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Billings recipe collection

We all love our new fish shop, Billings at 45 Sydenham Road, and we all love their fish recipes.

So here are all of Billings recipes gathered together in one collection for reference or printing.

Baked gilt-head bream

Mussels with wine and parsley

Red salmon Thai curry

Salmon and spinach with tartar cream

Sea bass with sizzled ginger, chilli and sping onions

Soy glazed tuna steaks

Spiced fish and mussel pie

Squid with mint, chilli, coriander and lime

Tomato and thyme cod

Forest Hill underpass – renovation at last?

Long-awaited improvements to the underpass at Forest Hill could now be within sight thanks to a decision of Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet on Wednesday 20 October.

The M&C agreed to provide up to £104,000 from money allocated to improve access to the East London Line stations in the Council’s capital programme to renovate the subway. Together with funds from Network Rail it looks at long last as if local residents may soon have a decent underpass to walk through on their way to and from Forest Hill Town Centre.

Let’s hope this long saga will soon come to an end.

Full details of the Mayor and Cabinet decision here

Trees, Spooks and Stories: a Halloween event for families – Sydenham Woods, 31st October

Join Southwark Conservation Projects Department for a  Tree Spooks and Stories – a Halloween event for families with children aged 5+ in Sydenham Woods.

Meet 2pm, Sunday  31st October at the Crescent Wood Road entrance to the woods (Crescent Wood Road is behind the Dulwich Woodhouse; the Crescent Wood entrance is at the opposite end of Crescent Wood Road to the pub.

Walk down into the heart of the wood where we will meet the Gypsy Queen of the Wood who will tell us some scary stories. Children will also get the opportunity to decorate masks to become tree spooks!

Medieval Christmas at the Dolphin – 5th December

Don’t miss the chance to celebrate a medieval Christmas with Sydenham Music at The Dolphin on Sunday 5th December starting at 7.30pm.

The evening combines a three-course dinner, Christmas carols and seasonal music from Joglaresa for £36. To hear more music from Joglaresa, a dynamic ensemble who combine intoxicating elements of medieval, middle eastern, flamenco and Celtic music visit

Tickets available from the Kirkdale Bookshop. Or you can print the booking  form below and return it by post with your cheque.

Medieval Christmas Booking Form

Threatened library closure may spark more problems for Lower Sydenham

An article in the latest edition of the South London Press claims that the closure of Sydenham Library could spill into problems in the neighbourhood. 

Lewisham Council is currently consulting on a proposal to close the library – along with four other libraries in the borough – in a bid to cut expenditure.

Local police have been particularly outspoken against the proposed cuts saying that closure could attract problems to the area and require extra policing.  

For more information see

More trains to and from London Bridge in December

Good news for rail passengers travelling to and from London Bridge comes with the new timetable on 12th December.

Here are the main improvements:

• Two additional evening peak trains will run between London Bridge and Crystal Palace via Sydenham at 17.24 and 18.24. This will help to ease the evening rush hour services which were cut from six trains per hour to four trains in May. We are now back to five trains per hour – not ideal but we’re getting there.

• An extra Saturday late evening London Bridge to Victoria train will leave London Bridge at 23.52, getting you to Sydenham at around 8 minutes past midnight. This fills in a 30 minute gap after the 23.36 and means that there will now be six late evening trains from London Bridge after 11pm (the 23.06; 23.22; 23.36; 23.52; 00.06 and 00.36)

Save Sydenham Library campaign hits the airwaves

A huge lobby of Lewisham Council last Thursday presented Lewisham’s Mayor with a petition signed by around 17,000 people, against possible library closures in Sydenham, Crofton Park, New Cross, Grove Park and Blackheath Village.

And protestors have been carrying the fight to radio and television as well.

The proposed closure of Sydenham Library got terrific coverage on ITV’s London Tonight programme broadcast on the 28th September. Presenter Rags Martel visited the parents and toddlers group at the library – who were there to celebrate its 106th birthday – and interviewed parent Janine Minchin and Cllr Liam Curran who put the case for saving the library. Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, standing outside the Town Hall, explained the need for cuts and the difficult choices that face Lewisham Council. The presenter then spoke to author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen who explained the history of libraries and their contribution to education and community well-being.

You can watch this again at:

The day before, Radio London’s Drivetime programme with Eddie Nestor included an interview with local Cllr Liam Curran and library-user Katriona Bateman. Listen to it here (starting at 1.34.15 onwards):

If you haven’t already signed the online petition, you can find it at:

Town Centre Manager update

Julie Sutch, our Town Centre manager – and not just ours – she is responsible for three other town centres in Lewisham – has started sending weekly updates. From last Friday’s…

A regular fortnightly walkabout saw Sydenham looking very good apart from the road works, with just a couple of issues. The Somerfield alleyway has been tarmaced, with a quote from the fencing it coming in at £2,200 + VAT. However, no budget for this has been identified. The freeholders of the properties are not responsible for this area of the alleyway. Somerfield have also employed a company to remove all of the Ivy from the rear of their building, and thankfully, no cracking has occurred.

Angie’s Flower Stall is now in place and trading successfully, and as regulated by street trading. She has a proper temporary licence – which is on display – and is staying well within her pitch .
16 Sydenham Road – A PCN (Plannning and Conservation area notice) – has now been issued to the leaseholder regarding the shop front of the former Macrae’s chemist.
The freeholder of Lloyds TSB has been asked to clean up his side area.

