Inventory Site Record

Brookmill Park (Lewisham)

Brief Description

Brookmill Park originated as a small recreation ground provided from 1880 near the Kent Waterworks' reservoir by the river Ravensbourne. It was expanded in the 1920s when part of the disused reservoir was infilled, and opened as Brookmill Park. Some evidence of the reservoir remains, much reduced in size, as the small oval lake still found in the park. When nearby housing was destroyed by WWII bombing, the park was further extended, re-opening in 1951 as Ravensbourne Park. When Deptford and Lewisham amalgamated to form Lewisham in 1965, the park reverted to its earlier name. It was again re-landscaped in the 1990s when the DLR was constructed, necessitating re-routing of the Ravensbourne, and former Thames Water gardens were added, now a formal garden with pond, pergolas, ornamental beds and hedges. The park was re-opened in 1998.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Ravensbourne Park
Site location:
Brookmill Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - sunset
Special conditions:
Play area, cycle route
Various events, see Friends of Brookmill Park website; self-guided walk
Public transport:
Rail: St John's. DLR: Elverston Road
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.lewisham.gov.uk/inmyarea/openspaces/parks

Full Site Description

The River Ravensbourne was used as a source of water by Deptford Waterworks, founded in 1701 as part of the Ravensbourne Water Company, and later became Kent Waterworks in 1809 (1805?). By the 1840s the company had a small reservoir surrounded by grass and trees on the site of the current Brookmill Park, adjacent to which a small recreation ground had existed from 1880. During the C19th, housing development took place here in phases in order to accommodate people working in the docks or railways, and the area was once known as Deptford New Town. The river ceased to be used for water supply in 1862 and by 1900 the reservoir was also disused, no longer adequate for the growing population. The Metropolitan Water Board took over London's water supply in 1902, later becoming Thames Water. In the 1920s the recreation ground was expanded when part of the reservoir was infilled and opened as Brookmill Park, the name referring to the silk mills that had been located in the area. Some evidence of the reservoir remains, much reduced in size, as the small oval lake still found in the park. Other evidence of the former history of the site is a grey brick James Engine House built by Kent Waterworks in 1811, next to which a well had been sunk to reach the artesian basin under London.

The area between Brookmill Park and the station was formerly called Broadway Fields and used for market gardening, which became Deptford Municipal Playing Fields in 1932; an extension across the Ravensbourne River was added in the late 1930s. When housing in Brookmill Road was destroyed by bombing in WWII, the park was further extended and re-opened on 3 September 1951, renamed Ravensbourne Park; ornamental gates with this name inscribed were installed in 1953 in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation. When Deptford and Lewisham were amalgamated to form London Borough of Lewisham in 1965, the park reverted to the original name of Brookmill Park to avoid confusion with Ravensbourne Park Gardens (q.v.) in Ladywell.

In the 1990s the construction of the Docklands Light Railway extension to Lewisham required the course of the Ravensbourne River to be altered as the new railway was partly following the concrete-sided channel of the river. This resulted in the majority of the park to the east of the river being taken for the DLR and the Ravensbourne was re-routed into a new, 'natural' channel running along the new eastern boundary of Brookmill Park. The former Thames Water gardens were added to the park and re-landscaped to create a formal garden with pond, pergolas, ornamental beds and hedges, designed by landscape architect W S Atkins. The park was re-opened on 28 July 1998 by the Mayor of Lewisham. The pond was drained when the re-routing was carried out but has been restored as a result of local campaigning. It is now fenced and its central island has been removed in order to discourage Canada geese. The park has a number of mature trees including some fine planes around the lake, numerous conifers, various areas of shrubbery, as well as the new formal gardens. In the south is planting of native shrubs on the site of a former disused railway embankment. Outside the park boundary, a nature reserve was set aside on the north bank of the river near the footbridge at Elverson Road station, named Brookmill Road Local Nature Reserve. Adjacent to the park beyond the formal gardens is the Stephen Lawrence Centre, built on the site of the waterworks.

The Friends of Brookmill Park was set up by a group of local residents in order to promote and share knowledge about the park, its wildlife and history. The group organises various activities and events, as well as running gardening projects, working closely with Lewisham's maintenance contractors. A cycle track was incorporated into the park when Thames Water moved from the site and between this and the railings along Brookmill Road a narrow strip of earth is now home to a range of wildflowers. Lime and Tulip trees feature in the stretch opposite the Brookmill Pub and a trial bed for a rare wild carnation, the Deptford Pink, is located here.

Sources consulted:

John Archer, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Lewisham', Ecology Handbook 30, London Ecology Unit, 2000; Document for Glendale/LB Lewisham Parks Conference 11 March 2000; Candy Blackham 'Green Lewisham', Clink Street Publishing 2022. Information on Friends' website: https://brookmillpark.com

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ375764 (537550,176450)
Size in hectares:
1.92 (3.6 inc. R.Ravensbourne)
Site ownership:
LB Lewisham
Site management:
Greenscene Department, Glendale Grounds Management; Friends of Brookmill Park
1880; 1920s, 1950s
1990s: W S Atkins
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Brookmill Road (south part)
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Archaeological Priority
Other LA designation:
Public Open Space/Urban Green Space (nature reserve)

Brookmill Park

Brookmill Park - Photo: Candy Blackham

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