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Remembering Wharf Road and St John’s Church

College View on Wharf Road

Regular readers will know that Eric Pemberton often sends photographs and postcards which often illustrate little known aspects of the Island. Recently he sent an interesting photograph of College View and a postcard of the interior of St John’s Church which was damaged by bombs in the Second World War and eventually demolished in the 1950s.

Wharf Road in the 1860s with College view  ( inset Island Gardens after 1937 )

College View was on Wharf Road which had been a feature on the Island from the 1850s, there was little housebuilding in this area till the 1860s when the small amount of development was quickly bought to a standstill by the depression on the Island due to financial problems of many of the shipbuilding yards. Wharf Road ran parallel with Manchester road from Ferry Street to near Pier Street.

Wharf Road 1880s with Station built.

Just off Wharf Road, three cross streets were formed: Barque Street, Ship (later Schooner) Street, and Brig Street.

In the 1880s,two rows of two storey houses with basements were put up in Wharf Road. These were No. 5–8 Wharf Road and No. 1–10 College Row were built. By this time, some of the area near Wharf Road was sold to build North Greenwich Station.

As the photograph shows, the railway cut across Wharf Road and a subway was built to allow people access.

So the question is, what happened to Wharf Road ? in 1937 it was renamed Saunders Ness Road which it remains today. As time moved on, Wharf Road has been forgotten but it is amazing that an old photograph can remind us of these little piece of Island History.

A walk down Saunders Ness Road today shows very little has survived of the past, the George Green School occupies much of the site near Island Gardens.

St John’s Church was consecrated in 1872 was designed by (Sir) A. W. Blomfield. The church was one of most active of the Island parishes where attendances at the church exceeded those at Christ Church and St Luke’s in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was estimated that the annual attendance figures for St John’s had reached 6,000. Unfortunately the church was a victim of the extensive bombing in the area in 1941 and became abandoned. Other churches on the Island lost the vast majority of its worshippers during the war and the three Island parishes were merged in 1952.

The postcard appears to be from someone associated with the church in 1904. Once again many thanks to Eric for providing such interesting information about the Island’s history.