CRYSTAL PALACE (High Level) - NUNHEAD (Pt.2)


(London, Chatham &Dover Railway)

 



3 miles (Crystal Palace Branch)

Opened  1.8.1865
Closed  20.9.1954


Stations
- Nunhead 1st (opened 1871, closed 1925); Nunhead 2nd (opened 1825)
- Honor Oak
- Lordship Lane
- Upper Sydenham (opened 1884)
- Crystal Palace High Level r/n 1898 Crystal Palace & Upper Norwood r/n 1923 Crystal Palace High Level.


History
After the Great Exhibition of 1851 closed the unique prefabricated glass building housing it was re-erected near Penge in south London and became known as the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace & South London Junction Railway (CP&SLJR) was backed by the LC&DR and was absorbed by that company when it opened in 1865. The established LB&SCR route to the Low Level station (opened in 1854), however, also provided direct access to the Palace and it is existing stations were relatively close to those on this branch so traffic was sparse. In 1910 trains ran every half hour from either Victoria or Moorgate with 30 minutes allowed to cover the 9_ miles from Victoria. The branch was closed between January 1917 and March 1919 and again between May 1944 and March 1946. The Palace itself burnt down in 1936 and the line closed to all traffic in 1954.


Route - when open
At Nunhead Junction (GR355760) it diverged from the Greenwich Park branch, turned south and after a mile parted company with the line to Bromley. It climbed continuously at 1 in 78 all the way, after 1 mile reaching Honor Oak station. Continuing south it bridged London Road, passed Lordship Lane station and Upper Sydenham station, which was located between two tunnels, the second of which gave access to Crystal Palace station (GR337708). This terminal station was connected directly to the Palace by an ornate and patterned colonnaded subway built in white and red brick by Italian crypt builders.


Route - today
From Nunhead there is nothing to be seen until one reaches Brockley Way from where the alignment can be followed through Brenchley Gardens. Cross Forest Hill Road and continue past Camberwell Old Cemetery to pick up the course through Horniman Gardens. Cross the South Circular Road and follow a path through to Sydenham Hill. Follow this road, turn left into Wells Park Road and drop down to the trackbed to view the first tunnel. Then walk along Vigilant Close, High Level Drive and The Gradient (a cul-de-sac) where the entrance to the second tunnel can be seen. Return to High Level Drive, turn right into Westwood Hill (A212) and walk along Crystal Palace Parade to view the site of Crystal Palace, the station and the tunnel exit.


Relics
-
Nunhead station (2nd) - still open (SE Trains London - Sevenoaks/Dartford)
- Honor Oak - demolished. Site built over by high rise flats
- Lordship Lane - demolished. Site built over by flats.
- Upper Sydenham - demolished but station house over tunnel survives
- Crystal Palace High Level - the large twin-vaulted terminal with vast train shed demolished. Housing now covers a substantial part of the site but the subway survives as does a vast retaining wall alongside Crystal Palace Parade.


Bridge carrying Forest Hill Road (B238) at Honor Oak missing;
Footbridge south of Lordship Lane survived in 2005;
Bridge over London Road (A205) at Lordship Lane, missing;
Crescent Wood Tunnel: 400yds aka Upper Sydenham, both portals bricked up;
Paxton Tunnel: 439 yds under Sydenham Hill and College Road, both portals bricked up with opening doors.




1930s map showing the northern end of Crescent Wood tunnel (bottom left), Sydenham Hill Wood, Lordship Lane station, and Horniman Gardens.

 


 

 

 

The northern end of Crescent Wood tunnel.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pleasant leafy walk along the track route through Sydenham Hill Wood.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The course of the line through Sydenham Hill Wood.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cox's Walk bridge over the line, which still exists today, looking north toward the Lordship Lane station site.

The identity of the persons waving from the bridge in this late 1970s photo, is unknown and their presence wasn't even
noticed until after the film was developed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view looking north from the bridge as painted by Camille Pissarro in 1871.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The site of Lordship Lane station (looking south).

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the Lordship Lane station site / the southern side of London Road (the A205) of the steps leading up to Horniman
Gardens, which has incorporated the line (the line was to the left of the steps).

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sign at the entrance of the section of line incorporated into Horniman Gardens. Unfortunately there is no exit at the other
end (Langton Rise); one must walk all the way back to this point and walk through Horniman Gardens proper, in order to
continue following the track route!

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line's route as part of Horniman Gardens.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930s map showing:

1) Honor Oak station.
2) Kelvington Road, as seen in the fifth photo below.
3) Merrtins Road, the location of the seventh photo below.
4) Location of the eighth photo below.
5) Location of the ninth photo below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The site of Honor Oak station (on the right of the road) looking north.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The site of Honor Oak station.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The track bed as part of Brenchley Gardens, looking north.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same position as above but looking south.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line where it would have crossed over Kelvington Road.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

More embankment evidence at Brenchley Gardens.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merrtins Road at the northern end of Brenchley Gardens.
The whole Brenchley Gardens track bed area is now either smoothly landscaped embankment or given to housing estates and
the remains seen here no longer exist.

Martin Smith said this about them:

"...they became more degraded over the years and were finally demolished by Southwark Council a couple of years ago and
it is now a grassy bank, there are some remains of brickworks left on the opposite side of the road to a height of about 4 or
5 feet. Wild rocket grows on them."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking south at the existing line from Beckenham, south of Nunhead station. The housing on the right is built on the line of
the Crystal Palace branch. The lines joined up before reaching Nunhead station.

(Sep 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bridge that the above photo was taken from; a long enough span for four tracks.

(Sep 2005)

 


 

All photos taken 1977-1981 unless stated.



 

 

Nunhead - Greenwich Park

 

 

Photos taken between 1977 and 1981, except where stated.