Thames Tributary Ravensbourne - The Beck - Beckenham
The Beck stream enters central Beckenham flowing north and then turns north east towards the Pool River.
TQ 37183 69422
This is the area of Beckenham's town centre - busy while remaining middle class no-nonsense. The parish church and almshouses remain those of a large village rather than the small town Beckenham has become. The town retains a functioning cinema, and Beckenham Junction Station is a much less grand commuter stop than it sounds. It is also the final stop of the Croydon tram. Housing around the centre is solidly middle class and includes the remains of some great estates, now parkland.
Post to the west Clockhouse
Post to the east Beckenham
Post to the south Kelsey Park
A Cator Estate road, Albemarle was the first name of a family member at the time the road was built.
V1 - Second World War a hit with a V1 in 1944 cleared a lot of space in this area
Beckenham Green. This was a dense area until bombing in 1944. Opposite the
car park and next to the Church
Post-war buildings on the north side built on bomb sites. Offices and shops 1965/7. Flats with the taste of the mid-1960s. Now rebuilt again,
St.George’s church hall
Mission opened in 1877 Chapel foundation stone 1887 money used by bazaar, which made £600. The total cost was £4,500.
BR Southern Region, South East Divisional HQ here 1965-1983. Special trains were run for the staff who worked there.
Means ‘Beotha's village. This sort of name is likely to indicate an early Anglo-Saxon Settlement. Before 1272 the Manor it belonged a family from La Rochelle in France - Richard de la Rokele. It passed through several families until In 1773 Lord Bolingbroke, sold it to John Cator, who came from Ross, Herefordshire, and who built Beckenham Place.
Brograve is the name of a past owner of Kelsey
2 building which was part of the former Old Manor altered to become the Offices of the Beckenham Local Board. There is thought to be little material remaining from the pre-1881 building. In the 18th it was owned by the Burrels and then the Hoares. It was sold to Beckenham Local Board and used until the 1880s town hall was built. It then went to the London and County Bank and then to the Metropolitan Police.
4 Public hall. Built 1883 and the foundation stone laid by C.Mills and it included coins and the Times. It is Arts and Crafts style by George Vicars. Listed. Stands on the site of a wing of the Old Manor House owned by Hoare family
Beckenham's second fire station built from the manor house stables in 1905.The engine house has been rebuilt as flats
Firemen’s houses of 1926
Infants School which has been in constant use as a place of education since 1818. As a branch of the National Society for promoting the Education of the Poor. It was built in a field next to the church, given by Cator. It had two classrooms, for boys and for girls, with a house in between for the Master. Part of the ground floor of the Master's house remains and two original classrooms are still in use, also an original door. The building was extended in 1906 and then heating and indoor toilets installed.
1/3/5 Anthony Rawlins Almshouses for Widows. Administered by The Beckenham Parochial Charities which date dating from 1694. They were rebuilt in 1881 and there is a foundation stone outside. Above the centre doorway is a tablet "Anthony Rawlins Esq. built these Houses for ye use of ye poor of this Parish of Beckenham Anno. Dom. 1694”. Rawlins was a wealthy City merchant who died in Beckenham. The land was provided by the Lord of the Manor.
31/33 Bertie Cator Almshouses. Also owned by The Parochial Charities built in 1890 in memory of Peter Cator, They were taken over by the London Borough of Bromley, and rebuilt.
90 Oakhill Tavern. 19th public house on the site of an older one. It has four rooms, by three separate bars plus a garden at the rear
Entrance lodge to the Knoll. Tiny 19th
Wesleyan Chapel. Listed. Four foundation stones were laid and the building opened in 1887. However these stones are not apparent and may be below the present ground level.
The Old Beckenham Mission. Built 1876,
46 Beckenham Theatre Centre. Founded in 1948 as Beckenham Children’s Theatre, by Hanna Schweizer. The Prentice Players was formed to accommodate the older teenage members and in 1959, this house had been found. Fundraising was assisted by a variety of celebrities, and this 1883 family home was transformed into Britain’s smallest complete theatre. On Saturday 24th September 1960 Beckenham Theatre Centre was officially opened by comedian Dick Emery
Coach and Horses. 18th century public house. Statutorily listed.
Cator Estate. Laid out c. 1864 and still with some of its original houses. Tall and yellow, with tentative polychromy, they are rather earnest and stodgy.
Chancery Lane is an ancient route and is first recorded as a field called, Cowlees, purchased by the parish in 1674 as a garden for the parish workhouse. In 1854, a Court of Chancery judgement vested it as charity lands and the memory of that is perpetuated in the name. It is the relic of a hamlet.
