Greenwich firefighters remember Invicta school bombing

Invicta memorial
Firefighters and pupils at the Invicta memorial this morning (photo: Steve Hunnisett)

Last year, The Charlton Champion visited Invicta Primary School in Siebert Road to see a memorial plaque unveiled to commemorate the 15 people killed when it was bombed in 1940. This morning, firefighters returned to remember the dead. Local war historian STEVE HUNNISETT was there.

A simple and informal ceremony this morning saw the present day firefighters from Greenwich Fire Station honouring their Second World War counterparts, twelve of whom were killed at Invicta Primary School on the night of 14 November 1940 when the school was in use as Station 54X of the Auxiliary Fire Service.

Ironically, it was a quiet night in London, with the main focus of the Luftwaffe’s attacks being the city of Coventry. It was because of this lack of activity in the capital that the firemen based at Invicta Road were still at their station when the parachute mine that was to destroy the school drifted down. The explosion buried the men under tons of rubble and apart from the twelve firemen, three civilians, including the school caretaker, were killed.

This morning’s wreath laying was carried out by Richard Melrose, station manager at Greenwich Fire Station and the Watch Manager of White Watch and was the third such ceremony since the plaque was installed by the charity Firemen Remembered in March 2017.


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Remembering those who served in World War I: The stories behind the names on Charlton’s war memorials

Charlton War Memorial

This Sunday, 11 November, marks 100 years since the end of World War I. Our thanks to local historian BARBARA HOLLAND for this piece looking back at the lives of the local men who lost their lives in the “war to end all wars”.

Many of the names of those who died in World War I are recorded on public war memorials in towns and villages across the country. Charlton is home to three of these: the War Memorial in The Village and two in Charlton Cemetery, looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The men whose names are inscribed on the memorials lost their lives in many different countries and different services.   Not all died during fighting: accidents and illness took their toll as well. Not all were young men: older men wanted to enlist as well to serve their country and use their experience and skills. Some lied about their age in order to join up. Not all the Charlton war dead were recorded on the memorial: other names have been found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database.

Behind the death of each of these men is a story of family loss. I’ve picked out just a few names to tell you a little bit more about them, their families and their service.

Charlton Village War Memorial

Money for the cross came from hundreds of small donations given in memory of the hundreds of local men who had died in the War. It has a bronze sword of sacrifice on the front face, with a bronze plaque and the names of the men inscribed on seven-stone tablets on the bases.

A new bronze tablet was placed over the original one in May 1955, to commemorate those who had died in both world wars. A new Book of Remembrance, listing the names of 314 men and one woman, was later dedicated by the Bishop of Woolwich at a service in St.Luke’s Church and is now kept on display in the church in a glass case. (Thanks here to Mike Leach who did the original research on the names in the Book of Remembrance).

Their stories

For Britain, the First World War started on 4 August 1914 and the earliest deaths on the Village memorial recorded were on 22 September. This was the date when Navy Stoker 1st Class, Thomas Arthur Jobbins, aged 28, lost his life when his ship, HMS Aboukir was sunk by a German U-boat off the Dutch coast. The same U-boat also sank HMS Cressy and HMS Hogue with a total loss of life of 1,450 men on the same day.

Thomas was the son of Albert and Margaret Jobbins of 10 Ransom Road, Charlton, and left a widow Annie Agnes Jobbins. Albert and Margaret sadly were to lose a second son, on 13 April 1917. He was John Frederick Jobbins, a private in the 6th Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment.

Wilfred Arthur Hewlett also lost his life, aged 32, on the Aboukir leaving a sister living at 9 Sandtoft Road, and Alfred Frederick Holford died, aged 35, on the Cressy leaving a widow living at 62 Inverine Road.

Thomas Henry Woodmore, Guardsman in the 1stBattalion Welsh Guards, was one of nearly 11,000 casualties on 11 November 1918, the final day of the war. Thomas was born in Charlton in 1895 to Thomas Jacob and Edith Woodmore, followed in 1899 by his brother Harold Francis. They lived at 49 Sundorne Road. Harold also enlisted, joining the 3rd Royal West Kent Regiment in 1917. He was posted on 20 November 1918, only a few days after his brother’s death. He survived the war after being discharged in 1919 with anaemia and lived until 1968.

