Friday, 23 November 2018

Christmas Closure Local History and Archives Centre

The Local History and Archive Centre will be closed for the Christmas period on Monday 24th December 2018-5th January 2019 inclusive. The first drop in day after reopening will be Tuesday 6th January 2019.  Please note that staff will not be able to answer any telephone or email enquiries during this period beginning 12.00 noon 21st December 2018. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

In the meantime. We invite you to explore our collections online at (books and pamphlets) or (archives).

You can still follow us on Facebook @LewishamHistory, Twitter #Lewisham History and our blog for scheduled postings, including some special festive postings running most days while we are closed.

We are very grateful for your support over the past year.

Best wishes

Julie Robinson, Local Studies Librarian

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Remarkable Residents: Kwes

Throughout October to celebrate Black History Month the Lewisham Local History Archive Centre will post our chosen 15 truly remarkable residents. People who were born in the borough or lived within its borders

15/15: Kwes

Kwes: Art work for record cover
Kwes (Kwesi Sey) is a record producer, songwriter, musician, mixer and recording artist from Lewisham.

Kwes is best known for his production and collaborative work with a variety of artists including Bobby Womack, Damon Albarn, ELIZA, Kelela, Loyle Carner, Micachu, Nao and Solange. He has also reworked several artists including Hot Chip, Metronomy, Lianne La Havas, Zero 7 amongst many others.

Born in 1987 he has been actively interested in pop music, since he was four years old it began in Lewisham in 1990, raised on a diet of Top of The Pops and the Top 40 Chart Show. On his seventh birthday, Kwes received a gift that rapidly accelerated his musical prowess – a keyboard from his grandmother.

In 2011 signed with Warp Records and in the summer of that year Kwes travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Oxfam's DRC Music project. He was invited along by Damon Albarn to join a team of fellow producers and musicians that included Richard Russell, Actress and T-E-E-D.

In summer 2012 and early winter 2013, Kwes partnered with Go Opera and Peroni Brewery to create a series of opera concerts, entitled as Opera di Peroni. The project was staged live in various cities throughout the UK and had featured Kwes’ and Go Opera's take on selected arias from Verdi's La Traviata and Puccini's La Boheme and La Rondine.

Local History and Archives Centre.

Remarkable Residents: Maxi Priest

Throughout October to celebrate Black History Month the Lewisham Local History Archive Centre will post our chosen 15 truly remarkable residents. People who were born in the borough or lived within its borders

14/15: Maxi Priest

Max Alfred "Maxi" Elliott (born 10 June 1961), known by his stage name Maxi Priest, is an English reggae vocalist of Jamaican descent. He is best known for singing reggae music with an R&B influence, otherwise known as reggae fusion. He was one of the first international artists to have success in this genre, and one of the most successful reggae fusion acts of all time.

Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham, the second youngest of nine brothers and sisters. His parents had moved to England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their family. His father was a steelworker in a factory, while his mother devoted her life to Christianity; she was a missionary at a Pentecostal Church and lead singer for the church choir, and as a youngster.  Maxi grew up listening to Jamaican greats such as Dennis Brown, John Holt, Ken Boothe and Gregory Isaacs as well as singers like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, the Beatles, Phil Collins and Frank Sinatra.

He was working as a carpenter when he was invited to build speaker boxes for the prominent Saxon International sound system. It wasn't long before his contacts there discovered that he could sing as well, and soon he was participating in live dancehall shows; in 1984, he and Paul "Barry Boom" Robinson also co-produced Phillip Levi's "Mi God Mi King," the first U.K.- born reggae single to hit number one.  

His first major album was the self-titled Maxi Priest (1988) which established him as one of the top British reggae singers.

Local History and Archives Centre.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Remarkable Residents: Erica Pienaar

Throughout October to celebrate Black History Month the Lewisham Local History Archive Centre will post our chosen 15 truly remarkable residents. People who were born in the borough or lived within its borders

12/15: Dame Erica Pienaar DBE, FRSA

(born 20 March 1952) schoolteacher, educationist, Freedom of the Borough of Lewisham

Erica was born in Cape Town. On Christmas Eve 1954, her family chose to leave the country boarding a ship bound for Southampton. Her family quickly established themselves in Crystal Palace and has been loyal to her South East London ‘roots’ ever since. Erica’s family revered education; it was clearly understood that it was through a good education that one not only developed as a person but also gained control of one’s destiny.

 She began her career as a Science Teacher in 1973 and taught for 40 years in South East London. Until her retirement in September 2013, she was Executive Head Teacher of the Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools. The Federation was established in September 2008 in Lewisham and comprises three Colleges: Prendergast-Hilly Fields College, Prendergast-Ladywell Fields College and Prendergast-Vale College.

 In 2013, Erica was made an honorary Freewoman of the Borough, for her illustrious career in Lewisham. The Council agreed:

‘Her involvement in national and educational change has inspired countless educationists, teachers and students with resulting significant local and national impact. Her belief in our young people has shone through her work and has changed their futures.’

Erica was appointed a Dame on the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for her long and distinguished career in education.

Local History and Archives Centre.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Remarkable Residents: Mica Paris

Throughout October to celebrate Black History Month the Lewisham Local History Archive Centre will post our chosen 15 truly remarkable residents. People who were born in the borough or lived within its borders.

11/15: Mica Paris

(born Michelle Antoinette Wallen; 7 April 1969) 
is a British singer, actress and presenter on radio and television.

