2019 Christmas Lights In Bromley

This year’s Christmas Lights in Bromley: the Christmas Tree in Market Square

This year, some of our heritage buildings have been flood lit on High Street, and it is well worth taking a trip in to look around them. The installation is by BID/Your Bromley, and Workmen have been busy installing the lights, by cherry picker, for months (your author had wondered why so many security lights were suddenly needed…) Here’s some of the history behind the buildings that are beautifully lit up this year:

(1) Primark, formerly Medhursts in Market Square:

Christmas flood lights on Primark, formerly the Emporium of Fred Medhurst

Medhurst’s was a drapery shop, first occupying numbers 49 and 50 in the High Street, which was started in 1879 by Fred Medhurst. The business was so successful that successive adjoining shops were bought as they became vacant, from 1879 onwards, expanding the business until it took up a large part of the west side of the High Street.

Fred Medhurst owned a row of shops on the High Street

Medhurst’s then had this fine Art Deco /classical style department store built, in 1930, and traded as a family-owned business until 1969, when it became Allders, and then Primark.

Medhursts was a household name in Bromley by the 1930s, with some of the staff, milliners and dressmakers living on the premises. The store front has changed little to this day, and the old name is still just visible, carved high up on the stonework. Please see our post (including an old poster for Medhursts) here.

(2) 160 High Street – Victoria Chambers

Victoria Chambers, now an annex to Primark

This annex for Primark (next to the former Mothercare) occupies Victoria Chambers, a fine building from the 1890s in the Arts & Crafts style with its characteristic Dutch influence. It has the blue plaque for HG Well’s (the famous early Sci-Fi author) birthplace. With the building of a new section of road called the ‘New Cut’ in 1832, a sharp bend in the High Street was removed. The buildings constructed following this work included No. 47 (old numbering!) which became the china, glass and pottery emporium of Joseph Wells.  There survives a photograph of one of these buildings before they were demolished, and it was built on a steep slope, which explains why HG Wells describes the kitchen, under the shop floor, as being lit by a light in the pavement whilst facing out onto the yard at the other side. See more at our post here.

(3) The Site of The White Hart Inn

White Hart Slip commemorates the lost Inn

This ugly brutalist space-wasting building was developed by demolishing one of the most historic buildings in our High Street, the White Hart Inn. See a little about the long history of this inn, in our post here.

An ugly brutalist building replaced the historic Inn

The history of the Inn on this site goes back to the Medieval era, with records of it being the centre of community life from Georgian times on-wards. In this street scene, most of the buildings date from the 1830s upgrade:

street scene from 1900s with hostelry on one side and hackney carraige
Photograph of the White Hart and the High Street from the 1900s

(4) Marks and Spencers

Lighting up the bow windows, in the Queen Anne style of the Arts and Crafts Movement
4-bow-window shop
Graceful bay windows of Marks and Spencers

When Marks and Spencers took over this attractive Queen-Anne-style bow windowed shop, they doubled the frontage to 8 bow-windows. Fine Arts and Crafts movement building, see our post and a pre-extension 1930s photo here.

Before this, they had the traditional Marks and Spencers Penny Bazaar in Market Square.

(5) Decorations inside the Glades

The Christmas decorations inside the Glades are more dramatic:

  • it’s worth peeping up inside the cone-shaped Christmas Trees to see the mini-light show inside
  • having your photo taken with your presents in the bauble-seat
  • take a pic of your princess in the giant arm chair
  • Santa’s Express going through one of the giant Christmas trees in the large central atrium
  • Sit in the basket seat of the red balloon
  • pose for a photo in-front of the giant ‘Merry Christmas’ sign, to use for next-year’s personalised Christmas cards!

A little map, with a route marked, around the Christmas lights in Bromley:

street map with possible route marked on it
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Write and Stop This Tower Block – we want our neo-Georgian shop to stay

Please write an objection to S2 Developments high rise, which they are going to demolish 66-70 high street to build at https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=Q0UFGIBTHXZ00&activeTab=summary&fbclid=IwAR3LcximyjkvxvbNOUgGjQG5EP9FGy3Gb2iNa7Jn7wtQMbwAj4Hfwr_lGok

This 1932 neo-Georgian shop is one of only 2 buildings considered good enough to be worth saving in the proposed Master plan of the lower high street.

This proposal is much higher than the surrounding buildings (16 storeys compared with 2 or 4) , overbearing, and will stick out for miles around (being on the ridge top). 

This area already suffers from inadequate infrastructure – shortage of GPs, overcrowded stations – and these units would be better built on sites that are walking distance from one of the other 16 railway stations in the borough.  

S2 Developments have ignored the feedback from their public consultation and pushed ahead with their over-sized development. 

S2’s web site for this development fails to have a single picture of the lovely shop they’re demolishing.  Their proposal justifies itself using planning application that are not presented yet or been refused at appeal.  If they really must redevelop the site, we feel they would be better utilising the space fully on the TK max part.

16-storey proposal might look like (though the most recent application has the lower block as brick too)

We find merit in the 1932 existing shop, with it’s neo-classical parapet, arched and triangular pediments, and lovely ornate juliet balconies:

neo-gothic brick shop with pediments and scooped skyline
Neo-Geogian shop with juliet balconies, scalloped parapet and pediments over the windows

There’s more about the history of this building, home to the Fifty Shilling Tailors for decades, at our page here…

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Picturehouse is new home for rescued Art Deco Screens

coloured ray screen
Restored Art Deco screen, from Widmore Road co-op, at The PIcturehouse Cinema

“Look out in the new Picturehouse Cafe for the Art Deco screens from the former Co-op in Widmore Road.

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Proposals for Old Town Hall, from the new owners

Old Town Hall

Adding double-height mansard roof on two sides

Our initial thoughts are that although the leaflet contains precious little detail the proposals look promising.  74,000 sq ft of serviced offices is proposed for the both the 1907 town hall and the 1939 ‘extension’.  The hotel of 26 bedrooms replaces the 1970’s extensions that overlook Court Street (see artists impressions).  This seems far less obtrusive than the previous hotel proposals that were granted planning permission.   

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Picture Perfect Day, our heritage walks, in the words of a lady on the street…

A Picture Perfect Day


On Saturday 22nd June I lined up outside Boots in The Glades more out of curiosity than anything else, as a lifelong resident of the borough of Bromley I figured there wasn’t much I didn’t already know. How wrong I was, and what an absolutely fantastic day I experienced, along with at least 25 or 30 other folk. Our two hosts for the morning tour entitled ‘Bromley Palace and Park’ were clad in Victorian suits and hats and provided entertaining and illuminating information about aspects of Bromley previously unknown to me, and I’m sure others were equally surprised and delighted.

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Write To Stop Sell-Off of more Public Heritage Open Space

The site is part of the Bishop of Rochester’s Palace Park which is the setting of 6 listed buildings

stone and flint mini tower with arched window
To Be LOST: the stone-and-flint folly from the Bishops Palace – made with fragments found in the Moat during restoration work in the 19th Century

Please write and object to this sale to :David Mark Bowen, Director of Corporate Services, LB Bromley, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH  or email it to : mark.bowen@bromley.gov.uk    Mark it Proposed sale of land at Bromley Civic Centre  and include your name address and postcode otherwise it will not be accepted.  Don’t be put off by this mad deadline !:  Copies to the Ward Councillors and BCS would be welcome.
CllrNicky.Dykes@bromley.gov.uk   William.Harmer@bromley.gov.uk   Michael.Rutherford@bromley.gov.uk
chair@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

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Press Release: Bromley High Street could qualify for a share of £44 million

In recognition that HERITAGE IS A TRADING ASSET the government has put forward £44 million for High Streets, like Bromley, that are in Conservation Areas.  

Green tile frontage of Civic Pride era, mid-3-storey-terrace, shop front
Diners Inn at 206 High Street, built for Weeks & Sons, by Paul Ylaes.

Bromley is expected to apply with an ‘Expression of Interest’ by 12 noon 12th July.  A previous grant from the Mayor of London was used to restored historic shop fronts, the best example being the Diners Inn.

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Don’t Clutter Market Square

We like our Market Square with enough open space for our market – If you want to continue to have our market in Market Square, find a moment to object to this planning proposal 19_00241: https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PLEVE4BTJHM00

The Garden Shed style additions to Market Square

From our chair: “A finance driven Council co-development abuse of our Market Square?   We’ve always supported using Market Square for the Charter Market and always opposed any permanent structures of any design.   Permanent Garden Sheds – This is street clutter, out of character and harmful to the character and appearance of the most sensitive part of the Conservation Area and setting of five adjacent Listed and locally listed buildings”

green topped market stalls in market square
Market Square with the Charter market taking place last Thursday
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Broom time – Heritage Event

The annual flowering of the shrub, from which Bromley takes its name, takes place on Martin’s Hill mid April to the end of May and we recommend all visitors and locals to witness this event of living history so fundamental to the heritage of Bromley Town.

