Woolwich & Districts
We need your help!
... with the places & buildings below
If you have anything that can help
Two houses in Roydene Road
Jane Funnell asks:
I am doing some research on a
building (now two houses) in Roydene Road,
Plumstead and I wondered if any of your
contributors remember the building. It is about
half way down Roydene on the right-hand side
coming from Sladedale. It is set back from the
road between the terrace of nos. 46 and 50. I
believe it was most recently a car repair shop
but formerly a haulage depot and before that
I have had limited luck with my
research and would appreciate anything anyone
Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society
Lorna Chudasama asks if anyone has
more information on the Royal Arsenal
(Click on photo for larger view)
This lovely old photo is on a used
postcard dated Dec 28 1906. The wording high on
the Building is Royal Arsenal Co-operative Soc.
Ltd and above shop fronts is the wording
Butchers Department, Grocery & Provisions,
Drapery & Hosiery. I haven't been able to
establish precisely when it opened or its exact
location in Woolwich or whether indeed the
building still stands. I would suspect however,
that it was the Co-operative Store where my
grandmother shopped (with the disapproval of my
grandfather for whatever reason I don't know but
probably political) and valued the dividends.
[Dr Peter Vlachos advises:
This was in Kennard Street, off Albert Road, in
E16. The same photo is referenced in
Bloch's book on Newham's docklands.
The two houses on the right remain. Where
the Coop building stood is now a row of newer
Kennard Street was the 'border' between North
Woolwich and Silvertown (East Ham).
According to maps, the east side of the street
(footpath and houses) was in North Woolwich.
(Except for the northern-most house, at which,
so far as I can tell, the border ran through the
property). The street itself and the
footpath on the west side are in Silvertown.]
I have learned that in 1760
co-operative corn mills were built in Woolwich
by dock workers. The dock workers objected to
the high prices charged by mill owners who often
supplied adulterated flour. Quoting from
publishers Adam Matthews:
“Woolwich features significantly in the history
of co-operative action. The first Co-operative
cornmill was founded there in 1760 (well before
the births of Robert Owen (1771-1858) and George
Holyoake (1817-1906), the founding fathers of
the British Co-operative movement) and traded
successfully for over 80 years. Less successful
ventures included a Co-operative butcher's shop
(1805-1811); the Woolwich Bakery Society (1842);
a Co-operative Coal Society (1845); the Woolwich
Co-operative Provident Society (1851); and the
Woolwich and Plumstead Co-operative Society
(1860). But these all showed that the idea of
co-operative action was alive in Woolwich and
paved the way for the establishment of the Royal
Arsenal Co-operative Society [henceforth RACS]
(founded in 1868 as the Royal Arsenal Supply
Association, renamed as the RACS in 1872)”.
One of the links for more information
surrounding the co-operative societies
background is as follows:
My mother was looking at the
postcard yesterday (24/4/2007) but didn’t
recognise it. She told me that quite often when
they were living in the Army flats, she and her
sister Winnie were sent to the Co-op to do the
shopping. One day, on their way back with heavy
bags, three young boys followed them and calmly
helped themselves to the contents of the
shopping bags. My mother and her sister were too
frightened to do anything. They weren't scolded
for losing the groceries but they were never
sent again. Presumably the Co-op where my
grandmother shopped was within walking distance
from Artillery Place.
Plumstead High Street - Austin's Sweet shop
I'm looking for old photo's of
Plumstead High Street, c 1900, as my Great Grand
Parents had a shop along there, but no one has
any photo's of the area in our family. It was a
sweet shop and their surname was Austin' - Helen
If you can help in any way please email me.
The Four Aces
Pete Fisk wants to know if anyone
can help him with this question;
“It is said that my grandfather,
Joseph Charles Howard, had a cafe just outside
the Woolwich Arsenal in the early 1930s
(possibly earlier) called 'The Four Aces ' (or
Apparently it was along the Arsenal
wall somewhere. It could have been a permanent
business with a proper address or, maybe, some
sort of a mobile establishment, such as a
I'm not familiar with the area, so
if my description is sketchy it is because it is
only passed-down information from my mother and
I am, sadly, no longer able to update this
If you can possibly help in any way
Old Woolwich House
Having logged on to the Plumstead
stories site and seeing the old Woolwich House I
thought you may like to share my memories of
My Aunt lived there until the early
1950's. I do not know the date of when she moved
there, but it was before the outbreak of WW2.