The Charlton Memorial has the names of a number of brothers who lost their lives.

The Tumber brothers – the Tumber family, living at 686 Woolwich Road, lost three sons in the space of just five months. The first to die was John Robert Tumber, aged 22, on 9 July 1917. He was serving on the ship HMS Vanguard in Scapa Flow when it was rocked by a series of explosions. The ship sunk instantly, killing 843 out of the 845 men aboard.

Edmund David Tumber enlisted for six years with the 20th London Regiment in March 1914 at the age of 17. He was posted to France with the Royal West Kent Regiment in 1915 and wounded twice before being killed in action on 26 October 1917 aged 20.

George Edmund Tumber enlisted with 1st/19th London Regiment and died on 2 December 1917 at the age of 25, leaving a widow, Charlotte.

The Friday brothers – Herbert John Friday and William George Friday were the sons of William and Mary Friday who lived at 9 Hopedale Road. They enlisted together in the 20th London Regiment and were both killed in action on the same day – 20 October 1915. Herbert was 23 and William 25. Less than 2 months after their deaths a third brother, Ernest Percival, enlisted. He survived the war.

The George brothers – John Edward George (not on the memorial) and Thomas Hamlet George enlisted in the 6th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent) on the same day – 3 September 1914 – and died on the same day – 13 October 1915. John was 39 and Thomas 35. A third brother, Charles Arthur, also enlisted but survived the war. Their parents, Josiah and Angelina lived at 17 North Street. Thomas left a widow, Louisa, who lived at 38 Derrick Gardens.

Another 10 pairs of brothers also lost their lives – Atwell, Brooks, Daly, Hankins, Hussey, Kerswell, Lind, Lomas, Shorter, and Sturgis.

Thomas Edwin Brooker was one of 8 men named on the Village War Memorial who died when they were 50 or more years old. He was born in 1865 and had served in the Army prior to the War from 1887 to 1903, and re-enlisted on 13 August 1914. Although by then he was 48 years old, he declared his age as 40 years and 242 days. He served in France until 1 April 1915 when he developed rheumatic fever and returned to England to be treated in hospital. He was declared fit again on 2 July 1915, but died at Aldershot only a few weeks later on 11 August of a cerebral haemorrhage. He left a widow, Elizabeth, living at 58 Eversley Road.

Many of the men named on the Memorial were only teenagers when they died: two were only boys of 17:

Reginald Edgar S Pinson was the son of William and Mary Pinson who lived at 7 Charlton Church Lane. He enlisted with 6th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment and was shipped with the British Expeditionary Force to France on 1 June 1915. It was just over two months later when he was killed in action on 14 August 1915.

Harold William Allan was the son of William and Charlotte Allan living at 112 Charlton Lane. He was born in 1897, but had enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment on 16 July 1912 at the age of just 15, having declared his age to be 18 years and 3 months.   His battalion, the 1st, shipped to France on 15 August 1914. He was killed in action on 28 October 1914.

The last name I’ve picked out is A. Zeitz on the Royal Naval tablet on the Memorial. It is out of order so was added on at some point after the other names:

His full name is Arthur Alfred Alexander Zeitz, born in Berlin in January 1876 to Theodore and Helena Zeitz. He married his wife Christina Hanny in 1905 and they had one daughter Helena Margaret (Nellie) in 1908. By 1914, the family were living at 36 Atlas Gardens in Anchor and Hope Lane.

Arthur joined the Navy in 1897, where his place of birth is recorded as Marylebone and his occupation a carpenter. He served until 1906 when he bought himself out and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. He then re-enrolled in July 1911 for 5 years, but served until demobbed on 14 February 1919. He died in August of that year and was buried on 20 August in Charlton Cemetery. His burial record shows his occupation as ‘crane erector’.