Tony Banfield, Chair of Bromley Civic Society Heritage officer – The Friends of Bromley Town Parks
Yellow flowered bush on hillside, with war memorial obelisk behind.

Just two minutes walk from Market Square along Church Road behind Primark, Bromley’s name- sake shrub burst into spectacular bloom on Martin’s Hill. The name ‘Bromley’ is from the Anglo Saxon ‘Bromleag’ or ‘Broomleigh’ literally meaning Broom meadow.

Just two minutes walk from Market Square along Church Road behind Primark, Bromley’s name- sake shrub burst into spectacular bloom on Martin’s Hill. The name ‘Bromley’ is from the Anglo Saxon ‘Bromleag’ or ‘Broomleigh’ literally meaning Broom meadow.

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Building works at Churchill Theatre – grey painted concrete instead of Lakeland tiles?

The High Street fontage a few years ago before the nails holding the slate tiles started to fail

Just to let everybody know about the plans with the lakeland slate tiles that are falling off the cladding on Churchill Theatre:

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BCS Newletter and February talk

The latest BCS newsletter was published before Christmas containing all the latest information about town centre planning and other important issues.

One important story concerns the approval given for the revised planning application for the Royal Bell hotel on 13 December. Benedict O’Looney, one of the architects, will be giving an update on progress with the Royal Bell at a talk  in February (see below).

Benedict O’Looney
Talk on 28th February 2019, 7:30pm, in the Parish Rooms, Church Road, Bromley BR2 0EG:
‘Conserving and celebrating the historic architecture of South London’
Benedict will be able to give us an update on progress with the Royal Bell – also his experience in restoring and building new work around Peckham’s historic townscape and what was involved with the initiation of central Peckham’s conservation area
(£3 voluntary donation).

 

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London Forum

Photo by Heidi Sandstrom. on Unsplash

Bromley Civic Society is a member of The London Forum which works to protect and improve the quality of life in London. It is a most influential body with input into Government and London Plan policy.

Take a look at their regular NewsForum bulletins and see what is going on elsewhere and what other Societies like ours are dealing with.

We are not alone!

The 2018 summer edition is now available here for viewing and downloading. Do please pass this on to others who may find it of interest. You can find all previous editions of newsforum on the London Forum website.

Next London Forum Open Meeting 26th September; London Forum AGM on 30th October

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Churchill Quarter Planning Application

The planning application for the “Churchill Quarter” development in Bromley town centre has now been submitted (planning reference: 18/02181).

The development, adjacent to library gardens, is a co-development with the Council providing the land and Countryside Properties responsible for building and operations.

Before and after images showing the effect of the development can be seen on the right.

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The Glades

The Glades High Street Entrance

Bromley built the Glades in the 1980s, demolishing houses, the non-conformist church, and shops to make way for it. They sold part of Queen Gardens so that the remanent was blocked off from Market Square.

The new bypass curved round behind it, but alas, the shopping centre was opened for Christmas 1988, months before Kentish Way was completed, so the traffic jams were monumental.

modern building with arched windows etc
The Glades with decorative windows and tracery

Whatever the community had to sacrifice for our shopping centre, it is undeniable that Bromley would not be the same if it had not been built. And, it is a quality build that, thankfully, left brutalism behind, and has a style, that is not pastiche (heavens forbid) but is all of its own, borrowing elements from other heritage buildings in the town centre.

As it was called the Glades from the outset, the details of the building are themed: the arch on the high street is in green granite, the balustrades on the balconies are stylised trees, the railings of the car park balconies look like abstract fern shoots.

railing with vertical bars curled like ferns
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147-149 & 151-153 High Street: Demolished – The White Hart Inn

This building had a long history and this post is only a summary. The White Hart is the badge of king Richard II who reigned from 1377-99, so it is thought that there has been an Inn or public house at this site, since this time. There are references to it in the 16th Century and records of it being sold in the 18th century.

1900s street scene

In the 1830s it was partly rebuilt and extended, becoming the premier coaching inn with assembly rooms. It was a community hub for that century, having auctions, being a court house for Petty Sessions and Crown Court, hosting County Balls and was the headquarters of the Voluntary Fire Brigade.

