I remember when all this was trees - the buildings of Hilly Fields





Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

"The View at Hilly Fields" - a recent proposal to create a cafe in Hilly Fields on alternative site to the one currently being considered by the Council - prompted a lot of discussion about the buildings that had previously existed in the park.

To settle the debate, BrocSoc's Rob has sent us these photos and a map which shows the location of the Refectory and Bandstand that once stood there.

Rob says:

I am not sharing this information as a way of supporting The View’s proposals for the site - I just thought it would be of interest. My own opinion is that any new construction anywhere in the park has to be critiqued based on contemporary sensibilities and concerns. If local people now judge that this particular site is of more benefit to the community as an open space – then that that has to be the most important factor. Precedence shouldn’t be an issue in this case.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have photos of the pre-fabs?

Len said...

Hopefully that will silence thisisengland, who appeared to suggest that The View Team was lying.

Well done Rob. I can now see why they would want it in that position, as it was ready made.

Q said...

The sound of silence from thisisengland wafts from the View at Hilly Fields.

Anonymous said...

thisisengland said...
Are they going to sell fish n chips?
I'd like to see a map or photo of the Victorian teahouse.

well there!

Could Be Val said...

Protest!! Protect our green spaces from the cake mongers!! who's with me?

[meet on the site of the old tea house]

Anna said...

And Lep recorn
"The View at Hilly Fields Team . . .

Independently of the debate about where you might site your building. Could you please post the evidence of the Victorian tea house you have unearthed (sic)??

I have lived in Briockley for about 30 years and have never heard anything of it !!"

One can only assume you didn't look very far. Well done to Broc Rob and to the View Team. Stick with it guys!

Brockley Nick said...

@Anna - I should point out that Rob sending me these images is not intended to be an endorsement of any plans by him or BrocSoc, it's simply explaining the relevant history and context.

Headhunter said...

Fascinating pics, love the old shots of Brockers... I wonder what happened to the cafe, sounds like it was there in the 60s. Interesting that there seems to be a small building marked "lavatory" exactly where the loo block is now, so that at least seems to have survived the years! And it seems there was a cricket pitch where once was re established last year.

The only thing I'd say about the old victorian "refectory" is that it was fairly low rise and unimposing whereas the new cafe team is suggesting a 2 storey block....

W.C.Grace said...

Yes there was a Cricket pitch where the new one is going to be,and one of the best in the area .Many a Sunday I spent watching the Hilly Fields Cricket Team play there,cant wait for it to start again,though id advise not to park down Hilly Fields Crescent.

Victorian Dogger said...

By posting this bulletin you've ripped a gaping wound in my space time continuum (that's what I'm calling it anyway) which has caused me - a Victorian Dogger - to appear!

A few questions for my 21st Century friends:

* What's it like living in Kent in 2010?
* Did God save the King?
* Speedycarts (near the locomotive station) has threatened to install an ironwrought sign - did this happen?
* People have threatened to extend Brockley towards the London and Croydon railway station - please stop them

Anonymous said...

There is also a few vagabonds selling Illegal contraband and carrying gunpowdered articles.

Anonymous said...

Bring back the bandstand!!!

Who's with me ???

Anonymous said...

At the time these pictures were taken Brockley was a very green area with fields and trees everywhere.

In brockley there is now only on decent size green area. So the idea to suggest that is fine to start to build on it because in the past there were some building is complete madness.

Lobbying for developers is really not elevating this blog. Any particular interest in doing so Nick?

Brockley Nick said...

I'm most certainly not lobbying for the proposal.

I like the idea of a cafe in the park but I haven't seen anything of the other proposals and wouldn't express a preference for any of them until I had.

I have also written very positively of rival bidder Pistachios, who have a great track record.

Like BrocSoc, I am attempting to equip people with the facts when they have been a matter of some dispute.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - cafe proposals aside, the issue has helped throw some light on an interesting aspect of local history. That alone makes the story worthwhile.

thisisengland said...

Sorry lads I've been in Potters Bar all day. Great pic of the refreshment house, it certainly wasn't there in the 60s. For my money (or shirt) I wouldn't mind a building like that, it preserves the integrity of the area and looks a bit like a cricket pavilion. I would point out that it appears to be surrounded by trees which no longer exist, so anything built there no will stick out like the proverbial.

Tamsin said...

