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The Lewisham Local History Society (LLHS) was founded in 1961 with the aim of encouraging and assisting study of the local history of the London Borough of Lewisham and nearby areas.

A full programme of monthly illustrated local history Talks is provided, and all Members are encouraged to attend. There are occasional visits and conducted Walks linked to a recent Talk. Society Members receive free copies of the quarterly Newsletter and the annual Lewisham History Journal. The Newsletter can be sent to you electronically if you prefer.

This website (launched in 2007) is now the primary source for all information about the Society, including forthcoming Talks and where they are held, the time-table for such meetings, a list of Society personnel with email addresses, and occasional comments on recent Meetings. It explains how to join the Society – this website contains a Membership Application Form.

A study of Newsletter articles and other items over the years reveals the wide range of interests and activities covered by the Society. Items on local industrial and commercial activities have covered factories at Lower Sydenham; Lewisham aircraft makers; Brockley Steam Laundry; Chiltonian, Lee; Deptford Dockyard; Elliott Bros., Lewisham; SW Farmer & Sons; film making in Lewisham and Southend Village; Leeway (Patterson Edwards); Lewisham Silk Mills; Robertson's Golden Shred Works, Rogers Hi-Fi Works, Catford; and many others.

Well-known names associated with Lewisham and Deptford finding a place in these pages have included The Lanchester Brothers, Dame Cicely Saunders, Raymond Chandler, Margaret McMillan, Edith Nesbit, John Evelyn, Camille Pisarro, Henry Williamson, W G Grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Spike Milligan, James Elroy Flecker, Denis Thatcher, Peter The Great, George Orwell, Heddle Nash, Jane Austen and Barnes Wallis.

A cross-section of pastimes and sports topics cover Bellingham outdoor swimming pool, Catford Wanderers, a range of cinemas and theatres, ladies' cricket in the 1920s, football teams, Laurie Grove Baths, Lee Cycling Club, New Cross Scouts, Private Banks Sports-ground, Catford Church Lads Brigade... Schools, hospitals, churches, transport (e.g. tramways) and stores (e.g. Pyne Bros., New Cross) all find a place, as do buildings of note (some now no more), such as Horniman Museum, Forest Hill, Manor House, Lee, Sion House and Camden Villas, Lewisham, and the old Crystal Palace. Topics range from suffragettes to sundials and street fire alarms. As might be expected, both World Wars regularly figure, e.g. evacuation, rationing, sheltering. It is not all 'bricks and mortar' history. Today's strong interest in what life was like for ordinary people is also catered for, not least in the shape of members' personal memories.

The Society's annual Lewisham History Journal caters for fuller articles, usually based on original research or personal knowledge. For example, recent issues have contained articles on Memories of Southend Village, David Jones – Brockley artist, writer and poet; Slavery and the Black Presence in Lewisham; and Herbert Morrison and the South Lewisham Labour Party.

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Our Talks take place at St Dunstan's Jubilee Pavilion, Canadian Avenue SE6 4SW. Click HERE to see the Map

February 2024

Neil Rhind
The Blackheath Society regrets to announce that their President, Neil Rhind, died in the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital Woolwich on Saturday 10 February, after a short illness. He was 87.
For over 50 years he wrote about Blackheath and published a number of books about the area. He gave talks and conducted walks, and worked, successfully, to prevent the demolition of important local buildings. He will be greatly missed.

January 2024

November 2023

Crossness Engines Open Day this month: Sunday November 19 2023 at 10am until 3pm. News Links for details

October 2023

Crossness Pumping Station is now fully open again. The giant steam-engine and the Narrow gauge Railway are both working on Open Days. News Links for details

September 2023

August 2023

LLHS trip to the Medway Queen paddle steamer.
Saturday 12 August 2023. News Links for details

July 2023

02/07/2023 Tour de France began.
News Links for details First Stage won by Adam Yates. His twin brother Simon came second (by 8 seconds).

Doggett's Coat and Badge Wednesday 19 July.
The race will start at 11:30am from London Bridge.
Full Results: see News Links.

June 2023

EVENT: Hilly Fields Fayre Saturday 24 June (HELP needed: car/van to carry our stock to the Event).

May 2023

The Coronation of King Charles III went well, although there was some rain. We saw him crowned or, as some folk prefer, “coronated”. The total cost of the Coronation (£161 million) caused some surprise. Perhaps future crownings could be carbon-neutral; the Gold Coach, for example, could be electrically driven, using batteries made from lithium mined in Cornwall. There would be no horses, so it could be a vegetarian event.

April 2023

Meeting Thursday 27 April 7:15 for 7:30.
Click on "Talks, Walks &c
" on the left for details.
See 3 new items in News Links

At the recent AGM (March 30 2023), several new Members were elected to the Management Committee. You will find them listed on the 'Officers' page.
There is a Vacancy for the position of Journal Editor. The previous Editor, Jonathan Derrick, occupied this position with distinction for over twenty years.
We welcome our new Membership Secretary, Ms. Susan Charman. She replaces Sylvia and David Eley, who have retired for health reasons.

March 2023

AGM + Meeting Thursday 30 March 7:15 for 7:30.
Click on "Talks, Walks &c
" Click on the left for details.

February 2023

Meeting on Thursday 23 February 7:15 for 7:30pm.
Click on "Talks, Walks &c
" on the left for details.

Expect heavy snow in February, says the Wandsworth Times. Not true, says the Met Office, but they concede that it may be much colder by the 25th of the month.

January 2023

Meeting on Thursday 26 January 7:15 for 7:30pm.
Click on "Talks, Walks &c
" on the left for details.

Alan Till
Alan Till, Chairman of the Lewisham Local History Society, died just before the start of 2023, after a long illness.

