History 1950 onwards

Private houses

If you live in one of the houses 3 to 87 Marcia Road (and the 4 similar houses on Penry St), you may like to know that they have a 130+ years’ history before 1999 when the developers Galliard started to build them.

marcia galliard advert

Click to enlarge

Briefly, the houses are built on the ‘footprint’ of houses that comprised a street built in the 1880s. The modern houses preserve the proportions and window details of the originals with the exception of the chimneys and the place to store the rubbish bins. The long wall running down the north side of the Marcia Road gardens once separated it from large railway goods yards, but more of that history later!

Identical but original houses can be seen in Darwin Street, near the Old Kent Road flyover.

The reason for the complete renovation was that by the 1990s, the condition of the houses and the reputation of Marcia Rd was so bad that it was bought up by the council and offered to developers. Before the work on those houses started, part had already been demolished and made available as ‘social housing’ – the low-rental cost flats in the area between Penry St and numbers 2-6 Marcia Rd.

Marcia Road under redevelopment November 2001. Numbers 3 and 5 were built over the old 5C and 5D

The original intention was to renovate the houses but they were in such a poor state that it was agreed that the best thing would be to demolish them all and build new, but preserving the old look. That is why the street is new but looks Victorian. (Actually, it is the second time houses covering the area were completely demolished – the first was to create the original Marcia Road.)

This enabled Galliard, the chosen developer, to incorporate some of the advantages of modern building such as high insulation levels and energy-efficient heating and lighting systems.

Why ‘Marcia’? Local historian Robyn Conway has kindly confirmed that it was named after the mother of Charles Rolls, founder of the Rolls-Royce cars company and a pioneering aviator until he was killed in his plane in 1909. (See Wikipedia article.) The Rolls family owned extensive lands in the area and there are covenants going back to the Rolls estate in the Marcia Road houses’ title deeds. Rolls Road still exists on the other side of Tesco.

Old and new photos of Marcia Road

I have found two photos of the old Marcia Road on the internet, links below. If you know of any others, or are an ex-resident and have any memories of it that you would like to make public, please let me know.
1) 3 Marcia Road, late 1970s(?) On the Lyons family website. (Scroll down)
2) Low numbers in Marcia Road behind the Castle pub and showing that numbers 5 and 3 (latter hidden behind the other houses) had bay windows that, unlike the other houses in the road, extended to the first floor. (Photo from PubsHistory.com)

Pre-demolition pictures

The following photos [TO BE REINSERTED] were kindly sent by ex-resident of Marcia Road, Sue G, who said “I’m glad I lived there. 95% of the street had nothing, but we were happy.”

  1. Man in the road – was taken in the 70s and shows houses in Dunton Road where Tesco car park now is.
  2. From the 80s, shows those houses demolished, with a view to the flats the other side of Tesco, etc. Note too the wooden fences added by the council to improve the look of the street.
  3. Girl on car – was in 1986, and you can now see a wall over her shoulder.
  4. No 50, one of the last houses to be vacated. Note the curtains on the top floor.
  5. Taken in 1998, just before demolition.

December 2011: I have been contacted by Dean M, an ex-resident who reminisces “I spent my early years in Marcia Road as a child in the 1970s. I lived at number 71, which I think would be just to the left of the young child on the car in the photo.

“I have some great memories of the road and the people who lived there. I well remember the rail freight depot outside my bedroom window and the sound of the trains shunting about in the early hours. There was also the bridge that crossed the tracks. It’s now long since gone and replaced by Dunton Road.

“The freight rail depot closed down in the late 70s. How things change! I have loads of memories of hot summer evenings climbing over the huge wall that backed on to our house and exploring that old rail depot. The distant, and sometimes not so distant, trains shunting around and the clanking of the tracks as the railmen manually heaved the mechanisms that directed trains to different sidings. Now there are nondescript modern warehouses and residential buildings! At the end of Marcia Rd on Dunton Rd I remember a shop which sold faggots [see Wikipedia] and pease pudding…Tesco car park now stands there. The faggot shop was called ‘The Hole in the Wall’. I remember it as a ramshackle, open-fronted yellow-coloured place run by a rather large gentleman! I also remember The Dun Cow pub and some of the entertainers that used to perform there: Peters and Lee, a very young Jim Davidson, Lenny Henry and more. Further up onto the Old Kent Road you had Bennets Sports Shop, Wells’s furniture shop, Penns Mens’ Clothes Shop and the Vernon Davey School of Motoring (I used them to take my driving lessons).”

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May 2012: Ex-resident Catherine Reeves has sent in the following memories of living in Marcia Road in the 1980s and invites anyone who remembers her, her brother Stephen or her mother or father (Oliva and Joe(Mick) O’Donoghue) to make contact with her via site owner Steve on if they wish.

“There was never any trouble you could go out and play in the street. Then they put a little playground in between two blocks, but I can’t remember when that was. I always used to be envious of the block next door – it was the one where there were about six flats in it with a shared courtyard and we could see it from our kitchen window. I always wanted to live in them as it had somewhere to go out and play, whereas we were in the top floor flat.

“One thing that always stuck in my mind was that when we moved there a man called Mr Blanchard living in flat below us and he died in his bathroom. Then we had an Irish couple move in and he used to knock her about. Opposite us was a white lady (a nurse) who was married to a black man. They were nice. I could also see the petrol garage from the other kitchen window. I must admit that the street always looked a bit dismal. But I loved it there and you didn’t have to go far to the sweet shop. In those days they never used to care about selling fags [slang for cigarettes] to you – my dad used to ask me to go get his for him.”

Google Streetview of Marcia Road

From March 2009 we have Google Streetview. You can navigate up and down the road, with a 360 degree view. Locate Marcia Road using Google maps and click on the StreetView link.

October 2009: I have been contacted by someone with family members who lived in pre-redevelopment Marcia Road. If you can help with any memories of his family, please let me know and I will pass on your details. He says:“My Nan (Edith – “Eadie” – Sturgess) was born and grew up in Marcia Road although I’m not sure which number. Her eldest sister Maude remained living in the family house until she passed away in the early 90s. My Nan has also sadly passed away as have all the other siblings but they all had fond memories of Marcia Road. I do believe that when my great aunt Ivy died a few years ago some of the residents of Marcia Road sent flowers to the service. Would be nice to hear from anyone who remembers the family.”


According to the now defunct website www.discoverbermondsey.org.uk, “Above the pub [the Thomas a Becket on Old Kent Road opposite Tesco] was a boxing gymnasium where amongst others, Henry Cooper used to train. On the top floor was a single room where David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust guise used to rehearse with his band, Spiders from Mars.”

Henry Cooper blue plaque, Thomas a Becket pub

Marcia Road on MySpace (remember that?)

A group living in Marcia Road (2007/08?) posted songs at Marcia Road on MySpace.

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