London Borough of Greenwich
Plumstead Common is bounded by Old Mill Road, Plumstead Common Road, St Margarets Terrace, Heavitree Road, and the Slade.
Winns Common is bounded by Lakedale Road, Kings Highway and Wickham Lane. It is crossed by Winns Common Road.
Map Ref: TQ 451 778
Site of Metropolitan Importance for wildlife
The two commons form one large continuous open space, divided only by roads. Much of the area is covered by playing fields. There is also a paddling pool and children’s play area. A steep sided valley at the Slade, accessible by paths and steps, has wooded areas, long grass and scrub and contains a system of ponds.
Towards the western end of the common lies Plumstead Common Nature Reserve, which can be found to the rear of Blendon Terrace.
The mound on Winns Common is a tumulus (burial mound) dating from the Bronze Age (2200 – 700 BC). At some stage in the past is was opened, and no one knows what remains or artefacts were found in it. During the 19th century the army used Winns Common barrow as a practice area and the cavalry rode over it or shot into it. There were prefab houses on Winns Common and a scrap yard. The scrap yard was filled in and covered over some time ago.
The fragments of rock (known locally as the “pudding stones”), opposite the adventure playground are the remains of a headland, on cliffs flanking an arm of the sea, then the unbanked river Thames. They are a rock called conglomerate: made from pebbles accumulated along the sea shores and in rivers and then compressed together to make rock.
Compare the Victorian photograph with how they look today.
“Plumstede” appears in Domesday Book (1086) and means ‘place where the plums grow’.
The word Slade means a valley or ravine. This was formed at the end of the last Ice Age when the melting glaciers formed rivers which rushed down and eroded the soft soil and rock.
At the start of the 19th century Plumstead was a farming village with a population of 1000. The roads were still quiet country lanes.
With the coming of the railway and the Woolwich Arsenal, by the 1860s there were 3000 inhabitants and a huge demand for housing. The owners of the common (Queens College, Oxford) started selling off tracts of the land to property speculators for building and also gave the army permission to use the common for exercises with horses and gun carriages.
This enraged the local people who protested that they had the right to graze their livestock on the land, dig sand and gravel, cut turf and fern and to use it for recreation and sport.
On 1st July 1876, the Irish activist John de Morgan of the Commons Protection League led a demonstration to tear down illegally erected fences on the common and demonstrate the opposition to what the landowners were doing. Overnight the fences were replaced, so next day rioting ensued.
As a result, the Local Authority of the time bought the Common for £9000, and in 1878 the Plumstead Common Act was passed, ensuring that one hundred acres of land remained as public open space for ever.
The 18th Century tower behind the Old Mill Pub is all that remains of the Plumstead Windmill. By 1848 it had stopped grinding wheat and began selling
Thanks to Greenwich Heritage Centre for the use of the historic photo’s.
The Green Chain walk comes onto Winn’s Common from the east from Wickham Lane, and from the west onto Plumstead Common from Warwick Terrace/Old Mill Road.
The common is an open site, you can get onto it from all the surrounding roads.
Train: nearest station Plumstead ½ - ¾ mile away
Bus: 51 (The Slade), 53 (Plumstead Common Road); 291 (Garland Road);
But consult Transport for London’s Journey Planner
Children’s play equipment: Yes - Also - outdoor fitness trail and an adventure
playground (opening times apply).
Other - e.g. pond dipping area? Info centre? good viewpoint?: Pond
viewing area at the Slade ponds, though the ponds are not open to the public
because of health and safety concerns over the rat population there.
Steep sided grassy valley
Short grass: Yes
Long grass: Yes
Lowland heathland: No
Clumps of trees: Yes
Address: Parks and Open Spaces, Greenwich Council, Shooters Hill Depot,
Shooters Hill, London SE 18 4LX
For visits (including visiting the animal park) and information:
John Beckham, Ranger Service
Telephone: 020 8319 4523
For general outreach:
Jonathan Bangs, Parks Outreach Officer
Telephone: 020 8856 2232
For technical info:
Jeremy Shearmur, Parks Technical Officer
Telephone: 020 8856 2232
Plumstead Common Environment Group:
Mr Nick Day
Address: 186 Lakedale Road, London, SE18 1PU
“Our Common Story” - Full colour book, telling the story of Plumstead Common
(£10 + p&p). Buy from:
Address: Abalone, Plumstead Common Rd, SE18