Alan was our Chairman until recently. He was a Lewisham Councillor for the Perry Vale Ward from 1992 until standing down in 2018. He was Vice-Chair of Lewisham Council and had been Mayor in 1995/6. He was a very active and dedicated supporter of local organisations, especially those involving young people.

December 2022

A plodding kind of month, enlivened (if that's the right word) by numerous reports of strikes, which either took place or were threatened. Rishi Sunak did all the 'politicking' while the rest of the cabinet either had some time off or were busy reminding Mr. Sunak where his duty lay. The weather has been cold. Xmas came and went.

November 2022

A quiet start to the Premiership of Rishi Sunak. Several Members of Parliament were accused of outrageous behaviour and in some cases their services were dispensed with. Matt Hancock MP decided to take part in a TV programme called I'm a Celebrity....get me out of here! in an Australian version. Contestants will be forced to eat unpleasant things which we will not mention. His UK admirers will be watching closely.

October 2022

October 2022 has been filled with extraordinary political events. Prime Minister Liz Truss appointed Kwasi Kwarteng as her Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he then announced various financial measures that so alarmed conventional economists that Mr. Kwarteng found himself unemployed, having been sacked by Ms. Truss, who was herself called to explain her ideas to Parliament. By then, the value of the pound against the dollar had fallen to a dangerous level and the Bank of England was in a panic. Interest rates were going up rapidly. The Tory 1922 Committee, which appears to be (secretly) in charge of everything, told Ms. Truss to resign, and she meekly did so. A competition was announced to find a new Prime Minister. Any MP who could muster more than 100 supporters could take part. Rishi Sunak easily raised enough supporters, but Boris Johnson declined to take part, and Penny Mordaunt failed to raise more than a quarter of the number required. So it was declared that Rishi Sunak was the new Leader of the Tory Party and was also the new Prime Minister, and then everybody went home.

September 2022

Of the four aircraft used to make the complicated funeral arrangements: Two were French, one was Brazilian and one was American.
Can we no longer do anything for ourselves?

Queen Elizabeth II died today at the age of 96.

We now have a Prime Minister again (Liz Truss), after rather a long wait. And rather a long flight; it is 400 miles from RAF Northolt (in Ruislip) to Aberdeen Airport (or RAF Dyce as it was once called), and then 40 miles by road to Balmoral Castle. This is a round trip of nearly 1000 miles; expensive but unavoidable. It will doubtless be re-enacted for film and TV purposes, probably using horses.

August 2022

Half-way through the month (16/08/2022), it seems that the period of very high temperature is nearing its end, and we may see some rain. There is now an official drought, and some crops may not be worth harvesting.
There is an equally serious drought of ideas for solving our economic woes. We have been offered "tuppence off everything" and "borrow billions of dollars" from the main contenders. The Opposition Party is relying on an Energy Price Cap. Energy will not suddenly become free, so they may have to pay for it with the Magic Money Tree. There is, of course, the small matter of winning an election.

July 2022

It has been a busy month on several fronts. The Prime Minister has brought the art of the terminological inexactitude to its highest peak so far, resulting in mass resignations from the Government benches. It was found necessary to elect a new Leader for the Conservative Party, and the process got under way with a speed that suggests they were waiting for this chance.

Another important event was the Red Warning of extremely high temperatures, which duly peaked on 19/07/2022, a Tuesday. The 40 deg C barrier was broken in several places. Your Editor's conservatory demonstrates the "greenhouse effect" very well. Two years ago the temperature inside reached 48 deg. C, but on the recent Tuesday it reached a touch over 50 deg. C. The heat is trapped inside the 'greenhouse'. An explanation is given by a forgotten hero - scientist John Tyndall (1820-1893). Look him up on Wikipedia.

June 2022

May 2022

The "In Living Memory" project is creating a People's History of Post-War Lewisham as part of the London Borough of Culture year, and will be running a pop-up shop at Unit 17 in Lewisham Shopping Centre, from 19-21 May 2022, 10am to 4pm. [See Talks, Walks &c.]

Local Elections took place this month in Lewisham. Before the Election there were 54 Labour Councillors and no others. After the Election there were 54 Labour Councillors and no others. The turnout was 34%.

April 2022

Stop Press: Our monthly Talks will start again in April 2022. "Talks, Walks &c" has been updated.

Emmanuel Macron has won a second term as French President with a larger majority than was expected over the far-right candidate Marine le Pen, who nevertheless won 13 million votes with her anti-immigration policies.

The latest about Partygate is that Boris Johnson's future is on a knife-edge and a vote of 'No Confidence' is closer than before. At last some news about the Tory Party. Or, rather, Parties – the ones that took place in No. 10. A number of fines have been handed out. It will be interesting to see who got away without paying.

April 2022 has begun, and there is no sign of a cease-fire in the Ukraine. Announcements about Russian intentions are made but there is no way of knowing if they are true or false. Opinions about Russian progress are available on TV, Internet or in newspapers, often claiming that Putin "has lost" or is doing very badly. The world is waiting for something to happen to break the deadlock. But if any Russian politician were to "mention" to Putin that the fighting should stop, Putin would send him to the Gulag within minutes.

This war has nothing to do with "living space in the West"; a similar claim to this was once made elsewhere. Russia is 28 times larger than Ukraine. Does Russia need more land? The population density in Russia is 8.4 people per square kilometre, whereas the figure for the UK is 270 people per square kilometre. The highest figure in Europe is Belgium with 376. Russia, by comparison, is almost empty.

March 2022

By the 5th March 2022, several Ukrainian cities have been captured, although the Russians have not progressed as rapidly as they had expected.