A meeting about the problems of Earlsthorpe Mews has been organised for Tuesday 21st April @ 6.30 pm at the Narborhood Centre. Letters have been hand delivered to all of the businesses, residents of the flats above and Earlsthorpe Road and letters sent to freeholders. At least 2 officers from the Environment Department will be in attendance and I believe that Cllr Best will chair this meeting.

Sydenham Traders have been invited to a meeting on Tuesday 28th April to discuss how the Traders’ Association can be taken forward with a strengthened structure.

Sydenham Garden

Sydenham Garden is a voluntary association that is developing a community garden for people coping with significant illness in their lives. The nature reserve, situated between Queenswood Road and Wynell Road, will contain a small garden therapy centre of environmentally friendly design. The majority of the remaining land will be managed as a nature reserve. For something of its history…

The site of Sydenham Garden was, until the mid 1970s, occupied by the Wynell Road Nursery. Before this it was part of the garden of a large house, just to the south of Sydenham Garden, on a site now occupied by 23-25 Queenswood Road. The house was known as Perrymount.

Perrymount was built in the 1790s and originally called Perry Vale Farm. However, Sydenham Garden was not, at this time, part of Perry Vale Farm. In the early 17th century the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, using a bequest to fund an educational endowment, had been acquiring land in Lower Sydenham, mostly on either side of Perry Hill. The Leathersellers’ estate included fields now occupied by Sydenham Garden, the Forest Hill Bowling Club and the Paxton Road estate.

Perry Vale Farm was on the eastern edge of the Old House estate. This, the largest estate in Sydenham, was created during the 18th century. It stretched along Sydenham Road from the Greyhound to Mayow Road and extended north to Perry Vale. The extract from the Old House Estate Map of 1815 shows Perry Vale Farm house (plot 12) with a great crescent of water to the west, and the farm buildings (plot 11). Sydenham Garden (marked by a white square) is in the southwest corner of the field owned at the time by the Leathersellers’ Company. The “Footway”, an extension of Berryman’s Lane across the fields to Perry Vale, was to become Mayow Road. It was sometime during the 1820s or 1830s that the Leathersellers sold the Sydenham Garden site to the Old House estate for, by 1843, the owner of Perry Vale Farm (no. 2577 on the Tithe Map) and the Sydenham Garden site (2579 on the Tithe Map) was William Dacres Adams of the Old House.

Sydenham Garden at this time was described as an orchard. We tend to assume this means apples, but in the 19th century it referred to a garden consisting of any small, cultivated fruit trees. The only roads near Perrymount at the time were Perry Vale to the north and Perry Rise to the east and “perry”, of course, refers to pears and the drink produced by fermenting them. It is tempting to suppose that Sydenham Garden was planted with pear trees, particularly as there is at least one old pear tree surviving on the site.

On 15th December 1831 The Times published a notice of an auction at Perry Vale Farm for “Live and Dead Farming Stock and Household Furniture also dairy utensils, and numerous other effects”. This may have heralded the change of use from farmhouse to country retreat that the house underwent. By the late 1840s it was renamed Perrymount, and had been extended and enlarged.

For about 100 years, until the opening of Wynell Road Nursery in 1927, Sydenham Garden was an integral part of the garden of Perrymount probably, for much of that time, as an orchard. During those years there have been several interesting residents of the house.

Samuel Laing, barrister, politician, author and chairman of the Crystal Palace Company (1852-1855) during its re-erection and opening in Sydenham, was at Perrymount from 1847 to 1849.

Charlton James Wollaston, a civil engineer, was largely responsible for laying the first undersea telegraph line, between Dover and Cap Gris Nez, in 1850. Unfortunately it was not a success; the insulation was defective and water entered the cable. He was at Perrymount 1851-1857

In 1901 Mme Sophie Ayer and her son Jules were living at Perrymount. In 1909 Jules married Reine Citroen and moved to St John’s Wood. Their son, born in 1910, was christened Alfred Jules, but became better known as A J Ayer, the philosopher. His grandmother moved from Perrymount in 1913 but it is tempting to believe that the young Ayer played in her garden and orchard as a toddler.

The next occupant was John Quiller Rowett. He was at Dulwich College with Sir Ernest Shackleton, and they remained close friends until the latter’s death in 1922. Rowett was the principal backer of Shackleton’s last expedition to the Antarctic. It was Rowett who saved the James Caird, the small boat in which Shackleton undertook the perilous voyage across the Antarctic Ocean, to rescue the crew of the Endurance. Rowett later presented the James Caird to Dulwich College, where it can still be seen. He was at Perrymount 1915-1920.

During the 1860s Mayow Road was laid out, and Perrymount became known, rather prosaically, as 39 Mayow Road. During the late 1890s building began in Queenswood Road. Just before the World War II Perrymount was no longer able to resist the advance of progress and was demolished, to be replaced by 23-25 Queenswood Road. All that survives of the outbuildings is 16 Queenswood Road, which has a modern plaque bearing the date 1860. This is the stable block of Perrymount, and is on the site of an earlier farm building.

In the 1894 map one can see the extended house with Sydenham Garden to the north. Along the boundary with what is now the bowling green is a line of greenhouses. These greenhouses can be seen on maps as early as 1868. Although much of the present rather ruinous greenhouse probably dates from the time of the nursery, it may well be that some of the structure survives from the 1860s building.

A further survivor is the water pump. In 1975 it was “thought to be the only surviving pump connected to fresh spring water in London”, which gives it a particular distinction, and one can only hope that plans to restore it receive the support they deserve. The pump may well be quite old. Before the supply of piped water in the 1850s, a pump or well was essential for any well-appointed home.

Steve Grindlay