FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Spring at the (ex) Sewage Farm

Posted in England, South Norwood by folkestonejack on May 2, 2020

One of the unexpected aspects of the lockdown has been the way many of us have paid a little more attention to the overlooked wonders on our doorsteps. South Norwood Country Park, more or less at the end of my street, is my re-discovery. In its quietest moments it was easy to forget about the current crisis, aside from the notices at the entrances and the chalked notices on the pathways calling on us all to protect the NHS.

A carpet of cow parsley in the woods

I guess that I first came to the park in the mid 1980s when my Scout Group visited the wild space known to us as the Sewage Farm to play wide games during the light summer evenings. My memories are a little hazy, but I know that we were split into two teams so I guess this might have been ‘Capture the flag’ or something similar.

The site was established as a sewage works in 1865 and saw use until 1967. On its closure nature reclaimed the site, a mixture of wetland and grassland, followed by the landscaping that came with its formal designation as the South Norwood Country Park in 1988.

It’s a little hard to visualise this less than glamourous past life on a casual wander through the park, though traces of its former life can still be seen if you look beyond the lush vegetation, such as the concrete channels once used to carry sewage to the lagoons.

During the lockdown I have been crossing the park once a week on my way to a weekly shop, giving me the opportunity to appreciate the changes as the trees have come out of their winter slumbers and into gorgeous blossom (especially the crab apple on the pathway into the park). Right now, the park looks particularly splendid swathed in fields of cow parsley.

The highest viewpoint in the park (created from the rubble spoil from buildings demolished after the Second World War) offers views that include local landmarks like the Croydon transmitting station at Beaulieu Heights, the Crystal Palace transmitting station and the floodlights of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

I feel very lucky to have a 125 acre nature reserve so close to hand, a pleasure that I hope to continue appreciating once we finally return to some sense of normality.


2 Responses

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  1. Shaun said, on May 16, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Hello. I lived in Archer Road, South Norwood from 1967-82 and I am trying to find out if my memory is correct. I think I remember seeing bullet holes in the station sign at Norwood Junction back entrance from when the station was strafed by a German plane during the war. Is this correct or is it something that was legend?

    • folkestonejack said, on May 16, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      I asked around to see if anyone had heard of this, but didn’t have much luck – would be interesting to hear if anyone knows about this. I looked at some records in the National Archives some years ago and there are accounts of German planes targeting loco crews at work on engines in the yard at Norwood.

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