Former Gaumont Cinema

Account by  Lynne Galloghly, thanks to the Bromley Gloss group, on 17th August 2015

“Thanks Amanda for info and photos! Photos showing the site from 1935 (before construction), 1940, 1950’s, 2007, and 2014.

“Bromley’s first cinema opened in 1909 in a converted theatre. But by the 1930s large scale development all around the area created a demand for a much grander venue. The Gaumont, one of the thirties’ “super cinemas”, was built on the site of a music college and a health centre and was one of the many signs between the wars that Bromley was changing from a market town to a London suburb.

“Designed by William E. Trent, it opened in 1936 and included a cafe and an organ, on the junction of the High Street and Ravensbourne Road. The most impressive external feature was the flat topped tower on the corner over the entrance, which sported a large vertical sign spelling out the cinema’s name in neon on both sides but after the War it lost the battle with its main rival the Odeon. It would run a Saturday morning children club for sixpence they could watch films, also the odd extra event was also run for children.

The Gaumont was closed by the Rank Organisation on 18th Feb 1961, showing Bradford Dillman in “Circle of Deception” and Richard Basehart in “None but the Brave”(For the Love of Mike). The building was gutted internally and converted into a department store. Debenhams took over in early 1960’s. By 2009, the building has been sub-divided into several stores, one being Habitat, which was located at the former entrance to the Gaumont. Most recently Dreams Beds occupies the site”

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Market Square Nos 20-25 Former Dunns Building

Locally listed 1960s style with pleasant proportions, and a framed rectangle section at the front, and coloured panels.

The previous building, a rebuild after the 1909 Market Square fire, was a fine 1920s Arts and Crafts black-and-white framed building incorporating a series of yards and sheds at the back, which housed not just the furniture that Dunns sold, but the workshop for their funeral business. There is much fascinating detail of the building and the family business at their site here…

The Arts and Crafts building, after the 1909 fire, that was lost in WW2

This black-and-white building was bombed and burnt down in the 16th April 1941 raid that also destroyed Bromley Place and the town centre churches.

The store after the bombing raid of 16th April 1941 which also saw the loss of Bromley Place, the parish church and St Marks, and more. Photo from the ROC association.

There’s an account of housewives salvaging the soap from the former Brickpit (now Havelock Rec) here…

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First Church of Christ Scientist

Striking octagonal building on Widmore Road. The listing describes it as “Christian Science Church. 1928 by E Braxton Sinclair in an inventive Neo-
Classical style with brickwork and doors reminiscent of Art-Deco cinemas”.

The peripheries have been converted to housing, along with the neighbouring police station, but the main building seems to be gently decaying.

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00 Old Photos – High Street Broadway

It’s hard to imagine Bromley when the lower high street was fields or suburban villas, but some of these photos bring those distant eras back. Even when the railway came to Bromley in 1850s, it took another 40 years before it became part of London, here’s a description from one of HG Well’s books (see our page for more):

“The outskirts of Bromstead [Bromley] were maze of exploitation, roads that led nowhere, that ended in tarred fences studded with nails… It was a multitude of uncoordinated fresh starts, each more sweeping and destructive than the last, and none of them ever really worked out to a ripe and satisfactory completion.”

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Market Square

The market square dates from medieval times, when Bromley was granted a market charter.

  • 180-184 High Street (HSBC Bank) – Heritage Building Profile

    Built in 1888 to provide shop premises. It was designed by Walter Albert Williams and built in the Flemish style. Above the first floor window are terracotta carvings which include the letters ‘C’ and ‘H’ for Covell & Harris, the butchers, former occupants of the building.
  • Heritage – Town Pump

    The town pump is in the corner of Market Square, with the Darwin mural  behind it.
  • Shops with awnings and two storeys above them; horse drawn carts in street.

