SE25: Once the Jolly Sailor …

SE25 is South Norwood, although if you were to ask most people round here they would probably call the area Norwood Junction after the main station here.

We start our walk at South Norwood Post Office which is 85 -87 High Street inside a Nisa convenience store.

Now turn right out of the shop and our first stop is just a little way along the High Street. It is the pub at the corner with Portland Road.

Stop 1: The Jolly Sailor

The Jolly Sailor looks like a fairly ordinary pub that has seen better days.

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But down on the pavement in the High Street. There is a map

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This has not weathered well but at the top it says this is an “1836 map depicting the road layout buildings and canal.”

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This highlights how things were around here around the time of the closure of the Croydon Canal which had opened in 1809. So it was before the canal was filled in and much of the alignment used for the London and Croydon Railway which opened in 1839

Just around the corner is a local blue plaque to note that this is the site of the Jolly Sailor Inn – South Norwood’s first public building. Note the date is just after the opening of the canal.

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And I should have added that when the railway first came through here the local station was called “The Jolly Sailor”.

Now cross over the High Street and head along South Norwood Hill which is the left turn from the High Street at this cross roads. Our next stop is soon on the right hand side.

Stop 2: Stanley Halls

There is quite a jumble of early 1900s buildings here on the right hand side of the road.

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First you get to Stanley Halls which is a Grade II listed complex of Edwardian buildings built in 1904-11. The Halls include an art gallery, theatre hall and assembly rooms. The building was donated and designed for the people of South Norwood by William Ford Robinson Stanley (1829-1909), a prominent local inventor, industrialist and philanthropist.

The venue is managed The Stanley People’s Initiative, a charity established by the local community to re-open, manage, improve and restore Stanley Halls.

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In the first porchway you see, there is an English Heritage plaque to W F R Stanley.

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Stanley was largely self-taught. He dedicated Sunday to learning; starting with architecture and theology and moving on to English, astronomy, geology, chemistry, mathematics and French.

In 1854 he set up his own business in Holborn making mathematical and drawing instruments. He invented the t-square, the panoptic stereoscope and a straight line dividing machine. This apparently won first prize in the International Exhibition of 1862 and guaranteed his fortune.

Stanley moved his factory to South Norwood in the mid 1870s. It operated here until 1926 when the company moved to New Eltham. The business survived until 1999 when it went bust.

Interestingly though the Stanley knife is not one of William Stanley’s inventions, nor one of the products made by W F R Stanley’s company. The Stanley knife comes from an american company which for many years was called The Stanley Works. This had been formed by a merger of Stanley’s Bolt Manufactory, founded by Frederick Trent Stanley in 1843, and the Stanley Rule and Level Company, founded by Frederick’s cousin, Henry Stanley, in 1857.

Next door to the Halls is the Trade School. Originally a technical school for 12 – 15 year olds, today it is part of a Harris Academy.

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Architectural commentator Pevsner describes the halls and School as “the most memorable buildings in South Norwood … a vigorously eclectic group in red brick and stone with two towers and a series of gabled roof lines adorned with the extraordinary motif of copper flowers in flower pots…The rather ponderous free style (miles away from contemporary Arts and Crafts) relies partly on debased Italianate detail, with long oval panels and pink marble columns as recurrent motifs, but also includes eccentricities such as elliptical arches.”

Pevsner does not quite say this is terrible architecture, nor that it is so bad, it is good. I guess the sub text is basically this not bad for an amateur who does not know what he is doing.

Now go back to the cross roads and keep straight on. This is Portland Road. Go under the railway bridge and look back to the parapet to your left.

Stop 3: The London to Croydon Atmospheric railway

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Here you will see a local blue plaque, noting the connection with a strange little footnote in railway history – the Atmospheric Railway. We heard about this in Forest Hill.

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The plaque notes that this is near the location of Norwood Pumping Station. These railways had a continuous pipe located centrally between the rails and pumping stations were used to create a vacuum in the pipes. A piston extended downwards from the trains into a slit in the pipe, with trains blown towards the pumping station by atmospheric pressure. The pumping station here was apparently in a Gothic style, with a very tall ornate tower that served both as a chimney and as an exhaust vent for air pumped from the propulsion tube.

One of the issues with the atmospheric railway was that it was not possible to have tracks crossing each other. Thus south of here the railway created one of the first flying junctions to take one line over another and so avoid the problem.

