SE13: A river runs through it

SE13 is Lewisham. The town centre is an important transport hub as well as a big shopping centre. Though we will major on that we will also go along the road to the historic part of Lee as we heard is in SE13 rather than SE12

We start our walk at Lewisham Post Office which is in W H Smith in the North Mall of Lewisham Shopping Centre. Turn right out of the shop and exit the mall heading towards the station (this is the corridor that heads off to the left)

The “Legible London” maps on the streets have not quite caught up with the reconfiguring of the roads, so they still show a roundabout outside the northern end of the shopping centre.

IMG_2836

Now Molesworth Street goes straight into Loampit Vale with a side turning off to link to the High Street which has been restraightened. What has been lost though is any sense that once there was a bridge over a river here – and it was called Lewisham Bridge. Now the river just pops our from under the railway arch and disappears under the road.

IMG_2585

This is the River Ravensbourne which has come up from Catford and beyond and near here another river joins in from the east and that is the River Quaggy, which we shall get a glimpse of shortly.

But just about where the road is now was once a parade of shops with a large cinema.

Stop 1: site of Odeon cinema

IMG_2661

IMG_2663

The cinema here was opened as the Gaumont Palace in December 1932. It has just over 3,000 seats and as so often happened with these large cinemas it also had full stage facilities and regularly hosted live performances.

In 1962 after restoration following a fire, it was renamed the Odeon. Through the 1960s and into the 1970s, many famous acts appeared here: Nat ‘King’ Cole, Johnny Cash, Sarah Vaughan & Count Basie and His Orchestra, Ted Heath and His Orchestra, Ray Charles, The Supremes, Chuck Berry, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, The Rolling Stones, Manfred Mann, The Beatles, The Who, Rod Stewart, David Essex and The Bay City Rollers.

More info about this cinema is on the wonderful Cinema Treasures site: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/30710

Attempts to convert it to Bingo were refused and it closed as a cinema in 1981. It was left empty for 10 years, and then the entire building was demolished in June 1991, to allow for a road widening scheme (which has since been changed again). A fragment was said to have remained but even that has now gone along with any indication as to where this huge cinema once stood.

Who knows if this building had been better located (eg near a tube station and not next to one of the main roads to Kent and the channel ports) it might have survived as a live venue in the same way its sister at Hammersmith has.

Now head over to the station which you will be able to see.

Stop 2: Lewisham Station

Lewisham is a rather unsatisfactory station. Here is a plan which shows why.

IMG_2850

The National Rail station is on a viaduct in the form of a Y shape with two platforms on each arm of the Y. And up a slope is a roadway which ends up at the ticket office in the middle of the two arms.

IMG_2823

Below and sort of at ground level, there is a DLR station.

IMG_2583

It’s all bit of a cobbled together. It just is not how just would design a station if you were starting from scratch.

IMG_2565

IMG_2569

Upstairs the platforms are on curves, so there is quite a gap between the train and the platform in some places.

IMG_2558

IMG_2560

Standing on the platforms and looking towards central London there is a complex junction with a flat crossover between the two sets of lines. Typically at present there are 14 trains an hour to central London, but they go to three different stations from two different platforms – 8 an hour to Cannon Street, 4 an hour to Charing Cross and 2 an hour to Victoria.

IMG_2556

And over to the left out of view is a line which bypasses Lewisham station completely, so some suburban trains which might have served Lewisham go whizzing by, meaning the service from here could have been even more frequent. If the station had been better located it would have been the Clapham Junction of south east London.

There is a nice view of the Shard from the platforms.

IMG_2656

So how did this happen. The first station in Lewisham was opened as part of the North Kent line in 1849. The station was moved in 1857 to its present location which was slightly to the west of the original. The junction to the north of the station was remodelled in the 1920s and a link was put in to the Greenwich Park branch.

The Jubilee line was once planned to come here but that got cancelled in the late 1970s. But the DLR was squeezed in here in 1999 and now there is talk of the Bakerloo line being extended here, but not until the 2030s.

