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A Chance to see the Boundary Stream


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#1 Chris Doran

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 10:43 PM

Maintenance work has removed a section of the cover on the culverted Boundary Stream at the junction of Beckenham Road and Penge High Street, outside Tesco's. For the first time in well over a century, water can be seen flowing at this spot.

The Stream, also known as the River Wilmore or more mundanely the Shire Ditch, marked the boundary not only between Beckenham and Penge, but also between Kent and Surrey or London, whichever county Penge was in at the time. Its source is believed to be South Norwood Lake, and it now runs underground for its entire length behind houses in Marlow Road, Ravenscroft Road, and Reddons Road into Cator Park where it joins with The Beck and Chaffinch Brook to form The Pool River. One end of the bridge in Avenue Road is still visible, and Pelham Road becomes Oak Grove Road where it crosses.

Lengths were culverted at various times, finishing with the Reddons Road/Cator Park stretch in the 1960s after frequent flooding in the park area. Before this, the Boundary Stream ran across Cator Park from Aldersmead Road where there is now a footpath. It had sloping concrete banks you could run up and down, and the other streams in Cator Park had open earth banks. Concrete channels and fences mean that children today are no longer able to paddle and catch tiddlers.

#2 Ziwa

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 04:15 PM

Thanks for this posting Chris...the lost rivers underground are really something special to think about as we navigate a largely remodeled landscape.

Any chance you could take some photos and contribute them to the Wiki? Perhaps we could develop a lost waterways an landforms section (get Axean on the mapping tasks).

#3 Ziwa

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Posted 15 September 2007 - 04:57 PM

...and I just came across this site, Derelict London, which has a section on waterways, including lost rivers: http://www.derelictlondon.com/id13.htm Post something there!

#4 Mantis2K

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 08:35 AM

Here's some photos I took yesterday; is this the one?
http://localhistory.....com/river1.jpg
http://localhistory.....com/river2.jpg
http://localhistory.....com/river3.jpg
http://localhistory.....com/river4.jpg
http://localhistory....ce.com/1829.jpg
The above map has an 1829 date attached to it and shows the boundary between Surrey and Kent as well as the Pool River and associated rivulets, including the one Chris mentioned. This map also shows what I believe to be Rockhills; anyone know when it was built?

Edit: Need to copy and paste the links into a new window of your web browser (pop-up/remote linking not supported by webhost)

Edited by Mantis2K, 17 September 2007 - 08:45 AM.


#5 Chris Doran

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:27 AM

That's it. Very difficult to get a good photo because of all the pipes, safety grids, and shadows. The best one I got of flowing water also has my thumb in it!. But I'll keep going back.

In the background of river2.jpg you can see the two adjacent road name signs by the house on the left, which is the last house in Penge High Street, next to the first in Beckenham Road. That's where the river emerged on the other side. I have a postcard c 1920 of it running alongside Kent House Road. Its route from that point to The Pool differs from map to map.

The map shows Penge's other best-documented stream, wiggling its way across the Common. According to a 1919 geological map, it also still exists, running from Cintra Park across the St Hugh's and Groves estates, down Green Lane (which may be why it's called "Green"), and between flats in Thesiger Road to join the Boundary Stream behind Cator Park School.

There is said to be a third one running along the Penge/Beckenham border through CP Park to Parish Lane, but I've never seen it on a map. It may be the reason there is a valley, crossed by a girder bridge on the railway, near the junction of Station Road and Crampton Road, and running water can be heard at a manhole in Station Road (but that could just be a sewer).

If by Rockhills you mean Penge Place, that was a little downhill of Paxton's Rockhills. I think the date is known. I'll start a new topic if I can find it. Some other early maps show a "Rock Hills Common" or "Rockhills Field" a little above the "Penge Place" legend.

Clues to interpretation of the map: Clay Lane is now Elmers End Road, Becks Lane is partly Churchfields Road, and Beckett Walk is built on the site of "Kent House" (farm). The road running beneath "Penge Place" is now the Grand Centre Walk of the Park, CP Park Road having been built by Paxton to take traffic around it.

#6 Mantis2K

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 12:28 PM

I'm interested to find out the year Joseph Paxton's Rockhills mansion was built and also Penge Place (formerly Swingate Farm). I would like to know when Swingate Farm became Penge Place and if the building was altered in any way or rebuilt at that time. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any decent history books on Penge. I'm trying to find out about the early developments on Penge Common after it was enclosed in 1837 (I've got the map of this) and when Anerley Gardens was opened etc. More questions: when was Anerley Hill laid across the common and what were the earliest buildings on this road? What are the oldest surviving buildings in Penge? You see, just lot's of general questions on my mind about topics that aren't covered in any books I've come across (yet). Any photos of Anerley Gardens? Have you heard of an oil painting of Penge Common?

Edited by Mantis2K, 17 September 2007 - 12:30 PM.


#7 NickJ

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Posted 03 October 2007 - 12:55 PM

Many thanks for alerting us to that, Chris. My wife and I have both been to gawp, as the stream has been left uncovered for some time. Bit sluggish - until it rained, when it really began to gush. It might seem a bit odd getting excited about an underground stream, but they can be fascinating. Honestly.
We once did a walk through central London following the course of the Tyburn river. At one point, Marylebone Lane breaks out of the surrounding grid of streets and meanders, following the course of the underground river. I have to say we became unfeasibly excited at the point where we could actually hear the flowing water through a grating!

#8 Chris Doran

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 02:09 AM

A chance to see a bit more, as they are now doing some work where the stream crosses Elmers End Road, near to Ash Grove/Bourdon Road. When I looked on 6th May there was just a small hole, but water could be seen running beneath it.

An early picture of the stream at this point appears towards the end of "Penge 5" in Gallery 3 at the Beckenham History site.

Edited by Chris Doran, 08 May 2010 - 02:10 AM.