Deptford New Town: A 19th century working class estate

The Lucas Family

Lucas Villa, Lewisham Way, Deptford New Town, Lewisham, 1987

The principal landed freeholder was the Lucas family. They owned the vast majority of land especially in the north and south-east of the area. The parish of St Nicholas Deptford owned one field in which stood a windmill and other minor landowners were the Evelyn family.

The Lucas family were originally from Cumbria but owed their prosperity to business activities in America. They were based in South Carolina where they built and managed water-powered rice mills.

Jonathan Lucas returned to London in 1823 and built the rather austere Lucas Villa on Lewisham Way. This stands next to St Johnís church (which was erected in 1854) and was for a time its vicarage. Today the Welsh Presbyterian Church uses Lucas Villa. In the 1830s some members of the Lucas family returned to America, but the estate passed to the hands of another Jonathan Lucas who, through his agent Joseph Peacock of Bloomsbury Square, managed the development.

New Town was principally a suburb of Deptford, not London. It grew in relation to Deptfordís growth and its residents participated in Deptfordís economy. The arrival of railway links to London certainly changed the landscape of the area Ė two different rail companies built their lines straight through the district - but did not really stimulate, or retard, its growth.