On The Street Where You Live - Ian McInnes looks at the High Street, Dulwich Village around 1900
The Crown and Greyhound, designed by the firm of Eedle & Myers, one of the leading pub architects of the day, was built in 1895-96 and was (and still is) a fine example of late nineteenth century pub design. A particular feature is the large garden at the rear which is very popular in summer.
Early in 1900 the London General Omnibus Company proposed to run a horse drawn bus service from Dulwich to Farringdon Street (via Brixton) and Liverpool Street (via Tower Bridge) and the Crown and Greyhound was to be the terminus at the Dulwich end. Their idea was to convert the land at the rear of the pub to stables; they proposed to build stall accommodation for 214 horses, with 10 loose boxes, a harness room, surgery, office, farrier's shop, and living rooms for a yardman and a large yard covered in by a glass and iron roof. It seems that the whole of the garden would have been built over and the Dulwich Estate was, understandably, not very keen. The Surveyor noted;
'I am informed by the architects that it is proposed to excavate the present garden to the depth of about 4 feet, so that the top of the stable and other buildings would be very little higher than the present oak boundary fences. The estimated outlay is £8000. The site of the proposed stabling abuts, on the south side partly on business premises and partly on the garden of Cedar House, on the north side on the private house known as the Cottage and north east on building land having a frontage to Court Lane. There is no doubt that if such a building was agreed to, the residential character of the building land in the immediate vicinity will be destroyed and only fitted for low-class property.'
The Governors inspected the property late in June and wrote formerly on 28th June declining the offer.
Cedar House, referred to above, sat where North House and South House now stand. It was a much modified late eighteenth century building which was actually attached to a row of Georgian houses collectively known as Woodlawn (today No. 105 Dulwich Village retains the name Woodlawn). Early in 1900 the Lambeth Water Company, acting under statutory powers, had instructed the tenant of the first of these houses - now No. 97, the Rev. J H Smith, to install new waste preventing water fittings to the water closets. While the work was being carried out it was found that all the soil pipes and related underground drainage were defective and the Governors accepted liability and paid for a complete new drainage installation - W J Mitchell & Son, one of several local builders who tendered for the work, won the job with a quote for £44.10s.
Poor drainage seems to have been a common problem in Dulwich before the First World War. In 1911 the drainage of Rose, Woodbine and Briar Cottages, the first three houses south of Turney Road, were found to be defective. The Manager tried to persuade Camberwell Council that it was their problem to resolve but they produced a drawing from 1863 confirming that it was the Estate's responsibility. One of the residents, a Mr Lassam, who had lived in Rose Cottage for 37 years, thought the Estate might be persuaded to fund other works and, in April 1913, he approached them for a contribution towards the repair of his roof and some external redecoration. The Manager noted:
'The premises are old, but as Mr Lassam holds them upon very reasonable terms, I advise that the application be not granted'
Cedar House did not attract the wealthiest tenants and by 1908 a Mr R D Hansom was writing to the governors saying:
'I regret to inform you that my income has fallen to such a pitiful amount that I find myself compelled to leave Cedar House and to beg the Governors to release me from my lease.' It was not the only house in the area in poor condition. In April 1911 the executors of the late Canon Carver, attempted to return the leases he held of Camden House and Plas Gwyn (destroyed in World War II) to the Estate. The Manager reported 'One of them is empty and the other is let to a very aged tenant at £50 a year. Both houses are very old, and some years ago they were faced with cement to give them a modern appearance, with the object of attracting tenants. The executors are anxious to rid themselves of their responsibilities under the lease'.
The Hollies was another old house on the opposite side of the road (now No. 62) which had trouble finding a new tenant. The existing tenant, a Mr Massey had been trying to assign the lease for several years and finally found a potential buyer early in 1911. The new buyer, a Mr R Maiden offered to renew the lease from Christmas 1911 but with the option of determining it after 7 or 14 years. (Mr Maiden was described as 'the proprietor of the Kasanli Hotel, and lessee of the Grand Hotel, Kasanli, Punjab India') The Estate normally insisted that the option for determination should be mutual but such were the difficulties of letting older properties the Manager said:
'I could not advise the Governors to insist upon this proviso and run the risk of losing a tenant for this house, which will certainly be vacated by Mr Massey at the end of his lease, he having purchased a property in the country.'
It is interesting to note the condition of this house when the lease was taken over by Cecil Elsom ARIBA, a well-known London architect, in May 1957. The schedule of works required included the installation of new sanitary equipment as well as new electrical wiring, central heating, internal alterations to enlarge the basement kitchen, the creation of a new toilet in the old coal cellar and complete redecoration. Cecil Elsom later built a new living room extension on the side of the house and a swimming pool in the garden.
Houses were not the Estate's only problem, in November 1910 a Mr R Edwards, a laundryman and the tenant of the shop at No. 5 High Street (now No 74) abandoned the premises leaving behind some items of furniture and laundry machinery. The Manager noted:
'On enquiry, I found a Mr Cudlip and his men on the premises removing the machinery which had been hired out to Mr Edwards. On the premises I found an unsigned and undated note to the effect that the furniture was left behind to cover rent etc., but it was of insufficient value to cover the Governor's claim.' Mr Cudlip offered to pay the Governors claim for rent as long as he could remove the hired machinery and a deal was agreed.
The Estate managed to keep Cedar house tenanted until the early 1930s when they sold the site to the builders, Messrs Rider and Dove, who agreed to demolish it and build the two houses that now stand on the site. Messrs Rider and Dove were very much the up-market builder/developers in the area and only built large houses; North and South House were sold for £4500 each - a substantial sum relative to contemporary houses in Eastlands Crescent which went for less than half that price. Their other major developments were the six houses next to the Southwark Sports ground on Dulwich Common and Fernwood on Sydenham Hill. For their first two projects they used Charles Barry, the Estate's Surveyor, as architect but in their last project they used E Turner Powell, a well known Arts & Crafts architect, although the houses themselves are neo-Georgian in style.