|Population||13,651 (2011 Census. Petts Wood and Knoll Ward)|
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Petts Wood is a town in south-east London, England, previously located in the historic county of Kent. It lies south of Chislehurst, west of St Paul's Cray and Poverest, north of Orpington and Crofton, and east of Southborough and Bromley Common. The area forms part of the London Borough of Bromley local authority district in the ceremonial county of Greater London.
The name appeared first in 1577 as "the wood of the Pett family", who were shipbuilders and leased the wood as a source of timber. (A pub, The Sovereign of the Seas, is named after a ship built at Woolwich to a design by Phineas Pett.)
The area remained rural right up until the late 19th century; in 1872 just one house ('Ladywood') stood here. Most of the modern suburb of Petts Wood was built in the late 1920s by the Harlow-based developer Basil Scruby together with architect Leonard Culliford who designed the layout of the roads. A number of individual builders developed individual plots, amongst others the master builder, Noel Rees, as well as Walter Reed and George Hoad. Scruby also paid the Southern Railway Company £6,000 to build Petts Wood railway station to serve the new suburb. Shops and a cinema were also built adjacent to the railway. The intention was to create a high quality estate in a rural setting only a short train journey from the city, with the east side being built first. Noel Rees's name is still used as a selling point by estate agents; his houses can be found in Great Thrift, The Covert, Prince's Avenue, Wood Ride, Kingsway, Chislehurst Road, The Chenies and many other roads in Petts Wood.
The generally higher quality of large homes built to the east of the railway line, as compared to smaller and more densely packed development to the west, was due to the fact that Scruby's increasing financial difficulties meant he had little control over its developers, Morrell's and New Ideal Homesteads. This gave rise to the local references of "Half Crown" or "Five Bob" sides.
The area between Petts Wood and Bickley sustained heavy bombing during Second World War because of its proximity to an important railway junction. Only three bombs landed on the town centre itself, and those by accident as a German aircraft returning from bombing the docklands unloaded them on the end of Fairway, beside the former Embassy Cinema building (closed in 1973 and since re-developed as a supermarket), and on the site now occupied by the Library. The sites lay derelict until the early 1960s, hence why these buildings are much more recent. Prior to that, the library was located in a shop on Queensway, near the junction with Lakeswood Road.
The Jubilee Country Park is to the northwest of the main shopping area. Before this park was created in 1977 the area was known as 'The Gun Sites', as it had been the location for anti-aircraft guns in Second World War, and was the home of the 1st Petts Wood scout group.
According to Keith Waterhouse in his book "Streets Ahead" Petts Wood was popular with Fleet Street newspaper staff in the 1950s: "… this Kent suburb, recommended in Fleet Street for the all-night train service it afforded sub-editors and reporters coming off late duty, thus giving them a round-the-clock, heaven-sent excuse for one more for the road."
In 2009, the local Woolworths store had the privilege of writing the last word in the history of that chain in the UK, when its manager, realising his was the last one to close, gathered the remains of the Pick 'n' Mix sweet section and auctioned the bagful of sweets, which would normally have retailed for a couple of pounds, for £14,500.
The eponymous wood itself survives and is managed by the National Trust. Originally just 88 acres (36 hectares) were bought by public subscription and donated to the Trust in 1927, after it became clear that the area would be developed for housing. This asset expanded when the neighbouring Hawkwood Estate and Edlmann Wood, comprising a further 250 acres (100 hectares), were donated to the Trust by landowners Robert and Francesca Hall in 1957. The woodland features oak, birch, rowan, alder, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut.
Petts Wood station provides the area with National Rail services to London Victoria via Bromley South and Herne Hill, Kentish Town via Bromley South and Catford, London Charing Cross via Grove Park, London Cannon Street via Grove Park and Lewisham, Orpington and Sevenoaks.
Petts Wood is served by London Buses routes 208, 273, N199, R3 and R7. These connect it with areas including Bromley, Catford, Chislehurst, Grove Park, Lewisham and Orpington.
Birchwood Road, Kingsway, and other surrounding roads, were used as a location for the 1978 feature film, 'Give Us Tomorrow', with Sylvia Syms.