Your enquiries

We receive questions about local and family history every week. Here are some recent ones.

All we ask is a thank-you and a reference, if you decide to use our reply elsewhere. However, if you do wish to make a donation to the Society, you can do so online.

I am researching my family history. My paternal grandfather lived at various addresses in the area. He lived at 91 Effra Parade (of which I can find no trace) in 1897. He lived at 27 Milkwood Road in 1901. He lived at 13 Tritton Road in 1911. He married my grandmother & they lived at 27 Vining Street in 1921. Finally they lived at 65 Hamilton Road in 1937. My grandfather also attended Jessop Road School in 1905. His name was Herbert John Budd. Are there any pictures or maps available, showing any of the above? Thank you for any help you are able to give.

Our response

Thanks again for your enquiry. I’m attaching a note, pdf format, that I hope goes some way towards providing the information you were seeking. I can supply jpeg copies of the photographs. You are welcome to use those I took recently in whatever way you wish. However, some of the others may be subject to copyright. So, if you intend to use these in, say, a publication, I suggest you check with me first.

It might also be worth your checking out Lambeth Landmark: - an excellent source of historic images covering the borough.

If you would like copies of the Alan Godfrey series of old OS maps, you can buy them through the Herne Hill Society at £2.50 each or three for £6.00, plus post and packing.

I am trying to find information on the WWll air raid that destroyed houses in Milkwood Road on 16 April 1941. My relatives lived at No. 191, in their mid-80s and they were both killed. At least they were together although I suspect very frightened. I wish to know if this was a night attack, were there other fatalities, and what sort of property they lived in. I have been told there were almshouses around the area. I would be grateful for any help available.

Our response

In 2009, the Herne Hill Society published Milkwood Estate, The Story of a Lambeth Community. Unfortunately the book has been out of print for some time. However, it contained a short chapter on “Milkwood Estate in Wartime”. I am attaching the text of this plus the two illustrations. You will see that 191 Milkwood Road gets a mention.

If you want further information on the 16 April bombing incident, it would be well worth while visiting the Lambeth Archives at the Minet Library, 52 Knatchbull Road, London, SE5 9QY. As well as the LCC Bomb Damage Atlas, they have the original incident and bomb damage reports including, I am sure, the reports on the night of 16 April 1941.

I do not have a picture of number 191 Milkwood Road. However, I am attaching a 1950 aerial photograph of the former Nevill’s Bakery that shows the type of housing along that part of Milkwood Road - the road runs along the bottom of the picture and number 191 would have been beyond the left side of the picture and on the ‘bakery’ side of the road. The house would certainly have been part of a terrace and probably of three stories - one of the larger properties on the estate. I have never seen any reference to almshouses in the area.

We’ve moved reasonably recently to Herne Hill (the road Herne Hill itself) and we’ve found a large concrete air raid shelter under our garden. It doesn’t seem to be an Anderson. Are these common in the area and do you know if anyone has found a use for them?

Our response

Brian Green, well-known local historian and owner of Dulwich Art Stationers at 31 Dulwich Village, SE21, tells us that the shelter must have been a private enterprise and not the type available from the council.  There are a number of instances of such private enterprise. He refers to his booklet The Home Front which has some pages on shelters, although not the concrete ones; and suggests that the Imperial War Museum may be able to provide further information. Overall there were 110 deaths in Herne Hill caused by air raids.

Can you tell me why Stradella Road is so named? Is there any connection with this Italian composer? Famous in his day, he is known nowadays mainly for his music being borrowed and developed by Handel! Any help much appreciated

Our response

The short answer is that we don’t know!

I would be interested in any information you might have regarding what might have once stood on the site where I now live. My address is SE24 9LU. I have been told that there was once a school/college bombed out during the war, but can find no mention of said building.

Our response

Although there was quite a lot of World War II bomb damage caused to houses in Carver Road and on the western side of Herne Hill to the north of Kestrel Avenue, I can find no evidence from the records that any bombs hit the the site on which Pynnersmead was eventually built. Indeed, it does appear that the three large houses just to the south of St Paul’s Church were demolished around 1937 presumably with the intention of development. However, the sites appear to have remained vacant until the present blocks of flats were built, I believe in the late 1960s.

You are correct in saying that the house on the Pynnersmead site was used for educational purposes. The records show that, in 1914-15 it was occupied by a “high school and kindergarten,”, run by a Mrs Warren King. In 1916, it was occupied by “Brockwell Park College” run by a Miss A M Luson. From at least 1931 to 1935, and possibly until the house was demolished, it was described as a “private school” run by a Miss McConachy.

Please can you tell me whether Poplar Walk Road ever existed. I have been tracing my family tree and on numerous documents the address given is 102 Poplar Walk Road. I have looked at several maps and cannot see where 102 would have been. Is it possible that Poplar Walk and Poplar Road were at some time the same road.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Our response

Thank you for your enquiry to the Herne Hill Society.

