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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.

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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.

SE23: An odd collection

SE23 is Forest Hill – a place which many people will know from sitting in traffic as they crawl along the South Circular Road. We start our walk at the Post Office which lives in the W H Smith shop in Devonshire Road. It is right outside the station which is our first stop..

Stop 1: Forest Hill station

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This station, opened by the London & Croydon Railway in June 1839, was originally called Dartmouth Arms (which was – indeed still is – the name of the local hostelry round the corner in Dartmouth Road).

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The line was also used by the London and Brighton Railway from 1841 and the South Eastern Railway from 1842.

In 1844, the station was chosen by the London and Croydon Railway as the northern terminus of an experimental atmospheric railway which ran to West Croydon using static pumping stations and pipes into which pistons went which could propel the trains.

The London and Croydon Railway and the London and Brighton Railway merged to form the London Brighton and South Coast Railway in July 1846. The following year “atmospheric” working was abandoned, as hopelessly impractical. Then in 1845 the station was renamed Forest Hill for Lordship Lane.

The line was quadrupled in the 1850s with the fast tracks in the centre and the slow tracks on the outside. This involved the moving of the down platform and the creation of an island platform for the fast lines. There is no sign of that island platform as it was removed sometime in the 1960s.

In fact there is really nothing left of the old station apart from the platforms and that is because the station buildings were destroyed by bombing during World War II. They have been replaced by a rather boring utilitarian system built structure.

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Now exit the station on the other side. Or if you have not gone into the station go under the subway next to W H Smiths. Either way you will end up in a street called Perry Vale which is the location of our next stop.

Stop 2: site of Glenlyn Ballroom, 15A Perry Vale

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Today this modest looking doorway is the way in to a banqueting suite but once it was the entrance to a dance hall, called the Glenlyn Ballroom

In the early 1960s, many soon to be very famous names played there – including The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black.

More about this connection at:

http://www.foresthillsociety.com/2015/12/rock-n-roll-in-forest-hill.html

There is also another rock music connection in Forest Hill. Francis Rossi was born here in 1949. According to the Notable Abodes site he had a house at 37 Lowther Hill, SE23 from 1968 to 2006, but it is a bit off our route to go visit.

Now head back to the other side of the tracks either by the subway or by following the roads (Waldram Place and Waldram Crescent).

There is a fun painting under the railway bridge

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Love the Walrus and the “Walk this way” arrows pointing in opposite directions.

Once on the other side of the railway, you want to turn up London Road which is a right turn off Devonshire Road and the route of the South Circular Road. Our next stop is just on the left..

Stop 3: The Capitol

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According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, this lovely building opened as the Capitol Cinema in February 1929. It was built for London & Southern Cinemas and designed by noted cinema architect John Stanley Beard. It had been intended for silent movies, but sound equipment was installed soon after opening. The stage was 22 feet deep and with three dressing rooms it allowed for variety shows to be staged.

It was taken over by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) from July 1933 and it was renamed ABC in December 1968. It finally closed in October 1973  The building stood empty for several years until it became a Bingo Club in February 1978. Bingo ceased in December 1996 and the building again stood empty and unused.

It reopened in May 2001 as a Wetherspoon’s pub called with stunning originality “The Capitol”. Wetherspoons put the pub up for sale and closed it in June 2014. But for some reason it reopened in 2017 and it is still trading as a Wetherspoon’s.

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Our next stop is just across the road by the side of the Sainsbury’s building.

Stop 4: Theatrical Transformation

As the sign says this is a work called “Theatrical Transformation”

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It explains it was inspired by the Horniman Museum’s collection particularly the objects related to transformation in all its guises.

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Not sure this really works.

Now go back to London Road and turn right, where you will find Sainsbury’s.

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Stop 5: The homes of Dame Doris Beale

Dame Doris Winifred Beale (1889 – 1971) was an English nurse, and Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service for three years during the Second World War. In the King’s birthday honours list 1944 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a first in the Royal Naval Nursing Service.

According to Notable Abodes (which cites Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online) this was the address of her parents when she was born. Today Sainsbury covers the site.

The same source says that she died at 84 London Road, just a little further down the road, on the same side just before Honor Oak Road.

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Now turn right down Honor Oak Road and take the first on the right. Our next stop is the first house on the right.

Stop 6: Number 2 Manor Mount

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You have to look very carefully but you can just see a Lewisham maroon plaque hiding in the greenery to the left of the main door.

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This commemorates that this was the home of Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1906 -1945)

According to his Wikipedia entry, Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian and writer, Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years. Later, he was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being accused of being associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then executed on 9 April 1945.

You may wonder what connection he had with this part of South East London. It seems he spent a couple of years in the mid 1930s as a pastor of two German-speaking Protestant churches in London: the German Lutheran Church in Dacres Road, Sydenham and the German Reformed Church of St Paul’s, Goulston Street, Whitechapel.

Now return to Honor Oak Road and continue to walk up the road. Our next stop is a short way on the left.

Stop 7: Ashberry Cottage Honor Oak Road

This was apparently once home to the Duke of Clarence (later King William IV) and his mistress, Mrs Dorothea Jordan.

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From a distance it looks like there is a proper English Heritage Blue Plaque but closer inspection reveals it is no such thing..

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And maybe it would never get an official one if London Remembers website is to be believed:

https://www.londonremembers.com/subjects/ashberry-cottage?memorial_id=3124

This says “The Duke and Mrs Jordan lived at various addresses in and around London but we could find Ashberry Cottage in no creditable source.” It also says “the original cottage (of which we can find no picture) was demolished in the 1820s to make way for the present building (in photograph). It was incorrectly named for Joseph Ashbarry who owned it in the 1830s and 1840s.”

Now retrace your steps back to London Road and turn right our next stop is a short way along on the right.

Stop 8: The Horniman Museum

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The Horniman Museum is an odd mix of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, and rather a lot of stuffed animals and birds, plus an aquarium.

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It started out as the collections of Frederick Horniman (1835 – 1906) who lived in this location. Frederick had inherited his father’s Horniman’s Tea business, which by 1891 had become the world’s biggest tea trading business. The cash from the business allowed Horniman to indulge his lifelong passion for collecting, and which after travelling extensively had some 30,000 items in his various collections, ranging from natural history, cultural artefacts and musical instruments. He started opening the collection to the public two days a week in December 1890 and it went from there.

He commissioned a purpose built gallery in 1898. Designed by Charles Harrison Townsend in the Arts and Crafts style,  it opened in 1901. This is the bit with the distinctive tower and mosaics.

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This mosaic mural is called Humanity in the House of Circumstance and was designed by Robert Anning Bell. Consisting of more than 117,000 individual stone pieces and measuring 10 feet × 32 feet, it was assembled by a group of young women over the course of 210 days.

The theme of the mosaic is personal aspirations and limitations. According to this site

http://www.victorianweb.org/art/architecture/townsend/2.html

“The three figures on the far left represent Art, Poetry and Music, standing by a doorway symbolising birth, while the armed figure represents Endurance. The two kneeling figures represent Love and Hope, while the central figure symbolises Humanity. Charity stands to the right bearing figs and wine, followed by white-haired Wisdom holding a staff, and a seated figure representing Meditation. Finally, a figure symbolising Resignation stands by the right-hand doorway, which represents death.”

In 1901, Horniman gave the 15 acres freehold estate, museum and the art and natural history collections to London County Council for use by the people of London.

In 1911, an additional building to the west of the main building, originally containing a lecture hall and library, was donated by Frederick Horniman’s son Emslie Horniman. This was also designed by Townsend.

A Grade II listed conservatory from 1894 which was moved from Horniman’s family house in Croydon to this site in the 1980s.

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The Horniman Museum contains the CUE (Centre for Understanding the Environment) building. This opened in 1996 and was designed by local architects Archetype using methods developed by Walter Segal. The building has a grass roof and was constructed from sustainable materials. It also incorporates passive ventilation.

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A further extension opened in 2002, designed by Allies and Morrison.

More about the story of the Horniman at their website:

https://www.horniman.ac.uk/about/museum-history

The entrance is now in the gardens rather than the impressive buildings on London Road.

There is a nice little fountain by the old main entrance.

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It seems this was renovated by the Tallow Chandlers’s Company – one of the historic City Livery Companies.

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According to their website, the company was originally formed in about 1300 to regulate oils, ointments, lubricants and fat-based preservatives and to manage candle making using tallow (animal fats). There is another company, the Wax Chandlers who were involved with candle making but they were more up market as they only worked with beeswax.

Also just here is the beginning of a “Sundial Trail” which goes through the gardens behind the Museum.

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This is Number 1 on the trail.

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Now go into the gardens up the wide pathway as this is our next stop.

Stop 9: Horniman Gardens

The Horniman Gardens has a variety of features including some themed gardens.

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But the thing that is really worth coming for is the view. You get a great vista of central London from the terrace by the bandstand (which by the way dates from 1912)

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And a great view of Dawson Heights which we saw in SE22. In a way it looks much more impressive from a distance.

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And you will see the odd sundial lurking – like this one.

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Another feature is this “sound garden” where you can play various strange looking things and make sounds, not necessarily very musical though!

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Now retrace your steps back to London Road and cross over you will see a sign for the Green Chain walk.

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Head up this away from the Horniman and after going through the edge of a housing estate, you will get to the start of Sydenham Hill Wood.

Stop 10: Sydenham Hill Wood and site of Lordship Lane station

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This is a ten hectare wood on the northern slopes of the Norwood Ridge. With the adjacent Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood is the largest remaining tract of the ancient Great North Wood, a natural oak woodland which covered a vast area almost from Deptford to Croydon.

Here’s a little piece from London Wildlife Trust

https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/great-north-wood

What I have not been able to find out is why it is called the Great North Wood, when it is south of London. I guess maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is north of that other great expanse of old woodland in the Weald of Sussex and Kent which is south of here – on the other side of the North Downs.

Now follow the path along and you will soon see a path striking out to the right, which goes over a bridge.

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Go down here and you will see a panel explaining the connection with a painting by Camille Pissarro, called Lordship Lane Station, Dulwich. Painted from this vantage point in 1871, it shows a long lost scene of a train in a railway station.

The picture is now owned by the Courtauld Institute of Art.

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According to the Courtauld website:

“Pissarro spent over a year in London, fleeing the Franco-Prussian war. He painted sights around his home in Norwood, including this view of Lordship Lane Station (now demolished). The station had opened only a few years earlier, catering to visitors of the Crystal Palace and to the residents of this growing south London suburb. In the painting, rows of new houses border areas of undeveloped land.

Standing on a footbridge over the tracks, Pissarro depicted the train leaving the station. His view however is curiously devoid of people. He originally included a man mowing the grassy slope to the right, but painted him out.”

The station itself was on the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway. We saw the location of the terminus in SE19.

Lordship Lane station was actually operated by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. When it opened in September 1865, it took its name from the main road nearby Lordship Lane becomes London Road just around here.

The station was closed during the First World War between January 1917 and March 1919 and again during the Second World War in May 1944 after it suffered heavy bomb damage during the Blitz. The station was repaired and temporarily reopened in March 1946.

It was permanently closed, along with the rest of the line, in September 1954. The railway crossed London Road (just beyond the southern end of Lordship Lane itself) on a bridge and the station was just to the southwest of the road. The station was demolished shortly after closure. The site is now occupied by housing and as far as I can establish there is nothing left of the old railway line or station.

So that brings us to the end of our SE23 walk. When I started I thought that the only thing of significance would be the Horniman Museum and gardens but it turned out there were quite a few other interesting things, not least the (possible) connection with King William IV before he was King, not to mention the ballroom which hosted many music acts who would go on to stardom.

For onward travel go back to London Road. there are a number of buses you can get from here – in particular you can get the 176, 185 or 197 to Forest Hill station for rail connections.

SE22: To bus or not to bus, that is the question

SE22 is East Dulwich, which confusingly is actually north of Dulwich Village. At its core is a very long road called Lordship Lane. In fact it is rather too long to expect you to walk all the way, so we will have to ask the question “to bus or not to bus”.

We start our walk at East Dulwich Post Office, 74 – 76 Lordship Lane, Turn left out of the Post Office and walk along Lordship Lane.

Part A: around the northern bit of Lordship Lane

This part of Lordship Lane is an interesting mix of old and new style shops – almost no chains, a few real old school type places and some modern day tat shops, but then there are some interesting looking cafes and food shops.

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Our first stop is at the corner of Spurling Road, which is on the right.

Stop 1: Fight Club – inspired by the Massacre of the Innocents

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This is a really dramatic piece of street art. It is called Fight Club and is by Conor Harrington. It is inspired by Charles Le Brun’s picture “The Massacre of the Innocents” which is in Dulwich Picture Gallery. This is one of a series of pieces which came out of a project called Dulwich Outdoor Gallery in 2013. We will hear more about this later on.

Keep going to the little roundabout which marks the end of Lordship Lane and turn right, where you will see an expanse of grass, known as Goose Green.

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This was common land near the old village (or was it a hamlet?) of East Dulwich. The poor with no land of their own would use it to graze their livestock, amongst which would have been geese – hence the name..

The arrival of the railway nearby in 1868 kickstarted the area’s development. The green was purchased in 1868 by Camberwell Vestry at the same time as Peckham Rye Common to save it from development.

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There are a couple of interesting building alongside the green.

Stop 2: St John the Evangelist Church

On the left you will see St John’s Church. This too dates from the 1860s

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However it was practically destroyed by fire bombs in 1940. It was rebuilt under the direction of J .B. Sebastian Comper (1891 – 1979), son of the famous gothic revivalist Sir Ninian Comper (1864 – 1960). The latter, although well into his 80s, designed some of the features used in the restoration of the building.

More on the history of the church on their website

http://www.stjohnseastdulwich.org/st-john-the-evangelist-a-short-history-by-maureen-abbott

Stop 3: Dulwich Baths

On the right you will see Dulwich Baths.

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The baths opened in 1892, and are said to be London’s oldest public baths to have remained in continuous operation. The baths are Grade II heritage listed

Now return to the end of Goose Green where you started and turn right into Grove Vale. Our next stop is almost immediately on the left.

