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Whomes

Edmund Whomes came from a family of church organists and he started his piano shop in the Broadway in 1871 when he was appointed organist of Christ Church, a post he held until 1925. His son and grandson continued the shop and it evolved from selling musical instruments to records and gramophones, later to televisions, washing machines and fridges. It survived until 1989 when it could no longer compete with the large chain stores.

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The Clock Tower at Market Place in the Broadway was erected to commemorate the coronation of King George V. The inaugural ceremony for unveiling the clock tower was set for the Bexleyheath Gala day on Wednesday 17 July 1912. Local businesses and shops decorated their premises with bunting and festoons. ‘God Save the King’ banners were hung outside buildings. The whole event, including the gala at Danson Park, was filmed by Harry Pease of the Picture Palace at the Public Hall on Mayplace Road. The films were shown at the pictures on the following weekend. Incredibly, this film survives and can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVQPLkuEcUg

Does anyone have any more recent video footage of the Broadway? Perhaps an event which took place or a parade?

The Duke of Edinburgh pub in Broadway in 1951. The cinema/bingo complex is now on this site.

Only a few of the old pubs remain dotted along the Broadway. Many have been lost.

STILL THERE

The Rose first opened in 1834 but received war damage in 1941. A temporary hut was put on the site until 1955, when the pub was rebuilt.

The Prince Albert first opened in 1851 and still stands, although the terraced houses alongside it are gone and the roads around it are much wider and busier now.

The King’s Arms opened in 1843 and has undergone several refurbishments since then. Now the pub’s setting is dramatically different, with Arnsberg Way and Asda next to it.

The Golden Lion first opened in 1731 and became an important coaching and posting inn on the London to Dover road. The present building dates from 1901.

The Wrong ‘Un opened in 1994 and is named after a cricket term (the pub is built on land that was long ago a cricket ground).

The Furze Wren opened in 2002, originally named Lloyds No 1.

LOST PUBS

There are many lost pubs in the Broadway. Some of them are:

The Duke of Edinburgh was built in 1869. The pub and the adjoining houses were demolished in 1995 for the 9-screen cinema and bingo complex.

The Lord Bexley Arms was originally built in 1826. Next to it was Jenkin’s Library, a book shop and printing works. The whole row was demolished in 1979 for the Broadway Shopping Centre.

King’s Head in Market Place was built in 1840 and remained until 1987.

The Rat and Parrot opened in the building that was once the Broadway Cinema and later converted into a supermarket. It is now a Chinese restaurant.

Eagle, 1852-1960

The Kent Arms 1841-1925

Rising Sun, 1831-1869

Roberts Beerhouse, 1850s-1858

Howell’s Beerhouse, 1816-1930s

Pearman’s Beerhouse, 1841-1847

This information and more is from Jim Packer’s ‘Bexley Pubs’ and ‘Lost Pubs of Bexley, both published by Bexley Council.

(Harold) Robinson Cleaver, born in 1906 and known as Robbie, became a parish church organist at 9 years old. At 11, he played his first cinema organ at the Albert Hall, Sheffield. He went to the Royal Manchester College of Music at 19 and became an Associate of the Royal College of Organists at 21. In the early 1930s he was solo organist at Lonsdale Cinema, Carlisle and within three years he played 900 organ solos from memory.

He became organist of the new Regal Cinema, Bexleyheath at its opening in September 1934. The official souvenir guide says: “The Compton organ, with its wonderful Illuminated Console, marks the highest attainment yet achieved in the realm of music for the theatre. The Illuminated Console is fitted with an amazingly clever system of interior lighting which yields a remarkable range of colours and combinations of colours, all at the control of the Organist”.

In April 1939, civic dignitaries, ARP workers and war veterans held a meeting at the Regal Cinema, Bexleyheath. The organ can be seen in front of the stage. It would rise majestically from the depths when played.

Sadly the organ was destroyed when a bomb hit the Regal during the Second World War, although the Console was undamaged and was shipped to Sao Jorge Cinema in Lisbon (the organ survived there until 1982 when it was removed during a refurbishment). Robinson Cleaver also played for Granada cinemas in Welling, Woolwich, Dartford and Tooting. His wife Molly sometimes played duet with a piano attachment. Robinson Cleaver died in 1987.

Jennings

This is Jennings in 1950, another popular shop. It sold shoes, travel goods, toys, prams, nursery equipment and ‘fancy goods’. The building later became Sainsbury’s and now houses Robert Dyas and Specsavers. Do you remember it?

Hides

Hides department store was in Broadway, Bexleyheath 1851 until 1979. It was a family business and sold a huge range of goods: carpets and linoleum, china, cosmetics, dress materials, furniture, haberdashery, hats, toys… Its delicatessen was very popular. It was demolished and replaced by the Broadway Shopping Centre.

Do you remember the shop? What did you buy there? Were you sad to see it go?

On 18 April 1999 a 1,000lb unexploded German bomb was found during construction of the Broadway Square development. People were evacuated from their homes and the town centre was sealed off while a bomb disposal team dealt with it. According to the BBC News report, people in 70 homes would not leave.

Major Bob Tomkins, overseeing the operation, said: “Some residents are reluctant to leave their homes.

“While it might have been quite laudable in the 1940s with the great British Bulldog spirit, I don’t think it appropriate any more.”

A fragment of the bomb is displayed outside Sainsbury’s.

486 bombs fell on Bexleyheath in 1940 alone.