It was demolished in the 1960s to build the current ugly brutalist building. With low profile and extending a long way back, it not just looks bad, but a poor use of space.

Advert in wine label style of building with coaches horses and people in

The White Hart had a field behind it, that the town used as a cricket pitch. Part of it has become Queens Gardens and this is where HG Wells had a life-changing accident. His broken leg mended, but the books he read in his covalence inspired his future writing career. More details on our page here.

An etching by Janet Simpson in 1909
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Church House and Library Gardens

Library Gardens is the level park behind the Churchill Theatre; you then go down the slope to the integrated Church House Gardens. Originally they were the gardens to Neelgharies House. Part of this site, including the public conveniences (which the council has allowed to become derelict) will be sold to the Site G development. It looks like the Deodore Cedar tree will be saved. See more about it at the Friends page here.

Traditionally this area was formal gardens with a flower clock, the hands of which were set to the Library closing time.

Church House gardens still retain a formal area, and originally included the fish ponds, on which was built an amphitheatre and performance structure, now derelict. Please see the full description on the Friend’s site, here. Part of this park, Dickerson’s Copse., might be chopped down for the Site G proposals.

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Heritage Buildings of the Upper/North High Street

This is the oldest section of the High Street, and has buildings that survive from the 1700s. The town is very fortunate that there we have a fine collection of Victorian and Arts and Craft era buildings in this part of our High Street.

  • Royal Bell

    173-177 High Street, The Royal Bell – Heritage Building Profile

    The Royal Bell is a beautiful Queen Anne style Arts and Crafts style building just north of market square. The architect was the renowned Ernest Newton and it is Grade II listed. This range of buildings was rebuilt in 1898 on the site of an earlier hostelry of 1666; as part of the front required propping up…
  • 179-183 William Hill formerly Martins Bank – Heritage Building

    Designed by the Arts and Crafts architect Ernest Newton (see our page here). The Martins Bank website provides some more pictures of the interior of the building, with an interesting note on the occasion: “For our Bromley Branch features, we look at the retirements of two members of the staff reported as usual by Martins…
  • Two neo-classical high street buildings one brick one whitewashed

    194 High Street, the Partridge – Heritage Building Profile

    The Partridge Public House stands at the junction of Church Road and was originally built for the National Provincial Bank in 1927 by architects Gunton & Gunton. It became a Public House in 1995.
  • Two neo-classical high street buildings one brick one whitewashed

    198 High Street formally Pamphilons – Heritage Building Profile

    Nos. 196-198 High Street was a dwelling house which became used as a wine merchant towards the end of the 18th century. George Pamphilon became the owner in 1865 and in 1876 he rebuilt the premises. The timber shopfront reflects the design as it was in the 19th century. Note the lettering on the arch…
  • 208-214 High Street former Tunnel Shoes – Heritage Buildings

    Tunnel Shoes occupy the original 1902 premises of Boots the Chemists. The Art Nouveau wrought iron work in front of the first floor windows is typical of boots in this period and similar work can also be seen in Boots old shop in the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. Behind the modern false ceiling the gallery…
  • 242 High Street Picture House Cinema

    Opened on the 21st December 1936, it is one of Odeon’s original “Oscar Deutsch Odeon” cinemas, in Art Deco style, by George Coles. TODO replace with one from camera. By Simon Steele. It seated 1,492 in the main auditorium; with 1,018 in the stalls and 474 in the circle. In 2006 the Empire chain bought…
  • College Slip – Heritage

    College Slip is the passageway which follows the old college wall. In the latter part of the 19th century it was still a country lane leading to open fields. The early 19th century cottage on the north side was the home of the nurseryman who grew his plants on the adjacent site. The nursery was…
  • Black-and-white house with jetties, turret and balconies

    The Star And Garter – Heritage building profile

    One of the best Arts and Crafts buildings around, with extravagant turret, balcony and decoration. The Star & Garter Inn was constructed in 1898 and was designed by Berney and Sons for Nalder and Collyer, a local Croydon brewer.  It has been eulogised as a fantasy of the Arts and Crafts movement.  The sign hanging…
  • The Swan and Mitre – Heritage Building Profile

    The Swan & Mitre is an old coaching inn which was popular with carters carrying farm produce and fish, resting on their journey to the London markets. It dates mainly from the early 19th century The Swan and Mitre In older accounts it is sometimes just referred to as the Swan.
  • Walters Yard – Heritage

    Until the end of the 18th century the east side of the High Street from The Bell Inn northwards, including part of the side of the college, comprised land called Grete House. This was a large private estate now covered by Walters Yard. During the Napoleonic Wars part of the area became known as ‘Prison…
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Local Plan Sites 4 & 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Sites 4 and 5 are situated just south of the town centre.

