Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A car, a row of shops and a liitle bit more is revealed about the history of Well Hall Road

Now I like the way that a photograph can draw you in and sends you off on all sorts of new enquiriess.

Mr Abbot's car on Well Hall Road, circa 1950s
So it was with this one that Kath May shared with me.

She wrote that “My Nan lived on Well Hall Road and this was my uncle Bob’s car outside her house.”

He owned it in the 1950s and has promised to jot down anything he can remember about the car.

The number plate suggests it would have been registered sometime between 1903 and the early 1930s and of course there will be someone out there who recognises the make and may offer up the date it was made.

All of which leaves me to concentrate on the buildings behind which when I lived on Well Hall Road I just took for granted.

We sometimes got our papers from the corner shop, I had my hair cut at the barbers and mum bought our first Roberts radio from the electrical shop and yes we used Wells the Chemist and the small supermarket which I think was still trading as Delroy’s and I even have sat for a drink in the cafe.

But I never at any time ever gave a thought to when they were built and only recently when I discovered that part of the site had been occupied by Well Hall Cottages did I wonder about the date of the construction.

Well Hall Road, 1937
And as ever it was Tricia Lesley who went looking for answers.

The cottages which may date from the mid 18th century were demolished in 1923 and the present properties built in 1937.*

What is remarkable is the continuity of businesses, many of which were still there when we arrived in 1964.

Now armed with a directory it should be possible to do that bit of research comparing the shops in 1937 with 1964 and 2015 which is all good history allowing us to draw conclusions about changing shopping patterns.

And even given the passage of 78 years some shops have continued to offer the same service, although like everywhere the onward march of the takeaway is all too present along with the Tesco Express in the new build which was once that bit of open ground with the small community hut.

I had quite forgotten that this new build is very new and that on one of my last flying visits in 2008 the site was still the small hall and bit of green.

All of which is grist to the local historian and leaves me to reflect that I bought a Mars bar most school days from nu 5 Odeon Parade and once visited the hair dresser's next door, and only the once for having carefully explained what I wanted, came back with a "short back and sides."

And it just so happens that Mr Birch was related to Tricia who helped with the story. "My uncle Harold Birch  was married to my dads older sister the one who wrote me all those lovely letters of her days living in the huts."

Now that is how I like my history!  But he still gave me the wrong haircut.

*Additional research by Tricia Leslie including material from The Eltham Hutments by John Kennett, 1988

Picture; Mr Abbot’s car circa 1950s, from the collection of Kath May


  1. Absolutely great piece & story thank you, also further confirmation of why I don't bother with haircuts!

  2. R Dennis was where i done me paper round
    Anderson's i remember the chemist
    Shoe-craft was where we got soled,heeled and later segged
    Hairdresser, there was one in here somewhere
    Bass? off licence, where we returned Coke or Pepsi bottles borrowed from the rear of the cafe
    Peark's same as westhorne ave,
    Well Hall garage sat in the gap between buildings with a repair shop at the rear side of alley,
    free air and brought petrol for scooter.
    Foreboys I remember the name ? I think
    Birch hairdressers never used
    Finleys for sweets and fags when flush going to the flicks
    It's definatly making me delve into my back room of memory's