The Ladywell Society has made the following submission to the Local Government Boundaries Commission which is reviewing ward boundaries in Lewisham. Ladywell-Live welcomes other contributions on the future of the Ladywell ward.
Ladywell is a robust and thriving community that traces its history back to the 15th century when it was famous for its well (the Lady Well) and it’s mineral spring or spa where people came to take the waters for sore eyes.
The village (as described by famous Lewisham historian Leland Duncan) was centred on Ladywell Road and Vicar’s Hill with its Post Office, bakers and many other local shops and businesses. Now, present day Ladywell has grown and the high street (Ladywell Road) has a real buzz about it with a lively café culture and evening dining.
The population has expanded as people flock to the area for its heritage, parks and excellent schools. As the population has grown so has the area now regarded as Ladywell. Certainly, Ladywell Track, Ladywell Fields, the Ladywell (Day) Centre, Ladywell House, the original Ladywell Baths (aka the Playtower) and the later Ladywell Leisure Centre (now Place Ladywell) can all be regarded as Ladywell.
Families choose to send their children to Ladywell’s own local primary school, Gordonbrock, and choose to send girls to our own secondary school, Prendergast on Hilly Fields. Many families move to Ladywell for these schools.
Ladywell Station (a listed building and mentioned in Bradshaw’s Railway Guide) is always busy and packed in the mornings and evenings such that improvements to increase capacity are in the pipeline. Ladywell is the station for the large and expanding Lewisham Hospital. Indeed, if you stop for coffee, as many do, in “Le Delice” on the corner of Ladywell Road and Railway Terrace, looking out over the centre of Ladywell you see a constant flow of people making their way to and from the station or on their way to Ladywell Fields, the local Ladywell shops and some onto other centres in the borough.
In addition to our rail services there is an extensive and well used bus network running through Ladywell and people often visit en-route to their work or other destinations.
Businesses flock to Ladywell. The shops thrive and are well supported by local people. No declining high street with vacant shops in Ladywell! There have been many new businesses come and operate very successfully in Ladywell Road. Indeed, local people were the impetus for the design and implementation of the successful revamped streetscape.
Ladywell’s parks have enjoyed a renaissance with active user groups such as the Friends of Hilly Fields and the Ladywell Fields Park User Group. Ladywell Fields is always well used with its Good Hope Café and families taking picnics and paddling in the river which is now diverted along a winding route through the family friendly park. The outside gym, tennis courts, bowls, orchard, skate board facility, childrens’ play areas and wildlife are all popular features. At the other side of Ladywell is Hilly Fields with its popular Pistachios Café, bowls club, tennis, cricket, Forest School, childrens’ play areas, wildlife area and stone circle; it is always full of people. All these facilities ensure that both parks attract all age groups.
It is encouraging to see so many people walking to the many and varied amenities within Ladywell.
Ladywell boasts many active and well supported local organisations including the Ladywell Society, the Ladywell Traders Association and the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries. Local events include the “Folk Ladywell” folk festival, Food n’ Fun in Ladywell Fields, and regular community barn dances. These are inclusive events attracting people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
If you ask local people where they live, they won’t say “Lewisham” (the borough) or “Brockley” they say “Ladywell”.
The glaring exclusion in the council’s proposals of the area including Cliffview Road, Fossil Road, Shell Road and parts of Embleton, Ermine and Algernon Road amongst others in the north east of the ward is very much opposed by the Society. Residents in these streets very much identify with Ladywell.
The Ladywell Society does not favour splitting up this ward. Nor does it recommend combining with Brockley to form a new ward as both have distinctive identities and characteristics. The people of Ladywell are engaged, energised and committed to their community as evidenced by the ward having the largest voter turnout in the borough in the last elections in 2018! This community engagement and enthusiasm is to be encouraged rather than decimated!
The society recommends that Ladywell Ward should be based on the current boundaries and expanded to include the whole area that is now regarded as Ladywell by local people. This should include areas, shops and buildings that incorporate “Ladywell” in their name and encompass the original Lewisham Village around St. Mary’s church that can date its history back well over 1,000 years.
Our full suggestion for a new ward boundary is shown on the accompanying map with the changes marked in green ink. These include using Brockley Road in the west as a natural boundary, and extending to the east of Lewisham High Street to include what is currently Place Ladywell, but which will soon be developed as housing. This will compensate for the loss of electorate in the west.