These ancient steps are situated on the edge of Deptford where the creek meets the Thames, a major point of local history. River taxi’s and ferries once transported people over the creek here between the navy docks of Deptford and the Admiralty at Greenwich. Summoning of river transport was done with a ‘Hoy!’ hence the name associated with the steps and public house.
In recent times this area has been radically transformed by property speculators and much of the old character and reputations have been erased . Both banks of the creek were once lined with crumbling brick wharf buildings and abandoned factories, many were squatted, others lay dormant but now all but a very few have gone.
What was once a local pub servicing the working men running the scrapyards and river related businesses, ‘The Hoy Inn’ reinvented itself as a cafe to cater for the influx of new people that don’t necessarily work in the area and want to live closer to the city without the high cost of city centre accommodation.
Numerous metal scrapyards and cars breakers once operated in the available spaces with road or river access. Now, the stacked steel, aluminium and glass tower over the narrow streets leaving those at ground level increasingly in the shade.
The contest for access and ownership of land and property resulted in difficulties for the Hingston family who own ‘The Hoy’ and operated scrap metal and recycling works on the creek. To protect themselves from such encroachment in the nineties, the steps area was blocked with stacked cars to resist co-option. As a result of their successful campaign, the Hoy property remains mostly intact and the steps have been protected from redevelopment although mostly inaccessible.