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.