Infobox UK place
postcode_district = SE9
Eltham constituency (yellow) within the
London Borough of Greenwich(light grey)] Eltham IPA| ['ɛltəm] is a district in the London Borough of Greenwich. It is a suburban development situated convert|8.6|mi|km|1|lk=on east south-east of Charing Cross. According to the 2001 Census, the population of the Eltham parliament constituency was 87,579. [ [http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/eltham ukpollingreport.co.uk » Eltham ] ] Eltham forms one of the three major urban centres in Greenwich, and is defined as one of thirty-five major centres within London by the London Plan.
Eltham was originally developed along part of the road from London to
Maidstone( Pilgrims' Way) and lies convert|3|mi|km|1 almost due south of Woolwich. Mottingham, to the south, was originally part of the parish, explaining why Eltham Collegeis not actually in Eltham anymore.
Eltham was a
civil parishof Kent until 1889 when it became part of the County of Londonand from 1900 formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich. The metropolitan borough was abolished in 1965 and Eltham then became part of the present-day London Borough of Greenwich.
Eltham lies on a high, sandy plateau which gave it a strategic significance. That, and the fact of its position on the main route to the
English Channelports in Kent, led to the creation of the moated Plantagenet Eltham Palace, still its most notable landmark.
The nearby manor of Well Hall was home to Sir
John Pulteney, four times Lord Mayor of the City of London, and later to wealthy Catholic William Roperand his wife Margaret (daughter of Sir Thomas More, known to Catholics as Saint Thomas More, Chancellor to King Henry VIII). In 1733 Sir Gregory Pagebought this estate for £19,000 and demolished Roper House, building Page House - later known as Well Hall House - on the site. Until its demolition in 1931, Well Hall House variously served as a home to watchmaker John Arnold, and later to socialist Hubert Blandand author Edith Nesbit.
Also of note is Avery Hill Park and its former mansion, accessed from Bexley Road and at various points along the three miles of other streets that surround the park. Today the mansion is part of the
University of Greenwich, which has a significant presence on two sites in the area. Avery Hill was the home of Colonel North, who made his fortune working in the Chilean nitrate industry. A hothouse is still open to the public and contains temperate and tropical plants. There are also remnants of the formal gardens in the public park.
Development after 1900
The village streets adjacent to the Palace, and the surrounding land, remained rural until Archibald Cameron Corbett bought the Eltham Park Estate and developed it with well-built suburban housing between 1900 and 1914. The Bexley Heath Railway (see below) had opened what came to be known as the
Bexleyheath Linein 1895. Suburban development of the district really began when the Government through Her Majesty's Office of Works built the Progress Estate and large estates of temporary hutments in 1915, to house the vastly increased numbers of wartime workers in the Royal Arsenalat Woolwich. In the early years this was called, rather pretentiously, Well Hall Garden City, but it compares well with later groups of municipal housing in south London - which is surprising given the fact that it was constructed rapidly between February and December 1915 and its sub-division by the South Circular Roadand, until about 1988, by the even busier A2 Trunk Road.
World War Ithe building of housing estates continued unabated. By the beginning of World War II, three large estates were in existence: the Page Estate (1923), Middle Park (1931-36), and Horn Park (begun 1936, completed 1950s). The latter two were built on Eltham Palace's former hunting parks. Coldharbour Estate was built in 1947. In the 1990s the defence of Oxleas Woodto the east of the town became a focus for a pan-European campaign to resist high capacity urban roads. Significantly the European Court of Justicefound the UK government at fault for not adequately assessing the environmental impact of the planned road, that would have joined Becktonto Falconwood and perhaps - if objectors' fears are to be believed - been a first stage of a wider orbital roadthrough Catford(a revival of a Greater London Council-backed Ringway Two). In 2005, proposals to replace both the Andrew Carnegie-funded library on Eltham High Street and the newer public swimming pool were announced by the London Borough of GreenwichCouncil, the local authority.
Eltham is a town with a varied
topography. The centre of Eltham is situated on a plateau, sufficiently high enough to offer unrestricted views across South London. Eltham Hill offers the steepest descent from the plateau to sea-level, starting at Eltham High Street and ending a convert|1|km|mi|1 due west at the "Yorkshire Grey". The land to the north of Eltham rises to form the southern slope of Shooter's Hill, one of the highest points in London.
