SE15: Something’s a “Rye”

SE15 is Peckham, not the most attractive inner suburb but somewhere which has some interesting things to see nonetheless.

We start our walk at Peckham Post Office which is at 121 – 125 Peckham High Street.

Fascinating fact: According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, there was once a cinema here. The Gem Picture Playhouse was opened in late 1908 or early 1909. But it had a brief life – closing in the Summer of 1916, so this is way beyond the memory of anyone living today.

Turn left out of the Post Office and head along the High Street.

Our first stop is just after Marmont Road

Stop 1: Gaumont House

IMG_2952

IMG_2956

Now as the name suggests this was also the site of a cinema.

In fact, according to Cinema Treasures, there was a theatre here first. This was the Crown Theatre opened in October 1898 as a music hall. It was soon renamed Peckham Hippodrome Theatre, becoming a variety theatre. But in July 1911, it became a full time cinema, known as the Hippodrome Picture Palace. It was taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in November 1926, who closed it in December 1928 in order to use the site for a larger purpose built cinema.

The new cinema opened in February 1932 as the Gaumont Palace. It was built at a diagonal angle to the site, with the entrance on the corner of Peckham High Street and Marmont Road and seated some 2,500.

The Gaumont closed as a cinema in January 1961 and was the first Rank Organisation cinema to be converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club, opening in May 1961.

Bingo continued until 1998. The building was demolished in the summer of 2002, and a block of flats ‘Gaumont House’ was built on the site, with commercial space on the ground floor, which is today used by the NHS.

Return along the High Street and just past the Post Office you will see a small side street called Mission Place. Go down here to see our next stop which is just on the right

Stop 2: Orchard Mission

Peckham was a poor area back in the 19th century as can be deduced from this next stop.

IMG_2948

This building has a plaque announcing ‘Orchard Mission Founded 1887’ with the intertwined initials of the Ragged School Union.

IMG_2945

This is an unusual name for a Mission. The attached link

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/orchard-mission/4592566220

has the following by way of explanation:

“At the end of the 19th century, the street was known as Blue Anchor Lane and extended north to Goldsmith’s Road. At the northern end were a row of houses and gardens known as The Orchard, probably built on land that had once been an orchard.  The Mission was founded in 1887 by a group of evangelical young men who held open air services in the warm summer months, known as Flower Services, but as the weather got cooler, a four room cottage was rented.  This may have been in one of the houses in The Orchard, giving rise to the name of the Mission.”

Although the Mission was founded in the 1880s, this actual building is later opening in 1906.

They seemed to have concern about encroachment on their property, judging by the other stone.

IMG_2947

Not sure when the street got renamed Mission Place or what exactly the building is used for today.

Now return to the High Street and turn right. Our next stop is just at the next junction (Peckham Hill Street)

Stop 3: Manze’s Pie and Mash shop, Number 105 Peckham High Street

Here we have another of those few surviving pie and mash shops.

IMG_2941

Manze seems to be a common name for these shops. We saw one in Walthamstow and there is one in Deptford but they were started by different members of the family and have since their separate ways.

The story of this one is explained on this link

http://manze.co.uk/index.php?app=gbu0&ns=display&ref=splash&sid=z0ito48o35y0lt11xnm14dtzn7h6446a

as follows:

“Michele Manze arrived in Britain from a picturesque hillside village called Ravello in Southern Italy. His family made the long trek over in 1878, when Michele was just 3 years old.

The Manze family settled in Bermondsey and began trading as ice-merchants, turning later to ice-cream makers. Realising the need for more substantial food in post-Victorian London, Michele branched out into the pie, mash & eels trade.

The first shop to bear his name opened in 1902, shortly after his marriage to Ada Poole, whose first husband, Edward Poole, had died in 1891. This shop was at 87 Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey. He went on to open his second shop at 250 Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey in 1908, and two further shops in Poplar, which were lost during World War Two. His Fifth and final shop at 105 Peckham High Street was opened in 1927.

Several of Michele’s brothers followed his lead, and by 1930 there were a total of 14 pie, mash & eel shops in London bearing the Manze name. Many of these shops have since closed down or been taken over.

Michele Manze died in 1932 and his son, Lionel, took over the running of the two surviving shops – Tower Bridge Road and Peckham High Street. In 1985, the shop at Peckham was burnt down during the riots in the area. A long legal battle ensued and Lionel, sadly, did not live long enough to see the outcome. He died in 1988, whereupon his three sons, Graham, Geoff and Richard inherited not only Tower Bridge shop, but also the legal battle. They survived on the business of Tower Bridge Road until they were able to re-build and re-open the Peckham shop in 1990, although the legal battle did not conclude until 1995.”

IMG_2943

There is a Southwark Borough blue plaque but curiously it is inside the shop.

IMG_2942

Now head along Peckham Hill Street for a short distance and soon on the left you will see our next stop along a pedestrian way.

Stop 4: Peckham Library

The newish building on the right is Peckham Library. It was designed by Alsop and Störmer and won the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2000. It is a striking building but its impact is rather spoilt by the roof that has been put over part of the square.

IMG_2933

IMG_2931

This little square was built on the end basin of the Grand Surrey Canal which ran from here (and also from Camberwell) to the Thames. Originally the canal was to extend further into Surrey but it only reached Camberwell in 1810 and Peckham in 1826. By the 1830 railways were seen as the way forward and indeed the route of the nearby Croydon Canal was used by a railway as we saw in SE4.

Interestingly the basin here continued mainly for movement of timber until well into the 20th century. But it went into terminal decline after the Second World War and it seems it was closed completely by the early 1970s.

But you can follow the line of the former canal north from here along a linear park.

You can get a nice view of the Shard from here.

IMG_2937

Head across the open space in front of the library and you will be back at the High Street. turn right and go a little way along past the junctions of Rye Lane, Bellenden Road and Collyer Place. Our next stop is on the left.

Stop 5: Numbers 20 – 26 Peckham High Street

We are stopping by this uninspiring commercial building because this was the site of another big cinema.

IMG_2967

This was the Odeon and like the Gaumnont along the road, it had been built on the site of a previous place of entertainment. The one here was the Queen’s Hall, later Queen’s Picture Theatre which dated from 1914. This had been purchased by Odeon and was closed at the end of 1937 to be demolished. The new Odeon Theatre seating 2,110 opened in July 1938.

Designed by noted cinema architect, Andrew Mather, the facade was unusual. It was faced in cream glass panels, with horizontal green glazed bands and a central recess over the entrance, which had four free standing pillars which originally supported the Odeon name sign. The four free standing pillars were removed from the facade in the 1960s.

In January 1974, it was converted into a triple screen cinema. The Odeon was taken over by an independent operator in November 1981 and renamed Ace Cinema. That lasted just over two years, closing in December 1983. The cinema was demolished in May 1985. The office block built on the site dates from 2008.

Now return along the High Street and our next stop is ahead on the right at the junction of Rye Lane.

Stop 6: Former Jones and Higgins Department store and Aylesham Centre

IMG_2927

This striking corner building with its clock turret is all that is left of a department store called “Jones and Higgins”. The store opened in Rye Lane in 1867 and gradually expanded to become a major presence. It seems to have been an independent store and somehow managed to survive until around 1980. But more information than that I have struggled to find.

IMG_2922

Next door is the Aylesham Centre which was built on part of the site of the store. The centre seeks to impress with its entrance but it is quite small with just one arcade of shops on a single level. Most of it is taken up by a branch of Morrisons supermarket.

Why this is called the Aylesham Centre I have no idea. Maybe it has something to do with the village of Aylesham, in Kent. This was established in 1926 to house miners working in the East Kent coal mines. It seems odd to think there were coal mines in Kent but there were. Coal was discovered in the 1890s and was mined here until the 1980s.

Keep going along Rye Lane, past Primark and the Rye Lane chapel. Just before the railway bridge look out for a courtyard on the left.

Peckham may have lost its impressive 1930s super cinemas, but it does have a working cinema here in a building which had previously been a Sainsbury’s supermarket

IMG_2971

This originally opened as the Premier Cinema in September 1994. However they went bust in 2003 and another independent operator reopened it in May 2003 as the Peckham Multiplex. It was renamed PeckhamPlex in December 2015 and I believe it is still independently run. Its long term future was in doubt because of redevelopment plans but it seems that the cinema is not about to disappear just yet.

http://www.peckhamplex.london/news/londons-most-creative-car-park-set-to-stay-in-heart-of-peckham

Keep going along Rye Lane. Our next stop is just after the first railway bridge.

Stop 7: Peckham Rye station

Sitting between the two railway bridges over Rye Lane, on the right you will see this rather messy building. But go down that arcade to see our next stop, Peckham Rye station.

IMG_2977

You may be surprised to learn, this is listed as one of Simon Jenkins 100 best railway stations in Britain. (It is a great book by the way, I got a copy for Christmas)

But once you get to it, Peckham Rye station is rather grand. As Simon Jenkins says:

“Peckham Rye station is a phoenix still hiding in its ashes. It lurks behind a near derelict shopping arcade…The local council has long been intending to restore the area in front of the building but has yet to do so. When it does, the old facade should emerge in all its Victorian glory.”

In the meantime the glory explodes in front of you as you emerge from the tatty arcade.

IMG_2915

It is an odd station because it is in effect two stations side by side on different brick viaducts. One side was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in December 1865 and the other by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway in August 1866.

But between the two lines they shared a single main building. It was designed by Charles Henry Driver (1832–1900) who was the architect of Abbey Mills and Crossness pumping stations as well as being responsible for Denmark Hill and Battersea Park stations on the line in from here to Victoria.

If you go up to the platforms, they are rather a disappointment, and not at all conducive to a good interchange station.

IMG_2909

IMG_2905

Now return to the street and turn right. Go under the second railway bridge and go down a little alley way on the left.

IMG_3033

Stop 8: Bussey building

George Gibson Bussey (1829–89), born in Ripon, Yorkshire, was a prolific inventor and developer of sports and leisure equipment, including pneumatic rifles, tennis racquets, clay pigeon machines. He also designed furniture that converted into a billiard table!

Bussey moved his company to Peckham in around 1870. His firm’s business was described as “Firearms, Ammunition & Shooting”. The building here was called the Museum Works and the building had a rifle range at the rear extending along the side of the railway embankment for 150 yards.

More about the history of the building at:

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/the-bussey-building/4588614792

By the early 21st century, the building was used as multi-occupier artist and design studios and small industries. In 2007 it was earmarked to be demolished and the site set to become a tram depot for the proposed cross river tram service from Camden to Peckham and Brixton. But that was cancelled by incoming Mayor Boris Johnson in 2008 and shows no sign of being revived, so I guess the site is safe for now.

Now return to the street and turn left. Our next stop is just here on the left.

Stop 9: former Holdrons department store

IMG_2979

This building was Holdrons department store.

IMG_2982

Henry Holdron began trading in Rye Lane around 1882 and over the years the store grew. In the 1930s this rather magnificent building was put up.

Holdrons became part of the Selfridges subsidiary, Selfridge Provincial Stores, and then it was briefly owned by John Lewis being one of 15 shops acquired from Selfridges in 1940. It was closed in 1948. Long before the other big names closed their shops here.

Most of the old store is now taken up by Khan’s Bargain, a sort of low rent Woolworths if that is possible. The name Holdrons lives on in the Holdrons Arcade where there are around 20 small business in a kind of corridor – arcade is perhaps too grand a word for their setting.

Now a little further along Rye Lane, you will see a side street called Choumert Road. Go down here. Past the market area on your right you will come across a rather nice little terrace of 19th century cottages. This is our next stop.

Stop 10: Girdlers Cottages

 

IMG_2991

IMG_2997

Girdlers Cottages were built in 1852 as almshouses by the Palyn Charity, but are now owned privately.

As we have found in other places, the various City Livery Companies owned and managed housing around London. As one might guess this group had a connection to the Girdlers Company.

According to their website:

“The Company, which was involved with the making of girdles (or belts), received its Letters Patent from Edward III in 1327. While it no longer practises its craft – although it has the honour of presenting the girdle and stole worn by the Sovereign at each coronation – it remains a Company closely connected with the government and Livery Companies of the City of London, the fellowship of its members and various charitable works.”

