This is a page dedicated to the memories of people who lived here before the park. Please contribute your memories too! Lots of people have already:
Simon Dear: Golden Eagle Pub – Jenny Chapple: Victory Square – Ken Pywell: Cowan Street – Martin Scott: Albany Road – Stephen Waters: Wells Way – Richard Hutt: Nugents of Neate Street – Stephen Kirkman: Neate St Cafe – or read the extensive Comments
Simon Dear and the Golden Eagle pub
My grandfather Alfred Robert Dear was born in the Golden Eagle Beer House on the corner of Trafalgar Road and Neate Street in 1908, after his family took over the pub the previous year. We have not been able to find any photos of the pub except for the one shown, taken in 1921, that came to me through family.
Sadly, we don’t know where they were off it that day. We think it was the south coast, perhaps Brighton. This photo came from my Great Aunt Margaret now passed, but I do have my grandad’s photo album which has pictures taken at Brighton when he was around that age. My great grandfather (the Golden Eagle’s landlord) is the chap with the bow tie in the front row. He always wore a bow tie on such occasions, so it’s not possible to tell for sure it was the same day.
Here’s my grandfather, aged around 13, on the back row:
This is how the pub looked in 1986, shortly before demolition. A very sad sight.
Please see below for comments on this and other posts on this page.
Jenny Chapple and family
I visited on the open day along with my brother and sister on a nostalgic trip in September 2014. We had a tour of the bath house and told stories to the other visitors of our visits to the baths. At the time it was believed that there had been about 11 baths, going by the pipes that could be seen in the ceiling from the floor below. From our memories and after wandering around upstairs we were all sure there had been many more baths even being able to recollect a rough layout. I see from the drawing of the bath house on your website that there were in the region of 50 baths in cubicles, this would fit in much more with the number we thought there were.
[As children, Jenny, with her brother and sister, lived in a house in Victory Square off New Church Rd, with no bathroom, so had to take a weekly bath at the bath house – Ed]
Also I’m still trying to find more information about the laundry for you. It seems it was an industrial laundry in the basement. Vans would bring the bags of washing (likely to be sheets and towels etc) and there were women who worked in there that would put the washing through the wash, spinners and tumble dryers. It would be folded and loaded back in the white linen sacks to be returned to the owners (possibly old peoples homes etc) I will try to find out more about this but not so many people left to ask. If I find any more info I will write again.
When we came we were trying to find out about the Lime Kiln as none of us could remember it but we have discovered that when we were in New Church Road the kiln was surrounded by corrugated fencing. We have discovered a photo showing this and again the memories came flooding back. We also found a photo of New Church Road as it was when we lived there.
In this photo of New Church Road, the reclamation/junk yard is where the phone box is, and you can see the bath house at the end of the road on the left hand side of the photo. We lived on the corner of Victory Square which is just visible as a tiny street on the right hand side of the road just beyond the third car.
Jenny Chapple, January 2015.
My family and I have been aware for many years of the development of the Park over time and of its recent refurbishment. We visited in the winter of 2013 but found it closed off because of the work being done inside. We came again on the 25th of this month, with my Birthday as the excuse for the outing. We live in Shirley so the park is not exactly local to us.
My interest lies in the fact that, in my childhood in the 1930’s, I lived at No.57 Cowan Street. My son downloaded various old and not so old maps from the internet and, overlaying them, was able to determine with some degree of accuracy where that house used to be in relation to today’s landscape. It was very pleasing to find that it lay under what is now the tree-covered hill overlooking the north shore of the lake. Such a contrast to what used to be there !!
Cowan Street was divided into three parts, which were separated by Jardin Street and Calmington Road running at right-angles to it. No. 57 was at the extreme eastern end of the middle section and the much taller buildings in Calmington Road overlooked our back garden, which was very tiny. We used to say that the end nearest to Chumleigh Street was the “posh end” (there weren’t many children playing at that end), the other end was the “rough end” – very rough as I recall, and we in the middle bit were, well, just “respectable”. Posh or no, all us kids used to go to Saturday morning cinema at the Coronet and when the film started used to stand on the seats and cheer the “goodies” and boo the “Baddies”!
