Saturday, 13 December 2014

Railway London Bridge to Gravesend. Maze Hill


The Greenwich Railway Extension continues to travel westwards

Post to the west Greenwich
Post to the south Blackheath Village
Post to the north East Greenwich


Blackheath
Andrew Gibb Memorial Shelter. Built in 1931 and restored 2000s.     The Drinking fountain is in an octagonal shelter with eight pillars, a roof and no walls. The fountain is a circular basin on a pedestal. There is a weathervane on top of the shelter. There is a clock with four faces which was a bequest by Andrew Gibb who was a locally based ship-repairer and local philanthropist from Glasgow and a Mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich.
Vanbrugh Pits. These are old gravel workings and have been left showing what much of Blackheath originally looked like, and would return to without constant mowing and maintenance. Pebbles from the Blackheath beds can be seen here.

Combe Avenue,
Estates by Geoffrey Powell of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, 1961-5 and taken over by Greenwich Borough Council before completion.
Creed Place 
This is the northern section of the road, at the foot of Maze Hill after Sir James Creed whose home was by the park wall.
Dinsdale Road
The junction with Vanbrugh Hill marks a pre-development cluster of cottages
1 Rose Cottage. This house was here by 1801 and may have been a lodge for the Westcombe Estate.  Its western end was demolished in 1935 following a series of traffic accidents.
3 Shamrock Cottage. Was originally part of Rose Cottage`