“The Girdlers’ almshouses owe their existence to bequests by Past Masters Cuthbert Beeston (1582) and George Palyn (1610). Beeston’s property was sold in the 1830s and the money used to build almshouses in Peckham. Palyn’s almshouses were originally built in Finsbury but replaced by further almshouses in Peckham in 1852. Altogether these were on separate sites in Consort Road, Montpelier Road and Choumert Grove, but following a number of amalgamations and rebuildings, the almshouses have been consolidated on the Consort Road site since 1980, where 17 units provide accommodation for over 20 residents.”

More info at:

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/girdlers-cottages/4588956439

Retrace your steps to the Rye Lane and turn right.

We will pass the site of the former Tower cinema – all that is left is this tower which forms an entrance to a car park.

IMG_2984

More about this cinema – and the nearby Tower Annex at the wonderful Cinema Treasures site:

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/26454

Keep walking along Rye Lane and our next stop is at the junction as the road veers to the right.

Stop 11: Co-operative House

This is a modern building called Co-operative House.

IMG_3010

But look to the right and you will see three dates: 1868, 1932 and 2008

IMG_3011

You may recall from our wander round SE13 Lewisham that there was a former Co-op store there which had two dates on it – the first being 1868 which is the date of the formation of the society which went on to become the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society. The other was 1933 the date of that building. Here in SE15 we have 1932, so I guess that is the date of the Co-op store which stood here. And 2008 is the date of the current building.

Not entirely surprising that there is no longer a major store here given the decline of Peckham as a shopping street and the fact we are right at the end. But the strip we have walked from the High Street to here must have been quite an impressive centre in its heyday.

Keep walking along the main road.

Stop 12: Number 8 Phillips Walk

As you go down the main road, it opens out with a green which is the start of Peckham Rye. It turns out this was common land. And it is still undeveloped today as in 1868 the vestry of Camberwell St Giles bought the Rye to keep it as common land.

You will see a side street to the left, called Philips Walk. Go down there and our final stop is soon on the right – at Number 8.

IMG_3018

Here we have another Southwark Borough blue plaque. this time commemorating engineer and designer, Edward Turner (1901 – 1973)

IMG_3021

Turner was one of the most important players in the development of designs for motorcycle engines and later also developed a version of the Daimler V8 engine for cars.

He lived here because this was next door to his father’s bottle brush factory. The plaque was unveiled by his son Edward Junior on 25 October 2009. His two other children were present.

Here is an interesting piece about Turner’s story and his place in motorcycle history.

http://sumpmagazine.com/edward-turner-plaque.htm

We have now reached the end of our SE15 walk. Peckham has some interesting things in particular some ghosts of former glory as a major shopping area. But it is shabby and sadly run down and it is hard to see how it is going to change anytime soon.

For your onward travel it is probably best to retrace your steps along the main road to Peckham Rye station where there are plenty of trains, or else you can pick up one of the numerous buses that serve Peckham.

SE14: A Place called Hatcham

SE14 is New Cross. But this area was not always known as New Cross. It was once called Hatcham and this name does still pop up in places as we will see – though no one would call the area Hatcham now.

We start our walk at New Cross Post Office which is at 199 – 205 New Cross Road. Turn left out of the Post Office and our first stop is just ahead on the right.

Stop 1: New Cross Bus Garage

IMG_2704

IMG_2709

This is possibly the largest bus garage in London. There is apparently space for over 300 buses, although the garage has never been even close to its capacity due to the close proximity of other garages. Because of this, it has sometimes been used to store surplus vehicles.

New Cross Bus Garage was originally a tram depot which opened in 1906. In fact London’s last tram route ran from here in July 1952. Here is a great little piece from Pathe news.

In 1952 with the trams withdrawn, the depot was converted into a bus garage.

Keep walking along the main road and our next stop is in the terrace on the left

Stop 2: two plaques in quick succession

Surprisingly there are two commemorative plaques along here a few doors from each other.

First up is a Blue Plaque for John Tallis (1816-1876) at 233 New Cross Road.

