Caught by the River

Ghosts of the Great North Wood

13th June 2014

Words and pictures by Karen D Tregaskin


3: Grangewood Park

“Finding the last surviving patches of woods became an obsession, scouring Lambeth and Croydon council’s websites for mentions, barrelling up steep footpaths following the crowns of likely trees. On a clear day, I could see a great wooded spur from Biggin Wood. The woods, formerly known as Whitehorse, loom over the clocktower at Thornton Heath, glimpsed from the top deck of the 250 bus as it turns down towards Croydon. Walking into Grangewood Park feels like walking into a wooded fortress, a green battleship with views all the way to the North Downs.”


4: Beulah Spa

“On the way to Grangewood Park, I took a shortcut through ‘The Lawns’, a patch of landscaped meadow sporting a rather bedraggled adventure playground, ringed on three sides by woodlands. By this point, I was starting to recognise the hallmarks of Great North Wood remnants, and wondered if I’d located another patch. But as I took a short detour along an overgrown path just to see where it went, the trees seemed, well… wrong. They were ornamental shade trees, copper beeches and chestnuts, rather than the native oak and hornbeam of the GNW, in a far too orderly parade. At the end of the path, opening out onto Spa Hill, was a clue, on a plaque set into the wall of Tivoli Lodge, a cottage with a set of gates far too fancy for the Harvester next door. This was once the grand entrance to Beulah Spa, one of the great pleasure gardens that grew up around the area’s famous mineral wells.”

Ghosts of the Great North Wood archive

For more illustrations, please visit Karen D Tregaskin’s Flickr / Tumblr/ Twitter