Eileen Western was born in 1924 and can remember Chinbrook Meadows before the river was put into concrete
Eileen Western’s memories of Lewisham go back a long way. Born in 1924, by the age of two she was already was a sharp observer of the local scene. “As children and as a family we walked everywhere and that’s how things made a vivid impression on me,” she says. And she listened too. Her grandfather who was born in Lewisham in 1868 was a mine of information about Victorian and Edwardian England.
Eileen remembers Chinbrook Meadows before it was made into a park. Her aunt was the first occupier of a new house in Mayeswood Road and looking out from the garden as a child, Eileen saw cows contentedly grazing in what were then pasture running down to the River Quaggy. The milk would have been sold by one of the local dairies – Clarks or Edwards.
So much of our area was then still open countryside – lanes, hedgerows, meadows and orchards. And through it meandered the River Quaggy, flowing under a rural bridge by Sydenham Cottages in Marvels Lane, and on through continuous farmland almost to Lee Green.
But ‘progress’ was already on the march. The dual carriageway, Westhorne Avenue, (part of the south circular) was constructed. Eileen remembers the cherry trees being planted in the central reservation. And with the new developments such as the Middle Park Estate, little streams flowing into the Quaggy disappeared into culverts.
Memories such as Eileen’s provide fascinating glimpses into the past. QWAG would like to gather up all such recollections of our river from local people – and so make an archive of both historical and social interest. If you can provide written or spoken memories of the River Quaggy, do get in touch.