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Canal Route

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Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 08:10 am:   

I know the railway company purchased the canal company about 1840 but I understand the canal did not follow the route of the current railway. I know it went by David's Rd ( hence the high pavement ) and believe there was a resevoir somewhere near Woodcombe Crescent ( Forest Hill's own rat run ).
Has anyone researched the exact route of the canal and were their and locks in our section
Joined 12-10-2006
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 09:15 am:   

I think there's some good stuff about this on the Sydenham forum
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 11:25 am:   

I think it ran along Davids Road to the end before it becomes Manor Mount, through the right hand side of what was the Richmond Fellowship block of flats, through the car park that enters onto Woodcombe Crescent, and then across the road through what is now the end of the back gardens of the houses on the west side of Devonshire Road and the east side of Woodcombe Crescent. Not sure where it goes from there.
Joined 02-01-2007
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 01:53 pm:
Joined 18-04-2005
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 01:53 pm:   

thanks Roz
Seems to have had a interesting route. I know there was a reservoir near Sydenham Park.
Logic would believe it more or less followed the train track. Probably did on the section where there are steep embankments.
Joined 02-01-2007
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 01:54 pm:   

Sorry I meant to link to this:
Joined 02-01-2007
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 01:56 pm:   

This is quite interesting too:
Joined 09-01-2007
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 03:25 pm:   

This may also be of use
Joined 24-10-2006
Posted on Thursday, 15 March, 2007 - 03:45 pm:   

This site is one of the best for showing the route of the canal:
Joined 09-01-2007
Posted on Friday, 16 March, 2007 - 10:11 am:   

I was looking through a book of mine called the Village London Atlas which basically shows 3 maps of all areas of London from the early 1800's to the early 1900's. The earliest for Forest Hill dates from 1816 clearly shows the route of the canal as it comes through Deptford, Brockley, Forest Hill, Penge Common and on to Croydon. It meanders quite a bit which suggests it follows natural contours. Also what comes across most markedly is how sparesly populated the area was 200 years ago. Forest Hill is a very small village and Brockley, no more than a smattering of farms and houses. Forest Hill road still runs up from Peckham Rye but there are only 2 roads running off it through and past Forest Hill. Honor Oak road (I think) runs through the village which seems to be slightly north and west of where the station is now. By the next map (from an 1861-71 survey) the canal has gone, and a couple of railway lines running near and past Forest Hill. The London Brighton and South Coast line which runns through Forest Hill and the Crystal Palace London Inner High Level Line which runs to the west down through Sydneham Hill to Crystal Palace. The huge "Crystal Palace" is clearly marked. Fascinating.
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Sunday, 18 March, 2007 - 02:48 am:   

I read through the links but I do not find the idea of the canal "dog-legging" between Smiths (by Forest Hill Station) and the weirdly shaped William Hills an attractive one.
After all there was nothing there at the time to negotiate around.

The thinking seems to be that it is the back wall of William Hills, running near parallel to the railway that indicates the route of the canal.
Its written in stone that the David's Rd high pavement was the tow path, the canal route running where the shops/The Hob are currently sited (rather than in David's road itself). The actual tarmacked road of David's Rd is on a gradient, and since it was a canal and not a water theme ride, it makes sense that the canal was on the shop side. Then again, if it had been a ride, it may have stayed in business longer, but I digress.

Looking at a satellite image of the area, it looks to me far more likely that the line of the canal at William Hill's should follow the long straight South first floor wall, which pretty much aligns with the back wall of the Dartmouth Arms, (which everyone seems to agree the canal ran behind).

So I'm suggesting that its the actual site of William Hills that marks the route of the canal and this makes it a near straight line path to the David's Rd canal section.

Of course that does not explain why the site of William Hill juts out onto the pavement.
It seems so inconsiderate, profit driven and a deliberate effort to stop people getting around to build out into the pavement like this.
British rail spring to mind with these criteria, and they did have a station behind William Hill's at one point, and of course bought up all the canal route. I rest my case.

Incidentally, did Havelock Walk ever have a lock?
I personally think not, as the canal would be on the level at this point.

sketch of potential canal route:
Joined 24-10-2006
Posted on Monday, 19 March, 2007 - 11:13 am:   

You raise some interesting points, Perryman. The "dog-leg" was probably created when the path was forced to go round the second Forest Hill station booking hall, which was built in 1858. The maps I've uploaded here [], dated 1863 and 1875, show the booking hall with the path going round it. They might also illuminate some of your other points.

