Slade Green

Slade Green, Bexley

The easternmost settlement in London south of the Thames, situated north of Barnes Cray

The ruins and moat of the house called Howbury, and its Jacobean tithe barn

This was formerly the manor of Howbury, recorded simply as Hov in Domesday Book, from the Old English hōh, a heel of land. Slade Green was first mentioned in the 16th century, but the name is probably of earlier origin. A ‘slade’ was “a little dell or valley; or a flat piece of low, moist ground” and it was certainly the latter meaning that applied here.

The ruins and moat of the house called Howbury constitute a scheduled ancient monument, and a Jacobean tithe barn survives, but in deteri­or­ating condition. The struc­tures are on private land and are not generally accessible to the public but can be seen from a nearby footpath, from which the photo­graph above was taken.

Howbury’s surroundings were fields on the edge of Crayford Marshes until indus­trial devel­opment began here in the late 19th century, mainly in the form of brick­making and barge-building. The bulky church of St Augustine was built in 1900, and the station opened in the same year, followed by locomotive sheds and carriage sidings. The South East and Chatham Railway Company built a small estate of railway workers’ homes and a matching public house on Oak Road. The cottages are arranged in groups of four and designed to look at first glance as though each set is a single dwelling. Prolonged railway ownership kept the Oak Road estate relat­ively unspoilt and it is now a conser­vation area.

The council built flats, bungalows, semi-detached houses and shops in the late 1950s. The system-built flats were demol­ished around 1990 and replaced by much more pleasant housing. Bellway Homes received permission to build homes off Slade Green Road in the mid-1990s in return for providing the Ray Lamb Way relief road. Barratts built the Watermead Park estate on reclaimed marshland later in the decade.

New housing at the Ratio development
New housing at the Ratio devel­opment*

The former Slade Green secondary school now houses council offices. Slade Green junior and infant schools share neigh­bouring sites on Slade Green Road.

The locality’s former Howbury centre has been redeveloped as Ratio, with 372 homes plus the usual smattering of neigh­bourhood amenities associated with such schemes (although not as many as were originally promised). Unlike most major devel­op­ments in modern London, Ratio includes a high proportion of three- and four-bedroom family houses, as well as the more predictable two-bedroom apart­ments.

At the time of writing (June 2017) a proposal to construct a huge distri­bution park adjacent to the rail lines south-east of the station appears to be in abeyance following the Mayor of London’s rejection of a revised planning applic­ation. However, the Howbury Park project may yet go ahead in some form as the site is allocated for this purpose in the London Plan.

Postcode area: Erith DA8
Station: Southeastern Trains (zone 6)
Further reading: Edward Thomas, Slade Green and the Crayford Marshes, Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, 2001

 

* The picture of new housing at the Ratio development on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright David Martin, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.