A River Runs To It

Keith, after reading my review of London’s Lost Rivers a few weeks ago asks:

There are many little streams in SE London whose names I cannot find. …

…including a tributary of the Quaggy that rises in a pond near Blackheath Village, one that goes under Charlton’s Valley Stadium and another with 2 tributaries in Maryon Park, just S of the Charlton-Woolwich Road. No doubt there are many others + the Danson Stream that is dammed to form Danson Park Lake before joining the Shuttle.

Has anyone written a book about these?

I have to confess that all the rivers you mention here, Keith, are somewhat off my manor, so I don’t know of any specific books that mention these rivers, but your best bet for the Quaggy tributaries is probably History of Lee and it’s Neighbourhood by F.H. Hart.

They are mentioned several times, though I’m not convinced any of them have official names – certainly if they do, Hart doesn’t mention them. The moat of the old Boone Estate (of which only the chapel remains, if memory serves) was called the Looking Glass of Lee, had its own island and was, apparently, supplied by a spring rising from what is now Boone’s Road.

Before that, a big old iron pipe conveyed the water from the spring behind the cottages at the rear of the Royal Oak. Hart describes its course past sundry landmarks, shops, important trees and almshouses until it reached the Quaggy. But if it had a name, it would seem to be lost now.

Hart also talks about ‘a little rivulet’ that runs from Lee Cemetery to Manor Lane and joins the Quaggy at Manor Farm. There were three acres of watercress beds next to the Quaggy, and since watercress needs running water to grow well, I guess this little rivulet must be the source of that running water, though Hart’s more interested in describing the gardens and, interestingly, the gardener.

Hart also talks about floods (Christmas Eve 1830 saw seven feet of fast-flowing inundation leading to the death of a local farmer, his horse and chaise, though Hart is keen to point out that he had been warned…) and frostings (the Quaggy overflowed and froze in 1814 to ¬†two feet of ice that didn’t totally thaw until June.) In fact he’s quite fond of talking of the disasters that happened – drownings, collapsed bridges, inundated houses and pubs, railway floods and sewage overflows, but he’s also quite good on the results of these events, and how people, both ordinary and gentry, dealt with them.

For the Maryon Park/ Charlton rivers I can only suggest a book which you can find in most Greenwich libraries called something like A History of Charlton (perhaps someone can help me here with the exact title?). I have no idea if there’s anything in it relating to the rivers, but it’s worth a try. Darryl – do you know anything? You might also ask the Friends of Maryon Parks.

As I say, this is not my area – but I’m sure it is the area of somebody here.

6 Comments to “A River Runs To It”

  1. Darryl says:

    It’s been a while since I looked at John Smith’s A History Of Charlton, I can’t remember any reference to rivers in it though.

    There’s certainly a sewer under The Valley, any river there is news to me though. There are others who may know, though…

  2. John says:

    The book on Charlton is indeed called something like ‘A History of Charlton’ – a few years ago there was a copy of it (green hardcover, I think, maybe with gold titling) in, unsurprisingly, the Local History section at Charlton House library. I borrowed it, but returned it scarcely read – it was terribly, terribly dry …

  3. valley_girl says:

    The full titie of the John G. Smith’s book is “Charlton – a compilation of the Parish and its People”. It is available at the Local History Library for reference only. It comes in 3 volumes, written from 1970 onwards. It is, indeed, very dry, but does contain a lot of information. I’ve been trying to get a hold of a copy to buy, but it seems that it was probably self-published and very few copies printed. If anyone has a copy to sell/borrow, I’d be very interested.

  4. Mary says:

    yeah – ‘History of Charlton’ – John only sold them to a subscription list and – sorry – he died a couple of years ago.
    For the various Kid brooks – I would recommend Michael Egan’s ‘Kidbrooke’.

  5. Mazer says:

    Does anyone know if the book in question specifies about the building and dates of specific roads in Charlton? – I am seeking a roads/property related publication – the kind of publication easier to find about blackheath and Greenwich but harder for Charlton. Any ideas much appreciated.

  6. Adam says:

    @Mazer – have you checked out the following: