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:
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.
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
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
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.
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:
(4) 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: