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Lewisham stations and buses
Grid reference: TQ385755
Location: 51°27’41"N, 0°0’19"W
Post town: London
Postcode: SE13
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Lewisham

Lewisham is a sizable town in Kent buried deep within the metropolitan conurbation. Lewisham's High Street is particularly long and wide for a metropolitan suburb.


A local etymology has it that Lewisham is named after a Jutish chief named Leof, who sailed up the Thames and burnt his boat near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) in the 6th century. A more sober analysis of the name was provided by Daniel Lysons in 1796, who 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. It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."[1]


"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.

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

On 5 September 1711 William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth received the additional title of Viscount Lewisham.[2]

The village of Lewisham was originally centred further south 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 town centre was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944 with over 300 deaths. It devastated the high street, which was not restored to its former state until the mid 1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977).

The Sainsbury's store in Lewisham Shopping Centre was briefly the largest supermarket in Europe. The store still exists today and is small by modern standards. 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, which was opened in 2004 to replace the station in Ladywell, is officially the largest in Europe. [3] There is also another large police station in nearby Catford. There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre.[4] There is a single skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands.

In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham[5] (actually in New Cross) saw the biggest political street battle 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.


Lewisham Cricket Club was one of the most prestigious London sides during the Victorian era. They played at Lewisham Cricket Ground from 1864, which lay north of Ladywell Road until its closure in the latter part of the 19th century. Lewisham Swimming Club was also very successful with several of its members representing England in water polo and other gymkhana events. The club still meets at Ladywell Swimming Baths, one of the public swimming pools in Lewisham which include Downham Health and Leisure Centre, the Bridge in Sydenham, Forest Hill Pools (closed for refurbishment) and Wavelengths in Deptford.

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