Archive for July, 2012

The ‘Changing Times’ project reached its conclusion with an event at the United Reformed Church, Geddes Place, Bexleyheath (located near the Clock Tower, behind Nando’s) from 21-22 July 2012.

Exhibition at URC Geddes Place

 We were honoured to have the Mayor of Bexley open the event at 2pm. There was a display of the Broadway’s history, including information and photographs gained through the year-long project, which was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Local artist Paul Liddington had his wonderful paintings of the London to Dover road on view, and Patricia Giles explained the story behind the Bexley Wall Hangings. Our picture quiz and ‘fourth niche’ of the Clock Tower nominations helped to raise money towards the Diamond Jubilee Sculpture Fundraising bid, with prizes generously donated by Bank Restaurant, Cineworld and Tenpin.

 There were also guided walks each day, looking at historical points in the Broadway.

And to finish off, on 22 July at 6.25pm the Olympic Torch passed through Geddes Place and the Broadway on its way to Danson Park.

Rakesh Kumar carrying the Olympic Torch through Geddes Place

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On 22 July the Olympic Flame will arrive in the Borough of Bexley at the River Thames at around 4.15pm. Torchbearers will then carry the Flame on an 8 mile route through the borough to an evening celebration at Danson Park.

The Bexley Torchbearers are Aaron Reynolds, Len Arnold, Sarah-Louise Casey and Kenneth Owen. More information on the Torchbearers is at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=13571

The route of the Torch Relay through Bexley can be seen at http://www.bexley.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=13525

The Olympic Torch will pass through Geddes Place and the Broadway at 6.25pm on 22 July, and will be a fantastic conclusion to our project event at the United Reformed Church that weekend.

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The ‘Changing Times’ project reaches its conclusion with an event at the United Reformed Church, Geddes Place, Bexleyheath DA6 7DJ (located near the Clock Tower, behind Nando’s).

The Mayor of Bexley will open the event on Saturday 21 July at 2pm, and it continues on 21-22 July from 2pm to 6pm with an exhibition of our project. We will be raising money for the Diamond Jubilee Sculpture Appeal through a picture quiz and voting on who should fill the final niche of the Clock Tower, with prizes to be won. Refreshments will be available.

There will also be guided walks of the Broadway at midday on both 21 and 22 July (places bookable by e-mail pennyduggan@yahoo.co.uk or Tel. 020 8309 5884).

And to finish off, on 22 July at 6.25pm the Olympic Torch will pass through the Broadway on its way to Danson Park.

So please come along and see what we have been doing for the last year. And tell your friends and colleagues to come too!

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One hundred years ago, the Clock Tower was nearing completion, in time for its unveiling on 17 July 1912.

Bexleyheath’s Clock Tower nearing completion in 1912. In front is the Pincott Memorial

By the time of King George V’s coronation in 1911 there was need for a clock at the tram terminus which was situated at Market Place. At the same time, plans for some kind of memorial to the coronation were underway. An executive committee of local councillors (including the Chairman, Mr G. Sheldon) and prominent Bexleyheath businessmen (including Messrs Hide, Whomes and Jenkins) was formed to discuss these plans, along with general improvements of the Market Place area. Local architect Walter Maxted Epps’ winning design featured a tower, a clock with four faces, and an electric substation and shelter at the base. The money to build it was to be raised by public subscription.

The foundation stone for the Clock Tower was laid on 8 January 1912. A jar was placed under the foundation stone to explain to any future explorer ‘when Bexleyheath was in ruins’ what had been done in Bexleyheath to celebrate the coronation of King George V. Built by local firm Messrs Friday and Ling for £454, the finished tower stood at 46 ft with a 13ft base.

A memorial to the first vicar of Christ Church, the Rev. W. H. Pincott, had been erected in Market Place in 1879. Originally consisting of a drinking fountain in the form of an obelisk and a cattle trough, the Pincott Memorial was moved to its position outside Christ Church not long after the Clock Tower was built.

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Bexleyheath’s Clock Tower has busts of King George V to the west and artist William Morris to the east. A fundraising campaign has been launched for a bust of Queen Elizabeth II to be placed in the south niche, in time for the 60th anniversary of her coronation in 2013.

Who should fill the remaining empty niche on the north side of the Clock Tower? Can you suggest someone who is worthy of the honour?

The Clock Tower was built to celebrate the coronation of George V. When it was unveiled in 1912 with a bust of the King in the west niche, the architect said that he hoped the remaining niches would be filled by members of the royal family.

King George V

The original bust fell apart during cleaning after the second world war, and it wasn’t until the early 1990s that sculptor John Ravera created a new one.

The rest of the niches remained empty until John Ravera was commissioned to create a bust of William Morris. This was installed in the east niche in 1997.

William Morris and his friends, the pigeons

As you can see, both busts have been befriended by pigeons!

So, are there any notable local residents or famous Bexleyheathens from past or present who deserve to fill the north niche? Perhaps Alfred Bean, who lived at Danson and was instrumental in getting the railway to come to Bexleyheath? Or A. J. Franklin, first Mayor of Bexley? Or Rt Hon. Sir Edward Heath, former Prime Minister who was a Bexley MP 1950-2001, the country’s longest serving MP. Other suggestions:

Rev. W. H. Pincott, first vicar of Christ Church, Bexleyheath

Rev. James Geddes, minister of Congregational Church, Bexleyheath 1868-1920

John Smith of Blendon, builder of Market Place, Bexleyheath. He donated the land for the first Chapel of Ease and was the owner of the Golden Lion pub. His nephew Oswald was the great grandfather of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Local residents have included TV cook Delia Smith, actress Sheila Hancock, singer Kate Bush, singer Boy George, racing magnate Bernie Eccleston, footballer and manager Keith Peacock and his son footballer Gavin Peacock.

Can you think of anyone else?

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