I walked past Driscoll House the other day and a truck had just arrived with what looked like lots of planks of wood. I didn't get a great view as the wooden gates were being closed by the workmen/security guard.
Anyone know what is going on?
The hamilton assoc link from page 13 of this thread is no longer active.
I lived at Driscoll House in 83-84, and worked in the kitchen with the staff. Anne Driscoll was a great lady, but her then-husband was an ass and was making her miserable, which is something she certainly didn't deserve.
I once had to break up a fight in a stairwell where he was beating the crap out of a tenant he'd taken a dislike to. He was also responsible for buying kitchen supplies and food, so we were left trying to make the most of his ineptitude. Still, I give the food very high marks, particularly considering the needless politics behind the situation. They had a great cook, a genuine and funny guy whose Oxtail Soup was unrivaled. I'm a chef and I still can't figure out how he did it.
The place was like a big family with young and old, long-term old ladies and young students or, like me, hostelers looking for a cheap place to extend my time in London. There was only one mean old lady there who never got along with anybody, but the rest of us were genuinely glad to know and be around each other. Hell, I was only 16 or 17, so I had no idea how unique that aspect would be until years of dealing with a sick society would ram home how unusual our camaraderie was.
Within days, everyone knew my name, but I quickly was named 'Yank', which was used affectionately during my stay. We'd go out on the town, or hang out at the Rising Sun (often closing the place and being locked in for after-hours revelry). At New Years, what started as a hole in the knee of my jeans ended up with my Levis being torn off completely, me staggering back home clad in a tablecloth. When people learned I was leaving, I was overwhelmed by a party and gifts from those I'd come to know and love.
The place had some problems at the time- the wiring was always pretty scary, and the boiler needed replacement badly- I know, as I was the one stoking the bastard and reporting the trouble to Mr Driscoll, who ignored me until it failed altogether mid-December and it was out for over a week. The photos on the Wiki page show the same furnishings as were in use back then- they were probably there since before the war! The FIRST one! One stuffed chair was more tape and doily than wood and batting...
OK, the place had a few troubles, but it's terrible that it's been closed down. Restored? Hell yes! Torn down? No damned way. It is a landmark, not only in my life but in an otherwise post-50s drab architectural landscape. They already tore down the County Terrace, which had been in existence since it was built on marshland. Driscoll House cannot fall victim to a similar fate, as it should remain a proud fixture on a Southwark neighborhood worthy of far more.
Lots of great memories, and I'm about to scan all my old negatives from that period, which should have some great interior shots during my time there. Driscoll House also deserves a website dedicated to those who lived there to share experiences and photos, and to keep that energy going.
It would be great if you could put some of your photos online and post a link, or add some to the Wiki page if you are happy to do that. I took the photos on the Wiki page, but I could only take a few, and I didn't get to see inside any of the rooms. I only had 10 mins, but I could have stayed hours, and I would have loved to have taken detailed photos of the decor. I had to talk my way in while Mr Driscoll was away from the desk!
Fascinating to read your memories of the place,dmc, and I would love to see photos of the inside. I went to school across the road and spent many hours staring out of the window at Driscoll house, wondering what sort of place it was.
I'm so glad to know Driscoll House is still standing! I always thought it was a beautiful building, full of characters and as dmc said, long term old ladies. I stayed there in the 80's and 90's. Unfortuately the decline in the building kept pace with Mr. Driscoll's aging. I took tons of pictures, when I learn to upload them I put them online. I will be in London next month and plan on speading one day at Elephant and Castle so I definitley be taking a walk to Driscoll House. I'm sure Mr. Driscoll would be happy to know that he is so well regarded...he touched so many lives. Does anybody know what happened to Murti; he was the night manager.
I have found all these posts fascinating reading – I have very fond memories of living at 172 from 1969 to 1972. At the time it was called the Driscoll Ladies Hostel and was not as some have said for overseas visitors only. There was a wonderful mix of women and girls and as others have said a lovely homely atmosphere.
Mr Driscoll was an amazing man – he was very fond of “his ladies” as he called us and included us in many of his family celebrations – including his daughter Anne’s 21st Ball which was held in croyden or Purley and also her wedding at St Margarets Westminister, and the reception at the Savoy. He would arrange all the transport for us and was always genuine in his concern for our welfare.
I was very sorry to read some of the comments made by people who did not know him, of him pocketing the money etc and implying that he was greedy – very far from the man I knew -, he always made a big fuss of us – particulary on 21st Birthdays and arranged special meals in the hostel complete with birthday cakes and presents – I still have my photos of him presenting me with my”key of the door” and making one of his little speeches – and I am amazed to read he still read a speech on Sundays.
He used to arrange for a vareity of interesting speakers to come and talk to us and I am sure Dr Una Kroll was one of them, he also arranged lots of outings for us, theatre, opera , exhibitions and at prices that were obviously heavily subsidised by him.
Our rent and all meals back then was just over £6.00 per week – I was lucky to have a corner room on the third floor, which overlooked the back of the terrace of houses so I had proper walls to my room not the partitions. If you were a bit short of funds and perhaps struggling to pay the rent he would let you work in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house and he would present you with a certificate from him to say how well you had worked.
Reading this has brought back some lovely memories for me and thoughts of all the lovely friends I made at 172 – sounds as if the decor and furnishing had not changed from my time there and it was antique then. Have just looked at the photo's of the interior had'nt changed that much from when I left in 1972 - except for all the furniture.
Very sorry to see that Ann has passed away - I remember as a very trendy beautiful young lady who zipped around in a little red sports car.
I've posted six pictures on flickr.com under "driscoll house" if anyone is interested in taking a look. I took pics of the dining rooms, hallway and tv room. It was a bright, breezy day when I took them; oh the memories!