I promised I’d return to the subject of Combe Farm and the second part of Barbara Ludlow’s essay at some point, but my trek over to Westerdale Road on Saturday made me think that before I get onto Victorian Combe I should tell you about a little part of the place that secretly still exists – not that the casual passer-by would know…
Take a peek at the picture above. It’s a house in Westerdale Road that’s somewhat different from the rest in the street in that it’s clearly got a little workshop-y bit – and a side gate from a time when houses didn’t routinely have garages. It says “Greenwich Village” and, if memory serves, at some point it was a stained glass workshop. I have no idea whether or not it still is.
But look to the left hand side of the picture. Down the little alley between the two places, there’s another building, tucked away, sandwiched between Westerdale Road and the Police Station. It’s impossible to get a really good look as it doesn’t actually hit a road at any point.
Here’s a picture I snapped whilst trying not to look suspicious, hanging around the back of the police station as I was…
I guess the big problem is that – well – who the hell bothers to record anything about outbuildings? It’d be like writing a history of a garden shed or a mechanic’s yard.
Look at how little info there is about David Beckham’s polytunnel on the peninsula. Not ten years old, and a construction purely for utility and economy, it’s never going to win prizes for beauty or architectural innovation – give it ten years – or even, come to think of it, try now - to find out the name of the architect (even if only to send death threats for creating such a monstrosity.)
And such is it with this place. It’s not that old in comparison to most of the Combe Farm buildings – only from about 1869-94. And it was clearly not designed to be enjoyed as a work of art. It was off Combe Farm Road (now Westcombe Hill, BTW) and part of a whole bunch of buildings that made up the farm, apparently right on the western edge of its land.
Philip Binns discovered that by by 1916, Combe Farm had been totalled by the massive development drive.
The occupant of 9-11 Westerdale was one Ernest Palmer who used the place as a laundry. I guess the fact that the building was behind a place of work made it useful to keep. It didn’t need to look beautiful; just to serve a purpose.
The Palmers kept the place until 1937, adding a car-hire business in 1925. Philip Binns reckons the closest equivalent to the building is in St. Alfege Passage where an old workshop has been renovated as a town house.
It would seem the application for the Combe Farm building in 2002 had much the same idea in mind. I’m told it was rejected – but that was seven years ago – it looks inhabited now.