Nine David Bowie landmarks in Bromley every fan can visit in just over an hour
PUBLISHED: 13:19 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:22 04 August 2017
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The Starman spent most of his young life in the borough
Any fan of David Bowie could go to visit his memorial in Brixton, but for the die-hard groups who worship the Starman, Bromley offers some of the closest links.
Beckenham, Bromley and Chislehurst all have a claim to stake in the artistic legend’s life, from his childhood home, to some of the first venues he played and even the hallowed steps where he penned some his most iconic songs.
Following his death aged 69 in January 2016, it was revealed the father-of-two made a secret trip back to his routes with his family, and with the handy guide below, fans can visit nine Bowie landmarks in just over an hour if they’re travelling by car.
So just where did Bowie spend his Golden Years?
1. Plaistow Grove.
Sure, he was born in Brixton in 1947, but by the time he was eight-years-old Bowie and his family had moved in to Plaistow Grove, a street which would become his childhood home, having previously lived in Clarence Road and Cannon Road, both nearby in Bickley.
2. Burnt Ash Primary School, Rangefield Road.
Formerly Burnt Ash Junior School, Bowie began learning her once he had moved into Plaistow Grove in 1955.
3. Ravens Wood School, Oakley Road.
The young dude began studying at Bromley Technical High School in 1958. The all-boys school has since changed its name to Ravens Wood School, but remains at its Oakley Road site. Bowie would leave the school in 1963 with one O-Level (GCSE) in Art. It was here that Bowie was taught by Owen Frampton, the father of rock legend Peter Frampton.
Following his death, the school paid tribute to its legendary alumni, saying “David Bowie is one of us”.
4. Chislehurst Caves, Caveside Close, Old Hill.
In 1962, Bowie played at the caves with his first ever band, The Konrads, while other bands including The Rolling Stones and Status Quo also graced the former bomb shelter. Now the 22-mile long stretch of intersecting tunnels is open to members of the public from Wednesday to Sunday each week.
5. Bromley Court Hotel, Bromley Hill.
Once home to the Bromel Club, the hotel played host to the likes of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, but amongst the giants of 1960s rock, a 15-year-old Bowie played the venue with The Konrads in 1963.
6. Three Tuns (Now Zizzi on High Street, Beckenham)
Just call him ‘Zizzi Stardust’. Bowie spent plenty of time at The Three Tuns pub together with fellow artists and musicians to form the Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969, a movement which culminated in a free festival, where was it? In 2001, a plaque was raised remembering the days when the style-icon would perform at the pub, which has since shut down and become a Zizzi restaurant, but inside is a mural painted by an adoring fan, Sara Captain.
Not only was the pub a favourite haunt and venue for the arts lab, but it was also here the enigmatic musician first came up with the character of Ziggy Stardust.
7. Foxgrove Road, Beckenham
In April 1969, the Starman began lodging with landlady and lover Mary Finnigan, another member of the Beckenham Arts Lab. The journalist and writer told the Bromley Times in an interview she came home one day to find a love song Bowie had penned about his future wife, Angie. She went on to tell us more about living with Bowie, who was, in her own words, “open, caring and charming, but also very moody”.
8. Croydon Road Recreation Ground and the Bowie Bandstand, Croydon Road, Beckenham.
A month after releasing ground breaking single Space Oddity, Bowie played a free festival with his fellow arts lab members on August 16, 1969. It was a performance he would go on to immortalise with his song Memory of a Free Festival. As if the ground’s Victorian bandstand hadn’t provided enough inspiration, Bowie is said to have penned the lyrics to Life on Mars on its steps. Fans and Bromley council are still raising money to restore the bandstand to its former glory.
9. Shannon Way, Beckenham.
More than just a road filled with 1980’s housing, Shannon Way was built over the demolished remains of Haddon Hall. Seen as a haven for all Bowie fans, Bowie moved into the gothic mansion house with first-wife Angie in October 1969, and the actress told the Bromley Times in 2012 she once had to boot a young Boy George out amongst other fans. It was here Bowie developed the ground-breaking Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album. It is rumoured the house with silver-painted ceilings had been a “venue for copious sordid and experimental nights involving bus loads of groupies and clubbers.” Bowie would leave the house in 1972, moving to Maida Vale in west London.