East Greenwich Memories

Nick asks:

“As an ex-Greenwich resident (now living in deepest Cambridgeshire, near the Norfolk border), I still wander around my home town, albeit with the aid of Google street view!

I’m wondering if some of your more senior readers can remember the shops that were displaced by the building of the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach, and the streets that were cut in two by it ?

I lived in Ormiston Road (Number 1 on the groovy map I’ve put at the bottom; click and drag it to see the rest…)  (just behind Westcombe Park Station) from 1956 until 1973, and I can remember the area quite well, but I’m wondering if some of your readers can add their memories of the building of the road ?

Here’s what I remember…….

Coming down Westcombe Hill from the Blackheath direction, the first shop you saw was a large newsagent and confectioner (I think) on the corner of Humber road. It is now split in two shops, a food and wine store, and a hairdressers.

On the other corner of Humber Road was a large shop (now a dry cleaners), which I think sold garden supplies, but my memory is faint on this, because I was always lured to the small shop next door, which was a junk shop, which sold lots of army surplus stuff, (2) which was in plentiful supply in the 1950′s and 1960′s. This is now not a shop at all, but seems to be a private dwelling. I seem to remember that the junk shop was run by an old(ish) man who was rather grumpy, which may or may not be due to the fact that he was often pestered by kids like me !

Immediately opposite was another corner, because Bramshot Avenue came out here, with a large yellow Co-Op store. This area is now grassed over. Further down on the left, on the corner of Station Crescent, was another tobacconist and confectioner, which is now a private house, painted pale yellow. Where the wheelie bins now stand in the front garden was a wall with chewing gum and cigarette machines.

On the other side of the railway bridge, little of the original Westcombe Hill Remains. Before the coming of the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, there was a disused railway line which ran parallel to the road at the bottom of the hill on an embankment on the right hand side, but there were also some more shops, of which I can remember a fish & chip shop on the left, and on the right a cycle shop, a greengrocers, and (another one of my favourites) a hobby shop which sold all sorts of stuff from toy models for boys, and DIY jewellery for the girls. This was the last shop on the right.

Of course, the very bottom of Westcombe Hill and the railway embankment and line is still there (3) – but it’s now called Farmdale Road, a road which was cut in half by the approach road. I wonder if any of your other readers can remember these streets before they were sliced in two by the approach road, and would like to share their memories ?

Oh, and one last thing, what is that rusting monstrosity (4) with the advertising hoarding in front of it, which faces the southbound carriageway of the A102 near the bridge (look at it on Google maps, both on street and satellite views) ?”

The Phantom is sure that many people remember this area in the 60s and 70s – not least, of course, the novelist Christopher Fowler whose memoire Paperboy deals specifically with the area around Westerdale Road – and being turfed out his home to make way for the new motorway.

If you’re talking about the Angerstein railway line, you’ll be heartened to know that if it was disused in the 60s and 70s, it’s operative now, as a goods line. There’s a footbridge that spans the motorway which has a little exit that nips across the railway into an alley leading to Fairthorn Road as well as its main exit onto what’s left of Farmdale.

As for the rusting monstrosity, I’ve often wondered about that one myself. Presumably a building project that ran out of steam? There’s a car pound there, though, I can tell you from bitter experience that local cars aren’t taken there. It must be policy to never impound vehicles somewhere that’s easy to get to – when mine was impounded many years ago while I was abroad, I had to trudge all the way over to Belvedere Industrial Estate, one of the most unpleasant places on earth. Presumably if you get your car impounded in Belvedere they put it in the Charlton pound just to add extra punishment.

But that’s enough bitterness.

A word about the picture. Somebody sent this to me about a year ago (I know, I know, I’m sorry – I’m a little bit behind…) and even worse, I lost the email, but when I got Nick’s question, I asked the mystery sender to send it again. Sadly I never heard from them, but Dazza saw it online somewhere (he can’t remember where) in March and has passed it onto me. I apologise for being utterly rubbish – but I think it’s worth repeating – if anyone objects, do let me know and I’ll remove it.

So. Now the sackcloth and ashes bit is over, I’ll explain what (if not who) it’s of. I think the baby is sitting outside the Angerstein Arms (5) with the old fire station in the background (still standing though in poor nick these days)  and a fab-looking corner cafe which must now form the northern end of the flyover.

Memories and thoughts on roads, babies and the rusting monstrosity welcomed.

the attachments to this post:

Woolwich Road Fire Station 1958 unknown low
Woolwich Road Fire Station 1958 unknown low

15 Comments to “East Greenwich Memories”

  1. I’ve just moved this comment made by MARY to this post – I know – the comments are in a weird place which makes people comment on the wrong thing. I’ll get round to sorting it soon, I hope.

