A History of Brockely - Part 5: Canal Street

This is the fifth part of Darrell Spurgeon's history of Brockley (click on the History tag for the series).

The Croydon Canal

Just before reaching Shardeloes Road, note to the left The Ark, no 73a, designed by Mark Grainger 2004. This imaginative and nicely detailed house is in a style virtually unique in the area. The first floor balcony is suspended on steel columns, and there is abundant use of timber, particularly in the bold stairwell to the right.

Shardeloes Road. This is a long road, running from Lewisham Way south to Brockley Cross. The road was laid out in the late 1850s, but it is noticeable that the southernmost part of the road has not been built upon, as it is the site of a section of the Croydon Canal which had remained unused when the Croydon Railway opened in 1839.

The Croydon Canal ran from the Grand Surrey Canal at New Cross to Croydon from 1809 to 1836, when it was purchased by the London & Croydon Railway. The railway from London Bridge to Croydon via New Cross Gate opened in 1839. In practice the route followed by the railway diverged from the canal route considerably between New Cross Gate and Brockley Stations. There had been eight locks on the canal between the sites of these two stations.

Starting from the north, to the west, first is a gated mews, Chestnut Close, of c1992, with an unimaginative development called The Chestnuts. Then, extending as far as the junction with St Donatts Road, is a series of fine Italianate terraces and pairs of the late 1850s; the initial group, nos 2/44, are particularly good, with some distinctive features.

On the east side is, first, the entrance to Surrey House, 80 Lewisham Way, a substantial and attractive house of 1860, now a residential hall for Goldsmiths, University of London (see Raymont Hall, Wickham Road, below). Further on are two pairs of the late 1850s, but this side consists mainly of modern flats.

Between St Donatts Road and the junction with Vulcan Road to the east and Vesta Road to the west, both sides have late 19th century terraces as well as interwar terraces and flats. It is towards the end of this section that the road begins to follow the canal route.

Going south from the Vulcan Road / Vesta Road junction, apart from a few terraced houses at the beginning on the east side, there are, because of its alignment with the former canal route, no buildings at all.

But note on the retaining wall to the west The Shardeloes Road Poem, a lengthy inscription in elegant upper case letters by James Salisbury & Tom Young 2003, based on a poem by Margaret Reynolds, as follows:

LIVE WORK LOVE LAUGH. GATHER GREET STAY. TRADE TRAVEL BELIEVE BUILD. EAT DRINK & PLAY. SEE HEAR TASTE CATCH. SIT BREATHE SLEEP. LEARN CARE CREATE. SOW GROW & REAP.

4 comments:

ThousandWords said...

Very good. A map and some photos would help to follow this.

Matt-Z said...

Before the wall was painted and the poetry added, there was a great bit of long-standing graffiti which must have lasted until at least the early 2000s. Faded red letters on bare concrete read 'HEATH OUT. NO TO EEC'

NAT said...

UKIP time lords, no doubt. odd thet they've adopted the Heath dresscode in adversity.

tamsin said...

There was a talk on the canals (and railways) of New Cross in the Telegraph Hill Festival (declare interest: was given by my husband). Illustrated with maps and pictures. Might be repeated sometime in New Cross Learning.
Sadly - and quite unnecessarily - the last remnants of canal stonework in New Cross Gate station were removed in the works associated with the East London Line extension - despite a requests that they be left in situ.

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