Above: The abutment of the old railway bridge crossing Evelyn Street.
“Evelyn Street Railway Bridge”
Evelyn Street (named after John Evelyn, the 17th century diarist), runs SE as the continuation of Lower Road. As a London Street it is singularly unimpressive and you would be forgiven if you did not notice anything of particular interest as you drove through it by car or travelled through on a bus.
Passing under it, until the 1970s, was the Grand Surrey Canal which was later filled in. There is a hump in Evelyn Street where the old bridge carried the road over that canal and the bridge is still in evidence today.
In 2014 a new housing development was erected by the side of Evelyn Street – known as Greenland Place. Its western end is beside Evelyn Street but its eastern side extends to the old Greenland Dock – hence the name of the new housing estate.
For many years there has been what looks like a brick wall beside Evelyn Street, immediately north of the junction with Rainsborough Avenue (shown at the picture at the top). The brick wall is actually the remains of an abutment that supported a railway bridge carrying the Deptford Wharf Branch of a railway line connecting with those at New Cross and New Cross Gate stations. The old railway line ran on an embankment which surprisingly is also still there – in spite of the new development (on right of the top picture).
The abutment and the remaining part of the embankment are the only evidence for the ‘Deptford Wharf Branch’ line which carried goods trains to the edge of the small docks beside the River Thames.
Above: View looking west of Deptford Branch Line and its many sidings near the Thames (Copyright Britain from Above).
This article was prompted by finding an aerial view of the railway sidings on the ‘Britain from Above’ Website. In case you are wondering, that Website is happy for their pictures to be reproduced in a blog provided their copyright is acknowledged.
The fascinating view is from a point above the Thames looking almost due west. On the far right (towards the bottom of the view) is part of South Dock. The road with two distinct bends in it (also towards the right) is Plough Way before it was realigned. The many sidings (at the bottom left) are seen extending to the side of the Thames. Two docks which both had access from the Thames are seen: Deadman’s Dock (some of which is seen along the bottom of the view) and Deptford Dock (seen bottom leftt of the view with four large travelling cranes along one edge).
There are seemingly endless trucks on the sidings and two or three goods trains on the branch line. It has has several tracks crossing Grove Street which is the thoroughfare running across the view nearest to the camera (just above Deptford Dock). To accommodate the many sidings, a very long pair of gates was constructed to control traffic using the unusually wide level-crossing.
Towards the top of the view is a large shed with a roof in three parallel sections. Running beside it (on its far side) is the old Grand Surrey Canal (which was filled in during the 1970s). The line at the top of the view is where it crossed Evelyn Street which is just out of shot.
Above: A modern outline street map showing where Deptford Wharf Branch Line used to run (in BLACK). The site of the railway bridge crossing Evelyn Street is circled (in YELLOW). The Surrey Canal has been superimposed on the map and also the two small inlets beside the Thames – Deadman’s Dock and Deptford Dock. The canal and the two docks are now filled in.
A quiet stroll beside the Thames today presents an altogether different scene. Deadman’s Dock and Deptford Dock were both filled in some time in the 1980s. All the railway lines and the many sidings were removed about the same time and most of the land became used for housing in the late 1980s under plans by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC).
I can almost hear the elderly residents of Deptford saying ‘It wasn’t like that in my day’ and they would be right. This part of Deptford has seen enormous change during the last 50 years.