Royal Waterman's Almshouses, Penge, c. 1890


These almshouses were built in 1840 - 1841 for retired freemen of the Watermen and Lighter-men's company of the City of London.

Watermen had the job of ferrying people across the Thames in the days when there was only a single bridge, while lightermen were pilots taking goods from large ocean going ships into port, using small boats or lighters.

As the number of bridges across the Thames increased, the prospects of the watermen grew worse and the demand for accommodation for those who had fallen on hard times grew.

Built in a Tudor style, popular at the time, on land donated by local landowner, James Dudin Brown, there was then accommodation for 60 residents in what would then have been a delightful rural location.

Remaining in use until 1973, the residents were transferred to new bungalows at Hastings and the original building modernised. Initially used as public housing, most are now in private hands.

See historic maps of Penge