Published: 14/01/2019Sydenham is transforming. Modern developments have sprung up, Cobb’s Corner is reshaped and Nandos has moved in. With its lengthy high street, excellent train links and varied range of housing stock, the area has an eclectic demographic that lend Sydenham its unique flavour. Ever-so-lovely Upper Sydenham blends into cutesy Kirkdale, which flows down into the high street, winding up at Lower Sydenham with its useful retail park.
Sydders has something for everyone, with prices a lower than you’ll find in neighbouring Forest Hill. Housing stock is wonderfully varied and first-time buyers can pick up an ex local, Victorian conversion, 1930s maisonette or a shiny new build. There are realms of Victorian, Edwardian and 1930s homes, an interesting 1960s development by Norman Starrett, large 1970s townhouses and leafy wide avenues with mock Tudor detacheds heading towards Crystal Palace Park. The cluster of fetching Edwardian homes just off the high street is the Thorpes Estate and a deserved conservation area. Things become quite grand in Upper Sydenham, around Mayow Park and towards Sydenham Woods. If you look hard enough you can uncover hidden secrets like Mount Gardens, Peckarmans Wood or Lammas Green.
What kind of high street?
Already bustling with a good variety of shops, Sydenham already has a Sainsbury’s Local, Boots, Superdrug, Post Office, Lidl, fishmonger/butcher, health food shop, bookshop, pet shop and a couple of great pubs. Eat at Hibegon (a fantastic Japanese), 161 Kirkdale (for charcuterie and fine wine), Cobbs Corner Café, Brown and Green (at Mayow Park) or Gurkha (for traditional Nepalese).
Independent shops include Kirkdale Bookshop, Mabel’s Five and Dime Vintage Shop, Well Being Health Foods, Cherry and Ice, Ignition Brewery and Taproom (this social enterprise trains and employs staff with learning disabilities) or Ziggy Coffee. The retail park at Bell Green has a huge Sainsbury’s, Pets at Home, Curry’s and B&Q (Aldi will be opening there too).
Sydenham's extra appeal
Sydenham Arts Festival draws between 10,000-15,000 visitors every year with its rich programme of events. To get a flavour of the area, check out The Sydenham Society, SE26 Forum or Sydenham Town Forum. Uniquely, Sydenham has its own community radio station and a monthly pop-up film club. Sydenham Hill Woods offers dense English woodland for Sunday strolls that can round-off at the rather nice pub up there.
At Wells Park, the New Generation Youth Centre offers younger residents recording studios, dance and performance spaces, a climbing wall, training kitchen and café, a health clinic, teaching spaces and an IT suite. This community building was short-listed for the New London Awards 2013 for Public Building of the Year. Mayow Park, the oldest municipal park in the borough, has (the excellent) Brown and Green café, children’s play areas, sports facilities and truly magical community gardens, used in our photo accompanying this post, called Grow Mayow.