The House was named Cambridge House,
No: 23, Plumstead Road, S.E.18. The house was
owned by Dr.Wise and his daughter who was Dr.
Eileen Wise. No: 23 was their Practice. Both
doctors were highly respected and well liked.
My Aunt was the Housekeeper and
responsible for keeping the Consulting Room, the
Waiting room and the Dispensary in good order.
The rest of the house was my Aunt and Uncle's
residence, and very nice too!
The garden was as impressive as the
house. My Father used to take my brother and me
on Saturday mornings to do the gardening work
for my Aunt.
The doubled fronted house had a very
large hall and the staircase had quality
covering. Each tread had a brass edging which
was highly polished. The floor had Victorian
tiles. The rooms seemed very large.
Around the 1950's to the 1970's the
house was an Estate Agent's then a Dental
Technician's. I am not sure if
the Estate Agent's Clarke and Esplin were before
or after the Dental Technician's.
I feel sad that the house has been
so neglected. I doubt whether it could be
I am pleased to share my happy
memories of 'No: 23' as it was affectionately
known to our family.
Does any one have any idea of what
the attached building is/was? And any story
behind it? Its on Beresford St. (I think) and is
in Woolwich area.
Paul Talling (www.derelictlondon.com)
If you can possibly help in any way
Clisby's General Store
Janet Gardner (nee Clisby)
My Dad Cyril Clisby and his brother Tom, taken
outside the shop their parents owned in
Plumstead in the 1920's,
I am not sure of the name of the road it was in,
but Villiers Place comes to mind. All I can
remember is if you went down Vicarage Park, you
seem to be continually walking down hill until
you came to a parade of shops.'
If anyone recognizes the shop and
can remember where it was situated could they
please let me
Janet Gardner (nee Clisby) asks;
Our family, (Cyril Clisby was my
Dad) moved into Cowan House, Barnfield Gardens,
when it had just been completed in 1947, our
family then moved to Slough in 1958.
I would be really interested to see if anybody
remembers living there at Cowan House over the
period we lived there.
My two brothers and my two sisters, between us
we can remember a lot of the families that lived
in Cowan House over that span of years between
1947 and 1958.
If anyone has any recollections
please contact me.
Oliver Pell Control Factory
My family were mainly East Wickham
(notably Graves coal merchants) but my mother
worked at a factory which I am told made among
other things motors for hair dryers in Plumstead
in the 1960s and I think it was called Oliver
Pell Control. I cannot however find any trace of
it but wondered if you knew of it?'
P.S. Harry Lane
says, OLIVER PELL CONTROL were situated at both
Cambridge Row and Frederick Place in S.E.18.
It is also mentioned as being in
Burrage Road in a story on my web site, called.
'Alfred James Boon, 1910-1998 - His early life
- New info 23 Apr 2022 from
Gordon Dawson (many thanks)
“English Varley Duplex Magnet Company Ltd”
was formed on 22nd May 1897 in Derby.
started by my great, great uncle, Benjamin
Varley who was the chairman (there were a
number of other investors).
Benjamin Varley, born in Gargrave,
Yorkshire, was a Mason and also Traffic
Manager for the Midland Railways, based in
The family story has it that Varley Magnets
introduced a machine which wound multiple
electrical coils, at the same time, which
gave it a lead in the markets.
My grandfather, Willie Varley, Benjamin’s
nephew, was born near Keighley in Yorkshire
and had studied engineering at local trade
Around 1898 Benjamin must have persuaded
Willie to join him at Derby, presumably to
handle the engineering side of the business.
Oliver Pell had, meanwhile, started an arc
lamp manufacturing business in Finsbury in
1898. In 1900 Oliver transferred the
business to premises at Burrage
Road/Cambridge Terrace, Woolwich and was
joined by Mr W.M.D Pell This became
Oliver-Pell Electrical and Manufacturing
Sometime between 1903 and 1907 Oliver Pell
seems to have bought the Varley Magnet
Company (VMC), and name, and moved it from
Derby to Burrage Road, Plumstead.
I don’t know any details but my grandfather,
his wife and two daughters (one was my
mother) moved to Plumstead so that he could
continue working for VMC.
In 1917 Oliver created “Oliver Pell Control”
and took over the original Oliver-Pell
Electrical in 1922.
Willie Varley continued to work, as Foreman,
at the Plumstead factory until he died in
1934. His daughters joined the factory as
coil winders (Lillian continued until she
retired in the 1960s and Violet, my mother,
until she married in 1938 and moved to
VMC/Oliver Pell was particularly buoyant
during WWII thanks to many Admiralty
contracts but after the war a lack of
military contracts caused the business to
become less successful. The company also
patented a large number of electrical
products over the years.
In late 1976 Thorn Electrical bought out the
Oliver Pell shares and moved the business to
one of their own sites, I believe it was a
Morphy Richards site.
At its peak, in the early 1960s, the Varley
Magnet Company was employing 600 people.
Sheppey Gazzette Nov 11th 2011.
Finally, the island's Job Centre was
appealing for help from employers in finding
work for those at the Thorn Electrical
factory, which was to close its doors.
Trading in the town as Oliver Pell Control,
most of its workforce of 108 were women. The
Sheppey Gazette reported the town's growing
concern at so many women being made
redundant given the – very precise – figures
that showed 287 women were already out of
work on the island.
The “Varley Magnet Company” name and logo
were no longer used after 23/10/1963.
Keyswitch Varley acquired the well
established Oliver Pell Ltd in 1979 and
later went on to merge with Clifford &
Snell relays which, in 1980, became the
Control product division of Signature
Genesta Road/Wrottesly Road
Paul Cavender asks:
Regarding the aerial view of
Genesta Road / Wrottesly Road showing the
destruction caused by four V.1s. Does anyone
know what the tall monument type building in the
middle of the road is. It appears to have
windows in. See attached photo. (Click on photo
for a much larger view)
Any information please email me.
Gallions Mount School class photos 1958-65
Sue Thynne asks:
I am true Plumstead born and bread.
I was born in 1953 and went to school at
Gallions Mount Primary School, in Purrett Road.
My partner was also at this school
as well, we had a very good 50th reunion, with
12 of our class friends.
We all recognised each other, even
after so many years.
We had a few pictures of each
other, but we are trying to find a
class picture from the time we were there,
from 1958 to 1965, but with no avail.
We also have spoken to one of the
teachers who came on the school journey with us
to Broadstaires in Kent. He took a video of us
all, but this was lent to a parent and never
returned. We are desperate
for some help to locate these
pictures and the video.
If anyone can help in locating any
photo(s) and or the video, please email me.
Sons - Funeral Directors
Jill Freeman asks if anyone has any
information in regards to two inquiries about
her great uncle Matthew
I'm researching my family tree. When
a great great uncle of
mine was buried, the undertakers used was a firm
called Messent and Sons.
I am wanting any information in regards to this
If anyone can help in locating any information,
Sandra Hempel (Author of 'The Medical Detective:
John Snow, Cholera and the Mystery of the Broad
Street Pump (Granta) paperback now out, £7.99)
I am currently researching a new book ("The
Inheritor's Powder" to be published by Weidenfeld
and Nicolson next year) based around the murder of
George Bodle in Plumstead in
1833. I've done a lot of research already into the
village as it was then and the people involved but
wondered if any one might have or know of any
useful contacts who had/have any specialist
knowledge of Plumstead at that time? I am
particularly interested in a farmhouse which later
became known as Montague House. I think it might
have been called Poles Farm in the 18th century.
Please email me.
Bloomfield, & Lewisham Rugby Club
I would like information about Greenwich Rugby
club, located on Plumstead Common and was formed
in 1986 from an amalgamation of two previous clubs
- Bloomfield and Lewisham rugby clubs. I would
like to hear from former members of all these
clubs, also any pictures of the teams and any
pictures of the common outside the club or of the
club pavilion from any year.
We know that before Bloomfield rugby club took
on the building in the seventies. It was used for
cricket. We are after any pictures of the field
before we were there; of any sporting activities
and if any one has pictures of the rugby club or
players from the last 40 years or before, or of
the buildings history.
Please contact Nick,
Greenwich RFC. tel London: 078960 609796 or
please email me.
School Badges and Mottoes
WANTED SCHOOL BADGES & MOTTOES:
I am wanting pictures/descriptions of the school
badges and mottoes of all the schools in and
around the Woolwich/Plumstead and districts, both
past and present schools.
Any photo of, and or drawing of, and any
description of, would be most welcome, along with
any school motto.
Please email me.
crash in WWII
Geoff Nutkins, curator at Shoreham
Aircraft Museum wants any information about
a Spitfire that crashed during WWII in the
'As I understand it, the Spitfire crashed by the
side of the road further towards Bostall Hill on
the opposite side to the Maybloom Club. I think it
was maybe 1942 or 43? Details are very sketchy to
say the least! so any help would be lovely.'
me if you can help.