As to why his name is out of order, I don’t have an answer. His death may have been too late to be carved in alphabetical order, although the Memorial wasn’t unveiled until October 1920. Was there a question of whether his death wasn’t as a result of his war service?

Maybe, if he was German-born, anti-German feeling prevented his name being added?

Charlton Cemetery memorials

Charlton Cemetery has 59 graves containing burials from World War I which are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A War Cross commemorates these men, and there is also a special memorial located near the entrance which bears the name of 2 soldiers and 2 sailors whose graves are not marked by headstones.

The four men whose names are inscribed here died in this country, in very different circumstances.

Arthur Victor Lomas died on 28 March 1916 aged only 18. He was an Ordinary Seaman serving on the ship HMS Conquest. He was on the ship’s boat returning from shore leave near Harwich when it was lost in a snow storm. The boat foundered and all 39 men on board drowned. He lived at 16 Lydenburg Street with his parents, Joseph and Louisa Lomas, the second of their sons to die in the war. Arthur’s brother, Albert Henry Lomas had died a year earlier on 13 March 1915 while serving with the 2nd Devonshire Regiment in France. (Both names are on the Village Memorial).

Arthur William Powell served as a Rifleman with the 16th Battalion London (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) Regiment. He died on 10 December 1914 aged 40 after being run over by a lorry on Woolwich Road. He was married to Fanny Powell living at 66 Westcombe Hill, Blackheath, and had 2 daughters, Audrey born in 1902 and Edith born in 1908.

Maurice Smith, a Canadian by birth, landed in France on 19 May 1915 and died on 24 February 1916 age 51. He died in St. Bartholomew’s Hospital of wounds received while fighting in Hooge with the 7th Battalion Rifle Brigade. He left a widow, Fanny, and lived at 23 Wyndcliff Road. (Also on the Village Memorial).

Robert Ernest Stead died on 13 March 1916 aged 32. He was a deckhand on HMS Victory and died of illness while at Royal Navy Barracks at Portsmouth. His sister, Mrs E Cockshott, lived at 14 Tuskar Street, Greenwich.


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Celebrating Charlton’s history: Should these SE7 landmarks be locally listed?

Rose of Denmark pub Woolwich Road Charlton
Could the Rose of Denmark pub be added to Greenwich Council’s Local Heritage List?

We’re grateful to Charlton Champion reader BECKY HOLMES for submitting this post on Greenwich Council’s consultation on the area’s historically interesting buildings.

Greenwich Council recently invited nominations for Local Heritage Listing – and has just opened a public consultation on the “architectural, historic and environmental” merits of the proposals. 

It says: “The purpose of the local list is to identify buildings, structures and monuments of local architectural or historic importance and to preserve their features of interest as far as possible.”

Interestingly, it’s the first time the council has received nominations from community groups and individuals, while be be considered alongside its own proposals. The Lee Forum and Positive Plumstead Project groups have both contributed.

Nominations include an eclectic compilation of buildings, details and structures – from bridges to pubs, to railway stations and lighthouses. “Local heritage listing is a way for local communities to identify and celebrate historic buildings which enrich and enliven their area.”

I found out about the heritage listing by chance, after getting in touch with the conservation team on the Charlton Riverside Heritage Consultation. It felt like the conservation effort should cross Woolwich Road and by a bit of luck this opportunity came up.

‘An underdog at risk of losing its identity’

I haven’t lived in the area for long but I already feel really protective over it – slightly unloved and riddled with traffic pollution, but with an amazing industrial heritage and lots of interesting details. It’s an underdog at risk of losing its identity due to over-development.

A few favourite local nominations include the Angerstein freight railway crossing and alley by Fairthorn Road – built in the 1850s by local landowner John Julius Angerstein so workers could better access Combe Farm, which sat at the bottom of Westcombe Hill (Angerstein’s collection of paintings funded the National Gallery). Locals still cross here everyday.

