HG Wells in Bromley: a Bromley Civic Society talk

The talk will be held at the Parish Rooms, Church Road, Bromley at 8.00pm on Thursday 26th January 2017.

The places and sights that the young HG Wells would have known, described in his own vivid words.

Tony Banfield, Jane Secker and Peter Martin, in their best Victorian attire, will tell the story of his early years with the aid of period photographs from the archives and ‘then and now’ comparisons.

Bertie, as he was known, was born in 1866 and brought up at 47 High Street (now Primark) then “one of a row of badly built houses..” with a shop on the ground floor selling china crockery and a special line of cricket goods. He says “We lived mostly downstairs and underground, more particularly in the winter”

Young Bertie was free to roam out on to Martin’s Hill where he imagined soldiers charging across the slopes sending a defeated army off towards Croydon! Martin’s Hill was also the scene of real battles between the boys of Morley’s Academy (now the Frames & Art shop) where Bertie attended and the boys of the National School (now the Methodist Church).

Booking recommended via Chair@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

£5 entrance fee to include light refreshments.

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Events at Bromley & Sheppard’s Colleges

Following our post on July 20th, BCS would like to remind people of the celebrations taking place in October around the 350th anniversary of Bromley & Sheppard’s colleges. On 13 October at 7.00pm, you can find out about the life of John Warner, the founder of the College through a dramatised account of his life.

Details of other College anniversary events from 13-16 October can be found on the following flyer.

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HG Wells Bromley Walk: Sunday 25 September

To celebrate the 150 year anniversary of HG Wells’ birth in Bromley and complement the upcoming Sci-Fi weekend, Bromley Civic Society will be conducting a costumed walk around the Bromley that HG Wells knew as a boy.  At various stopping points we will read extracts from his memoirs which give not only insights into his boyhood imagination and the famed novelist he was to become but also a colourful picture of life in the Town in the mid 19th century. Booking is not required, however it would be helpful if you plan to come to email chair@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

The walk will take approximately 1.5 hours and involve some rough terrain. Meet outside the Churchill Theatre at 11am Sunday 25th September. Members and non-members very welcome.

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Bromley & Sheppard’s Colleges: 350th Anniversary Celebrations!

Bromley Civic Society would like to congratulate Bromley & Sheppard’s Colleges as they celebrate their 350th anniversary on 13-16 October 2016. There will be several days of musical events which will include performances by the Bromley Youth Music Trust and the Kentish Opera. There will also be a display by the Sealed Knot who specialise in the re-enactment of battles between Roundheads and Cavaliers. Further details can be found in the Bromley College Flyer.

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Bromley Civic Society: May 2016 Newsletter

The latest BCS newsletter is now available. It contains a range of important local news stories set within the context of the Government’s Housing & Planning Bill which received Royal Assent this month. From a heritage perspective we include a fascinating glimpse of the life of HG Wells in Bromley.

This year our AGM will be held on  Thursday 2 June (8.00pm) at the Parish Church Rooms, Bromley Parish Church, Church Road (behind Primark).  Refreshments will be provided. Please come and join us!

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Visit the old Palace on the next Bromley Heritage Walk

Bromley PalaceBromley Civic Society will be organising another heritage walk on Saturday 14th May led by Peter Martin, the BCS Vice-Chair and Jane Secker, BCS Secretary. It will be an opportunity to visit Bromley Palace and see inside the building, which was the former residence of the Bishops of Rochester and dates from the late 18th Century. We will also tour some of the south of the town centre admiring some of the Georgian and Victorian architecture. The walk will start at 10.30am promptly on Saturday 14th May, so please meet from 10.15 outside Bromley North railway station. Places are limited and booking is essential, so if you wish to attend then please use the booking form.

This is an opportunity to take a close look at the 18th century Bromley Palace and its transformation from the Georgian home of the Bishops of Rochester to the home of Victorian entrepreneur Coles-Child in 1845. Inside we will see the magnificent grand staircase, carved oak panels, Robert Adams fireplaces and more.

