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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39. Balgowan in about 1916. This and several other names on the map derived from the Boer War, which was taking place at about the time that these roads were built. The name BaIgowan came from the town of Balgowan, near Pietermaritzburg. The adjoining Belmant Raad was named after Belmont, south of Kimberley, notable for a major battle fought in 1899. Durban Road again recalled the Boer War, this being the mam entry port for British troops ferried across from the India of the Raj. Colesburg Raad took its title from Colesberg (spelled with an 'e' instead of 'u'), situated in Cape Province.

40. Queen's Mead lies 'on the wrong side of the railway', technically within Brornley by a whisker; but it is still locally regarded as definitely Shortlands, while the background hill is definitely part of Bromley. All these noble trees died of Dutch elm disease in the 19708. The pretty River Ravensboume was harshly canalised after tbe savage 1968 flood oost many of us part of our bornes; the rustic bridge, by then replaced by spiked railings, was again replaced, this time by concrete. Near bere long trestle tables were laid out for a buge outdoor party of Sbortlands children to celebrate Edward VII's coronation. Old residents recaU tbe strangely unchildlike rbyme they leamed to sing: We'll all be merry! Drinking whisky, wine and sherry] On Coronation dayl On Coronation Day.

41. Though this view of about 1915 is captioned Bromley, and taken from there, nearly all the scenery below lies in Shortlands (middle fields), Clay Hili (centre trees) or Beokenham (distance), with the Crystal Palace on the skyline. Even though much building happened in the 1920s and 1930s, and a minor spate of flat building more recently, the general appearance of the view today is not far removed from that meeting the eye of the man in a straw hat. H.G. WelIs as a boy sat up here, looking over the strearn he only loosely disguised as the Ravensbrook in "The New Machiavelli' , running towards Beckington (Beekenham).

42. Beckenham's main stately home, seen here in about 1915, has long been a golf club house; the vast grounds are preserved both for golf, and also as natural fields, hills and bluebell woods. The statues flanking the door vanished since the war. This seat of the wealthy Cators was the setting of a formal18tb century social life, attracting people of both brains and beauty. They included Dr. Johnson; the great Swedish botanist Linnaeus, who added exotic plants and shrubs to the gardens; and Fanny Bumey of 'Evelina' farne, who described Cator as a chatterer. The wit Mrs. Thrale drewup acynical 'school report' on John Cator, based on twenty points; he eamed uil for religion, morality, scholarship. manner, wit and humeur, but thirteen points for genera! knowledge. He died in 1806 with no male heir; the estate went to a nephew, John Barwell Cator of Clock House.

BECKENHAM PARK GATES.

43. These twin lodges (matched by a similar pair opposite Beckenham Hill station) now lead to Beckenham Place as a golf club house, instead of a private rnansion; but they are still recognisable, if no longer so creeper covered as in this scene postmarked 1903. Continuing by this drive - now flanked beyond the lodges by very lavish and expensive private detached houses - one enters the golf course. Near the brow of the drive survives the Place's mysterious pond, heavily feneed as a danger. Legend calls it bottornless, though fact suggests a remarkable thirty feet, despite its small circumference; curiously, no life is observed except for one corner, populated by newts and tadpoles. The surrounding mud is described as like quicksand, capable of sucking a child or dog under within minutes; hence the fencing.

44. Kelsey, whose grounds now form Kelsey Park, was the town's most extravagant and exciting mansion: turreted and ivy-clad, a cross between a Scottish baronial pile and a romantic Loire ch├Ąteau. Though the mansion was reworked in this final form during the 19th century period of Gothic romance, the actual estate dated from the early 15th century, if not earlier . Outlying parts of this great estate included Kelsey Park Farm, near the Cottage Hospital, which was bought in 1946 for staff accommodation; the last of the Hoare financier family to live at Kelsey was a founder member of the hospital trustees, a committee set up in 1871. Kelsey became one of Beckenham's military hospitals during the Great War, after which the noble mansion deteriorated, and was eventually demolished.

45. 'Rather a pretty spot' wrote the sender of this card in 1909: and it is still pretty. But who, seeing this usually placid lake and its lower companion, would suspect either of savagery? During the unforgettable 1968 flood both overflowed muddily across the landscape and surged into the town, recalling those 19th century floods when beats were often rowed at that lowlying point. Old byelaws for Beckenham's parks now make amusing reading; among other things, they forbade women from washing clothes in the lakes, or polluting the public drinking fountains; others forbade public grazing of sheep, cattle or pigs, and the admission ofverminous and unwashed vagrants.

46. Most of Kelsey Park's paths were for decades enclosed by this rusticfencing, much of it now removed to give a less forma! feeling. Here the photographer is looking from above the main waterfall. At dusk on a winter afterneon Kelsey can become almest spooky; the mournful clang of the patrolling keeper's bell was even eerier, rising and receding as he walked around calling out 'closing time'. His bell was a fragment oflocal history , taken trom the old fire station when it stood at picturesque Kelsey Square, formerly the great mansion's main approach. This fire waming bell hung in a little turret above the station, and was removed when a larger new station (itself now obsolete and abandoned) was built. The ornate Kelsey Square since has played many roles; for years the lower part has been a country-style open fronted greengrocery shop; low down at its side is a bit of old Beckenham, an historie public pump.

47. Kelsey Park has two fine waterfalls; this lower fall, and the upper one of a single deep drop; from the point here pictured the two lakes drain into a river, prettily landscaped as it leaves the park. A description ofthe Ravensbourne penned in 1841 applied equally to the other brooks and streams of the Beckenham area, before the 20th century brought in housing to cancel out their surrounding meadows: 'lts banks are fringed by alders and willows, through which one can with but difficulty make way, and where the occasional whirr of the partridge as it starts suddenly from the ground ... or of the pheasant mounting heavily upwards, speaks of the solitude that generally reigns ... '

48. Strolling through the park on a card postmarked 1923. Croydon Road Recreation Ground was opened to the public in 1891; a benefit not only to the average mobile citizen, but equally to those confined in the adjacent Cottage Hospital, as it afforded 'a pleasurable and cheerful prospect from the wards', which by then could cope with nearly a hundred admissions a year, Between the two world wars this was the scene of some magnificent flower shows held in giant marquees, and attended by thousands of spectators. The floral displays were backed up by such additional attractions as band concerts, children's dancing displays on an open air stage, and a model steam hauled railway.

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