Stop 4: Number 72 Grove Vale

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Hard to believe now but this was the site of an old cinema.

According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site. there was first a public hall called The Imperial Hall in January 1902. This was converted into a full time cinema in September 1910 and was renamed Pavilion Cinema in 1923. It was closed in July 1935, to be demolished and replaced by a new Pavilion Cinema was built on the site, which opened in July 1936

The new Pavilion Cinema was initially independently operated but was soon taken over by Odeon in August 1937. It was re-named Odeon in around 1939 and continued as a cinema until October 1972

In June 1973, the building was sold to the Divine Light Mission and became a Palace of Peace Temple to the followers of 15 year old Guju Maharaj-Ji from India. In 1978, the building was purchased by the London Clock Company and converted into offices and a warehouse. The firm moved out of the building in July 2000. The building was demolished in April 2001, and a housing project was built on the site.

Continue along Grove Vale and soon you will see a railway bridge. This is where our next stop is.

Stop 5: East Dulwich station

The station here was named Champion Hill when it first opened by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in 1868.

The station has 2 entrances, one to each platform. The ticket office forms the entrance to the southbound (or “down”) platform.

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Going under the bridge you find the London bound side has just a ticket machine and a departure display board.

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The way up to the platforms is not inspiring on either side.

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And when you get up to the platform level, it is even more depressing, if that is possible. Just bus shelter like structures, with nothing of the original station.

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Not exactly attractive and welcoming.

Now return to the street and turn left. Soon you will see a little park on the left. This is St Francis Park and just before you go in, there is a sign with information about the place we are now headed to.

Stop 6: Dulwich Hamlet Football Club

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To get to the actual ground, go through this park.

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As you go through the park, have a look to your right and you will see a little sculpture.

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It is kind of a joke in that the road outside the park is called Dog Kennel Hill.

On the far side of the park you will see the modern stadium, and a large Sainsbury’s.

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The club was founded in 1893 and played at various locations until 1902 when they came to this area. Between 1902 and 1912 they played at Freeman’s Ground on Champion Hill before moving to an adjacent plot of land, where they played until the opening of the Champion Hill stadium in 1931. .

In 1991 that stadium had to be demolished, as it could not easily be brought up to the tighter safety standards introduced as a result of the Hillsborough disaster. During the 1991–92 season the club played at Tooting & Mitcham United’s ground, whilst a new, smaller stadium was built on the same site, opening for the start of the 1992–93 season.

The new stadium was funded by the sale to Sainsbury’s of land that had once been the club’s training pitch, situated immediately behind the large covered terrace on the north side of the ‘old’ Champion Hill, by the landlords King’s College London. The new ground remained in King’s ownership, with the club having given up the lease on the old ground in return for the new ground being built.

There are two plaques on the wall. First is to the founder of the Football Club, “Pa” Wilson (1865 – 1924).

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Second is a more recent Southwark blue plaque to Edgar Kail whose claim to fame is that he was the last non-league player to represent his country at full international level. That was in 1929.

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However it seems that he was not actually the last amateur player to appear in the English national team – that was one Bernard Joy in 1936 according to the various references cited in Wikipedia.

In February 2014, Champion Hill stadium was bought for £5.7m by a development company called Meadow Residential. In 2018 the company forced the club out of the ground, resulting in a temporary groundshare again with Tooting & Mitcham. Although Southwark Council and others are keen for the club to remain, it is not currently clear how this will be resolved.

Now we are going back to explore a bit more of Lordship Lane. As we are right by a football club named Hamlet, it seems only right to ask “To bus or not to bus, that is the question”

It is quite a long road, so I would suggest getting a bus. Go back to the main road and at the Quorn Road stop catch a 40, 176 or 185 bus to Dulwich Library (It is 8 stops).

In passing you will see on the right hand side, East Dulwich Picturehouse which is at 116a Lordship Lane

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Whilst East Dulwich has lost its purpose built cinema, it has acquired this new picture house. It is a conversion of a public hall – the Thomas More Hall.

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It opened in May 2015 and boasts a cafe and garden according to the sign.

Also watch out for some other pieces of street art work. This one is the Queen and corgis on a hoverboard by Catman. This is on the right around Number 182.

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This seems to be a one off not connected with the more arty ones of Dulwich Outdoor Gallery. In fact there is a version of this particular image in Whitstable High Street, Kent which we happened to see recently when we were down there.

Then on the other side of the road on the side of the Lordship pub in Colwell Road is this (you will need to look back):

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This is by an american artist called Mear One. It is her interpretation of The Madonna of the Rosary by Bartolomé Murillo in Dulwich Picture Gallery and was also produced for Dulwich Outdoor Gallery in 2013.

Get off the bus at Dulwich Library

Part B: Lordship Lane around the Library

Stop 7: Dulwich Library

This was a Passmore Edwards library. We have come across others of his philanthropic works in Acton (W3) and Shepherds Bush (W12).

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The library was designed by Charles Barry Jr. in his capacity as architect and surveyor to Dulwich College, who donated the site on which the library stands. It was built as a memorial to the Elizabethan actor Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College and Alleyn’s School. The foundation stone of the library was laid by the prominent actor Henry Irving on 24 September 1896, and the library was subsequently opened by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Halsbury, on 24 November 1897.

This is a curious location for a library as it is in neither the centre of Dulwich nor East Dulwich. But it is a destination for buses. Seeing Dulwich Library as a destination is misleading for the unwary who might be expecting more of a “place” around the library.

Now head towards the Plough pub diagonally opposite the Library and look to the right at the wall at the end of the car park.

Stop 8: Lady Digby on her deathbed

This is part of Dulwich Outdoor Gallery (DOG) which consists of a collection of murals painted by international contemporary street artists, based on Baroque paintings in the Dulwich Picture Gallery collection. The artworks are dotted around Dulwich – but not the Village as far as I can see.

The DOG was established by Ingrid Beazley (1950 – 2017), a pioneer of promoting street art.

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The work here is by MadC. It is her take on the Van Dyck picture of Lady Digby on her deathbed, painted in 1633.

Our next stop is just across Lordship Lane from the Plough pub.

Stop 9: Number 354 Lordship Lane

Nothing particularly interesting about this building itself.

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But look, there is a Southwark blue plaque. This is at first floor level and hard to get a decent picture of because of the bus stop and shelter.

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This was where Enid Mary Blyton was born, although the building that is here today is of a later vintage.

Blyton was best known for creating the character of Noddy and for the ‘Famous Five’ stories. Her works have been translated into nearly ninety languages and have sold more than 600 million copies worldwide. She has not fared well in more modern times being accused of racism and sexism. There has apparently been some judicious rewriting in recent times, golliwogs have become goblins, children are scolded not beaten and characters of Dick and Fanny have been renamed as Rick and Frannie.

Return to the bus stop and catch a 176, 185 or 197 (the 40 terminates at Dulwich Library and the 197 has joins Lordship Lane here) for two stops to Overhill Road..

Part C: the far end of Lordship Lane.

Having got off the bus at Overhill Road walk back to the turning of that name. Just on the wall ahead of you there is a little blue plaque.

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We will hear about the connection between Bon Scott and Overhill Road in a short while but first we have a rather dramatic housing development to look at.

Stop 10: Dawson Heights

Keep going along the road on the left hand side and follow the road as it goes up hill. Soon on the left you will see a massive development.

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This is Dawson Heights. I can’t help feeling the name would be great for an Australian soap opera.

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It is actually two massive blocks: one called Bredinghurst and the other Ladlands, designed for Southwark Council by Kate Macintosh.

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Curious names – With Ladlands, one has the image of load of lads wandering around. Not sure how the other name is pronounced by it could be “Breeding hurst” in which case this is for the families!.

The Estate was constructed between 1968 and 1972 and contains 296 homes – 112 one-bed, 75 two-bed, 81 three-bed and 28 four-bed flats, Sitting on a hillside, every flat has a view to the north and about two thirds have a view to the south.

Do go into the estate. Follow the road round Bredinghurst and you will see the Ladlands block. Go down the path to the left of that and you get a fantastic view of central London.

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There is an interesting article about the ups and downs of this estate: https://municipaldreams.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/dawsons-heights-east-dulwich-an-example-of-the-almost-lost-art-of-romantic-townscape/

Head back onto Overhill Road and at the far end of the estate you get a great view of Canary Wharf looking along the road.

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Now just around here is number 67 Overhill Road.

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This is actually the place associated with the singer Bon Scott (1946 – 1980), he Scottish born, Australian singer and songwriter with hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death here in 1980.

It is a strange story as told in Wikipedia:

“Some time during the late evening of 18 February (1980) and early morning of 19 February, Scott, 33, passed out and died. He had just visited a London club called the Music Machine (currently known as KOKO). He was left to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by a friend of Scott’s, Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich. Later that day, Kinnear found Scott lifeless, and alerted the authorities. Scott was rushed to King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The chronology of events on 19 February and when exactly Scott was found dead has been challenged by Jesse Fink’s book Bon: The Last Highway, which quotes UFO guitarist Paul Chapman as having been informed early that morning by Scott’s friend Joe Fury that Scott was dead. Kinnear said he found Scott in the evening. Chapman claims Scott and Fury were with him the previous evening of the 18th and Scott left his apartment to buy heroin, never to return.”

If you want to read some more about this odd tale, here is a link to an extensive article:

https://www.loudersound.com/features/what-really-happened-on-the-night-bon-scott-died

Now return to Lordship Lane (you can cut off the corner by going down Melford Passage). Turn left when you reach Lordship Lane. Our next stop is on the left just near where the South Circular Road joins, right by the closed down Grove Tavern. I have driven along this part of the South Circular many times but only now have I actually walked round here.

Stop 11: Number 549 Lordship Lane

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At first glance this looks like a washed out old Victorian villa but it is no ordinary Victorian villa.

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Officially its name is “The Ferns” but it is also known as the “Concrete House” – a grade II listed building,and believed to be the only surviving example of a 19th century domestic concrete house in England.

The Concrete House was built in 1873 by Charles Drake of the Patent Concrete Building Company. In 1867 the builder had patented the use of iron panels for shuttering rather than timber.

It became derelict in the 1980s and was on the Heritage at Risk Register from 1994 to 2013 when it was removed following its successful repair and conversion to five flats in shared ownership.

Now take the side turning to the left which is Underhill Road.

Stop 12: Number 58 Underhill Road

Our final stop is a little way down on the right.

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This was the home of novelist C S Forester.

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C S (Cecil Scot) Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith (1899 – 1966) known for writing tales of naval warfare such as the Horatio Hornblower series, featuring a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars, as well as the novel, The African Queen, later made into a film with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.

Forester was born in Cairo and, after a family breakup at an early age, moved with his mother to London, where he was educated at Alleyn’s School and Dulwich College, so this may have been the time he lived here. He began to study medicine at Guy’s Hospital, London, but left without completing his degree. Around 1921, after leaving Guy’s, he began writing seriously using his pen name.

He moved to the United States during the Second World War and continued to live there until his death. Many of the Hornblower books were in fact written when he was living in the States.

So that brings us to the end of our SE22 jaunt. We have seen some interesting street art, plus heard of some famous people with SE22 connections. Sadly even with hopping on two buses we could not squeeze in No 36 Forest Hill Road – birthplace of William Henry Pratt, better known as horror movie actor Boris Karloff!

We are now on the border with SE23 Forest Hill. It is probably easiest to jump on another bus (176, 185 or 197) to get to Forest Hill for onward travel.

SE21: Picture this

SE21 is Dulwich which centres on the Village and the College.

We start our walk at Dulwich Village Post Office, 47 Dulwich Village (yes that is the name of the main street running through the “Village”)

Our first stop is a little way to the north, so turn right out of the Post Office and continue along the road until you reach the railway bridge with the station building on your right..

Stop 1: North Dulwich Station

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The rather elegant station building sits over the railway lines below and was designed by Charles Barry Junior. The line here was built between 1864 and 1868 by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR). The station building is Grade II listed as is the K6 telephone kiosk which you can just see inside the portico.

And on the bridge parapet opposite the station, there are some shields in a number of places.

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In each group, the shield on the left is that of the LBSCR and is an amalgam of four key places served by the railway company:

Top left represents the City of London (Cross of St George and Sword of St Paul); Top right is Brighton (two dolphins); Bottom left is Portsmouth (star and crescent) and finally bottom right is the Cinque Ports (three half-lions/half-ships). The reason for this is Hastings is one of the Cinque Posts and was the furthest east the railway company got along the south coast.

The shield on the right is that of Dulwich College. – or  Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift as it would have been known when the bridge was built. Hence I guess the letters A and C in the middle shield. The College wielded a huge influence over the development of the area, including determining what the railway was able to build.

Today much of the land around Dulwich Village is still owned by a single organisation – The Dulwich Estate. This is one of the successors to the historic charity Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift, which was founded in 1619. A major reorganisation resulted in the reconstitution of The Dulwich Estate as an independent registered charity in 1995.

More on the history of the Dulwich Estate on their website:

http://www.dulwichestate.co.uk/about/history

Downstairs the station has retained its original platform canopies

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They are simple but effective.

Before we leave here, I think I should mention one thing that has been troubling me. Why is this called North Dulwich station when the next station up the line north towards London is called East Dulwich. It seems odd to say the least that East Dulwich is north of North Dulwich.

Now retrace you step to the Post Office and turn left into Calton Avenue.

You will be able to see our next stop ahead on the right.

Stop 2: St Barnabas Church

This is a surprising sight. A very modern Anglican Church and not one built in the immediate post war period.

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The old church of St Barnabas (built 1892 – 1905) was destroyed by fire in December 1992. The fire was so severe that only the outer walls and the tower were left standing and these were demolished in early 1993.

According to the church website, the new building is a little smaller than the old, being 42 metres long, 20 metres wide and 14 metres tall, while the glass spire rises another 19 metres above the apex of the roof. It is set further back from the road, and is slightly angled from the axis of the old Church to be orientated to the cardinal points of the compass, a medieval tradition often seen in English village churches.

