A Portrait of Beckham from the Directory of 1902

When the Thomson Local arrives on your doorstep I don’t suppose you think of it as a historic document but its forerunner the Beckenham Directory now gives a wonderful portrait of everyday life in Beckenham some 100 years ago, so perhaps it is only a matter of time.

The Directory was printed and published by T W Thornton who were also responsible for the Beckenham Journal, available every Friday evening for one penny and for the provision of a circulating library. On their premises was a ‘Telephone Call Room’ a feature also to be found on the corner of High Street and Albemarle Road. You could reach Podger & Sons, Launderers, Dyers & Cleaners by calling 9 & 16 Bromley. Telephones could be fitted and repaired by G Clarke Cycles on Church Hill.

Some shops could be wonderfully diverse – my favourite is J Shaw who advertised as Tobacconist, Hairdresser and Cricket & Football Outfitter! Filby Hairdressers offered to ‘wait on customers at their own residences’ and stocked a Paraffin Hair Tonic. Lighting was supplied by the Crystal Palace District Gas Company although a station at Arthur Road provided electricity for lighting. Oscar Jones, Ironmongers had a new department offering electric lighting installation and repairs. Horses would still have dominated the roads. Thomas Tilling had Livery Stables at the Railway Hotel (on the Beckenham Green site). There were shoeing forges adjacent to the Bricklayer’s Arms and in Chancery Lane and the High Street had a Saddler, Harness Maker and Wheelwright. Henry Dean, Carriage Builder was at 8 Bromley Road.

The Public Hall had been built in 1884 and was used by the Freemasons, BADS (Amateur Dramatics) and Orchestral & Choral Societies. The Beckenham Brass Band however practised at the George Inn. Between this pub and Kelsey Square was Howard’s Stores & Assembly Rooms, providing two Ballrooms and a Supper Room with ‘Pleasant Sunday Afternoon’ meetings. If you wanted to host an event G J Ribbens, Baker Cook & Confectioner catered for functions and provided marquees and waiters.

Cricket was obviously popular. The Beckenham C C, with Albemarle Cator as President, had 500 playing and honorary members with 100 ladies for tennis & croquet. Swimming Clubs were based at Beckenham Baths which had opened the previous year, providing outdoor & covered swimming baths plus first & second class Slipper Baths. Next door was the Beckenham Technical Institute & School of Art with laboratories and workshops which also offered evening & domestic classes. Meanwhile at the ‘Home of Compassion’ at 4 Oakhill Villas 12 girls were trained for service by volunteers. The Volunteer Rifle Corps had been founded in 1899 and had their HQ at Elm Cottage near the Three Tuns. Enrolment was on Friday evenings and the five shilling fee covered kit and the use of the Reading & Billiard Rooms.

The Cottage Hospital had grown from its original provision of four beds to include an operating room and children’s wing. Its annual expenditure of 600 was raised by contributions and patients, who required a subscriber’s letter, paid 3/6 per week. Friends could visit Thursdays and Sundays 3-4 pm. A Dispensary had been established in 1897 to provide medical aid for the working classes making nominal weekly payments. A visit to the doctor cost one shilling but it was 2/6 if he called. B Edwards, Watch & Clockmaker of Rectory Road offered sight testing and the making up of spectacles & eyeglasses. Maids caps & aprons could be purchased at Rouch & Sons or E B Goody and alpine underclothing was stocked at Adam Bros. There was a Home & Colonial Store or John George, Provision Merchant undertook to deliver by 11am orders received by first post.

Things were changing in the town. The River Beck was now culverted alongside the High Street and trees on the approach roads had been felled. The two railways had united to become the South East & Chatham Railway. The population of 26,330 paid a poor rate of 2/7 in the pound and could purchase the Beckenham Directory with map for 1/6. They probably threw it away at the end of the year so we are fortunate that this piece of history is still available at Bromley Local Studies Library.


18th year of issue with map 18d – subscribers 1/-
Printed and published by TW Thornton at printing & bookbinding works
42 & 44 High Street. Publisher of Beckenham Journal every  Friday evening 1d
Also circulating library and telephone call room.

Population in 1901 26,330. Birth Rate 21.7 per 1000, Death rate 8.4 per 1000

Governed by Urban District Council opposite church – 7 wards, 19 members. Poor Rate 2/7 in

Public Hall 1884 by George Vigers. Seats 500/150. Societies including BADC (amateur dramatics) & Freemasons. Orchestral & Choral Societies

Fire Station next to Public Hall – manual engine, hose cart & fire escape

Poice cases tried at Bromley

Banks – London & County, Church Hill (Nat West), London & Provincial, High Street.
London, City & Midland, Beckenham Road. Fireproof strong rooms.

