A Penge Walk

Route & what to see


Penge is described in the Domesday Book as a wood for 50 hogs. It remained a rural area with a population of only 270 in 1841 (of whom a number were almspeople) even though it had had a railway since 1839. The population rose to 1169 in 1851 but the biggest impact on Penge was the re-siting of the Crystal Palace. This building housing the Great Exhibition had been a great success during 1851 in Hyde Park and when it closed its designer Joseph Paxton formed a company to purchase it for 70,000 plus land at Penge Place for 50,000 where it was re-erected in 1852-4. The London & Brighton Railway built a line and a station to serve the Palace so that by 1861 the area had developed and the population risen to 5015.

Although Penge has no pre-Victorian buildings it can boast 3 groups of almshouses together with conservation areas and other buildings of interest including canal /railway features.

Circular walk of 2 miles from Penge West Station. Penge East Station is also on the route. You can extend the walk by exploring Crystal Palace Park [more info]

Begin at the station forecourt
The Croydon Canal was built by John Rennie between 1801-9 and went from West Croydon to Peckham then via the Grand Surrey into the Thames and was used for the carriage of bulk goods. However it had a short life and in 1836 was sold to the London & Croydon Railway who drained the canal and used much of the route for its line, opened in 1839. The white building was the original station building and gatekeeper's house as the line crossed the road at a level crossing. However this station was so little used that it closed in 1841. It re-opened in 1863 (on the same date as the London Chatham & Dover's line through Penge East) with a new station building - still in use. Station buildings on the other side of the line (extended in 1889) were demolished in the 1970s.

Walk to the right down Anerley Park into the main road.
The railway on the left is the branch line to Crystal Palace 'Low Level' Station of 1854. The line on the right is the former London & Croydon with a bricked up station entrance. In 1845 an extra (atmospheric) line was added and the crossing replaced by a bridge when the road had to be lowered. Between the two lines to the north of the road a wharf was sited in the days of the canal.

Go right along the High Street
Homebase occupies the site of a coal yard.

Cross and go left up Kingswood Road
Look for boundary markers outside numbers 52 & 55. Penge has been 'moved' from Surrey to Kent to London and back to Kent again! At the end of the road is the former Park Farm Dairy Building. Prior to development cows would have grazed on nearby Penge Common.

Go right along Station Road
Numbers 9 & 11 are locally listed for their attractive brickwork. The Good Shepherd RC Church was built as the Holy Trinity Mission Hall in 1885 especaily for the poor.

Continue to Penge East Station
Towards London the line goes through a 1 mile long tunnel under Sydenham Hill. Jutting onto the platform is another crossing keeper's cottage. Adjacent to this are the premises of Tomei & Sons. This old-established family firm makes plaster decorations including pieces for some notable London buildings

Go right at St John's Road
On the right are some attractive almshouses of 1848. These were built at the request of Queen Adelaide, in memory of her husband William IV, as a Royal Naval Asylum for 12 widows or orphan daughters of officers. Designed by Philip Hardwick in a Tudor style they are now private residences.There is a boundary post near the entrance. The flats opposite were designed for Penge Urban District Council by Edward Armstrong and have a plaque denoting their Festival of Britain Award for Merit. They replaced Victorian housing damaged by bombing. At the end of the road is the Grade II listed church of St John the Evangalist designed in 1850 by Edwin Nash. Until 1855 Penge was a hamlet of Battersea, seven miles away. The land and 1000 towards the 4000 cost was given by John Dudin Brown, the benefactor of the Watermen & Lightermen who appointed the clergy. It was enlarged in the 1860s and a steeple was added to the original tower.

Turn left into the High Street
The Watermen & Lightermen's Almshouses were built 1839-1843 for retired Company Freemen and their widows. An obelisk records the gift of finance and 2 acres of land from Dudin Brown of Sydenham. Designed by George Porter they originally provided 48 3-roomed homes. The almspeople moved to Hastings in 1973 and the buildings were converted to larger private homes. The corner lodge records the restoration of the almshouses as a war memorial to company freeman and apprentices killed in WWI.

