DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Sort file:- Bromley, March, 2021.

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Paul Skelton

Earliest 1785-

Crooked Billet

Latest ????

(Name to)

Southborough Lane

Bickley

Bromley Common

Crooked Billet 1928

Above photo, 1928, kindly sent by Maria Wilson.

Above photo after the bombing on 19th November 1944. Kindly sent by Maria Wilson.

Above photo after the bombing on 19th November 1944. Kindly sent by Maria Wilson.

 

The "Crooked Billet," started life as a farmhouse in a building dating from 1617. There was a race course nearby on Bromley Common. When the races were in progress there was a great demand for beer, which was supplied from this house. As the house had no cellars, barrels were put under the hedge and tapped when the race-goers arrived. The first licence for the pub was granted around 1785.

Until almost 1930 the "Crooked Billet" was a beer house only but a Wine Licence was then obtained and in 1935 the house was licensed to sell spirits. In 1937, it was decided to build a new "Crooked Billet" behind the original building. This opened on 22nd June 1938. It was this building which was destroyed by a V2 rocket on 19th November 1944. 27 people were killed and many more injured.

After the war, it was not possible to rebuild the pub immediately so a shed was constructed next to the ruins and was a fully licensed "Crooked Billet." The temporary Crooked Billet, in a shed, opened on 10th February 1950.

Crooked Billet shed 1951

Above photo, 1951.

The original farmhouse was demolished when the new Crooked Billet was opened in 1938.

When the new Crooked Billet was opened in 1957, it was the fourth version of the pub on the same site in 20 years. The other versions being the original one, the 1938 version and the shed version. This may be a record!

The pub was not rebuilt until 1956/57 and it opened on 10th July 1957. The building was a replica of the one destroyed in 1944 and in fact incorporated some of the fabric of that original building which survived the blast, particularly at the rear of the building, and also some of its distinctive chimneys.

The above information was kindly supplied by Jennie Randall, who goes on to say:- "My book about the disaster is called "Not Forgotten - The Crooked Billet" and is priced at 4.00 (plus p&p of 65p). It is available by calling 07840-542261. All the money raised goes to Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre at Biggin Hill.

 This new building is now (2019) operating as a "Harvester" restaurant.

 

 

Kentish Mercury, Friday 27 February 1891.

A New Cemetery at Bromley.

A meeting of the inhabitants of the ecclesiastical parish of St. Luke's, Bromley Common, was held in the Institute on Monday evening, Mr. Chapman in the chair, when it was resolved that Mr. Chapman, M. H. Hodder, P. Harper, R. Peill, W. Judd, H. Podger, H. Hirst, W. Brown, and Rev. R. I. Woodhouse be the Burial Board for the parish, with power to acquire 4 acres of land behind the "Crooked Billet" beer house in Southborough Road for the purpose of a cemetery, at a cost of 730, and two chapels with caretaker's house be built, at a cost not exceeding 800. A table of fees was also adjusted, and the Board was empowered to borrow 3,000 at 3 and a half percent.

 

From the https://www.newsshopper.co.uk By Robert Fisk, 21st May 2011.

Plaque to remember V2 rocket attack victims to be unveiled at Crooked Billet.

Today a plaque is set to be unveiled at the site of Bromley’s worst Second World War attack. ROBERT FISK speaks to people about their memories of what happened when the V2 rocket hit the Crooked Billet pub.

During the evening of November 19, 1944, the Crooked Billet was full of people enjoying a night out until it became a scene of devastation.

Twenty-seven people were killed when the V2 rocket fell on the pub in Southborough Lane, Bickley, and dozens of others were seriously injured.

Among the injured was RAF flying instructor Ray Holledge who had been there celebrating his mother’s 57th birthday.

She was killed in the blast and the rest of his family sustained injuries.

Ray Holledge

News Shopper: Ray Holledge was injured in the V2 rocket attack.

Mr Holledge, of Barnet Wood Road, Hayes, said: “I was just about to leave [when] they called me back because I had left my flying gloves behind.

“We did not hear the rocket coming, it was silent.

“There was so much glass flying around, it was horrific.

“It was pretty nasty in the family but some of us survived, thank God but sadly mum did not.”

The 88-year-old added: “It is all very nice that people are remembering it because it was so long ago.”

