Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Walking the streets of Peckham and New Cross a full half century ago ........ and where to go to look

This summer has been an odd one because after more than a half century I have been pulled back to the Peckham of my youth.

We left in the spring of 1964 and while I continued to go to Samuel Pepys for another two years the break had been made and only now have I really given the place much thought.

And I am amazed just how much has come tumbling out as bit by bit the memories drew out new ones starting with the odd story followed by a heap of names, faces and places.

But always sitting there and challenging all those memories was that simple question of how much was truth and how much was just imagined.

After all fifty-one years is a long time and much of what I knew in Peckham and New Cross has long gone or has altered so dramatically that it is all but unrecognisable.

It started with that cocoa factory on Kender Street, extended to the row of shops along Queens Road from Lausanne to Dennet’s  and carried on to countless haunts I had known as a child.

Of course for those who stayed all those places are more easily remembered but for me and plenty of others when you can’t find them it pretty much offers up the prospect that they never existed.

But the internet age offers up countless ways of being reassured and a set of online maps from Southwark Historical mapping is a good start.*

They cover the period 1896 to 1954 and come with the facilty to overlay on a map of today with aerial views from 2013.

Added to which by typing in your old postal code you can get straight to your old home.

There is more but that is for you to find out.

Together they offer a pretty comprehensive guide to the streets of Peckham and a bit of New Cross.

And yes I found the cocoa factory as well as the shops along Queens Road and using the online street directories was able to chart who occupied them at the beginning of the 20th century.

Pictures; All Saints, Hatcham Park, 1950, from the collection of Andrew Simpson 

* Southwark Historical mapping,

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