Poplar Walk and Poplar Road have always been two separate entities. Poplar Road was originally called Poplar Walk Road.  But this caused a lot of confusion. So it was renamed to just Poplar Road in the 1970s.

I’m a French independent researcher and I’m currently investigating Anna Selina (Nancy) Storace’s life and career. She lived and died in 1817 in a house called ‘‘Herne Hill Cottage’’ in Herne Hill. Before this, she owned the lease to a place called ‘‘Norwood Cottage’‘. I have been unable find out many information about these places, and I wondered if any of your publications spoke of it. If so, I’d be glad to purchase these.

Are there any surveys or land taxes that would tell me where her house was situated (1808-1817 address and current location)? Would it be possible to know if there are any pictures /engravings of her house?

I would be glad for any information. Of course, I’ll quote the source for the material.

Best regards

Our response

Thank you for your enquiry to the Herne Hill Society. We do have material on Storace and Herne Hill Cottage (only this morning I came across what must be the ‘cottage’ shown on an 1833 plan of the immediate area). I’ll put together what we have and get back to you as soon as possible.

‘Norwood Cottage’ is new to me.  Do you have any idea where it might have been located or any other information that could give us a lead? 

I live in Brisbane, Australia.

We were doing some clearing out and came across a book called Norwood and Hearn Hill etc account, which has obviously been in my family for generations.

The book is a hand-written account book dated from 1800 through to 1819 and details costs associated with running somewhere called Norwood Farm. There’s also references to Hearn Hill. We wondered where this place might be in the UK. I am positive this comes from my father’s side of the family.

Does Norwood Farm, Hearn Hill etc at the beginning of the 19th century mean anything to you or your grp There’s also another name Contra.

Our response

Thank you for referring this enquiry. I’m sure that your enquirer’s Hearn Hill, particularly juxtaposed to Norwood, is here. The name has been through different spellings. It has been suggested that the first reference to Hearne Hill was in 1789.  However, we have not been able to confirm this. The first so far substantiated mention of Hearne Hill (same spelling) is in Holden’s Directory of London of 1802.  Edwards’ map of about the same date shows the spelling as Hearn Hill.

I’m sorry I cannot help with either Norwood Farm or Contra, but hope this is of some help.

I live in Herne Hill House (one of the pair of tower blocks) between Dulwich Rd & Railton Rd and I’ve always wanted to know when was here before these flats were built in c.1969?

I always assumed that bomb damage during WW2 destroyed the buildings on this site. However an old friend of mine who has lived in the same house in Rosendale Rd since birth in 1929, remembers Almshouses on this site with a large garden. These houses he remembers being owned by Lambeth council and that they were pulled down to build these flats. Can you confirm either way?

Perhaps I should join your society.

Our response

Thank you for your enquiry to the Herne Hill Society.

An 1860 map shows seven large detached houses in Water Lane (later renamed Dulwich Road) between Regent Road and what was to become Hurst Street.These are all shown as having fairly large gardens to the rear. By 1870, some of these had evidently been demolished, as the Ordnance Survey map of that year shows, going along Dulwich Road west from Hurst Street, four terraced houses, followed by three pairs of semis, then three larger detached properties, followed by a pair of semis on the corner of Regent Road. The 1870 map suggests these properties had gardens, but pretty much the same size as the Dulwich Road houses still standing. I’m afraid I do not know if any were almshouses. However, they do not appear to be of the size usually associated with such a use.

Originally Herne Place ran between Railton Road and Dulwich Road. It was turned into a cul-de-sac when the tower blocks were built. 

One interesting piece of history is the Methodist Church that once stood on the site of what was 89 Dulwich Road. The church had been started by a James Fosbery who lived in a house that became 89 Dulwich Road. After his death in 1884, the house was demolished and a temporary iron church erected on the site. It opened in 1887. In 1910 a permanent church was built. 

The church, along with the other houses, was demolished in around 1966-68 to make way for the present blocks of flats that were built by Lambeth Council. It must be more than probable that the properties had been compulsorily purchased by Lambeth before demolition.

I hope this is of some interest. Should your friend have any further information on these or any other properties, we’d be delighted to hear from him.

If you would like to join the Herne Hill Society - and we would be delighted to welcome you as a member - there’s the necessary information on how to do this on our website.

Hello. I hope you can help me.  I live on Milkwood Road, opposite Bessemer Park Industrial Estate. I am doing a project. I am supposed to look out of my window, describe what is in front of me and talk about what has changed about what I can see. I would be very happy for any information about what used to be in the place where the industrial estate is. I know there is a railway behind but were there trees and greenery there or something else? Also, is there any information I could find about when the industrial estate was built?

xx (age 7)

Our response

There’s a full history of the Industrial Estates in the Herne Hill Society’s publication Milkwood Estate, the story of a Lambeth community (pages 88-90). Unfortunately it’s out of print. However, you could see a copy at Lambeth Archives, Minet library, 52 Knatchbull Road, SE24 9QY. Before you make a visit, I suggest you check on their opening times at The b.ook also contains information on the earlier history of the area, including the land now occupied by the industrial estates, from the time when it was forest, then fields,then market gardens, the coming of the railway in 1862, and the Milkwood Estate itself up to the present day.

