Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Lewisham Unemployed invade Council Meeting, 1908

Times were hard in the Winter of 1908, with widespread unemployment. There were protests in many places demanding work and relief including a weekly unemployed demonstration from Tower Hill to the wealthier areas of Mayfair and Belgravia.

In Lewisham, the Council 'found its public gallery invaded... by a crowd. One councillor, the Rev. J.C. Morris, vicar of St Mark's, Lewisham, was told that he had a pebble where his heart ought to be; and when Councillor Trenchard looked up to the gallery cries of "Scamps" and "Rotters" were frequent. Others shouted: "Our wives and children are starving; you have got plenty: beware! look out! If you don't listen to us  you will know it. We don't want your half-sovereigns: we want work' (The Woman Worker, December 23 1908).

(Woman Worker, paper of the National Federation of Women Workers, December 23 1908).

The socialist paper Justice (26 December 1908) reported that there were similar scenes in other Council meetings including at St Pancras and Portsmouth, but in Lewisham 'the council went into the cowardly silence of committee and had the gallery cleared'.

(The Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham was created in 1900, and covered the Lewisham, Blackheath, Lee, Hither Green, Catford, Brockley, Forest Hill and part of Sydenham - but not Deptford and New Cross which were under the separate Deptford Council until 1965. Not sure of the political make up of the Council in 1908, but it would have been either Liberal or Conservative in this period)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Winter windows and other seasonal treats

Lots of Christmas and other seasonal decorations around the area, including in Telegraph Hill SE14 as part of an Advent windows initiative with new ones being unveiled on each day during December - some of them very elaborate.

London skyline in Erlanger Road SE14

Waller Road SE14 -  Covid nativity scene

Bear on a bike in Erlanger Road SE14 - actual bike and life size bear!

Love, joy, hope, peace - Erlanger Road

Happy Chanukah!

Elsewhere, the first Santa spotted was this one in St Johns on 1st November! Well I guess normal rules have been suspended for this year.

The once (and possibly future) Nunhead Museum & Art Gallery in Gellatly Road SE14 has this fine temporary construction complete with Action Man Xmas fairy:

As usual several Nunhead houses have gone the extra mile with lights - this one in Carden Road SE15:

Covid never far away from our thoughts - this 'Christmas is Community' billboard in Malpas Road now has apparently added graffiti - 'Christmas in Contagious'.  The original posters didn't have the 'contagious' word, but as well as this one another in Queens Road has similar graffiti. Anyone know whether this is a genuine graffiti response or whether in fact it has been added by the poster creators?  - cynical me wonders at the suspiciously on brand use of colour. Think the poster is the work of Jack Agency who do music posters as part of the BuildHollywood brand.

Monday, December 21, 2020

New Cross Venue, Christmas 1990 (and other 90s flyers)

Some more flyers from the New Cross Venue in the 1990s, when the place was a key indie venue.

December 1990 - A Certain Ratio, Band of Holy Joy and Teenage Fanclub (with the Pastels and BMX Bandits) on consecutive nights. According to someone who was at the latter, Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream joined Teenage Fanclub on stage for an encore version of  'Get Back'.

Teengage Fanclub at the Venue Christmas Party, 21 December 1990 -
'bands finish 11 pm, club till 2 am, coach after club to Traflagar Square'

May 1990 with bands including Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry, Soho and The Oyster Band:

November 1991, including Therapy, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Pastels/Heavenly and Spiritualized (think I was those last two).

February 1992: Meteors, Godfathers, Planet Gong with Here & Now:

June 1992 - Pulp supporting Boo Radleys:

March 1993 - including Goats Don't Shave, Gang of Four and Dodgy:

May 1993 - Sheep on Drugs, The Lunachicks etc.:

October 1994 - Gary Clail, African Headcharge, Dreadzone, Ultramarine:

December 1994: Sleeper, Loop Guru, Shed Seven:

January 1995: Test Dept, King Kurt - also an early example of a tribute band 'English Rose' (Jam covers) which were to become the main acts at the Venue later in the 1990s.

May 1995 - Pale Saints, Cardiacs, Sidi Bou Said (a great South London band):

Friday, December 11, 2020

A short history of New Cross Hospital

Heading south-east, the A2 changes its name from the Old Kent Road to New Cross Road shortly after the junction with Ilderton Road. On the north side, the change is marked by the entrance to Deptford Ambulance station - the last surviving health provision on what was once a substantial hospital site.