February 2022

Ukraine: It now seems that Russian troops have advanced and that an invasion of Ukraine is taking place.

20/02/2022 Storm Franklin arrives. – very windy.
21/02/2022 (Monday) less wind – OK for cycling.
18/02/2022: Storm Eunice hits London: Storm Eunice may not be as important as events in the Ukraine, but it feels very serious. There have been winds up to 80mph or more over many parts of the UK (and 122mph on the Isle of Wight). London has been badly hit, with many fallen trees. The roof of the O2 Dome has been damaged; parts of the fabric covering have been shredded. Your Editor clearly remembers that the roof was expected to last for five years, but an enterprising Civil Servant arranged for a better grade of fabric to be used, offering a life of 25 years. Let's hope they have some spare fabric left over ....
The most important news is that Vladimir Putin may soon order an invasion of Ukraine by the 130,000 Russian troops massed along the border of the two countries. Or he may not do this, and he claims that he does not intend to. We should know soon.

Boris Johnson has visited Kiev, or 'Kyiv' as we now spell it, but the world seems unchanged by his visit so far.

The Prime Minister is in further trouble because he has accused the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while he was Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile.

The PM has announced that all Covid restrictions will be removed on 24/02/2022.

January 2022

The annual Lewisham History Journal (No. 29, 2021) has now been published and is on its way to members.

The end of the month, and no sign of the Gray Report. Both the Metropolitan Police and Sue Gray have investigated everything in sight, and both these parties appear intent on preventing the other party from publishing all the facts. Redaction is in the air.

It is very curious. It has every appearance of a "stitchup", but it isn't clear who is the stitcher and who is the stitchee. And now Mr. Johnson has gone to the Ukraine to tell Mr. Putin all about the illegal eating of cake.
Around the middle of this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in trouble for attending drinks parties in Downing Street, despite the regulations about social distancing and proof of being Covid-free. A report about these events, investigated by Sue Gray (a senior Civil Servant), is awaited. One such gathering took place while the Queen was engaged in mourning the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

January 1 2022: Knighthoods for Messrs. Whitty and Van-Tam, for ensuring, in the fight against Covid, that medical evidence is more important than political convenience. And there was Blue Sky today.. It is reported that today is the warmest New Year's Day since records began.

December 2021

Christmas has come and gone, with no onerous regulations about Covid. Many people now believe that Ommy-kron is less likely to cause serious illness. But that is what we all want to believe, whether it is true or not. What is undoubtedly true is that the weather has become unseasonably warm for the time of year, with temperatures up to 17ºC. But there is thick low cloud and it's rather windy, and we haven't seen any BLUE SKY.

Late December: According to France24 (a French TV channel), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday suffered a crushing by-election defeat in a constituency never previously lost by his Conservative Party, a result which raises serious questions about his leadership. Weeks of bad headlines turned what would normally be a routine victory in the safe rural seat – won by 23,000 votes just two years ago – into a shattering defeat of almost 6,000 votes, while surging virus cases have added to a sense of crisis. The UK leader's authority has also been clobbered repeatedly in recent weeks . . . . Clobbered? is 'clobber' a French verb? Never mind – They've got it about right.

We are half-way through December, and it now seems that 'omikron' has taken hold in the UK. Boris Johnson has announced on TV that one person has died due to this new variant, and plans for a nation-wide 'booster' jab have been brought forward. A vote in Parliament on "Plan B" (which may mean lockdown) is due very soon, and it is expected that many Tories will reject it, but it will be carried through by the Labour vote.

The Government now has a new problem to face: a party was held in Downing Street on 18 December 2020 that was rather rowdy, and 'social proximity' took place. Denials have been issued, but video evidence has emerged. Tabloid newspapers still have their uses. It will be increasingly difficult to persuade people to behave sensibly about avoiding infection if nobody is setting a good example.

November 2021

This is the month in which the COP26 Conference takes place in Glasgow. It seems to have got off to quite a good start, with many large organisations agreeing that they are emitting too much carbon dioxide, or methane, or whatever the latest culprit is.

The Government is having to fight a rearguard action against French fishermen, or French politicians, and allegations about corruption, and the deaths of 27 immigrants who chose to cross the Channel in unseaworthy boats.

But all that is forgotten because we have a new Covid variant that threatens to be more potent than any yet seen. It is called 'omikron', and threatens to ruin Christmas. If that is all it ruins, we may count ourselves lucky.

By general consent, it seems that we will pronounce it 'ommy-kron'. But engineers have always used lower-case Greek letters as symbols and names of variables, and your Editor has always said 'Oh-MY-kron', as everyone else did. Quite simply, 'o-mikron' means 'small-o', and we all know that 'micro' means small, as in 'microscope'. A South African gentleman on the radio yesterday accidentally called the new variant 'o-mega'; 'mega' means 'big', but 'omega' is also the last letter in the Greek alphabet – the last variant we can name. I notice that Boris says 'ommy-kron'. He is OK with Latin, but maybe Mr. Rees-Mogg could advise him. Mary Beard is also an expert on the ancient world, and she says 'oh-MEE-kron', which is probably nearest to the truth.

October 2021

All normal news took a back seat early in the month. The murder of Sarah Everard by a serving policeman was a particularly horrific event, and was then followed by the murder of a sitting Member of Parliament. But the Covid and political news cannot stop for such events, and we are back to hearing about the steadily rising number of Covid infections, and why it isn't serious. If we are being told facts that aren't true, then I suppose we should rate it as "fake news". By the time we work that one out, we are listening to news about the Budget, which can rate as "good news" or "bad news", depending on whether it is the Government or the Opposition that is announcing it.

There was some surprisingly warm weather in late October, known as "Saint Luke's summer", because 18th October is Saint Luke's day.

