Beckenham in old picture postcards volume 1

Beckenham in old picture postcards volume 1

Author
:   Muriel V. Searle
Municipality
:   Beckenham
Province
:   Greater London
Country
:   United Kingdom
ISBN13
:   978-90-288-4541-1
Pages
:   80
Price
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2-3 weeks (subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.

   


Fragments from the book 'Beckenham in old picture postcards volume 1'

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29. Kings Hall Road, a good example of the middle bracket of early town housing, neither mansions nor cottages, but good solid family homes. Owners like these were not rich, but eould nevertheless afford certain assets outside the reaeh of the shopkeeper and artisan classes, like a maid-of-all-work (sometimes spoken of simply as The Woman, without even a surname, by a patronising mistress); or perhaps a governess to teach sueh added refinements as music, poetry , painting, needlework, embroidery or dancing. Local papers between about 1870 and 1930 were a1ways full of advertisements for sueh tutors, giving addresses in the betterroads of Beekenham. These non- academie subjeets were known as accomplishments and taught mainly to young ladies in the making.

30. This long road running in the direction of West Wiekham - as its name implies -looks strangely unfamiliar in its emptiness. It typifies the common conception of residential Beckenham as a well-bred, moneyed district of comfortably placed business and professional men, needing large houses with room for servants as wen as famîly. Like simîlar roads in Sydenham and Norwood, this area became desirabie after the rebuilding of the Crystal Palace on Sydenham Hill, attraeting the better classes by its initital dedication as a centre of the arts and sciences.

31. Beckenharn looked like this a mere sixty years or so ago: a placid Kentish village surrounded by rieh meadows with limpid streams, and rolling hills. Though romanticised, this picture speaks much truth. The background range may represent the great wooded ridges of Sydenham, away from the Crystal Palace, seen from the pastoral meadows of either Elmers End or what is now New Beckenham. This idyllic scene recalls a description of 1892: 'The air is pure and fresh, and free from the smoke and dust with which that of London is surcharged.' The village was equally rural: 'A cleanly appearance, and the abundance of foliage, verdant lawns, and gardens glowing with bright colours give the whole scene a very fresh, lively and inviting tone.'

32. This peaceful country house is simply described as being in Bromley Road, Beckenham, probably near the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The idyllic scene gives no hint of the suburbia to come, swallowing innumerable pretty villages whose only mistake was to be set too near London. As late as 1875 it could be said: 'The neighbourhood is ... still agreeable: it abounds in trees, the surface is undulating, and there are tempting field and lane walks to Bromley, Hayes and Wickham.' Indeed, when one side of Queen Anne Avenue at Shortlands was built in 1930, the opposite side was still so open that newly-wed residents could leave their garden gates and walk through open country to West Wickham; a situation thatlasted only two or three more years. Thereafter, Shortlands suburbia linked to Bromley suburbia and that of Beckenham: a process repeated at EImers End, Langley, New Beckenham, Eden Park; indeed, wherever there was even one more meadow available.

1009'3 OlD CLO

33. Clock House today is just a station name and a nondescript district between Beckenham and Penge; but this was the placid place responsible for these names on the modern map. The namesake clock crowned a range of stables near the site of an older house, and was owned by one of the ubiquitous Cators; a magnificent mature magnolia dimbed up one wall, increasing the air of an English country mansion. The house did not survive the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Two fragments of Clock House did remain; a fine double tiered fountain from the lake, placed in a smaller pond in Croydon Road Recreation Ground; and the pretty little clock tower itself, taken from the stables by the Cator family in 1896 and added to a similarrange ofbuildings at Beckenham Place (now a golf course), placed to crown the roof of the mellow old block facing the formal gardens.

34. This eard is eaptioned vaguely 'Near Bromley, Kent', but the general character suggests the unsuburbanised Rivet Ravensbourne on the Beokenham side of that town - probably somewhere between Shortlands and Southend; the river would have beert mueh narrower above Bromley. Up to the rnid-1920s local people could walk or cycle from either town, all the way to Catford through this exquisite pastoral valley, seeing only fields but for the occasion al inn and the tiny hamlet of Southend (at the extreme south end of Catford) . All this loveliness was transformed into suburbia in the later 1910s and early 19308; the river, of course, still flows, but culverted under some roads, canalised bebind back gardens or, even when it crosses sports grounds, dug down and more formalised. The Ravensboume in this dream of a picture has gene for ever.

VIEW FRO"" CHURCH TOWER, BECKENHAM.

35. From the top of Beckenham Church tower one would hardly expect to see open fields today, nor the fabulous Crystal Palace. Before modern flying, the high lying Palace grounds were much used by balloonists, aseending before vast crowds of onlookers, drifting silently off over Beckenham. Most of Beckenham's small population rushed outside when on 21st August 1886 four men in a basket dangling under a majestic balloon, flying from Woolwich to the Palace, scarcely cleared the cottage roofs, so low that greetings could be shouted to them. Finally the balloon flopped to earth in a brickfield at Kent House, after helplessly circling Bromley in unfriendly wind currents, Mr. Bocock, manager of the Crystal Palace gasworks, hurried to Kent House to safely drain off the gas befere carting the balloon away. Beokeuham village rarely saw excitement as this.

36. Each London suburb initially developed out of a separate village, eventually alllinked into a single sprawl, but only during the past century. Even inner areas like Camberwell or Clapham emerged this way; Beckenham, farther out, took longer to lose its country origins; not during the first main suburb-building boom, but in the second, from about 1925 to 1935. Here is a delicious remaining footpath, as it stilliooked in about 1909. 'Until comparatively recent times there was scarcely even a village in Beckenharn " it was said not long before this picture was taken. Here the wide Langley estate sets the geography of a long-lost scene; covering a vast 3,202 acres, it ran from Ham Farm (namesake of this foothpath) and Monks Orchard on one side to Beckenham centre and even onwards towards Bromley.

The Abbey, Beck enham. Dining Hall.

37. Beckenham, Iike Bickley, developed the 'posh' character of the VictorianlEdwardian suburb of money and fashion. It had many huge houses employing several servants, and running one or more carriages. Such families wanted the best of snob-appeal schools for their children, especially sons, and various expensive private establishments soon appeared. Chief of these was The Abbey, described in 1892 as the biggest and best private school in Kent. Placed near Beckenham Junction, it was founded in 1866 by the Reverend Lloyd Phillips. Boys had private dormitory cubicles, and even a carpentry shop. There was a separate sanatorium with isolation unit, for even in the best areas typhoid, diphtheria and cholera were not yet stamped out. The lavishly appointed dining room seen here resembles an Oxford college hall, housing many pictures and also the school's array of sporting trophies,

T'lu: Abbey', Becl.cntuun, Ist .? Gal/!(' h, tl-all V/dJ.

38. A gentleman's son's schooling included developing a cultured accent, a sense of superiority, and learning to 'Play The Game'. The Abbey School encouraged the latter with outstanding sports facilities, It boasted nine acres of grounds, plus a cricket club and private swimming pool. Compared with Elementary and Board Schools attended by ordinary children, who might be turned away if unable to produce their weekly penny (lIJp) fee, and where learning was based mainly on the Three R's, The Abbey came nearer to a public school. Indeed, many boys went on to Eton, Harrow, Winchester or Rugby; or to Oxford, or into naval officer courses.

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