Thames Tributary Ravensbourne - Upper Kidbrooke - Blackheath Village

Thames Tributary Ravensbourne
The Upper Kidbrooke flows south west through the area towards the Quaggy. The railway is built partly on the line of it.
TQ 39625 76144

This is partly Blackheath Common and partly the northern part of  Blackheath 'Village' which, whatever its pretensions, is a 19th century settlement, albeit now with some smart shops. The growth of the area owes much to its busy and well connected station.  The Common has been famous for its highwaymen and its revolutionary assemblies - but it has also been the birthplace of a number of sports, and there were once several windmills.

Post to the west Blackheath
Post to the east Kidbrooke
Post to the south Lee
Post to the north Maze Hill

Blackheath Common
The earliest known reference to Blackheath is in 1165. It is ‘Blokeheth’ in 1275, that is 'dark-coloured heath land'. Danish camps invaders are said to have camped there. It is the name of one of the Hundreds of Kent, whose meetings were held here. The Heath has been an important place of assembly including gatherings by Wat Tyler's in 1381 to the fairs first held in 1689. It also saw the Cornish rebels in 1497. Henry VIII met Anne of Cleves here. Before the 19th, the Heath was notorious for highwaymen. It is now an irregular, treeless plateau, 135 to 150 ft above the Thames. It was bought by the authorities in 1871 through the Metropolitan Commons Supplemental Act. Cleaned and tidied by the London County Council in 1946 and the smooth appearance dates from then – it was previously covered with gorse and was full of pits and hollows, caused by gravel extraction. Housing was built round the heath from the 18th - the best terraces face the heath.
Gravel extraction – The Crown used allow this for £56 a year, when it was used for ships’ ballast. This was stopped in 1866 by the Metropolitan Commons Act. In 1946 a number of pits - were filled in and grassed over.
Barrows. In 1784 some of the barrows were opened.
Golf club. First started under the prompting of James VI, Royal Blackheath Golf Club has since merged with the Eltham Golf Club.
Rugby football began officially on Blackheath; Blackheath Rugby Club began there, the oldest in Britain. It now plays nearby at Rectory Fields.

Blackheath Gate,
Plaque to the Cornish marchers

Blackheath Grove
Developed in the 1870s on the land of Hally’s nursery on the line of the Canal by the Bennett trustees.
Canal filled by the Upper Kidbrook which was part of Hally’s nursery garden. One of a chain of small reservoirs. It was used as a swimming bath in 1836.Post office. Was a Roller skating rink opened in 1876 plus a large hall, which has now gone. Used for all sorts of social activities. Taken over by the Post Office in 1911 and rebuilt.
Methodist chapel. Built 1864 with a dominant spire. Sunday School and house at the back. It was hit by a V2 in March 1945 and demolished, along with the Express Dairy plant and two houses in Wemyss Road. 5 people died. Shops built on the site.
13-14 Avenue Mansions built as Blackheath Club. This was to be like a gentleman’s club.
Toilets beside the railway, demolished 1992

Blackheath Vale
This is an old sand extraction pit and an encroachment on the heath
Blackheath Brewery. Opened 1826 Paul Challis. Then Ingle 1837-9 Wright 1847 and then Peacock. Produced weaker beer for the Blackheath Fair. Closed
Livery Stables. 1820s Wright family. Buildings used by STC post war.
All Saints Church of England School. 1878. May have been a national school taken over by the church.

