London Road, Swanley
Swanley is a town in Kent, by the south-eastern outskirts of the swelling conurbation and standing to the north of Sevenoaks. The town boundaries encompass the settlements of Swanley itself, Hextable and Swanley Village. Swanley is essentially a commuter and distribution centre, home to a mainly lower-middle and working class population, trading on its rail links to London and its proximity to the M25 motorway.
The Swanley of today is not the original Swanley but is a town which grew up from the nineteenth century around Swanley Junction railway station, which lay a mile and a half southwest of Swanley as was. The new town was originally known as "Swanley Junction" after the station, but as it grew bigger than Swanley itself, the name was transferred to the new interloper, and in the 1920s the original Swanley became known as Swanley Village, the name it bears today.
In 1066, Swanley only consisted of a few cattle farms, surrounded in oak, sycamore and ash woodland. It was not a manor in itself and so is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
There is a theory that the placename Swanley developed from the Old English term 'Swin leag', meaning "swine clearing", but there is no clear evidence that any particular derivation.
A hamlet of just three houses stood once at a crossroads here, but it grew to a town with a population of 16,588 in 2001 in one and a half centuries. It was the advent of the railway in 1861 which founded a new town here. Swanley Junction Station was built here at the junction of two railway lines and a town grew up around the station, which was originally named Swanley Junction after the station. It later became just Swanley and the original Swanley became Swanley Village in the 1920s.
The railway enabled the location of a horticulture college here, which opened in 1887. The college originally only catered for male students for the first few years until in the early 1890s the first female students were admitted. Local nurseries and florists' outlets blossomed, while casual farm labouring job opportunities on farms became in short supply. Some properties in Swanley still have apple and pear trees in their gardens from the original orchards. The college later relocated to Wye College near Canterbury.
Contrary to popular myth, Swanley was never a major flower growing or orchard area (at least not more so than any other part of North Kent) however its location became attractive for London doctors seeking a cure for sick Londoners, escaping the smog of London.
Three hospitals were established, the Kettlewell (or Alexandra) Hospital in 1885, Parkwood Hospital in 1893 and White Oak Hospital in 1897. The Kettlewell stood on the site of Asda's car park and was for poor patients from London who needed to recuperate after major surgery. The Parkwood hospital was similarly used and White Oak was originally for children with eye diseases. During both the First and Second World Wars, Kettlewell and Parkwood were used as military hospitals, Parkwood become part of the Sidcup Hospital for facial injuries. After 1948, and the creation of the National Health Service, these old hospitals became redundant and closed in the 19650s and 1960s. Currently, the gates of White Oak can still be seen opposite Swanley Police Station in London Road.
About the town
Swanley Park (which covers 60 acres of countryside) was previously known as New Barn Park as it was previously New Barn Farm until various fields and orchards were bought by the Town Council to protect the green belt between Hextable and Swanley.
There remains acknowledgement of the former use (as a farm) with an avenue of fruit trees remaining and new avenues of trees linking the car parks to the central area of play areas, cafe and paddling pool and water play and boating lake. The Town Council has maintained old hedgerows and trees around the outside of the park and has created allotments and an environment area that is now managed by local volunteers. The park is home to Swanley Athletics club and hosts a number of county cross country races and other events each year. Around one of the large fields is Swanley New Barn Model railway (running on half a mile of track) operated by a group of volunteers throughout the summer. A classical music and firework event - called the '1812 Night' - is held on the Friday before the August bank holiday.
At the Western boundary of Swanley was the 'Bull Hotel' which had a long history at the site serving the passing trade, during the 1980s to 2000 this changed to Hickorys Nightclub (1st Leisure Group) and then was renamed 'Deja Vu Nightclub' after a refurbishment in the middle 1990s, and in 2011 was rebuilt to create a hotel and restaurant operated by Premier Inns. Due to the recession of 2009-2010, the 'Birchwood Pub' closed leaving only 'The Lullingstone' in Swanley Centre, 'The Lamb' and 'Red Lion' in Swanley Village and 'The Olympic' in Beechenlea Lane, the latter operated by the Council and providing a bowls green, a snooker hall and a golf driving range.
- Cricket on the village green
- Swanley Furness FC
- Crockenhill FC
is also a very popular sport, with many playing it on the village green in summer.
The motor racing circuit Brands Hatch is 5 miles away from Swanley.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- Swanley Town Council
- Notes on Swanley Village
- Swanley History
- Swanley Park
- Grind BMX, Swanley
- Hexley Rangers F.C.
- Sidcup and District Motor Cycle Club Ltd.
- Swanley Light Opera Group
- Swanley Sub Aqua Club