Another Herne Hill Society publication Herne Hill Heritage Trail also contains some relevant information. Unfortunately this is also out of print!! However, we are working on a new and expanded edition. Below are drafts of the sections on the Milkwood Estate and the Industrial estates - please note these may be subject to some further editing.

You might also like to take a look at some old Ordnance Survey maps covering “Brixton and Herne Hill”, that show how your area developed. You will probably be able to find these at the Lambeth Archives; and you can buy copies of the 1870, 1894 and 1913 editions through the Herne Hill Society website.

With best wishes and good luck with your project.

I am trying to find out when number 18 Herne Hill (Matlock Manor Hotel) was built and later demolished. My late mother lived there from 1842/3 - the end of the war and she we remained friendly with the owner (Annie Augustina Greenall) until her death. I know that no 18 is described as an early 19th century house but no date is given in the publications I have read.

Also No 18 is said to have been demolished in the late 1940s but Annie Greenall did not leave until 1952 according to the Electoral Register. The new houses built there were occupied 1956/7 so it must have been demolished between those dates.

I would be grateful for any help.

Our response

The last entry for number 18 is in the 1952 Post Office directory. The resident was described as “Greenhall, Mrs. Ann, Residential Hotel”. I think you can safely assume that the property was demolished either in that year or in 1953. 

Incidentally, the directories show that in 1930, a Harry A Sartin (builder) came to live at number 18 - he’s shown as being there until the final 1952 entry. The first reference to a “Greenall” comes in 1926 with a “Greenall, Captain Charles Edwin”. The property is also described a a Residential Hotel. Captain Greenall disappears from the directories in 1932, to be replaced by Ann Greenall. The previous owners of the hotel are shown as” Hanson, George and Mrs. Elizabeth”.

I’m afraid I’ve drawn a blank on exactly when the property was built. I suspect it was one of the grand villas that were built in the early 19th century. These were very fine residences and led to the area becoming known as “the Belgravia of South London”. Sadly only three of these properties survive - 164 Denmark Hill, and 10 and 12 Herne Hill.

I hope this is of some interest.

Some years ago I attended a talk about local film history and there was footage of one of the earliest ever films shot on North Dulwich station. I’ve just moved nearby and wondered if you could let me have any details.

Our response

According to the Herne Hill Heritage Trail, published by the Herne Hill Society in 2003, North Dulwich Station was indeed the setting for an early feature film entitled “A Railway Tragedy”, which was made in 1904 by the Gaumont Film Company, who had studios nearby on Champion Hill. I have seen the film. In it, we see people getting on a train and the train pulls away.

The villain then attacks and robs a fellow passenger, who is thrown off the train. Then we see the villain alighting from the train at the next station, and making his escape. It is possible that, for the first and last scenes, opposite platforms of the same station, ie. North Dulwich, are used.

Copies of the film may be held by the British Film Institute, the John Huntley Film Archive, or the Gaumont Film Company.

If you think you know the answers to these two below, by all means say so!

Whilst researching the 19th century English artist Samuel Palmer, I have come across references to a ‘hostelry’ in Croxted Lane which he used before setting out for Dulwich. I was wondering whether you might be able to shed some light on where this place might have been or perhaps you might be able to put me in contact with someone else who might know.

Would much appreciate help in identifying the further history of 32 St Faiths Rd - also known as stattin lodge (villa) - a former priory or annexe to Priory Ely lodge (villa) .c 1860 and built by lord Ely which is now under threat of demolition by Lambeth and Southwark housing association, planning permission not yet applied for.

Reader Comments

Posted by Joanne Self August 05, 2012

The houses looked like those in Brixton Water Lane conservation Area.Herne Place had many artists and writers and even a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. The position of the landscape is interesting as faces due SE past herne hill house. The eclipse of the moon was visible some years ago and unusual for London. The yards in herne place were gardens from 1870 and it seems from 1850. There is an interesting biodiversity locally with bat roosts, tiger moths and sparrows also a woodpecker. The lake to the centre of the tower blocks is artificial but this land had 7 tributaries of the river Effra and was a market garden with 7 bridges over Regent Row from the pub which had a previous older building on it. There is like brockwell park registered bat roosts and rare wildlife due to the mature trees.

Posted by Brian Beckett November 03, 2012

Are you aware of any photos taken of Milkwood Road in the 1950/60s showing the shops in the railway arches? I am particularly interested in 292 Milkwood Road, the third arch up from the railway bridge.It was a builders’ merchants. Lambeth Archives haven’t anything.

Posted by Paul Lunney March 23, 2013

I would be interested in any information you might have regarding what might have once stood on the site where I now live. My address is SE24 9LU. I have been told that there was once a school/college bombed out during the war, but can find no mention of said building.

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