September 2021

A quiet start to the month, with emphasis on 'back to school' issues. There are the usual rumbles about ministerial incompetence, but the reshuffle may sort that out. Those most at risk from COVID are offered a third 'jab'; your Editor had his today. The flu-jab season is starting early, which is good news.

This month ends with a petrol panic. There are not enough drivers for the lorries that deliver petrol to filling stations. The Army may be asked to do it. There have also been problems with delivery of medical supplies needed for blood tests and vaccinations.

Anybody who is unhappy about the threatened closure of the Angerstein Rail Crossing near Westcombe Park will be pleased to hear that the closure will not now happen.

Also good news is the victory of Emma Raducanu in the tennis in the USA. Now she has a choice: a career in tennis, with (so I read) the prospect of earning up to $25m. sponsoring tennis-related equipment and clothing, or University and £30,000 of Student Debt. Difficult....

Basil Trott, who was born in Catford in 1919 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15 as a 'boy seaman', has died at the age of 101. He was the last survivor of the 'Battle of the River Plate'. More in the next Newsletter.

August 2021

There has been reasonable progress this month about normalising the behaviour of everybody (as long as they have been double vaccinated). However, the depressing news from Afghanistan has received most of our attention, and it will do so for some time to come.

July 2021

Waiting for 19 July 2021...and hoping for a PLAN B.

23/07/2021: We are now suffering from what has been called a "pingdemic". Anyone using the Covid app on their mobile phone may hear a "ping" which indicates they have been near somebody who has been infected. The correct action to take is to "self-isolate" for 10 days. But this has created staff shortages in shops and delivery depots which threaten to result in empty shelves for shoppers right across the Pingdom.

Under changed rules, pinged workers may carry on working provided they test negative for Covid. Daily testing is being introduced. Oddly, they can continue to work even if they haven't been vaccinated. Which is rather like downgrading the vaccination programme. The new rules will be applied industry by industry; these rules about what one may do (or not do) are becoming very complicated.

Mr. Johnson must surely think that being Prime Minister is much harder than being Mayor of London, when he could do whatever he liked, even if it was expensive.

11 July 2021: A choice of notable sporting events on TV this evening, including the Tour de France on ITV4 at 7pm. In 2020 the winner was Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, which nobody could pronounce. This year he has won again, and we can now say his name: 'Pogg-archer'. The race ended on Sunday 18/07/2021. He is 22 years old.

June 2021

30 June 2021:The end of a difficult month, during which Matt Hancock the Health Secretary resigned over a "Covid guideline breach" – an unusual name for the activity that caused his downfall. He is replaced by Sajid Javid, who deserves a second chance after the shabby way his previous job was taken from him. Hopefully we can return to a sober and logical way of deciding what the next step should be.

14/06/2021:The Prime Minister has announced that the 'end of lockdown on 21 June 2021' will be delayed for 4 weeks.

A naming convention for Covid-19 variants has been introduced. The so-called 'Indian variant' is described by the suffix 'delta'. But last week I saw the 'delta' variant described as 'a mixture of Kent and Indian variants'. And more recently, the 'Delta-Nepalese variant' has been mentioned. Maybe we need more precision. I also read (on the Internet) the question 'Who names the variants?' but it turned out to be the statement 'WHO names the variants', where WHO is the World Health Organisation. If it were renamed 'DOCTOR WHO', this would remove any ambiguity and would also please quite a lot of people.

Crossness Pumping Station: It is open again, but you need to pre-book. You should know that, in the Beam Engine House, a crack has been found in the ironwork adjacent to one of the main columns supporting the beam of the engine named 'Prince Consort'. The beam is, of course, extremely heavy. The engine cannot be safely run until the damage has been assessed and repaired.
To find out what's happening at Crossness, click here.

May 2021

The country is approaching what is hoped to be the permanent end of Lockdown. This has been made possible by the remarkable success of the campaign to vaccinate everybody. By May 20 2021, 70% of people in England have had a first dose, and 40% have had a second dose. So 30% of the people are completely unprotected. No doubt it could go wrong in many ways, such as new vicious variants of the Covid virus, or the wilful refusal of a sizeable minority to accept that the virus is dangerous, or that it even exists. The worst outcome would be a severe increase in the level of infection, combined with a lack of leadership from the government about the best course of action to take. And, as we already know, to delay the taking of corrective action can only make the situation much worse.

April 2021

To see the Only Lighthouse in London: click Here
Hairdressers open soon!

March 2021

Neil Rhind's new book, Blackheath Village & Environs vol. 3 has just been published. A full review will be published in our next Newsletter. The book is available via The Blackheath Society.

Frederick Lanchester has been mentioned often in our Newsletter. Chris Clark has now published his 4th book about this gifted engineer, born in Lewisham, who designed the Lanchester car. To see a short video about him starring Chris Clark and Sir David Jason, click here

This is the month in which Government policies about the Pandemic, opening the Schools and ending lockdowns seem to make a lot more sense, and the vaccination programme is in full swing. No more wishful thinking. Let's hope it all works.

Remember that the 2021 National Census will take place on Sunday 21st March 2021 (this month).

We are sorry to have to tell you of the recent death of long-standing LLHS member Leslie McCombie, after a short illness.

We now also have to report the death of Alfred W. Wood, a long-standing member and vice-president of the Society, at the age of 100.

We will include both obituaries in the next Newsletter.

February 2021

The Society has received a request from the Office for National Statistics, asking us to publicise the 2021 National Census, which will take place on Sunday 21st March 2021 (next month). You can take part online or by post; a letter explaining what to do will be sent to you.