29-43 cottages. It is thought these are mid 19th
25/26 Law Notes Lending Library
39 Blacksmiths forge which had two forges, fan and bellows
Jolly Woodman. Built in the 1860s and its shape if determined by the form of the lane.
Christ Church Road
A side road, between the side of the church and the car park. Built on the site of the Fairfield or Three Tuns Field. Two paths crossed this field so there was not much room for the cricket pitch. The Fair was held on 1st Monday in August.
Town Hall. This was a neo Georgian building completed in 1932 to the competition winning designs C.H. F Lanchester & T A. Lodge. It included an electricity department and health clinic in separate blocks. Its collegiate plan council chamber was unique for a London town hall. Demolished in the mid 1960s.
Now part of the High Street. It had a Gazebo which served as a look-out for when the Squire's coach was expected back in the Village, and was the site of The Cage, the Stocks and the Pound for stray cattle.
Copers Cope Road
This was the name of a large farm. Possibly it was originally ‘Coopers Copse’. This farm was of 250 acres and was bought by the Cators in 1813..
3- 3a Copers Farm house. Early 18th front doubled in the 19th and given end gables. listed.
Court Downs Road
Was previously called Love Lane. Downs was the name of the meadow through which it ran. There are all sorts of stories saying Henry VIII’s court was held there and there was an old stone seat which Anne Boleyn allegedly sat on.
The Beck passes under it and there was once a footbridge.
11 may be by Hooper
Saxon and Norman pottery found here but the site was abandoned in the middle ages.
Christ Church. Consecrated by Archbishop of Canterbury in 1870; the foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Shaftesbury; it was Built by private subscription and the land given by a local nob. Stock brick, even the spire, by Blashill & Hayward. Bombed and rebuilt. By Charles Sykes. In 1873 when a temporary iron church was built. The church was severely damaged by a flying bomb in 1944 and, was re-built and reconsecrated in 1950.
The area of the public car park at the back of Sainsburys is the result of a flying bomb. It destroyed 20 houses, and Christ Church, 24 deaths
Before the middle of the 19th the High Street was a tree lined lane.
Railway Hotel. Meeting place of the West Kent Hounds. Bus operator Thomas Tilling had Livery Stables on site. Pub destroyed in bombing.
111 Ye Olde George Inn. 1662 stagecoach stop. Petty sessions were held there. It was the first house in Beckenham to be lit by gas. Weather boarded and a contrast to the other buildings.
150-154 Slug and Lettuce. Was previously the Hogshead
155 Haks Barbers. Shop which in a building once used as the Old Fire Station. The upper floors housed the Offices of the Local Board, before it moved to the Old Manor site. Village pump on the corner.
Village Water pump 19th. The water would have gushed from a spout set in the Lion's mouth.
157 Zizzi was the Three Tuns, pub from 1820 with Assembly Rooms. Locally listed. Became the Rat and Parrott and was an early place for David Bowie to play.
205 The Goose
237 Bricklayers Arms
32 St.Bride's House was St.George's Church Hall
75 Box Bar. This was the site Greyhound Inn and since rebuilt. Used to be separate from the rest of the town by the River Beck passing as an open stream in front. Only became a pub from the 1860s.
9 O’Neills, previously Drummonds Pub previously The Golden Arrow. It is opposite the station and one had a signal gantry for a sign
Barclays Bank. On the site of Beckenham Lodge, now a Thai restaurant.
Cedars Parade. On the site of where a high brick wall once enclosed a big house - Village Place also called The Cedars. Originally built 1688. This was once the residence of Samuel Wilson, Lord Mayor of London in 1838, and was demolished in 1920. It had been used for military purposes during the First World War.
Chessington Tyres. Art deco garage building
Christ Church Hall was the church School, 190l, and Sunday school 1877. Centre School
Electricity showrooms, Beckenham was proud of its municipal supply and this was part of civic building in 1932. It became LEB after nationalisation
Entrance gate of old Rectory. Its foundation stone is built into one of the entrance lobbies of the Beckenham Town Hall.
Kelsey House. Office block
141 Midland bank. Now HSBC
Mile stone, on the Bromley Road corner. It was, reconstructed here after being damaged and says: "London Bridge, Miles X (10) 2 Furlongs. One Mile and Half to Shortlands. Croydon Market Place Miles IV (4) 6 Furlongs through the Town.” It was erected in 1713 and restored in 1817, 1887 and 1976.
Odeon. This was The Regal. Cinema seating about 2,000, and which became a triple-screen. It was built by Robert Crombie in 1930. Art Deco with proscenium arch.
Pavilion Cinema opened in 1914 but demolished in the early 1930s. It was on the corner of and Village Way and it seated about 400. Shop on the site.
Police station built 1884. Listed.
