Thursday, 1 March 2018

Rediscovering our recent past the Coldharbour Estate in Eltham sometime in the 1950s

I rather think that we often overlook our most recent past.

There was one history teacher of mine at Samuel Pepys Secondary Modern School who maintained that if wasn’t at least a hundred years old it didn’t class as history.

Now I know what he was getting at but that ignores so much of ore recent past, a past still vivid in the memories of many people.

So today I have decided to look at the Coldharbour Estate some of which will have clocked up sixty-six years of history which makes it older than even me.

The estate is “a large and spacious estate developed on the site of the Coldharbour Farm by the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich from 1947.  It is sliced in two by a major road, William Barefoot Drive, where the small shopping centre and community buildings are located.

The estate was planned as a ‘garden suburb’, and there are many attractive greens.  From the open space at the Court there is a magnificent view of Eltham Lodge.”*

And there is the St Albans Church, “a small red brick church designed by Ralph Covell in 1953 it has a nice square tower and gently bowed window, and is linked by an arcade to the original vicarage.”*

The estate was not some where I knew well but only because none of my friends lived there so I had no reason to visit it, and when you are sixteen there are far more interesting places that call you over.

So I never went and now forty-seven years on and 230 miles further north I guess I won’t.
But that is not to say I have ignored the place.

Like many other post war developments it was a part of that determined effort to provide decent housing in pleasant surroundings.

And Coldharbour must have been significant enough a place to warrant a set of postcards by Tuck and Sons Ltd.

My favourite is the one of Witherstone Way mainly because of what was written on the back which announces that “The HOUSE MARKED X IS MY HOUSE. La maison c’est chez moi”

It has been dated to 1976 but the card must be older and is in that tradition of local communities getting their own visual record of what they were like, along with that even older habit dating back to the beginning of post card of marking the spot where you lived.

And reminds us that once the image had been created the company continued using it despite the fact that by 1976 the cars and the fashions had moved on a full twenty years if or more.

Pictures; Witherstone Way and St Albans Church and the Mound, courtesy of TuckDB,

*Spurgeon Darrell, Discover Eltham, 2000

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