Opinion

I still regard all parts of Bromley borough (and Bexley) as being in Kent

Chislehurst, Orpington and Petts Wood … at different times in my life I have owned houses in all of them and always, when writing my address, I would insert the word ‘Kent’ as part of it. As I’m sure you know, they can all be found in the Borough of Bromley but, for increased accuracy, I should, of course, say the London Borough of Bromley.

Does it really matter, you might ask? Well, for me, I would give the Paul Daniels answer: “Not a lot!” Provided the letter reached the right address, ‘who cares’ would be my attitude.

For a while, I didn’t just live in the borough, I also worked there based in Chislehurst Road, Orpington, in the employ of the News Shopper group of free distribution newspapers. At the time I was living down the Old Kent Road not far from the Bricklayers’ Arms in south-east London. There’s that Kent word again! If you are raised in the Old Kent Road, trust me, working in Orpington was like visiting the countryside. I regarded our Orpington office as being in Kent even though Bromley had been declared a London borough just a few years earlier on April 1, 1965.

The Cricketers pub in the Knoll area of Orpington has had its exterior overhauled. It was my local when I worked in the News Shopper office some 50 yards down the road towards the High Street.

I was steadfastly of the opinion that Orpington was in Kent. And it was only the prospect of earning some money that got me to change my mind. You see, the London Evening Standard newspaper was looking for correspondents to send them stories from Bromley Borough and my then editor, one Ian Mackenzie (dad of former Sun editor, Kelvin) helped me to get on their radar. When I phoned copy into the paper my correspondent’s name (a sort of call sign and a way of ensuring the right guy got paid) was “Buckley of Chislehurst”. Friends use to rag me endlessly that I should have signed up as Buckley of Bickley (which is nearby), but I didn’t see the funny side of it. I was very serious in my journalistic youth.

Anyhow, I digress. Is it Bromley, Kent, or Bromley, London? The latter still doesn’t sound right to me. I made the mistake of saying as much to a good friend who still resides in the borough. He set me straight saying words along the lines of “it might not matter to you, matey, but being a ratepayer in a London borough makes a big difference to me”.

Why? I had the temerity to ask. “Thanks to BoJo (then Mayor of London, but now attempting to run the country) I can travel anywhere in the city for free.”

Petts Wood High Street five years ago. Picture: Andrew Bowden

Yes, good old PM Johnson was instrumental in over-60s living in Greater London getting Oyster cards for free. And that’s not just for travel on the buses. My mate can also travel without paying on Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in the city. Used properly and regularly, that can equal a significant saving for the capital’s old foggies. What makes you think I’m jealous?

Me? I’ll carry on saying that every place name in Bromley borough is in Kent. I think the names trip off the tongue better that way and it’s my preference.

By the way, I should add that my comments about Bromley borough also apply to areas in the (London) Borough of Bexley such as Bexleyheath and Sidcup.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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