The Quaggy & its Tributaries

This page will eventually cover links to a series of posts elsewhere on the blog on the River Quaggy including both the main river and the known tributaries. In doing this, I am following in the footsteps of a sadly departed fellow fluvial flâneur, Ken White, whose wonderful “The Quaggy & Its Catchment Area” is available from the Quaggy Waterways Action Group – QWAG.

For readers familiar with Alfred Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells series, Ken White’s booklet has a lot of similarities in terms of style, hand drawn maps and diagrams – such as the map of the Quaggy and its tributaries, below (see footnote) and the beautiful handwritten text.

I am not in any way trying to recreate Ken White’s work on-line. I prefer to use old OS Maps and the landscape itself to trace the watercourses.

However, ‘The Quaggy & its Tributaries’, as well as a range of other sources, are there for when I need to double check or get some pointers where the brooks and streams flowed. Other than Quaggy itself, most of the watercourses have been either culverted or diverted into the surface water drainage system.

The parts of the water-course that are currently covered within the blog include, in broadly in north to south order:
Upper Kid Brook – which flowed from close to Shooters Hill Road through Blackheath to join the Quaggy by St Stephen’s Church in Lewisham  (updated August 2015)

Mid Kid Brook (current course) – which flows from around the location of the Brook Hospital through Kidbrook and the Cator Estate to join the Quaggy at Lee Green


Mid Kid Brook (original course in Lee) – including a lake/partial moat created in it, the Looking Glass of Lee, and a previously unnamed tributary of it which I have called Annesley’s Brook

Lower Kid Brook – which flowed from behind the Shooters Hill Police station to meet the Quaggy in John Roan School playing fields

Hither Green Ditch – whose course took it from just south of the Hither Green Cemetery to join the Quaggy close to Hither Green station, this includes a small unnamed tributary which is visible at Platform 5 at Hither Green along with a series of submerged tributaries flowing through the Corbett Estate.


Well Hall Stream – in 2 parts, Part 1 from Shooters Hill to Well Hall Pleasaunce, part 2 from Well Hall to the Quaggy in Sutcliffe Park 

Little Quaggy – a largely culverted stream rising in the borders of Chislehurst and Mottingham, which flows through The Tarn and emerges alongside the Sidcup bypass to join the Quaggy

Fairy Hall Flow – a tributary of the Little Quaggy in Mottingham, taking its name from the former appellation of Eltham College, rising in Elmstead Woods and joining the Little Quaggy on King John’s Walk – sadly it appears to be no longer flowing

Grove Park Ditch – a short stream rising in Lower Marvels Wood and for 400 metres has an almost rural feel before being hidden from view and re-emerging only at its confluence with the Quaggy by Sydenham Cottages

A stream with no name– a short stream in Grove Park

Border Ditch – a small in Grove Park that partially forms the boundary between Bromley and Lewisham

Milk Street Ditch – a short stream (with a longer tributary) in Sundridge Park

The Sundridge Park Ditches – a series of unnamed mainly former streams

Petts Wood Ditch & several unnamed streams flowing through the Hawkwood Estate to Kyd Brook, the name for the Quaggy at that point

The Quaggy 

The route from the sources near Locksbottom to the confluence with the Ravensbourne will appear in stages below:

The Kyd Brooks – Locksbottom to Petts Wood – Kyd Brook is the name for the Quaggy in its upper reaches, it shouldn’t be confused with the three Kid Brooks (see above)

Through Rural SE London and Suburbia – Petts Wood to the edges of Sundridge Park

Sundridge Park to Chinbrook Meadows – through an old country estate to a newly meandering course through a Lewisham Park

Chinbrook to Eltham Bridge – partly almost  rural, partly encased in concrete – heading northwards from Chinbrook Meadows to (almost) Sutcliffe Park.

Sutcliffe Park to Lee Green – still rural looking in places, but a stretch dominated by flood defences, a rejuvenated Sutcliffe Park and playing fields

Lee Green to Manor Park – the urban river passing between Victorian and Edwardian houses and two of south London’s finest parks

Manor Park to the Ravensbourne – the final stretch into Lewisham, stopping briefly to listen to Kate Bush and watch a Chariot Festival

The Quaggy and its neighboring rivers the Pool and Ravensbourne have often flooded, although the risk in the Quaggy catchment was reduced with the work to Sutcliffe Park – there is a separate post on the 1968 floods which covers all three rivers.

The journey is now complete – although some posts will no doubt be revisited with updates.  Running Past is moving on to the wider Ravensbourne catchment – if you want to receive updates follow me on WordPress or get e mail updates for new posts (see Home Page), ‘like’ me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter (@running_past).

Footnote – Ken White specifically allowed the copyright on the images in his booklet to expire on his death.



23 thoughts on “The Quaggy & its Tributaries

  1. Pingback: The Looking Glass of Lee & a Possible Previous Course of Mid Kid Brook | Running Past

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  3. christine stamper

    Interesting website. My grandmother left Brockley at the time of her marriage in 1899 and I believe had a picture of Old Quaggy. There is a pond at the centre of the picture surrounded by grass with a large church in the background behind trees.
    Could I email the photo to you please? I have been trying to establish where the photo was taken for a long time.
    Christine Stamper

    1. runner500 Post author

      Thank you and of course you can – will send you an email later today. If I can’t identify I am sure I will be able to find someone who can via Twitter.

