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Crofton Park is a mainly residential suburb and electoral ward in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is the original site of the former agricultural hamlet of Brockley. It is located 5.3 miles (8.5 km) south east of Charing Cross, and is south of Brockley and north of Honor Oak. Major points of interest include the Rivoli Ballroom, the Brockley Jack Theatre and the Arts and Crafts Gothic church of St Hilda.
The area includes Blythe Hill Fields which is one of a number of hills in South East London and which provide good views of the eastern side of the City of London. Crofton Park is bordered by Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries to the north, and a section of Ladywell Fields to the south east. The area also offers easy access to South East London's Green Chain of walks.
Before the area was built up in the late 19th century, the principal buildings in this part of Brockley were Brockley Farm, Brockley Hall and the Brockley Jack public house. The area expanded rapidly in the 1890s with the opening of a new railway line (informally known as the Catford Loop) and railway station which opened in 1892. It was the naming of the station which gave the area its modern and invented name of 'Crofton Park'. Despite this being the historic heart of Brockley, that name had already been used for two earlier railway stations further north - Brockley Station and Brockley Lane Station.
The rapid pace of expansion of the area continued pre-World War I, with the building of more shops and facilities to support the growing population. A handsome Edwardian public library was built next to the railway station in 1905 and, eight years later, a local Cinema - the Crofton Park Picture Palace - first opened its doors. This later became the Rivoli Ballroom.
Brockley Hall 
Brockley Hall, a large private residence, stood on land to the west of the road which now bears its name. The property had a somewhat obscure history. There was a house on the site before 1745 and probably long before that date. It was most associated with its final owners, the Noakes family who lived there for over 60 years. The Noakes were brewers and their ales were sold in many local pubs including The Brockley Jack which they owned and was just across the road from Brockley Hall. The Hall’s lodge stood in Brockley Grove on the approximate site of what are now the front gardens of nos. 24-28.
The 1901 census returns show Bertram Noakes as head of the household living in Brockley Hall with his five spinster sisters (Pauline, Elizabeth, Kate, Ada and Maude) and four servants.
Maude Noakes was the last survivor. An eccentric, she was well known for her large collection of pets. The old lady would bury her pets in the grounds of Brockley Hall and give each one a marked gravestone – even her pigs and cows!
Following Maude’s death in April 1931 the property was quickly sold and demolished. Brockley Hall Road, Bearsted Rise, Horsmonden Road, Sevenoaks Road and the 1930s houses in Brockley Grove were built on the site of the Hall and its grounds by the building company Wates.
Prominent buildings 
Brockley Jack 
The Brockley Jack was formerly a picturesque timber-framed building, and was said to have been a haunt of highwaymen. For much of the 18th century it was known as 'The Crooked Billet', for much of the 19th century 'The Castle'. The old Brockley Jack was one of the most photographed pubs in South East London. It was a long, low building with a bay window looking onto the front garden. It had been extended and altered many times during its long history. In the garden were rows of seats and tables beneath old trees, and a large but almost branchless tree stump carrying the pub's sign board. The sign was written on a whale's shoulderblade. A contemporary account, recorded at about the time of the building's demolition states that:
'A penthouse on one side sheltered some of the seats and on the other side was a staircase leading to the upper floor of an annex built at right angles to the main building... Within, the rooms are dark with low-pitched ceilings and redolent of beer and tobacco, of which is added the flavour of antiquity from ancient walls and beams.'
The association with highwaymen is cited in the account which continues:
'There was a particular staircase so constructed that it could be removed at night, and thus cut off access to the upper storey, in case of criminals being secreted there.'
The film star comedian Will Hay recalled the old Brockley Jack in his unfinished autobiography, I Enjoyed Every Minute:
'Almost at the corner of the street was romance in the shape of a very old inn, several hundred years old, The Brockley Jack, a reputed haunt and "pull up" for highwaymen including the famous Dick Turpin. I remember the place quite well - small rooms with the ceiling so low that even a man of ordinary height couldn't stand upright. Alas, the romance didn't long survive on arrival within the district for the place was condemned and pulled down to make way for a modern building.'