It’s modest and unpretentious and that’s why it suits the area so well – like something out of a Famous Five novel. It’s a breath of fresh air next to the concrete traffic jams of the A2. Despite walking through the dim alley at dusk, hoping that the person behind is a friendly commuter and not an axe murderer, I’d hate to lose it.

Similarly, the strip of old factory walls and old doors on Ramac Way have a time-worn feel to them. As the last factory walls standing, they feel like a poignant reminder of the need to preserve local industrial heritage and that this area hasn’t always been a place to buy stuff but a place where we made stuff – useful stuff! Transatlantic electrical cables, shipping propellors, batteries, Bakelite telephones as well as Airfix kits, the stuff of childhood dreams.

The Rose of Denmark pub also feels like an unsung hero. Its post-war styling is very evocative of the area and style of the old Valley ground.

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Characterful heritage buildings are at risk with all the new development – nowhere feels safe from redevelopment! Hopefully by adding more heritage spots, more people will appreciate the history of the area – and it might help encourage sympathetic development in the months and years to come.

Have your say on the architectural, historic and environmental value of the nominations.The consultation documents are available online here.

Comments on the architectural, historic and environmental merits of nominations should be given by email or post, by 5pm on 30 October 2018.
By email: planning.policy[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk
By post: Royal Borough of Greenwich, Planning Policy Team, 5th Floor, The Woolwich Centre, 35 Wellington Street, London, SE18 6HQ

Find out more and view Greenwich Council’s current heritage list here.

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Charlton Assembly Rooms given Grade II listing by Historic England

Charlton Assembly Rooms
Part of the frontage of Charlton Assembly Rooms (photo: Neil Clasper)

The Assembly Rooms in Charlton Village have been given a Grade II listing by Historic England in recognition of the building’s special architectural and historic interest.

Opened in 1881 and funded by Sir Spencer Maryon-Wilson, whose family lived at Charlton House, the building continues to function as a community facility and is currently run by the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

It was used by Siemens for war production before being handed over to St Luke’s Church in 1946. But by the early 1970s, the building was under threat of demolition. It was saved by the Save Charlton Assembly Rooms Project, which handed the building to Greenwich Council in 1983.

Historic England says:

The Charlton Assembly Rooms, a community hall of 1881, designed by J Rowland in the Jacobean Revival style, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* a good example of a late-C19 Jacobean Revival style community hall, designed in an exuberant, thoughtful and richly decorated form;
* good quality materials are used to strong architectural effect, including red brick, terracotta and stone detailing;
* the exterior of the hall is little altered, and the interior retains its original plan and stage.

Historical interest:
* the assembly rooms illustrate the continued influence of Charlton House and the Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity on the community of Charlton during the late-C19 and C20;
* as an example of Victorian philanthropy, and the impact of a wealthy benefactor on community hall design.

Group value:
* with the Grade I Charlton House, through their shared Jacobean design characteristics and mutual benefactor;
* with the Grade II* Church of St Luke with Holy Trinity, with which it shares some classically inspired design characteristics, and through C20 use and ownership.

You can read more on the Historic England website.

18-32 Bowater Road
English Heritage has opted not to list 18-32 Bowater Road (photo: Neil Clasper)

Meanwhile, Historic England has issued a “certificate of immunity” for one of the former Siemens factory blocks by the Thames Barrier, 18-32 Bowater Road, meaning it cannot be given a national listing in the next five years.

Developer U+I plans to redevelop the site, keeping this building but demolishing adjacent 37 Bowater Road, as part of a scheme to build shops, offices and up to 520 homes. Both sites are locally listed by Greenwich Council.

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Talk about Charlton Village and the future of SE7 at the Charlton Society on Saturday

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Here’s the Charlton Society‘s chair, Carol Kenna…

Please join us in the first of the Charlton Society’s ‘HAVE YOUR SAY’ sessions. The aim is to strengthen the community’s influence over Greenwich Council’s planning and environmental policies.

The starting point for the session is Charlton Village – still the heart of Charlton. Our guest speaker will be Clare Loops, the council’s planning policy manager. 

To kick off the Council’s consultation process, we’ve asked her to tell us about its draft Charlton Village Conservation Area Management Strategy.

