Brockley Origins: Hilly Fields



Reader JPM has unearthed another treasure from the newspaper archives - this time, an article describing the genesis of Hilly Fields as the focal point for Brockley's development. The article is from The Star (not that one) on December 23, 1893, a time when the London County Council had the vision to create "one of the most delightful of suburban pleasure grounds" in South East London:

31 comments:

Robert. said...

What's interesting, is that the land acquired to create Hilly Fields was the result of a local Campaign, organised in part by Brockley's own newspaper, The Brockley News. Somewhere I have a list of all the benefactors who contributed to the purchase of the land, which was published in said rag.

Anonymous said...

Very sweet. Completely different lives when the "fireworks" were a major attraction...

Anonymous said...

Also sad to think it was done to protect the views - and we are soon to get tall buildings through loampit vale. But also shows that the battle between the property developer and the residents is probably as old as london itself.

lb said...

It's still a good spot to watch the Blackheath fireworks display. There were loads of us up there last November, so perhaps fireworks are still an attraction after all.

Marmoset said...

Wyld's 1872 map (http://archivemaps.com/mapco/wyld1872/wyld21.htm) gives a curious footnote to Hilly Fields' history. Brockley cemetery is shown as a split area of Deptford Cemetery and Lewisham Cemetery and Hilly Fields are marked as Deptford Common. I'm not at all sure how common land gets ''acquired.''

I did a very short blog entry on this last winter: http://deptfordmarmoset.blogspot.com/2010/02/deptford-commoners.html

lb said...

Common land can still be privately owned. The "common" part refers to certain rights of access (and rights of grazing, collection of wood, etc, many years ago).

mljay said...

i like the bit about the Council setting some of the unemployed to work... how times ahve changed

quick brown fox said...

Written by a 19th century version of Brockley Nick! Even the tone of the article wouldn't be out of place in a modern blog entry.

Very interesting indeed.

The Oracle said...

Marmoset, this is from Lewisham's website.

"Hilly Fields (sic), at that time, was mostly farmland, with an area of game shooting to the south. The latter had already been leased to developers for building, and Deptford Common, just to the north, had also disappeared."

It seems possible that the map you linked to is not entirely accurate with the writng across it, given that Hilly Fields was to the south of Deptford Common.

Great link though, thanks.

Monkeyboy said...

I have an ordanance survey may of 1815ish that show hilly field as being part of deplored common

Danja said...

Deplored, I like that.

When my mortgage was with Abbey National, they always wrote to me at "Pepys Rd, Deptford".

I guess it is only a few hundred meters from the old Deplored Town Hall.

Lou Baker said...

Setting the unemployed to work is the best bit.

That's exactly what we need to do today too.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure we'd all like to know what your meaningful employment is Lou, you make one aspect of your personality crystal clear whenever you post, that's for sure

Anonymous said...

I expect the unemployed would like a job as well. Will it pay minimum wage or will they be emptying bins for the 62 quid a week job seekers allowance? Once again you plump for the crass assumption that all unemployed are feckless layabouts.

Anonymous said...

Why not empty the bins for the job seekers allowance?

Anonymous said...

Dustmen these days don't know they are born.

Bins have wheels and the residents are obliged to make them easily accessible.

I remember days when they had dust to contend with from all the coal fire and had to walk the length of the long gardens. The only respite was the vicarious pleasure of strewing garden paths with rubbish if the householder did not come up with goods when it came to the dispensing of largesse to tradesfolk at Chrismas box time.

Anonymous said...

Now, it is not fair to lump all bin men in the same wagon.

I had a relative who was a dustman in Camden. Possibly the only Englishman working 'in the field'. He was a rough diamond and looked the part. He strode purposefully with the studied nonchalance of man mountain who cared little for social niceties.

He said some of the bin team were not all they seemed. Some, he revealed had a distinctly dodgy past.

He said he had been shown a photo of one bin crew who were all of middle eastern origin. They were posing in military fatigues showing off automatic weapons. Apparently they were all refugees on the losing side of some Lebanese war and were hiding out in the Camden council refuse department until the situation cooled down and they could return to active service.

Now Lewisham does not have the edgy vitality of Camden. But it doesn't do to dis' your bin man and I doubt whether they would take kindly if an influx of unemployables upset the team dynamics.

