Category Archives: London Streets

America Square

After finding the location of Holy Trinity for last week’s post, I walked to another location just off Minories which was my main reason for visiting the area. I wanted to find the location of the photo my father had taken of America Square in 1949.

America Square

The photo was taken at a bit of an angle and does not show the full view of America Square. The photo appears to be looking across to the far side of the square. There is an obelisk to the right, in front of a bridge, which carries the railway into Fenchurch Street Station which is to the right.

As could be expected, the area has changed significantly, and this is America Square in 2019:

America Square

The following photo shows where a street leading from America Square heads underneath the railway bridge. The obelisk would have been just in front of the bridge and to the right of the street.

America Square

America Square was built between 1768 and 1774 as part of a development which extended from America Square, south towards Tower Hill. The architect was George Dance the Younger who worked for the developer of the estate, Sir Benjamin Hammett.

The square consisted of 16 residential houses. The northern edge along what was John Street (now Cross Wall) was the only side of the square without any development.

The name America Square was a reference to American traders in the City of London, or possibly to attract these traders to purchase the houses.

The East London Observer on the 28th August 1915 provides some detail on the American association:

“America Square in John Street, Minories, in the middle of the last Century, wast the Rialto an open-air club of the officers of the beautiful sailing vessels from the States, which, for a time, outclassed the British commercial marine on the Atlantic, and filled the London and Liverpool Docks. The outbreak of the Secession Civil War brought many changes; the long blockade of the Southern Ports rid England for a full generation of a dangerous rival in international ocean trade. The ‘skimmers of the sea’ disappeared from the Atlantic or changed into armed blockade-runners and privateers; the dashing dandy Yankee and Charleston captains were improvised into Admirals of the improvised Navies of the North and the South, and found a seaman’s grave; the glory, bustle, gaiety and profusion of America Square departed.”

On an overcast Saturday morning in America Square, it was hard to imagine it as a place of ‘glory, bustle, gaiety and profusion’.

It is also hard to really appreciate how many people have walked the same streets over the centuries and the random events that connect London streets with the rest of the world. Newspapers from the last couple of centuries are full of the usual range of adverts, positions vacant, sales, passages on ships available, imported goods for sale, births, deaths and marriages etc. all with an address in America Square. On the basis that only bad news is salable news, there are also many stories of tragic and criminal events taking place.

The first reference to America Square in the newspapers is from the 16th February 1773 when John Stainbank, of America Square, Lead Merchant was included in the weekly list of bankrupts.

In the London Evening Standard of the 16th April 1863 there is a reference that a “Frederick Walker, a shrewd-looking young foreigner, was charged with robbing a hotel in America Square”.

One of the hotels in America Square was Kroll’s Hotel and an unfortunate resident was the main suspect in the Great Coram Street murder of Harriet Buswell at 12 Great Coram Street in December 1872.

Dr Henry James Bernard Gottfried Hessel was traveling from Germany to Brazil in the ship Wangerland when the vessel became stranded on the Goodwin Sands. The shipped was floated, but taken into Ramsgate for checks and repairs. Dr Hessel and his wife first stayed in a hotel in Ramsgate then traveled to Kroll’s Hotel in America Square.

In a case of mistaken identity, Dr Hessel was arrested and charged with the murder. The lack of any firm evidence, contradictory prosecution evidence and the support of those who knew Dr Hessel resulted in him being found not guilty, as the judge’s summing-up reported by the Morning Post on the 31st January 1873:

“This case has been most fully investigated here, and the witnesses on both sides have been subjected to a close and searching cross-examination, and I am satisfied that the witnesses who have spoken to the identity of Dr Hessel are entirely in error. But even supposing that their evidence had been stronger and free from discrepancies, i should have considered that the case on the part of the prosecution had been entirely destroyed by the evidence of the witnesses for the defence. It is therefore my duty, and a duty with which I discharge with great satisfaction to myself, to state that the prisoner is released, as far as I can see, and I can say that he leave this court without suspicion.”

Poor Dr Hessel – finding yourself stranded on a sandbank off the Kent cost resulting in an unexpected stay in a country which you did not expect to visit, then finding yourself on a charge of murder – a travelers nightmare.

The 1895 Ordnance Survey Map shows America Square, just above the railway shown running across the middle of the map.

America Square

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

America Square originally extended further south than its current boundary with the railway, however building of the railway in 1841 started the process of chopping bits of the square as the railway expanded.

The City Press on the 28th January 1860 reported that the London and Blackwall Railway Company had applied for an Act to enable them to provide additional station accommodation, along with other works on the northern side of the existing railway. The report stated that “The public ways proposed to the absorbed or partially interfered with by the scheme, are Gould-square, America-square, Hanover-court, the Minories. The railway is to be carried on arches through the City, and those arches which already span the public ways of Vine-street and the Minories will practically be widened by the addition of others at the side of them.”

The impact on America Square can be clearly seen in the 1895 Ordnance Survey map.

The London Metropolitan Archives, Collage collection has a number of drawings and photos that help tell the story of America Square.

The first is a drawing by Thomas Colman Dibden from around 1850, showing the square when it was still surrounded by the original 18th century houses. The obelisk features in the centre of the drawing, and supports a couple of lanterns hung on either side.America Square

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: v9010129

The following direction of view of the following photo is very similar to my father’s photo, however the scene is very different.

America Square

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: m0017453cl

The photo shows America Square in 1944, soon after being hit by a V1 flying bomb. The buildings on the eastern side of the square consisted of offices for the railway’s goods yards and a parcels office. Rubble was strewn across the square, but the obelisk has survived.

This explains the state of the buildings in my father’s photo, and possibly why he photographed the scene.

The following photo from 1957 shows the obelisk still in place, but looking in rather poor condition.

America Square

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: m0026573cl

I could not find exactly when the obelisk was removed, and I assume it was destroyed. I suspect it was during the 1980s when the buildings on either side of America Square were developed.

There were many pubs around America Square, but they have now all disappeared. The building of one remains, directly opposite America Square on the junction of Crosswall and Vine Street.

America Square

This was the Angel and is shown in the 1895 Ordnance Survey map. The pub closed in 2006 and it is now a bar / restaurant called the Missouri Angel – continuing the American links of the area.

After exploring America Square, I walked under the railway to explore another part of George Dance 18th century development.

I always find the tunnels under London’s railways oddly fascinating. Look to the upper right and at the top of the wall is a street lamp with the red cross from the coat of arms of the City of London.

America Square

The streets on either side of the railway are tarmac, however the part of the street under the railway is still cobbled.

America Square

There are some interesting alleys leading off from the streets south of America Square:

America Square

Looking back through the tunnel under the railway towards America Square:

America Square

A very short distance south of America Square is the next part of George Dance and Sir Benjamin Hammett’s development that I wanted to find. If you go back to the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, you will see just below the railway is a semi-circular development called The Crescent.

In an area that consists of steel and glass office buildings from the 1980s onward, The Crescent is a rather unique place, not on any direct walking route, reached through a small street that leads from the Minories and from America Square.

America Square

The original buildings were badly damaged by bombing during the last war. The damage started with total destruction on the right and progressively reducing along the buildings to the left.

Pevsner’s guide to the City of London explains that there were originally 11 houses, and only numbers 6 to 11 can be seen today. Numbers 6 and 7 (the two on the left of the terrace) retain their original doorcases. The facades were extensively restored in 1985-6 when replicas of numbers 8 to 11 (the houses to the right) were built.

Although only two originals survive (with much restoration), it is good to see that George Dance’s crescent design can still be seen, having avoided being replaced by yet another glass and steel block.

The London Metropolitan Archive, Collage site includes a photo of the Crescent in 1913:

America Square

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_008_79_4342

There is still more to explore here. There is a remarkable section of the Roman wall in the basement of One America Square. It was excavated in the late 1980s, but had been found much earlier. The reference to America Square in the 1927 edition of London by George H. Cunningham records that “In 1908 a large portion of Roman wall was discovered here”. A topic for a future post with a bit of Roman wall exploration.

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Warren Street and J.Evans, Dairy Farmer

Warren Street is probably better known by the underground station of the same name, at the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Euston Road.

Warren Street runs parallel to Euston Road between Tottenham Court Road and Cleveland Street and my reason for being in Warren Street was to track down the location of one of my father’s 1980s corner shop photographs.

This is the corner shop of J. Evans, Dairy Farmer on the corner of Warren Street and Conway Street, photographed in 1986.

Warren Street

The same location, 33 years later in 2019, now occupied by The Old Dairy coffee shop.

Warren Street

The shop front and the railings are Grade II listed. The listing states that the building was constructed around 1793 with the shop front dating from 1916. I suspect that J. Evans was one of the Welsh dairy farmers who set up shop in London. The inside of these corner shops are very similar, shelves packed high with tinned and packet goods.

An enlargement of the view through the door shows a wonderful tiled picture of a field and cows, part of a set of scales can be seen to the right and the shop assistant is behind the counter.

Warren Street

This was only 33 years ago, but this type of local shopping is now dominated by the big supermarket brands, and a small store like this could probably not afford the rent or business rates.

The tiled picture of fields and cows could have been the scene where Warren Street is located back in 1746. At the time when John Rocque complied his map of London, the city had not yet reached as far as Warren Street and the area was still mainly fields, with some limited building just north of the future junction of Tottenham Court Road and Euston Road. In the following extract from Rocque’s map, Tottenham Court Road is on the right. I have marked the approximate location of Warren Street with red lines, running across the full width of a field.

Warren Street

One hundred years later, and all the fields of Rocque’s map would be buried under a significant northward expansion of the city. The following map extract from Reynolds’s 1847 map (now I have the map out the shoe-box for last week’s post, I will use it more) shows Warren Street just above the centre of the map, with building covering the entire area (apart from the corner of Regent’s Park shown top left).

Warren Street

Warren Street was built between 1790 and 1791. The street is named after the daughter of Sir Peter Warren, Anne Warren the wife of Charles Fitzroy, the 1st Baron Southampton who was the owner and developer of the land on which Warren Street was built.

Warren Street is relatively quiet, a mix of architecture, but retaining many original buildings.

The street runs parallel and a short distance to the south of the busy Euston Road. Standing in Conway Street and looking across Warren Street, Euston Road can be seen, along with the new office buildings of the Regent’s Place development.

Warren Street

Looking south down Conway Street from Warren Street and a mainly original street plan and buildings survive.

Warren Street

In the above photo, the J. Evans corner shop can be seen on the right. Note the lighter bricks on the second and third floors.  The difference in bricks is due to a mid 20th century re-build of the top two floors.

The London Metropolitan Archive, Collage site has a couple of photos of J. Evans shop. The following photo dates from 1978.

Warren Street

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_337_78_689.

A couple of large adverts are on the Warren Street facing wall. Also note that just along Warren Street were some other shops. Difficult to see exactly what they are selling, but they look to be typical of the shops serving the day to day needs of local residents that were once found all across London. Today, these shops have been converted to a couple of private clinics.

The buildings in which these other shops were located have what appears to be a secret entrance to a different place – this is the entrance to Warren Mews.

Warren Street

Warren Mews is a short street, even quieter than Warren Street, although I dread to think how much the houses that line the mews cost.

Warren Street

After having found the old shop frount, I walked back down Warren Street towards Tottenham Court Road, viewing an interesting series of buildings as I walked.

The Smugglers Tavern:

Warren Street

I do get depressed when walking the streets of London looking at the loss of one off shops, specialist shops and businesses, however in Warren Street I found a survivor. This is the London premises of Tiranti – a UK manufacturer and supplier of Sculptors equipment.

Warren Street

The business was founded in High Holborn by Giovanni Tiranti in 1895.  The business relocated to a number of different locations over the years, and whilst the main business is now located in Thatcham, Berkshire, Tiranti still retain a London premises.

The shop window of Tiranti in Warren Street:

Warren Street

Tiranti has a fascinating history. Their web site can be found here, and contains an “About” page with a history of the business and their moves across London.

Although Tiranti has survived, another specialist business in Warren Street recently closed.

At the junction of Warren Street and Fitzroy Street is a large corner store, currently occupied by the Loft furniture business as their London showroom.

