Market Square, Bromley
Bromley shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|- Charing Cross||9.3 mi (15.0 km) NW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Bromley and Chislehurst|
|London Assembly||Bexley and Bromley|
|List of places: UK • England • London|
Bromley is a large suburban district of south east London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Bromley. It was historically a market town, and prior to 1965 was in the county of Kent and formed the administrative centre of the Municipal Borough of Bromley. Its location on a coaching route and the opening of a railway station in 1858 were key to its development and the economic history of Bromley is underpinned by a shift from an agrarian village to commercial and retail hub. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Bromley significantly increased in population and has formed part of Greater London since 1965. It has developed into one of a handful of regionally significant commercial and retail districts outside central London. It is located 9.3 miles (15 km) south east of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. Bromley has a number of affluent areas and is regarded as being one of the richest London Boroughs. There are a number of gated communities within the borough, most noticeably Keston Park (in Keston, Orpington), Farnborough Park (Farnborough, Orpington) and Bickley Park (in the affluent areas of Bickley and Chislehurst)
Bromley is first recorded in a charter of 862 as Bromleag and means 'woodland clearing where broom grows'. It shares this Old English etymology with Great Bromley in Essex, but not with the Bromley in Tower Hamlets.
The history of Bromley is closely connected with the See of Rochester. In AD 862 Ethelbert, the King of Kent, granted land to form the Manor of Bromley. It was held by the Bishops of Rochester until 1845, when Coles Child, a wealthy local merchant and philanthropist, purchased Bromley Palace (now the hub of the Bromley Civic Centre) and became lord of the manor. The town was an important coaching stop on the way to Hastings from London, and the now defunct Royal Bell Hotel (just off Market Square) is referred to in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It was a quiet rural village until the arrival of the railway in 1858 in Shortlands, which led to rapid growth, and outlying suburban districts such as Bickley (which later overflowed into Bromley Common) were developed to accommodate those wishing to live so conveniently close to London.
Bromley, also known as Bromley St Peter and St Paul, formed an ancient parish in the Bromley and Beckenham hundred and the Sutton-at-Hone lathe of Kent. In 1840 it became part of the expanded Metropolitan Police District. The parish adopted the Local Government Act 1858 and a local board was formed in 1867. The board was reconstituted as Bromley Urban District Council in 1894 and the parish became Bromley Urban District. It formed part of the London Traffic Area from 1924 and the London Passenger Transport Area from 1933. In 1934, as part of a county review order, the borough was expanded by taking in 1,894 acres (7.665 km2) from the disbanded Bromley Rural District; an area including parts of the parishes of Farnborough, Hayes, Keston and West Wickham. Bromley became part of the newly-created Greater London in 1965, in the new London Borough of Bromley.
Bromley forms part of the Bromley and Chislehurst Parliament constituency and the London European Parliament constituency. The current MP is Bob Neill. James Cleverly is the London Assembly member for the Bexley and Bromley constituency, in which the town is located.
Bromley's most prominent MP was the former Conservative Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
The historic heart of the town is Market Square, which sits at the junction of the High Street and Church Road.
The shopping area includes many upmarket retailers such as Gap, Oasis, Russell & Bromley and Waterstone's, whilst the large concentration of restaurants includes a branch of the small chain of trendy, Belgian-themed Belgo restaurants.
Bromley is served by two railway stations. Bromley South, the larger and more frequently served of the two, which is on the Chatham mainline. Long distance trains from Victoria to Medway, Thanet and south east Kent have their first stop at Bromley, providing a fast and frequent non-stop service to central London. Bromley South is also a stop on the southeast London suburban rail network, with local services for Orpington and Sevenoaks from Victoria and the central London Thameslink stations calling at the station. Bromley North station is served by a shuttle service to Grove Park, where there are onward connections to London Bridge, Charing Cross & Cannon Street in central London; as well as services to Kent.
Bromley is one of a few London boroughs not served by the London Underground, and, with the exception of its night buses, has no direct bus links to Central London. It does, however, have regular bus services operating from the town centre also serving urban hotspots in and around the borough including Orpington, Lewisham, Penge, Bexleyheath and Croydon. There are also buses in the town centre serving outer areas such as Biggin Hill, Westerham, Chartwell, Knockholt, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. From 2012 services to central London from all stations within the borough of Bromley will become more regular and there are even plans to include Bromley in the new 'South London Line', an equivalent to the London Overground's 'East London Line'. However this has neither been officially confirmed or denied.
Bromley has a number of theatres, the most notable being the Churchill Theatre in the town centre and the Bromley Little Theatre close to Bromley North railway station. The Churchill Theatre was opened on 19 July 1977 by HRH Prince of Wales, and seats 785. It is now run on a contract currently held by the Ambassador Theatre Group and is successful commercially, acting as both a receiving and producing house, with many of its own productions transferring to the West End or touring nationally. An example, being recent tours of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Bromley also has a large Central Library in the same building as the Churchill Theatre with a large book stock, internet and wifi access, reference library and local studies department. Empire Cinemas own a 4-screen site in Bromley, with screen 1 being its biggest with a capacity of 392. Screens 2 and 3 have disabled access.
Sport and LeisureEdit
The town has four Non-League football clubs, two teams play their home games at the Courage Stadium on Hayes Lane Bromley F.C. and Cray Wanderers F.C., the other teams Holmesdale F.C. and Greenwich Borough F.C. play at Oakley Road. Bromley F.C. are in the Conference South, which is the highest level of regionalised football in England, two divisions below the Football League. Cray Wanderers F.C. are currently one division below Bromley F.C. in the Isthmian League Premier Division.
