Monday 31 August 2009 6.48pm
I have just been reading my Grandfathers memoirs and he has provided some detailed information about the years that he lived in the area from around 1905 - 1926. His name was Stanley Yates and he was one of 13 children. The family lived in various houses in the triangle between New Kent Road
, Great Dover Street
and Newington Causeway
. He was born in 6 Upper Bland Street and also lived in 2 Standard Street and then the family moved to a house in Swan Street
before moving to another house on the opposite side of the road. Each move enabled the family to relocate into a larger house and to then take in more lodgers to help pay the rent.
He recalls that this last house was located opposite the County Court and was close to the Trinity Arms pub. He attended tha LCC Rockingham School in Rockingham Street
which was apparently destroyed in WW2. He also recalls a company called Reckitt & Son who had stables in Swan Street
. The Standard Bakery Company was also located in the same street. He recalls an egg wholesalers in Cole Street
, off Swan Street
and goes into some detail about the the old Newington Gaol at the top of Swan Street
at the junction of Harper Road
(formerly Union Road). He remembers the horsedrawn black marias delivering prisoners there and that in the grounds of the gaol at the rear of the sessions building were laid out a park and recreation ground known locally at the time as the Gaol Park. It was divided into three parts, one ashphalted part for the boys, a similar one for the girls and the third part was laid out with flower beds and paths. A bandstand completed the picture. Apparently no ball games were allowed at the time and the swings etc were locked up on a Sunday.
The family then moved to a double-fronted house in Falmouth Road
. When they moved from this house it was apparently demolished and the "Surrey Dispensary" was built upon the site.
Around the corner from this house in Trinity Street
stood "a rather commanding building for this district" called Shaftesbury Hall. It was run as a religious organisation by a man named Breton and his family (around 1911).
The family then moved to a house in Union Road (now Harper Road
)in which the family then lived in until 1926. This house has since been demolished to make way for a block of flats. He recalls that within 100 yards of this house stood a butchers shop called Cusses which used to do its own slaughtering. He recalls that although the animals normally arrived in horse-drawn vehicles sometimes a drover would drive a flock of sheep through the streets to the butchers shop for slaughter.
He goes on to recall three pubs in the area, the King William the Fourth, the Trinity Arms and The Roebuck
,the last two he ofetn used to visit for years after he moved away from the area and the first he recals having been demolished and possibly re-built.
The kids used to go to visit some brush factories on Great Dover Street
to collect the offcuts from the bristles used to make the brushes in order to fire the copper used for the family washing.
My Grandfather used to do a paper round in the morning before school and another in the evening. He would walk 1 1/2 miles to the paper shop in Southwark Street
to collect the papers and one January evening in the winter of 1915/16 he was standing in the doorway of the paper shop and witnessed the "Silvertown explosion" which although occurred some 5-6 miles away was apparently large enough to light up the sky and caused a huge explosion. He said in his memoirs that no information was ever published about this at the time and that he would have loved to have known what happened that night. I have since discovered that the explosion occured in a munitions factory in Silvertown and that about 75 people were killed and about 400 injured.
In 1916 the Germans were bombing this part of London and the family took shelter in the crypt of Trinity Church in Trinity Square (now converted into The Sir Henry Wood Concert Hall).
My Great-Grandfather was a Conductor on the horse-drawn Omnibuses and his name was William Thompson Yates.
I hope that these memories may be of some interest to local people and if anyone has any similar information of indeed any knowledge of the Yates family from other records I would be very interested to hear from you.