Forbidden Fruit at Blendon Hall

Just along the road from Blackfen stood Blendon Hall, a large country villa built in 1763 on the site of a much earlier building. When the banker John Smith, MP lived there he decided in 1816 to redesign the hall and re-landscape the gardens. Fences were erected around the estate, but around the new fruit garden “a more substantial guard against man must be provided and brick walls are the best security”. Was he worried about the people of Blackfen helping themselves?!

Incidentally, there were reports around 1900 of people in Blackfen being caught blackberry-picking – it was an offence to trespass and take the fruit!

Blendon Hall was demolished for a housing estate in 1934.

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Blackfen School of Music, Dance and Elocution

Here is Woodlands Parade in Blackfen Road in 1934 (Sycamore Avenue can just be seen on the left). The house just past the shops had been a private school since 1928, where Mr and Mrs Ashdown ran The Blackfen School of Music, Dancing and Elocution. As well as normal school lessons, there were dancing lessons on Saturday mornings and typing lessons in the evenings. The school was very successful, with regular displays and competitions. Apparently for boys it was THE place to go on Friday nights if you wanted to meet a girl!

Woodlands Post Office 1934

First Aid Post

In 1939 a First Aid Post was built on the triangular plot of land at the corner of Sherwood Park Avenue. Kent County Council had already planned to erect a Maternity and Welfare Clinic in the Blackfen area and so it was agreed that they could be permitted to use it as a clinic in Peace Time. Not far away a Cleansing Station and Ambulance Station was built at Willersley Park.

There were quite a few public shelters, including trenches underneath the gardens of The Oval for 316 people. I spoke to someone who remembered chasing his friends around the tunnels as a boy, but it seems no-one ever actually used them as a shelter during air raids. Like many shelters dug in the ‘Black Fen’, they frequently flooded!

Sir Charles Martel visits Sir William Pryn

On this day, 15 April, in 1930 Brig.-Gen. Sir Charles Martel, CB and his wife Lilian, of Queenswood, Blackfen visited the home of Surgeon Rear Admiral Sir William Pryn of 3 Christchurch Road, Sidcup. Martel signed Pryn’s visitors’ book and indicated that the day on which the Martels were themselves ‘at home’ to visitors was Saturday.

In the early 1900s our area was a popular place to live for retired military families. I am always fascinated by the networking and friendships between them!

 

James Lee of Strawberry Gardens

It’s difficult to imagine these days, but in the 1880s there were just fields here at what is now the junction of Westwood Lane/Blackfen Road. James Lee, a market gardener and florist kept ‘Strawberry Gardens’ here, and he lived in a rather run-down cottage with his wife Elizabeth. At that time it was still part of the Danson Estate. But the soil was heavy and three years of wet weather led to bad crops… and when his wife died he started to get behind on his rent – it was his wife who had kept the accounts. In April 1906 he went bankrupt, and Strawberry Gardens was taken over by Walter Cook.

Westwood Lane_Blackfen Rd 2018

Remember the burst water pipe in 2004?

In March 2004 a burst water pipe in Blackfen Road caused the flooding
of one hundred homes. Water levels rose to more than four feet and
people were forced to retreat upstairs, trying to lift their valuables above
the water. The most serious flooding was in Penshurst Avenue and Maple Crescent. Stranded residents were rescued by police dinghy and the Salvation Army dispensed hot drinks while Thames Water dealt with the emergency. Local schools were shut and Blackfen Road was closed for resurfacing, affecting business for shops. Some families had to be housed in hotels while their homes were repaired.

The incident was reported in the Evening Standard: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/sidcup-runneth-over-6946186.html

and BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/3505588.stm

Penshurst_burst water main_2004

Bankruptcy in 1819

On 16 March 1819 the London Gazette announced the bankruptcy of Richard and Robert Day. Their father, Richard Day, had purchased Blackfen Farm in the 1790s and rented it to the farmer, John Solomon, for £200 per year. But in 1819 the brothers, who were also co-partners in a seed-crusher and oil-broker business, got into financial trouble and the farm was put up for auction. The four-bedroom farmhouse was in 134 acres of land which was ‘abundant with game’. The farm was located to the west of Days Lane. However, ‘Dayes Lane’ is referred to in the records as early as 1681, long before the Day family’s association with Blackfen.