IMG_2710

The plaque erected in 1978 by Greater London Council ,

IMG_2713

His company, John Tallis and Company, published views, maps and atlases in London from about 1838 to 1851. He also produced an Illustrated World Atlas at the time of the 1851 Great Exhibition.

Then just a bit further along, just before the corner with Nettleton Road, is a second plaque. This one is a Lewisham Borough plaque and is at number 241 New Cross Road

IMG_2714

Sir Barnes Wallis (1887 – 1979), pioneer of aircraft design, lived here from 1892 to 1909

IMG_2717

He is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb used by the Royal Air Force in Operation Chastise. This was an,attack on the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II. It was immortalised in the 1955 film The Dam Busters with Wallis being played by Michael Redgrave.

Keep walking along the main road and cross when convenient. You will want to go down a side street called Jerningham Road. Here is our first sign of Hatcham.

Stop 3: Haberdashers Aske’s Hatcham Academy

There is a big blue sign at the corner announcing the name of our next stop but we actually want to go the road a bit to the entrance.

IMG_2695

We came across the site of another Haberdashers Aske’s School when we were in NW2. As I explained there. Robert Aske left the Haberdasher’s Company  £20,000 in 1690 to set up a hospital and home for 20 elderly men and a school for 20 boys at Hoxton

The school really took off in the 19th century. There was reorganisation in 1873 and separate boys and girls schools were established at Hoxton and at Hatcham in south east London. And what we have here was originally the Girls school of the south London branch. The main building here dates from 1891.

The schools north and south of the river went on different paths, with the south London ones staying within the local authority sector and latterly becoming an academy.

IMG_2697

Go down the side street and if you look carefully, you will see a plaque by the black gateway.

IMG_2699

Well this is a surprise – a plaque to the famous Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812 – 1889). He moved here after he had become well known as a poet.

It was in 1845 whilst living here that he met fellow poet Elizabeth Barrett, who was somewhat more famous than him at the time. She lived as a semi-invalid in her father’s house in Wimpole Street, London. They began regularly corresponding and gradually a romance developed between them, leading to their marriage and a move to Italy (for Elizabeth’s health) in September 1846. The couple never lived in England again.

Fascinating fact: Browning’s voice was recorded in April 1889 on an Edison wax cylinder. He was reciting part of his poem “How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix”. But he forgot the words!

This is probably the earliest recording of a famous British person and you can hear it on this YouTube link:

Return to the main road and turn right. Our next stop is just across the road.

Stop 4: New Cross Gate station

IMG_2694

This first station here was opened by the London and Croydon Railway in June 1839. The London and Brighton railway started running through here in 1841 and the two companies merged to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1846.

The station has been rebuilt a number of times. It was moved to the north in 1847 but local pressure apparently caused the railway company to rebuilt it on the original site in 1849. It was again rebuilt in 1858 to allow for the quadrupling of the Brighton Main Line. Further rebuilding was undertaken in 1869 what became known as the East London line opened from New Cross to Whitechapel and Liverpool Street.

More recently it has been rebuilt to create step free access to the platform. This has been done by building a new bridge to serve the platforms.

IMG_2724

There is a rather good view back towards the City from here. you can also see the SELCHP waste incineration plant chimney straight ahead.

IMG_2721

This plant is actually in SE14 but is a bit far to walk. SELCHP by the way stands for South East London Combined Heat and Power. It is a big energy from waste incineration plant designed to generate both heat and electricity. It opened in 1994.

The station was called New Cross until the formation of the Southern Railway in 1923. The newly formed railway found they had two station named New Cross in close proximity (we shall see the other shortly), so in July 1923 they renamed the Brighton line station, New Cross Gate. It is perhaps a passing reference to the fact that this was near a tollgate on  the New Cross turnpike which operated in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Our next stop is along the main road just beyond the corner with Goodwood Road on the left.

Stop 5: Former Woolworth’s store, Numbers 277-281 New Cross Road

Today there is a 1950s row of shops mostly taken up by Iceland but once this was a Woolworth’s store. And the reason why this is a 1950s building is obvious when you read the Lewisham borough plaque to the left of the entrance to Iceland.

