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Lewisham facts for kids

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Joe lew (1).jpg
Lewisham Central at night
Lewisham is located in Greater London
Population 60,573 (Ladywell, Lewisham Central, Lee Green and Blackheath wards 2011)
OS grid reference TQ385755
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE13
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Lewisham Deptford
    Lewisham East
    Lewisham West and Penge
London Assembly
  • Greenwich and Lewisham
List of places
51°27′40″N 0°00′18″W / 51.461°N 0.005°W / 51.461; -0.005

Lewisham is an area of south-east London, England, 5.9 miles (9.5 km) south of Charing Cross. It is the principal area of the London Borough of Lewisham, and is also within the historic county of Kent. It is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London, with a large shopping centre and street market.

Lewisham was a small village until the development of passenger railways in the 19th century. Lewisham had a population of 60,573 in 2011.


Kaleidoscope Children and Young People's Centre, Lewisham
Kaleidoscope Children and Young People's Centre, Catford

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

"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.

King Alfred was Lord of the Manor of Lewisham, as is celebrated by a plaque in Lewisham Library.

The Manor of Lewisham, with its appendages of Greenwich and Combe, was given by Elthruda, King Alfred's niece, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent, of which Lewisham then became a cell, or an alien priory. This grant is said to have been confirmed by King Edgar in 964, and by Edward the Confessor in 1044, with the addition of many privileges.

In the mid-17th century, the then vicar of Lewisham, Abraham Colfe, built a grammar school, a primary school and six almshouses for the inhabitants.

In the 17th century the Manor of Lewisham was purchased by George Legge, later Baron Dartmouth. His son William was raised by Queen Anne to several positions of honour and trust, and was a member of her privy council; and on 5 September 1711, was ennobled as Viscount Lewisham, and Earl of Dartmouth. His grandson George, Lord Dartmouth, obtained from King Charles II[he had been dead for ages] the privilege of holding a fair twice a year, and a market twice a week, upon Blackheath in the parish. The fair used to be held on 12 May and 11 October, but in 1772 it was discontinued, (except for the sale of cattle) by the Earl of Dartmouth, as lord of the manor.

Modern times

The village of Lewisham had its nucleus in its southern part, 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. The Official Illustrated Guide to South-Eastern and North and Mid-Kent Railways of June 1863, by George Measom, describes Lewisham as follows: 'Lewisham Station, situated on the slope of an eminence admist picturesque scenery, beautiful green meadows rising abruptly to the summit of the hill on the left, dotted with handsome residences and gardens, while the Common is seen intersected by various cross roads and studded with country inns and houses on the low ground or valley to the right. The area of the parish is 5,789 acres... Lord of the manor, the Earl of Dartmouth to whom it gives the title Viscount'.

Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and then formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965.

The town centre was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944: there were over 300 casualties including 51 fatalities, and it devastated the high street, which was fully restored by the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977). The plaque was on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, suffering wear and tear, the local authority arranged for it to be mounted to the façade. In 1955 Sainsbury's opened a store in Lewisham which was reported to be Europe's largest self-service supermarket, with 7,500 square[feet?] of retail space, although the one now incorporated in the 1977 shopping centre is much smaller. 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, opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe.

Lewisham Cricket Club was one of the most prestigious London sides during the Victorian era. From 1864 they played at Lewisham Cricket Ground, which lay north of Ladywell Road, until its closure later in the 19th century. Lewisham Swimming Club was also very successful, with several of its members representing England at water polo and other gymkhana events. During the First World War, Lewisham Hospital's infirmary became the Lewisham Military Hospital, and during the Second World War the hospital was hit by a V-1 flying bomb, which destroyed two wards, injured 70 people and killed one nurse.

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.

In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham (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.

The Docklands Light Railway was extended to Lewisham in 1999.


Lewisham DLR stn entrance
Lewisham DLR entrance

National Rail

Lewisham station provides the area with Southeastern services to London Victoria, London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street, Dartford via Woolwich Arsenal, Dartford via Bexleyheath, Gravesend via Bexleyheath, Slade Green via Bexleyheath, Slade Green via Sidcup, Hayes and Orpington.


Lewisham station also provides DLR services to Bank via Canary Wharf.


Lewisham is served by many London Buses routes.


River Ravensbourne, Lewisham
Cornmill Gardens development around the River Ravensbourne, 2013

There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre. Lewisham London Borough Council's local development plan entails the improvement of Lewisham's town centre to become a metropolitan centre to rival Bromley, Croydon and Kingston upon Thames.

There is a skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands which may be converted to residential.

There are three major development sites on Loampit Vale:

  • The Renaissance development comprises flats in buildings from 5 to 24 storeys as well as the new Glass Mill leisure centre, which opened in 2013 and replaced the Ladywell leisure centre.
  • Lewisham Gateway is a redevelopment site bounded by the DLR station, Lewisham High Street, the Shopping Centre and the Railway to Blackheath. The highway layout is being changed from a roundabout to two signalised junctions, while the River Ravensbourne and the Quaggy will be re-routed. The development includes shops, restaurants, bars, cafes, leisure facilities and up to 800 homes. The first phase of construction started in May 2014 with a 15 and 25 story residential building east of the DLR station.
  • Thurston Road industrial estate had planning consent granted in 2008, however the development has been heavily delayed. The scheme will be a mixed used site, which includes residential and commercial buildings of between two and 17 storeys, as well a car park.


