Along the Grand Surrey route – Plough Lane to Surrey Canal Road

Council estates were built in the 1960’s around the canal, which at that time was still busy at work as far as the Old Kent Road

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Back to the course of the Grand Surrey Canal! This is a view from Plough Lane looking south along the canal’s infilled, but still present, alignment towards the Pepys Estate. Many of the modern buildings in the distance were there when the canal was still in use

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Amongst those buildings that are part of the Pepys Estate. This playground now stands on the canal’s alignment, which is quite apparent along here as a grassed area

The Pepys Estate was ahead of its time, a recognised example of good social housing. The quality of the buildings was very high and each property has an unusual design, with many flats being split level. There has been considerable concern over plans by the council to sell off flats or demolish parts of the estate and it is feared that any proposals will destroy an otherwise excellent housing estate.

Notice how the planners attempted to give the canal sufficient space within the estate rather than cooping it up in a narrow alleyway like so many other developments. It must be said that this was probably the country’s first council estate to recognise the value of waterspace and how this could play an important role in revitalising inner city areas.

The most unfortunate aspect of this unique attempt has been the closure of the canal, leaving the central estate’s layout looking somewhat like a haphazard design that has been left incomplete.

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The old map of the Pepys Estate, showing the Grand Surrey Canal. Notice some of the names are associated with the maritime. Windlass Place is an oddity as the Grand Surrey’s one and only lock was operated by capstans! Its like the other aspects in Surrey Quays that are supposed to be a reminder of canal days – except that windlasses and hump backed bridges were NOT characteristic of the Grand Surrey 🙁

April 2011 – this sign displaying the route of the Surrey Canal still existed at the entrance to the Pepys Estate!

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April 2011 – On one side of the access road by Evelyn Street is the old canal route estate map, designed by the GLC. On the other side of the access road is the new estate map designed by Lewisham Council. The latter of course does not show any canal route

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Two views of Oxestalls bridge. The north side is bricked in, however the south side still has its opening, showing what the bridge looked like when it crossed the canal

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Just past Oxestalls Road/Eddystone Tower is a scrapyard on the site of the canal. There used to be a timber wharf here but like so many other locations, its now turned over to scrapping

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On the far side of the scrapyard, this is the canal alignment. Eddystone Tower is prominent

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Industrial estate where the canal once turned sharp right under Evelyn Street, Deptford

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The GSC’s sharp right turn looking towards Evelyn Street (Blackhorse bridge)

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Blackhorse bridge dominated by the iconic Eddystone (left) and Daubeny (right) towers on the Pepys Estate

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A rather mucky, unadopted road (not always shown on the maps) off Evelyn Street is known as Canal Approach. This utilises the old canal route. The sides of the canal and mooring rings can be seen in many places along this road. Nowadays the access at Evelyn Road is mostly locked so it may be best to approach from the other end

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Canal Approach on the east side of the London and Greenwich Railway route. This was the course of the canal and at the base of the buildings along the left side can be seen many mooring rings!

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An old mooring ring seen at the base of one of the buildings in Canal Approach

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Another scrapyard in lieu of a canal. This is just before the London & Greenwich railway viaduct in Trundleys Road

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A little bit of history. Remains of the canal at the London and Greenwich crossing had been filled in and the road in front was being remodelled to form the junction with the new Surrey Canal Road. This photo I took in 1984.

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From the adjacent park it is possible to see the original London-Greenwich railway arch that crossed the canal

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The same bridge today – its arches are used as a car repair yard by the name of Surrey Canal Commercials

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The junction of Trundleys Road and Surrey Canal Road. The bridge in the distance carries the London Overground’s branches to New Cross/New Cross Gate/Croydon. The lines diverge just south of the bridge and is known as Canal Junction. From this point westwards the Grand Surrey Canal ran dead straight as far as Ilderton Road

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Between the London Overground bridge and Juno Way the edge of the former canal is now part of the public footpath and at several locations mooring rings can be seen

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Surrey Canal Road bridge carrying the London – Croydon railway over the former canal alignment. This location is actually the junction where the Croydon Canal left the Surrey Canal on its journey southwards

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A pretty modern addition to Surrey Canal Road. This footbridge was not there when the canal existed. A number of mooring rings and bollards can still be seen along the egde of the road, indicating the canal’s former presence.

Next: Ilderton Road – Camberwell

Grand Surrey Canal Pages: Intro / Old Surrey Docks route / Greenland Dock – Plough Lane / Plough Lane – Surrey Canal Road / Ilderton Road – Camberwell / Canal junctions & place names / Bridges & buildings / Peckham branch & canal wharves

5 comments

  • Roger Hewitt

    3 December 2016: the footpath and cycle path along Surrey Canal Road has been resurfaced. I couldn’t find any mooring rings along this section. No access to Canal Approach from either end on my visit.

    • Admin

      Maybe they removed the mooring rings? There used to be a through route, this is going back some years since I last walked this it – even at the time it just wasnt obvious it was a thoroughfare. I assume with increased security its just no longer possible to walk this old part of the Surrey Canal.

  • 3 December 2016: An area between Oxestalls Road and Blackhorse Bridge has been cleared for a housing development, “The Timberyard”. Their publicity shows the route of the canal through the site.

    • Admin

      I am aware of the new housing development, other people have been in touch with me about it’s impact on the canal’s history.

  • Juliet Bailey

    My great-great grandfather ran a steam flour mill alongside the canal from the 1870s – 1890s. Maps from the time show Mill Street coming off Old Kent Road just north of where the canal went under it, and it opened at the other end onto the tow path. Perhaps the water for the steam came from the canal. The Gentleman’s Magazine reports that the boiler blew up in the mill in 1845 and actually ended up across the other side of the canal! Damage was caused to all buildings around. Mill St. is marked on 1950s map I have, but is now under Madhouse Tyres – as best I can estimate.

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