Historic Peckham

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See also
historic Peckham High Street south side
service road & backs of Peckham High Street south side

Townscape Heritage initiative (THI)

The Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative (Peckham THI) is funded jointly by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Southwark Council. It’s a five year project currently due to end in October 2019. The purpose of the project is to contribute to the regeneration of Peckham town by part-funding the restoration and repairs of some of Peckham town centre’s oldest and finest buildings. In 2012 Peckham Vision invited Heritage Lottery to visit Peckham town centre and we showed them why we thought it was a candidate for the THI scheme. They encouraged us to submit a proposal to Southwark Council which we did. As a result in 2012 the proposal passed the first stage of approval and in 2014 secured the funding: the Heritage Lottery Fund granted £1.675m and Southwark committed additional funding to make a common fund of £2.3m. On the Peckham THI website for building owners there is information about how to apply for funding. There are also updates on individual THI buildings as they are restored; news and invitations about the THI community projects; introductions to the Rye Lane Conservation Area and planning requirements; and sign-posts to sources of information about Peckham’s rich heritage and how to maintain traditional buildings. More info on the THI now in operation: http://peckhamheritage.org.uk/

Conservation Area for Peckham town centre

Main article: Conservation Area
The proposed Conservation Area for Peckham.
Actual designated Rye Lane Conservation Area.

Peckham has a long history. In 1700 it was a rural village of just 600 people, centred on the junctions of the High Street, Hill Street, and Rye Lane.

Modern 17th century high street.jpg

Today many of the early buildings of Peckham survive. On the High Street there are some 17th and early 18th century reminders of the old village alongside later Georgian development. No 58 was Grade 2 listed in October 2009.

On the High Street and Rye Lane, there are still Victorian and Edwardian banks, pubs and public buildings, and adapted Georgian houses with substantial Victorian, Edwardian and 20th century retail development. The west side of Peckham Hill Street is an almost unspoilt late Georgian development.

After many years of campaigning by the Peckham Society, supported by Peckham Vision, Southwark Council on 18th October 2011 finally designated the Rye Lane Conservation Area covering the main shopping streets in the town centre. This will now enable the historic buildings of interest to be protected from demolition. The other benefits of a conservation area include the ability for the Council and local people to improve the quality of new developments. The Peckham Society, along with Peckham Vision, welcomes new development and supports challenging contemporary design like the Peckham Library. The conservation area will raise the profile and quality of both historic and contemporary architecture not simply the preservation of historic townscape. The conservation area will allow the council to insist on better quality buildings in our town centre.

Further, the designation of a conservation area will also open the door to historic area grant schemes which can be targeted towards improving shop fronts and the repair and reuse of empty and unused buildings. This has already shown results by the successful first round bid for a Townscape Heritage Inititative (THI) grant of £1.7mfrom the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore selected buildings in Rye Lane and Peckham High Street.

HSBC bank.jpg

The Council's Conservation Area appraisal report sets out all the details. The public consultation on this was carried out in June to August 2011 and the decision was made in October 2011.

Click here for Metro News report October 2011

Click here for the Peckham Society displays about the Conservation Area proposals.

Click here for the 2009 English Heritage report on historic Peckham town centre.

Click here for SLP 22 June 2010 report on Preserving Peckham - fight to protect Town's historic buildings, page 1, and page 2 here

Victorian mural in former pub at 116 Peckham High Street

Victorian Mural at 116 Peckham High Street

This is a late Victorian rare, hand painted panel, tiled by WB Simpson & Sons, for this pub at Pub at 116, Peckham High Street. It was produced c. 1875, and shows the trial of Queen Katharine (from Shakespeare's 'Henry VIII'). Simpsons, who are still in the same business http://wbsimpsonsons.co.uk , decorated pubs, churches, swimming pools, bath houses and other public buildings in and near London. Remaining examples need to be protected. The Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society say they would be glad to support any application for listing or undertake the process. See earlier news about the damage from a nail bar shelf attached to this mural. See pictures of the damage once the shelf was removed. We found a local professional restorer who offered to do the repairs and put her in touch with the owners. It looks as if the restoration did not take place. We are checking why and what can be done next. (January 2017).

Peckham history in pictures

The following sites have a variety of pictures of Peckham's long history.

