Between Plumstead to the west and Erith to the east, Abbey Wood takes its name from the nearby Lesnes Abbey and Bostall Woods.
Knee Hill forms the boundary between the modern boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich and the ancient parishes of Plumstead and Erith.
After 1889, it also formed the boundary between the counties of Kent and London.Licence:
The ancient woodland on either side of the road was purchased in two parcels, one in 1877 and the other in 1894, by the Metropolitan Board of Works and its successor, the London County Council, to safeguard it from development.
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The original 19th century Abbey Wood (known locally as The Village
) is the area immediately south of Abbey Wood railway station, built where Knee Hill became Harrow Manorway
and crossed the railway (North Kent Line). This is now the centre where three phases of house building (almost) meet.
The Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) bought two farms on the hillside to the south and between 1900 and 1930 built the Bostall Estate. Once known as Tin Check Island
after the Society’s dividend system, this has streets named for Co-operative themes (Alexander McLeod, Rochdale, Robert Owen, Congress), a school & shops but no pubs.
Between 1956 & 1959 the London County Council built the Abbey Estate on former Royal Arsenal marshland to the north (between the railway and the Southern Outfall sewer bank heading for Crossness). Predominently conventional brick houses with gardens, equipped with shopping centres, schools and open spaces, the estate was used to rehouse people from London’s East End. The main through-road is Eynsham Drive
In the early 1970s the Greater London Council began building the first phase of Thamesmead on more ex-Royal-Arsenal land, north-east of Abbey Wood station. The original railway level crossing was replaced by a flyover.
In 1951 Abbey Wood was the destination of the last of the pre-war trams to run in London.
Abbey Wood railway station serves the suburb. It was opened by the South Eastern Railway on 30 July 1849.
During the 1860s William Morris famously used a decorated wagon to commute between this station and his new home at Red House, Bexleyheath, occasionally with his eccentric and artistic house guests.
The station has been rebuilt twice to cater for the changing nature of the area. The station was to be served by the proposed Greenwich Waterfront Transit, however the project was cancelled due to lack of funds.