Eltham is devoid of any major water features, although the
River Thamesis approximately convert|2|km|mi|1 away from Eltham's northern limits. The most prominent body of water is the River Quaggywhich runs to the south-west of Eltham. The only other bodies of water in Eltham can be located in its parks, such as the lakes at Sutcliffe Park and the Tarn.
Eltham is bordered by
Woolwich, Kidbrooke, Welling, Lee Green, Mottingham, Shooter's Hill, New Elthamand Falconwood.
Parks and Open Spaces
There is a large variety of open green space in Eltham, in the form of parkland, fields and woodland.
*"Avery Hill Park" is large, open parkland, situated to the east of Eltham. It is most notable for its Winter Garden, a
hothousecontaining tropical trees and plants from around the world. The parkland was acquired by the London County Councilin 1902.
*"Oxleas Woods, Castle Wood and Jack Wood", located to the north of Eltham, is a
Site of Special Scientific Interest. Oxleas Wood covers convert|190.3|acre|km2|1|lk=on and is at least 8,000 years old. The wood is home to specimen of tree including oak, silver birch, hornbeam and coppice hazel. Severndroog Castle, built in 1784 as a memorial to William James of the East India Company, stands in Castle Wood.
*"Sutcliffe Park" is a convert|35|acre|km2|1 park situated at the westernmost point of Eltham. Previously known as Harrow Meadow, the parkland was reclaimed from the
River Quaggyin the 1930s. The Quaggy was diverted into culverts, and the park officially opened in 1937 as Sutcliffe Park, named after the Borough's engineer. On 26 June 1954, the athletics track in Sutcliffe Park was opened, and has since been home to the Cambridge Harriers. In 2003, the park was relandscaped as a wetland area. The River Quaggy was allowed to flow above-ground in the area, for the first time in 70 years.
*The "Royal Blackheath Golf Course" and the adjoining "Tarn" date back to Tudor times. The golf course, situated to the south of Eltham, is the oldest golf-course in the world outside
Scotland. "Eltham Park North and Eltham Park South" are the final major green areas in Eltham. The southern park is adjacent to the Eltham Warren Golf Course.
At the 2001 Census, the population of Eltham parliament constituency was 87,579. [ [http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/eltham ukpollingreport.co.uk » Eltham ] ] 60,482 people live in the
SE9postcode district. [ [http://www.mouseprice.com/property-stats/south-east-london/greenwich-property-se9-2.aspx South East London House Prices and Local Property Market Statistics ] ] 47.7% of Eltham's population is male, with 52.3% of the population female. Under 18s comprise of 23% of Eltham's total population, with senior citizens making up 20.7%. [ [http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/eltham ukpollingreport.co.uk » Eltham ] ]
Migration and Ethnicity
In Eltham, 12.3% of people were born outside the
United Kingdom. The largest minority group in Eltham are Black-African and Black-Caribbean peoples, who compose 5.8% of the total population. Asians compose 3.7% of Eltham's population. The white population of Etham is 86.7%, which is below the national average of 92.2%. Furthermore, the population of Black and Asian origin are both respectively higher than the national average. This makes Eltham more ethnically diverse than most districts in the United Kingdom, although relatively less than some of its neighbours such as Woolwich. [ [http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/guide/seat-profiles/eltham ukpollingreport.co.uk » Eltham ] ]
Culture and identity
Eltham appears to be similar to many of the surrounding suburbs of
South East London, and its racial mix (national average) is similar to other London boroughs between inner Londonand the outer Londonboroughs. It has much more green space and Green Beltland to its east and south east location. Thus it is both ' suburban' and 'urban', and it forms part of the London Borough of Greenwich, an Inner London borough. It has an unusually high quotient of green space, with large areas of woodland to the north and east, including the historic woodland of Shooters Hilland Oxleas Wood, the Woodlands Farm community holding, Eltham Parks north and south and extensive parkland heading into Avery Hill park.
The town centre supports a loyal core of shoppers, diners, and drinkers, but the nightlife is modest. Eltham's relatively national-average racial and ethnic makeup is similar to other areas situated a similar distance from the centre in North West or West London, like Harrow or
Ealing. Eltham residents occupy a housing stock of mixed age, particularly towards Eltham Park and the multiple streets with 'Glen' in their names, and there are some fine buildings scattered around the area. At least two roads, North Park and Court Road, contain million pound homes, and some of the older Victorian buildings have been subdivided into apartments.
