Monday, 3 July 2017

The Story of Royal Eltham and a thank you to Roy Ayers

Pound Place in 1909
Now this is a view of the Eltham which has passed out of living memory.

It is of Pound Place looking north and dates from about 1909 and comes from a wonderful treasure of a book written in that year by R.R.C. Gregory.

I suspect few people now read The Story of Royal Eltham which is a great shame.

For here is a detailed history of the area before and after it slowly was transformed from rural community to suburb.  And what of course makes it even more fascinating is that since it was written at the beginning of the last century Eltham has continued to change, making it a fascinating record of the area at a time before now.

So you can read it as a straight history book or use it to recreate the Eltham of 1909.

Now it has long been out of print but is a firm favourite of those who have a copy and through the hard work of Roy Ayers can be read online at http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm

Roy has carefully digitalised the text and the images as well as producing a biography of R.R.C. Gregory who was an outstanding man. 

I came to the biography last which in some ways is a pity because his life story helps explain how the book came about.

Mr Gregory was a teacher and later the headmaster at Eltham National School from 1901-1920 and the book began as a series of lessons for his students.

Having spent my career in inner city schools teaching history I was drawn to his passionate commitment to education and to the children he taught. 

Mr Roper and staff circa 1920
He had found the Admission Register for the school in 1814 which formed the inspiration of his teaching of local history, which drew praise from the Inspectors.

"The Headmaster directs the work with sympathy and he has striven to maintain the more helpful characteristics of a village school, more especially in regard to the old customs and associations. 

The school is in touch with the homes of the children and a helpful interest has been taken in their after careers. 

There is a very good tone in the school. 

A wise and kindly administration has secured the co-operation of the staff and the regard of the children."(1914).*

Now I could go on, but I have always maintained that if someone has done the research, put in the time and written the story then it is their words which should be read.

Original image from the book
So I will direct you to Roy’s site and while I will with his permission feature bits from it in the future I think it is the Story of Royal Eltham that you should go to.  It is essential reading for any one who like me has not got the book or wants to know more about its author.

Pictures; from The story of Royal Eltham, R.R.C. Gregory, 1909 and published on The story of Royal Eltham, by Roy Ayers, http://www.gregory.elthamhistory.org.uk/bookpages/i001.htm
*quoted by Roy from The story of Royal Eltham,


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