Tag Archives: Lambeth

Walcot Square And Lost Prefabs

The challenges facing the High Street have been much in the news over the last few years, with the failure of many shops and restaurant chains. This is the latest manifestation of a process that has been changing the way we shop for many years. It was not so long ago that the corner shop was the main source for day to day provisions. A corner shop could be found on the majority of London streets and the outline of many of these remain to this day, and for this blog post I went in search of one we photographed in 1986 to see what remained. This is the Walcot Stores in Walcot Square, Lambeth:

Walcot Square

The same view today:

Walcot Square

The Walcot Stores has long closed, but parts of the painted sign and the shop front remain. The conservation appraisal for the area records about the shop front that “Despite some surviving elements, unfortunately the door and much of the timber has been replaced and inappropriately stained.”

Looking into the original shop reveals a mix of goods. Tins of soup, boxes of fruit juice, packets of biscuits and in the left hand window, household cleaning products, toothpaste and soap.

Walcot Square is in Lambeth. Follow the Kennington Road, and just after the grounds of the Imperial War Museum are a couple of streets that lead into an early 19th century development centered on Walcot Square.

in the following map, Kennington Road is the vertical orange road in the centre. The Imperial War Museum is at the centre top, and just below this is the Walcot Estate centred around two triangular greens, just to the right of Kennington Road.

Walcot Square

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

The Walcot Estate is one of those places that can be found across London which have a very distinctive character and are different to their surroundings. I have written about similar estates before, such as the Lloyd Baker estate.

The land in this part of Lambeth was once owned by the Earls of Arundel, then the Dukes of Norfolk. In 1559, Thomas, Duke of Norfolk sold a parcel of land, and in 1657 this land was sold to Edmund Walcot.

There must have been a family connection to the area as Edmund’s uncle, Richard Walcot also owned some local land which Edmund inherited.

Edmund left the land in trust to St. Mary Lambeth and St. Olave, Southwark, for the benefit of the poor. At this time the majority of the land was undeveloped, apart from some limited building, it was mainly used for agricultural purposes.

The land left to St. Mary and St. Olave went through a number of partitions, enabling the two parishes to own their specific block of land, with the line of the present day Kennington Road roughly forming the border between the partitioned land.

Building commenced in the early years of the 19th century. Walcot Square was constructed between 1837 and 1839.

The name Walcot Square does not fit the area. Walcot recalls Edmund Walcot who left the land in trust to the parishes, however the area is not really a square.

The grassed section in the middle is more a triangle than a square, whilst the name also extends along the road that leads down to Kennington Road and up towards Brook Drive.

The Walcot Stores were at the eastern end of Walcot Square, towards Brook Drive. After photographing the old store front, I walked along Walcot Square towards the central grassed area.

In the following photo, the old shop is in the building on the left. In the front of the single storey building is a very old looking stone.

Walcot Square

A closer examination reveals a stone with a number of inscriptions. The date appears to be 1779.

Walcot Square

The stone pre-dates the construction of Walcot Square so was probably a boundary stone, possibly to show the land had been partitioned between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Olave.

I checked John Rocque’s 1746 map to see if I could find any obvious boundary (assuming that the boundary was in place 33 years before the date on the stone).

The following map extract shows the area in 1746.

Walcot Square

Some of the main roads that exist today could also be found in 1746. Part of Kennington Road along with Hercules Road, Lambeth Road and Lambeth Walk.

I have marked roughly where Kennington Road extends today and also the area occupied by the Walcot Estate, which in 1746 mainly consisted of fields.

There is a very hard boundary running diagonally down from Lambeth Road with cultivated agricultural land on the left and open fields on the right. This may have been the partition between St. Mary and St. Olave’s land, however the boundary does not look to be where the stone is to be found today – this is assuming that the stone is in the original location, Rocque’s map is correctly drawn and scaled, and that my interpretation of where the future extension to Kennington Road would run, and the future location of the Walcot Estate is correct.

Again, one of the problems with my blog where I worry I do not have enough time to research the detail – however I found it fascinating to find that a boundary stone that pre-dates the building of the entire estate can still be found.

Walking from the location of the shop, a short distance along Walcot Square brings us to the main area that could be considered a square. Here, the view is looking in the direction of Kennington Road with one of the corners of the triangle of grass, and the houses of Walcot Square on either side.

Walcot Square

The square and housing was built between 1837 and 1839. The Kenning Road extension had already been built, along with the large houses that faced onto Kennington Road, so Walcot Square was the typical expansion of building back from the main roads into the fields.

The square consists of two and three storey houses, along with a small basement. the ground floor is raised so a small set of steps leads up from the street to the front door.

