Thurlestone Road

Thurlestone Road runs across the side of a hill on a roughly north-south axis. It is approached from West Norwood station by a short section of Knights Hill and then a steep climb up Wolfington Road. The vast majority of the houses are semi-detached and were built during the final two decades of the 19th century. However, more recent development at the north end replaces seven houses that were bombed during the Second World War.

Maps and Land Ownership
Thurlestone Road is one of a number of local roads whose names were approved in 1880 when a substantial area of land to the west of Knights Hill, branded as ‘St Julian’s Park Estate’, was laid out and sold as building plots for development by their purchasers. More about the background to this process can be seen in the street history of Casewick Road.

This 1894-vintage Ordnance Survey map shows Thurlestone Road as it was before residential development was fully completed.

1894 OS Map Showing Thurlestone Road


  • 1880 – Thurlestone Road approved as the street name.
  • 5 July 1881 – Auction at the Norwood Hotel (now Great North Wood) offered for sale 80 plots of building land with frontages to Thurlestone and Wolfington Roads. The terms allowed payment to be made by instalments spread over nine years with 5% interest on the balance. [South London Press, 11 June 1881]
  • 26 November 1885 – Auction at the Norwood Hotel offered the houses that are now known as 45, 47, 48 & 50 Thurlestone Road held on lease with 96 years unexpired at a ground rent of £7 per annum each. [South London Press, 21 November 1885]
  • December 1886 – Lambeth Vestry received a report about the extent to which the roads on the ‘St Julian’s Estate’ had been developed. 1,133 feet of the frontage of Thurlestone Road had not been built and 1,100 feet had been built. It agreed to pave the parts of the roads where the most buildings had been erected including all of Thurlestone Road. This was then done at the owners’ expense.
  • 30 April 1890 – Auction at The Mart, Tokenhouse Yard offered the freehold houses now known as 15, 21, 23, 29 Thurlestone Road “all let to good tenants, producing £112 per annum”. [South London Press, 19 April 1890]

Building of the street
Thurlestone Road was developed over a considerable number of years and there appears never to have been a strategic plan for the design or appearance of the houses. The earliest ones tended to be on the western side (which now has the odd postal numbers) with commanding, if temporary, views from their fronts. Construction took place in a piecemeal fashion and the street was not paved until about 1887, so the locality must have been quite shabby initially with many vacant overgrown portions of land. The available evidence for the earliest reference to each individual house is set out below

Thurlestone Road – First appearances

Kelly’s ‘Sydenham, Norwood & Streatham’ directories for 1884, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1889 & 1891 were consulted to establish the earliest edition that contains an entry for each of the following houses. The earliest years in which they were identified there by name are listed below. The Number column displays the modern address numbers.

When road paving charges were apportioned on 12 May 1887, some house names or numbers were different to those used immediately before the current ones were allocated on 15 July 1890. In these cases, the 1887 versions appear in square brackets.

(*) The name is still visible at the front of the house.

(**) These  two pairs of houses have initials & a year displayed on them:

  • Nos. 41 & 43 (WP 1885)
  • Nos. 69 & 71 (WP 1883)

A significant number of houses were erected by William Bugg (1845-1911), a local builder. In contrast, number 20 (one of the few originally detached houses) was a ‘one-off’ project and built a few years prior to its immediate neighbours on either side.

Initially, the houses were not numbered but identified by individual names or in a few cases by haphazard numbers.

Thurlestone Road – Names into Numbers

Most houses in Thurlestone Road were built between 1880 and 1890, but not in order along the street frontages. To start with, houses had names rather than numbers but on 15 July 1890 street numbers were allocated as postal addresses for all of those then standing in the road. The plan which accompanied the numbering order showed the house names and their new numbers.

A list sent to the LCC in July 1892 adds details for some houses built since the earlierlist. Alternative names or numbers that had been used appear in [square brackets].

(*) = The name is still visible at the front of the house. Two other houses have names which can be seen on them: are No 3 (Oxford House)  and No 19 (Walton Villa)

On 16 February 1887 the Morning Post reported that Edward James Wright had died at ‘Abercorn House, Thurlestone Road, West Norwood’. The identity of that house has not been ascertained.


