History of the site
The site has been subject to much disturbance by public works.Up to the early 1800s the site and much of the surrounding land was wooded and called Forest Wood and a small part of the much larger Great North Wood that stretched from New Cross (Hatcham) to just north of Croydon and from Sydenham to Streatham. The largest remaining part of the Great North Wood is Sydenham Hill, Cox’s Walk & Dulwich Wood.
The London Wildlife Trust has secured funding for the Great North Wood Project until 2021 assiting with other ‘Friends’ of group maintaing many former Great North Wood woodland sites covering the London boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Southwark & Croydon that has either been neglected or mismanaged for years.
The former Friends of the Great North Wood produced an leaflet about the Great North Wood and a map of the existing sites and further information and is available for sale priced at £1 plus postage for further details contact the Friends of Garthorne Road Nature Reserve by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . All the money raised goes to purchasing tools and equipment to further improve the biodiversity of the reserve.
The canal snaked around Forest Hill in a ‘S-Shape’ following the 150ft contours. It is possible that is passed through part of the site at the Souther end (OS Map 1896). In the 1830s the London to Croydon Railway was constructed following a straight course through the cutting. Extensive earth movements must have created huge amounts of spoil which may account for the uneven topography of the site. Evidence of past building materials can be found and this may be a clue to the path of the canal. The Tithe Maps and the equivalent Apportionment Book show that the surrounding land use at the time was mainly pasture with some arable. The may have affected the site when the woodland was cleared.
Remnants of the Croydon Canal can be found in Garthorne Road. More information about this can be found on Diamond Geezers blog. More images of the old Croydon Canal can be found on Steve Grindlay’s Flickr page.