New Virtual Tour – A visit to Bromley Palace and Park!

Bromley Palace
The Bishop’s Palace, Bromley

Join us for a close look at the 18th century Bromley Palace, now the nerve centre of Bromley Council – we’ll also ‘walk’ around the secluded Park behind the Palace

The 18th century Bromley Palace was the Georgian home of the Bishops of Rochester. It was transformed in 1845 to the home of Victorian entrepreneur Coles-Child. Now we know it as part of the Civic Centre and is the nerve centre of Bromley Council.Inside we will see the magnificent grand staircase, carved oak panels, Robert Adams fireplace, Mayor’s parlour and the Council’s Cabinet room.The online ‘walk’ will also take in the secluded Park behind the Palace where we’ll see the St Blaise Well, the Pulham Rocks, the Ice House, Ha Ha and Victorian folly.The virtual visit will take the form of a Zoom meeting led by members of the Bromley Civic Society.  If you want to join the ‘walk’ please register for Eventbrite tickets by clicking the button below.

Click here to get free tickets

We like to ‘pass the hat’ after our walks but if you want to donate something now just click here

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Comments on the Supplementary Planning Document consultation

oval of proposed high-rises compared with oval of nicer ones
comparison of proposed overbearing designs with nicer modern developments (as built in Kent this year)

This summer the council has run a consultation to decide whether to issue supplementary planning guidance for Bromley and Orpington town centres.

The consultation was run by Commonplace and closed 5th October 2020. You can view the comments people made by clicking the [View Comments] button at the bottom of each theme’s page: overview.

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2020 BROOMTIME IN BROMLEY

Broom bushes on hillside covered in flowers
This year’s broom flowers on Martins Hill parkland

Here’s the first of the articles from our August 2020 newsletter, the full contents of which, has been sent to members. Please support our work to promote and save our heritage, by joining the town’s civic society – a snip at £10 a household. 


Thank goodness for our wonderful Town Centre Parks which have offered such a respite from the lockdown! 

Albeit that they’ve been a bit overwhelmed at times by people with nowhere else to go.  

Martin’s Hill (pictured here) was ablaze with colour from our namesake flowering shrub, the Broom from mid April to late May.  The grassland is a rare example of acid grassland. It is good to see how good it looks after the work to clear invasive bushes.

Queens Mead took on something of a festival air reminiscent of Victorian and Edwardian times when it was the venue for fairs, circuses and fetes. In those times, too, enjoyment of our open spaces was a fundamental part of a visit to Bromley. In recent times they have been almost forgotten but now is the time to reinvent what Bromley is all about and rediscover the significance of our precious green space heritage.

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Join BCS (and calling all existing members!)

If you care about Bromley and its heritage and green spaces, please support us by joining the Society. Membership per household is only £10 per year. You can join or renew your membership either by visiting our membership portal. or by sending a cheque with a letter giving your full name, postal address, where possible your email address, and a contact telephone number to the Membership Secretary, 3 Hayes Road, Bromley BR2 9AF.

Joining will mean that you receive our regular newsletter emails, and help fund our efforts to save our historic town centre being dominated by tower blocks.

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The (not) Protected View from Queens Mead and S2 /Churchill Quarter Developments

high rises tower above the trees
Proposed buildings ruin the protected view from Queens Mead

The view of the town centre – or rather the trees – from Queens Mead and the railway line, is protected.

Two developments will ruin this view : the S2 application to put 16 storeys in place of the former Maplins neo-georgian shop [planning here] and Churchill Quarter [planning here]. Please write and object to these so we do not loose the lovely view our council is supposed to protect.

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Robert Dyas – a surprise Bromley resident

victorian gentleman with fine moustache
Robert Dyas

It has been good to welcome a branch of Robert Dyas now open in Bromley High Street and even more so since it has been discovered by staff at the Local Studies Library that Robert Dyas lived for the last 30 years of his life in Blyth Road, just off Beckenham Lane, in the Town Centre.    

Please object to the development, here at planning reference no : 19/04183 1, Blyth Road, Bromley BR1 3RS
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Write and Stop This Tower Block – we want our neo-Georgian shop to stay

S2 Estates have put in an application for a 16 storey tower on the site of the former Maplins store.  Their supporting statement said that they felt it would help locals find the High Street.

lovely neo-georgian shop
66-70 High Street, lovely example of a Neo Georgian Shop

This 1932 neo-Georgian shop is one of only 2 buildings considered good enough to be worth saving in the proposed Master plan of the lower high street.

