Of Chapels, Dreadlocks and Harley Davidsons

Seamus asks:

“On the corner of Old Woolwich Road and Lassel Street there’s a white building that looks like a chapel. It’s been slowly done up over the 15 years I’ve lived here. Do you know what it was? A man with dreads and a big pink Harley Davidson owns it now.”

The Phantom replies:

Yes – I’ve been watching that project too – it’s been going on for yonks. I can only assume that anyone who’s taken that long to renovate/convert a place must be doing it alone in their spare time.

It’s certainly an interesting build – I particularly like the ‘fake’ top right-hand window as you look at it – it appears to open out onto a roof area – most curious.

The plaque above the door says “Marlborough Hall, 1895, and the doorway at the side is labelled “The Mission House.”
There’s a whole bunch of old chapels lurking around various side streets in Greenwich, most of which seem to have been converted to luxury apartments. They tend to have been fairly obscure non-conformist sects – the Victorians loved ‘em. I don’t have any real info about that one – that little area is particularly poorly-served for history books, but maybe someone here knows something more about it.
Online, the only real mention I can find is in Charles Booth’s Poverty Map Site where he did an interview on 2 July 1900 with a Mr W. Turner. This also points to its being a nonconformist chapel, since all the other interviewees on the page seem to be reverends, vicars, priests etc, but non-conformists probably wouldn’t have held with fancy names.

Sadly I can’t find a way to access the interview very easily – it would seem that only the archive catalogue has been digitised, but there’s a map reference – the colours imply the area was mixed – both comfortably-off and poor.

I’ve seen the guy you talk about, with his fabulous pink bike, revving it up around the back streets of East Greenwich. He looks as though he should be motoring somewhere in the American Mid-West – very exotic. Would we had more interesting characters like him…

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