New Eltham grew up as a suburb of farmland to the south of Eltham in and around the small hamlet and crossroads of Pope's Street.
The railway station was opened in 1878 as "Pope Street", and acted as a catalyst for growth. Less than a decade later in 1886, the station officially became known as "New Eltham". The redevelopment of land into housing had spread southwards from Eltham, the Pope Street area being rechristened as a new extension. On the main building of Wyborne School (Footscray Road) there is a sign, clearly identifying it as "Pope Street" School, built in 1904.
As part of the Cold War Civil defence, a rectangular windowless blockhouse was built in 1954 behind New Eltham library. It served as the Woolwich Borough Control and when Woolwich merged with Greenwich in 1965 it took over the role as the Greenwich Borough Control. The control was part of the South East London Group reporting to the Regional Group War HQ at Chislehurst and later to Pear Tree House. Further information about the bunker can be found in the Subterranea Britannica, see the External Links section below.
Until the mid-1970s New Eltham had 3 butchers, 2 greengrocers, 3 grocers, 2 toy shops, a shoe repairer, 2 barbers, a radio and television repair shop, a clothing and material store, timber yard, cycle sales and repairs, 2 motor spares, hardware store, 2 dairys and a fishmongers. What is now The Co-operative supermarket was actually composed of smaller separate purpose shops (all CO-OP). From the station end, was a greengrocers, a chemist, butchers then the co-op grocery store. There was a fishmongers that later became a fish and chip shop (and still is as of 2008). Behind this, in what is now the car park was the CO-OP dairy, the other (Unigate) was in Green Lane near Fiveways in what is now a small business park.
In 1974 the bridge (crossing the railway line) at Avery Hill Road was widened to allow buses to cross it. This replaced a narrow iron bridge which only had a separate path on one side for pedestrians.
Sport and recreation
New Eltham Joggers is a running club based in the area. They claim to be the friendliest group of runners in the South East, and take part in many events wearing their distinctive green shirts. They have a website where full details of upcoming events and training are available. See external links below.
New Eltham Operatic Society is a member of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association. As well as organising regular social events, they present one major production each year in April and one Autumn Concert, generally in September. See external links section below for a link to the society website for further details.
Footscray RUFC is located on Footscray Road - a rugby club that proudly follows very friendly and social rugby traditions. The club has 3 men's team, a ladies team and minis rugby. The club is open to all ages and abilities. Further details re available here
Newpark FC play in the South London Alliance Division 3 and are currently holders of the Beckenham Hospital Cup. Several other local football clubs and the League One side Charlton Athletic have their training ground in New Eltham, down Sparrows Lane.
RACS Cricket Club are based in the area.
New Eltham also consists of two football teams of the same name in different competitive leagues, one of those play in the London & Kent Borders League and are based at the STC Ground on Ivor Grove on Sunday mornings. The team has two published authors, Andrew Muckle and Daniel Harrison, who both live in New Eltham, wrote Don't Drink the Water a travel diary charting their exploits whilst Inter-railing around Western Europe. The other New Eltham play in the Woolwich & Eltham League, based at the London girls football club on Southwood Road who play on a Sunday morning.
Near the Railway station is the Library, the Co-operative Food Store, a cluster of small shops and the Post Office. Larger chain stores may be found in nearby Eltham and Sidcup High Streets, which are a short drive away. Dance classes are held above the Co-op store and a public house opposite was refurbished during 2009.
- Elmstead Woods
- Avery Hill
- Hither Green
New Eltham station serves the area, with services to Central London and Gravesend. New Eltham is served by several Transport for London bus services connecting it with Beckenham, Bexleyheath, Bromley, Catford, Chislehurst, Eltham, Lewisham, Mottingham, New Addington, New Cross, Sidcup and Swanley.
- Community Association of New Eltham
- New Eltham Residents Association
- New Eltham Operatic Society
- Dominic Drive Residents Association
- New Eltham Joggers
- The Green Chain
- Suburbia in Focus
- Kent Rail - New Eltham
- This is New Eltham
- Subterranea Britannica - New Eltham
- As featured in Hidden London book
- Let's move to Eltham - article in the Guardian