Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Famous People of Beckenham

David and I popped into the little Antique Fair today, which is held at the Public Hall in Beckenham. We were a little late, and the stall holders were packing up their pots and plates as we walked in. Undeterred, we had a quick look around at what was still on display, and got into conversation with a very nice lady who was selling antique jewelery. We explained that we were new to the area, but the lady told us that she had been coming to the Antique Fair in Beckenham for 40 years. She went on to tell us some of the history of the Public Hall, and, if it hadn't been near to closing time, I dare say we could have gone on talking for much longer. "There are lots of famous people who have come from Beckenham, you know," she went on to say.

So, when I got home I did a bit of investigation, and sure enough there are lots of famous people from Beckenham. I found this information on the Welcome to Beckenham website. Do you remember Noddy and Big Ears? I do!

Enid Blyton
The author of more than 700 books for children from born in 1897 and grew up in and around Beckenham in fact moving many times, living in a number of houses in Clock House Road. When she was 14, Enid Blyton after winning a poetry competition began to submit articles, stories and poems to various magazines. Her first book, a poetry book for children was called Child Whispers, was published in 1922. Her major series of books included Noddy, Brer Rabbit, The Famous Five, The Secret Series, Malory Towers, St Clare's, The Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair. Enid Blyton dead in 1968 the most prolific childrens author of all time. Her books have been translated in to over 40 languages and have sold over 400 million copies throughout the world.


David Bowie
The singer/songwriter, real name David Jones, grew up in Beckenham and played some of his first gigs at The Rat and Parrot (formerly The Three Tuns) pub. Part of the Beckenham Arts Lab he had repeat performances and put on a free festival at the Croydon Road Recreation Ground. David Bowie move on from Beckenham and his career moved quickly through the 1970's with his Ziggy Stardust creations, his worldwide hit of "Space Oddity" sent him to superstardum. His many reinventions helped him to become the international superstar that he is today. Now living in America.

WG Grace
William Gilbert Grace, known to his family as Gilbert, was born in 1848. An outstanding cricketer of his day, and many years following. Even as the years went on, his energy for the game was unabashed.

He was also a founder of the Bowls Association. In 1913 at Crystal Palace is captained England against Scotland in the first international bowls matches. W.G. Grace died in 1915 and is buried in Elmers End Cemetery.

Thomas Crapper
Thomas Crapper was born in Yorkshire in 1836. At 14 he was apprenticed to a Master Plumber in Chelsea, London. In 1861, after his apprenticeship and then working as a journeyman, he set up in his own right as a plumber in Robert Street, Chelsea.

It is popularly thought that Mr. Crapper invented the W.C., and that the vulgar word for faeces is a derivative of his name, but neither belief is true. He relentlessly promoted sanitary fittings to a somewhat dirty and sceptical world and championed the 'water-waste-preventing cistern syphon' in particular. Thomas Crapper died in 1910 and is buried near the grave of the cricketer, W.G. Grace, in Elmers End Cemetery.


Frederick York Wolseley
Famous for the first completely mechanical sheep sheering machine back in 1888. Born in County Dublin in 1837, he moved to Australia in the 1850's and began work on his inventions in the 1870's. The company he founded moved to England in 1893 and began experimenting with motor cars, producing the first one in 1895. Wolseley motor cars were made in Great Britain from then until 1975, being among the very first British cars put into large-scale production and actually leading the car production figures during the Edwardian period. Fredrick died in London in 1899.

Carey Blyton
Composer of 'Bananas in Pyjamas'
Millions more people have heard something of Carey Blyton's music than realise it. He wrote widely for television, film and advertising, and his nonsense song "Bananas in Pyjamas" was taken up by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1973 and eventually became a huge international success in The Great Banana Phenomenon, a series of some 200 five-minute TV shows each topped and tailed by Blyton's song.


Carey lived in and around Bromley for 60 years. He was born in Beckenham in 1932 and lived there some 30 years before moving to Swanley in 1965 where he lived for another 30 years with his wife Mary and their two sons Matthew and Daniel. Although it was in Swanley where most of his music and stories were written, it was the formative years in Beckenham that developed Carey's character and musical career.

However, Carey is well known all over West Kent, where his music and stories have been broadcast by local radio.



There are more but space has run out. Some other names for inclusion would have been Col/Sgt Bourne of Rorkes pass, Walter de la Mare, Admiral Sir Peircy Brett, Dinah Craik, Bob Monkhouse, Julie Andrews, Peter Frampton, Buster Mottram, Duncan Goodhew, Bill Perks aka Wyman, Robin Knox-Johnston and more recently the 2002 Big Brother winner Kate Lawler. 

You never know who your neighbours are, do you? I wonder who will be the next famous person from Beckenham.

And for more info about famous people of Beckenham, and interesting snippets of Beckenham history, take a look at the Beckenham History Website.

Oh, and yesterday I forgot to mention the brilliant Fish and Chip Shop on the High Street - The Big Catch. It is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. and has a very nice restaurant, or you can take out. Personally, I think they are the best fish and chips in Beckenham. It is straight across from Liddle's supermarket.

Well, I've got lots to do now, my new vacuum cleaner came yesterday, a Morphy Richards' upright. It hoovers up like a hippopotamus siphoning a muddy river bed. Fantastic! And now the hoovering is done, I feel a mopping of the floors coming on. 

Talk again soon,
Love Jane x

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