West Heath, Bexley

West Heath, Bexley

A part-Victorian, part-interwar locality that many residents consider to be part of Bostall Heath

geograph-4823065-by-Marathon - West Heath Road

West Heath House was built in the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry for Sir Samuel Hulse, who was aide-de-camp to the Prince Regent, lat­er George IV. Hulse grabbed some com­mon land to enlarge the grounds of his house, which has result­ed in the dog-legged line of Bedonwell Road. The king vis­it­ed West Heath House after Hulse had risen to become a field mar­shal and trea­sur­er of the roy­al house­hold.

Less­ness Park was an Ital­ianate man­sion built in the mid-19th cen­tu­ry, with grounds that extend­ed north to Wool­wich Road and includ­ed a crick­et pitch. The pitch was used by West Heath Crick­et Club and W G Grace once played there.

West Heath House was rebuilt in 1878 by its new own­ers, the Eard­ley fam­i­ly of Belvedere. How­ev­er, no ten­ant could be found so part of the grounds was sold off and sev­er­al large vil­las were built, some of which have sur­vived.

Hidden London: The gate of a house on Burcharbro Road, featuring aeronautical devices

Bur­char­bro Road was laid out in the 1890s and gains its curi­ous name from its builders, Bur­rowes, Charlesworth and Brodie, who also devel­oped neigh­bour­ing Pinewood Road.

West Heath House was occu­pied until 1921 by Sir Tom Cal­len­der, who owned a cable man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny in Erith. The house was after­wards con­vert­ed into flats and the remain­der of the grounds was devel­oped at the same time.

Edward Black­well built hous­es on West Heath Road in 1930 and added more prop­er­ties to the south in the fol­low­ing year. Black­well had worked in Aus­tralia, hence the name of Can­ber­ra Road.

Less­ness Park was demol­ished in the mid-1930s and its site was devel­oped with hous­ing, main­ly bun­ga­lows. A line of trees fronting Wool­wich Road was pre­served and a small plot was saved as West Heath recre­ation ground, which opened in 1937. This was tem­porar­i­ly com­man­deered for pre­fab­ri­cat­ed hous­ing after the Sec­ond World War to accom­mo­date fam­i­lies made home­less by bomb­ing.

One of the largest Vic­to­ri­an hous­es on Wool­wich Road became St Joseph’s con­vent school and lat­er a cam­pus of Bex­ley Col­lege, which in 2005 gained plan­ning per­mis­sion to con­vert the local­ly-list­ed build­ing to flats and to add more hous­ing in its grounds. The high den­si­ty of the scheme drew com­plaints from local res­i­dents.

Legendary singer-songwriter Kate Bush attended St Joseph’s convent preparatory school and then, from 1969 to 1976, the secondary school.

Postal district/postcode area: SE2; Bexleyheath DA7
* The picture of West Heath Road 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. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.