A similar request has come to us from Lewisham Electoral Services, reminding us that Elections will be held on 6 May 2021 for the Mayor of London and 25 London Assembly Members. The deadline to apply for a postal vote in these elections is 5pm on 20 April 2021.

January 2021

December 2020

Good News! Our Website has been offline since November 2020, and is now operational again. To be dramatic, we've been hacked! But the Society's technical advisor thinks it's more likely to be incompetence (not by us!); our website is full of data and files that are nothing to do with us, and their true home is not known.
So please be patient while we sort out the mess. You have plenty of other things to think about.

October 2020

18/10/2020: There is panic in Westminster at the seemingly unstoppable rise in the number of people infected with COVID-19. There is talk of a “circuit-breaker” – a full-blown lockdown for 2 weeks – in the hope of jumping ahead of the virus. But if it takes 2 weeks to decide to do a “circuit-breaker”, the opportunity has been wasted and a second one will be needed to catch up again. Speed is important; currently, the Mayor of Manchester is in public disagreement with the Prime Minister, which benefits nobody.
04/10/2020: Large numbers of the Presidential White House staff are infected with COVID-19, and today we saw TV footage of his 'driveabout'. He has been criticised for this; his vehicle is completely sealed, and the security staff in the vehicle will almost certainly be exposed to the virus.
02/10/2020: It was announced today that President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. He has been flown by helicopter to the Walter Reed military hospital.

2nd October 2020:Cases of COVID infection have risen sharply recently, but these outbreaks are localised. In the North of England, a number of 'lockdowns' have been enforced, together with higher fines for non-observance (from £100 and even £1000). Universities have experienced outbreaks of such a size that large numbers of students have been told to self-isolate. A particular problem is the realisation by students that they will receive no education for many months, even though they have paid for it in advance. Many would like to go home and continue their studies on-line, and the rules may change to make this possible.

September 2020

11th September 2020:The emphasis is now on ensuring that children go back to school and students return to university. This is at a time when there is an increase in COVID-19 cases, which seem to be affecting the young. The rules about who is permitted to mingle with whom are still causing confusion, The advice (6 people maximum in a group) is the same for England and Wales, and hopefully soon for Scotland as well.

August 2020

25th August 2020:The conversation has now moved on to Education, and again there is discord. On the question of whether children should return to school, and also when they should return, the Prime Minister has put his foot down, stating that it is the moral duty of the Government to get them back to school very soon, because their absence from school will have a long-term effect on their education and chance to succeed in life, and outweighs the very small probability that they will catch COVID-19 (clearly confirmed by the figures).

There have been no A-Level exams this year and a method of estimating the performance of pupils hoping to go to University was needed. The method adopted seemed so unfair that the results were hurriedly withdrawn, and replaced with estimates of performance from the teachers.

3rd August 2020: Recent increases in the number of COVID-19 infections has led to a withdrawal from easing the rules on avoiding the virus. This time, a lockdown may be declared on a regional or area basis. There is a belief (hopefully backed up by evidence) that young people have been gathering together without giving much thought to the consequences. Equally serious: children will soon have received no schooling for half a year.

July 2020

24th July 2020: The Lockdown has been lifted, and people can now go out when they wish, subject to distancing rules (the rule is now 1 metre). The wearing of masks in shops is now compulsory. Cafés, restaurants and pubs may now open again, with rules about overcrowding. Without a vaccine, few defences are available, and we will see if the widespread use of face-masks can hold the rate of COVID-19 infection down. If there is a 'second wave' as winter approaches, 'local lockdowns' may be introduced. The Government has already indicated that a 'flu vaccine will be offered more widely than in a normal winter, to reduce the possibility of people suffering from both illnesses simultaneously.

Your editor is pleased to find that more members have opted to receive the Newsletter attached to an email (no paper or postage required; another rainforest saved). Also, a number of members have renewed their membership by direct (paperless) Internet bank transfer. Click on the "Join" section on the left for more details.

June 2020

We were sorry to learn of the recent death of Sylvia Macartney. She was a keen member of the Society from the early days of its formation. She was a member of the Study Group and a committee member. She obtained a Diploma in Local History (University of London) and together with John West wrote a book on the Lewisham Silk Mills and other articles and pamphlets. She was also a Lewisham Borough Councillor. She was an enthusiastic member of the Museum Team working on collating the collection at New Cross Library until ill-health made it impossible. She moved to a retirement home in Cardiff to be near her daughter last year.

Sylvia McCartney (on the right)

Readers of the recent June 2020 Newsletter will find active clickable links in the "News Links" section of this website to the various sites mentioned. All 8 pages of the Lewisham VE-Day Celebration are also displayed.

Future Readers and the Coronavirus

For anyone reading this in the future (Sunday May 9th 2030, for example):
The Coronavirus was first detected in China in December 2019 and caused a pandemic that swept the entire world, resulting in many thousands of deaths. It caused the disease named COVID-19 by the WHO in early February 2020. There was no treatment and little hope of the early availability of a vaccine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember him?), speaking on TV on 10/05/2020, told us about his Cunning Plan to beat the virus. It is rather vague, and it has left everybody confused. Stay at home? Or go to work? You ‘future people’ will know if his plan worked. Is there anybody there? It‘s your history as well.

May 2020

By 10th May 2020, the Coronavirus has infected 4 million people and caused 278,000 deaths. The nation has been ‘on lockdown’ since February 2020. This means that nobody is allowed to leave their house except for shopping and exercise. Social distancing (a space of 2 metres must be left between people) assists in reducing infection. Face masks are not compulsory. Many people have been ‘furloughed’ from their job and are living on grants from the Government. There is very little motor traffic. Buses and trains are carrying less than 10% of their normal number of passengers. Cycling has become pleasurable again. After a difficult start, supermarkets are managing queueing systems very well, with priority opening hours for certain groups such as NHS staff.

