Bostall Wood

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Alliance Road,

Mines.   On 2nd June 1939, a party of Council workmen were filling in a borehole. One of them, Samuel Gardner, was walking 10ft from the borehole when the ground suddenly subsided beneath him. At first, his head could be seen above the earth at the bottom of the crater but then the sides collapsed on him and he suffocated. The body was recovered from a depth of 30ft the following day. Collapses continued throughout the next decade but remedial action was prevented by the Second World War. The London County Council finally put through parliament the LCC the Woolwich Subsidences Act in 1950 and this empowered them to take whatever action was necessary to remedy the subsidence. Bores, headings and shafts were driven and surveys made, revealing the presence of a massive chalk mine. This was gradually filled by floating in pulverised fly ash and, following this expensive operation, the ground stabilised. 

The mines dated from the 19th century and were working up to 1920, being recorded by HM Inspector of Mines as South Metropolitan Mine, Gregory's Mine, Kings Highway and Cemetery Mine. They have also had other names at various times and may we be inked under ground. 

The South Metropolitan mine is entered by a sloping tunnel. Below Gregory's Brickyard, the aggregate length of the galleries is stated to be at least two miles. The tunnels are 9ft wide at floor level, diminishing to 3ft at the roof and 25ft high; but these proportions are modified according to the harder or softer nature of the chalk, the presence of joints, etc. The mine was opened about 50 years ago.

Bostall Woods

Old Park Wood. Bought from Goldsmit MP. Bought by London County Council in 1892 and maintained by them. 1939 ravaged by beetle had been Scots Pine plantings. Site of Metropolitan Importance.

Dick Turpin's Cave. Circular cave on the east side of Wickham Valley. 30 ft in diameter with chalk floor and hole in the roof. Probably a marl pit,

Old Park House

Mixture of fir woods and rough plantation, birches etc. LCC police about and a good many people. Wild rose. It is a fine wild country wood (Booth).

Cemetery Road

Woodside Cottage

Plumstead Cemetery. South of Bostall Woods and ex, old Park Farm. Hillside laid out as 17th century park.  Opened In 1890 when the area of the cemetery had been considered for transfer for Epsom Racecourse. Arsenal explosion victims are buried here. Close mown grassland around the graves.  purging flax and grasses found on chalk.

Stream. Called River Plum by locals and Wogbourne in Saxon,

Goldie Leigh school

Was orphanage of Woolwich Poor Law Guardians in 1902? London clay, flowers, hemlock, springs with wet area, Lodge is left on the road of the hospital. Built as an orphans' home in 1902.

Kings Highway

Bottom on Wickham Lane corner was bus garage. Unexploded bomb opposite.

Lodge Lane

Liggins Hill in the church wooden pegs in 1701,

Lodge Hill in 1738. Needed to have the Epsom Races there once

Old Park Road

18 Sand Mine. Situated in the back garden. Though only a short adit had been dug into the sand it seemed clear that there was another separate adit close by inaccessible due to a vast collapse of walls and rockgarden debris from a landscaped part of the garden The adit had been driven straight into the sand level and measured about 8 ft. 6ins. in length, 4ft, 6ins wide. Pick mark were seen on the walls but the original floor level was unknown. The house, had been built in the 1930s on land known to have been part of 'Cook's Farm’.

Russell Cottages, V2 6th March 1945 direct hit. The blast destroyed two cottages and severely damaged Plumstead Working Men’s Club and houses in Bastion Road and Bostall Hill. 62 people were injured. Young members of the organisation known as the National Animal Guard attended the scene to treat domestic pets affected by blast and flying debris.  A small reminder that pets shared their owners’ sufferings (and their fears) in all forms of air attack.

Wickham Lane

Roman road or bed of a stream.  May follow the path of a river, which was tidal at its estuary, and now silted up Valley formed by Plumstead River - chalk pits all the way.  Fossils in the woods. 1887 Roman lead coffin

Dene holes too up. 2 miles of passages and chambers underground for chalk mines

St Paul's RC School. Symmetrical, with cupola. Later extensions.

Bus garage. 1899 Bus Garage London General Omnibus Co.

Old Manor House of Plumstead. Very decrepit and is two cottages. Picturesque. Follower of Cade lived there John Crabbe and pardoned.

Forester's Arms

Chalk mines dug in the 19th and early 20th centuries to support brick and tile making operations. Three chalk mines in the area - Cemetery Mine, South Met Mine and another one. Eventually the land was built over and in the 1940s and 50s began to show signs of great instability resulting in many collapses and one death. In 1955 the London County Council enacted legislation to permit it to locate the mines and fill them with fly ash. They were run by The South Metropolitan Brick and Lime Company Ltd., The South Metropolitan Brick and Building Estates Company Ltd., The frontage to King's Highway was sold to the LGOC, with the comer plot on which the office stood and 80 ft. frontage in Wickham Lane. In 1915 purchasers were found for about 3 acres in the middle of the company's land in Wickham Lane.   Houses were being built on it. The 'front part' was in the hands of the military.

The Wickham Brickworks Ltd.   Wickham Lane Brickworks. W.Dawson 1842-1882 A.Gregory 1892-1905 and J. Stevens to build the Stevens Estate 1923-1929

Runs along a valley made by Plumstead Common on the south and Bostall Woods on the north. Some houses on south side, the north side is taken by French beans and rhubarb fields. South past public house along a line of cottages called Cemetery Cottages. Active brickfield is opposite a large newish cemetery on a hill on the north side of the road. The Lane rises to the east here. Nearly the top of the hill being where it meets Lodge Lane, which forms the eastern boundary of London. Ground rises here to the north until the level of Bostall Woods are reached. Raspberry fields on east side and a few old strawberry gardens on west, now being plotted out for building. Houses on west side only. Some old, some new, beginning and ending without any particular reason in batches from two to ten. Notices badly written on boards in front of some inviting the wayfarer to "winkles & watercress, eggs and cake".  (Booth)


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