DEPTFORD ARCHITECTURE

Route & what to see

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INTRODUCTION
Deptford had two centres of settlement - the riverfront and area around the church and at Deptford Bridge. The naval dockyard was established by Henry VIII in 1513 and brought people and prosperity to the town. In 1698 the population was 10-12,000 - only Norwich and Bristol were larger towns. However when the dockyard closed in 1869 (to become a foreign cattle market) the character of the area changed. Heavy and unpleasant industries began to dominate leading to a largely poor population living in deprived conditions. A number of philanthropic initiatives were set up to help local people. The neglect of Deptford meant that many buildings which might have been destroyed by redevelopment have remained. In more recent times a number of regeneration projects have improved the area.

Note that Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are market days when Deptford High Street is closed to traffic and lined with stalls.

Start from Deptford Bridge
The old tide mills were replaced by Robinson’s steam powered flour mill in the 1820s which was finally demolished following a fire in the 1970s. Some buildings of Mumfords Flour Mills (founded 1790) remain including a silo designed by Sir Aston Webb in 1897 which is being incorporated into a redevelopment as apartments.
The gin distillery operated between the 1770s and 1970s as firstly Goodhews, then Hollands and later Seagers. To the left of the original central building a former storage warehouse for Peppercorns was utilised by the distillery. The Lewisham College buildings replaced Gardiner's Store (the Scotch House) 1882-1950s and Noble's toy shop.

Left into Brookmill Road.
On the left was the Norfolk Brewery established in the 1830s and demolished for shops in 1909. Old properties opposite including the Golden Fleece pub and several lodging houses were replaced in 1902-3 by Carrington House and Sylva Cottages. On the ground floor of Carrington House were common rooms and on the five storeys above some 800 cubicles for homeless men. It was converted into flats in 1995 and renamed Mereton Mansions. Its railings are made from wartime stretcher frames.

Return to Deptford Broadway and go left
Noodle King was the Fountain pub dating back to c1700 but rebuilt in the late 19th century. The buildings on the north side include the former Royal London Assurance, Barclays Bank and Lady Florence Institute (now home along with other premises to the 999 charity). Numbers 9-13 were built as a Burton's Store in the 1930s. Peppercorns occupied several premises along here 1822-1916. New buildings on the corner with Church Street replaced the Odeon cinema designed in 1938 by George Coles and demolished in the late 1970s. It was similar in appearance to the Odeon in Woolwich which now serves as a church.

Left into Harton Street
On the corners are an old shop (once a cafe) and a former Westminster Bank. Further along are a mission hall and the Deptford (once Tideway) Telephone Exchange of 1934-5.

Right into Vanguard Street
Note the backs of the premises in Tanner's Hill

Right into Tanner's Hill.
Numbers 27 -31 built in 1728-30 are rare survivors of three roomed timber-framed houses. Wellbeloved Butchers is an old established business.

Go through to the main road.
The new shops set back on the left replaced the Broadway Theatre designed by WGR Sprague in 1897 and built on the site of a corn and seed warehouse at 'Agars Corner'. It was used as a cinema 1916-1963. To the left in New Cross Road is Addey & Stanhope School built to replace two charity schools in 1899 with a recent new extension. Opposite was the New Cross Empire (1899-1954/8). [
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Make your way down Deptford High Street
Until 1825 this was known as Butt Lane and was mainly residental. A number of old houses remain behind added shop fronts. Numbers 11/13 have a bowed front and ionic columns. Numbers 10/12 with terracotta panels were the premises of Tricketts. Although some pubs remain several have been converted to other uses. Numbers 63-67 were the premises of Bland & Phillips and later Marks & Spencers. Number 77 (Caxton House) was a ladies school 1820s-1860s. Number 70 replaced the Dean Stanhope School (built 1723) in 1882.

Left into Douglas Way
On the left is a cobbled footpath. The ALBANY INSTITUTE is now an arts & community venue but was established in 1894 to provide welfare facilities for the poor. Its premises in Creek Road were gutted by fire in 1978 and the new building replaced slum clearance in 1981.
www.thealbany.org.uk

Return to and continue down the High Street
Our Lady of Assumption RC Church was built in 1845 with additions in 1859. Just beyond this was the Mechanics Institute which later became a cinema (1908-15) then a billiard room before being redeveloped in the 1980s.

Go left to view the access ramps for Deptford Station.
The first passenger railway in London, designed by GT Landmann, was built in 1836 between Deptford (later Greenwich) and Spa Road (later London Bridge). The track was laid across four miles of mainly gardens and meadowland on a viaduct of 878 arches which utilised some 60 million bricks! Space under the arches was used for storage and workshops.

