The Past and Present of Croydon's London Road

145–151 London Road: Praise House (part 2)

23 December 2016

As noted in my previous article, I’m covering the site of 145–151 London Road in a mini-series of four articles. The first of these covered the initial development of the site and the full history of the southernmost property built there; here I discuss the second property going northwards, and in future articles I’ll cover the third property and the fourth property plus the present-day occupants of the entire site.

Numbers 145, 147, and 149 London Road on the 1868 Town Plans. Number 151 has not yet been built. Montague Road is near the bottom of the image, and a small sliver of London Road is on the far right. I have rotated this somewhat; in reality, Montague Road runs roughly southwest to northeast. (In addition, at the time this map was made these houses were numbered 46, 47, and 48.) Base map image courtesy of the Museum of Croydon.

1840s–1860s: Samuel Jackson, Louisa Pearce, and Elizabeth Johnson

The house was built between 1844 and 1849, as the middle — and smallest — of a block of three. By 1849 it was occupied by Samuel, Jane, and Olivia Jackson, who remained until around 1853.[1]

The Jacksons were replaced first by Louisa Pearce and then by Elizabeth Johnson. Little information survives about either woman, but the 1861 census records Elizabeth as a widowed “Fund Holder”; that is, someone with an independent income. Louisa was likely in the same situation.[2]

The 1860 indenture between Henry Overton and Elizabeth Johnson in which he leases her the house on London Road, held in the Marshall Liddle and Downey collection at the Museum of Croydon (index page 19, indenture dated 10 September 1860). Photo: author’s own.

Elizabeth took out a 21-year lease beginning on 29 September 1860 from the landowner, Henry Overton, at a rent of £63 per year (£6910 in 2015 prices). She had less than two years to enjoy her new home, however, as she died here on 2 June 1862, aged 63.[3]

1860s–1890s: Henry Hamilton, Mrs Lovell, and John Campbell

By late 1862, Elizabeth had been replaced by estate agent Henry Hamilton, who lived here with his wife and — eventually — at least five children. He had a business address on Coleman Street in the City of London, but also advertised his London Road address, possibly indicating that he conducted some of his business from home.[4]

Advertisement for Henry Hamilton’s estate agency on page 7 of the 22 December 1864 London City Press. Note that 47 London Road was renumbered to 89 in 1890 and again to 147 in 1928. Image © The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive; view the original here (requires subscription).

Henry and his family left London Road in the mid-1870s, and were replaced first by a Mrs Lovell and then by Scottish-born textile artist John Campbell. John arrived on London Road around 1879, and remained until around the late 1890s.[5]

1910s–1940s: John Culver and Burt Sawday, dentists

Rather unusually for the area, the house then remained without a tenant for around a decade and a half.[6] However, by 1915 it had been brought back into occupation with the arrival of the dental partnership of Culver & Sawday.

John and Mary Ann Culver with five of their children. The number and apparent ages of the children in conjunction with census data suggest a date of around 1880, and additionally that Henry Culver is the child sitting next to his mother at the left. Photo supplied by John Culver’s great-grandson, Doug Culver.

Born in Margate around 1839, John Culver was a member of the Plymouth Brethren, a Christian organisation which broke away from the Anglican church just a few years before John himself was born.[7] He first arrived in Croydon in the 1870s, and by 1878 was in partnership with a homoeopathic chemist, William Gilbert, at 31 London Road. The two men parted company in 1881, but John retained 31 London Road as both his business premises and his family home until around 1890. He then moved to North End, via a very brief stay on Tamworth Road.[8]

By 1891, John’s son Henry was studying dentistry himself, and over the next decade became a specialist in mechanical dentistry; that is, in the production of dental prostheses such as crowns and dentures. Working alongside his father, Henry would have been well-placed to complement the latter’s work as a surgeon-dentist.[9] In 1899 he married Maud Nock, a decade his junior and the Ipswich-born daughter of a carpenter, though the couple continued to live with Henry’s parents and siblings on North End rather than finding a home of their own.[10]

John Culver moved his household – including Henry and Maud – back to London Road shortly after Henry’s marriage, taking the end-of-terrace house at number 671, a little to the south of Thornton Heath pond.[11] Henry had been diagnosed with heart disease, however, and left Maud a widow after only a couple of years of marriage. He was buried on 2 May 1901 at Queen’s Road Cemetery.[12]

671 London Road, January 2016. Cropped and sharpened from a photo © bob walker, used under Creative Commons cc-by-sa.

John had lost not only a son, but also a partner — and at this point he was in his 60s, and may well have been relying on Henry to continue the practice after him. Undaunted, he took on a new partner around a year after Henry’s death: Harry Burt Sawday, who seems to have gone by his middle name of Burt. Burt was in his early 20s, the son of a Baptist minister and only very recently qualified as a dentist. The partnership of Culver & Sawday continued to operate on North End until around 1914, when it returned to London Road and took up occupation of number 147.[13]

