The Strand, WC2 - Dan 'Ca$h' Stephenson memorial
This page is dedicated to Dan 'Cash' Stephenson who was a long time fan of the Derelict London website. Dan often enthusiastically contacted me via social media following the website updates.
45 year old Dan from Kent suffered severe head injuries when he was hit by a number 15 bus while riding with fellow BMX enthusiasts back in June.
RIP mate. The ghost white bike & personal tributes mark the location of Dan's accident.
Rotherhithe SE16 - Scotch Derrick Crane
A "Scotch derrick" was a crane that was frequently used in docks for lifting and moving heavy loads. In this case the heavy load was wood - shifting tree trunks from ships on the Thames into Lawrence Wharf thought to be the last remaining sawmill in London until it closed in 1986.The derrick derives its name from a type of gallows named after Thomas Derrick, an Elizabethan era English executioner.
The London Docklands Development Corporation recognised its importance as the last remaining independently mounted crane in Rotherhithe and placed a protected covenant on it but this safeguarding was subsequently removed by the Mayor of London.Greater London Archaeology Society say that this red crane was built just after World War Two replacing an earlier crane destroyed in the Blitz.
This crane is the last of its kind in London and is one of the few remaining physical and tangible links to former Surrey Docks community heritage and identity and despite opposition from local residents, the owners of the land Hollybrook Homes don't wish to retain the crane due to its poor state of repair and of course the amount of space that it occupies. They plan to take the crane down and recycle parts to make a riverside sculpture whilst building housing around this valuable Thames-side site.
Averard Hotel, Bayswater W2
The Averard London was a family run bed and breakfast hotel with 60 bedrooms in elegant surroundings with a slightly faded grandeur & situated within easy access of Hyde Park and Paddington.Shortly before closure in 2009 the hotel was ordered to pay over £21,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety legislation following a prosecution brought by the London Fire Brigade.
The Averard was originally built as two Victorian townhouses before being reconfigured as a hotel in 1925, and has most recently been a family run bed and breakfast. The building was sold, according to auctioneer Christie & Co, to a private international investor and is due to be converted to a five-star boutique hotel.The proposed development of the Grade II listed building involves restoration and refurbishment, and a significant extension to the rear of the site including partial demolition of a 1957 rear addition.
The 2005 film Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont starring Dame Joan Plowright was filmed at the Averard (both interior and exterior) as "The Claremont."
North Woolwich station opened in 1847 as the southern terminus of the line from Stratford. The current building photographed here was built in 1854.
In the 1980's the station building and a platform were closed and replaced by a minimalist white canopy entrance and passenger shelter on the south side. In 1985 the line from North Woolwich was electrified with the service running semi circular round inner north London & down to Richmond. I left my car in Richmond one night and after a night out woke up the next morning in Canning Town and remember this long slow train journey to Richmond before picking up my car and driving to work in Hampshire....
From 1984 to 2008 the original North Woolwich station buildings and one disused platform served as the North Woolwich Old Station Museum dedicated to the history of the Great Eastern Railway.
The "new" station closed in December 2006 as part of the closure of the Stratford to North Woolwich section of the Silverlink North London line. Parts of this line from North Woolwich to Custom House via Silvertown have been utilised by Crossrail.
There are current plans to convert the Grade II listed 0ld Station as a public workspace for artists, local residents and creative businesses and is to
receive funding by the London Regeneration Fund & the Mayor of London. As you can see from the latest pics the condition of the rear of the station has deteriorated in recent years.
Originally called The Signal, the Portmanor was a popular locals pub over the years and well known amongst home fans of nearby Crystal Palace FC. The Holmesdale Fanatics, a lively bunch of Palace supporters, drank in here and attracted the attentions of the police claiming that many of these fans were hooligans. This was hotly denied by Palace fans and other locals who blamed the local press for negative publicity. Croydon Council rejected an application by police in early 2014 to shut the pub down and dismissed suggestions the pub's customers were a cause for concern.
However the pub closed its doors for the last time after the landlord claimed that the pub company Punch Taverns failed to support him and install CCTV to comply with the terms of his licence. The pub is never likely to open again as plans are being put forward for conversion into flats.
A happy memory of the Portmanor from a poster on the Crystal Palace fans forum: "Barmaids with Palace tops, Footie on the box, free food pre match and good music after. What is there not to like about the Manor. Oh, and now smelly John has popped his pants..I mean clogs, it doesn't smell like an exploded cat any more. Happy days. Now if they can just sort out the bogs - it's like the shallow end of a paddling pool in there! Always wondered what happened to that guy. RIP smelly john :("
And one from Beer in the Evening reviews: "I would rather drink toilet duck in a crackhouse than frequent this dive again."
Well, that Brighton poster wouldn't have lasted long by the door of this pub in the old days ;-)
Opened on the site of a previous cinema (1928 to 1964 first as the Regal and later the Odeon). The rebuilt Odeon opened in 1967 as apparently the largest cinema constructed in the post-war years with the the largest in the country with seating for 1360.
