Pier Head Cottages

In 1875, just a few years after the opening of the Millwall Docks, the dock company built a number of houses for dock employees (primarily lock workers and police) on their land north of the entrance lock at Kingsbridge.

The houses were designed by dock engineer F.E. Duckham, who was the father of Alexander Duckham, founder of Duckham’s Oil (whose first works were at Phoenix Wharf just south of the entrance lock, where Montcalm, Montrose and Michigan Houses were later built).

The houses were named Pier Head Cottages, and had the addresses Nos. 3-14 Pier Head (Nos. 1 and 2 were never built, possibly due to a lack of space when the lock entrance and machinery had to be extended to accommodate larger ships).

Knipsel

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Year unknown, possibly c1900, click for full size.

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1910, click for full size.

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c1920, click for….(oh, you get it by now)

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Date unknown

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1921

The easternmost cottage had a top room overlooking the docks and was probably occupied by the dockmaster, while the others went to the lock foreman and dock policemen. During World War II, the entrance lock was damaged by bombing and never repaired, which meant the houses lost their original purpose. Nos 3–10 were demolished in 1954–5.

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Photo taken from the roof of McDougalls by Dave Chapman, c1980.

There was an attempt by a local housing association to refurbish the remaining four homes after the docks closed in 1979, but this was not a success and they became derelict and damaged.

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Photo: Pat Jarvis

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The LDDC demolished the last remaining Pier Cottages in 1986 and built affordable cottages for retired dockers on the riverside site (I might have made that last bit up).


 

Appendix. Some Residents Over The Years
According to Electoral Registers and other sources.

1882
8. John Harvey Frederick, Stevedore

1883
3. John Chaplin
4. Frederick Ballard
5. John Mills
6. William Miller
7. William Clark
8. John Howe
10. William Holmes
11. William Murry
12. Rev. Robert Smith
13. John Smith
14. Thomas Stollery, Henry White

1895
6. Joseph John Harvey, Stevedore

1905
?. John Lundy
3. John Smith
4. James Stapleton
6. George Shaw
7. William Clark
8. George Howard
9. Edrward William Hill
10. Harry Noyes
11. John William Plummer
12. George Belton
13. William Edwin Golding

1915
?. Captain James Henry Wheeler, Assistant Dockmaster, Millwall Docks

1923
3. Eliza Brewer, John Brewer
4. Albert Edward Francis, Alfred John Francis, Osborne William Francis
5. John Savill, Louisa Mary Savill
6. Albert Edward Stapleton, Annie Mary Stapleton, Henry Samuel Stapleton, Samuel Robert Stapleton
7. Arthur Clarence Collins, Edith Collins
9. Agnes Shaw, George Henry Shaw
8. Edith Constance Goddard, Edward William Goddard
10. Edward Humphrey, Peter Thomas, Todd
11. Edgar Gilham, Jessie Gilham
12. Frank Thomas Moynihan, Maria Moynihan
13. Henry Charles Osman, Elizabeth Wilcox, Frederick William Wilcox
14. Albert Steer, Annie Steer, William Henry Steer

1939
3. Benjamin Horace Cater, Benjamin Jesse Horace Cater
4. Clarence Leslie Savill, George William Savill, James Rupert Savill, Mary Jane Savill, Ronald Weycott Savill
5. Frank Amos Conn, Sarah Mary Frances Conn
6. Annie Mary Stapleton, Robert Henry Stapleton, Elizabeth Margaret Stapleton
7. Robert Henry Harris, John Ernest Winch, May Rose Winch
8. Edith Goddard, Edith Constance Goddard, Edward William Reggie Goddard
9. Albert Henry Foster, Olive Lydia Foster
10. Edward Albert Bissell, Rose Emma Sarah Bissell
11. Elsie Agnes Haylett, Robert Charles Haylett Jr, Robert Charles Haylett Sr
12. Caroline Theresa Warwick, John Edward Warwick, Margaret Daisy Warwick
13. Bertram Richard Bragger, Eleanor Eliza Bragger
14. Albert Percy Newman, Hannah Catherine Newman

1950
3. William Rappolt, Yolande Rappolt
4. Christina D. Myers, Raymond G. Myers
5. George Clark, lvy C. Clark
7. John Winch, May Winch
8. George F. Bragger, lvy Bragger
9. Albert Hilton, Winifred I. Hilton, Olive Foster
11. Elsie Haylett, Robert Haylett, Elizabeth Todd
12. Caroline Warrick, John E. Warrick
13. John George Wilcox, Mary Wilcox
14. James Steele, lrene Steele
??. John D. Williams, Rosetta E. Williams

1959
12. John E. Warrick

1960
13. JG Wilcox JG

1962
14. WR Brooks

1964
5. Capt. DJ Powell
11. Elsie Haylett
12. John Edward Warrick, Patricia Warrick
14. May Fulton Brooks, Walter Richard Brooks
13. John P. Wilcox, Mary Florence Wilcox

1975
AE Bragger AE

1981
Capt. DJ Powell

1982
13. JG Wilcox

 

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7 Responses to Pier Head Cottages

  1. Joan Fynn says:

    Thought you might be interested in the following information on the Pier Head. I was very familiar with this area from 1946-1950 as my friend lived in the first cottage (N0.14) with her parents James & Irene Steele. Her father was an inspector with the PLA police. I lived in a flat in Montrose House nearby. I spent most of my time playing on the Pier Head with her and her younger brother (plus dog who kept an eye on us when she wasn’t on duty in the docks).By then there were no railings there, obviously removed during the war, so the area was completely open to the river, but we were very aware of the dangers and would lie flat on our bellies to peer over the side to see the murky river running below. There was also a small area of shrubs and trees down a slope where I slipped one day and hurt my arm (I still have the scar 70 years on).
    The article states that N0.14 had a room overlooking the dock, but it wasn’t actually a room just a small attic area (more of a “look-out”), where the Steeles kept trunks/ suitcases etc.
    My happy days there ended when James left the PLA and the family moved to Devon, though we kept in touch for many years.

    • Thanks for those memories, Joan. I also thought it was a bit fanciful to imagine that little room with its little windows would be used by a dockmaster to keep an eye on things. Great to have a personal confirmation. Thanks again, regards, Mick.

  2. My great-grandfather Edward Humphrey lived at no. 10 Pierhead Cottages until at least 1932. I have his will he wrote in January 1932 leaving everything he possessed to his oldest daughter (spelled ‘dalter’ – as he would have said it!) Jane, my grandma. He was a diver in the docks, and I have a number of photos of him in his diving suit and helmet – I will try and post them on this site.

    I never knew my grandfather (maternal) Sidney Ede – my grandma and mum never talked about him much, and I suspect he came to a bad end from some of the hints they dropped…any information on him gratefully received, although I don’t know if he was from the Island.

    • Suzanne says:

      Edward Humphrey was also my great grandfather!!. We also have the pictures of him in his diving suit. My nan was Sarah Humphrey. Would be great to see and share info you have.

  3. Dave Whiting says:

    Hi – I know this is a rather perepheral question, but please could you tell me where you got the information about ’14. Albert Steer, Annie Steer, William Henry Steer’ from 1923? I suspect these are relatives that i am researching. Thanks.

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