Bridgehouse Meadows in Lewisham is one of the many little parks along the railway lines in Lewisham, and like all the others it has an interesting history. And just like many of the other parks this one hides away behind housing – you can’t drive past it – and so it was a new discovery for me.
Access to Bridgehouse Meadows
The Lewisham Council website says that you can access the site from Surrey Canal Road, Winslade Estate, Hornshay Street, and John Williams Close.
History of the Park
The New Cross Stadium opened in the early 1900s on this site as an athletics stadium. However, it was mostly used for greyhound racing and speedway. The athletics track was known as ‘The Frying Pan’, built inside the greyhound track and with banking all round. The first Formula 1 Stock Car Race was held at this stadium in 1954, and the Stadium even had its own speedway team! When the stadium closed in 1969 it had a capacity of 26,000 and it was finally demolished in 1975. The Millwall Football Club played in ’The Den’ alongside the Stadium from 1910, having moved from the Isle of Dogs to this, their fifth home. In 1993 the club closed this site and moved to their sixth home, a newly built stadium nearby.
The railway line, originally the Croydon, Brighton and South Eastern Railway, belonged to the South Eastern Railway Company which operated from 1836-1922. The development of the line was complex! Originally the aim was to establish a rail link between London and Dover.
Bridgehouse Meadows today
Lewisham Council tells me that ‘…Bridgehouse Meadows is once again open to the public, after it was used by Transport for London (TfL) as their base of operations for much of 2011/12. As well as re-seeding the Meadow and planting new trees, TfL have also installed paved and lit subways at both Hornshay Street and Rollins Street to improve access. As part of its programme of works to improve walking and cycling routes in the north of the borough, the Council is working with Surrey Canal developer Renewal on options to further enhance the Meadows in the longer term, with the aim of increasing its use by the local community when the development and Surrey Canal Road station go ahead…’.
As befits ‘meadow’ there were plenty of indigenous plants and flowers when I visited and a suitable degree of ‘wildness’.
This is an interesting area and it is worth visiting Bridgehouse Meadows in Lewisham, but I would have felt uncomfortable on my own.
- Further information & Sources
- Voluntary work in Bridgehouse Meadows
- Photographs of Millwall Club: http://www.millwall-history.org.uk/The_Den2.htm
- Photographs of the Speedway Programmes: http://transpont.blogspot.com/2014/12/new-cross-speedway-programmes.html