For the larger local government district, see London Borough of Lewisham.
For other uses, see Lewisham (disambiguation).

New development, Renaissance, designed by Assael Architecture on Loampit Vale
 Lewisham shown within Greater London
Population 95,041 (United Kingdom Census 2011)
OS grid referenceTQ385755
London borough Lewisham
Ceremonial county Greater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district SE13, SE3, SE8, SE12, SE14, SE6
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK ParliamentLewisham Deptford and Lewisham East
London Assembly Greenwich and Lewisham
List of places

Coordinates: 51°27′41″N 0°00′19″W / 51.461456°N 0.00537°W / 51.461456; -0.00537

Lewisham (/ˈl.ɪʃəm/) is an area in south-east London, England, in the London Borough of Lewisham, centred 5.9 miles (9.5 km) south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[1] As a major centre, Lewisham had a population of 95,041[2] in 2011. It is an important transport hub for South London, and is one of the borough's largest settlements.


Kaleidoscope Children and Young People's Centre, Catford

It is most likely to have been founded by a pagan Jute, Leof, who settled (by burning his boat) near St Mary's Church (Ladywell) where the ground was drier, in the 6th century. As to the etymology of the name, Daniel Lysons (1796) 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. A Latin legal record, dated 1440, mentions a place in Kent as Levesham which may refer to Lewisham.[3] It is now written, as well in parochial and other records as in common usage, Lewisham."[4]

"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.

King Alfred was Lord of the Manor of Lewisham as is celebrated by a plaque in Lewisham Library.

The Manor of Lewisham was given, with its appendages of Greenwich and Combe, by Elthruda, King Alfred's niece, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent, to which Lewisham then became a cell, or alien priory; which grant is said to have been confirmed by King Edgar in 964, and by Edward the Confessor in 1044, with the addition of many privileges.

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

In the 17th century the Manor of Lewisham was purchased by George Legge, later Baron Dartmouth. His son William was raised by Queen Anne to several posts of honour and trust, and was of her privy council; and on 5 September 1711, was advanced to the dignities of Viscount Lewisham, and Earl of Dartmouth. His grandson George, Lord Dartmouth, obtained from King Charles II a grant, to hold a fair twice a year, and a market twice a week, upon Blackheath in the parish. The former of which used to be held on 12 May and 11 October; but it has since the year 1772, been discontinued, (excepting for the sale of cattle) by public notice, given by the Earl of Dartmouth, as lord of the manor.[5]

The village of Lewisham had its nucleus in its southern part 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 Official Illustrated Guide to South-Eastern and North and Mid-Kent Railways by George Measom from June 1863 describes Lewisham thus: 'Lewisham Station, situated on the slope of an eminence admist picturesque scenery, beautiful green meadows rising abruptly to the summit of the hill on the left, dotted with handsome residences and gardens, while the Common is seen intersected by various cross roads and studded with country inns and houses on the low ground or valley to the right. The area of the parish is 5,789 acres... Lord of the manor, the Earl of Dartmouth to whom it gives the title Viscount'.

Lewisham was administratively part of Kent until 1889, and formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham in the County of London until 1965.

The town centre was hit by a V-1 flying bomb[6] in 1944 with over 300 casualties of which there were 51 fatalities which devastated the high street, which was restored fully by the mid-1950s. This horrific event is commemorated by a plaque outside the Lewisham Shopping Centre (opened in 1977). The plaque was on the pavement outside the Marks and Spencers store in the main shopping precinct. However, suffering wear and tear, the local authority arranged for it to be mounted to the façade.[7] In 1955 Sainsbury's opened a store in Lewisham which was reported to be Europe's largest self-service supermarket, with 7,500 square of retail space, although the one now incorporated in the 1977 shopping centre is much smaller.[8] 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.[9]

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. During the First World War, Lewisham Hospital's infirmary became the Lewisham Military Hospital and during the Second World War the hospital was hit by a V-1 flying bomb, which destroyed two wards, injured 70 people and killed one nurse.

Lewisham is also the site of one of the worst disasters on British Railways in the 20th century. On 4 December 1957 a crowded steam-hauled passenger express headed for the Kent coast overran signals at danger in thick fog near St. John's station and crashed into a stationary electric train for the Hayes branch line. The force of the impact brought down an overhead railway bridge onto the wreckage below. An electric multiple unit about to cross the bridge towards Nunhead managed to pull up in time. 90 passengers and crew died in the accident.