The modern Brockley Jack replaced the old wooden building with a more substantial structure of brick and stone in 1898. A representation of a whale's shoulderblade hangs on a high gable outside the front of the Jack. The real whale's shoulderblade (on which was once the pub's sign) is exhibited above the fireplace to the right of the bar.
St Hilda's Church 
Situated in Stondon Park, St Hilda's Church dates from 1907. Designed by F H Greenaway and J E Newberry, it has been described by the architectural historian Gavin Stamp as one of two ‘remarkable and inventive buildings’ which distinguish this part of South London. The other building being Charles Harrison Townsend’s Horniman Museum at Forest Hill.
The war memorial in front of the church is in the form of the form of a granite Celtic cross and is inscribed with 141 names of the fallen. It was unveiled on 29 May 1920 by General Sir Ian Hamilton and dedicated by the Bishop Suffragan of Woolwich.
Crofton Park Library, originally known as Brockley Branch Library, was opened in October 1905 to serve the expanding local population. Its architect was Alfred L Guy, ARIBA and it was constructed by F J Gortham of Greenwich. The library is of an eclectic Edwardian free-style composition, its entrance facade is dominated by a broad Dutch-gable and an octagonal tower with a domed roof. The building sustained damage when the neighbouring Crofton Park Station was bombed in 1940 and 1945, losing two glass dome skylights and the leaded glass in the ground floor windows. The library was refurbished in the late 1950s. The library building has been given local listing by Lewisham Borough Council which describes it as making ‘a handsome contribution towards the streetscape and is a locally significant building.’ 
In 2011 the library became a community library run by Eco Computer Systems. The library takes computer and book donations to help with the running costs of the building.
Cultural life and leisure 
Eating, drinking and nightlife 
The area offers a good range of places to eat without the need to travel into Central London. Both the Brockley Jack and the Jam Circus provide decent pub meals, while you can find jerk straight off the drum at the nearby Jerk Garden. A short walk northwards along the Brockley Road leads to Brockley's Rock fish and chip restaurant. Head less than ten minutes in the other direction for places to eat at Brockley Rise and Honor Oak, including the award winning Babur modern Indian restaurant and traditional Italian cooking at Le Querce.
Babur, Brockley Rock and Brockley Jack all provide takeaway meals - Babur's dedicated takeaway branch has its own menu and operates from premises opposite the Brockley Jack. There are also several other Indian and Chinese takeaway outlets in the area.
For a daytime coffee and snack in retro 1950s surroundings, the high street features Arlo & Moe's (for sandwiches and light meals) and Pat-a-Cakes (having grown out of the Brick Lane cupcakes stall).
The Brockley Jack and the Jam Circus stage a number of themed evenings including quiz nights. For a cosy evening, try Mr Lawrence's Wine Bar, which imports an excellent range of wines and ales, also available for sale at its shop next door. hungry horace cafe is another little gem serving local community with some wonderful food at ewhurst road opposite peter james butchers.
Brockley Jack Theatre 
When the rebuilt Brockley Jack pub opened in 1898 it had a large function room at the rear of the building. The room has been used variously as a dance hall, a snooker room, a music venue and, by the 1980s, as nothing much at all.
A small group of local actors, David Kincaid, Peter Rocca and Michael Bottle, hit upon the idea of staging dramatic productions in this back room.
So, in 1993, the first of these ventures took place. 'An evening with Chekhov', featuring two one-handers, 'On the harmfulness of tobacco' and 'Swan Song'. David and Michael starred and Peter directed.
There was no finance and virtually no facilities but the short run proved a big success, especially with local people.
Gradually, finance was secured and with the help of the brewery, Greene King, the room has been transformed over the years into the vibrant little theatre, fully equipped, that it now is.
Mike Burnside was the theatre's first Artistic Director and, at that time, dinner was served in the interval. New plays were mixed with old favourites and the theatre went from strength to strength.
It has now become a hub of local creativity, staging plays as diverse as 'Julius Caesar', 'Of Mice and Men', 'She Stoops to Conquer' and 'Lilies'. New writing is fostered by in regular workshops, part of the 'Write Now Festival'. Artistic Director and Kate Bannister and Theatre Manager Karl Swinyard were awarded Best Venue Directors in the Fringe Report Awards 2011.
For more details, see the Brockley Jack Theatre website.
