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Slade Green

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The easternmost settlement in London south of the Thames, situated north of Barnes Cray, and not held in high regard by most Bexleyites. This was formerly the manor of Howbury, recorded simply as Hov in Domesday Book, from the Old English ‘hōh’, a heel of land. Slade Green was first mentioned in the 16th century, but the name is probably of earlier origin. A ‘slade’ was ‘a little dell or valley; or a flat piece of low, moist ground’ and it was certainly the latter meaning that applied here. The ruins and moat of the house called Howbury constitute a scheduled ancient monument and a Jacobean tithe barn survives, but in deteriorating condition. Howbury’s surroundings were fields on the edge of Crayford Marshes until industrial development began here in the late 19th century, mainly in the form of brickmaking and barge-building. The bulky Church of St Augustine was built in 1900, and the station opened in the same year, followed by locomotive sheds and carriage sidings. The South East and Chatham Railway Co. built a small estate of railway workers’ homes and a matching public house on Oak Road. The cottages are arranged in groups of four and designed to look at first glance as though each set is a single dwelling. Prolonged railway ownership kept the Oak Road estate relatively unspoilt and it is now a conservation area. The council built flats, bungalows, semi-detached houses and shops in the late 1950s. The system-built flats were demolished around 1990 and replaced by much more pleasant housing. Bellway Homes received permission to build homes off Slade Green Road in the mid 1990s in return for providing the Ray Lamb Way relief road. Barratts built the Watermead Park estate on reclaimed marshland later in the decade.
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Howbury's Jacobean tithe barn

The railway depot is still Slade Green’s major employer and there are controversial proposals for its considerable enlargement, in tandem with a rail-to-road freight distribution link. The former Slade Green secondary school now houses council offices. Slade Green junior and infant schools share neighbouring sites on Slade Green Road. The latest reports by the national educational standards agency Ofsted speak of an ‘area of substantial material hardship’ and state that Czech and Turkish are the most commonly spoken languages after English. By the end of the 20th century the locality was suffering from neglect but the council has recently invested in environmental improvements.

Postcode area: Erith DA8
Station: South Eastern Trains (zone 6)
Further reading: Edward Thomas, Slade Green and the Crayford Marshes, Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, 2001
Websites: www.sladegreen.org (community site)
and www.sladegreen.com (commercial local information site)

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