The full complicated story can be followed here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewisham_station

Now go out of the station forecourt. If you go left you can spot another bit of the largely hidden river Ravensbourne. This is looking away from Lewisham centre towards Greenwich

IMG_2826

And this is looking back towards the centre of Lewisham

IMG_2828

Go to the end. Cross over the main road  and turn right. Head towards the shopping centre. On your way look left and you will see another stream which disappears under the road.

IMG_2831

IMG_2832

This is the River Quaggy which comes in from the direction of Lee. Ahead is our next stop, the Police Station

Stop 3: site of Chiesman’s Department store

Today this is Lewisham Police station – an uninspiring work-a-day building.

IMG_2667

IMG_2669

But once this was the site of a major department store called Chiesmans. The following information is mostly from the House of Fraser archives:

Chiesmans Ltd, drapers, Lewisham, was incorporated as a private limited company in 1921. The business was founded in 1884 as a partnership between two brothers Frank and Harry Chiesman who opened a drapery shop on the High Street, Lewisham.

In 1921 the rebuilding of a more modern store, on the same site, was begun, and extensions and alterations continued in the 1930s. Chiesmans Ltd had acquired premises on both sides of the High Street and in 1939 work was completed on a bridge across the High Street which connected both stores at first floor level.

The business was expanded in 1933 when Chiesmans Ltd bought a second store in Maidstone, and again in 1947 a store in Canterbury was added, but had to be resold when it proved unprofitable. In 1957 a fourth store in Gravesend was purchased. In 1957 Chiesmans Ltd became a Public Limited Company, although most of the shares were kept within the Chiesman family. In the following two years the company acquired stores in Tunbridge Wells, the Isle of Wight, Ilford, Upton Park and Rochester. The Lewisham store was extended again in 1960.

The company was bought by House of Fraser in 1972. It got renamed Army and Navy and was downsized in 1993, eventually closing completely in 1997. (Curiously the House of Fraser Archive page suggests that the shop was still trading in 2009 which it was not)

Now our next stop is just next door

Stop 4: former Co-op store

Here on the left is a rather grand building which was built as a department store in 1933 for the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society.

IMG_2591

It is a four storey Art Deco style building with central tower and relief plaques depicting a steam train, lorry and ships The dates of 1868 and 1933 are incorporated in the tower.

IMG_2592

1868 is the date when the Royal Arsenal Supply Association was founded by 20 workers from the Royal Arsenal. It became the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society in 1872. 1933 is the date of construction of this building.

There is a lorry with RACS spelled out on its trailer.

IMG_2594

There are a couple of ships and in the middle a vent like thing with what looks like the entwined letters of RACS.

IMG_2593

Now cross the road and you will see our next stop, the Clock Tower.

Stop 5: Clock Tower

IMG_2599

This was built for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It survived the bombardments of the Second World war but was moved slightly in the 1950s.

There is a rather nice crown atop this clock tower.

IMG_2672

Here is a link with more info on the clock tower: http://www.lewishamcard.co.uk/latest/2016/5/16/the-history-behind-the-lewisham-clocktower

Just beyond the Clock Tower on the side of the High Street is a market area. Interesting that today almost all the market now operate on the £1 a bowl model of pricing. I guess it saves fiddling about with weighing stuff.

IMG_2602

Now a little way along the market to you right you will see Marks and Spencer’s store.

Stop 6: Marks & Spencer store (and plaque)

And to the left of the entrance is a plaque.

IMG_2605

This commemorates the casualties from a V1 rocket attack in July 1944.

IMG_2604

When one thinks of war time bombing one tends to focus on the so-called Blitz – that was a period of sustained bombing from planes between September 1940 and May 1941. That was bad enough but from the summer of 1944, Germany started to use missiles – the V1s and V2s. They could be fired from continental Europe and did not need a plane to deliver them.

According to Wikipedia, a total of 9,251 V1s were fired at targets in Britain, with the vast majority aimed at London; 2,515 reached the city, killing 6,184 civilians and injuring 17,981. 1,115 V2s were fired at the United Kingdom. The vast majority of them were aimed at London where they killed an estimated 2,754 people with another 6,523 injured.

