In the nine years I have been writing the blog, I have not really touched south London. There have been visits to Greenwich, Rotherhithe and Bermondsey and lots of posts along the south bank of the river, but nothing further inland. This is a massive omission that hopefully I can start to correct this year, starting with a visit to Peckham, where in 1986, my father photographed Macs Pie and Mash shop:
Macs Pie and Mash was in Blenheim Grove, which leads west from Rye Lane, right next to Peckham Rye train station.
I cannot find the date when Macs Pie and Mash shop closed, however the building is still there, with the distinctive decoration of horizontal bars on the corner. The building is also undergoing some serious refurbishment.
Before the current works on the building, the location of Macs was occupied by a hair and beauty saloon, so the closure of Macs is not recent.
As well as the closing date of Macs Pie and Mash, I cannot find out when it opened, or anything else about the business, or whether Mac was the name of the owner.
The business occupied 8 – 10 Blenheim Grove. There was a barbers in number 10 in 1959 as the South London Observer carried a report of a break-in, with £60 pounds of razors and equipment being stolen – but that seems to be the only time that the building appeared in the local newspapers
Looking at the building from across Rye Lane, and a rather large, glass paneled extension has been built on the roof.
The planning application stated that the work will consist of “refurbishment and erection of a two storey extension to the building at 2-10 Blenheim Grove / 82 Rye Lane, to provide A1 (retail), A2 (financial and professional), A3 (restaurant / cafe), A5 (hot food takeaway), B1a (offices) and D1 (non-residential institution)”, so almost everything apart from residential, which makes sense as facing onto Rye Lane, if residential, the properties would be looking onto a 24 hour environment, with plenty of noise.
The railway and Peckham Rye station is behind the two buildings in the above photo, and between the two, there is an alley that leads to the station. After the two buildings in Blenheim Grove, we can get a view of the station, up on the top of a brick viaduct:
With many of the arches hosting the type of business that can found in railway arches across London:
The art deco building where Macs Pie and Mash shop was located, was built between 1935 and 1936, when a whole series of buildings around the station were constructed by Southern Railway.
Peckham Rye station was built in 1865, originally for trains of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, with trains of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway using the station from the following year.
The original station buildings were impressive. They were design by Charles Henry Driver, and were set back from Rye Lane allowing a large open space between the station entrance and Rye Lane, with the opportunity to view the whole facade of the station building, with three main floors and a large upper roof.
The station sat between two brick viaducts which carried the rail tracks and platforms either side of the station.
As well as the building in Blenheim Grove, between 1935 and 1936 Southern Railways also built on the open space between the station and Rye Lane, with a shop lined arcade providing access from Rye Lane to station. This work also included a building on the northern side of the station and rail tracks, so by the end of 1936, the old station was completely surrounded and could not really be seen from the local streets.
The station facade is therefore really difficult to photograph as there is only a small space in front of the building, with alleys running to left and right, and straight ahead through the acarde to Rye Lane.
To add to the complications of taking a photo of the station during my visit was that it was completely surrounded by scaffolding and plastic sheeting:
I found a photo of the station entrance taken before the scaffolding and sheeting appeared:
It really is a lovely building and a shame to be hidden away and invisible from Rye Lane, but hopefully that will change.
The following photo is looking from the very small station forecourt through to Rye Lane:
There seems to be a plan to demolish the buildings and arcade in front of the station and open up the space to Rye Lane, with the space being available for market stalls and other temporary events. There does not seem to be any evidence of work underway at the moment, however within the arcade leading to Rye Lane, there is a TSB Bank on one side (still open), and the shops / cafes on the other side appear to have been closed for some time:
There is a fruit and vegetable stall open at the end of the arcade:
The following photo shows the 1930s building at the end of the arcade. A similar style to the building in Blenheim Grove. According to the plan to open up Peckham Rye station, these buildings will be demolished leaving a large open space between Rye Lane and the station.
Two of the shops to the left of the arcade entrance:
The buildings between station and Rye Lane are in a very poor condition. They could be refurbished to the standard of the building in Blenheim Grove, but opening up the space to show the station as it was originally meant to be seen would be a far better alternative.
The following map shows the locations of Macs Pie and Mash shop, the station, and the buildings in front of the station shown in the above photos that are planned for demolition.
There is an image of what the open space and view to the station will look like when the project is complete on the Network Rail website here.
Back to Macs Pie and Mash shop. Perhaps better known as an east London establishment, in reality pie and mash shops were once common across much of London.
As can be seen in the windows of Macs Pie and Mash shop, as well as pie and mash, eels were also available.
Eels were once a common and cheap food source for Londoners. Readily available from the Thames and along the estuary, they were sold to be eaten on their own, or within a pie, although pies usually had some form of cheap meat filling and now mainly come with a minced beef filling. The “liquor” that comes with pie and mash is a form of parsley sauce with shops having their own version.
Pie and Mash shops were popular across the streets of London from the mid to late 19th century onwards.
There is still a pie and mash shop not far from the old location of Macs Pie and Mash shop. To find the shop, I walked north along Rye Lane to the junction with Peckham High Street and across the junction with Peckham Hill Street is the Eel and Pie House of M. Manze:
The M.Manze shop is named after Michele Manze, the Italian founder of what grew to be a chain of five shops bearing the M. Manze name (his brothers also opened shops with the Manze surname).
Today, only three M. Manze shops survive, the one at Peckham High Street and a shop on Tower bridge Road, along with a shop in Sutton, which opened in 1998.
The shop in Peckham was almost lost when it was burnt down in 1985 during the Peckham riots. After a long legal battle, the shop finally reopened in 1990, and is still serving pie and mash to the residents of Peckham.
On the strip of negatives that include Macs Pie and Mash shop, there was also the following photo before another Peckham photo, so I know it was taken somewhere in Peckham.
I had a walk around, trying to find the location, but without any luck.
The sign for Lou’s Cafe looks of a similar style to Macs shop, so I did hope they were close together. The car has a sticker for a radio station on 261 metres, which I think was where LBC was broadcasting at the time.
Peckham has a really distinctive character which I plan to explore more over the coming months, along with a number of other south London locations. The redevelopment around Peckham Rye station looks good, but there is always a concern that development results in a gradual loss of the people, shops and buildings that give a place its unique character.
And on the subject of redevelopment (and a completely different location) – approvals of the MSG Sphere in Stratford seem to be getting closer. The Sphere (see here for details of the Sphere) is planned to be covered in LED light panels, and the London Legacy Development Corporation have already granted permission for adverts to be shown across the building using the lighting system.
Although large, bright advertising has long been a feature of a number of London locations such as Piccadilly Circus, there seem to be more sites being built almost with advertising as the sole focus.
Although much smaller than the planned MSG Sphere, the recently opened Now Building is at the northern end of Charing Cross Road, facing one of the entrances to Tottenham Court Road underground station. The sides of the building are covered in really bright advertising:
Advertising which you just cannot miss and which bath the surrounding area in light:
The ground floor of the building includes some genuinely impressive light displays:
Which attracts a constant stream of visitors:
View looking up at the ceiling of the Now building:
Plans for the MSG Sphere are now with the Mayor of London for approval, and it remains to be seen whether he will approve a vast dome covered in LED panels and advertising.
The displays at the Now Building are technically impressive, however it is a concern as to how much of this impossible to miss, incredibly bright advertising proliferates across London.