Where was Sir Michael Caine’s family home?

Kevin Quinn (18 February, 2021)

You can also find your ancestor's home in Southwark even if the road no longer exists

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You can just imagine the great man himself Sir Michael Caine telling you, “My family’s home is on what nowadays is the touchline of Tabard football pitch in Borough. Not a lot of people know that.”  But now thanks to a website, TheGenealogist, many more people from Southwark can research and find exactly where their ancestors lived just after the turn of the last century.

Using the Lloyd George Domesday Survey of 1910-1915 for Southwark, released online uniquely by TheGenealogist, people are now able to find where these houses were even when the roads have long since disappeared.

The website using this survey alongside the 1911 census pinpoints these homes and roads that are no longer found on current maps.

The buildings plotted on large scale Ordnance Survey maps have been georeferenced by TheGenealogist and made viewable as a layer in the versatile Map Explorer interface.

Meaning, that on the website you can fade between these old maps and the modern maps to show you exactly where the houses would have stood today.

In order to illustrate their point they have taken the family home of Oscar award-winning film legend Michael Caine, who was born in March 1933 in Rotherhithe.

His birthplace St Olave’s, a general hospital on Lower Road, near where Seven Island Leisure Centre stands today, no longer exists, but like his family home in Borough it can also be found in the Lloyd George Domesday Survey records at a time just before the First World War.   When Michael Caine was born it was run by the London County Council. This was before the formation of the NHS to whom it would be transferred and it would continue to be in use until the hospital was finally closed in 1985. Using TheGenealogist map explorer you can identify exactly where it stood and the footprint of the old hospital now lost under the development of new homes.

A delighted Michael Caine unveiling his very own Blue Plaque in 2003 at the site of the hospital where he was born

Another tell-tale sign is of course a Blue Plaque to Sir Michael Caine erected on part of the hospital building that still stands. The plaque unveiled on October 1, 2003, is part of scheme thought up by us here at Southwark News, Southwark Heritage Association and Southwark Council to honour and mark out our historic places, events and people.

Over 50 have now be put up, after we saw a distinct lack of plaques compared to other London boroughs with far less history than ourselves. The traditional blue plaques scheme run by English Heritage comes with two caveats; that the building needs still be standing and the person dead.  Both would be a problem for Sir Michael to get a plaque. The former caveat is a massive problem for Southwark as so many buildings were destroyed during the Blitz and arguably even more by 1960s and 70s architects.

So this is why the new service by TheGenealogist is so interesting for Southwark and Michael Caine’s family history is a case in point.

As many readers will know, when he was born his name wasn’t Michael Caine at all – in fact he had been given at birth the very same name as his father, that is: Maurice Joseph Micklewhite.

However, at the beginning his acting career, aged 21, like so many other performers he chose a stage name. Michael White, as he first became known, worked his “apprenticeship” in the provincial theatres of Britain until in the mid 1950s, his acting career brought him back home to London. As there was already an actor named Michael White performing in London he was advised to find another stage name. Talking to his agent from a telephone box in Leicester Square and under some pressure to come up with a new sobriquet he immediately looked around him for some inspiration. It was 1954 and the billboard above the entrance to the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square was promoting, The Caine Mutiny. Being a huge fan of the star, Humphrey Bogart, he decided there and then to adopt the surname Caine.

But as his name was once Micklewhite this, is the family you would search for in the Southwark area on TheGenealogist.

Caine’s grandfather was called Joseph, or Joe, Micklewhite. At the time of the 1901 census, when Joe was 26, he was living in the St Peter’s parish of Southwark. Married to Hannah Regan he had two sons and a daughter and the record includes the two year old Maurice, Caine’s father. Joe’s occupation was that of a Labourer at the Mineral Water Department in 1901, though earlier in the 1891 census he had been a Brush Drawer.

1911 census

At the time of the 1911 census and close to the time that the Valuation Office Survey was being taken (also known as the Lloyd George Domesday Survey) Caine’s grandparents were living at Number 1 Amicable Row, close to Tabard Street in Borough, Joe was now enumerated as a labourer on the waterside.

According to TheGenealogist this may mean that he was a docker or, as we know that later in life both Joe and his son Maurice are known to be fish porters, it is possible that Michael Caine’s grandfather had started to work at the fish market by this time.

In the household are Joe and his wife, plus five children including Caine’s father, Maurice aged twelve. They made a mistake when filling in the form and also listed three more children who were dead by this time. While they are on the schedule they have been crossed through, but as TheGenealogist points out, this sort of mistake can often be extremely helpful for a researcher.

Today it is not possible to just walk down Amicable Row and find the home of the Micklewhites as the area in which it once stood has been extensively damaged by high explosive bombs dropped during the Blitz.

The war caused the loss of a whole host of streets that no longer feature on a modern map but searching for Joseph Micklewhite and Southwark in the Lloyd George Domesday records returns us to the property at 1 Amicable Row. We can read that Joseph was the occupier while the owners were The Chandos Land & Building Society.

A link takes us to TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer interface. With this powerful resource we can then fade between the georeferenced maps used by the Lloyd George Domesday overlayed on top of modern maps to allow us to see that the Micklewhite’s neighbourhood once stood within what is today an open space called Tabard Gardens. Their house at 1 Amicable Row (see the green map pin above) once stood at the intersection of the centre line and touch line of a football field that is laid out there today.

The Lloyd George Domesday records on TheGenealogist allow us to click through to see the pages of the actual field books. In Joseph Micklewhite’s case we see that he paid weekly a rent of 7/6 for a house with one large room on the first floor and a ground floor consisting of one room and a yard with a copper and WC. We can only speculate how cramped this must have been for the seven of them that were listed as living at the address in the 1911 census.

Like Michael Caine, you can find your ancestor’s home at www.thegenealogist.co.uk To use this new  map feature you do have to subscribe.

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martin seton says:

Shouldn’t adverts or advertorials like this one be marked as such?

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