The V1 had a distinctive engine sound which cut out as it was about to drop on its target, which gave some warning. The V2 was supersonic and just arrived. It must have been quite terrifying as there was little warning of a raid, as a missile would only take 5 minutes to get here from Belgium. No longer were the bombing raids confined to times when the bombers could fly. One wonders what might have happened if these weapons had been around earlier in the war.

Keep going along the High Street and at the end of the bus only section you will see our next stop on the left.

Stop 7: Lewisham Library

This rather nondescript looking 1960s building houses Lewisham Library.

IMG_2613

Go inside and there a little surprise on the ground floor above a doorway near the bottom of the escalator.

IMG_2615

This is a plaque commemorating King Alfred, he of burnt cakes fame. He was Lord of the Manor of Lewisham and this plaque dates from 1901 so was presumably moved here from a previous Library building.

Now retrace your steps along the High Street and at the very end turn right into Lee High Road.

Note here according to the street maps is the location of Lee Bridge, although you cannot actually see a bridge.

IMG_2838

Go along Lee High Road for a while until you reach Clarendon Road. Turn right here.

Almost immediately you will go over another river. This is the River Quaggy again and presumably what Lee Bridge went over.

IMG_2673

Now continue and at the junction bear left into Gilmore Road. Stop at Number 9 which is on the left.

Stop 8: Number 9 Gilmore Road

IMG_2679

As you can see, there is a blue plaque. This commemorates the birthplace of the poet and writer James Elroy Flecker (1884 – 1915).

IMG_2677

The plaque erected in 1986 by Greater London Council. Not sure he would qualify for a plaque now as he is not exactly well known today. If he is remembered at all, it is for his 1913 poem, “The Golden Journey to Samarkand”.

Follow Gilmore Road round and turn left at Eastdown Park. Then turn right at the main road and cross over

You will see a gated estate, called Halley Gardens and just after that entrance you should see this,

Stop 9: Meridian marker

We saw a few Meridian Markers in east London but they are not so common south of the river. And this one is much older than the ones we saw previously.

IMG_2633

It was laid on 16 May 1984 in Lewisham Anti Racist Week “to commemorate the centenary of the Greenwich Meridian and promote racial harmony throughout the world”.

Although Britain has established the meridian through Greenwich in 1721, it was only adopted internationally as a result of a conference in Washington DC in the United States in October 1884. of course the French were not happy as they had a rival meridian going though Paris and so they abstained and did not in fact adopt the international meridian until 1911.

This agreement was needed not just for navigation but also to help standardise time, an issue which had emerged with the railways, notably in North America where there was a multiplicity of local times. We kind of take this for granted but it all had to worked out.

Interesting the local council decided to install this in May, a few months ahead of the actual centenary.

Now keep going along Lee High Road, cross over Brandram Road. At the corner are some almshouses which we shall come back. you need to turn right into Old Road. Follow Old Road round to the left and ahead you will see our next stop set back in its own grounds.

Stop 10: Manor House library

IMG_2684

Today this is a library, but once it was the home of the Baring family.

IMG_2685

As evidenced by the Lewisham Borough council plaque

IMG_2686

As we heard in SE12, much of the development here was the land hereabouts was part of the Baring estate. The building dates from 1771/72 according to architectural guru Pevsner.

Next door to the Library is Manor House Gardens, a lovely little green space.

IMG_2690

Have a look at the information sign at the entrance.

IMG_2688

Have a look at this sign and you will see at the other end of the garden, the River Quaggy runs through it.

IMG_2689

Now follow Old Road round and to the left and you get back to the main road. Ahead you will see our next stop.

Stop 11: Boone Chapel and Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses

Firstly there is the Boone Chapel. This is the only remaining part of some almshouses dating from 1683.

