West Norwood

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Coordinates: 51°25′37″N 0°05′44″W / 51.427025°N 0.095539°W / 51.427025; -0.095539

West Norwood
West Norwood is located in Greater London
West Norwood
West Norwood
 West Norwood shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325715
London borough Lambeth
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE27
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Dulwich and West Norwood
London Assembly Lambeth and Southwark
List of places

West Norwood is a largely residential area of South London within the London Borough of Lambeth. It borders the London Boroughs of Croydon and Southwark. It is located is 5.4 miles (8.7 km) south south-east of Charing Cross. The centre of West Norwood sits in a bowl surrounded by hillsides on its east, west and south sides. From many places in the area, distant views can be seen, including glimpses of the City, Canary Wharf, Crystal Palace, Dulwich and the ridge at Leigham Court Road.

The main shopping area is in Norwood Road which is characterised by the high percentage of independent shops with a modest number of major retailers. A new facility, West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre, is due to open on 28 July 2014. This is located on Devane Way; a road named after a catholic priest who served the West Norwood community for many years. It will offer leisure facilities including swimming, gym, dance studio and community space as well as health resources, both GP and dental.

At the focus of the shopping parades on Norwood Road and Knights Hill is St Luke’s church and gardens. Consecrated in 1825, St Luke's is one of the so-called "Waterloo" churches. To its eastern side is West Norwood Cemetery, one of the “Magnificent Seven” which has the greatest number of Listed cemetery monuments of any in England, attracting many visitors.

The area is well served by public transport with London National Rail stations at each end of the main shopping area: West Norwood and Tulse Hill from which there are frequent services to Victoria and London Bridge, as well as surrounding locations. There are eight daytime bus routes and two nighttime. The South Circular A205 passes close-by at Tulse Hill with A23 Streatham High Road to the west.

West Norwood includes some or all of three Wards of the London Borough of Lambeth - Gipsy Hill, Knights Hill and Thurlow Park. Each of these wards is represented on Lambeth Council by three councillors.[1]


"Norwood" recalls the "Great North Wood", a name that was formerly used for the hilly and wooded area to the north of Croydon. Before 1885 West Norwood station and the surrounding area was known as Lower Norwood, reflecting its being at a lower altitude than Upper Norwood.

John Rocque's 1745 map of London and the surrounding area includes the Horns Tavern at Knight's Hill, opposite what is now the main entrance to West Norwood station, with a largely undeveloped valley stretching to 'Island Green' in the north, approximately where Herne Hill railway station stands now. The enclosure map of 50 years later show that little of the original woodland remained by then, other than a few coppices.

The future development of West Norwood was assisted by the Lambeth Manor Enclosure Act of 1806. Much of the land covered by this Act was owned either by the Archbishop of Canterbury or by Lord Thurlow, who died in the same year.

Most of the current main roads were either ancient or laid out in accordance with the provisions of the enclosure award. The River Effra ran alongside the current Elder Road, in a northerly direction, and was prone to flooding.

The area was over a mile from the nearest parish church (at St Leonard, Streatham), so St. Luke's was provided under the Waterloo church scheme and completed in 1825. The houses in the parish at that period consisted largely of substantial villas along the main roads and more humble cottages mainly situated between Knights Hill and the High Street. The South Metropolitan Cemetery was laid out in 1837 to provide burial facilities largely for the population of crowded areas that were closer to the centre of London.

The railway line from London to the Crystal Palace was opened in 1856 with a station at Lower Norwood (since renamed West Norwood). These improved communications heralded major changes. Many of the larger houses and gardens were demolished and replaced with predominantly more modest housing over the next four decades.

Norwood High Street contained the earliest group of shops in the area but never developed into a major shopping centre, as the main shopping parades were built during the decades around 1900 along Norwood Rd between York Hill and West Norwood station. Horse-drawn trams shuttled passengers along this road from the terminus in front of St Luke's Church towards the middle of London.

Extensive anecdotal and other historical material from the 19th and early 20th centuries has been written up by Mr J B Wilson, a local undertaker.[2]

The two world wars witnessed fatalities and bomb damage to many buildings in the area, with York Hill and the areas around the railway suffering particularly badly. Chatsworth Baptist church had to be rebuilt after a direct hit.[3] Many of the post-war estates were built on bomb sites or replaced areas which had experienced damage.

