Swanley shown within Kent
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Swanley is a town and civil parish under the administration of the Sevenoaks District of Kent, with some outskirts falling under the London Borough of Bromley. Although it still keeps some traditional links with Sevenoaks, in recent times it is heavily identified with South East London, due to the expansion of the Greater London area, and being located on the border between Kent and Greater London. It borders the London Boroughs of Bromley and Bexley, as well as the Dartford Borough. It is within the M25 and its current population is around 22,000.
In 1066, Swanley only consisted of a few cattle farms, surrounded in oak, sycamore and ash (Fraxinus) woodland. Because Swanley only consisted of a few homesteads, it was not mentioned in the Domesday Book.
There is a theory that the placename Swanley developed from the Saxon term 'Swine-ley', "Ley" meaning a clearing in the woods and "swine" meaning pigs. So it has been suggested that it was originally a Saxon pig farm. This later developed into what we now know as Swanley.
In the 6th and 7th Centuries, there were probably two homesteads. After the Norman Conquest, these portions of land were turned into manors, which were then often divided among the monks at Ghent Abbey and Bermondsey. The original settlement of the town of Swanley (as opposed to modern-day Swanley Village) was based around Birchwood which does get mention in later medieval and early modern documents.
The town developed from a crossroads with very few buildings to a town with a population of 16,588 (in 2001) in one and a half centuries. It had only three houses before the advent of the railway in 1861. The newer settlement grew up around the railway junction and was originally named Swanley Junction, it became Swanley, and the original Swanley became Swanley Village, in the 1920s.
The arrival of the railway changed life in Swanley. The town became the location of Swanley Horticultural College which opened in 1887 and led to horticulture becoming the predominant industry. The college originally only catered for male students. Then in the early 1890s the first female students were admitted. Local Nurseries and florists’ outlets blossomed, while casual farm labouring job opportunities on farms became in short supply. Some properties in Swanley still have apple and pear trees in their gardens from the original orchards. The college amalgamated with Wye College near Canterbury.
Contrary to popular myth, Swanley was never a major flower growing or orchard area (at least not more so than any other part of North Kent) however its location became attractive for London doctors seeking a cure for sick Londoners, escaping the smog of London.
Three hospitals were established, the Kettlewell (or Alexandra) Hospital in 1885, Parkwood Hospital in 1893 and White Oak Hospital in 1897. The Kettlewell stood on the site of Asda's car park and was for poor patients from London who needed to recuperate after major surgery. The Parkwood hospital was similarly used and White Oak was originally for children with eye diseases. During both World war I and II, Kettlewell and Parkwood were used as military hospitals, Parkwood become part of the Sidcup Hospital for facial injuries. After 1948, and the creations of the National Health Service, meant these old London Hospitals became redundant - Kettlewell and White Oak closed in 1959 and Parkwood ceased being a hospital in the early 1960s. Currently, the gates of White Oak can still be seen opposite Swanley Police Station in London Road, the Roman Catholic Church in Bartholomew Way is on the site of Kettlewell's chapel and Parkwood still exists in its entirety in Beechenlea Lane as Parkwood Hall School (a residential and day school).
The parish of Swanley was created in 1955 from neighbouring parishes of Farningham and Sutton at Hone reflecting the developments of the town and increase in population. In 1974 the parish council became a Town Council and included the settlements of Hextable, Swanley Village and the main town of Swanley. In 1988, Hextable was formed into a separate parish council.
Location and Transport
Today, Swanley is essentially a commuter and distribution centre, home to a mainly lower-middle and working class population. It relies on trading via its rail links to Central London and its proximity to the M25 motorway. Being on the outskirts of south east London, it is a convenient commuter town for people who work in the city, as they can still be paid the London living wage. The town borders the London Borough of Bromley, London Borough of Bexley and the Dartford Borough of Kent.
The majority of housing development took place from the post-war peroid to late 1980s. A new fire station was opened in 1962, and new post office two years later. Victorian houses and shops were demolished to create a new town centre. Its 1970s shopping centre was then re-modelled in the 1990s when the Asda supermarket was extended and is one of the larger Asda stores.
Swanley railway station is located a short distance from the town centre. Trains London bound include fast services to London Victoria via Bromley South, and metro services to Kentish Town via Catford. Kent bound services include Sevenoaks, Gillingham and Ashford International Via Maidstone East.
