Petts Wood is a town in south-east London, England, located in the historic county of Kent. It lies south of Chislehurst, west of St Paul's Cray and Poverest, north of Orpington and Crofton, and east of Southborough and Bromley Common. The area forms part of the London Borough of Bromley local authority district in the ceremonial county of Greater London.
|Population||13,651 (2011 Census. Petts Wood and Knoll Ward)|
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
The name appeared first in 1577 as "the wood of the Pett family", who were shipbuilders and leased the wood as a source of timber (a pub, The Sovereign of the Seas, is named after a ship built at Woolwich to a design by Phineas Pett).
The area remained rural right up until the late 19th century; in 1872 just one house ('Ladywood') stood here. Most of the modern suburb of Petts Wood was built in the late 1920s by the Harlow-based developer Basil Scruby together with architect Leonard Culliford who designed the layout of the roads. A number of individual builders developed individual plots, amongst others the master builder, Noel Rees, as well as Walter Reed and George Hoad. Sruby also paid the Southern Railway Company £6,000 to build Petts Wood railway station to serve the new suburb. Shops and a cinema were also built adjacent to the railway. The intention was to create a high quality estate in a rural setting only a short train journey from the city, with the east side being built first. Noel Rees's name is still used as a selling point by estate agents; his houses can be found in Great Thrift, The Covert, Prince's Avenue, Wood Ride, Kingsway, Chislehurst Road, The Chenies and many other roads in Petts Wood.
The generally higher quality of large homes built to the east of the railway line, as compared to smaller and more densely packed development to the west, was due to the fact that Scruby's increasing financial difficulties meant he had little control over its developers, Morrell's and New Ideal Homesteads. This gave rise to the local references of "Half Crown" or "Five Bob" sides.
The area between Petts Wood and Bickley sustained heavy bombing during Second World War because of its proximity to an important railway junction. Only three bombs landed on the town centre itself, and those by accident as a German aircraft returning from bombing the docklands unloaded them on the end of Fairway, beside the former Embassy Cinema building (closed in 1973 and since re-developed as a supermarket), and on the site now occupied by the Library. The sites lay derelict until the early 1960s, hence why these buildings are much more recent. Prior to that, the library was located in a shop on Queensway, near the junction with Lakeswood Road.
The Jubilee Country Park is to the northwest of the main shopping area. Before this park was created in 1977 the area was known as 'The Gun Sites', as it had been the location for anti-aircraft guns in Second World War, and was the home of the 1st Petts Wood scout group.
According to Keith Waterhouse in his book "Streets Ahead" Petts Wood was popular with Fleet Street newspaper staff in the 1950s: "… this Kent suburb, recommended in Fleet Street for the all-night train service it afforded sub-editors and reporters coming off late duty, thus giving them a round-the-clock, heaven-sent excuse for one more for the road."
In 2009, the local Woolworths store had the privilege of writing the last word in the history of that chain in the UK, when its manager, realising his was the last one to close, gathered the remains of the Pick 'n' Mix sweet section and auctioned the bagful of sweets, which would normally have retailed for a couple of pounds, for £14,500.
The eponymous wood itself survives and is managed by the National Trust. Originally just 88 acres (36 hectares) were bought by public subscription and donated to the Trust in 1927, after it became clear that the area would be developed for housing. This asset expanded when the neighbouring Hawkwood Estate and Edlmann Wood, comprising a further 250 acres (100 hectares), were donated to the Trust by landowners Robert and Francesca Hall in 1957. The woodland features oak, birch, rowan, alder, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut.
Petts Wood station provides the area with National Rail services to London Victoria via Bromley South and Herne Hill, Kentish Town via Bromley South and Catford, London Charing Cross via Grove Park, London Cannon Street via Grove Park and Lewisham, Orpington and Sevenoaks.
- Cerrie Burnell (b. 1979) - actress, singer, playwright, and television presenter, grew up in Petts Wood.
- Jack Dee (b. 1961) - comedian and winner of Celebrity Big Brother 1, grew up in Petts Wood.
- Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) - French general, statesman and future President of France who led the Free French Forces during Second World War. He rented a home at 41 Birchwood Road for four months before moving his family further inland to Shropshire later in 1940.
- Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992) - Welsh baritone or bass-baritone noted for his operatic roles. Lived at 34 Birchwood Road where he is commemorated with a blue plaque.
- Pat Keysell (1926-2009) - TV presenter and sign language interpreter, grew up in Petts Wood.
- Pixie Lott (b. 1991) - singer and songwriter.
- John Loveday - physicist.
- Ian Mortimer (b. 1967) - medieval historian, grew up in Petts Wood.
- David Nobbs (1935-2015) - comedy writer and the creator of the sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, grew up in Petts Wood.
- Major Phil Packer (b. 1972) - British soldier who was rendered paraplegic in 2008 by injuries sustained while serving in Iraq, grew up in Petts Wood. He has since raised over a million pounds through charitable fundraising efforts which have garnered him several national awards.
- Arthur Seldon (1916-2005) - economist.
- Ivor Spencer (1924-2009) - toastmaster and promoter of the butler arts.
- William Willett (1856-1915) - promoter of Daylight Saving Time, an idea he is thought to have come up with whilst riding in Petts Wood. He is commemorated by a memorial sundial in the wood, and the pub The Daylight Inn is named in his honour.
Sports and recreation facilities
- Petts Wood Recreation Ground
- Willett Recreation Ground
- Petts Wood Runners, running club that meets in Willett Recreation Ground every Tuesday at 8.00pm. Kent Fitness League champions 2018–19.
- Petts Wood Bowling Club.
- Petts Wood Snooker Club (above Morrisons)
- Orpington Ojays Swimming Club
- Oakley Fitness (Above Oakley Coffee)
- Shops on Queensway, west of the railway
- Footbridge over the railway line
- Shops on Fairway/Station Square, east of the railway
- The Jubilee Country Park
- St James the Great Catholic Church
- St Francis of Assisi Church
- "Bromley Ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
- Lavery, Ships of the Line vol. 1, p. 163.
- Willey, Russ (2006). The London Gazzetteer. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. p. 383.
- Historic England. "The Daylight Inn, Petts Wood (1427230)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
- Waterhouse, Keith (1995). Streets ahead : life after City lights. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 69. ISBN 0-340-63267-4. OCLC 35911768.
- "Rich pickings: last bag of Woolworths pic 'n' mix fetches £14,500 on eBay". The Guardian. Press Association. 21 February 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
- "Children's TV presenter Cerrie Burnell: Some attitudes to disability are based on fear". The Metro. 11 June 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- "Petts Wood & District Residents' Association – About Petts Wood". www.pettswood.org.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- "De Gaulle Dead (main story) The year of exile in Salop [i.e.Shropshire] (sub-story)". Shropshire Star. 10 November 1970. p. 1.
- "Sir Geraint Evans, Blue Plaque". Visit Bromley. Visit Bromley. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- Anthony Hayward (29 December 2009). "Obituary". The Independent.
- "Pixie Lott Singer HD Wallpapers". papershd.com. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "About Ian Mortimer". Ian Mortimer. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- Nevin, Charles (19 November 2005). "When you're smiling". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- "Major's million pound promise". News Shopper. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- Giving, Just. "Page 'philsmillion' has been cancelled". www.justgiving.com. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- "Welcome to the official Phil Packer website". www.philpacker.com. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
- https://twitter.com/PhilPacker [bare URL]
- "Arthur Seldon - eulogy". Arthur Seldon. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
- https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/4339879/Ivor-Spencer.html [bare URL]