Peckham history in film

  • Alexandra Rose Day in Peckham in 1913, short film of a charity fundraising event featuring a large group of women in white walking and dancing in Rye Lane while selling artificial roses to raise funds for local hospitals.
  • The Tower This short film of the Tower cinema car park in Choumert Grove, by student film maker and local resident Joanna Darnley, is "an exploration into the extraordinary changing space of a place that most people would walk by without a thought, but for some people is a memory of a time when Peckham was a totally different place. Not only a discussion of a forgotten era…"
    • Further info 2012: there has been a continuous local campaign for the last 10 years not to have the car park developed, as locals there prefer the open space even if it is a car park. This has finally been successful with the council agreeing in 2012 not to include it in development sites. Over the last few years there have been new attractive gates, railings and ground surface, and recently the Council agreed a resident’s project for some wildflowers to be sown in the soil bank by the recycling bins.
    • UPDATE 2017: the plan to develop the site for housing has resurfaced in 2017 in the New Southwark Plan (NSP) consultations as a plan to build 50 or more houses while retaining the car park! See more info here.
  • Old Billiard Hall stairs on front of Peckham Rye station c1979 Above the ticket hall in Peckham Rye station, there is a huge magnificent empty space. This began to come to light again during recent years through campaigns by the Peckham Society, Rye Lane & Station Action Group and Peckham Vision. It was referred to as the Old Billiard Hall as it had been used for that for many decades by the railway staff and public. In those years access was by a staircase added on the front of the building entering the room through a door in what was and is now again a window space. This can be seen in this video clip of a 1979 episode of the Sweeney TV programme chase at Peckham Rye station. That additional staircase was reached from the forecourt by the original staircase in the SW tower. The Billiard Hall was closed and the windows bricked up over 40 years ago and it remained a secret silent place inhabited mainly by pigeons. It was originally the Waiting Room for platforms 2 and 3, so it is also referred to as the Old Waiting Room. Over the last few years, it has been revived and opened to view again by local residents.
  • How Percy Won the Beauty Competition (1909) 7 minutes) This early British short film was filmed 105 years ago at the Gaumont Studios immediately up Dog Kennel Hill just beyond current Sainsbury's. All the shots have been identified as being nearby. Dulwich Hamlet FC is down the slope. The last scenes were at Greendales playing fields and the sports pavilion. Some of this Gaumont film team eventually went to the emerging Hollywood. Fred Karno's Circus, Charlie Chaplin etc.
  • Remember The Old Folk - film from 1954 featuring the pensioners of Peckham. Great footage of Rye Lane & Peckham High St. (2.5 minutes)
  • Peckham Park school film from 1970 about life at school in Peckham in late Victorian times (19 minutes)
  • Human Fish 1949 Video of a contest between human fish Harold Elven and an expert angler. Harold was a member of the Peckham Experiment and a champion swimmer. The contest was held in the swimming pool in Pioneer Centre of the famous Peckham Experiment. (2 minutes)
  • history of cinema in Peckham. 15 minutes of reminiscences and also old clips from 2013.
  • Peckham Streets - 10 mins aerial drone footage from above central Peckham as prelude to the evening 30 April 2017 Peckham Streets showing vintage film clips of Peckham over the last 100 years.

Peckham history in text

History of Peckham

The Peckham Experiment

See more extensive information on the Peckham Experiment Peckham Vision pages
The Peckham Experiment was a study into the nature of health in the 1920s-1940s. The researchers decided to study the family unit in a community setting to study what contributes to human health. The centre/laboratory, known as the Pioneer Health Centre, was purpose built for the Experiment in St Mary's Road, in Peckham. The blue shaded area of the map shows the boundary of the Peckham Experiment. The research was conducted by annual medical checks and observations of families interacting in social activities. Recognising the importance of sound nutrition, they rented a farm to provide fresh organic food. The experiment pioneered thinking, decades ahead of its time, about the way in which health could be nurtured rather than just sickness remedied. The Peckham Research Findings have influenced authorities across the world including the WHO. The Health Centre building is still here in St Mary's Road and is listed by English Heritage in recognition of its historic importance as architecture and its pioneering in health and social understanding. Read more...

Recent ideas for the New Peckham Experiment

The original catchment area for the Centre in 1935 is shown on the map below. The major part of this small area was in what is now called New Cross Gate in the London Borough of Lewisham. But in 1938 the area was extended west further into Peckham and just beyond Peckham Rye station, and south to Nunhead and north to just beyond the Old Kent Road, so that most of the eastern half of Peckham was covered.

Area covered by the Peckham Experiment

The history of Rye Lane Chapel

" ... the Church approves, as a site for a new chapel and chapel house, the piece of land 80 feet frontage on the east side of Rye Lane adjoining the south side of the house occupied by the late Mr. Samuel Leigh and further approves the purchase of the same for £550 ... ... The lowest estimate was accepted; as follows:- Chapel £1,734; Manse £580; School Hall £340. Building commenced in the month of May 1863 ... " Read more

World War Two bombs Peckham

"Whole quarters in both Southwark and Bermondsey were destroyed in the great blitz of 1940 and to-day present a scene of great desolation. Many buildings were destroyed … Many houses have been destroyed in Rye Lane’s tributary streets and also on the east side of Peckham Rye Common and in East Dulwich Road in successive air raids. No other part of London, except Croydon, has suffered more severely from the ravages of Hitler's flying and rocket bombs. …" Read more...

Peckham Pram Factories

“… the area seems to have been a centre of pram making. .. some of the finest perambulators in the world. Two well-known firms that specialise in these products pay particular attention to taste in colour and decoration, and the finished articles speak highly for the craftsmanship and regard given, not only to strength and durability, but also to individual character and beauty of line, the sine qua non of British Industry. …The firms in question were Royale Prams at the Besfoldas Works, 70a Nunhead Grove, SE15; and Deanes Limited at Denette Works, 163 Peckham Rye…” Read More...

Whitten Timber

links to be uploaded

Exploring Southwark - Peckham & Nunhead