Article 1 - A brief summary of Orpington Orpington   may   look   like   a   boring   old   suburban   town   full   of   commuters,   with   an   old   Priory   and   a   War   Memorial.   That   is   true   to   some degree   but   there   is   so   much   more   to   it   and   Orpington   has   a   rich   history   of   development   and   involvement   in   wider   more   well   known history.  I am going to give some detail on a small number of historic facts about Orpington just to whet your appetite. Did   you   know   that   Orpington   (Orpedingetune)   is   recorded   in   the   Doomsday   book   (11th   Century)   and   Bishop   Odo,   William   the Conquerors   half   brother,   owned   the   Manor   of   Mayfield   of   which   most   of   the   current   ‘Central   Orpington’   is   now   built   on.   All   Saints Church was built in Saxon Times (1173) and is the oldest building in the area. In   the   18th   and   19th   centuries   St   Mary   Cray   was   the   primary   town.   St   Mary   Cray   High   Street   has   some   of   the   oldest   buildings   in   the area.   Agriculture   (big   farms),   light   commerce   and   light   manufacturing   were   the   economic   bedrock.   Then   came   the   railway!   The   mid 19th   century   saw   the   face   of   the   UK   change   forever   and   Orpington   was   not   going   to   be   an   exception.   The   industrial   revolution   had touched   the   area   in   St   Mary   Cray   in   the   form   of   Mills,   an   Iron   (Bell)   Foundry   and   housing   for   Kent   Miners   but   the   big   change   was when   the   London   Chatham   and   Dover   Railway   (LCDR)   built   its   line   out   from   London   (Victoria)   through   to   Kent   (the   line   that   has   the current   St   Mary   Cray   railway   station   on   it).   St   Mary   Cray   immediately   benefited.   The   red   brick   arched   viaduct   and   many   buildings   in St   Mary   Cray   High   St   were   created   and   many   ‘Victorian’   houses   were   built   around   the   area   (it   was   even   called   New   Town).   Some   of you   may   be   aware   that   railway   companies   in   that   period   were   almost   at   war   with   each   other,   the   competition   was   so   intense.   Not   to be   out   done,   the   other   big   railway   company   in   the   south   was   the   South   Eastern   Railway   (SER).   Its   line   from   London   had   reached Chislehurst   in   1865   and   in   1868   it   reached   Orpington   on   its   way   to   Sevenoaks   and   Tonbridge.   The   line   was   important   because   it made   the   Valley   of   Orpington   accessible   to   London   (quicker   than   the   line   of   the   LCDR),   the   ports   of   Dover   and   Ramsgate   and   the summer   resorts   of   Hastings   and   St   Leonards-on-Sea   became   ‘near’.   So   much   is   owed   to   the   engineering   of   the   railway   it   simply made   travel   and   the   moving   of   goods   efficient   in   a   time   when   horses,   carts   and   carriages   where   the   standard.   The   metaphoric   blood of Orpington and indeed St Mary Cray started to thrive on the new main lines laid out by the big railway companies in the mid 1800’s. With   the   best   transportation   links   Orpington   of   the   1870s   grew   out   of   the   big   farms   that   had   already   established   themselves.   The combination   of   revolutionised   agricultural   techniques   and   the   ease   of   transporting   goods   around   the   south   east   allowed   these   to thrive.   The   big   farms   of   the   1880s   were;   Tripes   Farm   (still   there   today)   in   pig   farming,   Cooks   Farm   (where   Ridgeway   Crescent   is)   in Chicken   and   Eggs,   Hewitt’s   Farm   (still   there)   in   fruit   and   produce,   Viner's   Farm   (recently   closed)   again   for   fruit   and   produce.   These big   four   created   jobs   and   house   hold   names.   You   must   have   heard   of   the   ‘Buff   Orpington’?   Well   this   was   a   chicken   bred   at   Cooks Farm   in   Orpington   and   is   still   world   famous   today.   Tripes   farm   was   famous   across   the   UK   and   Northern   Europe   for   its   ‘own   recipe’ sausages.   