History of the Bromley area

Bromley timeline 1860 – 2000

The last 140 years have been a time of great change so we have only listed some of the most significant events.

  • 1860 Joynson's paper mill in St. Mary Cray adapted to produce paper for stamps and bank notes. Chislehurst water tower built. Cray Wanderers football club founded. Still in existence and currently playing at Bromley, it is claimed to be the second oldest in the world.
  • 1864 St. George's Church, Bickley and Bromley Baptist churches built.
  • 1865 Bromley's first weekly newspaper, the Telegraph is published.
  • 1866 H G Wells born at 47 (now 172) High Street, Bromley. Primark is now on the site. St. Paul's Church, Anerley built. Beckenham Cricket Club founded. Metropolitan Association for the improvement of dwellings constructs Alexandra cottages in Beckenham.
  • 1867 "Little Tich" music hall star, born at the Blacksmith's Arms Cudham.
  • 1868 St. Mary's church Shortlands built.
  • 1869 Ruins of Simpson's Place swept away.
  • 1870 Coles Child, Lord of the Manor of Bromley dies. Emperor Napoleon III of France arrives in exile at Camden Place Chislehurst. Annunciation church, Chislehurst built.
  • 1872 Calls for police traffic control after an increase in accidents at Uridge's corner, Market Square. Christ Church, Chislehurst built. Ladywood, first house in Petts Wood built. Kemnal Manor sold by New College, Oxford to Samuel Asser. Drill Hall opens in East Street, Bromley, now the Philatelist and Firkin pub. Penge Police Station opens. Currently South London's oldest working station.
  • 1873 Jail Inn, Biggin Hill opens. Building was formerly used as temporary housing for prisoners on their way to Maidstone Jail. Emperor Napoleon dies at Chislehurst.
  • 1875 Gadsden House, Hayes built.
  • 1876 Christ Church, Beckenham built. Chislehurst Windmill pulled down.
  • 1877 Mottingham board school opens.
  • 1878 Martin's Hill, bought by the town and turned into a public park. Holy Trinity Church, Beckenham built. Foxgrove Farm, successor to the manor house pulled down.
  • 1879 St. James church, Elmers End built. F. Medhurst opens his first shop in Bromley High Street. Penge Vestry Hall opens. Now Anerley Town Hall.
  • 1880 St. John's Church, Park Road, Bromley opens.
  • 1882 Ivy bridge disaster. 7 workmen killed when a bridge over the railway at Bromley South collapses. Charles Darwin dies at Down House. Beckenham Public Hall built.
  • 1883 Bromley High School opens.
  • 1884 Beckenham Lodge demolished. "The Club" established in Beckenham.
  • 1885 Beckenham parish church rebuilt. Langley Court Mansion built.
  • 1886 Local unemployed men march through Bromley. Christ Church, Bromley built.
  • 1887 Aberdeen Buildings erected in the High Street. St.Lukes church, Bromley Common built
  • 1888 Holy Trinity School moves to Freelands. St. Paul's Church, Crofton opens.
  • 1889 Valley School Shortlands and Raglan Road School, Bromley Common open. Phillips Memorial Hospital opens at the junction of Park Road and Widmore Lane (Road)
  • 1892 Bromley Football Club founded. First Penge library opens.
  • 1893 St. Andrew's church, Orpington built.
  • 1894 Bromley Council set up. William Willett, proposer of daylight saving arrives in Chislehurst.
  • 1895 Riot at the Plough Inn, Bromley Common. FA Cup final held at the Crystal Palace for the first time.
  • 1896 Clock House, Beckenham demolished.
  • 1897 Bromley Post Office built. Scarlet fever epidemic hits Bromley. Wickham Hall built. Blackbrook House destroyed by fire. Queen's Gardens, Bromley open.
  • 1898 Bell Inn Bromley demolished, replaced by the Royal Bell Hotel. St. Mark's Church, Bromley opens.
  • 1899 Beckenham Technical Institute built. Now the Studio arts centre. Central Exchange built in Penge.
  • 1900 Penge Council established and the town is transferred to Kent, beginning 65 years of autonomy. Emily Dowling of Neelgheries dies leaving the house and garden to the council. The Churchill Theatre, Central Library and gardens were made possible by this bequest.