I lived in Cowan Street from birth on 27th January 1932 until January 1941. During the Blitz we were bombed out. I was evacuated at the time to Yeovil with other children from Scarsdale Road School and some of the teachers. My Mum and Dad were trapped in their Anderson shelter, which had got buried with debris from the houses overlooking us in Calmington Road. They had to be dug out – fortunately they survived.
It was lovely to see the area as it is now. To have a lake is a real bonus. We actually saw a cormorant when we were there. Who, back in those days, would have thought all this possible? One disappointment, the footbridge was not open. Many times as a child I walked or pushed my tricycle over that bridge and was looking forward to walking over it again.
I have heard it said that there were plans after the first world war to turn this part of Camberwell into a park. I think those plans were interrupted by the next war. It’s good to know that it has now come to pass, no doubt through a great deal of hard work by your organisation and others. Thank you for that.
Ken Pywell (83), January 2015
More memories of Cowan St and a picture of the western end on Flickr here
Martin Scott – Memories of Albany Road…
….home of the Mills family and especially my great grand aunt Clara Mills (Aunt Doll) and my great grandmother Sarah Ann Redman, nee Mills.
My great grand Aunt Clara Mills (nicknamed “Doll” possibly deriving from “Dolly”) was born in 1891 and was the ninth of ten children by Stephen and Jean Mills. Stephen was the son of a ropemaker from Hayle, a village on the north Cornwall coast who came to south London in the late 1860s to make a new life.
The Mills family (already with at least six children) came to live in Camberwell during the mid 1880s and moved into 292 Albany Road, just a few yards from the junction with Portland Street. I assume it was a very ordinary flat in one of the many tenement buildings on Albany Road at the time. According to the census records, Stephen and Jean were still resident at this address in 1911, so I assume that all of the ten siblings would have lived at 292 at some time before leaving the family home and moving on.
The photo below shows a portrait of Aunt Doll taken a little before WW1 making her around 20 years old at the time.
In the years leading up to WW1, Aunt Doll and her older sister Alice (nicknamed “Al”) both had jobs as packers at the Cross & Blackwell preserves and pickle factory, either in Blue Anchor Lane or Lynton Road, Bermondsey, just a half mile or so from home. I think Alice was already married at this time.
My great grandmother Sarah Ann Mills, born in 1875, was another of Aunt Doll’s three older sisters. Sarah Ann married Thomas Redman in 1899 and they moved in next door to the Mills family at 290 Albany Road from then onwards. They had three children; my grandmother Kate Emily born in 1900, and then Frederick William and Alice Maud (nicknamed “Dinks”) a few years later.
During or just after WW1, Aunt Doll had moved into the downstairs flat of an early Victorian terraced house at 104 Albany Road, about 200 yards from the well-known “Thomas A’ Beckett” public house at the junction with the old Kent Road. In the 1920s she found employment as a clerk with HM Inland Revenue Service and continued there until her retirement around 1954. She never married.
My grandmother Kate Emily, married Algernon Harry Scott in Camberwell in the summer of 1924 and my father, Arthur Frederick (nicknamed “Freddie”) was born in East Dulwich Hospital in the November of the same year. They lived for a year or two in Albany Road before moving to Walthamstow but they still visited their relatives in Camberwell on a regular basis well into the 1950s. Aunt Doll was in fact my grandmothers aunt and because of their relatively small age gap, had always been quite close. She was also my dad’s favourite great aunt.
After hearing stories about the R.Whites distibution depot on the corner of Bagshot Street and the main factory premises in Neate Street, I can now understand why my dad had such a close affinity to the R.Whites brand name. Creme Soda became my absolute favourite fizzy drink growing up in the 1950s & 1960s.
