Wednesday 6 November 2019

Deptford industry

Further extracts from Christopher Phillpott's study

Areas of settlement continued to expand in Deptford in the early modern period.  The Broadway was still a focus of settlement in 1608 and the succeeding decades as it had been in the late medieval period.  Here the Old Draw Well stood in the centre of the road, later capped and replaced by the parish pump.

A row of brick and tile cottages survives at 19-31 Tanners Hill, stone terraced houses of a similar date at 17-21 Deptford Broadway and a late seventeenth century brick house at 47 Deptford Broadway.  Excavations at the Dover Castle (the site of the Christopher Inn) found post-medieval pits, gullies, drains, and a metalled area, and at the Odeon cinema site seventeenth century pits and a series of nineteenth century, brick lines tanks in garden behind the houses of the street frontage.  The Dover Castle and Odeon Cinema sites were intensively occupied in the post-mediaeval period.

In the early eighteenth century ribbon development along the Thames waterside linked Deptford to Rotherhithe and London.  Daniel Defoe commented in 1724 'the docks and building yards on the riverside between the town of Deptford and the street of Redriff or Rotherhithe are effectually joined and building daily increased.'

In 1701, the need for a water supply was answered by the granting of a patent to pipe water from the Ravensbourne.  The patent permitted the breaking up the roadways throughout the royal manors of Sayes Court and East Greenwich to lay supply pipes.  This was the origin of the Kent Waterworks site to the east of Brookmill Road which absorbed the site of the Steam bakery there in 1855, and the watermill in 1884.  A wooden sill from a water wheel race and nineteenth century wooden pipes have been found at the site.

A ferry operated across the mouth of the Creek from Hoy Inn Stairs then called the Peter Boat Alehouse in the eighteenth century.  Another ferry ran from the end of Horseferry Place to the Isle of Dogs until 1883.

The road from Southwark to the lime kilns at Blackheath was controlled from 1718 by the New cross Turnpike Trust which had a tollgate at the west end of Deptford Bridge.  Deptford was linked to London in 1748 by the roads of the Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Deptford Turnpike Trust.  The roads under its control include Butt Lane (Deptford High Street), where was a tollgate at the north end.  The method of repairing the roads was to lay large quantities of loamy gravel on them, resulting in hard baked deep ruts.  The Trust also cleaned and arched over many of the commons areas of the area.

Sixteenth century gravel pits are known to have been on the east bank of the Ravensbourne in 1535 which had gone out of use by 1588 and on the west bank at Gravell Pitt Meade in 1577 and later.  This is almost certainly the late area of gravel extraction which appeared on Rococo's map of 1741-6.  In 1671 the roadway was drained into the gravel pits by means of paved gutters.  Other post mediaeval gravel pits have been found elsewhere.

To the north of the Gravel Pits estate lay the Copperas lands where early dye and chemical manufacture was established by Sir Nicholas Crispe in the mid seventeenth century.  Crispe also experimented with growing madder (for red dye) in Deptford in 1680.  The works processed copperas stones of iron pyrites collected from the Kent and Essex beaches in copperas beds, trenches measuring 100 feet by 15 feet and twelve feet deep filled with rain water, to produce red and black dyes, A map of 1674 shows the coppris beds on the north side of Cooperas Lane, a littl to the asdt of th Trinity Almshouses.  In the south east corner of their enclosure lay the coppris Houses and further east a dock opening onto the Creek with a crane.  The property also included gardens and an orchard.  It continued in the Crispe family until the mid eighteenth century.  The works continued until the 1830s when the site was taken over by other uses.

A number if small pottery manufacturers were established in Deptford by the eighteenth century and possibly in the late seventeenth.  These local potteries producing domestic wares were forced into specialisation by the success of the Staffordshire potters in the eighteenth century.  They then made industrial pottery - sugar moulds, flowerpots, chimney pots and crucibles including the Deptford ware for which the town became noted.

Several of these potters were in this area.  One was situated at the north east corner of the power station site with access by a lane running north from the Stowage.  In 1737 it was occupied by John Westcott and in 1751 by George Westcott.  However, also in 1751 and later it was operated by Abraham Dalton who was still working as a potter in 1792. Some of his products were found in the backfill of a dock in the northern part of the area, they were mostly industrial wares of c.1650-1750 including sugar moulds and kiln props.

Another pottery began in the north side of Copperas Lane behind the tenements of Church Street to the south of the Trinity Almshouse.  In 1720 it was operated by John Timms, and was run by the Parry family from at least 1730 to 1891.  By which it time it was called the upper Pottery and had developed into four kilns.  Latterly it was operated by Gibbs and Canning until it closed in 1961.  Its north wall survives, consisting largely of nineteenth century flowerpot fragments, stoneware and crucibles embedded in mortar.  There are also paved surfaces and brick machine bases.  An excavation here uncovered late seventeenth or early eighteenth century brick walls and mortar surfaces, late eighteenth century brick walls and a nineteenth century kiln area.

This article appeared in the March 2001 GIHS Newsletter

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