David Gregg’s friend Reginald Groves was on leave on the night of the attack and was having a drink in the pub with his girlfriend.

The stoker on the HMS Daffodil had survived being torpedoed twice while fighting in the war but was killed in the blast.

David Gregg

News Shopper: David Gregg's friend was killed in the blast.

Mr Gregg, 88, said: “The risks of being in the navy are so great that to come home for a simple thing like to see a girlfriend, it’s just fate.

“Every Armistice and service I attend I think of all the people that I knew who died in the war.”

The Gillmans Road, Orpington, resident added: “I think of everybody that I have lost and those I did not know.

“I’m looking forward to being at the service on May 21.”

Sheila Mitchell, who was 11 at the time, was getting ready for bed in her house in nearby Parkfield Way when the rocket fell.

She said: “I was scared.

“The ceiling fell on top of me and when we got outside there was a bus and it had no wheels on it.

“There were a lot of dead people lying around.”

Mrs Mitchell says the blast destroyed much of her house so her family had to live in their air raid shelter.

The 76-year-old, who now lives in Dartmouth Road, Hayes, added: “I think a lot of people do not know what happened.

“I think it will be good that the history will be brought back to life.”

Melvyn Odell

News Shopper: The force of the blast cracked the windows of Melvyn Odell's house.

The force of the blast cracked the windows of Melvyn Odell’s house around a mile away in Fairway, Petts Wood.

Mr Odell, who was seven at the time, said: “It was strangely unreal and it was something I thought did not really happen and it was most peculiar.

“There was no sense of alarm, it was just ‘Oh Gosh’.”

The plaque will be unveiled at 11am today.

Crooked Billet plaque

 

From the https://www.newsshopper.co.uk By Euan O'Byrne Mulligan, 8th October 2019.

Local historian marks anniversary of Bromley pub bombing which killed 27.

A local historian is marking the 75th anniversary of a WWII pub bombing in Bromley which claimed the lives of 27 people.

On Sunday November 19, 1944, a V2 rocket was fired from the hook of Holland, reaching the forecourt of the "Crooked Billet" on Southborough Lane after a six minute journey.

The blast devastated the pub and a 300 yard radius, killing 27 people and wounding dozens more, in what was the largest single incident for casualties in Bromley throughout the war.

Jennie Randall, local historian and author of the book 'Not Forgotten – The Crooked Billet', has collected local memories of the tragedy to share at a talk next month.

William Jessop, who lived on Parkfield Way, less than 100 yards from the pub, said: “It was a cold, dark night with very low cloud and drizzle.

"There was no street lighting, with all the houses blacked out, as required by war time regulations.

"During the evening we could hear the dance band music from the Billet dance hall.

"Suddenly, there was a very big explosion, followed by complete silence, followed by the noise of the rocket engine.

"We could also hear the screams of people and heavy debris, including large pieces of concrete from the pub car park, thrown over the pub roof to land on our houses”.

Amongst the victims were rescue workers, killed or injured as the unstable ruins of the pub roof collapsed onto them.

The Crooked Billet, which still functions as a pub today, was almost completely destroyed, as were an adjacent row of cottages on Southborough Lane.

Major structural damage was caused to many local properties, as well as a number 94 bus, parked nearby, which had its roof ripped off by the force of the blast.

It was not until 2.30pm the following afternoon that the last of bodies of those killed were retrieved.

Kath Ricketts said: “I ran round there to be met by this tragic sight.

"The ARP, police and ambulance men were all working hard to get people out of the rubble, stretchers taken to ambulances, but many were already dead.

"The crowd stood in silence, shocked at what they were seeing.”

Sixty-six years after the incident, in 2011, a blue plaque was unveiled on the rebuilt Crooked Billet in memory of all those killed and injured.

Jennie Randall will be giving a talk at Petts Wood Library on November 15 at 2.15pm.

 

 

LICENSEE LIST

OSBORNE Thomas 1832-44+

FILBY John 1869+

STYLES J 1870-76+

STYLES H Boas 1877-80

ROFFEY George 1880

LAYTON J 1890+

EVANS T 1892+

PENNICOTT F E 1896-1906

KNOWLES E 1906-14

SMITH Henry (Harry) Augustus 1914-44

https://pubwiki.co.uk/CrookedBillet.shtml

 

If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-

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