She was born in Islington and moved to Lewisham when she was about nine. She grew up singing in her grandparents' church and by her mid teens was making regular appearances with 'The Spirit of Watts' gospel choir. At the age of seventeen, she got her first break as a backing vocalist with the UK band Hollywood Beyond.
In 1988 she released her debut, platinum-selling album, 'So Good’ from which she had her first top ten hit, 'My One Temptation'. 

Mica Paris is one of the UK’s most respected female singers with a career full of Top 10 hit singles and albums worldwide. 2003 saw Paris being presented with the Gold Badge Award by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for her special contribution to the British entertainment industry. In 2004 she was in the Top 10 list of the 100 Great Black Britons, which was compiled to celebrate the achievements and contributions made by the British Black community over the centuries. 

In 2007 she wrote an empowering book 'Beautiful Within,' to critical acclaim. Mica has extended her talents, acting in many dramas and performing in numerous West End musicals.

Local History and Archives Centre.

Did you know Agatha Christie was a VAD in WWI? Accounts of women’s nursing experiences in World War One

 Vera Brittain –Testament of Youth

First published in 1928, Vera Brittain’s account of her wartime experiences and how she became a pacifist was one of a handful of books which broke the silence over the First World War. She relates how she lost her brother, fiancĂ©e and friends while working as a V.A.D. (she trained at Camberwell). A passionate account, it stands as a moving memoir and epitaph for a “lost” wartime generation. Since it first appeared, it has become an ‘A’ Level literature text book, a television series (twice) and a film. Still resonating with successive younger generations, it has stood the test of time. Available in Lewisham Libraries.

Dorothea Crewdson- Dorothea’s War: a First World War Nurse tells her story

Born Bristol 1886, raised in Nottingham. 1911 became a VAD in British Red Cross and passed her exams the next year. She began by helping out at local hospitals or serving tea and buns to wounded soldiers on hospital trains. In May 1915, she was stationed in Le Treport, northern France and spent the rest of the war working in different field hospitals. Although not a fully trained nurse, the military was under great pressure to relax the rules and allow women like Dorothea to serve in  military hospitals in France. Despite over 40 military hospitals in France by April 1915, they could not cope with the high numbers of casualties. She began at No.16 Stationary hospital, Le Treport, France. In 1918, Dorothea was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. She died in France in 1919 while still working as a nurse after contracting peritonitis. Her dairies were published by her nephew in 2013. Available in Lewisham Libraries.

Erica Nadin-Snelling -Matron at War: the story of Katy Beaufoy (1869-1918)

Sister Katy Beaufoy was born in Birmingham and served in both the Boer War and was a QUAIMNs nursing sister then Matron on His Majesty’s Hospital Ships in World War I. She kept a war time diary of her service and excerpts have been published from 1915-1917, together with some letters to her family. The dangers of nursing service at sea are revealed as are the details of daily life. Katy was officially reported missing believed drowned after the hospital ship Glenart Castle was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat on 26th February 1918. Her medals include the Dead Woman’s Penny and the medal for reorganising the Queen of Italy’s nursing service. Available in Lewisham Libraries.

Agatha Christie –Autobiography.

Before she became a bestselling crime writer, Agatha Christie joined the VAD in 1914. She served in a Devon hospital in Torquay.

She began by doing first aid courses in early 1914 followed by practical work visits to local hospitals.
‘That was intimidating because the regular nurses, who were in a hurry and had a lot to do, despised us thoroughly.’

Initially she was a ward maid, a reserve force, before she became a V.A.D. She also had pharmaceutical lessons from a local chemist to help her prepare for examinations.

Later her medical service stood her in good stead. She worked as a hospital dispenser in World War II. Doubtless this is where she gained her knowledge of poisons which feature as a murder method in so many of her crime novels. Available in Lewisham Libraries.

Julie Robinson, Local Studies Librarian

Treating Tommy: a day in the life of a British Military Hospital in World War One

During the First World War, the military hospital day in hospitals like Lewisham Military Hospital usually began at 6.00am. If able, men would make their beds and wash themselves.

The men had to wear a special hospital uniform. This was a blue jacket and trousers, a white shirt and a red tie. You can see the men wearing hospital uniform in the photograph below.

Patients wearing hospital uniform at Lewisham Military Hospital. ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

 Breakfast was at 7.30am. Porridge, tea and eggs. Eggs were often donated by local residents who kept hens. Presumably they were keen to support the war effort.

After breakfast, those patients who were able helped to clean up the ward and do the washing up. Hygiene was essential to prevent disease and infection. Dressings were also changed in the mornings.
11am. Doctor’s inspection. After this patients were free to exercise in the hospital grounds until 1.00pm when lunch was served.

Lunch was usually meat, vegetables and a pudding.

In the afternoon, patients would have free time. They might visit the local town or attend parties hosted by local charities. Concerts and gramophone recitals would also have taken place. At Lewisham Military Hospital some patients were even treated to a motor car outing!

Article from the Kentish Mercury. ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

About 7.00pm patients were served supper. A typical supper would have been cocoa, bread and butter.

Most patients recovered and many would have been sent back to the front lines to continue fighting.
Others did not survive. On 25 May 1915, the Kentish Mercury reported the first funeral of a soldier at Lewisham Military Hospital.

First funeral of a soldier from Lewisham Military Hospital.ⒸLewisham Local History and Archives Centre.

Julie Robinson, Local Studies Librarian, Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre.