Tag Archives: Oxleas Wood

Well Hall Stream – A Tributary of the Quaggy, Part 1

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3

…. well Part 2, if I am honest…. but a chance listening to Ian Dury’s song, got me thinking positive thoughts.

My last post about not-running saw me returned home after a serious accident and an operation to fix a cracked vertebra in my neck.

While I am some distance off running, there have been some massive steps forward on the road to recovery. The pain is reduced, I have weened myself off painkillers, I am sleeping normally, my mobility is much improved and I am attempting to maintain my cardio-vascular fitness with something that is in practice close to an indoor recumbent cycle.

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More importantly though, while I am while off being able to lace up my running shoes, I am getting out and about on foot with my walks getting up to just over 2 miles (3 km for you metric people). My urban wanderings have taken me to some of my frequent running haunts – St Margaret’s Churchyards, the refurbished 1882 lychgate to the new churchyard is above, and the tomb of the Boone family, who lived at Lee Place, from the old is below.

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I passed the blue plaque of polar explorer James Clark Ross in Eliot Place, on the edge of Blackheath, which I had oddly never noticed before.

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And the detail on the Blackheath Concert Halls which I have seen hundreds of times before but never tire of.

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A midweek walk, was to somewhere where I have done cross country races, Oxleas Woods, and with the level of mud some 15 mm spikes would have not gone amiss. The light was beautiful and the views towards western fringes of Kent magnificent.

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I can be cheerful though because I know that I am lucky, given the speed I seem to have been hit at it was probably 50:50 as to whether I lived or died. That my body and brain are both functioning still amazes me a month on, and there are still tears of joy at odd moments several times a weeks. I look forward to running but, for now, I am just content to be able to still wander.