This proposal is much higher than the surrounding buildings (16 storeys compared with 2 or 4) , overbearing, and will stick out for miles around (being on the ridge top). 

This area already suffers from inadequate infrastructure – shortage of GPs, overcrowded stations – and these units would be better built on sites that are walking distance from one of the other 16 railway stations in the borough.  

S2 Estates have ignored the feedback from their public consultation and pushed ahead with their over-sized development. 

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Picturehouse is new home for rescued Art Deco Screens

coloured ray screen
Restored Art Deco screen, from Widmore Road co-op, at The PIcturehouse Cinema

“Look out in the new Picturehouse Cafe for the Art Deco screens from the former Co-op in Widmore Road.

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“Picture Perfect Day” our heritage walks, in the words of a lady on the street…

two people in costume in front of georgian building
Jane and Peter leading a guided Walk at the BIshops Palace


On Saturday 22nd June I lined up outside Boots in The Glades more out of curiosity than anything else, as a lifelong resident of the borough of Bromley I figured there wasn’t much I didn’t already know.

How wrong I was, and what an absolutely fantastic day I experienced, along with at least 25 or 30 other folk. Our two hosts for the morning tour entitled ‘Bromley Palace and Park’ were clad in Victorian suits and hats and provided entertaining and illuminating information about aspects of Bromley previously unknown to me, and I’m sure others were equally surprised and delighted.

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Write To Stop Sell-Off of more Public Heritage Open Space

The site is part of the Bishop of Rochester’s Palace Park which is the setting of 6 listed buildings

stone and flint mini tower with arched window
To Be LOST: the stone-and-flint folly from the Bishops Palace – made with fragments found in the Moat during restoration work in the 19th Century

Please write and object to this sale to :David Mark Bowen, Director of Corporate Services, LB Bromley, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH  or email it to : mark.bowen@bromley.gov.uk    Mark it Proposed sale of land at Bromley Civic Centre  and include your name address and postcode otherwise it will not be accepted.  Don’t be put off by this mad deadline !:  Copies to the Ward Councillors and BCS would be welcome.
CllrNicky.Dykes@bromley.gov.uk   William.Harmer@bromley.gov.uk   Michael.Rutherford@bromley.gov.uk
chair@bromleycivicsociety.org.uk

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Don’t Clutter Market Square

We like our Market Square with enough open space for our market – If you want to continue to have our market in Market Square, find a moment to object to this planning proposal 19_00241: https://searchapplications.bromley.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=PLEVE4BTJHM00

The Garden Shed style additions to Market Square
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Broom time – Heritage Event

The annual flowering of the shrub, from which Bromley takes its name, takes place on Martin’s Hill mid April to the end of May and we recommend all visitors and locals to witness this event of living history so fundamental to the heritage of Bromley Town.

Tony Banfield, Chair of Bromley Civic Society Heritage officer – The Friends of Bromley Town Parks
Yellow flowered bush on hillside, with war memorial obelisk behind.

Just two minutes walk from Market Square along Church Road behind Primark, Bromley’s name- sake shrub burst into spectacular bloom on Martin’s Hill. The name ‘Bromley’ is from the Anglo Saxon ‘Bromleag’ or ‘Broomleigh’ literally meaning Broom meadow.

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Churchill Quarter Planning Application

The planning application for the “Churchill Quarter” development in Bromley town centre has now been submitted (planning reference: 18/02181).

The development, adjacent to library gardens, is a co-development with the Council providing the land and Countryside Properties responsible for building and operations.

Before and after images showing the effect of the development can be seen on the right.

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North Street Demolished – The Parish School

The Parish school, then known as the National School, was built on the corner of North Street and College Road, in 1854.  The building was especially designed for it, by the eminent architect James Piers St Aubyn, who also designed the romantic additions to Saint Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

It was locally listed and, protected as a key building in a Conservation Area but nevertheless in 1987 the Council offered it to the Methodist Church to relocate from their existing site which the Council wanted for what was to become the Glades shopping centre. Thus, it was demolished.

