New development, Renaissance, designed by Assael Architecture on Loampit Vale
Lewisham shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||SE13, SE3, SE8, SE12, SE14, SE6|
|UK Parliament||Lewisham Deptford|
|London Assembly||Greenwich and Lewisham|
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Lewisham (//) is an area in south-east London, England, in the London Borough of Lewisham, centred 5.9 miles (9.5 km) south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. As a major centre, Lewisham had a population of 96,224 in 2011. It is an important transport hub for South London, and is one of the borough's largest settlements.
It is most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) wrote:
- "In the most ancient Saxon records this place is called Levesham, that is, the house among the meadows; leswe, læs, læse, or læsew, in the Saxon, signifies a meadow, and ham, a dwelling. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham. It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."
"Leofshema" was an important settlement at the confluence of the rivers Quaggy (from Farnborough) and Ravensbourne (Caesar's Well, Keston), so the village expanded north into the wetter area as drainage techniques improved.
King Alfred was Lord of the Manor of Lewisham as is celebrated by a plaque in Lewisham Library.
The Manor of Lewisham was given, with its appendages of Greenwich and Combe, by Elthruda, King Alfred's niece, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent, to which Lewisham then became a cell, or alien priory; which grant is said to have been confirmed by King Edgar in 964, and by Edward the Confessor in 1044, with the addition of many privileges.
In the 17th century the Manor of Lewisham was purchased by George Legge, later Baron Dartmouth. His son William was raised by Queen Anne to several posts of honour and trust, and was of her privy council; and on 5 September 1711, was advanced to the dignities of Viscount Lewisham, and Earl of Dartmouth. His grandson George, Lord Dartmouth, obtained from King Charles II a grant, to hold a fair twice a year, and a market twice a week, upon Blackheath in the parish. The former of which used to be held on 12 May and 11 October; but it has since the year 1772, been discontinued, (excepting for the sale of cattle) by public notice, given by the Earl of Dartmouth, as lord of the manor.
The village of Lewisham had its nucleus in its southern part around the parish church of St Mary, towards the present site of University Hospital Lewisham. The centre migrated north with the coming of the North Kent railway line to Dartford in 1849, encouraging commuter housing. The Official Illustrated Guide to South-Eastern and North and Mid-Kent Railways by George Measom from June 1863 describes Lewisham thus: 'Lewisham Station, situated on the slope of an eminence admist picturesque scenery, beautiful green meadows rising abruptly to the summit of the hill on the left, dotted with handsome residences and gardens, while the Common is seen intersected by various cross roads and studded with country inns and houses on the low ground or valley to the right. The area of the parish is 5,789 acres... Lord of the manor, the Earl of Dartmouth to whom it gives the title Viscount'.
The town centre was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944 with over 300 fatalities which devastated the high street, which was restored fully by the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977). The plaque was on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, suffering wear and tear, the local authority arranged for it to be mounted to the façade. The Sainsbury's store in Lewisham Shopping Centre was briefly the largest supermarket in Europe. The store still exists today and is small by modern standards. The area at the north end of the High Street was pedestrianised in 1994. It is home to a daily street market and a local landmark, the clock tower, completed in 1900 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The police station, which was opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe.
Lewisham Cricket Club was one of the most prestigious London sides during the Victorian era. They played at Lewisham Cricket Ground from 1864, which lay north of Ladywell Road until its closure in the latter part of the 19th century. Lewisham Swimming Club was also very successful with several of its members representing England in water polo and other gymkhana events. During the First World War, Lewisham Hospital's infirmary became the Lewisham Military Hospital and during the Second World War the hospital was hit by a V-1 flying bomb, which destroyed two wards, injured 70 people and killed one nurse.
Lewisham is also the site of one of the worst disasters on British Railways in the 20th century. On 4 December 1957 a crowded steam-hauled passenger express headed for the Kent coast overran signals at danger in thick fog near St. John's station and crashed into a stationary electric train for the Hayes branch line. The force of the impact brought down an overhead railway bridge onto the wreckage below. An electric multiple unit about to cross the bridge towards Nunhead managed to pull up in time. 90 passengers and crew died in the accident.
In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham (actually in New Cross) saw the biggest street battle against fascists since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Over 10,000 people turned out to oppose a National Front march which was organised on the back of increasing electoral success at that time.