IMG_2813

IMG_2812

We saw in SE13 a plaque to the V1 rocket which hit Lewisham Marks and Spencer in July 1944. Here we have a plaque to those who died and were injured in a V2 rocket attack in November. This was one of the largest, if not the largest, loss of civilian life in Britain during the war.

There is a good piece on the Woolworth Museum site:

http://www.woolworthsmuseum.co.uk/1940s-remembernewcross.htm

Now cross the main road at the crossing and turn back to the side street, which is called St James’s. You will see all the buildings immediately round here are connected to Goldsmiths College.

IMG_2734

IMG_2733

We are going to focus on a couple. But first a bit about Goldsmiths’.

As the name suggest it has its origins in the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, another of the City Livery Companies. The Company, which originates from the twelfth century, received a Royal Charter in 1327 and ranks fifth in the order of precedence of City Livery Companies. They opened the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute in 1891 in a former school which we shall see shortly. This became part of the University of London in 1904 and is now Goldsmiths, University of London. They have colonised a large chunk of New Cross and created a campus from a number of disparate buildings.

Now go down St James’s to the end and you will see our next stop, straight ahead

Stop 6: St James, Hatcham

IMG_2754

Now part of Goldsmiths, this was once the church of St James, Hatcham. Architectural guru, Pevsner describes this building as “A dull ragstone building notable only for its ambitious plan.”

It was built in the early 1850s and was converted to the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in the 1970s. Laban moved out to purpose built premises in Deptford in 2002 and the space is now used by Goldsmiths. Laban merged with Trinity College of Music in 2005 to form Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

The replacement church is just next door to the right.

IMG_2755

Pevsner is silent about this building.

Now return to the main road and turn right. Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 7: Former Deptford Town Hall

The newly created Deptford Borough Council built this rather lovely Town Hall not in Deptford as might have been expected but here in New Cross. It is a flamboyant Edwardian Baroque style completed in 1905.

IMG_2739

As befits a location with strong naval traditions, there are lots of nautical references in the carvings and metal work.

IMG_2745

IMG_2746

There is also a sailing ship weathervane on the clock turret.

IMG_2747

This is now also part of the Goldsmiths campus.

Keep walking along the main road. Our next stop is on the right at the corner (The side street is called Laurie Grove).

Stop 8: New Cross House

IMG_2767

New Cross is believed to have taken its name from a coaching house originally known as the Golden Cross, which stood close to the current New Cross House pub. According to the wonderful London Encyclopaedia, the diarist John Evelyn wrote how he accompanied Lord Berkeley in his carriage from Evelyn’s home, Sayes Court, through “New Crosse” on their way to Dover, “my lord being bound for Paris as ambassador with a retinue of three coaches, three wagons and 40 horses”. This was in the 1670s.

IMG_2769

According the pub website: “The New Cross House has been a staple of the South-East London community for literally hundreds of years. So many years in fact, that the area itself was named after the pub. Also known as Goldsmiths Tavern, it has played host to many well-known bands, comedians, DJ’s and artists. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer held their first ever show together upstairs in our function space and the legendary spoken-word artist and political activist, Gil Scott Heron performed here in the 90s.”

Our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 9: Venue night club

IMG_2779

Today this building hosts a nightclub called The Venue. But this site has a long history as a place of entertainment. According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it opened as the New Cross Super Kinema in 1925, with a cinema on the ground floor and the New Cross Palais de Danse above, as well as a cafe. The name was shortened to New Cross Kinema from 1927, the plain Kinema in 1948, and finally Gaumont in 1950. It closed in August 1960, and remained derelict for some time.

Much of the building was demolished but the old dance hall became a club which took the name of The Venue in the late 1980s. The remaining part of the ground floor became a supermarket and then a furniture store. At some point the exterior was painted black, but in 2006 the building exterior was restored and cleaned to reveal the original tiling.

The Venue Nightclub now occupies the whole building.

Ahead the road forks. Take the right hand road which is Lewisham Way. You will pass a rather grand building on the right – another bit of Goldsmiths.

