Lewisham Template:IPAc-en is a major inner-city district in South East London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is situated Template:Convert south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London,[1] although Lewisham London Borough Council aspires to upgrade the town centre to become a metropolitan centre like Bromley and Croydon.[2][3]


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It is most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) wrote:

"In the most ancient Saxon records this place is called Levesham, that is, the house among the meadows; leswe, læs, læse, or læsew, in the Saxon, signifies a meadow, and ham, a dwelling. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham.[4]

It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."[5]

"Leofshema" was an important settlement at the confluence of the rivers Quaggy (from Farnborough) and Ravensbourne (Caesar's Well, Keston), so the village expanded north into the wetter area as drainage techniques improved. In the mid-seventeenth century, then-vicar of Lewisham, Abraham Colfe, built a grammar school, primary school and six almshouses for the inhabitants. On 5 September 1711 William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth became the (hereditary) Viscount Lewisham [6] The village of Lewisham was originally centred further south around the parish church of St Mary, towards the present site of University Hospital Lewisham. The centre migrated north with the coming of the North Kent railway line to Dartford in 1849, encouraging commuter housing. Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965.

Lewisham's High Street is particularly long and wide for a London suburb.Template:Citation needed The town centre was hit by a V-2 in 1944 with over 300 fatalities. It devastated the high street, which was not restored to its former glory until the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977). The plaque is situated on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, following reports that the memorial was being worn away by pedestrians, Lewisham Council made an agreement with the store to place a new plaque on a wall alongside the shop.[7] The Sainsbury's store in Lewisham Shopping Centre was briefly the largest supermarket in Europe. The store still exists today and is small by modern standards. The area at the north end of the High Street was pedestrianised in 1994. It is home to a daily street market and a local landmark, the clock tower, completed in 1900 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The police station, which was opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe.[8] There is also another large police station in nearby Catford. There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre.[9] There is a single skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands. At the end of Lewisham High Street and the start of Rushey Green, stands the 2006 Kaleidoscope Centre designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects. This new PCT centre provides state of the art facilities and treatment specifically for children and young people in the area.[10]

Almost all of the SE13 postcode district, which is associated with Lewisham, is within the London Borough of Lewisham, except for the Coldbath Estate and part of the Orchard Estate along Lewisham Road, which are covered by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

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Lewisham Cricket Club was one of the most prestigious London sides during the Victorian era. They played at Lewisham Cricket Ground from 1864, which lay north of Ladywell Road until its closure in the latter part of the 19th century. Lewisham Swimming Club was also very successful with several of its members representing England in water polo and other gymkhana events. The club still meets at Ladywell Swimming Baths, one of the public swimming pools in Lewisham which include Downham Health and Leisure Centre, the Bridge in Sydenham, Forest Hill Pools, now open after refurbishment and Wavelengths in Deptford.

In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham[11] (actually in New Cross) saw the biggest street battle against fascists since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Over 10,000 people turned out to oppose a National Front march which was organised on the back of increasing electoral success at that time.


Sixth form and further education providers in Lewisham include Christ the King Sixth Form College and LeSoCo. Lewisham is also home to Goldsmith's College and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity College of Music).

Secondary schools in the area include Sydenham Girls School.




Lewisham station serves the area with services to London Victoria, London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street both via London Bridge and via Sidcup, Orpington, Hayes, Dartford via Bexleyheath and Gillingham via Woolwich Arsenal.


Lewisham station is served by Docklands Light Railway services to Canary Wharf, Bank and Stratford.


Lewisham is served by many Transport for London bus services connecting it with areas including Beckenham, Bexleyheath, Bromley, Brixton, Catford, Central London, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Eltham, Greenwich, New Cross, Orpington, Peckham, Penge, Sidcup, Stratford, Thamesmead and Woolwich.

Lewisham rail crashEdit

Main article: Lewisham rail crash

Lewisham is also the site of one of the worst disasters on British Railways in the 20th century. On 4 December 1957 a crowded steam-hauled passenger express headed for the Kent coast overran signals at danger in thick fog near St. John's station and crashed into a stationary electric train for the Hayes branch line. The force of the impact brought down an overhead railway bridge onto the wreckage below. An electric multiple unit about to cross the bridge towards Nunhead managed to pull up in time. 90 passengers and crew died in the accident.

Notable residentsEdit

Among those who were born in the Lewisham are: Template:Div col

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Nearest placesEdit

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Other Nearby Areas


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  2. Script error Accessed 30 June 2013
  3. Script error Accessed 30 June 2013
  4. Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/717;; second entry; Walter Wheler, husbandman, as defendant in a plea of debt
  5. 'Lewisham', The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent (1796), pp. 514-36. URL: Date accessed: 3 October 2007.
  7. Script error
  9. Lewisham London Borough Council - Lewisham town centre regeneration
  11. '1997': The Battle of Lewisham URL: Date accessed 21 February 2008

External linksEdit

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