Yesterday I paid a quick visit to the Southwark Local Studies Centre located inside the John Harvard Library on Borough High Street. I didn’t really have a list of things to research, because it wasn’t a planned visit but I hadn’t been there before so I wanted to check out what sort of resources they held. Most electoral roll, census and parish register records that I’d be interested in for the area are already online and fully searchable. The three things I’d most likely find useful from the centre would be local newspaper archives, old photographs of the area and rate books giving information on taxpayers in some of the older parishes of the borough.
Without having my research or laptop computer to hand, I had very little information to go by to start looking through records so instead I had a look through the image collection to see if there were any photos that might be of interest.
The collection is in alphabetical order and is organised by street name or landmark. Firstly, I thought I would look through them in the hope of finding a couple of photographs of certain streets in Bermondsey, Walworth and Rotherhithe which could show me the houses where my ancestors once lived. A lot of the Victorian housing around the central part of Southwark borough was pulled down in the name of slum clearance or destroyed during the Second World War – so photos of these streets as they would have looked exist for many roads in the area, and if found would be a nice addition to the site, helping to illustrate the housing and conditions lived in by my ancestors.
So I went further and further back with not much luck but ended up finding a painting from 1877 of four wooden-cladded houses on West Lane in Bermondsey. The houses are numbered in the caption below the painting and the house on the right is in fact 36 West Lane, which John William Cripps and Mary Jane (née Woodward) lived at just 6 years before the picture was painted.
I took a sneaky picture of the print before I left to show all at home. I’ll go back and get a full copy of the original colour painting when I have more time to spend there with my all research handy.