Although it had had a railway since 1839 Penge remained a rural area with a population of only 270 in 1841, of whom a number were almspeople. The biggest impact was the re-siting of the Crystal Palace in 1852-4. The London & Brighton Railway built a line and a station to serve this so that by 1861 the area had developed and the population rose to 5015. Although Penge has no pre-Victorian buildings it can boast 3 groups of former almshouses together with conservation areas and other buildings of interest including canal /railway features.
A circular walk. Directions are given from Penge West Station but Penge East Station is also on the route.
Begin at the station
The Croydon Canal was built by John Rennie between 1801-9 but had a short life and in 1836 was sold to the London & Croydon Railway who drained the canal and used much of the route for its line, opened in 1839. The white building was the original station building and gatekeeper's house as the line crossed the road at a level crossing. However this station was so little used that it closed in 1841. It re-opened in 1863 (on the same date as the London Chatham & Dover's line through Penge East) with a new station building - still in use.
Walk to the right down
Anerley Park into the main road.
On the corner is the BRIDGE HOUSE TAVERN (1). The railway on the left is the branch line to Crystal Palace 'Low Level' Station of 1854. The line on the right is the former London & Croydon with a bricked up entrance. In 1845 an extra (atmospheric) line was added and the crossing replaced by a bridge when the road had to be lowered.
Go right along the High
Street. Cross and go left up Kingswood Road
Look for boundary markers outside numbers 52 & 55. Penge has been 'moved' from Surrey to Kent to London and back to Kent again! At the end of the road is the former Park Farm Dairy Building. Prior to development cows would have grazed on nearby Penge Common.
Go right along Station Road
On the left is the HOLLYWOOD EAST (2) pub. On the opposite corner is Holy Trinity Church of 1887.
Continue to Penge
Towards London the line goes through a 1¼ mile long tunnel under Sydenham Hill. Jutting onto the platform is another crossing keeper's cottage. Adjacent to this are the premises of Tomei & Sons. This old-established family firm makes plaster decorations including pieces for some notable London buildings
Go right at St John's Road
On the right are some attractive almshouses of the 1840s. These were built at the request of Queen Adelaide, in memory of her husband William IV, as a Royal Naval Asylum for 12 widows of officers. Designed by Philip Hardwick in a Tudor style they are now private residences. Opposite the flats by Edward Armstrong have a plaque denoting their Festival of Britain Award for Merit. They replaced Victorian housing damaged by bombing. At the end of the road is the church of St John built in 1850. Until 1855 Penge was a hamlet of Battersea seven miles away.
Turn left into the High
The Watermen & Lightermen's Almshouses were built c1840 for retired Company Freemen and their widows. Designed by George Porter they originally provided 48 3-roomed homes. The almspeople moved to Hastings in 1973 and the buildings were converted to larger private homes. Opposite is the QUEEN ADELAIDE (3) pub.
At the end of the complex
turn left into Penge Lane.
The CROOKED BILLET (4) pub is sited by the Penge Triangle featuring pterodactyl wing structures and a piece of Millennium Rock. At the far end of the lane is the ALEXANDRA (5) pub.
Cross Parish Lane into
The cottages in this area were built in 1866-8 by the 'Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes' established in 1841. There are former Estate Office and School buildings on Parish Lane.
Go to the end of Albert
Road, left and then right along Hardings Lane
Across the road is the Alexandra Recreation Ground laid out on part of the former Penge Cricket Ground.
Go right along Lennard Road
On the left is Holy Trinity church built in 1878 and imaginatively restored following an arson attack in 1973.
Opposite Cator Road go
through to Victor Road. At the end go left along Parish Lane to
the crossroads and turn right into Green Lane.
The church building on the corner was formerly the Penge & Beckenham Co-op.
Go left into Torr Road,
right along Kingsdale Road then right at the High Street
On the opposite side is the MOON & STARS (6) pub
Continue to the traffic
The PAWLEYNE ARMS (7) pub is opposite the police station which opened in 1872. Detour along Croydon Road for the GOLDSMITH'S ARMS (8)
Continue along the High
The square by the entrance to the shopping centre features sails and a Blitz plaque. This occupies the site of the Empire Theatre (opened in 1915) which became the Essoldo Cinema in 1949 and was demolished in 1960.
Go left along Maple Road
On the right is the MARKET TAVERN (9) pub and further along are St John's Cottages built in 1863 as almshouses by Edwin Nash the church architect. On the corner of Blean Grove is the HOP HOUSE (10) pub.
Turn right into Blean Grove
and opposite Gladstone Mews go into the recreation ground (open
24 hours) to the right. Continue either side of the playground
through to the High Street
The War Memorial for those killed in WWI was unveiled in 1925. The names of those who died in WWII were added later.
Go left along the High
Two large houses of c1840 remain at numbers 54 & 52. Opposite on the corner of Mosslea Road is a former chapel that once served as a Soup Kitchen for the poor. It has been converted for residental use.
Continue along the High
Street. Anerley Park on the left leads back to the station.
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