Bromley has numerous schools, and is home to Bromley College of Further & Higher Education. There are two selective schools in nearby Orpington (within the London Borough of Bromley) with an 11+ exam. They are Newstead Wood School for Girls and St Olave's and St Saviour's Grammar School. There is also The Priory School. , a specialist Sports School, which is in Orpington. There are two specialist Media Arts Schools, Hayes School and The Ravensbourne School. It also has the Ravens Wood and Darrick Wood Schools, which have been recognised by OFSTED for excellence (Ravens Wood) and Outstanding (Darrick Wood), being awarded almost top marks in an annual inspection in 2009 and Hayes School in 2011. Also Ravens Wood has been recognised by OFSTED for Outstanding In every criteria. There are many Independent Schools within the London Borough of Bromley, all of which provide exceptional education, however both Eltham College (in the nearby area of Mottingham - within the borough of Bromley and near the London Borough of Lewisham) and Bromley High (situated in the nearby, affluent area of Bickley- also within the borough of Bromley) have been regarded as institutes of educational excellence and have also been recognised by OFTSED for Outstanding in every criteria.
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul stands on Church Road. It was largely destroyed by enemy action on 16 April 1941 and rebuilt in the 1950s incorporating the medieval tower and reusing much of the flint and fragments of the original stone building. The most noteworthy historic building is Bromley College, London Road. The mature and very well maintained central public open spaces are noteworthy: Queen's Gardens, Martin's Hill, Church House Gardens, Library Gardens and College Green.
Areas of ImportanceEdit
Bromley has a number of affluent areas and is regarded as being one of the richest London Boroughs. There are a number of gated communities within the borough, most noticeably Keston Park (in Keston, Orpington), Farnborough Park (Farnborough, Orpington) and Bickley Park (in the affluent areas of Bickley and Chislehurst)
Owen Chadwick was born in Bromley in 1916. He was awarded the Order of Merit, was Vice Chancellor of University of Cambridge, Master of Selwyn Cambridge, Regius Professor of Modern History, Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Chancellor of University of Anglia, President of British Academy, and a Rugby Union International.
H. G. Wells, most famous for his novel The War of the Worlds, was born in Bromley in 1866. There is an 'H.G. Wells Centre' in Masons Hill near the southern end of the High Street which houses the Bromley Labour Club. In August 2005, the wall honouring H.G. Wells in Market Square was repainted. The current wall painting features a rich green background with the same H.G. Wells reference and the evolution sequence of Homo sapiens featured in Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, a former resident of nearby Downe Village.
A Blue Plaque marks H.G. Wells' birthplace in Market Square, on the wall of what is now a Primark store. A marble plaque appears above the door of number 8 South Street, erstwhile home to the Dame school where "Bertie", as he was called as a child, learned to read and write. H.G. Wells fetaured Bromley in two of his novels: War in the Air (which refers to Bromley as Bunhill) and The New Maciavelli (in which Bromley is referred to as Bromstead).
Other famous people who lived in Bromley include Alex Clare, Charles Darwin, David Bowie, Richmal Crompton, Pixie Lott, Starsmith, Christopher Tennant, Peter Frampton, Aleister Crowley, Siouxsie Sioux, Gary Rhodes, Billy Idol, Billy Jenkins, cricketer Jill Cruwys, the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, the former Clash drummer Topper Headon, historian Richard Jefferis, illustrator Charles Keeping, Formula 1 test driver Gary Paffett, children's writer Andrew Murray, actor Michael York who attended Bromley Grammar School for Boys, clarinetist Chris Craker, Don Perrin, Canadian author who attended Burnt Ash School in Bromley, and Sir Thomas James Harper, an officer decorated in the Crimean war. In the 20th century, the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul produced, in quick succession, three Church of England Bishops: Henry David Halsey – Bishop of Carlisle, Philip Goodrich – Bishop of Worcester, David Bartleet – Bishop of Tonbridge. Steve Barnes, Educator and Mathematician, Sculptor Nicholas Cornwell and Maisy James the Big Brother 12 housemate. Some time before 1881 the engineer and industrialist Richard Porter moved to Beckenham where he remained until his death in 1913.
West Ham United F.C. midfielder Gary O'Neil, former Millwall FC and current Everton FC midfielder Tim Cahill and Reading FC (previously Blackburn Rovers) striker Jason Roberts lived in Bromley, English darts player Les Capewell was born in Bromley, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, Leicester City F.C. defender John Pantsil. Cricketer Matthew Featherstone was born in Bromley and played List A cricket for the Kent Cricket Board. He is the current captain of the Brazil national cricket team. Sir William Pitt former prime minister.
Scottish education secretary Michael Russell MSP was born and spent the early years of his life in Bromley.
Popular culture Edit
In the famous Monty Python Spam sketch Bromley was stated to be the location of the fictional Green Midget Café, where every item on the menu was composed of spam in varying degrees. In another Monty Python sketch it was stated that all seven continents are visible from the top of the Kentish Times building in Bromley.
The Mall in Bromley appeared on the cover of the 1982 album Sounds Like Bromley by Bromley born Billy Jenkins. The picture is of the rear of what is now Poundland (Bromley Toy Fayre and Bramber Womenswear at the time) to the right and the car park above Argos (J Sainsbury at the time)
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- ^ Beccehamians RFC
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- ^ "Peter Kropotkin". Bromley Council. http://www.bromley.gov.uk/directory_record/5032/prince_pyotr_peter_alekseyevich_kropotkin_1842-1921.
- ^ "Michael York". When We Were Kids. http://www.wwwk.co.uk/people/actors/profiles/xyz/york-michael.htm.
- ^ "Chris Addison". London: The Guardian. 26 April 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/26/middle-class-stress-chris-addison.
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