The old National School was a successor to the Bromley Charity School that started in 1717, in an old gravel pit that’s now covered by the south corner of Bromley South station.  The children of the working or middle classes were not normally educated in that day and age, so it was remarkable that the Bishop of Rochester (they were Lords of the Manor of Bromley) funded 10 boys, and (surprisingly), 10 girls.  This attitude of not educating poorer people changed with the Elementary Education act of 1880 requiring all children to be schooled,  

According to HG Wells, funding these school places was in opposition to the great and the good of the Vestry (who ran the town until it became incorporated in 1901 with a Local Board), as it was

 “achieved against considerable resistance. There was a strong objection in those days to the use of public funds for the education of “other people’s children”, and he continues to say that the school offered

 “a mere foundation of an education that saw to the children up to the age of thirteen or even fourteen, and no further.”

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Widmore Road Demolished – Homeopathy Hospital

Homeopathy was a popular treatment in Bromley, starting in 1865  when part of the White Hart Inn was opened as a homeopathic dispensary, and when it outgrew this accommodation,  Bromley’s first homeopathic hospital opened in 1889 at 19 Widmore Road.  This backed onto White Hart Field (part of which is now Queens Gardens).

“When a new homeopathic hospital was under discussion, the Lord of the Manor, Coles Child, presented White Hart Field to Bromley in 1897, part given for the hospital and the rest laid out as a public recreation ground.”

“Phillips Homeopathic Hospital had opened in 1900, was enlarged further in 1907, but it was bombed in WWII by a direct hit and although it temporarily became a home for homeless people, escalating costs meant that it was eventually demolished in 1951.”

With the recreation ground next door, patients had used what was then called Victoria Gardens, but now renamed to Queens Gardens, during their convalescence.

* London Gardens Trust: from https://londongardenstrust.org/conservation/inventory/site-record/?ID=BRO061

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Reminices – Gaumont Cinema by Adrian

An extract from Adrian’s contribution to the memories on the Havelock Rec in 2018, he writes:

“On Saturday mornings many of us attended the Gaumont cinema at Bromley South where, for sixpence, we would sing popular songs before watching features like Zorro, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and Dick Barton – Special Agent.  At one time we had yoyo championships on stage and my pal Pete Gilbert, another Raglan Road pupil, won a dart board and I won a cricket bat which I still have.”

There’s more about the Gaumont cinema, on the lower “Broadway” part of the High Street, in our page High Street No. _44, the former Gaumont Cinema – Heritage Building Profile

Gaumont Cinema on high street
The Gaumont in it’s heyday years
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Reminices – Weeks Ironmongery by Peter

An extract from Peter’s contribution to the memories on the Havelock Rec, he writes:

“I had a regular delivery (of broken coke) to the lady next door at No 109 Homesdale Road, called Mrs Stokes. Her husband was the manager of a large Ironmongers in the High Street called Weeks. Manager or not, he still had to come in the house through the back door AFTER HE HAD CHANGED INTO HIS SLIPPERS AND CLEANED HIS SHOES FOR THE FOLLOWING MORNING. But she was very kind to me. I still remember her giving me a lovely shiny Half a Crown for my birthday in 1943  I dropped it between the floor boards when we were hiding in the cupboard under the stairs. My parents continued to live there until my mother died. Then I moved my father to live near me in Crawley, and he sold the house to a Mr Hennesey in 1986 – I often wondered if he found my half Crown.”

There’s more about Weeks ironmongery, on the north part of the High Street, in our page High Street No. 206 Diners Inn formerly George Weeks ironmongery

gable-topped mid-3-storey terrace, civic pride era shop with green tiles.
Diners Inn at 106 High Street, originally Weeks & Sons, by Paul Ylaes

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High Street No. 111 – Heritage Building

Number 111 is Tweed cottage. This modest 2-storey building marked the southern most end of the High street until the railway came, in 1858.

Since then, this Georgian building has been Barclays Bank, before becoming Tiger shop, selling arts and crafts materials.

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Supplementary Planning Document consultation: ‘The Future of Bromley Town Centre’

oval of proposed high-rises compared with oval of nicer ones
comparison of proposed overbearing designs with nicer modern developments (all those developments are in Kent, selling houses in 2020)

This summer the council had a consultation for drawing up a supplementary planning documents for Bromley (and Orpington) town centres.

