Greenwich as it used to be....

A childhood in Greenwich

Blackheath was a marvellous place, all undulating with huge dips full of gorse bushes, which had been sand pits. It was ideal to play "Cowboys and Indians", and for tobogganing when it snowed. We also spent a lot of time in the Park, quite often with our bikes, as there were a lot of paths and the broad avenue leading up to the Observatory.

We often used to go along Shooters Hill Road, to Castle and Jack Woods, which was quite an adventure. Before the houses in Wricklemarsh Road and the other houses around there were built in the 1930's, it was all farm land, with cows grazing. Opposite the pub "The Dover Patrol", which hadn't been built then, was a dairy farm, where we used to watch the cows being milked. All the way along Rochester Way, up to Well Hall Road, were orchards. Sometimes we would go down Pond Road and Foxes Dale, which were unmade roads then, at the bottom was a little wooden bridge which crossed a stream called the "Quaggy", which flowed through to Lewisham. Beyond the stream were meadows going all the way to Kidbrooke Station. During the war there was an R.A.F. Camp there.

To get to Blackheath and Greenwich Park, we had to go along Coleraine Road. Halfway along on right or west side of the road, was a gap between the houses, which took us down a bank, to a Place we called the "Combe". At the bottom of the bank, there was a dirty old pond, and some old water tanks and boilers which had been dumped there. It was in a big field with bushes, which was a wonderful place to explore and play, especially for boys. The field was enclosed by the houses in Coleraine Road, Westcombe Park Road, Foyle Road and Humber Road. It was all that was left of the garden of Westcombe Manor which stood where Peacham Road is, off Humber Road. It had been a beautiful garden at one time, with ornamental ponds. When the old house was pulled down and the fifty-five acre park surrounding it was built on during the 1880's, for some unknown reason, that was left.

© Albert W. Gearing

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