Tag Archives: Hocum Pocum Lane

Following the Quaggy – Manor Park to the Ravensbourne

We left the Quaggy just outside Manor Park having seen the park’s rejuvenation  from one of Lewisham’s worst bits of open space to one of its best, before that Running Past had followed the Quaggy from its sources around Locksbottom; then on through Petts Wood, the Hawkwood Estate, Chislehurst and Bickley, through the golf courses of Sundridge Park and on to Chinbrook Meadows; through the concrete and countryside of Mottingham; and then on through the playing fields and parkland of Sutcliffe Park and the Lee/Blackheath borders.
We left the river at an old crossing, although relatively new bridge that formed part of Hocum Pocum Lane; we continue along the Lane although it is now referred to as Weardale Road.  Unusually, it is visible for a short stretch as the western side of Weardale Road remains undeveloped, in spring it is a riot of colour from the plants that have colonised the banks.  The bridge is a great place for seeing the iridescent blue blur of the kingfisher – often sighted almost skimming the surface of the water, with occasional sightings of egrets and herons fishing in the shallows.
After 100 metres or so It bends sharply to the left, on the bend, in a tight triangular site, is almost certainly the finest modern building on the Quaggy – 22 Weardale Road – designed by and Anglo-Dutch architectural practice 31/44.
A little further on is the Rose of Lee pub, latterly called the Dirty South although it has gone through several names in the last 25 years.  It opened around 1900 and, perhaps, it’s greatest claim to fame was that it was the first venue that Kate Bush played.  It suffered damage and looting during the 2011 riots that spread across numerous locations in London in early August, it looked as though it was to become another lost Lewisham pub.  There were occasional signs of life and a few drinkers during 2016, but it took until 2017 to have a major revamp and re-open as the Dirty South in late October 2017.
Around here the Quaggy was once joined by Mid Kid Brook which used to flow  more or less alongside Lee High Road from close to Lee Green, its former valley is clear in places.  However, it was diverted to follow Lee Road to Lee Green, probably around the early 18th century.
The river is bridged by Eastdown Park, a bridge that was partially destroyed in a flooding in 1878 in an era when flooding seemed more common.
On the west side of f the Eastdown Park bridge (to the left of the photograph) is currently Penfolds garage – the remaining part of a company that used to have three bases locally, including taking over Lee Picture Palace as a car showroom in the 1970s. The usage of the site, which used to be home to a Baptist Chapel (below – source eBay April 2016), is about to change again – this time to flats.
The river follows a tight channel, built on both sides, occasionally over it – such as by KwikFit. The banks had been almost rural on the south-eastern side of until the College Park Estate in the late 1860s as the map below shows (on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland).
By the next bridge, over Clarendon Rise, is without a doubt the most attractive riverside building on The Quaggy, a Hindu Temple, the London Sivan Kovil.  In September each year it is the venue for probably the most stunningly beautiful site in Lewisham – the Chariot Festival.
Attempts continue to be made either side of the Clarendon Road bridge to slow down flows through artificial meanders, while this allows some of the normal fluvial erosion and depositions on rivers in their natural state and thus will help a little with plant growth, it will be of little use in high flows though.
Soon after Clarendon Rise, just behind Lewis Grove, the Quaggy is covered at what used to be known as Lee Bridge.  Like much of the area upstream this too was liable to flooding – on an earlier Facebook thread on the river further upstream there were stories of what was then the Midland Bank (postcard from eBay September 2016) flooding in and notes floating around the flooded basement of the bank.
Historically, flooding was very common around Lee Bridge, this 1968 photograph, outside the Odeon (formerly Gaumont) Cinema commonly shown in relation to Lewisham flooding will probably relate to both the Quaggy and  Ravensbourne though – see comments below.
The extent of the covering of the Quaggy has varied over time, the recent development of the police station offered an opportunity to extend its visibility but it wasn’t taken and there is less of the Quaggy open now than there was a century ago as the postcard below shows (source – eBay February 2016).
The river currently re-emerges in front of St Stephen’s church, having first been joined by Upper Kid Brook. There used to be two arms to the Quaggy at this point – one by the former Roebuck pub, the second by the former Plough as the map below shows ( (Image on a Creative Commons from the National Library of Scotland). Both pubs disappeared in the early 2000s, as part of the redevelopment of Lewisham town centre.
The river broadly follows the course by the former Plough Bridge (left photo above) but at the time of writing, the confluence with the Ravensbourne is hidden in the middle of the Lewisham Gateway development which has rendered the area around the station almost unrecognisable.  Eventually, the confluence with the Ravensbourne will be in a small park, Confluence Place, but it may be a wait until the reality is anywhere near the architect’s impression.
Advertisements