    Market Square – Heritage Buildings

    Market Square is the centre of the Old Town which until the coming of the railway in 1858 comprised a single street. The Market Charter, to hold a market every Tuesday (later changed to Thursday) was granted to Bishop Gandalf (the Bishops were the Lords of the Manor) by King John in 1205. The limits…
  • Market Square Nos 20-25 Former Dunns Building

    Locally listed 1960s style with pleasant proportions, and a framed rectangle section at the front, and coloured panels. The previous building, a rebuild after the 1909 Market Square fire, was a fine 1920s Arts and Crafts black-and-white framed building incorporating a series of yards and sheds at the back, which housed not just the furniture…
  • a churchy looking brick building with italian style tower

    Market Square The Old New Townhall – Heritage Buildings

    Built, at his own cost, by the new Lord of the Manor, Coles-Child.  The bricks were from his own brickpit, from where Havelock Rec is now:  http://friendsofhavelockrec.org/about-the-brick-pit-of…/. It seems that it was at least 3 different buildings kludged together… most of its life rented by an estate agents, included the police station with a cell, and…
  • Medhursts, now Primark, 162 High Street – Heritage Building Profile

    Primark occupies Fred Meadhurst’s Department store, the name being visible high above the central entrance. 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…
  • Victoria Chambers, now Primark’s Annex, 160 High Street – Heritage Building Profile

    Primark annex next to Mothercare occupies Victoria Chambers, a fine building from the 1890s in the Arts & Crafts style with its characteristic Dutch influence. 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…
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Nos _86-96 High Street, Ravensfell Parade – Heritage Building Profile

Posted on March 3, 2019 by campaignr A modest 1923 parade of shops, with nicely proportioned windows above, in Art Deco style. They occupy the whole front of what used to be the large garden of Ravensfell House

Ravensfell House was built for an Australian merchant,John Richardson, and was the first, of a number, of fine villas overlooking the Ravensbourne Valley built in 1858 at the coming of the railway.  There is a note that John Richardson corresponded with George Sparkes (who retired from being a judge for the East India Company) next door at Neelgherries, about ancient lights and greenhouses.

Prior to the arrival of the railway in 1858, Bromley High Street stretched only a short distance south from the Market Square. Redwood House on the east side (now the site of Marks & Spencer and Neelgherries on the west side (where the library is now) were the limit of continuous development. Bromley House and Bromley Lodge further down the hill had fields between them and the High Street itself. After 1858, the area between here and the station began to be filled, mainly with detached Victorian houses.

The construction of Ravensfell House in 1858

The construction of Ravensfell House in 1858

When Ravensfell House was built, and for a while afterwards, it was the most westerly building on the high street. It is recorded that the road next to it, Ravensbourne and Ethelbert Roads, were laid out in 1870-1872. This (now demolished) mansion had been built in the late 1850s and only survived for just over half a century. When the property was demolished there are deeds for it, describing the property of the Richardson Family to include Ravensfell House, Mill Pond Meadow, and Kingswood Avenue and ‘Lascelles’, in 1922.

“In summers around 1920, public entertainments were given in a garden marquee” (Murial Mundie nee Searle).

The first record, in the local business listings for Ravensfell Parade, is in the 1924 Kellys Directory, where it informs us that Number 6 Ravensfell Parade was the establishment of Rae Bertina, who was a ‘Costumier’.

By 1928, Russell and Bromley are at number 7 and have placed an advert in Kellys, , as has Staples at number 2:

  • No. 2: Staples, makers of picture frames, gilders, pictures cleaned & restored artists’ & crafts materials, with an advert and listed in 3 places.
  • No. 3: Harris W. J. & Co. Ltd., baby carriage manufacturers
  • No. 4: Willmett Kate (Mrs.), milliner
  • No. 5: Lawley’s (1921) Ltd. china & glass merchants
  • No. 6: Rae Bertinal costumier
  • No. 7: Russell and Bromley, fine shoes and foot fitters
  • No. 8: Smith W. H. & Sun, booksellers
  • No. 9: Hammetts, butchers
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Nos 130 High Street – Purple Paperchase Heritage Building

It’s hard to miss the pink frontage of this building. Not just is it one of the older buildings on the High Street but it has fantastic décor – the shop floor ceiling is removed and the first floor has period furniture suspended from the ceiling.

This makes an extravagant and innovative way of illustrating what this building was like 100 years ago – without getting in the way of merchandising.

Period furniture and decor of the first floor, suspended.

Period furniture and decor of the first floor, suspended.

