You may have seen our blog 2 years ago on this historic bit of Surrey Canal infrastructure. The only remaining section of canal bank, which marked the junction of the Camberwell branch (1810) with the Peckham branch (1830) of the Grand Surrey Canal, has probably stood in this position, if not this state, for 120-150 years.
However, although still absolutely solid, the surface is beginning to crumble and become unsightly, especially for the new flats opposite, and the council have been determined to replace it. Work started at the beginning of 2017 on a like-for-like replacement (rather than suburban bypass-style concrete block planters), as far as funds and practicality allow. The top end of Surrey Canal walk has been closed whilst this happens.
First up was the removal of a two metre-wide strip of the beautifully worn cobbles on the top surface, which now forms the ground level for the Glengall Wharf community garden.
The work has been majorly distruptive for the garden, involving the removal of a fine old self-seeded plum tree and many garden structures. However, it was arranged to take place in winter, outside the growing season, to at least minimise this.
These cobbles, known as granite setts, have been taken up with a JCB and as far as possible preserved for replacement when the wall work is complete. It was thought that they’d been set solidly in concrete, but they’ve mostly come away cleanly, minus a few breakages.
Around the end of January, work started on excavating beneath the garden surface and removing soil from behind the wall. Here things got interesting for the contractors, as they discovered the foundations of the rubbish chutes, visible in the photo beneath, and on our previous blog
Now, it’s a case of tearing down the old wall and carting it away.
One or two interesting finds were made:
It also became clear that a previous wall had existed further back than the concrete wall, judging by the foundations uncovered:
Work is due to finish in March 2017, so watch this space for updates. Please do go and see the works for yourself, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment here!
Southwark Council has decided that the original retaining wall of Glengall Wharf should be replaced with a concrete block barrier similar to those used on motorway embankments. Flowers and plants in the gaps will look ‘nice’, but effectively erase any idea of a canal bank.
The existing wall is certainly not pretty, but it’s a major piece of industrial archaeology from the days when the canal ran alongside and turned down towards Peckham. Apart from the small low concrete ledge in the grass oppposite, it’s the only piece of original canal bank left on the entire three and a half mile length of the Grand Surrey Canal. It features in numerous historic photos of the area.
In this image, you can see the black painted wall with timber fenders attached part way down. In the present-day image above and below, the black painting is still visible, with plain concrete below, where the fenders had been attached.
It’s also still possible to see large stone blocks embedded in the wall, if you take a walk today. These were the footings of the large loading chutes visible in the historic image. There are 12 visible on the Peckham route, corresponding to the 6 loading chutes which were on that side of Glengall Wharf.
It seems a great shame to bury almost the last signs of industrial canal heritage for the sake of a tidy-up.
The traditional craft workshops run by Friends of Burgess Park as part of their history project Bridge to Nowhere were greeted with enthusiasm and a desire to learn craft skills – especially knitting. The word got about and well over 30 people took part on the last day, with 100 participants over the three days. Local people got the chance to try out traditional hand sewing, embroidery and knitting, and canal style art. Most of the people taking part were born long after the canal closed, but were interested to learn more about it. The local residents are definitely keen to develop their craft skills to show and sell their work in the future.
This year’s Friends of Burgess Park May Fair showcased the heritage of Burgess Park and launched the Heritage Lottery Funded project – Burgess Park: The Bridge to Nowhere?
Thank you to everyone who came and supported the May Fair this year. We had a great time and were delighted to see so many of you.
The history of Burgess Park was illuminated with the temporary photographic heritage trail. The trail covers about 2.5 miles and will come down after Sunday, 26th May.
The 17 points along the trail explain how the Burgess Park development took place gradually, within living memory. The ever-increasing patches of green which stretched along the canal route were named Burgess Park in 1973. There are still a few remaining features of the park’s “pre-history”, including: canal bridges; former almshouses, library and bath-house; and a lime kiln which was once on the bank of the canal. The site is a lost part of London – an area where thousands of people lived, went to school and worked, and which is now covered by expanses of grass, numerous pathways, and a lake.
If you have memories of the park please get in touch we want to collect your stories and share your memories and photographs. Email email@example.com
At the May Fair this year we enjoyed:
Friends of Burgess Park stall, historic cutouts by Davies and Daughters and the marvellous Heritage Photography Trail; First Place: Victorian Games and Costumes; Art in the Park: Brickmaking and sculpture walk; The Hour Bank; tea and natural cosmetics at the Glengall Community Garden; Hollington Youth Club; Paris Rock; Massage to You; Lorna’s toys and clothes; Camberwell College of Art; Peckham Vision and Network; Peckham Shed; Pembroke House; Southwark Carers; Faraday Safer Neighbourhood team (Met Police); Southwark Circle; Docks to Desktop (Bubble Theatre); Cinema Museum; St Peter’s Church; Sweet Tooth; Purple Mango; Manmade Food; Dean Masters Caribbean Kitchen; Rosie’s Cakery; Clarice Catering; fishing with Thames 21; and Exclusive Ballooning — the balloon went up; Vauxhall City Farm; Carla’s Boot Camp; Dogs Trust displays; steam train rides and live music!
Manage Cookie Consent
To provide the best experiences, we use technologies like cookies to store and/or access device information. Consenting to these technologies will allow us to process data such as browsing behaviour or unique IDs on this site. Not consenting or withdrawing consent, may adversely affect certain features and functions.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.