Rivoli Ballroom 
Originally built as a cinema, this little gem opposite the railway station has a beautifully conserved 1950s interior. It maintains a lively calendar of events, including cabaret, dance competitions and themed evenings (Jackie's Juke Box, a mixed gay/straight night on the first Saturday of each month, regularly attracting between 200 and 300 people).
Crofton Park in the 2010s 
You may be unwittingly familiar with Crofton Park through watching a number of television shows recorded in the Rivoli Ballroom. The neighbourhood came out of the 2011 summer riots unscathed, which residents attribute to the strong sense of community. In January 2012, the area has gained a look-in on the Channel 4 programme 'Location Location Location'. In contrast with the now depressingly familiar decline of many of Britain's high streets, Crofton Park's high street has a creative feel. For instance, the White Room SE4, which opened in October 2012, is a boutique/studio/gallery offering tuition to anyone interested and a hub for local creatives wanting to sell or exhibit.
The area boasts a good network of rail, overground and bus services connecting to Central London. In 2010, the Crofton Park Transport Users Group - CPTUG - was formed to campaign for improved bus and rail services and facilities.
Crofton Park station is part of the Thameslink Network, which includes the flagship stations of Blackfriars (providing direct pedestrian access to the South Bank/Bankside and the City/St Paul’s), Farringdon (which will connect with the Crossrail network) and St Pancras International (for Channel Tunnel services).
Services currently run at 30 minute intervals (off peak); indicative travel times are: Blackfriars 18 minutes, City Thameslink 22 minutes, Farringdon 26 minutes, St Pancras 30 minutes. In the southbound direction the service links to Catford, Bromley and Sevenoaks.
Disabled access entrances to Crofton Park station were opened from Marnock and Lindal Road in 2008. The station ticket office is open every weekday morning, and an automatic Metro ticket machine is also available.
The South London Route Utilisation Strategy published by Network Rail in March 2008 proposed improvements to rail services along the Catford loop line (through Crofton Park). These include four stopping Thameslink services per hour at this station, and a Victoria to Bellingham service to provide an additional two trains per hour (peak times). The DfT is currently consulting on the new Thameslink franchise, a combined franchise agreement representing the largest franchise in UK history and which will be awarded to one of five bidding companies in 2013.
There are three other train stations within a 10-15 minute walk of Crofton Park Station: Honor Oak Park (London Bridge and London Overground), and Ladywell (Hayes to Charing Cross / Cannon Street line).
London Overground 
Honor Oak Park Station is located in the southern end of area and provides good rail links to London Bridge, Crystal Palace, Sydenham, Forest Hill and East and West Croydon. On 23 May 2010 the station was added to the tube map as part of the East London line extension (now known as the London Overground) and with services to Surrey Quays, Canada Water, Whitechapel, Shoreditch High Street in Shoreditch and Dalston Junction. New East London line services operate eight times an hour northbound, and four trains per hour southbound to both West Croydon station and Crystal Palace. The station is operated by London Overground. The line remains part of the National Rail network (not part of the tube) but is managed by a TfL franchisee rather than a franchise contract let by the Department for Transport.
A number of bus services operate throughout the area providing links to the West End/The City. Services include:
- 171 - Bellingham Catford to Holborn (via Peckham, Elephant and Castle, and Waterloo)
- N171 - Bellingham Catford to Tottenham Court Road bus station
- 172 - Brockley Rise to St Paul's (via Old Kent Road, Elephant and Castle, and Waterloo)
- 122 - Crystal Palace to Plumstead
- P4 - Brixton Station to Lewisham Station (via Dulwich Village)
- 284 - Lewisham Station to Grove Park
Local government 
Crofton Park electoral ward includes the Honor Oak Park area and is one of 18 wards in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is currently represented by two Labour councillors and one Liberal Democrat who were elected on 6 May 2010 when the General Election and London Borough elections took place on the same day.
