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The big debate: Is Bromley in London or Kent?

PUBLISHED: 14:22 05 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 July 2013

David Fleckney believes Bromley is firmly in Greater London.

David Fleckney believes Bromley is firmly in Greater London.

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Since the capital expanded nearly 50 years ago, engulfing parts of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Middlesex, the questions has been burning: is it Bromley, London or Bromley, Kent?

The Local Government Act in 1963 meant Bromley was absorbed into Greater London, and is today served by the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service as well as Transport for London.

However, many reminders remain of Bromley’s Kentish past – from the rural backdrop of the borough’s southern parts to the lack of a London postcode in all areas, except Crystal Palace and Penge.

It has been suggested that there could be an age divide between those on the Bromley fence, with a younger generation growing up knowing nothing other than Bromley, London.

To settle the debate once and for all, we put the question to you online and selected two local residents to voice their opinions.

David Fleckney, 33, from Penge, runs curry review website thechilli diaries.com:

“Technically Bromley definitely is London. When the boroughs were formed 50 years ago it became part of London and has been ever since. Historically, you could say it’s Kent but the borders changed.

A city like London expands and takes in other, smaller areas. I certainly wouldn’t say Lewisham is in Kent, or Wandsworth is in Surrey, but once upon a time they were.

Bromley is governed by the Greater London Authority, served by the Metropolitan Police and has its buses provided by Transport for London. The evidence is everywhere, even the council calls itself the London Borough of Bromley.

There probably is a bit of an age divide between those who call it London and those who consider it Kent. It might be harder to adjust for those who were adults when it changed, but it’s been 50 years – that should be long enough to accept it’s part of the capital.

The north of the borough is very urban and more like real London. People think it’s very rural and green, which Bromley is but you wouldn’t walk around the north of Bromley and think you were in leafy Kent. It’s built up, there’s red buses driving past, it’s London.

For me, it doesn’t feel like I’m in Kent when you walk through Crystal Palace or Penge. It’s busy, culturally diverse and very urban.”

Chris Bowdery, 53, from Orpington is a lorry driver:

“For me, Bromley is and will always be Kent. It’s where I was born and I’m annoyed at how big they say London is at the minute. There are parts of London that are miles away from the city centre, you only have to look at the airports that call themselves London Gatwick, for example, that’s in West Sussex. It’s about 30 miles away from London.

I’m proud to be from Kent, and I’m one for sticking to tradition and old values. I was born in 1960, when Orpington was still considered by everyone to be Kent. All of a sudden they changed it and people started telling us we’re from London. Things are getting too big. I remember reading a silly letter a few years ago in the paper that said it’s only a matter of time before Scotland becomes part of London, but it does seem to be sucking everywhere in.

Locksbottom still has a village feel to it and that comes under London. You only have to walk around the place to know that’s not right, it’s so rural and quiet.

These days no one really speaks to their neighbours, but when I was growing up in Orpington everyone knew each other. I think that’s down to being part of London, because it’s not the same everywhere – my mum lives in Devon and it’s not like that there.

I just wonder how long it is before places like Gravesend and Northfleet are considered London.”

Join the debate on streetlife.com or tweet @BromleyTimes.

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