Unlike some of the other tributaries of the Quaggy, the early stages of Well Hall Stream are obvious; there seem to be at least three sources relatively high up on Shooters Hill. There are a couple of small streams tumbling down through Jackwood on the southern side of Shooters Hill – just to the east of Sevendroog Castle. One of these has a clear valley and is big enough to have a bridge crossing it on the path through the woods and has a clear flow in wet weather.
There is also a rather soggy area just below the café on the western side of Oxleas Meadow – this would seem to be a spring and there a clear signs of fluvial erosion there both on the ground and the tell-tell upward pointing notches of contours on Ordnance Survey maps.
All three of these sources were constrained by concrete when leaving the meadow or woodland to enter culverts under Crookston Road when the houses were built in the 1930s. Whether the water is piped down its previous course or enters the road drainage system is unclear.
In the very soggy winter of 2013/14 the culvert to the east either became blocked or couldn’t cope with the flows – oddly these seem to be the responsibility of residents to maintain. Flooding resulted and residents dug a small drainage channel just inside the meadow to divert the flow away from the houses and onto Rochester Way. It was still visible two winters on.
While there is no evidence of water on the hillside outside the woods, the former course of streams route away from Jackwood are clear to the fluvial flâneur – there is a small switchback with two little eroded notches in Dairsie Road that the developers didn’t fill.
The streams would probably have crossed what is now Rochester Way before coalescing into a a single flow somewhere around Dumbreck Road. There is a gentle downward fall towards the source of the stream’s name – Well Hall – the former route is obvious from the curvature of the thin brown sepia lines of the Ordnance Survey map but much less so on the ground.
I had hoped to hear the sound of submerged water from beneath manhole covers, but the only audible flows on a quiet Sunday afternoon were those of traffic streaming along the nearby, and also partially submerged A2.
The route became clear again with gentle depressions on both Glenesk and Westmount Roads. There is a rather attractive Methodist chapel, built in 1906 on the northern ‘bank’ of the stream at the junction of Earlshall and Westmount Roads. It replaced a ‘tin church’ on the same site and was opened as Walford Green Memorial Church. Walford Green was an important local figure in Methodism rather a predecessor of a fictional E20 square.
Even on the oldest Ordnance Survey maps the stream isn’t always visible here, presumably having suffered from minor diversions to allow the cultivation of the farms that emerged after the break-up of the Royal Parks at Eltham Palace – something covered before in the blog in relation to Horn Park Farm. The farm here was Park Farm. It was also home to a 1000 yard rifle range on the first OS survey in the 1860s.
The stream continues down Earlshall Road which starts to have a look of the Catford – Hither Green border; this is not surprising, it is another ‘Corbett Estate’ of a similar vintage – it is ‘carbon-dated’ via the impressive and imposing looking early Edwardian school – Gordon Primary School, which has retained temporary classrooms from WW1 when the area upstream was home to temporary housing for Woolwich munitions workers and their families.
Not long after, and again with a slight depression in the road, the stream ’emerges’ into Well Hall Road and then into the eponymous Pleasaunce.
The journey of Well Hall Stream to the Quaggy in what is now Sutcliffe Park will be concluded next week.