Open Meeting: 9th October
Meeting on 12th June — Talk
Meeting on 12th June — Local Business
Previous Meeting Subjects
Crystal Palace Park
Books - Fact
Books - Fiction
Penge War Memorial Project
WW2 Armed Forces — Names
WW2 Armed Forces — Stories
WW2 Civilians — Names
WW2 Civilians — Stories
Links for Penge Forum
History of Penge
A more detailed history and a bibliography is in preparation.
Meanwhile, the page here complements a formal chronological history with pictures, old and new, organised by topics rather than chronologically.
A committee was formed in 1799 to consider the possibility of making a navigable waterway between London and the rapidly expanding town of Croydon. The result was a canal designed in 1800 by John Rennie and running from the Surrey Canal at Hatcham through New Cross, Deptford, Brockley, Sydenham, Penge, Anerley, Norwood, and Selhurst, to terminate at North End, Croydon. Bromley and Beckenham were served by Scott's Wharf at Penge. The canal was opened with much pomp by the Lord Mayor of London on 23rd October 1809, but the rise of the railways made it uneconomic and on 22nd August 1836 the canal company sold out to the London and Croydon Railway Company. The railway company laid track along much of the route, though it had to make new cuttings and straighten bends, as to minimise costs the canal had hugged natural contours. Penge West Station replaced Scott's Wharf (though on the other side of the High Street), and West Croydon Station is on the site of North End.
Reservoirs filled from wells by steam pumps were built at Norwood Common and Sydenham Common, the former now being South Norwood Boating Lake. As well as its commercial use, the pleasant view of the canal formed a tourist attraction, and Anerley Hotel and Pleasure Gardens were opened along its banks in the area which is now bordered by Ridsdale Road, Trenholme Close, and the railway line.
In 1934, Penge Council cleared a short section of the route in Betts Park to create a water garden which remains to this day as a reminder of the canal, but in its concrete channel it bears little resemblance to the original apart from tree-lined banks. Fountains were added in 1963, but are not often working. A small doorway in the wall at the Anerley Road end leads to a pedestrian tunnel beneath the road, now blocked at the other end. Another section of the canal can be found in Dacres Wood, Sydenham.
The whole route of the canal is described in old and present-day photographs at
with the Penge portion around
For an old drawing, see the London Canal Museum entry at
The Royal Watermen's and Lightermen's Almshouses were built to provide accommodation for retired freemen of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen and their widows. In 1839 two acres of land, including a well, were presented to the Company by wealthy Penge landowner John Dudin Brown, and Queen Adelaide became patron of the new institution, donating 100 guineas towards the cost. The first stone was laid in May 1840 by Lord Mayor of London, Sir Chapman Marshall, and in 1841, 34 married men, 10 unmarried men, and 32 widows became the almshouses' first residents. It remained a retirement home for the Company until 1973, when a new home was built in Hastings.
By that time, the cottages were too small, without bathrooms, damp, and in a poor state of repair. Demolition had been threatened since 1963, with proposals for modern flats and commercial development. But the Greater London Council, then responsible for housing capital-wide, caused a preservation order to be placed on the site and did major refurbishment, knocking pairs of cottages into one as privately-owned and housing association residences. Further renovation work was done in 2010/11.
The gardens, at the north end of Penge High Street, are open to the public, access being through the gates next to St John's Church and at the corner with Penge lane, or the driveway further down Penge Lane. The buildings are not open to the public.
Anerley Town Hall
Anerley Vestry Hall was built in 1878 at a cost of £4,341 for conduct of public business of the district, then part of the Borough of Lewisham. It became the Town Hall when Penge Urban District Council was formed in 1900 by the London Government Act of 1899. It was considerably enlarged in 1911 at a cost of £3,229 and contained offices, the council chamber, committee rooms, a public hall, and a petty sessional court opened in 1925.
It was used by Penge Council until 1965 when the area became part of the new London Borough of Bromley. It now houses Anerley Library, a playgroup, and other amenity groups, and is thus the longest-serving public building in the area.
The photograph was taken in the 1930s, but the building is little changed today. One of the rails for the trams which ran up Anerley Hill to the Crystal Palace can be seen in the foreground.
The War Memorial
The memorial, outside Penge Recreation Ground and opposite St John's Parish Church, was erected in 1921. It was formally unveiled on Sunday 25th September 1925 by the Chairman of Penge Urban District Council, Cllr Francis P Hodes, JP, and was dedicated by the Vicar of Penge, Rev Canon William Smyly.
It is built of rough hewn granite, 4½ metres high, with 399 men who died in the First World War listed in 18 columns on brass plates around the base. A World War II dedication plate was added in 1947, but there are no individual names.
The two side panels were damaged and stolen during a nationwide spate of metal thefts in early 2011. They are due to be replaced in "simulated metal" by Armistice Day.
|More photos and history
||www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/VOLUME01/Crystal_Palace.html Baird's Crystal Palace TV Studios 1933-36.
|William Sanderson of Anerly Lodge
||www.labyrinth.net.au/~barry.re/Sanderson.html Note: Some of the information at the end of this page on the fate of the original Anerly
Lodge is inaccurate. Corrections are being researched.
|North Surrey District School
|Annerley Convalescent Home
||users.iclway.co.uk/barrywhite/places/pt_homes.pdf Home at Broadstairs associated with N.S.D.S (brief entry in a longer list).
|Information at Croydon Local
or www.croydononline.org/learning/past/poor.htm More about the N.S.D.S.
|Painting of N.S.D.S. by Pissarro
||www.vincent.nl/?/gallery/paintings/0700/a846.htm Reproduction of 1871 view.
||www.scottishbooksellers.com/acatalog/__My_Story.html The Diary of Lily Hicks 1850-51, housemaid to Paxton (scroll down). Note: The dates imply that this book will not refer to Penge.
|Fiction: Sherlock Holmes
||http://www.virtualnorwood.com/localinfo/sherlock.shtml Sherlock Holmes in Lower Norwood.
||Please copy and paste the URLs into your browser – the Communigate format does not support clickable links here.
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