Thursday, 10 August 2017

On Eltham High Street ......... looking for Mr Brown

Now, it is so easy to get lost in an old picture of Eltham.

Eltham Village, date unknown
This is one that my friend Tricia found and posted recently.

The caption says Eltham Village and the post mark on the back is 1904.

That said I think the photograph maybe much older, given that the picture has been heavily retouched.

It is a familiar one showing the old brewery and the High Street.

And as you do I went looking for clues, and there on the corner of the wall on the southern side is a shop sign for Thomas Brown.

The shop of Mr Thomas Brown
This usually offers up a way of anchoring the scene in a time, because Mr Brown should show up on a census return and a street directory.

But he doesn’t.

There is a Thomas Brown and this one lives on Eltham High Street but in the 1880s and 90s he was residing in Sun Yard and gave his occupation variously as a road labourer and gardener.

Nor did he appear to have a son called Thomas.

The earliest street directories I can access are from 1914 and no shop keeper called Thomas Brown appears on the list.

That said I did discover that four doors up from the old Chequers pub were the “dining rooms” run by a Mr Charles Wollard who was still there four years later.

His near businesses included a cycle manufacturer, a watch maker, two confectioners, an oilman, a linen draper, and Mrs Alice Brotherton’s refreshment rooms.

Eltham Brewery
I will in due course go looking for Mr Wollard’s dining rooms which may have been a cut above his rival.  Mrs Alice’s premise were a modest affair and no doubt consisted just of the front room of her five roomed house.

She was there from 1911 and it may well have been a way of making an income after her husband who was a parish road builder had died.

They had lived just over the road in Jubilee Cottages and it would be nice to think that some of her neighbours might have dropped in or that she had a small order delivered from the brewery opposite

Of course that is just fanciful tosh and gets me no nearer a date for the picture postcard, which does not even provide the name of the manufacturer of the card.

Still it is a nice picture and I thank Tricia for finding it.

Location; Eltham

Picture; Eltham Village, circa 1904 from the collection of Tricia Leslie

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