  4. Pingback: Well Hall Stream – A Tributary of the Quaggy, Part 2 | Running Past

  5. I ://

    I used to I’ve I Eastdown Park went there in 1944 , after being bombed out in Blackheath ,the Qaggy was at the bottom of our garden , down a very big wall it used to come meaty up to the top when we had lots of rain . I used to somehow get down and walk to my aunts in Longhurst , to this day don’t no how I did that , pretty scary thought now 😔

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  8. ian layton

    When I was a kid in the 50’s, I lived off Crofton Lane in Romany Rise.At the bottom of the road was some green belt land. Beyond that was a farmer’s field then thick woodland. Beyond that was terra incognita – Bromley, around the bus depot – a place we never went. At the bottom of the green belt section, a stream separated it from the farmer’s field. The stream flowed in pretty much a straight line towards Petts Wood. It went underground near the Crofton Infants School. In the other direction, the stream flowed under Crofton Road near St. Paul’s Church. On the other side of Crofton Road, the stream sprang up in a thick wood of tall, seemingly-rotten trees. At the bottom of Romany Rise, a footpath led off sightly down to the left towards the stream. There was a bomb crater just before the stream, on the left side. I spent so much time there, observing the fantastic variety of wildlife. There were creatures in that crater that i have never seen elsewhere: hydra and cyclops water fleas, for instance. The only living things i noticed in the stream were freshwater shrimps.I have never heard of Quaggy,but it sounds weird. Would this stream be part of the quaggy system? I am talking about a time when the area between Crofton Road and the farmer’s field was just being developed for housing. It was called Gumping Common and there were three big trees in the middle, where owls roosted and dropped pellets. Once, we chased a badger there, in broad daylight!

    1. Paul B Post author

      What great memories Ian! Yes that stream is part of the Quaggy catchment – the river is known as Kyd Brook at that point and there is more about that section here It is the eastern branch which rises in private land to the south of Farnborough Common. I will add some of your comment into the post at some stage. Thanks for visiting.

      1. David Mercer

        At Crofton Lane school in fifties I regularly caught tadpoles and smooth newts in that bomb crater.We used to dam the kydbrook in the wood below the new school and catch sticklebacks all along Kydbrook but especially in the concreted section near Petts Wood Road.
        Skylarks nested by the dozen in the abandonned farmland on Left (west)bank.I left Crofton Lane Junior in 1959.

  9. david carter

    wonderful memories of a childhood in Mill road Lewisham ,near Lewisham station,the old mill had gone by the mid 1950,s,but the sluice gate and water shute still existed,had great fun damming up the river,type of stuff that keeps boys amused for hours,the area just before the mill must have been a large pool used for storing water in readiness for the mill to start turning,when we played there it had dried up and was just a small stream,you crossed the stream over a bridge that was once part of the mill to two tiny houses converted as small shops which led to a row of terraced houses very rough side of Lewisham,think they had suffered from regular flooding over the years,,appeared to have nothing but what they stood in and we thought we were hard up,mum always feared we would get polio by playing in the area,

  10. Pingback: Spring walk in the valleys of the Kid Brooks – 25th March 2018 | Quaggy Waterways Action Group

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  12. Chris Parish

    In about 1962 when I was about 10 myself and a friend crawled through a concrete tunnel containing the Little Quaggy near Kippington Drive off the Sidcup Road, Mottingham and came up under a metal grill in The Tarn. We couldn’t get out so had to crawl all the way back. I can remember passing all the rainwater drain inlets from the road! It seems crazy because it must be at least 500m! The bottom of this tunnel had a central gully holding the flowing water with a large flat area either side. I later realised that when it rains heavily the tunnel fills up part way so we could easily have drowned.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Wow! What fantastic memories! I suspect that a lot of us did similar things at that sort of age without understanding the potential consequences. With me it was hurtling down really narrow paths in a quarry on a bike with no brakes and massive drops on one side.

    2. Babs

      Me too! With my cousins, aged 5 to 8 years old. We used to go out on hot sunny days in our wellington boots, to “paddle in the Quaggy”, taking our coloured torches with us. By the railway bridge allotments and freight depot (scene a few years later of the Hither Green Railway disaster), were concrete tunnels, where we would crawl in and paddle along in the dark. sometimes there would be a broken iron grid and we would walk along behind peoples back gardens to behind Oxenburghs in Lee high Road. One day we came out by Chiesmans Department store. These were the days before the Lewisham floods, after which the stream was canalised with concrete and the tunnels in St Mildred’s Road Lee buried and directed underground. Yes indeed, we children of the fifties were able to play outdoors unsupervised, unaware of the very real dangers we managed to escape! Our adult relatives had no idea what we were up to and where we were going. We once had a narrow escape from being crushed in a landslide when playing in “caves” in the Lewisham sand quarry, which we called The Sand Pits.

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  16. David Clinker

    I was researching the past of the Cray & Shuttle system and came across a 1760 map. It could be inaccurate, of course, but it shows the Quaggy not heading to Lewisham but starting in the Lee area and going south then east to join the Shuttle/Cray. The Quaggy southern tributary heads north from beyond Southborough then also turns east to Lamorbey and the Shuttle. My conjecture is that damming for ornamental lakes at big houses possibly changed the flows, and feeder brooks became rivers, and vice versa. I have no expert knowledge at all; I just thought you’d like to see the map. I don’t like posting full links so to see it add https:// to (uu is the University of Utrecht).


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