Blackheath Village
Blackheath Station. 1849 Between Charlton and also Kidbrook and Lewisham on South Eastern Trains. Work started on the railway in 1845 but was delayed and it was two years before the Tunnel to Charlton began. It was planned to hide the line in the natural valley of the Upper Kid Brook and ran through two large estates - The Cedars, of Thomas Brandram and the Cator estate at Blackheath Park meaning private bridges had to be built. The station was designed for the North Kent Railway by George Smith. It has a one-storey facade to the street and stucco archway. The remainder c. 1875-8, plainer Italianate.
Weight restriction sign outside
Goods yard. The Upper Kidbrook in its pipe has been re-routed to allow housing here
Two signal boxes.
3 Spencer Place, built 1845-6  at the lowest point in Blackheath Village and thus the route of the Upper Kidbrook
1 Literary Institute behind Spencer Place. probably on the north side of the Upper Kidbrook.
24 Alley to the rear is the lowest point on the east side of the road and thus the route of the Upper Kidbrook

Brigade Street
Built on the site of insanitary Phoenix Square.
Brigade House – fire brigade station of 1871 built on the site of a dairy and cowsheds. Built following public protests. Closed in 1906 because it was unable to accommodate motorised engines.

Camden Row
Houses from the 1890s built on a slum area.

Collins Square
Cottages - a preserved group of late c18 weather boarded cottages. Restored 1963 by N. Macfadyen.

Duke Humphrey Road
8 a modern extension which has transformed a 1960s house. Eco-planted roof. Concrete DreamsGoffers House built 1950s on the site of Talbot Houses
Talbot Houses on the site of Union Vale – cottages built 1806. Demolished 1870s
East Mill. Built c.1770 on a site near the back garden of All Saints Vicarage.
All Saints Vicarage 1885 to designs of Benjamin Tabberer. Built on the site of East Mill Cottage, also called Foy Cottage.

Eliot Place
Lease granted by the Earl of St.Germans – whose family name was, Eliot. Developed by Alexander Doull in 1790s.
1 Heathfield House, 1795, with bow-windows and a central porch
2 Ross House "Sir James Ross 1800-1862 Polar Explorer lived here” Ross magnetic north pole in 1831. In the Antarctic, a wall of ice is known as the Ross Ice Barrier, and the sea named the Ross Sea.
2-3, 1805. Site of school where Benjamin D'lsraeli, was educated
4-5 7-8. The earliest houses. 1792.
6 Morden College extension. Used to belong to amateur astronomer Groombridge. There is a Sundial in a window to be read from the inside. Signed W.Doyle. Groombridge, added an observatory
Hare & Billet Pond. Fringed with willows it has many plants like flowering rush and yellow iris. Frogs, toads and smooth newts all breed here.
1a Hare and Billet. Former cricketers' home. It is a traditional style pub with bare floor boards. Opposite England’s oldest Golf Club.

Fulthorpe Road
Flats - council flats and houses for Greenwich by Richardson & Houfe, completed 1954 in the style requested by local residents.
No wonder Span seemed so radical.

Goffers Road
Marr’s Ravine was a gravel extraction site between here and Hare and Billett Road. Filled with soil from sewer building in 1905.

Grote's Place
Grote’s Buildings encroachment. This was built by H Andrew Grote for investment 1771-4 in Stock brick.

Lloyds Place
An Encroachment on the heath
Lindsay House fine terraced house built by Grote for himself.
3 Eastnor House. Home of Bryan Donkin 5th son of Bryan Donkin who took over most of his work. 1750s

Long Pond Road
In a straight line heading towards Morden College. Is it the remains of an old east west route? Probably followed the footpath round the college and then joined the Kidbrook Lane.