Warren Street

Until early 2017, this was the building occupied by French’s Theatre Bookshop:

Warren Street

The French’s business was established in London around 1830. The bookshop occupied several locations across London and moved to the Warren Street / Fitzroy Street location in 1983, so whilst not a long term occupier of the site, it was good to find a specialist business serving the acting community of London and further afield.

After closure, French’s went fully online, but has now reopened a bookshop at the Royal Court Theatre.

A few years ago I photographed the original entrance sign for Samuel French. It is remarkable how quickly places change.

Warren Street

The LMA Collage site identifies the same corner shop, now occupied by Loft, previously by French’s Theatre Bookshop, was in 1972 occupied by a second-hand car business.

Warren Street

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_340_72_1023.

Used car dealing was a specialty of Warren Street for much of the first half of the 20th century with car dealers occupying many of the buildings and also second-hand cars for sale lining the street. The business on the corner with Fitzroy Street must have been one of the last in operation on the street.

The car dealing business in Warren Street attracted a number of dubious characters, one of whom was Stanley Setty, a car dealer who operated outside a cafe on the corner of Warren Street and Fitzroy Street (on the opposite  side to the above photo) . Setty dealt in cash only and was always in possession of large amounts of cash.

He had an associate in Brian Donald Hume who dealt in black market goods. In 1949, after an argument and a fight, Setty was murdered by Hume, who disposed of his body parts over the Essex Coast from a hired plane.

The Daily Herald on the 24th October 1949 included a graphical report of the murder (©British Newspaper Archive)

Warren Street

Hume was found not guilty of the murder, only the lesser offence of being an accessory to the murder by disposing of the body. After his release from prison he was happy to report to the press that he had carried out the murder – the defence of double-jeopardy protecting him from a new trial.

Warren Street is a very different street today.

On the Fitzroy Street side of the Loft / French’s Theatre Bookshop building is a blue plaque which has an interesting connection to recent excavations.

Warren Street

Captain Matthew Flinders was instrumental in identifying Australia as a continent, by being the first western explorer to circumnavigate the land, which he would also play a part in naming.

His name was all over the media earlier this year when his grave was discovered during the excavations of St James’s burial ground as part of the HS2 extension to Euston Station, a short distance along the Euston Road from Warren Street.

Captain Matthew Flinders (source here).

Warren Street

Warren Street has some interesting shop fronts:

Warren Street

Original terrace of houses, shops on the ground floor, offices and / or flats above. Work on the buildings over the years shown by the different brick colours.

Warren Street

At the junction of Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road is the underground station that bears the street’s name.Warren Street

The first underground station opened here in 1907, with the current building dating from 1934.

The station is on the Northern and Victoria lines, and is a very busy station during week days.

Large numbers of people use the station for the offices at Regent’s Place, University College Hospital, University College London, and the businesses that line Tottenham Court Road and the surrounding streets. It is a station I have used many times and during the early morning peak hours the automatic ticket gates are usually left open to speed passengers through from the escalators to the street.

Since being a field on the northern edge of John Rocque’s London, Warren Street has been home to some lovely late 18th century buildings, the discoverer of Australia as a continent, the arrival of the underground, used car dealers, and J. Evans – Dairy Farmer, the shop that was the reason for my walk along Warren Street.

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The Perseverance or Sun Pub, Lamb’s Conduit Street

Today’s post is not the one I intended, it has been a busy week so not enough time to complete research for the planned subject, however I was in the area of Lamb’s Conduit Street last Tuesday so made a visit to the pub on the corner of Lamb’s Conduit Street and Great Ormond Street. Today, the pub is named The Perseverance, but back in 1985 it was the Sun and had the most brilliant decoration on the rounded corner, so typical of the architecture of 19th century London pubs.

The Perseverance

This is the same view in March 2019, a change in name and rather more subdued signage on the corner of The Perseverance.

The Perseverance

Lamb’s Conduit Street has two main, historical, landowners. The Bedford Charity (which I wrote about here) owned and developed the southern part of the street, whilst the Rugby Charity owned and developed the northern section of Lamb’s Conduit Street.

The Rugby Charity still owns much of the original land, including The Perseverance with the income from the street being used to fund bursaries and scholarships to Rugby School. (There are still a number of Rugby boundary markers in place, so a future project is to walk the boundaries and look for all the remaining plaques that identified the estate).

The pub retained the name of the Sun from the early 19th century, to the 1990s when the name changed a couple of times, including being called Finnegans Wake prior to the final name change around 2005 / 2006 to The Perseverance.

I have always wondered why pubs change from names that have lasted well over 100 years. I can understand if the pub wants to completely separate from a previous existence, but when the pub continues to serve the same function to the same target market, I would have thought the marketing benefits of retaining a historical name far outweigh the benefits of a new name.

There are many other examples of name changes across London. I wrote about the Horn Tavern in Sermon Lane which only relatively recently changed name to The Centre Page.

The full view of The Perseverance on the corner of Lamb’s Conduit Street and Great Ormond Street.

The Perseverance

I did not take a similar view in 1985 – the photo at the top of the post was the last on the strip of negatives so this must have been the end of a roll of film. One of the benefits of digital photography is the almost endless capacity for taking photos.

The photo above shows a different style to the buildings immediately joined on to the pub. These buildings, along with the original corner building date from the early 18th century, however the pub was refronted in the early 19th century to the style we see today.

The building is Grade II listed.

The Perseverance retains the feel of a “local” and has a bar area on the ground floor and a dining area on the first floor. It was still rather empty when I stopped for a quick drink as shown in the photo below.

The Perseverance

The Grade II listing states that the pub retains an original cast-iron column, which I assume is the column on the left of the bar.

Back outside, I had a couple of minutes for a quick look around.

One side of the eastern branch of Great Ormond Street has a fantastic array of potted plants lining the pavement.

The Perseverance

Whilst the opposite side of the street has a terrace of brick built houses from the original development of the land, looking good in the sunshine.

The Perseverance

Along the western branch of Great Ormond Street, a short distance along from The Perseverance is this building with a Blue Plaque.

The Perseverance

The plaque records that “John Howard, 1726 to 1790, Prison Reformer Lived Here”.

John Howard was the prison reformer after who the Howard League for Penal Reform was named. Howard was born in Hackney, but spent much of his life in Bedford. He became the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire which came with the responsibility for the county gaol.

He was horrified by the conditions of the gaol and the way in which it was administered, with control basically being down to the way in which the appointed gaolers wished to manage the prison and make money out of those with the misfortune to be held.

His experience in Bedford resulted in many journeys throughout the country exploring and reporting on the conditions of numerous gaols – all of which suffered from the same problems.

His journeys between 1775 and 1790 were described in a book “The State of the Prisons In England and Wales” which provides a comprehensive review of conditions in 18th century goals. The first paragraph of Section 1 – General View of Distress in Prisons introduces the state of the country’s gaols:

“There are prisons, into which whoever looks will, at first sight of the people confined there, be convinced, that there is some great error in the management of them; the fallow meager countenances declare, without words, that they are very miserable; many who went in healthy, are in a few months changed to emaciated dejected objects. Some are seen pining under diseases, ‘sick and in prison’ expiring on the floors, in loathsome cells, of pestilential fevers, and the confluent small-pox; victims, I must not say to the cruelty, but I will say to the inattention of the sheriffs, and gentlemen in the commission of the peace.”

The book records the state of each prison that he visited and Howard’s records of Marshalsea Prison in Southwark are as follows:

The Perseverance

The Perseverance

The Perseverance

Howard’s book The State of the Prisons In England and Wales is available online at archive.org and provides a fascinating insight into 18th century prisons.

I did not have time to explore much further along Great Ormond Street, so I backtracked to The Perseverance to head back down along Lamb’s Conduit Street, which deserves a dedicated blog post, however one building just a short distance from the pub has some interesting decoration above the first floor windows.

The Perseverance

I could not photograph from directly opposite as the branches of a tree partially obscured the view. Detail of the first floor decoration is shown in the photo below which consists of a date along with a sheaf of wheat, tied with rope, with four hands pulling on the rope.

The Perseverance

The symbol is of the United Patriots National Benefit Society which was founded in 1843 with offices here in Lamb’s Conduit Street, as well as other offices and branches across London and the rest of the country.

The society was one of a number of benefit societies to which members contributed a regular subscription and were then able to call on financial support in times of hardship. The sheaf symbol was used extensively by the society on their buildings, certificates of membership, documentation and badges.

Like many 19th century societies, the United Patriots National Benefit Society appear to have enjoyed members meetings in pubs which seemed to have consisted of entertainment and toasts (and probably lots of beer). An account from the Islington Gazette on the 4th November 1884 reads:

“The members of the Caledonian-road branch of this society celebrated their fortieth anniversary by a supper, at the ‘Prince of Brunswick’ Tavern, Barnsbury-road on Thursday evening last. Subsequently, the members having disposed themselves for the evenings entertainment.

The Chairman (Mr. W.E. Beer), in a few prefatory remarks condemning the recent disquieting rumours in the press concerning the Navy, proposed the ‘loyal and patriotic toasts’ which were drunk enthusiastically.

Mr G. Coel (the branch secretary), in responding to the toast of the evening, said that, up to the end of last year, the members on the books numbered 95. the receipts for 1883 amounted to £116 14s 11d, and the disbursements £114 17s 7d leaving a balance of £1 17s 4d in their favour, he regretted not being able to lay before them a better statement of affairs, but owing to the unfortunate prevalence of sickness during that time, there has been an extra call upon the funds; but it was, at the same time, gratifying to know they have been more than able to meet the demands made, without applying for aid from the mother society. He concluded by thanking them all for their courtesy and kindness accorded to him during his connection with them, extending over seven years (Cheers).

The proceedings throughout were enlivened with songs by the company, which separated after cordially approving votes of thanks to the Chairman and the host (Mr. Wilson).

I suspect those who had been able to call upon the society during times of sickness were the fortunate ones, with those not able to be members having very little to fall back on.

I should not be surprised as I have been walking London for decades, however it is always brilliant how much history can be found within a very short distance from a specific point. I went to find the pub which had a very colourful decoration in the 1980s and also found one of the key early founders of prison reform and the home of one of London’s benefit’s societies. Digging deeper there is the history of the Rugby Charity which received the original donation of land and has owned, developed and managed much of the local area since, and before that one of the early water supplies to London and the land owner that gave the street its name.

Hopefully subjects for future posts.

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Simmonds Stores, Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Before getting into this week’s post, can I thank everyone who commented and e-mailed following last Sunday’s post on the 5th anniversary of the blog. Your feedback is really appreciated.

There are a number of then and now photos that I find sum up the changes to an area. A few years ago I wrote a post about the location of the Gun Tavern in Wapping. My father photographed the post war ruins of the old pub. Today, the same location is occupied by a Foxton’s estate agent.

For today’s post I have another pair of photos that sum up how an area has changed. This time I am in Chelsea, and this is Simmonds Stores, on the corner of Godfrey Street and Cale Street. The photograph was taken in 1986.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

The same view in February 2019:

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

The two photos typify how the area has changed. A corner shop that once sold household wares, piled high outside the shop to tempt passers-by, is now the Chelsea Green Valet. It is not just the shop that has changed, the building has been “restored”, although some of the changes attempt to replicate original features which were not part of the building’s design. An example being the new door on the left of the building which replaces an original window. The use of a door surround that attempts to give the door an original appearance was part of the work to bring the building to its current appearance.

The building of Godfrey Street dates from the 19th century. The first newspaper reference I have found to the street was from 1830 which implies the street was developed in the first decades of the 19th century. The name probably comes from Walter Godfrey who was a landowner in Chelsea during the 18th century. The corner store probably dates to the original construction of the street.

The 1891 Kelly’s Directory records that Albert Simmonds, Oilman was in residence, and it is this reference that provides a clue to the early function of the store and the large jars that are still mounted on the side of the building.

These represented Tuscan oil jars and indicated that oil was sold in the store. There is another example to be found in my post on Lower Marsh in Lambeth.

The 1891 census provides some additional information on Albert Simmonds. He was aged 30 and was born in Shipton, Oxfordshire. He lived in the building with his wife Mary (31) and children Mary Ann (7), Albert (6) and Frederick (1). Also in the house there was a servant Florence Hele, aged 17 and listed as a General Servant.

