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Bromley's close-knit American 'cousins' are in state of flux

PUBLISHED: 15:18 23 November 2012

The welcome sign in Bromley, Kentucky.

The welcome sign in Bromley, Kentucky.

Archant

Sitting 4,000 miles apart, I am talking to Greg Rechtin about two places that are drastically different, but with one crucial link - a name.

A typically rural street in Bromley, KentuckyA typically rural street in Bromley, Kentucky

The IT consultant is a councillor for the city of Bromley, Kentucky, in the USA where life moves a little differently to its London counterpart.

On a trip last summer, Greg and his wife visited the borough while staying in London – taking in the sights of The Glades and stopping for a pint at The Compass in Widmore Road.

“It’s bigger that’s for sure,” says Greg. “Our Bromley is very small and only has about 800 people living there.

“But it seemed like a nice town. It’s a big mix of cultures there and you hear all sorts of accents and languages.

An aerial shot of Bromley High StreetAn aerial shot of Bromley High Street

“It was kind of bizarre because the language was English but there are subtle differences that can throw you – luckily there were ‘look this way’ signs on the road.”

Founded in 1848 by Charles Collins after he acquired an old estate, Bromley was named after its cousin across the waves where the developer had grown up.

With such a small community, it would seem inevitable that the northern Kentucky town be a close- knit area but in recent years that element has vanished, according to Greg.

He said: “We are in a little bit of a change process I guess because it used to be much more close-knit.

Population: USA 838 UK 299,100

Size: USA 0.8 km2 UK 150.2 km2

Average income: USA $31,500 UK £40,000

Average house price: $72,000 UK £348,000

Average price for pint: USA $3.50 UK £3.30

Closest major sport team: USA Cincinnati Bengals (American Football) UK Crystal Palace FC

“A lot of the older people know everybody and which kid belongs to which parent, but there hasn’t been a lot of economic growth in the area for a few years and that has seen a lot of people coming in to rent short- term.

“They don’t seem as interested in joining the community but that’s something I’m looking to change as part of the council.”

He will now act as one of six councillors voted for by the people of Bromley – though only seven ran for election.

Greg’s election coincided with that of President Obama a fortnight ago, a result he says was met with a mixed reaction in a traditionally Republican town.

“I think we kind of lean to the right,” he said. “But there’s a pretty even mix of Democrats and Republicans.

Though the comparisons between the two Bromleys are few and far between, one issue they share is the push and pull of their location.

For our Bromley it’s the jostle between Kent and London but for the border- straddling US town it’s a toss up for many as to whether they’re from Kentucky or Ohio.

Greg said: “We’re probably a little of both. Ohio doesn’t want us and Kentucky thinks we look down our noses at them and so pushes us to Ohio.

“It feels back and forth, but, though the border is so close and Cincinnati only 10 minutes away, I’d say most people stick with Kentucky.”

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