The buildings in Thurlestone Road are generally unremarkable; none appear on the National Heritage List for England. Most houses only have 20-foot frontages and were originally built as pairs of semi-detached dwellings. Because of the modest width of each frontage, the layouts tended to be similar with front and middle rooms extending across much of the plot, a narrower back addition and also upper floors that provide a further one or two levels of accommodation above all the ground floor rooms.

A minority of houses have been converted into two or three self-contained flats.

The front gardens are very shallow, so none are used for parking vehicles.

Alterations made to original houses, particularly since about 2000, have included wrap-around extensions to back additions, the amalgamation of other ground floor rooms and/or the conversion of loft space into habitable rooms.

The five houses now standing at the north end of the road were built around 1960, the two of these on the east (even numbered) side of the road being part of a self-build development that extends round into Canterbury Grove.


Significant Street Buildings

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Social History
Census returns indicate that initially, almost all the houses were each occupied by a single household, albeit sometimes accompanied by one or more lodgers or boarders. In 1891 and 1901, many households included at least one live-in servant but that proportion had shrunk considerably by 1911 and only three resident servants were to be found in the whole road in 1921. This change reflects the wider availability of jobs other than domestic service becoming open to women, not only as a result of labour shortages caused by the Great War but (at least in London) prior to 1914.

For reasons that are not clear, over 13% of the houses were vacant at the time of the 1911 census.

In contrast, the 1921 enumeration shows every house but one in the road as at least partly inhabited, in many cases by more than a single household (21 houses each had two households and one accommodated three).


Census date Inhabited houses (+ unoccupied) Being built Households Total


6 April 1891 55 (+3) 5  55 284 36
31 March 1901 81 (+5) 0  85 385 46
2 April 1911  75 (+12) (*) 0  81 308 15
19 June 1921 86 (+1) 0 110 388  3

(*) Only two rooms in number 85 were occupied in 1911 and it appears that numbers 56, 58 and 62 were probably also only partly occupied on that occasion.


    David Dalby (1933 – 2022)

    Terry David Pereira Dalby was born on 7 January 1933 and spent the first six and a half years of his life at 28 Thurlestone Road. He was annoyed that he was not woken up on the night of 30 November 1936 and therefore missed the grandstand view of the b …

    Ernest (1890 – 1947) and Amelia Dalby (1889 – 1971)

    Ernest Edwin & Amelia Mary Annie Dalby with their children Eileen and Arthur moved to 28 Thurlestone Road in the autumn of 1918 – after Eileen’s fourth birthday (7 September) but before Armistice Day (11 November). By then, she went to a school run …

    Major William Echlin Turney (1830 – 1904)

    Major William Echlin Turnley  was born at Belfast and rose through the ranks to become an officer. He joined the 54th Regiment of Foot at the age of 14 and was promoted to Quartermaster in 1863. He transferred to the 1st Regiment of Foot (the ‘Royal Sc …

    Peter McDonald Poupard (1925-1944)

    The Battle of Arnhem is a milestone of the Second World War. It was a notable setback in the Allied advance into the Netherlands and is the subject of the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’. Among the troops who fell there was Peter McDonald Poupard of 52 Thurles …

    Reverend Edward James Scarlett (1847-1913)

    The whole of Thurlestone Road is in the parish of St Peter Streatham, whose church occupies an imposing position nearby in Leigham Court Road. The clergy in the picture, which was published in St Peter’s parish magazine in December 1904, are understood …

    Roy Leslie Winstanley (1913 – 2000)

    Roy Leslie Winstanley, a noted expert on the 18th-century diarist Parson James Woodforde, was living at Halesowen in 1992 when he recalled: “As a boy I lived in Thurlestone Road, for about two years. The number was, I think, 87 (*), and it faced down a …

    1896 The White Family 22 Thurlestone Road

    The White Family (1891 – 1910)

    1896 The White Family 22 Thurlestone Road – courtesy of Mary Sumners

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Street Directories
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