Foyle Road
Follows the line of the boundary of the farmyard and kitchen garden of Westcombe House.
Greenwich Park
The park was enclosed in 1433 from 200 acres of heath & furze and remains Crown land.
Roman Road. Watling Street is a major Roman route running from Dover, eventually to northern England.  Its route from Dover to Greenwich Park seems to be clear, as is another route down Blackheath Hill. Its route through and from Greenwich Park seems to be the subject of considerable speculation in the past. A line of what is possibly a medieval road extends across a scarp and runs east to west. This could be the road enclosed in 1433 and it is the possible route of a Roman Road between London and Rochester. It has also been suggested that a Roman Road went down Old Dover Road across the Park to meet the Ravensbourne mouth and the old fishing village in Greenwich.  It is also thought that the Later Danes used the area for an encampment at Greenwich when raiding Kent and the South of England in the first decade of the 11th.
Roman Remains. From 1902 a mound in the park has been the subject of investigation and discussion about Roman artefacts found there.  The site was initially described as a ‘villa’ but it is now thought, following detailed excavation, that this was a temple or similar structure with associated buildings. It appears to originate around 100 AD, to be rectangular with a forecourt, and later to have been replaced by more substantial square building. The site of the building is marked by a flat-topped mound. It was probably in continuous use from 100-400.
Park Walls.  In 1619 James I had the park walled in at a cost of over £2,000 for the two mile boundary. A substantial part of the original wall stands today. However, and inevitably, it is full of patching and reworking and the actual 17th parts are not easy to identify.  There is also some Second World War bomb damage. Railings around the park are all modern replicas
Wilderness. Until 1906 deer roamed free but in 1928 a man was killed in the park by a stag and since then they have been kept in The Wilderness enclosure in the south east corner of the park.  Greenwich is the oldest of London's deer parks and has been home to Red and Fallow Deer since it was enclosed. The Wilderness is also a sanctuary for other wildlife - especially beetles such as the stag beetle. The ancient trees and dead wood habitat are also important for fungi. There is also a pond which is in a hollow which was a gravel pit between 1840 and 1870. The hollow can be still be seen.
Chestnut trees. There are 52 ancient sweet chestnuts which are relics of the formal avenues planted for Charles II in the 1660s. Their decaying hearts provide habitats for specialised invertebrates and fungi. They may look old but have many more years of life. There are also eight ancient oaks, a sycamore and a cedar n the veteran tree stock. There are however nearly 4000 trees in the park – but most are between 50 and 100 years old.
Pavilion Café. This is an octagonal building built in 1906. It has a dove-cot with a weather vane of Nelson looking through his telescope.
Bandstand. This was erected in 1891 and is in Bandstand Field. Its metal was cast by the Coalbrookdale Company. Near the bandstand are remains of tennis courts, and also some medieval ridge and furrow.
Gravel Pit. A small gravel pit is cut into the escarpment near the Roman temple. There may be another nearby. A large gravel pit stands east of Queen Elizabeth's Oak.
Secret Garden Wildlife Centre. In 2002 this was created from a derelict bulb store with the support of the Friends of Greenwich Park. It has educational equipment and information, a classroom, kitchenette and toilets. The classroom is also a hide with one-way glass in the windows.
The Flower Garden. This is in a gated area with no dogs allowed. It is one of the horticultural show pieces of Greenwich Park. Magnificent Cedar trees and Tulip trees set in fine lawns with seasonal beds of spring and summer flowers and it has the nature of an Edwardian park Garden.
Vanbrugh Gate and Lodge. This lodge is used by staff as a rest room
Queen Elizabeth's oak. According to legend, King Henry VIII once danced around this oak tree with Anne Boleyn, and Queen Elizabeth I was said to have often taken refreshment in its shade. By the time of the Tudors, the ancient oak tree was already around 400 years old. The tree died sometime in the 19th but it was held upright by the ivy that had grown around. Eventually in 1991 a heavy rain storm brought it down. It is still there but now horizontal angle and covered in bugs and fungus, it is also, apparently, a sweet chestnut. Alongside it is a new oak, planted in its memory by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1992, along with a plaque.
Keeper’s Cottage. This was near Queen Elizabeth’s Oak and was at least 17th. It was demolished in 1853.
One Tree Hill.  This has been the point from which many paintings and drawings of the park have been taken.  It has had many trees on it in the past, and has had more since the ‘one tree’ name was given to it. A large quarry cut into the east side of One Tree Hill in Greenwich Park. It measured 60 metres north-west, and 40 metres southeast, and is identified as a gravel pit on a map of 1695. Nearby is a long concrete channel which was a trough where the deer could get water.
Conduit Head at the foot of steps to One Tree Hill.  It is mentioned in Travers 17th survey of Greenwich and is thus likely to have had a predecessor.  The current structure is thought to be 1708 and it is thought possible it was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.  It is unaltered except that the central arch was blocked when the conduit system went t o use. It formed the entrance to a conduit running north to south under One Tree Hill.
Christie Enclosure. In William Christie, the then astronomer royal, wanted to relocate part of the magnetic observatory away from the main observatory to a site east of Blackheath Avenue. The new site was required to be magnetically neutral, and was originally known as the Magnetic Enclosure. It was completed in 1898. In March 1914, a second building was completed to house a set of modern magnetic instruments consisting of a thickly-walled outer room containing an inner room, well insulated by a considerable air-space. It was known as the Magnetograph Building. The Magnetic Pavilion was demolished in 1932 and the Magnetograph Building became known as the Meteorological Recording Building. It was demolished in 1959 when the Enclosure was cleared of buildings and returned to the Park.
Children’s playground. This has swings, slides and so on, plus a sand pit and toilets for the children. There are also some wooden sheep carved for the Olympics. .
Rustic Drinking Fountain on Lovers Walk. It is said that in 1860 this was connected to underground conduits. It is a slightly odd construction and has been described, by those into that sort of thing, as the Motherstone Fountain.
Drinking fountain. A 19th drinking fountain which was near the bandstand has been removed recently for repairs.  There is another smaller ‘trumpet’ fountain installed for the Olympics.
Old Nursery and Storeyard. This is in the south-east corner and has a number of utilitarian buildings like workshops and glasshouses.
Blackheath Avenue. Designed as part of the 1662 plan. The iron seats are replicas of late 19th ones

