A town guide to Bromley
- Credit: Archant
Change is nothing new for this ever-evolving town. With exciting regeneration projects, expect great things when you next visit Bromley
From its humble origins as part of a manor belonging to the Bishops of Rochester to its time as an important Kentish market town and a dormitory town for commuters, Bromley is a place constantly evolving.
Most recently, the very borders of our county were moved to allow it to become part of an expanding London in 1965.
A quick look around the town centre today and it’s obvious that yet more change is in the air. The town centre is being reinvigorated and while some parts already have a fresh new look, elsewhere huge buildings are still going up and new shops and restaurants are appearing. It’s all part of the local council’s mission to turn the heart of Bromley into one of the busiest, most welcoming and architecturally innovative places to visit in the south east.
In 2010 an area action plan was dreamt up to turn Bromley into a world-class shopping destination. Six key areas were identified, including dramatic improvements to the historic Bromley Village North area –successfully completed in 2015 and now boasting a pedestrian-friendly street scene and attracting many new businesses – and the show-stopping Bromley South Central development, to be called St Mark’s Square.
Originally forecast to cost £90m, the St Mark’s Square site is at the southern gateway to the town and will include a public plaza surrounded by a hotel, cinema, cafés and restaurants, along with 200 new apartments and a huge underground car park. Completion was originally anticipated by the end of 2015 but construction of the landmark development is currently running two years behind schedule.
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At the same time, Bromley’s intu shopping centre has also had a facelift and opened a new restaurant terrace last summer.
Accessible from the High Street and facing out onto the greenery of Queen’s Gardens, the casual dining offering includes Wagamama, Byron, Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Project Pie. The location links the new restaurants up with the recently revamped Bromley North as well as giving theatregoers somewhere else to eat before a show at the nearby Churchill Theatre, which is going through its own changes.
Churchill’s new chapter
Last year the Churchill Theatre began a new chapter in its 40-year history, as it joined the HQ Theatres & Hospitality group of leading regional theatres.
Hoping to breathe new life into the town- centre theatre, programming will include a popular array of top-quality musicals, drama, comedy, dance, family shows, one-night events, and world-class pantomime produced by HQ Theatres & Hospitality’s sister company, Qdos Entertainment.
Theatre Director Chris Glover says: “This is a hugely exciting time for the Churchill Theatre, its audiences and the local community. As well as revitalising the front of house areas to enhance the customer experience, we plan to restore the Churchill Theatre’s past reputation as the starting point for UK tours, enabling local audiences to see productions first. Strengthened relationships with local community and amateur groups will ensure that it remains the focal point of arts development in Bromley and beyond.”
A range of food and drink options is also now being offered, including ‘British Tapas’ in the Circle Bar, and the theatre’s programme will see a new selection of entertainment-based dining events.
This month shows at the theatre include a visit from The Glenn Miller Orchestra (12 February), Moscow City Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet (20-21 February), the musical Rent (6-11 February) and La bohème (25 February).
Eating and shopping
It’s a huge cosmopolitan town with every kind of food on offer, including all the big name chains. One of the best areas if you’re looking for casual dining is Bromley North, around East Street, with offerings including Cow & Pig, Nam Thai, Okiko sushi and Aqua bar and grill. Others to look out for around Bromley include popular Turkish restaurant Havet, newcomer Papillon Brasserie and, in the nearby Chatterton Village area, Indian favourite Shampan II and the Fireball Pizza Company.
Shopping in Bromley is mainly big chain brands, both on the High Street and in Intu.
For independent shops, cafés, pubs and businesses try Chatterton Village, named after 18th-century poet Thomas Chatterton.
BEECHE and the Green Roof Café
Situated in the stunning High Elms Country Park, BEECHE (Bromley Environmental Education Centre at High Elms) is an education and visitor centre offering environmental education to schools in term time and opening as a visitor and information centre at weekends and during school holidays.
Constructed in an environmentally friendly way, the building has a single storey timber frame and boasts straw bale walls, sun pipes to allow in natural light and a roof planted with thousands of sedums. When it’s in education mode, the centre has two large teaching rooms and is staffed by qualified teachers with expertise in Ecology and Environmental Science who create fun outdoor activities. The 250-acre park outside has a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, grasslands and freshwater ponds, which provide an ideal resource for classes.
Quiet aptly selling itself as ‘Bromley’s most picturesque café’, the Green Roof Café is also set within BEECHE and is the perfect place to enjoy a drink and a snack before or after exploring the lovely park.
Bromley is of course a borough of London and as such it can be an expensive place to buy property. Expect to pay between £230,000 and £330,000 for a one-bedroom flat, with two bedroom terraced houses priced between £300,000 and £465,000. Three-bedroom semis start at around £380,000 and can go up to £800,000. Larger detached homes are priced right up to £3million.
Bromley is easily accessible from the M25 and has two train stations, making getting around pretty easy. It’s only 16 minutes from the centre of London by train but you can also be in the depths of the Kentish countryside in that time.
Sat nav for the town centre: BR1 1DN
Postcard from Bromley
My name is Charlotte Rampling and as well as owning Flying Colours Pottery, which is a mobile pottery painting company, I also work part time as a deputy headteacher and SENCo at a local junior school and I’m a mummy to two gorgeous boys. My life is therefore very varied and busy which is what I love most.
As ‘Mrs Flying Colours Pottery’, I can be found flying around Bromley and beyond, bringing colourful pottery workshops to everyone. We offer baby footprints, parties, school workshops, take away boxes and even ‘Prosecco and pottery’ evenings. I link in with local baby groups and cafés as well as visiting people in their own homes.
My passion for pottery started while I was at university. I discovered my first pottery painting studio in the heart of Winchester and would often spend time there. Then, two years after graduating as a teacher, I decided to branch out and opened my very own pottery painting studio in 2004. I then went on to have my own family so decided that having a mobile pottery painting company would be much easier to manage, and so Flying Colours was born.
I have grown up in the borough of Bromley and love the fact that it is so close to London yet it has some village characteristics. I love the range of open green spaces for my boys to explore. Being a local businesswoman myself, I always try to support local businesses too - my favourite place to eat in Bromley has to be the Turkish restaurant Havet and I love to shop in Flutterbyes homeware and gift shop, in the intu shopping centre.