INDUSTRY IN DEPTFORD
- FURTHER EXTRACTS FROM CHRISTOPHER PHILPOTT’S STUDY
To the south of Copperas Lane were potteries operated by Thomas Slade and Isaac Parry in 1770 and to the east another pottery on the Creek shore. This had been established in 1701, run by the Willsons until 1751, and taken over by the Parrys in 1755. It became their ‘Lower Pottery’ and appears on drawings of 1841 as ‘Deptford Stone Pottery’ and ‘Lime Kilns’ . In the eighteenth century it made Deptford Ware including crucibles, and later chemical and sanitary wares, and moulded spirit flasks. It was empty by 1862.
Two small potteries operated at the former Slaughterhouse site on Harold’s Wharf until 1761 and 1800. One was probably run by John Hall in 1680. There were other potteries in Deptford to the west of Church Street c.1730-1800, on Tanners’ Hill 1804-40 and on Counter Hill c.1810-49. There was also a clay pipe factory on the west side of Watergate Street – and excavation of its dumps of wasters found mostly nineteenth century material, but also some pipes from 1650-1750.
There were tan houses and tan yards on the west side of the Creek in 1589-90. These were probably associated with the King’s Slaughterhouse, making use of its by-products and waste products. This is like the tanneries, with their distinctive pits lined with horn-cones, clustered around the slaughter yards of the Naval Victualling Yard on Tower Hill. In the nineteenth century there were tanneries on the east side of the Creek extending from the south part of the Pumping Station site to the Skillion Business Centre and the adjacent van hire yard.
Other early industries in the area include brick, tile, and lime manufacture. There were brickfields in Deptford in the 1570s and a bricklayers’ premises lay to the west of Deptford Green in 1716. There was a tile factory on both sides of Copperas Lane in c.1733-70. In 1753 it consisted of a mill house and a plain tile house on the north side of the lane and a tile kiln house, a pantile house and a lathing house on the south side. Other eighteenth century tile kilns lay on the west side of Church Street. Limekilns were attached to Parry’s Lower Pottery by 1840.
There was a brewhouse attached to the White Lion in Deptford in 1565 and two brewhouses in Deptford Town (ie. the Broadway area) in 1608. One of these was attached to the George Inn There were small brewhouses on the west side of Deptford Green in 1751 and on the Stowage in 1756-1760. Norfolk’s Deptford Brewery was first established at the end of the eighteenth century on the east corner of Brookmill Road and the Broadway on the site of a former timber yard, and continued until 1905. Some original foundations are thought to survive beneath the present building. There was also a Gloucester Brewery at Deptford Bridge from 1823-1914. Between the Norfolk Brewery and Deptford Bridge, adjacent to the Ravensbourne was the distillery of Holland and Company. This was established in 1779 and extended c.1880. This was one of the great gin factories of London, The lower central blocks built of brick and tile with an archway is listed grade 2. It is also possible that there was distilling on the power station site – by a Joseph Hales, identified as a distiller and who held land in that vicinity.
The tide mill was acquired by Christ’s Hospital in 1576 by the terms of the will of Roger Knot. In the 1570s-1590s the mill pond caused continual problems of flooding over 11 or 12 acres of meadow land, because the millers kept raising the height of the flood gates. It was especially dangerous when there was a strong flow of water down the Ravensbourne and it was necessary to co-ordinate the opening of the sluices with the Brook Mill further upstream to avoid flooding. The mill continued to operate on the same site until it was destroyed by flooding in 1824. It was re-built and taken over by J.H.Robinson who turned it into a steam-powered flour mill. In 1855 it took over the business of making ships’ biscuits from the Steam Bakery in Brookmill Road. The floodgates were still causing flooding in the late 1850s when they were described as ‘miserably deficient’. Later the mill buildings expanded towards Deptford Bridge and also covered the former osier ground on the east side (the Skillion site). The mill closed in the 1960s and was demolished after a fire in 1970. To its east Mumford’s Mill was founded in 1790. The present building was erected in 1897 and is grade 2 listed. There was also a windmill on the east side of the Creek until at least 1840 – approximately on the site of the Skillion Business Centre.
Brook Mill on the west bank of the Ravensbourne is documented from at least 1586. It was purchased from the Beecher family by John Evelyn in 1668. It was later taken over by the Kent Waterworks and rebuilt both to grind corn and to raise water from wells. It was demolished in the 1850s.
A large part of Deptford, however, remained pastoral or was used for market gardening from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. There were still market gardens in the Norman Road area and along the banks of the Creek were meadows