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definitions - Orpington

Orpington (n.)

1.English breed of large chickens with white skin

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Coordinates: 51°22′27″N 0°05′55″E / 51.3741°N 0.0986°E / 51.3741; 0.0986

Town sign
Orpington is located in Greater London

 Orpington shown within Greater London
Population 15,248 (Orpington ward 2007)[1]
OS grid reference TQ460660
    - Charing Cross 13.4 mi (21.6 km)  NW
London borough Bromley
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BR5, BR6
Dialling code 01689
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Orpington
London Assembly Bexley and Bromley
List of places: UK • England • London

Orpington is a suburban town and electoral ward in the London Borough of Bromley. It forms the southeastern edge of London's urban sprawl and is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.[2]



Stone Age tools have been found in several areas of Orpington, including Goddington Park, Priory Gardens, the Ramsden estate, and Poverest. Early Bronze Age pottery fragments have been found in the Park Avenue area. During the building of Ramsden Boys School in 1956, the remains of an Iron Age farmstead were excavated. The area was occupied in Roman times, as shown by Crofton Roman Villa, and the Roman bath-house at Fordcroft.[3] The first record of the name Orpington occurs in 1038, when King Cnut's treasurer Eadsy gave land at "Orpedingetune" to the Monastery of Christ Church at Canterbury. The parish church also pre-dates the Domesday Book.

Until the railway came, the local commercial centre was nearby St Mary Cray, rather than Orpington. St Mary Cray had a regular market, and industry (paper mills and bell foundry), whereas Orpington was just a small country village surrounded by soft fruit farms, hopfields and orchards.

These crops attracted Romani people, working as itinerant pickers, to annual camps in local meadows and worked-out chalk pits. This work has largely ended, but the Borough still provides a permanent site at Star Lane, and the gatherings are commemorated in local street names, such as Romany Rise. In 1967, Eric Lubbock, then Liberal MP for Orpington promoted a private member's bill to provide permanent Gypsy sites; this resulted in the Caravan Sites Act 1968 that placed an obligation upon local authorities to provide sites for locally residing travellers.[4] In 1971, an international meeting of Romany people was held at Orpington, this Orpington Congress marked the founding of the International Romani Union, a group seeking political representation for Romanis throughout Europe.[5]

  By-election of 1962

  The ward of Orpington (red) shown within the borough of Bromley (orange)

The Conservative member for the Orpington constituency, Donald Sumner, had resigned to become a county court judge, and a by-election was held on 15 March 1962, the symbolism of the date being noted as the Ides of March. Eric Lubbock, the Liberal candidate beat the Conservative into second place. It is from this win that the revival of the Liberal Party is usually dated.

  Retail and commerce

  Orpington High Street, looking south

The High Street and adjacent Walnuts Shopping Centre contain a wide selection of high-street shops. There is a general market located in front of Orpington College, three days a week. Planning permission was granted in 2005 to demolish a multistorey car park at the south end of the High Street, and replace it with a large Tesco supermarket. Work started at the beginning of February 2007 and since then the car park has been fully demolished and work on the foundations has started reusing the concrete from the demolished car park. The new Tesco opened on 18 May 2009. Tesco previously had a shop in Orpington high street decades before which is now Bon Marché and Thornburrows

Metered parking has been installed at various street locations around Orpington station to cope with the loss of the car park; this has resulted in the exit of long-established local businesses as the office space they occupied will no longer be feasible without adequate parking. There are larger retail outlets in the industrial estate on Cray Avenue and Sevenoaks Way in St Mary Cray including the new Nugent Shopping Park. Following the relocation of Marks & Spencer from their previous town-centre store to the Nugent Shopping Park, their previous site was taken over by Sainsbury's, who moved from their previous site nearby in the Walnuts.