An Art Deco cinema, named The Regal, was built at 304 Norwood Road in the late 1920s. It was designed by architect F Edward Jones (who also designed Madame Tussaud's) and opened on 16 January 1930. The cinema sat 2,010 and was equipped with a Christie Manual organ. The cinema closed on 8 February 1964 with a double screening of Peter Sellers' I'm Alright Jack and Two Way Stretch. Following its closure, the building became a Top Rank Bingo Club a few months later and remained open until 1978. The building was demolished in November 1981 and a B&Q store can be seen today on the site.[4]

After the Second World War, a considerable amount of council housing was constructed in West Norwood. The York Hill, Fern Lodge, Portobello and Holderness Estates arose during the late 1940s and the 1950s on the sites of houses with large gardens that had been destroyed by bombing or were simply demolished. Later houses and flats, such as in the Dunbar Street area, took the place of Victorian dwellings that were cleared away as slums or, alternatively, to achieve a higher density of development. The Woodvale Estate in Elder Road was erected on the site of the "Lambeth New Schools", which had been part of the local Workhouse and that had been renamed as "Wood Vale" before demolition.[5]

Parts of West Norwood have been declared conservation areas including the area around the cemetery, Lancaster Avenue and Rosendale Road. Local landmarks such as St Luke's Church, the late Victorian fire station (now the South London Theatre) on Norwood High Street, by the architect Robert Pearsall.,[6] the present-day fire station at Norwood Road and the original public library at Knights Hill are Grade II listed buildings.

Knights Hill[edit]

Confusingly, there are two areas called Knight's Hill nearby; the names of both areas have similar origins, both belonging to Thomas Knyght in 1545, and in the south was known as Knight's Hill Common while the hill to the north was known as Knight's Hill Farm.

  • The better known area is the residential area and electoral ward to the south west by the road called Knights Hill.

The southern Knight's Hill Common originally formed part of Lambeth Manor, and contained land called Julian's, which is remembered through the street name of St Julian's Farm Road. The hill formed the nucleus of the vast estate in Lambeth and Streatham that Lord Thurlow acquired during the 18th Century,[7]

  • The second Knight's Hill is above the Tulse Hill railway tunnel, near West Dulwich railway station – which was originally called Lower Knights Hill station. It includes the hilly land between the western end of Thurlow Park Road (South Circular), Peabody Hill and Lovelace Road, and is now partly used by Rosendale Allotments in SE21. The green area is still marked as Knight's Hill on detailed maps, but is normally unmarked on modern streetmaps to avoid confusion. Originally, the northern Knight's Hill farm was part of the Manor of Levehurst, and later of the Manor of Leigham Court and the parish of Streatham.[8]

The Jewish Orphanage[edit]

The main building of the Norwood Home for Jewish Children ("The Jewish Orphanage") was completed in 1862. It was a three storey edifice, with the appearance of a Jacobean palace[9] This structure was demolished in 1963, after the children had moved in groups to live in nine houses supervised by house parents in a less institutional environment, meeting for communal activities at a new synagogue built on the original site. In the 1970s, the charity started to move out of the area entirely and the main site was sold to Lambeth Council, which developed much of it for a housing estate, keeping only a small area beside the railway line as open space. This open space is now occupied by the West Norwood Health and Leisure Centre. An account of a boy's experiences of living at the Orphanage between 1928 and 1933 can found online.[10]

Of the original buildings only the porter's lodge off Knights Hill now remains, its curving Dutch-gables, red brick with black diaperwork and mullioned windows echoing the design of the main 3-storey institution. The Arnold & Jane Gabriel Home was built on the Wolfington Road frontage of the orphanage in 1910; it was converted into a primary school in 2012, with extensions still under construction in February 2013.

The charity that operated the orphanage in West Norwood retains an echo of its previous location in its current name Norwood.

Historical local photographs[edit]


The primary and secondary schools listed below are in West Norwood.


  • Crown Lane primary school, Crown Lane, SW16 3HX[11]
  • Elm Wood Primary School, Carnac Street, SE27 9RR[12]
  • Julian's primary school, Gabriel House, 16 Wolfington Road, SE27 0JF[13]
  • Kingswood primary school, Gipsy Road, SE27 9RD — this school has two sites; the Upper School at the south west corner of Gipsy Road and Salters Hill and the Lower School at 55 Gipsy Hill.[14]
  • St Lukes Church of England primary school, Linton Grove, SE27 0DZ[15]


There are a large number of other schools within a short distance of West Norwood. Details of those that are publicly funded can be found in the relevant part of Lambeth Council's website.[19]

Several private schools are close to but outside West Norwood.


