During WWI, the horses of the 33rd Royal Field Artillery Camberwell Division were housed in barracks created on the premises of Gordon’s Brewery in Chadwick Road/ Lyndhurst Road, requisitioned for the purpose. In the summer of 1915 some of these horses caught an infectious disease and the stables had to be sterilised, displacing all of the 100 or more war horses destined for the front. On 30th July 1915, while this work was being done, the horses were moved into Lyndhurst Road (now Lyndhurst Way), where a photograph was taken by Frederick Alfred Finch of Peckham Rye. This beautiful record survives, a piece of local history linking the area with WWI history and with the horses that served. As well as soldiers and stable hands, local civilians gather, standing on their front steps or on the pavement beside the road. There are limbers too, used to pull the guns on the battlefields. The houses flanking the street are all still standing, having survived WWII, albeit sacrificing their cast iron fences.
On 11th May 2015, Peckham War Horse Project recreated this photograph in collaboration with local residents, community groups, schools and the horses, officers and soldiers from the Household Cavalry. The original photograph was the focal point for discovery and learning about both WWI and Peckham’s historical connections with the event.
The Peckham War Horse Project was devised and produced by Melissa Jo Smith and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Peckham Society.
© Vipul Sangoi and Melissa Jo Smith