Upper Watergate Street connected, and still connects Deptford, the High Street and St Pauls Church, down the King’s Stairs, with the River Thames, once it’s key highway into London and out to the rest of the world.
And I think it has the oldest paving anywhere in London, or at least the most unique!
The surface of the road is made from enormous cobbles, or even boulders, the like I have not seen anywhere else in London, and the pavement to the side appears to me of Purbeck Stone – my guess as it appears the same the 18thC paving setts at The Temple Inn.
There are 100s of streets in London still with various 19thC granite setts and a few with limestone setts, and I have posts planned for some of these, but this street is in my experience simply unique. To be honest, I’ve not seen a road anywhere like this in Britain.
And yet it is not listed nationally, or, even, as far as I can see, locally. The wall towering above it, the Eastern Boundary Wall of the Deptford Royal Docks is listed,   as is the Former Master Shipwright’s House the other side of that wall.   And the Royal Dock river wall of John Rennie and others. [ Blog post to follow! ] 
And they are all quite rightly listed but clearly so should this street’s paving. It’s in Greenwich borough and a look on their conservation and listing pages shows nothing more than a ‘cannon bollard’ listed there. 
How old is this paving though? It is known that a dock was first built nearby in 1517 and a store house in 1513 which the base of still exists. This was sadly mostly destroyed by bombs in WW2 and demolished in the early 1950s. A foundation stone and flame headed arch is preserved at the Department of Computer Science at University College London. See The King’s Yard: archaeological investigations at Convoy’s Wharf Deptford from 2000 to 2012 
We know the Eastern Boundary Wall was built in the late 18thC .. the dockyard had expanded east at that point to Watergate Street. “By 1774, historic mapping shows a new boundary wall in two sections” 
The other side of Watergate Street, now converted into flats, is a building called Paynes Wharf and was built at in 1860 as a marine boiler factory for J Penn and Sons marine engineers. 
Stanford’s Library Map Of London And Its Suburbs 1864 has the Upper Watergate Street still with it’s historic name of King Street ( Dept. High Street )  but 4 years later Edward Weller’s 1868 Map of London calls it Old King Street and Upper Watergate Street at the top where this paving is. 
Stanfords 1878 Geological Map of London  shows a ferry from The King’s Stairs at Old king Street to Ferry Road on the Isle of Dogs, which coincidently also has some great granite setts of which I will at some stage do a blog post! 😀
So. I am going to guess that Upper Watergate Street was paved with these boulders in the mid to late 18thC when the new eastern wall of the Royal Dockyards was was built.
Elsdon and Howe in their The Stones of London: a Descriptive Guide to the Principal Stones Used in London state “Cobblestones formed the chief road material in London untik the later part of the 18thC when large cubed granite setts were introduced parts of the city”. 
And the only other places I have seen 18thC paving with limestone are in the Tower of London and the Temple Inn but nowhere have I seen small boulders such as this used.
Hopefully people will write in with other examples and dates but for now I’m quite excited by this discovery! 😀
I will be contacting Greenwich Council and Historic England and sending them this post to see what they think. And of course London Pavement Geology team for their thoughts.
Btw for the difference between setts and cobbles read this – but no mention of boulders! https://www.pavingexpert.com/setts01
And a small diversion to John Evelyn,  whose drawing of Deptford in 1623 I have posted above. I have long known of Evelyn as a very important 17thC horticulturalist and of his seminal Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber of 1662,    but didn’t know of his Deptford connection. In fact he lived, wrote and experimented with growing plants, in Deptford for many years, in Sayes Court, just to the west of King Street and which was many years later, in the 19thC, incorporated into the expanded Royal Dockyard and later Convoys Wharf. Fascinatingly in the early 21stC excavations at Convoys Wharf show that the foundations of Sayes Court are still entirely in place!
But. Evelyn was also “His Majesty’s Commissioner for improving the streets and buildings of London,”  in the late 17thC. Is it possible he had Deptford High Street near the King’s Stairs paved as it it is to this day?
Upper Watergate Street is, as noted above, a continuation of Deptford High Street going north, so easily accessible via New Cross and Deptford stations.
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