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 of Boots famous ‘Penny Library’ still survives. The building replaced that of Rawes School, one of Bromley’s most important educational establishments in the 19th century.

From Bromley Gloss on FB:

Bromley Mystery 🛑 Have you got a theory, or are you in the know about the Tunnel Shop on Bromley High Street North. Remember Tunnel Discount Shoe Shop… A decade ago or there abouts it shut down, and has continued to stand empty to this day.

❤Set in a beautiful ornate vintage building in a location with lots of footfall throughout the year, why has there not been the slightest hint anyone is interested in taking it over. What’s your theory? #tunnel #tunnelshoeshop #bromleyhighstreet #bromleyshops #bromleyarchitecture #bromleymyster

Jason : I looked into leasing this property, however was told it was already sold to developers to build a block of flats. That was however 3 years ago so not sure if that has changed.

The problem is the rent for the shop is so high nobody would ever be able to cope with it, so it’s been dead.



The property occupies a prominent position close to the junction with Market Square. Nearby multiple retailers include Primark, McDonald’s, and William Hill together with many banks, restaurants and bars. (See attached Street Traders Plan extract).

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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 housed the fire engine for a while. But the large upper room was never used for council meetings (making the ‘town hall’ name a misnomer).
“This was demolished in 1933 and replaced with the current neo-tudor buildings.” from london-footsteps.

It replaced a much smaller, more traditional market building in the centre of the square.


The building was sold in November 2018 to CastleForge, who have told us they are planning to make it into a service office building, whereby the rooms can be hired for office use:


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BCS talk: From the Vestry to the Palace – Thurs 21 March

This talk will cover the story of local government in Bromley; the buildings, the architecture and what the future might hold.

from the vestry to the palace (and where next?) - Peter's talk on Thursday

from the vestry to the palace (and where next?) – Peter’s talk on Thursday

The talk will take place at the Parish rooms, Church Road, Bromley BR2 0EG

Thursday 21 March 2019 at 7.30pm

For more information, please see our flyer.


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Bromley Town AAP Update 2019

Bromley Town Area Action Plan – update as at March 2019.

The AAP was drawn up and adopted by Bromley Council in 2010. The plan identifies the following sites in the Town Centre for development. It has been somewhat modified by the Local Plan adopted in 2018.

Site A (Site 2 in the Local Plan): Bromley North station. The site is in several ownerships but mainly Network Rail. The AAP plan is to redevelop the Station and area behind for a mixed use development comprising 525 housing units, 2000sqm offices, 230sqm cafe/retail and unspecified community space. Part of the site is identified as possibly suitable for a tall or taller building. An application for a 23 storey block on one small site was opposed by BCS and refused by Council in 2018. The Council are considering drawing up a Masterplan for the whole area to prevent piecemeal development. The Station building is Grade II listed and would be retained.


Site B: Tweedy Road adjacent to Bromley & Sheppard’s College. A scheme for 72 housing units which complied with the (then emerging AAP) was opposed by BCS and refused by Council on grounds of harm to the setting of the conservation area and listed buildings. The developers of this Council owned land went to appeal and lost. A new scheme, also opposed by BCS because of harm to heritage assets was nevertheless approved by Council and is expected to be built in 2019.

Site C: Old Town Hall, Tweedy Road & Widmore Road and adjacent Car Park – Council owned Proposals for hotel conversion of both Town Hall buildings and flats on the car park was approved by Council but not implemented. Currently the Council are negotiating a sale with a developer for office use.

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.

Site F: Civic Centre (Local Plan Site 1). AAP proposals were relocation of the Pavilion Leisure facilities, housing and retained Council use. Current Local Plan proposals are retained offices, retained car park , 70 housing units including conversion of the 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.

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.

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 earmarked for housing development

Site K: Westmoreland Road. 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.

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

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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.

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No 130 High Street, Paperchase

One of the older buildings in the High Street:

One of the older buildings in the High street; it has fantastic décor – the shop floor ceiling is removed and the first floor has period furniture suspended from the ceiling:

Period furniture and decor of the first floor, suspended.

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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.

brick parade of shops with two stories of pedimented sash windows.

Bromley Manor Parade, in brick Neo-Gothic style.

The first mentions in the business listing of Kelly’s Directory is the 1932 edition.

It is named after Bromley Manor, the site of which is in Church House gardens.  It burnt down in the Blitz, on the 16th April, 1941.  The fire brigade was unable to reach the house as the parish church had also been hit and the broken masonry blocked the road.  The portico survived and is on the front of 3 Ethelbert Road (Bromley Town Church):

fine classic portico with curled column tops

Classical Portico from Bromley Manor (on the front of 3 Ethelbert Road)

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Nos 86-96 High Street, Ravensfell Parade – Heritage Building Profile

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.

pleasing proportioned row of shops with windows above in art deco style

Art Deco parade of shops

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

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


*thanks to BBLHS, Bromleag, June 2009.

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Half Term fun! Do our new Family Heritage Trail !

Have the most amazing time this half term! Do our new family Heritage Treasure Trail around our historic buildings in central Bromley.

No booking required, find us in the Local Studies Centre on the 2nd floor of Bromley Central Library (on the High Street) from 1-4pm.

drawings of the arts-and-science school cupula, shells, and HG Well's time machine.

Half Term fun! Our new family heritage trail!

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H.G. Wells in Bromley

H G Wells is a famous author, writing books such as author of The War Of The Worlds and The Time Machine with prescience.

His father had a shop on the high street, and it was here, on 21 September 1866, that  Herbert George Wells was born. He spent much of his early childhood in the town until he was apprenticed to a draper and left the area.

The shop was later demolised, and is occupied by the Victoria Chambers building, now part of primark.

Unfortunately, HG Wells had a certain amount of contempt for the place he spent his childhood.

H GWells wrote, in a barely legible letter to Mr Heyward, a wealthy local dignitary, in 1934: “Bromley has not been particularly gracious to me nor I to Bromley and I don’t think I want to add the Freedom of Bromley to the Freedom of the City of London and the Freedom of the City of Brissago — both of which I have.”


The letter was found by Brian Philp, director of Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, tucked into an autobiography of H G Wells given to him by the daughter of Mr Heyward in 1986 (to whom it had been sent).

In one of his books, Wells describes the place as a ‘morbid sprawl of population’.

H G Wells  wrote; “I am sorry I do not remember being born…” in his spidery scrawl, on a postcard to contemporary local historian William Baxter, who had apparently been badgering the author for information about growing up in Bromley.


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