Saturday, 3 November 2012

LIFE IN EAST GREENWICH AND ON GREENWICH MARSH
1950

By Arthur Cheeseman


The following account of life in East Greenwich - as it used to be - has been given to us by Rev. Malcolm Torry, of Holy Trinity Church, Greenwich Peninsula. He was sent it by Arthur Cheeseman, an old Greenwich resident, who now lives in the Phillipines
It was sent to him in connection with an church discussion he has organised on 11th - next Sunday - at Cafe Pura, in Oval Square - Remembering the Peninsula  by Jean and Peter Griffiths, who have lived around here all their lives, will introduce a discussion about previous residential and working  communities on the Peninsula, and particularly about the Peninsula during wartime. Plus input from Dr. Mary Mills




 Arthur says:
I’m writing this in no particular order: just as the memory works. I hope that it will help others to remember. 


Greenfell Street and the gasworks entrance
As a child I remember this area well. My grandparents (Father’s parents: he was born in number 28) lived on the Peninsula, and we had a lot of our relatives living in Greenfell and Boord Street, which were next to the gas works which where my grandfather used to work on the retorts. I remember that he always carried his shovel home and used to wear his belt with the buckle done up at the back so that he did not injure his arm on the buckle when shovelling.
 
Greenfell Street had terraced houses with the front doors in pairs. Most had two families living in them. At the top of the street was a post office and a fish and chip shop. I was too small to see over the counter, but there was always someone willing to lift me up for my two pence of chips.
 

St. Andrews - this is now O'Keefe's offices
The Mitre public house was next door. It laid back a little from the main road and had a road down the left hand side leading to the rear gardens.
 
On the other side between Greenfell and Boord Street was a transport cafĂ©, the Terry Arms. One of my father’s aunts used to run it, “Flo” I think her name was.
 
To one side of Boord Street was St Andrew’s Church where my parents got married in 1942


A tram alongside prefabs in Blackwall Lane
The trams used to run from Blackwall tunnel to, I believe, Greenwich market. The only bus that went through the tunnel was a 108a: it had one side of the roof lowered so that it did not hit the roof. The lighting for the road was gas, strung across on wires to the centre.

Next to the church, and it still there, is Dreadnought School. To the rear of the school used to be allotments . I have no idea what was there before the allotments.

Dreadnought School - now the Horniman Museum store




Blackwall Lane used to be cobbled stones (not kind to bike riders). Blackwall Lane was cut in half by Tunnel Avenue where it ran north to the river and the gas works, the generating station, and Redpath Brown steel works. This is where the Pilot public house is next to about 6 terraced houses.
 

The Pilot pub and cottages

Where Blackwall Lane meets Tunnel Avenue there was a small cafe (forgotten the name, it may have been The Cabin) and a horse trough made from grey granite, and it used to have water in it. Next to the cafe was either the Dutch boy or Blue boy bag wash laundry. Many a time I had to help my brother Ted to push the pram full of wet washing home ( - the fight we had about who would push and who would ride).
 
On the other side of the road was a firm that made housing block/bricks (hollow block or breeze blocks). They used to use the ash from the gas works (coke works). This is where I saw my first black man in the early 1950s. 
 
Before they were bombed out my mother and my grandparents used to live in Ordnance Crescent which used to run round one side of the tunnel entrance. There were a few shops, but all I can remember is a cafe that smelt of damp tea. On the other side of the tunnel was yet another pub called the Star. It closed before I had a chance to drink in it.
 
I can remember walking down the steel steps of the ventilation shaft of the tunnel and walking back on the half pavement to the arch at the start of the tunnel. If my mother had known what I had been up to I would not have sat down for a week.

advertisements for soap made on the
Greenwich Peninsula.
 
The riverside walk was a wonderful playground when I was young. It had a mini marina with small boats, mostly DIY type or made up from ww2 MTB craft. There was a tar barrel quay, and wood by the acre. I did not venture down that way because they had a large dog.
 
There used to be a train that ran down to the quay once a week to be loaded with timber and the tar barrels, which were very flimsy. It’s lucky that the tar was hard. That was part of my Saturday morning walk: down Horn lane, which had allotments to the rear of the gas works sports field, round the river down to Blackwall Lane, up Tunnel Avenue and home: that was until my mum got me a paper round at the ripe old age of eleven: 5 shillings a week - I was rich.
 
I forgot - there was a petrol station between Tunnel Avenue and Blackwall Lane, and on the other side of the road was the Telcon cable works and the council yard. This was on the left hand side of Tunnel Avenue after the  Blackwall Lane intersection.

There was a very large cement cistern left over from the war for emergency water supply. There was a group of about 20 prefabs, and just past the cistern was a row of cottages in a horse shoe shape. It may have been called Identerden cottages - followed by even more prefabs. There was a factory that made soap: the smell was nasty.
 
Well, that’s all for now - brain getting hot. Could someone let me know if I made too many errors?  Love and prayers to all,
A celebration in Riverway - the bit of road which ran between
The Pilot and the river - now disappeared
 
Arthur Cheeseman.    

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just read your blog Arthur. I lived in Boord Street from 1954 until 1974. Your recollections are pretty accurate. The horseshoe arranged cottages were called Idenden Cottages and the factory with the grey breeze blocks was called Cawoods.
There was also a green grocers in the parade of shops in between the post office and the chip shop.
There was a small corner shop on the opposite side of the road to the Mitre run by a woman called Mrs Grimsby. I remember going there with my Mum who would buy me a quarter of dolly mixtures when I was good.

Michael Root said...

Hi Arthur agree with what you have said and the comment made above.I was born in grenfell Street in 1943 and went to Dreadnaught School I have managed to contact a few people who lived in that area but would like to contact more if they read this.My father worked in the gas works when the war was over and I remember the gas works always had a big party around christmas time, I remeber going round to the Mitre pub when there was a Beano trip and waiting for the men to throw out some coins as they left. Who remebers getting the crackling from the fish shop?

Dean Wright said...

Hello anyone remember Lilian Taber my nan lived at no 14 grenfell st. 1938-1955

Dean Wright said...

Hello. Anyone remember Lilian Taber . My nan grew up at no 14 Grenfell st. 1938-1955 thanks