Metropolitan Borough of Deptford

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Deptford Old Town Hall
Deptford within the County of London
 • 1911 1,563 acres (6.33 km2)
 • 1931/1961 1,564 acres (6.33 km2)
 • 1911 109,496
 • 1931 106,891
 • 1961 68,829
 • 1911 70/acre
 • 1931 68/acre
 • 1961 44/acre
 • Origin St Paul Deptford parish
 • Created 1900
 • Abolished 1965
 • Succeeded by London Borough of Lewisham
Status Metropolitan borough
Government Deptford Borough Council
 • HQ New Cross Road
The unofficial arms of the borough
Coat of arms adopted by the borough council
The bottom half of the borough's shield can be seen on this photo of Lewisham College's Tressillian Building, built 1927-31.
St. Paul's, Deptford, one of the finest Baroque churches in the country

The Metropolitan Borough of Deptford was a Metropolitan borough in the County of London between 1900 and 1965, when it became part of the London Borough of Lewisham along with the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham.

Deptford Town Hall was built between 1903 and 1905 on New Cross Road. The building is in a grand baroque style, featuring carvings of tritons and admirals to emphasise Deptford's maritime heritage. It is now used by Goldsmiths College.


The borough covered the same area of the parish of Deptford St Paul, which had been separated from the neighbouring parish of Deptford St Nicholas to its north in 1730. The rateable values of the two parishes had been roughly equal when they were separated, but St Paul contained all the farmland to the south, the majority of which was built on over the next 170 years.

When the Metropolitan Borough was created, consideration was given to reuniting the two parishes, but a closer equalisation of rateable value was served by uniting St Nicholas with Greenwich to the east.

The growth of the London conurbation had reached Deptford by the end of the eighteenth century but it had been a large industrial town well before this time: the Royal Docks and the Victualling Yard, which provisioned the Navy, and the various private dockyards, meant it was a prosperous and cosmopolitan town.


The borough bordered Bermondsey, Greenwich, Lewisham and Camberwell.

The borough covered an area of 1,563 acres (6.3 km2) and included the localities of St Paul Deptford, Brockley, New Cross, and St Johns.

Population and area

The area of the borough was 1,563 acres (6.3 km2). The population from each census was:

St Paul Deptford Civil Parish 1801-1899

Year[1] 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
Population 11,349 12,748 14,481 15,314 18,664 24,899 37,834 53,714 76,752 101,286

Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961

Year[2] 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961
Population 110,398 109,496 112,534 106,891 [3] 75,495 68,829

Coat of arms

The borough did not have an officially granted coat of arms, instead using a device of their own design.

The three choughs in the first quarter represent the county of Surrey. They were taken from the arms of Onslow family, one-time lords of the manor of Guildford. The fourth quarter showed a white horse on red, representative of the county of Kent. Before 1889 the area of the borough was divided between the two counties. The second quarter showed a quarter ship on the stocks, for the naval dockyard. The remaining quarter of the shield was a portrait of Peter the Great of Russia, who learnt the art of naval architecture in Deptford.

Above the shield was a mural crown, representing municipal government. On either side was an heraldic dolphin entwining a trident.


A map showing the wards of Deptford Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916.

Under the Metropolis Management Act 1855 any parish that exceeded 2,000 ratepayers was to be divided into wards; as such the parish of St Paul Deptford was divided into four wards (electing vestrymen): No. 1 or North (15), No. 2 or South (21), No. 3 or East (18) and No. 4 or West (18).[4]

The metropolitan borough was divided into six wards for elections: East, North West, North, South East, South West and South.[5][6]

Borough council

Parliament constituency

For elections to Parliament, the borough was represented by one constituency:


  1. Statistical Abstract for London, 1901 (Vol. IV); Census tables for Metropolitan Borough of Deptford
  2. Deptford MetB: Census Tables - Vision of Britain accessed 16 Jun 2007
  3. The census was suspended for World War II
  4. The London Gazette Issue: 21802. 20 October 1855. pp. 3902–3903. Retrieved 9 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Post Office London County Suburbs Directory, 1919. 1919. Retrieved 18 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Ordnance Survey 'County Series 3rd Edition' Map of London (1912-14) at 1:2500 scale. Accessed at

Further reading

  • Robert Donald, ed. (1907). "London: Deptford". Municipal Year Book of the United Kingdom for 1907. London: Edward Lloyd.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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