Infobox UK place
official_name= Lewisham
map_type= Greater London
region= London
country= England
london_borough= Lewisham
constituency_westminster= Lewisham East
constituency_westminster1= Lewisham West and Penge
constituency_westminster2= Lewisham Deptford
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= SE
postcode_district= SE13
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ385755
latitude= 51.461456
longitude= -0.00537

Lewisham is a district in south-east London, England and the principal settlement of the London Borough of Lewisham.


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." ['Lewisham', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 514-36. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45489. Date accessed: 03 October 2007.] '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 the 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.

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's High Street is particularly long and wide for a London suburb.The town centre was hit by a V-1 in 1944 with over 300 fatalities. It devastated the high street, which was not restored into its former glory until the mid 1950's. 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. There is also another large police station in nearby Catford. There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre. [ [http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/Environment/Regeneration/LewishamCentreRegeneration/ Lewisham London Borough Council] - Lewisham town centre regeneration] 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 their members representing England in water polo and other gymkhana events. The club still meet 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." ['1997': The Battle of Lewisham URL:http://libcom.org/history/articles/battle-of-lewisham-1977. Date accessed 21 February 2008] (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 [http://www.crossways.ac.uk/ Crossways Academy] . Also, Lewisham College itself has locations across the borough. Lewisham is also home to [http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/ Goldsmiths College] and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity School of music).


Lewisham is a major 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. Tube lines run into the north of the borough at New Cross and are due to be expanded south as part of the East London Line extension.

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.

Notable former inhabitants

*Ginger Baker — drummer, musician
*Daniel Bedingfield — singer
*Natasha Bedingfield — singer
*Rosa May Billinghurst — suffragette
*Kate Bush — singer
*Emily Wilding Davison - Suffragette born in Blackheath (died at The Epsom Derby)
*Walter de la Mare — novelist
*Jazz Dhiman — actor
*James Elroy Flecker — poet
*Julian Gray — footballer
*Malcolm Hardee — comedian and compere
*Keeley Hazell — model
*Jessica Hynes comedienne and actress
*Billy Jenkins — jazz and blues guitarist and composer
*Frederick Lanchester — car manufacturer
*Jude Law — actor and Hollywood film star.
*Marie Lloyd — music hall performer (lived at 196 Wickham Terrace, Lewisham Way in the early 1890s)
*Ray Mears — author and TV presenter on the subject of bushcraft
*Albert Meltzer — anarchist
*Sheree Murphy — actress
*Edith Nesbit — writer and Fabian
*Peter O'Donnell, creator of Modesty Blaise
*Mica Paris — singer
* Petra - First of the Blue Peter pets
*Claudia Patrice — singer and famous "Blind Date Contestant"
*Gladys Powers — last female World War I veteran
*Maxi Priest — singer
*Louise Redknapp — singer born in Lewisham
*David Rocastle — Born in Lewisham, former England and Arsenal football player
*Doris Stokes — medium
*David Sylvian — singer
*Denis Thatcher — born in Lewisham, husband to Margaret Thatcher
*Michael Turner — footballer born in Lewisham
*Charley Uchea — "Big Brother" housemate and self-professed South London It girl
*Ian Wright — former England football player
*Bradley Wright-Phillips — footballer, adopted son of above


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

* Peckham
* Catford
* Brockley
* Greenwich
* New Cross
* Blackheath
* Lee
* Crofton Park
* Sydenham


External links

* [http://www.lewishamhistory.org.uk/ Lewisham Local History Society]
* [http://www.libcom.org/history/articles/battle-of-lewisham-1977/ The Battle of Lewisham - an article on london based website libcom.org]
* [http://www.lewishamlawcentre.org.uk Lewisham Law Centre]
* [http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lewisham/main/index.html Lewisham at Surbubia]
* [http://www.lewisham.myzen.co.uk/gallery Lewisham Photographs]
* [http://www2.lewisham.gov.uk/lbl/LewishamVoices/ Lewisham Voices]
* [http://www.lewisham.gov.uk Lewisham Council]

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