I do not know when the stores closed, or whether it was still in the Simmonds family when my father photographed the building in 1986, however it retained the Simmonds name for around 100 years.

The London Metropolitan Collage archives has a photo of the stores dated from 1971.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_067_71_2348.

In 1971 the shop had a rather nice lantern over the door which had disappeared by 1986, All the windows on both the ground and first floors looked stuffed with goods for sale.

A wider view of the location of Simmonds Stores.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

I have marked the location of the building in the following map extract to show Simmonds Stores on the north-west corner of Godfrey Street.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

As usual, I always use the opportunity of finding these locations to take a walk around the immediate area. The shop sits between Godfrey Street on the left and Danube Street on the right. Danube Street’s main function is to provide access to the rear of the buildings on the adjacent streets.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Godfrey Street is interesting. A considerable mix of architecture with houses much altered since their original build. Many of the buildings have been painted in bright colours.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

The council’s conservation reports have concerns about this approach in a conservation area – “The buildings within the area were not intended to have painted masonry finishes. Today many houses have been painted. In some cases where the whole terrace was painted many years ago in a consistent scheme, this paint has become part of the street’s character. However, in other places, where individual houses have been painted in a brick terrace, they have harmed the uniformity of the terrace and the appearance of the conservation area”.

View from the southern end of Godfrey Street looking up towards Cale Street.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

It is fascinating to look up newspaper references to the locations I visit. They frequently provide an insight into the lives of those who have lived in these streets. One tragic report from one of the earliest mentions of Godfrey Street, documenting an example of domestic abuse was reported in the London Courier and Evening Gazette on the 20th November 1832:

“LOVE AND SUICIDE – It may be recollected, that a few weeks ago Mr. Hilde, a Hanoverian by birth, was charged at Queen-square Police Office by a Mrs. Arthur, a young widow of 19 Godfrey Street, Chelsea-common, with frequently assaulting her, and treating her in such a manner that she considered her life in danger from his violence. He was then ordered to enter into sureties to keep the peace towards her, but he would still continue to come to the house and annoy her, although he had moved her lodgings  to No 22, Pulteney-street, Golden-square. Mr Hilde, had been a lodger of Mrs. Arthur’s and during the time he was there she was arrested and confined in Whitecross-street prison. he paid the debt for her, and she was released, and they then cohabited together as man and wife, until they had frequent quarrels, and he was in the habit of beating her continually. The last time he was brought to Queen-square was about a month ago for attempting to get into her house, and he had then great trouble to procure bail, as his friends found it difficult to keep him from going to the house where Mrs. Arthur resided, so devotedly did he appear to be attached to her, not withstanding his ill-usage of her.

On Sunday afternoon he called upon Police Sergeant King, of the V division, No. 10 at Battersea, who had him in custody at the Police-office, and he dined and drank tea with him. They afterwards went out and took a walk, and he returned and had supper with him. During the whole of the day he appeared very much depressed in spirits, and frequently exclaimed, with tears in his eyes, in broken English ‘My God ! how I love that woman ! – nobody knows how I love her !’

About a quarter to ten o’clock in the evening, he left King’s house to go home, and in less than half an hour afterwards King was informed that a man was in the Thames. An alarm was instantly given, boats put off, and in about twenty minutes the body of the unhappy man was picked up by Abraham Graves, a waterman, quite dead. The body was taken to the Adam and Eve public-house, in Duke-street, Chelsea, and Mr. Fletcher, the surgeon, promptly attended, but every effort to restore life was ineffectual. the body now awaits the Coroner’s inquest”.

The article highlights what Mrs. Arthur had to suffer, however the sympathy of the article appears to be with Mr. Hilde despite the fact that he was the one inflicting violence on the young widow. Sadly what happened in Godfrey Street was suffered by woman all across the City with minimal impact on the male perpetrators.

At first glance, Godfrey Street ends in a dead-end with a house appearing to close the street, however the street does a 90 degree bend to the right, where it meets the narrow Danube Street (the southern section of which is also called Godfrey Street).

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

On the corner is a rather nice bollard.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Turning the corner at the end of Godfrey Street and the house between the main street and the small side street is painted bright blue.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Looking down Godfrey / Danube Street that runs at the rear of the houses. A narrow service alley that provides access to the rear of the buildings.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Godfrey Street ends at the junction with Burnsall Street. I turned right into Burnsall Street to look at the buildings that are on the opposite side of the alley that runs at the back of Godfrey Street. These houses are very different. This is Astell Street which runs parallel to Godfrey Street, up to Cale Street.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

These buildings are very different to those in Godfrey Street. A look at the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows that this street was named Blenheim Street and was comprised of workman’s houses, very similar to those in Godfrey Street, however early 20th century redevelopment demolished the original terraces of two storey houses and replaced them with much larger, and more expensive houses.

These changes were happening across Chelsea, causing the Chelsea Society in 1937 to express concern about the social mix of the area changing as working class homes were being demolished and replaced with the type of building we can see in Astell Street.

At the junction of Astell Street and Britten Street is another rather nice original bollard, dating from 1844.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

Walking down Britten Street and by a lucky coincidence there is the type of place where I like to end a walk. This is the Builders Arms.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

The pub has the date c. 1820 at the very top of the building, however the written references I have found for the pub appear to date the building to around 1841. The reference to 1820 is a recent addition as this was not on the building in the 1970s.

The Builders Arms was located adjacent to the Anchor Brewery. The site of the Brewery has been considerably redeveloped, however an entrance gate can still be seen.

Godfrey Street, Chelsea

I am not sure if I remember correctly, however I believe the arch is a rebuild of the original arch, although I may be wrong.

Simmonds Stores typifies how Chelsea has changed over the last few decades, however as with the references to Astell Street, the gradual change from original working class housing to the multi-million pound housing we find today has been going on for very many years.

I have covered a number of these 1980s corner shops, and have very many more to find, however for the next series of posts, I will be returning to 1940s and 1950s London, and also discovering some other aspects of London.

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Euston Station and HS2 – A 2019 Update

The excavations of St. James Gardens, in preparation for the expansion of Euston Station for HS2, have been underway for some time and make the headlines every few months when a significant discovery is made. The last time was a few weeks ago when the grave of Matthew Flinders was found. Flinders was the first European to circumnavigate Australia. He died in 1814 and his headstone was removed from St. James Gardens during previous clearances and expansion of the station. His grave was assumed to have been lost, but was identified during the current excavations by the use of a lead plate on his coffin.

One year ago, in February 2018 I took a walk around the streets to the west of Euston Station to look at the streets that would be under the HS2 Platforms and Concourse. This followed on from an earlier post on St. James Gardens.

I thought that it would be interesting to take another walk around the same area, almost exactly one year later and get a 2019 update on the changes that have taken place.

Most of the roads have now been closed to traffic, although there is still pedestrian access along some of the roads immediately to the west of Euston Station. There has been very little demolition yet, just lots of scaffolding and hoardings. The main focus of work appears to be at the location of St. James Gardens.

The following map provides an overview of the area and I have marked the locations of the photos that appear in the post.

Euston Station

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

Euston Station is the large area in the upper right part of the map. The current HS2 expansion of Euston is roughly covering the area bounded by where I was taking photos, although the final area will be larger and there is already work commencing between the station and Euston Road.

The first few photos are from location one. Leaving Euston Station, this is the view towards Euston Street.

Euston Station

It is possible to walk north a short distance to the point where Cardington Street began. This is the street that ran to the east of St. James Gardens.

Euston Station

The following view is looking up Cardington Street. The iBis Hotel was on the left of the street. The large white marquee is covering the excavations of the graveyard at St. James Gardens. The size of the marquee provides some idea of the scale of work involved.

Euston Station

On the corner of Melton Street and Drummond Street is the original Euston station of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway. The station is one of Leslie Green’s distinctive station designs.

Euston Station

Looking back along Melton Street towards Euston Road.

Euston Station

Although closed for traffic, this part of Drummond Street is still open for pedestrians, so I walked down and turned right into Coburg Street. This section is still open for traffic and the Exmouth Arms is open (see location two). The large marquee over the St. James Gardens excavations can be seen in the background.

Euston Station

Looking back down Drummond Street from location three in the map.

Euston Station

The other side of Coburg Street is open, but the buildings alongside are hoarded off, presumably waiting for demolition.

Euston Station

The following photos are from location four. At the junction of Coburg Street and Euston Street, yet more buildings covered in scaffolding.

Euston Station

The Bree Louise pub is still there, but fenced off.

Euston Station

Back to the junction with Drummond Street and this is the view along the northern leg of Coburg Street. The old iBis Hotel is underneath the sheeting on the right.

Euston Station

I then walked up to Hampstead Road to see what impact HS2 preparation is having. Most of the buildings along a significant section of the east side of Hampstead Road have been demolished, including the old London Temperance Hospital. This is the view (location five) of the rear of the marquee covering the St. James Garden’s excavations.

Euston Station

HS2 have built a small community space along Hampstead Road (location six).

Euston Station

On display in the space are the foundation stones recovered from the London Temperance Hospital.

Euston Station

The first foundation stone, with above, a decorative lintel retrieved from the main building.

Euston Station

An information note advises that time capsules were retrieved from underneath the foundation stones and that these are currently being conserved. Unfortunately there is no information on what was in the time capsules.

There is also a memorial stone recovered from St. James Gardens. This is a Ledger Stone for the Griffiths family, made of Welsh slate possibly to reflect their Welsh heritage.

Euston Station

The second foundation stone from the London Temperance Hospital.

Euston Station

There are a number of large information panels which tell the history of the area and the impact the expansion of the railways.

Euston Station

The railways have had a significant impact on the area, HS2 is just the latest expansion. 19th century expansion of Euston Station had already taken a section of St. James Gardens and the construction of the tracks into the station had a major impact on the graveyard of St. Pancras Old Church.

Information panels showing the history of the wider area.

Euston Station

This was the northern end of Cardington Street which is closed a short distance along (location seven in the map above). I suspect many satnavs have not been updated as in the short time I was there, a number of cars turned into the street and had to turn round.

Euston Station

View along Hampstead Road to the south. The area to the left of the photo will look very different when HS2 is complete.

Euston Station

In the year since I last visited the site, the main focus of work appears to be at the old graveyard at St. James Gardens which is not surprising given the considerable amount of archaeological excavation and investigation that is needed.

It is still possible to walk many of the streets, although for how much longer is not clear, the majority of buildings lining these streets appear to be ready for demolition.

It will be interesting to make a return visit in February 2020 to see how far work has progressed. What is clear is the scale of the impact that HS2 will have on Euston. This will be a very different station when the new service is operational.

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New Deal For East London – Bromley By Bow to Poplar

Two years ago I started a project to revisit all the locations listed as at risk in an issue of the Architects Journal. dated 19th January 1972. This issue had a lengthy, special feature titled “New Deal For East London”. The full background to the article is covered in my first post on the subject here.

I have almost completed the task of visiting all 85 locations, there are just a few more to complete. I had a day off work last Monday, the weather was perfect, so I took a walk from Bromley by Bow to the southern tip of the Isle of Dogs to track down another set of locations featured in the 1972 article, and also to explore an area, the first part of which, is not usually high up on the list for a London walk.

There was so much of interest on this walk, that I have divided into two posts. Bromley by Bow to Poplar today, and Poplar to the tip of the Isle of Dogs, hopefully mid-week.

I had five sites to visit, which are shown in the following map from the 1972 article, starting at location number 29, passing by sites 56, 28 and 27 before finishing at site 26.

To get to the start of my planned route, I took the Hammersmith & City line out to Bromley by Bow station. There have been some considerable changes to the area in the years since the 1972 article, changes which are still ongoing. The following map shows the area today with the five locations marked. One obvious difference between the 1972 and 2019 maps are the major roads that have been cut through the original streets, and it is by one of these new roads that I would start the walk.

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

The entrance to Bromley by Bow underground station has been a building site for the last few years, although with not too much evidence of building work underway. The exterior of the station entrance is clad in hoardings and scaffolding.

Bromley by Bow

The underground station entrance opens out onto a busy road. Three lanes of traffic either side of a central barrier. This is the A12 which leads from the Bow Flyover junction with the A11 and takes traffic down to the junction with the A13 and the Blackwall Tunnel under the River Thames.