Supermarket. On the site of Parish Clerk's House
St.George's Church. Humble medieval village church replaced in 1885 by the present town church in ragstone. The proportions are broad and low. Stained Glass by Thomas Freeth who also did the Altar cross and candlesticks. The old monuments were replaced: Sir Humphrey Style 1552 tomb-chest and brasses; Margaret Damsell 1563 brass; James Burdett 1710; Peter Burrell 1718; Hugo Raymond 1737 By Thomas Adye; Peter Burrell 1756; Stephen Holland 1768. Richard Acland put up after his wife's death in 1771; Amy Burrell,; 1790 Frances, Lady Hoare, 1800 Flaxman; Catherine Vansittart 1810 Chantrey; William, Lord Auckland, 1814 Jemima Wilson 1865;. Plaque to Jane Clerke with epitaph by Gray. There are two foundation stones, one for the building of the Rectory in 1789, and the other 1931 for the building of the former town hall, can now be seen in St George's Church.
Churchyard: 18th headstone to the grave of Margaret Finch, Queen of the Gypsies. Graves of Fox, Sharpes and Ayres family, who all used to be smugglers.
Lych gates. An example of 13th joinery. Listed. Reputedly "the oldest in England,” it may date from the 13th. It is surrounded by a group of yews and a weeping ash.
Kelsey Lane was once a driveway for Kelsey Manor house. It still has an unmade surface in parts.
Kelsey Park Road,
Named from an estate called ‘Kelsies’ 1479, taken from the family of William Kelshulle who was granted land in Beckenham in 1408.The Road marks the division between the town centre and residential Beckenham.
Telephone Exchange. Gaunt Office of Works design. 1925.
The square served as the administrative centre of Beckenham in the early 1880's, after the establishment of the Local Board, but before the construction of the civic buildings.
Estate accommodation for Kelsey workers. Cottages are now statutorily listed and are contained within the Kelsey Square conservation area.
Ed VIII pillar box Carron ironworks
V1 destroyed four houses 1944.
Named to commemorate the Old Manor
Manor Preparatory School. In 1938 Miss A. Willsher founded the school, which occupied two houses. closed in 1971.
4 cottage Gothic. This is over 200 years old and was once the estate bailiff's office for the Kelsey Estate
Mid Kent Line curves sharply to a station quarter of a mile north of Beckenham itself. It passed through the Cator lands and were thus subject to stringent conditions.
Beckenham Junction Station. Opened 1st January 1857 on the Mid-Kent Line, Between Shortlands and Kent House on South Eastern Trains. Terminus of Southern Trains from Birkbeck. Terminus of Croydon Tramlink from Beckenham Road. It was originally Opened by the London Chatham and Dover Company and called ‘Beckenham’; renamed ‘Beckenham Junction’ in 1865. The line was influenced by the Cator estate and they subsidised the station on condition there was no goods depot and no Sunday trains – so that nasty Londoners wouldn’t turn up on their day off. Cator employees looked after the trees and shrubs along the line which were there to hide the railway line. It was built as Italianate with a striking train shed and some of these original buildings are still in use. The station was originally built as a terminus for the Mid Kent Railway and was joined by the West End of London and Crystal Palace Railway line between Bromley Junction and Shortlands in May 1858. In the same year The London, Chatham & Dover Railway provided a through service and the South Eastern Railway built an extension to Addiscombe in 1864. Beckenham Junction Station was owned jointly between SER and LCDR. .
Goods depot – provided when the main line came through. There was a Locomotive turntable there.
Rutland Cottages for the railway from the 1860s.
22 Citygate Christian Outreach Centre
War memorial. In the centre of a roundabout. It is a sculptured Portland stone column designed by Newbury A. Trent, unveiled by Sergeant B. Hanscombe DCM, MM in 1921. It cost £2,600.
Beck is named from Beckenham and not the other way round. The stream rises at Spring Park to flow via Kelsey Park into Pool River.
St. George's Road
The road is lined with tall London Plane trees.
School. Originally built in 1818 as the Bromley Road Schools. Listed. Copper clad roof vent: the copper has oxidised and is a bright green colour.
St.Edmund RC church. Built 1937 with a tower at the east end which has a pyramidal top of green copper. Designed J. O'Hanlon Hughes in Pale brown brick. Listed.
34 appears to be by Hooper
Beckenham Theatre Centre. Web site
Christ Church. Web site
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Goldsmiths. South East London Industrial Archaeology
London Borough of Bromley. Web site
Manors of Beckenham
O'Neills. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. West Kent
Pevsner ad Cherry. South London
St. Edmund Church. Web site
St.George's Church. Web site
Wagstaff and Pullen. Beckenham anthology,
Walk round Beckenham,
Ye Olde George Inn. Web site