With hindsight one can see that this was a technology doomed to failure, but you have to admire the Victorian spirit of ingenuity.

Now keep walking along Portland Road and our next stop is soon on the right.

Stop 4: site of a Cinema, 44B Portland Road

This modest looking doorway was the entrance to an early cinema.

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According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it first opened as the New Electric Theatre in February 1911, then it closed from the time to time and went through various names: the Electric Theatre (1917) the Mascot Cinema (1919), La Rosa Cinema (mid 1920s) and back to the Electric Cinema in 1928. Closed again by 1930, it reopened in 1934 as the Regent Cinema, finally closing in February 1935.

During World War II it became a restaurant, and after the war became a kitchen for preparing school meals. From March 1963, it was converted into a youth club, known as the Socco Cheta Club, offering snooker, television and an activities room. The Socco Cheta Club was closed in 2005, and the building was put up for sale. It does not seem to have any presence now but the Socco Cheta sign is still over the door, so it looks like no one else has taken this building on.

Now continue walking along Portland Road, our next stop is further on the right hand side at the corner of Stanger Road.

Stop 5: site of Picture Palace cinema, 110 Portland Road

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This was another early purpose built cinema opened in 1910 as the Central Hall Picture Palace. In design it was almost identical to the Central Hall Picture Palace in Tooting (later the Classic cinema). From the late-1930’s, it was known as the Central Cinema. In 1953, it was became the Rex Cinema and it was closed in 1956.

The building was converted into a reception hall, known as the Portland Room, then it was converted into a furniture showroom. This closed by 2006 and after a couple of years the buildings was redeveloped into eleven flats, which were ready for occupation in June 2009.

Now just past the side turning on the right is our next stop.

Stop 6: Number 118 Portland Road

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Notice the rather odd plaque between the first floor windows.

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William Walker (1869–1918) was an English diver famous for shoring up the southern and eastern sides of Winchester Cathedral.

In the early 20th century, the cathedral had been in imminent danger of collapse as it sank slowly into the ground, which consisted of peat. The Wikipedia entry explains

“To enable bricklayers to build supporting walls, the groundwater level had to be lowered. Normally, the removal of the groundwater would have caused the collapse of the building. So, to give temporary support to the foundation walls, some 235 pits were dug along the southern and eastern sides of the building, each about six metres deep. Walker went down and shored up the walls by putting concrete underneath them. He worked six hours a day—in complete darkness, because the sediment suspended in the water was impenetrable to light.

Between 1906 and 1911, working in water up to a depth of six metres (20 feet), he shored up Winchester Cathedral, using more than 25,000 bags of concrete, 115,000 concrete blocks, and 900,000 bricks.

After Walker finished his work, the groundwater was pumped out and the concrete he had placed bore the foundation walls. Conventional bricklayers then were able to do their work in the usual way and restore the damaged walls.”

Now return to that side street (Stanger Road() and follow this all the way to the end which will bring you to our next stop.

Stop 7: Norwood Junction station

Ahead you will see the secondary entrance to Norwood Junction station. Before we venture into the station, have a look at the local blue plaque.

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This celebrates that this was the world’s first reinforced concrete underpass, opening in July 1912. I must say I find this a bit surprising. Surely reinforced concrete had been used for tunnels before then.

If you go down the steps to the left you can take the underpass  to the other side of the station.

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An attempt was made a while back to brighten up the walls with photographs of local scenes, but sadly much of this has been damaged.

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Norwood Junction station is worth a look.

As already mentioned the first station here opened in 1839 on the London and Croydon Railway and was called Jolly Sailor. It was further up the line from the present station at the north end of the High Street, adjacent to a level crossing. It was renamed Norwood in 1846. Following construction of lines to Crystal Palace that station closed in June 1859 and was replaced by a new station on the current site.

It became Norwood Junction and South Norwood on 1 October 1910 but then just plain Norwood Junction in 1955.

It has platforms numbered 1 to 7. The track serving platform 1 also has a platform face on the other side, which is numbered Platform 2, but trains do not open their doors at that side. Wikipedia says this is due to the live rail being on the side nearest to Platform 2. But interestingly there are places like this on the London Underground, like Morden, where the doors open on both sides. I am not sure that Platform 7 is actually used much.

Now that the station is served by London Overground trains going to West Croydon it has been rebranded and resigned with roundels. Odd really, as most of the trains stopping here are not actually London Overground but Southern or Thameslink.

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There is a nice spot on platform 1 where you see three roundels on three different platforms.