Almost all of the SE13 postcode district, which is associated with Lewisham, Ladywell and Hither Green, 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.

Other Nearby Areas:


The nearest Met Office climate station is based in Greenwich Park:

Climate data for London (Greenwich)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Record low °C (°F) -10.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 51.6
Humidity 81.0 76.0 69.0 64.0 62.0 60.0 60.0 62.0 67.0 73.0 78.0 82.0 69.5
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.8 8.5 9.6 9.4 9.0 8.3 8.0 7.6 8.5 10.7 10.1 9.9 110.4
Avg. snowy days 4 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 16
Sunshine hours 49.9 71.4 107.1 159.8 181.2 181.0 192.1 195.1 138.9 108.1 58.5 37.4 1,480.5
Source #1: Record highs and lows from BBC Weather, except August and February maximum from Met Office
Source #2: All other data from Met Office, except for humidity and snow data which are from NOAA


Secondary schools in Lewisham include:

  • Addey and Stanhope School
  • Bonus Pastor Catholic College
  • Conisborough College
  • Deptford Green School
  • Forest Hill School (Boys only)
  • Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College
  • Haberdashers' Knights Academy
  • Prendergast School
  • Prendergast Ladywell School
  • Prendergast Vale School
  • St Matthew Academy
  • Sedgehill School
  • Sydenham School
  • Trinity Church of England School

Notable people

Among those who were born or have lived in Lewisham are:

  • D-Block Europe (hip hop collective) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Russ Millions (rapper) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Ginger Baker (drummer of Cream) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Natasha Bedingfield (singer/songwriter) brought up in Lewisham
  • Rosa May Billinghurst (suffragette) lived in Lewisham.
  • Yannick Bolasie (footballer), brought up in Lewisham
  • Kate Bush (musician) lived in Brockley and Lewisham
  • Ann Batten Cristall (1769–1848), poet and schoolteacher
  • General Sir John Crocker (British Army general, service in World War I and World War II), born in Lewisham
  • Leland Lewis Duncan (photographer, writer) born in Lewisham
  • Franz Goedecker (merchant and artist), lived in Lewisham
  • Malcolm Hardee (comedian) lived in Blackheath and Lewisham
  • Danielle Harold (actress best known for playing Lola in Eastenders) born and raised in Lewisham
  • Keeley Hazell (page-3 girl & model) born in Lewisham
  • Jessica Hynes (actress and comedian) born in Lewisham
  • Greg James (TV and radio presenter) born in Lewisham
  • Eman Kellam (TV presenter) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Frank King (cricketer) born in Lewisham
  • Kwes (record music producer and Warp recording artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Elsa Lanchester (Anglo-American actress) born in Lewisham
  • Lillie Langtry (actress) lived in Wickham Way, Lewisham
  • Jude Law (actor) lived in Lewisham
  • Neal Lawson (politician) was born in Lewisham
  • Angie Le Mar (comedian, radio broadcaster) was born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Delroy Lindo (actor) born in Lewisham
  • Marie Lloyd (entertainer) lived in Lewisham and New Cross
  • Ruben Loftus-Cheek (footballer)
  • Alexander McQueen (designer) born in Lewisham
  • Josh Maja (footballer), born in Lewisham
  • MNEK (musician) was born in Lewisham
  • Edith Nesbit (writer) lived in Blackheath, Grove Park and Lewisham
  • P Money (Grime music artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Merky ACE (Grime music artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Novelist (Grime music artist) born and brought up in Lewisham
  • Gary Oldman (actor) born and raised in New Cross
  • William Page (historian and general editor of the Victoria County History) lived in Lewisham from 1875 until he emigrated to Queensland in 1881
  • Jonathan Palmer former Formula One driver and commentator
  • Mica Paris (musician) lived in Lewisham.
  • Gladys Powers (centenarian), born in Lewisham
  • Maxi Priest (musician), born and raised in Lewisham
  • Luke Pritchard (musician), born in Lewisham
  • Louise Redknapp (singer, TV presenter and former wife of footballer Jamie Redknapp), born in Lewisham
  • Kieran Richardson (footballer) lived in Lewisham.
  • David Rocastle (footballer) born and raised in Lewisham and Brockley. Attended primary school in Brockley
  • George Solomos (American writer) lived in Catford.
  • Doris Stokes (spirit-medium) lived in Lewisham.
  • Doveton Sturdee British Admiral of the Fleet, born in Lewisham
  • David Sylvian (musician) lived in Lewisham.
  • Kae Tempest (spoken word performer, poet, recording artist, novelist and playwright) grew up in Brockley
  • Eamonn Walker (TV and film actor, husband of Sandra Walker), born in Lewisham
  • Richard Walsh (actor), born in Lewisham
  • Ian Wright (footballer) lived in Lewisham and Brockley.
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips (footballer and son of Ian Wright) grew up in Brockley
  • Conrad Williams Commonwealth Games 2014 gold medalist
  • Sid Vicious (musician), born in Lewisham
  • Troy von Scheibner (magician), born in Lewisham
  • Henry Williamson (author), born and raised in Lewisham
  • Bill Wyman, bass player of the Rolling Stones, born in Lewisham Hospital

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Lewisham para niños

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