IMG_2649

According to the Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust http://www.blackheath.org/bhbt.htm

“The original almshouses and chapel were commissioned by Christopher Boone, a London merchant and, like Sir Christopher Wren, a member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, and built in 1683. Income from the Boone family estate in Herefordshire helped provide relief for the elderly poor of Lee and for the education of 12 poor children. The original row of almshouses stood next to the Chapel facing directly on to Lee High Road. These almshouses were demolished in 1875 but a U-shaped block, dating from 1825 and listed Grade II, remains further up the hill. After demolition of the original almshouses, the Chapel continued to function as a reading room, but fell into disuse after 1945.

It is likely that Wren was commissioned to build the Chapel and almshouses but the work was probably carried out by Robert Hooke, a close friend and colleague and another member of the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Hooke is best known for advising Wren in the re-building of the City of London after the Great Fire and in the designing of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.”

By the late 1990s, the Grade I listed chapel was suffering from decades of neglect and was placed on English Heritage’s London Buildings at Risk register. The Blackheath Historic Buildings Trust was set up in 1999 and following the raising of over £500,000, Boone’s Chapel was renovated in 2008. The chapel is now used by a firm of architects but is open to the public 30 days a year, including for Open House weekend.

Now continue along Lee High Road and look though the fence and you will see the Merchant Taylors’ Almshouses.

IMG_2683

IMG_2642

IMG_2644

IMG_2638

IMG_2636

These almhouses date from 1826 and are separate from the Boone’s almshouses which were rebuilt just up the road. Since 2010 the Merchant Taylors’ and Boone’s almshouses have been run by a single charitable trust which is still connected to the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors.

Go along the main road and turn right into Brandram Road, where you will the entrance to the Almshouses.

IMG_2639

Keep going up this road to the end. Our final stop is to the right and ahead.

Stop 12: St Margaret’s church (and old churchyard)

IMG_2651

St Margaret’s Church, Lee was built between 1839 and 1841 in a simple early Victorian style, replacing the older medieval church nearby (which was 12th Century). Extensive and lavish interior decoration was carried out between 1875 and 1900. It is said that the church is one of the best preserved examples of a decorated gothic revivalist interior in London.

But perhaps of more interest is across the road. this is where the original St Margaret’s church was before it was rebuilt in the 19th century. And it is here where the old graveyard is.

IMG_2652

IMG_2654

It seems that they did try to rebuilt the church on this site between 1813 and 1830, but this failed as the foundations of the old church could not support a new building. But the churchyard was left and this is where Edmond Halley (1656–1742) is buried. He was England’s second Astronomer Royal from 1720 and the discoverer of Halley’s Comet. And there are two other Astronomers Royal buried here – Nathaniel Bliss and John Pond (no me neither!)

So that brings us to the end of our SE13 walk. Lewisham has been unlucky in its history and geography. It is not quite right with the main roads ploughing through and separating the station from the town centre. And the two rivers which flow through the centre are now rather sad concrete lined drainage channels. The grandness of some of the shop buildings is somewhat let down by the run of the mill retail offer here. But at least M & S is still here unlike in Wood Green and West Ealing. And we did get to go the historic part of Lee which for reasons lost in the mists of time was in a different postal area to the main part of Lee.

We are almost in Blackheath here. You can get buses 54, 89 and 108 either on to Blackheath or back to Lewisham.

SE6: It’s witchcraft

SE6 is Catford. Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase and Fable says of Catford: “Perhaps surprisingly, the name is not some arcane corruption , but probably does mean that wild cats did frequent the ford that is now the site of Catford bridge, although an alternative explanation is that “the cat” was a local landowner’s nickname.

Wikipedia has other suggestions including this is “the place where cattle crossed the River Ravensbourne in Saxon times” and goes on to say”. It is also said that the name originates from all-black cats, associated with witchcraft, being thrown into the ford to drown during the witch hunts.” Sadly neither of these assertions are backed up by citations.

We start our walk at Catford Post Office which in Numbers 187-189 Rushey Green. Turn right out of the Post Office and our first stop is a little way along the same pavement.

Stop 1: The Black Horse and Harrow pub

This is a grand Victorian pub called the Black Horse and Harrow.

IMG_1420

IMG_1422

It dates from 1897 and the sign says there has been a pub here since at least 1700.

