In 2011 we began working on a project with the people of Walworth SE17 to remember and capture the history of the local area.
Put It On The Map is a project that invited local residents to help us rename our streets and buildings when the Aylesbury Estate began redevelopment.
Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
John Markham was the Rector of St Peter’s Walworth between 1937 – 1943. He was initially cynical about Walworth’s population and was strongly against the war but, as he says, “we just had to get on with it”. During the war his feelings towards Walworth’s residents was changed by their displays of resilience and dignity. The crypt at St Peter’s was used a shelter for local people. At the end of the war John Markham received the British Empire award for his efforts.
This is Louisa Caroline Stowe, wife of Harry Stowe Man. They lived in Walworth in the 1840s and had 11 children together, the first 6 of whom were christened at St Peter’s church. Harry’s family began as barrel makers working on the Thames and they have gone on to be one of the largest global financial service companies in the world. They also sponsor the UK’s biggest literary prize, the Booker.
In 2008, there were 27 fatal stabbings of young people in London. David Idowu was one of the victims of an unprovoked attack and died after being stabbed in Tabard Gardens. David was concerned about knife crime and had been due to speak at a youth forum for young leaders in Southwark about it. As a result of his death David’s family and voluntary groups in Southwark started Action SE17. This has brought funding into the area to successfully run projects to help stop young people getting involved in crime.
Before the Elephant came the Mammoth! Did you know that the bones and teeth of a prehistoric Woolly Mammoth were found under Hillingdon Street, just off the Walworth Road?
R. White’s, the famous soft drink makers had a home along Albany Road. Their drinks have been produced for over 150 years. Robert and Mary White produced the first R. White’s lemonade in the factory in 1845. They made a home in Walworth in 1891. From 1891 until when the factory closed in the 1970’s they employed hundreds of local people and made gallons of lemonade, ginger beer, and orangeade known as “Aurora” and they still make drinks today!
Keib Thomas worked for many years to combat gang murders, counter-terrorism and on difficulties facing newly arrived communities. Although he was an atheist, he was convinced that the solution to these problems was to work with faith groups. He was born and raised in Wales, but moved to London to work for seven years on the soup run for the homeless charity St Mungo, followed by a community work jobs spanning 27 years in Southwark. He went to India once every year, to work on international development projects each December. He ashes were spread over the Himalayas.
Dr John Crane was a GP on the Aylesbury Estate for many years. He was also the club doctor at Arsenal FC for over 30 years and for the England football team where he travelled with them to the World Cup in Mexico ’86, Italy ’90, France ’98 and Japan / South Korea 2002. In 1998 he banned the national players from eating Baked Beans, replacing them with healthier food. He loved all sport, particularly football. When he died the Arsenal team wore black armbands. For many years he lived opposite Burgess Park where his family still live today with walls full of memorabilia, signed shirts, tickets and photos.
Lloyd Honeyghan was a Jamaican born British boxer. He was WBC/WBA & IBF welterweight champion from 1986 to 1987 and WBC welterweight champion from 1988 to 1989. He stunned the boxing fraternity when he beat Donald Curry in September 1986, before the fight Curry dismissed him asking, “Who is this ragamuffin?”. Honeyghan adopted the title ‘Ragamuffin Man’ with relish. He disagreed with the WBA’s rules that allowed fights to take place in apartheid South Africa, he publicly dumped the WBA Welterweight belt into a London bin, relinquishing the title rather than defending it against South African Harold Volbrecht. This move proved significant, as soon after, the WBA stopped sanctioning fights held in South Africa.
Everything Harry Cole ever did was done in Southwark. He was born in Bermondsey and left school during the war when he was 14. Harry became a cricket-bat maker, soldier, stone mason and eventually, in 1952, a policeman. For thirty years he served in Walworth at Carter Street station. He had SO many stories to tell that he eventually published 11 books about his time as copper in Walworth. In 1978 Harry was awarded the British Empire Medal for voluntary work. Harry Cole was an old fashioned Bobby who loved to serve the people of SE17.
