• Charlie Chaplin Rides Again
  • Dulwich to Clapham Common

Charlie Chaplin Rides Again

Another lovely day! 17 riders in Peckham Square raring to head off with Bruce to visit the haunts of one of Southwarks most fanous sons, Charlie Chaplin.

First stop East St. Somehwere close to there Charlie was born in 1889. Next to nearby Barlow St where Charlie lived for a spell aged 2-3 (ish), Modern estate now, victorian houses all demolished. Quickly on via St Johns Church where his parents married to beautifully preserved West Square. Charlie’s family moved here soon after he was born. You can see from this nice house that his parents, both music hall entertainers, were making a decent living. Things went downhill from this point. His parents split up and his mother became ill. The next stop, the Imperial War Museum, tells part of this story. In the 1890s this was the Bethlem Hospital, an asylum for the insane and the ortigin of the word “bedlam”. Chalie’s mother, Hannah, was sent there in 1896. By this time Charlie’s father was chronically sick due to alchoholism. Famously, there was a meeting, some years later, between Charlie and his father at the 3 Stags Pub in Kennington Rd which we passed next. We than moved on to the Cinema Museum in Dugard Way close to Kennington Lane. This stop was not to do with the cinema, rather it was because the building housing the Cinema Museum was at the relevant time the Lambeth Workhouse. As a child with no familiy who could support him Charlie ended up there, along with older brother Sydney, in the Workhouse at the age of seven.

Charlie did not stay long in the Workhouse. He and Sydney were sent to a residential shcool in Hanwell. This was one of the “Central London District Schools” set up to house and educate orphans and other homeless children. At around this time Chalrie’s mother was discharged from Bethlem and the family lived together in 1-2 rooms at 39 Methley Street, off Kennington Rd. On the way to Methley St we stopped at 287 Kenningon Rd (a non-blue placque here) where Charlie and Sydney lived for a while with their father. About this time, at age of 10, Charlie joined the “8 Lancachire Lads” clog dancing group. He toured with them and between whiles did lots of jobs locally. Another haunt was The Queen’s Head pub on Black Prince Road run by his uncle and we passed this next. Sydney joined a training ship and did 4 years before returning. Hannah was still in an asylum. Sydney was working and Charlie was getting some stage work. He appeared in his first starring riole in the West End at age 16 (1905). By 1906 both Sydney and Charlie wire working for Fren Karno, the music hall impressario. By 1908 Charlie and Sidney could rent decent accomodation at Glenshaw Mansions on Brixton Rd. We unfortunately took a wrong turning and never reached this location. Running out of time decided to head back via BurgessPark to Peckham. To complete Charlie’s story in London, he toured America twice with one of Fred Karno’s companies. During the second tour he was signed up by Keystone Studios, started making films and, as they say, the rest is history!

Indebted to Harry Clark, who when leading rides for us invented this ride (now leads rides in Bexley for Lets Go). Harry’s summary of Charlie’s early life and other information and his annotated list of the locations is here: https://southwarkcyclists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Charlie-Chaplin-PDF-2019_06_27-21_53_24-UTC.pdf). Route https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1Zt8dURoPS_wjIgwrMJGTHVYftoauXG4&usp=sharing

Dulwich to Clapham Common

Six riders at Dulwich Park Cafe for this ride led by Simon S. whose report follows.

It was a glorious day for a bike ride from Dulwich Park to Clapham Common and back – bright sunshine with a post-equinox nip in the air as we set off. This ride, which languishes under the abbreviation “DulClap”, took us through four of London’s loveliest large parks – Dulwich Park, Brockwell Park, Clapham Common and Belair Park. We stopped off at the Herne Hill Velodrome and Brixton Windmill, both gems hidden away from the main streets. Mostly flat, but with a bit of a climb in Brockwell Park on the way back – putting the hill into Tulse Hill. The views back over the park and eastwards across London were worth it though. Even with a relaxing coffee stop in Clapham Common, we were back at 12 noon, everyone remarking that this was a lovely and relaxing ride.

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