The local myth suggests that Welling is so-called because in the time of horse-drawn vehicles it was often said you were “well in” to Kent, or that you had a “well end” to the trip up and down Shooters Hill. During this period Shooters Hill was steep, had a substandard road surface and was an infamous den of bandits. Most of the area Welling down to Blackfen was comprised of woodland. The woods gave exceptional camouflage for outlaws and thieves who would target exposed slow-moving horse-drawn traffic.
However, local historians have latterly decided that the source of the name is most probable from ‘Welwyn’ (signifying ‘place of the spring’), due to the presence of an underground spring found at Welling Corner, or perhaps a manorial reference to the Willing family, who existed in the area in 1301. Ralph Willing owned land in Bexley earlier in the century. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether the area name or the personal name came first.
Welling evolved as a coaching stop on the way to Dover. From 1849 the North Kent Railway let farmers transport perishable food quickly to the London markets. However, this was too early for the emergence of a station to encourage local housebuilding. Welling remained predominantly agricultural until the 1920s, except for some high-class housing on the Belle Grove estate.
Between the first and second world wars, many large and small developers descended on Welling and its peripheral farms, building low-cost houses for the lower middle classes and skilled working classes.
Welling station was reconstructed in expanded form in 1931.
Welling’s shopping centre spreads for about a mile along Bellegrove Road and comprises of approximately 300 outlets.