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  • Mike Brown

Sign of the times at Brockley Grove

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Before the latest lockdown, Father Bates of St Hilda’s church kindly lent us a box of old church magazines and other items. Among them was this photograph captioned ‘Old Cottages (corner Brockley Grove) coachman’s/ gardener’s cottages; Brockley Grove.’

In the centre of the photo, behind the trees, is a pair of cottages, named 'King’s Cottages'. Other sources, including Lewisham Archives, have their alternative name of St German’s Cottages.

Local census returns show that, from 1901 to 1921, George King, who was the gardener at across the road at Brockley Hall, lived at number 1. In 1901, George Lamb, coachman at the Hall, was living at no 2; William Burden, also a coachman, lived there from 1911 to 1921.

The photo below is a different view, along Brockley Grove. It is clearly the same cottages and that same tree, although the tram lines in the foreground show this second image was taken after 1911.

In the earlier image, the signpost in the left foreground says ‘Ladywell, Lewisham, Catford, Bromley’ – which makes sense for Brockley Grove. There are references in several articles from this period to 'the Ladywell signpost', in order to place things in the Brockley Road, and this sign could well be it.

In the background, on the main road can be seen a row of five shops. In the 1890s these were 1-5 Crofton Terrace; today, they are 352-360 Brockley Road, between the Rivoli (not built until 1913) and Holdenby Road.

On the extreme left are numbers 2 and 4 Holdenby Road, and the rear of number 1. There is also a blurred noticeboard (Crofton Park Estate?) on the site of what are now the shops between Holdenby and Hazeldon roads.

All this dates the photo between 1891, when Crofton Terrace was part of the Brockley Road, and 1898, by which time the shops between Holdenby and Hazeldon had been built.

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