Humber Road
Westcombe House seems to have been built in the early 18th on the south side of the road about halfway along. It eventually became the home of Lavinia Fenton, who eventually was legitimised as the Duchess of Bolton. By the mid-19th it was the home of shipping magnate and shipbuilder Thomas Brocklebank. It was demolished after his death in 1843.
Lemmon Road
Built on the site of the former goods yard for Maze Hill Station.
Maze Hill,
This road is on the line of an ancient track way and its site shows how Greenwich Park was fitted into the existing framework of Greenwich Roads.  A Street here is marked as ‘Moys Hill’ on Rocque's 1745 map and as ‘Maze’ or ‘Maize ‘Hill’ on Bacon's map of 1888. It may be named for Sir Algernon May who lived nearby until 1693 or after Robert May who lived there in 1683. 
Greenwich War Memorial. This was installed in the early 1920s and is built of Portland stone. The central panel bears the arms of the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich and is inscribed "Borough of Greenwich in glorious and grateful memory of the men of this borough who gave their lives in the Great War. The number exceeds 1600 and their names are recorded in a roll of honour deposited in this memorial." The plinth is inscribed "Also in grateful remembrance of those residents of the Borough who gave their lives to the country during the War 1939-1945".
John Roan School. The school was founded by John Roan in whose Will of 1643, was a bequest for the founding of a school for 'poor town-bred children of Greenwich'. The school moved to various sites and eventually to Maze Hill in 1928.  The site had been part of John Vanbrugh’s 18th estate and was known as Mince Pie Field. The school is a neo-Georgian building by Percy B. Dannatt & Sir Banister Fletcher, (his most important building after the Gillette factory) with two-storeys in red brick. Above the main doorway is the Roan coat of arms and the motto, "Honore et Labore. There is also by a clock tower with a cupola and tall brick chimneys. There are also many extensions and outbuildings. The Entrance hall has a war memorial to old boys who lost their lives in the First World War and other plaques from former schools. The central hall has a stage. Herringbone woodblock floor green-glazed tiles behind the radiators and inscriptions on the wood panelling. The Former headmaster's office retains the school's original time-clock. Outside is a grand pair of entrance gates painted and gilded surmounted by the Roan coat of arms. In 2014 it has newly been refurbished and updated.
The area outside of Vanburgh Castle has been called Maze Hill Green and in the 18th it featured a well, and a conduit and a pub called the Duke of Ormond’s Head.
Vanbrugh Castle. There is a plaque to Sir John Vanbrugh on the house. Vanbrugh himself lived there 1717-26 while working as Surveyor to the Royal Hospital.  He designed the castle himself, and it used to be called the 'Bastille'. In 1718 Vanbrugh acquired twelve acres here on which he built houses for his family and this is the only survivor. It is close to the park and is visible from the Royal Hospital. The house was originally smaller than it is now but was probably extended after Vanbrugh's marriage in 1719. Over the years it has had many more demolitions and extensions and the much of what remains was not actually built by Vanbrugh. From the 1920s it was an R.A.F. school for orphaned children. In 1976 the freehold was bought by the Blackheath Preservation Trust and it is now let out as four flats with a conversion by Gordon Bowyer & Partners in 1979. The gateway is a replacement for the original which was removed for road widening in 1906. 
Air raid shelter in the garden of Vanbrugh Castle leads to tunnels which connect to the Cedars next door. In 1985 investigations led to door down a flight of steps in the back garden of the Castle leading to a substantial undercroft. Another flight of stairs went to the surface but was covered by a concrete slab, at the end bricks had been removed to reveal a chamber in the sand.   A grating in front of the Castle led to a large underground cistern, and to small bricked up arches. It was concluded that this was part of a very ancient drainage system.
119 site of Mayfield Lode. The Kentish Mercury started there, printed in outbuildings behind the George Inn. From 1861 it was a home for the Rescue Society for Females - marked as ‘female reformatory’ on maps.  It was demolished din 1906.
117 This house is on the site of a pub called the George built around 1750. It gave a lot of trouble – hooligans and overflowing cess pool – closed and demolished 1906.
Maze Hill House. Site of 58-109. The house dated from the early 18th. From the 1850s it was home to some of the Soames family, Greenwich soap manufacturers. Demolished in the early 1930s
58-109 This cul-de-sac would have been a striking modern development when first built soon after 1932. It was built by J.T.Wallace for Walford Houses.
115 there is said to be the entrance to a sand mine in the garden, and that cart wheel tracks in the front show that vehicles could be used to get in.
79 there is said to be the entrance to Maze Hill conduit hidden in the back of the garden.
32-40 Row of five houses which were originally built as the Infirmary for the Royal Naval Asylum when it was based in the Queen's House. They were designed by Daniel Asher Alexander, and built 1808-9 and 1810-12, with housing for the assistant surgeon at one end. The site had previously been the burial ground of Greenwich Hospital closed in 1749. After the Royal Naval Asylum merged with Greenwich Hospital School in 1821 the building was divided into housing for Hospital staff and later leased out for conversion into private houses
40 enlarged in 1864 probably by Philip Charles Hardwick. In the garden is the officers' mausoleum for the Royal Hospital, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, built in 1713-4. It was re-roofed and the arched openings were filled up in approximately 1820. It ceased to be used for internments and sealed in 1749
41 This was built in 1916 by the local authority as Greenwich Tuberculosis Dispendary and later became known as Greenwich Chest Clinic. It is now a private house.
14 East Greenwich Telephone Exchange. This backs onto the site of what was the Royal Mail sorting office in Greenwich Park Street.
Tom Smith Close
Maze Hill Station. This station was  opened in 1873 by the South Eastern Railway and for its first five years was the terminus on a line which went to the junction with the North Kent Line west of Charlton. In 1878 a cut-and-cover tunnel link between Greenwich and Maze Hill was opened and thus finally completed a through line from the London and Greenwich Railway to the North Kent Line.  The station had three platforms – with an island platform to the north, and a goods yard on either side of the line.  In 1926 the line here was electrified using the 750V DC third rail system. 1873.  In 1945 a V2 fell nearby injuring 19 people and damaging the booking hall and waiting room. On 1958 there was a collision between two trains at Maze Hill when a passenger train from Gravesend Central ran past the Up Home signal at danger and collided head-on with an empty steam passenger stock train which was being shunted from the Up Sidings towards the Down line. The collision took place at a speed 25 mph. Forty-three people were injured although none seriously. During the 1990s a pedestrian tunnel under the line was closed.  In 2002 the station was the scene of a fight between Charlton Athletic and Southampton football hooligans that became known as The Battle of Maze Hill. There has been an ongoing discussion on opening an entrance on the up side from Seren Park, flats built on the site of the previous nurses’ home. 
Restell Close
Three tower blocks were built here in the 1960s to supplement accommodation for hospital staff. They have been adapted and replaced by a development called Seren Park built in the early 2000s.