Hocum Pocum Lane – an old Hither Green Street

Hocum Pocum Lane was a former name of what is now Dermody Road in Hither Green; it was known by a number of variants including Hokum Pokum or Hocus Pocus. It was part of an ancient footpath that started opposite St Mary’s church, following roughly what is now Romborough Way, then the footpath by the side of Canada Gardens, following Ryecroft Road before joining what is now Dermody Gardens and Road crossing the Quaggy roughly where the current pedestrian bridge is now and then following what is now Weardale Road to Lee High Road.

eastdown

Map Source – National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/view/102343453

There was a fork in the right of way around Ryecroft Road where another route headed towards the early settlement of Rumbergh or Romborough which was centred around the junction of Hither Green Lane and George Lane – which was covered a while ago in the blog.

20140505-164057.jpg

It has been suggested that the name comes from ‘latin’ mumbled by locals along what was a dark lane to ward off the devil and footpads. Attacks by ne’er do wells in the area were featured by the 19th century Lee Historian, F W Hart, who pointed to

  • An attack in 1813 on the parish constable in this area by a sheep stealer;
  • An attack on some of the Martin family of bankers who were travelling back from Lombard Street in the City to their home in Chislehurst; and
  • Pistols, lantern and jemmies were found hidden in a hedge near Lee High Road (close to the Rose of Lee) presumably around the same time.

Hart also asserted that ‘medical gentlemen, too, on their journeys from Greenwich to Lee, when attending their patients, never went without arming themselves with a brace of pistols’ and that Lee in the early to mid-19th century ‘was so rural as to be unsafe to be about after dusk’.  Mr Hart though was not always the most reliable narrator….

The area around Hocum Pocum Lane had been one of nurseries in the first half of the 19th century – the main one being the then renowned Lewisham Nursery, run in its later years by Willmott and Chaundy, which finally closed in 1860.  Amongst the plants they specialised in was wisteria – although the street name seems to come from a 14th century name for the hillside leading down to the Quaggy (1).

The closure of the nursery in 1860 was to sell the land for development, and as FW Hart notes

a number of genteel houses, which have been constructed with astonishing rapidity on Eastdown Park, and which are daily augmenting, being much sought after by those whose business is in the city, and who seek a residence here.

The early ones and the current street pattern can be seen from the 1870 Ordnance Survey map above (source)  which was surveyed in 1863.  Many of those early houses didn’t survive that long – Clyde Villa and Campbell Villa made way for the Edwardian Telephone Exchange, covered on the blog in July 2015; and Ashburton and Eastdown Villas too were short lived.  It may be that two of their gateposts survived – one is on the corner of Wisteria Road – although they could be earlier and relate to Lewisham Nursery.

hocum

Top left clockwise – gatepost from early development, current view along Hocum Pocum Lane (Weardale Road) towards Lee High Road from bridge over Quaggy, looking up ‘Hocum Pocum Lane’ (Dermody Road)

Development continued apace and by the time the Ordnance Survey mapmakers returned to survey the area in 1893 the street pattern and most of the housing was mainly as it is now.

Presumably it those marketing the homes, particularly on the former Hocum Pocum Lane itself, felt that the well-to-do of the new London suburb would rather that their street was not associated with term relating to something untrue or insincere (or a magical term with the Hocus Pocus variant).  So instead, the road was renamed in 1879 after an alcoholic Irish poet who had died in a Sydenham hovel and buried at St Mary’s Church – Thomas Dermody, whose sad story was covered in the blog 18 months ago.

Anyone following the link to the 1893 surveyed OS map will see that what is now Leahurst Road is marked as Ennersdale Road, which then was a dog-leg – the name was changed a year or two later when Leahurst Road was developed to the south.  The house of the corner with Dermody Road has a just visible street sign marking its former name.

ennersdale

Note

  1. Joan Read (1990) Lewisham Street Names & Their Origins (Before 1965)