The remaining Culvers continued to live at number 671 until John’s death on 20 September 1921, at the age of 83.[14] Burt continued to practice at 147 London Road for two and a half decades after his partner died, apparently right up to his own death at the Carshalton War Memorial Hospital on 1 December 1946.[15]

1950s–1960s: Melliard Bros, tie manufacturers, and Derek Farndell, shirt manufacturers

It’s unclear what happened to the property in the years immediately following Burt’s death. By 1955, however, 147 London Road was in use by tie manufacturers Melliard Bros, which had previously been located on Streatham High Road.[16] By 1962, Melliard Bros had been joined by shirt manufacturers Derek Farndell.[17]

It’s not clear whether these companies between them occupied the entire building. The original planning application for shirt manufacture requested only “The use of six rooms on the second and third floors [...] for the manufacture of shirts, using four sewing machines”, but it’s entirely possible that Melliard Bros used the whole of the ground and first floors for its tie manufacture.[18] In any case, both companies would have been forced to vacate the building by the end of the 1960s, for the reason described below.

Late 1960s: Demolition

As noted in my previous article, the late 1960s saw the clearance and redevelopment of the entire site between Montague and Chatfield Road. Number 147, along with its neighbours, was demolished after well over a century of life, and replaced by the building that still stands there today. More details of this, along with a description of the current occupants, will be provided in a future article.

Thanks to: Doug Culver; Wendy Laing; Ayashi of RootsChat, for help with deciphering the 1901 census; the Planning Technical Support Team at Croydon Council; the staff, volunteers, and patrons at the Museum of Croydon; and my beta-readers Alice and Kat. Census data, Civil Registration Indexes, and London phone books consulted via Ancestry.co.uk. Monetary conversions performed using the Bank of England inflation calculator (prices under £100 given to the nearest penny, prices from £100 but under £100,000 given to the nearest pound, prices from £100,000 upwards but under £1 million given to the nearest £1,000, prices from £1 million given to the nearest £100,000).

Footnotes and references

  1. See my previous article for evidence on the date of construction. As noted there, the July 1849 Lighting Rate Book lists “S Jackson” and “Moss” on this part of London Road. Samuel also appears in the April 1850 and November 1850 Poor Rate Books (as “Jackson” and “Saml Jackson” respectively), and in Gray’s 1851 and 1853 directories. The 1851 census shows that he had a wife and daughter, 57-year-old Jane and 27-year-old Olivia; Samuel himself is crossed out on the census page, for some reason.
  2. The Museum of Croydon’s Marshall Liddle & Downey index summary of a deed dated 23 August 1854 (index page 19–20) states that as of that date the house was “in occ of Mrs Louisa Pearce”. Louisa also appears in Gray and Warren’s 1855 and 1859 directories (as Mrs Stewart Pearce) and the October 1858 Poor Rate Book. Elizabeth appears in the November 1860 Poor Rate Book (as Mrs Johnson) and the 1861 census.
  3. Elizabeth’s date, place, and age of death taken from her death announcement on the front page of the 14 June 1862 Croydon Chronicle. Other information taken from a deed dated 10 September 1860 in the Museum of Croydon’s Marshall Liddle & Downey deed collection (index page 19) (reproduced here).
  4. Henry Hamilton is listed in Simpson’s 1864 directory, Warren’s 1865–66 directory, Warren’s 1869 directory, Wilkins’ 1872-3 directory, and Ward’s 1874 directory. He also appears in Poor Rate Books from November 1862 to December 1873 inclusive. His profession is given as estate agent in Warren’s 1869 directory, the 1871 census, and Ward’s 1874 directory. The 1871 census lists Henry (age 47), his wife Louisa (age 38), five children ranging in age from 9 months to 13 years, and three servants. His Coleman Street address is taken from the 1864 advert reproduced here, which also lists him at 47 London Road (renumbered to 89 in 1890 and again to 147 in 1928).
  5. Ward’s directories list Henry in 1874, Mrs Lovell in 1876 and 1878, and John Campbell from 1880 to 1899 inclusive. John’s profession and place of birth are taken from the 1881 census. The 1891 census omits all mention of textile art, listing him simply as “living on [his] own means”.
  6. Ward’s directories list the house as unoccupied from 1900 to 1914 inclusive. The 1901 census is in partial agreement with these directories in that it has the house marked as “Inhabited” but with a potential correction as “Uninhabited: In Occupation”, and lists a caretaker living on the premises — 20-year-old Mark Woolgar, along with his wife Caroline and their 6-month-old son Edwin. Another slightly confusing aspect is that Ward’s directories use the name “Argyle House” from 1902 to 1912 inclusive, which is a proper subset of the years they list it as unoccupied; that is, there is no year in which the property is both occupied and named. One does rather wonder who gave the house this name, and why.
  7. John’s date and place of birth are taken from the 1881 census. His membership of the Plymouth Brethren comes from an article on page 3 of the 23 January 1882 Edinburgh Evening News (viewed online at the British Newspaper Archive; requires subscription) describing a libel case brought by John against another member of the Brethren. See Plymouth Brethren History for more on the Plymouth Brethren.
  8. The 1871 census lists John as a 32-year-old chemist’s assistant in Torquay, living with his wife Mary Ann and 2-year-old daughter Fanny. The 1881 census shows John, Mary Ann, and Fanny at 16 London Road (later renumbered to 31) along with six younger children. The 1891 census has the family at 92 Tamworth Road, and Ward’s 1891 directory also places J Culver, dentist, here; however, from the 1892 edition onwards, Ward’s directories list John solely at 86 North End.

