The Clocktower in Bexleyheath
|Population||31,929 (2011 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|• Charing Cross||12 mi (19 km) WNW|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||DA6, DA7|
01322 (eastern parts)
Bexleyheath is a town in south-east London, England, located in the historic county of Kent. It had a population of 31,929 as at 2011.
Bexleyheath is located 12 miles (19.3 km) south-east of Charing Cross, and forms part of the London Borough of Bexley. It is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in London. Its wider definition is that of a small post town that takes in other surrounding neighbourhoods, including Barnehurst, much of West Heath and the former hamlet of Upton.[a]
Until the early 19th century, Bexley heath was a broad rough pasture and scrubland with few buildings. Its windmill stood where Erith and Mayplace Roads now meet. The heath bordered Watling Street. In 1766 Sir John Boyd had Danson House built in his enclosed land ("park"). The core of this remains as Danson Park between the southern halves of Bexleyheath and Welling. In 1814 most of the rest of what was Bexley heath, north of Bexley, became enclosed (privatised) with a fund of money given in compensation to trustees for the poor of the parish.
In 1859 architect Philip Webb designed Red House for artist, reforming designer and socialist William Morris on the western edge of the heath, in the hamlet of Upton—before Upton became a suburb. The National Trust acquired the house in 2003. Morris wanted to have a "Palace of Art" in which he and his friends could enjoy producing works of art. The house is of red brick with a steep tiled roof and an emphasis on natural materials. It is in a brick-and-tile style to resemble cumulative generational additions. Its layout and geometrics are non-uniform and it is recognised and protected with highest category (Grade I) listed building status as it is avant-garde to influential Arts and Crafts architecture. Morris lived with wife Jane in the house for five years, during which time their two daughters, Jenny and May, were born. Needing to sell the house in 1865 to economise, Morris vowed never to return to it; he said that to see the house again would be more than he could bear.
Bexleyheath's parish church, Christ Church, dates from 1841; and the ecclesiastical parish from 1866; the building of the current church finished in 1877. Alfred Bean, railway engineer and one-time owner of Danson House, furthered the development of Bexleyheath as a London suburb by championing the Bexleyheath Line in the 1880s to support the growth of estates around Danson Park.
The clock tower at the centre of the modern shopping area, built in 1912, commemorates the coronation of King George V.
Bexleyheath became the administrative base for the London Borough of Bexley when the borough was formed in 1965. The town centre shops and road layout were redeveloped in the 1980s and 1990s. The latter decade saw the pedestrianisation of the road adjacent to the shopping centre having built two minor bypass roads, Arnsburg Way and Albion Way.
Bexleyheath has a slight architectural divide formed by Crook Log/Arnsberg Way/Watling Street: the DA6 postcode district, the south of this, as with Barnehurst to the north-east, has more architecturally elaborate homes and features Danson House and the Red House. The south-western limit is the eastern half of nearly rectangular Danson Park. Mainly facing, otherwise in part taken from the park to feature on the west side, Danson Road many large houses, of which a few have modernist elements.
In the west of DA7 (the north-west of Bexleyheath) houses are predominantly semi-detached and 1930s. This zone includes part of the Bostall Park Estate, built by the developers Feakes & Richards.
The vast majority of restaurants and eateries are on Broadway. The south side of the central, pedestrianised section of Broadway hosts Broadway Shopping Centre, a covered example completed in 1984, and a substantial supermarket four years later,[b] as in other urban places including New Towns. A cinema stands to the east facing a medium-sized supermarket.
A renovation in 2008 on "The Mall" gave the centre a more modern interior. The appending of "Bexleyheath Square" took place in the early 2000s, more retail units. Much of this investment provides local competition to Bluewater Shopping Centre, 5+1⁄2 miles (8.9 km) east in Greenhithe, Kent.
The statue outside the Broadway Centre is "Family Outing" by local artist John Ravera; it was commissioned by Norwich Union and unveiled in 1985.
In May 2009 a major redevelopment scheme was approved by the local council following public consultation. This involved the redevelopment of the Bexley council buildings. The magistrates' court was to move to a new building where the library stands, which would be incorporated into the new development of 300 new homes. The work did not proceed as the shopping centre was sold.
In work commencing 2012, the Borough's Civic Offices were converted from the former main office of The Woolwich, which had been vacant seven years. For the resultant vacant site in June 2018, housebuilder Bellway was approved to build 518 homes, of which 110 affordable. The development will include Bexleyheath's tallest building (13 storeys), public realm improvements and offices/retail.
Given cumulative retail investment, Bexleyheath draws many customers particularly from Erith, Thamesmead, Plumstead and Woolwich which adjoin the River Thames.
Bexleyheath has leisure facilities including the Edward Alderton Theatre, Cineworld cinema, hotel, the Central Library, Bexley Local Studies and Archive Centre, five-a-side football centre, bingo hall and ten-pin bowling alley (Ten Pin).
Bexleyheath and Belvedere Hockey Club are based in Welling, but play some home matches at Erith School.
Cultural events include regular concerts by the Sidcup Symphony Orchestra held in the hall of Townley Grammar School. The town's theatre, founded in 1976, produces many amateur productions.
There are four secondary schools in Bexleyheath, namely Bexleyheath Academy, St Catherine's Catholic School for Girls, St Columba's Catholic Boys' School and Townley Grammar School.
The town is served by Bexleyheath railway station, 3⁄4 kilometre (0.5 mi) north-west of the centre on Station Road. The station is on the Bexleyheath Line, the middle of three lines connecting London and Dartford. Rail services connect the station to London Victoria via Peckham Rye, London Charing Cross, London Cannon Street, Barnehurst, Gravesend and Dartford.
Bexleyheath is an important hub for Transport for London bus services. There are services connecting it with Bromley, Crayford, Dartford, Eltham, Erith, Lewisham, North Greenwich, Orpington, Sidcup, Thamesmead, Welling and Woolwich.