infobox UK place
country = England
region= London
official_name= Brockley
latitude= 51.4529
longitude= -0.0345
os_grid_reference= TQ365745
london_borough= Lewisham
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= SE
postcode_district= SE4
dial_code= 020
constituency_westminster=Lewisham Deptford

Brockley is an area and electoral ward of the London Borough of Lewisham in England. Situated about convert|5|mi|km|0 south east of Charing Cross, it is covered by the London postcode district SE4.


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 Park was invented by the railway company for its new station and has no historical significance. Brockley market gardens were famous for their enormous Victoria rhubarb which were fertilised by 'night soil' from London. There were orchards too and some ancient fruit trees 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 Thames via Deptford Creek. It is now covered over.

Industrial development arrived in 1809 in the form of the Croydon Canal running fron Croydon to Bermondsey. This was later filled in and replaced by the London & Croydon railway which 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 station provided access to the Greenwich Park branch line and the remains of the old station entrance are still visible at Brockley Cross.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Tyrwhitt- Drake family 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 Langtry was 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 Williamson whose 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 Fire memorial window (2002) and St Hilda's, Crofton Park 1908. The latter was designed by J E Newberry in the Arts and Crafts movement style and still contains its original interior. [ [ St. Hilda's with St. Cyprian's Church, Crofton Park, London, SE4 ] ]

After World War I Brockley 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.

The 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 Magazine 10 Nov 07). In 2007 The White Stripes rock 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 rocket and other bomb damage in World War II and 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 War an anti-aircraft gun implacement 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-Caribbean population, many of whom found employment in nearby Deptford. In 1948, five passengers bound for England from Jamaica on the ship Empire Windrush gave 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 London in 1889. In 1965 Greater London was 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 Area in 1974 and in the same year the Brockley Society was 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.

1990s onward

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 station in the north of the area.

In 2002 the Brockley Cross Action Group was set up with the aim of influencing the regeneration of the Brockley Cross area and has been instrumental in the restoration of Brockley Common and the greening of several derelict sites around Brockley.

Meanwhile, to the south of the area, around Crofton Park train station, a number of new shops and bars suggest this district is also enjoying something of resurgence in fortunes.

Green space

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 Society and 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 Suffragette movement 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 Dunbar and other students of the Royal College of Art, they are considered some of the best examples in the country of the Neo-Romantic style and illustrate many local scenes.

Close by, a stone circle was erected in 2000 as a millennium project by a group of local artists, which won a Civic Trust Award in 2004. The Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre has 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 Hill to Crystal Palace and the North Downs in 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 College and 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.

The Lewisham Art House housed in a grand Edwardian building (which was formerly Deptford Library) on Lewisham Way, provides art classes, studio and exhibition space. The library building is a Carnegie Library made possible by the philanthropy of the indrustialist Andrew Carnegie. It opened in 1914 and is designed by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas. [] The Brockley Jack Theatre has 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 Studios weekend. Since 2004 Brockley has also hosted the Brockley Max performing 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.

Green politics

Combined with neighbouring Ladywell ward, Brockley has six Green Party councillors, one of the highest in the UKclarifyme.

Famous residents

* 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 Underground was a student at Goldsmiths College and lived on Wickham Rd in the student halls of residence.
* Emily Davidson, suffragette, born Blackheath 1872 died at the Epsom Derby in 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 Art in 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 Lewisham Government Guide to the Conservation Area 2006 ]
*Marie Lloyd, the music hall singer, 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 London and Freeman of the Borough of Lewisham, local resident.
*Harry Price, psychic and paranormal researcher, famed for his work on the Borley Rectory hauntings, 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.
*Sir Willard White (C.B.E), famous opera singer, born Jamaica 1946, 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 places

* Crofton Park
* Catford
* Deptford
* Greenwich
* Honor Oak
* Ladywell
* Lewisham
* New Cross
* Nunhead
* Peckham
* Forest Hill

Nearest railway stations

* Brockley railway station
* Crofton Park railway station
* Ladywell railway station
* St Johns railway station

Disused Stations

*Brockley Lane railway station (closed in 1917)

In popular culture

Linton Kwesi Johnson mentions 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"

The musician Nick Nicely’s 1982 cult psychedelic track “Hilly Fields” was inspired by the park of the same name. Drum and bass artist Remarc made a record called "Sound Murderer (Loafin' in Brockley)" on Juno Records in the mid-1990s. Another drum and bass artist, Chris Inperspective has a track called "Brockley Central".

Two early novels by Henry Williamson (who lived on Eastern Road) describe the area in the early 1900s.

The Picturegoers The first novel by David Lodge is set in 1950's Brockley; thinly disguised as 'Brickley'.

In 2003 the BBC1 documetary Worlds Apart showed two Brockley families living within yards of each other; one in a council flat the other in a large house.


External links

* [ Brockley Cross Action Group]
* [ The Brockley Society]
* [ South London Guide to Brockley]
* [ Brockley Community Church]
* [ Brockley Jack Theatre]
* [ Brockley Max Festival]
* [ Edgar Wallace's Home in Brockley]
* [ The Edgar Wallace Collection]
* [ Brockley Open Studios]
* [ Brockley Stone Circle]
* [ Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries]

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