Folkestone Gardens in New Cross

Not that far from where I used to live a few years ago is one of those rather small municipal gardens that pop up from time to time in scraps of land often left over from former industrial works or derelict grand houses that had fallen on hard times.

Folkestone Gardens is itself the former land belonging to homes, but less stately and more tenement – which were largely flattened by a German V2 missile on the 7th March 1945, with the loss of 53 lives.

In fact it was the second worst loss of life in the area during WW2 – which slightly makes the garden a sort of war memorial.

The area is bordered to one side by the railway, and to the other by Trundleys Road. A road to the south, and to the north was the Surrey Canal – now sadly filed in and turned into a high-speed route for motorists.

On the night of the attack, two blocks of flats were destroyed as were 5 houses. Ten shops and houses in Trundleys Road had severe damage. 8 railway arches used as spinning mills slight damage. Most of the flats belonged to the Southern Railway and most if not all of the casualties were railway employees or their families.

There was also a road running behind the houses, Oareboro Road – and when the area was later re landscaped into a park, that road vanished beneath the rubble of the former houses.

This map extract from 1908 shows Oareboro Road running between Trundleys Road to the West and the Railway. Modern map here.

Like many parts of London, the area was left empty after the war for several decades, although local children used to play in the bomb site and they held a huge bonfire on the site of the V2 impact each 5th November.

Anyway, later the land was later turned into a small park and nature reserve. Unlike many small parks though, this one has some decent sized “hills” that still give you quite a good view of the area from the top.

I wonder if they are made from the rubble left over from the destruction of the houses?

Municipal park

The most important feature of the park is its large pond, which was restored by the Council in 1994, after a serious leak led to the pond drying out.

The park is surprisingly quiet for although it is bounded by railways and roads, the conventional background roar of road traffic is not that noticeable, so the main disturbance is from trains interrupting the bird song, and they pass by quite quickly.

Beware of thin ice - in April?

I am slightly annoyed with myself that I didn’t make more use of the park when I lived nearby – especially feeding the ducks.

Yellow duckling

A few more photos over here.

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18 Comments

  1. Hurrah, the first ducklings are here! I look every morning as I cycle past but haven’t spotted these yet – very interesting colouring on that little golden one!

  2. Old China

    I cycle through here occasionally on the way to/ from work. The last time I went through it some Millwall fans on the way to a match decided they didn’t like cyclists and tried to push me off as I went past. Also some kids on a motorbike almost had me off my bike one night, so now I avoid it.

    Sad, as it was a highlight of my commute.

    • IanVisits

      How many times did you cycle though without incident though?

      We shouldn’t allow the occasional bad experience detract from many hundreds of pleasant trips.

  3. Old China

    Very true Ian. I’m going to make a point of going through it tonight! I had no idea about it’s sad history though – the park now takes on a deeper significance.

  4. Chris S

    I lived in Folkestone Gardens from 1954 until 1968 and was one of the children who played on the bombsite. In fact although two blocks were flattened by the V2 five remained as did most of Oarboro Rd. I remember there being prefabs on the corner site that had been bombed. I was ony 6 when we moved there and because I’d been on holidays to Folkestone and we shared a garden where we lived in Hither Green I was really excited at moving and remember it was a huge shock when we arrived to find the only garden was a bombsite and to hang out washing mum had to go up onto the roof. The blocks were three storeys high with six flats to each entrance and there were strict rules on which days you could hang your washing out and when it was your turn to wash the stairs down. You even had to have permission for visitors to stay overnight. When we first moved in they still had gas light and a copper boiler and coal cellar in the kitchen.

    • Carmen

      Hi Chris, my family lived in Folkestone Gardens from 1954 to 1967. We lived in the first yard. I too can remember my mum hanging out her washing on the roof also taking her turn to sweep the block. We were quite a large family in a 1 bedroom flat, yet there were some families with only 1 child yet they had 2 bedrooms. We had lots of fun back then, it was a real community spirit, everybody looked out for one another. We had no visitors staying overnight, there wouldn’t have been any room!!!!

  5. Georgina Town

    I was born at 24 Oareboro Rd and my familywas one of the last familes to move out before it was made into the park. I remember we had an outside toilet and it being freezing everytime we wanted to go! Happy memories though from playing out with my sisters and friends. I also now work in the arches there and walk through the park every day. I have definately come full cycle!

    • graham

      i to lived at 68 oareboro rd my names graham we to were one of the last stil live in deptford

    • Perry Lawson

      My grandparents used to live at 35 Oareboro Rd. Thomas & Emily French, they had two children Bob & Gladys.

    • lynn edwards nee aitchison

      i lived at 6 oareboro rd my name was ltnn aitchison i remember graham boast, karen cox, pamala russle val and julie newman the tarry family dawn and roland strong, mr and mrs edwards, kevin bernie, the cook family the conway family i loved tony conway in them days, shiela and chiesam lorry in cornor shop of oareboro rd,th dirkin family a lady called rose on the corner near the tunnle that led to gosterwood street, and im sure if i think about it i will remembermany more

  6. Ian Plimmer

    Thank you for this blog post – it has helped me find the location of my half-uncle’s father’s birthplace of 54 Oareboro Road. The address wasn’t easy to read on the birth certificate but eventually the trail brought me to your blog and a very useful map – thank you!

    :-)

  7. ivy brindle

    If it helps with the house numbers in Oareborough Road Number 35 was next door to the prefabs. The even numbers were opposite and backed on to Folkestone Gardens.

  8. chris kingston

    My Grandparents Henry and Clara Kingston lived in the “buildings” at Folkston Gardens. I remember visiting them there as a child. Henry died in 1956, my grandmother continued to live there until her death in 1969.

  9. Morris Simpson

    My family were the first Afro Carribean family to move into Folkestone Gardens in 1954 and we lived at no.68
    Many happy years were spent playing on the bomb site, annoying the neighbours while playing football in the yard and constantly being told off by the caretaker (Mr Crawley). Both me and my brother Keith were employed as paper boys by Len and May in Newburys. I remember the mornings being icy cold in winter and the letter boxes very small. Fireworks night was always a spectacular event with the bomb site hosting the biggest bone fire in Deptford.
    I have lasting memories of playing down by the canal, gaining entry to Millwall football ground at half time for free, taking the washing up to the laundry and struggling with it once it had been collected, the smell of the coal on the coalmans lorry and bath night in the tin bath in front of the fire. GOOD OLD DAYS.

  10. James Colwell

    I and my cousin Brian were the two six year old boys who were the sole survivors of the two blocks of flats that were destroyed by the V2. Nine members of our family died when the V2 hit Folkstone Gardens on 7th March 1945.

  11. Pauline Johnson

    My Grandmother lived in Oarboro Road in the 1901 census, family of Titler. I think it was a very poor area then.

  12. carol huntley

    Hi lynn (edwards nee aitchison), the tarry family you
    mentioned who lived at no 8 were my mums family. Ihave many happy memories visiting my nan there. Some of tbe names you mentioned are familier to me but I can’t put fa es to the names. I was shocked recently when v,isited the area to fi.d the houses all gone anda park in there place.

  13. fred hall

    To brian who moved out after the bombing of folkstone gardens, do you remember the hall family, mum,dad, four sisters and two brothers, namley bill, alice, peggy, ann, ken and rosie, all dead now, i think they moved before the blast to downham

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