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The main station building is on platform 1.

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As we head away from Norwood Junction station, you will see the subway coming up

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Then ahead, note the Aldi supermarket on the left. This is the site of the Odeon cinema. This opened in July 1937 and was a typical Odeon style with cream tile cladding, with several horizontal bands of jade green Vitrolite tiles and a central window above the entrance with decorative grillework.

The cinema closed in February 1971 never having been split into smaller screens or converted to bingo. The site was redeveloped as a Safeway supermarket and flats. It became a Somerfield and now is an Aldi.

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At the end of Station Road, there is a nice clock tower which is our next stop.

Stop 8: The Clock Tower

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As the sign says this was erected by “the people of South Norwood to commemorate the Golden Wedding anniversary of Mr and Mrs W F Stanley on 22 February 1907”.

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Continue along the High Street as if you had turned left out of Station Road. The main road becomes Selhurst Road. Turn right into Park Road. Our next stop is ahead on the left. Stop by the corner of Holmesdale Road.

Stop 9: Crystal Palace Football Club

Here we have Crystal Palace Football club, although the main entrance is on the other side in Whitehorse Lane. That is a bit further to walk, so I am planning to stop here.

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Although Crystal Palace Football Club is not actually by the site of Crystal Palace, it can trace its roots back to that building.

As we heard in SE19, inside the grounds of the original Crystal Palace is a stadium. This has been rebuilt but in a previous life the stadium was used for football and between 1895 and 1914 it was the home of the FA Cup Final. The Crystal Palace Company who owned the venue, wanted a professional club to play there and tap into the crowd potential of the area. So in 1905, they formed a new club called Crystal Palace F.C., to play at the stadium.

Wikipedia tells me that when the First World War broke out the Palace and grounds were seized by the armed forces, and in 1915 the club were forced to move by the Admiralty. They found a temporary base at the Herne Hill Velodrome. Although other clubs had offered the use of their ground to Palace, the club felt it best to remain as close to their natural catchment area as possible. When Croydon Common F.C. were wound up in 1917, the club took over their old stadium (called the Nest), but in 1919 they began the purchase of the land on which they would eventually build Selhurst Park, which is where we are standing now.

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Go back down Park Road and when you reach the main road carry on across the cross roads into Tennison Road. Our next stop is a little way down on the right

Stop 10: Number 12 Tennison Road

At Number 12 you will see there is a blue plaque.

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Not just a local one but a proper Greater London Council one and it is for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930), the creator of Sherlock Holmes, who lived here from 1891 to 1894..

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No doubt the area was somewhat different then. But Conan Doyle had already created Sherlock Holmes by then and published two novels – A Study in Scarlet (1887) and the Sign of Four (1890) and whilst he was living here he wrote a number of the short stories featuring Holmes, initially published in the Strand magazine . The novels were not initially successful and it was the short stories,that made both Holmes and Conan Doyle household names. Once he had such success with Holmes he was clearly able to move away from South Norwood.

Now return to Selhurst Road and turn left. Continue along here and turn right into Dagnall Park a street of rather grand houses. Keep going down Dagnall Park, going under the railway. Our next stop is just after Edith Road on the left.

Stop 11: Number 30 Dagnall Park

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It is hard to see this house and the reason we have stopped here. But if you look carefully through the foliage, you will see a blue plaque.

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This is to the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 – 1912).

He was mixed-race. His father was a Sierra Leone Creole physician called Daniel Taylor. His mother was called Alice Martin and she was not married to Taylor. She named her son Samuel Coleridge Taylor after the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but without the hyphen. It seems that he adopted the hyphen, following a printer’s typographical error.

Coleridge-Taylor was particularly known for his three cantatas based on the epic poem, Song of Hiawatha by American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Unfortunately Coleridge-Taylor sold the rights to Song of Hiawatha outright and so received no royalties.

His situation contributed to the formation in 1914 of the Performing Rights Society which aimed to get revenues for musicians through performance as well as publication and distribution of music.

Now return to Edith Road and turn right. As you walk along you will see the side of Selhurst station, our final stop.

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This by the way is the staircase to the platform which serves the London bound fast line and so it is hardly ever used, as fast trains do not normally stop here. It really only gets used in an emergency or when there is engineering work on the slow lines.

At the end of the street turn left and go under the bridge. The entrance to the station is just on the left.

