Sydenham/Dulwich Wells

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

Moderator: frenzarin

Steve Grindlay
Posts: 606
Joined: 4 Oct 2004 05:07
Location: Upper Sydenham

Post by Steve Grindlay » 22 Sep 2006 16:38

Pat and I have has an amicable discussion, and I think we are now more or less in agreement.

My views are based on a couple of maps. So that others can judge I've put them on flikr at:
http://tinyurl.com/pdtz2

These are the notes that I sent to Pat explaining the maps:
The Metropolitan Commission of Sewers map was produced in 1849 when they were planning a sewerage system for Sydenham. The plans were later modified (the “proposed reservoir” was built on the other side of Sydenham Hill, for example), but it clearly shows two streams flowing down the hill, and merging just beyond Taylors Lane. The stream flowing from the site of the proposed reservoir is the one that I was referring to. By comparing it with the 1916 map it is on the same alignment as the stream and lake in today’s park. The “Stone” by the “g” of Longton Grove (a Bridge House Estates stone, by the way) is on the top right corner of the proposed reservoir and the piece of woodland is where the recently demolished houses were built.

The following quote, from the leaflet produced for the opening ceremony, makes it clear that “existing watercourses” (note the plural) were incorporated into the landscaping:

“The land as acquired was very undulating in form, being practically a basin formed by the conjunction of two separate valleys and having a general slope from west to east. Advantage has been taken of the
natural undulations and the existing watercourses [note the plural]”
I believe the fact that the Commission of Sewers was considering using the spring to supply their reservoir suggests that it was fairly vigorous. We cannot, of course, be certain that today the stream and lake are supplied by a spring higher up the hill, but I believe they are.

For Falkor I've also put up part of the Land Use map showing the streams on the common

Falkor
Posts: 1371
Joined: 10 Feb 2006 17:45
Location: Surrey Quays

Post by Falkor » 22 Sep 2006 21:21

Steve, thanks for going to all the trouble of putting those maps online; much appreciated! The land use map looks particularly useful for my research, and I don't believe I've ever come across it before in any books etc.
The Metropolitan Commission of Sewers map was produced in 1849 when they were planning a sewerage system for Sydenham. The plans were later modified (the “proposed reservoir” was built on the other side of Sydenham Hill, for example), but it clearly shows two streams flowing down the hill, and merging just beyond Taylors Lane.
I could be wrong, but wouldn't those streams really be a pair of proposed sewage tunnels/pipes--one fed by the proposed reservoir? Another line on that map goes from Wells Park Road directly up the center of Springfield Rise--one can clearly hear the sewers flowing underneath a drain at the lower junction with Plane Street--before changing course to go around the outside of the cottage where the garden of my first house was landscaped on after the homes up that road were all demolished in the late 50s clearances.*

Looking at the stream in the 1800 map with it's well defined "S" shape, it appears to flow into Wells Park through the middle, going downhill at roughly a 40 degree angle possibly meeting the modern stream (not south enough for the actual ponds), before beginning to slowly wind north-easterly across the sharp turning in Taylors Lane and go diagonally uphill through Peter's Path and Prospect Close almost to the edge of Wells Park Road then across Jews Walk, onwards, winding south-easterly towards Kirkdale and Peak Hill. Depending on the accuracy of that map (and my interpretation :D), the old stream seemed to miss what is now the area of the allotments.

I don't think those merging lines on the 1849 map have anything to do with the course of the original stream and existing valley in my opinion.

*A bit off-topic, but here's a photo of that old cottage BTW; one of my personal favourites, so I just had to share it. :D
Image
Last edited by Falkor on 22 Sep 2006 21:59, edited 2 times in total.

Falkor
Posts: 1371
Joined: 10 Feb 2006 17:45
Location: Surrey Quays

Post by Falkor » 22 Sep 2006 21:54

“The land as acquired was very undulating in form, being practically a basin formed by the conjunction of two separate valleys and having a general slope from west to east. Advantage has been taken of the
natural undulations and the existing watercourses [note the plural]”
This is a difficult one... Looking at an early illustration from 1898, just before the park was laid out, there appears to be a valley going through what is now the main central path with the fountain--or just slightly north--along the boundary of where the original 2 fields were split.
Judging by these photos below, the valley appears to be going through what was the pond before it was filled in to become a paddling pool followed by a play area with wood chippings (seen in the 2nd photo) or possibly more southwards across that path. I'd imagine the upper line on the sewage map would be going through the slope of the park, in line with the green fence of the first photo. By the time the park opened, the existing watercourses that are mentioned could have been sewage pipes/tunnels, but all this is really pure speculation.