What date is the map? I see that the 1930s (I think) houses on Fossil Road and Cliffview Road - on quite a steep slope are not there. (Lived in one of them for a few years in the 1980s.)

Lep Recorn said...

Anna

seems a bit pointed and a tad aggressive ???

thisisengland said...

I think those houses are older than that (1930s). The photo of the Tea House is very old isn't it judging by the clothes and the pram. 19th C I'd have thought.

Anonymous said...

"The View at Hilly Fields Team . . . Independently of the debate about where you might site your building. Could you please post the evidence of the Victorian tea house you have unearthed (sic)??

I have lived in Briockley for about 30 years and have never heard anything of it !!

thanks

p.s. I am of the site it at the toilet block faction!!"

Perhaps it was the "sic", "exclamation marks" and "toilet block faction".

thisisengland said...

I've lived here for over 30 years, been involved (not now) with the Broc Soc & know local historaian Gill Heywood well, I've never seen the pic of the tea house before, or the map.. But the bandstand pic is very familiar. Dates would be good, out of interest, nothing sinister.

Reg said...

Pendantically speaking they never said that they had "unearthed" and so you cannot use "sic" which is totally misleaing of you. They said: "Tim, we did do a lot of research into the history and location. Sifting through archive material at the local studies in Lewisham Library was a chore, but it did unearth a few surprises." (Sic)

Tressilliana said...

Fascinating stuff. The map is dated 1914 and shows Cliffview Road half-built and Fossil Road just getting under way.

The picture of the teahouse is earlier than that, I'd say, as the building that is now Prendergast doesn't have its extension - Lewisham website says it was extended in 1914-18 and in 1921. West Kent Grammar School had been and gone and the building was by then Brockley County Secondary School.

Also, the little boys are dressed in Edwardian clothes, I think.

Crofty said...

I just found an old book from 1905 with a chapter about the history of Hilly Fields (and Telegraph Hill) that you can read online at

http://www.archive.org/stream/municipalparksga00sexbrich#page/n7/mode/2up

You can flick through the pages by moving the cursor along the line at the bottom: Hilly Fields starts at p116 (Chapter VI). Packed with tidbits about how a group of monks called the Norbertians used to live here (St Norbert's Rd now makes sense), and how the Brockley Jack used to be on the canal, and how a lock-keeper's cottage was round about where Brockley station is now. Plus pictures of the canal.


Sorry for unlinked version of address, but another few links for pix I put up seemed to vanish into a spam filter or an abyss or something.

Crofty said...

Garrgh. Seriously, I am bad at this, or the internet is against me. That cut off the second half of the address, which seems to be too long for the comments boxes to cope with. Taking it from the municipal parks bit rest of the address is:

municipalparksga00sexbrich#page/n7/mode/2up

Sorry, most annoying web link in history...

Crofty said...

For sheer hell of it, will attempt to get past spam filter with proper link to the book, which is called Municipal Parks Gardens and Open Spaces of London here. Now off to have nice lie down.

Mb said...

What an excellent find, had a glance. It says those monks wore linen, avoided flesh and fasted once a year. Now some would say that that sackcloth wearing, hippy, vegetarians seem to be re-occupying the area.

Kerby said...

What a great book Crofty.Damn Brockley has more history than the USA.

Tamsin said...

Heap impressive way of looking at an old book. And a fairly detailed description of the Telegraph on Telegraph Hill - including the bit quoted in the Booklet produced on the opening of the park in 1885 (reprinted by the Telegraph Hill Society) crediting the Chappe brothers with the invention of the system but saying that "the ignorance and superstition of the French" prevented any sensible use of it being made until, impliedly, the English got hold of the idea.

Reg said...

Well done, Crofty - great find.

mljay said...

I agree with anonymous 17:44 - when the hilly fields had more buildings/ structures the whole areas was greener, as your picture of crofton park hay makers showed.

Times have changed and those green spaces have gone - why take away from the little we have left.

The same can be said for the plans to extend the buriel land in the HOP recreation ground. Yes, the land was always meant to be part of the cemetary, but that was decided when there was plenty of other green space/ fields and farms around (c 1910).

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

How about a combined Cricket Pavillion and Tea Hut?

My preference would be for a traditional type rather than a concrete monolith.

They could do Cucmber Sandwiches in the season.

ColonelG said...

