Barnehurst, Bexley

Comfortable commuter belt territory situated north-east of Bexleyheath

Hidden London: 39 Barnehurst Road

The May Place estate had been in existence since the 15th century and in the hands of the Barne family from 1750. In the latter part of the 19th century the house was occupied by Colonel Frederick Barne, who was also chairman of the Bexleyheath Railway Company. ‘Hurst’ used to mean a ‘woody bank’, but the Barnehurst name was simply an invention for a station in the middle of nowhere.

Only 15 people lived with half a mile of the station when it opened in 1895 and not a single first class season ticket was sold for over ten years (presumably Colonel Barne got his free).

The lane that served the station was called Hills and Holes until the 1920s, when it was renamed Barnehurst Road and 600 homes were put up on land acquired from Michael Barne. Shops were built on Midfield Parade in 1928.

WH Wedlock, builders of the May Place estate, published a brochure with the intro­ductory direc­tions: “When arriving at Barnehurst by rail from London, cross over the stile into the estate, just outside the station gate.” The brochure is avalable to view as a PDF at Barnehurst Online.

Wates were among the various developers to pitch in later, laying out the Barnehurst Park estate in 1933 on land to the south of Mayplace Road. With prices as low as £535 for a four-bedroom house, this was one of the most affordable new estates in London, although the fourth bedroom was less than eight feet by seven.

Barnehurst Cottage

The Red Barn public house opened in 1936 and developed a reputation as a venue for tradi­tional jazz in the 1940s.

Crayford urban district council acquired May Place in 1938, and what remains of it is now part of the clubhouse for Barnehurst golf course.

More than a thousand homes were damaged during the blitz, resulting in extensive rebuilding after the war.

The Red Barn remained the only licensed premises in Barnehurst until the Bird & Barrel opened a few doors away on Barnehurst Road in April 2018. This Bexley Brewery micropub has a house ale called Hills and Holes.

Modern Barnehurst is an ethnically uniform locality with 90 per cent of residents classified as white in the 2011 census (down from 95 per cent in 2001).

The poet Wendy Cope grew up in Barnehurst. ”My parents moved away in 1963. When I visited Erith a few years later, it was unrecognisable. Barnehurst had remained stolidly the same.” [Guardian, 5 May 2018]

Postcode area: Bexleyheath, DA7
Population: 10,418 (2011 census)
Station: Southeastern (Zone 6)
Further reading: Edward O Thomas, The Story of Barnehurst, Bexley Education and Leisure Directorate, 1998
Website: Barnehurst Online (infrequently updated but still an exemplary site)