Walworth born Herbert Stead set up Goose Clubs as a way of saving for local people. The clubs meant that people could save a little bit of money each week so they would have enough money to buy themselves a decent Christmas dinner – a real goose and all the trimmings. The club was so popular that its membership grew to almost 10,000 members.
I am Mary Ann Girling. I was visited by a blinding apparition in my bedroom. Soon, I was preaching around the fields and street corners. I preached celibacy, with men and women living communally as brothers and sisters, all goods to be owned, and tasks to be performed by the group. In a railway arch in SE17 we founded the Walworth Jumpers. It was here I realised myself as divine, and not just as a messenger of the Second Coming. On one occasion I was assailed by ‘a crowd of women fearful lest their husbands should be converted and become dead to them in the flesh’. In 1872 the jumpers came with me to the New Forest where we lived and worshipped in a stable-cum-chapel and cultivated vegetables. I forbade buying and selling, which proved a highly impractical stance that saw us unable to settle our bills and we were brutally evicted on to the roadside at the end of 1874. “The Lord will provide,” I said – but perhaps His attention was elsewhere that day.
Charlie Chaplin was born in East Street to two music hall performers, Charles and Hannah Chaplin. Charlie had a rough early life. His parents separated before he was five years old. His mother then struggled to make a living. Charlie first appeared on stage at the age of five when his mother was unable to complete her act and she had a mental breakdown when he was nine, eventually ending up in an asylum. Charlie’s father was an alcoholic and, although he became a successful businessman, eventually owning a number of public houses, he died when Charlie was twelve. Charlie went to schools in Kennington Road, Hercules Road and Sancroft Street, and is said to have lived in the following premises in the Kennington and Walworth areas:
• 39 West Square
• 92 Barlow Street
• 39 Methley Street (said to be the inspiration for the setting of The Kid as well as the home of the blind girl in City Lights)
• a one room garret at 3 Pownall Terrace, Kennington Road
• 287 Kennington Road, where there is a plaque remembering him.
Fred Karno and Company occupied three converted villas on Vaughan Road, Camberwell known as the ‘Fun Factory’ and it was as a vaudeville comedian with Karno that Charlie was to eventually travel to the United States in 1910 and finally secure his escape from a life of poverty and deprivation. The movie industry awarded Charlie two special Oscars, in 1928 and 1972, and he was knighted by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1975.
Arment’s first Eel & Pie house was started in 1914, the year of the Great War, by Mrs Emily Louise Arment and her husband William Peter Arment when they purchased an eel & pie house at 386 Walworth Road from the Evans family. Together with Liz, Emily’s sister, they successfully ran Arment’s Eel & Pie House. As Emily’s and William’s children grew up, they too went into the family business. William died in 1931 and Emily continued to run the business until her death in 1945, when it was handed down to her son William, otherwise known as Bill. Despite rationing and staff shortages as men were sent to war, Emily and Bill managed to keep the shop open, improvising by selling soup. Bill Arment, who married Rita Coats in 1957, owned and managed the shop for many years, later being assisted by his sister Glad and her husband Vic Waller. The business enjoyed great expansion in the 1960s and two further shops were opened, both of which were in the Walworth Road area. Glad and Vic managed the shop at 10 & 12 Westmoreland Road and saw the business relocated across the road to bigger premises at Nos. 7 & 9 in 1979. They continued to run the Eel & Pie House until the early 1980s when they semi-retired, not fully retiring until 1996. Bill’s son Roy, who was already working in the family business, took over the day to day running in 1982, and when he married in 1983, his wife Cheryl joined him. Roy and Cheryl now own and run the Eel and Pie House, upholding the Arment family’s reputation for producing traditional steak pies to original recipes handed down through generations, maintaining the highest quality at a very reasonable price.
Cricket found a home in Walworth in 1796. George Arum founded the Montpelier Club and a first class venue to play in was built here in SE17. The Montpelier team lost its first match but grew stronger, playing well in all the seasons until 1806. Many star players went off to fight in the Napoleonic wars so were not only cricketing but war heroes. In 1845 70 of our members supported the motion to form a Surrey Club at a meeting held at the Horns Tavern in Kennington. The Oval would not be a cricket ground without us.