In front of the Church is an entrance area, where the outline of the old tower and walls can still be seen. On the right, part of the old south aisle wall still stands. The Reception area curves around from that wall, making the link from the old Church to the new. The front part of the Church is the Barnabas Chapel which seats 50. The main body of the Church seats 400 (including the choir) and is built on an octagonal floor plan around a central altar. The East end is occupied by the organ and choir stalls. Three dimensionally the Church is built as a central barrel vault with two smaller flanking vaults, spanning onto masonry piers of red brick. Above the central vault is the glass spire, constructed of 6cm x 4cm stainless steel box sections welded together to form a tapering octagon. The spire lets down light into the heart of the Church during the day, and is illuminated from within at night.

One interesting point to note about this church is that it is not at the centre of Dulwich Village but a little away. That is because there is also a chapel in the grounds of the old college (which we shall see shortly) and the large parish church was only built as the population expanded in the 19th century.

Now return to Dulwich Village and our next stop is ahead at the junction to your left.

Stop 3: Dulwich Burial Ground

This cemetery was established in 1616 and planned by the Elizabethan actor/manager, Edward Alleyn, as part of his charity, Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift.

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The burial ground is unusual in that there is no church. Burials have taken place since 1616 however the earliest visible grave stones and monuments date from the early eighteenth century.

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It was declared full in 1858, and only a few more burials were allowed, the last in 1918. It remains largely untouched since that time. It is like a quiet country church yard yet it is within five miles of central London. Sadly it is not normally open to the public, but there is an extensive information panel of the Dulwich Village side of the grounds..

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Now continue along the street called Dulwich Village which runs to the right of the grounds

Stop 4: The Crown and Greyhound

Soon on the left you will see an imposing late Victorian pub,

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This dates from 1895 and according to architectural expert, Pevsner, replaced two early 18th century inns. One would have expected the village to have more than this one big pub but so far as I can see this is it. However there is a building just over the road that is now restaurants and looks like it could have been a pub.

Now return to the Burial Ground and turn right going along the other side, which is Court Lane.

Stop 5: Number 3 Court Lane Gardens, Court Lane

Our next stop is just along on a little loop road off of Court Lane. At Number 3 Court Lane Gardens you will see there is a blue plaque.

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This is a Southwark Blue Plaque for the birth place of Phyllis Pearsall (1906 – 1996)

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She was a British painter and writer but who is best known for creating the iconic A – Z map.

The story goes that by 1935, she had become a portrait painter but became lost in London while using the latest map she could find, which was 17 years old. This stimulated her to produce a new map to cover the rapidly expanding area of London, including places of interest such as museums, bus routes etc.

She claimed that the work involved walking 3,000 miles to check the names of the 23,000 streets of London, waking up at 5am every day, and not going to bed until after an 18 hour working day.

We take it for granted now that main roads are shown larger than side roads on city maps but I believe she was the one who popularised this idea. She also added house numbers to the main roads to help locate addresses on long streets.

In 1966, she turned her company, the Geographers’ A–Z Map Co, into a trust to ensure that it was never bought out. This aimed to secure the future of her company and its employees. Today although the company has embraced digital mapping, it still produces lots of paper maps. It claims to be the largest independent map publishing company in the UK, producing over 300 paper mapping publications.

Continue along Court Lane and go past the entrance to Dulwich Park. Our next stop is soon on the right.

Stop 6: Number 142 Court Lane

This detached house was the home of singer Anne Shelton (1928 – 1994).

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And it has another Southwark Blue Plaque.

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Shelton was a popular English vocalist, who is remembered for entertaining soldiers both on radio broadcasts, and in person, at British military bases during the Second World War. She was also the original singer in the United Kingdom of the song “Lili Marlene”, although this is a song more commonly associated with Marlene Dietrich.

The site Notable Abodes notes she was living here in 1953 and her website says she left to move to Sussex in February 1994, where she died later that year.

More about her here:

http://www.anne-shelton.co.uk/biography.htm

Now return to the gates of the park and go in

Stop 7: Dulwich Park

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The park was created by the Metropolitan Board of Works from former farmland and meadows. The initial design was by Charles Barry Junior, but it was later refined by Lt Col J. J. Sexby. He also designed Battersea Park and parts of Southwark Park). Dulwich Park was opened in 1890 by Lord Rosebery. 

As you enter the Park take the right hand drive, and soon you will see some sculptural pieces – two on the left and one on the right.

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These are titled Three Perpetual Chords. They date from 2015 and are by Conrad Shawcross.

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As the sign explains they were commissioned as a legacy to the sculpture Three Forms divided by a Circle by Dame Barbara Hepworth. This had been in the Park but was stolen in 2011, it is presumed by metal thieves.

Now head out of the park though the Old College gate. Our next stop is right opposite.

Stop 8: Dulwich Picture Gallery

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The gallery was designed by Sir John Soane and opened to the public in 1817. It is the oldest public art gallery in England and was made an independent charitable trust in 1994. Until this time the gallery was part of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift. There is still a reminder of this in the gates.

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Alleyn bequeathed the college of a collection of works including portraits of the kings and queens of England, 26 of which are still in the Dulwich Gallery collection according to their website. Then another actor William Cartwright (1606–1686) bequeathed a collection of 239 pictures, of which 77 are now identifiable at Dulwich.

But the Gallery we see today really took off because of one of the most successful art dealerships in London during the late 18th century – the partnership of Frenchman, Noël Desenfans (1745 – 1807), and his younger Swiss friend, the painter, Sir Francis Bourgeois (1756 – 1811).

According to the Gallery’s website: “In 1790 the pair were commissioned by Stanislaus Augustus, King of Poland, to form a Royal Collection from scratch. They devoted the next five years exclusively to this task during which time Poland was gradually partitioned by its more powerful neighbours leading in 1795 to its complete disappearance as an independent state. The King was forced to abdicate, which left the two dealers with a Royal Collection on their hands.

Bourgeois and Desenfans strove to resolve their situation in two ways. In private they sold individual works from their Polish stock and replaced them with further important purchases. In public they sought a home for their “Royal Collection” approaching, amongst others, the Tsar of Russia and the British Government. When it became clear that they would not be able to sell the collection in its entirety, they began to think to whom they might bequeath it.

This became more pressing after Desenfans’ death in 1807, which left Bourgeois as the sole owner. At that date there was no National Gallery, so the key candidate was the British Museum. However, Bourgeois found its trustees too ‘arbitrary’ and ‘aristocratic’ and so he decided to leave his collection to Dulwich College instead, despite him having no obvious connection with the school. More important than the destination was the stipulation in the will that the paintings should be made available for the ‘inspection of the public’. So it was that Dulwich Picture Gallery – England’s first purpose-built public art gallery – was founded by the terms of Sir Francis Bourgeois’s will upon his death in 1811.”

Do go if you have the chance. It is quite small but there are some wonderful paintings.

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By the way this red colour dates from 2013 and was the original colour used in the gallery, having been found under layers of paint.

There is usually a special exhibition of some sort going on and in the middle of the area used for this you will find a chamber which is the mausoleum of the founders – Sir Francis Bourgeois and Mr and Mrs Desenfans.

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You can see this from the main gallery but it is best to see it from within the special exhibition area.

Now go back to the cafe by the entrance gate and down the glass corridor past the cafe, following it as it turns left.

You pass a door which leads to Christ’s Chapel, more of which anon.

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As you can see opening times are somewhat limited, although the chapel does have regular Sunday services also. At the end of the corridor there is a glass exit door, go through that and head out towards the street. You will see an old phone box on your right. This is a K2 design by Giles Gilbert Scott

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Look inside and the phone box has the old fashioned Button A and Button B.

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There is a significance about this being here.

If you look across the way you can see the back of the Mausoleum in the Gallery

 

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At the time he designed it, Scott was a trustee of Sir John Soane’s Museum and it seems he was inspired by the domes on mausoleums in St Pancras’ Old Churchyard and Dulwich Picture Gallery which Soane had designed. Though as we saw in E18, Soane may have got this idea from a tomb in the church in South Woodford.

Turn right along Gallery Road and past the old buildings on your right.

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There is an historic Southwark plaque.

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There is an entry way to the right.Go in here and you will see the range of buildings.

Stop 9: Christ’s Chapel

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According to the Dulwich estate website: “Christ’s Chapel of God’s Gift … was the first of Alleyn’s Foundation buildings to be completed, being consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury on 1 September 1616.” Pevsner says that the chapel was remodelled and given an aisle in 1823.

In fact it seems the buildings round this courtyard are older than they look. They have been repaired and rebuilt over the years but the present stucco finish dates only from the 1820s and the cloister by the chapel and the Chateau like tower are even later dating from 1866. They are by Charles Barry Junior who you will recall was also involved in the building of the local station around this time.

You will also see a statue of Edward Alleyn with an unidentified boy.

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This sculpture was created at the instigation of the Dulwich Society. An open competition was held in 2004 and the design of a local sculptor, Louise Simson was chosen. It was unveiled 9 October 2008 by the local MP who was then the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell.

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Head back to Gallery Road and our next stop is just over the way on the left.

Stop 10: The old Grammar School

This is one of the old college buildings. It dates from the 1840s and is now used as offices for the management of the Dulwich Estate.

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Keep going ahead towards the junction with a marble memorial in the middle of the road and turn back on yourself to go down College Road.

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Go past the Picture Gallery until you reach the crossroads. We are going to see where the College moved to in the 1860s.

At the crossroads you will see some signs on the road straight ahead.

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Note this is a private road but also that there is a toll gate. It is a little too far to go down there but it is worth a mention as this is the last remaining toll gate in London and has been in existence since 1789.

The original tolls can be seen displayed close to the toll gate, by Tollgate Cottage. But in 2006 it went hi tech with equipment to enable automatic passage through the toll gate using either a Tag or by cash or card payment.

Stop 11: Dulwich College

Our next stop is right here on the other side of the main road. It is that complex of buildings set in large grounds.

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Dulwich College was enlarged and rebuilt on this site in the late 1860s. Pevsner says this was one of the most ambitious school rebuildings of the period, made possible by the £100,000 provided by as compensation by the railway lines which ran through the college estate. The architect was none other than Charles Barry Junior. Since then more building have been added, as you can see if you turn right at the cross roads, go along a bit and look back.

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By the way you may have noticed this main road, though not wide, is quite busy. That is because this is that collection of side streets known as the South Circular Road.

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Now keep going along the main road and soon you will reach West Dulwich station, our final stop.

Stop 12: West Dulwich station

This is an understated elegant little station building which is on a completely different line from, and unconnected to, North Dulwich. I am sure that Alleyn’s College could not believe their luck that not one but two railway companies wanted to build over their land in the 1860s.

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The line here ran between Herne Hill and Beckenham Junction and was built by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. The station when it opened in 1863 was simply called “Dulwich”. The prefix “West” was added in 1926 as a bit of tidying up by the recently formed Southern Railway.

Whilst North Dulwich is in a cutting, West Dulwich is atop an embankment. There once were proper buildings with canopies over the platforms. But today there are no original buildings, just little “bus” type shelters up at platform level, so it all feels a bit naked.

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The platforms themselves are on concrete and metal beams. I have seen a picture dating from 1975 which shows some of the platform was wooden, but no doubt that all had to be renewed at some point.

By the way you get a nice view of the Crystal Palace television mast looking down the tracks.

So that brings us to the end of our SE21 walk. Dulwich is fascinating. The way in which the area looks and feels is inextricably linked to the history and development of Dulwich College. In many ways it does not feel like London and yet Dulwich village is so unlike a village in the countryside because of the college.

We are at West Dulwich station which has reasonably regular trains in towards Victoria or out to Beckenham and Bromley.

SE20: Alone Again, Anerley

SE20 is Anerley according to the Post Office, but it also includes Penge which is somewhat better known. Poor Penge has been the butt of comedians’ jokes for years. But then it is a funny sounding name. Just saying it out loud makes people snigger.

I came across a great website from a group called the Penge Tourist Board (PTB). The PTB is a community led group created to promote and improve culture, commerce and the environment for residents, visitors and businesses of Penge.

There is an interesting post on this site about the origins of the name Penge:

http://pengetouristboard.co.uk/would-penge-by-any-other-name-smell-so-sweet-the-origins-of-the-p-word/

Penge it would seem is the only pre-English, British place name in Greater London. Most places around here have English names. Beckenham, Bromley, Croydon, Dulwich and Sydenham are all modern versions of place names which go back to Anglo-Saxon times. But Penge is older still. It derives from the British language spoken by the native population before the Anglo Saxon settlement, the language from which modern Welsh is descended.

The name has two parts. The ‘Pen’ part means “head” or “hill” or “high” or possibly “end”. The ‘ge’ part is a squashed survival of the word “coed” which means “wood”. So now you know!

We start our walk at Penge Post Office which is at 100 – 102 Penge High Street. Turn right out of the Post Office. Our first stop is soon on the right.

Stop 1: Empire Square/Blenheim Shopping Centre

Amazingly there used to be a variety theatre here in Penge, where now stands this ugly concrete shopping parade..

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It was called the Empire and all there is to remind us of this today is a street name.

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The strange thing about this square is that it is not really a square – rather it is a scrappy pedestrian way to a rather odd development called the Blenheim Centre, which sounds very grand but turns out to consist of a short Mall with about four shops.

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The Penge Empire was designed by well known theatrical architect W G R Sprague. According to the wonderful Arthur Lloyd site, it had been conceived in 1913, but did not open until April 1915 due to the outbreak of World War One.

The Empire was taken over by Gaumont Theatres in May 1928 but continued in live theatre use, although at some point a projection box was built into the stage for the rear projection showings of films.

In December 1946 Moss Empires took over the lease of the Theatre and repaired some damage which had been caused in the blitz. The Theatre was sold on and eventually taken over by Essoldo Cinemas in 1949 reopening as the Empire Cinema in October the same year, still using the rear projection box on the stage.

In 1950, the theatre was renamed Essoldo and after it eventually closed in April 1960. the site was redeveloped.

Now keep going along the High Street and our next stop is just after the traffic lights.

Stop 2: Site of Odeon Cinema

Now on the right just past the Sainsbury’s supermarket is a J D Wetherspoons pub. This is built on the site of an old cinema.

