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Sydenham Template:IPAc-en is an inner-city district of South East London in the London Boroughs of Lewisham, Bromley and Southwark. Sydenham was located in Kent until 1889 when the County of London was formed, additionally, in 1965 Sydenham became part of the current London Boroughs. The area was one of the first in Southern England to have a railway station, opening 1839 by the London and Croydon Railway. Sydenham is the location where the Crystal Palace from the Great Exhibition was relocated in 1854. Today Sydenham is a diverse suburb and as of the 2011 census, the population of Sydenham was 28,378<ref name="sydenham population">Office for National Statistics, Official labour market statistics: Usual resident population Postcode Areas Accessed 29 July 2013</ref>


Sydenham began as a small settlement, a few cottages among the woods, whose inhabitants grazed their animals and collected wood. In the 1640s, springs of water in what is now in Wells Park were discovered to have medicinal properties, attracting crowds of people to the area. Sydenham grew rapidly in the 19th century after the introduction of the Croydon Canal in 1809 which linked the Grand Surrey Canal to Croydon and a reservoir was constructed in Sydenham. However, the canal was never successful and closed in 1836<ref name=hadfield374>Template:Harvnb</ref> resulting in it being the first canal to be abandoned by an Act of Parliament. The London & Croydon Railway purchased the canal for £40,250 and quickly converted the alignment for a railway from London Bridge to West Croydon, opening in 1839. After the railway opened potential gas companies began to consider the Sydenham area with the Crystal Palace and District Gas Company having works at Bell Green, which continued production until 1969; a retail park now occupies most of the site.

In 1851 the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park was housed in an immense glass building, called the Crystal Palace. In 1854 the building was bought by a private company, dismantled and re-erected in Sydenham Park (now called Crystal Palace Park). Exhibitions, concerts, conferences and sporting events were held at the Crystal Palace (until it burned down in 1936), and Sydenham became a fashionable area; many new houses were built. In 1872, the Children's Hospital, Sydenham opened, closing in 1991, its services are now part of the University Hospital Lewisham.

A former railway station, Upper Sydenham opened in 1884 and closed in 1954, with temporary closings in between. The station opened by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway had direct trains to Crystal Palace and London Victoria. The station and the line was poorly used despite new houses being built in the area as passengers preferred to use other stations near-by Sydenham Hill (opening in 1863), Crystal Palace (Lower Level) and Sydenham which were on more direct routes. The ill fate of the Crystal Palace in 1936 saw patronage reduced and the route finally closed in 1954.

Sydenham was attacked by enemies during the Second World War. The gas works were a target, but were never damaged. The railway which ran through Upper Sydenham station was damaged, and some homes in the area were destroyed.

Local area

Sydenham is divided into many localities:

Sydenham Hill in the Boroughs of Lewisham and Southwark runs alongside Dulwich and Sydenham Woods on one of the highest points of Greater London being 112 meters above sea level. From here, the City of London skyline is visible. Sydenham Hill has an abandoned railway tunnel from the Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway located within the Woods. Another railway tunnel (one of the longest in Britain being 1,958 meters) goes beneath on the Chatham Main Line with Template:Rws station at the London end serving both Sydenham Hill and the College area of Dulwich.

Upper Sydenham is also located on Sydenham Hill and apart of the Parish of St Bartholomew. Its diverse both racially and in terms of income; recently branded as Kirkdale Village Upper Sydenham has a small range of shops including Costcutter, Tesco Express, local pubs and off-licences. Both Sydenham School and Sydenham Police Station are located on Dartmouth Road with Forest Hill Library alongside Thorpewood Avenue. Green Flag awarded Sydenham Wells Park, the location of the once famous Springs is one of the largest parks within the postcode. Upper Sydenham is also the location for the Sydenham Park allotments, the Sydenham electricity sub station which had major fire in 2008 and the Sydenham Hill estate.

