Came a burly, bull-necked Muscovite, for labour and disport;
Sturdy swinker, lusty drinker; king with king, and tar with tar,
The Northern Demiurgus, Russ Prometheus, Peter Tzar.
Richer in slips and stores and sheds, there be other yards, I trow,
But none more rich in memories. Old Deptford yard, than thou.
It was well done and worthily of a Princess fair and sweet,
To christen the last war-babe, born of thee into our fleet.
And may The Druid ne'er disgrace the parentage she'owns,
Or mar the glorious memories that spring from Deptford stones:
May she bear her worthy England, and the white hand that but now
Has dashed the wine of baptism upon her shapely bow!

• The Petts wore the hereditary ship-builders of the English navy from the days of James The FiRst to those of James The Second.

Thursday 20 October 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 7.

Thomas Lucas, the Deptford Bricklayer, emerges as considerably more than a local craftsman. He was a man of marked architectural sensibility, surprisingly ready to introduce innovations. It is no wonder that writers on architectural history have considered that, on stylistic grounds, Union Street dates from about 1725, a generation after the street was begun. Lucas was an architectural-entrepreneur, and as such, the prototype of the speculative builder who dominated the rest of the century and much of the next. Speculation in Lucas’s day involved more risk, and this makes it the more remarkable that so much of Union Street was completed. His roll was a double one in that he owned the land on which he built his street as well. In his later career, Thomas Lucas reverted to his original trade, being employed as a bricklayer by the Commission for Fifty New Churches.

This work began in 1713, when he was commanded to build a wall round the newly purchased site for St Paul’s, Deptford. The same month he was appointed ‘to do the bricklayer’s work’ for the church and prices and specifications were drawn up with Lucas providing the bricks. He immediately began by digging out the foundations for the church. In October the Commissioners ordered that ‘Mr Hawksmoor view and measure Mr Lucas’s brickwork at Deptford and report the value thereof’. The bricks do not appear to have met the Commissioners standards and a new contract was drawn up in 1714 with bricks now supplied by them.
St Georges in the Field
St Anne
Payments to Lucas exceeding £3000 were made by the Commissioners from 1713 until 1718 when, the brickwork of the church being completed, Lucas built a wall about the burial ground and built the Minister’s house, again to Archers design. He was paid £658 for the latter work. Lucas never worked on Thomas Archer’s other church, St John, Westminster, but he was employed by the Commissioners for part of the brickwork on St Anne, Limehouse,  St Georges-in-the-East, Wapping and Christchurch, Spitalfields, all of which were designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor. At Spitalfields, not only was he employed in 1725-6 on Christ Church, but he also built the carcass of the Rectory, for which he was paid £298. The Thomas Lucas, bricklayer, described as of St Giles-in-the-Fields, and later as of St Andrew, Holborn, who built a few houses in Soho in the 1720’s and who became bankrupt in 1727 was someone else and conceivably his eldest son of the same name and who predeceased him. No other work by Lucas is known for certain and it is likely that he retired in 1726 to live his last ten years in Deptford in the house on the south-west corner of Union Street. Being ‘ancient and infirm in body’ he wrote his last will in February, 1734/5 and died in January 1735/6.

Part 7 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.    

Sunday 25 September 2011

Street Entrance to Landing 29 Albury Street 1956-7

Another photo discovered showing the entrance to No. 29 Albury Street taken around 1956-7. This must have been taken when we were growing up here but for the love of me I can't remember who took this photo. The original stairway shows the exceptional craftsmanship especially the "Barley Twist" Bannister rails. Top left hand doorway was to my Uncle France's room. France, as we knew him, was an incredible man. His life was filled with trauma yet he always managed to conceal his past. It was only in his later life that he would open up and mention his past experiences. In 1938-9 he was fighting for the Royalists in the Spanish Civil War. During this conflict close members of his family were shot but he managed to escape from Spain by swimming from the Spanish coast to Gibraltar, an extraordinary feat in its self. He came to England on a cargo boat which docked at Deptford. After walking the streets looking for shelter on a very wet and stormy night he knocked the door of No. 29. My Gran took pity on him a took him in. From that day forward he was always known as Uncle France to us. He was a very kind and gentle man. His eyes were always full of warmth and love. He had a way with songbirds, especially canaries. They would have no fear of him when he was in the aviary. They would all settle on him quite content to feed from his hand and lips. With hindsight he was just like Frances of Assisi I suppose. A wonderful man. I will never forget him.

Monday 5 September 2011

Sunday 4 September 2011

29 & 31 Albury Street. Taken Mid 1950's

Here's a picture of Albury Street that was sent to me last week. It's just as I remember it and indeed my nan must have been in residence then. We use to use the lamp post on the left of the photo as a wicket for our games of street cricket. The roof window is shown open and as kids we use to access the roof area without Nan, Grandad knowing.
Another observation...look closely at the original "Lions" head door-knocker on No. 29 (Left). This type of knocker has been reproduced many times but the original one as shown here weighed a ton and when struck sounded like thunder through the house!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

History of Albury Street. Part 6.

