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Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

The historic London to Dover road crossed straight through the Bexley Heath, which was until the end of the 18th century wild and deserted. It had a bad reputation: it was a favourite spot for footpads and highwaymen to pounce on travellers.

Just think about the people who travelled up and down it: Julius Caesar, Wat Tyler, Charles II at his Restoration. Yes, the Romans paved it, but it is likely that there were track ways from the Iron Age. Later, medieval pilgrims walked to the tomb of Thomas Becket at Canterbury. In the 18th century the New Cross Turnpike Trust repaired the road in exchange for a toll, and milestones were erected to indicate the distance between the main towns on the road. This was when the Golden Lion became an important coaching and posting inn.

The Broadway follows closely, though slightly to the north, the route of the old Roman Road. The road has been widened and straightened over the years, but one deviation that remains in evidence is Mayplace Road. Travellers crossing the heath towards Crayford on a warm and heavy-going day would often bear to the north of the main road, towards the windmill, avoiding a hill and passing through a lane which had trees for shade.

The Rochester Way, built in 1926, replaced the Broadway as the main London to Dover Road, and more recently the relief roads of Arnsberg Way to the north and Albion Road to the south were constructed. This allowed pedestrianisation of the Broadway in the 1990s and ended the straight line of the old road for traffic. The milestone in the photograph here was saved and repositioned in the middle of the Broadway at its eastern end.

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