Thursday, 21 November 2013

email address added.

The one thing I've never put up - due to confusion of how to do it - is put an email address on the blog. I've found out how to do this now and you will see it on the right hand side. So please email me if you wish and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Pie and Mash Shop.

Markets and Pie and Mash shops seem to go together, and it's not without reason that this is so.

The two pie and mash shops that predominated in Lambeth and Waterloo were Burroughs at 146 Lambeth Walk and R Cooke's at 84 The Cut, both, sadly now gone.

Previous to shops selling produce, pies and live eels were sold in the street to passers-by; the piemen were a regular site on London's streets, even being included in a nursery rhyme “Simple Simon”.

Much of the meat and eels that were used was of dubious quality, the eels sometimes being dead a long time before being prepared and these were mixed in with live eel meat . In those days the resulting food poisoning could be fatal. In order to sometimes get rid of old stock, the piemen would indulge in the game of 'tossing the pieman' in which people, usually boys, would toss a coin and if the pieman won he took the money but if the person won he got a pie for free, if the piemen gave them dubious pies, it was a win/win situation for them.

The first recorded Eel and Pie shop was at 101 Union Street, Southwark, just a slip and a slither away from the New Cut Market; Henry Blanchard is listed in Kelly's street directories in 1844 as selling a variety of pies offering fillings such as Eels, meats or fruits, these were sold for a penny each. In addition to this, live Eels, pea soup and mashed potato were also sold.
Freshly prepared eels in a clean-looking environment (tiled walls and floors) meant many people gravitated to these places rather than run the risk of food poisoning with the pieman.
The rise of the Eel and pie shop heralded the end of the pieman and their counterparts in the Eel trade; the damage that was done to their trade was so dramatic that it was noted in Henry Mayhew's “London Labour and London Poor”.

Thirty years after Blanchard opened his first shop, Kelly's Directory listed 33 eel and pie shops in London. This began the growth of what Londoners came to know as the “Pie and Mash shop”.
Helped, in part, by immigrants from Italy and Ireland, many of the shops that opened are still around today.

Robert Cooke is first recorded as opening his shop on Bakers Row in Clerkenwell in 1889 with his second wife Martha and his children: Robert, Amy and Fred. The shop was situated near the market in Clerkenwell. The long term success of the firm is attributed to hard, work, sharp business accumen and the training of the family within the trade. Cooke's opened a shop in The Cut at number 84 in 1938.

Michaele Manze (Mike) was an Italian from Ravello, his Mother, father and three brothers came to England in 1878 after walking from Ravello to Naples to catch a boat. Primarily the family worked in the Ice business; Mike met and befriended Robert Cooke, who introduced him to his daughter from his first marriage: Ada. Mike and Ada married and opened up their first shop in Bermondsey.

The reason, apparently, for Pie and Mash shops having only a fork and a spoon comes from either of two origins: one being that during the First World War, there were a shortage of knives and the people going into the pie and mash shops would take the knives they had home with them; another story goes that the knives were withdrawn from being served after people used them as weapons when they fought.

The last forty plus years have seen a demise in the pie and mash shop owing to culinary cultural changes plus the migration of large numbers of the working class out of London to areas such as Kent and Essex. These movements can be traced as many of the known remaining names in pie and mash Such as Cooke and Manze (as well as newer names) have opened up shops to cater for them as this directory of the various shops on the website “Pie and Mash Club” shows.

J C & J Field Ltd. Candle and Soap Manufacturers – 15 Upper Marsh, Lambeth.

The company was one of the oldest in the area, it started business around 1642 and continued on the same site – no. 15 Upper Marsh – for nearly 300 years.

Founded by Thomas Field, it continued through a descendant, also named Thomas, who was listed in 1768 as a wax-chandler of Lambeth and by 1800 the business was known as John & Charles Field, Candle makers from Lambeth marshes.
During the 19th Century candles made of Spermaceti – the oil from the head cavity of the Sperm Whale, were produced; these were more expensive than the ordinary – and cheaper - tallow candles which were noxious and were well known sputter when burnt.