And that’s just the start! After Clare’s presentation, questions and a short tea break, we will split up into four groups for the ‘HAVE YOUR SAY’ session.

The groups will discuss not only the Village Conservation Area proposals but also what we like or dislike about Charlton as a whole, what’s special or unique about it, and how we see its future – from Shooters Hill to the River Thames. And don’t forget: this is a future that must take into account the avalanche of change happening all around Charlton.

Comparing notes together at the end of the session, we believe we can begin to lay the basis on which the community can help shape Council policy.

We look forward to seeing you at Charlton House.

The event’s open to all, and runs from 2.30pm to 5pm on Saturday 19 March.

The Conservation Area Management Strategy’s something all councils have to do with their conservation areas – they update them, take bits out, add new areas, and set requirements for what you can or can’t do if you own a property in the area.

This plan sees the council expand the area around Charlton Church Lane, Lansdowne Lane and Hornfair Park. You can find out more about what the council wants to do in this draft document. (The full, final document is released on Monday 21 March, so don’t take this version as gospel.)

If you’re at all interested in the history of Charlton, an accompanying document sets out the history of the area, and just why the area around Charlton Village is so special. It’s a hefty tome, quite different in tone from the usual council documents, and well worth a read. You’ll find a draft of the Character Appraisal here. (Again, a final version is released on Monday 21 March, which will supersede this one.) 

Want to see more? You can find out more about the borough’s conservation areas and read appraisals for other districts on the Greenwich Council website. Even more? Try Blackheath’s appraisal on Lewisham’s website.)

With the hugely important new Charlton riverside masterplan due to come after the mayoral election, the Charlton Society hopes Saturday’s event will start to get local people properly involved in the discussions about the area’s long-term future.

Local historical records ‘rediscovered’ at Charlton House

Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust have been in touch with news of a discovery in the cellar of Charlton House: 

WW1 History of Greenwich Borough uncovered as Charlton House’s Locked Vault is opened for the first time in memory.

Staff and volunteers at Charlton House in London have made an extraordinary discovery, in the cellar of the historic building.

Charlton House, part of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, has ‘rediscovered’ historical records and leather bound documents relating to the local area, and dating back more than 150 years.

Hidden deep in the basement of Charlton House, the vault containing the records has been locked since before the building was handed over to the Trust 8 years ago. Amongst the items discovered inside is the First World War Memorial Book for the Borough, containing the names of local men who served during the 1914-1918 war and a 100 year old log book for the local church – St Luke’s, which details all services and is annotated with significant events such as the Silvertown Explosion.

Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust explained: “We don’t know exactly how long it is since the vault was last opened, but the documents inside are very exciting and likely to be of significant interest to local historians and genealogists”

The Trust plans to display the discoveries at their forthcoming Great War exhibition, which takes place at the Greenwich Heritage Centre in February.

The documents and books will now be examined by preservation experts to ensure that their condition does not deteriorate.

There’s not been much information available on progress with Charlton House since it was quietly transferred to Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust in 2014, so we’re glad to hear that things are happening, and hope to see more video updates from the Heritage Trust. A shame, though, that their latest finds aren’t going on display in Charlton House itself.

Charlton ghost sign uncovers long-lost Arthur Cooper wine merchant

Bramshot Avenue
Work to convert a corner shop in Bramshot Avenue into a house has revealed a sign belonging to a long-gone chain of wine merchants.

The ghost sign reveals the old off-licence on the corner of Wyndcliff Road used to be part of the Arthur Cooper chain of wine merchants, which by the 1970s was a 300-strong chain of stores, mainly across southern England and south Wales.

Arthur Cooper wine merchant

Part of the Courage brewing giant, the name fell into disuse by the 1980s and the chain seems to have been all but forgotten about.

If you remember this as Arthur Cooper, it’d be great to hear your memories. You can still bid for some Arthur Cooper wine coasters on eBay…

(Thanks to Tweeter @CDPL1 for pointing me in the right direction on Arthur Cooper.)