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Home > Walks > Region > Greater London > London Deptford Return to Walks

District 45

tooltipDiscovering Britain walk

Travel back in time to London’s Deptford 100 years ago

greater london greater london

Greenwich, with its spectacular riverfront location and grand buildings, is associated with England’s glory days as a maritime nation. But its neighbour Deptford is steeped in just as much history of the sea. It was where ships docked and unloaded their cargos, where foreigners came to learn the art of shipbuilding, where sailors waved farewell to England as they headed out across the empire. 

This walk paints a picture of life in Deptford over a hundred years ago, when it was a working neighbourhood of busy docks and wharves, busy streets and overcrowded houses, poverty and deprivation alongside affluence and comfort. It uses observations recorded by the social reformer, Charles Booth, who did a survey of poverty in London. There are also insights from other writers – diarists, novelists and historians – who describe the Deptford of the Victorian era.


Fast forward one hundred years and find out how some things have changed in Deptford and other things have stayed the same, ranging from the condition of the streets and housing to industry and employment. 


Walk Info


2 ½ miles

A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipA flat route mostly on urban streets

Suitable for:
A completely step-free route

tooltipA completely step-free route

Greater London
Towns & Cities
Historic landscapes People in the landscape Working landscapes
Big anchor, Deptford High Street
St Paul’s churchyard
Getting there:

tooltipNearest station Deptford Bridge (DLR)

tooltipNearest stations Deptford and New Cross

tooltipServed by various bus routes

tooltipOn National Cycle Route 4

London Deptford

Part of Charles Booth’s poverty map of Deptford (1902)
© Charles Booth Online Archive, LSE

London Deptford

Contemporary street map of Deptford
© Charles Booth Online Archive, LSE

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Route map

Select pins on the map to find out more about each point of interest on the walk

Walk kit

Choose between an audio or written guide: download and enjoy!


Written guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this PDF file. You can save it to your computer or open it now. The file is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

Audio guide
A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double-click the icon to download this ZIP file of the audio commentary (mp3 files) and accompanying booklet (PDF) which contains maps and directions. You can save the audio files to your computer then add them to your mp3 device. This will vary for each device but you can use any supplied software (such as iTunes, Windows Media Player) or drag and drop the files. The PDF is designed as a booklet. To print it choose ‘Booklet Printing’ from your printer options.

A flat route mostly on urban streets

tooltipHelp with downloading - Double click to download this GPX file and load it on to your GPS device.

Photo Gallery

Find out what you might see on the walk - click on an image to view full size

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Find out what other people said about this walk

Encountering the rich fusion of past and present through this extremely engaging walk through Deptford's built landscape was an absolute pleasure. Many thanks for a great day out!

Erica Pani, London

A really engaging walk through a part of London often forgotten.

Toby, London

Send your review


Find out more about the walk story and places of interest along the route

External links open in a new window

Caroline’s Miscellany

Blog featuring Deptford

Deptford plans and Drawings

British Library online exhibition of 130 drawings, maps and watercolours of Deptford from the 17th century onwards

Deptford Town Talk

Guide to Deptford town centre

Flying Bombs and Rockets

Details of German missiles that hit Deptford in the Second World War

Ideal Homes

Large archives on the history of South East London, including Deptford

Panda Panda

Things to do in Deptford & New Cross

South Western Electricity Historical Society

Ferranti’s Deptford Power Station

St Paul’s Church

Information on the church’s history, building and Sinfonia

Visit Thames

Find out more about the river

Charles Booth Online Archive

Major archive featuring searchable copies of Booth’s maps

The Deptford Project

Café set in a 1960s railway carriage, local links and arts information

District 45

Sean Patterson's walking tour of Deptford


Lewisham Council team that maintain Deptford green spaces

South London Guide: Deptford

History of the area plus a large collection of period images and maps

St Nicholas’ and St Luke’s Church

Official parish website

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Recommended place to stay - YHA



The RGS-IBG would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing this Discovering Britain walk


Sean Patterson for creating the walk


Jenny Lunn for editing the walk materials


Rory Walsh for taking photographs


Caroline Millar for editing the audio commentary


Nick Stanworth and Alex Ricketts for additional assistance with compiling walk resources


The Library of the London School of Economics & Political Science for kind permission to use maps and notes from the Charles Booth Online Archive (


The British Library for permission to use images from the ‘Deptford plans and drawings’ collection


Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre for access to superb archive photos (


The National Archives for kind permission to reproduce an image from the Illustrated London News


Erica Pani for testing the walk and providing useful feedback


thank you
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