By 1820, the firm was listed as 'wax-chandlers to the Prince Regent' and had a shop in Wigmore Street, and also by this time, with the addition of another John Field, the company became known as J.C. & J Field. 

In the mid 1840's, and with the rise in interest of public health and personal cleanliness; the company began soap manufacturing, for both both household and laundry, in lower fore street in Lambeth. In time, this became their main production as the demand for candles declined from the 19th Century onwards due to the popularity of oil and gas lighting.

By 1873, the company was listing Ozkerit Candles for sale; these candles, made with Ozkerite, a naturally occouring mineral wax, had a higher melting point than regular types and, as such, were favoured in hotter climates. Ozkerit Candles became extremely popular in tropical climes, which was, at that time, most countries of the then British Empire.

During the early 20th century, the firm accquired premises in Rainham Essex, this period also saw a diversification more into soap manufacture and in particular, household soaps and luxury products; by this time the firm had ceased using the term 'wax-chandlers'.

By the early 1940's the firm had moved premises to Wimbledon in South London and then onto Amersham in Buckinghamshire, in 1954. An acuisition by E.Griffiths Hughes in the late fifties and a final amalgamation into Aspro-Nicholas in 1960 snuffed out Fields long and illustrious history.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Interview with We are Waterloo.

I recently did an interview with the organisation 'We are Waterloo' about my research:

Please let other people know who you think may be interested.

I hope you enjoy.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Interview with We Are Waterloo UK

I recently did an interview for the website We Are Waterloo UK and also did some photos; these will be published soon.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Cockney Barrows on Pathe News reel.

I must thank Sarah Lovett for this little gem; as many people may have seen, she sent a comment on the Tappy barrow in Berwick Street; she has an old Tappy barrow for sale.
The dimensions of, and information for, the barrow cart she has are:

Overall length:  9' 11"
Width : 46"
Height: 7' 6 1/4 "
It has 270ยบ steering.

She also said about the Pathe News clip from 1967 which really is very informative; the barrow maker in the clip is Terry O'Doherty  who had workshops both at Covent Garden and Hertfordshire. The clips show the hand barrows being made by his assistants and the makers name being very nimbly carved "with pen-like flourish".
It seems the barrows were made of Ash, a hardwood, known for its elasticity and resilience; I'm assuming that the Tappy barrows would have been made in the same way using the same techniques and wood type. 
From the information given in the film, it took about a fortnight to make a hand barrow; I wonder how long it took to make a wagon barrow?

 The video in the link below was slightly temperamental in starting, this may be due to my computer.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Views and poll on 'followers' widgit.

I have long wondered how many people actually follow my blog rather than just view it; with this in mind, I am considering putting a 'followers' widgit on the blog which would automatically show the numbers but which also may show the actual names of people themselves.
My last wish is to drive people away from this blog, so it is with this in mind that I have set up a poll, which will be available till the 28th April,  so that I can see what your views would be either pro, con or neutral.
You can also email me at and let me know what you think. I will then judge from the replies the best course of action.

Many thanks in advance.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Any information on Trussons Menswear Shop.

This shop is one of the last original businesses that have survived in the area and one that has been in continuous trade for 143 years; located at 31 Lower Marsh, it sells high quality fashionable male clothing such as hats, jackets, shirts, jeans and trousers etc. Unfortunately it is a shadow of its former size:

Trussons in 2012
It was established in 1866, and by 1880 as this advertisement from the British Library record shows, it had premises at 102, 103 and 104 Lower Marsh (which was on the opposite side of the road from where the present shop is situated), plus a shop at 413 Brixton Road – then, a very Middle Class and fashionable part of South London. From what I understand from the proprietor, the original premises across the road were severely damaged during WWII, shortly afterward, the present shop was opened and has been there ever since.
I am interested in anybody who has information about the history of Trussons;  maybe you have had a relative who worked in the shops either at Lower Marsh or the Brixton Road premises? I have spoken to the proprietor of the modern business and unfortunately he has very little information about the company before the second world war.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lambeth Baths 156 Westminster Bridge Road.

Due to the outbreaks of Cholera in the early to mid-nineteenth century, a committee was formed in 1844 for promoting the establishment of baths and wash-houses for the labouring classes, one member of the committee being the Bishop of London; the bishop petitioned for a bill and in 1846 'The Public Baths and Wash-Houses Act' was passed, giving powers to local authorities to fund the construction of public baths and wash-houses.
It seemed that for whatever reason, the Lambeth Vestry had declined to carry out the construction of baths for this new Act and in 1853 a private company 'The Lambeth Baths and Wash-Houses Company Limited' funded the construction of the Lambeth Baths which were designed by Arthur Ashpitel and John Whichcord Jr and the baths drew their water from the newly constructed works by the Thames Water Company at Thames Ditton, Surrey. 

The baths were located behind what is now the Waterloo Health Centre, and although it was behind the main street frontages, it stretched virtually the entire length from the Lower Marsh to Baylis Road (which was then called Oakley Street); it incorporated swimming baths and also 'slipper baths' and a wash -house.
It seems there were three entrances from the map, one in the Lower Marsh, one in Westminster Bridge Road (Which could have been the main entrance judging by the address that is given for it) and the other in Charles Street, which ran off of Oakley Street.  The entrance to the washhouse having a separate entrance for 'washing women' with an adjacent house for the care of children (it may have been that the entrance in Charles Street was the wash-house entrance, as it in a side street, off the main road). 

The baths were certainly operational by 1861 and were well used by locals apparently. Initially the two swimming baths (women were not allowed in the pools) were open in the summer months and costs were 6d for first class and 3d for second class.
The private baths were priced accordingly: for a superior hot bath (with fire) 1 shilling; a standard hot bath (with fire) 6d and a cold bath 3d.

The baths were also used in 1879 for the 'Trials of Endurance', a swimming marathon which lasted 145 hours over 6 days. The winner, Matthew Webb, had already won an accolade of being the first person to swim the Channel in 1875.

During the winter months, the baths were converted for other uses: from 1861, they were used for indoor running; in 1868, they were used to hold the South London Industrial Exhibition, which was attended by the Prince of Wales and Baron Brunnow; and also the Surrey Cricket team used the converted baths as a practice area, plus they were used many times for a public meeting hall.

The baths were still operational in 1902 but shortly after that time they closed; registers in the London Gazette for 1908 record the winding up of the company and the appointment of Thomas Mitchell, the Secretary, as Liquidator. Certainly by 1914, any trace of the baths had been removed; the old Ordinance Survey maps of that year shows the area covered by he baths to be split into sections of large premises.
Little is known as to why the baths closed, it may have been due to the construction of new baths on the corner of Lambeth Road and Kennington Road which would have been paid for by the LCC.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Wartime Poetry on Kindle.

A slight aside from the research I am doing: a couple of years ago I wrote some poetry very loosely based on the Japanese style of Haiku where you convey the most meaning with the least amount of words.
The theme I chose was WWII ; and I gave it the title "Home Front Haikus". I have today been able to get it published on Kindle; if you are interested, I have put the link below.

I am also continuing my research as and when I can.

Happy Easter to all.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

F.Taylor & Son. 89 - 91 Lambeth Walk.

This shop, which stood on the corner of Lambeth Walk and Fitzalan Street, was established in the 1840's, it sold a variety of clothing, hats and baby items. The impressive Jacobean Revival style building, seen here from an advertisement from 1918 and also in a photograph from the 60's, survived the Second World War, only to fall foul of the urban planners, when it was demolished in the 1960's to make way for new housing.

Do you know anybody who worked in F.Taylor's? Do you have any photographs, or do you know any local history about this fine shop? If you do I would be happy to hear from you.