Grove Park has staked a claim to be the home of classic children's book The Railway Children with the launch of a new 'heritage trail' just in time for the summer holidays.

The claim for former resident Edith Nesbit's book - made world famous by the 1970 film of the same name starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins - has been made by other towns where she lived. 

News Shopper:

However, residents say that there are various clues all pointing to Grove Park. Most significantly, the house in the book is called Three Chimneys and Nesbit’s house in Grove Park was named Three Gables. Both houses, imaginary and real, overlooked the railway line.

The connection is central to a new Heritage Lottery Fund-financed trail and map which highlights sites of interest in Grove Park since the town’s birth in the 1870s.

Chairman of the Grove Park Community Group Stephen Kenny said: "We believe Grove Park is the Home of The Railway Children and it does have a surprisingly rich history. 

News Shopper:

"If this was a small town in America, for example, it would use the Edith Nesbit connection to create a small industry. It would have immense pride in its heritage and turn it into a positive force for jobs and regeneration.
"So we hope that this heritage trail will be enjoyed by local residents and tourists alike and will mark the start of a significant regeneration of Grove Park.
"There are many things we could do to attract visitors and investment including a children’s literary festival or a play of The Railway Children with a real stream train that would bring tourists from all over."

Copies of the map were handed out last week and it is hoped families will take part and learn about a rich history which includes the massing of First World War troops, England's last workhouse and famous residents like WG Grace and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

News Shopper:

Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander, who attended the launch, said: "It was a really lovely event and well-timed with the school summer holidays just starting. 

"All credit must go to Stephen Kenny and John King at the Grove Park Community Group and Coun Liam Curran - they've created something that will enable more people to discover Grove Park's hidden gems, whilst giving a great sense of history too."