Stop 12: Selhurst station

The line here was opened in 1862 by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway as a more direct route to and from the newly opened Victoria station, thus avoiding Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction. The station here did not however opened until May 1865. The lines were quadrupled in 1903. Pevsner says the station is circa 1900, so I guess it was rebuilt at the time of the quadrupling.

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Up at platform level, there are three platforms: one serving outbound slow line and an island platform serving London bound slow line and outbound fast line and a further platform for the London bound fast line. The latter has lost its canopies but they have survived on the other platforms. However the one on the country bound slow line seems to have been shortened.

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It does at least feel like a proper station, even though the up fast line platform is denuded. You can see the top of that staircase we saw from the street.

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Across the road from the station entrance to the entrance to the huge Selhurst depot.

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This is built on the site of “the Nest” – Croydon Common F C’s Ground which was later taken over by Crystal Palace F C. By the way it was called the Nest because Croydon Common F C wore red shirts leading them to be known as “The Robins”.

Well that brings us to the end of our SE25 walk. There were some unexpected treasures like the Stanley Halls and the local plaque to William Walker. Plus two “proper” blue plaques to Conan Doyle and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

We are now at Selhurst station so this will give you plenty on onward travel options.

SE24: Re-Cycling

SE24 is Herne Hill – or as my father would have said Ernill. This is another place I have been through many times but not actually walked around – until now.

We start our walk at the Post Office which is at 31 – 39 Norwood Road. Turn right out of the Post Office and head towards the railway bridge but do not go under it. You will see to the left is a pedestrianised street. This is Railton Road. Go down here and our first stop is soon on the left.

Stop 1: Number 222 Railton Road

It may not look much now but once there was an old cinema here.

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This was the Herne Hill Cinema opened in December 1913. According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, in 1932, noted cinema architect George Coles was engaged to design a new proscenium and a new facade for the building. It re-opened in December 1932 as the Grand Cinema and was renamed Pullman Cinema in September 1953, finally closing in June 1959. It always seems to have been an independent operation.

It was a bingo club until 1986. The building was then shuttered and remained empty, becoming increasingly derelict. There were hopes that it could be converted into a small repertory theatre, but this did not happen due to lack of funding. Eventually, after a 12 year campaign to save the building, it was demolished in September 1999. The narrow facade facing Herne Hill Station was saved and used as a restaurant/take away, though now it seems to be empty. Housing was built on the auditorium site.

Now walk a little further on and our next stop is over the road on the right.

Stop 2: Herne Hill Station

This rather handsome station building is the original dating from 1862 when the London Chatham and Dover Railway first got here.

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It has lovely decorative brickwork and a tower, which apparently was there because it housed a water tank for the steam engines. The canopy over the entrance is a modern replica,. If you go on Streetview at the moment, you can see the facade without its canopy so it cannot be that old.

Although the main building dates from the 1860s the station at track level has been remodelled a couple of times – first in the 1880s when two additional tracks were added and again in the mid 1920s when the layout was rationalised to the present pair of island platforms – one set for northbound trains and the other for southbound trains thus allowing for cross platform connections between Victoria and Blackfriars/Thameslink trains..

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Unlike many of the other stations in this part of south east London, Herne Hill has retained both buildings and canopies on the platforms.

Outside the station is a flower shop.

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This recently became a bit of a cause celebre when Network Rail wanted to use the site for an electricity substation. Local uproar seems to have ensured that this is not to happen and the flower shop can continue trading. More on the following link:

http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/2018/05/the-flower-lady-florists-in-herne-hill-to-stay-after-network-rail-u-turn/

Now walk a little way along Railton Road and take the first left (Rymer Street) which takes you to Dulwich Road where you turn right. Our next stop is a little way on the left. You will see a road entrance into Brockwell Park, go down there and you will be at Brockwell Lido.

Stop 3: Brockwell Lido

Brockwell Lido dates from the late 1930s and was built by the London County Council

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It was designed by Harry Rowbotham and T. L. Smithson in the Moderne style, replacing the Brockwell Park bathing pond. Almost identical in design to the Victoria Park Lido in Hackney, it opened in July 1937.

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The Lido closed in 1990 due to cost saving measures by Lambeth Borough Council. A Brockwell Lido Users group was established in 2001 to lobby for reopening. The Lido management was put out for tender and two former council employees won the contract and reopened the Lido in 1994. It is now managed in partnership with Fusion, a registered charity.