Directly opposite the station is a derelict building. This, along with surrounding land has been acquired by a development company ready for the construction of a whole new, mainly residential area, including a 26 storey tower block.

Bromley by Bow

In the photo above, i am looking across the 6 lanes and central barrier of the A12. The construction of this road in the 1970s had a major impact on the area. It was once a network of smaller streets, terrace housing and industry, much of which was due to the location adjacent to the River Lea. The following extract from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Reference Atlas of Greater London shows a very different area. Bromley Station (now Bromley by Bow) is towards the top of the map with St. Leonard’s Street passing the station, leading down to Brunswick Road. Parts of these streets remain, however as the north to south route they have been replaced by the six lane A12. Many of the side streets have also disappeared or been shortened.

Bromley by Bow

There are still many traces that can be found of the original streets and the buildings that the local population would have frequented. This photo is of the old Queen Victoria pub at 179 St Leonard’s Street.

Bromley by Bow

The pub is surrounded by the new buildings of Bow School, however originally to the side of the pub and at the back were large terraces of flats which presumably provided a large part of the customers for the Queen Victoria. The pub closed in 2001 and is presumably now residential.

Walking further along the road, the road crosses the Limehouse Cut, built during the late 1760s and early 1770s to provide a direct route between the River Thames to the west of the Isle of Dogs loop and the River Lea.

Bromley by Bow

New build and converted residential buildings have been gradually working their way along the Limehouse Cut, however there are a few survivors from the light industrial use of the area, including this building where the Limehouse Cut passes underneath the A12.

Bromley by Bow

A short distance along is another old London County Council Fire Brigade Station for my collection. This was built in 1910, but has since been converted into flats.

Bromley by Bow

The building is Grade II listed, with the Historic England listing stating that the building “is listed as one of London’s top rank early-C20 fire stations“. The building originally faced directly onto Brunwsick Road and was known as Brunswick Road Fire Station, however with the A12 cutting through the area, the small loop of the original Brunswick Road that separates the fire station from the A12 has been renamed Gillender Street.

The short distance on from the fire station is the first of the Architects Journal sites on my list:

Site 29 – Bromley Hall

The view approaching Bromley Hall:

Bromley by Bow

For an area that has been through so much pre and post war development, the original industrialisation of the area and wartime bombing, it is remarkable that Bromley Hall has survived.

Although having been through many changes, the building can trace its origins back to the end of the 15th century when it was built as a Manor House, later becoming a Tudor Royal Hunting Lodge. The site is much older as it was originally occupied by the late 12th century Lower Brambeley Hall, and parts of this earlier building have been exposed and are on display through a glass floor in the building.

Bromley by Bow

The London Metropolitan Archives, Collage site has a few photos of Bromley Hall. The first dates from 1968 and shows the hall, apparently in good condition, but surrounded by the industry that grew up along the River Lea.

Bromley by Bow

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01 288 68 5683

The photo highlights the impact that the A12 has had in the area. The above photo was taken from Venue Street, a street that still remains, but in a much shorter form. Everything in the above photo, in front of Bromley Hall, is now occupied by the six lane A12.

An earlier photo from 1943 showing Bromley Hall. The windows have been bricked up, I assume either because of loss of glass due to bombing, or as protection for the building.

Bromley by Bow

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_288_F1262

Bromley Hall is Grade II listed and has been open during Open House London weekends and is well worth a visit.

Further along is another example that this area, now isolated across the A12 was once a thriving community. This imposing facade is of Bromley Library, built between 1904 and 1906.

Bromley by BowBromley Library was one of four libraries in Poplar. The others being Poplar Library in the High Street, Cubitt Town Library in Strattondale Street and Bow Library in Roman Road. These libraries were open from 9 in the morning till 9:30 in the evening, and in 1926 almost half a million books were issued across the four libraries.

The Bromley Library building is now Grade II listed. It closed in 1981 and after standing empty for many years, the old library building has been converted into small business units.

I walked on a bit further, then took a photo looking back up the A12 to show the width of the road.

Bromley by Bow

Bromley Hall is the building with the white side wall to camera, and the library is just to the left of the new, taller building.

There is a constant stream of traffic along this busy road, when I took this photo it was during one of the occasional gaps in traffic when a pedestrian crossing just behind me was at red. There are not too many points to cross the road, with crossings consisting of occasional pedestrian traffic lights and also a couple of pedestrian underpass.

Much of this lower part of the A12 widening between the Limehouse Cut and East India Dock Road was originally Brunswick Street. The following Collage photo from 1963 shows Brunswick Street before all this would be swept away in the 1970s for the road between the Bow Flyover and the Blackwall Tunnel.

Bromley by Bow

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_288_AV63_989

Before the road meets the East India Dock Road, there are additional lanes to take traffic under the A12 and across to Abbott Road to the east.

Bromley by Bow

Close to the junction between the A12 and the East India Dock Road is the Balfron Tower.

A whole post could be written about Balfron Tower, the flats design by Erno Goldfinger and built in 1967. Balfron Tower tends to generate either love it or loathe it views of the building. dependent on your appreciation of high-rise accommodation and concrete construction.

The recent past has also been controversial in the history of the building. Like many estates from the 1960s, Balfron Tower suffered from lack of maintenance, failing lifts, problems with plumping and anti-social behavior.

In 2007 the building was transferred from Tower Hamlets Council to the housing association Poplar HARCA. The transfer included a commitment for refurbishment of the building which required considerable work and cost.

Tenants were initially given the option to remain whilst refurbishment was carried out, or move to a new local property. Whilst a number of residents took up the option to move, a number of residents remained.

The remaining residents were moved out in 2010, the reason given being the difficulty of managing a significant refurbishment project along with health and safety issues whilst there are residents in the building. Initially there was an indication that the residents may have a right of return, however this option disappeared as work progressed, and the costs of building works grew.

The redevelopment work is being undertaken by a joint venture including Poplar HARCA, LondonNewcastle and Telford Homes. There will not be any social housing in the refurbished building and all flats will be sold at market rates.

A long hoarding separates the building from the A12 with artist impressions of the new Balfron Tower and the address of the website where you can register your general interest, or as a potential purchaser of one of the flats.

Bromley by Bow

Balfron Tower photographed in February 2019, clad for building work.

Bromley by Bow

A couple of years ago, I climbed the clock tower at Chrisp Street Market and photographed Balfron Tower:

Bromley by Bow

This is a development that will continue to be controversial due to the lack of any social housing and the sale of the flats at market rates. Another example of the gradual demographic change of east London.

To reach my next destination on the Architects’ Journal list, I turn into East India Dock Road. A terrace of 19th century buildings with ground floor shops runs along the north of the street and above Charlie’s Barbers there is an interesting sign:

Bromley by Bow

Interesting to have this reference to a north London club in east London. I put this photo on Twitter with a question as to the meaning and one possible reference is the boring way Arsenal use to play and results would only ever be one nil. I would have asked Charlie, if he still owns the barbers, however they were shut during my visit.

Bromley by Bow

A short distance from Charlies Barbers and across the East India Dock Road was my next location.

Site 56 – Early 19th Century All Saints, Poplar, With Contemporary Rectory And Terraces

Buildings seem to have a habit of surrounding themselves in scaffolding whenever I visit and All Saints, Poplar was certainly doing its best to hide, however it still looks a magnificent church on a sunny February morning.

Bromley by Bow

Poplar was originally a small hamlet, however the growth of the docks generated a rapid growth in population. The East India Dock Road was built between 1806 and 1812 to provide a transport route between the City and the newly built East India Docks.

Alongside the East India Dock Road, All Saints was constructed in the 1820s by the builder Thomas Morris who was awarded the contract in 1821.

The church survived the bombing of the docks during the last war until March 1945 when a V2 rocket landed in Bazely Street alongside the eastern boundary of the churchyard, causing considerable damage to the east of the church.

The church was designed to be seen as a local landmark along the East India Dock Road and across the local docks. The spire of the church is 190 feet high and the white Portland stone facing would have impressed those passing along the major route between City and Docks.

Burials in the churchyard ended in the 19th century and the gravestones have been moved to the edge, lining the metal fencing along the boundary of the church.

Bromley by Bow

The area around the church was developed during the same years as construction of the church. A couple of streets around the church now form a conservation area. These were not houses built for dock workers. Their location in the streets facing onto the church would be for those with a substantial regular income, rather than those working day-to-day in the docks.

This is Montague Place where there are eight surviving terrace houses from the 1820s.

Bromley by Bow

At the eastern end of Montague Place there is another terrace of four houses in Bazely Street. These date from 1845 and are in remarkably good condition.

Bromley by Bow

The church and two terraces of houses form a listed group and are part of a single conservation area.

A short distance further down Bazely Street is one of my favourite pubs in the area – the Greenwich Pensioner. The pub closed for a few years recently but has fortunately reopened.

Bromley by Bow

One of the problems of walking in the morning – the pubs are still closed.

I continued along Bazely Street to Poplar High Street, then turned south to the large roundabout where Cotton Street (the A1206) meets the multi-lane Aspen Way. This is not really a pedestrian friendly area, however I needed to cross under the Aspen Way to continue heading south for my next destination.

This photo looking towards the east, is from the roundabout underneath the flyover that takes the Aspen Way on its way to the Lower Lea Crossing.

Bromley by Bow

As with the A12 along Bromley by Bow, this area has been cut through with some major new multi-lane roads as part of the redevelopment of the docks.

A poster seen underneath the flyover alongside the roundabout.

Bromley by Bow

A poster that is relevant to a specific point in time. I was not sure who would see the poster as it is facing inwards, away from the traffic on the roundabout, and I doubt that many pedestrians take this route.

Emerging from underneath the flyover and the developments on the northern edge of the Isle of Dogs can be seen.

Bromley by Bow

Crossing over Trafalgar Way, and one of the old docks can be found. This is Poplar Dock looking west with two cranes remaining from when the dock was operational.

Bromley by Bow

The site is now Poplar Dock Marina and is full with narrow boats and an assorted range of other smaller craft. Poplar Dock opened in 1851, however the site had originally been used from 1827 as a reservoir to balance water levels in the main West India Dock just to the west. In the 1840s the area was used as a timber pond before conversion to a dock.

Poplar Docks served a specific purpose, being known as a railway dock. The following extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows Poplar Docks almost fully ringed by railway tracks and depots of the railway companies.

Bromley by Bow

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

Again, the docks deserve far more attention than I can give in this post, so for now, I will leave Poplar Docks at their southern end and walk along Preston’s Road to get to my next location on the Architects’ Journal list.

Site 28 – Early 19th Century Dockmaster’s House, Now Empty

Those last two words must have been the reason for inclusion in the list. An empty building in the docklands in the 1970s would have been at risk, however fortunately the building has survived and this is the view when approaching the location along Preston’s Road.

Bromley by Bow

The Dockmaster’s House goes by the name of Bridge House and is now occupied by apartments available for short term rent.

The house is alongside the Blackwall entrance to the docks, a channel that connects the River Thames to the Blackwall Basin so would have seen all the shipping entering from the river, heading via the basin to and from the West India Dock.

Evidence of the historic function of the place can be found hidden in the gardens between the house and the channel.

Bromley by Bow

Bridge House was built between 1819 and 1820 for the West India Dock Company’s Principal Dockmaster. The entrance to the house faces to the channel running between docks and river, however if you look at the first photo of Bridge House taken from Preston’s Road you will see large bay windows facing out towards the river. This was a deliberate part of the design by John Rennie as these windows, along with the house being on raised ground would provide a perfect view towards the river and the shipping about to enter or leave the docks.

The Architects’ Journal in January 1972 were right to be worried about the future of Bridge House. Later that same year a fire destroyed the roof. The rest of the house survived and a flat roof was put in place.

The house was converted to flats in 1987 and a new roof to the same design as the original replaced the flat roof. The luxury flats did not sell, and Bridge House has hosted a number of temporary office roles before apparently now providing a short term let for flats which have been constructed inside the building.

The view from in front of the house. This side of the house is facing down to the channel that leads from the Thames to the Blackwall Basin.

Bromley by Bow

A view from the bridge over the channel showing the house in its raised position, overlooking the channel and to the right, the River Thames (although that view is now obstructed by buildings).

