Market Square Nos 12-13 Cafe Rouge – Heritage Building

Cafe Rouge occupies the first building displaying the transition from a small market town into a Victorian shopping centre. It was built in 1883 by local draper, Herbert Collings, well known for banishing the old system of credit in favour of the modern concept of cash only sales and introducing the idea of window shopping displays made possible in the design of his new premises.

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BCS and Parks Heritage Walk No.1 Market Square and North High Street

Start at the south side of Market Square, outside Ann Summers. Look at the Primark Extension opposite you:

  1. Market Square & Primark Extension
  2. Medhursts 1898 building, now Primarks, now walk north a bit towards McDonalds and look to your left:
  3. HSBC bank occupying Covil & Harris’s butcher shop and parade
  4. MacDonalds occupies an 18th century shop which for generations until around 1971 was the Bakery of the Maunders family. Next door, Jessops also occupies a Georgian terrace of similar age and importance.
  5. Lloyds and Bon Marche occupy the former ‘Caters’ store built in 1957, one of the first supermarkets in the country. The architecture has a ‘Festival of Britain’ feel. It occupies the site of the Old Bull Inn which was, in the 19th c was divided in two as Skilton’s the Butcher and Issards Stores. Some beautiful early 19th century paintings on wood panels from the old Bull Inn can be seen by appointment at Bromley Museum.
  6. Cafe Rouge, built in 1883 by local draper, Herbert Collings, well known for banishing the old system of credit and introducing the idea of window shopping.

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Martins Hill and the War Memorial

Saved from development by public subscription.

Some debate as to the origin of the name; it could be because it was where all the house martins flew in the thermals from the slope.

In the early years of the railway, the slopes were noted for the perfusion of broom, and made the hillside appear quite yellow from the train.

H.G Wells describes playing here in his writings, and the former appearance of the Ravensbourne, in the days before the pumping stations at Shortlands and Sparrows Den had not taken much of the flow away:

“Here, too, if my memory serves me aright, the river met – with a
certain air of patronage – a shallow, rippling foot-wide tributary, rich
in cress and water-snails and minnows, that came from a tree bordered pond [below Durham Road], duckweed covered and dear to
dragon-flies and water-wagtails. Over that tributary Frank Blake used
to jump with his little brother in his arms.
“Thereafter the river ran shallow for a time under a fence, and became
a mere stew of frog spawn or black tadpoles according to the time of
year. Then a long line of trees and a footpath to Shortlands touched it.”
[This account fits well with the 1863 Ordnance Survey map. Paul Rainey]
“When I was about nine years old [1875] there was talk of improving
the town. It was about this time that the Ravensbourne began to shrink. I
remember how we youngsters thought it a very fine thing at first.
Gravelly islands covered with dried green algae began to appear in the
river where no islands had been before, and one could wade
anywhere. The fishes crowded into the deeper pools, and were more
easily caught.
“That winter the meadows were not flooded, and there was no skating,
and the next summer the fishes had gone, the tadpoles and the forget-me-nots, and the river bed was only fit for playing Sahara in, with one
thin thread of water trickling down its centre.
“I saw my River Ravensbourne from the train yesterday [1894]. The little trickle of water is still running, but most of the bed of the river is dry.”

These quotes are taken from the Pall Mall Gazette, a note HG Wells had written, called “The Degeneration Of The Ravensbourne, A Memory of Bromley”. Paul Rainey and the BBHLS had taken these quotes from this publication and correlated them to the Ordinance Survey maps of that time.

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Arts and Crafts movement – imitation in the Suburbs

Though the classic and best examples of the arts and crafts movements are in our historic town centre, many of the houses in the large new suburb areas, drew inspiration from them.

These 1930s houses draw inspiration from the black-and-white fashion, that recalled medieval black-and-white buildings that are traditional.
row of semi detached houses with bow windows
These houses on Godwin Road (1932) have the same bow fronts as Ernest Newton’s Royal Bell Inn on the high street.
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2010 Area Action Plan Site L – 1 Westmoreland Rd & BCC

Site L: DHSS Building and Christian Centre, Westmoreland Road & Mason’s Hill.

A hotel development was approved in 2013 by the Council but the site was acquired by the Department of Education and subsequently subject of an application for a 10 storey School building (the SHAW). This was recommended for approval by Council officers but refused by Councillors. The subsequent planning Appeal was dismissed February 2019 mainly on grounds of the loss of the protected view of Keston Ridge which is something of a breakthrough decision for environmental matters in the Town Centre.

The next proposal for this site is awaited.

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2010 Area Action Plan Site K – Westmoreland Place

APPROVED by Bromley Council in 2012

Site K: Westmoreland Road. Now the 16+-storey “St Marks Reach” complex. In March 2012 Cathedral Group received planning permission to replace the existing multi-storey car park with a nine-screen multiplex cinema, hotel and 200 homes in a very high tower.

(Planning ref: 11/03865/FULL1). The outline plans predate the drafting of the AAP and the development is now complete nicknamed variously as the ‘ski slope’ or ‘titanic’ because of its shape by locals.

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2010 Area Action Plan Site J – Bromley South Station

Site J: Bromley South Station ( now included in Site G/10 in the Local Plan. Upgrade of the station facilities, funded through the government’s Access to All programme. Completed Spring 2012.

Now part of Site G/10 (west side of the High Street) earmarked for housing development: the station and platforms will be underground, with 8 high rise blocks above it.

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2010 Area Action Plan Site G – High Street west side

Site G: Lower High Street (Local Plan Site 10 now extends to include BS Station and platforms). AAP proposals for a shopping Mall now scrapped in favour of the Local Plan modification for 1230 residential units plus offices. Vicinity of TK Maxx site is identified in the AAP as possibly suitable for a tall/taller building. This gave rise to a 2018 consultation by the owner for a 20 storey block of flats opposed by BCS. No planning application as yet.

This is the most controversial of all the development sites. The Council intend acquiring by CPO the 40 homes in Ethelbert Close for what is called Phase One – Churchill Quarter. This is a co-development with the Council of 410 flats still awaiting a decision. The AAP Inspector required the Council to produce a Masterplan for the whole site but this was only produced in 2018 well after the Churchill Quarter application was made and proposes a mass of tower blocks. The upper part is in the town centre conservation area and environmental groups including Historic England have objected both to Churchill Quarter and the Masterplan. A decision on both from the Council is still awaited. In 2014 Crest Homes implemented a large flatted development in Ringers Road on part of the site which had already gained permission from the Council before the AAP have been drafted.

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2010 Area Action Plan Site F – Palace park lands

Site F: Civic Centre (Local Plan Site 1). AAP proposals were relocation of the Pavilion Leisure facilities, housing and retained Council use.

These were superseded by the Local Plan proposals are retained offices, retained car park, 70 housing units including conversion of the listed old Bishops Palace building, retention of south east open space as a public park as now.

BCS sought restoration of the Palace grounds in consideration of what has been lost to build Kentish Way, the multi-storey car park & the newer Council offices and continued public use of the Grade II listed Palace. This has been rejected by the Council.

In October 2019 the council sold the freehold of a quarter of the palace park land to an unknown bidder, even though the Urban Open Space designation may still apply. The new owner can use permitted development to convert the Y blocks (that the council allowed to fall into disrepair) to housing without planning permission.

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2010 Area Action Plan Site E – Pavillion Leisure Centre

Site E: The Pavilion. AAP proposals to move these leisure facilities onto the Civic Centre site and extend the Glades shopping centre have been abandoned. Bromley Mytime, a charitable trust, has completed a £5M refurbishment of this leisure centre in March 2012.

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