infobox UK place
country = England
The name 'Brockley' is derived from either 'Broca's woodland clearing', or a wood where
badgers are seen ("broc" is the Old English for badger).
The oldest surviving house in the area is the 'Stone House' on Lewisham Way (opposite
Lewisham College) built in 1773 by the architect George Gibson the Younger. Most of the area remained agricultural until the mid nineteenth century, the most notable building of the time being the ' Brockley Jack',(since rebuilt) a large Victorian public house which today houses the Brockley Jack Theatre. Brockley Hall(demolished 1931) stood nearby and this area formed the original small hamlet of Brockley. The name Crofton Parkwas invented by the railway company for its new station and has no historical significance. Brockley market gardens were famous for their enormous Victoria rhubarbwhich were fertilised by 'night soil' from London. There were orchards too and some ancient fruittrees survive in local gardens. Until the late 19th century a small river flowed northward from Crofton Park and east of Malpas Rd to join the River Thamesvia Deptford Creek. It is now covered over.
Industrial development arrived in 1809 in the form of the
Croydon Canalrunning fron Croydonto Bermondsey. This was later filled in and replaced by the London & Croydon railwaywhich runs through the original canal cutting between Brockley (opened in 1871) and New Cross Gate stations. The west side of the cutting now forms a woodland nature reserve managed by the London Wildlife Trust. Some of the oldest houses in Brockley are the tiny cottages and shops which form a small terrace on Coulgate street, just east of Brockley station. These are believed to date from 1833 and were probably originally associated with the canal. From 1872 Until 1917 Brockley Lane railway stationprovided access to the Greenwich Park branchline and the remains of the old station entrance are still visible at Brockley Cross.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the
Tyrwhitt- Drakefamily developed the north side of Brockley with grand villas, large terraces and semi-detached houses. Development started south of Lewisham Way in the late 1840's with the modest cottages at 2-22 Upper Brockley Rd and spread south and east towards Hilly Fields. In 1900 Chalsey Rd was the last road to be completed within the current conservation area. However open farmland remained south of Brockley Grove and west of the railway line into the early 1930s.
Many grand houses in Brockley were occupied by the owners and managers of factories in neighbouring industrial areas such as Deptford and Bermondsey. At 63 Breakespears Rd, lived Edwin Watts, owner of 'ER Watts and Son', a mathematical instrument making company in Camberwell Rd. Charles Booth's Map of London Poverty (1900) describes the residents of Wickham Rd and Breakspears Rd as "well-to-do" or "wealthy". (The actress
Lillie Langtrywas one notable resident during this period). The terraced streets west of Brockley Rd were more mixed: "comfortable and poor". The Artist/Poet David Jones; whose father was a printer, grew up in Howson Rd. The writer Henry Williamsonwhose father was a bank clerk was born in nearby Braxfield Rd.
Brockley contains several fine churches:
St Mary Magdalen's RC Church, Howson Road(Completed in 1901), St Peter's, Wickham Rd(Completed 1870) St Andrews, Brockley Rd(1882) originally a Presbyterian Church, which contains the modern stained glass New Cross Firememorial window (2002) and St Hilda's, Crofton Park 1908. The latter was designed by J E Newberryin the Arts and Crafts movementstyle and still contains its original interior. [ [http://www.croftonpark.com/sainthildas/archive/1900-1919.htm St. Hilda's with St. Cyprian's Church, Crofton Park, London, SE4 ] ]
World War IBrockley began to lose its exclusivity as the wealthy moved away often to the outer suburbs. The typical inter-war houses on Upper Brockley Gardens and on Harefield Rd are clearly more modest than their Victorian neighbours.
Rivoli Ballroom(originally a cinema) dates from 1913 but was remodeled as a dance hall in 1951. It has a unique and outstanding interior, which has featured in many films, videos and fashion shoots (see Guardian Magazine10 Nov 07). In 2007 The White Stripesrock band played a secret gig here. The building has recently been listed (2007) and is now protected from demolition.
The area suffered significant
V-2 rocketand other bomb damage in World War IIand the post-war blocks of council flats at the south end of Wickham Rd and at the west end of Adelaide Ave are evidence of this. During the Second World Waran anti-aircraft gunimplacement was located on Hilly Fields.
After the Second World War, many of the big houses were sub-divided for multiple occupation. In the 1950s and 1960s these houses provided accommodation for the recently arrived
African-Caribbeanpopulation, many of whom found employment in nearby Deptford. In 1948, five passengers bound for England from Jamaicaon the ship Empire Windrushgave Wickham Road as their intended destination on arrival in London.(Anim-Addo 1995)
Formerly part of the county of Kent, Brockley become a part of the
County of Londonin 1889. In 1965 Greater Londonwas created and the former area of the Metropolitan Borough of Deptford, including Brockley, was absorbed into the newly formed London Borough of Lewisham.