Cross Penge Lane
The Penge Triangle now features pterodactyl wing structures and a piece of Millennium Rock. It has been the site of an ancient oak with seats, a shell grotto, a horse trough and underground toilets. The Crooked Billet pub was re-built in 1840 and served as a venue for local meetings. Originally a wooden building of 1792 it was demolished for the construction of the almshouses. The frontage was altered around 1960 following war damage.

Go along Penge Lane
On the right is a small square of cottages from before 1843. At the end is The Alexandra (Tavern) built around 1869 with stabling.

At the end cross Parish Lane into Albert Road.
The 164 cottages in these 'regally' named roads were built in 1866-8 by the 'Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes' established in 1841. Most are now privately owned and many were 'improved' before it became a conservation area. There are former Estate Office and School buildings on Parish Lane. The schoolroom also housed a library and provided facilities for adult education and entertainments. It closed in 1880 and was converted into housing.

Go to the end of Albert Road, left and then right along Hardings Lane
Hardings Lane is named after the turnpike proprietor as it was the route between Penge and Sydenham. A plaque gives some information on the 'Alexandra Cottages'. Across the road is the Alexandra Recreation Ground laid out on part of the former Penge Cricket Ground.

Go right along Lennard Road
On the left is Holy Trinity church built in 1878 on land given by Albemarle Cator. Designed by Daukes & Clarke it was financed by Francis Peek (of Peek Freans biscuits) as a memorial to his parents. It has been imaginatively restored following an arson attack in 1993. Contact phone no 020 8778 7258. [

Opposite Cator Road go through to Victor Road. At the end go left along Parish Lane to the crossroads and turn right into Green Lane.
The church building on the corner was formerly the Penge & Beckenham Co-op (1901). A horse trough remains in this road.

Continue to the traffic lights
The range of shops called Central Exchange was built in 1899. The police station was opened in 1872 to replace a temporary building of 1870. Diagonally opposite on a site now occupied by Tudor Park Estate Agents was the Penge Chapel of 1837. It became a school when St John's Church was built in 1850 and was demolished in 1937. The Pawleyne Arms provided horses for the local fire engine.

Go right along the High Street
On the left are two squares. The one by the entrance to the Blenheim Shopping Centre features sails & a Blitz plaque and the other by the public toilets has a dinosaur theme. The first square is on the site of the Empire Theatre, designed by WGR Sprague and opened in 1915, in which famous Music Hall names appeared. It became the Essoldo Cinema in 1949 and was demolished in 1960 when its fittings were sold off.

Go left along Maple Road
This road leading to Anerley once had a popular street market. On the right are St John's Cottages built in 1863 as almshouses by Edwin Nash the church architect. Number 8 was rebuilt after a gas explosion in 1959. Opposite is the library and Salvation Army Citadel (1894)

Turn right into Blean Grove and opposite Gladstone Mews go into the recreation ground to the right.
This was opened in 1888

Continue either side of the playground through to the High Street
The War Memorial for those killed in WWI was unveiled in 1925. The names of those who died in WWII were added later.

Go left along the High Street
Two large houses of c1840 remain. Number 54 was the home of the Penge & Beckenham Liberal & Radical Club but is now flats. Number 52 (The White House) is a dental surgery. Opposite on the corner of Mosslea Road is a former Methodist Chapel that once served as a Soup Kitchen for the poor. It has been converted for residental use.

Continue along the High Street. Anerley Park on the left leads back to the station or a little further on is the entrance to Crystal Palace Park.
The park has a cafe and information centre

Bromley Local Studies & Archives have produced an illustrated booklet 'A Walk Around Penge' (small charge). It may be available in Bromley Central Library which will have other information about the area.
There is a book of old photographs selected and captioned by Mick Scott
Doris Pullen has written a book about Penge which was revised in 1990
'Around Crystal Palace & Penge' by David R Johnson


london-footprints.co.uk 2012

[walks list]