During recent years, the number and variety of churches has increased, reflecting the diverse origins of many new residents. The following congregations meet in buildings that are readily identified as places of worship:

  • All Nations Christian Centre, 15 York Hill, SE27 0BU
  • Bethel Chapel, Dunbar Street, SE27 9JY
  • Chatsworth Baptist Church, Chatsworth Way, SE27 9HN[20]
  • International Central Gospel Church, The Crown Complex, 3 Weaver Walk, SE27 0TT[21]
  • Lansdowne Evangelical Free Church, Lansdowne Hill, SE27 0AR[22]
  • Salvation Army, 246 Norwood Road, SE27 9AW[23]
  • St. Luke's Anglican church, Knights Hill, SE27 0HS[24]
  • St Matthew's Catholic Church, 37 Norwood High Street, SE27 9JU[25]
  • The Messiah Cherubim & Seraphim Church, 28 Ernest Avenue, SE27 0DJ
  • Trinity Baptist Church, 2 Thornlaw Road, SE27 0SA[26]
  • West Norwood Spiritualist Church, Ullswater Road, SE27 0AL[27]
  • Worldwide Mission Fellowship, 61-65 Elder Road, SE27 9NB[28]

A former Congregational church stands on the south side of Chapel Road, SE27 0UR. It is a Grade II Listed Building and the only local purpose-built church in West Norwood that survives but no longer used for worship. The premises currently house a child care facility.

Open spaces[edit]

The main open space in West Norwood is Norwood Park.[29]

West Norwood Cemetery has an area of 45 acres (18.2 hectares) and is close to the railway station. The Friends of West Norwood Cemetery aim to increase knowledge and appreciation of this facility.[30]

There is a recreation ground and a small wood at Knights Hill and also a private tennis club.

Peabody Hill Wood is an area of outstanding importance recognised by English Nature.


These include:


  • Emmaus South Lambeth is based at Knights Hill and Beadman Street. This community for formerly homeless individuals runs a workshop and shops that renovate and sell second-hand furniture and other goods.[32]
  • L'Arche Lambeth provides 5 residential care homes and 5 day provision workshops in the area for adults with learning disabilities. It is part of the International Federation of L'Arche.[33]

Clocks in West Norwood[edit]

  • St Luke's churchtower clock was supplied by Vulliamy, the Royal Clockmaker, in 1825 for £357 and was retained when Street renovated the church in 1870, new tubular bells being added in 1892.
  • A private residence, The Clock House in Chestnut Road, contains a clock museum which opens to the public during London Open House each September.
  • The Telephone Manufacturing Company Limited (TMC) had a factory at Park Hall Road which produced Temco and Chronomatic electric master clocks, synchronous clocks.[34]

Nearest places[edit]

Nearest rail stations[edit]

Bus garage[edit]

Notable former and current residents[edit]


  1. ^ "Lambeth Councillors by Ward". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  2. ^ J.B. Wilson & H.A. Wilson The Story of Norwood ISBN 0-9515384-1-1
  3. ^ "Chatsworth Way, West Norwood: World War II Incident". Landmark.lambeth.gov.uk. 1944-09-18. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  4. ^ http://landmark.lambeth.gov.uk/display_page.asp?section=landmark&id=12160
  5. ^ "Lambeth Workhouse". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  6. ^ "London’s Oldest Operational Fire Station". e-shootershill.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Norwood: Introduction Survey of London: volume 26: Lambeth: Southern area (1956) 17 March 2008]
  8. ^ Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, The London Encyclopedia, ISBN 0-333-57688-8 West Norwood
  9. ^ "''landmark.lambeth.gov.uk''". Landmark.lambeth.gov.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  10. ^ "Reminiscences of a Childhood in the Jewish Orphanage". Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  11. ^ "Crown Lane Primary School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  12. ^ "Elmwood Primary School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  13. ^ "Julian's Primary School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  14. ^ "Kingswood School". Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  15. ^ "St Lukes Primary School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  16. ^ "Norwood School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  17. ^ "Elmgreen School". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  18. ^ "The Park Campus". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  19. ^ "Lambeth Council schools". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  20. ^ "Chatsworth Baptist Church". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  21. ^ "International Central Gospel Church". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  22. ^ "Lansdowne Evangelical Free Church". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  23. ^ "Salvation Army West Norwood Corps". Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  24. ^ "St Luke's Church West Norwood". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  25. ^ "St Matthew Catholic Church West Norwood". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  26. ^ "Trinity Baptist Church". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  27. ^ "West Norwood Spiritualist Church". Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  28. ^ "Worldwide Mission Fellowship". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  29. ^ "Norwood Park". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  30. ^ "Friends of West Norwood Cemetery". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  31. ^ "West Norwood Feast". Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  32. ^ "Welcome to Emmaus South Lambeth · Emmaus". Emmaus.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  33. ^ "International Federation of L'Arche". Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  34. ^ "The Telephone Manufacturing Co Ltd.". Clock-museum.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 

External links[edit]