In 1996, the cinema was converted into a 5 screen multiplex, within the existing space. The site including the adjacent 24-storey office tower block, a few shops and Wetherspoon's pub 'The Tyburn' was purchased in 2011 for £80 million. In May 2016, Odeon Marble Arch closed its doors for the final time and is now awaiting demolition. Few people will mourn the loss of these buildings. The shops sold tacky souvenirs and the Tyburn never had a great atmosphere.
The 1960’s buildings will be replaced by Marble Arch Place: a residential, office and retail scheme, scheduled for completion in 2020.The development consists of an 18-storey residential tower, with 54 flats and a 7-storey commercial building providing a total of over 95,000 sq ft of offices.Plus a new multi-screen Odeon cinema and retail space. The affordable housing element of the scheme will be delivered at a different site on the Edgware Road.
DARTFORD - WELLS FIREWORK FACTORY
I first visited this site in early 2012 so its time for some updated photographs and information as the site continues to become more dilapidated.
Wells Fireworks was founded by Joseph Wells in 1837 in, Dartford, having learned his trade as an explosive lighter man on the River Thames in London.
Wells Fireworks quickly became the leading display company in the UK and established a reputation for the manufacture and display of the finest quality fireworks. Using the Wells “Crown Brand” the company displayed at Cowes and Henley Regattas, Coronations and Jubilees to the Royal Family. Securing an international reputation for excellence this led to high value commissions including the LA Olympics, the Squaw Valley Winter Olympics, Rose Bowl displays and designing the original fireworks shows for Disneyland in Florida.
After operating for nearly a century and a half, sadly in the late 1970s it became financially impossible to compete with the now widely available Chinese imports and Wells was forced to shut its manufacturing plant in Dartford. Led by Stuart Orr, a chemist at the plant, some of the employees took the Wells brand and moved the entire operation to West Sussex. Specialising in close proximity stage pyrotechnics for the entertainment industry, Wells continued its reputation for excellence and supplied to most of the UK’s leading fireworks companies.
Wells is still established exporter of fireworks around the globe. The Wells brand is internationally recognised for excellence and used on major live shows and concerts worldwide by renowned artist like Westlife, Pussy Cat Dolls, 50 Cent, Girls Aloud, and Mc Fly and used on large shows including X Factor Live and TV shows such as X Factor, Ant and Dec and Strictly Come Dancing.
The actual remains of a number of original buildings from the former factory still remain. Due to planned development in the area, these buildings face an uncertain future. The corrugated iron sheds, which for obvious reasons were spaced apart from one another, survive in an overgrown landscape of elder bushes, brambles, nettles and buddleia.
Wells at Dartford is the only remaining firework factory in the UK of a type which once was common. It has stood derelict for nearly 40 years. A charity was once planning on rescuing some of the buildings and erecting them as a Fireworks Museum at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre in Sussex but do sure how far they have got with those plans.
Greenwich University own the site but there are no official plans for the future of the Wells firework factory. The marshy land makes it unsuitable for a large scale building project plus the likely problem of contamination due to the gunpowder mau also cause complications. Meanwhile the site continues to decay due to vandalism, the weather and generally nature just taking over. The site is fenced off and there are warning signs that it is a contaminated site. Inside there are the hazards of rotten floors in the huts and between the sheds there were small concrete conduits to prevent a spread of fire. These conduits are overgrown and you don't realise that they are there until you trip over them....
Walking the Route of the Long Lost Croydon Canal
Since writing the book London's Lost Rivers I have been on foot returning to the routes of these rivers and canals. The route of the Croydon Canal is particularly interesting and I shall be organising some guided walking tours of a large chunk of the route of the Croydon Canal in late Spring 2017 - the 'Croydon Canal Alldayer'
The Croydon Canal opened at the same time as the Grand Surrey Canal in 1809 - a 21 gun salute met the first barge as it entered the canal basin at West Croydon, cheering crowds had gathered and a band played the National Anthem. The canal enabled lime, timber, chalk and agricultural produce to be sent to London in exchange for coal being handled to Croydon, then an ancient market town. Although the canal was only just over 9 miles long it had 28 locks between New Cross and Honor Oak (a stretch of just over 2 miles), which beset the canal with problems, as these locks were costly to maintain, and caused queues & congestion for the barges waiting to negotiate them. The proprietors raised money to build the canal by selling shares at £100 each but by 1830 £1 could buy 10 shares!
The canal was a financial failure and closed in 1836 and the railway line from London Bridge to Croydon was built, generally following the route of the canal but the railway line used cuttings and embankments to avoid the twists and turns of the canal. The railway opened in June 1839, and is the second oldest passenger line in London. West Croydon Station stands on the site of the Croydon Canal Basin. Lengths of canal unsuitable for the railway survived a little longer and carried on trading & used for pleasure boating though these were soon lost due to the rapid residential development as London expanded into the the suburbs.
More details of this guided walk will be announced in early 2017. Join the mailing list at the bottom of this page to be kept informed of all these walks.