Bromley Borough Local History Society

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  • Keep safe

    As a user of this site you obviously have a computer, so I hope you also have adequate anti-virus software and a working firewall? These things either come with your machine or free versions can easily be downloaded from the Web. There is no necessity to buy expensive products, the free ones will do the job. And if you keep them up-to-date, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

    However, they are there to stop the computer being duped, one thing they can’t do is to stop you being fooled by some smooth talking phone caller (although most are not very smooth) or an inviting email (again, most of them are so poorly written as to be obvious fakes). However, unless you are a technical, financial or any other type of wizard, it is sometimes possible to be fooled, at least for a while.

    In the 1950s televisions tended to be pretty unreliable and calling the repairman round could almost became a weekly task. Today, we really don’t expect anything to go wrong with our TVs and we don’t get emails of phone calls suggesting there are likely to be problems. Computers, however, remain rather less reliable and are sufficiently complex for us to be worried if an “expert” kindly calls to tell us we have a problem, either with the computer or some service we access by using it.

    I recently had occasion to contact Microsoft over a complex network problem which, after several calls and several hours of hands-on fiddling, they finally bodged a solution to. So I was not completely surprised when we later received a call from “Microsoft Technical Department”, which I thought might be some sort of follow-up. Of course it wasn’t! Microsoft don’t ring people up out of the blue – they have enough people ringing them to keep them busy. I don’t know what the man on the phone was going to suggest to fix the “hacking” that my PC was allegedly suffering, but I do know it would have cost me money!

    Scams like this are not either local or, sadly, history but ,with the almost endless emails telling me my bank account has been compromised or my credit card hacked, can and do spoil one’s enjoyment of the many useful and interesting things the Internet can offer. So, as we start another winter when you may be spending more time at your PC, remember the old saws: “you don’t get something for nothing” and “what seems too good to be true, usually is”! Keep safe.

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  • Tempus Fugit

    I have just noticed that it is a considerable time since I last added to this blog. It has not however been an uneventful period as readers of Bromleag will be aware. Apart from our various meetings, most historical excitement has been caused over first the abandonment of the bid for Lottery funds to develop the Museum in Orpington, and then the decision to move it to Bromley Central Library and sell off the Priory buildings in which it is currently housed.

    This has caused concern in a number of areas, some Orpington folk are particularly concerned about the future of the Grade 2 listed Priory, others more concerned about the possible break up of its contents and the seemingly un-curated and unchanging display which would be created in the Library. For the present it appears both suggestions are on hold for further thought and discussion.

    On the Home Front, literally, our special issue book published to commemorate the outbreak of WW I has now virtually sold out and a reprint is being considered. This is gratifying to all contributors and thank you to all purchasers (and of course our Members who have praised its content). Now we have purchased a set of ISDN numbers (you have to buy at least 10!) we are thinking about further publications. If anyone has any ideas or, better still, an unpublished work of an historical character, please let us know.

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  • Another Talks and Visits season over

    Our final activity of the 2013/14 season, a leisurely walk past some of the Arts and Crafts houses near Chislehurst station (and thank you Tony for your guidance), was attended by 20 Members. Following on closely to our visit to the Pre-fab museum the previous Friday, this was a good turnout. I have also been very pleased to see up to 60 Members and guests at recent evening meetings. However, this is also the moment in time the Committee is having to think about next year’s programme and any suggestions from our Members (or anyone else!) for items which might be of interest for talks and visits in 2015 are always welcome.

    We have also been very busy, well Christine Hellicar has, preparing, editing, proof-reading and getting the first draft of our new publication to commemorate the start of the First World War. Home Front: Life in the towns and villages of Bromley in the Great War will, we hope, be a significant publication both for our Members and a wider public. The idea is not to chronicle the War, there is plenty of that going on, but to look at how it impacted those left at home to carry on, with shortages of people, food and materials, in the various parts of what is now the London Borough of Bromley. With a combination of old and new articles and many illustrations, I think it will be an excellent publication, fully worth the £9 cover price, although Members will be able to purchase additional copies (they will get one FREE!) for rather less. And if you are not a Member, join up now and you will virtually get your money back with the book!

    Finally, before we all go on our Summer Holidays, may I remind you that it will be the annual Members’ Evening when our 2014/15 session starts on 3rd September, so please have a think about making a contribution: a single photograph or document can often have a tale to tell, and this will be the opportunity!

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  • Local resources for local news

    It was good see more than 40 members at our AGM on Tuesday especially as we were not at our usual venue. However, the main reason for being at Langley School for Boys was to hear their presentation of their investigations into World War 1 and in particular its impact on local residents. It is good to see the whole school involved in this work and congratulations have to go to the boys (and girl) who spoke so confidently to the audience of Members and parents. I wish I had had such sang-froid at their age!

    More importantly, it wasencouraging that there was a genuine interest in history and for us, local history. When researching the last 150 years or so, among other sources, local papers can be invaluable. Today, those that remain, carry very little news and little or nothing of local activities, clubs, council meetings, court proceedings and the like. And although some of these can be found by diligent searching of the Web, it is not the same as having a neat weekly snapshot of a local community. One wonders how easy research in 50 or 100 years will be. Possibly, with anything and everything digitally recorded, the problem may not be lack of information, but too much of it. But will it still give the same atmosphere that you feel in the old local paper with its mixture of editorial, news and record, not to mention all the fascinating advertisements!

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  • New Year. Old habits.

    Whilst chatting at a New Year's Eve party, I was told that the old footbridge by Bromley North station had been replaced (yes I know how to have fun!). I was interested because I used to spend many happy hours standing on the bridge watching the trucks being shunted by an old steam engine. In later years, on my way home from school, a friend and I would pause there to see if anything was happening, and kick an old tennis ball about. On one occasion it managed to squeeze through the mesh fencing (which allowed for a good view) and fell on the trackside. Imagine our surprise the next day when the signalman popped out of his box and handed it back!

    Of course the signal box is long gone (in 1976) and the shiny new bridge is impossible for any child to see over (and there are no shunting engines either), and in the interests of health and safety the structure is now well lit and has intermediate landings to prevent precipitate descent. I am sure it better and safer but, like the recently discovered Victorian drain covers behind the Swan pub at the top of Beckenham Lane which too have disappeared in the name of progress, it is another bit of old Bromley which has slipped away.

    If one becomes nostalgic for what used to be it may just mean you are getting old or have lived in one place too long. Or it may be that you regret another lost opportunity for the next generation to get a feel for life in the past. One hopes that restoring a comprehensive approach to history in schools will help tackle that problem a little but, at the local level, history has to be protected and recorded by locals. I hope you will do your bit during 2014.

    A Happy New Year to you anyway!

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