A Question of Numbers
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
Another question we have been asked-- and one that we have puzzled over ourselves -- is why the strange numbering of the houses in Lindal Road? Lindal Road runs between Brockley Grove and Darfield Road. You can see the numbering on this sketch map:
To find some of the answers we need to go back to 1879, when large plots of the land in Brockley were being split up and sold for development. In those early days of Crofton Park, a builder would buy a plot on which to put a few houses, rather than build along a whole street. As a result, from this time onwards, groups of houses were springing up around Brockley station at the north (top) end of Brockley Road, down to Stanstead Road.
The next map, from Lewisham archives, shows one such parcel of land. It is bordered by Brockley Road, part of Brockley Grove (the road shown here between Brockley Hall and Joy Farm) , and the cemetery. None of the roads you'll find here today -- Marnock, Merritt, Darfield or Lindal -- existed in 1879. The only buildings in the area were Joy Farm, on the site of today’s Baptist church, and the cottages marked ‘Earl Saint German’s' (demolished sometime after 1914).
The next map comes soon after 1879, and shows the plans for the area, including new roads and buildings. The roads at this point were unmade. The buildings include ‘the Tower Brewery’ which was on the corner of Merrett (sic) and Brockley roads until -- at least -- 1894. You can find the site today; it is 357-363 Brockley Road, beginning at the Shapla takeaway and ending at the empty premises next door to Paraphernalia. In this map and the one that follows, Brockley Grove is called Brockley Lane.
In this map, the top of the plan is the same as before, but the bottom is missing a very important element –- the railway line!
The Shortlands & Nunhead Railway Company was formed in August 1889 to build a line from Nunhead to Shortlands. The line was run by the London, Chatham & Dover Railway and was opened in 1 July 1892. Obviously planning for the railway began some time before 1889, so somewhere between 1879 and 1889, the original proposed road layout was altered to allow for the new line.
This map shows the new road layout, with the railway added. A few more houses have been built along Darfield Road, but the similarities suggest it is only a year or so after the previous map. You can still see the original route of Ludlam Road joining the first, angled part of Lindal Road with the western end of Brockley Lane (called Brockley Grove today).
'Le Chalet' (built around 1880), was the first house to be built in Lindal Road. It was built at an angle to fit the original proposed Ludlam Road, as was the house opposite on the corner of Lindal Road/Brockley Grove (no. 67).
It is interesting that on this plan, the earlier versions of Marnock and Ludlam roads have been replaced by Ludlam Road. This was the name until 1897, when it became Marnock Road.
The most likely reason for the peculiar numbering is that it reflects the order in which the houses were built. The plans and maps show that the next oldest houses are on the north-east corner, going up to Le Chalet, then later ones were built to the north-west corner, linking with Darfield Road.
It was a time when the old landscape of fields and footpaths was being rapidly replaced by the suburban sights of Crofton Park. Alongside the various housing projects were new roads;, railway lines; sewers; street lighting; water mains; gas pipes, and electricity. We might assume that the rows of houses arrived in an orderly way; in reality, the vast and rapid expansion of the area meant that for the first 20 years, many new residents of Crofton Park were surrounded by building works.