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