  Sport and leisure

The Walnuts Leisure Centre,[6] just east of the High Street, has a six-lane, 33.3 metre indoor swimming pool. Other facilities include squash courts and gym with sauna and steam room as well as a sports hall used for activities such as badminton, basketball, trampolining and fitness classes. The Sports hall is also used for Women's Artistic Gymnastics, being the training venue for Orpington Gymnastic Club.[7]

  The pond at Priory Gardens is the source of the River Cray

There are two other local leisure centres: one at the Priory School,[8] which has a floodlit, synthetic pitch for hockey and football, three outdoor tennis courts, two netball courts, four outdoor cricket nets and a sports hall with gymnasium/fitness suite and dance studio. The other is LA Fitness members-only health club on Sandy Lane.Also there is a bodybuilding gym located near the war memorial called Ripped Muscle And Fitness

[9] There is also Keddles Gym[10] and Jack Watson's martial arts club.[11]

There are rugby, football and cricket pitches in Goddington Park. Westcombe Park RFC,[12] Orpington Cricket Club[13] and Orpington Football Club[14] are based here. Westcombe Park RFC is one of Kent's premier clubs, competing in National Division Two (only two leagues away from premiership rugby). 'Combe' moved from the Blackheath area to Orpington in 1936. Cray Wanderers F.C., established in 1860 no longer plays in Orpington, but now shares a ground with Bromley F.C..

Since 1985, members of Orpington Road Runners[15] have met every Tuesday near The Buff Pub and on Sundays at High Elms Country Park. For over 10 years, the Club has organised a 10k race and series of 2k fun runs[16] during the summer in conjunction with Darrick Wood School. Bromley Indoor Bowls Club is situated off Gillmans Road. Lawn bowls is played at the Excelsior Club[17] in Poverest Recreation Ground. Knoll Lawn Tennis Club[18] has (despite its name) five tarmac courts tucked away among the houses of Mayfield Avenue. Bromley Tennis Centre (six indoor courts and four floodlit outdoor courts) is in the grounds of Newstead Wood School for Girls.

Orpington's former public library is at Priory Gardens, a site set back from the High Street and near to the historic parish church. Priory Gardens' Priory itself contains Bromley Museum.[19] The public library moved in the Summer of 2011, into the site of the old Council offices off the Market Square. It was opened on the 5th July, 2011 by Adele Parks and Jo Johnson MP.[20]


Education in Orpington is managed by the London Borough of Bromley which is the Local Education Authority. The town contains a full range of primary and secondary schools including St. Olave's Grammar School and Newstead Wood School for Girls

Orpington College is a further education college. It is affiliated with the University of Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church University. Orpington College is the tallest building in Orpington, and was built in 1972.



The town is served by various services including London Buses route 51, 208, 61, R9 and 358


The M25 ring-road around London passes Orpington to the South of the town and three A roads, the A208, A224 and A232 pass through the area.


  Places of interest

  The Parish Church

  All Saints Church

The Parish Church, "All Saints", stands upon pre-Norman foundations. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is Early English in style, but some Saxon work is visible. It was endowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1173. The tower and steeple were damaged by a storm in 1771. The rebuilt steeple was struck by lightning in 1809, and it was not replaced. The church was greatly enlarged in 1957. The present Vicar is the Reverend Alan Mustoe.

  The Priory

  Orpington Priory

The Priory is a fine example of a medieval 'hall house'. In 1032, Eadsy, chaplain to King Cnut, gave his estate at Orpedingetune to Christ Church Priory, Canterbury. The first Rector of Orpington, Hugh de Mortimer, held court here in 1270. The house was rebuilt, this time of stone, in 1290, and added to in 1393 and 1471. In the 17th century the house ceased to be a rectory and passed into private ownership - a timber-framed extension was added, which no longer exists. The house was acquired by Orpington Urban District Council in 1947, and now it houses a museum and a public library. The garden forms an attractive public park, and contains a natural pond which is the source of the River Cray. Each year the Orpington May Queen is crowned in the gardens.

  Orpington Hospital

During the First World War a large military hospital, the "16th Canadian General", was built south-east of the station, funded by the government of Ontario, Canada. It originally accommodated 1,050 patients; an extra wing was added in 1917. By January 1919, more than 15,000 wounded soldiers had been treated here. Many of the 182 who died are buried in "Canadian Corner" of All Saints' churchyard. Most of the original pre-fabricated buildings remained in use for more than 80 years before a major renovation around the turn of the century. Today Orpington Hospital provides rehabilitation and therapy services, outpatient and diagnostic services (including dermatology and diabetes), but it no longer has an Accident and Emergency Unit. The nearest A&E is Queen Mary's, Sidcup, or Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough.