Three Board Schools – Bromley Road Beckenham, Alexandra District & Arthur Road.
Beckenham High School – opposite Clockhouse Station. Headmaster H Stone. New buildings. Hall to let.

1891 Two new recreation grounds. Alexandra celebrated by 8,000 medals and kiosk & fountain

Public Baths – Beckenham Road 1901. Outdoor & covered swimming (summer only)
First & second class slipper. Swimming Clubs

Cottage Hospital 1872, 1890s operating room & childrens’ wing
Subscribers letter required plus 3/6 per week
Friends visiting Sundays & Thursdays 3-4pm
Charitable Society established 1876 would grant relief after investigating merits of cases.

Provident Dispensary established 1897
Medical aid for provident working classes by members. Weekly payments. Eligible if wages less than 35/- per week on 15 per year in domestic service. Visit to the doctor 1/-, 2/6 to call

Home of Compassion 4 Oakhill Villas, Bromley Road for 12 girls trained for service and taught by volunteers.

eckenham Technical Institute & School of Art – laboratories & workshops.
Evening classes & domestic classes.

School of Modern Art at Church Hill (the Yellow Door). Temperance Societies

Volunteer Rifle Corps ‘L’ Company of 2nd volunteer Battalion Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) 1899. HQ at Elm Cottage 87 High Street adjacent Austins
Enrolment Friday evenings. Fee 5/-. Free kit. Reading & Billiard Room

Beckenham Brass Band practice at the George Inn.

Beckenham Horticultural Society re-organised 1892. 200 members. Reading Room (300 books), lectures & shows.

Two Freemason Lodges. Ancient Order of Foresters. Oddfellows. Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes.

Cricket Club at Beckenham Place Park. Founded 1866. President Albemarle Cator
500 playing & honorary members. 50 juniors. 100 ladies for tennis & croquet.

Football & Rugby Football

Beckenham Golf Club
5 mins from Woodside Station on the old Croydon Racecourse. Private 120 acres . Laid out 1892. Sunday play allowed. 295 members. 3.5 guineas annual subscription.
Ladies club near Shortlands Station (9 holes) 20 acres 1894.

Polo Club at Eden Park. Athletic, Hockey & Bowls clubs.

Lighting by Crystal Palace District Gas Company. Station at Arthur Road provides electricity for lighting.

Lambeth Water Co mains, turncock & assistance.

LCD & South Eastern now SE & Chatham Railway (1899)

1881 Almshouses restored & enlarged

River Beck in culvert along High Street. Trees on approach roads felled

Howards Stores & Assembly Rooms – 67-9 High Street
Ballroom 50’ X 27’ – Supper Room. Small Ballroom 40’ x 27’
Pleasant Sunday afternoon meetings.

Routley & Co Pharmaceutical Chemists – 60 High Street
Offers chemical & microscopical analyses water/milk/food also photographic and scientific apparatus

Rich & Hagges Family Butchers – opposite station – fine pickled tongues

H Podger & sons – Launders, Dyers and cleaners
17 Albemarle Road. Tel: 9 & 16 Bromley

Ferris & Son – Saddler

J Randall – Nurseryman, florist and practical gardener
Blakeney Road. Offered to lay tennis courts

W Payne – shoeing & general smith & locksmith
37-9 Chancery Lane

G J Ribbens, Beckenham Road – Baker, cook & confectioner.
Functions. Tent & Marquees. Waiters.

B Edward, 9 Rectory Road. Clocks wound and kept by contract. Sight tested. Eye glasses and spectacles made.

High Street corner Albemarle Road – telephone call room

Railway Hotel with Thomas Tilling livery stables
Shoeing forge adjacent to Bricklayers

52 = Harness maker, 86 = Saddler, 84 = Umbrella manufacturer, 88 = Foresters Arms, 100 Home & Colonial.

54 = J Shaw – tobacconist, cricket & football outfitter, hairdresser

34c = Cooper & Black – cowkeeper & dairyman

37 = Rouch & Sons – Draper& Milliners. Maids’ aprons & caps.

26 = E G Filby – Hairdresser. Customers waited on at own residence. Paraffin hair tonic.

45 = W R Gunton – Jewellers

34a Church Hill = G Clarke – cycles. Maker of the ‘Beckenham’. Telephones fitted & repaired.

66 = Adams Bros – alpine underclothing

62 = Oscar Jones – ironmongers. Electric lighting installed and repaired.

Bromley Road  = Henry Dean – carriage builder.

62 Bromley Road = Carpenter & Son – sign writer. Portmanteau and packing cases written at short notice.

10 Albemarle Road = John George – provision merchant. Orders received by first post delivered within 3 miles by 11am.

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