Some of my memories of Sydenham hill in the 1950`s and early 60`s. a bit haphazard in places I expect.Probably a bit repetetive for which I apologise.
There used to be a horse trough at the Elliot bank end, before you went down to Lordship lane, which is where I`ll start, the green triangular park down the hill has numerous humps at he bottom which were always refered to as plague pits.Never knew if this were true.
Turning along Sydenham hill there was a nice period house on the right with a rounded front , I think, well tucked into trees, further along, set back behind railings an expensive looking brick house set back, used to deliver milk there as the milkmans helper, never found any one would answer the door.
On the left a huge house which was some kind of LCC hoisng , may be for old folk, it had a caretaker we used to irritate.!!
Then a large vaguely Lutyens style house which was a nursing home of some kind; I went into it much later as the demolition crew moved in. I`m surprised it was allowed to be demolished. It was a fine house; inside a magnificent staircase with huge windows which gave a superb view south. It had magnificent gardens too, which were a scrumpers paradise, even tho` guarded by a demon who could move alarmingly fast when she wanted to.
Then the Lammas green estate, owned by the corporation of London,built to house city of London bomb victimds; very nicely laid out and well thought of; unfortuneately used to house some of the east end`s worst.
Past that memory is vague till a large victorian house divided into flats, then another owned by the Salvation army; they built some small lodgings at the back, which exits onto the top of Panmure Rd;
them the estate.
on the other side of the road from Cox`s walk a series of large houses, mostly subdivided, with yet another nursing home which was one of the last to be demolished.
Its the Gardens behind these house which are now called the `Woods`. they extended down to the railway line beyond which was the golf course.You would not believe the magnificence of these gardens; the outline of many of the features was still visible and most of the garden structures were still standing. The folly that has been mentioned still showed remnants of stained glass in its window; there was an artificial steam that ran down hill near it. The greenhouse and potting sheds were huge, I remember burrowing thru ivy into one which was FULL of clay flower pots of all sizes, arranged as they had been left by the gardener. my brother and I liberated many. I still have at least one.
The green houses had boiler houses and heating systems, huge hot water pipes all round.
All succumbed to the inevitable vandalism a the estate grew and was populated. I`m sorry to say with some help from myself.
I`m surprised no-one has thought to do some kind of time team stunt here, I bet theres lots to be found; it used to be a rich hunting ground for old bottle collectors, I once uncovered a row of what must have been a couple 100 stoneware gin bottles, all complete in the undergrowth, neatly stacked in a row.
The Horniman museum library used to have a book, no idea of the title, which described in depth the houses along the hill and the inhabitants, it was a sort of millionaires row of its time, the green houses used to grow grapes oranges and bananas would you believe!!Fond memeories of that library, I played truant from Dacres rd school the last year I was there, and I was never found as I hid out in that library reading my way through it, mostly the sole inhabitant.
Past the wood house pub on the right there was some magnificent houses, again mostly sub let, they had covered walks to the front doors from the road so you could leave your carriage without getting wet. Used to be a horse mounting block there as well.
In those days the road was unsurface and in a dreadful condition with major potholes. As it formed a boundary betweem three councils no one wanted to take on the expense of surfacing it, All changed when the estate was built and the 63 bus route installed.
Behind the wood house was Peckermans wood road, regarded a s abit posh; Eric Morley of Miss World fame had a house there before he moved down to Woodhall drive.
Further along on the left was Dome hill which had a very avant garde scandanavian style sixties house, with a sauna; a bit `up` for Sydenham, Near Dome hill, can`t remember before or after was a long period house which I was told had its origins as a hunting lodge for King James.
Turn left at the end into Westwood Hill and one of those houses on the left has/had at its roof apex a terracotta eagle, This house was once owned the German embassy pre WW1, the eagle is the Imperial German eagle.
The woods at the bottom of the footpath opposite the Wood house are all Oaks, and its reputed that Oak from these woods was used to build Drakes ship, the Golden Hind at Deptford dockyards, At the top of the road by the toll gate, Grange lane ,was a farm which was requisitioned and a huge set of anti aircraft gun emplacement was built there, only demolished with great effort around 1960, when it was returned to allotments, Speaking of which, the the older allotments, opposite the entrance to the golf course, are worth taking a trek up to the top on a clear day. From the high spot you will get a superb panoramic view of London from west of Fulham to St Pauls. I had an allotment at the top and with a small set of binoculars could get the time from Big Ben!!.
I always thought that the destruction of those houses along Sydenham hill was a real crime. Just think of what that area would be like today if they still existed. Always a money grubbing lot Dulwich College
In those days the tracks were still on the railway line and we could walk through both tunnels, always half convinced that a train would come soon!Crystal Palace high level station should also have been kept, quite a big station with a glass roof, I think, and wooden planked platforms, The subway under the road is quite a sight to for those who have`nt seen it.
Behind the shops backing onto Farqhuar Rd, to the left of the road bridge was the turntable for turning the train engines.
My father, a south London man,was, along with many others convinced that the Crystal Palace was deliberately set alight, very many inconsistancies in the official accounts, they thought that the glass building would be too useful for enemy areoplanes seeking targets, and although well past its prime Londoners of the time loved the place dearly and would have kicked up too much protest if it were "offically" demolished was the favoured thinking for many years after.
What a wonderful millenium project rebuilding it would have been.
I well recall Wells park in which I spent so many happy hours it was a jewel of a park like all the Lewisham parks under the old LCC. Mayow park was another, all had a resident head keeper, living in the park and a crew of Park keepers who brooked no nonsense.
I knew the little wooden bridge over the stream which in spring had a wonderful crocus display around it, the sandpit at the top end was a kids delight, as were the paddling pools,and the free film shows in a mobile cinema during the summer holidays.
No dog poop then either. always well maintained and locked up at night, the park keeper ringing a bell 15 mins before closing time.
Wells Park started out as a Spa so I was told, I was also told by a local historian who live in Longton rove back then, that under the font of the church in Taylors lane was one of these spa springs.
A lot of springs along Wells park road, hence Springfield road,
Towards Kirkdale, there is a small gut of a road [Hensford gdns?] leading to allotments, if they are still there I could guide you to a well which was full of crysrtal clear water.
Apologies for rambling these photos have unlocked so many memories. If not too boring may post others as they flood back in, I lived in Adamsrill road, more bomb damage, till I was 4 then moved to Panmure and when married lived in Penge till 1988, What was done to Penge in the 1970`s by Bromley council is another crime.
good night time for my bed!