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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69. Today heavy traffic hurties down this long hilI towards Shortlands station. On the left are now several blocks of flats on a narrow triangular site between this wad and the railway bank. Until about the 19605 their site was a horticultural nursery, whose long holly hedge survives. This locality is associated with Mrs. Craik, writer of 'John Halifax, Gentleman', whose adoption of a foundling was widely reported in 1869; the year that she and George Craik built The Corner House at Shortlands. Briefly, the young baby girl was heard crying by a gardener on bis way to work on New Year's day, and found abandoned beside a heap of builders' bricks near Gloucester Terrace in School Road (St. George's Road), News spread, until 'two benevolent ladies, Miss Wilkinson of Shortlands and Mrs. Craik of Chilchester Lodge', elected to adopt it from the werkhouse. She was baptised Dorothy, and finally taken by the authoress Mrs. Craik.

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70. Even now Shortlands is leafy and pretry. The networks of residential roads between it and central Beckenham are quiet and pleasant, haunted by birds and squirrels, and shaded by massive old trees like these, left standing when houses took the place of hedgerows. Scotts Lane is here almost totally rural; today it is built up and well-groomed rather than natural.

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71. A more suburbanised version of Scotts Lane, near the brow of the hili between Shortlands and Beokenhamproper, built up with rather expensive properties, and with the addition of appropriate street-furniture including a pillar-box. It is typical of the moderately well-to-do middle category of early 20th century deveiopment in Shortlands, between the top class mansions around St. Mary's and the smaller artisan cottages and houses placed in conventional rows on the other side of the railway, such as those of Reereatien Road or Meadow Road.

72. The changeover of Shortlands from hamlet to residenttal village was duly chronicled by the loeal press. By 1869 it was assumed that its immediate future would be mainly that of a gentleman's retreat; which brought unexpeeted problems. Outward show came first, and such men eould be surprisingly reluetant to invest money outside their own gates. Their fine earriages brought prestige, but also damage to the poorly made roads, as more and more hoofs and wheels plougned them up. 'In this fashionable locality large houses are constantly springing up, and as a consequence the roads get wom and out of repair , and their present state is being much complained of,' said one journal. The gentry should honour their commitments: 'The owners of the several properties are bound by their terms of purehase to repair (the roads), and it is clearly to their comfort as weU as interest in every sense to do so.'

Shortlanas Road, Shortlands

73. 'A portion of the Shortlands Estate, 1 -2 miles east from old Beokenham Church, has ... been built over, and a railway station and rai1way hotel opened,' it was recorded in 1875. By a railway hotel we presurne the writer to have meant the Shortlands Tavem, almost directly alongside the present platform 4; its sign shows the first of Shortlands' two water works in Valley Road, with its now missing tal! chimney; part of one of the works' heavy old beam engines is now preserved inside the fence in Valley Road. Shortlands Road - shown here -leads up from where Valley Road meets the station area, to join Hayes Lane where it enters Park Langley. The station forecourt, now only a car park, was occupied until just after the Second World War by the stationmaster's house; an attractive building whose gardens were noted for mature fig trees.

74. 'On the high ground by the church several good villas have been built,' was the updating phrase in a suburban gazetteer of about 1874, when Shortlands was in its infancy. But by the end of the century a pattem of residential roads was established. The Chalets, on the hilltop opposite St. Mary's. survive as a mellow brick fantasy, still with the deep upper balconies shown here, at right, On the opposite corner, out ofthe picture, another giant house was owned by the electrical pioneer Alexander Muirhead; today it bears a blue plaque commemorating his residence there. After 1918, the Shortlands warmemorial was placed in the centre ofthis crossroads.

75. A famous murder of 1877 gave Forbes Road (renamed as Mosslea Road in an attempt to lessen the stigma) a wide notoriery, as the scene of the so-called Penge Murder; until the residents of one side of the road found that, by a few yards, it did not happen in Penge at all. The other side, including the murder house, officially lay in Beokenham. On this basis of an obscured boundary we feel justified in including two glimpses of old Penge. Here tbe High Street, seen in 1934, climbs towards the Palace gates. It looks impossibly far removed from the place in Domesday Book, a 'wood for fifty hogs pannage' (hence the name, Penge); or from an idyllic hamlet where the Croydon Canal crossed Penge Common, shaded by peaceful willows.

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76

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