Family Names

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A to Z Challenge - A is for Addresses

Snippets from the life of Martha Sarah Ellis.

Locating the family in England

Martha was born in 1870 in England, St George’s Rd Camberwell, where she spent the first 17 years of her life, the family had moved into the street before she arrived. It is difficult to know if Martha lived in the same house during that period or if the family moved further up the street as time went on.  Her first eight years were at 245 St Georges Road and the following 9 years were in 257 St Georges Road.  It is quite possible that the family remained in the same house; as often houses were re-numbered when more properties were built.  However, I am inclined to think that as the street was developed and as better properties became available that Martha’s father may have taken advantage and relocated the family and his business.

Figure 1 Digital Image taken by Flight AFL3708 of  “The Grand Surrey Canal”, Housing and Cleared Area 1946
see below for further details.

Martha's family lived on the odd numbered side of the road, the side that backed onto the Grand Surrey Canal.  Looking at an aerial photo, taken in 1946, it looks as though the backyard of the family home butted up against the warehouses and buildings that lined the Canal.  Time as moved on and neither the homes on the north side of the road or the canal still exist.  The area has now Burgess Park, so we are left to imagine what it would have been like to live of St Georges rd so close to the Canal.

But in my research, I came across many interesting stories

“The canal became a hub of industry with horse drawn barges bringing timber for the construction industry and limestone to be made into cement. Sawmills and lime kilns sprang up on its banks as a result.  The canal authorities generated income from tolls and fishing licences. In Victorian times a local pub hired rowing boats while swimming and illegal dog racing along the towpath drew small crowds and the attention of the law. The Grand Surrey Canal was the first to have canal police (forerunners of the British Transport Police). "Bank Rangers" were appointed in 1811 to keep law and order along the length of the canal.” [ see London's Lost Canals - Grand Surrey Canal ]
Makes one wonder what it would have been like for Martha growing up so close to all this action.


Figure 1 - Digital Image taken by Flight AFL3708. The Grand Surrey Canal, Housing and Cleared Area on the Site of What Is Now Burgess Park and Environs, Walworth, from the South-West, 1946 - Britain from Above. The Britain from Above project. Accessed March 2, 2017. Annotated by Sandra Williamson

For References click here 


  1. I'm looking forward to following Martha's story.

    Jill - Blogging the #AtoZChallenge at

  2. Wow! It is amazing that you have been able to discover all of this about your ancestors. I hope to be able to do this some day.

      Had some trouble commenting from my website profile but wanted ro share it as well

  3. Sandra I really like how you've approached this story and am looking forward to reading more.


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