Lewisham Council - Grove Park nature reserve


Grove Park nature reserve

Grove Park Nature Reserve, situated across the railway from Hither Green Cemetery, contains a good variety of habitats, including the only substantial area of grassland with a calcareous influence in the borough.

Open access all year

These habitats support a wide diversity of plants and animals, including a number of locally rare species. The reserve is greatly appreciated by many local people, whether walking their dogs, picking blackberries and plums, or quietly enjoying a peaceful wild space. The nature reserve is an important wildlife site and it also makes up part of the South East London Green Chain Walk and the regional Capital Ring.

 Local schools make good use of the site for educational visits. Its position among a suite of open spaces, including Hither Green Cemetery and what remains of the former railway sidings, adds to its value.


The railway from New Cross to Chislehurst opened in 1865, and this increased in importance in 1868 when it became the main line to Tonbridge. In 1904, quadrupling of the main line to Grove Park and onwards was completed.

Between St Mildreds Road and Grove Park station, a very wide corridor of land was left which, to the east of the line, apart from the goods sidings and carriage sheds, was largely given over to allotments until the 1980s.

The land which now comprises the nature reserve has a rather complex history. The woodland at the southern end was once the garden of a large house. This appears on the Ordnance Survey six-inch map of 1894-96.

Most of the rest of the reserve was allotments, at least during the 'Dig for Victory' campaign in the Second World War, and parts were allotments before then. The western edge of the reserve lies on the shallow bank of a cutting which has remained more or less undisturbed since the railway was built.

The site first became a nature reserve in 1984, when the Council agreed to manage it under a licence from British Rail. It had been used for informal recreation by local people for many years before this.

The Council acquired the freehold of the land in 1987 following a Public Inquiry in 1986 which allowed planning permission for housing on land just north of the reserve (now 'Bramdean Village').

Initially, the Council, as a condition of the lease from British Rail, attempted to restrict access to the reserve to times when staff or volunteers were present. However, the fence and gate were repeatedly vandalised, and when the freehold passed to the Council, it was agreed that the site should remain open.

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