It now remains to be seen if the new slightly softened rules will allow a very slow return to normal life. Your Editor has simple needs: An optician. And a barber.


Lewisham Local History Society regret to announce that our monthly meetings are Cancelled until we are told that it is safe to hold meetings again. It may be weeks or even months before there is Government approval for a resumption.
It is possible that, with creative use of the Internet, something approaching a “meeting” could be arranged. Perhaps a “summer evening walk” would be thought acceptable. We will think about these possibilities. So please look at our Website regularly, in case we have good news for you. Any ideas are welcome. We don't want to lose touch with our Members!

March 2020

Open Days at the Crossness Pumping Station:Cancelled.

The Docklands History Group have emailed LLHS, as they regularly do, with news of their 2020 Conference that takes place on Saturday May 16th 2020.
This Event is Cancelled.

Gresham College have also been in touch about their series of free Lectures.
The Lecture on Wednesday 26 February 2020 was about Sir Isaac Newton and his London career. This clashed with our February Talk, but you can still hear (and see) it.
Future Talks; some are Cancelled due to the Coronavirus, but others will still be live-streamed.

January 2020

Lewisham Local History Society monthly Talks have moved to a new Venue in January 2020. See the new map by clicking on "Talks, Walks &c" on this Website, or read about it in Newsletter Nos. 216 and 217.
The first Meeting (January 2020) has now taken place and was very successful. There was a good attendance, the Hall is the right size for us, and it is well heated.
Don't forget that the the February meeting is in the Main School building. Click here to see the Map!

August 2019

July 2019

See News Links for more about Diana Rimel.

Sunday 7th July 2019
Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries OPEN DAY.

June 2019

We are sorry to have to tell you that Diana Rimel passed away in Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the 12th June 2019. Diana had fought cancer bravely for 5 years, but in October last year she suffered a stroke which paralysed her right side. Recently she developed a chest infection and was unable to fight it off.
Diana’s funeral service will be held on Thursday 18th July 2019 at 12:15 at Eltham Crematorium. We hope to publish more details soon.

On Friday 21 June 2019, you can join an evening of inspiration and celebration at the The Broadway Theatre and Studio Catford to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush.

April 2019

Lewisham Peoples Day is having a year off. It will be back in 2020.
Easter Painted Hall ticket offer – Buy One Get One Half Price! Take advantage of their reckless generosity: follow This link and use code easteroffer2019 at the checkout.

March 2019

31/03/2019: Crossness Pumping Station re-opens! The asbestos is gone and the new Narrow-Gauge railway is nearing completion!

January 2019

Free Tour of St. Mary's Church, Lewisham
Saturday 26th January 2019
Julian Watson will be leading a FREE Tour of St. Mary's Church Lewisham (Ladywell). We meet at 11am in the Church.

December 2018

John Kennedy Melling
The recent Newsletter Issue No. 212 (published at the end of October 2018) contained an article by John Kennedy Melling called "Gurney Slade". We now have to report the sad news that Mr. Melling has died.

November 2018

Blackheath Fireworks 2018
As reflected in the windows of a nearby house.

October 2018

Wings to Windrush
An Event to mark both RAF100 and Black History Month.
A FREE illustrated Talk at Manor House Park Library, SE13 5SY, Sunday 21st October at 1:30pm – 3:30pm.
For full details, Click here.
Click here for this month's LLHS Talk.

Local London Guiding Day 2018
Saturday 13th October 2018 is Local London Guiding Day. A day of FREE walking tours led by the highly trained, official tour guides for four of London’s most fascinating areas.
The theme for this year’s jamboree of free walking tours is COMMEMORATION 2018
For full details, Click here.

July 2018

Thursday 19th July 2018
A second Visit to the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College. We are invited to climb the stairs to near ceiling-height, and view the conservation work in progress at close range. Tour starts at 1:20pm. We meet at the Painted Hall.

FREE Summer Arts Camp for teenagers
Monday 30 July to Friday 3 August.

June 2018

Leland Duncan Grave Restoration 29th June.
Ceremony to mark the restoration of the headstone in Hither Green Cemetery of this well-known local historian.
Click here for details.

May 2018

Book Launch with Sabrestorm Publishing: 18th May
"Dear Old Blighty" by Mike Brown.
Author Mike Brown talks about the experience of civilians in 1914-1918 and the effect of the war on every level of society. Click here for details.

January 2018

Corbett Houses – New Film
Peter Ranken of the Archibald Corbett Society has been in touch with LLHS to tell us about a film on the life of Archibald Corbett who built the Corbett Estate between 1896-1913 in Catford and Hither Green.
LLHS members are invited to the première of the film at St. Andrews Church Hall on Saturday 20th January 2018 at 7pm. The Mayor of Lewisham will be present. Entrance is FREE. For full details, Click here.
For the Corbett Society website, Click here

November 2017

Book Launch

Julian Watson invites you to the launch of the revised and updated edition of his history of St Mary's Church, Lewisham. It will be held this Sunday 26th November 2017 at 11:30am after the morning service in St Mary's, 346 Lewisham High Street, SE13 6LE. Food and drink will be provided and copies of the book will be on sale.

Gordon Dennington
We have recently received news of the death of Gordon Dennington, who was a member of LLHS for many years. He continued to edit the Newsletter until quite recently. He died in Lewisham Hospital on 2 November 2017, after a short illness.
The funeral will take place on Tuesday 28th November 2017 at 12:45 at Beckenham Crematorium, Elmers End Road, Beckenham BR3 4TD. It will be followed by a Wake at the Bromley Court Hotel.

