Walmer Castle

From: James Roffey
Clayworth, Nr. Retford

The picture of the former Walmer Castle in the last issue brought back memories of when I was a small boy going with my mother every week to the public library that stood on the opposite corner of Grummant Road to that public house. I was, of course, far too young to go into the Walmer Castle, or any other public house, but I knew a little of what it was like because a man who lived opposite our house in Shenley Road played in the Walmer Castle orchestra. Every evening he could be seen setting off to work, wearing a dinner suit and black bow tie. I am told that the Saloon Bar was “very respectable”, where suitably dressed customers sat in leather padded armchairs amongst potted palms. Unaccompanied ladies, men wearing caps, or who were without ties, would not be served at the bar but asked to leave.

The Walmer Castle in about 2000

In 1939 I was evacuated to Pulborough in West Sussex with my sister’s school – Peckham Central Girls. When I came home four years later, I found all that remained of the library was its ornate Victorian frontage. The grand steps leading up to the entrance doors were still there, but a plank of wood had been nailed across them, which was just as well because immediately behind was a National Fire Service reservoir on the site of what had been the library. In common with every other building the Walmer Castle looked very shabby. Whether it still had its potted palms and orchestra I do not know. I look forward to every issue of Peckham Society News and to the memories each one brings to me.

Footnote:

The hazard of empty properties. The Walmer Castle was situated at 102 Peckham Road. It closed and following refurbishment was reopened as Pharoahs in 2002. In 2004 the building was ravaged by fire. Following an application in 2007 to convert the building to flats rebuilding started. However, before completion it was again destroyed by fire in January 2009. The project was finally achieved.