Location Seven

7. William Bishop (10 Alvar Street, Deptford)

Audio Description – Caption Seven
Summary for Caption Seven

During the R&D for [Captioning Lewisham] I invited people to share with me their own memories and stories of local history. I received an email from Helen Sorrell who explained how her grandmother, Caroline Sorrell (née Bishop), had been born into a family of travelling showmen who were based at a site in Deptford for several decades from the time a fairground was established in the area in the 1890s.  

She recalled being told that they had a shooting range, which was still operating when her father was a small boy, probably in the 1940s. He remembered visiting his grandmother Emma at the range on Blackheath.  

William Bishop (photograph taken by travelling photographer Edward Gilby, in the early 1890)

The Bishop family lived in a collection of vans at 10 Alvar Street in Deptford during the time of the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses. In 1911 Helen’s great-great-grandfather William Bishop and his son, also called William Bishop, are listed alongside her grandmother Caroline, who was born in 1907. Alvar Street no longer exists, but we know from old maps that it was close to Bronze Street. 

Helen’s great-grandfather William (pictured) was born in Woodchurch, Kent in around 1870. In 1907 he married Bermondsey-born Emma Burton, and the couple went on to have ten children. A travelling showman, William Bishop was based at the Deptford fairground site with his family from about 1890 until his death at the age of 53 in 1923. He is buried in Brockley Cemetery.


Fairs were very popular forms of entertainment around this time. Deptford Fair, which was just off Deptford High Street, was operational from 1890 until the early 1960s. It’s believed that this photo was taken by a travelling photographer called Edward Gilby in the early 1890s. The Bishop and Gilby families lived in vans on travelling fairground sites near each other for many decades. 


 If anyone has more information about the fairground or the Bishop family that they would like to share with us, please do get in touch. Email Helen at: helensorrell@hotmail.com

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