  • 1902 Beckenham baths opened.
  • 1906 Original Central Library built.
  • 1907 The Municipal Buildings open in Tweedy Road as headquarters for the new borough council. Down House becomes a school.
  • 1909 Fox's brewery, Green Street Green closes causing severe unemployment in the area.
  • 1910 Bromley fire station built. Bromley Grammar School for Girls opens in Nightingale Lane, now the Widmore adult education centre.
  • 1911 E W Payne, jewellers established in the Market Square. Palace Cinema, Orpington, later the Carlton opens. Farrington's School opens. Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace. Crystal Palace Company goes bankrupt.
  • 1912 Marks and Spencer open their Penny Bazaar and David Greig's their new shop in the Market Square. Eltham College opens at Fairy Hall, Mottingham.
  • 1913 Balgowan School, Beckenham opens. Langley House destroyed by fire.
  • 1914 Buses begin to run between Bromley and Penge. Ivor Novello moves to Biggin Hill. Bromley Police Station opens in Widmore Road.
  • 1915 First bus service to Biggin Hill begins. William Willett dies in Chislehurst. W.G. Grace dies in Mottingham. Penge Empire opens.
  • 1916 Ontario military hospital opened. Now Orpington Hospital.
  • 1919 Maple Road market established to help ex-servicemen. Beckenham County School for Girls opens in Lennard Road. Wellcome Research Laboratories move to Langley Court.
  • 1921 Kelsey manor demolished.
  • 1922 Down House School closes. Porcupine Inn, Mottingham rebuilt.
  • 1925 Bromley North station rebuilt. Southlands Lido opens.
  • 1926 Orpington by-pass constructed. Most local railways electrified. St. David's College, West Wickham opens.
  • 1927 Petts Wood bought by National Trust and Willett memorial unveiled. Down House bought by the British Association for the Advancement of Science and turned into a museum.
  • 1928 Petts Wood station built. Christian Science Church, Widmore Road built. Bob Monkhouse born in Beckenham.
  • 1929 Park Langley (Chinese) Garage built.
  • 1930 Mayfield, formerly Little Orpington Manor demolished. Regal Cinema, Beckenham opens. West Wickham national school closes. Beckenham and Penge Grammar School opens.
  • 1931 Joynson's paper mill in St. Mary Cray closes. Wickham Hall demolished. Bromley House demolished. Buckston Browne Research Station built next to Down House by the Royal College of Surgeons.
  • 1932 Beckenham Town Hall built on old rectory site. Marks and Spencer move to their present site in Bromley.
  • 1933 Old Town Hall demolished and the Market Square redeveloped. The Thursday market moves to Bromley North. Commodore Cinema, Orpington and Plaza, West Wickham, open. Baston School, Hayes founded.
  • 1934 Woolworth's arrives in Orpington. Closure of Bromley Union workhouse at Lock's Bottom and gradual conversion into a hospital. Hayes Place demolished.
  • 1935 Stockwell College moves to Bromley Palace and extends it. Daylight Inn at Petts Wood opens as a hotel. New Inn, Hayes rebuilt. LCC Mottingham estate begun.
  • 1936 Crystal Palace burns down. Morphy Richards founded in an Orpington oast house originally manufacturing gramophone needles. Odeon and Gaumont cinemas open in Bromley and the Embassy in Petts Wood. Town Court farm succumbs to development.
  • 1937 Chislehurst Library opens. Odeon, Penge opens.
  • 1938 First plans for the Sevenoaks Way industrial area.
  • 1939 Tip Top bakery arrives in St. Mary Cray. Beckenham Central Library opens. Odeon, Elmers End opens.
  • 1940 East Hill, Orpington destroyed by a wartime bomb. Charles de Gaulle arrives at Petts Wood in exile after the fall of France.
  • 1941 Severe bombing raids in Bromley. 5 churches including the ancient parish church destroyed in one night. Church House and Dunn's also destroyed.
  • 1944 A V1 destroys Richard's dining rooms, Beckenham during the lunch hour killing 44 people.
  • 1945 Ivy Millichamp of Orpington becomes the last civilian casualty of the Second World War after her home in Kynaston Road is hit by a V2 rocket. Future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan becomes MP for Bromley. Orpington Historical Society is formed.