Walcot Square

The north western corner of the square ends in a short stub of a street. The large gardens of the houses facing onto Kennington Road block the street. On the left is a rather attractive single storey building with a part basement below. The unusual design is probably because of the limited space behind, as this building could not intrude into the gardens of the house on the left.

Walcot Square

I wonder if it was the original intention to purchase the houses and land that block the extension on to Kennington Road and extend the above street and Walcot Square housing directly onto Kennington Road?

Leaving Walcot Square, walk along Bishop’s Terrace and you will find St. Mary’s Gardens (which must have been named after St. Mary, Lambeth, one of the parishes that had received the land in trust from Edmund Walcot). The layout is almost a mirror image of Walcot Square, with a triangular central garden.

Walcot Square

St. Mary’s Gardens was built at around the same time as Walcot Square so is of 1830s design and construction.

Compared to the continuous stream of traffic along Kennington Road, the streets of the Walcot Estate are quiet, and apart from the street parking, the general appearance of Walcot Square and St. Mary’s Gardens are much the same as when the estate was completed in the 1830s.

Walking back to Kennington Road, there is another of the typical 19th century standards for estate building. As with shops, pubs were also a common feature at the end of a terrace, or corner of a street, here at the junction of Bishop’s Terrace and Kennington Road:

Walcot Square

The pub was until very recently the Ship, but appears to have had a name change to The Walcot 1830 – a clear reference to the construction decade of the adjacent estate.

Lost Prefabs

Nothing to do with the Walcot Estate, but these must be in the local area.

The photo adjacent to the photo of the Walcot Stores on the strip of negatives from 1986 shows some prefab houses:

Walcot Square

Whilst the prefabs have almost certainly long gone, I was hoping that the distinctive building in the background could still be found, however after a lengthy walk through the streets of this part of Lambeth, I could not find the building in the background, so the street in which these prefabs were to be found in the 1980s remains a mystery.

It would be great to know if any reader recognises the location.

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Lower Marsh Market And L & N Cohen

For this week’s post, I am in Lower Marsh, just to the south of Waterloo Station, however before getting into the post, can I say a big thanks for all the comments to last week’s post. Within a few hours on Sunday morning, your comments provided:

  • The source of the name Flockton – Webster Flockton, who had a tar works in Spa Road, Bermondsey
  • It appears there was nothing sinister with Violet Rose Dicker’s disappearance, she probably ran away with her future husband
  • The correct location of the photograph – Bevington Street

It is really good to have another of my father’s photos correctly identified, I will never know why he labelled it as Flockton Street, I will check the photos again to see if there is one of Flockton Street as perhaps the wrong photo was labelled. I will also take a walk to Bevington Street to take a photo in the right location.

There is no such mystery with today’s location. I worked around Waterloo for 10 years between 1979 and 1989, and one of the lunchtime walking routes was along Lower Marsh, a street lined with shops and a busy market occupying the length of the street.

This is the shop of L&N Cohen at 27 Lower Marsh on the corner of Frazier Street photographed in 1986:

Lower Marsh

This is the same building today:

Lower Marsh

The two photos provide a summary of the changes in the area, as can also be seen across so much of London. The building is no longer the “House for Value” and is now an independent local supermarket selling artisan bread.

I assume the same Cohen family had been running a clothes shop in Lower Marsh for many years. I found the following photo of the same shop in the LMA Collage archive. The photo is dated 1950.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_80_3901

The initials changed between the 1950 and 1986 photos, so I assume ownership of the shop moved to later generations of the Cohen family. It is interesting that the same structures can be seen across the front of the first floor of the building, running across the windows. I could not work out what these were for, whether a very large awning, fixing for signage that was once in place, or strengthening of the building wall. What ever it was, it has long gone and the building today has been considerably renovated and extended along Frazier Street.

Lower Marsh runs in the shadow of Waterloo Station. The name hints at what the land in the area was like before the developments between the street and the river. When I worked in the area the street was always known as the Cut rather than Lower Marsh. However the street today named The Cut runs to the east of Waterloo Road.

The following map extract shows the location of the building (the red dot, just to the lower left of centre), Lower Marsh runs from lower left to upper right. Waterloo Station dominates the area to the north. Waterloo Road is the orange road on the right, with The Cut leading off Waterloo Road to the top right corner.

Lower Marsh

Map  © OpenStreetMap contributors. 

When I work in the area, the Lower Marsh market was always busy with the street lined with stalls selling all manner of typical market goods, however today, the street appears much quieter with nearly all the stalls selling food. I have not walked along here for a few years, so not sure if this was a typical day, however it is a very different market to that of the 1980s.