:"For education in Eltham, London see the main London Borough of Greenwich article
Primary schools located in Eltham include: "Alderwood, Christ Church (Shooters Hill Rd), Deansfield, Eltham C of E, Gordon, Henwick, Holy Family, Kidbrooke Park, St Mary's, St Thomas More and Wingfield."
Secondary schools located in Eltham include "Eltham Green Specialist Sports College, Crown Woods School, Eltham Hill Technology College for Girls and St Thomas More."
Eltham, along with most other suburbs in south east London, is not served by the
London underground. Commuters rely on two rail lines to central London, and the road network. Trains through Eltham terminate at London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street or London Victoriain a westerly direction, and Crayford, Dartford, Slade Green, Gravesend, Gillingham or Rochester in an easterly direction. Given the lack of Tube access, the two suburban rail lines work at, or above, their capacity during peak-hour commuting to central London. Fast trains take as little as 20 minutes to get to London Charing Cross.
Originally opened on
1 May 1895by a private company, the Bexleyheath Line was taken over by the South Eastern Railway after suffering bankruptcy. There were originally two stations in Eltham: Eltham 'Well Hall' and Eltham Park station. The line and both stations opened on 1 July 1908. [ [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/e/eltham_park/index.shtml Subterranea Britannica: SB-Sites: Eltham Park Station ] ] On 11 June 1972, a London-bound train came off the track at Well Hall, killing 6 and injuring 126. Both stations in Eltham were closed in 1985 when major work was carried out on the A2 dual carriageway. The new Eltham station opened in Glenlea Road the same year, combining bus and rail links in one complex, high above the A2. The new station has a modernist feel. [http://www.yellins.co.uk/transporthistory/rail/bex.html picture]
The Dartford Loop line, about convert|1|km|mi|1 south of Eltham High Street, was opened by the
South Eastern Railwayon 1 September 1866. It is commonly known by locals as the ' Dartfordline via Sidcup'. There are two stations on this line that serve the population living to the south of Eltham: Mottingham station, originally named 'Eltham Station' until 'Eltham Well Hall' opened, and New Eltham station. Neither station is as large as Eltham station, but both have been heavily upgraded since opening.
Eltham High Street lies on the A210, the original A20 London to
Maidstoneroad. But the A20 has now been diverted southwards, passing through Mottingham, and it is a dual carriagewaythat connects to the M20 motorwayin Kent. Similarly, to the north, the dual carriageway A2 has replaced the Rochester Road section, which was always very congested (the old road had dangerous readings of lead pollution, close to schools, before the advent of lead-free petrol).
The upgrading of these two arterial routes in and out of London means that Eltham is handily positioned between the A20 and A2. Driving on either of these roads into London soon results in congestion, although the A2 does connect through to the
Blackwall Tunnelunder the Thames, and thus into East london, all on dual carriageway. Driving eastwards allows access to the Dartford Tunnel, and the Kentcountryside, in as little as 20 minutes in off-peak hours.
Crossing the two from north to the south is the A205 South Circular road, a busy arterial route.
The back streets of Eltham have been largely traffic-calmed by the local Council as a token measure, but the efforts have been unsuccessful with white-van-men and commuters continuing to use residential streets as "rat runs" and the council turning a blind eye to this. Provision for cyclists is modest, while there are some interesting footpaths along ancient rights of way, for example in Oxleas Wood and Avery Hill Park.
Scheduled coaches, marketed as part of the
National Expressnetwork, link Eltham Green to Pimlicoand Victoria in central London and to several destinations on the Kent coast via Bluewater(a retail-based development on a grand scale situated in Dartford borough) and Canterbury. Eltham Green is one of the only places in south London served by National Expresscoaches.
Eltham is served by 15
Transport for Londonbus routes. Most pass through Eltham High Street, the only exceptions being the 122 and 178.
