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Template:Other uses Template:Use dmy dates Template:Use British English Template:Infobox UK place

Brockley is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is situated Template:Convert south-east of Charing Cross.

It is covered by the London postcode districts SE4 and SE14.


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 LeSoCo) 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 from 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. Some of the oldest houses in Brockley are the 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 1840s 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 Breakspears 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, the son of 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), the Grade II listed St Andrews, Brockley Rd (1882) - originally a Presbyterian Church, which contains the modern stained glass New Cross Fire memorial window (2002) - and the Grade II listed 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.<ref>St. Hilda's with St. Cyprian's Church, Crofton Park, London, SE4</ref>

After World War I Brockley began to lose its exclusivity as the wealthy began to relocate to the outer suburbs and the big houses were increasingly sub-divided. The typical inter-war houses on Upper Brockley Gardens and on Harefield Rd are clearly more modest than their Victorian neighbours. Small industrial workshops also became established in the mews behind the large houses.

The Grade II listed 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. 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.

Being under the bomber flight path to the London docks, the area suffered significant V-2 rocket and other bomb damage in World War II The post-war blocks of council flats at the south end of Wickham Rd and at the west end of Adelaide Avenue are evidence of this. During the Second World War, an anti-aircraft gun implacement was located on Hilly Fields.

After the Second World War, most of the big houses were sub-divided into 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. Other migrants came from Europe and Asia.

From the mid-1960s artists (some associated with nearby Goldsmiths College) started to move into the large and at the time neglected houses on Manor Avenue, beginning the process of 'gentrification' which continues today.

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 nineteenth century domestic architecture from vast Gothic Revival piles to modest workmen's cottages. This range of nineteenth century architectural styles makes Brockley unusual.


File:Ward of Brockley.GIF
The electoral ward of Brockley (red) within the London Borough of Lewisham (orange)

The extension of the East London Line, now part of the London Overground network, opened in May 2010. It connects Brockley with North London and is encouraging new residential development around Brockley station.

In 2000 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 other derelict sites.

Green space

Blythe Hill from Hilly Fields

Brockley contains several attractive open spaces, 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 Hilly Fields College, 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 160 ft above sea level, Hilly Fields has wide views from Canary Wharf and Shooters Hill to Crystal Palace and the North Downs in Kent.

West of the railway between Brockley and New Cross Gate railway stations lies the Brockley Nature Reserve (formerly known as New Cross Gate Cutting Nature Reserve). This ten acre woodland is home to over 30 species of birds including Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Sparrow Hawk. The reserve is managed by London Wildlife Trust, access (when open) is from the entrance on Vesta Road.

The arts in Brockley

Like its neighbour Telegraph Hill, Brockley has a reputation as a focus for the arts in South London. The mid-1960s saw the beginning of a 'bohemian' influx of artists, musicians and alternative types 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.Template:Citation needed Many artists have built studios in their back gardens and the annual 'open studios' weekend is a good opportunity to visit some of these.

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 Grade II listed library building is a Carnegie Library, made possible by the philanthropy of the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. It opened in 1914 and was 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.

Green politics

All of Brockley Ward's 3 councillors were from the Green Party and combined with neighbouring Ladywell ward, Lewisham Council had six Green Party councillors, one of the highest number of Green party councillors in the UK. However, in the 2010 Local Elections, held at the same time as the 2010 General Election, the Green party lost all but one of their seats. The remaining seat is held by Darren Johnson in Brockley.