Bromley by Bow

Before continuing on down through the Isle of Dogs in my next post, I will pause here on the bridge over the channel between docks and river to enjoy the view.

This is looking west towards the original Blackwall Basin:

Bromley by Bow

This is looking east, the opposite direction towards the river with the Millennium Dome partly visible across the river.

Bromley by Bow

I really enjoyed this part of the walk, what could be considered an unattractive route, walking down from Bromley by Bow station is completely wrong. It is an area going through considerable change but there is so much history and so much to explore.

In my next post I will continue walking south towards the far end of the Isle of Dogs to find the remaining two locations from the 1972 issue of the Architects’ Journal.

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A Corner Shop In Old Ford Road

Last Sunday, I took advantage of some glorious winter sunshine and headed out to Bethnal Green and Old Ford Road to find the location of a corner shop my father had photographed in 1986, when small, family owned corner shops still catered for the day to day needs of many Londoners.

This was Fowlers Stores at 33 Old Ford Road:

Old Ford Road

The same shop today in February 2019:

Old Ford Road

The 1986 photo shows a typical London corner shop. Shelves up against the window stocked with items such as Mothers Pride bread, a rather random assortment of household goods in the window on the left, always plenty of cigarette advertising, milk bottles in crates left outside for collection, and in Fowlers Store, an advert for Tudor Colour Films at the top of the door – a film brand I tried once as it was cheap before returning to Kodak.

What can be seen of the outside of the shop today looks in very poor condition, although I am surprised that the 33 Old Ford Rd sign is still there – 33 years after the original photo.

I would love to look behind the shutters and see how much of the original shop survives.

I am not sure when the shop closed, on the occasions I have walked along Old Ford Road in recent years it has always been closed with the shutters down.

There is a National Lottery Instants sign just above the door in my 2019 photo. I believe these were distributed when the National Lottery started scratchcard games in 1995, so the shop was open in the middle of the 1990s.

I checked the historic view feature in Google Streetview and the shop was closed in all images back to the first in July 2008, so the Fowlers Stores must have closed between the mid 1990s and 2000s.

33 Old Ford Road is located at the Cambridge Heath Road end of Old Ford Road, on the corner with Peel Grove, a street that is now a short dead end after the grounds of a school took over the central section of Peel Grove.

The shop is at the end of a terrace of 19th century houses / shops.

Old Ford Road

The buildings do not date from before 1850 as an 1844 map shows a limited amount of buildings here, along with some subtle road changes as Old Ford Road originally terminated further to the right of the above photo and this stretch appears to have been a combination of North Street and Gretton Street. The North East London Cemetery was located just to the north where the school adjacent to Peel Grove is now located.

I suspect it has been a shop for most of the life of the building.  In the 1891 Kelly’s London Post Office Directory, 33 Old Ford Road is listed as being occupied by William Stone – Grocer.

Given that the shop has probably been closed for at least 10 years, I am surprised it has not been converted for some other use.

The map below shows the location of the shop marked by a red circle.

Old Ford Road

Maps  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

As usual, I use visiting a specific location as a reason for exploring the local area and after finding 33 Old Ford Road, I went for a brief walk.

I have already explored part of the area when I was tracking down sites listed as at risk in the Architects Journal focus on East London in 1973, but there were a couple of other streets I wanted to visit.

Turning off Cambridge Heath Road into Old Ford Road, before I had reached number 33, is the magnificent York Hall.

Old Ford Road

This magnificent building, opened in 1929, was at risk a few years ago, but fortunately has been saved and is owned by Tower Hamlets Council.

The building has housed Turkish Baths in the basement and all manner of functions in the large hall. Boxing matches were a regular feature and in the early days of the hall, political functions attracted the attention of the political groups trying to create trouble across East London. A newspaper article from the 17th February 1939 reports:

“LIVELY TIME FOR LIBERAL LEADER – FASCISTS HURL TOMATOES AND LIGHT BULBS: Tomatoes and electric light bulbs were thrown at the platform, when Sir Archibald Sinclair, Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, was subjected to noisy interruptions while addressing a Liberal meeting in York Hall, Bethnal Green, London last night.

Three hundred Fascists had got into the hall with tickets which, it was alleged, they had printed themselves. It was not until the police had ejected a large number of people that Sir Archibald Sinclair was able to make himself heard. He was continually interrupted, and there was an uproar as a man was ejected.

When Sir Archibald rose the Fascists sang their marching song “We Want Mosley”.

There were attempts to drown his voice by singing. ‘Some people want to hear Mosley’ Sir Archibald shouted into the microphone, ‘but he isn’t here to be heard. The reason they are anxious to stop me speaking is that they know the words I speak will express the opinion of the great majority of people in Bethnal Green. I could not do so much for the Liberal cause as these people are doing’.

When the crowd again began to chant ‘We want Mosley’ the chairman said, ‘We will telegraph to Mr. Hitler and say that his hirelings have been playing his game’. 

In his speech Sir Archibald said: ‘The question which the Liberal party asks is how we are to defend democracy, to uphold the values of liberty, justice and international good faith – to expand the bounds of freedom, to raise the material and spiritual standards of our civilisation, to give every man and woman in these islands the opportunity of living a fuller, richer and more useful life in a peaceful and orderly world.”

York Hall hosted other, rather more peaceful events, for example, a couple of years earlier the hall was hosting an exhibition by the Bethnal Green Chamber of Commerce, where there was a miniature brewery on display, demonstrating the complete process of brewing and bottling.

Old Ford Road is an interesting road. It reaches almost to the River Lea having crossed the Regent’s Canal. The name is a reference to an old crossing point through the River Lea. I will save that walk for another time, as last Sunday, just after number 33 Old Ford Road, I turned right into Globe Road.

The name Globe Road is a reference to the pub, the Old Globe on the corner of Mile End Road and Globe Road.  The street has been through several name changes, the northern end through which I am walking was originally named Back Lane.

Globe Road is another long road that reaches down to Mile End Road, but for this post I only walked the length of the road to Roman Road (see the above map).

Most of the development of this stretch of Globe Road is down to the East End Dwellings Company who built large blocks of flats, as well as a rather nice terrace of houses.

The following photo comprises Gretton Houses in the distance and Merceron Houses nearer the camera.

Old Ford Road

The name Gretton is the same as the original name given to the short stretch of Old Ford Road roughly where number 33 now stands. I have not yet found the origin of this name.

The East End Dwellings Company was formed in the early 1880s by the vicar of St. Jude’s, Whitechapel, the Reverend Samuel Augustus Barnett. The intention of the Company was to provide housing for the poor, including those who other philanthropic housing companies often avoided, such as casual day labourers.

Gretton Houses were built in 1901 and designed by Ernest Emmanuel.

Old Ford RoadMerceron Houses were built in the same year, also to a design by Ernest Emmanuel.

Old Ford Road

The name Merceron is from one of the east London families who had control over large parts of Bethnal Green. The excellent book The Boss of Bethnal Green by Julian Woodford details the story of the family and their impact on Bethnal Green.

The buildings of Gretton and Merceron Houses that we see today are only part of the original construction as two blocks of these houses were demolished in 1982.

Directly opposite Merceron Houses is a wonderful terrace of houses, also by the East End Dwellings Company. the central pair of houses has a plaque naming the company as the builders of the terrace and that they were constructed in 1906.

Old Ford Road

The terrace of houses were designed by Henry Davis and built on the site of a row of weavers cottages.

Old Ford Road

Further down Globe Road is another large block of flats by the East End Dwellings Company.

Old Ford Road

This is Mendip Houses:

Old Ford Road

Mendip Houses running along Kirkwall Place from Globe Road:

Old Ford Road

This short stretch of Globe Road is rather unusual for east London as two pubs remain open in the street.

The first is The Camel:

Old Ford Road

The second is the Florist Arms:

Old Ford Road

Both pubs have the same owners so hopefully an indication that their safety is assured for some time.

This short stretch of Globe Road soon arrives at Roman Road. It continues across Roman Road and the next stretch of Globe Road is a story of lost railway stations and demolished pubs which I will save for another day, but on the corner of Globe Road and Roman Road is one of the magnificent, 19th century London fire stations.

This is the Grade II listed Bethnal Green Fire Station:

Old Ford Road

The building ceased operation as a fire station in 1968 and was empty for 10 years until it was taken over by the London Buddhist Centre who retain the building to this day.

Although the building looks really good today, the brickwork glowing in the winter sunshine, it was even more impressive after it was first built in 1888. the following photo from 1906 shows a very impressive tower on the right side of the fire station. I assume this may have been for hanging and drying hoses.

Old Ford Road

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0474_3601

Unfortunately the tower was considerably truncated at some point. The following photo from 1973 shows the closed fire station with the main doors boarded up.

Old Ford Road

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0474_3601

Considering the length of time that the fire station was empty it is remarkable that it has survived. Grade II listing in 1973 must have helped save the building, 5 years after the London Fire Brigade stopped using the building and with still no use planned.

The restored plaque on the side of the fire station in Bessy Street dating the construction of the building:

Old Ford Road

There is an interesting street sign here in Bessy Street:

Old Ford Road

To the left of the street name is the name and symbol of Globe Town:

Old Ford Road

I suspect the street sign dates from around 1986. Globe Town is a much older name, however after the GLC was abolished in 1986, responsibility for the area transferred to Tower Hamlets Council who created seven neighbourhoods, one of which was Globe Town.

The name Globe Town can be traced back to the start of the 19th century. Estate building to the east of Bethnal Green started in the closing years of the 18th century and by the early 19th century, the name Globe Town was being used for this new area.

The following map extract from 1844 shows the location of Globe Town.

Old Ford Road

As there have been a number of changes since this map was created, I have marked the key locations from today’s post. The red dotted line indicates the route I have walked – a very short distance.

I wonder how long the remains of the shop at 33 Old Ford Road will be there? With the speed of redevelopment across London I am really surprised that if indeed it has been closed since at least 2008, it has not already been converted into flats.

After finding the East End Dwellings Company buildings in Globe Road, I am also a good way through a side project to track down all their remaining buildings across London.

Finding one location also always identifies new areas to walk, so the rest of Old Ford Road, Globe Road and indeed Globe Town have been added to an ever increasing list. Returning will enable me to keep track of the old shop at 33 Old Ford Road.

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A Sunday Morning Walk In Nine Elms

In photographing London, I try to get to places before they change, which is not an easy task given the rate of change in London. One area undergoing significant change is Nine Elms, and indeed the whole arc to the south of the river between Battersea Power Station and Vauxhall. This must be one of the largest construction sites in the country, with demolition of acres of industrial space, to make way for a forest of new apartment towers.

The most well known new occupant of this area is the United States Embassy, however the majority of the area is still a construction site and recent demolition has cleared a new area for development.

I am occasionally on the train between Clapham Junction and Waterloo and the train provides a perfect view of Nine Elms. I have been planning to take a walk around the area, but the view a couple of weeks ago prompted me to walk Nine Elms sooner rather than later.

The view from the train was the usual acres of cleared space ready for new construction, along with a range of new apartment towers in various stages of completion, however what caught my eye was at the edge of one of the recent blocks of demolition, a row of what looked to be early 19th century houses were visible. An unexpected sight given that this area was previously occupied by light industry, numerous courier companies, car repair businesses, markets etc.

Last Sunday I had a couple of hours spare in the morning. so I headed to Vauxhall to take a quick walk around Nine Elms, to find the houses I could see from the train. I also found hundreds of people making their way from Vauxhall to Nine Elms wrapped up against the cold of a January morning.

Walking across Vauxhall Bridge, I headed along Wandsworth Road to find the houses I had seen from the train. I have marked my full route around Nine Elms on the following map.

Nine Elms

Maps  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

I have also added the times each photograph was taken to record a January Sunday morning in Nine Elms.

09:43

I found the houses I was looking for a short distance along the Wandswoth Road, just before the junction with Miles Street. A terrace of six houses with three taller on the left and three shorter on the right.

Nine Elms

Of the six houses, a couple look as if they have been cleaned whilst the house on the far right looks rather strange when compared with the other five, one window per storey rather than two. They currently appear to be providing office space for activities associated with the redevelopment of the area.

Although Nine Elms may be considered a rather unattractive area, it has a fascinating history and has been a key location in the development of the railway system to the south of London.

The 1895 Ordnance Survey map provides a good overview of the area following the first wave of development, and also locates the houses that still stand on the Wandsworth Road.

The following extract from the map shows the railway running into Waterloo Station towards the top right of the map. The area between the railway viaduct into Waterloo and the river has a considerable amount of railway infrastructure, including the Nine Elms Depot, however there are also pockets of housing with an oval shaped area between Wandsworth Road and the viaduct and it is here that we can find the six houses.

Nine Elms

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

I have circled the six houses on the map, at the junction of Miles Street and Wandsworth Road. They are almost the only survivors from the nineteenth century, and it is surprising that these houses have lasted through successive waves of redevelopment.

The following map shows roughly the same area today as the 1895 map, again I have marked the location of the six houses.

Nine Elms

There is so much history in this area. In the first decades of the 19th century, various schemes were looked at to try and speed up the transport of goods and people arriving by sea into London, as from the Atlantic, the route along the south coast then along the Thames added a number of days and were dependent on weather and tide. One scheme considered the construction of a canal from Portsmouth to London, but in 1831 initial plans were made for a railway from Southampton to London, with the London terminus at Nine Elms.

Construction of the railway from Nine Elms to Southampton started with the route to Woking Common in 1838. In 1846, a train pulled by an engine named “The Elk” ran from Southampton to Nine Elms in 93 minutes. By comparison, an on-time journey today takes around 80 minutes, so not a significant difference (although there is no mention of the number of intermediate stops for “The Elk”).

Nine Elms closed as a passenger station ten years later when the viaduct into Waterloo was built and the London terminus of the railway moved to the first Waterloo Station. Nine Elms then provided space for a Locomotive Works, which closed in 1909 when the works moved to Eastleigh in Hampshire. Nine Elms also provided space for a large Goods Yard and this continued in operation until 1968.

This photo from 1938 shows the scale of the railway sheds and goods yard at Nine Elms.

Nine Elms

This post is already too long, so I will leave the history of the railways in Nine Elms for another time, and continue walking.

09:44

There was a continuous stream of people walking along Wandsworth Road, and just to the left of the six houses, one of the illegal betting scams normally seen on Westminster Bridge was in action, looking to take money from those streaming past – and probably those less able to manage the inevitable loss.

Nine Elms

This is obviously a problem in the area as there are signs up along the street advising people not to participate in these activities.

I walked past the houses and tuned into Miles Street and walked down to take a look at the rear of the buildings.

09:45

Nine Elms

This explained why one of the end houses looked so different. The view from the back shows that the end house appears to be a new build. The other houses in the terrace look original from the rear.

Hoardings lined the edge of Miles Street, hiding the areas of demolition that had opened up the view of these houses from the railway. There were a couple of gates where it was possible to peer through.

09:46

Nine Elms

The above photo is looking through a gate onto the open space between the six houses (on the immediate left) and the railway viaduct (out of view on the right). Vauxhall is in the distance and only part of the space is visible, there is more to the right. The demolition of the buildings in this area opened up the view of the six houses from the railway.

09:47

Nine Elms

The above view is from the point where Miles Street meets the railway viaduct. The large open space is behind the hoardings on the right and the six houses can be seen in the distance.

09:47

Just before the point where Miles Street passes under the viaduct there is a street running towards Vauxhall. The following photo shows this street and also highlights one of the problems of walking around this area, so many streets have been closed off for construction. This is happening so rapidly that online maps such as Google and OpenStreetmap are not up to date with changes in the area.

Nine Elms

The above view is looking along the viaduct towards Vauxhall and Waterloo. Looking in the opposite direction and there are new buildings and a walkway alongside the viaduct – this was the direction that I decided to follow.

09:47

Nine Elms

A newly surfaced walkway runs alongside the viaduct and what appears to be a new student accommodation building on the right.  Further along this walkway is a rather strange survivor from the 19th century.

09:49

At the end of the student accommodation building is this strange wall.

Nine Elms

On the opposite side of the wall is a small electricity substation, so I am not sure if this is the reason why the wall has survived, I can see no other reason. The wall is not at right angles to the viaduct, it is slightly angled. The following is a detailed extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map. Miles Street is at the top and the route of the walkway is from Miles Street down, along the edge of the viaduct. Halfway along there is a large building, at an angle to the viaduct. I suspect that the wall is the remains of the uppermost wall of this building, the section where it is joined on to the smaller building at the end of the Laundry.

Nine Elms

No idea why the wall has been retained, however I really do hope that it remains exactly as it is, a shadow of the many buildings that once occupied this area over a century ago.

09:49

Goal on the viaduct:

Nine Elms

The end of the walkway joins Wandsworth Road, which I crossed over to walk along Parry Street. This is a narrow street that heads underneath the viaduct.

09:54

A look back down Parry Street at the continuous stream of people:

Nine Elms

There are a couple of tunnels underneath the viaduct. The majority of people were taking the direct road route, I spotted a narrow entrance and went to take a look at what was intended to be the pedestrian route under the viaduct.

09:55

Nine Elms

I love railway viaducts. They are brilliant examples of Victorian construction, and whilst train passengers pass above, there is a different world of passages and arches underneath.

09:56

Reaching the other side of the viaduct and there are a number of businesses operating in the arches. Espirit Decor:

Nine Elms

09:56

And Sophie Hanna Flowers (a logical location given the flower market which I will soon find).

Nine Elms

09:57

Directly opposite is the Nine Elms construction site for the Northern Line extension from Kennington to Battersea,Nine Elms

09:57

The viaduct now takes on a different appearance with infrastructure to service the tracks above and parking / workshop space for the considerable number of vans that wait here ready for their early weekday morning activity.

Nine Elms

10:00

I had to wait for a gap in the stream of people walking along the road to take the following photo.

Nine Elms

The photo does not really convey the view. I am standing surrounded by vans, a stream of people, wrapped up against the January cold and carrying bags, pulling shopping trolleys and wheeled suitcases walk below the railway tracks. Around them tall apartment blocks grow, each with a design that appears completely uncoordinated with any other, as if each had been designed in isolation and dropped from above onto Nine Elms.

This being a Sunday, the railway is relatively quiet. In the week a stream of trains would be taking commuters from the suburbs of London, the villages of Surrey, Hampshire and beyond into the city.

On the other site of the railway, huge signs advertise luxury apartments and penthouses.

10:01

Turning round and there is a large car park full of vans – this is New Covent Garden Fruit and Veg Market.

Nine Elms

Just past the first market buildings was the reason for so many people walking along these streets on a Sunday morning as a large Sunday Market and Car Boot Sale operates here from eight in the morning to two in the afternoon.

10:03

Nine Elms

This is not a market for arts and crafts, this is market for the basics in life. I did not have time to explore the market apart from a quick walk along a couple of aisles where there are clothes, bags and cases of every description, tools, mobile phones and tablets.

It would have been good to take photos in the market, but the last thing the people who have come shopping here on a cold Sunday in January want is some bloke taking photos.

The market appears to be known as a source for second hand tools. On my walk back to Vauxhall, a man with an east European accent asked where the tool market was. He had just arrived in the country looking for work and needed to find some cheap tools to get started. How many times has that happened in London over the centuries.

The market is very busy, the photo below shows the number of people walking to and from the market.

10:07

Nine Elms

Continuing on, I walked through the man entrance to New Covent Garden Market.

10:10

Nine Elms

Covent Garden Market had outgrown its original location by the early 1960s. Lack of space for expansion and congestion on the surrounding roads required a new location to be found. The Nine Elms site was identified in 1961 and construction of New Covent Garden started in 1971. The Fruit & Veg and Flower Markets moved from Covent Garden to Nine Elms in November 1974 to sites to the south and north of the railway viaduct.

The southern market has been demolished and relocated (which I will find soon), but the main fruit and veg market continues in the original 1974 location and many of the buildings have recently been rebuilt and refurbished, with further construction ongoing.

The market has a dedicated road tunnel under the railway viaduct allowing access to and from Battersea Park Road, so this is the route I took. Passing under the railway and the cranes surrounding Battersea Power Station come into view, further emphasising the sheer scale of the construction projects between Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea.

10:15

Nine Elms

It is along this road, just under the railway viaduct, that the new Flower Market has been located.

10:17

The entrance to the Flower Market:

Nine Elms

The Flower Market was opened in April 2017 having moved from a location further down towards Vauxhall. That original site has now been demolished and cleared ready for new construction.

10:20

The new – New Covent Garden Flower Market in Battersea Park Road:

Nine Elms

Completing a circular route, my plan was now to walk back along Battersea Park Road and Nine Elms Lane to where I started in Vauxhall. It is along here that some of the original apartment blocks from this recent phase of development can be found.

10:32

When redevelopment started, it was on the bank of the river, and over the last few years has continued back inland. Between Nine Elms Lane and the River Thames are five blocks of identical design/

Nine Elms

On the opposite side of Nine Elms Lane, large areas of land have been cleared. The roads are ready and utility services laid underneath the roads ready to service the buildings that will spring up on either side.

10:36

Nine Elms

10:38

Opposite is Cringle Street which leads to the large construction site surrounding Battersea Power Station:

Nine Elms

Further along Nine Elms Lane there are a number of completed buildings.

10:40

A very quiet January Sunday morning:

Nine Elms

Walking further along Nine Elms Lane and I found probably the most publicised building in the Nine Elms redevelopment.

10:48

This is the new United States Embassy:

Nine Elms

It is January, it is a grey day, it is a Sunday morning so there are not many people around, the building is surrounded by construction sites, however comparing the new location to the original location in Grosvenor Square – it is very different.

I am sure it will be a much improved environment when the rest of the redevelopment of Nine Elms is complete. The hoardings around the site between road and Embassy are for the residential blocks that will be built here – the Embassy Gardens development. Based on the photos of potential residents on the hoardings around the building site, I doubt I fall within their age demographic.

10:50

Further down Nine Elms Lane:

Nine Elms

10:55

Continuing along Nine Elms Lane and there is another large space cleared and ready for new construction. This was where the original flower market was located.

Nine Elms

And if I have calculated the location correctly, it was also somewhere here that the original London terminus of the Southern Railway was located.

This was the street entrance of the terminal building in 1942. The building suffered bomb damage during the war and was demolished in the 1960s ready for the construction of the New Covent Garden Flower Market in 1974.

Nine Elms

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0629_F898

10:56

Mural by Wyvil Primary School – the mural informs that London is home to 914,000 children between the ages of four and eleven.

Nine Elms

I now reached the junction of Nine Elms Lane and Wandsworth Road.

10:57

From here I could look down Wandsworth Road again to see the houses that were the reason for spending Sunday morning in Nine Elms.

Nine Elms

It is a wonder that they have survived so long, given the closure of the railway station, workshops and good yards which were the catalyst for development of the area. The houses are probably of the same age as the original Nine Elms station.

The houses and the strange length of wall in the walkway alongside the viaduct are the only survivors from the 1895 map that I found, apart from the railway viaduct.

No idea what will happen to the houses. I hope they survive the latest phase of development and having seen the railway come and go, the Flower Market almost opposite built and demolished, they will now be surrounded by the towers that are springing up all around them.

11:10

At the junction of Nine Elms Lane, Wandsworth Road and Parry Street, the bright lights of Barbados shine on those still streaming from Vauxhall Station to the Sunday Market.

Nine Elms

And as one final comparison photo, the old Brunswick Club building with the residential blocks behind in the above photo and the Nine Elms Cold Store in the photo below.

Nine Elms

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_258_71_7183

Nine Elms is probably not high up on the list of walks in London, however I found it fascinating. The sheer scale of the redevelopment work, with the extension down to Battersea Power Station, is remarkable. Not just above the surface, but also below ground with the Northern Line extension. The Sunday Market also serves those who need somewhere to buy cheap goods and for those seeking to start a life in London.

Nine Elms has been through two development phases. Originally as the first Southern Railway terminus in London, then with the associated locomotive works and goods yard, then as the site for Covent Garden’s relocated fruit, veg and flower markets with other light industrial business. Now a third phase as Nine Elms transitions to a mainly residential area, however it is good to see that the market will stay here.

