Grove Park, Lewisham
A mixed settlement of council and private housing, separated by the railway line from the Downham estate to the south-west
This was dense woodland in the extreme south of the parish of Lee until the early 18th century. At that time, as local historian John King puts it, Grove Park “just did not exist, in name or reality.” Thereafter, the trees were cut down and mostly used to make charcoal, hence the name of Burnt Ash Farm, which covered most of the area. A smaller farm, near present-day Somertrees Avenue, was called Grove Farm. A short-lived brickworks operated in the mid-19th century and some of its bricks were used locally to build a number of large houses.
In the early 1870s a station was built and a road was constructed to provide a link to Mottingham, and both the station and the road were named Grove Park, after the farm. Throughout the rest of the century a handful of villas went up annually. In 1902 Greenwich workhouse was built here.
The workhouse served as a barracks during the First World War and became a tuberculosis isolation hospital in 1926. In the same year the railway line was electrified and Lewisham council began building its 44-acre Grove Park estate. The council bought Chinbrook Meadows for use as a recreation ground.
Sports grounds and private housing consumed Grove Park’s remaining dairy pasture and plant nurseries in the 1930s, although a pig and poultry farm was subsequently established for wartime purposes. This survived until the construction of the Marbrook estate in the 1960s, which followed a number of smaller infill projects designed to address the post-war housing shortage. Private housebuilding has continued to the present day, including the redevelopment of the former Grove Park hospital site.
Just over 62 per cent of Grove Park’s population is white, according to the 2011 census – down from 80 per cent in 2001. The most populous ethnic minority is of black African descent.
Edith Nesbit, author of The Railway Children and a founder member of the Fabian Society, lived in Grove Park from 1894 to 1899.
Postal district: SE12
Population: 14,648 (2011 census)
Station: Southeastern Trains (zone 4)
Further reading: John King, Grove Park: The History of a Community, Grove Park Community Group, 1982
and John King, Grove Park: Its History Revisited, Lewisham Local History Society, 2011