Newlands, Southwark

Nowadays known to some as Nunhead Heights, this is an increasingly gentrified residential enclave at the southern tip of Nunhead, bordering Peckham Rye

Newlands - Terraced houses - Athenlay Road - geograph-4316153-by-Stephen-Craven

There was almost noth­ing here but fields until well into the 19th cen­tu­ry. One of the local­i­ty’s ear­li­est res­i­dents was a Mr EA Dunn, who built Bred­inghurst House at the east­ern end of Stu­art Road in 1874.

The orig­i­nal New­lands was a late-Vic­to­ri­an estate for the low­er mid­dle class­es, which evolved in piece­meal fash­ion in the area north-west of Sur­rey Road. The estate was unsuc­cess­ful at first, not least because of the absence of mains drainage; prop­er­ties here still had cesspools in 1883.

The spec­u­la­tive builder Edward Yates laid out the much larg­er Waver­ley Park estate from 1884, begin­ning with Ivy­dale Road. Yates came from Shrews­bury and Harle­scott Road is named after a vil­lage that is now a sub­urb of that Shrop­shire town.

The hous­ing was fol­lowed suc­ces­sive­ly by shops and the New­lands Tav­ern on Stu­art Road, a board school (which is now Ivy­dale school and chil­dren’s cen­tre), a mis­sion hall on Inver­ton Road and the Waver­ley Arms on Ivy­dale Road.

In 1898 Cam­ber­well coun­cil set up Lon­don’s first ‘chil­dren’s scat­tered homes’ scheme, in which pau­per chil­dren were cared for in fam­i­ly-style groups liv­ing in ordi­nary urban hous­es – includ­ing num­bers 1 to 4 Rye Road – rather than being accom­mo­dat­ed en masse in build­ings that looked and felt like work­hous­es. Around 1901 Bred­inghurst House was acquired as a ‘head­quar­ters home’ for the scat­tered homes.

In 1903 St Silas’ church was built on Ivy­dale Road. A cen­tu­ry lat­er the church was demol­ished owing to sub­si­dence caused by clay heave and it was replaced by the present parish church of St Antony with St Silas. The new church’s inte­ri­or is shown in the pho­to below.

Hidden London: St Antony with St Silas, Ivydale Road, Newlands - interior

The New­lands Tav­ern was rebuilt by Tru­man’s brew­ery in the mid-1930s. A V1 bomb hit the adjoin­ing row of shops in the after­noon of 1 July 1944, killing 17 peo­ple. All the shops were destroyed or dam­aged beyond repair, and were after­wards replaced by flats.

Bred­inghurst House became a res­i­dence for chil­dren with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in 1947, and sub­se­quent­ly became Bred­inghurst school. The school moved to new premis­es on the west­ern side of the site in 2011, and was renamed New­lands Acad­e­my. The orig­i­nal build­ings on the Bred­inghurst site have been replaced by over­spill class­rooms for Ivy­dale school.

The for­mer New­lands Tav­ern, lat­ter­ly the Ivy House, was closed in prepa­ra­tion for its con­ver­sion to apart­ments in April 2012 – but was saved from this fate by a local cam­paign. The Ivy House reopened in August 2013 as ‘Lon­don’s first co-oper­a­tive­ly owned pub’ and the first to be list­ed as an Asset of Com­mu­ni­ty Val­ue.

Elisabeth Frink’s sculpture Eagle on a Pedestal (1965) stands outside Newlands Academy.

Postal district: SE15, bordering SE4, SE22 and SE23
Bing bird’s eye view: Newlands (seen from the west)
Further reading: John D Beasley, Peckham and Nunhead Through Time, Amberley, 2013 (Kindle edition)
Twitter: Save Ivy House
See also: Nunhead Cemetery
* The pictures of terraced houses on Athenlay Road (at the top of this page) and new houses on Ivydale Road (shown in search results) are both adapted from original photographs, copyright Stephen Craven, and the picture of St Antony with St Silas (interior) is adapted from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, all at Geograph Britain and Ireland and made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.