Much of north Brockley was designated a
Conservation Areain 1974 and in the same year the Brockley Societywas formed with the aim of preserving and protecting the character of the area. Brockley is today one of the best preserved and most coherent Victorian suburbs in Inner London and contains examples of almost every style of mid to late C19th domestic architecture from vast Gothic Revival piles to modest workmen's cottages. It is this contrast which makes the area unique.
By the late 1990s SE London's 'best kept secret' was being 'discovered' by many young professionals moving from north or west London in search of more spacious accommodation and a greener, quieter environment. 'Boho' Cafes such as '
Moonbow Jakes' and ' Toads Mouth Too' have been followed by a cluster of delicatessens, a whole food shop, a farmers market and 'The Sunflower Centre' offering 'complementary health and lifestyle'.
The extension of the East London Line, to be renamed
London Overground(scheduled for completion in 2010), will connect Brockley with the tube network and is encouraging some new residential development around Brockley stationin the north of the area.
In 2002 the
Brockley Cross Action Groupwas set up with the aim of influencing the regeneration of the Brockley Cross area and has been instrumental in the restoration of Brockley Commonand the greening of several derelict sites around Brockley.
Meanwhile, to the south of the area, around
Crofton Parktrain station, a number of new shops and bars suggest this district is also enjoying something of resurgence in fortunes.
Although mainly residential in character, there are several large green spaces in the area, amongst them
Blythe Hill, Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries(opened in 1858 and now a nature reserve) and Hilly Fields. The latter was saved from development by the Commons Preservation Societyand local groups in the 1880s and 1890s (including Octavia Hill, one of the founders of the National Trust). In 1896, after being bought with the proceeds of private donations and funding from the London County Council, the fields were transformed from old brickpits and ditches into a park. The park became a regular meeting place for the Suffragettemovement between 1907 and 1914.
The old West Kent Grammar School (later renamed Brockley County Grammar School), now
Prendergast School, a Grade II listed building, is situated at the top of the hill. The School hall contains the ' Brockley murals'. Dating from 1932-35 by Charles Mahoney, Evelyn Dunbarand other students of the Royal College of Art, they are considered some of the best examples in the country of the Neo-Romanticstyle and illustrate many local scenes.
Close by, a
stone circlewas erected in 2000 as a millennium project by a group of local artists, which won a Civic TrustAward in 2004. The Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayrehas been running for over 30 years and is a much celebrated annual community event. At 160ft above sea level, Hilly Fields has wide views from Shooters Hillto Crystal Palace and the North Downsin Kent.
Adjacent to the train track between Brockley and New Cross Gate Train Stations lies the Brockley Nature Reserve. It provides a natural haven for many flora and fauna.
The Arts in Brockley
Like its neighbour
Telegraph Hill, Brockley has a reputation as a focus for the Arts in South London. The 1970s saw the beginning of a ' bohemian' influx of artists, musicians and hippies attracted by the neglected and (at the time very cheap) Victorian houses and vast rambling gardens and the close proximity to Goldsmiths Collegeand Camberwell School of Art. Many artists have built studios in their gardens. In the 1990s, 68 Wickham Rd was the scene of many legendary parties and events hosted by musician and club promoter Simon Palmer.
Lewisham Art Househoused in a grand Edwardianbuilding (which was formerly Deptford Library) on Lewisham Way, provides art classes, studio and exhibition space. The library building is a Carnegie Librarymade possible by the philanthropy of the indrustialist Andrew Carnegie. It opened in 1914 and is designed by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas. [http://www.arthouse.dircon.co.uk/Arthouse/Arthouse%20NEW%20website/history.html] The Brockley Jack Theatrehas recently been refurbished and has a high reputation for performances of new plays and is the home of the Brockley Jack Film Club. Each summer local artists host a thriving Brockley Open Studiosweekend. Since 2004 Brockley has also hosted the Brockley Maxperforming arts festival involving many local musicians and singers.
Tea Leaf Arts is a new community art gallery housed in the renovated Tea Factory building in Brockley Cross, and is scheduled to open in September 2008.
Combined with neighbouring
Ladywellward, Brockley has six Green Party councillors, one of the highest in the UKclarifyme.
Athlete (band),(formed 1999) keyboard player Tim Wanstall grew up around and still lives in Brockley. The band used to rehearse at the Bear Cafe in Deptford High St.
Rosie Barnes, MP for Greenwich (1987 - 1992), Chief Executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust (1996 - date), lives on Tressillian Road.
Nick Brookes, singer-songwriter, lives on Tressillian Road.
Alan Brownjohn, the poet and novelist attended Brockley County School
Kate Bush, the singer, lived on Tressillian Road
John Cale(Musician) with the Velvet Undergroundwas a student at Goldsmiths Collegeand lived on Wickham Rd in the student halls of residence.
Emily Davidson, suffragette, born Blackheath 1872 died at the Epsom Derbyin 1913 after stepping in front of the King's horse. Lived for a time in Brockley.
Paul Drury, artist, born Tressillian Rd 1903. Taught Goldsmiths College of Art.
