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Downham is named after Lord Downham. He was chairman of the London Council County and Minister of Information. Before 1920, this area was mostly farmland. There were no houses. Only a shooting range stood here. In an effort to reduce the overcrowding of the nearby zones, the Downham Estate was built between 1924 and 1930. King George V attended the opening ceremony of the first completed residential building. Residents from crowded areas were relocated here. Former Rotherhithe residents were among the first to move here. Those living in the neighboring district of Bromley weren’t pleased with the massive influx of new residents so they had a seven feet high wall built to prevent Downham residents from accessing Bromley town center via Alexandra Crescent, a private street. The wall stood for almost 25 years. It was eventually demolished in 1950 after World War II to make way for the fire engines.
In 1930, Downham was considered a garden city. It had many green areas and low population density. The first local pub and cinema opened in 1930. A health clinic followed in 1932. The health clinic can be found on Churchdown Road. One year later, Good Shepherd School was established on Moorside Road. Since 1936, residents can enjoy the Beckenham Place Park Recreation Area. More facilities such as a swimming pool and library opened in 1937.
Downham Way is the main road of this BR1 area. The town center is usually bursting with activity as one can find many stores and restaurants here. Car parts shop, locksmith, and fishing tackle store can be found here. Downham Fields park is also known as Durham Hill. The local Health and Leisure Center was built in 2007 within its grounds. The center features a swimming pool, doctor’s office, gym, and library. This South East London district does not have a railway or tube station. The closest are Beckenham Hill and Grove Park.