History of Barnehurst

The story of Barnehurst begins in 1745, when Miles Barne the son of a wealthy London merchant married Elizabeth Elwick (died 1747) the only child of Nathaniel Elwick of May Place in Crayford, on whose death in 1750 Miles Barne inherited May Place and its large estate. The family retained May Place and the remaining estate until 1938, when it was sold to Crayford UDC for £24,500.

The name Barnehurst, a combination of ’Barne’ the landowner and ’Hurst’ Saxon word for woodland, came into being when a name was required for a station being built in Conduit Wood, Crayford, by the Bexley Heath Railway Company on their new railway, opened in 1895, where it crossed the May Place Estate owned by Col Frederick Barne. At that time the area we know as Barnehurst was part of the Parish of Crayford, and consisted of a mix of farmland and market gardens, with apple, plum and cherry orchards,together with wood and parkland belonging to the estates of May Place, Martens Grove and Oakwood. The small population was concentrated along and to the south of Mayplace Road.

The opening of the railway failed to attract the large scale house developers, and passenger numbers were small only boosted at weekends by golfers travelling to the new Barnehurst Golf Course opened in 1903. Its club house the old mansion of May Place was destroyed by fire in 1959.The electrification of the Bexleyheath Line in 1926 signalled the start of the large housing developments of the 1920s and 30s.

The first builder J W Ellingham chose the prime site next to the station on which to build the ’Barnehurst Estate’ of 578 semi-detached houses selling for £600 each. Building started along Barnehurst Road (previously called Hills and Holes Road) in 1926. The Midfield Parade of shops followed in 1928 and the estate was completed in the early 1930s. The builders W H Wedlock Ltd played a major role in the development of Barnehurst. In 1926 W H Wedlock Ltd started building the ’Mayplace Farm’ estate based on Oakwood Drive. Their brochure offered a comprehensive range of house and bungalow designs at prices from  £495 to  £850. Their next development of Lyndhurst Road, Brantwood Road and Risedale Road started in 1929. Their roads on this and later estates are easily identified, being named after Lake District locations.

By 1932 development south of the railway was well advanced and the developers had moved to the more difficult terrain north of the railway. W H Wedlock Ltd developed the ’Mayplace Estate’ between Erith Road and Barnehurst Avenue. The only new Public House, the Red Barn, was built by Arnolds of Chelmsford in 1936. To the east of Barnehurst Avenue, New Ideal Homesteads Ltd started work on their ’Barnehurst Park Estate’. It was not until after the war that lands of the Normandy and Venners farms were developed.

The last major development was the building of the Woolwich Building Society Headquarters complex, opened by Princess Anne in 1989, on land to the north of Watling Street.