IMG_2788

This building was originally the Royal Naval School built in 1843 and designed by architect John Shaw Jr to house “the sons of impecunious naval officers. The school relocated further south-east to Mottingham in 1889, and the building was bought by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who opened the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Technical and Recreative Institute here in 1891. And as I have already explained, this became part of the University of London in 1904 and is now Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Goldsmiths’ connection can be seen in the crest with the Latin motto of the Goldsmiths Company: Justitia Virtutum Regina which translates as Justice is Queen of Virtues.

IMG_2786

It is good to see how Goldsmiths have managed to incorporate a number of New Cross’s old buildings into its campus.

Take a left down Parkfield Road and then left again into Amersham Road. then right at New Cross Road. You will see a railway bridge ahead and our next stop is just here.

Stop 10: New Cross Station

IMG_2791

The railway first came through here in 1839 but it was not until 1850 that the station was opened on this site. It was called New Cross & Naval School but was renamed plain old New Cross in 1854. The original station building was on the road bridge but was demolished in the 1970s to be replaced by a station building in the side street. This was in turn replaced in the 1980s and more recently the station has been given step free access.

IMG_2795

One quirk of this station is that the platforms are lettered not numbered, so they go Platforms A to D rather than 1 to 4.. This is said to be to avoid confusion with the nearby New Cross Gate station. There are actually two other stations in London which have lettered platforms. Waterloo East has A to D to avoid confusion with the much larger Waterloo main line station. and St Pancras International which has platforms A and B, for the Thameslink trains. This was apparently a hangover from the now closed Kings Cross Thameslink station which had platforms A and B to avoid confusion with the rest of the Kings Cross station.

Keep walking along New Cross Road, and you will soon reach our next stop on the left.

Stop 11: Number 439 New Cross Road 

Number 439 has a blue plaque, but not an English Heritage one.

IMG_2803

This plaque is credited to the Nubian Jak Community Trust and Lewisham Borough Council. The Nubian Jak Community Trust was set up by Jak Beula, who initiated a scheme to commemorate historic black figures in 2004, starting with a plaque for Bob Marley in Camden. Since then, the organisation has erected over 15 plaques around the UK. We saw one to Tottenham MP, Bernie Grant, in N15.

IMG_2802

This one commemorates a terrible fire that occurred during a party at a house in New Cross, south-east London, in the early hours of Sunday 18 January 1981. The blaze killed thirteen young people aged between 14 and 22, and one survivor committed suicide two years later.

No one has ever been charged in connection to the fire, which forensic science subsequently established was started from inside the house, either by accident or deliberately.

We saw a plaque at the council offices in Catford but this is where the fire actually happened.

Now our final stop is a little further along the main road.

Stop 12: Numbers 483 – 485 New Cross Road (Site of Empire theatre)

This new building has been built on the site of a variety theatre

IMG_2807

The Empire Theatre of Varieties was designed by noted theatre architect Frank Matcham, it opened in July 1899. It was located on the boundary of Deptford and New Cross. Initially it was called the Deptford Empire Theatre of Varieties but for most of its life it was referred to as the New Cross Empire Theatre.

New Cross Empire one of the most popular of London’s suburban variety theatres. Many stars appeared here including Old Mother Riley, Max Miller and Tessie O’Shea. Todd Slaughter came several times with his melodramas such as “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, “Maria Marten, the Murder in the Red Barn” and “Jack the Ripper”.

The New Cross Empire Theatre closed in July 1954. The theatre then became a location film set for three British made films; one of which was the film version of Ivor Novello’s “King’s Rhapsody”,

The building was demolished in 1958 and replaced by a petrol station which in turn has been replaced by this apartment building.

There is a wonderfully detailed piece on the Arthur Lloyd site: http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/NewCross.htm#empire

This also covers the Venue, which we saw just up the road, as well as another theatre further down New Cross Road.

We are now at the end of our SE14 walk. It is interesting how this area was shaped by roads and railways and how the original name got lost. It is also fascinating to see how Goldsmiths’ has created a campus and incorporated some of New Cross’s historic buildings.

We are almost in Deptford. For onward travel, you can keep walking along the main road to Deptford Bridge DLR station or turn back to New Cross or even New Cross Gate stations.