In 1977, the Battle of Lewisham (actually in New Cross) saw the biggest street battle against fascists 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.[10]

The Docklands Light Railway was extended to Lewisham in 1999.


A map showing the wards of Lewisham Metropolitan Borough as they appeared in 1916.

The parish of Lewisham was governed by a vestry; and from 1855 until 1900 by the Lewisham District Board of Works, in combination with Penge. Following the London Government Act 1899, the County of London was split into 28 metropolitan boroughs in 1900. Lewisham, with the parish of Lee, became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham. In 1965, after the London Government Act 1963 was passed through Parliament, the current 32 London boroughs where formed and today Lewisham is part of the London Borough of Lewisham.

Lewisham London Borough Council is based in Catford. The current directly elected mayor is Steven Bullock. For the London Assembly, the London Borough of Lewisham is joined with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to form the Greenwich and Lewisham constituency, with the current AM being Len Duvall. For Westminster elections, Lewisham is covered by the Lewisham Deptford constituency where the current Member of Parliament is Vicky Foxcroft. All representatives are part of the Labour Party.

Commercial area and amenities

University Hospital Lewisham, Riverside Building

Lewisham's commercial area is one of the largest in South East London. Lewisham Shopping Centre, opened in 1977, has 70 stores over 330,000 square feet. Shops include Marks & Spencer, W H Smith, Sainsburys, H&M, TK Maxx, JD Sports, BHS, SportsDirect.com, Argos and Boots.[11] The centre is between Molesworth Street (a dual carriageway section of the A21) and Lewisham High Street, but most shoppers enter and leave on the High Street. Lewisham Market and the Library is outside the shopping centre on the High Street. Since the Docklands Light Railway extension reached Lewisham the centre experienced an increase in customers. The centre is the major shopping centre in the borough of Lewisham. Also part of the complex is the Lewisham House office tower, the tallest building in the borough and formerly occupied by Citibank. There are proposals to convert this brutalist skyscraper to flats.

The street food outlet Street Feast now operates in Lewisham in a former 1950s Model Market.[12]

Lewisham has a bowling alley[13] and the Glassmill Swimming pool and Gym.

Lewisham has a number of parks such as Hilly Fields and Lewisham Park.

For 14 years between 2001 and 2015, Lewisham was the only London Borough not to have a cinema. Lewisham once had many such as the Lewisham Odeon. In 1930 there were 30 venues showing films.[14] As of 2015, Lewisham Borough is now home to two cinemas: an independently owned, not for profit cinema in Deptford named Deptford Cinema [15] and Curzon Goldsmiths, a movie space located inside the campus of Goldsmiths College in New Cross.[16]

Opened in 1894, University Hospital Lewisham is a National Health Service, acute hospital run by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust serving the whole London Borough of Lewisham as well as some surrounding areas. In July 2012 the government recommended that Lewisham's Accident & Emergency ward should be closed, with reliance on emergencies transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. However, there was a strong campaign in Lewisham against the proposed closure, including a march on 24 November 2012[17] and a successful legal challenge. In July 2013, the High Court ruled that the closure of Lewisham A&E could not go ahead.[18] In October 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt did not have power to implement cuts at Lewisham Hospital.[19]


Sixth form and further education providers in Lewisham include Christ the King Sixth Form College and Lewisham Southwark College. Lewisham is also home to Goldsmiths, University of London and the Laban Dance College (part of Trinity College of Music).


Lewisham DLR entrance

Lewisham has a major transport interchange served by Southeastern rail services, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Buses and National Express Coaches.


Main article: Lewisham station

All trains are operated by Southeastern. They serve London Victoria, London Charing Cross and London Cannon Street both via London Bridge and via Sidcup, also Orpington and Hayes, Dartford via Bexleyheath, and Gillingham via Woolwich Arsenal.


The Docklands Light Railway has services to Canary Wharf, Bank and Stratford.


Lewisham is served by many Transport for London bus services connecting it with areas including Beckenham, Bexleyheath, Brockley, Bromley, Brixton, Catford, Central London, Croydon, Crystal Palace, Eltham, Greenwich, New Cross, Orpington, Peckham, Penge, Sidcup, Stratford, Thamesmead and Woolwich.


Cornmill Gardens development around the River Ravensbourne, 2013

There is planned regeneration of Lewisham town centre. Lewisham London Borough Council's local development plan entails the improvement of Lewisham's town centre to become a metropolitan centre to rival Bromley, Croydon and Kingston upon Thames.[20][21]

There is a skyscraper adjacent to the shopping centre which used to be owned by Citibank until they moved to the Docklands which may be converted to residential.

There are three major development sites on Loampit Vale:

Notable people

Among those who were born or have lived in Lewisham are:


Almost all of the SE13 postcode district, which is associated with Lewisham, Ladywell and Hither Green, is within the London Borough of Lewisham, except for the Coldbath Estate and part of the Orchard Estate along Lewisham Road, which are covered by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Other Nearby Areas:


The nearest Met Office climate station is based in Greenwich Park:

Climate data for London (Greenwich)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Record low °C (°F) −10.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51.6
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.8 8.5 9.6 9.4 9.0 8.3 8.0 7.6 8.5 10.7 10.1 9.9 110.4
Average snowy days 4 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 16
Average relative humidity (%) 81.0 76.0 69.0 64.0 62.0 60.0 60.0 62.0 67.0 73.0 78.0 82.0 69.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 49.9 71.4 107.1 159.8 181.2 181.0 192.1 195.1 138.9 108.1 58.5 37.4 1,480.5
Source #1: Record highs and lows from BBC Weather,[27] except August and February maximum from Met Office[28][29]
Source #2: All other data from Met Office,[30] except for humidity and snow data which are from NOAA[31]

See also


  1. Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)" (PDF). Greater London Authority.
  2. Lewisham is made up of six wards, Lee Green, Central, Ladywell, Crofton Park, Brockley and Telegraph Hill http://www.ukcensusdata.com/lewisham-e09000023#sthash.RA5pvqsv.dpbs
  3. "Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/717; second entry; Walter Wheler, husbandman, as defendant in a plea of debt". Documents from Medieval and Early Modern England from the National Archives in London. 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  4. "Lewisham", The Environs of London: volume 4: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent. 1796. pp. 514–536. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  5. "Legge, William, first Earl of Dartmouth". Personalia. 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  6. "Lewisham, V1 Site High Street, Marks & Spencer". Lewisham War Memorials. 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  7. "Lewisham council to replace plaque commemorating the lives lost in wartime bombing". News Shopper. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  8. "South East London Police Stations". Laing. 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  9. "1977: The Battle of Lewisham". libcom.org. 10 September 2006. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  10. Lewisham Shopping Centre: Shops Retrieved 12 March 2014
  11. http://www.streetfeastlondon.com/where/model-market
  12. http://mfabowl.com/lewisham/
  13. https://lewishamlostcinemas.wordpress.com/lewishams-lost-cinemas/
  14. http://www.bfi.org.uk/neighbourhoodcinema/deptford-cinema
  15. http://www.gold.ac.uk/facilities/curzon-goldsmiths/
  16. "BBC News - Thousands march to save Lewisham A&E and maternity unit". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-11-24. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  17. Ross Lydall, Health Editor (2013-07-31). "Lewisham hospital campaigners win court battle to save A&E from downgrade - London - News - London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  18. "BBC News - Lewisham Hospital: Appeal Court overrules Jeremy Hunt". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  19. London Borough of Lewisham. "Lewisham Shopping Centre". LB Lewisham. Accessed 30 June 2013
  20. London Borough of Lewisham. "Regenerating Lewisham town centre". LB Lewisham. Accessed 30 June 2013
  21. "'Renaissance' at Loampit Vale". London Borough of Lewisham. London Borough of Lewisham. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  22. "Lewisham Gatway". London Borough of Lewisham. LB Lewsiham. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  23. "Home". Lewisham Gateway. Lewisham Gateway. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  24. Mark, Chandler (26 July 2011). "Long-delayed development at Lewisham's Thurston Road Industrial Estate granted extra time". News Shopper. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  25. "Thurston Rd industrial estate". London Borough of Lewisham. LB Lewisham. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  26. "London, Greater London: Average conditions". BBC Weather Website. BBC Weather. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011.
  27. "August 2003 — Hot spell". Met Office Website. Met Office. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011.
  28. "Monthly temperature records by country". Met Office Website. Met Office. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  29. "Greenwich 1981−2010 averages". Met Office Website. Met Office. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  30. "NOAA". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  31. "Heathrow Climate period: 1981−2010". Met Office Website. Met Office. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
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