The parish of Lewisham was governed by a vestry; and from 1855 until 1900 by the Lewisham District Board of Works, in combination with Penge. Following the London Government Act 1899, the County of London was split into 28 metropolitan boroughs in 1900. Lewisham, with the parish of Lee, became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham. In 1965, after the London Government Act 1963 was passed through Parliament, the current 32 London boroughs where formed and today Lewisham is part of the London Borough of Lewisham.
Lewisham London Borough Council is based in Catford. The current directly elected mayor is Steven Bullock. For the London Assembly, the London Borough of Lewisham is joined with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to form the Greenwich and Lewisham constituency, with the current AM being Len Duvall. For Westminster elections, Lewisham is covered by the Lewisham Deptford constituency where the current Member of Parliament is Vicky Foxcroft. All representatives are part of the Labour Party.
Commercial area and amenities
Lewisham's commercial area is one of the largest in South East London. Lewisham Shopping Centre, opened in 1977, has 70 stores over 330,000 square feet. Shops include Marks & Spencer, W H Smith, Sainsburys, H&M, TK Maxx, JD Sports, BHS and Argos. The centre is between Molesworth Street (a dual carriageway section of the A21), but most shoppers enter and leave on the High Street. Lewisham Market and the Library is outside the shopping centre on the High Street.
Fashionable street food outlet Street Feast now operates in Lewisham in a former 1950s Model Market.
Lewisham has a bowling alley and the Glassmill Swimming pool and Gym.
Lewisham has a number of parks such as Hilly Fields and Lewisham Park.
Lewisham is the only London Borough not to have a cinema. Sadly Lewisham once had many such as the Lewisham Odeon. In 1930 there were 30 venues showing films.
Opened in 1894, University Hospital Lewisham is an National Health Service, acute hospital run by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust serving the whole London Borough of Lewisham as well as some surrounding areas. In July 2012 the government recommended that Lewisham's Accident & Emergency ward should be closed, with reliance on emergencies transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. However, there was a strong campaign in Lewisham against the proposed closure, including a march on 24 November 2012 and a successful legal challenge. In July 2013, the High Court ruled that the closure of Lewisham A&E could not go ahead. In October 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not have power to implement cuts at Lewisham Hospital.
Sixth form and further education providers in Lewisham include Christ the King Sixth Form College and LeSoCo. Lewisham is also home to Goldsmiths, University of London and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity College of Music).
All trains are operated by Southeastern. With trains to London Victoria, London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street both via London Bridge and via Sidcup, Orpington, Hayes, Dartford via Bexleyheath and Gillingham via Woolwich Arsenal.
Lewisham is served by many Transport for London bus services connecting it with areas including Beckenham, Bexleyheath, Bromley, Brixton, Elephant & Castle, Catford, Central London, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Eltham, Greenwich, New Cross, Orpington, Peckham, Penge, Sidcup, Stratford, Thamesmead and Woolwich.
There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre. Lewisham London Borough Council's local development plan entails the improvement of Lewisham's town centre to become a metropolitan centre to rival Bromley, Croydon and Kingston upon Thames.
There are three major development sites on Loampit Vale:
- The Renaissance development comprises flats in buildings from 5 to 24 storeys as well as the new Glass Mill leisure centre, which opened in 2013 and replaced the Ladywell leisure centre.
- Lewisham Gateway is a redevelopment site bounded by the DLR station, Lewisham High Street, the Shopping Centre and the Railway to Blackheath. The highway layout is being changed from a roundabout to two signalised junctions, while the River Ravensbourne and the Quaggy will be re-routed. The development includes shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, leisure facilities and up to 800 homes. The first phase of construction started in May 2014 with a 15 and 25 story residential building east of the DLR station.
- Thurston Road industrial estate had planning consent granted in 2008, however the development has been heavily delayed. The scheme will be a mixed used site, which includes residential and commercial buildings of between two and 17 storeys, as well a car park.
