A History of Brockley - Part 6: Vulcans and Polygonal Porches

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

North West Brockley

Vesta Road leads from Shardeloes Road west over the railway cutting up to the Telegraph Hill area. The very wide railway bridge is a modern iron girder bridge with an iron parapet, though brick sections between pillars of an earlier parapet have been retained at either end. The bridge gives wonderful and dramatic views of the four tracks of the Croydon Railway (opened 1839) in deep cutting with steep wooded slopes, going north to New Cross Gate Station and south to Brockley Station.

Beyond the bridge, on the north side, is Brockley Nature Reserve, occupying part of the wooded slopes overlooking the railway cutting. It is run by London Wildlife Trust, but is not often open to the public. Vesta Road continues up to Telegraph Hill, with houses of the late 1880s.

The road was developed from 1878, and consists of short terraces, on the west side with fanciful capitals in the doorways and on the east side retaining Italianate features. At the beginning on the west side, note Crossway Court, three terraced blocks of flats of 1968, in a pleasing plain modernist style with nice balconies. Crossways Academy occupies the site of the former Brockley Central School, which opened here in 1928 and closed in 2003.

Vulcan Road runs east from Shardeloes Road to Upper Brockley Road, crossing Malpas Road. There are no houses between Shardeloes Road and Malpas Road, but the section between Malpas Road and Upper Brockley Road is of interest. At the eastern end, on the south side, is a terrace of six small cottages of the 1860s. Just to the west of this terrace, Nursery Close leads to Milliners Court, an extensive and attractive development c1994. The major part of this is approached through a great gabled arch remaining from the garden centre which was formerly on the site; a small stream, now hidden in a culvert, runs through the site.

Opposite, Vulcan Terrace is a close to the north, mainly with postwar flats, but there are two cottages similar to those in Vulcan Road; also, the rear fa├žade of Brockley Baptist Church (see below) and its former Sunday School (note the Gothic window) overlook the close.

Malpas Road is a long road, running from Lewisham Way south to Brockley Cross. The road starts from the north with long low terraces of Italianate cottages of the late 1850s on both sides, mostly with fine bracketed ground floor window-cases. Near the northern end, on the east side, Luxmore Street leads into Luxmore Gardens, a pleasant linear park laid out in 1958 on the site of a former cluster of late 19th century houses and a nursery.

Rokeby Road is a short road linking Lewisham Way with Upper Brockley Road; it has a number of interesting houses, including some of the early 1850s. The buildings are numbered consecutively, on the west side from north to south, and on the east side from south to north. The west side begins with the east range of the former Deptford Library, now the ArtHouse, Lewisham Way, a grand baroque building of 1914 designed by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas; two engaged Ionic columns and two Ionic pilasters are at either end of a long brick range with recessed windows.

Then you come to nos 1/35, a long terrace of Italianate cottages c1850. At the end no 36 is a larger stuccoed house of 1853, and this is linked to *no 37, a highly attractive stuccoed house, also of 1853, which is recessed and has a fine loggia with ornamental cast iron railings. Next are nos 38/39 and 41/42, which are gabled classical pairs of 1853. Return northwards on the east side. First is Myatt Gardens School, a well-designed long and low school of 1974. Beyond, nos 68/69 are a pair c1870, no 70 is an attractive detached house of 1853, linked to no 71, a later extension, and no 73 is a detached house of 1866, also with a later extension; all these are basically classical in style.

Then you come to nos 74/83, a bizarre terrace of 1934 - the houses are roughcast, with polygonal porches projecting forward, each containing two entrances, one at ground level and one at the upper level at the head of a flight of steps.