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Here stood an Odeon. Opened in July 1937, it was designed by noted cinema architect Andrew Mather and had seating for around 1,500. The facade was covered in opaque glass panels and there was a glass tower on each side of the entrance, which were illuminated from within.

The Odeon closed in September 1976 and was converted into a bingo club which survived until March 1990. The building was demolished in 1994 and replaced by this Wetherspoons pub called ‘The Moon and Stars’, which opened on 24 December 1994.

There was actually another cinema just a little further along. This was the Gaumont opened in 1910 as the Kings Hall, renamed Gaumont in 1955 and closed in 1958. The site has been redeveloped.

It is strange to think that in the 1940s and 1950s there were three places of theatrical entertainment in quite a short stretch of street and today there is nothing left of any one of them.

Now retrace your steps and turn left at the cross roads. Then turn right into Evelina Road

Just here on the right are a couple of pieces of street art.

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The one right on Evelina Road is called “Jam” by Dan Kitchener. A first glance it is just a blur of colour but then you see it is a street scene on a rainy night.

And just behind is another one. This is called “Work” by DZIA.

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There is quite of lot of this street art around. You just keep spotting it. It seems there are around 100 spray paint art works around Penge. There is even a trail you can follow more of which anon.

Now keep walking along Evelina Road and you get to the back of the Blenheim Centre. If you keep walking and follow the road round to the right you get to Blenheim Road.

According to the Notable Abodes site, Number 36 Blenheim Road was the childhood home of former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, from 1936 to 1958 – though when he lived here he was called William Perks. Notable Abodes notes the house has since been demolished – in fact the highest number house in Blenheim Road today in Number 6. So there’ll be no plaque to Bill round here, I guess.

At the end of Blenheim Road turn right and head back to the High Street. Our next stop is on the other side of the High Street and slightly to the right.

Stop 3: Penge Triangle

Over the road is a paved area which goes by the name of the Penge Triangle and which is dominated by this umbrella like thing.

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This is supposed to echo the wing structures of a pterodactyl – a passing reference no doubt to the dinosaurs just up the road in Crystal Palace Park. It was created in 2001 and is actually a clock.

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Our next stop is just along the High Street on the right. You cannot really miss this.

Stop 4: Former Free Watermen and Lightermen’s Almhouses

Standing in its own grounds protected from the riff raff of Penge by high fences and gates, here we have the former Free Watermen and Lightermen’s Almhouses.

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As the name suggests, these were built by the Watermen and Lightermen’s Company – the City Livery Company for people who work on the river Thames. I had not really thought about this but the difference between Watermen and Lightermen is that the former carry passengers whilst the latter carry goods and cargo. (at least that’s what the Company website says)

These almshouses were for retired Company Freemen and their widows  Architectural commentator Pevsner says these were built in 1840/41 “when Tudor was the inevitable style for almshouses”. . They ceased to be an almshouse in 1973 when the residents moved to Hastings. Today there are 51 bungalows in Hastings, still providing housing for Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames or their widows/widowers.

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There is a nice piece about the history of the almshouses and about how they ended up being built in Penge rather than New Cross as originally intended.

https://pengepast.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/penge-by-design-the-watermens-almshouses/

Continue past the former almshouses and our next stop is on the right.

Stop 5: St John’s Church

St John’s Church stands proud next to the almshouses and is a typical confident Victorian church. It dates from 1850 with additions made in the 1860s.

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Pevsner does not exactly go over board with this church, noting “The best thing inside is the open timber roofs, those in the transepts especially provocative, with beams from all four directions meeting in mid air.”

Opposite the church on the other side of the main road is Penge’s war memorial.

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A closer look reveals the poppies are not all they seem.

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They are knitted!

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Now go back over the High Street and down St John’s Road. Our next stop is soon on the right.

Stop 6: Queen Adelaide Court

This is a post war development on a site damaged by bombing.

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Just above the name on the side of the building you will see a little medallion.

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Note the Latin motto: Suum cuique”. This is often translated as “to each his own”.

Penge has had an interesting relationship with London, having been both in Surrey and in Kent. It was once connected to the parish of Battersea and historically was in the county of Surrey.

According to Wikipedia:

“Penge formed part of the County of London from 1889. In 1900 the local government arrangements in the County of London were reformed by the London Government Act 1899. Provision was made for Penge to be combined with either the Metropolitan Borough of Camberwell or the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London, to be combined with the County Borough of Croydon, or to form an urban district in the counties of Surrey or Kent. Had it become an urban district in Surrey, the County Borough of Croydon would have made it an exclave of the administrative county, and in the event it was transferred to Kent as an urban district.”

Then when London local government was reformed in 1965 Penge Urban District was merged in to the new London Borough of Bromley.

Bromley does not think it is really in London. And I guess this helps explain why virtually none of the street name plates have the mention of this being SE20 – a London postal district.

Going back to St John’s Road you will see another little plaque on the building, noting it won an Award for Merit in the Festival of Britain in 1951.

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Our next stop is on the other side of St John;s Road.

Stop 7: King William IV Gardens (former King William Naval Asylum)

And here are some more Tudor style 19th century almshouses. Funded in 1847, designed by Philip Hardwick (best known for old Euston station) and paid for by Queen Adelaide, by then the widow of King William IV, these were for the widows of naval officers. William served in the Royal Navy in his youth and had the nickname of the “Sailor King”.

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Oddly the street named King William IV Gardens seems to encompass the estate, with the little cottage style buildings looking into a green area, which can be seen through the fence (and which you cannot see in the photo!).

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Pevsner says the Naval Asylum is  “not only more correct than Porter (the Watermen’s architect) could manage to be, but much more sensitively designed.”

Continue along St John’s Road and our next stop is ahead as the road turns to the left.

Stop 8: Penge East Station

Here we have a quite well preserved station in yellow London stock brick with accents of red and blue brick to decorate the main building.

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This is one of two stations in Penge. Here we have Penge East. It was built by the London Chatham and Dover Railway in 1863. It was called Penge or Penge Lane, and was only renamed Penge East in July 1923, presumably when the newly formed Southern Railway found they had two stations called Penge.

When the line was built there was a level crossing but this was removed in about 1879 and the traffic had to find other ways to cross. The covered footbridge was presumably added when the level crossing was taken out as it dates from the 1880s.

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Opposite the station you might have spotted some rather distinctive street art on the corner of St John’s Road. This is actually at the start of a trail you can follow. Here is a link::

A Street Art Guide To Penge

Immediately facing the station is ‘Golden Goddess’ by Carleen De Sozer.

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Then back down St John’s Road you will see various pieces – by Artista, Chinagirl Tile & Dope.

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There is one (just behind that grey car in the picture above) which does not appear in the Street Art Guide. It looks freshly painted.

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This is by by TRUST iCON and is apparently called “Stop and Search”.

Now go back to the station and follow Station Road which then turns and becomes Crampton Road. Go to the end and then turn right into the High Street. Go under the first railway bridge and note the bricked up entrance on the left just before the pub.

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Here we pass what I think was one of the original entrances to Penge West station. Turn left after the pub into Anerley Park. Note the other railway bridge ahead. This carries the line that goes into Crystal Palace.

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And if you kept going along the road you would soon get to the end of Crystal Palace Park, near where we left off with the dinosaurs in SE19. (I think in fact those dinosaurs may actually be in SE20) .

Once round the corner, take the first left. Our next stop is straight ahead.

Stop 9: Penge West station

It has to be said that Penge West station is a somewhat less impressive affair that Penge East.

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The building is meaner and when you get to see the platforms you find that country bound platform has lost whatever buildings it might have had.

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The first station here was built by the London and Croydon Railway in 1839. Wikipedia suggests this was probably more for logistical reasons than anything else: the railway crossed the nearby High Street by a level crossing, and the station would have provided a place for trains to wait while the crossing gates were opened for them. The population of Penge was only around 270 at this time, not enough to make the station commercially viable.

The station was closed in 1841, and the level crossing was converted to a bridge soon afterwards. The entrance to the station was actually on Penge High Street, and not its current position. As we saw there is evidence of what looks like an original entrance.

The station was reopened by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway on 1 July 1863. This was the same day that the London Chatham and Dover Railway opened its own Penge Lane station. No doubt the Brighton company decided it ought to cash in on this location. Penge’s population had risen to over 5,000 and the arrival of Crystal Palace in the 1850s had also created a demand for improved transport.

This odd history probably explains why the next station down the line is so close. Look down the line and you can see Anerley station. This is where we are going to next (This image has been foreshortened by the camera and so over emphasises the closeness)

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There are three ways you can get to Anerley station from here. You can return to Anerley Park and turn left and follow that. Or you can go back to the High Street and turn right and follow Oakfield Road and Annerley Station Road. Or finally you can hop on a train. There are usually 6 an hour..

Stop 10: Anerley station

Anerley station is even less impressive than Penge West, having lost all its original buildings. It must be quite a lonely station at night, living up to its name.

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The station was opened originally as Anerley Bridge by the London and Croydon Railway in 1839.

There is a curious story about how this area came to be called Anerley according to Wikipedia. .

When the station opened, it was situated in a largely unpopulated area, but was built as part of an agreement with the local landowner. This may explain its closeness to what is now Penge West.

The landowner was William Sanderson, a Scotsman, and, when asked for the landmark by which the station would be known, it is said he replied “Mine is the annerly hoose”. According to the London Encyclopaedia, the name Annerley was a northern dialect word meaning “alone” or “lonely”.

The London and Croydon Railway amalgamated with the London & Brighton Railway to form the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in July 1846, and the station was rebuilt during the widening of the main line during 1849/50.

Now head up to the main road and cross the bridge (if you have come from the station platform or via Anerley Station Road.

Stop 11: former Anerley Town hall

Just by the railway bridge you will see an unlikely looking building which turns out to be the old Town Hall.

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It seems odd to find a municipal building in such an out of the way place. This was built as Anerley Vestry Hall in 1878. It became the Town Hall when Penge Urban District Council was formed in 1900. It was enlarged in 1911 and it was used by Penge Council until 1965 when the area became part of the new London Borough of Bromley. It now houses Anerley Library, a various amenity groups.

Now go back over the bridge and a little way along the road you will see a park on the right. This is our next stop.

Stop 12: Betts Park

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The park was created from land donated by Mr Frederick Betts, a local property owner. It opened in December 1928.

If you head into the park you will see a stretch of water.

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There is a good information panel which explains the significance of this bit of water.

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It is about the only part of the Croydon Canal to still have water in it.

The Croydon Canal opened in 1809 but it was never a commercial success and as we heard when we were in SE4 the route was taken over and used by the London and Croydon railway in the 1830s. But here the canal meandered a bit and so the railway took a straighter path, leaving this stretch behind. After the creation of Betts Park, this stretch was reinstated, although it does not go anywhere now.

This brings us to the end of our SE20 walk proper. SE20 turned out to more interesting than I expected with its long lost places of entertainment, two sets of almshouses and three stations plus a load of 21st Century street art. If you want to finish here we are close to Anerley station for onward travel. However I have to include a little postscript because not too far from here is a street with no less than three blue plaques!

Head through the park to the other side and when you get to the road turn right into Croydon Road. Alternatively you can go down Anerley Road to the cross roads and turn right into Croydon Road. You are heading for the fifth side street on the left after the cross roads – this is Thornsett road.

Postscript

Number 12 Thornsett Road (once home of Thomas Crapper)

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This was where Thomas Crapper (1837 – 1910) lived for the last 6 years of his life.

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As it says on his blue plaque, he was an “Engineer” and “Developer of the controlled flow cistern”. But it turns out that there is no connection between the word “crap” and Thomas Crapper.

Crap is an old English word which was in use long before Mr Crapper started making and selling toilets in the 19th century.

Here is a link which explains:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-cra1.htm

There is a company today called Thomas Crapper making various toilet related items. But it is a reincarnation. and not the original company set up by Crapper in 1861 and which lasted until the 1960s.

Here is a link to the current company’s site:

https://www.thomas-crapper.com/The-History-of-Thomas-Crapper.html

Now strangely there is a also blue plaque on the house next door.

Number 14 Thornsett Road (once home of Walter de la Mare) 

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This was the family home of the poet and writer Walter de la Mare between 1912 and 1925.

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The Poetry Foundation site says: “As a poet de la Mare is often compared with Thomas Hardy and William Blake for their respective themes of mortality and visionary illumination.”

And finally just a little way along on the other side of the road is our third blue plaque.

Number 21 Thornsett Road: (former home of George Daniels)

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This plaque is for George Daniels (1926 – 2011) and is unusual in who was responsible for putting up the plaque.

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This plaque is attributed to The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, The British Horological Institute and the Antiquarian Horological Society. Quite an unusual bunch to be putting up a plaque.

According to Wikipedia: he was “a British horologist who was considered to be the best in the world during his lifetime. He was one of the few modern watchmakers who built complete watches by hand (including the case and dial). But it was his creation of the coaxial escapement for which he is most remembered. The movement, which removed the need to add a lubricant, has been used by Omega in their highest-grade watches since 1999”.

He was also interested in, and collected, classic cars.

More about him on this site: http://www.danielslondon.com/dr-george-daniels-cbe/

So that really does bring us to the end of our SE20 walk. From Thornsett Road you can return to Croydon Road and hop on a bus to Norwood Junction or Penge  – or else maybe walk back to Anerley.

SE19 Crystal clear

SE19 is Upper Norwood in Post Office speak but this is really what I think most people would call Crystal Palace.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 51 – 53 Westow Street in that triangle of streets which forms the heart of the district of Crystal Palace.

Take a left out of the Post Office and go past the junction. Ahead is Church Road. Our first stop is just after the little park on the right.

Stop 1: Queen’s Hotel, 122 Church Road

Today there is a large hotel on this site.

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But this was once home to French writer, Emile Zola (1840 – 1902).

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One of the things Zola is remembered for is his part in the Dreyfus affair and it was because of this he ended up in London – here in Crystal Palace.

The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. It had begun in December 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris, Evidence came to light in 1896 that the real culprit was a French Army major named Esterhazy. But high ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence and a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy. The Army then accused Dreyfus with additional charges based on falsified documents.

