Southend Pond in front of Homebase (on the Bromley Road) is, I believe, a dam on the Ravensbourne River. From old photographs it seems it was bigger in the past – big enough for boating! The pond was originally the millpond for Upper Mill, on the corner of Beckenham Hill Road. The millpond was also used for watering the horses of those using the pub.
Peter Pan’s Park is a hidden, green space across the road from Homebase and here the Ravensbourne is briefly uncovered. The park is new, created, perhaps, in the spirit of increasing awareness of nature in cities.
Beckenham Manor was listed in the Domesday Book and belonged to the Bishop of Bayeaux. The Manor has had a varied history, with many owners over the years. Today Beckenham Place Park is owned by Lewisham Council: the house has been neglected and is not in good condition, and the park is a public golf course.
The river is hidden in the trees on the left of the photograph below, on the edge of the park. Ahead is Ash Plantation/Summerhouse Hill Wood, ancient woodland, i.e. woodland which existed before 1600. A second area of ancient woodland is Stumphill Wood on the western edge of the park.
The Ravensbourne makes it way through the houses to appear in a concrete culvert in Queen’s Mead Park. This area was originally meadows and a hop garden but in 1887 it was bought by the local council and turned into a recreational area in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. The river used to meander through the meadow, but was culverted at the same time as the change of use.
And finally the river widens at Glassmill Pond, just under Bromley High Street. What an amazing place! There was apparently a mill in this area since the time of the Domesday Book, and from 1795 the mill power was used to grind mirrors and lenses. This ended in 1832. The property now known as no.19 Glassmill Lane is a listed building dating from the late 18C and overlooking the now-defunct mill race. It was probably two cottages for employees of the mill. (There is an interesting description of the area in its heyday here.)
You may be interested in
The creation of Peter Pan’s Park
A circular walk which includes the Ravensbourne in Beckenham Place Park & here
London’s Lost Rivers – a comprehensive guide to the Ravensbourne, with photographs
The regeneration of Glassmill Pond: here, here
Information about Bromley
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