Montpelier Row
Encroachment. Terraces of the late c 18 and earlier c 19
1-4 1806-7
1a Princess of Wales’s pub. Public bar area and saloon with conservatory. The pub was first recorded in 1806 and named after Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales who lived nearby. The pub sign is a portrait of her. The present building was leased by Albermarle Cator to the City of London Brewery Co. Ltd., in 1888. Charrington took over in followed and Bass Charrington in 1970. In the late 1800's it was a hotel with stables, harness room and accommodation. In the 1830's it was used as a pavilion and changing rooms for cricket, football, hockey and rugby clubs. In the pub are trophies linking it to Blackheath Football Club founded in 1858 who used the pub as an HQ until the 1880's. The first rugby international between England and Scotland was held here in 1871.
5 1800;
6-14 probably 1797
15-16, stone-fronted, 1798.
17 by U. & G. Bowyer, 1959.
18-19 1836, with quadrant windows
20, attributed to Searles, 1803-4.
21 Alverstoke 1885 by Benjamin Tabberer,
22-23, 1798.
Clarendon Hotel said to be built of stone from old London Bridge. It was once three hotels: the Clarendon, the Regency and the Heathview. In the bar is part of the stern from a queen's barge built for William of Orange in 1689.
Princess of Wales’s pond. Deepest on the heath. Although primarily used for model boating, it contains sticklebacks and several species of pondweeds, and mallards can often be seen here...used by South East Model Yacht Club form 1906.
Horse trough. On the grass triangle.

Montpelier Vale
Some of the road is a curved late Georgian terrace with shops, some rebuilt in the c19 and again after war damage
16-18, new.
29/31 Zerodegrees Microbrewery. With German equipment
Phoenix House
All Saints Church. First church in Blackheath. Sited on an illegal encroachment. Built to the designs of Benjamin Ferrey, and was originally known as The Three Barns. Built as a new parish church for Blackheath village in 1857-67. Terry Waite, the British hostage in the Lebanon, attended regularly. Remarkable for the way in which it is placed right into the heath as if it were a model.

Cator Estate
Sold to Cator in 1783 who let the area for building. John Cator, was the last man to expropriate part of the heath

Pond Road
Laid out to an estate plan 1806 and houses built from 1819. Largely on the Area of the Wricklemarsh mansion. It had been sold to Gregory Page by Morden College in 1723. He was the richest commoner following the South Sea bubble. Wricklemarsh was built at the junction of Blackheath Park and Pond Road...
The Road dipped down as a watersplash on the line of the Upper Kid Brook.Scudds Livery stables were opposite the lodge at the north end.
Pond. The Bend in the road with a low boundary wall is the edge of the pond in front of the Wricklemarsh mansion. The pond formed part of the Upper Kidbrook and was essentially a reservoir for Wricklemarsh. There was a round pond called Scudds Pond. Also a fountain un the gardens, may fed by the Upper Kid Brook
Plaque to Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804-1864 'American author stayed here in 1856'
6-12 pretty stuccoed examples on a small scale
Boundary stones - Two round head Lewisham ones. The boundary between Lewisham and Charlton follows the Upper Kidbrook

Prince of Wales Drive
Milestone. Replacement of plates on the 6 mile stone in 1977

Royal Parade
Row of cottages called Washerwomen's Row. This was a Gravel extraction Pit where the Church is. Talbot Houses were cottages in the hollow with strips of garden in front.
Phoenix Vale cottages
25-35 was Phoenix Place
Horse trough

Shooters Hill Road
Roman Road over the heath. The heath is very sandy and the road was heavy going for 18th coaches. In the 18th antiquaries saw Roman remains and Roman road structures.
Folly Pond. Metropolitan Board of Works improvement of an old gravel pit. It was at one time a sizeable boating lake. It has a tendency to dry up in the summer and there is a standpipe to top up the water level.
Heath Keepers House.
Toilets at the junction of Charlton Way and Shooters Hill Road. 1880s closed early 1990s.
Crown Pit. Gravel extraction site between here and Charlton Way. Now fun fair site.

South Row
7 Colonnade House 1806, believed designed by Michael Searle
Paragon House 1794 by Searles, The doorway in Pond Road, was installed during the post-war repairs and comes from Adam's Adelphi.
Triangle of grassland between South Row and Morden Road is the only remaining site on Blackheath for bird's-foot, a tiny relative of clovers typical of acid grassland.
Span flats. Built on site of 3-6 and Bryan House which were destroyed in 1941. Flats by Eric Lyons 1959-61.
Drinking fountain round granite fountain on an octagonal base. ‘The fear of the Lord is the fountain of Life’. 1885
Iron cover in the pavement, connected to the fountain. ‘MDF & CTA’.

