Fairoak Drive Green

Fairoak Drive Green is a small triangle of parkland in the Eltham Heights Estate in Eltham, near to Avery Hill Park. J E Webb and Co were the builders and the Crown Estate released the land for development.[1] 

History of the estate

The OS map of 1920 shows this was the site of Avery Hill farm and Coalpits Wood. The farmhouse stood at the junction of today’s Bexley Road and Crown Woods Road. 

The three main roads of Riefield Road, Crown Woods Road and Coalpits Wood Road were laid down by 1938. The houses came up for sale about the same time. Today properties in this area fetch many times more than the original prices!

The lost woods

Coalpits Wood perhaps refers to charcoal; oak and hornbeam produced charcoal for cookhouses and metal working. By the early 1800s coal had mainly replaced charcoal. Coalpits Wood lay alongside Rennets Wood and West Wood which once belonged to the Lord of the Manor of Bexley, the Archbishop of Canterbury.Woods produced income for their owners and one of the products from the West Wood was charcoal. The income was significant. In 1621 William Camden gifted of the Manor of Bexley in 1621, including West Wood, to the University of Oxford. The gift endowed the Camden Professorship of Ancient History, the oldest such position in England.[2]

The green on Fairoak Drive

The developer aimed to incorporate ‘the natural beauty of the Landscape with the charm of inspired Architecture. Part of the Estate is beautifully wooded and the trees are being carefully preserved; where a plot has no existing trees in the front garden, ornamental trees will be planted behind the forecourt walls’.[3] As far as I can see the green is the only area on the estate which is wooded.

Fairoak Drive Green in March
Fairoak Drive Green in March

The green space of Fairoak Drive seems to be the triangular space in Coalpits Wood, defined by footpaths through the woods, on the OS map published in 1934.

Fairoak Drive Green in late May
Fairoak Drive Green in late May

There are beautiful and mature trees on the green that predate the housing – pines, oaks and a wonderful hornbeam tree. There are also some young birch trees.

Beautiful oak trees on Fairoak Drive Green
Beautiful oak trees on the green
Pedunculate oak trees
Pedunculate oak trees
Hornbeam tree on Fairoak Drive Green
Mature hornbeam tree on Fairoak Drive Green

Fairoak Drive Green is a small reminder of the woods which once covered Eltham, but sadly the atmosphere of woodlands has gone. We should at least be grateful that the green preserves so many mature and beautiful trees.

[1] The Eltham Heights Estate: https://www.londonandkent.co.uk/about-us/eltham-heights-1935/

[2] Camden Chair of Ancient History: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camden_Professor_of_Ancient_History

[3] The Eltham Heights Estate: https://www.londonandkent.co.uk/about-us/eltham-heights-1935/ 

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