Victorian East Dulwich Local History
Posted by Fizzy
June 30, 05:58PM
The East Dulwich area has been well researched previously in the excellent books of John Beasley, but as a lockdown hobby, I started some local history research of my own into Lordship Lane and the surrounding areas during the 1800’s. I have found some things hopefully of interest which I would like to share.
For some years, there was a mainly commercial area in Lordship Lane known as ‘The Pavement’. This commenced from the corner with Whately Road and extended northwards. In 1881, Nos. 1-8 The Pavement ran from where Bells is now, up to the corner with Bawdale Rd. The respective businesses were as follows: No. 1 (Bells) was a Draper, No. 2: Stationers; No. 3: Cheesemonger; No. 4: Bootmaker, No. 5: Unoccupied, No.6: Oil supplies, No.7: Unoccupied and No. 8 was Victuallers/Wine & Beer Retailer. This is where Franklins is, now numbered at 157 Lordship Lane and the former premises of a Public House named The Victory. The numbering of the Pavement then goes a little awry, but some other businesses in that location were a Baker, Children’s Outfitters, Tobacconist, Butcher and a Coffee House Keeper. There was even a temporary public library there later, before Dulwich College allowed a permanent one to be built further up Lordship Lane.
In the same year of 1881, there was a controversial debate going on regarding who was going to pay for the planned York Stone paving which was to line both sides of the highway to create a new street running from the East Dulwich Hotel (now known as The East Dulwich Tavern) to the Magdala Public House. (The Lordship). This stretch of road was described as a ‘standing disgrace to the Parish and impassable in places’. People had purchased land there, apparently believing that as Lordship Lane was an old Parish road and Highway, it would be maintained by the Vestry of Camberwell as in the past. But there was an argument that the increase of buildings had in effect turned it into a ‘new road’ and it was thus the responsibility of the building owners to fund the work. It would appear that particular argument eventually won the day and the poor old Ratepayers had to cough up!
In 1884, the East Dulwich Hotel (EDT) was up for sale after the death of its owner, one James Swain Gurney. Although licenced as the East Dulwich Hotel, it was known affectionately as ‘Gurney’s’. Described as commandingly situated on the corner of Lordship Lane and Goose Green, it came with a livery stable adjoining. The immediate area is described as being, only a short time back, one of mainly fields and market gardens with Gentleman’s mansions in grounds of great area. Now with those demolished, there were ‘thousands of middle-class properties’ built upon the grounds. Its excellent location was also admirably placed for Peckham Rye, well patronised by cricketers, and Champion Hill Railway Station (East Dulwich Station).
And finally, a great day for Lordship Lane on 17th July 1897, when the Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII) accompanied by his wife and daughter, was transported in an open carriage on his way to Lewisham, to open a new Fever Hospital. In the neighbourhood of the East Dulwich Hotel streamers were arranged across the roadway and “in all directions the tradesmen and private residents had made a brave attempt to give outward and visible expression to their loyalty”. The Pavement in Lordship Lane, described as being a busy centre of commercial activity, presented a most “animated appearance with flags, banners and Japanese lanterns all tended to impart colour and picturesqueness to the scene.” There were ambitious efforts at decorations close to the Magdala Tavern and the Fire Station and a large canvas bearing the words ‘Camberwell Greets You’.
I hope if people like me enjoy local history, they will find it interesting. There is a lot more out there!