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Welling shown within Greater London
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The East Wickham part of Welling is probably one of the oldest settlements in this area. A Neolithic stone axe was found in East Wickham in 1910, and a bit more recently in 1989 the remains of Roman buildings were unearthed near Danson.[specify]
Before the coming of the railway, with the opening of the Bexleyheath Line on 1 May 1895, Welling was a village on the main road between London and Kent (Watling Street). It had been a traditional staging post for coaches; the presence of three inns along the main road is the result of that.[specify]
After World War I, Bexley Urban District Council built over 400 houses north of the railway. Later, when the Danson estate was sold to developers, the land to the south was opened up to suburban sprawl and the settlement incorporated the local parishes of St Michael's East Wickham and St Johns Welling
The area was part of the Municipal Borough of Bexley in the administrative county of Kent until, in 1965, the borough was abolished under the London Government Act 1963 and its area transferred to Greater London to form part of the present-day London Borough of Bexley.
Origin of the name
Local legend has it that Welling is so called because in the era of horse-drawn vehicles, it could be said you were "well in" to Kent, or had a "well end" to the journey up and down Shooters Hill which, at the time was steep, had a poor road surface and was a notorious haunt of highwaymen. Until the 1800s, most of Welling down to Blackfen was covered in woodland which offered excellent concealment for outlaws and robbers who would prey on vulnerable slow-moving horse-drawn traffic.
However, local historians have recently concluded that the origin of the name is most likely from 'Welwyn' (meaning 'place of the spring'), due to the existence of an underground spring located at Welling Corner, or possibly a manorial reference to the Willing family, who lived in the area in 1301.
Welling is home to a refurbished reference and lending library with an IT educational and training room, free use of Internet and toilets, a Masonic Hall, a Snooker Hall, Bellegrove Social Club and a Salvation Army Chapel.
The Age Concern pop-in parlour on Bellegrove road closed in May 2012 and is now based in the nearby Salvation Army Chapel (once a week meetings). The former Age Concern pop-in parlour has now become a boutique called Sevil's Boutique.
Welling as a shopping area has plenty to offer to local residents and visitors such as several restaurants and take-away outlets, a range of fashion, sports, entertainment, a school of performing arts and IT shops, computer and laptop repair shops, electrical and betting shops, pawnbroker shops, charity shops, fast-food takeaways, cafés, tea shops and a pie and mash shop, estate agents, banks, a Tesco Superstore, along with new apartments above the store. The Co-op Superstore opposite (formerly operated by the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society) ceased trading on 19 September 2008 and was redeveloped as a Morrison's supermarket that opened on 16 November 2009.
The former Foster's School building in Upper Wickham Lane is a local landmark. The school relocated to Westbrooke Road in Welling and its original site was converted to residential use (retaining the old Grade II listed main school building and headmaster's house). Further north of the original site is an ancient church, now used by a Greek Orthodox congregation.
A large Russian gun is located at Welling corner. This Russian weapon is a 36-pounder carronade (calibre 6.75 inches - weight 17 cwt) of a type used during the Crimean War (1854 to 1860), displayed on a simple wooden replica carriage. The carronade was in service from 1780 to 1860 and is now on loan from the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich as a reminder of Welling's early association with the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, when huts at East Wickham were built as homes for munitions workers in the Great War.
For five years after 1990, the headquarters of the far-right British National Party (formed in 1982) were based in Welling. The presence of the party in Welling sparked a rise in racially motivated crime in the area and several nearby communities. At least three people from ethnic minorities - Afro-Caribbeans Rolan Adams and Stephen Lawrence and Asian Sikh Rohit Duggal - were murdered in the local area within three years of the British National Party's arrival. Bexley Council shut down the BNP Headquarters in 1995.
In 1992 a group of local people, led by local Councillor Nigel Betts, revived the old Memorial Hall Trust which was set up in 1921. In 1995 it started operation as a local grant giving charity called the East Wickham & Welling War Memorial Trust using the revenue from the old hall to fund grants in the area. Its main aim is remember the men of the district who were killed in World War One so a new War Memorial was built in 1996. Its charitable aim is to help local groups with rents on their meeting places or to help groups maintain their halls. Other grants help young people with adventurous activities and there is an annual academic bursary. In 2006 it gave grants totaling £47,000. As part of a re-investment programme, the Trust sold the Hall for an housing re-development in 2007.