These guidelines could determine the appearance and height of future developments.

The documents add to, but not change, the policies in the Bromley Local Plan (Local Plans are enforceable 10-year building programmes) .

The responses can be looked at, at the consultation website by Commonplace, here. Under each theme, you press the [Comments] button to see what people said. The consultation closed on the 5th October 2020.

We would like to see it result in appealing good quality, locality-specific proposals in future rather than the androgynous high rises already put forward.

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Online HG Wells Tour: Saturday 19 September 10.30am

Join us for an online tour of HG Wells’ Bromley

A video tour around Victorian Bromley where HG Wells (Bertie) grew up. Members of Bromley Civic Society, dressed in period costume, will speak the words from his Autobiography where he describes the sights and places he knew as a child.

See his birthplace, his first school, the park where he played and imagined great battles and other places in the town during its Victorian hey-day

To be Premiered on Bromley Civic Society’s YouTube Channel: https://bit.ly/BCSYouTubeChannel

10:30am Saturday 19th September 2020.

During the Premier you will be able to chat online with the walk leaders. If you miss the Premier don’t worry, the video will still be available to view at anytime on YouTube.

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Bromley Town Centre consultation: Bulletin No.2 –‘Have your say on your Local Area’

oval of proposed high-rises compared with oval of nicer ones
comparison of proposed overbearing designs with nicer modern developments

At Bromley Civic Society, we think it is important that we all take part in this Consultation.  To assist you in making your contribution we are producing a series of Bulletins on each of the Themes in the Consultation to meet the deadline of 5th October 2020.

The purpose of the new Planning Guidance is to add to but not change the policies and proposals in the Bromley Local Plan that was adopted in 2019 (Local Plans are enforceable ten-year building programmes) .

On our website here: http://bit.ly/howtomakecomments there is a detailed explanation of how to use the ‘Commenting’ and the ‘Thumbs up’ procedure.  For a simple way in, follow the steps below.

When you Save your comments, you will be asked to confirm your email address.  You can make further comments later. Remember to find those emails and click on their links!

Have your say on your local area 

‘Have your say on your local area’ enables you to place a pin on a Bromley Town Centre map and make a comment about a specific site or place and say what you would like to see there.

First click on 
https://bromleytowncentre.commonplace.is/ then ‘
Have Your Say’, then 
‘Have your say on your local area’ then 
‘Have your say‘ again (top right) 

Place the pin‘ in the location (on the map) you’re commenting on. Click ‘Ok got it‘ and drag the pin to the place on the map where you wish to make a comment.
When the pin has been placed, fill in boxes on the left to say where it is and what it is. 
There are further boxes to click and finally a box for ‘Do you have further comments’
Remember to Save when you’ve finished 

BCS suggests that the places listed below are among those that may merit some comment.  The list is by no means comprehensive and you will probably want to add further places.
Church House Gardens – any development to the south (Churchill Qtr, Site 10 in Local Plan) should be limited in height to reduce impact on the open space and the Conservation Area
Bromley North Station – any development to the north of the station (Site 2 in the Local Plan) should be limited in height to reduce impact on the Conservation Area
High Street – more greenery and planting possible green walls to soften the impact of unsightly buildings
Picturehouse Cinema, High Street north – cinema should be protected from development and excluded from Site 3 Hill Car Park, in the Local Plan (which plans to replace it with housing)  
former Maplins building (cnr of High Street and Ethelbert Road) – this building contributes to the character of the High Street and should be protected from development 
former Gaumont cinema building (now Dreams and Wilko in the High Street on the corner of Ravensourne Road) – this building contributes to the character of the High Street and should be protected from development
Laura Ashley building, cnr of High Street and Ringers Road) and adjoining neo-Georgian terrace (54-60 High Street) – these buildings contribute to the attractiveness and character of the High Street and should be protected from development 
Bromley North Station – plant trees in forecourt in front of the listed station building
Market Square (and elsewhere) – Heritage Interpretation Panels to provide a public heritage information display about nearby historic buildings  
Bromley North Village – improve tree planting throughout the area.

Editor’s Note: This consultation is about what future development of the town centre will look like. It cannot be used to change the amount of future housing that will be built. It can change what it looks like and how high it is.

We would like to see it result in appealing good quality, locality-specific proposals in future rather than the androgynous high rises already put forward.

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