Charles Babbage (1791-1871) was an English mathematician, analytical philosopher, mechanical engineer and (proto) computer scientist who originated the idea of a programmable computer. Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, working from Babbage’s original plans, a difference engine was completed, and functioned perfectly. It was built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, indicating that Babbage’s machine would have worked. Nine years later, the Science Museum completed the printer Babbage had designed for the difference engine; it featured astonishing complexity for a 19th-century device. Charles Babbage was most likely born at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth Road, London. A blue plaque on the junction of Larcom Street and Walworth Road commemorates the event.
Burgess Park was once the home of the Grand Union Canal. From 1806 wood traveled up the canal from Bermondsey and Coal would travel down it serving the big gas works on the Old Kent Road. The Grand Surrey Canal was the first to have canal police, forerunners of the British Transport Police, known as ‘Bank Rangers’. They were appointed in 1811 to keep law and order along the length of the canal. The Camberwell basin and the final 500 yards of the canal were abandoned in the 1940s, and had been filled in by 1960. It now forms part of Burgess Park and most of the Peckham branch is now a green walk.
James Buckingham built an enormous telescope at his engineering works on Walworth Common. He joined a band of amateur astronomers and built amazing lenses and mirrors in order to see into space. He was responsible for discovering several stars. In 1862 – that was no mean feat!
Jessie Burgess lived most of her life on Wells Way. She was the first female mayor of Camberwell and was mayor during the second world war. It is important to remember just how badly this part of London was bombed during the Blitz. The bombing caused such terrible damage and destroyed so many families. As mayor, Jessie Burgess tried to offer support to those families and make sure that the government did not forget about the people in Walworth. She might already have a park named after her but perhaps choosing Burgess Street is a way of remembering all those that were killed in this area in the 2nd world war.
This is The Rev. James Butterworth (1897-1977). He was best known for his work in Walworth and the establishment of Clubland in 1932. Butterworth set out to reach young people and believed they deserved good quality facilities. Their activities and clubs should be housed in attractive buildings both functional and beautiful. They also deserved the best equipment. Clubland had large separate clubs for boys and girls and older members organized on ‘a specially thought-out system of self-government’. Butterworth was an able fundraiser and he got the support of notable celebrities such as Bob Hope (who was originally from south London), John Mills, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. He even appeared on ‘This is Your Life’ in 1955.
Octavia Hill was a woman ahead of her time. An artist and a radical, a pioneer of affordable housing and known as the founder of modern social work. She co-founded the National Trust which today protects over 300 historic properties and keeps 250,000 hectares of land open to all. The Settlement Movement (living in poorer communities) grew directly out of her work. Ocatvia Hill is also responsible for the building of the streets from Liverpool Grove to Portland Street which were built in 1906. She also started The Women’s University Settlement (today called the Blackfriars Settlement) that continues to serve local communities. Octavia’s vision of what communities and housing should be needs to be taken into the new Aylesbury.
Anthony Severin MBE was part of the Windrush generation. Many people came from the Caribbean to work in London after the war. They mainly worked as cleaners, factory workers and performed all kinds of manual labour. Anthony came from Trinidad and worked with pride at his job of a London bus conductor on the number 12. People would let buses go past just to wait for his bus as they loved travelling with him. He was considered so helpful and good at my job that I was awarded the people’s choice MBE in 1994. He went to Buckingham palace on his double decker to collect the award.
Look at me. You know my face. You would have seen it hundreds of times. I am Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal. I lived from 1829-1862 my family moved to Southwark in 1831. I became the Muse of the artist Rossetti. He said of me “a most beautiful creature with an air between dignity and sweetness with something that exceeded modest self-respect and partook of disdainful reserve; tall, finely-formed with a lofty neck and regular yet somewhat uncommon features, greenish-blue unsparkling eyes, large perfect eyelids, brilliant complexion and a lavish heavy wealth of coppery golden hair”. He painted me for years and taught me art and poetry. You would also have seen me in Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ (1852). I floated in a bathtub full of water to model the drowning Ophelia. Millais put lamps under the tub to warm the water. On one occasion the lamps went out and the water slowly became icy cold. Millais was absorbed by his painting and did not notice. I did not complain. After this session I became very sick with pneumonia. As I came from a working-class family Rossetti, who was now my fiancé, feared introducing me to his parents and his sisters made our life very difficult. The knowledge that the family would never approve the wedding contributed to Rossetti putting it off. I also think that Rossetti was always seeking to replace me with a younger muse, which contributed my depressive periods and ill health. Finally in 1860 he married me. I was carried down the aisle. I was convinced that he would leave me and tried to numb the pain of the long engagement with laudanum. When I died he buried with me a book of love poems.