Image

Image

Steve Grindlay
Posts: 606
Joined: 4 Oct 2004 05:07
Location: Upper Sydenham

Post by Steve Grindlay » 22 Sep 2006 22:52

I could be wrong, but wouldn't those streams really be a pair of proposed sewage tunnels/pipes
Why would you assume that, and what would have fed the reservoir? Unfortunately, my copy of the map was lent to someone a couple of years ago, and he failed to return it, but Sydenham & Forest Hill Past has an adequate copy on page 132. In the original version (Local Studies has a copy) the proposed works are clearly in stronger, well-defined black lines. And anyway, on the 1916 map contour lines are clearly marked, showing where the valleys were although, by that time, distorted by the workings for the railway line.
I don't think those merging lines on the 1849 map have anything to do with the course of the original stream and existing valley.
Why on earth not, and if not, what are they? Unlike most maps produced during the 19th century this map was specifically concerned with the removal of surface water and sewerage, and that meant springs and streams. Furthermore, the Sydenham Common Enclosure Map of 1819, which I presume you’ve studied, shows a feeder from the line of this stream into the reservoir at Sydenham Park. The line of this feeder is still marked by the northern boundary of the allotments.

Falkor
Posts: 1371
Joined: 10 Feb 2006 17:45
Location: Surrey Quays

Post by Falkor » 23 Sep 2006 01:19

Why would you assume that, and what would have fed the reservoir?
The map shows drainage proposals put forward by the Metropilitan Commissioners of Sewers, including lines that go through the center of all the main roads, branching off into each existing building (shown in black). The Hollow Combe area hadn't been developed at that time, although there is planned buildings along each side (shown outlined), so the merging lines could potentially indicate a central sewage system for that area. I don't know what would have fed the reservoir (a well maybe?), but being at the peak of Sydenham Heights it couldn't have been fed by streams lower down in the park. More likely, this reservoir was constructed to provide sewers with a constant water supply.
And anyway, on the 1916 map contour lines are clearly marked, showing where the valleys were although, by that time, distorted by the workings for the railway line.
I don't see any pattern with the 2 merging lines on the 1849 map and the contour lines on the 1916 map; they look more like pathways.
Unlike most maps produced during the 19th century this map was specifically concerned with the removal of surface water and sewerage, and that meant springs and streams.
I believe the map is showing plans for additions, not removal.
Furthermore, the Sydenham Common Enclosure Map of 1819, which I presume you’ve studied, shows a feeder from the line of this stream into the reservoir at Sydenham Park. The line of this feeder is still marked by the northern boundary of the allotments.
True, I spotted that feeder, which I mentioned--in so many words--on page 1. It appears to split in two from the eastern edge of the allotments--1 stream going into the reservoir--the other stream going across the middle of Jews Walk; I used the word "split", but really it seems like the feeder "curls" neatly from Jews Walk about 300 degrees into the Sydenham Park reservoir, and this feeder looks to be a man-made canal extention. The Jews Walk branch could follow the line of the natural stream, as it's only 19 years after the 1800 map, but it's hard to make any connections with the later drainage map, as the 1819 map doesn't show the 2 streams going through the fields that were to become Wells Park.

Very tough subject this, and one which isn't covered in my books, but fascinating all the same. I need more evidence!!! I wonder if Greg would like to join me for a walkabout in the sewers? :D :D :D

Falkor
Posts: 1371
Joined: 10 Feb 2006 17:45
Location: Surrey Quays

Post by Falkor » 23 Sep 2006 01:51

This c1865 map appears to be the missing link! I've found the evidence I needed!!! :shock:
Image

You can see the left-overs of the lower stream, which appears in full on the earlier 1849 sewage map. So this proves there really were 2 streams running through the site of Wells Park and merging a bit to the north of the area that was to become the first allotment--more along the line of Peter's Path--but in line with the 2nd allotment. These lines cannot be sewers, as they are featured on the 1865 OS map, and the sewers on the 1849 map are more well defined as Steve pointed out even though the pool river is indicated by a double line. Anyway, I stand corrected; everything makes perfect sense now! Apologies for being so skeptical, but that's just the way I am, otherwise I wouldn't have been so motivated to stay up late researching this. I feel like I've really learnt something new about Sydenham thanks to Pat and others who've contributed bits to this topic, but above all, Steve! Thanks again!! I'm always keen to learn new things, and there's only so much the books can tell us... :P

Steve Grindlay
Posts: 606
Joined: 4 Oct 2004 05:07
Location: Upper Sydenham

Post by Steve Grindlay » 23 Sep 2006 07:13

Scepticism is an invaluable quality, particularly in local history where so much is passed down as fact without proper investigation. You forced me to think much more carefully about something that I had previously vaguely assumed, and I think we've established something really very interesting. Thanks.

Illuminance
Posts: 84
Joined: 14 Mar 2005 16:49
Location: Tunbridge Wells

Post by Illuminance » 23 Sep 2006 09:55

For lots of old maps without the trip to the library, try this link.

http://www.motco.com/map/

Hope it helps :D

Greg Whitehead
Posts: 474
Joined: 11 Apr 2005 15:44
Location: SE26 5RL

Post by Greg Whitehead » 23 Sep 2006 10:19

Falkor wrote:

Very tough subject this, and one which isn't covered in my books, but fascinating all the same. I need more evidence!!! I wonder if Greg would like to join me for a walkabout in the sewers? :D :D :D
I don't see why not, if only to understand what exactly is being debated here. I must admit I'm utterly lost within this thread. I'm afraid I really don't know the area of Wells Park as well as I ought to.

I'd be keen to explore the area where Upper Sydenham station was amongst other places but we can discuss next week?

Julwz will be joining us.

Post Reply