Friday, 1 April 2016

One hundred years of one house in Well Hall part 11 ........... from the first residents to when we moved in

This is the continuing story  of one house in Well Hall Road and of the people who lived there including our family.*

The estate in 1950
Now the great and the good are able to track their family back through the centuries and can pretty much show which of their relatives lived in the ancestral pile right the way back to when the place was built.

Few of us can do the same but just sometimes with a bit of luck and lot of research it is possible to uncover both the residents and the stories of those who occupied a house from its beginning.

Ours was built in 1915 as part of the estate laid out for workers at the Arsenal in Woolwich and while I knew the names of the first two families to live there the rest were unknown.

But using the directories and the electoral rolls it has been possible to discover the identities of all six families who occupied the house from 1915 through till we moved in during the spring of 1964.

And the importance of such a discovery is that it helps tell the story of Well Hall and of Eltham during the Great War and over the next half century.

The first to move into 294 Well Hall were Mr and Mrs Nunn from Ipswich.  He was a blacksmith by trade and in 1911 had been employed in an engineering works.

And it is perhaps easy to see the attractions of their new home over number 56 Rosebery Road in Ipswich which while it had a garden was one of these older mid terraced properties surrounding by similar drab streets.

But in the end it may have just been the work and the Arsenal, because in 1918 with the end of the war and only three years after they settled in Well Hall they left for Ipswich.

With more research it should be possible to determine how many others of those who moved on to the brand new estate stayed to make Eltham their permanent home or like the Nunn’s left.

And that is where the electoral roll comes into its own for unlike the directories which list just the named house holder the rolls provide the names of all those eligible to vote.

So Mrs Brewer two doors down who I knew only as an old lady  living on her own had been in number 290 since the early 1930s, had lost her husband some time during the war, and shared her home with lodgers, having also lived briefly down at Avery Hill.

What is revealing is that some of the families including those in our house moved out and back in during the course of the 1930s and 50s.  I can’t as yet explain why but of course given that most were still rented it would have been easy enough to do.

Looking north up Well Hall Road, 1950
In time it should be possible to discover more about the six families who inhabited the house, including how they made their living and maybe even what they did with themselves.

And that would have been the end of the story but just as I was finishing I came across what I think is a picture of Mrs Nunn and three of her children.

It dates from a little later than 1918 but there staring back at me is the woman who will have cleaned the windows, looked after the garden and walked up the same flight of stairs as me and that I reckon makes for a powerful continuity.

Location;Well Hall, Eltham, London

Pictures; Well Hall Road in 1950, 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 

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