August 2017

Severndroog Castle
In early 2016, a Talk was given about the Castle on Shooters Hill. Your Editor recently visited the castle and took some photos, shown here as a Panorama. The view to the North is excellent, extending from the Shard to Canary Wharf and beyond. Click here to view. Maximise the screen, and scroll the picture horizontally using the scroll-bar at the bottom of the screen.

July 2017

Last month’s Talk
Last month's Talk (on Friday 30th June 2017) was given by Dr. Mary Mills on the subject of the Gas Industry in Greenwich. Towards the end of the talk there was a controversy about some of the facts presented. Dr. Mills has been kind enough to provide some notes that will clarify these facts.
Click here to read Dr. Mills’ notes.

"Lively Minds" at Forest Hill Library this month.

June 2017

Sunday 25th June 2017
Lewisham Armed Forces Day Annual Service

See “La Vie Parisienne” at the Bob Hope Theatre!
8th-10th June 2017! See LLHS member John Harrison live, on stage!

May 2017

The Hither Green Festival 2017 takes place this month.

April 2017

The Creekside Walk on Friday 21 April 2017 promises to be a popular event. We meet at Deptford Bridge DLR station at 2pm for the walk, ending up at the Creekside Centre at 3.30 for tea and biscuits. Book your place SOON.

February 2017

A visitor to this website pointed out (by email) that the Glue Factory in Ladywell Road was known as "The Neuk Laundry" when he lived in the area (1941-67). This Art Deco (or Faux Deco) building was demolished a few years ago, and has now been rebuilt. Go to 'Gallery' to see some recent photos, or Click here.

January 2017

On 3rd January 2017, a Talk was given at Bromley Local History Society about Amy Johnson, the famous pilot (aviatrix?) of the 1930s. It is noted here because of the many Lewisham Local History Society members who were present. The Talk was excellent, and very well researched, with photographs never seen before. Amy liked being famous but there were times when the strain was more than she was able to cope with. She died in a plane crash at the age of 37.

December 2016

This month's special Christmas Talk is on 16th December.

November 2016

Prefab Walk in Brockley, Sunday 13th November.
See Talks, Walks &c for details.

September 2016

“It's Prefab Time again!” – Again!
Armed with a well-earned £73,000 Lottery Grant, Elisabeth Blanchet and Jane Hearn are continuing their programme of Prefab Events - they are going national, starting in the Isle of Dogs.
A Guided Walk will take place on Friday 23rd September 2016, starting at St. John's Community Centre, Glengall Grove, London E14 3NE (near Crossharbour DLR station), at 12 noon. There will also be a Talk at 1:15pm and a tea party. There is no charge, but you must book a ticket in advance.

Lee Station 150th Anniversary
On 1st September 2016, a good crowd gathered at Lee Station at 10am to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the station in 1866. Mike Gibson of South Eastern Trains officiated, and we were pleased to welcome Heidi Alexander, MP for East Lewisham, as our guest. A special Lee Station Anniversary Cake was provided. Other attendees included representatives of Lee Manor Society and, of course, the Lewisham Local History Society.

The Lee Station Cake

Click Here for a history of Lee Station.

August 2016

The Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park Walk.
Following the recent Talk, a visit to the Ecology Park has been arranged, and takes place on
Monday 08 August 2016.
See Talks and Events for details.

May 2016

It's Prefab Time again!
Elisabeth Blanchet and Jane Hearn write:
2016 marks 70 years of prefabs. We are planning a few events to celebrate this unexpected anniversary (prefabs were only supposed to last 10 to 15 years). The first event will be on The Excalibur Estate at St Mark's Church Hall (Baudwin Road, London SE6 1RN), Saturday the 21st of May 2016, from noon to 4pm.
The exhibition and tea party are free. There will be a guided walk costing £5 pp (accompanied children go free) starting at 1.30 pm. You can book your place by emailing prefabmuseum@gmail.com. If you wish to bring old prefab photos and documents to share with us, please don't hesitate! We hope to see you on the 21st. More 70-year prefab events all around Britain will be announced soon!
Elisabeth and Jane
Click here to book your place.

March 2016

Want to be on TV?
On Thursday 31st March, BBC2 will be filming a Victorian market scene in Stratford. We are looking for members of the public, especially those with a tie to historic London, to come down and take part.
Click here to find out more.

December 2015

Medals and their Meaning
A Talk at Lewisham Library on 3rd December.

October 2015

LLHS Talk Friday 30th October
This Talk has been postponed until next year.
Instead of the Talk, there will be a "Show and Tell" evening.

September 2015

LLHS Talk Friday 25th September
given by his Eminence the Metropolitan Seraphim of Glastonbury

This was a most interesting Talk, describing the speaker's upbringing in the Lewisham area in the 1960s. His Eminence was involved in the setting-up of LLHS. His recollection of this period (1961-1970) is that there were no Newsletters published, and we can confirm this.
There may have been other publications, with names like 'Journal' and 'Transactions'. If any member has memories of such publications, or actual copies of them, the Web Editor would be glad to know about them.

Prefab Event 17th September
Film Show at 7:30
Catford Constitutional Club, SE6 4SP

Two films will be shown:
'A Place for Us' - the battle to save Catford's prefab Excalibur Estate.
' A House in Bayswater' - the last days of a West London lodging-house.
Free entry.