IMG_1469

It would have been a coaching inn on the road to Tonbridge and Hastings, but clearly became a bit of a Victorian “gin palace”

Now retrace your steps and go down the alleyway which runs through Octavia house.

IMG_1467

On the other side you will be in the middle of Catford Island, our next stop..

Stop 2: Catford Island

Catford Island is possibly one of the most inappropriate bits of development to grace the streets of London.

IMG_1464

Who thought it would be a good idea to put an american style retail centre here where the inadequate A21 London – Hastings road crosses the even more inadequate South Circular Road. Needless to say this is what you get.

IMG_1463

Many years ago there were plans to sort out the roads here properly but there are no active plans for this.

The Lewisham website has something called “The Catford Plan”. Here is a link to the Frequently asked questions: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/planning/policy/LDF/catford/Pages/Catford-Plan-frequently-asked-questions.aspx

One of which is:

“Has the Council given up on the plans to re-route the South Circular behind the Laurence House?

Transport for London (TfL)’s long-standing proposal, which would potentially remove the Catford gyratory, still has no clear timetable or funding strategy. There are reasons why this project has not happened, primarily that it would be complex, expensive and difficult to implement.

The Catford plan therefore includes alternative proposals which would be more deliverable. These include simplifying pedestrian crossings, improving the Thomas Lane/Catford Road and Rushey Green/Catford Road junctions, and widening Sangley Road to create an eastbound bus lane to cut the number of northbound buses on Rushey Green.”

So this bottleneck is not going to be sorted out any time soon.

Now head to the opposite side of the retail park from the Bingo club and turn right along that road. Our next stop is at the corner.

Stop 3: former ABC cinema

This was the Central Hall Picture House when it opened in December 1913. It was renamed the Plaza in 1932 and was taken over the ABC chain in 1937. It was renamed ABC in 1962. It was split into two screens in 1981 and continued to operate as a cinema until 2001.

IMG_1428

According to the wonderful “Cinema Treasures” website “In 2002, it was purchased by the Brazilian based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, who also purchased the former Granada/EMD in Walthamstow, and who already operated the former Astoria Finsbury Park” (aka the Rainbow).

They were refused planning permission to convert the Catford cinema in 2003. The case at Catford went to a Public Enquiry in 2005, which allowed the church to use the former stalls area, on the proviso they let out the former circle as a 200 seat cinema. Not sure what happened this idea as the cinema treasures site does not have any up to date info. No sign of a cinema. However the church is certainly operating here.

Now cross over Sangley Road, go past the Post Office and you will see our next stop just over the road on the left.

Stop 4: Broadway Theatre

This is a little gem of a 1930s building adjoining the modern civic suite.

IMG_1429

The Theatre’s website says:

“A grade II* listed building, the theatre was built in 1932 and is an example of Art Deco design. The architects were Bradshaw Gass & Hope; the slightly Gothic features were intended to relate to the adjacent Gothic Revival Town Hall which has since been demolished.

It has two auditoriums, an 800-seat main theatre and a small 80-seat studio theatre. Its programme consists of a diverse mix of theatre and music, including a pantomime season featuring star names, stand up comedy, nostalgia shows, drama and children’s theatre.”

For many years it was called the Lewisham Theatre which was somewhat confusing as it was in Catford.

IMG_1423

Broadway is a better name although it has the disadvantage that it is so generic a name it could be anywhere.

IMG_1425

As you look at the theatre head to the left and our next stop is the building next door.

Stop 5: Civic Suite

The old Town Hall of 1875, was replaced by the current Civic Suite in 1968, soon after the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Lewisham and Deptford to form the London Borough of Lewisham.  On the other side of the road is Laurence House, where many of the Lewisham Council offices are housed. That is on the site of old St Laurence’s Church.

Go into the courtyard of the Civic Suite and you will see a couple of plaques on your right.

IMG_1440

IMG_1441

These relate to a fire in New Cross which killed 13 young black people in January 1981. This plaque has 14 names because one person (Anthony Berbeck) who was in the house at the time of the fire, committed suicide later.

