In Saxon times, Lewisham began its humble beginnings as Oleofsa’s village, and was described as a rural settlement on the banks of the Ravensbourne River, that could only to be reached by a long coach ride. In 1828 the Riverdale Mill was built and is the only one of the Ravensbourne mills still surviving today and in 1897 the Lewisham Clock tower was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Lewisham’s rich history has fed into the vibrant diverse town centre that it is today. The area is bordered by Catford, Deptford, Greenwich, and Hither Green. It is a busy shopping district with a good mix of chain and independent stores as well as having one of the biggest shopping centres in South East London.
As well as the more traditional shopping district, the Lewisham Street Market started in 1906. Open seven days a week with the Monday to Saturday market selling mainly fruit, vegetables, fresh cut flowers and a small range of non-perishable goods, the Sunday market is a general market selling non-perishable goods with up to 60 stalls. Devastated by a flying bomb in 1944, the High Street in the town centre was pedestrianized, allowing a traffic-free street market and an open space.
The first railway through Lewisham, the North Kent Line to Dartford, opened in 1849 and the present Lewisham station opened in 1857. The most recent completion is the ever popular Docklands Light Railway servicing Canary Wharf, Stratford, and beyond, opening the area up to a new generation of City professionals.
Currently undergoing perhaps the largest regeneration of any Borough in the country, Lewisham has been transformed by the removal of the roundabout opposite Lewisham's railway and DLR stations. This will be replaced by a new road layout, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, leisure facilities and up to 800 homes.
At the southern end of Loampit Vale, major development by Barratt Homes under the name 'Renaissance' includes eight buildings ranging in height from 5 to 24 storeys.
Glass Mill leisure centre which incorporates an eight-lane, 25 metre swimming pool, a teaching pool, a gym, a café and crèche, a health spa and an indoor climbing wall opened June 2013, and won the 'Best Built Project – Community Scale' category of the 2012/13 London Planning Awards.