Started January 2010 [by Jack Thurgar]

This is a scrapbook dedicated to the study of London's weeds and the wild places where they grow. Wildcornerz also looks at the languages, cultures and mythologies that develop in these cracks.

What is a Wildcorner?

A Wildcorner is a term referring to a gap that has been left to grow wild in the city. The term encompasses every wild piece of land no matter the size, from large disused sports grounds to small patches of commercial wasteland, to a crack in the pavement. As long as this gap in the man made landscape harbours some kind of weed, then it is considered a Wildcorner.

Wildcorners and Wildcorridors* are dotted all over the capital and vary in content, depending on their location and history. One thing most have in common, is that they are normally restricted in someway from public access or boarded off and hidden from public view altogether. In this blog we focus particularly on the Wildcorners of south east London.

* Wildcorridor; a word used to describe a channel or pathway that runs through an urban landscape, which facilities the propagation and growth of weeds. This includes railway sidings, rivers and canals.

Urban and Suburban Weeds

By the term 'weeds' we are of course referring to the cities wild plants and flowers. But their are also two other weeds that grow in the city.

'Graf' like its botanical relation, has many families and strains. Both of these weeds can often be found together, sharing many qualities including their adaptive nature and unregulated status. Both in many cases, originally entered and populated the city using the railway network.

Another 'weed' that historically flourishes in London is invisible and uses the tops of tower blocks to propagate. Pirate radio like its weed relatives, grows away from the public eye and is constantly adapting to exploit these same gaps across the cities FM radio spectrum, fighting and flourishing in-between the commercial stations.

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Wednesday 8 November 2023

Wild Corners on the Western Borders

Exploring Lewisham's far South Western border, in search of wildness.
Behind some flats in the shadows, a dark path can be seen through scrub and pine trees.
It continues and starts to climb into steps upwards, away from the visibility of the road.

The trail then steadily falls into a small woodland valley; a remaining shred of the ancient Great North Wood. Remains of the Crescent Wood Tunnel start to surface through the ivy.

The Tunnel cuts into the Sydenham hill. The portal is to a long forgotten internal network eventually leaving Lewisham at its furthest south western boundary and entering Crystal Palace. 
The tunnel first opened in 1865 to facilitate a train line which ran from Nunhead to serve the great exhibition. The tunnel was design by the same architect who designed the palace; Joseph Paxton. 
A section of the line was painted in a landscape by Camille Pissarro during the days of steam.
[1954, Pic Subterranea Britannica]

After many years of struggling, the fire that destroyed the Crystal Palace also sealed the fate of the line, as it declined further and finally closed in 1954. 
For several years there was talk of the tunnel being used as part of the Bakerloo line southern extension but the plans were scrapped.

[1980, Pic Disused Stations]

The tunnels were still accessible up to the 1980’s and used by local kids until some younger local children went missing and police searched the tunnels. No children were found but the council sealed them off with heavy gates after this.
[2005 Pic Subterranea Britannica]

On approach to the Tunnel, a familiar shape can be seen through the trees. 

The stag can be seen feeding on hind legs to the left of the entrance.
[2023, Wildcornerz]

Sources: Subterranea Britannica, Disused Stations, Portals of London, 'Sydenham and Forrest Hill Through Time' - Steve Grindlay, History of the Borough of Lewisham - Duncan Leland, Lost Lines of the South - Nigel Welbourn

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