The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

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

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

The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Falkor » 11 Dec 2006 18:35

Before Sydenham Common was enclosed in 1810, the only buildings on this land (includes most of Upper Sydenham and Forest Hill) were some cottages around the site of Sydenham Wells, which were discovered in the 1640s and in use until the 1830s. The springs were "at the foot of a hall, about twelve in number" (see [this] topic...)

The number of wells at any given time is insignificant really, as Steve Grindlay mentioned to me wells could be dug/filled at will, and that many houses in those days had wells in their gardens.

"At the height of the spa's popularity there may have been as many as a dozen wells clustered near the junction of the present Taylor's Lane and Wells Park Road. Small enclosures were permitted around each, with a cottage to house the proprietor and shelter the water drinkers."

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John Rocque's Survey 1741-1745.

One can make out Kirkdale, Westwood Hill and Sydenham Hill, but Wells Park Road probably didn't even exist when this survey was taken during a time when the mineral spring site was in it's heyday. The number of wells is not so important, but how many cottages were there? Depending on the accuracy of the survey, there appears to be 7 cottages standing in a circle during this period. Buildings around Peak Hill (oldest in upper sydenham; see [this] topic...), south of Westwood Hill and Sydenham Road are shown. Based on the previous quote above and this survey, is it safe to assume there were more cottages when the wells were more popular?

"By the nineteenth century the fame of the wells had declined. In 1878 Mayow Wynell Adams remembered the remaining well as being 'but a dirty pool and water very nasty' and commented that the wells had been filled in."

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First Ordinance Survey Map (1799).

The Croydon Canal and Sydenham Reservoir had not yet been dug out. Only 4 cottages remain and can be made out on the map (two either side of Wells Park Road including one set back a bit towards Sydenham Hill). Note: The junction with Kirkdale was different in those days; instead of curling around to the north, it passed eastwards straight across Jews Walk and joined up with Peak Hill.

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Enclosure Award Map (1812)

The same 4 cottages can be seen in this map (circled in red). Taylors Lane has now been laid out all the way south to Westwood Hill from Wells Park Road, in-between two of the cottages on that side of the road. There is also a lane/path leading to the cottage off the beaten track.

The 4 cottages were as follows:
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Two cottages on the south side of Wells Park Road with gardens and a thinner Taylors Lane than the road today, running in-between. When this illustration was drawn, some more buildings had started to appear on the right.

From right to left:
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1) Wells Cottage (double roof).

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2) "The Wells" (evidently rebuilt).

North side of Wells Park Road:
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3) The Green Dragon (rebuilt in the 1800s then destroyed by a V1 in 1944).

King George III stayed at the Green Dragon and drank from a well in the garden. In the first illustration, could that be a bridge over a well before it was filled in? One well was supposed to be beneath the front of St. Philip's Church before it was built in the 1860s. People describe staying at the Wells Cottage and Green Dragon to drink from the wells, hoping to be cured of illnesses, but there is no mention of the 2 streams that ran through the fields that were later to become Wells Park (the streams joined into one down the middle of Taylor's Lane; see [this] topic). I assume these streams were entirely separate from the dozen or so wells?

"Nowadays, to remind householders of their ancient history, water pouring out from the springs still gives problems, flooding cellars and basements."
But this is due to the streams, not the wells?

"A physician, John Peter, had commented in his Treatise on Lewisham Waters in 1681 that at 'the very place where now the wells are, there used to be only the gushings of water, where multitudes of pegeons used to frquent; enough to give intelligence to any observing naturalist love to be tippling'."
Is this a reference to the stream(s)?

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4) Rose Retreat (old cottage pictured with a newer building beside it).

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1843 Tithe Map

By the 1840s, Springfield Rise and Mill Lane had been laid out (see [this] and [this] topic respectively). New buildings had started appearing beside Wells Cottage, branching around the corner onto Wells Park Road. One of these buildings opened as the Gardener's Arms pub, which closed in about 1912. I've not seen a full on picture of this pub or parade, but Steve Grindlay said he might have seen one.

The surviving Taylors Lane cottage had been built (see [this] topic). Two unknown buildings appeared on the plot to the right. Not sure what was happening at the top and bottom of Wells Park Road (not enough coverage on the map), but 90% of other new buildings that appeared along Wells Park Road can be seen in the painting of Jews Walk (see [this] topic). Building (9) has a distinctive chimney beside it.

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Red (05) = Blue (05)
Red (06) = Blue (07)
Red (07) = Blue (08 )
Red (08 )= Blue (10)
Red (09) = Blue (11)
Red (10) = Blue (12)

Group (6) on the 1843 Tithe Map had not been built when this picture was painted in the 1830s, but the 3rd building on the right of the group (opposite Mill Lane) was to become the Cottage of Content pub (see [this] topic) in 1850.

