Rockliffe Gardens is a small park, against the side of the hill, between Woolwich Old Cemetery and Woolwich New Cemetery.
A brief history
From the 1860s the Wickham Lane Brickworks covered the area from the boundary of Woolwich Old Cemetery, along the west of Wickham Lane to Bournewood Road. The complex included the Cemetery Brickyard, the South Metropolitan Brickyard and Gilbert’s Pit (aka Wickham Lane Brick Pit)
And immediately opposite the brickworks was a chalk pit. There were three chalk pits in this area: Cemetery Mine, South Met Mine and one other. Apparently there were up to two miles of underground passages and chambers in the mines and shafts could go as deep as 150 feet.
The brickworks mixed clay and sand from Upnor, Woolwich and Thanet Formations from their open pits with chalk from their own underground mines but also exploited local ‘brickearth’. Chalk was used to make cement but a small percentage added to the clay produced a yellow colour.
Woolwich Borough Council bought the site of the Cemetery Brickyard in 1935. Mr Tee, the Borough Engineer, laid out an ornamental garden which was opened by the Mayor of Woolwich, Miss M Crout, in 1937.
Upper level of Rockliffe Gardens
The upper level of Rockliffe Gardens is in an L shape, with one section to your right as you enter from Camfield Road and the other section, alongside Woolwich Old Cemetery.
The sunken garden and pond
There is no hint of the sunken garden when you walk in at the gate off Camfield Road. The garden is accessed from both arms of the upper terrace and is a lovely surprise! A rock garden is built into the hillside and there is a pond with a large weeping willow. A little humpbacked bridge leads over the water.
Woodlands in Rockliffe Gardens
There is a surprisingly large area of woodland in the park, below the sunken garden.
Rockliffe Gardens is small but quite delightful, but then I am always happy if I can find trees!