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Coordinates: 51°27′41″N 0°00′19″W / 51.461456°N 0.00537°W / 51.461456; -0.00537

Lewisham is located in Greater London

 Lewisham shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ385755
London borough Lewisham
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE13
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Lewisham East
Lewisham West and Penge
Lewisham Deptford
London Assembly Greenwich and Lewisham
List of places: UK • England • London

Lewisham is a district in south-east London, England and the principal settlement of the London Borough of Lewisham. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1]



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. It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."[2] '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. In the mid-seventeenth century, then-vicar of Lewisham, Abraham Colfe, built a grammar school, primary school and six almshouses for the inhabitants. The Earl of Dartmouth became the (hereditary) Viscount Lewisham in 1711.[citation needed]

The village of Lewisham was originally centred further south 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. Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965. Lewisham is the birth place of Suhayla Hizam.

Lewisham's High Street is particularly long and wide for a London suburb[citation needed].The town centre was hit by a V-1 in 1944 with over 300 fatalities. It devastated the high street, which was not restored to its former glory until the mid 1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham shopping centre (opened in 1977). The Sainsbury 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[citation needed]. There is also another large police station in nearby Catford. There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre.[3] There is a single skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands.

Almost all of the SE13 Lewisham postcode falls 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 London Borough of Greenwich.

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. The club still meets at Ladywell Swimming Baths, one of the public swimming pools in Lewisham which include Downham Health and Leisure Centre, the Bridge in Sydenham, Forest Hill Pools (closed for refurbishment) and Wavelengths in Deptford.

In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham."[4] (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.


Lewisham boasts three sixth form colleges called Christ the King Sixth Form College, and Crossways Sixth Form College. Also, Lewisham College itself has locations across the borough. Lewisham is also home to Goldsmiths College and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity School of music).


Lewisham, an important transport hub

Lewisham is a major local transport hub, lying on the A20 road towards Dover and at the start of A21 to Hastings, with its own large bus station, railway station and the southern terminus of the Docklands Light Railway. London Underground lines run into the north of the borough at New Cross station and New Cross Gate station as part of the East London Line. The stations is said to be re-opened as part of the London Overground network in Summer 2010, however there are currentily no plans to extend the New Cross branch to Lewisham or to other areas at the present time. The New Cross Gate branch however will be extended to Crystal Palace and Croydon.


Lewisham Rail Crash

Lewisham is also the site of one of the worst disasters on British Railways in the twentieth 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.


Edith Nesbit in The Wouldbegoods (1899) wrote:

In London, or at any rate Lewisham, nothing happens unless you make it happen; or if it happens it doesn't happen to you, and you don't know the people it does happen to.

Nearest places


  1. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. 
  2. ^ 'Lewisham', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 514-36. URL: Date accessed: 03 October 2007.
  3. ^ Lewisham London Borough Council - Lewisham town centre regeneration
  4. ^ '1997': The Battle of Lewisham URL: Date accessed 21 February 2008

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LEWISHAM, a south-eastern metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded N.W. by Deptford, N.E. by Greenwich, E. by Woolwich, and W. by Camberwell, and extending S. to the boundary of the county of London. Pop. (1901) 127,495. Its area is for the most part occupied by villas. It includes the districts of Blackheath and Lee in the north, Hither Green, Catford and Brockley in the central parts, and Forest Hill and part of Sydenham in the south-west. In the districts last named well-wooded hills rise above 300 ft., and this is an especially favoured residential quarter, its popularity being formerly increased by the presence of medicinal springs, discovered in 1640, on Sydenham Common. Towards the south, in spite of the constant extension of building, there are considerable tracts of ground uncovered, apart from public grounds. In the north the borough includes the greater part of Blackheath (q.v.), an open common of considerable historical interest. The other principal pleasure grounds are Hilly Fields (46 acres) and Ladywell Recreation Grounds (46 acres) in the north-west part of the borough; and at Sydenham (but outside the boundary of the county of London) is the Crystal Palace. Among institutions are the Horniman Museum, Forest Hill (1901); Morden's College, on the south of Blackheath, founded at the close of the 17th century by Sir John Morden for Turkey merchants who were received as pensioners, and subsequently extended in scope; numerous schools in the same locality; and the Park Fever Hospital, Hither Green. The parliamentary borough of Lewisham returns one member. The borough council consists of a mayor, 7 aldermen and 42 councillors. Area, 7014.4 acres.

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