After the death of my great grandfather Thomas Redman in the mid 1930s, great grandma Sarah Ann Redman moved into the upstairs flat at 104 Albany road where Aunt Doll could keep an eye on her. Sarah Ann lived there until her death in 1950 and the upstairs flat at 104 Albany Road was relet to a guy called Frankie Merritt who was still living there the last time I visited Aunt Doll together with my dad around 1971.
Freddie Scott known to most simply as “Fred” outside the Camberwell family, married Joan Mary Saggers at Hockley, Essex on 30th April 1949. A small contingent of Camberwell relatives turned out for the occasion with some of the ladies in their silver fox stoles. The Camberwell family members can be seen on the far left hand side of the group (except for the man at the extreme left who one of my mums cousins and is therefore standing on the wrong side)
The five Camberwell relatives standing from left to right: Alice Maud Worth nee Redman, Freddie Worth, Jean Charlesworth nee Mills, Shirley Worth, then another of my mums cousins, then Clara Mills (Aunt Doll).
The three Camberwell relatives seated from left to right are: Alice Parish nee Redman (Sarah Anns sister in law), Sarah Ann Redman nee Mills , Kate Emily Scott nee Redman.
The author of this article, Martin Richard was born two years later to Fred and Joan Scott in Thorpe Coombe Hospital, Walthamstow on the 22nd May 1951. We moved to Harlow in south west Essex in late 1952.
Aunt Doll’s ground floor flat at 104 Albany Road was a typical 1840s London terraced house with a narrow gabled roof hidden behind a plain brick house front. A short “extension” at the garden end housed the kitchen/scullery with access to the outside WC. The flat was still lit by gas lamps in the early 1950s when aunt Doll very reluctantly had to make the changeover to electricity.
My dad borrowed £80 from Aunt Doll in early 1959 to fund the purchase of his first car, a black 1955 Ford Popular. I can remember the first visits to Aunt Doll in Albany Road around this time and it became a regular adventure driving into London from Harlow via the A11 through Stratford and the Mile End Road, across Tower Bridge, up to the Elephant & Castle and along the Old Kent Road. Because the junction of Albany Road with the Old Kent Road was a “no right turn” at the time, we would first turn right into Mina Road
(which we often missed) and instead had to turn next right into Cobourg Road or even Trafalgar Avenue and then double back to find our destination. The daytime journey in the 1960s was only about 75 miniutes.
Aunt Doll’s flat at number 104 was furnished with many old carpets some of which were threadbare and lots of heavy dark oak furniture. A similarly aged and always out of tune upright piano stood against one wall in the front room. She could read music and had apparently been quite an acceptable piano player in earlier times although I never heard her play. There was always a slight smell of mothballs in the air which added to the very tired feel of the interior. There was no central heating and no double glazing of course so the house was always cold, especially the front room which was never used. The kitchen had become the “living room” for which the trade off was very little daylight making it quite dark and where myriads of biscuit tins, jam jars and tea caddys adorned the shelves and filled the cupboards. She had also been a “spiritual medium” of some notoriety within the family which was perhaps another reason why the front room was always cold.
Aunt Doll’s length of residence in Albany Road spanned most of her life from the early 1890s until the early 1970s. After fifty years living at 104 she became slightly infirm and moved into Woburn Court, a sheltered home for elderly people in Bermondsey in 1972. I visited her there just once around Christmas 1973 still to be greeted in her ubiquitous “Ena Sharples” hair net. She died in 1975 aged 84. My parents attended her funeral, which I think took place at Nunhead cemetery.
In spite of WW2 bombing and extensive redevelopment of the area, fate has decreed that the terrace of houses including number 104 are still standing today and indeed must represent the last examples of early Victorian buildings on Albany Road, albeit completely modernised. Some are no longer downstairs /upstairs flats but have been converted into houses.