Going by a later map, Group (9) and (10) on the Tithe Map appear to be Prospect Place (see [this] topic), part of which can be seen in the painting, but some of these buildings were possibly altered before the next map was published...

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1849 drainage map

The first half of Halifax Street has now been laid out with some cottages each side (must be the oldest surviving ones up the road), along with two or three more newly built cottages on the north side of Wells Park Road nearby. A nice space has been reserved on the west corner of Halifax street for a chapel built the following year after this map was published. More buildings have started to appear east of group (6) and the pub.

Halifax street (see [this] topic) was originally planned to meet Kirkdale at the first bend towards the Denham Court site (see [this] topic), but was changed to come out in-between the Post Office and Woodman (see [this] topic). Thanks to Steve for this info.

Rose Retreat now consists of 3 buildings (might all appear on the Tithe map as well).

The building with the chimney has been replaced with the Beehive pub.

Some buildings have appeared at the junction with Kirkdale. One of these must be the surviving Farnboro house, dating from around 1840, so it may be on the earlier Tithe map as well--same with the Fox & Hounds pub.
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Farnboro house.

This is where it gets difficult, so I'll continue this evolution of Wells Park Road another time... Any additions/corrections so far please let me know!

EDIT: Spelling/Grammar
Last edited by Falkor on 12 Dec 2006 01:35, edited 5 times in total.

Greg Whitehead
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Post by Greg Whitehead » 11 Dec 2006 23:00

Oh my Falkor!

You've really surpassed yourself this time. I must confess when I look at the (previously) unseen picture posted by Steve regarding the Windmill I go all misty eyed. Whe you see it your analytical brain kicks in..."right this must be this numbered cottage and this was here as supported by XYZ map of 1800 etc.

Admin & Steve, there must be some place for Falkor on some society or here on the forum? He has access to some wonderful pictures and really seems to be passionate (as with you all) about Sydenham. Maybe If Samuel, and myself to a degree, appreciate Wells Park a bit more we might be so quick to judge it?

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

Post by Falkor » 12 Dec 2006 00:58

Oh my Falkor!

You've really surpassed yourself this time.
Cheers for all the kind words mate! :wink: I hope you've learnt something...
I must confess when I look at the (previously) unseen picture posted by Steve regarding the Windmill I go all misty eyed.
It's because you couldn't envisage the windmill in context with the history of Wells Park Road and the rest of Upper Sydenham. The only reason I appreciated it so much was because I had studied everything around the windmill, as I was brought up living in another Wells Park Road off-shoot nearby, so my interest and motivation is instinctive. The more familiar you are with an area, the more you appreciate finding out new things. In this case, it was seeing the actual windmill itself that I had only read about, so thanks again to Steve for that one.

The best way to learn something is always to start with the basic building blocks. This topic aims to do that and put everything into context.
Whe you see it your analytical brain kicks in..."right this must be this numbered cottage and this was here as supported by XYZ map of 1800 etc.
Yeah, probably why I was so good at Maths and Computer Programming, but crap at English. I need to go back and edit some of my spelling/grammar; it's a bloody disgrace. You probably can't even understand what I'm saying anyway! :)
Admin & Steve, there must be some place for Falkor on some society or here on the forum?
Thanks, but I've already been made a moderator (I'm the new historyman!), so I really can't complain. I would never be good being a historian or part of a society or anything, as I don't like all aspects of local history like Steve does! For example, Steve keeps files on Places and People, whereas I'm only interested in Places. Social history has never interested me. I'm not into the politics or the campaigning side either (leave that to Pat). I'm not even concerned about the future of Sydenham! It can all go back to common land for all I care... No, actually, Halifax Street musn't get wiped off the map because that's where I would most like to live when I move back to Sydenham in the near future. :wink: Yeah, if Halifax street was in danger, I think I would have to join the society then! I would be signing all the petitions under dodgy names and everything mate...
He has access to some wonderful pictures and really seems to be passionate (as with you all) about Sydenham.
Most of my pictures come from books or the LMA, but Steve collects the original postcards, so my pictures are nothing compared to Steve's hi-res scans. I don't collect postcards in general, however, if I saw one of Fir Street on Ebay or a different view of the generating station then I doubt even Steve would be able to outbid me on that! But then if a will or lease appeared for a Fir Street house/resident, Steve would probably end up getting it cheap, as he's probably the only one who would be interested. I actually held an original giant minutes book for the generating station, but it just didn't interest me at all. I was only interested in those specific photos. I will always be passionate about Sydenham (mainly Upper) because of my up bringing there, although I still don't understand what it is about the local history that fascinates me so much. I would have to visit a good psychologist/councelor to find out, unless somebody else can tell me?

Steve Grindlay
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Post by Steve Grindlay » 15 Dec 2006 22:08

It's fascinating, seeing those pictures of the area around the wells grouped together, but as I compared them I became a little uneasy. In order to make sense of any picture, one must know something of its history and purpose. In the case of these pictures, some of them are copies, or loose interpretations, of earlier illustrations. For example, the middle drawing in the series of the Green Dragon is dated 1973 (it is by George Pullen, Doris' husband). I'm pretty sure it is a copy of the lower of these three pictures. I'm also sure that the first of this group is also a copy of the third. It was produced in about 1878 for a book called "Old and New London". The feature that appears as a bridge in this print is, I believe, a mis-interpretation of what appears to be a fence with a bench in front of it (for those taking the waters so sit on?) in the 1770 original.

This problem, when a copyist mis-interprets something, is not uncommon. Several of the drawings by George Pullen are copies of a series of earlier drawings by Llywd Roberts. Roberts' drawings were published in the Kentish Mercury during the 1930s. They are detailed and, as far as I am aware, fairly accurate (the drawing of Rose Retreat is one of his). But Roberts may have been drawing from life, a sketch, memory or a photograph and George Pullen would then have applied his own interpretation to Roberts' drawing.

The picture of the three cottages around the junction of Taylors Lane has anomolies that I can't explain. It shows a sign at the extreme right with "L Tripp/Removals & Cartage" on it. During the 1920s and 1930s Lowing Tripp was a removal contractor at 121 Wells (Park) Road, which was out of view beyond the left of the picture, on the site of the Vi Sharpe games area, almost next to the hall. Also, the present width of Taylors Lane had been established at the time of the enclosure map of 1819. Certainly by the time Lowing Tripp had his business there Taylors Lane was as wide as it is today.

The point is, pictures, like any historic documents, must be interpreted. They can enlighten us, but they can also mislead.

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

Post by Falkor » 19 Dec 2006 22:02

Steve, that article you sent me on the Wells is packed up with solid detailed info! I can now pin-point roughly where 4 of the wells were dug and when wells park road was laid. When I get time to finish my "evolution", I'll add an aerial photo highlighting the wells... That article is superb; thanks mate!! :)

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

Post by Falkor » 13 Feb 2007 23:33

Bingo! :D

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Brannan
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Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 18 Apr 2013 18:32

Here is an old postcard of Wells Park - late 30s.

The people in the picture, far left, happen to be my mother Muriel Tripp as a girl, with her grandfather Lowing Tripp, mentioned earlier in this thread.

Brannan
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Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 19 Apr 2013 08:02

In response to that earlier message about the picture showing "The Wells" and "Wells Cottage", I am grateful for the posting of the original 1930(?) newspaper picture, which is more accurate than the 1970s copy. It clearly shows a wider Taylor's Lane. My mother had always said that the Pullen picture was inaccurate. She told me, however, that her grandfather Lowing Tripp did live in "The Wells", so Stephen's comment about his living further to the left is puzzling. The location of the sign would seem to be correct, although my mother couldn't remember seeing one (but she was born in 1926, so it might have disappeared subsequently). The cottages on the right were all inhabited by relatives of mine too (between the wars, I mean) - both Wells Cottage and the cottage of which you can see part on the far right, this being 2 Taylor's Lane of which I have posted a picture on another thread. My great great parents, William and Charlotte Hemmings, moved there in about 1910, and their son was still there in WW2.

Brannan
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Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 20 Apr 2013 16:15

Just a few corrections to my last message - according to my mother, Lowing Tripp was living on the left-hand side of the cottage called "The Wells" and a Mrs Morgan lived on the right (presumably in the 30s). The sign may therefore be at the end of the wrong garden. On the 1911 census Lowing was at no. 58 Wells Road - I'm not sure whether that was the same house. My Hemmings gt gt grandparents were William and Sarah (Charlotte was the daughter, Lowing's wife). They moved from Forest Hill to no. 7A Taylor's Lane (further down, but left or right I don't know) but were at no. 2 by WW1 and the family stayed there until about 1950 I believe (Lily Hemmings, Joe Hemmings), with Martha Smith (née Hemmings) to the left and her daughter Mabel Wallis (née Smith) occuping part of "Wells Cottage" further left (with a Mrs Cliff in the other part).

Brannan
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Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 26 Apr 2013 13:12

I think this picture probably shows the house on the corner of Taylor's Lane called "The Wells" - it's a bit different to the one posted further up this thread showing something to the left. The milkcart in this picture is that of my grandfather A.H. Tripp (or possibly his father L. Tripp) - the initial isn't quite visible.

Brannan
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Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 29 Apr 2013 23:01

My mother had kept this old cutting from the Borough News of 1910 with information on the history of Sydenham wells. This will be posted in 2 parts and sorry for the poor quality - the paper is very brown.

Brannan
Posts: 39
Joined: 18 Apr 2013 16:12

Re: The Evolution of Wells (Park) Road

Post by Brannan » 29 Apr 2013 23:06

lower part of article

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