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Beckenham is a town in the London Borough of Bromleymarker, Englandmarker. It is located 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south east of Charing Crossmarker, and 1.75 miles (2.8 km) west of Bromleymarker town. Until the coming of the railway Beckenham was a small village in almost completely rural surroundings: once a family of entrepreneurs began the building of villas here, its population soared throughout the rest of the century. Today it is very much in London suburbia, although some of the grand houses of the early days remain.

Etymology

The settlement is referred to as Bacheham in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name is thought to derive from Beohha's homestead (Beohhan + ham in Old English). The name of the small stream here - the River Beck - is most likely to have been named after the village.

History

Although early written history tells little of the area, archaeological evidence at Holwood Park, where Stone Age and Bronze Age artefacts were found, reveals some evidence of early settlers. A Roman camp was sited here; and a Roman road, the London to Lewes Way passed through the district.

With the arrival of the Normans, the Manor of Beckenham took on added importance, and controlled much of what is modern Beckenham. St George’s church was built in the 12th century. In the Middle Ages the manor lands were divided: at this time the estates of Kelsey and Langley came into being. Beckenham still remained a small village until well into the 19th century. The beginning of its growth began when, in 1773, John Cator built Beckenham Place and became Lord of the Manor. After he died in 1807, his sons soon became aware that the area in such close proximity to London was ripe for development, especially once the railway had arrived in 1857; and large villas began to be built around the new station. Wide roads and large gardens epitomised these properties.

Between then and the early 20th century, further growth of Beckenham took place: The Shortlandsmarker area in 1863; Clock House in the 1890s; Elmers Endmarker in 1911 (where smaller suburban house were built); Park Langley in 1908; and Eden Park in 1926. The Manor of Foxgrove was also broken up at some point: its name is commemorated in a local road.

Governance

The Municipal Borough of Beckenhammarker came into being in 1935. It took over from what had been, since 1894, Beckenham Urban District Council , and included parts of Hayes and West Wickhammarker, previously part of Bromley Rural District Council. The new Borough status reflected the growth of Beckenham in little less than fifty years.

In 1965, as part of the creation of the Greater London Council, the Borough council was disbanded, and Beckenham came under control of the newly-constituted London Borough of Bromleymarker. Councillors represent various parts of the erstwhile Borough of Beckenham. There is also a Beckenham Town Centre Management, with the aim of coordinating business interests in the town.

Geography

The original village of Beckenham was situated at what is now the northern part of the town area. Around it were the great estates: Beckenham Park, Kelsey and Langley Park. The River Ravensbournemarker flows northwards at the eastern side of the town, towards its confluence with the River Thames. The small stream, the River Beck, passes through the town before joining the Ravensbourne further north. The area is part of an outcrop of London Clay which results in it consisting of many small hills.

Economy

Industry/commerce

Landmarks

One of the interesting landmarks in Beckenham is the Chinese Garagemarker, now a listed building.

Transport

Beckenham has a number of railway links to London and to the South of Kent. The stations are Beckenham Junctionmarker, serving a number of routes; Kent Housemarker, serving Orpingtonmarker line trains; New Beckenhammarker, and Clock Housemarker on the Hayes line; and Beckenham Hillmarker and Ravensbournemarker on the Catford Loop Line.

Nearest places

Bromleymarker

Shortlandsmarker

Anerleymarker

Elmers Endmarker

Tramlink route 2 links its terminus at Beckenham to East and West Croydon, and Wimbledon.

Main road routes passing through the town are the A222marker linking Croydonmarker and Sidcupmarker; and the shorter, more local, A234 and A2015 roads. Bus services radiate from Beckenham High Street on a large number of routes.

Religious sites

The town has a number of places of worship. St George's church is the principal parish church, and is in the centre of Beckenham. It has been extensively rebuilt, but has a 13th century lychgate that is said to be the oldest in Englandmarker. There are also three other Anglican churches in the town: All Saints; Holy Trinity; and St James at Elmers End. In addition there are Methodist and Baptist churches; and the Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Edmund of Canterbury.

Education

The principal secondary schools in Beckenham are Kelsey Park Sports College; Cator Park School;/ and the two Langley Park schools: for boys and girls. There are also a large number of schools catering for primary education. Such as the independent Roman Catholic school, Bishop Challoner, and Churchfields Primary School.

Health

Beckenham Hospital, now called Beckenham Beacon, following redevelopment is now a minor treatment centre and an outstation to Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough for outpatient services. At time of writing it will shortly have GP, dental and other services available. The Bethlem Royal Hospitalmarker, which specialises in psychiatry is located at Monks Orchard.

Culture and leisure

There is a museum and archives at Bethlem Royal Hospital. The local Odeon cinema has six screens and is a grade II listed building . In common with most towns of its size, Beckenham has a number of leisure organisations and societies; whilst the Beckenham Festival of Music and Dancing takes place every November. Beckenham Theatre exists to put on amateur productions.

The South East London Green Chainmarker, a long distance footpath is well-represented in Beckenham. Both Kelsey Parkmarker and Beckenham Place Park form part of the Chain. There are other open spaces in the town, including Croydon Road Recreation Groundmarker and Cator Park. South Norwood Country Parkmarker abuts the town to the south-west.

Sport

Beckenham Cricket Club staged the Kent All-Comers' Championships, an international tennis tournament, from 1886 to 1996, featuring many of the world's top players as it opened the grass court season building up to Wimbledon. It was also the breeding ground of players such as England internationals Derek Underwood and Richard Ellison, and most recently Kent captain Robert Key. The club held the world's first open grass-court tournament in June 1968 - one month after the sport became 'open' to amateur and professional players - with Australians Fred Stolle and Margaret Court winning the singles titles.

Media

Two references in pop culture are: in The Streets' song Who Got The Funk? from their first album Original Pirate Material Mike Skinner talks of London towns and names: Brixtonmarker; Barnetmarker; Beckenham; and in Simon Brett's long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy drama, No Commitments (1992-2007), Beckenham is the home of the wildly snobbish, socially aspirational and insecure sister Victoria; the town is frequently mocked by association.

Public services

The burial site is at Beckenham Crematorium (also known as Elmers End Crematorium and Cemetery).

Notable people

Among those who can lay claim to fame, and who have either been born or lived in Beckenham or have had some important contribution to make to the town, there are show business people such as Bob Monkhouse (1928-2003); Julie Andrews (1935- ); David Bowie (1947- ), who lived at 42 Southend Road, Beckenham from 1969-1973; Wende Snijders (1978- ), the Dutchmarker singer; and Maurice Denham (1909-2002), the actor. CSgt Frank Bourne of Rorke's Driftmarker, South African Zulu war, lived at 16 King's Hall Road, Beckenham and is buried in Beckenham Cemetery. Fr. Thomas Pelham Dale SSC, Anglo-Catholic clergyman was prosecuted for Ritualist practices in the 1870s. Writers include Enid Blyton (1897-1968) and A.L. Barker (1918-2002); Betty Box (1915-1999) and her brother Sydney (1907-1983) were film producers. There are many sportsmen, especially cricketers; and Tom Pettitt (1859-1956) was Real Tennis world champion 1885-90.

Other Beckenhams

There are towns called Beckenham in Australia and New Zealandmarker. The Australian and New Zealand Beckenhams were named after the town in London, and this association continues in the naming of adjacent areas: the town of Sydenhammarker is next to Beckenham in London, the suburb of Sydenhammarker adjoins the suburb of Beckenhammarker in Christchurch, and the suburb of Beckenhammarker in Perthmarker contains a Sydenham Street.

References


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