Regular bus routes that pass through the town include the Transport For London Bus 233 to Eltham via Sidcup, and Arriva Kent Bus 477 to Orpington, and Bluewater via Dartford. There are several other infrequent services that go to places further in Kent including Dartford, Sevenoaks and West Kingsdown.
Between 1974 and 1999 Swanley Town Council was Independent controlled, from 1999 the Town Council was Labour controlled with Conservative/Independent minority but in May 2011 the Conservatives took control with 10 councillors to the 6 held by Labour. At County Council both ward councillors representing Swanley and area are Conservative and at Sevenoaks District Council the Town is represented by three Labour councillors and three Conservative [one gained from Labour in 2011].
Local business sponsor the floral displays, while the Town Council maintains the grass verges and open spaces. The residential is a mix of private housing with social housing on two main estates at St Mary's and White Oak largely provided by West Kent Housing Association based in Swanley Centre.
Swanley Park (which covers 60 acres of countryside) was previously known as New Barn park as it was previously New Barn Farm until various fields and orchards were bought by the Town Council to protect the green belt between Hextable and Swanley. There remains acknowledgement of the former use (as a farm) with an avenue of fruit trees remaining and new avenues of trees linking the car parks to the central area of play areas, cafe and paddling pool and water play and boating lake. The Town Council has maintained old hedgerows and trees around the outside of the park and has created allotments and an environment area that is now managed by local volunteers. The park is home to Swanley Athletics club and hosts a number of county cross country races and other events each year. Around one of the large fields is Swanley New Barn Model railway (running on 800 metres of track) operated by a group of volunteers throughout the summer. A classical music and firework event - called the '1812 Night' - is held on the Friday before the August bank holiday.
At the Western boundary of Swanley was the 'Bull Hotel' which had a long history at the site serving the passing trade, during the 1980s to 2000 this changed to Hickorys Nightclub (1st Leisure Group) and then was renamed 'Deja Vu Nightclub' after a refurbishment in the middle 1990's, and in 2011 was rebuilt to create a hotel and restaurant operated by Premier Inns. Due to the recession of 2009-2010, the 'Birchwood Pub' closed leaving only 'The Lullingstone' in Swanley Centre, 'The Lamb' and 'Red Lion' in Swanley Village and 'The Olympic' in Beechenlea Lane, the latter operated by the Council and providing a bowls green, a snooker hall and a golf driving range.
- In Swanley Park (New Barn Park) is the Swanley New Barn Railway and boating lake.
- Swanley Indoor Bowling Club
- White Oak Sports Centre - With flumes and large swimming pool, gym, squash courts.
- Several Schools - 6 Primary and 1 College (Orchards Academy).
- The Woodlands Conference and Wedding Centre
- The Alexandra Suite and Clocktower Conference and Wedding centre
- The Swanley Recreation ground - otherwise known as the Rec which has a skate park, football pitches and tennis courts.
- As well as the large Asda supermarket there are also several other shops including Superdrug, Pie & Mash shop, Boots, Aldi, Wilkinsons, Iceland, Holland & Barrett, Subway, beauty salons, a couple of bakers and several Estate Agents, betting Shops and nail bars (2013). Banks include a Barclays and a NatWest. There is also a Post Office/Sorting Office.
- Dispensing Chemists x 3 in the town centre + another in Azalea Drive near the railway station
- Fire station
- Police station
- Birchwood Golf Club
- The Olympic Golf Range Conference Centre
- Swanley Outdoor Bowls Club (Olympic)
- Tourist Information Centre/Cafe
- Dominos Pizza
- Parkview Vets
- 5 Indian Takeaways
- 3 Kebab/Fish & Chip shops
- 3 Petrol Garages
- Two Health Centres (The Cedars and The Oaks)
- And a Specialist BMX Shop
Moose International meets as the Swanley Invicta Lodge and Circle at the St. Mary's Church Hall, while other several other organisations such as the Royal British Legion and the Swanley Light Opera Group meet at the Five Wents Memorial Hall. There are many clubs for elderly at the Alexandra suite and other centres and the Town Council offers trips and entertainment for over 60s who are residents of the Swanley Parish.