Notable residents

  • Philip Quast Australian actor, lived in Brockley for over a decade.
  • Athlete (band) (formed 1999) lead singer Joel Pott, keyboard player Tim Wanstall and bassist Carey Willetts live in Brockley. The band used to rehearse at the Bear Cafe in Deptford High St
  • Rosie Barnes OBE, MP for Greenwich (1987–1992), Chief Executive of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust (1996–2010), Patron of Child Health International (2011- ) lives on Tressillian Road.
  • Steve Bolton guitarist with Atomic Rooster, Paul Young and The Who among others lived on Geoffrey Road in the 1980s.
  • Nick Brookes, singer-songwriter, lives on Tressillian Road.Template:Citation needed
  • Alan Brownjohn, the poet and novelist, attended Brockley County School.
  • Kate Bush, the singer, lived on Wickham 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.Template:Citation needed
  • Emily Davison, 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.Template:Citation needed
  • Alfred Drury, sculptor, lived in Tressillian Road and taught at Goldsmith's College
  • Paul Drury, artist, born Tressillian Rd 1903. Taught Goldsmiths College of Art.
  • Kerry Ellis, singer and West End stage actress, lives in Brockley, with her boyfriend.
  • Gabrielle, the singer, lived in Brockley.
  • John Galliano, the fashion designer, grew up in Brockley and visits with his design team
  • David Haig, the actor and writer, resides in Brockley.
  • Matt Hales, singer, songwriter of Aqualung.
  • Bernard Hill, actor, lived in Wickam Gardens in the 1980s
  • 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 mother's death in 1936. Some of his drawings depict the house and garden. His most famous poem is called In Parenthesis. He attended Camberwell School of Art in 1909. His parents are both buried in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery where there is also a memorial to David Jones
  • Brian Keaney, the children's author, lives in Brockley
  • 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.Template:Citation needed
  • Anita Klein, artist and printmaker lived in Brockley for many years.Template:Citation needed
  • Lily Langtry, the actress and mistress of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, lived at 42, Wickham Road<ref name="autogenerated1"> Lewisham Government Guide to the Conservation Area 2006</ref>
  • Marie Lloyd, the music hall singer, lived at 196 Wickham Terrace in 1891-2.<ref name="autogenerated1" />
  • David Lodge 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. (This is revealed in his War Memoirs (Hitler, my part in his downfall) et al.)
  • Nick Nicely, musician. His 1982 cult psychedelic classic Hilly Fields was inspired by the park of the same name.Template:Citation needed
  • Pagan Altar, metal band who recorded a song entitled "The Devil Came Down to Brockley".Template:Citation needed
  • Mica Paris, singer.
  • Charles Stewart Parnell (1846–1891), Irish Nationalist Politician, with Katherine O'Shea at 112 Tressillian Road
  • Ed Petrie, TV presenter and stand-up comedian.Template:Citation needed
  • 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. He went to school at Waller Road and Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College.
  • David Rocastle, professional footballer, playing midfield for Arsenal and England.<ref name="">One on One with Ian Wright by Gavin Glicksman, The Sun, London, 26 Feb 2011</ref>
  • MC Eksman, Number 1 worldwide drum and bass MC and multi award winner
  • Montague Summers, eccentric writer, taught at Brockley County School
  • Chris Tarrant, TV presenter, taught at a school in Brockley in the late 60s/early 70s and for some time lived in his car near the school.
  • Paul Theroux, his 1976 novel The Family Arsenal is set in Cliff Terrace off St Johns Vale.Template:Citation needed
  • 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 hit single "Young at Heart".
  • Baron Warner, Norman Warner, Baron Warner of Brockley, Minister of State for Reform
  • Edgar Wallace, author and original screenwriter of King Kong, lived at 6 Tresillian Crescent, Brockley, between 1900 and 1932. His fictional detective character J G Reeder lived in Brockley Road. His book "The Duke in the Suburbs" is also based in Brockley.
  • Sir Willard White (C.B.E), famous opera singer, born Jamaica 1946, once lived in Wickham Gardens and later Montague Avenue, Brockley.Template:Citation needed
  • 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.
  • Brian Molko, Musician, lived in Brockley for a number of years whilst forming Placebo (band).
  • Denny Wright, jazz guitarist, grew up in Brockley before the second world war and served with the Auxiliary Fire Service there.
  • Ian Wright, professional footballer, playing striker for Arsenal and England. Latterly sports pundit and TV presenter<ref name=""/>
  • Bradley Wright-Phillips, professional footballer for Charlton Athletic F.C.
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips, the footballer, grew up in Brockley and attended Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College.
  • Shaun Prendergast, Actor and Writer lives in Brockley
  • The June Brides, proto UK indie pop group including singer Phil Wilson shared a house in Chudleigh Road. Viola player Frank Sweeney still lives not far from there.
  • Mary Millar, British actress best known for her role as Rose on Keeping up Appearances.

Nearest places

  • Crofton Park
  • Catford
  • Deptford
  • Forest Hill
  • Greenwich
  • Honor Oak
  • Ladywell
  • Lewisham
  • New Cross
  • Nunhead
  • Peckham
  • Telegraph Hill, Lewisham

Nearest railway stations

  • Brockley railway station
  • Crofton Park railway station
  • Ladywell railway station
  • Nunhead railway station
  • St Johns railway station
  • Forest Hill railway station
  • Brockley Lane railway station (closed in 1917)

In popular culture

Linton Kwesi Johnson mentions Brockley in his poem Inglan Is A Bitch (1980). 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.

Two early novels by Henry Williamson (who lived on Eastern Road) describe Brockley in great detail, as it was in the early 1900s.

Edgar Wallace: His fictional 1920s detective J. G. Reeder lived in Brockley Road. Wallace himself lived in Tressillian Crescent, Brockley, for over 30 years. His book "The Duke in the Suburbs" is also based in Brockley.

The Picturegoers, the first novel by David Lodge is set in and around a rundown cinema in 1950s Brockley; thinly disguised as 'Brickley'.

Blake Morrison's novel South of the River (2007) is set in Brockley.

Colin Wilson's book The Outsider (1956) opens with a reference to Brockley.

In 2003 the BBC1 documentary Worlds ApartTemplate:Disambiguation needed showed two contrasting Brockley families living within yards of each other; one in a small council flat the other in a large house.

The Rivoli Ballroom has featured in numerous films, TV shows and fashion shoots, and was used for the debut album launch for Florence and the Machine.

The Metros' song Last Of The Lookers from their 2008 album More Money Less Grief mentions meeting a girl who is later found out not to be from their native Brockley.



External links

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