A major upgrade of paving and street lighting was completed in the autumn of 2005. The retention or removal of a section of westbound bus lane from Welling High Street became one of the few specific local issues on which the main political parties disagreed in the approach to the local Bexley Council elections held on 4 May 2006. The incoming Conservative administration immediately revoked the bus lane.
The MECCA bingo hall in Upper Wickham Lane has ceased trading, apparently one of nine in England unsuited to operate after the national ban on smoking in public places. This large building, which originally was an Odeon cinema is operating now as Freedom Centre International, a Pentecostal Church.
Rosebys, the Co-op and Tesco's old store all closed since 2007, as has the pub near Welling railway station (formerly the Station Hotel) lately known as "Inferno's" - which has become a Tesco Express.
Live music is performed occasionally at the Avenida restaurant and at "The Glenmore Arms pub".
The "Old Koffi Pot" café, dating from the 1930s was until the early 1990s known as 'Ferrara's'. The venue was well-known locally for its ice cream and enjoyed its heyday at the height of the 1960s cafe culture, when young people from Kent and South East London would call in for refreshments on the way to or from dancing at the Embassy Ballroom (demolished to make way for the building of Embassy Court).
The "Old Koffi Pot" closed in 2009 for 'economic reasons', but a modern coffee shop has since opened in its place retaining the name "The Koffi Shop" but a brand new black frontage and interior decor have abruptly erased any historical link with the original establishment.
In March 2013 the first Micropub in Greater London opened in the High Street in a converted electrical shop - "The Door Hinge". It sells real ale by gravity stillage dispense and cider and wine only and conversation is the only noise you will hear there. It quickly started winning awards and was made CAMRA Bexley Branch Pub of the Year for 2014.
New pavements in Welling shopping area have been installed by Bexley Council and the old pedestrian metal barriers have been removed. Welling Corner has been modernized with a new installation of 3 semi circular granite seats and a grass area has been added around the brick base of the Russian cannon from the Crimean War. (January 2014)
A new set of traffic lights have been installed in the Welling Corner junction (March 2014)
Notable past residents
- Kate Bush, world-famous singer/songwriter
- Ernest Greenwood, artist, teacher and former president of the Royal Watercolour Society.
- For information about the following schools and colleges in Welling see the main London Borough of Bexley article
- Bexley Grammar School
- Bishop Ridley CofE Primary School (formerly Westwood Primary School)
- Danson Primary School
- East Wickham Primary Academy
- Eastcote Primary School
- Fosters Primary School
- Harris Academy Falconwood
- Hillsgrove Primary School
- Hook Lane Primary School
- St.Michael's East Wickham CoE Primary School
- St.Stephen's Catholic Primary School
- Welling School
- Westbrooke School
Sport and leisure
Welling has two Non-League football clubs Welling United F.C. & Erith & Belvedere F.C., who both play at Park View Road. Bexley and Belvedere Hockey Club are based at Bexleyheath Sports Club, but play home matches at Erith School.
Welling is also served by many Transport for London bus services connecting it with areas including Bexleyheath, Blackheath, Crayford, Dartford, Eltham, Kidbrooke, Lewisham, North Greenwich, Orpington, Sidcup, St Mary Cray and Woolwich.
Several licensed mini cab companies are based in Welling.
- Avery Hill
- East Wickham
- London Government Act 1963
- Charles G. Harper (1895). The Dover Road. Wildhern Press. ISBN 9781848300101.
- David Mills (20 October 2011). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. pp. 488–. ISBN 978-0-19-960908-6.
- Bexley Chronicle "The new Tesco store is now open in Welling" Archived 10 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- "News Shopper "Tesco and Co-op closures put Welling traders under pressure"". Newsshopper.co.uk. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "News Shopper "Morrisons Swamped by Job Seekers for New Supermarket". Newsshopper.co.uk. 5 August 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- University of Exeter "Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime" Archived 28 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Socialist Worker "McGowan campaign"". Socialistworker.co.uk. 3 June 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Saggar, Shamit (1998). Race and British electoral politics. Routledge. ISBN 1-85728-830-0.
- Warwick, Lucy (15 February 2007). "Financial Times "Rank to close nine Mecca clubs"". Ft.com. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Pupils at Former Abbey Wood School Sought". Newsshopper.co.uk. 17 September 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- "Ernest Greenwood: Artist and administrator whose efforts revived the fortunes of the Royal Watercolour Society". 3 September 2009.
- "BBHC Hockey Club". Retrieved 16 March 2013.
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