Hewitt’s   was   famous   for   fresh   Kent Apples   and   Hops,   it   formed   part   of   a,   once   major,   European   farming   enterprise.   Viner’s farm in Farnborough basically was the reason Farnborough was populated, its history goes back to the 1600’s! With   the   affluence   of   the   local   economy,   large   ‘Manor’   houses   started   to   appear   around   the   town.   Mayfield,   Goddington,   Broom   Hill and   others   started   to   shape   the   land. The   majority   of   buildings   in   Orpington   are   from   the   early   1900s. The   old   part   of   town   is   between the   Priory   pond   and   the   buildings   where   the   ‘Ask’   restaurant   is.   You   will   see   very   old   buildings   there.   The   rest   of   the   town   and   the high   street   developed   when   the   second   wave   of   railway   technology   arrived   –   they   double   the   track   from   London   to   Orpington   and   in 1905   a   new   Orpington   railway   station   opened   and   the   suburban   seed   was   planted.   Housing   estates   started   growing   close   to   the station   (and   indeed   Petts   Wood)   and   the   houses   in   Hillcrest   Road   and   that   area   were   some   of   the   first.   The   buildings   at   the   southern end   of   the   High   St   formed   the   commercial   centre   and   the   ‘mock   Tudor’   buildings   of   the   1930’s   linked   the   high   street   up   with   the   older ones   already   mentioned.   From   the   1930’s   through   to   the   current   day   land   in   the   area   was   redeveloped   and   residential   buildings   and estates   turned   Orpington   into   a   commuter   town.   With   one   of   the   quickest   journey   times   into   London   further   developments   in Ramsden,   Glentramon,   Windsor   Drive,   Poverest,   Borkwood,   Crofton   and   Place   Farm   in   the   late   50’s   and   60’s   really   increased   the population and set the blue print of what we have here today. I hope you like the photos!
Figure   1    -   1920   The   original   waterworks   at   the   bottom   of   Tower Road.   You   can   see   the   railway   arch   that   allows   Sevenoaks   road to   pass   under   the   railway   embankment   to   Green   St   Green.   The pumping     station     pumped     water     to     holding     reservoirs     at Farnborough,    Castlewood,    Southfleet    and    Bickley.    It    was    in operation from 1880.
Figure   2    -   1916 A   view   from   what   is   now   Homefield   Rise   former ‘Council   Estate’.   Looking   down   you   can   see   the   High   St   running from   left   to   right   with   ‘The   Knoll’   in   the   back   ground.   Some   of the   houses   in   Homefield   Rise   (in   this   picture)   are   still   there today.
Figure   3    -   1890   Aynscombe   House   is   located   adjacent   to   where the   current   Anchor   and   Hope   pub   is.   As   you   can   see   1890   and the High St looked very rural.
Figure   4   -   1982   The   Commodore   Cinema   was   built   in   1933.   It was   intended   to   be   a   more   modern   alternative   to   the   Picture Palace   at   the   other   end   of   the   High   Street.   My   parents   took   me and   my   sister   there   a   number   of   times   and   I   remember   seeing such   films   as   ‘Clash   of   the   Titans,   Empire   Strikes   Back   and   a number of Disney films!
Figure   5    -   1926   Looking   from   the   War   Memorial   up   Spur   Road before   the   houses   were   built!   To   the   right   of   the   picture   is   part   of the   land   that   is   part   of   where   Chevening   Court   is.   Spur   road   was part   of   a   massive   civil   engineering   project   to   build   a   road   that would   bypass   Orpington.   and   Green   St   Green.   The   original   road from   Sevenoaks   came   up   Badgers   Mount,   down   through   Pratt’s Bottom   and   into   Green   St   Green   High   St..   The   bypass   took   the road   from   Hewitts   Farm   and   down   behind   Orpington   and   then connecting   it   back   up   to   the   main   road   where   Carlton   Parade   is. Spur   Road   was   the   ‘spur’   to   that   road. As   with   the   railways   once these roads had been built Orpington just couldn’t help but grow!