Monday, 5 March 2007

To Brockley View (& Back?)

February 2nd 2002

This one was one of the most interesting walks yet - partly because the views were great, but more importantly it brought me to an area I had never been before. That was the whole point of the challenge.

It all started as usual, this time walking past the excellent The Honor Oak to Brockley Park Road. Another hill, but what do you expect around Forest Hill? Half way up the hill I am greeted by a strange pre-fab construction.


It turns out that there are quite a few pre-fab buildings in this general area and I must find out why and how. I suspect it is a tie-up between Lewisham council and some sustainable building charity (too "way out" for the council alone, and on too small a scale for a commercial development). It is fun to see, although particularly incongruous with the Victorian villas, Edwardian terraces and 90's commercial developments around us.

Beyond the crest of the hill, with great views back towards Sydenham and Crystal Palace, there are more substantial "eco-friendly" looking developments. I only say that because of the wood cladding and small, well glazed windows, but these seem like another interesting experiment rather than a major development. More to research.

At this point I was in new territory as I had not ventured here before. As you head down the hill and around the corner, you are faced with another steep climb up Brockley View. They did not include "View" in the name for nothing.

Canary Wharf from Brockley View

Once again there are lots of impressive houses, many built in the late Victorian period. One particular one stands separate from the others, in a different style and quite impressive, although not necessarily with the best views. I suspect this belonged to someone involved with selling the land or organising the construction (picking the best for themselves), however, I cannot prove that. In fact, on closer inspection it appears to always have been built as a semi-detached so this may be totally wrong.

As you follow Brockley View you come to the edge of Blythe Hill fields. I must admit I have not yet set foot in them, but I have it on good authority that the view gets even better from there. Unfortunately my path leads me onwards, so I can only admire the view of One Tree Hill, Canary Wharf, and quite a lot of London spread before me.

At the bottom of the road I turned left on to Codrington Hill heading back towards Brockley Rise. At this stage the main road changes name to "Stondon Park Road" (as a driver I hadn't realised this) just where the Babur Brasserie, Chandos pub and odd roundabout system are. I quickly turned left again onto the continuation of Brockley Rise itself which leads to a more residential street.

Here I found the highly rated Stillness Infant School (one I need to look at more closely) and further along the road another surprise - Guys Hospital Athletic Ground.

Never having been an "athlete" myself, these places always seem strange, but I then discovered it already showed up on my map of the area from the 1890's, so it has been in use for over 100 years. Apparently there is a useful connection as their rugby teams have been known to encourage others to use the services of the main employer!

The way back was another journey in itself, so I will write that up separately anon, but this route certainly made me think differently about Forest Hill.


Anonymous said...

The one particular house on Brockley View is my house (or the building my flat is in!
It was built as servants quarters in about 1820 for the manor house that used to stand where Blyth Fields now are (I think the manor was where the play park bit is now). The manor house burnt down but the servant's building remained. The house is divided into three flats on three floors which housed the grounds keeper, head butler and head maid. Well this was what I was told when we moved in.

Since then I've seen old maps of the area showing my building but no sign of the manor house so not sure if my info is correct. One thing is for sure and that is that in a map of about 1850 it seems to be the only building in the area and the garden extends over quite a distance and which has been sold off bit by bit over the years.

That's what I know about the building - if anybody has more information I'd be interested to know!

Robert McIntosh said...

great to hear from you then!

the story sounds wrong as I'm not aware of there having been a large house like this on Blythe Hill, but it is certainly not impossible. I also would have thought that Head Butlers etc. would live in the main building, not in a separate house.

I know a man who could help. I shall report back!