About Petts Wood

Petts Wood takes its name from the woods surrounding the area that were once owned by Phineas Pett, an Elizabethan ship builder. Reputedly the wood from Petts Woods was sent to Chatham and Deptford dockyards for ship building.

Most of the house building in Petts Wood occurred during the 1930’s, mainly to provide good housing for the London overspill at affordable prices in the “country”. Part of the attraction to prospective buyers was a main line station with over 200 trains per day to various London stations and a service taking approximately 25 minutes.

Petts Wood, Kent is now part of the London Borough of Bromley, it is situated between Orpington and Chislehurst. It still has a station with a frequent service to all London mainline stations serving the South East. It is well served for road transport with the M25 London orbital, the M20 for the Shuttle and the M2 for the Channel ports within 15 minutes drive.

The railway service today has some 100 trains servicing all London south east main line stations (Charing Cross, Waterloo, Cannon Street, London Bridge, Victoria, and Blackfriars), taking 30 minutes on average.

There are a number of bus routes serving the area, run by various operators, with regular services to Bromley, Orpington and Chislehurst.

Petts Wood is split in 2 by the railway line into Petts Wood East and West, both have a shopping centre with the larger shops on the west side. Most of the shops are small local businesses serving the community.

There are 2 local primary schools within easy walking distance. They are Crofton (Infants and Juniors) and St James’s Catholic school.

A History of Petts Wood

Petts Wood has been acclaimed as one of the best examples of the inter-war London suburb, created by Basil Scruby, the developer, as a high quality estate in a rural setting only a short train journey from the city.

At the heart of the book is the story of how a quiet landscape of woodland, lakes and strawberry fields was transformed from the late 1920s into an attractive residential area, planned with the railway station and shops at its centre, and the growth of a community with its churches, pub, cinema, sports clubs and societies.

Long before it was a suburb Petts Wood was a wood, probably named after the Pett family who for 200 years were the nation’s leading shipbuilders. The woods are now preserved by the National Trust. Other famous names celebrated in the book are William Willett, campaigner for daylight saving in the early years of the 20th century, and General Charles de Gaulle, who lived in Petts Wood during the Second World War as he led the Free French from his British exile.

Later chapters examine the impact on Petts Wood of post-war social trends, such as the coming of mass car ownership, the pressure for office space and a deterioration in law and order. The book also charts a shopping revolution, with a supermarket open seven days a week causing the closure of so many of the small shops which gave Petts Wood its “village” character. At the same time, local pressure to save surrounding green belt land and to have three important areas of the historic estate designated as Conservation Areas has done much to keep Basil Scruby’s vision intact.

This millennium edition of A History of Petts Wood is the fourth. The book first appeared in 1979, to mark the 50th anniversary of Petts Wood Residents’ Association, and proved so successful that further editions were published in 1983 and 1990. The first edition had a modest 64 pages and 14 illustrations. This latest edition, which has been substantially revised, updated and enlarged, has more than 140 illustrations, of which 30 are new. The book is again a local project, published and funded by the residents’ association.

The author, Peter Waymark, is a retired journalist who spent most of his working life on The Times.