Archive for November, 2012

Bexleyheath’s War Memorial has been moved several times. Its original position from 1921 to 1953 was at the corner of Oaklands Road/Broadway. It lists the names of servicemen killed in both wars.

Bexleyheath Armistice Memorial Service 1937

George Arthur Overton lived at Hillcrest, 317 Broadway with his parents. The family had come to live in Bexleyheath from Great Yarmouth shortly after 1911. He enlisted in the Army and rose to Corporal of 1st/1st Norfolk Yeomanry. He was killed in Gallipoli on 5 December 1915, aged 22. [From Kate Holloway, relative of Mr Overton]

Walter William Printer was born in Dartford in 1896. By 1911 he was living in Smiths Cottages, Graham Road, Bexleyheath and working as a telegraph boy at the Post Office. He joined the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards on 26 November 1914. In November 1915 he was awarded the DCM for conspicuous gallantry in rescuing a wounded man while under fire from the Germans. The local newspaper reported that, while recovering in hospital from his wounds, “he has received a telegram from the Postmaster and staff of Bexley Heath congratulating him on the honour conferred upon him and expressing their admiration of his noble and plucky conduct”. Walter survived the war. He married and had children, and died in 1956. [From research by Trevor Tamsett, volunteer on Changing Times project]



This and more can be seen in the Exhibition pamphlet, which can be downloaded from this site or is available in a printed version.

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Albert Fisher, known as Whistling Rufus, would play his whistle in the Broadway, often standing at the Clock Tower. He was a well-known character. He died in 1942, aged 78.

Whistling Rufus

Other characters in the Broadway were Smokey Joe, who travelled all over the borough with his bicycle which had no tyres. Totty Hardbake was a mad woman who sat on a seat where Brampton Road joins Crook Log and would scare children.

Do we have characters like these nowadays?


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The Parish Squirt

Before 1869, the only fire engine available to Bexley Heath was the ‘parish squirt’ in Bexley Village. It was only after the Eagle pub and an adjoining cottage were destroyed by fire that the Dartford District Highways Board agreed to Bexley Heath’s  request to buy its own fire engine. In April 1869 the Bexley Heath Fire Brigade was formed, consisting of 18 men, all volunteers.

Bexley Heath Fire Brigade 1898

The engine was a two-wheeled vehicle pulled by horses. It could seat four men, while the others had to run alongside it.

Bexley Heath Fire Engine 1898

The Fire Brigade consisted of well-respected men who were part of the distinguished group which marched from the Council Offices to the ceremony of the opening of the Clock Tower in 1912.

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