I continued my journey round the Capital ring on a long walk of 8¾ miles which started at Marvels Lane where I finished the last one. This is now unfamiliar territory to me as I am not familiar with these areas at all, although I have been to Crystal Palace Park a few times. As trains to Grove Park station don’t go where I want them to go I took the bus to Lewisham and changed to go to Grove Park Station, actually on the edge of Downham. The walk is mainly through parks and country lanes but has a few suburban streets and is therefore not particularly interesting. That said there are some excellent views. These are distant views of places and the camera does not do these sorts of views justice- you have to be there!
Arthur Mee has a bit to say about Downham. Named after a chairman of the London County Council it is a model town on 500 acres with 6000 attractive cottages with gardens. One of the streets with some woodland in its central reservation was called Undershaw Road a shaw being a copse! One of Downham’s great facilities is a narrow strip of ancient woodland. This is well maintained and does not seem to be used as a rubbish dump which is often the fate of such places. In fact the whole estate seems to have worn very well in the 70 years it has been up. There are two Coöperative stores here- Downham which is a smaller store and Downham Tavern which is a large store. Both busy when I called. There were views of Canary wharf and docklands from Undershaw Road, which is at quite a high level. Surprisingly high!
Past some of the shops and into another park, Lewisham seem to keep their parks better than Greenwich, which had the Ravensbourne River running through it. Across a railway line and into Beckenham Place Golf club which has a large mansion as its club house. This is Beckenham Place Mansion only open to golfers but perhaps that way its safety is secured unlike Danson House in Bexley. There were some very attractive houses and blocks of flats on Porchester Road. This is an area where a lot of firms have sports and social clubs- these are usually large firms, such as HSBC etc. Then on in the walk went through several parks culminating at Crystal Palace Park where I walked round the maze and admired the remains of the palace. A friend of a friend had a theory that the Government were behind the fire as it was an attraction to German bombers but there is no evidence for this. It must have been a really impressive structure though. Bromley Council run Crystal Palace Park and Bromley have been most unhelpful for the guide leaflets to the capital ring. When I can do the next stage depends on when I get leaflet No 4 – Crystal Palace to Streatham Common. People who read the liberal press will be aware how useless Bromley Council is anyway.
Crystal Palace (upper Norwood) is where 5 boroughs meet- Lambeth, Lewisham, Bromley, Croydon and Southwark.
Upper Norwood Public Library is a curious anomaly- it is jointly funded by Lewisham and Croydon but is independent of both those boroughs. It seemed well stocked and in good order in a modernised historic building. Although notices were posted saying staff did not always have resources to assist enquirers they would do their best. They seemed to be doing very well indeed.
Finished the day at a private view of Carl Hoare’s paintings, which were extremely good, although I thought they were more suitable for a gallery than for a private home.