Well Hall Stream – A Tributary of the Quaggy, Part 2

Last week we left Well Hall Stream in slight suspense – just outside Well Hall Pleasaunce. The public park dates from the 1930s when William Barefoot, persuaded Woolwich Borough Council to buy the current Pleasaunce. The centrepiece of the park is the Tudor Barn, which despite its name dates from the early 17th century, although previous moated buildings on the site can be traced back to 1253.

Running Past has visited the Pleasaunce before, when tracing the homes of E Nesbit in Lewisham and Eltham. She lived there between 1899 and 1920 at Red House, which was demolished when the Pleasaunce was created.

The gardens were designed by the Borough Engineers, J Sutcliffe and H W Tee, the former gave his name to Sutcliffe Park, a little further downstream.

Well Hall Stream seems to enter via the moat, or originally did – possibly along with smaller streams from the North and North East – older Ordnance Survey maps seem to suggest this. There is a small trickle coming in from the right direction (in the bottom left picture below), whether it is the remnants of the Stream is unclear though.


There is a clear direction of flow for the Stream away from the moat – but there is no running water in it, perhaps it flows in really wet conditions, only little bits of dampness were visible.


The course of the stream would then have been more or less westwards, skirting the edge of playing fields before being crossed by the A2 and railway in quick succession. The original route would have then taken it through some neglected woodland sandwiched between the railway and Horsfeld Road – amidst the detritus, a ditch is visible, but dry.


The Stream would have crossed the South Circular and then meandered through the Eltham Green estate, there are hints of a course with a slight dip near the junction of Pinnell and Shawbrook Roads. It probably crossed Eltham Green Road near Messant Road before joining the Quaggy in Sucliffe Park. There is no current evidence of an confluence, the stream probably having been diverted a century ago.


Ken White (1) suggests that there was another small tributary of the Quaggy in this area – Eltham Green Ditch. Certainly there was a stream around Eltham Green which is clear from Victorian Ordnance Survey maps. However, my reading of the OS map surveyed in the mid 1860s (see below) is that it seems more likely to have been a partial diversion, a distributary, of the Well Hall Stream as it exits Well Hall, which then joined the Quaggy close to Eltham Bridge, just before entering Sutcliffe Park.


As has been noted by in the Thames Facing East blog, Kidbrooke was marshy farmland covered with drainage ditches and several small streams (several already covered here before) so it is difficult to be totally sure.


1 Ken White, “The Quaggy & Its Catchment Area”



8 thoughts on “Well Hall Stream – A Tributary of the Quaggy, Part 2

  1. Roger Hawkins

    Two contributions on the Well Hall Stream:
    1 The outlet from the Pleasaunce was “improved” by burying a large concrete pipe across the Woolwich Polytechnic playing fields to the South Circular at the Westhorne Avenue railway bridge. It crossed the Poly Tennis courts and then ran outside the embankment for the Poly bowling green, alongside the junior rugby pitch and across the back of the senior rugby pitch. It then ran parallel to the senior rugby pitch and alongside the footpath between the two railway bridges. This probably took place in the 1960s.
    2 The Well Stream ran underground at the rear of houses 1 through 9 Meadowside, (odds). I recall the conduit being “improved” and subsequently the rear of my grandparents back garden sinking.

  2. Paul Clements

    Is Roger “entitled” to any compensation for the havoc caused to his grandparents back garden? I suspect I know the answer already!!

    1. Paul B Post author

      I rather suspect that it is probably a little late for any claims now!

      However, I do find these recollections of past flooding and related issues fascinating. Roger’s mention of 9 Meadowside is really interesting. It is a lot further north than I was expecting for the Well Hall Stream and I think probably relates to Lower Kid Brook – it certainly flows around there from a source behind the old police station on Shooters Hill – I covered it a while ago here. My guess would be that changes to the culverts for LKB may have been done at around the time the Ferrier was developed. Roger may be able to confirm that.

      I’ve retraced that bit of the Stream last weekend using the side by side option on the National Library of Scotland comparing a current map with a pre-development one – it looks as though the final course of the Stream, north of the South Circular, was crossing the central grassed area of Katherine Gardens, crossing Shawbrook Road with a small pond in the gardens of Messant Road, then crossing the other end of Meadowside, before entering the Quaggy – roughly where the current small bridge south west of the lake is. At some stage I will retrace that bit on the ground to see whether there are any evidence of it.

      I’ll do a proper update on this – hopefully at the weekend.

      1. Roger Hawkins

        Looking up other details and maps mentioned elsewhere on the site, the stream at the rear of Number 9 Meadowside was the Lower Kidbrooke, not the Well Hall stream, which flowed across the Polytechnic sports grounds.

        On exit from the culvert under the rear gardens of 1 thru 9 Meadowside the stream formed the boundary between Council allotments and the Post Office van refurbishment factory

      2. Paul B Post author

        Yes, it is certainly Lower Kid Brook – from Meadowside it would have been culverted under the Ferrier and then flowed under Kidbrooke Park Road around the edge of the John Roan playing fields to join the Quaggy next to a lovely and surprising boundary marker.

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