Honor Oak Park

Honor Oak Park, Lewisham

Honor Oak’s south-eastern neighbourhood, situated between Brockley’s Crofton Park locality and Forest Hill – and often considered to be part of one or other of those places

Hidden London - Grierson Road by Chris Whippet

There was noth­ing here but fields bor­dered by inter­mit­tent trees until the Croy­don canal mean­dered through in the ear­ly years of the 19th cen­tu­ry. The only east-west track across the area was St Ger­man’s Road (lat­er renamed Hon­or Oak Park), which con­nect­ed with the only north-south route, Brock­ley Lane (now Brock­ley Rise).

The Croy­don canal was nev­er prof­itable and it closed in 1836. Three years lat­er, the Lon­don and Croy­don Rail­way opened, pass­ing through the Brock­ley Cut­ting on a straight­ened ver­sion of the canal’s route. In 1846 the L&CR merged with oth­er rail­ways to form the Lon­don Brighton and South Coast Rail­way. How­ev­er, no sta­tion was at that time pro­vid­ed in this locale.

To the south, much of For­est Hill was built up by the 1850s, but its extent stopped abrupt­ly at Ewart Road, now Ewart Road and Firs Close (at the bot­tom of the satel­lite map below).

The Angli­can church of St Augus­tine was built on One Tree Hill in 1872–3, using Ken­tish rag­stone. The church’s Goth­ic Revival design was the work of the Lon­don-based archi­tect William Oak­ley. The tow­er was com­plet­ed in 1888. As Basil Clarke says in Parish Church­es of Lon­don, and His­toric Eng­land repeats in its grade II list entry for St Augustine’s, “The church stands in a fine posi­tion [almost] at the top of a wood­ed hill, its design enhanced by the pic­turesque set­ting.”

The area’s house­builders con­tributed £1,000 towards the cost of con­struct­ing Hon­or Oak Park sta­tion, which opened in 1886. Devon­shire Road, Less­ing Street and Wyleu Street were among the ear­li­est streets to be lined with ter­raced homes. Sev­er­al more fol­lowed with­in a decade, includ­ing the south­ern half of Gri­er­son Road, which is shown in the pho­to­graph at the top of this arti­cle.*

A Wes­leyan Methodist church was built on Brock­ley Rise, at the cor­ner of Ack­royd Road, and the Chan­dos Arms pub­lic house opened on the cor­ner of Codring­ton Hill. The lat­ter sur­vives, as the Chan­dos. The last ves­tige of the old canal did not dis­ap­pear until the turn of the cen­tu­ry, when Boveney Road was laid out. The streets north of Risel­dine Road were not built up until after the First World War.

Sev­er­al sites in the area have been rede­vel­oped in recent decades, most inter­est­ing­ly at Segal Close, to the south-east, and Walter’s Way, to the west. These are both named after Wal­ter Segal, who pio­neered low-cost low-skill con­struc­tion meth­ods ide­al­ly suit­ed to self-build projects. Lewisham coun­cil sup­port­ed the schemes, which served as a mod­el that was sub­se­quent­ly adopt­ed by sev­er­al oth­er Eng­lish coun­cils, if only for a while.

Faced with a dwin­dling con­gre­ga­tion and the need for expen­sive repairs, St Augustine’s closed for wor­ship in 2001 but the priest-in-charge at Holy Trin­i­ty, Syden­ham, suc­ceed­ed in his efforts to reopen the church two years lat­er – and essen­tial main­te­nance work has since been done.

Inci­den­tal­ly, St Augustine’s parish cov­ers most of Hon­or Oak but does not extend east of the rail­way line, where the north­ern streets are in the parish of St Hil­da with St Cypri­an, Crofton Park, and the south­ern ones are in the parish of St Sav­iour, Brock­ley Hill.

Hidden London - Honor Oak Park Sports Ground and Pavilion by LTS Architects

East of Brock­ley Rise, Guy’s Hospital’s for­mer sports ground is now King’s Col­lege London’s Hon­or Oak Park ameni­ty, also avail­able for hire. Monies raised from the college’s sale of a ground in Sur­rey to Chelsea foot­ball club helped fund a £4m upgrade of the facil­i­ties here, includ­ing the replace­ment in 2013 of the old club­house with a new pavil­ion, shown in LTS Archi­tects’ image above.

Lon­don Over­ground assumed respon­si­bil­i­ty for Hon­or Oak Park sta­tion in 2009, in prepa­ra­tion for the arrival of its ser­vices the fol­low­ing year, on the extend­ed East Lon­don line.

Wells’ fireworks were made in Honor Oak Park from 1878 until 1947. The factory was located immediately north-west of the station.

Postal districts: SE23
Station: London Overground and Southern (zone 3)

 

* The picture of Grierson Road at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Chris Whippet, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.