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.

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.

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.

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 🙁

At the time of writing this feature (April 2011) the sign displaying the route of the former Surrey Canal still existed at the entrance to the Pepys Estate!

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.

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.

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.

NOTE: The site of the scrapyard is now part of the Deptford Landings development.

On the far side of the scrapyard, this is the canal alignment with Eddystone Tower as the usual marker.

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

This is a picture of a London Fire Brigade boat on the Grand Surrey Canal during WWII. Its on the very spot the modern pictures are taken and the boat is about to turn to pass underneath Evelyn Street towards the Old Kent Road. It had probably been brought down here because of the vast number of timber yards sited along the canal. Source: Twitter.

The tweet from the London Fire Brigade claims this boat was used on the northern London canal network. It might have been however the scene shown is without a doubt the bottom end of the long straight which was almost a kilometre in length (2960 feet) to its very end from the canal’s entrance lock at Greenland Dock.

The next picture would have been where the bows of the London Fire Brigade boat were as it turned the corner towards Evelyn Street bridge!

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

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

Next: Evelyn Street – Surrey Canal Road.

Grand Surrey Canal pages:

Intro – A canal route from London to Portsmouth!
Old Surrey Docks route – The old canal route through the Surrey Docks
Greenland Dock – Plough Lane – The canal’s route to Plough Lane
Plough Lane – Evelyn Street – The canal’s route southward to Evelyn Street
Evelyn Street – Surrey Canal Road – The canal’s route west to Surrey Canal Road
Ilderton Road – Camberwell – The canal’s route to the terminus at Camberwell
Canal junctions & place names – Junctions and places named after the canal
Bridges & buildings – The canal’s structures
Peckham branch & canal wharves – The delightful branch and wharves of the canal

4 thoughts on “Along the Grand Surrey route – Plough Lane to Surrey Canal Road

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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. 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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