Thursday, 24 March 2016

One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road, part 3, going back to 1915

Opposite our house on Well Hall Road, 1950
Last year was the birthday of the house we lived in for thirty years.

We moved into 294 Well Hall Road in March 1964 and while us kids slowly moved out over the years it remained my dad’s home till 1994.

And so I have decided to explore its history.

Now I have to admit I never gave much thought to what the house would have been like back in 1915.

As you entered the front door the central staircase was directly in front of you with the two living rooms off to the right and left.

A plan of a Parlour house similar to ours
Of these the left room extended the length of the ground floor and gave access to the kitchen while to the right was a smaller room which backed on to the kitchen.

So essentially the ground floor consisted of three rooms with that central staircase.

Upstairs and the model merely replicated itself with three bedrooms and a bathroom.

The plan opposite is very similar to ours but the layout at 294 Well Hall was reversed and access to the smaller front room was at the front with no passage along the side of the stairs.

And I am also a tad puzzled about the bathroom.

One resident I spoke to recently maintained that bathrooms were offered as an addition later by the Progress Estate.

Tenants had the option of having a down stairs extension or converting one of the three bedrooms for a slight increase in rent which was all too much for one old chap who choose to have neither and retained  his tin bath.

That said the original plans** would suggest that bathrooms and inside lavatories were fitted at the time of construction and there is a reference to The Office of Works odering “all the timber and supplied Baths, fireplaces and many other fittings which were kept in a large store on the site.”***

Sadly the majority of the records dealing the Estate were destroyed during the last war and with the passage of time much else about the early decades its history will also have been lost.

So I have no way of knowing whether the original properties had a kitchen range, the extent to which  gas was used instead of electricty for lighting or just how domestic water was heated up.

All no doubt will be revealed.

Nor can I remember the fire places.  Most had been taken out and the spaces bordered up before we arrived.  If anyone still has theirs I would like to see them.

Only the main one was still there and this we took out for a mock Tudor surround and gas fire around 1965.

This I suspect was only partly to do with taste and more to do with the simple fact that “this house is likely to be included in a Smokless Zone under the Clean Air Act of 1956 and approved fireplaces must be fitted in to the open fireplaces in the lower rooms by October next.”****

Looking back there is little that I can remember dated before the 1960s.  The previous occupants may or may not have done much to the place but I suspect not.

Just up from our house in 1950
That same surveyor’s report commented that “the house is not in good decorative order and that the whole of the inside will require immediate decoration.”

That said the large master bedroom had been modified with the addition of a gigantic head board which I now realise had been constructed in front of what would have been the fireplace.

Such are the awful acts of the amateur DIY enthusiast and I wonder to this day what awful secrets or more likely what hidden treasures lay behind the laminated mix of timber and hardboard.

Alas I will never know, like so much of that house in Well Hall Road its history has still to be revealed.

Location; Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures; from Well Hall Estate, Eltham:  An Example of Good Housing Built in 1915, S.L.G. Beaufoy

*One hundred years of one house on Well Hall Road,

**Well Hall Estate, Eltham:  An Example of Good Housing Built in 1915, S.L.G. Beaufoy, The Town Planning Review Vol. 21, No 3, October 1950, Liverpool University Press

*** Well Hall Estate, Eltham, S.L.G. Beaufoy, The Town Planning Review Vol. 23, No , July 1952, Liverpool University Press

****Surveyors Report, February 1964.

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