This is where Zola comes in. He wrote an open letter to the French President, Félix Faure. which accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and antisemitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus. This letter was headed “J’accuse” and was published on the front page of the Paris daily newspaper L’Aurore on 13 January 1898.

Zola wanted to be prosecuted for libel so that the new evidence in support of Dreyfus would be made public. He was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898 and was convicted on 23 February. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England in July 1898 ending up staying here in Crystal Palace until June 1899 when he was allowed to return to France. It would seem he did not much like his time in London.

Dreyfus was retried in 1899 but it resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence. However Dreyfus was given a pardon and set free. Eventually it was established that all the accusations against Dreyfus were false and in 1906 he was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He later served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He died in 1935.

Now return back along Church Road and turn right into Belvedere Road

Go down the hill and turn left into Cintra Park

Our next stop is on the left as the road curves off to the right and where a little street called Rama Lane comes in

Stop 2: Number 28 Cintra Park

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This house was the childhood home of Marie Stopes (1880 – 1958)

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Marie Stopes was an author and campaigner for eugenics and women’s rights, founding the first birth control clinic in Britain in Holloway in 1921. It moved to Whitfield Street, W1 in 1925 – from where a Marie Stopes clinic still operates.

Interestingly Stopes was strongly against the termination of a pregnancy and during her lifetime her clinics did not offer abortions.

It also seems she was a bit of an idealist wanting to create a society in which only the best and the beautiful should survive. Consistent with this. she took against the partner her son had chosen. The woman was short sighted meaning the grandchildren might inherit the condition.

Now take a left here along Patterson Road. You will see the building at our next stop looming high above the houses.

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Follow Patterson Road round as it turns right and then it becomes Milestone Road just before it turns to the left. A little way after the turn, there is an alley where you can see that large building a bit closer up.

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At the end is Church Road, turn left here and our next stop is just on the left

Stop 3: former Granada cinema, 25 Church Road

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This is the front of that large building we saw from below. It is strange to think that this fairly modest facade actually hides quite a large old cinema.

According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it opened as the Rialto Cinema in October 1928 with nearly 1,400 seats. It was built by an Australian, A.C. Matthews, who was also the architect. Two years later he also designed and built the adjacent Albany Cinema.

After various changes in ownership he two cinemas were taken over by the Granada chain in March 1949.

They employed noted cinema architect George Coles to modernise the Rialto building. It was re-named the Granada in September 1950 and closed as a cinema in May 1968. It then became a full time Bingo Club for around 40 years – from June 1968 until Spring 2009.

The building was put up for sale. One interested party wanted to reopen this as an art house cinema. But in the end, the Kingsway International Christian Centre purchased the building. There was strong local opposition to this becoming a church, instead wanting cinema use to return. The local council refused planning permission to convert the building into a church, and although several cinema operators were interested in the building, the church refused to sell it.

Eventually the Church conceded and sold the building to the Everyman chain of cinemas in January 2018. They plan to convert the building into a four screen cinema.

Now go a little way along and after a small derelict space you will see the other former cinema.

Stop 4: site of Century Cinema, 37 – 43 Church Road

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This opened in January 1930. After various changes in ownership in the 1930s, it was requisitioned by the Government to be used as a food store until July 1948.

It was acquired by the Granada chain in 1949 and after refurbishment, it reopened in December 1950 as the Century Cinema. It was closed in May 1958

The building remained empty for a couple of years, then it was gutted internally and becoming a car showroom and later a funeral directors. Today the building is unused and there is a notice saying planning permission is being sought to redevelop the site for housing.

Now return back along Church Road. Whilst here, you will notice many of the shops have blue stickers indicating what kind of shop or business traded here in the past.

Here are a few examples:

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This was an initiative of the Norwood Society. Their Plaques Project is part of the Society’s aim to encourage local people to engage with the history of Norwood, and particularly the Triangle in Upper Norwood. Plaques are displayed in shop windows in ‘The Triangle’ (Westow Hill, Westow Street and Church Road SE19) showing a significant past trade, trader or some history of the building. This project was launched to coincide with the Crystal Palace Overground Festival in June 2017. What I thought was interesting is that almost all the shops were doing a diiferent business today compared with the past.

The link below gives access to the full list of “plaques”

https://norwoodsociety.co.uk/blue-plaques.html

At the end do a left and our next stop is almost immediately on the right.

Stop 5: Number 77 Westow Hill

This building at the end of Westow Hill dates from 1884. It used to be a National Westminster bank but is now a Solicitors’ office.

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On the road side of the building you will find a blue plaque in the usual style but actually with the names “National Westminster Bank” and “Crystal Palace Foundation”. This commemorates the fact that French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903) stayed here in 1870/71.

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We came across the Pissarros when we were in W4 because this is where Camille Pissarro’s son Lucien lived with his family for a few years from 1897. Between 7 May and 20 July 1897, Camille stayed there while Lucien was convalescing from a stroke. But Camille had been in London before.

After the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, he moved to England because he had Danish nationality and was unable to join the army. He first settled here in Upper Norwood. His style of painting was not to English tastes of the time being a forerunner of what would later be called “Impressionism”.

Like Monet who was also in London in this period, he favoured painting outdoors in order to more effectively capture the atmosphere and light. He painted a number of pictures in this part of south east London.

By the by, across the road at Number 88 Westow Hill, there is a Norwood Society blue plaque for an early 20th century dentist (Robinson’s American Teeth Institute – what a great name!). The premises today are a dentist, though sadly with the rather less interesting name of Crystal Palace Dental Practice.

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Now return to the junction and you will see some pillars at the corner.

Stop 6: site of The Vicar’s Oak

The pillars each have a rather sad looking plaque which says that this is the site of “The Vicar’s Oak”. It also says “Crystal Palace Park”, “Boundaries” and “Date” “1988”

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There is a sign about a project here called “The Vicar’s Oak”, saying “coming soon”

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It would seem that there was an ancient tree which marked the place where the boundaries of four boroughs (Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark) meet. The project is to create a path and garden. The project was initiated a couple of years ago, There is website listed on the sign:

http://www.invisiblepalace.org.uk/boundaries.html

This has lots of pictures but very few words. It is frustratingly vague on what actually has happened.

But if you go through the gates there is this very neat and attractive garden.

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Is this what was created under the project? If so it is a shame that there is no information about it on the website.

Return to the street and turn left.

Stop 7: Crystal Palace Museum

Now head a little way down the hill from the Crystal Palace Parade and you will find this small museum on your left.

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The Museum tells the story of Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass structure originally built in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. It was moved here to the top of a hill here in what was the countryside in 1854. 

The Museum tells the story of Crystal Palace both on its original site and here. It is housed in the only surviving building constructed by the Crystal Palace Company built around 1880 as a lecture room for the Company’s School of Practical Engineering. The story of both palaces is told in a series of unique images supplemented by large scaled models of the Crystal Palace plus showcases displaying ceramics and other items associated with the Crystal Palace including remnants from the original building.

The Museum is only open on Sundays from 11am to 3pm. They also run a guided tour of the site on the first Sunday of each month from April until October.

More information about this fascinating little museum is at:

http://www.crystalpalacemuseum.org.uk/

Now retrace your steps and turn right into Crystal Palace Parade, where you will see a bus terminal on the right.

Stop 8: site of Crystal Palace High Level Station

To your left is a side street called Farquhar Road which goes over a kind of a bridge to your left. Cross this and look along the way and you will see a long retaining wall and some new buildings.

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This is the site of a railway station known as Crystal Palace High Level.

After the Palace was moved here it became a tourist attraction, initially served by a station  a little down the hill opened by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (we will get to that shortly)

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway wanted a slice of the action and so promoted  the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway to link to an existing  line of theirs a bit further north. The new branch opened in August 1865 and had a lavish terminal designed by Edward Middleton Barry (1830 – 1880). E M Barry was one of the sons of Sir Charles Barry and is probably best known for his work on the Royal Opera House and Floral Hall and also for finishing the Palace of Westminster after his father’s death in 1860.

After the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936, traffic on the branch declined. During World War II the line was temporarily closed after bomb damage. Temporary repairs were made but the need for substantial investment to fully reconstruct the line and the limited traffic potential led to the closure of the whole branch in September 1954.

The station was demolished in 1961 and sadly none of the buildings remain..

The site of the station was redeveloped mainly for housing in the 1970s, but the retaining walls below Crystal Palace Parade and the ornamental portal of the tunnel to the north of the station are still here, as we shall see. But first our next stop.

Go over the bridge and follow Farquhar Road round until you reach Number 45..

Stop 9: Number 45 Farquhar Road

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This was once the home of actor and film director Leslie Howard (1893-1943). He lived here for about 4 years from 1907.

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Althogh he was a successful stage actor both in London and on Broadway, he is probably best remembered for playing Ashley Wilkes in the epic movie Gone with the Wind (1939). But he had roles in many other notable films, including: Berkeley Square (1933), Of Human Bondage (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Petrified Forest (1936), Pygmalion (1938), Intermezzo (1939) and The First of the Few (1942). He received two nominations for the Best Actor Oscar for Berkeley Square and Pygmalion.

His family name was originally Steiner. But during the First World War they anglicised this to Stainer. But in 1920 the budding actor decided to use his middle name and become known as Leslie Howard.

Now just opposite you will see a side turning called  Bowley Close. Go down here and you will see a closer view of the retaining walk but note there is a section which looks different. This is where there was a subway linking the High level station to the Palace site.

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Now go back to Farquhar Road and turn right and then right again into Bowley Lane. Follow the land round and you will get back to the retaining wall and a road that goes off parallel to it. This is a private street called Spinney Gardens.

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But if you look down here you will see a portal to a tunnel. This is where the line out of the High Level station went.

Now head back along Farquhar road over the bridge and turn left into Crystal Palace Parade. Our next stop is ahead.

Stop 10: Crystal Palace subway

On either side of the road is a bridge parapet.

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The one on the left has a banner which talks about Friends of Crystal Palace subway and shows a picture of a wonderfully ornate passageway.

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I mentioned the now demolished High Level Station was connected to the Palace by a subway. This was fan-vaulted pedestrian subway in finely detailed red and cream brickwork. This subway and an adjacent courtyard survived the 1936 fire, and was used as an air raid shelter during World War II. It is now Grade II listed building.

This subway is right below here but is not normally accessible. All you can see is the remains of the way into it from the Palace side – which is to your right.

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There is a brick wall on the old station side which we saw the other side of.

“Friends of Crystal Palace Subway” have website on the subway.

http://www.cpsubway.org.uk/

This says (in a note dated January 2018) that the subway will be closed for an unknown amount of time while Southwark Council complete works to their terrace. But hopefully there will be opportunities to actually visit the subway in the not too distant future.

Now head into the Crystal Palace Park.

Stop 11: site of Crystal Palace

The first section laid out below you is I think roughly where the great glass structure once stood. But to day it is just a wide terrace

There are lots of maps to help orientate you.

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There is a wealth of information about the Palace, how it came to be moved here from Hyde Park and what happened subsequently on this website:

http://www.crystalpalacefoundation.org.uk/

At either end of the terrace are some models of Sphinxes which are half-man, half-lion creatures associated with ancient Egypt. The sphinxes were based on a red granite sphinx at the Louvre museum in Paris. There used to be 12 in the original decorative scheme but only 6 survive.

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They are not made of granite though. They are painted and during the 20th century eventually lost their original colouring, only being restored to this distinctive colour in 2016.

Go down the steps and off the terrace to the right. Looking back you get a good view of the structure of the terrace which has survived

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Stop 12: Crystal Palace station

Now you will be able to see the main station at Crystal Palace – once known  as the low level station.

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When the station first opened on 1854 it was just the terminus of a spur line from Sydenham. In 1856 the station was able to take through train services to West Norwood and Streatham Hill and beyond, following the completion of the 746 yard (690 m) Crystal Palace Tunnel. Although relatively short, the tunnel was regarded as a major engineering achievement as it was cut through the hill on which the Crystal Palace stood and went immediately under one of the Palace’s great water towers

In 1857, an eastward connection was made to Norwood Junction (for the Brighton line to the south) and in 1858 a connection was made to allow trains to go to Beckenham Junction. The frontage of the station was rebuilt in 1875

Until the arrival of London Overground this was a somewhat neglected station with the northern (grander) side of the station only partly used. In the 1980s passengers were channelled through a rather mean (in comparison) new ticket hall off to the south side.

But now the original ticket hall now been magnificently restored and forms the main entrance – the 1980s building having been demolished.

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Going inside you see the station is in two halves. the grander northern side with a cavernous brick hall.

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And a new modern overall roof dating from 2015

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And then to the right hand side is a smaller more modest pair of platforms.

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We have now reached the end of our SE19 walk and are conveniently here at the main station for onward travel. but before you leave, it is worth a short detour to see one of the famous features of the Crystal Palace Park – though I guess they may be just over the border in SE20!

Post script

You cannot come to Crystal Palace and not see the dinosaurs.

So head down the park from the station keeping the running track to your left. Go past Capel Manor and you will see a lake ahead. That is where the dinosaurs live.

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When the park was laid out, the sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins was commissioned to make 33 life sized models of the (then) newly discovered dinosaurs and other extinct animals for the park.

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These are usually a great hit with children – and quite a few adults also!

SE18: Equitable and Co-operative

SE18 is Woolwich, known for the former Dockyard and Royal Arsenal, but also as the home of two major institutions, sadly no longer with us – the Woolwich Equitable Building Society and the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society.

We start our walk at Woolwich Post Office which is Numbers 68 – 72 Powis Street. Turn left out of the Post Office and our first stop is soon on the left.

Stop 1: McDonald’s, Numbers 56 – 58 Powis Street

Now I would not normally mention McDonald’s, but the one in Woolwich has a special place in the story of fast food in the UK.

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The branch here in Powis Street was the first McDonald’s in the UK – opening in November 1974. There is a plaque to the left of the entrance but weirdly this makes no mention of the fact it was first British McDonald’s.

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Instead it focuses on this branch being the 3000th “restaurant”. By the way McDonald’s was founded in 1940. Therefore it look 34 years to get up to 3,000 locations. But the growth since has been astounding. By the end of 2016 it traded in around 36,500 locations – so in 42 years from November 1974 to December 2016 it added around a net 33,500. That is quite some going,

Now return along Powis Street and our next stop is a little further along the street, on both sides of the road.