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Now there are a couple of things to see in the Park

Stop 4: The Walled Garden

Head into the park from the Lido and look out for this little early 19th century building which is called “The Temple” This was a feature of the park around Brockwell House which we shall get to shortly

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Behind the Temple is a walled garden which was originally the kitchen garden for the big house providing fruit, vegetables and flowers. When the estate became a park it was converted into a flower garden.

The entrance is a gateway to the left of the Temple.

It is a tranquil place which looks well looked after.

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Now head out and ahead in the distance you will see our next stop which is the big house.

Stop 5: Brockwell House

As has been hinted Brockwell Park was the grounds of a large house. Here it is.

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Brockwell Hall was built between 1811 and 1813 and was the country home of glass merchant John Blades.

The land house and surrounding estate were acquired by the London County Council (LCC) in March 1891 and opened to the public the following June. The local MP Thomas Lynn Bristowe was one of the prime movers in the land being purchased as a park. Sadly at the opening, he died of a heart attack on the steps of the hall.

Just inside the entrance by the cafe is a bust of this eminent man.

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But all is not what it seems. Originally this was outside by the main entrance to the park. It was atop a column with a statue of Perseverance holding a laurel wreath up towards the bust . But in 1958 the LCC wanted to widen the road and so the column was taken down. rather than re-erect it the Council gave the plinth and bust to the Bristowe family who placed it in in their country estate, Brookhampton Hall, near Cambridge.

And there it remained until April 2012. After a campaign by the Herne Hill Society and the Friends of Brockwell Park and in conjunction with the Bristowe family the bust was removed and conserved and on 6 June 2012 (the 120th anniversary of Bristowe’s death) it was unveiled in its new home here.

There is a lovely little 20 minute film about the story of Thomas Bristowe coming “home”.

http://hernehillsociety.typepad.com/blog/2013/06/thomas-bristowe-comes-home.html

Now head back down the hill and towards the main gates.

You will see this rather dramatic piece of street art across the road. This work is by Phlegm and is inspired by dutch artist M C Escher (1898 – 1972)

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This mural is part of Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, a collection of works in the Dulwich area by top street artists. We saw quite a few of these in SE22.

Go under the railway and our next stop is just on the right after the railway bridge.

Stop 6: Half Moon 

This is the Half Moon Hotel.

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It is a fine example of a late Victorian pub. It dates from 1896, as can be seen at the top of the big ornate gable.

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Architectural expert Pevsner describes it as “a cheerful corner pub … generously decked out with bay windows, balconies and marble columns”.

Now cross over and head up the street called Herne Hill

Our first stop is a fair way along this road, after St Paul’s Church.

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Past the church, you will pass a parade of shops and our next stop is a little after this on the right hand side.

Stop 7: Number 26 Herne Hill

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Why you may ask are we stopping here. Well look carefully on the left of the driveway and you will see this little plaque.

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This indicates that John Ruskin lived in a house on this site.

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was truly an eminent Victorian – a leading English art critic, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist.

He was born in Bloomsbury but his childhood was spent here from 1823 where he was largely educated at home by his parents and private tutors, The house he lived in was demolished around 1912. It was clearly not thought to be worth preserving at the time, though the LCC decided to commemorate the connection in 1925 according to plaque.

Our next stop is just a little further on the right hand side.

Stop 8: Number 51 Herne Hill

The frontage to Herne Hill can hardly be seen but go round the side and you will see there is a blue plaque.

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This is to commemorate Sax Rohmer, author of the Fu Manchu series of books.

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Sax Rohmer was a pen name used by Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (1883 – 1959). Ward had been a songwriter and comedy sketch writer for music hall performers and in 1911 he was the ghost writer for the biography of music hall star Little Tich (whose blue plaque we saw in NW4)

Published using the persona of Sax Rohmer, the first of a series of stories featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu (“The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu”) was serialised from October 1912 to June 1913. It was an immediate success, creating an archetype of the evil criminal genius and mad scientist, as well as giving a name to a kind of moustache.

The first three Fu Manchu books were published in four years from 1913 to 1917 and they were soon adapted for the big screen. Rohmer carried on producing works of fiction but resisted writing more Fu Manchu stories until 1931 when he was persuaded to revive the character. He went on to write at least 10 more books featuring Fu Manchu.

The Fu Manchu series has drawn criticism from the Chinese government and Chinese communities in the US amongst others for what was seen as negative ethnic stereotyping. But we do have to recognise that at the time these books were written attitudes were somewhat different to today.

