QWAG’s last walk of the year visited the lower Ravensbourne.
The Domesday Book (1086) records 11 corn mills along the River Ravensbourne. For the next 800 years the river powered the production of flour – and at times higher value goods such as leather, glassware, armour and silk. Although most – but not all – of the physical traces of the mills have gone, their sites and functions are remembered in names such as Silk Mills Path and Lewisham’s impressive new open space, Cornmill Gardens.
Making the most of a bright autumnal day, QWAG members and their guests walked from Lewisham town centre to Deptford High Street, learning along the way how the role of the river, and the way it has been perceived, have changed over time.
Photos from the walk
The first stop is the stretch of the Ravensbourne behind Riverdale House on Molesworth Street. The river was channelised between Ladywell and Deptford as part of a flood prevention scheme in the 1960s.
The Riverdale Mill building, which dates from about 1830 survived the closure of the mill in 1908 and is now usewd as a staff restaurant. Behind the trees a fragment of the mill pond now serves as an ornamental pond.
Lewisham Bridge Mill was closed in 1920 and demolished in 1934. It stood about 100 metres south of Loampit Vale on the defunct Mill Road, which ran through this railway arch. Cornmill Gardens now occupies the site.
Silk Mills Path runs through Tesco’s car park, the lower section of which was once part of the huge mill pond serving Lewisham Mill. The supermarket building itself is built on the site of the Anchor Brewery.
The river in Brookmill Park was naturalised in the late 1990s when the DLR was extended to Lewisham. The long-gone mill here once pumped water to local houses. This enterprise evolved into the Kent Water Works, sited by the river.
Mumford’s Mill stands guard over Deptford Creek. This mill, closed in 1968, was the last to cease operation on the Ravensbourne. The building has since found a new role as a residential apartment block.
The magnificent St Paul’s church, situated off Deptford High Street, was a worthy end point for the walk, although most of the party carried on afterwards to another local landmark, the award winning Dog & Bell pub.