Stop 2: Former department store buildings

Here as today’s shopping street peters out we get to the former Royal Arsenal Co-operative Stores (RACS) Department Store buildings. On the left we have the Edwardian one, dating from 1903.

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And in the niche over the main door is a statue of Alexander McLeod.  McLeod (1832-1902) was one of the founders of RACS and was its first full-time secretary from 1882 until his death.

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More about him from the entry on the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association site::

http://www.pmsa.org.uk/pmsa-database/3132/

Now look over the road and you will see the 1930s extension

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It looks like a cross between a cinema and a multi-storey car park.

We have come across the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) before. It was started in 1868 as the Royal Arsenal Supply Association by workers from the Royal Arsenal, and became Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society in 1872. In the century that followed, the society’s activities expanded from selling food into a huge range of commercial, social & political activities. Eventually by the 1970s it had branches across most of South London and into parts of Hampshire, Berkshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. But by the 1980s it was a retail dinosaur in big trouble and in 1985 it merged into the national Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The department stores were I think soon closed down, leaving these buildings as a reminder of what had been a major retailing chain. What is noticeable about the RACS stores we have come across is that they were not well located. The one in Lewisham was on the wrong side of the main road from most of the other shops except the other (now closed) Department store. The one in Peckham was right at the end of the main shopping street and so it is here  in Woolwich.

Today the Edwardian building houses a Travelodge amongst other things and the 1930s building is being converted into apartments.

Now continue along Powis Street. Our next stop is ahead on the right. You might note as you walk along how suddenly there are some quite modest buildings sandwiched between the grandeur of the RACS store and the upcoming Granada cinema.

Stop 3: Former Granada cinema, Numbers 174 – 186 Powis Street

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Today the building is used as church but according to the wonderful Cinema Treasures site, it was opened in April 1937 by Granada as a cinema, with stage facilities.

Although the outside is a sweeping Art Deco brick box and tower, inside was Gothic style. Apparently this was a scaled down version of the Granada, Tooting. Like Tooting the interior design was carried out by Russian set designer Theodore Komisarjevsky.

The Granada Theatre had a full working stage. It hosted Christmas pantomimes and during the 1960s ‘one night only’ pop music shows were put on – the Beatles even played here once on 3 June 1963.

It became a part time Bingo Hall in 1961 and finally took on Bingo full time in October 1966. The building was Grade II listed in January 1974 and this was enhanced to a Grade II* Listing in October 2000. Bingo ceased in July 2011 and it was taken over by a church.

Now look ahead and you can see our next stop across the road – another former cinema.

Stop 4: Former Odeon cinema, John Wilson Street

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This is the kind of streamline Art Deco that screams Odeon, as indeed it was. It opened as the Odeon cinema in October 1937, just months after the Granada over the road.

The interior could not have been more different from the Granada with troughs of concealed lighting and moulded plaster decoration. According to Cinema Treasures, much of the interior was lost in a “modernisation” in May 1964. However it was listed heritage listed Grade II in December 1973.

It continued as the Odeon cinema until October 1981. The building lay empty and unused for almost two years until it was reopened by an independent film exhibitor in July 1983 as the Coronet Cinema. Having been converted into a twin cinema in July 1990, it finally closed in June 1999. It was taken over by the New Wine Church from 2001 and it remains a church to this day.

Whilst it is good to see the building is use, it does look kind of bare without any signs on the bulk of the interior.

Now as you look at the cinema go to the left and you will see a gardens, go in the gate and straight ahead is our next stop.

Stop 5: St Mary Magdalene Church

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The Church’s website says this has been a church has been on the present site for over 1000 years. However the building we see today dates from the 18th century.

Architectural bible, Pevsner, says this is: “One of the churches rebuilt with money from the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711 but begun only in 1727 and not completed until 1739.” It was extended in the 1890s.

High up on the east end of the church is a stone panel with an inscription: “Ne Despectetes Qui Peccare Soletis Exemplo Meo Vos Reparate Deo”.

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This translates as: “Do not despair, you who have fallen into the way of sin, restore yourself through my example and through God”  This is a quotation from, I believe, the book of Luke and is commonly associated with St Mary Magdalene. Interesting isn’t it that it takes 20 words of English to say what only needs 10 words in Latin.

Now head to the right between the church and the back of the old Odeon Cinema. Ahead you will see a grand tomb with a lion on the top. Pevsner describes this as “pathetic and a little ridiculous”.

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The plinth has the following inscription: “Respect the ashes of the dead”

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This is the last resting place of one Thomas Cribb (1781 – 1848)

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He was an English bare-knuckle boxer, in fact he was so successful that he became “world champion”. He later turned his hand to being a publican, running the Union Arms in Panton Street, just off Haymarket in central London. Today that pub is called the Tom Cribb. He retired to Woolwich in 1839 which is where he later died.

Now head out of the church yard. You will have to go almost to the front of the church to access the path that goes downhill away from the church.

You will see our next stop across the way by the river.

Stop 6: Woolwich Ferry

We saw this from the other side when we were in E16. There has been a ferry operating in Woolwich since the 14th century. The free service opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west

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Looking along the river you get a nice view of Canary Wharf.

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And just along the river front from the ferry terminal is the distinctive brick rotunda which houses the entrance to the foot tunnel which opened in 1912.

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Now keep walking along the river front. This is where the Royal Arsenal once was. This whole site is in the process of being redeveloped.

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Soon you will see some of the older building on the Royal Arsenal site

Stop 7: Woolwich Royal Arsenal site

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing, and explosives research for the British armed forces. The land here was part of the grounds of a Tudor house and known as Woolwich Warren. The Government purchased the Warren in the late 17th century in order to expand the nearby base in Woolwich Dockyard which was to the west of the modern day ferry.

Over the next two centuries, the site expanded massively so by the time of the First World War the Arsenal it covered 1,285 acres (520 ha) and employed almost 80,000 people. In the 20th century its operations were scaled down. It finally closed as a factory in 1967 and the Ministry of Defence moved out in 1994. But for most of its life, it was a closed place, not accessible to the public.

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It is now being redeveloped mainly for housing. And they seem to using the rather terrible acronym RARE – Royal Arsenal Riverside Explore – which is kind of meaningless in a meaningful way.

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By the riverside are two brick pavilions which were built as Guardrooms in 1814/15.

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Then just in the square nearby is a modern sculpture installation consisting of around 16 metal figures which are partly cut away

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The name of this work is Assembly and it is by Peter Burke from the early 2000s. They are made of cast iron and this is edition 1 of 4. So somewhere there are three more like this!

Now you will see a roadway heading away from the river. It is called No 1 Street. Follow this.

On both sides there are some old buildings surviving from the old Royal Arsenal.

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On the left is the site of Firepower – The Royal Artillery Museum. This closed in 2016 after having been based in Woolwich for almost two centuries. It was moved to Wiltshire.

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Note in particular on the right in Artillery Square, there is the Heritage Centre, which is worth a quick look (It is free to enter).

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The Heritage Centre tried to fill the gap left by the loss of Firepower by creating a new permanent exhibition “Making Woolwich: The Royal Regiment of Artillery in Woolwich”.

A number of the buildings around here are now owned by Greenwich Council with a view to creating a new cultural and heritage quarter.

Continue and you will see ahead is the Royal Brass Foundry of 1717.

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This building is attributed to Sir John Vanburgh. The Government decided to build its own foundry for brass here in what had been a naval storage establishment since the 16th century. The move was precipitated by an explosion at a privately owned foundry in Moorfields near the City. Guns were cast here until the 1870s.

Now head out of the site past the Dial Arch pub.

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Cross the main road and look back and to the right.

Stop 8: site of Crossrail station

This massive apartment development stands over the new Crossrail station, due to open at the end of 2018.

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There is not much to see now as the entrance has yet to be built and one cannot go down. However back in 2013 I was lucky enough to have a chance to take a tour round the concrete box that will hold the station.

Here is a link to a post and some pictures from that visit.

https://stephensldn.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/woolwich-crossrail-station-a-window-into-the-future/

Now go through the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse

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And then go into Berresford Square.

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Stop 9: Equitable House

Our next stop dominates one side of the square.

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The building underneath this scaffolding was built by the Woolwich Equitable Building Society as its headquarters in 1935.

The Society was founded in Woolwich in 1847 as the Woolwich Equitable Benefit Building and Investment Association, one of the first permanent building societies. Previously it had been a temporary society since 1842.

Building Societies grew up as a way of using the savings of a group of people to lend to some of those people so they could buy property. At first the societies were temporary in that they were time limited and would be wound up when all the members had a property. But they then start working on a rolling basis, taking on new savers and lending to new people. Hence the term “Permanent Building Society”. The key point about building societies were that they were owned by the members and not by shareholders.

The Woolwich (as it became known) grew to be one of the largest UK building societies and was famous in the 1980s for its entertaining TV advertising incorporating the slogan “I’m with the Woolwich”.

Like most building societies it gave up its mutual status to become a bank giving shares to investing and borrowing members of the society, and listing on the London Stock Exchange: This happened in 1997. It did not survive as an indepenedt company for very long as it was taken over by Barclays Bank in 2000

Initially the Woolwich brand was retained but in 2006, Woolwich branches were either closed or rebranded Barclays, although The Woolwich was kept for a time as a Barclays mortgage brand.

The Building Society had started in Powis Street, where it occupied various premises. From 1896 until 1935 they had a purpose built office at 111-113 Powis Street. From 1935 to 1989, Equitable House was the head office until they moved to new headquarters in nearby Bexleyheath, Equitable House continued as a branch office until 2007.

In 2010-11 it was converted to have a pub, a cafe and shops on the ground floor. The upper floors were initially rented out to a College but in 2016-17 the upper floors were converted into apartments.

The pub by the way is run by Antic – a chain of over 40 pubs mainly in south London.

Now head to the other side of the square. You will see a bear statue.

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This is Buddy Bear presented by Greenwich’s twin town of Reinickendorf, Berlin to commemorate 50 years of the link in 2016.

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Now head down Wellington Street. This has “The Great Harry” pub on the corner.

Stop 10 Woolwich Town Hall

Our next stop is ahead on the right. This is Woolwich Town Hall dating from 1903 – 1906

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Pevsner describes this as “florid Edwardian baroque” and goes on to say the “Interior is mainly given over to a large entrance hall of amazing grandeur for a London borough.”

The borough that built this was the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich which had been created in 1900. They clearly wanted to make their mark.

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After merger with neighbouring Greenwich in 1965, the new bigger borough eventually decided to concentrate its offices here rather than in Greenwich.

By the  way, the site next to the Town Hall used to be a place of entertainment, according to Cinema Treasures.

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First there was a theatre – opened as the Grand Theatre and Opera House in October 1900. From 1908 it was renamed Woolwich Hippodrome Theatre presenting twice nightly variety shows. But from November 1924 the Hippodrome Theatre was converted into full time cinema use, eventually becoming owned by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) from July 1935.

The Woolwich Hippodrome Theatre was closed in 1939 and demolished to enable a new ABC Cinema to be built on the site. Building work had commenced when war broke out and all construction was halted. ABC called the cinema the Regal and it eventually opened in September 1955.

It was renamed ABC in 1963 and closed in November 1982. The building was unused and derelict for several years and was later converted into a nightclub.

In May 2010, it was reported the building had been sold to an Apostolic Church. The church backed out of the deal, and it was sold to a community based theatre group in June 2011. It re-opened as a live theatre & performance space with plans to create & two-screen cinema, known as the Woolwich Grand Theatre. Sadly this did not go to plan, and demolition of the building began in November 2015. Now a new building is going up on the site.

Return to Beresford Square and head to the right where you will see our next stop.

Stop 11: Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre

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According to their website, the building which is now home to Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre was built as a generating station in 1916 and powered trams in the area until they ceased to run in 1953. For the next 20 years, the building was used as factory units, housing a wide variety of small businesses, under the ownership of the local council.

It opened as The Tramshed Theatre in the autumn of 1973, originally intended as a ‘youth’ offshoot of the Greenwich Theatre, but was relaunched the following summer with a bar and a wider variety of activities. The theatre was run by a company specially set up for the purpose, The Woolwich Theatre Ltd, although the building was (and still is) owned by the council. In 1985 the company went into liquidation and the operation was taken over by the Arts and Entertainments division of the London Borough of Greenwich.

Now go along a little bit and you will reach our last stop.

Stop 12: Woolwich Arsenal station

The station opened in 1849 on the North Kent Line from London to Gillingham. The station building was rebuilt in 1906 but the current station building dates from 1992-93. It is a striking design in steel and glass by the in house Architecture and Design Group of British Rail.

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Woolwich Arsenal was expanded in early 2009, when Transport for London completed the construction of an extension of the London City Airport branch of the Docklands Light Railway from King George V to Woolwich Arsenal, which is the branch’s new terminus. A new entrance was created and a tiled artwork was installed.

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This is called “Street LIfe” and is by Sir Michael Craig-Martin (1941 – ), an Irish born artist who has lived and worked in London since 1966. In the 1980s Craig-Martin was a tutor at Goldsmiths College. He is credited as being a significant influence on that group known as “Young British Artists”, which included people like Damien Hirst.

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Well that brings us to the end of our SE18 walk.

Woolwich has been shaped by its naval and military connections but it also has an important place in the history of mutualism with the eponymous Building Society and the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society. Plus there are two old cinemas which have somehow survived. And I know there is so much we could have seen in Woolwich but sadly we did not have the time.

We are now right by the main station for onward travel. Need I say more.

SE17: A tramp down Walworth Road

SE17 is Walworth. Walworth is one of those parts of London that is quite hard to place as it has kind of slipped off the map. This is probably to do with the fact there has been no railway station in Walworth since 1916 nor is there a very visible focal point, like a square or green. It is centred on a long shopping street which is not even called a Walworth High Street or High Road – it is just called Walworth Road.

We start our walk at Walworth Post Office at 234 – 236 Walworth Road. Turn left out of the Post Office and take the first street on your left.