Lower Marsh

The Lower Marsh market has a long history, but trading was not always peaceful. An article in the Illustrated London News on the 27th January 1872 shows some of the problems with attempts at Sunday trading:

“SUNDAY TRADING IN THE NEW-CUT: The Lower Marsh, Lambeth, which is popularly called ‘the New-cut’, has long been the regular weekly haunt of a numerous assembly of costermongers, dealers in fish, rabbits, and pork, sellers of cheap hosiery, pottery, hardware, trinkets and toys, who have been permitted to set up their little stalls, or to place their barrows and baskets at the sides of the wide street. This trade has gone on every Sunday at eight o’clock in the morning to one in the afternoon, while most of the neighbouring shopkeepers were obliged in self-defence, to have their business open at the same time.

Two or three weeks ago, the vestry board of St. Mary’s, Lambeth, passed a resolution to the effect that printed notices should be posted through the parish, cautioning all persons in the habit of exposing goods for sale that such a practice would not in future be allowed on Sunday mornings, and that any person so found offending would be summoned before the magistrate on the charge of creating an obstruction, the penalty on conviction being 40s. It was also resolved that the inspectors of nuisances for the parish should be employed to see that the terms of the notice were strictly enforced. The police authorities had declined to interfere, unless the order were to be applied to shopkeepers as well as to costermongers; but a double force of constables was placed on duty to prevent any breach of the peace.

On Sunday week, the trade began at the usual hour, but at nine o’clock, six of the Lambeth nuisance inspectors, in uniform, appeared upon the scene, and, accompanied by police-constables and followed by a large body of roughs, yelling and hooting, visited the stall-keepers in succession, ordering each to remove the stall, barrow or basket at once. If they merely removed to other places, they were followed by an inspector, who took down the name and address of the offending dealer, informing him he would be summoned.

As a rule, the officers, while performing their disagreeable duty, were treated with civility; but were very generally told that, if prevented selling their goods as usual, the costermongers would be compelled to throw themselves upon the parish, as they mainly depended for their scanty living upon the profits of the Sunday morning sales, when they did more business than on all the other days of the week.”

The articles goes on to state that the issue was discussed further in a number of vestry meetings, with a considerable number of shop-keepers, rate payers, shop assistants and costermongers urging the vestry that regulation rather than prohibition was required.

The vestry agreed on a compromise that allowed the market to go ahead on a Sunday morning, providing the stalls were removed by half-past ten o’clock, before church time.

The article finishes with a sentence that illustrates the working conditions that constrained the lives of so many of the working class:

“It is said that many of the working-class families in Lambeth cannot get their needful purchases for Sunday on Saturday night, because they work late on Saturday and do not receive their wages till the evening.”

Lower Marsh today, looking west with the old Cohen shop immediately on the left:Lower Marsh

Another view along Lower Marsh:

Lower Marsh

There are still many interesting 19th century buildings along Lower Marsh. On the front of one building at 127 Lower Marsh, there are two large urns on the either side of the first floor windows.

Lower Marsh

Apparently these are Tuscan oil jars and were often found on the facades of former oil shops. The ground floor of the building today is occupied by a Thai Restaurant, however in 1972 it was occupied by “Taps & Tiles”:

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_72_1090A

The Eastwood’s sign on the side of the building in 1972 has disappeared. I have not been able to find out if this was the name of a possible oil shop, or some other business on the premises.

Lower Marsh from Westminster Bridge Road end:

Lower Marsh

The London metropolitan Archives, Collage collection has a number of photos of the Lower Marsh market over the years, the following are a sample.

The first is one of the earliest I could find and is dated 1896, only 24 years after the Sunday trading issues detailed earlier in the post.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_77_1062

This is from a time when the majority of shops had awnings and frequently large advertising boards across the facade, as can be seen with the Danish Dairy Company in the above photo. I wonder if the remains of these fixtures could still be seen across the front of Cohen’s shop in 1986.

The following photo is from 1950. The text that goes with this photo states that “the market stretched from Blackfriars to Vauxhall”.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_90_3903

I have not been able to find any evidence that the market stretched all the way from Blackfriars to Vauxhall – this would have been a considerable distance. It may have been that, as described in the 1872 Illustrated London News article, costermongers and traders could have sold from baskets and stalls anywhere along the roads south of the river from Blackfriars to Vauxhall, rather than a single, organised market. Street trading was much more haphazard before the 20th century.

This photo is again from 1950, and is at the eastern end of Lambeth Marsh, close to the junction with Waterloo Bridge Road.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_02_0942_90_3903

This final photo from the Collage archive is also towards the Waterloo Bridge Road end of Lambeth Marsh. The photo is from 1950 and shows Waterloo Station in the background.

Lower Marsh

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_251_80_3912

I hope the early Friday afternoon that I walked down Lambeth Marsh was not a normal market day, it was very quiet and with considerably less variety than the market of the 1980s, however demographics change and I suspect the market today reflects local demand as it is, rather than as it was.

These changes between 1986 and 2018 can be clearly seen in the changes to 27 Lower Marsh.

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