    Anyway – here’ Mary’s comment:

    I am even now sitting in a wooden armchair purchased in 1969 from Davy Jones Locker – the junk shop on the corner of Humber Road and Station Crescent. As I recall Davy was fine, but not around an awful lot – so his sales were probably a bit low (it took persistence)
    The star shop in the parade was the chemist – one of those chemists with hundreds of little drawers and big bottles, and an owner who could tell you all sorts of things about the local doctors and how they didn’t know what they were prescribing.

  2. Darryl says:

    Wow – the baby’s on the corner of my old street. That’s an amazing photo, and I’d always wondered what the area was like before the mid-1960s. Thank you!

    Our old next door neighbours in Combedale Road were displaced by the A102 – they passed away many years ago, though.

    No idea about the monstrosity. For years the land in the Angerstein triangle was a railway depot of some kind – you could walk there from the end of the London-bound platform at Westcombe Park (the gate and steps are still there buried under bushes). At one point it was considered as a terminus for what became the Jubilee Line extension.

    If you look on Google Maps, you can see the overgrown remains of the old bit of Bramshot Avenue by beyond the pound’s entrance – it’s now a roadworkers’ yard (I could go down to take a look myself but I can’t be arsed getting into confrontation with the police).

  3. TGP says:

    I keep meaning to go over and take a picture of that scene (sans baby, natch) to show how it’s changed. If anyon beats me to it, pretty-please may I see it?

  4. Darryl says:

    You couldn’t do it exactly to the spot because the Angerstein’s beer garden sits in the way.

    But the background would be – fire station, crappy patch of green, flyover.

  5. Darryl says:

    Oh, to be exact, fire station, crappy patch of green, *trees*, flyover, street clutter: http://bit.ly/bGbpIX

  6. Dan says:

    Unrelated – but interesting article in Private Eye this week about the Cutty Sark … http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&issue=1266&GUID=139

  7. Pat says:

    I was sitting in that very spot yesterday evening in the heat with a very fine pint of cooling cider.
    I’m wondering which number Ormiston Road your poster lived?

  8. SAM says:

    Unrelated, but can anyone remember the people that refused to move for the A102
    road, I will allways remember that house all by it’s own.
    Can anyone remember a tea hut where Shooters hill and Old dover road meet, it might have been called Berts or a man called bert worked there, this would have been in the 50s or 60s.

  9. Sam – do you mean the Blackheath Tea Hut?

    Glad to say it’s still going strong and has even had a film made about it:

  10. Indigo says:

    that rusting monstrosity (4) with the advertising hoarding in front of it, which faces the southbound carriageway of the A102 near the bridge

    I can’t remember where I heard this but it was a long time ago: it seems that some chap could not get planning permission to have an advertising hoarding there but got round it by getting permission instead to erect the now-rusting metal structure and then he stuck his hoarding on that.

  11. Nick Martin says:

    (original poster)…. I lived at number 4 Ormiston Road from 1958 until 1973.

    Incidentally, my father was in the London Fire Brigade during WW2 (he died in 1983) – I don’t think he was ever stationed in that particular fire station, but he would be shocked and saddened to see the state that it’s in now.

  12. Hils says:

    So is the fire station now the dilapidated Greenwich Hotel? Anyone know who stays there – it seems to be some sort of half way house or accommodation for asylum seekers?

  13. It’s now, as far as I know, just cheap rented accomodation. A sad fate for a beautiful building.

  14. [...] they’re right. I love e’m. Dave’s pics of Pelton road, for example, or the mystery photo of the baby outside the Angerstein Arms a couple of months ago. I live for those emails – especially if they come with a little story [...]

  15. Voxpop says:

    Ah the memories. I left the area in 1983. My family lived in one of the big houses in Humber Road which these days sell for upwards of £800,000.

    I remember Tom’s the sweetshop whose ware did much to ruin my teeth and the chemist, which I loved going into because of the smell. Later came the vet’s. In Station Crescent there was a newsagents run by two old women with black labradors, a convenience store where my mother sent me, as the oldest child, to get bread or milk, a shoe menders next to which there was a yard that now has residential dwellings. My sister says there was also a shop selling domestic appliances. On the other side was the aforementioned Davy Jones’s locker – thanks for the poster who supplied the name – and lastly the post office where I opened my savings account.

    My sister now lives in Italy and has been over for a visit. Last night we had an excellent meal at The Coriander and afterwards took her children up Humber Road as far as the allotments. Looking at the much changed view of the Dome and Canary Wharf beyond, I remember the old hospital which was replaced by the now gone Greenwich District Hospital, the gas works and being able to see shipping moving along the river.