Now continue along Herne Hill and just a little further along you will see a side street called Casino Avenue. Turn down here as this is our next stop

Stop 9: Sunray Estate

Casino Avenue is the main street in a cottagy style 1920s housing development called the Sunray Estate.

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This has an interesting history. But before we delve into that do note if you look into the distance you can see another iconic housing estate – Dawson Heights – which we visited in SE23.

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The Sunray estate was built by Camberwell Borough Council as homes for heroes returning from the Great War. The land was owned by the Dulwich Estate who had a significant role in determining what was developed.

The land was the grounds of an elegant mansion originally called Casina House (meaning little house) but later known as Casino House. So it would seem the name is not connected to gambling. The grounds were landscaped and included a pond at the bottom of the hill.

The story of how this came to be developed as a council estate is explained at

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/sunray-estate/4591071171

Confusingly the side streets off are also called Casino Avenue, but stick to the road you came in on.

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Amazingly the hedges have survived and the front gardens have not been lost to parking.

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If you follow the road through the estate, at the bend your will see an alleyway.

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Go down here and you will find yourself in Sunray Gardens

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This has at its centre the pond which survived from the garden of the original house.

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There were lots of ducks and also a heron, when I visited.

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Go though the gardens. Come out by Beckwith Road and go down that street and the end turn right into Half Moon Lane. Then a little way further on take a right in to Ruskin Walk and our next stop is at the next corner.

Stop 10: Number 2 Warmington Avenue

This house has two Southwark Blue Plaques.

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One is for writer and poet Richard Church (1893 – 1972)

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Now I have to confess I do not know his work. He published his first poem in 1917. He wrote no less than 16 novels and three volumes of autobiography over a career which spanned more than 50 years. He lived here as a teenager and went to school locally.

The other plaque is for a man called Sam King who could not have been more different from Richard Church.

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Sam King (1926 – 2016) was Jamaican and having served in the Royal Air Force in the Second World war, came to Britain in 1948 as one of the 492 passengers on the Empire Windrush seeking work in post war Britain. He helped pave the way for the Notting Hill carnival, Britain’s first multicultural street festival and he.went on to become the first black mayor of the London borough of Southwark, in 1983.

Here is a link to his obituary in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jun/30/sam-king-obituary

Now return to Half Moon Lane. Turn right and soon on the left you will a side street called Burbage Road. Go down here. Our next stop is a little way down after the railway bridge.

Stop 11: Number 84 Burbage Road

You will see there is a blue plaque at Number 84.

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This commemorates a man called Scipio Africanus Mussabini (1867 – 1927).

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He was commonly known as Sam and was an athletics coach best known for his work with Harold Abrahams. In total, he led athletes to eleven medals over five Olympic Games. Mussabini is considered to be the first professional, paid coach in sport.

This house was Mussabini’s home from 1911 until about 1916 and backed on to the Herne Hill Stadium, where he worked as a cycling and athletics coach from the 1890s until his death.

In 1998, the Mussabini Medal was created, to celebrate the contribution of coaches of UK performers who have achieved outstanding success on the world stage

Stop 12: Herne Hill Velodrome

Just a little way further on the left you will find a small roadway and this leads to what was Herne Hill stadium or Velodrome.

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Go down here and you will see the sign for the Velodrome.

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And also another sign – I did not feel able to take photographs because of this.

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Herne Hill Velodrome is one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world, having been built in 1891. Initially there was also a cinder athletics track inside the cycle track, and tennis courts within that. The tennis courts later became the site of a football/rugby pitch, although it is no longer used for that.

The Velodrome hosted the track cycling events in the 1948 Summer Olympics and was briefly the home of Crystal Palace Football Club during  the First World War.

Herne Hill Velodrome is different from ones built today –  a modern Olympic velodrome will have an inner circumference of 250m, and banking of about 45° whereas Herne Hill is more shallow being a concrete bowl measuring approximately 450m with the steepest banking of 18°.

The original 1891 grandstand survived until fairly recently but has now been replaced with a new structure.

So that brings us the end of our SE24 walk.

This was another of those postcodes which at first seems unpromising and yet there is a historic park and a number of interesting connections, such as John Ruskin and Sax Rohmer of Fu Manchu fame, not to mention an interesting “garden city” style housing estate.

For onward travel, you should retrace your steps along Burbage road and turn left into Half Moon Lane. Follow this and you will soon be at Herne Hill Station.