HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Kent Life today CLICK HERE

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

09:01 15 February 2010

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

10 good reasons to visit Beckenham

The 'village' of Beckenham can be traced back to Bronze and Stone Age times, but its proximity to London has seen it develop into a cosmopolitan town offering a wide range of specialist shops and restaurants – and a few surprises

Life story
People who have been enchanted by Enid Blyton books will find themselves surrounded by memories of the famous childrens author, who lived in five different homes in Chaffinch Road, Clock House Road, Elm Road and Westfield Road. All the buildings have remained virtually unchanged from 1897 when Enid arrived as a baby. At the end of Elm Road is the Baptist Church where she was baptised and the church hall where she attended Sunday school. Not far from here is her infant school and the Chaffinch Brook where Enid went on nature walks with her father. Visitors can hear the story of Enid Blytons life in Beckenham during tours given by local historian Cliff Watkins, contact: cliff@cliffwatkins.entadsl.com

Musical memories
Fans of the iconic musician, actor and former Beckenham resident David Bowie can walk in the footsteps of their hero in Croydon Road Rec. August last year was the 40th anniversary of a Free Festival he organised when he performed on the bandstand. Two years later in 1971, he sat on the same bandstand and wrote the lyrics for Life on Mars. He lived in Foxgrove Road in the late 1960s before moving to the Victorian Gothic mansion Haddon Hall, in Southend Road. On the High Street is the Three Tuns pub (now a restaurant) where Bowie was joined by other musicians in Arts Lab events. The hairstyle of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust was created by a stylist who worked in the Evelyn Paget hair salon in Beckenham.

Curtain raiser
Theatregoers will be transported back to the 1930s when the Beckenham Theatre Centre stages Noel Cowards Private Lives (22-27 March). A registered charity, the society runs its own theatre and the striking Victorian building in Bromley Road has one of the smallest auditoria in the country, with just 47 seats.

Open spaces
Although close to central London, Beckenham has several areas of parkland. In Kelsey Park, the landscaped gardens and lake attract many forms of wildlife and there are tennis courts, a crazy golf course, plus a caf and childrens playground. Beckenham Place Park includes an 18-hole golf course and forms part of Londons Green Chain. Beckenham Green, created from the ruins of the original heart of the town destroyed by doodlebugs in 1944, hosts events during Beckenhams annual festival.

Church views
Adjacent to Beckenham Green is
St Georges Church, built by local architect Gibbs Bartleet in the 1880s. It replaced an earlier place of worship on the same site and artefacts saved from this original medieval building can still be found throughout the church. Look out for the striking stained glass windows designed by local art teacher Thomas Freeth. The church is a venue for a jazz festival and other events throughout the year.

Sports galore
Beckenham Cricket Club claims to be one of north-west Kents best multi-sports and social clubs. As its enviable cricketing history the ground, which is set in beautiful surroundings off Foxgrove Road, also has club facilities for tennis, hockey, squash, and running, all supported by an active social section. Elsewhere, Beckenham has a football club playing in the Kent League and men and women rugby teams, plus several Bowls Clubs.

From the archives
Twenty one works by Richard Dadd (1817-1886) were recently loaned to, and are now on display, at The Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum in Monks Orchard Road. The museum records the lives and celebrates the achievements of people with mental health problems. The new display represents Dadds time in Broadmoor State Criminal Lunatic Asylum from 1864-1886 and are in addition to his other 30 paintings and letters already on show at Bethlem.

So near so Spa
Fitness fanatics and sports fans can find everything they need under one roof at The Spa at Beckenham, which caters for people from all different walks of life, abilities and shapes and sizes. The centre recently benefited from a 1.3m investment and now has two swimming pools, gym, multi-purpose sports hall, dance/group exercise studios, a new soft play area for children, crche, mycafe and a meeting room. In 2004 the centre won The Independent title of Best Public Swimming Pool in the UK. The pool is fed from water from a natural well under the building.

On the right track
Memories of trains from days gone by will be among the attractions being displayed at a vintage toy train show at St Johns Church, in Eden Park Avenue on 29 May, 10am to 5pm. The event has been organised by the Beckenham and West Wickham Model Railway Club and will include working rail layouts. Contact gregmarshall121@hotmail.com.

Up on the silver screen
Film lovers are well catered for by the modernised Odeon cinema in the High Street. And every September during the London Open House weekend, the Regal, as it is still known by many locals, allows access to several areas to reveal its unaltered Art Deco interior decorations from days gone by.

Getting there
Although originally a Kentish town Beckenham, which is only a 20-minute drive from the centre of to the capital, is now part of the London Borough of Bromley. It is easily reached by car from the main A21 by taking the A222 or the A2015. The town is served by two rail stations. Beckenham Junction and Clock House.There are also regular bus and tram services to and from the town. Sat nav: BR3 1ED


Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Friday, August 28, 2015
Faversham Guildhall

A Kentish gem, with pretty medieval streets surrounded by fruitful farmland, the ancient market town of Faversham is packed to bursting with things to see and do.

Read more
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Horse and hound at Chiddingstone Country Fair

September offers everything from music and drama to country fairs, floral displays and steam engines

Read more
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Waterside walks

Five of the best spots in Kent for a late-summer stroll by coast, canal and river.

Read more
Friday, August 21, 2015

Think you know Cranbrook and Hawkhurst? Think again. We invite you to discover the heritage, the art, the culture and the charm of these two Wealden wonders.

Read more
Sunday, August 16, 2015
The exterior of Knole showing Bourchier's Tower, looking east across Green Court. This is the largest of the seven courtyrads at Knole.

Knole’s historic hall is being brought back to its glorious heyday as part of the larger five-year conservation currently taking place

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
Ground team for Amy Johnson airshow

Enjoy a glass of cider at Brogdale, an airshow in the memory of Amy Johnson and a concert to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust

Read more
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Brass bands will play at the Kent Miners' Festival

Heritage displays, brass bands and a Kent Coal Queen pageant: The Kent Miners’ Festival taking place in Betteshanger on 31 August promises fun for all

Read more
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Steam rally in the hKentish Weald

Summer fun doesn’t have to be mean expensive outings - Kent has plenty of free activities for all the family

Read more
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Fan Deep Bay Shelter

A labyrinth of tunnels reaching deep under the White Cliffs of Dover, forgotten since the Second World War, is now open to visitors, thanks to a public appeal and a two-year conservation project by the National Trust

Read more
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Legends and fairytales at Groombridge Place

From outdoor theatre to vintage fairs and equestrian events, there’s a fantastic choice of things to do in Kent this month

Read more


subscription ad

subscription ad
Kent's trusted business finder