Avenue Road, Bexleyheath, Kent
Road in/near Bexleyheath, existing between 1875 and now
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runs south from Bexleyheath railway station.
took its name from its distinct avenue of elm trees. The line of trees led to the Manor House which had been built in 1769 by William Wheatley. In 1858 the house was pulled down and in August 1874 the Wheatley estate was sold off fetching c.£170,000. The open land being sold for building development including new homes. Large detached houses were built, starting in the south end of the street.
Market gardening remained the main local industry which benefited greatly with the coming of the railway to Bexleyheath in 1895. By the turn of the twentieth century, large nurseries had appeared on both sides of the road.
The railway fuelled development and the market gardens gave way to further housing.
Sadly, The trees were felled in 1936, bringing the streetscape into line with many others locally.
Avenue Road, Bexleyheath on 4 November 1914, looking north towards Pickford Lane and Bexleyheath station.
Behind the trees on the right can be seen large detached houses. Greenhouses appear behind the opposite row of trees on the left-hand side.
Bexleyheath is the current administrative centre for the London Borough of Bexley and the main shopping centre for the borough.
For almost its entire history Bexleyheath was a heath bordering Watling Street, the ancient Roman road between London and Dover. The heath was notorious for highwaymen, and coaching inns were built along the road to provide a refuge for travellers. These inns, some of which still stand today, were a stimulus for further development in the area. In addition the enclosure of the heath in 1819 meant that the land could be more easily developed and slowly the town of Bexleyheath grew to prominence, overtaking Bexley in terms of population well before the end of the 19th century.
The first church on the heath was a chapel-of-ease built in 1836 near what is now Oaklands Road. This was followed by a permanent place of worship, Christchurch, in 1877.
The area grew in importance until in 1880 it had its first representatives on the Bexley Local Board, one of whom, Alfred Bean, was the chairman. Bean was a railway engineer and entrepreneur who moved into Danson Mansion in 1862 and together with other luminaries such as William Morris (who built his Red House in Upton) helped to raise the profile of Bexleyheath. The Bexleyheath Railway Line arrived in 1895.
The town was in the middle of a thriving agricultural area and had a market place that became the centre of the new development where the clock tower, built in 1912, is today. Commercial premises soon arrived and stores such as Penny, Son & Parker, Hides and Jenkins General Stores attracted shoppers to the area in great numbers.
At the start of the 1930s the town was still concentrated along Watling Street, but by the end of the decade the picture had changed dramatically. The first major development was the Brampton Park Estate, built by DC Bowyer, with new roads being laid out between the old country lanes of Brampton Road
and Pickford Lane. Smaller developments of the 1930s were built by New Ideal Homesteads in the Pelham Road area.