Thursday, 10 December 2015

Walking down Kender Street looking for the cocoa works and finding a lost cinema

It will be something well over half a century since I last walked down Kender Street and even now it’s the smell of cocoa which is the first thing that comes to mind.

Kender Street, 1872
We lived at number 14 for about a year and a bit back in 1950 into ‘51 and for most of that decade and into the next we regularly  went back to visit one of mum’s friends.

And Kender Street was also one of those alternate routes from Lausanne Road up to the public library on New Cross Road, the wool shop and mum’s other favourite haunt the private lending library.

Now I went looking for all those places recently and of course the passage of fifty five years has not been kind to my child hood memories.  The cocoa works along with number 14 and a big chunk of the street have gone as have the library, the wool shop and much else.

And so comprehensive has the change been that I did begin to question just how much I remembered.

Undaunted I turned to a set of historical maps running from 1872 till 1954.

Most are online courtesy of Southwark Council* and they offer a pretty neat picture of the area over 80 or so years.

Now I couldn’t confirm the cocoa plant but I was struck by the number of industrial units ranging from a print works, and iron works to a cooperage and engineering plant.  Most were developed in the years after 1872 and plenty of them were still there around Kender Street and Pomeroy Street in the early 1950s.

Of course having spent years living in east Manchester which retained its heavy industry until the 1980s and only saw the colliery close in 1968 I shouldn’t have been surprised.

What I did find fascinating was the lost cinema on Queens Road which I only discovered from one of those old maps.**

This was the Ideal Cinema House which stood between Kender Street and Pomeroy Street.

It had opened in 1914 as the Queens’ Cinema House, changed its name a year later to the Queens’s Road Cinema and in 1916 was renamed again the Ideal Kinema and when it was bought by Naborhood Theatres Ltd around 1935 becoming the  Narborhood Cinema.

And there in its 790 seat theatre audiences could have thrilled to Tom Mix, Charlie Chaplin and enthralled at the first talkies.

Alas it’s time as the Narborhood were numbered.  It was destroyed by German bombs in 1940 and the remains demolished the following year which I suspect was why I knew nothing of its existence.

All of which just points to that simple observation that if you want to revisit your childhood, best do it with some maps, and the odd history book.

Of course there may be someone who has a picture of the old cinema and even of the cocoa plant, and may be even the Eno’s Fruit Salt Works on Pomeroy Street whose wall also backed on to the gaden of nu 14 Kender Street.

Now that would be something.

Picture; Kender Street !872, from the OS for London 1872, courtesy of Digital Archives Association, 

* Southwark Historical mapping

**Naborhood Cinema, 277-281 Queen's Road, Cinema Treasures,

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