Buses that terminate in Eltham:
ElthamSouthend Crescent and Catford" St. Dunstan's College"
ElthamSouthend Crescent and Bromley South station
*132 - Eltham station from
*162 - Eltham station from
Beckenham Junction station
*233 - Eltham station from
*314 - Eltham station from
New AddingtonSalcot Crescent
*B15 - Eltham station from Joyens Woods (via
Buses that pass through Eltham en route to destination:
*122 - Plumstead station and Crystal Palace Parade
*160 - Catford/Catford Bridge station and Sidcup station
North Greenwich"for the O2 Arena" and ChislehurstWar Memorial
*178 - Lewisham station and
Greenwich" Cutty Sark" and Sidcup" Queen Mary's Hospital"
*321 - New Cross Gate station and
*B16 - Kidbrooke station and
Trafalgar Squareand Foots CrayTesco
John Arnold- Internationally renowned watchmaker, lived in Well Hall House.
Hubert Bland- Socialistand co-founder the Fabian Society. Lived in "Well Hall House" from 1899 to 1922.
Billy Bonds- MBE a former Charlton Athletic, West Ham United Footballer, and former Millwall F.C.manager.
*Thomas Burke, author, was born in Eltham.
Kate Bush- Singerand musician, bought an imposing house on Court Road, Eltham in the 1980s.
* Sir Stephen Courtauld M.C. - Millionaire, war veteran and philanthropist. Lived at Eltham Palace from the mid 1930s to 1944.
John of Eltham, Earl of Cornwall.
Boy George- Singer, born and raised in Eltham.
Baron Denis Winston Healey- Politicianand Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, lived in the Eltham Hutments.
Bob HopeKBE - Actorand Hollywoodfilm star, was born in Eltham in 1903 ( blue plaqueat 44, Craigton Road, SE9). In 1982 the "Eltham Little Theatre" was renamed "The Bob Hope Theatre" in his honour, following his donations that saved the theatre from closure. He also visited the theatre in 1980.
Jack Hope- film and television producer, elder brother of Bob Hope.
Frankie Howerd- Comedianand Comic Actor, educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School in Eltham. He also lived in the "Hutments". The Wetherspoonsconversion of the Eltham branch of Barclays Bank to a pub called "The Banker's Draft" resulted in the pub being themed around Frankie Howerd. Many pictures and artefacts from his life adorn the walls.
*Commodore Sir William James (1720-1783) - Naval commander, settled in Eltham at Park Farm Place in 1759 and is commemorated by
Severndroog Castleon nearby Shooter's Hill.
Richard Jefferies(1848-1887) - Naturalist and writer. ( Blue plaqueat 59, Footscray Road, SE9).
Jude Law- Actorand Hollywoodfilm star, lived in Eltham and began his career at The Bob Hope Theatre.
Delroy Lindo- Actor - "Heist", "Ransom", "The Cider House Rules", "Gone in Sixty Seconds"
William N. Shepherd, writer and journalist was born in Eltham
*Herbert Morrison (1888-1965) - Cabinet minister and leader of
London County Council, lived at 55 Archery Road, SE9 between 1929 and 1960.
Edith Nesbit- Author, writer of " The Railway Children"
Katherine O'Shea, wife of Charles Stewart Parnelllived in North Park.
Gavin Peacock- Former Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers Footballer, and currently football pundit for the BBC.
Philippa Plantagenet, 5th Countess of Ulster.
Louise Redknapp- Singer, grew up in Eltham
Steve Peregrin Took- musician.
*Alan White - Ex-drummer of British Rock Band Oasis, was born in Eltham.
Bridget of York- seventh daughter of Edward IV.
*Several members of the renowned anarcho-punk band Conflict originated in Eltham.
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/e/eltham_park/index.shtml Eltham Park station, now gone]
* [http://www.yellins.co.uk/transporthistory/rail/bex.html Bexleyheath line, history]
* [http://www.aceltham.co.uk/ Association for Commerce in Eltham website, business directory, pictures]
* [http://www.elthamtcp.co.uk/ Eltham Town Centre Partnership]
* [http://www.senine.co.uk/ Eltham Community Magazine the SEnine]
* [http://www.thisiseltham.co.uk/ This is Eltham website, with some pics]
* [http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/elthampalace/ Eltham Palace]
* [http://www.elthamlabour.org.uk Labour Party's Eltham website]
* [http://www.davidgold4eltham.com/home/ Conservative Parliamentary Candidate David Gold's website]
* [http://www.eleflat.co.uk/Eltham-74_SE9-2007-council-tax.htm Eltham, Greenwich council tax bands and charges]
* [http://homepage.ntlworld.com/welling.website Welling Website]
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