Plumstead Common

Plumstead Common, Greenwich

A wiggling chain of open spaces covering an undulating plateau in south Plumstead, linking to Winn’s Common in the east

geograph-5181297-by-Marathon - Autumn colours on Plumstead Common

The parish work­house stood at Winn’s Com­mon in the 18th cen­tu­ry and a wind­mill was built on Plum­stead Com­mon in 1764. Vil­las and ter­races of hous­es began to appear on Plum­stead Com­mon Road in the 1840s. This was a time when parish­ioners made the most of their graz­ing rights on the com­mon and there were objec­tions when the landown­ers, Queen’s Col­lege, Oxford, began to enclose some of the land.

The sit­u­a­tion wors­ened in 1871 when the col­lege grant­ed the army per­mis­sion to use the com­mon as a train­ing ground and the right of pub­lic access was with­drawn. When the leader of a protest march was impris­oned, com­mon­ers riot­ed to secure his release.

An Act of 1877 autho­rised the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Board of Works to pur­chase the com­mon. This was a peri­od of height­ened (and high-class) sub­ur­ban devel­op­ment in the neigh­bour­hood, when new streets such as Wrottes­ley Road were laid out. The Slade (now Greenslade Pri­ma­ry) school opened in 1884. Two years lat­er, Wool­wich Arse­nal work­ers found­ed Dial Square foot­ball club at a meet­ing in the Prince of Wales pub­lic house on Plum­stead Com­mon Road. The name was soon changed to Roy­al Arse­nal and the club played its ear­ly home games on Plum­stead Com­mon.

By the out­break of the First World War the vicin­i­ty of the com­mon had filled with hous­ing, accom­pa­nied by shops and church­es. The mod­ernist archi­tect Berthold Lubetkin added a unique ter­race of four hous­es (shown in the pho­to­graph below) at 85–91 Gen­es­ta Road in 1935.

Hidden London: 85–91 Genesta Road by BornHard74

Plum­stead Com­mon has some of the most var­ied ter­rain of London’s open spaces, includ­ing wood­ed ravines, pud­ding­stone boul­ders and an ancient bur­ial mound on Winn’s Com­mon, as well as sports facil­i­ties.

Postal district: SE18
Further reading: Alex and Julia Cowdell et al, Our Common Story: A Celebration of Plumstead Common, Plumstead Common Environment Group, 2004
Twitter: @PlumsteadCommon
* The picture of autumn colours on Plumstead Common at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Marathon at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence, and the picture 85–91 Genesta Road is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Bornhard74, at Wikimedia Commons, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of those licences.