Sunday, 22 January 2017

At the Kings Arms waiting for Fred Wisdom to pull a pint

Now this is one of those familiar pictures of the High Street, looking east towards the church and Court Yard some time in 1915.

It comes from an excellent collection from Greenwich Heritage Centre which I discovered for the first time today.

On the surface it is interesting enough but it is the clues it offers up about some of the people who lived along this bit of the High street.

And because Mr Digby who took the picture focused on the Kings Arms I shall start with the pub and its landlord Fred Wisdom.

I can’t be sure when he took over the place but four years earlier he had been running the Railway Bell in Tonbridge.

He lived here with his wife Elizabeth, their two young children and his two nieces who worked behind the bar and described themselves as assistants.

And there is more because I know that Fred was born in 1878, Elizabeth two years earlier and they had been married in 1899.

I doubt we will ever know why they moved to Eltham but they were here by 1914 and were still pulling pints six years later.

All of which came from trawling the street directories and electoral registers which supply the names of the rest of the inhabitants on the block running up to Court Yard.

But for now my attention has been drawn to the big billboard on the gable end.

It is advertising the serialization of a story by Hall Cains who was one of the most popular novelists in the later Victorian and Edwardian period with many of his books being turned into films.

According to one source they were primarily romances, involving love triangles, but also addressed some of the more serious political and social issues of the day.

And as if on cue the book advertised as being serialized in the popular Reynolds’s News was Woman Thou Gavest Me. which I shall go looking for.

But I will just leave you back on the High Street in 1915.

Picture; the Old Kings Head, High Street Eltham, GRW 276,
courtesy of Greenwich Heritage Centre,

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