Winn’s Common

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.

Winn's Common
Flat and bare Winn’s Common with the bump of the Bronze Age tumulus

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!

Riverdale Road leading downwards with the Thames in the background
Lakedale Road leading down the hillside to the former marshes and the Thames

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.

Winn's Common
The common alongside Lakedale Road
Winn's Common
Gorse, birches and oak trees

Adventure Playground

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.

Adventure playground on Winn's Common

Workhouse Woods

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.

Workhouse Woods
Workhouse Woods is in the ravine to the right
Inside Workhouse Woods
Inside Workhouse Woods
Workhouse wood on Plumstead Common
One of the very old oak trees in the wood
Drainage inside Workhouse Woods
Drainage? inside Workhouse Woods

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.[1] 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.[2] The huts were finally removed c.1957/58.

The tumulus on the common
Bleak Hill Lane
Exercising on Win's Common
Exercising on the common
The view from Black Hill Lane
Looking from Bleak Hill Lane towards Plumstead

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.

George Webb Memorial
George Webb Memorial

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!

Plumstead Pantry
The wonderful Plumstead Pantry!

[1] Weightman, Colin: Op.cit., Plumstead Common Balloon Site, 1942 by Joan Hume, pp.62 ff


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