Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rotherhithe Street Names - part 3

Again, just for fun, here is the third part of a look at how the streets in Rotherhithe gained their names. 
Part 1
Part 2

Beastson Walk
The Beatson family were ship breakers during the first half of the 19th Century.  They purchased wooden ships from the Admiralty and elsewhere, the useful lives of which were over, to process for materials that could be re-used.  The most famous ships to be broken at the Beatsons' yard were Temeraire and Belleraphon.  The last of the Rotherhithe Beatsons, William Beatson, trained as an architect and was responsible for St Paul/Peter Chapel, now destroyed.  He moved to New Zealand, taking with him some items of furniture made from the timbers of the Temeraire.

1845 map showing the Commercial Docks
Commercial Dock Passage
Although all of the Rotherhithe docks became jointly known as the Surrey Commercial Docks, when they were first constructed, three of those docks were referred to as the Commercial Docks and were linked via Norway Dock to Greenland Dock, which opened via its lock onto the Thames.  They are clearly marked on the 1845 map of Rotherhithe.  The dock names were all changed as the grew in number and companies merged.  The three Commercial Docks were later renamed, and by 1868 they were called, from north to south, Lavender Pond, Acorn Pond and Lady Dock.

Cunard Walk
Between the wars, the ocean liner Cunard made Greenland Dock the home base for its A-Class liners, and they must have been quite a site coming down the Thames and turning into the lock.  These liners were covered in an earlier post.

Canon Beck Road, past and present,
from the website.
Beck Road
The Reverend Beck was the vicar of St Mary's Rotherhithe and its parish.  Following on from the work of Reverend Blick, for whom he had considerable admiration, he was an energetic supporter of the poor families in the area, making a considerable difference to their quality of life of  in the mid to late 1800s by working to establish new churches and schools. In these endeavours he was frequently supported with land or finance by the Lord of the Manor of Rotherhithe, Sir William Maynard Gomm and his wife Elizabeth.  He wrote a book about the history of Rotherhithe called "Memorials to Serve for a History of the Parish of St Mary, Rotherhithe" which is still essential reading for anyone interested in local history.

Canon Beck Road
Again, named for the Reverend Beck (see above)

Cherry Garden Street
The long vanished Cherry Gardens, which also gave their name to Cherry Garden Pier, were pleasure gardens where Londoners could come and relax in the 1700s.  Samuel Pepys, who often passed through Rotherhithe on his way to the docks at Deptford, made a note in his diary of collecting cherries for his wife from the gardens. 

Derrick Street
A derrick is a form of crane.  A single large Scotch derrick is preserved just off Odessa Street, where the Thames path can be rejoined, heading towards Tower Bridge, but there used to be many of them in Rotherhithe.  The Scotch derrick has been discussed on an earlier post. Derricks could also be attached to the side of buildings and to ships.

Gomm Road
Sir William Maynard Gomm was Lord of the Manor of Rotherhithe, and Mayor of Rotherhithe (1784-1875).  He and his wife were considerable benefactors to the local community, working closely with Reverend Blick and then Reverend Beck of the parish of St Mary, providing land and money for social projects, including schools and churches.

Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver Street
Named for the famous book Gulliver's Travels.  The author, Jonathan Swift, gave his fictional character Lemuel Gulliver a home in Rotherhithe.

King Stair Close
Named for the nearby waterman's stairs.  These provided access for professional watermen and lightermen to the river frontage.  There were stairs all along the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe frontage of the Thames, usually surrounded by an array of commercial buildings.  Kings Stairs still exist at the top of Cathay Street.

Needleman Street
The neeldemen were dockers who sewed up sacks of grain and other products that had been breached during cargo handling.

Pageant Crescent
Pageant's wharf is known from as early as the late 1600s.  No-one seems to know why it was so-named.  The usual explanation for odd street names is that they were named for a local pub, but there's no record of a public house of that name. Pageant's Wharf was in constant use as a shipyard, producing numerous ships for the Royal Navy, amongst others.  Part of the site was converted into the Lavendar entrance lock in the 1860s, part of it was converted into a fire station and the rest was used as a timber yard.  In the 1990s all traces of it were completely destroyed by Barratts, who built housing over the old site.

Renforth Street
Named for the town of Renforth in New Brunswick, Canada, on the Kennebecasis River, one of the major sources of wood imported into the Rotherhithe docks.  The town of Renforth was itself named after a British rowing champion who died of heart failure in a competition on the Kennebecasis River.

Russell Place
Russell was the surname of the Duke of Bedford.  In 1695 a parcel of land on Rotherhithe was given as a wedding gift by the Howland family of Streatham to their daughter Elizabeth  and her husband the Marquis of Tavistock and the future second Duke of Bedford. Together the families built the Howland Great Dock, a site that was finished in the early 1700s following the granting of an Act in its favour in 1696.

Waterman's Walk
Timber Pond Road
The Rotherhithe timber ponds were established to float timber imported from Canada and the Baltic.  At one stage, timber accounted for 80% of all imports of cargo into Rotherhithe.

Waterman's Walk
Watermen were responsible for ferrying people across and along the Thames in small boats, whilst lightermen carried out the highly skilled task of moving barges with no form of propulsion up and down the Thames. Watermen and lightermen had their own guild.

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