Tuskar Street
Hatcliffe Almshouses.  These are managed and funded by The Greenwich Charities of William Hatcliffe and the Misses Smith. This is a charity established around 1690 runs this Almshouse and also distributes grants to individuals and other organisations to help elderly people in the Greenwich area to remain in their own homes. Its income is derived The Hatcliffe Estate Charity which owns a portfolio of residential and commercial premises in East Greenwich.
Salvation Army. This hall is now private housing

Vanbrugh Fields
Vanbrugh Fields today constitutes a road running south from Vanbrugh Hill to join Maze Hill at Blackheath.   It appears that in 1718 John Vanbrugh leased and built on a plot of land to which this was the eastern border, with Maze Hill to the west – roughly the site of John Roan School and Highmore Road. Vanbrugh Castle, his own home, was on the north western corner of the site and on the rest of it he built four houses – all extraordinary and eccentric.  Had they been built a hundred years later we would describe them as ‘Gothic’.  He enclosed the area with a brick wall and built a gatehouse to the estate at the south end. 
Vanbrugh House – in what is now Westcombe Park Road
13-16 these are on the site of Vanbrugh’s White Tower, north – this was in white brick. It was demolished by 1908.
11-14 these are on the site of Vanbrugh’s Nunnery – also known as the Mince Pie House. It was single storey, white and rambling.  It was demolished in 1911.
8-10 these are on the site of Vanbrugh’s White Tower, south. This was also built in white brick.  It was later known as Vanbrugh Lodge or Vanbrugh Court. It was still occupied in 1908 but it is not there now
Gateway.  This consisted of two towers with a high rounded arch between them. Beside each gateway is a cottage, which may be older.  It was demolished around 1911.