    Regarding his business address, Ward’s directories list W Gilbert, homoeopathic chemist, and J Culver, dentist, at 16 London Road from 1878 to 1884 inclusive; John Culver, homoeopathic chemist and dentist, at the same address in 1885; John Culver, dentist, at the same address from 1886 to 1890 inclusive; and J Culver, dentist, at 86 North End from 1892 onwards. On North End, John is listed alongside another business, so may have had his business premises as well as his family accommodation on an upper floor. See my article on 31 London Road for evidence from the London Gazette regarding William’s first name and the severance of partnership between John and William.

  9. The 1891 census lists 19-year-old Henry Culver as a dental student, and the 1901 census lists him as a “Mechanical Dentist for His father”. More information on the tasks of a mechanical dentist around the turn of the century can be found in A Practical Treatise on Mechanical Dentistry by Joseph Richardson, 7th edition, available online via the Wellcome Library.
  10. The England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837–1915, lists Eva Maud Nock and Henry Herbert Culver on the same page as each other, both in Croydon. This is not direct proof on its own that they married each other, nor that Henry Herbert was definitely our Henry Culver. However, the 1901 census gives Henry’s middle initial as “H” and his wife’s name as “Maud” with a middle initial of “E”; moreover, Maud Culver is a good match in terms of age with the Eva Maud Nock listed in the 1881 and 1891 censuses (as “Eva M” in 1891) as the daughter of a carpenter in Ipswich, Thomas Nock. It seems very likely that these were our Henry and Maud, and that Maud simply preferred to go by her middle name.

    Ward’s 1900 and 1901 directories list a resident, H Culver, at the same address as the North End practice, and as the data for these directories were generally gathered late the previous year, entries in 1900 and 1901 reflect the situation in late 1899 and late 1900. Prior to his marriage, Henry would have been considered part of his father’s household, and hence not listed separately in the directory.

  11. Ward’s directories list John Culver at 285 London Road (later renumbered to 671) from 1900 to 1922 inclusive (from 1923 onwards, a Mrs Barnard is listed instead). He may have also provided dental services here, though probably not to any great extent. The 1901 and 1911 censuses make it clear that this address was the family home, and the 1911 census (filled in by John himself rather than a census-taker) states that John was working “at surgery 86 North End”. The house was not a particularly large one (see photo in main article), and the 1901 census also lists seven adult children (including Henry) and his daughter-in-law Maud living there, which seems unlikely to have left much room for a dental surgery. However, the 1901 census has John working “At Home” (note that this doesn’t necessarily mean exclusively at home), so perhaps he did see a few patients here.

    A brief report on page 3 of the 3 February 1899 Stamford Mercury describes a fire “on Saturday morning” which “destroyed the whole of the upper portion of a four-storeyed building occupied by Mr. H. R. Grubb, printer, and Mr. J. Culver, dentist”, though luckily “The Fire Brigade saved several valuable cases of dentist’s specimens and material” (viewed online via the British Newspaper Archive; requires subscription). This seems too far away in time from the 1901 census to be particularly relevant to the question of where John practiced, however.

