Beaconsfield Terrace (1)
Can anyone name all the shops from the sweet shop at the top of the steps – the first shop as you cross over from top of Halstow road where it crosses Humber Road? Then there was a super chemist, called Green’s; a greengrocers; some other shops that I cannot recall; then, as the road turned down towards the station approach and down the steps, there was a food store that sold everything. Over the other side of station approach was the post office. Does anyone have the history of all the shops around the Westcombe Park station area from Victorian times?
The Phantom replies:
Well, of course much of it is down to when in their history you want to know about them – in late Victorian times, in the 20s/30s/ 40s/ 50s etc. Recently they have changed both purpose and owners far more regularly than they would have done years ago, but before the age of the supermarket, I guess the local greengrocer /chemist /sweetmonger would have stayed in the same generation for years.
I have always been rather fond of this little arcade. It doesn’t manage the same yumminess (or range) as the Royal Hill Lovelies, but then the demographic isn’t the same – and it’s closer to both the big sheds over on the Peninsula and the Blackheath Standard. But it still gets a fair bit of footfall, being so close to the station and some of the shops have been there for years.
I particularly like that it’s retained, somehow, some of the more ephemeral parts of its decoration – the post office may have gone but the pillar box is still there and if you look under your feet outside the mini mart, there are still the diamond-pattern tiles and, further up, the original York stone slab-paving.
I can’t name the shops recently, as they’ve changed quite a bit (and continue to change – I notice the old Animation Studio is being turned into a rather upmarket-looking florist; good news since that place has been inactive for years) but, thanks to the superb (and disgracefully out of print) definitive volume about the area by Neil Rhind, Blackheath Village and Environs II (the first one, about Blackheath Village itself, is back in print, but the equally-exhaustive second book, which takes in our side of the heath as well as the Cator estate and the more Kidbrooke-y side (wanna know who lived in your house? Chances are that if you’re in his catchment area Mr Rhind will tell you in this book) has never been reprinted.
I can’t think why – there must be more people in the wide area covered by book two who are potential customers – but there is usually a copy in the library (if it hasn’t been closed…) and occasionally they bowl up second-hand (talking of which, I was pleased to see a new secondhand bookshop in the centre of Greenwich – a dedicated Oxfam bookshop on College Approach. It’s pricey but these days second hand books tend to fall into two categories – expensive, and can’t-give-it-away.)
Rhind tells me that ‘Beaconsfield Terrace, ‘ built around the 1890s (it’s at the bottom of Beaconsfield road in case you’re wondering) is, along with the shops on Westcombe Hill, were the only commercial premises allowed on the Westcombe Park Estate. And when you come to think of it, yes, it does seem a bit odd – not a corner shop, not a pub, or at least until you get to the Royal Standard. Presumably it was some sort of temperance-thing.
Neil Rhind accepts that the shops changed a lot over the years, but reckons there’s a strong pattern. At Number 103, your sweet shop, Christine, was, in the 1920s, E. Hartley and Co. but between 1909 and the late 1920s is was Luffman & Peacock (a fabulous name for a confectioners.) If memory serves it’s a private house these days.
105 was a butchers, which is kind of chilling given that it’s now the local vetinery surgery and 107, now flats, a grocer and branch post office. Its original owner was the equally-delightfully-named Edward Pogson Barker, but in the 1920s it became your chemist, Christine, run by John Codnor Wilson.
Number 109 started out as a greengrocers, became a milliner’s (we just don’t get hat shops round these parts any more…) and from the first year of the Great War until the middle of WWII was Jarvis the bootmaker. Am I right in thinking that the sports therapy place is there now?
Neil Rhind tells me that number 111 has been a lot of things – a stationer’s, tailor, printer and grocers, and in the 1930s was Humber Radio (presumably selling wirelesses rather than broadcasting…) 113 was a dairy – first owned by Griffith Robert Hughes, becoming a branch of Edward and Sons and finally being subsumed into United Dairies. It’s now a hairdressers.
What I can’t find is any reference to the shops that turn the corner into Westcombe Crescent going down towards the station. Am I missing something, Neil?
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