Vanbrugh Hill
This was once called Love Lane or Conduit Lane. In 1932 a five foot high conduit was discovered on the west side, hence the name.
Maze Hill Woodlands. This was a sand and gravel pit known as Ballast Field and as Gravel Pit Field. In the 17th this was owned by Sir John Morden and probably supplying gravel as ballast for ships.
Maze Hill Woodlands. It is now sycamore woodland with holly, hawthorn, and exotic species on a very steep and dangerous slope; managed by the Blackheath Preservation Society and a local group as a small nature reserve. Access is very limited.
Woodlands. This house was built on part of the site of what later became the nurses' homes adjacent to the ballast pits. Demolished in 1927.
31 19th cottage which was the lodge for Woodlands House. It is now the entrance to Lasseter Close.
Nurses Home. This was built in 1927 by Pite Son and Fairweather for the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich as housing for staff at what was then the Borough owned St. Alfege’s Hospital.  It was sold by NHS and is now private housing.
6 plaque to Sir Frank Dyson. Director of Greenwich Observatory from 1910 to 1933.

Vanbrugh Park
Drill Hall. This dated from the late 1850s early 1860s and was designed by Alfred Gilbert. Over the door was the Kentish Invicta. It was built for the 25th (Blackheath) Corps but was used by others. Inside was very grand with lots of ironwork painted red, blue and gold. When Hollyhedge House was built in the 1880s it fell out of use and became a scene painter’s work shop.  In the Second World War it was used as an ambulance station and it was burnt out in 1951. Parkside flats are now on the site.

Westcombe Park Road,
3 The Cedars.  This was built in 1867 on the site of the Red House. The Red House stood next to and east of Vanbrugh Castle and dated from around 1718. Eventually its name was changed to The Cedars and it became home to some of the soap making Soames. In 1846 a group of robbers were found in passages under the house. It was demolished after 1853 and the current house built.
John Roan School.  This was built as an annexe to the main school in 1981 by the Greater London Council by architects A. Webb and G. Denison. It has now been demolished and a new building erected in late 2014.
36-40 these are roughly on the site of Vanbrugh House. Vanbrugh House. This stood at what is now the northern end of Vanbrugh Fields near the eastern corner with Westcombe Park Road. It was built for Vanbrugh's younger brother. It became used as a school in the 1850s and was called Ivy House. It appears to have had two big round towers on both sides of a square central section. It was demolished before 1903.
Westcombe Manor House. This was on the north side of what is now Westcombe Park Road between Foyle Road and Vanbrugh Hill.   The old house was then demolished and a new one built to the north in the 1720s.
Westcombe Park.  In the early 18th a developer began to set up a small park running south from this house roughly between what are now Vanbrugh Hill, Beaconsfield Road, and the railway. The park continued to be used as a local amenity with specimen trees until developed in the late 19th.

Woodland Crescent
Maze Hill School. This was built as a specialist school for children with severe handicaps. It has been built in 1971 by the Inner London Education Authority, and was said to be architecturally distinguished.  It was closed in 2001 replaced by housing.  There was a previous school on the site which had opened as a British School.

Woodlands Park Road
Maze Hill Pottery. This is in what was the ticket office for Maze Hill Station. Which went out of use in the 1970's. It was taken over by Lisa Hammond in 1994. At the back was built the first soda glaze trolley kiln in the UK. T s only a few miles from the site of the first known salt glaze kiln at Woolwich, and Erith, where Royal Doulton produced salt glaze ware until 1956. Two bricks from that site are in the top of the Maze Hill kiln's chimney as a memento.

Sources
Aslet. Greenwich
Blue Plaque Guide
Business Cavalcade of London
Chelsea Speleological Society. Newsletter
Clunn. The face of London
Egan. Kidbrooke
Friends of Greenwich Park. Web site
Glencross. The buildings of Greenwich
Greenwich Antiquarians Transactions.
Greenwich Park. Web site
LeGear.  Kent Underground,
London Borough of Greenwich. Web site
London Encyclopaedia
Nature Conservation in Greenwich
Pastscape. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. South London
Platts. History of Greenwich
Rhind. Blackheath Village and its Environs.
Rhind. The Heath
Royal Observatory. Web site
Royal Parks. Web site
South East London Industrial Archaeology
Spurgeon. Discover Eltham,
Spurgeon. Discover Greenwich and Charlton
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The Greenwich Phantom. Web site
Thorn. South London Old and New

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