Stop 1: former Manor Place Baths and Depot

This site is currently under redevelopment but it used to be a Southwark Council facility which included a waste transfer station, bath house buildings, as well as offices.

Number 33, Manor Place is a grade II listed building, originally constructed in 1898 as public bathing pools and a wash house. The bathing pools were closed in 1978 and then Southwark Council used the space as offices and storage. The site also includes Numbers 17 – 21 Manor Place. Completed in 1899, they once housed a coroner’s court and mortuary.

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The whole site was acquired by Notting Hill Housing in November 2013

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The plan is for 270 residential homes with a mix of market, intermediate and affordable units. Alongside the new homes, there are plans to develop a commercial space, created within under utilised existing buildings and within the railway arches that cut through the site. According to Notting Hill Housing’s website, the plans also retain the listed heritage structures 33 Manor Place and the neighbouring former Pool Building, for residential and commercial uses respectively.

And if you look at the building behind the red brick one on the street, there is an interesting structure that looks like the Pool. In the gable end there is a round window with some coloured glass.

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No doubt this feature will be retained somehow.

Return to Walworth Road and turn left continue along Walworth Road until you reach an elegant terrace.

Stop 2: Numbers 140 – 152 Walworth Road

This terrace is mentioned with faint praise by architectural guru Pevsner.

Pevsner says “Walworth Road has just one part of the late 18th century terrace which enables one to visualise how happy and unadventurous the road once looked. Number 140 – 152 [were] built circa 1790 for Henry Penton (of Pentonville)”.

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This terrace was headquarters of the Labour Party from 1980 until 1997 when they moved back to Westminster. It was known for a time as John Smith House after the sudden death of the then Labour leader in 1994

Today it is the home of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, an umbrella body for various unions. The confederation dates back to 1890 and today because of the various mergers of unions it consists of just five unions: Community; GMB; Prospect; Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians; and Unite the Union.

Our next stop is just over the road.

Stop 3: Walworth Town Hall and Cuming Museum

This is a complex of municipal buildings, the first of which was built by the Vestry of St Mary Newington, a predecessor of the borough of Southwark.

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There is an interesting piece on the Exploring Southwark website:

http://www.exploringsouthwark.co.uk/newington-town-hall/4594105604

When the parish of St Mary Newington merged with other local parishes in 1900 to form the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, members of the vestry of St Mary’s fought hard for the new borough to be called Newington. While this didn’t happen, Newington Vestry Hall became the town hall for the newly formed borough.

Today Newington is another of those places which has sort of disappeared. As Newington Butts is south of the Elephant and Newington Causeway north of it, then I guess Newington is what we today would call Elephant and Castle

Pevsner clearly does not rate these buildings, describing the Town Hall of 1866 as “sadly gothic in red brick” and the adjoining library of 1893 as “equally insignificant.”

This was also the location of the Cuming Museum.

Richard Cuming, and his son Henry Syer Cuming, had a passion for collecting. They lived in Walworth and Kennington during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Between them they acquired all kinds of objects from around the world – from clothing worn by North American Inuit people, early taxidermy from Europe and shoes from across Africa to superstitious charms from across London or tickets and toys from local fairs. Henry died in 1902 and left funds in his will to create a public museum to house his family’s collection.

The Cuming Museum first opened in 1906 in galleries above Newington Library. The museum opened new public spaces on the ground floor of the Town Hall in 2006. It was also Southwark’s local history museum.

Sadly a fire broke out on 25 March 2013, destroying part of the Town Hall roof and the Council Chamber, with further water damage to lower floors caused as a result of fighting the fire.

The collections of the Cuming Museum only suffered a very small loss – around 98% of objects on display at the time of the fire were recovered. But the museum galleries were very severely affected and so the Museum is currently closed and the collections are now being stored awaiting a solution to the display of the collections and public access to them

And next door is our next stop.

Stop 4: Walworth Clinic

This was built in 1937 and Pevsner does not even deign to comment – it is just mentioned without description.

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I guess as this was built before the National Health Service was created, it was the borough council who were behind the development. Interestingly this building is still being used to deliver health services.

Now go down the side street, Larcom Street and there is a Southwark blue plaque

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Babbage’s birthplace is disputed, but according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was most likely born at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth Road, London. However if you look up Crosby Row today it is in the Borough area and nowhere near Walworth Road. So I am not too clear why the plaque is here.

Babbage is considered by some to be a “father of the computer”, He is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer and all the essential ideas of modern computers are to be found in Babbage’s analytical engine.

Keep going along Larcom Street and you will find another Southwark plaque by the side entrance to the clinic building.

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This one is to Michael Faraday.

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Now according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was born in Newington Butts which is also not here. I have been unable to find out why this site was chosen for the plaque. It makes no sense.

Anyhow, Michael Faraday was an English scientist who contributed to the study of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. His main discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Go back to Walworth Road and turn left along the main road.

Stop 5: Herbert Morrison House

At the corner of Browning Street is a building called Herbert Morrison House

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It was used by the Labour Party as its headquarters until they moved to Transport House in Westminster in 1928, where they remained until they came back to Walworth Road in 1980. Hence I guess the name Herbert Morrison House, as he was a leading Labour local and national politician in the first half of the 20th century.

But this building has an earlier life as evidenced by the little crest over the door which says around the outside “Robert Browning Settlement” and the words “All’s Love and All’s Law in a cross formation in the middle.

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The latter is a quotation from section XVII of Robert Browning’s 1855 poem ‘Saul’:

“I have gone the whole round of creation: I saw and I spoke:
I, a work of God’s hand for that purpose, received in my brain
and pronounced on the rest of his hand-work – returned him again
his creation’s approval or censure: I spoke as I saw:
I report, as a man may of God’s work – all’s love, yet all’s law”.

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And there is a stone commemorating the opening of the building.

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I guess this is the same Charles Booth who created the maps showing the relative affluence or poverty in London.

This building was the home of the Robert Browning Settlement which was closely associated with a nearby Chapel and aimed to address poverty and alleviate distress in Walworth. The Browning Settlement was publicly inaugurated in November 1895, with an address given in the nearby Browning Hall by senior Liberal politician Herbert Asquith. It established itself, initially as the ‘Browning Club’, in the building on Walworth Road in 1902.

Originally Browning Street was called York Street and it was the location of a nonconformist chapel which opened in 1789. The Browning connection is that this was where the poet Robert Browning was baptised in 1812. The street was subsequently renamed after him

Sadly the Chapel is no more. The original Browning Hall and the chapel were demolished in 1978 following extensive damage from a serious fire. All that remains is part of the burial ground, which is our next stop..

But there is still a little reminder of the Robert Browning Settlement on the building now known as Herbert Morrison House.

Stop 6: site of Browning Hall and Chapel

If you go along Browning Street, you can see where Browning Hall and the York Street Chapel once stood. Part of the site, which was the burial ground has survived as a scrubby little open space.

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And there is just one tomb chest left sitting in splendid isolation in the middle.

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Now return to Walworth Road and turn left. Our next stop is the side street on your left.

Stop 7: East Street Market

Street trading has been a long tradition in Walworth but originally it was done along the main road.

The arrival of trams in the late 19th century brought an end to the market along Walworth Road and the market was split up and moved into the side streets of Westmoreland Road, East Lane (today’s East Street) and Draper Street. Draper Street was built over in the 1960s by the Elephant and Castle development. The market in Westmoreland Road is still just about there I believe. East Street has survived because like the local population it has diversified so it offers more than just the traditional fresh fruit and vegetables.

Fascinating fact: East Street is said to feature in the title sequence to the television programme Only Fools and Horses which was set in Peckham and filmed in Acton amongst other places.

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At the corner (actually numbers 277 / 279, Walworth Road) there is a blue plaque

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Up at the first floor level of this shop this Southwark Blue Plaque commemorates the iconic comic, Charlie Chaplin. He was born locally and as a child he moved frequently so there are many addresses with a Chaplin association. However I am not sure he actually had a connection with this exact location, although he is thought to have been born in East Street so it was somewhere near here.

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It was perhaps just a convenient and very visible place for Southwark to put their plaque – especially given the English Heritage one is at Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road, SW9, over the border in Lambeth, as is the one we saw in Kennington Road SE11.

Now return to Walworth Road and continue along until Liverpool Grove where you turn left. You will see our next stop ahead

Stop 8: St Peters Church

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This is a delightfully elegant church. It was built between 1823 and 1825 and was the first of three churches designed by Sir John Soane, in the wave of the church-building following the Napoleonic wars. Architectural commentator, Pevsner says it is “not as interesting as the Soane church at Bethnal Green.”.

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The church was hit by two bombs on 29 October 1940. Hundreds of people had taken shelter in the church’s crypt and over 70 lost their lives. The church was restored after the war and rededicated in 1953.

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Now go down the right hand side of the church through the gardens and exit the gate. Go down the side street called Lytham Street. Turn right into Merrow Street and then left into Queens Row. Then just before the end turn right into Westmoreland Road. I saw no sign of market here now but maybe I was here on the wrong day.

Stop 9: Arments, Numbers 7 – 9 Westmoreland Road

Our next stop is on the right as you go towards Walworth Road. It does not look much, but it is a long established pie, eel and mash purveyor – and it is not called Manze!

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The outside has lost any kind of old style shop front, but inside it is quite traditional. But they have entered the 21st century with their own website, patriotically resplendent in red, white and blue..

http://www.armentspieandmash.com/

Now continue along Westmoreland Road and turn left into Walworth Road, Cross over and go down John Ruskin Street. You will see a railway bridge ahead and that is our next stop.

Stop 10: Site of Walworth Road station

The railway line which parallels Walworth Road was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover railway in October 1862. Today there is no station here but there was once.

It was initially called Camberwell Gate and did not open until May 1863. It was renamed Walworth Road in January 1865. The station was built on a viaduct over three roads with an entrance in a street called Beresford Street (now John Ruskin Street) from where stairs led up to the platforms at the south end of the station.

The station was initially well used but the arrival of electric trams along Walworth Road in 1905 dramatically affected traffic. The station was one of a number of inner London stations closed in early 1916 as an economy measure during the First World War.  Although it was billed as a temporary measure, the station was never to reopen.

Below is where I believe the station entrance was.

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And if you go under the bridge to and turn right into Peller Street  you can see there is no wall alongside the tracks here, so I guess this is where the platforms once were.

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More about this station and the line it is on at:

http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/w/walworth_road/

Now retrace your steps to Walworth Road and turn left. Then turn left into Macleod Street ( by Iceland). You will soon get back to the railway and this is our next stop.

Stop 11: Sutherland Square

Sutherland Square is unusual in that it has a railway viaduct running right through it.

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As we have just heard, this line dates from 1862. In building it, the railway company just ploughed through this square rather than go round it or indeed buy it all up and knock more of it down. It does suggest that the railway was somewhat more influential than the people who owned the land.

Some years ago, when house hunting I actually looked at a house on the east side of Sutherland Square. It had no original features as the house had been severely damaged in the war and the bottom part of the four storey building had been converted into a separate “granny” flat. But the thing that put me off was the fact it looked right on to the railway viaduct and the trains went past at second floor level – frequently. Needless to say I did not buy.

Now walk though the square and you find it actually opens out and begins to look more like a square.

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Shame about all those bins but I guess they have to go somewhere.

Exit the square ahead and you reach a cross street. go over that and down a path under a building which spans the path. then take a right into Chapter Road and our next stop is just ahead.

Stop 12: Lorrimer Square and St Paul’s church

The first part of Lorrimer Square you get to has a row of original houses on the left. These date from mid 19th century according to Pevsner.

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And sitting ahead like an alien spaceship is St Paul’s Church.

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Much of this area was devastated by bombing in 1941 and the original Victorian church of 1856 was destroyed apart from the steeple. A dramatic new church was built on the site – opening in 1960.

There is a piece about this church on the 20th Century Society site:

https://c20society.org.uk/botm/st-pauls-lorrimore-square/

If you keep walk past the church you can see that there is little left of the original square apart from that first stretch we saw just before the church.

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We are now at the end of our SE17 walk. This I now realise is the first postcode I have been to that does not have a working railway station, which given its inner city location is quite a surprise.

There were a few connections with well known names: Robert Browning, Charles Babbage, Michael Faraday and Charlie Chaplin, but oddly the SE17 locations actually connected with the last three of these seems less than clear. The other thing I did not find is any big cinema or theatre located along the Walworth Road, though there were a couple of independent cinemas, all traces of which have vanished.

For onward travel, keep going along Chapter Road and then turn left into Braganza Street. You will find Kennington station at the end of Braganza Street. Alternatively return to Walworth Road for numerous buses.

Postscript

By way of a postscript I thought I should just mention there is a memorial to Michael Faraday locally just at Elephant and Castle (but over the border in SE1)

Until recently it stood in the middle of the roundabout at the northern end of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre between the ticket halls for the Northern Line and the Bakerloo Line stations. Now with the reordering of the roads it stand on a kind of peninsula and is easier to reach.

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The Michael Faraday Memorial was designed by brutalist architect Rodney Gordon and dates from 1961. Like me you probably thought this was just a ventilation shaft that had been rather expensively clad.

SE16: Tunnel Vision

SE16 is Rotherhithe – of Tunnel fame but also much else as we shall see.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 142 Lower Road. Turn left out of the Post Office and continue along Lower Road past Surrey Quays station.

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Our first stop is just on the left

Stop 1: Southwark Park

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But as you go into the park, notice the pub just along Lower Road.

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This pub was the site of an 18th century theatre and a 19th century tea garden.

Here is a link to a blog post with a bit of the history:

http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-china-hall-rotherhithe.html

Unfortunately, it is a pub which may not have much future as the freehold has been sold to developers.

Now go into the Park. This park was opened in 1869 by the Metropolitan Board of Works and was one of the Board’s first parks.

Follow the path as it curves ahead to the left. Just where the path begins to curve the other way have a look to your left and you will see a low white building.

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This proclaims it is a Gallery, although it is quite small and seems to be used for special exhibitions rather than being open all the time.

Continue along the path and soon on the left you will see a path to a lake. Go down here and follow the path round to the right. This will take you to the Ada Salter Rose Garden

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This lovely garden was created in 1936 as evidenced by this sundial.

