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Coordinates: 51°25′37″N 0°05′44″W / 51.427025°N 0.095539°W / 51.427025; -0.095539

West Norwood
West Norwood is located in Greater London
West Norwood

 West Norwood shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325715
London borough Lambeth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE27
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Dulwich and West Norwood
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places: UK • England • London

West Norwood (sometimes referred to as Norwood) is a place in the London Borough of Lambeth. It is primarily a residential suburb of south London but with some light industry near Knights Hill in the south. It is 5.4 miles (8.7 km) south south-east of Charing Cross, bordered by Upper Norwood, Crystal Palace, West Dulwich, Tulse Hill and Streatham.

West Norwood is part of the Norwood town centre area of the London Borough of Lambeth comprising Gipsy Hill, Thurlow Park, and Knights Hill Wards. The town centre office is located at the West Norwood Library. It is currently represented by nine councillors, six of whom are Conservative and three Labour. Two of the Conservative councillors for Thurlow Park ward have served continuously on the Council since 1990.


Places and spaces

Most public buildings and shops in West Norwood are anchored on either side of Norwood Road and Knights Hill, which runs north-south through the town.

West Norwood is well served for parks and open spaces with Norwood Park and Brockwell Park which is only a short walk outside the town centre area. The Cemetery has 45 acres (18.2 hectares) of green space in the centre of the town. There are tennis courts, a recreation ground and a small wood beside Knights Hill. Peabody Hill Wood is an area of outstanding importance recognised by English Nature.

Education is a major service industry in West Norwood, which has several private sector and local authority primary schools. A number of local parents are promoting the foundation of Elmgreen School as a new non-faith secondary school, with funding from the government, which is scheduled to open in 2007.

West Norwood is also home to L'Arche Lambeth, a L'Arche Community founded in 1977 by Therese Vanier. The Community provides 5 residential care homes and 5 day provision workshops for adults with learning disabilities, and is part of the International Federation of L'Arche.

There are churches of many denominations, including the Anglican parishes of All Saints and St Luke's, the Roman Catholic parish of St Matthew's, the Chatsworth Baptist Church, and the Roupell Methodist Church, as well as several newly arrived faith groups that follow the evangelical or charismatic tradition. In 2000, All Saints Church, home of the Lambeth Orchestra, burned down, but it re-opened on the same site in 2006 thanks to the sustained work of parishioners and the local community. The longest serving member of the clergy is Provost John Devane, parish priest at St Matthew's, West Norwood, since May 1970, who retired in September 2007.


Before 1885 West Norwood was known as Lower Norwood, in contrast to Upper Norwood and South Norwood. These areas were created as a result of the enclosure acts which divided up the Great North Wood, hence the name 'Norwood'. The first act in 1797 was for Croydon and was mainly in favour of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the south, while the second in 1806 was for Lambeth, being mainly in favour of Lord Thurlow to the north.

John Rocque's 1745 map of London already showed the Horns Tavern at Knight's Hill in the south of the town, backing onto extensive woodland, with an open valley stretching to 'Island Green' in the north, approximately where Herne Hill railway station stands now. The enclosure maps 50 years later showed little left of the woodland other than a few coppices. Most of the current main roads were soon in position with a turnpike gate at the junction of the roads now called Norwood road and the High Street. The River Effra ran alongside the current Elder Road towards Sydenham in open countryside, and was prone to flooding. The new parish required a church, so St. Luke's was provided under the Waterloo church scheme, one of four built in Lambeth (the others being Matthew, Mark, and John) and was completed in 1825. Originally St Luke's parish served just a few substantial villas, and some more humble worker's cottages mainly situated between Knights Hill and the High Street. The early 19th century saw the arrival of recreational tea gardens around Knights Hill and Beulah Hill, and the South Metropolitan Cemetery in 1837. The new railway line to Sydenham and the Crystal Palace in 1856 heralded major changes, and many of the larger houses and gardens were demolished and replaced with predominantly terraced and Semi-detached housing over the next 4 decades.

Norwood High Street never developed into a major shopping parade as originally planned, instead most local shops have been located on the Norwood Rd between York Hill and St Luke's. Horse-drawn trams shuttled passengers along this road from the terminus in front of St Luke's to Herne Hill, and beyond. More recently, parts of West Norwood have been declared conservation areas including the area around the cemetery, Lancaster Avenue, and Rosendale Road. Local landmarks such as the old Victorian fire station on Norwood High Street and its Edwardian successor - the present-day fire station on Norwood Road are now Grade II listed buildings (as is the former public library on Knights Hill, now a community centre).

The two world wars witnessed fatalities and bomb damage to many buildings in the area, with York Hill and the areas around the railway suffering particularly badly. Chatsworth Baptist church had to be rebuilt after a direct hit.[1] Many of the post-war estates were built on bomb sites or replaced areas which had experienced damage.

