KIrkdale Green & Albion Millennium Green are two small green spaces in South East London – in the Sydenham district of Lewisham. The first is somewhat neglected, and seems to be left over from the grounds for a large Victorian house which has since been demolished. Albion Millennium Green was a neglected tennis court before the local residents converted it into a small nature reserve.
When I explored Mayow Park and Sydenham Wells Park I noticed a large house called Leacroft on the OS Map of 1894-96 in the area between the two parks. Leacroft lay between Kirkdale and Peak Hill and seemed to have parkland in front of the house as well as a large orchard alongside the parkland. Finally I found out that this was originally called The Retreat and it was the home of George Baxter, the printer, after whom Baxter’s Field is named. (Thanks to Steve Grindlay.)
Today a small green remains, with trees around the perimeter and access from Peak Hill and Kirkdale but housing covers the rest of the site.
Albion Millennium Green
Albion Villas Road shows as a small road with some housing on the north side at the end of the 19C. There was a large open space along the railway line and what seems to be an orchard on the south side of the road, with four houses. By 1951 the housing is the same, surprisingly, but the orchard is tennis courts. And today the road, which looks and feels more a little lane, appears much as it would have done in the 1950s, and perhaps even at the end of the 19C. The only difference is that it is thinly tarred, and there are wheelie bins standing at the roadside.
Nos.5-6 Albion Villas Road opened in 1872 as the Home and Infirmary for Sick Children and South London Dispensary for Women. Miss Edith Elwes was the Founder. The hospital moved to Champion House in Sydenham Road in 1885 and finally closed in 1967. The building was demolished in 1991. Nos.3 & 4 Albion Villas Road were built in 1847 by Robert Harrild, George Baxter’s father-in-law.
‘…The Green is owned by the local charitable trust formed in 1998 for the purposes of purchasing the land from the former tennis club trustees and to protect and enhance the space for the benefit of the local community. The Friends of Albion Millennium Green group has taken care of the upkeep and has organized many events and activities there. The Green has been transformed into a much loved and highly valued open space…’.Albion Millennium Green Trust, 2015
‘…It has winding paths, meadow areas and fruit trees and is easily accessible from Albion Villas Road and from the railway path which runs between Forest Hill and Sydenham…’.Albion Millennium Green Trust, 2015
I think I will let the pictures speak for themselves at this point…
Kirkdale Green & Albion Millennium Green are interesting small green spaces in South East London – Sydenham to be more specific. I am sure that Kirkdale Green could be a more appealing little park. Sydenham Wells Park and Mayow Park overshadow this patch of land, I realise. Even so, here is a small piece of land which was once open common; it would be good to respect the past. Albion Millennium Green is just delightful! This little nature reserve shows, once again, the power of determined and motivated local people!
[…] George Baxter was an engraver and printer who developed an economical way of printing in colour, patented in 1835, but also produced very beautiful prints. He lived in Sydenham and is buried at Christ Church in Forest Hill. (Baxter lived in The Retreat which was renamed Leahurst and whose garden included the green space known as Kirkdale Dale.) […]