  12. I haven’t been able to find direct confirmation of Henry’s death, but the picture from various other pieces of evidence is quite clear. The 1901 census lists Henry as having heart disease. The England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index, 1837–1915, lists a Henry Herbert Culver who died aged 29 in April, May, or June 1901; the age is a good match to our Henry Culver, and as noted in an earlier footnote, his middle name was almost certainly Herbert. Henry Herbert Culver’s date and place of burial are taken from a list of “The Week’s Burials” on page 8 of the 4 May 1901 Croydon Guardian.
  13. Ward’s directories list J Culver, dentist, at 86 North End from 1892 to 1902 inclusive, and “Culver (J.) & Sawday, L.D.S., R.C.S., Dnts.” from 1903 to 1914 inclusive. From 1915 to 1919 inclusive the partnership is listed at 89 London Road (later renumbered to 147), and from 1920 onwards it’s H B Sawday only. As noted earlier, John was born around 1839. The 1901 census shows Burt as a 21-year-old “Medical & Dental Student” living in his father’s household in Brixton; this is also where his father’s profession is taken from. The 1915 Medical Directory gives 1901 as his date of qualification.

    Regarding Burt’s preferred name, although Ward’s directories list him as H B Sawday, London phone books have him as H Burt Sawday. Moreover, an announcement of his daughter Barbara’s engagement on page 6 of the 26 March 1938 Dundee Courier also describes him as “Mr H. Burt Sawday”, while his wife and daughter are “Mrs Sawday” and “Barbara Rowland Sawday”, thus ruling out the possibility of a double surname. (Engagement announcement viewed online at the British Newspaper Archive; requires subscription.) Finally, Wendy Laing, who married Barbara’s son David, tells me that “I've never heard Dave's family call him Harry - only Burt” (via email, 29 November 2016).

  14. Date of John’s death is taken from his entry in the National Probate Calendar, which also gives his address at the time as 285 London Road (later renumbered to 671). His age at death is taken from an announcement on page 6 of the 24 September 1921 Croydon Advertiser.
  15. Ward’s directories list H B Sawday at 89 London Road (147 after the 1927 renumbering) up to the final edition of 1939, and London phone books list H Burt Sawday, “Srgn-Dntst” [Surgeon-Dentist] up to and including the March 1947 edition. Date and place of Burt’s death are taken from his entry in the National Probate Calendar, which gives his address at the time as Ravensdon, Stafford Road, Wallington; this is also where he was living at the time of the 1911 census, and the London phone books put it at 24 Stafford Road. He appears to have practiced in Wallington as well as in Croydon; London phone books list him as a surgeon-dentist at both addresses, and the 1911 census states that he carried on business “At Home”. A comparison of the 1956 Ordnance Survey map with present-day satellite images (via the National Library of Scotland maps site) shows that numbers 20–28 have been demolished and replaced with Crosspoint House.
  16. The only door-by-door street directories available post-1939 are Kent’s 1955 and 1956 directories, both of which list a Howard L Dives at the address; however, in my experience these particular directories aren’t entirely reliable and I’ve been unable to either corroborate this from phone books or find out anything else about Howard Dives. Melliard Bros is listed at 121 High Road SW16 in phone books up to the London 1953 edition; absent from the 1954 Outer London: Surrey edition; listed at 147 London Road from the 1955 Outer London: Surrey edition to the 1968 Outer London: North East Surrey edition inclusive; and absent thereafter.
  17. Phone books list Derek Farndell, “Shirt Mfrs”, at 147 London Road from the 1962 Croydon edition to the 1966 Outer London: North-East Surrey edition inclusive.
  18. Shirt manufacture planning application viewed on microfiche at Croydon Council offices (ref 61/155). This permission was granted on 20 March 1961 to Mrs Dorothy Smith of 179 London Road. According to a later application (ref 66/2134/20/1331), it was granted on condition of its being only for the benefit of Dorothy herself, but “The P+D Committee in 1962 however raised no objection to the premises & use being taken over by Messrs Dare & Dolphin Ltd”. I haven’t been able to find Dare & Dolphin in local phone books, nor have I found any evidence of a connection between this company and Derek Farndell. Moreover, the latter application (ref 66/2134/20/1331) is from another shirtmaker, Thomas Richard Gilfoy, who intends “to take over existing firm of shirt makers Derek Farndell” (though in context it isn’t clear whether this means to take over the premises or to take over the actual firm). I haven’t been able to find any Gilfoy in the phone books, Thomas Richard or otherwise.
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« 145–151 London Road: Praise House (part 1)
The stretch of London Road now numbered as 145–151 lies on the west side, between Montague Road and Chatfield Road. I’ll be covering this in a mini-series of four articles, focusing on the four houses that used to occupy the site. In this first article, I also discuss the initial development of the land.
145–151 London Road: Praise House (part 3) »
The now-demolished 149 London Road was built by Croydon brewer Henry Overton in the 1840s. Following a succession of different tenants including another Croydon brewer, Bristow Collyer of Nalder & Collyer, it became home to Henry’s daughter — and inheritor of the house — Rosa Paget. Her son Clarence later became one of Croydon’s most respected local historians.