Totters were rag and bone men, the original recyclers. These men and their horses would travel all over London, looking for old rags, furniture and stuff that people had thrown away. They would then sell it onto other people. A lot of the old clothing would be sold on Westmoreland Road Market on a Sunday. There would be hundreds of people there every week. At a time when people didn’t have much at all, totters provided the opportunity for people to get the things they needed for themselves and their families.
My firm designed the Aylesbury Estate in 1963. We were dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. The estate was seen as a ‘quick-fix’. Initially, they were welcomed, and their excellent views made them popular living places. Later, as the buildings themselves deteriorated, they grew a reputation for being undesirable, and many tower blocks saw rising crime levels, increasing their unpopularity. The new designs included not only modern improvements such as inside toilets, but also shops and other community facilities within high-rise blocks. The streets were for cars and the walkways for people. The estate was the largest in Europe at the time.
In 1914 the American Margaret Sanger launched ‘The Woman Rebel’, an eight page monthly newsletter promoting contraception with the slogan “No Gods and No Masters” (and coining the term birth control) and that each woman be “the absolute mistress of her own body”. She was indicted for violating United States postal obscenity laws in August 1914, but jumped bail and fled to England under the alias ‘Bertha Watson’. Along with Charles Drysdale she founded the first UK birth control clinic, which was based in SE17.
Remember the families who came to Southwark over the years to make a living and bring the best of their homeland with them. There were many Italians in Southwark. Some were deported during the war as “undesirables” and lost their lives after the SS Arandorra Star was bombed by a German U-Boat. One of these families was the Roffo Family. They opened Roffo’s ice cream stall at the end of East St market. They made the best vanilla and lemon ice cream. They served the people of Walworth for many years, never revealing the secret recipe for their wonderful ice cream.
Herbert Stead was a social reformer and campaigner who started the battle for a state pension in Walworth. After 10 years campaigning and holding meetings in East Street and Walworth Road, the first Old Age Pensions were given to people over 70 who earned less than £21 a year. People who had criminal records or were ‘habitually drunk’ did not get it. The first Old Age Pension was five bob (or five shillings – the money used at the time) and was first issued in 1909. We have a Stead Street in his honour but let’s remember what he said, “The old ought to be comfortable, independent and with the power to give as well as to receive; how precious our old age is” by naming a road Pension Street!
It is hard to believe when you look at the history of Walworth that it was once home to open grazing land for animals and then a fantastic botanical garden. The land was rich and everything from fruit to flowers blossomed here. In 1792 the florist James Maddock grew the first Double Narcissus in England.
I am Prince Ras Monolulu – I was born Peter Carl Mackay in 1881 on the Island of St Croix in the Virgin Islands, West Indies. I was something of an institution in the Horse racing scene from 1920 until I died in 1965. I was often seen down East St market selling my racing tips to the people of Walworth. My family were horse breeders and racers. I was also the first black face on the BBC back in 1936 on the very first day of British television broadcasting.
Sidney J Marsh was a former Dulwich College boy who worked in the City and lived in Walworth. He was also a Walworth scoutmaster and often took the scouts on excursions out to the country and on sailing trips. One trip didn’t end so well. On the 4th of August 1912 the scouts were on the river near Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey. The boat tipped and the boys plunged into the water. Marsh did what he could to retrieve the lads from the water but sadly nine boys, all but one of them from Walworth, didn’t come home. It was a nationally recognised tragedy and when their bodies were bought back to London people lined the streets to mourn together. One of the lads lucky enough to be rescued by Sidney Marsh went on to have a family of his own and David Beckham is one of his ancestors.