The former Magistrates Court was designed in 1939 by the architect C Cowles Voysey and forms part of an identifiable group of public buildings with the Fire Station and the Town Hall complex.
This court replaced an older building that was part of the Old Town Hall buildings on Tweedy Road, in 1909. Reputedly, this court still has two cells underneath it. This 1909 court is due to open as a cafe (when the Old Town Hall is refurbished as an office rental) in 2022
In the Victorian era (and earlier) the court was held in the White Hart Inn on the High Street (the site of the brutalist building containing Top Shop).
In the 1990s this building was replaced by a new (current) Magistrates Court on the junction of Beckenham Lane (demolishing the former Registry Office in the process). This newer building narrowly survived being redundant only five years later:
Newsshopper 24th October 2001 “The five-year-old court building was poised to be mothballed under plans drawn up by the Greater London Magistrates’ Court Authority (GLMCA) which threatened to close 29 out of the 40 courts in outer London. The radical shake-up highlighted the possibility of the borough’s villains and victims having to travel to Croydon to attend court“
Now the building was redundant, after 60 years of use, the old courts were turned into a centre for voluntary and community activity “The Council granted a lease in 2000 to a new charitable body to manage the building for the benefit of the community, and so Bromley Voluntary Sector Trust (BVST) and Community House Bromley were born.” (from Community House website, at https://communityhousebromley.org.uk/about-us/history/)
The art deco building contains some attractive features, and a decorated doorway for the Judge’s Entrance. Courts normally have a separate entrance for the judiciary.
A couple of quotes from social media:
“the court was formally a registry office where David Bowie got married to Angie Bowie and him and Angie and his Mother had their photo taken outside and then crossed the road to celebrate at the white swan just across the road from in 1970“. Jane Reggiani in 2020 (about the current Magistrate’s Court)
“I moved all the old courts to these new ones whilst working on Removals. Bloody hard work all them filing cabinets and office equipment😁” Peter Tribe in 2020