The ‘Gas Holder’ site on B265 Homedale Road. Together with Tescos (the building to the south) it formed the Victorian town gas manufacturing site.

Site 4 is where the builders merchant intend to open a store. The initial plan was to provide 120 dwellings with 60 on a platform over the store. In the author’s view, this is a bad location for this type of business, with a low bridge on the B265 to the south and narrow roads to the north. Not just will timber delivery lorries have problems but the customers will have their own vans/pickups to negotiate the road. The company has successfully reduced the number of housing units saying the platform is too expensive. They have now also decided that the land will not be decontaminated sufficiently for the 60 domestic units, and would like to build just 12 executive houses on the north side. They do not intend to share their store access onto the B265 Homesdale Road with the housing, making the access on the too-narrow Canon Road.

Site 5 is a thin stretch of land by Bickley Station.

Site 6 is Bromley Gym site in St Paul’s Cray.

This development seems to include an area of parkland next to the existing buildings, but this is really outside the town centre area.

Site 7 was Orchard Lodge on William Booth Road, in Penge.

Site 8 was Bassetts Campus, Broadwater Gardens, in Orpington.

Site 9 is Former depot, Bruce Grove, Orpington.

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2019 Local Plan Site 3 – Hill Car Park & Adjacent

Redevelopment of the Hill Car park site.

entry in the Local Plan:

  • Site Policy:
Development for mixed use including retail (150sqm), cultural facilities, car parking for the public and for residential, and 150 residential units.

Proposals will be expected to: respect the character of Bromley North Village, the Bromley Town Conservation Area and the locally listed cinema building.
Integrate the site into the town centre
minimise adverse impacts on the designated Local Green Spaces of Martin’s Hill and Church House Gardens to the west.
  • Local Plan phasing: Years 6-10
  • Site area: 1.25 ha

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2019 Local Plan Site 2 – Bromley North Station

The Area around Bromley North Station has been on the plans for redevelopment, for at least 10 years. Each new version increases the number of ‘units’ (housing units, in this case flats) that are expected to fit on the site. At the current rate the eventual build will be 8-12 storey line, in the style of Byker Wall, marching down Babbcombe Road…

Babbacombe Road (and Area) Residents Association have been tireless in trying to rein these proposal down to a height which will not dominate their roads, our town centre, and the conservation area.

Site policy:Redevelopment for mixed use including 525 residential units, 2000 sqm of office accommodation, space for community use, 230 sqm café/retail, transport interchange and parking.

Proposals will be expected to:
Provide a sensitive and effective transition between the adjoining low rise residential areas and the higher density town centre.Respect and enhance the setting of the Grade II Listed Bromley North station buildingAllow for the long term aspirations for improved rail connectivity to central and east London.
Local Plan phasing:Years 6-10 and 11-15
Site area:3 ha
Current status:Included in Bromley Town Centre Housing Zone bid
A recent proposal by Beliving, 16 stories. Northpoint is shown next it for scale. The Listed station building is the little house on the left.
Northpoint (left) and a projection of a proposal for 10A Sherman Road. It would have been 2 meters from the side of Northpoint, which (2019) still has Grenville Tower cladding.
Bromley North Station, a listed Neo-Classical building that whatever is built on Site 2 will surround.
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179-183 William Hill formerly Martins Bank – Heritage Building

Designed by the Arts and Crafts architect Ernest Newton (see our page here).

The Martins Bank website provides some more pictures of the interior of the building, with an interesting note on the occasion: “For our Bromley Branch features, we look at the retirements of two members of the staff reported as usual by Martins Bank Magazine. The second one takes place in 1969, and we find that although a farewell party is held for him, it is the wish of Manager Mr Howard that no-one should make a speech or offer a retirement gift paid for by colleagues. Note the interesting choice of words by Martins Bank Magazine, citing Mr Howard’s “individualism” as the reason. “

Image from Martins Bank website from Barclay

This beautiful drawing by S Crawford, is printed in the French magazine “L’Architecte” in 1914. It show the newly completed façade of Martin’s Private Bank in Bromley, designed by Architect Ernest Newton.

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