There is still much to explore in Nine Elms, and when I return I will check to see if the six houses have survived along with the strange wall alongside the viaduct.

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Marylebone Lane And Welbeck Street Car Park

London is so built up that it is hard to imagine that anything from the original rural environment remains. Major streets tend to follow much earlier alignments, and there is one street north of Oxford Street that still follows the same route from the time when the street ran through fields. This is Marylebone Lane.

In the following map extract, Oxford Street is the orange street running from the bottom left corner, across the map to the right. Just to the right of the middle of the stretch of Oxford Street shown below, there is a pair of streets, forming a triangle and branching northwards. This pair of streets then combine and continue northwards. The angled and curving shape of the street stands out from the grid pattern of the surrounding area.

Marylebone Lane

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

Back in 1746, when John Rocque was mapping London, this area was on the edge of the built city. In the map extract below, the top of the triangular section can just been seen at the bottom of the map. Marylebone Lane then runs northwards with the same outline as can be seen today. The first evidence of the grid layout of streets that will soon cover the whole area can be seen in the lower right corner. Fields cover much of the rest of the map with the formal Marybone Gardens at the top of the map.

Marylebone Lane

On an autumn afternoon, I went for a walk along Marylebone Lane, trying to imagine the fields, ponds and streams that once lined the lane, as well as discovering how Marylebone Lane acted as a boundary between the estates and developments that were springing up on either side of this old lane in the 18th century.

I also wanted to take some photos of Welbeck Street Car Park before what now looks like a certain demolition and replacement with a hotel building that will look similar to so many other hotels across London.

I turned off a very busy Oxford Street into the relative quiet of Marylebone Lane, passing the bulk of the Debenhams store, to the junction with Henrietta Place where I turned round to see the two branches of Marylebone Lane, with the triangular plat of land in the middle.

Marylebone Lane

This plot of land and the split of Marylebone Lane can be seen in detail in the following extract from Rocque’s map.

Marylebone Lane

Today, the road at the bottom is Oxford Street. In 1746, according to Rocque, the junction with Marylebone Lane appears to mark the junction where the name Oxford Street ends, and the name Tyburn Road takes over and continues up to Tyburn, roughly where Marble Arch is today. This change of names as streets cross Marylebone Lane will be a recurring theme.

Before the expansion of London built over these fields, Marylebone Lane ran from Tyburn Road, through the village of Marylebone to what were the northern parts of the parish, and ended within the current location of Regent’s Park.

In 1746 Marylebone Lane still ran the full length of this route, however building in the later half of the 18th century, including construction of Marylebone High Street, truncated Marylebone Lane to the southern portion of the route, so the section we can walk today is only part of the original full route.

The triangular plot of land, with the frontage onto Tyburn Road / Oxford Street has long been a significant location. Originally home to the parish church of Tyburn, then the first church of St. Marylebone, then being the location for a number of administrative functions for the parish, including a court and watch house. The book “London” by George H. Cunningham (1927) simply refers to this plot of land “Supposed to be the site of the ancient church of Tyburn, from a mass of skeletons that were dug up here in 1724”.

The watch house was photographed in 1920 and shows the same triangular layout with the two branches of Marylebone Lane leading down to Oxford Street.

Marylebone Lane

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_316_79_7322

The first junction we come to is that with Henrietta Place, or Henrietta Street as it was in 1746. The map at the top shows that a short distance along Henreitta Place, there is a junction with Wellbeck Street, today the street name only has a single L.

It is between Marylebone Lane and Welbeck Street that we can find the Welbeck Street Car Park.

Marylebone Lane

Proposals for post war planning of the city all generally accepted that there would be rapid growth in the numbers of cars that the city would have to accommodate. This led to some schemes that did get built, such as the Upper and Lower Thames Street through route, as well as many schemes that fortunately did not get built. I will write about some of these schemes in a future post. Actively accommodating the car continued through the closing decades of the 20th century and one result was the rather wonderful Welbeck Street Car Park.

The car park, designed by Michael Blampied and Partners for the adjacent Debenhams store was built between 1968 and 1970. It was a condition of approval for the Debenhams store that the car park was built as Westminister Council’s planning regulations required developments such as the store to have appropriate parking facilities.

Internally, it is a functional, multi-storey car park, but externally it has a remarkable design with prefabricated concrete diamonds covering all floors above the ground floor.

The car park is under threat of demolition after having been purchased by a developer with the intention of building a hotel on the site. Attempts have been made to get the building listed, or alternate uses which retain the exterior fabric of the building, but these appear to have been rejected and demolition awaits.

Marylebone Lane

The building is stunning from a distance, but get up close and the repetition of the triangular concrete shapes creates some fascinating patterns. I wonder if it is just coincidence that the triangular shape mirrors the shape for the land opposite the car park, where Marylebone Lane reaches Oxford Street?

Marylebone Lane

The car park from the junction of Henrietta Place and Welbeck Street.

Marylebone Lane

Leaving the Welbeck Street car park, and continuing along Marylebone Lane, we come to the junction with Wigmore Street.

In 1746 this street was named Wigmore Row and came to an abrupt halt at the junction with Marylebone Lane as the land to the west was still field, and had yet to be developed.

The following photo is in Marylebone Lane, looking across Wigmore Street. On the left can be seen the curving, continuation of Marylebone Lane. The slightly offset continuation of the street is the same as shown in the 1746 map.

Marylebone Lane

In 1746, the area directly opposite was field and just behind where the buildings now stand there appear to have been a couple of large ponds.

This is looking along Wigmore Street towards the west and shows the straight street approach of the grid layout in the area which helps Marylebone Lane stand out as being different, and older than the rest of the area.

Marylebone Lane

Although the 18th century onward developments follow a grid pattern, there are still many, small side street, alleys and mews. These provide access to the central core of the buildings within the square of the grid. The pub directly opposite Marylebone Lane is the Cock and Lion and the entrance to Easleys Mews takes up part of the ground floor space of the pub.

Marylebone Lane

In the 18th century, the area was very different. The following print from 1759 is titled “View of Marylebone from Wigmore Row”

Marylebone Lane

One of the City Conduits that stood near Marylebone Lane is shown in the print. In the large field north of Wigmore Row in the 1746 map there is a small black dot labelled conduit.

Crossing over Wigmore Street, we continue along Marylebone Lane and the curved nature of the street is apparent.Marylebone Lane

Marylebone Lane retains a number of one off shops, including the hardware store Penton’s which claims to be the oldest store on Marylebone Lane having been established in 1841.

Marylebone Lane

At number 35 is Paul Rothe & Son. If you look to the left of the shop there are several pages of information which tell the fascinating story of the shop.

Marylebone Lane

Paul Rothe was a German who worked his way to London in 1899 and opened a delicatessen on Marylebone Lane in 1900. The store has been in the same family ever since.

We now come to the junction with Bentinck Street, another of the wide streets that cut east – west across the old lane. The slightly curving Marylebone Lane can be seen directly across the street.

Marylebone Lane

On the corner of Bentinck Street and Marylebone Lane is the Coach Makers Arms.

Marylebone Lane

The current building dates from the early 1900s, however there has been a pub on the site since the 18th century. The pub has been through a couple of name changes (the O’Conor Don and the Conduit of Tybourne) but has returned to the original name for the pub.

Looking east along Bentinck Street, again showing the straight streets that make up the grid layout of this area of Marylebone.

Marylebone Lane

Bentick Street ends at the junction with Marylebone Lane and continues on as Hinde Street. These name changes in otherwise straight streets shows how Marylebone Lane acted as a boundary as estates developed in the area with separate estates to the east and west of the lane.

As we cross over Bentinck Street / Hinde Street, the Hinde Street Methodist Church can be seen to the left.

Marylebone Lane

The first Methodist Chapel was built on the site in 1810 and the current building dates from 1887.

Continuing along Marylebone Lane, the next junction is with Bulstrode Street and on the corner is another 19th century pub, the Golden Eagle, described on the corner sign as an “Imbibing Emporium”.

Marylebone Lane

Unlike the Coach Makers Arms, the Golden Eagle retains the feel of a local London pub. Lacking the expensive refurbishment and decor, the pub is the perfect stop for a “local” drink and has a wonderful atmosphere.

Marylebone Lane

The pub provides more evidence of how Marylebone Lane acted as a boundary as the area developed. Just below the Bulstrode Street sign, there is a painted sign on the brickwork stating that the name was “Late William Street”.

Marylebone Lane

Although today, Bulstrode Street is the name of the full length of the street that cuts across Marylebone Lane, originally, Bulstrode Street was the name of the street up to the Marylebone Lane junction. From then on, the street continued as William Street.

It is fascinating to see how this ancient lane provided a boundary as the estates developed from the mid 18th century onward and these boundaries can still be seen, reflected in the street names we see today.

Opposite the Golden Eagle is the haberdashery shop of V V Rouleaux. brilliantly decorated to reflect the colour of the goods for sale inside the shop.

Marylebone Lane

Crossing over Bulstrode Street takes us into the final section of what remains of Marylebone Lane. There is a new building on the north eastern corner of the junction which has an interesting stained glass art work that records another feature of the area.

Marylebone Lane

A plaque alongside the window provides these details:

“Light in the Darkness 2000 by Julian Stocks. This stained glass window celebrates the River Tyburn that flows beneath Marylebone Lane….it takes the form of a lantern which, when illuminated will act as a beacon. During the 18th century the River Tyburn was an open stream that ran from the hills of Hampstead Hearth down to the River Thames. Marylebone Lane follows the banks of the river, the course of which has since been culverted, but still maintains a presence most noticeable in it’s serpentine form.”

The Tyburn is possibly one of the reasons for the route of Marylebone Lane, if the lane did follow the bank of the river. Nicholas Barton in his book “The Lost Rivers of London” (1960), provides the following background:

“Marylebone Lane was originally on the left bank of the stream, and its winding line indicates the course of this part of the steam”. The book includes a photo from 1957 showing a muddy stream at the bottom of some sewer excavations in Marylebone Lane. Whilst it would be hard to prove that this was the Tyburn, it does show that there is running water beneath the ground.

Continuing on from the junction with Bulstrode Street, we now reach the point in Rocque’s 1746 map where Marylebone Lane makes a sharp left turn at the junction with another street that runs in from the east. The same turn to the left can be seen today.

Marylebone Lane

A road still joins from the east, although today this street (Bulstrode Place) is a short street terminated by buildings with no exit.

This is the view looking west at the turning point with the last short run of Marylebone Lane before it meets with Thayer Street, the street marked on the Rocque map as St. Mary Le Bone which ended here rather than continuing on down to Hinde Street, as Thayer Street does today.

Marylebone Lane

At this corner, Cross Keys Close, one of the many little mews and dead end streets that lead  from Marylebone Lane, can be found. Cross Keys Close was developed in the 1760s. These little side streets provide access to the centre of the blocks built within the grid pattern of streets.

The view from within Cross Keys Close, looking down Marylebone Lane.

Marylebone Lane

And at the end of Marylebone Lane is Thayer Street. This is the view looking back into Marylebone Lane. On the right is the pub, Angel in the Fields.

Marylebone Lane

This pub can be found on the 1746 map. Where Marylebone Lane turns left and meets the road marked as St. Mary Le Bone, at the junction there are a number of buildings. The lower right building within a small patch of land with trees edging the boundary, is the Angel pub. The pub was first recorded in 1720, and was rebuilt in 1770 as the area was being developed.

The “in the Fields” addition is from the refurbishment of the pub in 2001.

This is the view north from the junction with Thayer Street where it becomes Marylebone High Street. Another example of the straight streets that contrast with the narrow, winding nature of Marylebone Lane.

Marylebone Lane

John Rocque’s map provides a glimpse of this part of London, when fields, streams and ponds still cover the land. The future for the area can be seen in the lower right of Rocque’s map as the grid of streets and buildings continues London’s northward expansion.

Walking Marylebone Lane is to walk a street that existed long before the buildings that now dominate the view. The street also acted as a boundary between the estates and developments on either side. evidence of which can still be seen in the way that the names change of the long, wide streets as they cross this narrow lane.

Having walked the lane, rather than return to the crowds of Oxford Street, the best option was to continue an almost 300 year tradition, and stop for a drink in the Angel.