Among those who were born or have lived in Lewisham are:
- Gary Oldman (actor) born and raised in New Cross
- Ginger Baker (drummer of Cream) born and brought up in Lewisham
- Natasha Bedingfield (singer/songwriter) brought up in Lewisham
- Rosa May Billinghurst (suffragette) lived in Lewisham
- Kate Bush (musician) lived in Brockley and Lewisham
- Ann Batten Cristall (1769–1848), poet and schoolteacher
- Leland Lewis Duncan (photographer, writer) born in Lewisham
- Malcolm Hardee (comedian) lived in Blackheath and Lewisham
- Keely Hazell (page 3 girl & model) born in Lewisham
- Jessica Hynes (actress and comedienne) born in Lewisham
- Frank King (cricketer) born in Lewisham
- Joseph (b.1833) and Richard Lamb (b.1836), founders of J&R Lamb Studios, famous for its stained glass
- Elsa Lanchester (Anglo-American actress) born in Lewisham
- Jude Law (actor) lived in Lewisham
- Neal Lawson (politician) was born in Lewisham
- Angie Le Mar (comedian, radio broadcaster) was born and brought up in Lewisham
- Marie Lloyd (entertainer) lived in Lewisham and New Cross
- Alexander McQueen (designer) born in Lewisham
- Kwes (record music producer and Warp recording artist) was born and brought up in Lewisham
- Edith Nesbit (writer) lived in Blackheath, Grove Park and Lewisham
- P Money (Grime music artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
- Novelist (Grime music artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
- William Page (historian and general editor of the Victoria County History) lived in Lewisham from 1875 until he emigrated to Queensland in 1881
- Jonathan Palmer former Formula One driver and commentator.
- Mica Paris (musician) lived in Lewisham
- Gladys Powers (centenarian) was born in Lewisham
- Maxi Priest (musician) was born and raised in Lewisham
- Luke Pritchard (musician) was born in Lewisham
- Louise Redknapp (TV presenter & wife of footballer Jamie Redknapp) was born in Lewisham
- Kieran Richardson (footballer) currently playing for Aston Villa, lived in Lewisham
- Doris Stokes (spirit-medium) lived in Lewisham
- Doveton Sturdee British Admiral of the Fleet was born in Lewisham
- David Sylvian (musician) lived in Lewisham
- Eamonn Walker (TV and film actor & husband of Sandra Walker) was born in Lewisham
- Ian Wright (footballer) lived in Lewisham and Brockley
- Shaun Wright-Phillips (footballer & son of Ian Wright) grew up in Brockley
- Conrad Williams Commonwealth Games 2014 Gold Medalist
- Sid Vicious (musician) was born in Lewisham
- Troy von Scheibner (magician) born in Lewisham
- Yannick Bolasie (footballer) brought up in Lewisham
Almost all of the SE13 postcode district, which is associated with Lewisham, Ladywell and Hither Green, is within the London Borough of Lewisham, except for the Coldbath Estate and part of the Orchard Estate along Lewisham Road, which are covered by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
||St Johns, New Cross||Deptford, Greenwich||Blackheath|
Other Nearby Areas:
The nearest Met Office climate station is based in Greenwich Park:
|Climate data for London (Greenwich)|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.0
|Average high °C (°F)||8.3
|Average low °C (°F)||2.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−10.0
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||51.6
|Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||10.8||8.5||9.6||9.4||9.0||8.3||8.0||7.6||8.5||10.7||10.1||9.9||110.4|
|Average snowy days||4||4||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||3||16|
|Average relative humidity (%)||81.0||76.0||69.0||64.0||62.0||60.0||60.0||62.0||67.0||73.0||78.0||82.0||69.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||49.9||71.4||107.1||159.8||181.2||181.0||192.1||195.1||138.9||108.1||58.5||37.4||1,480.5|
|Source #1: Record highs and lows from BBC Weather, except August and February maximum from Met Office|
|Source #2: All other data from Met Office, except for humidity and snow data which are from NOAA|
|Climate data for London (Heathrow airport 1981−2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||8.1
|Average low °C (°F)||2.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||55.2
|Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm)||11.1||8.5||9.3||9.1||8.8||8.2||7.7||7.5||8.1||10.8||10.3||10.2||109.6|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||61.5||77.9||114.6||168.7||198.5||204.3||212.0||204.7||149.3||116.5||72.6||52.0||1,632.6|
|Source: Met Office|
- London Borough of Lewisham
- Lewisham Shopping Centre
- University Hospital Lewisham
- Lewisham, Sydney, named after Lewisham
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