All posts by Andrew Pearson

The making of a modern park

2-4pm, 23rd May 2015

Wells Way Pop Up, The Old Library, 39 Wells Way, London SE5 OPX

The story of the post-war creation of Burgess Park, told by some of the prime instigators. A free Friends of Burges Park Heritage Event, as part of the Chelsea Fringe (donations gratefully received).

Come and join in the conversation with Joyce Bellamy, OBE, former head of parks for GLC, Dave Sadler, former park manager, Robert Hadfield, formerly with Groundwork.

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The chat will be illustrated with images, maps, brochures and newsletters showing the development of the park from its WWII bomb site beginnings through the multi-million pound 2010 make-over to the present day.

There’ll be light refreshments available from the on-site cafe. This is a free Friends of Burgess Park Heritage Event, as part of the Chelsea Fringe festival (donations gratefully received).

Buses 343 and 136 (Elephant and Castle/Peckham/Lewisham) go almost to the door. Wells Way Pop Up is not fully accessible to wheelchair users: The access to the building is up 7 stone stairs and there are no level access toilet facilities in the building. If you can manage the entry steps and the steps to/from the basement level, we can assist with your access requirements.

Please help us plan for the day by registering on Eventbrite:

For more information, contact:


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Council to demolish last vestiges of canal

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.

Showing old wall with rear of Glengall Terrace behind Glengall Wharf Garden

Original wall of Surrey Canal round Glengall Wharf

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.

Black paintede wall around wharf, with 2 sailing barges

Glegall wharf around 100 years ago. ©Museum of London

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.

Two stone blocks just visible, embedded in concrete

Two stone blocks just visible, embedded in concrete

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.

See more on the history of the wharf here.

Museum of London – ‘Crowd-sourcing’ Project

The Museum of London, in its role a keeper of the Port of London Authority archive, recently completed a project to gather information on a cache of 150 or so photographs of the Grand Surrey Canal.  It’s thought these were taken between 1915 and 1925, and were attached to a notebook. They can be seen on the MOL site here.

10 thumbnail images of canal-side properties

Museum of London crowd-sourcing website © Museum of London

Bridge to Nowhere Launch

The Bridge to Nowhere heritage project is about to conclude after a hectic year. Lots has been happening, loads of people have learnt lots more about the history and heritage of Burgess Park. We’ll be inaugurating the new underpass artwork – a reminder of the main feature of the area which lead to the creation of the park – the Grand Surrey Canal. And we’ll be launching the new Burgess Park Heritage Trail.

Who is this, and where is he? Find out on the 7th June!

Who is this, and where is he? Find out on the 7th June!

Lots of surprises are in store for the day – people from the past will spring back into life, to give a flavour of the businesses which took place in the area, both legitimate and criminal! War time suffering and cinema entertainment will jostle with ice, lime and lemonade for your attention, as we take you on a journey through the past. Meet Jessie Burgess and find out why she really did deserve a park named after her. Don’t forget your smart phone either, so you can see how we’ve blended the old and the new to help you find out more about your local area.

Saturday, 7 June 2014, meet near the Lime Kiln by Wells Way any time from 1 pm, for fun and facts all afternoon.

News of upcoming Friends of Burgess Park events