Mondee said...

Lou actually has a point. Some people on the dole actually think they deserve to be supported by the state their whole lives, because that's all they've ever known - some children grow up surrounded by family members who have never had a job so they think it's normal. This inevitably breeds a sense of entitlement. Also, as anyone who has spent any time at all out of work will know, all too quickly it's very easy to slip into a different time zone, where it takes twice as long to do anything and the day doesn't really get going until 11am. Boredom and apathy kicks in and it's harder to motivate oneself. And that happens to people who actually want a job. Then the confidence starts to wane, and suddenly you're not in the best frame of mind to try to impress at interview. If the longterm unemployed had to do some community work to earn their benefits, it would increase their confidence, help them with timekeeping, get them into the mindset required to do a job and give them a sense of purpose, all of which will help them get into work. They will also care more about the community they live in if they are actively involved in its upkeep.

Anonymous said...

Like I say, a crass asumption that the unemployed are layabouts. Now if you pay national insurance for twenty years and find yourself unemployed I think you may be forgiven to be a tad annoyed when your told to empty bins for 40hrs a week for sixty quid.

Mondee said...

Nowhere did I say that the unemployed are crass layabouts. I merely pointed out that some people - SOME -need assistance because they don't come from families with a strong work ethic - a sad fact - and until they find a job, giving them the discipline required to turn up at a specific time on a regular basis will help change the mentality of a small minority who think they are owed a living, or who simply don't have the opportunity to change their situation. Its a better than throwing them on the scrapheap and assuming that they'll be on benefits forever, and there are of course benefits to us taxpayers as well. Some people find it very humiliating to take handouts - maybe giving something back would give them more self respect.

Lou Baker said...

@anon

I don't think all unemployed people are layabouts at all. That's your judgement on me, not at all what I think.

I was unemployed once and was even on the dole for about 3 weeks of it. It was the most humiliating, depressing, awful experience of my life - not helped by the largely under-educated bureaucrats at the Jobcentre who treated everyone with scorn.

Modee is right - my experience of unemployment mirrors what he said. You start off full of beans, trying to get work and if you don't have any luck you gradually get more depressed. It quickly becomes a downward spiral that's incredibly difficult to break.

And I broke it by taking a low paid menial job. I went from senior management to the photocopy room. And I did it because it was better than being on the dole.

Not better paid. Just better because I was at least able to get some self-esteem back and didn't have to be ashamed. So should you have to empty bins for 60 quid a week just because you've paid national insurance? Absolutely because if you've got any sense of self worth you'll realise any job - no matter how low you think it is - is better than nothing.

So yes, the unemployed should have to work for their benefits. A few hours a day tidying parks, painting railings, sweeping streets etc .. not the most exciting jobs but it gets you out of the house and talking to people and that's half the battle when you're unemployed. And it helps society too. Everyone wins.

Being stuck at home with no company except daytime TV helps absolutely no-one.

Anonymous said...

"I went from senior management to the photocopy room."

pushed, I bet . . .

Reg said...

Well said, Lou. With you one hundred.

Anonymous said...

God I'd love to give a heap of photo copying to Lou.

Double sided you IDIOT!

Eric blair said...

Presumably the park keepers will be retained when the sixty quid brigade are drafted in? If your, say, an would you be 'put to work' as an accountant in a hostpital? Why not? Of course you could then sack the accountant whose getting decent money. Everyones a winner. Let's just bring back workhouses, the socialist experiment has demonstrably failed.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

We're happy to report that the 'suburban pleasure mounds' are still very much in service.

TJ(O) said...

BDS - you're 14 years old, spotty, and masturbate frequently, don't you? You read like a character from the Inbetweeners

BDS (singles section) said...

@ TJ(O), thank you for your interest. The masturbation group meets on the second Tuesday of every month. You are of course welcome to observe without obligation to join in. Biscuits supplied.

TJ(O) said...

..I just fanned the flames..

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Just reading a feature about Outdoor Sex entitled "Come Outside" in this week's Time Out.

No mention of Hilly Fields I am afraid to report.

Or the smell of Come........

Anonymous said...

Are you calling the unemployed criminals then Mondee ? because they have to do community work.

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