The Palace will be part of a 2hr walk looking at changes in architectural styles at several other buildings and features important to Bromley’s heritage. The walk is free, but donations towards Bromley Civic Society are very welcome. Please note that the walk will include some uneven ground and crossing busy roads, so care should be taken.

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Green Space Heritage Walk: Sunday 17 April

Bromley Green Space

Discover Bromley’s own ‘Green Man’. See the flowering Broom, from which the Town takes its name; the special landscape features of historic Bromley Palace; specimen trees planted in a bygone age; a Tudor bee hive niche and historic views unchanged over centuries. Re-discover ‘Neelgherries Gardens’ and the town’s oldest feature mentioned in the Domesday Book. The walk will last approximately one and a half hours and there is some moderate uphill walking in one place.  The walk complements Bromley Civic Society’s built heritage walks. We look forward to seeing you.

Meet outside the Churchill Theatre on Sunday 17 April at 11.00am.


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Orpington Priory Community Hub

BCS has reported recently on progress made by the Orpington Priory Community Hub to save the Priory building for local people. OPCH has produced the following leaflet to help publicise the work of the group and to encourage anyone interested to help with the project.

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Balmoral Avenue, Beckenham: Concern about top down imposition of education facility on local community

In October 2015 the Department of Education, through the Education Funding Agency (EFA), spent £13.4 million on purchasing the former South Suburban Co-op sports ground in Balmoral Avenue, Beckenham. This they have given to the Trust “Education for the 21st Century” “E21c” whose plan is to build “The Beckenham Academy”, a new senior school including a sixth form which will cater for around 1450 pupils by September 2018. To gather support the trust has already written out to other schools and business in the area before they undertake public planning consultation in early 2016. This consultation has not, to date, been sent to local residents.

The former Co-op land is currently classed as Urban Open Space and is designated for “sporting purposes only”. However, if the draft local plan (currently before Bromley Council) is adopted then the Council will change this classification to “Educational Use” to allow it to be built on, and this will pave the way for the school to be built. In E21C’s publicity, the catchment for the school is to be centred on Kent House so to pull in pupils from Penge, West Lewisham and even Croydon; although apparently it will not be for children in the area that it is being built in.

Two weeks before Christmas 2015, the Residents group heard that there were plans for the EFA to start site works. The group made a case to the LB Bromley planning investigation team that the EFA should have planning permission before they started any works. However, the council were content that initial works could proceed, partly to enable a perimeter fence to be put up. Unfortunately these “initial works” have been to the complete detriment of the wildlife, scrub and woodland on the site that has now been devastated by the bulldozers; the disastrous results can be seen in the before and after photographs below:

Before S0341566After

As with other school building proposals across residential areas of Bromley, transport is a major concern. It seems obvious that the increased traffic around a large education facility is likely to have a major impact on an area laid out across small residential streets.

It is the experience of Bromley Civic Society that some ward councillors in Bromley have been sympathetic to resident’s concerns about the top down imposition of large educational developments on their communities. We really hope that these councillors, and the MP for the area, can help the local community in Balmoral Ave to have a significant say about future development in its immediate area. For further information, please contact:





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January 2016 Newsletter!

Bromley historyThe latest BCS newsletter is now available. It contains a range of fascinating heritage stories, including about David Bowie, as well as updates on the Council’s Local Plan and good news about the Orpington Priory Community Hub.

Over the past three months we’ve been pleased to offer heritage tours of the Town Centre which have been extremely well attended. During winter months we are planning a cosy indoor version with a kaleidoscope of pictures old and new tracing the history and heritage of our fine old town particularly focused on what still survives as well as what has been lost. Do come and join us on Wednesday 10th February 8-10 pm at the Parish Church Rooms, Bromley Parish Church, Church Road (behind Primark). There will be a nominal £3 entry to cover costs, but any donations to our funds would be most welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

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