Saturday 3 November 2012


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 café, 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.    


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?

Unknown said...

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

Unknown said...

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

Anonymous said...

Hello Arthur my mum Lilian Taber was related to the cheesemans/Bateman's her mother Lilian Maude Bateman was the sister to Minnie cheese man also a sister to rose seamans who lived at 28 grenfell street mums family lived at 14 lived there until Jan 55 then moved down to crawley aunty rose lived on opposite side of the road not sure of no mum also went to dreadnought school would love to hear from anyone

ruralsisisi said...


Does anyone Remember Mr and Mrs Cox/Fox at No4, my grandparents lived there from 1914 - 1941.


Unknown said...

Fascinating post, so hard to find information about that area now that it has changed so much.

I am looking for information about a tobacconist shop that backed on to where the gas cylinders were (or thereabouts), which was owned by my Grandfather, William Pyefinch circa 1930. I think he and my Nan may have lived above the shop. I have seen a picture of the Terry Arms that looks like there may be shops further down and wondered if one of them was it.

Paulene Stone said...

I am looking for information about my grandparents Joseph and Beatrice Stone who lived at 15 Grenfell Street from the 1920s until about 1970. The had two children Douglas (my father) and Beatrice. After the unsuccessful evacuations of my father and his sister to Hastings my grandmother relieved them and they all returned to Grenfell Street - my grandfather was in the RAF at that time. My grandfather was injured in the war and put in a makeshift hospital in Torquay and my grandmother and the two children went to Torquay to live whilst he was there. He later returned to the war but the rest of his family stayed in Torquay. Does anyone remember this family please?

Christine Newman said...

My Great Grandfather's brother. Thomas Skinner used to live in Tunnel Avenue at 17 Inenden? cottages, now demolished. He was a Stonemason and lived here with Louisa, his wife and four children from about 1908. Although it was such a long time ago, I would love to hear from anybody who might know anything about them or the cottages.

Kenneth said...

Anyone remember the Taylor's of No.4 Grenfell Street. My Dad was Albert and Mum was Dorothy. Brothers and sisters were Joyce, Albert and Derek and me Ken. We lived there from 1942-1964
Dad was a Docker spent a lot of time in the Mitre. I went to Dreadnought School and after to Glenister School.
Then we all moved to Wiltshire when we were offered new housing.
Not a lot left of the old streets but the Mitre is still standing.
Great memories, it would be interesting to hear from anyone who may remember our family.

Mark wingrove said...

I lived near Christchurch back in the 80s and always remember as a kid climbing into holy trinity church when is was pretty much demolished? Is this true as I can hardly remember now being that it was 35 years ago?
Remember going into the ship pub as a kid too

Anonymous said...

Michael Root.... your dad was Eddie Root? We lived at 46 Grenfell St my dad was Jack Ellis and he worked at tge gas. He had an allotment. We've got great old black and white pics of the Beanos waiting to leave. We can remember most of the names up the Street. Lilian and June Taber had a baby brother. Be good to hear back from anyone

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

hi I'm trying to trace my family my great grandparents William and Jane McGarvey who lived in 21 Idenden Cottage (does anyone have a photo of Idenden Cottages) and my grand parents Herbert and Irene McGarvey who lived at 43 Marlton Street thank you

John williams said...

Hi my name is John Williams. I lived in Ordnance Cresent. I was born in 1949 and did go to Dreadnought school. We moved away when I was 6. I believe we lived at number 11

C Hayden said...

My Grandparents Hairriet and John Hayden lived at no 9 Grenfell Street in 1925- my father Walter Hayden's birth was registered to that address. I believe John died a few years later and Harriett (formerly lillywhite) remarried. I would love to hear from anyone who remembers them.

ruralsisisi said...

Message for Kenneth about No 4 Grenfell St where my great grandparents lived many years. Sounds like your family moved in when mine left and passed on. I wonder if you have any pictures. It would be great to know. Hope to hear from you. SIMON.

Michael Root said...

Hi yes my dad was Eddie Root and we lived at No.13 Greenfell Street would love to see the photos of the Beano leaving the Mitre pub.

Michael Root said...

Hi I remember Jimmy Taber he lived over the road next the Mollisean work(don't know how to spell it) something like that and also the Whales lived there as well.

Michael Root said...

Hi Kenneth, I remember your brother Derek he played a banjo I believe,we played in a skiffle type band together for a couple of times with a guy who lived up in the Square and I remember your family as well.We lived at no.13 Grenfell Street with my grand parents will try and up load a school picture when I can work it out.

Unknown said...

Hi I was born at number 33 Grenfell Street, our name was Monks, we had an elderly couple who lived above. Tin bath, toilet in the yard and the gasworks looking over us. I briefly went to Dreadnought school, before it closed down. I remember the Pub, and a family called the Osbournes living next door, great memories, key left in door etc.

Unknown said...

I was born at number 33 Grenfell Street, I remember the old gas works at the back, tin bath, and the toilet outside in the backyard. I did go to Dreadnought school for a short while before it closed. Our next door neighbours were a family called the Osbournes. I think we moved in either 1965 or 1966 to the other side of Greenwich, to a new council estate in Thornham Street. I remember the Mitre pub and happy times, even though we were poor, like everyone else. Steven Monks

Michael Root said...

Hi I am Michael Root would love to hear more stories of Greenfell Street and Board Street I was at Dreadnaught School and my mother worked in the kitchen serving and cooking school meals, I remember Mr Kemp,Mrs Jacqus, and Miss Vincent and I think the head Master was Mr Brown can recollect a holiday we had on the Isle of Wight with the school,have so many good memories of my child hood in Greenwich. Are we allowed to put puctures on this site if so can you tell me how to add them. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Michael my mum is Lilian Coles nee taber her sister June Jimmy taber the came Michael sadly passed Doreen is the youngest sister please fill free to email me would love to hear more from you lived at 14 grenfell street

Michael Root said...

Hi Janet will e-mail you for a chat and exchange some stories re- Greenfell Street.Michael

Unknown said...

Hi everyone
Does anyone remember the Richardson’s who lived at 39 greenfell street. My mum was Maureen who lived with mum and dad Alice and Bert, and sister Rita and Shirley and brothers Ken, Ron, Tom. Would so love to hear from you x

Unknown said...

My mum said June Jimmy taber was her best friend at school, her name was Maureen Richardson. She lived at 39 greenfell street 😃

Michael Root said...

Hi yes I remember the Richardsons they were friendly with the Currens who lived opposite us I lived at No. 13 Greenfell Street,lots of good memories of living there,dont seem to be able to add photos of where we lived or I would up load them.

Susan Rae said...

Hello all, does anybody remember the Stanton family who lived at Boord street? head of house was Charles Alexander Stanton and his wife - Lydia Mary Stanton nee Lewis. They married at St.Andrews & St Michael’s Church now demolished. He was originally from Norfolk and worked in the gas works. They were living there in 1900’s and appear in the 1921 census. They had i think, four or perhaps five children. Does anybody know of them. They moved and are registered as living off Greenwich High Rd in the 40’s where Lydia died and Charles died in New Cross Rd in 1956.
Thanks very much and good luck to all in their search down memory lane.
Susan Stanton

Unknown said...

I lived in the flats at the top of blackwall lane my school was opposite the flats on the main road I used to knock around with a mate called Billy Madgwick hu lived in the gas work houses which were built over the tunnel I think Billy moved to Australia with his brother and his wife anyone know of him

Tom Martin said...

My late Dad (victor Martin, born 01/1943) lived in tunnel avenue, I think I recall number 222. I know he went to Dreadnaught School, he brothers are Tony and Michael.

Unknown said...

Hello everyone, this is so interesting. I came here in the hope that anyone would know of Annie Elizabeth and William Ling? They lived at 11 Marlton Street from around 1911 for a long time. They had 17 children I think and William was a boiler makers holder up at the gasworks. It would be amazing if anyone knows anything about the family, my great grandma died in 1967.

Joyce Margaret Dawson said...

Info on IDENDEN Cottages
for Christine Newman posted 31:10 : 2016
'Unknown' posted 5:3: 2018
The cottages were named after my great grandfather,s brother
John Idenden who had prevously built
Idenden TERRACE on this same sight.
Lots more info to hand.
Joyce D formally Idenden

Unknown said...

Hi Michael,apologies for the delayed response. My dad used to service your dad Eddie's vehicle. Ron Eaton. Three generations of us all lived in Grenfell Street until the early to mid 60s. I previously replied on behalf of my mum Jackie re your dad Eddie and mentioned the Beanos. Please email me and i can put my mum in touch with you. Need to dig the photos out.

Michael Root said...

Hi Tom Martin, so sorry to hear about your father I remember him well was in the same class as him at Dreadnaught school and I think I have a class picture some where with him in it, would be greta to hear from you. Michael Root

Don Hunter said...

Nice to read that Arthur’s Grandfather was born in No. 28. I too was born there in 1935 and my sister in 1930. Most of my maternal family lived at various numbers in the street from the late 1800s onwards all being born at No. 25.
Don Hunter

William Madgwick said...

Hi i am Bill Madgwick I lived in Greenwich in the gas board house. I live in New Zealand

Michael Root said...

Hi, All lovely to read all your comments regarding Greenfell street and Dreadnaught School, keep the memories coming. I lived at 13 Greenfell Street next to the Lawsons and Mr stone lived next door although we did not see much of him as he kept himself to himself.I f anyone has pictures of where we lived please publish them or let me know how we do it. look forward to hearing from you all. Michael Root.

Unknown said...

Great article Arthur
My name is John Chandler, I was born at 3 Greenfell Street and went to the Dreadnought School. There were two families in our house.
One of the comments posted earlier is from no.33 Monks, I was friends with David Monks when we were kids.
By the entrance to the tunnel adjacent to the horse trough there was a pub called the Star In The East. The arch over the entrance to the tunnel was occupied by a family called Alcock, not sure if that is the correct spelling. The arch is still there but has not been used as living accommodation for many years now.
My grandfather worked in the gas works digging out the sulphur filters, and my uncle was a crane driver there.

Michael Root said...

Hi John,I lived at 13 Greenfell street and was born there in 1943 and lived there till the 1960's, reference the above my father worked in the gas works and also carried out the digging of the sulpher filters my goodness there was an awful smell of rotten eggs that came from it. Would like to hear from others that went to Dreadnaught School and see any pictures of the area, really fond memories of my child hood living in the street.Look forward to hearing from everyone. Mick Root.

Anonymous said...

My name is Trevor Rainey and I used to live in grenfield Street number 6 in 1974 dose any one remember

Anonymous said...

Mu grandfather when a child lived at 44 Grenfell street in the early 1900s with his 2 brothers.
His name was Harold Gilham