The Greyhound, 109 Peckham High Street


This public house is identified as part of a heritage cluster on the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative map of town centre priority projects. Happily it is one property that, without prompting, has been freshened up by its owner so it’s an exemplar of what is possible in a generally run down, tired high street. The present building dates only from the 1880s, and apart from television screens is a specimen of an authentic Victorian hostelry, with old racing scenes on its walls, sculptures of greyhounds everywhere, and, as far as I could judge, a clientele intensely interested in the running of their current equivalents.

More interesting, however, is its predecessor, for it dates back to at least the 17th century, and was situated at what was then the very hub of the village. I was already aware of a playbill from 1807 which located Peckham Theatre as “Opposite the Greyhound, Peckham” (shown above),  but was delighted to find among Bill Marshall’s papers at Southwark’s Local History Library a reference to rubbings of Greyhound trade tokens dating from 1660. Further enquiry brought out a copy of these rubbings (shown below), inscribed on the obverse “WILL ERBERYAT THE”, with a greyhound running, and on the reverse “GRAYHOUND IN PECKHAM”, with the initials W.M.E.



Now this is interesting in itself, but more so in that greyhound racing is said to have originated only in the 19th century. Coursing preceded this, first described by Arrian in c.180AD, and codified in Britain during the reign of Elizabeth I. It appears, however, to have been essentially an aristocratic activity, until the first club meeting, at Swaffham, Norfolk, in 1776. Here from Peckham, perhaps, is something intriguing for canine historians.

Derek Kinrade – Feb 2018

117 – 125 Rye Lane


Photo of 117-125 when C&A occupied the ground floor (from Southwark Local History Library and Archive).

There is a certain mystery about the building at this address. In the Dec 2014 issue of The Peckham Weekly, (p.8) Benny O’Looney proclaimed it as part of the art deco development of 1935 surrounding Peckham Rye Station, designed by Southern Railway Architects under the direction of James Robb Scott (1882-1965).  And I find no reason to doubt this attribution, there being obvious features in common across the group of buildings.  I agree too that it is “the most prominent member” of the group, a fine building worthy of a great architect. This is supported by the shape of the building, in place opposite the station, complete with chamfered corners on the front, west elevation, shown on the OS map of 1937.

But if you then go to the unimpeachable Historic Area Assessment of Central Peckham prepared by Joanna Smith and Johanna Roethe of English Heritage you will find it described as part of a piecemeal rebuilding of individual premises on Rye Lane around 1949, “occupied from the outset by a second branch of C&A (Modes)” (p.43, my italics).  This is, I think, somewhat qualified on page 108, the report having previously conceded that its art deco treatment “seems rather old fashioned for its date”.  This suggests that the building was otherwise occupied between 1935 and 1949.

Turning therefore to the Post Office street directories, I found that prior to 1935 numbers 117-125 were part of Holdron’s department store, whereas in 1936, presumably in the new building, business was transacted by Henry’s Stores, drapers, and in 1937 to 1939 by Kingsword & Marle Ltd, furniture manufacturers. The mysterious thing is that through the war years and beyond to 1950, despite the annual directories continuing to be published, there is no listing for numbers 117-125. Perhaps there was a security reason for not advertising what went on in that part of Rye Lane?  It is beyond most memories, but it would be interesting if anyone can throw light on this period.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter? Most elderly people remember the building as a typical C&A store, and this is the photographic evidence: a huge property with an impressive frontage, well-maintained. There is no argument about its destiny: its closure in January 1987, an early casualty which would see the entire withdrawal of the company from the United Kingdom by 2001 (though still flourishing elsewhere). In 1998, the South London Temple, a Pentecostal church, moved into the upper floors, and independent retail outlets now trade from the ground floor. The huge building remains structurally intact, but inferior graffiti despoils the side and back walls, and the paint is peeling from the beautiful frontage, its fine architectural features obscured by over-painting, gaudy panels and crude shop fronts. “Tacky” is how one website has described it.

However it is remediable and this building is eligible to receive funding towards its restoration through the Peckham Townscape Heritage Initiative. Whether Network Rail, its current owners, will seize this opportunity, remains to be seen.

Derek Kinrade – February 2018

Photo June 2017

Peckham’s history and heritage

The websites of both the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision are treasure troves of information about Peckham’s built heritage. For example, Peckham Society History pages contain research and articles on themes such as Peckham in 1878, Peckham Rye park and Peckham theatres.

Peckham Vision’s website also has also has an Historic Peckham area which has a collection of photos and film clips of the town centre. You can also access there pdfs of the information boards prepared by the Peckham Society and Peckham Vision when they were lobbying for the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area.

In addition there is a section showing the images created by Peckham Vision to highlight the Art Deco quarter which includes a number of landmark buildings within central Rye Lane in Peckham town centre.

Both organisations have given their permission for their websites to be referenced in these pages.

Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area

For several decades the Peckham Society played an important role in highlighting the heritage value of individual buildings within Peckham. Eventually their work led to English Heritage (now the part called ‘Historic England’) undertaking an extensive Historical Area Assessment of Central Peckham, 2009 [pdf 7Mb].

In more recent years Peckham Vision has built on this work to raise awareness of how these historic buildings have played, and continue to play, a pivotal role in shaping the town centre. Peckham Vision worked closely with Southwark Council’s Design and Conservation Team to prepare the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Townscape Heritage Initiative grant.

A further stage in the funding application was the adoption in November 2011 of the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area Appraisal [pdf 2Mb]. In April 2014 the Conservation Area Management Plan was approved. Here is the map showing the area in the town centre covered by the conservation area. There are adjacent conservation areas, to the east – and to the west.

The designation of a conservation area means the local planning authority recognises that the area is one of ‘special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance’.

The UK’s planning system requires planning permission to be sought for a range of works to homes and business premises. Where the property is in a conservation area there are additional situations where formal permission has to be granted.

All planning applications have to be made through national Planning Portal

– Applications are considered and decided by local planning authorities. For properties in Peckham this means Southwark Council. The Planning Portal has interactive images of homes and shops to help people identify what work needs planning permission as well as a list of common projects

– Southwark Council provide information about planning permission for business including shop-fronts and security shutters.

– Southwark Council provide information about permissions required by domestic properties in conservation areas.

Shop front design

The design of shopfronts within a town centre can make a significant impact on how a retail area is experienced by people who live and shop there. Shop-fronts include a number of elements:

– shop sign or ‘advert’ (as it’s known in planning terms);
– lighting above the sign;
– the arrangement of doors and windows;
– the materials used – timber, or powder coated resin; and
– security shutters.

For shop-fronts in older buildings there is widely accepted good-practice about what features of the building should be retained, repaired and restored. But’s it’s not about ‘one-size-fits-all’, it’s about understanding the age and architectural style of each building and using appropriate proportions and materials.

Southwark Council Planning Policy team will be drafting planning guidance about what is regarded as best practice in shop-front design for both contemporary and traditional properties in the spring 2017. It will be widely consulted on amongst both businesses and residents and if approved by councillors will be referred to as a material consideration in determining planning applications.

Maintaining heritage properties

The majority of the buildings with the Rye Lane Peckham Conservation Area pre-date 1919. It’s important for owners and lessees to understand how to maintain their properties to avoid long-term disrepair.

SPAB, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, provide a technical advice line for one-to-one advice, and have produced a range of question and answer sheets on technical matters:

– Inappropriate cement renders;
– metal windows;
– repointing;
– lime wash; and
– rain penetration.

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation have online guidance called Caring for your home – a stitch in time, a step-by–step guide to looking building maintenance.