Places of worship
The Victorian St Mary the Virgin's Church is the Anglican parish church of Swanley. The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Apostles was registered for worship in 1965, superseding a church hall used since 1931. Christ Church, originally Congregational and registered in 1904, is now part of the United Reformed Church. Also in the town are the Swanley Full Gospel Church (Assemblies of God), Elim Christian Centre (Elim Pentecostal), a Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall and a Brethren meeting room.
Orchards Academy is the local secondary school. It is a technology college, a status achieved in January 2005. It was formerly the Swanley Technology College. It has now become an academy (meaning it is no longer under Kent County Council ) as part of the Kemnal Academies Trust (a Multi Academy Trust that currently oversees 12 Academies comprising eight secondary schools and four primary schools). Other nearby schools include Hextable School and Kemnal Technology College.
Alma Swanley F.C. was a popular local side but went bankrupt. Swanley Furness F.C. is the town's new team, though many support nearby Crockenhill F.C. as it is more successful. Springfield F.C is a popular local youth football club, which was formerly run from and trained in Swanley, but now are based in Hextable, training on the grounds of Hextable School. Hexley Rangers F.C. is a FA Charter Standard (Hextable/Swanley) community-based junior football club that play at Downsview Primary School. Petham Park Panthers (www.ppp.com) is another FA Charter club.
Cricket is also a very popular sport, with many playing it on the village green in summer.
Athletics is also very popular. The Swanley and District Athletic Club, founded in 1988, meets at New Barn Park. http://www.swanleyanddistrictac.org/ the club organises and helps run a number of annual running and cross-country events. The club is strong in promoting athltics for youngsters and has a good coaching section.
Swimming is also popular at White Oak leisure centre where White Oak Swimming Club train. Swanley Sub Aqua Club meet at the pool on Monday nights. SSAC is an independent club that has been training people to dive safely since 1967. Since 2009 it has been offering free PADI training for club members.
Sidcup and District Motor Cycle Club owns the Canada Heights international motocross circuit at Button Street, Swanley. The venue was first used in 1948 and was purchased by the club in the 1980s; an adjacent 17.5 acre grass field was purchased in 2008. The club became a limited company in 2007, but all directors are unpaid and all profits go to improving facilities at Canada Heights. A round of the ACU British Motocross Championship is run each year as well as open Motocross, Enduro and Trials events for all types of motorcycles.
The motor racing circuit Brands Hatch is situated five miles from Swanley.
- Janice Hadlow, controller BBC 2, went to school in Swanley.
- Alan Knott, Kent and England cricketer, spent his childhood in Swanley.
- Crispian St. Peters, singer and guitarist, born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley.
- Mark Steel, columnist and comedian, born and grew up in Swanley.
- Mike Stock, songwriter and record producer, came from Swanley.
- James Dickson Innes (painter) died of Tuberculosis in 1914, aged 27 in nursing home in Swanley.
- Verrières-le-Buisson in France
- "Swanley 11-12 Edit:MAIN GUIDE TEMPLATE" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- "Microsoft Word - swanleyvillagespg.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- [dead link]
- "SWANLEY INVICTA 305". Mooseorg.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- Homan, Roger (1984). The Victorian Churches of Kent. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. p. 93. ISBN 0-85033-466-7.
- The London Gazette: . 22 January 1965. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- The London Gazette: . 10 May 1904. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- Registered in accordance with the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (Number in Worship Register: 39640; Name: Christ Church; Address: Swanley; Denomination: United Reformed Church). Retrieved 23 November 2012. (Archived version of list)
- Registered in accordance with the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (Number in Worship Register: 77062; Name: Swanley Full Gospel Church; Address: Hockenden Lane, Swanley; Denomination: Christians not otherwise designated). Retrieved 23 November 2012. (Archived version of list)
- Registered in accordance with the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (Number in Worship Register: 77271; Name: Elim Pentecostal Church; Address: 36 Cherry Avenue, Swanley; Denomination: Elim Pentecostal Church). Retrieved 11 November 2012. (Archived version of list)
- Registered in accordance with the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (Number in Worship Register: 76684; Name: Kingdom Hall; Address: Bremner Close/London Road, Swanley; Denomination: Jehovah's Witnesses). Retrieved 11 November 2012. (Archived version of list)
- Registered in accordance with the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 (Number in Worship Register: 77723; Name: Meeting Room; Address: Leydenhatch Lane, Hextable, Swanley; Denomination: Christians not otherwise designated). Retrieved 11 November 2012. (Archived version of list)
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