A stunning Art Deco cinema, named The Regal, was built at 304 Norwood Road in the late 1920s. It was designed by architect F Edward Jones and opened in January 1930. The cinema sat 2,010 and was equipped with a Christie Manual organ. The cinema closed on 8 February 1964 with a double screening of Peter Sellers' I'm Alright Jack and Two Way Stretch. Following its closure, the building became a Top Rank Bingo Club a few months later and remained open until 1978. The building was demolished in November 1981 and a B&Q store can be seen today on the same site.[2]


Knights Hill

Confusingly, there are two areas called Knight's Hill nearby; the names of both areas have similar origins, both belonging to Thomas Knyght in 1545, and in the south was known as Knight's Hill Common while the hill to the north was known as Knight's Hill Farm.

The better known area is the residential area and electoral ward to the south west by the road called Knights Hill. The southern Knight's Hill Common originally formed part of Lambeth Manor, and contained land called Julian's, which is remembered through the street name of St Julian's Farm Road. The hill formed the nucleus of the vast estate in Lambeth and Streatham which Lord Thurlow acquired during the 18th Century,[3] which was broken up for development on his death.

There is a second Knight's Hill to the north, near Thurlow Park Road (over the Tulse Hill railway tunnel, near West Dulwich railway station – which was originally called Lower Knights Hill station.) It includes the hilly land between the western end of Thurlow Park Road (South Circular), Peabody Hill and Lovelace Road, where the adjoining Rosendale Allotments in SE21 stand today. The green area is still marked as Knight's Hill on detailed maps, but is normally unmarked on modern streetmaps to avoid confusion. Originally, the northern Knight's Hill farm was part of the Manor of Levehurst, and later of the Manor of Leigham Court and the parish of Streatham.[4]

Clocks in West Norwood

  • St Luke's churchtower clock was supplied by Vulliamy, the Royal Clockmaker, in 1825 for £357 and was retained by Street when he rebuilt the church in 1870, new tubular bells being added in 1892.
  • Part of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was filmed in Nettlefold Hall which is part of West Norwood Library centre.
  • A private residence, The Clock House in Chestnut Road, contains a clock museum which opens to the public during London Open House each September.
  • The Telephone Manufacturing Company Limited (TMC) had a factory at Park Hall Road which produced Temco and Chronomatic electric master clocks, synchronous clocks.[5]

Local landmarks

Local landmarks include West Norwood Cemetery, South London Theatre, St Luke's Church and the Old Library, originally endowed by Henry Tate and renovated by Lambeth Council in 2004 with the aid of grants from the Single Regeneration Budget. The modern library, which includes the Nettlefold Hall, was host to a popular local cinema club "Film on Thursday".

  • South London Theatre, formerly West Norwood's first fire station with prominent watch tower. Owen Luder conversion 1881.
  • South London Botantical Institute, 323 Norwood Road, SE24, Brick built Victorian villa. Few changes since 1910 when retired colonial administrator Alan Octavian founded the Institute with library, herbarium, botanical garden, public areas.
  • Norwood Park. 33½ surviving acres of the Great North Wood were bought by local councils with the aid of public subscription, opening on 14 June 1911.[6] First known as New Park it has great views of the city. It includes a children's playground, childcare centre, skateboard ramp and paddling pools. Facing the park is Elder Road, with an attractive terrace of private Georgian and Victorian housing behind high iron railings, former school buildings for the 'Norwood House of Industry'
  • Free Public Library (The Old Library). In 2004 this has been a cafe and venue for local meetings, activities, exhibitions and events. The building opened on 21 July 1888 as the first public library in Lambeth until superseded by a new library and hall on the other side of St Luke's Church. . The building was designed by Sidney Smith, architect of Tate Britain and several other Lambeth libraries, using red brick, terracotta and Ham Hill stone, with a balcony above the entrance loggia. It was commissioned by Sir Henry Tate on land donated by Frederick Nettlefold: both were local donors who now rest in the nearby cemetery.
  • Mrs Woodford Fawcett Fountain - in front of St Luke's Church, where Norwood Road splits into Norwood High Street and Knights Hill. Mrs Fawcett was a local temperance campaigner and is buried in the cemetery just a minute's walk from the fountain.
  • Norwood Hall, currently a mothballed community centre, is visible from trains approaching West Norwood railway station. The Hall and the surrounding Hainthorpe Housing Estate [1], sit on the 9-acre (36,000 m2)-site of a Jewish orphanage and hospital built in 1861-3.[7] The children's home moved out a century later, but kept the name Norwood, leaving the site under Lambeth's control. Of the original building only the porter's lodge off Knights Hill now remains, its curving Dutch-gables, red brick with black diaperwork and mullioned windows suggesting the design of the former 3-storey institution.

Transport and locale

Nearest places

Nearest rail stations

Bus garage

Notable former and current residents



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Norwood: Introduction Survey of London: volume 26: Lambeth: Southern area (1956) 17 March 2008]
  4. ^ Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, The London Encyclopedia, ISBN 0-333-57688-8 West Norwood
  5. ^ The Telephone Manufacturing Co Ltd.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Sir Ninian Comper in Norwood The Norwood Society
  9. ^ Making the cut for honours list Streatham Guardian 10 January 2008

External links


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