  

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Heritage Buildings of the Broadway High Street

When the railway came to Bromley in 1850s, this area was fields. Then a series of villas, making use of the new station and views over the valley, were built along the road. When this was changed to become shops and commercial buildings, it was renamed to the ‘Broadway’, and the sign can still be seen just up hill from Bromley South.

  • tiled old photos

    00 Old Photos – High Street Broadway

    It’s hard to imagine Bromley when the lower high street was fields or suburban villas, but some of these photos bring those distant eras back. Even when the railway came to Bromley in 1850s, it took another 40 years before it became part of London, here’s a description from one of HG Well’s books (see…
  • 70 High Street Bromley (former Maplins) – Heritage building profile

    70 High Street Bromley was built in the “New Georgian” style in the 1930s.  At this time, the lower high street was being redeveloped.  It was the home of the “Fifty Shilling Tailors” Bromley branch. Fancy Pediment and Juliet Balcony Nice touch – arched doorways at the…
  • Row of tall Arts and Crafts shops with awnings, and a horse & cart on the road.

    95-109 High Street (Clarke’s) Aberdeen Buildings– Heritage building profile

    Aberdeen Buildings – this distinctive high profile parade was built in 1887 by a local butcher, Amos Borer.  His premises was the end shop (which was “No 1 Aberdeen Buildings” but is now 107-109 High Street, occupied by Clarke’s Shoes). The architecture is French Empire and thought to be a tribute to the Emperor Napoleon…
  • Former Gaumont Cinema

    Account by  Lynne Galloghly, thanks to the Bromley Gloss group, on 17th August 2015 “Thanks Amanda for info and photos! Photos showing the site from 1935 (before construction), 1940, 1950’s, 2007, and 2014. “Bromley’s first cinema opened in 1909 in a converted theatre. But by the 1930s large scale development all around the area created…
  • No 123 High Street, Marks and Spencers – Heritage Building Profile

    “Wright Brothers’ attractive bow-windowed shop was taken over by a High Street chain store, who a few years ago took great trouble to reproduce in every detail this lovely frontage, when they needed twice the space.  Few shoppers can tell where the original part and the new section join.” Murial Mundie nee Searle, 1988. Marks…
  • Nos _86-96 High Street, Ravensfell Parade – Heritage Building Profile

    Posted on March 3, 2019 by campaignr A modest 1923 parade of shops, with nicely proportioned windows above, in Art Deco style. They occupy the whole front of what used to be the large garden of Ravensfell House Ravensfell House was built for an Australian merchant* ,John Richardson, and was the first, of a number, of fine villas overlooking…
  • Nos 130 High Street – Purple Paperchase Heritage Building

    It’s hard to miss the pink frontage of this building. Not just is it one of the older buildings on the High Street but it has fantastic décor – the shop floor ceiling is removed and the first floor has period furniture suspended from the ceiling. This makes an extravagant and innovative way of illustrating…
  • Nos 72-80 High Street, Bromley House Parade – Heritage Building Profile

    This parade of shops was built about 1930 when this part of the High Street was developed, replacing a line of fine villas that overlooked the Ravensbourne valley. The parade is fronted in brick with stone ornamentation, the broken pediments and sash windows of Neo-Gothic style. Bromley Manor Parade, in brick…
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2010 Area Action Plan Sites

The 2010 AAP (Area Action Plan) identified over a dozen “opportunity sites” for developers in the town centre

  • Site A – Bromley North Station surrounding area, the buildings to each site and back alongside the track including the bus station
  • Site B – The green patch that greeted people coming from the north
  • Site G – Ethelbert Road and west side of the high street adjoining it
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Town Centre developments planned by the Council (2019)

These are the development sites in the Local Plan (approved 2019) for the Town Centre:

  • 2019 Local Plan Site 1 ABC Civic Centre

    Site 1A – Civic Centre north section, multi-storey car park, Stockwell buildingSite 1B – central belt of the Civic Centre and old Palace grounds This was Site F in the 2010 Area Action Plan. 70 units. Conflicted by being placed on the Urban Open Space area. Future of the listed old Bishops Palace is not…
  • 2019 Local Plan Site 10 High Street West

    Includes the area identified as Site G in the 2010 Area Action Plan. 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…

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