These days it's virtually impossible to walk down any high street without seeing a host of chain shops that you see everywhere else in the UK, and sometimes around the globe - and Bromley high street is no exception. I can think of Laura Ashley, Millets, Fat Face, Greggs, GAP, Monsoon... the list goes on and on!
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they don't all have their place. But it is definitely true that when you walk into the Marks & Spencer or WH Smith in any town, you know exactly what you're going to get!
Even with this in mind, there really are some little gems from times gone by that stand out for their truly local, unique and independent place in the high street, marking history for the local area.
So here's a run down of our favourites:
RJ Hunters the Jewellers on Bromley High Street is the only shop in Bromley to retain its original shopfront dating back to the end of the 19th century. Built at the same time, The Star and Garter (Bromley's only pick pub!) has an amazing etched glass, wood panelling and tiled entrance, that simply oozes history and charm.
The Partridge Pub, now run by Fullers, has long been a feature of the high street - is was built back in 1927 as the National Provincial Bank.
The Star & Garter was constructed 1898 - designed by Berney and Sons for Nalder and Collyer, a local Croydon brewer, the building replaced an ancient Inn of the same name. It's now Bromley's only Lesbian & Gay venue.
For those of you who simply stop in at Ginny's Chinese on West Street for some crispy duck and a few won tons... the beautiful building its located in was a fire station from 1897 to 1910.
Our very own Royal Bell Hotel was even referred to in Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice! When Lady Catherine de Burgh says to Elizabeth Bennet “Where shall you change horses? - Oh! Bromley, of course. - If you mention my name at the Bell, you will be attended to." Jane Austen frequently travelled to Kent to visit her brother and would certainly have changed horses at the Bell.
But even more historical than that, the Royal Bell actually replaced a posting house called the Bell Inn which existed in 1646.
Top Shop occupies the site of the White Hart Inn (demolished 1964) which dated back to 1509. It was extended in 1803 as a posting house with stabling for 100 horses and assembly rooms.
And here's a very good indication of how much the centre has extended - did you know that the building now occupied by Barclays Bankmarks the southern extent of the town as it was in the mid 19th century! My how she's grown.
Do you have any historical nuggets to share?! Let us know!