Our garden walls are much older than Abbey Court. There are some nice Victorian details in the brickwork and clues to an industrial past.
You’ve probably noticed details like these:
with the grey bricks and post holes.
But, especially in summer, it can be easy to miss this:
Where Abbey Court buildings and carpark are now, was the headquarters and steamworks of Mr King’s business; The Bluehouse Laundry. He started off in a fairly small way, in 1870, living above his business, taking in collars and cuffs to clean. Remember in the nineteenth century, many men would have a clean shirt on Sunday which they would wear all week, only changing the collars and cuffs which were detachable. These would be laundered and starched.
Mr King had his family home on Brixton Hill. But here he employed some thirty workers. The laundry would arrive by cart through an archway which is now part of the house behind the bike rack. If you look carefully you can still see the top of the curve.
The Bluehouse laundry continued until the 1960s. There were branches all over London. However, the headquarters left Sutherland Square in the 1930s, and the building was taken over by Alford and Alder, originally coach builders, but later part of the motor industry.
Alford and Alder moved away to Hemel Hempstead in 1952, and the site was acquired by Acbars Machine Tools. They were the last occupiers of the building. It was pulled down in 1985. The site briefly became a car park, but local residents campaigned for it to be a residential plot and so Abbey Court came about.
How about a name change for our 25th anniversary? We could be Laundry Court, or Brinkley Court, The Old Steamworks. Something that reflects the history of the site would be nice.
Though of course there something here before Mr King’s business, but I’ll deal with that in another post.