Friday, May 17, 2013

Rotherhtihe Street Names - part 2

Again, just for fun, here is the second part of a look at how the streets in Rotherhithe gained their names. 
Part 1 can be found here:
Part 3 is here:

From Linney 1929
Acorn Walk
Named for the Acorn Pond, which was itself name for a pub that no longer stands.  The Acorn Pond was located where the modern housing development was built at Downtown, incorporating the Surrey Docks Medical Centre.  Its purpose was to float the timber imported from Canada and the Balkans.

Brunswick Quay
When Greenland Dock was extended at the end of the Nineteenth Century it absorbed a yard called the Lower Brunswick Yard. The houses and road that make up Brunswick Quay were built over the edges of the yard, which is marked on the 1896 map of Rotherhithe.  New Brunswick in Canada was one of the many sources of the timber that was processed and stored in the Rotherhithe docks, ponds and yards.

Deal Porters Way
The deal porters were the highly skilled handlers of deal - planks of softwood. Many eventually wore leather hoods with tails which were wrapped over the shoulder for protection. Stacking the planks in piles up to 60ft high was highly skilled. The deal porters worked the Surrey Commercial Docks throughout the early and mid 1900s, a job which was passed down from father to son.

Lady Dock, centre right, in 1921
Lady Dock Path
If you ever catch the 381 bus you'll be accustomed to hearing the stop being spoken by the recorded voice "Lady Dock Path, the Ship York." Lady Dock Path was named for Lady Dock, which is shown on the 1894 map of Rotherhithe, and was connected to the Thames first through Norway Dock, which opened into Greenland Dock, which had lock access to the Thames.  In spite of its name, the current path runs through the site of the old Norway Yard,which ran along the east side of Norway Dock, 

Moodkee St
Although I cannot find out what, if any, the local connection may have been, Moodkee refers to a famous battle that took place in the Punjab area of northweast India.  The first battle in the First Sikh War, the Battle of Moodkee took place on 18th December 1845.  Indian and British troops formed a joint force against the Presidency of Bengal's Punjab army, the Sikhs of the Khalsa.  The battle was named for the Punjab town of Moodkee (which can also be spelled Mudki). For more about the battle see

Elephant Lane
I have been unable to find out why this street was so-named.  The obvious supposition was that there had been a public house of the name, but I can't find any record of one, so I wonder if it wasn't something to do with the above-mentioned Battle of Moodkee.  As part of the preparation for the battle, stores were moved to the Punjab using three hundred camels and sixty elephants. It seems a bit of an unreasonable stretch, even though the two roads are close to each other, so if anyone has a better answer, do let me know!

Odessa Street
In the early Nineteenth Century Odessa was an important Russian port on the Black Sea, exporting grain and flour.  Some of that grain was brought into Rotherhithe docks, including South Dock, and wharves, including Odessa Wharf.  The Odessa Wharf building, near the Ship and Whale public house, is one of the oldest surviving in Rotherhithe, dating to 1810, and was used for the storage of grain imports.  The original brick-built warehouse has now been converted to apartments, and runs along the side of Randall Rents, a right of way that predates it. 

Onega Gate
Named for Onega Yard, which is marked on the Ordnance Survey 1894-96 map. It was located just north of Norway Dock and immediately fronted Commercial Dock Road, part of which is now Redriff Road. It began at the inlet from Norway Dock into Lady Dock where a swingbridge crossed the cut. It extended the full length of Norway Dock to the east of the bridge where a set of large buildings ran across the end of Norway Dock.  Onega was a Russian coastal town, where English industrialists were granted rights to fell timber and set up sawmills for export to English processing depots. The Onega Yard in Rotherhithe was one such timber import yard.

Randall's Rents
Randall's Rents is a slender alley leading up towards the Thames, along the side of the 1810 Odessa Wharf building, one of the oldest remaining buildings in Rotherhithe. Randall's Rents is the only remaining survivor of a whole network of similar passages which connected the dockers' homes with their dockland workplaces. It was originally named Wet Dock Lane when it was laid out by local shipwright John Wells in 1698. The name was changed to commemorate the local shipyard owner, John Randall, who owned houses that he rented to the workers at his yard. The shipyard built many beautiful ships for the Royal Navy, including the HMS Ganges and the HMS Culloden in 1779 and the  HMS Serapis in 1799.  I would love to see what it looked like in those days. 

Ropemaker Road
Rope making was an essential part of ship building activities in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries.  The bigger the ship, the more rope was required for rigging. Warships and tea clippers were major consumers of rope.  The longer the rope required, the longer the rope-making premises (rope walk) required.  There were various rope walks in the area.  By 1843, the nearest rope walks to Rotherhithe were along the Bermondsey Wall, roughly half way between the Angel public house and St Saviour's Dock. A functional rope walk is still visible in London's Chatham dockyards, which is a quarter of a mile long.  See more about the Chatham rope walk,with photos at

St Paul's Avenue
This road, opposite Globe Wharf, is named for the Nineteenth Century church of St Paul that used to be located here.

Quebec Way
Quebec was one of a number of sources of wood, which was processed and stored in the timber ponds and yards in Rotherhithe.  The 1896 map of Rotherhithe shows a Quebec Pond together with the Quebec Upper and Lower Yards. It is also shown on the 1921 map, above.  The yards ran the length of Russia Dock (now Russia Dock Woodland) on its western side. In the Second World War, on the first day of the London Blitz, the Quebec Yards were bombed by the Luftwaffe. At that time a store for deal timber, the yards burned in an immense fire.  The modern Quebec Way crosses the former site of the pond, where the printing works are also sited.

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