The way the authorities investigated the fire provoked a huge uprising in the black community. There was a strong view that the fire was caused deliberately but this could not be proved. Forensic science has developed since then. So while some still believe the fire to have been a result of arson, it seems that such evidence as there is suggests it was a tragic accident.

Over the years a number of memorials have been created, including a stained glass window in St Andrew’s Church Brockley (2002), a blue plaque from Nubian Jak Community Trust (January 2011), a stone memorial and bench in Fordham Park, Deptford (2012). There is also a memorial to the victims consisting of a park bench plus 13 trees with a plaque at either end on Hackney Downs. And of course this one.

And just opposite is the statue of a sad looking girl.

IMG_1442

IMG_1443

This statue is bronze and was commissioned by Lewisham Borough Council in 1992 from the artist Gerda Rubinstein.

Now keep walking along the main road and you will get to our next stop – the two railway stations in Catford. You will see a little access road to the right which is a good way into the first station you get to (Catford Bridge)

IMG_1397

Stop 6: Catford’s stations

The two stations in Catford are almost side by side but on different lines, one line goes under the road whilst the other above the road. Interchange on one ticket is allowed between the two stations.

Catford Bridge station was built by the Mid-Kent and North Kent Junction Railway and opened in January 1857. But from the start the line was worked by the South Eastern Railway.

IMG_1399

IMG_1391

This still has original buildings although the main one does not seem to be used by the railway. This station is also unusual in having two exits from each platform – one on the level and one up steps to the road bridge.

The two stations are separated by the site of the former Catford Stadium. Although the stadium closed in 2003, and is currently being redeveloped, it is still mentioned on the direction signs here.

IMG_1401

The other station has lost all its old building and has this rather nasty modular building as a ticket office and little more than a bus shelter on the platform.

IMG_1408

IMG_1406

Catford station was opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway in July 1892. This is the next station after Crofton Park going out of town and has an equally poor service.

Now retrace your steps and as you approach the Civic Buildings you will see a pedestrianised street to your left.

Stop 7: Catford Broadway

This sad looking street is called Catford Broadway.

IMG_1418

IMG_1419

It has a few stalls and some dull looking shops – and when I was there, not many people. But at least it was not run down and abandoned, as it so easily could have been.

Our next stop is at the end of Catford Broadway on the left.

Stop 8: Catford Shopping centre

This was designed by the architect Owen Luder (Born 1928) in 1974. He was well known for Brutalist architecture, with its massive bare concrete sculptural forms with no cladding and little or no decoration. Unfortunately time has not been kind to these buildings. In the damp British climate unclad concrete buildings soon become dull and greyer and they get streaked where rainwater runs. Often poor maintenance makes things worse.

But at least Catford Shopping centre is still standing unlike a number of Luder’s other well known projects, such as the Tricorn Centre in Portsmouth, Trinity Square Gateshead and the Southgate shopping centre in Bath.

IMG_1449

The most prominent feature is the Catford Cat, a giant fibreglass sculpture of a black cat above the entrance.

IMG_1447

Lewisham Council website credits the Catford Cat to Owen Luder and Embassy Signs with the date 1974.

The Catford Centre was bought by Lewisham council in 2010 for “regeneration”. But this does not seem to have happened yet.

Now cross over the road and have a look at the concrete building on the other side.

Stop 9: Eros House

This is called Eros House and was also designed by Owen Luder. It dates from 1960 and so is somewhat older than the Catford Centre. I am not sure that the proportions quite work. It would probably look better if the tower were taller. And it does not have the elegance of the Goldfinger buildings we saw in Poplar and Westbourne Park.

IMG_1452

The site has an interesting history as it contained not one but two places of entertainment. As ever I am endebted to the “Cinema Treasures” site for much of the following information.

At the corner of Rushey Green and Brownhill Road was the Lewisham Hippodrome Theatre which opened as a variety theatre in February 1911. It was designed by renown theatre architect Frank Matcham. Again this must have been confusing given it was not in Lewisham, proper.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s it was sometimes used as a cinema and sometimes a theatre. In 1931 alterations were carried out by architect Cecil Masey, with interior decoration by designer Theodore Komisarjevsky. It reopened as a cinema in April 1931 but by 1933 was operating as a music hall, with films only shown on Sundays.

