Sweet Memories

I should preface today’s post with the warning that it is a family history question and as regular readers will know I generally avoid anything to do with genealogy, whether my own or anyone else’s.  This one intrigued me because it is about a specific piece of Greenwich history that is gone now, so please bear with me – I promise I’m not opening any floodgates…

But onto the question. Karen says:

When my Great Grandfather retired from the Navy, the family moved from Woolwich to Park Row, where they bought a supposedly ‘thriving’ sweet shop on the corner of what is now the car park on Park Row. The sweet shop turned out to be a very un-thriving business and G-Grandfather really had to work very hard to scrape a living, chopping wood for the Trafalgar and such.

Anyhow, during the war we believe the sweet shop suffered some bomb damage and we think G-Grandfather died during a fall from the sweet shop, possibly whilst mending the roof or similar. The story continues a few years later when the Naval College ‘forced’ residents of this street to sell up as they had plans to extend the college (what plans i don’t know?), the buildings were bought cheaply and then demolished to make way for the plans. I often heard my Grandma complaining about the very low value of the forced sales, I’m assuming it was impossible at the time to refuse, especially with G-Grandma now a widow. Obviously the plans changed and quite an insult to lose your home for what is now a car-park! What a shame the road was demolished.

Anyway, I was very interested to find out if you had any information on when the houses were demolished on Park Row, or anything related.  I would be absolutely delighted to know if you had any photos of the road, there must be one somewhere with the sweet shop in it.

This sounds as though it was pretty much opposite the old Park Row Police Station which stood where the Bernard Angell flats are now – there’s a pic of it here and perhaps the same strike that killed that did for Karen’s Great Granddad’s sweet shop.

I confess that my first move, being a lazy Phantom, was to pick the brains of Greenwich’s own WWII expert and regular Phantophile Stephen from Blitzwalkers. I swear there isn’t a crater, a UXB or an ex-shelter that he doesn’t know about. He pointed me to this fabulous photo from Greenwich Heritage Centre of the bombed row.

It’s pretty easy to pinpoint exactly where this is if you look at the angle of the power station behind it. This must have been taken some time after the hit as the rubble’s been cleared up, fencing has been erected and there are chaps on the roof who look like they’re demolishing the row.

I’m not sure which one the dead pub is – it could be the Victory, but I thought that was further up towards the ORNC. It would seem that pubs were once as common as kebab shops and pizza takeaways are now.

It’s quite a good little row of shops though – a chemist, a post office (with an Edison Bell sign in the window, so perhaps there was a public telephone there too?) and in between them, possibly, a sweet shop. The Liptons ads could mean a general store, but I’m putting my money on the main Frys signs in the window. I am assuming it’s an ad for Chocolate Creams. They still sell ‘em today but I haven’t had one since I was a kiddie. Hmm. Maybe I need to test them out again – just to check they still taste the same, you understand…

Stephen sent me another pic he found in the Heritage Centre’s amazing collection – of the back of Trafalgar Road during the cleanup. It’s nigh-on impossible to work out where it is (I was a bit put off by the ghostly ‘Canary Wharf’ in the background on the left) but if you look at the detritus, it can’t have been far away from the first image – could it be one of Hardys Cottages that the wheelbarrow tracks lead to? And that Lipton’s Tea sign looks rather familiar…

For those who fancy learning more about Greenwich’s WWII history, Stephen’s next Blitz walk is a bit different – similar to his usual, but held during the evening to mark Midsummer’s Day, Friday 24th June. Meet for 6.15pm outside All Saints Church, Blackheath. The walk lasts for about 2.5 hours, finishes in Royal Hill near The Tolly  and costs £8 per head.


the attachments to this post:

traf road bomb damage rear
traf road bomb damage rear

frys choc cream
frys choc cream

traf road bomb damage
traf road bomb damage


7 Comments to “Sweet Memories”

  1. Katrien says:

    I think the first picture shows the corner of Greenwich Park Street, not Park Row.

  2. valley_girl says:

    I’ve had a look at the 1919 Post Office Directory online – the latest available at http://www.historicaldirectories.org/hd/index.asp, and there is a confectioners at no.24 Park Row run by a Mr. Ralph Henry James Colmer. I think it’s on the corner of Old Woolwich Road rather than Trafalgar Road. Would this be the one your Great Grandfather bought I wonder?

  3. The photograph is captioned Trafalgar Road/Park Row, so I can only go by that. The angle of the Power Station suggests that it could be either Park Row or Greenwich Park Street but I will have to check out Kellys to see what I can find as far as which shopes were located where. The Heritage Centre has them upto the late 1930s I think and Southwark Archives has them well into the 1950s, so we should be able to get to the bottom of it.

  4. Neil Rhind says:

    The sweet shop (plus tobacco, newspapers etc) was on the corner of Old Woolwich Road at No 24 Park Row. The proprietor in 1937-1939 was Edwin J Woon. I have a picture but I am not sure how to attach one. Can Phantom please advise.

  5. Neil – that would be wonderful. If you’re happy for it to go up here, then probably the best thing to do is just pop it over to me at thegreenwichphantom@gmail.com

    I can post it specially.

  6. [...] holding up two spectral hands and admitting that fascinating though the tuck shop on Traflagar Road I went on about on Monday may be, it’s the wrong bloomin’ [...]

  7. Lynda says:

    It was interesting to see the picture of the bombed row of shops that my cousin John described. He lived on the corner of the next road so was very lucky that day. It is a temporary car park now on the corner of Greenwich Park Street and Trafalgar Road. If you go to google maps it is the car park behind the wall on the next corner to the BP Garage. I think it is Hardy Cottages behind it.