Lower Sydenham & Bell Green is the location of Sydenham Community Library which was recently reopened by the local community after Lewisham council closed it. The Bell Green regeneration project is in its second phase with a new retail park which opened in 2013, on a site which was formally a gas works. A Currys PC World, B&Q Toys "R" Us, Pets at Home and Sports Direct have opened. Next, and McDonald's are also expected to take some floor space in 2014. Sainsbury's had already opened its large store on one part of the site in the 1990s as part of the Savacentre brand, additionally new residential apartments have also been constructed. The Bridge Leisure Centre is located on Kangley Bridge Road and Mayow Park is on the border with Forest Hill. Alongside the Hayes railway line and Template:Rws station, Lower Sydenham industrial estate houses the Clarkes of London coach company, City Link Beckenham and many other businesses as well as the Beckenham and Sydenham Cricket Ground.

Commercial area

Sydenham Road also known as Sydenham High Street houses many independent stores including bookshops, off-licences and a bakery. Chain stores include The Co-operative Food, Subway, Lidl, Tesco Express and Superdrug. For banking, Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds Bank and Santander all have branches here. The Post Office, Ladbrookes and Mercedes-Benz all have units on Sydenham Road.


Sydenham has a very active community, with several groups concerning the local area. Sydenham Town is the local website for the suburb, where residents can also voice there opinions in an on-line form. The Sydenham Society is a Civil society formed in 1972 to represent the local community, holds local events, works with organisations and authorities as well as campaigning for improvements to the area. Green Flag and Mayor of London Award winner, Sydenham Garden, was formed in 2002 is a charity which is involved in improving the health of residents in the boroughs of Bromley and Lewisham.

Sydenham with Forest Hill won a bid for the national Portas Pilot competition which provided a grant to improve high streets, extra money was provided from Lewisham Council and private developers. Annually every summer, the Sydenham Arts Festival is held, where there are workshops, music, family actives etc.

Conservation areas

Sydenham has seven Conservation Areas: Cobbs Corner, Dulwich Village (covering Crescent Wood Road), Halifax Street, Sydenham Hill/Kirkdale, Sydenham Park and Sydenham Thorpes, Sydenham has the highest concentration of conservation areas in the London Borough of Lewisham


A number of parks are within the Sydenham postcode. Mayow Park, Lewisham's oldest municipal park and Sydenham Wells Park are both Green Flag Awarded. Other open spaces in Sydenham include Alexandra Recreation Ground, Baxters Field, Home Park and Kirkdale Green. Riverview Walk is a nature conservation area which runs along the River Ravensbourne from Catford. Additionally, located along the borders of Sydenham, there are Crystal Palace Park, Dulwich Woods, Southend Park and Sydenham Hill Woods.

Notable buildings and structures

File:Memorial Drinking Fountain, Upper Sydenham - - 128343.jpg
Drinking fountain erected to commemorate the 1897 Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria
  • Sydenham is the home of St Bartholomew's church, (1827–1832), at the end of Lawrie Park Avenue, featured in Camille Pissarro's painting of 1871. The building was designed by Lewis Vulliamy.
  • Park Court Sydenham, (1936), by Frederick Gibberd, pioneering modernist development of residential flats on the estate on Lawrie Park Road adjacent to the famous Crystal Palace Park.
  • Six Pillars, (1934–35), by Berthold Lubetkin, on Crescent Wood Road, a villa strongly in the spirit of Le Corbusier with eponymous six pillars at street level.
  • Cobbs Corner, takes its name from a draper’s shop at 291-307 Kirkdale run by Walter Cobb. The shop grew into a large department store catering to the gentry of the area. Interesting imposing dome where you can find the date on the building.
  • 180 and 182 Kirkdale, built in the 1850s in Gothic style, with Tudor doorcases.
  • 168–178 Kirkdale, three pairs of Italianate houses built around 1862. Number 174 was briefly the home of the conductor August Manns.
  • Memorial to Queen Victoria, (1897) baroque-style memorial celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Restored for Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee and designed by Alexander Hennell, a Sydenham resident and architect.
  • Jews Walk, it is believed that a wealthy Jewish resident planted a row of trees to define the boundary of his walk from the Common. Numbers 2,4 and 6 are classical villas dating from the 1840s. Karl Marx's daughter Eleanor lived on Jews Walk. On 9 September 2008 a blue English Heritage plaque was placed on the house to commemorate this fact.
  • Halifax Street, beautifully preserved street with houses dating from the 1840s. Of notice are in particular the closeness of the houses, the length of the street and the size of the gardens.
  • The Kirkdale Building, previously the Sydenham Public Lecture Hall, it was built in 1861 by Sydenham resident Henry Dawson.


Sydenham has a good education rating, with no schools considered failing by Ofsted. Sydenham contains two secondary schools, Sydenham High School which is a private school and Sydenham School. Both of these schools are exclusively girls' schools.

There are primary schools in Sydenham, five are non religious schools: (Alexandra, Adamsrill, Eliot Bank, Haseltine and Kelvin Grove) and three religious schools St. Michael's, St Philip Neri and St. Bartholomew's Church of England. The former includes children of other faiths. Nearby to Sydenham are secondary schools which include residents of Sydenham in their catchment area. These include Forest Hill, Harris Crystal Palace, Harris Beckenham (Cator Park) for Girls and Sedgehill Schools. There are no colleges in Sydenham, however there is a joint sixth form with Sydenham and Forest Hill schools.


According to the 2011 census, the SE26 postcode area had a population of 28,378<ref name="sydenham population"/>

Famous residents

  • John Logie Baird — the inventor of the television
  • Thomas Campbell — poet
  • Connie Fisher — singer and actress, winner of the BBC TV program "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?"
  • Denis Gifford — comics and film historian
  • Wilfrid de Glehn — painter, was born in Sydenham
  • W. G. Grace — England's greatest cricketer
  • George Grove — of musical dictionary fame
  • Rolf Harris — was a key figure in the Sydenham Society
  • Norman Hunter — writer and creator of Professor Branestawm
  • Shivani Kapoor — Indian model, cousin of famous Bollywood sister actresses Karisma & Kareena Kapoor
  • Linda Ludgrove — Commonwealth gold medallist swimmer
  • Eleanor Marx — daughter of Karl Marx
  • John Scott Russell — naval architect who built the SS Great Eastern
  • Dame Cicely Saunders — founder of the modern hospice movement
  • Ernest Shackleton — the Antarctic explorer
  • Jason Statham — film actor
  • David Wiffen — singer/songwriter, born in Sydenham in 1942
  • Bill Wyman — member of The Rolling Stones, grew up in Sydenham
  • Tsakane Valentine Maswanganyi — Opera singer, she first came to public notice as a member of the world-famous opera band Amici Forever
  • Lionel Logue CVO, an Australian speech therapist and stage actor who successfully treated, among others, King George VI. He lived in a villa named Beechgrove from 1933-1940
  • Flora Klickmann — editor of the Girls Own Paper from 1908 to 1931
  • Richard Jefferies, the naturalist and author, lived at 20 Sydenham Park (a Blue Plaque indicates the house)


File:Units 378142 and 455821 at Sydenham.JPG
Southern and London Overground trains at Sydenham

Sydenham is served by National Rail and London Buses for its public transport. Sydenham is located in Travelcard Zones 3 and 4.

Railway stations


The area is served by routes 75, 122, 176, 181, 194, 197, 202, 227, 352, 356, 363, 450 and N63 linking Sydenham to Central London, Lewisham, Catford, Croydon, Bromley, Shirley, Elephant & Castle, Blackheath and Grove Park.


The South Circular Road passes close by in Forest Hill. High Street improvements are being funded by Transport for London from September 2012 are making the increasingly busy Sydenham Road (A212) more user friendly. So far, Kirkdale to Mayow Road has been completed, with Mayow Road to Kent House Road currently, as of December 2013, being upgraded. The Kent House Road to Bell Green section is still waiting for funding to be found.


Sydenham is approximately 7 miles to the south east of Charing Cross.


The nearest Met Office climate station is based in Greenwich Park:

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The Beast of Sydenham of 2005, was a large, panther-like black animal, named Arak, which had been spotted around the area, and attacked a man. The beast was said to be 6 ft in length and 3 ft in height.

See also

  • Sydenham School
  • Sydenham High School
  • Sydenham, Sydney, New South Wales named after Sydenham, London
  • The Crystal Palace



External links

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