Site History

Site History

The area of Kidbrooke is in southeast London, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Kidbrooke takes its name from the Kyd Brook, a watercourse which runs from Orpington to Lewisham, where it becomes part of the RIver Quaggy. It is also a tributary to the RIver Ravensbourne.

The Kidbrooke allotments first came into existence about 30 years ago, prior to which they had during the second world war been known as RAF Kidbrooke, where 901 Squadron were stationed. 901 Squadron were a barrage balloon squadron and a barrage balloon was flown above the area up until 1944 to deter low flying enemy aircraft. It is also believed that the area, including where the existing Thomas Tallis School is situated was also an airfield for flying gliders after the Second World War.

Historian, David Wise from Eltham, provided the below historical information on the area….

The RAF presence at Kidbrooke started with the establishment of the Royal Flying Corps Stores Depot there in June 1917. It was retained between the wars and expanded. The RFC Became the RAF on 1/1/18. Kidbrooke was renamed No 1 Stores Depot 1/3/20, No 1 Equipment Depot on 2/2/37 and No 1 Maintenance Unit in 9/4/38. Its stores function was officially disbanded as a unit in its own right on 15/2/47 but continued as a satellite managed from elsewhere, and it also housed some special units until early 1960’s.

It grew so there were sites both sides of the railway and both east and west of Kidbrooke station. Most of it has been redeveloped, but some warehouses NE of the station are in use as a store for Greenwich Maritime Museum, accessed from Nelson Mandela Road.

The site NW of the station post-war became the RAF Movements School.

1956-1961 training RAF cargo-handling staff, and I remember the fuselage of a Hastings transport aircraft there Jan 1959 to mid 1961 which was clearly visible from passing trains. It also housed RAF No 4 Motor Transport Squadron until 1964. This site was later partly used for Thomas Tallis school, and partly as a Post Office Vehicle Depot then currently for warehousing. It had also housed the RAF Linguistics School at some point (during or after WW-2?) and a commemorative plaque was unveiled at Thomas Tallis School in 2008.

The main stores depot south of the railway had a railway siding accessed through a gate west of Kidbrooke station with its own shunter, diesel post-war but originally steam – two steam locos which are known to have worked here are still in existence, one in a museum in Leeds and one active on the Bluebell Railway. There was also a 2 ft narrow-gauge railway within the site, including a bridge under Kidbrooke Park Road, subsequently used as a roadway when the site was redeveloped as the Ferrier estate. A 1917-vintage narrow-gauge tank engine named Kidbrooke is in service on the Yaxham Light Railway in Norfolk.

Not sure which of the buildings they used, but during WW-2 Kidbrooke also housed a variety of units apart from its stores function. These included No 1 Balloon Depot which was parent to several Balloon squadrons numbered upwards from 901 operating barrage balloons from sites in and around London; also No 2 Installation Unit, which was responsible for constructing and repairing the chain home radar station masts at many locations round the coast.

In WW-2, No 141 Gliding School for the Air Training Corps was on a different site altogether. It used the patch of ground, part of which survives as the Dursley Road ILEA Playing Fields. It was then much bigger, bordered by Broad Walk to the South, Woolacombe Road to the West, Wricklemarsh Road to the North, and the Western wall of Brook Hospital to the East. Since the war, parts of the site have been built on, creating Dursley Road, Holburne Road and the associated side-roads south of Wricklemarsh Road, plus Corelli Road and Kidbrooke School. The gliding school was in operation October 1942 to December 1945.

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