Dear Brocolli comrades of anonymous but good intent central.
Please help... need quickly relocate.
due to unforesee circumstance of most cruel nature, family must leave beleaved country for a very friendly welcome in the United Kingdoms with anonymous types.
Wife spent much at Goldsmith, near the New Cross in the college during student day. she most joyously happy before my meeting! Now not so good. almighty rising up here! seek shelter with peoples who violent with tongue. We no need much. Little land for which we is glad to purchase in the dollar is mostly fine or with oil by the barrel. This Oily Fields? is often in the laughter of our conversations. At summit please, we will (subject to planning of course) erect tent of some proportion and graze many camel. But no spit! We no want the toilet block please due to hanky of the panky all the time with this dogger.

Please, Brocolli Nick, how much for… the view?

Mb said...

I think we should build a cafe in the shape of a massive arse pointed at canary wharf. It will combine tea house whilst showing south london disapproval for the money men on the isle of dogs. You can guess where the picture window would be placed.

Robert said...

Thanks' for posting these Nick. It's a shame you didn't include the aerial photograph - as that does spell out quite clearly the position of the old refectory.

Usually when you post things I have sent to you - my message is pasted verbatim. In this case you omitted to include my disclaimer! So I will post it here instead - in case I incur the wrath of the rest of the BrocSoc team.

What I said in my email to Nick was that I am not sharing this information as a way of supporting The View’s proposals for the site - I just thought it would be of interest. My own opinion is that any new construction anywhere in the park has to be critiqued based on contemporary sensibilities and concerns. If local people now judge that this particular site is of more benefit to the community as an open space – then that has to be the most important factor. Precedence shouldn’t be an issue in this case.

However, I will also say that I love buildings - and I think that the design put forward for The View is of good enough quality for the park. However, a good design in the wrong place does not make for a good building.

I also have reservations over the proposed use put forward by John and Simon. I think many people will need some convincing that a swanky restaurant and bar is an appropriate use for any building in the park.

Len said...

Robert, with friends like you... so you are supporting the other site?

MIl said...

What if local people judge that this particular site is of more benefit to the community as a building? Isn't that a 'most important factor' too? If precedence of a building shouldn’t be an issue then neither should its absence.

Robert said...

It's not always possible to be everybody's friend! Unless, of course, you never express an opinion on anything.

I would say, that if this building was proposed for the existing toilet block site - and that the use of the building was a little more 'whole' community minded, I would be warmer to the idea. I also think there are other potential sites around the park which might successfully lend themselves to some kind of commercial use. Like Michael has said - I also like the idea of combining a modest clubhouse (for Bowling and Cricket) with refectory. I was in Penrith a summer or two ago, and spent a pleasant hour or so outside the bowling green teahouse in the park next to the station, while I was waiting for my wife's delayed train.

Brockley Nick said...

@Rob - photo now added. I didn't include the text of your email, because it sounded like a private opinion and there was nothing to indicate you wanted it shared - you had not expressed these views in the debate on the relevant thread.

However I had mentioned in the discussion above that you were not sending us these images as any form of endorsement. I have now added the relevant passage.

Robert said...

Ha! Nick - I wouldn't want to cramp your journalist style - publish whatever you want. I just need to make sure I never send you anything after I've come back from the pub.

Brockley Nick said...

Well Rob, having already been accused of being in the secret pay of these developers (and now, apparently, the Qataris investing in the Shard), I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to SUPPRESS anything.

But FYI to anyone who emails me, my primary concern when using stories people email me is not to annoy anyone by accidentally publishing something they didn't want publishing. So if there's something you particularly want said, please say so.

Sheik Dan-Ja'l said...

Nick I need to transfer that erm you know, but I've forgotten those swiss numbers if you get my drift. Email me at the slushfund.qu address pls.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mb said...

I agree with rob in that the fact that a particular site was used previously is no reason why that should be accepted now.

Cafe please, where the bog is now. Contemporary but not achingly so.

Tamsin said...

Every time I come back to this thread a new picture! The bi-plane chugging overhead to take it must have been quite a sensation in 1924. Any more in the series, Robert?

shall I move to Hampstead? said...

I am clear, site definitely not chosen for views.

So with Rob, it is a new debate.

a little birdie tells me said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Phil said...

What's happening nowadays is people aren't getting out to meet each other, and the drive is for people to stay at home and communicate with others around the world whilst ignoring their neighbour. Look at how many pubs there are in Brockley, not very many, not until you get to Crofton park, New Cross or Ladywell. A meeting place is needed.

Brockley Central Label Cloud