I hope this short article is of interest and may even have jogged the memories of people with their own stories of Albany Road or perhaps others who may even remember the names of some of my distant relative from Albany Road! It was after all a large family.
Martin Scott / January 2017 / Hilden, Germany
Stephen Waters – Memories of Wells Way
I lived opposite one of the entrances to Burgess Park in Wells Way before it expanded to the size it is now and have fond memories of playing there when I was a boy. I was born in 1954 and lived with my mother, Joyce Waters (nee Carter) and my father John Waters at 65 Wells Way. We rented the small flat at the top of the house. A woman called Beatrice lived in the basement with her husband. I am not sure if it was their house. A girl called Diane used to look after me when my mother was out and I still have a photo of her playing with me in the back garden. I have often wondered what happened to her. My father passed away in 1956, but I continued to live there with my mother until 1960. Life wasn’t easy for a single mother in those days, but she had some small jobs and did some cleaning at the old vicarage in Wells Way. Sometimes we went there for events in the garden.
We were friendly with a family opposite called McLeod who lived at no 100. Lewis McLeod was a highly respected cameraman who worked on programmes shown on television. He was also involved in filming the documentary: March to Aldermaston, which was produced by the Film and TV Committee for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958-1959. He went to film the war in Vietnam.
My mother became life long friends with his wife after they met in Burgess Park. We often had picnics there and one day set up a small play tent. Unfortunately, the park keeper jobsworth told us to take it down because it was against regulations. We thought it was very mean of him! My mother told me that my father was late coming home from work one day. There was a pea souper (thick smog). She was worried that he might have lost his way so she went into the street and called out his name.
65 Wells Way – arrow marks Stephen’s house. The present bus stop is approximately where the family are walking (Stephen Waters)
Richard Hutt reflects on the Nugent factory on Neate St
Thank you for such an interesting website as your Bridge to Nowhere. It enables much of the now vanished history around Burgess Park to once again come alive, and particularly through families who once had close associations with that part of Camberwell.
I am one of the Great-Grandsons of Matthew Nugent (pictured below) who, during the Victorian and Edwardian era, operated a sheepskin rug factory which had its main entrance situated at 181 Neate Street. The factory itself was sandwiched between Neate Street and the then Goldie Street; effectively in a confined area between Coburg Road and Trafalgar Road, where the cricket and rugby pitches are now. The caretaker’s residence was incorporated in the complex but the Nugent family themselves lived nearby in Glengall Terrace.
Matthew Nugent’s father, Richard Nugent, was listed as operating his family trade at 8 Henry’s Place as far back as 1851, and later in 1864 it’s shown at 12 Neate Street. However, it’s uncertain whether 12 Neate Street was at the opposite western end of this once long street, or it was later renumbered to become the 181 Neate Street site at the eastern end. The factory manufactured sheepskin rugs and cavalry skins, together with white and coloured boas and lamb trimmings. Rugs were also cleaned, dyed or made to order.
In 1864 the family firm was listed as employing 15 men and 5 boys. From the faded pages of an old stock book in my possession dated 1897, you can see the scale on which this thriving business operated in the Victorian era. The inventory records approximately 13,800 skins in stock, plus 980 boas and over 1,600 rugs. Also stocked were the necessities for such a factory, including 1 ton of soap, 6 cwt of alkali and 1 ton of alum. I can’t imagine what all of that would have smelled like for the people living in the adjacent terraced houses! The total value of stock was listed as being £5,684 19s 6d, or £740,000 at 2020 prices.
The family business ceased operations after Matthew Snr’s death, aged 59, in 1907. However, his brother William Nugent, who had his own factory situated in Achilles Street, New Cross, continued with the family sheepskin and rug trade. Both Matthew and William Nugent had been baptised in St. George’s Church, Camberwell. Although the Neate Street factory was destroyed during World War II, William’s business continued to operate until it too was demolished in 1944 when a V1 flying bomb destroyed the 4-storey factory site,. This incident resulted in the loss of five nearby homes, five deaths, and thirty badly injured.
