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.
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!
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!
First Aid Post, later Maternity and Welfare Clinic, Sherwood Park Avenue
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!
Brig.-Gen. Sir Charles Martel, CB
Surgeon Rear-Adm. Sir William Pryn
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
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.
Days Lane c1900, looking towards Blackfen
Days Lane 1930
Days Lane 1933