Autumn 2014

Fire at the Prefab Museum
At a recent meeting of the Society (31 October 2014) it was announced that there had been a fire at the Prefab Museum, and it would have to close immediately. Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing, and there is little news about what will happen next.
Elisabeth Blanchet, the curator of the Museum, is said to be 'devastated'. She is, of course, not only the Curator but also the creator of the Museum; she has been working on the history of Prefabs for about 12 years, and gave a Talk to the LLHS in January 2014. She has led tours of the Excalibur Estate throughout 2014, during which time over 2,500 people have visited the Museum.
Your Editor visited the Museum to see the damage. The prefab is still in one piece but the windows were blackened and there was a smell of burning. it is normally a cheerful place to visit, with flags, bunting and balloons, but these had all gone, and there was nobody there. Very sad. There was much "memorabilia" inside - newspaper cuttings, photographs, trinkets - of considerable value as it took years of work to collect it and put it on display.
For more details, Click here.

For the latest news (8/12/2014),
Click here
and also here.
Keep December 17th 2014 free!

Yesterday is now History

Materials from a Lewisham Archive
An exhibition at 310 New Cross Road that celebrates objects that we often consider expendable and throw away; plastic bags, posters for local events, notices about 'special offers' in shops. Open 10am-4pm until Monday 23rd June 2014.
For more details, Click here.

Doing the Wandle Walk

"The Walk (on Saturday 7th June 2014), joined by 10 members and friends, was a success, despite a shaky start.
For a full report, NOW with MORE pictures, Click here.

Welcome to Spring 2014

The Excalibur Meridian
Beryl Gibbs the Society Vice-Chair, during a recent visit to the Prefab Museum, posed the question, "Is the Prefab Museum on the line of the Greenwich Meridian?" Several persons immediately started to fiddle with their Smartphones and came up with answers ranging from "maybe" to "possibly" or even "probably". Your Editor took the engineering approach: a visit to Greenwich Observatory with a GPS device, and a subsequent visit to the Prefab Museum, showed that 17 Meliot Road is pretty well aligned with the stainless steel line in the Observatory that tourists pay £10 to stand on. You can stand on the Excalibur Meridian for nothing!
Click here for GPS info.

A visit to the Cinema Museum in Kennington on Saturday 12 July 2014 has been arranged. For full details, see "Talks and Events", and scroll down to July 2014.

More Prefab events have been announced. The Prefab Museum will remain open until May 31st 2014. There is a Talk and Tea party on Saturday March 31st 2014, with additional Tours in April and May. See “Talks and Events” for times and dates, or Click here.

The arrangements for the proposed River Wandle Walk are almost complete. It will take place on Saturday 7th June 2014. For more details, click on "Talks and Events" and scroll down to June 2014.

An extra Event has been inserted. “Every Picture Tells a Story”; is an exhibition of photographs by the late Chris Schwarz. See the Talks and Events page, March 2014.

The recent Tour of the pre-fabs was well attended (about 18 people, including 4 from LLHS), and included a viewing of the inside of several dwellings and a talk about the Estate. Your Editor took some photos and bought an Excalibur pre-fab mug. There will be another tour in Febuary 2014.

The Talk about the pre-fabs (January 31 2014) was extremely well attended, despite the foul weather. Ms. Blanchet has travelled widely in the UK, photographing pre-fabs, and there are a surprising number still in use after 70 years, although their intended life was only 10 years.

Latest LLHS Newsletter

The Winter 2013/4 Newsletter is now available, and contains news of recent events. One event is of great importance to the people of Lewisham - the decision to downgrade some services provided by Lewisham Hospital has been quashed by the High Court. Not yet history - but it will be unless we "watch the Government like a hawk", as the Newsletter Editor puts it.

There is a correction to the birth-place of Claude Rains, and a note about the novelist Joyce Cary, who was born locally. Excerpts from a "Mini-Guide" to Deptford describe St. Nicholas Church whose existence dates back to the 12th century. Christopher Marlowe gets a mention, of course. A further excerpt reminds us that the navy's "Victualling Yard" was located in Deptford. Sounds familiar? A Talk on this subject was given to the LLHS, not long ago. To find the details of this, click on "Talks and Events", which is now an Archive of all Talks from 2010 onwards. Instead of searching for the Talk the hard way, press Control-F and a small window will open. Type "victual" (without the quotes) in this window, and you will go directly to the topic. The longer the document, the more time you save by doing it this way.

Previous LLHS Newsletters

The Autumn 2013 LLHS Newsletter contained news of recent events that the Society organised or has been involved in.

Lewisham Peoples Day 2013 took place on Saturday 13 of July in brilliant sunshine, and there were a very large number of visitors. Some of them called at the Society's stall, and your Editor (who took some photos) saw more than one new member being signed up. Thanks are due to Tamsin Bacchus, Beryl Gibbs, and David and Sylvia Eley for organising and manning the stall.

A Riverside Walk took place on Sunday 21 July, along the Pool/Ravensbourne river between Catford and Sydenham. It lasted for 2 hours, and your Chairman, who led the walk, gave a summary of his extensive knowledge of the history of the area, which included topics ranging from gravel pits and floods to cricket and barrage balloons. Despite the extremely hot sun, a good time was had by all and a few decent snaps were taken by your Editor.

The latest Newsletter contains articles about recent Talks:
‘Monsters In Our Midst’, inspired by a recent talk to the Society by Alan Payne, relating to local film actors who played leading roles in Universal Studios ‘monster’ films of the 1930s.
‘Ralph Slater – Famous Stage Hypnotist’.
‘Birley House Open Air School, Forest Hill’, one of the first in the country.
‘Pageantry & Protests On Blackheath’.

The Society also looks forward to an expansion of activities in 2014, while stressing the need for volunteers (either members or others who would like to help) to organise visits, walks, etc.

Finally, our Website offers a method of publishing at low cost. No typesetting, printing, paper-handling or binding is needed. It doesn't replace the Society's printed publications but it can add to them. If you have been to a Talk and have something to add to what you heard, you can email us, and we may well publish your comments here. See the 'Contacts' page.