Posts Tagged ‘Guinness’

St Peter & St Paul, Candles, A Pub & Distillery

Monday, February 26th, 2024

St Peter & St Paul, Candles, A Pub & Distillery continues my walk on Friday 4th August 1989 in Battersea from the previous post, River Thames, St Mary’s, Church Rd, Chelsea Harbour & A Bridge. The walk began with Council flats, Piles of Bricks, A House Hospital and Brasserie.

St Peter & St Paul, Church, l21, Plough Road, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-74
St Peter & St Paul, Church, 121, Plough Road, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-74

I left the riverside and walked down Lombard Road and crossed York Road into York Gardens probably to find a pleasant spot to rest a while and eat my sandwiches before going through the gardens to exit on Plough Road close to the church.

St Peter’s Church is still very much alive now on Plough Road, but SPB looks very different to my picture in 1989. The first St Peter’s Battersea was built in 1875 but was seriously damaged by fire in 1970 and the church moved into the building in my picture which had been its church and school hall.

According to ‘Clapham Junction Insider’ Cyril Ritchert, the demolition of this Grade II listed building, “an accomplished example of the free gothic style“, was opposed by the Ancient Monuments Society, English Heritage, the Battersea Society and the Wandsworth Society but was approved by Wandsworth Council in 2010. The developers made a second application in 2015 before any building on the site had started. Google Street View shows the church still in use in 2012.

To finance the new church the developers had been granted permission for an 8 storey block of flats also on the site. Local residents were angered that the developers managed to game the planning system to eventually build a 10 storey block of housing with minimal affordable housing on the site.

Shop, St Peter & St Paul, Church, Flats, Holgate Ave, Plough Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989

The view of the church from Holgate Avenue shows clearly the position of the church on the edge of the Winstanley Estate to the north of Clapham Junction station. The view of the tower block Sporle Court is now blocked by the new 10 storey block on the church site. The trees at left are in York Gardens.

There is still a billboard and a shop on the corner of Holgate Avenue, but what was then BRITCHOICE is now SUNRISER EXPRESS POLSKI SKLEP. Holgate Avenue was until 1931 known as Brittania Place or Brittania Street and took its name from the Brittania beer house which was possibly in this shop, part of a group of two buildings at 38-40 Plough Lane which are the only remnants of the original 1860s development of the area.

Apparently the Revd Chad Varah, the founder of The Samaritans, was vicar at Saint Peter’s during the 1950’s. St Peter’s was amalgamated with St Paul’s at some time after 1969 – and St Paul’s had been amalgamated with St John in Usk Road in 1938.

Houses, Holgate Avenue, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-75
Houses, Holgate Avenue, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-75

According to the Survey of London, “Holgate Avenue, started in the 1920s, was Battersea’s first
successful slum-clearance scheme
.” Poorly built Victorian houses from the 1860s were replaced by these three-storey tenements built by Battersea’s Labour Council in 1924-37 to high standards with some impressive brickwork and detailing. Probably more importantly for the residents they were provided with electric cooking, heating and lighting facilities, unusual luxury for the time.

There was little land in Battersea for building and while the council would have liked to build single family homes it had to compromise with these. But at least tenants at most had only to walk up three flights of stairs, while most new council building by the LCC in the interwar period was in five-storey tenement walk-up blocks.

Price's Candles, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-62
Price’s Candles, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-62

I walked back up Plough Road to York Road, and continued my walk towards Wandsworth Bridge. There was no access to the River Thames on this stretch before the bridge, as the area was still occupied by industrial premises.

Price’s Candles on York Rd was built on part of the site of York House, the London residence of the Archbishop of York from which York Road got its name. You can read more than you will ever want to know about York House in All about Battersea, by Henry S Simmonds published in 1882 and now on Project Gutenberg, which also has a long section on the Belmont Works or Price’s Patent Candle Factory.

Price’s Candles was begun in 1830 by William Wilson and Benjamin Lancaster who had purchased a patent for the separation of coconut fats. They chose the name Price for the business to remain anonymous as candle-making was not at the time a respectable occupation.

They moved to this site in 1847 setting up a large factory and workforce, making candles, soap and other products with stearine wax for the candles and the by products of glycerine and light oils coming cocunuts grown on a plantation they bought in Ceylon. In 1854 they began to import large quantities of crude petroleum from Burma and developed paraffin wax candles. Later they developed processes to work with other industrial wastes, animal fats and fish oils. By 1900 they were the largest candle manufacturer in the world.

The company was taken over by Unilever in 1919, and became owned by other oil companies including BP, who sold part of the site which opened in 1959 as the Battersea Heliport. A few of Price’s buildings remain, though most with added floors, and the rest of the site is mostly new blocks of flats.

York Tavern, pub, 347, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-63
York Tavern, pub, 347, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-63

The York Tavern was on the corner of York Road and Usk Road in the late 1850s but was given a makeover later in the century in the typical 1890s Queen Anne style with fake gable facades. I can’t find a date for the closing of this pub but it was clearly very shut when I made this picture. The building was demolished in 2003.

John Watney & Co Ltd, Wandsworth Distillery, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-64
John Watney & Co Ltd, Wandsworth Distillery, York Rd, Battersea, Wandsworth, 1989 89-8c-64

Wandsworth Distillery on York Rd was founded by Richard Bush at Gargoyle Wharf around 1780. By 1874 it was owned by John and Daniel Watney. Gin was produced here, having become popular after heavy taxes were imposed on French brandy, and later particularly in the colonies to counteract the unpleasantly bitter taste of the anti-malarial quinine.

Acquired by Guinness, the distillery was demolished in 1992, and I photographed its occupation as the ‘Pure Genius Eco Village‘ by The Land is Ours in 1996. It was redeveloped as Battersea Reach housing from 2002 on.

More from this walk in another post.

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