I agree with you that the bookmakers is, in effect, within the canal. The boundary along the west (Dartmouth Road) side of the bookmaker's marks the western edge of the canal. This line continues along the bottom of the Dartmouth Arms' car park where there is still a pronounced drop to what would have been the canal bed. Some evidence of the canal wall, with buttresses to support it after the canal was drained, survived until a few years ago. The course of the canal beyond this point was discussed on the Sydenham Town website here []

According to Retracing Canals from Croydon to Camberwell the first (or last) lock was near Honor Oak Park station, with a further 26 between that point and New Cross Gate.
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Tuesday, 20 March, 2007 - 05:38 pm:   

Thanks again Steve.

It was probably common knowledge that the canal route was over the site of William Hills, but I've not seen it spelt out before.

As for Havelock Walk, maybe "Lock" referred more to the large pond at the bottom of Manor Mt - a locked in stretch of water as in the Scottish use of the word.

Incidentally I found out the "studio" houses on Havelock Walk were originally stables, the first floors being hay lofts.

Maybe here is a better link between Havelock Wk and the canal:
Its not impossible that the buildings on your maps on the Walk were also stables. And I suspect horses pulled the barges, steam tugs not common until later. And there is space for barges to be moored on the "lock".

So perhaps the barges were tied up in the "lock", the horses stabled in the Walk, and the barge men could duck into the Dartmouth Arms for a quick half and some Smoked eel, pancetta and beetroot chutney.
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Saturday, 24 March, 2007 - 10:17 am:   

I would have thought that Havelock Walk is named after General Havelock and has nothing to do with canal locks. He died in 1857 after holding out in The Indian Mutiny. A lot of Victorian Streets were named after battles and such - Alma, Mafeking, Crimea etc.
Joined 24-10-2006
Posted on Saturday, 24 March, 2007 - 02:32 pm:   

Perryman, the earliest reference I can find to Havelock Street (as it was originally called) is 1862, more than 20 years after the canal was closed. In 1862 the businesses included a blacksmith, carpenter, coach-maker and zinc worker. Havelock Street took its name from the terrace of shops on London Road that included Mackays and the Red Cross shop. From about 1858 this group of shops was known as Havelock Terrace. This fits rather well with Theotherbrian's suggestion that it was named after General Havelock.
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Monday, 26 March, 2007 - 04:28 pm:   

Yes, General Havelock, makes more sense. I guess it was amusing for them to dedicate this area to Gen Havelock,(next to the site of a canal with no lock at this point).
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Monday, 26 March, 2007 - 04:30 pm:   

My "the studios on Havelock Walk were originally stables" assertion could have been better phrased as "there is evidence that there was stabling available here in about 1900" (I found the ref in a collection of diaries of the area).

I boldly implied that they were built for purpose stables as for me it explained the architecture so well - garage and hay loft doors.
Agreed that I'm not on so solid ground if these other type of businesses listed also required these architectural features.
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Monday, 26 March, 2007 - 04:46 pm:   

Anyway, back to the idea that there was a stable on the path originally, and that Havelock Wk was built to provide a service the barges on the pond....

The blacksmith of 1862 could have been more of a farrier to keep my stable connection alive. After all, the immediate pure stabling requirement had gone with the closing of the canal....

The larger building on the map of 1868 is now the site of the studio last-but-one (with the round upper window), but I'm not prepared to make any suggestion that it is the same one.

(The very last studio that ironically does look very much like a stable is sited on the side path onto Davids Rd on the 1868 map, so that is definitely a newer building.)

Even if everyone agreed that this building was a built for purpose stable and is the same building shown on the 1868, then that still does not establish that it was there when the canal was running 30yrs earlier.
Joined 12-12-2006
Posted on Monday, 26 March, 2007 - 04:59 pm:   

Maybe its better to work the other way round.

We know the Dartmouth Arms was opened because of passing trade.

You would imagine that canal traffic was largely barges which you imagine were largely horse drawn.

Could weekend punters (literally) justify the pub being built? Especially with the winter months?
I'm guessing no.

How fast do these barges go? 1 mph? Maybe Forest Hill is the ideal resting point for the horses 4 hours from Croydon.

Was there space for the barges just to pull up next to the pub? I'm guessing no.

Or did the barges have to dock at the next convenient point which was the pond at the end of Havelock walk?

If someone tels me that this pond really was just a shallow puddle not capable of mooring canal boats, I'll go and play on another thread, as Havelock Wk would not have been built to service a puddle, and for me was then just designed as a service Rd/something else.

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