Situated in Greater London, Bromley is the administrative base of the London Borough of Bromley and is a large, predominantly suburban town. Historically, Bromley started out as a market town and an ancient parish in Kent county, however, due to its geographical location positioning it on a coaching path and the introduction of a railway station, the economic history of the town underwent a shift from an agrarian communityto retail and commerce. A significant increase in the population of the town, due primarily to the 20th century suburban development in London, allowed for Bromley to be incorporated as a municipal borough and to emerge as one of a few regionally significant retail and commercial areas outside of Central London. The name, Bromley, is derived from the Old English word Bromleag, meaning ‘woodland clearing where broom grows’.
The town is within close proximity to Charing Cross (approximately 9.3 miles south east) and with the Transport for London bus and National Rail offering services throughout Bromley, accessibility and mobility both within and out of the town is efficient and reliable. Two rail stations serve the district, being Bromley South Station and Bromley North Station, which offers routes to both Charing Cross and London Bridge.It has also been identified as one of the chief metropolitan centres in the London Plan, with a large shopping area, including the Intu Bromley centre, the primary shopping mall and a pedestrianized High Street. The retail area includes stores such as Oasis, Waterstone, Gap and Ruseel & Bromley, as well as a branch of the Belgian-themed, small chain of restaurants called Belgo.
Bromley is home to several theatres, the most noteworthy being the Bromley Little Theatre located near the Bromley North railway station and the Churchill Theatre in the centre of the town. The Churchill Theatre was opened by HRH Prince of Wales and is currently managed by the Ambassador Theatre Group who acts as both a producing and receiving house. Productions at this venue tour nationally or are transferred to the West End, an example being that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which toured recent. A central library housing a large collection of book stock, local studies department, wifi and internet access and a reference library is also situated in the same venue as the Churchill Theatre. A four-screen site owned by Empire Cinemas is another leisure activity available in Bromley. The town is culturally distinguished from other districts within England by having its own Morris team, dubbed The Ravensbourne Morris Men. The team was founded as part of a post war revival outfit after an inaugural meeting at Jean’s Café.Several parishes, churches, open public space and monuments dot the landscape of the town, and provide historical landmarks. The most notable of these historic buildings is Bromley College. The present church in the town had its foundation laid by the Duchess of Kent. Other than the tower, other parts contained in the original church were employed in the rebuilding. Inside the current church, interesting monuments to Commonwealth bishops stand. TheBromley has also been mentioned several times in popular culture, specifically in the famous Monty Python sketches. The Mall shopping centre was featured on the cover of a music album by Billy Jenkins, who was born in Bromley.
A thriving social rugby atmosphere is prevalent in the town, with noteworthy clubs such as Bromley RFC, Beckenham RFC and Parkhouse FC. A rugby union club, Beccehamians RFC, plays rugby competitively at Sparrows Den. Four non-league playing football clubs are housed within the district, with one of these clubs, Bromley FC, playing one division level below the Football League in the Conference National. Cray Wanderers FC currently play three divisional levels below Bromley FC in a league called the Isthmian League Division. Notable sports persons who either lived in or were born in Bromley include Tim Cahill of Everton FC, Manchester United Rio Ferdinand and Kent List A cricketer Matthew Featherstone.
Bromley has several schools, including Bromley College of Further & Higher Education. Two specialists Media Arts Schools, namely The Ravensbourne School and Hayes School, are also housed within the town. There are numerous independent schools within the borough, with a new secondary school recently being opened called Bishop Justus, a specialist college and school in music.
Numerous notable persons have been able to call Bromley their town of residence at one time or another. HG Wells, the renowned author, was born in the town with his father being the founder of Bromley Cricket Club and owning a cricket equipment store. An HG Wells Centre, an HG Wells wall in Market Square and two plaques all serve to commemorate the great literary mind that once resided in the boundaries of the town. As a consequence of having being brought up in Bromley, HG Wells made reference to the town in two of his novels. Other world renowned authors who oncehad their roots in Bromley include David Nobbs, Enid Blyton, with her influential children’s literature such as the Famous Five stories and the Secret Seven adventures, and Captain WE Johns. A historical plaque commemorating Enid Blyton and her works is located at her former home in the town. Other illustrious people who hailed from Bromley include evolutionist Charles Darwin, singer and song writer Alex Care, song writer, actress and singer Pixie Lott, singer David Bowie, occultist Aleister Crowley, singer Billy Idol, cricketer Jill Cruwys and Topper Headon, the former drummer of the Clash band.
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