At the time of his death, Thomas Lucas still owned the land although mortgaged on which thirty-one houses had been built. His requirements for capital had been so great that he commanded his executors to sell three houses on the North-side of the Union Street at its east end in order to repay mortgages on them and on his other property ‘as far as that is possible’. In the event, they were not able to repay all the mortgages immediately, and one, as has been said, was not paid until 1748.

With all the means at his disposal for raising capital, Thomas Lucas still did not complete Union Street with an unbroken terrace running down both sides of the street from end to end. Apart from at least one gap on the north side, the east end was taken up by back yards of houses fronting Church Street. Whether this failure to complete the two terraces was through lack of capital or because of the demand for houses of this type in Deptford had been satisfied by what Lucas had already built is not known.

How Thomas Lucas financed the development of Union Street is interesting in a wider context. It appears that prices fluctuated considerably as the example of the house built by Ryalls and Pearce and other later transactions show. These transaction affecting Union Street, and the way its builders were paid in materials purchased, provide examples of the results of an only partly accepted money economy. Capital had its value but commodities were as equally acceptable as cash for payment. Bricks had a more consistent value than money, which was often in short supply.

Although it seems that Union Street was not finished at its east end, it is of great significance both locally and more generally in the context of the whole of London. Almost certainly Union Street was the first newly-planned street of brick terrace houses built to an overall pattern and laid out as a speculative development in Deptford. Beforehand, only the larger individual houses there were brick built and most streets were lined with fairly haphazard rows of timber structures. Again, it is almost certain that there were no other developments similar to Union Street in Deptford during the first half of the eighteenth century, or ever again on a comparatively grand scale.

What Thomas Lucas built before Union Street is not known but he must have learnt his skills in the metropolis, not in Deptford. Terraced house planning had become standardised by the eighteenth century with two rooms to a floor, one at the back and one at the front with a staircase at one side. In Union Street all but the wider houses and a single smaller house had this plan. The front walls of the houses were built of ‘grey’ stocks enriched with bright red brick surrounds to the openings and this again was a feature of the metropolis.

The fronts were terminated by parapets capped in stone, not with wooden eaves cornices which survived well into the eighteenth century. They were prescribed by the Building Act of 1707, and though the act did not apply as far from the centre of London as Deptford, it is clear that whether Lucas began building in 1705 or 1707, by employing parapets, he brought to Deptford the newest building style. 

Building Act 1707. It was this pattern that fueled the Great Fire of London in 1666, which wiped out 80% of the city. That disaster led to the London Building Act of 1667, the first to provide for surveyors to enforce its regulations. It laid down that all houses were to be built in brick or stone. The number of storeys and width of walls were carefully specified. Streets should be wide enough to act as a fire break. This first Act applied to the walled City of London. The Building Acts of 1707 and 1709 extended that control to Westminster. They added a prohibition on timber cornices and required brick parapets to rise two and half feet above the garret floor. A comprehensive Act in 1774 covered the whole built-up area. Its detailed set of regulations included the stipulation that doors and windows should be recessed at least four inches from the front of the building.

Similarly with the windows: in Union Street, although some of the rear windows have original casements, the front windows seem always to have had sashes and these to were then a new fashion. The Heads to the basement and first floor windows are cambered. There are sound structural reasons for this where the basement is concerned but the reasons for using cambered heads to the upper storey is aesthetic: to provide variety from the ground storey windows which have straight heads. Cambered heads are a feature which became popular in the second decade of the eighteenth century, and as in his choice of sashes which again only became popular during the reign of Queen Anne, it is clear Thomas Lucas was fully conversant with the latest architectural style and was willing to apply in Deptford what one might have expected to see only in the City, Holborn and Westminster. Another building act, again only applying to the centre of London, was passed in 1709. It attacked flush frames and ruled that frames should be set back 4 inches behind the face of the brickwork. 

Pre 1709                Post 1709
 These regulations seem to have been less effective than the earlier one regulating cornices. It is not clear that the changes in style which took place in Queen Anne’s reign were so much the result of these acts as a result of a desire for aesthetic change. Lucas employed flush frames, which, on a flat wall, do not give so great an appearance of solidity as recessed frames. That aesthetic quality he achieved in a different way by providing recessed panels some six courses deep immediately below the sills of the windows on both storeys and again above heads of the windows of the upper storey extending ten courses right to the parapet, and he gave each house a blank window panel on the upper storey above the door opening.

So its front elevation was clearly divided by well articulated verticals and horizontals. The verticals edge in red brick marked the solid wall between the openings, and the horizontals marked the storey divisions. The fronts of the houses in Union Street are, in their modest way, Baroque in style rather than the Palladian of a later generation, where the brickwork is flat and the articulation achieved by recessed window openings of carefully graded heights to each storey.  This Baroque sensibility distinguishes the Union Street facades from these developed after the Great Fire which have flat walls of red brick, with squarer, casement windows, all dominated by heavy, and often luxuriously carved eaves cornices. In Union Street luxurious carving was reserved for the brackets of the door-hoods, which seem earlier in style than the houses to which they are attached.     

Part 6 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.