Winn’s Common lies on the eastern end of Plumstead Common and it is quite a complex area!
Winn’s Common is named after Thomas Winn. He was a local landowner who also built almshouses for poor widows on the common. He died in 1800 and is buried in the Church of St Nicholas.
A brief history
Queens College Oxford owned Plumstead Common and in 1874 they gave permission for the military based in Woolwich to use the common for artillery manoeuvres. This destroyed the natural vegetation and was one of the causes of the riots of 1876, led by John de Morgan. In 1878 the government passed the Plumstead Common Act to ensure that c.100 acres of the common remained a common open space in perpetuity.
Plumstead Common lies on a plateau above the marshes. The slope down from Plumstead Common to the flat land below and then the marshes beyond (today’s Thamesmead) and the Thames, is steep!
The edge of Win’s Common
The area north of Winn Common Road and between Lakedale and Riverdale Roads is interesting. The ground is rough and uneven and there is plenty of gorse, wild plum trees, birches and oaks. This is what the common would originally have looked like. I need to return in the spring when the gorse is flowering.
A lake is shown on maps as early as 1867. By 1900 this was a boating lake which was damaged in WWII and after that it was changed to a paddling pool. Today this is in the large children’s Adventure Playground in this area. The playground was full of children when I visited and I couldn’t photograph apart from one distanced shot. The blue area is a paddling pool, emptied for the winter and there is also a ball court.
This small but beautiful little wood lies in a ravine between Lakedale Road and Riverdale Road. The Friends of Plumstead Common rescued and restored the site – a tremendous achievement which we can all now enjoy.
The main part of Winn’s Common
The main body of Winn’s Common lies south of Winn Common Road and between that road and Bleak Hill Lane. The Bronze Age Tumulus may date from 2400-1500 BC and it is a scheduled monument on the Register.
A barrage balloon unit was stationed here during WWII. They manned a line of barrage balloons. The unit was attached to RAF Kidbrooke, now Kidbrooke Village. Joan Hume describes her wartime experiences with the unit. After WWII 143 prefabs were erected on Winn’s Common to house people made homeless by the war. An old hut with cold water at one end of the common was the only washing facility. The huts were finally removed c.1957/58.
Memorial next to Winn’s Common
The George Webb Memorial stands next to the Kings Highway at the junction with Swingate Lane. It was originally a drinking fountain but the fittings have been removed. George Webb was the Headmaster of Burrage Grove Boys High School in 1896 but that is all the information I can find on the internet.
Winn’s Common is a good place to walk if you want to blow the cobwebs away, but it also has some interesting corners. And afterwards you can always retreat into the Plumstead Pantry!
 Weightman, Colin: Op.cit., Plumstead Common Balloon Site, 1942 by Joan Hume, pp.62 ff