View from Addington Hills viewpoint
|Area||130 acres (53 ha)|
|Operated by||London Borough of Croydon|
Addington Hills is a park in Upper Shirley, London, England. It is managed by the London Borough of Croydon. It was part of the old parish of Addington before the suburb of Shirley was developed in the 1930s. The site consists largely of woodland on a gravel bed, with London's largest area of heathland at its heart. It is a Site of Metropolitan Importance.
It is a peaceful area with many pathways close to central Croydon. There is a viewpoint with fine views across Croydon and across to north London, including Docklands and Parliament Hill. It is served by Coombe Lane tram stop on Tramlink route 3. The park covers an area of 130 acres (53 ha).
The London Loop path runs through the park. The park is fully accessible at all times.
Addington Hills and neighbouring Croham Hurst to the west and Shirley Hills to the east form part of a chain of popular open spaces in Croydon. The seasonal changes of the colourful heather, birch, oak and pine and the variety of birds and other wildlife and the bracing situation on top of the plateau attract visitors to the area at all times of the year.
Addington Hills facilities include:
- Car parking - off Shirley Hills Road and Oaks Road, at the junction with Coombe Lane
- London Loop path
- Chinese restaurant
- Horse rides
Geology and topography
Addington Hills lies 460 feet (140 m) above sea level on a plateau of Blackheath Bed pebbles, which has been colonized by heather with scattered groups of pines and mixed plantations. The plateau drops sharply to the north, exposing the pebbles at the end of the gullies. To the north-west the plateau has been broken into by a number of steep valleys which are covered with birch to the west and oak to the east. Below the Blackheath pebbles an outcrop of less impervious Woolwich Beds was marked by a line of springs; these have disappeared, possibly due to a lowering of the water table. Addington Hills borders Coombe Park on its north, and Coombe Wood on its south.
The site and its history
The land was acquired in four parts over a 45-year period. In 1874 the Croydon Board of Health purchased the first area following a public meeting; the lower area towards Shirley was added in 1903; the birch wood from Oaks Road to Coombe Lane was a gift from Frank Lloyd of Coombe Park Estate (after whom the nearby Lloyd Park was named), and finally the small pine woods in the south-east corner were added in 1919 bringing the site to its current size and forming the largest public open space in Croydon at the time.
In 1963 a viewing platform was provided by Alderman Basil Monk as a permanent commemoration of Croydon's 1960 Millennary Year. The platform, which is north-west of the restaurant, is at the top of steeply sloping ground and provides extensive views over Croydon and towards London. A low wall around the platform is engraved with directional lines and inscriptions indicating the main view points, such as Shooters Hill, Epping Forest, Fulham, the Town Hall and skyscrapers of Croydon, and on a clear day the towers of Windsor Castle. The nearby Shirley Windmill can also be seen.
Addington Reservoir on the southern side of the Hills is the only area that is fenced off and not open to the public. The reservoir was built in 1888 and the Valve House was initially open to the public with refreshments being served from the ground floor and a residence above. An outbreak of typhoid in 1937 was traced to the reservoir and the cafe was quickly closed and the area fenced off.
Below the reservoir on the Coombe Road frontage was once Broadcombe Cottage, which was part of the Coombe Park Estate. Broadcombe was the old name for the tract of land alongside Oaks Road at the foot of Addington Hills. Also in this vicinity was the Lamb Inn, according to tradition the site of a fierce affray between smugglers and revenue officers.
The heathland areas are dominated by heather and gorse, with some bilberry and goldenrod. Drier spots are indicated by the occurrence of bell heather. Fine-leaved fescues, wavy hair-grass and purple moor-grass dominate the acid grassland areas with a mix of wood sage, heath bedstraw and other typical species. Marsh violet and hard fern (both London rarities) occur in the damper areas.
Burrowing bees and wasps occur in the bare patches of soil and the bushy heathers and acid-loving grasses provide home to a wide range of insects, spiders and other invertebrates, each well adapted to the warm, dry conditions at ground level.
The invertebrate fauna plays an important part in supporting a range of birds and reptiles – and all benefit from the varied mosaic of open and scrubland habitats. In open areas, common lizards and slow-worms thrive. Green woodpeckers may be seen in the woods and on the heath, and goldcrests among the woodland edges and in the gorse.
The northern area of woodland is by far the oldest, in particular the very old oak pollards near Oaks Road. Other wooded areas are comparatively recent, and the small pine plantations near the southern boundary were only established during the mid-19th century.
Until the 1920s, there were only a few scattered oak, pine and birch on the hills, which were then almost entirely covered in heather. Now there is far more extensive tree cover, and heather is limited to the slopes and ridges where it tolerates the harsh conditions provided by the very dry and acidic poor soil.
- i.e mainly rolled chalk flints, see Outlines of the geology of England and Wales, William Daniel Conybeare
- Adapted from London Biodiversity Partnership / London's Heathland Heritage / Croydon Council information board near the Addington Hills car park.
- Taken from London Heathland Heritage website Croydon page