The Paragon
Upper Kidbrook stream was east at the lodge of the College gates and behind the Paragon
Paragon. Crescent-shaped sweep of two-and-a-half storeyed Georgian houses connected by colonnades, designed by Michael Searle in the 1790's. It is said that the Coade stone colonnades come from the Wricklemarsh villa. It marked the end of the grounds of Blackheath Park and took 13 years to complete due to financial problems. Bombed in 1940s and damaged. Restored ASA flats by Charles Bernard Brown 1950-8. The low lodges at either end are post-war creations. Gas lit in the front.
1 Features in films 'The Secret Partner’.
10 Sir John Simon was born
11 The Portrait of a Lady.
Greenwich parish boundary pillar
Paragon Cottage
Paragon Lodge
Fire hydrant. Iron base square bottom with octagonal top. Round dome cap.

Talbot Place
Golf House
Mill House
West Mill built here c.1770 and demolished by 1835. Probably on site of All Saints Vicarage where a mill house from the 1820s had been converted and demolished in 1885. Two houses built on the site became Mill House, and the other Heath Hall – later Golf House, used as a social club and club house, until the Golf Club left the Heath. Stables at the rear built 1858.

Tranquil Passage
Village School a humble building of 1851. Now library. Opened 1959.

Tranquil Vale,
Not so tranquil today with its numerous pubs and restaurants. This is busy shopping street, with some c18 to earlier c19 terraces behind later fronts.
1/4 1851 Banks and Barry
3-9, close to the station, the remains of the Blackheath Literary Institute of 1845 by G. Smith, damaged in the Second World War, reconstructed by Garden, Godfrey & MacFadyen in the 1970s
5/8 1852
20 was Frederick's Place
23, pretty Victorian cast-iron shop front. Late 18th
23-35 terraces bought by John Collins in 1798 who owned much of the west side of Blackheath.
25, late c18,
25-27, Vale House, is a handsome six-bay house of 1798, with Greek Doric porch.
34a, Blackheath Gallery
45-47, a modest pair, partly weather-boarded, were part of Collins Square.
51-61 Camden House
52 Three Tuns. On an encroachment on the heath. Rebuilt in 1885, although a pub has been on the site for much longer, and was probably the earliest in Blackheath. Remains of old stables at the back
58/74, Tranquil Place
63-69, Lamb's buildings
74 The Bookshop, Blackheath
All Saints Church Hall 1927-8 by C. C. Winmill, domestic revival with patterns of tiles,
49 Crown Inn. Sometimes considered the oldest building in the village. Built in 1742, with later alterations c.1890, Phone box
Post office (former) also thought the oldest building in the village.
Drinking fountain in limestone and pink granite, Gothic style. Relief of Queen Victoria and inscription to say it was erected by the inhabitants of Blackheath on her Diamond Jubilee and another to say it was restored in1977.

Wemyss Road
Wemyss Cottage c. 1830 for John Sheepshanks, the art collector.

All Saints Church. Web site
Aslet. The Story of Greenwich
Baldwin. The River and the Downs
Blackheath nature trail
Blue Plaque  Guide
Bygone Kent 5/11,
Clarendon Hotel. Web site
Clunn. The Face of London
Egan. Kidbrooke,
Glencross. The Buildings of Greenwich
Goldsmiths. South East London Industrial archaeology
Greenwich Historical Association Transactions
Hamilton. Royal Greenwich,
Lewisham Local history Society Journal
London Encyclopaedia
Pevsner and Cherry.  South London
Platts. A History of Greenwich
Port of London Magazine
Princess of Wales.Web site
Rhind. Blackheath Village,
Rhind. The Heath, 
Spurgeon. Discover Greenwich and Charlton
Summerson. Georgian London


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