  Orpington chicken

Orpington is known for the "Buff", "Black" and "Speckled" chickens bred locally by William Cook in the 1890s. The Buff Orpington were able to be seen at Tripes Farm, Chelsfield Lane however, in the late 90s, the chicken coop was removed from the farm.

  Orpington car

The Orpington Car, built by Frank Smith & Jack Milroy at their works in Wellington Road, was shown at the 1920 Motor Show. It was a two-seater convertible, with a dickey seat, and a 10 horsepower (7 kW) engine. Although briefly successful, Smith and Milroy could not compete with mass production, and the last car was built in 1925. The only known survivor once appeared in the 1970s television series Crossroads.

  Orpington man

Journalists in the 1960s used "Orpington man" to designate a typical member of the lower middle class, for example as the target audience of an electoral or advertising appeal.[21]

  Notable births and residents

 Raymond Foster aka Jack Giles, Author

  TV appearances

  • Orpington High Street and the Walnuts Shopping Centre appear in a number of scenes in the Channel 4 documentary Virgin School, first aired in May 2007.[23]
  • It also featured in an episode of "The Bill".
  • Orpington High Street and surrounding areas were shown in a television advert for Honda
  • The Simpsons live action intro sequence was filmed off Mada Road, Orpington.
  • The Save the Children shop in Orpington High Street was the subject of "Mary Queen of Charity Shops", where Mary Portas[24] set out to improve the takings and image of the charity shop. Aired June 2009 on BBC2.[25]

"Who Believes In Orpington". Series about the role of the church in contemporary suburban life. Aired 29/2/88-14/3/88 by Thames Television, ITV (www.ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/series/17589)

  Nearest places


  1. ^ "Mid-2007 Population Estimates for 2007 Wards in England". Office for National Statistics. 2009. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=13893. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority. http://www.london.gov.uk/thelondonplan/docs/londonplan08.pdf. 
  3. ^ http://www.bromley.gov.uk/leisure/museums/Poverest+Road+Bath+House+and+Anglo-Saxon+Cemetery.htm bromley.gov.uk
  4. ^ Stopping Places: A Gypsy History Of South London and Kent Simon Evans (Univ of Hertfordshire Press 2004) ISBN 1-902806-30-1
  5. ^ The Roma (Czech Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, October 2002) accessed 3 December 2007
  6. ^ http://www.bromleymytime.org.uk/walnuts-leisure-centre.html bromleymytime.org.uk
  7. ^ http://www.orpington-gymnastic-club.org.uk orpington-gymnastic-club.org.uk
  8. ^ http://www.bromleymytime.org.uk/priory-sports-centre.html bromleymytime.org.uk
  9. ^ http://www.lafitness.co.uk/membership/find_your_club_info.aspx?club_name=Orpington lafitness.co.uk
  10. ^ http://www.keddlesgym.co.uk/main/index.php?tabSection=keddles+gym&section=the+gym&sub=home+page keddlesgym.co.uk
  11. ^ http://www.self-defence.org/ self-defence.org
  12. ^ http://www.westcombeparkrugby.co.uk westcombeparkrugby.co.uk
  13. ^ http://www.orpingtoncc.co.uk
  14. ^ http://www.orpingtonfc.com
  15. ^ http://www.orprunners.com/
  16. ^ http://www.orprunners.com/orpington10k orprunners.com
  17. ^ http://www.oebc.org.uk/
  18. ^ http://knoll.totaltennis.net/home/aboutUs.asp knoll.totaltennis.net
  19. ^ http://www.bromley.gov.uk/leisure/museums/BromMuseum/ bromley.gov.uk
  20. ^ http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/9121258.Bestselling_author_Adele_Parks_officially_opens_Orpington_Library/
  21. ^ David Childs, Britain since 1945 (3rd ed. 1992) pp 140, 146
  22. ^ 'Mourning Vietnam', The Observer, 23 September 2001
  23. ^ http://www.channel4.com/programmes/virgin-school 4oD
  24. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Portas
  25. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00l1tft


  • Dorothy Cox (1983). The Book of Orpington. Barracuda Books. ISBN 0-86023-164-X. 
  • John Edwards (1991). A Look Back at Orpington. Bromley Leisure Services. ISBN 0-901002-13-5. 

  External links

Media related to Orpington, London at Wikimedia Commons



All translations of Orpington

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