It was closed by bomb damage in 1940 and re-opened in 1943. It was closed as a live theatre in 1952 and re-opened as the Eros Cinema in May of that year. The Eros Cinema finally closed in November 1959

Adjacent to the Hippordome/Eros was a purpose built cinema. This opened in December 1913 as the Queen’s Hall Cinema. It was acquired by Gaumont in 1928 but continued operating as the Queen’s Hall Cinema until September 1954  when it was renamed Gaumont.

The Gaumont closed in November 1959. It was demolished in July 1960, together with the adjacent Eros/Hippodrome building. The office block named Eros House was built on the site.

IMG_1458

IMG_1460

On the green outside there is a sculpture.

IMG_1456

This is called Waterline. It is by Oliver Barratt and dates from 2006

IMG_1457

The sign says “This sculpture remembers the waters that once flowed though the green rushes where watercress was farmed and celebrates the dynamic rhythm of life and change” Here is a link to the artist’s website:

http://www.oliverbarratt.co.uk/water-line/

So it is also a little reminder of why the street here is called Rushey Green.

Stop 10: Rushey Green

And so just by Eros House is a green encased in railings with a water pump.

IMG_1454

Not sure how old this is.

Just further along on the other side of Brownhill Road is this sculpture

IMG_1475

It is called “Chariot / Blue on Green” and is by artist Oleg Prokofiev (1928 – 1998). It seems it was bequeathed by Prokofiev family.

Now walk along Rushey Green away from Catford centre. Take the second right which then splits into Farley Road and Honley Road. You want the former which is the left hand way.

Stop 11: Number 48 Farley Road

Our next stop is a fair way down Farley Road.

IMG_1488

Number 48 was the childhood home of film actress Elsa Lanchester (1902 – 1986), who although she spent most of her career in Hollywood was actually from here in South London.

According to Wikipedia: “[She] studied dance as a child and after the First World War began performing in theatre and cabaret, where she established her career over the following decade. She met the actor Charles Laughton in 1927, and they were married two years later. She began playing small roles in British films, including the role of Anne of Cleves with Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). His success in American films resulted in the couple moving to Hollywood, where Lanchester played small film roles.

Her role as the title character in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) brought her recognition. She played supporting roles through the 1940s and 1950s. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Come to the Stable (1949) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957), the last of twelve films in which she appeared with Laughton. Following Laughton’s death in 1962, Lanchester resumed her career with appearances in such Disney films as Mary Poppins (1964), That Darn Cat! (1965) and Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968).” She also played a witch in the 1958 film “Bell, Book and Candle”

Our final stop is just a little way along the road.

Stop 12: Woskerski mural, Farley Road.

Just before you get to Laleham Road, there is a striking mural on the right.

IMG_1497

This is by street artist Woskerski who describes himself as “A street artist based in London, painting since 1997.”

His website says that this particular mural is of Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong and it was a commission in 2016. It is a little surprising to see this looming up at you in a side street in Catford. I somehow doubt that either Ray Charles or Louis Armstrong had any connection with this part of London, so who knows why someone chose them as the subject of a mural here.

Now we are the end of our walk. But I thought I should just point out a couple of old street signs here. Just beyond the mural, Laleham Road crosses Farley Road and unusually for this part of town there are two signs which are what must be the original signs, as they say just SE without the number.

IMG_1493

IMG_1498

There are lots of these old street signs in the borough of Wandsworth but most other boroughs have systematically replaced them with their own branded street name plates.

So Catford proved to have some interest. Again it seems odd that this was once a significant entertainment centre. There were four theatre/cinema buildings in close proximity up until the late 1950s. But today it is a dull collection of shops with constantly congested gyratory system, and just one working theatre building.

You have a choice about onward travel from here. you can retrace your steps back to the stations or else go back to Rushey Green and jump on one of numerous buses that will take you to Lewisham.