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A Return To Bermondsey Wall – Bevington Street, George Row And Bridge House

A couple of months ago, I featured a photo that my father had taken in Bermondsey. He had written the following notes to explain when and where the photo was taken “Flockton Street looking south from Bermondsey Wall. 19th century slum dwellings ravaged by the blitz – Summer 1948”. When I visited what remains of Flockton Street I was doubtful that this was the right location. Many features of the existing streets and in the photo did not line up.

I am really gratefull to a number of readers who identified the correct location as being Bevington Street in Bermondsey, and that a couple of the features in the original 1948 photo can still be seen to confirm. A quick look at Google Streetview clearly showed the location, however I was not content just to use Streetview as the purpose of this project is to revisit and photograph from the same viewpoints as in my father’s photos, so a couple of weeks ago I took another walk to Bermondsey to photograph Bevington Street – a location I have walked past a number of times, but for reasons I will explain later in the post, I was looking in the other direction.

My revisit also enabled the location of another photo to be confirmed, and I also found the location of a building photographed for the Wonderful London series of books published in 1926.

This is the view of Bevington Street from Bermondsey Wall photographed by my father in 1948:

Bermondsey Wall

And this is the same view today:

Bermondsey Wall

There are only two features that remain the same, but serve to confirm the location. The school on the left and the small brick building on the right which now appears to house an electrical substation – remarkable that in all the redevelopment of the area this small building has survived.

So where is Bevington Street? The following extract from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London shows the location. Bevington Street can be seen just to the right of the large Y. The school is further to the right, just across Farncombe Street.

Bermondsey Wall

Flockton Street, the wrongly identified location can be seen to the left, leading off from Bermondsey Wall, so these streets are very close. I suspect my father wrote up his notes for the photos after developing the negatives and looking at his route on the map, accidentally picked the wrong street.

I have used this 1940 map as it helps to explain a feature that can be seen today.

Bevington Street ends at Bermondsey Wall, and directly across from Bevington Street, between Bermondsey Wall and the River Thames is Fountain Green Square. The following photo is the view from the end of Bevington Street, looking across Bermondsey Wall to Fountain Green Square.

Bermondsey Wall

The name is very appropriate as there is a central green with a stone fountain in the centre. New housing is arranged around two sides of the green and the River Thames is alongside the far side of the green.

Looking back at the 1940 map and there is a feature here called Fountain Dock. The 1895 Ordnance Survey Map provides some additional detail and shows the shape and location of Fountain Dock.

Bermondsey Wall

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

The Southwark Council Conservation Area Appraisal (February 2013) confirms that the site of Fountain Green Square was the site of Fountain Dock, and that the dock was one of the few dry docks that operated along this part of the river.

Checking the overlay feature on the National Library of Scotland site, the dry docks appears over the easterly part of the green and partly under the houses on the eastern edge of the green, rather than occupying the full space of the green.

I checked the London Metropolitan Archives, Collage site and there are two photos from 1929 that show the dry dock. The first is looking from the north west corner of the dock, back towards where Bermondsey Wall runs right to left.

Bermondsey Wall

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0912_A52734

The second photo, also from 1929, is looking from the south east corner of the dock, towards the river and the direction of the City.

Bermondsey Wall

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0912_A5273

These photos from 1929 show Fountain Dock much as it must have been in the 19th century. Dry docks are important as they allow the hull of a ship to be inspected and worked on. The ship was moved into the dock, gates to the river closed and water pumped out from the dock, so somewhere alongside there must have been a building that housed the pump.

In an advert for the dry dock in Lloyd’s List on the 13th May 1893, the dimensions are given as a length of 161 feet and depth of 16 feet. The dock was owned by Mills & Knight who also owned the larger Nelson Dry Dock in Rotherhithe.

In addition to numerous adverts for the dry dock, 19th century newspapers included reports of accidents at the dock, as well as ships for sale. It appears to have been standard practice to offer a ship for sale when the ship is in dry dock for repair. The earliest example I could find was from the Shipping & Mercantile Gazette on the 27th August 1850, when the following ship was in Fountain Dry Dock and advertised for sale:

“The A1 Liverpool-built Barque BRAZILIAN, 345 tons, now lying in the Fountain Dry Dock, and ready for inspection; is in the course of re-coppering, &c., and, if not sold within a reasonable time, will be sent out again by her present owner. Length, 107 feet; breadth, 23 1-10 feet; depth 13 3-10 feet; carries a large cargo at an extraordinary light draught of water, and shifts without ballast”.

The following photo is the view taken from roughly the same viewpoint as the above photo. Today there is a fountain in the centre of the green.

Bermondsey Wall

The 1895 Ordnance Survey Map does not show a fountain, so I do not know if the fountain was moved here when the green was created to provide some relevance to the name. I doubt the fountain was here originally as it looks of rather fine construction to have been in such an industrial area – however I also do not know how Fountain Dock was named.

The origin of the name Bevington Street is interesting. When looking for this street on the 1895 OS map, whilst the street is there, in 1895 is was named Princes Road. It had changed to the current name sometime between 1895 and the 1940 map.

Although I have not been able to find any written confirmation of this, I suspect the name change may have been in the first decade of the 20th century. Bevington probably refers to Colonel Samuel Bourne Bevington. 

When Bermondsey Borough Council was formed in 1900, Samuel Bevington was the first mayor and he was reelected the following year. He came from the family that had established  Bevington and Sons, a company that manufactured leather products at Neckinger Mills in Abbey Street, Bermondsey. He was also a Colonel of the West Surrey Regiment, Justice of the Peace, on school boards and coming from a Quaker background, used family money to support a number of philanthropic activities.

Samuel Bourne Bevington died on the 14th April 1907 leaving a considerable estate to the value of £133,195. His will included money to provide income for four men and four women over the age of 60 who had been engaged in the leather trade.

Because of his role in the leather trade in Bermondsey, that he was the first mayor of Bermondsey Borough Council, and his other activities, I suspect that after his death, the council looked at ways to commemorate him, and one of the ways within their power was to rename one of the local streets, so Princes Road became Bevington Street.

There is much else of interest to be seen from the junction of Bevington Street and Bermondsey Wall.

A very short distance to the east along Bermondsey Wall is a rather unique, listed pub – the Old Justice.

Bermondsey Wall

The pub, as with so many London pubs, has closed, however the building is Grade II listed.

The reason for the listing is that the pub is a rather well preserved example of a style of pub design from the inter-war period. The majority of Victorian London pubs were small and focused on drinking. The design initiatives after the First World War, focused on improving the pub environment, the provision of space for other activities apart from basic drinking, for example with the provision of restaurant space and a function room.

The Old Justice was designed by Sidney C Clark in 1933 for the Hoare & Co brewery. It followed a mock Tudor design that was frequently used on many pubs of the period.

Hoare & Co were taken over by Charringtons and the pub has a pair of Charrington lanterns on the frount, these probably date from the 1960s.

Bermondsey Wall

Alongside one of the lanterns is a plaque recording that Sir Paul McCartney used interiors and exteriors of the Old Justice as locations in his film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” and in the music video to “No More Lonely Nights”.

As well as the pub, the film also has some fascinating shots of the front of the warehouses along the Thames in Bermondsey.

I looked in through the windows of the Old Justice and the interior looks to have been reasonably well gutted, although the wooden paneling remains on the walls and the fireplace is still intact.

The Old Justice is just to the east of the junction of Bevington Street and Bermondsey Wall. To the west is another building that is earlier than the majority of buildings in the area. This is Fountain House:

Bermondsey Wall

I am not sure when Fountain House was constructed, or whether the name is original. however it did feature in another of my father’s photos of Bermondsey. I have now been able to identify the following photo as having been taken in Loftie Street, which runs parallel to part of Bevington Street.

Bermondsey Wall

The rear of Fountain House is on the left of the photo, but what confirmed the location was the rear of the electrical substation building that was one of the surviving features in the photo of Bevington Street. The rear of this building can be seen in the above photo, to the right of Fountain House.

The houses are the rear of the houses that front onto Bevington Street. Washing is hanging to dry at the rear of one house, and I am fascinated by the height of the chimneys on these houses.

What must be the remains of a bomb site is to the front of the photo.

I tried to take a photo from a similar position today, but it was not easy with the buildings and fences that now occupy the area, however in the following photo, the rear of Fountain House can be seen, and just to the right, a small part of the top of the rear wall of the electrical substation building is just visible.

Bermondsey Wall

There was one additional place I wanted to track down. When I was looking for Flockton Street, I walked along George Row, which runs parallel to the original route of Flockton Street. The name George Row was familiar and I recently remembered where I had seen the name.

In 1926 a three volume set of photos and articles titled “Wonderful London” was published and the first main photo in volume 3 was titled “The Bridge House In George Row, Bermondsey”.

Bermondsey Wall

The caption with the above photo read:

“Bermondsey has had its royal palace dating perhaps from Edward the Confessor, and it was only in 1805 that the North Gate of its Abbey was taken down. The building in the photograph is called the Bridge House, since it stands where a bridge was built over one of the creeks that entered the river and made, with what is called St. Saviour’s Dock, Jacob’s Island. This was a densely populated quarter a hundred years ago, and its many canals and ditches had a Dutch air, according to the chroniclers”.

George Row today is a wide street that runs from Jamaica Road down to Bermondsey Wall. There are no buildings that look like the above photo and I was doubtful that I could find the location, however I turned to the 1895 Ordnance Survey map, and at the northern end of George Row, close to the junction with Bermondsey Wall, there is a building clearly labelled Bridge House. The map also shows the steps leading down from the building with what appear to be steps leading down from the building on the eastern side and sidesteps on the western side. This would confirm that the photo from Wonderful London was taken of the eastern face of the building.

Bermondsey Wall

Credit: ‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 

It was easy now to find the location of Bridge House, the map overlay feature helped confirm exactly where to look. Bridge House was not directly on George Row. In the above map there is a space, which appears to be open space between the building and street, and this configuration remains today.

The following photo shows the location of Bridge House today, with a 4 storey block of flats – Providence Square – now standing in what appears to be almost the same footprint of Bridge House.

Bermondsey Wall

It would be interesting to know why the new building did not extend to George Row. Developers tend to maximise the amount they can build and make use of every available bit of space and the area between the building and George Row serves no apparent purpose.

I walked up to the edge of the building to take a photo from roughly the same position as the photo from Wonderful London.

Bermondsey Wall

The caption to the photograph in Wonderful London explains the source of the original name for the building: “The building in the photograph is called the Bridge House, since it stands where a bridge was built over one of the creeks that entered the river and made, with what is called St. Saviour’s Dock, Jacob’s Island”.

There are no signs of the creek today, however maps provide some indications.

In the 1895 Ordnance Survey map the word Neckinger can be seen running alongside George Row. This refers to the River Neckinger. I have read many different accounts of where the Neckinger entered the River Thames, most claim that St. Saviour’s Dock was the main estuary of the Neckinger into the Thames, however this was always low lying marsh land, and there have been many canals and ditches built in this area (I mentioned the 19th century walled drain in my post on Flockton Street, and the outline of this drain can still be seen running across the street).

The book “Bermondsey, Its Historic Memories And Associations” written by E.T. Clarke and published in 1902 provides a location for the creek and bridge. The book includes the following map of the area.

Bermondsey Wall

The so called Jacob’s Island is in the centre of the map, bounded by the Thames at the bottom of the map, St. Saviours Dock to the right, a canal running alongside London Street to the top, and on the left, a canal running along the full length of George Row.

Based on the locations of streets that can still be found today, I have circled in red the bridge that gave Bridge House its name.

This is pure speculation, but it may be that Bridge House is the rectangular building on the above map to the lower right of the red circle.

I do not know when this canal or extension of the Neckinger was filled in – it had disappeared by the time of the 1895 map, but it is interesting that the open space between George Row and the building that now occupies the location of Bridge House would have been where the canal ran.

Finding the location of Bridge House helps to understand how this area has developed over the centuries. Fountain Green Square provides a link to the dry dock that once occupied the site, and Bevington Street records the first mayor of Bermondsey and the leather industry of area.

Finding Bevington Street means I can tick off another of my father’s photos from 70 years ago. My thanks again to everyone who identified the correct location of the photo.

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