A Brief History of Elmers End Green

Elmers End, as a district, was first recorded in the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) as land owned by Ralph Aylmer. Researching our local records in Beckenham Library, we find Elmers End Green mentioned in a survey made for local landowner Peter Burrell in 1723.

Elmers End Green in 1723

Elmers End Green in 1723

The little triangle of land is shown in exactly the same shape and location in 1775  and it has continued to be shown in all maps ever since.

MAP OF ELMERS END IN 1775

MAP OF ELMERS END IN 1775

The William IV was a stables as well as a Public House

The William IV in 1870

The William IV in 1870

This building was demolished in 1905 replaced by the present building

William IV 1905 viewed from the Green

William IV 1905 viewed from the Green

In 1919, the Beckenham Local Board purchased the land to the west of the Green for the housing estate, Marion Vian School and allotments, all for our returning war heroes. In 1924, the Green was fencedwith iron railings and made into a children’s play area, and in 1926 seats and a sand heap were provided at the request of Beckenham Women’s Committee.

Elmers End Green 1928

Elmers End Green 1928

In 1934 the one way traffic system was formalised, making Elmerside Road part of the junction for the first time. Before this Croydon Road and Upper Elmers End Road formed a T junction.  In 1936, the new Beckenham Borough Council built the toilets on the Green, partly sunken and screened by shrubs.

Elmers End Green in 1940.

Elmers End Green in 1940.

The photo above was taken on a nice sunny day in 1940. Note a water fountain in bottom left quarter of the picture. Just in front of it, Beckenham’s first dropped kerb crossings “for perambulators” were trialled at the Green in 1934. The railings were taken for the war effort in 1941. The Borough Council re-built the toilets above ground in 1962. They are now closed and the building is sold. It’s future is very uncertain.  During the war there was an air raid shelter on the Green.

Odeon Cinema 1939 to 1957

Odeon Cinema 1939 to 1957

The Odeon Cinema stood on the site of the Muirhead offices, now converted to flats on the corner of the Green. Its closure in 1957 was blamed on the advent of TV! Muirheads research department and offices replaced it in the 1960s.  The flats next to the cinema still stand.

Croydon Road 1968

Croydon Road 1968

In earlier photos the absence of traffic is astounding. By 1968, the roads are still not as crowded as they are now, but things were definitely changing.

In 1998, the Elmers End Residents’ Association and LB Bromley funded the village sign.

The Village Green sign erected in 1998

The Village Green sign erected in 1998

In 2014, the Executive Committee of the London Borough of Bromley refused an application by WBRA to recognise this ancient history by registering Elmers End Green as  Town or Village Green under the Commons Act 2006. This application had the support of local people and organisations and would have cost the council absolutely nothing. But the executive decided that local opinion counted for nothing.

Elmers End Green 2014

Elmers End Green 2014

The toilet block in the centre of the Green has been sold for over £43,000. WBRA was successful in persuading the council not to sell the freehold of the land. We felt it would have been a travesty to have the centre of this historic piece of land owned by a private company. To date (March 2015) no planning application has been made for the change of use of the building.

Many of these photos from Beckenham History Website