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Ada Salter (1866 -1942) and her husband Alfred devoted their lives to improving the lot of local people in the first part of the 20th century, and at some personal cost. They lost their only child, Joyce, at age 8 to Scarlet Fever, a disease rife in poor areas, and they were bombed out of their house in 1941.

Sadly neither lived to see the end of the Second World War and the substantial rebuilding of the area after the war. I wonder what they would have made of the area now that the docks have closed and been redeveloped.

Ada was one of the first women councillors in London, the first woman mayor in London and the first Labour woman mayor in the British Isles.

She campaigned to address the slum housing in Bermondsey and she also led a campaign to beautify Bermondsey. She lobbied the London County Council to improve Southwark Park amongst other things and this rose garden was one of the results.

After it opened in 1936, it became known as Ada Salter’s Garden, although the London County Council only formally gave it this name in 1943 after her death.

More about Ada and her husband can be found in this blog post:

http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/adas-garden-recognition-for-pioneering.html

Now head out of the gate you came in and look at the green on your left. You will see a small stone going green.

 

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This stone is really hard to read but it is a commemoration to Ada Salter.

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Now head back. Ahead, you will see some park gates.

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(This by the way is unhelpfully the view you get from outside the park!)

Go out these gates which lead into Gomm Road. Our next stop is in the terrace of houses on the left hand side.

Stop 2: Number 36, Gomm Road

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Number 36 has a Southwark blue plaque to another person who was dedicated to improving the lot of others.

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Richard Carr-Gomm (1922 – 2008) was the founder of the Abbeyfield Society and the Carr-Gomm Society, which are British charities providing care and housing for disadvantaged and lonely people.

According to the Abbeyfield website:

“The first Abbeyfield house was established in 1956 by Richard Carr-Gomm. He recognised that a lot of older people were living alone and feeling isolated in their own communities and wanted to provide them with a safe and secure home where they could find friendship and support.

Soon after purchasing a house in Bermondsey and inviting two local residents to move in, he had purchased five more properties and formally set up The Abbeyfield Society. Before long, volunteers around the county had formed their own societies and the dream of a nationwide charity providing high quality housing, support and companionship in later life had become a reality.”

Now go to the end of the street and turn left into Lower Road. The building at this corner by the way is the delightfully named Seven Islands Leisure Centre.

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This is on the site of Rotherhithe Town Hall which was destroyed by German rockets in 1944.

The attached link has a log of the V1 and V2 rockets which hit this area.

http://www.flyingbombsandrockets.com/V1_summary_se16.html

This notes that no less than 3 V1 and 2  V2 rockets landed in the vicinity of the Town Hall, and the nearby St Olave’s Hospital, with devastating effect.

Now cross over and just opposite the Leisure Centre is a building called Orchard House.

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Not very inspiring but this was the last London home of an African king – popularly known by the press as King Freddie.

He was actually named Major General Sir Edward Frederick William David Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Muteesa II (1924 – 1969). He became Kabaka (king) of the Kingdom of Buganda in November 1939. He was the thirty-fifth Kabaka of Buganda and the first President of Uganda. But he was deposed in 1966 and spent his last years here. He died of alcohol poisoning in November 1969 and there was some speculation that he was assassinated by being force-fed vodka.

Now cross over the side street (Surrey Quays Road) and go into the little park on your right. This is called King George’s Field

Stop 3: King George’s Field/Dock Office

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This open space is named after King George V who died in 1936. After his death, there were lots of playing fields and open spaces created and named after him. The playing field here was laid out on the site of All Saints Church which was destroyed in one of those German rocket attacks in World War II. This little park opened in 1957.

If you go in the gate and along the path you will see an old building ahead on the right outside the park.

This is one of the few buildings left from the old Surrey Commercial Docks.

The docks here started to be developed in the 18th century and gradually the majority of the land within the sweep of the Thames around Rotherhithe was taken into the dock area. In fact there were nine separate docks; some with names connected with to places being traded with: Canada Dock, Quebec Dock, Greenland Dock, Norway Dock and Russia Dock.

The docks closed in 1969 as they were too small to handle container ships. Most of the docks have been filled in except for Greenland Dock and a bit of Canada Dock. The area has now been redeveloped mainly with housing, but also with the Surrey Quays shopping centre.

The old building was the Dock Superintendent’s office built 1887.

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There is also a Southwark borough blue plaque on the building.

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This commemorates the fact that on 7 September 1940 the docks were set on fire in the first air raid of the Blitz. Obviously being a dock area this was a prime target throughout the War.

Now retrace your steps back to Lower Road, cross over the road and turn right along Lower Road. Our next stop is just on the left past some almhouses (which are worth a peek)

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This terrace of 7 cottages was built in 1902 under the terms of the will of Charles John Peele, a director at a local factory Brandram Brothers, to the memory of his mother who had died in 1890. Brandrams ran a chemical works dealing with many rather nasty substances such as white lead, saltpetre and sulphuric acid. Their factory was nearby, just behind All Saints churchyard. It closed in 1958 and demolished for the construction of a housing development called the Canada Estate in 1962.

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These cottages are now managed by Hanover Housing Association.

Go a short way along Lower Road. Our next stop is at the corner of Ann Moss Way, which is on your left.

Stop 4: Site of St Olave’s Hospital, Lower Road

The land here was once the location of St Olave’s Hospital. Almost the whole site has been redeveloped for housing but at the corner of Ann Moss Way is an old house and on that house is another Southwark blue plaque.

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This commemorates the fact that St Olave’s Hospital was in 1933 the birthplace of actor Sir Michael Caine. Of course the name he was given by his parents was not Michael Caine – it was Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr. And there is an often told story of how he came to be known as Michael Caine.

When he started acting (in 1953 in Horsham, West Sussex!), he took the stage name of Michael Scott. But the next year, he got work in London and there was already a Michael Scott performing as an actor in London. Caine learnt this when speaking to his agent from a phone box in Leicester Square. His agent told him to come up with a new name immediately. The young actor looked around for inspiration and seeing that The Caine Mutiny was being shown at the Odeon Cinema, he decided to change his name to “Michael Caine”. The rest as they say is history.

Now keep going along Lower Road and you will see a roundabout and off this is the approach road to the Rotherhithe tunnel, our next stop.

Stop 5: Rotherhithe Tunnel

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The Rotherhithe Tunnel is one of three road crossings which go under the Thames. It was opened in June 1908 and unlike the other tunnels (Blackwall and Dartford) it was not later duplicated, so uniquely the Rotherhithe Tunnel has two way traffic.

It also has a footpath along each side, if you are brave (or foolhardy) enough to walk through. It is not unknown for cyclists to use the footpaths, which is hardly surprising given the heavy traffic on the actual road and the road’s limited width.

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Now if you look to the right of the Tunnel approach road you will see an elegant church building, which is at the start of Albion Street, our next stop.

Stop 6: Albion Street

Albion Street is rather sad today with its shabby shops bookended by two closed pubs. The Albion and the Little Crown.

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But it does have two unusual churches, which are legacies of this area’s seafaring connections. First at the start of the street, on the left, is the Norwegian Church

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This dates from 1927 and is dedicated to St Olave.

Olave was King of Norway, who attempted to convert his people to Christianity and was martyred in 1030. He was an ally of the English King, Ethelred the Unready, and is said to have helped defend London against Danish invaders. As a result, he was quite popular in London. There were at one time 5 churches dedicated to St Olave in the City plus one in Southwark, near London Bridge.

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And a little further along the street is the Finnish Church, which dates from 1958, and does not look at all like a church. In fact the tower is rather reminiscent of a post-war fire station.

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By the way just before the church, opposite the shops, there is an empty site. This I think was the location of Rotherhithe Civic Centre and Library. And between that and the Finnish Church, there was once a small piazza.

This was the location of a statue called “Bermondsey Boy” by Tommy Steele – yes that Tommy Steele the 1950s rocker, later star of stage and screen. He was born in Bermondsey.

Sadly we cannot see that statue today because it was stolen (presumably for its scrap value) in 1998. Architectural guru Pevsner notes that the statue is “of curiosity value only”.

There is a picture on Twitter of Tommy Steele unveiling the statue in 1975: https://twitter.com/bermondseybeat/status/747853313551523840?lang=en

A little way past the Finnish Church you will see a passageway with an old lamp above it.

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Go down here and you get to the Rotherhithe Tunnel approach road. Here you can get a much better view of the tunnel portal and the inscription above.

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Go back up to Albion Street and turn left then turn along Old Railway Walk.

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Ahead you will see Rotherhithe station.

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This station, like Surrey Quays station, was on the old East London railway line which opened in December 1869. This utilised the tunnel under the Thames designed by Marc Isambard Brunel and built by him and his rather more famous son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This line has been part of the London Overground since 2010.

The Tunnel was the first under a navigable river and had been built between 1825 and 1843 for horse-drawn carriages. The tunnel had generous headroom and two carriageways separated by arches. Whilst it was a triumph of civil engineering, there was not enough money to complete it properly with ramps for the carriages, so it was a commercial failure because it could only be used a foot tunnel. By the 1860s it had become an unpleasant and disreputable place but its scale meant it was big enough to be converted to rail use.

Back in May 2014 I was fortunate in being able to walk along the Brunel Thames tunnel. Here is link to my blog about that day:

https://stephensldn.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/walking-under-water-a-stroll-through-brunels-tunnel/

Go down the side street by the station, following the sign for the Brunel Museum, which is our next stop.

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Stop 7: Brunel Museum

The museum in housed in the Brunel Engine House, which was designed by Marc Isambard Brunel to be part of the infrastructure of the Thames Tunnel. Although the blue plaque outside is dedicated to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the museum is as much about the father as the son.

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Now you will see a sign pointing to Sands Films. Follow that round, which takes you into St Marychurch Street.

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Stop 8: Sands Film Studio

Sands Films is a small British film production company, founded in the mid 1970s. The business is housed in a former granary and includes a small film stage, film theatre, picture library, workshops and costume stores.

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I was hovering by the door when a man called Neil came up to me and asked if I would like to go in. I took him up on his invitation.

He told me about the film they are currently working on (The Good Soldier Schwejk, based on an unfinished satirical dark comedy novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek.).

And he explained about The Rotherhithe Picture Research Library. Established here in 1975, it is a reference collection, freely available to anyone wishing to do picture research. But unlike most other picture libraries which are commercial, this one is a non-profit-making charity.

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And he took me further into the building past miscellaneous costumes and props to show me a cinema like no other.

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They have regular screenings of films here. It is free but they ask for a donation.

Here is a link to the booking page:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/sands-films-cinema-and-events-3135066918

Thank you Neil for your time.

Now continue down St Marychurch Street and our next stop is ahead at the end.

Stop 9: The Mayflower pub

Here is a nice old pub and it is called the Mayflower after the ship that sailed from here in 1620 taking religious puritans to settle in the New World.

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This is one of the most atmospheric parts of Rotherhithe, and a nice pub to pop in.

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Now you will be able to see the church from here. Head to the right side and go into the churchyard.

Stop 10: St. Mary’s Church, St. Marychurch Street

There has been a church here since medieval times but the church we see today was built in the 18th century.

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Pevsner says “The rebuilding started in 1714 but was still incomplete in 1737. The west tower has an inscription of 1747 and the chancel is possibly as late as that.” The spire though is even later having been rebuilt in 1861

Go round the church past the spire and find the door on the south side. Note the Southwark blue plaque about the sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower.

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The church is lovely inside

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Now return to Rotherhithe Street and turn left and go straight ahead through this alleyway..

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When you reach Kings Stairs Close, you will see a terrace opening up to the river and the way ahead is called Kings Stairs Close.

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There is no way through straight ahead and you need to go along the riverside terrace. But you would anyway be drawn to this as it has great views of the City.

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Walk under the brick structure and along the river terrace. The view gets changes, with St Paul’s now visible. But the Walkie Talkie dominates, standing as it does away from the cluster of other tall buildings in the City.

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Then you will see this Silver Jubilee stone. Keep going

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Head past the Angel pub which will be on your right..

Stop 11: site of King Edward III’s Manor House

Then just here on the left is a bit of a surprise – some stones which turn out to be all that is left of a house dating from the mid 14th century.

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King Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377 and built a house here in 1353. The buildings were surrounded by a moat on three sides and with the fourth side originally open to the River Thames. This allowed the king to arrive by boat.

By the end of the 16th century the Thames waterfront had been pushed northwards by land reclamation, so the old King’s residence was now completely enclosed by a moat. The Crown eventually sold the residence and it passed into private hands and was known as the “moted place”.

In the 17th century the site became used as a pottery and in the 18th and 19th centuries warehouses were built across the site. In the 1970s the warehouses were demolished and in the 1980s the London Docklands Development Corporation redeveloped the area and in doing so allowed archaeological investigations by the Museum of London which established here were the remains of Edward III’s residence.

There is some more detail on the following link: https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/king-edward-iii-manor-house

Now look back towards the river and you will see our final stop.

Stop 12: The Salter family sculptures

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Sitting facing the river is Dr Salter. To the left is his wife, Ada. Then on the riverbank wall is their daughter and her cat.

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And here is a view looking back to the Angel pub.

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In 1991, sculptor Diane Gorvin created ‘Dr Salter’s Daydream’ which had the Doctor watching his daughter play and her pet cat. However in November 2011 the statue of Dr Salter was stolen, presumably by metal thieves. Southwark Council put the remaining statues of Joyce and her cat into storage. Money was raised to make a replacement of Dr Salter plus a new one of his wife. All four pieces were installed in November 2014, guarded over by CCTV.

We are now at the end of our SE16 walk. Rotherhithe is a fascinating place once you start looking. I was surprised to find the remains of a 14th century manor house and to learn of the connection with the Mayflower and the puritan emigrants. Then we have two tunnels under the river, the Brunel Museum and the Sands Film Studio and associated picture library.

It is probably easiest to go back to Rotherhithe station for onward travel. But if you are feeling energetic (and the weather is nice) you can keep walking along the Thames Path and drop off at Bermondsey or even go all the way to Tower Bridge or London Bridge.

 

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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This building was Holdrons department store.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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The plaque erected in 1978 by Greater London Council ,

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.