Archive for June, 2012

In a BBC TV series presented by Michael Wood, The Great British Story looks at history through the eyes of ordinary people, uncovering what life was like for everyday Britons over the last 1600 years.

At a BBC local history event, we discovered Bexley’s fascinating history and learnt how to delve into our own past, finding out more about family history, archaeology, oral history, artefacts and local heritage.

We were given the opportunity to find OUR place in history:

• Listen to historian, broadcaster and writer Michael Wood discussing The Great British Story
• Track down ancestors with help and advice from family history experts
• Learn how experts conserve and protect treasures from the Museum of London
• Find out how to date old photos
• Learn how to discover the history of your home using local archive sources
• Discover Bexley’s archaeological treasures and show mystery finds to the experts
• Explore the history of Bexley through local heroes, landmarks, working lives and industrial heritage
• Take part in a reminiscence session and share memories of working in and around the Thames Gateway
• Plus a full programme of talks throughout the day


The Bexley Historical Society had a stall at this event and we were kept very busy, with nearly 2000 visitors! We were able to show our new ‘Changing Times’ information panels for the first time, and we were handing out new ‘Broadway Heritage Trail’ self-guided walk leaflets.

The Bexley Historical Society’s stall at The Great British Story, Hall Place, 23 June 2012


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At 10pm on 4 June 2012, following Jubilee celebrations in the Broadway, Bexleyheath, residents of the borough of Bexley were invited to take part in a ceremony at Golden Acre, next to St John’s Church, Bexley village. Following speeches by the Mayor of Bexley, the Deputy Lieutenant of Bexley and the Bishop of Rochester, a Jubilee Beacon was lit, one of over 4000 beacons lit across Britain and the Commonwealth.

Bexley’s Jubilee Beacon at Golden Acre, next to St John’s Church, Bexley village.

Just a simple flame, but there were plenty of fire engines nearby, in case of any emergency! But how did we do Jubilee Beacons in the past? In 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, a beacon was lit in Oaklands Road.

Beacon created in Oaklands Road for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897

That’s what you call a proper beacon! Bexley Heath did already have its own fire brigade by this time, so perhaps they were standing by then too. I wonder how long it took to build this beacon!

There were beacons to celebrate King George V’s coronation in 1911 too. This one looks particularly neat and organised. A work of art!

Beacon created to celebrate the coronation of King George V in 1911

A small exhibition of ‘Royal Broadway’ is on display Christ Church, Bexleyheath from 1 June 2012.

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At midday on 4 June 2012, the Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Alan Downing, unveiled a commemorative plaque at the Clock Tower in Broadway, Bexleyheath. The plaque marks the centenary of the Clock Tower, which was built to commemorate the coronation of King George V.

The plaque, and the interpretation panel in front of the Clock Tower, were designed and installed thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded to the Bexley Historical Society for the ‘Changing Times’ project.

The Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Alan Downing, and Penny Duggan

The day started at 9.15 at the Civic Offices, from where the Civic Parade marched down the Broadway towards Christ Church. As the Boys Brigade band and other groups started off the parade, I was proud to be part of such a historic occasion. Not only was I part of an annual civic event, but this was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as well!

Christ Church was packed with people, and a service of hymns, speeches and readings (not forgetting a card trick by the Archdeacon of Bexley and Bromley) was finished with the national anthem. The church was decorated with flags and flowers of the Commonwealth.

The components of the civic parade regrouped and marched back up the Broadway to the Clock Tower. Hundreds of people had turned out to line the street, moving up towards Market Place for the ceremony. I was honoured to be present on the dais with the Mayor and the Deputy Lieutenant and to give a speech about the ‘Changing Times’ project. The Mayor then pulled a Union Jack which was covering the plaque. How incredible to be part of such a historic occasion.

The commemorative plaque is revealed!

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