Return to and continue along the High Street.
The Salvation Army shop has a plaque recording that this was the site of the Quaker Meeting House (demolished in 1907) attended by Peter the Great during his stay in Deptford. Number 150 built around 1680 is one of Deptford's earliest surviving houses; its neighbour at 152 was rebuilt in the 1990s after being bombed in WWII. The White Swan was a coaching inn which between 1813-40 served as a court room and later included a music hall. Number 197 was built in 1910 as the Electric Palace Cinema. Number 227 dates from 1791 and for much of its time operated as a bakery. The Noah's Ark pub stood on the corner of Evelyn Street with the Harp of Erin opposite.

Cross Evelyn Street into McMillan Street
The Deptford Methodist Mission building of 1903 was reconstructed in 1956 following bomb damage. The McMillan sisters Margaret and Rachel did much for the health and education of Deptford people. The nursery school they set up remains but the adjacent college building was demolished and has been replaced with student accommodation.

Cross to ST NICHOLAS CHURCH
This is the original parish church of Deptford entered by skull & crossbone-topped gate piers with a charnel house to the right. The ragstone tower is possibly 14th century although the top was replaced after a storm in 1903. The church was rebuilt in red brick in 1697 by C Stanton and following bomb damage was resored by T F Ford & Partners in 1958. There is a plaque on the exterior north wall to John Addey (shipwright and local benefactor) and one to Christopher Marlowe (who was murdered in a nearby tavern) in the north east of the churchyard. Marlowe's death is recorded in the church register for 1 June 1593. St Nicholas House was built in 1926 to house workers at the power station. Tel 020 8692 2749.
www.deptfordchurch.org

Continue along McMillan Street and cross Creek Road into Deptford Church Street. Go through the path on the right into Albury Street (originally Union Street).
These fine houses with carved doorcases were built from c1706 by Thomas Lucas and provided homes for sea captains and shipwrights. Some on the north side have been rebuilt and only a few on the south side remain.

Left along the High Street to ST PAUL'S CHURCH
This was one of the '50 new churches' built in 1713-30 on the site of a market garden and 5 small houses. The Baroque style building by Thomas Archer is in Portland Stone with a semi-circular portico. The curved east end features a Venitian window and there is a north rose window by Alan Younger commemorating Father Diamond.
www.paulsdeptford.org.uk

Walk through the churchyard into Church Street.
Once a principle street of Deptford and the 18th century shopping centre this has now become a traffic artery. Opposite the church was the Trinity Hospital (almshouses) from 1670 until 1877.

Cross and walk through Berthon Street
At the end is the Laban Dance Centre designed by Herzog & De Meuron, architects of Bankside Power Station/Tate Modern. Constructed in 1997-2002 it won the Stirling Prize for Building of the Year in 2003. By day the centre’s activities are semi-visible through the colourful glass and translucent polycarbonate facade and by night it becomes a beacon for the area. The lime, magenta and turquoise colours are also featured in the internal ‘streetscape’ including a foyer mural by Michael Craig-Martin. Inside there is a 300 seat theatre, 13 studios of various sizes one of which can be made into a performance space plus lecture rooms, health facilities and a library. The garden has been landscaped into an amphitheatre and the building has a ‘brown’ roof. The cafe and some performances are open to the public.
www.laban.org

Right along Creekside.
The Creekside Centre organises school visits, holiday events, courses, walks (including low tide), leisure activities and projects. The building itself incorporates many ‘green’ features and a ‘brown’ roof. The covering of this and the area around the building with crushed rubble replicates the brownfield environment which is often lost to development but which is important ecologically. The attractive gates featuring flora and fauna of the Creek were designed by local artist Heather Burrell. The Creekside Centre occupies the site of the railway company’s gasworks which provided lighting to 200 lamps along the line.

Take the footpath alongside this building
To the left is the original railway viaduct and the (derelict) lifting bridge which would have enabled the track to be lifted clear of boats using the Creek. The new footbridge is a replacement for the Ha'penny Hatch which provided a pedestrian crossing for a halfpenny charge. The toll is no longer payable! Further along on the right is a view of the 1862 sewage pumping station by Bazalgette. Two beam engine houses are joined by a boiler house supplied from open-sided coal sheds.

Take the path back alongside the railway.
It was intended to build houses within the arches but they proved unsuitable and many are now used for workshops/storage. A tree-lined boulevard ran at ground level along the length of the track, of which only fragments remain.

At Deptford Church Street go left then right along Giffin Street.
On the corner with Church Street is the Wavelengths Leisure Centre. Deptford Lounge houses the library. The junction with the High Street marks the site of a funfair, closed in 1961.

 

References sources
Discover Deptford and Lewisham by Darrell Spurgeon
Turning the Tide (a Deptford history) by Jess Steele
A survey of Deptford's Georgian houses was carried out by NMR English Heritage. The reports are available at Lewisham Local Studies at Lewisham Library 199-202 High Street SE13 along with other material on the area.


london-footprints.co.uk 2015