It would be interesting to one day recreate a complete listing of all businesses and occupants of the once very long Neate Street, stretching from the Library and Baths on the corner of Wells Way, right down to the Trafalgar Road end. I am sure it would hold some fascinating historical details of the area once situated alongside or very near the busy Grand Surrey Canal.
The Neat Cafe – Stephen Kirkman researches his family connections
I would like to know if anyone has any recollections of the families that lived near to, or perhaps used, the cafe at 102 Neate Street possibly around 1935?
My mother, Helen Passey, lived for a while next door at number 100 before moving to number 102.
The cafe was in a block of three shops, part of the terrace on the south side of Neate St, next to the footbridge, and opposite the Queen pub. There’s a similar view of the cafe taken in 1972 on the London Picture Archive site (search for photo 56013 if the link doesn’t work). If anyone can shed light on the cafe name – Neat or Neate – that would be appreciated.
On the cafe photos, you can see
- The vehicle yard belonging to R S Joyner & Sons Ltd. at 106a (only visible in the London Picture Archive image)
- At 106 – J W Hardy and fruit and vegetable (who also did haulage and removals according to the high level sign).
- Next is what appears to be an empty shop, or perhaps an extension of Hardy’s shop at 104 Neate Street. This was a Butcher’s in 1936 and 1960 directories
- The Neat Cafe which would be 102 Neate Street. This was certainly listed as Dining Rooms by 1960 and probably earlier, though in 1936 it was a Grocer’s
- Then the first terraced house at 100 Neate Street, where the photo of my mother and friends was taken.
I’ve searched the Electoral Registers for 1935-37 and traced the following residents:
|100 Neate St||100 Neate St||100 Neate St|
|Frederick Adams||Frederick Adams||Frederick Adams|
|Florence Louisa Adams||Florence Louisa Adams||Florence Louisa Adams|
|Mary Elizabeth Furlonger||Mary Elizabeth Furlonger|
|Helen Matilda Passey||Helen Matilda Passey|
|102 Neate St (Cafe)||102 Neate St (Cafe)||102 Neate St (Cafe)|
|William Eugene Townsend||William Eugene Townsend||Marie Kate Townsend|
|Marie Kate Townsend||Marie Kate Townsend||Joseph Benjamin Stiles|
|Joseph Benjamin Stiles||Martha Sarah Alice Stiles|
|Martha Sarah Alice Stiles||Helen Matilda Passey|
From other records I found that my mother was a waitress at the cafe. I’d really appreciate any further information on the residents, and especially of Mum’s friends in the picture!
David Levett adds:
I can confirm that in the 60s it was The Neat Cafe. In the picture on the link, that is my Austin A40, which would date it to the late 60s, early 70s. I remember Leonard Bossett [listed as the proprietor in the 1960 directory]. My father bought the Cafe from him. He also ran a juke box / pin-table business and my father hired a couple from him.
At about that time, the butcher’s shop closed when the owner suffered a stroke and was unable to carry on. For a while my father rented the flat above the butcher’s as extra accommodation, and had a doorway knocked through the wall of the front room. My father also rented a cafe in Farnborough, Kent, from Mr Bossett, which I ran for a short while until my mother took it over.
I remember a couple of the locals that worked for my father in the Neat Cafe, one was Doll Roberts, and a lady called Vera, who seemed to live in a 1940s time warp, and lived in a flat above the Doctors surgery the other side of the Canal, almost opposite Cronin Road.
I remember the time they were making the film, Battle of Britain, mostly the other side of the canal where they were demolishing a lot of the houses [Dragon St, just south of St George’s Way]. My father kept the cafe open very late for the film crews and a number of the stars came in too as the filming was done at night. At around that time I was working for Cox Plant hire and was involved in both the demolition and building of the estates in the area. Starting to remember more now I think about it. Will get back as it comes to light.