A History of Brockley - Part 3: Artifice and artistry

Tommy Johnson: I had to be up at that there crossroads last midnight, to sell my soul to the devil. 
Ulysses Everett McGill: Well, ain't it a small world, spiritually speaking. Pete and Delmar just been baptized and saved. I guess I'm the only one that remains unaffiliated.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?

This is the third part of Darrell Spurgeon's history of Brockley (click on the History tag for the series), in which we learn that the Crofton Park name is of no import, historically speaking:

Brockley Cross and Crofton Park

The Croydon Railway was opened in 1839, in part using the bed of the disused Croydon Canal; from New Cross Gate Station southwards, once past the Goldsmiths College complex, it runs along or near the western boundary of Brockley. Apart from the interwar Honor Oak Estate and a small area to its north extending up to Endwell Road, Brockley lies to the east of the railway line.

Upper Brockley comes to an end at Brockley Cross, a complicated but important road junction, where six key roads meet. The area is in the course of substantial change with new build and regeneration.

Brockley Cross is also near the rail junction of the Croydon Line and the Nunhead Loop Line, originally with two railway stations. Only one, Brockley Station, which opened in 1871, now survives; it now not only serves the main line from London Bridge to Croydon, but also the new London Overground service from Dalston Junction. Brockley Lane Station opened in 1872, but closed when the Greenwich Park Line closed in 1917; part of the line was brought back into use from 1929 as the Nunhead Loop Line, though the station did not re-open.

Coulgate Street, by Brockley Station, has some surviving cottages which once faced the canal, before the railway arrived. In the 1860s, before the railway stations opened, the Breakspeare Arms (now The Brockley Barge) had appeared in Brockley Road, and groups of Italianate houses in Cranfield Road and Foxberry Road. Further south in Brockley Road was Brockley Cemetery, which opened as Deptford Cemetery in 1858 and merged with Lewisham (now Ladywell) Cemetery to the east in 1965.

Otherwise, the area from Brockley Cross southwards developed from the 1870s, and in due course a series of minor shopping parades appeared. By the early 1890s the development of Brockley Road had reached the line of the present Catford Loop Line, where Crofton Park Station opened in 1892. This was not far from the historical centre of Brockley at Brockley Green, and the development which followed the new railway line overwhelmed what remained of this once picturesque rural oasis; with the demolition of Brockley Hall in 1932 and the consequent development of its grounds, the transformation into suburbia was complete.

The name Crofton Park has no historical significance, it was probably taken by the railway company from the name of an estate to the east which was due to start development. It became a minor shopping centre, though there are several buildings of special interest – Crofton Park Library, the Rivoli Ballroom, The Brockley Jack (the original pub long predated the railway), and St Hilda’s Church.

From the late 1890s, a large area around Brockley Grove to the east of Crofton Park began to be developed. First, south of the railway line, came the Crofton Park Estate, extending from Crofton Park Road to Ladywell Fields. This was followed quickly by the closure of Bridge House Farm, and the development of the Bridge House Estate, on either side of (though mainly to the south of) Brockley Grove. Further on from here, one is clearly in Ladywell.

2 comments:

Jim Connell said...

I believe that Darrell Spurgeon is correct in saying that the name Crofton Park is of no importance historically.
But where did the name came from, as it has been used for the road (Crofton Park Road, formerly a lane) in the 18th Century, the railway station (1892), the library (1905), and the Crofton Park Picture Palace (1913) which became the Rivoli Ballroom.
So where was the original Crofton Park?

Robert said...

I always thought that the name was invented specifically for the station - though if you say that there was a lane their already, then I guess that is your answer. I'd be interested in seeing the 18th C map with the name of the lane on though. So why was the lane called Crofton Park? A nice piece of research there for someone.

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