*Gabrielle, the singer, lived in Brockley
David Haig, the actor (inc as Detective Inspector Grim in BBC Series "The Thin Blue Line")and writer, resides in Brockley.
Matt Hales, singer, songwriter of Aqualung [ Guardian Film and Music PagesFilm & Music: Pop: Beetle mania: Chris Salmon 29 June 2007 ]
Darren Johnson, Green Party politician
*David Jones, modernist poet and artist, was born in Brockley in 1895 and often stayed at his parents house in Howson Road until his mothers death in 1936. Some of his drawings depict the house and garden. He attended
Camberwell School of Artin 1909.
*Alan King, massurreal artist, was born in 27 Manor Avenue, Brockley in 1952 and attended Lucas Vale school before moving to Deptford after contracting and surviving polio in 1955.
Anita Klein, artist and printmaker has lived in Brockley for many years.
Lily Langtry, the actress and mistress of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, lived at 42, Wickham Road http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/9E839563-78A8-496E-8643-E0625BFC6181/0/BrockleyCAA4_112.pdf Lewisham Government Guide to the Conservation Area 2006 ]
Marie Lloyd, the music hallsinger, lived at 196 Wickham Terrace in 1891-2.
David Lodge (author), grew up in Brockley and writes about the area in his novels " The Picturegoers" and "Therapy"
* The comedian
Spike Milligan(1918-2002), lived at 50 Riseldine Road (which is on the cusp of Crofton Park and Honor Oak) after coming to England from India in the 1930s.
Nick Nicely, musician. His 1982 cult psychedelic classic " Hilly Fields" was inspired by the park of the same name.
Ed Petrie, TV presenter and stand-up comedian
Sybil Phoenix, former Mayoress of Lewisham and first black woman to receive the M.B.E., to become a Freeman of the City of Londonand Freeman of the Borough of Lewisham, local resident.
Harry Price, psychic and paranormal researcher, famed for his work on the Borley Rectoryhauntings, lodged at 22, Harefield Road
Montague Summers, eccentric writer, taught at Brockley County School
Paul Theroux, his 1976 novel " The Family Arsenal" is set in Cliff Terrace off St Johns Vale.
* Bobby Valentino: singer; songwriter; musician and actor has lived in Brockley for the past 30 years. He is best known as the co-writer and violinist of the Bluebells it single "Young at Heart".
Edgar Wallace, author and original screenwriter of King Kong, lived at 6 Tresillian Crescent, Brockley, between 1900 and 1932.
Willard White(C.B.E), famous opera singer, born Jamaica1946, once lived in Montague Avenue, Brockley.
Henry Williamson, writer and author of " Tarka the Otter", was born in 1895 at 66 Braxfield Rd and lived at 21 Eastern Road, Brockley, during his childhood in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He describes turn of the century Brockley in great detail in his semi-autobiographical novels, "The Dark Lantern" and "Donkey Boy".
Shaun Wright-Phillips, the footballer, grew up in Brockley and attended Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College.
Nearest railway stations
Brockley railway station
Crofton Park railway station
Ladywell railway station
St Johns railway station
Brockley Lane railway station(closed in 1917)
In popular culture
Linton Kwesi Johnsonmentions Brockley in his poem "Inglan Is A Bitch". He spells it "Brackly" as this is roughly how it sounds in Jamaican patois:
:"dem a have a lickle facktri up inna Brackly" :"inna disya facktri all dem dhu is pack crackry" :"fi di laas fifteen years dem get mi laybah" :"now awftah fifteen years mi fall out a fayvah"
Nick Nicely’s 1982 cult psychedelic track “ Hilly Fields” was inspired by the park of the same name. Drum and bassartist Remarcmade a record called "Sound Murderer (Loafin' in Brockley)" on Juno Recordsin the mid-1990s. Another drum and bass artist, Chris Inperspectivehas a track called "Brockley Central".
Two early novels by
Henry Williamson(who lived on Eastern Road) describe the area in the early 1900s. The PicturegoersThe first novel by David Lodgeis set in 1950's Brockley; thinly disguised as 'Brickley'.
In 2003 the BBC1 documetary
Worlds Apartshowed two Brockley families living within yards of each other; one in a council flat the other in a large house.
* [http://www.brockley.com/bcag Brockley Cross Action Group]
* [http://www.brockley.com/brocsoc/ The Brockley Society]
* [http://www.southlondonguide.co.uk/brockley/information.htm South London Guide to Brockley]
* [http://www.brockleycc.org/ Brockley Community Church]
* [http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/ Brockley Jack Theatre]
* [http://www.brockleymax.co.uk/ Brockley Max Festival]
* [http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lewisham/brockley/tresillian-crescent.htm Edgar Wallace's Home in Brockley]
* [http://www.horror-wood.com/wallace.htm The Edgar Wallace Collection]
* [http://www.ponyhide.com/bos.co.uk/nav.html Brockley Open Studios]
* [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/06/0620_Stonecircles_2.html Brockley Stone Circle]
* [http://brockleyladywellcemeteries.blogspot.com/ Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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