Across Lewisham Labour gained heavily from the other parties, taking the council from no overall control to a Labour majority of 24 seats. The Liberal Democrats lost a net of five seats, Crofton Park ward being the party’s only gain from Labour anywhere in London. This change was put down to the rapid gentrification of the local area.
|Local election results for Crofton Park Ward, Lewisham Borough Council 2002, 2006 and 2010.|
|% 2002||Votes 2006||% 2006||Votes 2010||% 2010|
|Candidates for the Labour Party||49.46%||2,897||35.00%||6,404||35.77%|
|Candidates for the Liberal Democrats||15.78%||1,670||20.18%||5,833||32.58%|
|Candidates for the Green Party||13.31%||2,062||24.92%||2,793||15.60%|
|Candidates for the Conservative Party||15.81%||1,647||19.90%||2,589||14.46%|
|Candidate for Lewisham For People Not Profit||n/a||n/a||n/a||282||1.58%|
|Candidate for Local Education Action by Parents||5.60%||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
The recently (2007-8) rebuilt Crofton School - now renamed Prendergast Ladywell Fields College - is the main secondary school in the area and is located on Manwood Road. The area has a number of primary schools, including:
- Beecroft Garden Primary School (formerly known as Brockley Primary School) which was rebuilt in 2011-12).
- Stillness Primary School in Brockley Rise.
Football Team 
Crofton Park Football Club was formed in May 2007 and is the area's local side. Playing under amateur status, the club is currently competing in the men's London and Kent Border League, Junior One Division. Home matches are played at Catford Powerleague at 14:00 on Sundays.
The team is sponsored by local firm JD & Sons with plans to expand the football club to cover youth level at U'14 and U'16 age groups and to also form a women's team in the near future.
Famous residents 
Jim Connell (1852–1929), writer of the anthem, "The Red Flag", lived close to St Hilda's Church at 22A Stondon Park. A maroon commemorative plaque was unveiled there by Lewisham Council in February 1989.
The 1930s/40s British film, radio and music hall comedian Will Hay (1888–1949) lived at 7 Eddystone Road and later 40 Merritt Road, Crofton Park as a child in the late 1890s. He also attended the nearby Brockley Primary School (now renamed Beecroft Garden Primary School).
- Based on notes on Brockley Hall at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre
- For a photograph of the Noakes family outside Brockley Hall, see http://www.wikimyfamily.com/family.php?famid=F34
- PR64/593, Photo Box 7, Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre
- Stamp, Gavin, St Hilda's Church, Crofton Park 1908-2008: An Arts and Crafts Church in historical context, 2008, p.4
- Information from the theatre's first Artistic Director, Mike Burnside.
- For TfL map, see www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/croftonpark-14671.pdf
- Lewisham Borough Council Election results 2 May 2002
- Lewisham Borough Council Election results 4 May 2006
- Lewisham Borough Council Election results 6 May 2010
- Rinaldi, Graham, Will Hay, Sheffield: Tomahawk Press, 2009, pp.21-2.
Nearest places 
Nearest railway stations 
- Crofton Park railway station
- Honor Oak Park railway station
- Ladywell railway station
- Brockley railway station
- Forest Hill railway station
- Catford railway station
- Catford Bridge railway station
- Brockley Central Community blog
- Crofton Park Community Link
- Crofton Park Local Assembly
- Crofton Park Library
- The Rivoli Ballroom
- The Jam Circus
- The Brockley Jack pub
- The Brockley Jack Theatre
- The Brockley Jack Film Club
- St Hilda's Church
- Full details of St Hilda's Church war memorial
- Crofton Park Baptist Church
- Crofton Park Transport Users Group
- Crofton Park Labour Party
- Facebook Group for Crofton Park Liberal Democrats
- Crofton Park Green Party blog
- Brockley Hall, 1863
- Brockley Jack, 1885
- Haymaking in Crofton Park, 1910
- Stondon Park, c.1912
- The Church of St Hilda, Crofton Park, (article in 'Ecclesiology Today' by Gavin Stamp, July 2008, pp.77-82)
- Saving London's Rivoli Ballroom, (article in 'Country Life', June 2008)
- The Rivoli Ballroom, 'London's hidden interiors – in pictures', The Guardian, 29 October 2012
- Brockley and Crofton Park History (on Lewisham Council website)
- World War II V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets in SE4
- More information on the history of Crofton Park railway station
- Full English Heritage listing description for St Hilda's Church
- Full English Heritage listing description for the Rivoli Ballroom
- Full English Heritage listing description for Church Hall of St Hilda's, Crofton Park