Belmont Open Space (first described in the Chislehurst & Sidcup Urban District Council Open Air Recreational Amenities annual report 1951) is shrouded in history. Whilst we have heard some people refer to it as Edgebury Fields, we at FOBOS think it is important to remember the history of our space and call it by its proper name. The name of a place is often the only link left with the history and evolution of the area.
Before the roads and houses that now dominate the landscape were built, the area was known as the Belmont Park Estate. The fields and woodlands where so many of us now roam and walk our dogs is the last piece of that estate.
There was only one road, Belmont Lane, before which it was a private thoroughfare known as Kemnal Lane. This was rural farmland bordering Green Lane and Kemnal; and before the arrival of the A20, extended as far as the then Clay Farm and the Grange, off Footscray Rd.
In Green Lane, roughly where Montbelle Rd now stands, (the Bell Mont), was the entrance to Belmont Park Farm. Further down, where the busy ‘Five Ways’ junction at the A20 is, was Belmont Park Golf Course. Indeed New Eltham was at one time known as Lower Belmont!
Part of the Belmont farm was leased to Adolphus Slade, one time resident of Kemnal Manor. This extended over part of the land that became Edgebury Estate. Slades Drive was named after him. He also built some cottages near the brow of Green Lane known as Slades Cottages, on the site where Gerrards Close is today.
In Belmont Lane stood Belmont House; the occupiers for many years being Fanny and Ada Slade, daughters of the aforementioned. The site is now covered by Laneside and adjacent houses.
When Belmont Lane and adjacent land were being developed in the 1930’s, the sales brochure described the area as the Belmont Park Estate development – hence the shops provided for the local people was named Belmont Parade.
When Edgebury Estate was being planned in the late 1940’s, the name Belmont Estate was originally proposed, but this was objected to as the name was still, at that time, associated with the Belmont Estate mentioned above, and it was thought it would cause confusion.
Belmont Open Space as we know it today consists of approximately 5.5 acres of open-park and woodland. It is divided by a tributary of the river Shuttle, traversed via two foot bridges and linked by a rough path creating a short ‘round robin’ walk.
On the north side, bounded by Imperial Way, is a children’s playground consisting of swings, slide and roundabout. To the south it is bounded by Old Belmont Lane, which leads to Kemnal through the woods and grazing land. At the junction with Kemnal Road, the walker has three options; left towards the riding stables; straight on towards Beaverwood and Scadbury, and right towards the Common and an alley leading to Belmont Parade. Adjacent is the Belmont Lane Allotments
This ‘Space’ is part of the last vestige of the old Belmont Park farm/estate, and with access to rural walks, maintains a rural setting worth discovering.