  • 1946 The Rookery, Bromley Common destroyed by fire. Basil Scruby, founder of Petts Wood dies. Hayes branch library opens in the old rectory.
  • 1947 The Priory is acquired by Orpington council.
  • 1949 Orpington Junior Singers founded. Penge Empire becomes the Essoldo cinema.
  • 1956 Ramsden Boy's School Orpington built. Iron age remains found when digging the foundations. Bark Hart house Orpington demolished. Odeon, Hayes closes. Hayes School opens at Gadsden.
  • 1957 Odeon, West Wickham (former Plaza) and Elmers End close.
  • 1958 David Bowie joins Bromley Technical High School, Keston. (Now Ravenswood) Caters, Bromley's first supermarket opens in Market Square on the site of the ancient Bull inn.
  • 1959 Carlton Cinema, Orpington closes. Wilberforce Oak at Holwood is blown down. Beckenham County School for Girls moves to Langley Park, the site of the ancient mansion.
  • 1960 Chislehurst Cinema closes. Chislehurst Rectory demolished. Former Penge Empire demolished.
  • 1961 New Orpington Library opens at the Priory. Gaumont Cinema closes.
  • 1963 Chislehurst water tower demolished. Sainsbury's Beckenham converts to self service.
  • 1964 Kemnal Manor destroyed by fire. National Sports Centre opens in Crystal Palace Park.
  • 1965 London Borough of Bromley formed from Bromley and Beckenham boroughs, Orpington and Penge urban districts and Chislehurst.
  • 1967 High Elms House burns down. St. Christopher's Hospice opens in Beckenham.
  • 1968 St Olave's School moves to Orpington. Bromley Lodge demolished. Ancient West Wickham stocks tree blown down. Mottingham Library opens.
  • 1969 Original Central Library demolished. Beckenham and Penge Grammar School moves to a new site and is renamed Langley Park School for boys. David Bowie founds the Beckenham Arts Lab in a back room at the Three Tuns pub. Richmal Crompton, children's author and resident of Chislehurst dies.
  • 1970 The Mall shopping centre opens.
  • 1971 New Theatre destroyed by fire.
  • 1972 Desmond Tutu, future Archbishop of Cape Town arrives in Bromley to become a director of the Theological Education fund and becomes an honorary curate of St. Augustine's Church. West Wickham Swimming baths open.
  • 1973 Embassy Cinema, Petts Wood closes. Charles Darwin School, Biggin Hill opens.
  • 1974 Bromley Local History Society founded.
  • 1975 Walnuts Leisure Centre opens.
  • 1976 Odeon, Penge closes.
  • 1977 New Bromley Central Library and Churchill Theatre opens.
  • 1979 St. John Rigby School, West Wickham opens.
  • 1980 Stockwell College closes. Medhurst's department store becomes Allders. Dunn's of Bromley closes. Scadbury House burns down.
  • 1981 Biggin Hill library opens.
  • 1982 Bromley Council move to the old palace and create the Civic Centre. Commodore Cinema, Orpington closes.
  • 1985 Kentish Way opens.
  • 1986 Mural to commemorate H G Wells painted in the Market Square.
  • 1987 Great storm hits Bromley. Many trees uprooted and buildings damaged.
  • 1988 Sainsbury's moves from the Mall to Walter's Yard.
  • 1989 United Reformed Church is rebuilt in Widmore Road, old site swallowed by the Glades shopping centre. Churchill Insurance opens in Bromley.
  • 1991 Glades shopping centre and the Pavilion leisure centre open in Bromley.
  • 1992 Beckenham Town Hall demolished and Marks and Spencer built to replace it. Kentish Way, phase 2 opens. RAF Biggin Hill closes. Lord Ted Willis, author and resident of Chislehurst dies.
  • 1995 Tesco, Elmers End opens. Glaxo Welcome end research at Langley Court.
  • 1996 New Magistrate's Court opens
  • 1999 Spa Leisure Centre opens in Beckenham. Littlewoods, Bromley closes.
  • 2000 C & A, Bromley closes. Croydon Tramlink opens. Magistrate's Court in South Street reopens as "Community House"