Epidemics of small pox in London in the 1870s led to the decision by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in 1876 to erect 'six temporary wards' to provide for up to 220 patients at Deptford (South London Chronicle, 9/12 /1876).  By March of the following year, the Metropolitan Asylum District Hospital, Deptford (or the Deptford Hospital as it was known) was taking patients.
As small pox cases declined later in the year the hospital was briefly closed and there was a proposal to convert it into a 'female imbecile asylum' (Morning Post, 22/10/1877). By early 1878 though a further outbreak of smallpox saw the hospital being reopened. Another smallpox epidemic in 1881 saw the hospital running out of space, and having to turn away hundreds of people 'perhaps to infect whole districts' (Birmingham Mail, 2 May 1881). The hospital was further expanded to 400 beds with its buildings occupying most of the space to the west of what was then Hatfield Road in New Cross (now Avonley Road). The site included an ambulance station  (opened 1883) and a nurses' home (from 1893). As well as smallpox cases it catered for patients with Scarlet fever and other fevers. Renamed the  South Eastern District Hospital in 1883 and then the South Eastern Fever Hospital in 1885, it continued as a fever hospital until 1941.

A vaccine for smallpox had been developed by Edward Jenner at the end of the 18th century, the first vaccine for a contagious disease, and the 1853 Vaccination Act had made smallpox vaccination compulsory for children. Nevertheless, then as now there was an anti vaccination lobby and not everybody was vaccinated. The vaccination did not always prevent infection but it did limit the severity of the disease - the Medical Superintendent of Deptford Hospital  reported in 1881 that 3% of vaccinated smallpox patients had died in the previous year, compared to 38.5% of those who had not been vaccinated (Express & Echo, 24/6/1881)

The existence of the hospital in this area, which came to be 'the largest small pox hospital in the Metropolis' ,was not universally popular. There were complaints that patients from all over London were being sent there and at a meeting of the Camberwell Board of Guardians in 1882, the hospital was blamed for the high levels of smallpox in nearby Peckham and for the fact that 'the value of property in that neighbourhood had gone down considerably' (South London Chronicle, 14/1/1882).

1890s map of site

The hospital denied that it posed any risk to the community. Strict rules were applied to prevent the spread of infection, with visitors only allowed if a patient was dying  and then all visitors were disinfected with 'all contact with the patients discouraged' (Evening Mail, 8/10/1877).  There was a risk though to those working in the hospital, highlighted in 1894 by the death of the Reverend J.B. Mylius, the vicar of the nearby All Saints church in  Hatcham, who lived at the Vicarage in Pepys Road. The young vicar - he was 32 when he died - acted as chaplain to the hospital 'paying daily visits to the patients' before he caught the fever himself and died at the hospital (Kentish Mercury, 19/1/1894). I presume that Mylius Close, off nearby Kender Street, is named after him.

The hospital continued in use through the First World War, when incidentally the artist and later psychoanalyst Grace Pailthorpe (1883-1971) worked there as a medical officer in 1917. She was to become a member of the British Surrealist Group with a particular interest in the unconscious and automatic writing and her work featured in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London. After the First World War, the hospital catered for ex-solders with TB.

In the Second World War the hospital suffered extensive bomb damage, being hit by 16 high explosive bombs and 300 incendiaries in 1940-41.  On 7 September 1940 - the first night of the Blitz - four nurses and a hospital porter were killed after a bomb hit the hospital. The porter, Albert George Dolphin, was awarded a posthumous George Cross for saving the life of an injured nurse as the building collapsed.  The hospital was closed in 1941, but buildings continued to be used for nurses training and day nursery provision.

Under the new National Health Service it was reopened as the New Cross General Hospital in 1953, closely linked to Guys Hospital who took over the control of New Cross Hospital in 1965. Various clinics and specialist units were based there such as the National Poisons Information Service, a chest unit, breast surgery etc. The hospital closed in 1988 though health provision such as the Medical Toxicology Unit and Drugs Research Library continued on site until the early 21st century.

Today only the Deptford Ambulance Station (1 New Cross Road) remains active, the rest of the site having been redeveloped for housing including the conversion of nurses' quarters into the flats of Mendip Court on Avonley Road (pictured below).

NUPE trade union leader Roger Poole joins ambulance workers at Deptford Ambulance Station, New Cross Road, during the 1990 ambulance workers dispute

Ambulance workers picket Deptford Ambulance Station in 2014 NHS pay strike