Beckenham is a town in the London Borough of Bromley, England. It is located 8.4 miles (13.5 km) south east of Charing Cross and 1.75 miles (2.8 km) west of Bromley town. Until the coming of the railway in 1857, Beckenham was a small village in the county of Kent with almost completely rural surroundings: once a family of entrepreneurs began the building of villas here, its population soared from 2000 to 26,000 during 1850-1900 and throughout the rest of the century. The current population is nearly 82,000 Today it is very much in London suburbia, although some of the grand houses of the early days remain.
Culture and leisure:
There is a museum and archives at Bethlem Royal Hospital. The local Odeon cinema has six screens and is a grade II listed building. In common with most towns of its size, Beckenham has a number of leisure organisations and societies;whilst the Beckenham Festival of Music and Dancing takes place every November. Beckenham Theatre exists to put on amateur productions. The Beckenham Concert Band is a successful community wind band which has, over the last 35 years, raised thousands of pounds for local and national charities. It caters for amateur wind and brass musicians and performs locally during the winter months and across London and the South East during the summer.
The South East London Green Chain, a long-distance footpath is well represented in Beckenham. Both Kelsey Park and Beckenham Place Park form part of the Chain. There are other open spaces in the town, including Croydon Road Recreation Ground and Cator Park. South Norwood Country Park abuts the town to the south-west. There is also a walk starting in Cator Park, going down the High Street, through Kelsey Park, then Croydon Road Recreation Ground and back to Cator Park.
Despite its leafy image, due to its close proximity to Central London and the fact that it is served by eight railway stations (Beckenham Junction, Clock House, New Beckenham, Ravensbourne, Kent House, Elmers End, Eden Park and Beckenham Hill), Beckenham makes an ideal business location. The area boasts a busy high street containing many restaurants, upmarket chains as well as family run independents, and has a good selection of well performing schools. Beckenham is the headquarters to Capita Registrars Limited who provide share registration services for more than half of the UK’s quoted companies, Proper Records the UK's biggest independent music distributor and Vizual, a leading HR software developer.
One of the interesting landmarks in Beckenham is the Chinese Garage, now a listed building. It is built in an unusual Japanese pagoda style and deals Peugeot and Kia cars. There is also St George's Church, dating back to 1100 but mostly rebuilt at the end of the 19th century. The lych gate is 13th century, one of the oldest in England, and the almshouses date back to 1694. There are two old pubs, Ye Olde George Inn (1662), and the Three Tuns (now a branch of Zizzi restaurants). Kelsey Park is another landmark. It was part of the Kelsey Estate, but the mansion no longer remains. The only surviving buildings are the two Grade II listed lodge cottages at the entrance, which are over 200 years old.
The town has a number of places of worship. St. George's Church is the principal parish church, and is in the centre of Beckenham. It was extensively rebuilt, at the end of the 19th. century, but an earlier building dates back to 1100. It has a 13th. century lych gate that is thought to be one of the oldest in England. The almshouses next to the church go back to 1694. There are also three other Anglican churches in the town: All Saints Church; Holy Trinity Church; and St James at Elmers End. In addition, there are Methodist and Baptist churches; and the Roman Catholic church dedicated to St Edmund of Canterbury.